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Showing posts from June, 2020

Worship without Singing

The Guidance has been issued by Her Majesty’s Government for the re-opening of churches for public worship, and now it's clear that we won’t be able to sing for quite some time yet. And yet for Pentecostals (and many other charismatics and evangelicals), singing tends to be a major part of what we do when we gather to worship together. I’ve already seen chatter online about whether it’s possible to worship without song, or whether churches should open in July when it will be possible in England and Northern Ireland (NB there is still no date for the opening of churches for public worship in Wales and Scotland) or wait until later in the hope that it’ll be possible to sing then. Others have been asking what we’d do in church if we can’t sing.

So, I thought it might be useful to think about worship without singing and to draw some wisdom from Pentecostals of the past for ways they encouraged worship without song.

Can we worship together without singing?For many of us, singing and musi…

Psalm 5: Jesus the Just

In Psalm 5 we encounter the first of the imprecatory Psalms ⁠— Psalms which call down God's judgment. This Psalm calls upon the Lord to pronounce the wicked 'guilty' and 'cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions' (v.10). But how could we, who have been boastful (v.5), who have spoken falsehood (v.6), who have been unfaithful (v.9), who have flattered others with our tongues (v.9), who have rebelled against the Lord (v.10) ever call down God's guilty verdict on others who have sinned like us? Parts of this Psalm sit uneasily on our lips.
And yet, they don't sit in any way uneasily on the lips of the Chief Musician — Jesus, our true worship leader. As the Sinless One, He can call down God's judgment on sin without hypocrisy. As the One to whom the Father 'has entrusted all judgment' (John 5:22), He can justly pronounce the guilty verdict. 
And yet, this Sinless One who can call down God's judgment in this Psalm, is the One who bear…

Ways to Pray: Praying the Bible

As we pray to the Father, Jesus leads us in prayer and the Holy Spirit helps us pray. So our prayer involves the Word (because Jesus is the Word) and the Spirit. We can never separate the Spirit from the Word, because we can't divide the Trinity. So, if we know that we need the Holy Spirit in prayer (which I'm sure Pentecostals do know), then we need to know as well that we can't divide the Spirit from the Word. Our prayers rely on Jesus — the Living Word — and He leads us in prayer through the Spirit-inspired Scriptures — the Written Word. The Holy Spirit works by the Word, even in prayer. 
So, one of the reasons the Scriptures have been given is to lead us in prayer. I've already written about the importance of rooting our prayer in Scripture when I wrote about the Daily Office and about praying all the Psalms. There we were thinking particularly about praying the very words of Scriptural prayers. But today I want to think a bit more widely about being led in prayer b…

Some Daily Encouragement in Prayer: Our New Prayer Podcast

To help and encourage you in prayer, we're broadcasting Morning and Evening Prayer each day (Monday-Saturday) at the Pentecostal Prayerbook.

Morning Prayer (available from 7am UK time): words here to pray alongEvening Prayer (available from 5pm UK time): words here to pray along Each podcast will last 15 minutes or a bit less and includes a chapter from the Old Testament, a chapter from the New Testament, and a Psalm, as well as prayers of confession, of praise, of faith (the Apostle's Creed), and some prayers for the day. (At the minute, it's just me on the podcasts, but I'm hoping I'll be able to get some other people involved to pray along with me as well as we go on.) 
To find out a bit more about Morning and Evening Prayer and why they're a helpful way to pray, have a look at this post.
We'll also be posting a short podcast each lunchtime to help you to meditate upon a Scripture. Especially in this time of lockdown, many people are finding it hard to c…

Psalm 4: The Worship Leader and the Shining Face of God

With its final confident declaration, ‘I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety,’ the fourth Psalm is a favourite for night-time. Yet this Psalm is much more than a simple bedtime prayer. Although nowadays it’s prayed by millions of people every night (it is, after all, the first Psalm of Compline, that last time of daily prayer before sleeping), David originally gave the instructions for singing it to only one person: the ‘chief musician’ or ‘choirmaster’ (depending on what translation you’re using). This was the worship leader who led Israel in praise in the Tabernacle and Temple, and that’s who, first and foremost, sings this Psalm – the worship leader.

But if that makes you think of a solo from a chap with skinny jeans, a guitar, and a hipster beard (my apologies to all those who lead congregations in song at this point!), it might be worth thinking again. Who is our worship leader? The New Testament never uses a term anything like…

Psalm 3: The One who Lay Down and Slept

The words of Psalm 3 are the first words that pass my lips each morning. And the same has been true of many Christians all over the world for centuries. (In both the Eastern and Western churches, the Daily Office begins with this Psalm each day.) But why would so many Christians throughout the centuries start the day with words written by a king who reigned a thousand years before the birth of Christ, ‘when he fled from Absalom his son’? The title gives this Psalm a very specific historical context, so how can it have anything to do with us today, or with Jesus?

Well, the New Testament tells us that David, the Psalmist, was a prophet who foresaw Jesus’ day and spoke ‘concerning the resurrection of the Christ’ (Acts 2:31). David was the Lord’s Anointed, and so it was as the Anointed One that he wrote his Psalms, speaking prophetically in the voice of great David’s greater Son, the ultimate Anointed One, who, although descended from David would be David’s Lord. In His earthly life, Jesu…

Psalm 2: Kiss the Son

In Psalm 1 we met Jesus as the Righteous Man, our Representative and Substitute, to whom we're united, and in whom we bear fruit. Now in Psalm 2 we meet Him as the Lord's Anointed (Ps 2:2) and as the Son (vv. 7, 12).

While Psalm 1 spoke of peace, prosperity, and fruitfulness, Psalm 2 speaks of tumult and war. Yes, Jesus is the one in whom peace is found, but the nations of the earth don't want His peace (Ps 2:1-3). Although what's found in His peace is prosperity and fruitfulness, the rulers of this earth can only see  'bonds' and 'chords' (v.3). As they look on at a distance, Christ's reign looks to them like limitation and restriction, rather than prosperity and fruitfulness.

And sometimes we can be tempted to buy into their perspective too. Instead of realising that 'if the Son makes you free you shall be free indeed' (Jn 8:36) and recognising that His 'yoke is easy and [His] burden is light' (Mt 11:30), we can foolishly cherish …

Psalm 1: Blessed is Jesus, the Righteous Man

Psalm 1 is about a man. Not people in general, or even a person in general, but a man. A specific man. Although a few recent translations have attempted gender neutral language for this Psalm (either with a singular 'one' or a plural 'they'), the original specifically uses the word for a man. And yet the contrast is with the ungodly, the sinners, and the scornful in the plural. It's one man by himself on one side, versus all the ungodly on the other side.

And, not only can this one man stand over against all the ungodly, but he's also quite an impressive man. He delights constantly in God's law and 'whatever he does shall prosper.' While the wicked are blown away like the chaff, this one man stands firm and fruitful. The ungodly cannot stand before God's judgment, but this one man still stands and prospers. The ungodly perish, but this one man is righteous. 
Who could it be? Well, obviously I've given away the answer in the title to this po…