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Sermon: IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH – A Lesson in the Nature of Worship by Nik Godshall

by Nik Godshall

Excellent message! Listen to the sermon: In Spirit and in Truth.

June 14, 2015 @ Times Square Church, NYC – This is a teaching of the nature of worship. Worship is an ever increasing surrender of our affections to Jesus Christ inspired by the wonder of His love. True worshipers feel safe to be vulnerable and dwell in an ever increasing honesty before God. Worship is not about emotional escape it’s about spiritual transformation.

The most important lesson I have learned and am still learning. – Nik Godshall

Reference Verses & Notes

Jesus and a Samaritan Woman

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give will never be thirsty. The water I give will become a spring of water gushing up inside that person, giving eternal life.”

15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so I will never be thirsty again and will not have to come back here to get more water.”

16 Jesus told her, “Go get your husband and come back here.”

17 The woman answered, “I have no husband.”

Jesus said to her, “You are right to say you have no husband. 18 Really you have had five husbands, and the man you live with now is not your husband. You told the truth.”

19 The woman said, “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that Jerusalem is the place where people must worship.”

21 Jesus said, “Believe me, woman. The time is coming when neither in Jerusalem nor on this mountain will you actually worship the Father. 22 You Samaritans worship something you don’t understand. We understand what we worship, because salvation comes from the Jews. 23 The time is coming when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, and that time is here already. You see, the Father too is actively seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

25 The woman said, “I know that the Messiah is coming.” (Messiah is the One called Christ.) “When the Messiah comes, he will explain everything to us.”

26 Then Jesus said, “I am he—I, the one talking to you.”  ~ John 4:13-26, NCV

A Living Sacrifice (Give Your Lives to God)

12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. ~ Romans 12:1-2, NCV

Worship is a response…. When you understand the WAY that God loves you, worship becomes a natural response – you can not help but to love Him. Worship is a lifestyle. 24/7 thing… all day everyday.

Worship is  a process. There are some things that you have to learn to surrender. Coming to Jesus is the most freeing, wonderful privilege we get to enjoy as Christians. This type of worship takes honestly. Honesty is the birthplace of genuine worship.

The natural reaction to vulnerability is put up walls and wear a mask. He longs for unwalled worship. Surrendering brings healing. Sometimes we use our pain as an excuse to stay closed down.

Jesus will never betray you with what He knows about you. He will never use the truth about you to shame you. He will only use it to heal you. Only. If healing involves pain, He will not apologize for that. If He must cause you pain, shame is not the objective; healing is. Jesus will never betray you with what He knows about you. 

What is boils down to is trust. The safest place in the world is an honest relationship with Jesus Christ. – Nik Godshall

In Spirit and In Truth = New Life and Honesty

God Knows Everything

23 God, examine me and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any bad thing in me.
    Lead me on the road to everlasting life.  ~ Psalm 139:23-24

A Song of Victory

You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great. ~ Psalm 18:35, ESV

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All that glitters is not gold.

EFF Group shot 2000-2009
I had a great time this weekend. I had been looking forward to seeing and meeting people who had shared the same rare opportunity as me – working for the Johnson Publishing Company as an Ebony Fashion Fair Model (EFF). I had always considered the Ebony Fashion Fair as my sorority – a sisterhood of shared fashion and entertainment memory. Of shared childhood dreams of modeling and becoming part of the history of an iconic American brand (Ebony Magazine) that came to represent everything that was dream worthy to Black America. It has been a joy and a pleasure to have had the EFF as one of the many opportunities God has colored and tailored my life with.

That being said, I want to caution people who praise and over-admire the physical beauty of people.

The first time anyone ever called me “gorgeous” was when I was 25 and they had just learned that I would be modeling for Ebony Fashion Fair. That memory has stayed with me all these years. It has grounded me. I had worked in the same office as that woman for over a year and she had never as much as spoken to me. I didn’t ask at the time, but I certainly thought, “Am I only ‘gorgeous’ because you perceive models to be gorgeous and now that someone will pay me to wear clothes that makes me attractive?”

It was a disturbing idea for me. My time with EFF was discombobulating for that very reason. I never thought anyone ever saw ME. They saw a brand. They saw an image. They did not see, nor did they want to see LA’SHAWNDA.

Many beautiful people buy into the adulation of other people. I don’t consider myself a physically beautiful person. And I’m okay with that. I would prefer for my beauty to always shine from the inside. And with that, people who share parts of my life may describe me as a beautiful person after they have taken the time to get to know ME. After they’ve invested TIME, not blind, worthless admiration, to get to know and appreciate LA’SHAWNDA the person.

I’m sharing this because one question and follow-up question to a few people this weekend caused a cat-storm to rain over my head last night. My question: “How are you doing?”

Each replied in different conversations: “Great!!!”

Each time I asked: “Is that a real great?” It didn’t quite ring true. (Cue cats.)

They each assured me: “I am absolutely great! Everything’s wonderful!”

Last night one of girls, after several drinks, started complaining to a mutual friend of ours, as I stood there, that I was a Debbie-downer. Suddenly everything about my outfit was wrong, I needed a wardrobe make-over, my wig was horrible and needed to be retired. “Why would you ask someone if their ‘great’ was real,” this person snapped at me.

“Why would someone tell me they’re ‘great’ if they’re not,” I replied.

I’ve said this before and I will continue to say it: You can’t have a real conversation with people who are sharing false information.

If my asking someone if their “‘great’ is a real ‘great'” leads to me being attacked, well… the attack sort of answers my question. If my sitting on the floor for a crowded group picture leads to half the women in the photo gasping in horror and a couple of other folks telling me how crazy I am for doing that, then the shallowness of their superficiality is beyond my ability to explain or even understand.

I say this because people who only receive and appreciate validation based on how they look are only ever going to be concerned with the image they portray and how other people view them. There will be nothing more important to them than the illusion they create for their public’s consumption. The illusion of their fabulosity. The falseness of their greatness.

My responses when people I knew asked me how I was:  “I’m good. No real complaints.”

“Do you really mean that?” (Attempt to give me some of my own medicine.)

“Yeah. There’s always the fact that I don’t have a man or children, but life has been good to me. My biggest complaint this week is that I couldn’t take another week off work. Is that really a problem?”

“What do you do?”  

“I’m an administrative assistant.”

End of conversation. They got more truth than they expected. But I had no issue with speaking my truth. i do what I do. I am who I am. It is what it is. And LIFE IS GOOD!

My point here is: Truth and honesty about who/where you are in life contributes more to your life satisfaction than projecting greatness. Once the lights go off, can people still see you? Were you truly emanating light? Or were you only reflecting the artificial light from the depths of your emptiness?

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Saved from Nice

nice (ex. make nice)

  1. pleasing; agreeable; delightful
  2. to behave in a friendly, ingratiating, or conciliatory manner

Usage note
The semantic history of “nice”  is quite varied…. If any criticism is valid, it might be that the word is used too often and has become a cliché lacking the qualities of precision and intensity that are embodied in many of its synonyms.


  1. charming; agreeable; pleasing
  2. deliberately meant to gain favor

I’m something of a blunt speaker. And truthfully, the deeper I go with Christ the bolder my words become. And guess what? I don’t care what you think about it. If you disagree, I simply look forward to the stimulating conversation to follow – that is, if you’re strong enough in your view point to allow discourse.

Before the shift in my spiritual life took place, which was also pre-New York, I was well known as a “nice” girl with a very diplomatic tongue. My diplomacy has since all but disappeared. Which sometimes puts me in uncomfortable situations. As a result, I am now trying to adjust for the lack of diplomacy by only speaking my viewpoint when asked. This year has been a great training in holding my tongue – a much needed lesson in temperance. However, at the same time I have been saved from being “nice”.

“Nice” translates to dishonest to me. Generally, people try to be “nice” and avoid hurting your feelings by misrepresenting their feelings, their thoughts, their ideas. They misrepresent who they are. Because they are being “nice”, you end up interacting with a false representative. They smile at you, laugh with you, offer you assistance and ask about events in your life. Unless you are truly discerning, you don’t realize the smile is insincere, the laugh is hollow, they never intend to follow-through on their offer and they hope you will simply say everything is fine and go on your way.” That’s what nice people do. They want you to think of them in a pleasing way. Honest people want you to see them as they are – the good,  the beautiful, the bad and the ugly and all that lies in between.

“Nice” does not equal genuine.

“Nice” does not equal truthful or honest.

“Nice” does not equal kind.

kind –adjective, -er, -est

  1. of a good or benevolent nature or disposition, as a person
  2. indulgent, considerate, or helpful; humane
  3. mild; gentle; clement; loving; affectionate

I would much rather be known as a kind person.

A couple of months ago, I got into a debate about transparency (i.e. honesty) in communication and relationships. My position: be honest no matter where you are. Good, bad or indifferent.

The couple attacking my position were all for image control. Sharing only what they wanted someone to know about them, as they saw no reason for people to know much of anything about them.

There was another couple present and they were in favor of honesty and transparency in relationships. The woman said this and it’s been sitting with me ever since, “A person with a transparent life would not be able to communicate effectively with a person who is intent on hiding. The one is completely exposed and the other isn’t open to sharing. There’s nowhere to go in that relationship.”

When she said that, it seemed like a key had been revealed regarding my difficulty with people. Many people we interact with are too intent on hiding (their nature, lifestyle, preferences, activities, etc) to be honest about who they are or where they are in life. They don’t want you to know this, that or the other. They don’t want you to judge them lacking, unworthy or unloveable. They don’t want you to reject them, so they close themselves off and present only their public persona. Unfortunately, they’re doing themselves a grave disservice by not allowing for the opportunity to be accepted for who they truly are. Instead, they heap on reasons to avoid contact with them altogether.

Every once in a while, someone suggests to me that being “nice” is Christian. I always reply that “nice” is not mentioned once in the Bible. At which point they always appear shocked. Jesus wasn’t nice. He was honest about who He was, where He was and what His purpose was. When He was angered, the offenders were told immediately, when He was pained He talked and cried it out. He didn’t say one thing and mean another. And people who double-spoke to Him were usually called out for their effort. Yet, He was a kind, loving and compassionate person. We can be that too!

There’s so much freedom in simply being who you truly are. When you are true to your faith, beliefs, feelings – when you are honest about your experiences  – you are implicitly acknowledging the gifts God has graced you with. I am so glad I’ve been saved from being “nice” and have accepted the freedom of being who I am in Christ.