Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I Can Only Imagine

Do you know the worship song sung by Mercy Me that talks about the incredible nature of heaven? I can only imagine what it will be like. We have such a small sliver of information about heaven. But what we do have is enough to whet our apettite for such a day in the presence of God.

Dan Phillips has written a great blog post at www.teampyro.blogspot.com about the close of our brief lives here on earth that considers what we might imagine about the future in glory.

"Do you honestly imagine that there is any chance you'll regret trusting the Word too much? That you'll regret believing in God too heartily? That you'll regret giving too much of yourself to Him, in His service? That you'll regret having mortified the flesh too much, having walked in the Spirit too much? That you'll regret having been too godly of a husband, wife, parent, child, churchman, citizen? That you'll wish you'd indulged your fleshly passions more, loved the world more, pursued your private agenda more, absorbed yourself in the world's passing distractions more? That you'll wish you'd gotten more things, better things, and given less of your time and energies to the Word and the Lord?"

Well put Dan. Even with our limited understanding of heaven and God's character, we know that to buy the trinkets of this world at the expense of our greatest treasure in heaven is foolishness. Life is indeed short, live well and live wisely!

Choose treasure,

Monday, December 11, 2006

Caroling in the Village

Last night we caroled in our village of Wyoming. We had one of the largest groups in our history of mobile minstreling and spent a record 1 3/4 hours on the street. We ministered at 30+ homes and had some unique experiences. Here are my nominations for the WyBC Colden Chorus Awards (somewhat akin to the Grammy's).

For Best Aggressive Doorknockers: Caleb W & Scott P
I really couldn't determine who was more aggressive, so they can share. Both boys were intent on not only being the doorknockers, but also on rousing the occupants to meet them at the door. Both boys had to be warned, just one knock and wait. I think that Caleb actually tapped out a message telgraph style on one person's doorbell. I hope actually that they were not really home! I have to give them the award, because I really need some enthusiastic knockers like that in the future! Don't crush enthusiasm -- simply redirect it!

For Most Vocal Challenge to the Words of the Final Song: Owen E
While this award was previously held by Carrie W, Owen was a surprise candidate. The controversy about the singing of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" was solved until I printed different words in the "new" versions of songbooks. I must not have saved the changes last time and printed the "wrong words". I believe we finally settled on "Good tidings of Christmas" as the penultimate phrase. And Owen did not mutiny -- thanks.

For Best Choreography: Stephanie L
Stephanie decided that We Wish You a Merry Christmas was the only song that needed a little something extra. She took it upon herself to choreograph a little two-count sway with some of her partners. The only problem is that she had no concept of stay with the group! :) To the innocent observer too much eggnog might have appeared to be the culprit!

For Best Scrooge-like Reaction to Carolers: the family that sat at the window and continued their board game
I believe that the non-answered doors were easier to handle. This family looked out of the picture window through a sheer curtain and kept right on playing a game. They refused to come to the window! We still wished them a Merry Christmas in song. They were not the only ones to try to ignore us. However, 30+ people standing in your front yard would tend to get my attention. I guess some people just don't know what to do with carolers.

For Best Tiny Tim-like Reaction to Carolers: the Innkeeper at Wyoming
The new owners of the Inn came out and listened at his door. He invited us all in for hot cider and doughnuts. Walt and Lou S were a close second: these folks were ready with their plate of cookies for us and sent it out to us. These are great reactions and were a super encouragement to me. We are having a positive influence in our community for Christ.

For Best Set Design: God
We had one of the most mild caroling nights ever. It allowed us to stay out for so long this year. We are grateful for the break in weather even though it meant no snow for our trek. O what fun it was to sing a christmas song last night (sans a one horse open sleigh).

For Best Supporting Cast: the 39 carolers (men, women, teens, and kids) who went out
I was really grateful to all that attended the event and especialy for kids and families that make this event part of their holiday planning. There were even some of our neighbors who were looking forward to hearing us again this year -- actually looking forward to us coming! There were also some great comments about "could we please stop here -- I told them we were coming. I really want to minister to these people; I know them through .... "

All in all a huge ministry success. Special thanks to Paula B who would have rather been out caroling and agreed to woman the kitchen front, getting all of our goodies ready for our return. I guess that would be another classification -- "Best Home Front Support". Thanks to everyone who took aprt ion this special holiday tradition of community outreach. 'Tis the season to be sharing the love of Christ in a real and tangible way.

Singing in the Night,
Praising him in the Day,

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Getting Your Worship Buzz On

My brother Thad has posted an interesting question about worship that has generated some comments from his regular readers. I posted a response, but couldn't leave it alone so to speak. (By the way, this is the sign of a good post in my opinion) So as I was reading the Disciple-Making Church by Bill Hull, I came across this quote:

"With the recent surge in church planting has come an intense interest in creating environment. The lack of a praise environment, not a lack of technical know-how, most hinders the contemporary church. Avante-garde church planters, those on the cutting edge, have begun to ...use drama, special effects, and whatever can be found that will hold the congreagtion's interest. ... However, I do not believe the worship environment they seek can be found through such techniques. These merely simulate a real, Spirit-engendered environment, while their artificial nature highlights the talent and abilities of man. A spiritual buzz based on highly gifted person's presentation will require a long string of buzzes. That, of course, leads to a desensitizing that eventually becomes boredom." pp. 71-72

I believe worship that is not anthropocentric (man-centered) but is theocentric (God-centered) is built on genuine enthusiasm. Hull writes rightly
"Enthusiasm [in the early church] made ministry a natural overflow of internal experience." p. 71.
That is, genuine worship comes from the inside out, not the other way around.

On this basis, how was your worship this weekend? Did it flow from a growing, developing relationship with God or did it wait for the gifted worship team to give you an infusion of their synthetic sugar-coated worship narcotic? Did you worship with the worship leader or watch him worship and draw a vicarious, second-hand drag off of his performance?

Tough questions. But they must be answered. It's time to detox and sober up on this topic.

Striving to be a lead worshipper not a worship leader,

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

30 Days of Focus Logo Evaluations

We are embarking on another "30 Days of Focus" here at WyBC. It will begin on Dec31 and run through Jan 28. This campaign style annual address is a blatant plagarism/borrrowing from Rick Warren's 40 Days of Purpose. While we do not buy into all that Rick has espoused, we do believe that the focused attention as a body on one topic is very helpful. So we will borrow the concept, rename it, rework it, reframe it and serve it up to our flock.

This year's theme is "Service". Its byline is probably "Every member a minister". But I am working on a logo for the 5 Sundays that we will be working through these things. The logo will be on notes pages, slide shows, bulletin shells, wall decorations, etc. But after polling 5 people, I got 5 different sets of input. Go figure. I guess I must be a glutton for punishment, because I am asking you to weigh in on these designs. If you would view the logos attached and then "vote". You answer may be any of the selected logos or a compilation of them. Please tell me what you like and what you dislike. Simply typing a number in the comments section does not help me very much.

Thanks for your help,
Associate Pastor/Graphic Artist in Residence

Don't Tweak My Tradition

Can you recite the Lord's Prayer from memory? Did you know that there are two accounts of this model prayer recorded and that they don't agree word for word with each other? I hope that this does not tweak your tradition or rock your liturgical world!

We are working through a series with the teens on the life of Christ. This week, Bethany will teach on prayer and specifically the Lord's Prayer section of Matthew's and Luke's accounts. Something caught my attention in the discussion of the passage. The KJV has a phrase at the end of the Matthean account that is not in the oldest and best manuscripts.

"For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen." Mt. 6:13b

So, the thought is that if the older manuscripts don't have it, then it must be an addition. Is it legitimate? Does it have a place in the prayer? Did Jesus say it or not? Does it matter? Is it in keeping with the prayer? Why might a later copyist add the commentary?

I would love to hear your feedback on this topic. Charles and I discussed it this morning at Bible Study, but you weren't there! :)

And finally, I want to put this caveat on this post: I am still convinced that I have the Word of God translated into my own language, that it is inspired and that it is inerrant; I still believe that tradition is okay as long as someone remembers the meaning behind the form; I will still read the Lord's prayer and observe its presented principles of prayer.

I will call upon the Lord
Who is worthy to be praised
So shall I be safe from my enemies
I will call upon the Lord
The Lord liveth and blessed be my Rock
and let the God of my salvation be exalted