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I am in a season of life that is busier than ever there was one before. I thought (or hoped) that finishing school would reacquaint me to the stress-less life of freedom I previously experienced twenty-four years ago, before I started school. Nope. The day after I graduated, our first little one was born, introducing us to an entirely new means of time consumption. Additionally, I work more hours per week and have accumulated more vocational responsibilities than formerly assigned. Then there's home maintenance, financial budgeting, grocery shopping, car problems, emails, a little TV, more car problems, and bit of blogging, all of this pushing out time for spiritual and physical discipline and family cultivation. But in all of this craziness I am getting twenty minute snippets of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, as I ride the bus to work.

Through one particular chapter of this book the Holy Spirit is convicting me to the core, as Pete Scazzero addresses the perpetual forward motion in my life. The chapter is titled, "Discover the Rhythms of the Daily Office and Sabbath: Stopping to Breathe the Air of Eternity." God is exposing my utter disobedience to his command for me to rest. And it's true. Every moment of every day I'm moving, moving, moving. Even when I sleep it seems like I'm only doing it to get quickly charged up in order to keep going, and going, and going, just like you know who. I'm beginning to put the pieces together, now, as to why I have constantly been tired and artificially motivated for the past four months. I haven't been stopping. What Scazzero suggests is that I establish a stop-and-go rhythm in my daily life.

Throughout history, from Bible times to now, the people of God have taken regular breaks. Key figures, such as King David, Jesus, St. Benedict, and Martin Luther, would stop what they were doing multiple times daily to seek God. Christians around the world have taken to the Daily Office, which is composed of such elements as stopping, centering, silence, and Scripture. The Jewish Sabbath, instituted and commanded by God, allowed for God's people to rest weekly, and the Law also provided for more extended seasons of sabbatical. Why? Because they needed it, the earth needed it, God wanted it, we still need it, and God still wants it. Sabbath encourages us to stop, rest, delight, and contemplate.

So, why am I "still going"? Because I don't think I have time to stop. The absurdity in this is astounding. It is sheer disobedience on my part, causing more stress, task incompletion, frustration, and anxiety than if I would just flow with God's wonderful design.

All this to say, in order to worship God, we must stop what we are doing and focus on what He is doing. What happens when you snap a photo while you're moving? The image is distorted. In the same way we must be still in order to see God clearly.

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Imperative Worship


The title of this blog site (Reform worship.) is an imperative command. We are telling ourselves and asking you to reform worship. In our minds it is imperative that we continue refining and expanding our understanding and practice of worship. I like imperative commands. Not because I think I'm right, and it's imperative that you change, but because of the challenges that come with imperatives, first to myself then to others.

I also like imperative commands in praise and worship songs. For example, the hymn "Come Ye Sinners" calls everyone to find refuge in the loving arms of Jesus. As we are singing the song, we are, in a sense, inviting each other into Christ's embrace, singing to one another in a very communal way. This type of corporate communion is somewhat rare in the average American worship service. In a culture where individualism thrives, the church can be uncomfortable collectively worshiping God, especially singing to one another. We are most comfortable singing in the first-person singular to God, "I love you, Lord." We are also fine with singing songs about God, "The Lord is gracious and compassionate." But we are much less accustomed to exhorting one another in song, "Come ye sinners."

Last year I wrote a song with the intention of breaking myself out of this mold. It has turned out to be one of the more effective songs our congregation sings together. I believe it has something to do with the imperative nature of the lyrics and the communal worship experience it facilitates.


    He Is the Lord

    Open up your heart
    Let the Spirit sing
    Stand aside and wait
    For the Lord, for your King
    Open up your ears
    Listen to the song
    Saints of every age
    Every voice sings along

    He is the Lord
    He is the Lord
    He is the Lord
    Jesus is Lord

    Open up your lips
    Tell of what He's done
    Dwelt among the lost
    Wholly God and a son
    Opened sightless eyes
    Light no more concealed
    Spoke of things to come
    Word of God, truth revealed

    Open up your eyes
    Testify of grace
    Cling onto the cross
    Perfect love, God's embrace
    Open up your mind
    Mystery of life
    Gaze into the grave
    Jesus Christ is alive

    Keep us believing
    Give us the faith to keep on believing, Lord
    Keep us confessing
    Give us the grace to keep on confessing, Lord


Other songs consisting of imperative commands that I can think of off the top of my mind include:

  • "Oh Praise Him" (Turn your ear to heaven.)
  • "Give Thanks" (Give thanks with a grateful heart.)
  • "All Who Are Thirsty" (Come to the fountain.)
  • "How Great Is Our God" (Sing with me. [Although, in my opinion "sing with me" is kind of an awkward lyric to lead.]).

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Worship Trash


My brother and his wife attend an urban church. During one particular Sunday worship service, instead of the usual singing of songs before the sermon, everyone was given a trash bag and went around the neighborhood picking up garbage and talking to each other about what God has been doing in their lives. They reconvened after a short time, filled the stage with trash, and continued worshiping.

As I have relayed this story to others, I have had mixed reactions. Some think it is awesome to break out of the typical Sunday morning routine and do something like this. Others believe singing should always be a part of Sunday worship, and they are not so quick to throw unpredictibility at the people.

I believe Sunday worship should be a time for a gathering of people to collectively exalt the Name and Word of God (Ps. 138), and the ways in which we worship should aid the people in such a response.

So, is picking up trash one such way of glorifiying God? Is there a place for this in Sunday worship? Might worship leader-less churches benefit from creative alternatives to music in church?

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