Victory Comes After Battle!
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I had the privilege of leading a Worship Renewal through Congregational Singing Weekend at Victory Baptist Church in Mount Juliet with dear brothers in Christ, Pastor Chuck Groover and Minister of Music, Jim Murray. It was a special joy for me to return to minister among this fellowship with whom I served as interim music minister during their early days as a church when they were still meeting in a high school auditorium. I could go on about my deep appreciation for these two leaders and others within the congregation who have a special place in my heart, not only due to shared ministry experience, but also because of their model servanthood spirit. Instead, I want to relate a condition within our Tennessee churches (common to most American evangelical churches) of which I was reminded this weekend. Let me offer a quick disclaimer that this is not an expose’ of Victory Baptist’s worship environment. To the contrary, some advancements through the weekend’s events along with an open spirit by many within this congregation are positive responses that may well point them toward renewal as well as serving as a model for others. Let me also disclaim any presupposition of what the Lord has done. This will be fleshed out and become observable over time.
What I would like to briefly address is the awareness of spiritual battle that surrounds any address of worship practice where genuine Christian worship is at steak. There is no way the Evil one wants to stand idly while we engage in actions that express our full allegiance toward, and offer our total living selves to the Triune God. This is an epic battle and as such, entices heightened spiritual activities. When worship renewal empowered by the Holy Spirit is the sole objective of believers’ prayer, leaders’ intentions, and a church’s hunger, the battle is destined to be fierce. I believe the fierce nature is one indicator that the battle is also genuine spiritual warfare. Of course the battle is not with flesh and blood, but rather powers and principalities, though often personified by prevalent attitudes usually rooted in some preferential understanding of right worship. Idolatry is often rooted in a hunger for someone to either be the one who is “right” about worship and its music, or their simple obsession with certain kinds of expressions, or experiences that some confuse with Divine presence. It is disturbing to think that any talk of spiritual renewal would not include focus on renewed worship.
Spiritual victory in biblical accounts is either taking place during acts of worship, precluded by worship, or celebrated by worship.