Thursday, October 23, 2014

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised

This week I've been thinking about praise.

In our churches today, we usually think about praise and worship... as though they go hand in hand. 

And some of my earliest memories are about music in the church.  My Papaw singing Prayer Bells of Heaven and Meeting in the Air.  Amy Grant. 

Yesterday I read an interesting article about worship in our churches and it really made me think. 

The article likens the worship in our current churches to pagan worship. I don't know a lot about pagan worship, and am sure that I have many misconceptions, but at first, I was like what? 

And then realized that I kind of had a similar thought earlier this month... at a Pearl Jam concert.

Yes, I realize that Pearl Jam is not a group you'd expect me to bring up when discussing praise and worship, but here's the thing...

I love Pearl Jam.  I mean, really, really love them.  I associate Pearl Jam with my late high school years and Wallace.

You may have seen me post something like this on facebook, "There's nothing better than the windows rolled down, sunroof open, and Pearl Jam blasting." (Ahh... the memories of summer. And also the memory of when the price of gas was only $0.99 a gallon.)

So, Wallace and I went to watch Pearl Jam to be entertained.  We were entertained.  It was the best date night we've had a in a very, very long time (which really isn't saying much when you consider that a. we don't go on many date nights and b. they usually involve a basketball game where he is scouting the other team). 

And as I looked around me at that concert, I saw the die hard fans.  You can probably imagine them, too, if you know anything about Pearl Jam.  I'm pretty sure that several of them were under the influence of some kind of mind-altering substance.  Some of them stood, enraptured, eyes closed, soaking in the music, swaying back and forth...

And I thought, "Wow.  This could be a church service except they aren't worshipping God. They're worshipping Pearl Jam."

Music moves us.  A soulful song gets down deep inside of us.  There's been times when I've been  in a good mood and have heard a sad song and wanted to cry, just because of the magic of the instrumentation.

And sometimes I think we like to be entertained a little too much in church.

I'm sorry if you're saying ouch. I love contemporary music as much as the next person.  My radio on my car is usually on K-Love (when I'm not listening to Pearl Jam... and I do recognize the irony.) And there really is nothing like being in a big arena like Rupp and listening to the ENTIRE gym echo with the sound of an audience singing songs like 10,000 Reasons.  Every time I leave a Christian concert, I can't help but think that it is a small taste of Heaven. 

That's not always praise, though.

Being entertained and hearing pretty music isn't praise.

For me to praise God, the One and Only, I have to give it all.  I can't be worrying about the person behind me or in front of me or behind me. 

Praise and worship isn't about me.  It's not about how lovely I sing or the number of instruments we have or even the words that come out of my mouth.

It's about Him. It's about being in His presence and feeling His Spirit and knowing that it is Him.  It's recognizing that there is nothing greater than Him... no entity.  No person.  No force of nature.  He's in control of them all...  Praising Him from the depths of my heart, sometimes with no words, sometimes with hands raised, always with a humble spirit, recognizing that I am nothing and He is everything.  Allowing Him control. 

"Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised."- Psalm 48:1
"Great is the Lord, and most worthy to be praised; His greatness no one can fathom. "- Psalm 145:3
"For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.:- Psalm 96:4

Continuing my series on Philippians 4:8, and this week I'm talking about praise.


  1. Love your last paragraph. That truly is what worship is all about - ascribing worth to Him - no matter how we do it physically.

  2. Beautiful, Lauren. The Lord is greatly to be praised, indeed! So thankful for your series and your offering of worship through your words.

  3. Thanks you for this! It is so, so true <3

  4. One of the ironies of church is that we all get out of it what we put in to it. If we go to fellowship (not gossip), learn together by digging deeper in the Word, praise God and worship--well, that's pretty much what will happen. Someone else might look at us and thing we've gone overboard in any of those areas. Listening to someone else sing a beautiful song might be an act of worship or praise for me, because I can hear myself singing along and the loudness of the congregation or artist drowns out voice and I feel free to sing form the deepest part of me (which isn't necessarily beautiful--but it's a safe place to do it ;) ).