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Worship that isn’t based on Christ, the cross, and the Word of God is worship that is based on emotion and feeling without truth. As worship leaders, we play a role in the spiritual teaching and shepherding of the people we have the privilege of leading.

These familiar passages should be at the forefront of our minds:

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Tim 4:1-2)

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)

It is important to be building a strong connection between what we do in worship and the Scriptures in people’s minds. To help reinforce the basis of why we do what we do and why we live the way we live. I think it’s unfortunate when the only time people encounter the Word of God in a service is during the message.

But, how can we weave the Scriptures into the worship service? Continue Reading…

The Bible is more than just a rule book, and more than just a bunch of stories. It is the revelation of God. It paints a vivid picture of God’s love for mankind. It shows us the vastness and wonder of God’s inherent character.

Why is this important in the realm of worship? What is the connection between true worship and God? True worship is worship that happens in spirit and in truth (John 4). Without an accurate picture of God, our worship can’t be truthful, spirit-filled, connective, or meaningful. We will find ourselves in a trap of redundant and ritualistic worship without meaning or authenticity. But seeking to understand God’s nature, His true nature, frees us from redundant worship.

How does redundant worship take over in our lives? It happens when our vision of God is limited by our own experience instead of the expressive revelation of who He is. When we let our understanding of God be shaped solely by our own limited experience, we put God in a box of our own design. Putting God in this box (which can’t contain Him anyway), makes our worship limited and flat.

The good news is that the Bible gives us a clear picture of consistent and dynamic worship of God. In every situation where people encounter the true and unchanging nature of God, worship immediately follows. We see this in the life of Abraham, Moses, David, Job, Elijah, Isaiah, and many others.

In fact, the unchanging nature of God was so real to the Apostle Paul, that his writings often include periods of expressive worship that momentarily break from his train of thought. The reality, though, is that there really isn’t a break because sound truth and theology should always result in a true expression of worship. We see this in Paul’s writings in 1 Timothy. Twice in this letter Paul breaks into praise, using what is believed to be early Christian worship language, in response to the truth of God being revealed. In 1 Timothy 1:17, he writes, “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” in response and gratitude for the great mercy of God.

Again, at the end of the letter in 1 Timothy 6:15-16, Paul again expresses praise. Even in the midst of the very practical matters that Paul is writing about, he cannot escape the overwhelming truth and centrality of God. He says, “God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

These examples should serve to remind us who the God we are called to worship truly is, why He is worthy of our worship, and why worship is something we should engage in with our whole being. A true vision of God formed by the truth of Scripture will result in majestic and expressive worship in spirit and truth that happens in a way that engages all of who we are (emotions, intellect, spirit, body) in response to all of who God is.

Are you finding worship to be uninspiring, routine, or redundant? May I suggest you revisit who the God who has made a way for you to be redeemed truly is? Perhaps your vision and understanding of God needs to burst out of the box it’s been placed in and find a new expression capturing the wonder and majesty of the Creator of the universe. Then, together, we can truly express, “Blessed be the name of the Lord!”

How does God’s Word influence your journey of worship?

(Come back tomorrow for a list of practical suggestions of how to incorporate the Scriptures into a service of worship.)

There’s a lot of talk about creativity, but do we really know what it is? Especially in the church or ministry context? Is everything we define as “creative” really so?

I’ve heard creativity defined or expressed in many different ways. To some it means:

• Adapting
• “Borrowing”
• Always having something new
• Right brain activity
• Something only a few have or can do
• Mysterious
• Only seen in the fields of art, music, and dance
• Inborn
• Something that can be learned

The New Oxford American Dictionary says that ‘creativity’ involves the use of the imagination or original ideas, esp. in the production of an artistic work. In starting its article on creativity, Wikipedia begins by saying that it refers to the phenomenon whereby a person creates something new (a product, a solution, a work of art etc.) that has some kind of value.

I do know the church used to be the center of creative excellence and innovation. People like Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel. Bach regularly composed amazing pieces of music. The cathedrals of old had amazing architecture and depictions in stained glass. These were done to capture the mystery, wonder, and magnificence of God. And they did it rather well.

I think another thing to remember is that creativity is part of what we were given by God that sets humans apart from animals. When the Bible says that we were created in God’s image, it’s not referring to the fact that we have legs and hands and eyes. What we have are souls, the capacity for good and evil, and the ability to create.

There is a lot written about creativity. One article that I read recently on ChurchLeaders.com by Chase Layman [Blog|Twitter] is called Creativity: The Person and the Process, and in it he addresses some of the myths and truths about creativity.

It is important for those involved in creative endeavors to have some understanding of what we’re doing. That understanding can only help us as we do what God has called and equipped us to do.

How would you define creativity? Be sure to share in the comments below.

When the Singing Stops…

Chris  —  September 15, 2009 — 2 Comments

worship01_largeImagine this scenario with me…you’ve arrived at the church building for a Sunday morning service. You’ve made your way in and found a seat. The service begins as usual with a welcome and announcements about important things. Perhaps you hear a missionary share about the work they are doing. Maybe there is a video conveying a spiritual concept. Then the music starts. You’re invited to stand with everyone else as the leader encourages you to express praise through singing. You’re singing along with the words that declare the truth of who Jesus is, and then it happens. The words disappear off the screen, and there is just music playing. What do you do now?

In our modern gatherings where the same types of things happen regularly and we know the routine, it can be hard to know what to do in those “free” moments. Our natural tendency is to look around, wonder what’s going to happen next, or think about where you’re going to eat lunch. Continue Reading…

I have one of the best jobs in the world, getting to do what I enjoy for the Kingdom of God. But, I also have one of the hardest jobs in the world. There are seasons where it seems that we watch so many people make choices that dishonor God, their families and others even though they have heard the truth. There are seasons where there is great discouragement and many questions. There are times when I wonder whether any of it makes a difference.

Each time I find myself in one of those times, there is a verse that I am repeatedly drawn to. It is a voice that speaks volumes about the God I serve and His character. It is a verse that can bring a huge amount of encouragement when it is heard with ears that want to hear.

Zephaniah 3:17 is that verse. The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. (emphasis added)

Thank about that for a minute (or more). The great God of the universe who created all that we see, who is not constrained by time or space, who is not burdened and held captive by the things that stress and worry us. The Lord Almighty who is incomparable,  everlasting, all-powerful, the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow is with us. Always.

He takes delight in us and quiets our worries and questions with His great love. He, the holy and righteous and perfect God, rejoices over us with singing, not because we get it right all the time but because He loves and treasures us just that much.

Wow.

Why do we worship?

Chris  —  June 10, 2009 — Leave a comment

Why do we worship?

The obvious answer is that it’s what we do in church. But it’s much more than that. It’s what we were made to do, and worship is much more that a Sunday morning gathering (but more on that another time.)

At the core, we worship because of Christ. Worship means to give worship to someone or something. We give worth to Christ because or and as a response to God’s love extended to us long before we knew of God. The fact is that when we really understand (and believe) how much God loves us even though we don’t deserve it, our world should be rocked.

The thing is that it’s hard to understand and comprehend how God could love us so. We perhaps don’t think God could love us that much, or we don’t really believe we are worth being loved. We choose to live in a way that minimizes the power and impact of God’s love, and act like we have to earn God’s love.

Richard Foster in The Celebration of Discipline says this:

Worship is our response to the overtures of love from the heart of the Father. Its central reality is found ‘in Spirit 41vxzxsgtpl_ss500_and in Truth.’ It is kindled within us only when then the Spirit of God touches our human Spirit. Forms and rituals do not produce worship, nor does the formal disuse of forms and rituals. We can use all the right techniques and methods, we can have the best possible liturgy (a form and arrangement of public worship laid down by a church or religion) but we have not worshipped the Lord until Spirit touches Spirit. Singing, praying, praising, all may lead to worship, but worship is more than any of them. Our spirit must be ignited by divine fire.

We worship as a response to the amazing reality of God’s love. On the one hand, it is something we must choose to do, but on the other hand it is something that is truly beyond us. As with most things in the Christian life, worship is somewhat of a paradox.

The next time you gather to worship with others or spend time giving worth to God on your own, think about why you are doing it. It is becuase it’s “what we do” or is it a deep, mystical (can I use that word?), whole-hearted response to the indescribable love of the vast, unchanging Creator of the universe who loved us first. And because of that love, we are made right before God and invited into full membership in the family of God.

Why do you worship?