Glen Hope Worship

Thoughts on Worship

GH Admin - Thursday, September 07, 2017

One of my favorite writers is one A.W. Tozer. He lived and ministered in the mid 20th century. One of my favorites of his writings is a small book entitled, "Worship: The Missing Jewel of the Evangelical Church". Probably most people look at worship as a a noun, referring to the service on Sunday morning, usually at 11:00.. Worship in reality is a verb, an action, the active response of the heart to God's presence and working in the life of the individual. Bruce Leafblad, once a professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary used the picture of a wheel with spokes coming out of a center hub to describe worship. In his example, worship is the hub, the central support from which all service and ministry flow. In essence, without the personal, worship relationship, we have nothing to share. Without knowing Christ in His fullness, we can't really share who He is with a lost world. That is why worship, the worship described in Deuteronomy  and again by Jesus Himself, known as the Great Commandment, that is, "with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength" is foundational to all we are as believers.

Getting back to Tozer, there are many quotes taken from his works and sermons that bear repeating. Here a just a few with some comments from me.

 

1."The church that can't worship must be entertained. The man who can't lead the church to worship must provide the entertainment".

Ouch! That hits right where we as worship leaders live. It's not our/my call to entertain you with even Christian songs that you like. It's the call of every worship leader to provide, through Spirit-led study, to brings songs that first are scripturally sound, regardless of how popular they are, and that they honor God. In my experience, there are two types of Christian music used in our services of worship One is the vertical song that is directed to God, for example "Holy, Holy, Holy". There are also many more contemporary songs that fit this mold, which we do incorporate in our services at Glen Hope. The second is the horizontal. These are hymns and songs about God  that are addressed to others or each other. There are many examples of these also that I'm sure you could name, both older and newer examples. But about the entertainment aspect, Jim Cymbala, pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle is quoted as having said;, "Jesus didn't die on the cross so that we could be entertained". Think about that one for awhile.

 

2. "I can safely say that a man or woman who is bored, or turned off by worship is not ready for heaven". Wow! That's strong! The way I read about heaven, it's ALL ABOUT WORSHIP!

Read it for yourself.  Read Isaiah 6, read Revelation 4. That's just two of many, many descriptions of heaven given to us in scripture. After all, worship is ultimately not about US! True worship is our heart's response  to who Jesus is and how he's working in our lives, and the lives of others around us. We are a consumer-driven generation.. Everything around us screams, "me, me, me". Worship is essentially, for God and initiated by God. Read Romans 12:1-2 where Paul describes true worship as total sacrifice; "Therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, I implore you to give your bodies as living sacrifices, wholly (heart, mind, soul, and strength) acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service (act of worship in the NIV).

 

3. This last one I'm using is appropriate for any time, but seems especially true in today's Christian world. "Worship is no longer worship when it reflects  more of the culture around us, than it does the Christ within us". Now it's true that we need to present the Gospel in a way that shows how it's relevant to today's world and culture, but, it also has to not conform so much to today's culture that there's no distinction. This is true in the music as well as the preaching or any presentation of the Gospel.

 

I hope these words will help you to perhaps see worship for what it really is - our response to God for who He is, not a matter of our personal preferences.

Do You Have Freedom in Worship?

GH Admin - Thursday, October 15, 2015

When I share a devotional thought, or a thought concerning worship, I like for it to be something God has impressed me with. Such is today's post.But, I found someone who has expressed thoughts very similar to mine, in a way that perhaps I could not. This post was written by Mike Harland who serves as the Director of Worship Ministries for Lifeway. 

Mike shares: It's an interesting question: If you had one phrase to describe the corporate worship gathering of your church, what would it be? Lively? Stoic? Spirited? Mundane?

Over the years, I've experienced just about every type of atmosphere in worship. One church I served had a spirited atmosphere where the altar was full and the participation was amazing. People sang, shouted "Amen" and Hallelujah,"clapped and lifted their hands. It felt free because it seemed everyone wanted to be there and take part.


But another church I was part of was much more reserved. people would participate, but in a quieter, more reflective way. It seemed like most folks were engaged, but you really couldn't tell from the externals. I found myself wondering sometimes if the people felt really free to worship.

But, thinking like that can be a trap. The truth is...you really can't tell what's going on by what you see and hear. The church that felt free struggled to meet its budget because the people weren't as generous in their giving. While the church that was more reserved was one of the most giving and loving churches I've ever known. Who's to say which one was really hitting the mark in their worship?


I realized something about freedom in worship several years ago, and it is this:

Freedom in worship is not when you overcome your inhibitions - it's when God overcomes you.

And when God overcomes you, you will be free to lift your hands - or not. You will be free to sing and shout - or sit in silence. When God overcomes you, your life takes on more of the essence of Jesus' character - which may be in ways no one else can see.


When you find yourself in a worship service all knotted up over what everybody else is  doing, or not doing, then you may not have come to the place where you are so overwhelmed with Him that you don't even notice what's going on around you. When that happens, you won't be drawing a spiritual assessment on how well your fellow worshipers are doing. You'll be overwhelmed by grace.

When Jesus is all you can see you, will finally know what freedom in worship is all about. 



   

 

 

An Audience of One

Jim Wrenn - Thursday, May 07, 2015

I think that we, the congregations of our churches, and that includes us here at Glen Hope, are often confused about just what our role is as worshipers. Through the years, I have served in a number of churches of varying sizes, congregational make up, blue collar, white collar, country club church, mill village churches (Glen Hope started as one of those), older and younger congregations. In all of that, there is still this similarity; We don't seem to understand or role in corporate worship.

 

Many, many, (yes, I'm that old) years ago when I was very new to ministry and was leading music part-time, I would attend what was called at that time, "Music Week at Ridgecrest" faithfully every summer. Having not attended college or seminary, I took advantage of every opportunity to gain knowledge and direction from others with more ministry experience. One particular year, I sat in a class on various aspects of the worship experience led by Professor Bruce Leafblad fo Southwestern Seminary. In this class  I was exposed to Swedish Theologian, Soren Kierkegaard. He had a very firm philosophy concerning our roles in the worship experience. It went like this (I'm paraphrasing and adding my own thoughts as well):.

1 The Worship Leaders, or "up-front" people are the performers of worship. They sing the great songs, they preach the right sermons, and do it all for us. Right?

2. The congregation is the audience. They just sit back and enjoy the "show."

3. God is theprompter. He tells the platform people what to do. What songs to select, what scripture, etc. In a sense that part is true, we do desire to be led by God.

 

Kierkegaard had a different view that I feel is more rightly aligned with the example of worship we have in Scripture. 

 

1. The people are the performers. They / we are to be active participants in the worship experience. Remember the first and great Commandment: "You shall love / worship the Lord, your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. That doesn't give us much time to sit back with our arms folded, does it?

2 The Worship Leaders are the prompters. They / we help engage our folks in worship and guide them along the journey, helping them voice their praise to God.

Now, here's the kicker!:

God is the audience not us!

He is the One worthy of receiving all our praise. I think we would see many of our services / churches transformed as we, the people, begin to understand this principle, that worship is essentially not about us, but about God. Think about it.

 

Soli Deo Gloria!

To God Alone Be the Glory!

Jim

Do We Worship with Awe?

GH Admin - Monday, January 26, 2015

Here are some thoughts about our personal worship that are taken from Mark 1:22-28

In this account, we see Jesus coming into the Synagogue in Capernaum to teach. During this time, a man with an evil spirit interrupts Jesus, crying out saying, "What do You want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are - the Holy One of God!" What we see during this episode tells us something about worship, and ourselves in relation to worship.


1. We should come to worship with a sense of awe as to who Jesus is. Not simply to be seen or to fulfill some sense of Christian duty or purpose. verse 22 reads: "The people were amazed at His teaching because he taught with authority, not like the other teachers of the law." 


2. We should ask the Holy Spirit to use the taught Word of God to speak to our lives. If we leave worship and haven't been changed in some way by the Word, have we truly worshipped?


3. Be sensitive to the spiritual needs and conditions of those around us. Do not fail to encourage and/or pray for those in whom we sense a need. Apparently, this man with the evil spirit had been among these "worshippers" before, but we see no evidence in the passage that until Jesus came, none had prayed or had compassion on him in his "unclean" condition. Jesus had compassion on Him and drove the spirit from him.


4. We should leave with an even greater sense of awe of who Jesus is from having truly worshipped Him. Those present that day recognized that He was different from the other teachers; He spoke with authority.


We all, myself included, need to examine our hearts and motives concerning our worship and ask certain questions: "Do I come with a sense of awe as to who Jesus is?" "Do I leave changed from having been in the presence of the living Word of God and the living Christ?" Do I truly come expecting to meet with Jesus, or am I just fulfilling my "Christian duty for the week?" These are tough questions, huh? I find myself sometimes getting caught up in the "nuts and bolts" of the service and my focus straying and have to get back on course. It's kinda like what I heard one time: Two men are discussing the Bible and one says, "It bothers me that there's so much about the Bible I don't understand." The other responded, "It's not what I don't understand that bothers me - it's what I do understand!" "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.That's our worship!

A New Song: Think about this, “Amazing Grace” was a new song at one time.

Jim Wrenn - Monday, November 03, 2014

You know, that term, "a new song":, delights many worshipers while striking fear into the hearts of others. Many will, at least at first, reject the "new song" simply because it's new. While others will eagerly embrace it simply because it's new. Think about this: "Amazing Grace" was once a new song. So who's right on this issue? Well, I'm not ready to get into that argument right here. The real answer may be that both sides are wrong. It's not the age of the song that makes it good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable. It always comes down to what is the song saying? Is it Biblically correct? Is the message clear or vague? Often whether a song has staying power as part of our worship has to do with the story behind the song. Although certain musical arrangements and instrumentation make a song more pleasing, still it comes down to "what is it saying"?


I sat down recently and did as thorough a search as I could on that term, "a new song." For reference I used the Bible, a good concordance, and an online Bible website. They all agreed that there are nine scriptures where you find the phrase "sing (or sang) a new song." They also agreed on a common definition for "a new song": a new song celebrates a new act of God's deliverance, redemption, and/or blessing." This is true in all seven OT references as well as the two in the NT. If you'd like to run these references yourself, they are: Psalm 33:3, 40:3, 18:49, 96:1, 98:1, 144:9, 149:1, Isaiah 42:9-10, Revelation 5:9 and 14:3. Read the context of each verse and you'll see that in each case , "a new song" speaks of a mighty act of God. In view of that, the "new song" may be a personal song for your own private worship, or it may be one that God would lead you to write down and share others in a corporate setting. You'll also notice that in each of these there's no mention of a particular style it should be sung in, or any mention of a particular set or type of instruments to use in playing it. On that matter, I'll just say this: refer to Psalm 150 for further instructions.


Here's an other thought I had a while back: "Praise songs most often tell us that God is great, while hymns most often tell us why and how God is great." Hhmmmm. Chew on that one a while. So, to conclude, it's not about old or new, hymn or praise song. I firmly believe that there's a place for all of it in our corporate worship as long as it's Biblically sound, and that all the glory goes to God! Sing a new song unto the Lord!

Soli Deo Gloria!

To God be all the glory!

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