August 13 2009
I'm sitting back here, tucked away in my hyper-secret pastor bunker, listening to piano versions of hymns and praise songs. It's very soothing, and is a part of what God uses to keep me going through the day. Back here I don't hear the office phone ring, but I've got my Blackberry if there's a problem. I don't pick up the church's wireless internet well enough to keep Tweetdeck open or to catch up on Blog reading. In fact, I've changed the way I blog just to accommodate being back here. Just about everything you read from me now is typed into OpenOffice writer, and I use a software plug-in to upload it to blogger when I get back to the office.
So, what does that have to do with anything? Well, the 3 pianists I have scrambled up in iTunes are Michael Gettel, Jim Brickman, and Chris Rice. Gettel's album is Change My Heart, O God, Piano and Chris Rice's is The Living Room Sessions, volume 1, Hymns (I've also got volume 2, Christmas, but it's August). I've got some Jim Brickman files that I legally purchased from iTunes. What I find interesting is the beauty of the music. Gettel is playing music from the Vineyard movement, which is very different in theology and practice from some of the classic theology found in the hymns played by Rice. And, currently, I'm listening to Brickman's rendition of God Bless America, which was written by a Jew, who would certainly have different theology. All of these blend together and you can hear the beauty in the music and realize that this is close to what church should sound like. Come Thou Fount mixed with As the Deer and Isn't He followed by How Great Thou Art.
The other point is that each of these 3 have differing styles to bring music from the same instrument. The same thing that I can make a horrendous racket from, they bring forth flowing melody and rhythm. I've gotten use to it enough that I can tell who is playing without looking, and I'd like to think I could even if they were playing different songs. We're a lot like that, or should be. There are parameters of life, just like in music. We have a freedom to improvise, to ruffle, to flourish within those parameters, and we ought to. It's the parameters that help us communicate to others. I see it most in the hymn How Great Thou Art, which I have from both Brickman and Rice. Either one is plainly obvious to be that hymn, and familiarity brings the words back when I hear it. But there is a difference in the way each brings beauty through individuality into the song. Brickman is meditative and Rice is triumphant, but there's more even than that. Download Rhapsody and use the 25 free songs you get this month to listen compare. Or listen for it on Sunday mornings before church. We as believers are performing the same song. We're testifying to the greatness and the wonder of God, to his majesty, holiness, and grace. We're sharing with the world the song of forgiveness, redemption, and adoption. How do you share it? Do you seek to mimic others? Do you seek to emulate good influences, while developing your own style?
Military aviation is one area that uses the terms “technique” and “procedure” to reflect this. (other businesses and ventures might also, but I learned it from military aviation people) A “procedure” is something that everyone does the same way every time because that's the way it has to be done. In the Christian life, that we pray to God is a procedure. We ought to all pray to the One True God, who sent His Son, Jesus Christ for us. How we pray to God is more of a “technique,” a way of doing something that your individuality comes into. You might pray standing, sitting, silently, quietly, loudly. You might write out your prayers, you might not. But you're still praying to God. Same with church. We Christians ought to all gather with God's people, something we call “going to church.” You might go to church with a small group in a house, or with 10,000 people at a fancy cathedral. One's technique, as long as it accomplishes the needed goals, is not critical.
As Christians, procedure is mostly defined by the Bible. Technique is informed by the Bible and driven by our culture, history, understanding, and maturity. Technique is something that we develop preferences in, and act on. Procedure is something that we just have to do. We must study Scripture, pray, tell the world about Jesus. I'd argue that we must also baptize and observe the Lord's Supper, repent and hold each other accountable. We are instructed to sing and to give generously. These things have to be done, just as an aircraft needs to have its fuel checked, airframe inspected, safety checks, instrument checks, engines/electronics checked, and then fired up and flown. The pilot must keep the plane up, and the navigator has to keep the pilot flying in the right direction. Whether the navigator does this by asking nicely or simply slapping the pilot until he gets it right is a technique , though. His personality comes through there, just as how we accomplish our tasks within the church can be a technique. We're just not allowed to smack people until they do right.
Proverbs 13:5 →This explains why righteous people get upset when people lie about things not even related to them. We ought to despise the untruthfulness, whether it affects us or not.
Proverbs 13:7 →Modernized: One goes nuts in debt to persuade others he's got it all, while another drives clunkers with a seriously large bankroll.
Proverbs 13:14 →Just as fountains require you to stop and get what they have, so you must stop and take in what the wise offer.
Proverbs 13:15 →So, we have tried and true political methods that work every time, don't we? Because treachery is always the same.
Proverbs 13:23 →This recognizes that some who work and labor are poor due to injustice. This injustice needs corrected. This is the first step to alleviating poverty that we should involve ourselves with as Christians: preventing and eliminating injustice that keeps workers from their just rewards.
1 Peter 4:3 →I'm seeing Peter saying here that our past times of living sinfully are enough. That we should have done enough of that living then, and be ready to move from it now. Yet have we had enough? Or do we long for that past?
Matthew 14:22-33 →He made the disciples? You mean that sometimes we have to do what He says? He doesn't always wait for us to agree to it? v. 24: Sometimes, when doing what Christ commands, the winds are contrary! Life tries to prevent our obedience, but we must be obedient to get where He has commanded we go. v. 30: how often I have chastised Peter for his sinking, but then I realized today that when I have begun to sink, I've tried to swim. How often do we try to swim and save ourselves when it seems our life is falling apart? Rather than cry out “Lord SAVE ME!” We sink, and then try again, and again, to swim back to the boat, and start over. v. 32: The storm didn't cease while Peter's on the sea. It ceases when they're back in the boat. Peter walked on raging seas too. v. 33: Does Peter not worship Him too? I see here that “ those who were in the boat” and just wonder if Peter was beyond words at this point?