Pure Praise – Week 1

Greetings to all members of the Academy Christian Church worship team!  Greetings, also, to all who may stumble upon this blog post!  A little explanation is in order…

The worship team at ACC is currently reading the book, Pure Praise, by Dwayne Moore (copyright 2009, Group Publishing).  As Worship Pastor, I am using my blog (Graphic Grace) to write weekly thoughts about the book and invite my team members to enter the conversation.  I hope this “medium” will serve the purpose of providing ample time and space for the truths we are learning, through Pure Praise, to soak into our hearts and minds in very spiritual and practical ways.  In short, I really hope our group grows closer to God and each other through this experience!

First of all, I want to interject my opinion about the book’s author, Dwayne Moore.  He is the founder and leader of “Next Level Worship” (nextlevelworship.com), which is an organization built to provide discipleship resources to those who participate in worship leadership.  He’s also authored Pure Praise for Teens and a brand new book entitled Heaven’s Praise.  I called his organization a couple months ago, asking about if they could sell me a box of books for me to give to my team.  To my surprise, I got a return phone call from Dwayne himself!  He was grateful and humbled by my desire to purchase so many books for my team members.  My immediate impression of Dwayne was, “this guy’s legit!”  I was impressed that he took the time to call and spend a few minutes on the phone just trying to get to know me – a fellow worship leader.

I guess you can say he had me at ‘hello.’  LOL

In addition to authoring several books, running a full-time ministry, being a full-time father and husband and leading worship at his church, Dwayne also gives back to worship leaders in a very special way!  He teaches on online class every year, entitled “Online Worship Leader Training.”  I am currently a student in his class and I highly endorse it!  Dwayne is practical, skilled, experienced and everything else that you would want in a teacher on worship ministry.  But Dwayne’s heart for worship runs even deeper than his talent and skill; Dwayne’s heart for God and for God’s people seems to be the center from which all else flows.

So, without further ado, let’s talk about week #1 from Pure Praise.

I was especially challenged by the “Three directions of worship: Inward, Outward, Upward”.  I’m grateful that we had more than one day to fully comprehend the concept and allow God to reveal to us our weaknesses as well as our strengths.  My personal confession is that I am best at the “upward” direction of worship but not so good at the “inward” or the “outward.”  I can say what I feel about God and express His truths quite easily.  I have no problem standing on stage and leading in “upward” expressions of worship.  But if I don’t internalize worship, I may find that I’m not loving God with my whole heart, soul and mind.  What does that mean?  I’m glad you asked.  Go ahead and look it up on page 17 and 18!

In addition, my love for God must find an expression in my “service” by sharing my faith with those who need to know Christ and helping others in need. (pp 18-19)

I’m not saying I never get these other two areas right.  Simply, I can get caught in a rut of just paying “lip service” to God.  I love what Dwayne writes on pg. 18 about 2 Chronicles 16:9 (a long time favorite verse of mine).  He says, “I find that god is searching the earth not to support those who sing the best or shout the loudest.  Rather, he seeks for those “whose hearts are fully committed to him.” As worshippers and worship leaders, that must be our foremost goal. Without that commitment, all other expressions of worship are actually sickening to God.

The entire foundation for Dwayne’s book, Pure Praise, is 2 Chronicles 20:1-30.  I don’t want to take the time here to detail the chapter.  Suffice it say, everyone who is going through the book will need to read and re-read this passage of scripture over and over again.  It is a great base from which to understand the importance of praise and worship.

I have a few questions to throw out to those who are reading this book.  Feel free to comment. Let’s get some good discussions going!

1. Has anyone ever had an experience similar to what Dwayne talks about on the bottom of page 23?  (“Isaiah went from a downcast and reluctant worship spectator to a willing participant in anything God wanted him to do. He didn’t even wait to be singled out.  He enthusiastically volunteered to go.  That’s the amazing change God can make in people’s lives through worship.  Perhaps you’ve been in a service in ‘the sanctuary of God’ when people started coming to the altar during a powerful moment of worship without any formal invitation from the pastor.”) What was your experience like?  Have you been longing to see that kind of outpouring toward God again?  Could that happen at ACC?

2. What worship song expresses your praise and thanksgiving to the Lord in a powerful way?  Why do you think that song in particular has such a profound effect on you?

3. I love the line “…ask God to show up and show off this weekend during your church’s worship services. Ask him to change lives – starting with your own.” That’s a bold prayer.  But it is one I’m willing to pray.  How about you?  What are some things that God may be asking you to change? Which direction are you most weak in (Upward, Inward, Outward)?  How can we support you and pray for you?

Let’s start talking…


19 thoughts on “Pure Praise – Week 1

  1. In response to question 1, I deffinately know whats that’s like. Only in the last three weeks though, since I went to a winter retreat with a different youth group. They had a part during the service on the 3rd day where they asked those who wanted to dedicate their life to God and every. single. one. of the 300 teens stood up. Not only that, but everyone was weeping for joy. It was an amazing experience and ever since them i’ve felt like Isaiah after his transformation. I used to be the most reluctant person in worship and I would hide behind my guitar and claim I couldn’t sing. The later of the three may still be true, but at least I’m not affraid to praise God with whatever I’ve got.

    1. Wow! Thanks so much for sharing, Robert! That truly must have been an amazing experience…don’t ever forget it! In fact, I encourage you to write it down in a journal – all the details of the moment – kind of like Isaiah did. It could be a good place to go back to when you find yourself losing focus of God’s glory and focusing more on yourself. We all do it. I think of it as “getting in the box” of our own self-centeredness. But an encounter like you had when everyone had no choice but to “get out of the box” with God – that is really where we want to stay! And this is when worship becomes a lifestyle, right?

  2. I love to worship God! I have experienced what Dwayne was talking about. I have come into worship distracted or annoyed at something or someone. Then, I realized my sin and asked God to forgive me for holding a grudge or being angry or whatever else is going on. Instead, I chose to focus on God and his awesome attributes and my thought life was transformed. My worship was magnified. I imagined myself in the throne room of heaven with millions of people worshiping God. Seeing the power of glorifying God makes everything else seem so unimportant which in turn frees me from it’s power.

  3. Robert, that is such a fantastic report from the youth conference! I hope you continue to have regular contact with some of those people who are thrilling in the spirit! I can relate to hiding behind something when I “worship”. It used to be a hymnal for me. I can sing all day long, but worshiping is another issue. Playing guitar is not necessarily hiding, and it totally depends on your attitude. God knows your heart!

    I really appreciated Moore’s comments about 4 ways to worship God outwardly. I know we can all think of more ways to worship outwardly, because it is such an endless list and may or may not relate to our own spiritual gifts. I really struggle with outwardly (horizontal) worship because there are ways I want to do it, and I’m not gifted in those areas. I’m not very articulate in verbal speech, and I naturally have a slow mental processing speed. I can’t come up with ideas and eloquent prayers/comments/actions on the spur of the moment very well. I’d love to be able to come up with really righteous sounding prayers off-the-cuff, but that’s not what God gifted me with. My private prayers (all day long) are very simple and straight to the point. (However, in the past 24 hours I’ve spent a lot of time pleading with God to extend huge outpouring of Grace and love to the poor Amish woman who made a terrible mistake and lost 4 kids in the flood.)

    My upward worship of God in prayer often during the day helps me stay focused on how to do my outward worship. On a daily basis, I am surrounded by people who have nothing but shame and disdain for God. Not only am I many times at a loss as to how to respond to them, but I am tempted to respond in very prideful and gouging remarks. If I focus on my upward relationship (which is really more UP AND DOWN, since I am so constantly blessed by God’s gifts and reminders of his love…), it helps me remember that The Battle Belongs to the Lord (One of my favorite songs), and my job is to speak the truth in love. My gifts, besides musical talent of a limited nature, are mercy ministry and discernment. So if any of you are led or reminded to pray for me, ANYTIME, please don’t hesitate. God knows how to support me, so you don’t have to be very creative or insightful about telling him what to do. Just let him know you are praying for me! Thanks!

    I’m so glad to have a group to worship with! The worship (and even rehearsals) is candy to my soul! 🙂

    Lesly

  4. Well first of all, I like just how vulnerable one can be while writing this.
    In response to your first question I have been part of worship experiences like that. I’m sure Adam and Rebekah have heard me talk about them. That particular few verses in Isaiah are my favorite, from the first word to the last. I used to just look at the last line “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us? And I said, here I am, send me!” because I really wanted to be able to take up that cross and go… But now the beginning just impacts me beautifully. Off topic! Anyway, the worship experiences have had such profound effects on me that, often times, when I hear a song that was played in them I cannot help but revisit the same place of brokenness and a love for God that I feel could make my entire body burst. I have been longing to feel that again, which shouldn’t even be an issue because I should feel it every time I worship, but then I almost think that it wouldn’t be as sacred to me. I think one day it could happen for ACC; once they decide that it’s ok and that its an extremely powerful thing to worship alongside other believers. This just means that I should be praying for them more often to be able to experience Isaiah 6:5-8.
    Question two is the hardest for me! I can think of so many that I like for me; that expresses how I feel about God, but that’s not the question. I automatically revert back to “Hosanna” just because its the most listened to song on my iTunes but I think a worship set really does me in. One that I can think of recently was “Hosanna” “Stronger” “I am Blessed” and “Jesus Paid it All”. That set in particular impacted me so much probably for a lot of reasons: where I was that day in my walk with God, the words that I proclaimed to Him and yes, worshipping with so many other believers that freely worship God.
    That prayer is a bold prayer. Sometimes I get scared to pray prayers like that because I’m scared of what God will do or what I will have to change in my life but I like seeing the end result so I would definitely pray it! God is constantly asking me to change things in my life… most of which I won’t go into right now. But one that has been on my heart is the “success of a service” based on how many mistakes the worship team makes. I have been getting better about this but I get so down on myself for making one mistake or not blending with the leader of the song that I forget why I am there sometimes. Now, sometimes I don’t even pay attention to that because I am lost in worship, the place I want to be all the time so nothing can penetrate my thoughts! I am an upward worshipper for sure. I am better at inward than outward though! I usually try to honor God with everything that I am doing at every moment but its a bit of a struggle for me. So you can pray for that! And learning how to outwardly worship! Bah!
    Ok, well now since I have a 5 mile long response I want to read what other people have to say!

  5. As I read this weeks messages on praise, the passage that grabbed me the most was “Worship is not just something we do on Sundays at church.” It is a simple, yet profound statement. Intellectually I knew that, but how often do I practice it, then Jesus placed this thought on my mind. Several scriptures in John (John 4:10-14, 7:38), Jesus says that he is our “living water”. I got to thinking that at work, we sometimes go to the breakroom or what used to be called the “drinking fountain” where discussions might pop up about the latest movie you’ve seen or the recent book you have read, or talk about your favorite sports team and what they did or didn’t do the last time they played. Would I jump into a conversation talking about a movie that I have never seen or discuss in detail the recent Super Bowl for example and start saying how great Pittsburgh was in their win over Green Bay. No, others would look at me, think I was crazy and realize I hadn’t watched the game at all (by the way – Green Bay beat Pittsburgh in case you didn’t watch the game either). In the same way, should I come to the “drinking fountain” of a church worship service by participating in the praise team and expect others to worship if I haven’t done my worship throughout the week. No – God would look at me and wonder what am I doing. I just ask for others to pray for me that my everyday worship becomes a glorification to God so that my inward and outward worship is something that God would look at and say, “You are doing, what?”, and then smile. May our practices on Thursday, be just the beginning in our preparation to lead praises to our Creator at the “drinking fountain” on Sundays.

    1. Dave, I really appreciate what you wrote. What a great illustration! “Should I come to the drinking fountain of a church worship service by participating in the praise team and expect others to worship if I haven’t done my worship throughout the week?” We think we can fool a lot of people by saying all the right things and going through the right motions, but God…he knows. And the Bible says, “Do not be deceived. God will not be mocked.” I will pray for you, Dave. Will you pray for me, too? Just because I’m a worship pastor doesn’t mean I am any better at glorifying God in my everyday worship. This is a real challenge and something I definitely want to grow in. Much thanks, Dave. I’m so glad you are a part of the team!

  6. Question 1: I have not experienced that corporately at church, however I have experienced that in a personal way at various times. What a thought that our church could remove our own barriers to intimate worship! It starts with me though, echoing what Dave said “should I come to the “drinking fountain” of a church worship service by participating in the praise team and expect others to worship if I haven’t done my worship throughout the week. No – God would look at me and wonder what am I doing” Our worship on Sunday morning starts Monday morning.

    Question 2: Right now it is The Stand. I love that song musically, it builds itself to a shout of praise. But lyrically it awakens and challenges the warrior in me to Stand in who I am in Christ and what He created me to be (can you tell I have read Wild at Heart lately?) all I am is yours…….

    Question 3: I need to be lifted up to worship my God inwardly. Most of my struggles happen between my ears. When I engage the battle on this front I find that the other two (outward and upward) tend to flow naturally.

    p.s. I love this study

  7. When I was in basic training I attended a worship service after zero week. I remember trying to sing “Lord I lift your name on high..” and I was unable to even formulate the words. I was mute, left only to weep my thankfulness to my Father. I was not the only one. It was the most intense “outward pouring of the spirit” in a church community that I have witnessed. It is also a constant reminder to me how in our brokenness God is so near.
    Personally, I feel I have similar experiences very often. When Adam and I first got married he use to think he did something wrong when we went to church because I would be so overwhelmed during worship I could go through a box of tissues. He now just comes prepared… My challenge is to remain in it. I love the fresh reminder that we worship in all we do. That it is a way of life! Outward, inward, upward.

    your second question… I have many favorite or powerful worship songs that express my praise to God. However, God did the most transforming in my heart through “Hosanna” He literally uprooted years of pain and replaced them with abundant grace and healing in the few minutes it takes to listen to the song. Truly one of the most powerful encounter with Christ I have ever had. As much as worship is pouring out to our loving Father, equally it is allowing Him to pour into us. Listening to Daddy speak life and truth to us while we are completely emerged, and face down at His feet in worship.
    Now make that an attitude of my daily life! That is where I want prayer. To never leave His feet.

    1. Great comments, Jen! I didn’t know you served in the military. Which “Hosanna” is the one you like so much? We are singing the one by Paul Baloche tonight! (You are the God who saves us…worthy of all our praises)

      1. Hillsong United, Hosanna. Hosanna in the Highest. (heal my heart and make it clean, open up my eyes to the thinks unseen, show me how to love like you have loved me, break my heart for what breaks your, everything I am for your kingdom’s cause, as I walk from nothing to eternity) POWERFUL! Still gives me goose bumps.

      2. GREAT LYRICS! I especially am challenged by the phrase…”break my heart for what breaks yours, everything I am for Your kingdom’s cause.”

  8. Michael Gungor’s “Prodigal” has been for some years now one of the more powerful songs in my mind and heart. A story to which we all relate, that of a beloved child rebelling and scorning his father, which is resolved by the grace of Yahweh, and finally expressing a simple statement of awe and gratitude: nothing compares to what you’ve done for me. The verses speak honestly of what I frequently find myself doing (i.e. squandering grace, being apathetic).

    1. HEY COLBY!!! WELCOME TO THE PARTY!!! (Everybody… this Colby Jenkins…our summer 2011 intern. Isn’t it cool that he has agreed to go through this study with us before he ever gets here? So awesome!) Colby – we hope you are doing well and enjoying your Spring Break!

      When Andrew Randolph came home and led worship for ACC over Christmas break, he did “Prodigal” as a sort of special music song. I wasn’t even in town to hear it, so I really know what it’s like. But based on your description, Colby, it is my kind of song! What album is it on?

  9. First off, I would like to say how much this study has made me think. It has really gotten to me and I really enjoy it.
    I would definitely say that “Revelation Song” is one that has a powerful effect on me. I think its because of the picture that it paints in my mind. It says, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, holy holy is He, sing a new song to Him who sits on Heaven’s mercy seat” this makes me think of what Jesus did for us and how much and cares for us. It also makes me think of Him sitting on a throne in Heaven, and how powerful He is. It is a song that makes me want to kneel in awe of Him every time I hear it.
    The outward praise is something I believe I need to work on. I feel like I don’t express that I’m a full-out Christian at my school. I’m pretty quiet about my faith, and I think that is something that definitely needs to change.

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