Our second to last week was still full of so many deep and rich lessons. As I said in my previous post, the more I learn, the more I realize that I have so much more to learn! But I actually think this is quite wonderful. I never have to worry about my life becoming boring or my heart becoming complacent, I know as long as I am following Jesus that there will be great growth, development, journeys, and adventures to come! We presented our final compositions this week, but I unfortunately I do not have the time to video and upload it for you all to see. The next time you catch me in person though, please feel free to ask me to share it if you would like, and we can worship God together! It was a song based off of Psalm 32, which has always been my favorite Psalm. Even when I was an atheist I would think about it regularly! Even though the school is finishing I hope to keep writing songs, simply just because I really enjoy doing creative things with and for God! For now though, here are the usual top ten points from what I learned this week, what I learned about leading worship from our speaker, and a few photos:
Week 11 – Worship As A Lifestyle – Kathryn Baxter
The Key: What it looks like to worship God continuously and make worship a lifestyle as opposed to just a limited action done under very specific circumstances with very specific tools.
Ten Main Points
- Music does not make worship, it just inspires it. But since music has the power to inspire worship, the music we play and listen to inside and outside of church should be aimed at bringing glory to God. Whenever we decide to listen to or play a new song, we should ask ourselves if it brings glory to God and speaks light and life, or if it glorifies some aspect of life apart from God and speaks darkness and death.
- A worship leader’s job is to lead others to the presence of God, to lead others to worship Him. The main purpose of a worship leader or anyone on the worship team is not to offer their gift to God. It can be a way to offer musical giftings to God, but that is not the main and only purpose of it.
- God sees the worshipper before He sees the worship. The act of worship itself is not pleasing to God based on exactly what it is or how well it is done, but rather on whether or not the person offering the worship is right with Him and others.
- Unity with diversity is the beauty of the Body of Christ.
- The more you let the Holy Spirit teach you something in your personal life, the more you will be able to share and lead the congregation in this same way.
- You will never be disappointed if you learn how to worship God and praise Him in adversity. In our personal lives and in our congregations, proclaiming the greatness, the splendor, the royalty, the identity, and the authority of our God creates praise in our souls and in the atmosphere. If we can focus on God even when we face trials, we still will have those trials and challenges, but we won’t be disappointed by life, instead we will be grateful for it!
- Intimacy with God should be our first priority in life. The strength and depth of a relationship depends largely on how well each party listens. If we want to position ourselves to hear God’s voice, we need to have a personal, daily devotional time that is non-negotiable, we need to have regular moments aside with Him that are outside of our daily routine, and we need to stay ‘online’ with God to listen to His voice, even throughout the day’s activity. Imagine you are talking to someone very important on the phone on a train. Maybe there will be times when the connection cuts out, but as soon as you realize it, you are going to hit redial. We want to be talking to God throughout the day continuously, and as soon as we realize that we lost our connection with Him, we should hit redial! God is never out of range!
- When the worshipper learns how to dwell in the presence of God, we begin to have a spiritual and lasting impact. We begin to possess God’s emotions and perspective. When we possess God’s emotions and perspective, then we will better know what to pray for, which is why praise and worship is a vital part of intercession.
- We all emanate something and what we put into our lives will in turn affect the atmosphere around us. We need to be aware of what ingredients are making up our ‘perfume’ and should ask what we need to add or remove to give off an aroma that is pleasing to God and more Christ like to those around us. We must realize that nothing is neutral. Every attitude, every word, everything and everyone we watch, see, listen to, consume, or come in contact with contributes to the sweetness or the toxicity of the atmosphere.
- Jesus makes it very clear that to be His disciple our entire lives must change and be transformed. The great commission does not tell us to collect salvations, but to make disciples of the nations. If we want others to be true disciples of Christ who are continuously worshipping Him in Spirit and in Truth, then we need to be clear with them from the get go about what the cost of following Jesus really is. Jesus did not try to hide this, so there is no reason why we should ever try to hide it and say things like ‘All you have to do to become a Christian is pray this prayer.’ We receive the salvation of Christ through praying such a prayer, but we do not become His disciples by merely doing this. We become a disciple of Jesus when we are willing to offer our entire lives as a sacrifice of praise to Him.
What I Learned About Leading Worship From Kathryn
“What Others Consider Excessive, God Considers Normal”
This week was yet another week where the speaker taught about and displayed something that really spoke to me from our weekly book reading. This is the book extract that really stood out to me:
“Some people claim to be normal Christians when actually they mean they are nominal Christians. My old dictionary gives this definition as one of the meanings of the word nominal: Existing in name only; not real or actual; hence so small, slight, or the like, as to be hardly worth the name. With that as a definition, those who know they are Christians in name only should never make the pretention of being ‘normal’ Christians. Is the Lord Jesus Christ your most precious treasure in this world? If so, you can count yourself among normal Christians. Is the moral beauty which is found only in Jesus Christ constantly drawing you to praise and worship? If so, you are indeed among those whom God’s Word identifies as normal, believing, practicing Christians.” – A.W. Tozer ‘Whatever Happened to Worship?’
Kathryn herself talked about how people have come up to her before and told her that she is too joyful and exuberant, and that it must be artificial. She explained that she has had to learn to continue to be so radical and worship God so fully by asking God what He wants, instead of getting caught up in what other people have to say. She encouraged us that if we ever hear that little voice saying to us “stop that, people are going to stare” or anything of the like, we really must consider the source. Are we dwelling on something that another flawed human being said? Are we caving into our own self-consciousness and insecurity? Are we listening to the enemy as he tries to steal our joy away from us? If the voice is not from God, then we can and should push it away and continue to enthusiastically, boldly, and completely dedicate ourselves to praising God in all that we do and say!
When we start to define normal Christianity by what nominal Christians do, then we are going to start to doubt ourselves when we want to worship God as He asks to be worshipped! This is another reason why it is so important to really know the Bible and what Jesus says following Him will look like. It is meant to have us totally set apart and refusing to fit in with the status quo. We should certainly stand out and people should notice a difference in us! It was such a freeing experience getting to hear Kathryn speak and then to also watch her worship. It was so apparent that she just wanted to pour out the love and joy that was being lavished on her by our Father God. To me, it did not seem artificial at all. Quite the opposite actually! If anything it would seem artificial for her to not act this way. Kathryn seemed like she might just burst because she was so full of praise. If she did not express that I think it would be obvious that she was not really being herself or doing what God has designed her to do!
When we are really treating worship as a lifestyle, then it will impossible for us to not be filled with awe and wonder about God on a continuous basis. From there it is natural that we will want to dedicate everything to Him, that we will want to talk about Him all the time, and that we will want to continue to just seek Him more, more, and more! In order to take that step though, we cannot believe the lie that what God says is normal is actually excessive.
All the glory to God for yet another amazing opportunity to learn, grow, and serve! May He bless each one of you on each of your own journeys too! To end this post I will share the verse that we memorized this week:
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” – Jeremiah 1:5