Worthwhile January 18, 2019

The government continues its partial shutdown, not making life easy for those without paychecks. Pray for them. How will we look back on this time in our political lives? What will we learn from it?

Otherwise, let’s get to some bits that are worth you time this week. Being simple, the church in Asia and an email you want in your inbox.


First up: With the quick fad of Marie Kondo and tidying up (notice how they lured you in a resolution time) it is a good time for those placing faith and hope in Jesus versus material possessions to reflect on the health of simplicity. Myles Werntz uses more words than necessary but gives a helpful essay, especially for those of us with kids!

Read his “In Praise of Simplicity” here.


Next, and more importantly, Open Doors released their yearly ranking of the 50 most dangerous nations for Christians and Asian countries have risen on the naughty list. Be praying for those in China and India in particular.

Read Christianity Today’s coverage of the list.


Finally in the worthwhile list is Matt Anderson’s new email essays. You can subscribe and receive them in your inbox a couple of times a week. I highly recommend today’s on free speech and restricting some negative speech.

Reclaiming a Biblical Pattern of Worship?

Last week Andrew Wilson’s latest book on the merger of eucharistic and charismatic worship landed in the mailbox and I think it presents a clear, if brief, argument for a wise way or pursuing a biblical expression of the church.

Wilson, well known to those in the “Reformed” and continuationist camp (holding to more Calvinistic theology and the belief that the miraculous gifting of the Holy Spirit continues today), invites the church to go both deeper and higher in a way that sounds nearly unfeasible but is actually quite intriguing.

Spirit and Sacrament is a “theological vision for the church that treasures all of God’s gifts, the eucharistic and charismatic, beginning with charis (grace) and culminating in chara (joy).” Marrying the passion of the church for the sacraments (communion, baptism as examples) along with historic creeds and prayers of the church with “low church” expressions where the gifts of the Spirit are passionately pursued.

Given my background and doctrinal positions, the book speaks to my desires in the life of the church but to be fair, it has enough to make each side anxious toward what could come of such a vision.

Wilson warmly persuades those unlikely to call their way of doing church “liturgical” to recognize their own liturgy and inject more of the tested and biblically taught things that adorn the gospel. A call to worship, reciting a creed, call and response, the reading of Scripture (apart from the sermon), and confession etc.

At the same time, he attempts to bring an embrace and fervent pursuit of supernatural gifts to places typically more reserved and cautious.

While ardent cessationists (those that presume the gifts ended with the end of biblical canon or ministry of the original apostles) will not be convinced, since Wilson takes just a brief moment to present a Charismatic basis, the interaction with the church fathers’ experience of the miraculous is worthwhile.

Throughout I was struck that what Wilson is presenting is a full-bodied biblical church. This is the model of the New Testament and should be a rich way forward for the church.

Wilson says this way of worship is aspirational, not descriptive, and aspire toward it we should. All said I imagine this little book will become the start of an increasing call to such things and it is something that I welcome with expectancy.

Here are some key quotes from the book:

“The historic church has always been more “charismatic” than either the cautious conservatives or sectarian enthusiasts have been willing to admit.”

“It must be possible to lament and celebrate, be serious and joyful, at the same time. It is important to consider how this kind of both/and can be cultivated and how being Eucharismatic can help us.”

“Gifts… are like vessels that carry us back to our homeland; they should be enjoyed, but only in that they are taking us to our true source of joy and our true love.”

“We need to plunge ourselves into the depths of our tradition, so as to spring to new heights. Down, into historic prayers. Up, into spontaneous ones. Down, into confession of sin. Up, into the celebration of forgiveness. Down, into the creeds. Up, into the choruses. Down, into knowing God’s presence in the sacraments. Up, into feeling God’s presence in song. Call, and response. Friday, then Sunday. Kneel, then jump.”

“The sacraments should be at the heart of our corporate worship, not peripheral and occasional interruptions to it.”

“If you want to be gospel-centered, be Table-centered. If you want to be truly evangelical, be eucharistic.”

“The chief actor in the sanctification of the believer is not a message, but a Messenger: a person who can be grieved or honored, not just a word that can be rejected or believed.”

“We are under the same covenant as our first-century brothers and sisters, and as such, we should assume that what the apostles taught them, they would also teach us.”

“It is possible, and in fact required of us, both to earnestly desire spiritual gifts – knowledge, wisdom, faith, prophecy, languages, interpretation, distinguishing spirits, teaching, healing, miracles, helping, administering, leading, giving, showing mercy – and to do so with scriptural wisdom, so as to build us the body, serve the common good, love one another, and exalt the risen Christ.”

Worthwhile January 11, 2019

Into the New Year we have sprung. Funny how it feels a lot like the last year. Political division. Work to be done. Schedules that keep us inundated. And of course the only real place of refreshment and peace, the gospel of grace.

This week two articles worth your time and thought. Both on similar perspectives. One on prayer and what one church, and maybe all of us, mean when we seek God. The second on a new move afoot to move from mere theological continuationism (believing the Holy Spirit works miraculously still today) to the actual experience of it in our churches


From Sam Storms, a reflection on his church’s days of fasting and prayer. At Reservoir we used a couple of quotes from Sam in our weekly prayer meeting as we desire the same things. One key quote:

By saying we seek “God himself” I mean greater manifestations of his presence, a tangible sense of his nearness, deeper and sweeter fellowship and communion with him, a heightened capacity to hear his voice, a movement on our hearts to feel and enjoy his affection for us, and an expanded power in us to enjoy and adore him with greater fervency. In seeking “God himself” we long to know him better, to understand his will and ways with greater clarity, to go deeper and deeper into the character of God, to be set on fire with a more passionate commitment to him and adoration of him. In seeking “God himself” we long for a satisfaction in our souls that is so rich and powerful that it drowns out the alluring and seductive appeal of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Sam Storms

Read the whole piece here.


Next is a quick note from Andrew Wilson about a comment from Tim Challies about the move afoot for Charismatic experience in our churches. Typically Calvinistic churches that believe the gifts of the Holy Spirit continue today have been reserved at best in the expression of these gifts or even the pursuit of them. But the wind is blowing. Times are changing and more and more leaders are moving from holding a theology to experiencing it.

This is something we have expressed at Reservoir, the desire to be Word and Spirit people not merely holding a doctrinal belief but living in light of it. Come Holy Spirit come.

Opinion Media

Maybe this post is venting or perhaps a cry for help because I don’t have a solution to the problem just yet. But this week I have been struck by the necessity of shared opinion in our day. In fact, if you don’t have an opinion you are view with suspicion or worse.

Maybe it is social media. The constant demand it seems to present for a form of engagement that is really just sharing your opinion, and done aggressively without care for what others may think. Sure people have always had and shared opinions but the prevalence of it is a soup that we swim in as a culture.

Quick, rate the restaurant and shoe store on Yelp. Hurry and like your cousin’s post about a border wall (or perhaps click the angry emoji). Or take your time and write a blog post about how this is bad or that just doesn’t get it. Everything opinion all the time. And the media we engage with gives us a megaphone to broadcast how we feel and think.

It has even invaded normal conversation, judgment of others, things, and situations… many that we have no real knowledge about. The opinion culture fostering criticism and condemnation of everything.

Surely it is an increasing problem that only stands to divide and separate the lot of us. We should all do something about it. Resist the urge. Change the dialogue.

Of course, that’s just my opinion…