Why we Worship

PSALM 47

Clap your hands, all peoples!
  Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared,
  a great king over all the earth.
He subdued peoples under us,
  and nations under our feet.
He chose our heritage for us,
  the pride of Jacob whom he loves.

God has gone up with a shout,
  the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises!
  Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth;
  sing praises with a psalm!

Why Sing?

God reigns over the nations;
  God sits on his holy throne.
The princes of the peoples gather
  as the people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
  he is highly exalted!


Why Scripture?



 
Truth of
Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! (Psalm 43:3)


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November 9, 2008

Certain men and women hear from God at key times, and see with eyes that are unimpeded by the smog of culture. David Wells is one such person worth listening to.


Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets. Amos 3:7

From David Wells, GOD IN THE WASTELAND:

We have turned to a God we can use rather that to a God we must obey; we have turned to a God who will fulfill our needs rather than to a God before whom we must surrender our rights to our selves. 

He is a God for us, for our satisfaction - not because we have learned to think of him in this way through Christ but because we have learned to think of him this way thorough the marketplace. 

In the marketplace, everything is for us, for our pleasure, for our satisfaction, and we have come to assume that it must be so in the church as well.  And so we transform the God of mercy into a God who is at our mercy. 

We imagine that he is benign, that he will acquiesce as we toy with his reality and to co-opt him in the promotion of our ventures and careers.  Thus do we presume to restrain him in a Weberian cage of this-wordly preoccupation. 

Thus do we tighten our grip upon him,  And if the sunshine of his benign grace fails to warm us as we expect, if he fails to shower prosperity and success on us, we will find ourselves unable to believe in him anymore.
   
What has been lost in all of this, of course, is God's angularity, the sharp edges that truth so often has and that he has preeminently.  It is our fallenness fleshed out in our modernity that makes God smooth, that imagines he will accommodate our instincts, shabby and self-centered as they so often are, because he is love.
   
In a psychologized culture such as ours, there is deep affinity for what is relational but a dis-ease with what is moral.  This carries over into the church as an infatuation with the love of God and an embarrassment at his holiness. 

We who are modern find it infinitely easier to believe that God is like a Rogerian therapist who empathetically solicits our knowledge of ourselves and passes judgment on none of it that to think that he could have had any serious business to conduct with Moses.
   
This peculiarity of the modern disposition, this loss of substance and vigor, betrays our misunderstanding of God's immanence, his relatedness to creation.  We imagine that the great purposes of life are psychological rather than moral. 

We imagine that the great purposes of life are realized in the improvement of our own private inner disposition.  We imagine that for those who love God and are called according to his purpose, all things work together for their satisfaction and the inner tranquility of their lives.  Modernity has secured the triumph of the therapeutic over the moral even in the church. 
   
The face it, of course, that the New Testament never promises anyone a life of psychological wholeness or offers a guarantee of the consumer's satisfaction with Christ.  To the contrary, it offers the prospect of indignities, loss, damage, disease, and pain. The faithful in Scripture were scorned, beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked, and executed. 

The gospel offers no promises that contemporary believers will be spared these experiences, that they will be able to settle down to the sanitized comfort of an inner life freed of stresses, pains, and ambiguities; it simply promises that through Christ, God will walk with us in all the dark places of life, that he has the power and the will to invest his promises with reality, and that even the shadows are made to serve his glory and our best interests. 

A therapeutic culture will be inclined to view such promises as something of a disappointment; those who understand that reality is at heart moral because God is centrally holy will be satisfied that this is all they need to know.

GOD IN THE WASTELAND David Wells page 114-115

Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts....Hebrews 3:15





God's Map - Theology

September 28, 2008

During the Middle Ages, theology was referred to as the Queen of the Sciences." But more lately it has been in a steady freefall. Just what has been lost? According ot C. S. Lewis, we have lost our map. And that spells trouble.


C. S. Lewis, on the value of theology....
   

I remember once when I had been giving a talk to the RAF, an old hard-bitten officer got up and said, 'I've no use for all that stuff ! But, mind you, I'm a religious man too. I know there's a God, I've felt him: out alone in the desert at night: the tremendous mystery. And that's just why I don't believe all your neat little dogmas and formulas about Him.

To anyone who's met the real thing, they all seem so petty and pedantic and unreal ! ' "Now in a sense, I quite agreed with that man. I think he had probably had a real experience of God in the desert. And when he turned from that experience to the Christian creeds, I think he really was turning from something real to something less real.

In the same way, if a man has once looked at the Atlantic from the beach, and then goes and looks at a map of the Atlantic, he also will be turning from something real to something less real... But here comes the point. The map is admittedly only colored paper, but there are two things you have to remember about it. In the first place, it is based on what hundreds and thousands of people have found out by sailing the real Atlantic. In that way, it has behind it masses of experience just as real as the one you could have from the beach; only while yours would be a single isolated glimpse, the map fits all those different experiences together.

In the second place, if you want to go anywhere, the map is absolutely necessary. As long as you are content with walks along the beach, your own glimpses are far more fun that looking at a map. But the map is going to be of far more use than walks on the beach if you want to get to America.

Now Theology is like a map. Merely learning and thinking about Christian doctrines, if you stop there, is less real and less exciting than the sort of thing my friend got in the desert. Doctrines are not God: they are only a kind of map. But that map is based on hundreds of people who really were in touch with God - experiences compared with which any thrills or pious feelings you and I are likely to get on our own are very elementary and very confused.

And secondly, if you want to get any further, you must use the map. ...In fact, that is just why a vague religion - all about feeling God in nature, and so on - is so attractive. It is all thrills and no work: like watching the waves from the beach. But you will not get to Newfoundland by studying the Atlantic that way, and you will not get eternal life by simply feeling the presence of God in flowers or music. Neither will you get anywhere by looking at maps without going to sea, nor will you be very safe if you go to sea without a map.          C.S. Lewis MERE CHRISTIANITY





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