Week 5 Chronicles: Exuberant Praise

30Nov2014

Week 5 Chronicles is an occasional series on experiments in worship formats.

Every church has its own worship style and tradition. Whatever form your expression of worship takes, I believe that true worship must be exuberant.

Why?

Because we serve a God of superlatives. His worth is matchless. And his sacrifice for us was extravagant. Romans 8:32 says this: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

Luke 15 portrays God as the prodigal Father, wasteful in his actions towards a son who had wished his father dead and who should have deserved the scorn of society.

If this is the God we serve, then I think this calls for a matching response in our worship and adulation.

This is what Mary did in Luke 7. She brought a sacrifice which many called wasteful.

David danced with all his might. His wife called him undignified.

When you worship extravagantly, the world notices. It elicits a response. Some will be inspired. Others will cast judgment. An extravagant sacrifice is polarising.

Is there room for silent contemplation as a form of worship? Absolutely. Habakkuk 2:20 says:

But the Lord is in his holy temple;

Let all the earth be silent before him.

But that is only the starting point. Immediately following this, Habakkuk 3 records the following:

A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On shigionoth:

“Lord, I have heard of your fame;

I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord.

Renew them in our day,

In our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.”

In the Amplified Version, shigionoth is translated as “to set to wild, enthusiastic, and triumphal music“. When was the last time you heard some wild worship in church?

Second Samuel 6 says that when David brought the ark up to Jerusalem, the procession was accompanied with shouting, and David was leaping and dancing. When King Solomon dedicated the temple in 2 Chronicles 5, there were so many musicians that I’m sure the sound of worship couldn’t be contained with acoustic padding (an accessory conspicuously missing from the temple furnishings)!

I would hazard a guess that God’s preferred worship volume is loud!

For those of us from a more conservative background, let’s start where we are. If lifting up hands is a bit of a struggle, push through into that expression first. Do the “carry the TV” before you go for the full “battle axe”.

But my encouragement to us is to keep pushing the boundary of extravagant expression.

Last Sunday was our last Sunday meeting in our usual auditorium for a few months whilst it undergoes renovation. Our worship director Dave decided that we should do a service focussing on exuberant praise. The idea was for the worship team to model what this meant for the rest of the church. Our lighting team introduced the haze machine and some intelligent lights called “Intimidators” (nice!). And we deliberately hit hard on the jumping, dancing and shouting. One of our singers said that they felt a bit uncomfortable at first, but after seeing me and Dave going for it, it would have actually been awkward to hold back!

Passion is infectious. And I hope that last Sunday’s worship infected our congregation with new found passion in their praise.

Here’s the recording:

So keep teaching and modelling exuberant worship for your congregation. When we get to heaven, there isn’t going to be medium praise. It’s going to be singing in a loud voice “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!” (Rev 5:12).

 

 

 

Reflections on Worship Ministry from the Life of Bezalel

During Sunday’s message, Ps Benny Ho made an interesting observation. He asked “who was the first person in the Bible to be filled with the Spirit?”. The answer: Bezalel.

Here’s the reference in Exodus 31:

Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts…. Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you: the tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant law with the atonement cover on it, and all the other furnishings of the tent— the table and its articles, the pure gold lampstand and all its accessories, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, the basin with its stand— and also the woven garments, both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when they serve as priests, and the anointing oil and fragrant incense for the Holy Place. They are to make them just as I commanded you.”

Notice that the Bezalel was not only the first person in the Bible to be filled with the Spirit, but he is also a creative guy. So it got me looking at this passage a bit closer to see what lessons we can learn in the context of worship ministry.

First. Being filled with the Spirit is an essential element of worship ministry. If you were asked what is the distinguishing feature of worship ministry, it is that worship ministry (and in fact, all ministry to the Lord) is uncommon and therefore holyand sacred.

Second. Worship ministers minister with skill, knowledge and understanding. The temple furnishings weren’t only ornate, intricate and beautiful (thereby requiring great skill to produce), but I believe the crafters understood the underlying spiritual significance of what the ornaments represented. Musicians and worship leaders do more than just facilitate music and singing. They have a responsibility to represent God and His Word to the congregation and lead the congregation into a deeper knowledge of God and his ways. This means that worship ministers must not only be skilled in music, they must also be skilled in His Word.

Third. Bezalel is from the tribe of Judah (which means “praise”). The house of God is built with praise!

Fourth. Moses had the vision and blueprint from God to build the Tent of Meeting. Bezalel and his team used their skill to fulfill Moses’ vision. Worship ministers must stand alongside their leaders and support the vision to build God’s house!

Fifth. Bezalel means “overshadowed by God”. When the glory of God appears, the Bible says that it “overshadows” the worshippers. In Matthew 17:5, a cloud “overshadowed” the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration as the voice of God affirmed Jesus as God’s son. And in Luke 1:35, the angel told Mary that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and the power of God would “overshadow” her, leading to her conceiving the Son of God. When God overshadows us, we become pregnant with His purposes and destiny. Ultimately, Jesus is made known in all His fullness.

So there are five brief thoughts from the life of Bezalel. May it inspire us to continually seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit as we minister in worship.