Category Archives: Worship

The pros & cons of using hymnals in church

Blogger Tim Challies has written two posts on the subject of using hymnals in church.

“What we lost when we lost our hymnals” describes the downside of using projected words instead of hymnals.

“What we gained when we lost the hymnal” describes the upside of using projected words instead of hymnals.

Neither article will convince you if you hold the opposite opinion. But Tim does a good job of being objective about the challenges inherent in the topic.

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Posted by on April 18, 2017 in Church, Music, Tim Challies, Worship


A Primer on Worship

essential-worshipBook Review: Essential Worship: A Handbook for Leaders, by Greg Scheer

With the credentials—composer, author, musician, and minister of worship—on your resume, you would assume the individual knows a thing or two about worship. That is certainly true of Greg Scheer in his book, Essential Worship: A Handbook for Leaders. His book is a primer on worship and covers everything from principles to practices of worship.

The author begins by laying out the basic principles and definitions of worship. He then looks backwards to examine the biblical and historical roots of worship. With this as a foundation, he then delves into the role of music and the arts in worship.

In the introduction, the author explains that he came from a charismatic background, or as he describes himself—a failed Pentecostal. He later served in a Presbyterian Church and is now serving in the Christian Reformed Church denomination. It is helpful to know his background because his views on worship reflect those perspectives and denominational practices. He emphasizes following liturgy and the use of the lectionary, as well as celebrating communion on a weekly basis.

While the book is comprehensive, I found it too detailed for my own interest. It began to feel like a textbook designed for a class for worship leaders. It felt like worship was portrayed from a worship leader’s viewpoint rather than a balanced perspective. While his perspective on music and the arts is helpful, he downplays the role and importance of preaching. As a senior pastor, I was put off by his description of a typical worship service as a “mini-concert followed by a lecture.”

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

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Posted by on November 3, 2016 in Books, Worship


The relationship between worship and missions

Missions exists because worship doesn’t. The ultimate issue addressed by missions is that God’s glory is dishonored among the peoples of the world. When Paul brought his indictment of his own people to a climax in Romans 2:24, he said, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” That is the ultimate problem in the world. That is the ultimate outrage.

  • The glory of God is not honored.
  • The holiness of God is not reverenced.
  • The greatness of God is not admired.
  • The power of God is not praised.
  • The truth of God is not sought.
  • The wisdom of God is not esteemed.
  • The beauty of God is not treasured.
  • The goodness of God is not savored.
  • The faithfulness of God is not trusted.
  • The commandments of God are not obeyed.
  • The justice of God is not respected.
  • The wrath of God is not feared.
  • The grace of God is not cherished.
  • The presence of God is not prized.
  • The person of God is not loved.

The infinite, all-glorious Creator of the universe, by whom and for whom all things exist—who holds every person’s life in being at every moment (Acts 17:25)—is disregarded, disbelieved, disobeyed, and dishonored among the peoples of the world. That is the ultimate reasons for missions.

The opposite of this disrespect is worship. Worship is not a gathering. It is not essentially a song service or sitting under preaching. Worship is not essentially any form of outward act. Worship is essentially an inner stirring of the heart to treasure God above all the treasures of the world—

  • a valuing of God above all else that is valuable
  • a loving of God above all else that is lovely
  • a savoring of God above all else that is sweet
  • an admiring of God above all else that is admirable
  • a fearing of God above all else that is fearful
  • a respecting of God above all else that is respectable
  • a prizing of God above all else that is precious

John Piper in Let the Nations Be Glad! The supremacy of God in missions, third edition

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Posted by on April 25, 2016 in Books, Missions, Quotes, Worship


At the Center of All


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Posted by on April 13, 2016 in Quotes, Tim Challies, Worship


The perfect church service


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Posted by on November 13, 2015 in Church, Tim Challies, Worship


I give thanks

David’s opening words in Psalm 138 arrested my attention.

“I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. (1-2)

I was stunned as much by what David didn’t say as what he did say. David doesn’t say, “I feel thankful. I am grateful. I feel like praising God. I want to worship God.” David doesn’t say anything about his feelings, emotions, desires, or longings.

What David says is, “I give thanks … I sing your praise … I bow down … and give thanks …” Regardless of his circumstances, regardless of his feelings, regardless of whether his life is good, bad, or mediocre at the moment, David makes the choice to give thanks and praise God.

David’s thanksgiving is not tied to his circumstances. Instead, it is directed towards God’s character and attributes. “I give thanks to your name.” Knowing that in the Old Testament, God’s name always reveals his character, David is choosing to praise God for who he is. He also praises God for what he has done—his faithfulness.

Through this psalm, David taught me two essential principles of thanksgiving:

  • Thanksgiving is a choice I make regardless of my circumstances.
  • Thanksgiving is directed toward God for who he is and what he has done.

Give God your praise and thanks, not just one day a year, but every minute of every hour of every day of every year of your life. As long as you have breath, make the choice to give thanks.

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Posted by on November 27, 2014 in Scripture, Thanksgiving Day, Worship


Don’t worship a shimmering mirage

Several summers ago, during a drought and food shortage along the West Coast, more than thirty brown pelicans from California crash-landed on asphalt and sidewalks in various parts of Arizona. The state’s Game and Fish Department officials nursed the emaciated, bruised, and scraped-up pelicans back to health. They concluded that the dehydrated pelicans, due to mirages created by the sun’s reflection on the hot and cool layers of air, mistook the pavement for water and attempted to land. Gliding in with their thirst to settle on water they had been desperately longing for, the pelicans experienced a jolting shock when pain came instead of relief.

I know that feeling. It’s familiar to all of us idol factories.

God refers to our propensity to exchange his glory for worthless idols by using a metaphor of water and thirst. “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water” (Jeremiah 2:13). We build our own broken containers from dream vacations to long-sought promotions to sex sprees to substance abuse. We are deluded by the assumption we’ll be able to use them to quench our soul’s thirst. It’s why Jesus offered the Samaritan woman what he called “living water.” She had been trying to land her thirsty longings on the asphalt of failed marriage after failed marriage, and he was offering her the opportunity to dive into real water.

At its core, the issue is our misdirected worship. We weren’t created to worship those things as a human being, that’s not the purpose for which I was originally made.

Taken from life with a capital L: Embracing your God-given humanity, by Matt Heard

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Posted by on November 26, 2014 in Books, Quotes, Scripture, Worship