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Oct 15

Restoring Broken Worship

restoringbrokenby Steven Curtis Chapman

“Group hug, group hug!”  It was a typical Monday morning, and as the resident “Tigger” in our family (as my clan has labeled me), I was wearing the cheerleader hat and using my shepherd’s crook to get our three oldest children off to school.  Peering through slits where there should be eyes, the boys offered little more than a grunt-like groan in response to my hearty “Good Morning!”

Emily appeared particularly tired, and she wasn’t in any mood for her brothers’ half-speed, half-hearted movements in the direction of her Beetle.  On most days, Emily is as non-temperamental as teenagers come.  But that morning, her frustration was about to boil over with her brothers.  Being the oldest, she inherited the joy of driving the three of them to school every day.  “We’re going to be late!  You guys hurry up!”

It proved to be one of those important moments when, as a dad, I got a glimpse of my own heart as I watched my daughter wrestle with the intrusive, irritating, and exasperating three or four hours we call “Monday morning”–a weekly event that has taken on cliche’ status in our culture.  The problem for believers is that the Monday morning immediately follows Sunday.  We mark Sundays as “the Lord’s Day,” setting it aside to begin a new week by loving and worshiping God together as the people of God.  Yet, given our spiritual realignment on Sundays, you’d think that “Monday morning” wouldn’t show up until at least about Wednesday afternoon or at a breakfast on Thursday!

Emily’s brief jaunt from the adoration of Sunday to the agitation of Monday was a visible parable of how sin has broken God’s worship, and just how broken we are as his worshipers.  Let me hasten to say, I don’t know anyone who loves to worship God more than Emily.  I love to watch my daughter giver herself so freely to the worship of Jesus.  And that’s what made this particular morning vignette so telling.  I saw me, and all of us, in Emily’s “moment.”

Of all our six children, she is the most zealous for the newest worship CDs by worship leaders like Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman.  Emily loves attending Passion gatherings.  She has helped multiply and mature the worship experiences at her high school.  And on Sunday mornings at our church and Sunday evenings at the gatherings of Teen Community Bible Study in our barn, Emily is a hand-raising, soul-engaging worshiper of Jesus.

All these images ran through my heart as I ran to the car, just as the three of them were filling Emily’s car with their bodies and less-than-chummy attitudes.  “Wait a minute, guys.  Before you leave, I need to say something.  Emily, this morning, this Monday morning, you’re feeling tired and grumpy…I understand both…but everything about your brothers from the way they chew their cereal, to the kind of clothes they are wearing right now seems to be getting under your skin and bugging you.  And boys, you haven’t exactly endeared yourselves to your sister.

“But this moment, this Monday-morning moment, is designed for worship just as much as any other moment of the week.  I’m not asking you guys to crank up one of your favorite worship CDs right now.  And Emily, it definitely doesn’t mean you’re supposed to lift your hands in praise, off the steering wheel, as you drive your brothers to school!  But we’re called to worship Jesus in everything we do–including how we love Him on Monday mornings, when we don’t get enough sleep, don’t get homework finished, don’t feel like a group hug, or whatever.

“The worship music Jesus longs to hear this morning in this VW will come from you guys loving and respecting each other.  The most important worship any of us ever gives Jesus is when we are least aware of it, when we’re simply serving Him and one another in the dailiness of life.  Now get going, and have a great day.  And don’t forget, I do love you.”

I walked away from that moment thankful for my kids and convicted about the state of worship in my own heart and in our generation of contemporary worshipers.  In my concerts of recent years, the crowds are more responsive than ever to the portions of the night we set aside for worship singing.  It’s awesone to see people of all ages and backgrounds so united and engaged when we sing to the Lord.  And yet, I’m increasingly concerned about the disparity between lifting our hands in worship and folding our hands when it comes time to serve the Lord when the need for worship servants is most pronounced.

About the time Emily, Caleb and Will Franklin were pulling up to their school, I had already started writing down these words: This is a moment made for worshiping, because this is a moment I’m alive.  This is a moment I was made to sing, a moment of living sacrifice.  For every moment that we live and breathe, this is a moment made for worshiping.

If we’re sitting in a classroom or a boardroom, standing in an operating room or on a stage, cooking at the grill, sweeping the floor, changing a diaper…wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, it’s to be done as an act of worship.  We’re to offer up ourselves in that moment as a living sacrifice because of God’s great mercy for us in Jesus.

I’ve never longed so much for the day when we will only, and always, give Jesus the unbroken worship He deserves and delights in.  That’s why I feel that this chapter, and the next one, may be the most important ones in our book.  Please read with care, and join us in reflecting on our most eternal, joyful, and consuming calling–the worship of the living God.

(C) 2005 Steven Curtis Chapman and Scotty Smith.  Adapted from the book Restoring Broken Things.  Published at by permission of Integrity Publishers.

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