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Public Prayer In Corporate Worship

Damien offered a response to my post on repentance in corporate worship.
A helpful resource for those leading prayer during corporate worship (especially churches whose worship follows some application of the dialogical principle, the concept of worship as covenant reaffirmation, God speaks, the people respond) is the Jan/Feb 2008 9Marks ejournal.

Articles include:
A Biblical Theology of Corporate Prayer (How corporate prayer is really a shadow and a type of the gospel itself.) By James M. Hamilton Jr. and Jonathan Leeman
Recommendations for Improving Public Prayer (A compelling case for why Scriptural prayers and planned prayers are best for the congregation.) By Terry L. Johnson and J. Ligon Duncan III
Corporate Aspects of the Lord’s Prayer (With the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray both with one another and for one another.) By Philip Graham Ryken
Thirty Two Principles for Public Prayer (Eighteen things not to do and fourteen things to do when praying publicly.) By J. Ligon Duncan III (following Samuel Miller)

A wonderful treatment of pastoral prayer can be found in The Pastor’s Public Ministry by Terry L. Johnson. A short (82pgs) monograph of a book, it’s well worth seeking out. You won’t find it in Australia. Monergism is one place you can get it.
The Reformers Bookshop would do well to get it in stock.


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Baptismal Dual Practice – One Church’s Story

Jared Wilson writes about the adoption of what he terms ‘baptismal dual practice’.
Wilson pastors an independant congregation which has members who represent both what I’ll call the ‘covenant family’ and ‘professing believer’ positions on baptism.
As part of a confessing body of churches this issue is not one that we would deal with constitutionally at a local level, but as a reformed/evangelical church in a country town we have folk fellowship with us who do not hold to our understanding of baptism.
I appreciated the sensitivity that Wilson demonstrates as he seeks to walk through this issue with the church he serves.
Read: ‘Our Church And Dual Baptismal Practice’.


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Bald Heads, Biblical Theology and Song

Fifteen years ago or so I was teaching the account of Elisha, the youths and the bears with a flannelgraph to a mixed primary kids club.
One of the parents was mortified and didn’t believe the story was in the Bible until she looked it up.

Like Ehud and his sword, these are the sorts of stories that never got mentioned in Sunday School.

I have vague memories of my preaching lecturer, Peter Bloomfield, mentioning this episode with particular relish as well. (And not entirely for biblically theological reasons.)

The song below has a reasonable stab at expanding the biblical-theological significance of the story.
In a very memorable way.

HT: Sorrow Into Joy.


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My Heart Is Filled With Thankfulness – Sunday Songs

My Heart Is Filled With Thankfulness is a Townend and Getty composition from 2003.
The big attraction here is that the Christian’s thankfulness is completely grounded in Christ. His suffering God’s judgement for our sins in our place, His daily presence with us and His eternal presence at the Father’s right hand.
Not a shred of sentimentality or mistaken emphasis on secondary circumstances as the ground of thankfulness. Christ alone.

The lyrics:
1.
My heart is filled with thankfulness
To him who bore my pain;
Who plumbed the depths of my disgrace
And gave me life again;
Who crushed my curse of sinfulness,
And clothed me with his light,
And wrote his law of righteousness,
With pow’r upon my heart.
2.
My heart is filled with thankfulness
To him who walks beside;
Who floods my weaknesses with strength
And causes fears to fly;
Whose every promise is enough
For every step I take,
Sustaining me with arms of love
And crowning me with grace.
3.
My heart is filled with thankfulness
To him who reigns above;
Whose wisdom is my perfect peace,
Whose every thought is love.
For every day I have on earth
Is given by the King;
So I will give my life, my all,
To love and follow him.

Copyright © 2003 Kingsway’s Thankyou Music

Two YouTubes, the first is representative of the more usual slower arrangement that expresses thankfulness as a reflective testimony. Kristyn and Keith Getty perform this at a telethon, so it’s a bit slower than normal.

The second is a more brisk arrangment, that I think seeks to express the song in an air of joyful thanks, by Stuart Townend that features on his ‘Creation Sings’ CD .


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Preaching Christ From Ecclesiastes 1:1-11

Greidanus’ outlines seven legitimate ways of preaching Christ from the Old Testament.

Now he brings these seven to bear on Ecclesiastes 1:1-11
As he’s already noted, two of his seven, promise fulfillment and typology, are not applicable in the main to Ecclesiastes.
Here are scant summaries of how Greidanus treats the other five:
Redemptive-Historical Progression: the statement ‘there is nothing new under the sun’ seems to cast a melancholy pall over this search for meaning; Jesus self conciously presents Himself as something new. In His newness there is hope for life and eternity.
Analogy: the New Testament teaching of Jesus can be understood to echo the teaching of Ecclesiastes that there is no security or meaning in material possessions. Jesus points us beyond putting our store in this life, setting our heart not on that which perishes, but on the Kingdom of God.
Longitudinal Themes: the futility of toil reflects the curse located in Genesis, and finds relief in the call of Jesus, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.’
New Testament References: Romans 8 and the reference to creation subjected to futility and James’ reference to humnanity as breath or mist. (James is not directly Christological.)
Contrast: Paul encourages the Christian to remember that their labour in the Lord is not in vain. Jesus also affirms the fruitfulness of our lives in Him in John 15.

Note the way that aspects of these points overlap one another in places.
So, what we have here is not preaching Christ in a way that seems like the magician’s pulling a rabbit from a hat, but rather preaching the text in a way that demonstrates the continuity of the text’s thesis with the rest of Scripture; and also the way in which Jesus references that theme in both His own teaching, and how He references Himself as being the solution to it.
Greidanus then goes on to demonstrate how these various observations can be referenced in a single sermon on the passage.
Reading this done as well as this is helpful in developing skill in preaching the Old Testament.


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Self-Understanding At The Foot Of The Cross

Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to say to us, ‘I am here because of you.  It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.’  Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross.  All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary.  It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size.

John R. W. Stott, The Message of Galatians (London, 1968), page 179.

HT: Because of me a post from: Ray Ortlund.


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Corporate Confession Of Sin

Kevin DeYoung writes about ‘Why We Need Confession Of Sin’ and observes the Christian’s need to confess, both corporately and privately. DeYoung contents that in modern church services:

…. even less frequently do we bewail our sins together on Sunday morning. This is a shame. If your church does not regularly confess sin and receive God’s assurance of pardon you are missing an essential element of corporate worship. It’s in the weekly prayer of confession that we experience the gospel. It’s here that we find punk kids and Ph.D.’s humbled together, admitting the same human nature. It’s here we, like Pilgrim, can unload our burden at the foot of the cross.

At Against Heresies, Martin Downes onposts a prayer of confession by Richard Baxter.

The following helpful prayer of confession was penned by the seventeenth century Puritan Richard Baxter:

O most great, most just and gracious God; you are of purer eyes than to behold iniquity; but you have promised mercy through Jesus Christ to all who repent and believe in him.
Therefore we confess that we are sinful by nature and that we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God.
We have neglected and abused your holy worship and your holy name. We have dealt unjustly and uncharitably with our neighbours. We have not sought first your kingdom and righteousness.
We have not been content with our daily bread.
You have revealed your wonderful love to us in Christ and offered us pardon and salvation in him; but we have turned away.
We have run into temptation; and the sin that we should have hated, we have committed.
Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father! We confess you alone are our hope. Make us your children and give us the Spirit of your Son, our only Saviour. Amen