This rings true to me…
Alistair Begg in his small book Preaching for God’s Glory outlines a number of caricatures of true preaching. He begins this section:
If churches or their pastors begin to think of the place from which messages are delivered to the congregation as a stage, it is inevitable that caricatures of the preacher will emerge to take the true preacher’s place. Sadly, this is precisely what has happened. In our day the expositor of Scripture has been eclipsed by a variety of sad substitutions.
Here they are, complete with paraphrases of what these entail:
- The cheerleader. The preacher’s task is to “pump them up.” He has a need to be liked or accepted, and aims to be positively inspirational. “A good Sunday for him is one where his people laugh a lot, are affirmed and affirming, and go away more self-assured than when they arrived. . . . A quest for…
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I’ve seen a few postings recently which suggest that what I thought was the long-past friction between “traditional” hymns and “praise songs” or “worship songs” is back, again – as if we follower of Jesus had nothing better to do than argue about what music we use…
Given this, I’ve dug out some items I’ve read over the years which help me see it a bit more clearly…
Praise Songs explained…
Not long ago a farmer went to the city one weekend and attended the big city church. He came home and his wife asked him how it was. “Well,” said the farmer, “It was good. They did something different, however. They sang praise songs instead of hymns.”
“Praise songs,” said his wife, “What are those?”
“Oh, they’re okay. They’re sort of like hymns, only different,” said the farmer.
“”Well, what’s the difference?” asked his wife.
The farmer said, “Well it’s like this – If I were to say to you:
`Martha, the cows are in the corn,’ well that would be a hymn. If, on the other hand, I were to say to you:
`Martha, Martha, Martha, Oh, Martha, MARTHA, MARTHA,
the cows, the big cows, the brown cows, the black cows,
the white cows, the black and white cows,
the COWS, COWS, COWS are in the corn,
are in the corn, are in the corn, are in the corn,
the CORN, CORN, CORN,’
Then, if I were to repeat the whole thing two or three times, well that would be a praise song.”
A young, new Christian from the big city attended the small town church one weekend. He came home and his wife asked him how it was.
“Well,” said the young man, “It was good. They did something different, however. They sang hymns instead of regular songs.”
“Hymns,” said his wife, “What are those?”
“Oh, they’re okay. They’re sort of like regular songs, only different,” said the young man.
“Well, what’s the difference?” asked his wife.
The young man said, “Well it’s like this – If I were to say to you, `Martha, the cows are in the corn,’ well that would be a regular song. If, on the other hand, I were to say to you:
Oh Martha, dear Martha, hear thou my cry
Inclinest thine ear to the words of my mouth.
Turn thou thy whole wondrous ear by and by
To the righteous, inimitable, glorious truth.
For the way of the animals who can explain
There in their heads is no shadow of sense,
Hearkenest they in God’s sun or his rain
Unless from the mild, tempting corn they are fenced.
Yea those cows in glad bovine, rebellious delight,
Have broke free their shackles, their warm pens eschewed.
Then goaded by minions of darkness and night
They all my mild Chilliwack sweet corn have chewed.
So look to that bright shining day by and by,
Where all foul corruptions of earth are reborn.
Where no vicious animal makes my soul cry
And I no longer see those foul cows in the corn.
Then, if I were to do only verses one, three, and four and do a key change on the last verse, well that would be a hymn.”
OK, so how about this piece by Ron Man, a Pastor of Worship and Music, in Church Musician Today, May 1999
Putting it all in perspective…
And He also told this parable to certain ones who trusted in themselves that their worship style was the only acceptable form:
Four men went up in to the temple to pray, two traditional music directors and two contemporary worship leaders.
One of the traditional music directors stood and was praying thus to himself, ‘God, I thank Thee that I am not like many other church musicians: untrained, unrefined, undignified, or even like these contemporary worship leaders. I program only the finest art music; I present only those works truly worthy of Thee.’
One of the contemporary worship leaders was standing off to the other side, praying like this: ‘O Lord, I thank You that I am not like many other church musicians: stuffy, inhibited, stuck in a rut of boring and irrelevant music of the past. I present only the very latest songs and reach people where they’re at.’
In another corner the other traditional music director and the other contemporary worship leader were kneeling and praying together.
The traditional music director prayed: ‘Lord God, You know how easily the striving for artistic excellence can become idolatrous. When I use my gifts, may I always remember that they come from Your hand, and that You delight in all of the genuine gifts of worship which Your children bring, in all of their variety.’
The contemporary worship leader prayed: ‘God, I only know four chords on the guitar, and I am not a polished performer; but I thank You for Your grace in allowing me to come near in worship, and for the privilege in leading others to Your throne. Thank You for all the different ways that Your people can praise You.’
“I tell you, these last two went away with their offerings of worship received by the Lord, rather than the others; for God is not so much concerned with the style of the musical gifts you bring, as He is with the humility of heart and genuineness of love with which you bring them.”
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:16-17)
Someone has brought to my attention a gruesome opportunity being offered to raise money for a Christian relief and development charity “Providers for Christ” – by Big Game Hunting; no, really…
Here’s the link:-
Three things need to be said:
- The link goes not to “Providers for Christ” but Emmanuel Christian Outreach – and the word provider doesn’t appear on their web-site
- None the less, Big Game Hunting “Christ’s Name” is repugnant. It happens to be legal – but that doesn’t make it acceptable.
- Of course it also provides an open target for both justified and unjustified criticism from the new atheist movement.
Come on people, wake up and smell the coffee. Baying for an innocent animal’s life “In Christ’s Name” is unacceptable nonsense.
Anyone claiming to be a Christian must take seriously the call to be co-creator with God and a good steward of the whole of creation. The charge to take control and rule over creation (Genesis 1:26-28) is set in the context of caring for it (Genesis 2:15); it’s God’s creation (Psalm 24:1, Psalm 50:10, Psalm 104:24, Colossians 1:16-17) after all. Jesus teaches that God cares for the whole creation (Matthew 6:26, Matthew 10:29) teaches in parables which applaud good agricultural care and stewardship (Matthew 25:14-30, Luke 12:35-46) and after being criticised for healing on a Sabbath states that care for animals (and therefore humans) is more important than religious ritual and rules (Luke 13:14-16, Luke 14:4-6).
Would you like to do something about this killing apparently “in Christ’s Name”??
You can sign on-line petitions at the links below:-
A couple of minutes is all it will take for you to sign these two petitions, what’s stopping you contributing to sorting out this horrific travesty?
As ever, more questions than answers. Surely a focus on Jesus, His mission, His model of working and His calling to follow must be central?
Musings for a Thursday morning, or questions I wrestle with.
- How does one change the culture of the church?
- How do we become more outward focused instead of inward focused?
- How do we develop a passion for the lost?
- How do we develop a willingness to do whatever it takes rather than settle for the easy option?
- How do we develop an abundance mentality instead of a scarcity mentality?
- How do we help people become generous with their time, talents, and treasures?
- How do we help get people looking forward and let go of the past?
- How do we stop people from standing on the brake and resisting progress?
- How do we encourage people to take greater risks rather than strive for comfort and status quo?
- How do we encourage people to pursue Christ and stop dabbling with sin?
- How do we help people stop making excuses for sin, compromise…
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There’s something gratifying about a nation which learns to cherish variety in its history and landscape…
1. Ennerdale, Cumbria. About 2000 BC to present
Longhouses at Smithy Beck. Image by Mick Garratt
Despite being clothed in over 1,200 hectares of coniferous plantations, the Ennerdale valley retains evidence for human occupation from the Bronze age through to the present day. New historic sites to have been identified include prehistoric cairnfields, numerous medieval settlements, and longhouses and an ironworking site.
2. Mere End Down Romano-British field system, Letcombe Bassett, Oxfordshire. AD 100 to 400
A fortuitous survival of earthworks representing a small part of a Romano-British field system which once extended for over 20 sq km across the Berkshire and Wessex Downs. The earth banks of the main field boundaries in the scheduled area stand over 1m high, and slighter traces of banks representing subdivisions of fields can also be seen.
3. Bournemouth War Memorial, Dorset. 1920-2
Image by Alwyn Ladell
Listed Grade II*, the memorial remains a…
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This is a good resume for thoughtful, engaged and intelligent conversation between genuinely open, faithful Christians and genuinely open sceptical Atheists – bring it on!
Great reflection for Easter from my brother-in-law (and In Christ!) Andrew…
Today my sons showed me their farms. Andrew, aged 12, took me around his grand-father’s farm where he has spent his spring break working. He took me to see the places where he had been filling empty post-holes, and other holes left by tree stumps and animals. He had filled them with soil, tamped them down and then re-seeded them. We went to the barn to collect straw that he spread over the seeded areas to protect the soon emerging grass.
We then went on a little tour in which he showed me the fox-hole where a local vixen is raising her cubs, the bird nest where a blue-bird is incubating six tiny blue eggs, and the two orphan calves, Sugar and Burma, who are now out in the field eating regular grass. It was wonderful to see Andrew’s delight in showing me all the signs of life on the…
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What kind of “family” do we think we are as churches if “The Household of Faith” is only accepting of those who already “fit” – and what does that say about our claim to be a community of grace?