Heart of Worship

This post is in line with our Youth Bible Teaching 2011, Worship: The Divine Conversation. Find out more about worship in these series of posts. Be blessed!

“The Heart of Worship” is an immensely popular song sung in many churches throughout the world. But my first impression of the song was that it’s rather ironic—what kind of song would start with the words “when the music fades”?

Singer and songwriter Matt Redman explains that the song originated at a time in his church when it was felt that there was no sense of meeting with God and bringing Him a sacrifice of praise during the Lord’s Day. Hence the church decided to temporarily cut out the singing time, and have the congregation simply sit there in silence. This is what is referred to in the second line (“All is stripped away”). What happened was that gradually people started praying and singing songs spontaneously. As a result, Redman felt that the heart of worship was restored in his church. People do not just come to communal worship to get something from it, but they bring something to God in worship.

How about us? How many times have we attended a worship service subconsciously expecting to acquire something from it? When I was in boarding school, I often found myself looking forward to the Christian Fellowship meetings that we had every Wednesday night. But I was looking forward to the therapeutic effects of gathering together under the moonlight and singing catchy songs together, more than worshipping God.

Well, there is nothing wrong with enjoying the fellowship of believers, or even with getting pleasure from the environment and music around you during a worship session. But when that is the only thing we look forward to in our time of communal worship—then there is a danger of missing the heart of worship.

Romans 12:1 says “offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” Firstly, we desire to offer “holy and pleasing (sacrifices) to God.” Christian worship is hence a conscious and deliberate focus on God. It should solely be “all about You, Jesus, all about You.” Secondly, we offer “our bodies as living sacrifices.” Our whole being—mind and hearts, hands and legs—is involved during worship. We worship in spirit and in truth. We clap our hands, nod our heads, and even jump up and down during a worship service, because we consciously decide to worship God by doing so.

As Matt Redman says, spontaneity and dynamic worship is an important thing. However, it must always be tempered by a self-introspection on whether that spontaneity is motivated more for our good or God’s glory. By following this principle, a worship service is not merely a unique time we set aside every week to praise and worship God; it is also a continuation of the regular spiritual act of worship that we are engaged in 24/7.

Written By Daniel Gordon Ang for YMI

lessons from a soccer game

By Sophie Otiende, Kenya

There is no doubt that soccer is the most popular sport of our time. From Africa to Asia and even the Middle East, soccer fans are widespread all across the world. The differences in culture, race, religion and opinions are dissolved when fans unite and cheer for their team. Just watch the World Cup and fans will show you the true meaning of being in unison.

Being a big soccer fan, I have to admit that it is that sense of belonging that I hunger for and that always keeps me going back. When I am cheering my team, I truly belong. I don’t struggle with anyone or anything (maybe just the opposing team) because at that occasion nothing counts, not what my neighbor is wearing, not what race they are, not what they did yesterday. What counts at that moment is the game.

However, I firmly believe that our cause in the body of Christ is much larger than a soccer game. It gives rise to a serious question, “Why is it that soccer seems to have the ability to unite man more than Christ?”

In the final hours of Jesus’ life, He spent time in prayer. He offered a heartfelt prayer for His people as recorded in John 17. Why was He so urgent? What is so vital that Jesus felt He had to pray for us in the last very painful hours of His life, when frankly He should have been praying for Himself? The answer is simple, UNITY.

I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
John 17:22-23

Jesus knew the importance of unity in the body because any division among believers would undermine the church’s testimony to the world. In these last days, the Christian body face many problems that stem from a lack of unity.

What makes unity possible? In soccer, the simple answer is focus. In the stadium, our focus is the game at hand. I think focus is what we have lost in the church.

We have forgotten what our main cause ought to be. We forgot that it is not, it has never been, and it will never be about us. This walk is about Christ. Church is about Him. Yet many times we lose focus of Christ and we find ourselves in much discord.

As we look upon soccer, we realize that our unity is only as strong as we are when focused. My prayer is that when we get to church, my name as a Christian should count, not my race neither what I did or did not do. What should matter at all times is for what reason are we gathered and the answer is plain and simple: Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is LOVE.

Journey to Zambia

By Chaz Oswald, Michigan

All the way my Savior leads me, what have I to ask beside . . .

January 2009—I was packing my bags in preparation (and giddy anticipation) for a month-long journey orchestrated by God. I was not sure what God was going to have me do, but I knew where He wanted me to be—Zambia.

I gave up all the comforts and luxuries of home—no blackberry, no laptop, no air-conditioning. I left my family and friends to enter a world so contrary to my selfish being. Yet I was constantly encouraged with a peace and understanding that the safest place to be is where God wants you to be.

Before it all began . . .
The weekend before I set sail to bring God’s Word to a spiritually dry land, I was under attack by the “enemy.” I learned that one is never more targeted by the devil than when the person is doing the will of God.

Within the course of three days, my uncle was in the hospital receiving back surgery, my cousin had gotten into a car accident, my grandmother was admitted into the hospital for suspected brain tumor, and my 98-year-old great grandmother passed away. Around every corner, the devil was setting up traps of discouragement and disappointment to catch me in my weakness. In tears I pleaded with God to relieve me of my pain, my misery, and my hurt.

God reminded me that He would never give me more than I can handle. Hence, like Peter who walked on water, I was determined to step out of the boat, hold fast to my Christian faith and keep my eyes fixated on my Savior, Jesus.

First steps in Zambia
My journey began with three exhausting days and two sleepless nights of travel to the bush of Zambia, Africa. It was there that reality set in—I had no means of communication to family and friends. I was terribly homesick.

Lying on my face in prayer to my Father in Heaven, I looked to Him for comfort. God heard my prayer and answered me with sweet, refreshing peace. I was overwhelmed when I felt His holiness replenish my soul with a thirst quenching tidal wave of grace. This made me see that God was indeed working His grace in me, slowly but surely.

By this time, my heart was grieved with a spiritual burden to reach the destitute and disoriented surrounding me in this foreign terrain. I began by developing relationships with fellow Christians as we worked together on a dormitory building project at the Manna Campus Evangelical Bible College.

The labor was physically straining. Each day we laid another brick and the building grew another tier higher. The nights were always welcoming. My aching muscles and tense joints voided me of much rest, leaving me more tired as each day went by.

In addition to the aforementioned fatigue, nourishment was sparse as we survived humbly yet habitually on stale bread and sour meats. I found myself consistently praying the missionary prayer, “Lord, I will put it down, you keep it down!” God through His grace and mercy, kept me healthy all the way without illness befalling me.

The beauty of God in Zambia
With the blessing of good health, I managed to take advantage of my evening time and explored Zambia. I observed the lands inhabitants and found Africa enormously attractive with its colors, tastes, smells, wildlife, nature, culture, and especially its people.

The Zambians are a friendly, humble, and beautiful people who long for interaction and communication. They are peaceful, patient, and unhurried but it is their contentment that struck me the most. Their satisfaction in poverty left me utterly grateful to God and His providence in my life. God opened my eyes to see my self-centeredness, my soiled heart condition to desire worldly yet meaningless possessions.

My heart was ignited with passion and laden for the Zambian people, so I traded in my evening adventures and began working at a nearby school where I taught Bible stories to children.

Evidently, God was not only working in the lives around me but also in me. The Holy Spirit filled my mouth with His words and enabled me to teach the children. As a result, there were 61 children that were receptive to the Gospel, desiring and acknowledging Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. It was an overwhelming and humbling occurrence which was entirely dictated and written by God.

Lessons learnt
I have since returned to my home in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where life’s toils entangle, but my journey to Africa has been an experience of life altering proportions.

My longing is to serve God with every breath I have. I do so not just by attending church, meeting in fellowship with other men, and studying God’s Word daily. Furthermore, I want to follow Christ’s example by investing my time in the lives of people around me.

Each day I wake up with purpose and I intentionally live a life of servanthood. Now I no longer strive after worldly wealth but after my Father’s heart. My journey to Zambia was a journey of the soul.