When I think back about the most profound moments in my life with God -- moments I knew God was near me and I knew God was directing my life. And I was confident that He was leading me, and he had a future for me, and that my life mattered. Those moments didn't come when I was reading some commentary. Those moments didn't come even when I was listening to a sermon. (Though I really believe in the power of a sermon to do that.) Those moments in my life didn't come when I was on a missions trip or in an act of service informed by a faith in Christ, though those things are super important to our life with God. When I think back to those moments most profound to me in my life, they have come during times of worship. And I'm not talking about like Romans 12 worship where, you know, all of life is worship. That's true. I'm talking about singing loud off key, passionately waiting for God in worship type of thing. And I don't really have a musical bone in my body. I can't clap on beats. Tyler today might ask the church to clap, and don't be around me because I will just throw you all off beat. I can't really sing, though I do remember one time when I was training to be a pastor, my pastor in Bakersfield believed that the preaching pastor must also lead worship. So he made me lead worship for a Sunday and it was traumatic. So much so that even when I walk out here during worship, I have this thing that happens to me. I'm like, "Oh my gosh, people are singing and I'm stepping out on stage." I was traumatized. Like, I had to get up there and I wouldn't have had a guitar or anything because I couldn't [play]. I wish I did because I would just act like I was playing. But I just stood there and was like "everyone, praise God," you know, that sort of thing. Anyway, moments of worship, though, have shaped me. Eugene Peterson [in his] commentary on Revelation defines what worship is. He says this is worship: "Worship is a meeting at the center so that our lives are centered in God and not lived eccentrically. We worship, so that we live in response to and from this center, the living God. Failure to worship consigns us to a life of spasms and jerks, at the mercy and every advertisement, every seduction and every siren. If there is no center, there is no circumference. People who do not worship are swept into a vast restlessness epidemic in the world with no steady direction and so no sustained purpose." Worship centers us. So we're not floating around like, "oh, I want this, I want that, I want this." It centers us so that it reorients us to ultimate reality. How does this work? Here's why I want to talk about singing for a little bit. Singing. When we say worship, why singing? Why is a lot of our gathering singing? Why is singing a part of worship? Recently, Chance the Rapper was being interviewed. Sorry. You knew that was coming. I'm sorry. Chance was being interviewed by Stephen Colbert. And Stephen Colbert was asking Chance about going to church. "Do you still go to church? Do you still go every week?" He said "Absolutely, I still go to church." And this is what Chance said. This is what he said about singing. I go to church and sing. He said, "singing is praying twice." That's good. Singing is praying twice. And what he meant by that was this: words have their own meaning, but the expression of your heart comes through the sound of music and ways the words by themselves cannot capture. This is why whenever I quote songs, they're like, "wow, I know that's a good song, whatever." But when you sing a song, it's completely different. Singing is praying twice because not only are you saying the words, which is a prayer in and of themselves, but singing them comes from a deeper place in you that actually prays again. But it prays through your emotion, through your desires, your longing. Say I quote that song, "then sings my soul, my savior God to thee, how great thou art." You're like, "oh, that's great words." But when you sing that song, you pray it in a different way. Not only are you saying it, but you're saying it, you're singing it. It's coming from the very insides of you, your desires, your longings like that.


Now you might be thinking, "well, what if I don't feel like worshiping?" I mean, there are many times when I walk in a church like I did not feel like singing. I do not feel like worshiping, I don't feel like kneeling, I don't feel like going to communion. I don't feel like raising my hands or whatever that means. I don't feel like it. What do you do then? This last week I was researching African-American spirituals. Historically, you might have known them as Negro spirituals. And the origin of gospel music is African-American spirituals. And I was watching a documentary on this, and Dr. James Norris, the professor of music at Howard University in D.C. and the director of the Howard Choir, was being interviewed in this documentary. And he was talking about how these songs, these spirituals, came out of struggle and the horrific pains of slavery. And he said this: "I look at them and I marvel. I marvel on how we got through all of this, how we got through it all. By what? Singing." I was watching. Then I paused. I did not expect him to say that. The power of song. He said, "How did we get through this?" I mean, you can name a million things. How did he describe how they got through it? How did they get through this, the most horrific part of American history? (Well, one of the most horrific parts of American history.) The power of song. The power of singing. This is the power of song. And the power of faith and song. It tells our hearts and our minds that there is a greater and more true reality than what we see and that what we are experiencing. This is what it does. And some of you guys might not understand this, but those of you who have gone through just the hardest struggle, the only thing you can do is sing of a greater reality that's coming. Like I think of the spiritual "Wade in the water." It's one of the most famous spirituals. "Wade in the water, children. Wade in the water." And the next line is because 'God's going to trouble the water." And so you're singing. That's you're like, we're going to wade in this lake. Like, we're going to wade in this mess that we're and we're going to wade in this world. We're going to be in it because one day God's going to trouble it. One day God's going to disrupt it. And that is our hope. And we sing about this.


This is such an important part of singing. Even when we don't feel like it. To sing with your voice, to sing loudly, to respond with your body. Not only is singing an important part of the reorientation that worship brings, but also the posture of worship is important. The [New Testament word for worship] comes from the Greek word proskuneo, and it's used 24 times in reference to worship. And this word literally means "to pay homage by kissing or kneeling." So the word worship in the New Testament is tied to a physical posture. It's not just tied to singing. It's tied to something we do with our bodies. When we worship God, we kiss (this is the word), we kiss God, or we bow to God. So worship has to do with our body. Amy Cuddy has this TEDx talk called "Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are." She talks about the power of the power pose. She says body language is actually the language. And when your body is doing certain things, it can actually inform your mind in your heart. That is true about you. So she says power pose before you walk into an interview is super important. Hold a power pose for like two minutes. Hold a pose and then go into your interview. And then it will actually do something physiologically to your body and your brain. It'll boost your confidence. Hold a smile for two minutes. Physical posture informs your mind in your heart. And I think this exact same thing is true of our physical posture when we worship. When we lift our hands, even when we don't feel like it, when we kneel, it informs us. It informs our mind and our brain. This is true. This is who God is and this is who I am. Worship like this is partnering with our bodies to speak prophetically the identity of our souls over us. We posture ourselves and we prophetically say, "I am God's. He rules the world. He's in charge of all of this. I am not. I am a child of God." It's like our bodies partner with us to speak prophetically. This is true about us. Now, don't don't hear me wrong. I'm not saying I want you to show up to church and [sing] when you don't feel like it and raise your hands when you don't feel like it. I'm not saying fake it until you make it. That's not what I'm not saying. You're like, "I want to be authentic. That's not authentic. I can't fake it right now." That's not what [I'm saying]. Faking it to make it is actually agreeing to be complicit in a lie. What this is is practice until you become. That was Tyler who wrote that, our worship guy. That's a direct quote. He's like, "dude, no, it's practice. You become it." And I'm like, "just write that down. I'll quote you. I promise." This is so true. You practice it, you become it, means that this is true of me and this is true of God. And I will practice it until my mind and my heart get in sync with ultimate reality. Because what I might be feeling might not be that true. It's just an emotion that'll come and go. We're all very emotional people. I am. What this is what's truer than the way I feel that God is worthy, even if it's like "God, I don't feel like worshiping right now. I don't want to be honest with you. I don't feel like doing this, but I will because you are worthy and you are ultimate reality."


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