Monday, May 4, 2009

Proud of the Worship Ministry

I could not have been more proud of the worship ministry of ClearView than I was this past Saturday night. Here is why.

We had a worship time planned (A Night of Hallelujahs) for Saturday and Sunday evenings at ClearView for both evenings. The full choir, band, and orchestra had prepared for months to lead us in this worship time. We are blessed to have some incredibly gifted musicians and vocalists. I could tell at the Saturday morning rehearsal this was going to be a great time of worship for our church family.

Time for the Saturday evening praise came ... the band, orchestra, and then the choir took their places right at 7:00. I stepped up to open the time with prayer before we began. One thought crossed my mind: "Where are the people?" I don't know if it was the monsoon we were having outside, proms, swine flu scare, or just Saturday night in Williamson County, but there was much less people than I expected. And I would say much less than many of the worship team was expecting as well. [The Sunday evening crowd was much better]

All of us know what it is like to have high expectations only to be disappointed. And in this setting it would have been so easy for the worship ministry team to have a big let down and just walk through the motions. But did they ever deliver!! They sang and played and just flat out worshiped as if there were thousands. Or maybe I should say, they worshipped as if it were only them and God!

As I sat on the front row, I could not have been more proud of every single person. You could see it on their faces and in their eyes. This was not about performing for some big crowd, this was really about them worshipping and inviting us to join. And from the downbeat of the first note to the last, that is exactly what we did.

Don't get me wrong. Sunday evening was awesome as well. But I will not soon forget that Saturday evening as the group did not allow poor attendance let them down one bit. The heart of our worship ministry was never more evident than this memorable evening of May 2, 2009.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Does theology matter?

The root word of "theology" is "theo" which means "God". You recognize the rest of the word ... "ology" which has come to mean "the study of". It's original meaning is "speak". If you have ever spoken about God or thought about God you have practiced theology. Theology is of little value unless it leads one to know God ... the God of Scripture. A proper theology is also what drives our practice. In other words, what I believe about God will determine how I think and act in every area of my life. An impotent or inaccurate view of God leads to an impotent spiritual walk. A right theology leads to the approach to life that is pleasing to God (the only reason we exist) should I live out of that view.

There is good and bad theology. Good theology is informed by the Bible. Bad theology is informed by any source other than the Bible. This would be especially true should that theology be in opposition to or disagreement with good theology (found only in the Bible).

Where do you get your view of God? What informs your theology? This determines everything. But it especially determines whether or not we can honor and please God with our lives because it will not be the God of Scripture for whom we live, if our theology is not correct. It will be a misinformed view of God, which by definition cannot be the God of Scripture. When you find yourself in a crisis or when you open your eyes on the other side of eternity, you will not want a fantasy God; you will need the one true God. And the only place an accurate theology is in the pages of Scripture.

I will be preaching Sunday (May 3) from 1 John 2:18-27 which covers antichrists. Chapter 4 speaks of the spirit of antichrists. The idea John is conveying is any spirit which seeks to oppose or to replace the Christ of Scripture. I will use as illustrations some recent books and movies that make an attempt at theology (speaking of God). One book I will use to illustrate contemporary material with an anti-Christ message will be The Shack by Wm. Paul Young. Let me quickly say, I do not know Mr. Young so I will give him the benefit of the doubt that his intentions were good. He was not intending to lead people away from the God of the Bible. He simply does. I will give a point or two in the message tomorrow. There are many places Young speaks in a way that opposes Scripture and / or tries to replace the truth of Scripture with his fanciful imagination of the trinity. Not a good place to be.

The sad thing is many will read this and be led astray from the truth. You can only take one of a few positions related to the book. You can say, "Well, it is indeed bad theology and I see it as such."

You can say, "No, I think his theology is good" in which case I would challenge you to read it in light of Scripture rather than reading Scripture in light of Young. I would remind you the origninal sin of Eve eating the apple began with the question from Satan, "Did God really say ...?" and for the first time in history man subjected God's Word to man's opinion rather than man's opinion being subjected to God's Word. Again, not a good place to be.

Finally, there are those who would say, "It's only fiction". Part of me wants to say EXACTLY! It is especially fanciful and fictional when it comes to the nature and character of the God of Scriputre. It is one man's erroneous theology of the God of Scripture. The dangers in that are many. It confuses new Christians. It is being advertised as a life transforming book. There are many who do not know the God of Scripture at all that are being led to believe this view of God is accurate and therefore the God to whom they should trust their life. I have heard followers of Christ say, "It really helped me". My question would be, helped you what? Misunderstand God? Feel good about relating to a "God" that does not in fact exist? Get through a painful time by seeing God through heretical eyes?

Maybe you would say, "Mark, Young is close on his theology. He almost gets it right." I would argue differently, but let's assume you are right. Think about this quote from Spurgeon: “Discernment is not simply a matter of telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather it is the difference between right and almost right.”

For a (theologically) solid review of The Shack go here. Challies is fair, giving what he sees as positive and what he sees as theologically askew in the book. He gives a more balanced view than I would and it keeps me from making this post that much longer if I don't try to give a complete theological review here :-).

One last thought. I posted a reply on another site when asked my opinion about the book. Let's just say, my view was not the popular view. I was accused, as a "pastor" (read with disdain) trying to tell people what they could and could not read. Well, obviously I can't do that. You will read what you will read. My role as a pastor however is well defined. Here is one such instruction given me:
28 Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among whom the Holy Spirit has appointed you as overseers, to shepherd the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood.
Acts 20:28 (HCSB)

If you must read The Shack do so with a biblical lens in place.