16 Sep 2012

Congregational Worship
  • Topic: CHRISTIAN LIVING, Church, COMMUNITY, Connect, Days, Drums, Fable, Form, God, Hear, Hymnal, Life, Loud, Music, Pastor, People, Power, President, Sing, Song, Word, WORSHIP


2 Timothy 3:4-5
Congregational Worship
Pastor Paul Choo
16 Sep 2012

What is congregational worship? How should we worship God in this day and age? Watch this sermon by Pastor Paul Choo to find out more.

Sermon Transcript

Father, thank You for this privilege to worship you together. We pray that at the end of this message today we will learn how to do this in a way that is even more pleasing to you. Bless the word today and prepare our hearts, we pray in Jesus’ name, amen. Please be seated. A couple of weeks ago, Pastor Jason preached on ‘Wow’ worship. We learned that worship is nothing more than the response we have, or the response to knowing God. We know God, whether through the word or through the amazing things about God. There is a ‘wow’ in us like, “Wow, is he really like that?”, “Wow, this is unbelievable.” And all those “wow’s” accumulated will finally have to come out as our praise to God. So I hope your life is full of “wow’s”. It's a “wow” life. I hope that as you read God's word, it is not like, “Okay, I'm just going to finish the chapter.”, but as we behold God in that word, there is that amazing truth that we see in God that just makes us want to express ourselves. I hope your life is full of “wows”, when you experience God in your daily life, as He guides you, as He protects you, and you know, in all those moments, and you just stand back and say, “Wow, this is amazing. God, you are amazing.”

Congregational Worship Now, today, I don't want to speak on the whole topic of worship. I just want to speak on one aspect of worship called congregational worship. Today, I want to deal with this more narrow area of worship, congregational worship. I want to deal with three aspects of it: (1) Worship congregation, worship, as it is, today. Alright, we call it “congregation worship - the present situation”, or using the word “wow”, it is “Wow Now”. What is the scene you expect to see in this age that we live in? Then I want to speak on, (2) “congregational worship - the problems”. You know, when we come to worship, often we don't actually worship God. We seem to have problems as we stand and the guy next to us sings a different way from us, the song leader leads in a way we don't like, or he chooses songs you don't like, we have problems. Very often we are not here to worship, but we are actually struggling with problems like, this guy I don't like or the style I don't like. And then the third part I like to deal with is the practice. All right. Having said all that, how should we worship God? Right? So I hope we can cover these three things.

1. Wow Now

And now today, let's start with worship. Now, what is it like now? What do we expect to see in this day and age? 2 Timothy, chapter three is a chapter about the last days and I believe with all my heart we are in the last part of the last days. So we would expect to see the things described in 2 Timothy chapter three. And I just think there's one verse, 2 Tim 3:4, to give you an idea of the kind of worship. This summarizes the kind of worship we are having today - men will be “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God”. When people go to worship, when people go to church this morning, thousands are going to church, what do you think their motivation is? We cannot see their hearts. But from the Bible, we can say the number that are lovers of God will probably be shrinking and the number that are lovers of pleasures are going to be a lot in these last days. That's what the Bible tells us. So people are going to church seeking pleasure. They love it. That's what they're seeking for. They go to church to be pleased. In simple words, they go to church for entertainment. I go to church, I want to hear the sound or songs I like, I want to hear the message I like, I want to be in the ambience I like. So is it any surprise to you today when you drive past some buildings and you ask yourself, “What is this new building? What is that? Is that a new entertainment complex? Is it the new Marina Bay Sands? What is it?” Oh, no, that's a church. Would it surprise you? It shouldn't. In the last days, that's what man are looking for. And you enter the church and wow, everything looks like, this is some amazing entertainment complex! A whole ambience. Everything is choreographed and everything is staged like, this is going to be a great entertainment. This is a day of entertainment! Don't be surprised. Even the way the pastor dresses, the way he combs his hair, the way he you know, he has his hair styled, everything is, it's all about entertainment. He's there to entertain and amuse you. Don't be surprised because people come to me and say, “Wow, I tell you what is happening in this world!” Has God lost control? No! God is in complete control. He saw these things happening thousands of years ago. Exactly as it is, it is unraveling before our eyes. They want to hear the Word of God. The people go to church to hear the Word of God.

Let's see what is in 2 Timothy, chapter four, verses two to four, in describing the last days. 2 Timothy chapter four, verses two to four, “Preach the word” - this is an encouragement to the preachers who are serious about God's work and who want to do God's work - “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine (the time has come); but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having eaching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” They will not endure sound doctrine. Isn't that exactly what it is? You know, our pastor has been going through the book of Romans, you guys are enduring it right? Some of you are about to surrender, right? Oh my goodness, he spends a whole week on one word, a whole message on one word. You know that will drive the crowd of today insane, I tell you that. They will come and say, “What nonsense is this?” A time has come when it's just a small group of people, a minority of people that want to hear sound doctrine. What do people want to hear? What does the Bible tell us? What are they after? Their own lust! What is the lust of this age? Money, money. Everybody's crazy about it. They want the prosperity gospel. What's new? Is that a surprise? They want to go to a place where they can have their lust fulfilled. Confirm. They will heap to themselves teachers. You know, supply and demand - it is kind of like a law. When there's the demand, the supply will come. There is a demand for such people to give them this kind of doctrines, this kind of false doctrines. There'll be plenty of teachers to provide it. You know when today people say, “Why are there so many ‘preachers’, inverted commas, who preach this false gospel?” You know why? Because a lot of people who want this false gospel, they will heap to themselves teachers. We will have a pile of such teachers. They won't be in shortage, folks. These are not the few. This will not be the errant boys of preaching. These will be the norm. The ears itch to hear doctrines that satisfy their lust. So what do we end up with? We end up with fables. A little verse quoted here, a little verse quoted there and the rest of time is story after story after story like a fable embellished and exaggerated just a little here and just a little there; about how this widow gave a few bucks and now she's, you know, she's got a new car, blah blah blah. Fable after fable, everyone loves those things. Are you surprised? You say, “Pastor, what's happening out there?” God wrote it down for us. The Bible is there so we're not confused, so we are set free and the truth will set us free from all this confusion and discouragement. “What's happening, Pastor? Why are these things happening to our church? Why is this happening to the churches around us? Why is happening to my colleagues?” No surprise. All right. So, when you see all these mega entertainment complexes, just say, “Thank God for the Word.” The Word of God is so true, always. So characteristic number one, alright, of “Wow Now”, when people go and worship now, what is the primary objective? Entertain me! I want to be pleased.

2 Tim 3:5

Right. Second characteristic of today's worship continues from the verse I just read earlier. 2 Tim 3:5 says, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” In these last days, are we going to see total nothing about God? Oh no, there'll be the forms of godliness, plenty of forms. There are more churches today than before. There are bigger churches today than before. There are more people going to church today. There are more Bibles printed, there are more Christian songs written than before and more money donated than before. All the forms, you can actually count them. It's like you can digitalize it - how many people are going to church, how many Bibles are printed, how many new songs are written, etc. etc., all the forms and the shells. But inside those forms of mega buildings, mega congregations, mega everything, is what? Powerlessness and emptiness. There is no power in it. Forms are easy to create, you know. I can change my form with a change of a shirt, change of a hairstyle. But you need the power of God to change your life. We can change our buildings. We can go from Novotel or wherever we are now to another hotel if there is a new deal we have there. But trying to change your lives, you need the power of God.

And then these people who are singing in all these mega congregations, singing Hallelujah, praising God, the power of God, and saying that God is powerful, amen, hallelujah and all that and then they know deep in their heart that in their own lives there is no change. It is still the same lust, after money, after sex, after all those things - there is no change. They are still impatient, still angry, still unforgiving. They know deep in their own hearts, with all the hallelujahs and praises, that nothing has really changed. Dysfunctional families, dysfunctional lives because there's no power. Now, what happens when there's no power but there's form? What happens? People will like to show there is power. What's the easiest way to show power? It is to ramp up the volume. The second thing about today's worship is that it is loud. You know if I don't have an argument with you, I know I got no content to talk. How do I try to win my argument? Shout. I have run out of reason with you; you know when the husband and wife quarrels, you know when we know when reason ends? When someone ramps up the volume. You know, how do people who say, “God is powerful, hallelujah!”, “God is this” and “God is that” and then deep in their lives they know nothing has really changed. How do they create the ‘form’ that God is still powerful? Ramp up the volume - it is simple is that! And so when you go to these places of worship today, the sound is unbearable. You know, it's so easy to ramp up volume nowadays? It's so easy. Electrify all your instruments. When I was young, if you told me that there will be an electric violin, I will say, “What, are you serious?” And I will be waiting for the electric flute, electric Piccolo, everything. There will be electric amplifiers everywhere. This kind of speaker is a joke. It's a joke. It should be from the floor stacked up to the ceiling. We need some power here, man. We need to show the world that we're shaking with God's power. We need this building to shake. And that's what you see - a form of power but not the real thing. Having a form but not the power. Turn on the amps, turn on the electricity that will give us the form of power. So today if we have to summarize what is the worship of the last days, there are two words. Number one, it has to entertain. Number two, it's loud. Okay, so I hope when you see and hear these things, don't be surprised. So many times people come back from visiting someone, “Aiyo, Pastor, it is so loud! I can't believe it's so loud.” Well, go back to your Bible. You know the reasons. It's unreasonably loud. I will put it that way. It is unbearably loud. Why? Make sense? Okay, so we know “wow now.”

Next question is, “Why is it that lives can’t be changed? Why is it that there's no transforming power? Why did they go to church in the first place?” I'm not generalizing, all right. There are good people everywhere. But why in the last days do most people go to church? To seek God? They are lovers of God? No, they are lovers of self! They went to church for what purpose? To get forgiveness of sins? No! It was to get fortunes and not forgiveness of sins. They didn't go to church to say, “Oh God, I know one day I'm going to die like everybody else. I know my sins are plenty. I know I can never pay for my sins. I cannot bribe God. I know God knows all my sins. They didn't go to church and say, ‘Oh, God, thank you for sending your son Jesus Christ to die for my sins.’ That's not even on the agenda. Agenda is “Wow, I heard my friend went there and his life was changed.” What do you mean by changes, his fortunes will change. And so I'm going now if you don't have God in your lives, you don't have power. To change your own life, you can change your forms. I changed my clothes every day. My heart only God can handle. If you don't have peace, you don't have rest in your heart, even emptiness in your heart, let me tell you, whatever dress you wear, whatever money you earn, whatever achievements you gain, never settle. You need to seek Christ. But then in the last days, that's not what people are looking for. They are not looking for peace. They're looking for prosperity. So there's no power in these churches.

2. Wow Row!

Alright, now let's go and see the next thing called “Wow Row!”. Alright, right now, there are riles taking place, unverbalized. Why did Jonathan Chong choose that song? It's too slow but for some it is too fast. Why do we stand so long? For some, “Yes, we should stand up when we sing God's word.” What songs? You know right now, there are a lot of riles. It is a rile ah, not row boat ah. A rile is something that takes place within two people who don't agree. Now when we talk about congregational music, we have to realize that we are very dangerous ground. Music is emotional - number one. Right? Once people get attached to a kind of music, it is very hard to talk logic to them. Second, music is subjective. When is loud too loud?. When is fast too fast? No government can legislate that. Right? You tell me Jesus is not the Son of God? I will take you on straightaway. He is the Son of God. These are the verses. You say that music is too loud? I got nothing to say. I'm dumbfounded already. So when we talk about congregational music, we are on a very very emotional and dangerous ground. So riles will take place because it's very hard even to mediate these riles. But let me tell you where the most common rile takes place, all right? It takes place within two groups of people - all here, all represented here. You, most of you, fall into one of these groups, right? This is - sorry this is not a very academic language, alright? The first group is called the “all okay” group - all music is okay. All right? The second group is called the “only one okay” group - my music is okay. The type I like is okay, other people's type is not okay. All right, so typically these are the two groups of people. Let's look at the “all okay” group. The “all okay” group of people are those who say all music is neutral, it's the lyrics and it is the words that matter. It doesn't matter what music you use. Now, I want to emphasize that the only people who say these things are Christians. You go to a restaurant owner and tell him, “Aiya all music is the same. Play any music.” He will say, “You mad ah? I will go bankrupt, you know.” Right, you go to a shop you say, “All music is the same thing. Any music just play.” You say, “Please ah, I know some music will make people buy more things and some music will make people go out of my shop very fast.” Right? Everybody knows music has a language. It's the language of the soul. It's the language of emotion. There's happy music, there is sad music, there is angry music, there's peaceful music, there's militant music, there's calm music, all kinds of things, sexy music, there's pure music - everybody knows that. But this group of “all is okay”, where all is okay is usually only found among Christians. It doesn't matter. “Pastor, just check the lyrics. I want to hear the tune.” No, the tune is okay - don’t bother with it. Check the lyrics - the lyrics are very good. Alright. So that is the “all okay” group.

The second group is “only one okay”. Now, I have to confess I am guilty of this for a large part of my ministry. Alright, I grew up in a ministry, which is highly conservative, very much influenced by certain Western conservative Christians. And I grew up in an environment where I was told that there was a certain kind of music called sacred music. You can only use that music in church. Generally, this music was written about 200 to 300 years ago, mostly in Europe, 99%. Right and preferably played on the organ with the legs and pedals that type, you know, not these modern keyboards. Those of you who are gospel lighters, older ones who remember, when we had no money, one of our first purchases - what did we buy? A very expensive organ. Right? It was one of the biggest items we bought. And my wife had to learn it, my son had to learn it. Everybody’s legs, three legs, four legs, because all other music was not acceptable. We all sang from one hymnal. Anybody who dared sing from another hymnal will be called by me. Anybody that didn't sing the way we sang was attacked. Alright, there are still some diehards here. All right, sorry about that. I indoctrinated you so well, you cannot be un-indoctrinated. That is my fault. Please forgive me. All right. But the point is, there are these two groups of people that are found in this church.

How did I get cured of this “only one okay” syndrome. You see, wherever I went in Asia, whether it was in the Philippines or Thailand, wherever, everywhere I went, they played the same music. Amazing Grace was sung in Cambodian, in Thai and everything, but the music was still amazing grace, the same tune. Right? Everywhere was Western tunes. And 10 years ago, God allowed me, just over 10 years ago, to go to China. Those were the early days of the openness of China. I went to China and I was teaching in a simple village church. I was involved, I was not teaching. I couldn't speak Chinese properly. It was probably slightly bigger than this stage. We're about maybe twice the size of this stage. We're about 150 Chinese Christians, all squashed together. It was winter and all with thick jackets so they're twice as big as they normally are. All squatting on tiny little stools, as big as that. And as we taught them, as my gang taught them, they furiously took notes for like, eight hours. If you stopped before your eight-hour period, they felt you really shortchanged them. It's like, “Wow, you got people of compromising, lazy Christians.” Right? But you know what changed my life? Their singing. You see, for the first time I heard Christians singing songs that wasn't Amazing Grace. It was nothing even remotely like Amazing Grace. They were singing the simplest songs. You see, you know why in those days there were no hymnals? See, when the police came, you can't run with your hymnal. Alright, you can’t eat your hymnal. So there were absolutely no sheets of paper. And because there were no sheets of paper, they had to memorize the songs. So obviously, they were very simple lyrics which what you and I will call largely choruses, right? Secondly, obviously, there was no organ. Police come and what do you do? Hide your organ? Right, there were no instruments of any form, everything was totally acapella. And every tune was strange to me because they had no idea of Western music. China had been closed for so long. And all the tunes sounded to me like cantopop. Because those were the music that was composed by these simple people. The only thoughts they heard was probably the radio and on the bus and all that. And probably at that time the influence was not Kpop, not Jpop, but it was Cantopop. Right? So I'm sitting down here and all these godly people are singing Cantopop. And I was like, should I stand up and tell them, “Eh please guys. This is God's house, don't fool around.” You know? Suddenly it occurred to me that God was accepting them. They were godly people praising God the only way they knew. It suddenly occurred to me that music develops out of cultures. A culture that couldn't make a hymnal had to write simple lyrics. A culture that didn't have complicated instruments had to write very simple tunes. And suddenly it occurred to me that hey, excuse me, God's taste is broader than mine. God's experiences are broader than mine. You know there are some religions that you have to pray in one direction or in one language. Thank God we as Christians can pray in any language. Some pray this way, some pray this way, and it is all acceptable to God. It depends! If you all like this guy today, when you guys were standing up to sing, this guy was sitting down. It's acceptable to God. It was not just one form. And it suddenly occurred to me that hey, God is so much wider than me, so much greater than me. At that point, I came back and did something so revolutionary in GLCC. I said that we can sing some songs outside the hymnal. Wow. Amazing. Those are revolutionary. We sang ‘As the deer panteth after the water brooks.” Wow, so compromising, Pastor. So that is my little journey. Some of you who journeyed with me, you are still only “one okay” - my humble apologies.

Alright, so today in the church there are often two groups of people. One when some song is sung, it is not what they think is right. It gets people. Why is he enjoying the song? Look at the song leader and we are not worshiping God. We're having quarrels in a very civil way, you see. Christians are civilized people. We don't go, “Eh, shut up.” or “Jonathan Chong, sit down!” We don't but in our hearts, we are not worshiping GOd. We're having riles. Isn't it sad? This is reality, folks. Because I get phone calls all the time, all the time. Right?

3. Wow How?

So where are we now? Application - What do we do? Right? So let's come to “wow how?”. Four things we must do, I believe, if we want to worship God in a way that pleases Him. All right. So four things.

1) Attract

Number one, worship should be attractive. I believe that. Some of you will say, “Well, worship is to God. Why do I care about whether people come in or not? Why do I care whether they like the music or not? It's just to God.” I would be a hypocrite to agree with you if you said that. You know, we run very complicated Easter plays and Christmas plays. Why do we do that? Why do we do that? To get people in, right? So they can hear the Gospel, right? Sometimes the plays are quite silly also, right? But we see, after all, so all out there, they need to hear the gospel, we have to find some way to connect with them. So they will come in, right. So we do a play and they come in and they have a chance to hear the gospel. Didn't Jesus do that? When Jesus had all these huge crowds around him in Galilee, why were they there? Were they all godly people who said, “Wow, I want to hear a good message today.”? Why were the majority of the crowd around Jesus? What was the reason? They were sick, right? They had a need. What did Jesus do? Jesus said, “Please la, you come for your sickness? Go see your doctor. I'm a preacher.” You know, he didn't do that. He healed them and cured them and more came. Was it wrong to attract huge crowds? No. But if you just attract huge crowds and then don't feed them with their true need, the gospel, the word of truth? That was the point of attracting them. Right, so Jesus attracted them. There's no question about it. He met needs. He knew what the age, at that age 2000 years ago, what was the prevailing need of the people. There were a lot of illness. There was a lot of demon possession. And people yearn to be cured. And that was their desire. They were seekers not of pleasure, they were seekers of a cure. And Jesus gave it to them. But he didn't leave them there. When they came, he didn't only cure them but they got the truth. So I believe with all my heart that we who are living in the age of entertainment should do what we can to draw people in. We can do it on Easter, we can do it on Christmas - two great occasions. Or we can do it every Sunday. Music is powerful. I was talking to, mentoring a young pastor and warning him about the dangers of music. And he said to me, “Pastor, music is a powerful tool to reach young people. I cannot give it up.” I said, “Do you think I'm not interested in reaching young people? I gave my life for it.” You think I don't know that music is a powerful tool? You think I'm sleeping in a cave? Of course it's a powerful tool! It's a very useful tool to draw young people. But be careful as you try to reach them, as you try to cross over and connect with this group of people, you might end up there, all right. You might cross over into their territory rather than crossing over to reach them and then bringing them in.

2) Appropriate

So my second ‘A’ is that worship needs to be appropriate. You see, I want to connect with young people. I want to connect with poor people. I want to connect with people of other races. I want to create people of other faiths. I want to connect. Music is a powerful tool. I agree. Music is a universal language. Why are we not using it? But as I try to connect to a young guy, I must not forget my purpose of connecting to him is to help connect him to God. It's not just I want to connect to him. Alright, so here we see that tension. When you try to connect to young people and try to connect them to God, you must have a bit of tension, right? I'm trying to reach this guy and trying to pull him there. Alright, so there's a kind of tension. Where do I overstep this line and drop this hand, so to speak, and just connect to the young and forget to bring them to God? When do I hold on to the hand of God so tight that I never reach these people? It's that kind of tension. And we need to ask God for that wisdom, on how to be appropriate.

Let me just give an analogy of what we should do, all right. I use the analogy of the President of Singapore, alright. Let's see. Let's see. This handsome young guy right here is the president of Singapore. And he, as a good president, wants to represent his country. He is the symbol of his country. And as a good president, he wants to reach his people. The people, all right. Tension ah. Let's say the advisor of the President is an “all is okay” man. He believes that as long as the word says it, it is okay. The media is not important. Music is not important. Alright? It's only the words. Alright, so he tells the president, “Hey president. You need to connect to the young people of Singapore. I think you need to dress like the young people. Let's start with babies, alright? You wear a diaper, okay? You want to reach people? Don't scare them, wear diapers and they also happy with you. But don't worry, on the diaper, you put ‘President’ because the media is not important. It is the words. And then, use the pacifier la okay? Because the whole room all pacifier. You put a pacifier there also, but gold one and put ‘President’. Then as you enter the nursery, you ride a tricycle.” So just imagine and just picture the President. All right, with a diaper that reads ‘President’, a pacifier that reads ‘President’ and a tricycle but the tricycle on the front of it has the word, ‘President’. And then he goes in. I tell you the kids will love him. Everybody will think he is a hilarious and wonderful person. He goes to PAP kindergarten or whatever kindergarten. “Wow this is the best President!” You know he is connected to the kids but has he connected them to what he is supposed to do? The dignity of the country? The unity of the country? The honor of our country? Excuse me, you want to connect? Yes but connect to what? Connect to them and then what? So that these little kids will know there is a president who represents the unity of our country and this is a great country. So if you do all that, you connect with them but you don't connect them to the role of a President. You see, the “all is okay” group believes that as long as the word is there, it is alright. Let's try to picture the president who is trying to reach all the Harley Davidson gangs, the rockers. Right so Mr. President, leather jacket la. Okay, get your Harley. Alright and then the next national day, boom!h He comes up on his Harley but on the Harley is ‘President’ and on his leather jacket, “Number one, President”. Is that appropriate? You connect but is that appropriate?

Now let's say the President's advisor was the “only one” group, only one is okay. “Mr. President, everywhere you go, you wear your tie and your suit. Wherever you go, you go beach, you wear a tie. You go barbecue, you wear a tie and suit. You go to the little children, you wear a tie and suit.” Is that right? I thank God that our president is wise enough to know that he has a dignity of office, he stands for something and he represents something but at the same time he finds appropriate means to reach the people. Can we do that to the church? By the grace of the Holy Spirit? By guidance, can we as a church still reflect that we are children of God and our God is a wonderful God, and a great God and a glorious God, and at the same time, we don't forget that there's a world out there that needs to know Him? Can we be appropriate? I believe we can. Ask and we shall receive this wisdom, alright? So I hope that this is something that you and I will pray for our church, our song leaders, to realize that we can attract people with good worship, we can bring them to hear God's word, and at the same time in our worship, we do not shame and confuse the name of God.

3) Attitude

Third point, it's about you. First two points were about the church or a song leader but this is about you. What's your attitude when you come to church? You live in an age of lovers of pleasure. We are all children of that age. We are all infected by it. Don't think we live in a bubble. I can tell you there are a lot of people here who come and come knowingly or unknowingly with this attitude - “I want to be pleased”. “Pastor, I don't like that song.” or “I don't like the way it was played.” or “I don't like the way this guy next to me was singing.”. “Pastor, you're the founding pastor of this church. Why didn't you stop it? Do you like it?” I said, “No, personally, I don't like it.” “Then why don't you stop it?” What's my answer? It's not about me. It's not about what I like. Every one of us, all of us have different tastes. Today, about a thousand people come to this church, this room and the next room. All of us have different tastes. Can all of us say we like every song and we like everything? I don't believe it. If we say that we'll be hypocrites. But it's not about us. It's not about what I like. The Bible says in Heb 13:15 about praises, “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” You know, in the Old Testament, they brought their sacrifices. It was a great inconvenience, great cost. They brought their sacrifices to worship that God. They didn't go to the temple to be entertained. They didn’t go to the temple to have themsleves pleased and have pleasure. They brought it as a sacrifice this morning. Have you brought your sacrifice of praise to God or did you come to this church and say, “I don't like this. Why did he do it this way? It doesn't suit me. It is not my taste. It is not what I like.” What's your attitude? So often I get it - “I don't like it done this way”, “I don't like it done that way.”, “Why do they do this way?”, and “Why does he choose this?”. You know, if you make yourself the center of life, if you want everyone to please you, you will be a miserable person. The best way to be miserable is to be self-centered. Because there are 6.5 billion people and they don't think like you and they don't have the same taste as you. If you want the whole world to do things your way, you will be disappointed 6 billion over times. I cannot think of a better formula for you to be miserable, whether in worship, or whether in your life, or whether in your home than to be self-centered. You will be so miserable.

JOY - Jesus, Others, You

You want to be happy? Put Jesus first, put others next, and put yourself last. That's where you get joy. Simple as that. Sometimes you say, “I feel so unhappy at work. I feel unhappy here. I feel unhappy everywhere.” It is because everything doesn't fit you! Let me tell you - you weren't born so the whole world will fit you. It was never God's promise that the world fit you. And you know we come to church because of the infection of the age. It is an infection. We are lovers of pleasure. We're self-centered. We want everything to suit me. It is not about God, it is about me. It's not about others, it is about me! You say, “Wow, yeah, people are like that.” But I think today we need to ask ourselves, “Am I like that?” Just by your statements about worship. You know, if you ask me, “Do I like every song that is sung today?” No. That's my answer straight away. “Do you like everything that Jonathan Chong sings?” I say, “No!” It can’t be because if I did it, I would do it in a different way. Do I get angry? Do I get frustrated? Well, many people do. For me, if there is a song I don't know, I don't sing it. I can look at the words. For a song I hardly know I sing softly. For a song I know well, I sing loudly. Right? Otherwise, I sing off-key. But the point is, it's not about me. I'm here to worship God. I need to encourage my brothers. I'm here to hopefully bring friends in to hear about God. What is your attitude? I go to China. Yesterday I was in Indonesia and everything was sung in Indonesian. I don't understand a word they're singing. Do I sit down and gripe? No, I thank God that there are people worshipping God. Maybe I don't like the song. He likes it? Praise God for that. I never raised my hand but if he raises his hand and his elbow gets in my way, praise God! He is worshiping God. It's fine. The Bible never says you can’t life your hands. I don't do it but if you want to do it, what's your problem? The Bible doesn’t stop it. Sometimes I go to church and the drums are so loud and I didn't go like, “Wow, it's so loud.” Do I get angry? Well, I get angry if it's against the Bible. Let me bring up the issue of drums, all right? You know, volume can go up very easily. You know in this church, up to this point, we have not allowed drums. Why? Are drums evil? Does the devil hide in the drum? Is that the devil’s instrument? No, not that I know of. The Bible never says anything about drums. Why is it we have not allowed drums thus far? I have several reasons. Reason number one, we live in the age of loud. And drums are very easy to ramp up the volume. You tell a violinist to play louder? It is not gonna be so easy. The flutist to blow harder? You can increase only like that only. But you tell a young drummer to bang hard? Whoa he can really whack and it is proportionately and directly related to his volume. Secondly, who plays drums usually? Old, frail ladies? Frankly, I have never seen a lady play drums. Why? Have you ever thought about it? You need energy! You need strength! Violin not so much - it is more finesse. Okay so here you have a young guy with the capacity to be loud, full of energy, full of strength. And you know typically, a violinist is very disciplined. To learn the violin takes a lot of discipline. Most instruments take a lot to learn. A drum takes less, I would say not say no but less. So you got a young guy full of energy with less discipline. You leave him there and say, “Go brother.” Which way do you think he will go in this day and age? You think so? I doubt it. So for me, till the day I find people understand what music is all about, drums are good. Rhythm is necessary. It is a part of music. It is a very integral part of music. No rhythm? It's not really music. Drums are percussion. You see, loud, is there anything wrong with loud? Psalm 150:5, look at a words there, “Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.” You know what the word ‘loud’ is? Crushing. Bang, bang. That's what it is, right? They didn't have drums in those days but they had cymbals. That was the loudest they could bang two pieces of steel together or brass or whatever and whack it with all their heart. Is it wrong? God said, “Do that man. Do that man, at the right time.” I'm sure the cymbalists in those days were not a few energetic guys or were hyperactive, right? They were probably people who were understanding that there is an appropriate way to worship God. So when I go to a place and there are drums or whatever, I don't say, “Oh my god, what am I here for? What's wrong with these people? I'm just going to worship them the best way I know how.” Alright, I hope that's your attitude. Otherwise, it will not be like this, worshipping God. All right? It will be like this right. Alright, so I hope that we will have a right attitude.

4) Attention

And lastly, in closing, “attention”, pay attention to this. You know, for today, the day and age is age of entertainment. And you know that people measure things by what are the common acceptable norms. You ask the average guy, “Why do you go to a church?” “I like it. It is very nice, very pleasing. It's very convenient. I like the music. I like the message.” What is that? Think carefully. It's a bit of entertainment in that, you know. I hope we come to this church because we can say, “Yes, I like the music. Yes, I like the preaching. But you know, I like this church, because I see God working in this church. I see lives being changed. I see lives of members being changed. I see lives that they touch through outreach to others being changed.” Now that should be the measure of why we come to this church. Because God's hand is on this church, because God is in this church. Be careful. If we're not careful, I'm afraid we will choose churches that please us. We are just lovers of pleasure. Sometimes we like it because oh, the sermons are very deep and I like deep things - even that is about me. Choose the church because you know that God is in this church and God is working. A church without God is not a church - it is a club. Choose your club because it's nice and because it's convenient. But choose a church because God is there. How do you know? Lives are being changed.


So I end with this - I hope this will be a church where lives are changed and where every Sunday we come with the right attitude in worshipping our God. I hope your life is one big “wow” everyday, not just when we are together but everyday. As you walk with the Lord, as you read of the Lord, it is just one series of “wow” after “wow”. What an amazing God! May God bless you may God bless GLCC.