Monday, 11 October 2010

Church - the ongoing saga...

The debate in my head about ‘church’ just refuses to go away. Many a conversation worms its way around to pulling at the knot in my thinking. I follow one thread, only to cause others to tangle and tighten further. I never was much good at knitting…

So here is the latest. I long to ‘go’ to ‘church’ to praise and worship God…BUT, if the music isn’t lively or feet-tappingly good, I don’t feel I am worshipping. I don’t even WANT to worship. So, going to a church where traditional hymns are sung, or where an organ belts out a hymn, that means I am going under sufferance rather than to worship.

How wrong is that? Very.  A friend has just sent me an article about praise and worship. I don't know where it's from, but I'm going to quote from it. Lavishly.

There cannot be true worship without praise, praise produces worship. Praise means to speak well of God, praise is to acknowledge what God has done. Praise invokes God's presence. It gets God's attention, it creates an atmosphere. Praise is to the new Testament what sacrifices, and offering was to the Old Testament, praise is sacrifice. Psalm 22:3 says that God inhabits the praises of His people, so when God's people praise Him, He draws near and worship results. God has given each of us a praise ministry with a worship "team" that is never any farther away than an inch below our noise: our lips, mouth, and tongue...

...When we praise God, His presence comes near, and in His presence all His true glory can be released.  Praise is something we can do anytime, anywhere. As we learn to exercise our personal praise ministry, we can create "islands of Eden" around us wherever we go. There is an inseparable link between our praise and the manifest presence of God...Praise attracts the presence of God. True praise is an exercise, a discipline that flows from a pure heart and a humble spirit. When we brag about God we are acknowledging His sovereignty and Lordship as well as our own dependence on Him. That spirit of humility is just what God is looking for in us. If we approach God with a humble spirit He will do two things: When we come near God, He will come near to us; and when we humble ourselves before Him, He will lift us up....

worship results when God accepts our praise and manifests His presence to us....Worship: Comes from the word; (Worth) which means, the quality or value of something. So what is of most worth to you?
Worship is the ultimate intimate experience....You know you have been in true worship when you started worshiping with a heavy load, lot's of hurt, heart ache and pain; and then when your finish. You've left that behind on the altar because you get up, light and worry free. Better yet God took it away from you because He was (worth) more to you than your problems and pain and you said to your self no matter what I'm going to press my way into His presence!
Worship is an outward experience of an inward change.
The purpose of worship is to bring us closer to the Lord, to change us, make us like Him, and to get to know the Lord.
The place of worship is created in praise, Judah means praise....
What happens when you are in worship?
1. Things change.
2. You get instructions.
3. You get direction.
4. You get revelation.

Worship Is What God Releases When You Praise Him
Praise is both a precursor to and a part of worship, but the two are not the same. For praise is something we do, while worship is something God releases. We initiate praise; it comes from within our hearts. As we perfect or mature our praise, as we come into one accord with one another, and as our spirit aligns with God's Spirit, He releases His presence into our midst. That mingling of God's presence with our praise is called worship.
Worship, then, begins with us as we lift up our praise, but it ends with God as He releases His presence among us. True worship requires both. ...
To "worship in spirit and truth" has the idea of mingling with God spirit to Spirit with our hearts attuned to His heart and our thoughts attuned to His thoughts. In fact, the Greek word for "worship," literally means to kiss, like a dog licking his master's hand; to prostrate oneself in homage. Worship then means to show honor, worth-ship, and obeisance to royalty. It is also a word suggestive of intimate contact, of being in the very presence of someone of great importance, and of a companion who is always at his master's side. Worship involves intimacy; in-to-me-see; see-in-to-me.

True Praise and Worship Requires A Pure Heart
Worship takes place when God dwells in our praise and begins to mingle with us. In a sense, we get close enough to God to kiss Him. Ultimately, worship depends not on us, but on God. God wants nothing more than to mingle with us in unbroken and unhindered fellowship, but it is not automatic. He requires that we desire Him and seek Him with all our heart, but He also promises that when we do that, we will find Him. "You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13).
This is why pure-hearted, wholehearted praise is so important as I spoke of before. Because without praise there is no presence, and without presence there is no worship. Tragically, this is exactly what happens week after week after week in thousands of churches all over the world. Many churches have not experienced genuine worship in years. They follow the same format every week, sing the same hymns or praise and worship songs the same way all the time, hear the same kinds of powerless prayers and the same insipid sermons every week, and the spirit is as dead as a doornail because their heart is no longer in it. Sad to say that this is true not only in many "mainline" churches, but in many evangelical and Pentecostal/charismatic churches as well.
God doesn't want it to be this way. He wants to bless us with His presence. The critical issue is the condition of our heart. If we seek God with a humble, hungry, and whole heart, lifting up sincere, heartfelt praise, He will respond by drawing us into His presence. In this way, we can recreate "Eden" through praise.
This whole matter of praise and worship also relates to exposing our hidden glory. When we praise God, He sends His presence, and His presence releases the glory. When we live in "Eden" our glory will come out. That's the way God designed things from the beginning. What this means is that worship involves much more than just praise of our lips. It also involves the meditations of our heart and the work that we do. Our worship consists not only of acknowledging God's nature, attributes, and character with our praise and thanksgiving, but also in our work, our good deeds, our service, and our lifestyle.  

When we live and walk in "Eden," everything we say, think, and do becomes an act of worship.

Everything. Even - especially - going 'to' church.

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