Friday, March 23, 2012

Why We Should Study Worship

During an old episode of the game-show Family Feud, the question was asked, "What is the most boring thing you do?"  The #1 answer was, "Survey!"
It's a sad commentary, but probably true more times than we care to admit.  I must confess that I have reached boredom more than a couple of times during a worship service....and I am the Worship Leader!!
I would wholeheartedly agree with this quote our preacher, Mike Root, gives to the congregation frequently, "If you didn't come to church to give, then you didn't come to worship."  My approach to the assembly is directly proportional to the level satisfaction I leave with.  Usually, my lack of fulfillment was no one's fault but my own.  I came looking to receive something rather than to give something.  Whether I truly worshp or not depends on what I bring to worship.  However...
You knew there was going to be a 'However' didn't you?
However, it is sad to me when individuals have to work so hard week after week to feel that they have worshiped acceptably, or to walk away charged up and ready to meet the next week head-on.
Dan Dozier said in his book, Come, Let Us Adore Him, p. 16, "Why should we tolerate services that demonstrate no planning week after week?  We should insist on better!...Is it good that the congregation be subjected to an order that is so routine that people can go through it half asleep and never miss a beat?"
Here's my take on it.  We can never stop exploring ways we can improve our worship.  I know, I know, when we explore worship it has the potential to open a can of worms, take us places we don't want to go, and just makes people uncomfortable.  Some people think it's threatening when we suggest we need to re-visit the current donctrinal stance or traditions of the congregation.  But if we are unwilling to study the Scriptures with openness, we may end up being guilty of simply defending the conclusions of the ones who studied the issues before we did.  If currently held positions are truly Biblical, they will stand up to any scrutiny, and we will be Biblically stronger for having had the study.
To NOT study this subject in the Scriptures is contrary to everything we teach.  Wasn't it Paul who told Timothy to "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15, NIV) or in the KJV, "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
The mantra of the current Generation (Generation X) is, "Question Everything!"  Wouldn't we be in a better position to answer those questions if we do an honest study of the spiritual beliefs we hold so dearly to.  When this generation (or for that matter, my generation) asks the question, "Why do we do the things that we do in our assembly?", they will NOT accept, "That's just the way we've always done things around here" as a legit answer.
Study your Bible, friends, God may be waiting to reveal something faith-building to you.
Explore the Scriptures with a fresh look, you will be a better worshipper for the effort!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

When We All Get To Heaven

The St. Louis area Churches of Christ have been getting together annually for many years now to enjoy a time of praise & worship.  This year's service took place this past Sunday at our church building.  And worship....we did!
The house was packed (an estimated 900+ total in attendance) with approximately 24 churches represented.  We sang our hearts out and enjoyed some spirited preaching from bro. Thomas Jackson.  Wow!  He really hit a home-run!  Thanks, my friend.
I also want to thank bro. Marlin Henley for not only leading us in prayer, but for being such an incredible example of Christian leadership and humility.  I love ya, Marlin.  You're an inspiration to me!
I had such a great time preparing for the event with the other folks who sang on the Praise Team with me, Brian and Amanda Owens, Adam Ray, Nancy Jantz, Stephanie Calkin, Karen Rasbury and Jessica Williamson (my lovely daughter).  You guys are such incredible servants.  It was a joy to work with people who know it's not about us, and who were so willing to let Jesus shine.
Thanks to Ken Fester for organizing all the child-care folks who took such great care of the children.
Thank you to Jeremy Picker and the area Youth Ministers for leading the worship for the teens.
And, last but not least....thank you Erika Pride for serving us, literally, after the worship with drinks and delicious desserts prepared by the Florissant ladies.
What a joy it was to have all the churches together.  I wish we could do this more often than once a year.  The sermon was moving, the fellowship was encouraging, and the singing was heavenly.  I couldn't stop thinking..."This is what heaven is gonna be like, I can't wait!"
Truly...."When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be!"

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


     Jehovah God is the only being deserving of our praise and adoration.  After the Israelites were delivered at the Red Sea, they sang, "Who is like thee, O Lord, among the gods?  Who is like thee, majestic in holiness worthy of awe and praise, who workest wonders?"  (Exodus 15:11 RSV).  Our GOD is an AWESOME GOD, is He not?  Worthy of all our praise and adoration!
     We were created to praise Jehovah God.  Isaiah 43:21 (Msg.) says, "...the people I made especially for myself, a people custom-made to praise me." (underline mine) That's why we were formed.  From the time we were conceived, and through the process of being formed by God while I was still in my mother's womb...I was being made for worship!  Have you ever asked yourself, "What's my purpose in life?"   Well, there it were made to worship!!
     Think about the story of begins with the heavenly host singing before the lowly shepherds....praising God in a concert, declaring, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." (Luke 2:13, 14  NIV)  And it ends in Revelation 19:1, "After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting:  'Hallelujah!  Salvation and glory and power belong to our God.'"
     Everything that has happened in between has been "for the praise of His glory" (Ephesians 1:12).
     I don't pretend to know everything there is to know about worship, but I do know this:  Worship is what I was made for, and God loves our worship in all its forms and sounds.  Our sincere praise brings glory to God, and God will pour out his blessings on those who praise Him, whether that praise is traditional or contemporary, hymns or choruses, vocal or instrumental, quiet or loud.  It's all praise to Him!
     When we begin to think 'our' worship is better than the church down the street, it is at that point that our worship has become about us and not about Jehovah God.  God will not tolerate a people who worship their worship.  He made us to worship HIM!
     A last thought:  There is an incredible story of unity (not uniformity) in 2 Chronicles 5.  When Solomon completed building the temple in Jerusalem, he "summoned  to Jerusalem the elders of Israel, all the heads of the tribes and the chiefs of the Israelite families, to bring up the ark of the Lord's covenant from Zion, the City of David." (2 Chr. 5:2 NIV) When they all arrived, the Levites took the ark to the Holy Place in the temple, and King Solomon and the entire assembly of Israel that had gathered were before the ark.
      When they all arrived a beautiful thing happened, "The priests then withdrew from the Holy Place.  All the priests who were there had consecrated themselves, regardless of their divisions." (2 Chr. 5:11 NIV bold italics mine)  Did you catch that?  12 tribes represented, each with traditions, different ways of doing things (doing worship).  Maybe there were some acappella tribes, and some instrumental tribes.  Maybe there were some tribes who sang hymns, and others who were writing some new stuff to use in worship.  I don't know, I wasn't there, but I do know there were some 'divisions' among them.  Here's the beauty of this moment, "All the Levites who were musicians - Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun and their sons and relatives - stood on the east side of the altar, dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres.  They were accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets."  CATCH THIS...."The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the Lord.  Accompaied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang:  'He is good; his love endures forever'"  THIS IS SO COOL..."Then the temple of the Lord was filled with a cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God."  (2 Chr 5:12 - 14 NIV)  This 'cloud' or shekinah represents the glory of God.  Because of the unity ("regardless of their divisions") of the Israelites, and the praise they were offering to God, the glory of God was unleashed to a degree that prevented the priests from doing what priests do!!
WOW!  What a testimony to the need for unity and genuine praise in our worship, huh?