Sunday, July 16, 2017


For too many years, any expression of worship other than singing, such as clapping, raising hands, shouting to God and especially, wait for it.........Dancing, has been taboo in many churches, viewed by some as being too Charismatic or Pentecostal or something only "Holy Rollers" do. The Truth is that these are the normal Biblical expressions of worship for all Christians. Before we examine key texts that teach us to worship this way, let's think for a minute about why we worship.

I grew up in Missouri and I'm Baptist, which means that if you want me to believe something, you have to SHOW-ME. We live in a world full of people who are waiting for Christians to SHOW them what God is like and who He is. They need to see our Worship Expressed. We worship to proclaim God's goodness, to declare His power, to cry out for help, to thank Him for His mercy and blessings, to shout in acclamation, to tell what He has done and to teach others. Praise is how we SHOW the world what God is like. Worship is how we SHOW God our deep and heartfelt love and gratefulness. I agree with the definition that Worship is Love Expressed...and even more. Worship is Honor Expressed and Awe Expressed and Wonder and Joy and Repentance and Hope Expressed. 

One of the Hebrew words for praise is HALLELUJAH. Halal to Yahweh. Literally, it could be interpreted "Fool for God," or sometimes "to be clamorously foolish in praise." This does not mean to act silly and draw attention to oneself. It means that we are willing to be made to look foolish, so that God's name can be honored. We would rather be embarrassed and have our name mocked than to see God's name besmirched. His glory, His honor, His praise and His great name are more important than our own. Like John the Baptist realized, we must become less, so he can become more. We must humble ourselves because true worship is an act of humility. Jesus was sacrificed once for all. The only sacrifice that remains for us is to offer up the sacrifice of praise for what He has done.

Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. -Hebrews 13:15

Let's take a look at these 4, often neglected, Biblical Expressions of Worship:

We clap for everything from concerts to competitions to ceremonies. We clap to show enthusiasm and approval. We clap to give encouragement and support. Yet, we hesitate to do it in church sometimes. Isn't God more worthy than any worldly event, hero, or superstar idol? When we clap as part of our praise in church, we show enthusiasm for God, show support for the teaching in the music and show solidarity as we give encouragement to the body of Christ. Clapping in rhythm with the music is a normal part of worship expression. Applause is a Biblical way of honoring God and showing our hearty agreement and approval of the Gospel message being presented.

Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy! -Psalm 47:1

Two Hands raised up palm out is a universal sign of victory and also of surrender, how interesting. We don't hesitate to raise our hands after a touchdown or a trophy. Why not raise them to honor Jesus' victory over death, hell and the grave? Or to surrender to Him? We salute officers and those of high status. Why not salute the King of Kings with a raised hand? Reaching out a hand for help or reaching up in need are also well-recognized signs of dependence and humility. This is why we open hands, palm up, in surrender and submission as we lift our praises up to God, prepare to receive what He has for us and humbly offer ourselves to Him.

Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the LORD. -Psalm 134:2

Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger or dissension. -1 Timothy 2:8

Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry to You for help, When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary. -Psalm 28:2


I will never forget the first time I heard Scripture about Dancing being proudly proclaimed by the Right Reverend.....Ren McCormack, aka Kevin Bacon. If the movie Footloose is the only time we hear Bible verses about dancing as a form of celebration or worship, then we have a real problem. Biblical, Worshipful dance will look very different from secular dance. It won't be sensual, dirty, sexual, suggestive or offensive. What it will look like is the pure expression of unrestrained joy. Have you ever just jumped for joy, or couldn't keep your feet from moving with a driving beat or felt a surge of happiness thinking about how good God is that required a physical response? One example of the type of Biblical dancing I'm talking about is what one might see at a Messianic service, where the women dance traditional dances with tambourine in hand. It is pure celebratory dance designed to honor God. One of my favorite moments in worship was Christmas a few years ago, when the children at NRHBC came into the sanctuary skipping and leaping and dancing while carrying colorful streamers and singing. It was the highlight of the evening and yes, that is what Biblical dancing looks like. This is the type of dance we find in Scripture, though it does not have to be choreographed.

Psalm 150:1 begins by telling us to Praise the LORD in His sanctuary. It then provides us with an incredible variety of instruments, ways and reasons to worship Him including:
Praise Him with timbrel and dancing -Psalm 150:4

Other Examples Include:

Miriam the prophetess, Aaron's sister, took the timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dancing. And Miriam answered to them: “Sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously... -Exodus 15:20-21

David was dancing before the LORD with all his might, wearing a linen ephod (a priestly garment) So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting and with the sound of the horn. 2 Samuel 6:15

Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King! Let them praise His name with dancing; Let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and lyre. For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation. -Psalm 149:2-4

When I think about shouting God's praises, I picture the nation of Israel, gathered in Jerusalem, perhaps at a time of festival, around the temple, all shouting in unison, praising God with shouts of acclamation. I'm not sure if they always did that, but they were definitely meant to...and so are we. I would suggest we could do it like a call and response---not like a monotone responsive reading...but shouts of loud praise and declaration. Ezra 3:10-13 records the laying of the foundation to rebuild the temple. The priests would lead and the people would answer back: And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord, "For He is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel," and all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord......and the sound was heard far away.

Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; Break forth into joyous song and sing praises. -Psalm 98:4

Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous ones; shout for joy, all you upright in heart. -Psalm 32:11

My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to You; And my soul, which You have redeemed. -Psalm 71:23

You probably noticed how many of the verses above reference SINGING. What it all boils down to is this: We are meant to worship with passion. We Sing...and we clap. We sing...and we shout. We sing...and we dance. We Sing...and we lift our hands. The postures of worship are a topic unto themselves, but whether we stand, kneel, sit, bow or prostrate ourselves on our faces before God, the point is that we are meant to be passionate. We are meant to sing whole-heartedly and expressively.

The Hebrew word for the human body means to SHOW FORTH. The same word, used in a different way is the word for the Gospel, which also means to SHOW FORTH. We are meant to SHOW God what He means to us and to SHOW the world what God is like and who He is through our lives and through our Worship. We are a living demonstration, a sacrifice of praise. We need to humble ourselves and SHOW WORSHIP.

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