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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Thoughts on Prayer and Social Media…

Many times I have asked for prayer, some for others in need, illnesses, sometimes personal or family issues and I am always so grateful for the many that chose to join me.  Many requests come through Social Media and I join in praying for many of these.  

Recently, I have been thinking about prayer and why do I ask for others to join me? Would God, Creator of the Universe and the King of kings and Lord of lords not hear the pleas of just one of His children? Of course He does! As we pray in faith and in line with His will, God promises to hear. When we share these requests with others; we desire other to share this burden or ours, — sometimes we need clarity, we feel weak, helpless, or facing overwhelming issues and we cry out for others to come along side, to pray with us.  

Sometimes, we are not clear what direction to take, or what God’s will is. We want God’s will, and we want God to address our need. To be sure, God will address our need, our request: Sometimes it is yes, sometimes it is no, and sometimes it is to wait.  

As we ask other to join us, it is not to try to convince an unwilling God to do what we want.  God is not waiting until we have a great numbers of “Likes” and “Emojis” before He will act.  When we join together in prayer, we are joining together in seeking the will of a Loving Father, aligning our wills and desires to His.  Our pleas are not an attempt to amass so many prayer warriors so that “God will” do what we ask. In asking others to join, we are presenting our needs, but at the same time aligning our will to His will. Remember Jesus’ prayer in the garden: “Let this cup pass, but not my will, but Yours be done.”  

Nothing we have done makes us worthy of our Holy God to answer; He does so out of His love, mercy, and grace– Who He is.  We come to Him in faith, depending on His nature and character. [For some, asking others to join us might be motivated from a lack of faith, and inviting others could be for “helping us in our unbelief,” as the father pleaded with Jesus when the disciples could not heal his son.] Our faith is only as strong as the object of our faith: if our faith if based on how we feel, then our faith ultimately resides in us. 

However, if the object of our faith is based in the nature and character of God, then we are trusting in the only One that can make a difference. We must always remember, that [1] God is in control, [2] God loves us {think of the cross}, [3] God has a plan for our lives, and [4] we can trust God. 

These are just a few thoughts “to chew on” as we pray and as we ask others to join us. Much more could be said, I am only sharing a few.


Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Lamentations 3:19-24 Helpful thoughts

Traditionally Lamentations was written by Jeremiah not long after Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed Jerusalem, the Temple and carried most of the inhabitants into exile, leaving only the poorest there.  The book is comprised of 5 songs of grief and lament about the state of the land and its people, written in acrostic form using the letters of the Hebrew alphabet to begin each verse. Song 3 is the highpoint, where grief is mixed with the hope in God’s character.

Lamentations 3:19-24:

{ז Zayin}19 Remember my affliction and my homelessness, the wormwood and the poison. 20 I continually remember them and have become depressed. 21 Yet I call this to mind, and therefore I have hope: {ח Khet}22 Because of the LORD’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. 23 They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness! 24 I say: The Lord is my portion, I will put my hope in Him.

Helpful Thoughts

1. When we choose to focus on the bad, we will become bitter and depressed; we can choose to change our focus by asking ourselves “What is God’s truth in the situation?” [i.e. God is still in control, God loves me, God has a plan...]

2. Meditation on God’s nature and character reminds us of His faithful love, mercy, and compassion. God always is in control. 

3. We can never exhaust the supply of God’s love and faithfulness; they are new every morning!

4. In the midst of his difficult situation, Jeremiah wrote out his feelings; he did not try to hide them and then shared them back to God in prayer. This is a great model for us as well; name your feelings and share with the Father. He already knows, but naming them helps us to process and trust them to Him.

5. God uses the difficulties and hardships, even those that are a result of our own poor choices to train and shape us into what He desires. God does not waste our sorrows and tears.

6. God does not delight in the suffering of His children. He is not distant, but near us and in us by His Holy Spirit. His faithful love, mercy, and grace are always there. 

7. As we learn to “seek Him first,” we learn that “He is our portion” and all we need. Remember the Cross.

Monday, July 31, 2023

Worship Interest Survey


This fall Kathy & I will be teaching a doctoral seminar in which we will be investigating (by using a survey) what elements of worship are people consider essential to sense that they have worshipped. If you are willing to help me, please complete the survey within the next two weeks  The survey is anonymous. The first part is information about the survey and our research, and a link to the survey follows.  If you have any questions, please let me know. Below is some information and FAQs to answer questions you might have. Thank you for your help!

Study title: Worship Interest Survey

Researchers: Drs. Ed & Kathy Steele, NOBTS DMA Seminar Participants

We’re inviting you to participate in a research study. Participation is completely voluntary. If you agree to participate now, you can change your mind later. There are no negative consequences, whatever you decide.

What is the purpose of this study? We are seeking to understand what elements of worship contribute most to your sense of having worshipped during a worship service.

What will I do?  The survey will take 10-20 minutes to complete. You will answer questions about yourself such as your age, and about the history and frequency of attendance to worship services during your childhood until now. You will be asked to rate various activities that might be included in a worship service to tell us how essential each activity is to you.

Risks Some questions may be personal or upsetting. If you find any of these questions upsetting, feel free to stop the survey.

Other Study Information
Possible benefits: You may become more aware of worship elements and how they impact you.
Estimated number of participants: 350
How long will it take? 10 to 20 minutes
Costs: None
Compensation: None
If I don’t want to be in this study, are there other options? You may simply choose to not complete or turn in the survey.
Future research: The survey does not collect any identifying information, and information identifying your church will be removed.

Data Security
What identifying information will be collected and why?  We will collect the name of your church, city and state, as well as the name of your denomination. This information will help the researchers to better understand the worship experience of the participants.
How long will my data be kept? The individual surveys will be kept electronically until the DMA seminar is completed (December 2023). Then only the compiled information will be retained.
How is data kept secure?   Data is anonymous. We’ll store all electronic data on a password-protected, encrypted computer. We’ll store all paper data only until it is transferred to a digital format.
Who might see my data and why? The researchers, and those involved in analyzation of the data. We plan to share our findings in publications or presentations. You will not be identified by name, nor will your church be identified by name.

For questions about the research, problems, or related issues: 
Dr. Ed Steele: Dr. Kathy Steele: 


If you want to participate in this study, you may now follow the link below to complete the survey. By completing the survey, you consent to participate in this research. Remember, your participation is completely voluntary, and you’re free to withdraw from the study at any time.

Worship Interest Survey            

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Did We Really Let That Fall Through the Cracks?

Worship leadership has a lot to do: planning and rehearsal the sets, working with the tech crew, working with the Pastor and others on the pastoral staff, not to mention, family, and one’s personal spiritual life. Criticisms abound and it seems like we just can’t add any more plates to keep spinning. Got that. Sometimes we really do need to stop and make sure we’re not just keeping the machine running, but that we are following biblical instructions. [Cue the picture of the Daddy madly assembling a Christmas toy 11:00 pm before Christmas morning and too busy to look at the instruction sheet.]

One thing that seems to fall through the cracks in the midst of our work can be found in Paul’s letter to the Colossians: 

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” [Col. 3:16]

You will remember that Paul generally starts his letters with theological concerns and then transitions to practical applications in the latter part. Chapter 3 seems to begin this latter part with some specific instructions that are for all believers. Perhaps because it was directed to all believers, worship leaders might not have had the focus that the passage deserves.  Here is a quick summary:

The what: that God’s Word become central to all we are and do.
The where: in us, in our minds and hearts 
The how: as we teach [as we give instruction by word and deed] and admonish [giving warning and encouragement to remain in what the Word teaches]
The how of that: with all wisdom, that is, seeing and living from God’s viewpoint.
[how] as we sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs
[how] with gratitude in our hearts
[to whom] to God. 
When: implied all the time, whenever we sing.

I would encourage everyone to study Paul letter and especially chapter 3; however, this will not be an in depth study. Let this serve more as a broad review. Much has been written about the “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs,” so rather than try to divide songs into categories, it is better to think of this as a grouping that encompasses all songs used in worship. 

[In practice, these weren’t strict categories, since the use of “hymns” sometimes was a psalm, as when Jesus sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives after the Lord’s Supper. Psalms from the Great Hallel were sung at that time during Passover and some scholars believe that Jesus sung Psalm 118; one of the verses is “this is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it,” which gives deeper meaning the supper since it preceded His death.]

The greater focus should be not the categories, but focusing all of what we sing in the teaching of God’s Word with wisdom.  Here are some ways that we can do that:

1. Review the text of the songs to be used in worship and write a brief summary of what is taught and how it is consistent with biblical truth. How can we do that? Keep reading.

2. Indicate what is being taught about God, what aspect of His nature and character is highlighted, examining if what is there is consistent with that teaching throughout Scripture. Indicate where the teaching fits in the overall teachings of Scripture: 
+Does it highlight God the Father, Jesus, and/or the Holy Spirit? 
+Is the focus on Scripture itself and the truth of Scripture as the Word of God? 
+Does it teach about the church as the Body of Christ, or what the Body of Christ is to do or how to live? 
+Is it directed to God or to the Body of Christ? 
+Is it more of a personal testimony? 
+Are the texts commands to praise directed to the congregation, or praise directed toward God? 
It is important that we can actually view the various categories by song. [Some songs may cover more than one category, then, the would fit in both. Dr. Constance Cherry’s The Music Architect, has an excellent chart in helping assessing the canon of song you are using in your church.]

3. Review what you have written down. Analyzing what categories are given the most emphasis helps us see not only what we are teaching, but what we are not. Obviously, we cannot cover every area in every service, but over time we should be covering the others as we strive to relate the songs to the Word being preached.  Praising God for who He is and what He has done is important and should be a part of every worship service. At the same time, we cannot neglect teaching the whole of the Word of Christ.  At the very least, we should be doing the review everyone month. Many pastors have an evaluation time with staff to see how things are going; having the review ready for these meetings will show not only what has been done, but that there is specific intention in the worship planning to be comprehensive. 

I pray that we all would become more aware and intentional about putting the Word of Christ in the hearts and minds of the congregation in all we sing!

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Please join me in prayer for the upcoming meeting of the SBC in New Orleans:

Father, we thank You and praise You for Who You are
and for the gracious gift of a relationship with You through Christ Jesus, Your Son.
We pray Jesus’ prayer that we would be “one as He and the Father” are one;
We pray that our agenda would be repentance, brokenness, and weeping for our sins;
We pray that we would not shred the body of Christ in the name of being right while seeking to build power and recognition for ourselves;
We pray that we do would not fight over being “reformed” or not but that we would cry out to be transformed by the renewing of our minds in You and Your Word;
We pray that we would be more concerned about Your glory than “my rights;”
We pray that our tongues would be filled with Your praise and sharing Who You are;
We pray that the world would see Your love so expressed to each other that it would draw them to Your Son;
We pray that You would grant us the boldness to continue to carry Your gospel to the whole world,
for Your glory and Your Honor
In Jesus’ Name

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