There are several different Hebrew words for "praise" in the Bible. One of them is halal, which means "to be clear, to shine, to boast, show, to rave, celebrate, to be clamorously foolish," as in Psalm 150:1, "Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; Praise him in his mighty heavens!" (see also Ps. 113:1-3; 149:3). Another one is yadah, meaning "the extended hand, to throw out the hand, therefore to worship with extended hand," as in Psalm 107:15, "Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men." Other biblical definitions for "praise" are: shabach, "to shout, to address in a loud tone, to command, to triumph," barak, "to kneel down, to bless God as an act of adoration," and zamar, "to pluck the strings of an instrument, to sing, to praise; a musical word which is largely involved with joyful expressions of music with musical instruments." So there is biblical justification, or command, for us to praise and worship God in these ways.

Regenerate Charismatics

At last we come to the final camp. This, I believe, is the desired camp for all Christians. Many of us, however, must get past our semantic hangups with the word "charismatic". Hopefully, this post will help. Again, I'm using the term "charismatic" generally to refer to physical and emotional expressiveness in churches and the lives of people who receive the Gospel into their souls. There is a miraculous unity between the body and soul of every human, so that whatever enters the soul affects the body. For some good insight into more specific, modern usages of the spiritual gifts, Mark Driscoll has a great current series of posts on the subject over at his blog.

Regenerate Charismatics have been made alive in Christ through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, and it shows in the way they worship and live. They have thrown off their worldly clothes and have been clothed in the righteousness of Christ. They have taken off the old man and put on the new man, bound no longer by layers of sin, idolatry, skepticism, etc., and free to worship God unabashedly. They are fools for Jesus with lives fully committed to Him. The evidence of their love for God (and His for them) is displayed in their actions, speech, and in every area of their lives, both in and outside the church building.

Now, it has been six months since I began thinking through redefining "charismatic". God has shown me things about the Gospel I never expected to see during this time, the most compelling of which is Jesus' command for us to take care of the poor, proclaiming the Good News everywhere in acts of lovingkindness and justice. In order for us to become more intimate with Jesus in our worship, we must become more intimately involved with the poor, both the physically poor and the spiritually poor, both in and outside the church. It's really hard for me to assert this truth, because it is hardily reflected in my own life. But the truth remains that if our desire is to become true worshipers of Jesus, free in our expressions of love and adoration, we're going to have to live lives of complete surrender and sacrifice to Him.

Worship within a church filled with people fully committed to the mission of God is much like the joy of a reunited family around the table for a holiday feast. Family members listen, love and laugh while sharing with one another life happenings since the last time they got together. They eat, usually gorging themselves with a particularly special meal. No one wants the evening to end, but it must. So everyone goes on with their lives, working, growing, and keeping record of their stories until the next time they get together.

Regenerate Charismatic worship is shameless, passionate, bodily praise of the Creator. We gather as the body of Christ to celebrate who He is and what He has done in our lives, especially the past week of wholeheartedly pursuing Him. We encourage one another with testimony, prayer and song. Under the spiritual authority of our pastors, we are equipped with God's Word to continue in our daily, living proclamation of His Good News. And we rejoice at His Table, His family feast, in remembrance of His annihilation of our sin and His adoption of us as children of God. How could we possibly contain ourselves in the presence of such glory?

Answer: Live a life of half-hearted commitment to the Lord; Serve two masters; Hold onto unforgiveness and bitterness towards family members; Keep your behind in the past; Spend most of your time on personal pleasures instead of building relationships with your neighbors; Sleep; Commit yourselves to regularly escaping to the fantasy worlds of at least five TV shows; View church as another hour of entertainment; Bring your marketplace, consumer mentality into the church; Think of Sunday worship as an academic classroom; Follow the example of hypocritical church leaders. Church leaders: Make fun of other churches and denominations; Set your own church above others in your community in terms of biblical faithfulness, theological accuracy, and spiritual blessing; Always think you are right; Organize as many programs as possible without developing a culture of discipleship and spiritual growth; Spend most of your time preparing for Sunday; Focus on the size of your congregation rather than the lives of individuals and families that are falling apart; Preach our culture's gospel of pursuing happiness; Put more emphasis on the move of the Spirit than on the roles of the other two Persons of the Trinity; Tell lots of emotionally compelling stories instead of God's story; Pursue only what is new, improved, and continually improving; And for heaven's sake make sure you outdo last weeks production, musically and otherwise.

Such is the worship of Regenerate Non-charismatics, Unregenerate Charismatics, and Unregenerate Non-charismatics.

But, oh, to become a church filled with Regenerate Charismatics: people passionately going after Jesus, throwing off their dignified robes with utter abandonment. Imagine how the Kingdom of God would advance on this earth if God's people would stop living double-minded lives and start living lives of complete sacrifice to God, listening to His voice, seeking Him where he can be found, determining in our hearts to commit every breath of our existence to His mission. Imagine what church worship would look like if people came together to celebrate the Gospel after having lived it in all its fullness the past week. I can guarantee that our obedience to the Lord's command for us to "Praise God in his sanctuary!" would come more easily and naturally. Let's face it, we're going to look crazy worshiping a living God that no one can see. Such is demanded of our faith. But how absurd it is for us to worship our dying selves and dead idols! God wants us to have a living, vibrant, passionate, expressive, emotional, prayerful, worshiping relationship with Him. Let us not be afraid of this, and let me be the first to confess my failure.

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