Has Our Worship Become Nothing More Than Empty Words

Is Our Worship Just Empty Words

Worship is a tricky thing for us as Christians. It can usher us into the Presence of God or leave us empty and lonely. How many times have we walked out of a worship service feeling… nothing? If we walk out of a worship service no different from when we walked in, we missed something in the process.

Is it possible we walk away feeling empty because we really don’t listen to (or believe) the words we just sang?

How different would our worship look, if God held us accountable for the words we sing? It would definitely make us reconsider how we approached worship. How would it change us if the songs we sing were more than just words? What if we truly worshiped?

Three things to look for in worship next Sunday.

I. Worship Will Inspire Awe

The only possible response to true worship is an awe of the One we are worshiping.

I admit that I enjoy modern worship. I like the lights, the technology, talented musicians, and yes, even the fog machine. Simply put, I like the show. The trap is that we can get focused on the lights, camera, action and misplace our awe. The church has made it very easy for us to watch and not worship. We have so many great things to be in awe of, that we miss the One who deserves our awe!

When we worship we need to focus on the words we are singing. When we focus on the attributes of God, the song we are singing is about takes on new meaning. How is the message of this song true in your life? If it’s about His love, focus on the fact that He loves you! Do the same with His goodness, blessings and power.

When we do it right, worship will bring us closer to God and prepare us to hear from Him.

II. Worship Will Cause Brokenness

In the opening books of Isaiah, the prophet saw the Lord, “High and Lifted Up!” His response was not to walk away unchanged, but rather to fall before the Lord crying, “Woe is me! for I am undone.”

Because worship brings us into the presence of the One Who is “High and Lifted Up”, it exposes who and what we are, and Who God is.

When we stand singing in His Presence and realize all that He is, we come face to face with two things:

Awe will flourish when we understand these two basic truths.

III. Worship Will Result In Action

We have not worshiped if we have not been moved to action. True worship will always require a response in some area of our lives. If we sing”I will go!” in worship, then we must GO!

[bctt tweet=”We have not worshiped if we have not been moved to action.” username=”michaelkduff”]

Worship gives the Holy Spirit an open invitation to speak into your life. What is He telling you to do as you worship? There should always be a response that leads us to greater obedience!

James 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
This week as you worship listen for what God asks you to do. It will be a great opportunity to serve Him!

What have you experienced that makes worship more meaningful to you? Share a comment with us to encourage others!

Three Things We Must Risk For The Gospel

A yard sale seemed an unlikely thing to inspire a blog about what we are willing to risk for the Gospel.

Taking risk to reach our culture.

The couple who stopped by were excited to share the news about their new church building and extend an invitation to me. “Our church had a meeting a while back and voted that we are no longer able to effectively minister to our neighborhood. So we bought some land outside of town and we are moving.”

Those words have troubled me over the last few weeks. This church was in a part of town that needs its ministry more than ever before. Its absence means no present Gospel witness in that area.

At the risk of sounding critical, when did the Gospel become ineffective to reach any neighborhood? Have changes in our culture diminished the power of the Gospel to change lives?

[bctt tweet=”When did the Gospel become ineffective to reach any neighborhood?” username=”michaelkduff”]

If we believe the Gospel has lost it’s power to change lives, we’re done! But as our culture continues to change, there are challenges we will face. But we must believe the Gospel has power to change any neighborhood if we are willing:

1. To Risk Contamination

If we are transparent, church represents a safe place, a comfort zone. We have our friends, our small group and our kind of music. An influx of “outsiders”, especially if they don’t look like us or like the things we like, contaminates our comfort zone.

The Pharisees had this issue with Jesus. He was contaminating the religious system by welcoming tax collectors and sinners. Even worse, Jesus went outside the splendid walls of the church and joined them.

It’s important for us not to forget, we were once a contaminant! Will we take the risk someone once took for us?

2. Willing To Risk Change

The true message of the Gospel will never change, but the world we share it in will. The Apostle Paul wrote;

I Corinthians 9:22 …I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

Paul’s message was unchanging, but his method in different cultures (neighborhoods), like Ephesus, Corinth, Athens and Rome, were different.

This church, established over 100 years ago had probably not changed their message, but their methods failed to adapt in response to the culture around them.

Very few of them will join us as long as we hold on to what they see as being totally irrelevant to who they are. Speaking in the context of culture, not sin, we cannot continue asking them to deny who they are to join us.

Are we so selfish that we would rather abandon a whole section of a city to Satan, than risk our squeaky clean comfort zone to save it?

3. Risk Loving Our Community

Throughout the last couple decades, the disease of separatism infected the church. As it did, the church turned inward. Rather than loving the community God called them to, they began to isolate themselves from it. As the community around the church changes eventually the people stop loving the community and began to fear it.

The less the neighborhood around them became like them, the more they withdrew inside the walls of the church. The focus turned from ministering to the community, to serving and ministering within the church.

Once the church withdraws inside its own walls, their influence with the community quickly deteriorates. Eventually, the building a church meets in receives more ministry than the community around it.  

Is your church effective at ministering to the community that surrounds it? I would love to hear your thoughts on how it is doing so and on this post.

Have You Ever Needed Help Up?

“…Has been removed as Senior Pastor of…” I struggled to process the words I was hearing. This pastor was someone whom I had looked up to, learned from and listen to for years. How could this be possible?

Restoration takes place when we lift someone up.

It didn’t take long for the details to come out. This man had not been vigilant and in his own words, he had made the choice to turn to alcohol instead of Jesus in his struggles. He owned up to his actions and was in full agreement with the decision to remove him as senior pastor.

Many asked, “What will happen to this incredible church?” The media and its critics would make a field day of this situation. With the loss of such a high profile leader would the church survive?

If they built the church on the proper foundation, it will weather this storm.

This event was the greatest teaching opportunity this church had known. Traditionally a failure like this provided an opportunity to do what the church is best known for, killing its own wounded. They needed to put this wretched sinner down never to tarnish the name of Christ again.

But the Bible requires something entirely different of us.

Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

The goal for this church was restoring their pastor. Not to the pastorate but to a proper relationship with Christ, his family and the church. They were fully aware of this great opportunity to teach – they practiced what they preached!

Many of us have someone in our lives in need of Galatians 6:1. How do we respond when a family member, a co-worker or a friend has fallen?

First we must realize:

I. We Are Not Without Sin

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

No matter how strong we think we are, life crushing sin is just a heartbeat away! The sin that destroyed years of ministry began when a man who let down his guard for a moment. A moment is all it took!

[bctt tweet=”No matter how strong we think we are, life crushing sin is just a heartbeat away!” username=”michaelkduff”]

The starting point in this process is to check our hearts. Is there a weakness we need to confess or bring into the light? Is there an area where we need help or accountability?

We are incapable of bringing restoration in the life of another when our own hearts are not right.

II. Restoration Requires Forgiveness

We must forgive if the offense was personal. God has forgiven the sinning person, but restoration will not if we harbor bitterness or anger toward a person.

Our greatest reason to practice forgiveness is we may one day be the one needing forgiveness.

III. Restoration Requires Patience

While our hearts are anxious to see restoration happen quickly, it is not a quick process. Sometimes restoration requires years not days. Setbacks will occur. Are we ready to show loving kindness and patience as God has with us?

Consequences are difficult to work through and we need use care to show others the patience that God has shown us.

IV. Restoration Requires Grace

When we show grace we make the choice not to kill our own wounded.

[bctt tweet=”Grace makes the choice not to kill our own wounded.” username=”michaelkduff”]

Grace may mean calling the offender to see how they are doing, rather than gossiping about them on Facebook.

We can show grace by sitting next to them in church and not  avoiding them as others do.

Grace may mean protecting them from the self-appointed Christian hit men who feel the need to enforce righteousness.

God has extended His full grace to all of us. No one needs it more than someone who has fallen in that grace. Even pastors!

No one has ever fallen beyond the reach of biblical truth. But for restoration to take place, we all have to do our part.

Who do you need to show – forgiveness, patience and grace to today? What steps do you need to take towards restoring someone who is fallen?

If this post has encouraged you in any way, please leave a comment or share it with your network!