Thursday, December 29, 2011
Friday, December 23, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
I almost caught a glimpse of something recently; I was so close and was right there at the door. Sometimes I can get so frustrated when I get right to the door, and I don't get in. But it ran very closely with Revelation chapter 4. What's going on up there in heaven? And if it's going on up there, why ain't it going on down here? If it's going on up there, can it go on down here? Does God have one purpose for those things in heaven and a whole different purpose here on the earth? Or in the beginning did He create these things to complement one another, to be joined in unison? Right now, as I'm writing this, the angels of heaven are gathered around the throne of God singing, "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord."
It's interesting that in John 4:23, Jesus says that, "The true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth." True worshipers therefore worship in spirit and truth. That's point number one that I want to share. You have to ask yourself, "Am I a true worshiper?" They worship in spirit and in truth. And Jesus says, "The Father is seeking such to worship Him." God is searching, and where does He look? If God is looking to see if it's "spirit and truth worship" that is being offered, where does He look? Well, I suppose He's looking into the hearts of those who are rendering worship to Him. All religions have some form of worship. So the Lord is looking in the hearts of those who worship to see, I believe, if they are worshiping in spirit, and if they are worshiping in truth.
I'm going to bring up a touchy subject here, so please do not get offended. If you are, it's okay, but just try not to be. It would seem that true worshipers of God could and would recognize Him regardless of the culture, the environment, or the style of music being played. I've been thinking about this all week. I've heard people say, "Well, I don't like the music; I can't connect with that style of worship." Do you know what that attitude says? It says that worship is all about me and what brings me fulfillment, what satisfies my soul. We should be able to worship whether we're singing from a hymnal or singing off the wall!
I've had the privilege of worshiping amongst many cultures: American, Hispanic, North African, Haitian, Chinese, Brazilian, Trinidadian, Thai, and many that I haven't mentioned. The amazing thing is that no matter the culture-even if they're playing a bean pod and a broken accordion-I can have a worship experience and encounter God. Why? Because God is there! Anywhere God is, we ought to be able to worship Him. Do you believe God is everywhere? Then it doesn't matter what the music sounds like. WE'RE WORSHIPING GOD! It doesn't matter if we're in a jungle or an air-conditioned, carpeted building. It doesn't matter if they're playing maracas or electric guitars. It's not about the music; it's about God! It's about worshiping Him!
So if we believe God is ever-present, we shouldn't struggle with the form of worship. I get a kick out of people, "Well, you know, culture is very important." I hear about culture all the time. "We don't want to lose our culture." Oh really? Well, that goes contrary to the teachings of Apostle Paul. We need to give our culture up, our old culture, that is, and grab hold of our new culture. Welcome to the Kingdom! Everything is made brand new. "Well, what about my roots?" Some people have such tight earthly roots that they're going to have a hard time going when the trumpet sounds. What happens is that we get used to a certain form of worship, and then we just can't seem to connect with God in any way except our own. I would challenge that mentality. I would ask the question, "Is this attitude healthy, and is it accurate according to Scripture?"
Those are some points to ponder and ask yourself. Please take some time this week to reflect upon your response to God and examine your heart to evaluate if you're a "spirit and truth worshiper," or if you've been allowing your preferences to run rampant and dictate the depth of your worship experience. My prayer is that no matter where we are in our "spirit and truth worship" progress, that we take the opportunity this week to go even deeper.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
I want to talk about the core values of Cliffdale: Worship, Outreach, Relationship, and Discipleship. The acronym for our core values is the word "WORD." Let's spend some time talking about worship, the first core value. It is so essential. If something is essential, what does that mean? It means that it's the essence. What is the essence of our lives? The essence is the center; it is the most important point; it's the part from which everything else flows or springs.
There is nothing more essential than worship in the life of the believer, and we can prove this by examining Scripture. Worship is not something that we simply gather to do on Sundays. Worship is the very reason that we were created, and you don't have to be a Jordan Deal or your favorite Christian artist or singer to participate. All mankind has this in common: we were created to worship. Obviously worship has been perverted by the world. Isn't it amazing though how gifted many sinners are? People who have no knowledge of Christ? That's not to condemn, that's just an observation. You don't even have to be able to sing like a mockingbird; that's the beauty of worship.
How essential is worship to you? Worship is not just music; it's not just singing. I have a small paperweight that somebody gave me years ago that says, "My work is part of my worship." My work is part of my worship. What we do, day in and day out, should be viewed as part of worship. You've no doubt heard many sermons preached or lessons taught from John chapter 4. But there are probably very few Scriptures, particularly in the New Testament, that focus on worship and its power more than that passage. We have to get it out of our heads that when I say the "power of worship," that it means coming to church and singing songs, singing in the shower, or singing on the way to work. Music and songs are just one form of worship.
Do you believe in creation? The pat answer in church is that, "I believe in creation." I think that before we answer questions, particularly regarding our beliefs, we ought to consider well what the question is before determining that we are giving an accurate response. Do you really believe in creation?
We spent the last two days out in the woods camping, and you know how it is, you feel closer to God for whatever reason. You're out there with the trees and the water and the stars, and yes, the rain and the wind as well. There are certain environments or places that can allow us to have a different experience in worship, maybe experience a different level of worship. Church is supposed to be one of those places. God ordained the Church to be a house of worship. He's always had a gathering place for the purposes of corporate worship and the teaching of His Word.
Again, do you believe in creation? My youngest son and I were watching a science show the other night, and they were showing the Hubble telescope and how mankind would now be able to see how planets are formed, how the gasses come together, and how a new sun is created. And I have no doubt that the above is true. The problem is that when you leave God out of the equation, the questions remain, "Where did it all originate? Where did those gasses come from?"
So we know from Genesis 1:1 that God created the heavens and the earth. And it's an awesome thing to consider that this very same God who created the universe has called you and I by name, selected us, and called us to Himself. So how does worship work into all that? When you consider the handiwork of God, how can you not but worship Him? Again, worship is what we were created for. There were other reasons we were created, but we were fashioned to be instruments of worship and since the very beginning of time, mankind has demonstrated the need and the innate desire to worship.
In my opinion, it was what moved Abel in Genesis 4 to bring the firstborn of his flock as an offering to Jehovah; that was an act of worship. And the truth is that from Egypt, to the temple, to our present day and time, we see this desire being demonstrated through mankind. We see it in Moses, Miriam, Joshua, Paul, Silas, and the prophets. These are all examples of man's need to worship and God's desire to be worshiped. There is so much to be said in this regard. We'll pick up with this topic in the next blog.