Christian Worship Is a Discipline, Not a Fun Experience

Worship IS Essential, But So Is Loving Your Neighbor

Since yesterday, when the President of the United States proclaimed churches to be essential, I have seen two major themes emanating from my Christian Facebook friends and pages I follow. Mind you, these are from professing Christians, not some outside news pundits or any other kind of outsider.

  1. Churches are, in fact, essential, and should be allowed to reopen, because the government can’t tell the Church what to do.
  2. Since Christians can worship anywhere, and since God’s work can continue in the world through the Church without official worship gatherings, said worship gatherings are not essential.

Neither of these is convincing in the least, for me, at least.

Regarding the first position, the COVID-19 crisis is a real thing. It is not a hoax. It is not a concerted effort to take away your rights and freedom. If you disagree, frankly, you’ve been listening to too many fringe conspiracy theorists. You have taken your position from nutcase Facebook status updates from people with some sort of persecution complex. Christians in this country are, by and large, not persecuted. These restrictions are in place because large gatherings pose a huge risk to the people in attendance, and to public health in general. There are documented cases of this happening, both present and historical. Perpetuating this fear is both irresponsible and lacking in faith in Christ, our living Head.

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Hymns of Hope and Comfort: Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah

Guide me, O thou great Jehovah,
pilgrim though this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty;
hold me with thy powerful hand;
bread of heaven, bread of heaven,
feed me now and evermore,
feed me now and evermore.

Open now the crystal fountain,
whence the healing stream doth flow;
let the fire and cloudy pillar
lead me all my journey through;
strong deliverer, strong deliverer.
be thou still my strength and shield,
be thou still my strength and shield.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
bid my anxious fears subside;
death of death, and hell’s destruction,
land me safe on Canaan’s side;
songs of praises, songs of praises,
I will ever give to thee,
I will ever give to thee.

– William Williams, 1745

9 Lessons Young Worship Leaders Need to Learn

3 Ways “Temple” Thinking Still Infects the Church Today

On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”

The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. Mark 11:15-18

A haunting question I recently asked my church was: If Jesus were alive today, would he applaud how we worship him or would he start turning over tables? I know the immediate answer is that Jesus would automatically applaud how we worship him, I mean it’s all for him, right? But remember, the temple in Jerusalem was the very epicenter of God worship in ancient Israel. It was the place to go to worship God. And Jesus (God’s son) trashed the place. In a previous post I shared just what made Jesus so angry about the first century temple. The temple was designed for people to encounter God but instead it became a cash cow that fleeced the people and enriched the chief priest and his family. Even though we don’t have a temple in Christianity that we center our religion around, temple thinking still infects today’s churches:

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Selections from: The Worship God Is Seeking

Passionate worship requires some skill, not in some elitist way, but because we put our all into expressing this worship to God.

Such creativity, freedom and life surely cannot be contained in just one or two songs. Such worship cannot be fully expressed in just one liturgy or style of music.

God designed worship to come to Him from every thing He created.

Psalm 33

God is seeking a worship that reflects His heart. As the truly original artist, He delights in worship that echoes the creativity and passion that He put into creation. He longs for worship that reflects not only the expanse of creation but also the fullest expression of His crown of creation: redeemed humanity worshiping Him from every tongue, tribe and nation. We need to cultivate creativity and artistic expression in our worship, not to impress God, or put our talents on display before Him, but simply because He enjoys it. This is the worship He seeks.

Our worship must move us to this kind of love if it is to be authentic and Christ centered.

Our worship does not isolate us; rather, as we draw near to God’s heart, we are stirred by His longing to see salvation visit the whole earth and to shatter the works of Satan.

Our acts of worship divorced from a lifestyle of mercy and justice create the same effect.

We are to be marked by love, and it is only in such a place that the bonds of injustice and the abuse of power can truly be broken. It is by our love that the world will know that we are disciples of Christ. It is by our love that our worship is marked as acceptable before the King of love Himself It is time for the Church to recover the worship that has love at its core. Love for God that is expressed through love for our neighbor. The worship that God is seeking is a worship that is rooted in love for each other.

– Ruis, David. The Worship God Is Seeking (The Worship Series) (p. 124). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Corporate Worship Values: What Unites Us

Why Aren’t the Younger Generation Coming To Worship?

Worship Is Not A Reflection Of How You Feel

Joy is not something that comes naturally. In fact, it is a choice. We have to choose along the way to rejoice: “We also rejoice … because we know …” (Romans 5:3 CSB). Rejoicing comes from reminding yourself of something that you know.

It’s amazing how many times in Scripture we are commanded to worship—and not just if we feel like it. Throughout the Psalms, the people of God are told to raise their hands in worship, to sing aloud, to shout, to clap—even to dance. We’re commanded to do these things whether or not we feel like it because worship is a choice. In worship, we choose to rejoice, by faith, in a reality that God declares to be true. Sometimes that choice aligns with our feelings. Often that choice defies our feelings.

Many of us go to church thinking about how we feel. But worshipping is not a reflection of how we feel; it’s a reflection of what we know to be true and what God has promised in his Word. It’s a declaration of what God is worthy of. Here’s what God often (and graciously) allows to happen: As we declare it, we begin to feel it. Sometimes even the posture of our body will actually guide our heart, which is one reason we are commanded to raise our hands and shout in worship.

When I kneel in prayer, I feel submissive. When I raise my hands, I feel surrendered. When I open my hands, I feel needy. The posture guides the heart. Worship is not a depiction of our feelings, but a declaration of our faith. It’s a defiant declaration that “I am not how I feel. My life is not what circumstances may make it look like it is. What God says is true is true, and I am going to act like it.”

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15 Powerful Quotes on the Importance of Worship