Monday, April 28, 2014

When Worship Is Worthless

Here is a blog that I read several months ago by Ben Giselbach. I wanted to share it because it really spoke to me about worship and how it is not an end to itself. You can read more of his blogs at


When Worship Is Worthless

by Ben on June 5, 2013 in Worship

Brother Johnson comes to church every Sunday and hasn’t missed a service for the past 50 years. Yet, he is very materialistic and is stingy in his contribution to the Church. He usually comes to the midweek Bible study, too, unless he hears about an estate auction he wants to attend.

Brother Williams, in addition to being a faithful church attendee, is recognized as an avid student of the Bible. He prays and has devotionals with his wife and children every night. But he’s insensitive, cold-hearted, and has reputation for having a short fuse if anyone, especially a family member, angers him.

Sister Smith looks forward to church all week long. She wouldn’t dream of missing a service. And boy does she enjoy those old Gospel hymns! But everyone knows she is a constant gossiper. Several have been deeply hurt by her vicious words.

What’s wrong with these pictures? How can some Christians be so religious – both publicly and privately – while being so unlike Christ?

The problem with these Christians is this: their worship has become an end in itself. They are no different from the ancient Jewish leaders who loved to worship and tithe “mint and dill and cumin” (Matt. 23:23). They are very religious, but are far from holy. They have forgotten the very things worship is supposed to cultivate in the heart: justice, mercy, faith, and humility (Matt. 23:23; Luke 18:13). God rejects their worship, just as He rejected the worship of the hypocritical Jews (Amos 5:21-24; Micah 6:6-8). Though they are religious, their hearts are far from Christ (Matt. 15:8). Their worship is worthless.

Many are under the illusion that worship is what makes them Christians. And thus they go to church, week after week, year after year, unchanged and unaffected. They realize, after all, that Christians have the obligation to be faithful in attendance (Heb. 10:24-25). But they leave the church building with the same self-centeredness, indifference, pride, and materialistic mindset they had when they entered.

Are you suffering from this spiritual disease? Note some of the symptoms:

1. Inconsistency. Many compartmentalize their beliefs and habits. They fail to put to practice what they say and teach. For example, some worship God in song and prayer on Sunday, but turn around and gossip about their fellow man (cf. Jas. 3:9). Some feel very strongly about attending church and engaging in the Lord’s Supper with the brethren (cf. 1 Cor. 11:17-33), but immediately after service deal harshly their family.

2. A ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude. Do you feel like you have God’s favor because you regularly attend worship or because you regularly read your Bible? Do you compare your faith to others instead of God’s Word (Jas. 1:22-25)? If so, you’re no different than the Pharisee in Luke 18:9-12 who “treated others with contempt.”

3. Misplaced confidence in worship. Are you dishonest, lazy, and materialistic? Do you acknowledge these things, but justify them by saying, “I know I sin, but at least I worship regularly”? Some wink at their sin because they have fooled themselves into thinking that their worship “covers a multitude of sins.” Never mind about “walking in the light,” they think, so long as they are “walking to church.”

When worship becomes an end in itself, worship is vain. We may be worshipping correctly, but we are not worshipping “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). True worship should do something to us. It should make us different people. “As He Who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1 Pet. 1:15). True worship should always lead us to holy living.

What are some ways to help people who are suffering from this spiritual disease?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Pulling Out All the Stops

Easter has come and gone again this year and I hope that you had a wonderful Resurrection Sunday wherever you attend church.  We certainly did at MPBC.  We had the largest crowd that we've ever had for a Sunday service or any other event.  And because it was Easter, I planned a little bit extra.  We pulled out all the stops.  We did some of the church's favorite songs.  We did some of our biggest and best songs.  We used Environmental Projection (where we project videos on the entire front wall).  We used dry ice.  We had Jesus come out of the tomb as One Hope (quartet) sang "Arise, My Love".  We did anything and everything I could think of.  And people really seemed to like it.  I truly believe people worshiped and experienced the presence of God.

But afterwards, I started thinking to myself, "Shouldn't every Sunday be like Easter?"  Is there a reason that I plan bigger and better for Easter Sunday than I do any other Sunday of the year?  I know that it's our one shot to reach some of the people who will attend because they only come on Easter and Christmas.  But is that right?  Shouldn't I treat every Sunday like Easter?  Jesus is worthy of our praise and He is worthy of our best.  And so, I'm going to do my best to be more creative in my worship planning, because every Sunday should look and feel like Easter.  The tomb is empty every Sunday! 

But I don't believe this just applies to me and my planning.  This concept applies to every worshiper.  Jesus is ALIVE!  That isn't something that we should just celebrate one Sunday a year.  This is something we should celebrate every time we join together with other believers to worship.  So, as we continue throughout the year, moving from one Sunday to the next, don't let your enthusiasm for what Jesus has done and who He is, waver.  Remember:



Monday, April 14, 2014

A Lifestyle of Worship Beyond Sunday Morning


The first thing I think of when I hear that word is a church setting where people are singing, clapping, and hands are lifted. As the title says worship is something that can be done beyond Sunday morning during the worship time. For me I tend to think that worship has to be planned, but it doesn't.

Just like the verse in 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” everything we do is to bring glory to God. We worship all of the time without even knowing it. A way that I worship the most is by singing. I sing ALL of the time... Ask my family and they will tell you that it's the truth. Sometimes I will sing a worship song that I like or an old hymn while I'm doing something during the day. I never really think of it as worship, but it is worship.

The other night I was driving home from somewhere alone and as I came to the top of a hill I got to see a beautiful sunset. The song "Oceans" was playing on the radio at the time and I sang it with all of my heart as I watched the sun sink behind the mountains. When the song ended I remember thinking that I had just worshiped. I hadn't made specific plans or decided that that was going to be my worship time for the day. It had just happened.

Constantly being in a state of worship is important. It's so easy to leave church on Sunday and go back to our crazy and hectic lives and not even think during the week to worship the Lord. If you think about it it's pretty easy to worship in church. In that environment we are encouraged and even expected to worship and so we do. What about at home? Or at school or work? I honestly think that is where worship is extremely important and needed.

When we are in church we are being filled up with the Holy Spirit and so it is easy to sing, clap, and lift our hands, but during the weekdays when things are tougher, busier, and we are doing our own little thing worship is important also. Worship is many different things and can be done in many different ways. Not just by singing, praying, or reading the bible. It can be lending a hand to someone in need or sharing a word of encouragement to someone in your circle of influence. Worship is a powerful thing. If we practice it throughout our day it can help us see through Godly eyes and that will lead people to be able to see God in an evident way in us.

I know people who are constantly in a state of worship. You can just tell. There is something special about them and there is a certain type of peace. You can see that it isn't some grueling and conscious effort, but that it's just a subtle ongoing walk with God throughout their entire day. I am working on making worship a bigger part of my daily life. It will help me grow in my relationship with the Lord and I know that it will make my outlook on things so much better. I think that if we all made worship a conscious effort throughout our day that it will become a lifestyle.

This week my goal is to keep worshipping even after I have put down my microphone and left the stage on Sunday morning. I hope that everyone has a great and worshipful week! :)


Monday, April 7, 2014

In Spirit and In Truth

As a worship leader, I often think about worship and what is included in it.  I think about music, the act of worship, and what we bring to God in worship. But something new I've thought about lately is how we worship. When I say 'how' we worship, I don't just mean what we do in worship as an act, but what we do in worship at it's very core.  

Usually, when I hear worship talked about, it's usually either a debate about it or someone speaking of a particular way we must worship.  Instead, I want to look at it in a different light.  In our modern day, when worship is mentioned, most may think about a music setting.  Does something like this come to mind?  

Maybe so.  We often imagine a congregation with lifted hands singing with the worship team.  That's right on the money.  It's a wonderful time of intimacy with the Lord, but what exactly are we doing when we raise our hands and sing out?   Have you ever thought that God seeks a certain kind of worshiper? 

In my own studies, I've just finished Luke and began the book of John.  Like I said before, I've been thinking about this idea of worship for some time. In my study, I came to John chapter 4 where Jesus talks with the Samaritan woman.  This is a wonderful conversation between Jesus and the woman.  They cover many topics, but one in particular answered my questions on how we worship at it's core.  And that answer is: In spirit and in truth.  Let me explain; here is the scripture:

"But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him."  John 4:23

To let you know the relevant part of the conversation thus far, there was a debate between Jesus and this woman regarding the proper location for worship.  The Samaritans believed it was on Mt Gerizim (where Abraham and Jacob had built altars; and near where this conversation was taking place) and the Jews believed it was in the temple.  Do you remember earlier in the post how I said that we can get caught up in what the proper way to worship is?  The debate between her and Jesus reminds me of that.  Jesus tells her that there is coming a time when you will worship neither on the mountain or the temple, but in Spirit and in Truth.  See, the physical location of worship and our specific act of worship may be irrelevant.  God desires the worshiper who comes to Him in spirit and truth.  Someone who is worshiping to be closer with Him, to have an experience and not to merely keep some sort of religious standard.  We should enter into worship with the expectation of meeting with God.  Worship is not a lifestyle, it should be intentional.  Sometimes in our everyday lives, we get caught up in the day to day, not always thinking of how we can become closer or attempting to do so.  This is why worship should be intentional.  It is a time of wanting God more, a time to worship who He is, which is Truth and a time to rejoice in the Spirit.  

For me, this sheds a new light on worship and our intentions behind it.  Instead of wondering where or what act we do in worship, let's put that focus towards knowing that Jesus desires our worship in Him.  He doesn't desire that you bring anything to the table.  After all, isn't our righteousness as filthy rags?  He just desires you, and your whole heart. 



Wednesday, April 2, 2014

My Favorite Part of the Week

Every week, there is one part of the week that I look forward to more than any other time.  Now, considering that I work at a church and serve as the Worship Pastor, most people would assume that it would be Sunday mornings.  But, they would be wrong.  While I enjoy having the church family gathered together singing and praising God, it is not my favorite time of the week.  My favorite time of each week occurs between 8:30-10 p.m. on Wednesday nights.  That is when we have Praise Team/Band Rehearsal.

When we get together for rehearsal, there isn't the pressure of getting everything perfect like you feel on Sunday mornings.  We make mistakes.  We don't always stay on our little orange "X's" that show where we need to stand so we can be lit correctly.  Sometimes we play or sing the wrong notes.  We laugh a lot and don't always accomplish as much as we should.  But we do work on new songs and songs for the upcoming services.  And hopefully, we have a good time doing it.

But more importantly for me, I get to spend time with my friends praising and worshiping God in an environment where we can truly be ourselves.  No facades, just brothers and sisters in Christ getting to fellowship together through music.  It's hard to explain, but there is just something special about that time.  And while I know that not everyone gets to serve on the worship team at their church, I do hope that everyone can be involved with a small group at their church that fills this need that we all have.  The need to connect with others.  And maybe that's why Wednesday night from 8:30-10 p.m. is my favorite part of the week.  Because I get to do the thing I enjoy the most (music) with some of the people (outside of my family) that I am closest to in life.  

Worship Big!