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
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
When I was in seminary I completed a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) in a hospital setting one summer. My particular assignment was on a heart specialty floor where I related to patients and families identified as CABG recipients. In the vernacular of the medical profession CABG (pronounced “cabbage” – though it has nothing to do with a vegetable) stands for Coronary Artery By-pass Graft. In other words these folks (the cabbage patients) were having heart by-pass surgery. They were on that floor due to heart trouble.
In John 14:1 Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” That was not always a good verse to share as a hospital chaplain on the CABG floor! Heart trouble had landed the occupants of that floor in those rooms. Often they were there post heart attack – perhaps the most troubled condition our hearts can physically endure.
Of course Jesus wasn’t addressing the physicality or anatomy of the human heart muscle when he shared these words in John 14:1. Continue reading
You can watch our FREE archived webinar “Leadership with Questions” produced by Judson Press here.
Webinar Description: Do you ever grow tired of being expected to have all the answers? What if you tried leading others with questions? What if, through questions, you helped others find the answers to the challenges of church life and personal discipleship?
There is a phrase I often think of this time of the year. It’s associated with my dad in my thinking. “What do you want for Christmas, daddy?” was our childhood question. To which he almost always replied, “Peace in the valley.”
As children we did not find that answer to be particularly helpful, nor easily understood. I can remember puzzling over it in my thinking: Where is this valley? Why isn’t there any peace there? We did not live in a valley, though we lived near one – Chad valley. Dad’s workplace was located, more or less, in that valley. Maybe that was it? We’d been through valleys on family vacations. The one that comes to mind is Maggie Valley in North Carolina. It was located on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Perhaps they needed peace? But the ease with which dad let his seasonal response roll off his tongue led me to believe there was more to this – this peace, in the valley; this valley peace.
Those of you who know gospel music will recognize this phrase as the title of a song. Continue reading