Best on Passion for God

Today's Worship Quote is another from Harold Best's book Music Through the Eyes of Faith.

PASSION FOR GOD
Being moved by music is secondary to worshiping God. The Spirit is always to be free to direct our worship, whether the music moves us or not. It is only when being moved by music is coupled to a preceding passion for God that we are truly moved. Behind all of this is the Lord's continuous invitation to come and to continue worship. God wills that all of us worship him. Behind all of these secondary movings - music, art, drama, dance, architecture, atmosphere, and environment - is the primary mover, whose most quiet call and gentlest reminder speak louder than our most elaborate art pieces.

- Harold Best, Music Through the Eyes of Faith (San Francisco, CA: Harper Collins, 1993), 152.


CHIP'S THOUGHTS

There it is again-worship as a response to the love and work of the "primary mover." Note that the author is not speaking against emotion in music; nor is he speaking despairingly against the use of the various fine arts in the worship life of the church. He is merely warning us not to confuse an emotional response to art with a passion for God.

Have a great week!


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White on a Definition of Corporate Worship

Today's Worship Quote is another definition of corporate worship, this time by the contemporary Methodist theologian James F. White. Here he stresses the human purpose in worship:

DEFINITION OF CORPORATE WORSHIP
Called from the world, we come together, deliberately seeking to approach reality at its deepest level by encountering God in and through Jesus Christ and by responding to this awareness.

- James F. White, Introduction to Christian Worship, (Abingdon Press, 1980), as quoted in Don Hustad's Jubilate II: Church Music in Worship and Renewal, (Hope, 1993).


CHIP'S THOUGHTS

Reality at its deepest level! Responding to an awareness of God! How can we so often take worship so lightly?

Have a great week!


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Best on Superior Worship

Today's WORSHIP QUOTE speaks to the constant temptation to rank one system of worship as superior to another.

SUPERIOR WORSHIP
The Scriptures include or allude to just about every approach to worship there is: organized, spontaneous, public, private, simple, complex, ornate or plain. Yet there is no comment anywhere about any one way being preferred over another. Rather, it is the spiritual condition of the worshiper that determines whether or not God is at work. This fact alone countermands the tendency to assume that if we could just find the correct or fashionably relevant system, all will be well and God will come down. This doesn't imply that we have no responsibility to make intelligent and sensitive choices or to be creative. But whatever these choices eventually are, they are incapable all by themselves of establishing the superiority of one system over another.

- Harold M. Best, Music through the Eyes of Faith (San Francisco: Harper, 1994), 146.


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Book of Common Prayer's Te Deum

Today's Worship Quote dates from the fourth or fifth century. The Te Deum or Te Deum laudamus is an anonymous worship text in Latin that has been set to music by countless composers, from the baroque masters all the way through to practicing church musicians of our day. Martin Luther translated it into German and there are at least twenty-five metrical settings in English ("Holy God, We Praise Thy Name"). I imagine that there are some readers who have this prayer memorized (in Latin or English), and some who are encountering these words for the first time. [as found in Book of Common Prayer, Rite I].

TE DEUM LAUDAMUS
We praise Thee, O God: we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship Thee, the Father everlasting.
To Thee all Angels cry aloud: the Heavens and all the powers therein.
To Thee Cherubim and Seraphim continually do cry:
"Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth;
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of Thy Glory."

The glorious company of Apostles praise Thee.
The goodly fellowship of the prophets praise Thee.
The noble army of Martyrs praise Thee.
The holy Church throughout all the world doth acknowledge Thee:
The Father of an infinite Majesty;
Thine honorable, true, and only Son;
Also the Holy Ghost: the Comforter.

Thou art the King of Glory, O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
When Thou tookest upon Thee to deliver man:
Thou didst not abhor the Virgin's womb.
When Thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death,
Thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father.
We believe that Thou shalt come to be our Judge.
We therefore pray Thee, help Thy servants
whom thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with Thy Saints in glory everlasting.

O Lord, save Thy people: and bless Thine heritage.
Govern them and lift them up forever.
Day by day we magnify Thee and we worship Thy Name,
ever world without end.

Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let Thy mercy lighten upon us, as our trust is in Thee.
O Lord, in Thee have I trusted: let me never be confounded.


If you look around, you can find modern English renderings of the Te Deum text, ones that avoid "thee" and "thou" and "vouchsafe." But for today...

May the Lord vouchsafe to give thee a great week!


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Stott on Form and Freedom

Today's Worship Quote speaks to that delicate balance between form and freedom when it comes to planning and leading worship.

FORM AND FREEDOM
Now public worship is a vital part of the life of the local church. It is even essential to its identity. Yet in the interest of "spontaneity" worship services often lack both content and form . . . . Most churches could afford to give more time and trouble to the preparation of their worship. It is a mistake to imagine either that freedom and form exclude one another, or that the Holy Spirit is the friend of freedom in such a way as to be the enemy of form.

-John Stott, in The Gospel and the End of Time, InterVarsity Press, 1991, page 124, as collected in Authentic Christianity: From the Writings of John Stott, compiled by Timothy Dudley-Smith, InterVarsity Press, 1995.


CHIP'S THOUGHTS

I usually vote for "planned spontaneity" - a service that is very carefully and thoroughly planned, but one in which the plan does not rigidly dictate everything that transpires.

Have a great week!

Miller on Worship as Duty and Privilege

Today's Worship Quote comes from the opening of Calvin Miller's dramatic work A Requiem for Love, an extended poetic depiction of the Creation narrative. In this excerpt we have a "worship dialogue" between Regis (Adam) and Earthmaker (God).

REGIS:
"Father, I receive Your gift of being, but
You have made me too rich
To name my wealth
And yet too poor
To give you anything of meaning.
I love you with only giftless love."

EARTHMAKER:
"Regis, there is no such thing as 'giftless' love.
The very words accuse each other.
My gift to you is love, but
Worship is your gift to Me.
And Oh, most glorious it is!
Worship always calls me 'Father' and
Makes us both rich with a common joy.
Worship Me, for only this great gift
Can set you free from the killing love of self,
And prick your fear with valiant courage
To fly in hope through moments of despair.
Worship will remind you
That no man knows completeness in himself.
Worship will teach you to speak your name,
When you've forgotten who you are.
Worship is duty and privilege,
Debt and grand inheritance at once.
Worship, therefore, at those midnights
When the stars hide.
Worship in the storms till love
Makes thunder whimper and grow quiet
And listen to your whispered hymns.
Worship and be free."

-Calvin Miller, A Requiem for Love, Word Publishing, 1989.


CHIP’S THOUGHTS

Miller is also the author of The Singer trilogy. I highly recommend these books to you, but encourage you not to read them when you are in a hurry. This is language that needs time to breath.

Have a great week!


To learn more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.

Hustad on a Definition of Worship

A DEFINITION OF WORSHIP
"Worship is the expression of the Christian believer's relationship with God. However that relationship is very complex, since God is at one and the same time our Creator, Redeemer (through Jesus Christ), Sustainer, Indweller (by the Holy Spirit), Friend, and Judge. It helps to remember that we approach God individually as a created one, a redeemed one, a sustained one, an indwelt one, a befriended one, and a judged one."

-Don Hustad, in Jubilate II: Church Music in Worship and Renewal, Chapter 5, "The Nature of Christian Worship in Relation to Its Musical Expression," Hope Publishing Co., 1993.


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Lawrence on Worship in Spirit and Truth

Today's Worship Quote is another from Brother Lawrence, the 17th century Carmelite monk who "practiced the presence of God." Here, he is commenting on Jesus' words in John 4:24: "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth" (NIV).

HOW TO WORSHIP GOD IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH
There are three things in this question to which it is necessary to reply.

First: To worship God in spirit and truth means to worship God as we ought to worship Him. God is Spirit, so we must worship Him in spirit and truth, that is, by a humble and true adoration of spirit in the depth and center of our souls. God alone can see this worship; we can repeat it so often that in the end it becomes as if it were natural to us, and as if God were one with our souls, and our souls one with Him.

Second: To worship God in truth is to recognize Him for being who He is, and to recognize ourselves for what we are. To worship God in truth is to recognize as a very present reality in our spirit that God is infinitely perfect, infinitely worthy of worship, and infinitely distant from evil, even beyond His divine attributes. Who will be the man who, lacking in wisdom though he may be, will refuse to employ all his strength to render his respect and worship to this great and infinitely worthy God.

Third: To worship God in truth is further to admit that we are entirely contrary to Him, and that He is willing to make us like Himself if we desire it. Who will be so imprudent as to turn himself away, even for a moment, from the reverence, love, service and continual adoration which we most justly owe Him?

-Brother Lawrence (c. 1611-1691), The Practice of the Presence of God, translated by Robert J. Edmonson, Paraclete Living Library, 1984.


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Piper on Truth and Emotion

Today's Worship Quote is another that I put in the category of "heads and hearts in worship." The author is John Piper, former pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

BIBLICAL WORSHIP: TRUTH AND EMOTION
Truth without emotion produces dead orthodoxy and a church full of artificial admirers (like people who write generic anniversary cards for a living). On the other hand, emotion without truth produces empty frenzy and cultivates shallow people who refuse the discipline of rigorous thought. But true worship comes from people who are deeply emotional and who love deep and sound doctrine. Strong affections for God rooted in truth are the bone and marrow of Biblical worship.

-John Piper in Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, Multnomah Press, 1986.


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Nouwen on Gratitutde

Have you thought about the difference between "giving thanks" and "being thankful"? Today's Worship Quote of the Week directs our thoughts to the spiritual attitude of gratitude. The author, Henri Nouwen, writes about the prodigal son's older brother.

GRATITUDE
Resentment and gratitude cannot coexist, since resentment blocks the perception and experience of life as a gift. My resentment tells me that I don't receive what I deserve. It always manifests itself in envy.

Gratitude, however, goes beyond the "mine" and "thine" and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.

Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint. I can choose to grateful when I am criticized, even when my heart still responds in bitterness. I can choose to speak about goodness and beauty, even when my inner eye still looks for someone to accuse or something to call ugly. I can choose to listen to the voices of forgiveness and to look at the faces that smile, even while I still hear words of revenge and see grimaces of hatred.

There is always the choice between resentment and gratitude because God has appeared in my darkness, urged me to come home, and declared in a voice filled with affection: "You are with me always, and all I have is yours."

- Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming, Image Books/Doubleday, 1994.


CHIP'S THOUGHTS

Dear Lord, thank you again for your steady and lavish (prodigal) love. Protect me from a spirit of resentment, and nurture in me a deep sense of gratitude for all that is mine because of my relationship with you. Amen!

Have a great week!


To learn more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.