Maintaining a Vibrant Worship Lifestyle

I’ve recently finished rereading A.W. Tozer’s book, The Purpose of Man: Designed to Worship, a short but excellent book on worship, both public and private, as the goal of the Christian’s life.  Though Tozer died in 1963, his writing is still relevant for the church today.  Today, I’d like just to give a “Reader’s Digest” presentation of Tozer’s final chapter, Maintaining a Vibrant Worship Lifestyle. I find this both refreshing and challenging, and pray that his writing may inspire and encourage you in your life of worship before our Lord.

… Worship is not an event but a lifestyle. The more we treat worship as an event, the more it becomes a caricature of God’s intention, and is unacceptable to Him.  To maintain a lifestyle of worship, we must attend to it on a daily basis. If you regulate worship to a once-a-week event, you really do not understand it, and it will take a low priority in your life.

By nature, worship is not some performance we do, but a Presence we experience.  Unless in our worship we have experienced the Presence of God, it cannot rightly be called Christian worship… It is my contention that once we experience the actual presence of God, we will lose all interest in cheap Christianity with all its bells and whistles vainly trying to compete with the world.

For worship to be a vital part of everyday life, it must be systematically and carefully nurtured.  These are a few things that have helped me in my journey along the way with God.

Quiet: I firmly believe it is important to get still and wait on God. Noise is the enemy of the soul… Cultivating quietness is a missing discipline in today’s Christian church. There seems to be a wretched conspiracy in many churches to rob the saints of the quietness necessary to nature their inner life, which is hind in Christ in God.

Scripture:  All worship should begin with the Bible. This divine roadmap leads us to God. Put the Bible in a prominent place in your daily life and allow nothing to interfere with reading it and meditating on it. Our reading here should not be a marathon, but a slow, deliberate soaking in of its message. Bible reading calendars are no help here.  Often we regiment ourselves to a daily Bible reading schedule and hurry on in our reading to keep up. The importance of reading the Bible is not reading but fellowship with the Author.

Prayer: In your prayer life, quickly move beyond the idea of “getting things” from God. Prayer is not a monologue where we tell God what we think or want. Rather, it is a dialogue between two friends; an intimate fellowship that more often than not surpasses words.

Hymns: Let any new Christian spend a year prayerfully meditating on the hymns of Watts and Wesley alone, and he will become a fine theologian. It has been a successful ploy of the enemy to separate us from those lofty souls who reveled in the rarified atmosphere of God’s presence. I suggest you find a hymnbook and learn how to use it.

Devotional Reading: The devotional works of bygone saints can help us on our way. I am not thinking of those daily devotionals popular today. They have value for those just beginning their spiritual pilgrimage, but the growing Christian needs strong meat.

Simplify Your Life: The average Christian’s life is cluttered with all sorts of activities.  Too many things in our life just suck the life out of us and are not essential to wholesome living. We find ourselves rushing through the devotional aspects of our life to give predominance to mere activities.

Friendships: It is easy for our friends to distract us from our walk with Christ and from maintaining a vibrant life of worship. Cultivate friendships with this who have made He who is the Friend of sinners their constant companion.

Adapted from: Tozer, A. W. The Purpose of Man: Designed to Worship. (Bethany House; Bloomington, MN. 2009) pages 177-185.

Readings from the Pastor’s Desk – Here are a few of the interesting articles I’ve come upon this week:

3 Things Not to Say at the Start of Worship: This one caught me short – do I say any of these things when we come together for worship?  Sometimes, as a worship leader, it’s difficult to know what to say, and you don’t wan to fall into a routine of saying the same thing every time you come together.  Just some food for thought.

Who is Richard Rohr?  I was recently asked this, and while I had heard the name, and was leery of his teachings, I wasn’t sure why?  Here is an article looking into the teachings of Richard Rohr that may be helpful.

What is the Emerging Church?  This is another question I was asked this week, and I wasn’t really prepared to answer.  While the Emerging/Emergent Church Movement was all the talk more than 10 years ago, you don’t read much of it today, though it still has left lasting effects on the church.

I Am Your Greatest Good!

In the 2004 Disney Movies, The Incredibles, you will hear arguably the best line in an animated movie spoken by a character you never see.

As the final battle begins, the character Frozone frantically searches for his super-suit, so that he can assist the incredibles in saving the city.  Searching room to room, he cries out to his wife, “Honey, where is my super-suit.”  When she won’t tell him, not wanting him to leave, Frozone argues, “It’s about the greater good.” His wife’s reply, “Greater Good?! I am your wife! I’m the greatest good you are ever gonna get!”

greatest good

This scene was running through my mind as I was reading the opening chapter of Paul David Tripp’s, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands:

What is the best news you can imagine? What is your “If only….” dream? Is it becoming a multi-millionaire and buying the house of your dreams?  Perhaps it would be the job you have always wanted. Maybe your spouse would suddenly become the person you always hoped for, or your child would finally turn out all right, living responsibly and married to a wonderful person.  What would be your best news?

The way we answer that question says a lot about where we’ve placed our hopes, our expectations, our faith.  Our prayers, our longings before God, are usually fixed on the things we see right in front of us.  We pray for health, that we would know healing, strength, and peace; and we only feel like that prayer has been answered when we feel better.

We pray for our families, and expect that God’s blessing will result in success, a modest level of comfort and tranquility, and the absence of conflict or affliction.

We feel like God has fully blessed us when we have a happy and successful marriage, well-adjusted kids, the bills are paid, and we get along with everyone around us.  We tell ourselves, “This is as good as it gets. Who could ask for more?”

To be sure, all of these good things are blessings from God, who is the giver of every good gift and perfect gift. We should, indeed, be grateful when our lines fall in pleasant places.

Knowing, though, that our hearts are “natural idol factories” (thank you, John Calvin), we must recognize our propensity to turn the good gifts that God has given into gods themselves, thinking more of the gifts than the giver.  We receive His blessings, then think that the blessings are greater than the one who Blesses, and we miss the greatest blessing of them all, knowing and communing with Him.

Abraham was a man who lived trusting in the promise of God – a promise to make him into a great nation, to give him land, family, blessing.  Abraham trusted this promise, even when, after years, there was no fulfillment.  He knew great blessing, he knew victory in battle, he knew God’s provision.  Yet, He had no son.

You can imagine then, that Abraham said in his heart, “This is God’s blessing, this is as good as it gets.” He was grateful, and he didn’t waver in faith. Abraham simply told himself that the descendants would come through his servant Eliezer (Gen 15:2).

But God promised more.

In coming to Abraham, God said, “I am your shield, your reward shall be very great.”  Abraham thought he had all he could ask for, but God had a greater blessing in mind. It wasn’t tied to riches, land, or even the coming child, Isaac.  No, God’s greatest blessing was in the giving of Himself.  Abraham had just come through battle; God himself would be his shield.  Abraham had given up all the spoils of war; God himself would be his provision.

We are still like Abraham.  We see the good that God has given, and we become satisfied with the good, while forsaking the greatest good God has in store for us, a closer, fuller, richer communion with Him.  We fill our lives with the good stuff, and leave no room, make no thought, of the great.

Psalm 16:5 says, “The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.”  What is our chosen portion?  What is our “If only…” dream? It is more than just that job you’ve been hoping for. It is more than a clean bill of health. It is more than finally getting that weekend away, or that cabin by the lake.  Our chosen portion, our greatest good, is God Himself.

He has given us His Son, Jesus Christ, who is the very image of God, the incarnate Word of God, through whom God was reconciling us to Himself.  Because of Christ, the dividing wall of hostility, the curtain that kept us from God, has been town down, and we can have fellowship with God once again.   There is no greater good that we could know than to know the saving, redeeming, and faithful love of God through Christ Jesus the Lord.

There’s no need to scramble around for the sake of finding the greater good.  Rejoice in God’s goodness toward you, and press on to know Him better.  He is your God, your Creator, your Savior, your Friend. He is the greatest good you’re ever gonna get!


From the Pastor’s Desk – Here are some of the articles I’ve come across this past week.

Self-Examination – As we just celebrated the Lord’s Supper in worship, I thought this was a timely article.  We call the congregation to examine themselves as they receive the sacrament, so that they may receive in a worthy manner, but what does that really mean?  This brief article gives some helpful insight into our practice of examination.

On Sanctification – What role do we play in our own sanctification? This is a helpful article from Crossway that serves as a good reminder of our part in our own growth in holiness. “The reality is that our sanctification is ultimately dependent upon God. He is the one who brings us moment by moment, day by day, and who enables us to do those good works.”

A Gospel Driven Church – Here is an article that might help us refocus our ministry.  Why do we worship the way we do, do the ministries we do, do church the way we do? If it’s for anything other than the glory of God, we’re missing the point.  “A gospel-centered church is okay with its own decreasing – in reputation, in acclaim, in legacy, even in (gasp) numbers, but especially in self-regard – so long as it serves the increasing of the sense of the glory of God.”  Amen. Let it be so.