Oh Great Love of God: Part 2

When I set out to write about this song I did not intend for it to take two posts. The song has a lot of lyrics, and so it is taking longer. This is not a bad thing, it just is. We left off discussing portions of the chorus. If you hav not read the first post, please do so before proceeding farther. Now I am going to turn my attention to verse two, then the bridge. It seems that almost the entire song will be covered in these two posts:

“Servant King of rich and poor, beggar that the world ignores,

Oh let me see Your face, hidden in simple thing.”

These lines are reminiscent of the passage of scripture in which Christ tells the disciples that whatever one does to a “brother, even the least of them, he has done it to Me,” (see Matt 25:34-40). Not only is this singing scripture, which is an act of worship, but it is reminding us of another act of worship, serving other in love! Often in our culture we only see worship as the 90 minutes that we gather together every weekend. This however is only a very small part of what our worship should be. This time of worship, should fill us to the point of overflowing so that we may serve others and worship God individually throughout the week. The chorus communicates, in a way, what Sunday is about.

“This is not a song, this is a revival”

Sunday is about reviving our strength, and our faith. Each song should spark a revival in our lives and faith. If it is not, then something is wrong, not with the song, not with the church, and not with the worship team, but more than likely with the worshiper. Worshipers do not worship through the week, and so they wonder why their Sunday worship is so dry. Sunday worship should overflow into the weeks worship, and the worship from the week should overflow into Sunday. If this is not the case, then one needs to grow. I have been in this place all to often.

“This is a return back to life, oh Your life in my life, it’s Your life in my life that I’m dying for”

Is this something we believe? That acquiescing to Christ is a return to life to true life, to abundant life (John 10:10).

This blog had some tough things in it, I try not to sugar coat when I can, and it may be off putting to some. It’s a struggle for me to put such things in a blog, as it sometimes appears to be done out of arrogance. In reality I am on the same journey as you the reader is. These lyrics speak to my heart and soul, they challenge me, and convict me, just as I hope they do you. Which is why it is in my “Dream CCLI top 25.”

What about this song challenges you?

Oh Great Love of God

Worship is about bringing glory to God. It isn’t about singing, it’s not about having the coolest music. This next song is probably one that many worship leaders would avoid. I believe that many worship leaders would label it as ‘unsingable’ or at least hard to sing. Does a higher percentage of singing in the congregation lead to authentic worship? I would argue and encourage worship leaders to include songs that may be difficult to sing but congregationally but have great music, lyrics and most importantly theology, to help teach this theology to their congregation. This is exactly what this song is. Over time the congregation will become familiar enough with the song to sing along as well.

“Oh Great Love of God” has some lyrics that I feel are awkward, but are theological truths that often get left out of worship songs (at least the ones I hear and know). The first verse for instance:

“Victim of our Sacrifice, gift of love a perfect life, all for a wayward bride, all for a wayward bride.”

The repeated phrase is a little awkward. Perhaps we know that we are the ‘Bride of Christ’ but how often are we reminded that we “have wandered away” as the scriptures say. Despite this Christ still died for us. Let us turn to the Chorus:

“Oh great Love of God, who takes away the sins of all of us, gone forever,

Heaven open wide in a resurrection, You won’t be denied, bringing life to the dead and dying.”

I suppose we can argue that this resurrection is the resurrection at the end times. I instead believe that it is a resurrection of the spirit or soul of a man upon salvation. The work of Christ is to restore life, “and life abundantly” This lyric speaks of the mission of God, a mission that sadly some churches do not pursue. I do not wish to bash the Church or churches, for the Church is the hope of the world, for it is the Body and Bride of Christ. It is just a simple truth that church leaders must work to rectify. There are a number of other lyrics that merit a writing about. For now I will leave it here, and instead of writing a novel of a blog, I will write a part 2 for this song.

Thanks for reading!

 

Focus

A few weekends ago I was sitting in a worship service enjoying singing worship songs and Christmas carols with my fellow Christians at the church I attend. Now this church is not a large church by any means. It can’t afford to have the best technology, the sleekest auditorium, and the best trained volunteers. What makes this church wonderful is the people! Many of the people that attend this church feel called to be a part of it, they weren’t attracted to it because of it’s smooth presentation and state of the art facility, they were attracted to this church because they felt God was doing something there, and that they were called to be a part of it. Well on this particular Sunday morning a video was to be shown. I have always lamented the fact that changing from PowerPoint, to video was not as smooth as it could be, but the church just doesn’t own the tech. On this Sunday there was about a minute of awkward shuffling and panic from the computer/video tech guy as he attempted to sort out the issue. I patiently waited with most of the congregation for things to sort out, as they always do. I was shocked and saddened to hear the gentleman sitting right behind me say, “Oh what a surprise technical difficulties!”

I am well aware that technology and the ‘seeker sensitive’ movement has created a mass of Christians who are consumerist in their thought toward church. I am not condemning the seeker sensitive movement it did some good stuff. What I am ashamed of as a Christian and worshiper of God is the consumerist attitude many Christians have. Despite all of this, I was surprised that someone with this attitude, someone who expected everything to go off without a hitch and as smooth as a hollywood production was sitting in our church that morning. What surprised and shocked me and saddened me the most was that this person was a long time member of the church, and a person that appeared upfront on numerous occasions to give announcements and pray. At that moment I wanted to turn around and confront the gentleman, and rebuke him for his attitude and try to correct his thought process. However, I did not in that moment, because I also became angry at this gentleman for his attitude. I never did get a chance to talk to this gentleman, which I regret.

However, it got me thinking. What is most peoples focus in worship? Do they focus on the quality of the music and production? Do they focus on whether they feel their needs are being met? Or do they focus on the worship of God and the revelation of God to us through His written Word? I am the first to admit that my focus is not always as it should be. I do get lost in some of the trivial details of church sometimes. However, the Church I attend normally does a great job in their music and video production, and more importantly they always do a great job of focusing on God, and not themselves.

My question is: What do you focus on in church? Is it what you can get out of it? Or is it how you can serve and worship God best?

Not Worthy

So the more and more I study worship, it’s techniques, the ‘Biblical’ way to do it, so on and so forth. I am realizing one thing is really and true of worship. It doesn’t matter what denomination, age, style preference, background, or anything; this one thing is true: I am not worthy to worship God, much less lead others in the worship of God! The consequence of this is really that this is universally true for everyone. However, I want to focus on me. I am a sinner, I sin everyday, whether I know it, or admit it, or it gets seen by others, this is the truth. I sin, this means that I can’t worship God. My goal is the be a worship leader, the best that I can be, not so I can brag, but so God gets the glory. But I am a sinner, so I can’t be a worship leader . . . really at all. I can pretend to be one. I may play and sing beautiful tunes, with great theological truths and life changing effects, but I am not a worship leader. I never will be. I may be labeled a worship leader, I may even be given that title someday by a church or organization. But I am not. I cannot truly lead you or anyone else before the throne of God. Why? One word: SIN!

The good news is that because I have a relationship with Jesus Christ, salvation has been bestowed upon me, sanctification given and is being worked out, and holiness imputed to me through Christ, my actions that were in vain without Christ are not. I am not a worship leader, but Christ is. The Holy Spirit that lives and works in me directs my feeble efforts to and into Christ (along with everyone else’s) and Christ than purifies them and presents them to the father for us! Hallelujah! Our Triune God is so awesome. His grace makes His requirements possible. As one of my professors likes to say “The grace of God is that He gives us what He requires of us.”

Worship Gathering vs. Worship Service

I started reading a book called Emerging Worship today, it’s by Dan Kimball. In the first chapter he makes this statement, “Emphasizing ‘worship gatherings’ is vital for the emerging church.” This follows a section where he describes that the term “worship service” as translated from the Greek is really to mean a time when the Body of Christ gathers together to offer their service to God in worship. This has been reversed in time Kimball explains, and so changing the name is necessary, is his conclusion here.

I find myself scratching my head. I am not debating that words have meaning and connotation. Here is why I bring this to your attention. (I hope that worshipers and those that are privileged to lead worship are both reading this.) Changing the name, seems to me, is the easy way out. The western church, in my opinion, seems to like to take the easy way out. Church splits, creating new denominations, is all the easy way out, when working out core issues is the best, and perhaps more painful way of working out church strife. In this case the not easy way out would be defining the terms more concretely for the church. This will take time, it will take practice, and it will take work, but it seems more worth it to me. Eventually “worship gathering” will change and someone else will want to create a new title.

Maybe I just don’t understand the real reason why. I haven’t read the entire book yet, so my mind may yet be changed. I am well aware that culture and time change the way worship appears on the surface. Perhaps this is just part of that change. I feel I must end by saying that I highly respect Dan Kimball, and everything that he has done in the ways of the ‘Emerging Church’ movement. I am just . . .confused, and a little concerned with this particular title change.

Leadership

One of the classes I am taking for my course work this semester is, “Leadership in Worship.” As I am reading my leadership books, and reading about the different types of leaders, and the characteristics of good leaders, I was struck by something I have never been struck with in my life of leading. I barely have any of the leadership qualifications that are listed. Out of a list I just read from Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders, I was unsure if I posses any of the characteristics. Here is the list: discipline (maybe), vision (i don’t think so), wisdom (probably not), decision (I’m a processor), courage (that would be my youngest brother), humility (my father for sure, not me), integrity (I like to think so?), and sincerity (Bingo! got one!). One for sure out of eight, that’s not good, maybe 3 out of 8? That is not even half. The lesson for me? At 28 years of age (almost) I still have a lot to learn on being a good spiritual leader.

Leading the Middle

Early on in my ministry at my last church, the Sr. Pastor there asked me to read a chapter out of a book called Courageous Leadership, this book is now a text-book for my current class at LU. I just finished reading that chapter again. The chapter is on self leadership. It talks about how a leader can lead in four directions. South, to those below them, North, to those above them, and East & West, to their peer group. However, the author says that a leader must lead in the middle, to self! The chapter gives a number of specifics and areas of self that we are required to lead ourselves in, in order to be a good leader. At the time I chose one area of my life to work on, and when I thought I had successfully done that I celebrated internally, and then, did nothing more. If I had taken the chapter to heart then, and worked harder, a great many difficulties in the past year and a half or so would have been avoided.

However, the great thing about mistakes is that you can learn from them, and God always has a plan to help and not harm, regardless what we do. So I am not getting a Grad degree, which to be honest is less about getting the degree and more about learning and disciplining myself to me. What I realized this time around is that self leadership is true for everyone, and is also true in worship. Sure we have that ‘one guy’ up front who asks us to stand, sit, clap, and sing along to the songs he is playing. That leader may be the ‘Worship Leader’ but if you don’t want to worship, you won’t. As a worshiper I must lead myself to worship in order to authentically worship. I am not saying that I don’t need the worship leader or anyone else to get me there, but there is always the choice we have, we can have a bad attitude, or critique every little thing about a worship gathering, or any other things in a long list that we choose to do instead of worship, or we can choose to worship, and in an act of self worship leading, worship truly and authentically. This act is even more difficult (but rewarding) in churches that are unfamiliar and have different worship styles then your own, but still the choice is yours! So I choose to be a self worship leader and choose to worship God with all that I am on Sunday morning and everyday!

What is your worship choice?