Thursday, January 31, 2008

Worship Matters has a New Home

For those of you faithful viewers, this blog has a new home.
- www.worshipmatters.net
You can still use the old address; www.worshipgodalone.blogspot.com - but why? It's so long? just type in worshipmatters.net and you're there, or here!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Puritan Prayer - Consecration

A few months ago our senior pastor sent me a copy of a "Puritan Prayer" that had moved him and he asked that I find a way to use it in a service. Well, I finally was able to incorporate in our worship this past Sunday and many people have asked for a copy of the prayer. So, here its...

Puritan Prayer - Consecration

O Lord Jesus,

I grieve over my coldness, poverty, emptiness, imperfect vision, languid service, prayerless prayers, praiseless praises.

Do not allow me to resist Thee.

Come as power, to expel every rebel lust, to reign supreme and keep me Thine;
Come as teacher, leading me into all truth, filling me with all understanding;
Come as love, that I may adore the Father, and love him as my all;
Come as joy, to dwell in me, move in me, animate me;
Come as light, illuminating the Scripture, molding me in its laws;
Come as sanctifier, body, soul and spirit wholly Thine;
Come as helper, with strength to bless and keep, directing me every step;
Come as beautifier, bringing order out of confusion, loveliness out of chaos;

Magnify to me Thy glory by being magnified in me, and make Thy fragrance be also mine.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Worship in 2008

This past Sunday I shared with our congregation some of my 'worship hopes and dreams' for our church in 2008, and I thought I'd post them here.

1) I pray that we as a congregation would grasp the truth that worship is first and foremost for GOD. It is not for us, but it is for Him. So often comments about worship, about the service, about song selection or style reveal that we, the worshippers, become the object of our own worship. In essence, the worship experience becomes about us. That's backwards. Psalm 134 lays out the correct order of worship for all believers;

"Come, bless God, all you servants of God! You priests of God, posted to the nightwatch in God's shrine, Lift your praising hands to the Holy Place, and bless God. In turn, may God of Zion bless you — God who made heaven and earth!"

See the order? First, we bless God...second, in turn, may God bless us. However, the success or quality of worship is NOT dependant on God's blessing us. Sometimes we may soar to the highest heights in worship, other times we may be in the depths. We may at times get on an emotional high or be driven to tears in worship while at other times, we may feel nothing. Either way, we can still fully worship God and enjoy His presence because...

2) ...what God looks for in a worshipper is NOT what man looks at. In John 4 Jesus, the object of our worship tells us exactly what God the Father desires in worship;

"a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth"

God is looking for those who worship Him in Spirit and in truth. What does this mean? It means many things, but in short,

worship in truth = worshipping TO and THROUGH Jesus. There is only one way to God, and it's through Jesus Christ. Any worship that exalts Christ exalts the Father and is true worship. But worshipping in truth goes beyond this as well; to worship in truth means to worship Him accurately. It means worshipping God for who HE has revealed Himself to be...worshipping Him fully, in truth.

worship in spirit (or "in the Spirit") = worshipping from the heart, from the soul. It goes beyond emotion to encompass all that we are. Remember a couple of things; first, the context of this command was in response to a woman who thought you had to be in a certain place to worship. Jesus responds by, in essence saying, it doesn't matter where you are...it's not about location, form, style, liturgies...it's not about what you do. True worship is all encompassing, or, from the heart. Secondly remember that in Romans we are told to "offer your bodies as living sacrifices...this is your spiritual act of worship" (Romans 12:1).

As one worship leader put it, worship is "all that we are, responding to all that God has revealed Himself to be, empowered by the Holy Spirit."

3) Worship is God initiated and God enabled. He calls us, He reveals Himself to us, and we respond to Him. That response is called Worship. The more He reveals, the more we see, and the more we see, the greater our response. On the corporate level, that response most often takes the form of music, but that is not the only form of worship. The Matt Redman song "Seeing You" captures this thought below;

This is a time for seeing and singing
This is a time for breathing You in
And breathing out Yourpraise
Our hearts repsond to Your revelation
All you are showing, all we have seen
Commands a life of praise
No one can sing of things they have not seen
God, open our eyes towards a greater glimpse
The glory of You, the glory of You
God, open our eyes towards a greater glimpse
Worship starts with seeing You
Worship starts with seeing You
Our hearts respond to Your revelation

My dream for 2008? That we become a body of believers that sets aside diversity and preferences and instead embrace the vision of living in unity and worshipping in such a way as to bring maximum glory to God. In short, to respond to Him in the most appropriate way...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The High Calling

So 2008 was off to a great start: I was actually doing the things I'd set out to do and then, wham...stomach flu. It's amazing how something like being sick can just suck the life out of you; especially when working to make a fresh start on a new year. Needless to say, I am left with two choices; 1) give up until Jan 1, 2009 when I can start again or 2) start again now. The jury's out on which of these things will happen, but I'm pushing for #2. :-)

I spent a few minutes the other day reading through my moleskin journal and came across this quote I wrote down awhile ago; "Your entire life should be characterized by an eagerness to maintain unbroken fellowship and oneness with God." Oswald Sanders

This quote must have struck me when I wrote it down, and it has struck me again for a number of reasons; 1) In a nutshell, it's what I want, 2) It's a simple goal (but hard to achieve), 3) it speaks to the heart of something that I (and you) am dying for...a relationship with God that is 'unbroken.' I want to know Him...I mean really KNOW HIM, and perhaps even beyond that, I want to be "known" by Him. During Christmas as I spent a lot of time reading through the Christmas accounts, I was constantly struck by the phrase the angel greeted Mary with; "Greetings, you who are highly favored. The Lord is with you. (Luke 1:28)."

There are a lot of power-packed verses in the Bible, words that will stop us, change us, passages like John 3:16 that contain within them the mysteries of the world. These words, in my book, rank right up there. Can you imagine Mary, having an angel of God visit her and hail her as "you who are highly favored" and then tell her "the Lord is with you." Wow. That would be the ultimate...to have your name be known in heaven.

Now certainly, at one level, we are all known by God. He created us and certainly knows each one of us (John 10) but on another level, it's not every day that a messenger of God visits a human and calls us "highly favored." I'm pushing though, this year, to be "known" by God and to "know" Him. This year I strive to maintain that unbroken fellowship with Him, to learn to hear and follow His voice above the noise of the world.

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