In the fifth grade I started playing the trumpet in the school band. Well, that’s not entirely true. In the fifth grade I started making awful, brassy noises that could only loosely be called “playing.” But, I learned about musical notation, which fingers to push down, tuning, breathing, and all the fundamentals needed to actually play a trumpet. It was often boring and time-consuming–and sometimes painful (you don’t know what buzzing your lips together in a small brass bowl can do to you until you have tried to do it for an hour straight). Continue reading
Music allows us to express our emotions in ways we would not be able to without music. The lyrics to our hymns are thoughtful and challenging, but the songs are moving and inspirational. The message of the hymn has more impact with the music because it is more emotional with the music. Just imagine the infamous funeral scene when a parade of police officers walks somberly through city streets, memorializing a fallen colleague, with the bagpipes playing Amazing Grace in the background. Continue reading
Worship is not just meant for God. In fact, Paul told the Greek (geek?) philosophers at the Areopagus that God is not “served by human hands, as though he needed anything.” (Acts 17:25). We could certainly say that God wants and enjoys our worship, but not that He needs it. But, we do–for several reasons. Continue reading
Music is important to God. This idea is not more clear than in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16:
addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart…
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
David had a heart for his God. So, when David realized that he lived in a beautiful palace while God’s house was a tent, he felt guilty. He wanted to build God a proper house. And, God said, “Okay. But, you won’t build it. Your son will.”
In 1Chronicles 25, David arranges 4,000 of the Levites into singers and musicians to serve as a temple choir. This is a little surprising because in all of the instructions about worship in the tabernacle, God gave no legislation concerning musical worship.
God kept David in the loop, though. Continue reading
Richard Beck, a professor and experimental psychologist at Abilene Christian University, offered some interesting and personally challenging insights about online social networking in a recent blog article. You can read his article by clicking here (warning: some of you may find the article dangerously boring…but I am a nerd, so I enjoyed it).
To sum up, the subject Beck was addressing was the impact of Twitter, Facebook, and other forms of social media on social activism. In other words, does Twitter help organize efforts to feed the poor and correct other social injustices, or does it only serve as an outlet to vent frustrations over injustices without providing the connections and motivations necessary to fuel the real, difficult work of actually feeding the poor? Will Twitter move people to work on the problems, or just talk about them? Continue reading
Several years ago, I had a friendly but intense conversation with a gentleman about the nature of God. He didn’t believe in the concept of the Trinity, that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all God. We spent some time discussing the most common scripture references that seem to have something to say on the subject. After our discussion had moved quickly through several of these scriptures, and the weight of the conversation was on him to explain his position, he made a comment that I have not forgotten, though most of the rest of the discussion has slipped from my mind. He said something like this, “You know, the idea that God is three persons always bothered me even before I became convinced of my view.”
More recently, I had another conversation with a young man who says he doesn’t believe that Christians should meet every Sunday as we do today. Continue reading
Today I joined a group of Christian men, mostly preachers and other church leaders, for lunch, conversation, and some spiritual encouragement. Lunch was good. (just kidding Jake and Mike.)
Anyway, my friend and techno-neanderthal Jake King had some thoughts to share with the group about men and spirituality. He had been reading a book called “Why Men Hate Going to Church.” Jake shared some information about the disparity between male and female church attendance (there are 13 million more women in American churches than men). He discussed the trend in church life to have more women-oriented events than men-oriented events: ladies’ Bible classes, ladies’ brunches, ladies’ days, women’s retreats versus the occasional men’s retreat or men’s breakfast. He also shared some thoughts from the book about why this might be the case and what we, as Christians and/or church leaders, might be able to do to help the problem. Continue reading
I try to imagine, sometimes, what it would be like as a new Christian in first century Rome. How hard would it be to leave my former life, either as an orthodox Jew, or a Samaritan worshiper of Jehovah, or a gentile worshiper of the gods? What would have to change in my home life? My work life? My politics and philosophy? What would it be like to hear Paul or Peter preach? To meet someone who could still recall the gentle inflections in Jesus’ voice, and the wrinkles in the corners of His eyes? Continue reading
I loved going to youth rallies when I was a teen. I loved seeing kids my age gathered together for a purpose. I loved the uplifting speakers. I loved the wonderful singing and powerful worship. I loved the mountain-top experiences.
And I still do.
But, I have to be careful not to measure the success in my spiritual life by these experiences, by how encouraged I feel, or how “spiritually energized” I am. Not every spiritually successful experience is a mountain-top experience. In fact, the prophets show us otherwise. Continue reading