Resources That Disciple Me

This past Sunday I preached on what we let disciple us, and shared a suggestion from Brett McCracken on the Wisdom Pyramid. It’s a helpful guide on what we consume and allow to shape us. I also share the various podcasts I listen to, and the books and music I’ve been enjoying the past week! Here’s the whole list:

Podcasts:

5 Minutes in Church History – Stephen Nichols does brief historical ideas/stories

Bible Talk – 3 professors/pastors walk through the Bible, 15 episodes in haven’t even finished Gen!

BreakPoint – John Stonestreet, director of the Colson Center, news

The Briefing – Al Mohler, president of SBTS does daily news analysis from a Christian perspective. I don’t always agree with him, but he’s is unbelievably insightful.

Credo Podcast – prof. from MBTS on theology

Cultivated: A podcast about faith and work – Mike Cosper interview Christians 

Doxology & Theology – prof. from SBTS on how to better worship God

EFCA Theology Podcast – my dad does it so I have to listen

Every Square Inch Podcast – HIGHLY recommend. He’s insightful, articulate, careful, and pastoral

For the Church – Jared Wilson, author and speaker

Freakonomics – non-believer looking at some of the ways the world works

Gospelbound – Collin Hansen, part of TGC interviews various people about how to live a Christian life

The Happy Rant – a friend of mine, like to joke a lot

The Holy Post – Phil Vischer (Veggie Tales) Skeye Jethani (former editor of CT) discuss current issues

Like and Books and Everything – Kevin DeYoung, Collin Hansen, Justin Taylor talk about what it says!

Pastor Well with Herschael York – interviews with pastors

Pastors Talk – Mark Dever and Jonathan Leeman various issues

The Pivot – musician named Andrew Osenga talks with other artists about how God has led them in their lives

Preaching and Preachers – Jason Allen, pres. Of MBTS guide to preaching better

Revitalize and Replant with Thom Rainer – self explanatory

TGC Podcast – sermons/lectures from their conferences 

TGC Q&A – various people answer questions about Christianity and living out our faith

Thinking in Public – Al Mohler talks to various authors about their writings and ideas in the public square

This American Life – stories from various parts of the country

This Cultural Moment – Mark Sayers is a pastor in Australia who is unbelievably insightful into reaching our secular culture

The Village Church Sermons – Matt Chandler

Books/Authurs:

JT English – Deep Discipleship

Will Wiight – Unsouled

DA Carson – John Pillar

Grant Osborne – John: Verse by Verse

Richard Lovelave – Dynamics of a Spiritual Life

Carl Trueman – The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self

Athanasius – On the Incarnation

Music

Lots of instrumental music to study, Jon GuerraJon ForemanSlugs & BugsCityAlightGettysHillsong

Pandemic From The Trellis and the Vine

One of my favorite books on intentional discipleship is The Trellis and the Vine. I’ve been looking over it again to be reminded of its’ message, and found the conclusion of the book incredibly prophetic. It was written in 2009, but imagines a situation where a global pandemic has prevented large groups from gathering. How would it impact the church? Here is what they say:

As we write, the first worrying signs of a swine-flu pandemic are making headlines around the world. Imagine that the pandemic swept through your part of the world, and that all public assemblies of more than three people were banned by the government for reasons of public health and safety. And let’s say that due to some catastrophic combination of local circumstances, this ban had to remain in place for 18 months.

How would your congregation of 120 members continue to function—with no regular church gatherings of any kind, and no home groups (except for groups of three)?

If you were the pastor, what would you do?

I guess you could send regular letters and emails to your people. You could make phone calls, and maybe even do a podcast. But how would the regular work of teaching and preaching and pastoring take place? How would the congregation be encouraged to persevere in love and good deeds, especially in such trying circumstances? And what about evangelism? How would new people be reached, contacted and followed up? There could be no men’s breakfasts, no coffee mornings, no evangelistic courses or outreach meetings. Nothing.

You could, of course, revert to the ancient practice of visiting your congregation house-to-house, and door-knocking in the local area to contact new people. But how as a pastor could you possibly meet with and teach all 120 adults in your congregation, let alone their children? Let alone door-knock the suburb? Let alone follow up the contacts that you made?

No, if it was to be done, you would need help. You would need to start with ten of your most mature Christian men, and meet intensively with them two at a time for the first two months (while keeping in touch with everyone else by phone and email). You would train these ten in how to read the Bible and pray with one or two other people, and with their children. Their job would then be twofold: to ‘pastor’ their wives and families through regular Bible reading and prayer; and to each meet with four other men to train and encourage them to do the same. Assuming that 80% of your congregation was married, then through these first ten men and those that they subsequently trained, most of the married adults would be involved in regular Bible-based encouragement.

While that was getting going (with you offering phone and email support along the way), you might choose another bunch to train personally—people who could meet with singles, or people who had potential in door-knocking and evangelism, or people who would be good at following up new contacts.

It would be a lot of personal contact, and a lot of one-to-one meetings to fit in. But remember, there would be no services to run, no committees, no parish council, no seminars, no home groups, no working bees—in fact, no group activities or events of any kind to organize, administer, drum up support for, or attend. Just personal teaching and discipling, and training your people in turn to be disciple-makers.

Here’s the interesting question: after 18 months, when the ban was lifted and you were able to recommence Sunday gatherings and all the rest of the meetings and activities of church life, what would you do differently?

Marshall, Colin; Payne,Tony. The Trellis and the Vine . Matthias Media. Kindle Edition.

Notes from December 27 Sermon

Here are the various Bible passages I used in my sermon for December 27.

Eph 4:11-16 “And  he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. 

1 Cor. 15 

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

Worship Acceptably 

Heb. 12:28-29 “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.” 

1 Cor. 10:31 “ So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 

Rom. 12:1 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 

Gospel First 

Rom. 1:16-17 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” 

Pray Fervently 

1 Thess. 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 

Attend Regularly 

Heb. 10:24-25 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” 

Give Generously 

Matt. 13:1-9 Parable of the Sower “A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” 

1 Peter 3:9 “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary,  bless, for  to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” 

Serve Faithfully 

1 Cor 12:4-11 “Now  there are varieties of gifts, bu t the same Spirit; 5 and  there are varieties of service, but  the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is  the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of  wisdom, and to another the utterance of  knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another  faith by the same Spirit, to another  gifts of healing by the one Spirit,10 to another  the working of miracles, to another  prophecy, to another  the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another  various kinds of tongues, to another  the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually  as he wills.” 

Communicate Honorably 

1 Thess. 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 

Col. 4:6 “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” 

Submit Joyfully 

Eph 5:15-21 “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,16 making the best use of the time, because  the days are evil.17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what  the will of the Lord is. 18 And  do not get drunk with wine, for that is  debauchery, but  be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in  psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father  in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. 

Christmas Activities COVID Style

With us not meeting at church right now, I thought it may be helpful to have some fun ideas for you to enjoy at home! I’ve sent a few of these out already, but wanted to compile them in one place for you to look through the list! I’ll add new things at the top of the page as they become available so you don’t need to scroll all the way to the bottom each time. If you’ve got any ideas for other things we can add on here, please send them my way!

Jenna Paulson has put together a Christmas Bingo 2020 edition! I will give 10 Caribou Coffee gift cards to the first 10 people to complete a Bingo WITH PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE!
The Young Families Group is making “Snowman Soup” then bringing it to neighbors and giving them an invite card to our Christmas Eve Service. (Thanks to Erin Rivenburg for giving me this idea!)
This concert was WONDERFUL! Lots of smaller groups you may not have heard of!
JD Greear’s Advent series at Right Now Media. This is a great, brief series looking at the 4 names of Christ in Isaiah 9:6.
Slugs and Bugs Advent videos at Right Now Media. My kids absolutely LOVE Slugs and Bugs, and this Advent series is no exception! If you’ve got little kids, they’ll probably love this.

Feel free to download the invitation card for your own use! Just right click on the image, then click “Download image” to save it to your computer.

Why I’m Preaching Through 1 Peter

I created a brief “bumper video” for our new sermon series looking at 1 Peter. After it had shown for a couple weeks I got a couple questions about it, so thought I’d share some of my reasoning for why I addressed what I did in the video below.

First, everything I mentioned in the video is something that is a bit of a “hot button” issue in our cultural climate today. I specifically mention: whites vs blacks, men vs women, democrat vs republican, masks vs anti-maskers, and faith vs science as things the world uses to say Christians are wrong and can’t speak in to what is really truth. Part of the difficulty is there’s people on both sides of pretty much all those issues in every church. That’s where a book like 1 Peter is so helpful because he doesn’t allow us to divide into our various factions and groups, instead the gospel compels us to break down all these dividing markers and keep our focus on the primary realities that Jesus died for our sins and now reigns on high in heaven from where He will someday return to judge the living and the dead, right every wrong, and bring about perfect justice and peace (that’s where I talked about shalom – true and lasting peace a couple weeks ago in my sermon). 

Second, specifically referring to the race issue, I believe the organization Black Lives Matter is an abhorrent group that is being used to attempt to subvert many of the things God’s kingdom seeks to bring about. Interestingly, they recently took down their statement of beliefs because it is so controversial (pushing to get rid of the nuclear family, being driven by transgender rights and seeking the marginalization of both males and whites). 

Thirdly, I will say that despite the BLM organization being horrendous, there is still a history of oppression and marginalization of non-whites in the United States that serve as reminders of the fact that we are not yet home, but long for the day when Christ returns to bring perfect peace and reconciliation (as Paul reminds us to pursue in 2 Corinthians 5:16-21). There’s a couple at church who have 5 kids, 3 of whom are black and they have some very interesting stories of how their kids are treated differently, I’d encourage you to talk to them about their experience! There’s also some great resources out there on the history of race in America. One of which is a short video Phil Vischer (creator of Veggie Tales) put together here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGUwcs9qJXY&pp=QAA%3D where he brings up historic laws like Jim Crow laws and Redlining that sought to marginalize non-whites from specific rights or opportunities. It’s also important to note that this isn’t just true of us today as there’s a history of racism throughout the history of the church. Peter wouldn’t associate with Gentiles when Jews were around (Galatians 2:11-14), Martin Luther wrote a treatise titled ’On the Jews and Their Lies’ and Jonathan Edwards, one of my favorite American theologians owned slaves (of which you can read a couple responses HEREHERE and you can hear a lecture on this issue from the EFCA Theology Conference HERE). As a brief aside, the EFCA did an entire conference devoted to this issue in 2018 entitled ’The Gospel, Compassion and Justice, and the EFCA,’ you can see all the resources from that conference HERE. Another helpful resource is done by Andrew Wilson, a pastor from England, writing on ‘A Short History of Racism’ and ‘On Structural Racism’ in which he links to the Phil Vischer video listed above.

Fourthly, part of the issue in our current climate stems from critical race theory, the idea that the only categorizations that matter are those who have and wield power and those who do not (or those who are the oppressors and those who are the oppressed). This is one of those ideas that stems from Marxism and has gained increasing traction in the past decade as the means by which we engage in any conversation. In this category, white males are deemed the primary oppressors, meaning that because I am a white, middle class, educated male I am inevitably the oppressor, thus anything I say is deemed as not true so I must cede any ideas to those who are more marginalized than myself. This is completely false within a biblical worldview because there is an objective source of truth that is not rooted in someone’s experience. (We’ll be studying in the new year the 7 “I Am” statements Jesus uses throughout John’s Gospel, one of which is where He says “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” So to get the foundation of truth we need to go to Jesus!) There is objective truth and it’s ultimately found in God himself, and captured in His Word, the Scriptures, which is why we preach, teach, and study the Bible every week together at church. We must be shaped and formed by God’s Word not the culture in which we live. Tim Keller has written a series of VERY helpful articles on this very issue which are all linked to at THIS WEBSITE, just to warn you these 4 articles are really long, but well worth the time it takes to read through them.

Fifthly, although there is objective truth and one standard of truth, we all have different experiences which shape, inform, and influence the way we view and interact with the world around us. The difficulty becomes when one’s experiences become their defining characteristic instead of looking at the broader way in which their story interacts with the world as a whole. What we all need to do is bring our experiences back to the Bible and view our experiences through a biblical lens instead of viewing the Bible through our experiential lens. This is where Grant Osborne’s idea of a Hermeneutical Spiral  is so helpful as our experience shapes and informs our views, but then through study, mediation and sanctification we slowly become more and more what Christ has called us to be, that is holy (as we’ll be studying together this coming Sunday in 1 Peter 1:15). This is where it’s very helpful to talk to people about their background and story, because the gospel will cut against some aspect of every culture on this side of heaven, so we should look to see ways in which the gospel can encourage parts of any culture, and ways that we need to use the gospel to fight against bad parts of culture (Tim Keller is incredibly helpful on this issue, particularly in his book Center Church, and so is D.A. Carson’s book ‘Christ & Culture Revisited‘ in which he look at Richard Neibuhr’s five Christ and culture options from his book ‘Christ and Culture’).

Lastly, this entire discussion is where we need to be so saturated in God’s Word that we can gain an eternal perspective on any issue, and bring the truth of the Bible to bear on it. As we’ll be studying this coming Sunday from 1 Peter 1:23-25  God’s Word is the one thing that will last forever, nothing else will. This is where it is imperative for us as Christians to live as ambassadors of a different kingdom who serve a different king. We cannot be held captive by any political agenda, any cultural agenda, any racial agenda, or any agenda other than the one Jesus called us to: to make disciples of His Kingdom. This is where we all come together as God’s people from various backgrounds (be that different socioeconomic, cultural, racial, gender, or generational) and are eager to “love another another…from a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22). That doesn’t mean unanimity or groupthink, what it does mean is dying to ourselves for the sake of each other. So my hope and prayer with this series is that it cuts against the grain of any political agenda people are bringing to Sunday mornings, and brings us back to truth, the truth of the gospel message, that Jesus saves and we can place our hope entirely in Him, and that this message will be made visible in our lives as an adornment of the gospel message we preach.

April 1 Devotional

Happy April! Today we’ll be taking a look at Romans 8:26-30:
 
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
 
As I was reading through this this morning the first sentence struck me. I’ve been thinking through the implications of God being three persons who are co-equal, which means each of the three person of the Trinity is God. The Father is God, the Son is God, and Spirit is God. So when we come to a text like this, we’re reminded that GOD HIMSELF helps us in our weakness. And God himself indwells us as His people. And God himself will fight for us until the day we die or He calls us home. And because God himself is helping us, we can trust that no weakness will overtake us that we cannot endure. 
 
How often do you not know what to pray, or how to pray, or feel like you don’t have the right words? Yet this passage reminds us that even when we don’t know how to begin praying, the Spirit intercede with us and prays for us. This is the reminder that we have 2 intercessors: the Spirit and the Son (who again, are both God!). So, because of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we can then get to one of the best known passages in the Bible. God causes everything to work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. This only happens because of the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, so that we can then have hope. If the Holy Spirit isn’t at work in your life, then nothing will work out for good. 
 
Paul then ends with what is referred to as the golden chain of salvation which goes: foreknew, predestined, called, justified, glorified. Again, because it is God’s work from beginning to end, we can trust that He will bring His work in our lives to completion! That is working everything out for good! So everything we’re experiencing today is for our ultimate good, being confirmed into the image of Jesus Christ!
 
SONG:
Today’s song is a little different than any previous one as there are now words! The piece is Claire De Lune by Debussey, which was one of my favorite songs to play on piano back when I was taking lessons! It’s a wonderful piece of music to listen to as you pray through the things that are going on around you, and meditate upon God’s Word! You can listen to it on YOUTUBE or SPOTIFY.
 
FREE STUFF:
A friend of mine sent me a link to his blog yesterday with a list of 10 documentaries to watch during this time. I’ve watched a number of them and found them really enjoyable! You can find them HERE.

New Blog!

As I’ve been wanting to dig more specifically into worship related stuff, I’ve decided to split my blog into 2 separate ones, so I’ll continue using this one for general things I enjoy or am thinking about, and will be blogging about things related to worship ministry at: https://alwaysreformingworship.home.blog

Thanks for reading!

3 Ways to Fix Our Eyes on Christ

I had the privilege of spending last week in Louisville, Kentucky for the bi-annual Together for the Gospel conference. While the speakers and free books are great, it’s often even better to spend time with friends – old and new! One of my friends encouraged me to pick up writing at my blog again (thanks Kevin!) So here we go. I’m going to try to write a weekly blog on some things I’m think about in relation to worship – both gathered and scattered. One thing that stuck out to me was something one of the speakers said: Christians are leaky, like a sieve. We get the gospel poured into us, but it has a tendency to leak out very quickly. This is part of the reason it is so important for us to “not neglect meeting together.” (Hebrews 10:25) We gather to be reminded. But what are we reminding each other to do? One of those things that I pray every week before our services begin is that it reminds us to fix our eyes on Christ. (Hebrews 12:2) So here are 3 ways during our weekly worship that we can better fix our eyes on Christ:

  1. Read Scripture

One of the most impactful classes for me during my time in seminary was in the first class I ever had: Survey of Christian Doctrine. The professor stated that we as Evangelicals claim to be book-centered people. But if that’s true, why is Scripture not a greater part of our weekly worship? How many services have you been to where Scripture isn’t read until the preaching portion of the service? But not only does Scripture need to be read, but read WELL. The Bible is “living and active,” (Hebrews 4:12) and many people do a disservice to the reading of God’s Word by reading it in an un-engaging way.

One way I’ve tried to do a better job of implementing Scripture reading is by beginning all our services with Scripture – generally from a Psalm. This helps us to reorient our hearts and minds to what we’re about to do together: focus on Christ. By beginning our time with God’s Word we are reminded to ground everything we do in that Word, as Colossians 3:17 reminds us, “Let the word of Christdwell in you richly.”

  1. Get Our Eyes Off Ourselves

Another way we are encouraged to fix our eyes on Christ is by getting our eyes off ourselves. Obviously this is just the opposite of fixing our eyes on Christ (we can’t fix our eyes on 2 places, after all), but this is another area where we often need reminders. Philippians 2 encourages us to have the same mind among ourselves as Christ Jesus: humility. Every person on the planet is prone to naval gazing at the expense of gazing at Christ. So when we gather together to sing, read God’s Word, give our offerings, and encourage one another, we do so to help each other get our gaze off ourselves and onto Christ.

  1. Look Also to the Interests of Others

Finally, as Paul also reminds us Philippians 2, we need to remember to “count others move significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Each week when we gather, we’re coming with different life stories, expectations, proclivities to sin, and areas where we need encouragement. By fixing our eyes on Christ we can better serve each other and remember that our focus needs to be on those around us instead of ourselves. I love what Ephesians 5:19 says about our purpose for gathering: “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.” We are called to address one another on Sunday mornings. This helps us look to those around us who are in need of encouragement and support to faithfully live out God’s commands for another week. This then helps us to get our focus off ourselves and reorients our lives to better reflect the realities of our changed lives.

What Makes a “Worship” Song?

One of the perennial issues I receive comments on is on the music we sing on a Sunday morning, and whether or not it’s actually “worshipful.” So what exactly makes a song a “worship” song? And is that the question we should be asking? A song is made up of a few different things: melody/notes, rhythm and words. Let’s look at each one of these.

  • Melody

The songs we sing on Sunday shouldn’t jump around too much, and should be easy for the entire congregation to sing. This means rap wouldn’t be good to use as a tool of worship with the congregation. This doesn’t mean that songs that have melodies that jump around a lot can’t be used as a tool to worship, but they shouldn’t be one of the songs we sing on a regular basis at church. And a melody doesn’t inherently make make a song worshipful or not. When Martin Luther was writing his hymns he wrote them to well known bar tunes so people could join in and sing with him. The focus for Martin Luther, and for us, is that the congregation sings together (Col. 3:16). Therefore, any melody can be used as song of worship, but a certain melody does not a worship song make.

  • Rhythm

As I was growing up, one of my favorite songs was Audio Adrenaline’s ‘The Houseplant Song.’ A line in there said, “If it’s syncopated rhythm then your soul is gonna rot!” (Coincidentally, this was one of the first songs I learned on guitar!) Once again, you can have a song that is used for congregational worship with all sorts of different rhythms, the key is making it a rhythm the congregation can sing. Are there too many words in too short amount of time? Are there too few words for the pace of the music? Is it in a weird time signature that’s hard to pick up (like 7/8 or 5/4)? As weird as it sounds, this is why I think it’s important to keep up with top 40 music, so we can learn what our congregation is listening to and what is shaping their ideas of music. Once again, a worship song can have a wide range of rhythms and still be a worship song.

  • Words

That leaves us with words. Words alone make Christianity unique. Jesus is the Word made flesh. God revealed and reveals himself to us through his Word, the Bible. A phrase that gets thrown around a lot that I despise is “Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary, use words.” Supposedly St. Francis of Assissi said it. I don’t hate it because he never said that, but because the gospel by definition, requires words. The word we translate as gospel more literally means “good news.” How can you hear news unless someone tells it to you? (Rom. 10:14) So, the only thing that makes a song worshipful or not, is the words. Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the WORD of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” The Word alone and the words alone of the song are what make them useful for worship. Are these songs teaching us truths we see in the Bible?

Most of the complaints I get about the songs we sing on a regular basis are because of the melody or the rhythm being something that someone doesn’t like. A more helpful question to ask is: does this song help me teach those around me the truths of Scripture? If it does and the melody is relatively easy, and the rhythm allows us to catch on quickly, let’s proclaim that truth together, but apart from the words we can’t tell if a song is worshipful or not. How can you ensure that the word of Christ is dwelling in you richly? By paying attention to the words you’re singing!

What Do We Believe?

I have been in the Evangelical Free Church of America for pretty much my whole life. The statement of faith of the denomination is comprised of 10 points that all churches who are a part of the denomination agree to. I took this 10 points and wove them in to our services for 10 weeks to help us remind each other what we believe.

One of the purposes for us to regularly gather together as the church is to both remind each other of the gospel message that transforms us, and encourage each other to live out that gospel message as we continue to be the church scattered throughout our various vocations and locations during the week. We, as finite humans, are forgetful people, who are so easily distracted by the things that are going on around us (Hebrews 12:1), and we need the weekly reminders of what we actually believe, and how that affects our daily lives.

This is part of the reason having something like “The Apostle’s Creed” memorized is so helpful! It’s the early church’s attempt to have a succinct statement about what we as Christians believe. Obviously, this does not explain every detail about God’s story, but it does an amazing job of summarizing what makes Christianity unique.

So at the end of a weekly gathering, are you reminded what you believe? Are you able to encourage others to remember what they believe?