What is true worship?

I have been attending worship services since I was about two weeks old.  Most, but not all, of these have been services in a Baptist tradition (an American Baptist tradition).  But this does not mean that this worship has been similar.  I have worshipped, and led worship, that might be considered “traditional” – with hymns, responsive readings, pastoral prayers, and sermons preached from the pulpit.  I have worshipped, and led worship, that might be considered “liturgical” or high church/high steeple – with printed and spoken liturgy, pipe organ, written prayers, robed clergy and choir.  I have worshiped, and led worship, that might be considered “contemporary” – with praise bands, choruses, video projection and clips, a preacher standing among the people, extemporaneous prayers and a few “amens” from the congregation.  I have worshiped, and led worship, that might be considered “contemplative” – with Taize music and chants, long periods of silence and prayer, warm visuals, candlelight and quiet background music.

These services have occurred in the humble country Baptist church of my upbringing, suburban and urban sanctuaries, modern worship space, a new church start that met in an exercise facility, outdoors under the stars and in a cave, in old rustic chapels at camp and in state parks, and in the beautiful sacred space at 3300 Fairlawn Drive in Columbus, Indiana.  The places contributed to the worship experience, of that there is no doubt; but not more so than the people.  I’ve worshipped in small groups, medium size groups, and large groups; with family and loved ones, covenant members of the same congregation, and complete strangers.  I learned to worship sitting next to my Grandmother and my parents, my attention being directed to the hymnal, the sermon, or the prayer.  I have been blessed to collaborate on worship with some truly gifted servants of Christ. Continue reading

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This Land is . . .

One of the campfire songs my family of origin often shared during my formative years was Woodie Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land”.  We sang that tune all across the USA as we traveled with our parents each summer on a two or three week trek, leaving our Indiana home right after the completion of the 4-H fair and returning in time to start school.  I’ve thought of that song the past couple of weeks as I took a trip to the West coast with my own family and once again enjoyed the beauty of our home land.  In fact some of the lyrics coincided with our travels “from California” and the “Redwood Forest”.

Guthrie’s song wraps up with the phrase “this land was made for you and me”.  Continue reading

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July 9, 2017 · 10:50 pm

Eyes to See as God Sees

The prayer focus for today on our FBC Columbus prayer calendar invites us to pray “to see as God sees”.  Let’s stop and think about this for a moment.

What does God see?  Everything.  All things. Each one. From the smallest to the largest, the least to the greatest.  God sees all.

How can we possibly see all that God sees? Continue reading

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Day by day . . .

There is a phrase that appears twice in Acts 2:46&47: “day by day”.  The first time it says, Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. That is followed up in the next sentence with: “And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”

This is a picture of life in the early church.  It gives us some insight into what the disciples of Jesus did in the days after Pentecost.  It’s always been an inviting picture to me, as the church sort of found its way together and enjoyed the blessings of God’s work in their midst.  It’s the text I’ve invited our congregation to pray through this week as we continue a prayer focus related to a revitalization initiative we are sharing.

I’ve never been very good at living “day by day”, have you? Continue reading

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Mulling Mulberries

It’s mulberry season!  What? That doesn’t cause your taste buds to salivate?  Mine either.

While on a bike ride around town I could not help but notice how many mulberry trees are currently dropping their fruit all over the pavement, sidewalks, People trail, and any other ground cover that’s within reach.  The tell tale signs of purple stains are a sure give away that this year’s crop is once again abundant.  And the birds are happy about that.

I grew up with a mulberry tree growing in the fence row which just happened to border our back yard basketball court.  This pesky tree and I had a love-hate relationship.  Actually the tree probably could’ve cared less how I felt about it.  But it did illicit some strong emotions from me. Continue reading

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