Thursday, September 18, 2014

How does worship impact your view of God?

When I was doing my DMin one of the privileges I had was to have Elmer Towns as the professor in two of my classes. I had always appreciated his writings, but sitting under him in class made me appreciate him even more. He loves teaching, and he loves the Lord, and it showed in the way he taught his classes.

As part of my devotional reading I am re-reading his book Praying the Lord's Prayer for Spiritual Breakthrough: Daily Praying the Lord's Prayer As A Pathway Into His Presence. Near the end of the book he writes this about worship:

Remember that when you magnify God, you do not make Him bigger or better. Your worship is like putting on reading glasses. Your glasses do not make the letters larger on the paper, but only in your eyes and mind. When you magnify God, you see Him "bigger," so you understand things better.

Perhaps the reason so many people have such a limited view of God is that they have failed to worship. This is even true for Christians. They may attend church and participate in the services, but their minds and hearts are elsewhere. They leave the service unchanged, and their view of God is unchanged as well.

I have long taught that the purpose of worship is to enable people to experience God in a way that is meaningful to them. If they are involved in a meaningful worship experience it is going to change them, and it is going to change their view of God. They will see him "high and lifted up." They will begin to have a glimpse of his incredible love for his creation and experience that love for themselves. They will see him, not as a cosmic Santa Claus, but as the creator and Lord of the entire universe.

Several years ago a group of us attended a Promise Keeper's event. During the worship one of the men in our group began to cry uncontrollably. I had known this gentleman for a number of years and had never seen such emotion from him. We thought maybe something was wrong, but he explained that the music and worship had just become overwhelming. Although he was a dedicated Christian, in that moment God had broken through and had given this gentleman a new revelation of his glory. It was a powerful moment for each of us, and it came as we were engaged in worship.

In my current ministry position I have the opportunity to visit different churches nearly every week. In some, it is evident that little effort was spent in developing the worship service. In some cases, it is thrown together whenever the pianist arrives that morning, and it shows. Your people deserve better. They deserve a worship experience that will allow them to touch God. If you want your people to have a higher view of God create a worship experience each week that will lead to such a view.

One of the challenges for pastors and other worship leaders is to lead worship and experience worship at the same time. We typically have many things on our minds as the service progresses making it difficult for us to worship God. Your ministry responsibilities is no substitute for worship.  It is just as important for us to experience worship as it is for the members of our congregation. That is one reason it is so important that ministry leaders have regular times of private worship. For some of us that may mean going on periodic spiritual retreats. Each of us needs regular times of devotion when our reading and prayers are not for others but are only designed to draw us closer to God. Being faithful at that will help maintain the proper view of God.

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