Pure Praise – Week #2

 

This video is priceless!  I can’t believe how perfectly this illustrates week two of our  “Pure Praise” study.  Whether or not you are into healing or being filled with the Holy Spirit, you have to agree that this little girl’s expression of joy covers all three categories of praise outlined in Dwayne Moore’s book on page 32 – Vocal, Audible and Visible.

I absolutely love it!

Here’s the thing that strikes me about this video.  You hear the parent’s voices in the background?  What are they saying?  Are they telling her to settle down and be quiet?  Are they calling into question her theological belief that God can hear us and heal us when we pray?  Are they cautioning their daughter that although God may have healed her this time, it doesn’t mean that the next time his answer might be “NO”?  Are they telling her that her ‘healing’ wasn’t really miraculous, it was just the body healing itself?

NO!

Here’s what I think they are doing…I think they are being “worship leaders.”

Yep, that’s right.

I think the girl’s parents are a perfect demonstration of what we are called to do when we stand up on stage and lead our congregation in times of praise and worship.  We are encouraging!  We are vocal in our praise!  We are engaged in the story of redemption that is happening in our own congregation!  We are thrilled that the church family has gathered together to celebrate God’s wonder-working power in their lives!  We are spurring on praise!!!

This little girl was obviously brought up in a home where her parents taught and modeled this type of exuberant praise.  My kids don’t act like that…ever.  I’ve never video-taped them running around praising God because they were healed.  Which leads me to my next observation…

Our people’s response in praise and worship is directly proportional to our teaching and emphasis and modeling on the subject.  As a general rule of thumb, that is.  I realize there will always be people on opposite ends of the spectrum who come to our church and put up with our times of praise and worship because we are either too stoic or too charismatic.  That’s just the nature of it all!  But as a general rule, as leaders we are the ones who cultivate the worship culture.  Agree?  or Disagree?

I’m not talking only about us musicians and worship leaders, but about the overall leadership of the church – Pastors, Elders, etc.  Do we teach praise enough?  Do we model praise enough?  Do we call people to praise enough?  Do we provide enough opportunities for praise to occur?  Do we pray for our people to have encounters with God throughout the week which would cause them to want to praise Him when we gather together in the sanctuary on Sunday?

I think there’s plenty of material here to get a dialogue going.  One word of caution: don’t think that I am bashing our congregation for not “praising God” the way I think they should.  I am certainly not bashing anyone.  I don’t want this to become a place for us to say things like, “Why can’t we be more like (the big church up the street)“?

We are who God has called us to be.  We have a certain DNA.  I’m okay with that and I hope you are, too.  I’m more interested in hearing us talk about ways we can bring the best praise offerings we possibly can to God.  If there is room for improvement, let’s discuss how, as individuals, we can be better worship leaders in the way we authentically model our joy and our pain and everything in between…and not just on Sundays!

Isaiah 51:11 – “So the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads; They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (NKJV)

Finally, I ask you to remember this: you aren’t only leading worship when you’re on stage.  You are leading by example all the time.  Lead well!  Lead with purity of heart!

Psalm 100:2 – “Worship the Lord with gladness.  Come before Him, singing with joy.” (NLT)


11 thoughts on “Pure Praise – Week #2

  1. Amen! Amen! I just want to dance with that little girl! Don’t you know God Almighty just loves to hear from her and sing over her?! I could tell you several stories about children I know whose prayers were obviously heard and answered. Oh, I know those prayers are precious to Him. This is for sure: if I need something from God, I will pray for myself, but I will certainly welcome the prayers of children, too!!

    The song Kyrie Eleison (sp?) makes me feel like dancing. Who recorded the first pop/rock version? The Police?

    Anyway, I want to share a story about being an encourager during the church service. I’ll try to be succinct. About 10 years ago, my family was “between churches”, and that’s a lonely place for me to be. My church is my family. So I was the leader in my family for finding a new church. We visited the Lutherans, the Methodists, had a lot of fun times with the southern Baptists, got back to our roots with the Catholics, and even worshiped a couple of weeks with the new Evangelical Episcopalians. We couldn’t find a church my husband was comfortable with, so I took the kids and visited some churches without Steve a few weeks (being the scout, so to speak). One week we visited the AME (African Methodist Episcopal) church in Woodstock, GA (the suburb where we lived outside of Atlanta). I didn’t know much about it, except that there were a lot of black people hanging around their parking lot every Sunday when we drove by. And they looked joyful. So I took my very white family to visit, and we were welcomed and greeted in a sanctuary that looked a lot like the Episcopal church I grew up in. They led worship songs with a 5 or 6-piece band that rocked, and the whole place was full of some serious rhythm. It was so fun. And quite conservative, very Biblical, very joyful. A few hands were up, and the clapping was right in there, even if some were syncopated and some were clapping double-time! When the priest got up to preach, I was appalled at how “rude” and “impolite” many members of the congregation were! They didn’t let him speak more than 2 or 3 sentences before someone (usually several) would interrupt with “Oh, yea”, or “Amen, you know it!”, or “Praise God Almighty!”, etc. After the end of the service, (long story short) we stayed around in the sanctuary to chat (partly because everyone did, and there was no way to exit through all the bodies!). I don’t know how I finally asked (probably poorly!) about all the comments during the sermon. It was explained to me that the comments are just “Amens”, like God appreciates hearing from Christians who agree in His name, but also, the comments are part of the culture of that church, and it is the way they encourage the preacher to continue and to speak boldly the Word of God. NEW CONCEPT TO ME! I had heard a few Hallelujahs and Amen!s in the Baptist church, but never this on-going barrage of energy from the congregation. But I like that concept. Whether we are encouraging the preacher or each other in prayer, praise, or supplication, what better reason or opportunity to pronounce our beliefs!

    I’ve listened to more than one sermon where the pastor asked us to consider giving as much energy to praising our God as to cheering for our favorite sports team. Boy, that got me! I have witnessed miracles first hand, and I want you to know who my favorite team is!!

    Lesly 🙂

    1. Lesly, I spend a little window of my life attending a church that sounds very similar to that…. except the conservative part, but joy filled and biblical, yes… I was the only white attendee and stuck out like a sore thumb! As awkward as it was initially to be there I LOVED the energy and was welcomed with open arms. You comment about cheering for your favorite sports team made me smile because that is what it would feel like sometimes. A very large sporting event where our team (our savior) was always winning! The joy would pour out with AMEN’S! Hallelujahs! I never thought to ask the why behind the sudden outbursts? (you are so bold to do so) I love your comment….”Whether we are encouraging the preacher or each other in prayer, praise, or supplication, what better reason or opportunity to pronounce our beliefs!” Love, love, love, it!
      It is an encouraging and challenging statement in one. It makes me want to be that encourager and to be encouraged. I think it is a challenge sometimes to accept encouragement as a Christian. In an attempt to not seem proud we don’t except it and feel this weird guilt if we receive it. Truth be told I want to be the best ________ (you can fill-in the blank with whatever you want) for Gods glory! I want to use the gifts GOD gave me to further His kingdom. Encouragement alone in itself is a gift from God! (Romans 12:8) and it is mentioned numerous times throughout the bible!! How blessed are we to be able to be encouragers in praise to our God! How cool!!! Not only are we watching our TEAM JESUS win! We get to be on the side lines initiating the wave!! So cool! Sorry, I totally just wrote you a novel but your comment inspired me… Love you Lesly!

      1. “I want to be the best worship pastor I can be for God’s glory. I want to use the gifts God gave me to further his kingdom.” There…I said it! I love reading your thoughts, Jennifer. You are such a gift to our worship ministry! Thank you!!!

  2. Looks like I started a bit of thing with the novel writing 🙂
    Anyway, I love the halle-jul-ah that she says, so cute! I can only remember one time, during a worship and prayer service that my church was holding that I praised God like that. But it was probably because the pastor was coaxing a little bit- saying things like “Tell God how much you love him and how good he is”. For some reason it didn’t feel fabricated to me. There were probably 200 people there just shouting to God about how wonderful He is. Very powerful! I very much enjoy Lesly and Jennifer’s comments and I feel so blessed when I worship next to the two of you. Lesly, I can often see this little girl coming out of you, even just in practice. You’re so excited to be praising God, it’s very contagious!
    And no, I don’t think praise is a subject taught enough in churches, because like Lesly said I have pretty much only heard it compared to sending up shouts like we would to our favorite team. I love talking about how we can better praise God and I have so much to learn. I want to be like that little girl in the video even when I talk about my God because just singing songs to Him on Sunday morning isn’t good enough!

    1. Brittany, I remember Desperation last year. It’s cool to see you let loose in your worship. I actually have a harder time doing that than you do. It takes me quite a bit of time to get “warmed up” so to speak. I really have to focus my attention on God and not those around me. But I would say that Desperation is the closest I’ve ever come to being in a worship and prayer service where I felt like I could really let loose. Thanks for leading the way in that!

  3. I’m going to be completely honest here. Before I got saved I was extremely cynical of the “posturing” of worship. I thought christians were crazy or acting or both…..like they needed some emotional singing time to validate there beliefs, and there own imaginations. Things like raising hands and dancing were to me a type of secret handshake that you learned after joining the club. Even after God showed up in my life and I put my faith in Him, I would say to myself ” but I still won’t be one of those crazies.”
    My, how God has a flare for irony. He takes that guy, gives him a passion for music, and then introduces him to Mr Adam who asks him to join the worship team once a week for like 3 months! ( ok a little exaggerated but close, and I have since thanked him for it!)
    Now I’m caught with these old accusing thoughts when I think of praising God with my hands, or crossing our social norms and displaying pure joy in the midst of the congregation. Sometimes I do it anyway, and can’t stop thinking that all of your eyes are on me in that moment, then I tell myself that it is not about me and my stupid hands! ARGH!
    But I love standing in the back, away from the eyes, keep the lights low…..and I can finally silence my own accusations. That is why I also love concerts so much, I’m anonymous and it’s dark! I hope and pray this study can move me to a more comfortable place that I can be myself and shed some insecurities.
    I have talked with my wife Amber about this and my realization that I have a responsibility to lead others while I am playing not only with my instrument but with my actions and posture. And knowing me (like a good spouse does) she advised “you can’t do something on stage that you can’t do out in the congregation can you?” And of course the answer is NO. That would define me as an actor, and I won’t be one of those. I feel like when it all settles it come down to Luke 19:40 “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out” And I don’t want to be replaced by a stone….
    So that is my novel. I hope it is helpful maybe there is someone else that feels this way also.

    1. Bryan, that’s a hard thing to do. When you think of “crossing our social norms and displaying pure joy in the midst of the congregation” it is almost impossible to do so while consciously thinking about everyone around you. I understand completely. My desire for our congregation is that “socially-accepted” norms will include more energy and enthusiasm – but not in a manipulated kind of way. We can’t force PRAISE, so instead let’s faithfully pray for our congregation…especially over these next several weeks when Bryan is preaching on worship. I have a vision of our church coming out on the other side of this journey of discovery with a newfound appreciation for expressing our praise to God through song. Let’s pray that it happens.

  4. Bryan,

    I agree so much! I think one of the reasons that I have hesitated to be “demonstrative” about worship in the past is that I didn’t want to feel like a fake. I’m basically a rather quiet, introverted, UNdemonstrative type. Really. I admit that since I accepted Jesus as my hero and God, I shed a lot of fear of people that I grew up with. (I like the windshield sign that says,”Ain’t Skeered”.) And I don’t think a fear of people is what keeps you or other Christians from being demonstrative with worship. That just happened to be part of MY issue.

    I, too, thought it was odd when I first witnessed others worshiping with demonstrations other than singing. Actually, I think that first occasion was about 20 years ago, and I was in the balcony in a cathedral somewhere. That’s when I first discovered contemporary Christian music, too! I couldn’t sing along, because I didn’t know the songs, but I remember feeling the hair rising and crawling up and down the back of my neck. I don’t know if that was the Holy Spirit trying to get my attention or if I was just feeling really intimidated, but it did get my attention and gave me food for thought for years before I felt ready to raise my hands in worship.

    That brings me to a thought about yesterday’s study in PP. Moore reminded me that it is so impossible to praise God if we don’t know who we are praising. During my very casual discipling meetings with a good friend I ride horses with, I try to mention basic qualities about our God so that my friend will understand Him better. His qualities of faithfulness, holiness and perfect judgment (and mercy) are hard to understand or fathom if we have not done a significant amount of Biblical study. The more I learn about Him, the easier it is for me to commit myself to true worship, no matter what form that takes. (And I pray that God will reveal those qualities about Himself to my children, who don’t understand him well enough yet!)

    All that being said, I do feel that there are times to approach worship in different ways. Sometimes I don’t even sing. Sometimes I just mouth the words if I’m so overcome with conviction that I’m focusing on the ramifications for myself. Sometimes I just listen with my eyes closed. And one thing I don’t want to do is distract others from their focus on worship. I may be transferring my distractibility to others unduly, but most of the time I need to close my eyes to actually focus on God. However, that reminds me that if I am doing something (hands up, waving, swaying, whatever) that might be distracting to others, they can always close their eyes in order to focus on their worship. (“it’s not about me and my stupid hands!” I love that!)

    Lesly

    1. Good comments, Lesly. Your second to last paragraph really seems to sum up week #3 about knowing our God who we worship. I agree, too, that there is no cookie-cutter formula for the worshiper. If everyone in the room is all doing the same thing it seems fake and contrived to me. I think part of the point of worship is expression. Expression of what’s in our hearts. However that looks…or sounds…I am okay with it. Whatever the situation, I try to make sure I’m not doing what I’m doing for any kind of show.

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