Showing posts with label Worship. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Worship. Show all posts

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Not Fade Away

When I was a kid I listened to a lot of rock music.

Most of it I got off the radio. I owned a few albums of my own, but was never the avid collector some of my friends were. I had some favorites, and I tended to stay with them for as long as they pleased me, then move on.

One thing I noticed right away, both on my albums and on the radio, was the “fade-out”. At the end of a song it was customary for the artist or producer to reduce the sound level progressively until the music sort of seemed to dim out in the distance — as if the artist never actually stopped singing, but just happened to be traveling away from me. Then there would be short silence, and then the next song.

I always thought that was weird.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Vision, Inspiration and Leadership

“Moses said, ‘Please show me your glory.’ ”

What makes a person give up everything in order to follow Christ?

What motivates a lifetime of obedience and service?

What makes men into real men, spiritual men, dedicated men, godly men, and what makes women into women of substance?

Well, let’s see what the Bible says about that.

Thursday, November 09, 2023

Two Glories

It’ll soon be Sunday again.

Time to go and meet with the Lord’s people and think about him.

That’s good work, really. It’s just about the best thing we really ever do. The works we do here on earth end when the Lord returns. But some things continue into eternity. Paramount among those things is worship. It’s one of the few things we do that lasts forever. I think that makes it worth getting up for.

Sunday, August 06, 2023

Filling Golden Bowls

“… golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”

Stop for a moment and contemplate with me the wonder of having our prayers presented to God as an act of worship, of having our meditations before God described as “incense” in his sight, a fragrant offering. On my best day, I would never dare put it like that ... but God does. “What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer” indeed!

But would that be ALL our prayers in those golden bowls? I sincerely doubt it.

Thursday, April 06, 2023

“I Love You,” She Said Determinedly

A man and a woman are going to bed. It’s been a long day — work has been vexing, the children have been demanding, calls and emails have piled up, and best efforts at getting it all done have failed. Irritations have built up; and at times, the couple has actually been a bit snappish.

The husband is middle-aged, and somewhat dumpy and slightly graying. His earlier grumpy mood has subsided only into a plodding weariness as he gets ready to turn in. He’s left his slippers askew in the corner again, and hung his trousers over the chair instead of putting them in the closet.

The wife turns to her husband and says, “I love you.”

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Somebody Else’s Lamb

A few days ago, I was talking with an atheist.

Yeah, I know …

Courting Disaster

The conversation came around to the Great Judgment. Of course, he doesn’t believe in it. But I asked him a question I’ve found useful in sorting out how people are thinking about God.

I said, “Well, whether you believe it or not, one day you’re going to face God. And if he were to ask you why he should accept you, what would you say?”

Thursday, March 02, 2023

Valley and Peak

On September 9, 1939, The Telegraph reported that a woman from London, England named Frances Fripps was accidentally struck by a local bus. Taken to Middlesex hospital, Miss Fripps awoke to find someone bending over her bed. To her utter astonishment, she recognized her visitor as none other than the Queen of England, there for a surprise tour of the hospital.

“They told me I had been trying to knock down a bus,” gasped Miss Fripps, “and now I find you here, your Majesty. What a day!”

What a day indeed.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

The Worship of Angels

I went to an old-time hymn sing last week.

It’s not that I prefer the old hymns. I’m just as much a fan of new choruses as the next guy … provided they’re theologically sound, of course. And singable: there’s no point in trying to sing something that’s lame musically. But if it’s all coming together, I don’t much care how new or old the tune is. If the words are good, and the tune is great for congregational singing, I say let’s go.

Thursday, May 05, 2022

Traitors at the Table

People: you just can’t count on them.

That’s one of the things you can count on about human nature. We don’t have what it takes to see things through.

Oh, we mean well enough … and we intend to try our best … but often our best is a lot less impressive in the delivery than we thought it was going to be.

And let’s face it: most of us are just not in anything for the long haul. While the idea is new and the fire in us is fresh, we’re all enthused about whatever’s going on. But fires cool, and new turns old, and we lose interest.

A career, a program, a plan, a commitment, a hobby or a marriage … all fine in the short term, but give any of them enough time and everything turns out to be work.

So we quit. And honestly, sometimes by the time we do it’s just as well that we do.

Friday, September 03, 2021

Too Hot to Handle: Golden Calf 2.0

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

It’s been years since I paid a great deal of attention to the charismatic movement, but David de Bruyn’s post on The Pentecostalization of Christian Worship at is a real eye-opener.

Tom: Mr. de Bruyn’s thesis is fairly simple: the current patterns of worship in the charismatic movement are not leading Christians within it anywhere good. Worse, these practices are catching on throughout the evangelical world. I’ve experienced them myself in my early twenties, but never really stopped to analyze the significant differences between the way charismatics engage in “worship”, and the historic patterns of worship across many other Christian traditions. Far more importantly, the charismatic approach differs radically from the patterns of worship we observe in the scriptures.

What did you think of the post, IC?

Immanuel Can: So many things … where shall we start?

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Mining the Minors: Amos (24)

The Israelite legal requirement for multiple witnesses to any criminal charge goes back to the Law of Moses and the book of Numbers, but is itself restated many times in scripture. By the time we encounter it in the New Testament from the apostle Paul, there is a new twist on the “two or three” rule. “This is the third time I am coming to you,” he writes. “Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.”

Did you catch that? In this case the three witnesses are all the same person. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure that’s not precisely what God intended.

Monday, July 05, 2021

Anonymous Asks (152)

“Should we worship the Holy Spirit?”

Long before the Word was made flesh, the Holy Spirit was present in the world and active on behalf of the Godhead. We find him in the second verse of Genesis, the fourth-last verse of Revelation, and everywhere in between. He is mentioned approximately 100 times in the Old Testament and well over 200 in the New. It has been demonstrated from the scriptures that he possesses the same attributes as both Father and Son.* His significance to us can hardly be overstated, since without him we would not have the written Word at all.

So it’s a good question: Why not worship the Holy Spirit? He’s certainly worthy of our worship.

Friday, July 02, 2021

Too Hot to Handle: EDM in the ‘Sanctuary’

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Christianity Today notes a new trend in “worship”: electronic dance music. As writer Jeff Neely puts it, “layers of computer-programmed electronic backing tracks, quarter-note bass thumps, and cycles of musical ‘builds’ and ‘drops’, much of it set to a tempo around 130 beats per minute.”


Tom: That’s my sister’s response, Immanuel Can, and I think it’s entirely apropos. Some things are beyond the pale. But perhaps we can use it as a jumping-on point to discuss the role of enthusiasm in worship, what sort of place the arts might have or not have in the context of local church gatherings, and so on.

That work for you?

Immanuel Can: Certainly.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

You Worship WHAT?

What do you think: worth dying for?
This is interesting. asked the following question: “If there is a god, does that being necessarily deserve worship?”

Get this: 73% said no. Are you surprised?

Probably not. But ignorant as it may be, perhaps the logic and underlying assumptions of the “no” brigade are worth a moment’s consideration.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Eating and drinking to the glory of God?

What a strange idea. I get the “eating” part, and I get the idea of “glorifying God”. But what does our action of eating have to do with God’s glory?

That’s going to take some explaining.

A Meal and Love

I have a friend who has the gift of hospitality. Watching him for many years has totally convinced me of the incredible power of that gift. More than anyone I’ve ever met, he has a knack for making his home a place where people feel welcomed, warmed, loved and fed.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Christianity Lite

Better entertained in goatland ...
I can’t speak to the condition of churches throughout the world, but I think it’s fair to say there is an epidemic of church-playing in North America these days. People are crowding into megachurches weekly to partake of a sort of ‘Christianity Lite’ in which scripture is still quoted as authoritative and many of the right forms are still observed.

But if YouTube reflects any sort of cross-section of Christian reality, many sermons seem to primarily involve wrestling the words of the apostles and prophets into the shape of modern secular values. And if the more popular Christian blogs show us anything, it’s that many believers lead lifestyles indistinguishable from those of someone who does not know Christ at all.

Too harsh? Maybe.

Friday, November 06, 2020

Too Hot to Handle: The Greatest Threat to Faith Today

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Writer Andrew Sullivan gives this advice to churches:

“If the churches came to understand that the greatest threat to faith today is not hedonism but distraction, perhaps they might begin to appeal anew to a frazzled digital generation. Christian leaders seem to think that they need more distraction to counter the distraction. Their services have degenerated into emotional spasms, their spaces drowned with light and noise and locked shut throughout the day, when their darkness and silence might actually draw those whose minds and souls have grown web-weary.”

Tom: “The greatest threat to faith today is not hedonism but distraction.” What do you think, IC? Is technology dangerous to Christians?

Monday, July 27, 2020

Anonymous Asks (103)

“What is one way you can worship God without using music?”

Must I pick only one?

Okay then, but first, a word about music as worship.

I’m very glad someone actually asked this question, because it hints at just how many evangelicals think of worship almost exclusively in connection with congregational singing, and have not given much thought to whether there are better ways to worship God than in the middle of belting out a cheesy modern melody and waving your arms around ... or worse, pummeling your drum kit.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Not Fade Away

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Thursday, July 09, 2020

Vision, Inspiration and Leadership

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Thursday, March 05, 2020

Two Glories

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Purpose of the Sacrifices [Part 4]

Continuing an examination of the sacrifices of the Old Testament. We started with what the sacrifices WERE NOT.

In my last post I pointed out what should be obvious to any evangelical Christian or cursory reader of the book of Hebrews: that the Old Testament sacrificial system neither disposed once-and-for-all with the question of sin from God’s perspective, nor did it clear the conscience of the worshipers.

So what WERE the sacrifices for then?

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The Purpose of the Sacrifices [Part 3]

Continuing an examination of the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament, starting with what they were not, and moving to what they were.

In my last post I tried to establish that the sacrifices neither fed God nor gave him pleasure, and that they were useless without the right attitude and accompanying actions.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The Purpose of the Sacrifices [Part 2]

Continuing our examination of the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament, starting with what they were not, and moving to what they were. In my last post I tried to establish that, first and foremost, the sacrifices of the Old Testament were far from God’s ideal. I am quite confident that if there had been a way to accomplish the necessary purposes of the sacrifices without involving suffering or death, God would most certainly have ordered it.

So let’s carry on with what the sacrifices were not:

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The Purpose of the Sacrifices [Part 1]

Animal sacrifice is not something Christians practice, for good reason. The sacrifices of the Old Testament point forward to Jesus Christ and were fulfilled in his death, and are thus no longer necessary for either Jews or Gentiles.

For Christians, the sacrifices can be an interesting study, the details of which frequently serve to reinforce the unity and consistency of scripture and the plan of God for man through the ages. They can be very reaffirming to a Christian’s faith, and give a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of the holiness of God, the nature of sin, the condition of man and most significantly, the value of the sacrifice of Christ himself.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

An Afterthought about an Afterthought

“As soon as Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped.”

By his own admission, Gideon was the least accomplished son in the household of a father whose clan was a mere afterthought within its tribe. Worse, in the latest recorded Israelite census, the tribe of Manasseh had finished dead last in the number of fighting men it was able to supply to Israel’s army, less than half the number available from Judah and well behind even small-but-pugnacious Benjamin.

To top things off, the tribe of Manasseh then voluntarily split itself in half.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Anonymous Asks (46)

“Spiritual worship: like ghosts and stuff? I don’t understand it.”

No ghosts, but if you’re not familiar with the concept of worshiping God in spirit, maybe it can be a bit confusing.

Jesus said God the Father is looking for people who will worship him “in spirit and in truth”. That became possible when the Father sent the Son into the world to reveal God to mankind.

To understand the meaning of worshiping in spirit, we need to understand a little bit about the alternative.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

“I Love You,” She Said Determinedly

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Somebody Else’s Lamb

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Valley and Peak

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

That Night

“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread …”

Well, let me take you back to that night.

Around the table were all the disciples of the Lord, and in the midst of them, the Lord himself. It was a dinner party of sorts, a Passover seder, actually. Solemn in the Jewish calendar, but also a time of thankfulness.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Not Fade Away

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Too Hot to Handle: EDM in the ‘Sanctuary’

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Vision, Inspiration and Leadership

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Two Glories

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Exit, Stage Left

What makes a church a church?

The presence of Christ among his people? Yes, that’s surely critical. That we meet in his name, according to his will and doing the things that he himself would do if he were here with us? Yes, that is our assurance of his presence. That we follow the pattern of the early believers and commit ourselves to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayer? Absolutely.

Question: What happens if we stop remembering the Lord in the breaking of bread? Are we still a church any sense that matters to God?

Friday, October 14, 2016

Too Hot to Handle: The Greatest Threat to Faith Today

 The most recent version of this post is available here.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Inbox: Measuring the Wind

WD writes, “How does the Spirit work in a person’s life and how can one know He is?” An excellent question.

It’s also a question I wouldn’t dare try to answer in a single blog post, even if I thought myself an expert on the Holy Spirit’s guidance, which I don’t. But our reader’s question has been lurking at the back of my mind as I’ve worked my way through William Trotter’s little pamphlet on worship and ministry in the Spirit.

As much as impressions may be powerful things, I remain cautious about attributing to the Holy Spirit anything that is merely subjective, mystical or personal.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Golden Calves and Sacred Cows

Just another divine bovine ...
Anyone who has carefully read the New Testament through more than once will concede that most modern evangelical church meetings bear little resemblance to the gatherings described in the letters of the apostle Paul.

That alone doesn’t necessarily make today’s churches “wrong”: both local autonomy and format flexibility are built into the New Testament church. Thus some of today’s churches may be most accurately described in the words of a local city building inspector who referred to a nearby triplex as “legal non-conforming”.

Friday, July 08, 2016

“I Love You,” She Said Determinedly

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Valley and Peak

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Worship of Angels

The most recent version of
this post is available here.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Why Do Christians Worship?

[NFL fans will not miss the obvious; this post was written well prior to the acquisition of Manning’s second (and final) Superbowl ring — Ed.]

Prior to the Superbowl, there was much discussion about Denver quarterback Peyton Manning.

Everybody seemed to want to know where Manning rates on the list of all-time football greats. It was not a subject debated only by the talking heads on TV. Jim Rome rambled on about it on my car radio. It came up at work. It came up at my local diner. Even people who would otherwise be uninterested in football seemed to have an opinion about Manning’s legacy in the two weeks between conference finals and the big game — and even more so during the game itself.

It is in the nature of mankind to have something to say about greatness.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Too Hot to Handle: Tom Becomes a Redhead

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Worship is one of those polarizing subjects.

At one end of the spectrum you get Christians for whom everything is worship; hence terms like “worship team” and “worship leader” and so on. Such a concept of worship is so broad as to be almost meaningless. At the other end you have the ritualists, whether they are Catholicized and liturgical or simply traditionalist evangelicals with very rigid ideas about what a church’s corporate worship ought to entail. Such a view of worship fails to deal adequately with Romans 12:1.

Both extremes claim scriptural evidence for their positions, though I would argue that both views of worship are too limited. Everything in the Christian life may be done worship-fully, but choosing to worship remains a specific and deliberate act.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Higher Learning

The martyrdom of John Lambert came up in discussion with my fellow blogger IC last week. Lambert was burned at the stake in 1538 for refusing to retract his objection to the doctrine of transubstantiation. As he died, Lambert is reported to have cried out over and over again, “None but Christ! None but Christ!”

Subsequent to our conversation, IC sent me a link to a video clip of an episode from the otherwise-execrable TV series The Tudors, in which John Lambert meets his end. Interestingly, the show’s producers opted to change Lambert’s dying statement to “All for Christ! All for Christ!”

So what? Such minor tweaking of dialogue takes place all the time in the process of bringing real stories to big and small screens alike. It’s still a powerful scene, and the viewer’s sympathies are fully with Lambert, which is presumably the writers’ intent.

Still, there is a difference in meaning, and I think it’s one worth noting.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Traitors at the Table

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

In Need of Analysis: Worship as a Lifestyle [Part 2]

“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

We have been discussing worship as a lifestyle, a concept set out by John Piper among others, and how the recent discovery of a “worship lifestyle” compares with the way the word “worship” is actually employed throughout scripture.

First we drew a sharp distinction between two ways scripture uses the word: (1) to describe “acts of worship” (the public appearance) and (2) to refer to “worship” itself (the heart reality). Then we went on to establish that genuine worship is deliberate, sacrificial, obedient and informed by the character of God himself. It is not a mechanical, rote act, nor is it to be engaged in casually. It takes place at specific times, not at every moment of life.

Monday, June 13, 2016

In Need of Analysis: Worship as a Lifestyle [Part 1]

The subject of worship is currently getting a little more attention than usual in Christian circles, and that’s not a bad thing. We have John Piper to thank for this, among others who have written about worship as a lifestyle.

Piper starts by encouraging us to enlarge our thoughts of worship:

“… don’t think worship services when you think worship. That is a huge limitation which is not in the Bible. All of life is supposed to be worship.”

and goes on to describe eating at Pizza Hut to the glory of God, having sex to the glory of God and dying to the glory of God. So eating moderately, healthily and gratefully is worship; loving sex within the bounds of marriage is worship; chastity, too, is worship. “You are always in a temple,” Piper says. “Always worship.”

Friday, May 27, 2016

Too Hot to Handle: With One Accord

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Tom: You and I were talking last week, Immanuel Can, about this recent exchange of ideas I had with Crawford Paul at assemblyHUB — civilly, of course — on the subject of worship, specifically what we refer to as the “Lord’s Supper”, that ended with Crawford pointing out that “The topic is much bigger than this article”.

I couldn’t agree more, so I’ve written here and here about it. But I’d really like to explore the subject a little more with you. What appears to be eating Crawford and others is that the traditions they have grown up with about corporate worship appear to be just that — largely traditional, rather than scriptural.

This is a subject I know you love, so I wouldn’t want to leave you out. Specifically, I’m interested in exploring our corporate freedom in worship, but not divorcing that from the issue of our corporate responsibilities.

Immanuel Can: Right. Count me in. Where would you like to start?

Monday, May 23, 2016

Here Comes the Baggage

Yesterday I briefly noted some of the different approaches taken within Christendom to remembering the Lord Jesus. If you haven’t read that post first, this one will probably make less sense than it might otherwise.

The New Testament does not lay down many hard and fast rules about the mechanics of worship, only that we are to “remember” our Lord in the sharing of the bread and the cup and to examine ourselves prior to doing so. Arguably this is the most important part of the Christian life. One can be as active in church as humanly possible, as diligent and and hard-working as anyone, and even passionate about meeting with the people of God.