Tuesday, May 13, 2008

For Bibliophiles: Jerry Bridges on Worship

Surprisingly, a week or two ago I had a 'free' afternoon! What does a full-time stay-at-home, home schooling mom DO with a 'free' afternoon? Go to bookstores, of course! :-)

While at our favorite local used bookstore I found a used book for $1.95, I Exalt You, O God: Encountering His Greatness in Your Private Worship, by Jerry Bridges (check it out here at Amazon)

This find was a special 'find' for me because Jerry Bridges has been a favorite Xian author of mine for many years, and the topic of worship has been of particular interest to me over the years for a variety of reasons--some of which include my former charismatic theology & practice, and our recent "Survey of Denominations" church visits.

Since I hadn't heard of this book before (published by Waterbrook Press in Colorado Springs, 2001) I was cautious (not surprising if you know me!) but curious how he would approach this topic. I'm on "Day 8" of his 31 day plan and have been very pleased and challenged by Bridges' emphasis on knowing who God is through His word in order to equip us to worship Him privately and corporately. In his introductory comments Bridges says,

"Our Worship must be in harmony with what God has revealed about Himself in His Word. It is possible to have zeal without knowledge (Romans 10:2). For example, if we stress only one side of God's attributes--say, His mercy and love--without also stressing His sovereignty and holiness, we're not worshiping in truth."
This, I'm afraid, is where the church today continues to 'flirt' with the world as it pertains to worship--private and corporate. The average professing Christian today has become satisfied to attend and/or experience worship, in lieu of pursuing a lifestyle of worship through a growing knowledge of who God has revealed Himself to be and what He requires from His creation. Bridges warns us,
"To attempt to worship God in only the narrow sense of praising Him without also seeking to worship Him in our whole way of life is hypocrisy. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees because they were going through outward motions of worship, but their hearts were not committed to God. "You hypocrites!" He said, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men' (Matthew 15:7-9)."
Hypocritical worship--mindlessly going through outward motions, giving lip service, performing prescribed acts--is a danger for all Xians. But as we grow in our understanding of what true worship is, we become better prepared and equipped to identify our own hypocrisy, confess it, repent from it, and pursue worship that is pleasing to God in 'spirit and truth'. It requires our heart AND our mind, it is not 'letting go' as some would have us think. It is an active, conscious engaging of our mind in order to inform and direct our heart--our affections--Godward.

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