Thursday, December 14, 2006

What Do You See?

Scripture is quite clear on the importance of vision. "Without vision the people perish" or to put it another way, "Without vision the people grow stagnant". So I've been giving some thought over the last few days to looking foward and asking what exactly is my vision. Any regular reader will know that I speak much of a longing for revival or for a turning of the tide but what can our expectations be if God truly does move in power. Where is He taking His Bride - the Church?

I have always been profoundly stirred being in stadiums whenever that has happened and have always felt that they were destined for something more than football matches or pop concerts. Hence when I read Paul Cain's famous "Stadium Vision" - something within me said, "That's it!". Here is an extract;

"It is a vision of the last days when sports stadiums all over the United States are filled with thousands of people. In this vision, people are being healed and miracles are happening to thousands in the name of Jesus Christ. People are turning to the Lord in droves and the whole nation is in revival. It seemed the whole earth was turning to Christ.

Television news reporters are broadcasting stories of resurrections and miracle healings. None of the secular reporters could get near the men on the platform. They did not know who the men were. Paul described them as "almost faceless men." He hears a TV anchorman saying, "There are no sporting events to report tonight because all the stadiums, ball parks and arenas are being used for large revival meetings and are filled with people crying, ''Jesus is Lord, Jesus is Lord."

Surely the awesome work that Hillsongs are doing in filling stadiums in Australia is a precursor to this! But what about the worship that will be taking place in these stadiums? Do we really know what we are doing yet? Are we really worshipping God as fully as He deserves? Or to put it another way; "If the tide is turning what should our response be?".

A week or so ago I asked the unanswered question; "Is worship truly worship if your heart isn't stirred" - this came fresh from a stimulating coffee and chat time with a friend. My suspicion is that it isn't. But what I am utterly persuaded is that worship plays a huge role in what God has in store for the glorious end time Bride. It must do!

Revelation 5:11-12 (NASB) - "Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing." And take special note of verse 13: "And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, "To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever".

I worry that if worship isn't married closely to our vision of revival then we may be unpleasantly surprised when God does indeed come. But when I say "worship", I mean "worship" that flows like a living river out of a heart stirred with wonder and amazement for all that God has done through His Son.

"So when Jesus says that true worshippers worship the Father "in spirit" He means that true worship comes only from spirits made alive and sensative by the quickening of the Spirit of God. This "spirit" is essential in worship. Otherwise worship is dead. Or to use Jesus' phrase, it is "in vain" ... A heart (and spirit) alive and engaged with God is essential" ... What makes it authentic is not only that the worshipping mind grasps the truth of Jesus but also that the worshipping spirit experiences awakening and is moved by the truth that the mind knows" - Dr John Piper - "What Jesus Demands from the World".

Or to put it another way in one of his smaller books, Piper wrote; "Throughout Scripture we are commanded to feel not just to think or decide. We are commanded to experience dozens of emotions not just perform acts of willpower".

How on earth does that compare with something like this; "Should dance be permitted during the worship service? - This is an element. There is no place in Scripture where dance is permitted as an element of worship. Thus dance should not be permitted during the worship service" or "When church music directors lead congregations in singing contemporary Christian music, I often listen stoically with teeth clenched".

Lines are being drawn in the realm of biblical manhood and womanhood to be sure, but lines have been drawn in the sand about worship far before this. And I do believe that worship is an area where we simply cannot remain neutral, for in eternity the issue of whether or not we allow women to preach will be mute. Worship will go on in greater and wider and broader waves than we can ever dream of. Let's devote our attention to getting ready for eternity and something that will last forever. Let's learn how to truly worship in spirit and in truth. Hopefully this quote will make you realise how serious I am about this - because I rarely quote him agreeing with me. Yet I couldn't agree more with this tension. Bob Kauflin writes;

"May we all proclaim the beauty, authority, and truth of Jesus Christ with our lives, remembering that neither passion nor propositional truth is out of place when we worship God. They were meant to go together".


jul said...

Thanks for this. While I've been going through a process of 'unlearning' some things, God's giving me a desire to begin to lay those things aside and focus on the future. And revival must be in my future! I've been struggling in worship lately, both corporately and alone. What do we do when we find ourselves singing words that are true, but our spirits aren't really being stirred up? I feel always in that Lucy moment when she speaks to the trees to try and awaken them and the wind blows and the leaves stir a little but the moment passes by and she's left feeling that she missed something important.

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