Posts tagged ‘Worship’

Evolution of Praise

First off, allow me to say that however one chooses to praise God is not for me to judge. I love watching all kinds of praisers. It’s all beautiful to me. This post, however, is just a look at my own evolution as a praiser and lover of God, because the way that I give myself to Him now is far different from where I used to be.

I grew up in a Missionary baptist church. I loved it for what it was. I accepted salvation there. I was baptized there. I preached my first sermon there. That church gave me my formative development as a person and as a Christian. I still consider that my genesis. I heard many types of preachers there. There were the fiery ones, the expositive ones, the quietly effective ones, etc. We sang hymns, and had a church choir that actually had SATB voices, with people who knew the technical aspects of beautiful music. SO we praised God with polish and refinement. There was no lifting of hands, merely a quiet reverence for God.

This was fine with me, because at that point in my life, I was not fully committed to God, and so I figured that singing my best was the best way that I could give God praise. Going to churches with “free praisers” scared me. I thought that “those” people were absolutely out of their minds. My friends and I would make fun of people who danced and lifted their hands. We were bougie. “Look at that woman shouting!” “Look at that old man doing that jig!” We were ignorant. We barely knew God. We had no knowledge of the Holy Spirit. We served God out of a duty to the church.

When I got married, I moved over to my wife’s church. We would visit there frequently while we were engaged, and this church was in the midst of a powerful revival in the Holy Spirit. Even while I didn’t understand what was happening around me, I knew that even the air was different. The music was catchy, with a great beat and some great vocals. The singing, while not always pretty and refined, was so sincere. The people clapped and sang at the top of their lungs. This was a raw atmosphere. People danced and passed out. The Pastor of the church walked on the pews when he got “happy” during service. Sometimes, (EGAD), he didn’t even preach and the people just sat moaned for God. What was this? It wasn’t until I joined the church and received the baptism of the Holy Spirit that I really began to understand what praise was. Even then, I praised God out of my emotion. I would dance and do a high step. I would clap and shout. Deep inside of me though, something was missing. I knew it, but I so enjoyed praising in that atmosphere. Man, just thinking about it makes me smile.

When my wife and I moved to the church we currently reside in, something strange happened. Over the last 7 years, I have received training in the knowledge of who God is, why He is so worthy of my highest praise, and how to let go. I’ve spent time in the word with God. I have encountered a God who had been a distant relative before, but has not become my closest friend. I have experience God in ways that I never would have imagined, and He has completely shattered everything that I thought that I knew about Him time after time after time. With each “rediscovery”, I have felt my level of exuberance in praise increase. I have gone from standing completely still and lifting my hands, to jumping up and down like a wild man, crying out so loudly that I can barely sing, dancing on stage. I have gone from being reserved and wondering what everyone else was doing, to closing my eyes and becoming “undignified” in the presence of my God.

One of my favorite stories about David is when the Ark of the Covenant came back. The Bible talks about how David took off his clothes and dances in his skivvies in front of all of his subjects and the people of Israel. When his wife questioned his sanity, he proudly declared that he would become even more undignified, because God’s Presence returning was worth every celebration…and more. Now, David was a king. He went hard for God in front of everyone without a single ounce of embarrassment. He knew that he was celebrating for an audience of One.

And this is where I am right now. The God that I now know is simply too good for me to sit still. I know Him too well now to just give Him a cursory nod and keep on moving. I choose to exhaust my limbs and move my body, I choose to offer up my voice with all of it’s imperfections and cracks. I choose to not let singing the wrong notes bother me. I choose rather, to focus on Him, knowing that He inhabits my praise, and while it is not perfect, it is all for Him, and Him alone.

Simply put, as I’be grown in Him, I’ve grown in my willingness to give Him my all in praise. I do know this, though. However you choose to praise God is a praise that God accepts willingly from you. You don’t have to imitate anyone else. All He wants is a praise that comes from your heart, and however that looks for you, if your heart is engaged, God is pleased.

Have a great evening! Be blessed, peeps.

Old Memory, New Desire.

I remember it clearly.

 

That morning, as a minister on staff at a the church that I had grown up in, the very same church that I preached my first sermon in, I told the new pastor that I was leaving the congregation. Looking back now, I didn’t do it right, but that’s not the point of this post. I remember the very first time that I felt the Holy Spirit stirring my heart as we sang a hymn that I had sang all of my life without any emotion whatsoever. I remember fighting back tears, not wanting to look dumb as I sang along with the church choir in my very best operatic voice.

I remember that Sunday, because I had long since recognized that I needed something more. I needed what the people in my wife’s church had. I didn’t just want it. I NEEDED it like a crack addict fiends for that next hit. I had to have it. And so I remember. I remember burning rubber after the service was over, eager to get to the my new church home. When we got there, the Pastor was still preaching. I don’t remember what he was preaching about. It doesn’t even matter. All that matters is when he made his appeal, I remember being so worked up, that I jumped from my seat in the back, and with a vise grip on my wife’s hand, drug her to the front of the church. I wonder what I must have looked like…a man in a suit with the ugliest face EVER! i didn’t care. I wanted what they had. I wanted to know WHO they danced and sang for. I WANTED the Holy Spirit! It was the first time that I had ever felt driven to my knees by the power of the Holy Spirit. I felt hands on me, and I heard people praying, but none of it even translated into my shaking body.

When I rose, I had a new church home. In the days, weeks, and months that followed, I began reading everything that I could find on receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I prayed for it constantly, not quite having it register that it happened from the moment I asked in faith. Whenever I felt the Lord speaking a word for someone, I never hesitated one time to give that word to that person. Most times, it was spot on! I was on a high. i was young, dumb, and full of a desire to please God. My praise went from listless notes to shouted voicings of adoration. My worship frequently involved tears and bowing low in the presence of God.  Every spare piece of change I had went towards buying books that i thought would help me understand what was happening to me. I watched TBN and TCC, and any other thing that i could that i thought would help me become who God was creating. The other young ministers who were along with me…we were so on fire! Those were the days. I think back to those days, how we didn’t want to pastor. We just wanted to work. We just wanted to touch lives and allow God to rock the world of everyone that we met. We frequently laid hands on people. We felt like we had a movement that was centered on the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that was being revealed to us.

Fast forward to today in service. My Pastor continued his series on “Changing Your Sound”. He focused on worship. And while he said many things, there was one thing that stood out to me. It was in Luke, I believe, where the story of the woman who washed Jesus’ feet appears. She worships Him in the midst of men who felt like she did not belong, because of her sinful past. Yet, she worshiped Him with her tears, her hair, and her oil. My Pastor mentioned the fact that the disciples weren’t even worshiping Him at that moment. They had become a little too familiar with Jesus. They had been walking with him for a while now, and had seen Him do all manner of miracles, and preach the most profound messages ever. Jaded? maybe. Callous? Possibly. Either way, they knew Him. The Pharisees thought that they knew what “good living” was. They weren’t worshiping Him. This woman, this harlot, came in and showed them what true worship was. She probably had heard of this man, Jesus, but she didn’t “know” him. But, she worshiped him.

The memory above came flooding back to me. I want that. i need that overwhelming desire back. We get so wrapped up in wanting to know God’s will. Sometimes, all it takes is just to remember that first moment of need for God. Sometimes, all we need is just to remember where He has brought us from; how His blood has cleaned up the wretched messes that we were, and sometimes are. I was convicted on how I have focused on the wrong thing..made mission the main thing, when just worshiping Him should have been. In truth, I have no mission unless He gives me vision. And how can He give me vision without spending real time in His presence to just know Him more?

Lord, don’t let me become so familiar with you that I become callous to Your presence, and forget what I was created to do. I pray that everything in my life concerning you would become fresh. I pray that my heart would be fresh and raw, exposed, and transparent. I pray that my jealousies, ambitions, pride, Lord anything that I would even THINK that i could boast about, I pray that it would be washed away. Make my worship new. Make my need for you new. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Change Your Sound pt 3

Gen 4:2-8- now Abel kept flocks and Cain worked in the soil. In the course of time, Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to The Lord. And Abel also brought an offering…..the Lord looked favorably upon Abel’s offering, but not Cain’s. the The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Now Cain said to he brother Abel, “lets go out into the field.” while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

Worship revealed our moods. We can never enter into the presence of God without our true selves first being revealed. When He casts the mirror back upon us, then He begins changing us into His image.

Last week, we learned that Leah named her kids the way she did because the wanted the attention of her husband, but when she named Judah, it was because the wanted Gods attention. What she didn’t realize was that she already has His heart and love.

In the same way, we see this week that God had already put in place a way to worship Him. It wasn’t a way to earn His love, because He already loved us fiercely. But Cain doesn’t bring a blood sacrifice, which was required. He brings fruits from his field. This indicates the struggle of man with worship.

Thus, the question is asked..” will we worship God His way, or our way?” God has instituted ways in which we should worship Him. It may look differently, but the heart of it is the same. There must be some sound associated with it. When Paul and Silas were in jail, they began to sing and make a sound while they were chained. First their chains fell off, and then e doors opened in every cell.

Your praise not only sets you free, but helps set others free around you. Paul and Silas praised, but everyone was set free! Our praise is NOT simply for us. It can inspire others to worship freely.

Just because we call ourselves a church doesn’t mean that God is here. There must be a sound for God to inhabit. If there is no praise going forth, then this is not a holy place!

Just because you give it to God doesn’t mean that He has to accept it. He accepted Abel’s offering, but rejected Cain’s. He requires our best. Sometimes our best is a struggle. Other times, we give God our leftovers and wonder why we don’t see a return. God deserves far more than just our leftovers. Give God everything that you have in your heart to give!

God doesn’t reject us. He rejects what we bring Him. He rejects our leftovers. Cain didn’t bring God what He wanted because it would have placed him outside of His comfort zone. It would have stretched him. He was a farmer, not comfortable with animals. Fruits were easy for him. But worship is not a personality issue. It is an obedience issue. Too many times, we just bring God what is easy.

There should ALWAYS be a sound of praise ready to come out of our mouths.

2 main things happen when we praise.

-we are set free
-we kill our pride.

It’s easy to let emotions take us into praise when things are going great. If the week is good, we have our praise music going and we are in a zone. You’re in the zone.

James 5:13- is anyone among you in trouble?…..let them praise.
Psalm 42:3-5 – my tears have been my food all day and night, while people say to me all day long, “where is your God.” These things I remember as I pour out my soul; how I used to go into the house of God under the protection of the mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng. Why my soul are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and My God!

The sound of our services should never change! In good, PRAISE Him. In bad, Praise Him. This is why we were created.

Change Your Sound

Mark 2:22- and no one pours new wine into an old wine skin. Otherwise the wine would burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.

This verse is a metaphor for our lives. We can not receive newness from God into our old lives. We must be made new. We must become fresh now, so that God can pour His newness into us. We keep waiting on God to make a move. God is waiting on us to prepare ourselves first.

Sometimes church is the last one to let go of old things. We hold onto traditions, living inside of time warps. But we must crave something new. We can not get stuck in a rut. God is waiting on us to make a move.

-God will not pour out something new into our spirits until we have prepared ourselves to receive it. You can’t put a new move of God into an old tradition.

Ps 33:3, 51:10- these scriptures command us to sing a new song.

1 Cor. 1:25-28- for the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom…..but God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise…..

Faith makes you ignore what your physical eyes see, instead of trusting them. You have to see in the spirit before it happens.

Your miracle starts with what you hear and choose to see in your spirit, long before you see it with your natural eyes,

I Know..I’m Late.

I hope you all had a very happy Thanksgiving holiday break. I know I’m late, as most bloggers to the cursory “What I’m Thankful For” blog before or on Thanksgiving. In a prior blog, I did the same thing. This year though, I didn’t want to be cursory. I really wanted to think about what I was thankful for. I mean, yes. I’m thankful for my wife and children. I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful for my church. Those things are a given. But it really hounded me that so many times we give thanks for things, yet we have no real reason WHY we give thanks for them. And yes, we should give thanks in all things, for this is the will of God through Christ Jesus for us. I believe that. But it hit me yesterday what I’m thankful for.

 

When we have worship services, I am usually on stage singing with the worship team. While I have no qualms whatsoever about going after God and closing my eyes to focus properly, there are many Sundays where I don’t close them. I look around the service to gauge the temperature of the people worshiping. This is what I saw yesterday. I saw people who had not gone up for prayer being prayed for by people close to them. I saw people at the altar, totally abandoning themselves to God. I heard people shouting out and crying out to God. As worship continued, our Pastor came up and instead of calming things down so that the Associate Pastor could begin his message, he ramped things up higher and higher. He pushed for more worship, more adoration, more honor for God. And I watched all of this with open eyes, well, tear stained opened eyes.  People were jumping up and down. Hands were stretched, pushing into the air, reaching out for God to touch. It was pandemonium, chaos. Yet, it was beautiful. And it hit me.

 

I’m thankful that I go to Destiny Church. Why? Because at my church, the people, the Pastors, don’t care. Yes, they care that people engage in worship. They care that people grow in grace. But they don’t care how you express yourself in your worship to God. We have had a young man rap on stage. Yesterday, one of our guitarists shredded his guitar in offering praises to God. They don’t care. We jump. We leap. We dance. We shout. We cry. On stage, our Worship Pastor allows us the freedom to prostrate ourselves as we sing. Even people who lead songs have fallen to their knees during their leading. Instrumentalists have stopped playing and just lifted their hands. It’s bedlam. But it’s all for God! We don’t care how we express ourselves to God. We just give what we have to Him, and trust Him to receive it in the spirit in which we offer it. Now, don’t get me wrong. When I say that we don’t care, we understand that there are appropriate ways in the Holy Spirit to express that adoration. We understand that the spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet. We’ve been taught. We have been trained. But anything beyond that, they trust us to go forth in the Spirit. It is this freedom that allows God to completely wreck us in our services, and this is why I believe that so many lives are being changed each week. People are growing, expanding, stretching, and running after God.

 

I’m thankful that the Spirit manifests Himself differently in every life. It shows me that God has such an artistic flair. Services where so much is going on, yet there is harmony gives me a picture of God painting a beautiful picture of what heavenly worship will be like. I’m so thankful for a congregation that is moving towards autonomous worship, a response that just pours forth from their lives when in the presence of God. It is encouraging and empowering. I love it so much.

So, this is what I’m most thankful for this year. I count myself blessed. Thank you, Abba.

 

Until next time, be blessed.