Swenson on God Time

Do you have time in your life for God? Is there enough quiet to hear the voice of the Almighty? Today's Worship Quote offers a challenge to our hectic, clock-watching, often Godless schedules.

EVERYONE NEEDS GOD TIME
Because He is not temporally pushy about His agenda, God is too easy to forget. He just waits... and waits. What does He think of "efficient" prayers? What happened to the "Be still and know that I am God" times? Societies that have the accelerator to the floor are doomed to become God-less. Speed does not yield devotion... The clock and Christ are not close friends. Imagine what God thinks of us now that we are so locked into schedules that we have locked ourselves out of the Sermon on the Mount - it is hardly possible to walk a second mile today without offending one's pocket calendar. We jump at the alarm of a Seiko but sleep through the call of the Almighty.

- Richard M. Swenson, Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, NavPress, 1992, 154.


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Brooks on a Life Without Prayer

He was born in Boston in 1835 and educated at Harvard and at Virginia Theological Seminary. Most remembered today as the author of "O Little Town of Bethlehem," he was actually one of the most famous American preachers of the nineteenth century. Today's Worship Quote comes from the pen of Phillips Brooks.

LIFE WITHOUT PRAYER
If man is man and God is God, to live without prayer is not merely an awful thing: it is an infinitely foolish thing.

-Phillips Brooks (1835-1893)


CHIP’S THOUGHTS

"…take it to the Lord in prayer."

Have a great week!


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Anselm on Desiring God

Today's Worship Quote is from St. Anselm. He served as Archbishop of Canterbury and is sometimes referred to as the "father of scholasticism." He may be most famous for his "ontological proof" - an attempt to prove by logic that God exists.

DESIRING GOD
O Lord our God,
Grant us grace to desire you with our whole heart,
  that so desiring we may seek and find you;
  and so finding you; we may love you;
  and loving you, we may hate those sins from which you
    have redeemed us,
  for the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen.

- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109), Proslogion.


CHIP’S THOUGHTS

Lord, thank you for seeking us before we knew to seek after you. Thank you for loving us long before we ever loved you. Amen!

Have a great week!


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Gaddy on Silence in Worship

Our corporate worship experiences are often marked by exuberant praise and spectacular musical celebrations, but today's Worship Quote is an encouragement to also take advantage of actual silence in our worship of God.

SILENCE IN WORSHIP
In worship, silence is far more that the absence of sound. Silence constitutes a vital part of the divine-human dialogue. In silence, worshipers can experience interchanges with God that will not be known where silence does not prevail.

- C. Welton Gaddy, The Gift of Worship, Broadman Press, 1992.


CHIP’S THOUGHTS

Be still and know that he is God (Psalm 46).

Have a great week!


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Hustad on Worship and Relationship

Today's Worship Quote is another that points not to forms of worship, but to worship as an appropriate loving relationship with God (and with others). The author is Donald Hustad.

TRUE WORSHIP IS RELATIONSHIP
How do we minister to and worship God in spirit and truth? Jesus gave us an answer as he quoted words from the Torah which every Jew of his time knew from memory: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength"; then he added, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:30-31). Worshiping God and loving God are not absolutely synonymous, but they are closely related, perhaps like opposite sides of a continuous circle. This great commandment says that true worship is determined not so much by the words "traditional" or "contemporary," but by relationship – our relationship with God and our relationship with other persons. Worshiping God begins and ends with loving God more than anything or anyone else in the world. It should be apparent then that no person worships God who does not have a love relationship with God. Further, no person worships God acceptably who is not in loving relationship with other human beings, who are "neighbors."

Don Hustad in True Worship: Reclaiming the Wonder and Majesty, Harold Shaw Publishers, 1998.


CHIP’S THOUGHTS

Lord, thank you for being the initiator of this loving relationship of worship. Help us to respond to your love in spirit and truth. Amen!

Have a great week!


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Madeleine L'Engle on Words and Prayer

Today's Worship Quote is a poem about prayer-specifically, about the inadequacy of words when it comes to communion with God.

WORD
I, who live by words, am wordless when
I try my words in prayer. All language turns
To silence. Prayer will take my words and then
Reveal their emptiness. The stilled voice learns
To hold its peace, to listen with the heart
To silence that is joy, is adoration.
The self is shattered, all words torn apart
In this strange patterned time of contemplation
That, in time, breaks time, breaks words, breaks me,
And then, in silence, leaves me healed and mended.
I leave, returned to language, for I see
Through words, even when all words are ended.
   I, who live by words, am wordless when
   I turn me to the Word to pray. Amen.

-Madeleine L'Engle, The Weather of the Heart, Harold Shaw Publishers, 1978, 60.


CHIP’S THOUGHTS

Sometimes words fall short. My response to God in worship and prayer is not necessarily limited by the power of my vocabulary or the eloquence of my "prayer logic." Sometimes being moved to silence, awe and wonder is an appropriate response to God's mystery and majesty.

Have a great week!


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Augustine on Joy

Today's Worship Quote of the Week is another from the quill of St. Augustine-a testimony to the total life of joyful worship.

THERE IS A JOY
There is a joy which is not given to the ungodly, but to those who love Thee for Thine own sake, whose joy Thou Thyself art. And this is the happy life, to rejoice to Thee, of Thee, for Thee; this it is, and there is no other.

-Augustine of Hippo (354-430), Confessions.


CHIP’S THOUGHTS

Lord, tune our hearts to sing your praise. May our prayer and worship be to you, of you, and for you alone. Amen!

Have a great week!


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Westminster Divines on Singing of Psalms

Today's Worship Quote looks at the use of the Psalter in the worship life of the Puritans (17th century). Remember, this comes from a time when relatively few people could read.

OF SINGING OF PSALMS
It is the duty of Christians to praise God publickly, by singing of Psalms together in the congregation, and also privately in the family. In singing of Psalms, the voice is to be tuneable and gravely ordered; but the chief care must be, to sing with understanding and with grace in the heart, making melody unto the Lord. That the whole congregation may join herein, every one that can read is to have a Psalmbook; and all others not disabled by age or otherwise, are to be exhorted to learn to read. But for the present, it is convenient that the minister or some other fit person appointed by him and other ruling officers, do read the psalm, line by line, before the singing hereof.

- Directory for the Public Worship of God, Assembly of Divines meeting at Westminster, 1644; in Horton Davies The Worship of the English Puritans (Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1997).


CHIP’S THOUGHTS

We've come a long way. It's interesting to me that the church leaders who authored these instructions were addressing many of the same issues that concern us today in our public worship: Why do we sing? What shall we sing? How shall we do it?

Have a great week!


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Bonhoeffer on Singing in Unison and Harmony

The psalmist encourages us to "worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs." But what kind of singing is best for praising God? Do we prefer unison singing with instrumental accompaniment? unaccompanied four-part harmony? or a free-form "anything goes" approach to offering our songs of praise? The history of the church offers a wide variety of strong opinions about the "forms" of our worship in song. Today's Worship Quote is from Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

UNISON OR HARMONY?
There are some destroyers of unison singing in the fellowship that must be rigorously eliminated. There is no place in the service of worship where vanity and bad taste can so intrude as in the singing. There is, first, the improvised second part which one hears almost everywhere. It attempts to give the necessary background, the missing fullness to the soaring unison tone, and thus kills both the words and the tone. There is the bass or the alto who must call everybody's attention to his astonishing range and therefore sings every hymn an octave lower. There is the solo voice that goes swaggering, swelling, blaring, and tremulant from a full chest and drowns out everything else to the glory of its own fine organ. There are the less dangerous foes of congregational singing, the "unmusical," who cannot sing, of whom there are far fewer than we are led to believe, and finally, there are often those also who because of some mood will not join in the singing and thus disturb the fellowship.

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, trans., John Doberstein, (New York City: Harper and Row, 1954), 60.


CHIP’S THOUGHTS

Unison or harmony? What do you think? Is it a spiritual question or simply a matter of personal preference. Even among those who favor the exclusive use of traditional hymnody in worship, some practice unison singing with one special verse in parts, and some favor singing in four-part harmony with one special verse in unison. How does a strong personal opinion factor in when it comes to matters of corporate worship? Tough questions! Keep singing!

Have a great week!


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Queen Elizabeth I on Sixteenth Century Blended Worship

Today's Worship Quote comes from the middle of the 16th century, a time of great transition in the history of Christian worship. It appears that the church leaders were trying to achieve a sort of "blending" of worship styles and traditions. Sound familiar?

SIXTEENTH CENTURY BLENDED WORSHIP
Meanwhile in England, the Established Church substituted a vernacular prose translation for the Vulgate [Latin] Psalms. This was authorized in the three Prayer Books and was ordered to be read through in the course of a month during Matins and Evensong. Together with this official usage, there grew up the extra-liturgical custom of singing a metrical psalm before and after the prescribed order. This custom, which may possibly be traced to the influence of the returned exiles, appears to have obtained official sanction: for in her Injunctions to the clergy in 1559, Queen Elizabeth directed:

"For the comforting as such as delight in music, it may be permitted that at the beginning or end of Common Prayer, either at Morning or Evening, there may be sung a hymn or such like song to the praise of Almighty God, in the best melody and music that may be devised, having respect that the sentence of the hymn be understood and perceived."

- Queen Elizabeth I, quoted in Horton Davies The Worship of the English Puritans (Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1997).


CHIP’S THOUGHTS

In this case, of course, the hymns and metrical Psalms were considered less formal than the prescribed Prayer Book worship.

Have a great week!


To learn more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.