Saturday, March 24, 2018

THE INFLUENCES OF WORSHIP


When we gather for worship it is primarily for the purpose of responding to God for all He is with everything we are.  We respond to God’s power, glory, might, mercy, awesomeness, wonder – and the list goes on.  And our response is a choice, a matter of the will, expressing our worship in all the ways we are able – our heart, our soul, our mind, our strength, our silence, our laughter, our bodies – and more.

Regardless of what style or form a congregation adopts to offer their worshiping community, our goal is the same: to encounter the life-changing presence and power of God, through Jesus Christ, in the power of His Holy Spirit. 

Now, if we stopped here all would be well.  We’d hug, share a smile and a hearty “Amen” and be on our way.

But, sadly, far too many churches fall prey to the always-present angst of squabbles over music styles and worship formats. 

Do me a favor – go back and read those first two paragraphs.  When you’re done, come on back.

Did you read those two paragraphs?  Cool, then let’s proceed.

I call those first two paragraphs the WHO of worship.  Nothing in those two paragraphs speaks of specific ways or forms or methods.  The focus is simply on WHO we are gathering to worship. 

Now, let’s talk about the issue that continues to raise angst in many congregations – the HOW of worship.

There is really no need to list the many, many, many (get that?), MANY ways that we believers have created turmoil and strife in our churches having forgotten the WHO while spending enormous energy on the HOW.  The WHO never changes.  Ever.  The HOW always changes.  And it should! 

One of the problems is that many churches continue to force everyone into one worship service that we call “blended” which is designed to create and ensure a meaningful worship experience for all who enter since all the favorite styles will be represented. 

This is not working.

And the proof of that is seen in the many churches who continue to suffer due to harsh comments and criticism from individuals with an agenda to force what they believe is the “right way” to worship.  Very generally, this tends to fall along stylistic and/or age demographic lines. 

Those in church leadership try to rally the troops and encourage us all to get along and be accepting of the polar worship styles of those around us. 

Again – this is not working. 


THE FOUR T’S

I happen to believe there are essentially four “T’s” that influence our worship.  They are: Temperament, Taste, Trends and Traditions.  Let’s briefly look at each.

TEMPERAMENT – this is how we FEEL with certain music styles.  For some, classical music touches them deeply and stirs the emotions.  For someone else, where classical music puts them to sleep, they are emotionally impacted by a rock or pop music expression.  Some like country.  Some like gospel.  Some like urban.  Some like rap.  Music is an art form and, as such, will always make everyone feel something. Music emotes a wide range of emotions and, for many believers, there is a deep, spiritual connection to music that spoke to them at the time of their conversion. 

Someone who was saved at a Billy Graham revival of the 50’s, for example, might have a very strong emotional and spiritual connection to the gospel music of the era.  A person who met Jesus at Calvary Chapel in the 70’s will have a connection to the music of that era.  Someone who finds Christ at a Matt Redman concert will be connected to that style of music.   All three music styles are valid for those three groups of worshipers.  None of those three styles should be forced on the other groups as “the right way” to worship.  And this is, in part, where we have failed as the church.

TASTE – Similar to Temperament, everyone has unique tastes in music.  I happen to enjoy just about all forms of music – from classical to country to jazz to pop.  Not everyone shares that level of diversity with music styles.  Some choose to only enjoy rock.  Some choose to only enjoy classical.  For the purpose of this discussion, some choose only to enjoy hymns in the hymnal.  Others choose only to enjoy current Christian music heard on today’s Christian radio.  Still others choose to only enjoy music from the Jesus Movement.  And in all of these cases, that is simply their taste in music.  It is not a value judgement at all. It is a simple matter of taste.  I hate asparagus.  My wife likes it.  After 35 years of marriage, we’re still doing okay because we don’t focus on asparagus nor do we attempt to force each other to our way of thinking regarding asparagus.


TRENDS – There have always been trends in music. The popular music during the time when most of the great hymns were composed had a strong classical bent.  During the 60’s, as music in our culture changed, so did the music in our churches and the trend was akin to classic rock.  The 70’s and 80’s and 90’s saw such trends as disco, hip hop, fusion, etc.  Some churches attempted to stay in line with all of those trends – and it was a bit of a train wreck because, as we all know, trends can change rapidly.  Still, trends influence how we worship and can, if we are wise the approach, help reach those who may not feel comfortable in a church that seems out of step with the times.

TRADITIONS – Sometimes it’s easy to forget the shoulders we all stand on who have helped forge the path to where we are today.  The list of bold pioneers who came before us is long and I encourage you go take a few minutes to consider how we got to where we are today – with technology, with science, with the arts and, of course, with church music. 

You may not know that the word “hymn” comes from the Greek word, “hymnos” which translates “an ode or song to or about God.”  It does not only refer to the songs bound in the book sitting in the pew.  Technically, ALL songs that speak to or about God are – by definition – a “hymn.”  Still, for many, those early songs from their youth – from when they first met Jesus – ARE the great hymns of the faith and when they are sung it’s far more than simply singing “a song from the good old days.” It is actually ministering to them in a profound way, much like a millennial singing “Speak Life” will be ministered to in today’s worship culture.   We cannot ignore the traditions that brought us here and, in fact, we are called to minister to all who enter our gates.

There is one final “T” that I saved until now.  As stated at the outset, our calling is to willfully respond to God for all He is with everything we are.  I call that THE TRUTH. 

In a perfect world the notion of gathering together in one service that allows for traditions, trends, taste and temperament (the HOW) to live together in harmony while always remaining focused on the glory and worship of God (the WHO) is wonderful and, in some churches, this actually works!  I reckon that heaven will be like that!

But we don’t live in a perfect world.  We live in a fallen world where just about everyone has their very own idea of what is right, wrong, up, down, good, bad, etc.  We are literally all over the map with our thoughts on trends, taste, traditions and temperament.  

This is why I believe the best way to “do church” is to give ourselves the freedom to move away from forcing all to suffer together in one blended service – unless (and this is huge) – unless those in the congregation have chosen to truly, and simply, love one another and accept the differences in worship as led by the pastors and staff who are called to help their churches encounter, and be changed by, the power of Jesus Christ. 

And, if that is your church, then praise God and celebrate!

For those churches who still struggle in this area of worship angst, I suggest you seriously consider creating worship opportunities that speak to each of those four T’s – some may have overlaps of 2 or 3 – the point here is to hear the hearts of your congregation members and then seek ways to best minister to whom God has already brought and whom God will be bringing in the future. 

If we agree that our goal is those first two paragraphs (the WHO), then however we design our various worship opportunities (the HOW) will potentially result in less division, more joy and changed lives - who will change the lives of those around them...  

I don’t know about you, but that excites me!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Those Annoying First 15 Minutes
























I have a confession to make...

I am so tired of the whining and moaning and complaining and comparing... regarding the first 15 minutes of the worship service.  I am tapped out reading article after article about why the "musical worship" in most worship services is annoying or distracting or otherwise a huge waste of time.

The complaints range from one end of the spectrum to the other... the songs are too hard, the songs are too fast, the songs are too new, the songs are too old, the songs are boring, the songs are not theologically sound, the songs have too many ancient words, the songs are this, the songs are that...

GET OVER IT!

I say that in some sort of very angry love mixed with a tad of condemnation.

Let me ask a question - who do you think you are?

Let me ask another question - who do you think God is?

The modern church (and, I happen to believe the church of days gone by) has simply turned into a nearly 100-percent narcissistic monster only focused on the HOW of worship.  And it is sickening.  It has nothing to do with the worship we read about in God's Word.  Not. One. Bit.

This may come as a shock - but worship - real worship - is not about YOU and YOUR needs being met. It's not about getting to hear or sing only the songs YOU happen to like.  Worship is not ever about how YOU feel, or what YOU get out of it.  

Ugh.

You will not find any passage of scripture where the focus is on the WORSHIPPER'S needs or wants.  It is always about our RESPONSE to the Holy and Almighty God, through Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. Period. 

Now that I've made you angry, let me AGREE with you that often times those first 15 minutes of the worship gathering ARE torturous.  

And, as a music and worship leader, let me tell you why. 

It's because most of us honestly do not arrive at the worship gathering truly EAGER to encounter the life-changing power and presence of Jesus.  We just don't.  We rush in after a crazy week of work hoping to hear something that might challenge or encourage us.  But that's about it.  Maybe we want to connect with some friends - but not much more than that. We typically show up eager to point out what is "wrong" with the worship service - from songs to lights to screens to wall colors.

Really? 

In the Bible - we read about worship gatherings that are nothing like what most of our churches do in modern days.  Those early believers - both in New and Old Testament texts - are in AWE of God. They realize they are in His PRESENCE.  This is not "hanging out with their buddy" and never is the worship gathering designed to make people FEEL comfy, cozy or content.  The purpose of the gathering is to join our hearts and minds and souls and spirits with God and give to Him all that He is due with all that we are - complete abandonment to His glory!

I guarantee you that if you were to arrive at your next church service with that type of mind-set - your whining and complaining and moaning and comparing would cease.  It just would.  No longer would you wish your church's band played the Christian Top 10.  No more would you moan about your pastor saying "um" between sentences.  No longer would you whine that the slides did not flip at exactly the right moment.  

You know why?

Because your FOCUS would shift from the HOW of worship - to the WHO of worship. 

I know you don't believe me.  And that's cool.  

But I challenge you to shift your thinking before your next church service and then get back to me...

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Common or Uncommon Saint?


I've been busy writing country tunes.
I tell you this so you can make sense of me wearing a cowboy hat in this photo. 

Really, that was the entire purpose of this post.
And to invite you to visit www.morrisfork.net to hear my songs.

Later, Pardner...

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

IN PRAISE OF 3-CHORD WORSHIP














All musicians - all artists, for that matter - crave bringing our very best performance to the table.  This is just something that comes with being an artist and has probably been the case since the first time Grox picked up a stick and whacked it against a stone wall, bellowing out noises of various pitches. Grox thought, "I do better next time. Grunt."

Certainly, as God-worshiping Christians, we desire to bring our very best as an act of worship to our Creator.  Like how the builders of the original temple used the finest metals and woods as they created a "worship space."  We musicians desire to do the same.  Our desire is to play the guitar, or drums, or sax, or bass, or keys... or to sing... at the highest level of perfection because we know that will please God in our worship.

In fact, we believe that the better we perform, the better God is worshipped.

Or, at least, that's what we church musicians say - because it helps hide the fact that, sometimes, we are more interested in showing off our talents than simply worshipping God WITH our talents.

Did I say that out loud?

Whether we are willing to admit this or not, the truth is that all current church musicians live in an age of ultra-entertainment.  It has been this way for several decades but in recent years has become even more pronounced.  Most would agree that in many churches, the "worship set" has evolved (if that's a fair word) into more of a "God Show" where our bands and vocalists are performing songs that do speak of God - but songs that attempt to replicate what is heard on Christian radio - more than actually "leading the congregation into worship encounters." (by the way, if the goal is to simply copy what is heard on the radio, why not just play an mp3 of the songs and let the worship band sleep in on Sundays...)

Trust me - I know that sounds a bit harsh. It's meant to.

Average Christians in the pews (or bean-bag chairs, depending on your worship room) have been noticing how simplistic many of today's worship songs are.  Christian comedian, John Crist, does a great job of narrowing down today's trend towards creating simple Christian hit worship songs in a humorously biting video.  You can see that video HERE.  (But then, come back to read the rest of this article!)

Now, here is where this blog post will take a detour.  I actually have no problem with simple, 3-chord worship songs - provided they transcend mere entertainment or "hit song" fodder - and, instead, actually help usher the worshiper into a Spirit-led and Spirit-breathed encounter with the Lord. 

There actually is a difference between 3-chord fluff entertainment (think of any Monkees song) and 3-chord Spirit-led songs (think the book of Psalms). 

The difference is found in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit and, surprisingly, it is easy to miss - even for today's "American Idol-tainted" worshippers.

Sometimes I try to imagine David playing on his harp (lute) and ponder what his music - his songs in praise and worship of, and towards, God - might have sounded like.  He may not have even had "chords" as we know them.  Perhaps he sat on a rock near a stream and strummed or plucked his way through lyrics that are now forever cemented in the pages of scripture.  No doubt he offered his best to God - but the question is - - his best "what?"  I don't imagine David strumming and worshiping and then suddenly stopping and thinking, "God would be better pleased if, instead of this V chord, I played a IV chord..." David would simply strum and worship, strum and worship, strum and worship...

The simplicity of a worship song structure is not what makes the song inadequate or unworthy of honoring God.  It is the simplicity of the worshiper's heart that lessens the "worship value" of a song.  A song can have 7 chords, 11 changes, 2 bridges, augmented, diminished and inverted chords, rich with deep lyrics that match the greatest theological depth of any classic hymn.  But if the person playing or singing that song is only in it for the performance - it is NOT a "worship song" designed for God - regardless of how "holy" the words might sound.  In other words - your great performance will NOT please God if it never rises above the level of a great performance.

Likewise, a song with only 3 chords and simple "Psalm-like" lyrics, when sung or played by someone who's heart is only focused on God, WILL be a song that not only worships our Lord but helps others do the same.  I know this for a fact because I have seen it and I have done it.  When the focus is solely on the Lord - with our talents and abilities thought of as one might think of a set of tools in a toolbox - THAT is when God is actually pleased.  THAT is when God is actually worshipped.

For this reason, I am far more interested in the simple, 3-chord worship song that is truly worship-filled, than the mega top Christian "worship hit of the day" that is sung or played in a Godless manner.  It's not about the HOW.  It is always about the WHO.

If you are a church musician, or one of the worship leaders, your job is NOT to sound amazing.  If you do happen to sound amazing, that's great!  Keep it up.  Bring your best.  But make sure you are bringing your best WORSHIP rather than your best performance.  God is not more pleased or worshiped any fuller simply by your slick guitar licks or 5-octave vocal range.  And - He is ALWAYS more pleased with the worshiping heart of the "pitchy" singer.

I challenge you to make your next worship set less about matching top Christian radio hits, and more about singing simple songs that use less instrumentation but clearly help focus the congregation on the very reason you have all gathered in the first place.

Focus on the WHO and the HOW takes care of itself.



Thursday, August 18, 2016

Chummers of Men


Twice in my life I have been deep sea fishing.  Or, as I like to call it, "lay down on the floor of the galley until the feeling of your guts escaping leaves." 

I'm not really a "sea fisherman" type.  I'm more of a "pop open the can of Starkist" type.

But one of the things I learned on my fishing trips was the fine art of luring the fish by tossing out chum.  You get the fish interested in the area by filling that area with dead fish parts (are you hungry yet?) which attracts the fish. 

Then, you toss in the hook and BOOM you got yerself a meal!

Most churches today are passionate about finding and using the latest or greatest of most effective or "best" means of attracting new people into their churches.  In some ways, they are creating lures by tossing out "chum" such as the use of fog machines, or laser lights, or moving stage lights, or other high tech attractions that will hopefully lure people into the sanctuary.  Many have multiple-flavored services (old, young, hip, rock, country, etc). Some have done away with visual reminders that you are even in a church - no cross, no stained glass, no Bibles... All of this is in the hopes that a non-Christian will show up, enjoy the show and then be hooked in to a relationship with Jesus.

BOOM you got yerself a Christian!

The truth is, there is nothing wrong with those worship additions.  And if your church prescribes to that model, then more power to you.  God works in mysterious ways and who am I to question the motivation behind the rationale of using a dunk tank for baptism or calling the Lord's Supper "Commune-Yum-Yum?" 

But I do find myself pondering something...

How LONG-LASTING are these "American Idol" methods going to work?  See, when we format our church following an entertainment model - even if our motives are pure - eventually, some other church will offer a BETTER entertainment model - and your flock will flip the remote and simply go elsewhere.  This happens - all - the - time. 

Before I go on let me be very clear about something.  This is IN NO WAY a condemnation on "modern" or "contemporary" worship.  Only on STYLE.  The same push for entertainment can occur in an ultra-traditional church setting where the style is robed choirs, liturgical structure, etc.  Any format can become an "entertainment lure."  We just happen to live in a time when the modern church has adopted (in a large, general sense) to become "hip and edgy."

But what if we were to offer something that IS long-lasting - that no other church in town is offering, then we will not only retain those who show up but we might actually create disciples rather than just spectators. 

The early church (see the book of Acts) obviously did not have the means to modern-day technology so, on one hand, it's difficult to do an "apples to apples" comparison.  That said, they DID share the same humanity that we have.  They were men and women and children - just like us!  They had jobs, and families, and relationships, and dysfunctions, and issues of anger and rage and hate, and they had various levels of need - from plenty to nothing.  At the core level - they were just like us!

But here is one huge difference between them and us - the early church had no NEED to CREATE chum or to MANUFACTURE lures.  You know why? (This is going to hurt) - THEY HAD THE HOLY SPIRIT!  Yes, I know, I know... all of we believers "also have" the Holy Spirit.  I get it. 

But it appears that the early church enjoyed more of an awareness and expression of the Holy Spirit.  Signs and wonders happened in their midst. (This is AFTER Jesus had left, so we can't simply wave it off as "because of Jesus' miracles.")  They allowed for, and anticipated the actual presence, power and moving of the Holy Spirit in their assembly.  No lights. No lasers. No fog machines. No Top-10 Christian Hits - -  just the power of the Holy Spirit changing their lives in such a way that they were led to LOVE one another and ACCEPT one another and PROVIDE for one another. 

The lure - the "chum" - was NOT external or manufactured... it was INTERNAL.  It was a CHANGE OF HEART.  It was TRANSFORMATION.  And it was the direct result of their DESIRE to be immersed in, and changed by, the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.

Wow.

The reason today's churches tend to be focused on the external lures is because we look around and see "success" by other churches doing the same thing.  We see "large numbers" as proof of that success.  And so we think that replicating what those successful churches are doing will bring the same type of success to our church.  And, in the short term, it DOES!  Until the worshipers decide to go find a "better show" down the street.

Ah - but what we DON'T see are the countless churches out there who ALSO have large attendance but have nothing flashy or showy to use as their evidence of growth.  These churches - that most never hear about - are filled with men and women who crave to encounter the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.  I know this because I have actually been inside of those churches.  The focus is never about the external flash.  They have fantastic praise teams - but the focus is never about the well-rehearsed music.  They have people who offer clear and articulate messages - but the amazing oratory of the speaker is not the focus.  They have created welcoming worship rooms - but the color of the walls, the use of lights, the other particulars - are NOT the focus.  The focus is ONLY on encountering the presence of the Lord.

THAT is the lure.  THAT is the "chum."

If your church desires to see long-lasting, life-transforming growth, I challenge you to do the unthinkable: TEST this out.  Begin focusing less on HOW you "do worship" and more on WHO it is you are worshiping.  This might mean taking a bold step in how you order your service.  It might mean offering a night of deep praise and worship with prayer and healing attached.  It might mean shutting off the screens one Sunday.  (Can you even imagine?) Whatever it means for your church, it is worth the effort. 

In other words - don't be a "chum." Be a disciple!

Monday, August 15, 2016

I WOULD NOT WANT YOUR JOB!



Over the past several decades of working and serving in churches as a music and worship director, discussion inevitably creeps in regarding how difficult the job of being a music director in a church must be since there is a constant flow of criticism in many churches regarding music styles, forms and functions.

Sadly, this criticism is not reserved only for the music leaders. 

All of those in church service leadership are targets for criticism.  The Senior Pastor, the Associate Pastor, The Youth Director, The Missions Pastor - - even the sound techs, the custodians, the ladies who set up the tables for the women's tea - - everyone is open to receiving criticism from members of the congregation.

This always leads to someone saying, "Wow, I would NOT want YOUR job!"

There is a moment of awkward laughter and the acknowledgement that the job of "pastor" - at any particular level or calling - is difficult! 

Of COURSE following the call to continue the work Jesus set out to accomplish is difficult.  Look what happened to Him for fulfilling the call His Father placed on His life?  He was killed.  And what did He do to warrant murder?  He loved. He cared. He served. He healed. He accepted. 

And then He died on a cross.

So, yes, ministry is difficult.

But here is the huge "blind-eye" problem - - We look at those who killed Jesus and anger rises up inside of us.  We say, "How could they have treated Him like that when all he was doing was trying to love them?  Those horrible people!!"

Tell me - do you own a mirror? 

Yeah, I meant for that to sting. 

We who are constantly critical towards those God has called to help lead us towards living lives that align with the model of Jesus are really no better than those scoundrels who attacked Jesus. 

See, friends, the problem is NOT with your leaders. (Yes, sometimes it is.  Sometimes the leaders are completely off-the-wall and saying or doing things that are completely outside of what the Bible teaches.) - - but MOST of the time, your pastors, your ministers, your directors, your leaders are simply doing what God has called them to do in the ways He has gifted and wired them to do it. 

A few things to remember about your church leaders:
1) They are doing what GOD has called them to do. 
2) They are doing what they do - BECAUSE THEY LOVE YOU.
3) They are humans who will make mistakes.
4) They are NOT your hired help - they are God's servants called to shepherd your church.

Acts 2:42 reminds us that the early church was "devoted to" their leaders.  Look up that word "devotion" and see if it matches the way you view your church leaders.

As one of those servants, I want to somewhat selfishly ask and challenge you to please consider very strongly your perpetual need to be critical of your pastoral leaders.  If your case is valid, then do what the Bible says and take it to your church board of elders or other leadership.  Do not gossip among the saints about how poorly your church staff is doing their job.  That only causes division. 

And if your case is not valid (and you will know deep down in your heart whether or not this is true) then just close your mouth and find ways to support your pastoral and other staff leadership.

God did not place you in your church to be a nay-sayer.  You are not "called" to complain.  You are not "better" than your church staff or pastors.  You are one member of the body - a member who is just as important as all the other members - who are called to love one another - including your pastors and staff.

In the end - yeah, you probably don't want our job.  But you certainly can help make this thankless job far more fulfilling by actively supporting the efforts of those who lead your church. 

One of my favorite movie quotes is from the film, "A League of Their Own."  In the film, Tom Hanks plays washed up manager Jimmy Dugan.  One of his female ballplayers is complaining about how difficult it is to play baseball.  Dugan says, "Of course baseball is hard.  It's supposed to be hard.  If it were easy, anyone could do it."

Blessings!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

RUINED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT


I am not sure where or how to begin this short article... the reason being, the moment someone brings up the topic of the Holy Spirit, there tends to be an automatic resistance.  

The best I can do is offer my journey and see if it resonates with anyone out there.

I became a Christian at the tender age of 12 while attending a camp in the mountains of Southern California.  During that summer I came to hear about a Savior, Jesus, who loved me unconditionally and was my path to everlasting life.  

Because I believe what the Bible teaches, I know that the moment I accepted Jesus as my Savior, He placed within my His Holy Spirit, to work in my life in a variety of ways.

So - in a sense, I "had" the Holy Spirit within me the moment I became a Christian.

In some ways, this would be similar to how a house has plumbing for water already built in.  In most cases, you buy a home and there is no need to install plumbing.  There is water in those pipes.  It is in the house.  

We'll come back to that later.

As I grew in my faith, I became aware of a fuller expression of the Holy Spirit.  I would relate this to how being in a relationship with someone over time will lead to more in-depth knowledge and experiences with the person.  A brand new relationship will exist at one level.  A relationship of, say, 3 years (if it is truly growing) will have knowledge and experience at different, new or deeper levels. It is still the same relationship - but there is a new-found depth, the longer the relationship is nurtured. 

And so it was with me and the Holy Spirit.  As my relationship with God, through His Son, Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit grew - there was new-found depths and levels in the relationship.

I grew up attending a main-stream denominational church where not much dialogue was given to the topic of "the power of the Holy Spirit."  Over the decades, much confusion has come about because of some who chose to create "extra-biblical" expressions and teaching related to the Holy Spirit. This left a bad taste in the mouths of logical believers.  I have come to realize that this has been a classic example of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  

The reality is that the Holy Spirit is only as "crazy and mysterious" as the pages of scripture allude to. My personal view is that, when it comes to the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, if I don't see it plainly, or very strongly implied, in scripture, then I usually don't align with the particular expression. If, on the other hand, I DO see it, or I CAN justify the expression based on scripture, then I grab it and run because why wouldn't I delight in and enjoy ALL that God has for me in that area?

Remember the plumbing in the house?  

My home has pipes running through every wall in almost every room.  And those pipes contain water.  But that water does not automatically flow out of those pipes without me making a decision to open up the faucet.  When I turn the handle on the faucet, water comes rushing out.  Before I do that, there is water present but it is not flowing.  After I decide to turn the faucet on, that is when the water actually flows.

It is like that with the Holy Spirit.  He is always there, ready to flow.  He is "in the pipes" so to speak. But only when I decide to "turn on the faucet" will He flow in a more profound manner. 

What does "turning on the faucet" look like?

That question required a very long answer. In a nutshell, we open up the faucet when we do any or all of the following:

> Enter the time of corporate worship with an expectancy to MEET GOD, not just sit together with His children.
> In our singing - when we allow ourselves to be immersed in what the LYRICS actually say and let that truth massage us with His glory.
> When we choose to LIVE the Fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, etc.)
> When we allow ourselves the FREEDOM to express our devotion and passion for God outwardly with our bodies, arms, hands, etc.
> When we are NOT RESISTANT to the power of the Holy Spirit being made manifest in our assembly - for example: healings, or spontaneous song, or dancing, or weeping, etc. 

For me, the Holy Spirit is all about restoration and relationship.  It is not a "magic" add-on to our faith as some tend to view.  Rather, the Holy Spirit is the life force - the water in the pipes - that MUST be freed in order to do what it is intended to do.

You open up the faucet, water comes out, things get wet.
You open up the Holy Spirit faucet - his power comes out - and you are impacted.

Now - why did I title this blog post, "Ruined by the Holy Spirit?"  Glad you asked...

In my times of private or corporate worship, when the Holy Spirit faucet is opened and He begins to flow, something happens that transforms me.  Honestly, I lose track of time and even locale.  I find myself immersed in His presence - the presence of God, the presence of Jesus, the presence of the Holy Spirit.  It is joy and beauty and delight and awe - it is a nearly unspeakable reality of "one-ness" with the God of all creation.  It is both a deep reverence and, at the same time, a deep longing to know my God at a deeper and deeper level.  

My times of corporate worship singing transcend the mere "singing of the songs" and become more of a musical, joyful and reflective meditation.  The words I am singing move beyond the level of "narrative" and into the realm of "proclamation."  I move away from focusing on HOW I worship (meaning song styles, instrumentation, harmony, musical excellence) and, instead, I focus on WHO I am worshiping (the Almighty God of all creation, Jesus Christ, His glory, His honor, His wonder.) 

Because I have encountered that type of "Holy-Spirit-infused" worship, I find it difficult these days to simply sit in a room and sing a collection of well-rehearsed "God songs" without personally diving in deeper and encountering His presence in those moments.  

Therefore - I have been "ruined" by the Holy Spirit. 

And because I have experienced that, I want ALL believers to experience that.  Reason being, there is something TRANSFORMATIONAL that occurs when we open up the faucet and let the Holy Spirit freely flow during our times of worship.

This lines up with what we see happening in the early church - when they worshiped, they did so with gusto, freedom and expectancy.  This, along with other key practices such as devotion to the leaders and to one another, is what led to the Lord "adding to their number daily" those who were being saved.  Churches GROW when they allow the Holy Spirit to flow freely in their assembly. 

Are you ruined by the Holy Spirit?  If not, I invite you to open up the faucet and see what happens.