Tag Archives: worship

The Same or Different?

28 Jun

IMG_3012Am I that different from the demons?

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by 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.  Philippians 2:5-11.

The Beginning

God created everything and everyone – including Satan. Satan was glorious! His traditional name is Lucifer, meaning “light-bearer”. Satan rebelled against God and fell from heaven (Luke 10:18). His angels (demons) fell with him (Rev 12:9).

We are created beings (Gen 1:27). We fell from grace (Gen 3; Rom 3:23).

Both angels and humans were created by God, and both left His presence and were banished by God. Both wanted to be out from under God’s authority but found after disobedience to not only still be under His authority, but also be under His wrath (Matt 25:41).

The End

In Philippians 2 the words “should bow” are one Greek word: kampto – to bow or bend. The implication is not that they should bow, but that they will. Kampto means: “…the gesture of full inner submission in worship to the one before whom we bow the knee. Thus in Rom. 14:11 bowing the knee is linked with confession within the context of a judgment scene, and in Phil. 2:10 it again accompanies confession with reference to the worship of the exalted Kyrios [Christ] Jesus by the cosmos.”*

The little word and appears twice between beings in three locations: those “in heaven AND on earth AND under the earth.” The Greek word translated as and (kai) is “a primary particle, having a copulative and sometimes also a cumulative force.”** In other words, the addition of each group adds scope, breadth, and importance. The implication in mentioning every sphere in which beings dwell is that every one, without exception, will bow before Jesus, declaring Him Lord. (See also Rom 14:11 and Rev 5:13.)

Humans and fallen angels then, defined as created beings, will both worship Jesus.

The Same

Are there differences between humans and fallen angels? Certainly. Too many for this short post. However, the similarities are striking, and they are what have captured my mind lately– especially regarding worship. Another similarity of these two groups is that the eventual worship (kampto) of Jesus will not be forced. There are other Greek words Paul could have used in Philippians to describe obligatory homage. The picture here is that Jesus is so great – His name is so far above (Greek huper means far beyond and exceeding, not just the first or most important) every other name, we won’t be able to keep from bowing.

His presence will send us all to our knees.

———-

READY FOR SUNDAY

The questions for me are simple… and profound: will I choose to worship God, and will I allow His presence to send me to my knees.

If not, am I any different from the demons?

———-
*Kittel, G., Bromiley, G. W., & Friedrich, G. (Eds.). (1964–). Theological dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman
**Strong, J. (2001). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

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Why Gather?

7 Sep

WHY 

QUESTION:

Why do we come together on Sunday mornings?

This is a serious question, not an off-handed, patronizing shock-question at the beginning of a blog. I’ve been asking myself this for several months.

We don’t need to be together to worship God. We can do that on our own at home, walking through the woods, lying on a beach, or riding on the subway.

We don’t need to gather together to hear the Word of God preached and taught. Again, we can do that at the kitchen table, in the forest, beside the ocean, or in a train car.

So what’s the big deal about Sunday? (And I do believe it IS a big deal.)

There are many passages in Scripture about meeting together. One of the most notable being Hebrews 10:24-25. However, what continues to hit me this week are two passages in Psalm 116:

14 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.

18 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the Lord—
in your midst, Jerusalem.

The Psalmist desires to make good in front of God’s people– not for his own glory…

12 What shall I return to the Lord
for all his goodness to me?

…but because God has been good to him.

Once again, in the midst of one of the most hedonistic societies in the history of civilization (though overused, “It’s not about me,” is truer in this situation than any other), can we agree that every worship service is not for us worshipers? Not for my comfort, my preferences, my senses, my edification, or my enjoyment. Not one iota, jot, or tittle. That is not to say that some of our desires aren’t met in the process of worshiping God, but they are merely side effects– not what drives the event or the goals of it.

So, why do we gather together as a church body? Simply, to worship God together and publicly proclaim His goodness.

Nothing else matters except that God is glorified.

Soli Deo Gloria.

————————–

READY FOR SUNDAY

What if all of us arrived at our places of worship this week with an all-consuming goal and singular focus that God be glorified in all that is done, said, sung, and thought?  How would my attitude be different? What about my interactions with people would change? How would I handle distractions from this goal? Would I prepare differently today?

Writing this blog can be so humbling and convicting! I’m hoping reading it is, too. Will you join me in this? Can a revolution in our churches start with us, this week, that will change our hedonism into God’s glory as He is enthroned on our praises?

Top 10 Ways to Encourage Your Worship Leader

12 Apr

Chicago worship

Instead of writing a devo to encourage you and your worship team this week, I thought I’d post this list I’ve been tweaking for several months. Maybe you can slip it into your Facebook feed so those you lead see it.

This list is based on experiences and conversations over the last couple of decades. I have been blessed to serve in churches that get this. For the most part.

And so… drum roll please….

#10 – Encouragement.  Worship leaders are an artistic group, often with melancholy personalities. I’ve heard that for the general population it takes seven encouraging comments to offset one negative remark. For artistically invested folks the ratio is at least double that. Besides, encouragement never gets old, and it’s free! I have a file of encouraging cards that I read when I’m discouraged. I wouldn’t mind one more.

#9 – Feedback. Kindly given constructive feedback helps me figure out how to help our congregation connect with God better. Don’t be offended if I ask, “Can you explain that a little better?” I really do want to know what you’re saying. And I definitely like constructive feedback that is sandwiched between positive comments. (See #10.)

#8 – Administrative help. Yep I’m creative. That means administrative details are difficult and draining even if I am good at them. Can you get the music ready each week? Can you handle volunteer communication? While these seem like tiny tasks, my week is full of these tiny admin pebbles in my artistic boots that can wear me down. What seems easy to you can take a tremendous weight off me.

#7 – Music gift cards. Don’t buy me music – I may already own the file. A gift card with suggestions of new music works better. Just be careful when suggesting a new song in hopes that we’ll sing it in church. I put a lot of thought and prayer into bringing new songs to the body. Not using your song during the service doesn’t mean that I don’t like your music. So let me know your favorites, and let’s enjoy listening together.

# 6 – Invitation to worship.  A big part of my job is to lead you in worship every Sunday. Don’t get me wrong— I love my job! I also enjoy worshiping God when someone else is stressed about whether the keyboard player will remember the intro. (I play keys, so I can say that!) This week I was invited to the senior worship project of one of our interns. What a soul-refreshing treat!!

#5 – Tickets to a production.  Artistic people soak up inspiration. In fact, we need it like our physical bodies need food and without it my soul begins to whither. A play, art show, night at the symphony, and other events outside the church music world are a necessary luxury that is usually unaffordable. Please check with me though, to make sure I have the date open before you buy tickets. A bonus would be to include a ticket for my spouse.

#4 – Time to create. Creative cross-training keeps me focused and sharp. This is similar to #5, except that I’m engaged, not just soaking it up. Make arrangements for me to take a workshop or spend all day in my studio. Again, check with me to make sure this works with my schedule, then drop off a basket of snacks or a brown bag lunch so I can create all day without stopping.

#3 – Initiate. Do you see a need and have the ability to take care of it? Even something simple would make my day! Wrapping cables, re-setting the stage, sorting music, throwing away coffee cups, stacking chairs…. What do you see me doing when you leave the church? Offer to help me do it, and let’s serve together!

#2 – Pray. All week my efforts go into arranging everything in the worship center and service so that you can have a dynamic encounter with God. I pray for you and for the service. I would love to know that you are praying for me. Drop me a note or an email. Send an encouraging Scripture. When someone sends me a verse or two it often hits the aching spot in my heart. Like preaching pastors, worship leaders are on the front lines— leading the charge into enemy territory similar to the worship leaders who led the Israelite army into battle. The age-old tactic to take out the leader is a favorite one of our enemy’s. I can’t do what I do without prayer. The stakes are too high: we need to gather together and worship God.

#1 – Worship. The best way to encourage your worship leader is to worship God. Some of you connect best with him by pulling into yourselves. Head down, hugging yourself, lips barely moving… you are deeply worshiping him. When worshiping him in community, our main purpose is still to individually worship Him from the depth of our souls – but to do it together. The dynamic is different even though the purpose remains the same. To encourage those around physically show with your posture, countenance, and voice, what is going on in your heart. Try being more overt. Throw your hands up high in adoration. Kneel and cry out to him. Sing so loud you are hoarse. When you worship alone, you have only God to consider. When we can see you are worshiping God, we worship him more deeply—and I lead you better.

Knowing others are worshiping God is the second most glorious experience for a worship leader.

The first is worshiping him.

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