Some interesting random observations after one week in Sao Paulo:
* The weather here is as close to perfect as you can imagine. Although its winter here, I’m told that there is not much distinction in seasons. Today its mid-80’s and not a cloud in the sky. Not exactly the NY Januarys I grew up with, but also not the humidity of Florida. They say 6 months from now it will be the same.
* The fruit here is incredible!!! Fresh, succulent and many different kinds that I have never heard of. Today I ate the fruit from the stump of a Palm tree. I have lived with palm trees in my yard for over 20 years and never knew they bore fruit. If you wondering if it’s any good, well, if you see me with an axe in my yard when I get back to Jacksonville…
* Down here their lunch is the same as our dinner… And their dinner down here is the same as our dinner too
* Mules are a form of transportation. Closest I ever seen to that were NY city taxi drivers.
* Locals love to speak to Americans because they think that by speaking to us they can learn English. They love to communicate, and are not at all shy or put off by any gap in communication. They just want to connect with you. It’s quite charming.
That last point has struck me all week and as I prepared my message for tonight, I was reminded how similar that is with God. Even though we have no ability to effectively communicate with Him any way close to His level, He wants nothing more to than to connect with us intimately. That was my jump off point on my message called “Communicating with God”. Below are my thoughts on one aspect of how we communicate with Him- through worship.
One could spend years teaching on worship. There are so many different expressions and methodologies in worship. The important thing for us is this- We need to incorporate worship into our communication with God. We must! And not just the time we are in church on Sundays. Worship is a way of life. Imagine communicating with your friends, family, spouse, the way you worship God. What would it look like- distracted? Fearful about what other were thinking about you? Limited to once a week for 20 minutes? Worshiping God is communicating with Him on a level that acknowledges His magnificence.
However sometimes we make a critical mistake. We think that worship is somehow our own distinctive activity. We fool ourselves into believing that worship is solely directed toward our own well-being or edification or improvement. When we say “I don’t need to go to church, because I don’t get anything out of it,” we miss the point entirely. That has not thing to do with what worship really is. Worship in that context is man-centered, an experience-centered thing. It is thought of as conveying an experience to the person or group of people. Sadly, many people come to church, mainly, to see what will happen to their feelings, what their personal returns from worship will be, what they individually will get out of it. And thus, they miss out on really expressing worship in spirit and in truth.
There was a poll taken some time ago that asked Christians why they worshipped in church. Some of their answers are indicative of this: “Because it’s very comforting and satisfying to me;” “It helps to renew my faith and helps me keep it stronger;” “Because I receive inspiration to get me through my day;” “I need it for my own security;” “It makes me feel good” “I need help and inspiration in my life, which I don’t believe is available anywhere else.” Do you notice a pattern here? All of these answers are directed inward. I do it for what I can get out of it, for my strength, my inspiration, my security. Now God loves you and wants all these things for you too. But that is not the purpose in worship. It’s not why we communicate to God- at least in this form. Again I would challenge you to compare those motives to your daily communication with those closest to you- Do you compliment others so YOU feel good? Do you praise your children for YOUR own fulfillment? Is coming to meet someone and speak to them all about what you will receive? Worship is not meant to be solely for what you get out of it.
Because if that is our total reason, then who really becomes the god who is worshiped? If we worship with these motives, it’s because we are usually are looking for some emotional boost, for some uplift that will supposedly prove that our communication with God was worthwhile. When nothing happens, some people respond by driving away to find another church where there is a “better anointing” or going to the woods or someplace else where they think they will have such that uplifting emotional experience they insist they must have for worship to worthwhile. Because they make the mistake of thinking the worship is for them. The besy way worship was explained to me was at my church many years ago. It’s that worship in church consists of three participants- the performer, the accompanist and the audience. Too often we look at the worship team and the band as the performer and accompanist while we are the audience. That’s not worship. That’s not communicating with God. That would be more like attending a good Christian concert, while there is certainly nothing wrong with that, again it’s not worship.
In true worship we are the performer, the worship team and the band are the accompanists and God is the audience. We must learn to worship to the audience of one. Praise, adoration, and worship are never a background for what we want to do or feel.
Looking forward to worshipping God tomorrow with our awesome e3 students!