January 20, 2006

baptism as worship

I'm currently doing research for a paper in my Westminster Standards course on one of the doctrines from the Westminster Confession of Faith. I have chosen to write about Infant Baptism, which has plunged me into reading a great deal about the theology and history of Baptism and the understanding of sacraments. Worship Reformed According to Scripture by Hughes Oliphant Old is one of the better works I have read on the history of the elements of worship, tracing their Biblical roots through the Patriarchs, the Middle Ages, the Reformation, all the way to the 20th Century. At the end of his chapter on Baptism, he has this great summation of the nature of Baptism, which has inspired me to write this post in the first place:
Baptism is the presupposition and basis of all Christian worship. Not only does baptism call us to holiness of life, it consecrates us to the priestly service of prayer and praise (1 Pet. 2:4-10; Rev. 1:5-6). In baptism we are set apart for God's service. At the center of that service is the service of worship. Baptism is a sign at the beginning of the Christian life that to serve God we must turn away from all other forms of service to the gods of this world. It is a sign that to serve God in truth we must be anointed by God's Spirit. It is God's Spirit who fits us and empowers us for his service. True worship is God's work within us, and we serve him best when we give ourselves to him and allow ourselves to become the members of his body. When our hands and our tongues are moved by the Spirit of Christ, we do the work of Christ in this world to the glory of the Father who is in heaven.
Appropriately, this chapter falls at the beginning of this book. Someone could probably write a book unpacking each statement contained in this brief set of lines! I'm reminded of the Westminster Larger Catechism where it talks about "improving our baptism":

Question 167: How is our Baptism to be improved by us?

Answer: The needful but much neglected duty of improving our Baptism, is to be performed by us all our life long, especially in the time of temptation, and when we are present at the administration of it to others; by serious and thankful consideration of the nature of it, and of the ends for which Christ instituted it, the privileges and benefits conferred and sealed thereby, and our solemn vow made therein; by being humbled for our sinful defilement, our falling short of, and walking contrary to, the grace of baptism, and our engagements; growing up to assurance of pardon of sin, and of all other blessings sealed to us in that sacrament; by drawing strength from the death and resurrection of Christ, into whom we are baptized, for the mortifying of sin, and quickening of grace; and by endeavoring to live by faith, to have our conversation in holiness and righteousness, as those that have therein given up their names to Christ; and to walk in brotherly love, as being baptized by the same Spirit into one body.

If only I was able to keep these thoughts in the front of mind each day...

Currently on iTunes: The Arcade Fire, Simon and Garfunkel

January 10, 2006

oi, happy new years!

so I've been sitting on my duff for (nearly) the past month, and I haven't gotten on here to post. how selfish of me! and then I saw that there is a link to this blog from another blog that I read, so I realized I didn't want to get left off someone's list who has been so kind to list me... here's that blog by the way... common grounds, which I know folks that contribute to it, but didn't realize they knew me! if any of you are reading this, thanks! I'll try to be more faithful to my linkage :)

Sarah and I had a great Christmas season with our families... and New Year's Eve we partied with ourselves, counting down with post-stroke Dick Clark and the rest of NYC. this is actually my first time to see the ball drop at the actual stroke of midnight. I've either been in Central Time of Pacific Time, so I would still have to wait an hour or three to actually usher in the new year, in a roundabout way, even though I could still usher in the new year from a different time zone, but it's just not the same, if you know what I mean...

enough semantics!

Sarah has started her new position at the Cliffs and is loving it! in February she'll take a course to get her Real Estate License, and her new boss has been teaching her sales techniques. I think she'll be great at it!

this month, I am taking a course on the Westminster Standards on Saturdays. 4 full-day class meetings and I get 3 credits! pretty cool huh? I've already read A Short History of the Westminster Assembly, and I'm currently in the middle of the Westminster Confession itself. by the last class session, I have to finish an 8-10 page research paper on some doctrine of my choosing. I'm considering Infant Baptism, since during last week's lecture, Dr. Ross (my prof.) said that Baptists understand their doctrine of Baptism extremely well, whereas Presbyterians don't. I figure this is a good a time as any to dig into it. I'll hopefully post any findings here.

when I'm not reading, I'm working in the music ministry at Clemson Pres. we recorded the Christmas Services where we had a full choir and orchestra, and I've been mixing and picking which songs will go on the final record. as of this morning, Dave Conley, music pastor, signed off on the final product and we'll begin duplication by tomorrow. I've never done an orchestral/choir album, so I really enjoyed the challenge of making our album sound like other ones from that genre.

'why release a Christmas CD in the middle of January?' you may ask. well, Dave and I think that this is the best way to break-in the fledgling Recording Ministry of Clemson Pres. we have a lot of plans for projects other than music, so we want our first recording release to be one that the whole congregation was involved in creating. our next release is just around the corner, so read on...

the rest of this week I will be working on the Clemson Pres. Praise Band CD (string session on Thursday) and hope to have it ready for sale by early February. also this week I will be putting the finishing touches on a CD for Chris Granberry, missionary on the Yakama Indian Reservation in Washington state.

on this blog, I'm starting a viewing and listening journal, inspired by Jeff Overstreet at looking closer. thought it would be a good thing to keep track of what I see and hear in the coming year... also, later this week, look for my idea of a "Best of 2005 List"... 'the best of what?' you might ask, but all I'll say is that you'll have to check back and see...

currently on iTunes: NPR's Sunday Puzzle

2006 viewing/listening journal

here's what I've seen/heard so far in 2006 (out of 5 *'s)

May

Benchwarmers ***

April

Madea's Family Reunion ***.5
Me and You and Everyone We Know (DVD) ****

March

Movies
Walk the Line (DVD) ****
Batman Begins (DVD) ****.5 – 2nd viewing
Luther (DVD) ***.5 – 2nd viewing
The Constant Gardener (DVD) ****

Music
Caedmon's Call, Share the Well *****

February

Movies
Hoodwinked ****
Junebug (DVD) ****
Cape Fear (VHS) ****
Millions (DVD) ****.5
Raising Arizona (VHS) ****.5
Monk: Season 3 (DVD)
(affected by Winter Olympics!)

Music
Indelible Grace IV: Beams of Heaven *****
Patty Griffin, A Kiss In Time (Live) ****
the innocence mission, Christ Is My Hope *****
Johnny Cash, The Legend of *****
Thelonius Monk, Monk In Paris: Live At The Olympia *****
Iron & Wine/Calexico, In the Reins ****.5
Belle & Sebastian, selected downloads from The Life Pursuit ***
Hem, selected downloads from No Word From Tom ***** ("So. Central Rain" and "Radiation Vibe")
Spoon, selected downloads from Gimme Fiction **.5
The Decemberists, Castaways and Cutouts
Paste Magazine Sampler 20 – Highlights: "Girl In The War" Josh Ritter; "Seventeen Dirty Magazines" Modern Skirts; "Chaos" Mute Math; "You've Been Faithful To Us Clouds" Half-Handed Cloud

January (includes late-December)

Movies
King Kong ****
Born Into Brothels (DVD) ***** – 2nd viewing
The Office: Series 2 (DVD) ****
24: Season 1 (DVD) ***.5 (only because it took so dang long to finish!)
Murderball ****
Vertigo//2005. U2 Live from Chicago *** (Elevation DVD is better produced)

Music
Imogen Heap, Speak For Yourself **** (stand-out track "Hide and Seek")
The Decemberists, Picaresque ****
Theolonius Monk Quartet with John Coltrane, Live at Carnegie Hall ***** (a must-listen, if not a must-buy!)
The Arcade Fire, Funeral ****.5 (stand-out track "Wake Up")
Rosie Thomas, If Songs Could Be Held ***.5
Alison Krauss & Union Station, Lonely Runs Both Ways ****