Legendary producer and songwriter Ed Cash and his band, We The Kingdom (made up of his daughter, son, brother, and himself, along with one other guy) recorded a live version of this beautiful song and released it in the summer of 2019. The video, which can be found on YouTube (and embedded below) is inspiring to watch. Franni Rae Cash is fun to watch sing as she gets caught up in worship, and who can help but smile when watching a group of people with their arms around each other, or arms raised to heaven in worship singing these lyrics?
I enjoy the 6/8 groove of this song, which gets me swaying just a little back and forth as if in sync with the rhythm of the sea – so appropriate for a song titled Dancing on the Waves. And I enjoy the lilting melody of the verses and how the chorus melody lands more firmly as if on solid ground, and the crescendoing bridge just seems to soar.
But what I love most is THE LYRIC. The words are quite poetic, sure, but the poignancy of this poem is not in the phrasing or choice of words – it’s in the message, and the fact that this message is so needed! The message of this lyric is one that can literally transform a person.
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As a disclaimer, or perhaps a warning, this is my first sermon since graduating from seminary, so I’m going to download 4.5 years’ worth of education to you in the next 25 minutes.
No, seriously, I did learn a ton in my studies the last five years and I’d like to share some of it with you, and the study I did diving deep into this parable kind of brought together so much of what I gained from seminary, and why I wanted to go to seminary in the first place. I grew up in the church, I feel very fortunate to have had wonderful parents who raised me in the faith, who are great examples to me and my brother about how to live Christianly and to have an intelligent faith that takes scripture seriously and puts feet to that faith with compassion toward others.
But I also realized that I have a pretty narrow worldview. Sure, I spent a year studying abroad in London, and I’ve had the opportunity to do some international travel, and I’ve gone on a half dozen short-term mission trips to extremely poor areas in Mexico. But relatively speaking I still have a narrow, limited worldview and therefore a narrow and limited view of God. My hope, when I enrolled at Fuller Theological Seminary was to broaden my understanding of God by gaining a more global and historical perspective of God. I wanted to learn to see God from different perspectives and to interpret scripture from different perspectives. And I feel like I did grow in this way tremendously.
I learned that there’s not ONE RIGHT WAY to interpret scripture – especially when you’re dealing with a parable. Continue reading →
(originally delivered as a Christmas Eve devotional at Sun River Church, Rancho Cordova, on December 24, 2019)
Let’s talk about the angels and the shepherds, and the song, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. First, in case you’re not sure, the word “Hark” basically means: Listen up! Check it out! This is important! You know the word, because of the song. But you probably don’t use it in your everyday language. It’s kind of an interesting word though. It’s almost onomatopoeic. Yup, that’s a real word, too. It means “a word that sounds like what it means.” Like, “bang,” or “sizzle,” or “bark.” Hark! It definitely gets your attention. Especially when yelled. Or when coming out of the mouth of an angelic being!
But what about “Herald”? That’s not a real common word these days, either. No, the song is not called Hark the Herald Angels Sing because the lead Angel singer was named Harold. The word “Herald” means to proclaim or announce. This is why so many newspapers have the word Herald in their name. The Daily Herald, the Herald News. These angels were proclaiming the most important news ever.
The question of what role women can or should take in leadership within the church has been a hot topic for many years. I believe, and I hope, that we are coming to a point of greater consensus on this matter; a consensus that exegetes the scriptures with an appropriately global and historical perspective that reaches beyond our personal preferences, pat answers, and the comfort of our traditionally accepted (and unquestioned) stances. Here is an overview of the position I have come to through much research, prayer, and seeking wise counsel.
The Whole of Scripture
I believe that when the whole of scripture is taken into account, together with an understanding of the culture and the people to whom it was written, the Bible supports the unrestricted ministry of women today (other than the restrictions that would be applied equally to men) and, therefore, I believe women should be allowed to be pastors and worship leaders and even elders.
Klyne Snodgrass, in his article A Case For The Unrestricted Ministry of Women (http://www.covchurch.org/resources), points out the importance of understanding there are a variety of positions on this issue, including “that women should not speak at all, not teach men and boys, not teach from behind a pulpit, not teach authoritatively, not teach except under emergency conditions (as on the mission field or when no qualified male is present), not teach except under the authority of a male senior pastor. Apart from the first two, none of these positions fits a literal reading of 1 Corinthians 14:33-38 and 1 Timothy 2:9-15. Everyone is making hermeneutical moves to deal with these texts, even if they do not admit it.”
The recent restrictions that the COVID-19 stay at home orders have imposed on churches has led church staffs to rethink not only how we “do church,” but what elements are truly essential. We must think creatively about how to perform traditional worship service elements such as singing and taking communion. Shared communion cups have always been a little awkward, but now they’re out of the question, and even passing a bowl for people to reach into and extract a wafer with their bare hands is dangerous.
The most frustrating order for some (e.g. worship leaders) was the order from California Governor Gavin Newsome that churches “discontinue singing” while gathered for worship services. This resulted in an uproar from many Christians. How can we hold a worship service without worshiping? How can the government dictate whether we praise God or not? Didn’t Jesus say that we must sing? Luke 19:40 says, “If they keep silent, the very stones will cry out!” (NET Bible) Our God must be praised!
This is true, of course. But did Governor Newsom’s order actually prohibit worship? Continue reading →