Adore God

The iGod and the Real God
Psalm 135
Matthew Raley (10-28-12)

One of the key lessons we have been learning in this series is that, unlike listening to an iPod, worship is not an escape from life.  We can’t retreat deeper into our own heads, conjure the emotions we want, and expect to find God there.  Worship is serving God by reengaging  life, getting out of our own heads and dealing with God as he actually is.  Emotional fulfillment, as taught by the Bible, comes from participating with others in this service.

We see God as he is by studying the Bible.  We interact with him through prayer, and we reconcile with him through confession in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ.  Each week we set aside time to do these things together, using music to fill our hearts with truth.  All of these aspects of worship are acts of submission.  Praise is a submissive offering.  That is why so many refuse to give it to God.

Today we study another way of dealing with the real God: praise.  We will be using Psalm 135 as our model.

Published in: on October 30, 2012 at 5:38 am  Leave a Comment  

Be Honest With God

The iGod and the Real God
Daniel 9:1-19
Matthew Raley (10-21-12)

In the course of this series we have learned that to build the alternative fulfillment of the Christian life, you have to leave the iGod who lives in your head and engage with the real God in real life.  Doing this involves thinking of worship differently:  true worship is not an escape from life into ecstasy, but an assertion of spiritual power into life.

The keys to engaging the real God are the Bible and prayer. We literally go into conference with the Lord and yield ourselves to his will.  Confession of sin, which we will be discussing in today’s message, is a specific kind of prayer.  It is a prayer that lays out how we have not followed the Lord.

Confession is often neglected today, even more than the study of Scripture or prayer generally.  Lots of Christians read their Bibles seriously and pray, even “without ceasing”, but they do not set aside time to confess their sins.  As a result, they pile up truths and experiences without a renewed experience of the Gospel, which is, in a sense, where the Christian life really happens.

Published in: on October 24, 2012 at 9:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Interact with God

The iGod and the Real God
Nehemiah 1
Matthew Raley (10-14-12)

Many Christians think of their relationship this way: In the Bible, God talks to us.  There we get his side of things.  In prayer, we talk to God and tell him our side of things.  Although this is not altogether wrong, it’s not close enough to the alternative fulfillment of Christianity which we have been exploring in this series.

The problem with this version of prayer mirrors the whole problem with consumer spirituality – there is too much of our agenda in it. The real God cannot be customized like our flexible iGods.  Ultimately, it is God who needs to adjust me.

The truth about prayer is more like this: In the Bible, we interact with God about his will. In prayer, we continue to interact with God about his will. The principle is for our bible reading to be so saturated with prayer, and for our prayer to be so saturated with biblical understanding that the two are indistinguishable.

Our model this morning is, once again, Nehemiah. He was the one who told the people in Chapter 8 to rejoice when they understood the words of Scripture, because understanding is the beginning of change. Today, in Chapter 1, we find out that he knew experientially what he was talking about.

Published in: on October 24, 2012 at 9:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Demand the Book

The iGod and the Real God
Nehemiah 8:1-12
Matthew Raley (10-7-12)

In this series thus far we’ve learned three key lessons. First, the alternative fulfillment taught by Christianity, rather than being an escape from your world, is a deeper engagement with it. Second, this engagement is rooted in disposing of our iGods and worshiping the real God.  Third, this worship involves a unified, communal, emotional response to the real God.

In other words, it is when you order your relationships around worshiping the real God in Christ, that you are building a life of fulfillment.

Today, as we look at Nehemiah 8, we will see the foundation of worshiping the real God.  To worship him, you have to know something about him. You have to see him as he is. The foundation of worship is the Bible.

Published in: on October 11, 2012 at 4:18 am  Leave a Comment  

Break the Worship Trance

The iGod and the Real God
Ephesians 5:19-20
Matthew Raley (9-30-12)

Over the last several weeks we have been discussing the effects of the consumer mindset on American evangelicalism.  We have seen that the consumer is focused on personal fulfillment. His priority is to recharge passion, to find ecstasy. This requires him to escape limits, to gain release from whatever drags him down. His ultimate escape often comes in the form of music.

As consumerism has taken over churches and personal fulfillment has become our religion, having the right music has become critical.  Churches often spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to put consumers in the right mood.  People associate this mood with worship: “When they play that kind of music, then I can really worship.”  Churches have learned that if they can get consumers into this mood, the consumers will come back.

I refer to this ecstasy of retreating into your Selfscape with a soundtrack that perfectly massages your mood as the worship trance.  In the worship trance, you’re passive, thoughtless, and alone.  Whatever value the worship trance may have for your life, it is different from what the Bible describes as worship.  And it is suspect.  It encourages you to live inside your own head with your own iGod.

This morning, as we look deeper into the contrast between the iGod and the real God, we will see what worship with music is, and we will learn how to break the worship trance.

Published in: on October 11, 2012 at 4:15 am  Leave a Comment