Celebration of Discipline: Worship

book cover - Celebration Of Discipline

Blog readers: Chi Alpha @ Stanford is engaging in our annual summer reading project. As we read through Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster, I’ll post my thoughts here (which will largely consist of excerpts I found insightful). They are all tagged summer‐reading‐project‐2019. The schedule is online.

This week we come to one of the most visible corporate disciplines in the Christian life: worship.

If I had to identify one challenging aspect of worship for Stanford students it would be this: worship feels like a waste of time. Time spent in worship is time not spent doing homework. More altruistically, time spent in worship is time not spent witnessing to someone. Foster nails this mentality on page 161:

“The divine priority is worship first, service second…. The primary function of the Levitical priests was to ‘come near to me to minister to me’ (Ezek. 44:15). For the Old Testament priesthood, ministry to God was to precede all other work. And that is no less true of the universal priesthood of the New Testament. One grave temptation we all face is to run around answering calls to service without ministering to the Lord himself.”

Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline, page 161

In Mark 3:14 we see Jesus selecting the disciples. What does it say? “He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach.” They are first to be with him, then they are to serve him. God did not hire us, God adopted us. Worship must come first. In Deut 6:4 we are called to love Him with all our heart before we are called to love Him with all our strength.

While it is true that worship means far more than music, it is also true that the largest book in the Bible is a book of songs. Singing praise to God is an important part of our spiritual health, and often actions accompany the singing. If I had to pick a second challenging aspect of worship for Stanford students it would be this: such worship often feels undignified.

Throughout Scripture we find a variety of physical postures in connection with worship: lying prostrate, standing, kneeling, lifting the hands, clapping the hands, lifting the head, bowing the head, dancing, and wearing sackcloth and ashes. The point is that we are to offer God our bodies as well as all the rest of our being. Worship is appropriately physical. We are to present our bodies to God in a posture consistent with the inner spirit in worship. Standing, clapping, dancing, lifting the hands, lifting the head are postures consistent with the spirit of praise. To sit still looking dour is simply not appropriate for praise. Kneeling, bowing the head, lying prostrate are postures consistent with the spirit of adoration and humility. We are quick to object to this line of teaching. ‘People have different temperaments,’ we argue. ‘That may appeal to emotional types, but I’m naturally quiet and reserved. It isn’t the kind of worship that will meet my need.’ What we must see is that the real question in worship is not, ‘What will meet my need?’ The real question is, ‘What kind of worship does God call for?’ It is clear that God calls for wholehearted worship…. Often our ‘reserved temperament’ is little more than fear of what others will think of us, or perhaps unwillingness to humble ourselves before God and others. Of course people have different temperaments, but that must never keep us from worshiping with our whole being.

Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline, pages 169–70.

Foster says it well, but King David says it even better. In 2 Samuel 6:22, the Psalmist tells a critic of his extravagant worship, “I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.”

Here are some of the ways we see worship expressed in Scripture. If you struggle with expressiveness or self‐consciousness in worship, meditate on this list. Many more verses could be added along with much commentary — this is far from a comprehensive study. It is merely meant to open your eyes to the various expressions of worship we find in the Bible. Some are commanded while others are modeled, all of these expressions are appropriate at different times.

  • WE SING because in the Bible we read: “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” (Colossians 3:16)
  • WE PLAY INSTRUMENTS because in the Bible we read: “Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.” (Psalm 150:3–5)
  • WE RAISE OUR HANDS because in the Bible we read: “I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.” (Psalm 63:4)
  • WE CLAP because in the Bible we read: “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.” (Psalm 47:1)
  • WE TESTIFY PUBLICLY because in the Bible we read: “I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” (Psalm 9:1)
  • WE LAUGH AND REJOICE because in the Bible we read: “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The LORD has done great things for them.’” (Psalm 126:2)
  • WE SHOUT because in the Bible we read: “Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn— shout for joy before the LORD, the King.” (Psalm 98:4–6)
  • WE LAPSE INTO REVERENT SILENCE because in the Bible we read: “The LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.” (Habakkuk 2:20)
  • WE STAND because in the Bible we read: “They [the Levites] were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD. They were to do the same in the evening….” (1 Chronicles 23:30)
  • WE BOW AND KNEEL because in the Bible we read: “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.” (Psalm 95:6)
  • WE LIE PROSTRATE because in the Bible we read: “Ezra praised the LORD, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, ‘Amen! Amen!’ Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.” (Nehemiah 8:6)
  • WE LEAP because in the Bible we read: “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven.” (Luke 6:23a)
  • WE DANCE because in the Bible we read: “Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp.” (Psalm 149:3)
  • WE SPEAK IN TONGUES AND PROPHESY because in the Bible we read: “What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.” (1 Corinthians 14:26)
  • WE CREATE ART because in the Bible we read: “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.… to make everything I have commanded you: the tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant law with the atonement cover on it, and all the other furnishings of the tent— the table and its articles, the pure gold lampstand and all its accessories, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, the basin with its stand— and also the woven garments, both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when they serve as priests, and the anointing oil and fragrant incense for the Holy Place.’ ” (Exodus 31:1–11)
  • WE PRAY SIMULTANEOUSLY because in the Bible we read: “When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God.” (Acts 4:24a)
  • WE LISTEN TO A SERMON because in the Bible we read: “…devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.” (1 Tim 4:13)

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 214

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom. I welcome your suggestions. If you read something fascinating please pass it my way.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Revolt of the Feminist Law Profs (Wesley Yang, Chronicle of Higher Education): “The sex bureaucracy, in other words, pivoted from punishing sexual violence to imposing a normative vision of ideal sex, to which students are held administratively accountable.” This is a very good piece.
  2. Skillet’s John Cooper on Apostasy Among Young Christian Leaders (George Brahm, Cogent Christianity: “I’ve been saying for 20 years (and seemed probably quite judgmental to some of my peers) that we are in a dangerous place when the church is looking to 20 year old worship singers as our source of truth. We now have a church culture that learns who God is from singing modern praise songs rather than from the teachings of the Word.”
  3. Jeffrey Epstein and When to Take Conspiracies Seriously (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “Most conspiracy theories are false. But often some of the things they’re trying to explain are real.” Refreshing sanity.
  4. Deportation of a Chaldean Christian to Iraq, and where he died, gets some decent coverage (Julia Duin, GetReligion): “The more you look into this story, the more disturbing it gets. Mindy Belz, reporting for World, wrote that a third country had offered to take Aldaoud but that U.S. immigration authorities refused. Putting him on a plane to Najaf was an intentional twist of cruelty. Apparently, it was not an accident that he was sent there instead of Baghdad.”
  5. The Last Days of John Allen Chau (Alex Perry, Outside Magazine): “.…to those who know the tribes best, John’s mission did not spell the end of the Sentinelese. To them, he represented a possible means of survival.“ Chi Alpha makes an appearance in this article. Related links back in volumes 179 and 180.
  6. Jeff Bezos is quietly letting his charities do something radical — whatever they want (Theodore Schleifer, Vox Recode): “Giving $100 million to nonprofits based on little provided information and then letting them run with it sounds, on its face, like a recipe for disaster. It conjures the image of fat‐and‐happy charity leaders milking extravagant salaries from others’ generosity, or profligate spending on extraneous overhead — or even outright fraud…. Well, here’s the surprise: Multiple experts told Recode this strategy actually makes a lot of sense. They think philanthropies should give nonprofits substantially more leeway.”
    1. Related(ish): Missional Misconception #1 (Support Figures) (Seth Callahan, personal blog): “If the [Post Office] were a non‐profit, faith‐based organization, with all of their employees being responsible to cover their own operating costs… then each employee would need to have a monthly support level of $11,837.69. That figure does not represent what your mailman gets PAID, mind you. It is how much it COSTS for your mailman to perform the services that are required of him: transportation and storage of goods, packing supplies, vehicle maintenance, healthcare, retirement, social security…etc. His take‐home pay (what he lives off of) is a small percentage of those operating costs.”
  7. The Religious Hunger of the Radical Right (Tara Isabella Burton, New York Times): “Unlike Islamist jihadists, the online communities of incels, white supremacists and anti‐Semitic conspiracy theorists make no metaphysical truth claims, do not focus on God and offer no promise of an afterlife or reward. But they fulfill the functions that sociologists generally attribute to a religion: They give their members a meaningful account of why the world is the way it is.” 

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have Planet of Cops (Freddie de Boer, personal blog): “The woke world is a world of snitches, informants, rats. Go to any space concerned with social justice and what will you find? Endless surveillance. Everybody is to be judged. Everyone is under suspicion. Everything you say is to be scoured, picked over, analyzed for any possible offense. Everyone’s a detective in the Division of Problematics, and they walk the beat 24/7…. I don’t know how people can simultaneously talk about prison abolition and restoring the idea of forgiveness to literal criminal justice and at the same time turn the entire social world into a kangaroo court system.” First shared in volume 161.

Why Do You Send This Email?

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 95

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom. I welcome your suggestions. If you read something fascinating please pass it my way.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. ‘You Can’t Give In’: Monty Williams On Life After Tragedy (Chris Ballard, Sports Illustrated): “He puts on a good face, but talking about what happened, as he does over the course of the next three days, often pausing for minutes at a time, remains difficult. ‘I just couldn’t understand it,’ he says. ‘And never will. But my faith in God never wavered. Just, sometimes your faith and your feelings don’t line up.’” This is the pick of the week. Very powerful.
  2. When Character No Longer Counts (Alan Jacobs, National Affairs): “What is required of serious religious believers in a pluralistic society is the ability to code‐switch: never to forget or neglect their own native religious tongue, but also never to forget that they live in a society of people for whom that language is gibberish. To speak only in the language of pragmatism is to bring nothing distinctive to the table; to speak only a private language of revelation and self‐proclaimed authority is to leave the table altogether. For their own good, but also for the common good, religious believers need to be always bilingually present.” Including for the summary paragraph. That’s gold.
  3. Counting The Cost: DR Congo Demonstrates Difficulty of Measuring Martyrdom (Sarah Zylstra, Christianity Today): “Why do calculations of Christians killed for their faith worldwide each year range from 1,000 to 100,000? The reason largely comes down to one country: the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).” Many surprising pieces of information. Worthwhile.
  4. Book Review: Seeing Like A State (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex): “Peasants didn’t like permanent surnames. Their own system was quite reasonable for them: John the baker was John Baker, John the blacksmith was John Smith, John who lived under the hill was John Underhill, John who was really short was John Short. The same person might be John Smith and John Underhill in different contexts, where his status as a blacksmith or place of origin was more important. But the government insisted on giving everyone a single permanent name, unique for the village, and tracking who was in the same family as whom. Resistance was intense.” This is long and amazing.
  5. China’s Success Explains Authoritarianism’s Allure (Tyler Cowen, Bloomberg View): “…if there is a powerful system on the world stage, many of us will be drawn to it and seek to emulate it, without always being conscious of the reasons for those attractions. This process is actually not so different from how neoliberalism attracted greater support during the 1990s, when it was perceived as the major victor on the world stage.”

Things Glen Found Amusing

Why Do You Send This Email?

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it).

Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it.

Archives at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/category/links.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 71

1 Chronicles 12:32 - they "understood the times"
1 Chronicles 12:32 — they “understood the times”

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Set Our Hearts On Fire Again (Zac Hicks, Desiring God) : “Christ‐centered worship [is] a cyclical process of two actions. Let’s call those actions displacement and replacement.” This one was recommended by a student. The real meat is the last half.
  2. The Shift from Authority to Preference—And Its Consequences for the Church (Os Guinness, 9 Marks): This is long but worthwhile. “in today’s world, freedom of conscience is confused with freedom of choice and therefore rendered dutiless and shorn of its rights.”
  3. A Fight In The Leper Colony (Doug Wilson, personal blog): “what we [have] is a vile woman running against a vile man, and we must choose between them, God says, because we are a vile people. We get a presidential campaign between a corruptocrat and a clown, and this is because God has now narrowed our choice down to what would best represent this stiff‐necked generation.” For a more gentle approach, see Joe Carter’s insightful Why Evangelicals Are Divided Over Trump and the interview with Russell Moore titled The Evangelical Civil War.
  4. The New Culture Of Life (Ruth Graham, Slate): “In conversations over the past several weeks with activists and other young people who care deeply about ending abortion, I found many who are skeptical of the movement’s long‐held ties to the GOP and the Christian right. Instead, they are using the language of feminism, human rights, and the Black Lives Matter movement to make their case for a new culture of life.”
  5. China targets parents with religion rules in Xinjiang (Al Jazeera): a take on China’s religious crackdown from a Muslim perspective. “While China officially guarantees freedom of religion, minors are not supposed to participate in religious activity.” 
  6. Real Insights About Pornography and Marriage (Nick Wolfinger, blog): “Even more curious is the role of religion. Porn only seems to threaten marital stability for couples who don’t attend church regularly” (emphasis added). The author is a professor of sociology.
  7. Human Rights Campaign threatens Johns Hopkins over New Atlantis “Sexuality and Gender” report (Al Mohler, The Briefing): “One of the things Christians must keep in mind is that science is a human endeavor. Science simply doesn’t exist independent of, well, scientists, that is human beings. It isn’t some kind of independent authority…. That is to say, there is no such thing as a science that is free of ideology when it comes to human beings, after all, studying themselves.”

Things Glen Found Amusing

Why Do You Send This Email?

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it).

Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it.

Archives at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/category/links.