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Reformed. Christianity. Evangelism. Modern Culture.
I am currently reading a rare and out of print 1993 book that was kindly given to me by a retired pastor and I have reached the interesting section on ‘church discipline’. Indeed my coffee cup is filled to the brim and I am sprawling on a tiny chair as I indulge in savory words of virtue and wisdom. Okay lets back track a bit -church discipline -this of course is a delicate issue facing any congregation of Christians:
On one hand, believers are sensitive to the claims of truth on the conscience. They are further aware that truth is for the purpose of promoting godliness. Consequently, sin is to be taken seriously, and discipline when necessary, is to be administered according to the gravity of the offense in question. ‘If your brother sins,’ says our Lord, ‘correct him.’ (Matt 18:15).
On the other hand, Christians are aware that the truth has not been entrusted to the church in abstraction from the welfare of the people who are recipients of that truth.
If sin is exposed and corrected, it is only to the end that Christ may be glorified by the recovery and restoration of his errant sheep (cf James 5:19-20). The problem of church discipline, accordingly resides in the BALANCE of the truth and love of people… Read More!
Blair Wingo Linne the wife of Christian musician Shai Linne minces no words as a spoken word artist in her poem as she re introduces Christ… Here is the transcript:
Allow me to reintroduce the Christ…
We got a false Jesus being portrayed
As seen on TV, acting cool, you see He’s changed
A different Jesus from the Bible so
Allow me to bring the real Christ on stage
Not that whack Jesus, the one not based on fact Jesus, too often displayed
The Christ in glory, not the one on your chain
Cause He is the real Jesus peace that only dwells in the saved …Read More!
“The problem in our day, which gives rise to highly questionable church growth methods, is twofold:
On the one hand, we are seeing a waning confidence in the message of the gospel. Even the evangelical church shows signs of losing confidence in the convincing and converting power of the gospel message. That is why increasing numbers of churches prefer sermons on family life and psychological health. We are being overtaken by what Os Guinness calls the managerial and therapeutic revolutions. The winning message, it seems, is the one that helps people to solve their temporal problems, improves their self-esteem and makes them feel good about themselves.
Talking about the the controversial topic of music in worship here is an interesting video (38 minutes) of good Christian discussion on this often misunderstood topic.
[This article was first posted in August 2012] When I came across this church “marketing advert” I was reminded of something that Alistair Begg once said:
A good church is a Bible-centered church. Nothing is as important as this–not a large congregation, a witty pastor, or tangible experiences of “the holy Spirit”. – Alistair Begg
It seems these days church services are geared to be social entertainment events created to provide a euphoric buzz but the least emphasised aspect seems to be Biblical teaching and discipleship. No wonder some so called pastors have very little or even no reverence for God.
A series of five messages by Tom Chantry on the definition of ‘Reformed’. The subjects are neither the Five Points nor the Five Solas. Rather, they define the word ‘Reformed’ in five distinct but complementary ways. We examine the Reformed Perspective on the Bible, on History, on Salvation, on the church, and on the Christian life.
1) Scripturally Reformed– A Reformed perspective of Scripture: Reformed Christians stand with other Evangelicals in affirming the inspiration, infallibility and inerancy of the Bible. We go further, though, in defending both the clarity and the sufficiency of Scripture. These convictions determine our approach to the Bible – the manner in which we study, interpret, and teach its truths. A church which believes in the sufficiency of Scripture will emphasize the ministry of preaching, and the Bible will be central to everything it does. [Download Here]
2) Confessionally Reformed – A Reformed perspective of History: Scripture teaches us certain things about the history of mankind which should impact the manner in which we look at all of history, including the history of the church. Being convinced that sinful men have not changed, we understand that the problems of each age are not really new.
The two perpetual temptations in worship are to believe that older is automatically better and that there is no maturing in the church while on the other hand a second temptation is to believe that there is very little to learn from the early church worship. The second temptation assumes that newer is automatically better. For this group, worship music is to a large degree culturally defined, but the culture is only the newest one. Let’s be clear, while the first error does exist, it is the second error which is the great temptation of our age. We must move on – they beckon and argue. We must be relevant. The great sin of our age (it seems)is to look old. But before you make an overhaul in church music to become either “traditional” or “contemporary and relevant” here are 5 things to consider:
1. We should be grateful for what we have. We live in an age of complainers. We whine about everything, including church music. Yes, there is always room for improvement. Yes, we all cringe at certain songs. Yes, it would be nice if we had the Psalms that were not paraphrased set to music. Yes, it would be nice if we had better contemporary music. But God has been good to us. We have a great musical heritage from Ambrose to Luther to Wesley. We have more and more Psalms being set to music every year. Growth comes from gratitude not from grumbling.
2. Any reformation in church music must be built on the foundations of love for Christ and love for his people. If we seek reformation because we want to be “traditional” or because we want to be “relevant” we are going to make fundamental mistakes. Love for Christ and love for the Church form the center.
3. Singing in worship revolves around two primary things: faithfulness to God’s Word and the voice of the people. Everything else is important, but secondary to these two things. This is why our fathers chanted. They could chant the Word of God exactly as it is. And chanting highlighted the voice of the people.
I wish I had come up with these recommendations but I am glad that a concerned pastor has beaten me to it and done it the way an elder should….
1. Write and sing songs that exalt the Godhead, rather than songs to and about the congregation or audience.
2. In many instances, simple is better. But be careful not to dumb down worship by only writing and performing simplistic songs. 7-11 songs – where you keep saying the same seven words eleven times – are not edifying. Write a text. Make a point. Give us something grand about Christ and the gospel to listen to, sing, and think about.
3. Please stop doing so much talking before, during, and after the songs. Just sing. And let the lyrics speak for themselves.
4. Take the time to have a pastor or Bible teacher review your lyrics, to help you think through the theological, doctrinal, and textual implications of your lyrics. (Hopefully, it can be your pastor. You do have a pastor, don’t you?) Word of Faith teachers do not count on theological grounds.
5. Be sensitive to the fact that your recordings influence many local churches, music departments, and worship services – for better or for worse. …Read More!
You must have asked yourself this question a couple of times.
Traditionally, Christian radio is where music, both contemporary and traditional, honors God and preachers speak from Bible passages. The on-air personalities talk about many subjects but these subjects always honor God and show how He is sovereign in life’s events.
We have a station in our area that is young and hip. It is called **** FM. They play hard edged rock style music that has some sort of spiritual message to it. Some songs are better than others at calling God or Jesus’ name. Usually no name is mentioned just attributes.
Do they want bigger hot dogs? Flavored water or cushions for their ankles the customer is king. This is the approach to successful entrepreneurship. It is sometimes no different when it comes to modern day church marketing only that it is called being ‘purpose driven’. Long gone are the days of preaching the gospel and teaching sound doctrine. It’s not uncommon to hear pastors talk and ask questions like ‘what’s the vision for your church?’ or ‘how is your church going to grow?’ By ‘vision’ they usually mean ‘a purpose driven plan’ or pragmatic approach to church growth.
You see, the purpose driven church movement makes several assumptions but here we will look at 5 common errors and how they deviate from scripture.
1.A pragmatic church assumes that the primary purpose of Sunday morning church services is to reach out to unbelievers who are some times erroneously referred to as ‘unchurched christians’ . In the New Testament, however, the reason the church gathers is for worship and equipping (Eph. 4:11-16; Acts 2:37-47). Evangelism is to primarily take place in the believer’s life context (“as you go”—Matt. 28:18-20) rather than being the main focus of the Sunday worship service. …Read More!
Jovan Mackenzy the conservative Christian Hip Hop musician who once featured in the hit song What am I to do? (that sent prosperity preachers scampering) has placed not only one song but
a whole album THREE MORE ALBUMS out free to every body and anybody. Yup, the Narrow Road: Famine , Strangers and Pilgrims and The Isaiah 6 Complex (plus the very first album The Narrow Road) can all be downloaded here. [This post was first published in Feb 2012 and updated June 2013]
Matt Papa has an interesting article on Contemporary Christian Music (CCM). It begins with a a person, a golden target audience prototype…
Meet Becky: She’s a 38 year old soccer-mom with 3 kids. She drives a mini-van, because if she didn’t, well where would she put all the crayons and goldfish? She is a loving wife and mother and is actively involved at her church. She lives in the suburbs but volunteers at the local food pantry. Becky is pretty awesome. And one more important detail about Becky…..she listens to christian radio exclusively. Yep, that’s right. And you actually already know her.
Becky isn’t one person of course…she is the prototype target audience created by the christian music industry for christian radio. True story. She’s been around about 6 or 7 years now. Christian radio demographic research discovered that “Becky” is the one who is listening, so “Becky” is the audience they relentlessly target. So here’s what happens: …Read More!
Today’s church screams, “Jesus is not enough”. We have church services where the preacher gives motivational pep talks, have exhilarating laser light shows to excite unbelievers into a form of church experience. We have relegated good and sound Bible exposition out of the pulpit. Oh, (and not to forget) you gotta love the recent Code orange Revival launched by one pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation church. To begin the “revival” he led the congregation in
a hymn a rendition of secular super star and celebrity Rihanna’s hit song. No kidding! This is of course a far cry from the preachers and Christians of yester year who really loved the Lord, sang about Him. They reverently honored Him even in their worship. He was the centre piece to which their whole livelihood focused. Who is the focus of our adoration today?
“At last I saw Christ as my Saviour. I believed in Him and gave myself to Him. The burden rolled from off me, and a great love for Christ filled my soul. That was more than fifty years ago. I loved Jesus Christ then, but I loved Him more the year after, and more the year after that, and more every year since” – George Muller (1805 – 1898) …Read More!
Every generation has always had a “voice crying in the wilderness”-calling people to come back to God. In the all time classic sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) the evangelist and renowned American Reformed Theologian preached emphasizing the widely held belief that Hell is a real and functional place. Edwards hoped that the imagery and message of his sermon would awaken his audience to the horrific reality that he argued awaited them should they continue without Christ. Read more of this post
LANCASTER, Pa. — Maria Holsapple thought she was attending performances at the local community theater, but after twelve weeks, she was angered to learn she had been attending Oak Grove Center, a 3,000-member church.
“I would never willingly go into an evangelical church,” says Holsapple, a practicing Catholic.
She came after Oak Grove mailed her “tickets” to upcoming “drama presentations.” She enjoyed the “mini-concert, the play and the motivational speech they threw in at the end,” she says.
“It worked well as performance art,” she says. “I was convinced it was a groundbreaking new theater company.” Read More
If you walk into your local Christian music store in the next couple of days dont forget to ask for a copy of Shai Linne’s new album, The Attributes of God. Well its out and from what I hear about it I think its had a good reception especially among conservative Christians.
Okay, okay! Just because you asked I will feature one piece from the album. Here is his wife Blair reciting “The Perfection of Beauty”:
One friend on Facebook drew my attention to one of the songs The Glory of God. She said:
“Never thought I would be a huge fan of Hip-hop. Thanks to Shai Linne, now I am. I find amazing Shai Linne songs [sic], and put them on “replay-endlessly”. They are so rich, it takes several listenings to hear it all, and several more to digest it. SDG, Shai!” …Read More!
This is a typical example of a man centred song. Literally…
Seriously, where are the good song writers of old? People who wrote God exalting lyrics with profound depth. …More!
On a lighter note: In fear of losing his job to a contemporary praise band, church organist Ernest Cleghorn wowed the congregation with his hip hop rendition of “Yo, Worship the King”.
[HT Reformed Gene via Facebook]
Kirk Franklin’s meteoric rise in the late 1990s across the Christian-secular divide was followed by instant world wide recognition. With unprecedented popularity came the usual questions. Would he sell out and water down his message? Would there be a down grade? Would he let the whole world sing to traditional gospel songs like Savior more than Life To me or The Reason Why We Sing ? Kirk’s best answer to that question was his next ear deafening hit aptly titled Stomp.
Stomp, featuring Cheryl “Salt” James (of Salt-N-Pepa), was a huge hit, enjoying heavy rotation on MTV and other music channels, and charting at No. 1 on the R&B Singles Airplay chart for 2 weeks, even making it in to the Top 40. This was the long awaited manna in form of a groovy Holy Hip hop tune. Kirk had finally introduced the entertainment world to a luke warm ‘lovable Hip Jesus’ who you could dance and groove to till you got high. Theologically by popularising his message of a ‘lovable Hip Jesus’ was he making both church folk and secular audiences happy with the same tune? Or was he another pied piper dulling the ears of a generation and making the Holy appear common? …Read More!
Well, well, well. I would have loved to have come up with these patented methods but some body beat me to them. But I was close though. 😉 So, do you….
Want to be in a Mega-Church? Want to start one? Want to know how to function like a Mega-Church? Here are 666 ways. (Ooops my 6 key stuck, sorry, I meant: 6 ways.)
1. Insist on a lack of specificity. Can we be honest here? The more specific you are with doctrine, the more detailed your statement of faith – the more likely you will make some uncomfortable or confused. Solution? Be very VERY general. For instance, under “Beliefs” use a small list. Maybe four items. (1) We believe in God (2) We love Jesus (3) People are important (4) We have no expectations. Now I ask you, how can you lose with that? That would barely offend an ACLU lawyer.
2. Sing a LOT of songs and have talented, professional quality musicians and singers. Sing a LOT of songs. Don’t sing the old dirge hymns, sing things that are peppy and fast. Sing a LOT of songs. Don’t emphasize doctrinal content like the old hymns, make the songs subjective. …Read More!
Lamp Mode Recordings is an independently owned and operated recording label based out of Philadelphia, PA. In its recent talk show (The Chopping block) Json, Stephen the Levite, Hazakim and Shai Linne step up to discuss “Reformed Theology” Listen in…
Lamp Mode Recordings appears to be more theologically driven than entertainment bent. Their mission statement reads:
Highlighting the Character of God, while presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ and a biblical world view through hiphop culture…We are not influenced by the radio. We are not influenced by “what’s hot”. …Read More!
Dan Kimball has a book titled The Emerging Church. Roger Oakland has an indepth article that looks closely at this new trend. This current generation lives in a period in church history that is characterized by enthusiasm for methods and means that facilitate church growth. Large churches are commonly equated with successful pastors and successful church growth methods. Whatever it takes to reach that objective, is acceptable, we are told. Church growth has become the measuring stick for successful Christianity. Well…
While Dan Kimball and other promoters of the emerging church may be sincere in their efforts to evangelize the postmodern generation and believe they are genuinely representing the scriptures, there are some real concerns that need to be addressed. Deviating from the Word of God for extrabiblical experience can open the door to deception. While worshipping God is a very important part of the Christian faith there are problems that can occur if worship supersedes the word. …Read More!
In recent years a new movement within the evangelical church has come into vogue, commonly referred to as “seeker sensitive.” Generally, this movement has seen a great deal of growth. Many “seeker” churches are now mega-churches with well-known pastors who are riding a wave of popularity in the evangelical world.
So, what is this movement all about? Where does it come from? And, most importantly, is it biblical? Basically, the seeker-sensitive church tries to reach out to the unsaved person by making the church experience as comfortable, inviting, and non-threatening to him as possible. The hope is that the person will believe in the gospel. …Read More!
Is real good solid bible teaching on a downward spiral? Or are we too sedated to recall the words of Dr Martin Lloyd Jones and we haven’t noticed that….
“As preaching has waned, there has been an increase in the formal element in the service. It is interesting to observe how Free-Church men, non-Episcopalians, whatever you may call them, have been increasingly borrowing these ideas from the Episcopal type of service as preaching has waned. They have argued that the people should have a greater part in the service and so they have introduced “responsive reading”, and more and more music and singing and chanting. …Read More!
It is said that if you want to know what a people in a place are,you have to look at the content of their most popular pass times, poems or music. Paul in his famous visit to Athens (Acts 17) strolls through the place and gets distressed as he sees a city riddled with idols. This eventually leads to his famous discourse at the Areopagus before the dilettante philosophers of the day.
So, if Paul strolled in to a modern day metropolis like Sydney, Australia today and looked at the front news papers or sampled their culture what impression would he get? Surely he would be proud of them. Afterall haven’t you heard that even….
A local church’s latest album is outselling those of celebrated pop stars Beyonce and Lady GaGa. …Read More!
By Charles Spurgeon
Our Savior did not use any means which might enlist man’s lower nature on his side. When I have heard of large congregations gathered together by the music of a fine choir, I have remembered that the same thing is done at the opera house and the music-hall, and I have felt no joy. When we have heard of crowds enchanted by the sublime music of the pealing organ, I have seen in the fact rather a glorification of St. Cecilia than of Jesus Christ. Our Lord trusted in no measure or degree to the charms of music for the establishing his throne. He has not given to his disciples the slightest intimation that they are to employ the attractions of the concert room to promote the kingdom of heaven. There’s More
This morning I woke up and was blessed by the words of the song, Asleep in The Light. A Keith Green classic that I have always loved since I first heard it a long while ago. I don’t know about you but reading through the lyrics alone always gives me goose bumps…
Asleep in The Light
Do you see, do you see
All the people sinking down
Don’t you care, don’t you care
Are you gonna let them drown
How can you be so numb
Not to care if they come
You close your eyes
And pretend the job’s done
“Oh bless me Lord, bless me Lord”
You know it’s all I ever hear
No one aches, no one hurts
No one even sheds one tear
But He cries, He weeps, He bleeds
And He cares for your needs
And you just lay back
And keep soaking it in,
Oh, can’t you see it’s such a sin? Read More
Some things are really hard to explain to new believers or let alone old believers and more so I can imagine if the good Lord sent Apostle Paul back to earth and he bumped into this poster on a church notice board. What would he make of it?
Oh I forgot it’s not a night club…its a light club. Whatever! Read More
“I Finally Got Sent A Hillsong Video That Proves They Preach The Gospel . . . NOT!!” says Cameron Buettel a blogger who set up an interesting challenge. This is the what he found…
To his credit Troy did take up my challenge that no one else has responded to. He went looking for a solid example of someone from Hillsong church preaching the Gospel. I had burdened Troy with the responsibility of substantiating his claim that:
I can assure you that I’ve been to Hillsong quite a few times and have heard the gospel accurately preached. Yes, including the mention of sin and the cross. But There’s More
By Museum of Idolatry.
The wildly popular yet wholesome Jonas Brothers will perform for Saddleback Church next month during the Southern California megachurch’s Easter service.
Saddleback senior pastor Rick Warren announced the pop rock boy band’s upcoming performance this week in a tweet two months before his church kicks off a flurry of activities.
This year, Saddleback’s Easter service will be unlike any of its previous ones, and not just because the Jonas Brothers will be there along with Christian music artist Kari Jobe. Read More
Ever wondered who worship is for? The Wittenburg Door has a good guide to understanding the mind numbing dynamics of contemporary Christian music. Plug your head phones in and grit your teeth…..
Thank you for choosing to worship with us today. If you are from a church that uses traditional hymns, you may be confused. Please take a moment to read through this guide to contemporary Christian music.
In our church you will not hear “How Great Thou Art,” “Wonderful Grace of Jesus,” or “Like a River Glorious.” (Generally, hymns that have words like “Thou” are not used. They are too archaic and are normally replaced by words like “awesome” and “miry clay”). Yes, okay, we may do “Amazing Grace” or “Peace Like a River” at some point, but as a general rule we avoid songs with too many different verses or those that can’t be played easily on guitar and drums.
If you are new to worship here, you may wish to know the reasons for this. One is that deep theological concepts do not belong in contemporary Christian worship. We frown on songs that change more than one or two words for each verse. For example, our version of “Holy is the Lord” consists of repeating that phrase six times per verse and then changing “Holy” to “Worthy,” “Mighty,” “Jesus” and finally changing “the” to “my.” Isn’t that much simpler to sing and easier to remember? Read More