Practical Matters of the Tongue for the Church Regarding Each Other

James 3:1-12 (ESV) 1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

I’ve had some thoughts on my mind for nearly 18 years regarding how Christians use their mouths. from my first ministry experience up until the very present day, I’ve had the “privaledge” (sarcasm) of being the source of talk, rumor and lies. It’s the price of living in the fishbowl of ministry.

However, there are others, who dare to put themselve out there for serving in the body of Christ who take a beating for no cause other than the cowardice of others.

I will not spill the ugly details of past hurts. It would do no good to you or make the points necessary for today’s post.

I have not written about this issue because I have a “sharp tongue”, meaning, I can hurt very easily with my words. I’m not a gossip monger. But I have a “sharp tongue”. So, the natural question comes to mind when I think on this issue of the tongue, “who are you to write or speak about such?” Well, I’m a pastor of a local church who has been in church and global work for 25 years, and I’ve watched the tongue and its misuse devastate people including myself. It must be written about, and it must be dealt with.

The truth is, if you are in leadership you will see the effects of the tongue more than anyone else because you usually get the rotten fallout of unfettered yapping after its far too late, and you get to clean up the mess. Sometimes its about you, and sometimes its about your family, and sometimes its about your co-laborers, and sometimes its about your decisions, and sometimes its about others in your fellowship, and sometimes its about your tribe or doctrinal nuances.

You will always have to make decisions, and when your decisions are public ones people will sin against you. Bottom line.

How do we, inside the fellowship of the local church, care for one another practically when it comes to the use of the tongue? I say “inside the fellowship of the local church” because you can never address or control what people will say in the larger Christian community…like the dude who called me a “neo-conservative” and “Marxist” in a recent post…you can read the comments if you like, they are approved by me for your enjoyment. It’s rather entertaining. So, I can’t control those things, but I can control my covenant fellowship relationships, and so can you.

Here we go:

Don’t feel at liberty to say whatever you want whenever you want under the false guise of “transparency”. 

Transparency is good when it comes to dealing with matters of the soul for healing and for care, but gossip or folly under the banner of “transparency” is sin.

Proverbs 13:3 (ESV) Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life;
he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.

Proverbs 18:7 (ESV) A fool’s mouth is his ruin,
and his lips are a snare to his soul.

Proverbs 21:23 (ESV) Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue
keeps himself out of trouble.

Proverbs 26:28 (ESV) A lying tongue hates its victims,
and a flattering mouth works ruin.

Proverbs 29:11 (ESV) A fool gives full vent to his spirit,
but a wise man quietly holds it back.

Part of our disciples is learning when to speak and when to keep our mouths closed.

This does not mean we shouldn’t speak prophetically the word of the Lord when it’s right and necessary. That gifting is to be worked out in life groups and personal relationships as we learn by trial and error in love for one another.

Kill rumor mongering

The whole “somebody said” stuff kills souls. On more occasions than I care to count, I, my wife, my colleagues, my friends, my church members have been the victim of a coward who will say, “somebody said” but the rumor spreader won’t say who or what exactly was said.

What is the result of such foolishness?

1) Suspicion on the part of the person that stuff was said to. They begin to wonder who said what and don’t know who they can trust.

2) Retreat from community. Why continue to expose oneself to that kind of abuse? What if it was someone you are or supposed to be close to? Is there a proverbial knife in my back from a close associate? Et tu, Brute?

3) The wound of the soul in having false words spread about you, and living with the reality that people think you guilty of something and you can’t even defend yourself against injustice.

Hey, don’t do this….(word I can write in a blog or say in public speaking) stuff. You know what I mean?

If rumors come your way:

1) Have enough personal courage to crush those rumors.

2) Tell the person who is spreading the rumor to stop, and go back to the source and have them stop it. SHUT. IT. DOWN.

3) Guard the innocent victim of the rumor from knowledge of people sinning against them by spreading rumors about them. When you go tell someone “he said you said”, this causes trauma in the soul and unnecessary hurt and frustration. THIS IS A DEBATABLE  POINT, but if you do tell them, you need to advocate for them and help them crush the rumor by going with them to any and all necessary personal appointments to confront source of the rumor. Be courageous not a coward. This is a practical way to love someone. You know you would love this yourself if someone were advocating for you, kept you from hardship and prevented you from trauma. Jesus said to do for others as you would have done for you. Try applying the Golden Rule to rumor mongering.

Knowledge that people are sinning against you does no good to you, rather it hurts you with a hurt that is hard to heal unless the person who informs you has taken steps to stop the sin and is willing to kill the sin against you by advocating for you.

4) If the “rumor” is true, then it still does not need to be spread. Even those “guilty” of some infraction deserve to be treated in an honorable manner.

5) If the “rumor” is serious enough, the victim may need the chance to confront the source of the rumor. Nothing shuts that mess down like the coward who started it all getting confronted by an innocent victim. But this requires discernment on whether the victim needs to receive the wounding of knowing what has been done and knowing if the person who has propagated the rumor would wound them further.

See, we don’t really believe sin to cause death. Playing with and handling sin is like holding an explosive when it goes off. You may survive, but there are parts that will never be the same, and you’ll live with those scars forever.

Rumors and sinning against one another does the same thing to the soul. So, don’t play with sin.

The bottom  line is that it’s your job to crush rumors not to spread them to the person they’ll hurt the most. Preserve the soul of the victim by guarding them from hurt. Preserve the soul of the spreader and source of the rumor by helping them to repent so Jesus don’t have to get them. Jesus cares about his church, and he’ll shut that mess down in time, and he may do it with a rod of iron not a gentle voice. Unnecessary beating p of the Bride of Christ will result in Jesus taking care of and defending his bride. #believethat

Assume the best about your people

We get into trouble when we fail to assume people we are in covenant with have the best intentions. The human soul, wrecked as it is and under repair in Christ, has a tendency to to assume the worst about the people it is closest to. Until you learn this tendency through age and wisdom, you can let your fallen assumptions run away with you, and if unchecked, your “innocent” question about what you are thinking to a friend can turn into a “fact” in the ears of the person you were talking to. Then they go tell their friend, and the next thing you know your assumptions formed by false feelings have turned into a forest fire for the person you were simply wrong about. That’s hating people not loving people.

Assume the best about your people. Period.

Don’t be so enamored with being liked that you let a soul cancer spread through your inactivity

Sometimes we don’t deal with things biblically because we want to be liked and don’t want to come off as “harsh”.

Newsflash! It’s not harsh to stop sin and preserve peace. It’s called righteousness.

If we are more concerned with being liked than being right, then that’s a sin issue to deal with.

Proverbs 29:25 (ESV) The fear of man lays a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.

So, it’s been cathartic to write this. Perhaps it will be helpful to you for your discipleship and for fighting for people rather than against them. There is nothing in the New Testament about tearing each other down. Rather, it’s full of commands to build each other up. Let’s practice that beginning today.


Worship: Music and Praise in the Bible

Worship: Music and praise in the Bible

1) Worship is communion with God 2) in which believers, 3) by grace, 4) center their mind’s attention and their 5) heart’s affection on the Lord, 6) humbly 7) glorifying God 8) in response to his glory and his word.[1]

Why do we sing/use music? Why should Christians sing/use music? Is there a biblical mandate to play music and sing?

Music and singing are God’s creation.

Sound originates in created order, and the arrangement of those sounds, by instruments created by image bearers to generate them, into coherent music is a “God-like” action. Music originates from the arrangement of created order and exists because God made it so.


God himself is a singer.

Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV) The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

C.S. Lewis captured the essence of this idea in “The Magician’s Nephew” when he depicts Aslan creating Narnia through song and music from his own mouth. Lewis emphasizes the divine nature of music, and the grasping of that truth by humans through the depiction of the believing ones being able to hear Aslan’s creating as music as opposed to unbelievers, like Uncle Andrew who only hearing angry roaring.

Those who have ears to hear, hear the song and its origin. Those who don’t have transformed ears can’t hear it or understand it.

What does the Old Testament say?

David set the pace for music and worship in the Old Testament and set the model for the elements of New Testament worship today.

The reason for this in salvation history is the mighty grace of God in redeeming David from his sin. See Psalm 51!

  • David instituted music and singing into the worship of the Lord. We must see this as God’s will and purpose as it’s part of the revelation of God’s word as we see the progression of redeemed man knowing the Lord and his purposes and applying that will to corporate worship.

1 Chronicles 6:31-33 (ESV) These are the men whom David put in charge of the service of song in the house of the Lord after the ark rested there. 32 They ministered with song before the tabernacle of the tent of meeting until Solomon built the house of the Lord in Jerusalem, and they performed their service according to their order. 33 These are the men who served and their sons. Of the sons of the Kohathites: Heman the singer the son of Joel, son of Samuel,

1 Chronicles 9:33-34 (ESV) Now these, the singers, the heads of fathers’ houses of the Levites, were in the chambers of the temple free from other service, for they were on duty day and night. 34 These were heads of fathers’ houses of the Levites, according to their generations, leaders. These lived in Jerusalem.

  • David leading the Levites in bringing the Ark into Jerusalem.

1 Chronicles 15:16-28 (ESV) David also commanded the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their brothers as the singers who should play loudly on musical instruments, on harps and lyres and cymbals, to raise sounds of joy. 17 So the Levites appointed Heman the son of Joel; and of his brothers Asaph the son of Berechiah; and of the sons of Merari, their brothers, Ethan the son of Kushaiah; 18 and with them their brothers of the second order, Zechariah, Jaaziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, and Mikneiah, and the gatekeepers Obed-edom and Jeiel. 19 The singers, Heman, Asaph, and Ethan, were to sound bronze cymbals; 20 Zechariah, Aziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Maaseiah, and Benaiah were to play harps according to Alamoth; 21 but Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, Mikneiah, Obed-edom, Jeiel, and Azaziah were to lead with lyres according to the Sheminith. 22 Chenaniah, leader of the Levites in music, should direct the music, for he understood it. 23 Berechiah and Elkanah were to be gatekeepers for the ark. 24 Shebaniah, Joshaphat, Nethanel, Amasai, Zechariah, Benaiah, and Eliezer, the priests, should blow the trumpets before the ark of God. Obed-edom and Jehiah were to be gatekeepers for the ark.

25 So David and the elders of Israel and the commanders of thousands went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord from the house of Obed-edom with rejoicing. 26 And because God helped the Levites who were carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord, they sacrificed seven bulls and seven rams. 27 David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, as also were all the Levites who were carrying the ark, and the singers and Chenaniah the leader of the music of the singers. And David wore a linen ephod. 28 So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouting, to the sound of the horn, trumpets, and cymbals, and made loud music on harps and lyres.

  • David’s instructions for music in worship at the end of his life.

1 Chronicles 23:2-6 (ESV) 2 David assembled all the leaders of Israel and the priests and the Levites. 3 The Levites, thirty years old and upward, were numbered, and the total was 38,000 men. 4 “Twenty-four thousand of these,” David said, “shall have charge of the work in the house of the Lord, 6,000 shall be officers and judges, 5 4,000 gatekeepers, and 4,000 shall offer praises to the Lord with the instruments that I have made for praise.” 6 And David organized them in divisions corresponding to the sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.

1 Chronicles 25:1-8 (ESV) David and the chiefs of the service also set apart for the service the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who prophesied with lyres, with harps, and with cymbals. The list of those who did the work and of their duties was: 2 Of the sons of Asaph: Zaccur, Joseph, Nethaniah, and Asharelah, sons of Asaph, under the direction of Asaph, who prophesied under the direction of the king. 3 Of Jeduthun, the sons of Jeduthun: Gedaliah, Zeri, Jeshaiah, Shimei, Hashabiah, and Mattithiah, six, under the direction of their father Jeduthun, who prophesied with the lyre in thanksgiving and praise to the Lord. 4 Of Heman, the sons of Heman: Bukkiah, Mattaniah, Uzziel, Shebuel and Jerimoth, Hananiah, Hanani, Eliathah, Giddalti, and Romamti-ezer, Joshbekashah, Mallothi, Hothir, Mahazioth. 5 All these were the sons of Heman the king’s seer, according to the promise of God to exalt him, for God had given Heman fourteen sons and three daughters. 6 They were all under the direction of their father in the music in the house of the Lord with cymbals, harps, and lyres for the service of the house of God. Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman were under the order of the king. 7 The number of them along with their brothers, who were trained in singing to the Lord, all who were skillful, was 288. 8 And they cast lots for their duties, small and great, teacher and pupil alike.

  • Nehemiah’s dedication of the wall being rebuilt in Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 12:8-9 (ESV) And the Levites: Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah, who with his brothers was in charge of the songs of thanksgiving. 9 And Bakbukiah and Unni and their brothers stood opposite them in the service.

Nehemiah 12:24 (ESV) And the chiefs of the Levites: Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel, with their brothers who stood opposite them, to praise and to give thanks, according to the commandment of David the man of God, watch by watch.

Nehemiah 12:27-31 (ESV) And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, with thanksgivings and with singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres. 28 And the sons of the singers gathered together from the district surrounding Jerusalem and from the villages of the Netophathites; 29 also from Beth-gilgal and from the region of Geba and Azmaveth, for the singers had built for themselves villages around Jerusalem. 30 And the priests and the Levites purified themselves, and they purified the people and the gates and the wall.

31 Then I brought the leaders of Judah up onto the wall and appointed two great choirs that gave thanks. One went to the south on the wall to the Dung Gate.

Nehemiah 12:38-43 (ESV) The other choir of those who gave thanks went to the north, and I followed them with half of the people, on the wall, above the Tower of the Ovens, to the Broad Wall, 39 and above the Gate of Ephraim, and by the Gate of Yeshanah, and by the Fish Gate and the Tower of Hananel and the Tower of the Hundred, to the Sheep Gate; and they came to a halt at the Gate of the Guard. 40 So both choirs of those who gave thanks stood in the house of God, and I and half of the officials with me; 41 and the priests Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah, with trumpets; 42 and Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malchijah, Elam, and Ezer. And the singers sang with Jezrahiah as their leader. 43 And they offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.

What does the New Testament say?

  • Jesus observing the Passover with his disciples, sang a song as part of their service.

Matthew 26:26-30 (ESV) Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” 30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

  • Mary’s response to God’s call on her.

Luke 1:46-55 (ESV) And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; 52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

  • The angel’s worship at the birth of their Creator into the world he created.

Luke 2:13-14 (ESV) And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

  • The church prays together, gathered, for boldness after Peter and John’s release and they experience the power of God together.

Acts 4:23-31 (ESV) When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’— 27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

  • Paul and Silas sing and pray in a Philippi prison.

Acts 16:25-26 (ESV) About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.

  • “Spirit filling” results in singing that addresses each other.

Ephesians 5:18-21 (ESV) And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

  • The word of Christ that teaches us also brings us to sing to God with thanksgiving.

Colossians 3:16 (ESV) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

  • Because Jesus sacrificed to bring us to God the Father, we suffer with Christ when we suffer, and we praise him, and that is truly a sacrifice because it comes when praises are least likely to come.

Hebrews 13:15 (ESV) Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.

  • Worship in heaven.

Revelation 4:8-11 (ESV) And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” 9 And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

Worship in heaven in response to Jesus’ salvation of people from all nations.

Revelation 5:8-14 (ESV) And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” 11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might

and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

Rejoicing in heaven over God’s victory against those who come against his people. Revelation 19:1-8 (ESV) 1 After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,

2 for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” 3 Once more they cried out, “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.” 4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” 5 And from the throne came a voice saying, “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great.” The Marriage Supper of the Lamb 6 Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come,

and his Bride has made herself ready; 8 it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”—

What should we believe about song/music and worship and what are we to do with this truth?

Service our action to God and for each other (our worship of God always affects others because a life of living sacrifice displayed publicly in corporate worship is to move each other along in their growth into Christ as our lead shepherd.

Song – music as well as singing, praise that is spoken, encouragement that is given

Service of Song – the gathering of the local church to glorify God and encourage each other through God’s means, in God’s way as living sacrifices.

  1. The service of song originates in the divine nature of God. The curse corrupted all things, including the use of music. The people of God grew and had musical styles and music evolved for the people of God, so we should be on the cutting edge of composing and singing good music in church and out of church. We should be redeeming music for God’s glory. Not by doing church music or worship music, but by doing the best music.
  2. The service of song is to be orderly, skillful and well done by the leaders and by all worshipers present following their lead.
  3. Song and music was ordered before God 24 hours a day! Therefore, the service of song is to have the effect of us continuing our singing either out loud or in our hearts until the next time we gather.
  4. The service of song is to have teacher equipping student with proportionate amount learning and growing and serving and preparation to lead God’s people in song now and for the future. There was a continual preparation for the future of leading God’s people.
  5. The service of song should be doctrinally good enough that we can play it before God and he find no fault in it. They were playing before the presence of God. We are more so. We must sing good stuff. Remember Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10…strange fire.
  6. The service of song should be loud and full of joy.
  7. The service of song can flow out of suffering as well as easy times. Don’t shallow your music out to simply light and fluffy times. Deepen your song through suffering as you praise in view of the relief God is sure to bring. That’s faith practiced. Those who don’t know our God will get to know him when we joyously make much of him when we are suffering.

The image I get is that of children discovering drums and banging on them proudly for their parents to see with great delight and joy.

  1. The service of song was observed by Jesus and the disciples. So, we don’t stop that. Reject trends that are so novel they leave behind the biblical models.
  2. The service of song is always a response to God’s grace…Mary, the angels…so we must be engaged in our “revelation and response” service as receiving from God in order to respond to God. Be engaged and be intentional about corporate worship.
  3. The Service of song should be approached in examination and preparation.
  4. The service of song is for the gathered local church, on mission together, unified and holistically moving to the soul as it moved the gathered church in Acts 4.
  5. The service of song should flow out of the teaching of God’s word and minister to God’s people as well as be thanksgiving and glory to God. The words of our songs and our joyful exulting in song should encourage people to walk closer to the Lord as they are encouraged by our praise.
  6. The service of song is currently happening before the Lord, will continue, and we are to join that service…It is not optional.

Will you respond to God’s word today in song?


[1] Definition adapted from the course, “Church Music” by Dr. Bruce Leafblad, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Duties of Christian Fellowship: Rule 1

I’m reading a book about the Templars. It’s fascinating. This stuff is happening in the 12th century, and I’m asking myself along the way, “how did they develop that practice if they are reading and making sense of the Bible?”

These people did some crazy stuff that we all look back on and wonder what the heck were they thinking.

I have to be careful, because their situation is not much different than ours. Christianity had become a political movement more than the kingdom of God. The faith was a means of power for many not the way of salvation for all who believe. I know I’m over simplifying a tad, but you get the gist. We have done much the same thing, except we are a bit earlier in the process they were were 800 + years into. Some have used the faith to gain power. Some use the faith to justify their pursuits. For some the faith is what they were born into. These are dangerous things.

The farther one gets away from the biblical intent the more dangerous and off beat we can get. God uses “reformations” in salvation history to help us regain focus. Thankfully he gave us Luther in the 1500’s. We may be in need of some Luther’s in the 21st century. We have a few challenges.

One challenge in the post-Christian south is the use of biblical language without the actual and powerful biblical practice. We use bible language and do non bible things. We say “fellowship” but we actually gather around mutual affinity for things other than the kingdom of God. Affinity for things is not bad, but if that affinity is for things not of the kingdom and we dress it in biblical language, we have a dangerous/deadly substitute.

Fellowship in the local church in the post-Christian south is a hard nut to crack.

John Owen wrote a little booklet in the 1600’s called “The Duties of Christian Fellowship”. In this little two section booklet, he deals with “rules with respect to walking in fellowship with the pastor” and “rules with walking in fellowship with respect to other believers”. We won’t deal with section one as that comes off as self-serving. What I’m interested in here is relating the 15 little biblical rules Owen relates in regard to fellowship in the local church.

We’ll cover them one at a time over the coming weeks.

Rule 1: Believers have a duty of affectionate, sincere, genuine love in all things towards one another; a love compared to that of Christ for the church. 

Now, Owen gives his biblical basis for each rule, the explanation of the rule and biblical motives for obeying the rule. I absolutely love how he lays that out. I would suggest you go buy this little booklet here Duties of Christian Fellowship

I’m not going to make his argument for him, but what I will do is give you Scripture references, and some applications.

Scripture: John 15:12; John 13:34-35; Romans 13:8; Ephesians 5:2; 1 Thessalonians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 4:21; Romans 12:10

Motives to obey: Owen gives oodles of Scripture for these motives to obey, but I’ll just give some on some points and leave you to your bible reading.

  1. The command of God.
  2. The eternal, distinguishing faithful love of God toward his people and his purpose in it.
  3. The intense and inexpressible love of Jesus Christ seen in his humiliation and in his laying down of his life for us, presented to us an an example.
  4. The notable renewal of the old command to love, with such reinforcement that it is called a new commandment, and is distinctively the law of Christ.
  5. The state and condition of those between whom this command is to be fulfilled are a) all those who are children of the same Father, Mal. 2:10; b) those members of one body, 1 Cor. 12:12-13; c) those who are partakers of the same hope, Eph. 4:4; d) objects of the world’s hate, 1 John 3:13
  6. The impossibility of performing any other duty without it.
  7. The great sin of lack of love and all those consequences, Matt. 24:12; 1 John3:14-15

We are to love because it’s the command of the Lord.

We are to love people in the local body. You can’t love people you are not invested in or serve intentionally, weekly, in covenant, and on mission. Love is not given when we attend, or attend to get, or fail to fully invest.

We can’t truly do any task well without the love of Christ controlling us.

A failure to love like this is sin, and it comes with consequences.

Let’s love each other well in obedience to the Lord Jesus command.

1 John 3:14 (ESV) We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.

Romans 12:1-2…Worship As A Living Sacrifice

Romans 12:1-2

Worship as a Living Sacrifice

There is a “grownupness” to biblical worship that transcends styles and trends and geography.

In the west we’ve done a great job of transporting our youth camp experiences from the beach into our covenanted, corporate gatherings and the divine conversation of “revelation and response” is easily replaced with “performance and affirmation of good performances or rejection of less good performances”.

This is one of the reasons we’ve focused not on a “kickin’” worship service, but on the Biblical model of worship as a living sacrifice.

Our service, no matter how “revelation and response” it’s order is only as effective as the effort to engage God in it on the part of God’s people.

I want to invite you to not consume, but to engage this morning.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God…

  • Paul pleads with his audience…
  • Therefore: Paul pleads as the conclusion of his process of reasoning from chapter 1-11
  • Paul’s pleading / reasoning has been from God’s mercies:
    • Justification
    • God’s kindness and severity

Romans 11:22 (ESV) Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.

    • Kindness: Gentiles and Jews are made into God’s Israel because the kingdom is made of those of the FAITH OF ABRAHAM, not merely made from his physical descent. (See Galatians 3:7; Romans 4:1-12)
    • Severity: God breaks off branches when grafting others in because of unbelief. This is not a statement of a Christian’s security. It’s a warning that you should not disbelieve, or become proud, but rather fear.

Romans 11:17-20 (ESV) But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. 19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear (with white knuckled intensity, hold on to Jesus and don’t grasp for other answers).

    • Paul’s own example

Romans 11:33-36 (ESV) Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” 35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

To present your bodies…

    • “Present” is the main verb of this sentence. It is the main action.
      • It means to “place”, “put down beside”. The idea Paul is using is from the priests laying the sacrifice down on the alter before the Lord in the temple.
    • “Bodies” is the noun. It is what is presented.
      • We are to present before God our very bodies.
      • All of our physical existence shaped by the internal work of what has happened with a new heart. 

As a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God…

    • “Living” is also a verb, but it’s a participle…that is it’s a verbal adjective.
      • It means that a person is actively living in a certain way…(See verse 2-21).
    • “Sacrifice” is the noun. That is the Romans…and us Romans…any Christian reading this passage is to be actively living in the way of this passage.
      • Our will.
      • Our desires shaped by God’s word, his kingdom, his people’s need for me and his gifts to me for them…
      • Completely given over to God for others for glory.
    • “Holy” and “Acceptable” are the adjectives. These words describe the nature of our living sacrifice before God based on the completed work of Jesus in chapters 2-11.

Which is your spiritual worship…

    • “Spiritual” is a word that means “reasonable” or “spiritual” based on context and other words used around it (See 1 Peter 2:2 is “spiritual milk” not “logical milk”).
    • I prefer “reasonable” here due to the fact that it is reasonable to conclude that worship should be as a living sacrifice due to the extravagant mercies of God. Just like sacrifices were required for the salvific work of God then, they are now freely offered in the form of lives lived by those saved by the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus for them, in their place for their sin.

How do we apply worship as a living sacrifice to us today?

I fear that in the application it may be too easy to insulate ourselves from these practices. Don’t let these applications miss you. There is something here for everyone.


  1. Transformation of our minds into kingdom minds not worldly minds. 12:2
  2. Think of yourself soberly, not highly. 12:3

1 John 2:15-17…desires of the flesh…desires of the eyes…pride of life…can and does corrupt our presentation of ourselves.

  1. Practice in your body being part of one body because you are members of one another through covenant. 12:4-5
  2. Use the spiritual gifts for the building up of each other. 12:6-8
  3. Love well, and love each other with brotherly affection. 12:9, 10
  4. Hate evil and hold to good. 12:9
  5. Compete to show honor. 12:10
  6. Don’t be lazy, serve the Lord with passion. 12:11
  7. Rejoice in hope as you patiently endure hardships together in prayer. 12:12
  8. Serve each other’s needs. 12:13
  9. Be hospitable to each other. 12:13
  10. Bless those who speak evil of you. 12:14
  11. Be present with each other in highs and lows. 12:15
  12. Have the same mind with each other. 12:16
  13. Never be haughty/snobbish/self-important. 12:16
  14. Don’t give out evil when evil is done to you…rather try to be honorable. 12:17
  15. Live peaceably with all people as far as it depends on you. 12:18
  16. Bless rather than seek vengeance. 12:19-20
  17. overcome evil with good. 12:21