All posts in "Verbatim"

Connecting with Scripture thru music – new Nicole Nordeman


My personal feeling is that the perceived problem is the relevance of Scripture. It becomes harder to bring the mess of our modern questions to the pages of such a holy and sacred text, and find relevant answers. We are tempted to look solely through a cultural or historical lens, taking Scripture and the stories within, at face value. We want sound bites and CliffsNotes. We want easy acronyms from our pastor to help us remember the “takeaway” from a certain passage. I just don’t think Scripture can be read or absorbed like this. I was humbled and embarrassed as I dug further into this project to realize how I had marginalized some of these characters over time. I think people often shrug and walk away from the study of Scripture (and maybe from churches) because at first glance we don’t see the immediate connection between God’s people then … and now. We don’t see any connective tissue from our lives to theirs. And it’s just too much work for most of us to dig deep enough and long enough to unearth the treasure that is buried a few miles down. – Nicole Nordeman on “Stories”, her first album in six years.


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Pop-shaped worship


Unless an individual chooses to listen to different kinds of music, the only thing that individual will hear (most of the time) is pop. Sure, one’s sensibilities can be shaped deliberately, and many of us have developed tastes that we once did not have. (I spent years cultivating a taste for Brahms, whom I now love, and I spent about two years cultivating my appreciation for jazz.) If I did not believe that sensibilities could be cultivated, I wouldn’t have written the book; it is, in some senses, a plea to shape them differently from the way commercial pop culture shapes them. But for people who do not take ownership of the cultivation of their sensibilities, other cultural gatekeepers will shape them for them—and in this case, they will shape them to prefer pop. Professor T. David Gordon, author of “Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns”, interviewed by Christianity Today Is this something to be fought or ‘ridden out’?  What do you think?


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Is Christian worship for non-believers?


Yes, it can be, says Tim Keller, citing Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 14 as evidence: 1. Nonbelievers are expected to be present in Christian worship. In Acts 2 it happens by word-of-mouth excitement. In 1 Corinthians 14 it is probably the result of personal invitation by Christian friends. But Paul in14:23 expects both unbelievers and the unlearned (literally a seeker—“someone who does not understand”)to be present in worship. 2. Nonbelievers must find the praise of Christians to be comprehensible. In Acts 2 it happens by miraculousdivine intervention. In 1 Corinthians 14 it happens by human design and effort. But it cannot be missed thatPaul directly tells a local congregation to adapt its worship because of the presence of unbelievers. It is afalse dichotomy to insist that if we are seeking to please God we must not ask what the unchurched feel orthink about our worship. 3. Nonbelievers can fall under conviction and be converted through comprehensible worship. In 1 Corinthians14 it happens during the service, but in Acts 2 it is supplemented by after meetings and follow-up evangelism.God wants the world to overhear us worshiping him. God directs his people not simply to worship,but to sing his praises before the nations. We are not simply to communicate the gospel to them, but celebratethe gospel before them. Tim Keller, Evangelistic Worship, RedeemerCitytoCity.org Click to download:  Evangelistic_Worship TKeller


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The expressive and formative elements of worship


(W)orship, properly understood, “meets us where we are” in the way that the music and forms of our service allow us to express our love for God with authenticity and in a way that stresses the accessibility of our Savior. At the same time, however, we also must recognize that in addition to worship expressing our love, worship also forms our love. When we enter into worship week after week, our hearts are actually being shaped and taught how to adore him, how to give thanks for his goodness, how to confess our sins, and how have hope for the future. So the great challenge of creativity and excellence in worship leading, it seems to me, is to lead God’s people in worship that is deeply expressive, and at the same time forming us into the kind of worshipers that God would have us to be. Isaac Wardell of BiFrost Arts via The Resurgence


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Paul Simon’s new God-haunted album


“For someone who is not a religious person, God comes up a lot in my songs.” – Paul Simon The singer/songwriter – who began with partner Art Garfunkel in the late 60s as a folk duo – has a new album that is haunted by the idea (if not the person) of the Almighty. Getting Ready for Christmas Day is based on a 1940s sermon by Rev. G. M. Gates The Afterlife, Love and Hard Times, Questions for Angels Simon says in the promo video for the LP:  “There seems to be a theme in the album – not intentional…I noticed that after the first 5 or 6 songs, that God seemed to be in 4 or 5 of them.” You can stream the entire album from NPR First Listen for a limited time.


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Compassion is the best apologetic


CT interviewed Max Lucado about his book Outlive Your Life; You Were Made to Make a Difference, which includes this great exchange: What provoked your interest in poverty? About four years ago, a guy asked me what my great-grandchildren would think about my response to the one billion hungry people on the planet. I had neglected this area in my life and in my teaching. It led to a series I did for the church, which led to this book, which is based on the Book of Acts, about the Jerusalem church. When you study the first 12 chapters of Acts, you see how the church responded to things like hunger, bias, persecution, racial tension, and hypocrisy inside the church. You write, “Cut concern out of the Bible, and you cut the heart out of it.” How do you prioritize poverty among other issues? Compassion is the best apologetic. There are many controversial issues in our culture. The church should take a strong stance on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. But there’s something about compassion that causes society to say, “We’re going to take this person seriously.” Take Mother Teresa. She was confrontational on abortion, but she wasn’t rejected by society. Full interview here.


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The Gospel according to Bono


Building on a previous post, here’s a quote from the frontman of U2 courtesy of Worship.com: Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff…That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge…. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.


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Martin Luther on music


“I, Doctor Martin Luther, wish all lovers of the unshackled art of music grace and peace from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ! I truly desire that all Christians would love and regard as worthy the lovely gift of music, which is a precious, worthy, and costly treasure given to mankind by God… A person who gives this some thought and yet does not regard music as a marvelous creation of God, must be a clodhopper indeed and does not deserve to be called a human being; he should be permitted to hear nothing but the braying of asses and the grunting of hogs.” HT:  Bob Kauflin, Worship Matters


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The Gospel, discipleship and orphan care


Care for orphans is mercy at its most poignant, no doubt. But every act on behalf of the orphan also proclaims the Gospel, revealing to a watching world the heart of the God who “sets the lonely in families” (Psalm 68:5-6); it re-tells the story of the God who pursued and adopted us when we were destitute and alone. A passion for orphans also plunges believers into discipleship as well.   To care for orphans in any meaningful way most always requires personal, sustained involved in the life of a child.  In the process, we are drawn beyond a comfortable religion of self-actualization to a costly but vibrant faith; and there we encounter Jesus Christ as never before in the need, sorrow and beauty of the orphaned child. – Jedd Medefind, President of the Christian Alliance for Orphans via CatalystSpace.


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