Tag Archives: worship

What Part of the Gospel is Optional?

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Read the bible like you listen to a symphony.

Watch NT Wright talk about how to read the Bible. Great Video.

The Whole Sweep Of Scripture from The Work Of The People on Vimeo.

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Beautiful postmodern traditional church design

I came across this church and had to share…

 

The Maxim Velcovsky along with designer Jakub Berdych under from Qubus Studio redesigned the interior of St. Bartholomew’s church in Eastern Bohemia.

 

I know looks aren’t everything… but this is amazing!

 

I’ve always been torn between old traditional church building adorned with stain glass windows and stonewalls, and the postmodern interior design. This is a perfect blend of the two. You feel the connection with tradition, however it’s reimaged and connects speaks to the future. Moreover, it feels deeply spiritual. The chairs look like saints or angels on bended knee, yet with the four chairs in the front the idea of authority is not centralized in one place or figure. There is instead a panel or counsel leading in front of the community. And without a pulpit the leader is venerable and open to the people. Overall, the design is deeply authentic and welcoming.

For more about this church or its designers check out this link or search St. Bartholomew’s from Qubus Studio.

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Worship is a gift

Worship is a gift, not that we give but that we are allowed to give.

Worship is hindered by sin one has committed toward other people. When one worships while in sin their worship is reduced to vanity and is offensive to God.

True worship is the highest expression on man. It is a reversal of the great command and the second which is like it, to love the Lord you’re God, and love your neighbor, because we first have to love our neighbor before we can approach God and display our love to him in worship.

Furthermore, Jesus said he would receive our love and acceptance of him based on how we loved and acceptance the least of our brethren. So if one does not love his neighbor why would they want to worship God the maker of man?

Worship has been reduced to an individual expression. It has become something one does before God, instead of something that one does before God and man. Worship has been reduced to praise rather that a holistic expression of a life before God. What I mean is that one can sing praise songs for 30min on a Sunday without respect for their actions during the week and consider it worship.

Worship is the command we are privileged to participate in only after we have obeyed his command to love our neighbor.

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Wonderful cross or place of death?

We often sing of the wonderful beautiful cross. And because our mind cannot handle the intensity or cruelty of the cross we grow numb to the brutality of the cross. Yet, we have to remember the cross was torture leading to death. Jesus experienced pain at the highest levels of the human experience.

The cross was not just some uncomfortable experience, like the awkwardness of telling a stranger on the plain you’re a Christian, or the embarrassment of getting to front of the line at the grocery store with a cart full of items and realizing you forgot your wallet.

Jesus died on the cross. He bled, and breathed his last breath on the cross.

When we sing of the cross it should be in the sober reality of what happened, why it happened, who it was that died for us.

The cross is the anchor point of our faith, not some pithy poppy featurette of the Sunday lineup. Our God died at the hands of his creation; the creation he loved and formed. Our God suffered and was humiliated by the very people he gave life to.

The cross is not wonderful, it the shame of humanity, and the glory of God. The cross does not represent the best in man, but the worst. The cross is the premiere exhibit in our museum of disgrace.

I understand why people wish to forget the cross, and down play its reality. As a humanitarian why would I want to highlight the cross any more than I would want to highlight the holocaust as an act of human civility and love?

All one should do at the cross is fall down before it and cry out, “I will never deny you again. With my heart and with my actions I too crucified you, but never again. I will serve the King whom I killed. He will be my God.”

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A new way or and old way to read the Bible…

This entire post is based off of Robert Webbers writing in Ancient-Future Worship, and all quotes are taken from that book, except where otherwise stated.

A new way to read the Scriptures… or maybe the original way…?

Robert Webber challenges his reader to read the Scriptures as he says; the way the Apostles and early church read them.

Now, if you’re like me, and you have been taught how to read your Bible in the past 50 years or more, then you have taught to read the Bible literary historical grammatical approach. This way is not opposed to what Webber says, but its focus is misplaced.

As a foundation Webber says we must read the Bible and see Jesus as the focal point. I’d think most of us would agree, but do we really do that?

It easier when one reads the NT, because the authors make Jesus the center of everything for us. But when reading the OT one must make the effort to see Jesus in all things. There is a fine line in what he is saying here between allegorical reading and reading Jesus as the focal point.

Jesus Christ is the focal point of the Scriptures.

“The apostolic way of reading and preaching the Scriptures is to see Jesus Christ as the subject of the entire Bible, the subject of all of history.”

“…beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, [Jesus] explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”

Luke 24:27

“The narrative of the whole Scriptures is about Jesus Christ. We find him everywhere and in everything…

While the early church fathers are Christ-centered in their reading of the Scriptures, they do not neglect the Father and the Spirit. The life of the Son is in the communal life of the Father and the Spirit. The Father sends the Son to redeem, to rescue the world from the clutches of the evil one. The Spirit is the one who breathes life into the world and gives life to all the events and persons who prefigure Christ. He is present in all the events of the Old Testament, as well as the ministry and work of Jesus. He is now present in the Church and in God’s people providing us with a conscious and intentional life of Christ to all who live in his name. When we are baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Holy Spirit is the one who gives us the new life in Christ. In this way we are brought up in the life of God’s community where we fellowship in the love of the Father, Son, and Spirit.

So the fathers of the church, while Chistocentric in their reading and preaching of the Scriptures, were also Trinitarian.”


“We must read and preach the Bible as true.”

This is not to say…

“Read it as if it were true.” That would be to read it mythologicaly.

“Read it and make it true.” That would be to read it to prove it.

“Read it for truths.” That kind of reading usually looks for principles to make life more successful.

How we do read the Bible as true?

1. Read the bible with an Ancient mind-set.

“The Fathers [Church Fathers & writers of Scriptures] did not see life as split between the sacred and the secular. For them everything is sacred.”

(This is the same proposition Rob Bell makes in his Everything is Spiritual DVD teaching.)

2. Read the Bible relationally

God is described through stories of relationship; illustrations of how He relates and acts toward man, not volumes of systematic facts (like this book).

“The Hebrew mind does not describe God intellectually in the abstract as though God is an object to be studied. Instead he is always pictured as the God who enters into relationship with his creatures…The New Testament images of God and church continue with this same emphasis on relationship. The church is the ‘body of Christ,’ the ‘bride of Christ,’ the ‘community,’ the ‘household of faith,’ the fellowship in faith.’”

3. Read the Bible in context, understanding its language.

The Scriptures are composed of many different genres of literature, such as law, historical narratives, letters, worship manuals, hymns, and both prophetic and apocalyptic writings. And at least one third of the Bible could be categorized as poetry,

“The ancient language was also one of paradox… So the narrative always has both a divine side and a human side. God chooses, calls, elects. God lives among the people speaking, chastising, directing. But the people live in the presence of God, who is among them. They respond and relate to God. They sometimes ignore God or outright disobey God and chase after gods of their own making. But God is always there.

Western thought—especially Enlightenment thinking—does not like paradox. Rational language cannot see how opposites are two sides of the same reality. So some want to read the Bible from the divine side emphasizing divine predestination and divine foreknowledge, but others approach the Bible emphasizing the human side of freedom and choice. In the Hebrew mind both are real and valid.”

Robert Webber would actually label this section, “read the Bible as metaphor.” He agues we come to Scriptures with our western mind seeking everything to have a literal meaning, when the ancient language was more of one that evoked a feeling.

4. Read the Bible so it reads us and speaks to our world today.

“It has the power to read us and the world because the text discloses the waywardness of the human heart. We should not read the accounts of the Human rebellion against God as a study of ‘some other person’ or of ‘that particular culture.’ Instead those accounts, while rooted in a particular history, reach across time to say, ‘you are there; that’s a description of your life, of your sin and rebellion, of your journey away from God, of your world’s rebellion… It is an interactive story of God and humanity. It reveals truth about God, but also it reveals truths about persons, societies, cultures, and civilizations.

The Bible also reads us because Jesus, who is our Redeemer, is also the model for our true living.”

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Justice or Charity?

justice-or-charity

Both justice and charity are mentioned in the Bible as qualities of both God and the faithful. Yet, it seems to me charity has somehow been subtitled for justice. People think they are supporting justice when all they are is being charitable. For example giving toys to needed Children during the Holidays is nice, its charitable, but its not justice. Those Children will still have to return to their families who are broken, possibly abusive, and most likely unable to provide adequately for them. Giving a sandwich or a few dollars to the homeless person standing on the corner is great and should be commended, however its still not justice. That sandwich only met the most temporal of his needs, and did not change his life, soul, or the cold park bench or overpass which he calls home.

Hear me correctly, I’m not speaking ill of charity. I know how hard it is to motivate people to be charitable, to bring in toys for children, or roll down their windows to give to the homeless. But justice is what is needed the most. Justice will help fight to root of the problem, greed, pride, and selfishness.Justice will help move a homeless person off the street permanently, by providing education and counseling. Justice will help end poverty, and war. The Kingdom of God is concerned about justice, as well as charity. But Charity without justice is like pouring water into a bucket without first plugging the hole in the bottom.

The Torah (the first five book of the Old Testament) imposed an obligation to maintain a society in which justice reigned. Maintaining societal Law was seen as maintaining Spiritual Law. You could not consider yourself spiritual if you did not carry out justice in your community. And when justice was not being maintained the prophets that their altars and places of worship would soon come crumbling down and they would be inhibited from worshiping God. Social Laws and Spiritual Laws go hand in hand. To live out justice is to take action against the evils of this world, but it is also to live out love, grace, and mercy. To live out justice is not only to stomp out the negative, but to live out the positive.

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