Saturday, March 31, 2007

God, ipod, and giving bad music a nod

God loves me. Last October my dog eat my ipod Nano. Ever since then I just haven’t been able to bring myself to replace it. Yet, I keep looking into alternative versions, or sales, etc. I just haven’t been able to justify buying one. Last Tuesday, a member of our church called. He said something like this; Pastor Jay, I won an Ipod as a door prize at an Insurance conference. I already have an ipod. My wife and I discussed it and we both thought, for some reason, that we ought to call you to see if you could use one. Do you need an Ipod?” I laughed out loud when Bill told me this. I told him my story and he promised to drop it off at my office later that day.

I have been going through my MP3 library (4316 audio files) this week. My Ipod will fit 500 songs on it. I made a best of list. Here is the odd thing. There are whole albums, whole genres, that as I listen to them, I find myself cringing. Mostly, the stuff that makes my mind numb with boredom is Contemporary Christian Worship Music (CCWM). Here are the top three problems I have with this stuff:

1. It all sounds the same. It is stock. There is a formulaic quality that seems to be saying to me that artists are afraid to really be themselves.

2. It sounds like there are ten people in a room competing for my attention. In other words, it is over produced. Drums at full speed when they are not needed, synthesizers filling in where there should be silence. Ugh!

3. It fails to communicate musically what it is trying to say lyrically. On of the big failures of Christian music is the lie that says it does not matter what it sounds like as long as the message is good. What it sounds like is the message when it comes to music! Make it good or do not make it at all.

This week, I will be dumping a ton of music from my hard drive (Hillsong, Passion, I worship, a bunch of Vineyard schlock) and praying that God will raise up some artists (like David Crowder, Mewithoutyou, Sara Groves, Paul Wright, Jennifer Knapp, Enter the worship Circle, evanescence) that will be bold enough to produce music that actually reflects the goodness of the Gospel.

Finally, I asked my good friend, and worship leader, David Sadd, if it was me or if I actually was right in my judgment of much of the worship music that is being produced today. We spent an hour with listening to amazing music (Led Zeppelin, Alanis Morissette, Evanescence, Ben Harper, Eminem, Sara Groves, modern piano minimalists, Mac Powell) and talking about the problem of CCWM. Is it just us, or is a ton of CCWM just boring, repetitive, and poorly produced.


Monday, March 26, 2007

From the Fire to the Cross

We just finished the art for this coming weeks special service. The service will focus on the events of Holy Week (That's a church word for the week that precedes Easter). At this service, we will use scenes from The film, The Gospel of John, to highlight jesus' entrance into Jerusalem the week before he died (We call this Plam Sunday), Jesus' final dinner with his friends, (We call this The Last Supper, jesus' prediction that his best friend Peter would deny him three times, Peter denying Jesus three times, the releasing of a prisoner named Barabbus in exchange for the death of Jesus, Jesus' death on the cross, His post ressurection encounter with all his friends (including one of his friends named Thomas, and a final scene where Jesus forgives his friend Peter and asks him to spend the rest of his life serving him. This presentation will tell the whole story of what we call "Holy Week" (the weeks events that lead to Jesus' death). We will then teach on the relationships of those who were closest to him and the way that he treated them both before his death and after. This will be our attempt to teach folks about what the church means when it says that we are "Celebrating Holy Week," by depicting the events and teaching on them. More to come as the drama unfolds...

Wiskopalian or Reformed Anglican

"Do you suppose that abuses are eliminated by destroying the object which is abused? Men can go wrong with wine and women. Shall we then prohibit and abolish women?" – Martin Luther

"Mmmm . . . beer." - Homer Simpson

We "Anglicans" have a history of toleration when it comes to alcohol. Like the Lutherans, we use real wine at communion, and often are seen drinking socially. Yet, we firmly believe both that the Scriptures demand alcohol consumption in moderation as celebration, and in abstaining when it might hurt a brother or sister to consume.
I grew up thinking that anyone who drank anything must be an alcoholic because I only witnessed alcoholic drinking. I then experienced drunkeness, mixing peach schnapps with Genesee Cream Ale, which gave me a definite distain for alcohol for a pretty long time. However, as adulthood set in, I actually discovered that I, and many others who I was in community with, could have A drink and not 20.
Over the years, my family and I have developed certain rules regarding the consumption of alcohol. First, we never by alcohol in bulk. Second, we have a two drink rule. Catherine (my beautiful wife) has an occasional glass of wine with dinner. Neither of us ever drink liquor (gin, vodka, scotch, etc.) because it grosses us out. We do not offer wine or beer to guests, but if a guest brings a bottle of wine, we may partake. I like good expensive beer. Catherine likes white zinfidel. Because we have seen alcohol abused so often by so many, we tend to be shy about alcohol and socail settings, prefering to celebrate without it most times rather than with it. In regards to our church family, we do not offer beer or wine at church functions, except of course, at communion (we offer wine). So, we have discovered that moderation in celebration is healthy and, though alcohol is so often abused, it does not have to be.

I found the statement below regarding alcohol, from the very excellent Mars Hill Church. You can tell Mark Driscoll (lead pastor) and his cohorts are thinking biblically.
The following is a summary of our position on the matter adapted from Pastor Mark Driscoll’s book The Radical Reformission: Reaching Out Without Selling Out.

Historically, God’s people have greatly enjoyed alcohol.
  • In the European world one of the most Christian drinks was beer.

  • Saint Gall was a missionary to the Celts and renowned brewer.

  • After Charlemagne’s reign the church because Europe’s exclusive brewer.

  • When a young woman was to marry her church made special bridal ale for her, from which we derive our word bridal.

  • Pastor John Calvin’s annual salary package included upwards of 250 gallons of wine to be enjoyed by he and his guests.

  • Martin Luther explained the entire reformation as “…while I sat still and drank beer with Philip and Amsdorf, God dealt the papacy a mighty blow.”

  • Luther’s wife Catherine was a skilled brewer and his love letters to her when they were apart lamented his inability to drink her beer.

  • When the Puritan’s landed on Plymouth Rock the first permanent building they erected was the brewery.
As feminism grew in America during the turn of the 20th century the women’s suffrage and prohibition movements were the practical results of a feminine piety that came to also dominate the church as more women became pastors and the church became more feminine. Some denominations began to condemn alcohol as sinful and the Methodist pastor Dr. Thomas Welch created the very “Christian” Welch’s grape juice to replace communion wine in 1869. The marriage of Christianity and feminism helped to create a dry nation that put out of business all but the largest brewers who were able to survive on near beer and root beer which explains why today American beer is largely mass produced, watered down, light on calories, and feminine in comparison to rich and dark European beers. The resurgence of micro-brews is helping to overcome the great loss and resurrect the art of brewing.

Lastly, some Christians foolishly argue that such terms as new wine and mixed wine in the Bible speak of non-alcoholic wine. But, new wine can still intoxicate according to Scripture (Isaiah 24:7; Hosea 4:11; Joel 1:5), and mixed wine refers to special wines where various wines are mixed together and/or mixed with spices and does not refer to wine cut with water (Psalm 75:8; Song of Songs 8:2). God refers to pouring out the wine of His mixed wine on His enemies which does not mean He will dilute justice (Psalm 75:8). The only time such a practice is mentioned in the Bible is in regards to merchants who cut wine with to rob customers (Isaiah 1:22). The Bible speaks of grape juice (Numbers 6:3) and if God meant to speak of non-alcoholic wine he would have used that word to avoid confusion.

All Bible believing Christians agree that drunkenness is a sin.
The Bible is abundantly clear that drunkenness is a sin (Deuteronomy 21:20; Ecclesiastes 10:17; Matthew 24:29; Luke 12:45; 21:34; Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 5:11; Ephesians 5:18; 1 Peter 4:3).

The matter is so serious that no priest was to drink alcohol while performing their duties (Leviticus 10:9; Ezekial 44:21) though they could consume while not working (Numbers 18:12, 27, 30), no king was to drink while judging law (Proverbs 31:4-5), an elder/pastor cannot be a drunkard (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7), and that no drunkard will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:10; Galatians 5:21).

Sins associated with drunkenness include incest (Genesis 19:32-35), violence (Proverbs 4:17); adultery (Revelation 17:2); mockery and brawling (Proverbs 20:1); poverty (Proverbs 21:17); late night and early morning drinking (Isaiah 5:11-12); hallucinations (Isaiah 28:7); legendary antics (Isaiah 5:22); murder (2 Samuel 11:13), gluttony and poverty (Proverbs 23:20-21); vomiting (Jeremiah 25:27, 48:26; Isaiah 19:14); staggering (Jeremiah 25:27; Psalm 107:27; Job 12:25); madness (Jeremiah 51:7), loudness combined with laughter and then prolonged sleep (Jeremiah 51:39; nakedness (Habbakuk 2:15; Lamentations 4:21); sloth (Joel 1:5); escapism (Hosea 4:11); depression (Luke 21:34); and staying up all night (1 Thessalonians 5:7).

Prohibitionists wrongly teach that all drinking is a sin and that alcohol itself is an evil.

Psalm 104:14-15 "He God makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate-bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man . . ."

John 2:1-11 is clear that Jesus first miracle was performing over 100 gallons of wine at a wedding party.

Matthew 11:19 "The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners." ' But wisdom is proved right by her actions."

Abstentionists wrongly teach that drinking is not sinful but that all Christians should avoid drinking out of love for others and a desire to not cause anyone to stumble.

Hosea 2:8 "She has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil, who lavished on her the silver and gold-which they used for Baal."

1 Timothy 4:1-5 "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.
1 Corinthians 10:31 "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

Moderationists rightly teach that drinking is not a sin and that Christian conscience must guide each person.

Wine is spoken of as both good and bad in the same verses (1 Samuel 1:14, 24; 25:18, 37; Joel 1:5,10).

Apart from good feasting alcohol in Scripture is rightly used for communion (Matthew 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18), medicinal purposes (Proverbs 31:6; 1 Timothy 5:23), and Old Testament worship (Numbers 28:14).

Proverbs 3:9-10 "Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine."

Ecclesiastes 9:7 "Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart."

Psalm 104:14-15 "He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate-bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart."

Deuteronomy 14:26 "Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice."

At Mars Hill Church, we ask that everyone act according to their conscience when it comes to alcohol consumption. Because of past sin, some who have had problems with alcohol may need to abstain for fear of stumbling into old sinful habits. For those who enjoy alcohol with biblical moderation, we recommend using discernment when providing hospitality for others who may have conscience or addiction issues. Best of all, we look forward to the day when our Lord and Savior will prepare for us a redeemed feast with wine:

"On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. It will be said on that day, "Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation." - Isaiah 25:6-9

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Amzaing Grace and The Abolition of Slavery

As a film, Amazing Grace is a bit of a yellow zebra; rare. In a world full of complex anti-heroes and ambiguous morality, it stands out as a movie that simply tells the true and compelling story of the Parliamentarian turned Evangelical Christian, William Wilberforce, who along with a group of Pre-Victorian evangelicals single-handedly turned England from a Gin soaked nation that was heading toward barbarism into a nation that was, well, eventually, civil, ethical and, Victorian.

The film is directed by Michael Apted (The World is Not Enough, Coal Miner's Daughter) from an original screenplay written by Academy Award® nominee Steven Knight (Dirty Pretty Things).

It stars Ioan Gruffudd (Black Hawk Down), Albert Finney (Erin Brockovich), Romola Garai (Vanity Fair), Michael Gambon (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), Benedict Cumberbatch (Hawking), Rufus Sewell (Legend of Zorro), Ciaran Hinds (Rome) and introduces Youssou N'Dour.

Though you will not see any lurid affairs or anything that blows up in this film, you will see the true story of a man who was deeply convicted and lived his life to make this world a better place.

If you want to learn more about Wilberforce and the cultural trnasformations that Evangelicals of his day brought about, please continue reading below.

Turbulent England
Prior to the cultural transformations that English Evangelicals brought to the nation, England was a dark and gloomy country in need of serious reform. The industrial revolution of the late 1700’s had helped to foster political corruption, economic oppression, and serious social problems that alienated the poor and degenerated the ancient aristocracy, while benefiting the middle classes and capitalists.

Rapidly growing cities (18,000 people in 1800 to 5,000,000 in 1890) gave rise to overcrowded slums where the poor lived and worked in miserable and inhumane conditions, lasting far into the 19th century. Simultaneously, political reform headed in the direction of a liberalism that increased the power of the English House of Commons while bulging the pocket book of the House of Lords. Many grew famously wealthy amongst the upper classes, while those in the lower echelons lived like animals, either in cities, where they worked in the factories, or as slaves, building the colonies while dragging their chains.

Throughout England at this time, drunkenness was rampant- the poor soaked their misery in cheap gin. Women were used as pack mules in the mines and blackened little boys where left to die when caught within the chimney’s they were hired to sweep. To add to the inhumanity, many Irish girls were kid-napped into prostitution, spending the rest of their lives locked into the treachery of working the streets.

Within this darkness, Christians of many denominations in England worked from the late 1700’s through the 1800’s to turn the country from being a “gin-soaked” brawl crowded together in a swarm of immorality and corruption to a society that was considered the most ‘decorous, peaceful, and law abiding nation in the West.’ Like a glorious ray of sunshine, evangelicals could claim responsibility for huge cultural changes that would transform England, and much of the world. Certainly, Victorian England with all of its virtues, cleanliness, and claim of religion, would not have been possible if the Evangelicals had not acted.

Evangelical Transformationists
It was during these dark days of the late 1700’s that English evangelicals began to involve themselves in ways that would give rise to the social changes that characterize the Victorian era (1837-1901). Many who had benefited from an age of evangelical renewal through George Whitefield and John Wesley were now faced with a society that was uncivil while receiving a faith that was liberating. Though many had abandoned the vision of involving their faith in the public square, due in part to the religious wars and to the failures of those such as Oliver Cromwell in the 1640’s, there were many who began to reject what Max Weber would later call Protestant “inner-worldly- asceticism,” turning to what is today referred to as a transformist vision for Christian involvement in culture (Niebur-Christ and Culture). After the death of William Wilberforce, the like-minded High Churchmen, William Gladstone, another great reformer of Britain, would say to Queen Victoria, “My political or public life is the best part of my life: it is the part in which I am conscious of the greatest effort to do and avoid as the Lord Christ would have me do and avoid.” Had not Wilberforce and other faithful transformers of culture not set the stage for such a view, it is doubtful that Gladstone would have been able to be so comfortable with a public life fully given to Jesus.

The Great William Wilberforce
Before Gladstone, William Wilberforce was to set the stage for what it meant to be an Evangelical who embodied a transformationist view of the world. When Wilberforce, as a young parliamentarian, came to a saving faith in Jesus as his Lord and Savior, he was faced with what was for him, a new and odd choice: should he be involved in public life, or retreat into a private religious piety expected of many Evangelicals of his day?

At first, he considered turning from the politics and public life of England, which wallowed in ‘nepotism, graft, bribery, and the great pork-barrel under the three George’s of the Hanoverian dynasty’ (to quote the Christian Historian, Dr. Les Fairfield ), to a life in the priesthood. Providentially, he received pastoral support from the Great John Newton (author of Amazing Grace) who challenged Wilberforce by suggesting that God was calling him to make a difference in the public life of England. Later, after Wilberforce embraced this call, he would exude, “God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners” (i.e. morality). Both of these visions of reform would do much to help create Victorian England as it came to be know. Upon setting out, many thought it impossible to bring such sweeping changes to England through acts of Parliament. Even John Wesley did not at first think slavery could be abolished through an act of law. His early tract entitled, Thoughts Upon Slavery, reveals an appeal to individual action only. Yet, eighteen years later on February 23, 1807, victory came when Wilberforce ‘carried the house.” Along with other Evangelicals(Henry Thornton 1760-1815, Granville Sharp 1735-1813, John Venn 1759-1813, Hannah Moore 1745-1833, and Zachary Macaulay 1768-1838) Wilberforce and his friends worked tirelessly to bring about a vision of a Holy England. These folks, who received notoriety for their efforts during the industrial revolution in England, were know as the Clapham Sect.

The primary objective of the Clapham sect, as well as those who followed in their path, was to bring the people of England to come to know Jesus Christ as Savior. However, they did not make the Gospel into hollow words. Instead, they became concerned for the whole of men, women, and children in England, thus showing concern for both body and soul. Unfortunately, an idea of virtue void of a reliance on the saving grace of Jesus Christ, would typify many living in the late Victorian age, who lived off the fruits of reforms brought on by Evangelicals of Wilberforce’s era.

The Word for All
In bringing transformation to England, Evangelical before and within the Victorian era sought to make the Bible and its teaching a predominate social influence. They wished to create a widespread consensus of the Bible and its teaching by creating literature for both the poor and the rich and by making the Holy Scriptures available to all classes by creating Bibles that were affordable and in great supply. Hence, tract societies, Bible societies, and book publishing became a focus of their plan for reform. For the poor, Hannah Moore published penny tracts, and Wilberfoce wrote A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians, marked for the aristocracy. Later, Lord Shaftsbury, the great political reformer following Wilberfoce, would serve for years as the President of the British and Foreign Bible Society.

Social Reform
Secondly, Evangelicals preparing Victorian England for reform, and those within Victorian England, worked diligently to address and reform the horrors produced by the industrial revolution. Donald Lewis (Christian History) breaks down the century of reform into six areas: 1urban renewal, 2medical care, 3education, 4civil rights, 5prison reform, 6and child labor. The vehicles these Christian’s used to promote and effect change included legislation, magnificently financed social awareness campaigns targeted for the masses, and many volunteer societies.

Great instances of change occurred throughout the century. In work with the urban poor, the formation of the London City Mission brought hope and dignity. In medical care, “the Lady of the Lamp”, Florence Nightingale healed sickness and fought ignorance through her nursing skill and knowledge. She wrote the amazing work, Hospital Administration of the British Army. In Education, a great instance of working to bring reform was seen in the 1,500 charity schools founded by the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge. In reforming civil rights we see the valiant integrity of men such as the brilliant Thomas Chalmers who defended the rights of Catholics and Jews despite his distrust of them. Prison reform saw the astounding work of Elizabeth Frye who created clear reform goals for prisons and transformed the prison life of Newgate in such a way that it became a working model for “elevating” prisoners and bringing dignity to those who had been “tossed” by English society. Finally reform can be seen in child labor through the valiant efforts of grinding parliamentary reform combined with organized public campaigns against child slavery. Notably, Lord Shaftsbury tirelessly fought for the cause of the least, the last, and the lost through Parliament and in his private life. He helped to bring reforms to the mentally ill, children working sixteen hour work days, and a host of other causes within the thirty three societies that he was involved in.
Clearly, the above reforms initiated by Evangelicals, helped to shape Victorian England and its appeal to civility and decency. On the other hand, it also allowed many in later years to remove the reality of sin from the Christian World view and to advocate a vague and general morality that assumed human progress and goodness without the intervening grace of a God who sent his son to save a dying world.

The Reform of Manners
The third area of reform came through attacking the habits and customs that had decimated the nation’s culture. In an attempt to reform society, some English evangelicals ‘criticized amusements such as dancing, playing cards, theater going, the reading of novels and even Handel’s oratorios (Christian History). Hence, they were faced with opposition by moderates of English society. Nonetheless, the above amusements were only the extremes in the move to reform morality. At its base, the movement rightly fought against drunkenness, prostitution, gambling, and other serious threats to morality and civil society in Victorian England. The writing of Hannah Moore’s Thoughts on the Manners of the Great in 1788, the founding of the Lord’s Observance Society in 1831, and the 1872 licensing act to control the sale of alcohol were all positive examples of social change which made Victorian England the civil society that it became by the end of the 19th century.
Despite the secularizing effects of the Enlightenment and the industrial revolution, Evangelicals did a great deal to create Victorian England with all of it strengths and weaknesses. Primarily, they were able to integrate the gospel with a kind of social reform which resulted in increased civility and justice for England to the extent that the country went from being a pit of despair to being a paragon of decency and virtue.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Every year, 20 minutes from our house, thousands gather in Savannah, GA, for the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade. Here is my bio about one of the early Christians, Patrick of Ireland (c. 390–c. 461).

Patrick was the first missionary to Ireland. He was Born at Ailclyde (now Dumbarton), the son of a deacon named Calpurnius. At sixteen, Patrick was captured by a gang of pirates and taken to Ireland. Sold into slavery, he toiled six years as a swineherd, finally escaping to Gaul where he became a monk. Called in a vision to preach to the pagan Irish who had enslaved him, Patrick returned to his home on the Western shores of Britain for a brief time. Here, he was consecrated a bishop to Ireland. In the year 431, he and a missionary team set up a base on the east coast of Strangford Loughand and began converting the Ulstermen to Christianity. He then moved all throughout Ireland, facing dangers of many kinds. During these years, he baptized the Irish by the thousands and started moansteries that reflected the clan system of Ireland. Thirty years later, Patrick would see Ireland become a center of Christian influence throughout Europe. He died at Saulpatrick in about 461.
Source: Moorman, P. 7-8; Who’s Who in Christian History: N. Hillyer

For a Great re-telling of the St. Patrick Story, see Focus on the Families Adventures in Odyssey Series, #31: Days to Remember. It includes two tales of St. Patrick titled, Heart Afire.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Thanks for Linking

The following blogs are now linking to Reformedanglican. Check out these blogs.

Anglican Action: The Blog Site

Western Reserve Anglican Fellowship

Anglican Evangelical

Mike Clarkson: Help Has Arrived!

This Sunday, the newest member of our ministry team, Mike Clarkson, preached at our Sunday morning CrossPoint service (Church at The Church of the Cross, Buckwalter). He preached on David and Goliath. (1 Samuel 17:33-50 Greatness: David and Goliath- Mike_Clarkson.mp3)
His thesis for the text was that God can do anything. Often, folks want to make the David and Goliath story into a story of beating the odds or taking on the big guy. You know how it goes. It’s the old, “Just muster up enough courage and you can do anything (for God)” kind of a sermon. This of course is just one more way of preaching works righteousness (being religious and thinking that you can earn God’s approval by digging deep inside of yourself). The reality of the whole of Scripture, and of the David and Goliath story, is that God came to rescue and save a people enslaved. They were weak, small, unknown, and not very cool. He chose these guys (see 1 Corinthians 1) so that he could show the world that he can do anything. And, when David wondered down into a valley to face a 9 foot giant, he had a snowballs chance in hell of beating him. God just loves situations like this. David simply believed that God could do anything and David was able to kill him with a little river rock. In the next few days, I will post Mike’s sermon. The best part of the sermon, in my opinion, is Mike’s story of God raising his son from the dead after he reluctantly received the Holy Spirit from an Anglican Bishop 26 years ago. We ended the service with these two songs.

Casting Crowns: Voice of Truth

Oh what I would do to have/ The kind of faith it takes/ To climb out of this boat I'm in onto the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone/ Into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is/ And He's holding out His hand

But the waves are calling out my name/ And they laugh at me/ Reminding me of all the times/ I've tried before and failed/ The waves they keep on telling me/ Time and time again, "Boy, you'll never win!"/ "You'll never win!"

But the Voice of Truth tells me a different story/ The Voice of Truth says, "Do not be afraid!"/ And the Voice of Truth says, "This is for My glory"/ Out of all the voices calling out to me/ I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of Truth/ Oh what I would do to have/ The kind of strength it takes/ to stand before a giant/ With just a sling and a stone

Surrounded by the sound of a thousand warriors/ Shaking in their armor/ Wishing they'd have had the strength to stand

But the giant's calling out my name/ And he laughs at me/ Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed/ The giant keeps on telling me/ Time and time again, "Boy you'll never win!"/ "You'll never win!"

But the Voice of Truth tells me a different story/ The Voice of Truth says, "Do not be afraid!"/ And the Voice of Truth says, "This is for My glory"/ Out of all the voices calling out to me/ I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of Truth

But the stone was just the right size/ To put the giant on the ground/ And the waves they don't seem so high/ On top of them lookin' down/ I soar with the wings of EAGLES/ When I stop and listen to the sound of Jesus/ Singing over me

But the Voice of Truth tells me a different story/ The Voice of Truth says, "Do not be afraid!"/ And the Voice of Truth says, "This is for My glory"/ Out of all the voices calling out to me (calling out to me)/ I will choose to listen and believe-

I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of Truth/ I will listen and believe/ I will listen and believe the Voice of truth/ I will listen and believe/ Cause Jesus you are the voice of truth/ And I will listen to you, you are-

Chris Tomlin: How Great is Our God

The splendor of a King, clothed in majesty/ Let all the earth rejoice/ All the earth rejoice
He wraps himself in Light, and darkness tries to hide/ And trembles at His voice/ Trembles at His voice
How great is our God, sing with me/ How great is our God, and all will see/ How great, how great is our God
Age to age He stands/ And time is in His hands/ Beginning and the end/ Beginning and the end
The Godhead Three in One/ Father Spirit Son/ The Lion and the Lamb/ The Lion and the Lamb
Name above all names/ Worthy of our praise/ My heart will sing/ How great is our God/ How great is our God, sing with me/ How great is our God, and all will see/ How great, how great is our God

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Sunday Morning Song

"I love songs about horses, railroads, land, judgment day, family, hard times, whiskey, courtship, marriage, adultery, separation, murder, war, prison, rambling, damnation, home, salvation, death, pride, humor, piety, rebellion, patriotism, larceny, determination, tragedy, rowdiness, heartbreak and love. And Mother. And God." Johny Cash

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Sufficiency of Christ and the Gospel in a Post-Modern World

If you want to know what we are up to at The Church of the Cross's Buckwalter Campus, just read what Tim Keller says below and listen to what he has to say about speaking into the post-modern world. Tim Keller is the best representative of the Gospel that the 3rd millenium has to offer. Listen to every word he has to say. God will use him to transform you.

From the 2006 Desiring God Conference
Speaker: Timothy Keller - Date: 30.09.2006

Categories: - -

We never “get beyond the gospel” in our Christian life to something more “advanced.” The gospel is not the first “step” in a “stairway” of truths, rather, it is more like the “hub” in a “wheel” of truth. The gospel is not just the A-B-C’s of Christianity, but it is the A to Z of Christianity. The gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we all make progress in the kingdom.
We are not justified by the gospel and then sanctified by obedience but the gospel is the we grow (Gal. 3:1-3) and are renewed (Col 1:6). It is the solution to each problem, the key to each closed door, the power through every barrier (Rom 1:16-17).
It is very common in the church to think as follows: “The gospel is for non-Christians. One needs it to be saved. But once saved, you grow through hard work and obedience.” But Colossians 1:6 shows that this is a mistake. Both confession and “hard work” that is not arising from and “in line” with the gospel will not sanctify you—it will strangle you. All our problems come from a failure to apply the gospel. Thus when Paul left the Ephesians he committed them “to the word of his grace, which can build you up” (Acts 20:32).
The main problem, then, in the Christian life is that we have not thought out the deep implications of the gospel, we have not “used” the gospel in and on all parts of our life. Richard Lovelace says that most people’s problems are just a failure to be oriented to the gospel—a failure to grasp and believe it through and through. Luther says (on Gal. 2:14), “The truth of the Gospel is the principle article of all Christian doctrine… Most necessary is it that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.” The gospel is not easily comprehended. Paul says that the gospel only does its renewing work in us as we understand it in all its truth. All of us, to some degree live around the truth of the gospel but do new “get” it. So the key to continual and deeper spiritual renewal and revival is the continual re-discovery of the gospel. A stage of renewal is always the discovery of a new implication or application of the gospel—seeing more of its truth. This is true for either an individual or a church.
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Monday, March 05, 2007

The Truth Project!

Focus on the Families Dr. Dell Teckett is putting out some incredibly well put together and very thoughtful work on helping Christians move from a desire to Love God with all of their minds to being able to actually do it through developing what we theologians call a Biblical Worldview. Their work is called the Truth Project . We desperately need more material like this that will help folks who have given up on propositional truth to really see the spiritual and relation benefits of being able to have our minds renewed (Romans 12:1-3). Check out the Trailers for the Truth Project Conferences (both live and on-line) or check out the 25! youtube clips on everything from What is work? to What is Truth? This stuff is insightful.

Truth Project Trailer

What is Truth?

What is Right and Wrong?

What is Evil?

Who is God?

What is the Meaning of Life?

What is Family?

What is Church?

What is Law?

What is Work?

From the Website
What's a Worldview Anyway?
"Worldview" is fast becoming a commonly used term. But do you know what it really means? Dr. Del Tackett shares four important points to keep in mind when seeking to understand the meaning of "worldview."by Dr. Del Tackett
A recent nationwide survey completed by the Barna Research Group determined that only 4 percent of Americans had a "biblical" worldview. When George Barna, who has researched cultural trends and the Christian Church since 1984, looked at the "born- again" believers in America, the results were a dismal 9 percent.
Barna's survey also connected an individual's worldview with his or her moral beliefs and actions. Barna says, "Although most people own a Bible and know some of its content, our research found that most Americans have little idea how to integrate core biblical principles to form a unified and meaningful response to the challenges and opportunities of life."
1. What's a worldview?
A worldview is the framework from which we view reality and make sense of life and the world. "[It's] any ideology, philosophy, theology, movement or religion that provides an overarching approach to understanding God, the world and man's relations to God and the world," says David Noebel, author of Understanding the Times.
For example, a 2-year-old believes he's the center of his world, a secular humanist believes that the material world is all that exists, and a Buddhist believes he can be liberated from suffering by self-purification.
Someone with a biblical worldview believes his primary reason for existence is to love and serve God.
Someone with a biblical worldview believes his primary reason for existence is to love and serve God.
Whether conscious or subconscious, every person has some type of worldview. A personal worldview is a combination of all you believe to be true, and what you believe becomes the driving force behind every emotion, decision and action. Therefore, it affects your response to every area of life: from philosophy to science, theology and anthropology to economics, law, politics, art and social order — everything.
For example, let's suppose you have bought the idea that beauty is in the eye of the beholder (secular relative truth) as opposed to beauty as defined by God's purity and creativity (absolute truth). Then any art piece, no matter how vulgar or abstract, would be considered "art," a creation of beauty.
2. What's a biblical worldview?
A biblical worldview is based on the infallible Word of God. When you believe the Bible is entirely true, then you allow it to be the foundation of everything you say and do. That means, for instance, you take seriously the mandate in Romans 13 to honor the governing authorities by researching the candidates and issues, making voting a priority.
Do you have a biblical worldview? Answer the following questions, based on claims found in the Bible and which George Barna used in his survey:
Do absolute moral truths exist?
Is absolute truth defined by the Bible?
Did Jesus Christ live a sinless life?
Is God the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe, and does He still rule it today?
Is salvation a gift from God that cannot be earned?
Is Satan real?
Does a Christian have a responsibility to share his or her faith in Christ with other people?
Is the Bible accurate in all of its teachings?
Did you answer yes to these? Only 9 percent of "born- again" believers did. But what's more important than your yes to these questions is whether your life shows it. Granted, we are all sinners and fall short, but most of our gut reactions will reflect what we deep-down, honest-to-goodness believe to be real and true.
3. How does a biblical worldview get diluted?
Here is the big problem. Nonbiblical worldview ideas don't just sit in a book somewhere waiting for people to examine them. They bombard us constantly from television, film, music, newspapers, magazines, books and academia.
Because we live in a selfish, fallen world, these ideas seductively appeal to the desires of our flesh, and we often end up incorporating them into our personal worldview. Sadly, we often do this without even knowing it.
For example, most Christians would agree with 1 Thessalonians 4:3 and other Scriptures that command us to avoid sexual immorality, but how often do Christians fall into lust or premarital and extramarital sexual sin? Is it simply because they are weak when tempted, or did it begin much earlier, with the seductive lies from our sexualized society?
4. Why does a biblical worldview matter?
If we don't really believe the truth of God and live it, then our witness will be confusing and misleading.
If we don't really believe the truth of God and live it, then our witness will be confusing and misleading. Most of us go through life not recognizing that our personal worldviews have been deeply affected by the world. Through the media and other influences, the secularized American view of history, law, politics, science, God and man affects our thinking more than we realize. We then are taken "captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ" (Colossians 2:8).
However, by diligently learning, applying and trusting God’s truths in every area of our lives — whether it's watching a movie, communicating with our spouses, raising our children or working at the office — we can begin to develop a deep comprehensive faith that will stand against the unrelenting tide of our culture's nonbiblical ideas. If we capture and embrace more of God's worldview and trust it with unwavering faith, then we begin to make the right decisions and form the appropriate responses to questions on abortion, same- sex marriage, cloning, stem-cell research and even media choices. Because, in the end, it is our decisions and actions that reveal what we really believe.
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2).
Dr. Del Tackett is president of the Focus on the Family Institute. He is also the visionary and teacher for Focus on the Family’s The Truth Project—a nationwide initiative designed to bring the Christian worldview to the body of Christ.Copyright © 2005 Focus on the Family

Saturday, March 03, 2007


Take some time to check out Akiane Kramarik’s art. She is a Christian Artist and Poet who began painting incredibly beautiful art well before age 10. She is presently 12 years old and is clearly a brilliant young Christian girl. There is much surrounding conversation about her being an Indigo (indigo’s are children from the new age community who are unusually intelligent and called indigo’s because of the blue aura that they emminate), though neither she nor her parents self-identify this way. Instead, she appears to be a very orthodox, though mystical, young believer in Jesus Christ.

The Forbidden Fruit …

One morning I woke up earlier than usual, and right away I decided to paint, but I could not find any canvas in my studio. My family was still asleep, so quietly, still in my pajamas, I searched my art closets and found one small canvas that I’d worked on a few years ago, but later gessoed it in black. After my prayer I began painting a young woman’s portrait. next to a branch of fruit. Suddenly I felt God say, blend all the races, because this is Eve, the mother of all mankind. Right then and there, I understood the meaning: The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is full of forbidden fruit: red for the knowledge of evil, the green for the knowledge of good. It was created to be tempting, fragrant and easy to be picked. Although the fruit resembles the grapes, it was not. At first, Eve thinks that she will gain wisdom by biting into the fruit of knowledge, but unexpectedly she finds the deception as the red blood of suffering drips from the green fruit. The knowledge of good and evil is simply too much to understand and experience for a human, and now Eve is looking up to God for forgiveness and help… Akiane

Mother's Love

I painted Mary in a silky blue robe surrounded by a background palette of cerulean, cobalt and Persian blue. This is how I interpreted the vision of baby Jesus and his beautiful young mother. The robe connects both of them as if there were one. Mary is the symbol of love, warmth, affection, tenderness and devotion. Her story is the story of love and faith. What other mother can call her son her heavenly father? Hers is the most unusual life: to protect and raise the Savior. Mary with her tender love embraced Jesus at birth, embraced him on the Cross and embraced him on his resurrection. That is why the lower hand in a shadow is her witnessing the crucifixion, and the upper hand in light is her witnessing both the birth and the resurrection.