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Deeper Roots + Wider Branches

Pursuing Sanctification, Community & Mission

Monthly Archives: February 2011

Thanks to The Resurgence Blog, I discovered the work of Isaac Wardell & Bifrost Arts, and what they have to say strikes me as very insightful. Wardell points out that “the church today generally takes its cues from the concert hall or the lecture hall” gravitating either toward a performance-driven mindset or an anti-emotional over-emphasis on “education and cognitive understanding” in an effort to become a “counter-cultural outpost”. He points out the need to rediscover the use of scriptures, the Psalms in particular as our framework for worship rather than “taking our cues from the larger media culture.” He also points out the strange phenomena that we listen to more music than ever before, yet we sing together much less then Christians did in the past. Perhaps we need to rediscover the simplicity of gathering together occasionally just to sing…no powerpoint, no microphones, no stage…just a few instruments (or none), a few brothers and sisters, and the beauty of voices raised to our creator and redeemer. I for one am longing to discover the hymns of our generation, and rediscover the hymns of generations past.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/14429217″>Bifrost Arts</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/joshfraner”>josh franer</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Here’s the interview with Isaac Wardell at The Resurgence: http://theresurgence.com/2011/02/25/is-a-worship-service-more-like-a-concert-hall-or-a-banquet-hall

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I am not a fan of everything published in Philadelphia Weekly, but I do tend to pick it up on a weekly basis mainly for their excellent “Arts & Culture” Calendar. I’ve attended several cool events that I found in PW. Lately, I’ve been picking up PW for more than just making my weekend plans. This month their “News and Opinions” section has featured some good writing on justice issues in our city. While I’ve got my beefs with PW, I definitely have to give props to the publication for talking about these issues and for reporting on tragic and hopeful local developments. Also want to give props to the writers: F.H. Rubino, Tara Murtha, and Aaron Case. Keep up the good work!

In Kensington, Renewed Hope for Troubled Souls” (2/23/11) – For my liberti church people, this is a great gospel story taking place in our own ‘hood. We should be praying for and networking with these people.  Check out Innercity Missions website.

In Philly, More Safe Places for Child-Abuse Victims” (2/16/11)- Helpful information and resources for those in our community serving children. Check out the Philadelphia Childrens Alliance for more info.

For Americans in the Sex Trade, Still Little Hope” (2/9/11)- Tragic story, but there are developments both in the city and the state to fight the injustices perpetrated against girls who have been manipulated and in some cases forced into prostitution. Also check out the documentary “Very Young Girls” and the work of Covenant House PA and Dawn’s Place.

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To you, O Lord I lift up my soul.

O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me.

Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

[Psalm 25:1-3]

Why do I lug around this soul so full of doubt, worry, fear, and rebellion when you invite me to come to you and find rest?

If your yoke is easy and your burden is light, why do I feel so lost tonight?

To you, O Lord I lift up my soul.

Enemies surround me from the outside, and I hate to say it, but they are inside me too.

Trust. I can’t trust myself. But you…My only hope. Trust in you. Though I sit in darkness, I do…

I’ve learned this much. That I can’t do this on my own.

Let me not be put to shame. Complete this work you’ve started in me.

I will wait. Wait for you.

Slowly but surely, you will lead.

Shame will crumble, piece by piece.

Joy has taken root.



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For more details on how you can pray for the DRC visit: http://www.operationworld.org/cong

Also, check out what’s going on with our friends with Women in Warzones: http://www.womeninwarzones.org/

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Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. [Psalm 42:5]

I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. [Psalm 34:1]

Woke up this morning feeling down about some things, and reminded myself of a few passages that have become anchors for my soul in the past several months. I find the contrast between Psalm 42:5 and Psalm 34:1 to be really helpful.

Psalm 42:5 teaches me that it’s ok to feel down sometimes, and just to acknowledge it. There are days when I just don’t feel happy. There are things I’m sad or anxious about. And that’s ok. I can be honest about these feelings: “Why are you cast down, O my soul,  and why are you in turmoil within me?” This verse also teaches me to preach to myself in these moments: “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him…” This verse speaks to the times when it feels nearly impossible to praise God, while at the same time recognizing that God will bring me through. He is my “salvation and my God”.

Psalm 42:5 seems to address emotions we feel like we can’t control, and pushes us to hope when all hope seems lost. I’ve had times when this is all I can cling to. Psalm 34:1 on the other hand calls me to make a choice to praise God regardless of my circumstances. We have a great example of this in Habbakuk 3:

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. [Habakkuk 3:17-19]

There are times of dissapointment and depression that are like walking on the most miserable winter day with the wind blowing in your face. And God can give us the grace and strength to hold our heads high, to face the chilling winds, and to walk with confidence that God is good, that he will provide for us, and that he will bring us through.

While these 2 truths that I’m talking about might seem sort of contradictory, I’ve come to treasure both of them. I have a God who is my refuge and shelter when all I can do is barely keep my head above water. And this same God is a God who nurtures and sustains me, who little by little nurses me back to health, who actually brings to a point where there are days when I really hurt or am really confused, yet somehow almost take joy in pressing on because I know that God is somehow working for my good and his glory.

 

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Please pray for the peace of our city. If our city has as many violent crimes each month as we did in January, we will average out to about 1 murder a day, as we did a few years ago. Here’s a blurb from a Metro Philadelphia article I saw this morning:

As of Monday, the city’s official murder count was at 24, not including a woman and seven babies allegedly killed by abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, who was charged two weeks ago. That number represents the highest year-to-date total since 2007, when 31 people were slain in the first month. Rapes are also up 36 percent from a year ago…

Many of these crimes take place within a few miles from where we worship. Let’s ask ourselves what it looks like to be the church in a city that experiences so much violence? What are some practical ways that we can serve our neighbors and work for the peace of our city?

We heard Steve preach on the beatitudes this past Sunday. One of them is “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” How can we pursue this call in our neighborhoods? How does the gospel uniquely equip us to be peacemakers?

It would be great if some of you could offer ideas in the comments section…

*Note: Photo found at http://www.malcomxpark.org

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