Divine and Human Action

Today's WORSHIP QUOTE is from the introduction to David Peterson's book on the theology of worship, Engaging With God. 


There is no doubt that Scripture has much to say about the part we play in the adoration and service of God. So, worship is often defined quite broadly as our response to God. However, there is an important theological 
context to be considered when worship is considered in such terms. That is, we need to ask what role God plays in the engagement or relationship which is true and acceptable worship. At one level we must discover from his own self-revelation in Scripture what pleases him. We cannot simply determine for ourselves what is honouring to him.

. . . In particular, we need to take seriously the extraordinary biblical perspective that acceptable worship is something made possible for us by God.

Apollos, 1992 (1999 reprint), p. 19.

David Peterson lectures in New Testament at Moore College, Sydney, Australia. He is the author of HEBREWS AND PERFECTION (Cambridge University Press).

Lord, give us a clear picture of ourselves that we may know our need for a Savior. Show us yourself that we may worship you as you desire to be worshiped. Thank you for making it possible for us to draw near. Amen!

Have a great week,
Chip Stam

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

Now Thank We All Our God

Today's WORSHIP QUOTE comes from the very familiar hymn "Now Thank We All Our God."

The poet was Martin Rinkart, a pastor in Eilenburg, Saxony in the early 17th century. He lived at time of great political strife. During the Thirty Years War his city was under siege by Swedish and Austrian armies. In 1637 a
plague swept through the area and during one period of time, since he was the only surviving pastor, he was conducting some 50 funerals a day. What unbelievable hardship! And yet, in the face of all this pain and sorrow, this hymn resounds with clarity and confidence in God's providential care. It also has a great Mother's Day line.

Now thank we all our God with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done, in whom his world rejoices;
Who, from our mother's arms, hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us in his grace and guide us when perplexed, 
And free us from all ills in this world and the next.

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given,
The Son, and him who reigns with them in highest heaven,
The one eternal God whom earth and heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be ever more.

This is thanksgiving that comes out of a poet's understanding of eternal values, not just immediate blessings or temporary comforts and joys. Is there a lesson here for us?

I learned about the life and ministry of Martin Rinkart from the WORSHIP LEADERS' EDITION of *The Worshiping Church* (Hope Publishing Co., 1991).

Have a great week,
Chip Stam

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

I Bind unto Myself

Today's WORSHIP QUOTE is a real oldie goldie, selected verses from "The Breastplate of St. Patrick."
Of course, St. Patrick was the 5th century missionary to Ireland.

I bind unto myself today the strong name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same, the Three in One, the One in Three.

I bind this day to me forever by power of faith Christ's incarnation,
his baptism in the Jordan river, his death on the cross for my salvation;
his bursting from the spiced tomb, his riding up the heavenly way,
his coming at the day of doom I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself today, the power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, his might to stay, his ear to harken to my need,
the wisdom of my God to teach, his hand to guide, is shield to ward,
the Word of God to give me speech, his heavenly host to be my guard.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me;
Christ to comfort and restore me;
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself today the strong name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same, the Three in One, the One in Three.
of whom all nature hath creation, eternal Father, Spirit, Word;
praise to the God of my salvation, salvation is of Christ the Lord.

—St. Patrick, c. 430
—Paraphrase by Cecil Frances Alexander, 1889

Christ be with you, Christ within you,
Chip Stam

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

Shoe You Don't Notice

Today's WORSHIP QUOTE OF THE WEEK is one that will please some of you and trouble others. It has to do with, how comfortable you are with change?

What about when it means a change in your church's worship practice? The author is C. S. Lewis.

"A good shoe is a shoe you don't notice. . . . The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God. But every novelty prevents this. It fixes our attention on the service itself; and thinking about worship is a different thing from worshipping. . . . I can make do with almost any kind of service whatever, if only it will stay put. But if each form is snatched away just when I am beginning to feel at home in it, then I can never make any progress in the art of worship."

- C. S. Lewis, LETTERS TO MALCOLM: CHIEFLY ON PRAYER, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1964. As quoted in AUTHENTIC WORSHIP IN A CHANGING CULTURE, by the seven-member Worship Study Committee for the 1997 Synod of the Christian Reformed Church, CRC Publications, 1997. For information, call 1-800-333-8300.

What do you think?
Is change unsettling or refreshing?

Have a great week,
Chip Stam

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

Saved to Worship

Today’s WORSHIP QUOTE seems to be an amplification of the Westminster Shorter Catechism’s first answer: "Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever."

The author is John MacArthur.

The foundation upon which true worship is based is redemption. The Father and Son have sought to redeem us that we may become worshipers. Jesus said that the Son of Man came into the world to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). In John 4 He reveals the purpose for His seeking: "For such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers" (v. 23). The Father sent Christ to seek and save for the specific purpose of producing worshiping people.

Thus, the objective of redemption is making worshipers. The primary reason we are redeemed is not so that we may escape hell—that is a blessed benefit, but not the major purpose. The central objective for which we are redeemed is not even so that we might enjoy the manifold eternal blessings of God. In fact, the supreme motive in our redemptive is not for US to receive anything. Rather, we have been redeemed so that God may receive worship—so that our lives might glorify Him. Any personal blessing for us is a divine response to the fulfillment of that supreme purpose.

— John MacArthur, Jr., from THE ULTIMATE PRIORITY, Chicago: Moody Press, 1983, p. 23. ISBN 0-8024-0186-4. John MacArthur is pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church of the Valley, Sun Valley, California.

Have a great day!

Chip Stam

Christmas This week

Christmas This week, two short quotes from C.S. Lewis.

from GOD IN THE DOCK, "The Grand Miracle" -

The Christian story is precisely the story of one grand miracle, the Christian assertion that what is beyond all space and time, what is uncreated, eternal, came into nature, into human nature, descended into His own universe, and rose again, bringing nature up to Him. It is precisely one great miracle. If you take that away there is nothing specifically Christian left.


Just a hurried line . . . to tell a story which puts the contrast between *our* feast of the Nativity and all this ghastly "Xmas" racket at its lowest. My brother heard a woman on a bus say, as the bus passed a church with a Crib outside it, "Oh Lord! They bring religion into everything. Look - they're dragging it even into Christmas now!"

Have a great day. I pray that your Christmas celebration will be not only wonderful, but full of wonder; that it will be not only a holiday, but also a holy day.


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

Overwhelmed by Joy

Many of us are in churches that are using an Advent wreath to help focus our worship in these weeks before Christmas. Realizing that there are many different ways of observing this ancient tradition, I don’t want to impose our planning schedule on yours; but our four Advent themes are Repentance, Anticipation, Joy (this week), and Hope. Today’s WORSHIP QUOTE is a personal reflection on Christian joy by poet Ulrich Schaffer.

[WARNING: This is free verse. If you need regular meter and rhyme in order to enjoy poetry, you’ll have to look elsewhere today.]


I experienced it again today.
You were suddenly there
with your surprising presence.

You were suddenly there
without any visible reason, 
without my having done anything, 
without preparation,
without warning.
Suddenly you were there 
with your complete joy,
With the relaxation which emanates from you, 
with the sense you put back into life.

There you are
And I can only smile
At how connected everything is in my life.

I sense your liberation
and I see that you have come to me
as a human being again
and I am happy to live in that realization.

I become strong in this joy.
My life receives a new elasticity
and becomes interesting for others.

but only because this joy
is in contact with you
because all manufactured, drummed-up joy
leaves a great emptiness behind.

But I also know
that this joy
which seems so secure now
can come to an end very quickly.

I don’t want to think about that.

I do want to think about that
because the beginning of joy,
the climax of joy,
and the end of joy
all come from God,

for those who love God.

Then the amazing thing happens:
joy becomes a background
on which my entire life takes place,
a security which allows me
to bear all uncertainty.

A background that is hardly noticeable
yet creates solidity and perspective 
in the picture.

Ulrich Schaffer, “Overwhelmed by Joy,” from GREATER THAN OUR HEARTS: PRAYERS AND REFLECTIONS. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1981, pp. 101-103.
ISBN 0-06-067088-6

Let every heart prepare Him room.
Have a great week,

Chip Stam

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Today's WORSHIP QUOTE is an amazing insight into a familiar advent text.

I suppose that many of you are in churches that sang (or will sing) the great Advent hymn "O Come, O Come Emmanuel." There are seven stanzas to the full text, but in the original version (12th century Latin), the seven verses were meant to be sung at different services on the seven days prior to Christmas Eve, and "our" first verse (O come. O come Emmanuel) was the last one. In Latin, these are known as the GREAT ANTIPHONS or "O" ANTIPHONS, because each one started with the word "O." 

But wait there's more. 

The poet (or poets) who put this together, did an amazing job of weaving in the most delightful hidden message (sort of like playing the record backwards to get hidden meanings).

Here are the beginnings of the verses:

1. O Sapientia (Wisdom from on high) - December 17
2. O Adonai (Lord) - December 18
3. O Radix Jesse (Root of Jesse) - December 19
4. O Clavis David (Key of David) - December 20
5. O Oriens (Dayspring, Light from the East) - December 21
6. O Rex Gentium (King of the Nations) - December 22
7. O Emmanuel (Emmanuel, God with Us) - December 23

What's so special about that?

We'll, there is a wonderful acrostic message build into the structure of the verses. If you take just the first letter of the words that follow the "O" of each verse, you get SARCORE, which means nothing. But if you turn the letters around, you get,

"ERO CRAS," which means "I am tomorrow."

In other words, on December 23, the long-expected Jesus is saying "Tomorrow's my birthday." The various prophetic names used in the text (Key of David, Wisdom from on High, etc.) were selected and ordered in such a way that they pointed to the coming of Messiah. WOW!

Have a great day!

"All Bless the God of Israel" by Jaroslav Vajda c1989

For the upcoming first Sunday of ADVENT, the WQOTW is an advent poem.

ALL BLESS THE GOD OF ISRAEL by Jaroslav Vajda c1989
from *SO MUCH TO SING ABOUT* (Morningstar Publishers 1991)

All bless the God of Israel
for promising Immanuel:
from Abraham, a man like us,
from God, divine and glorious:
someone to share our every woe,
someone to conquer every foe.

All praise the God of Israel
for sending us Immanuel,
to do what God had sworn He would,
what only the Messiah could:
live, die, and rise, and clear the path
to life from certain, endless wrath.

All thank the God of Israel
for being our Immanuel,
whose Spirit opens eyes to see
the Word, the Truth, that makes us free
to live unfettered by our fears, 
to serve our Savior all our years.

All bless the Lord, the God of all,
for Christ, our great Immanuel!
Come, welcome David's greater Son
with Zechariah and with John,
and, living, prove our gratitude
to be the Israel of God.

Based on Luke 1:67-79, the Song of Zechariah.
Can be sung to "Veni, Immanuel" ("O Come, O Come, Immanuel").

Have a great week,

Thanksgiving Quotes

Today’s WORSHIP QUOTE is a collection of short Thanksgiving thoughts. 

"A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues." 
— Cicero, c. 106-43 B.C.

"Pride slays thanksgiving, but an humble mind is the soil out of which thanks naturally grow. A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves."
—Henry Ward Beecher

"The worship most acceptable to God comes from a thankful and cheerful heart."
—Plutarch, c. 100 A.D.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
—Philippians 4:6

"Some people complain that God put thorns on roses, while others praise Him for putting roses on thorns."

"Were there no God, we would be in this glorious world with grateful hearts: and no one to thank."
—Christina Rossetti, 1830-1894

"Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise.
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
His faithfulness continues through all generations." 
—Psalm 100

"O Lord, that lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness." 
—William Shakespeare in HENRY VI, PART II

"Gratitude is the heart’s memory."

"Thou hast given to me so much . . . Give one thing more—a grateful heart." 
—George Herbert, 1593-1633

"In everything give thanks."
—I Thessalonians 5:18

"Be thankful for the smallest blessing, and you will deserve to receive greater. Value the least gifts no less than the greatest, and simple graces as especial favors. If you remember the dignity of the Giver, no gift will seem small or mean, for nothing can be valueless that is given by the most 
high God."
—Thomas à Kempis, 1380-1471

"Count your blessings,
Name them one by one;
Count your blessings,
See what God has done."  
—Johnson Oatman, Jr., 1856-1922

"God gives and forgives. 
Man gets and forgets." 
—bumper sticker

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. AND BE THANKFUL. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom and as you sing psalms, and hymns and spiritual songs WITH GRATITUDE IN YOUR HEARTS TO GOD. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, GIVING THANKS to God the Father through him."
— Colossians 3:15-17

[How easy it is to use our Thanksgiving gatherings and even our Thanksgiving worship to celebrate the glory of our own comforts and accomplishments. Lord, redirect our thanks and our lives. Amen!]

Happy Thanksgiving!

Chip Stam