Friday, April 16, 2010

Our New House

This is the truck we used in February to move from our little apartment in our little yard to move to our beautiful home in what seems almost like the country but is really just the suburbs.

Redbuds are the most beautiful trees!
Hopefully we can prune it next year so it's even prettier!

Our house :-)

We are going to have apples!
Well, maybe. This tree needs pruning, too.

A dogwood tree

Violets!!! They're everywhere.

Azalea bushes

And petunias for Dad

We've also planted pansies, strawberries, tomatoes, pickling cucumbers, celery, and peppers. There is a rosebush. And Mom bought some blueberry and raspberry bushes to plant soon. A few years and we'll have quite the fruit selection here! It looks gorgeous and smells better. I'm lovin' it.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Yet Another Post About Physical Expression in Worship

Another example of culture playing a part in interpretations: lifted hands. Normally when we see this in church, it looks like the person is raising his hand in class. It lasts between two seconds and twenty. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with this, but there is no Biblical example of it. In the Bible, when a person lifts his hands to God, he does just that – he lifts his hands to God. Not one hand, but two. And not as a statement of agreement of commitment or worshipful feeling. It’s not about the person at all. It’s to God!
In Nehemiah, the people worship God with their heads bowed, their faces to the ground, their hands lifted, and their lips repeating “Amen” as Ezra prays.

In the Psalms, David passionately cries unto God with His hands lifted toward His “holy oracle”. He longs for God and overflows with praise as he lifts up his hands in God’s name. He lifts up his hands to God’s commands, perhaps written on the walls and doorposts of his house (Deuteronomy 6)? God’s servants are commanded to lift up their hands and bless the Lord in His sanctuary. David again passionately cries unto God and asks that God view his prayer and lifted hands as incense or the evening sacrifice.
In Lamentations, Jeremiah tells Israel to get up and passionately cry out to God with lifted hands for the lives of their young children. Later he reminds the people of God’s goodness and advises them to consider their ways, return to God, and lift up their hearts with their hands to Him.
And in 1 Timothy, the men of the church are to pray everywhere. When they do, they are to lift up their hands, first making sure that the hands they lift are holy, without wrath and doubting.
But by far the most common physical expressions of worship in the Bible involve kneeling, bowing, falling upon your knees, or falling on your face. Does this indicate something about the reverence we ought to feel as we worship? Bigger question: as these are some of the more common Biblical expressions, when is the last time you saw someone (or you yourself) lay flat on your face before God? Or your whole church? When is the last time you all knelt together? Or bowed with your faces to the ground?
Here’s another interesting tidbit I found: It’s okay to pray with your eyes open, looking up.
It’s been a joy to study this. There is tremendous freedom in Christ. Not license to do what we want; but liberty to worship Him in a wide variety of ways, with a plethora of postures. So don’t be afraid of what other people in your church will think. Still be respectful, of course. But our authority is Scripture. If people did it in the Bible, we can do it now. “And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts” (Psalm 119:45).

Thursday, April 8, 2010

More About Physical Expression in Worship

Okay, I’m back. I learned a few things I hadn’t expected. For example, I didn’t expect to read about people sitting before God!
Here are a few principles that stand out. First, “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). If God really expects us to do this, then of course any posture is acceptable; because He wants us to pray all the time – while we’re doing everything else.
This puts some of the above posture in context. For instance, lying down on a pew in a chapel would probably look like sleeping and distract a lot of people. But praying in your bed at night when you can’t sleep would be perfectly natural and right.
Another consideration is culture. That might sound strange, as if I were contradicting the whole premise of this book. I believe in taking God’s Word literally and in following it even if it seems outdated or even unacceptable in our culture. I don’t think there is any verse which is irrelevant to us for any reason, including the 2000-year/ Hebrew-to-American gap.
On the other hand, it would be unrealistic to try to understand what God really meant when He said certain things without considering the culture of the people to whom He was directly speaking.
Take the word “dance,” for example. We are commanded to praise God with dancing. When is the last time you’ve done that? I must confess I never have. But what does it look like to praise God with dancing (beyond the 1 Thessalonians 5:17 principle)? It would be easy to insert our modern concept of “dancing” into the ancient word. But what would the original readers have pictured? Waltzing? Square dancing? Hip-shaking? Break dancing? I doubt it.
The Strong’s Concordance gives the following words for dance:
· 2287 chagag – to move in a circle, i.e. to march in a sacred procession, to observe a festival; by implication to be giddy: celebrate, dance, a (solemn) feast (holiday), reel to and for
· 2342 chuwl or chiyl – to twist or whirl (in a circular or spiral manner), i.e. to dance
· 3769 karar – to dance (i.e. whirl)
· 4234 machowl – from 2342; a (round) dance
· 4246 mechowlah – feminine of 4234; a dance: company, dances (-ing)
· 7540 raqad – to stamp, i.e. to spring about (wildly or for joy): dance, jump, leap, skip
· 3738 orcheomai – a row or ring; to dance (from the ranklike or regular motion)
· 5525 choros – a ring, i.e. round dance (“choir”)
Twist, whirl, circular, spiral, whirl, stamp, spring about wildly or for joy, jump, leap, skip, round, row, ring, ranklike, regular, company, move in a circle, march, giddy, reel to and fro, sing, round.
My Young’s Concordance offers these definitions: chorus, turn, twist, move round, skip, lift up the feet, move round, company.
Have you ever seen Jewish dancing? I had the opportunity to attend a friend’s bat mitzvah several years ago, and the dancing certainly resembled these words. It was beautiful. Several young girls, moving in a circle, twisting, twirling, jumping, skipping clapping their hands.
You know something else I’m reminded of? Little kids. Children love to dance; and very young children who have not been exposed to too much television dance very similarly very simply and very much like the above words.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Great Books I've Read This Year

I meant to review one of my favorite books for YLCF's March of Books ( But I just never got around to it. Instead, I'll share a little bit about several different books. :)
The Journey of Desire by John Eldredge - a very interesting look at desire stifled, desire "satisfied" in this life, and desire for Heaven allowed to guide us in our journey through this life. Some fascinating ideas about Heaven. I'm not sure I agree with everything he said; but if not, it is certainly sound enough to be quite helpful.
Culture Shock by Margaret Jank - an autobiography about some missionaries to the Yanoamo tribe in Venezuela. A book about faith, revival, and the power of God.
First Person Singular - interviews with famous singles like Joni Eareckson Tada, Ann Kiemel, and Elisabeth Elliot Gren. Well, they were single at the time! :-)
Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper - outstanding encouragement to live passionately for Christ and His glory, to take risks, to give one's self, et cetera
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - a sad tale of a plain young orphan girl who grows up amid many misfortunes. It has a sweet ending.
Parenting in the Pew by Robbie Castleman - a fun exhortation to keep your kids with you and train them to worship along with you
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - a fun read. I'm not entirely sure what the point is. Perhaps the unselfish, loyal examples of Joe and Biddy?
For Such a Time as This by Lisa Ryan - a look at the book of Esther and some practical applications for girls today
The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne - a "haunted house" tale about generational sins and people who break from those chains. Perhaps wordy, but still interesting even in the more verbose sections. Excellent characterization.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett - a charming story about some spoiled, sickly children who grow sweet and healthy while restoring an old garden
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas - which tells of a man who chose merciless revenge and lived to regret that decision
The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare - about a man who married a shrew and treated her like she treated everyone else until the suffering sweetened her into a gentle woman
Boy Meets Girl by Josh Harris - a story-filled explanation of courtship
Generation Esther by Lisa Ryan - the sequel to For Such a Time as This; stories of modern "Esthers"
The Pilgrim's Regress by C. S. Lewis - a story about a young man who leaves legalism and travels through a world of intellectual errors in search of desire and finally believes the Man who saves his life
Persuasion by Jane Austen - a man comes back into the life of the woman who broke off her engagement to him at her father's persuasion eight years before; not her best work, at least in my opinion, but still worth reading
Stormie by Stormie Omartian - an autobiography illustrating the healing power of God
The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis - showing the good and bad sides of affection, friendship, and eros and the excellencies of charity. Also some interesting thoughts about "need-love," "gift-love," and "appreciation."
Parrot's Perch by Barry Holohan - My dad has met Mr. Holohan, and I've met George Theis. This is Mr. Holohan's autobiography, telling about his years running casinos, dealing drugs, sitting in prisons, enduring intense torture, and then coming to Christ and becoming a missionary.
I'm currently reading When God Writes Your Life Story by Eric and Leslie Ludy and Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Physical Expression in Worship

Many views have been proclaimed on this subject. "Do whatever you feel led." "Do whatever comes naturally" or "whatever feels right." "Clapping is wrong." "Lifting your hands is worldly." "Everybody, lift your hands in prayer to God." "Dance before Him." "Dancing is of the devil." It’s easy to get lost in the jungle. But what does the Bible say? I’m not entirely sure myself, so excuse me while I open my concordance and peruse God’s Word.
  • Daniel 4:34
    Psalm 121:1; 123:1; John 11:41; 17:1
    “lifted up mine eyes unto Heaven”
  • Leviticus 9:22
    Luke 24:50
    “extending [lifting up] hand toward people in a prayer of blessing”
  • Psalm 28:2
    Nehemiah 8:6; Psalm 63:4; 119:481; 134:2; 141:2; Lamentations 2:19; 3:41; 1 Timothy 2:8
    “lift up my hands toward Thy holy oracle”
  • Ezra 9:6
    Luke 18:13
    “I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to Thee”
  • 1 Kings 8:54
    Ezra 9:5; Daniel 6:10
    “kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to Heaven”
  • 1 Kings 18:42
    “put his face between his knees”
  • Luke 5:8
    “fell down at Jesus’ knees”
  • Romans 14: 11
    Ephesians 3:14; Philippians 2:10
    “every knee shall bow to Me”
  • Psalm 95:6
    God’s people
    “Let us worship and bow down . . . and kneel”
  • Luke 22:41
    Matthew 17:14; Mark 1:40; 10:17; Acts 7:60; 9:40; 20:36; 21:5
    “kneeled down and prayed”
  • Deuteronomy 29:10
    Genesis 18:22; Leviticus 9:5; Deuteronomy 10:8; 1 Kings 8:22; 2 Chronicles 20:13, 19; et cetera
    “stand this day . . . before the Lord”
  • Psalm 149:3
    Exodus 15:20-21; 2 Samuel 6:14; Psalm 150:4
    “praise His name in the dance”
  • Ezra 9: 5
    “fell upon my knees”
  • Genesis 17:3
    Leviticus 9:24; Numbers 22:31; Deuteronomy 9:18; Joshua 5:14; Judges 13:20; Samuel 5:3-4; Job 1:20; Psalm 72:11; Ezekiel 11:13; Mark 3:11; 5:33; 7:25; Luke 8:28,41; 17:16; John 11:32; 18:6; 1 Corinthians 14:25; Revelation 1:17; 4:10; 5:8,14; 7:11; 11:16; 19:4
    “fell on his face”
  • Psalm 22:29
    All who die
    Psalm 72:9; Micah 6:6
    “bow before Him”
  • Genesis 24:26
    Abraham’s servant
    Exodus 4:31; 12:27; Numbers 22:31; 1 Chronicles 29:20; 2 Chronicles 29:30
    “bowed down his head, and worshipped the Lord”
  • 2 Chronicles 7:3
    God’s people
    2 Chronicles 20:18; 29:29
    “bowed themselves with their faces to the ground”
  • Exodus 34:8
    Nehemiah 8:16
    “bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped”
  • Judges 20:26
    1 Chronicles 17:16
    “sat there before the Lord”
  • Psalms 120-134 – Songs of Ascence – praise songs the children of Israel sung while walking up the hill to Jerusalem
  • 2 Samuel 12:16
    Psalm 1:2; 17:3; 22:2; 42:8; 77:6; 88:1; 92:2; 119:55; 134:1; Luke 2:37; 18:7; Acts 26:7; 1 Thessalonians 3:10; 1 Timothy 5:5; 2 Timothy 1:3
    Lying down or at night
  • Noises
    Ø Weeping
    Ø Shouting
    Ø Rejoicing
    Ø Crying out
    Ø Singing
    Ø Silence
    Ø Musical instruments

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Challenging Femininity #7 and Other New Stuff

My favorite webzine!

One of my favorite websites with a brand-new format!

My brand-new, very favorite hymnal! It's the new worship hymnal from Lifeway, with all the best hymns and all the best choruses from the last thirty years. :-)