Showing posts from January, 2013

Why I'm taking a break from my screens

How many screens do you have? How many times to you look at them each day? Is it a laptop? TV? Tablet? Smartphone? EReader? Lately I've been convicted about my attachment to all these devices. For some reason I feel I have to be connected at all times to the entire world or I might miss something. Whenever my phone or computer beeps it's like a Pavlovian response goes off in my brain. I subconsciously go to the inbox or check my facebook. I have to know why I was alerted. What happened!? Did someone just have a baby? Is my child sick? Did the Cubs win? Oh, one of my friends just posted a video of himself petting a dog. I'm glad I didn't miss that.

My screens are like little windows into other worlds. I can see what's happening in real time all over the place. The problem is, these little windows distract me from what is going on right in front of me. Lately, it seems like these distractions are growing. Thankfully, there are some good things on these screens, like…

Wind-Up Wednesday: SuperBowl Party Etiquette

We are having a Super Bowl party this weekend. Maybe you are too. If so, pay close attention to these helpful tips to make your weekend more enjoyable.

Sunday Singables: "God Moves"

"God Moves" original words by William Cowper, music and additional words by Bob Kauflin, released by Sovereign Grace Music on Worship God Live (2005)

Why I recommend this song for worship-

This song has been incredibly encouraging to me over the years. The doctrine of God's sovereignty over all things is one of the most comforting teachings from scripture. This song explains this with amazing poetic imagery and Biblical truth. The chorus that is added gives a chance for the worshiper to respond with trust and adoration to God. Another benefit to singing this song is that it speaks to those hurting or going through trial. Many songs call us to rejoice in the midst of great blessing, but this song encourages us to rest in God even when everything around us is falling apart.

Changes I've Made- 

The only real change I make when we do this song is in the tempo. We tend to take it a bit slower than the recording in order to make singing the words a little easier for the cong…

To Forgive or To Judge: Ray Lewis & Lance Armstrong

It is so easy to pass judgment on someone else, especially when they deserve it. Each of us loves to serve out justice on our fellow man. Lance Armstrong is one of those who many feel should be judged. After all, he cheated to win bike races and lied about it all these years, only to finally come clean. Is he really sorry, or just trying to gain sympathy? Ray Lewis is another name in the news recently. He is retiring from the NFL after this season and now has a chance to win a Super Bowl championship. However, many find it hard to root for him because of a murder trial he was involved with over a decade ago. He was never found guilty, but it was still pretty suspicious stuff. Is all his good work on and off the field just a cover-up for guilty feelings?

What I find very interesting about both of the situations is that most people don't know either of the men involved, yet we are so quick to speak about them, even slander them publicly, without ever speaking directly to them. Is t…

WindUp Wednesday: Funny Lip-Reading Debate

Welcome to another WindUp Wednesday; a chance to charge your batteries with a few laughs before the rest of the week really begins. I think I received links to the the NFL funny lip-reading YouTube video from about a dozen different people. Maybe you've already seen it. It's pretty good. Below is a video from the same guys poking fun at the first presidential debate from last year. Enjoy!

Worship Pastor Insight: Teaching Obedience

Our church is working its way through the book of Romans. Now, I know I'm not supposed to play favorites with books of the Bible, but Romans is my favorite book, followed closely by 2 Kings. This week we are going through that amazing passage in Romans 6 where Paul encourages us to consider ourselves dead to sin. However, a question arises during this chapter. Since God loves to give grace and we love to sin, shouldn't we just sin more in order to see more of God's grace? Paul responds with a resounding "By no means!"

As I was planning the service this week, I thought a lot about this passage. There aren't a lot of songs that specifically focus on this problem. There are very few that speak about considering yourself dead to sin. So, what can we do to prepare our hearts to hear this message? This is a message that gets to the heart of what motivates our obedience. It speaks to our new life as slaves to Christ rather than slaves to sin. The more I thought abo…

Sunday Singables: "Your Grace Still Amazes Me"

"Your Grace Still Amazes Me" by Shawn Craig & Connie Harrington, released by Phillips, Craig and Dean on Let My Words Be Few (2001)

I was first introduced to this song in college. Many artists have covered it, including Phillips, Craig and Dean (linked above) as well as Steve Green. There is also a choral arrangement available which sounds pretty sweet.

Why I recommend this song for worship-

Our church is working it's way through the book of Romans. One of the common themes of this book is reflecting on God's grace and how that grace should motivate us towards obedience. In chapter six, where we were this morning, the argument is brought up that we could perhaps sin more since that will make God's grace towards us increase. This is a backwards way of looking at grace. If we stand amazed as what God has done in His patience towards us, we should be motivated to obey and please God. That is where this song is helpful. It encourages us emotionally to stand amazed…

Wind-up Wednesday: A Knight for Today

I need to totally do this sometime:

Here's a bonus one from the same guys... don't worry, they have a lot to pick from:

Sunday Singables: "Better Is One Day"

"Better Is One Day" written by Matt Redman, released on Passion: Better Is One Day (1999)

This is the first version I ever heard of this song, released after one of the first Passion celebrations in 1999. Their most recent gathering in Atlanta numbered around 60,000 youth at the Georgia Dome.
Why I recommend this song for worship- 
This song is an echo of Psalm 84. As such, it serves the church well as we are able to sing scripture directly back to God and as an encouragement to one another. It also focuses us on our eternal destination, the courts of God. The melody is very singable and fairly easy to pick up. The rich verses are echoed by a very affectionate chorus which should be our hearts cry as we apply this song: "Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere (from Psalm 84:10)."
Changes I've Made-
The only thing that I wasn't as thrilled about was the second verse of this song. It is a simple phrase repeated twice. I wanted to add a focus …

Calming My Storm

Today is the final day of my week long seminary class on worship. It has been wonderful, yet unexpectedly emotionally draining. Some of the sessions have felt more like 6 hour long sermons directed right to my heart. I've felt conviction, joy, shame, elation, hope, fear, and a whole host of other things. It has almost been like a turbulent storm is raging in my heart, sometimes showing on the outside with tears, sometimes just churning within.

This morning, as providence would have it, I read Matthew chapter 8. In this chapter, Christ calms two different storms: one on the sea and one in a demon possessed man's heart. Each time he speaks very little to accomplish his task. Matthew doesn't even record the words, "Peace! Be Still!" that Mark does. With the demon possessed man he simply says "Go" to the demons and they flee.

Last evening Christ spoke a different word to me: "Play." I don't really remember hearing that one too often, but I di…

Wind-Up Wednesday: Marriage Humor

I borrowed this little clip from one of Kevin DeYoung's Monday Morning Humor posts. It actually made me laugh out loud, which if you know me, is saying a lot. I hope it adds a little fun to your week.

"GoSkyWatch", "SkyMap", or God'Sky

One of the coolest apps for the your iPad, tablet, smartphone, etc., is the one that shows you the constellations when you hold it up to the sky. Apple has one and so does Google. There are actually a ton out there. However, there is something strange to me about them. There is something strange about a person looking up at the beauty of the constellations and the planets, yet not really looking at them, but seeing instead a man-made screen that tells us about the stars. I've even done this on occasion. I "ooo" and "ahhh" at the beauty on my little screen and how cool it is that I can tell which light is a star and which is a planet. Yet, I'm not really looking at the source of the beauty; I'm looking at a picture.

This is the equivalent of being at Niagara Falls and looking at a postcard of the waterfall while your back it turned to it, or looking through a video camera view-screen at your kids playing, but never really watching them. We get so enthra…

Sunday Singables: "Behold Our God"

"Behold Our God" written by the Bairds, released by Sovereign Grace Music on Risen (2011)

I heard this song originally on their Risen album, then at the Together for the Gospel conference in 2012. You can also listen to "Behold Our God" as a live version on the Together for the Gospel Live II album.

Why I recommend this song for worship-

Some of the most cherished moments in scripture are when God chooses to reveal Himself to one of His servants. The reaction, whether from Moses, Isaiah, Elijah, Job, or others, is always the same, speechless awe and wonder. This song captures that story. The verses of this song speak of the wonder of God's character, revealed through his work in the unfolding drama of redemtion's story. The chorus enables the worshiper to respond appropriately, singing "Come, let us adore Him." How else can we respond when confronted with who God is? There is also an expressive bridge which can be done with men's and lady's…

Godliness + Windows 8 = Great Gain

Godliness + Windows 8 = Great Gain, right? Isn't that how the verse goes? It seems like I live that way sometimes. This week I've been evaluating my computer needs and the temptation to upgrade nearly took over my world. Upgrading is important, correct? At least, that's the message we get all the time from the media around us. Windows 7 is the past. Get with the future. Your iPhone 4 is ancient technology, slowing you down and keeping you from having a good life. Your LCD TV is too thick. Your car doesn't get good enough gas mileage. Your home would be much better if it had 3 full bathrooms instead of 2.5.

The verse I quoted above is actually found in 1 Timothy 6:6. It reads, "But godliness with contentment is great gain..." It is followed with the apostle Paul stating how the desire for wealth leads many to ruin and destruction and how he will be content with the simple things: food and clothing. It amazes me how quickly we replace the word "contentmen…

Wind-Up Wednesday: Fun Geneology

Wind-Up Wednesday: "Matthew's Begats" by Andrew Peterson
This is a favorite folk artist of mine, singing that passage at the beginning of Matthew that most of us skim in order to get to the Christmas stuff. Enjoy!

Seeing 20-20 in 2013

After about a week's worth of vacation, I'm back to my normal routine... almost. I get to enjoy today off work, the first day of 2013. I'll be back in the office tomorrow, getting things planned and preparing for a new year of music, learning, and growing in my faith. There is a lot I'm looking forward to in the upcoming year, but one of the early joys I'm excited about is my eye appointment tomorrow.

You see (pun intended), I wear glasses and contacts. The sad thing about this is that my eyes are always getting worse. The last time I had them checked was the latter half of 2009, so I really have no idea how bad they've gotten. I think it's finally time to see what the damage is and get an updated prescription. As I'm writing this, I'm not wearing any glasses. The screen is zoomed up to 175% so everything is a bit clearer. Yeah, it's about time to go to the doctor.

I'm always amazed at what the world looks like right after getting new glass…