Magnifying the Greatness of God

At the end of choir rehearsal last night, we began defining the role of a faithful worship leader (as laid out by Bob Kauflin in “Worship Matters”). The matter of first importance in the church’s weekly worship gatherings is to magnify the greatness of God; not a reduced God, not a pop-culture God, not a God we invent to touch our felt needs or one we conjure up through the illusion of emotionalism, but a God who is awesome, holy, beyond comprehension; God in all of His greatness because, indeed, “…His greatness is unsearchable.” (Psalm 145:3) In short, we need to present and magnify God as He has revealed Himself in Scripture. Scripture gives us the telescopic view of God rather than a microscopic one (see Piper, “Don’t Waste Your Life,” ch. 2). In order for worship to be biblical and faithful, it must be guided by God’s Word.

So, as we prepare for worship this Sunday, and as we meditate on magnifying God’s greatness, I thought I would follow up with a few exhortations, as well as some Scriptures at the end.

  1. Magnifying the greatness of God corporately is only as authentic as He is magnified in me personally.
    Worship begins in the heart and works its way out in our expression of it. Little, if any, eternal significance is registered if this is not in order. How is God being magnified in the meditations of your heart? Your thoughts? Your words? Does it authenticate your public magnification of Him?
  2. Volunteer ministry leaders aren’t responsible for the content of a service, but you are responsible for how you lead (and live) worship.
    Your job is not to plan the weekly service. That is the task of our pastor, myself, and other paid staff, to a certain degree. You are not on the hook for that, but you do have to answer for your level of preparation in heart, mind, skill, and talent as well as your daily conduct and example of worship. Have you prepared before you arrived for worship? How faithful have you been in rehearsals and taking them seriously? How tuned in are you during a service? How do you magnify God when you walk off the stage?
  3. Always expect your pastor and church staff to make God’s greatness primary in worship.
    We are a congregation, and pastors and ministers serve the flock. You should never settle for less from your pastors – wherever and whenever you are in life – than magnifying the greatness of God in every aspect of corporate worship. In every sermon, in every song, in every prayer, in every announcement. If not explicit, it should at least be implicit. Every time. Always. Graciously, lovingly hold us accountable.

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments and untraceable His ways!” (Romans 11:33) In the words of Kauflin, “How could anyone ever think worshiping God is boring?”

For further reading, here are the Scriptures I read last night and more: Isaiah 40:12-26; 46; 55; 59:16; 63:5-14; 65; 66

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Worship at Stevens Street – Sunday, February 3

Here are the highlights in our worship order for this Sunday:

Baptisms (10:30a) – Tessa Briggs, Thomas Rector
Call to Worship – led by Matt Bragga
Songs:
“O God, Our Help in Ages Past”
“Our God”
“Hosanna” (Hillsongs)
Baby Dedication of Bren Rainer
Message – John 2:1-11 – Pastor Sam Rainer
Dismissal – 1 Chronicles 29:11-13

My Life: What Do I Model

From “Worship Matters” by Bob Kauflin, chapter 5

My Life: What Do I Model?

-“Leading worship starts with how I live my life.” – Kauflin
-We lead worship with our lives more extensively and with greater impact than while on stage.
-Question I must ask: Do I want to lead people to worship God? If yes, then my life will show it. It will be the first place I show leadership.

“…be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” 1 Tim. 4:12

in speech – Js. 3:8-10 “blessing and cursing;” Eph. 4:29 “let no corrupt communication…;” Prov. 18:21 “life and death are in the power of the tongue”
-the same mouth used in ordinary conversation is the one that sings praises on stage
-with our mouths, we honor God, edify others, point them to Christ
-Col. 4:6 “gracious, seasoned with salt;” Titus 2:8 “beyond reproach”

in conduct & purity – “The standard for leading worship isn’t sinless perfection. But there has to be a consistent lifestyle of godliness.” – Kauflin
-with speech, our words lead people to worship
with conduct, our actions lead people to worship
-this may be the primary place where we gain our qualification to lead worship, because it is in the hidden places of the heart where we truly honor God and receive His anointing. We can easily fool others, but not God.
-Titus 2:14 “He gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a people for His own possession, eager to do good works.”
-Purity begins in the inward motives of the heart and works outward to areas of sexuality (dress, how we relate to others)
-Purity speaks to Christ in us. It is clean, smells like Christ, and leads others to worship.

in love – grounded in Christ’s sacrificial and holy character
-my love for and worship of God is authenticated by my love for others
-1 Corinthians 13:4-7 “love is patient, love is kind…is not boastful, is not selfish…rejoices in the truth…bears…believes…hopes…endures all things.”
-A gracious, humble, winsome, loving spirit connects and is contagious; leads people to worship
-1 John 3:18 “…we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action.”
-What does our example of love look like in relationships and conversations off the stage? At work? At home?

in faith – We have to believe the truths we sing if we want authentic, spirit and truth worship and if we want others to be led to Him.
-We model worship by our example of faith
-Heb. 11:6 “God is and rewards those who seek Him.”
-Not just in our songs but in every aspect of life.
-We also set an example in our faithfulness in the church’s ministry: serving, LifeGroup, worship.
-Our example authenticates our stage leadership.

I want to bring God glory in every area of life. That should be my passion and desire.

Worship at Stevens Street – Sunday, January 27

In our worship time this Sunday, we will be observing Sanctity of Human Life Sunday with Nancy Knowlton from the Cookeville Pregnancy Clinic as our guest. This week marks the 40th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. As always, the gospel will form our worship because it is Christ alone who makes worship possible and acceptable to God. It is only the gospel that will affect any change in the condition of our nation, too. Its transforming work can accomplish what legislation and jurisprudence cannot. So, we will make our boast in the cross as we seek His mercy.

Here is the service line-up:

Scripture greeting/call to worship – John Aaron Matthew

Songs – “This Is My Father’s World”/”Majestic”/”God Is Able”/”Great Is Thy Faithfulness”/”God, You Are God”

Cookeville Pregnancy Clinic ministry report – Nancy Knowlton

Offering

Hymn – “Speak, O Lord”

Message – Pastor Sam Rainer

Scripture Blessing – 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

 

 

 

Jesus as Worship Leader and Order of Service for January 20

I am looking forward to leading worship with you this Sunday. As we discussed in choir rehearsal last night, when we gather, Jesus is our chief worship leader, conducting worship from heaven. In Romans 15:8-9, Jesus is pictured singing in the church:

“For I say that the Messiah became a servant of the circumcised on behalf of God’s truth, to confirm the promises to the fathers, and so that Gentiles may glorify God for His mercy. As it is written:

‘Therefore I will praise You among the Gentiles,
and I will sing psalms to Your name.’”

The end of verse 9 is a quote from Psalm 18:49 where David is seen not only singing but playing an instrument. By quoting the psalm in Romans 15, Paul is making reference to Christ. He is in view when we read David’s song. Christ, then, has become the global church’s worship leader; not just for Jews, but the Gentiles, too; every nation, tongue, tribe, and race; every generation until He comes again.

When we gather for worship, Christ Himself is leading us, followed by our pastor, who is the church’s visible representation of Christ as under-shepherd and worship leader.

How should this change our approach to worship? How should if affect our faithfulness to the church and to our call to lead? In the words of Isaac Watts, it is a matter of eternal, “infinite importance.”

You can click here to read the entire study I referenced last night and from which many of these notes come.

Just writing this, I can’t wait for Sunday. Here is the order of worship for this week. Keep praying and expecting.

Call to worship – Psalm 150

Songs – “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing” (Glaser, Wesley) and “Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)” (Brown, Baloche)

Confession and Assurance – Romans 3:23-24

Song of assurance – “Nothing but the Blood” (Redman)

Offering

Songs – “Worthy Is the Lamb” (Zschech) and “He Is Lord” (Fielding)

The Word – John 1:35-51 (Pastor Sam Rainer)

Blessing and close of service – 2 Corinthians 13:13

Mind and Heart

Over the coming months in Wednesday choir practice, our devotions will be based out of Bob Kauflin’s book, “Worship Matters.” It is an excellent, worthy read for anyone who leads worship in the local church. Actually, I would classify it in the “must-read” category for any worship leader, and since that is who you are, I suggest we read along together as we study each week. Buy it here.

I plan to include weekly teaching notes on our blog. Last Wednesday, we began by looking at the right condition of the worship leader’s mind and heart. Here are the notes from that discussion.

Mind & Heart

In John 4:23-24, Jesus said that the Father is seeking “true worshipers,” those who worship “in spirit and truth.” In other words, those who worship with mind and heart.

Matthew 22:37 – “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

Desires for God flow from thoughtful study of God and encourages more pursuit of and passion for Him.

God intends for us to have both mind and heart engaged in worship. We cannot have one without the other.

Mind

We need to stay around the Word. We need it daily; reading, studying, memorizing, meditating.

We should be those who love the truth; like the Bereans, “examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11)

The more knowledge of God we possess, the more genuine our worship will be because God, who is holy, must be worshiped according to His revelation of Himself. Anything less falls short of worshiping in truth and effortlessly descends into idolatry.

“…There is no authentic worship of God without a right knowledge of God.” (Kauflin)

Two results of worshiping with all one’s mind:

  • God is honored
  • We are sanctified (John 17:17)

Doctrine is hard, and we should wrestle with it; not as an end in itself, but because it brings us to a clearer understanding of who God is.

Doctrine doesn’t create conflict. It simplifies life.

Heart

What does Scripture mean to love God “with all your heart?”

Am I sharing my heart with (worshiping) anything else?

“Teach me Your way, O Lord, that I may walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

“Worship isn’t about music, techniques, liturgies, songs, or methodologies. It’s about our hearts. It’s about what and who we love more than anything.

I learned that I could lead others in worshiping God and be worshiping something else in my own heart.” (Kauflin)

It is possible to exercise a spiritual gift without being spiritual.

We discover what we love the most by looking at our lives outside of Sunday worship.

“The great God values not the service of men, if the heart be not in it. The Lord sees and judges the heart; He has no regard to outward forms of worship if there be no inward adoration, if no devout affection be employed therein. It is therefore a matter of infinite importance to have the whole heart engaged steadfastly for God.” (Isaac Watts, “Discourses on the Love of God”)

John Wesley’s Instructions for Singing

Thanks to the Doxology & Theology Blog for pointing out this list of seven instructions given by John Wesley in the introduction to his Select Hymns, a collection published in 1761:

  1. “Learn these Tunes before you learn any others ….
  2. Sing them exactly as they are printed here without altering or mending them at all …
  3. Sing ALL. See that you join with the congregation as frequently as you can …
  4. Sing lustily and with a good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength …
  5. Sing modestly. Do not bawl, so as to be heard above or distinct from the rest of the congregation, that you may not destroy the harmony …
  6. Sing in Time. Whatever time is sung, be sure to keep with it. Do not run before nor stay behind it … and take care not to sing too slow…
  7. Above all sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing Him more than yourself or any other creature.”