As I read this past week I felt as though I was standing in Jim Bakker’s shoes. Not that I pretend to know what he went through but I had his title of his latest book on the forefront of my mind. I WAS WRONG.
I looked at worship as a place to be enthusiastic and a place to let loose. I looked at following the contemporary scene as the more ‘right’ way to lead worship.
Dawn makes it clear that the totality of the service is what worship is not just the music. If we are focused on the music then we’ve already fallen short of knowing what true worship is. Worship is more like a symphany coming together than a jam session. It has details, thought, artistry, planning, and charisma.
It has been said that Satan does his best work from within the church. If I skip the backbitting, gossip, insubordination, selfishness etc… and I go to how Satan has divided the church from within. I’m not sure what’s worse that we have left a generation to worship alone or the fact that we’re okay with it. Dawn expresses the magnitude of this mistake by saying that we need both young and old to make the church flourish like it should. She talked of the one person who’s been away and comes back, that person needs a mentor. She spoke of singing a song she didn’t like to work through her own distastes without sacrificing substance.
I need to not look at what other churches are doing or what is the best way to market Jesus but look, listen and feel what the Spirit of God is telling me. I keep coming back to the word balance. If we humble ourselves before God and are obedient in what direction he’s telling us to go we won’t get lost nor left behind.
It is the paramount that we keep God centered in our worship. Unfortunately it becomes increasingly difficult when in our culture we look ourselves as to what more ‘we’ can give to God. We have this desire to one up the next church, or be the next big thing because God will like that. Simon Chang makes a great point concerning our efforts towards God, when he said, “And all we do is give back to You What always has been yours”.
After reading for this week’s assignment, the one word that stood out was ‘value’. What is the value we place upon worship? What is the value we place upon the church, prayer, others, etc…?
I think that the church has come to a point where worship is only for a time frame not something that we do daily. Worship needs to be something that we aren’t satisfied with for only going facedown for 45 minutes. We need to ‘value’ not just those 45 minutes on a Sunday but everyday we should be worshipping the Creator. “…We have it all wrong if we think Christianity is about being good enough”
Dawn makes a great point that we need to involve everyone that we can in the act of corporate worship. We often forget that a person making a banner is just as integral as the person playing the guitar. A person who arranges a dance or a drama can have as much to do with worship as the vocalists. If we begin to lift up the person for the act of worship they do then we have lowered the God we praise to our standards.
If we as a church ever hope to get back to foundational principles of God and keeping Him at the center then we have to look at ourselves in how and what we are teaching. Dawn also says that fathers play an important role in how their children see worship. Prayer and education is the only way that we can effectively involve not on ly the fathers but everyone in the corporate service. We don’t have to be the worship leader to lead worship. If we begin to constantly look at what is directing our spiritual compass then we won’t be amiss if God is our True North.
A couple of mornings ago I had a dream about an old girlfriend. If you are in a relationship or marriage you know that that is not a good thing. I love my wife of 8 years with all of the heart that God gave me. Sure, we have had our ups and downs but now we feel that we are closer than we have ever been and we are enjoying our journey together.
This dream was short but it was powerful. I saw me leaving my wife and my old girlfriend leaving her husband. The two of us were okay with it and we got back together. I awoke that morning and felt kind of weird. It was about 6:30am and while I was eating breakfast, reading ‘A Royal Waste of Time’, the Lord showed me the definition of the dream. He said “I am not asking you to leave your wife and family nor you old girlfriend. I am showing you that my people need to comeback to their first love. If people would love me like their first love they would worship me from their hearts.”
It was a powerful picture. But, it made total sense. I think back to middle school, and high school where relationships came and went. I also think of the power of those relationships. What we would give up to be with that person. We would try to walk on water to be with them. Every waking minute was tried to be spent with them. Every day was planned around seeing that person. The future was talked about as if it was set in stone. When you’d get married, how many kids you’d have, etc… were a few of the topics a young couple in love covers.
Now after two children and eight years of marriage how things have changed. Sometimes we see each other for about 20 hours total all week. We do have to catch ourselves and make sure we are expressing our love towards each other. We have to be careful that we don’t let the tasks of everyday life divide our marriage. Which in today’s day and age is not hard to do with all kinds of commitments pulling relationships in totally different directions.
God wants his first love back which is you and me. Will we drive half an hour to meet with God for 10 minutes? Would we schedule our day around us meeting with God? Will we call him even if we have nothing to say? We will call him just to hear him breathe, bettery yet for him just to hear us breathe.
I have been reading a book called A Royal Waste of Time by Marva Dawn. I also have been reading a book called Facedown by Matt Redman. Both are proving to be enlighting to what worship is really about.
In the past week, God has become even more vast than my previous perception. Rob Bell has a quote that he uses in his DVD “Everything is Spiritual”, where he says, “the weirdness of the bigness”. Right now that is summing up what I am recognizing about God. God is not so shallow to be confined to love. He’s not evil to let his judgment define him. One of the hardest concepts to grasp is the statement in Exodus 3 where God says to Moses “I AM”. He is love, yet he’s judgement. He’s Grace, yet he’s mercy. He’s the past the present and the future. When the church has the theology that God is only one thing, then God is placed in a box and his arms are tied. Yet the opposite can be true. If the church believes that God is this free roaming vapor who does what he pleases then God has no structure. It is only when we look at God with the balance of freedom and structure, can we learn the true nature and character of God.
Many times worship can become out of balance because the church has lost sight of the character of God. When the church chooses to follow the next best thing, or stay in the rut of yesteryear it begins to die. It has been said what God meant for transition we have made tradition. When the postmodern church throws out the hymns for songs of the radio it becomes no different than the church who fails to add to their hymnal Repertoire.
Illumination is the only word to describe what happened as I learned about liturgical responsive reading. The responsive reading is almost a forced revelation of who God is and what he is done. It also gives a forced response. The worst part is that liturgical churches did their best to keep God centered. They also didn’t allow for any deviation from their format. Therein lie the great shift from liturgical worship to contemporary worship.
Instead of moving a few meters from center the church almost divided itself in half. The good thing is that by pulling away from where you stand you can look objectively at where you were. The danger is that pulling away creates a vacuum.
All throughout history there has been a pendulum swinging. The key is for church to come back to where it first began. Given the day we live in that is not going to happen. The key would be to come back to the center and maintain a balance from getting to far left and too far right.
On Friday and Saturday I had the opportunity to learn about the theology of worship. The concepts of what worship does, what it is and what it looks like were introduced. The most eye-opening concept is the two parts of worship. Revelation and response.
Having not attended a liturgical church before, responsive readings were a bit lifeless and mundain to me. After being invovled in Christ Community ( a liturgical service) I now can see the balance of keeping God centered not only in the music part of the service but the service as a whole.
Walking away from the first module of Presence the Lord showed me that I have not been paying attention to his goodness of the past. I have been fretting over I what I don’t have now or can’t see in the future. It was enlightening to begin to understand a theology of worship is more than simply music, or a church service. Walking away actually having an understanding that God is much bigger than a 4 song set and the he loved me when I was born and he loves me today and he loves me on my journey closer to him