Monday, January 23, 2006

P P P Power in Praise?


Do you know that there is real Power in Praise?

Do you know what difference Praise can make in your everyday life?

What do I mean by Praise?

I'm going to start at the end and work backwards...
When I first started to get involved with music at church (some 13 years ago) we had two kinds of song; Praise and Worship. Praise meant fast and Worship meant slow (that's pretty helpful for a drummer to know...!) As I grew up, I struggled to fit 'Heart' into either of those categories, until someone explained that Worship was a lifestyle, not an event! So, I redefined how I thought about Worship; sung Worship especially.

If you change the definition of Worship, then you need to redefine, or rather rename, the act of communicating with God through song. I call it Heart Worship. The only thing this doesn't quite cover is the physical aspect of worship.

Let me explain...

Jesus said:

John 4:23 NIVYet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.


John 4:23 The MessageBut the time is coming--it has, in fact, come--when what you're called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter. "It's who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That's the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship.

God wants us, all of us, just us. Mind, Body and Spirit.

So the next questions are, who are we? and how should that person Worship God?

Picture yourself, standing before God.
Do you want to give your life? (Worship) YES!
Do you want to give your Heart? (Heart Worship) YES!
Is there anything left? …..YES!

Steve Campbell, Pastor of Cambridge Community Church, talks about raising hands in 'Worship' (meaning sung Worship) looking at how people worry about lifting their hands in Church. He asks "How do you keep your hands down?!!!"

If we're seeking to engage with God just as we are, and we have even an inkling of the Awesome Magnificence of the God we live for, How can we hold back our bodies, when we've already given our hearts and minds?

Looking back to the verse from John, Jesus is calling us to simply be us. As we Worship in our day to day lives and as we gather together we need bring nothing else, except ourselves. That's what God's asking for. So why don't we do that? What's holding us back from being ourselves? Are the reasons the same as for why we can struggle to be ourselves with other people? With our work colleague, friends, even partners?

Earthly wisdom would probably suggest that we work on a small scale and then work up to something bigger, such as our relationship with God, but so often the 'Kingdom' is upside down, that actually I think it works the other way. Start with God, at the centre, and let everything radiate out from there.

I have no problem with confidence. To even write that takes a fair amount of confidence. When I stood up on a stage at Spring Harvest to start leading 400 youth in sung Worship, having never, ever, 'led' Worship before, I had confidence. Not confidence in me, but confidence in God. I knew that he'd put me there, and I knew he'd do the rest. Was I nervous? Yep. Did that matter? No.

Yet when I sing to God, I can engage my voice, I can engage my mind and I can even engage my heart, so why do I so often not engage my body? Why do I not let myself go more? Dance? Wave? Clap? Praise?

Now it’s not confidence with me. I’m not worried about what people think of me. I’m happy with my physical self. So what else stops me? My one remaining thought is that I just don’t think of it. It’s not a part of my tradition..…!

Let’s stop there for a second, because it’s actually a very important point. No matter how much you think you don’t, you already have your own traditions. You already have a way of doing things. Accept it and let’s move on.

If you accept you have your own tradition, then you will be able to change it or alter it.

What happens when we physically Worship God?

Well, we obey the verse in John, where Jesus describes the kind of Worshiper God is seeking. And that in itself is a HUGE deal. That kind of obedience (which is not a word we like, another is discipline) is something God really likes. When we are obedient to God and his Word, things happen. Big things can happen. God can release so much in our lives when we’re obedient, and Honest. Oh to be honest with God. If we could be honest with God, then how much easier would it be to be honest with others? If you were honest with God, and yourself, would you be more thankful? Or Grateful?

Another major part of Praise, other than a physical thing, is Thanksgiving. In fact it may well be the most fundamental part of Praise (but we are doing this backwards.) We have so many more things to be thankful for, no matter how many ‘bad’ things we have in our lives, God is bigger and is worthy of our thanks (if your’re reading an article on Praise, then you probably know that ;) right?)

Before we get to the beginning, there’s one more thing we need look at. I asked the question “how should that person (you) Worship God?” To that I don’t really have the answer. Each of us is Unique. We are all made in the image of God, and all reflect a different combination of the aspects of Him. Each of us will need to explore this in our own Journey and our Praise will probably change to reflect this, but the one thing I can say for certain is that it needs to include some physical action or expression. Whatever that means for us; maybe standing on the beach and shouting across the sea? And Why?

Simply because there is obedience and power in it.

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