Worship as Refuge
- Wednesday, March 05, 2008
“As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him. For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You give me your shield of victory; you stoop down to make me great. You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn.”
2 Samuel 22:31-37
Is it just me, or are things kind of difficult right now? I mean, global jihad is enough to mess up your day, but what about all the other things you have to deal with right here at home? Kids, work, health issues, money, marriage, keeping the yard looking better than the neighbors – the list is endless of things that have to be managed every day. And then, there’s ministry! If you’re like me, you can feel pretty overwhelmed sometimes just doing what has to be done and preparing to minister to other busy people often takes a back seat. Well, when life starts to swallow us whole and we feel that all-too-familiar sinking feeling - you know, the one that is accompanied by a loud gasping noise as you go down for the third time - it’s time to remember that God has provided an answer for us in worship.
Jack Hayford wrote in his book Worship His Majesty (Regal Books) that “Worship is to God, but for man.” God deserves and demands the worship because He alone is worthy, but we’re the ones who benefit from worship – it doesn’t alter His worthiness in the least for us to worship Him or not. That singular phrase has helped me to understand worship, and its personal benefits, like no other phrase I have ever read.
Many worship leaders struggle with how worship works and get caught up in the mechanics of corporate celebration, completely losing sight of the personal power of worship and why it works the way that it works. Worship is first personal, then corporate – if it’s not working for us as individuals, it doesn’t work for us as churches and corporate gatherings. That’s why worship is so exciting when we go to worship conferences – everyone there is a dedicated worshiper and the corporate expression and energy is thrilling! Conversely, many of our churches are filled with apathetic Christians who do not practice worship throughout their work week, so corporate worship on Sundays is often dull and flat. The worship leaders and the preachers are often blamed for what is really the responsibility of the persons in the pews. If we could more effectively transmit this message – that worship has personal benefits – I believe we could turn our churches into dynamic places of worship and incredible spiritual power!
Toward that end, here are three things we need to be telling our people about worship. They are simple but powerful tools for energizing personal worship that will have direct and powerful results in corporate worship. And, worship leader friend, instead of looking for the next trick to make you the coolest worship leader, I encourage you to practice these principles to unleash worship’s true benefit and power in your own life.
ONE: Worship as Remembering. I know that we often describe worship as relationship in an attempt to distinguish it from dead religion. This is good. We need relationship. But there are many people with whom I have relationship, but no contact. I’m still related to some people who have died, even though we have no contact (I’m not that weird!). The relationship is intact whether or not we have communication, so relationship itself isn’t what makes worship bring benefit to my life – it’s the contact, the communion, the communication of power and love and grace and peace and truth that emanates from a connection with God that works. Sometimes we have to remember to activate the relationship. Marriage is like that sometimes – the romance can grow a little cold until one partner or the other remembers to do something nice for the other like bring home flowers or clean the kitchen – then the romance is reignited and passion can flame once again. The couple is no less married, even in times of relational struggle, but is not blessed by the relationship and benefiting from it.
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