Monday, January 23, 2006

Tuning In: Recalibrating Our Hearts

James 4:8a
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

Assignment: If you want to "draw near", you must first move. Move your chair closer, or pick a closer chair.

Have you been in a soul-numbing rut? Is this really all there is to knowing God?

God is seeking worshippers not worship. He doesn't want a date, but to get married!

How do we recalibrate to that reality?

1. Bring a contrite and courageous heart

Isaiah 57:15
The high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, the Holy One, says this: "I live in that high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I refresh the humble and give new courage to those with repentant hearts.

Ezekiel 36:26
And I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart.

Matthew 5:3
"God blesses those who realize their need for him, the poor in sprit, for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them.

Zaccheus was courageous in his efforts to see Jesus. In Luke 19 it says

Luke 19.3 Message
He wanted desperately to see Jesus.

So he climbed a sycamore tree. He was willing to look out of place, to be embarrassed in order to encounter Him. It takes a certain amount of courage to come to church if you’ve been away from it for a time, or if you’ve never grown up in a church. You don’t know what to expect, just that something is drawing you that may have big meaning in your life, and it is so hard to articulate that at the time.

Attitude: Humility and Gratitude and Desperation

These postures reflect inward attitudes:

Raised hands
Psalm 134:2
Lift your hands in holiness, and bless the LORD.

Raised hands are rich with meaning. Look at a big touchdown in a football game or a huge goal in an Oilers game.

How about when a criminal is caught by authorities. Raised hands are the universal sign of surrender.

A small child raises his hands when mom comes home. Pick me up and love me.

A rock concert- everyone raises their hands. How much more does Jesus have to offer than a music band?

Bow down
Psalm 95:6
Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the LORD our maker.

John 4:23-24
But the time is coming and is already here when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for anyone who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth."

The word used for worship literally means to “Bow down and kiss the feet of the king”.

The truth puts us on our knees!

Be still before God
Ecclesiastes 5:2, 7
And don't make rash promises to God, for he is in heaven, and you are only here on earth. So let your words be few. Dreaming all the time instead of working is foolishness. And there is ruin in a flood of empty words. Fear God instead.

Shout for joy

2 Samuel 6:14-15
And David danced before the LORD with all his might, wearing a priestly tunic. So David and all Israel brought up the Ark of the LORD with much shouting and blowing of trumpets

Nothing about worshipping Jesus is cool to the world. It takes courage to fully abandon themselves to God.


Not spiritually independent: when we open our hearts to God we must open our hearts to others. There are no ‘Lone Ranger’ Christ followers.

"The really happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery when on a detour."

Psalm 95:1-7
Come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us give a joyous shout to the rock of our salvation! Let us come before him with thanksgiving. Let us sing him psalms of praise. For the LORD is a great God, the great King above all gods.He owns the depths of the earth, and even the mightiest mountains are his.The sea belongs to him, for he made it. His hands formed the dry land, too.Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the LORD our maker, for he is our God. We are the people he watches over, the sheep under his care. Oh, that you would listen to his voice today!

2. Substance not style

Your inner life must define and direct your outer life.
We need a worship that transforms. It engages the mind-leads to encounter-and changes us.

We engage our minds. And if we engage our minds in the truth, the proper emotions will flow.

Believe- Perceive- Receive!

Hypocrisy is NOT when actions are inconsistent with feelings; it is when actions are inconsistent with convictions.

"When I discover who I am, I'll be free." Ralph Ellison

We are worshippers!

This doesn’t DIMINISH our role; it DEFINES it. C. S. Lewis

The divine dance of Father, Son and Holy Spirit draws us into their energizing and invigorating movement. In our worship and in our mission we are participating in the intimate life of God. Pete Ward

The best worship to me is when all cultures are present in the same place giving their gifts back to God. That is the sound of Heaven.

Praise is not only the expression of but also the completion of the enjoyment (of God). C. S. Lewis

By commanding us to worship Him, to make Him famous if you will, He is commanding us to enjoy Him.

“Nor is it idolatrous to say our affections in worship are ends in themselves, because our affections for God glorify God, not us. Whoever thought he was glorifying himself and not the Grand Canyon when he stood at its edge for hours in silent awe? Whoever would accuse me of glorifying myself and not my wife when I tell her, ‘I delight to spend this evening with you’? Who would accuse a little child of self-centeredness on Christmas morning if he runs away from his new rocket to hug his mother and say thank you because he is bursting with joyful gratitude?” John Piper

“…All enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise…lovers praising their [beloved], readers their favorite poet…I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment…fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.” C. S. Lewis

It’s all about God! It’s not about us!

“An ordinary simple Christian kneels down to say his prayers. He is trying to get into touch with God. But if he is a Christian he knows that what is prompting him to pray is also God: God, so to speak, inside him. But he also knows that all his real knowledge of God comes through Christ, the Man who was God—that Christ is standing beside him, helping him to pray, praying for him. You see what is happening. God is the thing to which he is praying—the goal he is trying to reach. God is also the thing inside him which is pushing him on—the motive power. God is also the road or bridge along which he is being pushed to that goal. So that the whole three-fold life of the three-personal Being is actually going on in that ordinary little bedroom where an ordinary man is saying his prayers.” C. S. Lewis

Styles: The evolution of twentieth-century worship:
Hymn worship became Chorus worship: This was considered a wild concept when it first came on the scene.
Chorus worship became Blended worship: A blended service is one where no one is happy.
Blended worship became Contemporary worship: People starting looking for a new song to sing to God.
Contemporary worship became Cutting-edge worship: Delirious came on the scene.
Cutting-edge worship became Modern worship
Modern worship became Post-modern worship: Whatever that means.
Post-modern worship became Ancient-future worship: We rediscovered our hymns again.
Ancient-future worship became Neo-classical worship
Neo-classical worship became Emerging worship:

Is it possible that we have outsmarted ourselves and somewhere in the conversation we have lost the simplicity of what worship is all about?

As we now have God with us 24/7 we can be more flexible than ever on worship styles. That’s because you get to choose your own worship method for 166 hours of the week. That’s 99% of the time! The 1.5 hour window on Sunday morning is the time we engage as a community and therefore give up some of our preferences for others that are here, or in the hope that those far from God will be open to our church.

The burden of flexibility should rest with the older folks who may have different preferred styles than the younger people. It’s having the attitude that says, "This certainly isn't the way I worship... but don't even think about stopping this" as you look around whenever young people are gathered together.

Worship critiques:
Assess your own attitude, the motive of your heart. There are times when you or I are just consumers at heart and, really, all we really want is what ‘we’ want. We really don’t care about the rest of the body. We get stuck in “Me Worship”. We just want what we want, and if we don’t get it our way, we complain. That’s the heart of a grumbler; that’s the heart of a consumer.

Have you ever thought about the rhythm of your own personal worship? Does it start with Sunday worship and culminate throughout the week, or does it start Monday A.M. and culminate on Monday?

If Sunday is your only experience, with no Bible/devotional/music/quiet time or listening to God, you’re at best a swimmer going under and coming up in heavy waves. It’s only a matter of time until you go under for good.

Remember, it’s not about Sunday worship; it’s about making/creating/transforming you into a worshipper (a disciple).

Worship is your heart monitor. If it only beats on Sundays you’re at risk for a heart attack: temptation, sin, and eventually death.

Related to the rhythm of your own worship is the motivation:
Worship- participation- engagement-motivation
A motivational appraisal moves beyond participation to the attitude behind it. It asks if your heart was really engaged in worship or if you're merely going through the motions. As an example, when it comes to improving your marriage, your spouse will know if you are simply trying to complete an agenda rather than following the passion of your heart!

2 Timothy 3:5
They will act as if they are religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. You must stay away from people like that.

It's not about 'apperaring religious'; it's about being genuine!

A word on gender differences. When I was kayaking as a way of life I was away from Edmonton for many weekends in a row. I found that I missed church, but not really the singing or the service, it was more the connecting with people part. I was ‘worshipping’ in God’s creation all weekend on the river and in the mountains. Occasionally I missed the singing, but there’s only so much singing I can do. Singing isn’t the entirety of worship. Perhaps you’re similar to myself.

Being in worship does mean that we engage with God. Men often engage differently than women.

The challenge for you men present today is to admit our need for a vital relationship with the true God. Men usually fall into one of two groups:

1. Weak men who may sense a need for God but lack the guts to do anything about it. Perhaps fear of the unknown keeps them from pursuing God. Or perhaps they don’t want to leave the comfort zone.

2. Macho men who say they don’t need anybody, God included. At least that’s what these guys tell themselves. But these terrified little boy’s need God desperately. They can’t admit it.

Worship changes people's lives. Ordinary people who get discouraged, frustrated and hurt, myself included, are the ones who come on Sundays. All of us present are in deep need of God's grace and forgiveness in our lives. Some of us may be on the verge of divorce, murder or suicide. Our worship experience may make a tremendous difference in the life situation that we currently face. In light of that men, don’t become a statistic.

Don’t get caught up in being afraid to worship with abandon, singing and dancing before God. But also realize, like the author of this poem, there are many ways to worship:

I wasted an hour one morning beside a mountain stream,
I seized a cloud from the sky above and fashioned myself a dream.
In the hush of early twilight, far from the haunts of men,
I wasted a summer evening, and fashioned my dream again.
Folks say so who never have walked with God,
When lanes are purple with lilacs or yellow with goldenrod.
But I have found strength for my labors in that one short hour.
I have found joy and contentment;
I have found peace and power.
My dreaming has left me a treasure, a hope that is strong and true.
From wasted hours I have built my life and found my faith anew.

Philippians 3:3
For we who worship God in the Spirit are the only ones who are truly circumcised. We put no confidence in human effort. Instead, we boast about what Christ Jesus has done for us.


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