Archives For Worship

HandsAs we saw in last week’s article, worship is three-directional: inward, outward, and upward. Conveniently, Hebrews 13:15-16 touches on all three of these aspects of a worshipping life. Please read that passage now. Notice that the passage concludes with these words: “for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”

The aspect we are focusing on today is the third direction: worship pointed upward, toward God. It’s what most folks think of when they hear the word worship. In Hebrews 13:15 the upward direction involves two specific actions: praise and thanksgiving: “Let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (NKJV). Praise is primarily acknowledging God for who he is. Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is giving thanks to God for what he has done for us. In this lesson we will focus on the priority of being thankful.

We can be sure nothing ever happens to us that our loving God doesn’t permit. After all, like Moses, he protects us “in the cleft of the rock” as he covers us with his mighty hand (Exodus 33:22, NKJV). His rod of correction…

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DirectionsAt some point in your life, you may have been as I was (and so many in our churches still are!). Anytime you heard the word worship, you assumed that word mostly referred to singing, clapping, and talking to God. Worship is actually much more than that: True biblical worship encompasses our entire lives. In fact, in his book The Ultimate Priority, John MacArthur Jr. explains that for our worship to be “whole-life” it must include three aspects or directions. Most certainly, we worship God when we focus directly on him, pointing our worship upward (as we normally think of worship). However, we should also worship God inwardly. The third direction we should worship him is outwardly, to those around us.1

Three Directions of Worship

You might think of three-directional worship like this: Imagine you say to your boss, “You are the greatest boss to ever walk the face of the earth. Furthermore, this is the best job I’ve ever had or ever will have. In fact, I practically worship at your feet for just letting me do this job every day.” (Am I laying it on thick enough yet?) OK, having said such…

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Arm WrestlingI have to admit that I’m growing weary of the “Is it better to be relevant or obedient” arguments. Frankly, it’s wasting a lot of time and energy, plus, it’s causing division and isn’t helping the cause. Here’s why:

1. We’re not even using the word correctly.  By definition, “relevance” isn’t about popularity, being cool, being liked, or by extension, compromise. Relevance is about the right thing at the right time. It’s about being connected to the matter at hand. It’s about the right tool, strategy, message, or idea that fills a need. What could be more important in sharing the gospel? By misinterpreting and condemning the word “relevance” we’re closing the door on important and critical ways it could be used to reach this culture with the gospel.

2. Relevance and obedience actually work together.  Using the word correctly, if you’re obedient, then you’re relevant. In our obedience, God uses us to be the right answer at the right time. Anything else is disobedience and irrelevance.

3. The relevance versus obedience argument is a slippery slope.  It can too easily imply our superiority and godliness, and minimize other’s efforts to share…

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The Priority of Praise

By Dwayne Moore

PraiseHave you ever looked out the window of an airplane just before it pierces the clouds and noticed how much of the terrain you could see from that one vantage point? You suddenly begin to realize just how enormous this earth of ours really is.

Imagine with me now that we’re “flying over” and looking down at praise. As we take a broad view of praise, we’ll begin to notice two things that show just how important to the Lord praise really is. First, we’ll realize that praise, like land and water seen from an airplane, stretches as far as the mind can perceive in all directions. It is infinitely vast.

Praise Is Prevalent

As we scan the “plains of praise,” we see many landmarks that give us a clear picture of how far-reaching praise to God is:

God’s people have always praised him. I’ve been a praise leader for a long time. In fact, I was leading worship “when worship wasn’t cool.” It’s exciting now to see just how far praise has come. More and more churches and individual Christians are embracing greater freedom in worship. Praise is no longer just for “that…

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Worship LeadingWe recently started a unique and needed community for worship leaders. We call it the Asaph Generation (AsaphGeneration.com). Why the name “Asaph Generation,” you might ask? Simply put, we want to be part of a generation of worship leaders who leave a godly legacy in worship ministry–like Asaph did!

The Asaph Generation is an exclusive community committed to 1) whole-life worship of God, 2) musical excellence, and 3) investing our lives in others. These three qualities really define Asaph’s life…

1. Asaph was a worshiper. Read any of the twelve psalms he was credited for writing (Psalm 50 and 73-83), and you’ll immediately know that Asaph (pronounced “aw-sawf’) was a passionate worshiper of God, who was growing in his relationship with God. He wasn’t perfect, but he really wanted to please the Lord.

Passages like the following help us see how well Asaph “got” worship:

  • “But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God” (Psalm 50:23. NLT).
  • “But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign LORD my shelter, and…

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LibertyUChoirIt was five years ago, on a hot August night in Orlando, Florida that I unintentionally entered into one of the deepest valleys of my life. I had been fighting a summer cold, but throughout the weekend had been singing through it…as always. However, on this night, as I was singing along, I went up to hit a high note, and suddenly there was no voice…no sound. I came back down and then tried it again, and nothing…not a peep. So for the rest of the night, whenever I had to sing a high note, I would choose a lower note instead and tried to simply survive the rest of the concert.

A few days later, after I had rested my voice, I tried to sing again…and still nothing. It slowly went from bad to worse. So after about a month, I finally went to the doctor where he discovered a polyp on my left vocal fold. He then said these words. “Outside of a miracle, unless you get this surgically removed, you will not be able to sing.”

Suddenly I was faced with a crisis. I had never even considered what life…

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Cleanse

I hate to feel sweaty and dirty. In fact, anytime I come in from exercising or working out in my yard, I immediately head for the shower! I love feeling clean (and I’m sure all those around me appreciate it, too!).

In the same kind of way, we should want to always keep a clean heart before God. Our goal should be to live in a constant state of forgiveness. Notice I didn’t say a constant state of perfection. Unfortunately, we will sin on occasion. However, anytime we get “dirty,” we should confess it instantly and then trust God to cleanse us completely. Remember, neither the Lord nor the world needs to be around “stinking” Christians!

If we’re to enjoy clean living every day, we need to embrace two important habits: accountability and self-examination. Being accountable to another person or persons we respect and trust is a powerful deterrent to sin. When you know someone else will be asking you the “tough questions,” you think twice before indulging in things you shouldn’t. Also, accountability partners encourage and challenge us to grow in our faith and do the things we should do. Ecclesiastes 4:12 tells us,…

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Assembly LineAt Valley View Church, our vision for the worship and creative arts ministry is to be a “sculpturing factory.” The analogy of a factory works especially well in the southwest area of Louisville, where our church is located. Many of our members work at the Ford plants or the major UPS hub nearby, so it’s easy for them to understand and relate to this simple word-picture of our vision.

Below are some particulars, which help explain our “factory” model of ministry:

Products

We have 3 “products” (or goals) that our worship ministry aims to produce:

  1. Quality worship services (based on Psalm 33:3)
  2. Quality worshipers (based on Matthew 28:18)
  3. Quality worship leaders (based on 2 Timothy 2:2)

Chief Operator

The Lord, “the Author and Finisher of our faith,” is the Chief Operator who directs the sculpturing process. He determines the speed of the conveyor belts and the pace that each “product” is produced. (After all, they’re His worship services and His worshipers!)

Conveyor Belts

We have strategies in place, which act as “conveyor belts” moving everything along. These strategic processes rarely change. We believe they are biblical, logical and effective in any situation to produce the results…

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God's PresenceA few weeks ago a friend and I were glancing through a Christian magazine and noticed how often people referred to “God’s presence.” It’s a hot topic these days.

In his kindness and mercy, God often reveals his active presence to us. By “active” presence I mean God’s presence as distinct from his omnipresence and his promised presence, both of which we accept by faith. Whether we “feel” it or not, God is present when his Word is faithfully preached, when his people meet in Jesus’ name, when we celebrate the Lord’s supper, when we sing, and we were serve in his power (1 Tim. 6:13; 1 Cor. 5:4; Mt. 18:20; 1 Cor. 11:27-32; Acts 10:33; Eph. 5:18-19; 1 Pet. 4:10-11). At those times and others we can know that God is with us, empowering what we do.

But there are times when God makes his presence known more clearly, more tangibly. Like in 1 Cor. 14:25, when the secrets of a man’s heart are revealed by prophetic words and he declares, “God is really among you” (1 Cor. 14:25). We experience it when our hearts are flooded with peace, or we…

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Saddleback Art GalleryOver a decade ago, many churches embraced a toolbox full of options for designing worship services including music, video, drama, dance, visual art, poetry, spoken word, stories and testimonies, guided prayers, and interactive exercises.  These days, it’s almost exclusively music and video. Certainly music and video are art forms, but what about the other tools?

There are many reasons to explain what happened.  Developing arts teams in a variety of disciplines is expensive, complicated, messy, and inherently risky.  I believe that several churches attempted to do more than their resources allowed them to do well.  As I’ve often said, the only thing worse than no drama is bad drama!  Sadly, any art form done poorly will be written off as a poor investment.  So instead of recognizing that each of these art forms should only be used as often as they can be done with excellence, we write them off and stay safe.  I also recognize that a church with solid Biblical teaching, engaging worship music, and a little video, can be a prevailing, healthy community.  So why rock the boat?

I believe it is time for another renaissance of art…

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Once churches discovered the value of video, the multi-site and satellite campus model went from a handful of mega churches to tens of thousands of churches. With this explosion of multi-site churches, a separate venue utilized as another service style option – or even just a simple way to make more room –  has also been gaining popularity on existing church campuses. In both cases, I have found that there are 4 types of church video venues. For churches considering video venues or multi-site campuses, I am presenting these 4 types of video venues as helpful research that looks beyond the venue to the technology and logistics required for effective services.

Type 1 – Overflow Video Venue

Growing churches will find themselves running out of space in their main meeting venue. A seemingly simple step is to open up another part of the facility, run a video and audio cable to the room and fire up a projector and portable sound system. Voila! A “video venue” is born. Well, not really. While the concept of space-sharing is great, the implementation of the technology and the logistics of planning are…

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FreshAll of us prefer food that is fresh. In much the same way, God enjoys people who are “fresh,” Christians who still have the joy of the Lord and a passion to know Him more, no matter what age they are. These are the ones who represent Him best because they demonstrate the fresh life He is inside them.

The pressures of ministry, family and life in general can wear us down and tire us out. How can we remain fresh from week to week and year to year? How can we maintain our joy and passion for serving God? Psalm 92:12-15 gives us the answer: “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon, planted in the house of the Lord; they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.’” Here, the godly life is compared to healthy, growing trees in God’s court.

There are three important ingredients in this passage that are absolutely necessary…

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