From The Mud Puddle

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

I read a lot of different things here and there all over the web as well as offline. I listen as people speak and I hear a lot of the topics that are probably considered "hot", and what folks think about them. Most definately one of these is "Worship". Worship to our Lord, God of Abraham and Jacob and Issac, The King of Kings, Lord of Lords, The great "I AM".

I can think back to the days when I was a child, growing up in the Southen Baptist Church I attended with my family. I remember the singing of hymns. There were always three (unless it was a Sunday night hymn sing). Sometime in there, our worship leader decided to add some choruses. Between a song that declared we are all a part of the family of God, to the Doxology, these were sung mainly before the second hymn, which came always directly before the morning offering collection.

As we moved to other churches, we found some never singing such choruses,sticking ONLY to hymns, while yet others were open somewhat to a few more contemporary lines. Mainly the contemporary praise was reserved for youth meetings...retreats, or weekly get togethers.

None of this was anything like todays contemporary worship movement though. Through the past 10-15 years, we have witnessed a growing rise in churches using contemporary worship as a replacement for the traditional "hymn sing". Now I know that churches long have used "contemporary song", especially as many of the different hymns we know now were once in that catagory. I know that back in the late 60's there was much being started where this is concerned, but mainly....the overall acceptance of it in the traditional Sunday morning service was rare, if used at all until more recent years.

Now we see wars...wars over what to sing...traditional hymns or contemporary worship song...hymnals on every pew, or words flashed upon a screen giving everyone a chance to look up and sing with the worship band. We've seen a rise in the use of non traditional instruments in the morning services, oftentime totally replacing the traditional sounds of the piano and organ ...fully loaded with pipes on the walls, adding to it's magestic appearance.

We see wars over what is the proper way to worship, and what songs are the right songs to well as a judgement of songs being too shallow, or songs being too stuffy. Brothers and Sister's in the Lord are tearing each other apart because of critism of how the other desires to worship the Lord. Mud is slung, and people are hurt. If our worship was done in true humility for the one that died for us on that rugged cross, rather than to please those of us that claim to be His....there would not be all this battling and struggle. It wouldnt matter what we were singing , as long as it was biblical and offered as an offering of worship and praise to our Heavenly Father.

Where do I stand in this war? I would hope as a peacemaker. I would hope to be a bridge between the two sides...that part of the body that chooses not to war and take sides. I love the old hymns. They are precious to me as they were many of the first songs I knew how to sing about Jesus Christ, our God. They are precious because they are full of truth as they were often written by someone that knows pain, that knows how hard it is here on earth, and the trials we often experience here. But I also love the modern worship songs too. Sometime after the church with all the choruses...we found ourselves at a church that hardly EVER did a hymn. Oh they might acknowledge that they are treasures....but rarely did we sing them. At that time, God was showing me what church was and was not (and still is as I might say )...and this worship was refreshing. It wasnt the songs so much, as it was just that I related to what was sung and it was easy to sing it back to the Lord. It fit who I am better than the hymns did and do. There was an openess found there in the modern worship that was not found by me in the hymns yet.
Sometime after this, at a thrift store, I found an old hymnal and bought it on a whim. I figured I might enjoy having it around from time to time to sing from and maybe to teach my own kids the it didnt appear that they would be learning them as I did growing up.
We later went to a home church for a season...and at that time we still sang very modern worship songs. It often became a very direct time of laying down my burdens as God prepared my heart for His message through the pastor. It was wonderful. It also became a time of healing.
Later, for different reasons, we started attending the church we do now. They sort of mix things up a bit. Usually we sing at least 3 - 4 hymns a month....sometimes more, sometimes less. It still is very much modern worship...and often the hymns are done in a more modern way, appropriate for the instruments used there.
I like the mixture. I dont know why it has to be one or the other...why it cannot be both. I also like much of what is being written where worship is concerned right now. I will not critique it as it is generally not something I feel I should trash. The writer did not write it with me in mind, but our Lord Jesus. Even songs like "here I am to worship" or "open the eyes of my heart Lord" have their this too seems to be a part of the "war".
I remember the pastor of the home church we attended some years ago telling us about his thoughts on worship music..and how he didnt sometimes "feel" what the song was singing, and so the song became a prayer instead. I often wonder if some of the songs that sing about "here I am to worship" or "here I am God", etc...might be songs of prayers as one opens their heart up to God as they come into the Holy of Holies, ready and waiting for the Holy Spirit to soften and speak to our hearts thereafter. As we praise, our hearts are softened and readied as God dwells in our praise. So to say "here I am to worship", might just be another way of beginning a conversation and praise of God later entering into praise songs or hymns that convey deeper truths, as they take us onto holy ground.
Even the hymns are not immune to these sort of declarations of our devotion and love. Right offhand, "Just as I am", comes to mind. Another is "I am thine oh Lord", that sings about desiring God to draw us nearer to Himself. Or, "Be Thou My Vision".
If all of our lives are worship, played and lived in surrender to Jesus...then it is very appropriate for us to declare to the whole world, whom we shall serve. It is appropriate for us to approach the throne of mercy and grace boldly announcing from our hearts that we ARE here to worship and that we are open and yeilded to our Lord, Christ Jesus , bowing our hearts and heads in reverance and adoration.
It's not just a Sunday morning thing, its a life thing. Our worship, whether at home or in the local fellowship we are a part of is important to God. It is Him who puts the song in our heart that He wants us to sing and dance . It is Him who we adore and Love. It is Him who we proclaim our allegance. Even Joshua felt it important that the declaration be made as he asks and states in Joshua 24:14-15
"So honor the LORD and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD alone. But if you are unwilling to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD."
May our worship, whether corporate or personal, be the fragrance of we practice for eternity to bring glory and honor to Jesus, our Lord.

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