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Heart Aflame - June 27, 2010

Psalm 78:38-71

Yet he was merciful ... and did not destoy them.  The Israelites no doubt deserved to be involved in one common destruction; but it is declared that God mitigated his anger, that some seed of them might remain.  That none might infer that God had proceeded to punish them with undue severity, we are told that the punishments inflicted upon them were moderate - yea, mild, when compared with the aggravated nature of their wickedness.  God kept back his hand, not looking so much to what they had deserved, as desiring to give place to his mercy.  We are not, however, to imagine that he is changeable, when at one time he chastises us with a degree of severity, and at another time gently draws and allures us to himself; for in the exercise of his matchless wisdom, he has recourse to different means by which to try whether there is really any hope of our recovery.  But the guilt of men becomes more aggravated, when neither his severity can reform them nor his mercy melt them.  It is to be observed, that the mercy of God, which is an essential attribute of his nature, is here assigned as the reason why he spared his people, to teach us that he was not induced by any other cause but this, to show himself so much inclined and ready to pardon.

He remembered that they were but fleshFlesh and spirit are frequently contrasted in the Scriptures; not only when flesh means our depraved and sinful nature, and spirit the uprightness to which the children of God are born again; but also when men are called flesh, because there is nothing firm or stable in them.  In this passage, flesh means, that men are subject to coruption and putrefaction; and spirit, that they are only a breath or a fleeting shadow.  As men are brought to death by a contnual wasting and decay, the people re compared to a wind which passes away, and which, of its own accord, falls and does not return again.  God, in the execise of his mercy and goodness, bore with the Jews, not because the deserved this, but because their frail and transitory condition called forth his pity and induced him to pardon them.


Words really do have power

I was interested to read this piece by Justin Taylor discussing the announcement made by Liberty University.  Ergun Caner's stories of his past were first passed off as "theological leverage" by the university, and now, after his admission to being less than honest, they are saying that he made "factual statements that are self-contradictory."

Wait a minute ... what is the definition of a fact?

Words really do have power.  They can convince, mislead and damage.  The fact that Liberty University is choosing to twist words is more than just being creative with their vocabulary.  It's about what is true and what is not.  Apparently, they like to err on the side of truth being a little greyer than is perhaps the case.


When the preface is really good

... it makes the rest of the book seem quite promising.

I decide to read the book Why Johnny Can't Sing Hymns.  I think this will be a quick read; I wanted to finish something for a change!

The principle behind this book is that pop culture has affected worship music, specifically, the use of hymns and more traditional kinds of music.  The author, also the writer of Why Johnny Can't Preach, has subtitled this book "How Pop Culture Rewrote the Hymnal."

In the preface of the book, he comments that we make the tools of culture and the tools of the culture make us.  He says more specifically:  "we make songs and song make us."   I thought that was interesting. 

He also points out that pop music is everywhere.  It is played in malls, offices, and waiting rooms.  And most of it is simply pop radio.  We are so surrounded by pop music, that we are losing touch with the older forms of music.  He says:

We are surrounded by nearly ubiquitous pop music - so much so that nothing else really registers in our consciousness as music.  If it is not accompanied by a guitar, if it is not accompanied by the predictable melodies and rhythms of pop culture, it just doesn't seem like music.

I could not help but think of my sons when I read that.  While I fed my children a wide diet of music styles and while they have played both classical, folk, and popular music, they still have a bias to more popular styles.  And what is really ironic, is that my kids don't like pop radio much.  My boys, especially, listen to a lot of indie music, and turn their nose up at pop bands and pop icons.  Still, they hear something like Benny Goodman or Glenn Miller, and they think they're in the Twilight Zone.  My youngest son is preparing for his piano exam (which is today, actually) and he cannot stand the one Baroque piece he is playing.  And I can hear that reality, because he doesn't know how to interpret the piece.  Now, that old standard "The Way You Look Tonight," he's better with, and even that's a stretch. He had help from his teacher with that one.

I'm looking forward to reading more about how this culture quirk has affected our worship music.


Thankful Thursday

I am thankful today for the fact that my son was accepted into the college he wants to attend.

He's going to a bible school that offers a music program, and he had to go to an audition on Monday morning.  He played a song on the piano and sang and played the guitar.  He sang a song he wrote on the advice of his music teacher.  He said the theory exam was harder than he expected.  It has been three years since he took his theory exams, so had forgotten quite a bit of it, but he wasn't too concerned.  It ended up that he got 60% on the theory exam, which he said was good, because he doesn't think he answerered more than 60% of the questions.  A higher mark would have exempted him from the first semester of Rudiments, but I think it's good that he take them again.

Part of the program he's taking, which is a Bachelor of Church music, includes an emphasis on sound recording, which he's quite excited about.  He's pretty happy.


Warfield Wednesday

I was reading from one of B.B. Warfield's volumes this morning, Biblical Doctrines.  The entry I was reading is on predestination.  In the first part, Warfield discusses at length the use of the word "predestination" from a texual perspective, focusing on how it was used in the Old Testament and then in the New Testament.  Then, he goes into a discussion about the way the men of the Old Testament viewed God and the principle of a sovereign God with a divine will and plan.  I liked this part:

Self-sufficiency is the characteristic mark of the wicked, whose doom treads on his heels; while the mark of the righteous is that he lives by his faith (Hab. ii.4).  In the entire self-commitment to God, humble dependence on Him for all blessings, which is the very core of Old Testament religion, no element is more central than the profound conviction embodied in it of the free sovereignty of God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, in the distribution of His mercies.  The whole training of Israel was directed to impressing upon it the great lesson enunciated to Zerubabel, 'Not by might, nor by power, by by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts' (Zech. iv.6) - that all that comes to man in the spiritual sphere, too, is the free gift of Jehovah.

 That is quite a thought:  "self-sufficiency is the characteristic mark of the wicked..."  Have I ever thought in those terms before?