Week Five: Tools for Worship – Songs, Sermons, Books, and other materials
Have you ever noticed that the songs we sing during Sunday services help us to usher in an attitude of reverence and worship? They help us to drop our agendas and fix our eyes on Jesus, so that we are more receptive and open to hear, learn, receive, and worship unhindered.
There is a ton of Christian songs and multiple categories they fall into. Music plays an important part in worship, so much so that people (rightfully) often see music as worship. Although music certainly can be just that, it should be seen as a part but not the whole.
Many times, I have chosen to incorporate songs into my private, personal worship. When choosing a song for this I noticed I tend to select from one of the following avenues (that many times overlap):
- Songs that sing to Him (worship, adoration)
- Songs that sing about Him (praise)
- Songs about what He has done (thanksgiving)
- Songs of glory and declaration (giving back to God what is rightfully His, or again worship)
I’ve known folks who sit with a hymn book and sing their favorites. I’ve known instrumental folks who sit with their instrument and play their favorites. Some have playlists and listen quietly.
Be aware that music can also be a distraction. For me, once I’m ready to move into prayer or study, unless it is instrumental only, I find I need to turn it off or tune it out. You might be different, and that’s okay.
Q: What are a few of your favorite Christian songs and/or songs for worship? What category (as per above) would you say they are in?
If you are not familiar with much of Christian music and would like some good recommendations, ask me!
Q: Who are some of your favorite Christ-centered authors, preachers, or speakers?
You can learn and grow through a variety of tools, such as sermons, books, video clips, studies, and more. One key to ensuring you are choosing material wisely is to make sure what you absorb is aligned with scripture. Follow Christ, not man. If you’re listening to a sermon or message, study for yourself what is being taught and don’t be afraid to be wrong about things (have a teachable spirit).
There is an illustration I heard years ago about an expert on counterfeit money who was being interviewed. The reporter asked, “How do you know when a bill is counterfeit, do you study counterfeiting methodology, or do you make a point to know the dark side of counterfeiting? The expert said “No, nothing like that. In my work, I constantly feel the real thing all day and every day, so much that when a counterfeit comes through my fingers, I know it immediately”.
The “real thing” when it comes to study tools outside of the bible is Christ Himself. When you absorb yourself in Christ and are focused on Him through the lens of scripture, should you choose to read a book, listen to a sermon, or watch a movie that is not aligned with Him and the scriptures, the Holy Spirit will testify to your spirit about it immediately. I’ve had that happen several times. I don’t always realize in the very moment why my hackles are raised, but I am becoming more and more sensitive to it. If you have felt that too, you can ask the Lord to speak to you about why, and then be open to receive His answer (sometimes it comes in a variety of ways). Don’t hesitate, too, to research and ask the Holy Spirit questions directly, as He is our teacher, our guide, our counselor, and the One Who reveals Christ to us. Trust Him to give you the answers you seek.
My journey with the Lord has been richly enhanced by good speakers, preachers, and authors, especially when I am interested in learning more about a particular subject. I also find that the Lord will often nudge me towards a book or sermon, etc., through an introduction by someone else. Usually it is exactly what I needed to hear or know. Ask the Lord to reveal to you who is perfect for you and your growth in those now moments too and be prepared because over time He will!
I want to share with you a story about my mom and how the right book at the right time had a huge impact not only on her life but everyone else’s that she touched.
When mom first learned she had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, her prognosis was not good. The doctors did not expect her to live much longer, maybe a year if she was “lucky”. At the time she was reading a small book called “The Butterfly Effect”, by Andy Andrews.
“How significant is my life”, the book asks? “Do I make a difference? Does my life really matter”?
In 1963, Edward Lorenz presented a hypothesis to the New York Academy of Science. In summary, his theory was that if a butterfly flapped its wings on one side of the earth, it would set into motion things capable of starting a hurricane on the other. He was literally laughed out of the conference, and for decades the so-called “butterfly effect” was the staple of science fiction. So, imagine their surprise when more than 30 years later, Physics Professors world-wide came to the conclusion the butterfly effect was accurate!
The book goes on to address the questions I mentioned with a story of how one man, Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, by one action, impacted the world as we know it. In conclusion, the message to the reader is that everything you do matters!
From that moment, mom took that to heart and believed that her cancer was an assignment from the Lord, and as a result, she would be placed in the path of people she may never have otherwise met. Cancer or not, she was prepared to make a difference, an impact, and it would not be the first time.
Mom lived a full two years after her initial diagnosis. Our Lord knew the plans He had for her, and He knew all the days He had given her to accomplish them. And that she did!
To see a short clip by Author Andy Andrews talking about The Butterfly Effect, click here.
A few suggested authors for cultivating worship and growth:
Q: Can you think of an example of a book, sermon, movie, or song you heard that was exactly what you needed in the moment? How did that make you feel about God and your relationship with Him?
Q: Can you think of an example of a book, sermon, movie, or song you heard that did not set well with you? What did you do about it at the time?
Q: How can you apply what you have learned to your personal journey and relationship with the Lord?
SONG: “Is He Worthy?”