Over the last 6 months or so, a theme has surfaced in a number of Tim Chaney's sermons. It is not usually the focal point of the sermon, but rather a thread that has been woven into the fabric of the last few series. If you listen back, you might be able to uncover a slow and steady admonition. He has challenged us over and over again to move from an attitude of somber remorse, to an attitude of victorious warriors and co-heirs with Christ. We as a church are guilty of being so overwhelmed by our sin, our family issues, our country, our finances etc. that we tread water week after week, just hoping and praying that God keeps our heads above water. We need a paradigm shift. We need the church to be a more than a crutch that gets us from Sunday to Wednesday and back again, but rather a catalyst that causes us to thrive in life.
Change will not happen because Tim is the pastor, or because we have hired two other yahoos to do the stuff of ministry here at Fellowship. The change will happen because the Holy Spirit will move and the people of God will respond.
Think about this, someone in China is battling cancer, and it is no different than someone battling cancer in the United States. In Europe, depression is no different than it is here in the good 'ole U.S.of A. Anger is the same, jealousy is the same, sexual immorality is the same. They are the same because the enemy uses the same tools no matter where he attacks. He is unified in his attack. Jesus himself said, "A Kingdom divided against itself cannot stand." [Matt 12:25] Worship Pastor Dustin Smith says, "There is a reason Satan's kingdom hasn't fallen on its own, and its because it's very unified, and its unified in one thing, bringing dishonor to the name of God.
We as a church [both globally and here at Fellowship] need to make sure that we are unified against this enemy. We need to know how to use worship as a weapon against the enemy. Because if the enemy's goal is to dishonor God, then when we bring honor to Him, we are doing damage to Satan's agenda. So let's talk practical battle plans.
1. Your Heart - "Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life." Prov. 4:23
Your heart is not something you can ignore. If you come into contact with a situation where God is clearly moving, and you come away unchanged, the first thing you need to do is to take stock of where your heart is. As a general rule, whatever you spend your time and money on is what your heart is invested in. How much of your heart is surrendered to Christ? How are you willing to let God change the way you do battle for Him?
2. Your Mouth - "Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks" Luke 6:45
You do not have an excuse. You need to sing. I know this is weird coming from the worship pastor and can seem self-serving, but I am telling you, this is so important in spiritual warfare. There are multiple examples I could use, but I will limit myself to two examples of this.
(1) The demoniac in Luke 8 calls out to Jesus as soon as he sees him "What do you want from me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?" Clearly this is not the man talking but the "Legion" speaking to Jesus. Jesus of course, rebukes them and sends them into a heard of pigs. We have a nonbiblical understanding of how spiritual warfare takes place. We assume because we cannot see what is going on physically, that we should be able to "do battle in our minds." However, in every encounter with demonic forces, Jesus, or the disciples audibly SPEAK against them in the authority of Jesus. [click here for more on our authority]
(2) If we are to worship in unity in order to do battle against the enemy and to restore the honor of God in our church and in the lives of the people who come through the doors, then it is not about any one person. As the worship pastor, of course I want you on a personal level to get something out of the music section of our worship service, but ultimately that is not the goal. We are at war. There is a big misconception that it is ok to "worship God in your heart." To the enemy, that is great news because he knows that there is power in your words, and if he can keep it contained within you then he has won a battle. You see, it is not about being a good singer, or about what people think around you, but about proclaiming truth over yourself AND over the person sitting next to you. Even if you don't "feel it" on Sunday morning, it is important to not allow the enemy to shut you up. Someone needs to hear your voice speaking truth and encouragement, and they are more than likely sitting next to you in the worship center.
3. Your Emotions - 2 Samuel 6
I won't take time to write out this whole passage, but take a minute and turn there. We can clearly see that David is a man who does not care what people think of him when he worships, and more than that, God doesn't care about dignity in worship, just authenticity (he punishes Michal with barrenness for trying to shame David [6:23]). Now, what I am not saying is that we should all don linen ephods, which are glorified whitey tighties, and dance around this Sunday. What I am saying is that your emotions are part of you. There is not a single person that in a meaningful relationship with another human being, has not felt anything. We claim daily that our relationship with God is the most meaningful and important relationship in our lives, and yet on Sunday morning, there is a definitive limit to what is ok to feel. Much less to act on those emotions.
I can hear the alarms going off in your head even now as I write. "But Jason, that is emotionalism! We are not supposed to be controlled by that!" To which I would respond: Emotionalism is controlling of your emotions. Keeping your arms by your side when God is calling you to lift your hands in surrender is emotionalism. I agree that you can't worship God just based off of your feelings, but we need to discover what it is to unlock our emotions and cause us to feel like worshiping. People of our church dictate the reality of the importance of our God by how they express themselves during worship. When my son shoots a ball into his little basketball goal, I don't go up to him and say "I want to tell you how good that was, but it is just not part of my personality to tell you that." NO! I am either going to act and tell him how great he did, or I am not going to do anything. If I do nothing, it communicates something to my son. It tells him that he is not important enough for my attention. Is God important enough?
We are more concerned with excess than we are with lack. When I read Jesus' words, He is more concerned with lack. Are we doing enough? Are we lukewarm? Are we going to return to our first love? Love is a mind-altering drug, and causes us to act. Our emotions can really help us to capture the reality of who God is. It is impossible to gain a sense of wonder without emotions, and every person in scripture who walks away from a glimpse of God's Glory walks away in wonder. (Mt. Sinai, Jesus' Transfiguration, Isaiah, John in Revelation, etc.)
We claim adoption as sons and daughters, we claim co-heirs with Christ, we claim unlimited access to the Father, we claim that he pursues us, we claim Christ's death for us, we claim the Holy Spirit within us. What more could we ask for from God before we will go to battle for Him in His own house? Let us stand up this week and make a bold proclamation that we will be the ones to bring honor to Him.