Tag Archives: Worship

Monday Picks ~ 5-22-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well..

The Beautiful, Necessary Distraction Of Corporate Worship David Santistevan
THE BEAUTIFUL, NECESSARYWe are misfits from many walks of life gathered under ONE NAME. We are sinners who’ve screwed up our lives, gathered under ONE CROSS where there is mercy. We are orphans embraced under ONE FATHER, now called sons and daughters.

We are the large, we are the small. We are the rich, we are the poor. We are the smart, we are the uneducated. We are the talented, we are the glossed over. We are the brilliant, we are the broken. We are the church.

And we need your voice in the corporate gathering. And you need that beautiful distraction in your life. It’s a fairy tale to only listen to Bethel records in the comfort of your home. Whether you like the songs or enjoy your band or not, you need Church. And the Church needs you…

Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with closing your eyes and focusing on Jesus. No one will punish you for such an action. But corporate worship isn’t just about you and Jesus. You and Jesus can have devotions every day. Corporate worship is about being the Church.


Gotta Trust SomebodySamuel James
https://blogs.mereorthodoxy.com/samuel/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2017/05/7731975344_48d9130ce5_b.jpgTo make suspicion and distrust toward established, respected, and accountable sources of information your default orientation is to either put yourself at the mercy of other sources of information–which are probably just as biased and ideological as the sources you eschew, but biased in a direction you’re more OK with–or, even worse, it’s to make intuition and assumption your primary means of knowledge…

You’ve gotta trust somebody. Free market economics are far from perfect, but one thing to admire about the way America works is that even biased, slanted, ideological news outlets have to compete against each other for public trust, have to keep each other accountable, and have to abide by certain norms and incentives. To dismiss an entire arm of intellectual credentialism is to lose a lot of faith in the free market, really quickly. You’ve gotta trust somebody, and it can’t just be you.


This is a two part post from several years ago. It’s worth remembering…

Nobody Cares About Your Church (part one)Danny Franks
…it was in the middle of that discussion that I was hit with the cold, hard reality: nobody cares about our church

It’s not that they don’t care because they want to see the demise of your church.  In all likelihood, they don’t wish you any harm.  They don’t care because it’s just not on their radar.  The typical unchurched person in your community doesn’t scan the religious section on Saturday to see what’s going on at Second Baptist.  (“Look Martha! A Wild Game Dinner!  We gotta get in on that…”)

So what makes somebody care about your church?  That answer’s coming up in the next post.

Nobody Cares About Your Church (part two)Danny Franks
…most people who will attend your church will do so not because of a flyer, a marquee, or a newspaper ad.  They’ll do it because of relationship.  They’ll do it because a member of your church lent a hand, gave some money, bought some groceries, spoke a kind word, or personally shared the gospel.

And because they trust your people, they might try your church.

The people in your church are the best commercial for your church.  …[They] live what they believe in the community.  They serve without expectation of return.  They give generously when they know of a need.  They seek to bless others without an agenda.


Thirst Editions…
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Wrong Hands – Click image for a larger view.

Worship Transfer

https://userdefinedforlife.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/cross-kneel.jpg

“A sinful act involves worship of the wrong kind,
submitting ourselves at that moment to serve
the appetites of our pride or lust,
and so repentance is literally a transfer of our worship
back to the One who rightfully owns it…
Worship has been misunderstood as something that arises
from a feeling which ‘comes upon you,’
but it is vital that we understand that it is rooted
in a conscious act of the will, to serve and obey the Lord Jesus Christ.
The feelings, the joy of having been forgiven,
follow on as a consequence of our reunion with him.”

Graham Kendrick, Worship

Thursday Picks ~ 5-11-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

The Revenge of Analog DiscipleshipTrevin Wax
Lightstock
Is digital on the way out? Is analog on the way in?

…the revenge of analog does not mean that ebooks will now go away. It means that print is not dead, nor will it die, and what is printed may matter more.

There is no such thing as digital-only discipleship. It’s all analog, because we are embodied people who long for real life community that goes beyond virtual hangouts…

Disciple-making is accomplished by modelers, not just messengers. We develop not merely through cognitive transfer, but also through witnessing the lives and choices of other disciples we encounter on our way. Perhaps this is the reason why the Old Testament emphasizes the meditation and memorization of Scripture alongside conversations about the Law that take place in the daily rhythms of life.

The teachers who make the biggest difference on our lives are those who not only give us knowledge but who know us well enough to speak truth into the specifics of our lives, to give counsel from their vast experience and biblical storehouse.


For your consideration…

The Case for Free-Range KidsLenore Skenazy
Basically, to be a good parent in America today you are expected to imagine the anguish and regret you’d feel if your child died and it was all your fault because you let him do something unsupervised.

My crime was that I hadn’t indulged in what I call “worst-first thinking”—imagining the worst-case scenario first and proceeding as if it were likely to happen. My old-fashioned belief in my son and my city earned me the title “America’s Worst Mom.” (Google it!)…

…So how can we give our kids back the freedom that gave us not only incredible childhood memories but a country bursting with innovation and entrepreneurship? After all, we can’t expect to raise the next generation of risk-takers if they are not allowed to take any risks!


Lots for worship leaders to think about here…

Let Worship Be Local Too: On the Influence of Industry on Sunday MorningRyan Mayo
What are we asking Sunday worship to do for us? This is the root question behind the “worship wars” of recent decades, although that argument typically takes place a few inches above this root. Many American churches have asked at least two inappropriate questions to evaluate our worship ethos. The first is “what music makes us feel like we’ve worshiped?” The second is “what songs and sounds will grow our church?”

These questions have forced out better ones and reveal our real agendas for Sunday liturgies. We have asked our worship practices to bear loads they are not meant to bear, and they have succeeded… These new functions also allowed industry practices and industry pressures to crowd out the old functions, and we are worse for it.

Corporate singing can accomplish many tasks, and church leaders should take great caution when they assign a telos to Sunday music. Singing binds together generations of Christians through common song. Singing catechizes. Singing is also, as Marva Dawn has reminded us, a necessary-and-extravagant “waste of time[1].” Singing can also be conscripted to attract certain groups and/or repel others, or it can produce heightened feelings in our congregations. Singing can dwarf the preached Word of God and relegate it to the status of a lecture, or singing can prepare the ears to hear it. Whether through invitation or through neglect, there is an ever-expanding worship music industry that will exert pressure on our liturgies and, by extension, the theology and practice of our congregations.


Prom Prep…
https://safr.kingfeatures.com/idn/cnfeed/zone/js/content.php?file=aHR0cDovL3NhZnIua2luZ2ZlYXR1cmVzLmNvbS9aaXRzLzIwMTcvMDUvWml0cy4yMDE3MDUxMV85MDAuZ2lm
Zits – Click image for a larger view.

Not Getting, But Giving

http://www.anchoryourlife.com/images/encouragement.jpg

“Gathering with God’s people is not first about being blessed but about being a blessing. It’s not first about getting but about giving. As we prepare to worship on Sunday morning, our first consideration should be ‘how to stir up one another to love and good works.’ We should approach Sunday deliberately, eager to do good to others, to be a blessing to them. In those times we feel our zeal waning, when we feel the temptation to skip out on a Sunday or withdraw altogether, we should consider our God-given responsibility to encourage ‘one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.’ This text is not about us, but about them. This text is not for Christian individuals but Christian communities.”

Tim Challies

Tuesday Picks ~ 4-18-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

A brief review of a book I’ve been wanting to read…

Between Heaven and the Real WorldDarryl Dash
170418I would have read this book simply for its entertainment value, but it did more than entertain. It gave hope. It pointed to the beauty of the gospel in the middle of difficulty and tragedy. It’s a book that shows the beauty of a life that’s been touched by the grace of Jesus.

I haven’t seen Chapman perform in almost 17 years. But now I’ve seen something more valuable than a concert. I’ve seen, through this book, his life, and that life has shown me Jesus. And for that I’m grateful.


We can rest in the finished work of Christ, but we can’t coast…

The Coasting ChristianAaron Earls
bike work Christianity coastChristianity is a daily faith. It is built on choices each day that become habits and disciplines. It must be lived out, not simply remembered.

Our faith is an outworking of our relationship with Jesus. Coasting only becomes an option in our minds when we forget we are trying to draw closer to a person.

One day, we will feel the fresh breeze on our face as Christ declares over us, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Then everything around us will be drawing us toward Him. Gravity will be working in our favor. Our coasting will only take us deeper with Him.

Until then, however, we cannot coast. No matter how far you’ve come or what you’ve previously accomplished, you cannot take your feet off the pedals.


Yes, there are many good things about it…

What We Gained When We Lost the HymnalTim Challies
A few weeks ago I wrote an article titled What We Lost When We Lost Our Hymnals… I meant to point out that there are consequences in shifting from one medium to another—in this case, shifting from hymnals to… projection. It is true of every new technology that it brings benefits and drawbacks. Neither hymnals nor PowerPoint are exempt from the rule.

Where that article focused on what we lost when we shifted from hymnals to projection, today I want to focus on what we gained. When our churches turned away from hymnals to instead sing lyrics projected on a screen, here is some of what we gained…


Living Easter every day…

Do You Really Know This Story?Melissa Edgington
So, here is the challenge in the days after Easter… Are we living, on the Tuesday after the resurrection, as if we really know this story? Are we… content to settle into the joy and the hope of it, the sheer love of a Savior who says that no casket can hold us? That it can’t hold our dearest ones? Are we trusting in the God of Easter morning to handle whatever is coming?

We must live this short, troubled life with a resurrection mentality. With a soul that never stops smiling over Easter morning. With a mind that remembers that the risen Savior proves that death and sin have no power here. With a faith that can stand at the foot of an open grave, knowing this is not the end, not even close. I know this story, we will whisper with a smile, and we will lean on our risen Savior. He is alive forever, and so are we.


The unseen damage of cat videos…
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Bizarro

Empty Tomb = Living Jesus

I love Easter.

http://www.christchurchcathedral.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/easter-lilies.jpgI love the smell of Lilies when I walk into the worship center early on Easter Sunday. I know some folks whose allergies cause a much different reaction, but still…

I love the energy of the larger than normal crowd. I love the way we always try to put our best foot forward on Easter: we kick the creativity up a notch, our musicians work overtime getting it right, our guest services teams are on the alert to make sure all our guests have a great experience.

Mostly, though, I love what it is we’re celebrating.

Jesus rose from the dead!

He told his followers over and over that he was going to do it, and he did! He pulled it off! Death, the universal enemy of every single human throughout all time, has been defeated! No one had ever done it before, and no one has done it since. It is a unique event in human history.

This fact deserves to be celebrated in every way we can possibly imagine.

Sometimes, though, I’m afraid there is one aspect to this that we have a tendency to overlook.

It’s so simple and obvious, I’m a little embarrassed to point it out.

But here it is:

If he rose from the dead, he’s still alive.

I came face to face with this simple but powerful fact several years ago in one of the most powerful Easter services I’ve ever experienced. Our church had recently launched a new ministry to help those who are dealing with “hurts, habits, and hang-ups” called Celebrate Recovery. We wanted to raise awareness of this much needed ministry. The decision was made to feature it on Easter Sunday morning. In fact, we ended up devoting a large block of time in the service to personal testimonies from a few of the participants. Yes, we figured that some of our more traditional folks would complain that Easter Sunday wasn’t what they were expecting. But we also thought that this ministry, and the message of hope for those dealing with addiction that it provides, was worth absorbing a few complaints.

This may sound odd coming from me, but I have no memory of what music we did that morning. What I do vividly remember is listening to people, real people, tell stories of deliverance. Deliverance from addictions. Deliverance from abusive relationships. Jesus was working in their lives. He really is alive!

This is what Easter is all about!

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-_NCj3G3s300/VZq0b-dmhVI/AAAAAAAAQTY/L0Ed1ecYU7Q/s1600/Picture4.jpgYes, it’s important for us to look back to the events of over 2,000 years ago. Let’s do our Bible drama reenactments. Let’s try to imagine the astonishment of Peter and John as they ran to look into the empty tomb. Let’s put ourselves in the humbling position of Thomas who repented of his doubt and knelt before the risen Christ proclaiming, “My Lord, and my God!”

But the best way to imagine that astonishment is to come face to face with the living Jesus ourselves. Today.

That’s what I experienced that Easter Sunday morning.

We were prepared for a few complaints about this service from our most traditional folks. But I was dismayed by the reaction of so many who seemed to miss the point. Were they at the same service I was? How could they not encounter the risen Lord when his presence was so obvious? How could they be so disappointed about not getting to feel nostalgic about Easters past that they miss the living Jesus?

To be honest, I’m still a bit puzzled by it.

But I think the problem stems from separating Jesus’ resurrection in history from his life today.

If he rose from the dead, he’s still alive.

The tomb is empty. You can go and look. In fact, you could search every tomb and every grave site around the world and you won’t find him.

Which only begs the question:

Where is he?

I’ll tell you where he is.

Just look around.

He’s in the home of a young family doing their best to raise their kids in a culture that seems to fight them every step of the way. He’s helping a man who is struggling with all his might to NOT take another drink. He’s giving comfort to that old woman whose husband of many years recently died from a horrific battle with cancer. He’s working in the messy lives of everyday people who give their time, energy, and talent serving you and your church.

Don’t get distracted by the past. Jesus isn’t there.

He’s alive.

He’ll be in the pew next to you at church on Sunday.

Will you see him?

Lloyd

 

Thursday Picks ~ 4-13-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

Frances FitzGerald on how evangelicals lost their way
David Gushee
When religious folk get entangled with secular politicians in the political arena, the politicians always win. They have home field advantage. The earnest religious types get played. And the people in the pews start heading for the exits.

Faithful Christian discipleship does involve bearing witness to Christian convictions in public. But drawing the line between this dimension of Christian proclamation, on the one hand, and getting used by politicians, on the other, has proved very difficult for evangelical Christians since at least Billy Graham. It’s a sordid story, and it has shaped American religion and public life for more than a generation.


Pastor, Don’t Waste Your Exclamation Points
Jared C. Wilson
exclamation
Pastor, our people don’t usually get excited about what we tell them to be excited about. Have you figured that out yet? Instead, they get excited about what they see actually excites us.

This means we ought to steward our exclamation points wisely. If you’re one of those rah-rah guys firing on all emotional cylinders for everything from bake sales and the book table to baptisms and baby dedications, you create an equality between minutiae and missional milestones that can be disorienting, and ultimately dulling. But more directly, just remember that if everything is exciting, nothing is.


If you haven’t seen The Planet Earth it is simply amazing. It’s way beyond any documentary I’ve ever seen. It’s true that God is not present in the film, but it still leads me to worship…

Planet Earth II: Missing the Maker in the Majesty
John Stonestreet
There’s almost religious reverence and wonder spilling from every scene, as if the producers themselves know that a greater purpose lies behind the beauty of the things they see—as if they know that all of this living magnificence is more than the result of time, chance, and natural selection, but have no One else to credit…

As a feast for the senses, I can’t recommend “Planet Earth II” highly enough. But as an articulation of a worldview, it’s strikingly dissonant. In the face of so much majesty and order that cries out in testament to a Designer, modern man offers only empty personification, as if creation created itself.


 

Who Would Jesus Abort? Confessions of a “Christian” Abortion DoctorRussell Moore
BABY
Willie Parker is an abortion doctor. He says he’s not ashamed of that. Willie Parker also says he is a born-again follower of Jesus Christ. That one’s more complicated…

Parker is a kind of circuit-riding abortionist, spending time at various abortion clinics all over the South. The book, Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice is one part an autobiography, and one-part a political manifesto for the legality—and even the goodness—of abortion. Even as one who has to wade through all sorts of material assaulting human dignity, I found that I would gasp at the lackadaisical nature of Parker’s reflections…

To dehumanize the unborn child, to reduce the child’s mother to her ability to make “choices” about the life and death of others, is to dehumanize Jesus. In Christ, after all, God has “anthropomorphized” himself. And we are introduced to Jesus in the biblical story, just as John the Baptist was, as an unborn child (Luke 1:44). To keep doing his job, Parker must depersonalize the women and children he encounters. He must depersonalize God into an unblinking, non-judging cosmic abstraction.


Preparing to Preach on EasterDarryl Dash
170413
Preachers face temptations in preaching. I find that these temptations escalate around Easter. We face the temptation to impress, to rely on gimmicks, and to overcomplicate the message. It’s easy to focus on all the wrong things.

We should desire to communicate as effectively as possible. It’s not wrong to try to be clear and to improve our communication skills. It is wrong, though, to rely on our skills as the source of power, or to switch the focus to us from Christ…

Get out of the way this Easter. Don’t give into the temptation to impress. Keep the focus on Jesus.


The Boston Typewriter Orchestra…


The oppression of Earl…
Non Sequitur – Click image for a larger view.