Psalms: Our (Re)New Workout

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Some books fill my mind. Others fill my heart.

This week, an excerpt from a MUST-READ for all believers.  N.T. Wright’s The Case for Psalms is eye-opening to the point of introducing the “more mature” Christ-follower, who thinks she’s tasted-and-seen-it-all, to the world of gourmet.

Psalms, dusted off, reinstated, is our renewed workout for transforming the mind, heart and body.  Wonder-full. psalms

For those who wonder if worship is happy-clappy praise all the time, this offers a broader picture. For those of us with concerns over worship devolving into self-focus, Wright explains clearly how this easily & quickly took root in Western culture.

The Psalms are the hymnbook collection of both Judaism and the early Church in private and corporate worship.  Our opportunity to be real and genuine before a loving, involved Creator.

Part of the strange work of the Psalms is to draw the terror and shame of all the ages together to a point where it becomes intense and unbearable, turning itself into a great scream of pain, the pain of Israel, the pain of Adam and Eve, the pain that shouts out, in the most paradoxical act of worship, to ask why God has abandoned it. And then of course the Psalms tell the story of strange vindication, of dramatic reversal, of wondrous rescue, comfort, and restoration.

Click HERE to find it on Amazon.

Resisting Consumer Worship

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consumer_churchIn biblical worship, the Church offers an alternative to a me-centered culture.  It is accepting God’s invitation to encounter Him on His terms, to be reoriented to life in His Kingdom and to taste glimpses of heaven.   Yet in an effort to appear “relevant,” it is easy to turn Christ-centered community into entertainment that attracts consumers who hopefully will sign on to the organization.  Some of my thoughts, and best bits from research this past week…

On Victoria Osteen

“Out of the heart, the mouth speaks.” The Osteen gospel fits hand-in-glove with me-centered American philosophy. But it is worse than heresy; it is trivialization of the One in whom we live and move and have our being. Encased in a facade of spirituality, it is gobbled up like a delicious appetizer by tens of thousands in our culture who do not realize their dish was basted in poison.

From Marva Dawn’s Reaching Out without Dumbing Down

“It is urgent that the Church recognize how easily we assume the self-centered mind-set of the culture that surrounds us and work more deliberately to reject it…This focus on the self is a curious inversion, for in losing God as subject we lost exactly what we need to find genuine self-identity.”

We exist encased in a giant cultural condom.

From Joey Earl Horsman’s article “Channel Too: The Postmodern Yawn,” The Other Side 29

“Modern technology and media have proved to be Valium for our leisure time. They have turned the U.S. into a nation of spectators, more eager to watch life that to participate in it.  We want our art, for instance, to provide distraction rather than require concentration, asking it for either escape of knee-jerk political messages.  We want shock or sleep. Period.  We live in the age of simulation.  For just as shopping malls simulate the great outdoors, replacing sun and trees with fluorescent lights and green plastic “plants,” we simulate danger with amusement park rides, friends or enemies with talk-radio hosts, rebellion with torn jeans and black boots, sex with lewd phone conversations, revolution with improved fabric softeners, and freedom with the newest panty liner. We simulate real life by eliminating risk and commitment, and end up mistaking what is real for what is only artificial. We exist, that is, encased in a giant cultural condom.”

From  C. Welton Gaddy’s The Gift of Worship

“Worship is a gift between lovers who keep on giving to each other.”

A Pastor’s/Worship Leader’s Essential Checklist before Sunday:

  • Center on God
  • Glorify Christ
  • Involve the people
  • Express praise
  • Communicate the truth of the Bible
  • Encourage faith
  • Promise redemption
  • Reflect the Incarnation
  • Build up the Church
  • Instill vision
  • Make an offering
  • Nurture communion
  • Evoke an “Amen”

From John Piper’s, Brothers, We are Not Professionals

“It boils down to this: we either make much of Him, or much of us.”