Tag Archives: worship styles

Unrecognizable (2 Kings 16)

I am shocked at the nerve King Ahaz had in regard to the Temple of the Lord. He had been to Damascus, and liked their place of worship (which, by the way, was a pagan temple). So he went home to Jerusalem and had an exact copy of the Damascus altar built, put it right next to the altar of God, and proceeded to offer the “right” sacrifices upon it. He ordered the priests to use both altars.

The king didn’t stop there. Do you remember how carefully God had given the blueprints for His Temple? No detail was too insignificant in His design, and the Temple had been built according to God’s specifications.

Ahaz decided to make changes. He redecorated the Temple and removed much of what God had placed there. Read about it. It’s appalling.

And here is what has my blood boiling today. Ahaz did all this, “in deference to the king of Assyria.” (verse 18)

I haven’t stood on my soapbox much lately, but my blood is boiling. As shocking as what Ahaz did, we’ve done the same.

Now, I know God didn’t ordain order-of-worship, or worship styles. But let’s look at what we’ve done in our own remodeling of the Church. We removed hymns, taken crosses off the walls. We no longer have altars, we have stages. We’ve thrown organs into the trash, and removed the word “sin” from our vocabulary. We’ve taken steeples off our buildings, and given our fellowships cutsie names to hide our denominational affiliation. We’ve removed “Reverend” in front of our pastors’ names and encouraged them to come to church in ripped jeans and dirty sneakers. We no longer have Sunday evening or Wednesday worship services, and many churches have removed the choir loft.

I had a teenager tell me that her peers did not come to services on Sunday because they didn’t like the name “Sunday School.” Her parents agreed with her. Let’s change that hour to “Life Groups.” That’ll bring in the kids! Really?

Why all these changes? Were they done in deference to God? Hardly! The God who told us we have to be set apart, cannot be honored when we try to fit in. The God who is serious about sin cannot be honored when we refuse to talk about it.

These changes were done in deference to unsaved and unchurched people, like Ahaz making changes in deference to a pagan king. And none of the changes made in the last thirty years has done anything to strengthen the Church.

Growing up, church was the single most important activity in my life. We arranged our weekly schedules around our church’s schedule, not the other way around. Our priorities were: Sunday School, Sunday morning worship, Youth Group an hour before Sunday evening worship, Bible quiz practice an hour before Wednesday evening Bible study and prayer time. Does any young person devote half that time to God these days? Do any adults?

No. Church, for many, is nothing more than another social gathering, no more than an hour or two a week, and only if there isn’t something better to do like baseball games and fishing trips. The Church that once was is unrecognizable today.

That makes me angry, and sad. I can only imagine how God views the redecorating of His Church.

 

2 Samuel 4-6; What Does Worship Look Like?

Some have said 6:12ff is a blueprint for worship; that David, dancing and praising God with abandon, offering sacrifices, freeing himself from his robe, is the picture of true worship. It certainly is a happy picture of worship, a joyful occasion celebrating God’s Presence. Are we missing something if our church services are not like that?

If you’ve read many of my posts, you know I am not a fan of what is referred to as contemporary worship styles. And I am adamantly against church services with an agenda to entertain church-goers. But I am not discounting this picture of worship here in 2 Samuel.

First, David has reason to rejoice. The Presence of God represented by the ark, is coming home! I don’t know about you, but God’s Presence in my life makes me want to rejoice, too. When I confess sin and experience the rekindled relationship with God that had been broken because of sin, I want to sing His praises.

Hallelujah!

However, what we witness here in 2 Samuel is not a church service. It did not occur in the temple. Although it is a glorious picture of what worship can be, I do not believe it is a blueprint for what worship should be. There are many examples in Scripture where worship is expressed by falling flat on your face, laid out on the ground in humble submission and awe before our Holy God. I see examples of church services where Jesus taught with no mention of dancing or even of smiling.

When I hear a “worship leader” reprimand a congregation for not smiling or looking joyful as we sing, or for not bringing the same enthusiasm to worship as we bring to a football game,  I immediately know that person is looking horizontally, at people, and not focused on his own worship of God. Personally, I don’t want anyone leading me to look at people. Period.

I honestly don’t care what you look like when you worship. If my head is lifted toward heaven and tears of joy are falling from my eyes, I’m not going to judge you if your head is bowed and tears of conviction are falling from yours. If you raise your hands in worship, don’t judge me if I stare at the hymnal in my hand and let the words of the song break my heart in worship.

I don’t know what worshiping God looks like for you because I can’t see your heart. That’s where true worship occurs. Let’s not be bullied into looking like someone thinks your worship should look like. It’s not a performance. It’s not a contest.

Let your worship of God focus only on Him. Your expression of that will follow in a personal, God-directed and God-honoring way. You may end up singing at the top of your voice with hands raised and heart soaring. Or you may bow your head in humility as you worship your Holy Father in the quietness of your heart.

The only worship leader I’m interested in following is God Himself. The only worship  I want to offer Him is that which comes from my heart, no matter what that looks like to anyone else.