So now that we’ve reached the end of the book, we have a pretty good idea of what the ultimate worship service looks like and how we can seek to experience it? We are now aware that there are many different aspects that must come together so that we worship God in spirit and truth. I personally can realize the potential we have in worship and it gives me a great desire to experience these pleasures of God that can be found in the river of His Holy Spirit within corporate worship.
We understand the importance of leading worship and not just a list of songs. We realize the value of preparation with the flexibility of allowing for spontaneity. We know that old songs unite us as a body and new songs have the power to propel us deep into the river of God. Finally we know that each one of us plays a vital role as members of the Body of Christ because together we are His bride. Our cooperation in worship is essential to experiencing the Holy Spirit through the river of God.
So what is this worship experience all about again? Who is this One that brings us all together in such adoration, praise and thanksgiving? He is Jesus Christ our Savior, our King, our God and our Bridegroom. John the Baptist however referred to Him as, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” That is after all why He came into the world, to serve us and to love us with a love that could not be surpassed, by laying down His life for His friends; even while His friends were still sinners. He fulfilled the law perfectly and redeemed us to Himself by allowing His flesh to be torn and His blood to be poured out. He being perfectly righteous and innocent took our place. He took on our sin and our curse in order to purchase us so that we would belong to Him forever.
Christ the risen Lamb; He is what we’re living for. He is our hope of eternal life and our bright future. As believers in Him we must continue to seek Him and know Him and ask for revelation of what He did for us on the cross. It will cause us to grow evermore grateful, confident and free when we increase in the understanding of this truth.
This was the Apostle Paul’s heart cry: to know Christ and the power of His resurrection. He prayed for it, he believed for it and he experienced it. He walked in the power of the Holy Spirit and was willing to die for the Gospel because he knew he had something greater than anything in this world could offer: his Lord Jesus Christ. We too ought to seek the knowledge and experience of God’s power. According to 2nd Corinthians 2:5, this is what our faith is to rest upon: not in man’s wisdom but in God’s power.
We become what we behold. The more time we spend beholding Jesus the more we become like Him. As we become more like Him we become increasingly grateful and thankful for who He is and what He did for us. Let us behold our precious Lamb who took away the sins of the world.
What’s the difference between worship in heaven and here on earth? Well for one, in heaven there is a great multitude of people and they are all participating. They can actually see God on His throne, not to mention the glory and fire that comes from it. They are in the immediate presence of the Lord God. In heaven no one needs to be encouraged to worship God because they can’t help but do so. They can feel the river of God’s love wash over them in great waves. They are so caught up in the glory of God that to do anything else would be out of place.
There is a distinct contrast from earthly worship and heavenly worship in which every member of the multitude is engaged with one voice giving praise to the Lord. Many times when we come together to worship on earth the worship team is worshipping while many in the congregation are unengaged. They are leading us into worship but we’re not following; we’re just watching as though we were attending a concert. When we meet together we need to worship and not just watch, to participate and not just sit idly by. Corporate cooperation is essential to breakthrough and encounter with the living God. The Lord can meet with us when we’re not expecting it but I believe that He enjoys much more meeting with His bride when she is expectant, fully engaged, interested and passionate about Him and what He is doing. Therefore everyone who makes up the Bride of Christ ought to get involved.
Ultimately, we can’t be dependent on worship leaders to worship for us. Worship teams aren’t formed for the purpose of worshipping God in our stead. It is not their responsibility to set our hearts on fire for God; that is the work of the Holy Spirit. The role of a worship leader is that of giving a congregation direction and order within a given service. We all have a responsibility to be engaged in praise, worship and thanks to God personally and privately in our own lives. We can’t be content with watching others who are on fire for God; we too are capable by the Holy Spirit’s help to be a burning ones ourselves, ones who burn with passion for Him.
When everyone is engaged in worship everyday of their lives then when we meet together to worship as a body, the experience should be even more powerful. Everyone’s hearts will already be burning so that the fire spreads and the passion is even greater. The bottom line that Bob shares in this chapter is that the multitude should be the ones leading worship and the worship team ought to follow what the Holy Spirit is doing in the hearts of the multitude. We need to know our identity and realize that as sons and daughters of God, we have His attention. Jesus Christ has made the way for us to come boldly before the throne of grace to worship Him and experience Him on the sea of glass like the great multitude in heaven does.
In this chapter Bob shares about the secular band the Grateful Dead who was very popular many years ago. They were known not so much for any hit songs but rather for their live concerts. Their concerts were so energetic, fun and powerful because they would venture off into brand new songs that had never been played or thought up before. After playing all their normal rehearsed songs they would go off into this creative world of experimentation, invention and improvisation.
When the band entered into this higher musical realm everyone there could feel the atmosphere change as a new spiritual energy or mood surrounded them. The crowd would go crazy and dance as they listened to this new song being created and discovered before their very eyes. I believe that in these moments they actually tasted a bit of God’s original intention for music. Music can shift spiritual energies just as David did when he sang and played his guitar for King Saul.
I think one of the main points Bob makes in this chapter is that if people at a secular concert can experience such an exciting and dynamic moment through music how much more should the church. Some of us may be familiar with the experiments that have been performed in the world of science that reveal the effects that different types of music have on the life of plants or on the formation of water crystals. In my own experience I have witnessed many times an intense feeling of peace simply listening to classical music in an orchestra hall. Although these pieces of music were first composed, arranged, rehearsed and finally performed they still produced a beautiful sense of peace in me.
The bottom line is that music is powerful. It’s a commonly held view in the church that Lucifer was given charge over worship in heaven. When he was cast out of heaven because of his pride he continued seeking worship for himself. We’ve often heard the saying that “misery loves company,” and this is true of Satan. He will do whatever it takes to keep people from knowing and worshipping Christ. This is true especially in the musically charged culture or our generation. By using the powerful medium of music he tricks the people of the world to seek satisfaction in false rivers that will never fulfill.
When we see people in the world going to secular concerts that promote sexual immorality, violence, drug-use or any other type of wickedness we can easily understand how music has the power to create a following. When we sing songs that we believe in whether good or bad they create a way of thinking in our minds that cause us to behave accordingly. Therefore if we’re singing spiritual songs that declare the truth of our identity in Christ and His love for us we will live in freedom and confidence. Proverb 23:7 says, “ As a man thinks in his heart so is he.” We will always live out that in which we believe; let’s choose to believe and sing the songs of truth and life.
Honestly I don’t know what to write for this chapter so I’m just going to give an overview of what Bob is sharing. He says that old worship songs and new worship songs play different roles in a worship service. He says that old songs join the generations together because everyone knows them. The old songs are like old truths that are still good; they’ve stood the test of time and their message is still as valid as ever. Old songs connect us to our history as a church reminding us where we’ve come from. Finally old songs are familiar and comfortable because we know them well and we enjoy singing them.
Conversely, new songs have different qualities of their own that are also valuable. For one they’re new and fresh. They bring with them a newness of life and power helping us to breakthrough and touch God or rather to be touched by God. Bob says that they can be a little uncomfortable for those learning to sing them at first and I agree. There is somewhat of a learning curve and a breaking in of the new song until it’s accepted and enjoyed like the old songs are. I feel like everyone is kind of hesitant with new things until they get used to them. Ecclesiastes says that there is “nothing new under the sun” which isn’t entirely true in some regards, but as far as songs are concerned I think some of the new songs we sing are just the same truths we already know, just sung in a different style with different words. Although there may also be truths we haven’t bothered to sing about yet.
The Bible exhorts us many times to, “sing to the Lord a new song.” The great thing about new songs is that the best ones are often spontaneous, unplanned and unrehearsed. They’re created as they’re being sung. Bob says these songs come “directly from the heart of a lovesick worshipper.” They come from deep within the soul of a child of God caught up in the moment of gazing upon our beautiful God. They’re formed from within, from one’s experience, struggle, trials, and from the refining work of the fire of the Holy Spirit within them. Spontaneous songs carry great power with them by causing us to break through the fog and to encounter God again in a new way. We listen to them as they’re being sung and we think to ourselves, “this is so true and so good and so pure.” When we see and hear the person through whom they come we see how God has caused their hearts to burn for Him and it encourages us to seek the same passion. I believe these songs bring with them a tremendous amount of hope and strength from the Lord to continue in faith, obedience and love towards Him. New songs have great power to awaken us again to the realities and promises of God.
Old songs and new songs are both vital in our worship services. Bob shares the importance of having a balanced mix of the two and the effectiveness of doing so. He tells us that the role of old songs is often to gather everyone together because of their familiarity. They unite us as one to flow down the river of God together. The role of the new songs is to propel us into the greater things the Lord has for us. These songs launch us into the deep waters of the Holy Spirit and His ministry. So the next time your worship find comfort in the old songs that remind you of the truth, and don’t be afraid of the new songs, for they may just thrust you into a greater knowledge and experience of God.
In this chapter Bob Sorge speaks of the Glorious Tapestry of God that is woven together by everyone’s involvement. This is a significant point in the sense that we are the body of Christ and we each have a role that another cannot do because they’re an ear or a foot or whatever. The body of Christ isn’t able to move efficiently or influence our world the way Jesus did unless everyone who identifies themselves as a member of the body participates.
Although the Lord can move without our involvement I believe He prefers that His Bride be interested in His work. God is so humble and kind to include us in what He is doing in the earth. He doesn’t call us slaves, but rather brothers, sisters, friends and ultimately His Bride, His partner who helps Him carry out His plans. When we believe in this Bridal identity that He has given His church our lives will be effective for Him.
The excuse we often give to keep from getting involved is that we don’t yet know what our role is. We don’t know whether God has called us to this or that, to be a teacher, prophet or evangelist. However until we know for certain what role God has called us to we have to realize that God has equipped us all to prayer and worship. I think one of our primary responsibilities is to seek the Lord through worship, prayer and intercession and to wait upon Him. After all that’s what Jesus did while He was on the earth and now that we represent His body we should learn to do the same.
God in His kindness can give us His Spirit apart from our asking but I think He especially loves to give good gifts to His children when they ask for them. Again He wants us involved and engaged with His heart by exercising our faith. He said that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness would be filled. The clearest indication of being hungry and thirsty is simply asking Him through prayer and fasting. Through asking we acknowledge that God is good and we want to experience Him more than anything else. I believe it strengthens our faith and gives us confidence in our heart that we are sons and daughters of the Most High God.
So there is no excuse not be engaged in worship, prayer or intercession. God is all about community involvement. When the early church of Acts gathered together daily in prayer the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost and thousands were saved. They received the promised Holy Spirit who empowered them to walk out their calling, whether that meant serving, teaching, healing or evangelizing. By His very presence the Holy Spirit eliminated a plethora of problems because He caused them to be of one heart and mind.
Sometimes we reap the good of what others have sown before us. We’re all at different stages in our walk with the Lord but if everyone would participate and be faithful with what the Lord has given them I believe the entire Body of Christ will benefit.
In the world of worship there are many people who are capable of learning to play a song that they’ve heard. In our information rich culture today, whenever anyone hears a new song they can quickly and easily search for the chords online and learn how to play it exactly the way it was arranged. Whether it’s an entire song, a guitar solo or a drumbeat we’ve become a society of “copyists”, as Bob puts it.
What often happens is that a worship artist releases a new song to the public and within 24 hours it’s being sung in every church across the nation. If you go onto Youtube and type in a song that you like you will inevitably discover a long list of “cover songs” performed by others. They may be slightly different from the original but they’re still a copy. That’s the difference between an artist and a copyist: an artist creates.
It’s similar to someone painting Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” There may be someone who has learned to paint brilliantly Van Gogh’s paintings with superb accuracy but they’re still not original. If that person wants to sell their copy it won’t sell for as much money as the original. The original will always be more valuable than the copy.
Now copying isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just not as creative. It takes time and thought to create something new and fresh. But it can be a beautiful process of discovering who God has made us to be. When we create our own songs they have a higher value and meaning. They come from the core of who we are, from our struggles and successes. These songs come forth from the fiery trials of life and from the depths of our soul.
Most of us are singing other people’s songs instead of our own. Although others’ songs can bring us freedom I believe that God wants us to look inside of our souls to find the songs He has reserved for us to write. Whether we speak or sing, our own voices have more impact and power on us than others’ do. Likewise our very own songs are more powerful to us because they’re personal to our experiences.
God knows we’re forgetful and because of this He wants us to look back and remember the places He has redeemed us from. When we look at our lives and recall how Jesus has set us free it reminds us of God’s goodness and we are compelled to rejoice in Him with thanksgiving and song. He loves us and wants to give us something to sing about.
Overall, when we lead worship services I think it is significant to sing others’ songs that have brought us healing in our lives. However I think it’s even more powerful to sing our own songs because they are our own personal testimony of the goodness of Christ. And that’s how we overcome: by the blood of the Lamb and the “song” of our testimony.