Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Worship Wars: Hymns Verses Contemporary Worship

A few years ago I received the following as an email forward. It put so much of the Worship Wars stuff into perspective. I only received the first half of it the first time - a few months later, someone had added the second half.

An old farmer went to the city one weekend and attended the big city church. He came home and his wife asked him how it was. "Well," said the farmer, "It was good. They did something different, however. They sang praise choruses instead of hymns."
"Praise choruses," said his wife, "What are those?" "Oh, they're okay. They're sort of like hymns, only different," said the farmer.

"Well, what's the difference?" asked his wife.

The farmer said, "Well it's like this ‑ If I were to say to you: `Martha, the cows are in the corn,' well that would be a hymn. If, on the other hand, I were to say to you:

Martha Martha, Martha, Oh, Martha, MARTHA, MARTHA,
the cows, the big cows, the brown cows, the black cows,
the white cows, the black and white cows,
the COWS, COWS, COWS are in the corn,
are in the corn, are in the corn, are in the corn,
then, if I were to repeat the whole thing two or three times, well that would be a praise chorus."


As luck would have it, the exact same Sunday a young, new Christian from the city church attended the small town church. He came home and his wife asked him how it was. "Well," said the young man, "It was good. They did something different, however. They sang hymns instead of regular songs."
"Hymns," said his wife, "What are those?"
"Oh, they're okay. They're sort of like regular songs, only different," said the young man.
"Well, what's the difference?" asked his wife.
The young man said, "Well it's like this ‑ If I were to say to you, `Martha, the cows are in the corn,' well that would be a regular song. If, on the other hand, I were to say to you:

Oh Martha, dear Martha, hear Thou my cry
Inclinest thine ear to the words of my mouth.
Turn Thou Thy whole wondrous ear by and by
To the righteous, inimitable, glorious truth.

For the way of the animals who can explain
There in their heads is no shadow of sense,
Hearkenest they in God's sun or his rain
Unless from the mild, tempting corn they are fenced.

Yea those cows in glad bovine, rebellious delight,
Have broke free their shackles, their warm pens eschewed.
Then goaded by minions of darkness and night
They all my mild Chilliwack sweet corn have chewed.

So look to that bright shining day by and by,
Where all foul corruptions of earth are reborn.
Where no vicious animal makes my soul cry
And I no longer see those foul cows in the corn.

Then, if I were to do only verses one, three, and four and do a key change on the last verse, well that would be a hymn."

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Leading Musical Worship; Paul Baloche DVDs, etc...

I think I first publicly (and privately) admitted how much I enjoyed leading musical worship about 2 years ago. I actually don't do it as often as I used to.

Some of my high school students are going to be leading worship at Hidden Acres this weekend. It's a wonderful chance for them and for me. We're not amazing musicians (in fact, none of us are above average (though some of them may be, some day). It is amazing how the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. I guess I'm asking for prayer.

Here are a few thoughts on leading worship (and I'll ask some questions at the end).

The most simple principle and its practical ramifications.

Principle: More than anything else, it is imperative that those leading worship are worshiping.
The obvious - my walk with Christ must be growing - and our team must be spiritually together.
We must eliminate as many distractions as we can.

From a musical standpoint: We must so know what we are doing up there, that we can focus on Jesus (rather than on notes, theory, dynamics, plan, etc...).
SO - we must practice well - and really know what we are doing.

My point - practicing well and having everyone really know what is going on is key.

I just bought some DVDs by Paul Baloche. They aren't as deep as I hoped for, but are very good stuff. My summary of 2 of them.

Worship Band Workshop (or something close to that title) was very good. Summary - dynamics; playing less; not filling the same space (if piano is playing around middle C - guitar should move up higher); metronome; Dynamics!; Less is more

Creating Flow - Summary: Choosing Songs so that they flow together - so there isn't distracting dead time or hard stops. Keys - tempo, key of song, key changes, not ending a song all the time - more fading into the next one.

Do you use a metronome much (personally or in worship practice with the full band)?
What worship resources do you know about that are worthwhile?
How much do you work on flow in worship? What helps you do this?

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Buying Grace?? - Legalism

"Legalism is like trying to buy grace."

This is a new phrase that I made up (though someone has probably made it up before me).

My pastor and I were talking about "Christian legalism" last week - he was asking for an illustration - and we got carried away talking about legalism in general (I am a recovering legalist). I like rules and could easily live with rules. For years God has been working in me to change my heart (I still follow nearly all of the same "rules", but my heart has changed).

Let me clarify what I mean by Christian legalism. It is not simply have a rule in a gray area (that is a conviction - and is a good thing). Legalism rears its ugly head when my conviction leads me to conclude that you are less spiritual because you do what I don't do (or don't do what I do). Let me say again that having convictions in gray areas is a good thing - the other option would be to be a moral zombie (maybe that's too harsh).

I got to thinking more about legalism - and realized I so easily try to "buy grace" from God. I think that if I do my devos, love my family, help hurting people, go to prayer meeting... - that God will love me more - or at least be more impressed with me (I also try buy grace by NOT doing things as well). Unconsciously, I am so often trying to buy grace. But the problem is that buying grace is impossible - grace must be unmerited, otherwise it's not grace.

I believe a word for "buying grace" is Simony - (the attempt to buy grace for money named after Simon the sorcerer rebuked by Peter in Acts). At one point in history (sparking the Reformation) - this was seen in the sale of indulgences - "As the gold in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs." I just don't think we've come that from there - at least I haven't. It's a daily struggle.

How are you trying to buy grace? Any thoughts?

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Rosebud Visit

I took a few students out to Wood, SD, to visit the kids we work with every summer. We left early Friday morning and returned on Sunday. It was a bit disheartening. The student we had the most hope in tried to commit suicide, stole from a bar, and is now in Oregon for school (probably a good thing). Other students we've known for years have been removed from their homes (some for counseling and a safer home; others because they've started the abusive practices that they formerly endured). So few Native Americans were there.

There was some good. A kid who was gone last summer but who we knew from previous summers was back - and we thought he was doing better. I now have a key to the Native American Community Building (to keep). There were some relationships that were strengthened.

We trust that God, in His sovereignty, still has plans for each student we've spent time with. We plan to head back this summer - and we'll see who God brings our way.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Mike Huckabee

I think Mike Huckabee is the best option we have - and a pretty good one at that. I have heard many attacks on him - and every single one that I've checked out, his response / answers are great. If you haven't checked out his site, here it is.

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