SOW Week Twelve

It is hard to believe that the lecture phase of this School of Worship is officially over. I learned so many incredibly things and I am so grateful that God made a way for me to do this school and to finish it well. For my final post I have the usual top ten points and what I learned about leading worship from my speaker, as well as a few photos from my last days with the wonderful SOW 2017 family, a video we made together, and a bonus top three personal takeaways. I don’t think I could really say that just three things I learned were most important, but there are three things that I feel like God will most obviously be carrying over into my next season of life that really relate to what He is calling me to focus on.

Week 12 – Breaking the Bondage that Hinders Worship – Sylvain Freymond

The Key: Exploring the things that can really hinder us from worshipping God in spirit and in truth, and learning how to recognize and fight those hindrances in order to break away from them!

Ten Main Points

  1. Psalm 150:6 – Everything that has breath should praise the Lord. Unless you aren’t breathing, praise Him! If times are hard or if you just messed up, remember to simply breathe, and keep worshipping God!
  2. When we are singing words that aren’t necessarily true in our own lives yet, we have two choices: We either split our heart and mind in two, and separate worship from what we really believe and act out, OR we start to think “Wow, that’s really true… I need to start that now!”
  3. Worship implies a confrontation. It is never neutral. In the spiritual realm, nothing is neutral. Worship creates confrontation and it has consequences. Blessings are linked to worshipping God, and curses are linked to idolatry.
  4. Worship = To whom or to what do you give your everything? Your best, your future, your finances, your time? This is who or what you worship. This is your god. Whatever you worship is your god, even if you say you don’t believe in a god. Only Yahweh gives something good back… false gods and idols will only ever take from you and will never bless you in return. The first commandment has to do with worship because God knows it is so easy for us to worship other things and other people, and He knows how much that destroys our lives.
  5. You become more like whatever you worship. If you want to become like Jesus, you need to worship Him.
  6. Divine jealousy is not jealousy like that between two strife-filled lovers. It is like the jealousy of a parent who does not want their child going over to something that will cause them any harm.
  7. Conversion starts with rejecting your current god and choosing the living God.
  8. Authority comes from submission. If we want the authority Christ offers us, we must submit to Him first. If we say we only submit to God, we must realize that God tells us to submit to our earthly authorities too. A good leader knows how to submit and they know that they do not always lead and control everything all the time.
  9. When we feel like something is too strong for us and that it keeps happening even though we don’t really want it to, it is time to pray to Jesus for deliverance. There are most certainly things in this world that are stronger than us, but there is nothing stronger than Him.
  10. When we worship God, we encounter His heart in a relationship. He shares His heart with us, and His love for the entire world, and we receive a little bit of His love for a part of the world that He has called us to love and serve!

What I Learned About Leading Worship From Sylvain

“The Power of a Humble Heart”

Sylvain talked a lot about how we will become like whatever we worship. He was another teacher who really showed the truth of what he was teaching! Sylvain deeply, truly, and frequently worships God, and therefore, he has many Christ-like qualities! Although he is a very talented piano player and has written tons of worship songs, the thing about him that stood out the most to me was his humility. He taught a lot about hard topics like idolatry and deliverance. If someone has even a hint of pride while sharing on topics like that, it is so easy for people to get defensive. But his humility made it so clear that he really was trying to gently and kindly, but also strongly, bring a true and must needed message from God.

Because he was so Christ-like himself, displaying humility, gentleness, kindness, and truth all in one, I really wanted to be around him and to listen to him teach. Because he so clearly and continuously pointed all the glory back to God, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that it really is because of Jesus that he is this way. Therefore his very nature makes those around him want to worship God! The more we worship Jesus, the more we will become like Him, and the more we become like Him the more people will be attracted to those Christ-like qualities, and if we point it all back to God, then they will want to worship Him and this cycle will continue with them too!

School of Worship – Conclusion

My Personal Final Definition of Worship: Coming face to face with God, knowing His worthy, holy character and the perfect love He has for me and everyone else, and in turn, choosing to pour out my whole life to Him as an act of adoration, no matter my current life circumstances.

My Top Three Takeaways

  1. Reviving the Right-Side of the Brain 

Balance is so important. In every aspect of our lives, finding balance is a life long journey. We see throughout history that it really is human nature to just swing from one extreme to the next. If we push something too far, and suddenly it becomes unhealthy, it makes sense to us to get as far away from that thing as possible. Yet God wants us to be able to enjoy the good things He has for us in a balanced way, under His direction, without pushing it to perversion, while also not completely rejecting it. For some time now I have been wondering why the sphere of the arts seems so limited in Christian circles. It arguably influences the most people, and yet the amount of really powerful, well-made, and genuine music, art, movies, TV, etc produced by people who love Christ seems minimal. After studying a little bit more about the Reformation, it started to make a lot more sense.

Because art had become so idolatrous and distracting, many leaders within the Reformation wanted to completely reject it. Those sentiments still seem to linger. It seems like Christians feel very uncomfortable about anything that isn’t absolutely, obviously about Jesus. So we have movies where fathers are depicted losing children and saying ‘gosh darn,’ or we have story after story where it is always the same formula of: person doubts God, person is proven wrong, person accepts God, audience should choose God too. There isn’t anything intrinsically wrong with wanting art to be wholesome or wanting to use art to share the Gospel. However, when it is done in such a cautious way, we miss out on the complexities of the genuine human experience, so no one is really moved or inspired to change because of what they just watched, saw, or listened to. There is so much room in the ‘secular’ to be really creative and expressive. We should want the ‘sacred’ art we make for God to be more creative and expressive and beautiful than the art made for the world, not less! If we allow artists who love Jesus to act outside of the box, and we trust that God can move through these things, then any art medium or genre can be redeemed for God, and it will have a much greater chance of touching Christians and non-Christians alike.

It is time for this generation to find balance for our very left-sided logical look at God and Christianity. I really think God wants to revive the right-sided creative way we worship, enjoy, and share Him. That doesn’t mean swinging all the way over to this side and ignoring apologetics and Bible study. It means using both equally. After all, God created both sides of the brain and He wants them to both be used in His plan! Every good and perfect gift comes from God, and so they should all be used to worship Him!

  1. The Power of Words and Sound

What we speak, what we sing, what we play, what we listen to, and what others say to us has A LOT of power. This is why it is so important to be very cautious and thoughtful about whatever we put out into the world, and also take in. If you read James 3:1-12 you will encounter a very passionate preaching all about how much evil can come from our tongues. It may seem a little intense at first, but words can truly be used to breathe life or bring death. Look at the power that music has to bring people into the presence of God, to feel encouraged and inspired to worship Him, and to live a life loving Him and other people. Then also think of the times when maybe you went through a break-up or something bad happened, and so you put some really depressing music on. It just made you more depressed right? Even something meant as a joke, even something we just let slide by, even something we say isn’t so bad and isn’t really affecting us, is in fact changing us and the atmosphere around us in big ways.

Have you ever caught yourself saying ‘this turned out exactly like I said it would?’ Be careful what you speak over yourself, other people, and situations. When we pray to God and ask for the good things according to His will to happen, we see them happen. Similarly, if we are continuously saying that something is going to be bad, we are basically opening up the doorway for that bad thing to happen. When we always want to say or listen to negative things, we are not choosing the Kingdom of God and we are not ushering in the life it brings to this world. We are choosing to not believe God when He says that He can and He wants to change, heal, and restore all things.

This is especially the case for people; ourselves and others. God says He loves everyone and that each person can be made new in Christ and receive wonderful gifts from the Holy Spirit that He wants to see be used. So if we say someone is bad and they will never change, what we are saying is that we would rather choose to call God a liar, as opposed to believing Him and starting to speak out the truth He wants to put into action. Action can sprout forth from sound. So what sounds are you going to release and soak in?

  1. Saying Hello to Jesus Means Saying Goodbye to the I Can’ts:

I have shared about this briefly before, but God really redeemed, restored and re-imagined so many of the ‘I Can’ts’ that I had in my mind before the School of Worship. I was always telling myself that I can’t sing because someone told me so when I was younger, that I can’t speak another language because I didn’t start learning at a young enough age, that I can’t memorize Bible verses because my memory isn’t very good… the list could go on and on. I have only learned the real basics of singing, I can only really say a few sentences and words like a small child in French, and I only had to memorize twelve verses during the school, but the point is still the same. The things I said I couldn’t do, God made possible. He showed me that even if it is challenging, scary, or takes a lot of time and effort, if He calls me to it, He will give me the resources and strength to do it.

We can so easily just respond to things with ‘oh, I can’t do that,’ when in all actuality we have never even tried and the Bible says we can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens us! Going back to my second point, even if it seems like just a little word, I think it is so important to change our language as a sign that we trust God and believe what He says. Try changing ‘I can’t’ with: ‘I’ve never tried, but I could give it a shot’ OR ‘I know that is difficult for me, maybe you could give me some extra help’ OR ‘Right now I am unable to do that, but I don’t have to give up!’ Obviously there are some things we really shouldn’t do, like saying that we can’t murder someone, and there are things that physically are not normally possible for us, like saying that we can’t fly. I am talking about those things that deep down you know could be possible, but you have doubted and wanted to call impossible because you don’t feel like you are good enough or because they are scary. All things are possible with God, and He wants to give you abundant life. When we are walking with Jesus we don’t have to feel held back by those ‘I can’ts’ anymore! We worship God well when we have a heart that desires to be obedient to Him in all things. If we are saying that we can’t to Him, as opposed to being obedient, we aren’t going to worship Him very well. Whatever He tells you to do, you CAN do it for Him and through Him as an act of worship. Not because of how good you are, but because He is always good.

Here is the video us School of Worship students all made together. It was such a blessing to live and learn with such a diverse, creative, loving, and fun bunch of Christ followers! I am going to miss them so much!

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, and my blogging about the SOW, I will share our last memory verse:

“For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth.” – Psalm 47:2