This is the text of a onetime seminar developed on the theme of worship.

There are two sides to worship: firstly there is the upward direction from the worshipper to God. Secondly there is the downward direction from God to the worshipper.

God desires our worship. From the very first, God's people were involved in worship of their God. The first argument was over correct worship. Able brought a sacrifice of an animal while Cain brought a sacrifice of grain. This was the background of the first murder. Because the sacrifice of Able was pleasing to God while the sacrifice of Cain was not, Cain was jealous.

Noah left the ark and in response to God's act in Salvation his immediate action was worship. A key activity in the relationship between God and his people is worship. God created mankind for relationship with him. That relationship has always revolved around worship. Some say that mankind has taken the role of worship together with the angels.

Some see the role of Satan as the covering cherub. They quote the poem about the King of Tyre in Ezekiel 28 as a description of the role of Satan before his fall. Verse 13 in some translations discusses pipes and timbrels, and verse 14 describes Satan as the covering cherub. They see this as indicating Satan was the chief angel who was responsible for the worship covering of God. God in his court desired worship. Satan left his responsibility and took the worship for himself.

What is clear from the biblical text is that throughout the relationship between mankind and their God not only did mankind worship God, but God expected and desired that worship. this is one of the things that we just don't understand about our God. Why would the creator of the universe desire our worship. What is it about us that would cause the creator of the universe to want to hang out with us? However throughout history the interaction between God and mankind has included worship. The Israelites, the people of God were required to worship. According to the Bible mankind was originally created to be in relationship with God. This was to address a desire by God to have fellowship. A key part of this fellowship has always been worship.

Worship is central to the Christians experience of their God. It is the place where they are revitalised and sent out to again engage the world in mission. Without worship the Christian is without purpose and without vision.

The experience of the Christian in the world is to lose sight of the reality of their God, the reality of his kingdom, the reality of his mission. In worship we again see these things, they are again inscribed on our souls in fresh deeper letters. The urgency of the heart of God is again impressed on our spirits. We again feel the urgency of a world without hope when so easily we have the solution.

In our use of the term worship to describe services Sunday by Sunday, we have lost the key meaning of the term worship. A Sunday service is not worship. It is a staged event that states something of the beliefs and the vision of a community of their God. However it is not worship. Worship may occur within a Sunday service or it may occur elsewhere. It is important to realise that worship is not orchestrated rather it is the response that we cannot help offering to God.

We have seen in the word study, that the immediate response to the revelation of God is to worship. This means that we as Christians, as song leaders, as ministers and preachers have as our task in designing Sunday services to place before our congregations the revelation of God. It is to facilitate the moving of God in self- revelation. It is the pointing of hearts and minds towards God so that people might again grasp a glimpse of their God and be renewed.

Pentecostal theology makes an important distinction between praise and worship and says something about the process of worship. Psalm 22: 3 states:

And Thou art holy, thou that dwellest amid the praises of Israel.

They suggest that God dwells in the praises of his people. The process of praising causes God to come and dwell with his people. In other words the presence of God falls on the congregation and begins to minister in revelation and in sanctification, healing and similar.

If we look at John 16 Verses 5 to 15 we find that a prime part of the Ministry of the Spirit is to reveal God to us. When we begin to talk about worship in our post charismatic era we begin to use terms such as the presence of God, the moving of God, the falling of the Spirit on the congregation. These are all pictures of this kind of theology.

If you look at the classic Pentecostal liturgy you will see this theology worked out. Generally the service begins with a series of praise songs or up tempo songs. After a while the music changes to more quieter reflective songs as the congregation begins to worship. About this time or scattered through this time there will be periods of quiet in which the gifts of the Spirit will be manifested. They have moved from initial praise to worship and the moving of the Spirit.

It is this revealing of the spirit, this Ministry of the spirit in revelation to our spirits of God that causes worship to occur in the context of our worship services. It is this Ministry of the spirit in sanctification, in direction and revelation, not to mention encouragement and conviction that prepares us for the future week

This is not to say that this is the best model of worship. But simply a useful way of looking at worship that gives us greater insight into the process. Another model gives us different insights. In this model the process of praise and worship is a journey. As we worship, as we praise, we are in the process of drawing near to our God. The leader is charged with the job of leading the congregation into the presence of God. As we approach the throne of our God we begin to worship. We enter the courts of our God and experience his glory and worship.

This model gives us insights into the necessity for the experience of our God for worship. It is as we experience God that we begin to worship. Remember worship is a response to God. We respond to what we experience through revelation or fellowship.

The first model, that of the falling of God's Spirit in response to our praise, has the problem that it is very mechanistic. An inappropriate interpretation of this model would say that we can manipulate our God by going through the motions of praise and worship and then guarantee the moving of the Spirit. This is of course not the case in real life. Rather it is an approach of humility to our God. Our only expectation is that God may move because of his Grace and love for us.

The second model also has this kind of problem, although not so pronounced. The indication is that if we go through the process of the journey as described by the model then we will automatically enter the presence of God. Rather we should make clear that it is the grace of God that proceeds to meet us when we take an attitude of seeking God. God gets very excited about his children who proceed to reach out to him. Usually he reaches back.

A third model states that the process is one of self- preparation to meet God. Christians are by definition spiritual beings. However they move in a world that is un- spiritual. As they deal with the world, they tend to gain the world's viewpoint. In preparation for worship, prayer, confession, praise, the Christian is changing their viewpoint so that they can again be in relationship with their God.

In this model there is a definite feeling that the Christian must draw near to their God. This drawing near is a change of attitude, a change of viewpoint, a change of direction, a change of what is important. It is a leaving of the concerns of the world, a leaving of the view of the world and a taking again of the heavenly viewpoint.

In this model the Christian is transformed in preparation for worship. They are given the sight they need to perceive their God and worship. In this process of being transformed the Christian only has a minor part to play. They are in the role of offering, of drawing close, of being open to the will of their God. It is the activity of the Spirit that proceeds to open their eyes once again to their God and causing worship to occur.

One thing that we haven't discussed is the blocks to worship. If we are not willing to draw near to our God then worship will not occur. If we are caught in sin and we do not repent of that sin then worship usually doesn't occur. To put a positive slant on this, if we are prepared in repentance, in prayer and in seeking God then worship is more likely to happen.

Somewhere in the midst of all these models is the reality of the way worship occurs. We should be thinking about what is then required of us as designers of worship services to cause worship to happen. if we consider the blocks to worship then we have to say that a key thing that we need to do is to prepare ourselves for worship. It is not enough to do all the Ministry type things if we do not seek our God for worship.

Further, it is important to consider the worship services to be a partnership between ourselves and the Spirit of God. We need to seek the will of God for this worship service. Discernment in music and worship are thus a useful spiritual gift in this context, because this worship service is a partnership between the worship leader and God in leading the congregation into worship. unless the worship leader is sensitive to what God is trying to do, and the God given way of achieving that result, the worship will be less than perfect.

As I have been suggesting, the key mover in worship is the spirit. It is the Spirit in his ministry of revelation that causes worship to occur. It is the Spirit moving in conviction that produces sanctification through worship. It is the Spirit moving in revelation that produces greater and deeper faith through worship. The Spirit presents to us our God and we worship.

In my theology worship is thus central to Christian discipleship and the Christians experience of their God. The process of worship, together with the Daily Christian walk, is what produces Christian disciples. True worship is thus paramount to the continued mission of our Church. The ministry's involved in worship are thus very important for our future life in God and mission. -

If we truly believe that this is how important the worship of God is in our Church, then we must choose our worship leaders appropriately. We are not just giving people the job of playing a musical instrument, or singing or leading the singing but we are giving them a job that directly affects the discipleship and the preparedness of our churches for mission. I can't stress this enough. We have to choose our ministers in worship for their discipleship, for their gifting, for their dedication to this task. It is less important to be musically adept than to be spiritually adept. It is my opinion, for what it is worth, that our churches are littered with people who have had a defective worship experience. How can someone continue to warm a pew if Sunday by Sunday they meet God face to face in worship. If someone meets God face to face then they immediately get excited, they immediately get active, they immediately reach out and begin the Ministry that God has called them to.

Worshipping the living God is something that is scary. In the Temple, it was so scary that from minute to minute, you didn't know whether you would be struck down dead. When the priest entered the Holy of Holies, every day of atonement, they tied a rope around his ankle so that if he was struck dead they could pull his body out again.

There was the case of King Uzziah. Uzziah full of pride usurped the role of the priests and was struck down with leprosy for his sin. (2 Chronicles 27 verse 16 f f). Would we have such a lassez fair attitude to Sunday worship services if we truly believed in the power and might of our God? Would we come to worship with such a sense of lack of importance if we had a God who responded both in retribution for disrespect and also reward and pleasure for our true worship? Something to consider as we attempt to enter into worship Sunday by Sunday.

Here are some questions to consider while you are doing the word studies:

1) why do the people in the passage worship?

2) where is God and what is he doing?

3) where is the person and what are they doing?

4) what is the style of worship?


Ge 22:5

Ex 24:1

De 26:10

1Sa 15:25

1Sa 15:30

2Ki 17:36

2Ki 18:22

1Ch 16:29

Isa 49:7

Da 3:5

Joh 4:20

Joh 4:21

Joh 4:22

Joh 4:23

Joh 4:24

Php 3:3

Heb 9:14

Ps 5:7

Ps 138:2

Isa 45:14

Ge 29:35

De 10:21

1Ch 16:35

2Ch 7:6

2Ch 20:22

Job 40:14

Ps 7:17

Ps 9:1

Ps 28:7

Ps 35:28

Ps 44:8

Ps 52:9

Ps 63:3

Ps 119:164

Ps 119:171

Ps 139:14

Ps 148:5

Ps 148:13

Isa 12:1

Isa 43:21

Jer 17:14

Jer 20:13

Da 2:23

Da 4:37

Joe 2:26

Hab 3:3

Mt 11:25

Lu 2:38

Lu 10:21

Lu 18:43

Lu 19:37

1Co 4:5

Heb 13:15

Ge 19:1

Ge 24:26

Ge 24:48

Ge 24:52

1Ki 18:42

Ge 47:31

Ex 4:31

Ex 12:27

Ex 33:10

Ex 34:8

Jos 5:14

Jud 7:15

1Sa 1:19

1Sa 1:28

1Sa 15:31

2Sa 12:20

2Ch 7:3

2Ch 29:28

2Ch 29:29

2Ch 29:30

Ne 8:6

Ne 9:3

Job 1:20

Heb 11:21

Re 7:11

Re 11:16

Ex 15:1

Nu 21:17

Jud 5:1

2Ch 29:28

Ezr 3:11

Ps 106:12

1Ch 15:27

2Ch 5:13

Some passages to consider:

1) why worship?

A) Magnificat, Nunc Dimmitis etc

Luke 1: 46 f f, 1: 68 f f, 2: 29 f f, 2: 37, 38

b) transfiguration Matthew 17: 1 - 8

c) elders in revelations

Relations 5: 11 - 14, 7: 11, 11: 16

d) David in the Temple

2 Samuel 7: 18 f f

2 Samuel 13: 15 f f

E) Temple dedication and the ark

1 Chronicles 15: 14 f f

2 Chronicles 6, 7

2) outcomes of worship

A) transformation: Ephesians 5: 25 f f

Story of Caleb

B) Church order: revelations 1: 9 f f, Acts 13: 1 f f

Beyond the Voices of the Bazaar.

Asking the question: "what are we meant to do and be in our Christian lives?" is increasingly a pointless activity. While the answer is still very useful, the possibility of success in finding an answer is doubtful or rather the likelihood of finding many answers, each mutually exclusive or contradictory, is increasing. Christianity is becoming a Bazaar - a multitude of small stalls, each with an eager salesperson in front crying their wares and forcing the Christian passing by to enter and solely invest themselves in the process, truth or belief they are selling.

Think about the threads that supposedly make up a good Christian walk.

We are to spend quality time in God's word; spend a number of hours in prayer (for our Pentecostal and charismatic brethren this must include a significant period of time speaking tongues both going into intelligible prayer - the preparation model - or going out of intelligible prayer - the exhausting the natural model.).
Of course the most important thing is to ensure that our children have quality parenting including being trained up in the Lord, prayed through into the kingdom and released into ministry - presumably the ministry of raising their own family of Christians.
But then the most important thing is building a good marriage, putting your spouse first and ensuring that the relationship is strong. Men are to love our wives in the same manner as Christ loves the church, and women are to reverence their husbands.
We are to be heavily involved in our local churches. We demonstrate the quality of our discipleship in the number and variety of the meetings we go to: church twice or thrice on Sunday, the mid week prayer meeting as well as small groups and the business meetings of the various ministry roles we undertake.
We have an obligation to lobby various levels of government, show support for the homeless, the poor and the disadvantaged. Of course we must also make our voice heard on the moral issues that face our society: abortion, homosexuality, war and refugees.
In a practical sense we must meet the needs of the disadvantaged and marginalised: housing the homeless, feeding the hungry and ministering to the elderly and disabled.
The most important thing though is evangelism itself. If we just meet peoples needs here on earth then we condemn them to hell after a comfortable life. We are placed in a specific location and a specific time. We are responsible for those round about us and the generation that we are born into.
But the church is really called to make disciples of all nations. We as Christians and the churches we belong to must reach out and support missionaries as they spread the gospel to unreached people groups.
I think I could continue but you should have the point now. Each of these things are good things, right things, and can be demonstrated as sound Christian teaching. Yet if any Christian attempted to achieve all these things to the level that their proponents suggested, they would never sleep and would be attempting the 40 hour day.

Today I am the father of three boys, the husband of a wonderful wife, I have pets and a house to maintain, I have a demanding job with high stress and in some cases long hours, I average 10 to 15 hours a week on ministry and ministry related activity in addition to church involvement, I read the bible through every 8 months and try to spend 30 to 40 minutes in prayer each day and I regularly ask myself about "balance"

I say that I do all those things but often one or more areas are neglected - usually the areas that are the most important. Equally the result of me doing all these things is often not the kind of Christian character I require.

Ultimately it is a question of direction: are we being driven by what God has said or by what the Bazaar has said that God has said?

I think of the Christian leaders that I have most admired and wonder how they did it. Whitefield spent anything up to 60 hours per week preaching - not preparing to preach but actually in front of his audience. Rees Howells split his time between working a long shift digging coal with a pick axe and running an extensive mission in the next town - walking the miles each way. Jackie Pullinger worked while running a youth club for triads, spending her spare time, instead of sleeping, in jails and hospitals visiting the youth she was working with when they were in trouble. Their lives were filled with constant work; constant care and their timetables put mine to shame.

We can look at the lives of these leaders, and many others, and gain a model of ministry and discipleship that is not very helpful in a search for "balance. If we look at these lives from the surface we are confronted with a basic question that is a corollary of the "balance" question: "Is Christianity primarily about doing or primarily about being?" If we answer that it is about doing then the role of the Christian is to run in ever decreasing circles attempting to live up to the Bazaar definitions of Christianity.

Lets go back further than the Whitefields, the Wesleys and the Pullingers, to the earliest times of faith and consider one called "the father of faith": Abraham. Abraham lived 175 years and in that time he did very little. You could take pretty well everything recorded in Genesis about the life of Abraham and make a good attempt at scheduling it within six months to a year. He left his country and wandered, dug some wells, fought a few battles and talked to some kings. If the life of faith, the life of righteousness was about doing then Abraham was an abject failure.

Throughout his life Abraham demonstrated what it means when we begin to suggest that Christianity is about "being". Abraham lived by herding sheep and goats. There was a strong thread throughout his life of worship and thankfulness. To project this aspect of Abraham's life into today's terms, Abraham went to church each Sunday, loved his family and spent time in prayer and the word. His life in a very basic way lived the tenets and practises of his faith. His life was the equivalent of many other people of his time, and if we project to this time, of many faithful everyday Christians in our churches.

I have stated that Abraham's life was ordinary - filled with very little. In one sense that is true in another it completely misses the point of the story of Abraham's life. Abraham invested his whole life in two related things: his pursuit of covenant or relationship with God and the pursuit of the dream and promise of God.

It is not activity that gained Abraham the title "father of faith", it was his heart attitude to his God. In a series of events, Abraham placed God's direction above the sensible. He obeyed the direction of God to achieve the dream that God gave him: that of an inheritance in the land and the nations that his descendants would form. He chose to leave Ur of the Chaldees to become a wanderer; he chose to trust God to give him a true heir. He chose to sacrifice that heir, the heir that was to deliver the promise.

The difference in Abraham was his level of engagement. The difference in Abraham was the level of his hunger for God and the things that God was offering him.

Since before Abraham's time to now, a person who follows God can choose a series of messages from the Bazaar that will keep them very busy, very comfortable but allow them to miss the core of what it means to be a Christian. I have come to the conclusion that being a Christian is not about the many messages of the Bazaar but about my level of engagement. To be a "balanced" Christian my expression of Christianity must be equally valid if I work hard or do nothing. It is not about what I do but about my response to God and my saying yes to the challenges that he confronts me with.

In the decisions we make we shape our lives. There are consequences that we will experience for every choice we take. In the case of Abraham some of the consequences he lived with were that of a nomadic existence, the risk of having to deal with bandits and armies alone, the hard work of self-sufficiency - herding sheep. He allowed God to challenge him in those areas, made the choices that God wanted and then gladly lived with the consequences.

The alternative was to avoid the challenges and choices and wall God out of certain areas of his life. Surely Abraham could be more value in Ur where there were people he understood and whose language he knew?

The voices of the Bazaar can be very compelling when offering an alternative to the challenges and choices that God is presenting. How can it be wrong to follow what is clearly Godly and Christian teaching? The issue is not so much what but that it is not the what that God wants.

King Saul was instructed to completely destroy the Amalekites. Instead he saved the best of the livestock and Agag the Amalekite king with the intention of sacrificing the animals to God (1Sam 15). This was a case of doing what may seem right but missing the core of God's requirement. This act finished Saul's reign over Israel, after this he was a dead man walking.

Equally Christians today can be in the position of choosing the voices of the Bazaar to avoid the voice of God calling them to specific dedication, response and activity. The voices of the Bazaar are easy to justify.

Equally, saying yes to the challenges that God places before us, can lead to the specific voices in the Bazaar that are the choices God wants us to make. A journey to the voices that God chooses results in a life that is immersed in the reality of the Kingdom. A journey to the voices that avoids the choice of God means that all we do is play the game of church.

The difference is the level of engagement. Without a hunger and thirst for God and the things of God we can live our lives without ever entering in to the centre of God's will. The heroes of the Christian faith held in common a hunger and thirst for God that would not let them rest until they saw God's purpose achieved with or without them. A life that evidences a lack of hunger and thirst for God tends to also lack real intimacy with God.

A young couple scrimped and saved, making huge sacrifices to get married. They sacrificed jobs, vacations and educations because those things stood in the way of a speedy marriage. Finally they were married and in their own home. Strange thing, they refused to be in the same room as each other preferring to always be apart, talking by telephone, passing notes under doors or calling through keyholes.

This absurd picture is the norm for many Christians. Huge cost has been expended for each Christian. It has been expended by God and the Christian so that they can be in intimate relationship and yet the level of reality of God in the life of many Christians is less than any other relationship they have. Test the level of reality, the level of intimacy you have with God. List everything that is of value in your life and consider whether if you lost everything but still had God at your present level of relationship, whether you would be happy?

Alternatively ask the opposite question; "if your level of involvement with God reduced, while you retained everything else that was important to you - possessions, church, friends, family, jobs etc - would you be happy?" Most Christians would say no - that is the correct answer and a more troubling answer is avoided.

There is a spiritual entropy, left to themselves our relationships with God deteriorate and grow cold. In biblical terms it is described as losing your first love or in major cases, falling away. Sometimes we think that these things are a sudden event, rather in most cases they are gradual over time, with the sudden event the realisation of how far away from God we truly are.

They say that if you take a frog and put it into hot water it will jump out. If you take the same frog and place it in cold water and then heat that water, the frog will quite happily stay in the water until it dies, never noticing the temperature that will eventually kill it.

The Whitefields, the Wesleys and the Pullingers each became engaged, each addressed, said yes to the challenges that God placed before them, and were led to their specific voices in the Bazaar. Whitefield to becoming the greatest open air evangelist ever and the sole support of an orphanage in Georgia, Wesley to reforming the Church of England and founding a new discipleship, Pullinger to a slow boat to China, the evangelism of the triads and thus the transformation of the walled city.

The challenge for me, the challenge for today's Christian is to seek engagement with God, to seek real intimacy, the seek the reality of the kingdom; or to follow the voices of the Bazaar.

I walked the labyrinth at Tamworth.

Labyrinth walking, is one of these really fringe Christian mystical spiritual experiences. I am not sure of the beginnings of of labyrinth walking, however it is clear that it has been part of the Christian Church since very early times. The cathedral, for example, at Chartres includes a fine labyrinth picked out in tiles that is still in use today. One of the worrying things about labyrinth walking is that it is also actively being picked up by various New Age and non-Christian religious streams. Currently, however, there is a growing use of labyrinth walking in Christian mysticism.

My interest in labyrinth walking, was one of these let's try it and see what it is like approaches. The first step was to find a labyrinth that was easy for me to get to it without having to do a special trip. Happily, it turned out that there was a labyrinth about an hour's drive from my parents place and the experience could easily be worked in to a normal family holiday with my parents. I found the labyrinth using the labyrinth finder now on the Veriditas Page.

After working through a lot of teasing by my family, I arranged to spend the day with my wife and my youngest son in Tamworth, one part of which was to be my labyrinth walk.

The labyrinth was green paint drawn on a concrete disc about four metres in diameter. There was a date set into the concrete showing a the year 2000, and it was clear that the labyrinth had been well maintained during the previous three years. Despite the relatively small disk on which the labyrinth was drawn, it is amazing how long that the actual path is from the entrance to the centre.

One of the things that I was doing on this holiday was to spend some time with God preparing for a new phase of ministry. The labyrinth walk was to be one part of this process. It was to be an opportunity to hand over and celebrate the past, to celebrate the possibilities of the present and to celebrate the consistency and faithfullness of God in the future.

As I walked into the labyrinth, I began in to pick up the things in my past ministry that may hold me back from this new ministry and handed them over to God. I consciously let go of of past achievements and past responsibilities.

Before I knew it, I was at the centre of the labyrinth. I stopped and looked back the way I had come. This was the closing of the old life and the opening of a new life and possibilities of the launch of a new phase of ministry.

I continued my walk out of the labyrinth. I felt a real sense of God's acceptance of me and this process of moving on in ministry. I felt a real sense of acceptance of the path given by God and the hope of the new possibilities of that path.

I felt good after the labyrinth walk and allowed my youngest son to also walk the labyrinth. He went at it with his usual enthusiastic run. As a mystical experience there was not a huge amount of cause and effect. I felt relaxed, but not a mountain top experience.

That night, when I went to pray, I felt an extreme sense of release. A sense of closure and freedom from the past.