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Summary: Don’t waste your life in secret, cheap acts designed to get the praise of people. Instead, give it all away in exposed, expensive, extravagant acts of devotion to our Lord, because that is what worship is all about.

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An old farmer went to the city one weekend and attended the big city church. He came home and his wife asked him how it was. “Well,” said the farmer, “It was good. They did something different, however. They sang praise choruses instead of hymns.”

“Praise choruses,” said his wife, “What are those?”

“Oh, they’re okay. 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. If, on the other hand, 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 two or three times, well that would be a praise chorus.” (Author Unknown, from a Biblical Foundations of Worship class at Crown College, 2010).

On the other hand, a young farmer who was used to the worship in his new church found himself in an old traditional church one weekend. He came home and his wife asked him how it was. “Well,” said the young farmer, “It was good. They did something different, however. They sang hymns instead of regular songs.”

“Hymns,” said his wife, “What are those?”

“Oh, they’re okay. They’re sort of like regular songs, only different,” said the young farmer.

“Well, what’s the difference?” asked his wife.

The young man 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 regular song. If, on the other hand, 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 mild 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 one, three and four and do a key change on the last verse, well that would be a hymn.” (Author Unknown, from a Biblical Foundations of Worship class at Crown College, 2010)

Sometimes, in our discussions about worship, we get caught up on trivial things like the style of music, but worship is about something much bigger than that. Worship is not about whether we sing hymns or praise choruses. It’s about expressing our love for the Lord.

This morning, I want us as a church to take a look at that bigger picture when it comes to our worship together. I’m not going to talk about contemporary versus traditional styles of music. I’m not interested in discussions about the organ or the drums. Instead, I want us to focus on what it means to truly and honestly love the Lord, our God.

What does that look like? How does Jesus want us to express our love for Him? What pleases Him most in our expressions of worship?

Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Mark 14, Mark 14, where we get a beautiful picture of real worship.

Mark 14:3-9 While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly. “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (NIV)

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