How It Should Be

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Worship: Vision

How It Should Be

Fine-tuning the Inner Vision

When I conduct an orchestra, I have three different sound images in my head:

  • I have an idea of how the score should sound.
  • I am listening to how the musicians actually do sound, and,
  • dividing how it should be by how it is, I see the things I need to rehearse.

How joyful it is when the music I hear from my orchestra matches the music I hear in my head and the music I see on the score!

In the same way, each of us has an internal vision that guides our lives.  We may not be aware of this vision or how it was formed, but we judge things by it.  It shapes our expectations and our assessments of life.

If events turn an unexpected way, we compare those events to the inner vision of how it is supposed to be.  We mark that moment.

  • Is this an anomaly, a random, non-repeatable happening?
  • If those circumstances arise again with similar results we must consider the possibility that it was not an anomaly, but an expression of what should be.
  • We alter our inner vision to accommodate this new factor.

Education is an intentional adjustment of this inner vision.

Not content to simply respond to life like a billiard ball rebounding only to the sharp punch of the cue stick and the noisy knocks from others, we intentionally turn to a reliable source of truth, seeking a new understanding of life.

We turn to the Bible as our source of truth. We are voluntarily submitting our inner vision of how worship should be to the influence of biblical truth.

This is no small thing.

Each of us has an inner vision of how worship should be. Experience has shaped this vision in deep, structural, and substantive ways.  We passionately believe what we believe about worship.  We also recognize that experience is not the highest form of truth.  It is unsettling when we encounter biblical truth that contradicts our practice of worship. We are faced with a choice.

Will we adjust our inner vision?

Today’s viewers cannot imagine the early days of TV.

In ancient America, television entertainment was broadcast through the air, not by a cable in the ground or by a signal from space.  Each home had a strange aluminum tree on its rooftop. This was the antenna, reaching up to collect the TV signals sent from the towers of the nearby stations.  How primitive!  Some of the better ones had motorized rotors so the antenna could be pointed toward a particular tower.  The TV set itself had knobs one could twist to tune in the signal for a clearer picture. In these pioneer times, the viewer had to select a channel and then tune it in.  There was no remote control.  The viewer had to get up, go to the TV and make the adjustments, all for a black and white, snowy picture.

Aren’t we glad we live in the age of cable and satellite TV?

There is no remote control for the Scriptures.

Our appropriation of scripture is not an automatic, remote control, instant process.  Prayerfully, we read the Book.  We deliberately get up from our comfy couches and adjust our spiritual antenna toward a higher world.  We twist our internal controls until the picture inside of us clears and we can see—how it should be.

Worship Requires a Lifetime of Study

For the first twenty years of my biblical study of worship, the joy of how it should be was the engine of my life.  When I set my expectations and assessments of worship by His truth, I found the Lord to be faithful to the inner vision He gave me.

  • I saw that the Gates of Thanksgiving were real and that a congregation could give thanks and actually enter the presence of the Lord.
  • I also found the Courts of Praise to be real as a people called out of darkness could proclaim the excellence of the One who had rescued them.
  • I discovered that a worshiping life is The Office-place of the Lord, the place where Jesus does His Messianic work.
  • I realized that when we worship we really do come before The Throne of God where we find miracles, callings, healings, deliverances and all manner of blessings.
  • I understood that we are called to be one, whole, worshiping family, one generation declaring His works, His character, His goodness, His mercy to another.

For those twenty-plus years of study I joyfully taught about worship at every opportunity and I led worship several times each week.  Theory and practice merged into a constant stream of blessing as the internal vision materialized before me.  I wrote a book to express my inner vision.

Then, I entered a dark period.

I started to dwell on how it was, not how it should be.

Like the orchestra conductor on the rehearsal podium, I subtracted the faulty sound of how it was from the perfect sound of what it should be and started exposing the wrong notes.

  • I started writing and teaching about the problems, the unstable worship structures built on the shifting sands of the worship marketplace.
  • I was grieved by the shortfall.
  • It seemed to me an injustice for the people of God to be left with an earth-bound practice of worship springing from a song-driven spirituality at the cost of a Spirit-led one.

My grief poured out in my writing and my teaching and I became a hindrance to my own cause of worship renewal.

Who wants to see or hear or read a critic?

It wasn’t long until the Lord called me out of that darkness. My world blazed with light again as He showed me that joy in worship is essential—if we focus on how it should be instead of how it is.

Oh, we must see how it is.

  • We must boldly, even coldly, examine how we think and what we do based on the higher truth of the Scriptures.
  • But, the joy comes when we see how it should be! 
  • When we get up from our comfort zones and go to prayer, fine tuning our internal picture of how worship could be, strengthening joy floods our souls when we adjust, when we rotate our internal antenna toward heaven.

I want the joy of how it should be to fill these pages.

That joy is found in seeing how it should be in the face of how it is.  The promise is found in a practice of worship that is constantly being adjusted by a sharper vision inside.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2016 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

How It Should Be

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