The Great Giver
A Philosophy of Worship
Perfect Bound Softcover
The Great Giver<br />
A Philosophy of Worship<br />
As worship leaders and as people who worship God regularly, we often behave like party planners, ready to serve up a variety of songs and activities that we think will please God and move others. We like to organize and feel like we are “repaying” God for his love and his gifts. In a typical week, we plan carefully and then show up on Sunday morning, asking God to bless our efforts and be with us as we carry them out.<br />
In The Great Giver, author Matt Pastor challenges us to think of worship and our relationship with God and each other in a completely different way. Citing biblically based principles, Matt urges us to be more like Mary and less like Martha—to be more present with God in an intimate relationship and spend less time making sure things are “just right” for our worship services, our prayer time, and our individual ministering. In this way, worship becomes not a service to God but a response to God’s greatness and love.<br />
More than just outlining a different philosophy, The Great Giver demonstrates what this philosophy looks like in practical, real-life terms, from choosing a worship team to how to approach your individual prayer time. Discover the true meaning and significance of “practice” and obedience, as well as its application to your walk with God. Prepare to have your old notions of worship and service challenged and your experience with God deepened.
As a worship leader, are you a Mary or are you a Martha? Do you come to serve or to receive? Do you plan things for God and for people or do you sit at his feet and listen for God’s plans? I think the real question is: Are you the Great Giver, the Great Teacher, or is He?
When the Lord was first imparting this revelation to me, I questioned it quite a bit. “Aren’t I supposed to make plans and then You just kind of direct my steps?” So the Lord led me to that passage in Proverbs and showed me something cool. A lot of the verses in Proverbs are just entities unto themselves, a single saying of wisdom. Most of these are in the same format: two parts separated by a small word; and or but. Stick with me for a second. As I looked through I realized that in every case that had the and in the middle, it was used to connect two similar parts: either two good things or two bad things. For instance…
“How much better to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver” or “An ungodly man digs up evil, And it is on his lips like a burning fire.”
You see; either both are good or both are bad. Check it out for yourself, you’ll see what I’m talking about. But in every case that has the but in the middle, it is used to connect two contradictory parts; something bad with something good. For instance…
“He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house, But he who hates bribes will live” or “The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, But the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.”
You see; a bad thing with a good thing. Again, don’t take my word for it. See it for yourself.
That brings us to the verse about our plans and His direction. Which little word do you think is in the middle of that verse? You guessed it!
“A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”
But! BUT!!! Maybe this verse is an exception to the rule, the only exception in the whole book, out of nowhere for no reason. But if not, the Lord is reminding us here that a heart that continues to make its own plans is in direct opposition to the Lord’s voice that directs our steps. These are not co-existent; they are two separate options. They are like every other verse in Proverbs that uses but, one good option and one bad option. I can allow my heart, which is deceitfully wicked above all things, to make plans or I can listen for the Lord’s direction and then ‘step.’ So with this verse, the Lord confirmed what He was teaching me as I was listening.
However, in my stubbornness, I asked for more confirmations, “Lord, is it really advantageous to listen rather than to just employ strategies, weigh the pros and cons, say a prayer, and make a decision for what I think is going to work?” So as I was listening one morning, I felt like He said, “You’re a teacher, right?” (I’m a public school teacher) “It’s just like that.” Just then, off went my ears and on went my brain. I started thinking about my own teaching, and how important lesson plans are. A class run with a good lesson plan is infinitely more successful, in my opinion, than a class where I just wing it. Lesson plans are crucial. So I concluded that He was telling me that it’s ok to come up with strategies and make plans and then just ask the Lord to bless them afterwards.
That night, I was lying in bed when I heard the same still small voice say clear as a bell, “I wasn’t finished.” (Oops.) “I was going to say that it’s just like teaching, only I’m the teacher and I have the lesson plans.” Wow. I can’t believe I once again put myself in the role of the Great Teacher, thinking I had something so good to offer that I had no need to involve the Great Giver. How annoying, I thought, must it be for a teacher if their students showed up each class with their own lesson plans? If that happened to me, I’d say, “You guys are the students, you don’t make the plans. Your job is to come ready to do whatever I have in my plans. Otherwise, you’ll just end up confused and lost. Besides, how could your plans be any good? You don’t even know what the curriculum is or what the next test will be on. You have no business making plans.” Then, in His kind way, He helped me realize that those words could be said to me sometimes, that I must stop coming with plans and start coming ready to respond to whatever He is doing.
Now, if you find this offensive, if you hate the idea and disagree, if you feel like you put a lot of work into the strategies you come up with and you don’t appreciate me telling you they are in vain, just remember that that is the standard reaction. Martha was pretty angry too. She felt like she was not being appreciated for her efforts. But the fact remains; Mary chose what was better. In God’s wonderful sovereignty, He will work for good all that you’ve done for Him, but it’s time to let Him be the Teacher, the Giver, the Planner. And when things start going the way He planned, your services, your life will undergo an incredible transformation. And the best part is that you will start to give Him what He deserves; a genuine praise born from a heart that is honestly overwhelmed at the goodness of what He has done and what He is doing.
Matt Pastor is a certified music teacher and worship leader of the Refuge Fellowship in East Northport, Long Island. He has studied with some of the world’s greatest bass players and been honored by the Aaron Copland School of Music with awards in both music teaching and music performance.
Perfect Bound Softcover
Dust Jacket Hardcover