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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Congregational Prayer: Morning and Evening 19 October 2014

Sunday Morning Prayer:
O Lord God, who saved us from the constraints of fear so that we may serve you in the freedom of love; we come in confidence to pray for your World and your Church.

We pray for the nations of this earth, which desire to through off any allegiance to you, and conspire together against your anointed One (Psalm 2). Put your reverence in them, cause them to discard all their bloodlust, greed and jingoistic pride; and turn them toward your righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14.17).

Almighty God, thank you for the heritage and legacy of this country. We are not ignorant of its many failings, but we are grateful for its initial recognition of God-ordained liberties. Lead our leaders and govern our governors that they may love mercy, do justly and walk humbly before you in the way of your truth.

We pray for our U.S. Military personnel as they serve this country, may they do so honorably and valiantly. Comfort them in their difficulties, preserve their families, and provide for them all things necessary for their well-being.

 Lord, until Your Son returns to right all wrongs, and completes what he began at the cross and empty tomb, there is still death, dying, disease and desperation. We pray for all who are suffering in any way (esp. these)….have mercy on one and all, clear away all clouds that blind them from seeing your goodness, and be pleased to prosper them in body, mind and heart.

Lord, we are grieved over those who have never confessed Christ Jesus as the Lord, those who have strayed away from the faith, and those who claim to be atheists and skeptics…;  Give them new hearts, draw them in and give them to your Son; and provide us with opportunities to tell them the Good News of Christ Jesus the Lord.

We pray for your Church throughout the world: For the faithful, we implore you to shower your lavish kindnesses on them and supply all their need according to your riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4.19). Those of our brothers and sisters who are straying into paths that dishonor you, restrain and restore them. For this congregation, we pray that You would continue to add to our number such as are being saved; keep us in continual godliness and fruitfulness, that through your protection we may be free from all adversities and devoutly given over to serving you in all good works.

Sunday Evening Prayer:
Lord Jesus, we did not choose you, but you chose us and appointed us that we should go and bear fruit and that our fruit should abide, so that whatever we ask the Father in your name, he may give it to us (John 15.16). Thank you for promising such rich assurances! Lord, believing what you have promised, we pray now with confidence in your name:

For Your Church in all places, including Greater Hope Baptist Church; Greater Love Baptist; Greater Marshall Memorial Baptist; Greater Mt. Carmel Baptist; Greater Mt. Pilgrim Baptist; Greater New Zion Baptist and Greater Shiloh Baptist Church: O GOD the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Saviour, the Prince of Peace: Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions. Take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatsoever else may hinder us from godly union and concord: that, as there is but one Body, and one Spirit, and one hope of our calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all; so we may henceforth be all of one heart, and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and with one mind and one mouth glorify you through Jesus Christ our Lord (taken from The Book of Common Prayer). O Lord, hear our prayer.

Father, almighty and everlasting God, source of all wisdom and understanding, who desires us to bear good fruit that abides: be present with us, renew us, help us to stay focused on your world rescue mission, teach us in all things to seek first your honor and glory; guide us to perceive what is right, and then grant us the courage to pursue it and the grace to accomplish it (adapted from The Book of Common Prayer). O Lord, hear our prayer.

O God you are our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore supply us with such reliable resolution and confident conviction in you that we will not fear; even though the earth gives way, the mountains are moved into the heart of the sea, the earth’s waters roar and foam, the mountains tremble and swell (Psalm 46.1-3); whether economies crumble, or plague or pestilence rage; whether sickness strikes us personally or catastrophe smashes into our lives. For of all people, we should always walk in hope, confidence, and humble-boldness because Christ is risen and that makes these things only a light momentary affliction that is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison as we look not to the transient things that are seen, but the eternal things that are not seen. Good God, help us to be the people who walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 4.17-18; 5.7). O Lord, hear our prayer.

We implore your protection and care on Pastor John as he travels home today; keep him safe. And once he lands, grant him rest and a speedy rebound. Lord, hear our prayer.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Congregational Prayer Morning and Evening: 12 October 2014

Sunday Morning:
We lift up our hearts to you, Lord God, for your bounteous gifts and plentiful favors: rain, food, health, life, taste, sight, family, friends and vocations. And most of all we revere you because you alone are God, who is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfastness and faithfulness, who keeps steadfast love for thousands of generations, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin.

O Lord, we pray for the besieged and beleaguered peoples in our world, suffering from floods and droughts, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, unemployment and underemployment, military threats, fears and pestilence. Please establish peace, justice, recovery and efficient economies in all lands, for the good of all, so that the Gospel of Jesus may spread unchecked, and that your Church may dwell securely in peace and quietness.

Guide our own leaders to throw off selfish programs, cut-throat tactics, dastardly devices and to put on what is truly legitimate and will promote evenhanded integrity.

Be with all of those in the U.S. Military, especially when deployed and in harm’s way; keep them safe, preserve their families, and bring them home whole in body and soul.

After this last week we are reminded that our police officers and deputies often find themselves in peril. Please be with our law enforcers and peace officers in the Oklahoma County area; preserve them from ambushes and traps; safeguard them from angry people, vicious criminals, and careless drivers.

Give ear to our concerns as we pray for those who are still in their unbelief and for those who have deserted the Christian Faith….may they turn around and believe in your Son Jesus Christ, and have everlasting life.

We pray for our enemies that you would lead them and us from prejudice to truth; and deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty and revenge to faith, hope and love; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you through Jesus Christ Your Son.

Finally, we recall before you those of our friends, families and fellowship who are recovering from medical procedures…, dealing with cancer…, struggling with finances…, limping along in deeply damaged marriages…, hampered by depression…, troubled with brain issues…, and others… Show yourself mighty to save that they may rejoice in your rich kindnesses throughout the remainder of their lives.


Sunday Evening:
Lord Jesus, you have graciously promised that if we abide in you, and your words abide in us, we can ask whatever we wish, and it will be done for us; for by this our Father is glorified, that we bear much fruit and so prove to be your disciples (John 15.7-8). Thank you for promising such rich assurances! Lord, believing what you have promised, we pray now with confidence in your name:

For Your Church in all places, including Grand Blvd Baptist Church; Greater Bethel Baptist; Greater Canon Baptist; Greater Concord Baptist, and Greater Fellowship Baptist Church: Our desire is to see all who claim to be your people to stand holy and whole and undivided in Jesus Christ. Therefore those who have stumbled into errors that dishonor you and create schism, restore them to your way of truth; those who have allowed their desires and ambitions to squeeze out brotherly love and create fights and wars, reinstate them in the cross-shaped ways of Christ; those who are towing the line and promoting wholesome doctrine and genuine godliness in modesty, encourage them by giving grace to the humble while you withstand the proud; and those who are standing firm against the pressures and persecutions of the world, strengthen them that in life and in death they may remain faithful witnesses. O Lord, hear our prayer.

Father, we want to be a church that glorifies you by bearing good fruit. Consider our lack and what our age thinks to be unimpressive. Be free with us, Lord. Make free us of our abilities and our facilities. Help us to have it as our Goal, Aim, Mission, Motivation and Ambition that we would compassionately and fearlessly make known the Gospel of Jesus Christ and your whole counsel; that we would thrive in the appointed means of your grace: the Word, sacraments and prayer; that we would actively make disciples of Jesus Christ, locally and out to the end of the earth; and that being an ordinary, simple church we would always know that we are serving the extraordinary God. O Lord, hear our prayer.

We implore you to strengthen our families and friendships in this church. We ask you to fill the parents and kids, along with the husbands and wives with graciousness and godliness, charity and character, for our progress and joy in the Faith (Philippians 1.25). Similarly we ask you to fortify and uphold those who are single – whether younger or older – that they may be free from anxieties, and give their singleness to caring for things of the Lord, how to please the Lord (1 Corinthians 7.32). And strengthen our friendships, especially inside this congregation, that in love and laughter, purpose and pleasure, care and comfort we may increasingly grow in solidarity with each other in Jesus Christ. O Lord, hear our prayer.

We implore your protection and care on Pastor John as he travels, preaches and teaches. Build up your people through his work, keep him resilient in body and soul, and bring him safely home when it’s time. Lord, hear our prayer.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

"The Word Became Fresh" by Dale Ralph Davis; a Review

The Word Became Fresh: How to Preach from Old Testament Narrative Texts
Dale Ralph Davis
(A Christian Focus Publications imprint)
Geanies House
Fearn, Tain
Ross-shire IV20 1TW
Scotland, UK
ISBN: 9781845501921; November 2006; $16.99

5 out of 5 stars: Fresh and Friendly

Many people seem to be intimidated and unsettled by the Old Testament. Even among Christians most plainly avoid reading it all the way through. They may glance at little snippets here and there; refer back to it when reading some text from the New Testament that mentions an Old Testament passage; or paste a heartwarming verse from Joshua, the Psalms or one of the prophets on their wall plaques. But truth be told, most Christians find the Old Testament, and especially the narratives, perplexing. And so do many preachers. Ask yourself two questions: (1) when was the last time you heard a sermon series or Sunday School series that walked the congregation through an Old Testament book? And (2) on balance, which portion of the Bible gets more press coverage in your congregation?  And yet, if the Apostle Paul could boldly claim, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15.4); and even our Lord Jesus, after his resurrection, could unashamedly begin “with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24.27; see also 24.44-47), then surely the Old Testament is the friend of Christ’s people and Christ’s preachers. That is where Dale Ralph Davis, Minister in Residence at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, South Carolina and one time Professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi, comes to our rescue with his 154 page paperback, “The Word Became Fresh: How to Preach from Old Testament Narrative Texts.”

“The Word Became Fresh” has one central aim: helping the preacher to practice and preach properly the Old Testament, “These pages therefore focus on the proper interpretation of Old Testament narratives in preparation for preaching” (i). The author carefully, humorously, and engagingly walks the reader through various aspects necessary in rightly reading the Old Testament. Each chapter is chock full of samplings and demonstrations that can be easily grasped and quickly become highly devotional.

In the nine chapters of the book, Davis covers solid material. At the outset he looks into how we should approach our study of the Old Testament (or any of God’s Scriptures-texts) as “beggars for the Spirit’s help” (2). He then guides us along showing the reader how and why to be alert to the literary quirks of a narrative passage.  Next he slides us into seeing the theology of passages, the stuff that it says and means “about God, his ways and his works” (31). The way a story is packaged, how its organization “and packaging reveal care and thoughtfulness about the whole ordeal” (45) is addressed in the fourth chapter.  Davis then boldly goes where most preachers hate to go, diving into the “nasties” of the Old Testament; those passages that make readers, preachers and teachers cringe. The author, next, shows the value of looking at the “macroscope” of a narrative, where it fits within the flow of the Old Testament book in which it resides. Following this, Davis shows how passages are and aren’t to be applied in preaching (something he has actually been exhibiting all along in the book).  Then the author explains and expounds that the central focus of every Old Testament narrative is theocentric, which means that in “all our reading we should keep our eye on God – what he is revealing about himself and how he is working” (121). Finally, Davis wraps the book together by giving the reader an opportunity to walk with him through Exodus 1 and 2, applying all that they have learned. In the book Davis does take sides on a few of the debates simmering among the “Reformed,” but he does so charitably and without getting tangled up in the fishing net. And I must say that every piece of the hermeneutical pie Davis has baked is delectable and digestible.  

Now please don’t let the subtitle of the book fool you. Though Davis is trying to encourage and help preachers to take the bold plunge into the Old Testament and preach it, nevertheless the material between the covers of “The Word Became Fresh” is accessible to Bible class teachers, moms, dads, camp counselors, prisoners, school teachers, headmasters, professors, and street maintenance workers. As a matter of fact, I found the whole book devotional. If a reader didn’t have time to indulge in a specific chapter at one sitting, it would be easy to imbibe in one chapter section at a time. For example, Chapter Three, “Theology,” covers Genesis 12, Genesis 23, Genesis 26, and Genesis 29.31-30.24. The reader could easily take each of these passages and segments one day at a time: read the Bible passage being covered, then Davis’s comments on it in the book, and finally take a moment to praise God for what you have just learned, or pray that God might make what you have just studied alive in your heart and awash in your day. Then on the following morning pick up the next passage and book section, doing this all the way to the end of the book. It will be time well invested.

“The Word Became Fresh” is a clear, concise and accommodating manual for anyone wanting to come to the Old Testament and benefit from it. This would be a nice gift for your preacher and it would be a valuable addition to your own library. I even think it could be used in an adult Bible class, and covered in one quarter. I first read this work in 2007, and was delighted to be refreshed by a second read, now some seven years later. I eagerly recommend this book.

{Feel free to publish or repost this review: and as always, please give credit where credit is due. Mike}

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Sunday Morning and Evening Prayer - 5 October 2014

Sunday morning:
O Lord God, who draws near to your people, that we may draw near to you; we come in confidence to pray for your World and your Church.

We pray for the nations of this earth, which rage and rush maddeningly against your healthy boundaries, trying to gain the upper hand over you and one another. In place of their fuming and fury, bestow and work into them peace, justice and civility.

Almighty God, grateful for the country where we have been born; we long to see our leaders and fellow-citizens walking in ways that tend toward peace, integrity and fairness. Guide the elections and the voters to select the right people for the good of our country and the peace of your Church.

We pray for our U.S. Military personnel as they serve this country, may they do so honorably. Comfort them when depressed and worried. Preserve their families from unnerving stress. And provide for them all things necessary for their well-being.

Lord, until your Son returns to right all wrongs, and complete what he began at the cross and empty tomb, there is still death, dying, disease and desperation. We pray for all who are suffering in any way (especially these)….restore, rejuvenate and heal.

Lord, we bring to your attention those who have never confessed Christ Jesus as the Lord, those who have strayed away from the faith, and those who claim to be atheists and skeptics…;  Give them new hearts, draw them in and give them to your Son; and provide us opportunities to tell them the Good News of Christ Jesus the Lord.

Watch over and strengthen Pastor John while he is away. Protect him in his travels, guide him as he teaches, prosper his preaching, and bring him home safely.

We pray for Your Church throughout the world. Supply all our financial, physical, communal and holy needs for our good and your glory. For this congregation, we pray that you would add to our number such as are being saved; and grant that as we are bathed in the light of your incarnate Word, that what shines by faith in our hearts and minds may also blaze out in our lives.


Sunday evening:
Holy God, the almighty, invincible, immutable; we worship you and give thanks that you are the one true God, who forms light and creates darkness, who makes well-being and creates calamity; you created the heavens – you are God, you formed the earth and made it – not as an empty planet, but a place to be inhabited. You are the LORD and there is no other. You did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; you did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘Seek me in vain.’ You, O LORD, speak the truth; you declare what is right. Glory to you, Lord God, most high (Isaiah 45.7, 18-19)!

Lord Jesus, while dining at the leading Pharisee’s house that one Sabbath, you freed and healed the man with dropsy giving him rest and restoration on your holy day (Luke 13.11-16); grant the same for those for whom we now pray – those recovering from surgery; those who are tussling with the formidable fear of cancer; those who are limping and lame from inflammations; those who are despondent, disheartened and drained; and others…. O Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord our God, thank you for the many who seek to make a wholesome difference in our country, state and communities; such as mayors, aldermen and those on city councils; senators and legislators; judges, police chiefs, sheriffs, State offices of various kinds; and all the other positions. They have a hard row to hoe, especially those who are conscientious and honorable. Strengthen them when they are weary; give them the fortitude to be men and women of genuine integrity; surround them with decent and upstanding staff. And through their work may our common life together become increasingly healthy so that “we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” For this is good, and it is pleasing in your sight, O God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2.2-4). O Lord, hear our prayer.

Again compassionate God we implore you for rain. Please adjust and attune the jet streams and weather patterns that our lands, crops, cattle, springs and aquifers may be replenished. O Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord God: death, disease, drought and dastardly deeds are afflicting many lands. Governments, bandits, gluttonous institutions, along with starving and desperate people are spreading these across borders, making things worse here and there. We pray for real remedies, and we ask you to bring about righteous restoration; for the good of all, and especially for the welfare of your Church.  O Lord, hear our prayer.

We beseech you on behalf of your church throughout the world, as well as Grace Baptist Church; Grace Community Baptist; Grace and Glory Baptist; Grace Missionary Baptist; Grace Place Baptist; Grace Pointe Baptist; and Graceway Baptist church: That you would KEEP your Church by your perpetual mercy: and, because the frailty of man without you cannot but fall, keep us ever by your help from all things hurtful, and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation, and our glorifying and enjoying (from the “Book of Common Prayer”). O Lord, hear our prayer.

Friday, October 3, 2014

"Rulers: Gospel and Government" edited by Charles Garriott; a Review

Rulers: Gospel and GovernmentRulers: Gospel and Government by Charles M. Garriott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In a highly politicized age like ours, it's rare to find Christian people who simply want to serve Christ by serving Government leaders. Most Jesus-followers I know have serious difficulty in separating their personal political views from their ultimate politics - the Kingdom of God. Over the centuries several pastor-scholars have sought to distinguish between the two realms, from St. Augustine's "The City of God" to Herman Dooyeweerd's Sphere Sovereignty. At times the Church has conflated one earthly reign or other with God's reign; and at other times, at least for a few portions of Christ's Church, the two reigns have been so divided that there has been almost no interface. All of this leaves Christians wondering how they can minister, as disciples of Jesus taking the Gospel of Jesus into the world for Jesus, to civil leaders. "Rulers: Gospel and Government" edited by Charles Garriott, one-time pastor of Heritage Presbyterian Church in Edmond Oklahoma and now Director of Ministry to State in Washington D.C., speaks just to this issue. Garriott has pulled together eight people to write a short, 143 page hardback that speaks to the "How-to" of bringing the Gospel of the Lord Jesus to governmental leaders.

"Rulers" is not an intensely theological work, though there is good theology in it. It is not a deeply theoretical book, though there is clearly some sound and worked-out theory between the covers. Most of the chapters are personal stories that describe how different pastors took steps to minister to legislators, senators, governors, and staffers at the State, Federal and International levels. The writers include: Steve Bostrom, pastor-at-large in Helena Montana; Charles Garriott, mentioned above; Bobby Griffith Associate Pastor of City Presbyterian Church in Oklahoma City; Dr. David Clyde Jones, Professor emeritus of Systematic Theology and Ethics at Covenant Theological Seminary; Glenn Parkinson, Pastor of Severna Park Presbyterian Church in Severna Park Maryland; Steven Preston, one time administrator of the Small Business Administration and then Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, both under the Bush Administration; Dr. Harry Reeder, Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham Alabama; and Dr. Rodney Wood who has led the Louisiana Legislators' Bible Study/Prayer Breakfast since 2000.

"Rulers" is an easy-to-digest book that will bring the Christian reader to appreciate the difficulties that civil servants and elected officials bear, as well as the importance of ministering to them. This book will also give one a better appreciation for the mission, the aim and the goal that informs and direct's "Ministry to State". This would be a good book to find on a congregation's book table, and a valuable "must-read" for anyone wanting to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the compassion of Christ to or Governmental leaders. I recommend the book.

{For more on the "Ministry to State" and how you can get involved, you can go to this link:}

[Feel free to publish or re-post this review; and as always, please give credit where credit is due. Mike]
View all my reviews

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Congregational Prayer: 28 September 2014 PM

[If you find this set of prayers useful, or a portion beneficial, please use them. You have my full permission. Mike]
We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near. We recount your wondrous deeds. At the set time that you appoint you will judge with equity. Even when the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is you who keep steady its pillars. Truly it is not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness that there comes lifting up, but it is you, our God, who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another (Psalm 75.1-3, 6-7). Glory to you, O Lord God, the most high!

Lord Jesus, who took the woman that had the disabling spirit for 18 years, and set her free at your word, “Woman, you are freed from your disability;” who liberated that daughter of Abraham whom Satan had bound for eighteen years, loosening her from bondage on that Sabbath day (Luke 13.11-16); grant the same for those for whom we pray – those facing surgery; those dealing with the fearsome fright of cancer; those earnestly ailing and aching; those depressed and dark; those bound and debilitated. And please comfort and care for those who lost loved ones in Moore this past week. O Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord our God, when violence momentarily erupts in our businesses and schools it startles and frightens us; it angers and worries us. But it also reminds us how little violence there really is in this country. Thank you for the comparative safety and wellbeing we experience in this land. May this safety and well-being continue here for us, for our children and grandchildren for generations to come. And Lord God, reflecting on what you told your servant Isaiah, please forgive us for calling “conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy,” for fearing and dreading what they fear. It is you, O LORD of hosts that we are to honor as holy. It is you who are to be our fear, you who are to be your dread (Isaiah 8.12-13). O Lord, hear our prayer.

Caring Father, compassionate God, we still need more rain here in Oklahoma, in West Texas, and all the way out to California. Oh God, redirect jet streams and weather patterns that our lands, crops, cattle, springs and aquifers may be replenished. O Lord, hear our prayer.

Mighty God, look on the international landscape; we pray on behalf of weeping mothers, suddenly-orphaned children, grieving fathers, and swiftly widowed men and women in war-ravaged lands! Dear God, have mercy and grant peace in our time, and may justice and righteousness prevail in all places. Relieve the suffering and the hunger seething in drought-stricken and famine-afflicted regions, as well as those being ravaged by pestilence. And open the doors that we may somehow be part of your cure.  O Lord, hear our prayer.

We beseech you on behalf of your church throughout the world, as well as Fortieth Street Baptist Church; Friendship Baptist Church; Garden Addition Baptist; God’s Chosen People Baptist; Good Shepherd Missionary Baptist Church: along with our Reformed University Fellowships at OSU; RUF at OU; RUF at Univ. Tulsa; “Give us life, and we will call upon your name! Restore us, O LORD God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved” (Psalm 80.18b-19)! O Lord, hear our prayer.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

"For the Glory of God" by Daniel I. Block, a Review

For the Glory of God: Recovering a Biblical Theology of Worship
Daniel I. Block
Baker Academic
Baker Publishing Group
6030 East Fulton Road
Ada, MI 49301
Hardback – ISBN: 9780801026980; e-book – ISBN: 9781441245632; August 2014; $34.99
Reviewed by Rev. Dr. Michael Philliber.

4 Stars out of 5
Measured Examination

In numerous aspects, the subject of “Worship” is tired and tuckered out. The “Worship Wars” have ground on for decades with no real resolution. Simultaneously, the Christian music industry continues to shape what is, and isn’t, sung in churches via Christian Radio and chart-topping hits. Also many popular and prosperous churches have moved to a Burger King - “Have it your way” – approach to Christian worship, as evidenced by everything from voluntary communion to multiple “worship services” conducted concurrently in the same building, each catering to niche populations. It seems that the whole subject of worship is no longer worth wrestling with, nor merits thinking over. Nevertheless, Daniel I. Block, Gunther H. Knoedler Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, and author of several books, essays and commentaries,  has chosen to address the subject of worship in his new 432 page hardback, “For the Glory of God: Recovering a Biblical Theology of Worship”. Block presents a scholarly work, inviting Evangelicals, Independents and Protestants of every stripe, to recover the importance of worship, and summoning them to journey with him through its “whys” and “ways”. In many respects, this is an irenic work that warrants some engaged thought by church leaders, as well as church members.

In “For the Glory of God,” the author lays many of his cards out on the table right up front. To begin with, Block approvingly rehearses Edith Humphry’s five maladies that plague worship in the North American Church: (1) Trivializing worship; (2) Misdirecting worship; (3) Deadening worship; (4) Perverting worship; and (5) Exploiting worship (11). Next, he states the two foundational principles of the book; First, true worship is about the glory of God, rather than human pleasure; and second, the Scriptures guide us in how to worship God (25). Block then brings out the legitimacy of looking at the Old Testament – what he calls the “First Testament” – with regard to this subject, “Although most assume that unless the New Testament reiterates notions found in the First Testament the latter are obsolete, we should probably assume the opposite: unless the New Testament expressly declares First Testament notions obsolete, they continue” (25-6). Finally, the author crafts a working definition of God-honoring, Biblical worship: “True worship involves reverential human acts of submission and homage before the divine Sovereign in response to his gracious revelation of himself in accord with his will” (39). This chapter helps the reader to see that there are no hidden agendas in what follows, but that the author is fairly and forthrightly upfront.

Block then goes on to tackle a host of matters in “For the Glory of God”. Each chapter follows a basic pattern of looking first at the Old Testament, moving to the New Testament, and then coming around to how it all helps the reader to think about the facet of worship he has just covered. The author hikes through various topographies, examining the terrain, flora, fauna and the wildlife, while diligently keeping to the trail. The several landscapes include the object and subject of worship; daily life, family life and work as worship; the many ordinances and rudiments of worship to include hearing and reading Scripture, prayer, music, sacrifice, the liturgical calendar, design of sacred space, and role of leadership in worship. The reader will quickly recognize that much of the discussion and observation is relatively technical, with transliterated Hebrew and Greek words on most every page. Though at first glance this looks daunting, once one gets used to the rhythm, the rhyme and the reasoning, it becomes easier to decipher and decode what Block is saying and doing.

“For the Glory of God” comes to endings and inferences that might not always be appreciated. To mention a few instances: Block’s analysis of the seventh-day-of-the-week Sabbath, rather than a first-day-of-the-week Christian Sabbath leaves one wondering if he thinks the seventh-day Sabbath is still the divine norm. Similarly, the way the author comes at the subject of a worshipper vocalizing love for God will likely unsettle many. Likewise, his acceptance of some form of credo-baptism will close the book for a few, and the fact that he doesn’t attack those who hold to paedo-baptism will possibly disappoint others. But whatever decision the author makes with regard to a specific topic, and he always comes down on one side or the other, he is careful to be gracious and generous in announcing those conclusions. It is an irenic work.

“For the Glory of God” makes several important observations. For example, the way the author presents the Old Testament as still the authoritative Word of God for us today – that it all applies except where specifically changed by the New Testament – is refreshing. I have been saying this for years, and was tickled pink to find a scholar of Block’s caliber saying the same thing. And the author makes good on this framework by applying it to each issue, walking the reader through the delicate dance of Old Testament as normative and New Testament as interpreting the Old through the finished work of Jesus Christ. Another of the author’s valuable insights comes in regard to the Ten Words of God, how the Gospel of Redemption is its ground and foundation. Block rightly detects that the Ten Commandments do not begin with the first, but with the prologue; “Contrary to popular visual reproductions of the Decalogue, this document does not begin with a command ( . . . ) but with the gospel. ( . . . ) This glorious gospel sets the stage for the stipulations that follow” (90).  There are other sound, solid and, for some folks, shocking observations. But they are all manifestly examined and documented.

To claim that “For the Glory of God” is an irenic work does not mean the author is afraid to make bold statements, or that he shies away from strong verdicts. If he sees that something is amiss in the North American Church, with regard to worship, he calls it out. With regard to casualness in worship Block clearly states, “Right of access may not be taken for granted or claimed as an entitlement; the invitation to worship is neither universal nor unconditional. ( . . . ) having experienced the grace of Christ in salvation does not mean that we may be casual about worship or that our cultic expressions of worship are automatically acceptable to God” (84). And with respect to the way leaders mishandle the Old Testament, he challenges his readers, “Fourth, evangelicals must be cured of their schizophrenic disposition toward biblical regulations concerning sacrifices and offerings. On the one hand, our leaders constantly declare that First Testament cultic laws no longer apply, but on the other, they cajole and pressure God’s people to tithe” (251). There are other instances where the author will be very candid and direct as he applies what has been gleaned from Holy Scripture. But it will always be with a measured, gracious tone.

“For the Glory of God” may strike a reader as pedestrian at times, but while the book unfolds, it slowly becomes obvious this is the author’s irenic style. Whether you agree with most, all, or few of Block’s conclusions, reading this book will bring you to think more clearly about why your church worships the way it does or doesn’t. It is an ideal book for pastors, worship leaders, elders, worship teams and committees. And it model manuscript for laymen who are coming to the realization that there just has to be more substance and basis for our worship of God than personal impulses and pleasures. I recommend the book.

Many thanks go to Baker and Net Galley for the free, temporary loan of the electronic copy of this book used in this review.

[Feel free to publish or post this review; and as always, please give credit where credit is due. Mike]