Monday, August 24, 2009

Last Night While I Was Preaching

Many times while I am preaching the Spirit will give me insights into the word which did not come out of my study. I spend a lot of time working on the background and history and meaning of a passage. Sometimes I think I know it all. Then something like last night happened.

The text for the evening was II Corinthians 7:8-16. The theme was that God regrets nothing, and we can regret nothing either if we move through repentance to rejoicing. It is in verse 11 that Paul describes godly sorrow. I had done word studies on all 7 of the things that he lists in this verse, but as I was preaching I began to see the true and real value of repentance in a way I had never seen it before. What I saw was that by moving through repentance we get these things, and we won't get them if we hold on to our sins.

It's not "religiously correct" in much of America today to talk much about repentance anymore, but this verse tells us what we get from it:

Earnestness - the ability to be able to be sincere in front of others without putting up a front.

Vindication - being able to defend ourselves against the charges of the accuser.

Indignation - we now feel the proper attitude toward sin.

Fear - we respect God as we should and have a proper assessment of who He is.

Longing - we have a real desire to be with God as a person, something we would not have if we were afraid to appear before the judgment seat.

Zeal - this is an enthusiasm for something outside yourself beyond the measure of your own feelings or abilities; it is our zeal for the things of God which is activated after we have moved through repentance.

Avenging of wrong - this doesn't mean that we become vigilantes with "Lone Ranger" masks (I'm telling my age on that one), but that we are properly able to dispose of things. In a sense the only real way to avenge a wrong is to deal with it like God does. That is to forgive it.

NONE OF THESE THINGS will we be capable of doing until we pass through godly sorrow over sin and deal with it and get it out of the way.

Maybe none of this is new to you, and I'm sure I'm not expressing it as forthrightly or completely as I did last night, but if you had been there you might have seen the dawn of realization in my face as I preached these things.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Just thought I should let you know that the picture with that caption on the right side of the blog is not a stock photo. It was taken here at Nevins.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I would like to make a few comments on what came out of my recording of the Psalms. As with C. S. Lewis in his book Reflections on the Psalms, this is not an attempt to deal with them totally, but simply to share some thoughts.

The recordings got easier as time went on. At first I made all kinds of mistakes in reading them and in inflections and had to go back and redo whole Psalms or large sections. This was the big factor slowing me down. Even though you’re reading the words you still have to get hold of the rhythm underlying them. Repetition takes a person deeper inside each time.

I mostly did the music tracks separately, but the music seemed to match whether I listened to the text while recording it or if I just got an idea and recorded to the time frame without listening to the text. These words are such that they transcend melodies and fit inside whatever framework is provided for them.

There is a real intensity of the text. This is not warm fuzzies for the timid but blood and anger and damage and trust. It’s not just in the vengeance Psalms, but throughout that such direct boldness occurs. The Psalms are not always pleasant, but they are always true. No one should ever discount the Psalms as an old people’s religious book to hide in when you get your feelings hurt.

The Psalms take us way beyond the regulations of the law and even the conditions of the gospel to a direct life with God. I don’t think we are intended to take these for the totality of our prayers or songs or even as the only models available, but in looking at them we see how much farther we have to go than we normally go.

The psalmists are as bold about themselves as they are confident in God. They speak with absolute confidence. It is not pride or bravado, but God’s character rubbing off on them. They have taken on the viewpoint of God; their hatred of evil is not just a projection, but a real identification with God.

We may speak of ourselves, but we cannot think of ourselves when we read these. We are not just drawn to God, but are directed and shot at Him.

There is a rising and falling of ideas. There is nothing flat about these. They move to intensity. The Psalms should never be old hat or familiar country; they are God’s country.

Sometimes I found that the music had to contrast the words to bring them out with greater force. It doesn’t seem like it would work but it does. The whole is greater than the parts here of all places in scripture.

The harmonization I experienced was not of my voice and fingers, but of God throughout.

The end result of even the most violent Psalms is peace with God. I noticed on the playback of Psalm 137 that my reading of the ending was very subdued. When we take our feelings of anger and vengeance to God, He always does what is right, but He also teaches us to look at others with His own heart which does not willingly judge anyone.

In the days these were written there was not an open covenant for all mankind. Now there is, and everyone can enter into the benefits of these.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Recording The Psalms

On 24 November 2008 I set out to record the book of Psalms. The whole thing was originally designed as a Christmas present for Jeanette. I did not realize the amount of time it was going to take, and there were only 15 Psalms on the disk I gave her for that Christmas. After that I worked on them in spurts until completing the entire book on 12 August 2009.

I both read the text and played my own original improvisations in the background on a harp sound from a keyboard. I figured it would just take too long to set all of them to music and make a new 21st century Psalter of my own, but this method still fulfills the definition of a psalm as that which is accompanied by an instrument.

I chose to use the American Standard Version my recording. I updated many, but not all, of the archaisms. I used this version for two reasons. First, because it is in the Public Domain and I didn’t have to get any permission to record it, and second, because it actually uses the name of God in the text itself. No one knows which way it is to be pronounced, so Jehovah, which is used by the American Standard, is, in some ways, as valid as Yahweh which has come to more current usage.

Christians do not need to be bound by the non-scriptural scruples of the Jews who were afraid to pronounce the name of God lest they fall under judgment. If God didn’t want the name to be pronounced He wouldn’t have let the Psalmists inscribe it. For the Christian the full revelation of God in Jesus Christ has come, and we are able to approach God’s throne face to face through Jesus. This means we are completely at home in His presence. You call people by their name in such a context. Using the actual name of God rather than the substitution of “LORD” is important because these Psalms are personal directives to a person and not poetry dedicated to a faceless nameless idea.


Next time I will share some of the things I learned out of this nine month process.