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What makes for wonderful worship?
Topic Started: Apr 11 2010, 04:28 PM (1,130 Views)
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Resident Rebbi

There has been one thing in particular that has made me alternately smile or shake my head over the years. Have you ever walked out of a service in your home congregation or one where you've visited and heard someone say, "Wasn't worship wonderful today?" So many times, I've had to wonder if they had been in the same service with me because there was nothing that I recognized as worship!

This past week, I've been rereading an old favorite, Judson Cornwall's Let Us Draw Near. Dr. Cornwall has been both a long time hero and was a personal friend during the last years of his life. As I read this particular book (present and past tense), I could hear his voice reading to me and teaching me, and one particular phrase stuck out this week. Paraphrased, "Worship belongs to the object of worship, not to the worshiper." Hmmm. There have been times in the past when I have commented on the fine quality of the worship or praise times together. Papa Judson's words have convicted me. Who am I to say that the worship was wonderful? I can talk about what it meant to me and that I was really able to enter in, or that I felt it was more worshipful or more praiseful, but on it's quality?

Worship belongs to Him Who sits on the throne. He alone is the One Who can decide if the worship was wonderful. How can I react to that? How do I assess my own personal worship efforts in light of that reality?

Romans 12:1 is an important definer of things and attitudes concerning worship. It's a spiritual duty, it involves my entire being (offer your body, or your entire being as a living sacrifice). Worship involves the outward, and physical response to the inward realization of God's love for me. We are loving Him back as it were. How are we to do that? Jesus taught us in Luke and Mark by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 to love Him with ALL, defining all by including heart, soul, strength, and mind. Jesus actually amplified that quote, but He's allowed so that we can get a more complete view of what it is that He inspired in the first place! :) The point is the "all". This is in keeping with what has been called the Hebrew mindset. See the attached file for a comparison between Hebrew and Greek mindsets. The Hebraic thinkers knew that we are complex but compiled beings. We really cannot divide mind from strength. One affects the other too deeply to divide them.

Because of that, Paul's injunction is easily applied to worship expressions. If we're not paying full attention to the throne, and more concerned about getting that note right or making the timing right with a flag or getting the dance step right, we lose the real focus.

What makes worship "WONderful"? Pick the word apart--wonder filled. Most of us know that we can get all inspired about and warm and fuzzy about time in His presence. We NEED to be affected by Him, but we need to guard ourselves to keep the focus not on the ooh/aah but on the One Who makes our hearts go pittypat. For those of us who are up-front ministers, our best days are when we disappear and when people see God. John the Baptist had it figured out: "I must decrease."

Now is wonderful worship all about what we as leaders offer? Of course not. Can your worship experience be powerful while mine is kind of stinky? Sure. It's always a two or three way street, like any communication. If Bob is saying/singing/dancing it, but Sharleen not getting it or has a chip on her shoulder today about anything, will both have a good experience in worship? Probably not. If the Holy Spirit can penetrate the dark shroud over Sharleen's heart. If Bob's offering is pure and brings others to the throne and into conversation/communion with our Lord, worship was wonderful, even if Sharleen wasn't able to participate. For those who saw Bob, sniffed and saw him as elitist or egotistical or arrogant, even though he wasn't, it's not Bob's problem! And it's not those who mis-perceive. That's God the Holy Spirit's problem. God will receive the offerings that are pure, in this case from Bob, and from those who worshiped with Bob's pure offering, whose hearts were turned toward the throne, whose eyes saw Abba rather than being impressed or depressed by whatever Bob offered!

In my mind, God receives pure offerings. That makes worship wonderful!

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