Saturday, December 31, 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas from the Blairs!

(Multitude Monday post coming later today?...hoping. Thank you for grace. And a very Merry Christmas to you this day!)

Monday, December 19, 2011

More thoughts...

I was very encouraged today by this message from Doug Phillips (Vision Forum). My heart breaks for the Sproul family. It is difficult to recognize the gifts of God in these circumstances. This evening, I read R.C. Sproul Jr.'s article revealing his thoughts and his faith in God through this trial. The Lord's grace is surely manifest. He loves us more than we can know. Can we truly trust His goodness? Will we follow him wherever He leads us?

"And with that he took my hat from its peg, wrapped my hand in his and led me from the room. My hand in Father's! That meant the windmill on the Spaarne, or swans on the canal. But this time he was taking me where I didn't want to go! There was a railing along the bottom five steps: I grabbed it with my free hand and held on. Skilled watchmaker's fingers closed over mine and gently unwound them. Howling and struggling I was led away from the world I knew into a bigger, stranger, harder one..." (The Hiding Place)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Earth has no sorrows that heaven cannot heal

My heart is heavy today. After a long struggle with cancer, Denise Sproul has gone to be with the Lord. Pray that the Lord will be near to the Sproul family in this difficult time and that they will feel his tender, loving embrace and the comfort of our heavenly Father.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Thoughts on Music and Worship

We've been discussing church music as a family, for quite some time. Recently, it's been a fairly central topic due to a research paper that I wrote for my college music history course (which I shall post later). The paper was on Martin Luther, and his impact on music. The whole subject lead to different areas of research in the area of reformed music and the principles which the reformers held. I have been pondering this list (below) of principles written by a present-day pastor, which I found on another blog. I think there are several excellent points which all reformed churches should consider in order to enable each body of believers to worship God heartily. Would love feedback. (Sarah, perhaps this shall enter into our "talkin' about the issues" conversations ;)

God-Centered Orientation: The service in general, and the songs in particular, should point people to God, not self.

Gospel Focus: The service and songs should remind participants of the gospel—that they are sinners saved by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.

Theological Richness: Songs should not only be doctrinally true, but theologically rich. Preference will be shown to modern hymns, and shallow, repetitive songs will be avoided.

Historical Connection: The great hymns of the faith should be sung, either with their original tunes or with modern revisions of them, allowing today’s worshippers to be connected to their brothers and sisters of the past and their depth of expression.

Modern Expression: The best of today’s worship songs should also be used,
allowing for modern expression of ancient truths, while still preferring God-centered, gospel-focused, and theologically rich songs.

Indigenous Style: The “feel” of worship music should suit the place in which the church is found, allowing the people of that community to give appropriate voice to their praises.

Liturgical Flow: The structure of the worship gathering should have a certain flow, ushering people through the gospel to the throne of God. To say the gathering is liturgical speaks more of the thought put into the service than the feel produced by it.

Diverse Instrumentation and Involvement: Diverse instruments and different believers (ethnically, generationally, etc.) should be utilized to lead all the saints in praise, while keeping a stylistic “center” to the gathering.

Participative Nature: The goal of worship music is to engage and lead the saints in worship. Therefore, arranging, playing, and mixing of music that encourages a
performance-spectator mentality will be avoided. The voices in a worship gathering should be the main instruments.

God-Glorifying Excellence: The music leader and team will strive to lead in such a way that God is glorified, and that the saints will not be distracted either by their mastery or by their inability. This will be accomplished partially through weekly rehearsals.

Musical Beauty: God-glorifying lyrics must be matched with fitting, beautiful music that images the beauty of the Creator God who invented music.

Non-Negotiable Importance: As singing is commanded throughout the Bible and serves as the most supreme voice of amazing truths, its importance must be taught and modeled by church leadership. “I don’t like to sing” is an unacceptable statement for a believer of Christ.

Lifestyle Understanding: Worship encompasses all of life—certainly more than Sunday morning, and especially the Sunday singing time. Singing is just one aspect of a worship service, and calling it “worship” confuses the people of God.

Gifted Leadership: As the song leader sets the tone for the gathering of God’s people, he must be a gifted musician, passionate worshipper, and loving servant who can plan and lead God-glorifying singing times.

Elder Involvement: The final responsibility for the songs sung during the worship gathering falls to the elders, so they must be involved closely with the planning of services. They must not completely delegate this responsibility due to the critical teaching component of corporate singing.

Believer Orientation: Singing in corporate worship gatherings should be geared to facilitate the worship of believers, not appeal to “seekers.” Worship can only be truly done by believers in Christ.

Multi-Generational Appeal: A diversity of songs should be sung that appeal to all of God’s saints, not just a certain age group. However, a congregational “center” should be ascertained, enabling for an indigenous expression of worship by the bulk of the congregation.

Multiple Settings: Small groups, family devotions, and youth groups, just to name a few, are other venues that should encourage musical worship.

Corporate Emphasis: Believers should be encouraged to worship God primarily as a corporate body, not as individuals, during the weekly corporate worship gathering. This will affect songs chosen (preference for “we” songs over those “I”) and prayers uttered (“God, forgive us,” over “God, forgive me.”), as well as numerous other aspects of the meeting.

Passionate Expression: Christians must be taught to desire strong affections in worship. Hypocritical, heartless singing is to be avoided, while heartfelt passion is to be pursued.

Loving Deference: Church members must put the desires of others above themselves, not fighting to see that their musical preferences are honored as best.

Unified Praise: The unity of the local body must be pursued in worship gatherings. This is achieved, first of all, by having all the believers gathered in one room, with one voice. Multiple worship gatherings, and multiple, different-styled worship gatherings will be avoided.