His lovingkindness is everlasting

After Jesus and his disciples observed the Passover, they sang a hymn and went out toward the Mount of Olives and Gethsemane.

One commentator said the hymn Jesus and his disciples sung was probably “The Hillel” or Psalm 136. Though it has 26 verses, it is a fairly easily memorized Psalm because each verse ends with the same last words: “For his lovingkindness is everlasting.”

Do you think the disciples understood what they were singing with Jesus? Continue reading “His lovingkindness is everlasting”

Reading in prayer

Some time ago I was speaking to a young Christian who admitted he was afraid to lead in worship. “Everybody is looking at me and I forget what I was going to say.”

“You can lead in prayer then,” I joked. “Everyone’s eyes will be closed.”

More seriously I added. “Why don’t you write your prayer out on Saturday night, and you can simply read it Sunday morning.”

He agreed to try that. Continue reading “Reading in prayer”

Remembering God’s salvation

Jesus told the Samaritan woman, “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be his worshipers” (John 4:23 NASB).

But, do we understand what that worship involves?

Many people approach worship with the same rote behavior as a person might use to recite the “Pledge of Allegiance.” What I mean is, they say the words, but there is no meaning from the heart. Continue reading “Remembering God’s salvation”

For what it’s worth

“And they sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the lamb” (Revelation 15:3, ESV).

Jerry McDade and his wife were out walking one Sunday morning when they heard singing so beautiful that they just had to stop and listen. Both were from the Church of England, and had heard beautiful choirs sing. What made this so startling was that it was congregational singing. Ordinary Christians raised their voices in adoration with such feeling that it compelled visitors to come in. It wasn’t long before they were baptized into Christ. Continue reading “For what it’s worth”

As a man worships, so is he

In his book More Than a Feeling: Worship That Pleases God, Jimmy Jividen makes an impressive statement: “As a man worships,” he declares, “so is he,” (page 21). Of course his declaration is drawn from Proverbs 23:7, “as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (KJV). Both Jividen and Solomon draw from the biblical understanding that human actions are drawn deeply from the well of human thinking, human motivations.

“Set your mind on things that are above,” Paul urges us, “not on things that are on the earth” (Colossians 3:2, ESV). “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander,” Jesus declares, “These are what defile a person …” (Matthew 15:19,20). Continue reading “As a man worships, so is he”

Sunday night worship

Lately I have noticed people posting articles suggesting Sunday night worship services be scuttled. The most common reason cited is that the attendances are generally lower than Sunday morning worship.

I understand that Sunday night worship is not the only way to strengthen a congregation. Please let’s be clear. The early church observed the Lord’s Supper and gave their offering on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1,2). So should we. Continue reading “Sunday night worship”

I was young and now I am, well, not

Sometimes it seems the church is being sliced and diced up by age. The “youth group” activities, the “Young Adults” Class (a very loosely defined group, I have noticed), the “Baby Boomers,” and so on. There is nothing wrong with arranging an activity specifically for young people, or women, or those of us who are more “mature.” Yet I have noticed that some try to exploit these differences in age by seeking to form a “church within a church,” or worse, by culling young people out of the church and forming their own group. We need each other!

Remember John addressing “children,” “fathers” and “young men” (1 John 2:12-14)? Remember Paul telling Titus to teach “older men,” “older women,” “younger women” and so on (Titus 2:1-6)? The church is a family, and we are not a family unless we work together and associate with each other. The church needs the idealism and energy of the young; it also needs the wisdom and reflection of the mature. Continue reading “I was young and now I am, well, not”

Freed from barbed wire

Earlier today I heard an intriguing story. My imagination instantly brought it to life.

A Christian sister recounted how she had been walking along a fence line when she came upon a sheep hopelessly ensnared by barbed wire. As she approached the pitiful creature and began assisting it, the ewe frantically thrashed, kicked and pulled in every direction.

The barb wire held fast as she worked to release the snagged sheep. Suddenly the violent movements of the sheep knocked her to the ground as the ewe lunged free to happily scamper off.

Watching that sheep joyfully run free some thoughts entered her mind. “That sheep probably thinks it freed itself from the barbed wire. In fact, it will probably still be skittish of me in the future.” Continue reading “Freed from barbed wire”