JRR Tolkien on sermons >

July 25th, 2015
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But as for sermons! They are bad, aren’t they! Most of them from any point of view. The answer to the mystery is prob. not simple; but part of it is that ‘rhetoric’ (of which preaching is a dept.) is an art, which requires (a) some native talent and (b) learning and practice. The instrument used is v. much more complex than a piano, yet most performers are in the position of a man who sits down to a piano and expects to move his audience without any knowledge of the notes at all.
The art can be learned (granted some modicum of aptitude) and can then be effective, in a way, when wholly unconnected with sincerity, sanctity etc. But preaching is complicated by the fact that we expect in it not only a performance, but truth and sincerity, and also at least no word, tone, or note that suggests the possession of vices (such as hypocrisy, vanity) or defects (such as folly, ignorance) in the preacher. Good sermons require some art, some virtue, some knowledge. Real sermons require some special grace which does not transcend art but arrives at it by instinct or ‘inspiration'; indeed the Holy Spirit seems sometimes to speak through a human mouth providing art, virtue and insight he does not himself possess: but the occasions are rare. In other times I don’t think an educated person is required to suppress the critical faculty, but it should be kept in order by a constant endeavor to apply the truth (if any), even in cliche form, to oneself exclusively! A difficult exercise. ….

on being an artist >

July 21st, 2015
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when I take a look at the etymology of the word “artist” I get something like this:
artist (n.)
1580s, “one who cultivates one of the fine arts,” from Middle French artiste (14c.), from Italian artista, from Medieval Latin artista, from Latin ars (see art (n.)).

Originally used especially of the arts presided over by the Muses (history, poetry, comedy, tragedy, music, dancing, astronomy), but also used 17c. for “one skilled in any art or craft” (including professors, surgeons, craftsmen, cooks). Now especially of “one who practices the arts of design or visual arts” (a sense first attested 1747).

Part of what got me thinking about this was a quote by John Lennon “I’m an artist, and if you give me a tuba, I’ll bring you something out of it.” The context for this quote was he was kind of knocking his own guitar playing (compared to someone like B.B. King), and kind of saying his strength is in getting his instrument to speak, or songwriting. I found it intriguing, as John obviously was not too keen on his guitar playing “chops” but he said in no uncertain terms : “I’m really very embarrassed about my guitar playing, in one way, because it’s very poor, I can never move, but I can make a guitar speak. I think there’s a guy called Richie Valens, no, Richie Havens, does he play very strange guitar? He’s a black guy that was on a concert and sang “Strawberry Fields” or something. He plays like one chord all the time. He plays a pretty funky guitar. But he doesn’t seem to be able to play in the real terms at all. I’m like that.” Read the rest of this entry »

a very good sermon on the Obergefell decision

July 18th, 2015
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inspirational and true!

regarding music > on being an amateur

July 11th, 2015
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I am not so very great at writing music and songs – but it brings me such pleasure I can’t imagine life without it. In a lot of ways I am an amateur. “What” someone might say – “an amateur”…?… you have work on Mtv, VH1, National Geographic etc – you’ve been broadcast on top 40 radio… you’ve recorded in some of the best studios in the world, worked with major labels, toured the world, played in front of tens of thousands, clubbed, made a living, published on and on and on…. how can you be an amateur? I would answer (and I have said this before) I don’t really know what I am doing. Sure in a basic sense I understand how to play instruments well enough to make a song. Sure at some level industry professionals and peers have rewarded me with money and recognition for my work…but still… there is so much I don’t know. Charlie Chaplin once said Read the rest of this entry »

new tune > she

June 30th, 2015
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a kind of off the cuff jammish thingy…have been working on a couple of songs which should show up here soon, been travelling a lot lately – I hope you are having a great summer!

she

a joyful noise

May 23rd, 2015
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hola amigos! I do hope you all are having a great Spring! Myself – I have been busy on several fronts and thought it a good idea to say hey…or hola…or whazhappenin. First up> I have been working my way through Psalms and have been so utterly inspired in so many ways it is difficult to summarize in a single post, but I will say this; reading Psalms makes me want to make a joyful noise! Psalm 98 is where I currently reside and the poem resonates with sacred energy…some interesting points include the fact that it was written about 1,000 years before Christ, but stretches all the way past his birth to the judgement of the earth (that’s some staying power in relevance), David instructs us to sing a NEW song, and includes such details as “make a loud noise / rejoice / sing praise / let the sea roar / let the floods clap their hands” one interesting thing of note is the “noise” element. As a drummer I’m going to say many a joke is had at our expense…our implied lack of musicality if you will…in the sense that drums are rarely “in tune” to the song…even when a pitch is found – it’s sharp on attack, and we cannot tune specifically to every song. Anyway – a joyful noise is more of a victory shout (and less of a sung note)… furthermore – have you ever been by the roar of an ocean wave? Lemme tell you it’s big my friend. Overwhelming even. In your face loud and noisy. I’m thinking the idea here is to go big or go home. Wall o’ Spirit infused sound! The Hebrew lexicon lists various meanings for noise in this psalm including “to break out / break forth / shout / raise a sound / cry out / give a blast / shout a war cry / shout in triumph.” And yes, the triumph piece becomes important as we look to the end of the psalm we see the Lord coming to judge the people of the world with righteousness and equity. Holy good from our Lord Christ will triumph over skulking defeated evil… I’m thinking a day of some joyful noise sounds quite pleasant thanks.

On other news fronts Read the rest of this entry »

Ever above my coldness and my doubt

May 23rd, 2015
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Rises up something, reaching forth a hand:
This thing I know, but cannot understand.
Is it the God in me that rises out
Beyond my self, trailing it up with him,
Towards the spirit-home, the freedom-land,
Beyond my conscious ken, my near horizon’s brim?

GM

workers for God >

April 23rd, 2015
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Christian service is not our work; loyalty to Jesus is our work.

Whenever success is made the motive of service, infidelity to our Lord is the inevitable result. (Luke 10:20)

The curse of much modern Christian work is its determination to preserve itself.

Beware of the temptation to compromise with the world, to put their interests, their needs, first – “they have kindly become interested in our Christian work, given so much time to it, now let us winsomely draw them in” they will winsomely draw you away from God.

If my life as a worker is right with God I am not concerned about my public pose – using discreet terms that will impress people; my one concern in public and private is to worship God.

Never interfere with God’s providential dealings with other souls. Be true to God yourself and watch.

Beware of Christian activities instead of Christian being. The reason workers come to stupendous collapses is that their work is the evidence of a heart that evades facing the truth of God for itself – “I have no time for prayer, for Bible study, I must always be at it”.

We constantly ask “am I of any use?”. If you think you are it is questionable whether you are being used by the Holy Spirit at all. It is the things that you pay no attention to that the Holy Spirit uses.

Your dead set determination to be of use never means half so much as the times you have not been thinking of being used, a casual conversation, an ordinary word, while your life was “hid with Christ in God”.

Nothing hoodwinks us more quickly than the idea we are serving God.

How do I deal with a sinful soul? Do I remember who I am, or do I deal with him as if I was God?

OC

thinking >

April 17th, 2015
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Don’t shut up any avenue of your nature, let God come into every avenue, every relationship, and you will find the nightmare curse of “secular and sacred” will go.

With regard to other men’s minds, take all you can get, whether those minds are in flesh-and-blood editions or in books, but remember, the best you get from another mind is not the mind’s verdict, but its standpoint. Note the writers that provoke you to do the best mentally.

We have no business to limit God’s revelations to the bias of the human mind.

Truth is discerned by moral obedience. There are points in our thinking which remain obscure until a crisis arises in personal life where we ought to obey, immediately we obey the intellectual difficulty alters. Whenever we have to obey it is always in something immensely practical.

The first thing to go when you begin to think is your theology. If you stick too long to a theological point of view you become stagnant, without vitality.

Doubt is not always a sign that a man is wrong, it may be a sign he is thinking.

A logical position is satisfying to the intellect, but it can never be true to life. Logic is simply the method man’s intellect follows in making things definable to himself, but you can’t define what is greater than yourself.

Don’t run away with the idea that everything that runs contrary to your complacent scheme of things is of the devil.

Obedience is the basis of Christian thinking. Never be surprised if there are whole areas of thinking that are not clear, they never will be until you obey.

It takes a long time to get rid of atheism in thinking.

OC

thoughts on study >

April 10th, 2015
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Study to begin with can never be easy; the determination to form systematic mental habits is the only secret. Don’t begin anything with reluctance.

Beware of any cleverness that keeps you from working. No one is born a worker; men are born poets and artists, but we have to make ourselves “laborers”.

The discipline of our mind is the one domain God has put in our keeping. It is impossible to be of any use to God if we are lazy. God won’t cure laziness, we have to cure it.

More danger arises from physical laziness than almost any other thing.

Inspiration won’t come irrespective of study, but only because of it. Don’t trust to inspiration, use your own “axe” (Psalm 74:5). Work! Think! Don’t luxuriate on the mount!

The demand for inspiration is the measure of our laziness. Do the things that don’t come by inspiration.

It is difficult to get yourself under control to do work you are not used to, the time spent seems wasted at first, but get at it again. The thing that hinders control is impulse.

Your mind can never be under your control unless you bring it there; there is no gift for control. You may pray till Doomsday but your brain will never concentrate if you don’t make it concentrate.

In the most superficial matters put yourself under control, your own control. Be as scrupulously punctual in your private habits as you would be in Government office.

Don’t insult God by telling Him He forgot to give you any brains when you were born. We all have brains, what we need is work.

OC