Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Living out your praise…

I thought a lot about what I should share in terms of Praise team at Harvest and I went through a list in my head;a soul-penetrating quote? a reflective devotional that would cause a revival in the hearts of all men? a mini-sermon on praise and songs of the Bible that would challenge Pastor Dave’s sermon in profundity? But when the dust settled after all these ideas clouded my head, it was clear what I should share. It’s what God has taught me about praise over the 7+ years of serving on praise team. When that hit a chord in my heart, the lessons God had taught me was too numerous to count, I had been ministered by God himself through praise team and here’s just a few of the things I learned:

Praise is pure, singing is just singing: Matthew 21:16

“Do you hear what these children are saying?" they asked him. "Yes," replied Jesus, "have you never read," 'From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise'?" (or from the lips of children and infants you praise is perfected)

It is 7 am when we get to church for practice, and no one is chipper or happy and making joyful noise unto the Lord is far away from our minds, even though that is precisely why we’ve gathered. When we practice, with sleep still looming over our heads, we just practice, but after a small breakfast followed by the good breakfast of the soul, prayer that is, somehow, our haphazard clanging of instruments only an hour prior to the worship service turns into pure praise and we know God is pleased. Singing without the outpour of the blessing or challenge in our lives is just singing (and not even good one at that). Children and infants have pure hearts; their praise is perfect because of it.

2. Praise without circumstance: 2 Chronicles 35:25

“Jeremiah composed laments for Josiah, and to this day all the men and women singers commemorate Josiah in the laments. These became a tradition in Israel and are written in the Laments.”

A lot has happened over the seven years on praise team, and it’s not always been a joyride, sometimes, many times, it’s been difficult. I’ve seen family and friends pass away, dealt with “drama” from both family and friends, and not to mention, the sadness of not being able to conceive a child. I’ve learned that praise is not praise because we are happy or joyful, it’s not an expression of happy like laughter or skipping, but we sing to God because he’s God. He deserves it. He demands it. When I sing, even a song of lamentation, I am content and my heart is full. Even when praise is only meant for Him, God has given me the gift of release in singing and crying out to him.

3. Praise is undignified: 2 Samuel 6:14

“David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might.”

Even after all these years, I still get nervous standing before a congregation 200 strong. Leading out a song or doing a solo is my worst nightmare. My heart pounds and it gets in my throat and even when I try with all my might, I can’t control the quiver and the shrinkage in volume that happens when I start to panic! I always try to remember, “this is not about you and it’s not a performance!” Praise should be undignified, like how King David danced in the streets of Israel still wearing his high priest linens. He didn’t think about his earthly position, but worshiped him in all eagerness that everyone and everything else faded out of consciousness. I want to worship like this, with all my might and without consideration of how that makes me look.

It appears as though, I did select option #3 and do a three point sermon, but in all honesty, I have been blessed and honored to serve on Praise Team for the last several years. Praise Team is a ministry I’ve found joy in even during the times we had to be at church by 6:30am! No, it’s not an easy ministry, but I am always thankful for the ministry.