Worship Defined

Worship is the submission of all of our nature to God.
It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness,
Nourishment of mind by His truth,
Purifying of imagination by His beauty,
Opening of the heart to His love,
And submission of will to His purpose.
And all this gathered up in adoration is the greatest of human
expressions of which we are capable.
-William Temple (Archbishop of Canterbury 1942-1944)
(Disciple by Bill Clem; p. 68)

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Entering His Presence

When we sing to the Lord, praise the Lord, pray to the Lord, exalt the Lord our God and Savior how often is it merely an exercise of the mind or heart?  “Merely”?  Sounds like worshiping God is being mocked by the use of the word.  Yet, Psalm 95 does give grounds for the use of the word “merely”.

The psalmist sings, “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock o our salvation!”  There is singing and joy and praise in this first verse, but the psalmist pushes on in verse two:

“Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!”  The thanksgiving and singing have a goal – coming into the presence of our Savior.  If our singing, praising, thanking, and joy are only of the heart and not with the intention of ushering us into the very presence of God we are falling short of the point of worship.  The point of worship is a Person, not just an experience or action regarding that Person.

In the sixth verse the psalmist hits the emphasis of entering into His presence: “Oh come, let us worship and bow down ; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!  Our adoration and worship of appreciation of our Maker is not supposed to be merely a cranial experience but something done before the Lord.

The entering into the presence of God should also have a real result: hearing His voice, knowing His voice, and obeying His voice.  If our praise is merely a matter of actions and not something done with the point of entering His presence, the Christian life can become one of rote ritual and not following the Person of Jesus Christ.  The Christian who is not in the habit of entering into His presence and delighting in Him may end up like the Israelite people:

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah…’They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not know my ways'” (Psalm 95:7, 10).

30 Seconds Before Church Starts

It’s Sunday morning. You step onto the stage and sit down at the piano or strap on your guitar. The songs you picked out earlier in the week have now been practiced well, the band is behind you tuning their instruments and the crowd is still stirring. In close to 30 seconds you will be leading the church in song.

Seconds for self or Jesus

Depending on the morning, you will usually have around 30 seconds to glance at the crowd before that awkward moment where everything goes silent. So, what do you do in that 30 seconds? Do you wink at your spouse? Do you head nod friends in the back? Do you exercise your OCD by tuning your guitar for the hundredth time? 

For me, these 30 seconds are some of the most precious in the life of my ministry. I am about to celebrate the glory of Jesus Christ and plead with others to behold him. I’m going to do this with a heart that, at times, wants glory for myself. I’m going to be leading in a room where the cross, for some, has no more meaning than shiny jewelry hung around their necks; a room where false gods can be created in an instant; a room where happiness can rule the day, not “joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Peter 1:8). 

Seconds of prayer for minutes of soulful worship

Do I feel the weight of all this at that moment? Do I understand my primary function is to pastor, not merely entertain (2 Chronicles 7:6)? What if we used this time to plead for the souls of the men and women in attendance? What if we asked the Lord to make us shine like the stars in the heavens for his glory, humbling us under his mighty hand and hiding us behind his cross? What if this morning was different? It will make all the difference for the next 30 minutes. 

(From the Resurgence article30 Seconds by Michael Bleecker)

Why Your Body Matters in Worship

There is an ongoing series of articles called The Theology of the Body by Gregg Allison that are addressing some often overlooked aspects of how the human body is not to be neglected in God’s plan.  I gave some excerpts from some of his earlier posts in my blog entry Theology of the Human Body. This latest entry is the entire blog entry entitled Why Your Body Matters in Worship.

When most Christians think of worshiping God, they imagine such activities as singing songs of praise and thanksgiving, listening to the Word of God read and preached, corporate prayer, and the like. Few would consider the role of their body in worship. Indeed, in a popular definition, worship is described as involving a person’s conscience, mind, imagination, heart, and will—with no mention of the human body!

Your Body in Physical Worship

Scripture, however, presents an active, physical involvement in worship: the raising of hands, indicative of both blessing God (Psa. 134:1) and pleading for his help and mercy (Psa. 28:1-2; 88:8-10); kneeling, bowing, and falling down, exhibiting humility and abject shame before the Lord (Rev. 4:9-11; 5:8-14; Ezra 9:5-6; 2 Chron. 6:12-14; Psa. 35:13-14; Neh. 8:5-6); dancing or leaping, manifesting intense joy (Psa. 149:3-4; Ex. 15:20-21; 2 Sam. 6:14-17); and clapping and shouting praise to God (Psa. 47:1-2; 66:1). Certainly, many cultural—including generational, ethnic, geographical, socio-economic, and denominational—realities must be considered in this discussion, but embodied human beings qualified to worship God “in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24) are to engage in this activity with the entirety of their being—and that includes their body.

Your Body in Baptism

Moreover, Jesus Christ ordained physical, tangible means by which he expresses and grants grace to his followers. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the two ordinances given by Christ to his church. The initial rite, baptism, is administered to new converts as a concrete portrayal of their entrance into a new covenant relationship with the triune God (Matt. 28:18-20); their identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (Rom. 6:3-5; Gal. 3:26-28); their cleansing from sin (Acts 26:16; 2:38); and their escape from divine judgment (1 Pet. 3:20-21). These mighty works of God are visibly depicted through baptism by immersion, a very physical act.

Your Body in the Lord’s Supper

The ongoing rite, the Lord’s Supper, is celebrated regularly by Christians as a concrete portrayal of the death of Jesus Christ—the loaf split in two, symbolizing his broken body; the cup of wine, representing his shed blood—and their participation in his blood and body (1 Cor. 10:16). As the church administers the Lord’s Supper, it “proclaims the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor. 11:26)—not a verbal proclamation, but an enacted portrayal of the gospel. The mighty work of Christ on behalf of sinners is visibly depicted through the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, a very physical act.

Your Body as a Living Sacrifice

Worship, then, involves bodily participation as Christians physically express their praise, confess their sins, plead for divine mercy, and exalt in God’s blessings, which are also tangibly exhibited by the concrete, tangible rites of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Unsurprisingly, then, Paul urges Christians “by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Rom. 12:1).

Worship Matters Book Review

“Worship matters. It matter to God because he is the one ultimately worthy of all worship. It matters to us because worshipping God is the reason for which we were created. And it matters to every worship leader, because we have no greater privilege than leading others to encounter the greatness of God.  That’s why it’s so important to think carefully about what we do and why we do it” (p 19).

Bob Kauflin has been in music ministry for over thirty years and his experience humbly shines through in this masterful book.  Worship Matters is more than a book about how to lead people musically and technique enhancement (though it does touch on those subjects). It continually takes aim at the heart of those involved in leading worship musically.  Kauflin navigates the sometimes fiery world of music styles and preferences with skill by holding to Scripture and not pushing any agenda besides seeing those involved come closer to Christ in order to better minister Christ to others and bring others to Christ.  Worship Matters is a must read for anyone interested in music – whether a novice or a veteran. I give it a solid 5 out of 5 stars.

Worship Matters Reading Schedule

Here is the Worship Matters (by Bob Kauflin) reading schedule for all you Oasis music worship team members, worship team “understudies”, and anyone else who is interested.

Fall Quarter

October 28th: Chapters 1-3
November 4th: Chapters 4-5
November 11th:  Chapters 6-7
November 18th: Chapters 8-10
November 25th: No Practice
December 2nd: Chapters 11-13

Winter Break: Finish Reading Part Two (Chapters 14-17)

Winter Quarter

January 6th: Chapters 14-17
January 13th: Chapters 18-19
January 20th: Chapters 20-22
January 27th: Chapters 23-25
February 3rd: Chapters 26-27
February 10th: Chapters 28-29
February 17th: Chapters 30-32

Rebecca Was E-Published (Again)!

LovingApparently my fiancee has some excellent writing skills.  So much that a major blog group has just e-published a second article of hers.

This is a very sweet article about romantic love and God’s love.  It is titled, “Romantic Love: A Form of Worship?