The Why of Worship

Let me start with a couple of things…  First, I am talking to Christians here, believers in the Triune God who is revealed in Scripture. If you do not have Christ you do not worship God. You cannot have God the Father outside God the Son. Jesus said that, not me. (John 14:6)

 Second, we are to gather together for particular worship. I am not talking about the idea of sanctified living, where everything we do is before the face of God. While that is true it does not make everything worship, for if everything is worship then nothing is.

 This series hopes to get into the details of why Providence Church in Pensacola does what it does as a body of believers gathered for a particular purpose. It is true that we live before Him 24/7, but in that living God requires that we set aside a time for the weighty, glorious labor of worship.

 So, with that in mind let proceed:

 Worship is a heavenly duty.

 God calls us to assemble in His presence, and thus the task of worship is both a serious and joyful duty. In light of this, every effort should be made to prepare oneself and, if applicable, one‘s family for the worship service. What we experience with God‘s people on the Lord‘s Day should not be confused with our other, normal activities. This is aspecial time the Lord has set aside to meet with His people.

 The Apostles gathered with believers on the first day of the week to hear preaching and to break bread: Acts 20:7 “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.”

 They urged the Saints to gather regularly:  Hebrews 10:19-25 19 Therefore, brothers since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through she curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

 As we worship we are brought, like John on Patmos, into God’s presence: Revelation 1 and 4. Joy is found in the presence of God. Come let us worship and bow down and kneel before the YAHWEH  our maker (Psalm 95:6). Heavenly duty indeed!

Back in Bid’ness

I was happier when I wrote stuff down… I was even happier when you read it and provided feedback. May both happen with some regularity again.

Here is what I have planned… To start this puppy up again I am going to write about the worship service at Providence Church in Pensacola, FL, the Church where Uri Brito and I pastor.  Why do we do the things we do and what does it mean for the life of the world.   You can find a copy of our Order of Worship here:  Order of Worship August 28th 2011. It is a tri-fold so start reading in the right hand column and then flip over to continue. 

I believe this series will last a bunch of weeks with a couple posts per week.  Give it a read and let me know what you think.

God Bless,

al sends

At The Right Hand Of God…

…  Jesus Christ ascended.

The Church remembered Jesus’ Ascension on Thursday and many worshiped around this theme on Sunday.  I want to think about why this is such a good thing for the Church and this is me doing that thinking  – - out loud, if you will…

Jesus sat down at the ‘right hand’ of God upon his ascension. This is a position of a priest before God; in this case our High Priest, who is anointed by God for the work of intercession.  The right side  of the body is where work gets done, biblically speaking.  In  Ex. 29 and Lev. 8 the priest was anointed for service by the placing of blood on the right-hand side of his body.

Leviticus 8:22 Then he presented the other ram, the ram of ordination, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the ram. 23 And he killed it, and Moses took some of its blood and put it on the lobe of Aaron’s right ear and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot.

So, Jesus is at God’s right hand making intercession for us (his head, hands and feet bloodied for service).   Always the right hand.  See the book Hebrews for Jesus’ place at the right hand of God as Priest.

In Leviticus chapter 14, God gives the priest direction for cleansing a leper for worship.

Lev 14:14-18

14 The priest shall take some of the blood of the trespass offering, and the priest shall put it on the tip of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot. 15 And the priest shall take some of the log of oil, and pour it into the palm of his own left hand. 16 Then the priest shall dip his right finger in the oil that is in his left hand, and shall sprinkle some of the oil with his finger seven times before the Lord. 17 And of the rest of the oil in his hand, the priest shall put some on the tip of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot, on the blood of the trespass offering. 18 The rest of the oil that is in the priest’s hand he shall put on the head of him who is to be cleansed. So the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord.

Notice the importance of the right hand.  In that service the Priest puts blood and oil on the right ear, thumb and toe of one who is to be cleansed.  A mini-priestly ordination, fitting the man for service.  The cleansed one is then forgiven of his sins by God, he is new and is to go out clean.   The priest takes his right hand and anoints the right side of the penitent sinner/leper.

Why is that important for us?   Well, Jesus now holds  the Church in His right hand.  (Rev. 1 and 2) and He gives His message to the Church through His angels.  It appears that the Church, specifically her Angels (messengers, pastors), is in some way an intercessory body before the Triune God. 

Jesus is at the right hand of God, praying for the Church.  The Church is at Jesus’ right hand we pray for the world, her governments and people.  We are intercessors bringing the world before the Lord.   The Angels (messengers) of the Church apply the “blood of the Lamb” and the glad oil of the Word to those who are guilty and those members of the household of faith walk out clean…

What do you think?

al sends

CREC Pastoral Visitation Checklist…

 … brought to you by the folks at GreenBaggins.

 Wes White is no friend to the pastors of the CREC and has a fanciful imagination, has written a very nice post detailing some comments from Rev. Dr. Jon D. Payne, pastor of a PCA Church.  In that post Rev. Payne encourages his brother ministers and the PCA in general to give themselves over to good reformed practice.  Here are the 17 steps he recommends the PCA take to revitalize their shrinking denomination:

 1. A renewed commitment to exegetical, God-centered, Christ-exalting, Holy Spirit-filled, lectio-continua preaching.

2. A renewed commitment to the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper for the spiritual nourishment, health and comfort of the elect.

3. A renewed commitment to private, family and corporate prayer.

4. A renewed commitment to – and delight in – the Lord’s Day.

5. A renewed commitment to worship God according to Scripture.

6. A renewed commitment to sing the Psalms in private, family, and public worship.

7. A renewed commitment to wed our missiology to our Reformed ecclesiology.

8. A renewed commitment to Spirit-dependent, prayerful, loving, courageous evangelism.

9. A renewed commitment to biblical church discipline.

10. A renewed commitment to family worship.

11. A renewed commitment to biblical hospitality.

12. A renewed commitment to catechize our covenant children.

13. A renewed commitment to biblical masculinity and femininity.

14. A renewed commitment to shepherd the flock of God.

15. A renewed commitment to promote and defend the Reformed Confession.

16.A renewed commitment to the mortification of sin and worldliness.

17. A renewed commitment to rest by faith in Christ ALONE for salvation, without minimizing Gospel obedience.

Anyone who has spent time around the CREC and her pastors must recognize these points as firmly in place within the CREC.  So, I recommend them heartily to my PCA brothers and may their numbers increase as the Gospel Kingdom is lived out before an unbelieving world!

 al sends

Dan Phillips’ Is A Man Among Men…

… this is one reason why God permits the blog-o-sphere to continue and why I read the Pyro Boys.

Porn and Paper Pastors

Simply Fantastic!  Read it or I will come to your house, eat all your junk food, make long distance calls on your phone, utter unflattering comments about your or your wife’s cooking and wonder aloud about how much dust I found on your bookshelves. 

al sends

Bonhoeffer on Singing

Singing the New Song

The prayers of the psalms and the reading of Scripture should be followed by the singing together of a hymn, this being the voice of the Church, praising, thanking, and praying.

“Sing unto the Lord a new song,” the Psalter enjoins us again and again. It is the Christ-hymn, new every morning, that the family fellowship strikes up at the beginning of the day, the hymn that is sung by the whole Church of God on earth and in heaven, and in which we are summoned to join. Continue reading

SBCREC?

Michael Spencer, the iMonk, has written an insightful piece on  the future of the SBC. He calls it Death by Nostalgia. It’s worth a read.

My own reflections on being Southern Bapitst are echoed somewhat in the Monk’s essay. I often find it difficult to impossible to participate in associational events because so often they just seem silly.

Last year I was invited by the pastors of a local CREC church (ahem, Al and David…and now Uri) to attend their presbytery meeting. I was immediately captivated by the warmth and seriousness with which these men conducted the business of their presbytery. They shared important information about their churches and they prayed for each church in turn. There were light moments, but there was very little wasted energy or time.

Earlier this year I attended the Auburn Avenue Pastors’ Conference. I was one of maybe two baptists there. I was again taken by the tone and sense of purpose of the gathering. Men were talking about serious issues in a serious way. The conversation between sessions was congenial and thoughtful.

Tomorrow night I will be attending the ordination of a new good friend in the CREC (our own Uri). I anticipate that it will be serious, thoughtful and warm.

I say all this not to say that I’m crossing whatever river it is that you cross when you join the CREC (the Palouse?), but to say that when I’m with CREC brothers, I genuinely feel like I’m with brothers. And to contrast it with the SBC.

Now there are thoughtful, serious men in the SBC to be sure. I think of Tom Ascol as an example of what is good in the SBC. He is energetic, theologically astute, encouraging to younger men in a meaningful way. And he is surely not the only one. But it is not SBC culture. I’m hopeful that Spencer and others will succeed in ringing this bell. Not just so that we can save a denomination, but that we can return to seriousness about what we’re doing.

Press on, Michael Spencer. And press on, CREC. If the long view is the right view, good things are, indeed, coming. But they will probably not be wearing polyester and Hai Karate.

Breakfast…

… or Break Fast.

I know, I know… But I am not a slave to my own fasting devices and will roger up when the Spirit moves me.  I need to bring to your attention a couple of events that might (should) interest you. 

First, our own Uriesou Brito is preparing for ordination and the laying on of hands shall occur at 6:30PM at Providence.  We meet at Trinitas Christian School on Johnson Ave and if you need directions please go here:  Trinitas.  

This is also an opportunity for you to attend a Covenant Renewal Worship service without having to miss a Sunday at your church.  Our service will be very similar to what we do every Lord’s Day at Providence.

Second, and this is almost as exciting, we will be having a guest blogger in the next couple of weeks.  I am still working on the details, but there will be a famous author and TV commentator stopping by our little backwater of a Blog to inject a comment or two (DV).  

When I was on radio regularly I was able to interview the likes of John Stossel, Mark Steyn, Pat Buchannan and others.  I also tried to pin down the controversial author who is planning on making an appearance here at The BasketTM, but it never came to pass.  Like Joseph in the pit, I had no idea how God was going to work my disappointment in Radio for my audience’s good, but now I see.  What the author’s publisher meant for evil*, God meant for good. 

I shall not give you any more details, but stay tuned to The BasketTM for updates and the eventual posts.

al (the weak) sends

* The author’s publisher is not evil nor were her scheduling difficulties necessarily a ploy of the Devil.  I realize that Sean Hanity is bigger than me and I submit accordingly.

Mull It Over (or, Mullet: Over)

My thinking has changed on a lot of stuff in the last few years. I hope I can always say that because my mind is really screwed up.

Nowadays I love celebrating the seasons of the church calendar. When I first began to be drawn to the observance of the church year, I think it was because all the cool guys were doing it. (Sort of like why I had a mullet as a 14-year-old: because Rick Springfield and Billy Idol and Mike-in-the-9th-grade all had one.) 

But as my thinking has (hopefully) matured, so has my affinity for Advent and Epiphany and Lent and Easter and Pentecost and Trinity. Peter Leithart does what he does so well in this post on the church calendar. He shows that observing the seasons of the church year is not only mature thinking but is truly mature.

I am curious how you, gentle readers who do not observe the church year, respond to his reasoning.