Saturday, September 15, 2012

Surprised by Judges 2

This morning as I got out my Bible and schedule for daily readings I got excited! It is Judges 2-5 today! And you know what that means.... EHUD!  So I began reading in chapter two and a verse immediately jumped out at me. Joshua had just died, after living through all the amazing works coming out of Egypt and then through the wilderness, and then as God gave Canaan to Israel. But then it says this:

And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel. (Judges 2:10 ESV)
 The very next generation after Joshua did not know about all that God had done for Israel! No wonder everything spiraled downhill after Joshua all the way to David! And then time and time again in the OT we see generation after generation not aware of what God had/has done for them.

I just made me think about how I am passing on the greatness of God to my kids. Will I allow them to not know what God has done? Will I take this taks lightly, and just assume they will know God? I often am confronted with students in Uganda who think they know God just because they came from a Christian family. But will my kids just assume they know God because they came from a Christian family? It becomes different when you personalize it, rather than criticizing what you see in others.

God, help me instruct my children in your ways, so that they know you and your many great works!
And now, onto EHUD!... And SHAMGAR!

As a bonus feature of this post, here is a video of a song that has really been encouraging my faith recently.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Struggling to worship (musically)

Today I have been listening to the new Passion - White Flag album. I often find, like many Christians, that worship music that is well done really gives a lift to my soul. But I often struggle fully engaging with it, thinking that it is the well done harmonies, drum beats, and overall sound that is lifting me, not the words or the connection to God.

This internal analysis is heightened at a "worship concert/event" where there are flashy lights, attractive visuals behind displayed lyrics, and stylish leaders. Then you begin looking around at others engaging in worship, and you ponder, "what is the focus of their worship?" Is it God, or is it the show?

I also find myself really analyzing the lyrics of the songs being sung. Often the words are really solid, but the melody is weak, making it hard to engage. Then there are the songs that sound great, but the lyrics are weak. Or they describe God more as a boyfriend than as a glorious Saviour.

So this is the struggle I face. I am tempted to turn off my critical view of the whole thing, and just engage. But I want to worship God in Spirit AND in truth. It is a struggle for me.

However, when we are lucky enough to be blessed by a song that has solid lyrics as well as well done musically, that is when it is just so great to worship with all our heart! One of the greatest examples of this for me personally is "In Christ Alone". You are basically singing the story of the gospel, with great passion and excitement as the song builds and reaches conclusion. The music and lyrics combine to tell the great story!

Do others struggle with this same tension when in musical worship settings? What are some things you have found helpful?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Radical Depravity of Man

This morning I listened to a sermon called, "The Radical Depravity of Man", preached by a Pastor named Conrad Mbewe. He is a Pastor in Lusaka, Zambia, which is a cultural and religious context quite similar to that in Uganda. He is also known as "The African Spurgeon."

This sermon helped to to understand things a bit better about the religious context I am ministering in. He said that in this part of Africa you will see many pray the 'sinners prayer', or 'give their lives to Christ', especially when missions teams come in, or when there is a big outreach meeting, but you will rarely see any of those 'converts' after their initial decision. 

The reason for this is that our hearts are naturally disinclined from God. The main passage for this is found in Romans 3:9-18. Here Paul writes that “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God." The reason that people don't stick around after a supposed conversion experience is that people need to be transformed supernaturally by God. They cannot do this on their own because on their own they will never seek God.

These are not necessarily new truths for me. But it was insightful to have them applied to the religious context that I currently find myself. What a gift of God that gospel truths can be applied to each culture and context we find ourselves! 

For anyone who will be doing ministry in the global south in the next little while, I would highly recommend this sermon to help your theological lenses more accurately interpret the culture. 

Friday, January 06, 2012

How to Stay Alive in the beauty of God's World

This post from Desiring God really spoke to me today. I think we often move around too fast to really appreciate the things on this important list.

In a 1976 lecture, Kilby gave ten steps on how to stay alive to the beauty of God's world:
  1. At least once every day I shall look steadily up at the sky and remember that I, a consciousness with a conscience, am on a planet traveling in space with wonderfully mysterious things above me and about me.
  2. Instead of the accustomed idea of a mindless and endless evolutionary change to which we can neither add nor subtract, I shall suppose the universe guided by an Intelligence which, as Aristotle said of Greek drama, requires a beginning, a middle and an end. I think this will save me from the cynicism expressed by Bertrand Russell before his death, when he said: "There is darkness without and when I die there will be darkness within. There is no splendour, no vastness anywhere, only triviality for a moment, and then nothing."
  3. I shall not fall into the falsehood that this day, or any day, is merely another ambiguous and plodding twenty-four hours, but rather a unique event filled, if I so wish, with worthy potentialities. I shall not be fool enough to suppose that trouble and pain are wholly evil parentheses in my existence but just as likely ladders to be climbed toward moral and spiritual manhood.
  4. I shall not turn my life into a thin straight line which prefers abstractions to reality. I shall know what I am doing when I abstract, which of course I shall often have to do.
  5. I shall not demean my own uniqueness by envy of others. I shall stop boring into myself to discover what psychological or social categories I might belong to. Mostly I shall simply forget about myself and do my work.
  6. I shall open my eyes and ears. Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person. I shall not then be concerned at all to ask what they are but simply be glad that they are. I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what Lewis calls their "divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic" existence.
  7. I shall sometimes look back at the freshness of vision I had in childhood and try, at least for a little while, to be, in the words of Lewis Carroll, the "child of the pure unclouded brow, and dreaming eyes of wonder."
  8. I shall follow Darwin's advice and turn frequently to imaginative things such as good literature and good music, preferably, as Lewis suggests, an old book and timeless music.
  9. I shall not allow the devilish onrush of this century to usurp all my energies but will instead, as Charles Williams suggested, "fulfill the moment as the moment." I shall try to live well just now because the only time that exists is just now.
  10. Even if I turn out to be wrong, I shall bet my life in the assumption that this world is not idiotic, neither run by an absentee landlord, but that today, this very day, some stroke is being added to the cosmic canvas that in due course I shall understand with joy as a stroke made by the architect who calls Himself Alpha and Omega.
Quoted in John Piper, "Sky Talk" (1980).
Which one do you think would best help you appreciate the beauty of God's world?