Carelessness and Casualness
in Worship

"But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself [conduct thyself] in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." (1 Timothy 3:15)

"God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about Him." (Psalm 89:7)


Whatever Happened to our Sunday Best?

by Dr. Paul Tassell


The Way We Dress Should Show That We Honor the Lord!

One trend I have noted in local churches in recent years is carelessness. Carelessness in dress. Many people attend the house of God attired the same way they would dress for a rodeo or a football game.

When people are to be guests at the White House for a meeting with the President, they dress up—suits and ties for the men; pretty dresses for the ladies. Appropriate dress indicates appropriate respect. When the President speaks to a joint session of congress, the gallery guests as well as the lawmakers are all dressed in their best.

Does not our Lord Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church, deserve as much consideration and respect as our President? Does not your pastor deserve that much respect for his message?

I grew up in a home with two brothers and three sisters. My job every Saturday night was to polish eight pairs of shoes My parents taught us six children to "dress up in our Sunday best" for the house of God. When my wife and I go to hear our pastor, we dress up. We respect him, and we respect the Lord he represents.

Pastors and their wives should lead the way in setting a proper example of dressing for the occasion. More than once I have been disappointed at a classy restaurant where I was meeting with a group of businessmen and a pastor, only to have the pastor show up open-collared and inappropriately informal while all the businessmen were dressed in three-piece suits and ties. I do not believe the pastor's influence and testimony were enhanced by such a breach of etiquette.

I know the Lord looks on the heart, and clothes don't necessarily make the man, but how we dress when we go to a worship service ought to indicate how much we honor our Lord. We do not have to be fashion models, but we should "dress up" for our Saviour's special day at His special house, the local church. The spirit of what I am saying is captured in the words of Malachi:

A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a Master, where is My fear (reverence)? saith the Lord of hosts unto you, O priests (Malachi 1:6).

"Just as I Am" is an invitation for sinners, not a description of how the saints are to attend a church service. The Prodigal Son came home in rags. As soon as his father accepted him, however, he was dressed in a fine robe; shoes were put on his feet and a ring on his finger. Before Joseph went in to have an audience with Pharaoh, "he shaved himself, and changed his raiment" (Genesis 41:14). So should we look our best when going to the house of God to worship the Lord of the Church.

I am not pleading for barring anyone from a church service because of the way he or she is dressed. But I do think visitors to our services ought to be impressed by how special we believe our church and Lord to be as we "dress up."

Let's not allow our local churches to become sanctuaries of the sloppy and temples of the tacky. Let's respect our Master, minister and message.

                                                                                        --Dr. Paul Tassell

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God's Holy and Special Person requires reverence on the part of those who know Him and who seek to honor His Name. "God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about Him" (Psalm 89:7). He is the great and awe-inspiring God who demands our worshipful respect, not only in the way we dress, but also in the way we sing.

We dress in a proper and special way on the Lord's Day because it is a special occasion and we are meeting with a special Person, even the God who is to be feared and revered. Because of this special occasion and special Person, we want to sing in a manner that is appropriate and befitting such a worthy and glorious God. It is a time of worship, not entertainment. Applause runs horizontally and relates to man's humanity and not vertically relating to God's deity. It is out of place in the place that is seeking only to point to God and honor Him.

The dressing, the singing, the bending of the heart before God in humble worship—all of this is but the preparation of one's heart attitude for the glad reception of God's Holy Word. The One who is high and holy is looking for those who will tremble at His Word (Isaiah 66:1-2). He is looking for those who will bow before the authority of His Word. "Speak Lord, for Thy servant is listening."

Right dressing encourages right thinking. Right thinking encourages right singing. Right singing readies and tunes the heart for thankful learning. May God's Word dwell in us richly and may God the Master Musician produce His melody in our hearts to His praise (Col. 3:16). "And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD" (Psalm 40:3).

* * * * * *

Casualness in the Way
We Sing

by Robert Regal

Music, The Barometer of a Society

The church has swallowed the monstrous heresy that noise (music), size, bluster and activity, make a man dearer to God.
                            --A. W. Tozer

The article by Dr. Tassell and the above quote of Dr. Tozer should sound an alarm in the midst of the saints who have gone to sleep at the helm of the "Good Ship Grace," and have turned aside from "the faith once delivered to the saints." The Church, the "Body" and "Bride" of Christ, made up of local assemblies around the world has been impacted in our time by the "spirit of the world" (1 Corinthians 2:12). This is foreign to God's ideal which is delineated in the rest of the verse: "...but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God."

Many of the saints of our time seem unable to discern "the Spirit of God" from "the spirit of the world." We are commanded not to love the world, nor be enamored by it, and never to be dominated by it. We are not to be "conformed to the world, but transformed by the renewing of the mind," for "...we have the mind of Christ" (Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 2:16).

Particular contemporary musical styles have become classic examples of the "spirit of the world" invading the church. Not only have they invaded the assemblies of believers world wide, but they dominate. Try to address it and the assembly splits. Leadership hesitates to address it for fear of creating unnecessary waves, and, "after all, we must get together in our day; we must unite on the main issues and not be overly concerned by doctrine." (I might add, we need to be sure that it is sound doctrine.) First, certain styles of the musical language are tolerated, this is soon followed by domination (down with the traditional, conservative, stylings) which, in turn, leads to compromise.

A consequence of this invasion affects the life style of the believer. Where you find an emphasis on much of contemporary stylings, you will notice a cloak of casualness that moves in among the saints. Thus the timely article of Dr. Tassell. If this situation is addressed the assembly cries out, "legalism!"

The style of music will not only affect the attitude of the saint in the area of clothes, grooming, and personal deportment, but in theology. It fosters a looseness in the spirit of worship, teaching, edification and fellowship. I have observed in many of the churches in which I have visited this "casualness," not only in attire, but in fellowship (conversation, noise), which becomes boisterous to the point that the pastor or man of music, or whoever is in charge, has great difficulty in beginning the service. What makes it worse is that the fellowship (conversation, noise), usually has nothing to do with the purpose of the church meeting together. What has created this mood and encouraged this pre-service situation?

One of the strengths of music and its varied styles are the moods and the emotions it generates. I am not saying that Pop, rock, in all its versions, Western, Country Western, Jazz, Folk, Stamp Baxter, New Age, Contemporary, and such like, are not part of the musical language, for they are an expression that comes out of our age and culture, which culture, in many areas, is caught up in insipid subjectivism and decadence. What I am saying is that these styles and idioms speak of the world and its culture good and bad and are thus disqualified to be the musical vehicle for the saints in worship, fellowship, evangelism, and the Christian life in general. The following are two quotes supporting this position:

The development of form in music itself is an attempt to reach completeness through an artistic media. Music having a definite secular symbolism is poor music for worship. Jazz, etc. is confusing. It is too much like everyday life to be ultimately satisfying. (Emphasis Mine)

--Dr. Bernstein, Professor of Music,
New York University


Art and music always reflect a particular view on life and the world. Deeply felt values are expressed through the way the theme and subject matter are handled. Thus, even junk and punk rock say something very definite, very deliberate. What rock is saying in today's culture disqualifies it as a vehicle for spiritual communication.

Reduced to its smallest component parts, music is amoral. There is nothing inherently wrong with 440 hz vibration or a dotted quarter note followed by an eighth note. The same could be said for a letter in the alphabet or a drop of paint or a particle of clay. But as soon as a human being combines any of these building blocks, the creative process has begun and the resulting creation always reflects a view of life.

For this reason, the Christian cannot sanitize rock. Even if we ignored the worldly associations of rock (and we cannot), its musical origins spring from a view of life altogether different from the Christian's. Because Christ must be the focal point of our music, the style must never overshadow Him or draw attention to itself. (Emphasis mine)

--Peck, "Rock, Making Musical Choices"

For too long the church has assumed and taken for granted its musical heritage which is rich in great hymn and gospel composition wedded to magnificent texts both in subjectivity and objectivity, that have passed testing through the channels of time and have emerged in our day arranged and rearranged, added to and extended, imbued with the touch of the art of great musical invention. Excellent music has been and is being written in our day, but one has to sift through and discern its textual and musical values and not be caught up in the argument for style. God gave us the substance of music, man gives us the style. There are 12 tones in our music scale. The arrangement of these tones in melody and harmony, the pulse of the meter that drives it and guides it, the text that gives the composition meaning, all fall into a style that must be thought about.

It should be remembered that two areas are involved in music ministry in and to the assembly, and for that manner, to each other and to ourselves. See Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16 and Hebrews 13:15. Two languages are wedded together and both have a grammar, a syntax, and a rhetoric: Lyrics, or the word text, and composition, the music text. This then is the substance of musical expression, which expression becomes the barometer of a society. If this is true, and it is, then we could say without any provocation, that it is also a barometer of the church and its condition in society, and in its address to today's culture.

The Lord Jesus is a model for every believer. He was in the world but was not of the world: "I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world" (John 17:14). He was sent on a mission to the world, a world which hated Him, and He in turn has sent believers into the world, and in turn, the world will hate them; that is, if they are truly believers and love Him and desire to please Him as He pleased the Father, and realize that they also are on a mission to the world. See John 17:15-21.

The Lord Jesus, in verse 21, requested unity for the future believers (see also verse 11 and verse 22). These verses have been misused and abused by the promoters of the present ecumenical movement.

"Admittedly the divided church is in many ways a scandal. The cure, however, is not institutional union. Jesus was not praying for the unity of a single, worldwide, ecumenical church in which doctrinal heresy would be maintained along with orthodoxy. Instead, He was praying for the unity of love, a unity of obedience to God and His Word, and a united commitment to His will. There are great differences between uniformity, union, and unity." (Emphasis Mine)

The Bible Knowledge Commentary (NT), p. 333

All believers belong to the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13), and the world should know of their spiritual unity by their life style. This life style, whether the church or the world, is expressed through the greatest medium of expression we know, musical expression, the heart of this discussion. Nowhere in the Word of God am I encouraged to adopt the musical language that expresses the world that hates God and the believer, for as Dr. Bernstein wrote...."music having a definite secular symbolism is poor music for is confusing. It is too much like everyday life to be ultimately satisfying."

"When you take great theology and wed it to grand musicology, it ascends before God in magnificent doxology."

Stephen Olford

                                    --Robert Regal
                                    From the book: With the Voice of Singing


Additional Thoughts

On Worship




If we are going to know God who is holy, we need to reverence and fear Him. "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction" (Prov. 1:7). Since God truly is such a unique and awesome Person, He ought to have our respect. When we speak of His Name and Fame we ought to have a healthy response that reverences Him because of who He is.

Worship is intimately connected with the reverence and fear of God. Worship means to prostrate oneself before God, to bend down, to bow down, to bend the knee and thus to bend the heart. "O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our Maker" (Psalm 95:6).

We need to read the Bible with an understanding that God has all authority. He has the right to be worshipped and reverenced. The least I can do is hear what He says and respond to what He says in the right way. I may not understand all He says, but at least I will give Him reverence. I will bend my heart and bow before the authority of His Word.

The Bible describes God as a "terrible God." This means that He inspires terror, fear, dread. He is awe-inspiring, demanding our deepest respect because of WHO HE IS and WHAT HE HAS SAID. "For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible [awe-inspiring]" (Deut. 10:17). "If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD" (Deut. 28:58). May He be your fear! May He be your dread! (Isaiah 8:13).



Whatever characterizes the religious attitude of our day, it is not reverence and awe. Rarely can one enter a church today, where the hustled silence in the atmosphere makes one conscious of the presence of Him who is a "consuming fire." The head bowed "waiting in silence for God only," the tuning of the heart, the tremulous expectancy have gone out of worship. A babble of voices and a discussion of trivial affairs is not an atmosphere conducive to doing business with the living God.

Here are some suggestions as you prepare for the worship service: 1. Remember that when the organ begins playing the prelude, God's people are to be silent. There is to be a "holy hush" as believers prepare their hearts to meet a holy God. Refrain from talking and chatting with your pew neighbor so that your mind will be centered on the Lord rather than on self and others. 2. The moments may be used for silent prayer—remembering yourself and your own heart attitude, the Pastor, the choir and the other worshippers. 3. The moments may be used for prayerful meditation—you could think upon a verse of Scripture or you could meditate upon what you learned from the Pastor's last message. 4. Remember the words from Psalm 46:10--"BE STILL, and know that I am God: I WILL BE EXALTED among the heathen, I WILL BE EXALTED in the earth."



Be silent. Be thoughtful.

Be reverent, for this is the house of the Lord.

Before the service, speak to God.

During the service, let God speak to you.

After the service, speak to one another.



"When we consider what glorious beings the angels are, and yet that they are but creatures of, and servants to, the God whom we serve, waiting before His Throne, and humbly attending His commands; this consideration, if we let it sink deeply into our hearts, must needs possess us with most awful apprehensions of the glorious majesty of our God at all times, but especially in our approaches to Him in His worship, and fill us with the greatest reverence and humility. With what reverence should we behave ourselves in our addresses to the Divine Majesty, before whom the Seraphim themselves hide their faces! And if they cover their feet, are conscious to themselves of their natural imperfection, compared to the infinitely glorious God; how should we clods of earth, we vile sinners, blush and be ashamed in His presence, assuming no confidence to ourselves, but what is founded on the mercies of God and the merits of our blessed Redeemer and Advocate, Jesus Christ!"--Bishop Bull (1634-1710)



Sunday the sermon was sluggish, 'twas hard attention to keep.

The theme was faultily chosen, it almost put me to sleep.

Monday was blue with sheer boredom; Tuesday was carnal by choice.

Wednesday my conscience was wakened by pleas from a still small voice.

Prayer Meeting left me uplifted, loyalty lingering long.

Thursday my heart was responding; Friday His nudging was strong.

I came to thorough repentance the following Saturday;

I yielded in full surrender as all on the altar I lay.

Sunday the sermon was perfect, superb and quite at its peak;

Amazing how greatly the Pastor improved in the space of one week!

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Come with a prayerful attitude and a prepared heart. You will find it to be one of the best ways of improving the Pastor's preaching! There will be more POWER in the pulpit when there is more PRAYERFULNESS and PREPAREDNESS in the pew!


The Middletown Bible Church
349 East Street
Middletown, CT 06457
(860) 346-0907

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