Continuous Outpouring and Artistic Action

In this chapter, the author writes, Now I want to examine the arts as they relate to continuous outpouring (p.111). From that statement, he discusses two different points about art. Best points out that Art for art’s sake is a pagan idea (p. 111). He relates it to the believer by writing, But a Christian perspective on the arts must first of all be a Christian perspective that applies equally to every aspect of life long before we examine any separate aspect (p. 111). In writing, Best makes the next point, We cannot be continuous outpourers without being living sacrifices. Living sacrifices are not spiritual abstractions by living doers (p. 112).

The author continues the chapter by writing about freedom in being artistic. We make and offer art because we worship; we should not make it to lead us into worship (p. 119). This statement comes from a great section that talks about the difference between worship of music as art and worship of the Spirit. This section is a great attempt at teaching worshipers where music and art should fit into a public gathering in the church.

…when I sing or listen to my favorite song and a flood of feeling washes over me, instead of thinking that Jesus is nearer because I am filled with such feeling I come to understand that it is because the Lord and I love each other so much that I feel this way (p. 122). The author again attempts to clarify what is experienced when a song is heard for worship purposes. The song should accompany the person’s relationship with the Lord. The song itself is not worship, nor should it replace anything that pertains to a person’s time with God.

This was an awesome chapter. I think this is my favorite chapter in the book. Best did an amazing job taking a stab at the worship war. There were some sections in this chapter that I thought I would use for future teachings on the subject. I wasn’t too impressed with his first section. Actually, I found it quite confusing. This chapter is winning me back as a reader. I thought I might have had to suffer through a rough tough writer who had to clarify everything he wrote.

This chapter is an excellent description of the subject of worship. As a worship leader, I am going to work further with my music team at the church. He has given meaning and purpose to music and worship. He has given order to worship.

I learned that I like this the start of this section much more than the first section.

Reference

Best, Harold M., Unceasing Worship. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press. 2003

Worship, Praying and Preaching

As continuous outpouring encompasses all of our living, many topics could be covered in this chapter…I have chosen only two – praying and preaching… (p. 94). The author covers prayer because he has made the observation that everyone prays. There are a lot of prayers in life. Actually, many religions practice it. It is every believer’s duty. As such, it must oversee all other kinds of praying (p. 94). The believer has a responsibility when it comes time for people to offer prayers. Just as praying is directly linked to continuous worship, so is preaching …(p. 94).

The author explores some thoughts on prayer. He discusses its purpose and place for its need. He describes how prayers are done right and how they are wrong. He spends some time discussing prayer that does not stop with the surface issue, but digs down deep into its purpose. He shows scripture that instructs the reader on the subject. After a few pages dealing with prayer, the author then focuses on preaching.

… it remains the responsibility of the pastoral staff to preach as though there were no other way to get the full truth of the gospel across (p. 104). It would be great if all preachers felt this way. If they did the church pews would be full. It seems to me that the best preaching seeks out the kind of depth that holds the attention and challenges the average thinker yet leaves the sophisticated thinker with more than enough to ponder (p. 107).

I love the statement preach as though there were no other way to get the full truth of the gospel across that the author made. I am encouraged to preach the gospel as if there was no other way to present it. I know that many are hungry for the gospel truth. Many are looking for power to come from the pulpit. Many are tired of the pop psychology pep rally that they get from the person claiming to be a man of God.

People are looking for the real message of truth: the word of power that speaks the very soul of all who listen. … the best preaching seeks out the kind of depth that holds the attention and challenges the average thinker yet leaves the sophisticated thinker with more than enough to ponder. Jesus spoke with authority. He even died for what He preached. Not sure if many would be willing to die for their message.

I have learned to preach with power.

Reference

Best, Harold M., Unceasing Worship. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press. 2003

Worship and Witness: The Indivisible Task of Continuous Outpouring

In this chapter, the author has changed gears and started focusing on the worshipers witness. Properly understood, a theology of worship should reform, if not re-create, our often isolated ideas of evangelism and mission (p. 77). Many believers have isolated ideas of more things than how the church should evangelize and to missions. Many need a clear definition of missions and evangelism. Worship gatherings can do just that.

The author defines the worship as, Just as worship is a continuous outpouring of all that I am, all that I do and all that I can ever become…(p. 77). He then compares it to the word witness. He writes, … so witness is both a general and a specific out-toward and outpouring testimony that verifies this. The believer’s witness should be an outgrowth of their worship life. The witness is to the world and worship is to God. When believers come together to worship their witness is bring unsaved people to salvation. The Holy Spirit can then do His work in a person’s life.

The author defines the role of a Christian. He writes, Christian witness is an ambassadorial action, and sometimes a blunt confrontation, between continuous outpourers, one right side up, the other upside down (p. 85). The Christian’s life is for bringing others to God. The witness is for unbelievers. God’s work is done through the believer’s lifestyle if they are true worshipers.

Properly understood, a theology of worship should reform, if not re-create, our often isolated ideas of evangelism and mission (p. 77). This is a huge statement. This statement alone could make a difference in the church today. If Christians actually lived in a way that brought others to God then the Gospel would be complete. Often it is hard to distinguish between a believer and non-believer.

The Christian’s life should reflect God’s work. God’s masterpiece is on display when the true worshiper lives the way God intended them to live. There is a real problem when Christians mingle in with the world and becomes of the world. The world needs to be drawn to God working through individuals. The Holy Spirit can manifest Himself in the believer’s life if that individual lets Him. Our lifestyle of worship should be bringing people to God; not forcing them away.

I have learned that my witness is based on how I worship the Lord.

Reference

Best, Harold M., Unceasing Worship. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press. 2003

The Corporate Gathering and Authentic Worship

Christians should be as delighted in the things of sight and sense as God Himself, when at the instant of every creational act, he declares goodness to be observable, enjoyable and usable (p. 59). As followers of Christ, Christians should find delight in the things of creation. They are not to be worshiped. However, creation should bring the worshiper closer to the Creator. He has created all things and found satisfaction in them. Believers need to thank God for all He has created.

Christians need to stay in God’s light. They need to keep their focus on the Lord. The moment Christians begin to be suspicious of the temporal and to withdraw into a vaporous world of ungrounded piety, they begin to miss the wholeness of spirituality and the fullness of mutual indwelling (p. 59). Christians need to stay connected to God. They need to stay in community with one another in view of the Father.

To an authentic worshiper, any thought about liturgical or artistic or environmental ‘aids’ to worship should be seriously questioned. The only aid to worship is the Lord himself (p. 61). Many believers have replaced Christ at the center and worshiped other things that should lead to the Lord. Proper worship puts Jesus at the center and everything else is subject to Him.

As a worship leader, I have put music at the center of my life. I know churches that have done the same. The best way to find this out is to visit with church members after a church service and ask them how they liked worship and they will usually respond that music was good or bad. It has been tough being in the middle of music wars. It is also difficult to be in leadership and have all the arrows shot at you.

Coming together in unity means that Christ is made the center and style does not matter. When this happens the congregation is filled with power. When the power of the Holy Spirit comes down upon a congregation then lives are changed. People no longer focus on their differences, but rather on who brings them together. When a body of believers truly worships God that congregations find God’s Spirit dwelling in and among them.

I have learned to make Christ the center of my worship.

Reference

Best, Harold M., Unceasing Worship. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press. 2003

Mutual Indwelling: The Final Geography of Worship

Knowing about the Bible does not guarantee that I can think biblically – in the Bible. Applying scriptural truth does not depend on scriptural memory as much as thinking and acting in the truth …(p. 49). In order to think and act in truth means that I have bought into the belief and change has occurred. It is much like buying a product and never using it when it is brought home from the store. Another thought, is thinking about the high wire act at the circus. The belief that the wire will hold the walker is one thing, but moving from the spectator seat to actually walking on the wire is much like living out biblical truths.

In Christ, we are members of one another. We not only worship, serve and participate together, we do so with each other, even in each other, even as we are commonly in Christ (p. 52). Unity to the body of believers should set the church apart from other religions, but Christianity if made up of divided denominations! Christ came to serve His followers, but almost 2,000 years have gone by without many followers serving each other.

It is with this full promise that we are to go to the place called church and to the necessary times of corporate gathering (p. 57). The Christian is called to gather with other believers. The one-hour service that takes place every Sunday at eleven-o’clock is the most segregated hour America’s week. It is a poor representation of unity in Christ. It is an hour that does not reflect the truth of Scripture. When the church figures that out then the full power will be given.

This chapter really got me going. I love the church. I have given my life to Her. I love serving God, but have found it difficult to serve with those I have served with. I love the people of God, but find it extremely grueling to work with fellow staff members. I am a servant and have a servant’s heart. It mostly comes from watching my parents serve the church. Since taking the baton of faithful service, I have been disgusted to the point of physical sickness from working with other believers.

It is still my desire to serve God. I want to serve Him for the rest of my life. I love worshiping God. I desire to worship God with other believers who desire the same. I want to be with a congregation who cares more about God than they do their traditions. I see traditions to be compared to cancer. Cancer kills. I have seen people die from lung cancer because they refused to give up smoking. Some churches could die because from their traditions.

I have learned that I need to worship God in unity with other believers.

Reference

Best, Harold M., Unceasing Worship. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press. 2003

What Is Authentic Worship?

Authentic worship can only be in Christ. It is not driven by a liturgy or a call to worship, a change in style or a methodology (p. 27). Here the author is giving credit where credit is due. God deserves our praise because He is who He is. When we worship God with a pure heart we are saying that it comes from God and nothing else. Traditions wage the biggest war against authentic worship. Churches are filled with traditions. Unfortunately, those who do want to worship God with authentic worship are thought of to be a bit weird or strange.

Living by faith means worshiping by faith, and worshiping by faith means living by faith. The two are a seamless continuum (p. 28). This is a worship lifestyle thought. A God worshiper should have a lifestyle of worship. Their life should be an example of holiness. Believing in God is not enough; rather a believer should live out their belief. The lifestyle of worship should be seen and noticed by others. Others around should know that something is different about the worshiper living by faith.

In this chapter, the author makes a few observations about authentic worship. The author describes authentic worship and all that comes with hope and love. There should be an outpouring that is continuous and sacrifice should be living. The author writes, The beauty of holiness for a continuing worshiper is nothing less than purity of heart …(p 40-41).

In today’s age many people are looking for true worshipers. Many churches have empty pews. Many churches are filled with believers who have lost their hope. They have forgotten what it means to be a continuous worshiper. They find a separation between work and faith. God calls believers to live lives completely sold out. I think the church should go back to its purpose of worshiping God rather than worshiping everything else.

I have grown up in the church and I am heart broken to have worked with staff members in ministry that have lost their way. They forgot what it means to be a continuing worshiper. I must admit that I too have lost my way at times. However, I knew I needed an attitude adjustment in ministry. I needed to be back in a place where I could be forgiven and relearn what it means to be a continuing worshiper.

I have learned to refocus my eyes on Christ and worship Him alone.

Reference

Best, Harold M., Unceasing Worship. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press. 2003

Nobody Does Not Worship

The author states, We begin with on fundamental fact about worship: at this very moment, and for as long as this world endures, everybody inhabiting it is bowing down and serving something… (p. 17). Everyone worships something. Worshiping is at the core of who we are as created beings. Once sin came in the picture, whom we worshiped got mixed up. Man continues to work at filling the void of emptiness. That void can only be filled with God through his Son Jesus Christ.

We must being with God, not merely because all other beginnings, continuations and endings must be explained in light of his triune Self but because continuous outpouring must above all be informed by and understood in light of his person and work (p. 21). God is the Creator and life itself came from Him. Everything starts with Him. One learns to worship by worshiping the first and the last. God poured Himself into His creation. It brought completeness to Him. He saw His creation and He was satisfied.

…three verifiable realities to guide me both back into Eden and away from it directly to God through Christ: (1) the concept of continuous outpouring as it describes the nature of God; (2) the doctrine of imago Dei; (3) the sojourn of Christ on earth (p. 21). Here the author covers all bases for which God makes Himself known. Man has evidence of God and His presence in these three areas. God has made Himself known to who He is and what He does.

It has taken me some time to get used to the author’s writing style. He is a very heavy writer. His book so far has been heavy into theology. It actually reminded me of reading a theology book. I know that it is a book on the subject of Biblical foundations for worship, but I had misjudged the book by looking at the cover. I expected a more experiential book. I thought the author might have spent more time scratching the surface of the subject; instead he has dived right in and submerged the reader.

I thought the title of chapter 1 was a bit strange. I don’t really think he persuaded me with clarifying the title. He seemed to shoot all over the radar screen. I do understand his description of the outpouring from God. I understand that because I have seen it in my own life. I have found some hope from reading this chapter. It is found in the last sentence of this chapter. It reads We are not left comfortless. Christ has come (p. 26).

What I have learned is to focus on the outpouring of God on my life.

Reference

Best, Harold M., Unceasing Worship. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press. 2003

Worship and the Gospel – a Summary

Throughout the Bible, acceptable worship means approaching or engaging with God on the terms that he proposes and in the manner that he makes possible (p. 283). Man is called to serve God. He is also called to worship Him with honor and respect. This is not mandated by form, but rather purpose. It flows in and out of fellowship with others. As relationships are built with others God is worshiped.

God is worthy to be praised. We serve Him by praising Him. All glory and honor go to Him …because he is creator, lord of history, and judge of all (p. 283). Everything goes to Him because He gave us everything. He has taught us to how to worship Him. He has demonstrated how to worship through the system He created. Christ cannot be replaced in the system. To do so would mean idolatry.

Christ is the central theme to Scripture. He serves as the focal point for believers. Central to New Testament teaching is the insistence that Christ’s death is the ultimate sacrifice, provided by God to cleanse his people from defilement of sin… (p. 285). What Christ did on the cross is as important as to who we are in Christ. It serves as the center point for the history of mankind.

This chapter served to summarize the book. There really wasn’t anything new in this chapter.

I have learned that Christ served God by be the sacrifice for us.

Reference

Peterson, David. Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press. 1992.

Worship in the Revelation of John

Without doubt, the Revelation of John is critical for a study of the theme of worship in the New Testament (p. 261). John was allowed an opportunity that many only wish they could have. He was given the awesome privilege of what believers only dream of seeing. He was also given the responsibility that many demand for their lives.

John’s writings focus on those who false teachers who tried to manufacture a sense of God without ever considering the source. Many came into the body of believers and tried to turn them away from Christ. John on the other hand chose to believe and follow Christ. He wrote to help others know the truth. He stood on the foundation of the truth about Christ. He wrote so that we would have record to know what is false and what is true.

A major theme of the book is the distinction between true worship and idolatry(p. 264). John was able to know the difference between true worship and what others attempted to do. He knew the difference enough to teach others too. His writings serve the community of Christ’s followers who never walked and talked with Christ in person. Man is called to worship God. John gives direction on how to do that. Not only did John deal with worship here on earth, but helped believers with the heavenly worship. John was able to make a connection between heaven and earthly worship. He was able to guide others to worship.

The book of John has helped me know what is true and what is false. It has helped me know the difference. I have used John’s writings many times. It has given be a structure for truth. I believe that John’s writings serve this generation well because there is so much false with life today. Many need to read and hear the message of truth. Many are searching for truth and still look to the church for direction. However, the church is not prepared for a discussion of truth.

Many have been turned away from discussing truth with others. With the help of John’s writings, many could come to know God in spirit and in truth. John serves an excellent example of what it means to serve God. He was willing to take a stand for God and it serves us well here in this generation.

I have learned to study the book of John to help others discover truth.

Reference

Peterson, David. Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press. 1992.

The Book of Hebrews and the Worship of Jesus

As Hebrews interprets the work of Christ and the response of believer, it develops a theology of the congregational gathering that has much in common with the teaching of Paul (p. 229). Many have thought of Paul as the author of the book of Hebrews. Much of the language sounds like that of Paul’s language. However, the author of the book is unknown. It was written to a group of Hebrews. The author focused on Christ through the old covenant. It gave proof of who Jesus was and why He came. The book focused on the worship of Christ by pointing out the heroes of the faith found in the Old Testament. Jesus was now the replacement for the Levitical priest. He was man’s high priest. Man could approach God openly. Man is allowed into His presence.

The blood of Jesus sealed the deal. It became the central ingredient for the faith. As God’s son, Christ was sent to fulfill the Law. He had to die as the payment for sin. He gave up His life so that man could live. He was willing to hang on the cross in order to rise from the dead. The book of Hebrews focused on Christ doing what He did for mankind.

Mankind has had a desire to draw near to God. Under the old system there was no way to do that unless one went through the high priest. Now under the new system, man can draw close to God. God is able to draw close to man because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Worship becomes an act of service to God. As people come together to worship God, they encourage each other. This creates a hope for the return of Christ.

I am grateful that someone took the time to write the book of Hebrews. Growing up, I had always assumed that Paul wrote the book. It wasn’t until I attended Bible College that I learned that he is a good candidate as the author, but there were more options of the authorship of the book.

I love reading the book of Hebrews because it helps me better understand the old system. It helps me understand what others believed and points to Christ. I am grateful that someone took the time to listen to God to pen the book in order that we can gain wisdom about Christ.

I have learned to appreciate the book of Hebrews as I study about Christ.

Reference

Peterson, David. Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press. 1992.