Today on Insight for Living.
May lose interest and never come back. We publish the biblical precedents, so our expression of worship springs from our theological convictions rather than slick marketing trends. With a message originally presented on Father's Day, Chuck Swindoll titled his message, Worship, A Commitment, Not a War, Part 2.
I believe it would be an appropriate thing for us simply to bow our heads, close our eyes. Meaningful worship is such a rarity in our day. We want to take advantage of every opportunity we have to just sit before the Lord and acknowledge not only His presence, but His right to rule over us, to have first place in everything. His will is not just some casual off-the-cuff thought, but it is a plan that is best for us, including the very things you're going through right now.
The very tests you're enduring is all part of His plan. And His word is not simply black print on white pages. It's what guides us into all truth as the Spirit ignites these words and brings them home to our heart. Listen to the reading of Romans 11, 33 through 12, too.
Just listen. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?
Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to Him again? For from Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Fathers, will you please stand for a continued time in prayer? We would be the first to confess, our Father, that there isn't a superman among us. We don't even have any supernatural power in ourselves. We have a lot of passion, but we have no innate power to pull it off. Left to ourselves, our role as a Father would be somewhere between miserable and a total failure. Our lives would be marked by brutality, an absence of compassion, selfishness, conceit, a drive to get our own way, manipulation, unfaithfulness. Our thoughts would be continually wayward, and our ways would never bring glory to your name. That's who we are. But we stand together today, together acknowledging that without you, we are nothing. Therefore, your presence is absolutely essential.
Thank you for it. Some who stand today look upon their homes with disappointment and regret. Life is often like that. We have such understanding by looking back. Oh, that we had known then what we know now.
But we didn't, and the result breaks our hearts. So help us, Father, find relief and release from the guilt. Remind us that it's never too late to start doing what is right. I remember also some Fathers who were in the process of rearing small children. The demands on their lives are many, and often they are pulled between what must be and what might be.
And the tyranny of the urgent wins the day more often than not. I pray that you would calm them today with a reminder that you're able in every situation to help them. May they lean on you, and may they learn from you, and may they be for you a spokesperson to their family. Some are estranged from their wives and the mother of their children. I pray that you would bring what only you can bring, and that is a renewed hope.
I pray that you would cause there to be healing and forgiveness, recovery. Some today rejoice. Their children are healthy and alive and well.
Their wives love them, and they know a joy in their home like they never knew in their original home. And we rejoice with those who rejoice. For all of us, I pray, our Father, that we might be the men you would have us be. Today we recommit ourselves to that. May we be the kind of fathers we long for in our lives, and the kind of grandfathers that so many of us had. May we be for our families living reminders of Christ in the flesh. That's a tall order, and without you we couldn't do that.
But with you all things are possible. So do that work in our hearts, Father, I pray. We lift our praise to you as we have already. We declare all hail the power of Jesus' name. All hail that name of Jesus as we give our gifts. All hail the name of Jesus as we live our lives. May your name be exalted in this time of offering, in the name of Jesus, I pray. And everyone said, Amen. This is Insight for Living.
For resources designed to help you dig deeper into today's topic, go to insight.org. And now let's continue Chuck Swindoll's message titled, Worship, a Commitment, Not a War, Part 2. A war is raging and it's taking a terrible toll. It's not a war fought with bombs and bullets and laser-guided missiles.
It's much more subtle than that. It's not a war confined to any one area where opposing forces are in battle over a large landmass or a body of water. It's a war that began sometime back in the 1980s. It intensified as the 1990s arrived.
It seemed to reach its zenith around the turn of the century. And whoever wasn't aware of it was out of touch with the church. There wasn't bloodshed, you understand, but there were casualties. No one was being killed, not literally, but there were many wounded, more confused. And some simply went missing in action. Disillusioned, disrupted, displaced. Those who went missing in action decided that maybe church isn't all that it was cracked up to be, if that's what it amounts to today. So they drifted off. Some of them to this day haven't returned. The war was too severe for them. The war I'm referring to is a war over worship.
Isn't that amazing? Isn't it strange that the oxymoronic words would be placed together? Worship wars?
Never meant to be. The aggressors who promote the war have no sympathy for or patience with those who resist it. Some of you have been caught in the crossfire. And after getting weary of the fight in the place where you for years had once enjoyed worship, you found yourself no longer able to understand that place of ministry. You determined you would find a church that wasn't divided by the war, a place that upholds worship as a commitment, not as something to fight about. It was back in 1998 God led me in a vision that he gave in a number of different weeks, even months of time, to meet with a body of people who didn't want to fight. Though some were veterans of it, still licking their wounds after it, they longed for a place where there could be meaningful worship. Still relevant, interesting teaching, important instruction, all from the Bible, but not yielding to the trend of our times.
And you found your place at Stonebriar Community Church. I'm going to speak plainly here, and I'm not going to concern myself with anyone else's opinion at this point. It's been my observation as I study the war that much of it is fueled by man-centered schemes and flesh-driven promotion. Secular methods are now used to market the church of all things. And the emphasis has turned from sound Orthodox theology to a feel-good philosophy, where the great goal is to offend no one, certainly no one off the street, or after all, they may lose interest and never come back. So we must adapt and adjust our whole frame of thinking to appealing to them for they are, after all, seekers.
Those who stand firmly in favor of the war kick historical tradition in the teeth. And they label long-standing principles that can be found in the scriptures as woefully irrelevant, out of date, and if you still embrace them, you are known to them as a dinosaur. Everything seems to be determined in those churches as an appeal to the felt needs of casual observers, so that whatever you do, keep up the entertainment.
I had a friend tell me following one of our boarding worship services that in a church he once attended, he finally decided he couldn't continue because for several Sundays, the pastor repelled from the ceiling down the wall of the church and showed up almost as a sideshow tactic. And I realized, he said, it's a game of one-upmanship where depth is not of concern, only the superficial, in-depth instruction, solid biblical exposition from the scriptures. There's no place for it. Now there are little six to eight minute sermonettes, which in my opinion are for Christianettes.
And as a result, you grow about that deeply, about two inches deep and about 12 miles wide. I remember talking with pastors who were enamored of that, and by the way, some are seeing the light. One of the better known of the churches that promoted this have rather recently, those people have recently said we were wrong.
We were wrong. We thought what we were doing would build people into worshipers and we realized it was not happening. And we need to return to the teaching of the scriptures. So praise God for that.
I thought of this at nine o'clock last night as I was redoing my entire introduction. That happens to preachers on occasion. I thought if it were possible for the great preachers and the gifted composers and the strong teachers of theology of the 18th and 19th and early part of the 20th century to return to the earth today and to visit most churches, they would find themselves somewhere between personally embarrassed and absolutely shocked.
They would say to themselves, if they stayed through the whole service, that was worship? Please do not get the false impression that we are the only ones left like Elijah felt when he was sitting under the juniper tree. That's not true. But our ranks are thinner.
Our numbers are smaller. You're in a very unique house of worship. You know that, don't you? You deliberately drive by some of you, dozens of others, to come to this little place where you have found freedom from the war and the presence of serious biblical exposition because you want your children taught.
You want your teenagers instructed, encouraged, and deepened. No, I'm not saying that our goal is to bore people with hours and hours of nothing but dry, theological information. As I've said for most of my ministry, if I'm boring you, please leave. And I mean that.
The worst sin I can commit in public is to bore people with the gospel. But I have said to these men who've believed in these eight-minute sermonettes, I've said, you know, Stonebriar people will sit for 40 minutes and sometimes 45 minutes. Some of you are thinking, 50 minutes sometimes. I'm not saying they're awake, but I'm saying they're there and they seem to be listening. He said, how can you do that today? I said, why would you not do that today? Cynthia and I sat and watched an interview on television recently, just as many of you did. I was quiet as I listened to this very sincere young preacher telling the interviewer his philosophy of ministry, if you could call it that, where thousands are coming, thousands are coming.
And I had three words when it was all over. That is heresy. He doesn't mean it to be heresy. Of course not.
But it is. You don't need to carry a Bible. It's all on the screen. You don't need a hymnal.
It's all on the screen. And you don't need a hymn because that's dinosaur talk. And you certainly don't need a pipe organ that went out with Bach. What an ignorant statement to make.
Don't ever make that statement in public. I often ask these fellows, why don't you want it to look like a church? Well, people are turned off by the church.
I said, of course they are. The wrong kind of church. But does it have to become a theater? You have to get rid of the pulpit and sell the instruments and wind up with nothing but a few ditties? Is that worship?
I'm not making this up, folks. I take a trip with our interns virtually every year, and on one of those journeys, we visited churches, all of which were pastored by Dallas Seminary graduates, I might add. All of which are engaged in worship wars. Some of them, the toll has been taken. And their seats are filled with just the young.
So I ask a few just sort of straight questions, and I didn't do it to be ugly. What's your, what are your demographics here? Well, we don't have many old people. I said, what's old? He said, well, I guess we'd say 40 and over. I'm sorry.
So I said, and you would have thought he had never given this question at moments thought. Where are they? Well, they've left.
Where are they? I don't know. Does that bother you as a pastor? Isn't it the church?
Isn't it for the body? Now, you don't want a church of all old folks, but do you want a church with no older folks? I don't want my life absent from older folks.
I don't want my life absent from younger folks. Do you? He couldn't talk. He put his arm around me as we were leaving, and he said, I want to thank you for asking some hard questions. I said, you know what?
Called his name. I'm not trying to be ugly or cantankerous. Well, I got a few years on you, man. Don't keep going here.
You're going to regret it. And your people aren't going to grow. Can you find any place in the scriptures to justify what you're doing? He said, no.
Then why on earth are you doing it? My desire in addressing the subject of worship certainly included messages like this in my plan. I think it's time that we announce, openly and without reluctance, that Stonebriar Community Church is a church for our times. But it is not a church caught up in the trends, nor by the grace of God will we ever be. It is a church I hope that will be marked by balance, always been our goal from the start. I even attempt to balance Old Testament and New Testament in my instruction.
I hope to balance doctrine with practical application in my messages. But it will always be from the Bible. And it will never be to show off or to call attention to me or for any musician to call attention to herself or himself. We do not play and sing or preach for any man's glory. It is all for the glory of our God. It's a part of our philosophy of worship. And worship has to do with the magnification of our great God, which means I'm not important in the process.
I'm not significant in the act. I bow before Him who is supreme. And I acknowledge in the bowing that I am not. Nor is my way important nor are my words more valuable than anyone else's words. My words take on significance only when they are filtered through the inerrant text of the Holy Scriptures. Worship is a declaration of His supreme majesty. Worship is losing ourselves in wonder and love and praise, as Wesley once put it. It is being so preoccupied with our God that nothing on this earth gains a significant place in our thinking.
Our trials become reduced. The discoveries of life become exciting. And the changes that God brings without explaining His reasons only hold us to Him closer.
And we discover there's a dimension of life that is supernatural and unseen, and the invisibility of it adds to the invincibility of it. And we sit in His magnificent presence from one week to the next and from one class to the next, thanking Him for His precious Word that lives and abides forever and will never be irrelevant and doesn't need a preacher to make it relevant. The job of the preacher is to show you how relevant it is. There's much more that Chuck Swindoll wants to say about today's topic, so please stay with us for the remainder of the week. You're listening to Insight for Living, and this is message number five in Chuck's nine-part series called The Church Awakening. To learn more about Chuck Swindoll and this ministry, visit us online at insightworld.org. In addition to hearing these programs, remember that every single sermon in this series is paired with an interactive study tool that Chuck calls Searching the Scriptures.
It's interactive because you can jot down your personal notes online or print out the PDF for safekeeping. It's designed to help you truly engage with the Bible and its application. Take a look and discover how to learn more about The Church Awakening by going to insight.org slash studies. In recent days, most of us have heard the desperate cries that are prevalent in Ukraine and surrounding regions. You'll be encouraged to hear that our regional offices in Poland and Romania have worked tirelessly to care for the needs of the refugees that are pouring into their cities. Our office in the United States, along with our other international offices, are allocating funds as able to our Polish and Romanian offices to help ease what physical suffering we can and to help offer spiritual comfort in the love and power of Christ. And these ministries are made possible in part when you give a much-appreciated donation to Insight for Living. It's all under the umbrella of Vision 195, our mission to make disciples in all 195 countries of the world. To give a gift today, call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888 or give online at insight.org slash donate. I'm Bill Meyer, inviting you to join us again tomorrow when Chuck Swindoll describes how to de-escalate the worship wars on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Worship, a Commitment, not a War, Part 2, was copyrighted in 2008, 2010 and 2022 and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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