Wednesday, May 21, 2014

N.D. Wilson on "Lighten Up, Christians, God Loves a Good Time"

Nate Wilson continues to write books and articles that are thought-provoking, imaginative, well-stated, and enjoyable to read. His recent article in Christianity Today, Lighten Up, Christians: God Loves a Good Time, is no exception.

Here's an excerpt:
A dolphin flipping through the sun beyond the surf, a falcon in a dive, a mutt in the back of a truck, flying his tongue like a flag of joy, all reflect the Maker more wholly than many of our endorsed thinkers, theologians, and churchgoers.


We say that we would like to be more like God. So be more thrilled with moonlight. And babies. And what makes them. And holding on to one lover until you've both been aged to wine, ready to pour. Holiness is nothing like a building code. Holiness is 80-year-old hands crafting an apple pie for others, again. It is aspen trees in a backlit breeze. It is fire on the mountain.

Speak your joy. Mean it. Sing it. Do it. Push it down into your bones. Let it overflow your banks and flood the lives of others.

At his right hand, there are pleasures forevermore. When we are truly like him, the same will be said of us.
Read the entire article here.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

"Love Is a Good Thing" by Andrew Peterson

Love Is a Good Thing
Andrew Peterson (from Resurrection Letters, Volume II)

It knocked me down, it dragged me out
It left me there for dead
It took all the freedom I wanted
And gave me something else instead

It blew my mind, it bled me dry
It hit me like a long goodbye
And nobody here knows better than I
That it's a good thing

Love is a good thing, it'll fall like rain on your parade
Laugh at the plans that you tried to make
It'll wear you down till your heart just breaks
And it's a good thing, love is a good thing

It'll wake you up in the middle of the night
It'll take just a little too much, it'll burn you like a cinder
Till you're tender to the touch, it'll chase you down
Swallow you whole, it'll make your blood run hot and cold
Like a thief in the night it'll steal your soul

And that's a good thing, love is a good thing
It'll follow you down to the ruin of your great divide
And open the wounds that you tried to hide
And there in the rubble of the heart that died
You'll find a good thing, love is a good thing

Take cover, the end is near, take cover but do not fear
It'll break your will, it'll change your mind
It'll loose all the chains of the ties that bind
If you're lucky you'll never make it out alive

And that's a good thing, love is a good thing
It can hurt like a blast from a hand grenade
When all that used to matter is blown away

There in the middle of the mess it made
You'll find a good thing
Yes, it's worth every penny of the price you paid
It's a good thing

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Church Singing

The new 9Marks Journal is on "The Church Singing." Check it out here.

Below is the editor's note from Jonathan Leeman:
Singing is not one of the nine marks, a point which, not surprisingly, has come up once or twice with my minister-of-music father.

That said, okay, yes, 9Marks does have a few opinions on music. Our understanding of the local church pushes us toward a slightly different perspective on church singing than some of our evangelical brothers and sisters.

The difference comes down to the question of performance. Who is performing? The congregation or the people on stage? Dimming the lights and turning up the volume of instruments and leaders doesn’t necessarily mean you have turned the congregation into an audience, but it often does.
Or think about it like this: is the “worship experience” in your church a solo transaction between the individual worshipper and God as stimulated by a high-emotion performer up front?

Because here is an alternative: the musicians and song leaders help to facilitate an intellectually and emotionally engaged communal experience where members sing to one another while singing to God. The primary thing people hear is the faith-reinforcing praises and laments of their fellow saints. “I’m not the only one who rejoices like this…mourns like this…pleads like this. So does everyone around me!” They don’t listen for the organ, electric guitar, or praise ensemble. They listen for the folksy and hearty voices of other pilgrims walking alongside them on this long and rocky road of Christian obedience, rehearsing old memories of Calvary and new hopes of the heavenly city. 
Are these just my preferences that I’m trying to impose? I hope not. Think about what the New Testament emphasizes when it comes to the church’s corporate music. It doesn’t talk about crafting a highly charged worship “experience.” Interestingly, it doesn’t use the language of “worship” at all in this context (which is not to deny that corporate singing is worship). Instead, the Bible talks about the congregation singing to one another (Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19), and doing everything for the sake of edifying one another (1 Cor. 14). That’s it: people singing together. When it comes to the topic of music, Christians might do well to talk about the church singing or the congregation singing because that’s what the Bible talks about.

In this edition of the 9Marks Journal, we start with singing and the song. Why do congregations sing, what should they sing about, and how can they sing better? We then think more carefully about the music itself, particularly with two different perspectives on whether or not some musical forms are better than others. Finally we think about what is involved in leading music.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Resources to Help Your Understanding of the Old Testament

This past Sunday morning, I preached a sermon titled "Christ, the Christian, and the Old Testament" from Matthew 5:17-18. In that sermon, I encouraged our congregation to make a renewed commitment to a more regular reading of the Old Testament and to see all the ways it's fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

As a follow-up and as an effort to assist in that task, I thought I would recommend a few resources that I have found helpful for developing a better understanding of the Old Testament and for seeing its fulfillment in Christ. The first two books are great reference works that provide a book-by-book survey of the Old Testament. The Demptser volume is a theology of the Hebrew Bible. And the others are all brief paperbacks oriented toward helping us understand the Old Testament as ultimately fulfilled in and through Jesus.