worship does not require knowledge

17 03 2010

I’ve been reading through John and came upon chapter 4 and noticed something about worship. You don’t need to know God to worship Him.

Verses 23 and 24 tend to get all the attention because they tell us that true worshipers worship in spirit and in truth. Verse 22, though, seems to be skipped over.

John 4:22, “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” I think the main point was that the Jews worshiped a God that they knew, but I want to draw out another point: we don’t have to know what we worship in order to worship.

To be a true worshiper we must worship in spirit and in truth, but worship doesn’t carry those requirements. A good parallel can be illustrated through fandom.

My friend Scott Appleman had a conversation with a so-called fan and this is what he shared on facebook (BTW I didn’t get his permission, but I figured he wouldn’t mind):

This is why I hate the Yankees:
Me (to guy wearing Yankee hat): “Can you name three Yankees?”
Guy wearing Yankee hat: Baseball players?
Me: (stunned silence) Yes, baseball players.
Guy Wearing Yankee Hat: Recent ones?
Me: Yankees. Guy Wearing Yankee Hat: Jeter, Babe Ruth, and that guy who’s sleeping with Madonna.
Me: A-Rod.
Guy Wearing Yankee Hat: Yeah, I have his bobblehead when he played with the Mets.
Me: He didn’t play for the Mets. He played for the Rangers.
Guy Wearing Yankee Hat: Yeah, the Rangers. That’s probably worth something, huh.

There is a spectrum of devotion when it comes to fans. Some are hardcore. They know almost everything. They have enough knowledge to make a good Wikipedia entry. They know the history and the current happenings.

Some are born into fandom. Someone in their family is a fan of a team, so they are fans. They don’t know a lot, but they are loyal.

There are casual fans, they joined because they had to be a fan of something and they followed along.

Some are bandwagon fans who join when someone is winning.

Some are posers. They wear the stuff, but that’s about it. They don’t know anything.

Now, I wouldn’t call the Samaritans posers, but Jesus told the woman that she didn’t know God. She was more of the family fan, born into fandom. She didn’t know God.

Jesus, though, wanted her to be a hard core fan. She needed to know God and not just enough for a Wikipedia entry, she needed to experience God.

We can worship God, and not know Him, just as we can be a fan of a sports team and not know a thing about them. But when confronted by someone who knows the subject, we get exposed as posers.

There is an observation I made when processing Scott’s story. People don’t really like posers. We can be posers when we worship God. We can go through all the motions, where the clothes, talk the talk, but when it comes down to it, we really don’t know much.

Something else seems to happen when we are posers. Scott didn’t say that he hated Yankee fans; he hated the Yankees.

Is it possible that people hate God because of posers.

When we claim to follow something yet know nothing about it, we show that either we are not really followers, thus liars, or that whatever we are claiming to follow is not worthy of our pursuit.

When we fake full allegiance to God  it turns out bad. Either God has not transform us (which is supposed to be one of the reasons to follow Him), or He is not amazing enough to be pursued.

So, being a true worshiper not only is good for us, but good for God’s glory.





defining worship 2.0

3 03 2010

Sometimes we miss the obvious in Scripture. God has to bonk us on the head through the Holy Spirit and we find truth that transforms our lives.

I had previously posted a definition of worship. I thought it was good, but I have a new simpler definition, which actually frees up an avenue to explore praise. (I’m actually working on posts for praise, but they aren’t ready to go yet.)

First, though, I’d like to show that God is awesome and how this has nothing to do with me being smart.

I asked God what it would take for me to get to another level of depth in my maturation process. One of the things that God told me to do was to pray Scripture after I read through it – every time. I also realized I don’t know much about the Law; so, I combined the two and started praying Psalm 119, which often asks for revelation of the Law.

After doing this God brought to my mind the Ten Commandments.

(There is no Hebrew equivalent of the English word “worship.” Translators have chosen to take the words that are more literally “bow down” and ” serve” and use the word “worship.”)

Exodus 20:3-5:

“You shall have no other gods before Me.

“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.

“You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God…

“Worship” shows up in verse 5 with the direct object “them.” The antecedent of “them” is “idol.” When observing the verses in context we see that God is comparing His position as God in their lives to idols/other gods.

It happened in a flash. God showed me something so simple: to worship is to declare something or someone god.

Whether we understand what worship looks like is not important in defining it. Worship is the internal or external manifestation that someone or something is our God.





don’t lie in worship – it’s your choice

16 02 2010

“Christians don’t tell lies – they just go to church and sing them.” – A. W. Tozer

When first I heard the quote from A. W. Tozer I smiled because it’s true. It’s not that Christians don’t ever lie, but the point is that they sing lies. Now, I must be a little more forgiving. The definition of “to lie” is “a false statement deliberately presented as being true.” I don’t think people really are trying to deceive God or other people, but I think often words are said without believing them.

Watch this:

Speaking truth during worship cannot be over emphasized. John 4:23-24 states

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

The last line says “those who worship MUST worship in spirit and truth.” There is no provision for worshiping without truth. Simply stated we cannot lie in worship.

But what about the person who wants to sing the song, but doesn’t feel like the lyrics are true in their soul. Though their mind may agree that the lyrics are true, they may not be true for them in their heart. Likewise, what about when a person sings a song and feels they are true, but the mind hasn’t taken the journey?

Sometimes feelings come first and sometimes thoughts come first. They don’t have to coincide in order for them to be true for us. When we move by faith we move according to God’s word because we believe it is true. Sometimes feelings aren’t there. Likewise there are times we feel like something is right, but we don’t understand why it is, which is equally as right.

If either feelings or thoughts precede the other it is not as if we are lying. Ultimately, it is the intention and direction of a person that determines truth. God’s word is truth; if we are agreeing with it in thought or feeling then we are pleasing God.





worship time vs worship songs

3 02 2010

(This is a continuation from last week’s post on song’s for the journey versus songs to God.)

One of the reasons this topic came up was because of David Crowder Band. First off, I’ve never been a fan. I don’t dislike them, I just don’t get their lyricism. I like their style, though, music and hair.

I had to figure out why I didn’t feel like a majority of their songs belonged in a worship set. Yet trusting the people at sixstepsrecords, I also had to accept that they definitely play a role in the music ministry under Passion.

After looking at the lyrics I realized so much of their songs revolve around the journey, reminding us of who God has made us and what He has done. The songs are often directed toward the singer (not Crowder, I just mean whoever is singing).

These are songs for the journey. Songs for the journey remind us of God’s work and reaffirm God’s Word to us. They are more often than not songs to us and for us.

There is nothing wrong with these songs when constructed according to Scripture. But why are these songs not worship songs?

If you notice when you find worship in Scripture, it is toward somebody or something. If we are singing to ourselves and it’s worship, then it would be self-worship, thus idol worship. But if they are not worship songs to us and affirm Truth, then what are they? They are songs for the journey.

So, can these songs be good to sing in church? Yes.

The danger in using these types of songs is that they can make us feel good about us and we lose focus on God. This is where the worship leader must construct a purposeful flow so that these songs can be instruments to launch the gathering into worship.

Though, not worship songs, they can be used in worship times because they reflect Truth about God. These songs become instruments of worship when they remind us of God and His goodness to us. When this happens they become fuel for songs that are directed toward God.

Worship songs can be enhanced by songs for the journey during worship times. We must be careful, though, not to pack our worship times with songs for the journey and neglect songs to God, or else we will have no worship time at all. If we lean toward one at the expense of the other, it must be with songs toward God.





songs for the journey, songs to God

27 01 2010

There are times I feel like a worship jerk. I am driven to help the church understand worship; but in this process I have to draw a line that eliminates good songs from falling under the worship banner.

For example:

The lyrics:

Where you go I go
What you say I say
What you pray I pray

Jesus only did, What he saw you do
He would only say, What he heard you speak
He would only move, When he felt you lead
Following your heart, Following your
spirit

How could I expect to walk without you
When every move that Jesus made was in surrender
I would not begin to live without you
For you alone are worthy you are always good

You are always good
You are always good
Always good
Always good

Though the world sees and soon forgets
We will not forget
Who you are and what you’ve done for us
What you’ve done for us

You are my God

When I look at the lyrics I have to say the song isn’t a worship song. The lyrics “You are always good” and “You are my God” are the only lyrics I could consider to fall under the definition of worship, which in simple terms is giving a response to God because of who He is.

The other lyrics talk about the way Jesus lived and how the church should live in response to His example.

Nothing is wrong with the song. It’s just not a song that worships God.

This type of song is what I’d call a song for the journey on the road of God’s transformation.

Do I think like song should be sung in church? Yes, but the song itself cannot serve as a worship song.

I’ll discuss more about worship times versus worship songs next post, but I want to set a foundation leading into the next post.

Just because a song is biblical truth, does not mean it qualifies as a worship song. There is a reason for the distinction, but we’ll have to wait until the next post.





you can sit during worship

19 01 2010

I’ve made such a deal about standing and bowing in worship that I thought it would be good to mention that it’s OK to sit.

One thing I want to make clear is that standing isn’t some magical make-God-happy move. It has to be a choice to represent respect for His presence.

There are times when I sit, so let me explain why I sit.

When I stand or bow I actually can distract myself from internalizing what is going on in worship. Because I don’t sit much, when I do I use the time to focus on the lyrics, my heart condition and how much my soul actually wants to choose to worship.

When I eventually stand it must come out of choice in my heart that says, “I want to stand for God now.”

Honestly, this post isn’t some grand idea. I’m basically saying, “Be mindful of what you are doing in worship and why you are doing it.”

It will definitely be a much better experience for God and for you.





God in everything we do

16 12 2009

I was watching this clip. Amazingness begins at around the 4:50 minute mark. You have to watch the whole thing to ramp up into it, though.

What struck me when watching was a question that will probably cling to my soul for a long time. What will it take for the presence of God to be heavy in all that we do?

The thing I really find amazing in worship is the presence of God. If you are unsure if you have ever felt the presence of God during worship, then ask for God to open your heart to His heart. You might like what you find or you might not.

Honestly, I had never felt the presence of God through worship until Urbana 2000. But now is not time for that story, this is a time to ponder a question, “What will it take for the presence of God to be heavy in all that we do?”

What if serving food at a shelter caused us to feel the presence of God?

What if visiting someone in the hospital caused us to feel the presence of God?

What if giving a verbal witness caused us to feel the presence of God?

What if you knew you were going to die for standing up for Jesus, but in the moment of doing so the presence of God was so strong that dispite the pain, there was a presence of God so real, so amazing that you knew it was worth it?

What will it take for the presence of God to be heavy in all that we do?

I don’t have any answers here, I just have the one simple question.