The Supreme Activity

Worship is the supreme and only indispensable activity of the Christian Church. It alone will endure, like the love for God which it expresses, into heaven, when all other activities of the Church will have passed away. It must therefore, even more strictly than any of the less essential doings of the Church, come under the criticism and control of the revelation on which the Church is founded.

—William Nicholls, Jacob’s Ladder: The Meaning of Worship, 9

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Wrong Perspectives on Worship

“Let’s pray that God will show up,”

“If we can get 100,000 people to gather for a praise festival, God will open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing so great you won’t even have enough room to take it in (Malachi 3:10).”

“When we sing to His glory, He starts to work.”

“If we work hard, put in the hours; worship hard enough, God will honor and reward that by blessing us.”

—collected by Jan den Ouden

Sing the Word!

It is often said that Luther restored congregational singing.  This is true, but he did more than that—Luther restored preaching to the congregation—a most appropriate activity for lay priests. “If, now, the congregation is to proclaim the divine truth, it must have a sermon worth preaching. This is the reason for the substantial…doctrinal content in many of the Reformation hymns.” (O.C.Rupprecht)

—P.J. Janson, “A Reason to Sing,” Reformation and Revival Vo. 4, nr. 4 (Fall 1995), 19

In Jesus’ Name

“Pray in the name of Jesus,” I think means “on the basis of what Jesus has done to make our access to God possible,” namely His blood and righteousness. So when I say, “In Jesus’ name” at the end of a prayer, I mean “because Jesus died for me and rose again, covered my sins, and imparted and imputed righteousness to me, I have access to the Father.” “Because of Him”—that’s what “In Jesus’ name” means.

—John Piper, http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/does-it-matter-which-person-of-the-trinity-we-pray-to?hc_location=ufi

Preparing for Worship

Dear Christian,

As we gather for corporate worship tomorrow, we would all do well to remember that it is not a biblical necessity to enjoy the music—though it is not an outright sin to do so either—to which the truths of God’s word are set to melody, harmony and rhythm. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16 ESV) If the music or musical style does not suit your personal and private tastes, make it your spiritual aim to rejoice in message of the lyric, for that is much more important than the music.If you cannot rejoice in the message of the lyric, either the lyric must change, or perhaps your heart.

—Jason French

Real-Life Worship

Worship leaders often feel the pressure to be perfect and holy and put-together at all times–at least on the outside. But keeping up a good front actually works against leadership effectiveness and good worship. Instead, worship leaders have to allow themselves to be “slammed by life,” as one of my students put it. The spiritual life does not always lead us through green pastures and beside still waters. There are valleys of shadows too. Worship leaders have to be open to life—to our own and others’ pain, to events in the world, to people who are especially difficult to deal with, to disappointment and frustration. If preachers and prayers and musicians can show others how to bring those shadows to God through worship, they will demonstrate an authenticity that we all can emulate. Being open to life enables leaders to fill out “empty” technique with solid content, the genuine stuff of real life.

—Ron & Debra Rienstra, Worship Words: Discipling Language for Faithful Ministry, 98