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'Extravagant worship'... This phrase has stayed on my heart ever since my pastor stated it yesterday. I'm not sure why it was this particular phrase that caught my attention, but it did. If nothing else... it got my creative juices flowing. My desire to see these words on paper (or screen, as it may be), kept me awake throughout the night. My desire to understand the meaning of both of these words has been a bit time consuming, to say the least. My goal with this post is not to contradict my pastor's desire to see his congregation worship the Lord whole-heartily, but to simply give an opinion on what this phrase means to me.
I've searched the internet with this exact phrase, and found that it is a common phrase used to describe worship that is 'over the top'... more than necessary. Worship that is all encompassing... including the whole heart, not just the parts that have been 'prepared to worship'. This is actually what I, myself, envision when I think of 'extravagant worship'. Not leaving anything in question... laying it all out there for all to see. I picture arms raised, eyes closed, and a song that is so sweet it will melt your heart in an instant... I DO love that picture!!
What I have found in researching these words is something quite different. In fact, the Hebrew and Greek words for 'worship' mean 'to bow down in reverence'. Not quite the modern day form of worship, if you ask me. And the word 'extravagant'... it is defined as, "spending much more than is necessary or wise; wasteful. Excessively high. Exceeding the bounds of reason, as actions, demands, opinions, passions. Going beyond what is deserved or justifiable. Obsolete."
None of the definitions or synonyms for 'extravagant' are what I expected them to be. I envisioned 'extravagant worship' to be worship on a grand scale... The kind that moves the Holy Spirit into the place the worship is taking place. The kind of worship that allows the people to feel the thickness of His presence on their shoulders. The kind of worship that allows the Spirit of the Lord to fill every heart, of every believer. The kind of worship that leaves you knowing you have been touched by His presence. The kind of worship that leaves you feeling as though you have been changed.
Often, before worship begins at church, I will have a little chat with the Lord. I pray for the things I have listed above to come to pass, and then I say:
"Lord... I have come to this place to worship You. To give You praises in the highest... not for what you've done or will do; but for WHO YOU ARE. You have given me life abundant... a life not deserved... a life I am certainly not worthy of. My song cannot be sweet enough, nor loud enough. My hands cannot be raised high enough. My worship will not be perfect, and it will not be all you deserve... I only pray it is sufficient in YOUR eyes."
It's not that you worship God with extravagance. Or that you exceed what you think is necessary in the moment. It's that you worship the Lord whole-heartedly, with all you have. With no agenda for things desired... not having in mind healing, finances, relationships, or any other 'miracle needing' circumstances. The Lord requires US!!! He requires we are present in our worship... focused solely on Him!!
I had the honor of being present when our youth group led worship last night. It was a fabulous sight to see. Teenagers worshipping the Lord... It was fabulously extravagant!!!
I wrote the following article several years ago. Please take the time to read it: I pray it is a blessing to you!
As a parent, I can remember when my children learned to walk...they would take a few steps, then fall. Take a few steps, then fall. And then, when they finally got the hang of it, they would walk on tiptoes with hands stretched up reaching for me. Aw, just picture it...
I tell you that, to tell you this...
We had the honor of having Sole Desire Ministries come to our church and lead a praise and worship service. It was great! If you ever have the chance, you should invite them to your church! Anyway, during the service, we were asked to sit for the message, and then we would resume with praising God. When the message was over, one of the band members asked us all to worship God in any way we choose....sitting, standing, kneeling, whatever our preference was. I was still praying, and so I remained seated, as did much of the congregation (at that point). When I opened my eyes, I could see in my eye line one of the youth members of our church. She was in the process of standing to her feet with arms raised, and eyes closed. I'm not sure why I didn't go ahead and stand, but I just watched her. She was the first in the congregation to stand during this portion of the service. I noticed several things about her...she rose to her feet without looking around to see if anyone else was standing. Her head was faced forward in an up tilted manner, and she didn't seem to care, or even notice, for that matter, that she was to only one standing for a few seconds. As I continued to watch her, she rose up onto her tiptoes with hands extended up, open fisted, closed fisted, open fisted, closed fisted...sort of like a "come here, come here, get me, get me" motion from a child. I was amazed by her. At one point I could have sworn that I saw a glow around her....tears flowed down my cheeks, because this is what it's all about....Looking forward, not to the left or the right! Seeking God with all of your might--even begging, if need be! I was astounded by this young lady.....wouldn't it be great if we would all seek God with a child-like "get me, get me"?!!!? Just imagine how God would reveal himself if we would all do that!!
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So true...Heavenly Father, help me to worship extravagantly. Amen.