Tag Archives: Psalms

What Then Shall We Sing About?

One of the most powerful influences in creation is music. Music has the ability to impress the mind, provoke the emotions of the heart, and activate the deepest recesses of our memories. In a real sense, music can achieve what no other medium can – prose, poetry, or drama. That is why music has become a means of communicating, interpreting, and expressing those things for which no other language seems sufficient. Given the powerful influence that music has, it’s not surprising that it has a prominent place in the worshipful expression of the Christian faith. Martin Luther once wrote: “The good news of Christ’s great deliverance tunes the heart to sing.”

I think this is why God has united his message with music. The Apostle Paul wrote: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Colossians 3:16). You see, it’s in the singing of the church that heavenly wisdom, gentle warnings, and doctrinal truth are harmonized for the building up and edifying of one another. Not to go on a pessimistic tangent but there’s probably enough in those words to chastise much of what passes […]

Of Christian Courage, Contemptible Candidacies, and COFFEE

How much of our Christian courage is a function of the comfort and convenience of our surroundings?  How much of our boldness in Christian witness would wilt if the cozy accoutrements of a wealthy modern culture were taken from us?

Imagine if our words in praise of Christ no longer had the internet as an outlet, if every word of public witness had to actually be spoken in public, or at least in private to a living, breathing, and potentially hostile human being.  Imagine if there were no more church conferences to attend, no more family camps, no more youth group outings at which to find Christian fellowship.  And, perhaps worst of all, imagine if there were no more coffee shops – !!!!!- at which to study Scripture, write sermons and do theological cyber battle with Christians from different denominations, all comfortably and anonymously as one among  many happy, well-caffeinated people.

Rejoicing in Lament

Earlier this week I gave a public lecture on the subject of living with cancer. One of the observations I made was that God has used my experience with leukemia to help me appreciate His word more fully. In God’s providence, I had just started working through the book of Psalms in my regular Bible reading when I was diagnosed with an incurable blood cancer about two years ago. The first book of the Psalter contains many psalms of lament in which the psalmist is crying out to God for help, often in a state of anguish. I had read those psalms many times before and, frankly, did not find them particularly meaningful.

A Letter to the Anxious Christian

Dear Mr. Anxious,

Hello friend! I wanted to thank you for your letter. I must admit, however, that I was sorry to hear of your many burdensome anxieties. They are a load you were not meant to bear. You’re not alone. The world is full of anxious people. I don’t mean people who are anxious about the things of God–sin and temptation or the condition of their souls. If only we had more of that and less of worldly worry! No, we worry about all kinds of things—money and health, marriage and children, school and work, reputations and appearances, today and tomorrow; we worry about what we will eat and drink and wear—and on and on the list could go. In my own case, I must admit, every now and then anxiety hangs over my head like a dark shadow that seems all but impossible to escape.

Yet, Mr. Anxious, I feel strongly that a Christian has as much a right to worry as he does to steal, lie, or kill. That is, he doesn’t have a right–it’s illegal! Worry is unbelief, it’s being mastered by circumstances, it’s a distrust of God’s promises. We worry, and worry is sin. The command is […]

Speaking to One Another in Song

If I’m honest, I think one of the downsides of being a pastor is that I don’t often get to sit in the pews. I know pews aren’t always the most comfortable and the sweat stains on the back of ours may cause some people to wonder why sitting in them would be such a blessing. But there’s something about standing side-by-side with the people of God as they worship. There’s a certain connection that can seem lacking when you’re standing alone at the pulpit.

I was thinking of this when I attended a funeral at our church a couple of weeks ago. I was able to sit in the pews; something I hadn’t done since becoming pastor. And it was a blessing. But what really left an indelible impression on me was the singing of the Psalms. The Apostle Paul said, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Colossians 3:16). The Puritan Thomas Manton observed that we sing Psalms primarily to glorify God, but also to mutually edify one another. He wrote, “It is not meant of teaching from the psalms, but teaching […]

Browse Worthy: Worship

In addition to Jared’s post encouraging us to see if our spiritual clothing is appropriate for worship, there have been several other recent articles on the subject of worship that are quite helpful.

Last week Carl Trueman shared one of the most popular articles he has written – one that even years later people correspond with him over – when he offered Reflections on “What Can Miserable Christians Sing?”  In one sense, it is surprising an article with that name would be so popular.  Yet Dr. Trueman strikes a deep, resonant chord with thoughts such as these:

True, there are Christian poets and even the occasional hymn writer who have captured the dark complexities of life; but there are none to compare with authors of the Psalter who set forth the riches and depths of human experience and existence with perfect poetic pitch. The church which makes the psalms part of her regular diet provides her people with the resources for truly living in this vale of tears, just as the church which does not do so has perversely denied her people a true treasure in pursuit of what?   Relevance?

Be sure to also read the original article here.  And while I am at it (like […]

The Incarnate Word and the Written Word

The doctrine of the Word of God has come on hard times among professing Christians.  This sad state of things is no surprise.  At the very beginning of human history, Satan assaulted the Word of God, which is to insult the character of God.  In so doing, the “father of lies” ushered mankind into spiritual ruin.  Particularly sad in our day, though, is the fact that many professing Christians believe that they are honoring Christ by denying that God’s written Word, the Bible, is everything it claims to be in its self-attestation and self-authentication.

Jesus’ Diary

A diary, if shared, can open up for us the private thoughts and world of the author. Readers can feel as if they know the person and his or her time when they read a diary.  Think of how much has not only been learned but felt regarding the impact of the events of World War II through the diary of Anne Frank.  On a lighter note, knowing President Harry Truman had an appointment with a farmer’s association representative on a certain day is  blasé.  But reading in his diary entry that Truman called the man “an old baloney peddler” adds color.  Diaries add depth and personalize for the reader the life and events of historical characters.

Though it will never happen, for a moment think of the widespread media blitz that would occur if an archaeological society announced one day they had discovered the lost diary of Jesus Christ.  If you believed the story had any credibility, would you not want to purchase a printed copy as soon as it became available?  What would knowing the private thoughts of the Lord reveal to you?

Now what if I told you, in a manner of speaking, there is such a diary already available […]

Earth Harp or Heaven Harp?

Sound Medicine, a public radio program produced by Indiana School of Medicine, recently featured a short piece on the Earth Harp, the world’s largest stringed instrument. This musical instrument is used in yoga classes, and it sends sound vibrations through the room and the bodies of those performing their yoga routines. Proponents believe that the sonic vibrations have a healing quality. In the five-minute audio clip heard here, the reporter, Sandy Roob, describes how advocates believe that the sounds affect the “energy centers” of the body and that the sounds thus enliven the soul. They believe that it is “a perfect instrument for sound healing purposes.” The theory says that the waves move through the air, into the ear, and then all the way down to the cellular level, affecting our ability to fight disease.