Wednesday, May 31, 2006

My Wife Prays for Oprah

It is true. My wife has prayed for years that one day Oprah would become a follower of Jesus Christ. There is no question that Oprah’s fame and fortune would make her a very influential Christian, and it appears from recent programs that her thoughts are becoming more “Christian.” A few articles I read recently raise some concerns about her power and influence.

In this USA today article Chris Altrock, minister of Highland Street Church of Christ in Memphis says, “Winfrey believes there are many paths to God, not just one. After doing his doctoral research three years ago on postmodernism religion, a religious era that began in the 1970s as Christians became deeply interested in spirituality and less interested in any established church, he came up with what he calls "The Church of Oprah," referring to the culture that has created her.”

In his blog Mark Driscoll critiques, “Oprah seems to be a contradiction perfectly suited for a confused world of pluralism. She is a billionaire who speaks passionately about the pain and suffering in the world from the comforts of her sheltered life. She is among the most beloved icons of mothers yet she has never had any children. Many viewers tune in to learn how to improve their marriages yet she has never been married. And, she speaks of spiritual matters often and has an entire segment of her show titled "spirit," which makes you wonder which spirit she’s referring to.”

Though these critiques may seem harsh, we should certainly be cautious embracing people who represent a false gospel. On the other hand, Oprah has done a lot to help the suffering world around us. In the example set by my Godly wife, more Christians should be as quick to pray for famous people like Oprah as they are to criticize.

Monday, May 29, 2006

How the Early Christians Worshipped

In 155 a.d. the Christian philosopher and apologist Justin Martyr wrote an account about how the church worshiped in that day. I have included a link to the referenced article in Christianity Today here. In reading it you will see interesting references to the Trinity, communion (for believers only), the brining of offerings, the ministry of the Deacon, the teaching and reading of the Word, and several other interesting things.

In one reading it appeared Justin Martyr was asserting that baptism was performed for the remission of sins, which is not consistent with good Biblical doctrine. The other thing that Justin asserted (which is taught in the Catholic church) is that the Eucharist (bread) becomes the actual body and blood of Christ once consumed by the believer.

Anyhow, this is an interesting glimpse into one account of how some early Christians worshiped.

Camping Sterner Style

I hope you are all having a meaningful Memorial weekend. I just completed an overnighter in the tent with three of my five children. Fortunately, our back yard comes complete with woods and a fire pit, so the camping experience was quite authentic. An extension chord with oscillating fan and CD player also made the experience more pleasant. All this to say, it was good to have some dedicated family adventure time this weekend.

This Wednesday my family and I are departing to Nebraska for a 7-8 day trip to visit our families. The kids are anxious to see cousins and it should be a nice change of pace from the normal routine. While on the road, the blog entries may be a bit thin, but I will update when I can.

Until then, I hope you all have a restful weekend with a BBQ or two and, if like me, maybe even a few senior graduation receptions to attend. God bless!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Red Mountain Audio Clips

Justin Taylor has direct click audio links for most of the Red Mountain CD's I blogged about yesterday. If you want to listen in click here. To get the CD's you can link from my previous entry or link at the bottom of Justin's post.

BTW: If you are into reading blogs, Justin has one of the most read blogs in the Christian blogosphere. As his subtitle suggests, it is an interesting mix of theology, philosophy, politics, and culture. Check it out!

Common Grace and the Arts: A Question

Zach Nielsen had an interesting post on this issue a few days ago. You can see it here. In the post he was discussing the appropriateness of seeing movies like “Brokeback Mountain.” One point being that there are some amazing artistic qualities that give the movie value, despite its promotion of homosexuality. One argument for this view is that excellent art is a testimony of God’s grace. This thinking is supported in the doctrine of “Common Grace.” I’d like to expand on this…

According to Wayne Grudem, Common Grace is, “the grace of God by which he gives people innumerable blessings that are not part of salvation.” (Bible Doctrine, P.273) In other words, anything short of damnation is the result of God’s grace extended to both the believer and unbeliever. So, when you attend the symphony concert and you sense God’s presence, it is because of the grace of God. Anything good produced by or experienced by any person (again, whether a believer or not) is a testimony of the grace of God. This is why, I believe, good art of any form can give us this transcendent experience of awe and wonder that then leads us to worship God.

The fact that artistic excellence (in any form) has a redeeming quality, leads me to this question. Is there any art that demands a Christian boycott (speaking personally, not in a political sense), simply on the basis of the arts message or agenda, even if it is amazing art that has been recognized for outstanding artistic achievement? What is the line that we as Christians must not cross?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Welcome to Red Mountain

Thanks to Mr. Nielsen I have another recommendation for those of you who love the idea of marrying revived hymn texts with new music. In the spirit of the Indelible Grace ministry, Red Mountain Church in Birmingham, Alabama has released numerous hymn projects with new music based on old texts. Like my recent review of Sara McCracken’s new CD, this music is heavily acoustic and at times captures the country sound you’d expect to hear from Alabama. The musicianship and quality of the recording on the album I previewed is great. Of course, it is fun hearing these old theologically and poetically rich texts sung with youthful passion and vibrancy. If you’d like to check out some sound samples, you can simply click here.

In closing, I find this trend so fascinating. Postmodern churches seem to be grasping for an identity with the past. It leaves those of us who love the idea of rich meaningful texts somewhat excited about this new trend; however, as one of my associates pointed out, singing these songs in church still won’t win you any “hymn” brownie points. Despite this reality, it will be interesting to see if this new surge of music will seep its way into a more prominent place within mainstream evangelical churches.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Physical Expression in Worship

Bob Kauflin is doing multiple posts on physical expression in worship. Here is a clip from his most recent post on the subject. I'll pass the other points along as the are posted. This is certainly an issue I have wrestled with at Parkview.

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1. Teach on the appropriateness of physical expression in worshipping God.

Worship of God was never meant to be mere intellectual engagement with biblical truths. Nor is it limited to an inner emotional response. God created our bodies to glorify him (1 Cor. 6:20). We aren’t pursuing a Gnostic spirituality that downplays or negates the importance of the body in true spirituality (Rom. 12:1; Phil. 1:20). God commands us to love him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. That certainly includes the bodies he’s given us.

Many of the words that we translate as “worship” in both Greek and Hebrew contain the idea of bodily movement. The two most prominent words – histahawah in the Old Testament, and proskynein in the Greek – connote the idea of bending over at the waist or bowing down as an expression of homage. In addition, physical expression is both commanded and spontaneously modeled in Scripture as a way of giving God glory. (Ex. 12:27; Job 1:20; Ps. 47:1; Ps. 95:6). Those expressions include clapping, singing, bowing, kneeling, lifting hands, shouting, playing instruments, dancing, and standing in awe (Ps. 47:1; Eph. 5:19; Ps. 95:6; Ps. 134:2; Ps. 33:1; Rev. 15:2; Ps. 149:3; Ps. 22:23).

Some have pointed out that the New Testament contains few references to physical expression other than kneeling, singing, and lifting hands (although this last one isn’t emphasized too often). However, it’s not readily apparent that the bodily responses commanded in the Old Testament have been superseded or fulfilled in Christ’s high priestly work, or that we now obey them only in a “spiritualized” manner. (“I’m shouting in my heart.”) Rather, we need to seek to apply these Scriptures in a way that truly honors God and edifies the church.

The Builder and the Architect

A long time ago I told you all I would post a review from some of the music I purchased from Indelible Grace music. Well, here is a brief review about Sandra McCracken’s CD, The Builder and the Architect. To start, you should be aware that Indelible Grace’s mission is to revive old hymn texts by setting them to new music.

McCracken’s CD is very good. Her voice is very similar to Sara Groves who you may have heard on Christian radio on occasion. The style of McCracken’s album could be best described as folk/acoustic with very little use of the trap set. Most of the songs are very acoustic guitar driven most often with accordion, some electric guitar, percussion, and even banjo. A few of the songs are a little too country sounding for my taste, and the overall style is so similar, that I am not sure I could listen to this CD over and over again for a long period of time without it getting old.

All this to say that there is just something nice about hearing such meaty lyrics put to new melodies. I am not sure if this is because I like the feeling of being connected to something ancient or because it is refreshing hearing lyrics other than “I stand in awe at the power of your love….” etc…. Of course, the lyrical content gives one the ability to worship God with both my mind and spirit, which is great.

In closing, I recommend the album, especially if you enjoy the unplugged sound of acoustic/folk music. Sandra voice is very nice with an authentic "gravel" sound that fits great with the style. It is also very edifying hearing these old hymn settings set to relevant melodies.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Summer Teaching Series

Here’s a little preview of what’s coming this summer at Parkview. Our summer series will start June 10th and run through July 30th. The title is “GPS: God’s Plan for Success – The Wisdom of Proverbs.” Proverbs is a wisdom/poetic book in the Bible that was written by Solomon (and other sages of the day) as instructional material for young men (princes) to teach them how to succeed in life as they grew into adulthood. Here are the messages in the series:
  • Fear the Lord
  • Listen to Parents and Welcome Rebuke
  • Think Before You Follow
  • Trust in the Lord
  • Guard Your Heart
  • Intoxicating Love
  • Be Careful and Faithful
  • Avoid Temptation
I look forward to joining you for a wonderful summer of some practical instruction for successful living!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Isaac Watts: His Life and Hymnody (Part 2)

Here is a continuation of a paper I wrote several years ago on the life and hymnody of Isaac Watts. You can click here to read the first installment. The following is the second of three entries on an amazing man is known as one of the most influential of all hymn writers.
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As Watts grew older his intellectual capabilities were so impressive that a wealthy physician offered to pay his full tuition to one of England’s top Universities. Though the offer was almost too generous to turn down, Watt’s quickly did so, sighting that enrollment at these universities required one’s membership in and allegiance to the Anglican church (whose teachings were contrary to his Puritan beliefs). He instead attended a “dissenters” academy that was created for those who were barred from attending the universities associated with the Anglican church. Following his graduation from the academy, he became a tutor for five years. In these years Watt’s wrote hundreds of his hymns. In 1707 he issued his first hymnal “Hymns and Spiritual Songs”. In the next few years Watts became the assistant and then Pastor at an independent congregation in London. Unfortunately he became too sick to carry on the responsibilities of a Pastor. Due to these health reasons he was forced to move in with a friend Sir Thomas Abney. Having never regained his health, Watts spent the next 36 years of his life in the Abney’s home.

All his life Isaac Watts was riddled with physical health problems. As he grew to manhood Watts was known as a “A short man (five feet tall), his sickly body was capped with a disproportionately large head.” He once began corresponding with a woman who fell in love with his poetry. Unfortunately, when Watts finally met the woman she was so repelled by his sickly and awkward appearance that she wrote, “Mr. Watts, I only wish I could admire the casket (jewelry box) as much as I admire the jewel." Though he never married her, they remained friends for thirty years. Watt’s theology was so important to him that some believe it was the reason for his final and most severe physical deterioration. E.E. Ryden writes,

In addition to being a preacher and a poet, Watts was an ardent student of theology and philosophy, and wrote several notable books. Always frail in health from childhood, his intense studies finally resulted in completely shattering his constitution, and he was compelled to give up his parish.

As a philosopher and theologian “Watts published 52 other works, including a book of logic used in the universities, books on grammar, pedagogy, ethics, psychology, astronomy, geography, three volumes of sermons, and 29 treatises on theology.” For many years some of his writings were used as texts for university courses at both Oxford and Cambridge University. Students of Watts say Watts was “influenced heavily by the scientific discoveries of Boyle and Newton. These scientific philosophies of the day turned his attention toward nature and gave him an admiration for the created order of the universe. Much of this played out in the songs which are rich with natural imagery.”

Watt’s hymns were often very reflective of his theological belief system. This was both the foundation of their success as well as a source of controversy within the Christian community. As a seven year old he wrote the following verse that would reflect of one of his more controversial theological beliefs.

I am a vile polluted lump of earth
So I've continued ever since my birth;
Although Jehovah grace does give me,
As sure this monster Satan will deceive me.
Come therefore, Lord, from Satan's claws relieve me.

His belief in the “depravity” of man was included in his Children’s hymnal in 1713 entitled “Divine Songs for Children”. Though the majority of his hymns were warmly accepted, his ones that spoke of man’s wickedness were spitefully criticized. Ian Bradley wrote that Watt’s theology of teaching about hell to children was “a hangover from the wilder excesses of eighteenth-century evangelicalism and was to have less and less of a place in the more genteel atmosphere of Victorian hymnody.” John Mason Neale was just as critical of Watts as Bradley. Neale represents “the path the Oxford-Cambridge movement took toward an embrace of hymnody.” As a child he was forced to memorize many of Watts hymns from “Divine Songs for Children”. The strong beliefs of Calvinism terrified him and he was greatly offended by the Evangelical doctrines and teachings on conversion. He grew to hate these hymns and “vowed to free our poor children from the yoke of Watts.” He ultimately responded by writing his own hymn book for children “Hymns for Children” in 1842.

Twelve years after the publication of his first hymnal “Hymns and Spiritual Songs” Watts published “Psalms of David” in 1719. In his own words Watts said this hymnal was rendered “in the language of the New Testament, and applied to the Christian state and worship.” Some examples of the influence of the psalms in his writings are:

Psalm 72:
Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
Does his successive journeys run;
His Kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.

Psalm 117:
From all that dwell below the skies
Let the Creator’s praise arise;
Let the Redeemer’s Name be sung
Through every land, by every tongue.

E.E. Ryden noted several other examples of Watts hymns that were influenced by the psalms, writing:

No Christmas service seems complete without singing his beautiful paraphrase of Psalm 98, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come!” Another hymn, “O God, our help in ages past,” based on Psalm 90 is indispensable at New Year’s time, reminding us in language, both solemn and sublime, of the contrast between the brevity of human existence and the eternity of God

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Are You a PC or an Apple?

OK, I know that most of you are PC users, so you won't appreciate these ads. For one who used to be a mac user, then became a pc user, then became a mac user.... I can testify that these ads aint far from the truth.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

United 93

I just saw the movie “United 93” and wanted to comment briefly on it. First of all, it is a very well made movie that appeared to very carefully avoid bringing any political bias to the story (which we all know rarely happens in the movie industry). It was intense, painful, and emotional reliving those days again in such an intimate way. Outside of the value of remembering (in a memorial sense) all those who died that day, it was good to experience the courage of some who chose to stand up against the terrorists. There was almost a feeling of wanting to applaud in the theater when the men on flight 93 rose up to beat down the terrorists who held them captive. Of course, there was little hope that the plane would land safely, but the passengers on the plane knew that to not try to take control of the plane would be to passively accept their deaths (and the deaths of those the plane would hit) at the hands of fanatics.

All in all it is a movie worth seeing. Though it is probably too disturbing for some to endure, for others it will be an inspirational experience worth having. As a believer in Christ it encourages me to stand up and give my life for the cause of truth; knowing that my ministry, family, and future rest in the sovereign hand of God.

Summer Choir Schedule


I'll start by sharing the summer schedule and then make a few comments.

Summer 2006 (Updated: May 12, 2006)

Weekend Services: June 17-18
Rehearsals – June 7, 14

Weekend Services: July 1-2
Rehearsals – Jun 21, 28

Weekend Services: July 22-23
Rehearsals – July 12, 19

Weekend Services: August 19-20
NO REHEARSAL – July 26, Aug 2
Rehearsals – Aug 9, 16

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We have a bit of a break before we sing next for two reasons:

1. I am taking an early vacation this summer
2. We are planning to have a baptism service on June 10-11 that will have little music

Please note that all rehearsals will start at 6:15 pm in the atrium.

Also, please be sure to come to our "arts ministry" BBQ at the Boatman's on Friday, June 23rd. More details will be coming on that later.

For His Glory!


Friday, May 12, 2006

Cow Abductions

Ok, I am home sick again today!!! Ugh!!! I figured in light of my condition, a good laugh was in order. Check out this site to read about the alien cow abductions that have been happening all across the nation. Be sure to watch the video!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Isaac Watts: His Life and Hymnody (Part 1)

I did a research paper in grad school on Isaac Watts. He was best known as the "father of English hymnody" and the author of hymns such as "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" and "Joy to the World." His life story is an interesting read. Here is part one of several entries...

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Isaac Watts was a man whose passion for theology and love for words spilled over into a life that was consumed by faith and expressed in hymnody. Paul Westermeyer writes that “Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley were the chief English-speaking hymn writers of the eighteenth century.” Watt’s who was also known as, “The Father of English Hymnody”, contributed volumes of hymns to the church. These hymns have impacted Christians of all denominations and classes, and are still making an impact today. Following the tragedy in this country on September 11th, 2001 many of us watched the ecumenical service hosted in the Washington Cathedral where the words were sung “O God our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, our shelter from the stormy blast and our eternal home.” The words of Watts in this hymn are cutting just as deep and comforting just as powerfully as when they were first written in the early 18th century. (9) It is no wonder that his hymns still strike a cord in the heart of Christians today. They do so because they were born out of Watt’s own suffering as a clergymen in a persecuted vein of the church, and as a man who suffered his entire life with physical ailments. He was truly a man whose words were born out of life experience and whose gift to the church will continue to influence generations to come.

Isaac Watts was born July 27, 1674 in Southampton, England. He was the eldest of nine Children and was raised under the strong influence of his father who was an English Puritan and an outspoken dissenter from the Anglican Church. His father was a tremendous influence in both the intellectual and theological development of this young boy. At age four Watts began to learn Latin and in the following several years became a student of Greek, Hebrew, and French. Watts revealed his love for words and poetry at an early age. Legend tells that once his Father became so irritated by Isaac’s persistent rhyming that he began to whip him while Isaac cried out,

O father, do some pity take
And I will no more verses make!

Another childhood story tells of Watts blurting out with laughter during one of the family devotion times. When questioned by his father about the reason for his outburst, he declared that he had just seen a mouse crawl up the bell tower rope and he stated in verse:

A mouse for want of better stairs,
Ran up a rope to say his prayers.

The religious environment of Isaac’s youth was full of controversy and persecution. Watt’s Father fell subject to this persecution in that he was jailed on multiple occasions for his outspoken religious views as a Puritan and dissenter to the church of England. His mother actually gave birth to Isaac while his father was spending one of his several sentences in prison. It was said that, before and after her regular visits with his father, baby Isaac was often nursed by his mother on the front steps of the jailhouse. The Puritan belief system that Watts was born into, was greatly influenced John Calvin, the 16th century reformer. Puritans passionately agreed with Calvin’s message that the church needed to, "go back to what they could learn from the early church; Christian music (and other fundamental doctrines and practices) had to conform, with everything else, to what they read there."

Ironically, this religious system fought the use of hymns in worship, believing that the Psalms were the only appropriate text for church singing. Watt’s would later be quoted regarding this ideology stating, “the ancient writers were to be imitated, they were not to be copied.” Despite some of the “controversial” struggles within the church, Isaac grew to love and embrace the Puritan faith and doctrines. Though many Puritans of the day criticized Watt’s use of hymns, he had no problem reconciling his passion for hymnody and his theology for the church. As a youth Watts once came home from church and complained to his Father about his absolute boredom with the monotony of metric psalms in worship. His father replied with a challenge that if he didn’t like it, that he should write something himself that was worth singing. Watts immediately rose to the occasion and within hours produced his first hymn “Behold the Glories of the Lamb” which was sung that Sunday evening in the evening church service. This was the first of hundreds of hymns that would flow from the pen of Isaac Watts. Because this first hymn was so well received, within the next two years (from age 18-20) Watts wrote a total of 210 hymns that constituted his famous collection “Hymns and spiritual Songs”, which was published in 1707. This was the first real hymn booking the English language.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Prayer Updates

Well, I sit here at home with the flu (or roto-virus). Whatever it is, it has wiped me out. The Lord uses things like this to force me to slow down and get some rest. It has certainly been a busy season. Praise God that I have a wife and family who tolerate my moanings.

The following is an update I just recieved from Robert Boer. For those of you who are new to my blog, Rob used to work at Parkview and is now the Director of Music for Montreat College. He had surgery on a brain tumor several months ago. Here is the update from him...

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God’s blessings to you all! May you continue to grow with Him, as I have been unable to stop sharing how much God has done in my life despite having a brain tumor that will always be monitored and always be a threat. I will focus my life, teaching and conducting on Jesus Christ and work at helping Montreat College growing as a dynamic focus on Him.

We spent three days at Duke the first week of May as we had our first baseline MRI to determine what might happen with the remainder of the tumor. Monday night we had the MRI; Tuesday and Wednesday we met with some folks from the Brain Tumor Center as well as the surgeon. We got a chance to see the sliver that remains of the tumor. It seems that it’s still a Grade II, which is a fairly inactive tumor. Brain tumors can at any time change to Grade III and begin to grow, which would change treatment.

For now this baseline, post-operative MRI is what they will start with, and praise the Lord that I do not need to treat it with chemotherapy right now. It’s often possible, but to do so now would cause more problems as side-effects than to help get rid of more than would be affected. For the next year I will get an MRI every two months to check for growth. In two months I’ll get one in Asheville and they’ll send it to Duke; in four months (the second week of September) we’ll have a 2-day trip to Duke to have one there and meet again with the Brain Tumor Center and the surgeon. Hopefully, no significant growth will appear, which would have them do a biopsy to check the grade level and put me on chemotherapy. After a year of a schedule like this, if there’s no growth, the MRI scheduling will be less frequent but still be active for many years.

So I’m gaining some ability each day, though my language is not yet back to normal and my physical ability is not there either. Part of the problem is the amount of anti-seizure medication I am taking because of the intensity of seizures I had at day 6 after surgery at the hospital and am on 3 different kinds of “stuff” to make sure those dangerous seizures don’t happen again. The management of the medication is being run by a doctor here in Asheville and over a long period of time hopefully it will be decreased and it’s affect on my system will continue to improve. I have already begun to plan on next year and have already begun spending energy on next year’s classes to get them ready! The Lord willing, I’ll continue to regain strength and be ready to be very full time with my classes and as Director of Music Activities at Montreat College.

So thank all of you so much for your prayers for me as I move through a lot of changes. The prayer and support of the college and our church has been incredible. Thank you all so much for your help, particularly for your prayers. Jesus is not just part of my life; I must lay completely at his feet as I try to deal with having a brain tumor that could at any time grow towards sending me out of this world to spend eternity with Him.

May God bless your life and draw you toward Him more and more, to focus all your work on Him!

Robert Boer
5 Old Lakey Gap Rd.
Black Mountain, NC 28711

Monday, May 08, 2006

Party Pics

John Carlson has posted some pics from the suprise party and the following choir rehearsal here. My kids are still singing the "new" version of "Indescribable." Anyway, enjoy the pics.

Personal Update

I had a friend in college whose room always got messy when he was depressed or too busy. All I’d have to do to know how he was doing was to look at the condition of his room. Well, for me, all you have to do is look at my blog. It has been a very busy season so my entries have been a bit thin of late.

The weekend before last I had the awesome opportunity to officiate the wedding ceremony for some dear friends in Des Moines. What a joy it was to marry two people whose entire lives will be devoted to God in ministry.

This week I am working hard to fight a zoning proposal for the 10-acre plot behind our house. The developer has been unbelievable in his unethical behavior. I truly feel like this situation has become more than just fighting poor zoning. It has become an opportunity to take a stand against corruption in our community. I pray that all the relationships I have been building within this community will give me the opportunity to have a platform for the gospel in these people’s lives.

This leads me to Saturday, May 20th. On that day I will have the awesome opportunity to officiate a wedding for my co-worker and friend Dan Van Oss. He and his bride-to-be Nancy (also a dear friend of ours) had their first date at our house about two years ago. It will be fun helping these two step into a new level of relationship and commitment to one another.

In the very near future I will be posting a vocal schedule for the summer ministry season! Until then, join me in depending on the Lord to continue to trust and grow in the weeks to come!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Sincerest Thanks


I want to thank you so much for the very kind gesture of appreciation that you extended with Wednesday’s surprise party. I truly had NO idea that it was coming, and was totally shocked to turn the corner into the atrium and find the room full of people, balloons, cake, etc…. The appreciation book, cake, gift certificates, gifts, and yes, even the personalized rendition of “Indescribable”, were all very touching to me.

I know you weren’t all able to attend the reception, but I wanted you all to know that I praise God every day for the privilege to work with such loving, talented, and committed people. We are part of a church that is driven to fulfill God’s great commission to our community and world. It is this vision that knits our hearts together for the glory of God. What an awesome adventure it is to serve the Lord together!

Thanks for being such a loving family to Carrie, Hannah, Zach, Elizabeth, Isaac, Aaron, and me. We love you and look forward to many more years of serving our Lord as part of the Parkview family.



Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I Love God Because It Feels So Good!

Is it ok to say that you follow God because of the pleasure it brings you to do so? Does it degrade God to love him because of what you get out of it?

Hedonism is: Pursuit of or devotion to pleasure, especially to the pleasures of the senses.

The following is a summary of Christian Hedonism by John Piper. To get the full story you can read his book "Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist."

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A Summary of Christian Hedonism in Five Statements

1. The longing to be happy is a universal human experience, and it is good, not sinful.

2. We should never try to deny or resist our longing to be happy, as though it were a bad impulse. Instead we should seek to intensify this longing and nourish it with whatever will provide the deepest and most enduring satisfaction.

3. The deepest and most enduring happiness is found only in God.

4. The happiness we find in God reaches its consummation when it expands to meet the needs of others in the manifold ways of love.

5. To the extent we try to abandon the pursuit of our own pleasure, we fail to honor God and love people. Or, to put it positively: the pursuit of pleasure is a necessary part of all worship and virtue.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Humans Need Not Apply

John Carlson sent me this job description for a Worship Pastor position opening that he saw online. I have removed the church name to protect them from further embarrassment. Yes, this is insanely long, but it is an unbelievable description. Only Jesus could qualify... and even then, he may not have the "professional" credentials.

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Job Description:

Music and Creative Arts Pastor

General Profile:

THE CHURCH is seeking a Music and Creative Arts Pastor who can lead our Creative Arts ministry team into the future God is preparing us for. We desire a leader who demonstrates a lifestyle of worship, integrity and commitment. He should have a growing relationship with Christ, with his family and with others. He will be able to embrace and support the THE CHURCH Staff Covenant and THE CHURCH Statement of Faith as well as our mission, vision and values.

Our ideal candidate will have strong worship leading abilities in multiple styles. He should also have the ability to build and lead a service design team committed to excellence, creativity and genuine worship with sensitivity to flow, to transitions, to the Holy Spirit, to “planned spontaneity” and to reading the moment in worship. He will need excellent communication and people skills, organizational and leadership skills, proven team building ability and experience leading multiple staff with a minimum of five years experience in a church of 2500 or more. He will have the ability to work with rhythm sections, orchestra, choirs, vocal and instrumental ensembles and will develop and empower leaders when needed. He will need some writing, arranging and orchestrating ability or the resources to get it done. He will have experience producing and conducting major ministry events such as concerts, musical productions, conferences, recordings and videos.

We are looking for a visionary, entrepreneurial leader who knows how to bring out the best in artistic and creative people. He will be a Music and Creative Arts community builder and a champion for the reclamation of the arts for Christ. This will eventually include the development of a creative arts academy. He will be able to teach on the biblical theology and practice of worship. He will be a learner who is always looking for ways to improve and grow for himself, his staff and ministry partners. He will be a modeling, mentoring, team builder, who is a coach of coaches and is capable of bringing out the best in his team of leaders and ministry partners.

He will also serve as a consultant and advisor for the development of the Music and Creative Arts ministries of our multi sites. Our new Music and Creative Arts Pastor will need to have excellent chemistry with our Senior Pastor, the Pastoral Leadership Team and the Service Design Team. Our desire is to create an environment on our staff that is joyful, fun, productive, creative, catalytic, caring, and committed to excellence in life and ministry. We want to grow a healthy, vibrant church that deeply loves God and one another. We want to do life deeply together and to share that life with others.

Primary Functions: To glorify God through genuine worship, engaging worship leadership and excellence in programming and presentation that leads people into the life transforming presence of God; to develop a Music and Creative Arts community that is deeply devoted to Christ, to one another, to the pursuit of excellence and to worship as a lifestyle; to develop, lead, manage and evaluate a comprehensive Music and Creative Arts ministry including service design team, service producers, vocal teams, bands, orchestra, choir, soloists and ensembles, lighting, sound, visual arts and stage teams, drama team, and others as needed.

Weekly worship service responsibilities include:
  • Consulting with the Senior Pastor in the planning and design of the worship services.
  • Leading the service design and planning meeting or equipping a program director or service producer to do so.
  • Prayerfully selecting music and other artistic service elements, finalizing the order of worship and communicating assignments to personnel according to schedule.
  • Scheduling, coordinating and rehearsing worship service and special events personnel including band, singers, drama, lighting, sound and stage setup crew.
  • Leading congregational worship.
  • Debriefing and evaluating the worship service with the Senior Pastor, service design team and staff.
Music and Creative Arts Ministry development and pastoral responsibilities include:
  • Developing and implementing an ongoing communication, recruiting, training and leadership development strategy for the Music and Creative Arts ministry.
  • Continual updating of ministry opportunities with responsibilities/ job descriptions, expectations and time commitments outlined on the website.
  • Overseeing the development of special groups, ensembles and soloists.
  • Providing spiritual development opportunities for staff and volunteers.
  • Overseeing and administering the Worship Center including décor, stage design, sound, lighting and multimedia.
  • Planning and administrating the Music and Creative Arts ministry budget.
Other leadership responsibilities include:
  • Serving on the pastoral leadership team for overall church vision, strategy, planning, managing and evaluating.
  • Leading, managing, developing and evaluating all Music and Creative Arts ministry staff. Music and Creative Arts Pastor
Special services and events responsibilities include:
  • Christmas season focus, Christmas Eve, Easter, Thanksgiving, communion and baptismal services and other special events.
  • Working with the Senior Pastor and service design team to brainstorm and create the event.
  • Making final decisions on all programming elements including music, drama, dance and other art forms, video, lighting, sound, set design and construction and staging.
  • Establishing a calendar of events, a communication strategy, a rehearsal schedule, a set up and tear down schedule and debriefing.
  • Meetings and rehearsals include:
  • Weekly staff meeting.
  • Weekly service design team meeting.
  • Weekly meeting with the Senior Pastor.
  • Weekly Music and Creative Arts staff meeting.
  • Monthly brainstorming and planning meeting with the Senior Pastor.
  • Special event brainstorming and planning meetings when necessary.
  • Yearly calendaring meeting with monthly updates in staff meeting.
  • Staffs retreat(s).
  • Rehearsal as needed for band, singers, tech, drama, special events.
Qualifications include:
  • Loves God and loves people. Commitment to the great commandment, the great commission and to the pursuit of excellence and creativity in worship and presentation.
  • Demonstrated commitment to worship as a lifestyle. (Romans 12)
  • Strong worship leading abilities in multiple styles.
  • Excellent communication and people skills, organization and leadership skills, proven team building experience leading multiple staff with a minimum of five years experience in churches of 2500 or more.
  • Experience in a church with multi sites of varying styles is a plus.
  • Strong vocal and instrumental skills (able to lead from keyboard or guitar).
  • Demonstrated ability to develop and lead bands, vocal teams, ensembles, choir and orchestra and to oversee technical and visual arts.
  • Writing, arranging and sequencing ability is desired but not a requirement.
See “Profile” for other qualifications.

Cheezy Music Humor

If you have studied classical music much, you might get a kick out of the variations on these classical musical terms. If not, this will just be an "I don't get it moment" and you can move on to something more interesting to read than my blog.

Adagio formaggio: To play in a slow and cheesy manner.
Angus Dei: A divine, beefy tone.
Antiphonal: Referring to the prohibition of cell phones in the sanctuary.
A patella: Unaccompanied knee-slapping.
Appologgiatura: An ornament you regret after playing it.
Approximatura: A series of notes played by a performer and not intended by the composer, especially when disguised with an air of "I meant to do that."
Approximento: A musical entrance that is somewhat close to the correct pitch.
Brake drum: The instrument most used to slow the tempo in an orchestra.
Choral conductor: a musician who is particularly adept at following a large group of singers.
D.C. al capone: You betta go back to the beginning, capiche?
Dill piccolo: A wind instrument that plays only sour notes.
Diminuendo: The process of quieting a rumor in the orchestra pit.
Eardrum: A teeny, tiny tympani.
Fer mantra: A note that is held over and over and over and...
Fiddler crabs: Grumpy string players.