religion

Worship Expression of Love

“So imitate God. Follow Him like adored children and live in love as the Anointed One loved you- so much that He gave Himself as a fragrant sacrifice, pleasing God.” -Ephesians 5:1,2

We know that a church is not a building. As lovers and followers of Jesus, we should know that wherever we gather together, the “church” is the representative, empowered body of Jesus Christ to the world (Mathew 28:19,20/Acts 1:8). As the body of Christ we should be the first and only force to show the world around us what it truly means to be in fellowship with the creator of the universe, knitted together by His love. When we come together corporately to worship, we are God’s people, who are gathered together to properly attribute worth to the Holy One who desires to dwell in our midst (God among us). Jesus said that, “Everyone will know you as My followers if you demonstrate your love to others” (John 13:35). As a lead worshiper of your fellowship, take a moment to meditate on those commands and that image. Do your times of corporate worship as the gathered “church” reflect love to the outside world?

It is unfortunate that the term “Christian” brings with it a ton of baggage and sad stereotypes in our society today. Especially when it comes to the area of worship. If the enemy has a list of things he hates, worship of and to the One true God has to be No.1 on that list. The enemy of our souls will not rest until he has silenced our worship.  It seems difficult, almost impossible to overcome the deficit of wounded hearts and petty quarreling among most churches, to come to a place where we can gather together and appropriately reflect the unified body of Christ, as God  intended us to be. Difficult, but not impossible with God. Paul expresses the urgency to mend the rifts that divide us in his letter to the Corinthian church (1 Cor 1:10), “My brothers and sisters, I urge you by the name of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed, to come together in agreement. Do not allow anything or anyone to create division among you. Instead be restored, completely fastened together with one mind and shared judgement.”

We all have had our feelings hurt especially on the worship team. Everyone has different idea’s about how worship should look. What songs to sing. Contemporary versus traditional. Real drums or digital, electric guitar or acoustic, hymnals or projected words, let people sing “song specials” or not, etc etc, on and on. These are petty divisions in the grand scope of the much larger purpose of the gathered Saints. The enemy would have you believe that God is unable to repair burned bridges between believers who have been wounded by these kinds of divisions. Listen to what God says through James 4:1 “Where do you think your fighting and endless conflict come from? Don’t you think that they originate in the constant pursuit of gratification that rages inside each of you like an uncontrolled militia?” It is often pride and religion, pure and simple at the root of our conflict. Further into Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church, he lays out the roadmap to overcome these kinds of divisions and woundsThrough love; “Love is patient, love is kind. Love isn’t envious, doesn’t boast, brag, or strut about. There’s no arrogance in love; it’s never rude, crude, or indecent- it’s not self-absorbed. Love ins’t easily upset. Love doesn’t tally wrongs or celebrate injustice; but truth- yes, truth- is love’s delight! Love puts up with anything and everything that comes along; it trusts, hopes and endures no matter what. Love will never become obsolete.” (1 Cor 13:4-8).

For the lead worshiper of a gathered body of God’s imperfect image bearers, love should be central in all you do. When coming together for any form of gathered worship, friendship should come before function. It is all bound together in love and that’s what should be communicated when leading the church in worship of the God of Heaven (Eph 5:1,2). So, what doe’s that look like, practically- rubber meats the road? To share my experience; you should start by pursuing life together with the people you are leading in worship. Get to know what kind of songs cause their hearts to sing. What do they listen to and what songs would they like to hear during a worship service. What song of worship would stir the God of Heaven dwelling in their chest? There is a holy balance to this- let me be clear to both the lead worshiper and the gathered saints; a worship leader should not be the congregations personal iPod, to be their personal playlist every Sunday morning to simply repeat their favorite Top 20 Christian radio hits. As worship leaders we look to Christ who leads us all in worship of our Heavenly Father (Heb 2:12). We dont want to lead from a place of “religion” but from a place of “spirit and truth” bound together in love. Love for God , for His word and for His church! So as lead worshipers who follow Christ, we imitate His love for His brothers and sisters, never forgetting that we are all uniquely and wonderfully made to reflect the glory of our God differently. It is good for a worship leader to respect and honor the beautifully crafted songs of writers and lead worshipers who have gone before us. Their praises sung to God should echo throughout the years; from now until Heaven where we will all be joined together in perfect harmony. So learn hymns, explore the songs that speak to others in your fellowship- not just what moves you to worship. Consider what other gifts God’s people have to offer the gathered Saints. Consider others as more highly than yourself (Rom 12). Be willing to lay your agenda and program on the altar to allow parts of the body to be used for edification of His church (1 Cor 12:7).

We must remember the power of love and allow it to permeate our corporate expression of worship to our Heavenly Father. To express not only our love for God but His people (Eph 5:19), so that when the world looks at us they see a rehearsal for the day when we are gathered together around the throne of the Most High God (Rev 4:4) worshiping in love for eternity. 

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Life In Progress; Cursed, Alive and Thriving

It has been a month since my last blog post. The only excuse I have is to say that life is in progress, and the Lord is continuing to open my eyes to so many wonderful things in His Kingdom that it is difficult to capture it all in a blog. So I wanted to give everyone a quick update and share just a couple of points in relation to Christ’s bride (the church) and to whole hearted worship.

First, God has been showing me just how beautiful His bride can be. I have been trying to keep in shape by running on a regular basis. It has been a great time of reflection and perseverance. A while back, I pushed myself a little to hard and really began to feel my body beginning to rebel against my inner spirit’s desire to press on. If you ever run with music, I encourage you to run while listening to the newest album from Andrew Peterson (Light for The Lost Boy) and put it on the first song called, “Come Back Soon”. My heart felt as though it would burst from my body as it joined with this hypnotic, haunting song singing out the pain and cry of God’s creation, longing for restoration. In that moment God began to show me the beauty of His creation. The tree’s, the waters, birds and the sounds of the forest all around me; beautiful as it was, still cursed but still thriving. How could that be? Cursed yet thriving with life? It could be so because of God’s creating voice, speaking, sustaining, giving life inward to all of His creation. Our bodies much the same, are dying on the outside, decaying and wasting away no matter how much we exercise. But, submitted to God, alive with the Holy Spirit, we are being filled with eternal, sanctifying waters of life. Renewed and cleansed by the perfect sacrifice of Jesus the Anointed One. Cursed and broken but thriving in hope and the assurance of eternal life.  -Romans 8:18-25

Second, I continue to get glimpses of what worshiping in spirit and truth should look like. I continue to get more encouragement and confirmation from the Lord, that the time is now, to start a candid, honest conversation about our corporate worship gatherings. To examine our hearts, confess sin before the Lord and to one another, to reach for the higher calling of God, to “be Holy” as “He is Holy” (1 Pet 1:16). Some of what I am beginning to realize as being key to worshiping in Spirit and Truth, is this pursuit of Holiness. As I just hinted at in the previous paragraph  we wont be cured of our sinful cursed bodies until heaven, but the pursuit- while we are here in this world, must be continued at any cost. We must not sacrifice the call to holiness for anything in or of this life. Peter says we have been “reborn- not from seed that eventually dies but from seed that is eternal- through the word of God that lives and endures forever.” -1 Pet 1:23.  Knowing this truth, revealed by the Spirit, we can confidently reach for holiness. So how does this help in our corporate worship gatherings? Well, 1 Peter 1:22 tells us that, “Now that you have taken care to purify your souls through your submission to the truth, you can experience real love for each other. So love each other deeply from a pure heart.”  As we embrace the assurance of these truths and the pursuit of holiness; we do so, so that when we gather together as the church, we can experience fullness of joy, together with and through the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (1 John 1:1-4). I dont know about you but that is the kind of corporate worship gathering I want to walk into on any given day of the week.

So, my hope is that in the near future, I can put together a panel of lead worshipers; people who I have come to know deeply and intimately through the ministry of love in Christ, to have deep meaningful discussions about worship in 2012 and onward. Through those discussions I believe the Lord will be speaking and out of those fires, iron sharpening iron, we will have burned away the dross to pull out a refined jewel from the Lord. What a wonderful joy it will be then as His bride gathers to worship and we offer up that jewel back to Him in true spirit and truth.

Thank you for taking this journey with me. Let silence and what is practical in the eyes of the American church, kneel in reverence to Kingship of the Lord Jesus Christ.

by, e. perry

[All scriptures listed in this article came from The Voice translation]