Archives For Worship

Walking

One thing I love about summer is the opportunity for long walks. Beth and I have a three-mile circuit that takes us from our house down to a nearby lake and back. Usually we walk it after dinner, but before dark, with our blind dog Willy. Our nest of three sons is empty now, and so we have just this one furry kid to follow us around.

It’s not really the walk itself that I value, though. It’s what happens there. By the time we walk, Beth and I have usually taken dinnertime to catch up with one another on the day’s events, and what arrived in the mail, and what we each heard from friends or family that day.

The walk is for deeper talk. That’s when we tend to discuss longer term plans for the future, or longer view reflections on where we’ve been. We talk not just about our kids’ activities, but about their well-being and their life decisions. We talk not just about short-term purchases, but about long-term investments. We talk not just about our church routines, but about our spiritual lives.

It usually takes a while to get past perfunctory, obligatory prayers I tend to settle for when time is short.

Sometimes our local son, Caleb, and his wife, Laura, walk with us. Those are rich times. Often Laura will walk alongside Beth and engage in one conversation, while Caleb and I will pair up a few steps behind them. Sometimes the two conversations will blend, and mix, and then separate again. We all like to hear as much as possible.

But these aren’t the 10- or 20-word texts we exchange with our kids during the day. These are often significant conversations about problems, and dreams, and life decisions, and dilemmas. Long walks encourage deeper talks.

And then there are the long walks I take by myself, to have deeper talks with God. Sometimes I make time for them during the regular routine of life. But often I need a vacation or a few days off or a different setting in order to pull away.

During the regular rhythms and busyness of life, my prayer times can grow so brief, so repetitive, so lightweight. Like the chitchat of a dinner conversation or the insufficiency of a text, I can settle for such trivial communication with God. But when I walk for a while with him it’s easier to remember that he really knows and loves me in my deepest, innermost parts, and that he longs to meet me there too, and not just in the shallows of a busy life.

Over a few recent days of long walks and deep talks this summer, I remembered again that it usually takes a while just to get past the perfunctory, obligatory prayers that I tend to settle for when time is short. I know there’s nothing wrong with those prayers, just like there’s nothing wrong with catching up over dinner on the day’s activities. It’s just that there are so many more significant things to talk about. But you only seem to get there when you take the time.

This past week I walked and talked to places of deep confession, and pleading, and worship, and peace. Once the lighter weight stuff was off my chest, there were several minutes and miles of silence as I looked for the right words to tell God things I then remembered that he knows already. Yet when those words came, they were cathartic and soothing to my soul.

Long walks can lead to deep talks, with our spouses, our kids, and yes, our God. May you find time for the long walks you need this summer.

– Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association. Respond at IllinoisBaptist@IBSA.org.

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After their Lord’s Supper implements were destroyed in an April 25 earthquake, church attenders in Nepal used a dinner plate for bread and a bowl and spoon for the grape juice. IMB photo by Chris Carter

Kathmandu | When journalist Susie Rain (name changed) visited a small Nepali congregation after a catastrophic earthquake, they were singing the same song as one week before, when the walls in their meeting room began to shake. Rain, a writer for the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, described the worship service:

Twenty-five voices gain momentum, clapping hands, dancing and raising their faces to heaven in song, “Still I will love You and spread Your love to the people.” Spontaneously, the congregation breaks into prayer. This is the exact spot the song was interrupted a week ago, on April 25, by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake.

In the days after the quake, the death toll continued to rise, eventually topping 7,000. Thousands more were injured. Baptist Global Response, a ministry partner of the IMB, has begun assessing the damage and delivering supplies.

In Kathmandu, the church Rain visited celebrated the Lord’s Supper, even during an aftershock. Their dishes had been destroyed the week before. “They improvised with a bowl and spoon,” Rain posted on social media. “Wish you could have been there with me. You would have had tears in your eyes, too.”

International Mission Board President David Platt has written about how Christians can respond to the crisis in Nepal. Read his column here.

Fanny_CrosbyHEARTLAND | Steve Hamrick

February marked the 100th anniversary of the death of one of America’s greatest hymn writers and poets, Fanny J. Crosby. Frances Jane van Alstyne (née Crosby), lived nearly 95 years, from March 24, 1820, to February 12, 1915.

At six weeks old, young Francis developed an inflammation in her eyes that was treated with a mustard poultice, a common treatment of the 19th century. Whether because of the mustard or a congenital condition, blindness resulted. But it rarely affected her attitude. She was known in early years as the “happy little blind girl.”

Her first attempt at verse at age eight shows her outlook.

Oh, what a happy child I am,
Although I cannot see
I am resolved that in this world
Contented I will be

The attitude of God’s gratefulness continued as a theme throughout her life. “When I get to heaven,” she once said, “the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior.”

It is estimated that Crosby wrote more than 8,000 hymns, with over 100,000,000 (that’s one hundred million) copies in print. Many of her hymns include references to sight and light. Notice the insight of one of her most well known songs, “Blessed Assurance”:

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

In addition to her hymns, Crosby published more than 1,000 secular poems, four books of poetry and two best-selling autobiographies. Most don’t know that she also wrote a number of popular and patriotic songs of her day.

During her long life she had the honor of reading her works in front of the U.S. Senate, Congress, and before many U.S. presidents, including John Q. Adams and James Polk; she also was dear friends with Grover Cleveland.

Despite being one of the most popular personalities of the 19th century, Crosby’s most rewarding work during her lifetime was her service to rescue missions. She dedicated her life in serving the poor, immigrants and less fortunate. During her years as a mission worker she wrote, “Pass Me not O Gentle Savior,” “More Like Jesus,” and “Rescue the Perishing.”

Her songs are still sung by churches around the world. Thousands of arrangements have been set for choirs, orchestras and praise teams. The band Caedmon’s Call recently recorded “Draw Me Nearer” (I am Thine O Lord) using one of Mrs. Crosby’s best texts. The words tell her story well:

I am thine, O Lord, I have heard thy voice,
And it told thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to thee.

Steve Hamrick is IBSA’s director of worship and technology.

Rob (left) and Mona Payne (center) lead worship during "Pop Up Church" for Downtown Phoenix Church, also known as DTPHX Church. Photo by Shawn Hendricks/BP

Rob (left) and Mona Payne (center) lead worship during “Pop Up Church” in Phoenix. Photo by Shawn Hendricks/BP

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

Young adults in downtown Phoenix “don’t think about going to church on Sunday morning any more than you and I think about going to bingo on Friday nights,” says Pastor Jim Helman. To reach Millennials, his Downtown Phoenix Church “pops up” every other week at a coffee shop or in a park, and uses the other weeks to serve the community. Read more at BPNews.net.


His Seattle Seahawks may have lost the Super Bowl in stunning fashion (that second down call!), but quarterback Russell Wilson seems to already be bouncing back via Twitter. After the game, the outspoken Christian posted motivational messages and Psalm 18:1–“I will love You, O LORD, my strength.”


Imprisoned pastor Saeed Abedini thanked President Obama for meeting with his wife and children last week, and for assuring the couple’s young son that he will try to secure his father’s release by March (when Jacob Abedini will celebrate his 7th birthday). “I know that as a father you can truly understand the pain and anguish of my children living without their father and the burden that is on my wife as a single mother,” Abedini wrote to Obama from Rajaee Shahr prison in Iran.

In the letter, provided online by the American Center for Law and Justice, Abedini also thanked Obama “for standing up for my family and I and for thousands of Christians across the world who are persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ.”


The American Bible Society will relocate to Philadelphia after selling its Manhattan building for $300 million, reports The Christian Post. The 12-story facility on Broadway, which has housed ABS since 1966, is about 10 blocks from another ministry: the offices of the Metro New York Baptist Association.


Religion writer Cathy Lyn Grossman reports on the “post-seculars,” a group defined in a new study as falling between “traditional” and “modern” views of science and religion. Said study co-author Timothy O’Brien, “We were surprised to find this pretty big group (21 percent) who are pretty knowledgeable and appreciative about science and technology but who are also very religious and who reject certain scientific theories.”


Democrats feel more warmly toward Muslims than do Republicans, Pew reports in a study on how ideology and age affect American “temperatures” about Muslims and Islam.


As Boko Haram continues to wage a war of terror in Nigeria, “…God has raised up believers who have remained steadfast and bold in the midst of applied pressures to silence them,” said one Christian worker, according to this Baptist Press story.


 

Image from a May 2012 YouTube video Saeed Abedini made before his imprisonment.

Image from a May 2012 YouTube video Saeed Abedini made before his imprisonment.

THE BRIEFING | At a meeting last week with the wife and children of imprisoned pastor Saeed Abedini, President Barack Obama said securing his release is a top priority, according to a release from the American Center for Law and Justice.

“The President was focused and gracious – showing concern to me and my children,” said Naghmeh Abedini. “I know that this meeting could not have occurred without prayer and I am grateful to the many people around the country and world who continue to pray for Saeed’s release.”

Obama reportedly told the Abedinis’ young son that he would try to have his father home by the boy’s birthday in March. The pastor, an American citizen, was arrested in Iran in 2012 and charged with “undermining national security,” Christianity Today reports. Last June, he was awarded a religious liberty award by the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, which his wife accepted on his behalf.


Jury selection started yesterday in the trial over Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance, spearheaded by a coalition of ministers who collected petitions to repeal the ordinance passed by the City Council last May. (The city disqualified many of the 50,000 signatures collected.) The complicated case also included an effort to subpoena communications and sermons by five Houston ministers; the subpoenas were eventually dropped.

Opponents of the Houston ordinance recently aided Plano residents in collecting signatures to stop a similar ordinance in their city, Baptist Press reported.


A rumored protest by Westboro Baptist Church didn’t come to fruition at a Quad Cities-area Illinois Baptist church, but representatives of the infamous Kansas congregation (which is not affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention) did visit some churches in the area, and were met with counter-protestors. Prior to Sunday, January 25, Westboro protestors were scheduled to be at Northcrest Calvary, an Illinois Baptist State Association church in Rock Island.


Alabama is the most recent state to face a challenge to its ban on same-sex marriage, Baptist Press reports. Judge Callie V.S. Granade ruled the ban unconstitutional Jan. 23, in a case involving a lesbian couple who married in California but were denied adoption rights in Alabama. The state’s association of probate judges–who are responsible for issuing marriage licenses–said Granade’s ruling doesn’t impact anyone not named in the case.


The struggle continues between New York City public schools and churches that want to rent their space for Sunday worship, Christianity Today reports. The most recent development is an apparent change of heart by Mayor Bill de Blasio.


George Perdikis, who co-founded The Newsboys in the 1980s, has officially renounced his Christian faith, The Christian Post reports. The musician wrote in a recent post on Patheos.com: “I always felt uncomfortable with the strict rules imposed by Christianity. All I wanted to do was play rock and roll.”


Where does your city rank when it comes to “Bible-mindedness?” Barna and the American Bible Society released their annual list of the most Bible-minded cities in the U.S. Four Illinois cities landed in the top 50; see which ones at Barna.com.

 

NEWS | Andrae Crouch wrote songs so familiar now that most people probably have no idea where they originated. “My Tribute (To God Be the Glory),” “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power,” “Jesus Is The Answer,” and “Soon and Very Soon,” to name just a few.

Crouch, 72, died yesterday after a heart attack January 3.

“Crouch was an innovator, a path-finder, a precursor in an industry noted for its conservative, often derivative approach to popular music,” wrote former Billboard editor Robert Darden in a tribute on ChristianityToday.com.

“He combined gospel and rock, flavored it with jazz and calypso as the mood struck him and the song called for it, and is even one of the founders of what is now called ‘praise and worship’ music. He took risks with his art and was very, very funky when he wanted to be.”

Those qualities are on display in this 2012 video of “The Blood,” performed by Crouch and a whole host of gospel music stars.

The Veritas vocal quintet is helping lead tonight's Mission Illinois: Concert of Prayer.

The Veritas vocal quintet is helping lead tonight’s Mission Illinois: Concert of Prayer.