what you worship shapes you

30 10 2009

Psalm 106:19-20 (NASB)

They made a calf in Horeb
And worshiped a molten image.
Thus they exchanged their glory
For the image of an ox that eats grass.

The other day I read over Psalm 106 in Sunday school and noticed something really interesting. Look at verse 20. It says “they exchanged their glory” after worshiping the molten image.

What this is saying is that the Israelites gave up something of who they are when they worshiped the false god.

Now, it is possible that “their glory” means God, but if you look at Hosea 4:7 God said He would change their glory into shame.

I really think God is trying to tell us that what we worship shapes us.

That’s it. I’m not saying anymore this week. I have something more to share, but I will write an another post under the same idea next week.


worship should be the greatest show on earth

21 10 2009

Growing up during the latest worship movement brought the question: How do you apply the right amount of musical artistry in worship so that you won’t be distracting to the people?

As I have journeyed in my understanding of worship and have seen different groups of believers worship, I realized that this is the wrong question.

I think it is better addressed with two questions:

1. How can song leaders best worship God?
2. How can those being led in worship know that worship is not a show for them?

Our responsibility is to worship God. His Greatness deserves our greatness in worship and nothing less.

Imagine if people were worshiping through a Cirque du Soleil type performance. Now that would be awesome! When we worship God it should be the greatest show on earth!

NOT the greatest

The challenge in corporate worship is having something that everyone can participate in. Obviously, not everyone can move their body’s in amazing ways as a tribute to God. Honestly, not everyone can sing either.

The problem is when we see others do something we cannot do we are mesmerized by them, but in worship we are supposed to be mesmerized by God.

I just realized something interesting. U2 came to Phoenix last night.

Their name is really a marketing technique. It can mean a lot of things or nothing at all.

So how does this apply to worship? When I think of the worship team I think of us versus them, but if we are really all worshiping God then it isn’t us versus them. The worship team is everyone. In other words the worship team really should be telling the gathering that the band is you too.

Yeah, I know it’s a little cheesy, but I think you’ll remember it better.

I’m sorry I didn’t answer my two questions, but really answering those questions is not my point.

The point is to remember: YOU are to worship the Lord out of YOUR relationship with Him.

We should all dig in and figure out how each of us can best worship God because He is worthy. If everyone focuses on their gift to God through worship, then it will be the greatest show on earth.

worship is not a lifestyle

14 10 2009

When I think about lifestyle I think about “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”

Robin Leach

Lifestyle is “a way of life or style of living that reflects the attitudes and values of a person or group.”[1]

Let’s think about what it means to live a healthy lifestyle since it’s probably easier to think about that than being rich for most people.

A healthy lifestyle means I’ll drink enough water, eat enough vegetables, fruits, and proteins and avoid junk food. But what about if I choose to play the bass guitar instead of the electric guitar? Is that a health choice?

Everything we do is not necessarily a health decision, though a lot of our choices impact our health.

Louis Giglio echoes what many say when he wrote, “Every day, all daylong, everywhere you go you worship.”[2] The argument is that our actions (our lifestyle) are a reflection of what we value and is worship.

My personal challenge to you is to find worship talked about as a lifestyle in Scripture. If you are fast you might mention 1 Corinthians 10:31. There is an important distinction that I will unpack in a later post: Paul is saying that in all we do we are to glorify God. He didn’t use the word worship.

In Genesis 24 we see worship as a conscious act. As the servant of Abraham saw God answer his request he responded with worship. Looking at every mention of “worship” in the Bible I could not find the idea of worship as a lifestyle.

I am not against worshiping throughout the day, but what I am saying is that everything we do is not some form of worship.

The servant of Abraham obeyed his master, which is proper obedience toward authority. It is an act of obedience that is God honoring, but it is not written of as an act of worship. The way he responded toward God after He revealed Rebekah was called worship.

We see worship is not a way of life or a style of living, but a specific act. The problem with saying we worship all daylong in everything we do is that the importance of our active choice loses significance.

There is no passive worship. We have to actively choose to worship God for who He is and what He has done.

[1] lifestyle. Dictionary.com. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/lifestyle (accessed: July 20, 2009).
[2] Louis Gigilio, The Air I Breathe: Worship as a Way of Life. (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah, 2003), 11.

is there such thing as a safer song for worship?

7 10 2009

After being inspired by A. W. Tozer’s quote about lying in church I starting thinking about the importance of singing truth in church.

Along this journey about worship I also reflected on why certain worship times seemed more moving than others. After being more conscious about my feelings during worship and observing the differences I found something that stood out.

The times where I felt the most moved was when I was affirming truth about God. When I exalted God, He truly seemed to be present in a different way.

Sometimes, though, I felt really moved when I was singing about committing to God. But I realized it was also because my heart was affirming that God’s greatness demanded that I respond as the lyrics said.

There was one time, though, where singing about commitment to God turned out badly.

The song’s lyrics said something like, “You can have all of me.”

Leading up to the song worship seemed to be better than normal. Yet the moment we started that song the atmosphere turned 180 degrees. It felt as if God was upset.

Maybe you will think me to be arrogant or presumptuous, but I will be honest with my perception.

I never saw these lyrics to be true in their lives.

If we were not having class about the Bible, I wouldn’t hear them say a single thing about God. On top of that, when I would share with people my experiences or thoughts about God or His Word the response could be described in the phrase, “Oh, that’s nice for you.” No affirmation, no questions, no sharing on their part. Conversing about God seemed less interesting than talking about the weather.

The incident only happened once, but I’ll never forget it.

I continued to think about what the songs were that led up to the change. The songs before were about God. This is where I discovered the safer song.

God describes himself in Scripture. Whether we believe it or not, it’s true. As soon as we start to put us in the picture it can become a lie. It can be as subtle as changing “You are God” to “You are my God.” “My” makes the song’s meaning change.

Maybe He isn’t the singer’s God, and if not, it’s a lie.

The safer song is one that describes God as told in Scripture. It is free of the possibility of human contamination.

I can think of an objection: Isn’t worship still empty if we don’t believe it, even if it is Scripture?

My answer is yes.

But there is also an advantage to singing Scripture, because faith comes by hearing according to Romans 10:17. So, in singing Scripture our faith is built in those statements, so that over time it becomes true for us.

Once it is truth in us then we have a solid foundation from which to build our allegiance to God.