Thursday, February 05, 2004

Also, there may have been gaps in the postings for the book of Colossians. Anyone missing some questions can e-mail me and I will re-post them or give them to you personally.
Today, I am posting the questions from our first Bible study this semester. As always, thanks to "The Gentle Dragon" Chris Yee for his assistance. Enjoy 1 John 1.

If you had to summarize this passage with one thought, if someone said, “What is the point of 1 John 1?” what would you say?

Why does John mention all those senses (“we have seen…we have touched…we have heard”)? (v. 1)

What is very clear about the person of Christ from v. 1? (Look at John 1:1; they’re very similar on purpose) Why would John and other disciples share what they’ve seen and heard?

What is the joy John speaks of in v. 4?

What does it mean that God is light, and in him there is no darkness? (v. 5)

Could the same be said of us?

What does “while we walk in darkness” mean in v. 6?

What does fellowship have to do with walking in the light?

How does God deal with those who confess their sins? What does that tell us about God’s character?

Can any of us claim to be without sin? If we did, what are we?

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

I voted today, in the Democratic Primary. I felt stinkin' patriotic, too. There's something beautiful about people taking the time to grapple with the issues, and do what's best for their country. Even when it's the opposing party, or preferences don't quite square. This blog remains as apolitical as possible, but I want to encourage people to vote whenever possible. It's a wonderful thing.
A Short List of Groundbreaking (music I like) Albums Since 1980:

"Thriller" by Michael Jackson
"Weezer (The Blue Album)" by Weezer
"For the Cool in You" by Babyface
"The Day" by Babyface
"Waking Up the Neighbours" by Bryan Adams
"Blue Clear Sky" by George Strait
"George Strait" by George Strait
"August and Everything After" by the Counting Crows

Honorable Mention:

"Siamese Dream" by Smashing Pumpkins
"II" by Boyz II Men
"Tender Lover" by Babyface

No list is ever complete, and they are always arbitrary. But now you know what I listen to, and you folks older than me can explore stuff you're perhaps not used to.
I know there are tons of kids fighting horrific childhood diseases, but when I saw my friends at a neighboring church praying for a little girl among them, and I saw her father tell the story to the congregation (and exhorting us to keep praying) it just broke my heart. I thought of my sister, and how I'd rather take that myself if I could, than have a little one go through that. I know, I know, be careful what you ask for. But that's how I felt.
I don't want the last post to read as necessarily an indictment of "contemporary worship." It's not at all. What I am saying is that the church's strangeness to the wider culture is not the most pressing problem we face. In many contexts, that is her strength. Only true revival, from God Himself, will make our message fresh and exciting. Most proponents of "contemporary worship" who understand the true place of worship know that what is contemporary today may be old hat in 50 years. If someone ministers to a population wholly unfamiliar with Christian history and hymnody, those kinds of choices make sense. But some do not even think of the church catholic when deciding how to worship. As with many things, they reap what they have sown; namely, notions of growth and piety centered around emotion and the senses, and a lack of appreciation for the saints who have gone before. Therefore, as we write new songs and new liturgies, we must ask, "Will those after me be edified by what I leave them?" Will they look fondly upon our efforts to sing, to pray, and confess Christ? I hope a lot of pastors in the future say, "Man, this is an old melody, but these are great words. Great words from great saints of the past."

Monday, February 02, 2004

Relevance and the Demeaning of Tradition

Beginning in the 1960s and '70s, as Christian leaders witnessed the rather open challenges to authority and doctrine, as well as practice, some said that churches needed to compete with market-driven strategies to keep peoples' attention. Lights, guitars, and PowerPoint sermons popped up. "Relevance" was the buzzword, and it still is. I'm not the first to write about this, but I have a message for all those who advocate that Christ's church needs an update: go away. We evangelicals instinctively know that good Biblical doctrine needs little revision, (if any) but what about our practice, our liturgy? There are segments of evangelicals who believe that liturgy killed the Gospel. To be somewhat crass, we broke away from Rome because it was boring. So you say structure kept the Word of God from saving souls? I beg to differ. I have heard some say we need some sort of revolution in church, and the way we think about worship. I hear them saying folks won't like those dusty old hymns, and creeds, and responsive readings. College students need something to keep their attention, they say. Was Jesus' ministry boring? Was He not able to capture attention? Are you going to say the Resurrection needs a little dressing up? Millions and millions of teenagers and young adults were saved by this Gospel done the "old way" before you came along. Nothing personal, but souls were thrilled by the work of Christ long before Third Day or Twila Paris. Readers out there need to take this as a rebuke if they're afraid of the word "church." If you think you need to get your foot in the door for Christ before anyone will listen, we need to talk. If you walk into a structured service and automatically think, "The Spirit of God is not moving here," then you've fallen prey to this culture of felt needs. Do you only see passion in tilted heads and raised hands? If so, you may have unintentionally called the body of Christ dead where it is (and we are) very much alive. Someone should think maybe the problem is not with the presentation, but with our hearts. Save your revolutions. We had one at the Hill of the Skull so long ago, and we don't need another.