O Church Arise

121Church sang this amazing song yesterday.

“O Church, Arise”
Words and Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2005 Thankyou Music

O church, arise and put your armor on;
Hear the call of Christ our captain;
For now the weak can say that they are strong
In the strength that God has given.
With shield of faith and belt of truth
We’ll stand against the devil’s lies;
An army bold whose battle cry is “Love!”
Reaching out to those in darkness.

Our call to war, to love the captive soul,
But to rage against the captor;
And with the sword that makes the wounded whole
We will fight with faith and valor.
When faced with trials on ev’ry side,
We know the outcome is secure,
And Christ will have the prize for which He died—
An inheritance of nations.

Come, see the cross where love and mercy meet,
As the Son of God is stricken;
Then see His foes lie crushed beneath His feet,
For the Conqueror has risen!
And as the stone is rolled away,
And Christ emerges from the grave,
This vict’ry march continues till the day
Ev’ry eye and heart shall see Him.

So Spirit, come, put strength in ev’ry stride,
Give grace for ev’ry hurdle,
That we may run with faith to win the prize
Of a servant good and faithful.
As saints of old still line the way,
Retelling triumphs of His grace,
We hear their calls and hunger for the day
When, with Christ, we stand in glory.
CCLI No:4611992.

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Digital Exhaustion

iphone_mockupsOur mobile electronic culture bombarded my thoughts yesterday as I sat at lunch with Diana and the girls. I watched a gentleman browse his personal digital assistant to the neglect of his children. I love wireless technology, but I am puzzled at the long term cultural effect it may have on us and the next generation. It is cool to be connected with endless information by something barely larger than the palm of your hand, but my heart sinks low as children are discarded by tech savvy dads who roam the internet and send bursts of text messages, while their children eat a meal. Our digital assistants capture our attention often to the detriment of our children.

Will our children remember the glare of a screen reflecting off our forehead or our conversations with their hearts at dinner time? My mind raced back twenty years before internet connection had become mainstream. WiFi was scarecly a thought and dad’s had nothing better to do then enjoy the meal with his children. Of course pre-WiFi, some fathers were reading the newspaper while their children ate lunch.

I am grateful to have noticed this young family at lunch. The father’s actions abruptly caught my attention and challenged me to consider how I spend lunch with my girls. I hope the joy of leading my girls will not be distracted by the TV in McDonald’s, nor the newspaper on the newstand,  nor my personal digital assistant. God’s design is to engage in my responsibilities as a father and husband rather than be diverted by the flare of gadgets. If I harness the gadgets to help assist my responsibility to guide the lives of my children fantastic. If I simply use them to escape my responsibility to care for the soul’s of my children then I need to separate from it.

Al Mohler offers an important article this week on “Children and the Need for Silence“.

Letters to a Diminished Church Part 6

letterstoadiminishedchurch Letters to a Diminished Church by Dorothy Sayers

Creed or Chaos? (Chapter 6)

“It is worse than useless for Christians to talk about the importance of Christian morality unless they are prepared to take  their stand upon the fundamentals of Christian theology. It is a lie to say that dogma does not matter; it matters
enormously. It is fatal to let people suppose that Christianity is only a mode of feeling; it is vitally necessary to insist that it is first and foremost a rational explanation of the universe. It is hopeless to offer Christianity as a vaguely idealistic aspiration of a simple and consoling kind; it is, on the contrary, a hard, tough, exacting, and complex doctrine, steeped in a drastic and uncompromising realism.” (49)

“The brutal fact is that in this Christian country not one person in a hundred has the faintest notion what the Church teaches about God or man or society or the person of Jesus Christ.” (49)

“Finally, there are the more-or-less instructed churchgoers, who know all the arguments about divorce and auricular confession and communion in two kinds, but are about as well equipped to do battle on fundamentals against a Marxian atheist or a Wellsian agnostic as a boy with a peashooter facing a fan-fire of machine guns. Theologically, this county is at present in a state of utter chaos,…,and rapidly degenerating into the flight from reason and the death of hope…there are signs of a very great eagerness, especially among the younger people, to find a creed to which they can give wholehearted adherence.” (50)

” ‘Take away theology and give us some nice religion’ has been a popular slogan for so long that we are likely to accept it, without inquiring whether religion without theology has any meaning. And however unpopular I may make myself, I shall and will affirm that the reason why the churches are discredited today is not that they are too bigoted about theology, but that they have run away from theology.” (51)

“…if we really want a Christian society, we must teach Christianity, and that it is absolutely impossible to teach Christianity without teaching Christian dogma…to put before you a list of half a dozen or so main doctrinal points that the world most especially needs to have drummed into its ears at this moment —doctrines forgotten or misinterpreted but which (if they are true as the Church maintains them to be) are cornerstones in that rational structure of human society that is the alternative to world chaos.” (51)

“But if Christian dogma is irrelevant to life, to what, in Heaven’s name, is it relevant?—since religious dogma is in fact nothing but a statement of doctrines concerning the nature of life and the universe. If Christian ministers really believe it is only an intellectual game for theologians and has no bearing upon human life, it is no wonder that their congregations are ignorant, bored, and bewildered.” (52)

“That you cannot have Christian principles without Christ is becoming increasingly clear because their validity as principles depends on Christ’s authority; and as we have seen, the totalitarian states, having ceased to believe in Christ’s authority, are logically quite justified in repudiating  Christian principles. If the average man is required to believe in Christ and accept His authority for Christian principles, it is surely relevant to inquire who or what Christ is, and why His authority should be accepted. But the question, ‘What think ye of Christ?’ lands the average man at once in the very knottiest kind of dogmatic riddle.” (53)

She has an absolute amazing ability with language.

“It is not true at all that dogma is hopelessly irrelevant to the life and thought of the average man.  What is true is that ministers of the Christian religion often assert that it is, present it for consideration as though it were, and, in fact, by their faulty exposition of it make it so. The central dogma of the Incarnation is that by which relevance stands or falls…It is, in the strictest sense, necessary to the salvation of relevance that a man should believe rightly the Incarnation of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. Unless he believes rightly, there is not the faintest reason why he should believe at all…If the average man is going to be interested in Christ at all, it is the dogma that will provide the interest.  The trouble is that, in nine cases out of ten, he has never been offered the dogma. What he has been offered is a set of technical theological terms that nobody has taken the trouble to translate into language relevant to ordinary life.” (54)

“Teacher and preachers never, I think, make it sufficiently clear that dogmas are not a set of arbitrary regulations invented a priori by a committee of theologians enjoying a bout of all-in dialectical wrestling. Most of them were hammered out under pressure of urgent practical necessity to provide an answer to heresy. And heresy is, as I have tried to show, largely the expression of opinion of the untutored average man, trying to grapple with the problems of the universe at the point where they begin to interfere with daily life and thought.” (57)

“I believe it to be a grave mistake to present Christianity as something charming and popular with no offense in it…We cannot blink at the fact that gentle Jesus, meek and mild, was so stiff in his opinions and so inflammatory in his language that he was thrown out of church, stone, hunted from place to place, and finally gibbeted as a firebrand and a public danger. Whatever his peace was, it was not the peace of an amiable indifference; and he said in so many word that what he brought with him was fire and sword.” (58)

“I shall say that if the Church is to make any impression on the modern mind she will have to preach Christ and the cross.” (60)

In regards to the doctrine of work…
“Nothing has so deeply discredited the Christian Church as her squalid submission to the economic theory of society…the fundamental question waiting to be dealt with, and that is, what men in a Christian society ought to think and feel about work…The fallacy is that work is not the expression of man’s creative engery in the service of society, but only something he does in order to obtain money and leisure. A very able surgeon put it to me like this: ‘What is happening,’ he said, ‘is that nobody works for the sake of getting the thing done. the result of the work is a by-product; the aim of the work is to make money to do something else. Doctors practice medicine not primarily to relieve suffering, but to make a living—the cure of the patient is something that happens on the way. Lawyers accept briefs not because they have a passion for justice, but because the law is the profession that enables them to live’…If man’s fulfillment of his nature is to be found in the full epxression of his divine creativeness, then we urgently need a Christian doctrine of work, which shall provide, not only for proper conditions of employment, but also that the work shall be such as a man may do with his whole heart, and that he shall do it for the very work’s sake.” (69,70)