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Archive for July, 2012

Jul 12

Praying for Praise – VBS Starts Monday!

2012 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Events,Prayer

Vacation Bible School begins on Monday! Hundreds of children from our own church and from the neighborhood will be with us each evening from 6:00-8:30 PM, learning about God and about salvation in Christ through the Scriptures. The first chapter of the book of Ephesians tells us that God’s purpose in all of his saving work is “the praise of his glorious grace” (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14). Pray for our children at VBS, that they would know God as he has revealed himself in his Word, that they would trust his saving promises in Christ, and praise him with their lives.

To help you pray for the children, here are the themes they will be focusing on each day and several verses that they will be hearing and learning.

Monday: Praise God for His Greatness

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.
–Isaiah 40:28

Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.
–Psalm 145:3

Tuesday: Praise God for His Authority

For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth.
–Psalm 47:2

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
–Philippians 2:9–11

Wednesday: Praise God for His Providence

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
–Psalm 121:1–4

This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.
–Acts 2:23–24

Thursday: Praise God for His Power

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
–Romans 1:16

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
–Philippians 3:20–21

Friday: Praise God for His Love

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
–Romans 5:8

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
–Romans 8:38–39

Register your children for VBS online here, and don’t forget to extend an invitation to your neighbors and friends who have VBS age children. They are welcome to register on Monday night, if that is best for them.

Also, if you would like to serve in VBS but can’t be a part of the action during the week, perhaps you could serve our volunteers by helping provide for the daily volunteer meal. There is still a need for several meal items, including napkins, carrots, bell peppers, potato salad, grapes, and a few other things. Please email Nicole Arredondo if you are interested, at beenrshnitzl@hotmail.com.

Jul 11

Resources for Congregational Listening and Singing

2012 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Music and Singing,Recommended Resources,Sermon Follow-Up

In Sunday’s sermon, “A Both/And Kind of Praise: The Form,” Ryan addressed a number of principles that give shape to our Sunday gatherings.

The Role of the Sermon Listener

We learned that corporate praise should be both pastoral and participatory. So, while some are responsible for leading in song, all of us are part of the “church choir.” We should be engaged in singing, in relating with one another, and in prayer. But we should also be engaged in the preaching. That is, we should actively listen to and digest Sunday’s sermon as it comes at us. Much of our listening in a week is passive. Not this listening.

To help with this, there are two resources available at the Resource Center that teach us sermon listening skills:

Expository Listening: A Practical Handbook for Hearing and Doing God’s Word
by Ken Ramey

Listen Up!: A Practical Guide to Listening to Sermons
by Christopher Ash

Principles for Song Selection

Song selection is pastorally directed as well, a function of the shepherding role of our leaders. And our leaders aim to select songs that are singable and encourage our unified engagement in song. In addition, our praise, as Ryan explained, should connect us with the past and the present. For this reason, we work to utilize the best of older and newer songs for congregational singing. We want to sing songs that accurately, thoughtfully, and beautifully express the truth we love in a manner that fits that truth.

Several writers and writing groups are worth mentioning, each devoted to serving the church with texts and music for congregational singing.

Keith and Krystin Getty are modern hymn writers. You might recognize the songs, “In Christ Alone,” “By Faith,” or “O Church, Arise.” We have the Gettys to thank for those tunes and many others. Their two popular albums are, In Christ Alone, and Awaken the Dawn.  

Then, there’s Sovereign Grace Music, writing new songs and putting old songs to new tunes. You might be familiar with “Arise My Soul, Arise,” or “Now Why This Fear.” Both of these songs are from the newest Sovereign Grace album, From Age to Age.

Another group to check out is Sojourn Music, from Sojourn Church in Louisville, KY. Like Sovereign Grace Music, Sojourn writes a number of their own songs, and sets some of the better older songs to updated or new arrangements. A full list of songs with links for purchase is available here, including “Before the Throne of God Above,” “Warrior,” and “Absent from Flesh.” Examples of excellent songs that might not be familiar to you are, “Glory Be,” “Only Your Blood,” and “In The Shadow of The Glorious Cross.”

And, of course, at DSC we sing newer songs, many written by our own members, and older songs with updated arrangements. Click here for albums previously released by DSC, and check back to DSC’s bandcamp page for a slow trickle of free downloads of songs recorded at last year’s Cause for Praise concert, including, “He Hideth My Soul,” and “Kyrie (Lord, Have Mercy).”

The most important singing we do in a week is on Sunday morning when we’re together. But you can’t go wrong by investing in some of these songs for listening throughout the week.

Jul 5

God, Praise, and the Nature of Christian Singing

2012 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Sermon Follow-Up

In Sunday’s sermon, “A Both/And Kind of Praise: The Ingredients“, Ryan included a number of insightful and memorable quotes.

D.A. Carson on how to find excellent corporate worship, from Worship By the Book:

Although there are things that can be done to enhance corporate worship, there is a profound sense in which excellent worship cannot be attained merely by pursuing excellent worship. In the same way that, according to Jesus, you cannot find yourself until you lose yourself, so also you cannot find excellent corporate worship until you stop trying to find excellent corporate worship and pursue God himself. Despite the protestations, one sometimes wonders if we are beginning to worship worship rather than worship God. As a brother put it to me, it’s a bit like those who begin by admiring the sunset and soon begin to admire themselves admiring the sunset. This point is acknowledged in a praise chorus like “Let’s forget about ourselves, and magnify the Lord, and worship him.” The trouble is that after you have sung this repetitious chorus three of four times, you are no farther ahead. The way you forget about yourself is by focusing on God—not by singing about doing it, but by doing it.

Jonathan Edwards on the relationship of truth, affections, and expresion:

God glorifies Himself toward the creatures also in two ways: 1. By appearing to. . .their understanding. 2. In communicating Himself to their hearts, and in their rejoicing and delighting in, and enjoying, the manifestations which He makes of Himself.

. . .God is glorified not only by His glory’s being seen, but by its being rejoiced in. When those that see it delight in it, God is more glorified than if they only see it. His glory is then received by the whole soul, both by the understanding and by the heart.

. . .I don’t think ministers are to be blamed for raising the affections of their hearers too high, if that which they are affected with be only that which is worthy of affection, and their affections are not raised beyond a proportion to their importance, or worthiness of affection. I should think [it is] my duty to raise the affections of my hearers as high as possibly I can, provided that they are affected with nothing but truth, and with affections that are not disagreeable to the nature of what they are affected with.

C.S. Lewis on the nature of praise, from Reflections on the Psalms:

When I first began to draw near to belief in God. . .I found a stumbling block in the demand so clamorously made by all religious people that we should ‘praise’ God; still more in the suggestion that God Himself demanded it. We all despise the man who demands continued assurance of his own virtue, intelligence or delightfulness.

. . .I did not see that it is in the process of being worshipped that God communicates His presence to men. It is not of course the only way. But for many people at many times the ‘fair beauty of the Lord’ is revealed chiefly or only while they worship Him together. But the most obvious fact about praise. . .strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honour. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise. . .The world rings with praise — lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favourite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favourite game — praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars.

. . .I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: ‘Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?’ The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about.

. . .I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch; to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with.

John Wesley on how we should sing together, from “Directions for Singing”, in Select Hymns, 1761:

Sing all. See that you join with the congregation as frequently as you can. Let not a slight degree of weakness or weariness hinder you. If it is a cross to you, take it up, and you will find it a blessing.

Sing lustily and with a good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength. Be no more afraid of your voice now, nor more ashamed of its being heard, than when you sung the songs of Satan.

Sing modestly. Do not bawl, so as to be heard above or distinct from the rest of the congregation, that you may not destroy the harmony; but strive to unite your voices together, so as to make one clear melodious sound.

Sing in time. Whatever time is sung be sure to keep with it. Do not run before nor stay behind it; but attend close to the leading voices, and move therewith as exactly as you can; and take care not to sing too slow. This drawling way naturally steals on all who are lazy; and it is high time to drive it out from us, and sing all our tunes just as quick as we did at first.

Above all sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing him more than yourself, or any other creature. In order to do this attend strictly to the sense of what you sing, and see that your heart is not carried away with the sound, but offered to God continually; so shall your singing be such as the Lord will approve here, and reward you when he cometh in the clouds of heaven.

For an excellent sermon on the subject of singing in worship, listen to Ryan’s sermon, “Spirit-Filled Singing,” from Ephesians 5:14-20.

Jul 2

Interview with Nathan Sherman, Part 3

2012 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Interview

This is the third post in a three-part blog interview with Nathan Sherman, DSC’s new Minister to Youth and Families. Part 1 explored Nathan’s church background and ministry training. Part 2 explored some of the influences in Nathan’s life. Part three is a little less serious. . .but just a little. Read on!

How do you like to spend your down time? Any hobbies? 

I love any good story. Whether it’s a true story—a history book or a documentary film—or a fictional story—a novel, movie, or TV series. We are people who love stories, and God has revealed himself to us primarily through story, so I love reading, watching, or listening to stories as they imperfectly but often very acutely point to that Great Redemptive Story.

We also love going to parks and playing with our boys. I also really love baseball. I whole-heartedly endorse pastor David Prince’s sentiment on baseball, the Church, and the gospel. I’m a huge fan of the Texas Rangers and am excited because their AAA team often comes through Albuquerque.

Okay, now a few left fielders:

What is the dumbest thing you did as a kid?

One time I wanted to make a maze out of cardboard boxes for my cat, Coconut. I asked my mom if I could cut up a bunch of boxes to tape together, so that I could see if Coconut could find her way out in a weird lab rat experiment kind of way. My mom wisely said no, so I waited for her to leave the house. I then tore holes in the boxes, since my mom merely told me that I couldn’t cut the boxes.  I taped the maze together, put cat food at one end and Coconut in the other end. She completely freaked out, went crazy, and broke apart the first two boxes, making my hours worth of work last for about 2 seconds. Then my mom found out, and I had to spend the rest of the night in my room by myself. A really worthwhile and wise use of a day, that was.

Any odd talents that we should know about up front?

I can beatbox mildly well. I’m well above average on a foosball table. I’m an exceptional Tecmo Super Bowl player on the original Nintendo. And you wouldn’t want to challenge me in riding roller coasters—I’m really good at riding roller coasters.

What’s your favorite animal, and why? 

A great past-time of mine is proposing hypothetical Octagon of Death scenarios, in which two beings enter without weapons, and only one can exit the Octagon alive. This can include fictional character (Rocky Balboa vs. Rambo) or historical figures (George Washington vs. Abraham Lincoln), but it most often pits two animals against each other. I’m pretty confident in a Bengal tiger’s ability against most of the rest of the Animal Kingdom, so I’ll go with him. Or a Grizzly bear. No, a Bengal tiger. Final answer.

Without going to the internet, do you know what a Lobo is? An Isotope? Carne Adovada?

I know that the Lobo is the UNM mascot, and the Lobo looks like a really vicious, wolfy-looking guy. So I will guess that a lobo is some kind of a wolf?

I’m pretty sure that once upon a time Mr. Williams taught me what an isotope was in high school chemistry. I can’t tell you exactly what an isotope is, but I do know that without isotopes, the Manhattan Project and the creation of the atomic bomb wouldn’t be possible. And I do know that without Isotopes, the Dodgers would have very little Minor League talent.

I took five years of German in high school and college, so my Spanish is not very good. I know that carne means beef, and adovada reminds me of avocado—one of the more superior things that God has created—so I’ll go with some kind of beefy-avocado combination. And I’m sure isotopes were somehow used in creating such a delectable treat.

And, for one last question, red or green?

Green means go. You can sleep when you’re dead.

Many thanks to Nathan for giving such care to these questions. And, just to make sure everyone is clear on this – Nathan had to write me back to share that he looked up “red or green” on the internet and realized that he misunderstood the last question. Of course, part of our purpose in asking was to expose a contextualization weakness and I think we’ve found it!

Pray for the Shermans this week as they transition to Albuquerque, and greet them warmly on July 8, their first Sunday with us at DSC.