Just A Thought

REMEMBERING YOUR FIRST LOVE

 

Our first love is the love Christ gives us for God and each other. The first love which characterized the Ephesians was   the zeal and ardor with which they embraced their salvation as they realized they loved Christ because He first loved them (1 John 4:19) and that it was in fact His love for them that had made them “alive together with Christ.” So overwhelmed were they by the joy that came from understanding their former state—dead in trespasses and sins—and their new life in Christ, that they exhibited the fruit of that joy (Ephesians 2:1-5). Because of God’s great love for the Ephesians, they were “made alive in Christ” and that new life was exhibited in the passion of gratitude. That passion for the Savior spilled over onto one another and out to those in the culture they inhabited, corrupt as it was.

But after a time, they had lost their warmth and zeal for Christ, and when that happens, we, as much as they, begin to “go through the motions” of good works, motivated not by the love of and for Christ, but by the works themselves. What was once a love relationship cooled into mere religion. Our passion, like their passion, for Him becomes little more than cold orthodoxy.  How soon we forget.

Throughout scripture God is constantly reminding us to remember things; events, victories, but most of all His proven love for us.  He instructed the Jews to mark their life journey by placing rocks and such at places for historical remembrance.  Each and every “monument”  recorded an event that had a profound influence on the Israeli nation.  Something for generations to reflect upon as a witness to His presence and love.

Why does He care whether or not we remember anything?  He is supreme; can do anything; doesn’t need us (or does He)?  But we don’t know or we forget how much love God has for us.  He wants us to remember His love for us and how vast it is.  If it could be shown as a solid substance, it would cover all of His creation with much left over.

Many times we wonder about our family, relatives, and friends from an eternal standpoint.  We struggle with way(s) we would be received; caring, prying; manipulating; judgmental; when asking the question(s) concerning their future after they pass from this earth.  There is no agenda involved; unless one considers passion and empathy a dual edged sword.  It would be great to find out that they and you are in the same church; just in different pews.  Yes, we can take the we’ll come together for Jesus and make things happen” approach.  But in reality where is our heart?  How committed are we?  What is involved?  How can we help them (and ourselves, for that matter) and contribute whatever we can to their eternal well-being?

Frequently, we do not communicate the breadth of our passion for those we love to meet Jesus and share in His eternal grace already set aside for those who believe in Him.  How much more do we not consider our position in Christ even after years of him proving Himself to us?  

What better a picture than God carrying our love for others and our love for Him in the same presents sack in which He carries His love for us.  (Who are we that You would be mindful of us?  What do You see that‘s worth looking our way?)  And what better a setting to show our Love and Thanks to Him than during worship service in your church.  Scripture teaching, prayer, and joyous music all woven together to give praise and honor to our Creator.  Music  probably occupies two-thirds of your corporate worship time on any given Sunday.  While worship does go beyond music, I can’t think of anything better to anchor our individual and corporate worship time; a catalyst to all that the Lord wants worship to be.  

As I have gone over the concordance regarding worship, other than(prayer being a given) playing music, singing & dancing, I don't see references to any other overt acts of praise & worship. By overt I mean an outward public demonstration one on one or in an assembly; compared to the more inward, private demonstration of prayer.  575 times music is mentioned in scripture.  It’s interesting that in Zech 9 God could have just spoke what was on his heart. But He chose to play an instrument to communicate the impending doom.

The Case for Music as a Catalyst for Corporate and Individual Worship

There are many ways to express our love for God.  Let's agree, for the sake of this discussion, that worshiping & praising Him, to "most people", usually means singing, playing music.  Let's, also, agree that most of your church’s attendees fit this definition. To "most people", music is an accepted demonstration of praise & worship and is not an attendance killer. They("most people") are comfortable with the fact that music(irrespective of an individual genre' likes/dislikes) is part of their Sunday service experience at their church. Whether or not they "sing along" is something we'll get into later.

Let's agree that, unlike the drama and the message, music is positive neutral: no axe to grind; not gender sensitive; does not discriminate.  Let's also agree that music is the only external sensation which enters our bodies & goes directly to our hearts, bypassing our brains. Let's further agree that being created in God's image, all people have at least a subconscious connection with music.

If we are still in agreement at this point in our discussion, let's go back to  your church attendees, our discipling audience.  If your church is like most around the country, of all the acts of worship, only music produces anything near 100% corporate participation during Sunday services.  Life Group participation is around 30%. Tithing is under 30%.  As mentioned earlier, music occupies around 33%-40% of your Sunday attendees worship time; around 35% of your Sunday service.  Almost equal to the allotted time given to the Sunday message.

We shouldn’t have a problem with those percentages. I only mention them since, it would appear, your church considers music the major part of the worship content. It also appears that music can be an excellent springboard into the full scope of the worship & praise experience which helps make developing disciples more effective. When you look around & see almost everyone singing at one time or another, we're 50% there. When 50% or more have shown an overt act of praise, even if it's just pointing a hand to the sky with a bent arm, we're 100% there.  By "there", I mean it is now time to help the congregation, especially the men, become free of the shackles of intimidation, embarrassment, inferiority, and the myth of "real men don't sing in public or show outward acts of adoration to God". All lies from the evil one; conceived in darkness, yet perpetuated by the church for "political correctness sake".

Shouldn't the congregation understand that being saved is tantamount to being complete in Christ: you lack for nothing; you need not fear death; you are beautiful in God's eyes; you are never an embarrassment to God; He holds you in His arms with love and affection; you will never be forsaken; He'll always be with you. Sing as loud as you can with fervor; you're complete in Christ.  Raise your hands in adoration; you're complete in Christ. You Are Complete in Christ!!  Interesting that on many Sundays I hear men talk about their worship experience with tears in their eyes; tears of joy and tears of sadness & repentance. There are specific songs we sing that the Holy Spirit has led us to to awaken hearts.

Music is like a spiritual joy elevator lifting our spirit with love & happiness. It is also a spiritual scalpel. It will cut as deep as it needs to until it reaches & exposes our spiritual cancer. There are no visual signs of the scalpel's path; no blood, no scars. Yet its presence is felt more than the pain of tissue mending after surgery. Unlike physical pain which we don't remember, spiritual pain can remain with us in our minds until it is resolved. Consider the following:

“Music's interconnection with society can be seen throughout history. Every known culture on the earth has music. Music seems to be one of the basic actions of humans.” "Music and the Brain' by Laurence O'Donnell 1999

“Music is one of the few activities that involves using the whole brain. It is intrinsic to all cultures and can have surprising benefits not only for learning language, improving memory and focusing attention, but also for physical coordination and development.” "emedexpert.com" 2011

Since there is this acceptance of music as a method of worship and because there is more corporate participation in this method than in others, music can be the springboard needed to acquaint the church with the rest of the worship story; a building block, if you will, leading to intentional worship which begets engage- ment.  We want to use our corporate gatherings to develop worshiping disciples--worshiping Him in spirit and in truth, when we lie down and when we get up, walking along the road, etc. We want to help people understand their calling from God in his kingdom work here and now. Only singing to our Lord involves both personal & corporate worship. Everyone can sing. But not everyone owns, let alone, plays an instrument, reads in a corporate setting, teaches, participates in drama, participates in fellowship. Sunday service offers a captive audience; the largest audience of any of our church activities.

We should start the discipling process with something that the individual accepts, can relate to, has neutral connotations, and is part of an existing spiritual practice.  And build on their knowledge of that element and how to get them to the full appreciation for worshiping God for His love.  Once that is done intentional worship will be a part of their every day activity. Missional activity will rock this country. Volunteers will be so numerous that you'll have to start a "waiting to serve list". Good stewardship will be common practice. People will be living in the freedom only experienced through full acceptance of being complete in Christ; “our hearts no longer can keep from singing:  “all that is within me cries for You alone be glorified, Emmanuel, God with us.  My heart sings a brand new song; the debt is paid these chains are gone; Emmanuel, God with us”

 
The Begets Road of Christian Music

Concerts beget a call to worship/a stirring of souls; which begets a desire to listen to more of “this church” praise & worship music; which begets a tugging at your heart by the Holy Spirit; which begets a desire to know more about this person/entity they call “God”, which begets a desire to read the bible, which begets one to want to know more about this person, Jesus, who died for me, even if I was the only person on this earth; which begets one to understand God's endless depth of love for us; which begets one to want Jesus as his Lord and Savior, which begets one to change his life; which begets one to want to show love toward everyone; which begets a yearning to sing of God's virtues every chance we get.  All because of a Christian benefit concert.




Website Builder