Archive for April, 2009

Catalyst West Coast 2009 (More)

April 30th, 2009 No comments

There were a number of great talks over the two days of the Catalyst Conference, but in some ways the first was the best. (For me as a pastor. Another talk was the best for me as a follower of Christ; I’ll write about that in a few days.)

The talk was by Andy Stanley, who spoke about leading a church in uncertainty (e.g., the economy). There was a lot of good advice in his talk, but the best piece of advice was — duh! — you’ll do better in uncertain times if you know what you’re trying to accomplish.

What is your mission?

Our church does have a mission statement, but I doubt if anybody knows what it says. I don’t. Developing one we can all take to heart is something our Session needs to devote some serious time to discussing and praying about.

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Catalyst West Coast 2009 (More)

April 28th, 2009 No comments

There was a great slate of speakers at the conference, including some “big names” like Rick Warren and Andy Stanley and Ravi Zacharias. There was also a great presentation by Erwin McManus (whose book Unstoppable Force we just studied in the Wednesday class). But one of the most impressive speakers was someone I’d never heard of: Nick Vujicic. I can’t link to his presentation at the conference, but here’s a sample to give you an idea:

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Catalyst West Coast 2009

April 26th, 2009 No comments

This is the first year that Catalyst has had a west-coast event. I’m glad I went.

Catalyst 2009 West Coast

That’s the worship (or, Presbyterians would say, the “worship music”). The band is Hillsong United, from Australia.

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Susan Boyle is a Reminder

April 16th, 2009 No comments

Today I heard about Susan Boyle, the singing sensation who wowed the judges on Britain’s Got Talent. (Her story is summarized here, and it’s worth reading.)

It’s a touching reminder how much we judge people. All the time, and to our shame.

But God is good, and occasionally lets us see in one person, like Susan Boyle, the potential that is in everyone. And what a joy it is when we do get to see it.

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O God, Thy Being Who Can Sound

April 8th, 2009 1 comment

I recently happened to hear the hymn “O God, Thy Being Who Can Sound.” (Here.) It’s a beautiful arrangement, and I wondered that I hadn’t heard the hymn before. I googled for it awhile, but couldn’t find it.

But it kept bugging me, so I posted an inquiry on Facebook, and someone there found it here on (That was a particularly helpful link, since I hadn’t stumbled upon before. Now I’ve bookmarked it for future use.)

As for the hymn, now that I have lyrics, I see it is a great example of traditional hymnody:

Eternity thy fountain was,
Which, like thee, no beginning knew;
Thou wast ere time began his race,
Ere glowed with stars the ethereal blue.

This is why so many hymns are inaccessible to so many Christ followers today. The language is both dated (“wast,” “ere,”) and esoteric (“ethereal”). It is also poetic, and, as a result, difficult to follow — especially when you don’t have written lyrics to parse. The syntax in the first line is inverted, and time is personified in the 3rd line. Say what you will about “Shine, Jesus, Shine,” but it doesn’t take much effort to understand what the lyrics are about.

Now, the music for “O God, Thy Being Who Can Sound” was very nice (to my ear; I’m no expert). But you would expect that, with J.S. Bach having improved upon what the Geistliche Lieder gave him. But music comes and goes. How many hit singles did Bach have last year?

And yet, for all its difficulties, it would be a shame if this hymn disappeared. How many songs can you think of which distinguish between time and eternity? That’s pretty deep theology. And it’s just one verse out of six!

Let the record show, by the way, that I like praise music. Well, mostly. I tend to grit my teeth after about four choruses of anything, even my favorites. But if I’m in the zone, I can put up with more. And I’m a whole lot more likely to become en-zoned with praise music than traditional hymnody.

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In Time for Holy Week: Apostasy!

April 2nd, 2009 No comments

C.S. Lewis somewhere decries ministers who desert their faith but feel they should be left to “carry on” in their office in the church. Here’s a case in point: an Episcopal Muslim:

“Both religions say there’s only one God,” Redding said, “and that God is the same God. It’s very clear we are talking about the same God! …”

(What, I wonder, makes it “very clear” that “we are talking about the same God?” Is it the Bible? The Qur’an? Or simply her wish that it were so?)

“… So I haven’t shifted my allegiance.”

The sad thing is that she probably hasn’t. That would be a shame, if she were just another member of her church. But she was a priest.

A priest for 30 years, yet her faith was such that she could become a Muslim and not shift her allegiance. Thirty years. Lord have mercy.

Now, after only three years of apostasy, Redding has been defrocked. Three years. One for each time the cock crowed.

O make me Thine forever,
and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
outlive my love to Thee.

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded.

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