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
A man was arrested for murder. He didn’t set out to kill anyone, just to get some extra cash to pay the rent. But, the convenience store clerk went for a weapon under the counter, and the thief fired the handgun he brought for the robbery before he could suppress his defensive instincts. 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
In a March, 2009 Tokens Radio Show interview, Brad MacLean, a former corporate lawyer who now serves as an advocate and attorney for death-row inmates, and one who opposes capital punishment, related a letter that he had once read that illustrated the reasons behind his career choice. An article in The New Yorker had put together various arguments for and against the death penalty. One particular argument opposing the death penalty asked the readers to consider, before supporting capital punishment, whether or not they could throw the switch for the electric chair. A rabbi wrote a letter to the editor responding to that particular argument. He said that after considering the horrible, heinous nature of the crimes committed by some of the murderers on death row, he had no doubt that he could enthusiastically pull the lever that would kill one of these inmates. 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
I was four when the Challenger space shuttle exploded during launch. I vaguely remember hearing the news. I don’t remember hearing Reagan’s speech.
I wasn’t even close to being born in the Apollo 11 era, or even during the Apollo 13 crisis. I saw the movie, though.
I do, of course, remember the Columbia tragedy eight years ago, though I am not sure if I watched George W.’s address. Right now, I am watching Discovery as it sits on the runway following a successful mission and landing, and all the support trucks and vans lining up to remove the crew from their vessel. 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.
Slavery. What an incredibly inhumane concept. What kind of pride does it take to believe that you can own another human being? Of all the awful sins of humanity, this should rank near the top of the list.
The Bible, however, with all of its condemnation of sin and prohibition of inhumane activities, seems to say little against the practice of slavery. Actually, I am no longer convinced that that is true. Especially after studying Philemon, I am now persuaded that the Bible says plenty to condemn slavery, just not in ways we expect. Continue reading
If I had a nickel for every time this Berenstain Bears scene played out in our home growing up (only my brother didn’t usually wear pink…). “Clean your room” were probably three of the most common words from our mother’s mouth. Though, a close second would be the three words she often shouted as she held a raised wooden spoon in her right hand: “Move your hands!”
In any case, we eventually learned that if we obeyed the first three words we could avoid the second three. Not that we always did, but at least we learned cause and effect. Continue reading
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