As the very nature of Worship…and… Church…and… Singing…and gathering together is seemingly up for grabs, I thought this message I preached years ago might give us a renewed sense of why it is we worship…and how we can become careless and even cavalier about our practices
I know this is a longer message than we are accustomed to listening to, but there is something here for you and I….if we would but have ears to hear
Middle School group and high school group Go ahead back down.
OK cool wow.
This is the summer when people are away. Just think about September.
I’m going to ask you to grab your Bibles, and I’d like you to turn with me to the book of the Revelation Chapter 2.
Revelation chapter 2.
Was according to church tradition the only one who wasn’t martyred, although they tried to kill him. According to church tradition.
And he was exiled on the Isle of Patmos and during his exile there came a time where he was in the spirit on the Lord’s Day.
And Jesus revealed some things to him by his Holy Spirit about the church.
And it came in the form of messages to a number of churches. But those churches are emblematic and symbolic of the church US.
This is a message to us as much as it was to the church. We’re going to hear about, and this is the church at Ephesus.
Revelation Chapter 2 to the Angel.
Of the church in Ephesus, right? These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand.
Walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work, and your perseverance, and I know you cannot tolerate wicked men that you have tested. Those who claim to be apostles and are not, and you have found them to be false.
Plus you have persevered and endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary yet. I hold this against you.
You have forsaken your first love.
Remember the height from which you’ve fallen, repent and do the things you did at the first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.
But you have this in your favor.
You hate the nickel. The practices of the NICOLAITANES, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes.
I will give the right to.
Eat from the tree of life.
Which is in the paradise of God.
Now I teach a class up at Eugene Bible College called Prison Epistles, and it’s basically entitled Prison of pistols, ’cause these are the letters that Paul wrote during various imprisonments while he was in jail. He wrote to churches like the church at Philippi like the church at Ephesus Colossians.
And and he would tell them things, and so one of the things that he told the group at Ephesus really only makes sense if you understand the history of how that church was founded.
Now, I’m not going to go into a lengthy history thing.
This isn’t a class period. I realized that.
But in order to understand what what, what is going on here in the book of the Revelation, you have to understand that the Church of Ephesus was one of the primary, most influential churches in the early church.
John pastored this church at one time. Timothy pastored the church at Ephesus at one time, Paul after he founded it, pastored this church at one.
Time it was a church that had great influence in that it sent out ministries and and it became one of the standard bearers.
And so people would look and say, what’s the Lord doing? They would look at the church at Ephesus. Church at Antioch was another one of those kind of churches. Certainly the church at Jerusalem. That would be the one we’d be most familiar with.
But I want you to know how that church got started and what he says here will begin to make sense. The church started as a result.
Of a riot.
When Paul preached the gospel in Ephesus, people were so convicted by the Holy Spirit they realized that they had been trafficking in occult literature that they were all involved in ungodly kind of witchcraft things.
They believed in black magic, and so as a result of them coming to Jesus, they brought all of the paraphernalia associated with the worship.
Of Satan with what stuff that we would attribute to the new age movement today?
They brought all that stuff and burned it.
Now there’s only one problem. The City of Ephesus made a great deal of money by the production of that stuff.
It was known as the home of the the Temple of Artemis of the Ephesians, which was one of the wonders of the ancient world.
Like the hanging gardens in Babylon, like the temple in Jerusalem, Herod’s temple. This was one of the wonders of the ancient world. You know how at a shrine or a site, a cottage industry springs up where all the stuff.
Assault when you go to a ball game. Do you just go to a ball game? Don’t you buy the caps and the pennants and the hot dogs and all?
When you go.
It was that kind of thing, but it was all tide up with false worship.
And so the people who came to Jesus in Ephesus and the people who came to faith in him had a decision to make.
And they were so sure about what they did. They brought all that stuff and burned it. The people who produced it got so mad that a riot ensued, and as a result the church at Ephesus was born. Paul says to those people.
Our department Jesus says, through John to that group of people, now probably 70 years into their history as a church.
You know I want to commend some things. First of all, he says, I know your deeds.
I know what you do.
It’s not lost on the Lord. You know the good things that you do for him and also the empty things. It’s not, he sees it all says, I know what you do.
Then he says, I know that you have defended Orthodoxy. That’s what it means when it says they challenge people who said they were apostles that weren’t.
That’s really important in a day like ours, wouldn’t you agree that you know what the truth is? ’cause there’s all sorts of counterfeit stuff out there, so the church in Ephesus was very good at that.
And the Lord commended him. He said, that’s good. You you’ve challenged that. I think that’s really good that you know the truth.
And he says, I know that you’ve endured some things. That’s no small thing. A lot of people fall away when persecution comes, but this church didn’t.
He says, I know that you suffered some things and you endured that. That’s good and they said, I know you haven’t grown weary. There’s a lot to be said for just hanging on and hanging in, isn’t there?
And so the Lord says, I, I’ve noticed it that you haven’t grown weary serving me. But then he says, I have this thing against you though.
You’ve left your first love.
Now when I remember the first time I read that I thought you know you get the impression it’s like your first love as opposed to like we would use that expression like your first girlfriend or boyfriend, knowing that there were going to be a succession of other people you know. And it was the first one and you left your friend. That’s not what he means.
The Greek language is very clear here. This is what he’s saying.
You do not love me the way you loved me at the start.
Or at the 1st.
You have left off loving me like you did.
I remember what it was like when I came to know the Lord. Do you remember those days in your life when you first came to know Jesus as your savior?
It’s like all of a sudden. I remember when I first met my wife.
All of a sudden.
Nothing mattered anymore. It’s like you had to win this person affection you know and dear. See people you know when they’re I call it gooey in love.
Well, you know when when they are just that’s all that they think about and they’re they’re just all over each other and everything that they’re in love, you know and there’s something so precious about that because all of a sudden they don’t care how they look.
They don’t care how they’re perceived, all they all it matters to them is they want to please the one that they love. Isn’t that true?
Well, the Lord said I want you to go back to that that point in your life when all of a sudden you understood how much I really loved you and you responded to that I want you to go back to that because you’ve left off that.
I knew exactly what he meant the first time I read that Scripture, ’cause I remember what it was like when I first came to know the Lord all I thought about was how to please him when I read the Bible, it came alive to me for the very first time and I was just I wore out.
My first Bible was so dog eared. In fact, Ephesians was the worst one. I would turn my Bible.
Open, open it up and Ephesians would fall out page by page. I had read it so many times and underlined it so many times that the glue came off the binding.
But I’ve noticed my later Bibles don’t have that where.
There are no SAT.
All of a sudden you get a little bit sophisticated, you think?
Do you think that you pay attention to love letters?
Ask somebody in this service what they do with love letters from home. You think they like their cigarettes with?
Them no, no no no no no.
They hold onto him.
As it means the world to them that somebody cared enough to say that they love them and that they miss them or whatever. But Jesus said, I want you to go back, why would he say that?
I think he said it because.
It is sort of the default setting for humanity to ignore the Lord.
If we do what comes naturally, we’d look out for ourselves, don’t we?
It’s not because we’re bad people, it’s just because.
That’s what we do.
If you don’t think that man is basically self centered, I’ll just say one phrase, toddler.
Watch how altruistic toddlers are.
Me mine now.
And that’s about their vocabulary.
Now we think it’s cute with kids, but what it means to us is after a time.
We used to just be so in love with the Lord. We worship him freely and we thought about it and we were very intentional. But after a while we just kind of OK.
Going to church.
When you go back from church.
And you kind of do your thing at church.
Wasn’t like that at the beginning for me. I don’t think it was for you either. And he says that you have this in your favor.
He said you hate the deeds of the nicolaitanes, which I also hate. Well, that settles that I’m glad we understand about the nickel lanterns.
What’s a nickel atom?
Is it a cable channel?
Cute, Nicolette and what is that? The nickel lanterns? Most Bible commentators agree that the nickel lanterns were probably a faction within the church.
That taught that the way to get on in this world is just to compromise, and if there’s sexual immorality going on, just participate with it.
The Lord knows how hard it is to be in the world. So just do take the path of least resistance and do what everybody else is doing.
And that’s the way to get along. Do you think that the nicolaitan spirit has affected the church all throughout history? Absolutely.
It goes on to this day.
I was really surprised to understand about how sexual ethics have changed in the church.
Not in the world. In the church.
And how so many people really think that the way the world is doing, it’s probably OK and we just kind of smear a little bit of religious cosmetic on our lives and call it good, no?
There is a way to be that pleases the Lord, and there’s a way to be that doesn’t please him, but at the beginning, didn’t you pay attention to that and want to know what those things were? But as we get a little bit further on, we don’t pay attention as much.
So he says, repent and do the things that you did at the first. He said you’ve left off loving me the way you loved me at the first, he says. Here’s the way back.
And do the things that you did.
I’ll tell you one thing I did when I was first saying if that church door was open, I was there.
If it was Sunday morning, it was Sunday evening. It was Wednesday night. If there was anything going on. I was there because I couldn’t wait to get there to be with God.
People to hear the word preach to worship the Lord. Nobody had. It was not like a root canal for me. Oh man, I gotta go to.
I couldn’t wait to get to church.
Because I expected and I was never disappointed that the Lord was going to show up and do stuff.
But then after a while, it’s like.
You know, did somebody tell you when you were going out with the person you ended up marrying? Did somebody have to tell you you know you’re going to have to go be with them now? Oh no, has it come to that?
Course not. Couldn’t wait to be with that person. You worked your schedule around anytime you could be together you were together. If you couldn’t be together you’d talk on the phone. Didn’t you want to talk on the phone?
We had the added complication when Judy and I met and got engaged. I had to come back to the United States to wait for a visa to get back into Canada. So we were 3000 miles apart.
I think I personally underwrote the budget for the state of Ohio through my Ohio Bell bill with long distance it was it was an award winner, but you know, you just you care about somebody who want to talk to him.
It’s no different with the Lord, so he says.
You hate compromise like I do the nicolaitans so I said this if you will.
Conquer or prevail or overcome I will cause you to eat from the tree of life which is in the paradise of God.
Now I’m going to date myself here a little bit. Some of you old hippies might remember this.
In the 60s you know my wife goes goes through these periods of time where I think she’s demon possessed so he just does really wicked things.
She pulls out.
The photo albums and I get to see what I look like 30 years ago.
Long hair down to my shoulder. Big beard, dark hair.
Skinny, I was skinny.
Don’t you laugh so hard? Look at you.
And I used to wear flared bell bottoms. I had a big belt with a peace sign on my my belt and and I used to wear long underwear shirts with the round collar. That was the uniform of the day and if you were really cool, you had a Navy peacoat.
Yeah, I remember I had one of those Patchouli oil.
One of the anthems of that generation, and I think anybody that lived during that period of time, even if you didn’t know the lyrics, you’d remember the song. Remember the song Woodstock, Crosby, Stills, Nash and young.
I remember they had this big festival in upstate New York and it turned into this big event where you know hundreds of thousands of people showed up in this guys farm and there was this big.
The music was probably the story, but it was a there was a rebellion attendant to that that flavored the next decades of our history, didn’t it? Where everything was called into question.
You know how when you remember songs you think you know the lyrics, but you really don’t?
Have you ever sat there and you’re humming along and you’re singing a lyric and somebody says that’s not what that says.
Then you start arguing about it, have you? How many of you have ever called a radio station just to find out what the lyrics really well?
I’ve done that on a couple of occasions. Come on, tell me what the lyrics really are. We’re scrapping about this. I remember thinking about the time we got to Woodstock. We will have.
A million strong mirror I remember thinking I knew what those lyrics were what a sobering thing it was to read those lyrics this morning. This is what the lyrics really said.
Well, I came upon a child of God. He was walking along the road and I asked him where are you going this he told me said I’m going down to Yasgur’s farm gonna join in a rock and roll band got to get back to the land and set my soul free.
We are Stardust. We are golden. We are billion year old carbon and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.
Goes on to say then can I walk beside you. I’ve come to lose the smog and I feel like I’m a cog in something turning.
Maybe it’s the time of year. Maybe it’s the time of man. I don’t know who I am, but life is for learning.
We are Stardust. We are golden. We are billion year old carbon and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.
You know what? I never, I didn’t know that’s what it was. I always got the part we are Stardust we are.
Golden then I went down.
But I didn’t know what the words were.
Billion year old carbon, but I didn’t catch the very. They didn’t sing the refrain the same way at the very end.
I didn’t know that. Here’s the last time and the refrain of that song that says we are Stardust. We are golden. We are caught in the.
And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.
What was that all about?
Did you notice that there were spiritual overtones to that people talked about? They had no idea what they were experiencing, but it was like spiritual man.
Whoa, wow, you know and people were just in the ozone somewhere like oh man, far out. Oh man heavy, it was heavy and it was so heavy. Oh man Oh yeah and people.
They go on and they couldn’t. They couldn’t define a thing about it. Isn’t it? Interesting though, that the artists who sang the anthem that people used to just sing and shake their heads too didn’t even know what the words were, it says.
It falls to us to go and repair our own souls, and it’s got something to do with getting back to the garden.
I think primarily people know it was the garden of the Lord and what we needed to get back to was the way that God intended it to be.
And they said we’ve got to get ourselves back to that. No, we didn’t have to get ourselves back to that.
We were barred from that because we didn’t do it right in the 1st place. The people or the the beings that guarded the garden of God.
For men ever going back to it was not Satan. It was the Angel of the Lord.
And the Angel Lord stood guard in that garden because people refused to worship God and began to say I will worship what I want.
Self became exalted over the Lord.
That’s at the core of everything that we’re in the middle of. If you think about it, listen to what we were created to do.
Remember I told you Revelation 2 is about the church at Ephesus. Turn to Ephesians chapter one and listen to what Paul told him to go back to.
Or the Jesus told him to go back to what Paul told him originally. Jesus said, go back to the way that you loved me at the 1st.
What did Paul say to them at the 1st?
Ephesians one verse 3 praise be to the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Now listen to this part.
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.
In love he pre destined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ in accordance with his pleasure and will. And here’s the phrase.
To the praise.
Of his glorious grace.
He chose us. He pre destined us to be sons, but to the praise of his glorious grace. Later in that chapter.
Verse 11 in him we also were chosen, having been having been pre destined according to the plan of Emma. Works out everything in conformity with his purpose of will or the purpose of his will.
In order that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise.
Of his glory.
I think it’s a fair question to ask, why do we convene as a church? Why do we gather together?
Well, it’s because that’s what you do. That’s what you do on Sunday. Everybody knows that it’s what happens before lunch.
We take the kids because we want the kids to go to Sunday school.
We we like visiting with our friends. We it’s. It’s what we do. We go to church.
If that’s your understanding of it, it wouldn’t be surprising to me at all if praise and worship wouldn’t make much sense to you unless you knew why it was that we did it.
Paul said you exist. You were chosen your reason for existence is the praise of his glorious grace. We exist to be to his prey. That’s why we’re here.
And there’s so much more than I think that we are to experience. Turn to Psalm 22. Would you?
Psalm 22 we quoted this verse last week, but I want to say it again because I think there’s something here for us.
The 22nd song.
Oh my God, I cry out by day but you don’t answer by night and I’m not silent.
Yet you are enthroned as the holy one. You are the praise of Israel. Another translation of that verse says you are enthroned upon.
The praises of Israel.
Last week we we took quite a bit of time in the message to make the point that when we praise the Lord with understanding when we worship him intentionally.
That he has covenanted with his people that he will establish his throne in the midst of people who would do that with understanding. What does that mean? His throne would be established.
While all I can tell you is in the ancient world, if you wanted something done, there was only one place that was going to happen and that was for the king.
To intervene the king to do something and so to gain an audience with the king was a pretty important thing.
If you got into the presence of king and you asked him for something, it got done. It was really done.
Because the throne represented the sovereign’s will.
So the Lord says praise.
Is where his throne descends among his people. Turn to Psalm 115. Would you just scroll ahead a little bit in your Bible? Psalm 115.
To understand, praise and worship, we’ve got to understand. First of all, the height from which we’ve fallen. Remember, he said in the book of the Revelation Jesus said to the church, don’t forget where you’ve fallen from.
Do the things you did at the first. I want to restore something to you. What did they fall from? They fell from this.
The highest heaven verse 16 of Psalm 115 the highest heavens belong to the Lord.
But the earth he has given to man.
It is not the dead who praised the Lord. Those who go down to silence it is we who extol the Lord both now and forever more.
One of the things that I think we have to know is where we we came from. If Crosby Stills, Nash and Young could get a whole generation, how many words they didn’t even understand about getting back to the.
Garden why did that resonate with you?
Because I think deep within our hearts, we all know that there’s more I love that chorus that we sang this morning. There must be more than this.
You were created for more than what you’re experiencing. You just know that, don’t you? You know that there’s more.
You know that there’s a nobility about you that you don’t always experience, and you know that somehow you’re experiencing less than what God made you for. I know that.
I know you know that I think there come times when you just say.
It’s almost like a hint where you just remember it’s like a vague memory. You can’t put you, it’s almost ethereal. You can’t put your finger on it, but it’s like.
When you come to worship times, you feel it and you feel it. You can’t understand it. You couldn’t articulate it, but there’s something. What is it all of a sudden you feel significance?
Significance because you’re doing what you were born to do.
And once you start doing what you were born to do, the Lord will give you assignments about your life, but it will spring from a heart of worship.
And an understanding of what he meant. It’s we who extol the Lord, but look at what happened. Go back at the very first verse of Psalm 115.
So if the heavens the highest heavens belonged to the Lord, but he gave the earth to man, he did.
By the way, Membering creation, the Book of Genesis let us create man in our image and likeness and let them have the rule. The rule over what this earth?
The creation that the Lord made he wanted man to rule that under him, but we fell from that how?
By listening to the lie.
Of the serpent. I’m going to talk about that in a minute, but look at first one.
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. Why do the nations say where is their God our God and is in heaven?
He does whatever pleases him but their idols.
Are silver and gold made by the hands of men? They have mouths, but they can’t speak eyes, but they cannot see.
They have ears, but cannot hear noses, but they cannot smell. They have hands, but they can’t feel feet but they can’t walk nor can they utter astound with their throats. Now look at this incredible verse.
Those who make them will be like them.
And so will all who trust in them.
But what idols?
Worship that you make up.
Worship on your terms. Isn’t it interesting that one of the most popular television programs now is called American? What?
American Idol what’s that all about?
A group of people try out for fame and recognition and they narrow it down in this ruthless set of judges.
I’ve only seen about 10 minutes of one episode, so I don’t know how the whole format of the program goes, but all I remember is people sitting down and critiquing people and saying, oh, you know, don’t even bother singing.
That’s terrible and all the rest of it, and they narrow it and they narrow it and they narrow it.
Then finally the American Idol and they get the big recording contract and everybody says, oh.
All based on performance, isn’t it?
At the heart of worship that the Lord isn’t behind.
Is our sense of performance.
That we will bring to the Lord what we want. We’ll worship the Lord in our own way. Every time I hear that I want to gag, I don’t need the church, I just worship the Lord in my own way. There’s a word for that. It’s called rebellion.
You know, let’s go back to the garden. How did man fall in the 1st place? The serpent tempted the woman said, hath God said you shall not said?
The Lord said that because he knows that once you eat of that, you’ll be like him knowing everything and he doesn’t want that for you.
And so the woman made the decision the guy went along before too long they fell from where they were.
You know who the serpent was?
The devil wasn’t always the devil. You know who he used to be.
Lucifer his name means light bearer and he was the Angel who led the others in worship before the throne of God. Satan is a worship leader who rebelled against worshipping God. That’s who he is.
Isn’t it interesting that when people get into a trap of that whole thing, what do they start doing? They start to become self centered.
They start to become me centered. They start to have a menu driven view of the things of God. What will I get out of this? What will this mean for me?
CS Lewis put it so well. He said the angels that fell from heaven remember a number of them fell with Lucifer.
It said so sad God had created them to be adjectives, yet they long to be nouns.
What’s an adjective? An adjective modifies something else, the subject.
But nouns, they stand alone.
See, it’s not about music style, it really isn’t. It’s not about preference, it’s not about performance, it’s about a hard attitude.
Whether or not we convene to present ourselves to worship our God, or whether we’re here for some sort of duty or religious exercise or something that really doesn’t mean anything.
He meant when he saved us not only to rescue us from hell, he meant to restore rulership and dominion through a group of people who would understand how to access his throne through praise and worship.
I’ve ever heard this. I know you’ve heard this word, but I don’t know if you very much thought about the word alleluia.
When people worship the Lord, oftentimes somebody near you will be saying Hallelujah, praise you, Jesus, I worship your holy.
It’s one of those words kind of a church word.
Comedians make fun of it sometimes and say Hallelujah and they they kind of just use that for exuberance or something. You know where it comes from.
The original root in the language says how loud it means to be clear.
In either sound or in color.
To show forth, to boast.
To be clamorously foolish, it’s used in one sense to rave or to celebrate.
To say that somebody is renowned or worthy of praise, the very word worship comes from an old English word we or ship, which means to ascribe worth to somebody or something.
To ascribe worth when we worship the Lord, we’re saying.
You’re worth it.
You are the only worthy one. I’m not worthy of praise. You are not to us, but to you Lord, remember, we just read that.
So what does it come down to? Well, everybody knows that you only sing hymns if you just sing enough hymns, you worship the Lord, and if it particularly feels like it was when I was a little kid in church, then we’ve really worshipped the Lord.
And then somebody else says, Oh no, you’re not going to sing those hymns, or we have to sing choruses and everything. And it’s got to be as contemporary as last month, or it’s not hot.
We need to do that. I sent a note to my online class that I’ve been teaching on Corinthians. I said, you know, Paul talked about factions in the church at Corinth and I said in your history, what has been one of the things that splits churches about factions and people get into little groups. What is it? I was amazed at how many notes came back to me.
From all over the country, I have students from Virginia and Fiji and everywhere in between that convened for this online class and almost all of them said worship styles.
One guy sent me a note and he said I came from a church that said guitars were OK so long as you didn’t plug them in.
Guitars are OK so long as you don’t plug them in and then somebody else talked about liturgy and forms and whether or not we would praise the Lord, or whether we’d lift our hands and made that the big thing. And people start scrapping about when it’s none of those things.
It’s a hard attitude.
It’s why we do what we do.
Now, one of the things that that I like to think of myself as.
Maybe I’m off on this, you can help me here, but I like to think I know what’s appropriate most of the time.
I went to a memorial service yesterday for a friend and I’ll talk about that in a minute, but when I went.
I was kind of dressed like this.
And my tone was not hey, how it was a memorial service.
And so you were a little subdued, and your tone and your your volume of conversation everything reflected that.
Where on Earth did the Western church get the notion that when it comes to worshipping the Lord, that the most highly esteemed attribute is restraint and subdued?
Now, if that’s respect, that’s probably OK.
But if that’s some kind of I’m holding back, that’s not OK.
Because we are to present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, which is our reasonable form of.
Worship presenting our body so you say, well Pastor, here comes some of you came here today and said here comes Margaret I knew this is one of those.
Pentecostal charismatic churches. They’re going to launch one in a minute watch. He’s gonna lose it right now. They’re going to do it. They’re going to go crazy now.
Not at all.
But I’ll tell you that there is a great place for you understanding that maybe your view of yourself needs some adjustment. Maybe you need to get over yourself a little bit.
And maybe when we come together, it’s appropriate to extend your hands and worship. Maybe it’s appropriate to speak praise to the Lord.
Maybe when we do praise the Lord you could say something right out loud boasting about the Lord being clamorously foolish if you will about him, and that your alleluias got some tread to it and you say because of what the Lord’s done.
For me, I’m not ashamed to say I will praise you Lord. I will worship you Lord, but we say in church we’d never do.
Let me just paint a word picture for you, and I know you’re going to come with me. It’s Sunday morning and the fall coming up real soon. You get the remote, you get your cup of coffee. You get your snacks.
The NFL, you know. And there’s her favorite team and then they pan the stands after the wide receiver makes this circus catch and runs for a 75 yard touchdown. The crowd goes crazy. They pan the stands and this is what you see.
Doctors, accountants, teachers with dog faces on cheeseheads bare chested in 10 degree weather with grease paint slogans on bellies that never should be shown in public.
And you see people doing dances and do it because some guy was very skillful with a piece of hide filled with air.
And when we come to Trisha, this is church.
Now am I contending for some sort of uniformed, enthusiastic response that is critiqued?
Not at all, but I am saying don’t miss the fact that the worship leader who fell from heaven knows the power that is released when people understand about praise and worship and he would thwart you more than you know by your pride.
By your pride.
Have you ever noticed?
What what do you call when you go to church?
You go to the first or second.
I never much thought about that. I came across the reading preparing for this this weekend. We call them services.
What do you?
Call it when people go into the military. They’re in the.
And the service. Now I want to tell you how people prepare.
For the service.
I I served for a while with a a battalion of marines that were head there in Iraq. Right now the 6th Engineer Support Battalion based up here in Eugene.
There is one battalion here that we used to be one in Portland and Salem and they’re part of the fourth FSSG the Forest Service supply group or Oregon. It’s called.
But when I was with them, I will tell you that when they formed up.
To hear what the commanding officer had to say, this is not what happened. Somebody did not come out with a boombox and flip flops.
And cut offs in a T shirt and.
Yo colonel’s up.
Long before they ever even heard the first Sergeant, the company First Sergeant would come out and you would hear this command and it was a command standby and so that meant everybody scurried into their position. They should have been there already, but hurriedly they’re almost done.
Attention right now.
And then the first Sergeant would.
He would see the commanding officer coming and he wouldn’t even turn around. He would say company a 10 and then boom.
Everybody was just like 1 unit just standing there and attention and the commanding officers. And then they were all in their ranks. They were all in their positions and as soon as the commanding officer was done he he would.
And they were.
He would give a command of the First Sergeant, first Sergeant. They did this face if I never quite got it right, but you know they would try. I just did it. That’s pretty cool.
He would turn around, he’d say.
Platoon sergeants take charge and carry out the plan of the day. He would and then turn in in turn to his people and he would say, here’s here’s what we’re going to do.
There was none of this.
I have an idea, you little cuddle. I’m getting a blister.
I don’t think I’ll be here today. I think I’ll just hang out like that absolutely. So that’s in the service.
But when we come to worship, these are the postures and I get to see him. Frankly, this is no critique of you. This is worldwide. This is the posture sometimes.
I don’t like this song. Pick a song I like.
Why don’t they do him? They never do it in a sentence.
Yeah, why did they do that? Him stand there? Look at that. That’s one part. Here’s another posture.
Show me something do so.
Not to people that’s to the Lord.
I’m here show me something, do a miracle or something.
People have that posture with Jesus. You know her and couldn’t wait to meet Jesus ’cause he was hoping to do a circus act. When he finally did meet him, he said do something. I heard you can do stuff.
So you know there there’s one posture. It’s kind of like this. There’s another posture. It’s like this. There’s another posture like this.
I personally prefer this posture.
Lord, I’ve prepared to be in your presence and I’m standing at your beckon call and I am in a posture that says you are above me. I’m a creature, you’re the creator. I worship you and I’m in it I’m attentive to that today.
I’m paying attention. I’m here. I have presented you know what? By the way, when they form up.
What do they say? They will say all present and or accounted for, Sir.
So that means everybody that’s supposed to be here supposed to be here? Why else would it have to be in the Bible? Do not forsake the gathering together, as has become the custom of many.
I don’t need the church, I just worship Jesus in my own way.
That’s a crummy attitude because the Lord convenes his church as a body. He goes to great pains all throughout his word to say that the worship of God is a corporate experience and that you are individually part of a body together you are in.
You don’t even probably know each other real well. You are bound together in Jesus Christ. You have the same interests. You have the same Lord and he will speak to you together.
You know, and I think about that. Sometimes we say, well, I just North America, we’re just cool. You know, I’ll write, I check let’s just call it good and I’ll show up at Christmas and Easter.
In 1647, the Westminster Catechism that became the basis for religious training for almost every Protestant denomination listen to what it says. This was the question in the catechism. What is the chief aim of man?
In 1647 this question was answered. Man Chief End is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.
To glorify God.
And to enjoy him forever, both things take place. Both things are significant. Praise and worship. Yes, it serves God, but it also serves man’s deepest needs for and then right about this time and getting ready for this. I was looking for a word. Man has a deep need for.
For and I was I was really doing that looking for the word.
And then I went back and reread a passage in a book that Jack Hayford wrote years ago called worship His Majesty.
That’s what we need.
We have to once again recover the sense that when we gather together we are meeting with the King of the universe.
And there’s majesty. Attentive, attentive, or attended attendant to that.
There is significance beyond just a casual show up for a few minutes. We have come to present ourselves to the one who created us.
And we’ve come to present ourselves in worship, Jack wrote in that book. He said worship will only make complete sense when we understand its place in God’s complete plan.
Now he and Anna, his wife, had happened to have been at this particular juncture in their life. They were in Europe on a ministry tour.
They had been to the Netherlands I believe, and so they had come to England and they were going to speak at Oxford in about 3 days, but they had a couple days off to where they could just do sightseeing and stuff and so.
They rented a car and they went out to the British countryside. I remember reading that can just picture this so easily and so they rented a car like good tourists and they and I.
Apparently I’ve never been to Europe, but apparently in England you get outside London. You get out in the country.
It’s all sorts of castles, and the history is so rich and so you can go to these places.
And they went to one particular community called Blenheim.
And they didn’t have any rental car. They drove to Blenheim now Blenheim Palace was built at Queen ends order and was presented to one John Churchill. The first Duke of Marlborough.
Two centuries later, Winston Churchill was born there and raised there in that palace.
It was to Blenheim and the castle there that Churchill would retreat during the darkest moments of the the Blitzkrieg and the the attack on London when they thought that Britain was going to fall. You remember how close it came?
The battle in the air battle over London was one of the turning points, if not the turning point of World War Two, and I personally believe one of the turning points of saving Western civilization.
Churchill used to retreat back to this place and that’s where he wrote all those speeches that motivated the people to hang on.
I can only promise you blood sweat and to remember those things that he said he had a way with words that made him one of the most unique orders in the history of the world, I think.
Because with his words, he was able to convey to people the significance of their struggle and why it was important for them to hold out. Remember that.
It was at that place that he wrote those things. He wrote this there.
No one is compelled to serve great causes unless one feels fit for it.
But nothing is more certain than you cannot take the lead in great causes if you are but a half timer.
I knew exactly what he meant when I read that.
People say, and I’ve heard this not so much here, but other places that I’ve been, how was church today? I was OK.
You know, remember American bandstand. Some of you really old people remember Dick Clark and the American Bandstand. Remember that they would rape the records.
You know, and these guys with the big haircuts and everything, the big pompadour, haircuts and everything, and they would stand there.
And they were dancing and the camera would pan around and at the end of it, Dick Clark would go.
I think Dick Clark is 205 now. He just doesn’t get old. He’s one of those.
So anyway, Dick Clark would go up and say, well, tell us about that record and they would go chewing gum and everything and they’d say, yeah, I gave it at 8. I really liked it but You Can Dance to it.
How was church today? That’s OK. Worship was alright, preacher was OK and everything was a little hot.
It’s not because you would be bad people. Absolutely not. You know why that is is because we live in a culture that says if you have to wait more than 20 seconds for your Big Mac life as you know it is over.
We have it all wrong. If we come for what we’re going to get.
We come to present ourselves, present our bodies now Jack, listen to what he said about Winston Churchill after they left the Blenheim Palace got back in the rental car and he said to his wife Anna.
Being raised in such an environment would certainly make it far more credible for a person to conceive of himself as a person of destiny.
He was musing on the fact that Churchill probably had a great sense of destiny because he was in these regal surroundings and he understood about royalty and rulership, and the significance of the responsibility.
Worship can do that for us. Do you know when you really find out who you are?
By the time I got to the farm, we got to get back to the garden. You know what that was all about?
People searching for significance. Maybe it’s the time of year. Maybe it’s the time of man, but I don’t know who I am.
They were telling the truth.
In that song.
When we worship the Lord, you know what happens. Two things happen. First of all, we do exactly what he wants us to do and we please him.
But the second thing is we find out who we are and we get our bearings about our life and why we’re even alive.
We exist to the praise of his glorious grace. After he left, they were talking about this experience with Churchill.
Jack turned to Anna in the car and said honey, would you get out of a pad and a pencil? Just write some things down.
Worship His Majesty unto Jesus. Be all glory and power and praise, Majesty Kingdom authority flows from his throne unto his own.
His anthem raise so exalt lift up on high the name of Jesus, magnify, come glorify Christ Jesus the King.
Majesty worship His Majesty Jesus, who died now glorified king of all. That’s where that hymn came.
Leaving that castle and understanding that if people could understand who they were from, it would spring a sense of destiny.
Here’s a question.
What on earth do we communicate to our kids about church?
Do we say you better? I’m going to make you wash behind your ears. I’m going to drag you to church because you have to.
But why not take him to a dentist and get a root canal and get it over with?
Or punish him? OK, you’re going to church. Oh man.
Or they mean I have to?
Do we communicate a sense of duty?
Do we communicate to them that some debt poor Jesus needs for us to come? So we were indebted to him. So we better go worship or Jesus is lonely.
It’s none of those things. You know what it is.
I my kids and I’m thankful about this and why really worried about it. Because preachers kids are notorious, aren’t they?
Do you know what they used to ask me? When do we get to go to church?
Because it was significant and important for them and they wanted to be here because it was something important to miss out. When we communicate to our kids.
A sense of destiny.
Because it was always in gatherings and in corporate worship times that the Lord spoke directional things to both my kids and shape them into who they’re becoming.
It was when people would worship. People would be gathered with others. These camps all man.
I was at a pastors conference before we broke into smaller districts. The Northwest District used to have 1000 pastors and wives. When we would get together, there were that many churches in the Northwest District. We had 1000 people at our pastors conferences.
And one time, Cliff Haynes was our district supervisor. He said, I’m just curious how many of you in this room.
Came to know the Lord at Camp Crestview.
Hands shot up all over the room.
How many of you received your call to public ministry at that camp?
More people raised their hands at how many of you met your husband or wife at camp? It was stunning.
I looked around and I thought a group of people convening to worship the Lord and be taught his ways, and he shaped destinies of preachers for an entire generation.
Because they understood.
How about worship?
I remember and I was thinking of two things in preparation for this, I’m going to close in just a moment.
I was in the Rotunda of the Capitol.
After September 11th, about six months later, we had to go back to a pastors conference and kind of do a lessons learned about what we we did when we went back to New York and we had teams that went to the Pentagon as well. And when we were back in New York, the next or in in Washington.
The next time we were able to take a little time off in the afternoon and we got to get a tour of the Capitol.
And I went into the Rotunda of the Capitol. Anybody here ever been in there?
Is that not an impressive thing?
I was looking around at the the murals on the wall. You know there’s one I can remember it, it’s huge.
Painting of the baptism of Sacagawea.
You don’t hear about that on the Evening News. You look up at the Dome of the Capitol and there’s George Washington being ushered into heaven by angels.
I was looking there.
And we had a great tour guide.
Who was explaining the significance of everything, and I remembered John Kennedy’s casket being in the center of that and the nation morning when the young president was assassinated and leaders since then. And why we gathered there and all the rest of it.
And I was caught with this and I was in my uniform that day because we were a group of chaplains and then we escorted me. There was a lot of security.
Since September 11th and we had to get our credentials checked and everything.
But just for a moment I had this overwhelming sense of gratitude and awe come over me.
That I was an American.
Now, I’m not going to wrap myself in the flag and say America, right or wrong and talk about wars and politics.
That’s not what I mean. I had a sense of who I was and my place in the grand scheme of things as an adjective to something much larger.
It was a humbling experience and I remember being so deep I cried.
I just stood there at that old Lord.
What you’ve allowed for me.
And and it was not a kind of fool, you know. It was more of a a sobering.
Awe inspiring thing that says great responsibility comes with this gift that we have.
When I was in New York.
There was a lot of chaos you can imagine there were armed soldiers and Battery Park in Manhattan. The Staten Island Ferry had armed gunboat escorts fact during the convention.
Did you see during the Democratic Convention there were Coast Guard motor lifeboats with armed 50 caliber machine guns escorting the ferries back and forth to Manhattan?
It was like that.
But there was one particular thing that happened. I’ll never forget it. I was standing there on appear, there was a chaplain. I paired off with his name. Was Chaplain Greenslit, a Lutheran fellow great friend.
And we would go out in pairs and doing all this one particular day, we were at a pier where the mayor had his office of Emergency Management.
That’s where the federal government had the FBI response. And so it was a highly secure thing. There were people running around with automatic weapons and all the rest of it we had to have credentials, or you couldn’t even be within blocks of that place.
So we’re standing there and we’re on the pier trying to flag down some transportation and I saw Coast Guard motor lifeboats and we were in our uniforms, so I thought maybe they can get us from here over there a lot cheaper or not cheaper a lot quicker than grand ground transportation in Manhattan, ’cause the roads were closed.
So we’re standing there and these two guys came out of that pier building and they looked like men in black.
They looked the part, they had the suits and everything. They had the little earpieces. They had the tone, they look like Jack Webb.
Some of you remember you know Sergeant Friday and they came out and one of them just buttoned the coat and everything and.
You could see the bulge.
Called the silver chaplain Greenslit and I said you to come here.
So what is it? He said the Queen of Jordan is in there.
And she’s probably going to come out this way, and there’s a really good chance she’s going to come up and say something to you now, here is what you are to do, and here’s what you are not to do.
I knew what to do. Have some cottage.
Grow hey Queenie Suzanne hi.
Second, what to do?
Everybody knows that.
How’s it going here?
That would be the Canadian response to the Queen, but.
In my wife’s honor, I said that.
No, he said there’s a protocol, he said first of all and as soon as he said that Chaplin Greenslit and I both did the same thing and innately started straightening ourselves, the ribbons and the name tag in place and everything. Why? ’cause a queen was coming?
I mean, you just don’t treat the queen coming casually. No, you don’t.
Heads of state when they go see the Pope at the Vatican.
Did they go in and say, hey Pope, how’s it going?
No, there’s a protocol. They have to dress a certain way. They have to address the Pope a certain way.
Why is that? Because people have understood there’s a significance attached to the position, and that’s what you respect.
And I remember it said that you know you don’t just approach the queen. You’re going to say something. We’re going to tell you two things. I went to the memorial service yesterday and I polished my shoes.
And you might ask, what on Earth does that have to do with anything? Well?
Ron Wood with the pastor at Eugene Faith Center, one of the associate pastors who died suddenly. We prayed for him last week and in the time it took for me to drive up there, he died that morning.
And so they had the memorial service for him yesterday. Sweet man, I loved him. He I want to be like him when I grow up. He’s just the nicest warmest guy in the world and.
And so, anyway, Eugene Face Center was full yesterday of people come to pay homage to the memory of this man.
And one of the guys that got up and eulogized and was pastor on Killian who pastors are North Eugene Face Center.
Ron was an intern at Eugene Face Center and kind of given into Ron Woods. Care to kind of teach him the ropes, and so he became his mentor and his tutor and Ron got up and he said.
He taught me so many things, he said one of the things he taught me was how to be.
He said you don’t know what I mean. I’m going to tell you what I mean. He taught me how to be with people.
He taught me how to be reverent with the things of God. He taught me how to be a pastor, and then he said he taught me how to dress.
And I knew exactly what he meant. And for some reason I looked down, I was dressed pretty well like this. I had a different outfit, but coat and tie.
And these particular shoes.
And I looked down.
And they weren’t really gross looking. I mean, they’re they were just kind of scuffed up and.
They hadn’t polished him for a while.
When I looked down and I remembered something.
I used to always Polish my shoes.
I mean, I was almost religious about it. Judy used to tease me.
In fact, when I got the Polish out when I came home, she said, don’t you even go near the couch and Polish those shoes on the couch she knew from before I did that one.
Coming out in the garage and did that, but why? Why what’s the Big deal about that? In the memorial? You know what Pastor Ron Wood and so many people like him have shown me in their lifetime?
They understood the significance and the appropriateness of awe and reverence to the Lord, and they modeled it and I. You know what I remember about him. He always looked.
Like he should look.
For what he was doing because he was on the King’s business.
And I remember looking at that and I remember you know what you know. When I used to Polish my shoes when I knew an inspection was coming.
In the military, do you Polish your shoes before an inspection? You better believe you do.
You know, and you really pay attention to it because they stand there and those guys come and they, you know James is going to be in in the old guard, which is a famous unit that does Arlington. The White House has a lot of different things. The ceremonial.
Uh outfit in the Army and James is going to join that unit shortly. I’m so proud of him.
But I’ll tell you what you do not show up in cut offs, do you?
You know, do they worry about your haircut?
You will think they’re boring.
Holes into the side of your head. They’re going to get so close and look and see how high and tight that is.
They’re going to look at the shoes. They’re going to see if there’s you should see people grooming each other before marine core inspection. They look like monkeys picking bugs off each other.
And they get tape and they take all the little threads and loose threads and everything. And they’re just totally they they want to be squared away.
Because they’re going to be inspected by the commanding officer. What on earth do we think we’re doing when we come into the presence of God with attitudes like?
We get to stand in the presence of the God who created us and I remember thinking.
I used to do that, you know why I stopped doing it? No other reason than I got lazy and sloppy.
That’s all I just got lazy and careless and too familiar.
And I didn’t care anymore.
I saw a fellow.
Coming out here today.
You know the bike path.
I was stopped at the light and I could see the bike path downtown and this guy I’ve seen him before.
He has a motorized chair.
He’s a senior citizen. He’s in a motorized chair and with one hand he controls the power of the chair.
And the other one he has a broom.
And he’s all by himself.
And I know I usually see somebody, but you don’t really see him today. I saw him. You know what he does?
He goes all by himself on that path and all he can do is work that power chair but with his free hand he’s got a broom and he’s clean in the path.
Maybe we don’t have degrees in theology, maybe not everybody is going to be, you know, a high profile servant in the body of Christ, but I want to tell you if we have to.
These are power chairs you’re sitting in, and every one of you can prepare the way for the Lord to come in his power and in his Kingdom, if you will.
But worship him with understanding.
It’s what we exist to do. We are to the praise.
Of this glorious grace.