Saturday, November 29, 2008

hope

Hope means to keep living
amid desperation
and to keep humming
in the darkness.
Hoping is knowing that there is love,
it is trust in tomorrow
it is falling asleep
and waking again
when the sun rises.
In the midst of a gale at sea,
it is to discover land.
In the eyes of another
It is to see that he understands you.
. . . .
As long as there is still hope
There will also be prayer.
. . . .
And God will be holding you
in his hands.
- p.85, With Open Hands (Henri J.M. Nouwen)

compassion

At precisely this point, compassion is born. This compassion is not covered by the word “pity,” nor by the word “sympathy.” Pity has the connotation of too much distance. Sympathy gives the impression of an exclusive nearness. Compassion has nothing of distance and nothing of exclusiveness about it.

Compassion includes various moments. In the first place, it shows you that your neighbor is a man who shares his humanity with you. This partnership cuts through all walls which might have kept you separate. Across all barriers of land and language, wealth and poverty, knowledge and ignorance, we are still one, created from the same dust, subject to the same laws and destined for the same end. With this compassion you can say, “In the expression of the oppressed I recognize my own face and in the hands of the oppressed, I recognize my own hands which speak of powerlessness and helplessness. His flesh is my flesh, his blood is my blood, his pain is my pain and his smile is my smile. There is nothing in me that he would find strange, and there is nothing in him that I would not recognize. In my heart, I know his yearning for love, and down to my entrails I can feel his cruelty. In his eyes, I see my plea for forgiveness and in his hardened frown, I see my refusal. When he murders, I know that I too could have done that, and when he gives birth, I know that I am capable of that as well. In the depths of my being, I have met my fellowman for whom nothing is strange, neither love nor hate, nor life, nor death.”
- p.104, With Open Hands (Henri J.M. Nouwen)

revolutionaries

But it is also plain that a revolutionary man not only draws men to him, he repels them as well. The offense he provokes is just as great a reality as the attractiveness he displays. Precisely because he is so free from things which many men hold sacred, he is a threat to them. His manner of speaking and living constantly relativizes the values which many men have built their lives upon. They feel the penetrating depth of his message and see the consequences for themselves if they should grant that he is right. Again and again when he is among them, they know that the world he lives in is also the world they are longing for, but it demands too much of them to actually let them strive toward it. His criticism of their lives is so insistent and unmasking that the only way for them to escape it is to get rid of him. In order to uphold their tranquility of mind and to no longer be disturbed in their secure way of life, they find it necessary to silence the one who fights against their phony and artificial happiness.
- p.135, With Open Hands (Henri J.M. Nouwen)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Oh Give Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving!



This girl can sang!!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!


But enough about the relatives!!

Thanks to my good friend, David D, for the card from which this was scanned. It has been great to have my family here the last few days. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 24, 2008

sin, repentance, grace & forgiveness

Since I am already found guilty,
why should I struggle in vain?
Even if I washed myself with soap
and my hands with washing soda,
[God] would plunge me into a slimy pit
so that even my clothes would detest me.
(Job 9:29-31)

Obviously Job was under no delusions concerning the utter depravity of his fallen nature. He had looked sin squarely in the eye. And listen: to see sin in that way is already to have repented of it. To advise such a person that the answer to all his problems is further or deeper self-recrimination is to take the part of Satan as an accuser and provocateur. It is to deny the power of the grace of God and the effectiveness of divine forgiveness.
- The Gospel According to Job (Mason), p.357-358

depression

This is not to say there is no reason for believers ever to be downcast or depressed. But the route through depression is not the shallow, self-accusation recommended by Job’s friends. Rather, the route through is. . . What? Well, read the story of Job and see for yourself. There is no better answer anywhere. Be rigorously honest, both about your sinfulness and about your righteousness; wrestle with God; and then cling for all you are worth to the sheer grace of God poured out at the cross. (emphasis mine) “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). Job’s answer to Elihu’s accusations might well have taken the form of a familiar stanza from the hymn “Rock of Ages”:

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling;

Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly,
Wash me, Savior, or I die!
- The Gospel According to Job (Mason), p.358

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thou, Oh Lord

This week's Friday video from The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.



Great song! Great choir!

Monday, November 17, 2008

solitude

Our primary task in solitude, therefore, is not to pay undue attention to the many faces which assail us, but to keep the eyes of our mind and heart on Him who is our divine savior. Only in the context of grace can we face our sin; only in the place of healing do we dare to show our wounds; only with a single-minded attention to Christ can we give up our clinging fears and face our own true nature. As we come to realize that it is not we who live, but Christ who lives in us, that He is our true self, we can slowly let our compulsions melt away and begin to experience the freedom of the children of God.
- The Way of The Heart (Nouwen), p.30

Saturday, November 15, 2008

blameless

How can we expect to be blameless before God if we persist in clinging to personal guilt? The very word blameless signifies that God no longer blames us for our sin, and if He does not blame us, who are we to blame ourselves? More precisely, the word blameless implies that someone else has taken the blame for us, and that Someone is God Himself in the person of His Son Jesus Christ. On the cross, God judged Christ instead of you and me. Jesus literally became guilty of our sins. Since He is now the guilty one, the blame belongs to him. The guilt of our sin is no longer our guilt, but His. Wasn’t this the hidden meaning behind the entire sacrificial system in the Old Testament? The slaying of animals was a way of symbolically shifting the blame—not onto the animals, but onto God Himself. God takes the rap for all of our weakness and sin, and faith is that attitude which humbly allows Him to do this.
- The Gospel According to Job (Mason), p.353

Friday, November 14, 2008

Encourage Yourself

Another Friday Video. You have to click on the link below to go to this video, but it's worth it!

Encourage Yourself (Donald Lawrence)

This lady (Sheri Jones-Moffett) can SING!!

Have a great weekend!!

Here's a pretty cool mime interpretation of the song.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

human being (repost)

I am a human being, not a human doing. My worth lies in who I am, not what I can do or how I am seen by others. This is the truth of my existence.
- David G. Benner, The Gift of Being Yourself (p.86)

One of my new favorite quotes, and I couldn't resist reposting it with this pic from a card my son received a while back... (just got around to scanning it)

So, how ya bean?

Monday, November 10, 2008

2/3 Trinity = Baptist Hymns

Found this interesting article in my inbox this morning. Sad but true!
You Ought to be Ashamed of Yourselves! Baptist Hymns Only 2/3 Trinity

Originally published on Monday, November 10, 2008 at 7:53 AM

by Todd Rhoades

Hymns sung in most Baptist churches historically have been “More About Jesus” than about either God the Father or the Holy Spirit, several church music experts agree.

“From a Baptist perspective, I don’t think the hymnody has ever been Trinitarian,” said Clell Wright, director of choral activities and Logsdon professor of church music at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene.

When it comes to Baptist understanding of the Godhead as reflected in congregational song, “Our Trinity is more two-point-something rather than three,” said Terry York, associate professor of Christian ministry and church music at Baylor University’s School of Music and Truett Theological Seminary in Waco. “One way to gauge that is by looking at the index in the back of the hymnal under ‘Holy Spirit.’ Looking at the 1991 Baptist Hymnal, for instance, there’s not much there. And I was on the committee that put that one together, for crying out loud.”

A quick glance at the recently released 2008 Baptist Hymnal reveals similar results, noted Lee Hinson, coordinator of church music studies at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Okla.

“It has not changed much,” Hinson said. “We struggle with singing Trinitarian doctrine. There are several categories of things we free-churchers don’t do well in worship. … Dealing with the doctrine of the Holy Spirit is one of them.”

York agreed, noting lack of emphasis on the Holy Spirit may reveal—in part—lack of clarity among Baptists about the Spirit’s role and about the doctrine of the Trinity in general.

“Baptist churches divide themselves in worship according to which Person of the Trinity gets the most emphasis,” he noted. Baptists who say they want to “worship the Father in the beauty of holiness” generally favor more formal, liturgical worship. Baptist who want to “praise Jesus for who he is and what he has done” may tend toward a more revivalist and evangelistic worship style. Baptists who say they want “the Spirit to come down and bless us” often follow a less structured worship format.

“Generally, we are less than balanced,” York commented. “Few churches stand in the middle.”

Observers differ about whether the rising popularity of praise and worship music translates into increased attention directed toward the Holy Spirit.
Wright sees a shift toward greater “recognition of the work of the Holy Spirit” in praise music.

“So much of it in the last 15 to 20 years seems very pietistic, with a strong emphasis on personal worship,” he noted.

You can read more of this over at the Baptist Standard...

What do you think?


Here's the Baptist Standard article...


Baptist hymnody largely settles for two out of three in Trinity

By Ken Camp, Managing Editor, Baptist Standard

Published: October 30, 2008

Hymns sung in most Baptist churches historically have been “More About Jesus” than about either God the Father or the Holy Spirit, several church music experts agree.

“From a Baptist perspective, I don’t think the hymnody has ever been Trinitarian,” said Clell Wright, director of choral activities and Logsdon professor of church music at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene.

Baptist worship has been shaped to a large degree by the revivalist movements of the 19th and early 20th centuries, he noted.

“By nature, the focus is on Jesus and his redeeming work,” Wright said.

Consequently, when it comes to Baptist understanding of the Godhead as reflected in congregational song, “Our Trinity is more two-point-something rather than three,” said Terry York, associate professor of Christian ministry and church music at Baylor University’s School of Music and Truett Theological Seminary in Waco.

“One way to gauge that is by looking at the index in the back of the hymnal under ‘Holy Spirit.’ Looking at the 1991 Baptist Hymnal, for instance, there’s not much there. And I was on the committee that put that one together, for crying out loud.”

A quick glance at the recently released 2008 Baptist Hymnal reveals similar results, noted Lee Hinson, coordinator of church music studies at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Okla.

“It has not changed much,” Hinson said. “We struggle with singing Trinitarian doctrine. There are several categories of things we free-churchers don’t do well in worship. … Dealing with the doctrine of the Holy Spirit is one of them.”

York agreed, noting lack of emphasis on the Holy Spirit may reveal—in part—lack of clarity among Baptists about the Spirit’s role and about the doctrine of the Trinity in general.

“Baptist churches divide themselves in worship according to which Person of the Trinity gets the most emphasis,” he noted. Baptists who say they want to “worship the Father in the beauty of holiness” generally favor more formal, liturgical worship. Baptist who want to “praise Jesus for who he is and what he has done” may tend toward a more revivalist and evangelistic worship style. Baptists who say they want “the Spirit to come down and bless us” often follow a less structured worship format.

“Generally, we are less than balanced,” York commented. “Few churches stand in the middle.”

Observers differ about whether the rising popularity of praise and worship music translates into increased attention directed toward the Holy Spirit.

Wright sees a shift toward greater “recognition of the work of the Holy Spirit” in praise music.

“So much of it in the last 15 to 20 years seems very pietistic, with a strong emphasis on personal worship,” he noted.

That emphasis represents a departure from the evangelistic and revivalist tradition that has marked Baptist worship, he noted.

“Our Baptist heritage of music in the gospel tradition has defined who we are for a couple of hundred years,” Wright noted.

Hinson sees a greater emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit in Baptist worship, but he believes it is restricted to the youngest worship leaders.

“Millennials (roughly defined as the generation born in the 1980s and 1990s) want their worship to be free,” he said. Lyrics that stress the Holy Spirit exist, “but they’re not sung where the Boomers are in charge. They’re in the Wednesday night services where students lead worship.”

York, on the other hand, sees praise and worship lyrics focused primarily on Jesus, but worship leaders stressing the role of the Holy Spirit in leading them.

“They attribute being caught up in worship to the work of the Holy Spirit, who helps lead in the worship of Jesus,” he said.


Friday, November 07, 2008

affliction

From "Streams in the Desert" (November 6 reading)
GOD takes the most eminent and choicest of His servants for the choicest and most eminent afflictions. They who have received most grace from God are able to bear most afflictions from God. Affliction does not hit the saint by chance, but by direction. God does not draw His bow at a venture. Every one of His arrows goes upon a special errand and touches no breast but his against whom it is sent. It is not only the grace, but the glory of a believer when we can stand and take affliction quietly.
—Joseph Caryl.

You've Been So Faithful

Okay, we were practicing this song last night at choir rehearsal and I remembered seeing this on youtube... so it got me thinking, how about videos on Friday? We'll see how it goes. Here's the first. Two versions of the same song.

You've Been So Faithful (Eddie James)



And then there's this "little" choir in Knoxville...



Not bad for mostly white folk!! :-) You can certainly feel the Spirit!
(They do suffer a bit from white man's disease, though = speeding up all the way to the end. If their drummer had played with a drum loop I'm sure that wouldn't have been a problem.) HA!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Tired of Trying to Be Good

Did I get your attention? :-) Have you ever felt tired of trying to be good? This morning's reading from "The Gospel According to Job" is too good not to post in its entirety.

Tired of Trying to Be Good

“[Job] keeps company with evildoers;
he associates with wicked men.
For he says, ‘It profits a man nothing
when he tries to please God.’” (34:8-9)

When a righteous believer has his back against the wall, he will sometimes react with behavior that is deliberately “unrighteous.” He may be rude to guests; he may throw a temper tantrum; he may give his wife the cold shoulder; he may go out and buy something expensive; he may slough off work and go to the pool hall. What is going on here? Often what is happening is that the godly person has gotten sick and tired of trying to be good, and so for a little while he adopts the opposite strategy of being “bad.” It is as if some profound instinct inside him had suddenly remembered that being good is, after all, not what godliness is all about. Godliness begins with faith, not with goodness, and that is why we need to be very careful about passing casual judgments on the visible actions of other believers (or, for that matter, on ourselves). When the righteous engage in behavior that appears questionable, it is possible that they are really involved in a subtle form of spiritual warfare, the real object of which is to pull the wool over the Devil’s eyes. In the final analysis, there is no spiritual weapon more powerful than simply being human.

This is what Elihu, just as much as the other friends, fails to appreciate about Job. He sees this fellow full of anger and wild talk, “who drinks scorn like water” (34:7), and he thinks, “This is not the conduct of a godly man. It is the conduct of a man whose heart is rebellious and cold towards God.” Yet one of the great secrets of the spiritual life is that there is a legitimate place for coldness of heart. For example, when the church of Laodicea was reprimanded, it was because their faith had become so lukewarm as to be insipid, and so Jesus told them, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!” (Rev. 3:15). Evidently in the Lord’s view it is better to be stone-cold than to be lukewarm; it is better to rebel against conventional faith than to practice that faith halfheartedly. When we are spiritually turned off, then God can revive us. But when we pretend to be turned on when really we are not, then our faith is like the emperor’s new clothes and we make a laughingstock of the gospel. For this reason a boring, lifeless church service can be more sinful than drunkenness or adultery.

In a real lover of God, surface rebellion may at heart be an expression of hunger for righteousness, and in the Beatitudes Jesus taught that such hunger would be blessed and satisfied. For the true disciple it is not enough to believe that God is good and to try to lead a good life. No; what true disciples want is to have God’s own goodness for themselves, to have God’s goodness inside them to such an extent that it literally makes them good. Otherwise the practice of religion becomes merely moral effort, and to a person of integrity such effort grows unbearable. An honest soul gets fed up with it. He says, “What’s the use? If I cannot be good, then why pretend to the world, or to myself, that I am? No, I want the real thing. I’m hungry for the living God."

What is the difference between the behavior of Christians and non-Christians? Are Christians any better? No, quite often they are not. There are many nonbelievers and followers of other faiths whose outward moral conduct surpasses that of the average Christian. Secular saints may be so energetic in doing good that their record of public service puts many a church to shame. What difference does it make, then, to be a believer? The difference is that as Christians we need no longer pretend to be better than anyone else. We don’t have to put on any show of being good, for we know we are not. We are not good—we are forgiven; and so we are free to be honest before God and before others. We are free to be ourselves. We have given up trying to be good little boys and girls, and whenever we catch ourselves striving to please either God or others by dint of moral effort, we are the sort of people who react to this danger signal by falling on our faces before the Lord. For one of the secret privileges of being His child is knowing that it is all right to fail. It is all right to get tired, to throw in the towel, to give up. Did not even Jesus stumble while carrying His cross? As His followers we know that if we are ever truly to reflect His goodness or His power, it will not be by human effort but only by grace.

- Mike Mason, The Gospel According to Job, p.351-352

A Ministry of Healing and Reconciliation

How does the Church witness to Christ in the world? First and foremost by giving visibility to Jesus' love for the poor and the weak. In a world so hungry for healing, forgiveness, reconciliation, and most of all unconditional love, the Church must alleviate that hunger through its ministry. Wherever we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the lonely, listen to those who are rejected, and bring unity and peace to those who are divided, we proclaim the living Christ, whether we speak about him or not.

It is important that whatever we do and wherever we go, we remain in the Name of Jesus, who sent us. Outside his Name our ministry will lose its divine energy.
- Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey