Praise The Lord family! Recently while teaching my students at the Hip Hoppin' HeART workshop I learned that although majority of the class could effortlessly recite lyrics to a particular song verbatim, only a a few (if that) knew what the song actually meant, what it's all about, and the implications of singing (proclaiming) it. So naturally I decided to inform my students of the meaning, which will ultimately reshape the way they experience that particular song in the future. Right? Well, hopefully.
So this got me thinking about the hundreds, thousands, and even millions of people all over the world that sing what we call "Praise & Worship" songs at churches, concerts, and everywhere in between on a regular basis. We know the lyrics verbatim, we know the music, we know the artists, but do we really know what the songs mean? Do we understand the implications of singing (proclaiming) them? Like my students at The Hip Hoppin' HeART class, although our intentions may be good we too can sometimes be uninformed, unaware, and therefore miss the point of praise and worship all together.
With that said, I'm hoping to try something new with our local church worship experience at Elements Church in the Bronx. Normally (at least in my experience) the congregation does not know what worship songs will be sung come Sunday morning. The worship leader, and team usually know what songs they will sing in advance as they are praying, and preparing for Sunday morning praise and worship. What if the entire congregation also knew the songs (the meaning, scriptural reference, and implications) in advance? Could this potentially create a greater, more inclusive and communal worship experience? If we (I'm guilty) didn't have to rely on the lyrics displaying on television sets during worship, or if we (I'm guilty again) didn't have to (mid-song) wonder to ourselves- "What does that line mean?", perhaps our (due to being properly informed and primed) time of praise and worship would more frequently (and effortlessly) produce the (Holy ghost) transformative power of God that is often lacking in our "offerings". Of course we have to be lead by the spirit, meaning we may all come in ready to sing XYZ, but then be lead by God to sing ABC, or to not sing at all. I'd like to give this model a shot, and I'd also love to see this applied to Sunday sermons.
Elements Church Praise & Worship 5/22/16
1. Good Good Father
How has God been a good good father to you? Our earlthy fathers are fallible, but our heavenly father is perfect in all his ways. So many of our society's ills stem from the lack of good fathers in our homes, and communities. The beginning of the second verse in this song says "I've seen many searching for answers far and wide/ but I know that we're all searching for answers only you provide" The father plays such a significant role in this world, it's no wonder God chose this position and relationship to describe who he is, and who we are in light of who he is. Have you submitted to God our heavenly father as a child does to his earthly father? We have a father who holds us acountable, who loves us, disciplines us, protects, and provides for us, a father who leads and guides us, and who know far more than we ever will. Abba father (Daddy) is a term in the scripture reffering to our Lord, it conveys an intimacy shared only in a healthy father and child relationship. He is our father, and we are his children. Our God is a good good father.
1 John 3:1 - Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
Do you really believe that our God is greater? Elijah the prophet did, so much so that he challenged the false gods of his time publicly. Would you publicly declare Jesus is Lord? Are you willing to boldly challenge the powers, and people that believe otherwise? Do you lay hands on the sick, pray and believe they are healed? God is greater than our fears, than our sin, than our stress, doubt, and anything else that we wrestle with. Who can stand against us if God is for us? Do we really believe that greater is He (God) that is in us than he (satan) who is in the world? This song is a proclamation of our God's omnipotence, sovereignty, power, majesty, greatness! Is God greater than cigarette addiction? Is God greater than depression? is God greater? If God is greater, and God lives within us, than our lives must be a reflection. Believe it by faith.
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary... (Isaiah 40:28a RSV)
He gives power to the faint,and to him who has no might he increases strength. (Isaiah 40:29 RSV)
3. Your Presence
Is The Presence of our Lord really heaven to us? How so? Are we spending undisturbed time in the presence of the Lord? Personally (aside from daily prayer/devotions) I aim to commit a day a week to praying and fasting (no food, no social media, no tv, no emails, just water, and usually a cup of coffee) sometimes an entire day, other times half day. I don't always follow through unfortunately, but the point is to be intentional and go after it. We have to be hungry! Literally. lol. Like the quote pastor E shared recently "Chase after perfection, and catch up with excellence" (something like that). Is there really no place that we would rather be than in the presence of the Lord? Do we prefer hanging out with friends and family over spending time with God? Do we recognize the presence of The Lord when we do hang out with friends and family? Do we prefer to watch the game than to pray? Or is His presence really heaven to us? Jesus said eternal life is to Know God. Do we really know God? Are we experiencing heaven on earth through an intimate relationship with Christ? "Nothing in this world can satisfy/ Jesus you're the cup that won't run dry" When we get this deep in our spirit our worship time will go far beyond a 4 minute song on Sunday mornings.
Psalm 84:10New International Version (NIV) 10 Better is one day in your court than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
Does the life we live today really require any faith? The bible says without faith it is impossible to please God. It doesn't require faith to wake up, eat breakfast, go to work, come back home, religiously visit church on Sunday, sing, and listen to the pastor preach. Well actually these things do require faith, just not faith in God necessarily. More like faith in the bus driver, and or train conductor, faith in a car, faith in a boss, job, faith in a pay check, faith in the pastor, faith in ourselves and the things, and people around us. This doesn't require much, if any faith in God at all. When Jesus calls us to believe, to walk on water, to do the impossible, believe the impossible, to go where we've never been, to do what seems foolish to almost everyone around us how do we respond? This song is asking God to lead us out and away from our comfort zone, out and away from the safety zone we have built for ourselves, and into a place where we have to depend totally on God. Read Hebrews chapter 11, the hall of Faith. Does your life resemble this chapter in any way? When we sing this song lets be aware of what we are asking of God, and be available for his response to happen in our lives.
Hebrews 11:11-40 New International Version (NIV)
Faith in Action
11 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.
3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commendedas righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.
5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.”[a] For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.
8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear childrenbecause she[b] considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”[c] 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.
20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.
21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.
22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.
23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.
24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.
29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.
30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.
31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.[d]
32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samsonand Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;[e] they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
Praise The Lord! I'm excited to worship with you all on Sunday. To God be the glory forever and ever amen.
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Sunday 9:30am Coffee & refreshments 10:00am Service.