Summary: Part 1 in series about living lives of worship. Focus of this opening message is a powerful reminder that God has invited us to live and participate in Him - it is up to us to how we may respond and what that may mean.
INVITATION TO A LIFE OF WORSHIP
Part 1 in series, “LifeSongs*: Lives of Worship”
Rev. Todd G. Leupold Perth Bible Church Sunday January 13, 2008 AM
* Title inspired by the name of the song and album by “Casting Crowns.” Overall series inspired and, to some degree adapted, from the writings of Gary Thomas and Myra Perrine.
How are you feeling today? Right now? Excited? Full of anticipation? Blissful? Humbled? Full of awe? Special? Or, are you really feeling apathetic? Dry? Distracted? Frustrated? ’Stuck’? Bored? Prohibited from being yourself?
When you think of ’coming to worship’ what does that mean to you? According to a Barna research study conducted in November, 2002 nearly half (47%) of church-going adults “understand worship as activity undertaken for their personal benefit . . . Only 3 out of 10 church-going adults (29%) indicated that they view worship as something that is focused primarily on God. One out of every five attenders admitted that they had no idea what the most important outcome of worship is.”
How do we here today understand (or not) worship? Is it primarily a way for US to get more of God? Or is it about getting more of God IN us? Do we know the difference? Is it something we just do at church or is it more than that? Is it a response to music, a form or style of singing, or is it more than that?
Too often we reduce our discussion, study and even energy toward worship to disputes over what kind of music is ’most worshipful.’ We hear about the old farmer who, while in the city, attended one of ’dem big city churches. After he came home, his wife asked how it was. “Well,” said the farmer, “It was good. They did something different, however. They sang these things they called ’praise choruses’ instead of hymns.”
“Praise choruses,” said his wife. “What are those?” “Oh, they’re sort of like hymns, only different,” said the farmer. “Well, what’s the difference?” asked his wife.
The farmer said, “Well, it’s like this: If I were to say to you, ’Martha, the cows are in the corn,’ well, that would be a hymn. But if I were to say to you:
’Martha, Martha, Martha
Oh, Martha, MARTHA, MARTHA,
The cows, the big cows, the brown cows,
The black cows, the white cows,
The black and white cows,
The COWS, COWS, COWS are in the corn,
Are in the corn, are in the corn,
Are in the corn, the CORN, CORN, CORN
-- then, if I were to repeat the whole thing 2 or 3 times, well that would be a praise chorus.”
OR, we could talk about the new, young Christian from the suburbs who one day attended a small-town church. When he came home, his wife asked him how it was.
“Well,” he said, “it was good. But they sang hymns instead of praise songs.” “Hymns,” said his wife. “What are those?”
The young man replied, “Well, it’s like this: If I were to say to you, “Martha, the cows are in the corn,” well that would be a praise song. But if I were to say to you:
’Oh, Martha, dear Martha, hear thou my cry
Inclinest thine ear to the words of my mouth.
Turn thou thy whole wondrous ear by and by
To the righteous, inimitable, glorious truth.
For the way of the animals who can explain
There in their heads is no shadow of sense,
Hearkenest they in God’s sun or his rain
Unless from the mild, tempting corn they are fenced.
Yea, those cows in glad bovine, rebellious delight,
Have broke free their shackles, their warm pens eschewed.’
Then goaded by minions of darkness and night
They all my child Chilliwack sweet corn have chewed.
So look to that bright shining day by and by,
Where all foul corruptions of earth are reborn.
Where no vicious animal makes my soul cry
And I no longer see those foul cows in the corn’
-- “Then, if I were to do only verses 1,3, and 4 and do a key change on the last verse, well, that would be a hymn.”
Now that we’ve all had a chance to be offended and laugh at one another, it is time we recognize much of our talk and thoughts about worship for what they really are: nonsense turf wars over personal preferences! We need to understand, as Barna writes in his report: “These battles are inappropriate distractions from meaningful ministry and fruitful discipleship. Christians need to be more zealous about, and devoted to worshiping God. The Church needs to move on and focus on the One worthy of worship and the desire of His heart – which is to be worshiped with intensity and passion by His people – rather than to focus on the tools used to facilitate our expressions of love and gratitude.”