The Gospel of an Imperfect Worship Service

I subscribe to Seth Godin’s blog. I enjoy his short, pithy posts, often full of wisdom about life, productivity, and service to others. Saturday morning, I opened my email to find a new post from him in my inbox—“A note from 2020.” The content was simple and insightful: “Twelve years from now, your future self is going to thank you for something you did today, for an asset you began to build, a habit you formed, a seed you planted.”

The first thing that struck me, however, was not the content but the math error. 2020 is not twelve years from now. I followed the link to his blog, which opened to the same title but quickly refreshed to “2030.” Seth had caught his error.

I laughed. And I relaxed. This was good news. Even Seth Godin, a master of social media and blogging, knows that moment of panic and frustration when you discover your error five minutes after it publishes. The content of Seth’s post served me, even with the error. It reminded me that I don’t have to be perfect to serve people well on social media.

The same holds in our corporate worship services.

Those of us who lead services, serve in music, prepare service guides, preach sermons, read scripture, pray publicly, manage audio-visual components, and attend worship serves need to hear this message: Mistakes preach good news. Continue reading “The Gospel of an Imperfect Worship Service”

The Gospel and Family Traditions

I’m thankful to Risen Motherhood for the invitation to write about how the Bible speaks to tradition. The piece is called “Gospel Thinking: How Do We Decide Our Family Traditions.” Here’s an excerpt:

Efforts to keep Christ in our traditions can bring us into conflict with the world and family. Days of travel, feasting, gifts, games, and small-talk may not feel “Christ-centered.” In my 20s, I found myself burdened with guilt around holidays and notable seasons, feeling that I wasn’t ever doing enough to honor Jesus. As a young father, I felt like a failure. I wondered if I had the best traditions to ensure my kids treasured Jesus and would follow him all their days.

Relief arrived when I considered what the Bible had to say about traditions and “holy days.”

Read the rest here. Be sure to download RM’s free equipping printable with discussion questions here.

I previously wrote a piece for Risen Motherhood on miscarriage, which you can find in my “Dads Hurt Too” series.

#DadsHurtToo (Part 6) — Miscarriage and the Gospel

Dads Hurt Too: A Father's Memoir of MiscarriageThis is the concluding post in a series on miscarriage and the Gospel — “#DadsHurtToo — A Father’s Memoir of Miscarriage.”

It’s been almost three years since our last miscarriage. Wounds are healing. Yet, I’d be lying if I said those foxes don’t still bark and nip from time to time. They bark, but the Gospel speaks. Continue reading “#DadsHurtToo (Part 6) — Miscarriage and the Gospel”

“They Are All Gone!” — A Song on Forgiveness Inspired by Charles Spurgeon

A few weeks ago, a friend sent me this paragraph from Charles Spurgeon’s sermon “Forgiveness Made Easy:”

All our transgressions are swept away at once, carried off as by a flood, and so completely removed from us that no guilty trace of them remains They are all gone!

O ye believers, think of this, for the all is no little thing: sins against a holy God, sins against his loving Son, sins against gospel as well as against law, sins against man as well as against God, sins of the body as well as sins of the mind, sins as numerous as the sands on the sea shore, and as great as the sea itself: all, all are removed from us as far as the east is from the west. All this evil was rolled into one great mass, and laid upon Jesus, and having borne it all he has made an end of it for ever.

When the Lord forgave us he forgave us the whole debt. He did not take the bill and say, “I strike out this item and that,” but the pen went through it all;—PAID. It was a receipt in full of all demands, Jesus took the handwriting which was against us and nailed it to his cross, to show before the entire universe that its power to condemn us had ceased for ever. We have in him a full forgiveness.

She suggested that there might be a corporate reading for our worship service in there. As I read it, song lyrics naturally emerged. Within a few minutes, I had the first draft of a song, which I sent off to David Ward. Continue reading ““They Are All Gone!” — A Song on Forgiveness Inspired by Charles Spurgeon”

Worshiping God After a Hurricane

The Fury of the WindIn early September of 2005, I traveled to Biloxi, Mississippi to work with a disaster relief crew following Hurricane Katrina. We spent ten days preparing and delivering meals to survivors, those whose lives and possessions had been ravaged by the wind and water.

As an Iowa native, I’ve seen what weather can do. We’re no strangers to tornadic destruction. But the aftermath of Katrina was unlike anything I’d ever seen in person.

v1a - FuryAs we worked that week and then returned home, the words of Job stuck in my head (Job 26:14): “Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?” Continue reading “Worshiping God After a Hurricane”

We Are Listeners — What Do We Hear?

Let Them HearWe are listeners. It makes sense that, if the Lord created the heavens and the earth by his Word, then his creatures would be wired to listen.

Our problem is not that we listen. The problem is the voices to which we listen. This too is evident in the creation story. Adam and Eve did not fail because they listened, but because they listened to the voice of the serpent and not of the Lord.

We follow after our first parents, walking through a world filled with a thousand voices. Continue reading “We Are Listeners — What Do We Hear?”