Monday, January 16, 2006

Tuning In: Worship As A Way Of Life

We skied at Rabbit Hill on Tuesday, & the cell phone reception was terrible. At the bottom of the hill you kind of had to hold the phone just right, otherwise you’d lose connection. I think Winston can identify with poor cell phone reception in an elevator where you have to hold it to the top of the car, right Winston? It was a bit better at the top of the hill. Perhaps you’ve experienced something like that.

Or have you ever used those 2-way radio walkie-talkie’s, well you need to be on the same channel to get reception. And have you ever tried to get a radio station and you turn the dial just right because otherwise you’d miss it. Well for the next couple of weeks we’ll talk about dialing into God’s frequency; tuning our lives into a life of worship. If we’re not dialed in, if we’re not tuned in, we’ll miss God and what He’s up to in our life and in the world around us.

You were created to worship. What does worship mean to you?

Sometimes someone will say, “Oh, worship was a little off today.” What do they mean? They mean that when we get together to sing, that’s worship. That’s only a small sliver of what it is to worship. You cannot not worship.

Think about that for a minute. You cannot not worship. It all boils down to what we’ll worship. From recorded human history, we have always worshipped, be it unknown or known Gods, celebrities or leaders, conquest and achievement, the beautiful and attractive, and the list could go on.

Moses led the Hebrews out of Egypt with miraculous signs. The Red Sea was parted. He goes up to meet with God and less than 40 days later what have he people created to worship? A golden calf! They couldn’t go more than 40 days without worshiping something tangible in their lives. We’re probably not any different.

This series is about “Worship as a way of life.” Because “Worship is a way of life.”

Someone has said, “We worship our work, work at our play, and play at our worship!” Has this been true in your own life?

There are two ideas to keep in mind in order to live worship as a way of life:

1. You were created to worship.
That’s what we’ve already been talking about. Listen to what the Bible says,

Habakkuk 3:2
I have heard all about you, LORD, and I am filled with awe by the amazing things you have done. In this time of our deep need, begin again to help us, as you did in years gone by. Show us your power to save us. And in your anger, remember your mercy.

Isaiah 26:8
LORD, we love to obey your laws; our heart's desire is to glorify your name.

That my friends is about as good a practical definition of worship that I can find. “Our heart's desire is to glorify God’s name.”

Some of you may remember from the Westminster Confession that our chief aim is “to glorify God.”

We need a "God's Eye View". We need to see life from His perspective.

We need an altitude adjustment. We need to experience Josh Groban's song, "You Raise Me be more than I can be (see January 1st post).

Worship is really 'worth-ship".

Because worship is worthwhile and God's highest desire for us, Jesus commands us to, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37,) and calls us to worship only him, "Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only" (Matthew 4:10).

Worship is acknowledging God's worth! The word "worship" is used over 250 times in the Bible and always describes actions acknowledging another of greater worth. Foundationally, worship is losing oneself during the encounter with God's greatness. This truth also contains the promise of new life. Jesus said, "For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it." (Luke 9:24)

Community of Hope proclaims what the Bible tells us about God's worth: that he creates all things good; that when we sinned, God sent his only Son, Jesus Christ, that we might have life; and through the Holy Spirit God renews that life daily. This is true worth.

Biblical worship involves the whole person, the community of believers, an orderly structure, God's truth and his Spirit. It is more than simply ritual or outward activities. True biblical worship is a response to God's love emerging from our grateful hearts and the truth we experience in God's Word. Jesus tells us, "... true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks" (John 4:23). Finally, worship deals with the whole of our lives. "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men" (Colossians 3:23).

Worship = Revelation of God + our Response. "All of me for all of You."

Because their brains are "hard-wired to connect" to people and to God, adolescents who attend church are healthier and happier than those who do not, a major American study has discovered.The study, first reported in 2003, was undertaken by the Commission on Children at Risk, a joint initiative of Dartmouth Medical School, the YMCA, and the Institute for American Values, comprising 33 children's doctors, research scientists, and mental health and youth service professionals.

As the American Family Association Journal reported, they found through the use of techniques such as brain-imaging that from birth the human brain seems to have a built-in capacity - or is "hard-wired" - for religious experience, and in particular a relationship with God.This need - in the commission's words - "to connect to ultimate meaning and to the transcendent," is a development process they believe to be most prevalent during adolescence."Their brains are changing, their relations with family, friends and the opposite sex are changing, and they're beginning to figure out what their purpose in the world will be," said commission member and University of Virginia sociologist Brad Wilcox, as quoted recently in the Edmonton Journal.

"We know that people often turn to God in the midst of momentous changes. Adolescents are no different."And when this religious or spiritual yearning is addressed, the result, the researchers assert, is young people "who appear to have higher self-esteem and more positive attitudes about life.""Compared to their less religious peers," they said, "religious teenagers are safer drivers and are more likely to wear seatbelts. They are less likely to become either juvenile delinquents or adult criminals. They are less prone to substance abuse. In general, these young people are less likely to endorse engaging in high-risk conduct or to endorse the idea of enjoying danger."They are also "less likely" to be depressed, and "more likely" to eat well, be satisfied with their families and school, volunteer in the community, and be active in sports and in student government.

What adolescents need, they concluded, is "authoritative community" - relationships with adults, especially parents, that can offer them moral and spiritual nurturing.

In a speech last May to the graduating class of Dallas Theological Seminary, youth evangelist Josh McDowell said this study has two basic implications for Christians."First, you must develop loving, intimate relationships with anyone to whom you hope to impart information in a way that it will impact that person's life.

Second, you need to model the truth you want to see ingrained in another person's life," he said.

"You future parents and grandparents, please hear me. What this means is that you may be able to expound and exposit truth to your children, but unless your children know deep down in their heart that you love them, they may very well walk away from the truth."

We were created to worship, we will worship, it’s just a matter of what we’ll worship. In this sense worship isn’t just a church word.

Men and women are religious beings; our heart instinctively seeks for a God. Whether we worship on the banks of the Ganges, pray with our face upturned to the sun, kneel towards Mecca or, regarding all space as a temple, commune with the Heavenly Father according to the Christian creed, man is essentially devout.
William Jennings Bryan

Our second big idea about worship as a way of life is:

2. It’s not about you.

It's not about you. Rick Warren

Not only do we need an altitude adjustment, we also need an attitude adjustment. Worship is about our attitude to God.

There is a Consumer mindset in the church.

It shows itself first as a selfish orientation and second as a reflection of the consumer society around us.

There is a conference coming up called the PAPA Festival: it’s the “People Against Poverty and Apathy”. Consumerism in society and the church blinds us to poverty because we’re too into getting more for me. And when someone points this out we shrug our shoulders in apathy and say, “What could I ever do about it?”

When we tune into God we usually first try station WIIFM: What's In It For Me?

Have you ever sung these songs, if not out loud in your heart? Listen to our friends at K-Tel Worship Records present this great new collection, "Me Worship":

"It’s all about me Jesus"
It's all about me, Jesus
And all this is for me
For my glory and my fame
It's all about me,
You should do things my way
You alone are God
but you should surrender to my ways

"I Exalt Me"
For I, O Lord, am high above all the earth
I am exalted far above all gods
For I, O Lord, am high above all the earth
I am exalted far above all gods
I exalt me, I exalt me
I exalt me, O Lord
I exalt me, I exalt me
I exalt me, O Lord

“Lord I Lift My Name On High”
Lord I lift my name on high
Lord I love to sing my praises
I'm so glad I’m in your life
I'm so glad I came to save us
You came from Heaven to earth
To show the way
From the earth to the cross
My debt to pay
From the cross to the grave
From the grace to the sky
Lord I lift my name on high

“There Is None Like Me”
There is none like me,
No one else can touch my heart like I do,
I can search for all eternity Lord
And find, there is none like me.
There is none like me.
No one else can touch my heart like I do,
I can search for all eternity Lord
And find, there is none like me.
Your mercy flows like a river wide,
And healing comes from Your hand.
Suffering children are safe in Your arms,
There is none like You.
There is none like me, (There is none like me, Lord)
There is none like me.
I can search for all eternity Lord,
There is none like me.
I can search for all eternity Lord,
There is none, (there is none,)
There is none Lord,
There is none like me.

“I Am Why I Sing”
I live for me
All that I am
All that I do
My heart beats with me
And each day I wake
I think of me
I am why I sing
I am why I live
Everything of me
I release at your feet
I am why I love
I am why I give
Everything of me belongs to you
I live for me
I am my god
I am the truth
I’m all that I need
My soul it longs more of me
I am why I sing
I am why I live
Everything of me
I release at your feet
I am why I love
I am why I give

And finally that great Christmas classic,
"O Come Let Us Adore Me"
O come let us adore me
O come let us adore me
O come let us adore me
I am the Lord
you've come to give me glory
you've come to give me glory
you've come to give me glory
I am the Lord
For I alone am worthy
For I alone am worthy
For I alone am worthy
For I alone am worthy
For I alone am worthy

Rick Warren says, "The most common mistake Christians make in worship today is seeking an experience, rather than seeking God. They look for a feeling, and if it happens, they conclude that they have worshiped. Wrong. In fact, God often removes our feelings so we wont depend on them. Seeking a feeling, even the feeling of closeness to Christ, is not worship."

We become infatuated with the EXPERIENCE of worship when it's supposed to be me in Your Hands.

"Me in Your Hands" = God's nail-scarred, trusting, dependable Hands. He's not the Wounder; He's the Wounded. He's also an all-consuming fire and our worship should reflect both awe and wonder.

"Whatever YOU'RE thinking, I want it."

This just in from

FRANKFORT - Jerry Clark can slap the bass with the best players in town. And as a member of First Assembly of God's worship band, he's convinced he's better than anyone else on the platform. "I'm way ahead of the other guys in terms of talent," he says during a break at Saturday worship band practice. Clark has played in a local rock band for 18 years, honing his bass-playing gift. The band has made several CDs and tours widely in the southwestern tip of Kentucky.

Clark began lending his musical expertise to First Assembly 11 years ago, but at times gets fed up with the amateurs in the worship band. "The piano lady can only play notes you put in front of her," he says. "She can't jam. I'll be over there slapping and grooving, and these other guys look at me like, 'What? What?' They get so caught up in what I'm doing, they lose their place. I'm like, 'Dudes, play the worship music!'"

Clark says he often feels he's "carrying the band," but he's committed to it as his ministry. "Everyone's got their cross," he says.

Worship is "You in His hands and your life in His plans." It's not something we consume... it's something that consumes us.

People who sit around and muse about their likes and dislikes of church services are wasting their time on beautifying an insider's club instead of fighting the war for lost people outside the building.

Consumer Worship vs. Consume-Me Worship:
Consumer: What I get - Comsume-me: What I give
Consumer: What I buy - Consume-me: I have been bought
Consumer: Downloading - Consume-me: Bowing down
Consumer: Style - Consume-me: Surrender
Consumer: Enjoyable - Consume-me: Costly
Consumer: My preferences - Consume-me: Concern about what God requires
Consumer: Feel good - Consume-me: Hurts good
Consumer: We use up the songs - Consume-me: God uses up the singer
Consumer: My choice - Consume-me: His will
Consumer: Can't get enough - Consume-me: Always want to give more
Consumer: About trends - Consume-me: About eternity
Consumer: my happiness - Consume-me: Desire to bring happiness to God
Consumer: About me - Consume-me: Me about God

We must never forget that it's an amazingly terrifying thing to be in the hands of God. And what we sign up for is a scary thing, too, to say, "Whatever you want, Lord."

If you want to make God laugh tell Him your plans.

Peter Drucker always told his audiences at lectures, "Don't tell me you enjoyed this. Tell me what you'll do differently on Monday morning."

Tell me how you're going to live a life of worship. Tuning into a life of worship will also make a life of prayer possible as you can't depend on God unless you're talking to Him constantly.

Tuning into worship as a way of life means that the frequency you're on is Humility.

We can talk about life with God, life as worship all we want but it needs to be lived!

John Keats said, "Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced...even a proverb is no proverb to you till your life has illustrated it."

One of the things I love about CoHo is that all of us don't just want to stand around and talk about God, we want actually to live life with God. Make worship a way of life!


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