Saturday, March 31, 2007
I have been going through my MP3 library (4316 audio files) this week. My Ipod will fit 500 songs on it. I made a best of list. Here is the odd thing. There are whole albums, whole genres, that as I listen to them, I find myself cringing. Mostly, the stuff that makes my mind numb with boredom is Contemporary Christian Worship Music (CCWM). Here are the top three problems I have with this stuff:
1. It all sounds the same. It is stock. There is a formulaic quality that seems to be saying to me that artists are afraid to really be themselves.
2. It sounds like there are ten people in a room competing for my attention. In other words, it is over produced. Drums at full speed when they are not needed, synthesizers filling in where there should be silence. Ugh!
3. It fails to communicate musically what it is trying to say lyrically. On of the big failures of Christian music is the lie that says it does not matter what it sounds like as long as the message is good. What it sounds like is the message when it comes to music! Make it good or do not make it at all.
This week, I will be dumping a ton of music from my hard drive (Hillsong, Passion, I worship, a bunch of Vineyard schlock) and praying that God will raise up some artists (like David Crowder, Mewithoutyou, Sara Groves, Paul Wright, Jennifer Knapp, Enter the worship Circle, evanescence) that will be bold enough to produce music that actually reflects the goodness of the Gospel.
Finally, I asked my good friend, and worship leader, David Sadd, if it was me or if I actually was right in my judgment of much of the worship music that is being produced today. We spent an hour with listening to amazing music (Led Zeppelin, Alanis Morissette, Evanescence, Ben Harper, Eminem, Sara Groves, modern piano minimalists, Mac Powell) and talking about the problem of CCWM. Is it just us, or is a ton of CCWM just boring, repetitive, and poorly produced.
Monday, March 26, 2007
"Mmmm . . . beer." - Homer Simpson
We "Anglicans" have a history of toleration when it comes to alcohol. Like the Lutherans, we use real wine at communion, and often are seen drinking socially. Yet, we firmly believe both that the Scriptures demand alcohol consumption in moderation as celebration, and in abstaining when it might hurt a brother or sister to consume.
- In the European world one of the most Christian drinks was beer.
- Saint Gall was a missionary to the Celts and renowned brewer.
- After Charlemagne’s reign the church because Europe’s exclusive brewer.
- When a young woman was to marry her church made special bridal ale for her, from which we derive our word bridal.
- Pastor John Calvin’s annual salary package included upwards of 250 gallons of wine to be enjoyed by he and his guests.
- Martin Luther explained the entire reformation as “…while I sat still and drank beer with Philip and Amsdorf, God dealt the papacy a mighty blow.”
- Luther’s wife Catherine was a skilled brewer and his love letters to her when they were apart lamented his inability to drink her beer.
- When the Puritan’s landed on Plymouth Rock the first permanent building they erected was the brewery.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
The film is directed by Michael Apted (The World is Not Enough, Coal Miner's Daughter) from an original screenplay written by Academy Award® nominee Steven Knight (Dirty Pretty Things).
It stars Ioan Gruffudd (Black Hawk Down), Albert Finney (Erin Brockovich), Romola Garai (Vanity Fair), Michael Gambon (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), Benedict Cumberbatch (Hawking), Rufus Sewell (Legend of Zorro), Ciaran Hinds (Rome) and introduces Youssou N'Dour.
Though you will not see any lurid affairs or anything that blows up in this film, you will see the true story of a man who was deeply convicted and lived his life to make this world a better place.
If you want to learn more about Wilberforce and the cultural trnasformations that Evangelicals of his day brought about, please continue reading below.
Prior to the cultural transformations that English Evangelicals brought to the nation, England was a dark and gloomy country in need of serious reform. The industrial revolution of the late 1700’s had helped to foster political corruption, economic oppression, and serious social problems that alienated the poor and degenerated the ancient aristocracy, while benefiting the middle classes and capitalists.
Rapidly growing cities (18,000 people in 1800 to 5,000,000 in 1890) gave rise to overcrowded slums where the poor lived and worked in miserable and inhumane conditions, lasting far into the 19th century. Simultaneously, political reform headed in the direction of a liberalism that increased the power of the English House of Commons while bulging the pocket book of the House of Lords. Many grew famously wealthy amongst the upper classes, while those in the lower echelons lived like animals, either in cities, where they worked in the factories, or as slaves, building the colonies while dragging their chains.
Throughout England at this time, drunkenness was rampant- the poor soaked their misery in cheap gin. Women were used as pack mules in the mines and blackened little boys where left to die when caught within the chimney’s they were hired to sweep. To add to the inhumanity, many Irish girls were kid-napped into prostitution, spending the rest of their lives locked into the treachery of working the streets.
Within this darkness, Christians of many denominations in England worked from the late 1700’s through the 1800’s to turn the country from being a “gin-soaked” brawl crowded together in a swarm of immorality and corruption to a society that was considered the most ‘decorous, peaceful, and law abiding nation in the West.’ Like a glorious ray of sunshine, evangelicals could claim responsibility for huge cultural changes that would transform England, and much of the world. Certainly, Victorian England with all of its virtues, cleanliness, and claim of religion, would not have been possible if the Evangelicals had not acted.
It was during these dark days of the late 1700’s that English evangelicals began to involve themselves in ways that would give rise to the social changes that characterize the Victorian era (1837-1901). Many who had benefited from an age of evangelical renewal through George Whitefield and John Wesley were now faced with a society that was uncivil while receiving a faith that was liberating. Though many had abandoned the vision of involving their faith in the public square, due in part to the religious wars and to the failures of those such as Oliver Cromwell in the 1640’s, there were many who began to reject what Max Weber would later call Protestant “inner-worldly- asceticism,” turning to what is today referred to as a transformist vision for Christian involvement in culture (Niebur-Christ and Culture). After the death of William Wilberforce, the like-minded High Churchmen, William Gladstone, another great reformer of Britain, would say to Queen Victoria, “My political or public life is the best part of my life: it is the part in which I am conscious of the greatest effort to do and avoid as the Lord Christ would have me do and avoid.” Had not Wilberforce and other faithful transformers of culture not set the stage for such a view, it is doubtful that Gladstone would have been able to be so comfortable with a public life fully given to Jesus.
The Great William Wilberforce
Before Gladstone, William Wilberforce was to set the stage for what it meant to be an Evangelical who embodied a transformationist view of the world. When Wilberforce, as a young parliamentarian, came to a saving faith in Jesus as his Lord and Savior, he was faced with what was for him, a new and odd choice: should he be involved in public life, or retreat into a private religious piety expected of many Evangelicals of his day?
At first, he considered turning from the politics and public life of England, which wallowed in ‘nepotism, graft, bribery, and the great pork-barrel under the three George’s of the Hanoverian dynasty’ (to quote the Christian Historian, Dr. Les Fairfield ), to a life in the priesthood. Providentially, he received pastoral support from the Great John Newton (author of Amazing Grace) who challenged Wilberforce by suggesting that God was calling him to make a difference in the public life of England. Later, after Wilberforce embraced this call, he would exude, “God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners” (i.e. morality). Both of these visions of reform would do much to help create Victorian England as it came to be know. Upon setting out, many thought it impossible to bring such sweeping changes to England through acts of Parliament. Even John Wesley did not at first think slavery could be abolished through an act of law. His early tract entitled, Thoughts Upon Slavery, reveals an appeal to individual action only. Yet, eighteen years later on February 23, 1807, victory came when Wilberforce ‘carried the house.” Along with other Evangelicals(Henry Thornton 1760-1815, Granville Sharp 1735-1813, John Venn 1759-1813, Hannah Moore 1745-1833, and Zachary Macaulay 1768-1838) Wilberforce and his friends worked tirelessly to bring about a vision of a Holy England. These folks, who received notoriety for their efforts during the industrial revolution in England, were know as the Clapham Sect.
The primary objective of the Clapham sect, as well as those who followed in their path, was to bring the people of England to come to know Jesus Christ as Savior. However, they did not make the Gospel into hollow words. Instead, they became concerned for the whole of men, women, and children in England, thus showing concern for both body and soul. Unfortunately, an idea of virtue void of a reliance on the saving grace of Jesus Christ, would typify many living in the late Victorian age, who lived off the fruits of reforms brought on by Evangelicals of Wilberforce’s era.
The Word for All
In bringing transformation to England, Evangelical before and within the Victorian era sought to make the Bible and its teaching a predominate social influence. They wished to create a widespread consensus of the Bible and its teaching by creating literature for both the poor and the rich and by making the Holy Scriptures available to all classes by creating Bibles that were affordable and in great supply. Hence, tract societies, Bible societies, and book publishing became a focus of their plan for reform. For the poor, Hannah Moore published penny tracts, and Wilberfoce wrote A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians, marked for the aristocracy. Later, Lord Shaftsbury, the great political reformer following Wilberfoce, would serve for years as the President of the British and Foreign Bible Society.
Secondly, Evangelicals preparing Victorian England for reform, and those within Victorian England, worked diligently to address and reform the horrors produced by the industrial revolution. Donald Lewis (Christian History) breaks down the century of reform into six areas: 1urban renewal, 2medical care, 3education, 4civil rights, 5prison reform, 6and child labor. The vehicles these Christian’s used to promote and effect change included legislation, magnificently financed social awareness campaigns targeted for the masses, and many volunteer societies.
Great instances of change occurred throughout the century. In work with the urban poor, the formation of the London City Mission brought hope and dignity. In medical care, “the Lady of the Lamp”, Florence Nightingale healed sickness and fought ignorance through her nursing skill and knowledge. She wrote the amazing work, Hospital Administration of the British Army. In Education, a great instance of working to bring reform was seen in the 1,500 charity schools founded by the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge. In reforming civil rights we see the valiant integrity of men such as the brilliant Thomas Chalmers who defended the rights of Catholics and Jews despite his distrust of them. Prison reform saw the astounding work of Elizabeth Frye who created clear reform goals for prisons and transformed the prison life of Newgate in such a way that it became a working model for “elevating” prisoners and bringing dignity to those who had been “tossed” by English society. Finally reform can be seen in child labor through the valiant efforts of grinding parliamentary reform combined with organized public campaigns against child slavery. Notably, Lord Shaftsbury tirelessly fought for the cause of the least, the last, and the lost through Parliament and in his private life. He helped to bring reforms to the mentally ill, children working sixteen hour work days, and a host of other causes within the thirty three societies that he was involved in.
Clearly, the above reforms initiated by Evangelicals, helped to shape Victorian England and its appeal to civility and decency. On the other hand, it also allowed many in later years to remove the reality of sin from the Christian World view and to advocate a vague and general morality that assumed human progress and goodness without the intervening grace of a God who sent his son to save a dying world.
The Reform of Manners
The third area of reform came through attacking the habits and customs that had decimated the nation’s culture. In an attempt to reform society, some English evangelicals ‘criticized amusements such as dancing, playing cards, theater going, the reading of novels and even Handel’s oratorios (Christian History). Hence, they were faced with opposition by moderates of English society. Nonetheless, the above amusements were only the extremes in the move to reform morality. At its base, the movement rightly fought against drunkenness, prostitution, gambling, and other serious threats to morality and civil society in Victorian England. The writing of Hannah Moore’s Thoughts on the Manners of the Great in 1788, the founding of the Lord’s Observance Society in 1831, and the 1872 licensing act to control the sale of alcohol were all positive examples of social change which made Victorian England the civil society that it became by the end of the 19th century.
Despite the secularizing effects of the Enlightenment and the industrial revolution, Evangelicals did a great deal to create Victorian England with all of it strengths and weaknesses. Primarily, they were able to integrate the gospel with a kind of social reform which resulted in increased civility and justice for England to the extent that the country went from being a pit of despair to being a paragon of decency and virtue.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Source: Moorman, P. 7-8; Who’s Who in Christian History: N. Hillyer
Monday, March 12, 2007
His thesis for the text was that God can do anything. Often, folks want to make the David and Goliath story into a story of beating the odds or taking on the big guy. You know how it goes. It’s the old, “Just muster up enough courage and you can do anything (for God)” kind of a sermon. This of course is just one more way of preaching works righteousness (being religious and thinking that you can earn God’s approval by digging deep inside of yourself). The reality of the whole of Scripture, and of the David and Goliath story, is that God came to rescue and save a people enslaved. They were weak, small, unknown, and not very cool. He chose these guys (see 1 Corinthians 1) so that he could show the world that he can do anything. And, when David wondered down into a valley to face a 9 foot giant, he had a snowballs chance in hell of beating him. God just loves situations like this. David simply believed that God could do anything and David was able to kill him with a little river rock. In the next few days, I will post Mike’s sermon. The best part of the sermon, in my opinion, is Mike’s story of God raising his son from the dead after he reluctantly received the Holy Spirit from an Anglican Bishop 26 years ago. We ended the service with these two songs.
Casting Crowns: Voice of Truth
Oh what I would do to have/ The kind of faith it takes/ To climb out of this boat I'm in onto the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone/ Into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is/ And He's holding out His hand
But the waves are calling out my name/ And they laugh at me/ Reminding me of all the times/ I've tried before and failed/ The waves they keep on telling me/ Time and time again, "Boy, you'll never win!"/ "You'll never win!"
But the Voice of Truth tells me a different story/ The Voice of Truth says, "Do not be afraid!"/ And the Voice of Truth says, "This is for My glory"/ Out of all the voices calling out to me/ I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of Truth/ Oh what I would do to have/ The kind of strength it takes/ to stand before a giant/ With just a sling and a stone
Surrounded by the sound of a thousand warriors/ Shaking in their armor/ Wishing they'd have had the strength to stand
But the giant's calling out my name/ And he laughs at me/ Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed/ The giant keeps on telling me/ Time and time again, "Boy you'll never win!"/ "You'll never win!"
But the Voice of Truth tells me a different story/ The Voice of Truth says, "Do not be afraid!"/ And the Voice of Truth says, "This is for My glory"/ Out of all the voices calling out to me/ I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of Truth
But the stone was just the right size/ To put the giant on the ground/ And the waves they don't seem so high/ On top of them lookin' down/ I soar with the wings of EAGLES/ When I stop and listen to the sound of Jesus/ Singing over me
But the Voice of Truth tells me a different story/ The Voice of Truth says, "Do not be afraid!"/ And the Voice of Truth says, "This is for My glory"/ Out of all the voices calling out to me (calling out to me)/ I will choose to listen and believe-
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of Truth/ I will listen and believe/ I will listen and believe the Voice of truth/ I will listen and believe/ Cause Jesus you are the voice of truth/ And I will listen to you, you are-
Chris Tomlin: How Great is Our God
The splendor of a King, clothed in majesty/ Let all the earth rejoice/ All the earth rejoice
He wraps himself in Light, and darkness tries to hide/ And trembles at His voice/ Trembles at His voice
How great is our God, sing with me/ How great is our God, and all will see/ How great, how great is our God
Age to age He stands/ And time is in His hands/ Beginning and the end/ Beginning and the end
The Godhead Three in One/ Father Spirit Son/ The Lion and the Lamb/ The Lion and the Lamb
Name above all names/ Worthy of our praise/ My heart will sing/ How great is our God/ How great is our God, sing with me/ How great is our God, and all will see/ How great, how great is our God
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Friday, March 09, 2007
From the 2006 Desiring God Conference
Speaker: Timothy Keller - Date: 30.09.2006
Categories: Systematic Gospel - Gospel - Culture
We never “get beyond the gospel” in our Christian life to something more “advanced.” The gospel is not the first “step” in a “stairway” of truths, rather, it is more like the “hub” in a “wheel” of truth. The gospel is not just the A-B-C’s of Christianity, but it is the A to Z of Christianity. The gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we all make progress in the kingdom.
We are not justified by the gospel and then sanctified by obedience but the gospel is the we grow (Gal. 3:1-3) and are renewed (Col 1:6). It is the solution to each problem, the key to each closed door, the power through every barrier (Rom 1:16-17).
It is very common in the church to think as follows: “The gospel is for non-Christians. One needs it to be saved. But once saved, you grow through hard work and obedience.” But Colossians 1:6 shows that this is a mistake. Both confession and “hard work” that is not arising from and “in line” with the gospel will not sanctify you—it will strangle you. All our problems come from a failure to apply the gospel. Thus when Paul left the Ephesians he committed them “to the word of his grace, which can build you up” (Acts 20:32).
The main problem, then, in the Christian life is that we have not thought out the deep implications of the gospel, we have not “used” the gospel in and on all parts of our life. Richard Lovelace says that most people’s problems are just a failure to be oriented to the gospel—a failure to grasp and believe it through and through. Luther says (on Gal. 2:14), “The truth of the Gospel is the principle article of all Christian doctrine… Most necessary is it that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.” The gospel is not easily comprehended. Paul says that the gospel only does its renewing work in us as we understand it in all its truth. All of us, to some degree live around the truth of the gospel but do new “get” it. So the key to continual and deeper spiritual renewal and revival is the continual re-discovery of the gospel. A stage of renewal is always the discovery of a new implication or application of the gospel—seeing more of its truth. This is true for either an individual or a church.
Listen Now - Download Audio Track
© 2006 Desiring GodWebsite: www.desiringGod.org
Toll Free: 888.346.4700
Monday, March 05, 2007
Truth Project Trailer
What is Truth?
What is Right and Wrong?
What is Evil?
Who is God?
What is the Meaning of Life?
What is Family?
What is Church?
What is Law?
What is Work?
From the Website
What's a Worldview Anyway?
"Worldview" is fast becoming a commonly used term. But do you know what it really means? Dr. Del Tackett shares four important points to keep in mind when seeking to understand the meaning of "worldview."by Dr. Del Tackett
A recent nationwide survey completed by the Barna Research Group determined that only 4 percent of Americans had a "biblical" worldview. When George Barna, who has researched cultural trends and the Christian Church since 1984, looked at the "born- again" believers in America, the results were a dismal 9 percent.
Barna's survey also connected an individual's worldview with his or her moral beliefs and actions. Barna says, "Although most people own a Bible and know some of its content, our research found that most Americans have little idea how to integrate core biblical principles to form a unified and meaningful response to the challenges and opportunities of life."
1. What's a worldview?
A worldview is the framework from which we view reality and make sense of life and the world. "[It's] any ideology, philosophy, theology, movement or religion that provides an overarching approach to understanding God, the world and man's relations to God and the world," says David Noebel, author of Understanding the Times.
For example, a 2-year-old believes he's the center of his world, a secular humanist believes that the material world is all that exists, and a Buddhist believes he can be liberated from suffering by self-purification.
Someone with a biblical worldview believes his primary reason for existence is to love and serve God.
Someone with a biblical worldview believes his primary reason for existence is to love and serve God.
Whether conscious or subconscious, every person has some type of worldview. A personal worldview is a combination of all you believe to be true, and what you believe becomes the driving force behind every emotion, decision and action. Therefore, it affects your response to every area of life: from philosophy to science, theology and anthropology to economics, law, politics, art and social order — everything.
For example, let's suppose you have bought the idea that beauty is in the eye of the beholder (secular relative truth) as opposed to beauty as defined by God's purity and creativity (absolute truth). Then any art piece, no matter how vulgar or abstract, would be considered "art," a creation of beauty.
2. What's a biblical worldview?
A biblical worldview is based on the infallible Word of God. When you believe the Bible is entirely true, then you allow it to be the foundation of everything you say and do. That means, for instance, you take seriously the mandate in Romans 13 to honor the governing authorities by researching the candidates and issues, making voting a priority.
Do you have a biblical worldview? Answer the following questions, based on claims found in the Bible and which George Barna used in his survey:
Do absolute moral truths exist?
Is absolute truth defined by the Bible?
Did Jesus Christ live a sinless life?
Is God the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe, and does He still rule it today?
Is salvation a gift from God that cannot be earned?
Is Satan real?
Does a Christian have a responsibility to share his or her faith in Christ with other people?
Is the Bible accurate in all of its teachings?
Did you answer yes to these? Only 9 percent of "born- again" believers did. But what's more important than your yes to these questions is whether your life shows it. Granted, we are all sinners and fall short, but most of our gut reactions will reflect what we deep-down, honest-to-goodness believe to be real and true.
3. How does a biblical worldview get diluted?
Here is the big problem. Nonbiblical worldview ideas don't just sit in a book somewhere waiting for people to examine them. They bombard us constantly from television, film, music, newspapers, magazines, books and academia.
Because we live in a selfish, fallen world, these ideas seductively appeal to the desires of our flesh, and we often end up incorporating them into our personal worldview. Sadly, we often do this without even knowing it.
For example, most Christians would agree with 1 Thessalonians 4:3 and other Scriptures that command us to avoid sexual immorality, but how often do Christians fall into lust or premarital and extramarital sexual sin? Is it simply because they are weak when tempted, or did it begin much earlier, with the seductive lies from our sexualized society?
4. Why does a biblical worldview matter?
If we don't really believe the truth of God and live it, then our witness will be confusing and misleading.
If we don't really believe the truth of God and live it, then our witness will be confusing and misleading. Most of us go through life not recognizing that our personal worldviews have been deeply affected by the world. Through the media and other influences, the secularized American view of history, law, politics, science, God and man affects our thinking more than we realize. We then are taken "captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ" (Colossians 2:8).
However, by diligently learning, applying and trusting God’s truths in every area of our lives — whether it's watching a movie, communicating with our spouses, raising our children or working at the office — we can begin to develop a deep comprehensive faith that will stand against the unrelenting tide of our culture's nonbiblical ideas. If we capture and embrace more of God's worldview and trust it with unwavering faith, then we begin to make the right decisions and form the appropriate responses to questions on abortion, same- sex marriage, cloning, stem-cell research and even media choices. Because, in the end, it is our decisions and actions that reveal what we really believe.
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2).
Dr. Del Tackett is president of the Focus on the Family Institute. He is also the visionary and teacher for Focus on the Family’s The Truth Project—a nationwide initiative designed to bring the Christian worldview to the body of Christ.Copyright © 2005 Focus on the Family
Saturday, March 03, 2007
The Forbidden Fruit …
One morning I woke up earlier than usual, and right away I decided to paint, but I could not find any canvas in my studio. My family was still asleep, so quietly, still in my pajamas, I searched my art closets and found one small canvas that I’d worked on a few years ago, but later gessoed it in black. After my prayer I began painting a young woman’s portrait. next to a branch of fruit. Suddenly I felt God say, blend all the races, because this is Eve, the mother of all mankind. Right then and there, I understood the meaning: The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is full of forbidden fruit: red for the knowledge of evil, the green for the knowledge of good. It was created to be tempting, fragrant and easy to be picked. Although the fruit resembles the grapes, it was not. At first, Eve thinks that she will gain wisdom by biting into the fruit of knowledge, but unexpectedly she finds the deception as the red blood of suffering drips from the green fruit. The knowledge of good and evil is simply too much to understand and experience for a human, and now Eve is looking up to God for forgiveness and help… Akiane
I painted Mary in a silky blue robe surrounded by a background palette of cerulean, cobalt and Persian blue. This is how I interpreted the vision of baby Jesus and his beautiful young mother. The robe connects both of them as if there were one. Mary is the symbol of love, warmth, affection, tenderness and devotion. Her story is the story of love and faith. What other mother can call her son her heavenly father? Hers is the most unusual life: to protect and raise the Savior. Mary with her tender love embraced Jesus at birth, embraced him on the Cross and embraced him on his resurrection. That is why the lower hand in a shadow is her witnessing the crucifixion, and the upper hand in light is her witnessing both the birth and the resurrection.