All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew this song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
In my head the violin is a symbol of talent, class, sophistication and power. A big part of that is derived from its design and makeup. So to me, watching a violin maker presenting and talking about his craft is a treat and delight. Enjoy the short film above. Cheers.
I love strings. Warmth. Resonance. Sweetness.
This semester I am taking a Biblical Preaching class from a man I admire greatly, Dr. Adam Harwood. The classes essentially focuses on equipping students that feel called to preach…to preach. We are reading through a couple of books right now that progress through the steps of proper hermeneutics (how to interpret the bible) and homiletics (how to communicate the bible). I have really enjoyed the class thus far, and look forward to preaching a sermon in front of my peers.
I have had several people ask me similar questions, like: ”Do you feel called to preach?” or “Do you feel out-of-place in the class?” They ask this because I am a Music Major. I play and sing songs…or so it would seem.
I can recall a number of times that I have been asked to lead musical worship for a service, where the well-intentioned speaker/pastor said something like, “I am glad you are picking songs that go with the theme of the sermon so that people’s hearts will be prepared for the message from God’s Word.” In terms of volleyball, “You set it up, and I’ll spike it!”
Don’t misunderstand me, I believe that musical worship and carefully picked songs can absolutely point people toward God and help them be open to what He has planned for them. What I don’t agree with is the idea that songs of worship or scripture readings do not contain the message of God or are not as important as the sermon. That we just sing songs to get people in the mood for the sermon. Again, I’m not downplaying the importance of the sermon (after all it is a “talk” that starts other conversations), but when we elevate it above everything else (and this goes for any part of the church/ministry including music), then we miss out on what God is saying to us and through us everywhere else.
About now, you’re probably asking, “If you think that the sermon is just as important as every other part of ministry, then why are you in a preaching class?”
Because I want to be equipped to properly study, communicate, preach, teach, sing, pray, speak, interpret, write, discuss, and understand the Bible for the sake of myself and others getting to know God better. For He is LORD of all, King of the universe, Creator of heaven and earth, and He desires to be with His people here and now. I want everyone to know him.
I believe that God has given each of us gifts that point to the Creator of all things.
I believe He has given us talents, resources, passions, knowledge, wisdom, abilities, words, relationships, thoughts and ideas that reveal what He and His kingdom are all about.
So, is preaching a sermon important? Absolutely.
Is leading people in musical worship important? Yes.
Is sweeping floors important? Yup.
Is feeding the homeless important? Of course.
Is teaching a child to read important? Oh yeah.
And the list goes on…
There are many parts, but one body.
1 Corinthians 12
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good…
11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses. 12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many…
17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24 whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25 that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it…
29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.
I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve heard someone ask me this question in the past few months.
Usually, I answer that I’m considering going to seminary to get an MDiv.
The truth is that is merely one option out of many that I’m interested in, and they all have numerous complexities and variables that come with them.
For instance, I’ve also considered being a missionary overseas for at least a couple of years or starting a community of communal living with close friends or getting a job as a worship leader at a church…
All noble efforts that would serve and advocate God’s kingdom. But which do I choose?
The decisions I make now are more than likely going to effect the rest of my life.
Therefore, how do I choose what would be best?
I have passions for community (especially communal living), teaching (both in the church and outside), music (musical worship leading and pastoring), missionary work overseas…
It can all be a bit daunting.
I do know that whatever I choose, as long as I’m loving God and loving others, God will be honored and glorified in all of it.
I also do know that I need to pray constantly about this, and that I need others to pray with me.
"The first and foremost point of wisdom is the fear of ADONAI; all those living by it gain good common sense. His praise stands forever." Psalm 111:10
"Now if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all generously and without reproach; and it will be given to him." James 1:5
"Don’t worry about anything; on the contrary, make your requests known to God by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving. Then God’s shalom, passing all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with the Messiah Yeshua." Philippians 4:6-7
Barukh atah Adonai
eloheinu melekh ha-olam,
rokei’a ha’aretz al hamayim.
Blessed art Thou, LORD our God, King of the universe,
Who establishes the footsteps of man.
Mark 2:18-22. Some people came up to Jesus and asked him why he and his disciples weren’t fasting like everyone else (John’s disciples and the Pharisees’ disciples to be exact). Jesus answers them with a question.
"How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast." (Mark 2:19-20, NIV)
Have you ever been to a party or wedding where there was a ton of food but nobody ate any of it? It’s a little weird to think about. However, we also have to ask why Jews were fasting in the first place.
“The main times when Jews of Jesus’ day fasted were days that reminded them of the great disasters of old, like the time when the Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 BC.” (Tom Wright, Mark for Everyone, 25).
But, Jesus is saying that this is a time for a wedding feast; a time of celebration! It is not a time for looking back and mourning over the bad things that happened in history, it is a time of looking ahead, as renewal is happening now and in the future. But that’s not all. Jesus uses two other images. He talks about the dangers of sewing a new patch of cloth onto old clothing, and pouring new wine into old wineskins.
I remember this one time I was riding in my sister’s car, and I had a CD that I wanted her to hear. So, I took out the disc and proceeded to feed into the CD player, but it wouldn’t go in all the way. I thought maybe I hadn’t pushed it in hard enough, so I attempted to stick it further into the tray. After a few attempts, the CD was finally all the way inside the player, but it still wouldn’t play the CD or even recognize the disc. A bit baffled by the mystery, I turned to my sister, Heather, and asked her if she knew why it wouldn’t play the CD. She looked at me and said, “Did you take out the CD that was already inside?” Needless to say, my sister’s CD player never quite worked after that incident (and she never let me forget it).
The Jews of Jesus’ day were too busy listening to the old music to recognize the new music that was ready to be played. It wouldn’t make sense for a new CD to be shoved into a CD player that already had an old CD inside, stuck on repeat. Jesus was trying to tell them that they they needed to adopt a new way of thinking. They needed to see things with a wider perspective than that of the past. God’s kingdom of renewal was taking place and if they weren’t careful they would miss out on it.
Does the church ever fall into this trap? Are we too busy listening to the same music and thinking that there is nothing else out there? And, all the while, God is waiting to give us some fresh, new music that will blow our minds and surprise us with an even grander perspective than we ever thought possible.
There is new music to be played.
There is new wine to be had.
From a few kids listening outside the classrooms to a ton of kids dancing and singing for joy about Jesus in a manner of seconds. #AmazingThingsGodDidInAfrica
I went to see the Atlanta Community Symphony Orchestra’s season finale concert tonight, and heard some phenomenal concertos and gifted musicians. Here is a clip of what I heard. The pianist is Sitan Chen. He’s in high school. Craziness.
Last night, I was about to drift off into sleep when a fragment of an idea hit me. I picked up my guitar, and began to play and hum the melody in my mind. I grabbed my computer and began typing lyrics I thought would match the music, but none of the lines seemed to fit what I was trying to say. Almost like I wasn’t ready for the song yet.
This kind of thing happens to me every once and a while. I’m not claiming these musical epiphanies to be grand or perfect. They are only hints of songs that may never come to fruition.