The Sunday Sample: Episode 85. “Posture in Corporate Worship”

Part 3 – Praying with uplifted hands.

What is the usefulness and relevance of movement and posture in corporate worship? This is the third in a series on this topic inspired by a chapter in “Participating in Worship” by Craig Douglas Erickson.

Today we look at the issue of praying with uplifted hands. 

I’ll admit it, this one makes me uncomfortable. I occasionally lift my hands during private prayer – when I’m confident no one else can see me. I understand that it is a biblical posture for prayer. But the something about it which I find resistance. To which I find myself resisting. Why is this? Perhaps it is something to do with vulnerability. Nonetheless, let’s examine the relevance of uplifted hands in corporate worship.

First of all, the Biblical perspective:

  1. A gesture of invocation – Exodus 9:29
  2. A plea for God’s help – Psalm 27:2; 87:9; 142:6
  3. A blessing of the Lord’s name – Nehemiah 8:6; Psalm 62:4; 133:2.
  4. A blessing of others – Luke 24:50.
  5. Dedicating things into the Lord’s service – 1 Kings 8:22.
  6. Indicating the offering of one’s own self – Psalm 140:2.

The early church appears to have prayed in this way:
“Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.” (1 Timothy 2:8 NIV11)

Tertullian (an early Christian writer) commented that such a posture recalled Christ on the cross: “Not only do we raise them (our hands), we even spread them out, and imitating the passion of our Lord, we confess Christ as we pray.”

To quote Eriksson again, “Through the uplifting of hands the body urges the opening of one’s spirit to God’s blessings. When the palms are directed forward, it expresses and evokes a reverence before the presence of God. With arms lifted high there is a suggestion of surrender, not as that of a vanquished person but of one who freely submits to the kingdom of God.”

These gestures are common in charismatic Christianity and some similar traditions. Not so much in my background or current practice. However, perhaps not only our congregations but I myself should consider the value of this posture in corporate prayer.

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

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

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

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

Three Big Questions Class 3: “Why would a good God allow suffering?”

Three Big Questions

Class 3: “Why would a good God allow suffering?”

Introduction

  • “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect….” (1 Peter 3:15–16 NIV11)

Before you begin

  • Note: this is a sensitive and difficult topic – avoid simplistic answers
  • Ask what it is about this topic that interest them
  • Ask what kind of evidence they would need in order to trust in a good God
  • Ask if they would be open to revising their opinion if convincing evidence/arguments were presented to them
  • Do not trivialise suffering

Introduction: deal with your elephant

If we are going to help people with their questions about suffering, it presupposes that we have worked through our own and found our own perspective on suffering that makes sense to us. 

You have to make peace with your own suffering if you’re going to help other people understand suffering and God. 

Questions needing an answer

  • God could have created a world without suffering. Why didn’t he?
  • Suffering is pointless
  • The fact God allowed suffering shows us he is not a God of love

Positive aspects of suffering 

  • It’s how we g……..

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Heb 12:11

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” Rom 8:28–29

“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:10–11

  • It’s how we find t…..
  • It points us towards G…
    1. “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” CS Lewis, “The Problem of Pain”
  • It m…………….. us to make a difference
    1. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15 NIV11)
    2. ““The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”” (Luke 4:18–19 NIV11)

Conclusion

  • How do these thoughts affect your view of God?
  • How do these thoughts affect your view of Christianity?
  • Would you like to know more?
  • Scripture to share: “Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.”  John 7.17

Resources

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

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

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

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 90. “How to handle praise and criticism”

How do we handle the twin pressures of praise and criticism? What is the healthy spiritual response? What inspiration can we derive from Jesus and the scriptures?

We delve into my teenage memories and an old appraisal……

“Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.” (John 6:15 NIV11)

More Scriptures referred to in this episode: Luke 4.1-11; John 2.25; Proverbs 27.6; Jeremiah 31.3; John 13.35; Revelation 3.9.

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

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

Tuesday Teaching Tips 158, “Brilliant Barnabas – 1 Corinthians 9.6”

Barnabas is brilliant. But what is it that makes him so “effective” as a speaker (Acts 14:1)?  We don’t know much about his technique, but we know a lot about his character and his spirituality.

In this series we will investigate brilliant Barnabas in the book of Acts and beyond. In doing so I hope we will all gain insights which will help us to be as effective as him.

We move on today to 1 Corinthians 9.6.

Thank you for listening to this recording. You can find more teaching tips here and on the on the YouTube teaching tips playlist

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

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org

Thanks again for listening. Have a terrific Tuesday, and a wonderful week.

God bless,

Malcolm 

Three Big Questions Class Two: “Did Jesus Rise?”

We take a look at objections to the resurrection and evidence for it.

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” (1 Peter 3:15–16)

“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

Resources

Next week

  • “Why would a good God allow suffering?”

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

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

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

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

The Sunday Sample: Episode 84. “Posture in Corporate Worship”

Part 2 – standing

What is the usefulness and relevance of movement and posture in corporate worship? This is the second in a series on this topic inspired by a chapter in “Participating in Worship” by Craig Douglas Erickson.

Today we look at the issue of standing. 

We are very well used to standing in church services. But how we thought about its purpose? Do we know why we stand?

There are many postures for prayer, but the most common in the old Testament is standing: Exodus 33:8, 10;  1 Samuel 1:26; Psalm 134; Matthew 6:5; Luke 18:11-13.

Jesus stood to pray and expected that his followers would do so also (Mark 11:25). The people of God stood to listen to God as he spoke to them (Exodus 19:17; Nehemiah 8:5). Jesus stood up to speak and to read in the synagogue (Luke 4:16).

Why do we stand? I would suggest that we stand to indicate three things:

  1. Respect. It’s customary to stand when someone to whom you wish to show respect comes in to a room. Military personnel stand at attention when receiving orders. Those in a courtroom stand when the judge enters. 
  2. Readiness. When standing one is ready to move, to act, to serve. 
  3. Confidence.  Quoting Eriksson, “As a posture for prayer, standing signifies the freedom and dignity of the new covenant. Adopted as God’s children, Christians may stand before God confident that they have been redeemed. Moreover, standing expresses the confidence of Christians as they await the final coming of the Lord. As the elect, they will be able to stand when God appears (Malachi 3:2). Enraptured in heaven, they will stand before the Lamb (Revelations 7:9; 15:2). 

With these thoughts in mind, perhaps we should consider more carefully when we stand in a corporate worship context. Should we stand for the reading of Scripture? Would it be helpful to stand together at the end of the service and receive an exhortation to go out into the world to act for Christ?

Might it be healthy to vary our prayer postures at different points in the service and include standing as one way to exult in the confidence we have in Christ?

Have you tried something like this? Have you seen something like this done well?

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

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

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

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“Three big questions”. Compelling Evidence – “What is the single most significant piece of evidence?”

This Friday’s question is: “Did Jesus really rise from the dead?” We’ll tackle common objections to the resurrection.

However, my question today is this:

“What is the single most significant piece of evidence as far as you are concerned?”

Send me your thoughts and come, if you can, to Bracknell Leisure Centre this Friday 25th May, 8pm. Let’s learn together.

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

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

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

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 89. “Praying for what you don’t really want”

We continue a new series today based on the book, “Unloading the Overload: Stress management for Christians” by Chris Powell and Graham Barker. 

Today’s episode is not based on material in the book, but inspired by its theme.  Let’s explore the issue of praying for things we don’t really want. What is the place for prayer in this challenge?

Jesus spent time praying for God’s will to be done in his life, even when it was tough to do so. We see him doing so in Gethsemane. If he wrestled in praying for the strength to do the will of his Father, then so might we. Can we learn from his example?

I share my own realisation of ceasing to pray about assertiveness and diligence and why this is the case – that I don’t really want to grow in them! At least, not in my flesh. What part does vision play in this dynamic? Are you praying for things you don’t really want? If so, or not, how do you resolve the matter?

Scriptures referred to in this episode: Matthew 26.36ff; Hebrews 5.7; Galatians 5.22-23.

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

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“Three big questions”. Objections to the resurrection 4 – “Jesus’ body was taken away”

This Friday’s question is: “Did Jesus really rise from the dead?” We’ll tackle common objections to the resurrection including today’s, which is:

“Jesus’ body was taken away”

How would you answer this objection? Send me your thoughts and come, if you can, to Bracknell Leisure Centre this Friday 25th May, 8pm. Let’s learn together.

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

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

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

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“Three big questions”. Objections to the resurrection 3 – “Jesus never really died”

This Friday’s question is: “Did Jesus really rise from the dead?” We’ll tackle common objections to the resurrection including today’s, which is:

“Jesus never really died”

How would you answer this objection?

Send me your thoughts and come, if you can, to Bracknell Leisure Centre this Friday 25th May, 8pm. Let’s learn together.

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

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

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

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John