Category Archives: Worship

Jesus: Redeemer and Judge

Running
I find that a lot of my spiritual insights come as I’m running.  I lace up my sneakers, strap on my phone, plug in my earphones, and pump up the worship tunes.

I hate running.

Running has to have a point.  To avoid a disaster.  To get around the bases as fast as you can.  To move the ball up the field.  To escape a mob.

Trump JesusThat’s why I ran away from the Trump 2016!!! crowd.  The mob mentality.  I supported Ted Cruz, not because I liked Cruz so much.  It’s because he espoused principles that I hold.  Principles like limited government, states’ rights, fiscal responsibility, constitutional integrity, religious liberty.*

I won’t get into why into why I think the Trump phenomenon is a “mob mentality.”  The point of this post is about my reaction to the phenomenon.

Anyway, I hate running.  I’m not built like a long distance runner.  I’m built more like a full-back, “very dangerous over short distances.”  Sometimes I feel like Gimli in The Two Towers when I run any distance greater than the length of the basketball court.

My job requires I be fit.  So I run.  But when I run, I make it an act of worship, so there is a point to it.  I listen to songs that worship Jesus.  In fact, right now I’m listening to Chris Tomlin’s “All to Us.”

Worshiping God during my running has led to many spiritual insights for me.  There is something about worshiping God that helps me to think clearly.

This morning, while running, Chris Tomlin’s song “Jesus, My Redeemer,” played.  As the song came to the part

No other one so glorious
You outshine the sun
No other love like Jesus
You outshine the sun

I began to think about the Trump phenomenon and about how many people think Trump is the Savior of the republic, the One to “Make America Great Again.”

“But, they’re wrong,” I thought.  “He will be the destroyer of the republic.”

Then I began to think again.  “No, I’m wrong too.  If Trump does not have the power to be the savior, then he does not have the power to be the destroyer.”

That changed my perspective entirely.  Only Jesus can rescue our nation.  Only Jesus has the power to be the destroyer of our republic.  In no other name is there such power and authority.

Our focus this election season should not be in the abilities of men to save us.  Absolutely we should choose the best people to be our public servants, and we have chosen poorly this year.  We have chosen poorly because we have focused on men as our savior, and we have believed our malady is merely bad public policies.  But our problem is not bad policies.  Bad policies are only a symptom of our problem.  Our ailment is our sin.

The comfort of our lives has made us make peace with our sin.  Because the Church is comfortable with our own sin, the World hates us for pointing out theirs.  They are in full rebellion against God.  Creating same-sex “marriages,” allowing men in women’s bathrooms, laughing about selling dead-baby parts, praising the “courage” of men who want to dress up like women.  The nation is hell-bent on destruction, and it’s not going to be Trump’s fault.

It’s going to be ours, the Church’s fault.

But, the situation is never so bleak when we, the Church, finally agree with God about the nature of our own sinful condition.  Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for us that we might become his righteousness in a world that is going to hell.  Jesus has reconciled us with the Father so that we can be ambassadors of reconciliation to a dying world. See II Corinthians 5:17-21.

Trump is not the savior, nor the destroyer of the republic.  Only Jesus has the authority and power to do that.  But, I believe Jesus has given us the ability to make his decision for him, whether to redeem our nation or destroy it.

Which will you choose?  Live lives of comfort and compromise?  Or of righteousness and reconciliation?

As for me and my house, we will choose righteousness and reconciliation over comfort and compromise.

_________________
*We can have a discussion what these mean and why I call these “principles.”  But, for this post I do not have the time to have that discussion.

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Worship Therapy

worship

Church worship has largely become a mere therapy session.  We sing songs that are all about us–how much God loves us, how much God has done for us, how bad our problems were until God fixed them for us.  I am not saying we should never recognize what God has done for us.  But, we have turned God into our therapist to heal all our diseases and solve all our problems so we can live happy lives.  We have invented an idol.  We then fool ourselves into thinking we are worshiping the one true God.

So, then, how should we worship?  First, realize that we are more concerned about our happiness than God is.  Jesus said “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart. I have overcome the world.”  Paul wrote from a prison cell “All those who want to live godly in Christ will suffer persecution.”  We were not promised comfort.  We were promised the Comforter.  Worship should not be about solving our problems or making us happy.

boyfriend Jesus

“What a boyfriend I have in Jesus”

Secondly, those who worship God must worship him in spirit and in truth.  There is both an emotional and an intellectual component to worship.  Worship is often too emotional.  It is as if we are singing to Jesus as our “boyfriend.”  Where is the intellectual truth?  Like teenage girls at a Justin Bieber concert, church goers get excitable and revel in that emotional high of justinbieberthe worship service.  But when the emotional episode is gone, they are the same people they have always been: needy, intellectually lazy, and biblically illiterate.  They don’t even know what they are singing.  They might as well be singing show tunes.

The Preacher warns us to be careful when we enter the LORD’s house not to offer mindless worship.  “Do not be rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God…Therefore, let your words be few…When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for He has no pleasure in fools.  Pay what you vow.”  Ecclesiastes 5:2, 4.  Words mean things.  When we sing “I surrender all” do we really mean it?  How many times have we made that vow and broken it?  “Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands?”  Ecclesiastes 5:6.  Better to be silent before the Almighty God than to utter mindless words we have no intention on fulfilling.

Words carry more than just an intellectual meaning. They carry emotional meaning.  God created us with emotions.  Gratitude is conveyed with emotions.  Something is wrong if you are not emotionally moved by singing “Why should I gain from his reward. I cannot give an answer. But this I know with all my heart–His wounds have paid my ransom.”  Worship without emotion is inauthentic.  It is like giving a thoughtless “Thank you.”  I have seen pastors absent-mindedly offering a “hand clap of praise” while looking around at the congregation instead of focusing on the object of their praise.  Such absent-minded worship is offering lip service while hearts are far from him.  Jesus called people like that “Hypocrites.”

So, worship God intellectually. Know what you are singing. Make sure it is biblically accurate.  A lot of worship songs convey “soft” heresies that cause us to have a wrong understanding of God.  (This reminds me of the time when the worship leader had us sing “Where the Streets Have No Name” in service. 

I want to run
I want to hide
I want to tear down the walls
That hold me inside
I want to reach out
And touch the flame
Where the streets have no name

What!?)

Where is this place with nameless streets? Is it heaven? Does God not want us to know where we are, or where we’re going?  Worship through song requires an intellectual assent to the words being sung.  Singing nonsense emotionally is still singing nonsense.

Once we know what we are singing we must worship God emotionally.  John Piper said “True worship comes only from spirits made alive and sensitive by the quickening of the Spirit of God.”  Therapeutic worship is not true worship.  Therapeutic worship is manipulative.  Therapeutic worship is about “us.”  True worship does not look for therapy.  True worship is a genuine, grateful response to the object of our worship.

If we want to worship God in spirit and in truth we will worship God for who he is, not just for what he can do for us.