Raise the bar in worship

[notice]Hugh Wetmore is a songwriter and student of worship trends. He invites you to join the worship conversation by commenting on his monthly column.[/notice]

High-Jump Athletes are continually pushing themselves to achieve ‘higher’ standards of excellence. They do this by raising the bar, incrementally, and willing themselves to exceed the height they reached last time. That’s what Christians should be doing, says Hebrews 5:11-14. Changing the metaphor from Food to Athletics, God doesn’t want us to continue forever at the low level where jumping requires little effort — where we can do it in our sleep. No, God wants us to move on to Maturity, to raise the bar, and to achieve ever higher standards. “Mature Christians, by constant use, train themselves to distinguish good from evil” (v14). Have you learned to distinguish good lyrics from the bland and mediocre?

I was reminded of this when I listened to the Sunday morning Radio service on SAfm recently. For about 8 minutes they sang over and over simple words “We will give You glory”, with its variation “We will lift our voices”. The bar was set so low it required no effort to sing, nor to understand. Their minds and mouths cruised along in neutral. Everything in me screamed “Raise the bar!” Sing a song with worthwhile words that move us to Maturity … spiritual Maturity!

I googled these words, and on my screen appeared a long list of songs with these similar simple words. Few of them added any worthy substance. These song-writers “need someone to teach them the elementary truths of God’s word all over again” (v12). God has told us in both Old and New Testaments that He wants our songs to TEACH one another the “truths of God’s Word”. But instead, most of the songs we song each Sunday contain little Scriptural Teaching. They tend to sing the equivalent of “We will give you glory” over and over and over and over again. No-one will move forward into Spiritual Maturity with songs like these. Let’s raise the bar! Let’s make the effort to sing crafted Songs that TEACH one another the rich lessons of God’s Word.

God has told us in both Old and New Testaments that He wants our songs to TEACH one another the “truths of God’s Word”. Psalm 89 opens with these words: “I will sing of the LORD’s great love forever”. Then follow some serious teachings about * God’s faithfulness; * God’s covenant; * God’s uniqueness; * God’s majestic rule; * God’s
creative power; * God’s righteousness and justice; * God’s choice of King David; * God’s victory over His enemies; * God’s Fatherhood; * God’s judgment on human disobedience; * The brevity of our lives; and ends with a prayer that God will vindicate Himself and His people. So much Teaching in a Song! This Psalm is typical and raises the bar for all our contemporary songs. Biblical Songs lead on to Spiritual Maturity. When we sing such Songs we grow in our Christian experience.

God specifically tells us in the New Testament that we should sing songs to one another with the overt intention of causing “the Word of Christ to dwell in us”. Our songs of every musical genre should “teach and admonish one another” (Read Colossians 3:16). Such songs will raise the bar in our sung worship. Our congregational singing will fix God’s Word in our minds and hearts, forming us, directing us to Christian Maturity. That’s what God is longing for. 

Then we will “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ”. 

“Then we will be no longer infants … Instead, speaking (and singing!) the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ the Head.” (Ephesians 4:13-15).

Raise the bar as you worship in song!

1d  HIGHER REALMS OF PRAISES

Leaving behind the bland and common phrases,
words that repeat what we already know,
moving ahead to higher realms of praises
so we the greater glory of God show.

Praise God eternal, not confined to ages,         Rev 1:4
He is, and was and evermore shall be.
Our future is, for Him, as hist’ry’s pages,
revealed to us in Bible prophecy.                        Rev 1:1

Circling the throne is God the Holy Spirit,            Rev 1:4b
Perfect in Seven, omnipresent too.
His seven eyes have knowledge without limit,     Rev 5:6
He sees my secrets like none else can do.

Jesus Messiah is a faithful witness,                      Rev 1:5a
His resurrection pioneered the way,                     Rev 1:5b
He rules the rulers from the small to biggest,      Rev 1:5c
There are no higher words that we can say!

We leave behind the bland and common phrases,
we search for rich descriptions of our Lord,
raising the bar for all our songs of praises
so that with ALL our being He’s adored.

Words: Hugh G Wetmore © 2014 Revelation 1:1-5
Metre: 11.10.11.10
Tune: O Perfect Love (or create your own tune in your style of music

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