THIN PLACES

Sometime during our lives we all will likely experience a moment so transcendently beautiful that time seems to freeze and the world stands still. The trigger for such a moment can take a thousand forms: a piece of music or a work of art; great literature read aloud; the contemplation of pure math. More often it is the scent of honeysuckle, a perfect sunset, or the face of a child. Marital … [Read more...]

THIN PLACES

Sometime during our lives we all will likely experience a moment so transcendently beautiful that time seems to freeze and the world stands still. The trigger for such a moment can take a thousand forms: a piece of music or a work of art; great literature read aloud; the contemplation of pure math. More often it is the scent of honeysuckle, a perfect sunset, or the face of a child. Marital … [Read more...]

WORSHIP ‘IN TRUTH’

A gracEmail subscriber writes that all believers outside his group are lost and that their worship counts for nothing before God. In support, he quotes Jesus' statement in John 4:24 that God seeks worshippers who worship Him in truth. He says that means following a precise New Testament pattern of external details which his own fellowship (and likely no other) has discovered and accurately … [Read more...]

GOD MOST NIGH

"To this one I will look," God says through Isaiah, "to the one who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word" (Isa. 66:2). God most high is also God most nigh! In the flesh of Jesus of Nazareth he has joined our humanity. By the Spirit of the Risen Jesus Christ he has come to us again. God calls us to celebrate, to rejoice in his presence, to shout with thanksgiving and with … [Read more...]

VERTICAL AND HORIZONTAL

A gracEmail subscriber asks whether believers assemble on Sundays (or at other times) for their own benefit or for God's benefit. * * * We would be wrong to think that God needs what we do when we come together to sing, pray, read Scripture or share the Lord's Supper, as if he were deficient or incomplete without our activities. Yet Scripture repeatedly indicates that the sovereign Creator is … [Read more...]

WITH MIND AND HEART

There were many refreshing aspects to the 2005 Annual Pepperdine University Bible Lectures which I attended last week, beginning with the picturesque mountainside setting overlooking the Pacific Ocean at Malibu, California. Seven gifted preachers fed the mind and stirred the spirit with a variety of sermons from John's Gospel on the theme "Lifted Up." For 13 hours each day we could choose among … [Read more...]

LITURGICAL WORSHIP

I once described my home congregation here in Houston, Texas as "tilted toward the liturgical," and a reader asked what that meant. * * * I really wasn't trying to be fancy. Liturgical, in this context, just means using words that have been thought through and written out in advance, rather than made up on the spur of the moment. Now a generation removed from the hang-loose 60's and spontaneous … [Read more...]

WORSHIP AND THE TRIUNE GOD

A gracEmail subscriber writes, "I like your way of using the great church families to emphasize the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in worship. Would you spell that out again." * * * Different streams of the worldwide Church point us to Father, Son and Holy Spirit respectively, and we would be enriched to appropriate the good which each has to offer. The great Catholic expression of the Church … [Read more...]