Heterogeneity

This week's worship quote is another from the pen of author John Stott, rector emeritus of London's All Souls Church.

HETEROGENEITY

”It is of course a fact that people like to worship with their own kith and kin, and with their own kind, as experts in church growth remind us; and it may be necessary to acquiesce in different congregations according to language, which is the most formidable barrier of all. But heterogeneity is of the essence of the church, since it is the one and only community in the world in which Christ has broken down all dividing walls. The vision we have been given of the church triumphant is of a company drawn from "every nation, tribe, people and language," who are all singing God's praises in unison (Rev. 7:19). So we must declare that a homogeneous church is a defective church, which must work penitently and perseveringly towards heterogeneity."

--John Stott, ROMANS: GOD'S GOOD NEWS FOR THE WORLD (InterVarsity Press, 1994)

[Does that hit close to home for you? It does for me.] 
Have a great week! Chip

Theology and Worship

Theology and Worship

Today's WQOTW deals with that delicate balance (or combination) of "head and heart" that is needed as we come to worship God. The author is John Stott.

THEOLOGICAL DEVOTION
It is important to note from Romans 1-11 that theology (our belief about God) and doxology (our worship of God) should never be separated.

On the one hand, there can be no doxology without theology. It is not possible to worship an unknown god. All true worship is a response to the self-revelation of God in Christ and Scripture, and arises from our reflection on who he is and what he has done. It was the tremendous truths of Romans 1-11 which provoked Paul's outburst of praise in verses 33-36 of chapter 11. The worship of God is evoked, informed and inspired by the vision of God. Worship without theology is bound to degenerate into idolatry. Hence the indispensable place of Scripture in both public and private devotion. It is the Word of God which calls forth the worship of God.

On the other hand, there should be no theology without doxology. There is something fundamentally flawed about a purely academic interest in God. God is not an appropriate object for cool, critical, detached, scientific observation and evaluation. No, the true knowledge of God will always lead us to worship, as it did Paul. Our place is on our faces before him in adoration. 

As I believe Bishop Handley Moule said at the end of the last century, we must "beware equally of an undevotional theology and of an untheological devotion."

-- John Stott, ROMANS: GOD'S GOOD NEWS FOR THE WORLD, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, 1994

Have a great week,
Chip Stam


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

Empty Religion

This week the WQOTW comes from John Stott. 

We need to listen again to the biblical criticism of religion. No book, even by Marx and his followers, is more scathing of empty religion than the Bible. The prophets of the eighth and seventh centuries BC were outspoken in their denunciation of the formalism and hypocrisy of Israelite worship. Jesus then applied their critique to the Pharisees of his day: "These people . . . . honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me" (Is. 29:13; Mk. 7:6). And this indictment of religion by the Old Testament prophets and by Jesus is uncomfortably applicable to us and our churches today. Too much of our worship is ritual without reality, form without power, fun without fear, religion without God.

--John Stott, in THE CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN (InterVarsity Press, 1992)

Have a great week,

Chip Stam


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

John 1

The WQOTW is one of those passages that helps us see the Bethlehem event in its place in the bigger picture. It's from the first chapter of THE GOSPEL OF JOHN (The Message, NAVPRESS, 1993). Open to a big screen for easier reading.

The Word was first,
the Word present to God,
God present to the Word.
The Word was God,
in readiness for God from day one.

Everything was created through him;
nothing - not one thing! -
came into being without him.
What came into existence was Life,
and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn't put it out. . . . 

The Life-Light was the real thing;
Every person entering Life
he brings into Light.
He was in the world,
the world was there through him,
and yet the world didn't even notice.
He came to his own people,
but they didn't want him.
But whoever did want him,
who believed he was who he claimed
and would do what he said,
He made to be their true selves,
their child-of-God selves.
These are the God-begotten,
not blood-begotten,
not flesh-begotten,
not sex-begotten.

The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.


Do we still see that glory? Personally? Corporately?

Have a great day!

Chip Stam


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



Woman at the Well

The Worship Quote of the Week comes from the account of Jesus talking with the Samaritan woman (A. K. A. the woman at the well) found in John 4. If you have time, read the whole story. (John 4:1-26) If not,

THE WOMAN AT THE WELL
(SCENE at Jaob's well, Sychar in Samaria, about the sixth hour)

Jesus: You worship what you do not know. . . Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is a spirit and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.

Woman: I know the Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes he will explain everything to us.

Jesus: I who speak to you am he!


What does it mean? Spirit and Truth?

Have a great week. 

Chip Stam


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

The Tax Man

The Worship Quote of the Week comes from one of Jesus' parables and deals with our attitude in prayer. 

THE STORY OF THE TAX MAN AND THE PHARISEE (from Luke 18).
He told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: "Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: 'Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people--robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.'

"Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, 'God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.'"

Jesus commented, "This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you're going to end up flat on your face, but if you're content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself." 

(from *THE MESSAGE: The New Testament in
Contemporary Language,* by Eugene Peterson, NavPress, 1993)

What would Jesus say about our quickness to criticize others, what I call the "us-and-them" factor?

Have a great week,

Chip Stam


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

Giving Thanks vs. Being Thankful

Have you thought about the difference between "giving thanks" and "being thankful"?

Today's WORSHIP QUOTE OF THE WEEK directs our thoughts to the spiritual attitude of gratitude. The author, Henri Nouwen, writes about the prodigal son's older brother.

GRATITUDE
Resentment and gratitude cannot coexist, since resentment blocks the perception and experience of life as a gift. My resentment tells me that I don't receive what I deserve. It always manifests itself in envy.

Gratitude, however, goes beyond the "mine" and "thine" and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.

Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint. I can choose to grateful when I am criticized, even when my heart still responds in bitterness. I can choose to speak about goodness and beauty, even when my inner eye still looks for someone to accuse or something to call ugly. I can choose to listen to the voices of forgiveness and to look at the faces that smile, even while I still hear words of revenge and see grimaces of hatred.

There is always the choice between resentment and gratitude because God has appeared in my darkness, urged me to come home, and declared in a voice filled with affection: "You are with me always, and all I have is yours."

======================

-Henri J. M. Nouwen, from THE RETURN OF THE PRODIGAL SON: A STORY OF HOMECOMING, Image Books/Doubleday, 1994.

[Dear Lord, thank you again for your steady and lavish (prodigal) love. Protect me from a spirit of resentment, and nurture in me a deep sense of gratitude for all that is mine because of my relationship with you. Amen!]

Have a great week,
Chip Stam


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


Life of God-Worship

Here's another WORSHIP QUOTE from the Sermon on the Mount, this time from chapter 6 of Matthew's gospel.

First, how good is your memory?

". . . for where your treasure is, there ____________ ."

Here's the way this section reads in THE MESSAGE. Notice the heading that Eugene Peterson puts on these verses.

A LIFE OF GOD-WORSHIP
"Don't hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or - worse! - stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it is safe from moth and rust and burglars. It's obvious, isn't it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.

Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!

You can't worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you'll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can't worship God and Money both.

If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life that the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds."

- Matthew 6:19-24 from THE MESSAGE: The New Testament in Contemporary English, by Eugene H. Peterson, NavPress, 1993.

Have a great week of God-worship,

Chip Stam


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


Tozer, Worship, and Work

"It was A. W. Tozer who reminded us that we are here to be worshipers first
and workers only second. We take a convert and immediately make a worker out
of that person. God never meant it to be so. God meant that a convert should
learn to be a worshiper, and after that he or she can learn to be a worker.
The work done by a worshiper will have eternity in it."

-from James O. Abrahamson's *Put Your Best Foot Forward: How to Minister from
Your Strength,* Abington Press, 1994 (Chapter 3, "The Reaching-Up
(Worship-Centered Church")

Have you ever been too busy to worship? Is it possible to work so hard for
the Lord, that we are hindered in responding to his love and grace? 

Have a great week,
Chip Stam


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


Lewis on Gratitude and Adoration

Gratitude and AdorationConcerning Prayers of Praise: It seems that it is easy for us (for me at least) to get stuck in prayers of thanksgiving, forgetting the importance of pure adoration of God. This week's quote is from C.S. Lewis' book, LETTERS TO MALCOLM: CHIEFLY ON PRAYER. This one sent me to the dictionary.


GRATITUDE AND ADORATION
Gratitude exclaims, "How good of God to give me this." Adoration says, "What
must be the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary coruscations
are like this!" One's mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun.

And courtesy of Mr. Webster, we have:
Coruscation, n. A glittering or flashing; a quick vibration of light;
intellectual brilliancy. 

Have a great day, 

Chip Stam


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