Young Oceans: “Come Holy One”

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Worship: Introduction; Genesis 1

prostrationIntroduction

I’m in the midst of two series, one on 1 Corinthians and one on the Sermon on the Mount, but I need a break. And what better break could there be than a study on the theology of worship?

At one point, I thought I might put together some thoughts on instrumental music, but it dawned on me that there’s a far bigger need for a theology of worship. I mean, we in the Churches of Christ are just all over the board when it comes to worship theology. We define ourselves in terms of instrumental music — either pro or con — as though Christianity were all about having the right position on instrumental music.

As a result of our obsession with a cappella singing as, quite literally, our identity, we rarely take the trouble to actually consider the larger picture. We know far more about the definition of psallo than what worship really means. Continue reading

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Young Oceans: “I Must Find You”

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Bruce Springsteen: “Jacob’s Ladder”

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SOTM: Matthew 6:22-23 (The eye is the lamp of the body)

SOTMThe next couple of verses routinely show in lists of difficult passages.

(Mat 6:22-23 ESV) “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”

And to Western eyes, this a truly obscure text. But Jesus is using an idiom familiar to Hebrew speakers —

The expressions “good eye” and “bad eye” are common Hebrew idioms for “generous” and “miserly.” Greek has no such idioms, and in Greek this statement of Jesus is meaningless, just as it is in English.

David Bivin & Roy Blizzard Jr., Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus: New Insights From a Hebrew Perspective (Kindle Locations 153-154). Continue reading

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Bruce Springsteen: “How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?”

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SOTM: Matthew 6:19-21 (Treasures in heaven)

ingodwetrust

(Mat 6:19-21 ESV) “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,  20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

I’ve often wondered what that really means? Will there be degrees of reward? And what would that mean?

I mean, is it a bigger room? Higher quality gold on the street? Sitting closer to God at the great banquet table? Better cuts of meat?

Well, I don’t know. But I think the scriptures give us a few hints that we should ponder a bit. Continue reading

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SOTM: Matthew 6:9-13 (The Lord’s Prayer: Part 3)

So what would happen if adults acted out Jesus’ Parable of the Unmerciful Servant as told by children?

Thanks to reader Orion.

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Zach Winters: “These Are the Days”

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SOTM: Matthew 6:9-13 (The Lord’s Prayer, Part 2)

SOTM

(Mat 6:12 ESV)  12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Another tough one. “Debts” is a Jewish euphemism for sins. And Jesus explicitly makes our forgiveness conditional on our forgiving others. In fact, in case we’re too slow to get his point, he explains it where we can’t misunderstand it —

(Mat 6:14-15 ESV) 14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,  15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. 

“Trespasses” is, again, a euphemism for sins. To Jesus’s listeners, “as we have forgiven our debtors” would sound very much like the command to lend to the poor and to freely forgive the debt. The generosity that is commanded of the Jews toward the poor is extended by Jesus to those in need of our forgiveness. (The “poor in spirit”?)

It’s easy to think of several other teachings by Jesus making the same point. Why speak in such strident, demanding terms? Well, he was speaking to an honor/shame culture in which easy forgiveness was seen as weak, even shameful. Far better to hold a grudge for generations! Continue reading

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