Tag: Worship

WHAT GOD WANTS

Watching the news; observing people and the affairs of humanity; looking in the mirror and thinking of what I’ve done with my own life, I had to ask my God why He would care at all about the human race…

“What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:4).

Those of us who are Bible believers know that we’re not worthy of God’s love: He gives it because He wants to. He did, after all, send His son to die for us while we were in our fallen state. But why? What could he, an infinite, omnipotent, incredible, beautiful God possibly want that we have or that we are?

I have to say that the answer, humanly speaking, is beyond me. If I were God I would probably just give up on the world and start all over. But as I thought the matter over this morning, for the umpteenth time, what came to mind quite apart from some relevant scriptural statements, were the few souls I’ve known in my life who were genuinely wonderful people-people who were consistently different to everyone else in a good way.

I realized that these people all had certain things in common. They were humble, warm, selfless, kind, loving and thoughtful, and lived a life of service. While no human “deserves” God’s love, humans were designed and made in His image. And perhaps in those divine qualities which a few somehow manage to exhibit there’s a glimpse of that image of God, and a strong indicator of what God through his son Jesus Christ seeks to foster in us, and to fill his heaven with for all eternity.

Worship doesn’t just consist of singing or raising hands, it’s more to do with how we live our lives:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:1-2).

Yes, we’re saved by faith in the son of God, because of God’s mercy and grace. But it’s when we consciously live out our faith in truth and genuine love and praise, that we please our Creator, and become the kind of people He wants in his kingdom. How many of us are studying the will of our Father in our lives? Jesus said:

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks (John 4:23 NIV).

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CHRISTIAN MEDITATION

A friend of mine who’s been dabbling in several religions and philosophies for many years including Buddhism, but who’s arrived at no particular view of truth (and probably never will) asked me if I meditate, and if so, what does Christian meditation entail…

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My answer was that whereas meditation within Buddhism and other philosophies is
designed to dismantle and “free” a person of self, and ultimately the “illusion” of
the world around, meditation in a Christian context is centered squarely on the
object of our faith and hope: God, and his son Jesus Christ.
Instead of “emptying” our minds we fill them with Him, and we do this through and by his
own Holy Spirit, who dwells in all true believers. The Spirit of God, in conjunction with his
written word, enables us to see more of Him, to examine ourselves, and to worship Him in
truth and holiness.
I was thinking about how valuable this kind of medition is in our present world. As we look
around, we see Truth being abandoned and lies embraced and promoted. We see freedom
under threat, even at the hands of some of our own leaders who have only their agenda and promotion in mind. We could, if we allowed ourselves, be in some despair or even
depression. But our antidote is the Spirit of our God, and our fellowship is with God and his Son.
Our victory is secure, our home is with the Creator of heaven and earth: we can’t lose.
So let’s keep our eyes on our great God and Savior. Let’s meditate on him and on his word
daily. Let’s lift ourselves, and so those around us, with the kind of intimacy that lasts, forever.

The Manufacturer’s Instructions

I’m frequently amazed by the many people who associate themselves with the Christian faith, who perhaps attend church regularly, who consider themselves to be good citizens (and may well be) but who have no other guide or authority for their life and way of thinking than their own judgment and opinions…

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If you were to conduct a survey even in many American churches, you would probably be able to catalog at least dozens of different definitions of God, salvation, good and evil and heaven, if those surveyed believed anything at all. You could enter a large, apparently successful church service which would give all the appearance of a “religious” gathering, and witness varying forms of alleged worship, “messages”, rituals, expressions of faith and even prayer. But in one-on-one interviews you would learn that a considerable number of the congregants believe all sorts of things their forefathers wouldn’t even have imagined. These include the ideas that aliens seeded life on the earth, that all of life evolved over billions of years, that Moses and the Israelites crossed a shallow stream while the wind just happened to blow the water in a favorable direction, that Jesus Christ was only one of a long series of teachers, avatars or prophets, that he married Mary Magdalene and moved to France to raise a family and grow some grapes and garlic, and that heaven will be the home of everyone ever born including Adolph Hitler.

Churches and their leaders, even in some evangelical circles, have gone in much more for the “feelgood” factor in recent decades: a humanistic, positive-thinking type of ambiance, and much less for the conviction that God has spoken, and that his message has been recorded for our benefit in a collection of books known as “The Bible”.

Many Christians buy into the world’s way of thinking because they’ve happily given up the notion-without any guidance to the contrary-that whatever God there may be could actually have a set of standards for us to live by. And while we don’t necessarily need the old “blood and fire” preaching all the time in the twenty-first century, we certainly do need to be led by ministers who want us to know that God has laid his heart bare so that we can be sure of the way to Life, not by those determined to tickle our ears, entertain us, affirm us in our sin, and move us to part with lots of our money.

HOW TO SHOOT YOUR KIDS, AND OTHER USEFUL TIPS

APOLOGIA PRE-POSTIA…
Some of this post leans heavily on the negative side: I’m sorry, I just have a few things to get off my chest…

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HOW TO SHOOT YOUR KIDS
“Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them” (Psalm 127:4-5 NIV).
Your kids are like arrows in your hand: shoot them straight. From the beginning tell them that there are such things as truth and hope. Show them by your life what and Who Truth is. Demonstrate unconditional love, patience, kindness, gentleness and forgiveness by your own life and godliness. Guide, help and model-don’t nag.

JOINING THE BLAME GAME
A few politicians are blaming such things as terrorism on climate change. So I decided that this year I wouldn’t fill out my tax return: I’ve just been feeling too hot and bothered. I’m sure the IRS will understand.
I’ve also decided to take several weeks off work because this changing weather is just sucking the life out of me: I’m sure my boss will understand. And I’ve decided not to pay for everything I acquire from the store: absence from work has lowered my income. I’m sure the manager and the police will understand. It’s all the fault of people like YOU, driving your evil fossil-fueled vehicles to work so you can pay for your computers and devices powered with EVIL ENERGY!!!

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SILENT MULTITUDES
I was thinking about some of the old hymns I’ve known and loved all my life, which led me to consider all the countless people who’ve sung them over the last two hundred years or more- multitudes of people. Many of them sang passionately, joyfully, tearfully. We can’t hear them now-their voices are silent.
And many millions before them who for centuries existed, lived and loved in our world, sang praises from their hearts, raising the roof with their voices and sharing their faith at the risk of losing their lives. All of them are gone.
In our own time people who once sang and praised their creator pass daily into eternity, and many thousands in countries such as Syria, Iraq and Nigeria have had their lives snuffed out simply for professing their faith, and for refusing to convert to what they couldn’t give themselves to.
Silent they are to our ears…but they aren’t lost. Their lives are hidden with Christ in God, and when Christ, who is their life, appears, they also will appear with him in glory (Colossians 3:3-4).
“After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9-10).

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MISSING GOD
Perhaps when God seems to be absent it’s because he can’t bear to see all that goes on in the world he created. How could he possibly listen to all that unspeakably ugly music, the inane empty godless chatter, the lies and slander, the blasphemy, the hateful words? And how could he possibly watch all the violence, the abortions, the immorality and the idolatry?

JUDGE-MENTAL
It’s amazing to me just how many people who are quick to rail upon the Christian faith for being “judgmental”, don’t think twice about trashing and insulting anyone who may be expressing an opinion contrary to theirs. It’s alright in their eyes to “be anything you want to be”, and to “believe anything you want to believe” unless, that is, you just happen to “be” or “believe” something they don’t like. And they call Christians hypocrites…

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THE TYRANNY OF POLITICAL CORRECTNESS
PC attempts to force everyone to believe that we are animals, with no more value than slugs or pigs.
PC insists that love and sex are synonyms.
PC declares that thousands of years of moral standards have been wrong, that wrong is right and right is wrong. I’m expected to deny my beliefs and those of generations of my ancestors, along with my standards, my convictions and my heritage.
PC says that our enemies have every right to attack us because whatever is upsetting them must be our fault. In this inverted logic even considering self-defense is being “hateful”.
PC says I have to denounce certain facts of history or to revise them, otherwise I’m a bigot, a plunderer, a racist. PC says I’m guilty of what my ancestors are accused of, and they have no opportunity to defend themselves.
PC says I’m guilty because I’m white and because I’m a man.
PC insists that its own view of politics is the “middle, moderate ground”, and that any other opinion is intolerant extremism.

PS: Yes, I did invent the opening sub-title (and the opening heading).

WHAT SHOULD CHURCH MUSIC LOOK LIKE?

I once wrote a post titled “What should Church Music Sound Like?” The natural sequel to such a discussion, to my mind, has to be concerned with what worship should look like…

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This may seem like an odd question to some, but it’s pretty straightforward really. When we all sit or stand in our churches those of us blessed with eye-sight are unavoidably looking at something or someone. And the trend in latter times towards what is termed “contemporary worship” has been towards watching a performance up there on the stage: how cute the girls and guys are, what they’re wearing and how they have their hair; how impressive the guitar licks and drum rhythms are; how cool the light show is; how expensive the sound system is.

There are times when the worshipers are not heard-not necessarily because the band is too loud but because the congregation isn’t singing-they’re too busy watching the performance. In a really bad scenario you will get a dirty look from those around you if you do sing loudly.

Well excuse me, but I can’t help being one of the few voices to raise an alarm here. Who are we supposed to be worshiping: Jesus Christ, or the band? I’m not against the principle of guitars and drums etcetera. What I’m against is the idea that we-the congregation-have to be entertained and impressed. I know for a fact that some people go to church because the music has a “great beat”, or because the vocalist is “cute”. Eventually that “cute” guy leaves his wife and goes off with one of his admirers.

I’m sorry, but that just makes me gag. And on a more spiritual note, it makes me sad and frustrated because the entire point of church is being missed. It’s not about entertainment, it’s about loosing our life to become Christ-like, and so to gain it. It’s about giving all our worship to our Creator: the almighty, omnipotent God and His Son, who alone deserves it all and requires it all.

Alright, I can’t expect churches to do it my way, but let me give a little example of what I personally think church music should look like. For me the most moving and uplifting moments of corporate worship have been when the musicians-at floor level-were obscured by the believers all around me (and I say this as a musician myself-I don’t want to be noticed if I’m playing in church). There was no visual focus, and no sensual stimulation: it was just me, God, and my brothers and sisters in Christ, lifting up our voices far above the music, singing a song written by someone who had been moved to write from his or her own experience with, and view of God. The music was good, yes, and part of the worship, but it was the accompaniment to our worship-not the reason for our presence.