rePost – Shepherds

shepherd-edit
A shepherd pic I took from our bus when I was in Israel.

OK – What are shepherds? Well, they’re the guys who watched the sheep. Many times in ancient Jewish culture they were young boys, but sometimes older guys did it too. They were responsible for moving the sheep from one field to the next so they could get plenty to eat and safe water to drink. They also protected the sheep from predators and would leave the group in order to search for a lost sheep. The sheep knew the shepherd’s voice. With a few shepherds and their sheep all intermingled, the shepherd could call his sheep and only those who were his would follow. Shepherds led a humble life – probably a bit of a lonely life too out in the fields with nothing but sheep (and God) to talk to all day. This sets the scene for what we’re about to read. A group of shepherds were out in a field near Bethlehem one night when according the Message paraphrase of Luke 2:8-20:

They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master.  This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”

At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:

Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.”

They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed. Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!

Now consider this: These particular shepherds are famous. Think about it: Shepherds were humble nobodys and social outcasts in their own culture, but here we are talking about them 2000 years later. What did they do that made them different?

1. They listened to God. (vs 15)

When the angel appeared that night in the field, there were lots of voices competing for their attention: 1) The voice of Doubt saying “You must be hallucinating. It was something you ate.” 2) The voice of Duty “You can’t go into Bethlehem. You’re responsible for these sheep.” 3) The voice of Laziness “You’re tired. It’s been a long day. Just stay here and rest.”

2. They ran to Jesus. (vs 16)

Once they decided they were going to listen to God, they had a sense of urgency. They didn’t waste time. They allowed their own Godly curiosity to dictate their pace. (When I’ve preached this message, I use the scene from “When Harry Met Sally” where Harry runs to the Christmas Party to talk to Sally. At one point he uses the line ” When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” I think that quote is appropriate for the shepherds too.)

3. They told everyone about Jesus. (vs 17-18)

When they had seen Jesus, they didn’t keep it to themselves. News spread quickly ’cause they were so excited. Matthew 12:34 says “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” The shepherds couldn’t contain themselves. Much like the news of a woman’s engagement. Sometimes she doesn’t even get to tell everyone, ’cause the news spreads so fast that people hear before she can get to them. Also, Remember, the angel had told them that this news was for “all people,” and so they were just doing their part.

4. They worshiped Jesus. (vs 20)

The shepherds worshiped with their mouths, but also with their lives as they told others and spread the news of Jesus.

I don’t know if it’s important to have people talking about us 2000 years later, but these shepherds stand out among all the other shepherds of the world because they reacted to Jesus in these ways. How would our lives be different if we did too? Would we stand out from the rest of the world if we truly listened to God, felt an urgency to be with Him, told others about Him, and worshiped Him? I think so and I pray that my life will reflect the attitudes and actions of these shepherd nobodys.

Other interesting Stuff:

It is very possible that these Bethlehem shepherds were watching over the temple flock – taking care of the sacrificial lambs. I think it’s cool that some of the first to see the true Lamb of God were the humble folks who took care of the sacrificial lambs from the temple.

Note that when angels appear, they aren’t greeted as if they are cute little flying cupids. They are feared. The first thing out of an angel’s mouth is almost always, “Do not be afraid.”

The fact that God chose to send the angel to the shepherds spoke volumes. Shepherds were regarded as unreliable and were not allowed to give testimony in courts (Morris), and so God chose to use them in spite of that reputation. Notice in verse 18 that when the people heard what they had to say, they were amazed. I think it’s interesting that they believed these unreliable shepherds enough to be amazed!

Notice the angelic glory in comparison the the humble Jesus who created the angels.

In ancient Jewish culture, when a boy was born, local musicians congregated at his home to greet him with music. (Daily Study Bible) Since Jesus was born in a stable, the angelic choir had to take the place of the local musicians.

The swaddling clothes was normal, but if the angel hadn’t told them to look for Jesus in a manger (feeding trough) they would never have believed it. Calvin said, “This was a revolting sight, and was sufficient of itself to produce an aversion to Christ. For what could be more improbable than to believe that he was the King of the whole people, who was deemed unworthy to be ranked with the lowest of the multitude?”

Check out what Calvin says about the shepherds “glorifying and praising God” in verse 20. “If the cradle of Christ had such an effect upon them, as to make them rise from the stable and the manger to heaven, how much more powerful ought the death and resurrection of Christ to be in raising us to God?”

 

Misconceptions:

Most scholars agree that the time of Jesus’ birth was probably not Dec 25th. In his commentary, Adam Clarke suggests a fall time frame due to the fact that the sheep were in the fields at night.

Shepherds fields in Israel are much more rocky than Most Americans imagine. Notice the shepherd and sheep in this pic.
Shepherds fields in Israel are much more rocky than Most Americans imagine. Notice the shepherd and sheep in this pic.
shepherds-field-with-shepherd
Shepherds fields in Israel are much more rocky than Most Americans imagine. Notice the shepherd and sheep in this pic.
A Manger was a stone feeding trough for animals, rather than the wood/hay centerpiece in most Nativity scenes.
A Manger was a stone feeding trough for animals, rather than the wood/hay centerpiece in most Nativity scenes.

Throne Together Story & Downloads

Jon Eichler's Wedding Pics

A request before my post: If Throne Together impacted you in some significant way, please post a comment below. I’d love to pass on some of your stories to the band. Now I’ll continue with my post.

I was at a wedding a little while back (Congrats Jon Eichler!) that made me start thinking about the band I used to play in – Throne Together. At the wedding Jon Godbold and I took a few pics in honor of the band – that’s probably what made me start remembering. Anyway, there’s no way to describe the impact that “Throne Together” had on me, so I figured I needed to write something to try to capture a part of it.

Story

A Start:

“Throne Together” was originally organized as the worship band for a Saturday Night service which Mike Mathews (Pastor @ TUMC) wanted to start. We got the band together and began practicing. Most of us had never played in a band before but we were having so much fun that we just kept working. Meanwhile the Saturday Night service start date kept getting pushed back so I talked Mike into letting us play one Sunday morning as a special event. Although it stirred up some trouble for him, Mike decided that he wanted us to begin playing every other Sunday morning and so we did.

Saturday Night:

When the service finally started we had grown into a full fledged band and adopted the name “Throne Together” from Jeremiah 3:17 “We come to the throne together for worship.” We rehearsed during the week, and played for the Saturday Night service as well as every other Sunday morning. It was during this time that the “Worship Wars” began at Tomball UMC. Although many loved the addition of the band to their traditional service, some church members weren’t too happy about it. Along with Mike Mathews, we became the target of much criticism. It was a tough time but it was also an incredible time. In spite of the critical people, we were also riding the waves of excitement among our supporters. The persecution only served to bind us together and solidify the sense of purpose we had in following the calling we felt to find new ways to express our own gratitude and relationship to God. Throne Together became a sort of family to one another. We took care of each other and supported each other. Our weekly rehearsals became a sort of small group. We studied all kinds of books (usually about worship) and together, we all grew closer to God. We hung out together outside of church. We were friends. (and still are)

Recording/Gigs

We tried to find places to play outside of church as much as possible. Each year we spent a full week playing for the Texas Conference NW District Camp for about 400 High School students. These times became important for us as they allowed for us to have extended practices and lots of shared time to hang out and simply grow together. There was also a young man named Charles Jones who would sit in with us on the piano. All he needed to know was the key we would play in and he’d just jam away. (Charles is now a professional musician living in LA. He was in the movie “Dreamgirls” and plays with John Mayer, Jonny Lang, Jennifer Hudson, etc.) Playing at “camp” also allowed us to bring a few extra people along. We always had someone to run sound/video (Evan Godbold, Zach McNair, Jon Eichler, Ryan Floro, Jarrod Ambrose) for us during our worship times. Many of these “extras” eventually became musicians themselves and ended up serving in other bands and ministries. We also played pretty regularly at “His Word” Christian Bookstore/Coffeehouse where our church members would come out to support us in great numbers. One of those nights a young man named “Todd Agnew” opened up for us. (He eventually went on to have quite a bit of success himself.) Another yearly gig we had was playing for the Susanna Wesley Day School Fall Festival. Those were great times ’cause we got to play outside and let our hair down a little bit. Things were very laid back and we could experiment a bit. One of our greatest compliments actually came from one of those gigs. One young boy told his mom that we weren’t really playing and it was a recording. Also by the way, we put together a group called the “Four Tune Hunters” to play for one of the first Fall Festivals which included Jon Godbold, myself, Terry Crump, and Kurt Narum. This may very well have been the beginning of Throne Together as it brought Jon and I together to collaborate.

We recorded two CDs during our time together. “Knock Just a Little” was released in 2000 and “The Return” in 2002. Although there were a few exceptions, Jon Godbold was our main songwriter. He would bring a song to the band and then we’d collaborate a bit to figure out song structure and add musical ideas to his foundation. The songs reflected many of the feelings and thoughts that we were experiencing together. Those were fun days. We recorded in a home studio with the leadership/production expertise of one of our great friends – Mike Briscoe. Kristy, his bride was also very gracious to allow us to invade her home so regularly during those times. Mike is an incredible musician himself. If you ever have an opportunity, check him out.

Members

Original Members were:

Steve Corn – guitar, vocals
John Creed – bass
Buck Miller – drums
Eric Courville – electric guitar
Sarah Rampy – keys
Janice Stump – vocals
Leslie Morgan (Banatwala) – vocals
Shana Googer (Gumienny) – vocals

It wasn’t long before John Creed moved away and so Jon Godbold reluctantly joined the “church band” as our new bass player. Shana Googer, Janice Stump, and Sarah Rampy also moved away. We chose not to replace them, but eventually found Chip Leitschuh to play keys. These changes brought us to what would become the backbone of the group.

Backbone Members

Steve Corn – guitar, vocals
Jon Godbold – bass, vocals
Buck Miller – drums
Eric Courville – electric guitar, vocals
Chip Leitschuh – keys
Leslie Morgan (Banatwala) – vocals, flute
Shana Googer (Gumienny) – vocals – always a part of the group when she was in town

Tragedy struck the band when Buck died of an accidental overdose with a bad combination of prescription drugs. Other than family, I was the first to arrive on the scene that night. Buck’s son, Dustan Thrift was in Hawaii working as a trainer for the SMU football team and his mom asked me to call to give him the bad news. It was a tough night to say the least.

Eric eventually stepped out and Leslie and I moved away.

Third generation of players

After Buck died and Eric left, we had a lot of instrumental shoes to fill. Luckily, many of our original fans had grown into musicians themselves and so Josh Cook and Dale Googer took on semi-permanent roles. We also discovered Chris Montes during this time and were trying to figure out why God would send us another acoustic guitar player/vocalist when we really needed an electric player?? Once God revealed his plan to move me, it all became clear. Chris took my place and was able to lead them to become much better musicians. Here’s the last line-up:

Chris Montes – guitar, vocals
Jon Godbold – bass, vocals
Dale Googer – drums
Josh Cook – electric guitar, vocals
Chip Leitschuh – keys
Shana Googer (Gumienny) – vocals

Other Short-Term or Guest Members include:

Ray Victor – soprano sax, drums
Patti Mathews – vocals
Dan Johnson – drums
Keith Cathcart – keys, vocals
Evan Godbold – vocals, bass, guitar
Hans Googer – guitar
Josh Gumienny – guitar, vocals
Zach Godbold – bass, vocals
Andrew Gay – electric guitar
Charles Jones – piano at church camp

According to Jon, one of the very last line-ups was what he called “Throne in the Greenhouse.” At their final District Camp the members of Throne Together (Chris, Jon, Chip, Shana) joined forces with those from “Greenhouse Effect” (Zach, Dale, Josh, Andrew Gay). Jon says it was “loud of full of energy.”

Impact

The impact of Throne Together is tough to describe. We were mentioned in the Cy Falls High School Yearbook as one of their students favorite bands. (That may be our highest official honor.) The entire community of believers at Tomball UMC was directly impacted each Sunday as they were led in worship. (Some would say it was a horrible impact.) Throne Together was also a part of a beautiful movement of the Spirit during those days. Quite possibly the greatest impact was eventually seen in the number of young people (once fans) who would go on to be involved in worship music themselves. There have been quite a few worship bands who were formed from the ranks of Throne Together fans. Even more interesting is to watch the 3rd Generation of bands – people who were impacted by people who were impacted by Throne Together. There’s no way to know how many people have been touched by all these musicians, but I feel confident in saying that God rejoices over them all. And I feel humbled and blessed to have been able to be a part of it.

If Throne Together impacted you in some significant way, please post a comment below.


CD downloads

Each download below includes entire CD. All songs + a Digital Booklet which was created from the original artwork. These files are large (high quality) and will take a while to download. Just right click and select “save as” to download.

Download “Knock Just a Little” here:

Knock Just a Little.zip

Track listing:
Knock Just a Little
Everlasting King
Motel 7
When I Fall Away
Show Me Your Face
The Way You Lead
Need
Not Long For This World
Wish
Begin to Understand
Whirlwind

Download “The Return” here:

The Return.zip

Track listing:
All for You
Inside Out
Hasten the Day
If
Breaking Free
Everything You Do
Prepare the Way
Just a Little While Longer
Take You In
The Return
Fade Away

Download some previously Unreleased Tracks here:

Unreleased Tracks.zip

Track listing:
Fade Away Lullaby (altered lyrics)
(changed for Steve’s son Kasen)

All for You (Cheesy Techno Mix)

Happy Song (live @ His Word)

All I Want (live @ His Word)

Things I Prayed For (live @ His Word)

Shepherds

shepherd-edit
A shepherd pic I took from our bus when I was in Israel.

OK – What are shepherds? Well, they’re the guys who watched the sheep. Many times in ancient Jewish culture they were young boys, but sometimes older guys did it too. They were responsible for moving the sheep from one field to the next so they could get plenty to eat and safe water to drink. They also protected the sheep from predators and would leave the group in order to search for a lost sheep. The sheep knew the shepherd’s voice. With a few shepherds and their sheep all intermingled, the shepherd could call his sheep and only those who were his would follow. Shepherds led a humble life – probably a bit of a lonely life too out in the fields with nothing but sheep (and God) to talk to all day. This sets the scene for what we’re about to read. A group of shepherds were out in a field near Bethlehem one night when according the Message paraphrase of Luke 2:8-20:

The Shepherds and the Angels

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[a]

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Now consider this: These particular shepherds are famous. Think about it: Shepherds were humble nobodys and social outcasts in their own culture, but here we are talking about them 2000 years later. What did they do that made them different?

1. They listened to God. (vs 15)

When the angel appeared that night in the field, there were lots of voices competing for their attention: 1) The voice of Doubt saying “You must be hallucinating. It was something you ate.” 2) The voice of Duty “You can’t go into Bethlehem. You’re responsible for these sheep.” 3) The voice of Laziness “You’re tired. It’s been a long day. Just stay here and rest.”

2. They ran to Jesus. (vs 16)

Once they decided they were going to listen to God, they had a sense of urgency. They didn’t waste time. They allowed their own Godly curiosity to dictate their pace. (When I’ve preached this message, I use the scene from “When Harry Met Sally” where Harry runs to the Christmas Party to talk to Sally. At one point he uses the line ” When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” I think that quote is appropriate for the shepherds too.)

3. They told everyone about Jesus. (vs 17-18)

When they had seen Jesus, they didn’t keep it to themselves. News spread quickly ’cause they were so excited. Matthew 12:34 says “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” The shepherds couldn’t contain themselves. Much like the news of a woman’s engagement. Sometimes she doesn’t even get to tell everyone, ’cause the news spreads so fast that people hear before she can get to them. Also, Remember, the angel had told them that this news was for “all people,” and so they were just doing their part.

4. They worshiped Jesus. (vs 20)

The shepherds worshiped with their mouths, but also with their lives as they told others and spread the news of Jesus.

I don’t know if it’s important to have people talking about us 2000 years later, but these shepherds stand out among all the other shepherds of the world because they reacted to Jesus in these ways. How would our lives be different if we did too? Would we stand out from the rest of the world if we truly listened to God, felt an urgency to be with Him, told others about Him, and worshiped Him? I think so and I pray that my life will reflect the attitudes and actions of these shepherd nobodys.

Other interesting Stuff:

It is very possible that these Bethlehem shepherds were watching over the temple flock – taking care of the sacrificial lambs. I think it’s cool that some of the first to see the true Lamb of God were the humble folks who took care of the sacrificial lambs from the temple.

Note that when angels appear, they aren’t greeted as if they are cute little flying cupids. They are feared. The first thing out of an angel’s mouth is almost always, “Do not be afraid.”

The fact that God chose to send the angel to the shepherds spoke volumes. Shepherds were regarded as unreliable and were not allowed to give testimony in courts (Morris), and so God chose to use them in spite of that reputation. Notice in verse 18 that when the people heard what they had to say, they were amazed. I think it’s interesting that they believed these unreliable shepherds enough to be amazed!

Notice the angelic glory in comparison the the humble Jesus who created the angels.

In ancient Jewish culture, when a boy was born, local musicians congregated at his home to greet him with music. (Daily Study Bible) Since Jesus was born in a stable, the angelic choir had to take the place of the local musicians.

The swaddling clothes was normal, but if the angel hadn’t told them to look for Jesus in a manger (feeding trough) they would never have believed it. Calvin said, “This was a revolting sight, and was sufficient of itself to produce an aversion to Christ. For what could be more improbable than to believe that he was the King of the whole people, who was deemed unworthy to be ranked with the lowest of the multitude?”

Check out what Calvin says about the shepherds “glorifying and praising God” in verse 20. “If the cradle of Christ had such an effect upon them, as to make them rise from the stable and the manger to heaven, how much more powerful ought the death and resurrection of Christ to be in raising us to God?”

Most scholars agree that the time of Jesus’ birth was probably not Dec 25th. In his commentary, Adam Clarke suggests a fall time frame due to the fact that the sheep were in the fields at night.

Misconceptions:

Shepherds fields in Israel are much more rocky than Most Americans imagine. Notice the shepherd and sheep in this pic.
Shepherds fields in Israel are much more rocky than Most Americans imagine. Notice the shepherd and sheep in this pic.
shepherds-field-with-shepherd
Shepherds fields in Israel are much more rocky than Most Americans imagine. Notice the shepherd and sheep in this pic.
A Manger was a stone feeding trough for animals, rather than the wood/hay centerpiece in most Nativity scenes.
A Manger was a stone feeding trough for animals, rather than the wood/hay centerpiece in most Nativity scenes.

Worship by Sweat

dustan
Dustan sweated through the make-up with the kids in Mexico.

I was exercising this morning and started thinking about an old friend of mine. Dustan Thrift was a “sweat worshiper.” He once said, “If I didn’t sweat then I didn’t worship.” We had been talking about worship in our small group and had decided that worship was simply “honoring God.” Hebrews 12 says that worship is “offering our bodies as living sacrifices.” Dustan had a real servant’s heart – he was the first guy to move chairs (or skate ramps) or do any physical labor that needed to be done in order for our ministries to run smoothly. He was an awesome guy to have around!

Anyway, today I was sweating as I exercised and realized that my sweat was actually worship. God has called us to be good stewards of the things He gives us and He gave me my body. That means that when I take care of it, I’m honoring Him – and that, my friends is worship!

Of course you can sweat to make things happen that honor other things too.That sweat is worship too – it’s just worshiping the wrong things.

Anyway, I just thought it was worth sharing. Each little droplet of sweat can be like an offering to God. Hmm. . . I wouldn’t want to be the one to collect that offering!!

PS – Today I’m gonna help a friend move. As I try honor God by helping my brother in Christ, I’m sure I’m gonna experience a little “sweat worship” myself.

Pagan Christianity

paganchristianity“Pagan Christianity” by Frank Viola and George Barna is an interesting read. I read it a few months ago, and quite honestly, I’ve been wrestling with it ever since. I haven’t blogged or posted anything, ’cause I simply don’t know what to think.

The book is written to describe the origins of many of our church traditions. By the title, you’d accurately presume that most of our traditions are heavily influenced or even completely based upon Pagan practices. This is true. The authors make a strong case and truly have their “ducks in a row” in regards to documenting these things. Here’s the problem though – just because something has it’s origin outside of the church, doesn’t make it wrong or even unbiblical. For me, these ideas expressed in Pagan Christianity, have helped me to consider and think about what practices are truly “necessary” according to the Scriptures. Acts 2:42-47 describes the things the early church concerned themselves with:

Teaching/Learning, Fellowship, Breaking of the Bread, Prayer, Filled with awe by signs and wonders (by God), Shared with one another and took care of each other, were intentional about being together, Praised God

Now, somewhere along the road, the church became much more and people began to focus on other things. Some of those things have benefited the church over the years, but that doesn’t mean they are necessary. The message of the Gospel will never change, however, the methods must change with culture.

 


 

Below is a list of the origins of many of our quote/unquote “Christian” traditions as described in the book. The authors give much more detail and do a very thorough job, but this is just a basic list. There’s a lot here so you might just want to “skim” it.


1. The church building – was first constructed under Constantine in AD 327. They were patterned after Roman basilicas/Greek temples. Before that, Christians met in homes, community centers, and Jewish temples.

2. Sacred space – was a borrowed idea from pagans in the 2nd-3rd centuries. Burial places of martyrs was considered “sacred” and when churches were built above these cemeteries – they became “sacred” too. Sacred space for the Christian is everywhere since the Holy Spirit resides in us.

3. The Pastor’s chair – came from the cathedra, which was the Bishop’s chair or throne. It replaced the seat of the judge in the Roman basilica.

4. Tax-Exempt status – came in AD313 for clergy and 323 for churches with Constantine. Pagan priests had enjoyed this privilege prior to that.

5. Stained-Glass windows – were first introduced to the church between 1081-1151 AD.

6. Gothic Cathedrals – were built according to the philosophy of Plato in the 12th century.

7. Steeples – are rooted in ancient Babylonian and Egyptian architecture and were popularized in London around 1666.

8. Pulpits – came from the Greek “ambo” which was used to deliver monologues. They arrived in churches as early as AD 250.

9. Pews – evolved between 13-18th centuries in England. (Participants became spectators.)

10. Order of Worship – Evolved from Gregory’s Mass in the 6th century and revisions were made by Luther, Calvin, Methodists, etc. Early church meetings  were marked by spontaneity, freedom, every-member functioning, and open participation.

11. Centrality of the Sermon – Martin Luther in 1523.

12. Candles – were used in Roman ceremonial courts in the 4th century and made their way into the church at the same time.

13. Lord’s supper taken quarterly – was practiced first in the 16th century under Zwingly. He also introduced the communion table.

14. Congregation standing and sitting when clergy enters/exits – borrowed practice from Roman emperors in the 4th century – brought to church by John Calvin.

15. Somber attitudes – were practiced by John Calvin and Martin Bucer based upon the medieval view of piety.

16. Guilt/Condemnation for missing a Sunday – came with the 17th century New England Puritans.

17. Long Pastoral Prayer before the Sermon – 17th Century Puritans

18. Altar Calls – were instituted by 17th century Methodists and popularized by Charles Finney.

19. Church Bulletins (and written liturgy) – came to the church with Albert Blake Dick’s stencil duplicating machine in 1884.

20. Solo hymns, Door-to-door witnessing, and Evangelism Campaigns – were started with D.L. Moody (1837-1899)

21. Decision cards – were introduced by Absalom Earle and popularized by D.L. Moody.

22. Bowed heads, eyes closed, raise your hand to respond to the Gospel – was first done by Billy Graham in the 20th century.

23. Solo/Choral music during the Offering – 20th century Pentecostals.

24. Sermons – were borrowed from the Greek sophists. John Chrysostom and Augustine popularized the Greco-Roman homily and made it a central part of Christian churches.

25. Long sermons, notes, sermon outlines – 17th century Puritans

26. Pastors (as an office) – did not exist until Ignatius of Antioch in the early 2nd century. They didn’t prevail in most churches until the 3rd century.

27. The Clergy/Laity split – didn’t occur until 100AD with the writing of Clement of Rome. By the 3rd century, Christian leaders were universally called clergy. Prior to this, clergy and laity were equal in standing/reputation/etc.

28. Ordination – evolved between the 2nd and 4th centuries and was based upon the Roman custom of appointing men to civil office.

29. The title “Pastor” – wasn’t popular until the 18th century under the influence of Lutheran Pietists.

30. Wearing your “Sunday Best” – began in the late 18th century with the industrial revolution. The emerging middle class sought to be like their wealthy contemporaries.

31. Clergy attire – began in AD 330 and was based upon Roman officials garb.

32. The Clerical collar – was invented by Rev. Dr. Donald McLeod of Glasgow in 1865.

33. Choirs – were first introduced in the church in the 4th century as Christians copied the idea from Greek dramas and temples.

34. Boys choirs – were also borrowed from pagans in the 4th century.

35. Funeral processions and Orations – were borrowed from Greco-Roman paganism in the 3rd century.

36. Worship Team – was first used in Calvary Chapel in 1965 and was patterned after secular rock concerts.

37. Tithing – was not a widespread practice until the late 18th century. The tithe was taken from the 10 percent rent charge used in the Roman empire and then justified using the Old Testament.

38. Clergy salaries – were instituted by Constantine in the 4th century.

39. Collection plates – can be traced to the alms dishes of the 14th century. “Passing” the plate began in 1662.

40. Ushers – can be traced back to the 3rd century as a “church porter,” but truly began with Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603)

41. Infant Baptism – was brought into the Christian faith in the late 2nd century due to the superstitious beliefs of teh Greco-Roman culture. By the 5th century, it replaced adult baptism.

42. Sprinkling replaced Immersion – began in the late Middle Ages in Western churches.

43. The “Sinner’s Prayer” – was first used by D.L. Moody and popularized by Billy Graham’s Peace with God tract and Campus Crusade’s Four Spiritual Laws.

44. The term “Personal Savior” – spawned in the mid-1800s by the Frontier-Revivalist influence and was popularized by Charles Fuller (1887-1968).

45. Lord’s Supper – was condensed from a full meal to just bread and a cup in the late 2nd century as a result of pagan ritual influences.

46. Sunday School – was created by Robert Raikes from Britain in 1780 in order to educate poor street children. They were not given religious instruction, but a basic education.

47. Youth Pastors – developed in urban churches in 1930s-40s as a result of seeking to meet the needs of a new sociological class called “teenagers.”

 


 

Now, that’s a lot to take in. Viola and Barna (the authors) are very intentional about saying that just because these traditions are not rooted in Scripture, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t practice them. For me at least, they do however, raise the question, “What are the practices which are necessary in our culture?” And what would a church look like if it focused only on those things deemed necessary? If a church wants to focus on “teaching/learning” as the Bible describes, what is the best way to do so? In years past, Sunday School was the answer, but what about today? What avenue is best in our culture?

What about a building? Could a church function and be healthy without a building? The answer is absolutely “Yes!” It did quite well without a building for it’s first 300 years. But in our culture, a building is just assumed. Could a church actually be more healthy without a building? What provisions would need to be made? What else would need to happen to function without a building?

Anyway, as you can see, these ideas and their implications are huge. I haven’t gotten it all processed out, and probably won’t for a while. I just wanted to share some of it here and see if you guys have other ideas or thoughts. Please respond. I’d love to know what everybody else thinks.

Worship Leading

GuitareditI have served as the worship leader for our contemporary service for the past 3 years and did it in my previous church for about 8 years. Anyway, they just officially hired someone for that position to start this coming week. I must admit that I’m excited! It’s been way too long since I was able to sit in church with my wife. I can hardly remember the last time we were able to worship together in a contemporary service.

Some people are concerned that I’ll miss it, but I really don’t see that as a possibility. It’s just music. I truly believe the best worship leaders are “lead worshippers.” They are worshippers first and secondly they are leaders. Over the years, I have discovered that this amazing contemporary music movement which has so dramatically changed the church, is not really the way that I connect with God. When the whole movement began, I loved it. I could lose myself in the songs and truly be connected to God, but now I seem to connect to Him in much more private ways when I’m studying alone or listening to sermons in my car. Anyway, I think I’ve become more of a worship leader over the years and less of a lead worshipper. I’m glad to hand the baton over to someone who truly feels called to this ministry.

Cruising through School

Leaving_progresso No, I’m not trying to say that school is a breeze. It’s just that Miranda and I went on a cruise last week and I missed out on class. We had an incredible time.

I guess when it comes to school, in some ways I could say I’ve been “cruising” through. It’s not been easy sailing, but I guess it’s just the right time in my life for me to be in school. I’m really enjoying all that I’ve been learning and it seems like the time is going rather quickly. Up to this point, I’ve completed three classes and received “A”s on at least the first two. (I feel like I’ll get an “A” on the other one too) It’s been a whole lot of work and certainly requires more time than I ever imagined, but it’s just been really interesting – it’s not a painful process for me like school was for me years ago.

I had to read some while I was on my cruise and ended up even doing some homework while I was there. I had made plans to not take any homework with me, and really could have gotten away with not doing any of it, but I discovered that I wanted to do it. Now that’s really weird – “wanting” to do homework. What’s wrong with me??

We got to do lots of stuff on the trip – swam in a cenote (underground river) and saw Chichen Itza (Mayan Ruins) not to mention all the great food and shows on the ship. I even laid on the ruins of a table where the Mayan’s practiced human sacrifice. Living_sacrifice_01_on_sacrificial_table I call it my “living sacrifice” pic. The more I’ve thought about it since then, the more guilty I feel for doing it. I certainly didn’t want to be disrespectful to the people, but I guess it didn’t really occur to me in the moment ’cause there were lots of people running around back and forth over the spot where I was. For all I know, maybe that isn’t even the real spot, but it was the best we could figure.

We also got to know the people who we ate dinner with on the ship each night. I don’t think any of them were really church goers. One couple certainly was not and the other two couples talked about how they spent most of their weekends on Texas lakes with their boats. Anyway, Miranda and I were wondering what would a church look like that they would consider attending? Would they come if the services were on Wednesday night or sometime other than Sunday morning? There’s nothing Scriptural that says we as NT Christians are bound to the Sabbath, or even that Sunday is the new Sabbath. Our culture has adopted that from the early Christians who enjoyed celebrating on Sunday because it was the day of the resurrection. Would there be anything wrong with Wednesday being the day of worship? Some might say that Wednesday doesn’t work ’cause it’s a “work day,” but wasn’t Sunday a “work day” for the first Christians? Besides, if worship is a lifestyle and not an event, isn’t every day supposed to be a “day of worship?” Anyway, these are just some of our thoughts. . . . .what do you guys think?

Guitars

06-07-21Here are some pics of the guitars I play. Most of you aren’t interested, but I’m gonna tell you anyway. God has provided me with these fine instruments – I could never have afforded them on my own. Someone from the church actually came up to me and handed the $$ for my acoustic when we were going to start a new worship service and said, “I know you’ve had your eye on a guitar and that you can’t afford it, now, go and get it.” It’s amazing to me that when you use your gifts to serve the Lord, He takes care of things for you and even gives you the “desires of your heart.”

The acoustic is a Taylor 510ce and my electric is a Brian Moore custom “iGuitar.” The Taylor has a piezo pickup and a mic mixer (for a more natural sound) in the electronics. The Brian Moore has 3 outputs – a regular magnetic pickup (electric sound), a piezo pickup (acoustic sound), and a 13-pin midi output. (for some really funky sounds) You can also mix the sounds together.

Awesome Quote

What you are is God’s gift to you. What you become is your gift to God.

I’m not sure where this even comes from, but it’s pretty cool stuff huh? God has given us everything – our spiritual gifts, our families, our money, even life itself. What we do with those things is how we can honor Him and give back to Him.