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Good and Scared

Last night we sat outside watching an impressive line of thunderstorms slowly roll in from the west.  We were visiting TJ and Julie in Greensburg, Kansas.  So, the endless expanse and far horizons of central Kansas makes storms visible long before you can actually hear the first rumblings of thunder.  Greensburg, you may recall, was the Kansas town all but wiped from the face of the earth in 2007 by an EF-5 tornado.

What is so fascinating about them is that we are so fascinated in them. 

Let's Sing that Phrase Again . . . and Again . . .

One complaint many raise against contemporary praise music is that it is so repetitious.  The same phrase is sung over and over.  Melodies and lyrics.  Over and over.  It is hard to argue with that observation.  What is less clear, however, is whether it is a fair criticism.

Typically, people compare contemporary praise songs with the printed hymns and gospel songs that made up Sunday worship in the 1960s and 70s.  In these songs, four or five or six separate verses are sung.  While the melody line and, in some cases, the chorus or refrain repeats, the bulk of the song does not.  Verse after verse.  Each with new lyrics.  Oh, how we long to hear those sweet words, "And now let's sing verses seven and eight . . ."

In reality, there are several problems with the criticism.

Crowded

      So, here’s what happened.
      I sat down for a nice lunch.  I was actually looking forward to it.  I was waiting for the food to be served when this big redneck in overalls plopped down right beside me.
      “Howdy,” he grinned, unembarrassed by his two missing front teeth.
      “Hello,” I mumbled back politely.
      Focus.  Focus.  It’s okay.  Maybe he’ll leave in a few minutes.  And then I’ll have the table to myself again.
      “You savin’ this for somebody?” I turned to see who talked and this genuinely large black guy was already sitting down on the other side of me.
      Redneck on the left.  Urban black guy on the right.
      “Great,” I thought. 
      Mental note: This is not to time to bring up the Zimmerman case.

A Visitor's Guide to Evangelical Worship

Visiting an evangelical church for Sunday worship for the first time can be a daunting experience.  A paramount concern for many of us is that we not look like we are visiting an evangelical worship service for the first time.  Here are some helpful excerpts from the new book The Outsider's Guide to Evangelical Worship by T. Zing, published by RUSirius Books:

Praise Band:  The musicians on stage - even if it isonly a guitar player and a guy playing bongos.

Late for Worship

Did you ever arrive at church only to find that worship had started without you.  It's one of those times we tend to be glad if people are standing.  Standing makes it easier to slip into a service in progress.  Fortunately, church members are often so thoughtful of latecomers, they graciously leave the very best seats in the sanctuary, the ones right up front, for us.

And, we are not as sure of things if the service has already started.  What did we miss?  Have they sung one song already?  Two?  Five?  "Next time I'll be here before worship begins."

That, however, would require getting up early.  Really early.  Like before we were born early.  Before the church itself was born.  Before the stars were thrown hurled across the unimaginable immensity of time and space.  That kind of early.  Worship never begins with us. 

Jesus Did Not Want to Die

At least at one point, Jesus did not want to die for your sins.

Central to historic orthodox faith is the assertion that Christ is "the only Son of God" and is "God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God."  This unique nature of eternal Logos incarnate in human flesh is a central claim of Christianity.  A second assertion, also held to be central and essential, is that Christ is "truly man" (or, in a more contemporary wording, "really human").

Escaping Zurich: Why Evangelicals Get Communion Wrong

Escaping Zurich: Why (many) Evangelicals Get Communion Wrong

The language we use when talking about Communion has a great deal more to do with our history than our Bibles. 

[note: Although written primarily for churches of the Stone-Campbell Movement that practice weekly communion with an assumed Zwinglian theology, the following is also broadly applicable to most American Protestants]

A quick review of any English Bible will demonstrate words like memorial or emblematic or symbolic are not actually found in any of the passages about Communion.  So, where do they come from and why do we hear them so often?  The flip side of that question might be: why are there a number of biblical phrases and teachings about the Lord’s Supper we rarely hear?