When We Become the Focus of Worship (Pt 1) . . .

I must admit that I was faced with disappointment this past Easter. I went to a local charismatic church to worship the risen Lord and instead all I heard was songs about us and what we are going to do, instead of what the Lord has done . . .

Consider the opening song, “I Raise a Hallejuah.” Now I know that the song is supposed to encourage us with an upbeat energetic melody, but do we even pay attention to the lyrics?

I raise a hallelujah, in the presence of my enemies
I raise a hallelujah, louder than the unbelief
I raise a hallelujah, my weapon is a melody
I raise a hallelujah, heaven comes to fight for me

I’m gonna sing, in the middle of the storm
Louder and louder, you’re gonna hear my praises roar
Up from the ashes, hope will arise
Death is defeated, the King is alive!

Somehow we equate us with singing louder to having more faith in the midst of trials. It puts the emphasis about what we are going to do. I am reminded two different events in scripture:

  • Psalm 23:1-6 ESV – 1 A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
  • Luke 8:22-25 ESV – 22 One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, 23 and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. 24 And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”

In neither of those two events was getting louder necessary to have faith. Because then faith rests upon us, instead of who we trust. (Before you start quoting the Psalms about “Shouting to the Lord” wait until after Part 2).

So let’s rewrite that song according the words inspired by the Holy Spirit in Scripture:

You make me lie down, in pastures where you’ve guided me
You lead me to still waters, where you restore my soul inside of me
Though I walk through the valley, your rod and staff shall comfort me
You prepare me a table, to feast amongst my enemies

I’m gonna sleep, in the middle of the storm
Louder and louder, you’re gonna hear my snoring roar
Up to the deck, you will arise
The storm is defeated, why should I be surprised?

One view of faith is that God calms us as he defeats the storms and enemies of life. The other says when we get all worked up we are really going to show the devil how much faith we really have!!!!

  • Isaiah 30:15-16 ESV – 15 For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling, 16 and you said, “No! We will flee upon horses”; therefore you shall flee away; and, “We will ride upon swift steeds”; therefore your pursuers shall be swift.

Getting louder in the midst of battle mostly demonstrates our unbelief and fear. And to suggest that we need to be louder as a demonstration of faith is what I see as a huge face palm by God (if he ever does so). There is a time for shouting and celebrating, but that is to rejoice for the most part in the victory afterwards of having seen God move on our behalf while we remained steadfast through the storm or battle.

Jesus did not get louder than the storm, he calmed the storm.

It never ceases to amaze me how even in a church of 50 with a carpeted floor, padded chairs and sound buffer ceilings, that the worship leader cranks the reverb to represent singing in stadium with echoing sound effects. It is as if God is displeased with us if we worship small in number. God knows our size and is not embarrassed:

  • 1 Samuel 14:6 KJV – 6 And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for [there is] no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few.

Sometimes the largest battles ever won are done so by the Lord with the fewest.

The unspoken theology is that being louder equates to more faith. I remember taking my small children to hear their uncle preach a message to us and six other people, shouting his message the whole way through. My oldest must have been around 5 or 6 and asked, “Why is he so angry and yelling at us?” What appeared to be faith by shouting loudly by my brother in law, came across as anything but in the eyes of a child.

There is no teaching by Jesus anywhere in the Gospels that do demonstrate faith or perform spiritual warfare you have to sing a little louder. You may not be able to sell as many worship songs., but by teaching people through faith to remain calm in the midst of the storm, you will be more like Jesus sleeping soundly below deck.

As always, love much my friends, both to the agitated ones and the calm ones . . .

Editors Note: The “Jesus calming the storm” was added for emphasis on the main point after initially writing the blog.

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