Showing posts from September, 2012

Sunday Singables: "Taste and See"

"Taste and See" verses by Isaac Watts / chorus & music by Joshua Huff (2009), released by Joshua Huff on Enriched Affections Click here to listen -->  Taste and See  from "Enriched Affections" I wrote this song a few years ago in preparation for one of our Summer Camps where the theme was "Taste and See". Psalm 34 was the text for memorization that year, and I found Isaac Watts' verses very encouraging, mainly because they came straight from scripture. All I did was add the chorus and the melody and here we are. Why I recommend this song for worship- Colossians 3:16 is a key verse for any worship leader. It tells us to "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God." This song fills all three of these categories, being directly from a Psalm, functioning as a hymn, and encouraging the spiri

Who are you voting for?

So, have you decided yet? The national election is about a month away and there are many things to decide. "Who should I vote for?" is probably the main question you are thinking about. Normally I don't like to get into politics in a forum like this, but since this is a big issue, it is one that needs some attention and some perspective. As you think about who you should vote for, you may ask yourself several questions. "Who is better qualified for the job?" "What are the candidates track records?" "Who thinks and will run the country like I would?" A popular one is, "Am I better off now than I was four years ago?" If you respond with a no then you'll probably vote for someone new, and if yes then you'll stick with what's working. However, as a Christian, all of these questions have a larger question that must be answered first to shift all these other ones into the proper light. We must ask, "Is the Kingdom o

The Night Before Christmas

Too early for Christmas? Are you still gearing up for Halloween or debating how many pumpkins should go on display in your front yard? When you're getting ready for an upcoming Christmas concert, the end of September is about as late in the year as you want to wait before thinking about Christmas. All that is to say I've been thinking about it a lot and listening to a lot of Christmas music, both good and not so good. As I ran through different themes for our upcoming concert with my wife, we listened through the song "The Night Before Christmas" by Steven Curtis Chapman (you can listen to it below). The title caused me to pause... The night before Christmas. Of course, we all think about Christmas eve and singing carols and what the different characters must have been thinking and doing that night, but what about 10 years before Christmas? 100 years? 1,000 years? What about then? The night before the day of Christ's birth was probably like any other ev

Does cool ministry equal dying ministry?

I was really challenged by this article. I always need to be going back to Scripture as my manual for ministry rather than the culture. Is cool important for youth ministry?

Sunday Singables: "Come, People of the Risen King"

"Come, People of the Risen King"  by Keith and Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townend (2009), released by the Getty's on Awaken the Dawn Why I recommend this song for worship- We typically use this song as a call to worship. After all, the words themselves are a call to come and worship the Lord. The Getty's do a wonderful job with this one, making the melody very singable and having verses with deep content and a chorus that is simple and calls us to rejoice. Sometimes, a song may have just the good content in the lyrics or just an emotionally charged, yet very simple chorus. I love how this song has both. Our minds are charged up with the truths of our salvation, the unity we have in Christ, and the rest all find as we worship God, then we are able to rejoice because of those truths in the chorus. Sometimes I do this with two separate songs, like singing Thy Mercy , then going right into something like I Love You, Lord  to respond to what was just sung. This part

Jesus' Wife? How should we respond

So now we are hearing that Jesus was married, again. If you haven't heard this rumor/story/teaching/whatever you want to call it, you'll hear it soon enough. I first came across this idea reading the FICTION book The Da Vinci Code  which many took to be a fiction book based on actual events from the life of Christ. Now the issue of Jesus being married is in the news again. You can see it on Fox News, CNN, and even SNL's Weekend Update. Every is excited that this time we have concrete proof from a more reputable source, or is it so reputable? I found this article extremely helpful in having not only a Biblical, but a logically scientific approach to the new document that some are saying proves that Jesus had a wife. I hope it helps you out as you engage in conversation with others about this news story. The Far Less Sensational Truth about Jesus Wife (from The Gospel Coalition)

Teachers and Midwives

I am in the midst of one of those "swamped" or "in the weeds" moments with my seminary homework and other responsibilities, so today's post will be a little shorter. I thought I would post a quote that encouraged me about the role of being a teacher and a witness to what our great Teacher is and does. Let me know what you think: "'...A human teacher, be he as wise as Socrates, can only assist at the birth of truth and knowledge in another person; he can be no more than a midwife, so to speak. The identity of the teacher is as unimportant as the moment when the disclosure is made. For the teacher is a mere midwife; only God can beget. But what if God does beget? What if God comes himself to teach and impart new life? Why then, the Teacher becomes all-important, and the moment of illumination or entering on this new life becomes highly significant. This is in fact, [the Apostle] John is convinced, what has happened. The Absolute became our Contemporary;

The Church depends on me?

Do you ever have that moment when you're reading a passage and something brand new hits you? A friend of mine calls this his "Aha!" moment. I had one of those this morning listening to a lecture about 1 Corinthians 12, particularly verses 4-7 :   "Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good." My moment came when I realized how the trinity is working in this passage. Of course, you see the trinity here, don't you; Spirit, Lord (Christ), and God all a part of this process? I think I had seen it before, but hadn't realized why it was important. This passage says that all parts of the Godhead are working together to equip each Christian for unique service in his or her church. I'll use myself and music as an example. When

Dogma and Drama - Seeing God

"The dogma is the drama." This is a quote I've heard often, probably from Michael Horton the most. It took me a while to see what it meant, but now that I do, I see it played out all over scripture. Here's a simple explanation in case you are already lost. Dogma is basically a teaching about something. Church dogma is the teaching of the church, or the things that define what the church is. It is a definition of something. Dogma regarding God might be something like, "God is loving, sovereign, patient, gracious, holy, and just." However, we don't find scripture speaking like this about too many things, much less God, until well into Exodus, and even then it is just a verse here and there. But God doesn't limit Himself to being revealed in little, dogmatic sentences. He reveals Himself through the drama of scripture. "The dogma is the drama" tells us that the truths about God, really all of theology, are revealed not in concise, well-stru

Sunday Singables: "Thy Mercy, My God"

"Thy Mercy, My God"  by John Stocker (1776), released by Indelible Grace on Pilgrim Days: Indelible Grace II  and by Caedmon's Call on In the Company of Angels: A Call to Worship Our church will begin its study through the book of Romans this week. That book always makes me think about the grace and mercy of God. God's mercy (not getting what we do deserve) should focus us on Christ. After all, what we deserved fell upon Him at the cross. We will be using this song in worship throughout our study in Romans and beyond, and it is already a favorite for our youth ministry. Why I recommend this song for worship- This song has a very flowing, folkish melody that I really enjoy singing. The range isn't too broad and they way the melody flows, it's as if each verse is telling a little story. This is also a very deep song theologically. It isn't difficult to understand, but you could really spend a good amount of time going meditating on each phrase of

Listen to the South: "God first, neighbor second"

"Christianity of the southern hemisphere should help us gain perspective at this point and strengthen our commitment to the biblical story, reminding us that our first responsibility is to God and his revelation, while our responsibility to our neighbor is secondary. We cannot allow the demands of our neighbors for free choice-whether it be in sexual orientation or abortion or pornography or consumerism or use of the world's resources-to determine the agenda of Christians today. (emphasis mine)  Before any other consideration, we are called to be faithful to God." - from Living at the Crossroads I came across this quote today while reading for one of my seminary classes. I was struck with how it hits the problem of the American church right on the head. Liberal and conservative churches have begun to treat the church like it is consumer driven rather than Gospel and Word driven. When the second greatest commandment of loving your neighbor comes before the first great

Technology Theology

If you are into technology at all then you know Sept. 12 was a big day. If you aren't that into tech and all the gadgets that go with it, then let me fill you in. Sept. 12 was the big unveil of the new iPhone 5 which many apple users and iPhone buyers have been waiting for and speculating over for months. Personally, I am an Android/Windows guy, but that's just me, and in our culture of tolerance, I'm okay if you are a fan of Apple or Blackberry or whatever kind of tech you enjoy. I think apples and blackberries make great pies and jellies, but again, that's just me. As our culture continues to be more reliant on our technology, me included, I wonder where it is all leading. Is it really helping us be more productive or just a causing us to be more distracted? Are relationships being strengthened by having hundreds of "friends" through the internet, or are they being harmed? There are dozens, if not hundreds, of books written about this idea, and I don'

Divine Tension on 9/11

It was a comfortable morning and I was on my way to chapel. I had just transferred to my new school in Clarks Summit, PA and I was only two weeks into the first semester. As I entered the student center I noticed a crowd around the little 20" T.V. in the cafe outside the main meeting room. I immediately recognized the twin towers front and center on screen (from my love of New York sitcoms in the '90s of course). One was smoking, the other was about to be hit... Thus began a day like no other. I'm sure you all remember where you were on that day 11 years ago. Amazingly, there are many alive now who were too young to remember. Funny how time passes so quickly. Maybe you were at school too, or headed to work, or starting to clean your home or go grocery shopping. Wherever you were, landmark events like this fix those situations in our hearts and minds. As the students in my school were herded into the meeting room, the president of the school gave us regular updates. Jus

Sunday Singables: On Jordan's Stormy Banks

"On Jordan's Stormy Banks"  by Samuel Stennett, released by Jars of Clay on Redemption Songs , Indelible Grace on Pilgrim Days: Indelible Grace II , and BBC's Chapel Band on Gospel Worship  (along with many others) Click to listen -->  On Jordan's Stormy Banks - BBC Chapel Band from Gospel Worship  (2004) This song is a bit older than our last one. You can find the lyrics in almost any hymnal you pick up in almost any church. Arrangements will differ from minor, sad sounding ones to the more major, uplifting tune that is featured above. The recording I've posted is of the chapel band I was a part of in school (that's me on the bass and singing during the chorus). It is closest to the one that we do in our church fairly regularly. Why I recommend this song for worship- This song has a very particular function in our worship service. It serves to focus us on our rest, our eternal destination. After all, we aren't really from this world and we

Don't tell me I'm wrong...

We live in a world full of post-modern ideas. Maybe you've heard of post-modernism, maybe not. It is a major worldview shaping how we look at life, culture, really everything around us. It centers on a few major ideas. One is that there are no absolute standards to define things like beauty, art, truth, etc. Maybe you've seen the "art" shown below. It is a simple bicycle wheel on display. This is art, and who are you to say otherwise? Without a standard to measure it by, anything can be whatever we want it to be, and who are you to say that it is or isn't beautiful or artistic? You can see the problem. There is no absolute authority. When we start flushing this principle out in other areas, it becomes much more serious. If you have no absolute authority, what is right and wrong becomes defined by each individual. Something can be true for me and not necessarily true for you. In simple things, we all recognize this to be correct. Soy milk might be great for you

Controversial Topics

I have finally begun my third and final class of this semester: The Spirit, Church, and Last Things. Now, I know what you are thinking. Can they possibly lump three more controversial topics into one class? That remains to be seen. As I look at these topics I see the three main issues that determine where someone may or may not worship. If you have a heavy emphasis on the Spirit and the gifts of tongues, healing, miracles, etc., then you will likely go to a church that reflects that. If you believe in infant baptism, congregational church government, men or women pastors, or see the church as an option rather than a command, those will also determine what you will do with your Sunday. If you believe in a literal rapture or that the great tribulation has already occured, you will again have some decisions to make about where you worship. I don't know if this is good or bad. There are very educated, godly men and women who fall on all sides of these arguments. However, I would say


Yesterday I finished up reading through the Psalms, or rather listening through them during my drive back from seminary in St. Louis. I have to say, you certainly get a different perspective when you go through the whole book of Psalms in two sittings. There are many themes that jump out, like praising God, asking for deliverance from the wicked, seeing God as the Creator and sustainer, and many others. One theme that really shined clearly from the last third of the book was the theme of remembering. If you are like me, it is easy for you to become discouraged. In the old days, that was called melancholy. Today some might call it depression. Maybe it is being in a funk, down in the dumps, or feeling low. Whatever you call it, you know it when you feel it. Often times this is brought on when I feel overwhelmed or that there is a situation I just can't see my way out of. My heart wants to know if there is light at the end of the tunnel, if deliverance will come. At times like these

Sunday Singables: "Rise" by Kari Jobe

Today is the first of the Sunday Singables posts. Being a worship pastor, I come across a lot of worship music; some good and some not so good. It is often hard to find usable music for congregational singing, even if the song itself is pretty good. There are many songs that I enjoy listening to, and even singing along with, but that would not fit in a church service (an example would be another wonderful song from this same album, " What Love is This? ") I have to take into account the rhythm, the lyrics, and whether or not it is something my congregation would be able to sing. Thankfully, there is a lot of music that is great on all counts. Each Sunday I will try to feature one of those songs that we use in our congregation for worship. "Rise"  by Kari Jobe, from the album Where I Find You  released in 2012 Why I recommend this song for worship -  We will be doing this song next Sunday in worship at our church. Why? Because it says a lot about the God of