He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" - Romans 8:32

Sunday, September 18, 2011 

Psalm 112

as shared with me & prayed over me by my wife this week:

Psalm 112
The Righteous Will Never Be Moved
1Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in his commandments!
2His offspring will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.
3 Wealth and riches are in his house,
and his righteousness endures forever.
4Light dawns in the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious, merciful, and righteous.
5It is well with the man who deals generously and lends;
who conducts his affairs with justice.
6For the righteous will never be moved;
he will be remembered forever.
7He is not afraid of bad news;
his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.
8His heart is steady; he will not be afraid,
until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.
9He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever;
his horn is exalted in honor.
10The wicked man sees it and is angry;
he gnashes his teeth and melts away;
the desire of the wicked will perish!

Monday, September 12, 2011 

Music Lyric Monday

Sadly enough, I have made it nearly three full years here without ever hearing this song until tonight when a new friend sent it my way. The writer of the song (the lead singer Kieth Kane) clearly has lived in Japan - he put to expression things that I can't quite verbalize about being here. However, I want to be clear that I do indeed love living in Japan. I sometimes hate it, but mostly love it. But it will make you lonely & bare in a way you'll never know.

Since I already have my "American beauty" here with me, for fun I'd like to pretend that it's a solid church where we'll love & serve for a long time in the states...makes it fit more personally! Without further ado:

JAPAN: by Vertical Horizon

I saw a young man by a telephone
He was sitting alone in the rain
I said, "Hey, young man what you doing here?"
He said, "Sir, I'm going insane"

See I love an American beauty
But nobody here understands
So he looked to the sky with resentment in his eyes
And said, "Lord, why am I in Japan?"
Lord why am I in Japan?

He told me a story about yesterday
How he walked in the search of a friend
But nobody came to his rescue
So he came to his bitter end

He pulled me close and said
"They all stopped and stared
As I walked down the street alone
And nobody knew my name
Nobody knew my name"

I said, "Young man I know where you're going
And young man I know where you've been
But I've been in this land for a lifetime, it seems,
And I'm never to come back again
No, I'm never to come back again

So I turned and I gave him my blessing
And I left him alone in the rain
But I had to just stop and laugh at myself
Still nobody knows my name
Nobody knows my name

お名前はケインです(my name is Kane)
日本語できます。(I can speak Japanese - lit. I can do Japanese)
慶應義塾大学ケインです, 伴します(I am attending Keio University, nice to meet you - lit. Keio University's Kane, pleased to meet you)
どーもどーもどーも。(thank you, thank you, thank you)
ままなく一午前電車見えます。(I'm now looking out a from a train at 1am - [he goes really fast here, I may be way off...in fact, you can't trust my entire translation!])
日本買いませんでした。(I never bought into Japan - lit. I did not buy Japan)
アメリカ, アメリカが大好きです(America, I love America - lit. America, America I like a lot - Japanese rarely say love "愛する" [pronounced aisuru - to love or "愛" - ai - love], not even to each other & so they find it extremely odd how we say "I love pizza" or "I love America," so the gist of "大好き" [pronounced daisuki] is like how we use "love" even though it actually means "like a lot."


Friday, September 02, 2011 

Are Multi-Site Churches a Good Idea?

Technology has an uncanny ability not only to solve sundry problems, but to raise meta-level questions about how we do things. Thirty years ago it would have been prohibitively expensive to channel video of a man preaching from one place to another, and so was on no one’s radar. A church could only accommodate growth by building bigger, and/or multiplying services. Today, however, we can grow in a more modular fashion. With relatively inexpensive video equipment we can squeeze in 200 more in the fellowship hall, and later on, another 500 on the other side of town.

Some churches have nuanced the strategy still further by creating different experiences at different sites, with a shared sermon among them. In one site the music and mood is blue like jazz. Everyone drinks fancy coffee while an earnest fellow in skinny jeans leads the service. At another site they offer Mountain Dew and Krispy Kremes, complete with southern gospel singing. When the pastor arrives, however, everyone receives the same sermon.

This is not only not a good idea, it is a profoundly bad idea. It is a mound of bad ideas built on a foundation of bad presuppositions. You can tell, because it is a profoundly American idea. Here’s a brief and partial list of the ways this is bad:

1. It cultivates and encourages the cult of personality. Any preacher who thinks the kingdom is dependent on as many people as possible hearing HIM preach is likely not a good pastor. Any Christian who thinks his spiritual growth is dependent upon hearing HIM preach has not been blessed with good preaching.

2. It cultivates and encourages a form of preaching that is anything but pastoral. The preacher is, in this context, on stage. The recipients of the preaching can’t even have eye contact with the preacher. Instead they receive the entertainment of the sermon like watching a movie, or receive the content of the sermon like a lecture. What they don’t receive is shepherding.

3. It cultivates and encourages a broader failure to watch out for the souls entrusted to the shepherds (Hebrews 13:17). The one preaching cannot pastor thousands of souls scattered all over town, or worse, all over the country. Preaching then is further separated from the shepherding of the sheep.

4. It cultivates and encourages a consumerist mentality among the sheep. A day may be coming where the local multiplex will offer us a choice of listening to this blockbuster big name preach, or down the hall that indie up and comer, or even, further down the hall, that classic dead guy digitally remastered. Already in many towns you can choose to listen to this guy from that multi-site church or some other guy from another one. And just like at the movies, when the preaching ends we file out, having merely shared space, but no love, with others in the room.

5. It cultivates and encourages a lack of dependence on the gospel itself. The power is in the Word, not the one delivering it. Our strategies are foolishly built around the messenger rather than the message.

What then is a church to do when it grows? While I have never, not surprisingly, had this problem when I served as a senior pastor, we did have this problem in the church I planted, after we called another to serve as senior pastor. Our solution to our growth was simple- we created new parishes, complete with parish pastors. We hived off geographically, so that we would worship with our neighbors.

That church now has three parishes, and three pastors. It has three rented buildings. It has three congregations. But it is also one congregation. It has one liturgy, one confession, one session of elders, and one checkbook. Our conviction has been from the start that when you don’t know the person in the pew next to you, it is difficult to live out the “one anothers,” that a shared taste in preachers, or in musical style is not what binds us together, but rather the body of Christ broken is what holds the body together. Our conviction has been from the start that while technology may have its uses, our service should likely look much like it has always looked through the ages. Our conviction has been from the start that preachers are easy enough to find. Pastors, now that’s a challenge.

- RC Sproul Jr.

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  • From Exiled
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