Around the corner from our house is a church who, a couple years ago, was advertising to join them for service with good music, donuts and coffee, and Christ. I thought that was an odd order to place those in.

And so it was, when those bearing the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, that he sacrificed oxen and fatted sheep. 14 Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod. 15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet
(2 Samuel 6:13-15 NKJV)

So they took the bull which was given them, and they prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying, “O Baal, hear us!” But there was no voice; no one answered. Then they leaped about the altar which they had made.

27 And so it was, at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, “Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.” 28 So they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them. 29 And when midday was past, they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice. But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention
(1 Kings 18:26-29 NKJV)

I’ve battled with modern church worship for a couple years now. It started when I studying the effects of music on the brain. Not long after that study, I walked into a church who, in the middle of the singing, turned off the lights and turned on black lights with people dancing in white. They said it helps them worship. Not long later I attended a church to which you couldn’t really sing to the music because it was a rock concert; complete with the large stage lights and the works. I had already started to be troubled with what I was seeing, then I find out that music is a controlling factor in a church. You can grow a church and you can split a church over music. There was a recent article of how it’s become a common practice for churches to hire musical teams; even if they are not Christian.

It’s not uncommon to see comments made like, “join us for worship and experience the presence of God.” In talking about this subject with others, I hear phrases like, “the music helps put us in a place of worship” or “the worship helps bring the presence of the Spirit of God”. After the service, people grade the presence of God based on the feelings they received during the worship service.

Questions: Is God only present in worship; and only if the worship is perfect to OUR liking and desires (in tune singers, instruments cue’d perfectly, etc)? Do we really need to be put into a mood of worship to a God who gave Himself for us so we don’t have to die eternally? Is there any Bible verse that says the presence of God is known by the funny feelings we receive?

Now, I’m just being brutally honest here; but it’s about time someone calls this out on the carpet. The songs picked, the performers, and things that happen on stage are planned and purposed to bring feeling to the audience watching: whether they are thinking about it or not, those making these choices are involved in low level crowd control. On top of everything I already knew, I’ve recently just heard of a pastor who tells the “praise team” to raise their hands to help bring in the presence of the spirit of god: that’s crowd control, and no less. The fact is, it’s all a bunch of acts and rituals that are purposely set up to bring in the spirit of god - it’s exactly what we see from the Baal worshipers (aside from cutting ourselves).

In the passages listed, I included 2 Samuel 6:13-15 because David dancing before the Ark is used for their excuse in what they do. There is a difference in the two accounts - a difference that thunders.

David danced before the Ark, before God. David’s praise of God was a selfless praise: he didn’t do it to be seen and he didn’t do it trying to get anything from God - he did it because of God. He also didn’t do it in trying to bring the presence of God; even in the Old Testament time, David knew God is always there. While David had joy in praising God, he did not do so in order that he could feel better but for the glory of God and a sweet aroma to God.

Unfortunately, what we call worship today is typically for one or more of a number of reasons. Much of the shows are for attendance purposes. After that, it’s so we can get something. We want a fuzzy feeling with the chill bumps in order to think God is there. And, better yet, we want the other signs of God to show in our lives because of our worship.

A recent “praise service” I was at started with one song towards praise of God in which more than half the congregation was seated. The music leader then started stretching the hand of god out for needs and suddenly half of those seated started to stand and praise god for what he could give. Yes, I used little “g” god because, despite what they may think, they were not worshiping the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. As soon as we miss the fact that God is omnipresent, and He is where those who love and serve Him are gathered, and we start ritualistic motions and practices in trying to bring the presence of god and a manifestation of signs from god, we no longer are worshiping YHWH but rather Baal - in the very like manner which Scripture show’s us. Elijah mocked them for two reasons. Look at what he was saying. One reason was the obvious, their god is not real. The second reason is because they felt they needed to do all these special things for god to show while Elijah just said, “LORD, do this for your glory” and it happened. There is no need for black lights, stage lights, mighty performers, and the likes. There is only a need of a people who desire nothing more from God but to give praise, glory, and honor to God so that He will be glorified.

Let us part from these ways we are warned about and let us get back to a relationship with God. Let us praise HIM for what’s He’s done and stop praising with our hands out in what we can get.
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