Saturday, February 26, 2011

What's the Big Deal About Angry Birds?

A couple of months ago I got my first Smartphone. I am still learning about all the cool ways it can be used. Shortly after receiving it, I started downloading some apps. Many people told me I should get Angry Birds (a top-ranked game). After playing it a few times, I must admit that I just don’t understand the appeal. What am I missing?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My Cyber-Church Experience

On Sunday morning I was having some health problems, so I stayed home while a co-worker preached for me. I was able to experience a variety of television preachers. I was a channel surfing church-hopper. I listened to John Hagee for awhile. I think he really goes off the deep end with his eschatological views, but this week he was preaching from a series on the 10 Commandments. His old school style is fun to watch. I did catch a little of some local preachers. Also, I listened to Andy Stanley who was filling the pulpit for his Dad. He preached the same message that I had heard from Catalyst 2010.

I remembered that Craig Groeschel does an online service in addition to the multi-site ministry of I’ve always wondered about the logistics of it, so I decided to check it out. It really was a fascinating experience. There were pre-recorded into clips and some instructions about the offering. It was all very user-friendly, including a streaming chat/conversation window for online viewers. Somehow Groeschel is able to project warmth and a connectedness with the long-distance audiences. I don’t think I would want this to be my only church experience (after all, the church is supposed to be a community, and I'm confident that it needs to be more than a cyber-community), but it wasn’t nearly as weird as I has anticipated.

Somewhat related, I would love to hear stories about Restoration Movement churches leveraging technology to spread the gospel. On the rare occasion that I have seen a Church of Christ preacher on television, without fail he is one of the most boring speakers I have ever heard. Surely we can do better than that?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Double Vision

For the first time in 24 years of ministry, I couldn't answer the call to preach. I awakened at 5am and noticed that things seemed blurrier than usual.  I put my glasses on and turned on the light and realized I was seeing double. Really weird. After I realized it wasn't going away, I woke Tracy up and we tried to figure out what to do. The symptoms began to dissipate as the morning progressed.

I was examined this afternoon at Parkview First Care. The Doctor said that the episode may have been caused by high blood pressure. He has ordered blood work and an MRI this week (primarily to rule out some things).

Many thanks to my Cedar Creek Church family. It was very encouraging to know that my brothers and sisters were lifting me before the Lord this morning. Also, thanks to the great staff at Cedar Creek for taking care of things during the worship services, especially Greg Krafft who preached with just a couple of hours notice.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Advice for Worship Leaders

Recently I read an article about worship, "Seven Things I've Always Wanted to Say to Worship Leaders."  I don't agree with everything he said, but he think he made some really good points. What do you think?

1. Give us something to shout about! In most countries I visit, worship is an exhilarating workout. In poor countries where people struggle from hand to mouth each week, praise is so energetic that the congregation quickly moves into the aisles to dance. Yet here in the United States our worship is often stiff and way too sophisticated. What we lack in genuine zeal we substitute with technology, orchestration and hype. It’s a pitiful tradeoff.

Worship leaders must stoke the fires of spiritual passion. Don’t let the people’s hearts remain cold or stale. Exhort them to go higher. Say like the psalmist, “Praise the Lord! …Let the sons of Zion rejoice in their king. Let them praise His name with dancing. …Let the godly ones exult in glory. …Let the high praises of God be in their mouth” (Ps. 149:1-3,5,6) NASB.

2. Please give us content. Most of us packed away our hymnals 30 years ago and discovered the liberty of free-style choruses. Yet I get tired of singing the same phrase over and over—especially if that phrase has questionable theology. And we are cheating people if half of a song consists of lines like “Ooh, Ooh, Ooh!” or “Whoa, whoa, whoa!”

There’s a reason “Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross” is a classic. Its words inspire deep worship in a way that simpler songs can’t. The best solution is to mix up the playlist with both new and old songs—as well as old songs with new arrangements. If we only sing today’s trendy Top 40 we will forget where we came from.

3. Spare us the concert. True worship leaders lead rather than perform. We want you to play skillfully, but we don’t want the focus to be on you. Point us to Jesus!

Some worship leaders shift into extended periods of spontaneous worship. That’s great until you look around and realize that the congregation is sitting down while the worship leader has his eyes closed—oblivious to the fact that most people got lost 10 minutes ago. That’s not corporate worship. That’s a stage show.

4. Don’t run a song into the ground. Maybe this is just a pet peeve of mine: When a worship leader announces, “Let’s sing it one more time!” and then proceeds to sing a chorus again and again and again and again (and again and again), this is a form of lying. This happens especially with certain choruses that are like broken records—they never resolve.

If a song is so repetitive that it’s annoying, or if you can’t figure out when to stop it, just retire it. No one will ask why you don’t sing it anymore.

5. Please don’t burst my eardrums. I have a high tolerance for noise and I love rhythm. But I have been in churches where the music was so loud that my head rattled for the rest of the day. God can open deaf ears, but I don’t think we should manufacture the deafness. Have mercy on us. God doesn’t want us to drown out the sound of the people’s voices with bass guitars and subwoofers.

6. Show us the lyrics. Memo to the technical crew: We don’t have hymnals, and we don’t know the words by heart. Please don’t wait until we have sung the second verse of the song to put those words on the screen. (It would also be a good idea to have someone proofread the song lyrics. I was in a church where we were supposed to sing “Praise Him for His mighty acts,” but the Power Point slide said, “Praise Him for His mighty axe.”)

7. Honor the Word. There is nothing ruder than a worship leader who walks off the stage after the last chorus and then disappears to a side room to eat donuts. When the praise team vanishes from the church and never comes back, it sends a message to the congregation that these people don’t need to listen to the sermon. Not! Worship does not end with the last song; the last song sets the stage for the next act of worship.

I’m not a worship leader, and you wouldn’t want to hear me on a keyboard. But I believe we would honor God if we applied these principles to our praise.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

For Restoration Herald Readers

Welcome to my blog. You are here because of Tony Sullivan's gracious recommendation. You can easily access the post he referenced by clicking HERE.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

New Sermon Series Begins Tomorrow

DNA is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms. DNA is often compared to a set of blueprints, like a recipe or a code. The language used by DNA is called the genetic code, which lets organisms read the information in the genes. Similarly, every church has its own kind of DNA (vision, mission, and values). During the month of February, we will examine the DNA of Cedar Creek. What are we made of? And what are we made for? What has God called us to do in our community and in our world? We will study God’s Word and listen to the voice of our Lord Jesus as we strive to become all that He has called us to be.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Blizzard 2011

We survived the big storm. Got 7 or 8 inches of snow, with a lot of drifting. But the wind died down last night. It was quite beautiful this morning. I got to use my snowblower (a garage sale purchase) for the first time. It worked like a champ. We are enjoying a family day at home while the city digs out.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Snowpocalypse is coming, snowpocalypse is coming!

Looks like the Weatherman might be correct after all. We are under a Blizzard Warning until tomorrow night. We could get up to 18 inches of snow. Wow! This might be the most snow I have seen since I was a teenager. I remember the blizzards of '78 and '79 in Southwestern Michigan. Our road wasn't plowed for three days. But we had a great time being together as a family. I'm going to go home and light and fire in the fireplace. And watch the powerful handiwork of God.