Tuesday, December 30, 2008

9th Commandment

I have been on the hurting end of the 9th commandment abuse and believe me it hurts. And when it continues - it hurts worse. The following is from a researcher/leader in the Southern Baptist Convention that I like to read. I really like his observations.

Why is the tendency so strong to defend your position by tearing others down?

May his words - as the reflect God's Word - call us all to repentance.

Bearing False Witness
Posted: 30 Dec 2008 11:33 AM CST
I must confess that I find many things perplexing in the Christian life-- why does God not always heal?, why are there so many without Christ?, and many other questions. But one question has been really troubling me lately: why do Christians lie about each other so much?

I first noticed this several years ago. I found that speakers came where I served and misquoted and mischaracterized those they did not like (in this case and at that time, it was primarily contemporary churches). So, rather than criticize or challenge (which I think is fine) they build their case up with falsehood, or as the 9th commandment puts it, they "bear false witness," or as I will put it, they lie.

"Do not give false testimony against your neighbor."
Ex. 20:16 (HCSB)

John Wesley said bearing false witness is "speaking falsely in any matter" including "lying, equivocating, and any way devising and designing to deceive our neighbour," or to speak "unjustly against our neighbour, to the prejudice of his reputation." Of course it's not always that men are out to ruin another's reputation, but they care nothing of ruining another's reputation in the pursuit of making their point.

This malady seems to be everywhere, but it is surprising to me how common it is among the most conservative of Christians-- those who speak often of their belief in the authority of Bible. People like me. We are quick to defend the authority of God's word, but are not always as quick to apply what it say about lying to our own words.

It struck me most forcefully when I saw one well-known polemic pastor bear false witness against some friends of mine, be confronted on it, admit he was wrong, and then not publicly address, retract, or apologize for what he said. My guess is, even if he had corrected himself publicly few would have noticed, and fewer would have thought it a big deal. The truth is that "all is fair" in some wars.

We often give one another a pass when someone bears false witness because they were being passionate for truth; or at least for a truth that they believe is being attacked. John Calvin said, "slander is often praised under the pretext of zeal and conscientiousness. Hence it happens that this vice insinuates itself even among the saints, creeping in under the name of virtue."

And, to my own shame, I think I began to notice it more when I saw the lying directed at churches like mine. It is funny how I did not care as much about all the 9th commandment issues until some of those 9th commandment issues were directed at me. That shows my own carnality. And, it left me wondering how many times I had carelessly provided a false witness before I was sensitive to it.

The benefit of experiencing some of these false allegations is it sensitized me-- and convicted me that I had not been careful in my own speech.

But it's important to note that if we are going to take the 9th commandment seriously we have to do more than not lie-- we must tell the truth, and even defend those who are being lied about. So, occasionally, I have defended the victims of false witness. In some quarters of my denomination and other conservative evangelical expressions, those lied about are often church planters and contemporary or emerging church pastors. (One of the reasons so many contemporary pastors have left my denomination is that they were tired of being misrepresented and caricatured from the platform of the denomination they supported-- something I believe is changing.)

Even people with whom we have differences need to be spoken of truthfully. Although I am not where Bill Hybels is on some issues, this past summer I wrote about the need to be truthful about Willowcreek and their Reveal study in my monthly Outreach Magazine column and here at the blog.

The same goes for people as diverse as Joel Osteen, Brian McLaren, and Jeremiah Wright. Regardless of how much we disagree and how passionate we feel, in all cases, people should be spoken of truthfully, even when we are disagreeing with them.

We cannot not let a passion for the truth make it OK to not speak truthfully. God is never honored when we defend His truth by speaking falsely.

Because God does not lie and is always trustworthy we value the truth. As followers of Jesus, who called himself "the truth," we must be a people of truth. This demands that we not bear false witness, but speak honestly and plainly of ourselves and others.

Funny Calvinistic Video - I think my wife is a Calvinist

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The 5th Covenant Ring

Many years ago, starting with Katie, I began a very serious tradition with my children, Covenant rings.
On their 13th birthday, I have a date with my child at a fancy restaurant. We talk about purity and what it really means in detail. I then ask them if they will make a covenant with me. That they will accept a ring from me and wear it until the night before their wedding symbolizing that they have been sexually pure. Then that night they give the ring back to me. If they mess up sexually they are to give the ring back to me because they have broken the covenant.

These rings have become very important to my girls especially. I will never forget when Margaret lost hers in the locker room before a basketball game. It was lost for about a week. HEr good friend Cate Dahl knew how much it meant to Margaret and look and relooked in the locker room until she fount it. It was a real day of rejoicing!

The rings look like wedding bands so many people ask the kids about them. It is an opportunity to tell what a covenant ring means. I hope every boy asks my girls what they mean!

What does the "Covenant" consist? I promise to pray, provide and protect as much as I can. To allow them to use me as their excuse to say no to any guy. They promise to be sexually pure - not just technically - but really pure until they are married. Why? I want their marriages to be the best possible and as a pastor I have seen first hand how pre-marital sex has so adversely affected so many marriages. Th
e author of the Proverbs says it is like putting hot coals in you lap - it burns and leaves a lasting reminder of sin that affects the future.
Last week, I have my last "Covenant Ring" discussion and date with  my last 13 year old, Rebekah. She has been asking if I had the ring, if I had forgotten ... so I let her see the box and then said she could not open it till out date 2 days later - mean huh. Notice the lip!
Finally, last Monday was our date and we got dressed up and went on the town. Long conversations, great questions and answers, great food, it was a wonderful date! Even though it looks like it in the picture - the dogs did not go with us!

Great Christmas PARTY

Just catching my breathe from the last week - here are a few pictures to make you smile!

If you were invited and did not come - you missed it! Maybe sometime soon - I did plan it on a difficult day for many people.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

You have gotta read this.

A very interesting blog post that explains a lot!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Preaching next Sunday

Many have asked when I will be preaching again - well next Sunday I will be preaching at Westminster Presbyterian in Albemarle.

Rev. Lee A. Shellnutt & his family will be in Georgia on vacation.
1804 Badin Rd
PO Box 447
Albemarle NC 28002

Call if you need better instructions!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Is Evangelism out of style?

It seems to me there is less emphasis on evangelism (sharing your Christian faith) today and more on on simply good works. I am in favor of both but it is my experience that you must encourage evangelism first and good works/discipleship ... second. Why? Well, I am a Presbyterian and we are known for training people in theology - good theology - no, great theology. We love that stuff. But, in reality, we will train people to death and they never get around to sharing their faith.
Those of you who know me - know I love to be around questioning, seekers, young christians and believers that are listening to what God wants in their lives. The hear sermons differently that Christians that fell that have all that is required in this lifetime. You h
ave heard that it is easier to steer a moving ship that one dead in the water - same thing with a growing Christian. Point them in the right direction with the right attitude (Faith) and they will please God.

Listen to this from an atheist about a recent experience when a man cared enough to share his faith.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

More Random items of Interest to ME!

  • How to encourage a missionary  - 13 ways! (John Piper)
  • Crystal Cathedral is looking for a new senior pastor - it happens in a lot of places!
  • Facebook 'pokes' can be used for court notification
  • Stock prices, which rallied in anticipation of a more modest rate cut, shot up across the board after the Fed’s announcement that it would “employ all available tools” to right the economy.
  • Auburn seems to getting the wrong kind of print coverage!  Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com, said: "Two week s ago when Tommy Tuberville was forced to resign and Turner Gill's name came up as a candidate at Auburn, I had two coaches in the SEC tell me Turner Gill will never get that job," Schlabach said. "And I said 'why?' They said, 'he's married to a white woman.'"
  • Today in 1973, when I was a junior in High School O J Simpson set the make of 2000 yards in a single season. He is in jail now as a 63 year old man.
  • You have heard about the show throwing at  President Bush but did you know his spokeswoman, Dana Perino, received a black eye in the melee that ensued?

  • My last little child will become a teenager on Saturday - time for the Covenant Ring Dinner!

  • The Atlanta Braves need their old shortstop back! But the news has changed 3 times in 2 days!

The Gospel in a Song

By Shane and Shane - Oliver showed me this very powerful song - be sure to watch the whole thing!

Monday, December 15, 2008

End of Year Appeals

I am starting to get the letters from seminaries & ministries asking for year end gifts - the first trickle of what I am sure will be a flood in the next few weeks approaching Jan. 1st.

The first one was pretty boring: 
It is a fact that the current economic crisis is the number one topic of conversation in the country today. Many of you have inquired with concern about how this financial ''tsunami'' is affecting Reformed Theological Seminary.

We are all concerned about the continuing deterioration of our economy. No organization, RTS included, is immune to the effects of the plummeting equity markets, tightening credit markets, rising unemployment, consumer uncertainty, and lack of confidence.

In response, RTS has become more committed, determined, and disciplined...

The one I like the best was from Covenant College written by a professional journalist (Joel Belz of WORLD Magazine fame.) It started well and ended with a straight forward ap
peal to invest in the lives of students. Read this:

Yes, you've probably already got it figured out. Before you finish reading this letter I'm going to ask you for a year end gift to Covenant College this Christmas. I realize you'll probably be inclined to answer either of two ways:
1. You'll think how perilous the economy is, and what terrible shape the world finds itself in, and you'll decide that this  just isn't a good time for such a gift. Or,
2. You'll think how perilous the economy is, and what terrible shape the world finds itself in, and you'll decide that there couldn't possible be a better time for such a gift!

That got me thinking - "I am in the fund raising mode, should I ask for year end gifts to the church planting ministry? Will I miss out on a great opportunity?" I have heard that ministries like Focus on the Family get 80% or some such high figure for their operating budget in December and then coast until the Summer/Fall and struggle until the next December. 
I am praying for a support team that will be willing to support the planting of Advent Presbyterian over a four year period. By faith we are planning on a Fall of 2009 first worship. Until we have regular worship services the expenses continue. 

If you would like to give to a ministry - do it after you have tithed to your local church. If you would like to support the planting of a church that will in term support missions and other ministries in the future - pray about it.

Just today I found out a missionary family started supporting this ministry. What an encouragement that is for my heart. They are the second missionary family on my support team.

My goal is to raise $225,000 for the four years. That is not what it will cost but it  will supplement, especially in the beginning, until worshippers start tithing to Advent as their local church. As of today I have pledged just over $97,000. So I am not quite halfway.

By the way if you would like to be on my prayer team - email me at pastorkencross@gmail.com

If you think God would have you invest either with a year end gift or to pledge over whatever period here is how you do it:

There are four ways to give to the Advent Presbyterian Church Plant
partnering with MNA for cash
 management services:

1. You can make your donations by mail.

Mission to North America
1700 N. Brown Road Suite 101
Lawrenceville, GA 30043-8143

• Please make your checks payable to MNA
• In the memo line of your check specify Ken Cross (we prefer the name rather than an account number)
• 100% of your contribution goes directly to this project! There are no fees charged by MNA for these services.

2. You can make your donations online by credit card.

• Go to www.pca-mna.org
• Click the “Support MNA” tab (2nd from the right)
• Choose “Donate Now”
(Link: https://processor.pcanet.org/mna/donationsII/donation.cfm)
• From the ‘church planters’ drop down menu, select “Cross, Ken – Steele Creek (Charlotte), NC”
• Create a user account by entering your donor information, name, address, email address.

3. You can make your regular donations automatically via electronic funds transfer from your bank, or by a recurring credit card charge.

Please contact Michael Hutcheson at (678) 825-1223 or mhutcheson@pcanet.org.

4. You can donate stock by contacting Charles W. Schwab:

Stock Company: Charles Schwab & Associates
Main phone number: 1-800-435-4000
Account number: 16360225
DTC Code: 0164 Code 40

(DTC stands for Depository Trust Co., which is part of the Federal Reserve System of the Central Securities Exchange)

After each gift is received, a receipt will be sent to the donor.

If you have read this far you get a special prize - but you have to make a comment on this blog to receive it! Just put the word, "Joyful" in your comment - don't mention the prize or people will just read the comments and be clued in! 

Sunday, December 14, 2008

O come, divine Messiah!

I found words to an old Advent Hymn. I like that the words , especially the first two verses and refrain, point both to the first and second Advents (comings of Christ). We await the second, we rejoice in the first! The second is just as sure and the first.

So make sure that this Advent season you meditate on what it means to "wait well!"

O Come Divine Messiah

Lyrics by Pellegrin, Abbé Simon-Joseph

1. O come, divine Messiah! 
The world in silence waits the day 
When hope shall sing its triumph, 
And sadness flee away. 
Dear Savior haste; 
Come, come to earth, 
Dispel the night and show Thy face, 
And bid us hail the dawn of grace. 
O come, divine Messiah! 
The world in silence waits the day 
When hope shall sing its triumph, 
And sadness flee away. 
2. O Christ, whom nations sigh for, 
Whom priest and prophet long foretold, 
Come break the captive fetters; 
Redeem the long‐lost fold. 
3. You come in peace and meekness, 
And lowly will Thy cradle be; 
All clothed in human weakness 
We shall Thy Godhead see. 

Even so, Lord Jesus come! Have a great day of worship today!

I found a recording of it on You Tube of a church choir singing but they only sing the first two verses. Here is another recording that is more professionally done but the pictures that they show only point to the first Advent. I would love to see this hymn redone by Indelible Grace musicians or maybe you have that talent!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Statistics that Dazzle

The numbers that represented people touched my heart. And I was reminded that without CHANGE there is no GROWTH and with Change there is always CONFLICT.


I got this from another blog - thought I would pass it along. It reminds me of the Arsenio Hall show with his "Hmm" questions. That might have been before your time.

Cogitation Questions:
  1. Can you cry under water?
  2. How important does a person have to be before they are considered assassinated instead of just murdered?
  3. Why do you have to 'put your two cents in'... but it's only a 'penny for your thoughts'? Where's that extra penny going to?Once you're in heaven, do you get stuck wearing the clothes you were buried in for eternity?
  4. Why does a round pizza come in a square box?
  5. What disease did cured ham actually have?
  6. How is it that we put man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?
  7. Why is it that people say they 'slept like a baby' when babies wake up like every two hours?
  8. If a deaf person has to go to court, is it still called a hearing?
  9. Why are you IN a movie, but you’re ON TV?
  10. Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground?
  11. Why do doctors leave the room while you change? They're going to see you naked anyway.
  12. Why is 'bra' singular and 'panties' plural?
  13. Why do toasters always have a setting that burns the toast to a horrible crisp, which no decent human being would eat?
  14. If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why is there a stupid song about him?
  15. If the professor on Gilligan's Island can make a radio out of a coconut, why can't he fix a hole in a boat?
  16. Why does Goofy stand erect while Pluto remains on al l fours? They're both dogs!
  17. If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME cag, why didn't he just buy something to eat?
  18. If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, what is baby oil made from?
  19. Why do the Alphabet song and "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" have the same tune?
  20. Why did you just try singing the two songs above?
  21. Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog's face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him for a car ride, he sticks his head out the window?
  22. Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are getting dead?
  23. Why do banks charge a fee on 'insufficient funds' when they already know there is not enough money?
  24. Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?
  25. Why do they use sterilized needles for death by lethal injection?
  26. Why doesn't Tarzan have a beard?
  27. Why does Superman stop bullets with his chest, but ducks when you throw a revolver at him?
  28. Why do Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?
  29. Whose idea was it to put an 'S' in the word 'lisp'?
  30. If people evolved from apes, why are there still apes?
  31. Why is it that no matter what color bubble bath you use the bubbles are always white?
  32. Is there ever a day that mattresses are not on sale?
  33. Why do people constantly return to the refrigerator with hopes that something new to eat will have materialized?
  34. Why do people keep running over a string a dozen times with their vacuum cleaner, then reach down, pick it up, examine it, then put it down to give the vacuum one more chance?
  35. Why is it that no plastic bag will open from the end on your first try?
  36. How do those dead bugs get into those enclosed light fixtures?
  37. When we are in the supermarket and someone rams our ankle with a shopping cart then apologizes for doing so, why do we say, 'It's all right?' Well, it isn't all right, so why don't we say, 'That really hurt, why don't you watch where you're going?'
  38. Why is it that whenever you attempt to catch something that's falling off the table you always manage to knock something else over?
  39. In winter why do we try to keep the house as warm as it was in summer when we complained about the heat?
  40. How come you never hear father-in-law jokes?

N.B. The statistics on sanity is that one out of every four persons are suffering from some sort of mental illness. Think of your three best friends -- if they're okay, then it's you.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Prayer Needed for Kazakhstan

This is a prayer request I got this morning from medical missionaries that the church I served supports. Please take a few minutes and pray. This follows well the scripture meditation I posted yesterday!


As we have mentioned in the past, the proposed religious law in Kz has been making strong headway through the Upper and Lower Parliaments where they passed the bill unanimously. As of last week, the bill sits in the hands of the president of this country who can choose to sign it or veto it. He has 30 days to do so. The president was quoted earlier this year as saying, 'We don't need missionaries in Kazakhstan.' He holds great power!

Our friends have told us lately that on the news each night, the newscasters report on the religious law and they always end by saying that, in their opinion this new law is not strict enough. Inflammatory and sensationalized broadcasts of several Christian services have been repeatedly aired on the local TV stations (at least 3 times a day) in an attempt to promote anti-Christian sentiments and to promote the idea that Christianity is a sect.

Religious leaders all over Kazakhstan are asking for Christians to intensify their prayers for this country during this time. If brought into effect, these laws will shut down mission work and illegalize Christianity. Here is a summary of some of the changes in the bill:

Children under the age of 18 will not be permitted to attend church without written consent from BOTH their parents – this will prevent orphans and children of non-believers from attending Christian gatherings.
Proselytizing (sharing the gospel) will become illegal. A spot fine of $500 will be given to individuals caught sharing their faith, their pastor will get a $500 fine, and their church will be fined $3,000.
If they are caught a second time, their church will be shut down.
A church is only official and permitted if they have 50 members who all are officially registered by bringing in their identity card to the officials.
Religious humanitarian charities also have restrictions under the proposed bill.
Religious literature publishing, importing, or distribution will be banned and will require government approval.

These restrictions are worse than what is currently in place in countries of Central Asia where Christians are openly persecuted. We ask that you join us in praying for our country.

For more information, there are plenty of news reports on this throughout the internet. Here are a few:

"Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men." 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2a.

Thanks for standing with us in prayer for Kazakhstan and our brothers and sisters there!!

Matt and Laura Acker

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Smoke in the Eyes or Healing with our Lives?

As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, 
so is a sluggard to those who send him.

This is from Proverbs 10:26. I was reading the Bible this morning and it stuck out to me. Let me share with you some of what it says to me.
"Teeth" - in the ancient Near East it can be assumed that there was no modern dental hygiene or medicine and thus many adults had broken teeth - ouch all the time. So when the original reader read this they knew exactly the pain that was being described! So do I! When I played football I broke my front tooth after a hard hit - whenever the air hit that nerve it was horrible! I was ready to see that dentist!
"Eyes" - on a mission trip to the Philippines a couple of years ago we had a one day medical clinic for some of our medical people to use their skills as nurses and doctors .... Two ladies (with no medical skill whatsoever) were given the task to check people's eyesight by looking at the chart, first with one eye then the other and so on. On that trip we had brought no glasses with us. (We remedied that on the next trip but I digress.) It was very clear that the folks that took this eye test had terrible sight, even to our unskilled ladies. Upon returning to the states and talking to a eye doctor friend of mine, it was mentioned that many people cook over an open fire and or use an open fire for heat. The smoke in your eyes over a long period of time doesn't only sting but it has a lasting effect!So bad teeth that hurt and eyes that are stinging are terrible, right?

Yes, it is terrible. This terrible pain and discomfort is like a messenger that is not reliable according to our passage.

From the notes in the "Spirit of the Reformation" Bible: "Royal messengers in the ancient Near East held very high, even courtly, social status. Often they were entrusted with a high degree of authority that transcended mere transmission of instructions. The information gathered and communicated by the messenger was diligently sought out and communicated to assure its accuracy and therefore the expeditious and successful conclusion of a matter. If the messenger turned out to be a sluggard (lazy person), the effect would have been unexpectedly bitter."

This got me thinking about my role as an evangelist, new church planter, an ambassador of the gospel of Christ. I will soon (hopefully after the school year is over) ], be moving to Charlotte. Commissioned by the Presbytery of Central Carolina .... But so are you commissioned by the Lord Jesus Christ. The MESSAGE paraphrase puts it this way: "Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: "God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age."

May I/we not bring pain to those who need the message God has given us. May we bring healing, peace, freedom and a SMILE! And may we not be a sluggard with this commission!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Free Advent Songs - and they are really good!

I just downloaded Advent songs!  You can get them for free or pay what you want. 

Here’s a description of the album from Sojourn’s website:
“The emphasis here is on the already/ not-yet tension of Advent, the season of waiting and anticipation before Christmas. Advent comes to us in the darkest season of the year — a season when the nights are long, the days are cold, and we look with anticipation for the return of the warmth in the spring. The songs have both a dark sense of anticipation and glimpses of light dawning in the face of the Christ child.
“As we celebrate this season, we celebrate that our Messiah has come, and we look with longing to the day when he comes again. As St. John says, ‘Amen! Come Lord Jesus.’”

Advent Devotional

As a family we have always done devotions in the mornings.  I am not saying that every morning we have had devotions.  There have been times we haven't done it because of scheduling purposes, etc., but what I am saying is that mornings have always been the default setting.  We as a family decided to give it a go for evenings and it is fabulous.  Maybe it is just going to be another season, but right now it works very well.  Before it was whoever was up, took the kids to school, didn't have an early morning appointment, etc... Now we have devotions at 7 pm every night and we are all together.  I love it.  Ken has chosen an advent theme that he found off the computer which is simple, but keeps us looking forward to what we are supposed to look forward to.  We use the projector and his computer to project it up on the wall of the lake house about ten feet across.  Even Bama gets involved.  Every night she follows the star as it cascades across the wall and begins to growl and bark.  I think it's cute, Ken thinks it's distracting!  
I am posting this because it has worked so well for us, and I really wanted you to know.  The computer aspect has kept the kids involved and attentive.  Anyway, for what it is worth, an idea for you all.  

Awaiting the Bridegroom to come sweep me away................Lynn

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Random Items of interest

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Alabama is behind at halftime

But I am cheering hard! Behind 17-10.

hours later...

Alabama got a lead and then Tim Tebow took over with great skill - should be Heisman Trophy winner again.

Florida wins the SEC Championship 31-20. Now it is on to the BCS SUGAR BOWL for Alabama.

Prefect regular season for the Crimson Tide, let's see if we can end the year with a win and make it a 13-1 year!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Do you have a Wayward Child?

I read this short encouragement and was going to file it away for the future but decided to post it here. 

I think this is good advice and well worth your reading! You might not need it now ...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

All I really want for Christmas

I have gotten e-mails from my kids at college with links to what they want for Christmas. Ugghs, Garmin running watch, some kind of purse, North Face coats ... even tonight I announced that I wanted a satellite radio & a new trolling motor. So we all have our wants.

While researching Advent music (See previous post), I found a song I had never heard before about Christmas - that I think links us to what Christians became known for - being families to the unwanted.

Steven Curtis Chapman sings this - he, as many of you know has adopted children in the last 6 or so years. This last May his youngest, Maria, was killed in their driveway.

This makes be rethink my materialistic tendencies. Enjoy the song - as I said I had never heard it before today! And those of you with only 2 kids really listen to it! (Fruitful and multiply means at least 4! With 2 kids you only replace yourselves - been saying that for years!)

O Holy Night

Our family started last night having Advent worship at 7 PM. We intend to do this every night not matter who is here or what is going on. In preparation, I have been researching on the internet Advent songs, worship material ... Did I tell you we are using the video projector and and the computer which makes it fun and interactive.

In my research I found the following information about one of my favorite hymns: 
The Story Behind O Holy Night

O Holy Night was written by Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure in 1847. The music was written by Adolphe Charles Adams.

Placide was known for his poetry, and the lyrics to hte song are certainly poetry. He was approached by his parish priest to write something for the Christmas Mass, and this is what he came up with. He used the Gospel of Luke as his guide, and imagined what witnessing the birth of Jesus was like. He titled it "Cantique de Noel," which has become known in English as "O Holy Night."

The song was performed three weeks after the music and lyrics were finalized at a Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.

It spread across the church and France very fast, and was performed in many Catholic services. Later, when Placide left the church, and it was discovered that Adams was a Jew, the heads of the French Catholic Church decreed it "unsuitable" for a Catholic Mass. However, it continued to be popular and sung throughout France.

Legend has it that on Christmas Eve 1871, in the midst of fierce fighting between the armies of Germany and France, during the Franco-Prussian War, a French soldier suddenly jumped out of his muddy trench. Both sides stared at the seemingly crazed man. Boldly standing with no weapon in his hand or at his side, he lifted his eyes to the heavens and sang, "Minuit, Chretiens, c'est l'heure solennelle ou L'Homme Dieu descendit jusqu'a nous," the beginning of "Cantique de Noel." After completing all three verses, a German infantryman climbed out his hiding place and answered with, "Vom Himmel noch, da komm' ich her. Ich bring' euch gute neue Mar, Der guten Mar bring' ich so viel, Davon ich sing'n und sagen will," the beginning of Martin Luther's robust "From Heaven Above to Earth I Come." The story goes that the fighting stopped for the next twenty-four hours while the men on both sides observed a temporary peace in honor of Christmas day. Perhaps this story had a part in the French church once again embracing "Cantique de Noel" in holiday services.

John Sullivan Dwight introduced O Holy Night to America. But he was an old man when on Christmas Eve, 1906, Reginald Fessenden broadcast a man's voice over the airwaves. What he broadcast was the story of the birth of Christ from the Gospel of Luke. Following his reading, he picked up his violin and played O Holy Night - which became the first song ever sent through airwaves.

Now it is a song recognized the world over and sung by many people. It is difficult, musically, because of the range a voice needs to cover all the notes that drop low, and go up to the high A. It can be difficult to play accompaniment for the song because of all the triplets in the music. But it is wonderful when done well, and has been sung for many Christmas Masses and celebrations around the world.

Here are the lyrics - notice especially the last verse. And here is a video of someone who knows the King singing about Him!

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining;
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here came the wise men from Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger,
In all our trials born to be our Friend!
He knows our need—to our weakness is no stranger.
Behold your King; before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King; before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His Gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His Name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy Name!
Christ is the Lord! O praise His name forever!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Another Thing Girls have Over Guys

According to an article in NEW SCIENTIST entitled, "Ladies, your hands are a zoo," you ladies are dangerous! We knew that anyway but now we have proof!

A study showed that even though they wash their hands more frequently, (I guess that is true), women have more kinds of bacteria on their hands than men do. The study showed that five kinds of bacteria were present on all people, but even on a single person (don't know about a married person - maybe they meant something else ...) the bacteria on a dominant hand was differend than on a non-dominant hand. The researchers from the Univ. of Colorado were surprised by the differences between men and women and speculate that factors like "sweat, sebum production (don't know what that is but is sounds bad) hormones (we buy them in our house), and even the use of cosmetics (you mean we buy germs ...)" could contribute to the difference.

This reminds me of a story I tell about my Grandmother Margaret, who died at 101 and was so special to me. She was a long time Presbyterian but when she moved to Richmond she considered herself a missionary to the Methodist. Was a member of Centenary UMC in downtown Richmond for probably over 60 years. Well one day she told me that the new preacher was changing things that she did not like. He wore a robe that was like the pope's. Not a preaching robe like most protestants but kinda weird in her mind. But what really bothered her about his changes was the way he changed the way you take communion. Methodist always come up for the Lord's Supper and mostly use the prayer bench and partake. The new preacher, a Dr. Somebody, wanted to place the bread wafer into the mouths of the congregants. Grandma Margaret's not so silent protest was, "I am not going to do that, I was married to a man, and raised a man and I know that you never know where a man's hands have been!"

I guess if she was still alive she would find this research somewhat suspect! But it would be great to hear her tell that story again!