It Sounds Like God To Me

© Copyright 2007 by Phil Scovell - All Rights Reserved



                                      65

                             Learning To Worship


                              By Phil Scovell






          Many find  it difficult  to worship God  because they  don't know
     how.   They don't know  how because they've  never been taught.   Some
     believe,  based upon many church services I have attended, worshipping
     the Lord is  accomplished by raising your hands, praising  the name of
     the Lord loudly, running up  and down the aisles, shouting amen  until
     the  rafters vibrate, waving  flags and  banners, pounding  on objects
     which generate  a lot of  noise, leaping into  the air, dancing,  hand
     clapping, laying  on the floor, foot stomping, yelling hallelujah over
     and over again until their tongue  snaps off its roller, and generally
     creating as much  racket as humanly possible.   None of which,  by the
     way, am I against.  If you study Old Testament worship, you will  find
     many  such things practiced by  the Jews so I  am in no way belittling
     such forms  of worship.   Moreover, I've done  a great deal of  what I
     just described.   It is why we  do it which causes me  to consider the
     motives.
          Is the purpose  of worship to generate a lot of enthusiasm so the
     preacher's sermon  sounds better or a lot of  hyped emotions so we can
     feel God?  Does worship make us a better Christian?  What  if we don't
     worship like everybody around us or like the person who is instructing
     us up at the pulpit?  Are we sinning if we don't raise  our hands?  Is
     speaking in tongues  worship?  If so,  why do some believe it  isn't a
     gift for today  even if the  Apostle Peter in Acts  Chapter 2 said  it
     was?   With all this in mind,  let  me tell you a true story about how
     to worship God which likely is rarely considered to be worship.
          My 75  year old friend, of  whom many of you have  heard me speak
     before, picked me  up one night  for our traditional,  waist of  time,
     Wednesday night  bible study.   I say, waist  of time, because  we, in
     that church, rarely studied the bible.  Oh, the Bible was preached but
     it got to a point where it was no longer taught by the pastor.  This I
     never understood because the pastor was a great preacher and he was as
     good of Bible  teacher as I have  ever known.  However,  our Wednesday
     and Sunday night meetings had decayed into book reading sessions.   He
     would read  to us  from some  famous book that  was currently  popular
     among mega churches across  the country.  Why  we couldn't read  these
     books on our own was a mystery to me but then, I wasn't the pastor.
          This  particular Wednesday evening was starting out just like all
     the other boring Wednesday night bible studies, so called.  We had six
     to eight  people who showed up and we met in the basement and sat at a
     long table.   I was dreading  the Standard Operating Procedure  I knew
     was about to begin.  I also knew that the man who brought me, and with
     whom  I   normally  rode  with   Wednesday  and  Sunday   nights,  was
     discouraged.
          That very week, a friend of the family's son had been run down by
     a hit and run driver and killed.  This man,  and his wife, my friends,
     had lost two sons to similar accidents.  One was changing  the tire on
     his  car along side the  highway when he  was struck and  killed.  The
     other son,  and his  fiance where likewise  struck and killed  as they
     simply crossed  the street as they  were on an evening  walk together.
     So, my friend was feeling the  grief of the death of his own  two boys
     based upon what had just happened to someone they knew.
          Wishing we didn't have to sit and  listen to a book being read to
     us, other  than the  Bible that is,  someone made  a comment  about an
     animal.  I can't remember what it was, I think it was about a pet, but
     within moments, as the Holy Spirit took over  the meeting, everyone at
     the table began telling stories, some very  miraculous, about animals.
     Some stories were very  serious while others were very  funny to hear.
     Soon,  a general  discussion  about  God's creation  came  up and  how
     marvelous God's handiwork  was.  These two basic  themes of discussion
     continued to  expand at  such a  rapid pace,  the pastor  never had  a
     chance to  crack his most  popular book he  had been reading.   Before
     long, it  was 9 o'clock, the time we  normally stopped, and the pastor
     closed in prayer.  Big deal!
          Walking out  of  the building,  I  easily noticed  the  emotional
     change in the  elderly man with whom I  was riding.  Walking  down the
     stairs to the sidewalk, he chuckled and said, "Boy, I feel good.  That
     was wonderful."   Keep in  mind, we hadn't  prayed collectively as  we
     often did,  we hadn't  read the  bible, which  we  normally didn't  do
     anyhow, and the  pastor didn't even read his book which we always did.
     Yet, this man was refreshed in the Lord but didn't know why.  I waited
     till we got into the car to tell him.
          As I  clicked my seat  belt in place  and my Brother  in the Lord
     started the engine, he said, "You know Brother Phil?  I wasn't feeling
     too well when we came tonight but I sure feel good now."
          I said, "I knew you were feeling  poorly due to the death of your
     family  friend and how you  could identify with  those feelings but do
     you know why you feel good now?"
          "No," he replied as he did a U turn on the side street the church
     was on and  drove up to the  corner and waited for  the traffic before
     turning left.  "Tell me why?" he asked.
          "Because," I said, "tonight, we worshipped the Lord."
          "We did?" he said; puzzled.
          When I pointed out  that all we did tonight was  talk about God's
     creation, I said,  "we were magnifying the Lord.  Soon the Lord became
     bigger than our personal problems and  that always makes a person feel
     better to know that he has such a big God that can do anything."
          He said, "Well, what  do you know.  That's exactly right.  We did
     worship the Lord tonight, didn't we?"
          I laughed and said, "We sure did, Brother, and you are  right; it
     was good."
          If  you  read the  Psalms  carefully,  and much  of  the book  of
     Proverbs,  you will  notice the  focus the  authors placed  on God  by
     circling the wagons, sort of speak, around God's creation.  King David
     was especially notorious for this.  Read it for yourself if  you doubt
     the validity of my statement.   How did King David magnify God  in his
     life?  Just read the 23rd Psalm.
          One reason why I enjoy our African Gray parrot so much is because
     he always reminds me of God's creation.  Sure, we have dogs.   We even
     have a cat and  rabbits and guinea pigs, a couple of  turtles, a frog,
     and a  rat;  a pet rat, I  mean.  Most, if not  all, of these pets are
     domesticated.   Well, as domesticated  as a frog  or turtle can  be, I
     mean.  The  parrot is, too, of course, but he still possessed with the
     wild nature God gave  him.  Yes, he bites hard when I stick my fingers
     in his cage.  When we let him out to play on his cage or his fake tree
     perch, he loves to nibble and bite my fingers.  He loves walking up my
     arm,  if I lay it down flat, and  crawling up the front of my shirt to
     stand on  my shoulder.  He  likes pulling my hair, what's  left of it,
     nibbling on my ear,  trying to jam his beak down  my ear canal, biting
     my nose, and picking at anything he  thinks looks interesting.  Then I
     bend down closer to  his cage or perch  and he jumps off my  shoulder.
     He is still a  wild bird and that  alone always makes me think  of God
     and how He is the creator of all things.  So what am  I doing, you may
     ask,  when  I  am thinking  this  way?    Yes,  that's right.    I  am
     worshipping  my  Creator.   No,  I am  not worshipping  the  bird; I'm
     worshipping the bird's Creator who just so happens to be my Creator as
     well.
          I'm even weirder than just  that.  I talk to the parrot, his name
     is Chester, and I tell him about God and that He, God, created him and
     made his nice feathers and his  beak so hard that he is able  to crack
     nuts opened to feed himself.  Now,  I know some are thinking that this
     bird doesn't know any such thing.  I believe he does.  I believe he is
     in touch with the Creator more than I am so I talk to Chester about it
     all.  I said I was weird.
          How do you learn  to worship God?  The best way is  to pray.  How
     do you pray?   You sit  in a chair quietly,  or kneel in front  of the
     couch, the settee if you live in England, and you wait before the Lord
     silently.  You push away  all the thoughts of the world  when they try
     to come regardless of what they are.  No, I didn't say you attempt  to
     empty  your mind; that's  a form  of meditation  which isn't  wise for
     anyone  to practice for any reason.   Why?  It  leaves you exposed and
     unguarded.    Just  pushing  away  worldly  concerns,  however,  isn't
     meditation; it is active concentration.  It is mental adjustment which
     allows for your  mind to focus on  more important things.   This takes
     practice.  The worldly problems love to crowd our minds with worry and
     doubt and  unbelief and fear  and guilt and shame  and frustration and
     stress, and a lot of other such things.  No, you don't need to picture
     the cross in your mind, or what Jesus may have looked like, or Heaven,
     or  focus on  a  burning candle,  or anything.    You simply  exercise
     discipline over the  thoughts that are trying to  commandeer your mind
     and  emotions.   Then, as the  things of  the world begin  to fade and
     drift out of focus,  you do one thing and one thing only.  You listen.
     For what?  You listen for God.  If you are born again, I guarantee you
     will eventually hear  Him.  Oh,  maybe not at  first because we  carry
     around a  large amount of  doubt and unbelief  in our thinking  and we
     feel its effect deep within our emotions.  If you continue  doing what
     the Bible calls, "Be still and know that I am God," (Psalm 46:10), you
     will soon  begin to, not  only worship the Lord  in your mind,  but in
     your spirit where the Holy Spirit dwells.  You will also begin to hear
     God.   Maybe not in words or  pictures but you will sense His presence
     in a way you likely have never experienced before.  Then what happens?
     You will  begin to worship Him for who He is.   Who is He?  He is God;
     your Creator.
          When I do this, I wait until the things of the world grow dim  in
     my  thoughts.   Based upon  circumstances,  this might  take a  little
     longer than what feels comfortable.  The more we pray this way, on the
     other hand, the quicker  the worldly things  begin to drift away  from
     the forefront of our minds.
          At this  point, I  often begin  to just  randomly think  of God's
     creation.  Think about  His eternality and how He has  always been and
     always  will  be.   Consider  the creation  of  the universe  which is
     without end or containment.   He created the universe  as a reflection
     of His nature.  Eventually, as you attempt to get your thoughts around
     these humanly impossible  things, you will settle on Jesus  and who He
     is  and why He wants to be in your  life.  Why will you defer to Jesus
     instead of God?  Because, you, nor anyone, can comprehend God.  Jesus,
     who is God,  became a man  for 33 years so  He could identify  Himself
     with us as  His creation.   Now we  can identify  with Him because  He
     became like us to make that possible.  Now do you understand why Jesus
     came to earth?  He came for you because He wants to get to know you in
     a very personally intimate way which words cannot describe.
          I still  find Christians uncomfortable  with this type  of prayer
     and  worship.  In my life, I  have read dozens of books on meditation.
     What  I am  describing as  prayer is  nothing like  eastern meditation
     techniques.  I know I am repeating myself but that isn't prayer and it
     isn't worship so don't do it.  If you have trouble with  this, go back
     and read the Psalms,  especially those of  King David, and you'll  see
     exactly how David focused on God, His nature, and his creation.
          There is  one other  way of  achieving this  form of  intimacy in
     prayer.   It  is called,  singing.   It is  quite simple  and  the New
     Testament is  in no  way  silent on  this subject  of worship  through
     singing hymns  and songs and  spiritual songs.   Singing, by its  very
     nature, causes the world to fade  and our minds and emotions to  focus
     on the Lord.  Instant worship!
          I  want to tell  you about one  of the bravest men  in the Bible.
     His name  is  Elijah.   I  say, his  name  is, because,  Elijah  never
     physically died.  He  was miraculously and spectacularly  carried into
     Heaven by God and there was an eye witness to confirm it.
          Long before this  miraculous home going, Elijah  experienced some
     amazing things  through the  power of  God.   But, since  he was  only
     human,  he also  became fearful  and  scared and  frustrated from  the
     stressful activities of the ministry.  It  gets worse when the wife of
     the King  puts out a contract on  you to have you killed.   So, Elijah
     did the only thing he could think to do.  He ran for his life.
          During  his flight,  he ended up  in a  cave.  God  did something
     quite humorous.   He  asked Elijah a  question.   "What are  you doing
     here, Elijah," God wanted to know.  Well, Elijah hawked up this bilge,
     which is another way of saying he coughed up this theological garbage,
     about how he was the only person left serving the Lord (he didn't know
     about the other 7,000  people the Lord already had working  for Him at
     the  time) and  that, dad gum  it, the  queen was  trying to  have him
     killed.  God told him to go out and stand on the mountain.
          Something mighty unusual  happened as Elijah made his  way out of
     the  cave.   God passed  by, the  Bible says,  and the  wind  that was
     generated was  so powerful  boulders split  in half.   Now, I've  been
     through  Wyoming  many times  but I  have  never witnessed  a  wind so
     powerful and so  strong that it could  split big rocks in  half.  Yet,
     the Bible says, God was not in the wind.  Odd, you might say.
          After  this big  God generated  wind storm,  there was  a massive
     earthquake that  rattled Elijah false  teeth.  Again, the  Bible says,
     God was not in the earthquake.
          Finally,  there was  a  fire.   Now, stop  and think  about this.
     Elijah is  hiding  out high  up in  the mountains  where  not much  is
     growing.  Yet, we  are told there was a fire.  Were  the rocks on fire
     or what?  It kind of makes you think that way.  Still, the Bible says,
     God was not in the fire.
          Then, the Bible does say, God spoke  to Elijah in that same small
     still voice and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"  You can read
     about this in First Kings chapter 19 if you doubt my interpretation.
          So  what do  you suppose  Elijah learned  about worshipping  God.
     Being on the mountain isn't what's important.  Hearing God's voice is.
     In fact, it is all that is important.