Tag Archives: worship

A Time To Weep

Ah, how Thy grace hath wooed my soul

With persevering wiles!

Now give me tears to weep; for tears

Are deeper joy than smiles.  FREDERICK WILLIAM FABER

weepingI confess that out of all the worship songs I’ve written, not one of them could be considered a lament, you know, of the book of Lamentations sort. It’s certainly not because I’m an incorrigibly cheerful guy and never have anything to cry about. I guess it just never occurred to me that sorrowful songs fit very well into my worship experience. But if you think about it, the Bible’s longest book – a songbook no less – is replete with hymns a significant portion of which tilt toward the mournful. Continue reading

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Confessions of a Zealot (Part 3)

In Parts 1 and 2 I confessed my regrettable mismanagement of my zeal for Christ and I drew a parallel between my mistakes and those of David’s when he ill advisedly brought the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem on an ox-drawn cart instead of on the shoulders of priests. In both his case and mine, people paid for our errors. On David’s watch a man died. On my watch my marriage died, my kids got less than they deserved, and some of those I served over the years were wounded. I sincerely grieve over my errors and their consequences.zeal2

But, like David, I won’t allow myself to drown in guilt. “Grace,” says Anne Lamott, “is like water wings when you feel you’re sinking.” It’s that grace that both keeps me afloat and propels me forward. Continue reading

I hate your worship! (Part 2 of 2)

I concluded Part 1 with: “The point I’m compelled to make is…” Let’s take it from there.

The point I’m compelled to make is … that whholyspirit-450x450en we obviously don’t care about anyone but ourselves, God is not impressed in the least with our worship – whether traditional or contemporary, accompanied by professional musicians on a stage or by a guy with an out of tune guitar on a stool. The kind of worship that God hates is the kind that comes from people who have no concern for justice for the “oppressed, the fatherless, and the widow.”

——————-

“I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs!
 I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” Amos 5:21-24

“Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
Your incense is detestable to me… Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” Isaiah 1:13-17

“With what shall I come before the Lord
and bow down before the exalted God?
… He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
 And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:6-8

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” Matthew 23:23

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What these ancient worshippers neglected was compassion and just treatment for the marginalized. This isn’t the only thing that disqualifies one from worshipping well, but in each of these passages the common theme is injustice. God requires us to “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.” Treating people fairly and mercifully should be as natural and as unstoppable as the flow of a mighty river. We can sing jaunty songs, dance with abandonment, and shout his praises till we’re hoarse, but if we fail to take up the cause of the fatherless and plead the case of the widow our worship can never be thought of as “good.” Continue reading

I hate your worship! (Part 1 of 2)

holyspirit-450x450“I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs!
 I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” Amos 5:21-24

“Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
Your incense is detestable to me… Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” Isaiah 1:13-17

“With what shall I come before the Lord
and bow down before the exalted God?
… He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
 And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:6-8

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” Matthew 23:23

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“I hate your worship!” is not exactly what you want to hear at the end of an otherwise sweet worship time at your church. How could God be so unappreciative, so fierce in his evaluation of anyone’s sincere praise? Apparently he cares about, not only how we worship, but the way we live in between worship times. Continue reading

The Missional, Merciful, WORSHIPFUL Christian (Part 4 of 4)

The contrast of sisters, Mary and Martha, in this chapter is well known. Martha nervously toiled to get lunch on the table while her sister sat serenely at Jesus’ feet. In my twenties when I was first learning how to commune with the Lord in prayer and worship, the Spirit pointed me to this story, verse 42 in particular:  “Only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” I sensed the Spirit’s word to me:  “If you’ll do your part by making yourself available to me I will be available to you and you’ll always have the time and space for communion with me. No one or nothing will ever be able to take it from you.” He’s made good on that promise. Continue reading

The Missional, Merciful, Worshipful Christian (Part 2 of 4)

[If you haven’t read Part 1, I advise you to a take a few minutes to do so before reading on…]

The second problematic tendency is the opposite of the first. Instead of disrespecting our brothers and sisters of another ilk, we respect them so much that we justify our weak points. We assume that God called them to do pretty much all the evangelism or social justice or intimate worship. “That’s their ministry, their gift, what God called them to do. Thank God because I’m no good at that stuff.” I think it’s ill-advised to so focus our attention on one tool with that we abdicate responsibility to those with a more developed use of the other tools. Though some are more gifted and compelled by the Spirit toward one or the other of those emphases, we shouldn’t relegate to them our obligation for those things. Continue reading

The Missional, Merciful, Worshipful Christian (part 1 of 4)

Major League Baseball pundits drool over the “five-tool player” who can run like the wind, throw like a rocket launcher, hit for average like a machine, hit for power like Superman, and catch the ball like flypaper. OK, all that “like a” stuff I made up, but you get the point – to be a good player one needs to develop more than one skill. The guy who can catch the ball, but do nothing else the sport requires isn’t likely to be able to quit their day job and play ball for a living.

I have friends who are multidimensional Jesus followers. Well, I only consider them “friends” when they’re not making me jealous. They can do it all and to top it off they’re humble! Don’t you just hate people like that? Continue reading