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June 2011

New Look, Same Depth

Introducing RW’s New Design and Website

All good celebrations include the giving of gifts. As we pondered what to give our readers to help celebrate Reformed Worship’s twenty-fifth anniversary, we concluded that nothing says “thanks” quite like a new look and website upgrade.

Worship in a Beatitude-shaped World

Learning from Psalm 73

Have you ever been in a ­worship service where the ­spoken, sung, or visual message was transformational? You leave convicted that the old way of doing, believing, or speaking was wrong and it is replaced with a new way. Such was the experience of the writer of Psalm 73.

In this article John Witvliet explores Psalm 73 and what it might teach us about worship today—and how it might provide an example for future issues of Reformed Worship. —JB

Dwelling with Philippians

Five Services on Joyful Living

Philippians has been the focus for Bible study groups on the campus of Calvin College and Hope College in Michigan during this past year. More than 1,500 students participated in small-group Bible studies, which often included a combination of faculty, staff, and students. A number of churches across the country also joined the study.

Wisdom around the World

A New Document for Worship Planners Everywhere

What worship issues or needs are of most concern in your church? This question was posed in a questionnaire sent to Reformed churches around the world (see list on website). A sample of what those churches said concerned them the most is found below:

“Training of pastors in theology of worship, preaching/leading worship”

“Inclusiveness of women, youth, and children”

“Training of musicians in theology of worship and music skills”

Worshiping the Triune God

A Study Guide to a Global Dialogue, Part 1 of 5


To help you smile as you read the words of “Worshiping the Triune God,” Reformed Worship has planned a series of articles that provide a framework for studying this new resource. We hope to entice you and your worship leadership team to become personally invested in the ongoing global conversation this document has begun, and to discover how your local Lord’s Day celebration intersects, informs, and impacts the worship, witness, and mission of brothers and sisters in Christ around the globe.

Sing a Song of Celebration!

Je louerai l’Éternel/Praise, I Will Praise You, Lord; Blessed Be Your Name; Joy to the World

The Christian church has a reputation for being a bit stodgy. Our worship seldom attracts criticism for being too joyful or too exuberant—indeed, if we had to make a biblical comparison, many of us would be forced to admit that our worship is closer to Eutychus falling asleep “as Paul talked on and on” (Acts 20:9) than to “the roar of a great multitude” (Rev. 19:1).

Paper Cut

Last fall I was asked to lead a workshop at a church in a nearby town. I had never been to this church before and knew only a couple of the people attending the workshop. If I was anxious at all, my fears vanished the moment the door swung open. My hosts warmly welcomed me with eager hospitality. The group was lively and fun, and it was obvious they loved their church very much. “Can we show you around?” they asked. And so I got The Tour.

Joy and Unity in God's Word

Resources for a Series on Philippians

In summertime, the energy level in churches often drops a bit. There are no major liturgical celebrations; families go on vacation; programs take a break. At this time of year, most of us wouldn’t think of an eight-week series on one of Paul’s prison letters as a way to breathe joyful life into a congregation, but that’s exactly what happened at one church.

Seeing with Your Mind's Eye

Not many people see everything around them, and few are acute observers of their environment. In fact, most of us see just enough to prevent us from falling. That kind of seeing is a safety device. Real seeing requires the use of your mind’s eye and making connections with a world that is beyond the physical. You could call it “seeing with your soul.”

Go Ahead - Take the Penalty Flag

Football season is either long over or a long way off—depending which direction you are facing on the calendar. But watching college bowl games during the 2010 season got me thinking about preaching. (Try telling that to your elders!)

The Night Grandpa Dirkse Came Back

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

—Hebrews 12:1

Rejoice . . . and Dance!

Picture a young child ripping open a gift—something he’s been longing for. What does he do? Does he sit quietly and smile? If he’s like most kids, he’ll more likely clasp his hands and raise his shoulders in excitement. Maybe he’ll even give the giver a spontaneous hug before throwing his arms up in the air. Physical expressions of celebration and rejoicing flow naturally from young children.

But joyful movements aren’t just for kids.

First Things First

Centering Our Praise in God

Each spring at Western Theological Seminary we hold an end-of-year awards convocation, as do many educational institutions. It’s a special ceremony to celebrate God’s gifts to the whole community and to honor students who have made particularly good use of those gifts. Awards are granted for excellence in biblical studies, church history, ethics, missiology, preaching, pastoral care, systematic theology, and so on.

Scripture Reading; Offering

Q. Our church has been involving members in worship by having them read Scripture. This has been a blessing in many ways; however, some of them aren’t the best readers, and we wonder if we should stick with a “professional” like the minister. Should we?

Finding Joy

As we plan this one hundredth issue of Reformed Worship, the skies outside my window are filled with low-hanging clouds. The earth itself is digging in for the season when nature’s beauty is bleak. Only a few papery leaves cling to the bare branches of the trees. It’s dark when I arrive at work and dark when I drive home again.