Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"Theology on Fire"... Worship, Music, Christian Formation



Below are seven paragraphs from Kevin Twit's very good article: "What's In a Song? Tuning Our Hearts."  Link to the full article is below...


During my time in the ministry, I have come to appreciate the power of hymns to help us meditate upon the reality of God’s grace in worship and mold us as the people of God. When my students actually begin to read the words, they can’t believe that they used to regard hymns as lifeless and dull. As one student put it, “These songs convey emotion. Sorrow, loneliness, surprise, overwhelming joy! They are all here, and my generation doesn't associate any of those qualities with hymns.” Unfortunately, sometimes this rich theological poetry is connected to tunes that fail to express the emotion of the lyric to my students. The words are so rich that we have begun to write new tunes for some of them. And I take whatever opportunity I can to urge gifted composers to search out powerful hymns that have tragically dropped out of use, or even to write new hymns.
Hymns take a truth from Scripture and let us sit in it for a while. They engage intellect, imagination, and emotion. The hymns are mini-meditations upon the mysteries of the Gospel that drive us to worship. They offer a story, something very attractive to postmodern people, and invite us to come in and see if it might be our story, too. For instance, I love to introduce students to the hymns of Anne Steele. She was an 18th century English Baptist hymn-writer who spent 50 years as an invalid. I believe she wrote some of the most remarkable hymns about the power of the Gospel in the midst of grief and pain that you will ever find. Yet her hymns unfortunately have vanished from almost every modern hymnal. When people sing her words they find themselves in her story. They find they can fellowship with a woman who lived 300 years. Suddenly the Kingdom of God becomes huge to them!
Hymns are theology on fire. They are theology expressed in beautiful, poetic language that gets at the heart, and engages the imagination. They help us to sit for three or four minutes in the mysteries of the Gospel that fill us with wonder. The hymn-writers really glory in these paradoxical statements. One of my favorite examples is in a hymn by Augustus Toplady (the author of “Rock of Ages”). He writes, “O love incomprehensible, that made Thee bleed for me. The Judge of all hath suffered death, to set His prisoner free.” To sit in that thought, even for a little while, changes you! And the more you meditate upon it, the more it overwhelms your heart.
C.H. Spurgeon once said “When I cannot understand anything in the Bible, it seems as though God had set a chair there for me, at which to kneel and worship; and that the mysteries are intended to be an altar of devotion.” These mysteries are what the hymns love to dwell upon. Hymns are mini-meditations on the ironies of the Gospel that drive us to worship. They are an opportunity to meditate upon a mystery like “And can it be, that Thou my God should die for me?” until it begins to really sink into our heart.
If we ever lose our sense of wonder, we will be conformed to the culture. If we ever lose our sense of the beauty and the amazement, we will be conformed to the culture, we will be conformed to the flesh. Hymns, you see, are not only opportunities for our meditation, they were often the result of meditation. It used to be that it was the pastors who would write the hymns. Often they would write a hymn at the end of a week of meditating upon their sermon.
.....
In her book, A Royal Waste of Time, Marva Dawn tells of Vaclav Havel, a playwright who is also the president of the Czech Republic. He was asked, how the revolution to overthrow communism in the Czech Republic was bloodless and yet had experienced real staying power. He simply replied, “We had our parallel society. And in that parallel society, we wrote our plays and sang our songs and read our poems, until we knew the truth so well that we could go out into the streets of Prague and say, 'We don’t believe your lies anymore!' And communism had to fall.” 
Isn’t that a beautiful picture of what worship should be about? We gather to sing our songs so we will know the truth so well that we can go out into the world and we say, “We don’t believe your lies anymore! We won’t be squeezed into your mold!” And so we can speak to our fearful heart and say, “Heart, I don’t believe your lies anymore!” (or as Charles Wesley put it, “Arise my soul arise! Shake off your guilty fear!”) because Jesus can trump even what my heart says! And Jesus does trump our hearts as He becomes beautiful and believable to you. That is why we gather in worship. That is why I urge you, use the hymns of the church! God is using them to mold us to the truth, restore our sanity, and open our eyes to see Jesus as beautiful and believable.

To read the full article, click HERE.



Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Resurrection: All Things Made New




Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”


.... Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true.




Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Sure and Steadfast Anchor



One day—one way or another—this will be you.  And this will be me.

See THIS anchor point you to the True Anchor... the only anchor that holds.
"We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek."
Hebrews 6



Tuesday, September 9, 2014

From the People of Christ in Syria & Lebanon



For an update to the situation in Syria and Lebanon, click...

HERE

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? 
Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, 
or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

The Apostle Paul



Thursday, September 4, 2014

The DeMars Family Update



Here's the latest news from DPC members & missionaries to Peru, Sean & Amber (& their beautiful daughters Patience & Isabella)...


The DeMars Family Update...

Hey all, we’re back with another update. I know that these updates have been more infrequent as of late, and that’s somewhat intentional. We know that your inbox is prime real estate, and we want to make sure we don’t flood y’all with too much, too often.

There have been a few interesting family and ministry developments as of late. Let’s get into it.

Interesting Family Developments: We’re awesome. We’re growing in awesomeness everyday. Bella’s teeth are coming in, Patience is talking, and Amber has lost all of her baby weight and then some. Patience is making friends with some of the neighborhood children, too. Their favorite game is “Rock Throw”, which is basically EXACTLY what it sounds like. They just throw rocks at each other. We’ll take it. Better than sitting in front of a TV for hours on end.

Interesting Ministry Developments: Our relationship with La Iglesia Central is growing more with each passing weak, and Sean’s teaching is seeming to be bearing some fruit in the life of the church.

Sean has also been forming a tighter relationship with an Elder named Mariano. Mariano has had a solid theological education, but has been in limbo as to how one ought to apply his doctrine to the life of the church. Sean is going to be reading through a few books (in spanish) with the elders of the church and a few of the members with leadership potential.

Additionally, Sean will be teaching a week long class on the Doctrine of God to over forty peruvian pastors in February.

Finally, we’ve begun having conversations, specific conversations, about getting to the Urarina with the gospel. It’s a long, slow process, but we are making progress.

There are several other little things that are going on right now that are encouraging evidences of God’s grace in our lives here in the jungle, but we won’t bore you with every little detail.

Finally, we will be going to Arequipa for two more weeks of language study in October. We haven’t received any additional financial support towards that end, but there are a few things in motion right now that have only further convinced us that Sean needs to continue to pursue excellence with his spanish. Please pray that these two weeks of classroom time will help equip Sean for further learning and acclimation.

Overall, our family is at a peak right now. We’ve had our fair share of Valley’s up to this point, so we’re enjoying the view from here while it lasts. :)

As always, we love to hear from you guys, so don’t hesitate for even a second to write or Skype. 

Sean, Amber, Patience, and Baby Isabella

Our Address:

Sean & Amber DeMars
Castilla Postal 168
Yurimaguas, Peru