True Worshipers: Seeking What Matters to God Paperback – Sep 30 2015
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About the Author
Bob Kauflin is a pastor, songwriter, worship leader, and author with over thirty-five years experience. After pastoring for 12 years, he became director of Sovereign Grace Music in 1997. He oversees the production of their albums and teaches on congregational worship through WorshipGod conferences, seminars, and his blog, worshipmatters.com. He is currently an elder at Sovereign Grace Church in Louisville, Kentucky. He and his wife, Julie, have six children and an ever-growing number of grandchildren.
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Worship is an ever-present hot topic. There is a growing trend of people packing arenas and coliseums to attend conferences with speakers and worship/praise bands. While this seems good, we also have to realize that this trend permeates into the local churches and can cause problems. Heated debates and even church splits often come from the decision to incorporate more contemporary worship music and styles into services that are strictly traditional. In this book, Kauflin is quick to clarify that, no matter what side you're on, it is the worship of God that matters. When you cut out the performance and technological aspects of contemporary worship, the gospel truths and theological foundations must still be present. As Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well, "True worshipers worship the Father in spirit and truth."
One interesting part at the beginning of the book discusses Adam and Eve. Kauflin points out that Adam and Eve's entire existence revolved around God. They were made worshiping God, until they ate the forbidden fruit and their worship was redirected to worshiping themselves. As a result, all creation plunged into futility and despair. Then, at the first recorded worship service, Cain and Abel each brought an offering to the Lord. The end result was one worshiper killing the other. Jesus is God's ultimate statement that He will provide a way for us to worship Him - not only in this life but for all eternity.
I love the quote from theologian Derek Kidner that worship that is acceptable and good "must be more than flattery and more than guess-work. It is the loving homage of the committed to the Revealed." Worship in the wrong direction is called idolatry. Many things in our lives today can be considered idols. We turn to them (or worship them) looking for satisfaction, comfort, security or joy, when we need to focus solely on God and how He is working in our lives. God never intended us to exalt Him on Sunday morning with other Christians and remain quiet about Him the rest of the week. True worshipers, like the Samaritan woman, can't hold it in.
In all aspects of worship we must make sure that God is exalted above all else. Kauflin discusses different things that can distract us and make us lose focus in worship, and he also discusses tips to keep from being distracted in order to focus on exalting God.
The final chapter of the book gives us a glimpse of what we might expect in Heaven (drawing from verses in Revelation), and how we can direct our worship to prepare us for the coming of our Lord and Savior. He also focuses on the persecuted church - how we can prepare ourselves and be confident and assured that "the kingdom of the world will become the kingdom of the Lord and of His Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever" (Revelation 11:15).
I would definitely recommend this book to all Christians, young and old. Kauflin does a great job presenting the material, drawing on his 35 years of experience as a worship leader. The book is saturated with scripture, relying heavily on Psalms in particular, as well as many quotes from prominent biblical scholars. There is also a notes section in the back of the book where you can find numerous other writings, books, and websites to explore the art of worship more in depth.
Kauflin is worship leader and Church planter, who desires to play a role in equipping leaders in the worship arena. He has previously served with a contemporary Christian band called GLAD before leaving to join the Sovereign Grace Ministries. He is songwriter, speaker, and also a worshiper. In this book, he shares from his heart his experience and heart for leading people into deeper and more meaningful worship. He traces back to his early years and observes how worship has become "a movement, a phenomenon, and in many places, an industry." The trouble is, worship is much more than that. Our chief end in life is worshiping God. He lists down some of the problems with modern day worship:
- How do we worship when our daily experiences do not reflect God's goodness?
- What do we do when our Sunday worship does not seem to bring life?
- What happens when there are conflicts over worship styles despite everyone saying they honour God?
- Why is it that worship does not seem to be relevant to our daily lives?
Kauflin deals with these questions sensitively. He notes that while worship is ultimately about God, it is not solely about God. Worship is like what Jesus says to the Samaritan woman at the well, the true worship is in Spirit and in Truth. He lists down nine ways in which we can return to our calling to be true worshipers of God. First, in God's eyes, we matter. Worship is an integral part of our faith. Second, we begin with what God has given, and what we received from Him. That means we recognize that God is in the beginning and without God, there is no worship in the first place. On our own, we cannot worship. The gospel is about receiving that free gift and worship is our response to such grace. Worship is both Word and emotions. It flows from the Word and the Spirit enables us. True worshipers always remember that they are receivers first. Third, true worshipers exalt God up high. Kauflin warns us that the wrong directional worship is idolatry. That is why we need to learn to lift up God alone up high. Exalting means more than just lifting up our hands or raising our voices. It is a response of deep affection in our hearts, highest attributes in our minds, and soulful worship of love. This includes our acts of worship that exalts God in our works. Fourth, worship is about togetherness. We worship God not just with our whole beings but together united as a community. When we come together, we celebrate the gospel and the receiving of God's grace together. Fifth, worshipers honour God by edifying one another. All things done in churches need to be done in a manner that build people up. Sixth, true worshipers sing. It is very common to see people in church just refusing to join in the chorus or to open their mouths to sing, for whatever reasons. Some blame it on the worship leader's choice of songs. Others refuse to sing when they do not like the songs. Kauflin gives several reasons why we ought to sing, regardless of how we feel. Singing is obeying God. God sings, and so must we. Singing comes out of a knowledge of Scripture. That is powerful. Singing lets the Spirit express His work in us. Singing helps us remember God's Word, makes us teachable, engages our emotions, encourages us to worship not only with our mouths but with our whole bodies. Most importantly, singing together is a great expression of unity. Seventh, true worshipers persevere in singing together. When we hear people around us sing, we are usually encouraged to do the same. Likewise, if people around us do not sing, we may start to question ourselves: "Why bother to sing?" One issue that Kauflin deals with is about people who do not feel like the words represent what they feel. It all boils to our understanding of grace. We sing songs of worship not because we feel like it or we deserve it. We sing because we are recipients of God's grace. We sing because we have been forgiven. We sing primarily out of a heart of confidence in God rather than pride in our own abilities. Even songs that are theologically shallow can be useful, especially when we can impart theological truths wherever appropriate. Perhaps, the song is itself an opportunity for us to fill in the gaps? Eighth, true worshipers encounter God. This has less to do with experiencing God every time and more to do with expecting God every time. Ninth, true worshipers anticipate God's great working in our lives both present and future. We learn to boast in the Lord. We learn to trust God more. We learn that even when we do not understand our present world, the time will come when God reveals all things.
I appreciate Kauflin's three points of advice, that we ought to have the attitudes of: 1) Desperate dependence; 2) Eager Expectation; and 3) Humble Responsiveness. Desperate dependence is a result of recognizing without God we can do nothing. We remind ourselves that it all begins and ends with God. What role we play completely depends on God. In Eager Expectation, we come to worship to expect the encounter with God. There is something mysterious and exciting about it, that God can choose to appear or to let us wait it out. The Word of God is often the main channel of God speaking to us. We need to be like the piano string, to respond when the Spirit strikes out heart strings. Finally, Humble Responsiveness is an act of obedience. We respond to what has already been revealed instead of waiting passively for questions that God have chosen to delay answering.
This book on worship is a hearty exhortation for us to let worship be the key purpose as we gather as a community. Worship is more than singing songs. It is about God, and whatever we do, we do so with God's glory in mind. For worship leaders, this song affirms their ministry and the importance of helping worshipers understand that the songs are a means to an end, and not an end in themselves. For pastors and preachers, worship is very much both the singing and the preaching. Incorporate worship songs into the sermons. Utilize the verses and choruses where appropriate to let the whole service be integrated as one. For lay persons, this book may very well inject life into a lifeless and mundane act of singing and celebrating. I like Kauflin's conclusion:
"True worshipers hold fast to the hope that one day we will do nothing but boast in the Lord."
Worship is exciting, as long as we come with desperate desires of God, expectant hearts in God, and humble obedience for God. Amen.
Rating: 4 stars of 5.
This book is provided to me courtesy of Crossway Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.
He reminds us that true worshipers worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24). That is worship springing from a sincere heart and lining up with the truth of God's Word. We can only do that through the work of Christ. He emphasizes our inability to worship God unless He draws us by grace and reveals Himself through His Word.
The essence of worship, Kauflin says, is exalting God in our hearts and actions. He suggests a good way to begin is to remember that God exists in every situation. Right now. He also writes about the importance of gathering in community to worship. He wrote quite a bit about music too, why we sing, why we must sing. He also covers what we are to expect when we worship, including edifying one another. He ends the book with worship in heaven.
I like the way Kauflin has given us the essentials of worship. He could have written a longer book, he says, but wanted something that covered the questions he has been asked over the years and the areas where he has seen Christians struggle. I like how he clarifies when worship happens. It is not just something on Sunday morning. It is to be the totality of our lives.
This is a good introduction to worship, what it is, how we do it, and why we do it. I highly recommend it to those who want to make worshiping God their highest goal.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
The book is nicely organized by verbs—things that true worshipers do. They matter; they receive; they exalt; they gather; they edify; they sing; they encounter God; and they anticipate eternity.
He shows the reader that “it takes God to worship God.” Before we can give worship to God, we humble ourselves to receive from God. He maintains this thread throughout the book, reminding us of the grace involved as we worship God in our daily lives as well as in gatherings with each other.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to be among the worshipers of God. It will encourage you and inspire you.
“Worship is a gift we receive before it’s a task we perform.”
“It brings no glory to God if we claim deep affection for God while harboring ill will toward people.”
“It should be clear by now that if we haven’t come to receive, we won’t have anything to give. This isn’t self-centered Christianity. It’s acknowledging that we have no resources in ourselves, and that from him, through him, and to him are all things (Rom. 11:35–36).”
“We meet together as redeemed saints to remind each other whose we are, how we got here, and why it matters.”
“When we love something, we attach worth to it. We’re saying to others, ‘This is worthy of my thoughts, time, labors, and affections.’ Loving God persuades others that God is desirable, good, and satisfying. Loving God is distinct from loving things about God. It’s the difference between Bible knowledge that leads to pride and that which leads to praise.”
Thanks to Crossway for the review copy of this book.
Why? Because worship isn't about Sunday morning--or Sunday evening--worship services, church services. Yes, worship includes meeting together with other believers in the church. But worship is so much more than that. Worship is also so much more than singing: either singing hymns or singing praise and worship songs.
Kauflin shares with readers what worship is: what true worship is. Here is the table of contents to give you a glimpse of what to expect:
True Worshipers Matter: Worship and Reality
True Worshipers Receive: Worship and Our Inability
True Worshipers Exalt: Worship and Humility
True Worshipers Gather: Worship and Community
True Worshipers Edify: Worship and Maturity
True Worshipers Sing: Worship and Music
True Worshipers Keep Singing: Worship and Perseverance
True Worshipers Encounter: Worship and the Presence of God
True Worshipers Anticipate: Worship and Eternity
I loved reading this one. I thought it was well-written, well-organized. I loved how scriptural it was. I loved how it was about so much more than music and music styles.