After the Worship Conference – Sept. 3

Posted on 03. Sep, 2010 by in The Body, The Purpose of God

Like I said in yesterday’s post, since attending the conference there is something stirring on the inside of me.  As stated, I haven’t fully processed all of it to know exactly where He is leading me or showing me.  What I do understand is that there is an even greater purpose than becoming like Christ.  We are certainly to grow into maturity in Christ, but as we do that, what changes?  Once we are matured in Christ, and have achieved the fulness of Him, what happens then?

I now more clearly understand that God has a purpose in the earth.  I have mentally assented this point for some time, and understood it in a limited fashion in my spirit for a shorter period of time.  Now, however, I more fully see that there is a grand plan.  On the cross Jesus secured His victory over the enemy.  The whole world legally belongs to Christ, but for whatever reason He has allowed Satan to maintain control.  I can not give chapter and verse at this point, but I believe He has done this, because he wants to work out that victory in the earth through us.  He has chosen to use us in His master plan, only we haven’t cooperated.  We’ve been too busy playing church to get busy with the work of the kingdom.  From Paul’s writing I believe he thought that the end of this age would come in his lifetime, or shortly after.  I do not think he anticipated it taking 2000 plus years, and I don’t think it needs to have taken this long.  Satan is cunning, however, and has consistently thwarted the plans of God, and we, God’s instrument on the earth, have let him.  I see through this how very patient God is.  He could’ve wrapped this thing up Himself, but he had chosen, from the foundation of the earth, to use us in His eternal purpose, to bring about the defeat of the enemy.  It is time for the church, the body of Christ, to get SERIOUS about our place in the kingdom.  It is time that we let the trappings of this life fall to the side, and focus our minds and hearts fully on Him.  2 Chronicles 16:9 says:

“For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”

Psalm 149 says:

1Praise the LORD!
Sing to the LORD a new song,
And His praise in the congregation of the godly ones.
2Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
Let the sons of Zion rejoice in their King.
3Let them praise His name with dancing;
Let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and lyre.
4For the LORD takes pleasure in His people;
He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.
5Let the godly ones exult in glory;
Let them sing for joy on their beds.
6Let the high praises of God be in their mouth,
And a two-edged sword in their hand,
7To execute vengeance on the nations
And punishment on the peoples,
8To bind their kings with chains
And their nobles with fetters of iron,
9To execute on them the judgment written;
This is an honor for all His godly ones.

Praise the LORD!

I do not believe that the nations mentioned in this Psalm are physical nations.  Ephesians 6:10-12 makes it clear who our enemies are.  I think we need to see this more as a war, and in Ephesians 6 Paul seems to treat it as such.

I am speaking to myself in this post.  There is so much in Him that we don’t understand, and I think part of the problem is that we don’t see the big picture.  We need to understand that God has a purpose in the earth, and the ultimate purpose is to supplant the kingdom of Satan with the Kingdom of God.  The more I see the truth of His ultimate purpose, the less this world means to me, and the more willing I am to forsake all and follow Him.  It really is THAT simple, if we can just see it!

So, here’s the summary of all my thoughts for these two posts.  We need to practice a model of mutual edification in the body, as we’ve discussed before.  We have to go beyond that, however, and commit ourselves fully to His purposes, being willing to give up all we have to see that purpose accomplished.  I am not implying that I have arrived in this respect, because I have not.  However, I believe that the more we die to ourselves, and allow His purposes to reign in our lives, the more we will accomplish towards His purposes, and the closer we will be to the end of the age.  As one brother said at the end of the conference, “Let’s get this thing wrapped up!”  We can’t do it apart from Christ, but Christ has chosen NOT to do it apart from us!  The ball is in our court, I believe.

As always, I welcome comments or criticisms of my thoughts here.  I do not claim to have it all figured out, and I find definite value in what the Lord is showing others.  Thanks to Alan and Dan for their active questioning, as these two posts mentioned previously sparked some of this in my heart.

Peace to all of you


After the Worship Conference – Sept. 2

Posted on 02. Sep, 2010 by in The Purpose of God, Worship

A lot has been going through my mind since attending the worship conference.  It is interesting to look back at the notes that I took, and the things that I learned, and realize that the impact of the experience goes way beyond the sum total of all I learned there.  There was a very specific impartation there, which has put my mind to thinking in a different manner.  I feel that in the next month or two I will come to some new understanding on things, compared to how I see now, and that is why I am putting a date on this post title.  I believe the impact of that will be far-reaching, and want to reserve the right to return to that at any point!

I want to give links to the first two posts regarding the conference.  For some reason the Day 2 post had a pretty high readership, but either no one, or virtually no one, read the first post, or at least as far as I can tell.  There were some thoughts in the first post that were ground-breaking for me, so I wanted to share both links again, in case anyone missed the first one.

Worship Is Death

Worship Conference Day 2

After attending this conference, two blog posts I read have continued the process of rethinking in my mind.  I want to provide links, and encourage everyone to read these posts.  They are not long, but they speak to the questions that are in my mind.

Stirring Up | The Ekklesia in Southern Maine.

The Purpose of Participation | The Assembling of the Church.

So, here’s the situation.  I’ve been a vocal proponent of participatory style meetings, and very critical of traditional church models.  I still believe that the New Testament model is participatory, and that a single pastorate system is unbiblical, and harmful to the maturity of the body.  But, as pointed out by Alan and Dan in the above posts, just attending participatory meetings doesn’t guarantee that the end result will be any different than in the system we just left.  My concern for this movement, if you want to call it that, is that we will recreate a system, and never achieve the maturity of the body described in Ephesians 4.  Like Alan said, the goal is to become like Christ, or to literally become His body and bride, fully matured.  Will meeting in a circle instead of in rows with a pulpit bring that about?  Unfortunately, in and of itself, no.  The question I now pose, after reading these posts, is what do we do IN these meetings that brings maturity?  Certainly Hebrews 10:24-25 gives some insight, stating that we are to consider one another to stir up love and good works, which I interpret to mean we are to esteem others higher than ourselves, and care more for their needs than for our own.  But I am not sure that this even gives the whole picture.

I have further thoughts on this, but I fear things will get too lengthy.  I’m going to stop here and finish my thoughts tomorrow.

Worship Conference Day 2

Posted on 29. Aug, 2010 by in Worship

Today was day two of the worship conference.  We had some nice acoustic worship in the morning, with a more contemporary service this evening.  I have an eclectic selection of things to share tonight, but hopefully everything will tie together in the end!

Praise and worship has always, or at least always as long as I’ve been alive, played a prominent role in the average church service.  Some congregations still sing hymns only, some are into the latest and greatest new material, and others are somewhere in between.  No matter the genre of music played, I think there has been a general misunderstanding of the purpose and function of praise and worship in the church today.  Usually the music is seen as a prelude to the rest of the service, an introduction so to speak, maybe a means to prepare hearts to receive the message brought by the pastor.  Often times, in our time-pressed society, the music is limited to a specific time period, because “the show must go on”.  All of these views miss the true purpose of worship.

Why Do We Worship?

  1. Worship is partially vertical, between us and God.  It is us ministering to God, and God ministering to us.  As a part of this point, I want to take a little rabbit trail.  One of the speakers today was a Rodney DuCroq.  Rodney, like the other speakers for the conference, has an extensive background in leading worship, and he spoke on the 4 Faces of Worship, based on Revelations 4:7.  He taught the following regarding the 4 Beasts, and the seasons of worship they represent:
    1. The Ox (or calf)  The ox was a beast of burden, so the ox represents labor.  This is labor intensive worship, for the purpose of accomplishing things in the spirit that need to be accomplished.  This often times deals with breaking hard ground, like plowing a field that has never been plowed.  The ox also represents sacrifice, as in a sacrifice of praise.  This goes back to what I wrote about yesterday, that worship often involves dying to self, to bring about obedience to Christ.  We subjugate our own desires to accomplish His.
    2. The Man – this represents God ministering to man, as well as man ministering to man.  God wants to minister to us, so in this respect worship is vertical.  Ephesians 5:26 describes Jesus sanctifying His bride, “by the washing of water with the word”.  We need to view worship as a two way street.  We bring praise and worship to Him, but He also uses the experience to speak things into the world, either into our personal lives, or to speak things into the world that He is wanting to do.
    3. The Eagle – The eagle has great sight.  He can see for great distances, and God wants us to have His sight, His vision, concerning where we are in His grand plan.
    4. The Lion – The lion seems to represent victory, a season of praise where the people of God are exuberant in their worship, celebrating the greatness of  God.
  2. As stated above, we worship to minister to one another.  Usually in the church today, and this is true of my past worship experiences, we get into the worship service, and form our own little  ‘worship cocoon’.  We are totally focused on God, and see nothing of those around us.  God wants us to minister to one another  in our praise and worship.  Three verses bear this out.
    1. Ephesians 5:15-19 – speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, etc.
    2. Colossians 3:12-16 – teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns, etc.

Why should we want to minister to one another?  Because each of us has a representation of Christ that is unique on the earth.  If I am only receiving the part of Christ that is in the worship team, I am missing out on the parts of Christ that are in the rest of the body.   We’ve discussed this issue extensively in the blogosphere as it pertains to our meetings at large, but I believe, as was shared at the conference, that this same principle applies in our worship as well.

3.  We should not be relying on the music team to lead all the worship.  In 1 Corinthians 14:26, each one had a psalm, a hymn or a spiritual song, etc.  We are all responsible to minister to one another.

4.  Worship and music are not synonymous.  Worship can be done in the context of music, but not all music represents true worship.  True worship should be an extension of a life that is lived continuously in worship of Him.

Finally, Douglas made the following point:  “”If your worship is not built into the greater context of God’s eternal purpose it lacks the ability to impact the earth.”  In other words, if we are not continually seeking to know His purposes on the earth, both seasonal and eternal, our worship will just be music sung in unison.  If we want to see our worship become truly powerful and life-changing, we must worship, again, in the context of His purposes.

So, in short form, we need to see our worship as a life-changing and world-changing interaction, between God and man, and between man and man.  It is an important ministry in and of itself, not just an intro to some other, more important thing.

Unfortunately, this is new enough information for me that I can’t provide the biblical references for all the points that were made.  If you have specific questions regarding this, please feel free to comment ad I’ll get more details.  There are probably important details I’ve left out, but if I think of other things I’ve left out or mis-stated I’ll post again later.

Worship Is Death

Posted on 27. Aug, 2010 by in Worship

This weekend my wife and I are in Wichita, KS, attending a worship conference put on by my dear brother Douglas Weaver.  Tonight we had a good music/worship session, followed by some teaching by a brother named Ian Chellan (I am not sure I spelled his name right).  I thought he made some very good points, and I wanted to share them while they are still fresh in my mind.  (Part 2 on Faith will follow next week)

He talked about Genesis 22, where the word “worship” is used for the first time.

“Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you.”   Genesis 22:5

Worship here is associated with death.  In this case, Abraham’s act of worship was to obey God and sacrifice his son.  In this situation I see two points, which are really interconnected:

  1. True worship brings about death in us, death to ourselves, death to our flesh.  Like Paul talked about dying daily, true worship is something we live in every day, and is part of our lifestyle.  More on this in a second.
  2. Worship is obedience.  This is connected to #1, because obedience to God results in, or comes from, dying to ourselves.

Ian also stated something like the following (paraphrased by me):  “If singing a song brings you into the presence of the Lord, why are you out of His presence in the first place?”  What I take from this is that our lives are a continual process of worshipping Him.  He is worshipped in how we live, how we treat our families and those around us, and when we make decisions to resist temptation and do His will instead of our own.  Then, after having lived in that attitude and lifestyle of worship all the time, when we come together as a body we are expressing that worship in a unified voice.   So, true worship, in the form we have always seen it (where we sing before the Lord) is really an outflowing of what we are already doing the rest of the week.

Ian pointed out that our purpose as the body is not to bring about manifestations of the Spirit, or to experience being “in the presence of the Lord”.  Our purpose as the body is simple:  to be like Christ.  Multiple scriptures testify to this.  Ephesians 4:11-13, 2 Corinthians 3:18, 1 Corinthians 2:2, etc.  1 John also talks a lot about the central importance of Christ, and how we are to be like Him (see specifically 1 John 2:6).  The Lord has been stirring this in my heart lately, and Ian’s teaching further expounded and enforced this idea.

Finally, I came to better understand the ultimate purpose of God in the earth:  to bring glory to His name, and to proclaim His greatness to the principalities and powers of the air.

To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ,

and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things;

so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.”

Ephesians 3:8-10

So, as I now understand, our purpose on this earth is first to be like Christ.  Then, once like Christ, then what?  We are to live out on the earth the fulness of His victory over the enemy.  We are to carry out, on a spiritual plane, the battle in which the Kingdom of our God will supplant the kingdom of this world (notice that this removes all focus from nationalistic agendas, and only the Kingdom of God remains, as this victory is not being won on a political/natural level).  One other interesting point, along this line, is that our  victory on the spiritual plane may look like defeat in the natural realm.  Like someone so aptly said elsewhere, “we live in an upside down kingdom”.

OK, I lied.  One last thing.  Ian gave his definition of religion as follows (again, paraphrased):  religion is a move of God that has been dragged past its season”

Well, there will be more tomorrow.  I hope these words bless you as much as they blessed me.