Emotion in Worship

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We white American Baptists/baptists tend to eschew displays of emotion in worship. Why? Why would we not at least occasionally demonstrate some physical response to profound gratitude, joy, conviction, etc., while hearing or singing the gospel? And yet, it is so rare among us….

I think we need to work toward a change in our typical white baptist ethos about worship, inviting people to cry, to raise their hands, to kneel, to say an “amen” or a “hallelujah” if they feel so led. But I don’t think just inviting it will do much; I think the worship leaders will need to find ways to incorporate some emotional displays, done decently and in order, into the worship—using the choir and/or worship team.

Too much white baptist worship is inclined toward the mind and the will avoiding any attempt to touch the emotions. I suspect much of that has to do with not wanting to be thought of as fanatics, but to me that’s a shame—to be controlled by what others might think.

– via Roger E. Olson

The 5 Minute Moments

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Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

 

As your kids get older you will find that you need to master the tiny moments in time where your family all comes together. In our family, due to work schedules, sport schedules, homework, church responsibilities, and ministry, we don’t get opportunities to have dinner or family night as much as we did when our kids were young. In those days we spent entire weekends together. Now we long for a convergence to take place that is similar (and as rare) as planets aligning in space. So, we treasure the 5-Minute moments.

The first moment is from 6:45-6:50AM. Seth is almost headed out the door to catch his bus. Grace has come down from her morning shower, head wet and still groggy. Seth, being the morning person, likes to dance about our cat-like daughter who paws at him as a tabby cat would. Everyone talks about their day ahead and the morning anthem is called out as it is every morning as people leave, “Go get ’em!”

The second moment is after school from 4:30-4:35PM (only on M-W-F). The kids, and mom, come home from school and tell of their day around the kitchen table as they scarf down anything that isn’t claimed for leftovers dinner that night. If I’m kind, I’d have made ice cream cookie sandwiches that the kids love and eat quickly before their evening responsibilities. The talk is about how the day went, which kid has more homework, the night time schedule, and how much pressure we put on them to succeed. They usually find their corners of the house after this to warm themselves in the glow of their favorite screen before they leave for the evening.

Ephesians 5:15-16 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity…

The last 5-Minute moment is from 9:45-9:50PM. The day is done and we all sit on the bed in our bedroom and wallow in our fatigue from full days. There are tears sometimes, scoldings too, but mostly it is a time of love and stories. We laugh at a funny event explained by one of us, or an observation of stupidity noticed in the day. This five minutes is so important and seems like everyone wishes it would last longer. People linger until they have to find their own beds to find rest to prepare for the next day, and the next 5-Minute Moment.

So, what are the core values of 5-Minute Moments?

  • Listening (make sure they are talking more than you)
  • Empathy (Karla says start there. Understand them and their situation)
  • Upbeat (Push for positive, but recognize the negative)
  • Food (It makes them stay around longer—like bears)
  • Touch (Try to hug, pat, squeeze their Charmin, etc.)
  • Focused (eliminate all distractions, namely phones)

The Cosmic Battle

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We can begin to understand why God must allow humans to inflict suffering on one another and the animal kingdom, for without free will we wouldn’t have the capacity to love. But why would an all-good God create a world in which animals survive by inflicting incredible suffering on other animals? Why would a loving God create a world in which innumerable parasites, viruses, diseases, and genetic mutations torment and kill millions of adults, children, and animals every year? And why would a beneficent Creator allow “natural” disasters like earthquakes, tsunami’s, hurricanes, droughts, and famines to afflict nightmarish suffering on millions of humans and animals? All of these aspects of nature deserve a place in Darwin’s hypothetical book of nature, written by “the Devil’s Chaplain,” for all seem to reflect the character of a malevolent Devil more than the character of an all-good, all-loving and all-powerful God.
– via Greg Boyd – ReKnew

The Obligation Objective

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Recently in studying for an upcoming sermon series I was in Romans 1. Romans for most pastors is like a juicy steak: they like to cut big bites, let the flavors settle in, chew slowly and keep eating. However, this particular instance I was challenged by just a phase. Actually not even a phrase, but a word in that phrase.

Roman 1:13  I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish.

Paul is letting the Roman church know that he is eager to get involved in the work that they are doing and that he, too, has a mission. His mission isn’t just to Jewish people, but in fact to ALL people (Gentiles). He write in Romans 1:14 that he is “obligated” to reach all types of people (Greeks and Barbarians) of all different types of backgrounds (wise and foolish). The word obligated stuck out to me. In it’s Greek form (opheiletēs) it means that a person is indebted. That they are someone who has done something wrong and they have to make up for it. This spurred many thoughts in my soul as I enjoyed the marinated juiciness of this peace of truth-steak!

First, although most modern believers love to sit in the grace that our salvation in Christ brings, I am challenged that I owe God everything because of what He did for me through Jesus. I, too, am obligated to live a life that is in complete obedience to him (sharing Christ with others included). This rubs some people wrongly when they feel like they have to “work” for their salvation. But that isn’t what Paul is saying. He is letting his readers know that such an amazing miracle of transformation took place in his life because of what God did, he is compelled to live his life in thankful, obligated gratitude.

Have you ever had your life saved by someone? Have you walked out in front of a car, or started slipping on a cliff’s edge toward cetain doom? Or, maybe you have received the internal organ from someone who has donated it to your benefit? These are just small examples of what it might feel like to be indebted to someone for saving your life. Now, think about the eternal nature of your life. God saved you eternally from a horrific ending apart from him. He, instead, had his son experience it. This should heighten our level of appreciated, and in turn our obligation to Him. I must admit I do not spend my days in the weight of that obligation objective.

Secondly, Paul’s obligation to God showed itself in evangelistic application. Paul felt compelled to share what had been done to him with others. I can imagine him meeting someone for the first time and saying, “let me tell you how God brought me back from death” or “let me tell you about when my eyes were really opened to who Jesus really is”. Paul had a story to tell and that story had him as one of the main characters. His obligation to Greeks and barbarians is actually a mirror reflection of how he saw himself. Paul saw it as imperative to reach these people with the gospel.

In his book, The Master Plan of Evangelism, Robert C. Coleman puts it this way:

“Christian disciples are sent men and women—sent out in the same work of world evangelism to which the Lord was sent, and for which he gave his life. Evangelism is not an optional accessory to our life. It is the heartbeat of all that we are called to be and do. It is the commission of the church that gives meaning to all else that is undertaken in the name of Christ. With this purpose clearly in focus, everything that is done and said has glorious fulfillment of God’s redemptive purpose—educational institutions, social programs, hospitals, church meetings of any kind—everything done in the name of Christ has its justification in fulfilling this mission.”

He sees our obligation as what should propel us to share Christ. And not just share it, but share it with EVERYONE!

Paul was highly intelligent. He was studied in numerous ways—just like the Greeks. But, there is also a barbarian in Paul. Don’t forget that he is the one who plotted the deaths of inumerous Christians when the church first got started. He had barbarian ways. When he says that he is obligated to Greeks and barbarians, he is seeing himself in them and saying “If God can save me, He can save you!” When we reflect on who we were before we were saved, or who we could have become, we should be motivated to reach out to those like us who need Christ. We should be asking ourselves “Who are my Greeks and barbarians”, “who are the people who don’t know Christ that I see in myself”?

Paul knew what his Obligation Objective was. He knew what he was saved from, and who he needed to help save. Do I?

A Prayer for the Preacher

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Every Sunday morning, on my way to my office in preparation for another great Sunday at Westwind Church, I spend time praying for every pastor I can think of (or that God brings to mind) whether I know who they are or not. Sometimes it is just praying for the person who leads the church I pass by in my car. I do this because it helps me understand the daunting task of bringing the Gospel to the twenty-first century.

What do I pray? Here is the prayer that I say in my mind for all who bring the message of Jesus each week:

“God, I pray that you would speak through the pastor of this church as they bring your Word to a searching generation. I pray that you would protect them from any attack from the Evil One, and allow them to lead with a servants heart in the church that you have given.”

We should all be praying for the pastors in the country and around the world. 

The Serial Innovator

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The “serial innovator”. Is there anything more enticing than that to a leader? No matter what lies ahead, they want to move forward. They are able to weather the storm and keep their passengers and crew motivated.

Fear Defined

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On most occasions when I read Tweets I role my eyes at the fortune cookie philosophical and spiritual advice that people give (including me!). However recently I read a simple definition of FEAR written by @GarrherSampson that had me thinking for a while.

Fear is vision without optimism. When all you see is everything that can go wrong all you act on is what can destroy you.

What intrigued me is that fear is actually foreseeing a bleak future instead of a positive one. Fear, like @GarrhetSampson says is VISION.

The reason I was so enthralled with this concept is that there are times I let fear be my motivating factor for doing something, sometimes without even realizing it.

  • I am fearful that a person might not like a decision I also make as a pastor, so I push it off
  • I am fearful that I will be obsolete in my role as husband and father so I dig an emotional foxhole and hide out in it.
  • I am fearful that I would lead a church in the wrong direction so I don’t lead them at all.

These are just a fear of the ways that I set a vision of fear around me.

For so long I was taught that vision was this great a mighty thing that leaders used to propel people toward an amazing future, however, I see that fear can also be used for the same thing. Isn’t that how we are being led this political season? Aren’t we being forced by both candidates to think fearfully about our futures and trust them to overcome the fears that they have created in our minds?

I will be examining my fears–looking deep into what gives me pause, what changes my direction, and what gets me running away. Once I know them, I can face them with true leadership, truth and confidence in an optimistic future.

Separating Calvinists and Arminians in One Sentence

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Ever wonder what separates Calvist and Arminians in a succinct statement?

Jerry Walls, in his book, writes “The deepest issue that divides Arminians and Calvinists is not the sovereignty of God, predestination, or the authority of the Bible. The deepest difference pertains to how we understand the character of God. Is God good in the sense that he deeply and sincerely loves all persons?”
– via Roger E. Olson

Bibliography
Dongell, Joseph. Why I’m Not a Calvinist
Olson, Roger. Against Calvinism

Seven Deadly Combos

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I have no idea where I received this graphic, but I came across it the other day and it made me think about the implications of sin. Everyday we are faced with sin from all sides and it can hurt us more than we know. This graphic reminds me to stay diligent in holiness. Even though whoever drew this was trying to be amusing, there is much to say about letting sin creep into our lives at all angles.

 

 

 

As a spiritual leader, we should walk through this list and “see if there be any wicked way in me” (Psalm 139:24). Daily repentence requires self examination. Maybe that is why I kept this. Because it reminds me of that.