Archive for March, 2011

Habits of the High-Tech Heart

The constant barrage of information and communiques from blogs, texts, and emails along with the seemingly limitless possible distractions of websites, apps, and games constantly work to both keep me moving from one task to another and distract me from what I should be doing at any given moment. This reality prompted me to pick up Quentin Schultze‘s book, Habits of the High-Tech Heart: Living Virtuously in the Information Age. I do not know why this book was on my bookshelf. It is not the type of book I would normally buy, so it must have been for a class I took at some point. My complete lack of recollection of the book makes me wonder if I read it as I am sure I was supposed to have done. Nonetheless, in God’s providence I own the book and currently need help thinking through the issues which it purports to discuss. Therefore, I will read it now and, with full acknowledgment of the existing potential irony, put together a short series of blog posts responding to one chapter per week as I read the book (This is mostly for the accountability benefits; even though, having read the introduction I am sure that my creating a faux accountability partner by promising blog posts to an audience which may or may not exist is not one of Schultze’s “Habits of a High-Tech Heart”).

The introduction makes two things clear. First, although he is sure he will be pegged as one, Schultze claims that he is, in fact, not a Luddite. Second, Schultze is convinced that in our journey to ends of the techno-galaxy we are often proceeding with a grand naivete and without the necessary moral forethought. He writes,

The idea that we are witnessing the emergence of a beneficient information society is triumphalistic propaganda… This book addresses some of the deepest reservations that we should have about the impact of information technologies on the moral fabric of our lives… There is much worth celebrating, from the joys of emailing friends to the Web sites that publish up-to-date information about medical treatments. Nevertheless, our tendency to adopt every new information technology uncritically – with out discerning the options, setting appropriate limits, and establishing humane practices – is simply irresponsible. North Americans are largely unreflective, voracious consumers of cyber-novelty and informational trivia… Unless we focus as much on the quality of our character as we do no technological innovation, potentially good informational techniques will ultimately reduce our capacity to love one another. We ought to face the fact that our cyber-innovations today are running far ahead of our moral sensibilities… To be virtuous people in a high-tech world is to be neither moralists nor pragmatists but rather sojourners who humbly seek goodness in an eternal adventure that began before we were born and will continue after we die (pp16-24).

I am looking forward to reading (or perhaps re-reading) this book for a few reasons: Schultze (at least in the introduction) is punchy, and punchy writers are fun to read; he is trying to address an issue that we are all working through to one degree of success or another; and he is apparently not afraid to question the status quo that says all technological advancement is necessarily to be desired.

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The Gospel Incarcerated

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Worship Notes 3/27/2011

Genesis 38
Through Judah (and Tamar) Came David and Christ?

He made us to praise, and he made praise to be communal.  Just as we cannot fully enjoy something without praising it, we can hardly praise a thing without doing it outwardly. We must share it.  We grab our friends and shake them and say, “Can you believe this?”  Or we call them or write them and say, “You have to hear this.” “You have to see this.”  We announce.  We celebrate.  We write songs and paint pictures.       -Ross Byrd

Confession of Faith:
WCF Chapter 5: Providence

1. God—the great Creator of all things—upholds, directs, disposes, and governs all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least. He exercises this most wise and holy providence according to his infallible foreknowledge and the free and unchangeable counsel of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy.

SONG:  All Creatures of our God and King
Words: Francis of Assisi, cir ca 1225

Let all things their Creator bless,
And worship Him in humbleness,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
And praise the Spirit, Three in One!

Francis of Assisi  wrote this hymn short­ly be­fore his death, but it was not pub­lished for al­most 400 years.

SONG:   Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Words: Phil­ip P. Bliss,  1875

Man of Sorrows! what a name

For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

When He comes, our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew His song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

It is said that the word “Hal­le­lu­jah” is the same in all lan­guag­es. It seems as though God had pre­pared it for the great ju­bi­lee of hea­ven, when all his child­ren shall have been ga­thered home to sing “Hal­le­lu­jah to the Lamb!”     -

SONG: How Deep the Father’s Love For Us
Words and Music: Stuart Townend

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

Mr. Townend tells the story behind this hymn: “I’d been meditating on the cross, and in particular what it cost the Father to give up his beloved Son to a torturous death on a cross. And what was my part in it? Not only was it my sin that put him there, but if I’d lived at that time, it would probably have been me in that crowd, shouting with everyone else ‘crucify him’. It just makes his sacrifice all the more personal, all the more amazing, and all the more humbling.”

Romans 3.21-25
The Righteousness of God Through Faith

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

Assurance of Pardon:
Psalm 32

1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.

“Be Still, My Soul”

Text: Katharina von Schlegel, 1752; trans. by Jane Borthwick, 1855 (Ps. 46:10)
Music: Jean Sibelius, 1899; arr. from The Hymnal, 1933

1. Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

2. Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

SONG: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
Words: Li­tur­gy of St. James, 4th Cen­tu­ry

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.

Notes: several of the songs this week are on a CD by High Street Hymns you can listen to the whole album here

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Worship notes 3/20/11

Genesis 37
Joseph Sold into Slavery/God’s Providence in History

There are few stories of God’s providence anywhere in the Bible greater than the story of Joseph.  We can take great comfort in our God’s faithfulness as we reflect on this story.

Providence; the foreseeing care and guidance of God over the creatures of the earth.

Here are a few verses of the songs we will be singing this Sunday.  They all help us to sing of God’s guiding hand in our life and all of creation.

Song:  Praise to the Lord
Words by Joachim Neander

Praise to the Lord,
Who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness
And mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew
What the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.

The author of this hymn, Joachim Neander, was born in Bremen, Germany in 1650.  In his early years, he lived a lusty, immoral life.  Then he and a group of friends decided to attend a service conducted by a visiting preacher, Pastor Under-Eyke, and Neander was quickly converted. He died at age 30. ”Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” is based on Psalms 103 and 150.  It was inspired not only by those psalms but also by the beauty of the hills and rivers that Neander experienced on his walks through the German countryside. –– Copyright 2006, Richard Niell Donovan

Song: Whate’er my God ordains is right
Words by Samuel Rodigast, 1676
Translated to Englishs by Catherine Winkworth, 1863

Whate’er my God ordains is right,
Though now this cup in drinking
May bitter seem to my faint heart,
I take it all unshrinking
My God is true,
Each morn anew
Sweet comfort yet shall fill my heart
And pain and sorrow shall depart

Song: Psalm 130 From the depths of woe
©1997 Christopher Miner Music.  Words:  Martin Lurther.

From the depths of woe I raise to Thee
The voice of lamentation;
Lord, turn a gracious ear to me
And hear my supplication;
If Thou iniquities dost mark,
Our secret sins and misdeeds dark,
O who shall stand before Thee?
Psalm 130
My Soul Waits for the Lord

130:1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!
2 O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleas for mercy!
3 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.
5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
7 O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.
8 And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

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Worship notes 3/13/2011

Genesis 36

Esau’s Descendants

Why are genealogies in the Bible?

A genealogy reveals much about God’s sovereign activity in human history. When the Israelites heard these genealogies from Moses it would have grounded God’s faithfulness in history. Today, it reminds us that God is still in control of his story. A true story of a faithful and sovereign God that leads to the Cross and will ultimately lead to his return.

This week’s music will be centered around God’s faithfulness to keep his promises. We see his plan unfold in the atoning work of Christ on the cross.

Song:  O’ Worship the King
Words:  Robert Grant.  Music:  Johann Haydn

Inspired by Psalm 104
Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
In Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail;
Thy mercies how tender, how firm to the end,
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend.

The first two verses of the hymn celebrate God’s glory.  The last two verses celebrate God’s love and providence.  God’s greatness and God’s loving providence –– go together.  God’s power makes it possible for him to provide for us “frail children of dust”
-Richard Neill Donavon

Song:  In the Cross of Christ I Glory 
Words:  John Bowring.  Music:
Brian Moss.

When the woes of life o’er take me,
Hopes deceive, and fears annoy,
Never shall the cross forsake me,
Lo! It glows with peace and joy.

Some people say that John Bowring was inspired to write “In the Cross of Christ I Glory” when he visited Macao, a Portuguese colony near Hong Kong, and saw a great bronze cross towering over the ruins of a cathedral that had been destroyed by a typhoon.  Whatever his inspiration, this hymn that celebrates the cross of Christ has been a favorite since it was first published in 1825, nearly two centuries ago.
-Richard Neill Donavon

Romans 5:20-21
20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,

Song:  Poor Sinner, Dejected with Fear
Words:  William Gadsby.  Music: Katy Bowser and Matthew Perryman Jones

Poor sinner, dejected with fear,
Unbosom thy mind to the Lamb;
No wrath on His brow He does wear,
Nor will He poor mourners condemn;
His arm of omnipotent grace
Is able and willing to save;
A sweet and a permanent peace
He’ll freely and faithfully give.

1 Peter 2:24
24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

Song:  He was Wounded
Text by Chris Anderson; Tune by Greg Habegger

Isaiah 53:5
He was wounded, He was wounded! Praise our Servant Sacrifice!
Hallelujah, Hallelujah! We are healed by Jesus’ stripes!

Because God delights in worship that is biblical, thoughtful and passionate—what we often call intentional—please consider the following overview of the biblical texts and doctrinal themes behind the hymn He Was Wounded (Isaiah 53):

Isaiah 53 is one of the clearest prophecies of the death of Christ in the entire Old Testament, and one of the most beloved passages to Christ’s church. The “Servant Song,” which actually begins in Isaiah 52:13, was written almost 8 centuries prior to Christ’s crucifixion, yet describes it and its significance with nearly unparalleled vividness.

We are not singing this song this week but it paints a beautiful picture of the Cross.
“It is Finished” Part II

It is Finished”
Finished all the types and shadows,
Of the ceremonial law;
Finished all that God had promised;
Death and hell no more shall awe.
It is finished, it is finished,”

Titus 2:11-14
13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

Song: It is Finished click to listen
Words – Thomas Kelly, 1769-1855 Music – Clint Wells and Brian T. Murphy, 200

Justice from her awful station
Bars the sinners peace no more
Justice views with approbation
What the Savior did and bore
Grace and mercy now display their boundless store.

Approbation; an act of approving formally or officially

The writer, Thomas Kelly, centers this hymn on the victory which only Christ could have won. As one of my former pastors used to say, If this doesn’t get you on ‘shouting ground’ I don’t know what will!

Philemon 1:25
25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

NOTES:  Click the MUSIC link in the the right hand column to find out more about our music and listen to more examples.

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Benefits of Daily Bible Reading

I am not sure why this is the case, but it is certainly the case that many younger Christians cynically think of “quiet times” as a kitsch vestige of the high pressure youth groups we were part of in the ’80′s and ’90′s. We have traded what we view as programmed religion for being authentic and enjoying the freedom we have in Christ. Such thinking is only our attempt to trade a disciplined pursuit of holiness for a supposed guiltless savoring of our flesh and the world. Such thinking simply does not square with Scripture.

In Deuteronomy 17 we find a list of laws for the Kings of Isreal. Consider what it says.

When you come to the land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ you may indeed set a king over you whom the LORD your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.

And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life,  that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel (Deuteronomy 17.14-20, ESV).

Among other things, the kings of Israel are commanded to read in the law daily in order to learn to fear the Lord and to walk in humility and holiness.

In his high priestly prayer, recorded in John 17, Jesus prays to his Father, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17.17, ESV). Again, holiness, sanctification in this verse, is attached to the word of God.

Paul writes to the Romans saying, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the word of Christ” (Romans 10.17, ESV). He also writes to Timothy, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching” (1 Timothy 4.13, ESV). And again Paul writes to Timothy saying,

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how form childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3.14-17, ESV).

The bottom line is this, God has revealed himself in the Word, the Bible. If we desire to know him, we must know his Word. There are a whole host of other passages, highlighting the value of the Word, that could be added to the list above, but just looking at these few, what do we see are the potential benefits of daily Bible reading – that is to say, what are the effects of the Word of God in our lives? Learning to fear God, obedience to God, humility before God and men, holiness, hearing which leads to faith, being made wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus, learning, being reproved, being corrected, being trained, and being competent and equipped for every good work – in short, glorifying God and enjoying him forever.

I suppose there are those who build up a works righteousness around daily quiet times, family devotions, read-the-Bible-in-a-year reading plans, and other such things. However, at least as common are those of us who have come to believe that such a thing as a Wordless pursuit of holiness is effective. The former rewrite Hebrews 4.12 to say, “Our works are living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword…” The latter rewrite the same verse to say, “____________ is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword…” May we refuse both and by faith immerse ourselves in God’s Word. And, by God’s grace, may we reap the holy benefit of his glory.

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Worship Notes for 3/6/2011

Sermon:  Genesis  Chapter 35

Jacob Traveling in the Promised Land/The Abrahamic Promise Passed to Jacob/Jacob Becomes Israel/Life, Death, and Worship in Covenant with God

10 And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he called his name Israel. 11 And God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body. 12 The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.”

Confession of Faith: Why confess our faith?

Jude tells us that there is a faith once for all delivered to the saints. We use Scripture as well as biblically-faithful, historic creeds and confessions to corporately confess this common faith.

Galations 3.16-18

16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

Song “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”

In 1923 Thomas Chisolm birthed one of the greatest modern hymns regarding the faithfulness of God.  In stanza one he writes of God’s unchanging character and unfailing compassions.

Great is Thy faithfulness,  O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;

Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Song From all that dwells”
words by Isaac Watts inspired by Psalm 117
arrangement by Lance & Treva, including the Doxology

Doxology  is derived from the Greek “words of praise.” It is an expression of praise to God

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;

Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

The Lord’s Faithfulness Endures Forever
1 Praise the Lord, all nations!
Extol him, all peoples!
2 For great is his steadfast love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord
endures forever.Praise the Lord!

Assurance of Pardon:

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you [2] free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,  he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Song ” Poor Sinner, Dejected with Fear”

This is a new song this week take a minute to give it a listen.

The soul that on Jesus relies,
He’ll never, no never deceive;

He freely and faithfully gives
More blessings than we can conceive;
Yea, down to old age He will keep,
Nor will He forsake us at last;
He knows and is known by His sheep;
They’re His, and He will hold them fast

Song “Poor Wayfaring Stranger”
Country Tracks number-one single (Emmylou Harris version)August 23, 1980

I am a poor wayfaring stranger
Traveling through this world of woe
But there’s no sickness, toil, or danger
In that bright land to which I go

I’m going there to meet my Savior

Dwell with him and never roam.

I’m only going over Jordan.
I’m only going over home

Here’s a great song from Sandra McCracken that deals with this weeks theme.

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