Monday, October 29, 2012

Connected, Like It Or Not

Quoting from D.A. Carson in his book, Scandalous:

“I suspect that if I were not a Christian, I would not spend a lot of time seeking out people who are very different from me.  I like people who are like me. But if this gospel is important to me and important to you, then we will discover that we have links with the strangest people all over the world.  Part of my job takes me to country after country.  I have come to know brothers and sisters in Christ in many dozens of different ethnicities.  This gospel, this righteousness from God, is for those who trust Christ – for ALL who trust Christ,, for ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God.  Those deep commonalities must transcend our personal tastes in music, food, clothing style, economic status, sense of humor, intellectual interest, diverse national histories, and the like.  Equally, it must drive our evangelism.  Does not Jesus himself teach in the Sermon on the Mount that any pagan can find friends among people who are like him, but it takes the grace of God to transcend those kinds of limitations?”  (emphases added)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Singing Is A Form Of Prayer

Today we look again at an article on singing in the life of the Church originally posted at Matthias Media.  Pastor Kent often refers to the connection between singing and prayer, that is the very subject of this post:

We turn now to the subject of singing and prayer. For just as praising God is bigger than singing, so singing is also more than praising God. How so?

Singing is a form of prayer!


Perhaps it may not have occurred to us before, but singing is (or at least can be) a form of prayer. Or, to put it round the other way, prayers can be sung. This is not just an obvious truism (inasmuch as anything that can be said can also be sung), but an observation from Scripture. The book of Psalms, once again, is our prime example here. For a large proportion of the Psalms are, in fact, prayers (e.g. Pss 3-8, 9-10, 12-13, 16‑18, etc.). And if there’s one thing we know about the way the Psalms functioned in the life of the people of Israel, it is that they were sung. Moreover, as we’ve already noted, they were also sung by the New Testament churches (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16; Jas 5:13).

The way in which music and song minister to the affective dimension of our humanity is something that Martin Luther understood only too well. That’s why he once made this strong claim:
Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise. She is a mistress and governess of those human emotions… which control men or more often overwhelm them… Whether you wish to comfort the sad, to subdue frivolity, to encourage the despairing, to humble the proud, to calm the passionate or to appease those full of hate… what more effective means than music could you find.3
Singing the Psalms, then, is an immensely powerful thing to do. Not only are we praying as we sing, we are praying divinely inspired words! More than that, the singing of these words helps us to engage and express not simply the conceptual dimensions of the truths we are articulating, but their emotional dimensions as well.

Monday, October 15, 2012

No More Wimpy Singing!

[T]he God who has held back nothing from us, not even his only Son, deserves far more than the dregs of our attention and the leftovers of our affections. John Wesley, ever sensitive to these dangers, offered the following exhortation as part of his instructions included in the preface to Sacred Melody:
Sing lustily and with good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength. Be no more afraid of your voice now, nor more ashamed of its being heard, than when you sung the songs of Satan.
For similar reasons, Martin Luther used to call his whole congregation together midweek so that they could learn new hymns and practice their singing for Sunday. But, of course, Sunday itself is also practice—practice for heaven, a rehearsal for the resurrection life of the world to come.

(Excerpted from this post at Matthias Media. Emphases added.)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Singing As Praise

Today's post is a follow up to this previous article, which was originally published at Matthias Media.

SINGING IS A VITAL FORM OF PRAISE

How should we think about praise? The first thing to note is that, according to Scripture, praising God normally has two faces or aspects to it: we can praise God to God and we can praise God to others. In this sense, a parallel exists with the way we can praise one another. For example, I can praise my wife by telling her how wonderful she is, or I can praise her by telling you how wonderful she is.

The second thing to note is that praising God doesn’t always have to take the form of singing. Indeed, it would be a mistake, biblically speaking, to equate praise with singing. Whilst praise normally involves words, everything we do should be for the glory and praise of God (1 Cor 10:31; Phil 1:11).

But, thirdly, there’s likewise no escaping the fact that singing is a vital form of praise. Many Scriptures (particularly many of the Psalms) bear this out. Not only do they link praise directly with singing, but they frequently speak of the two faces of praise in virtually the same breath, often sliding from one to the other with barely so much as a gear change! Consider, for example, the opening verses of Psalm 96:
Oh sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvellous works among all the peoples!
The point could not be clearer. We sing to the Lord, blessing his name, and we sing of the Lord, declaring his glory. And, of course, we often (if not always) do both at once. For even when we’re singing of the Lord to others, he is present to receive his praise!

Monday, October 1, 2012

SYATP 2012 A Success

Well, to be honest, it would have been a success if only one student had shown up, but last Wednesday 61 high school students gathered at Jeff West to pray for their school.  Between 40-50 students did the same at Jeff West Middle School.  How often do you pray for our students?