“How to help everyone participate in corporate worship”, part 3

The Sunday Sample: Episode 37

We want full participation – what to do when we don’t get it?

This is the third episode in a mini-series looking at some suggestions. This week: What’s wrong with ritual?

Please leave a comment and pass the link on.
God bless,
Malcolm
“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

“How and why to pray the prayer of penthos”

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 40

Is there a place for tears in prayer? Is crying a sign of indisciplined emotions? Or is it a sign of spiritual health?
 
I bring you a fifth look at the book by Richard Foster, “Prayer: finding the heart’s true home”. In the most recent chapter I’ve been reading, Richard talks about the significance of the “Prayer of tears”, or, ‘Penthos’.
 
 
Last week we look to biblical examples of penthos. Old Testament characters, Jesus, and the apostle Paul. All found the ‘prayer of tears’ to be spiritually beneficial. This week we will explore the spiritual benefits of Penthos.
 

1. A source of joy

It might sound unlikely. Certainly, it is paradoxical. But, tears lead to joy. The Psalmist understood this: “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.” (Psalms 126:5 NIV11) Some years ago the church I loved was virtually destroyed by a combination of our own sin, and the disciplining hand of God. I was not the only one who cried at the state of the church. And I was not the only one who despaired for a positive future. 

However, I took some time to go away, climb a Welsh mountain, and open my heart to God. I confessed my sins. I confessed our sins. I admitted my fears about the future. My heart broke and I wept. After some time, I felt a deep sense of assurance. I realised that my heart was in sync with the heart of God. I knew for a certainty that he felt as I did. And, joy of joys, it dawned on me that he had not given up on me or the church. Therefore, there was hope. This hope burst upon me with deep joy. 

I went up the mountain heavy laden. I came down the mountain with a light heart.

2. A source of inner growth

Parts of who I am remain hidden to me. The undergrowth of my soul is too thick for ordinary prayers to penetrate. Developing the emotional side of my relationship with God reveals more of who I am. As Foster says in his book,
 
“..unless the emotive centre of our lives is touched, it is as if a fuse remains unlit.”
 
In the prayer of penthos we allow God, we invite God to part the tall grass and reveal what is beyond our sight. Sometimes what comes into view are aspects of our character. At other times it is our sinfulness. How do we discover the truth? Let me lay out the steps suggested by Foster:
 
  • Ask: Request that God help you to have a soft heart. Trust what David knew, that God will not despise, “a broken and contrite heart.” (Psalms 51:17 NIV11)
  • Confess: Open up to God about the sin of which you are clear. As C.S. Lewis said, ‘The true Christian’s nostril is to be continually attentive to the inner cesspool.’
  • Receive: Trust that God, “will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NIV11) Do not give in to the Devil’s lie that you are unworthy. Of course you are unworthy! That’s why Jesus went to the cross. But now, because of his victory, and your adoption, you are made worthy.
  • Obey: Where it is within your power, do right to the people you have wronged. Change your behaviour in areas where you have damaged your relationship with God.
Developing the emotional side of my relationship with God reveals more of who I am Click To Tweet

Conclusion

The prayer of penthos may not come naturally to you. That’s OK. We have a lifetime to develop all these different aspects of our relationship with God. Be patient with yourself. Be kind to yourself. God is.
 

Question

Why not try the four-step process above? If you do, let me know how it goes. Do you feel any hesitation in asking God to help you with the prayer of penthos? Can you identify what it is that is holding you back?
 
Please leave a comment here so that we can all learn from one another. We learn best when we learn in community.
 
I hope you have a wonderful week of fulfilling quiet times.
 
God bless, Malcolm

 
Get coached on Coach.me

“How to talk meaningfully about the communion: Part 4”

Tuesday Teaching Tips: Episode 110

I have a passion to do my best to make sure that our congregation’s members can take a meaningful communion every week. I believe we can avoid dull repetition and boredom. And the opposite problem of going off-topic in such of creativity. The answer, as usual, is to go deeper. I have taught on the atonement a few times, and found this to be tremendously helpful in my thinking about the communion.

I share today about one of the models of the atonement – that called, “Healing”.

Let me know what you think of this model. In what way is it helpful? How could this view of atonement be brought to life in a communion talk?  What scriptures, images, stories would give people sense of being healed, as they take bread and wine, that they are restored, reconciled, adopted into God’s family?

Please leave a comment in the comment box below. We learn best when we learn in community.

Please pass the link to this recording on to one other person so that they may benefit.

Click like, and subscribe you haven’t already done so. If you have time, leave a review which will help us gain greater visibility for these recordings.

Thanks so much for watching and listening. I hope you have a terrific Tuesday and a wonderful week.

God bless, Malcolm

Scriptures referenced or alluded to in this recording:

“The atonement means that the relationship between humans and God is restored (healed). The central piece in this restoration is that God, through the Servant who personally takes on all our iniquities, grants forgiveness of sins….The punishment for our sins, which was often meted out in terms of suffering, sickness and calamity, has also been taken on by that Servant. His absorption of both the sin and its punishment is the means to our healing and restoration, by grace bringing us shalom or well-being in all its richness.” The Nature of the Atonement”, p130

“How to help everyone participate in corporate worship”, part 2

The Sunday Sample: Episode 36

We want full participation – what to do when we don’t get it?
Here is the second of our mini-series looking at some suggestions. This week: “Who’s who?”

Please leave a comment and pass the link on.
God bless,
Malcolm
“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

“The place of penthos in prayer”

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 39

Is there a place for tears in prayer? Is crying a sign of indisciplined emotions? Or is it a sign of spiritual health? 

I bring you a fourth look at the book by Richard Foster, “Prayer: finding the heart’s true home”. Richard talks about the significance of the “Prayer of tears”, or, ‘Penthos’.

What is ‘penthos’?

According to the Mounce’s Expository Dictionary, it means,

“to mourn, grieve, bewail. This word is used in contexts of mourning over disasters or grieving the loss of someone. Mourning is often associated with weeping. While in classical Greek usage, penthos was a passion that a wise person must intentionally avoid, in the NT mourning is encouraged in contexts of sorrow over grievous sin and is acceptable and appropriate in cases of overwhelming disasters.” Mounce, William D., D. Matthew Smith, and Miles V. Van Pelt, eds. MED. Accordance electronic edition, version 1.3. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006.

Not being the most emotionally demonstrative person, I question the appropriateness of tears in prayer. We will take a couple of weeks looking at this, but today let’s survey some biblical examples.

1. Old Testament

Some classic Old Testament crying personalities include Isaiah, “I drench you with my tears O Heshbon and Elealeh.” Isaiah 16:9. Jeremiah, of course, is often called the “weeping prophet” – “O that my head were a spring of water, and my eyes a fountain of tears, so that I might weep day and night for the slain of my poor people!” Jeremiah 9:1.

Several Psalmists spent time crying, “Every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping.” Psalm 6:6. “Put my tears in your bottle. Are they not on your record?” Psalm 56:8. “My tears have been my food day and night.” Psalm 43:3

2. Jesus

Was Jesus a crying person? The writer to the Hebrews tells us he, “offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears” Hebrews 5:7.

He wept at the tomb of Lazarus, John 11:35.

He taught, “blessed are those who mourn”, Matthew 5:4. He was kind to Mary when she washed his feet with her tears, Luke 7:36-50.

3. Paul

Paul a tough guy. Was he someone who cried? 

He came to Asia “serving the Lord with all humility and with tears”, Acts 20:19. He warned “everyone with tears” Acts 20:31, and when he wrote to the church in Corinth he did so, “out of much distress and anguish of heart and with many tears”. He rejoiced that they had godly sorrow which led to repentance, 2 Corinthians 7:7-11.

Conclusion

If the Old Testament Prophets and Psalmists, if Jesus and the Apostle Paul were all people who cried in a healthy way, who are we to resist it?

Next time we will go on to look at the potential spiritual benefits to us of praying this “prayer of tears”. 

Between now and then, why not have a look at some of the other examples of spiritual men and women shedding tears. What do you learn about their relationship with God? 

Questions

Do you shy away from crying in your prayers? If so, why might that be? What do you think could be a spiritual benefit to you being more in tune emotionally with your sin, the broken heart of God and the sins of this world?

Please leave a comment here so that we can all learn from one another. We learn best when we learn in community.

I hope you have a wonderful week of fulfilling quiet times.

God bless, Malcolm

 

Get coached on Coach.me

“How to talk meaningfully about the Communion”: Part 3

Tuesday Teaching Tips: Episode 109

I have a passion to do my best to make sure that our congregation’s members can take a meaningful communion every week. I believe we can avoid dull repetition and boredom. And the opposite problem of going off-topic in such of creativity. The answer, as usual, is to go deeper. I have taught on the atonement a few times, and found this to be tremendously helpful in my thinking about the communion. I share today about one of the models of the atonement – that called, “Substitutionary”.

Let me know what you think of this model. In what way is it helpful? How could this view of atonement be brought to life in a communion talk? What scriptures, images, stories would give people confidence, as they take bread and wine, that their sin-debt has been paid, that their guilt has been removed, that Jesus died in their place ?

Please leave a comment in the comment box below. We learn best when we learn in community.

Please pass the link to this recording on to one other person so that they may benefit.

Click like, and subscribe you haven’t already done so. If you have time, leave a review which will help us gain greater visibility for these recordings.

Thanks so much for watching and listening. I hope you have a terrific Tuesday and a wonderful week.

God bless, Malcolm

Scriptures referenced or alluded to in this recording:

“How to help the nearby needy”

Thames Valley churches of Christ Class

How can we help the nearby needy? We run through an overview of the Bible’s teaching on helping the needy from the Old Testament to Jesus, to the early church, and the Apostle Paul.

A discussion followed (not recorded) based on three questions:

i. Who are my nearby needy?

ii. How can I help my nearby needy?

iii. How can my family group help our nearby needy?

The handout is here.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about the Bible or the Christian faith? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions.

Thanks again for watching. Have a super day.

God bless,

Malcolm

“How to help everyone participate in corporate worship”, part 1

The Sunday Sample: Episode 35

We want full participation – what to do when we don’t get it?

Here is the first in a mini-series looking at some suggestions. This week: assess the capabilities of your congregation.

Please share your ideas here by leaving a comment.

And please pass this on to one other person.

God bless, Malcolm

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

“How to go deep into your spiritual self without drowning”

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 38

I bring you a third look at the book by Richard Foster, “Prayer: finding the heart’s true home”.

Today, we examine the ‘examen’. What does it take to know ourselves? How do we get deep without drowning in introspection?

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

(Psa 139:23–24)

Our relationship with God will never develop if we stay in the shallows. However, how do we get deep without becoming introspective? Richard Foster offers this perspective:

“I do not mean to turn inward by becoming ever more introspective, nor do I mean to turn inward in hopes of finding within ourselves some special inner strength or an inner saviour who will deliver us. Vain search! No, it is not a journey into ourselves that we are undertaking but a journey through ourselves so that we can emerge from the deepest level of the self into God.”

We are not trying to get deep for the sake of it. But, if we do not go deep we will not discover the deepest level of ourselves, and how God can help us.  If we are going to find God in our deepest self we are going to need to deal with the fear of what we may discover.  Richard submits this prayer as a way of being honest about her fears, but not controlled by them:

“Precious Saviour, why do I fear your scrutiny? Yours is an examen of love. Still, I am afraid… Afraid of what may surface. Even so, I invite you to search me to the depths so that I may know myself – and you – in full measure. Amen”

Suggested methods

If you want to experiment with the examen, try meditating on scripture. For example,
  • A Psalm
  • The Lord’s prayer
  • The Ten commandments
  • The start of the Sermon on the Mount

Try something specific for a week, a month, a year. Let me know how it goes.

Question

Have you tried the examen? How did it go? What did you learn? How did you feel?

Please leave a comment here so that we can all learn from one another. We learn best when we learn in community.

I hope you have a wonderful week of fulfilling quiet times..

God bless, Malcolm

 

Get coached on Coach.me

“How to talk meaningfully about the Communion”: Part 2

Tuesday Teaching Tips: Episode 108

I have a passion to do my best to make sure that our congregation’s members can take a meaningful communion every week. I believe we can avoid dull repetition and boredom. And the opposite problem of going off-topic in such of creativity. The answer, as usual, is to go deeper. I have taught on the atonement a few times, and found this to be tremendously helpful in my thinking about the communion. I share today about one of the models of the atonement – that called, “Christus Victor”.

Let me know what you think of this model. In what way is it helpful? How might it assist you in preparing a talk about the communion? What scriptures, images, stories would give people confidence, as they take bread and wine, that they are set free, released and on the winning side?

Please leave a comment in the comment box below. We learn best when we learn in community.

Please pass the link to this recording on to one other person so that they may benefit.

Click like, and subscribe you haven’t already done so. If you have time, leave a review which will help us gain greater visibility for these recordings.

Thanks so much for watching and listening. I hope you have a terrific Tuesday and a wonderful week.

God bless, Malcolm

Scriptures referenced: