Friday, April 14, 2006

Worship...Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes

My son, Joshua, enjoys a book we read him with the song "Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes." In fact, at times he will spontaneously break out into movement at a TV commercial, song on the radio, or just for the fun of it. I'm afraid for the day that he begins dancing at church in front of everyone. Should I stop him? Nah. It's cute. Besides, he has better moves than either his mom or dad.

What is appropriate in worship when it comes to HOW we worship? Does the heavenly Father enjoy watching us dance for Him, similar to the enjoyment I get watching my son dance for us? How about clapping hands? Raising hands? Oh boy, now I'm getting controversial (for some).

When there is a wedding and the bridal march begins, what do people do without thinking twice? They stand in honor of the bride and groom on this special day. When a man asks a woman to marry him, he gets on his knee to propose to her. Why? Because he wants to show her that this is an important event and that she is being honored as someone very special. Dancing plays a part of our culture in that it expresses celebration, intimacy, and individuality. We clap with enthusiasm for everything that pleases us. Musicians will play their instruments for hours on end with no one listening. Speaking doesn't need to be mentioned at all.

Have you ever been to a ball game where the parents of the players were present? If so, you've experienced shouting at its best. Singing is done by the talented and untalented alike, and is often done in cars, showers, and on stage. In sporting events or competitions we see this quite often. Whenever a player scores a basket or touchdown the hands go up. It a natural response to an amazing task performed.

Let'’s pause and ask ourselves what we are doing during our worship times today. How do we worship? What are we able to do and still be reverent before the Lord? What is God's desire for our worship? Does God give us the right to pick and choose how we worship? Here are nine expressions of worship from the Psalms that stem from David's desire to worship the Lord wholeheartedly and without reservation.

It is important to keep in mind that these modes of worship took place thousands of years before 'the charismatic movement' that some believers are so afraid of. I'll agree, there are dangers in the charismatic movement..but shall we throw away biblical worship because it's associated with something that we are afraid of? Hmmm. Just food for thought.

Consider the following. Which ones are accepted in your church? Which ones do you feel comfortable doing? Which ones would you not be caught doing?! Why or why not?

Our Voice
1. Speaking - Psalm 34:1 says, "I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips."

2. Shouting - Psalm 27:6 says, "Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord."

3. Singing - Psalm 47:6 says, "Sing praises to God, sing praises to our King, sing praises."

Our Posture
1. Bowing - Psalm 95:6 says, "Come let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker."

2. Standing - Psalm 119:120 says, "My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of your laws."

3. Dancing - Psalm 149:3 says, "Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp."

Our Hands
1. Playing Instruments - Psalm 33:2, 3 says, "Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy."

2. Clapping - Psalm 47:1 says, "Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy."

3. Lifting Hands - Psalm 63:4 says, "I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands."

[Content taken from "Nine Ways to Worship" by Stephen M. Newman]

God h
elp me to express Your worthiness like David did. I don't want to be concerned about what others think of me as I worship You. I want You to be concerned with how I worship You. God, there are times I don't fully express how I love you because of what others think of me. Forgive me for putting others before You when it comes to how I worship You.


  1. Anonymous12:14 AM

    Great thoughts. We were watching an amateur x-mas musical from the UU Church the other day. There of course was some "dancing" in it, but it was all in good taste and I played an important creative role in expressing the culture of the time.

    Worship is an area we all probably need to investigate more. Especially if our thoughts are biblical or culturally motivated.

  2. Anonymous7:30 AM

    Great entry, Bryan! What is worship? In my opinion, it is a Spirit-led response to our recongition of a truth about God. This most certainly involves emotion. I believe that one of the keys to worship is the freedom to be creative in our Spirit-led response to God. Perhaps the thing that has most stifled our worship is that we have lost our awe of who God really is!