Tuesday, October 23, 2007

ADORATION: A Worshipful Submission To Being Conquered by God
...restoring a reverence for God in blogging

So much of blogging in the Christianly wing of the blogosphere today has little to do with the gospel, the church, the Lord Jesus Christ, His Word, the Holy Spirit, and the encouragement and growth of His people. I don't know about you, but I am very weary of all the "talk" about methodology, postmodernism, contextualization, market research, church growth techniques, having a conversation, analysis of cultural trends, etc. Oh beloved, we need to set our sights afresh on the Bishop and Overseer of our Souls; and do our blogging, first and foremost, for an Audience-of-One.

This is "the crossroads" for the daily Christian blogger isn't it?; for it will certainly mean as we cut down the "red meat rants" to the masses, and focus on sound doctrine, biblical theology, the glory of God and the exaltation of Christ - our blog hits will decrease and combox activity will most likely diminish. This, though, should not be our primary concern, but it should be our primary conviction. As my dear friend, John MacArthur, is known for saying, "You take care of the depth of your obedience, and let God take care of the breadth of your influence." Amen! We should make it our aim to go deep, rather than go wide. If we believe God is truly sovereign over our lives and ministries, then we can't afford to do anything else.

I've needed to repent of this tendancy as well. The Lord has been working in my life on this for the past two years, but like with other sins, once you think you've conquered them, they raise their ugly head and bite you once again. Blogging is not immune to this struggle. For example, it is easy to be sarcastic and humorous at the expense of others (especially if you're good at it - and I'm very good at it). It is virtually effortless to belittle someone else or their views with the flick of the keyboard and feel detached, defensive, and derisive all at the same time. But, it is quite another thing altogether to truly minister to them, to encourage them, to point them to the Lord and His Word in order to find answers to their questions; enlightening truth to their error; repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation from their sin. IOW, snarkasm is not a spiritual gift; and is ultimately not beneficial for the gospel, the church, the ministry, or even the blogosphere.

We must prayerfully seek Paul's counsel to young Timothy when he said:

"And the Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will." -2 Tim. 2:24-26 (emphasis mine)
It's easy to justify this pervasive attitude under the banner "but we're standing for the truth, contending for the faith, and defending sound doctrine." Skubalon! If we're honest, that is just another excuse for not being circumspect, charitable, Christlike, or biblical with our words. I'm not talking about saying the hard things (consider Jude, 2 Peter 2, Matt. 23, etc.); I"m talking about doing it without buying into the spirit of this age. If we are ministers of the gospel, prophets not pundits, salt and light, then we will keep eternity in view and confront error with truth and not with our fleshly weapons of snarkasm, cutting humor, trolling, and degrading attitudes.

Even when addressing the "isms" plaguing the church today, it is simple to mistake that sometimes helpful information for the actual proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the preaching of His truth. I don't know about you, but we don't need to be more informed about the "isms" of unsound doctrine, we need to be more instructed from the truth of God's Word and His gospel. It's more than just a matter of balance and emphasis; it is about the priority (or lack thereof) that biblical exposition from God's Word should have over and against those whom would rather exegete the times. What we need today beloved are not men of the times, but men of the truth. It is no exaggeration to say, that Ichabod could be written over much of what passes for biblical ministry today in evangelicalism; for "the glory of God has departed."

Again, do we stop confronting error? Not at all. But let's focus on the truth of God in that confrontation rather than the error of false teachers. Someone being intimately informed about the Emergent Church movement, the New Perspective of Paul (which isn't new anymore), Pragmatism, etc. doesn't bring anyone closer to the Lord or make them more discerning. It does the opposite. Discernment ONLY takes place when someone is equipped with the Word of God in relation to any error that tries to get a foot in the door of the church. Are you with me? IOW, let us know the genuine article rather than make the lionshare of time dwelling on the counterfeit.


May we all take a cue from Paul and Peter. As we read their epistles, little time is spent on error in comparison to instruction in sound doctrine. Do they challenge error head on? Yes; and we should too. But it was not the wheelhouse of their activity; it was the minority mention.

Time in the furnace of God's sanctifying grace teaches us, purifies us, cleanses us, refocuses our priorities, and is a place the Lord uses to burn away the dross from our lives. I've been there these past few years; I'm there again now.

So, with that as a backdrop, I offer you these powerful, convicting words of A.W. Tozer in this quest to see reverence and honor return to the Christianly arm of the blogosphere. May we use this wonderful tool to encourage others in the Lord and His Word and leave the belittling, sarcastic, irreverent, cutting, harsh words to the political pundits and commentators.

We have eternal work to do here beloved and I for one, by God's grace, don't want to do anything else.

His Unworthy Servant in His Unfailing Love,
Steve
2 Cor. 4:5-7


by A.W. Tozer

Reverence in Worship
THE SIMPLE TRUTH IS THAT WORSHIP IS ELEMENTARY until it begins to take on the quality of admiration. Just as long as the worshiper is engrossed with himself and his good fortune, he is a babe. We begin to grow up when our worship passes from thanksgiving to admiration. As our hearts rise to God in lofty esteem for that which He is (“I AM THAT I AM”), we begin to share a little of the selfless pleasure which is the portion of the blessed in heaven. (That Incredible Christian, p. 127)

There are many great lessons for us in the worship and reverence of the heavenly seraphim Isaiah described in his vision.

I notice that they covered their feet and they covered their faces. Because of the presence of the Holy God, they reverently covered their faces. Reverence is a beautiful thing, and it is so rare in this terrible day in which we live.

Churches don’t really succeed in trying to “induce” reverence. You can’t do it with statues and beautiful windows and carpeting on the floor and everyone talking through his adenoids. But a man who has passed the veil and looked even briefly upon the holy face of Isaiah’s God can never be irreverent again.

There will be a reverence in his spirit and instead of boasting, he will cover his feet modestly. (The Tozer Pulpit, Book 1, pp. 57-58)

Worship Anywhere

Who needs a bushel basket full of claptrap in order to serve the Lord? You can worship God anywhere if you will let Him work in your being and suffer no rival. You may be still with arthritis so that you can’t even get on your knees to pray, but you can look up in your heart, for prayer isn’t a matter of getting on your knees. Prayer is the elevation of the heart to God and that is all a man needs to praise, to pray and to worship. (The Tozer Pulpit, Book 8, p. 51)

The Mysterious Element in Worship
It is true that for each one there must be a personal encounter with God, and often that encounter takes place in the loneliness and silence of retirement. In that sacred moment there must be only God and the individual soul. The mysterious operation of God in regenerating grace and His further work of the Spirit’s anointing are transactions so highly personal that no third party can know or understand what is taking place. (Born after Midnight, p. 112)

Vocabularies are formed by many minds over long periods and are capable of expressing whatever the mind is capable of entertaining. But when the heart, on its knees, moves into the awesome Presence and hears with fear and wonder things not lawful to utter, then the mind falls flat. And words, previously its faithful servants, become weak and totally incapable of telling what the heart hears and sees. In that awful moment the worshiper can only cry, “Oh!” And that simple exclamation becomes more eloquent than learned speech and, I have no doubt, is dearer to God than any oratory. (Born after Midnight, p. 85)

We Christians should watch lest we lose the “Oh!” from our hearts. There is real danger these days that we shall fall victim to the prophets of poise and the purveyors of tranquility, and our Christianity be reduced to a mere evangelical humanism that is never disturbed about anything nor overcome by any “trances of thought and mountings of the mind.” When we become too glib in prayer we are most surely talking to ourselves. When the calm listing of requests and the courteous giving of proper thanks take the place of the burdened prayer that finds utterance difficult we should beware of the next step, for our direction is surely down whether we know it or not. (Born after Midnight, p. 87)

More Romance than Worship

The influence of the erotic spirit is felt almost everywhere in evangelical circles. Much of the singing in certain types of meetings has in it more of romance than it has of the Holy Ghost. Both words and music are designed to rouse the libidinous. Christ is courted with a familiarity that reveals a total ignorance of who He is. It is not the reverent intimacy of the adoring saint but the impudent familiarity of the carnal lover. (Born after Midnight, p. 38)

We Must Be Conquered by God
The experiences of men who walked with God in olden times agree to teach that the Lord cannot fully bless a man until He has first conquered him. The degree of blessing enjoyed by any man will correspond exactly with the completeness of God’s victory over him. This is a badly neglected tenet of the Christian’s creed, not understood by many in this self-assured age, but it is nevertheless of living importance to us all. This spiritual principle is well illustrated in the book of Genesis. (The Divine Conquest, p. 53)

The pursuit of God will embrace the labor of bringing our total personality into conformity to His. And this not judicially but actually. I do not here refer to the act of justification by faith in Christ. I speak of a voluntary exalting of God to His proper station over us and a willing surrender of our whole being to the place of worshipful submission which the Creator-creature circumstance makes proper. (The Pursuit of God, p. 94)

We can get a right start only by accepting God as He is and learning to love Him for what He is. As we go on to know Him better, we shall find it a source of unspeakable joy that God is just what He is. Some of the most rapturous moments we know will be those we spend in reverent admiration of the Godhead. In those holy moments the very thought of change in Him will be too painful to endure. (The Pursuit of God, p. 93)

We Have Broken with God
God formed us for His pleasure, and so formed us that we, as well as He, can, in divine communion, enjoy the sweet and mysterious mingling of kindred personalities. He meant us to see Him and live with Him and draw our life from His smile. But we have been guilty of that “foul revolt” of which Milton speaks when describing the rebellion of Satan and his hosts. We have broken with God. We have ceased to obey Him or love Him, and in guilt and fear have fled as far as possible from His presence. (The Pursuit of God, p. 32)

Intimacy through Testing (this is currently my crucible of grace)
The way to deeper knowledge of God is through the lonely valleys of soul poverty and abnegation of all things. The blessed ones who possess the kingdom are they who have repudiated every external thing and have rooted from the heart all sense of possessing. There are the “poor in spirit.” They have reached an inward state paralleling the outward circumstances of the common beggar in the streets of Jerusalem. That is what the word “poor” as Christ used it actually means. These blessed poor are no longer slaves to the tyranny of things. They have broken the yoke of the oppressor; and this they have done not by fighting but by surrendering. Though free from all sense of possessing, they yet possess all things. “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (The Pursuit of God, p. 23)

Tozer Stressed Adoration
Such fascination with God must necessarily have an element of adoration. You may ask me for a definition of adoration in this context. I will say that when we adore God, all of the beautiful ingredients of worship are brought to white, incandescent heat with the fire of the Holy Spirit. To adore God means we love Him with all the powers within us. We love Him with fear and wonder and yearning and awe. (Whatever Happened to Worship?, p. 88)

Those who have followed the revelation provided by the Creator God have accepted that God never does anything without a purpose. We do believe, therefore, that God had a noble purpose in mind when He created us. We believe that it was distinctly the will of God that men and women created in His image would desire fellowship with Him above all else. In His plan, it was to be a perfect fellowship based on adoring worship of the Creator and Sustainer of all things. (Whatever Happened to Worship?, p. 51)

God desires to take us deeper into Himself.
We will have much to learn in "the school of the Spirit."

He wants to lead us on in our love for Him who first loved us. He wants to cultivate within us the adoration and admiration of which He is worthy. He wants to reveal to each of us the blessed element of spiritual fascination in true worship. He wants to teach us the wonder of being filled with moral excitement in our worship, entranced with the knowledge of who God is. He wants us to be astonished at the inconceivable elevation and magnitude and splendor of Almighty God! (Whatever Happened to Worship?, p. 26)

This communication, this consciousness is not an end but really an inception. There is the point of reality where we begin our fellowship and friendship and communion with God. But where we stop no man had yet discovered for there is in the mysterious depths of the Triune God neither limit nor end.

When we come into this sweet relationship, we are beginning to learn astonished reverence, breathless adoration, awesome fascination, lofty admiration of the attributes of God and something of the breathless silence that we know when God is near. (Whatever Happened to Worship?, p. 30)

Tozer’s Concern
In the majority of our meetings there is scarcely a trace of reverent thought, no recognition of the unity of the body, little sense of the divine Presence, no moment of stillness, no solemnity, no wonder, no holy fear. But so often there is a dull or a breezy song leader full of awkward jokes, as well as a chairman announcing each “number” with the old radio continuity patter in an effort to make everything hang together. (God Tells the Man Who Cares, p. 12)

Yielding to the Holy Spirit
Where the Holy Spirit is permitted to exercise His full sway in a redeemed heart, the progression is likely to be as follows: First, voluble praise, in speech or prayer or witness. Then, when the crescendo rises beyond the ability of studied speech to express, comes song. When song breaks down under the weight of glory, then comes silence where the soul, held in deep fascination, feels itself blessed with an unutterable beatitude. (This World: Playground or Battleground?, p. 42)

The man that will have God’s best becomes at once the object of the personal attention of the Holy Spirit. Such a man will not be required to wait for the rest of the church to come alive. He will not be penalized for the failures of his fellow Christians, nor be asked to forego the blessing till his sleepy brethren catch up. God deals with the individual heart as exclusively as if only one existed. (The Size of the Soul, p. 15)

A Call to Confession
The critical need in this hour of the church’s history is not what it is so often said to be: soul-winning, foreign missions, miracles. These are effects, not causes. The most pressing need just now is that we who call ourselves Christians should frankly acknowledge to each other and to God that we are astray; that we should confess that we are worldly, that our moral standards are low and we are spiritually cold. We need to cease our multitude of unscriptural activities, stop running when and where we have not been sent and cease trying to sanctify carnal projects by professing that we are promoting them “in the name of the Lord” and “for the glory of God.” We need to return to the message, methods and objectives of the New Testament. We need boldly and indignantly to cleanse the temple of all that sell cattle in the holy place and overthrow the tables of the moneychangers. And this must be done in our own lives first and then in the churches of whom we are a part. (The Size of the Soul, p. 132)

Full Surrender
Once the heart is freed from its contrary impulses, Christ within becomes a wondrous experiential fact. The surrendered heart has no more controversy with God, so He can live in us congenial and uninhibited. Then He thinks His own thoughts in us: thoughts about ourselves, about Himself, about sinners and saints and babes and harlots; thoughts about the church, about sin and judgment and hell and heaven. And He thinks about us and Himself and His love for us and our love for Him; and He woos us to Himself as a bridegroom woos his bride. (That Incredible Christian, p. 43)

Music of the Soul
The music of the heart is adoration. The music of heaven is adoration. When we get to heaven we will find that the harpers harping on their harps are just adoring God, nothing more. They are not playing “Sweet Adeline” or “Huckleberry Hill.” They are adoring God by harping on their harps. And a Spirit-baptized man will be an adorer of God. (Sermon, ”Dead Words,” General Council)

I am looking for the fellowship of the burning heart—for men and women of all generations everywhere who love the Savior until adoration becomes the music of their soul until they don’t have to be fooled with and entertained and amused. Jesus Christ is everything, all-in-all. (Sermon, “Dead Words,” General Council)

Tozer Preached Adoration
Adoration I keep for the only One who deserves it. In no other presence, before no other being can I kneel in fear and wonder and yearning and awe and feel a sense of possessiveness that cries “Mine, mine.” (“The Chief End of Man,” Sermon #5, Toronto, 1962)

When we’ve known God enough and come to have faith in Him, when we have boundless confidence in His character, and when we come to admire Him and love Him for His excellence, when we become magnetized by His beauty and adore Him we will want to pour ourselves out at His feet. We don’t have to be urged to do it. The person who has ever really met God will want to come and pour himself out at God’s feet. Consecration is not difficult to the person who has met God. He insists upon giving himself to God. (“The Chief End of Man,” Sermon #5, Toronto, 1962)

The final ingredient of worship that I would mention is adoration, which is all else brought to white heat and made incandescent with the fire of the Holy Ghost. That is to love with all the powers within us, it is to love with fear and wonder and yearning and awe. (“The Chief End of Man,” Sermon #5, Toronto, 1962)

The shepherds were the first to come to Jesus in fear and wonder and praise. The Scriptures say that they came in fear but it was not the fear men fear of impending destruction. It wasn’t the fear that superstitious people feel for black cats on Friday. It was a godly fear, the fear that heals the heart. It was a wholesome, healing, reverential fear and wonder. And these shepherds who came set the mood for all that will come through all the years. The Christ at whose feet I could not kneel and wonder is the Christ that I could not worship. I might pay some dutiful tribute to Him in keeping with the way the Church does but I could not worship if I could not wonder. (Sermon on John 3:16, Mahaffey Camp)

Tozer Grieves in Church Services

There is grief in my spirit when I go into the average church, for we have become a generation rapidly losing all sense of divine sacredness in our worship. Many whom we have raised in our churches no longer think in terms of reverence—which seems to indicate they doubt that God’s presence is there. (Whatever Happened to Worship?, p. 117)

Adoration Is a Present Reality
Looking at what John wrote, I wonder how so many present-day Christians can consider an hour of worship Sunday morning as adequate adoration of the holy God who created them and then redeemed them back to Himself. I have been at funerals where the presiding minister preached the deceased right into heaven. Yet the earthly life of the departed plainly said that he or she would be bored to tears in a heavenly environment of continuous praise and adoration of God.

This is personal opinion, but I do not think death is going to transform our attitudes and disposition. If in this life we are not really comfortable talking or singing about heaven, I doubt that death will transform us into enthusiasts. If the worship and adoration of God are tedious now, they will be tedious after the hour of death. I do not know that God is going to force any of us into His heaven. I doubt that He will say to any of us, “You were never interested in worshipping Me while you were on earth, but in heaven I am going to make that your greatest interest and your ceaseless occupation!” (Jesus Is Victor, p. 68)

Called to Flame
Christian believers are called to be burning bushes. They are not necessarily called to be great, or to be promoters and organizers. But they are called to be people in whom the beautifying fire of God dwells, people who have met God in the purifying crisis of encounter! (Men Who Met God, p. 77)

16 comments:

Sam said...

Amen and I agree! While I appreciate many of the so called "discernment" ministry websites, I have to say that the greater need in my life is to worship and glorify my King! If I loved God as passionately as I love ministry, my opinions, my position, etc. I would be much better off. Lord help me!

donsands said...

" .. we will want to pour ourselves out at His feet. We don’t have to be urged to do it."

My pastor is teaching/preaching through Romans.
The first 11 chapters are behind us now, and chapter 12 is before us.

The first 11 chapters show us God in all His glory, as He is seen as the Sovereign One who shows mercy to whom He will.

Then comes Romans 12:1 --"I beseech you therefore, brothers, BY THE MERCIES OF GOD, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spirtual worship."

We long to worship God, because of His great mercy with which He rescued us.

Some good thoughts here Campi to balance us out.
You're a good "balancer" in the Body. Your challenges are always worth reflecting upon.
Thank you.

Rick said...

Amen.

I think John Newton would be pleased as well (Letter XIX):

Whatever it is which makes us trust in ourselves that we are comparatively wise or good, so as to treat those with contempt who do not subscribe to our doctrines, or follow our party—is a proof and fruit of a self-righteous spirit. Self-righteousness can feed upon doctrines, as well as upon works; and a man may have the heart of a Pharisee, while his head is stored with orthodox notions of the unworthiness of the creature and the riches of free grace. Yes, I would add, the best of men are not wholly free from this leaven; and therefore are too apt to be pleased with such representations as hold up our adversaries to ridicule—and by consequence flatter our own superior judgments. Controversies, for the most part, are so managed as to indulge rather than to repress this wrong disposition; and therefore, generally speaking, they are productive of little good. They provoke those whom they should convince, and puff up those whom they should edify.

Blessings, Steve, as you continue with this good example.

SJ Camp said...

Thank you all
What great words of encouragement from you all and tremendous thoughts expressed too:

-I have to say that the greater need in my life is to worship and glorify my King!

-We long to worship God, because of His great mercy with which He rescued us.

-Controversies, for the most part, are so managed as to indulge rather than to repress this wrong disposition; and therefore, generally speaking, they are productive of little good. They provoke those whom they should convince, and puff up those whom they should edify.

Well done... I am richer in Christ for your words of grace.

His Unworthy Servant in His Unfailing Love,
Steve

Bhedr said...

Amen. The fullness, may we pour out our hearts for the fullness of His Spirit to work among all of us. May we continue to look and Behold Him.

Marcia said...

I need prayer, y'all. I don't have any other words.

Carla Rolfe said...

Good words today Steve. This is something I've been convicted of as well and have tried hard to battle against (the temptation to be snarkastic rather than edifying) for the last few years. You're absolutely correct in that its much easier to let the "flesh fly" than to let the Spirit lead. You may get a few hearty chuckles by going with the fleshly repsonse, but you're certainly not bringing God any glory with it.

I'd much rather do the latter. Thanks for posting this today, I appreciate it.

Jade83 said...

As an attender of a seeker sensitive church, about a year ago I began to sense God telling me that there was something amiss about it. I had no clue for the first four years I was there, but all of a sudden, I knew it was wrong. I started an internet search and came across blog after blog of people putting down those churches. I got caught up in it and followed all the links and also got caught up in the put-downs and sarcasm, the self-righteousness, etc. I must admit, reading those would also make ME feel self righteous because I knew the truth and those still attending the seeker church didn't. After a while God would convict me of that, and I would quit visiting those websites that only put others down all the time. It wasn't long, though, before I needed another dose of "I'm doing it right and their doing it wrong," so back I would go. Over time I found this blog, and I never found it to be mean or critical. I found it gentle and balanced and full of the glory of God that I needed. I admit, though, that I would sometimes skim over the "God" posts and read the "Joel" posts, etc.

But Steve, I totally agree with your post today. I want to put my focus on God and God only. Thanks so much for writing this today. It is exactly what I needed too.

Shawn L said...

Thank you.

This quote really spoke to me.

"May we all take a cue from Paul and Peter. As we read their epistles, little time is spent on error in comparison to instruction in sound doctrine. Do they challenge error head on? Yes; and we should too. But it was not the wheelhouse of their activity; it was the minority mention."

ScriptureZealot said...
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ScriptureZealot said...

I was feeling good about myself and my blog until I remembered that in my last post (with A.W. Tozer quote no less) I took a little dig at a popular preacher. I will leave it there and you can slap me with a fish or whatever.

ScriptureZealot said...
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ScriptureZealot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cyd said...

What a joy it was to read this encouraging post!!

The abundance of sarcasm in Christian blogs is so disheartening; inevitably it causes us either jump head first onto the sarcasm dogpile or grieve at the ungodliness of it all, or both.

The church grows weak from endless presentations of "isms -under- glass". Continue to preach the pure Word, Steve!

cyd

dec said...

Someone being intimately informed about the ["isms" plaguing the church today] doesn't bring anyone closer to the Lord or make them more discerning.

(Ouch!)

Is this what happened to some Christian fundamentalists in the 1940's? They went from being focused on what they believed (Christian fundamentals) to being focused on what they were fighting against.

SJ Camp said...

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