Summary: Worship is more than music or a service on Sunday mornings. Worship is encountering God and walking away forever changed.
June 23, 2002
Cultivating a Lifestyle of Worship
Good morning!› My mother-in-law has told me for years, ìWords are spirit.î› By this she means that words have a life of their own.› They can bless or curse, encourage or embitter, heal or destroy.› Because of the emotion attached to certain words they become packed with more than just their original meaning.› This week marks the thirtieth anniversary of one of the low points for our government and the office of the president.› The events that transpired that week so long ago are now simply known by one word, the name of an office building ‚ ìWatergate.î› Or take the Hebrew word for the ìburnt offeringî used by Job in last weekís sermon.› Translated into English the word is ìholocaust.î› These two words will illicit a wide of array of emotional responses, from sadness, to anger, to disgust.
I would like to begin this morningís message with another such word.› This word has been responsible for more church splits in the last twenty years than any other word in the English language. ›When I say it each of you will have a different response.› If you are pregnant, have heart troubles, or high blood pressure you may want to step out of the auditorium for a few minutes. This could get ugly! ›Are you ready to hear the word? ›Close your eyes. ›The word isÖ ìWorship.î
Keep your eyes closed.› Some of you were swept away by the boom of a majestic pipe organ sounding out a profound hymn of faith.› Some of you were on the hill at Conerstone Music Festival, with your hands lifted high, singing a modern day praise song to God under the stars. A few civilized souls were lost in a symphony of grace as an orchestra performed Handelís ìMessiah.î ›Personally, I thought back to Friday of our camping and canoe trip worshipping around the campfire under the stars with our students.›
Some pictured pianos and organs, others guitars and drums.› Some had fond memories of being lead in praise by George Beverly Shea and Bill and Gloria Gaither.› Others are still humming the Third Day song you heard on the radio on the way to church.› Some of you just took a nap!
In the last quarter century, many churches have imploded due to disagreements over what kind of music they use to worship God.› The sadness I feel over this situation can not compare to the pain God must feel as His children quarrel and bicker over the use of a certain type of musical style.› People are desperate for hope and many churches are too busy trying to win the worship wars to worry and winning souls.››››
Why is it that when the word ìworshipî is used, most of our thoughts turn to musical styles?› I love being a part of a church family that has recognized that we have different worship languages.› Not better or worse, just different.› But it is vitally important to remember that the musical part of our service is actually a small part of worship. ›Everything that happens, from the time you walk in the door to the time you leave, has the potential to become a worship experience.››››
Human beings were created to worship. The Westminster Confession of faith asks the question, ìWhat is the chief end of man?î› The answer: ìTo glorify God and enjoy Him forever.î› But God knows our restless hearts and our temptation to place our affections elsewhere.› Thatís why He gave such strong admonitions in Scripture,
ìDo not worship any god but meî (Exodus 20:3)
ìRespect the Lord and serve only Him, and make promises in his name alone. Offer your praises to Him, because you have seen him work such terrifying miracles for you (Deuteronomy 10:20-21).›
America is a worshipping nation, although not necessarily a Christian nation anymore.› ›We worship money, pleasure, fame, work, sex, and a thousand other cheap imitations of Godís glory.› Gordon Dahl states of our country, ìMost middle class American tend to worship their work, work at their play, and play at their worship.î›
Worship means ìTo honor, to revere, to adore, and to give devotion.î› If we do not give our praise to God, we end up like the Israelites dancing around the golden calf at the foot of Mount Sinai (see Exodus 32).› I once met a group of girls who worshipped Kurt Cobain, the lead singer of the nineties grunge band Nirvana who committed suicide in 1994. ›I saw an advertisement for the ìChurch of Elvisî in Las Vegas, where you can be married by an Impersonator of the ìking.î ››People worship animals, trees, stars, and even themselves.› Unfortunately, even in the Christian community, we worship our superstars who are on T.V. or the radio, write books, and hobnob with celebrities and politicians.›