There’s an old adage that we’d do well to follow. It is: “Say what you mean, and mean what you say.” After all, God does. To question the Lord’s intentions, or doubt His accuracy or truthfulness is to be of a devilish mindset (Genesis 3:1,4). But to always speak truthfully, and that includes speaking with complete accuracy with regards to spiritual reality, is contrary to our fallen human nature (Isaiah 6:5), and we need to be aware of that battlefront.
I recently heard someone say, “Third time’s the charm.” Not for Christians! Instead of mindlessly agreeing with that saying, we need to realize that our faithful God, who is “working in us that which is pleasing in His sight” (Heb 13:21), patiently and repeatedly prompts us to keep trying until we get things right, or learn to persevere! The reality is there is no such thing as ‘luck’ (‘good’ or ‘bad’!), ‘fortune,’ ‘mis-fortune’ or ‘chance’ (in the mystical sense of those words), (magic) ‘charms’, etc., for those who truly believe in an almighty, sovereign God, so we need to be very careful how we use those words. Don’t they make us sound like the world? Charms, luck, chance, etc., are part of the vocabulary of superstition, witchcraft, and paganism – denying the reality and power of God. “ ‘But I say to you that for every idle (or careless) word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.’ ” (Matthew 12:36,37) Jesus said that. Do you think He means it? “God is not a man, that He should lie, … has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19) He also warned: “Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.” (Luke 12:2,3) While these verses certainly pertain to gossip and other types of wicked speech, they can also be applied to words spoken carelessly or in ignorance, which are contrary to the reality of our salvation. God knows everything we say and even think (Psalm 139:4), and He is fully aware of our lack of comprehension (darkness) behind too much of it.
“So what’s the big deal?” you might ask. “They’re only words; they’re harmless.” Are they? Proverbs 18:21 declares: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue,” and James warns us about its use and misuse (James 3:1-10). We don’t really comprehend the power of words or their effect in the spiritual realm. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes out from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11) Remember, God uses ordinary people to speak His word so that He alone will receive the glory for the extraordinary results (2 Corinthians 4:7). Remember also that our God spoke the universe into existence out of nothing (Psalm 33:9)! That’s POWER!Read more...
I once heard about a conversation that happened after a Sunday morning service. One person complained that the worship band was terrible. His friend reminded Him that the worship wasn’t for him, it was for God! Sometimes we forget that.
We all come into the Church community with a culture, a context, a history, and a background of personal preferences. And with a mix of all of those, we have our own worship prejudices. We have an opinion on the songs that are sung, the number of words in those songs, the familiarity or lack of melody, and of course the ever-popular “volume” issue. It’s too loud or it’s too soft! Some like piano music, a solo acoustic guitar, or the full onslaught of a big rocking band with guitars-a-blazing!
Depending on your own Church history, tradition, culture, and context, we all have “comfort zones.” We all have personal preferences that help us connect with the Lord and express adoration of our great God through the songs we sing. I have the great privilege of having many seasoned saints who have tracked a lot of time with Jesus, encourage me and express their joy when we sing the hymns. I also have many people who comment that they appreciate the new music we are doing that is currently being shared in and through Church communities across the country.
The tension among a congregation between singing the “oldies” and reaching forward with new songs from this generation continues today. Some churches even split over opinions and preferences when it comes to worship music. We, by God’s grace, at Koinonia have a very loving and gracious flock that spans a broad spectrum of Church tradition. I am so thankful for that! The older saints often like the memorable and familiar hymns while the younger generation connects with songs rooted in different ethnic and modern expressions. And then there is every opinion in between.
The reality is that much of what we currently call “contemporary” worship is actually, from a cultural aspect, about 15 year old! If we truly wanted to have music that was “contemporary,” we would have a techno-urban, bass-booming, rap-laced worship service. For some that would be heaven, for some it would be hell. Regardless of our culture, our context, or our comfort zones, worship is not about you or me! It’s all about Jesus! His glory, His faithfulness, His truth, His might, His salvation, His heaven, His judgments, His righteousness, His blood, His cross, and His worth! (Revelation 4:11)
Let’s call a “truce” if you’ve taken up arms in the worship war. Maybe you come to church late just to miss the worship; maybe you endure worship just to get to the preaching part of the service; or maybe you just stand during worship with arms folded.
Please remember that we sing because it’s Biblical - read Psalms; and our expressions are the response to God’s goodness and amazing grace that has been given to us, Psalm 13:6. We sing to an audience of One, the Lord Jesus Christ, Revelation 5:9. We sing regardless of the quality of the band or the lack of skill. (Though it is harder when you are distracted by those practical things.)
Finally I’d say that suggestions are helpful, but prayer for the worship ministry and the leading and enabling of God’s Spirit in and through these offerings is the best partnership a ministry and a flock can have. As we gather, let’s all behold the glory of God; let’s sing with triumphant adoration on the victory Jesus has won and proclaim Him King over heaven, earth, hell, and the world to come!