Category Archives: Theology

Book Recommendations on Corporate Worship

Since I have been busy with traveling for work, I haven’t been able to post much here, so I thought I would post a list of the books I have read over the past couple of years on corporate worship/the Lord’s day/practical theology.  As I read more, I will add more.

Here is the list in the order I have read them:

1.  A Better Way:  Rediscovering the Drama of Christ-Centered Worship by Michael Horton

Better way

2.  The Lord’s Day by Joseph A. Pipa Jr.

The Lord's Day

3.  Revealed to Babes:  Children in the Worship of God by Richard Bacon

revealed to babes

4.  With Reverence and Awe:  Returning to the Basics of Reformed Worship by D.G. Hart and John R. Muether

with reverence and awe

5.  Singing the Songs of Jesus:  Revisiting the Psalms by Michael Lefebvre

singing songs of jesus

6.  Gospel Worship by Jeremiah Burroughs

Gospel Worship

The following were added 6/23/15:

7.  The Day of Worship:  Reassessing the Christian Life in Light of the Sabbath by Ryan M. McGraw

 mcgraw

8.  Welcome to a Reformed Church:  A Guide for Pilgrims by Daniel R. Hyde

 Hyde

9.  Recovering the Reformed Confession:  Our Theology, Piety, and Practice by R. Scott Clark

clark

10.  Worshipping with Calvin:  Recovering the Historic Ministry and Worship of Reformed Protestantism by Terry L. Johnson

johnson

And finally, Ligon Duncan has done a wonderful blog series on Gathered Worship.

Bible-259x180

Thoughts on the Elements used in Communion: The Bread and the Win…Welch’s®?

SONY DSC

Let me start this post by putting it out there–I believe that wine should be used by the Church when it comes together to commune in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.  I know that there are Christians who do not hold to this (most likely, many reading this).  But when the word wine is used in scripture related to the Lord’s Supper, I have not come across a good, exegetical argument for the use of grape juice as the element of the cup.

I recently was involved in a conversation where the concern was brought up about what to do with alcoholics in the church who wish to partake of communion, but might not if wine is used.  And I will be honest, this concern baffled me.  Why?  Not because I don’t have concern for those who struggle with alcohol (I am the last person who would lack empathy for those who struggle with a particular sin), but because it seems to show lack of faith in the power of the Gospel and the work of the Spirit in sanctification!

The Lord’s Supper is a tangible way the Gospel is preached to Christians. When we partake of communion, we are having the Gospel preached to us with physical representations that we can touch, see, taste, and smell, and which point to Christ’s death and atonement for our sins.  The Westminster Confession of Faith puts it this way,

“Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements, in this sacrament, do then also, inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally but spiritually, receive, and feed upon, Christ crucified, and all benefits of his death: the body and blood of Christ being then, not corporally or carnally, in, with, or under the bread and wine; yet, as really, but spiritually, present to the faith of believers in that ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their outward senses.”

The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation!  Do we not preach the Gospel in our churches?  Should we not preach the Gospel to all, including alcoholics?   The Gospel is the means God uses to transforms lives.  His Spirit works in the believer to sanctify them, enabling “more and more to die unto sin and live unto righteousness” (WSC Q35).  Do we truly believe this?  And if we truly believe this, we will be faithful to worship him using the elements he has outlined in his Word.

Throughout Old Testament history, when Israel was faithful and kept the religious festivals as God commanded and worshiped God according to His statutes, God protected them, and restrained their enemies from taking advantage of the fact that they were largely undefended.  From that we can be assured today that God will protect His people, His children, from stumbling into sin through their faithful observance of the sacrament.

To buy into the idea that alcoholics should abstain from participating in communion if wine is used is allowing the Big Book a higher place in the life of Christians who struggle with alcohol than the God’s Word, and that’s a slippery slope that needs to be avoided at all costs.

Musings on a Favorite Song

I’ve become quite a fan of the band NEEDTOBREATHE.  If you haven’t heard these guys, you really are missing out—impressive vocals and enjoyable instrumentation.  My current favorite song is from their latest album, Rivers in the Wasteland, and is called “Multiplied.”  When I hear a new song, I try to spend time focusing on the meaning of the lyrics.  And this is particularly true when it comes to singing songs about God.  After all, because of who He is, I want to be sure that what I am singing is true and reverent and honors the King of the universe, the Lord of all creation.

So, as I’ve listened to “Multiplied” over and over again over the last few weeks, one line keeps jumping out at me—“God of Mercy sweet love of mine/I have surrendered to your design.”  What is His design, His plan?  And what does it mean to surrender to it?  Have I surrendered to His design?

I know for me, this can be difficult.  As a wife, I find that I sometimes fight against God’s design of a husband being the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the Church. The struggle isn’t because my husband is harsh or cruel, but because I want the authority for myself.  It is because of my sin that I that I fight this, not his.  Many days, I would rather God would submit to my design rather than the other way around!

The Church has had difficulty surrendering to God’s design in many areas as well.  The opening chapters of Genesis tell us that God designed  one day in every seven be a Sabbath, a rest, to the Lord.  Many in the Church fight this because they want to decide how to spend the day and spending the day doing the things they want to do (worshiping themselves) is much more appealing to them than spending it worshiping God.

More recently, the Church is having difficulty surrendering to God’s design for marriage.  The same opening chapters of Genesis mentioned above tell us how God determined that it was not good for man to be alone and so he created woman–we have the first marriage between Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  God designed marriage to be between one man and one woman.  Yet many in the Church want to have God surrender to their design for marriage and to condone same-sex marriages.

There are many other areas where we fight God’s design–children/parents, citizens/government, the role of women in public worship, and on and on.

Why would God design things the way He does, even when those designs seem so difficult for us?  I think the answer to that lies in the first part of the song line mentioned above.  God is a God of mercy, a God of compassion.  He is a loving father who knows what’s best for us, even though we are rebellious children who want to fight his will for us.  Those of us who are parents have all experienced a time where we have had to tell our children that they couldn’t do or have something that they desperately and sincerely wanted because we loved them and we had some knowledge or experience that taught us that allowing them to do so would hurt them.  It is similar (though I dare not say the same) with God’s love for us.

Remembering this and keeping this at the front of my mind, helps me (with the power of the Spirit working in me) to be truthful as I sing, “God of mercy sweet love of mine/I have surrendered to your design.”

Welcome!

welcome

For quite some time now, I have had the desire to start this blog, but for various and sundry reasons and commitments, I haven’t done it.  Well, I guess as of today, I am finally taking that plunge and posting something here.  And if you have found yourself reading this, for some odd reason, you have at least an inkling of a desire to read what I have to say.

I have several goals or purposes I would like to see for this blog.  The first would be to have a place where I can write about what I am learning about God.  Many people shy away from the word theology thinking that it is only for their pastor or elders or the “super-religious.”  And I have found that especially among women this tends to be the case.  But theology literally means the study of God.  I can’t imagine being a Christian who does not want to learn more about the God I serve.  I hope I can be a resource for others, but especially women, who want to learn more than just mere sentiments when it comes to God.

As a second goal or purpose, I want this blog to be a place where I can lovingly engage those in the LGBT community and especially help Christians who experience same-sex attraction (SSA).  This is a subject that is near and dear to me, because I am a Christian who has experienced and struggled with SSA.  I want this to be a safe place to discuss this issue, but under the framework of the traditional Biblical understanding of sex and marriage (i.e., marriage is between a man and a woman and sexual relations are meant for marriage).

Finally, I hope this blog can be a place where I can discuss the ordinary and every day things that happen as I live out my life and identity in Christ, endeavoring to walk in all good conscience before Him.  I might talk about some work of fiction I am reading, some new recipe I want to try, the new Hollywood blockbuster I saw last weekend, or some new beer I ordered.

So, feel welcome to drop by and read things as I post them.  I would welcome any comments, thoughts, and to dialog with any of you if you find that a topic I have written about piques your interest!