In Revelation’s 404 verses . . .

by Eugene Peterson

And here is something that never ceases to astonish me.  The Revelation has 404 verses.  In those 404 verses, there are 518 references to earlier scripture.  But there is not a single quote; all the references are allusions.  Here was a pastor and writer who was absolutely immersed in scripture andsubmitted himself to it.  He did not merely repeat, regurgitate, proof-text.  As he wrote, the scriptures were re-created in him.  He assimilated scripture.  Lived scripture.  And then he wrote what he has lived…

~ ’The Pastor, p 245

Biblical Worship: Lifestyle-Oriented

I just came across this blog and found a very good article that is worth us all reading and pondering. It has much good instruction. The words of the song really capture “worship”. It can be played and listened to with the link at the end (ti shows the words as the groups sings. Might be a heavy beat for some of you, but the message is worth the listen. There are links to other parts of the series at the end. I have not checked them out yet, but if they are as good as this one, it would be worth your time.

Written By Ben, 27 December 2011

A few years ago, the band Casting Crowns released an anthem that really gets to the heart of worship.  It was called “Lifesong” and part of the lyrics said this:

Empty hands held high,
Such small sacrifice;
If not joined with my life,
I sing in vain tonight.

May the words I say,
And the things I do,
Make my lifesong sing,
Bring a smile to You

Let my lifesong sing to You;
Let my lifesong sing to You;
I want to sign Your name to the end of this day
Knowing that my heart was true.
Let my lifesong sing to You

What I love about that song is the fact it captures so beautifully that true worship is a 24/7 thing, which leads to our next essential:  biblical worship is lifestyle-oriented.

One of the great temptations in the life of a worshipper is compartmentalizing.  We tend to think that worship is that hour we sit, sing, and soak on Sunday mornings, and we often measure the quality of our worship by how high the emotion got in the service.  You hear people say things like, “God really showed up today.  Brother Luther ran the aisles, Sister Doo fell out in the floor, and I just couldn’t quit crying.”  Is that the measure of biblical worship?  No way!  Is biblical worship confined to just that hour?  No way!  That hour should spill over into and be a continuation of the other 167 hours in the week.  Biblical worship is a lifesong!

God through Paul speaks of this very thing in Romans 12:1Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  Every second of our lives reflects how worthy and valuable we think God is.  Therefore, we must live accordingly.  Worship is more than a song.  It’s a lifestyle.

The high stakes of every second of our lives being worship is why Paul is so strong here.  He “urges” us.  He’s begging, pleading, entreating, beseeching, encouraging.  He’s saying, “This is urgent!  This is serious!”  I believe Paul knew well our tendency to compartmentalize our lives:

  • When I’m with my spouse, I put on my spouse hat.
  • When I’m with my kids, I put on my parent hat.
  • When I’m at work, I put on my work hat.
  • When I’m at school, I put on my school hat.
  • When I’m with friends, I put on my friend hat.
  • When I’m at church, I put on my church hat.

Sadly, you might get a different person with every hat.  The person you are at church might be grieved by the person you are work.  The person you are with your kids might be disgusted by the person you are with your friends.

The problem isn’t the fact that you change hats because that’s just a part of life.  The problem is that in some roles people often choose to take off their robe of white.  They pull it out when it’s necessary but put it away when it’s inconvenient.  Under one hat, they have on their robe of white and are telling God He is of greatest worth and value; under another hat, they take their robe of white off and are telling God He is of little, if any, worth or value.  God doesn’t care as much which hat you put on as long as you wear the robe of white every second of the day!

That’s what Paul means when he tells us to present our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God.  The picture here that Paul uses is of the Old Testament ritual offerings in the Tabernacle and Temple, the language of the Levitical priesthood. According to the Law, a Jew would bring his offering of an animal to the priest, who would then take it, slay it, and place it on the altar in behalf of the person who brought it.  You see, sacrifices to God don’t compartmentalize their lives.  They are 100% dead to the world and 100% for God.

That’s how we are to be in worship as well.  Our lives in worship should be 100% dead to the world and 100% for God.  We are to be as Paul was in Galatians 2:20I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Obviously, there’s one big difference between an Old Covenant sacrifice and the sacrifice that Paul is calling us to here under the New Covenant.  Paul calls us to be a “living sacrifice.”  An Old Covenant sacrifice required the death of the thing being offered.  God, however, doesn’t desire for us to die in sacrificial dedication to Him.  He wants us to live in sacrificial dedication to Him.  Of course, for one to live in such a way, there must be a spiritual death—a death to self-will (Mark 8:34).

Friend, every second of every day you live, you are worshipping something.  You are either worshipping God, or you are worshipping something else.  As some of you read this, you truly want to worship God every second.  Therefore, you are making plans to quit your job, sell your home, and join a monastery so that you can concentrate on God all day long and do those cool monk chants.  Please don’t!  Rather, expand your idea of worship.  It’s a lifestyle!

Listen to Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:31Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.  That means you can turn a wrench and worship God.  You can drive piece of machinery and worship God.  You can punch those keys and worship God.  You can teach those kids and worship God.  How?  Do it all to the glory of God in the spirit of Christ.  That’s being a living sacrifice.  That’s worship that is lifestyle-oriented!

Links to previous posts in this series:

The Church – A Pillar of Truth

by Gary Gilley

One of the things that separate the church from all other organizations is that it is to be the pillar and support of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15). The congregation not functioning as the support and dispenser of truth falls short of the biblical criteria for a local church; therefore the assembly which does not major on truth does not fit the definition of a New Testament church. Its attendance may be “mega,” its programs prolific, its enthusiasm contagious, and its motives honorable, but if it is not the pillar and support of truth it fails in its job description as a church. Call it a club, a social gathering, a political awareness group, a socially concerned assembly, or an entertainment center, but don’t call it a church.
Think on These Things, November 2008

We are His fingers and muscles

by CS Lewis

Christians are the physical organism through which Christ acts. We are His fingers and muscles, the cells of His body.

Your Real Power is in Christ

by Octavius Winslow

There is one truth connected with our subject fraught with the richest encouragement to God’s people. It is this- Christ is so Almighty that He knows how to stoop to, and to sympathize with, the weakest strength of His saints. Listen to His recognition of this- “You have a little strength.” Who speaks thus? The almighty God, the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last. What! does the Almighty One, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, take cognizance of my little strength? Yes, beloved, He despises not the day of small things, and overlooks not the little strength of His saints, yes, even those who have no might. How should this encourage you to use the little that you have in working out your own salvation, in making your calling and your election sure, and in laborings to bring souls to Christ! Jesus regards with ineffable delight your little faith and love, your little knowledge and experience, your feeble endeavors to serve and honor Him, since that little is the divine fruit of His Spirit, and the free gift of His grace. But do not be content to remain where you are. “Let the weak say I am strong.” “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

All your real power is in Christ. In His strength you can do great things for God, and suffer great things for Jesus. Bring your strong corruptions to His grace, and your little strength to His omnipotence, and your very weakness shall turn to your account by drawing you into a closer alliance with the Lord in whom you have righteousness and strength. Thus you will be taught to understand the apostle’s sacred paradox- “When I am weak, then am I strong.”

Emmanuel, or The TItles of Christ

A 300 Year Old Prayer for The Difficult Seasons of Life

Got this from the Itching Ear blog

The following  prayer was first offered back in the   1700′s.  It is from the largely forgotten deposit of the Puritan Movement of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  These people knew God and they knew how to pray.  We can learn a lot from them. They are written in old english.  I have updated  a few outdated words and changed the Thee’s and Thou’s to make it more 2011.  However, they still have the feel of that era.   This prayer, titled ’The Valley of Vision’,  along with many others, can be found in a book titled “The Valley of Vision”, by Arthur Bennett.

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly,

You have brought me to the valley of vision,

where I live in the depths but see You in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Your glory.

Let me learn by paradox

that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine;

Let me find Your light in my darkness,

Your life in my death,
Your joy in my sorrow,
Your grace in my sin,
Your riches in my poverty,
Your glory in my valley.


Here is a link to a good blog article on Bible study by  at Credo House blog.

The following is a practical guide to biblical interpretation following a three step process that I have used for years. The Bible is two-thousand years old and often seems very archaic. This makes it hard to know how it applies to us. It can be very frustrating as all Christians are encouraged to read their Bible daily but often are at a loss as to how to understand it and apply the message to their own lives. This process has served me well and I believe it is representative of the best way to interpret the ancient word of God and apply it to today. I hope that it will alleviate some of the “Bible interpretation anxiety” that is out there, allowing the Bible to become real and relevant to your life.


To see the charts and much more information you need to go to his site at

How to worship when you think the songs suck

by Nathaniel Claiborne at Think Theologically

You might gather from the title, rightly so, that there are worship songs out there, sung frequently, that I think are less than stellar. One might even say I think they suck. To be clear, when I say “suck” in this sense, I mean, according to entry #11 on, that they are “repellent” to me. In other words, the lameness of either the lyrics or music repels my artistic sensibilities for one reason or another.

The question then is this: How do you worship when you feel that way about one or all of the songs selected on a given Sunday?

One option you might take is to leave that particular church. My home church in Tennessee experienced a mass exodus back in the late 90′s when we moved the music in a more contemporary direction and added some pretty hardcore elements like electric drums and acoustic guitars. Many people were just a bit too conservative to tolerate this kind of liberal inclusion of instruments besides the piano.

Taking this route does help when you feel that the genre your church chooses to worship in is repellent (=sucks to you). However, the larger question I am asking concerns song choices. Certainly the people who left our church back in the 20th century would still occasionally have to endure a rendition of a hymn they didn’t particularly care for. Or heaven forbid, their new church began using “praise choruses,” which is to say that church just moved one step closer to the edge of modernity (=becoming liberal).

When this happens, one would be faced with finding a new church yet again.

Clearly then, this option doesn’t work for the long term, unless you enjoy church hopping. Whether you are moving away from a church because you dislike the genre, or moving to a new church because you like that genre of worship music better, you will eventually encounter worship sets that are not to your liking.

So what do you do when you that happens more than you would like?

For me, its not so often that I think the songs actually suck. Its usually either that I find them musically boring or lyrically vapid. Part of this is the point T. David Gordon was trying to make in Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns. The medium of modern worship music (its genre) caters to a message that is not all that deep. I would respond that while this is true of many worship songs out there, it is not necessarily true. Pop music lyrics haven’t always been vapid, they just tend to be frivolous and naively emotional in recent days and I think some of this trickles down into worship music. This is what gives rise to “Jesus is my girlfriend” worship songs, which we can, or should, all agree need to stop.

The other issue with some worship music is that it is musically boring. This is another way of saying that the music lacks aesthetic panache, which is a more complicated way of saying all the songs sound the same. Not all the songs, but most songs are primarily written in major keys, use either E or G shapes on the acoustic guitar and are capo-ed to change keys as needed. Tempo-wise they all fall within a certain range, and rhythmically, speaking as a drummer, there are probably only about 3 to 4 drum beats you need to master to play drums in a worship band (unless your band plays In Christ Alone, which is an excellent song, and a bear to play drums to).

Certainly I am speaking with some level of hyperbole. Contemporary worship music is not all that bad. I’ve mainly spoken in generalities to avoid saying something like, “Here’s a list of worship songs that I think suck” and then you see your favorite one on there and never read my blog again. Since I can’t change the songs that I think are lame, and since I do not pick the songs we sing at church, I’ll just stay mum on which ones I think go on that list. Also, if I publicly slam certain songs, the next time our worship leader picks one of them to play on Sunday and I happen to be playing, (and if he’s read this blog), he’ll be thinking in the back of his mind “Oh man, Nate hates this song.”

And that my friend, brings us to the point. “How do I worship when I think the songs suck?” you might ask. Well first off, you don’t express that you think the songs suck to anyone else. You may ruin a genuine worshipful experience for them by your complaining. While they were perfectly fine worshipping to that particular song, your comments could forever taint it for them. You are certainly free to mentally critique the artistic and theological merits of the songs you sing each Sunday. But when you decide one or more are duds, don’t rain on everyone else’s parade.

The church has enough people complaining about enough things. If you don’t possess the artistic ability to write new worship songs that don’t suck, then just keep your mouth shut. Also, if you can’t write songs, you probably are not the best judge of what sucks and what doesn’t when it comes to music.

However, if you’re like me, and you can and do write music, and are therefore qualified to critique the musical merits of worship music, I would still say, if you can’t contribute to a solution, you’re just creating another problem. If the quality of the songs bothers you that much, then write new ones. We need new songs written outside the genre box that exhibit a lyrical and musical depth that is on the whole lacking in many (but not all) worship contexts.

This still leaves the question though of “how do I worship when I think the songs suck?” The answer, in short, is that the worship set wasn’t picked for you, and part of being in community of believers gathered to worship is forfeiting your preferences in deference to others. A prime example of this is theologian John Frame. While a classically trained organist who doesn’t like contemporary worship music, Frame nonetheless argues for its legitimate place in worship services. I’m sure he might cringe as well at some of the current praise choruses that are popular out there, but out of love for his brothers and sisters in Christ, he lays down his preferences and worships alongside those who sing songs he might not particularly like.

I think this is the ultimate answer to the question. When you think the songs suck, you can still, and should still worship God as fervently and freely as you would when its your absolute favorite song being sung. You may however need to mortify your critical spirit and get over yourself first, but you should still strive to worship God through song each Sunday whether you particularly like the selections or not.

Jesus didn’t die on the cross so you could sing your favorite songs every Sunday. He died so that you might learn to die to self as well. Part of doing that might just be singing songs you don’t like, and singing them as genuinely as the songs you do.

Glory to God in the highest

by Spurgeon

“Glory to God in the highest!” What is the instructive lesson to be learned from this first syllable of the angels’ song? Why this, that salvation is God’s highest glory!

  • He is glorified in every dew drop that twinkles in the morning sun.
  • He is magnified in every wood flower that blossoms in the copse, although it live to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness in the forest air.
  • God is glorified in every bird that warbles on the spray; in every lamb that skips the mead.
  • Do not the fishes in the sea praise him? From the tiny minnow to the huge Leviathan, do not all creatures that swim the water bless and praise his name?
  • Do not all created things extol him? Is there aught beneath the sky, save man, that doth not glorify God?
  • Do not the stars exalt him, when they write his name upon the azure of heaven in their golden letters?
  • Do not the lightnings adore him when they flash his brightness in arrows of light piercing the midnight darkness? Do not thunders extol him when they roll like drums in the march of the God of armies?
  • Do not all things exalt him, from the least even to the greatest?

But sing, sing, oh universe, till thou hast exhausted thyself, thou canst not afford a song so sweet as the song of Incarnation.

Though creation may be a majestic organ of praise, it cannot reach the compass of the golden canticle—Incarnation! There is more in that than in creation, more melody in Jesus in the manger, than there is in worlds on worlds rolling their grandeur round the throne of the Most High.

Pause Christian, and consider this a minute. See how every attribute is here magnified.

  • Lo! what wisdom is here. God becomes man that God may be just, and the justifier of the ungodly.
  • Lo! what power, for where is power so great as when it concealeth power? What power, that Godhead should unrobe itself and become man!
  • Behold, what love is thus revealed to us when Jesus becomes a man.
  • Behold ye, what faithfulness! How many promises are this day kept? How many solemn obligations are this hour discharged?

Tell me one attribute of God that is not manifest in Jesus; and your ignorance shall be the reason why you have not seen it so. The whole of God is glorified in Christ; and though some part of the name of God is written in the universe, it is here best read—in Him who was the Son of Man, and, yet, the Son of God.

~ Christmas Day, 1857

Why we are so ineffective in this world

by CS Lewis

It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.