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Is it the song service, traditional or contemporary.
Does it include interpretive movement, shouting to the Lord or waving flags?
Is it the whole thing, preaching, teaching and songs?
Is it merely a heart attitude of thanking and welcoming the Lord in our lives.
Is it all of the above?
Why?

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Great question, Lisa.

To me worship is my life. I worship when gathered with other believers in the things you mentioned above, but I also worship when I am just living moment by moment in God!
Paul says our reasonable worship is to present ourselves as living sacrifices (dead men walking), pure and God-pleasing. It isn't ritual. It isn't religious. It's relational. If it "requires" sound equipment, lighting adjustments, waving flags and banners, hymnbooks or overheads and etc.; then most of the world population will never be equipped to worship.
It's a hear-to-heart encounter with God. It's ultimately seeking first his righteousness and his kingdom. It's entering into and being transformed by his presence. It's synchronizing our hearts with his. Years ago, Worship Leader Magazine interviewed me. The writer asked, "How do you know when your worship is successful." She was talking about the musical offering of our hearts to God in our public corporate services.
I answered her question with a question, "How do you know when your ministry to children is successful?"
"Easy," she snapped. "Children come."
"Your youth ministry?"
"Young people attend."
"So, how do you know your worship ministry is successful?" I asked.
"I get it," she said. "People come."
"Wrong," I explained. "You know your worship ministry is successful when it attracts the presence of God himself."
"How do you know when God shows up?" she asked.
"Ma'am," I replied, "If you have to ask that question, he hasn't shown up yet."
It's difficult for many to grasp the idea that an omnipresent God can be eminently present. He can be omnipresent and eminently present with Moses on the mountain, for example. The same is true with intimacy with God. His presence can actually be palpable at times. Many of us live, pray and even sing ("worship") in the outer court. We never enter into his eminent presence beyond the veil where we experience "transformation by adoration."
I believe worship encompasses all of the above. Life should be lived in a way that it shows forth the worth of God. Music, dancing, flags, preaching and teaching, etc. are expressions of worship; true worship proceeds from the heart.

It isn't the style that determines worship; it's the heart attitude.
We Worship in Spirit and in Truth.
Lisa,
Yes to everything you said. Do a quick study of worship throughout the Bible, and you'll find examples of all you've mentioned, and MORE!
What is worship? It is giving to God all the honor, love, respect, adoration, and praise due to Him because of WHO He is.
When should we worship? Day and night without ceasing, just like in His throne room.
How should we worship? With all our heart, soul, spirit, and mind in every way He has made us. He wants our worship as hot pursuit after Him like the hart panting desperately for a drink from a brook, in hilarity, and in extravagance. The heart refers to every positive emotion.
It is also in preaching and teaching? I say Yes, because He IS His Word. I believe if the written Word in ink was ever released from the confines of its pages, the Words would immediately and instantly come alive and form Him.
Blessings, Dave
That is only half of it. All of Christian worship is focused on talking to God. Praying, singing, yammering in tongues, bowing, standing, kneeling...services at our church feel like a calisthenics routine. Listening to God is another story. It requires quieting the mind and emptying ourselves of all the chatter we carry around with us. And this is a part of worship too. Perhaps even the more important part. I am loosing my connection with Christ as the Way and my desperation has become severely exasperated because my church is obsessed with TALKING to God...as if we all have something profound to say that He needs to hear. I need to listen because I do not feel Christ as I once did and I don't understand how a just God could allow so much suffering upon good people. I just need to listen, but whenever I even mention the word 'meditation' my fellow believers look at me as though I just suggested we sacrifice a goat to Satan. This is how averse we christians are towards listening to God and it disheartens me. It makes me wonder how much we get wrong because for such a beautiful and charitable faith we are incompetent listeners.

Let me put it another way. Sunday is God's day of rest. And what do we do? We bombard him with requests and pleas, gratitudes, promises and general ass-kissing. That stuff is okay for the office boss, but it's Sunday and he's trying to relax. And we don't make it easy on him. What if while relaxing the Good Lord goes out into the sunshine in his garden and plays his favorite records while inside, in his office, the answering machine is blinking with thirty million requests and promises which have been piling up all day. Wouldn't you want to hear that music? Wouldn't you think that any sensible God would wait until Monday to answer all those prayers? How do we christians listen to God?
Ahh thank you folks! I had a bit of an ulterior motive here. Now I will answer your comments and give my own answer to the above.
Eddie: Worship has suceeded when God shows up, and if you have to ask he hasn't. AMEN! True for individuals and leaders both I think.
Dave, you are ever the teacher. : )
Bruce and John right on.
Robert, Those of us in charismatic circles seem focused on active participation to determine if God has shown up. Rather odd because when HE REAllY SHOWS I am on the floor not wanting, and usually unable to stand. Even tongues have gone by the wayside and I am either quietly listening or laughing in the spirit. OK, I feel His prescence while using flags and dance, which is my thing, but there comes a time when I am forced to stop and be still. Flags and dance is my style of worship. I do not think that it has to be so anyone else, although others do have the same gifting. Yes, I think sometimes those of us accustomed to His prescence may need to be forced to stop.
I am not sure that God rests in the way you picture it. I believe He loves the sound of Our singing and prayers equally every day of the week. I know that He has answered prayers that I prayed on Sunday just as quickly as any I prayed the other six days. I whole heartedly agree that sometimes we need to just stop and listen. Listening time is something that is dificult to build in when your Pator hates dead air as mine does. You can however choose stop the outward paticipation, sit down and listen to God in the midst of the chaos.
And my answer...agrees with most of you. Worship is heart attitude of gratitude to the Lord for all that He has done for me. Even when my world is falling in and my Gram has died or the guy I thought I liked turned out to be a jerk, or leadership is annoying me, the Lord has still done many positive things. Therefore, I am still called to worship even in the midst of the tears and the battle with negative thoughts. Ouch! I'm preaching to myself on that one. We are called to make a joyful noise NOT a perfect noise. I think we charismatics focus too much on the outward appearance. The inept dancer, bad musician, and lousy vocalist may all have a heart toward the Lord that is more pure than my own. I have been visiting other churches during their song services recently. None of them appear to have the level of talent found in my home church. However, they all have a genuine heart for the Lord and relaxed attitude that has made the worship very pleasant and indeed.
I also believe that more may be happening in the heart of the apparent "bump on the pew (chair)" than is happening in the hearts of those who are outwardly, actively participating.
Lisa,
Thank you for that response. Very informative. And you're right, who knows how God rests. We apply human traits to God (like calling him a Him as if he had any use for the physical characteristics that label implies) without thinking twice. Don't you think it's strange that we see the creator as a Man when it is so obviously the female (especially in mammals) that does the creating? And would an omniscient all powerful creator actually have any use for resting? Seems ridiculous to think so. My point was more that we focus on praying and not meditating. Praying being talking to God, meditation being the listening to God. You say that one can "sit down and listen to God in the middle of the chaos" but I just don't think that's a reasonable idea. The chaos is exactly what prevents us from listening to God and the practice of meditation is a very specific set of methods designed to quiet the chaos. It takes effort and wisdom to even begin. You just can't plop yourself down and start listening to God with the same ease with which we talk to him. To do so almost guarantees that you will only be hearing your own psychic habits, tapes, and expectations and mistaking them for the presence of the Lord. It is easy as pie to talk to God, which is why we do it all the time. Listening is the uphill struggle and I hear very little on it in the christian faith.
Robert,
I think you are right that it is difficult to quiet ourselve in the midst of the chaos. Some of us may need to go to quieter location or something. I have found that after I worship for a while and feel the tangible prescence of the Lord I am able to sit and listen to Him even in the midst of a lively worship service. After I connect with Him it is His spirit that reigns. If I try to listen before connecting to the Lord it will be my habits of mind that reign.
Granted I am saved and the Lord is always present. There are times though when His prescence is more easily felt becaue I have taken time to focus on Him.

The Lord is provider, creator, savior, healer, Holy and many other things as a name search will reveal. He shows both male (provider) and female (creator) qualities and is more correctly referred to as an It. Being Holy the Lord is simply other than anything else we are familiar with. Our words are too limited to fully describe Him. We can also argue that creators are both male and female...check the gender of our famous artists and sculptors.
Christianity originated and still exists in societies where male authority leads. As highest authority it makes cultural sense that the Lord be referred to as male.
To call the Lord a she is to associate oneself with understandings found in new age religions. Not going to spend a lot of time arguing that one as I lack the knowledge to do it well.
Folks your responses are well stated. I have asked my church family the same question and invited them to engage in a church email discussion. I am copying bits of your comments to share with them. I copied the link so that thy can see our thoughts in context.
Lisa
Robert,
I wanted to touch a little more on something you said... "I don't understand how a just God could allow so much suffering upon good people."
I don't understand this either. I think there are some things the Lord allows for His higher purpose that are beyond our understanding. I will share this though.
Several years ago the leadership of the church and church school where I worked had a major falling out halfway through the year. The whole thing resulted in a church split. There were things I understood by watching that were not admitted until much later. The replacement head masters were inexperienced. Frankly. I found them annoying. Shortly after this massive change of leadership, one of young students (six years) was run over by a school bus, apparently the fault of the driver. In my eyes it was the cruel ending of a very active, precious child's life before anyone even fully knew his potential. To this day I dislike following a school bus and watching young children board or leave the bus. The whole mess left me confused, angry, not trusting the remaining leadership, or even God. The church and my job were thoroughly messed up. I was grieving a tragedy. I nearly walked away from the Lord...I didn't only because I knew I would never be back and the Lord had become a large part of my life. I got through this time only by turning to worship and flags. Fortunately, I live near the church. I was able to drop by, shut myself in the sanctuary, put in a CD and worship for as long as I needed. You see I work out problems, repent of my errors, forgive others, pray for myself and others, and even listen to God while I worship. Sometimes I simply stop and rest in the presence of the Lord.
Lisa,
The question of how a just God could allow so much suffering in the world is one I've never heard a good answer to. I ask this question quite a bit because it is so confusing to me and seems to contradict either the idea of a loving God or an omniscient God. Do you follow me there? That is, if God is loving why would he allow the innocent to suffer and die horribly? If God is all-seeing and all-powerful why would he create a world in which such suffering occurs in such abundance? Surely he could've seen the consequences of giving humans free will, and if he knew this and unleashed it anyways, how can we view him as a loving God?

My wife is from South Africa where they have the highest rate of AIDS in the world. They also claim--by quite a large margin--the highest rape statistics in the world. It's been well documented that many tribal "doctors" have been prescribing as a cure for AIDS having sex with a virgin. Crazy, I know. But it has lead to a horrific spike in child and even infant rape. Death is the usual outcome for the victims; survivors normally live a short and injured life until they die of AIDS. That particular type of crime is very common and is just a part of life in Africa. It is brutal heartbreaking violence that is right in your face over there and you can see that the severely limited opportunities for people to be educated or employed even fed properly all adds up to a cheap disregard for human life.

All too often we give God a 'pass' for the sick and immoral conditions of this world he created. We say that evil is simply an absence of God, or that God is testing us or that he has givens us free will so that we may choose on our own to live in his light, or any one of many other half-baked rationalizations that are easy to swallow in the safe Christian suburbs of America. But none of these corny metaphysical excuses really address the core question: How can God stand idly by and allow an infant to be viciously raped and murdered and still expect us to see him as loving? There are only two possible answers. Either he is unable to intervene or he is not loving. Can you think of another option? If so I would love to hear it.

You might assume that I am neck deep in a crisis of faith for even suggesting these thought...and you'd probably be right. My apologies if this is not an appropriate topic, but to me it is a very important one. It's easy to give thanks with happiness and fortune in one's life.

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