..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

True Worship & False Worship: Part 1-- Singing the Truth

Does the worship we give God honor Him in the
light of His Holiness? The word worship is
defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as
"the feeling or expression of reverence and
for a deity. 2 religious rites and
3 great admiration or devotion."
The problem with this definition is that it does
not tell us what we really need to know, namely,
"Am I worshipping the Lord of Glory in a way
that pleases Him?"

I've been thinking a lot about worship lately as
I participate in worship services. The term
"worship service" has become such a generic
term that it really does not tell me anything
specific, just as the dictionary definition did not.

Of course, just like everyone else, dictionary
writers don't want to be politically incorrect.
After all, they choose not to have subcategories
in their definition that say: true worship and false
worship along with those definitions. Or, can you
imagine if they defined true and false religion?
They would need combat pay for the ensuing riot
control. But really, we need to look to God and
not man to find out what true worship really is.

Although I have been hesitant to mention it, I
have been having quite the startling experiences
during the time when we are singing to the Lord.
Over the last two months, during times of
corporate worship, I keep hearing the Lord say,
at certain moments, in a loud and definitive
Voice in my heart, "Please stop singing."

The first time it happened it startled me but I
could tell that Lord meant it so I stopped
singing. Standing there silently, the next song
came around and, unsure about what to do, I start
singing cautiously but with spiritual ears wide
open. I hear nothing. A few songs later I again
hear, "Stop singing. I don't want to hear any
waltzes and I don't want to hear any slow songs
that go nowhere."

"What are you saying, Lord,?" I ask. Here is
what I heard for an answer: "People
sing to Me but they go into something of
a trance, and their mind often becomes
filled with sentimental but untrue ideas about Me.
Often the words convey man's thinking about Me:
falsehoods, trivialities and conveniences.

Furthermore, people sing words but they
often do not obey Me or put into
practice what they sing. There is
no passion. Just romantic fluff.
Sweet nothings. No passion. No
radical obedience. These songs lull
people to sleep and, in human
terms, put Me to sleep. Many people
are singing to feel good and not to offer
themselves to Me. They mistake the
warm feelings they feel for My approval.

I don't want a song that you can control
and that originates in man.
I don't want a dance where you lead.
I want to lead you. I want to lead you
passionately. I want you to follow My
lead passionately and with complete
surrender. I want the flame of totally
surrendered devotion in your hearts
when you sing. I want your love to be
freely given in absolute abandon. My
people are caught up in quagmire of cheap,
sentimental choruses. This are not
what I want to hear. Judge what you
will sing to me. See if it passes the

Now I probably would not have had the
courage to write this except for the fact
that someone else, as godly and sane as
they come, without knowledge of what
had happened to me, sought me
out and told me that she had been
singing along in a service and the Lord
said to her, "I can't hear anything."
Her reaction was the same as mine but
she knew what the Lord was saying,
"Words are coming out of your mouths,
but they are not reaching My ears" (and I
would venture to say, His heart.)

The Lord does not speak to us to have
us not listen. He speaks to teach and to
draw us to the Truth. What is true
worship? Well, a small part of it is
judging how and what we sing to the Lord.
"Out of the mouth the heart speaks" or in
this case "sings." We need to sing
words of truth, but we need to surrender
completely to have these words permeate
our spirit, soul and body.

We oft forget that singing is not for us,
but for Him. It is not to make us feel
good, but is an outward way, a banner to
wave so to speak, to present to the Lord
the deepest commitment of our heart to

God knows if your heart matches your song.
Just like in school, don't raise your hand
(or your voice) til you have the right answer
or you will be corrected. When you
raise your hands and voice to God, have a
right life behind it, or fall on your knees

(First in a series of posts on True & False Worship)


Ched said...

God knows if your heart matches your song.

A Good thought.

Gary said...

This is so true. For years now I've wondered if worship leaders are actually leading the congregation to worship, or if they are putting on a performance (leaning towards the latter).

A few months ago I've posted about this on my blog as well. God has not spoken to me as He has to you maybe because I simply refuse to sing a song that I think doesn't honor Him, resulting in not singing much anymore.

Finally, as I listen to most church goers they seem to confuse the word "Worship" with "Singing to the Lord". From what I understand, worship is the state of our hearts as we adore God and singing songs to God is an expression of worship. We express worship God in so many ways, as we study His Word and are obedient to it, as we share with one another affirmations of His glory for things. Even Jacob leaned on his staffed and worshipped (Gen 47:31).

I'm looking forward to your posts about this.

The Pen of The Wayfarer said...

Yes, well said. There are many ways to express worship to God --a great study to look at I might add! But all worship comes out of correct relationship with God, and stems from a life set apart to Him--not just the right words, but the right life! --Rose-Marie

Desert Pilgrim said...

Thank you so much for this. You have put in words something I also have been sensing, it is all about true worship, and where we actually are in the inner man before Him. I liked this so much I put a link to it from my blog, and it inspired me to get my own writing going again.

The Pen of The Wayfarer said...

Thank you, Desert Pilgrim. It is from deep within that we must worship--even in Spirit and in truth! Yes, do keep posting to your blog, you have some good things to say and post!

anna t. said...

tis odd that I read this today and last night had a profound dream in which singing entered in. There was a clear picture of a 3 ring binder, lying horizonatally, with the lyrics only, of songs. The actual lyrics could not be seen excpet for a blur [and same for the title] but the sense was that song is necessary part of worship.
For me, songs of worship come from the heart, not from a hymnal. The latter has its place, I think, for me as a solitary, songs are written in and from the heart! Can recall this happening and the song would vibrate, off and on, for days! Songs of worship and praise.
So, maybe the dream is saying that I am to return to that kind of song.
The singing in a worship service? It can just become rote and too often the song itself is so unknown to the congregation that no one attempts to sing it. That is NOT worship.
Maybe we all have to come to a personal decision regarding singing in the service itself. For me, singing privately is more from heart than from a page.
Enjoyed the article; great food for thought.
A solitary soul!

The Pen of The Wayfarer said...

yes, how beautiful and personal to sing our own songs, directly from our heart to the Lord. I'm sure the Lord would love to hear your own songs sung to Him again if that has not been your practice for a season. Dreams have great wisdom to give us from the Lord!

Ted Gossard said...

Pen of the Wayfarer,

Very good thought. I fear we miss it so bad, so often.

I love it best to sing Scripture. To the Lord. And as a reminder of his goodness and truth.

Thanks! (good food for further thought)

The Pen of The Wayfarer said...

yes, singing scripture is wonderful, and you can't go wrong with the words! :) ah, now to have a heart that matches!

Mark said...

Right on sister! I have been recently appauled by applause from the congergation after songs sung by a praise team member. Its happened three times in three different churches I attended lately. Imagine being put in the position of having praise that should be going to God being directed at you - the preformer!
I think all prasie teams should be in a pit facing away from the congergation as well.
Thought #2 I prefer songs "to" God rather than "about" God.
Thought #3 I think about worship as a Priest going up in from of the curtian of the Holy of Holies, " I am I going to live or die on the other side". Corperate worship is like the people at the foot of Mount Sinai.