Guarding the Deposit of Hymnody

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This weekend is the 498th anniversary of Martin Luther’s infamous act of nailing the 95 theses to the Wittenberg Door. Rather than celebrating Halloween, many Christians will recognize Reformation Day this Oct. 31. On Sunday, Protestants around the globe will commemorate the rather simple but bold act of a solitary man, taking a stand against the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church. Many congregations will sing the “Battle Hymn of the Reformation”, Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott; or as English speakers know it, A mighty fortress is our God.

bored-churchRecently, I had a visitor to our church comment, “You guys sing a lot of hymns, you need to get with the program because young people don’t like that stuff.” I could have been offended by the comment (which I think this gentleman was trying to do), but I thought to myself, “actually, as a congregation that sings hymns we stand in line with the historic program of the Church, and I’m good with that” (and as an aside, we have a lot of young people in our church I think would take offense at his comment).… Continue reading

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If There are People, There are Places to Serve

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“There’s no where for me to serve around here.” Being involved in pastoral ministry in various roles for a number of years now, I have heard this line more than once. Generally, people want to do something at the church. For the most part, the desire to serve is commendable but  perhaps sometimes slightly misguided. We have  been conditioned to think of “serving” almost exclusively in terms of having our names on the flow chart for the organization. Tim Hawkins hilariously explains what Christians often mean whey they say someone has a “servants heart.” It means start stacking chairs! But ministry is so much more than stacking chairs, making the coffee (though important), turning on the lights, and handing out the bulletins.… Continue reading

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Hallows’ Eve: Betrayal of the Martyrs & Betrayal of Christ

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In just over a week, Americans will be participating in the fourth most popular holiday, Halloween. Of course, the holiday didn’t always mean “trick or treating,” costumes, and children intoxicated with candy. We’ve come quite far from the original intent of the holiday (what holiday hasn’t?), which, in name, calls to remembrance the many saints who have been martyred for the cause of Christ (hallow’d + eve = Halloween). That’s why in my last post, I encouraged you to remember the martyrs in order that you may be encouraged by them and be strengthened by their faith on the holiday that originally intended to encourage us to do that very thing.… Continue reading

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Don’t Be a Lone Wolf

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unityIt was one of the most uncomfortable meals of my life.  I had called a semi-local likeminded pastor in order to make him aware of a situation that may impact his small, rural church. After a brief phone conversation, we agreed to meet for lunch the next week. And after some initial pleasantries, he thanked me for calling him, and then he began to weep, and he kept weeping for well over an hour. The reason he wept was this, he felt utterly alone in ministry and his small little church, only a little over an hour away from us, felt utterly isolated from the universal church.… Continue reading

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Believer, God does not want to nuke ISIS

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UnknownA lot of media attention directed toward the Middle East. Stories and coverage of ISIS, Syria, Israel, Iran, and Iraq fill the headlines and social media. Every presidential candidate has a view and advocates his or her distinct policies for the region. Everyone has an opinion. Every opposing view is stupid. This is the only consensus in the discussion. Yet among the discussion has grown a troublesome rhetoric from Christians, “We need to nuke ISIS.” “We need to nuke Iran.” “Israel should nuke ’em all.” Let me be clear. God is not on board. I’m sure everyone who says this has rationalized the rhetoric, but it was not derived from Scripture.… Continue reading

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