Going “to Worship”, by Doy Moyer

The phrase is biblical. The basic idea of worship is to do reverence or bow down and pay homage to another. From this general concept, some have argued that worship is just everything we do as Christians rather than particular “acts of worship” (a phrase that has been disparaged). Instead, it is supposed to be our lifestyles as worship (“lifestyle” is one of those loaded terms). While it is vital that we sacrifice ourselves for the Lord (Rom 12:1-2), and we recognize that all of life is to be lived in reverence to God (and in that sense worship), the concept of worship in Scripture is used in an even more specific sense as intended actions. Paul speaks of going up to Jerusalem “to worship” (24:11). Worship is said to have an “object” (Acts 17:23; 2 Thess 2:4), who is supposed to be God only. Worship can be in ignorance if not directed specifically to the right One (Acts 17:23), and it can be “in vain” if merely on the lips but not in the heart (Matt 15:8-9). But if worship is just life in general, then wasn’t Paul already worshipping went he went up to Jerusalem “to worship”? Why would he want to go to Jerusalem “to worship” if it was just his lifestyle as worship? Unless there was some intended action he had in mind, this would make no sense.

It is true that any worship of God is to be an extension of who we are (i.e., not out of character for us), but it is still something we do with specific actions in addition to how we generally live. This is not about worship being confined to a church building. It is about intended and specified actions as worship, whether individually or together.

The Hebrew writer said, “let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” (Heb 13:15). Singing praise to God is worship as it renders special homage to God, whether done individually or with others (Jas 5:13; Eph 5:19-20; Col 3:16). Surely this also may be said about our prayers of praise (e.g., Acts 4:24ff). The praise Psalms should be sufficient to see that. If we speak of going “to worship,” do we not have in mind these very actions?

So, yes we can go “to worship” God as our divine object (an object with whom we share a fellowship), rendering praise to Him in a special way through songs and prayers. Our lives are to be consistent with this, but living our “lives as worship” does not entail foregoing the specific actions. Rather, those actions, especially when we are together, are only enhanced when done by those whose very lives are given as living sacrifices.

Doy Moyer


Via: http://www.mindyourfaith.com/6/post/2013/10/going-to-worship.html

Why Christian parents get nervous about evidence, by Lydia McGrew

It’s been a while since we had a post on Christian evidences.

I’ve recently been led to reflect on the fact that there remains a Christian subculture that is somewhat uneasy with Christian evidences. Here I’m not referring to modernists or even postmodernists. I’m not referring to the unorthodox who don’t like evidence because they like to keep Christianity hazy so that they don’t really have to believe anything. I’m thinking of the fervent and utterly sincere, orthodox, Bible-believing Christians who nonetheless feel a bit…worried, somehow, if their young people start asking questions about the evidences for Christianity. Worried even if the young people are studying and reading and getting answers. Why might that be?

The reasons why that occurs (and if you aren’t familiar with the phenomenon, just take my word for it that it does occur) are varied, and some are better than others.

Here are a few:

1) The idea that faith is contrary to reason and that therefore it is bad for one’s faith if one has good reasons for believing Christianity. This premise is just plain wrong. It’s been discussed and addressed in many books by many people. Herehere, andhere are just a few of my own posts on the subject. (More posts tagged explicitly with the label “evidentialism” are also foundhere and here.)

2) The rather vaguer idea that one will be distracted from a “real relationship with Jesus Christ” if one is focusing on intellectual matters such as evidence. Now, the Devil is real, and he can, of course, use any good thing for a bad end. C.S. Lewis once wrote that he never felt less convinced of a Christian doctrine than when he had just finished defending it. (Words to that effect.) It is no doubt true that, for certain personality types, the intensity of one’s feeling of commitment to God will be lessened if one is thinking of God more prosaically–whether in terms of systematic theology, natural theology, or historical evidence.

But then again, heaven knows that there are plenty of “dry” passages in the Bible, too. And no, I don’t just mean the genealogies. I mean, for example, all that heavy doctrine in the Pauline epistles. I imagine that most of the same people who would get nervous if their college-age kids were reading, say, Butler on natural theology and Christian evidences don’t mind at all if their pastor preaches exegetically through every verse of Ephesians. Unless, I suppose, they are Pentecostals who don’t like exegetical preaching either. (With apologies to my Pentecostal brethren.)

My point here is that God Himself doesn’t seem to be too worried about our thinking about Him in a sober and unemotional fashion. Apparently He thinks that our having a good grounding and understanding of meatier matters is worth the danger that some of us might find intellectual thought a bit dampening to our emotions. Emotions, even the emotional part of our love for Jesus Christ, come and go. Facts and theology, once understood and grasped, remain and can tide one over dry periods. And emotionally dry periods in one’s spiritual life will come, from one cause or another, even if one is as uneducated as a rock when it comes to either theology or Christian evidence.

3) The concern that their young people might read some really pernicious material that will lead them astray, perhaps in the attempt to read the opposition in order to answer it. Now, I think this worry has something to it. That can indeed happen. No wise Christian mentor will just hand a 17-year-old a copy of Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion and say, “Go for it, kid. Heh. Let me know if you can answer him.”

So what does that mean? It means that, if one is going to read atheist apologists, one should read them with guidance from people who really do know how to answer them.

Nor should one think of teaching young people Christian evidences as being primarily about reading “the other guys.” The highest priority should be showing how much good evidence there is for Christianity. There is a wealth of material available. See this post for a tiny sample. More material in the posts tagged here and here (these tags were mentioned above). See also this page at Apologetics315.

4) The idea that, if a young person gets deeply interested in Christian evidence, he will go out on the Internet (or at his public high school or secular college) seeking giants to slay and will get overwhelmed. Again, this worry has merit as a sociological matter. That can certainly happen.

That is why we should say loud and clear to Christians interested in this topic: Don’t do that! What do I mean? Just this: Being committed to investigating the evidence for Christianity does not mean that one has to find out every possible thing that anyone has ever said about or against Christianity and know the answer to it. That would be impossible because of the sheer bulk of (ultimately unpersuasive) objections which skeptics can bring up as though they were real problems.

In this context the words of George Horne, an 18th century bishop, from his Letters on Infidelity, are wise and helpful. (Emphasis added.)

In the thirty sections of their pamphlet, they have produced a list of difficulties to be met with in reading the Old and New Testament. Had I been aware of their design, I could have enriched the collection with many more, at least as good, if not a little better. But they have compiled, I dare say, what they deemed the best, and, in their own opinion, presented us with the essence of infidelity in a thumb-phial, the very fumes of which, on drawing the cork, are to strike the bench of bishops dead at once. Let not the unlearned Christian be alarmed, “as though some strange thing had happened to him,” and modern philosophy had discovered arguments to demolish religion, never heard of before. The old ornaments of deism have been “broken off” upon this occasion, “and cast into the fire, and there came out this calf.” These same difficulties have been again and again urged and discussed in public; again and again weighed and considered by learned and sensible men, of the laity as well as the clergy, who have by no means been induced by them to renounce their faith.


Many and painful are the researches sometimes necessary to be made, for settling points of that kind. Pertness and ignorance may ask a question in three lines, which it will cost learning and ingenuity thirty pages to answer. When this is done, the same question shall be triumphantly asked again the next year, as if nothing had ever been written upon the subject.

Think about the approach you take to other issues. There is a theory that men never walked on the moon and that the moon landing was a hoax. Do you investigate every detail of the argument given on the “hoax” side of that issue? What about Holocaust denial? (No, I’m not inviting a discussion in the combox of Holocaust or moon landing denial.)

The Internet is in some ways antithetical to the well-balanced operation of man’s mind. The man with a well-balanced mind gets firmly in place the bulk of the evidence on some subject and then realizes that everything does not hinge on whether he can, right now, answer this or that objection which he happens not to have heard before.

So if I tell you that Christianity is faith founded on fact and that you should find out those facts and ground your faith in them, I am not suggesting that you trawl Internet Infidel sites to test your evidentialist biceps by trying to answer every objection that atheist “pertness and ignorance” have raised, often have raised repeatedly over the centuries. Far from it.

(Digression: Has anyone else noticed that people seem to have forgotten the word “trawl”? They think it is “troll” and will use “troll” where it should be “trawl.” The word “trawl” is taken from fishing and, used metaphorically in a reading context, is a rough synonym for “browse.” End of digression.)

5) The unspoken fear that Christianity cannot stand up to scrutiny and doesn’t really have good evidential support.

Here I do not blame the parents, but not because I share the unspoken fear. I do not blame them, because in most cases no one has ever taught them otherwise. How many pastors and priests have really taught apologetics to their congregations, or even offered such studies as an option? Too few. How many courses on sharing your faith have explicitly taught people not to get involved in responding to questions and objections but just to “share their experience” because “no one can argue with that”? Too many. It’s no wonder then that the congregation comes away with the sneaking suspicion that our Christian faith is no better grounded than Mormonism and that we, like they, must depend chiefly on the burning in the bosom.

And one can always push the blame further back. Perhaps the pastors weren’t taught Christian evidences at their seminaries.

In fact, I would not be surprised if all too many theologians who give high-falutin’ rationalizations for being anti-evidentialist are actually making a virtue out of what they deem to be a necessity. Since they don’t think Christian faith is founded on fact, they might as well make up some profound-sounding theological theory that tells us that it shouldn’t be.

When Nathanael asks Philip, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip simply says, “Come and see.” (John 1:46) And he brings him to Jesus. If you as a parent or mentor to the young are opposed to the study of Christian evidences partly because deep down you suspect that they aren’t very good, I can only say to you as well, “Come and see.”

by Lydia McGrew

find more @ http://www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2013/09/why_christian_parents_get_nerv.html

A People Set For Restoration

This week I posed what I suspected would be a valuable question: “In your experience, or studied understanding, what are some “poor excuses” for multiple churches/congregations who “teach the same things” in a given locality? Feel free to respond privately as well.” I received a wide range of responses both publicly and in a private format.  At a later point I will address some of those comments. For today I thought it best to consider how things are, rather than how did get here. With that in mind, and know that many hurt as I do about the deep divison among those who claim to follow the Christ

Be Forgiving

If you really want reconciliation, our foremost importance is the ability to forgive and let the hardness of the past fade. We all know it hurt, but will it not hurt more to let the injury exist untended?

21Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22J*sus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.g

23“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.h 24When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.i 25And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26So the servantj fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.28But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii,k and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers,l until he should pay all his debt. 35So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:21-35 ESV)

Be Ready for Forgivness

I have lost track of how often folks worry so deeply if the one they hurt will or could ever forgive them. When they finally build up the courage they need to beg for forgiveness they often behave with such amazement! They wonder how it is they could ever have waited so long to have things right again. If you really want to be a person set for reconciliation, be ready to accept forgiveness openly.

7A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8(For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13Jesus said to her,“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.b The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” (John 4:7-15 ESV)

Be A Disciple

Jesus declared a simple truth:

15“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (John 14:15 ESV)

Instill within yourself a deep love of Christ, and you will find yourself seeking to be at peace with God and if possible all men. Were there one thing you could do to help build a bridge, it would be to teach people to love the Christ.

Be An Example

Finally make sure you show reconciliation both in matters involving those who claim Christ, but also to all men.

6If you put these things before the brothers,a you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. 7Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10For to this end we toil and strive,b because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

11Command and teach these things. 12Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15Practice these things, immerse yourself in them,c so that all may see your progress. 16Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4:6-16 ESV)

Called to Lead: 26 Leadership Lessons from the Life of the Apostle Paul, by John MacArthur

Another valuable read, though at times sprinkled with his own denominational leanings. John MacArthur is a noted author and provides a nice counter piece on developing leadership. He pulls away from the common cyclical themes shown in most corporate/business focused works and seeks to present a Biblical model of success. With his emphasis on Paul we can hopefully learn some vital principles to help those who lead, lead well.
available at Amazon: Called to Lead: 26 Leadership Lessons from the Life of the Apostle Paul

Enriching the depth and meaning of our prayers.

be Plain:

“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6 (ESV)

I’m sure in public prayer you have either heard someone use a common phrase or two, or perhaps struggle to form what to them should be a near Shakespearean piece of prose. I want to suggest that keeping our language clear and direct will not only allow us to generate greater focus, it will in all respects allow us to zero in on what really in on and within our hearts.

be Specific

We should be aware that God really does know our hearts, and there is no reason not to apply that truth in both public and private matters. When our heart is begging that someone be healed, tell him who it is. Let those you lead in prayer know it too. Don’t hold back, don’t hem and hah. Just let it be.

be Open

It may be one of the most challenging points for today, but we vitally need to open up when we commune with our maker. I know it can be hard to let out your weaknesses, to cry aloud not only for the sins of the nation, but your own. But we need to, desperately. If we believe that prayer works, then be open about what you need.

be Mindful

It should go without saying that the old adage “be careful what you wish for… you just might get it” needs to have a place in your conversations with God. Further we need to make the full effort to match how we pray, with how we live.

“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your trespasses” Mark 11:25-26 (ESV)


Thoughts on walking away from God, by Doy Moyer

walk away-764751We sometimes hear about “de-conversion” stories where someone who grew up being taught about Christ, or who had become a Christian, rejects God to become an atheist. There are a number of reasons this may happen. They all have a story. Some argue that they have now seen the light of science and are no longer going to allow themselves to brainwashed. Typically, all they have done is traded authorities. How many have actually seen firsthand all the evidence that they have been told about or read in some textbook? While they rail against what they’ve been “told” while growing up, they now accept, almost blindly, what someone else tells them. And they fail to see the irony of it all. They haven’t changed how they receive what they are taught (read it, hear it), but they have changed what sources they think are important.

Why do they de-convert? Some cite their inability to have an answer for something specific they have been asked. Unable to answer, and thinking there is no answer, they give up. Sadly, giving up in apologetics shows a shallowness that is not very flattering to those who think of themselves as intellectuals. Apologetics has both a breadth and depth that goes well beyond any cursory attempts to provide one-liner type answers. Hard work is necessary, and every ounce of work is worthwhile.

“Easy for you to say.” Not at all. I could, if I wanted, recount the troubles of my youth. I could tell you of my own faith that wavered and teetered in ways I am not proud of — my “faith” that failed so early on. I could tell the heartbreaking story of my brother who tossed his faith aside for many years, and the terribly difficult questions broached during those years. This drove me into apologetics. I could tell stories of my anger at God. I’ve had reasons to give up. I’ve had reasons to disbelieve. But at the end of the day, though my faith was not easy, none of those reasons were valid.

If you have doubts, I plead with you not to use them to turn from God. Do not use them to justify wrong-doing. Use them to seek, search, knock, and ask. Use them to make your faith your own.

rekindling the fire to Proclaim the Good news

Match-on-fire1James Nored wrote the following series a while back in which he raises some salient questions and provides his answers to them. In my opinion he does not provide answers to his questions that match the simplicity of the Bible.

“I recently toured a church in our fellowship that just redid their auditorium. They had an incredible set up. Three huge screens, incredible lighting, stadium seating. I immediately thought two things: 1) this must have cost a lot of money–we could never afford this; and 2) I would love to preach in this atmosphere, because it would be incredible. It would be experiential” James Nored

Wes McAdams does a fine job responding to the core of what was missing in his article Experience Driven Church.

  1. Why are Churches of Christ Shrinking? – Part 1: A Left-Brained Fellowship in a Right-Brained World
  2. Why are Churches of Christ Shrinking? – Part 2: Failure to Understand that it is an Increasingly Unchurched, Post-Christian World
  3. Why Churches of Christ Are Shrinking – Part 3: A Misplaced Identity and a Failure to Truly Believe in Grace
  4. Why Do Churches of Christ Have Hope and a Future? – Part 1: A Reawakening to Ancient Faith & Practices Such as Baptism & the Lord’s Supper

If I were to suggest some solutions to the growing challenge of reaching the lost in our present culture, it would include:

  • When asked about the Christ, discuss “righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come”.
  • In the manner of your life, let people see that you love your brethren.
  • Do not be ashamed of your King.
  • Be empowered by holy living.
  • Get the seed out of the bag and start sowing!
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