Prophets of Wine and Beer

My Dad has started blogging! He’s been writing some commentary on the Heidelburg Catechism at a blog which he co-authors with some of his church members at New Covenant Presbyterian in McComb, MS.

His post today notes the language used by Micah about prophets of wine and beer. Dad ends with

May God save us from the Prophets of Wine and Beer and from a mindset that is satisfied with anything other than God’s truth as given in Scripture!

What DeYoung means by Reformed

Yesterday, Kevin DeYoung wrote a blog entry on what he means by Reformed, in the Protestant Christian context. He listed a number of statements, and they are all positive and God-focused, so it really hit me about expressing our hope.

Here are a few:

  • I marvel at God’s holiness, that he is independent, pure, good, and utterly beyond me.
  • I glory in God’s goodness, that he should save a wretch like me, totally undeserving, bent toward evil in all my faculties.

  • I rejoice in God’s sovereignty, that he chose to save me for the praise of his glory, not owing to anything I did or would do or any potential in me.

DeYoung is one of the authors of Young, Restless, and Reformed, which is a pretty good book. I read it recently.

Visualizing BIblcal References

Chris Harrison has a fantastic graph, visualizing Biblical references.

Biblical arc

The bar graph that runs along the bottom represents all of the chapters in the Bible. Books alternate in color between white and light gray. The length of each bar denotes the number of verses in the chapter. Each of the 63,779 cross references found in the Bible is depicted by a single arc – the color corresponds to the distance between the two chapters, creating a rainbow-like effect.

John Frame on Single-Issue Voting

Josh Harris quotes John Frame about single-issue voting.

This is not to say that political choices are always obvious. Often we must choose the lesser of two evils. Candidate Mershon may have a better view of one issue than Candidate Beates, while Beates has a better view on a different issue. It is an art to weigh the importance of different issues and to come to a godly conclusion. Each of us should have a large amount of tolerance for other Christians who come to conclusions that are different from ours. Rarely will one issue trump all others, though I must say that I will never vote for a candidate who advocates or facilitates the killing of unborn children.”-John Frame, The Doctrine of the Christian Life (P&R 2008). p. 617.

I haven’t read that Frame book, but I really like how he views the question.

Death of Congregational Singing

Michael Raiter wrote a great article back in April about congregational singing in the church.

It’s time for congregations to sensitively but firmly rise up and reclaim congregational singing. We must remind song leaders (or, perhaps, teach them in the first place) the purpose of their ministry. Putting a microphone in the hands of someone who can sing no more makes her a song leader than, as the old proverb goes, sticking someone in a garage makes him a car. All the microphone does is make someone a very loud singer. The ministry of the song leader is, surely, to guide and lead the people of God in singing. The role of the song leader is to help us to sing, and they will know if they have fulfilled that ministry when they can hardly be heard because of the praises of the congregation filling the room.

The whole thing is really very well written, and covers a lot of points. One of his concluding paragraphs, though, which I quote above really hit home. I’ve been in churches where the worship singing had been turned into a concert performance by the band. Where it didn’t matter if the congregation was singing or not, since all the hardware was on stage to ensure that the singers could hear themselves. And then they’d all jump into the chorus of This is the worship song that never ends…it goes on and on my, friend…we’ll sing this line again and again…

And that’s not good.

I followed the link from Michael Spender to find that article. Michael is even more pointed:

In its place we have a lot of songs that a lot of people don’t know, a lot of bad and unknown tunes, a lot of watching the worship team perform (especially if they are female of the right type and dress), a lot of forgettable, narcissistic lyrics, a lot of bad and inexperienced worship leaders, a lot of bone-headed thinking about congregational singing in relation to church growth, a lot of imitation of churches and methods that most congregations can’t imitate, a lot of lay people who simply don’t know how to sing at all, a lot of churches that don’t teach singing, a lot of turning congregations into audiences anyway and whatever else goes into the stew that does away with congregational singing.

I grew up with hymns. For the longest time, I thought praise choruses were only for when you went to summer camp, since you were in the woods and there was only a guitar. That was why you sang the same chorus 10 times over and over. That’s not to say those camp songs didn’t impact me. Even now, I hear some of them and I get chill bumps because it reminds me of times when God felt very near.

But heck, what if we just unplugged everything? Would our worship be worth less to our Lord? Would the rocks cry out if we were not in tune or off the beat? Amazing Grace, a cappella anyone?

Make a joyful noise…

Joel Harris on Worship

Joel Harris writes a great article on worship, and constantly worshipping. I just want to quote so much of it…

However, if we search God’s Word faithfully and look to mature Christians who possess wise insight, we will quickly see that worship is much more than songs. Worship is what we were created for, it’s what we’ll spend eternity doing, and it encompasses our hearts as well as our actions.

It also matters what we sing. It’s been established that our ungodly culture has low expectations for young people. But when it comes to worship, even the Christian community has low expectations for us. Worship songs targeted for kids, tweens, teens and young adults, have dumbed down the lyrical content because they think we’re too dumb to understand anything harder.

Sadly, in far too many cases this assumption is correct. Young people who don’t study their Bibles faithfully, who don’t read hard books, and who can’t sit through “grown-up” sermons, probably can’t comprehend the profound truths found in timeless hymns like And Can It Be That I Should Gain, or Rock of Ages.

Perhaps someone would say he is over-generalizing, but in a general, megachurch way, he’s right from what I’ve seen. And not just because And Can It Be happens to be one of my favorite hymns.

He goes on to list some musical artists who are writing modern-day hymns and the like. I’ve heard of a a few, but I’ll have to check out the others.

New Pastor for Christ Church

With the hope of God’s blessing, my church, Christ Church of Pasadena, voted last week to extend a call to Chuck Ryor as our Senior Pastor. Chuck has accepted, and as we hope and pray that his call is approved by our Presbytery, he will be coming out to California this summer.

Chuck’s also got a blog, where
he posted about his family’s decision to move. I know how tough it is for a church to suddenly know their pastor won’t be with them much longer, so I do pray for Centerpoint. I’m pretty excited, too.

Revolutionary Christians and Church

Justin Taylor wrote a post last week about Christians who George Barna labeled Revolutionary Christians. Barna describes them as people who rarely attend church services. That’s just sad.

Taylor goes on to do a pretty darn good job of using Scripture to make the case that Christians are told to be part of the visible Body of Christ, to serve and to be served, in the church.

If Christ is the foundational cornerstone, then the church is his temple. If Christ is the savior, then the church is the saved. If Christ is the sanctifier, then the church is the sanctified. If Christ is the head, then we are his body (Eph. 1:22-23; 3:6; 4:4, 16; 5:23, 30)

Sam Storm did a review of Barna’s book, Revolution, and went on to say

No matter how often or egregious the neglect of pastoral responsibility and authority may be, the inspired and infallible instruction of the New Testament remains unchanged.

Storm provides a really well thought-out, insightful post that talks about what a church truly is, what it’s meant to do, what it’s meant to look like, and how we’re meant to be a part of it.

Christmas Music

One of my great joys during Christmas season is the music. Not the nauseous, hear everywhere, lame carols that all the stores are playing, but the wondrous, uplifting, joyful music of the season.

I went to see the Azusa Pacific Symphony of Sound concert last Sunday afternoon at Lake Avenue Church. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel is one of my favorite Christmas songs, the choir sang it to perfection. The Men’s Chorus did a hilarious rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas with a bunch of random interjections from other songs. The solos during Do you see what I see? were quite splendid. It was a throughly enjoyable performance. APU seems to have a really good music program.

On the 16th, Lake Ave has their Messiah Sing-a-long. I’ve been going to that just about every year. I pretend to be able to sing baritone, and even though they have all the difference voices sitting together, I sit with whomever I go with. Great fun. My church in Boston always did a Messiah Sing, half of it at Christmas and half at Easter. Händel really nailed it with that oratorio.

Etiquette lapses plague churches

This amuses me, in some ways, and definitely interests me. To see how churches are handling new etiquette traditions.

At a recent Wednesday night service, Brian Huff, pastor at Church of the Harvest, took matters into his own hands – literally. When a member’s cell phone went off, Huff asked if he could answer it.

Etiquette lapses plague churches Oregon Register-Guard

The article goes on to mention fashion traditions (jeans ties, flip-flops, baseball caps) and tardiness. And the humorous final line is about gum under the pews. Heck, just the fact that they have pews makes them a old conservative church. Nowadays, you’re just as likely to get folding chairs.