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Worshipers in the Hands of an Angry God

Worship and the Book of Revelation

We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign. “And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth. 
It is easy to assume anger is a negative thing. 

Should We Participate in Devil Worship this Week?

There is absolutely no doubt all believers should be against it.  Against it from top to bottom.   We should not only not do it, we need to confront any who claim to be Christian and yet go along with the rest of our heathen society in doing it.  It dishonors God and has to be labeled as a sin. The reasons are clear and simple.

Where's Grandpa? Talking to Children about Death

[This post, dealing with the sensitive question of how to address the subject of death with young children, is written by Linda Lawson.  She is on the faculty of Ozark Christian College and teaches in the area of Children's Ministry.] 
       Solomon Grundy
       Born on Monday
       Christened on Tuesday
       Married on Wednesday
       Took ill on Thursday
       Worse on Friday
       Died on Saturday
       Buried on Sunday
       And this is the end of
       Solomon Grundy

The Withdrawal of Death from Childhood
       Of the more than five hundred “Nursery Rhymes” preserved in the Oxford Book of Nursery Rhymes, more than one out of ten, like Solomon Grundy, deal directly with death. 

Contemporary is Getting Old

Contemporary getting old?  Well, certainly for some people this may be true.  But there is another sense it which it is true for everyone.  Contemporary music is increasingly tapping into the ancient history of worship to recover lyrics and thoughts the move beyond the "dating Jesus" lyrics of earlier decades.

The exciting song of both Christ's resurrection and our spiritual rebirth by Matt Maher and Mia Fields,  Christ is Risen, reflects Maher's deep roots in the classic liturgy of worship.

A Crucifix in Church?

      If you look up in Sunday worship next week and see a large crucifix, you can be pretty sure you are not in an Evangelical or even mainline Protestant church.  Crucifixes are Roman Catholic.  Well, they are found in some other groups, like Anglican or among some Orthodox.  But, it would still be accurate to say a crucifix is not what most non-Catholics in America expect to see this coming Lord's Day.

Preaching in a Hallway

My best sermons are hallways.  My worst are houses.

I discovered long ago something unexpected about sermon preparation.  Often, when I am coming to a sermon topic that has produced intense interest and so was given a much greater than usual amount of preparation, something ironic happens. What comes out of this much more than normal pre-sermon ends up being a much less than normal sermon.  In fact, describing these sermons as just sub-normal might be overly kind.  These are sermons I suddenly find myself thinking while speaking, "Just stop.  Stop right now.  Stop and apologize.  Send them home."  And, I know in my heart they'd all be grateful.

Awakened by Deep Worship

We know from the men and women who have walked long on the paths of devotion, we should never think of the deepest worship as something rehearsed, or controlled.  They remind us the truly deep moments are not those times we are lifted to to mountain peaks to happily dance among the angels.  Those are great times of worship.  But, they are not the deepest times.

I kept a journal of that first long year after Robin unexpectedly died.  It's on the bookshelf right in front of me. I still pull it down from time to time to read over the pages of scribbled thoughts, trying to remember the man I was.

The deep moments of worship are never fun and rarely planned.  They sometimes emerge out of suffering or loss. If an image comes to mind, it's like being torn open until the darkest part of our soul lies exposed before the white-hot light of God.

It is those moments that leave us  trembling and strangely changed.  Like moths drawn toward the flame, in deepest worship we are pulled toward something so beautiful it truly hurts.  Just like Anthony and Francis and Teresa discovered centuries ago, agony and ecstasy are so sublimely intertwined, we cannot hold onto one without embracing the other.  Easter must stand alongside Gethsemane.  Both or neither.

A Watchman's Confession

"Son of dust,
I have appointed you
as a watchman for Israel." 

Ezekiel 3:17

The old man thought for a moment, and then continued to write out his sermon for Sunday:

A watchman always stands on something high, so that he can see off in the distance whatever might be coming.  It’s hard to preach this.  My own words come back to judge me.  I cannot preach that well.  But, when I do, I still face the fact that I do not live up to what I’m saying…

Phony-Baloney in Church

“We have to protect our 
phony-baloney jobs here, gentlemen!  
We must do something 
about this immediately!”  
– William J. Le Petomane 
in Ã‰tudes Théologiques et Selles Flammes (1974).

The church I serve as an interim pastor has lovely flowers up front at various places on the stage.  They add a certain attractiveness to the overall effect.   They are beautiful because, of course, they are not real.