The Heart of True Worship

August 6, 2008

After attending a few ‘Shane and Shane’ concerts in the last few years, I have developed a specific liking to their worship style music. I know that each song is specially anointed to illuminate a certain attribute of God or harp on a specific verse or chapter in Scripture to allow me to dwell on His glory. But, it is not just the words that are amazing. It is not just the eternal life-changing truths resonating through my soul that make all the difference. No, I like the amazing giftedness and harmony between Shane Everett and Shane Barnard. As one who appreciates the acoustic guitar and its finesse beauty, I enjoy the astounding musical talent in the string picking of the Shane’s. The euphoric worship atmosphere created by them has attracted many Christians from everywhere and from different walks of life.

As the concert begins, the heart pumps harder in anticipation of high hitting notes in the voice of Shane Barnard along with the seemingly perfect harmonizing of Shane Everett. Unlike many musicians, Shane and Shane sound just as amazing live in concert as they do in their recordings. Many impromptu adjustments to instruments and genre in particular songs keep the audience on the edge of the chair, if sitting at all. There is an unlimited appreciation in each song, that anticipates the next and so forth. Non-charismatic worshipers suddenly become charismatic as they worship freely, with hands in the air, at one with God. The concerts are so spiritually powerful, uplifting and invigorating that it is almost a disappointment when it is over. At the time of the concert, I feel closer to God than I have in a long time. During the concert, it is as if I just got saved all over again. After the concert, I am disappointed that I have not pursued God as I had during the extravagant, talented, anointed show that musically exudes my God better than most any other musician I know of.

Imagine the same effect without hundreds of people surrounding you thinking and feeling relatively the same. Take away the microphones, amplifiers and speakers. Subtract the sound board, along with the guitars and even the stage. Take away the concert altogether. Does that produce the same affect? Does it tap into the emotions in the same manner? Most importantly, do you think, feel and worship your God in the same way?

I notice a subtle wicked transition in my own heart when comparing certain musicians and/or particular events to worshiping God or knowing God more intimately. Shane and Shane are a perfect example to illustrate the obvious affect they have on me, not only spiritually, but emotionally. Why does God seem bigger and more glorious when the acoustic guitar sounds big and glorious? Why do I necessarily meditate on the angelic heavenlies more or to a greater extent when I hear an angelic-heavenly voice?

The truth of the matter is that God does not change at all from before the concert, during or after the concert, song or major event. In fact, God has not and will not change throughout all of eternity. He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He is exactly how He has revealed Himself in Scripture. I am the sinner who has fallen from perfect fellowship. I am the one who changes from one minute to the next. I am the one who may worship the true and living God one day and turn right around to worship Baal or some graven image the next.

The type of worship setting, musical artists, church or conference should not make the difference in how we worship God or what we “expect from Him”. What should and does make the difference is first how we truly seek His presence in all things, every day. Not just at a Shane and Shane concert, Together for the Gospel conference or New Attitude conference. Christians are called to worship God and give Him glory in everything. We are to worship Him the same three months before the concert, the night before, the day of and the drive to the concert as we do during and after.

Even for true Christians, worshiping an imaginary God or idol is an easy trap to fall into at such events and in general. Even in the Old Testament and throughout all Scripture, we have been ones to have unclean and deceitful lips from a deceitful heart. Beginning with Adam and Eve to Israel, to the first century church A.D to modern day Christians. What comes most naturally to us is the propensity to sin and develop idols without even being aware. King David, however, was clearly not only aware, but prays what is called an imprecatory prayer that curses the enemies of God. That included anyone who ‘worshiped’ with unclean lips and heart. David did not want that to be him.

“Hear a just cause, O Lord, Attend to my cry;
Give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips.
Let my vindication come from Your presence;
Let your eyes look on the things that are upright.

You have tested my heart; You have visited me in the night;
You have tried me and have found nothing;
I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.
Concerning the works of men, By the word of Your lips,
I have kept away from the paths of the destroyer.
Uphold my steps in Your paths, That my footsteps may not slip.

I have called up You, for You will hear me, O God;
Incline Your ear to me, and hear my speech.
Show Your marvelous lovingkindness by Your right hand,
O You who save those who trust in You
From those who rise up against them.

Keep me as the apple of Your eye;
Hide me under the shadow of Your wings,
From the wicked who oppress me,
From my deadly enemies who surround me.

They have closed up their fat hearts;
With their mouths they speak proudly.
They have now surrounded us in our steps;
They have set their eyes, crouching down to the earth,
As a lion is eager to tear his prey,
And like a young lion lurking in secret places.”

Psalm 17

In David’s heart of worship, he had the humility and knowledge of the divine justice and mercy of God. God had particular mercy on David that caused him to continually plead for it. He also revealed to David His righteous judgment and justice on the wicked that caused him to continually plead deliverance from the wicked and Satan (the destroyer).

May our hearts of worship stem from the same premises and revelations that God has revealed to David in the Psalms. Let’s not observe the brand name of an acoustic guitar that rots away, yet the concert lights shine so brightly upon. May we not dare think about food or drink that we will not need in eternity while appearing to be worshiping God in spirit and in truth. Please do not obsess over who is a quality worship leader and great singer or not. But, may we meditate upon the precepts that God has ordained. May we pray for our enemies who do not know the Grace of God. We shall surrender our very thoughts, desires and wills upon the great Mercy of Jesus Christ, the perfect One who gave His life on a rugged tree. Let’s reflect in our consistent heart of worship the desire to be continually delivered from the ever present sin in this life until we pass into glory.

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