by Tamsyn Teppler
Shofar HQ Music Coordinator
Shofar Institute is currently in the process of revising the First Year Bible School modules. So we asked some of our contributors to share a bit about the modules they are working on.
One of the first year modules being revised is Praise & Worship 101 – a module I am particularly excited about. I had had many plans during university, but worship was not one of them. There had been no intention, nor desire, to be at all involved in worship ministry. But through His gentle but frequent prompting, God led me first into the Praise Team in Stellenbosch, then into a unique worship internship, and finally into a job with positions in Shofar Institute and, recently, as HQ Music coordinator. Very little in life has caused me to wrestle with God as much as involvement in worship has. But its special fusion of the arts, people, and the Word, has allowed me to pursue the things I believe God has placed in my heart. Next to worship, one of these things is a passion to see the Word properly handled, truly loved, and wholly pursued. To then be involved as a contributor to a Bible School module, in which my loves for His Word and His worship are united, is an immense privilege.
Subsequently, the revised module is an amalgamation of two essential components: a theology of worship and a practical view of worship. It’s not only important to understand how to worship and what it looks like, but to thoroughly know why and, most importantly, Who we worship. Due to our humanity, we will all inevitably worship something. And while that aspect of our makeup can so easily be perceived as pure weakness, depravity, or something to avoid, it’s important to remember that that very capacity to worship is first and foremost God-given. In His goodness and with all of His perfect knowledge, He still saw fit to gift us with this capacity. When I was a first year Bible School student, I was incredibly scared of worship, but this module was empowering for me. Worship, for many of us, can so easily be a place where the enemy attempts to thwart this gift and to steal from us – whether it be our authority, our confidence, our hope, our legitimacy, or our treasured positions as sons and daughters. Our aim and heart for the module, therefore, is to equip students with a right understanding, with a godly confidence to worship and serve Him creatively, with a Scriptural foundation, and with the tools to not only grow personally in this area, but also to disciple and encourage others.
My own relationship with worship began as a young teenager while reading the story of Job. I was in awe of Job’s response to suffering and pain. Job 1:20-21 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” The Lord took and yet He was still worthy. I got stuck on that passage for weeks. But then I began to see this same phenomenon reoccur throughout Scripture. From the ruins of Jerusalem in Lamentations to the throne room in Revelation, worship was always the proper and right response (Lamentations 3:19-24; Revelation 4:1-11, 5:1-14, 7:9-12). What is worship that it could be counted as a proper response to suffering and joy alike? How worthy was this God to whom even the dying poured out their praise?
Something that has driven us during this process is a challenging exposition of John 4’s woman at the well given us by Pastor Hennie Swart during School of Worship. This woman was a Samaritan, a group of people considered to be inferior by the Jewish people because of their ‘incomplete’ understanding and belief in God and His Word. With this view in mind, we, too, are prone to look down upon the Samaritan – a people who did not believe the Word in its totality. This is unconscionable to us. This is wrong to us. And yet, are we so different to the Samaritans? Are we not guilty of not having read our Bibles from start to finish? Are we not guilty of doings and thoughts that are contrary to Scripture? Are we then not also guilty of not receiving the Word in its totality? In many ways we are, in fact, just like the Samaritans. It is this that spurs me on to understand and to teach what Biblical worship is. It is this that causes me to pursue being that which God so clearly says He desires: worshippers in Spirit and in truth.
According to Scripture in its totality then, if all things are from Him, through Him and for Him (see Romans 11:36), can there ever be a time we do not owe God worship? Referring to 1 Corinthians 10:31, A.W Tozer once said: “Paul’s exhortation to ‘do all to the glory of God’ is more than pious idealism. It is an integral part of the sacred revelation and is to be accepted as the very Word of Truth. It opens before us the possibility of making every act of our lives contribute to the glory of God. Lest we should be too timid to include everything, Paul mentions specifically eating and drinking. This humble privilege we share with the beasts that perish. If these lowly animal acts can be so performed as to honor God, then it becomes difficult to conceive of one that cannot.” If there is no area of life in which worship is not due, if there is no time at which God is unworthy, and if God’s desire for worshippers in Spirit and in truth has been made clear to us, is it not then of extreme importance to know about worship?
As Dr Corné Bekker once asked us, what is communion if not just dinner made scared? Fragrant and anointing oils if not cultural processes in Bible times made sacred? These are ordinary things, integral parts of our lives that have been consecrated and brought as worship. Worship is not a lofty thing attainable by only the great. It is not a pursuit reserved for the likes of the psalmist David or for the disciples. It is not something far removed from the everyday life. We all have received the call to be worshippers. We all are subject to the same blood of Christ that has made us whole and able to worship at all. Whether it be eating or drinking, the mundane and the routine, can we sanctify the ordinary? Or rather, are we willing to make the ordinary sacred?
So why worship? Philippians 2:5-11 “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
He is the reason; the One who created worship, the One to whom all worship is due.