www.spiritualdisciplines.org newsletter

Issue Number Three

November/December Schedule
Please pray for these ministry opportunities.

  • Nov. 2-4
    Crestview Bible Church
    Hutchinson, KS

  • Nov. 6
    Antioch Bible Baptist
    Gladstone, MO

  • Nov. 9-11
    Sycamore Hills Baptist
    Independence, MO

  • Nov. 15
    Evangelical Theological Society
    Colorado Springs, CO

  • Dec. 9
    Grace Baptist Church
    Cape Coral, FL

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?

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Other Articles/Resources Concerning Worship

Worship Experience, Christmas Eve Sunday

The Baptist Catechism

Why Join A Church?

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The enthusiastic response to "Ten Ways to Improve Your Church's Worship Service" has encouraged me to write a sequel. If you are unfamiliar with the "Ten Ways" article, you should read it first. While there are some exceptions here, the suggestions in that article, as a whole, are more important than these. You can link to it by clicking here or by pointing your browser to www.SpiritualDisciplines.org/10ways.html .

1. Plan worship only for people who can worship.
Many churches plan their worship services as though unbelievers can worship. But the Apostle Paul makes plain in 1 Corinthians 12:3 that "no one can say, 'Jesus is Lord,' except by the Holy Spirit." Anyone can utter the words, of course, but unless the Holy Spirit indwells a person they cannot say such things as a sincere expression of true worship.

In other words, those who do not know Jesus as Lord (and thus do not have the Holy Spirit) cannot worship God, so why design the worship of God for those incapable of worship? We plan evangelistic services and events for unbelievers; worship services are for believers.

Click here to read the rest of this article.


It was about 1987 when Caffy and I spent a summer's week in a borrowed cabin near Traverse City, Michigan. One afternoon we browsed through a used bookstore. While perusing the "Regional" section of the shop, my attention was arrested by an interesting title, Listening Point. I had no idea at the moment, of course, how the book would change my life.

The author was Sigurd F. Olson. His works were in the "Regional" section because he was from another Great Lakes state, Minnesota. Sig died in the early 1980s while in his own early 80s. Listening Point is one of his best-loved volumes, telling of his decades-long enjoyment of a beautifully rugged, lakeside piece of land near his home at the top of the U.S. map. Olson wrote about remote north country travels and adventures, not Christian books. But Listening Point (and his other works) were so well-written that they kindled within me a desire to visit a place I'd never heard of previously, an area on either side of the Canadian border he called the Quetico-Superior country, better known today as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Click here to read the rest of this article

Spiritual Disciplines
Within the Church


When a football team wins the national championship, it gets more glory if the game is shown to millions throughout the country than if no one but you were to see it individually on closed-circuit TV. An author gets more glory if many others acclaim his book than if you alone were to read the words and praise his work. Public glory obviously brings more glory than does private glory. Likewise, God gets more glory when you worship Him with the church than when you worship Him alone.

The Lord is most glorified when His glory is most declared, not when it is hidden or private. Never will Christ be more glorified than "when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe," and when "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (2 Thessalonians 1:10 and Philippians 2:10-11, italics added). Despite its deficiencies, worship in the church is more like this than is private worship, and thus it brings more glory to God.

If I tell you what a wonderful wife Caffy is, and write it for all who read this book to see, that public praise brings her more glory than if I tell her privately. This is not to minimize the importance of telling her the same when we're alone, for if I don't tell her privately, it won't mean very much to her if I say great things about her to others. That's the way it is with the public worship of God too. "There is no way," says Welsh pastor Geoffrey Thomas, "that those who neglect secret worship can know communion with God in the public services of the Lord's Day." It is right to worship God both alone and with the church, but worshiping God with the church brings Him more glory.

It is very simple: greater glory is given to God when many people sincerely sing together,

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like Me!

than when one person sings this testimony in private. God delights in the devotion of every individual and in each moment of private worship, but we ascribe greater glory to Him when we join our hearts and voices together in a symphony of worship.

[Taken from pages 77-78 of Don's book, Spiritual Disciplines Within the Church.]

Read a chapter from this book.

Family News and Notes
  • Caffy was delighted to have the opportunity to sing in chapel at seminary again. She (along with Dave & Yvette Conte) sang Psalm 62. Rehearsing and singing there was where she found herself on the morning of Sept. 11.
  • For several years I have heard about a class on worship at Southern Seminary being taught by Old Testament professor Dan Block. Originally an elective, the course has become so popular (they've been unable to find a classroom large enough to hold all the students who want to take it) that it is now required in some degree programs. I heard Dr. Block was coming to Kansas City one weekend, so he allowed me to meet him at the airport and take him to Barnes & Noble. In our hour-long conversation over coffee we discovered that our hearts beat together about many of the contemporary issues concerning worship. If you have the opportunity to hear him preach or teach on worship, by all means do.
  • The three Whitneys had a wonderful ten days (during fall break at the seminary) in Ely, Minnesota. You are invited to read my journal entry about it in the second article above.
  • I'm currently working on two writing projects. One is a paper to be delivered at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society on Thursday, November 15 at 5:15 Mountain Time in Colorado Springs. The subject is "Defining the Boundaries of Evangelical Spirituality." If the Lord brings this to mind, please pray for both my writing and delivery. This is my first presentation at ETS, which is an annual gathering for conservative biblical scholars.
  • The other project is a chapter on private worship to be included in a festschrift for (i.e., a volume of essays honoring the life of) the late Dr. James Montgomery Boice. I need to write well and finish this by December 1, but I won't be able to start until after ETS. Please pray for this project as well.
  • In a related vein, someone has expressed interest in printing "Ten Ways to Improve Your Church's Worship Service" which appeared in the last issue of this newsletter.
  • Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health went into a second printing in October, and How Can I Be Sure I'm a Christian went into its fifth.
  • We're in Book 5 (Voyage of the Dawn Treader) in our reading of C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia together as a family. Laurelen said last night that she likes the books of C.S. Lewis and E.B. White because she can imagine the scenes in them better than in other books.

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