Sunday, April 22, 2007

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Relationship Between Music and Worship

Worship is much more than singing. So often we associate music with worship, and, therefore, if we don't sing, or if we don't connect with God through music like some people do, we feel a little inferior. Are we missing something? My hope for this Sunday evening is that we leave understanding a little more about what worship truly is.

Saying all I read this post about singing. I agree with the author that there is something about a community gathering to sing praises and adoration to God, our Creator and Father, and to Jesus, our Savior and King. It's a good read.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Church & Culture Pt. 5

"How is Christianity to be distinctive in a culture where everyone assumes themselves to be Christian?"

This is a very important question for us. I wasn't faced with this question near as much in the bay area as I have been here. I'm discovering that even in our neighborhood, this question has to be asked.

The following are excerpts from a post I read this morning that deals with this question.

This was the context in which I grew up. To put it charitably, most folks in my home town thought of themselves as Christians. Some evidently were by their profession and their lives. Some, no doubt, were not. But, most people didn't condemn themselves or think so poorly of themselves to self-identify as "practical atheist" or "unbeliever." Even the poolhall hustlers and the alcoholics claimed they knew God, "always said their prayers," and the "God knows their heart."

Many assumed the label "Christian" because they were certainly not practitioners of any other religion. They were not, for example, muslims. In fact, until I returned home during my sophomore year in college as a professing muslim, very few people had ever seen a muslim. No, everyone at least believed in some way, and that made most everyone "Christian" since that was either a family or community legacy bequeathed to all. Nominalism.

The more I think about the situation, the clearer it is to me that in trying to reflect genuine Christian distinctiveness in a nominal Christian culture definitions are critical. The root problem might be described as a failure to define "Christian" and Christianity in terms that bring into sharper contrast regenerate and unregenerate life, in terms that stress spiritual conversion, faith, grace, love and hope over and against moralism, patriotism, and spiritual relativism.

Insights on Worship

Greg Laurie writes on worship in today's Harvest Devotional:

A number of words in the Bible are translated "worship." The one used the most often means "to bow down and do homage." Another biblical word for worship means "to kiss toward." Put the two words together, and you will have a good idea of what real worship is. We worship God because He is worthy. In doing so, we bow down and pay homage to Him. That speaks of reverence and respect for God. But we also "kiss toward" Him, which speaks of tenderness and intimacy.


I have been studying on the topic of worship for this Sunday evening. This morning Mandy came into my office and told me that I needed to see what Adam was doing. As I walked into the kitchen I heard our Hillsong United CD playing. Adam, dressed in only a diaper, was walking around his room waving a Memphis Grizzlies Flag. It reminded me of the story of David dancing before the Lord (2 Samuel 6). What a great picture of worship!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Things Break

By Tobin Marsh

This side of the resurrection
In the brokenness, defeat and sorrow
Is where lie all the deep lessons of my life.

Nothing wants to be broken,
And yet everything must be broken.
To never break is to lie stagnant and eventually die.

Things break.

I break now and again.
Picking up the pieces can be an act
Of profound faith.

Source: Servant Stories

Church & Culture Pt. 4

I'm learning more and more about the church's role in shaping culture. Mark Batterson, a pastor in Washington, DC, has a good post on this subject. He gives four ways that the church engages culture.

  1. Ignore it
    The more we ignore culture the more irrelevant we’ll become. And if the church ignores the culture, the culture will ignore the church.
  2. Imitate it
    We can imitate culture, but imitation is a form of suicide. Originality is sacrificed on the altar of cultural conformity. If we don’t shape the culture, the culture will shape us.
  3. Condemn it
    We’ve got to stop pointing the finger and start offering better alternatives. If the church condemns the culture, the culture will condemn the church.
  4. Create it
    We can compete for culture by creating culture. In the immortal words of the Italian artist and poet, Michelangelo: criticize by creating. At the end of the day, the culture will treat the church the way the church treats the culture.

We've all seen these first three ways of engagement, and have come away wanting something more, something different. You can read his entire post here.

Jim Collins on the Best Advice He Ever Received

I read this article last week, and have been thinking about it ever since. Jim Collins, author of Built to Last and Good to Great, shares about a conversation he had with Peter Drucker shortly after Built to Last came out. Here are a couple of excerpts from the article:

“The huge thing he said to me was, ‘Do you want to build ideas to last, or do you want to build an organization to last?’

“I said I wanted to build ideas to last.

“He said, ‘Then you must not build an organization.’

“His point was, the moment you have an organization, you have a beast to feed–this army of people. If you ever start developing ideas to feed the beast rather than having ideas that the beast feeds, your influence will go down, even if your commercial success goes up. Because there’s a huge difference between teaching an idea and selling an idea. In the end, what are you in a battle for? You’re battling to influence the thinking of powerful, discerning people. If you ever abuse that trust, you can lose them. So the moment that arrow changes direction, you’re dead.

“He said something else important: ‘The real discipline comes in saying no to the wrong opportunities.’ Growth is easy. Saying no is hard.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Alcohol & the Bible

Last night our church had a great discussion on what the Bible has to say about alcohol. For those of you who want to read more, I'm posting links to some of the papers and articles I've read over the past few weeks.

Alcohol, Abstention & Redemption

Alcohol, Acts 29, & the SBC

Beer and the Bible

Christianity & Alcohol (wikipedia)

Christians & Alcohol - Four Myths (pdf link)

Good Wine and Glad Hearts

Link to Southern Seminary's audio on this (along with some commentary)

SBC Resolution on Alcohol

The Bible and Intoxicating Beverages

Wine in the Bible

What Does the Bible Say about Alcohol - A Systematic Study

New friends

This weekend we got to spend a little time with Lindsay's church planting friends from Vancouver, Kyle and Anna Martin. Here's a link to the new church they've started.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Easter Egg Hunt

Our first annual Easter Egg Hunt turned out to be a success, despite having to move it to our house because of the cold weather. We had around 30 people, including some new neighbors who we had not met yet. We had the actual hunt outside, but everything else was inside. We had games, food, lots of eggs, and even a surprise visit from the Easter Bunny!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Not a Chance Event

By John Howard Yoder

The cross of Christ was not an inexplicable or chance event, which happened to strike him, like illness or accident. To accept the cross as his destiny, to move toward it and even to provoke it, when he could well have done otherwise, was Jesus' constantly reiterated free choice; and he warns his disciples lest their embarking on the same path be less conscious of its costs.

Source: The Politics of Jesus

Monday, April 02, 2007

More on Global Warming

Here are some recent links on the issue of the church's role in global warming...

Jerry Falwell's sermon, "The Myth of Global Warming"

James Dobson calls for Richard Cizik to resign as vice-president of the National Association of Evangelicals

I read this and shudder. There's a part of me that just wants to ignore these guys and hope they go away. On the other hand, though, I do believe that this is an issue that the church needs to be informed on.

If you're interested, you can read an earlier post on Cizik from a Fast Company article.