Tag Archives: Russell Moore

Wednesday Worship – A Mighty Fortress Is Our God – Martin Luther – 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation

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“Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.”Psalm 46:10-11

In the dark days of oppression, the great Reformer Martin Luther would sing in the streets of Eisenach, Germany, both to encourage himself and those within hearing. He wrote many hymns, but this one, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, written in 1527, became his most well-known. Inspired by Psalm 46, it became the heart cry of the Protestant Reformation.

[This year, 2017, marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The worldwide celebrations culminate on October 31.]

‘A Mighty Fortress’ so captured the spirit of the Protestant Reformation that when Protestant emigrants were forced into exile or martyrs went to their death, ‘A Mighty Fortress’ always seemed to be the song they chose to sing.” – Diane Severance

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Severance also wrote about Luther’s love of music:
“Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise. She is a mistress and governess of those human emotions…which control men or more often overwhelm them…Whether you wish to comfort the sad, to subdue frivolity, to encourage the despairing, to humble the proud, to calm the passionate, or to appease those full of hate…what more effective means than music could you find?”Martin Luther

As Movement Church gathers, we sometimes sing this great hymn. In the past, this song was usually accompanied with pipe organ or orchestra. These days, electric guitar riffs and a measured drum beat remind us of the call to remember who God is…even in the midst of great struggle and the hard press of a changing culture.

This God is the Lord of the church…and we are His people…not just some seemingly silly church people clubbing together. His people are meant to be ready for whatever comes. Not because we are great or able, but because He is…He is our mighty fortress!

Worship with me in the way we learned this great hymn many years ago or in the more contemporary style of HeartSong (below).

A mighty fortress is our God, A bulwark never failing;
Our shelter He, amid the flood Of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and pow’r are great, And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, The Man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth is His name, From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And tho’ this world, with devils filled, Should threaten to undo us;
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim — We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, For lo! his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly pow’rs — No thanks to them — abideth:
The Spirit and the gifts are ours Thro’ Him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go, This mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.*

*Lyrics and Hymn Story: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God – Tim Challies

The Weak Man Behind A Mighty Fortress – Mark Galli

Martin Luther Documentary (PBS) – Martin Luther: The Idea That Changed the World

Luther (2003 film starring Joseph Fiennes)

Approaching the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation – Thomas Ryan

The Reformation at 500 – Russell Moore

Can Catholics Celebrate the Reformation? – Jacob Kohlhaas

Advent – Welcoming the Savior at Christmastime – Holding a Place For His Coming

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So it begins. December 1. Turn around…and Christmas will be done. NOOOOO! There are those out there who respect no day over another (Romans 14:5). I get that. Still, Christmas is such a sweet time of year. What’s not to love about it? All the bright colors and shimmering lights in the dark of winter (granted, this is in the Northern Hemisphere). The many expressions of generosity (gift-giving among family and friends and kindnesses to strangers near and far). The secular and sacred observances that we share within this holiday and holy day.

“Christmas is too big for one day”, writes Andreas Köstenberger, and I agree. As the years go by, some Christmas observances deepen while others diminish. I’m becoming a lack-luster gift-giver, but cherish times together more than ever. December weekends full of parties just make the month fly by, but quieter more intimate times are the experiences I long for.

Connecting with people, savoring the beauty around us, remembering Christmases past, and pondering the wonder of what it all means. This Christmas miracle…this Child who would usher in a redemption only He could provide…from before Creation through a coarse cradle all the way to a Cross.

I need to stretch time in December…to go as deep as is humanly possible into the reality of this Savior King…to think long on the incredible truth of what happened there – To hold a place for His coming…“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
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Celebrating Advent (the “coming” of Christ) marks out the month of December in Sundays. If it’s not your tradition, you can search it out easily (here is one resource). For me, it doesn’t require prescribed readings and lighting candles…but I’m beginning to delight in those expressions of worship, as well.blog-advent-church-stage-design-ideasPhoto Credit: Church Stage Design Ideas

Advent, to me, incorporates prayer, meditation on God’s Word, worship in song…and quiet. A quiet that gives space for God to fill it with Himself. That is Advent. The coming of Christ into hearts made ready for Him.

Are there times in December when darkness attempts to extinguish the Light? Sure…I’ve known those times…that’s actually one reason I love Christmas so much…celebrating the coming of a Savior who shines light into the darkest of our nights…setting us free from what keeps us in darkness…because He came.

Not celebrate?

Your burden is too great to bear?
Your loneliness is intensified during this Christmas season?
Your tears have no end?

Not celebrate?

You should lead the celebration!
You should run through the streets
to ring the bells and sing the loudest!
You should fling the tinsel on the tree,
and open your house to your neighbors, and call them in to dance!
For it is you above all others who know the joy of Advent.
It is unto you that a Savior is born this day,
One who comes to lift your burden from your shoulders,
One who comes to wipe the tears from your eyes.
You are not alone,
for He is born this day to you. Ann Weems

In the hordes of shoppers and restaurants bursting with celebrants. In the packed candlelit churches and at boozy company parties. In the silence outside of celebrating Christmas as well as the quiet night within…

You are not alone,
for He is born this day to you.

Christmas Is Too Big For One Day – Why We Celebrate Advent – Andreas Köstenberger – Desiring God

Advent Begins Today – David Mathis – Desiring God

25 Joyful Prayers to Ready Your Heart for Christmas – Candace Crabtree

Good News of Great Joy – Daily Advent Readings – John Piper

The Dawning of Indestructible Joy – Daily Advent Readings – John Piper

Why Advent Is As Important As Christmas – Veronica Neffinger

Hark! The Long-Lost Verses Sing – David Mathis – Desiring God

The Problem with Our Holly Jolly Christmas Songs – Russell Moore

Oh, the People I Meet and the Stuff I Learn – On Twitter

Blog - Twitter3 years ago, I opened a Twitter account as part of a new job as a communications strategist. Prior to this, Facebook was pretty much the extent of social media I regularly used. Entering the trendy Twittersphere has brought me a bit of good-natured grief from my way cooler young adult children, but I stand my ground.

Twitter reminds me of how I felt first reading Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go! “You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.”

I have learned so much from the folks I follow on Twitter (and by default, the folks they follow). They are writers, musicians, theologians, moms, social activists, film makers, entrepreneurs, teachers, artists and athletes. Even how I take in world news is now affected by how these I follow comment on events. It’s surprising how rich a 140-character opinion can be, especially when I am pointed to a link that fills in the rest of the story.

In a world gone texting, a 140-character tweet is really quite substantive.

For the unconvinced of those friends of mine, I want to introduce you to some of the people I follow…just a few, there are many more. What I learn from them each day is well worth the time spent on Twitter. It, like all other social media, can be addictive, so it’s wise to be judicious in how often you check Twitter, but, again, I am thankful for these voices. They have helped me thrive in this world of so many messages. For with Twitter, like Facebook, I choose who I learn from, rather than being bombarded with so. much. noise.

Here are just a few of those I follow and their recent tweets:

Dena Dyer ‏@motherinferior2 34m34 minutes ago

McFarland, USA is a feel-good, inspirational and family-friendly movie–you take your whole family to see it. #supporthegoodstuff

TED Talks ‏@TEDTalks 19m19 minutes ago

#TED2015 begins in 3… 2… 1…

Russell Moore ‏@drmoore 2h2 hours ago

Can’t wait for #cafo2015! Will you be there? http://www.cafo2015.org

[CAFO – Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit April 30-May 1, Nashville, Tn.]

Micah Fries ن ‏@micahfries 2h2 hours ago

I’m pretty sure the New Jerusalem will be a bit like middle Tennessee today; 78, sunny & 30% humidity.

WSJ Sports ‏@WSJSports 2h2 hours ago

Who’s going to win in #MarchMadness? The Madness Machine will guide you through your bracket: http://on.wsj.com/1EkwGVW 

Intl Justice Mission ‏@IJM 3h3 hours ago

Thanks to @AmazonSmile, your shopping can help rescue slaves. Go here (http://smile.amazon.com/  ) + choose us! #YouShopAmazonGives

Business Insider ‏@businessinsider 3h3 hours ago

Amazing photos of a Pacific island nation just devastated by a monster cyclone http://read.bi/1HVSivB 

Mike C ‏@blogboy2 3h3 hours ago

7 Tips to Turn Your Clutter Into Cash Through Garage Sales: http://ht.ly/Koub3  #realestate

Trevin Wax ن ‏@TrevinWax 9h9 hours ago

Repentance has a fragrance; hypocrisy, a stench. http://ow.ly/KmjTB

Brad Hambrick ن @BradHambrick  ·  22h 22 hours ago

Video Overcoming Depression-Anxiety A Responsibility Paradigm (Step 9 of 9) STEWARD all of my life for God’s glory

Marilyn Gardner @marilyngard  ·  16h 16 hours ago

Christopher Yuan 袁幼軒 @christopheryuan  ·  Mar 14

Study: Parents who are absorbed by smartphones have more negative interactions with their children http://yuan2.us/288

Drew Daywalt retweeted

Penguin Books Canada @PenguinCanada  ·  Feb 28

The crayons are coming! The crayons are coming! The Day The Crayons Quit Is getting a sequel: http://bit.ly/1LLRLi6 

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