8 ) Expressive Worship.
Part 2: Expression.

I am “for” expressive worship. Yesterday I talked about how worship is our response to God. We respond with our expressions. Worship without an expression isn’t worship at all!

I think the key to expressing our worship is to simply express what it on the inside of us; responding to our savior. There are many ways to express our worship to God. Let me list a few of them:

Sacrifice. (Rom. 12:1-2, Heb. 13:15, 1 Pet. 2:5, Psm. 51:17).

With Our Spirit AND Mind. (1 Cor. 14:15-17)

With Our Emotions. (Ps. 47:1, Phil. 4:4, Ps. 46:10, Hab. 2:20)

With Physical Expressions. Kneeling or bowing in worship or reverence (Phil. 2:9-10, Micah 6:6-8). Lifting hands (Lam. 3:40-41; Ps. 63:3-4). Dancing with joy (Ps. 149:3). These are just a few descriptions –I do not believe there is a limit to them at all. However it may be interesting to note the emotion that is involved with nearly every physical expression.

With Our Lives. “If you are not a private worshipper, you will not likely be a public worshipper. You may go to church, and go through all the motions. But you will not likely really worship. Trying to worship publicly, not having worshipped privately, is like the dry heaves: You are trying to bring up something you don’t have in you.” – Paul Faulkner.

The most important expression we can give to God should be seen by the way we live our lives. Let your life be an expression of worship. Worship cannot exist without an expression.

I’m not focused on what I’m against. I am for Expressive Worship.

Tomorrow I will make a post specifically about the “emotion” expression. I’m dedicating a post specifically to the “emotion” expression because I think its often misunderstood and misconstrued. I’ve been working on it for months, literally (so please read the whole thing!). I’m pumped!

8 ) Expressive Worship.
Part 1: The Instigator.

I am “for” expressive worship. Seeing as I’m a worship pastor and this is at the core of my daily focus, I thought it would be alright if I do a few blog posts on the 8th thing that I am “for.” This is the first of three parts.

Worship is a relationship that takes place between us and God. Who is the instigator of this relationship?

John 4:23 says that God is seeking out worshipers. God is seeking us! Humans instinctively find some object of full spiritual devotion. At the point where the sought (that’s us) realize the unmatched worth of the seeker, combustion (our worship) will occur.

Because of this I believe that God starts the worship relationship. Worship is our response to God. Has God done anything at all for you? Does God mean anything to you? If he does, then respond to Him!

For you intellectuals out there, this “response” model can be seen all throughout the Psalms. I call it the “Why-How” model. Take Psalms 100 for example. The first four verses describe a response to the attributes of God in verse 5.

This isn’t about what I’m against — I am for Expressive Worship.

Do it in Hell, Baby!

Let me share with you a few of my favorite song lyrics from an Aaron Jeoffrey song called “Leave a Legacy”:
“I want to leave a legacy
of a servant who believed
that the world could be changed by just one life.
I want to leave a legacy —
for years from now they’ll see
that I lived only for the cause of Christ.”

For years I’ve been inspired by this challenge. For several years I have lived my life so that when I died, people would remember me and my testimony for Christ. I wanted to live my life so loudly for Christ that my testimony changed lives even after mine was over.

I’m ready to step it up a notch.

When I leave this earth, what do I want to be remembered for? Nothing. I don’t want to be remembered on earth at all.

I want to leave my legacy in Hell!

If there is a man struggling with sinful bondage and I walk into the same room as him, I want the demons to fear what I might ask God to do.

When I sit behind a piano and worship, I want the devil to run.

When I get on my knees, I want there to be red alerts in Hell. I want them to reinforce the gate because of me.

I want to live so that when I leave this earth, Hell remembers me.

Don’t be a wuss. Kill the devil.

Dump it out.

Total Devotion.
You’ve got control.
I’ve emptied out my heart, so you can make me whole.

A few days ago I was eating dinner at my house and those words sorta popped out of my mouth in a song. That’s all the song was – but I love the third line so much. Think about it.

We want to be complete. We want restored relationships, forgiveness, acceptance, approval, love, etc. etc. Because we’re looking for a blessing from God (which isn’t bad), we hang onto our pride. Before God can make us whole, we have to release everything. That seems like an oxymoron, eh? You lose something before you get what you want.

I can remember several times having drank a cup of milk, and then filling it up with ice water. It doesn’t matter how much of the milk I had drank — if I didn’t rinse the cup before putting in the water then my water would taste funky. It just doesn’t work. Before God can restore what’s messed up — we’ve got to be broken — we’ve got to be willing to allow God to mess us up inside.

Leeland.

Wow. This band is incredible. Michael W. Smith says they are the best thing he’s heard in a long long time. I agree with him. Check out their myspace and listen to their stuff — it’s awesome. Especially “Carried to the Table.” That one is really moving, at least for me.

Prostitutes, Paths, and The Holy Spirit.

The imagery of a wedding to express the intimate relationship between God and his people is found all throughout the Bible (Rev. 19:7, Isa. 54:5-7, and Hos. 2:19). I’d like to show you one passage in particular. This is Matthew 22:1-14.

In the Bible’s imagery, God is the groom and the Church (Christians) is the bride. This husband and wife relationship should not be seen as feminine personification, but as a great description of the intimacy God wants with His church (past, present, and future).

If we truly want the Holy Spirit to move in today’s church we need to start living like it. God wants to marry a beautiful bride — not a whore! If this offends you, I’m glad — that’s kind of the point. It should offend. We say, “Holy Spirit come here and do amazing things among us” yet we don’t change our lives — we don’t clean up. God will come with great power when we have prepared for Him something better than a slutty prostitute.

God’s wants to move in our midsts. I believe God wants to blow our socks off. But we are not preparing the way for His presence.
Let’s prepare the way! Let’s put on our “wedding clothes.”

Unity on a Worship Team.

I was reading in Matthew tonight, and there’s one passage that totally jumped out to me. Check out these red letters, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24). When I read this I immediately thought of the “gift at the altar” in the context of a worship team. Most of my blog posts are general and apply to everyone, but please allow me to speak directly to members of a worship team:

When we’re leading worship – we’re not only bringing our gift to the altar like its mentioned in this passage — its our job to help others do the same thing. How much more important, then, is it for the worship team to be in harmony before any rehearsing or “stage time.” IT’S VITAL. A worship team must be in harmony to remain a biblical worship team!

I’m blessed to be serving in an awesome church where the worship teams are nearly always in unity. But I’ve heard way too many stories of churches where this is not the case; worship team members build up anger against each other. In one extreme case, I heard about a guitar player who walked off the stage during a Sunday Morning worship set and announced to the entire congregation, “I’m not playing if HE’S going to be singing in the microphone!” Unfortunately this type of event is not a rare occurance in many churches. Praise God nothing that severe has ever happened at New Hope!

If you are mad at someone on your worship team, go fix the problem before any rehearsing. Talk to them or grab a pastor to help you — do whatever it takes, but do not try to lead worship with someone you’re mad at — it’s unbiblical and that negative spirit can drag the entire worship team down. It would be better for you to take a break from being on the worship team that week (of course that’s only if reconciliation in your heart is not possible).

Don’t Be Such a Sissy.

I think Christians are a bunch of sissies. There are a few of us who fight against sin and spiritual darkness — but I’m under the impression that most Christians just feel bad about their habitual sin, they feel bad about those around them heading towards an eternity in hell, they feel bad that the United States is already viewed as a “post-religious” nation — but they don’t do anything about it.

That’s not the attitude that this scripture shows us. That passage talks about “taking a stand” against spiritual darkness (and it provides a battle plan to do so). James tells us in the Bible that faith without works is dead faith. That doesn’t sound to me like a Christian can afford to be a sissy. Christianity is not for wimps, yet too many Christians are sissies because they think its all about “being nice.” Let me tell you about a fighter.

I know one Christian teenager who was overcome by temptation and used his computer to access a pornographic website. He sinned. And he knew it. Most Christians would just feel bad but not do anything about it. Not this guy. He decided that he would not be sucked into such spiritual bondage. That same day, he un-installed the internet from his computer. Now he can only access anything on the internet through his parents’ computer (in a public room). Furthermore, the privacy in his own bedroom led to his struggle, so he got a screwdriver, and literally took his bedroom door off his hinges. His door is now sitting in his garage. He cannot even change his clothes in private. All because he didn’t want to sin.

This same Christian teenager realized he had become too lazy. So he fasted — from his bed. For 7 days straight he slept on his floor, rejecting the comfort of a bed. All because he wanted to be vigilant for God.

I’m not suggesting we all do these things. But I wanted to show us all that Christianity is not for sissies. We need to pick up our weapons and fight!

Within 20 Feet.

Tonight I was on the road leaving Auburn. I had my lights on of course, but in complete darkness they don’t show anything very far ahead. I wasn’t driving past the speed limit, at least not enough to cause concern.

As I was driving I saw a silhouette take form at the edge of my light beams. I thought it looked sort of like a person. A split second later the silhouette became more visible in my headlights and ceased to be a silhouette but a definite image of a person. A real, live, human being standing in the middle of the road. Not walking, not moving, and not waving at me. The person was just standing in the middle of the road. It was as if the person was actually trying to die. I was driving somewhere between 45 and 55 mph and the man was only 20 feet away, if that.

I’ve never stomped on my brakes so hard in all my life. I swerved to the right onto the shoulder as my brakes screeched my Bonneville to a halt. I stopped with my window parallel to the man — if I had not swerved onto the shoulder of the road I would have hit him.

Like I said earlier, this whole event seemed like the person was trying to be hit by a car — so when my car stopped my gut reaction was to jump out of the car and tackle the person off the road and call 911. That may sound overboard but I really thought this was a crazy or drunk person trying to commit suicide and I was going to prevent it if I could. The following events occurred before I ever could tackle the person.

When my car stopped I heard the person yell out in an old man’s voice, “I can’t see at night! I just can’t see!” as he stumbled back into his driveway. An older woman, his wife I assume, went out into the road to pick up the recycling bin that her husband was trying to take to the end of the driveway but had carried all the way out into the road. When I realized what was going on my attitude about the “crazy/drunk” person quickly changed. I immediately changed my perspective and offered any assistance. The woman just told me, “he can’t see well in the night. He just was taking the recycling bin out. We’ll be fine. Go.”

I could tell this was a very stressful moment for them (as it was for me), and probably quite embarrassing as well. I gathered that she really didn’t want me there so I went ahead and drove away.

As I drove off I naturally began thinking of the value of the human life. Not just the life itself, but the life within the life. Let’s not take it for granted. Someday we’ll all be older and unable to see in the dark. Don’t take your life’s life for granted.

God gave you your life – enjoy it.
Worship Him with it.
Thank Him for it.