In Jesus’ Name

“Pray in the name of Jesus,” I think means “on the basis of what Jesus has done to make our access to God possible,” namely His blood and righteousness. So when I say, “In Jesus’ name” at the end of a prayer, I mean “because Jesus died for me and rose again, covered my sins, and imparted and imputed righteousness to me, I have access to the Father.” “Because of Him”—that’s what “In Jesus’ name” means.

—John Piper, http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/does-it-matter-which-person-of-the-trinity-we-pray-to?hc_location=ufi

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Preparing for Worship

Dear Christian,

As we gather for corporate worship tomorrow, we would all do well to remember that it is not a biblical necessity to enjoy the music—though it is not an outright sin to do so either—to which the truths of God’s word are set to melody, harmony and rhythm. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16 ESV) If the music or musical style does not suit your personal and private tastes, make it your spiritual aim to rejoice in message of the lyric, for that is much more important than the music.If you cannot rejoice in the message of the lyric, either the lyric must change, or perhaps your heart.

—Jason French

Real-Life Worship

Worship leaders often feel the pressure to be perfect and holy and put-together at all times–at least on the outside. But keeping up a good front actually works against leadership effectiveness and good worship. Instead, worship leaders have to allow themselves to be “slammed by life,” as one of my students put it. The spiritual life does not always lead us through green pastures and beside still waters. There are valleys of shadows too. Worship leaders have to be open to life—to our own and others’ pain, to events in the world, to people who are especially difficult to deal with, to disappointment and frustration. If preachers and prayers and musicians can show others how to bring those shadows to God through worship, they will demonstrate an authenticity that we all can emulate. Being open to life enables leaders to fill out “empty” technique with solid content, the genuine stuff of real life.

—Ron & Debra Rienstra, Worship Words: Discipling Language for Faithful Ministry, 98

Don’t Lose the Forest for the Trees!

It is wise for all of us who engage in constructive criticism of worship songs to learn to turn down our analytic mode, especially as we worship. Biologists who study butterflies in laboratories do well to step back from (or look through) their scientific precision as they enjoy a nature walk in a national park or read appreciative poetry about the beauty of butterflies. And those who engage with CWM do well to step back from (or look through) their analytical questions to enter, in a biblically childlike way, into the simple joy of God-centered worship.

—Robert Woods and Brian Walrath, eds., The Message in the Music: Studying Contemporary Praise & Worship, 187

In and Out

It is by its worship that the Church lives, it is there that its heart beats. And in fact the life of the Church pulsates like the heart by systole and diastole. As the heart is for the animal body, so the cult [worship service] is for church life a pump which sends into circulation and draws in again, it claims and it sanctifies. It is from the life of worship…that the Church spreads itself abroad into the world to mingle with it like leaven in the dough, to give it savour like salt, to irradiate like light, and it is towards the cult that the Church returns from the world like a fisherman gathering up his nets or a farmer harvesting his grain.

—Jean-Jacques von Allmen, Worship: Its Theology and Practice, 55-56

Beyond Style

It is fruitless to search for a single musical style, or even any blend of musical styles, that can assist all Christians with true worship. The followers of Jesus are a far too diverse group of people—which is exactly as it should be. We need, rather, to welcome any worship music that helps churches produce disciples of Jesus Christ.

—Michael S. Hamilton, “The Triumph of the Praise Songs,” Christianity Today 43:8 (7/12/99), 11

Mixing It Up

The glory of the gospel is to unite peoples of every language and culture under the lordship of Christ (Eph. 2:11-22; 4:3-6,13; Rev. 7:9-17). So we should not be content with divisions created by different musical tastes and traditions. As we grow to maturity in Christ we should be looking for ways to express the unity that is God’s goal for us: in gospel action, in the exchange of ministries and gifts, in combined services and in the sharing of musical resources and experiences.

—David G. Peterson, Encountering God Together: Leading Worship Services That Honor God, Minister to His People, and Build His Church, 143