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Posts Tagged ‘worship’

I once heard a refutation of the idea that music isn’t important; only lyrics are.  A pianist sat on his bench and told us to close our eyes, picturing Cinderella in her ball gown.  He played a gentle waltz while he kept describing her meeting the prince, taking his hand, and beginning to dance.  But while he talked, the music changed into the eerie, dark whine of a scary movie soundtrack.  Then all of a sudden, the music went choppy and light, high little notes running like ballerina steps across my imagination, erasing all attempts to keep Cinderella there in my mind’s eye.  Like a dream where rationality leaves you to the whim of memory’s slideshow on random, shaped into a story, the music carried me beyond any intention of feeling or thought. 

When discussing the pro’s and con’s of speaking in tongues, Paul offered this interesting illustration:  “And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?  For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?”  Sounds matter.  We interpret sounds.  For the music to have any purpose, it has to do something to us. 

And music does affect us.  There is soothing music, rousing music, happy music, sad music, romantic music, even angry music.  The music and its effects are amoral.  There is nothing good or evil about a certain tune.  However, there are several ways to affect the morality of a song.  Most obvious is adding lyrics with a moral content.  If a tune is associated with a certain immoral practice or belief, its impact on people familiar with it cannot be edifying.  Also, if the volume or other special effects cause physical pain (headaches, heart palpitations, or difficulty breathing), that music is immoral.  Finally, when a style of music is brought into an inappropriate circumstance, it can be wrong.  Take Cinderella.  To play the full moon music while she is dancing is not helpful.  Or the situation could be worse.  Times exist for everything under heaven, including anger, but when one has no right to be angry, listening to angry music encourages a mood of violence rather than forgiveness or peace. 

To believe that music is powerless, that a song is ok as long as its lyrics are not wicked, is dangerous.  I have known unsuspecting young people who begin to listen to a style of music that is heavy and dark, depressed and angry.  They do not expect to be affected by the music, but gradually they settle into a mood that mirrors their music, until the music is the creator and true expression of their identity.  I invite you to imagine what happens when a teenager becomes constantly depressed and angry.  Relationships are ruined.  Schoolwork fails.  They are tempted into further association with the dark and the violent. 

Why the obsession with loud music?  I don’t necessarily mean the music so loud and disorderly that the cacophony directs the listener to insanity.  I’m talking about simple volume.  God calls us to be sober, to do everything heartily.  Passive entertainment, I contend, is not godly.  I believe we should interact with our music, not have it attack us.  If ears are in pain, why not turn it down?  And whether there is pain at individual notes, if the over all tension of the music gives headaches, why endure such torment?  When the bass is so strong that it seems to have gotten way beyond modesty and penetrated your skin, pounding against your organs, why pursue that style of music?  Is it that we have become numb, our relational experience leaving us unable to feel without stimulation – even painful stimulation? 

Music can be employed to direct moods.  David played his harp for Saul and cured his fits of temper.  A romantic dinner is that much more romantic if the violins play sweetly in the background.  Carnivals play fast, fun music to heighten the sense of wonder.  Who doesn’t appreciate a good movie soundtrack? 

One common use of music is in “worship,” the part of a traditional church service in which praises, testimonials, or encouragements are offered in the form of songs.  Worship is in vogue right now, the subject of dozens of books, conferences, and contemporary Christian music CD’s.  Churches are trying hard to create worship experiences.  Bands practice during the week and present their “worship” concerts complete with strobe lights, smoke, bass guitars, drums, and exciting videos with the words scrolling across for the audience to sing along.    Some churches light candles.  All this to get people in the mood to worship.  A more energetic band will get the audience to jump up and down and to clap its praise.  The contemplative environment with little altars for worshiping through pottery-making or painting or eating crackers and drinking juice, lit by soft scented candles is more likely to evoke tears.  Either way the people walk away with an experience, feeling that they have been through something important that touched their heart. 

Is that what worship should look like?  Is that even worship?  What is the purpose of worship, and what styles of music and other arts are aligned with those objectives?  What about worship together?  Isn’t the point to be with each other, rather than isolated by volume and darkness?  When creating an “environment conducive to worship,” should churches manipulate people into energies and emotions not already inspired by meeting, knowing, and walking with Almighty God?  If we as people are not willing to lift up our voices in thanksgiving and praise, lament and victory to our God – without being drowned out by the drums and the pervading bass – are we not merely flattering God? 

How dangerous is it to do worship our way, in a way we enjoy and in which we are gifted?  What if those ways detract from the purposes on which worship is built?  Is the focus on God or on the band or on the audience?  I have heard worship described as therapy.  Should we participate for healing and comfort, for strengthening?  What sorts?  We know that offering worship their own way caused the death of Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron the priest.  Did God give any sort of specific instruction, example, or definition which we might be profaning through our creative expressions?  Should we sing in church?  Are those melodies to be directed as praises, or as encouragement to those around us? 

I am concerned at how many gifted musicians use the gathering of Christians to springboard into a musical career.  If the band is supposed to be leading worship – an endeavor doubtful in its biblical foundations already – what are they doing with microphones and amps that power over the congregation’s voices?  Why sell CD’s and t-shirts boasting the band’s name?  Is this about people bringing the sacrifice of praise, or about people having a good time and enjoying a concert?  Can bad or inappropriate music prevent an atmosphere conducive to worship? 

The Psalms direct the whole earth to make a joyful noise unto the Lord.  How can we reject anyone’s joyful offering?  Is everything we “enjoy” joyful?  Perhaps the screaming and growling sometimes passed off as singing is fun for those doing it.  So might be roller coaster rides or even the thrill of stealing candy at the grocery store register, but those things are not considered to be worship. 

Music is powerful.  God is mighty.  Worship is meaningful.  God is worthy. 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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A God you know about, but don’t trust, that’s useless.  A God whose love you affirm but reject experiencing, that’s miserable. 

 

But He really is my God, by His smashing grace.  Knowing who God is (theology) increases the value of His love for me.  Because He is perfect, yet suffered shame, I praise His love more.  Because He loved his own Son so much, but sent Jesus to suffer in my place, I am humbled by His grace.  Because He is able to create and maintain the whole universe, yet chooses to interact with me on a daily basis, I crumble with joy!  Because He is infinitely good, I have peace passing understanding. 

 

I live in a sphere of truth as I know it.  Truth is something I crave and cling to because it enables me to love my God.  When a part of that sphere is bombarded with doubt (from within or without), I get defensive.  I whirl around in my little world, reexamining associations, texts, and experiences.  Whether I had been wrong about the truth or the doubt had been unfounded, I go through that experience every time.  Some questions are smaller.  Others challenge me to re-read my whole Bible with the tension of interpretation presented by a different view.  Contradictions can even turn out to be paradoxes when I go deep enough into them. 

 

To entertain questions, engage discussions, and comprehend a sense of truth (even as presented in creeds or “institutes”) is not, I conclude, wrong.  Here let me clarify.  If the motive for acquiring truth is to better experience God’s love and return it – if the pursuit is in the context of your relationship with God – and if the odyssey is not harming other people, then it is not wrong. 

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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One of my good friends smiled when I told her I was reading a book about aliens.  “You read such varied subjects,” she laughed.  And I do, but I definitely see them as connected.  In the same way that there are so many points in which I am disappointed with traditional (as opposed to biblical) church because they are all connected to a basic definitional idea of church, these varied subjects (Iceland, aliens, church, relationships, history, biography, philosophy) are part of a worldview.  You may call it the homeschool culture.  Or maybe it is the Christian bookstore (I doubt it).  A lot of my connections come from being a Creationist.  I’m a fan of logic and words (logos), two indivisible concepts.  The history of God, the world, science, cultures, languages, laws, and on and on all fascinate me. 

 

In this case I can trace my reasons for reading this book (Alien Intrusion by Gary Bates) to several things.  First of all, when I was in grade school my dad got Chuck Missler’s newsletter from Koinonia House.  These newsletters promoted edgy concepts of apologetics and Bible interpretation/prophecy such as the Bible code, Edenics, a variable light speed (he’s big of physics, and smart enough to handle it), and aliens.  Chuck Missler has tapes on the Martian Monuments, the Nephilim, and the alien phenomenon in general.  Though I haven’t read or heard much from him on the subject, the impression I get is that Alien Intrusion is in majority agreement with Missler’s position. 

 

Secondly, who is not fascinated by accounts of alien encounters and UFOs?  I’ve seen the TV specials, watched Star Wars and Star Trek.  I read CS Lewis’ Space Trilogy in which he invents a population on Mars and another on Venus in order to delve into the idea of free will.  Stars and astronomy and theoretical physics all hold that appeal for me, too.  And I cheer for the underdog.  All these ordinary people have experiences that the official authorities deny or deride.  HOWEVER, whenever I watch a TV special about aliens or read an account purported to be true, I get the chills.  I am assaulted by fear and nightmares, and a sense of spiritual attack – doubt. 

 

Answers in Genesis advertised Alien Intrusion on its website, a Creationist, Christian investigation into the phenomenon.  I knew what to expect from the book just from things I’d heard suggested as explanations for the alien phenomenon in Christian circles.  Intrigued to get one well-researched, relatively safe treatment of the subject, when I saw the book at our Christian bookstore several years ago, I picked it up.  The cover is a pretty, typically alien teal with the curvy shapes and stark glaring brightness contrasted with shadow (covers – I’ll admit – are big sellers to me).  And initially I took some casual Sunday afternoon time (commercials during a Bronco game) to flip through the contents.  What I read so disturbed me that I once again got chills and fear, and had to set the book aside. 

 

In the intervening years, I have picked the book up a few more times, re-read the back cover, and scanned the contents page.  Finally this month I had the guts to sit down and start reading Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the Evolution Connection from the beginning.  Some friends were discussing aliens and Nephilim; Dad and I attended a Steeling the Mind Conference at which the book was being sold again.  And my walk with God is in a good spot, well-supported by regular Bible study (alone and with groups) and frequent prayer.  I would not recommend that a Christian read this book outside of such precautions. 

 

The content of this book is definitely for mature audiences as well, since it describes (with proper restraint, but also with enough detail to establish patterns in sightings and encounters) disturbing physical, emotional, sexual and spiritual occurrences. 

 

There are several benefits of reading the book straight through.  The first is perspective.  Gary Bates starts slow and gradually builds, almost imperceptibly delivering the clues that led him to his conclusions.  Another advantage is the tone.  Rather than moving from intense moment to new revelation to intense moment, the book breaks up the information with summaries, inserts about sci-fi books and movies, and gradually more Bible verses.  A final plus from reading the text is that the book is an apologetic for more than just an explanation of UFOs.  Through descriptions from witnesses, historical comparison/research, and logic, the book defends belief in the supernatural, absolute truth, creation versus evolution; and the Bible as the reliable and honest account of history, supernatural beings and intentions, and even the future. 

 

Alien Intrusion isn’t some wild call to a UFO cult or to buy gear from Roswell.  It isn’t a conspiracy theory pamphlet (at 340 pages with so many footnotes, that would be a stretch of a definition anyway).  Nor is Mr. Bates an indiscriminate believer in every UFO and alien claim made by anyone all over the world.  He is interested in evidence, in logic, in corroborating witnesses – and he is out to find the truth. 

 

One of the most interesting discoveries uncovered by this book (not that the author made the discovery, but he is surely one of the biggest providers of the information to the public) is in the field of alien abductions.  The abduction responds to an abductee claiming Jesus’ name.  In fact, researchers have collected descriptions of interrupted abductions, all of which ended when Jesus was spoken.  Some abductees who experienced this said that the presence abducting them seemed pained by the name, and the abduction did not resume.  Several claimed to be Christians, while others came upon the name by chance. 

 

Abductions and alien encounters are universally acknowledged to be much more frequent among those who have at any point in their lives dabbled in the occult: in New Age, in psychics, witchcraft, or even Satanism.  The after-effects of an encounter are typically deeper and more devoted involvement in New Age beliefs and practices.  Even the crop circles hoaxes were, when infused by willing visitors, sites of unusual paranormal feelings, sightings, and events. 

 

This book considers the possibility and probabilities of aliens and UFOs having an extraterrestrial “natural”/evolutionary origin.  Are they really space-creatures who journeyed from other planets to meet us?  The frequency of sightings, the distances from which they must come and resultant time involved, along with the lack of any evidence of these beings communicating with us through radio waves or other indirect methods – or even signs of entrance into our atmosphere, make such an explanation virtually impossible.  The UFOs and beings act in a way more consistent with an inter-dimensional being (yes, in the scientific, physics sense).  They appear and disappear, change shape, and move at velocities that defy the laws of motion. 

 

Are the aliens good?  Are they our space brothers sent to help us reach the next stage of our evolution?  No, they are known liars (until we discovered there was no life on the moon, they said they were from the moon, the Mars, then Venus, then every other planet in our galaxy until they said they were from the Pleiades and Sirius and far away stars systems; their foretelling of future events has also proven false) whose impact on lives is in the negative.  They create pain, confusion, withdrawal from friends and family, and fear in their contactees.  Certainly some people become willing to endure these encounters, and enjoy the profit and attention generated by their experiences.  Many people have ended up harming themselves and others, submitting themselves to abuse or even death, as a result of encounters with these beings. 

 

Are aliens new?  No.  The history of the world is filled with accounts that, names and stories apart, tell of the same phenomenon of supernatural visitors with the same message, the same techniques, and the same affects as aliens today.  These include elves, fairies, pagan gods and goddesses, and even demons.  The world’s most reliable history book and document on spiritual realities, the Bible, also describes these phenomenon, giving the origin of these beings and their purpose.  According to the Bible, men have worshiped these beings in conjunction with the starry hosts, sorcery, channeling, and witchcraft throughout history.  These beings consistently reject a literal understanding of an authoritative and infallible Bible, though willing to plagiarize the Bible and to claim to be characters from it. 

 

The Bible also warns against interaction with these beings, predicting the harmful results to individuals who do.  It warns against behavior and worship often connected with these encounters, the same behavior on which the New Age philosophy is built.  Historically, every extra-biblical religion has incorporated some or all of these things, and many religions and cults have founding stories similar to abduction or channeling accounts (including Islam, Mormonism, New Age, and Scientology). 

 

Why now?  Why in this century is there a massive increase in the number of sightings?  The Bible describes a time of deception and world unity under this deception.  Given other biblical prophecies compared to the times in which we live, many Christians would agree that end times events are advancing towards the climax of the spiritual battle being waged for millennia over the souls of men.  Another reason for the flood of alien sightings and paranormal encounters is the cultural openness created by people and by the church.  The world has embraced relativism.  It has reacted against two world wars and nuclear weaponry.  Men and women have embraced lewd sexuality like never before in this country.  Evolution is the common theory of origins (universally taught by any alien visitor or proponent).  And the Church, those who have been saved by Jesus’ blood shed as he substituted Himself to take our punishment for rebellion against God, has been silent and wishy-washy on truth.  We have compromised the Bible, leaving truth up for grabs or a popularity contest.  A world desperately seeking answers, craving authority, and coping with the inherent longing for purpose and connection with their loving Creator God has been left in the dark because the Church will not be salt and light. 

 

Get informed.  Accept the biblical description of a supernatural (spiritual) reality.  Proclaim the truth.  Live by it. 

 

For my part, this book challenged me in my willingness to believe in a supernatural world.  It’s all safe and comfortable to believe in a supernatural God if He doesn’t do anything supernatural.  If He just sort of works circumstances out for the best, I’m ok with that.  But what about miracles?  What about angels and demons?  What about supernatural judgment?  Reminded of the spiritual war being waged, and of the power of the beings deceiving men who have no accepted the truth (found in the Bible, enabled by an “encounter” with Jesus that is utterly unlike the alien encounters), I am challenged toward compassion on the foolish people I see wandering my world.  How can they believe abortion is ok?  How can they give themselves over to extramarital sex?  How can they not see that an economy built on debt is destructive?  Why are cults and false religions so popular?  The answer is that they are deceived.  A battle is being fought in the “inter-dimensional” realm of the angels and demons.  To these people, their senses are out of their control.  Reality really does feel like it is relative or changeable or insignificant. 

 

Like all of the Masterbooks I have read, Alien Intrusion includes a strong defense of biblical inerrancy and a frequent, well-explained and relevant description of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Whether I thought I needed it or not, the topic has continually reappeared in my life the past few months.  This summer the theme was supernaturally empowered change – the change directed by spending time with God, devoted to prayer, majoring my life on the word of God.  And now, with less change than I expected – or felt called to do, maybe God is wooing me away from my distraction and hitting this change from the other direction.  “Spend time with Me,” He says. 

 

I love my life.  Most days are wonderful.  My mind is always engaged.  I read, and write, and get things done.  Etsy has welcomed me into its world, even though I don’t have any sales yet.  Church activities fill my week, and in the spaces I get together with friends: talking or doing ministry together.  Some days are so filled with searching the Bible for answers that when I go to sleep after midnight and have energy to read only a short Psalm or less with my God, I feel that’s ok.  And I sincerely don’t believe I have to be legalistic. 

 

And then sin creeps in, little thoughts or words out of control or no energy for the priorities God has given me.  Last night, well after the second or even third lesson from the odd place about filling up one’s own spiritual life in order to pour out love and grace to others, I had just enough energy to quickly read Galatians 6, finishing my book of the week.  This was in between TV, movies, ice cream, internet articles, email…  And I felt vaguely guilty putting the Bible away. 

 

When I woke this morning, ambitiously early, instead I lay there realizing how little I’d been talking to God about my days and my life.  We had a chat, but we need more. 

 

God’s grace is amazing.  Tomorrow I’m meeting with some co-Sunday school teachers about our next series, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World (based on the book by JoAnna Weaver).  It so happens that about a year and a half ago I purchased the book for about two dollars, recognizing the title as popular with friends.  The topic didn’t really interest me that much, because I’m Mary.  I’m lazy sometimes, and love to study and be with Jesus more than to work hard and get things done.  So I was going to give the book to our church library, but never got around to it. 

 

Since I conveniently possess this book, I decided to read the first couple chapters to be up to speed with the other ladies who are teaching.  I’m on page 8, still feeling that Martha isn’t really me in general.  And then all the past weeks’ lessons and hints towards “Be still and know that I am God,” come gently back, triggered by a word or a sentence or one of the author’s testimonies. 

 

Sunday evening a friend offered to loan me her apartment for a week as a place to get away quietly with God, to worship.  Friday I was remembering times in the past when I’ve worked through things with God by house-sitting for friends.  Compared to my busy, noisy house, the quiet loneliness of an empty house is enticing.  I have any number of getaways at which I can stop in the midst of errands, rebel against tyrannical schedules, and take time to pray.  The library has a walk around the outside where I do lots of energetic discussion with God.  And I have a membership to the center for evolutionary propaganda in our state, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science – which if you filter the comments about Darwin, evolution, adaptation, ancestry, etc. is a very peaceful place to focus on God’s marvelous creativity and design. 

 

But to kneel and pray, to sing out loud, to sway to the chorus of faith scarcely held silent in rocks and trees and hills, one needs to be alone.  To cry out to God about the confusion of life in the world, lifting up specific names of friends and situations – essentially to do anything sufficiently open as to derive any conclusions – privacy is important.  Time is important. 

 

Beyond that, though, there is the daily remembrance that God is there.  I need to be aware of His presence, leaning on Him for every good work that He prepared for me to do.  Where does my help come from, my peace, my joy, my attention to the needs of the world for a reason for the hope that I have – if not from Him?  Does He not deserve my every breath, all my worship? 

 

Yet again, God did not call us only to a list of works.  What we do is an overflow of our relationship with Him.  As though while walking with God, He lifts a table by own end and says, “Here, grab that end.”  When I was little I would help my sister rearrange our room.  (She still rearranges her room an average of five times a year.)  I love to help and all, but I know full well that while she was investing all her strength in her end of dressers and beds and mattresses, I was only the balance point, contributing very little strength to the operation.  This is what it’s like when I join God in work. 

 

To quote from page 5 of Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, ‘ “The better part!” I say to God in the midst of my own whirl of activity.  “You mean there’s more?  I have to do more?” 

‘No, no, comes the answer to my tired heart.  Jesus’ words in Luke 10 are incredibly freeing to those of us on the performance treadmill of life. 

‘It isn’t “more” he requires of us. 

‘In fact, it may be less.’

 

The same point was drawn out of John 6 in a sermon I heard when visiting a friend’s church plant this month.  We were in John 6, and it reminded me of a blog post I did last year, This Grace is Made for Walking. 

 

Verse 24 says the people went seeking for Jesus. 

 

Jesus reveals their true motivation in verse 26: they wanted Jesus so that he would feed them again.  Rather than eating of the bread of life, desiring Jesus Himself, which would leave them filled forevermore, they were looking for little doses of temporary food. 

 

Verse 27 says that the food that endures unto everlasting life is what the Son of man shall give unto you.  Give.  Eternal life, the satisfaction of a relationship with God, is a gift. 

 

But in verse 28, the people respond, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?”  They still haven’t gotten the point.  What shall we do?  Do?  Work? 

 

Verse 29 contains Jesus’ refutation, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”  The work is belief.  The work is a gift.  The life is a gift.  Jesus was sent.  He is near to those who would seek Him. 

 

The pastor compared this to Galatians 2:21, “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” 

 

We neither come to God by works, nor follow Him by works.  The work of God is that we believe on Jesus.  This is the food that endures unto eternal life. 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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“One may steal your thunder, but the lightning is always God’s.” – my family (a collaborative quote, in which we were stealing each other’s thunder)

Several weeks ago – this post is way behind, so sorry – my brother gathered a group of our friends who, along with others of our acquaintance, have independently sensed the call to do something with our knowledge and fellowship.  We are so good at parties, but we lose focus.  So many of us have been wondering where God wants us to act.  My brother gathered us to pray and share Scripture, seeking God for where He wants us to serve, why, how, who, etc.  It must be a God thing, or it is nothing. 

Last year for a few months I attended a young adult Bible study and worship time in which I sensed that most of us were passionately eager to serve God, to have a part in His work, but He hadn’t told us where to go.  He has been building faith in a young generation, like armies in waiting.  And we gathered to wait on Him, to encourage our readiness, and to seek God’s marching orders.  Some days I think there are so many causes, that I wonder why it’s difficult to find mine.  And then I remember that God has us waiting.  Until God speaks, I can wait. 

Karen Hancock’s allegory, Arena, is a vivid description of Christian living.  At one point all those “saved” are waiting, studying and training, in a well-provisioned safe haven.  They must wait for the exact moment at which God will give them a sign to move out and cross the enemy-infested lands to the portal to home.  If they leave too early or too late, they will run across lines and camps of enemies and be lost.  So they wait.  So we wait. 

But we believe God is at work.  Over Memorial Day Weekend I attended the New Attitude Conference in Louisville, KY.  Put on by Sovereign Grace and featuring Josh Harris, Eric Simmons, Mark Dever, Al Mohler, CJ Mahaney, and John Piper as speakers, the young adult conference attracted 3,000 soldiers in waiting.  I was surprised, though I shouldn’t have been, to find most of them as directionless as me.  Ok, most of them had college degree or career goals, but spiritually we weren’t sure where God wanted us.  Some of us, in the midst of waiting, felt like the fight to keep heads above water while treading was all we could do.  Maintaining a devotional and prayer life, passionately worshiping God and memorizing His Word were high orders. 

Then John Piper spoke on William Tyndale, who most certainly had a calling and was not about to waste his life.  He translated the whole New Testament and several Old Testament books into English for the first time.  And he wrote books and campaigned for the Bible to be printed in the common tongue and made available to the people – at the risk and cost of his own life.  The challenge went out and resonated with the three thousand in attendance. 

Why does it resonate?  Because God is at work, in the grassroots, you might say, reviving our faith in a big God.  Twenty-something Christians, though comparatively immature in our marriage and childbearing rates and economic productivity, are getting excited about the truth, about a God bigger than themselves.  Rejecting the shallow self-help and entertainment-driven church culture, they are reading up on Jonathan Edwards and getting excited about William Tyndale, singing theology-rich God-centered worship songs like Chris Tomlin’s How Great is Our God, or Isaac Watts’ hymns. 

This is the subject of Young, Restless, and Reformed.  Collin Hansen took a tour of the country to find out about this multi-rooted movement of ‘young Calvinists.’  He did a great job of filling pages with information about theology, denominations, organizations, authors, and what’s so exciting to us about God’s sovereignty.  Grace, a consistent description of the world, a God worth worshiping – we have lots of answers, lots of paths that are bringing us to become part of the revival of Calvinism in the West.  Why is God doing this?  We wait to see. 

Not only are our discoveries and conversions to Calvinism different; the lifestyles and trappings in which we couch our belief in the sovereignty of God also run a spectrum, which Collin Hansen (a writer for Christianity Today) describes with excellence: from liturgical and traditional presbyterians to charismatic and modern Mark Driscoll and CJ Mahaney.  Then there’s the unusual mix of Baptists and Calvinism (which for the moment describes me, though I find myself pretty much in pieces of everything).  On of the most interesting parts of Young, Restless, and Reformed to me was the chapter on the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Al Mohler’s Calvinist makeover of the college.  So that’s why my friends at Elect Exiles are Election-affirming and Baptist.  I’m from a church that, in my observation, has been more typical of 20th century S. Baptists: in between Calvinism and Arminianism and reluctant to debate the issue.  The tides are turning.  I’ll confess belief in a big, sovereign God was a prerequisite for me to vote for our current pastor. 

This is a book I will recommend to pretty much everyone.  The only disappointment I had was that the chapter on New Attitude, titled “Forget Reinvention,” didn’t say much about the conference.  If you want to know about that, the New Attitude website has plenty of info to get you hyped about next year.  I read the book in a few days, and told everyone I know about the book for the next several weeks.  Read it, talk about it, and be encouraged by all the others God is calling.  Keep waiting. 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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What would you say is the definition of Christian music? 
 
Now break that down.  What is the definition of Christian? 
 
What is the definition of music? 
 
Do you see why the last two questions are important? 
 
Does “Christian music” functionally (in real life) have anything to do with Christianity or music? 
 
What place does Christian music have in your life?  What place should it have?  How can it be good?  How can it be bad? 
 
Can secular music target the same points? 
 
What does Christian music have to do with worship? 
 
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn 
 
PS: I was talking with some friends tonight, and one said she doesn’t like worship bands.  I said I don’t like worship bands, or choirs, or worship leaders.  Good friends that they are, they let me qualify: I actually like quite a lot of worship leaders (can’t help it; they’re usually creative talented people passionate about God and seeing Him glorified); I just don’t like the position of worship leader/worship pastor.  Case in point for the rest of this post. 

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April 24-28 I was in Jacksonville, Florida for Awana’s Journey 24-7 (High School) national Bible Quiz and Games. They call it Summit – a rather non-original name. Anyway, it was a group of 19 from our church, 13 kids and six leaders.

The short story is: At Bible Quiz we had two teams of six, who were quizzing out of the Awana study book on the entire book of Romans. They knew about 24 verses and lots of lists and facts and definitions, plus summaries of about ¼ the books in the Bible. One team made it to the forth round of Quiz (40 minutes: 20 speed like team jeopardy and 20 team multiple choice each round), and ended up between 11 and 15 in the nation (about 130 teams). The other team earned their way to the 5th round, Platinum, and ended up 8th in the nation.


Our Games team had great fun, finishing the day doing the chicken dance. We won some exciting games, including three-way tug of war, and played three rounds. No special prizes, because we’re not the tallest or fastest group ever. It was a fun team day, and afterwards the kids ran through fountains – the good thing about being in Florida.
 


Three girls earned their Citation Awards, representing 10 years of Bible memory.

We went to the beach twice, had many wonderful late-night meals, and joined in hundreds of teenagers at the main sessions. The airport and airplanes offered their adventures. People made friends, learned things, saw God’s grace at work, worshiped, prayed, and took thousands of pictures.

So I’m back, finally sick after putting off the cold for weeks before Summit. Since I got hardly any sleep while there, I’m just recovering. But I miss people. After five days spent entirely in the company of friends, sitting alone at work, even with a good book, is unsatisfying.

When I was in grade school, I saw high school Leaders-in-Training come home from nationals with bronze medals for Bible Quiz, and I started saving money to go myself. Nothing would stop me, not ropes or money or the fact that none of my good friends went my freshman year, or the flu. Not that I ever had the flu. This year came close. Lack of sleep and a rough two plane rides in a row knocked me out and I was in serious pain and seriously ill several days. So I got to test that.

Even after I graduated, nothing could keep me home. I immediately started coaching. I’m born to be a coach. In years past that’s been my main role, that and schedule enforcer, keeper of alarm clock, you know. This year was the first year that my role really shifted to a welcomed mentor role. I got to talk with the students on our team and build relationships with them, help them remember how God fits into their lives while hopefully communicating that whatever they think of the person I am now, I went through a lot of the same experiences and feelings they are having now.

What did I love? Getting to talk to and share life with our group. I feel like this year I really built relationships with people, and got to be a friend.

What did I learn? Jacksonville sits on a tidal river, which means it flows in different directions depending on the time of day. Surely God’s goodness and mercy will follow me… Little things chanted of His goodness.

What did I like? The ocean. It was fun. Not beautiful to the sight, but to the touch.

Where was I challenged? In being an authority and what to do when rules are broken. Also in not feeling up to par for most of the trip. I was challenged to be kind and grateful and emotional and relational. It’s so easy to hide when you’re not feeling well.


What now? I miss the constant community. At Summit I’m a different person, and it’s because I’m around those people. Things are changing. I’m starting to look at how to transition relationships from authority to purely friendship. And delighted to think that life doesn’t just end after high school; we can still hang out and be friends.

Special thanks:
That we made our connection in Memphis.
That our group got to experience Romans 12 (with a few rough patches).
That our Bible Quiz teams were blessed.
That we all felt sufficiently well to compete.
That when our van got lost we still got out of the hotel basically on time.
For finding three parking spots next to each other.
For brown t-shirts with white writing.
 
To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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