Saint Patrick’s day musing: learning from the Faith of the Irish

 Today, 3/17/2012 is Saint Patrick’s day. A day where people celebrate their Irish heritage. This writer does have family who immigrated from Ireland, so the day has some meaning. Yet, the meaning for me does not rest on green beer and alcohol, but rather the roots of the Church in Ireland. There is a lot of history related to Ireland. Now I am not talking about the modern and infamous Protestant and Catholic battles that can easily focus on. The history is not even the legend and stories related to Saint Patrick. Rather, it is the unique elements of the early Church in Ireland and what it should point us to today. It is very worthwhile to examine and explore the early church history of Ireland. Granted, this writer has only viewed a few articles here and there over years and seen varied writings about “Celtic Christianity” but there is a core element that runs through the early Church and Ireland that want to discuss and encourage others to take to heart. Some of these thoughts are triggered by an old article found here: http://www.cslewis.org/journal/hearts-and-minds-aflame-for-christ-irish-monks%e2%80%94a-model-for-making-all-things-new-in-the-21st-century. There are three key elements of the Irish faith that is important for us to learn from: growth focused, other focused, and wholly surrendered. Let’s look at each area briefly.

 The early church in Ireland stressed growth with a balance of both knowledge and spiritual.  The encouraged discipleship. Growth of the whole person. They developed schools, monestaries and varied means of encourage growth in relating to God and growing in knowledge.  Ignorance was not tolerated. In order for people to grow in truth they needed to learn, so people were taught through a variety of means. Growth was not just limited to education either as creativity was embraced and used to spread and teach the truth. The just not teach things from a growth in knowledge standpoint but encourage over all growth. They truly embraced Philippians 4:8 (ESV) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. This focus should encourage us to each continue to learn and grow much like the early Irish Church.

The second area to examine is that the early Irish Church was other focused. They engage others. It starts with Saint Patrick who is rumored to have brought the whole Island of Ireland to be disciples of Jesus. Now, while that is interesting piece of legend, those reach in Ireland were reached because of actions Patrick took to share God’s love with others. The same is true for Columban, who brought the Gospel from Ireland to England and beyond. The Gospel spread greatly because of early Irish Christians. They lived not to hold back but to share and give to others. They did so by word and deed. They created great works that spread. Even the Hymn “Be Thou My Vision” has Irish history. The used the gifts they had and created whatever God put on their heart, by it for a few, or be a reach of many. They gave of themselves to others. Too often in today’s church the focus becomes on what is good for self and what makes me comfortable in the world we live in. We want the world to shape to what makes us comfortable. The early Irish Church impacted the world by engaging with the Gospel and living fully as salt and light. It is a challenge to us to be that engaging and not dependent on what others give, but to give what we have to give to reach others.

The third area is that of a while surrender. The early Irish church recognized that whole submission to God was vital. They gave of all. They even often pursued a “Green martyrdom” of giving up all of self. They encouraged the fully giving of all not just for the purposes of self, but to reach and touch others. A relationship with God was considered, that a relationship involving the whole person with total commitment. In terms of what is best for the whole person, it all stopped and started with growth in knowledge of God. As one grew deeper in knowing God, one also grew in experience of God’s love. As that grew, in turn it flowed to those with whom they interacted. That love built great passion for God and others and that passion was seen in their expressions of music and art. Today, we settle for “good enough” and too often simply lean on the works of others. We sing songs with passion, but do we create? We recycle what others have done, but how much of gifts and self do we give? Do we have limits, do we give all that God asks of us? These are things the example of many of the early Irish Church pushes us to examine.

Admittedly, the early Irish church was not perfect and there are elements of what they said and did that are flawed, for we are all but just a part with limits that skewed by our own minds and imaginations. The early Irish Church though did not shrink back. They advanced the Gospel. They encouraged growth with actions that impacted others with a passionate whole surrender to God. This is the Faith of The Irish that should impact each of use today.

Musings on a Night at the Orchestra

This weekend I had the pleasure of spending some time at the Minnesota Orchestra at an inside the classics concert featuring music of Maurice Ravel.  In particular, the concert included orchestration from Chloe and Daphnis and the music poem, La Valse.  The evening was educational and intriguing. The music of Maurice Ravel is unique. He uses complex harmonics, repetition of simple strands of music, and gradual building to a full crescendo in his orchestration. An a piece composed by Maurice Ravel, there are groups of instruments that have specific sounds that make up the whole, and within that group the instruments may very differently with complex harmonics contributing to the whole of the sound. 

In terms of the way Maurice Ravel puts music together, my thoughts go to the similarity of how the body of Christ, the Church, is supposed to function.  We all have gifts and talents. Those talents all several similar functions but may differ slightly.  Each gift serves a role.  And just as in any orchestration, any one piece can be critical to the whole sound, so it is in the body, what each of us have is crucial to what God intends. It may not seem like much to the naked eye but to God it is crucial.  In fact, the Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 12 that it is the parts that seem inglorious that are indispensable. A piece of Ravel orchestration highlights how that plays when one sound deviation can be key element to the overall sound intended.

The night at the Orchestra also illustrated another brought my mind to another key point.  The element brought up is that of distraction.   During the performance there was a family in front of us with a couple children, a brother and sister, close to each other in age.  The children were having difficulty attending to the music and the father had fallen asleep during the music.  Well, one thing led to another and the family ended up engaging in behavior that served as a distraction for others. There were those who attended the concert with me and who love classic music but were distracted by the behaviors of those in attendance.  The thought comes to mind is that is often the points where we are being selfish, disengaged, or purposefully disruptive that can distract others from attending to the true picture of the good news of the Gospel.  It does not take much to distract others and we maybe oblivious to the disruption we cause others, but rest assured that disruption happens. Now, rest assured there were consequences for varied members of the distracting family, and in the same way, there are consequences that occur for each of us when we distract from the Gospel, for God does discipline those we love and some times what we say or do greatly impacts the perspective and views of others.

Video Selection: Jesus You are Holy performed by Charolette K.

In response to my last article my sister-in-law Mary Blake referenced a song, Jesus You Are Holy. It is a worship song written and performed by Katie Miner on her Live From Sunset Strip album published November 16, 1999.  My understanding is Charolette K. made some alterations from the original arrangement, yet this is the only version I have ever heard.

Here are the lyrics to the song. Hope it blesses you.

(Chorus)

Jesus You are Holy

Jesus You are holy

You are glorious

You are worthy of all praise…

All praise

Jesus You are holy

You are glorious

You are worthy of all praise…

All praise, all of my praise… all of my praise

1)You have seen me in the darkness

You have covered me with light

Rescued me from sin and fire

Behold! Your glory now in sight.

Yes, the glory of the cross

2. You have taken my disease and

You have healed me with your blood

Joy and sorrow deeply mingled

Behold! Your glory now in sight.

Yes, the glory of the cross

Video Selection: He’s Everything to Me

This is a song the Holy Spirit has me recalling and playing in my mind recently.  None of the video’s catches the memory of the way the song was sung at campfires, at youth groups, or any get together of believers.  This song does really capture and reflect on the essence of God’s divine empathy. Here are the lyrics:

In the stars His handiwork I see,
On the wind He speaks with majesty,
Though He ruleth over land and sea,
What is that to me?
I will celebrate Nativity,
For it has a place in history,
Sure, He came to set His people free,
What is that to me?

Till by faith I met Him face to face,
and I felt the wonder of His grace,
Then I knew that He was more  than just a
God who didn’t care,
That lived a way out there and

Now He walks beside me day by day,
Ever watching o’er me lest I stray,
Helping me to find that narrow way,
He’s Everything to me.

I-Phone Application Review: The Wave Study Bible

Recently I had an acquaintance from an online Christian forum make me aware of a new I-Phone application. The application is a study Bible application that is being called “The Wave Study Bible.” The name appears to stem from a word picture used by Dr. Noel and Dr. Denise Enete in their book “How to Read the Bible So God Speaks to You.” Reading the Bible is compared to learning to surf a wave through proper use of skills. The Wave Study Bible is promoted as a tool that can help you get the most out of reading the Bible. The Study Bible does include experts from the book authored by the Enetes that encourages a four step approach to reading the Bible: looking at facts, finding lessons, personally being challenged by the lesson, and responding to the challenge. Providing this information along with the study Bible certainly helps promote reading the Bible in such a way to grow in relationship with God. Now let us look at how it is set up as a study bible application.

The Wave Study Bible can be downloaded free of charge. It comes with the original Greek, King James Translation, NET version, and God’s Word Translation for no cost. It has an array of other translations that can be purchased for $14.99. Currently available for purchase are New American Standard Version, New King James Version, New International Version, New International Reader’s Version, and The Message. A feature of the original language version of Greek is that you can select a word in the Greek and learn the definition of the word in English and the function and tense of the word in the Greek. Using the search feature it is very easy to find other occurrences of the word. The Wave Study Bible also allows you to engage in parallel study and are able to compare translations side by side using the landscape mode on the I-Phone. The Wave Study Bible does not come with any commentaries as their goal is promoting independent study of the Bible. The Wave Study Bible does include a share option which basically involves emailing a passage or one of the Bible tutor selections which are experts from the Enete’s book.

In terms of overall functioning of the application, generally it is rather intuitive. It does include some small pictorial tutorials to explain tips and tricks that might be missed or confusing. Personally, I found the original language feature to be outstanding and of most benefit. It saves from having to do an online search of the Greek and makes it quite easy to examine additional uses of the word. The search features are intuitive and easy to use and you should be able to easily navigate your way to any passage or book of the Bible. Obtaining other translations is also easy to do. The Wave Study Bible definitely is an easy to use tool that can help a person effectively study God’s word independently. The bookmark and history features can be helpful to quick returning to a particular passage.

The only real critique I have of the Wave Study Bible is that it relies heavily on color backgrounds to differentiate one translation from another. Now for most people the color backgrounds would provide no difficulty but for any potential user that has vision problems would likely be unable to use the application in the current form. Other current downsides are the limited number of available translations and the lack of the original Hebrew. Additional offerings and the addition of the original Hebrew are projects that are to be included. It is not clear if the application will be available to other smart form platforms. If the application is not ported to the other platforms it would be a loss.

Prior to the development of this Application the YouVersion I-phone application was the most comprehensive. There are distinct differences in the two applications and personally found The Wave Study Bible to be easier to navigate and move from passage to passage. The YouVersion application involved a few more steps to navigate to passages or even download translations. The YouVersion application though has significantly higher number of applications available including some in languages other than English. In addition, the YouVersion application allows for online use of multiple translations without needing to purchase them. In terms of choosing between the two applications, currently the Wave Study Bible is being used more as it handles more smoothly and offer features not found in the competing application. Overall, it is worthwhile to download and use The Wave Study Bible as it will enrich your study of God’s word. If you have another application you will decide for yourself which you will use more but I anticipate that the Wave Study Bible would be utilized more frequently. I-Pad users in particular would find a lot of benefit to using this application as the features would be highlighted on the larger screen (with the exception of the low-vision issues.)

The Wonderful Cross- Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman

Christian Creativity: Sand Art- The Passion by Joe Castillo

Just learned of some Christians using the medium of sand art.  I once saw a video of sand art before and found it interesting but empty as it wasn’t being used to point to Jesus.  I did not look around at that time to see if anyone was using the medium to point to Jesus.  Joe Castillo is one such artist. Will post other videos at another point and time but wanted to highlight this one.  It also should encourage all to use your gifts in a way that points to Jesus to build His Kingdom.