The Kind of Worship God desires

I've posted recently about the shallow state of the Christian worship these days, and did a lot of posting about Beth Moore. That means that in the last week I've immersed in watching, listening, reading and attending events that are shallow in their worship (at best) and are blasphemous because of their casual approach to worship and the Holiness of a God we should fear (at worst). I needed a spiritual shower. So I listened this morning to John MacArthur's third part of the series called "The Kind of Worship God Desires." You can go here for a transcript or to download it. The first minute and a half is introduction and the last 4 minutes is an interview. The preaching itself is about 22 minutes. I urge you to take the time to listen/watch. You will be blessed. Then take a peek below as to the kind of  worship some engage in today. The contrast is startling. And that is the point.

After an April snowstorm, one Christian author wrote of intimacy with God through play. "I heard the voice of God speak to my heart: "Come and play." I love that He said "Come." Not "Go." "Come." That meant He was already there. I also love how I could tell by the sweet tone of His silent voice whispering to my spirit that He was smiling. You know, you can tell that kind of thing in the voices of those you really know."

He had a silent voice, but it whispered. Neat trick. More than that, the writer could detect the tone of voice from the silence: smiling. Even neater trick. Best of all, the writer was on such familiar terms with God that His tone of voice could be detected. If you know Him well enough, you can tell that kind of thing, la di da.

The story continued, "I built a snowman. I used grapes for eyes, and a half-moon shaped sesame snack for the mouth. I didn't make a nose. I have enough for the both of us. He's wearing my hat and scarf, and I rather hope he doesn't get them wet. I let him borrow them because I was coming back inside. I laughed with God. He laughed with me."

Wow, cool! God is really just an avuncular cheerleader who builds snowmen. He isn't really the HOLY God whose courts shake with praise and smoke billows out, He is just a guy who hangs out on a sunny day finding sesame snacks to use for snowmen mouth with women who need a break from work.

I love my God because He is Holy. I love Jesus, even thinking of the moment on the Mount of Transfiguration where He revealed His glory and the three apostles with Him fell down terrified. (Mt 17:1-9). I love to think of Him first and foremost this way because it is a continual reminder of our position. Sinner. Yes, mercifully we're forgiven. Yes, mercifully the sins are forgotten. But mercy was needed because of His holiness. See, we're back to the most important attribute of God. It was stated three times in the Isaiah 6:3 scene in heaven, and "The Hebrews usually expressed the superlative degree by the repetition of a word." This means it is a supreme attribute.

This is the Jesus we worship today:
"Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death." (Revelation 1:12-18)

Hallelujah! I prefer this Jesus to the snowman making one. Don't you? The snowman making God who laughs and plays seems too much like us and not enough like who He really is.

The pastor at Window to the Word wrote in the piece Coming Face to Face with God,

“I had a pastor who is a pastor of a pretty far-out kind of charismatic church. We were having lunch one day and he said, ‘I want to tell you something, I don't know how you'll deal with this,’ he said, ‘but sometimes when I'm shaving in the morning Jesus comes in the bathroom, puts His arm around me and talks to me.’ I said, ‘You mean Jesus, the real Jesus appears in a way you can see Him actual...’ ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘Do you believe that?’ I said, ‘No, I don't believe that. But what distresses me is I believe you believe that. I just have one question, do you keep shaving because if you keep shaving, my friend, it wasn't Jesus.’"

"What happens when a person comes face-to-face with God? Does he casually “keep shaving” and say something like, “So, what’s going, on Big Guy? Hey, high five!” Is that what happens when we come face-to-face with God? Or is what happens in Luke 5:8 more accurate? When Peter recognizes who Jesus is he says, “"Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!"

Blessed are those who are forgiven, who will be able to hear His voice without exploding! Who will be able to see Him as He is without falling dead! He is a holy and a merciful God, and it is Him to whom I cling.


  1. I love this. Thank you so much for posting this. God is so amazing.

  2. Part 1: Elizabeth, I understand that you are a very serious person. Do you laugh? Do you ever play? Do you ever shout for joy in God and Jesus Christ? Are you at all child-like? Does God give you joy?

    I don't know who the person is who went out and played with God in the snow - or maybe God went with them while he/she went out to play in the snow. I only know that Jesus told his disciples: Matt 18:2 He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3 And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

    and Matt 19:13 Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them.
    14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there."

    When we become Christians, God becomes our God and Father, and Jesus becomes not only our Lord and Savior, but our FRIEND. John 15:15 "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you."

  3. Part 2
    agree with you that church and worship are serious things and should not be taken lightly or as you wrote about the Beth Moore stuff. But we are only in worship services for short times during the week. I seriously doubt that Jesus, as fully God and fully Man here on earth never had fun, never laughed, never built sandcastles in the mud with his brothers and/or sisters or played games with the neighbors kids as he grew older or even as he traveled around the countryside with his disciples. He may have even built a snowman if it ever snowed that much while He was there in Israel. I can't imagine that he went around with a serious long face all the time. He had so much 'fun' that the Pharisees called him a drunkard: Luke 7: 31 “To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other:
    “‘We played the flute for you,
    and you did not dance;
    we sang a dirge,
    and you did not cry.’
    33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.”’ 35 But wisdom is proved right by all her children.” (As I write this, I am reminded of His miracle at the wedding in Cana which included some pretty fine wine he created for the guests when they were apparently already fairly "warm" and having a lot of fun.)

    Do these make him any less God? No! He enjoyed himself but did not sin in the process.

    My whole point in this is that we are called to be like children in relationship to their Father. Earthly fathers often play with their children. Laughing, thowing the ball, building a snowman, having tea parties. Friends, like Jesus is to us, mourn with us, laugh with us, rejoice with us and we are commanded as brothers and sisters in Christ to do the same: Romans 12:15 "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." Neither fathers nor true friends are always serious, stern and stiff with us.

    I lost a beloved dog about 13 years ago. As I sat on the back step, listening to her harsh breathing as she died, Jesus came and sat beside me, put his arm around me and "talked" to me in a still, quiet voice as I wept. It was not audible and no one saw him there. But I was as aware of his presence as I am of my husband in the other room right now. Did I hear a new revelation from God - NO! Was I comforted in my sorrows (much else was happening in our lives then) - YES. I have enjoyed a mountain view, praised my heavenly Father for it and felt His pleasure as I laughed with joy over his creation.

    Am I charismatic - NO, absolutely not. I am quite serious at church - very seldom ever raise my hands in prayer or during the songs - just a regular old stick in the mud, so to speak. But I ENJOY God - and I feel His pleasure in me.

    I pray that you will experience this in some small way as well.

    As the Preacher said, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: Ecclesiastes 3:1 "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: ....
    4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance," and so forth

    As God questioned Job:38:4 "Where were you ...
    7 while the morning stars sang together
    and all the angels[or Sons of God] SHOUTED FOR JOY?" (emphasis mine)

    Balance in our lives is needed! A time to rejoice and a time to mourn, a time to laugh and a time to cry. The proper action at the proper time in the proper place.

  4. Anonymous,

    Yes, I laugh. I do not consider God my play date.

  5. One last comment on this.
    Westminster Shorter Catechism, very first question and answer:

    Q. 1. What is the chief purpose for which man is made?

    A. The chief purpose for which man is made is to glorify God,[a] and to enjoy him for ever.[b]

    [a]. Psa 86:9; Isa 60:21; Rom 11:36; 1 Cor 6:20; 1 Cor 10:31; Rev 4:11
    [b]. Psa 16:5-11; Psa 144:15; Isa 12:2; Luk 2:10; Phil 4:4; Rev 21:3-4 is a good source, you can put your cursor over the Scripture reference and read it there if you want to do so.

  6. Anonymous,

    It is not that a Christian cannot, does not, or should not laugh, smile, or enjoy God's creation without praise. As Elizabeth said, however, God is not our play date. Though we rejoice in Him, we also approach Him with reverential fear, awe, and humility. He is the Creator of the universe, the Lord of all.

    As for your use of Scripture to support your point, I fear that a misunderstanding of the text and its context has caused confusion. Just because the text mentions "children" does not mean that Jesus wants to build snowmen with us and take us to the zoo. The illustration of children is representative of believers in that we are to be humble and solely dependent and trusting upon God.

    Is Jesus our "friend?" Absolutely. But not in the "BFF" definition of today. Do not forget the verse before the one you quoted. John 15:14 reads, "You are my friends if you do what I command you." Yes, we are to run to Him in prayer and to His Word first in all things. Yes, He is a tremendous comfort in times of grief and our greatest delight in times of joy. But let us not lose sight of His holiness, for it is His crowning attribute. As Elizabeth noted in her post, we see the angels cry out "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord..." in both Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4. This is the only attribute of God that is repeated in such a manner in Scripture...He is HOLY. This is His ultimate attribute. We ought not create for ourselves a "buddy" Jesus when we indeed have so great a God.


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