Oct 24, 2014

The Lord Is for Me

Psalm 118:1-29
Psalm 118 was written in the context of hostility. The unnamed psalm writer was facing threats from his enemies who hated him and sought to kill him. But the Lord rescued and protected him (118:6-13). Yet in the midst of his struggle, when the outcome wasn’t clear from a human...Read more +
Oct 23, 2014

How Can I Sing to the Lord from My Heart?

Ephesians 5:18-19
According to Ephesians 5:18-19, as we are filled with the Spirit, we will, among other things, “sing and make music from [our] heart to the Lord.” What does it mean to sing to the Lord, indeed, to worship God from our hearts? It’s good to ask this kind of question...Read more +
Oct 22, 2014

Avoiding the “Audience Temptations” of Worship, Part 2

Ephesians 5:18-19
In yesterday’s reflection , we considered the first of two “audience temptations” of worship, the temptation to consider ourselves as the primary audience for worship. Indeed, that is God’s place and prerogative. We are the performers who honor and delight the Lord through our worship. The second “audience temptation” is...Read more +
Oct 21, 2014

Avoiding the Audience Temptations of Worship, Part 1

Ephesians 5:18-19
In yesterday’s reflection , we considered an analogy from the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. He said that when it comes to worship, God is the true audience. We who gather are the performers. Those who lead—pastors, choirs, bands, readers—are the prompters of worship. This notion of worship fits well with...Read more +
Oct 20, 2014

Who Is the Audience for Worship?

Ephesians 5:18-19
If you were to eavesdrop on the conversations of churchgoers after a typical worship service, you’d hear comments like, “I loved the band this morning” or “The choir was a little off” or “The sermon was great” or “Pastor Mark missed it this morning.” If you didn’t know anything about...Read more +
Oct 17, 2014

Worship With Transparent Windows

Psalm 117:1-2
One of the greatest challenges and joys of my life was leading a church during the building of a sanctuary, the space many would now call a “ worship center .” When I began my tenure as pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church, the first major item on my plate was...Read more +
Oct 16, 2014

Sing to the Lord!

Ephesians 5:18-19
I grew up singing lots of wonderful songs in church, Sunday School, and youth group: “Jesus loves me, this I know … Deep and wide, deep and wide … Trust and obey, for there’s no other way … On a hill far away, stood an old rugged cross … The...Read more +
Oct 15, 2014

You Have a Hard Time Praying, Don’t You?

Ephesians 5:18-19
About twenty-five years ago, I had lunch with Henri Nouwen. If you’re not familiar with this name, he was a spiritual writer who influenced millions upon millions of Christians to grow in our relationship with God. He was truly one of my heroes of the faith. The occasion of our...Read more +
Oct 14, 2014

Why the Worship Wars Never Should Have Happened

Ephesians 5:18-19
I believe that the infamous “worship wars” never should have happened. Which wars are these? If you study church history, you’ll discover that we Christians have been fighting over worship for centuries, bless our hearts. But I’m thinking specifically of the so-called “worship wars” that erupted in the 1970s and...Read more +
Oct 13, 2014

How Can We Speak to Each Other With Songs for Worship?

Ephesians 5:18-19
At first glance, Ephesians 5:19 seems to be confusing, if not just plain confused. According to this verse, we are to be filled with the Spirit, “speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.” The verse goes on to say that we should also “sing and...Read more +