Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Undone Worship

One of my favorite books is “The Unquenchable Worshipper” by Matt Redman. One of the best parts is when Matt talks about how true worship comes from letting go of yourself - especially when Matt shares the time he was running around the parking lot. (You have to read the book to understand) One morning I found this article on and Ross Parsley’s Blog (their worship Pastor). It spoke to me, and I hope it speaks to you.

Defining Worship Moments By Ross Parsley
After a night of rehearsing with our praise and worship team, I stayed late talking and enjoying some friends; discussing the wonderful direction of the Holy Spirit we were experiencing in worship. As people left one by one, I found myself there in the church auditorium alone. I turned off the lights and sensed that the Lord was in the room—and He was calling me. There, alone in the dark, I began to worship Him, simply, honestly, with no music, no trappings. I knelt on the steps, I walked down the aisles, and I laid down on the floor, seeking Him. As waves of the Holy Spirit came over me, I cried, I sang, I poured my heart out and He listened. At one point I realized I didn’t want to say anything because I knew that somehow, whatever I would say, would not be worthy of Him. It was a holy moment. I was full of awe and yet I felt as if I was home. I was overcome with wonder and yet wanted more. I was consumed with Him, His pleasure, His holiness and His purpose. It was a defining worship moment in my life.
The Bible is full of defining worship moments, instances that genuinely transform an individual. One of the most famous Biblical accounts of such an experience is found in Isaiah the sixth chapter. In examining Isaiah’s encounter with God, we find four marks of a defining worship moment.
A couple of years ago I got a new pair of glasses. I had been using an old pair with a prescription from a few years earlier. My eyes had gotten worse and I had just started to notice. But it wasn’t until I got my new glasses that I realized how blurry everything had become to me. When I put on my new pair, the world came alive with sparkling clarity. I could see the nuances of every scene and people’s faces became extremely detailed. Isaiah said, “I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted.” As we worship the Lord by lifting up His name and exalting Him, we begin to see Him more clearly. His revelation crystallizes our view of who He is and who we are. Isaiah received an awesome and terrible glimpse of God enthroned in worship. He saw seraphs and heard them calling out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” The sound shook the doorposts as smoke filled the temple. God was revealing Himself to Isaiah, and in that moment, Isaiah saw his own life clearly in the light of God’s glory.
When Isaiah “saw” the Lord, it illuminated his own life. The exclamation, “Woe to me, I am ruined!” indicates the depth of Isaiah’s profound realization. “For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty” is the response of a man who recognized God’s conviction. In this way, worship is sort of like a compass—it gives you context and a reference for where you are—True North. If you’ve ever been lost in the forest, you know that a compass is the instrument you use to: 1) realize you’re lost, and 2) find your way home. God’s holiness is our true north. We are convicted and convinced of our location, our position, if you will, on the map of our life with God. In the context of a divine confrontation such as this, we are faced with our own frailties. We understand our circumstances and see them from God’s point of view. We realize our sinfulness, our mistakes and failures. We recognize the futility of our own attempts at goodness and we are overwhelmed by the holiness of God in purity and righteousness. We begin to comprehend the chasm that lies between our nature and God’s and it is this chasm that sets us up for the most incredible miracle of all. It offers us the solution to God’s conviction in our lives. It reveals God’s plan to draw us near.
We have a nice lady in our church named Joyce who baby-sits our kids and does some house cleaning for us from time to time. My wife, Aimee, really appreciates this. However, I have noticed a strange phenomenon. She always prepares for the day of cleaning…by cleaning up the house! I often say, “Sweetheart, what are you doing?” To which she replies, “I can’t let Joyce see the house like this.” This sums up many Christians’ approach to worship. Worship is not the reward for repentance; worship is the very instrument through which repentance comes. Cleansing is the by-product of worship because as we acknowledge who God is in worship, He responds by making us holy. Isaiah’s dilemma is remedied when one of the seraphs bring a coal to cleanse his lips and takes away his sin. Isaiah witnesses an awesome revelation of God, recognizes his sinfulness and that of his people, and God’s immediate response is cleansing, preparing him for a very important task.
Do you know the first thing that happens after the seraph places the burning coal upon Isaiah’s lips? He hears something. He hears God asking a question, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” This is not a coincidence. When we worship, we put ourselves in a position to hear the Lord’s voice. As we are cleansed of all sinfulness, we are being prepared for wonderful works of service (Eph. 2:8-9). We become useful instruments in His hands to accomplish his kingdom agenda here on the earth. Worship let’s us in on God’s heartbeat. Worship fills us with His nature, His life, His ideas, and His plans. Worship empowers us to do great things because we’ve seen Him. We understand who He is and who we are. We are readied for a great commission because He has embraced us. This gives us the confidence and courage we need to then say, “Lord, here am I, send me!”
Clarity, conviction, cleansing and commissioning are the wonderful benefits of a worshiping heart. I believe in the value of the daily walk with the Lord, but I also believe in positioning ourselves to allow God to bring defining worship moments into our lives. I just want more of these moments!

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