Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Rant on Worship Music

Check out this great "rant" from Jeremy Pierce about worship music:

Here are some of the things I really hate in a worship song.

1. Too simplistic, banal, lacking in depth, shallow, doctrineless: Consider that one that just talks about unity among brothers that only mentions God in passing at the very end.

2. It’s so repetitive. I mean, come on, how many times can you repeat “His steadfast love endures forever” before you start thinking the song is going to go on forever? Examples: here and here

3. For some songs, the focus is too much on instruments, and the sheer volume leads to its seeming more like a performance than worship and prevents quiet contemplation.

4. There might be too much emphasis on too intimate a relationship with God, using first-person singular pronouns like “me” and “I” or second-person pronouns like “you” instead of words like “we” and “God”. This fosters a spirit of individualism, and it generates an atmosphere of religious euphoria rather than actual worship of God. Worship should be about God, not about us. Or what about the ones that use physical language to describe God and our relationship with him? Can you really stomach the idea of tasting God?

5. Some songs have way too many words for anyone to learn.

Click here to read the rest.

UPDATE: Apparently I should have made it clear that this "rant" is tongue-in-cheek. Click the links to see Psalms that do just what the author is lamenting!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Finance and Investment Advice (For Free!)

I want to introduce a good friend of mine and financial blogger, Jason Topp. He keeps up a regular blog called Redeeming Riches that provides sound financial and investment advice. He also grills a mean bbq, bell pepper, cheese, smothered chicken. Here are some articles and topics you can read about (relating to finances that is):

Monday, September 27, 2010

Busyness: The New Spirituality

A good article here by Dave Kraft, a pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, on the problem so many of us face: busyness. Assessing my own church, I feel this is one our biggest spiritual weaknesses. More and more I feel that it is not "just a busy season," or that "things will get better." Instead, busyness has become a spiritual cancer for many people and an addiction for others.

First, half of us are busy with the wrong things. Second, the other half are busy with the right things. We do, do, do, without taking time to be. If we don't have time to think and pray, something is wrong. If we don't have time to sit and talk with our spouse, something is wrong. If we don't have time to "waste" an hour reading, something is wrong.

Sure, some people are lazy. Some people waste time. But there are far more people in our day that over commit, commit to insignificant things, stay busy because it feels productive, and work like crazy because it is easier to do than to be.

I fear that many of us will end up looking back at all our activity and wonder what went wrong. Wonder who we are. How we ended up here. Why we did all that stuff, while recognizing it just wasn't worth it.

The Kraft article begins,
Through the years I have come to some general conclusions about people, ministry, and leaders. One of them is that most people, in general, and leaders, in particular, try to do too much and work too many hours. An article in the Seattle Times by Shirleen Holt read,
    Nearly ten million Americans worked more than sixty hours a week last year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics found. We’ve outpaced the famously productive Japanese in hours worked. We’re the only developed nation without mandatory vacation time. And, according to the’s annual vacation poll, one-third of us will take no vacation this year.
The insight of author Fred Smith comes to mind: “Busyness is the new spirituality.” Years ago, I would often greet a fellow leader with, “Good to see you! How you doing?” The response would be, “Dave, I am really busy.” Now, when I ask the same question, the response is, “Dave, I am really tired.”

When I probe a little, it is clear that this is not the common sort of tiredness that can be handled with a decent night’s sleep, but a deep, deep sense of exhaustion—emotional, spiritual, and physical. Leaders are falling out of the race and shipwrecking themselves for a number of reasons; and one of them is sheer exhaustion, which leads to frustration, anger, confusion, potential burnout, and, eventually, throwing in the towel.
Read more.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Real Jesus: Quotes, 5

[The incarnation is] by far the most amazing miracle of the entire Bible – far more amazing than the resurrection and more amazing than the creation of the universe. The fact that the infinite, omnipotent, eternal Son of God could become man and join himself to a human nature forever, so that infinite God became one person with finite man, will remain for eternity the most profound miracle and the most profound mystery in all the universe.

Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994) p. 563.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Bible in a Click

If you're looking for a Bible easy to access, check out these two on-line Bibles. They're fairly easy to cut and paste from, and they have most major translations.
I also like the YouVersion for any Smartphone.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Anger: Like a Cannonball

From Darrin Patrick's new book Church Planter:
A wise and godly friend helped me realize a couple of things. First, he helped me see that angry outbursts are like doing a cannonball into a pool -- you don't really know how far the splash reaches because you're just jumping in with your eyes closed. My anger was splashing on people I never intended to reach.
HT: Chris Carr

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Real Jesus: Quotes, 4

No one can say it quite like Mark Driscoll:
Jesus was a dude. Like my drywaller dad, he was a construction worker who swung a hammer for a living. Because Jesus worked in a day when there were no power tools, he likely had calluses on his hands and muscles on his frame, and did not look like so many of the drag-queen Jesus images that portray him with long, flowing, feathered hair, perfect teeth, and soft skin, draped in a comfortable dress accessorized by matching open-toed sandals and handbag. Jesus did not have Elton John or the Spice Girls on his iPod, "The View" on his TiVo, or a lemon-yellow Volkswagen Beetle in his garage. No, Jesus was not the kind of person who, if walking by you on the street, would require you to look for an Adam's apple to determine the gender.
Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears. Vintage Jesus (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2007) p. 31.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Real Jesus: Quotes, 3

This quotation is from the Gospel of John, and it just shows you how awesome Jesus was (and is):
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
And John's final word in his Gospel:
Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
John 20:30-31; 21:25 (ESV)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Real Men Needed

If you're male, boy or man, watch the following video. The Resurgence originally posted the video, promoting Darrin Patrick's new book Church Planter. They introduce it:
Darrin Patrick, vice president of the Acts 29 network and a veteran church planter himself is one of the most qualified men on the planet to write this book. It is written for Church Planters, but will challenge any man (really any person) to follow Christ with everything he's got.

This book is a call for God's men to rise to their calling to be the men God's called them to be, with the Word God has called them to preach, on the mission God has called them to.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Questions for Kids (Catechism)

A few months back, Michelle suggested that we use a children's catechism to help train our girls. I didn't grow up in a faith tradition that used catechism, but I was okay with trying something new as we had already read through a number of children's Bibles. To summarize the experience: it has been great. We have been doing the "questions," as my girls call them, for a couple months now. They know about 45 of them, and we have 5 left to go.

The great thing about doing this with my girls is that they learn the essential truths of the Scriptures, and it spawns all sorts of questions in their minds. One of my favorite conversations was after going through this set of questions:
17. What was Adam like at creation? He was good.

18. Did Adam remain good? No, he sinned.

19. What is sin? Disobedience to God's law.

20. What is the penalty for sin? Death.

21. What came of Adam's sin? Death came to all people.

22. Why did Adam's sin affect all men? We all sinned in Adam.
The girls wanted to know what death meant, why they die, if Adam's sin affected them, how so, and on and on it went. Now, they will often say "death came to all people, and to us!" This is also Sydney's favorite part as she likes to make a cutting motion across her neck to illustrate death (forgive me if that's a little gruesome, but with three daughters I have to take whatever boyish stuff I can get!).

All that to say, try it out with your kids. Check out the links below for a couple different catechisms you could use. My girls are 4 & 6 and I use the first one. It is simpler with shorter answers. One caveat is that I like all the answers except #41, so for now we've skipped it until I come up with a better answer. The Westminster Catechism is great, but may be a little lengthy for most people (even though it's "shorter").
Update: Another Catechism Link:

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Christian Rap? You Bet

Most people would not put me in the "enjoys rap music" category, but there is some great Christian rap out there that teaches better than most forms of worship music. Currently, my family is loving Trip Lee's, The Invasion (Hero) from his album Between Two Worlds. Granted my girls like it because the music is exciting. Michelle and I like it because the music is exciting, and it's the big story of creation, fall, and redemption. Check out the words here. Video below.

Six Ways (Not) To Argue Your Point

Kevin DeYoung has a great post on 6 common strategies we use to argue.

To spot bad arguments you often need a lot of facts. But sometimes you just need a little commonsense. When it comes to discerning truth from error, good arguments from bad, a little bit of logic goes a long way.

All of us can make strong sounding arguments that, upon closer inspection, are much less than meets the eye. We employ rhetorical strategies that look impressive (and often work) but contain hidden assumptions and flimsy reasoning. Here are six common arguments (or approaches to argumentation) that can stop us in our tracks, but are actually less impressive than they seem. These arguments are not all wrong, but they must be evaluated with discernment, and they must not be accepted without corroborating evidence.

1. The Big Nasty. One of the best ways to discredit your opponent is to give his position a nasty sounding name. No one may no what “biblicistic” means, but it sure sounds bad. Likewise, if your opponent quotes Bible verses, it’s easier to charge him with “prooftexting” than it is to deal with the verses themselves. A subset of this approach is to throw around undefined, undefended historical curse words like Platonic, Modernism, Constantine, or Gnostic.

Read more here.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Some Thursday Fun

Michelle and I have been blessed with three daughters. It has been fun to see their personalities develop as they get older. We still have a long way to go, but our middle daughter Sydney (nicknamed "Syd Vicious" at 9 months of age) is, so far, the entertainer. See below for Exhibit A.

She gets it from her mother.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Real Jesus: Quotes, 2

This one may be the most famous extra-biblical quote of all:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
C.S. Lewis. Mere Christianity (New York: Macmillan, 1952), pp. 55-56.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Real Jesus: Quotes

As I teach through the series The Real Jesus at Oxford Bible Fellowship, I'll post some quotes and insights from various authors. Here's one to start:
"Interpretations of Jesus are fraught with bias. He’s a powerful figure whom people want on their sides – and they’re willing to re–create him in their image to enlist support. Animal–rights activists imagine a vegetarian Jesus. New Agers make him an example of finding the god within. And radical feminists strip him of divinity so that Christianity doesn’t appear sexist. Frankly, it’s hard to escape the feeling that our culture has taken Jesus’ question ‘Who do you say I am?’ and changed it to ‘Who do you want me to be?'"
Robert M. Bowman, Jr. & J. Ed Komoszewski, Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2007) 17.

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Few Ways Jesus Will Blow Your Mind

  1. He, as God, the Creator of the entire world, became a baby. A baby totally vulnerable and dependent upon his mother to change his diapers, feed him, cloth him, and protect him from harm. God, the ultimate Caregiver, placed himself under the care of a teenage girl.
  2. He shunned fame, money, and possessions. He never owned a home, boat, or vacation property. He never married. Never had biological children. He never had sex. And he didn't have a "real" job. All the things we passionately pursue and define ourselves by, he did without.
  3. He loved, spoke to, and made time for the outcasts of society while rebuking the self-righteous and famous. He was a friend of "tax collectors and sinners."
  4. No one understood him, not even his closest friends. They were constantly confused and probably thought he was a bit loony. They tried to talk him out of following his plan, the plan God the Father had given him. One of his friends betrayed him. One denied him. No one really understood him.
  5. He died. God suffered. God was mocked, abused, and rejected. And while being crucified he prayed, "Father, forgive them; they don't know what they are doing" (Lk. 23:34).
What would you add?