Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday Fun: Failed Church Sign Pun

I'm a pun master. Ask anyone at my church and they'll roll their eyes and confirm this about me.

And even I think this pun doesn't quite work . . .

HT: Ed Stetzer

Thursday, May 29, 2014

My Favorite "Kyrie"

Call this a throwback Thursday, if you must. But this is my favorite "Kyrie" movement of any musical mass, ever. Branching beyond the structured masses of the 18th and 19th centuries, the Swiss composer Frank Martin (who hid his written works for years because he considered them a personal devotional experience) did well to capture the desperate sorrow of confession of sin to a Holy God, while cleverly walking the borderline of atonality.

Below is a video of my college choir performing this "Kyrie" movement of Frank Martin's mass. I'm stage left in one of the back rows without a full goatee, and my mezzo-soprano then-girlfriend (now wife) is another row below to my right.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Rethinking Subsequent Memorial Days

There's been a lot of research, by Christians and others, into the history of various holidays. It's good to search for the true meaning and purpose of various days off of work before such days are watered down by huge sales and vacation opportunities. Such re-thinking has been notably done, for example, in regards to Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Mother's Day and has rightfully challenged how we acknowledge such days beyond tossing some extra money into a kitsch-business bank.

So, how about Memorial Day?

I stumbled over a challenging post this morning. I think it's worth a read (despite one PG-rated word).

I don’t have a clue how it is that Memorial Day became so intricately intertwined with one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year. I don’t know how the marketing team at JC Penney or Macy’s or Target decides that there is no better weekend or way to honor the fallen than to advertise blockbuster deals.

What are ways we can properly utilize Memorial Days in the future? Thoughts?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday Fun: "Royals" Kansas City Parody

I'm no Royals fan, but this is a parody song I've long imagined, and it turns out someone out there made it happen! This is for the fistful of Kansas City sports fans friends/family of mine out there.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Church with Diverse Excellencies

In our American Church where ministry is oversimplified, truncated and even polarized, these are very wise words in a vision statement by Kevin DeYoung:

The reason we want to be a church of diverse excellencies is because God is a God of diverse excellencies. He is sovereign, powerful, omniscient, and holy. And he is merciful, patient, wise, and loving. If we are a church with lopsided virtues we will not reflect the character of God who is perfect in all his ways.
Neither will we reflect Jesus. You want to know why theology matters? It matters because we become what we worship. Therefore, we need to know what God is like and what Jesus is like. If we have a lopsided Lord, we will become lopsided Christians.

You can read the rest here

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Romanian Prayer

Five years ago, I had the privilege of serving in Romania. I volunteered at two children's camps, and then I was part of a miniature orchestra that went on a little tour, playing music and preaching the Gospel.

My musical training was well-utilized (I arranged songs for the orchestra, used my synthesizer for the children's camp worship times as well, and they played a piece I had written the original Koine Greek of Col. 3:12-14). But I felt I learned so much more about the works of God from the passion, maturity of the people I served with in Romania. I'm, therefore, thankful that Trevin Wax was able to articulate some of the things we should glean from our Romanian brothers and sisters in Christ (in this case, prayer).

You can read his article here.  

Monday, May 19, 2014

Open Season on Commencement Speakers

I think a job that currently scaling the ranks of "Most Dreaded" has to be that of recruiting commencement speakers for college graduation ceremonies. Protesting them and shutting them down seems to be a sport today.

I don't agree with everything said in this New York Times piece, but I think the columnist raises some good points and questions about this issue. Is a commencement speaker meant to inspire and/or challenge graduating students to show excellence and grace in their futures? Or is his/her presence or un-invitation reduced to a political statement, regardless of how little their political views play into their purpose in speaking?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday Fun: How to Speak Northern Irish

The drummer and spokesman of Rend Collective, a rising worship ensemble from Ireland, took some time recently to teach Northern Irish to a few Christian ministry leaders in the U.S., as well as sometimes learning various other dialects. It's quite hilarious and fun. Links below:

LeCrae learns Northern Irish.

Francis Chan learns Northern Irish.

MercyMe's Bart Millard learns Northern Irish.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Generations Numbed by Social Media

I witnessed a convicting lecture on social media in Los Angeles last year, and it's now available to view online. Kara Powell of the Fuller Youth Institute delivers it, CJ Cregg style.

You can watch it here. It's 18 minutes you'll be glad you spent online.

HT: Kara Powell and QIdeas

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Giving Advice

Some good insights here.

Giving advice goes poorly so often, it is worth more careful thought about how we give it. We all need advice. We seek it every day. That is a wise and natural part of being a creature rather than the Creator. But we also know that advice can run from helpful to horrible, and it can bless a relationship or hurt it.
HT: Ed Welch

Monday, May 12, 2014

Music and Meaning: All Forms are Valid

I read some thoughts this morning from Harold Best. His thoughts and works have always been foundational . . . and challenging. Seriously, I often need to re-read some of his paragraphs. Then I'll go into a musical-philosophical quandary for half an hour, and then I'll come back and read some more. This stuff is real meat.

According to Scripture, God granted humankind extraordinary sovereignty over what He made, and by extension, over what it makes.  Music does not make itself.  We bring it into being, and it is neither one with us (we are not the music) nor empowered over us.  If we allow this order to be reversed, the result is inevitable: We become shaped by what we have shaped and by allowing this, have turned to idolatry. But if music is in submission to us and not the reverse, we offer it freely as an act of worship—no more and no less—and are thus delivered from depending on it as a cause of worship. Even when we talk about music being an aid to, or tool for, worship, we are flirting with sovereignty-reversal, especially in this culture of narcissism and power mongering.  Furthermore, if I look to music as an aid, and end up in a worship service where the music is stylistically upsetting or even offensive, does it then become an aid to non-worship?  Not as long as I understand that the Holy Spirit is the sovereign Aid to worship, who can neutralize any temporary circumstance.  Likewise, if I find myself in a musical setting that is rhapsodically wonderful, I must remember that the beauty of the music cannot approach the glory and wonder of Almighty God. 

You can read the rest here. HT: 9Marks

Friday, May 9, 2014

Friday Fun: Skit Guys' "Mom Goggles"

Thought this was a clever little video. Have a great Mothers Day weekend!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

National Church League Mock Draft

Reposted from previous. The following is intended as agenda-free parody to commemorate the NFL Draft, taking place tonight. All names and stories portrayed are fictional and any similarity to actual persons or events is coincidental. 

Annually, late April and May is an exciting time for all churches in the U.S. It’s right after Lenten season and it’s the time when most seminaries are having their graduation ceremonies and sending a plethora of promising talent into the ministry market. Many commentators have been weighing in, but here is my guess as to how the top recruiting churches will partake of the upcoming draft.

No. 1 Pick - Maplestream Community Church -  John Patterson, Senior Pastor
(Stott Seminary)
This pick is almost obvious. Maplestream is recovering from a rough year. Their previous senior pastor left to serve as a missionary trainer in Uganda, but unfortunately the rest of the staff has been struggling to properly restructure. The well-known megachurch dropped its attendance by 30% in 8 months. Most would be surprised if they didn’t utilize their awarded top pick on Patterson. Unlike a lot of recent seminary graduates, Patterson enters the ministry market for the second time. He’s a good exegetical communicator and an experienced shepherd, and has led a few church plants and small, sometimes dysfunctional churches for 25 years and has just finished his formal education, magna cum laude. Add to that the fact that Patterson has background in the metropolitan area where Maplestream resides. A minor question mark is if he can handle a megachurch.
No. 2 Pick - West Bluff Church - Devin Castigliano, Worship Arts Pastor
(Wyclif Divinity School)
West Bluff is trying to end the plateauing period of what was once impressive growth in membership. Rumor has it that the elders and the program staff have been frequently talking about the strong possibility of venue services. Castigliano finished his MDiv while serving as a top Associate Worship Leader at Benchmark (a venue service church) under the mentorship of the well-known Josh Rafael, and he has the qualifications and experience to oversee multiple services. However, Castigliano’s skills could be rendered useless if the West Bluff leadership decides to remain with its “blended services” approach (which is not arguably efficacious in West Bluff’s context) or if the current worship leaders can accept his oversight.
No. 3 Pick - Elk Path Baptist Church - Ryan Britten, Youth Pastor
(Edwards Seminary)
The membership of Elk Path went down, mostly estimated due to the absence of a strong Christian education program for teens and young adults. If Britten is drafted, he would be Elk Path’s first youth pastor. Britten only has part-time experience (though significant) under his belt, but he showed great skills, promise and humility at the scouting combine. The question on the minds of most commentators is if Elk Path’s leadership is expecting the “attraction model” (now being reevaluated by bloggers), because Britten will probably bring something else.
No. 4 Pick - The bridgeCROSSing - Phineas Murphy, Lead Pastor
(San Luis Obispo Theological Seminary)  
The bridgeCROSSing is the latest addition to a fast-growing church planting movement in the Portland area, started by pastor/author Kyle McLellan. Unfortunately, two of Portland’s well-known companies had to make a lot of layoffs that same month, diverting the attention McLellan and other leaders from helping bridgeCROSSing during its public launch, including the appointment of a lead pastor. The bridgeCROSSing has been having only intermittent growth while juggling guest preachers, so Murphy, with his education, experience and West Coast background, is an apparent-best pick for this leader-less church with potential.
No. 5 Pick - Woodfield Bible Church - Jeff Gundersen, Executive Pastor
(Kletos Seminary)
While the senior pastor at Woodfield Bible is an educated and charismatic visionary, the church has mostly plateaued in its membership and struggled financially and organizationally since their relocation to a newly-built facility. Gundersen, arguably, has the most eye-catching testimony of all the draft picks: a successful CEO, who stepped down after his conversion and felt call into ministry, he’s been well-funding ministries and charities all across New England. If he’s Woodfield Bible’s first Executive Pastor, there’s no doubt he would help to get things in order and add to the community. There is question, though, what his job description would be, including in relation to the senior pastor, his younger superior. There’s also been talk of Woodfield Bible trading down.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Pitfalls to Court Prayer?

Carl Esbeck, a Christian and a constitutional law scholar, raises some good points about the Supreme Court's decision allowing the government of suburban Rochester (NY) to continue its ten year tradition of opening its meetings with a Christian prayer.

Ted Olsen of ChristianityToday disagrees.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

"Gospel of Jesus's Wife" A Forge

Karen L. King/Associate Press
It is perhaps understandable that Ms. King would have been taken in when an anonymous owner presented her with some papyrus fragments for research. What is harder to understand was the rush by the media and others to embrace the idea that Jesus had a wife and that Christian beliefs have been mistaken for centuries. No evidence for Jesus having been married exists in any of the thousands of orthodox biblical writings dating to antiquity. You would have thought Thomas Aquinas might have mentioned it. But this episode is not totally without merit. It will provide a valuable case study for research classes long after we're gone and the biblical texts remain.

You can read the whole story from the Wall Street Journal here.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Two-faced Christians of Social Media?

"He’s actually really nice,” a friend told me. “Way nicer than he is on Twitter.”
My friend had just come back from a humanitarian trip with a semi-famous Christian leader who is very active and vocal on social media. This leader doesn’t have the most complimentary social media reputation, and for good reason—he can be snide, argumentative and… sort of a jerk. But here was my friend, going on about his intelligence, poise and kindness.
You’ve no doubt experienced this disconnect. You’ve encountered someone on social media who at their best made you angry, and at their worst made you want to fight them in real life. If you’re a Christian, you’ve likely had at least one experience where you see someone tweet who has “Christ-follower” in their bio and you wonder: “If that’s a Christ-follower, then no thank you.”
It’s no secret social media has changed the way we communicate and have access to one another. But why has it loosed monsters among us? And where were those monsters before?
You can read the rest here.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Thursday, May 1, 2014

9 Things You Should Know About the National Day of Prayer

Today is the National Day of Prayer, an annual day of observance celebrated by Americans of various faiths. Here are nine things you should know about the day when people are asked "to turn to God in prayer and meditation."

HT: Joe Carter