By Jeff Fenske
You may have heard this analogy:
First, their was LIFE magazine.
And now we have SELF magazine.
No, it didn’t start with HIM magazine, but this shows a trend in America towards self-centeredness — and this is what has happened to worship in the church.
Isn’t worship blessing God, glorifying Him, magnifying God, the Father and Jesus: “You are worthy; You are holy; We magnify You” — not us?
For the years of my early Christian life, starting in the mid-70s, this was what I saw worship as being. And direct-to-God “You are Worthy” worship songs was what I found worked in Bible school in the early ’80s and other places I led worship.
By ‘worked,’ I mean, when we worshiped God, He was blessed and we were filled with the Holy Spirit in a tangible way. We could feel it.
This wasn’t working as well in the main congregation, which is another story — another factor. God honors people who worship in Spirit and in truth. There was a holiness and a hunger in the students and faculty in Bible school that wasn’t as prevalent in the entire church body, including some of the leaders, unfortunately. Still, the songs sung weren’t “bless me, Lord” songs.
Then came the Vineyard Movement, which I actually have mostly positive feelings about. I appreciated John Wimber’s research into early church history, and his teachings about “Doing the stuff,” doing what Jesus did. He read the Gospels in a whole new way, to find out how Jesus did it. We’re supposed to walk as He walked, right? During this time, I wrote, A Call to Intimacy: The Holy Spirit in John’s Gospel & Epistles. The Bible clearly shows that Jesus was led by the Spirit just as we are to. Jesus was our example that we should follow in His steps. We are even to forgive as He forgave! “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” People are demonized. Our warfare is not against flesh and blood, Paul said. But that’s another subject.
I was also greatly impressed by the Vineyard worship music, before the music died (in the early ’90s). So many great worship songs came from that movement. And I don’t understand why these aren’t still standards. Even at IHOP, rarely do they sing these great songs.
But along with the gold, I saw this tendency start in which this “Holy Spirit, come” theme started appearing, along with the “Bless me, Lord” songs.
What I’ve found is that when we bless God, He blesses us automatically: ~”Draw near to Me and I’ll draw near to you.” James 4:
…it says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Be subject therefore to God. But resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament, mourn, and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will exalt you.
Isn’t this how we’re supposed to be filled? It is biblical to be filled with the Spirit. “Don’t be drunk with wine, but be filled with the Holy Spirit.” We should be filled 24/7. It’s a Godly thing to want to be filled, to be soaring in God, experientially. But where does it say we are to tell Him to fill us. “Fill us, Lord!” I hear over and over at the IHOP revival [which I mostly also love very much]. And they sing: “Send your rain.” Do this for us, Lord. We tell You what to do; who is Lord here?
I get so tired of watching the worship during the IHOPU Student Revival, waiting for a worship song that we can all worship God with.
About a week ago, I thought Ryan Kondo was going to lead the group into pure worship, the way he had just done in the IHOP prayer room, [Screenshots] Ryan Kondo MAXIMUM Worship! The Way I Always Want To LIVE!. He started in the same way, singing the same pure-worship song. But then a singer who is normally not on his team hijacked the song into “fill us, Lord,” and I think it ruined what could have and probably should have happened.
Granted, the people weren’t totally there, ready to worship. There is far too much willful sin that is a salvation issue; though, people are taught it isn’t, even at IHOP. Many were mostly interested in receiving. But that is where worship leaders need to really lead. Real worship leaders go, and then the others follow. It’s easy to go with the flow, staying distant, where people are comfortable, playing “bless me, Lord” songs, or songs about us and God.
And what happened to the intimate ballads from the Vineyard era, like “Isn’t He.” John Wimber wrote that. Why don’t we keep what worked and discard what isn’t really biblical and doesn’t really bless God?
I would like to discard the “bless me” songs. Not long ago, they weren’t even sung at all, in my experience, anyway. Keith Green shows that the concept was there, though, in this song from his album, No Compromise, 1978.
Asleep in the Light
“Oh bless me Lord, bless me Lord,
You know it’s all I ever hear.
No one aches, no one hurts,
No one even sheds one tear.
But He cries, He weeps, He bleeds,
And He cares for your needs.
And you just lay back
And keep soaking it in.”
I don’t have any problems with people going to meetings where God is moving in order to get filled with the Spirit. I attended 33 of the 36 meetings that Rodney Howard-Browne held in Anchorage, Alaska. I was touched greatly. I also went to the Toronto blessing twice. If I lived in Kansas, I’d go to some of the IHOP meetings. But this isn’t the revival that is meant to be, yet.
I don’t see any calls for people to get right with those they’ve hurt, which was the hallmark of the Asbury Revival: Asbury Revival, 1970: “Dr. Kinlaw, I am a liar. Now what do I do?”
And Shelley [a leader at IHOP] got a dream about how Jonathan Edwards is a key to the Third Great Awakening coming, but the IHOP leaders almost totally ignore his theme: Sinners in the hands of a God Who doesn’t have a joyful heart about the state of the church, today. The fact is that most ‘Christians’ aren’t right with God enough to go to heaven: Who-Goes-To-Heaven Scriptures — Narrow is the Way, but this doesn’t fit our “we’re saved no matter what” and “God loves us no matter what” theology, that really is from the pit of hell, and is really the number one reason that we’re not seeing full-fledged revival. And it’s the number one reason why people (even most church leaders) aren’t comfortable singing real-worship songs, like I’ve been seeing Jaye Thomas do on the few occasions he’s led in the IHOP prayer room, recently. I would love to see him be allowed to lead worship during an awakening meeting. And I’m hoping that he’ll have the guts to worship no matter what, just like he’s been doing in the prayer room: [Screenshots] IHOP Real-Worship Leader: Jaye Thomas!!!
Where did the “bless me, Lord,” “fill us, Lord” trend actually originate? I think it mainly came from the Vineyard movement.
It’s buried in a box, somewhere, so I can’t quote the reference, but I read in a book that I bought in the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship book store something like this. Apparently, John Wimber taught that they found a prayer in the early church fathers writings, which I think was something like “Come, Holy Spirit” [If anyone knows the exact prayer quote, I’m interested.], and this is mainly what they based the “fill us, Lord” concept on.
I’m very thankful for what God is doing at IHOP. And I greatly appreciate what Mike Bickle and Wes Hall have done to create this great atmosphere in which God is definitely moving. But this is just a drop in the bucket, as Wes so often states. He talks about the River flowing.
Well, what is keeping The River from flowing? I think it’s unbiblical doctrine about who goes to heaven. That’s number one. And that is part of why attendees don’t want to directly worship God in their hearts.
But reverse-worship is also a great problem. And I see it wasting so much time, which we really don’t have right now.
May we get our doctrines right, including what worship really is.
“He is the potter; we are the clay.” He doesn’t obey us; we obey Him. Who is Lord? Worship is about Him, not about us.
We need a vision of how great He really is, how holy He really is. Jaye Thomas recently sung:
There is One seated on the throne, He is God,
seated on the throne, and He is holy.
“We join with the four living creatures.
We sing the song that the angels sing.
We want to know what they know.
We want to see what they see when they cry holy, holy, holy!“
We sing holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.
We sing holy, holy, holy is the Lamb!
Reverse-Christianity is taking us down. But real Christianity can take us up where we belong — soaring in Him — right with one another — pure and clean — in fear and awe and in love with Him.
We can be ONE with Him when we are ONE with each other, Jesus prayed in John 17. “Then the world will know.”
This “bless me, Lord” stuff….
Let’s worship Him alone. Paul talked about how we’d worship the creation instead of the Creator. This is happening in America, big-time! Look at the emphasis on the human body. Romans 1 isn’t just about homosexuality. It’s not even mainly about homosexuality. It’s about worshiping the creation instead of the Creator. This is our sin.
“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Draw near to Him and He’ll draw near to you.”
It’s guaranteed. He will fill us when we worship Him in Spirit and in truth. We don’t have to ask Him to — or tell Him to [God is so amazingly patient in putting up with all of this, I think. I don’t even hear a ‘please’]. He will just do it. It’s as sure as gravity.
Power to the peaceful.
Which reminds me: when are evangelical Christians going to publicly repent for supporting the reverse-Christian wars? Our hands have to be clean, you all.
“What are we waiting for,” I believe I just heard.