The way we worship

As a worship leader, I think I’m often drawn to scriptures about worship. I like to see how others express their love for God. David, of course, is the best example we have in the Bible. Some know him as the boy who defeated a giant. Others as a king. Some yet a shepherd. I look to him as a singer/songwriter.

As the leader of all of Israel, David could have very easily appointed his worship team and walked away to let them do their thing. I’ve seen many pastors do it (my pastor gives me a lot of leeway in worship, but we still sit down and discuss songs, leadership, and direction on a regular basis). Even worse, I’ve seen many ministers sit in a green room or office during the worship service only to step on stage when it was their time to shine and scurry back to that room once they had delivered their message.

But David took an active role in how Israel worshipped.

That day David first committed to Asaph and his associates this psalm of thanks to the Lord;

1 Chronicles 16:7 (NIV)

Not only did David actively participate in leading worship (not just worshipping from the back of the room), but once the Ark of the Covenant was back with the people, he gave the worship leader the title song for the new album.

Sometimes, I think we can get so caught up with labels and descriptions that we box ourselves in to one small area. We never give ourselves the opportunity to explore other areas—especially in the church. Jesus gave us many examples of ministry, but he never said that one thing was for a certain person while another thing was for another type of person. He did it all. And aren’t we supposed to emulate him in all things?

David redefined what it was to be a leader, mostly because he was a worshipper long before he was ever anointed as king. Showing his love for the Lord was priority number one. That was followed up by showing his family how to love the Lord.

Then all the people left, each for his own home, and David returned home to bless his family.

1 Chronicles 16:43 (NIV)

We were created for worship. Everyone worships someone or something. We don’t have to be taught to do that. But we do have to be taught to worship the right someone. How will anyone ever learn to worship God if they never see the people closest to them worship themselves? As leaders, as believers, as children of God, we are the ones who will show everyone else who and how to worship. We must be worshippers of God before we can be anything else for God.

Read: 1 Chronicles 14-16, John 9:24-41

Sing!

Then you will sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, making music to the Lord in your hearts. And you will always give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 5:19-20 (NLT)

When I was a kid and my mom would still send me off to school, she’d stand on the front step and holler out a song title at my sister and I. She would then stand on the step until she could hear us singing the song as we walked down the street.

More often than not, that song would stay with us throughout the day and we’d come home singing choruses like This is the Day or Celebrate Jesus (it was the nineties, have a little grace).

Mom was on to something. Her intent was to send us off to school with the presence of the Holy Spirit. Now, more than 20 years later, I’m still asking God to give me songs to sing while I work. When I’m alone in an room with great acoustics, why wouldn’t I sing? And if someone else walks in the room and hears me praising God while I work, what does that matter?

Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs aren’t just things to do to fill the silence, but they are a byproduct of being filled with the Holy Spirit and allowing him to control our lives. Verse 19 is preceded by this:

Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you.

Ephesians 5:18b (NLT)

Then you will sing...

If you’ve got the Holy Spirit, don’t be afraid to sing the songs he puts in your heart. Even if you can’t sing. My dad always says that God told us to make a joyful noise. He never said it had to be on key.

So sing!

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 27-28, Ephesians 5

One more reason

Since reading Ecclesiastes 5 several weeks ago, my outlook on work has changed. And not just a little bit, but drastically. To help you understand, allow me to explain my current work situation.

Some friends of mine from church own a cleaning business. Work started to get a little crazy, so they brought me on to help them out. Do I love to clean? Not at all. Ask my mother. But it’s a job with a paycheque and the whole starving artist thing can only work for so long.

We clean new construction only. Meaning we get new houses and apartments ready to be moved into after the build is complete. Our current contract can be explained as less than ideal. We’re working on the second of what will be a three building apartment complex. The first building is complete and occupied. The building we are in is supposed to be occupied in a couple of weeks. The roof was two months late getting on and, as a result, every other trade has been pushed back. But in an effort to maintain the move-in dates, everyone is working at the same time. Drywallers are tripping over painters who are working over carpet installers who are working around guys pouring concrete who are working beside men trying to finish the siding. I think you get the picture. It’s a gong show.

No one on site is really happy about the situation. Myself included. I’m the peon on site. The lowliest of all the trades. It’s my job to clean up the mess everyone else left behind. Almost every day, I hear from another trade that I shouldn’t be there. I know that and they know that, but I’m trying to do my job just like they are. I could very easily take offense. I could very easily allow the situation to frustrate me and get me down. But since reading Ecclesiastes 5:19, it all rolls off.

And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—that is indeed a gift from God.

Ecclesiastes 5:19 (NLT)

I don’t take for granted this incredible gift that God has given me. Every day I walk on to the job site with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. (Most days those songs come out of my mouth, too—I’m pretty sure the site supervisor was laughing at me yesterday when he caught me singing to myself rather loudly.)

I’ve said all that to say this, God has given us so many reasons to praise Him. I praise Him daily because He has given me an inexplicable gift of joy that allows me to enjoy my work in what can be a rather hostile environment. And the reasons to praise Him keep on coming.

The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us everything he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. This is just one more reason for us to praise our glorious God.

Ephesians 1:14 (NLT)

After all that God has done for us, He sent His Spirit as a guarantee that He will do all He has promised. I guess I have just one more reason… to praise our glorious God today! What’s your reason?

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 16-18, Ephesians 1

Badge of burden

As human beings, most of us are pretty good at amassing cares and burdens. We gather them like a scout collects badges and wear them proudly as though carrying such a heavy load makes us more godly. It doesn’t.

Give your burdens to the Lord,
and he will take care of you.
He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.

Psalm 55:22 (NLT)

This verse reminds me of a song from my childhood. If you grew up in church in North America, you may have had the opportunity to get to know Psalty the Singing Songbook. He was pretty cool back in the day. Now he’s moderately terrifying. But in one episode of Kid’s Praise, there are a couple of campers who have become lost in the woods at night (45:45 in the video). Instead of panicking, they break out into song. Who wouldn’t? The amazing thing is, a lot of those little songs I learned as a kid still stick with me as an adult. This one still goes through my head when I find myself under the weight of cares of collected.

I cast all my cares upon You
I lay all of my burdens
Down at Your feet
And any time
I don’t know
What to do
I will cast all my cares upon You

We weren’t created to be beasts of burden. We were created to a have a dependence on God. He is more than willing to carry those things that are too heavy for us. He wants to. But we have to let Him.

Again, it comes down to humility. We need to admit that what we carry is to much for us. There is no shame in that.

My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)

In the same chapter, Paul goes on to say, for when I am weak, then I am strong. God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. Even though popular culture would spurn the idea of admitting weakness, that is exactly where we are at our strongest.

But God is my helper.
The Lord is the one who keeps me alive!

Psalm 54:4 (NLT)

When we, like the lost campers, cast our cares on God and lay our burdens at His feet, we make room for His strength to shine through. The load is lifted and we can live life the way we were meant to live it—with a complete dependence on our Creator, free from heavy burdens.

So take off your badge of burden. Give it to the Lord. He is your helper. He will take care of you.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 53-55, Acts 27:16-44

Turn on

I can safely say, on the authority of all that is revealed in the Word of God, that any man or woman on this earth who is bored and turned off by worship is not ready for heaven.

A.W. Tozer

I can guarantee that I’m not the only worship leader who often steps off the stage feeling discouraged by the numerous people sipping coffee, checking their phones or wandering in when the last song is winding down.

It’s a cultural thing, I’ve heard. Whose culture? Not ours. Our culture has no problem whatsoever worshipping whether it be celebrities, sports teams, video games, or new phone apps. When more attention is given to the fact that the barista got your coffee wrong than seeking the presence of God, a giant warning light should go off.

With them were Heman and Jeduthun and the rest of those chosen and expressly named to give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever.

1 Chronicles 16:41 (ESV)

When King David brought the ark of the covenant back into Jerusalem, he chose a worship team and gave them a permanent position at the tent. He picked the best musicians and singers for the job. Why? So he could have the coolest sounding band in town? No. Because God’s steadfast love endures forever. David picked the best so that they could give God the best simply because He deserves it.

David went so far as to trade his royal robes for those of a priest as he ushered the ark into the city. He gave worship a greater place than his status as king.

I believe that in public worship we should do well to be bound by no human rules, and constrained by no stereotyped order.

Charles Spurgeon

Corporate worship is a regular gracious reminder that it’s not about you. You’ve been born into a life that is a celebration of another.

Paul David Tripp

I could list quote after quote from the Bible and great men and women of faith both current and those who have gone before us. There is a great truth to all of it – worship is not about us and how we feel (comfortable or not). Worship is our response to who God is and who we are in light of Him.

Surely that which occupies the total time and energies of heaven must be a fitting pattern for earth.

Paul E. Billheimer

Daily Bible reading: 1 Chronicles 14-16; John 9:24-41