49 thoughts on “Our Daily Thread 7-17-18

  1. Take a Melatonin and go back to bed Cheryl
    Good morning everyone else but Jo.
    Good evening Jo.
    It’s Tuesday. Nothing ever happens on Tuesday.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. actually, Cheryl, you should have taken the Melatonin about eleven last night.
    May as well get up and hit it for today. Otherwise, your schedule will get all messed up.

    Like

  3. Chas, you think it isn’t already all messed up? Two nights ago I got perhaps an hour of sleep. Night before last, 10 or 11 hours. (Probably the most in two years.) Last night, none at all. Yep, it’s messed up.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m ready for some sleep. Long day at school getting ready for the first day tomorrow. Then, of course, I came home and thought of better ways to do some things. I will try and get there early tomorrow. The good news is that my class is only until noon for this half of the year.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I don’t know if this qualifies as a “question of the day,” but I want to take a poll, for anyone willing to answer.

    Imagine that you have just moved to a new city, and you are looking for a new church. Which of the following would cause you to disqualify a church from consideration after just one visit?

    A. Before the Lord’s supper, the pastor says they like to “think outside the box” in terms of worship, and then they serve Cheez-Its and Coke for the Lord’s Supper.

    B. You find that the sanctuary is decorated with graffiti cartoons depicting various stories from Scripture.

    C. You find the place where children’s church meets to be decorated as in B.

    D. You discover that at least 50% of the songs used in worship are choruses with no more depth than “I Come to the Garden” or are in actual theological error such as a song referencing flame and a turning prayer wheel.

    E. You discover that wine is the only option (no grape juice) for Communion.

    F. You see that they serve wine alongside grape juice in Communion, giving members a choice.

    G. The pastor never opens the Bible at all, but references two or three of Aesop’s Fables during the sermon, and draws a spiritual application from them.

    H. You discover they baptize infants. (Or, alternatively, you discover that they refuse to do so.)

    I. You discover that while they limit baptism to believers, they use sprinkling as the mode.

    J. They accept into membership a pair of homosexual lovers.

    K. You see three or four members (including a deacon) stepping outside to smoke between Sunday school and church.

    L. They elect a woman as assistant pastor.

    M. They commission two women missionaries, with the assignment of planting a church in a particular unreached country.

    N. All of the above would cause me to disqualify a church from consideration.

    O. All of the above except — would cause me to disqualify a church from consideration.

    P. None of the above would cause me to disqualify a church from consideration.

    I’ll give my answer later. I started to post it now, but I decided to wait till several other people have answered.

    Like

  6. Most, not all would disqualify it for men.
    Not all. For example, there are others. I wouldn’t care if the children’s church was decorated with scripture drawings.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Cheryl, A, G, & J would cause me to stop going.
    A – While I don’t believe communion absolutely has to be wine and unleavened wheat wafers, as sometimes those things are not available, in a wealthy Western church, serving Cheez-its and Coke shows carelessness. A church that doesn’t take communion seriously doesn’t understand the meaning of communion, and if they don’t understand communion, then they probably don’t understand who Christ is and what he did.

    G – The Bible is to be the basis of what is preached from the pulpit. One might as well attend a social club that gives TED talks than attend a church where the pastor doesn’t base his sermons on Scripture. The TED talks would at least be educational and you wouldn’t be in danger of taking them as being gospel truth because they aren’t delivered by ordained pastors.

    J – There are certain standards for admission into church membership. For Christians, sexual activity outside of marriage is dishonouring to the temple of the Holy Spirit, and marriage is between one man and one woman. Admitting those who live outside those standards into church membership puts them into grave spiritual danger, as Paul warned in I Corinthians 11:29-32 that if we did not judge ourselves, God would have to judge us. Allowing those who are not living as Christ taught us to live to take communion is setting them up for destruction. Furthermore, it show the church isn’t interested in encouraging its members to be faithful Christians, so how could the church be trusted, for example, to discipline an unfaithful and abusive husband?

    As for the rest: B is in poor taste, but poor tastes can be encouraged to change. C is not a problem, as there are many books of Bible stories for children that also have such illustrations, and although I may not personally like them, it is not something I would break fellowship over. D – once again it is a matter of taste and tastes can be encouraged to be changed. In effect B, C, and D would not be problems if they were the only things wrong with the church.

    E and F are totally unconcerning, as either wine or grape juice could be used. H and I would mean I wouldn’t seek full membership in the church, since I am convinced of credobaptism and baptism by immersion, but if the church was otherwise biblical and there were no other good options in the area, I would continue attending in order to be fed and fellowship with other believers. K is concerning, but while tobacco use is not wise, it also is not an essential gospel matter – my one concern there is whether they would be willing to set aside their enjoyment of tobacco for the sake of a sister in Christ whose asthma is badly affected by tobacco smoke.

    As for L, I am a member of a church that has a woman as an assistant pastor. She does not, and will not, preach. Her role is to minister to children and to families – in effect, she is more of a deacon, which I am convinced is a role women can fill in the church, and she is in the function of an older woman instructing the younger, which is entirely Scriptural. As to M, I worked with not two, but five extraordinary single women missionaries. They had stayed for decades, through ill health, mental breakdowns, and outward trials when married men had to quit the field for the sake of their families. Paul worked with women on his missions and considered them his equals, commending them again and again in his letters. And from Anna, to Mary and Martha and Mary Magdalene, to Phebe, single women have been among those who proclaimed the gospel, the earliest to recognize the Christ and witness his resurrection, and helped to build up the churches. Single women are perhaps the last to be noticed in a church, but the history of the church would be far different if it were not for their silent service. On the field where I was, women were seen as beings of lesser spiritual importance and marriage was considered essential for a woman, as her best chance at paradise was to have her husband pray for her. The single women missionaries were thus an extraordinary illustration of the hope of the gospel. God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty, and the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. Single women are historically among the weakest in society, and so God has used them mightily.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. We would always chose an LCMS church (Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod). It’s a “brand” and we always know what we’ll get. Kind of like McDonalds.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. A. Before the Lord’s supper, the pastor says they like to “think outside the box” in terms of worship, and then they serve Cheez-Its and Coke for the Lord’s Supper.
    It could be they chose to do this for a certain reason on the Sunday I attended. I would go again in order to find out if it was what they always did. “Seek first to understand”

    B. You find that the sanctuary is decorated with graffiti cartoons depicting various stories from Scripture.
    Once again, this could be for a special event such as VBS or a focus on children.

    C. You find the place where children’s church meets to be decorated as in B.
    Children’s church—not a deal breaker. We need to explain things in terms children can understand

    D. You discover that at least 50% of the songs used in worship are choruses with no more depth than “I Come to the Garden” or are in actual theological error such as a song referencing flame and a turning prayer wheel.
    I have been a song snob in the past and let is cause me to miss out on some things. 50% of the songs are theological. As I said yesterday, sometimes a song is just a song. “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands….”

    E. You discover that wine is the only option (no grape juice) for Communion.
    I personally cannot stand grape juice for communion. It is too sweet and I don’t drink it anyway. The first miracle of Christ was turning the water into wine and it was GOOD wine.

    F. You see that they serve wine alongside grape juice in Communion, giving members a choice.
    I wouldn’t have a problem with this. There may be alcoholics in the congregation and I think this shows sensitivity to them.

    G. The pastor never opens the Bible at all, but references two or three of Aesop’s Fables during the sermon, and draws a spiritual application from them.
    It has been so long since I attended a church that didn’t have an OT, Psalm, and NT reading that I wouldn’t know how to react to this. As far as using Aesop to make a point—why not?

    H. You discover they baptize infants. (Or, alternatively, you discover that they refuse to do so.)
    I was baptize as an infant and so was BG. I was also baptized again at 12 because the church we attended did not recognize infant baptism. I fully intend to have Miss Maddie’s photo taken in my christening gown even though her heatheRN parents aren’t having her christened.

    I. You discover that while they limit baptism to believers, they use sprinkling as the mode.
    Once again, I was sprinkled and dunked. I would be open to either.

    J. They accept into membership a pair of homosexual lovers.
    Eh. I have a problem here.

    K. You see three or four members (including a deacon) stepping outside to smoke between Sunday school and church.
    Smoking is an addiction. We have all sinned and come short of the glory….. my mother and father smoked. I don’t smoke. It makes me sicker than if I downed a gallon of wine the night before. I wouldn’t hold that against them.

    L. They elect a woman as assistant pastor.
    Sometimes men don’t step forward. It depends on the duties of the assistant pastor. I would not want her to be the one in complete charge.

    M. They commission two women missionaries, with the assignment of planting a church in a particular unreached country.
    Once again, why not. If men aren’t available. It seems like a good option for women

    N. All of the above would cause me to disqualify a church from consideration.

    O. All of the above except — would cause me to disqualify a church from consideration.

    P. None of the above would cause me to disqualify a church from consideration.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. As Roscuro said, A, G, and J are definites. The graffiti and music I would have to evaluate by being there. Wine or grape juice is fine for communion, but these days I am bothered by a common cup. As for baptism, if people later feel convicted then they can seek out believers baptism as an older adult as I did. And, I would like to see the spiritual fruit produced by the church as another indication of it being worthy of attendance. Is prayer an important aspect of the service? There are other considerations that might override the items in the list.

    Like

  11. My answer is basically O, with these considerations:

    A. No problem, unless the attitude was one of total smugness. A church we used to attend once used iced tea and zucchini bread, as it was being served at the fellowship meal afterwords. This was years ago when it was a small house church.

    B. While I would find it distracting, I could live with it. That same church bought a building that had been a daycare center, so the pianist sat under a painting of Minnie Mouse for a while. There were other Disney characters on the walls as well.

    C. As long as Children’s Church is not during the main meeting, I wouldn’t care. Children’s Church during the adult sermon would be something I would be against.

    D. Lack of depth in 50% of the songs, no problem. If there were that kind of theological error, I would leave.

    E & F. No problem.

    G. Out the door I go.

    H. If everything else were scriptural, and there were no other choices, I might stick around.

    I. I would question the sprinkling, but otherwise no problem.

    J. Bye-bye!

    K. Since this would be the first time visiting, how would I know there was a deacon smoking? But this would be a red flag for me, but not something I would leave over.

    L. Never.

    M. I would question this, but not have a major problem with it.

    Like

  12. A.- Too serious an act for such triviality.

    G.- If the Bible and scripture isn’t part of the service, it’s not church it’s just story time, like at the library.

    J.- For the obvious biblical reasons. Unmarried lovers and practicing homosexuals, both should disqualify membership.

    The rest I could live with, but I wouldn’t be crazy about B- that’s for the nursery, D- sorry, that gets old fast, and L- because there’s a fine line there.

    Like

  13. When I move to a new city. I always go to a SBC church. I don’t always join the first one I attend, but I know what they believe and practice.
    e.g. I visited Mud Creek BC in Hendersonville, but Joined FBC.
    Reason?
    Mud Creek is the largest BC in Henderson County and you see the preacher preach through a TV monitor.
    You can get too big for me.
    They have a couple of police cars parked in conspicuous locations during the service.
    Wise move in my opinion.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. LOL! I would NEVER get anything done if I had adorable squirrels like that distracting me at my house. Terrific picture! Can I share it????

    OK, now I’ll go read what everyone else wrote above . . . 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I will comment that many, many years ago I attended an early service at a church. Later in the week the associate pastor visited me and I commented that the music sounded like we were at a funeral and so unenthusiastic that I didn’t know if I wanted to come again. The pastor challenged me on my shallow thinking and we did attend again. In fact, we were very involved for more than 10 years. Then the church took a turn and we could no longer stay there. Nevertheless, God taught us much while there. FWIW, the music in the later service, wintertime and with the choir was wonderful and something I miss to this day.

    I can worship in many different ways and have learned to be less critical. The basics of the gospel are not to be compromised. There are other times I am reminded about Jesus’ statement about those who are not against me are for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Cute squirrels.

    I see there are a few things I assumed but didn’t say in my unofficial poll. One is that there are plenty of churches in the area where you are moving. Also, the graffitti is permanent decoration, as stained-glass windows would be, and the assistant pastor is considered a true pastoral position, with ability to preach–biblically, she’s an elder.

    I went back to bed and just got up. I’m going to cook us lunch and then I’ll come back in a bit and give my own answers. (BTW, the point about the children’s church decorations was not that the church offers children’s church–I almost made a separate question about that, but didn’tm since even I would see it as a serious red flag but not an absolute deal killer–but whether what is acceptable for children and for adults differs in that specific example.)

    Like

  17. While my lunch is on the stove cooking, in our search for churches when I was growing up, we would have disqualified all but C (we would not have gone into the room for children’s church and would not have known how it was decorated), D (shallow music would have been pretty typical; as long as it would be considered “hymns” we would be OK with it), and M (we wouldn’t have seen a problem with women as church planters).

    Like

  18. A. Before the Lord’s supper, the pastor says they like to “think outside the box” in terms of worship, and then they serve Cheez-Its and Coke for the Lord’s Supper. A few years ago it occurred to me to wonder if grapes are a crop that can tolerate any growing conditions at all, since I know that in America they grow everywhere from desert Arizona to cold Michigan—don’t know the answer. Nevertheless, if the pastor apologized that they use local grapes to make their wine and this season there simply aren’t any, so this month they are using wine from another fruit but they’ll find a way to have grape win next month, I’d be OK with that. If wine and bread were available and they were choosing something different, I would not partake and I would not return. I might in fact quietly leave.

    B. You find that the sanctuary is decorated with graffiti cartoons depicting various stories from Scripture. This would show an irreverence incompatible with worship. If I learned that they had just bought the building and they had not yet painted it, that would be different—but I would try out other churches until they had had a chance to do so.

    C. You find the place where children’s church meets to be decorated as in B. The presence of children’s church as an alternative to corporate worship involving the whole covenant community would be less than ideal. Treating it as a childish copy of adult worship that didn’t need reverence would make the decision clear—I wouldn’t return unless I saw it as so inconsistent with the rest of what I saw that they might simply never have thought about it, and might be willing to think about it.

    D. You discover that at least 50% of the songs used in worship are choruses with no more depth than “I Come to the Garden” or are in actual theological error such as a song referencing flame and a turning prayer wheel. I would be disinclined to return. I might seek to find out if this was typical, but I would be inclined to try elsewhere rather than returning.

    E. You discover that wine is the only option (no grape juice) for Communion. Not a problem. This is the biblical pattern. (Grape juice was invented by teetotalers who didn’t like it that churches served wine, and didn’t exist in the early church.)

    F. You see that they serve wine alongside grape juice in Communion, giving members a choice. Not a problem.

    G. The pastor never opens the Bible at all, but references two or three of Aesop’s Fables during the sermon, and draws a spiritual application from them. I wouldn’t be back.

    H. You discover they baptize infants. (Or, alternatively, you discover that they refuse to do so.) Neither option would itself be a deal breaker—though I would probably only attend the Reformed Baptist church if there was really no other option.

    I. You discover that while they limit baptism to believers, they use sprinkling as the mode. Same as H.

    J. They accept into membership a pair of homosexual lovers. Absolutely I wouldn’t be back; they have some basic disagreements with Scripture.

    K. You see three or four members (including a deacon) stepping outside to smoke between Sunday school and church. I wouldn’t like to see this, but I don’t see “Thou shalt not smoke” as a biblical absolute.

    L. They elect a woman as assistant pastor. Deal breaker. I wouldn’t be back. (I did occasionally attend a Lutheran church in Chicago that had a woman assistant pastor. As far as I know, she didn’t preach; I wouldn’t have joined, for that and other reasons.)

    M. They commission two women missionaries, with the assignment of planting a church in a particular unreached country. With an understanding that church planting is a role of elders, I would be concerned about this. Deal breaker? I don’t know, probably not. For my husband, it probably would be.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I think I did the “un-italicize” backward. Let’s try that again.

    A. Before the Lord’s supper, the pastor says they like to “think outside the box” in terms of worship, and then they serve Cheez-Its and Coke for the Lord’s Supper. A few years ago it occurred to me to wonder if grapes are a crop that can tolerate any growing conditions at all, since I know that in America they grow everywhere from desert Arizona to cold Michigan—don’t know the answer. Nevertheless, if the pastor apologized that they use local grapes to make their wine and this season there simply aren’t any, so this month they are using wine from another fruit but they’ll find a way to have grape win next month, I’d be OK with that. If wine and bread were available and they were choosing something different, I would not partake and I would not return. I might in fact quietly leave.

    B. You find that the sanctuary is decorated with graffiti cartoons depicting various stories from Scripture. This would show an irreverence incompatible with worship. If I learned that they had just bought the building and they had not yet painted it, that would be different—but I would try out other churches until they had had a chance to do so.

    C. You find the place where children’s church meets to be decorated as in B. The presence of children’s church as an alternative to corporate worship involving the whole covenant community would be less than ideal. Treating it as a childish copy of adult worship that didn’t need reverence would make the decision clear—I wouldn’t return unless I saw it as so inconsistent with the rest of what I saw that they might simply never have thought about it, and might be willing to think about it.

    D. You discover that at least 50% of the songs used in worship are choruses with no more depth than “I Come to the Garden” or are in actual theological error such as a song referencing flame and a turning prayer wheel. I would be disinclined to return. I might seek to find out if this was typical, but I would be inclined to try elsewhere rather than returning.

    E. You discover that wine is the only option (no grape juice) for Communion. Not a problem. This is the biblical pattern. (Grape juice was invented by teetotalers who didn’t like it that churches served wine, and didn’t exist in the early church.)

    F. You see that they serve wine alongside grape juice in Communion, giving members a choice. Not a problem.

    G. The pastor never opens the Bible at all, but references two or three of Aesop’s Fables during the sermon, and draws a spiritual application from them. I wouldn’t be back.

    H. You discover they baptize infants. (Or, alternatively, you discover that they refuse to do so.) Neither option would itself be a deal breaker—though I would probably only attend the Reformed Baptist church if there was really no other option.

    I. You discover that while they limit baptism to believers, they use sprinkling as the mode. Same as H.

    J. They accept into membership a pair of homosexual lovers. Absolutely I wouldn’t be back; they have some basic disagreements with Scripture.

    K. You see three or four members (including a deacon) stepping outside to smoke between Sunday school and church. I wouldn’t like to see this, but I don’t see “Thou shalt not smoke” as a biblical absolute.

    L. They elect a woman as assistant pastor. Deal breaker. I wouldn’t be back. (I did occasionally attend a Lutheran church in Chicago that had a woman assistant pastor. As far as I know, she didn’t preach; I wouldn’t have joined, for that and other reasons.)

    M. They commission two women missionaries, with the assignment of planting a church in a particular unreached country. With an understanding that church planting is a role of elders, I would be concerned about this. Deal breaker? I don’t know, probably not. For my husband, it probably would be.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Same as Roscuro, A, G, and J are the only immediate deal-breakers. A preponderance of the others would drive me away, but none of them individually would do so.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Cheryl just changed the goal posts on us!

    I still don’t think the graffiti is a deal breaker, permanent or not, depending on the content of the graffiti. Michelangelo’s art in the Sistine Chapel is beautiful in its way, but I really think it is distracting for a place of worship, and his depiction of God as an elderly white haired man is offensive – I wouldn’t say the pictures were idolatrous, because they aren’t worshiped, even by Catholics who use the chapel, but the pictures display a fundamental misunderstanding of the function and person of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. If Michelangelo wanted a visual representation of God creating the world, it would have been less offensive to portray a dove hovering over each of the creation pictures, as it was the Holy Spirit who hovered over the created earth. The form of a dove is a scriptural representation of the Holy Spirit, and it would be an understandable symbol of what Michelangelo was trying to illustrate. I don’t object to illustrations of Christ’s time on earth, or of the visions of Ezekiel and other prophets or the Lamb of Revelation, since the descriptions in the Bible are very visual and produce mental images when one reads the words, but the Father is invisible in the Bible, there is never even an approximate description of his appearance, because the Son is the image of the invisible God. So, if there were cartoons of God as an old white-haired man, I would be talking to the elders about why they thought was acceptable, and if they had no use for my concerns, I wouldn’t be attending.

    The baptism question would have me looking for another church if there were options. As for a woman pastor preaching, I have heard women preach, and it isn’t effective. There it is. We can teach the Bible, even to men (Priscilla and Aquila both taught Apollos), and evangelize unbelievers, and pray or prophesy in public – I would include leading singing of worthwhile hymns in the category of prophecy, since prophecy is not just foretelling, but also forthtelling (applying God’s word to current situations), as Pastor A used to say – but the preaching of the Word from the pulpit (whether it is a physical pulpit or not) belongs to men. It is not because women are not equals of men, but that the responsibility of being under shepherds of the flock of God belongs to men, because Adam was the firstborn. Christ was born only to a woman, but he was born a man, because Adam was a man and Christ was the second Adam. Man have the responsibility, whether in the marriage or in church, to follow Christ’s example of self-sacrificing leadership. That does not make women less than men. Christ refused to treat women as being less important than men, though the culture around him did. Rather, I see Paul’s words about women not preaching I Timothy 2:12-14 as saying that women are not to be burdened, as Eve was burdened in her encounter with Satan, with the foremost position in the spiritual battle that is taking place.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Roscuro, maybe I should have emphasized the “cartoon” part of that, since that was my own mental focus–something that treated the events of Scripture as maybe a graphic novel. I debated whether to specify whether Christ was one of the characters depicted, but elected not to say so either way.

    Actually, this ( https://www.arktimes.com/ArkansasBlog/archives/2006/06/20/baptism-by-firetruck and https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2000/june12/20.25.html), which I remembered from having seen references and photos in two different magazines at the time, was my basis for the “graffiti” question. Cartoony wall art seemed to say “entertain me” and not “worship the true and living God.”

    I also think of a time when I was a young teenager and went with my parents (when we were between churches) to a church that had as part of its morning worship service a depiction of the road to Golgotha . . . using Muppets . . . and, yes, they had a puppet carrying a cross. We didn’t return, though several years later I was home sick from church and tuning the radio dial to find a good church service, I found one. When my family returned, they listened to the end of the sermon with me and, impressed, asked what church it was and I said I didn’t know. It turned out it was that same church, but with a new pastor. A few years after that my oldest brother and his family joined that church, and then Mom did. Mom was a member of that church for about 14 years–five times as long as any church attendance we did at one church when I was a child. (As an adult I have been a member of only one church in each of the cities where I have lived. I choose the church carefully, and wouldn’t leave without very good reason. My church in Chicago and in Nashville I might well have left in a year or two longer, had I been staying in the area longer, in the first case because my own theology changed and in the second because the church was making more and more bad choices.)

    Like

  23. Kim, @ 1:38. None of that describes the women I know.

    As for the Lord’s Supper. It has nothing to do with “thinking outside the box”. The phrase itself is a non-starter for me.

    Liked by 3 people

  24. Cheryl, technically, in art terms, a cartoon is a simple line drawing or sketch, that was historically used as a template for a work of art such as an oil painting. Drawings that use exaggerated features of people or animals are caricatures. A series of cartoons drawn to tell a story are comics. The word cartoon is now popularly used to refer to comics and animations but even then, cartoons can have a wide variety, from being rather realistic to wildly exaggerated, and graphic novels can contain caricature figures, as in the Tintin books, or have figures with more realistic proportions, such as most superhero comics. When I was young, someone gave us a whole set of Bible comics, and I read every one, more than once. I do not now think of Jesus, or any other Biblical figure for that matter, as a comic strip character, those illustrations are not the first thing that comes to mind when I read those stories in the Bible, and nor do I view the Bible as simply entertainment. So, it isn’t generally a deal breaker for me, unless I see it as symptomatic of other, more serious errors.

    Biblical illustrations have their place and it can be a valuable one. In the serendipity that happens in life, while I was typing some of the above, I was also watching Tiny Niece, who was playing quietly with her toys in the same room. I had got out one of the Bibles that was in that room to look up a reference, and Tiny Niece wanted me to read her a story from it, as she asks for every book she sees. So, I turned to the first chapter of Genesis and started reading. She recognized the story and asked to see the pictures. I knew what she meant. I have a children’s book of the Creation that simply contains the text from that first chapter with beautiful illustrations for what was created on each of the days. It does not contain any visual representation of God. She sat, enthralled, as I read it to her and then said, “We can sing the pictures.” I wasn’t exactly sure what she meant by that, but I sang to her ‘How great Thou art’, since it was the first hymn about creation that came to mind. Then she went through the pictures again, pointing to detail, and talking about God making them.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Speaking of cartoons, we were at the courthouse yesterday, to work on a passport for sixteen year old son so he can go truck driving with husband when I am done dealing with son. Son was late to the appointment, of course. Anyway, as we were waiting, the small folk and I were touring the pics on the walls. We found an interesting depiction of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights on one wall. A number (maybe twenty individuals pics addressing various parts of the papers. Towards the center was a reference to Isaiah 28: 10. Precept on precept, line upon line. We talked about what that might mean, how the Constitution is built upon laws that God had put in place long before our country was forming and are written in the hearts of mankind, which is why we know good from evil. And then we came home and read it. Hmmm, not the same thing at all…..Context matters.

    Liked by 3 people

  26. Mumsee, yes, I heard or read Isaiah 28:10 quoted often growing up as a pattern for how to teach children to be good Christians. When I was old enough to understand what Isaiah 28:10 was saying, I wondered why it had ever been used in a positive sense. I have since seen it in lists of misquoted Scriptures.

    Like

  27. Ready or not, school begins today. At least two of mine have never been to this school before and two others have not been with this class.
    May I open my mouth in wisdom and the teaching of kindness be on my lips.

    Liked by 4 people

  28. Janice, thanks for asking.

    It occurred to me that yesterday in the discussion about various hymns that don’t say a whole lot–or that teach actual error–that several people basically had the reply, “It’s just music. If it helps me feel good, that’s really all that matters.” I looked at an article online (and posted the link here yesterday) about a song that has actual error in it (it mixes a Buddhist “prayer wheel” and its flame with Christianity), and saw how people in the comment section of that article, which very carefully explained the error, mostly still defended the song.

    It occurred to me that the singing is the area of the worship service in which error is largely overlooked and accepted. One of my brothers is so opposed to use of alcohol that when he came to my Nashville church to bring his wife to my bridal shower, they stayed seated when the congregation went forward to receive the Lord’s supper because the pastor mentioned that wine was an option (which, interestingly, that week they actually didn’t even offer wine).

    We care that the church not have among its members people who are openly sinning, that they take the Lord’s supper correctly, that the pastor uses the Bible when he preaches. But our music need not undergo any theological scrutiny at all, because that’s “just music” and music is about “my feelings” and what matters is if I “like it” or not. Yet when we speak of music in the church service, we wrongly equate it (and nothing else) with “worship.” The “worship minister” isn’t the one who prays, read Scripture, and preaches, but the one who leads singing.

    When we talk about people having a strong enough preference for music that they will choose a church over it, we use the demeaning term “worship wars.” The person who cares enough that God be worshiped correctly, with music that glorifies and honors Him, is seen as petty! (I am not sure the “war” part is ever used to describe those who insist on music with loud decibels.) Suddenly music isn’t about Him at all, but how about I feel. And worship itself isn’t about Him at all, but about how I feel.

    I also became curious. I know that previous generations of Christians held churches to almost impossible, extrabiblical standards (e.g., whether or not women members wear pants), but I wondered what rises to that level today? So I came up with a list of items that seemed to me like they made a “statement” of some sort of what was acceptable to that church.

    Like

  29. For the record, I’ve been largely pleased with the music in my last two churches (this and the previous one); my husband wasn’t fully satisfied with the music up north, but mostly OK with it. The two churches before that both used more and more meaningless choruses as I attended them (14 years and two senior pastors at one church, 8 years and one pastor at the other). Neither church would have kept me another five years–probably not even another two years–but by the time it was clear I needed to be leaving soon, I was already in the process of a move.

    When we were getting ready for this move, my husband made finding a church the number-one priority. We chose possible towns based on the presence of churches within a few selected denominations. Among those towns, he looked at such things as property tax rates and other elements of livability. Once we narrowed it down to one town we both really liked, he pulled up the church’s website, looked around on it a bit, and started listening to sermons. Eventually I listened to a couple of sermons, too. Liking what we had seen and heard so far, we made a visit here and stayed in a hotel two or three nights. We met with the pastor at a coffee shop for an hour and a half. It may have been on the same visit (I think it was) that we went out with a real-estate agent to get a bit of a feel for what was available. (We later bought our condo through her, but that particular visit was because real estate was so tight down here we wanted to make sure it was even possible to move here. We needed a place to go before we listed our house!)

    We’ve seen people stuck in a community without a good church, either needing to compromise on a church or move, and we didn’t want to be in that situation. He and I are both free to work anywhere–we have that blessing–and though the church wasn’t the only determining factor of where we lived, it was an early part of the process. In fact, when it looked like it might be impossible to get a home we liked here (because of that crazy real-estate market), we briefly considered a nearby town, and my husband listened to a few sermons from the church there. We thought that having two towns and two churches might give us some options, but that one wasn’t satisfactory. At that point we determined that we weren’t being presumptuous to trust God to get us a home here, since we didn’t see any other good options in terms of towns to live in.

    Like

  30. Cheryl, a song sung one Sunday doesn’t really make a statement about a church. The song might be a new one to the church. Supposing the person who picked the song had never heard of a Buddhist prayer wheel before? Wheels are an image in visions of the glory of God (Ezekiel 1:15-21, 10:9-17), and maybe they assumed that the line in the song was some kind of reference to that. Fire and flames are also very much Biblical imagery: the burning bush, the pillar of fire over the tabernacle, the tongues of fire at Pentecost, and the seven burning lamps before the throne in Revelation 4:5. I have never heard the Elvis song before, ergo, I have never heard it sung in church; but, if I attended a church only once which sung the song, I definitely wouldn’t be able to determine that they knew what they were singing. Now, if in the rest of the service, they were consciously blending Eastern mysticism into their worship, then I might be inclined to think the song was symptomatic of a serious issue; but alone, I would need more information.

    Like

  31. A lot to catch up on here since I’ve missed the day (covering the forced shutdown of a favorite waterfront restaurant that’s been here for 57 years — and having to photograph and video all the unfolding drama since no photographer from our staff was available). The dogs didn’t get their breakfast until nearly 4 p.m.

    EEEeeeeee — those squirrels! Too cute.

    Melatonin — my vet suggested I give 3 milligrams of that to Cowboy on the nights he paces (but he hasn’t been pacing, thankfully).

    Like

  32. We are having Bible Study here tonight. I hope people don’t melt. We could sit outside in an hour, it should be cooler.

    Like

  33. As I have mentioned before, I am a classically musician who doesn’t particularly care for most contemporary Christian music, but I have also played with the worship band in the city church, even though that really isn’t my style. My reasoning to begin with was: a) if I wanted the church to modify their style of music, then I would more likely to be heard if I could demonstrate that I knew what I was talking about than if I refused to participate; b) I understood the distinction between personal preference and essential convictions when it came to church music. I have found some of the songs I have played for to be banal and forgettable, others have decent words but unsingable melodies, but the majority have been of better quality than I expected when I first agreed to participate. The worship pastor makes an effort in his choices, and if I do not always agree with those choices for reasons of musical taste and knowledge that there are perhaps better songs on the same subject out there, I appreciate the effort. There was only one time that I played with the band that one of the songs was the one with the truly cringeworthy line “heaven greets earth with an unforeseen kiss” (an earlier version of the song even more infamously had ‘sloppy wet kiss’). I have reason to think that the worship pastor was not the one who selected that particular song and that it was the choice of the person who was leading the band that Sunday. The worship pastor was just playing part of the instrumental accompaniment that Sunday; however, he completely changed the words in that line, merely saying he had heard a better substitute, and what he suggested was a better wording than either of the above options (I forget just what it was, but I remember feeling much more comfortable with it). That showed me that he was conscientious about the words he was singing, and also good at gently correcting those who perhaps weren’t as discerning.

    There are many flaws in modern church music, and much could be improved. I have, however, observed a tendencies among the naysayers of contemporary music that makes me think that sometimes they might need to remove their log before trying to take out their brother’s speck (not personally directed at anyone here). I recall reading a Catholic’s critique of the popular modern Christmas song ‘Mary did you know?’ in which the Catholic fumed about the theological inaccuracy of insinuating that Mary didn’t know who her son was. It never seemed to occur to the critic that the question to Mary was actually a poetic device asking a rhetorical question, and not meant to say anything about Mary’s knowledge or lack thereof. I have seen similar humourless and completely literal critiques of songs which show me that perhaps the critics need to learn a little about literary devices such as metaphor, simile, and personification. Other critics are simply snobbish, mourning that contemporary music is no longer decorous or cerebral enough (read: complicated classical arrangements), and that it regrettably appeals too much to popular (read: plebian) taste. As a classically trained musician who was also taught to appreciate classics in literature and art, I have experienced this tendency to snobbishness in the past, especially in my self-righteous teen years. But the Bible is a sharp sword indeed, and this verse helped puncture my little balloon, so I quote it to myself every time I see my personal artistic taste getting in the way of fellowship with other believers:
    Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend [means: yield, submit] to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Romans 12:6

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Roscuro, most certainly I wouldn’t judge one poor choice in one service. As I mentioned, two of the churches I’ve attended as an adult had poor to bad choices in music. The first of those started out with fairly good music, by just about any standard. Their organist was “past his prime,” but had been a famous musician as a young man. (I had heard of him before I met him.) We had a soloist who had been trained in opera in Italy. We had a pipe organ that made the front cover of a CT magazine. We had a harpist (she didn’t play often, but how many churches have a harp at all?).

    But I attended that church well over a decade, and saw their music slip into mediocrity and beyond. Eventually it wasn’t at all uncommon for us to sing that same chorus seven or eight times straight. I once counted four or five new songs (first time we’d ever sung them) in a single service, with two more the next week. Sometimes it was just tedious, mind-numbingly so, and occasionally it was worse than that. I actually considered getting to church half an hour late just to avoid half of the music. A “praise team” often sang instead of letting the congregation sing, and they too might sing the same few words ten or twelve times. People would clap to the rhythm of a song and then applaud afterward. But it was my church family, and I continued to attend until I left Chicago.

    I suppose there must have some people at that church who actually liked the music my last four or five years there. But watching the decline, I was quite struck that whether or not we “like” the singing, and whether or not it yanks our emotions, is the wrong standard. It did not advance the worship of God; it was vain repetition, and by musical standards it was also truly awful. But just as we can’t really judge whether a sermon is good by whether people “like” it, I don’t think that is a good standard for any part of the worship service. Yes, culture is going to affect musical style, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with some level of variation from one church to another (to some degree). But what people “like” can’t really be the standard in the worship of the living God. Worship isn’t about us.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Some of the problem with some of the songs used today in worship is that they are really written for radio. Those in the music business are interested in songs with a good ‘hook.’ The more use of that hook (both in the notes and the words) the better to hook people into listening. However, that does not necessarily make a good worship song.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Cheryl, it isn’t about what people like, true, but what those who want only the old style don’t seem to understand, that not everyone understands the old music. Let me put it this way. I know rabid KJV only-ites. I remember a brief debate with one such, in which I had merely mentioned that sometimes people found it easier to understand a newer translation and he whipped back a reply that since people studied Shakespeare in high school, therefore they ought to be able to understand the KJV. That reply got me thinking, about how the reason that people study Shakespeare in high school is because they can’t understand his language anymore and need to be taught how to understand it – the common man of Shakespeare’s day, on the other hand, would have had no trouble understanding him. For those who laud the KJV, much is made of the Reformation struggle to translate the Bible into the vernacular, and Tyndale’s defiant words that he would see to it that even the plowboy could read the scriptures for himself; but they cannot seem to see that the modern day plowboy is the working class Christian who failed the 12th grade English class which included a play by Shakespeare. The KJV only-ites have, like the English clergy who clung to the Latin Vulgate (which, in Jerome’s day, was the language of the common man) in Tyndale’s time, clung to the old language as being more spiritual and only for the educated to truly appreciate. So it is with music.

    Few people, even on this blog, listen much to classical music anymore. So why must its conventions be the only valid rule for church music? Most people now listen to music that contains guitars and a percussion instrument, whether they prefer country, or pop, or rock, or reggae. Those are the instruments of the common man, and the common man doesn’t really relate to other kinds of instrumentation. The classical composers of the 18th and 19th century were enormously popular, and some were the music superstars of their day, but that day is past. Quality music can be played on guitars, keyboard, and percussion, and there is nothing in the Bible that would preclude their use. The Psalms clearly, from their headings and their words, had a variety of instrumentation, including plucked string instruments and percussion. Furthermore, the instrumentation of the temple musicians wasn’t so very far off the instrumentation of popular music of the time. The timbrel, for example, is mentioned in Scripture as being used for both worship and other, secular, celebratory dances. Worship isn’t about us in one sense, but in another, it will reflect who we are, mere humans, limited by our time and place in history. The Church isn’t simply a time capsule of the past.

    Liked by 2 people

  37. Also, the Church isn’t bound by one culture. Other cultures have their own musical forms and instrumentation. Complaint has been made about repetition in modern Christian music and there is some validity to that, but the Wolof praise songs that I learned were very repetitious, because repetition increases the significance of a statement in that culture, as demonstrated by the repetition that takes place in a meeting among leaders, where the leader speaks and then the official speaker repeats the leader’s words loudly so that all at the gathering can hear them, and as demonstrated by words like leegi (quickly) and ndanke (slowly) that are made into double words to intensify their meaning – leegi-leegi (very quickly), ndanke-ndanke (very slowly). The city church is gradually becoming more multicultural (in a city full of immigrants, it ought to be), and it is interesting to see what musicians of other cultures bring to the worship – I really appreciate the Indian percussionist who sometimes plays, as he has very good taste in choosing what percussion to bring into a song and doesn’t tend to drown out everyone else.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.