Intimate Conversation with God

Oh how I long for songs that lead us into intimate conversation with the Lord, not just songs of declaration and proclamation that are loud and passionately sung. They are good and they give a good adrenaline rush – but I just love the moments when we draw near, go deeper and converse with the Lord through a simple song. Sometimes, every song in the set seems to be the declaration type songs (whether slow or fast). An example of a song that facilitates intimate conversation with the Lord is “The More I Seek You” by Kari Jobe – “The more I seek You, the more I find You, the more I find You, the more I love You, I want to sit at Your feet, drink from the cup in Your hands, lay back against You and breathe, feel Your heartbeat, this love is so deep, it’s more than I can stand, I melt in Your peace, it’s overwhelming”. That’s intimate conversation. There is a place for songs of declaration like, Kim Walker’s Happy Day, “Greatest day in history, death is beaten You have rescued me, shout it out, Jesus is alive!” but we need moments when we are engaged in deep, personal, intimate conversation with the Lord – conversations that express our love and hunger for Him and also to express our deep desire to be like Him in the way He lived and loved, in His holiness and express our passion to live to fulfill His Kingdom purposes. Declaration is like something you do in the outer court – but intimate conversation is what you do in the holy of holies, and the holy of holies is where divine exchanges take place – “You called, I answered, here am I, Lord, ready, willing and available, send me!”

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Songs Form Our Theology

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Hymns of old conveyed great biblical theology – though criticized for their use of secular tunes of the day, over the last 200 years or so, they have been embraced by churches all around the world, even the extremely conservative ones. Through the 1970s – 90s, many choruses were written for the church and they brought into corporate worship something that the hymn-writers have not emphasized – the element of personal communion & intimate conversation with God through songs of worship. “I worship You almighty God, there is none like You, I worship You, O Prince of peace, this is what I long to do ….”, “Within the veil, I now would come, into Thy holy place to look upon Thy face ….”, “O Lord, You’re beautiful, Your face is what I see ….”, etc. These are words of the choruses written in that era, an era characterized by intimate worship – deep personal expressions of desire, worship, devotion and surrender. Of course, there were also many songs written about other themes. For instance, songs about spiritual warfare that encourage Christians to fight and win spiritual battles against the devil – our unseen enemy. Today, there seems to be an interesting reversal to writing songs with lyrics and tunes similar to the hymns – but sung to modern musical arrangement. For example, 10000 Reasons, Cornerstone, etc. There is good solid theology in these new songs and that is always a good thing. There is also a strong emphasis on declaring the love of God the Father, the Father-child relationship (yet not so much on intimate communion and personal conversation with God; neither is our relationship with God as His servants found in most songs today). This emphasis on God’s love for us is also often expressed in the first person singular – “for me”. As a result, if the worship leader is not careful in his or her selection of songs, week after week, he or she will end up leading the congregation into a ME-focused, ME-centred worship (isn’t it supposed to be all about Him?). Isn’t that what worship means? Primarily to offer something to do the Lord – our hearts, our lives and our resources, and not primarily focused on receiving or being thankful for what we have received? While there is a place for songs of gratitude and even songs of comfort, these songs should not dominate our worship experiences which should be mainly focused on us offering something to God in worship. And it doesn’t help when our mindset is often about how to minister to the people forgetting that in worship, we are supposed to lead people to minister to the Lord! The other glaring thing for me is the seemingly absence of songs about spiritual warfare. What happened to words like, “Making war in the heavenlies, tearing down principalities, standing firm in Jesus’ victory; making war in the heavenlies, tearing down every high thing, that exalts itself against the knowledge of Christ”, “Rise up, you people of power, stand up across the land, take up the Sword of the Spirit, pull down the enemy’s plans ….”, “Summon Your power O God, show us Your strength as You have done before!”, etc. All who are involved in leading worship ministries in church must not only think about polishing the skills of the musicians and singers, not only teach about having the right heart and attitude in leading worship, but also ensure that God’s people go away having had an intimate communion with the Lord that will result in real lifechange (not just providing a wonderful dose of high emotions) and receiving good, comprehensive understanding of God, His Word and our faith journey through careful selection of songs to sing. Many of us remember phrases from the songs we sing in church more than what the preacher said in his sermon! And the frequent recollection and singing of those phrases will eventually form our theology. How do we want people to leave church service feeling each Sunday? Feeling loved and comforted? That’s a good start. But what about also feeling strong and determined to fight the good fight, run the race and keep the faith? While I love to see people smile at the end of our service, I also love to see people looking intensely serious and radically focused on wanting to live it right and fight hard to win the spiritual battles that surround them.