When John Raised the Bar

I’m amazed by John Wesley.

But not for the normal things.  Not for his character, commitment to Christ, preaching ability, or anything like that.  I’m amazed that he wrote down what he expected his congregation to sound like.

Back in the day (late 18th century England), you only probably had a few books in your house.  Unless you were rich.  Most of those books stayed in your house.  Because of the cost of printing, books were priceless and even regarded as heirlooms.

Only 2 books ever left your house: your family Bible and a family hymnal (if you were lucky enough to own one).  They only left on Sunday.  They were precious to you.  In the front of your Bible was a family list or a rough genealogy.  If you belonged to one of Wesley’s churches, you’d find another list inside front cover of your hymnal – a list of directives.

These weren’t optional.

These weren’t a suggestion.

This is how John Wesley saw worship.


Imagine what it would be like to worship in Wesley’s church.  Give this some thought.  I mean, how gutsy is this?  Because you and I live in an era of passing worship fads, we might be tempted to believe that Wesley is slightly out of date.  But I’m not so sure.

A few questions:

  1. Do any of the above points rub you wrong?  Care to share why?
  2. Do any illicit an inaudible “amen” from you?  Why?
  3. Would you add anything?

Mr. Wesley, I’m sending a high-five your way.  Thanks for raising the bar, brother.


A Dusty Book. An Awesome Text.

Dusty books rock.

A few weeks ago, I found myself with an extra hour in my brother’s shared office. Because he’s a literature grad student, his office is full of awesome books.

My eyes fell on a book called “The History and Use of Hymns.” Published in 1903. Perfect! The next thing I knew, I was neck deep in nerd-land.

Happy to be so.

Among the treasures I found was the following hymn by William Cowper, whom I’ve blogged about before. I’m not sure of the story behind this little beauty, but I thought I’d pass it on nonetheless.

A Debtor to Mercy Alone

Love, love, love the lyric.

If you’re a song-writer, let’s find a melody for this. (I’ve got mine, but I’m curious to see what else is out there…)