Was That Worship?

For many evangelicals, it seems goosebumps are the litmus test as to whether a song is anointed, but an emotional reaction can be misleading. I once had a co-worker who loved just about everything Disney. He put a sticker on his car, and he would proudly wear Disney hats and shirts. He was one of the managers at the store where I was working at the time, and I remember one day when everything was going wrong, he said to me, “when this day is over I am going home, and I’m going to watch an old Disney movie.” When I pressed him a bit as to why he chose to watch an old Disney movie as opposed to anything else, he said, “Disney things just bring me back to when I was a kid.” Ultimately, there was a sense of nostalgia from all the memories of growing up, and these things moved his affections in a way that made him feel a bit better after a hard day.

On another note, music has a way of doing the same type of things for us. I can remember in high school and college when I would be listening to secular radio, and that new song that I had been waiting to hear would come on. Immediately, I would turn up the volume, and I would be energized by what I was hearing. I would sing along with all the passion I could muster, sometimes to questionable lyrics.

There is nothing wrong with a bit of nostalgia and being energized or moved by some piece of music, provided the context is not sinful. Still, when you put these things together with a Christian worship service or program, we must be careful to discern our emotions. I bring this up because sometimes we can be misled to think that we have had a time of worship, or that we have heard a great sermon, on the sole basis that it moved our affections.

We must pay close attention to what is stirring our hearts to discern whether what we are experiencing is worship or even spiritual. When the worship leader plays the first chords of our favorite praise song, are we being energized much like the natural man who hears a secular song that causes him to turn up the radio, or are we genuinely worshipping? When grandma’s favorite hymn starts to play and causes us to experience a time of peace and contentment while thinking back to when she used to sing it to us as a child, do we sometimes confuse that with worship?

Now, I am not saying we should only sing dull songs or songs that do not remind us of anything, or that it is impossible to be genuinely worshipping during these times. On the contrary, I think it can be helpful to remember our family worship from when we were growing up, and I believe it is good that we still have people today writing new psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs for us to sing that gets us excited. What I want to stress is that merely because we have these moments, does not mean we are worshipping or that we have drawn near to God in adoration.

Charles Spurgeon once said that if he wanted to, he could move congregations to tears by telling them sad stories of mothers with sick children or energize them by telling them stories of men and women who accomplished great things. He then went on to say, it would be a waste of time unless they were moved to cry over their sin and take joy in Christ and the cross. In other words, were their hearts and attention drawn to Jesus?

Even the natural man’s affections move in powerful ways, but those emotional stirrings will never be worship unless the truth of scripture moves us as the Holy Spirit points us to Christ and what He has done for us. Whether we attend a modern or traditional worship service is not the biggest issue, but we must be sure to seek out worship and preaching that convicts us of sin and shows us the remedy in Christ, which is the foundation of all true spiritual worship.

-D. Eaton-

Singing Lies in Church

Aiden W. Tozer once said, “Christians don’t tell lies–they just go to church and sing them!” This is one of those quotes that jolts us to the core once it is properly understood. Without context, however, many people misunderstand what he is saying because they immediately begin to think of hymns and worship songs with bad theology, and there are plenty of song lyrics we sing that should cause us to scratch our heads, such as:

“Like a rose, trampled on the ground, you took the fall and THOUGHT OF ME ABOVE ALL.”

“So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss.”

“And in His presence, our problems disappear.”

These types of lyrics certainly deserve closer scrutiny, but what Tozer was really getting at is the fact that we often sing songs that do not coincide with our true spiritual state. We often sing:

“I am a tree bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy”.

When, in fact, our hearts are hard and unmoved by the cross as we sing. Or we will sing:

“Where You go, I’ll go
Where You stay, I’ll stay
When You move, I’ll move
I will follow… “

when we plan on going out to live like the world on Monday. We could go on and on exposing lyrics we regularly sing, that we often have no intention of living out in our actual lives or are contrary to the state of our hearts.

This is no small matter in the eyes of the Lord. He desires truth in the inward parts (Psalm 51:6). There should be integrity and sincerity in all that we do and say, especially when it comes to worshipping the King of Kings. Jesus pointed this out when he said:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. -Matthew 23:27-27.

If you read this article and think, “I’m glad I don’t do that,” as if you somehow escape unscathed, you have completely missed the point. We are all guilty of this. We all fall short, and none us can worship God properly in our own strength.

It is important that the Christian life be one of constant repentance. This should also remind us that it is usually better, in our worship, to sing about God and what he has done instead of singing about ourselves, but that alone would portray a truncated picture, for as Michael Horton says,

“The Gospel is not about you, but it is for you.”

Our songs should exhibit this fact as well. The Gospel does impact us and changes our hearts, but we should never forget the fact that even our worship is tinged with sinfulness. This recognition of our sinfulness should direct us even more resolutely to praise Jesus, who offers us forgiveness and continues to beckon our sinful selves to approach the throne of grace with confidence. However, as we approach Him, we must always remember that the “throne of grace,” leads us to three important truths.

  1. It is a throne, so we should not approach it flippantly or without sincerity.
  2. It is a throne of grace in the sense that we do not deserve to approach it at all. None of us are worthy and we must approach it in repentance.
  3. It is a throne of grace in the sense that, though we are unworthy to approach His throne, that is the very reason we need to draw near. It is here we find the forgiveness we need and the underserved favor we so desperately desire.

If we would prepare our hearts by remembering each of these points before we begin to sing to the Lord, it may just help us all to sing fewer lies in our times of worship.

-D. Eaton

Good and Gracious King by CityAlight

May your spirit soar as you worship your king with this beautiful song.

I approach the throne of glory
Nothing in my hands I bring
But the promise of acceptance
From a good and gracious King

I will give to You my burden
As You give to me Your strength
Come and fill me with Your Spirit
As I sing to You this praise

You deserve the greater glory
Overcome, I lift my voice
To the King in need of nothing
Empty handed I rejoice

You deserve the greater glory
Overcome with joy I sing
By Your love I am accepted
You’re a good and gracious King

O what grace that You would see me
As Your child and as Your friend
Safe, secure in You forever
I pour out my praise again

You deserve the greater glory
Overcome, I lift my voice
To the King in need of nothing
Empty handed I rejoice

You deserve the greater glory
Overcome with joy I sing
By Your love I am accepted
You’re a good and gracious King

Holy, holy, Lord Almighty
Good and gracious
Good and gracious
Holy, holy, Lord Almighty
Good and gracious King

Holy, holy, Lord Almighty
Good and gracious
Good and gracious
Holy, holy, Lord Almighty
Good and gracious King

You deserve the greater glory
Overcome, I lift my voice
To the King in need of nothing
Empty handed I rejoice

You deserve the greater glory
Overcome with joy I sing
By Your love I am accepted
You’re a good and gracious King

-CityAlight

Is He Worthy? – Andrew Peterson

Andrew Peterson released a new song off of his upcoming album today, and it is absolutely breathtaking. It made my Spirit soar. Do yourself a favor and take a listen. I have included the lyrics below.

 

Do you feel the world is broken?
We do.
Do you feel the shadows deepen?
We do.
But do you know that all the darkness
Won’t stop the light from getting through?
We do.
Do you wish you could see it all made new?
We do.

Is all creation groaning?
It is.
Is a new creation coming?
It is.
Is the glory of the of the Lord
To be the light within our misdst?
It is.
Is it good that we remind ourselves of this?
It is.

Is anyone worthy?
Is anyone whole?
Is anyone able to break the seal
And to open the scroll?
The Lion of Judah
Who conquered the grave
He was David’s root and the Lamb who died
To ransom the slave
Is He Worthy?
Is He Worthy?
Of all blessing and honor and glory?
Is He worthy of this?
He is.

Does the Father truly love us?
He does.
Does the Spirit move among us?
He does.
Does Jesus our Messiah
Hold forever those He loves?
He does.
Does our God intend to dwell again with us?
He does.

Is anyone worthy?
Is anyone whole?
Is anyone able to break the seal
And to open the scroll?
The Lion of Judah
Who conquered the grave
He was David’s root and the Lamb who died
To ransom the slave
From every people and tribe
Every nation and tongue
He has made us a kingdom
And priests to God
To reign with the Son.

Is He worthy?
Is He worthy?
Of all blessing and honor and glory?
Is He worthy?
Is He worthy?
Is He worthy of this?
He is?
Is He worthy?
Is He worthy?
He is.
He is.