Book Review: The Nursery of the Holy Spirit by Daniel Hyde

The Nursery of the Holy Spirit: Welcoming Children in WorshipThe Nursery of the Holy Spirit: Welcoming Children in Worship by Daniel R. Hyde

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a great little book on including our children in public worship! Pastor Hyde does a great job laying out the Biblical and practical reasons for putting our little ones on our laps or beside us on Sunday morning. He does so with cheerfulness and without being too harsh. He does not make this a hill to die on, as some in the family integrated church movement do. But he does clearly indicate its value. Along the way he carefully articulates the place of children in the covenant. Also it has a great bibliography, which us book lovers always like.

The only problem? The book costs too much. It is only 60 pages long and retails at $15.99 with used copies going for $8.00 plus shipping. Someone needs to take this book, fix a few typos, and bring the price down to about $5-8. If they did I would buy some for every family at my church.

I highly recommend this book for all pastors, elders, worship leaders and all those interested in children and their place in the church.

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Our Children Need Public Worship

I know a few good pastors out in California, including Pastor Dan Hyde. Every book I have read by him has been profitable. Right now I am reading his short book  on children in worship, The Nursery of the Holy Spirit.  Here is a great paragraph explaining why our children need to be in worship with us. All punctuation is his except brackets and I have removed footnotes.

With a renewal in biblical doctrine in many evangelical circles today, for example, among “New Calvinism,” it is a great time to reevaluate our practice [of excluding children from worship] and to ask how we can become more “children-friendly” as churches in the area of worship. This is also a great time to do this given the content [context?] in which we live, as our children are being assaulted in their faith more than ever before. Even before many children are born they are assaulted by “Pro-Choice.” Our culture is more and more seeking to allure children into a worldview of hedonism, materialism, and narcissism. The church, therefore, needs to be a refuge for children from the earliest age. One practical expression of this is  in welcoming our children to join us before the throne of God’s grace in worship, giving them a meaningful place in the church. As the church education professor, John Westerhoff III, has shown, the biblical example of three generations in the church’s worship results in interaction and sharing among generations as well as a sense of experiencing the whole community of faith. The children of believers, therefore, are children of the church and belong in the Holy Spirit’s most child-friendly nursery-public worship.

We Are All Freaks

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The sooner conservative Christians recognize how they are viewed by most of American culture the sooner we will be able to effectively  work and fight within that culture. Many Christians want people to like them. We want to be seen as upstanding citizens and good moral people. We believe we are a respectable lot that deserves to be tolerated. We want to be thought of as a little different, but not too different. We want people to like our children. We want to fit in.

But the reality is far different from this utopia we imagine in our heads. If you hold to a few basic tenets of Christian ethics, such as sex is for one man and one woman within marriage,  homosexual practice, unless repented of and turned from, will send you to Hell, wives are to submit to their husbands, children are a blessing from the Lord, and Jesus is Lord of all, including the bedroom and the White House, you are a freak, an outcast. Imagine going around wearing a sign, “Transgenders, unless they repent, will burn.” Now I know we would not say it like that. We would qualify it in various ways. But the world will not usually hear our qualifications. The world hears, “You hate us and want us to burn in Hell. You are a threat to our happiness, you intolerant bastard.”

At first I considered comparing us to the Amish, an odd group whom others look at with apathetic curiosity. “Oh look, there is one of those funny carriages.” But conservative Christians are not looked at like this. We are not viewed as odd, but harmless. We are a threat. Our views are not just old and outdated. Our views undermine the freedom of the individual to pursue their own happiness. No we are not like the Amish. Not all will see us this way of course, but many will, especially those among the elite, such as the movie industry, music, journalists, the media, and universities.

We are citizens of another kingdom. We are soldiers fighting the principalities and powers that rule this world. We are hear to declare freedom to captives. We are loyal to Christ and His Word above all else.  We believe that right and wrong is determined by Scripture, not by what we feel in hearts.  All of this sounds innocent. But the details tell a different story. We do not operate with the same values as the world around us. We have different basic principles and different goals. Our lives, even if we live them quietly, tell the world they are wrong. While we know we are for the world, the world increasingly views us as a grave threat.  The world views us as dangerous freaks. The sooner we understand this the better. How then shall we live?

First, don’t fear. There is nothing of lasting consequence that the world can do to us. It can take our money, jobs, reputation, and life, but it cannot take Jesus. And if we have Jesus we have everything.

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6

Second, guard your heart against the love of the world and the desire to be loved by the world. I am convinced that in the coming years most Christians will not leave the faith because of theological problems or because of being hurt by someone in the church. They will leave because they love their reputation more than they love Jesus. They will turn their backs on Christ rather than be made of fun of and laughed at by the world.

Third, we shouldn’t whine about how the world treats us.  Christians are terrible at developing a martyr complex. We walk around grumbling and complaining about what was said about us on that blog or in that newspaper. Friends reject us for our views and we pout. It looks bad. Christ said rejoice when we are persecuted for our faith. Don’t walk around feeling sorry for yourself when the world hates you.

Finally, our worship and our homes should be overflowing with joy.  We are children of the King. Our inheritance is sure. When we are reviled by the world that means we are being counted with the prophets and men like Paul. In contrast to the world, where joy is slowly eroding, let us rejoice and be glad.

Each generation of Christians must fight the battle the Lord gives them in that age. We don’t get to pick and choose. Part of the good fight in our age is the willingness to be thought of weird, out of step, odd, outdated, freaks, and threats in order to follow after Christ.

The Dangers of Liturgical Hypocrisy

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The Prophet Jeremiah

I love our liturgy and worship service. We sing the Psalms. We kneel to confess our sins. We read several portions of Scripture. We eat at the Lord’s table every week. We bring our tithes and offerings to the front while we sing. We sit under God’s Word. Perhaps nothing has changed more in the last ten years of my life than my approach to worship.

But men and women love to hide in a liturgy They love to have rituals that say, “I am holy” without actually striving for holiness. It works like this. We go the Lord’s house every week. We hear his word preached. We sing and pray with his people. We eat at his table. We fellowship with his people. But our lives do not change.We do not amend our ways. Sin is not put to death. Righteousness is not growing in homes and hearts. The liturgy becomes a way of pretending, a way of hiding from God, instead of a way of drawing near to Him and becoming more like Christ.  Worship, not matter how high, beautiful, or Biblical, becomes a sham. The prophet Jeremiah spoke to this problem in Jeremiah 7:1-11

The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Stand in the gate of the LORD’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all you men of Judah who enter these gates to worship the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place. Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’ “For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another, if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever. “Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’—only to go on doing all these abominations? Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the LORD.

Israel thought that the temple, the sacrifices, the priesthood, and her worship were enough. She thought that she could come to the feasts, worship at the temple, and still live in sin. She praised God. She sang the Psalms. She talked about the priesthood. But she did not “amend her ways.” So it was in Jeremiah’s day so it is in our day. Continue reading

R.L. Dabney on Public Prayer

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Here are six points from R.L. Dabney on public prayer. They come from the final chapter of his excellent book Evangelical Eloquence, which is a book on how to preach. They are good reminders for any pastors or elders who pray publicly.

1. The grace of prayer is to be secured only by a life of personal and private devotion. He who carries a cold heart into the pulpit betrays it not only to God, whose detection of it is inevitable, but almost surely to the hearers also.

2. The pastor should remember that he is praying on behalf of the people, therefore his language should be simple, his petitions corporate, not private and he should make sure he is praying, not preaching. 

3. The leader of the church’s prayers shall present distinct and definite petitions, and these not too numerous….The leader of prayer should therefore speak as one who has an errand at the throne, a point to press to God.

4. He who leads the devotions of others must study appropriateness of matter.  He should ask himself what would be uppermost in the hearts of Christians at that time.

5. The language of prayer should be well-ordered and considerate. He who speaks to the Searcher of hearts should beware how he indulges any exaggeration of words, lest his tongue should be found to have outrun his mind and to have “offered the sacrifice of fools.”

6. Above all should the minister enrich his prayers with the language of Scripture. Its inimitable beauty and simplicity, it is hallowed and sweet to every pious heart by a thousand associations.  It satisfies the tastes of all; its use effectually protects us against improprieties; it was doubtless given by the Holy Spirit to be a model for our devotions.