It makes me want to weep
THE BODY BUILDER
Worship is a high priority for my wife and me. We want to encounter God, not just to follow a menu of worship activities. Worship activities, whether they be music, prayer, testimony or whatever can be vehicles to worship but unless we personally encounter God during a worship service, we do not worship. Worship demands our personal interaction with God.
We may not see God with our physical eyes, but–if our God is indeed a living God–we can sense his presence. I don’t know how such a worship encounter affects you, but I often find myself dumbstruck (“gob-smacked” as the English would say), unable to speak or sing…overcome by awe. I also find myself weeping.
It was not always that way. I come from a generation that was strong on head knowledge but fearful of any sign of emotional involvement. In my youth, there were clearly two carefully designed meetings on a Sunday. (Three, if you count the afternoon praise meeting which was just that…an opportunity to share with God the developed talents that he had seeded in us. A chance for young and old alike to “dance for our Daddy” and enjoy that experience.)
The morning meeting was clearly a holiness meeting. The goal? Sanctification…the mystery of what was known as the “second blessing.” Then, at night, the Salvation meeting where we went out into the streets, gathered a crowd, led them back to the hall and invited them to join us. We saw miracles in that meeting. People coming drunk to the penitent form and standing up sober. People recommitting to Christ after long absences and becoming deeply involved in ministry.
They were all great meetings and the holiness meeting, especially, brought some exquisite moments when one sensed God was near. It is difficult to achieve the purposes of all three meetings in the one that many corps have these days, or the two similar ones, both designed more or less to satisfy the inhibitions or preferences of the saved. Difficult, perhaps, but not impossible.
So, at this phase of our lives, Beryl and I have searched for a worship experience where we can encounter God and sense his miraculous moving on a regular basis.
We found it at the ARC. With a worship leader who knows his task well…to lead worshipers into the presence of God and to make him, and him alone, the recipient of praise. With a congregation including many recovering alcoholics who participate 100% and who seem to know the Song Book and worship choruses at least as well as many (for want of a better word) traditional congregations…
With weekly recognition of victories over the pull of alcoholism as graduates receive certificates and testify to the power of God over addiction…with both birth and the ARC families supporting and celebrating the milestones. And sharing of the Word’s wisdom for the daily challenges faced. With invitation and spontaneous response of the men who know the source of the Power who gives them daily victory.
New Frontier has reported recently on Proposition 36-the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act. I hope that licensing and/or certification will not negatively impact our approach to recovery ministry. If anyone wants incontrovertible proof that God still works miracles, they should be invited to “come and see” for themselves the results of a Christ centered process. The ability of ARC corps to demonstrate such evidence of such divine power to skeptics is one that should not be neglected and, in my book, should be multiplied and maximized as an experience many churches (of all denominations) are not offering.
So…we are enjoying and being moved weekly by our worship.
It makes me want to weep!