Thursday, March 15, 2007

all - The Housekeeper Who Married the Master

I have been reading a neat commentary on Romans recently by Stuart Olyott. (Welwyn Series) In commenting on Romans 6-8 he gives this parallel:
The Law and Grace are like a housekeeper who worked for a man. She didn't do a very good job, and one day he posted a list of rules in the kitchen for her to follow. This had two effects. The first was that she realized she had been doing a poor job, and the second was to entice her to commit infractions she had never before considered (e.g. putting tea leaves down the sink). She also resented the rules. In time however, she married the master and became his wife. He took down the list of rules, but she, knowing them, delighted in still following them, because now she loved him.

It reminded me of when I was first married to David, and how I would delight to do things to please him, and now after ten years how I still try to do things to delight him - that same attitude should be present when I consider God's laws, not just a dry and legalistic carrying out of them, or worse, a disregard for them.

Sometimes we sin by ignoring the law, and sometimes by adhering in a loveless way. May God quicken our hearts through His Spirit so we may please Him by our devotion!

Nine - Broken Chocolates and Weak Churches

Lying is forbidden in the ninth commandment and as the Sermon on the Mount makes clear, this is a call not just from sin, but to unquestionable truthfulness in all our dealings.

A recent incident with my middle son, Benjamin (3), reminded me of how failure to fully obey this commandment has contributed to the crisis of leadership we are seeing in the contemporary church.
A beautiful new box of boutique chocolates I had purchased for my wife was knocked from the table, the box badly torn and many of the chocolates ruined. Benjamin, the only one near when it happened, when questioned was reluctant to answer and what answers he did give denied any role in the accident. After a more thorough questioning in my study, it became obvious that he had been trying to tear open the box and dropped them. He was disciplined not only for the original infraction, but for the subsequent lies as well.

Truthfulness has a strong connection with responsibility. Conversely, lying typically involves avoidance of responsibilities. We will lie to avoid the consequences of our actions (E.g. “Who took the cookies from the jar?” “Philip did!”) or to deceive others (and possibly ourselves) about whom we are (to deny failings or exaggerate qualities).

Biblical masculinity and leadership involves taking responsibility for others and begins by taking responsibility for ourselves. Of course, we each throw ourselves upon the mercy of God and rely upon Him, but His grace and sovereignty do not in any way negate our responsibilities.

When a boy lies about stealing cookies, or the shifts the blame, or makes excuses (as Adam did in Gen. 3) he is trying to avoid responsibility (and, he hopes, the consequences) for his choices. If left unchecked, such a boy will, I fear, grow to be a man who does the same.

Good leadership also requires honesty about who we are. A good leader will have no illusions about his sinfulness but will deal with it by repentance and the forgiveness of God and others. But this requires unflinching honesty. Similarly, a godly leader will recognize which of his skills are weak and either strive to improve or wisely delegate.

A man who constantly puffs himself up and exaggerates his character or minimizes his faults will lack the clear sightedness necessary to properly address them. May God grant us godly leaders who speak and act truthfully.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Two, Three – Trivial Worship? Part Two

Kingdom Bound is a Christian music festival held at Darien Lake in New York State each summer. We received the promotional literature about it last Friday, and as I looked through the brochure was struck by how many of the featured performers were actually ‘worship leaders’ (E.g. Chris Tomlin, Lincoln Brewster, etc.). It was striking because only fifteen years ago, the headliners at the festival were full-on, entertainment oriented rock bands. I don’t mean that in any pejorative sense, just that while previous entertainers may have had a ministry and felt a distinctive call, they did not feel that call was to lead musical worship in the way the term is currently understood (E.g. Petra, Whiteheart, Degarmo & Key).

It made me wonder again about the blurring of the distinction between worship and entertainment. When we exalt song leaders as celebrities, or groove along to “Holy is the Lord” in the same way that others have grooved to “Say It Right”, are we not in some way trivializing our worship of God? When we make “Amazing Grace” just another campfire sing-a-long, do we lessen the majesty of it, just as we might lessen the sobriety of the Lord’s Table if we used the cup to drink freshie, or reduce the impact of the Word if we were to put tidbits of it on bumper stickers and T-shirts? How to we reconcile worshiping the Almighty God with reverence and awe with the jokesy, folksy attitude prevalent in so many of our churches?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

three - Trivial Worship?

David and I had a neat discussion at breakfast this morning. David had noted that a lot of the current Christian music available was morphing closing to "worship music" and that the musicians were often known as "worship leaders". He was wondering if this was a good thing or a bad thing.

It made me think about some of the music I listen to. I received a nice set of CDs for Christmas by City on a Hill that I listen to often. Sometimes listening to their music makes me glorify God in an active way and think about Him, praise Him and worship Him. But sometimes I just have it on in the background - or just to groove to.

Is this wrong?