Separation of Church FROM THE State

I feel I must take a break from the Worship War series to write this:

Earlier this week the governor of WA approved the rights for gays to marry. I’m sure a great many of Christians and Evangelicals are outraged, or upset, or possible apathetic to this decision? They may see it as part of the continual degradation of our culture and government into moral decay. I believe I take a unique stance in this particular area. I disagree with what took place theologically, however philosophically I agree with the decision. How is this possible you may ask? Well I am a true free churcher. Most people, especially Christians, don’t realize that the USA was founded on religious freedom. “Thats crazy of course we know that.” What most of you believe is that we wanted freedom from the religious powers of England or France or Spain, or whoever. That was true initially. However, our Founding Fathers were wise enough to realize, that they couldn’t allow the State to run the Church, or vice versa. They couldn’t allow our fledgling nation to fall into the trap that so many old world nations/churches had fallen into.

If you are a true free churcher, and truly  believe in freedom of religion then you will philosophically, nay you must philosophically believe that WA state has made the right choice. It is not for the Church, or the state to dictate moral law onto it’s people. Yes the state must maintain civil order and protect it’s citizens, but to deny the right to religious freedom is outside of the states jurisdiction. We Christians may disagree theologically with the states decision and we should from this angle. However, I must ask the question, who’s fault is it that our nation, our state has come to this? It’s the Church’s! For too long we have squabbled inside our own walls over song style, trivial theological nuances or carpet color, while the world has longed for someone to tell them the truth. And in our absence they made up there own and now here we are.

So Christian, don’t be angry at the state for doing it’s job, thats not fair, thats like being angry at a bar tender for cutting you off when you’ve already had one too many (which is illegal in WA state btw). Christian be angry that you sat comfortably in your padded chair on a Sunday morning but didn’t apply that message on evangelism. Be angry with yourself that you didn’t talk to your neighbor about Christ. Be angry with yourself that you held signs that said “Fags go to hell.” That is why we are where we are today. Now I know that you, my reader may not be any of these people. However, there are those that have done these things, and unfortunately a vast majority of Christians fall into these areas.

What are we to do now? Love the world, tell them lovingly about the Son of God who has come from heaven to earth and lived and died for your sins and for their sins. Tell them of the great love of God that allowed for their sins to be removed. Tell them how Christ is risen, and loves them despite their sin. Remember to do it in love. For as 1 Corinthians 13 (read the entire chapter) tells us if we do great things in the name of God without love it is for naught.

You may disagree with me, and that if fine. I am more than ready to admit that this is my humble, but forceful opinion. Tell me your thoughts, I want to know so that I can learn and grow from your wisdom as I hope you learn and grow from my feeble attempts at wisdom.

How are you impacting your world?

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Working Definition

In my last post I began to talk about the worship wars. A friend of mine challenged the idea that everyone worships. I believe that is because the definition of worship has become so narrow. In my experience when you ask people what worship is they define it along these lines: “Singing songs to God.” Well they got a small portion of the definition there. The word that is translated most into worship is the Greek word proskynein. This word roughly translates into bowing down or prostrating oneself before someone or something. In the biblical sense it is more given to the idea that this is the attitude of the heart, as well as an acceptable worship position. In the Old Testament if you were to dedicate yourself to the worship of a God or set of gods you dedicated your life to their service. Everything you did in your day to day life was to serve them in some capacity. This should still be true to today. This is why I claim (as Noel Due also wrote) that all people worship. Some worship God, others serve other gods. More often than not people are serving themselves, making money, and trying to get ahead for themselves. This means that more often than not people are worshiping who? Themselves, and by proxy (because of a simply devious and evil deception by The Deciever himself Satan) they are worshiping the Satan.

For the remainder of the “Worship War” series that I write I am going to be working from this definition of worship: Worship is the life consuming and life long service to a person, persons, or deity. It can include the way life is lived, how one treats those he meets, the attitude they have in work, prayers, reading of scriptures, serving, bowing down, and singing of songs among other things. Keep in mind that although I attempted to be thorough in my definition that it is still limiting as well as not the best definition of worship. I would appreciate additions to my definitions in the comment section.

How do you best worship?

Worship Confession

Christians do not like to confess short comings . . . I guess we think it destroys the image of God or Jesus, or probably more realistically it’s not about that it’s about us. The confession I need to make I am happy to make. Here it is: I have trouble worshiping authentically in corporate settings. In my living room I am free to pour out my heart and soul, put me upfront as the worship guide (I decided I like this term better than worship leader, because Christ is the real worship leader) and I can also worship authentically. However, in the congregation I tend to sing quieter, and be more reserved in my worship. I like to tell myself that it’s so I don’t distract others from worship, but it’s really because I’m self-conscious about my singing amongst the congregation. It seems silly really. If I guide (or lead) and people hear my singing in this way, it doesn’t make sense to be self-conscious without the microphone. I can’t really explain it. The reality is that we all need to worship authentically in the congregation in order to edify and uplift those around us. More importantly, because we are commanded to sing in the congregation, and we have examples of Christ singing in the congregation (Psalm 22:22). I need to do this, and I pray and hope that you, my readers will strive to do this as well.

O Holy Night . . .

“O Holy Night” is my favorite Christmas Carole. Musically it rises and falls beautifully, draws you in, and takes you on a journey. Lyrically it is thoughtful and well written. Theologically, this is why I really love it. This song lays out a great worship theology. “Fall on your knees, hear the angel’s voices.” These lines speak deeply into what worship is. The Greek word for worship is proskynein which translates into bow down, or a kiss toward. We don’t often see worship as this, we normally think worship is singing songs. This is just a part, the word proskynein does not indicate a physical reaction but an action of one’s heart. Your heart and soul are to bow before God in worship, what it be. In addition, hearing the angels is an indication of eternal worship. When we worship today, we are to look back at what God has done, worship Him in the present and for what He is doing and finally, perhaps most importantly, worship God for what He will do and the eternal worship we will enjoy with the angels and Jesus Christ in the New Earth, “forever and ever and ever . . .”

This song is not my normal worship song pick, it isn’t my style, nor is it written more recently. My second point comes from this. Style and era of the song shouldn’t matter, the author of the song shouldn’t matter either. We shouldn’t select songs because they are the most popular Hillsong songs, or Tomlin, or Redman, or Crowder, or Jesus Culture and we can hear them on the radio. We should pick them because they are musically compelling and easy to remember and more importantly because their theological and doctrinal language edifies us and glorifies God!! The song should cause us to proskynein (worship) God, not think “Oh this song is so cool and I love the author.” I am just as guilty as this as anyone, I freely admit that I have bias toward DC*B. My challenge to myself, and other worship leader, pastors and worshipers is to find songs that truly worship God, and don’t just give you the warm fuzzies. Our worship tells the story of God in a way that glorifies Him, make sure we strive to do that as well.

The Little Drummer Boy

I mentioned in my last blog that I am not a big fan of the Christmas season. I love Christmas and what it stands for. This year I have actually been listening to more Christmas music than I normally do, and a song, quiet unexpectedly, struck me as quiet profound. This song is: The Little Drummer Boy! I’m linking the lyrics so I don’t have to post them all. What struck me as profound is what it actually communicates about worship. I don’t think most people, if anyone, actually thinks about what Christmas songs communicate about worship, but for some reason I was when I heard this song. The premise of the song is that this poor little boy is invited to join the Magi to see the Lord on the night He was born. The Magi offer Christ rich gifts that would be offered to a king. The poor little boy has nothing but a drum, and so the boy offers a song on his drum to Jesus. The Carol expresses that Jesus enjoys and approves of the song through a simple smile. Why is this so profound? It communicates that it isn’t the cost of the gift, it isn’t the extravagance of what is offered, but it is the sincerity, authenticity, and heart of the one offering the gift of worship to Christ.

Often in our churches today those that fill the seats or pews see those that serve upfront, or in more ‘public’ ways are those offering the best ‘gifts of praise.’ However, the most talented of worship leaders, and speakers can have a jaded heart, or a prideful soul as they present their offering. If you don’t have the gifts, or calling to be an upfront worshiper, if you can’t do musical offerings, or speak profound words do not fret. You are the modern day equivalent to the drummer boy. You have something to offer. Something that may be even more profoundly important than all of the elements that make a church run on a Sunday morning. Search your heart for what you can and want to offer to God as an act of worship through service and offering and give it. The same smile of approval that the baby Jesus gives the drummer boy will undoubtadly be given to you as well.

Merry Christmas!

Preparation

Well Thanksgiving is behind us, we’re all eating our leftovers, or have already eaten them all. Our attention begins to now turn to Christmas. I have shocked numerous people by saying, “I hate Christmas.” Most people wonder why I would hate such a ‘joyous’ season of giving and receiving, Christians wonder how I can hate the time of year we remember and celebrate the coming of the Christ. I choose the words carefully to get attention and start a conversation. I really hate the over-commercialization of the season, ‘Black Friday’ the excess that happens, deals, sales, Santa Claus and anything that really doesnt’ have anything to really do with Christ. I really hold the holiday of Christmas in such reverence that I am disgusted that ‘the season’ kicks of with Black Friday. I also despise any Christmas song that has nothing to do with Christ, which I get hammered for sometimes. The short of the long of it is, Christmas should be such a reverent and holy time, and often even we Christians get lost in the ‘festivities’.

All that being said, yesterday my wife, Amy, and I went to cut

down our Christmas tree, this was the first time I had ever cut down a tree for us or ever. I went with my family as a child to do this of course, but never for my wife and I. My wife and I then proceeded to set-up the tree and decorate and light it. My wife (with a giant smile) on her face decorated our apartment with Christmas decorations, she has a good eye for this kind of thing. When she was done she stood in the middle of our living area, with a giant smile on her face, and exclaimed how cute the place looked! I could only really look at her and agree. Why tell you all of this? Because of Romans 12:1, here Paul commands us to pour our lives out as a ‘drink offering’ as a way of worship. We are to serve as a part of our worship. If I was single, or didn’t love my wife as much, I would not have gone to any trouble to get a tree in this way. However, I wanted her to be happy, and to serve her in this way. In doing so I offered myself as a ‘drink offering’ before God by serving my wife.

My challenge to you is to find a way to serve others during this season. Worship God, and honor Christ, by doing this. Don’t care about what you get, or who does what for you, what deals you get at the store, or the perfect parking spot. Concern yourself with how you can serve others this Christmas. If Christmas is all about Christ, and Christ served us, then we should honor Him by doing the same!

As time goes on . . .

I’ve been blogging since I was in college (the first time) probably late 2004, back then it was on MySpace. Wait what? What’s myspace. Yea I wasn’t very legit. My focus was youth culture and youth ministries back then. Over time my blogging transitioned from MySpace to Blogger, to WordPress, where we are now. In addition, my subjects changed. I stuck with youth thing for a long time. Occasionally writing on other subjects. More recently, I have made the transition into focusing on worship. This subject came up a lot when I wrote in the youth realm, but now it is my main focus. I may sometimes stray, and share other thoughts. To me however, everything comes back to worship. We all do it, every single human worships. Not all of us do it right. (gasp!) I don’t mean that my way to worship is right, what I mean is that some of us worship celebrities, sports, ourselves, sex, idols, other gods, or perhaps the one true God. We all worship . . . the right worship is the worship of Yahwah! Creator of our universe and all in it. This is why I focus on worship, it really impacts everyone, whether they know it or not. My philosophy is that the Bible (which is the most important text we have on God) reveals to us more who God is AND how we are to worship Him correctly. The more we know about God the more truly we can worship Him. I don’t know all the latest forms, and ideas on worship. I don’t know which is the best. What I do know, is that I worship, and you worship. I just want us to worship God, the way He wants to be. “In spirit and in truth.” I hope you’ll help me figure it out, or read as I stumble upon new truths in worship. This post is really a long, long thank you. Thanks! All of you that read, whether I know you personally, or we met through the blogosphere. Thank you so much for reading, and especially for participating in the conversation on worship. Please share your thoughts on my thoughts. Together maybe we can help each other worship more correctly!

All for the glory of the One true holy and awesome God!