Thursday, June 2, 2016

Theology Thursday: Relevance

The relevance the church should be concerned with is not in proving to the world that they are keeping with the times but in reminding the world that a 2000+ year old book is fully relevant today.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Art, Beauty, and Objectivity (Part 1)

As a musician, and one who dabbles in improvisation and composing, I have spent a good deal of time considering what it is about music that people enjoy. Why is music appealing to everyone? I have met many people who say they do not like certain styles of music, but I have never met someone who says, "I don't like music." There is something either inherent in music, in people, or in the fabric of the universe (or all of the above) that makes music pleasing to us. Most people say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder; however, I propose that the universal appeal of music proves this subjective statement false, at least in some sense, and reveals a mysterious truth of reality: beauty is objective.

More to come...

Monday, May 2, 2016

Music Monday: Reasons to Sing (Part 2)

Mortal: "Why should we sing?"
The Immortal (i.e. God): "Do you want the short list or the long list?!"

Though we have only arrived at part 2 of the series, Reasons to Sing, I have been considering how I will bring these posts to an end in order to write on other topics. Will 5 parts be sufficient? Or 10? Will we ever arrive at a point where we have exhausted all the reasons God's word gives us to sing?

Singing to the Lord, about the Lord, and for the glory of the Lord should never be done halfheartedly. Just as a wife is most loved when her husband is giving his full attention to her, God desires and demands our full attention when we sing. The psalmist, in both praises and laments, illustrates for us what an "all-in-singer" looks like. My heart is steadfast, O God. I will sing and make melody with all my being! (Ps 108:1)

Are you ready at a moment's notice to sing to the Lord with all your being? Sadly, I am not. I am weighed down by the sin of forgetfulness. I forget how worthy the Lord is of wholehearted praise. Whether it be due to human frailty or personal sin, my heart and mind are not always fixed upon the great truths of God. My thoughts are often scattered, and my affections are often weak. We must be constantly reminded of the surpassing value of God. We must be continually provoked by the word of God to sing the praises of God with all our being. God understands our struggle and graciously provides a wealth of reasons sing and make melody with all our being:

  1. God protects those who take refuge in him (Ps 5:11)
  2. God's voice is powerful (Ps 29:3-9)
  3. The Lord answers the prayers of his servants and delivers them (Ps 34:4)
  4. The King of all the earth has chosen a great inheritance for his chosen people (Ps 47:1-4)
  5. God delivers sinners from guilt (Ps 51:14)
  6. God's deeds are awesome (Ps 66:5)
  7. God made us and we are his (Ps 100:3)
  8. God's steadfast love and faithfulness are great (Ps 108:4)
  9. God is good (Ps 135:3)
  10. God takes pleasure in his people (Ps 149:4)
Go sing something.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Music Monday: Reasons to Sing (Part 1)

When it comes to singing, American culture has transitioned from a participatory view to a performance view. Singing used to be far more of a corporate event, shared amongst men, women, and children in the home, the church, and at public places and events. We now live in the age of the audience. Singing is reserved for the professional (or so-called professional) while we, with untrained diaphragms and vocal chords, sit back in order to enjoy, marvel, criticize, or worship the singer.

Although I would join the occasional chorus of "The Star Spangled Banner" (difficult to sing) or "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" (boring to sing), I was not raised a singer and had no natural bent toward making music with my voice. Interestingly enough, I now find myself leading songs on a weekly basis in the church and regularly thinking through the question of why Christians sing. To be honest, I often wrestle with this question, or at least the answer to this question, as I am still not the most confident in my singing ability and do not find myself naturally breaking out in song throughout my week.

Christians have no choice of whether or not to follow the culture's performance view of singing. Christians must sing. God commands, "Sing!" While I am content in obeying God's command without him justifying his command, I also enjoy knowing why God tells us to do what he tells us do. I ask God, "Why should we sing?" And he replies,

"For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting." (Ps 147:1)

Thank you, God. Thank you for your sweet word that satisfies the soul. Thank you for your complete word that leaves no questions unanswered that need answering.

Here is why we sing: It is good. It is pleasant. It is fitting.

Singing is a good thing. Having melody carry content about a good God is good. Using your body - the creation that God called "very good" - to praise your Creator is good.

Singing is a pleasant thing. There is a sweetness to hearing a multitude of voices proclaim the glories of Christ. There is a richness in joining your voice to the choir of saints. There is a beauty in the outward, vocal expression of delight in our beautiful God.

Singing is a fitting thing. By the word of God, you were made an instrument. The members of your body can work together to produce a variety of tones and timbres; you are fit for singing. If your Father's word contains over 150 songs, you better believe that singing is appropriate for his children. Finally, as the majority of songs are love songs (whether explicitly or implicitly), it is most fitting for you to sing about what you love. God is worth your singing.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Theology Thursday: Gospel

In the beginning: God. The one and only, eternal, Righteous Creator, perfect in love, perfect in justice, is the beginning, middle, and everlasting end of the gospel. God made man so that man would enjoy making much of God. Yet man, having rejected the truth, rebelled against his maker, submitting no longer to God’s command, and exchanged the eternal delights of God for the fleeting pleasures of sin. For his rebellion, man will come under the wrath of God and be separated from the favor of God forever and ever. Man is without hope. But God, being rich in mercy, sent his only son, Christ Jesus - fully God, perfect in every way, and fully man, like us in every way except for sin - to redeem us from wrath by paying to God the debt we could not afford. Christ died for our sins - he came under the wrath of God on our behalf - and Christ was raised from the dead, having destroyed the power of sin and death. Through Christ, man can be reconciled to God. If you repent and receive Christ through faith, that is, yield no longer to yourself but yield fully to Christ and his work on your behalf, you will be considered no longer an enemy of God, but a child of God, being promised the eternal love and favor of God. This is the gospel: the rebel is reconciled to the only righteous God by the Redeemer, Christ Jesus the Lord. Amen.