Tag Archives: praise

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A Word on Worship Styles

Note: From the start I want to clarify that when I use the word “style” I am not referring to words, or lyrics. By the word “style” I mean varying instruments or sounds, as well as the posture or outward appearances of worshippers. Words, particularly words of truth that honor God, matter immensely, but that is a whole other topic.

Few topics can get Christians more heated up then worship styles. Some churches pride themselves most emphatically and almost solely on having “great worship.” If they visit a church that doesn’t use drums and the worshipers don’t raise hands, they might say something like “the sermon was great, but it’s too bad the worship is dead.” Or even “It’s really too bad the Spirit’s not there.” You might think I’m joking but sadly I’ve heard it with my own two ears.

On the other hand, organ only, hymn only, Psalter only (etc, etc) church goers can see concert clips of people jumping up and down, hand raising, clapping (etc,etc) and think there’s a lack of reverence and nothing happening other than an ecstatic, hyper-emotional, rock fest.

I guess the question we should all ask ourselves is this: Does God want us judging one another’s worship styles? Should we dissect the way, or style, in which another person offers praise and thanksgiving to God, specifically in song?

I don’t think so. Here’s why: Continue reading

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Just As I Am: Singing to God

It would be hard for me to fully express the role that worship songs- especially hymns, have had in my life. God used the lyrics to “Amazing Grace” to reach me when I was a teenager, finally and reluctantly confessing I was a sinner on my bed at night. Words I never knew existed in my memory bank came rushing back to me from childhood and all at once the word “wretch” struck my heart with tremendous force. I was a wretch, it was true. But the song said God had an interest in saving wretches like me. I didn’t know how yet, or why He could save a wretch like me, but I’m grateful He shone a light in my heart and kept on drawing me.

I had started attending church around that time, and having not grown up in one, witnessing people worship was fascinating to me. It just seemed amazing that people could really sing to God, and the looks on their faces were like they actually knew Him. I still have a poem I wrote as a teenager reflecting on what I experienced during this time they called “worship”:

I stand, swaying just enough
To blend in with the world
As they are wrapped up in their ecstasy.
Shouts of joy bounce off the walls
And I try to reach out;
To catch it without making a statement
Of my obvious attempts.

There are those who wear their love so
Glorious across their faces,
And I would expect them to be proud
Yet they are the meekest.

Often I hear words of great inspiration,
And the thirst deep inside of me pleads
To be filled.

(I smirk every so often, so that the
Stranger next to me won’t know the ways
Of which I have been intrigued)

I walked to the back of the room
Into a corner where no one would see,
And tried to speak a word to God
(To the air?)
My heart raced…
“It’s because you fear God!”
Or is it only for the people who have glanced back?

It’s kind of funny to have this poem as a little reminder of the foreignness and intrigue a “worship service” held for me then. I remember having a sense of the seriousness of singing songs to God. One Sunday morning I was singing a song, something about giving Jesus all of my life. But it wasn’t true. He didn’t have my life, and I knew it full well. I also knew the guy leading worship- a highschool friend, and that Jesus didn’t have his life either. I just remember shutting my mouth mid-song. How could I sing to God words that weren’t true? Words that I didn’t mean? The weight of it felt heavy enough to crush me so I fled, but on the way I asked the worship leader’s mom to send him outside when the singing was over. Continue reading

Praise that Kills the Gospel

I’ve noticed a trend in some of today’s popular Christian music that disturbs me. There’s a song that’s been playing on our local “praise” station, where the artist sings his prayer to God: “Yeah, I want to believe, Jesus help me believe, that I am someone worth dying for.” In the end the artist turns to the listener and exhorts them “You gotta believe, ya you gotta believe, that you are someone worth dying for.” Continue reading

God Is Glorified In Justice

The Bible teaches that God will be glorified in His saints the day of His return, but Psalm 76:10 also says that “Surely the wrath of man shall praise you; the remnant of wrath you will put on like a belt.”  Proverbs 16:4 states that “The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.”  What good purpose could come from the terrible day of judgement that will fall upon wicked people?  What type of praise will God receive for having executed his wrath upon men? Continue reading

I Serve An Emotional God and I Am His Emotional Follower

God is an emotional God.  His book is an emotional  book.  Yet it would seem to me that there are many professing followers of Jesus Christ who seem to lack emotional responses to Him, to His word, to each other, and to sin in themselves and in the world.  Yet, I have also known those who can jump up and down in a worship service, and weep and wail whenever it seems appropriate, yet they live in unrepentant sin and have little understanding about the God of the Bible.  Continue reading

What Is So Valuable That Christ Would Die?

What is God’s highest aim in man’s redemption?

 

So then we have considered in part what is wonderful, lovable, and glorious about the cross from our human perspective.  We have reflected on Christ’s awe striking humility, His willingness to save a God hating people like us, and the accomplishment of saving our souls and changing our hearts.  But there is something even deeper going on than just the act of making an unrighteous heart, righteous.  There is more to rejoice about than even that Christ has spared our soul’s eternal Hell and has prepared for us an eternal home in Heaven.  Though immensely significant, the ultimate gift that God has given us is not just the forgiveness of our sins and the future hope of life in heaven, but that He has done everything to make it possible for us to behold and have Him in His glory.

1.  His aim:  Glory, Exaltation, Praise, and the magnification of His Name.

To start let’s put us, not out of the picture, but somewhere off dimly in a corner of the picture, with God gloriously filling up the center with all brilliance and splendour.

I want to clearly state, that in no way do I want to understate the purpose of Christ’s dying for us, so that we may have eternal life and forgiveness; nor do I want to underemphasize the value that Jesus Christ places on a single lost soul.  These are topics that we will revisit again and again to understand God’s heart for lost people.  But what I want to try and express, is that we are not the focus point of God’s purposes and plans.  We are not the center of Christ’s dying for us, but rather God’s plan of redemption and the execution of it, at the foundation of its’ goal is that Jesus Christ Himself would be displayed in “the radiance of the glory of God (Hebrews 1:3).”  God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit alone are exalted and displayed in the redemption of man.

The heart of God glories in receiving the Glory that is due to His name.  His ways exalt Himself as supreme over all the earth and everything that has been made and been done throughout all history.  God must love Himself, in all the beauty and fullness of the Trinity, and He must love and put Himself first above all things.  I have heard it explained that if God, who sees all of the perfection and majesty that belongs to Him alone, were to love another more than His self, He would be an idolater.  So it must be that even in Christ’s coming in the likeness of man, yes even in His humbling himself to death on a cross, the furtherance of His glory and exaltation of His name would be in view. 

Philippians 2:6-10 “Though he was in the form of God, (he) did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Look also at these verses, which are only a sample of several of like them, and note God’s purpose for executing His plans, or even from withholding His wrath.

Isaiah 48:9-11 “For the sake of My name I delay my wrath, and for My praise I restrain it for you, in order not to cut you off.  Behold I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.  For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My name be profaned?  And My glory I will not give to another.”

I think it extremely important to show you that God has not changed in the New Testament.  He has not gone from becoming a God-centered God to a man-centered God.  His purposes are still being perfectly carried out primarily for His sake, His Honour, and His praise, yes even in and especially in the salvation of sinners.

Matthew 10:22 “You will be hated by all for my name’s sake.”

Matthew 16:25 “…Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Ephesians 1:11-12 “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

Our Lord wants us to delight and be satisfied in Him, and when we are made able by Him to glory in this way, as we are chiefly created to do, God has great pleasure in what He has accomplished in us. 

(This is only point one of the chapter entitled “What Is So Valuable That Christ Would Die?”  I will post the other points as I write them.  This is again, a portion from the book I’m working on called “The Complex Nature of God’s Hear For Lost People.””)

 

Might We Be True Worshipers of God

 

John 4:23-24 “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 in truth.”

John Piper: “True worship comes from people who are deeply emotional and who love deep and sound doctrine.”  (see whole quote at end)

My Response-

 

My heart;

Arise!

For Jesus calls,

And yearns for me with jealous love

Grow not weary nor wax dull

All creation tells of his glory above. Continue reading