PowerUp Video games have used the “power-up” moniker for years to great effect.   Players are motivated to find those nuggets that will fuel their game icon with a boost of energy, super-strength, or extended powers. What happens in gathered Christian worship is hardly comparable in any way to Pacman, Super Mario Brothers, or Hedgehog, which were among the first to adapt the Japenese gaming idea of powering up into their products. Obviously, with gaming we are talking about an imaginary world designed to entertain us, whereas Christian worship is the essence of spiritual reality, mysterious and awe-inspiring as it can be, but real, with an ultimate purpose to usher in God’s Kingdom to an otherwise lost world. Another marked difference in this analogy, however, is that in the video games you can limp along and have some success apart from the power-up modules, but in order for Christian worship to be genuinely Christian there is only one means of empowerment. Apart from the Holy Spirit we are powerless. How sad for any of us to try worshiping apart from the presence and power of the Spirit. Scripture is clear. As we were reminded in a previous blogpost:

Apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. – Acts 1:8

Worship Ministry Leaders, it is essential that we work to hone our craft, become more skilled at musicianship, leadership, planning and organization. These human endeavors are built into our DNA and we believe placed there by God to be used for His glory in His Kingdom. It is imperative, however, to raise a caution banner. Whether you are a talented noted worship leader, a consummate choral conductor, or a soloist capable of stirring the emotions of the coldest listener, none of these skills in and of themselves empower genuine Christian worship. What’s more, within these capabilities lies the prospect for crippling temptations. It is far too easy for me to become enamored with my own voice when I am singing well, and thank God that He has given me the power to sing in such a manner, assuming He is blessing (and blest) because I am doing well. That is a natural tendency for those of us schooled in performing, whether our development has come through formal education or through the ranks of the entertainment field. Credibility too often rests in formal degrees or talent show trophies, when the desperate need of the church is for the Spirit to draw the Body of Christ together in a demonstrative display of His love, His power, and strength.

As a musician Worship Leader I could easily pick out some songs that speak to me, place them in an order that leads toward an emotional climax, prepare to present the set in a service and then pray that the Spirit will come and “power up” the experience as I am leading. Such a scenario almost sounds legit, doesn’t it? I sometimes hear prayers by Worship Leaders that follow this pathway. I believe that every time that is the case it is done with well-meaning intentions. It is rooted, however, in a blasphemous assumption that I have power to engage others in worship, and just need the Spirit for a boost so that we can power up to proverbial “next level” (problematic verbiage when talking about worship). Brothers and sisters, the Holy Spirit is not a shot of mid-service espresso to call on when your spirit gets weak. No, the Holy Spirit is absolutely the only means of power for transformative worship where Jesus’ lordship is lifted high, where the Gospel is clearly proclaimed as the only means of right relationship with a holy God, where the ultimate purpose of life as glorifying the Triune God is unapologetically made clear.  As J.D. Grear points out, “God has never commanded us to go save the world for him; he has called us to follow him as he saves the world through us.” Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) Italics mine. He did not say you will build your church and you can look to me when you need to power up.

Time and again the scripture exhorts us to wait on the Lord. When the songset is due for the website or bulletin that waiting can be a real challenge. Through it all, however, we must realize that the only means of power is God’s presence. No life is ever transformed apart from His work. Let us pray fervently that our worship houses will be built on the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit of God!

Unless the Lord builds the house they labor in vain who build it. (Psalm 127:1)

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  2. May 17, 1954 is the date Dr. Duke McCall and Dr. J. H. Jackson and other ministers were in agreement to make this our First Religious Holiday. In the book “The History of the National Baptist Convention” by J. H. Jackson pages 286-287, which Dr Duke McCall said, “Is one of the wisest suggestion I have heard,” pg 296. After 61 years America should be wise this week by starting to work toward May 17, the date of starting Music Discussion/MD for how we use to sound singing from Music City to cities all around America. The protest music, freedom songs, and contemporary church music is doing to worship. What global warming is doing to the ozone. On January 18, 2015 I was led to abstain from live church music in all congregation I just go for the Sunday School and Sermon. There are a lot of lying listening in church worship today just going along to get get along.

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