Participants: Jason McCracken, Karen Thomas
Series Code: IAA
Program Code: IAA000067
00:31 Welcome to another edition of Issues and Answers
00:33 Hey, have you ever stayed home because you didn't feel welcome
00:37 at a particular church so you didn't go to that church.
00:40 Or have you felt like boy I really would like to go some
00:43 place where I could feel welcome What do they really mean to
00:46 worship God and why do I need to do it amongst other people?
00:50 Well today we're going to learn about what it means to worship
00:53 God in joyful fellowship from the word of God, the Bible.
00:57 Now our guest today is Pastor Jason McCracken. He is a youth
01:00 evangelist for the Review and Herald Publishing Association
01:05 as well as a marketing representative. He helps with
01:08 the Message magazine
01:09 publication and has traveled around the globe speaking to
01:12 young people and everyone else about what it means to worship
01:15 God in a joyful way. We're grateful to have you here today.
01:18 Welcome to the program. Thank you Karen.
01:21 Well I'm very happy to be here today and I would like to focus
01:25 my attention on Bible foundations for the mission of
01:28 the local church before we get into worshipping God in a spirit
01:33 of holiness. When we look at the local church it's called a
01:38 congregation and in that congregation we have to have a
01:43 mission. It's empowered by the Holy Spirit. But there are some
01:50 areas that the local church must focus upon. Number one: It's
01:54 entire focus must be on the gospel message of Jesus Christ.
02:01 Secondly, the mission to make disciples. Thirdly, the ministry
02:07 of every believer; every believer focusing on preaching
02:10 the word of God, preaching the gospel of Jesus to their
02:14 community and their friends and family members. The role of the
02:18 function of the Spirit of God in the local congregation.
02:22 The church as the body of Christ growth to maturity in Christ,
02:26 the headship of Jesus Christ and the role and function of pastors
02:31 and lay leaders alike. This encapsulates the Bible
02:35 foundation for the mission of the local church.
02:38 So this is what churches do?
02:39 This is what they do in order to get excited. And so today we're
02:44 going to talk about the area of worship. First of all, before we
02:48 even do that I would like to read from the Bible here a very
02:52 familiar passage of scripture and we're going to read from the
02:56 book of Psalms. OK. Psalm 100, a very familiar text of
03:03 scripture to many Christian friends and believers. Psalm 100
03:09 Make a joyful noise unto the Lord all ye lands. Serve the
03:15 Lord with gladness. Come before his presence with singing. Know
03:21 ye that the Lord, he is God. It is he that hath made us and not
03:28 we ourselves. We are his people and the sheep of his pasture.
03:34 Enter into his gates, that means the church, with
03:40 thanksgiving and into his courts with praise. Be thankful unto
03:46 him and bless his name, for the Lord is good. His mercy is
03:51 everlasting and his truth endureth to all generations.
03:55 That means your mother's generation, our past generation,
04:00 all the generations. But now verse 1 says make a joyful
04:05 noise unto the Lord. That is one of the essentials in a
04:10 congregation. What kind of joyful noise are we going to
04:14 make? Well of course, we're going to sing hymns, we're going
04:19 praise God, we're going to pray, but in all of this we must
04:23 Acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
04:29 That's the basic essential in worship...
04:34 When that happens in a Christian church people can
04:39 begin to feel the Spirit of Holiness in worship. Because
04:43 worship is adoration. Worship is praise. Worship is singing to
04:52 God. Worship is actually, in a group situation, a church
04:56 situation it makes everyone feel that they are one with God.
05:01 So I can't do that at home, huh? Watching television?
05:04 For the most part? Well watching television does
05:09 not have a spontaneous reaction. Everything is controlled on
05:14 television. If you're worshipping God and
05:17 you're singing hymns and there is a response in the
05:20 congregation, there's some songs we used to sing when we used to
05:23 go camping. You know, rejoice in the Lord always and again I say
05:26 rejoice. And then it goes around and around and around.
05:29 Yeah, you miss the round. You miss the round. Yeah.
05:31 So on television, how do you program that?
05:32 And then if you don't go to church you don't get to share
05:35 that hymnal with that person who just came to sit by you.
05:40 Right. Remember worship is about fellowship, it's not about
05:44 sitting home, it's about fellowship. Because when people
05:47 are having difficulties in their lives they come to church and
05:53 express what God has done for them in worship and they
05:56 acknowledge Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and they
06:00 also acknowledge him by being thankful for what God has done.
06:04 So that's the essential of worship. Worship of God in
06:09 joyful fellowship. So the times where a person goes
06:14 away to the mountains or goes out into nature, what about
06:19 those times? A person says OK I'm communicating with God in my
06:23 own way. Well we can communicate to God
06:27 because that's personal and we need to continue to communicate
06:32 to God, but as our communication grows, we must communicate to
06:37 others what God has done for us. It's interesting; let's say you
06:40 were driving a car and all of a sudden you had a car accident
06:44 and you're car flipped over three or four times and you
06:48 didn't even have a scratch. The car was crushed, everything, the
06:53 car was totaled but yet you were saved. Now would it be
06:58 adequate for you to go up in the rocks and mountains and tell the
07:02 trees that God has saved you, or in a relationship with people
07:06 in a church you would say look what the Lord has done for me.
07:11 And so you're encouragement now stimulates growth, it stimulates
07:17 joy. That's why it's based on fellowship.
07:20 And certainly it could encourage someone else to say I'm going
07:24 keep trying, maybe. That's right. That's the
07:26 community of believers.
07:28 I mean, I would like to hear that story if I was sitting in a
07:30 church. I've heard so many stories.
07:33 I remember I went to church one day. I was kind of sad, you know
07:36 and gloomy. We do have those ups and downs. Somebody gave a
07:42 testimony to just stir my soul. I was so excited. I said that's
07:47 why I should be in church because I want to hear what God
07:50 is doing for other people and at the same time what God's doing
07:56 for me. Amen. So that's the most important thing. Joyful noise, a
08:01 joyful noise. Number two:...
08:08 Now there are three things that we must emphasize: Praise him in
08:12 the worship services for number 1 his goodness, number 2 his
08:16 mercy, number 3 and blessings. So there are three things
08:21 Goodness: Have you ever heard somebody say God is good all the
08:27 time. Yeah, All the time God is good.
08:29 And so that's goodness. God helps us through many different
08:33 facets in our lives. He helps our family, our friends, our
08:37 health, our life, our breathing, our walking, our talking, our
08:42 sitting up, our sitting down. I mean he is there to provide for
08:46 us. That's why he's so good. He saves us. He protects us.
08:50 He leads us. He guides us. And without God we can do nothing.
08:54 I remember my grandmother used to sing the song without God I
08:58 can do nothing, without God I would fail. I would be like a
09:02 ship without a sail. I didn't understand the song. Now I do.
09:07 I can understand the song now because without God I'm like a
09:12 ship without a sail. I'm going nowhere. But with God, because
09:17 he is so good to us, he provides what we need, that spiritual
09:22 food, that spiritual food. And also physical food. Mental food
09:27 like a logical food. He helps us in every facet of our lives.
09:32 The mercy: This is very interesting. What is mercy?
09:37 What do you think mercy is?
09:39 Compassion when you know that someone's in a tight situation
09:44 and then you ought to help them out or maybe don't point out all
09:48 their faults. Mercy to me is like the last resort. I mean,
09:54 God is helping me in the time of a storm and I feel that the
09:59 storm is going to take control of me. The storm is going to
10:04 overwhelm me. I was in a tent and this violent storm ripped
10:08 through the woods. Lightening bolts were ripping through the
10:12 woods knocking down trees. We're in the tent at night.
10:16 We're like praying Oh God help us. Trees are falling. In fact,
10:21 we didn't know it was a tornado. We had no way of knowing it was
10:26 a tornado. But he impressed us to go in the valley and in the
10:30 valley that's where we were saved. When we came up from the
10:35 mountain the entire place was leveled.
10:37 So what did you do? Did you actually come out of the tent
10:39 then go or had you already encamped in the valley?
10:41 We were in the tent late at night sleeping and then all of a
10:44 sudden all of this was happening but the tent was rocking back
10:48 and forth. I had an igloo tent and so it was rocking back and
10:51 forth and now we're pleading with God. We're pleading for
10:54 mercy, we're pleading for mercy now, not just for protection
10:59 but for mercy because now our lives are in so much danger that
11:03 we could die at any moment. That's the mercy that we needed
11:07 to ask and we got it. I'm here today to testify of that. That's
11:11 that mercy. And so it's an extended help when we need it.
11:14 You know, I often think about a person maybe who is terminally
11:21 ill and they die. That in a way is mercy. I mean, I've seen many
11:27 people who've died of cancer or some illness and God gives them
11:33 mercy in that don't have pain those last few days. That's
11:36 mercy. Yes, that's mercy, that's mercy.
11:39 The other is blessings: Now with the goodness that we receive,
11:43 the mercy that we receive, the forgiveness that we receive here
11:47 comes the blessings, the blessings. Now blessings people-
11:52 As I travel around people say How you doing. I say I'm blessed
11:56 They say you're blessed? I say yeah I'm blessed. I'm blessed to
12:00 be alive. I'm blessed to be healthy. I'm blessed not to be
12:07 crippled. I'm blessed just to breath with lungs. There are
12:13 people who are breathing with one lung. I'm blessed just to be
12:19 alive. So those blessings are coming.
12:22 Everything we have really, if we look around, we can see a
12:26 blessing. We can see a blessing. Even when
12:32 you're down to your lowest level of spirituality sometimes here
12:37 comes a blessing. Yeah that's encouraging.
12:40 Someone said every trial's a stepping stone.
12:43 It's a stepping stone. Well the Bible says in James 1:3: Knowing
12:46 this that the trying of your faith worketh patience, or the
12:50 testing of your faith worketh patience. Sometimes a blessing
12:54 comes by teaching us patience.
12:56 Yeah, that does become a blessing especially if you did
12:59 not have it before then if you hadn't experienced that
13:02 situation. And if you have children, oh
13:04 yeah, you need patience. If you don't have patience and you have
13:09 children you need help. You need mercy. You need mercy. OK let's
13:14 go to number 3. Number 3 is to provide opportunity for penitent
13:21 and intercessory prayer.
13:22 And this is within the worship service at a church?
13:24 It is essential to have prayer. Prayer is communicating.
13:30 I taught my kids to pray like they talk to me but with more
13:36 respect. They must pray, not those formal prayers, you know
13:41 those formal prayers, Now I lay me down to sleep, all that stuff
13:47 That's not prayer. That's something that somebody can
13:51 quote. Prayer is speaking to God and he communicates to us
13:57 through his will, through his word. And so now as I pray I
14:02 need to stop and listen to God. In the worship service this is
14:06 very possible. While we're on our knees praying for somebody
14:10 to be healed. While we're on our knees praying for a young lady
14:14 who's in trouble. While we're on our knees even praying for our
14:18 pastor. While we're on our knees praying for spirituality. While
14:21 we're on our knees praying for help. Prayer is very much a
14:27 part of the worship service. And prayer inspires us to speak
14:33 freely and openly to God.
14:35 So now tell me, what is it about because we can pray at home,
14:39 what is it about the prayer when you're actually in a church
14:45 service amongst believers. What is it about that the joint
14:51 prayer that makes it so powerful?
14:52 It binds us, it binds us, it draws us closer, it keeps us
14:59 in a type of mood where we know that we are together. Have you
15:05 ever heard of that saying, let's see, my grandma used to say, the
15:11 family that prays together stays together. And so when you're in
15:17 a congregation and you're praying together and you're
15:20 holding hands you stay together because all of you now realize
15:25 that we're sinners and we have the same problems but we're
15:30 going to get through this together. That's the thing
15:33 about togetherness in prayer. We should pray alone of course
15:37 we should do that in our private time in the morning and the
15:41 evening before we go to bed. That's very important, but in a
15:45 congregational setting what makes worship so beautiful is
15:48 when we even go to the altar and get on our knees and pray.
15:51 It's like we're touching and agreeing. We're praying in a
15:54 community. And it makes us get that much
15:57 closer to God. When I did a week of prayer in a Canadian
16:02 University recently, very interesting. I asked the
16:07 students rather than praying into pews come up to the altar
16:11 and pray. The place was full of students, hundreds of students
16:15 would come up. And they said oooh we never experienced that
16:18 before. Why? Because sometimes we just have that simple prayer
16:22 and that's it but if you do congregational prayer, if you
16:26 kneel and pray, you hold hands and pray, you can stand in
16:31 prayer. Prayer is a time to reach out to God. The Bible
16:35 talks about prayer, pray without ceasing, in
16:38 I Thessalonians.
16:39 So it's like during the day with whatever we're doing, huh?
16:43 The prayer of a righteous, let me get this straight, the prayer
16:46 of a fervent, righteous man availeth much, something like
16:51 that. Hey, the bottom line is that it
16:52 avails much. It avails much. But I guess also the point is the
16:57 righteous person, in other words if we are standing before God
17:01 saying Lord here we are and we just want to have your
17:07 righteousness of Jesus. So it's an easy thing.
17:10 Speak to us Lord in that congregation. That's where we
17:16 connect with God. We connect. That's why I urge people, don't
17:21 sit home. Sitting home having church is not the best type of
17:27 worship service. Go to a local congregation, join with them,
17:32 touch with them, hug them. There are times we need to be hugged,
17:36 embraced, in prayer. There are people who are crying. Sometimes
17:40 we need to hug them and embrace them. And so they feel a sense
17:44 that God is with me because someone else is touching me
17:48 right now. You can't get that at home. You have to get it
17:53 in a joyful fellowship with worshipping God. Let's go to the
17:58 next one. Now this is what I like...
18:09 The Bible should never be used as a hammer even though it has a
18:13 black cover. You're Bible's not black. It's a different color.
18:18 It's a feminine burgundy. Yes it is. But we shouldn't use
18:21 the Bible as a hammer to beat people.
18:25 Yeah. No the Bible is not for that. Why would I want to do
18:28 that? Now the Bible says for the word
18:29 of God is quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword
18:34 piercing even to the dividing asunder of the soul. The Bible
18:40 has healing, healing properties. It heals a person. It counsels
18:46 the person. That's why it says in 2 Timothy 2:15: Study to show
18:50 thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be
18:55 ashamed, rightly dividing, rightly dividing the word of
18:59 truth. So when the word of God is proclaimed in the local
19:04 congregation, it's not to beat on the people. Now some people
19:08 would say, Cry aloud and spare not. Lift up thy voice like a
19:12 trumpet and show my people their sins. You can show people
19:16 sins in a redemptive way, not in a way that's going to hurt,
19:22 bruise or condemn. Jesus came not to this world to condemn
19:27 but to save it. And so in this part, proclaiming the word of
19:32 God in clear, compelling and redemptive way. That's a part of
19:37 worship. The word of God must be essential tool for effective
19:42 preaching in the local congregation and that
19:45 is a must. Without the preaching of the word... For faith cometh
19:51 by hearing and hearing by the word of God. That's essential.
19:55 I went to a church one time and they said, Oh, we just had a
19:59 video last week. And I said a video, you popped in a video.
20:03 And they said yes. And I said and there was a speaker? Yes.
20:07 Now was the sound system good of was it bad, because remember
20:11 there are people in the congregation who have problems
20:14 with hearing and so you have to make sure even if you pop a tape
20:17 in, make sure that the sound is clear, it's distinct, it feels
20:21 and moves so that people can understand what is being
20:24 preached. Let me give you an example. I went to a small
20:28 little congregation. In fact, it was the first Seventh-day
20:32 Adventist church, English- speaking church, in Canada.
20:36 It's in the Provence of Quebec in Canada. It's about two or
20:42 three hours from Montreal and it's near the United States
20:46 border so some pioneers came over to Quebec and started a
20:50 small English church. It was the first actually Seventh-day
20:54 Adventist church in Canada. Very small and because I have a
20:59 booming voice I was preaching very loud and after the sermon
21:03 this old man who had a problem of hearing, he had two hearing
21:07 aides, he said I want to speak to the pastor. He was blind. He
21:11 said I want to speak to the pastor. And I said, Oh, oh.
21:15 I know what's going to happen now. And so he said son sit down
21:20 And I said OK. And he said, you know what, that's the first time
21:24 I heard a sermon in 15 years. Oh my goodness.
21:31 He said Praise God, Praise God. I said well thank the Lord for
21:34 the encouragement. I thought you were going to condemn me. He
21:37 said, no, the problem is with this church here, they don't
21:41 preach loud enough. I said well praise God!
21:43 Well when we were living out in Sacramento there was an
21:46 individual I can think of in particular who did come to our
21:49 church because he could hear the sermon. So that is about meeting
21:54 people's needs in the congregation isn't it?
21:57 You can be a soft-spoken person but if you need a microphone and
22:01 some speakers to help you out, I think you ought to have it.
22:04 Some people feel that OK I can just speak and they'll hear me.
22:08 Not necessarily. You might find that a lot of people go to sleep
22:12 especially in a congregation. That's the compelling way.
22:17 That is compelling and it must have a sense of urgency.
22:20 The word of God must have a sense of urgency. If it's
22:23 preached in such a way, well everything's wonderful,
22:26 everything is good, everything is fine, I don't think people
22:31 are going to be convinced or convicted by just well
22:35 everything is good, everything is fine. It's like a newspaper.
22:38 You want to read the headlines for that day. It's like
22:41 listening to a news broadcast on television and they're stressing
22:46 something that happened that day and you're like glued to the
22:49 television set because you want to know what happened in your
22:53 community and the word of God has to be similar to that. You
22:56 must stress it, emphasize it, in such a way that people now
23:00 will say wow, man, that's what I need.
23:04 So even if you're not a preacher and you're not going
23:07 to be preaching the word of God in the pulpit, even in sharing
23:11 your faith you want to have some enthusiasm.
23:12 You have to generate enthusiasm.
23:14 Or genuineness; somehow be able to portray a genuine spirit.
23:18 Some people are very soft-spoken.
23:19 Yes they are. But I'm sure there is a way.
23:22 How would you like to go to a wedding and the minister says do
23:28 you take this you know woman and what have you and you get to the
23:32 point where you have to say I do and you'll say something like
23:37 Yeah, I do. Can you imagine if the word was preached that way?
23:42 Yeah, Jesus is OK. He's the savior of the world, believe on
23:47 him. Enthusiasm is very much a part of the gospel. Jesus
23:53 preached with enthusiasm. Now let's look at this. Jesus is
23:58 preaching to 5000 people. He didn't have a microphone, he
24:04 didn't have a sound system. But his voice was strong and
24:10 powerful. The people heard it. Now the Bible said there were
24:16 5000 but there were 5000 men plus children plus women. So I
24:21 can see a coliseum of 15,000 people or more and Jesus is
24:26 preaching to them on a mountain side, preaching with a strong
24:33 voice and they heard the voice of God. A booming voice. That's
24:39 good. Well let's move on to this one. Now this we have to take a
24:45 couple more minutes...
24:56 Now if I would change it around I would say, Express the
25:01 Christian message for those of you who are not Adventist, but
25:06 express a gospel message...
25:17 That was kind of going back to what you were saying about the
25:23 person who couldn't hear. The Bible must be relevant. It must
25:30 create a response. When somebody asks us to give money, would you
25:35 like them to say well just give, you know, as much as you can.
25:41 And the Lord will bless you. If it does not create a response
25:46 you won't have any money that day. I mean, an offering must be
25:51 given to God. There are special offerings at various times. But
25:56 now if there's a special offering, it must be in such a
25:59 way that it creates this response where people say, well
26:02 I'm going to give all that I can give. And the last one is...
26:11 It must be happy, bright, spiritual and essential
26:15 for worship. Now who fosters that? Is that
26:18 the preacher or are those the people who come to the church or
26:22 you know, who's fostering this?
26:24 The plan of the worship is the responsibility of the members
26:28 and the pastor themselves. So then they can create this
26:32 beautiful, joyful worship.
26:34 OK. So I really enjoy this study in worship of God and joyful
26:39 fellowship and for those of you at the beginning of the program
26:44 we mentioned that you would be able to learn some things if you
26:48 were looking for a church to go to or if you weren't satisfied
26:51 with the congregation where you have been attending. It sounds
26:55 like these are the elements for a very wonderful, joyful
27:01 experience in the Lord and the big part is that you can be a
27:06 part of it. Isn't that right?
27:07 Yes, definitely. Well if you'd like to know more
27:10 about today's topic, I encourage you to go to the 3ABN web site
27:14 www.3ABN.org and look up the name
27:19 Jason McCracken and the Review and Herald.
27:22 Yeah, it's on the Review and Herald web site.
27:25 You can send him an e-mail. Yes. Look up Message Magazine.
27:28 It's there. Oh, I think we have a copy of
27:33 Message Magazine don't we. I'll just show this very quickly
27:36 This is Message Magazine, so you can look for this particular
27:40 icon on the web site. And we certainly encourage anyone who
27:45 is looking for a church home, to look for the word of God and
27:49 find that place that will fill your need. God said he would
27:52 supply all of our needs. I attend church and I encourage
27:56 you to do the same. God bless you.