And so it begins…
The lights were half dimmed as a drummer positioned behind ten other musicians began to play a loud militant beat. The sound increased with fervency as the other band members joined in one by one. Finally the lead guitar begins a riff to which the dancing crowd shouts out and claps along. The stage lights change up when the lead singer begins to sing a song about the power of love. People stream down to the front to dance and hug their friends on the way down. Clasping their hand and bringing them along, the stage area fills up with dancing, jumping, spinning, clapping and whooping. The band plays on.
Several songs pass that shift from dancing victorious to slow waltzes of longing and adoration. At an emotional moment, the pastor walks up in front, loudly singing into his microphone and facing the crowd as he walks up the stage steps, so the lead musician will see him and give him way to speak. The band shifts its tune to play inspirational back up as the pastor conveys a message that inspires the people to cry out to God for their healing and for revival to the area. The band picks up the music, the people dance again. The song ends and people sit down as everyone’s favorite guy in church walks forward to give a hip rendition of why we should put money in the offering and then leads a corporate prayer of calling in the prodigals and financial harvest for seed planted in the offering. People cheer excitedly at the prayer end. Favorite Guy high fives the pastor as they pass the microphone. The pastor smiles, makes a joke and prays over everyone to hear what the Spirit of The Lord is saying. During the following sermon, he speaks on where the church was, is and where it is going. He gets excited and louder as he details the coming revival and how we each have a part in it. He says, in fact, we can have revival right now if we want it.
“Do you want revival?” he shouts.
“Yes!” the people agree.
“Do you want more of Jesus?” he asks.
“Jesus!” the people call out in a frenzy.
“If you want MORE, I want you to come forward right now. Prayer team, please come forward. We are going to pray for you all. If you are not on the Prayer Team, please do not pray for people, just the Prayer Team. Thank you. Now just keep coming, make room everyone.”
The pastor begins praying into the mic and laying hands on people. Soon he begins yelling his prayer and hands the mic off as he slaps each hand on two different foreheads. The crowd is cheering, chanting “Jesus!” or “Fire!” and some start to weep. Others fall to the ground laughing and rolling around. The people in the back of the sanctuary vigorously wave their flags as the room has broken down into complete chaos. After a couple hours of this, church slowly empties.
That must have been some church! Obviously those people know how to worship, the pastor is truly anointed and the word that came forth must have been from God. Really? How do you know? There are so many things that look and sound right about it, how could any of it be in error? Exactly. How could it? Weren’t people touched and changed? Isn’t that what church is about? Well, yes and no.
What does God say?
The book of Exodus, for example, enumerates many instances of worship that were of bowing the head and worshiping. Bowing the head before an authority figure is a military act of complete submission before your conqueror. It says you are prepared to be executed. In war, you would be forced to do this and you would be on your knees, to boot. Before the Lord, you do this willingly. In essence, we are saying to God that we offer our lives to Him. Complete humility. We know that every time we come before the Lord and we bow we are saying take my life it is Yours.
Deuteronomy 12 contains an outline for the Lord’s people to use.
What not to worship and eradicating improper worship:
“You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations which you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. And you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and burn their wooden images with fire; you shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place. You shall not worship the LORD your God with such things.” Verses 2-4
If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times. Don’t serve idols. We all know that money and stuff can be idols in our lives. That discussion is well merited, although today I am not whipping that dead horse. Have you ever considered why some teachers, evangelists, pastors and prophets sell so many books, CDs or DVDs? Or why a church band might sell so many of their CDs? Perhaps being recognized as having a legitimate ministry? Striving for that title can certainly be an idol. (By the way, don’t bother going for that label. Your reward is in Heaven, not among men- but that talk is for another day.) Did you know that your pastor or church’s leaders or “super anointed” people can be idols? Reserved seating, special considerations, teaching much touted classes, free access to the pastor’s microphone should they have a “word” to share? Did you also know that your preferences for church services like “freedom” can be idols? Did you ever consider that your quest for “freedom from religion” may be an idol? If others do not bow to it too, you may be a touch condescending in your self righteousness. Wow. Hope your toes don’t hurt too badly there.
What proper homage looks like:
“But you shall seek the place where the LORD your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you shall go. There you shall take your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, your vowed offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. And there you shall eat before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice in all to which you have put your hand, you and your households, in which the LORD your God has blessed you.” Verses 5-7
Worship is about offering yourself. It is not about what you get out of it. The more sincere your worship, the more it costs. It will cost you whatever you are willing to give. If you have ever prayed to be a radical Christian or desired to be sold out for God, you are in for an eye opening experience. In verses 5-7 you see that you must do these things– go where you are told to go (obedience), give offering, make sacrifice, give money, give offering, give offering, give offering, and more sacrifice. Pretty strong picture of what you should be doing. If you want to be a worshiper, you must sacrifice. A lot. It will cost you everything. By definition, everything means everything. “Have you considered my servant Job?” In this place of genuine worship, the Lord is able to bless you. He promises in verse 7 that He will eat with you and that He has blessed you in all of your worship. What an amazing promise!
Worship is also about abstaining and self control. It is not a fellowship get together to chat during services while your children play Nintendo under the pews. The time for your latte and pastry is later. Outside. When Jesus overturned the tables in the temple… He would have overturned the espresso machine too, if they had one.
Not every church or other location is suitable:
“Take heed to yourself that you do not offer your burnt offerings in every place that you see; but in the place which the LORD chooses, in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I command you.” Verses 13, 14
Not every place, that calls itself a house of prayer or house of God, is. Even if you know some good solid Christians go there. Your eyes had better be wide open wherever you go- or rather BEFORE you go. And IF you find yourself in a “place which the Lord chooses”, be sure to be “clean” and conduct yourself in worship while there.
What a lifestyle of worship is not:
“every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes” verse 6
This is a song that never changes. People in the Bible were always getting busted for this. The Lord is not running in an election for “God”. God is God, you are not. His rules. You don’t get to make any rules. None. And no amendments either.
Pull out the Bible and use it as the plumb line in your life. The measuring rod. Cleaning up your life means both the seen and the unseen parts. Your hidden sin is only hidden to some people; to other people you wear it like a nametag. Twisting the word of God to justify your white lies or pornography “dalliances” isn’t going to fly. Your entire life must show the fruit of genuine sacrifice to the Most High. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” [Galatians 5:22] Ephesians 5 is a good place to start when looking for a plumb line. The Bride of Christ is supposed to make herself ready. Let’s get to work!
Do not worship in the way the world does:
“When the LORD your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.” Verses 29-31
There are many ways we worship in the way the world does. I am not advocating a return to hymnals or acappella; that is still “off” and going to the other side of the spectrum. Worship is not a rock concert complete with light show, guitar riffs and drum solos. Worship is not borderline hedonism. Worship is about submission remember? It is not taking the Bible and pretending we are smoking it like marijuana. It is not on a mission to get “drunk on Heavenly wine” or to prescribe yourself like a feel good remedy akin to Prozac or margaritas to cure your blues.
It is not making sure others see you behave “worshipful”, “anointed” or see you giving your money. Drawing attention to you is the opposite of worship. Worrying about what others think of your worship is not worship.
Again… worship is not about you. Worship is about sacrifice to the Lord.
That is the very bottom line. Right there. Worship is not about you. It is not about what you get out of it. It is about what you do NOT get out of it. You must leave yourself, your flesh, at the foot of the Cross. Rejoice in leaving your self at the Cross. Rejoice in the Lord. Show Him you love Him and you love His word. Your heart motive, your focus is what is important. When you sacrifice yourself to Him that is when you are blessed. If you are offering a sacrifice to get blessed then you are wasting your time and sacrifice. Seek to please Him in all you do.
“Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD?
Or who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol,
Nor sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive blessing from the LORD,
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him,
Who seek Your face. Selah” [Psalm 24]
Church, won’t you join me? Make your whole life a living sacrifice to the Lord. Time is getting short. Jesus is coming. Will you, the Bride, make yourself ready?
Last 5 posts by Kajsa Huckaba
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- Lawlessness and The Church - December 26th, 2011
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