Archive | December, 2005

More on Love Songs to Jesus

This question comes from Cheyne, in response to the post Expressing Love to God. I’ve edited his question for the sake of brevity. “Last year, I heard a well-known and respected speaker discuss Psalm 16:11 (“at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore”)…The impression I got from his message was that to know Jesus far exceeds any other pleasure we could experience in this world…The comments you made in your post seem to indicate that expressing one’s feelings for the Lord is not a biblical form of worship. Could you clarify your position?” I’ll certainly try. It’s not expressing our feelings for the Lord that’s unbiblical; it’s how …

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Idolatry on Sunday Mornings, Pt. 8

This is my final post in this series. It’s a little longer than the others, but it’s actually much shorter than it could be…The last idol I want to speak to is the idol of RELEVANCE. Churches can become irrelevant for any number of reasons. Spiritual pride can keep us from considering that non-Christian guests may not understand our highly developed “Christian-speak.” Administrative incompetence might make it difficult for people to find us, or to enjoy being with us once they do (possibly due to crowded conditions, erratic temperature control, musty smells, etc.). A faulty understanding of what it means to be “in the world but not of …

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Idolatry on Sunday Mornings, Pt. 7

I’m in the middle of a discussion on idols that can tempt us when we gather to worship God on Sunday mornings. Today, I’d like to talk about the idol of REPUTATION, especially as it’s revealed in the lives of leaders. God commends a good reputation in Proverbs: A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold. Prov. 22:1 That means God wants our lives characterized by virtues such as godliness, integrity, and faithfulness. However, I’m never to seek my good name at the expense of God’s name. I must never be more concerned about my reputation than God’s. The idol of reputation is subtle. It’s masquerades …

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Idolatry on Sunday Mornings, Pt. 6

I thought I’d finish this series before the year ends. With three days to go and three more topics to cover, it seems like a good fit. In case you missed the earlier entries, I’ve collected the other posts under the heading of Idolatry on Sunday Mornings. These last three areas are primarily directed to leaders, although they could apply to anyone. Today I want to focus on the idol of RESULTS. I’m referring to the mindset that views worshipping God as a means to attain a more desirable end, like increased attendance, evangelism, mutual ministry, or individual experiences. “Results-worship” might underlie comments like these: “We stay away …

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Monday Devotions – Finding Hope in the Depths

I’m writing this after spending most of the last 24 hours in bed with the flu. I’ll spare you the details, but it ended up affecting everyone but Chelsea, my 19 year old. The family we invited over for dinner last night also succumbed. It was a little special "gift" we gave them… What’s been running through my mind at various points is the opening to Psalm 130: Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! I’m not sure what "depths" the Psalmist was going through, but I definitely feel like I’ve been there. No motivation, no strength, no …

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In the First Light

I don’t know if anyone will be reading this today or not, but if you are, I wanted to post some lyrics I wrote about 20 years ago. We were working on an independent project with a vocalist named Kathy Sinni, and wanted an “all year round” Christmas song for the recording. A song that included the birth of Christ, but explored what happened both before and after that event. The result was the song, In the First Light, recorded by GLAD on two of their a cappella CD’s. I pray it will be an encouragement to you. In the first light of a new day no one knew he had arrived Things continued as they had been while a newborn softly cried But the heavens …

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The Right Kind of Imitation

One leader who wrote me lives near a large internationally known church. Many of the musicians on the team want to imitate that church’s sound and music style. “How do I teach the music team to seek and recognize God’s heart for us? How do I encourage them to pursue God’s specific plan for us and help them see that this may not look like what we expect?” Here’s what I’d want to say to this leader’s group of musicians: God’s specific plan for every church is that we proclaim with our lives and our lips the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. (1 Pet. 2:9) At times that means we’ll imitate …

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Another Christmas CD Recommendation

Last year I came across An Acoustic Christmas, by guitarist Tom Hemby. The review I read said this was a CD that would "find its way into your CD player long before the Chistmas Season begins." I’m a fan of instrumental acoustic guitar CD’s, and wondered if the product would live up to its reputation. Here’s my report. I do indeed listen to these songs all year round. Tom Hemby is a Nashville studio musician who uses God’s gift of creativity to the utmost. He shies away from arranging a song the way others have already performed it, resulting in a CD that is truly remarkable. It’s certainly grown on me over time, but after multiple …

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Should We Can Canned Music in the Church? Pt. 2

Yesterday I shared some of the drawbacks of using pre-recorded music in church services. Can it ever be beneficial? I think so, as long as we’re aware that God is more concerned about the faith in our hearts than the sound of the music. If you’re part of a small church, a small group, or a mission church, you may find the following to be true. 1. Recorded music can encourage people to sing out enthusiastically While I generally prefer the sound of an average musician to a CD, there are times when bad instrumentalists are more distracting than helpful. Of course, as I mentioned yesterday, singing with no accompaniment is certainly a viable …

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Thanks for Responding

To everyone who responded to the Blogs for Music post last week – THANKS! We received a little over 50 requests, so we just sent everyone an Awesome God CD. The offer is now officially over, if you’re wondering. (You can still purchase a copy here). I hope to do something similar next month with the WorshipGod Live CD. It’s my prayer that we’d be able to put out many more CD’s that teach children biblical truth using songs they can sing again and again. Please be specific when you post your review so that we can benefit from your feedback. …

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Should We Can Canned Music in the Church?

Dr. Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, recently posted a blog bemoaning the increasing use of pre-recorded (canned) music in church services. After I read his comments, Eric Zeller sent me this e-mail: “Often smaller churches will use pre-recorded musical tracks either to accompany soloists, choirs, or congregational singing. Do you have any thoughts on this practice and its impact on worship?” I don’t know if Eric saw Dr. Mohler’s post, but it seemed like the topic of pre-recorded music in the church was worth commenting on. New Testament Christians obviously didn’t have to face this issue, so there’s no …

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Monday devotions – Grace for Change

O Lord, My every sense, member, faculty, affection, Is a snare to me, I can scarce open my eyes but I envy those above me, Or despise those below. So begins the prayer from The Valley of Vision entitled "Self-Deprecation." In a culture where low self-esteem is the ultimate sin, it’s refreshing to encounter confession that is so honest, so compelling, so familiar. Can you identify with this author’s sad situation? He realizes that our temptations don’t arise so much from things around us as things within us. A co-worker is honored and I wonder why nobody noticed my contribution. I silently applaud myself for buying a slightly-too-expensive …

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Standards for the Music Team, Pt. 2

[Sorry if you tried to post a comment today. Typepad was down most of Friday, so I couldn't post either.] Question: Can you share your standards for those who participate “up front” on Sunday mornings? After my last post on this topic, Matt Blick wondered if a list of standards would even be helpful. He wrote, “Lists are not as helpful as developing relationships which are open to challenges on character issues no matter how small. Sometimes it’s just a comment or attitude you want to query that’s often hard to pin a commandment on! To which I say, AMEN! Rules without relationship usually results in rebellion, whether you’re leading …

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Blogs for Music

How do you teach 8 year olds that God goes on forever? How do you explain the Trinity to them? How do you help children understand what it means that God is holy? Why not use music? Last year we at Sovereign Grace Ministries released our first CD for children, ages 7 and up. It was an attempt to teach children about God through song. We called it Awesome God. I’ve noticed for some time that children often sing songs that assume they have a saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ. That’s due partly to the fact that many adult songs are simply adapted for use by children. Also, many songs written today for congregational worship tend …

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Idolatry on Sunday Mornings, Pt. 5

We can’t help but notice the number of times God addresses idolatry in his Word. He hates it when we pursue, serve, or are emotionally drawn to other gods, which are not really gods at all. Idols enslave us (Ps. 106:36), put us to shame (Is. 45:16), and ultimately conform us to their image (Ps. 115:8). But God’s intention is that we be conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29). Like the Psalmist, we should hate them and those who pay regard to them. (Ps. 31:6). Too often, though, we find ourselves to be the idolaters. Today, I want to share another idol that looms large when we worship God corporately. It particularly applies to musicians. The …

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