Why re-read the Psalms?

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This month we returned to regularly reading through the Psalms together on a Sunday. For some people this might seem like a strange practice. Aren’t the psalms a little bit random and archaic, and isn’t it confusing to be reading parts of the bible that we’re not then going on to explain?

Well, here are some brief thoughts of mine to help us understand why we’re doing this, and to help us engage with the Psalms. 

Firstly, there’s the general principle that it is good for us to have plenty of bible in our gatherings

We believe that the bible is the word of God, the Father’s testimony about and through his Son, breathed by the Spirit. Therefore our Sunday gatherings should be saturated in the bible. Moreover, it would be odd if our services gave the overall impression that our words spoken to God are more important than his words to us. Or that the only time the bible can be read is when someone is going to preach from it. This is one of the reasons we try to have scripture read, taught and sung at various points throughout our gatherings. 

But why the Psalms in particular? Here are three of the many reasons:

The Psalms are significant for piecing the bible together

In some ways the Psalms is like a poetic reflection on the history, laws and wisdom of the rest of the OT. It’s no surprise that Psalms is one of the most-quoted books in the New Testament. Jesus and the apostles clearly saw them as fundamental to understanding Jesus’s identity, life and mission. 

The Psalms are a help to us in the reality of life

The 150 songs and prayers in the Psalms cover an incredibly broad range of circumstances and emotions. This makes them of immense value pastorally, helping us work through anger, loss, fear, doubt, joy, sickness, all within covenant relationship with God our Father.

The Psalms are important for prayer and worship

(Almost) unique amongst the whole of the bible, the Psalms aren’t simply God’s words to us, many of them are also words given to us by God for us to say back to him. As such the Psalms are the prayer or song book of the bible – the place where God teaches us how to speak with him. It is no surprise that for centuries the Psalms have been pretty crucial to the corporate worship of God’s people. 

The Bible Project has a helpful video giving an overview of the content and message of the Psalms...

... and we did a short series on Psalms 1 & 2 which can be found here.

This summer why not... learn to rest?

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If you’re anything like me, you know you’re bad at resting. I know a lot of people aren’t like me, and have no problem switching off and having a day ‘off’ from work and jobs and life admin-type stuff. But equally I know a lot of Christians who struggle with the idea of ‘sabbath rest’ and don’t really know how to do it properly. So when I saw a new book coming out called ‘The Art of Rest’ I thought I’d better read it. I’m so glad I did!

Adam Mabry says the point of his book is for the Christian to discover ‘how rest is different than you thought, more important than you realised and more wonderful than you ever imagined.’ I don’t think I had ever really considered what ‘sabbath rest’ meant before. Adam helpfully lays out why rest for the Christian is so important in remembering who God is and who we are; in resistance of idolatry, autonomy and anxiety; in restoration of relationships between us and God, and us and each other; and how rest brings reward in various different ways. The final chapter begins to tackle ‘starting to stop’ and helps us think about how we actually are supposed to rest. 

Although I’m still not very good at resting, I understand much better why we, as Christians, are commanded to rest, and why that is such a privilege. It is something that I am working on, and will probably have to work on forever, until I get to eternal rest! But I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for something easy to read and challenging in practical ways. It can be found here on our 10ofThose webpage. 

This summer why not... grow as a parent?

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This is the fourth in our Summer Reads series. All the books can be found and bought here.

The central focus of parenting is the gospel. You need to direct not simply the behaviour of your children, but the attitude of their hearts.
— (page xxi) 

This sentence, from the introduction of Ted Tripp’s Shepherding a Child’s Heart pretty much captures the essential approach to parenting argued for and outlined in this extremely helpful book. 

It’s an approach that at points will be very different from, even opposed to, the standards and methods for parenting that we might pick up from the world around us. It’s an approach that is shaped instead by the bible’s goals for life in general and for the family in particular. It’s an approach that puts issues of authority, sin, forgiveness, and transformation at the centre. 

In Shepherding a Child’s Heart, Ted Tripp has given the church a wide-ranging, practical and biblical book, that will help parents to set the right goals and expectations for raising their children, and to employ methods of communication and discipline which fit with these gospel-oriented goals. Reading this would benefit all parents, from those who are preparing for their first child through to those with children of any age still at home.

This summer why not... pray like an apostle?

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This is the third in our Summer Reads series. Find all the books in the series, including this one, here.

I wonder what you think the church should be doing? What is it that will drive CCW forward? The preaching? Our events and evangelism? The music? Small groups? Even our new building?

None of these things are bad, by any means, but Don Carson writes:

The one thing we most urgently need in Western Christendom is a deeper knowledge of God. We need to know God better.

That seems like quite an obvious thing to say, and most of us will nod our heads in agreement. But the question that drives us next, and which is the premise of the book, is how on earth do we go about doing that.

Well, in 'A Call to Spiritual Reformation', Carson helps us to do that. Using prayers from Paul's epistles in the New Testament he helps us to see the importance and delight we can have in prayer, of how exciting it is to be able to come to God in prayer, what prayer teaches us about God and how we can pray better. 

If you are anything like me, your prayer life will hit peaks and troughs. You'll have good days and bad days. Sometimes we find ourselves wanting to pray but not knowing what or how to do so.

It's a book to read with your bible open next to you, and I recommend a pencil in hand too (my copy has bits underlined and notes in the margin) and it's a book to read through prayerfully. This book is a joy to read and brings even greater joy as we get our heads around both the joy and privilege of prayer, but how through that, the Lord opens our eyes further to how great he is!

The greatest way I can endorse this book is to tell you to read the prayer at the back before AND after you've read it. A prayer that Carson prays not for our greater education, but for our greater compassion. Where we don't learn simply how to pray better but how our prayers would become more fruitful adoration. Where he prays for God's blessing upon us, as without it - we are nothing.

Enjoy reading - but enjoy God and praying to him more!

This summer why not... read the bible with your children?

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The education of children for God is the most important business done on earth...
— R L Dabney, 1982

This quote opens Jon Nielsen’s book ‘Bible reading with your kids’ and sets the pattern for what is to follow - a short, direct and punchy book aimed at helping parents (and fathers in particular) form solid convictions and good habits for family bible reading. 

It starts with the assumption that Christian parents will want their children to grow up to know and follow the Lord for themselves, and from the conviction that this is most likely to happen through ‘steady and consistent exposure to the powerful word of God.’

Part 1 of the book deals with why and how, both biblically and practically. Part 2 then gives more practical details for how Jon has gone about this vital task himself. The idea isn’t that we slavishly copy his model, however. For example, in our family we read smaller chunks of scripture than seems to be typical for the author. 

Whilst readers might want to adapt the specifics for our own situation and preference, the main benefit of the book is the central conviction that reading the bible is a vital task and that fathers in particular should be engaged in it (see Ephesians 6v4). The author is well aware that many of us will feel daunted and inadequate for this task, so gives plenty of encouragement to simply give it a go and improve with time and experience.

You can listen to bible teaching related to the whole area of parenting in our ‘The Family of God’ series (see especially the sermons on ‘Family Planning’ and ‘Family Lore’).  

This summer why not... care for one another?

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This is the first in our summer reads series entitled 'This summer why not...' Each book (or couple of books) in the series finish the sentence with it's/their theme. Visit our 10ofThose page to find and order them.

When Darkness Seems my Closest Friend (Mark Meynell)

For those of us who haven’t (yet) experienced depression it can seem impossible to understand and difficult to know how to walk with a friend who is struggling with it. Like many mental health issues it can seem so other, so disorientating, sometimes even a bit frightening. In his book, Mark describes in vivid terms what depression has been and felt like for him over many years. His descriptions give a very personal insight into what living, working and ministering looks like whilst suffering chronically. But perhaps the most helpful aspect of the book is how it joins the dots between depression, guilt, shame and the Gospel in a way that really is good news. Mark points to a saviour who is enough even in the most difficult and painful times which gives real hope and purpose.

Even though I haven’t struggled with depression I could readily see so many similarities between Mark’s experience and my own, the pain of genuine guilt, the curse of imagined guilt and the isolation of shame. We seem to differ primarily in the extent to which these things influence and afflict us, in that sense this book helped me realise how many ways we are all much more similar than we are different. It’s given me genuine points of contact to explore with those who are suffering from depression, places where I can come alongside and know that in a very profound way my need is much the same as theirs. 

We will all experience or know someone close to us who suffers from depression at some point in our lives. For those who haven’t experienced its effects first hand this book is a window into life with depression, yet also helps show how the light of the gospel can break into the deep darkness. Read it and it will give you compassion, hope and respect for those who are faithful in the midst of depression and, hopefully, make you better at caring for those with depression.

Side by Side (Ed Welch)

Side by side from Ed Welch is a great refresher of some of the things we looked at earlier in the year when we did the Growing Together course. If you want to think a bit more about what it looks like to walk alongside and disciple one another this might make a great summer read. Having read it on my own, I’d encourage you to find someone to read it with and put into practice some of Ed’s advice and wisdom.

The book is split into two halves, “We are needy” and “We are needed” and the first is probably the most significant. Often, we like to help others, to be needed, and that’s important. But at our most fundamental and basic level we are all those who are needy, who need God and who need others. Our pride and our obsession with expertise so frequently prevents us from reaching out to one another. Ed helps us to see our need clearly and gives really practical pointers on how we can be those who are able and willing to ask for help from God and from one another. If at the end of the summer we all were to be doing some of the things in the book more frequently our church life would be reflecting the gospel so much more.

You shall not covet

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Today’s commandment is from Exodus 20:17:

You shall not cove your neighbour’s house, you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey or anything that is your neighbour’s.

The word 'to covet' means to want or wish for… we rarely wish for our neighbour’s ox or his donkey. We can all think of things that belong to other people that we have desired or wished for. Perhaps you wish England had been in the World Cup final instead of Croatia or that you had someone else’s friends, house, job, holidays or family, the list is endless.

Something we have been thinking about in Sunday School recently is what Jesus taught in Matthew 22:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself.
— Matthew 22:37-39

Is coveting loving God and our neighbour? If not, why not?

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You shall not bear false witness

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Which of these pairs of crime do you think has the greater sentence?

  • Speeding or burgling a house?
  • Plotting to kidnap the Queen or littering? 
  • Telling a lie in Court or murdering someone? 

As you may have guessed, in the first two pairs it’s burglary and plotting to kidnap the Queen which would carry the greater sentences. But when it comes to the third pair, while you probably would get a longer sentence for murdering someone than telling a lie in Court, it’s not that simple. Depending on the circumstances you can get sent to prison for life for lying in Court. 

God in his law also takes truth telling very seriously and therefore he takes lying very seriously too. That is why it’s included in his top ten. After the commands against stealing and lying we get ‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.’ 

God himself is a truth-telling God, in fact the bible says he never lies - our eternal salvation depends on it (Titus 1v2).  He wants his people to share his concern for truthful speech. 

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You shall not steal

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In 2015, the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit company was burgled. Six men abseiled down a lift shaft and using heavy drilling equipment, tunnelled through the 50cm thick vault wall. The burglary was the largest in British legal history, with over £200 million worth of valuables stolen. 

Interestingly, the verb ‘to steal’ means: i) to take something without permission and not return it, and ii) to claim someone else’s work or idea as your own.

Most people have not stolen £200 million but there will be times when all of us have taken something without permission and kept it or dishonestly claimed an idea or someone else’s work as our own.

God does not only say that stealing is a sin against him, here in the ten commandments, but it also demonstrates that we do not love our neighbour as ourselves.

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You shall not commit adultery

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Generally, adultery is still considered wrong in our culture – most people wouldn’t actively encourage someone to go and commit adultery. There is a recognition that the breaking of the significant promises made during marriage is neither loving or good. Most people will know someone who has been deeply affected by adultery and we can all see the wider impact on the communities we’re part of. 

However, in the Bible, adultery isn’t a terrible wrong because of the pain it causes others but also because it’s an offence against God. In the Old Testament after King David has committed adultery he says, “Against you [God], you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight,” (Psalm 51:4). I don’t think that David is saying he hasn’t wronged Bathsheba (with whom he committed adultery), nor Uriah (her husband) or anyone else involved. What he is acknowledging is that at its heart, adultery is despising God and His word (2 Samuel 12:9). There is a God-ward dimension to adultery which adds to the human pain and suffering it causes.

Secondly, adultery undermines the Gospel and misrepresents God. The unity that is found in marriage is supposed to be a very visual, lived out picture of the relationship between Christ and His church (Ephesians 5:25-33). The indissoluble union, the love, affection, faithfulness and submission that exists between Christ and the church should in some small way be reflected by marriage. A marriage marred by adultery paints a very different picture of the relationship between Jesus and the church. It paints a picture which calls into question everything that is good, comforting, joyful and secure between Jesus and the church.

The commandment to not commit adultery is, at root, a commandment to love other people and to love God, including representing God and the Gospel faithfully. Marriage lived in faithfulness to one another and to God is a wonderful testimony and picture of God’s faithfulness and love to his church. 

For those who know their guilt in this area all too well, Psalm 51 continues with David calling God his salvation, deliverer and the one who can clean him. Adultery is serious, but not unforgivable. In his Psalm, David is crying out to God knowing that God will wash clean those who turn to Him in repentance and faith. David knows that even for those who have committed adultery, God will not despise a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51:17) and we know there is always forgiveness at the foot of Jesus’ cross.

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You shall not murder

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It is perhaps the most familiar of the 10 Commandments, yet rarely meditated upon deeply. We find the sixth commandment in Exodus 20v13.

You shall not murder.

 

I think that there are two common attitudes towards this verse:

1) We look to it as evidence that we’re one of life’s ‘good guys’. We may not be perfect but we’re in the right on the important issues. This commandment, coupled with my own lack of murdering, shows that God and I are on essentially the same moral wavelength. (Hopefully he will reward me for this down the line.)

Or

2) We gloss over it entirely. It’s a bit obvious, isn’t it? I guess ‘No murder’ had to be in the commandments somewhere (for completion sake).  But it’s so easy I think I can skip safely on to the next one.

Whichever of these attitudes rings most true for us, I don’t think many of us spend much time contemplating the sixth commandment. But the Bible finds much more depth in this command than we are disposed to. Where we nowadays minimise the application strictly to the taking of life, the Bible teaches an expanded understanding, with both Old and New Testaments making it clear that God had much more in mind. 

For example, Leviticus 19 v 17-18 elaborates

You shall not hate your brother in your heart… you shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge… but you shall love your neighbour as yourself.

Jesus teaching on this subject adds:

You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgement.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgement; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.
— Matthew 5v21-22

Murdering in deed was of course forbidden, but God’s people were expected to put away murderous words too, and even thoughts of ill-will. Moreover, merely refraining from causing/willing harm still falls short of God’s call for active love, mercy and peace-making towards our neighbour.

Thus moods of anger, the bearing of grudges and scorning others with words are all filed under the category of ‘murder’. Suddenly this is not feeling so comfortable. A commandment which appeared to affirm my purity instead shockingly reveals my heart to be murderous. 

We began by suggesting two common attitudes to the sixth commandment. To conclude, here are two possible directions for further reflection:

  1. In directing us to prefer others’ welfare to our own, this commandment is revealing God’s own heart and character. It is perfectly fulfilled by Jesus laying down his life for us.
  2. The commandment challenges us to reconsider habits of deed, word and thought where we are naturally most satisfied with our behaviours. Even here we are very much in need of grace, forgiveness and help to change. 
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GAFCON

Christ Church Walkley's pastor, Pete Jackson, tells us about his upcoming trip to Jerusalem...

Soon, I will be travelling to take part in the third Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) in Jerusalem. While there will be opportunities for me to share once I return, I’d love our whole church family to join together in praying for the conference while I am away.

GAFCON is the global movement of which Christ Church Walkley is a part. It brings together many bible-believing Anglicans from around the world in the fellowship we share in the Lord Jesus Christ and in his mission to the nations. The context for its formation and work over the last ten years has been the challenges to the authority of the bible in the West and the growth of biblical Christianity in many other parts of the world. Over 2000 delegates are expected at the conference, coming together from around the world for teaching, worship, discussion and prayer.

There are lots of reasons to be glad that we are a part of this global movement of God, but underlying many of them is the fact that we need each other. We need the challenging witness and call to faithfulness from our brothers and sisters in Africa, many of whom have recent memory of serious suffering for the gospel. We need the testimony and wisdom of those who have already faced challenges familiar to our own in North America and Canada. We need to have our eyes lifted from our own local situations to see what God is doing around the world.

If you want to read more about the history and the foundation of GAFCON you can read the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration which is part of our church’s doctrinal basis, or you can take a look at the GAFCON website.

Northern Men's Convention

John Magowan, one of the members of Christ Church Walkley, tells us about the Northern Men's Convention he and some others attended in May...

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Having stopped at Beeches to get Luke an all important pork pie for lunch, five guys from Christ Church Walkley made their way to Manchester on Saturday, 12th May to attend the Northern Men’s Convention. Since this was my first visit I didn’t quite know what to expect - but I certainly wasn’t disappointed!

We arrived as some 500 men descended on Trinity Church. There was an expectant buzz in the air as folk registered, had coffee, perused the extensive bookstall or viewed the many stalls manned by a wide variety of Christian organisations. 

The theme of the Convention was MEN STANDING ALONE - Holding to the Word of God in the worst of times and its centre-piece was three conference sessions led by Rupert Bentley-Taylor, an experienced Bible teacher, who had ministered for over thirty years in Bournemouth and Bath and now, in his retirement, is heavily involved in a new church in Bath. He was an excellent speaker.

Each session began with a time of worship. The praise was inspirational and the presence of the Holy Spirit was very evident  as Rupert Bentley-Taylor began each address. Having posed the question at the outset “How do godly men stand for God in godless days?” he proceeded to answer it by examining closely the lives of three men who did exactly that in their lifetime - Noah in the days of the flood in Genesis 6-9, Micaiah in the days of Ahab in 1 Kings 22 and Paul in the days of Nero in  2 Timothy 3:10-4:22. His exposition was excellent and the contemporary way in which he applied it was both relevant and challenging. All three talks are available online and are well worth a listen. 

With my friends, I left the Convention feeling challenged by God’s Word to serve Him better in the future, reassured that He has provided me with all the tools to do so and inspired that, in spite of the godlessness around us, there are still hundreds of men who have a similar goal.

Next year’s Convention is planned for 18th May 2019 with the speaker being Graham Daniels from Christians in Sport. 

I would urge all men in the congregation to put this date in their diary and plan to attend next year - wouldn’t it be great if so many wanted pork pies that we would have to place the order in advance! 

Honour your father and mother

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The fifth commandment is in Exodus 20v12 and it says

Honour your father and your mother…

Which means we must respect, love and (if we’re a child living in their house) obey our Mum and Dad. But why does God want us to do this? 

It’s not just because if we don’t we’ll get in trouble.

It’s not because parents always get things right (they don’t).

It’s because God has given Mums and Dads the job of bringing us up, and especially bringing us up to know him. That’s why the command is accompanied with a promise:

…that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

The message of God’s love and promises for his people was to be passed down to the next generation through the teaching, example, discipline of your father and mother. So that if children were to ignore them, they would be ignoring Him. 

This has some big implications for parents - for what they teach, how they discipline, what they want for their children, and how they organise life in their household. This is something the bible goes into in more detail elsewhere (Deuteronomy 6v4-9 for example). But this commandment emphasises the responsibility children have in all of this. 

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Remember the Sabbath day

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Which of these have you heard, or said, in the last week?

‘I mustn’t waste time’

‘If only I had more time I could…’

‘The time has flown by!’

How God’s people spend their time is at the heart of the 4th commandment:

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labour, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God.
— Exodus 20v8-10

Sabbath means ‘to rest’ or ‘cease.’ This pattern of working 6 days and having 1 day off was unheard of in the ancient world, and reflected the goodness of Israel’s God. All they had known was slavery in Egypt, now God commanded them to have one day off a week, as well as festivals!

What does the Sabbath mean for Christians today?                                                              

The New Testament suggests some Christians continued to observe the Sabbath as a special day, while others regarded every day as the same (Romans 14v5). It seems for some Christians the Sabbath was a cause of tension and division. Colossians 2.16-17 states:

Therefore let no one pass judgment… with regard to the Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.
— Colossians 2v16-17

If we want to know what Sabbath rest from work is all about, we have to look away from the shadow and to the substance, or reality. Christians are to look to Jesus. He has finished our work of salvation, and is sat down at the right hand of God our Father. From there he invites us to ‘come to me all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11v28).

Christ is the end of working for salvation. Christ is the end of justifying our existence by what we do. Christ is the end of slavishly living for the approval of our peers or bosses. It is easy to overwork and idolise our jobs, trying to find in them our identity, worth, and satisfaction. It is easy to live for the weekend, the next holiday, or ‘me time’ without the pressures of work and family. But Christ offers us the life we were always made for. Our Creator and Redeemer invites us to come to him and find ‘rest for our souls.’

In our work and rest, may we discover more of what St. Augustine discovered so long ago: ‘You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until it rests in you.’

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Shout for joy to the Lord!

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I didn’t see it in the news, I think it was because it was the same day as the Royal Wedding and the FA cup final, but here in Sheffield last weekend, the real story played out on the football pitch between 11 men of Christ Church Walkley and what seemed like an army from Christ Church Central. Over 90 minutes on Saturday morning, it felt like I used my legs and lungs more than I had done the entire year beforehand (and my body has told me so this week!)

A football game, like a lot of sports, is a natural place to pour out praise and adulation. One of our players is relentless in his encouragement and throughout the game picked out individual players with shouts of “great footwork”, “keep it up”, “excellent defending”. It might seem like just a little thing, but what is praise other than ascribing worth to someone or something, telling someone how good it is that they have done something worthy of celebration! Praising someone is picking up on a positive attribute and telling them 'that is great!'

We have a God that is worthy of far greater praise than a shout of encouragement to a teammate, Psalm 100 says;

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his.
— Psalm 100v1-3

The writer of this Psalm is encouraging us to join with the whole earth in shouting praise to God! The bible calls this worship.

I really like this live version of 'All Creatures of our God and King' by Kings Kaleidoscope:

It’s  God who made us, it’s God who made everything, so let’s take every opportunity we can to join with all the creatures of our God and King praising Him!

And just incase you were wondering, Christ Church Walkley won for the second year in a row, we’ll try not to boast about it.

Let all things their creator bless,
And worship him in humbleness,
O Praise Him!

The Name

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What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet

So says Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. What’s in a name she asks? It doesn’t matter what you’re called, what your name is, it’s just a label that we use for convenience. 

It’s the same way we use names today, they’re a helpful way of referring to people. When I shout up the stairs for one of the children to come down (in principle!) the right child comes.  Their actual name doesn’t matter that much, we don’t pick baby names with the serious expectation that it will influence the character and identity of the child as they grow up.

But in the Bible, names are much more than simply tags so we know who we’re talking about. In the Bible, names tell you about the character of the person, it tells you what they’re like. Their name is intimately wrapped up in who they are as a person, in their identity. Treating someone’s name in a certain way was the equivalent of treating the person themselves that way. 

So how we treat and speak God’s name is how we are thinking of and treating God himself – the two can’t really be separated. Hence, the third commandment is so important even though in the midst of the other nine it’s often overlooked.

You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who take his name in vain.
— Exodus 20v7

As we’ve seen in previous weeks the context of this commandment is important. A few chapters earlier God has revealed his name to Moses, “I am who I am.”  He is the God of Israel’s Fathers, the God who has made and kept in covenants with them, the God who is powerful, the God who can save and rescue them. 

When we speak God’s name it’s the good and powerful God of underserved rescue who we are speaking of. And so, our use of His name should have the right sense of gravity and weight behind it. We should treat God’s name in the same way we treat God.

To take God’s name in vain has the sense of making it worthless or emptying it. It’s to use God’s name in a way that is false to who He really is. That might be by using God’s name inappropriately, swearing an oath on God’s name or wrongly claiming to speak words from God as we see elsewhere in the Bible.

But, and perhaps close to home, it’s also when we use God’s name in a way that empties it of its meaning – that makes God into someone much smaller than he is. 

When we pray we take God’s name and often in our speech we use God’s name. But are we doing it in an empty or meaningless way? Does the way we use God’s name reflect who he really is, or does it distort or empty him?

It’s worth a thought over the coming week.

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