Archive | Culture & Current Events

On God, Glory, Grace, and Grammys

As a professional musician for almost 40 years, I’m at least mildly interested in the Grammys each year. Who are the young artists that will be tomorrow’s legends? Where is music headed, if anywhere? What old artists are continuing to produce great music or making a comeback? Since this past Sunday, there’s been a disproportionate amount of online buzz about the show. I watched a part of it and was freshly grateful for a DVR with fast forward capabilities. In case you missed it, this year’s event included an overtly sensual duet between Beyoncé and Jay Z, a satanically influenced segment by Katy Perry, and a mass wedding for 30+ heterosexual …

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How Do You Address Modesty?

One of the topics in the church that leaders rarely address is modesty. It’s awkward. You can be accused of legalism. People can be offended. It can seem politically incorrect. But that doesn’t mean it should never be addressed, nor that there’s not a gracious way to do it. Ideally, those who participate in a public platform on Sundays should be aware that people learn not only from what they say but what they wear. (I did another post on what we wear when we worship here.) Certain things are clear. We aren’t to treat people differently based on what people wear (James 2:1-5). That means we don’t look down self-righteously at those who dress …

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They Once Were Lost But Now Are Found

In the process of hosting this ESV Bible giveaway, I discovered that the “Contact Me” link on my blog hasn’t been working for a while. Like for a year. So the wonderful IT folks here at Sovereign Grace did some research and found that any emails sent through the “Contact Me” link ended up in a massive spam folder (who sends out all that stuff?). The good news is that we were able to recover 600+ emails. The bad news is that my daughter/assistant Chelsea (who is leaving on Friday for 13 days with a missions team to Uganda) has to individually copy each one to an email and send it to herself. For some reason, forwarding takes much longer. What …

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Shout to the Lord on American Idol

As a pastor and professional musician, I find American Idol interesting on a number of levels. It’s fascinating to see how a simple idea can capture the attention of millions, how people respond to evaluation, how people can be so misled about what they actually sound like, how ordinary people handle massive fame, the difference between gifting and hard work, and more. I also appreciate how some of the contestants have used the platform to bear witness to their faith in Christ. Melinda Doolittle, from last season, stood out for her humility, modesty, and joy. Yesterday, I had started a post on my response to Wednesday night’s program. It was …

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Looking for Translators

Sovereign Grace Ministries is one of a growing number of ministries (including Desiring God and 9Marks) working with and supporting Open Source Mission. The goal of OSM is to build a community of volunteer translators who will collaborate to make gospel-centered resources available in as many languages as possible. Once the books or articles are translated, the finished translations will be available online for free at gospeltranslations.org. It will function like Wikipedia, but instead of producing encyclopedia entries, the content will be translations of Christian books and articles. Because the majority of Christian materials are published …

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Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

I thank God for the voices that help us sort through the confusion about gender that exists not only in our culture, but in our churches and homes. Confusion that results in a redefining of marriage and the family, splits in major denominations, and unisex bathrooms at universities, among other things. The world has seen too few examples of men and women exercising their complementary gifts and roles, together bringing glory to the triune God who made us in his image. Why mention this on a blog designed for those who lead worship? Because as we embrace God’s ordained order for our lives we bring glory to our Creator and acknowledge the wisdom …

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New Look for Worship Matters

Welcome to the new look of Worship Matters, designed by my son-in-law, Kerrin Russell. Kerrin is married to my oldest daughter, Megan. Not only is he a godly husband and dad, he’s a true servant. It helps that he’s great at solving computer problems and fixing things. The most recent example is my blog site. Kerrin was the one who originally suggested I start a blog, and over the past year or so he’s been wanting me to update the look. Knowing that I’d never get to it, he did it himself. BTW, the pictures in the banner were taken by my 18 year old daughter, Brittany, who runs a design and photography business with her older sister, Megan. We’re …

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Is it Biblical for a Woman to Lead Worship?

I received this question from Tracy: My husband has recently become a Pastor in a small Outback Queensland (Australia) church and holds a complementarian view of women in ministry. This is a very uncommon viewpoint in the church movement my husband is Pastoring under. We have had queries as to if I will lead worship which has left both my husband and I with our own questions as we can’t see a biblical precedent for women as worship leaders…What do you see as a woman’s place in worship and is it permissible for a woman to be a worship leader? I’ve been asked this question numerous times and thought Tracy’s particular situation would give …

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Random Thoughts on MP3 Downloads and Copies

I recently finished The Future of Music by David Kusek and Gerd Leonhard. It was a fascinating read. The authors discuss how the face of music distribution has changed significantly in recent years and insist that many changes are still needed. Bottom line, they think that increased access to music and freedom to distribute it legally will benefit consumers, companies, and artists alike. From the intro: Imagine a world where music flows all around us, like water, or like electricity, and where access to music becomes a kind of “utility.” Not for free, per se, but certainly for what feels like free…A brave new world is waiting for those who …

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Worship Leaders – How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways

This morning the Washington Post business section ran a column called, “To Me, With Love: Retailers Embrace Valentine’s Day as an Excuse for Singles to Celebrate Themselves.” Among other interesting facts, the article reports that Piperlime, an online shoe store owned by Gap, has a “Be your own Valentine” category. Sales are strong for Valentine’s Day gifts you can give to the person you love the most – yourself. You may not have the nerve to give a Valentine’s gift to yourself, but you’re probably no stranger to self-love. There is an appropriate way to humbly acknowledge that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14). However that …

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What Ted Haggard Has Taught Me About Sin

No doubt you’ve been following the recent events concerning Ted Haggard. After being publicly accused of engaging in illegal drug use and sexual immorality for three years, and acknowledging at least part of it to be true, he was dismissed as pastor of 14,000 member New Life Church in Colorado Springs, the church he founded twenty-one years ago. He also resigned as head of the National Association of Evangelicals, said to represent some 30 million Christians. If you haven’t seen it, his statement of confession, read to his church this past Sunday, can be found here. Over the past few days, I’ve kept up on the news, read a number of comments …

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Do Men and Women Worship Differently?

Patrick referred me to this article from the Biola University website. It’s entitled, “The Feminization of the Church: Why Its Music, Messages and Ministries Are Driving Men Away.” The article includes references to Why Men Hate Going to Church, by David Murrow, and The Church Impotent, by Leon Podles. Both are sitting on my shelf, as yet unread. Both authors claim that Christianity has become increasingly feminine in its appeal and membership. Podles traces the roots back to the 13th century, when he says women mystics popularized the personal use of “bridal imagery.” In response to the article, Patrick had this question: Do you have …

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More Thoughts on Blogging

In recent years God has allowed C.J. Mahaney, my dear friend and former senior pastor, to develop some unexpected but meaningful friendships with Mark Dever, Al Mohler, and Ligon Duncan. Unexpected because CJ barely graduated from high school and these guys have lots of letters after their names. They also come from Baptist and Presbyterian roots, while CJ heads up the reformed charismatic family of churches known as Sovereign Grace Ministries. Unexpected as they are, the friendship he shares with these men is meaningful because they share a common passion for (among other things) the Gospel, Reformed soteriology, the local church, and a complementarian …

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A Community of Bloggers?

At the risk of being redundant, I wanted to share a few more thoughts on blogging, in response to a question I received from Steve. He wrote, “Is there the potential for there to be recognized "elders" among Christian bloggers? I wonder what that would look like, and if it would help foster a more healthy "community" here in cyberspace?” I want to take Steve’s question to address the larger issue of what blogs can accomplish. Let me respond to the second question first. What would a healthy community in cyberspace look like? Excellent question. I’m not sure how much of a healthy community CAN exist in cyberspace. …

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Blogging to Worship God 3 – Motives

My post from yesterday is already out of date. Technorati.com now says it searches 24.5 million blogs. That’s 100,000 more than yesterday. Which leads me to ask two questions. What are all these people saying? And why are they saying it? The past two days we’ve been talking about ways Christians can distinguish themselves in the blogosphere – in content and attitude. Today, I want to speak to an area that may not be as obvious – our motives. Every action has one or more motives behind it, whether we’re aware or not. Sometimes our motives are godly, sometimes sinful. Often I find that my motives are mixed. While …

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