The purpose of this session was largely practical. I asked the question, “How do we become churches, congregations, that more accurately, naturally, and consistently, model the kind of relationship the Psalmists had with God?” I set it up by saying we were going to look at four concerns the Psalmists had that we should have as well. We looked at:
- what we do with our bodies
- what we do with our minds
- what we do with our trials
- God’s glory on the earth
We ended up dividing the night into two “messages.” The first message includes the first three parts and the second message covers the last point. Here’s a brief synopsis of the first message, which includes the first three sections.
In the first section I shared that the Psalmists engaged in and encouraged physical expression in corporate worship that was driven by a clear view of the greatness and goodness of God as Creator, Redeemer, Deliverer, Sustainer, Shepherd, Refuge, Shelter, and more. There is no place for half-hearted praises in the Psalms. Hands clap (Ps. 47), feet dance (Pss. 149-150), knees bow (Ps. 5), arms are raised (Pss. 28 and 134), and voices shout and sing everywhere. I wanted us to grapple with what that means for us today, knowing that we had many Presbyterians, Southern Baptists, and Bob Jones graduates at the conference…I said the crucial question is this: “Is there any physical expression of worship that God has given us in Scripture that you’ve never displayed? And if so, why?” I encouraged us to use our bodies to make Jesus look like a glorious Savior, not just when we sing, but every day. After I shared, we sang Praise the Lord from the new Psalms CD and Happy Day by Tim Hughes. It was a great time of glorying in the greatness of God.
From there we looked at engaging our minds as we worship God. It’s evident that the Psalms don’t contain any fluff or filler lyrics. So God must expect us to think about what we’re singing and saying to him. To help us engage more intentionally, I led us in a time of singing, using Psalm 100 to inspire spontaneous songs of response. We included a portion of that on the recording.
We then looked at how the Psalmists deal with trials. Ryan Ferguson did a brilliant job reciting Psalm 25, after which I sang a spontaneous song for those who found themselves in a season of waiting. After taking time to pray for those who were in long-time chronic pain, we moved on to the final section, in which David Powlison shared thoughts on how we should understand the imprecatory Psalms and how they relate to the Pslamists’ concern for God’s glory on the earth. I’ll post on that tomorrow.
In the mean time, if you’d like to download the first part of Friday evening, you can click here. Some people have asked if we’re going to make this into a video. I’m waiting to see the DVD of that night before I answer that question.