Sunday, May 27, 2007

Mystery

Does your relationship with God contain within it the "mysteriousness" of God? If not, then perhaps you don't have an accurate view of Him. Worship is mysterious because God is mysterious. What is a "mystery," after all, but simply something we don't understand? I love this definition of the word mystery I came across:

Mystery: something that baffles understanding and cannot be explained...

I don't know about you, but that definitely describes the God I know and worship. He is totally and utterly "unfathomable." The more I get to know Him, the less I know about Him. I think an immature faith is one that looks for equations in religion and focuses on works. We are looking for the prescribed behavior we must do to get the desired response from God. "If I do this, then God will do this." However, we soon "graduate" to Christianity 102 and find out that God doesn't operate that way. That's called maturity.

Consider just a few of the mysteries of God:
- We worship Jesus...and we worship with Jesus
- God is both "full of Grace" and "full of Truth."
- God is both "Abba, Father" (Daddy, God), and an "all-consuming fire."
- God is both "near to us" and "far above us."
- God is both "Savior" and "Friend."

Most of us probably tend to gravitate towards one side of God's character or the other. However, we must know and worship the "whole God." You can't worship Him as Friend and ignore his Holiness. By the same token, you can't worship Him as a "Holy God" and yet ignore the fact that He desires intimacy with you.

The challenge: worship Him for ALL that He has revealed Himself to be. Don't take the mystery out of your relationship with God.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Two Great Hopes

There are two things which I hope more than anything.
1) That I can say with Paul, "My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day."
2) That I will hear God say to me, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter your rest."

How is this done? The question is, am I fully yielded to God's will for my life? Am I carrying out the "good works which [He] has prepared in advance for [me] to do?"

That question drives me, haunts me, motivates me, scares me, and so much more...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Let your 'Worship' testify

I was just reading in Acts a couple of days ago the account of Paul and Silas in prison. Amazing! Here they are, two guys, wrongly accused, "severely beaten with rods" and "flogged," thrown into the inner-most cell and put into stocks. So, what happened?

"About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them."

Now the miracle that follows is pretty amazing, and the end result of all this is that the jailer and his entire house are saved and baptized the following morning. However, I want to focus on this part of the passage - "the other prisoners were listening to them."

I read this and had to pause as I asked myself, "Self, have I ever sung songs and worshipped God among non-believers, and had them listen to me?" Then I took that a step further and came to this conclusion;

The point isn't to start singing in bars and public places. The point is to let your "worship" of God be a part of your witness. Worship is not just singing, it is a lifestyle! It is glorifying God in EVERYTHING you do! Colossians 3:23 says it perfectly:

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."

Remember as you go through your day to day, that everything you do is to be done as if you are working for the Lord...because you are! "...It is the Lord Christ you are serving."

Friday, May 11, 2007

Revelation and Response


(Title of the post taken from Matt Redman's book, Facedown).

The greatest challenge I face as a worship leader is this; how to help lead our congregation into the presence of God when we all speak a slightly different "worship language." The thing we have to understand is this: I don't lead worship, the Holy Spirit does. I love this definition of worship I heard many years ago from Dave Williamson (a writer/arranger of music):

"Worship is all that we are, responding to all that God has revealed Himself to be, empowered by the Holy Spirit."

There are some key points for us to see here!

1) "Worship is all that we are..." Worship requires ALL. We sing songs about this all the time, but I'm not sure if most of us (including myself) "live the talk" and "walk the walk?" Songs like "I Surrender All," "Take My Life," to name a couple. Worship is not something you can do "half-way." It's ALL that we are. This includes your emotions, your brain, your actions, and perhaps most challenging, your mind/will. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength..." - remember those words? That's Jesus talking. Heart (emotions), soul, mind (your will) and strength (your actions). In short, worship requires EVERYTHING.

2) "...responding to all that God has revealed Himself to be..." Worship is a response! Matt Redman paints this picture beautifully in two short books he wrote; The Heart of Worship Files and Facedown. Put simply, however, worship (what we do) is a response. We don't initiate worship, God does. We simply respond to Him. This begs a couple of questions;
- Is your worship an appropriate response to who God has revealed Himself to be? Do you worship whole-heartedly?
- Do you have an accurate picture of God or are you settling for something less? If you're like me, perhaps you often digress into a limited view of God. The 'dream-crusher' or 'joy-taker' or 'un-involved one.' Click here for some help on recapturing a true image of God.

3) "...empowered by the Holy Spirit." We do NOT initiate worship, God does. We cannot get to Him through our own efforts. The lyrics of a popular worship song help to put this into perspective:
"This is a gifted response,
Father we cannot come to You by our own merit
But we have come in the name of your Son
As He glorifies You
and in the power of Your Spirit."

Again, the question that must burn in the heart of every believer; "is your worship an accurate reflection and response of what God has done for you?" Or, put another way, if watching us worship were the thermometer of how great our God is, what would the reading be?

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Worship: It's not about...me

If this if your first time checking out this blog, read this first!

Music is personal...Worship is personal...why? Because our relationship's with God are personal. Nobody relates to God in exactly the same way so it makes sense to follow that no two people "worship" in exactly the same way. After all, worship, in one sense, is simply "expressing your love to God." When it comes to the "musical expression" of worship, the real fun begins.


Not all of us like it the same way. Some like the lights on, some like it dark with candles. Some like "fast, celebratory" music while others prefer "slow, introspective worship." Some prefer hymns while others prefer more contemporary songs, while still others prefer hymns sung like contemporary songs. Some like singing songs "about God," some like singing songs "to God," while still others like singing songs that "teach us theology." Some will only worship standing up, while others like to sit. Some are very outwardly expressive while others prefer to think and meditate on the music. Some of us dance, some of us don't, and some of us wish we could dance but don't...well, you get the point.

What is the point? What is a poor old worship leader to do? Try and to a little of everything in order to please the greatest number of people? Mix it up? Do some of everything?

To be sure, as a worship leader, I do try to do a number of different types of things in order to help people "Connect to God." However, if it ends there, we miss the point.

And What is the point? Worship is not about me!

When we come to corporately worship God, all of us must leave our preferences at the door and realize that the only true audience is the audience of 1; Jesus Christ. And what is it that he wants from us in worship? He wants us to worship in "spirit and truth."

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Worship Matters

Welcome to "Worship Matters." It's a two-part blog because "worship does matter" and a place to discuss "worship matters." Here you can find the latest things in the heart of me, Mike Weston...things that relate to worship, that is. Who am I? I lead the Worship Arts Ministry at Northlake Community Church in Bellingham, WA.

As you read, know a couple of things:

1) I don't have all the answers...in fact, the more I grow and the older I get, the more I realize how little I know about God. He is so huge, and this thing called "worship" is so big, I am more, often than not, speechless.

2) I welcome your comments.

3) This blog will serve three main purposes. First I hope you the reader get to know more about the Worship Arts Ministry at Northlake and even more, what goes on in my heart. Second, this blog is a place for me to "think out loud" about worship. Not every post will be a well documented, researched, theologically correct and supported argument. Many posts will be just "out loud thoughts." The third purpose is for me to have a place to share an encouraging word with others.

Well, there you have it! Let's get blogging!

The Names of God

In Worship, we respond to who God has revealed Himself to be. In case you're like me and you often settle for a "slim" view of God, here's some help...

The Names of God - and by the way, this is not even an exhaustive list.

God Almighty
God All Sufficient
The Lord will Provide
The Lord who Heals
The Lord Our Banner
The Lord Who Sanctifies
The Lord Our Peace
The Lord Our Righteousness
The Lord Our Shepherd
The Lord is There
The Lord of Hosts
The Lord is Salvation
Most High
Mighty One
Holy One
Judge
God of Seeing
Jealous
Deliverer
Savior
Redeemer
Shield
Strength
Righteous One
Everlasting God
God of the Covenant
Mighty God
God our Rock
The Sun of Righteousness
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father
Prince of Peace
Ancient of Days
King
The Angel of the Lord
Father
The First and the Last
Godhead
Highest
Christ
Messiah - "The Anointed One"
Shepherd of the Sheep
Master
King of Kings
Lord of Lords
Bishop and Guardian of our Souls
Daystar
Deliverer
Advocate
Second Adam
Branch
Chief Cornerstone
Emmanuel - "God With Us"
First Born
Head of the Body
Physician
Rock
Root of Jesse
Stone
Chief Apostle
Great High Priest
Author and Finisher of our Faith
Lamb of God
Lamb Slain before the Foundation of the World
Lord God Almighty.
Jesus
“I am”
Amen!

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