Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Tomlin/ Redman Concert

Some of us from New Season went on Saturday to the Hylton Memorial Chapel to take in the Indescribable Tour featuring Chris Tomlin with Matt Redman and Louie Giglio.

I have to say that it was a great experience though I had to sit next to this guy who was off key the whole night and throwing me off. I think his name was Steve and he leads some band for one of those off the wall churches. You know the kind I am talking about.

What was so great about the evening? It was great to see so many Christ followers excited about their God and Savior and their faith. Their was a great energy in the room and the Holy Spirit was moving through the music in powerful ways. Both Christ Tomlin and Matt Redman were great worship leaders. And it was worship! That is what was also so great about it. It was a worshipful atmosphere. It wasn't "hey look at me I am Mr. Christian Rock Star Man." Instead the music was interspersed with prayer, scripture and a whole sense of "this is not about us." That made the music event that much more wonderful.

They did have the words to the song projected which was really great and the background images were phenomenal. We at New Season use moving backgrounds but these guys not only used moving backgrounds but the moving backgrounds switched in the midst of a song instead of just having one background per song.

Beside the guy who couldn't sing next to me there were a couple of other downers. While the Hylton Memorial Chapel is pretty great the lack of restrooms and water fountains was noticeable. Also, the seating was such that it was level so for a vertically challenged person like me it was hard to see the song lyrics if someone's oversized melon was in your way. All that was minor stuff. I would have liked to have seen more Matt Redman but it was after all a Chris Tomlin WITH Matt Redman concert.

Overall, a great experience. Great worship! Great concert! Very glad I went!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Some of you may have heard Grace's story. At nineteen months old, Grace Oughton was diagnosed with a rapidly progressing cancer called Neuroblastoma. Grace’s rare form of cancer requires her to travel to a specialty center where she is currently undergoing chemotherapy and other aggressive treatments at Children’s Hospital – Boston and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Jimmy Fund Clinic.
A group of friends and family members established the Grace Oughton Cancer Foundation to support the family and health care needs of Grace. This foundation is a charity under the umbrella of the National Heritage Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization.

Grace is the young daughter of Alec and Crystal Oughton, a loving couple who are dedicated to their community. Alec is a career firefighter and paramedic. Crystal is a registered nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, St Mary’s Hospital in Richmond. Grace also has a 3 year old brother, Landon.

To make a donation to the Grace Oughton Foundation click here. To visit Grace's site and learn more click here.

New Season Church will be holding a Benefit Concert/ Prayer Service for Grace and family on Sunday February 12th at 6:00 p.m. at the Massaponax High School. Admission is free and a special love offering to benefit the Grace Oughton Foundation will be received. Please spread the word.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

What Women Wish Men Knew About Women

Here is the podcast for the first message in the series "Making Love Last a Life Time".

To listen now, click on the podcast icon below.

What Women Wish Men Knew About Women (Length 19:14)

Women in a survey were asked what they needed to feel loved by their husbands. They responded with answers that can be grouped into the four A's. Affection, Attentiveness, Active involvement in the Home, and Appreciation. When husbands carry out the four A's that help women feel loved they put deposits into the accounts of their wife's love banks.

This message is from the series "Making Love Last a Lifetime." The series is based on a series first done by the Rev. Adam Hamilton at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas. The series examines issues that help to strengthen marriages and relationships.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Raising Ebenezer

Gary Parret, associate professor of educational ministries and worship at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, has an article over at Christianity Today bemoaning the changing of hymns for the sake of making them understandable for the vast majority of church goers. Read the article here. Parret adds an interesting voice to the debate and forces those of us who do "update" language in hymns to give an account.

Using the hymn "Come Thou Fount" as an example Parret writes, "I seize every opportunity to publicly lament modern revisions of that beloved hymn, "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing," written by Robert Robinson in 1758. The revisions all seem to agree on deleting "Ebenezer" from the hymn's second verse, which begins, "Here I raise mine Ebenezer." Some of the "improvements" offered through the years include: "Hitherto thy love has blest me," "Here by grace your love has brought me," and "Here I raise to thee an altar."

Parret makes three points about changing the wording of hymns.

1. He protests first on artistic grounds. The hymn writer knew what he/she wanted to write who are we to change it.

2. Second, the revisions are, at best, inconsistent attempts to be culturally relevant. He suggests that the revisions are done haphazardly and inconsistently.

3. Third, he protests on biblical grounds. By changing a word like "ebenezer" we are robbing people of biblical literacy.

Let me react in turn.

1. As to the protest on artistic grounds I would suggest that the hymn writer's intent was not to once and forever have an indelible hymn. I would think the hymn writer's intent was to help people experience God. If that means changing a word or two to make in more understandable for persons and thus help them to be transformed by the grace of God I think they could probably give a rat's you know what. We will have to ask them in the "sweet bye and bye" (notice I didn't change the words of that wonderful hymn)- translation- we will have to ask them in heaven.

2. As to inconsistency I do not think an argument that generalizes like this has much power. Has a study been done that shows churches that change words have done so inconsistently?

3. Professor Parret's third protest is kind of funny. I am sorry. But I am willing to bet in the churches that have sung "Come Thou Fount" over the last twenty years and among the parishioners that have sung the hymn, that I can count with all nine of my toes the number that know what in the world ebenezer means (even among people who have been in the church all their life). I am sure they ran home and got their concordance. Now I think an argument can be made that the worship leader might explain what it means for persons and therefore bring more meaning out of the hymn. I must confess that I went to seminary for three years, took two Old Testament courses and until a couple of years ago had no idea what was meant by "I raise my ebenezer." Then again, I didn't go to Gordon-Conwell.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Prayer of Confession

I like to teach the ACTS method for ordering prayer.

A- Adoration
C- Confession
T- Thanksgiving
S- Supplication

In order to keep my prayer life fresh I use different methods to offer my adoration of God or to confess my own, our church, and our communities sins. I came across this prayer of confession from Preaching Now. I found it in there email newsletter.
to subscribe go here.

From the words of a Puritan prayer:
I am deeply convinced of the evil and misery of a sinful state,of the vanity of creatures, but also of the sufficiency of Christ.
When thou wouldst guide me I control myself,
When thou wouldst be sovereign I rule myself.
When thou wouldst take care of me I suffice myself.
When I should depend on thy providings I supply myself,
When I should submit to thy providence I follow my will,
When I should study, love, honour, trust thee, I serve myself;
I fault and correct thy laws to suit myself,
Instead of thee I look to man's approbation,and am by nature an idolater.
Lord, it is my chief design to bring my heart back to thee.
Convince me that I cannot be my own god, or make myself happy,nor my own Christ to restore my joy,nor my own Spirit to teach, guide, and rule me . . . Then take me to the cross and leave me there. (from The Valley of Vision)

UnLearning Church

I just got through with Mike Slaughter's book UnLearning Church and it was as to be expected being from Mike Slaughter just great. Mike is the "Chief Dreamer" from Ginghamsburg church in Tipp City, Ohio. I recommend the book. Here are some quotes I thought were especially good.

"Peter did the impossible because he responded to the voice of Jesus instead of listening to the storms and the fears of others. Peter did not begin to experience problems until he began to pay attention to the raging water through his physical eyes." p. 25

"My wife and best friend, Carolyn, often reminds me that if God could speak through Balaam's ass (see Numbers 22:28-35), God can also speak through me." p. 27

"Christianity is anything but nice. It is extreme. There are no middles. Everywhere these people went, either revolutions or riots occurred. It was radical." p. 75

"Don't spend your life on something so small that you accomplish it out of your "can do"- and that you do it without God." p. 132

"Does your image or identity come from what you have? from what you do? or from Christ who you follow?" p. 189

Friday, January 06, 2006

Book of Daniel Controversy

Perhaps you have heard some rumblings about the new NBC sitcom Book of Daniel. Here is an article from our buddies at newsmax.com about the controversy. I must admit that seeing some of the preview caused me to raise an eyebrow. The show apparently will center on an Episcopalian priest who struggles with a little self-medication problem, and has a 23-year-old son who's gay, and a 16-year-old daughter who's caught dealing pot, and another son who's jumping on every high school girl he sees, and a wife who's very loving but also likes her martinis. Jesus makes occasional appearances to talk with Priest Daniel and usually flippantly dismisses the sin dramatized in the good priest's life and the life of his family.

Of course the AFA and others are up in arms. I have received a few emails from people about writing to NBC. There was a time when I too would be up in arms. But not anymore. I take the "plunder the Egyptians" track now. Lets use this putrid Hollywood show to start a dialogue with people about how Jesus would respond to such issues as those faced by Priest Daniel. Whether we like it or not, the Jesus portrayed in this show will be the view of Jesus that many people have. It will be the only one they get. Are we so inadequate as the church that we have to worry about a show that will more than likely be cancelled after one season? Are we as a church that impotent? Does the church have a responsibility to be spreading the Gospel instead of opposing t.v. shows? I am speaking of the church universal here.

It's kind of like the wonderful embrace of the Narnia movie by most Christians. It is said "oh we must take advantage of the popularity of the Narnia movie to bring people to Christ." Really? Do we really think that unbelievers are going to go see the Narnia movie and make the connection between a talking lion and Christ and all of the other wonderfully woven images and metaphors of the master C.S. Lewis and all of a sudden want to know more about Christ. Just like the Passion of the Christ was supposed to mark the revival of the church. Erhnt- survey says- wrong answer. I am with Dan Kimball on this and think that we have a better opportunity to reach unbelievers through the release in May of the Davinchi Code movie.

In the end we as the church must spend more time plundering the Egyptians instead of whining about the Egyptians!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

It Is Still Christmas

Though in most cases the tress have been taken down, the lights put away and the bad gifts returned it is still Christmas.

Christmas officially starts on Christmas Eve and continues for twelve days until January 6th and ends in what is known as Epiphany. Epiphany marks the time when the wisemen came to see the baby Jesus. But for most of us, including Christians, Christmas ended a couple of days after December 25th. Why?

The answer has more to do with economics. As we all know Christmas used to start right after Thanksgiving. Now it starts right after Halloween. In the shopping world it ends a few days after Christmas after all the stores seek to woo you back in with after Christmas discounts.

If you are like me, by the time the real twelve days of Christmas rolls around you are pretty much sick of it all. We took our tree down around the first of the year. There is an old tradition whereby people didn't put there tree up until Christmas Eve and left it up until Epiphany. This might be one action we might take to remember to worship Christ the babe born in Bethlehem instead of Madison Avenue. That is something worth thinking about.