The first words of Holy Scripture describe the story’s opening drama of creation, creation by God speaking forth light into the dark abyss. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…and darkness was over the face of the deep…And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light’” (Gen 1:1, 3). Bruce Waltke recognizes the Bible’s theme here and expresses it as “God irrupting into chaos to establish his rule over everything.” The creation account emphasizes the God who speaks light into darkness and breaks the silence with the power of his voice.
Most books fall pretty neatly into some category: fiction, theology, history, devotional, leadership, etc. The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection by Robert Farrar Capon does not. It’s a cookbook, of sorts. It’s a theology and apologetics and philosophy book, of sorts. It’s a personal memoir and Christian living book, with a good bit of humor sprinkled in. The short quote on the bottom-front of the book by Craig Claiborne of The New York Times is fitting: “One of the funniest, wisest, and most unorthodox cookbooks ever written.”
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Col. 3:16)
(In yesterday’s post I shared stories of how the gathered church singing together encouraged me when I needed it most. Today’s part 2 provides more of the biblical basis for how important singing with and to one another is every week.)
In your mind, go back to a recent Sunday morning where you gathered with God’s people in your local church. One thing you did (I hope) was sing. When you sing, who do you sing to? In that scenario, do you sing to God, to other people, or to your own heart? How do you process congregational singing? You could ask, who do you sing for? Are you singing to glorify God, to rehearse truth to yourself or give voice to your beliefs, or do you sing to build up others?
(This is a repost of a blog published a few years ago. I was reminded of it while reading about the role of singing to one another from Colossians 3:16.)
I’ll state it here in the beginning. I’m more of a preaching guy than a music or singing guy. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy music or I don’t sing, outside and inside the church, but I think the preaching of the Word normally influences my personal growth more than congregational worship. Both are vital and neither is dispensable. But as a matter of preference, I personally learn more from hearing the Word taught than singing it. I hope that adds to what I’m about to tell you and doesn’t get you singers and musicians too up in arms right away.
“[Christmas] means not just hope for the world, despite all its unending problems, but hope for you and me, despite all our unending failings.” Tim Keller
“God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” C.S.Lewis
“Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.” Dr. Seuss
Have you ever gone on vacation intending to use that time to grow spiritually only to head home afterwards realizing you neglected your spiritual walk? Vacation is a time I’d like to spend more time in the Word but the opposite usually happens. My normal rhythms are interrupted. The pace is fast and our schedule is full. There’s so much to see and do. Even during vacation it’s easy for your time alone with the Lord to get squeezed out. While the week ends up being a lot of fun, you arrive home feeling spiritually weak because you’ve neglected the most important thing.
(The following is a Communion meditation shared in my local church as we look forward to the Thanksgiving holiday.)
The Lord’s Supper is also called Communion or even the Eucharist. That latter term, Eucharist, comes from the greek word eucharisteo, which means “to give thanks.” In Luke 22, when Jesus instituted this meal, breaking the bread and drinking the cup, it says he did so by “giving thanks.” Since we’re less than two weeks away from what might be my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, I thought it might help us approach Communion today by considering why it’s a meal about giving thanks.
“If the gospel is not the ABC’s of the Christian life but the A to Z, we can expect that the gospel is for all of life, not just the moment of conversion. The gospel’s saving work is deep work. It is deep tissue massage, spiritual reparative therapy, and radical reconstructive surgery.” Jared Wilson in Gospel Deeps
My recent posts have highlighted the importance of renewing our mind. Our thinking is prone to get off track, believe lies, filter things through our faulty grid, and be swayed by competing voices. Unless we are active in the fight by taking every thought captive and renewing our mind with biblical truth, we’re doomed. Of all the things we then talk to ourself about or set our minds on, none top the gospel in importance. The gospel sets us straight about who God is, who we are now in Christ, and how we can and should live in light of these realities.
In my last post, I shared some thoughts on how to renew our minds so we fight error with truth. While any of it could be done in some form of Christian community (small group, bible study, discipleship relationships, etc.), it might have felt more individualistic. The ninth point in that post highlighted just how important a community, or a group of Christians living life together, is for thinking biblically together.
“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?” Martyn Lloyd Jones
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” (Isaiah 26:3-4)
Growing in Christ includes putting off sinful behaviors and putting on Christ-like ones, but it begins with battling at the levels of the heart (desires) and mind (thinking). The two are inseparable (Matt. 15:18-19). The heart leads our head down certain ways of thinking, and our wrong thinking reinforces wrong desires.
“It is good to give thanks to the Lord.” (Psalm 92:1)
Thanksgiving: Doctrine before Drumsticks
In our day and age of more-more-more where “Thanksgiving” is the waiting season between Halloween and Christmas, gratitude often takes a back seat. It’s no surprise being thankful struggles to compete for attention with a holiday where I get to literally make a list of things I want that people will buy me.
It’s easy to blame “the world” around me, but I’ll admit that while I know God is the source of all things in my life, it doesn’t mean thanksgiving makes it into my day-to-day rhythms like it should. I tend to go through most days taking gifts for granted and unaware of ways God worked on my behalf. I’d prefer getting things over giving thanks. And when I don’t get what I want–whether on Christmas or any other day–I complain and feel gipped.