Grow Deep Part 4: Inclusive Worship
Grow Deep, Grow Up, Grow Fruit, that’s the task of a follower of Christ. Grow Deep is what we are currently considering. Grow Deep, spread spiritual roots, so far and wide that you can withstand the storms of life. Growing Deep is all about your relationship with Jesus, it’s about being rooted deep in the Spirit.
In Part 1, the Flame of Experience, we learned that growing deep requires more than just an intellectual pursuit of God, book knowledge is good, but it is not sufficient in setting down deep roots, you need experiential knowledge for that. Growing Deep requires that you have encounters with God so what you know in your head becomes what you feel in your heart.
In Part 2, Looking Up, we learned that in order to grow deep we must look up, we must make the choice to get rid of the attractions and desires of worldly concerns, what we can call an earthly gaze and set our minds on the things that matter in the Kingdom. We likened the old habits, attachments, addictions and value system of the old way of life to filthy rags that are to be ripped off and burned. Then we can wear God’s designer wardrobe of love.
In Part 3 You and Me, we learned that in order to grow deep, to thrive and survive, we need each other. Believers are empowered to create intimate relationships with any and every believer. To realize this gift we have to make the commitment of spending time with other believers. It is the gift of God for His sons and daughters to live in mutual beneficial interdependent relationships. With fellowship comes the incredible bonus of encountering Jesus in the midst of our gathering together.
Part 4 is called Inclusive Worship. We are going to go beyond the joy of singing praise songs together and move into how Worship becomes a way of life. You will learn that we not only overcome the storms of life, but we grow deep as we learn to praise the Lord.
In the church today there is an easy trap we can fall into. What we think of as worship can turn into nothing more than entertainment. We have worship leaders, which usually means, we have appointed someone to lead the singing, someone who puts together a great band and can enhance the experience with lights, fog machines, video, dancing, and drama. We tend to think of worship as eyes closed, hands raised, with reverence singing songs of devotion to God that move us emotionally. When the singing is done, worship has ended.
A few years ago my sister bought tickets for me to see Bob Seger. I like his music. There are some songs that really resonate in me, a couple of tunes that can move me emotionally. Yep, I have felt the same feelings at a Bob Seger concert as I have felt in some of those singing times in church. One of these days I am going to process a video of the crowd at a secular concert and those who have gathered for worship, drop out the audio and examine the two for similarities and differences.
I am not critical of singing in church, neither am I troubled about the use of the arts and technology to enhance the musical experience, nor am I against worship leaders.
Psalms 96:1-2; Psalms 33:1-3; Col 3:16 (MSG)
“Sing God a brand-new song! Earth and everyone in it, sing! Sing to God—worship God!” “Right-living people sound best when praising. Use guitars to reinforce your Hallelujahs! Play his praise on a grand piano! Invent your own new song to him; give him a trumpet fanfare.” “…sing your hearts out to God!”
Then in 2nd Considerations—Worship Him with drums, laser lights, and fog machines, amplify your praise, turn up the bass so it resonates in your very being.
The job of the worship leader is to lead us into an encounter with God. For it is within those encounters, those spiritual encounters that are totally subjective, that are right-brained, that we grow deep. The worship leader helps us to position our hearts to receive the encounter.
A definition of worship I often use is Worship is giving God His due. Yet more accurately worship is giving God reverence. When we revere God we hold God in high regard, we esteem Him highly, we recognize, we appreciate, we admire, we respect, we cherish, and throw in awe and wonder and wow. The root of the word revere actually means “to stand in awe.” The “Mercy Me” song, I Can Only Imagine, gives you the faintest of glimpses at what awe is like—
What will my heart feel?
Will I dance for you Jesus
Or in awe of You be still
Will I stand in your presence
Or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah
Will I be able to speak at all
Psalms 29:1-2 & 9 (MSG)
Bravo, God, bravo! …In awe before the glory, in awe before God's visible power.
Stand at attention! Dress your best to honor him! … We fall to our knees—we call out, "Glory!"
Worship is about positioning your heart so that it is conducive to encountering God. It’s in your encounters with God that you grow deep.
We are making a case for Worship being all about the position of our hearts. To grow deep followers of Christ are to be inclusive worshipers of God. Jesus said: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21 (NIV). What you value most, what you cherish, what you hold dear, determines the position of your heart. Your heart represents the command and control center of your life, you can think of your heart as the chooser. The heart is the vehicle in which you carry out your life. I have found two things that are great indicators of where my heart is. All I have to do is ask two questions: 1. On what do I spend my time? 2. On what do I spend my money? Where do your time and money go, what do you use time and money for, reveals the position of your heart.
Jesus teaches us:
Matthew 6:19-20 (MSG)
"Don't hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it's safe from moth and rust and burglars.
You store up treasures in heaven by living out your God-given passions for His glory. If you are to grow deep then God must be your treasure. The concerns of the Kingdom; you accomplishing the will of God here on earth as it is in Heaven, is where your time and money are to go, where your passions are to be. Are you giving God priority in your life? Is God the motivating force in your life?
The direction I want to go is coming to an understanding that worship involves your entire life, the way you live it: inclusive worship. As Christ followers, worship is to be part of everything we do. Craig Keen, one of my mentors, took up playing the saxophone at age 69. He was asked why he plays. His answer gives us insight into the heart position that makes the things we do inclusive worship.
“Why do I play? I suspect that my answer is shaped in large part by the fact that I was a university theology professor for 38 years. I pretty much don't know how to talk about anything I am passionate about without putting it in theological terms and I'm going to do it again here: I play the saxophone because it's how I pray. I lament, petition, give thanks, and praise God by playing, no matter how amateurish my playing is. Music, the music I make, saxophone music, is in my bumbling hands and wavering chops the language by which I attend to God.”
What is your language by which you attend to God? For attending to God is reverence, it's giving God His due, it's acknowledging Him, this is worship, the kind of worship that helps you to grow deep. Worship is to include, to be inclusive of everything that you do.
Colossians 3:17 ; Romans 12:1 (MSG)
“Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father, every step of the way.” “So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.”
One way Craig Keen attends to God is by playing the saxophone. What separates what Craig does on the sax from other more accomplished musician is the position of his heart. He takes something ordinary and turns it into extraordinary worship. You can do the same thing. You can turn the secular into the sacred by doing whatever you do with the attitude of bringing your labor to God. What is your language that you attend God with? Let’s see if this helps. You have been given talents and gifts and expertise through experience, position your heart so you understand that what you are doing is actually worshipping God by using what He has given you for His glory.
Colossians 3:24 (MSG)
Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you're serving is Christ.
For example, our brother Sean has the gift of craftsmanship. He is hard to hold back when there is a facility project to get done. Doing it and doing it right gives Him joy and he has positioned his heart in such a way that he isn’t doing the project for himself, or even the person who hired him, he makes it a matter of worship. Sean just recently finished up some landscaping around your church grounds. His sore body is worship because of how he has positioned his heart. By using what God has given him for God’s glory Sean is growing deep. The same thing with Joe Grone, full of those gifts of the hand, which he readily uses to bless others with, that’s worship. Mike Pratt has a gift of wisdom, he can help people apply what they know rightly to the life situations they find themselves in. He does it to join with God in God’s desire to restore all people. It’s worship. Patti Higashimura has a gift of intercession, praying for others is a joy for her, it’s an act of worship. Patti is one of those people with more than one gift, another is the gift of Helps, she worships God behind the scenes. Sherri has a gift of listening. Dave Hooker the gift of encouragement. Susan Pratt the gift of folding the bulletins, the Bible calls it the gifts of helps, same with Steveo. Vincente the gift of mercy.
Romans 12:6-8 (NCV)
We all have different gifts, each of which came because of the grace God gave us. The person who has the gift of prophecy should use that gift in agreement with the faith. Anyone who has the gift of serving should serve. Anyone who has the gift of teaching should teach. Whoever has the gift of encouraging others should encourage. Whoever has the gift of giving to others should give freely. Anyone who has the gift of being a leader should try hard when he leads. Whoever has the gift of showing mercy to others should do so with joy.
You position your heart to worship by reframing what you do so that you are doing it for the glory of God. Inclusive worship causes you to grow deep as everything you do becomes sacred. This, of course, requires you to develop the habit of dedicating all your activity to God. I have found by saying “Father I do this for your glory” to be a helpful catchphrase that reminds me to position my heart in an attitude of inclusive worship.
1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV)
“…whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
Worship is living your life to the full. If you want to go deep if you can’t do what you do without it being an act of worship, without being able to present it to God has an offering, yourself as the living sacrifice; then find something else to do.
Inclusive Worship is more than singing songs, worship is about the positioning of your heart in such a fashion that the things you do are motivated by your desire to make them an offering to God. It is refraining the things you do into the way you attend to God. Your behavior may be no different on the outside, but on the inside where no one can see but you and God, your heart is right.
The Heart of Worship