Showing posts with label worship. Show all posts
Showing posts with label worship. Show all posts

13 June 2013

True worship

Worship is more than a ceremony and it's more than singing songs, it demands sacrifice, a journey and a lifetime of dedication. Three verses clarify this as we look at the worship of Abraham, the Magi and Anna. Can we offer less than they did? 

Dog daisies in a meadow
My wife works with our friends Roger and Carolyn to lead a Small Group, part of Open Door Church here in St Neots. Although I'm not a member of Open Door, I am part of the Small Group.

I was asked to manage the worship part of yesterday's meeting and felt I should share some thoughts about worship before we began to sing and praise together.

If we won't worship him the very stones will do it, the trees of the fields will clap their hands, the meadow flowers will praise him.

Here's an extended version of my notes. There are three verses I'd thought we should consider on the subject of worship.

Abraham - The first one is Genesis 22:5 - "Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you."

Here is Abraham, full of faith as he goes to sacrifice his son Isaac, telling the servant that they will both return. But think for a moment about what is happening here. Abram and Sarai are elderly, so old that when they are told they will have a child, they both laugh at the very idea.

Yet here he is, Isaac is their son, impossible in every way yet an undeniable fact. There can be no doubt that Isaac was Abraham's most precious possession. No-one and nothing could be worth more to the old man. Yet he was prepared to give up his own son.

If you want to worship, you must give up the most precious thing you have for the Almighty's use.

What is most precious to you? Think about it carefully.

The wise men - Matthew 2:2 - "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him."

Having arrived at Jesus' birthplace, how did the Magi worship? Did they perform a ceremony of some kind? Not as far as we know. And how long did they stay?  Possibly quite a short time, perhaps just long enough to present their gifts of gold, fankincense and myrrh.

The account in Matthew tells us very little, however it is clear that these three men had made an extremely long journey to see this new 'King of the Jews'. And having arrived and then quickly left, they had the same journey to do again to get home. They were probably on the road for weeks each way.

The gifts they brought were precious and were a form of worship, but their real worship was the long and arduous journey they had made in order to see the infant king.

Anna - Luke 2:37 - "There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped night and day, fasting and praying."

What was her worship? It was her devotion day after day, year after year. She wasted her life on Yahweh. She could have remarried, had a family, and enjoyed a full and successful life. Yet she gave it all up to serve in the place where Yahweh's Presence rested.

And us? - We must worship 'in Spirit and in truth'. (John 4:23) We must give him the most precious thing we have, it's not about a ceremony or singing songs, it demands a long and arduous journey, it means wasting our lives on him.

There is nothing wrong with singing songs together, especially if they're songs that remind us of the Lord and draw us into his presence. But what he wants from us in worship is much more than songs and a reverent heart.

Two stories - And then I shared two short stories. Both were taken from Steve Addison's book 'What Jesus Started' (an excellent read, by the way). I asked everyone to see if they could spot the worship in the two true stories.

The first is about how Steve met a man on a train and shared the good news about Jesus with him. The second is about a stranger in a Muslim country, going to the imam with questions about the Qur'an concerning Isa (Jesus). One of the men listening to the conversation searches out the stranger later to learn more. In both cases the worship involves taking a risk, obedience, and reaching the lost. There is sacrifice here, giving up the safe and comfortable for the unknown.

And finally, we sang some awesome songs, finishing with Christy Nockels and 'Waiting here for you'.

Questions:

  • What is your own understanding of worship? Is it more about praise or obedience?
  • Can you identify areas in your life where you might worship the Almighty more fully?
  • What is the most precious thing you have?

See also:

17 May 2013

Jesus is tempted

Leaders in the church, Part 9
< John the Baptist | Index | Jesus makes a start >

Jesus was cast out into the Judaean wilderness (an arid semi-desert). As an example of a good leader he was tempted and passed the test with flying colours. We need to be like him in that respect. Whether we are dealing with material things, the miraculous or worship, we'd better get it right.

The Judaean wilderness
After he was baptised, the Holy Spirit led Yahshua (Jesus) away to be tempted.

Because Yahshua is our King, teacher, master and Lord he is the prime example of a leader. He's a perfect example in every way. Therefore, in this study of leadership in the church, there is no better approach than to pay attention to what Jesus said and did.

All of us are tempted, and it follows that all leaders are tempted, and because Jesus lived among us as a human being he was tempted too. So what can we draw out from Matthew 4:1-11?

Spirit led - The prayer Jesus taught his apprentices includes the words 'Don't lead us into temptation but release us from evil'. So it may seem surprising that here in Matthew 4:1 we read that the Holy Spirit led him into a barren place to be tempted.

All leaders suffer particular forms of temptation when they are in a barren place, so let's bear that in mind as we work through these verses. But let's also bear in mind that it's not necessarily wrong to be in a barren place. The Spirit himself may choose to lead us into and through such places in our lives, if necessary repeatedly.

Something to eat - Jesus has come to the uninhabited, semi-desert country where there's little or nothing to eat, he's fasted for forty days and nights. And Matthew 4:2 states the obvious - he was hungry!

In our places of greatest lack and when things are at their most desperate we may be tempted to take shortcuts. For Jesus, bread from loaf-shaped rocks would have been cheating, removing the temptation by means of a shortcut. But we don't grow by taking shortcuts; we don't feed just on bread, we feed on what Yahweh says. We must feed on his words of life. The first temptation is to be more concerned with bodily needs than with spiritual needs.

Something marvellous to see - What could be more of a draw than a man jumping from the top of a high and significant building in the heart of a city and landing unharmed? This time the evil one actually quotes from the Old Testament to make his point! This is about impressing people.

We are all tempted to do whatever it takes to get people's attention. For leaders this is always going to be a potential issue. Nobody is listening... OK then - watch this! Maybe I'm not going to jump off a building, but I might try loud, professional music or fancy artwork or special promotional offers.

But once again we must resist. Jesus shows us the way to handle the issue, the evil one is capable of quoting from the Bible but he is always looking for a way to trap us. He made a double mistake; he tried to test the Son by getting him to test the Father.

He may encourage you and me to test both the Father and the Son, but since that first Pentecost, we also carry in our hearts the same Spirit that is in the Father and the Son. If we are hearing from the Holy Spirit we will be just as hard to trick as the Son himself. We have a real advantage over the enemy.

An offer to receive power - The enemy has dominion over the world and offers to give it to Jesus. But the price is far too high. Jesus will never worship anyone but the Father and neither should we. I almost feel sorry for the destroyer, he is already defeated and nothing he offers is of any real worth. He must be desperate to try a ploy like this!

I will only accept what Jesus offers. I will worship him as he worships his Father. They and their Spirit are one and I will worship only the One.

An issue for leaders - There's a serious consideration here for anyone who aspires to lead. It's bad to go astray. But to lead others astray is far, far worse. If I serve anyone or anything other than the Lord and others follow me, I am leading them into peril. If I worship anyone or anything other than the Lord and others copy me, I am leading them to worship false gods.

We have here three examples, right attitudes to material things (bread), right attitudes to the miraculous (falling without being hurt) and right attitudes in worship (due only to the Almighty). These three stand for a host of other similar things - the stuff of life (daily needs, hobbies, worldly goods) - testing Papa ('look at me' in healing, prophecy, working of wonders) - worshipping false gods (money, power, fame).

Who is worthy to lead? Who will rightly feed the sheep and guide them?  If you set an example the sheep will follow, so make sure your example is a sound one!

Questions:

  • Jesus was tempted in body, mind and spirit. Can you think of examples from your own life?
  • What clues does Jesus' example offer concerning good strategies to avoid sin?
  • How long do you think you could survive in the desert?
  • We all lead and we are all followed. How can you be sure to set good examples in your life? 

See also:


< John the Baptist | Index | Jesus makes a start >

20 November 2012

Stars, whales, and worship

Here's an amazing mashup from Louie Giglio involving stars, some whales, and Psalm 148. I found it yesterday on another blog and want as many people as possible to see it.

I was going to post again today on the topic of heaven. But two items from the web have caught my attention and I feel they should take precedence. We'll look at one today and the other tomorrow.

First is an amazing video involving some stars and whales and based on Psalm 148. This was sent to Dave deVries by his daughter and he decided to post it on his blog. I thought it was so special that I want to share it with my readers too.

It made Dave smile, it made me cry, what will it do to you?



Did you watch it? Isn't it amazing?

Louie Giglio is involved in the Passion Movement, writes books and music (some of them very widely known) and is also a manager of sixsteprecords. He is clearly an excellent and engaging public speaker as you can see from the video.

Questions:
  • Are there other people you know who should see this?
  • What other natural singing can you think of that might have been added? (Hint - if you can't think of anything go outside into a garden or park and listen.)
  • How did you feel when you watched the video?
  • Do you sing enough when you're on your own?

See also:

10 October 2012

Worship in the tracery

We are made in Yahweh's image and as he does all things well, so should we. In fact, working well and to a high standard can be thought of as a form of worship. We take a look at this in terms of mediaeval workmanship.

York Minster's stone traceryA few days ago I posted about York Minster and provided links to a small collection of photos of this famous building. This time I want to focus on one of those images and consider how worship can involve doing things well.

Right at the outset it's worth saying that true worship is 'in spirit and in truth'. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ, and he is also the Spirit of Truth because Jesus is Truth in person. If I worship in and through Yahshua (Jesus) I will indeed worship in spirit and in truth because that is who he is. But can a building be worship?

No it can't, but the act of building it may be. We are made in Yahweh's image and part of that image is creativity. He is creative and he made us to be creative too. It comes out in so many ways, we see it in art and literature, in business, in science and technology. His creativity far exceeds ours and we worship because of that greatness, revealed partly in what he has made. This universe is so far beyond anything we can make. Our creativity is limited to merely rearranging small parts of what already exists; he created it all from nothing.

In terms of quarrying and selecting fine stone, intricately carving it to an overall plan, and assembling it into a beautiful window, a mediaeval craftsman could do an excellent job or a less careful one. He would of course have been paid for his work, but he might also have done his very best in order to glorify the Almighty. To this extent his work would be a form of worship.

If we viewed this lovely window from inside the Minster we would not notice the quality of the stonework but instead we'd be struck by the gloriously luminous stained glass work. Paul writes in Colossians 3:15-25 that whatever we do should be done as if we're doing it for Jesus, in his name, and giving thanks to the Father.

Few of us are called to make beautiful stonework or luminous stained glass. But whatever we are called to do we can (and should) do to the highest standard possible, no matter how humble the task. We can glorify the Creator by doing our very best in everything. He has set an example of work well done and we are meant to follow him in that as in all things.

Another UK blogger, Rhoda, makes the same point very effectively in her post in September called 'A Verse to Memorise - Working Wholeheartedly'. In fact her blog is called 'Living to Please God' and working wholeheartedly is a key part in doing just that.

11 October 2011

THOUGHT - Missing the best

< Building the church | Making things new >

During the 1970s for some time (maybe a year or two) we met with a group of around twenty friends in our homes. The meeting moved from house to house, every week we would collect in a home somewhere - often at our house, Tony and Faith's, or Paul and Jenny's (also close friends). I remember three or four other homes too. We were drawn from a variety of backgrounds, Anglican, Evangelical, Roman Catholic and more.

People at a partyWhenever we met we would pray and sing, praising and worshipping the Father and the Son, feeling the presence of Jesus amongst us, reading the Bible with renewed minds and hearts, and expecting his Spirit to sweep through us releasing us in the use of tongues, interpretation, prophecy, visions and so forth. They were rich times of abundant blessing; we were encouraged and instructed by the Master. We knew that as long as we listened and did as we were told we would stay on track.

Going pear shaped - But eventually tensions and pressures developed and we were drawn in several new directions. We were unable to hold it all together and our focus shifted away from the one thing we had done together to a range of new things that we did separately. Some were drawn into a new home church and others to various larger new ventures further afield.

We had been drawn from many different backgrounds and traditions, gelled as one body for a while, and then were pulled away into myriad other new projects and groups.

Judy and I wanted, I think, to carry on as before - one big happy family of Jesus followers. But soon we were left pretty much isolated and alone. I tried hard to stay in touch with some of the things others were doing but it wasn't the same. I felt I could only take a peripheral and occasional part while Judy really wanted no part of it at all.

I don't think we were alone, I suspect we all wanted to move forward together, and perhaps we all felt we were doing the right thing and just wished the rest would come with us.

With the benefit of hindsight I can see that our focus shifted. We became muddled in our thinking, often following teachings about Jesus instead of following the Teacher himself. It was a trap and we fell right into it! Good teachers have an enormous responsibility to teach wisely (James 3:1).

And it wasn't just us. Others across the nation were being pulled this way and that resulting in many new 'streams' of church life. In some ways these groups have done well and have been mightily used. Our Father is patient and full of grace. But we are further than ever from the goal of one body, one church. There are more divisions now than ever before!

It could happen again - This same trap remains ready and open today wherever people are listening to Yahshua. Stephen Covey once said, 'The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.' And for us the main thing is listening to the Spirit of Christ and obeying him in everything. The moment we put more store in what is being taught than we do in the Teacher (Jesus), we are undone. And this can happen with the best will in the world, it can happen even while we sincerely believe we are following Jesus most closely.

Don't follow the teaching about Jesus, follow the Teacher who is Jesus! Earnestly and zealously following the teaching has a feeling of holiness about it. But the Son himself is the only one worth following; only he is life and light. He is our bread, our wine, and the very air we breathe. So cling to him and let go of everything else.

What I am not saying - Please don't hear what I am not saying. Some examples may help.

Peter Farmer teaches valuable things about making disciples and planting churches. John White teaches valuable things about listening to one another and to Jesus. Frank Viola teaches valuable things about the nature and history of the church. And of course we could easily extend this list.

All of these teachings are good, all are useful, all are helpful. But they are not the 'main thing'. If any one of them became more central and more important than Yahshua himself it would cease to be useful and instead turn into a burden and a stumbling block.

I'm not saying that such a thing has happened with the teachings of Peter, John or Frank - but I do know that it can happen. It happened all too easily in the late '70s and it could happen again today. We need to guard against that! I think it is a danger that arises every single time there's a fresh move of the Spirit drawing us into another new thing. And make no mistake, that is how Jesus builds his church, restoring one thing after another.

Can you share stories of Jesus building his church? Do you have cautionary tales to tell? If so please leave a comment and/or send me your contact details. Mine are on the 'Chris' page, scroll down part way to find them.

< Building the church | Making things new >

03 August 2011

Peterborough - Faith '11

< 31st March 2011 | Index | 10th August 2011 >

Every year Kingdom Faith runs 'Faith Camp', a week of meetings at an agricultural showground. Most years we go along to one or two of the evening meetings, this is a brief account of a session at Faith '11.

An evening at Faith '11Donna and I went with two friends to Faith Camp's evening session on Wednesday (see also Kingdom Faith's website).

After parking and buying our admission tickets we wandered over to the food and drinks vendors where we chose light snacks and something to drink - in my case a freshly cooked doughnut and a coffee.

Then we headed for the meeting and found somewhere to sit. As usual the music was loud; my coffee was certainly not needed to keep me awake! But I felt more free in praise and worship than in previous years. I think this was simply because only one or two songs were used but the words were simple and were played over and over so I didn't need to keep reading. There was a rhythm and flow culminating in spontaneous singing in tongues, and I felt I had the space and time to dance and shout and be filled with a sense of Father's presence and holiness. It was good, very good!

As the music came to an end Steve Uppal (from All Nations in Wolverhampton) began to speak to us and he had some very helpful things to say. I jotted down the main points that particularly impressed me.
  • We're called to be like Jesus; he's our highest role model.

  • Like a tree, get the root right and the fruit will follow. We absolutely need to plant our roots in Yahshua.

  • We have to want to respond to everything the way Yahshua himself would do. We need to willingly go through whatever he wants us to go through. He doesn't offer an easy or comfortable journey, nor was his own journey an easy one.

  • We need to learn to live in the resting place of the Most High.

  • When we are close to him we grow, when we're distant we shrivel.

Steve told the story of Smith Wigglesworth and the Welshman called Lazarus. It's a story of faith and healing. You can read Wigglesworth's own account of it online if you like (read pages 16 - 20).

And then Steve read Colossians 1:15-20 where Paul writes about Christ's supremacy over all things.

After all this, we were able to spend more time in free praise and worship. It was a great evening, time well spent indeed!

< 31st March 2011 | Index | 10th August 2011 >

29 March 2011

ANNOUNCEMENT - Moggerhanger gathering, 10th April

The Moggerhanger meeting on 10th April will be a time for rejoicing in Jesus' presence, giving him all the glory, and listening to what he will tell us. Come in expectation!

Bluebells at Moggerhanger ParkWe announced this meeting back in February and now, with only twelve days left, this is a final reminder.

We've booked space at Moggerhanger Park between Bedford and Sandy. We plan to meet for lunch, then we'll spend the afternoon in open praise, worship, and sharing. There will be no prepared music and no invited speaker; we'll just meet in a circle (Jesus at the centre) and wait to see what he will do amongst us. We can be sure he will surprise us and delight us just as he always does.

Here are the directions to Moggerhanger Park. The approximate schedule will be...
  • 13:30 - Optionally, meet at the front of the house for a walk (if dry).
  • 14:00 - Gather in the house for a simple meal.
  • 14:45 - Spend time together as the Spirit leads. We will finish when we finish.
Jesus has told us he'll definitely be joining us provided at least two or three turn up.

What we need to know - If you plan to join us please mail me names and contact details (email address and phone number).  If you are replying on behalf of several people please include names for all of them, and for under 16s include ages as well. We will provide some materials to occupy children but you will be responsible for supervision (you may be able to share this by taking turns with other parents).

There will be no charge for the afternoon but we will provide a basket for contributions towards the costs.

You may find notes on previous meetings useful, particularly if you haven't experienced one of these gatherings before. The notes include announcements sent out and a report on each meeting.

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