www.spiritualdisciplines.org newsletter

September 2001

September/October Schedule
Please pray for these ministry opportunities.
Ministry Resources

Church Covenant
Discipline Policy
Why Join A Church?
The Baptist Catechism
Bible Reading Record
The Call of God to Preach
Looking for a Church Home?

Sample Chapters
From Don's Books

Do You Thirst for God?
from Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health

Silence and Solitude
from Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

Why Join a Church?
from Spiritual Disciplines Within the Church

A Spiritual Mind-Set
from How Can I Be Sure I'm A Christian?

Subscription Information

Know someone who would like to receive this e-zine?
Try forwarding it, or see the simple directions at the bottom of this page. Received this email from a friend? Click HERE to subscribe.

Other Articles/Resources Concerning Worship

Worship Experience, Christmas Eve Sunday

The Baptist Catechism

Why Join A Church?

Real Audio Sermons

Theological Reflections
on the Terrorist Attack
  • We should make sure that our confidence is not in our military, our international intelligence, our preparation, etc., but believe that "God is our refuge and strength" (Psalm 46:1a).
  • We should affirm that in real life tragedies such as this, God is not far away, but is in fact, "A very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1b). Turn to Him, not the television analysts, military leaders, or experts on terrorism, for comfort.
  • We should not fear, even though our world has been forever changed by these events. Because God is our refuge and strength, and because He is a very present help in trouble, "Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change" (Psalm 46:2a).
Click here to read the rest of this article.

10 Ways To Improve Your Church's Worship Service

Because of the traveling part of my preaching and teaching ministry, I worship the Lord in a different church most Sundays of the year. My experiences in churches nationwide, together with my years of teaching a seminary course on worship, cause me to think a great deal about the worship of God in the local church.

One observation I have made is that most churches could make dramatic improvements in the quality of their worship event by making some changes that are relatively simple. After a quarter-century of pastoral ministry and leading worship services, I do realize why "simple" changes are sometimes difficult to make. However, if you are a leader who senses the need for freshness in worship, you should consider these recommendations because (a) they each have a direct or indirect biblical basis, (b) they are specific enough to be practical, and (c) they can be accommodated to any church, regardless of size, location, culture, or worship style.

Click here to read the rest of this article.

Is Worship Boring?

NOTE: In December 2000 I was asked by a writer of Word and Way (the newspaper of the Missouri Baptist Convention) to contribute to a multi-page, special section on the subject of "Is Church Boring?" My input was requested because in my responsibilities as professor of Spiritual Formation at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary I teach a required class on "Worship Leadership, " and also because I have written on and speak frequently in churches and conferences on the subject of worship.

Some of what follows appeared in the December 21, 2000 Word and Way.

What is your response when you hear someone say, "Church is boring.?"

My first response is to ask, "Why do you say that?" For starters, even the worship service that would be most pleasing to the Lord is likely to bore the unconverted person, whether they profess to be a Christian or not. "But a natural man," the Bible makes plain in 1 Cor. 2:14, "does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised." In light of this, and in light of the fact that many who attend church are not true believers, I would expect church to be boring to many people. They do not have the God-given, spiritual capacity to find the satisfaction, nourishment, and refreshment in it that those with the Spirit of God do.

Click here to read the rest of this article.

Spiritual Disciplines
Within the Church

"I can worship God outdoors as well as I can in church."

Have you heard that line? I've heard it countless times. All my life I've heard arguments about the acceptability of worship at the golf course, the lake, in the woods, and other places. For many it's not a matter of worshiping God as well in nature, but better. If this is true, then why worship with the church?

God reveals Himself more clearly in congregational worship than in nature. I do not deny that we can worship God in a cathedral of sky that's bursting with light and the smells of the earth, accompanied by a chorus of sparrows. In fact, I affirm it. I agree with C.H. Spurgeon, "All places are places of worship to a Christian."

But even though God does reveal Himself in nature, He does so in a limited way. Creation, as clearly and beautifully as it reveals the Creator, is not the clearest revelation of God. God has revealed Himself most completely in Jesus Christ and in Scripture (John 1:18; 2 Timothy 3:16)—much more than through creation.

Here's the point: You won't hear about Christ and you won't hear the God-breathed words when you worship God in nature, but you will when you worship with the church. There is a much more conspicuous and perceptible proclamation of God in congregational worship than in nature. For example, creation reveals God as Creator, but not as Savior. And the Bible says that God's work as Savior—an action whereby He makes a "new creation" (2 Corinthians 5:17)—is more glorious than creation itself.

So it just isn't true that you can consistently worship God as well on the golf course, at the lake, in a stadium, on a hike or bike through the woods, or in the privacy of your own home or backyard as you can with His people at church. If you really want to worship God, you can never do better than worshiping Him where His Word is preached and Christ is proclaimed.

(Taken from pp. 75-77 of Don's book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life)
Read a chapter from this book.

Family News and Notes
  • Caffy went down to see her mom (widowed on July 15) for a good, long visit in mid-August. Then Mom returned to stay with us for about three days. She's to be with us again during the next-to-last week of September.
  • Laurelen started third grade in homeschool in late August. She also began her fourth year of piano lessons, and loves her new teacher. She's opted for ballet this fall instead of soccer.
  • Moody magazine ran a very positive review of Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health in its September/October issue (page 70), along with a color photograph. One of the major articles (on page 22) included a large sidebar containing the entire table of contents of the book.
  • The fall semester has started at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where I am teaching two sections of Personal Spiritual Disciplines, and one each of Congregational Spiritual Disciplines and Worship Leadership. If you'd like to get a glimpse of what these are like, you can read a syllabus and class calendar for each course at the "For MBTS students" button on this website. Laurelen and a SunflowerDuring the first week of classes I was returning from lunch with a student, and he was in the process of saying how he admired how organized I am, when we were interrupted by another who asked why I had missed my class that morning. The story is now legendary on the MBTS campus how I missed my first meeting of the semester with my 11:00 Wednesday/Friday class, thinking it was at 1:00.
  • Caffy started teaching “Personal Spiritual Disciplines” to about 18 wives of seminary students in Midwestern’s WISDOM program. She teaches most every Tuesday night throughout the semester for a couple of hours.
  • I finally finished splitting and stacking the rick of firewood Jim Orrick and I cut on a blisteringly hot day in July. Those short pieces of mixed hardwoods will age for a year near two cords of beautiful red oak (dried for two years) that were delivered in August.
  • Caffy's "New Wave Petunias" in the upstairs windowboxes have expended themselves and been replaced by mums. Her half-dozen sunflowers at the entrance to the backyard started their decline about Labor Day and now lay crisscrossed over everything else. One of them was a monster: ten-feet tall and the blossom had a diameter bigger than a human face. They attracted more goldfinches than we've seen in a long time.
  • The website page with my brief evaluation of The Prayer of Jabez now has more hits than the website home page!
  • We're halfway through reading C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia together as a family.

Articles | Audio | Biography | Books | Churches | Conf. Topics | Contact | Inviting Don
Ministry Tools | Order Books | Sample Chapters | Schedule | What's New? | Home
To be removed from this list, please reply with "UNSUBSCRIBE" in the subject line.
Know someone who would like to receive this e-zine? Try simply forwarding it. However, if when you hit the "forward" button you see only text at the bottom of your screen you need to simply copy this address and send it to them instead: http://www.SpiritualDisciplines.org/newsltr.html