Monthly Archives: August 2013

Modern Worship

Read this on a blog today which greatly challenged me, the truths of this article are rooted in the Gospel, focused upon who Christ is. Why do we worship God, go to church, and is our worship a genuine worship of the Creator or just a sense of emotion, a “feeling” we get from going to church? May our hearts, minds, and souls be stirred to worship God in church, every day as we saturate our minds in the truths of Scripture, and as we go through life reflecting upon the beauty and goodness of God. I pray that this excerpt from this site will bless, challenge, and stir your heart as it did mine.

Might Modern Worship Be Sort of Like A Cocaine Rush?

July 30, 2013 —

I once met with a man—let’s call him Nathan—who described himself as a, “recovering charismatic.” He was open to it; but his experience of modern worship gave him pause.

As he grew up, his mother frenetically flitted from one worship experience to the next.

After Toronto she visited Florida, then Bethel Church, and then anywhere she heard “something” was happening.

Worship music unceasingly blared throughout the house. She seemed to need its euphoric “oomph” to motivate her for the tiniest of tasks. Wiping kitchen counters took the combined efforts of Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, and Paul Baloche.

Don’t ask what spring cleaning required.

But she remained anxious, fearful, self-concerned, and neglectful of her husband and sons. She’d say, “I just want to go where God is working,” but it really seemed she just wanted an escape, a place where her problems could be sedated.

After describing all this, Nathan added, “A friend of mine became a crack addict. Frankly I didn’t see much difference between him and my mom. They got their highs in different ways, and their lives remained a mess.”

I wonder,” he continued, “if modern worship is like a cocaine rush.”

I’m sympathetic

Nathan’s description of his childhood experiences startled me. I was a worship leader for years, and I often tried to stir up feelings. I loved to hear someone say, “Wow, that worship was great; I really felt the Lord’s presence.”

Now I wonder about our pursuit of euphoria in worship. Oswald Chambers says,

If we continually try to bring back those exceptional moments of inspiration, it is a sign that it is not God we want. Never live for those exceptional moments. God will give us His touches of inspiration only when He sees that we are not in danger of being led away by them (My Utmost For His Highest, emphasis added).

Most catechisms that I’ve studied say humans are designed to worship God and to enjoy him. But the purpose is to worship God—joy is simply the result. Unfortunately, it seems to me that the purpose of modern worship services is simply to stir up good feelings.

Do we want worshipers to give their lives in adoration? Or are we competing with our media-dominated culture by using musical abilities to titillate the emotions of the worshiper?

What is wrong with the world?

The problem with the world is self-centeredness; from Hitler-like dictators grabbing for power to three year-old boys making a mountain of matchbox cars to keep them from a younger brother. (Not to mention what you and I do.)

Self-centeredness is the cause of all wars, divorce, betrayal, theft, and every miserable part of human history. We are all thinking of ourselves.

And seeking the “rush” in worship is simply another example of concentrating on ourselves (though we may fail to recognize it because it’s disguised as “worship”).

What are we to do?

Real Christian worship is the solution for self-centeredness. It is fixing our mind on the Ultimate Other.

It is a heart-gaze on God, contemplating the majesty and glory and goodness of God. It is consciously staring at his unimaginable love, his unstoppable power, his ultimate justice, his attention to the sparrow’s needs, and his care for every human being.

Worship is attributing ultimate value to the Ultimate Being who is ultimately beyond us; and yet who is beside us as we sit in our desk chair and in us as we wash the dishes.

Real worship involves an intense focus (of heart, mind, soul and strength) on the beauty of God. It is looking, gazing, meditating, and reflecting on the majesty of God. It is seeing him for all his is, Lord, Master, King, Father, Shepherd, and Friend.

And, yes, seeing his glory often move us to joy as well.

And worship changes us

In The Lord of the Rings, Sam Gamgee is facing horrible evil, his hope is nearly spent, and he is about to give up. One evening he sees a star.

The beauty [of the star] smote his heart … and hope returned to him. For like a shaft clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end, the shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty forever beyond its reach. His song in the tower had been defiance rather than hope;for then he had been thinking of himself. Now, for a moment, his own fate, and even his master’s, ceased to trouble him, and he fell into a deep untroubled sleep.

When Sam Gamgee gazes on a star and perceives it’s meaning of “light and high beauty forever,” his own fate—and even his masters’s—cease to trouble him. He is changed. He is joyful. He is peaceful.

Likewise, when we let our heart gaze on the Ultimate Star, when we let its beauty and light penetrate our soul, then we’ll be changed forever. Anxiety, grasping for euphoria, selfish ambition, and even self-consciousness will cease. We’ll worship and adore the Creator not the creation.

Real worship of the real God does, in the end, bring real life. I’m in favor of experiencing God. I hope I do more. I hope you do too. But the experience is a result of worship (at least sometimes) not the purpose.

Lewis said, “Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither.”

Sam (Edited and re-posted from Beliefs of the Heart, June 2012)

1 Comment

Posted by on August 10, 2013 in Edification, Encouragement


Tags: , ,

Leaving ALL Behind

As I’ve been reading through the Gospel of Mark, one key aspect I have never noticed before stood out to me in recent days. Mark 1:16-20 highlights the key aspect as seen below:

Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. 18 And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him. 19 And when he had gone a little further thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets. 20 And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.

Reading through these verses, it became clear to me one theme which would not only be developed in Mark but all four Gospels. Simon and Andrew were fishermen by trade, to leave their nets would indicate that they were now giving their full allegiance to Jesus instead of the things of this world. In other words, there was a radical shift in their allegiance from the world to now pursuing and following after Christ.

Furthermore, the story tells us that not only did they follow but also James the son of Zebedee and John likewise left “their father Zebedee” and “went after him.” Here was Jesus, the promised Messiah who had come to save men from their sins and manifest the glory of God through His obedience to the will of the Father, doing for us what we could not do for ourselves, and these new disciples were now following Jesus. The cost of following Christ is made clear here, those who might follow Christ and be His disciples will have a new attitude towards the things of the world, abandoning them in hopes of pursuing Christ.

Thinking upon this passage, it causes me to question my own sincerity in following Jesus. Here is a group of disciples who left their source of income, fishing, to follow Jesus where He would go. Even more, the other two mentioned left their own father immediately in order to follow Him.

Now the question I must ask myself is, how serious is my desire to pursue and follow after Christ? Is it a mere desire to have the blessings of Christianity, live a comfortable life, and do what I want while trying to add Jesus to my life, when convenient? Such a response indicates a heart in need of God’s work, for those who do not treasure Christ more than the world show that their allegiance, first and foremost, lies not with Him but with the things of the world.

On the other hand, can I look at my life and see a growing desire to know more of Christ, to follow Him no matter where it leads or how uncertain the future is, and to pursue above all else that which lasts for eternity? May our goals, ambitions, allegiance, and treasure lie not in our family, friends, job, or possessions but in knowing, following, serving, and giving our all in following Jesus. 


Posted by on August 9, 2013 in Edification

In Christ Jesus

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus