For we Christians are the true circumcision, who worship God in spirit and by the Spirit of God, and exult and glory and pride ourselves in Jesus Christ, and put no confidence or dependence on what we are in the flesh and on outward privileges and physical advantages and external appearances. (Philippians 3:3 AMP)
A few years ago I was a General Manager at a local Chick-fil-A restaurant. While I was there a directive came down from the home office for our employees to respond with “my pleasure” anytime our customers thanked us for our service. As Chick-fil-A employees it was our mission to ensure that each customer had a pleasurable experience when they came into our restaurant to eat. The “my pleasure” response was one way to let them know that we labored for that purpose.
Jesus said that true worshipers worship the Father in truth. What does it mean to worship the Father in truth? Let me suggest there are at least two answers to that question. The first is that true worshipers worship the Father in the truth about who He is. The second is that true worshipers worship the Father in the truth about who they are. Let’s look at the first one.
One of the early revelations God gave man of himself he gave to Moses.
Over the years I have received e-mails from pastors who are struggling with the idea of introducing contemporary worship music into their congregations. It seems their biggest fear is that their congregations might become divided by, as one pastor put it, the “ubiquitous worship wars.” Many churches have successfully dealt with this issue by scheduling an additional worship service for those who prefer a more contemporary approach to worship. But, that is not always possible nor necessarily the solution.
A few years ago I was leading worship one Saturday evening with a friend of mine at his church. We were well into the service when I began to hear voices coming from our monitor speakers. The only person singing through the sound system besides my friend and I was my wife. When the service was over we compared notes and realized that all of us had heard the voices. The only conclusion we could draw was that angels had decided to join us for the service. The worship of heaven had invaded the worship on earth.
It was in October of 1975 when I was 16 years old that I first remember kneeling at the altar to ask Jesus Christ to be my Lord and Savior. I didn’t feel particularly convicted or remorseful of my sin. Our family had attended church all my life so up until this point I was a pretty good kid morally. It could be that at some point earlier in my life I had asked Jesus to save me, but I remember at 16 thinking I should really make sure that this is a done deal. Besides, there were some other kids in our youth group who were making that decision and if they were going to heaven I wanted to go with them.
In 1992 some friends and I attended a Regional Worship Leaders Institute Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The first evening of the conference worship leader/song writer Steve Fry shared a conversation that took place between him and God. I can’t remember every detail of the story, but the main points had an impact on my view of worship.
For many years now, like most Christian families, in our home we have made it a tradition to give thanks before meals. When our children were younger and all still lived at home, I would choose one of them to say the blessing. Usually it was a short prayer, very short, and most of the time the blessing was the same prayer each time. I also noticed that the younger children would often pray the same prayer as the older children. The substance and the length of the prayer was never really an issue with me, but I did want my children to understand that God provided for our meals and to learn to have a grateful heart for his provision. My hope was that the gratefulness for food would also spill over to every part of their lives.
I can remember when my wife and I were dating. Many times when we would go out to eat, we hardly talked. We spent much of our time just looking at each other. The unspoken words said a lot about our feelings for each other. Of course the words came in time, but it was during those times of gazing that our hearts and souls began to knit together. Those times of gazing have grown into a wonderful intimate relationship.
Have you ever felt the excitement of being chosen for something? I can vividly remember the process of choosing softball or football team for physical education class at school. The two best athletes were chosen as team captains. They would flip a coin to see who chose first. The rest of us would wait anxiously hoping to be chosen in the first round by the better of two athletes. Though sometimes a captain might choose his best friend first, most of the time he would choose the “best of the rest” first in order to obtain the superior team.