Spiritual Worship

by Mike Ratliff

The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:19-24 ESV)

Nearly two years ago my wife and I left our old church because the leadership there began the processes to change it to the Purpose Driven Church model. There were warning signs that something was not quite right well over a year earlier. For instance, some couples had left the church because they wanted less “frivolous worship” and more Biblical preaching. About that time the Pastor created care groups. Each of the Deacons was given families to care for.

There is nothing wrong with that, but when I began calling those in my group I came across some of those families which had left. They were nice to me when I called, but firmly told me that they weren’t coming back. I asked the Pastor what was going on. He told me that those folks wanted “only Hymns” and no “Contemporary” music. I looked at him and suggested that perhaps we could have both. He just shook his head and said that nothing could be done and that I should just cross them off my list.

This took place during that 8 month restoration that God used to change everything in my heart’s association with everything. By the end of that 8th month I was in worship of God nearly all the time. I prayed and dug into the Word. This was also the time that I began to see the complete waste of time of many of the “programs” and “initiatives” that were being pushed onto our congregation by the leadership. It was during this period that I tried to share with our Pastor and others in our church leadership that God had a much better “plan” for worship and service than any of these man-made things that always fizzled out. We were doing it all backwards. This reminded me of our Lord’s conflict with the Scribes and Pharisees when they complained about Him breaking their rules about the Sabbath to heal people.

And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27 ESV)

It occurred to me that many churches seemed to view flocks as a resource for their programs in a continual “Crusade” push. The more I worshiped, prayed, and studied the Word the more I began to see that a church’s role is to be a place of spiritual healing, spiritual worship, discipleship, and hearing the Word preached. The focus should be on feeding the sheep, healing the sheep, and making real disciples who live for Jesus in all parts of their lives including sharing their faith in evangelism. However, the focus was backwards at our old church and the conflict grew with these things until the time of decision came to get on board the PDC band wagon or leave. We left.

Our Lord is after those who worship Him in Spirit and truth. (John 4:19-24) What does that mean. Many often say that it is a form of music that causes believers to become joyful, tear up, and have some spiritual experience. Is that what “in Spirit and truth” means?

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 ESV)

According to this passage, what is “your spiritual worship?” The apostle Paul tells us that it is “by the mercies of God, to present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God.” My brethren, this is how Christians are to worship their God. Yes, we are to sing and pray in group worship when we gather as a church, but what about the rest of the time? What Paul is telling us here is that the calling is for each Christian is to live within spiritual worship 100% of the time. This is defined for us in v2. We present our bodies as living sacrifices. We do this by living by faith instead of the flesh. This is how we move from being conformed to this world. The engine of this process is to be transformed by continual mind renewal. I learned about this during the 8 months of restoration I shared earlier.

Around the end of the 7th month I was continually hungry and thirsty for God and His Word. The more I partook of the Lord, the deeper the hunger became. Of course, I thought I had hit some gold mine of spiritual wisdom, but reality set in a few months later. Yes, I was still walking more close with my Lord and learning, but I also went through a lot of cleansing of things that had never bothered me before. This is still going on my brethren. In any case, I learned that we must never stop the mind renewal process. God will take us through trials and tests as we grow more mature. God is working in each of us as He desires. We are all unique. However, the narrow way is the same. It begins with Christ and leads to God in glory.

Now, let’s consider the “worship” in many churches in our time which are about little more than entertainment. “Worship” songs are used that are designed to please people rather than create an atmosphere of spiritual worship in which God is the center. When worship style is all about people rather than God it is backwards. After we left our old church one couple contacted me to tell me why they stayed. It was because they wanted only “Contemporary Worship” music. I asked why. They told me that they “felt closer” to the other people in the church with that music, but not with Hymns. Is that what worship is supposed to be about? I thought it was for God’s glory alone. I am not defending all Hymns because I know of many that are based upon some very questionable theology. Others are actually very popular because they generate such positive “feelings.” This is just another form of “entertainment.” Corporate worship should be about God’s glory alone.

Another way Christians worship God is to obey His commandments. I know some “Christians” don’t want to abide by it, but that does not change the fact that our Lord said, “If you love Me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) The sanctification process that God puts all of His children through takes us through cleansing, repentance, tests, trials, and putting us in position to choose to obey Him in our circumstances regardless of the cost. This is continual my brethren. It is that we must understand that God is teaching us to obey Him with a worshipful, grateful heart. When we obey Him even when it is costly, we are worshiping our God. We are putting Him first as we die to self.

This article just scratches the surface, however, this is the core of Spiritual worship. God’s desire is that we live for Him in all parts of our lives. The fact that many professing Christians don’t do this proves that their profession of faith is false because they have no works. ( James 2:14-18 ) Those who do live for God in all parts of their lives (in process) will exhibit good works because they are obedient. They keep God’s commands of mercy and sharing and giving. Let us seek the Lord and apply Romans 12 by being living sacrifices. This is the only way to live within Spiritual worship.

SDG

49 thoughts on “Spiritual Worship

  1. It seems like the Purpose Driven movement is really attracting more “hirelings.” Men who should be in sales, marketing, or advertising instead of ministry. Hirelings are really prone to ‘tweeking’ the scriptures and worship according to what they think will attract the world.

    When I was at that Purpose Driven Church, they did everything they could to keep everybody busy or entertained. Doctrine or deep study in the Word was shunned. Even my team leader shunned me for defending the scriptures. She said that we didn’t need to go there.

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  2. that was one of the best articles i have read by you mike, and you have produced some good ones sir..

    mike said,
    “Many often to say that it is a form of music that causes believers to become joyful, tear up, and have some spiritual experience.”

    yes sir…many do say that…

    but i will share something with you…once upon a time, i worked in starting ministries from scratch…

    and in most of them, when they first started, they almost always had NO music to go with the singing, whether hymns or comtemporary…and it had no affect on the…’feeling’..that was generated…

    and in one of the new little churches, we had much fine music…i’d say some of the best musicians one could ask for in a church….and when they(the band) got mad and left because the preacher refused to preach universalism….

    the singing and worship part of the service soared beyond what we ever thought could happen…or have ever experienced before or since….

    music is great and wonderful…but if GOD is the center of worship…HE is there music or not…

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  3. Great post, Mike.
    I have just posted an excerpt from this article on my blog (I hope you don’t mind) with a link back to your site.

    Yours is one of my favorites; I read your posts several times each week and have your site listed on my favorites.

    Thanks for all you do for the defense of the faith and the glory of God.

    Ralph
    Well-Meaning Gentlemen With Different Ideas

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  4. “Contemporary Worship” music. is emotially feel good music. So when they feel good they confuse that with spirituality. I think “contemorary Christian music” is the way Satan has introduced disrespect for God into our churches which has killed our churches and broken our bond to God. We as “Christians” cannot say a song with God or jesus in it is wrong or we are being judgemental. So we have allow that “music” into our lives even through there is not 1 in 10 songs that are worth anything spiritually. Statan has used “judgemental” agaisnt us very well. I hate “contemorary Christian music” for the deception it is. Any church or radio station that allows contemorary Christian music in is not long for true relationship with God. Just watch.

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  5. Seldom,

    Well said brother. Yes, the music is not necessary for real worship. I think it can overwhelm the words at times and distract. If people are focusing on the music instead of the words then they aren’t really worshiping God are they?

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  6. Tim,

    I listen to the words of songs or read them if I can. There is a lot that passes for praise and worship that is as theologically thin as skim milk if that. What we must do is focus on God Himself and forget how people like or dislike the music. It’s about Him not us.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  7. I am going to be the contrarian again here. I apologize in advance.

    Martin Luther started the reformation on ideas and well needed “CHANGE” from the Catholic church. He also moved the Bible from latin to the language he was in. He also signficantly modified the hymns of that time to something considerably different so the people could relate to it.

    This change was very hard at the time and I am sure many people did not see how this would affect the Church. However, ALL of us belong to a protesant Church today because of what Martin Luther did in the reformation.

    Paul himself modifies his technique depending on his audience. he treated the Corinthian Church different from the Church in Rome without compromising truth. Read very carefully and you will observe this. He was well aware of his audience.

    I belong to Christian Reformed Church. CRC is basically reformed calvinism to the nth degree. So many of you here would pretty much agree with this theological slant from what I have read here.

    However, we just hired a new pastor and if you some of you look at style points only you would pretty write my Pastor off based on look and feel. However, for those willing to give a second look you will find a challenge sermon and a person with has depth and understanding. But you have to past the first look.

    So far the new pastor seems to reach lost and hurting people because he reaches them where they are at. He does not JUST appeal to lost people that also reside also in some socially norm. He reaches different ages, different ages. He may look emergent but he is not.

    Checkout the Church promotional video from my new pastor from his previous Church

    http://spadinofamily.wordpress.com/2008/03/31/new-pastor-at-our-church/

    I find the musical style discussions alsighly amusing. I came from a Church where playing only hymns with the organ was the only acceptable practice.

    In my opinion if you look hard at contemporary music you will see that much (not all) of it as scripturally based as hymns

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  8. Jon,

    I hope I didn’t give the impression that all Contemporary worship songs are wrong. There are some I do like. My problem is the focus. Worship needs to be about God not us and most certainly not about the singers and musicians.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  9. NO not at all. Like I said I was being the contrarian and as usual am trying to challenge Christian thinkology.

    I have a long story that I will share sometime but one of the purpose in my BLOG is to question a Christian thinkology that keeps “hurting, lost Christians” a safe distance from the Church because you need to see yourself in the same social norm as the majority of the Church membership.

    I honestly believe the Church can be culturally relevant and also be in the “Truth” simultaneously. However, we put so much emphasis on the outters as opposed to the inners.

    Just my thoughts!

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  10. and your right Mike the focus needs to be on God and finding your Identity in Christ and the Cross.

    I will say that this focus can get lost in contemporary worship if your Pastor does not have the right vision for the Church. It did with our previous Pastor.

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  11. Dear Mike,

    I think your point is lost on some that this isn’t about music at all. It is about flesh and spirit. Many are trying to walk in the flesh by emotion and are mistaking it for spiritual because when the spirit is touching you it can be emotional also. Pure emotion however is just a shallow counterfeit of the Holy Spirit. We need to examine our hearts. This is about God’s glory, not our dreams, our plans, our purpose. We are here to serve Him, not the other way around. I would urge all of my brothers and sisters to ask God questions they think they already know the answer to. Simple questions, like what is love? What is faith? What is worship? What is truth? When I started doing this God gave me His definitions. Often I thought I already knew, but in reality I had the worldly, fleshly definition. Be like little children, and keep asking, seeking, knocking.

    Mike, you have been on my heart and I have been praying for you. Please send up a quick prayer for me too. I’m looking for work and it’s difficult since I have been a stay home mom for so long. I just want to be each day, each minute where God wants. Although I am not now, I fear being consumed with the cares of this world.
    God Bless you, Tanja

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  12. Good post Mike. We have found that most, not all, but most of the CCM is 7/11-songs. Usually about me, I, being the focus instead of Jesus. Personally, we like the Psalms and Hymns for a church worship service. The CCM we like outside of the church. Entertainment churches……..they can have them. We are like you Mike, more focus on study, prayer, and our relationship with the Lord.

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  13. 3 years ago the first church I joined as a believer, the church I was baptized in, began a transition with a new Pastor. The new Pastor seemed so solid and committed but shortly after he began preaching, the lack of discernment in him began to be evident to my husband and me. We thought there was something wrong with us but shortly saw some of our members leave. We knew the reasons but questioned our own discernment and stayed. We were never involved heavily with the youth group or leadership but my husband became a deacon and was asked to be involved with the youth with a new Youth Pastor. Again, it did not take long to see the lack of discernment in the Youth pastor. During the next couple of years under the “change agents” we were attacked spiritually. our oldest child in Highschool (homeschool) was also attacked but in a different way. Our authority as parents was undermined and we are now still dealing with a very rebellious young lady. After we finally stopped questioning God’s Spirit, we left with heavy hearts.
    We are on a very difficult road and I just wanted to encourage anyone to listen to the Spirit’s discernment!! Do not be deceived – it can happen!

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  14. Tanja,

    Are you reading my notes.? 🙂 You hit the nail right on the head my sister. Our churches, through shallow, wrong focused leadership, have moved the focus of worship and serving from God to the local church itself. Spirituality is gauged by emotion rather than obedience.

    Thank you for your prayers, you have mine my sister.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  15. Beth,

    I recognize what you shared. It is such and odd thing to find yourself cast off from your local home church isn’t it? I know all about that, but it was through going through that that God taught me what real worship and service is. I am praying for you and your family that God will heal what was broken.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  16. Personally, I like a good mix of the great hymns of the faith and the contemporary songs of today. We do both at my church. We also have a great worship leader. What’s great about him is that you very quickly forget he’s even there! He has a real annointing for leading people into the presence of the Father and then just getting out of the way. Never once have I ever felt like he was “putting on a show.” I can;t say that abotu every “worship” experience I have been through.

    You are very right Mike about true worship being about submission, obedience, sacrifice, etc. The truth is, when we come to a revelation of the truth of Christ we can’t help but worship with all of our hearts!

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  17. Mike,
    I’m not reading your notes, we just have the same teacher. Cool, huh?
    🙂
    Tanja

    Thank you for your prayers.

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  18. That verse said by Jesus twice in Matthew is just good for any occasion.

    I also dont necessarily buy the emotions thing. It is important to align our emotions with scripture and not remove them completely. After all we were designed in Gods image to worship him completely. Song of Solomon is a very emotional book that never once mentions God but it is a book designed by God to represent the fullness of our intimacy in Marriage and the fullness of being in Christ if we relate it to Jesus and his Bride (the church) in Ephesians.

    It is very important for Christians to share their deeper feelings in a way around other Cheristians in a vulnerable way that understand the fallen nature of ALL me (religious and irreligious). One of the most meaningful verses in the Bible, IMO, is from Romans “noone is righteous, not even one”.

    It means we get to share our fallenness in a vulnerable way and realize that only by Grace I am what I am. Because we are saved by Grace alone we cant look down on anyone else.

    Yes, we arent the Church for everybody but do we compromise to make it a Church for everyone.

    On the pastoral search committee we realized whoever we chose as our Pastor someone would leave the Church. I believe our default mode of thinking is the way of the pharisee and legalism and only through a lot of prayer do we remove that.

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  19. I guess the thought behind this is that I believe Churches grow more by an understanding of their broken need for a savior than by obedience. Obedience is a hopefully inevitable by-product of what Christ did for us on the Cross and obedience is always done in VIEW of GODS MERCY (Romans 12:1)

    IF we focus on obedience and morality (like the pharisees did) we force people, sin, (and feelings) into the closet and the stranglehold of sin becomes more deeply entrenched in us.

    In Christ,

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  20. Mike,

    Others have already said much of what I want to say, but I wish to echo the chorus of “Amen”! As Tanja stated, it’s not about music but the difference between flesh and spirit (most “Worship Leaders” today seem to interpet “spirit” John 4:24 to mean “emotion”). But Romans 12:1 comes to our rescue (the Word is able to distinguis between “soul and spirit”). I might add that this problem can be traced all the way back to Cain and Abel (for Cain wished to have his “worship” accepted rather than truly please God).

    Your insights in this post reveal the work of the Spirit!
    David

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  21. Jon,

    The Pharisees were legalistic in the sense that they kept the Law as they should, but only when they were observed and for that reason. Obedience is what is called for not emotions. The order is that we obey God and are blessed by God and then the emotions come. It cannot be the other way around. Also, we should not be concerned about Church growth. God grows and sustains His church. We must simply obey Him by preaching THE WORD and not try to be culturally relevant. Sure, we can apply His Word to our culture, but it must not be the other way around. It is about Spirit vs Flesh.

    When we get thing backwards we take on the sin of pragmatism in how we “do church” or “worship” or whatever. Pragmatism is a great sin because it is not according to the Spirit, but according to the flesh. It is believing that we must structure things in order to “help God out.” That is a great sin and we must not do that. Of course, that is exactly what the PDC and Willow Creek church models are all about.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  22. I think that kinda what we said in terms of the emotions — using a few more words. Our emotions need to be aligned with God and not the other way around…. but they are still there.

    It all depends on you use the word obedience, If you define obedience as in trust Gods word and obey then I am ok with it.

    If you use it in terms of how man interprets obedience on most occassions to justify their overt republicannness (yes I am republican too), using morality and ranking it over other sins then I think it is an overt phariseeism that is not dealt with by the Church very well…. and its the Churchs enemy #1. Phariseeism is the bad yeast that runs in all Churches and the lagalistic tendencies of the pharisee is the default mode of the human heart.

    We justify phariseism by saying its truth but the net result of phariseeism is it it drive hurting people away from the Church and it drives sin deeper into the human heart.

    I recommend Tim Kellers articles on the two thieves of the Gospel.

    http://www.redeemer2.com/resources/papers/centrality.pdf

    It can also be found here:

    http://spadinofamily.files.wordpress.com/2008/04/centrality-of-the-gospel1.pdf

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  23. My PHD LCMS pastor once told me that the reason the Church grew shortly after Christ was because the Church was a community that reached out in love with a pure Gospel message. I think the idea that the Church should not try to be culturally relevant in lieu of being more truth based is an easy cop out for people that want to be arm chair theologians.

    Why not be able to do both as opposed to stifling a creative personality. Some people are blessed with a way being creative and still being able to put Gods sovereignty and Christ first. The Church today stifles creative peeple that still have the ability to humbly serve God and then we look down on anything outside of the typical norm in a Church.

    Austin Powers Analogy: This movie had me and mini-me. Are we trying to serve God or create a bunch of mini-me’s in this world.

    Why not both serve God first and be culturally relevant. I think the reformer Martin Luther would be turning over in his Grave at this discussion.

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  24. Jon,

    This is my point. You stated that the church grows because of what we do. No, it grows as we obey God and preach the Gospel. It is God working that does this. The church grew as God added, not as the Apostles added people. Trying to change the church to attract people by using things that have nothing to do with glorifying God is pragmatism. I came from two churches neck deep in this. I promise you that the “church itself” has become an idol to those people in them. No one is saying that we don’t minister, we must, but those are the outcome of obedience not what we do in order to manipulate people. I hope you see the difference.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  25. yeah i see the difference and understand completely. However, in the words of James Gods people need to move their feet in obedience (as defined above) and in view of Gods mercy on the cross. ok that was paraphrased from james 🙂

    However a “different” kind of church is guaranteed to be criticised by the establishment. (ie Martin Luther and all protestant Churchs) The active or passive repression of these kinds of Churches and people are as much a problem as Churches that are not aligned with God and the Gospel.

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  26. spadeinfamily said,
    “My PHD LCMS pastor once told me that the reason the Church grew shortly after Christ was because the Church was a community that reached out in love with a pure Gospel message.”

    actually they(early, first church) at first were ok, but soon became very disobedient even as they grew…

    their disobedience is quite evident in their own lack of action to the directive of GOD…they are not really a good role model to fashion a church after…nor is a church to operate like they did in their day…

    also i do not think human creativity is hte way to go…sure people might come to the church because they are creative and all and have fun stuff…but it has been my experience that those shallow reason do not retain anyone, or help the church to grow in the long run…they might provide temporary boast yes…but if it is not the HOLY SPIRIT drawing them, it is vanity…

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  27. There is no greater privilege than to worship. I draw a distinction between service and worship since I believe no works, none, can be involved with worship. Of course true and spiritual worship cannot come forth from a disobedient heart.

    Worship is not so we can feel anything although no one can enter God’s presence with no emotion, but emotion is not what we seek. We seek Him and Him alone. A sense of His glory and our worthlessness come together and as we understand by faith His redemption we must be overwhelmed.

    If we always celebrate we have missed Him. If we always shout it is not Him in fullness. A holy aweness and a sacred silence is sometimes a supernatural flow from being in His presence. Away with manipulative music and the tortured directions of worship leaders, let us allow the Holy Spirit be our worship guide and present us before our Father and the Risen Christ.

    And in the mystery of this Trinitarian worship, let Him be worshiped before all of heaven by the outpouring of a broken and contrite heart of complete obedience. We continue to touch just the hem of His garment, but oh how glorious indeed is even His shining hem.

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  28. She (my old team leader) probably didn’t have the ability to go there, Mike. It just wasn’t something she was capable of, nor was it something she was willing to “put up” with. Sound doctrine was a threat to the idolatry which they are so comfortable with. Quoting Bible verses made them uneasy. It made them uncomfortable, so therefore they really do hate a gospel which brings opposition and persecution. The true gospel of course…

    The pastor who was in charge of that entire group also said that if I was in the will of God, then life would be on cruise control. This comment only made me oppose him even more. He hated me because I took him to task according to scripture. These hirelings are so used to ‘Lording over’ their flock, making themselves unapproachable, and refusing to carry other men’s burdens. They simply reject any kind of struggle or hardship because they have fallen prey to the prosperity gospel. Little does he know that God frequently disengages the cruise control in order to mold us or put us through the fire. If it wasn’t His will to disengage it, then He would not be sovereign. He would not be a molder of the righteous. The righteous are called to “put off” the flesh, so that we can obtain a holy countenance. Our countenance can fall because of our flesh. Whenever our countenance does fall a bit, God can and will use adversity as an undesirable aid to shaping our character. Calamities are not beyond God’s control. Today’s hirelings seem to think that Satan somehow sneaks past God and controls certain events. Why can’t the masses understand that Satan must get God’s permission to do this or that?

    God’s sovereignty is a threat to a hireling’s comfort, and their status, so you had better be prepared for a lynching if you challenge them. I did it, and it wasn’t pretty. It was a painful ordeal, but I learned a lot about their conversion. It is false. It is false because they love their idolatry, instead of a God who is worthy enough to flatten us all out. No courtroom is capable of holding him in contempt. He is indebted to no one. He still sets his face against the ungodly and the disobedient, regardless of what the Purpose Driven Delusion says.

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  29. Let me try to be specific instead of just blasting off comments between other e-mails. I absolutely agree with Rick on his original point. I disagree with at least one of the comments said.

    Everything belongs to God …. from the traditional hymns to a love song to my wife…. all can be used to worship and praise the sovereign God. However, if we are really honest with ourselves we could see that the traditionalist in us is much behind this discussion as anything else. We then justify it by saying its not really worshiping God but the sinful nature. Its an all too easy criticism for a depraved mind

    After all (tongue in cheek) if we can worship God with a hymn written 500 years ago and organ and piano we can worship God with anything.

    Does anyone go to a Church and worship God with milk jugs, spoons, and forks for the music. or is that further south than y’all. I want to come worship with you

    Seldom,

    the Church continues to be disobedient … even when they search to be in the fullness of all Gods truth. That wont change.

    But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

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  30. Come on Jon. You don’t really believe that a love song to your wife is a praise song to God do you? I suppose that would be so if you were living for God in ALL YOU DO when you do that. Also, God does save sinners, but His will for them is to grow up and stop sinning. Yes He is merciful, but we are called to walk the way of sanctification brother, not to wallow in our flesh and call it worship.

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  31. Song of Songs/Solomon is a book that never mentions God but shows the delight we can have in Marriage. It is a love poem to show how Marriages should reflect Christs (or vice versa) relationship to the Church. Believe it or not the sexual union between man and a woman are discussed in a poetic manner.

    Its also a book written (supposedly) by a person who had 700 wives (which was his downfall) showing and exemplifying Gods Grace for man.

    A love song can be used similarly as long as God is being given the Glory.

    God is sovereign! An expectation of joy in marriage reflecting Christ love for the Church.

    If we are using a love song to reflect our love to our wives then lets not be so stuffy to say we cant do it for at least part of the process of striving for Gods Glory in song of solomon fashion. Its an area of freedom and not an area of anything else.

    Admittedly, we do use things to glorify ourselves but lets not discount everything here.

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  32. The Song of Solomon expresses the mutual love of a man and a woman. Traditionally [although modern interpretations vary] this book has been understood to convey the love of God and his people. The song tells how the woman yearns for her lover, and how the lovers praise each other’s beauty. The woman remembers her lover’s springtime visit, tells how she sought him in the night, and envisions the wedding of Solomon. The woman asks that her lover would set her as a seal upon his heart, for love is as strong as death and passion fierce as the grave (8:6).

    Song of Solomon 2
    Beloved [a]
    1 I am a rose [b] of Sharon,
    a lily of the valleys.
    Lover
    2 Like a lily among thorns
    is my darling among the maidens.
    Beloved
    3 Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest
    is my lover among the young men.
    I delight to sit in his shade,
    and his fruit is sweet to my taste.

    4 He has taken me to the banquet hall,
    and his banner over me is love.

    I will probably get beaten up here for the words below but … One must ask the question why would God use such “fleshy” examples in scripture. It does have bit of fleshy air to it. You cant deny it. But its in the Bible. IF used and aligned properly with Gods sovereign plan and for Gods purpose I agree with it. Buts lets not deny Gods provisions for man in areas of freedom and love.

    In the words of others here lets not subtract or add to Gods sovereign plan.

    The question is to who is being given the Glory in all of this. Thank God for all you have in your suffering, joy, love and Marriage in this world.

    In Christ,

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  33. Jon,

    You said, “will probably get beaten up here for the words below but …”

    Then why say them?

    How can you apply what is obviously a book about the love of a husband and wife and say that that makes it okay to worship God in the flesh. That is very poor exegesis because it ignores the rest of what the Bible says about that nor is it what we are discussing. This post is about what is true worship and what isn’t and we cannot worship God IN THE FLESH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! because what is not of the Spirit is sin.

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  34. Mike,

    I said it mostly to question our thinkology here….Not necessarily to make scholars proud.

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  35. spade said,
    “Seldom,

    the Church continues to be disobedient … even when they search to be in the fullness of all Gods truth. That wont change.

    But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.””

    thanks for that advice…but the reast of your statement is a cop out imo…

    there is no need to be disobedient to the directive as the first church was…that is why they suffered…

    and in their suffering, they did carry out the directive…

    so to say, that will never change is wrong…JESUS asked HIS plainly…

    “how can you say you love ME and not do what I command?..”

    it is the church who needs to send out the call sir…that is the job of hte church…to go and make disciples…

    the first church’s disobedience came from not doing the last thing JESUS told them to do…but after they were attacked and scattered…they DID do that very thing…

    so to say we have always been disobedient and oh well…will not stand in the time of HIS judgement…

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  36. I guess quite a few of us have our ‘purpose driven’ stories, don’t we? We left a church many years ago that started the 40 days study, but it had the church growth principles in place long before that. It was a bit hard, but we were blessed in that we knew we were doing the right thing by leaving.

    Back then it was hard to find any critique of it, but what I can’t understand is why anyone adopts those principles now with all the excellent information out there exposing how it divides church families among other things.

    God’s desire is that we live for Him in all parts of our lives.

    Amen.

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