Friday, January 30, 2009

"I Inhaled Alice In Wonderland."

You have to watch this. This is incredible.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

That God Be Known

When I go on road trips, I like to take some good preaching along that I can listen to on the drive. Last week afforded me such an opportunity, and I was quite taken with a message by Paul Washer called The True Gospel (part 4). So taken, as a matter of fact, that I transcribed a portion of it below. Have fun trying to wrap your mind around the magnitude of what he says here:

So many people have always asked me, “What is the main reason for existence, the world, creation – everything?” That’s a pretty big question. But I know the answer. “He has raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. So that, in the ages to come he might show the surpassing riches of his grace and kindness towards us in Christ Jesus. So that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known, through the church and the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”

One thing all theologians are in agreement about is that God is a God of revelation – not the book of Revelation, but the thing of revelation. God is the God who desires to reveal himself.

Look at the world: God could have done better than this, don’t you think? He could’ve made something far greater than this. It’s almost as though the greatest act of creation is still a humbling on the part of God. Why would he make a heaven, and then make a ball of dirt? Why would he make angels, whose glory is so superb that if they were to walk into the room right now, I dare say we would all die. And then, make a man out of dirt.

Why is it that Satan fell, and no promise of salvation was given to him? Why is it that he was given perfect justice, and that everyone cried out, “Holy, holy, holy!”? And why is it that that little ball of dirt fell?

Why would God not only sustain this world physically? Why would he not sustain it spiritually? He could’ve sustained Adam by his grace and Adam would have never fallen. One of the greatest philosophical problems in all of scripture is this: if Adam was created good – and he was – then how did he fall? Because good cannot be tempted. There was nothing in him to attract him to evil. The fact is that God did not sustain him – in his (God’s) goodness. He fell, but God could have done other.

Here is something you need to see: the most important thing that there is in everything is that God be known. And whatever has to happen needs to happen, and it’s worth happening if God can be known through it.

Here’s a problem that you need to realize: the greatest things that we sing about in the church are not wrath, or judgment, or condemnation, but unconditional love, and mercy, and grace. And here’s the problem: you can’t know unconditional love when everybody meets the conditions. You can’t know mercy where no one deserves judgment. You can’t understand grace in a place where everybody deserves everything good.

There is a sense in which people say that Jesus Christ, because of the fall, it was necessary that Jesus die. But it would be more appropriate to say that is was necessary that there be a fall so that Jesus could die so that we could know God.

There is a great purpose, farther and deeper than even our own salvation going on in all this, because here’s what’s going to happen: principalities and powers, and mights and dominion all set themselves in array to know this God, but how can he be known? God takes it upon himself to reveal himself in all his glory. From their own history, they most expect that when this little ball of dirt rebels – clenches its fist in the face of God and says, “I will not!” that the thing would befall him that befell Satan – that he would be judged and be put away, and that all of creation would cry out “Holy and just is he who sits upon the throne!”

The fact of the matter is that when Adam fell, he did not die, but a promise came. And all of heaven stood in awe: “Who is this God?” And then there is mercy and grace poured out on men – common grace, and special grace, and God doing works through men who never live up to the bargain.

And then there’s you: a sinner, born in sin, a covenant breaker, a law breaker, a God hater. All of creation looks at you; every principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and they realize you should die.

But then, one day, someone preached the gospel to you. And you heard a voice within a voice – an irresistible draw. A change happened, a re-creation in the very core of your being. For the first time in your life your eyes were opened up and you looked upon Christ, and you believed, and all of heaven watched in awe and fell down on its face and worshipped God.

And then, throughout all your life, you will work and you will struggle and you will fall. And you will do good things and you will do bad things, and for the most part be at some odds and fear because of all your failures. But all of creation will look on and say, “This God always completely and eternally loves this man or this woman.”

Then one day a trumpet will blow and you will be raised and you will be with him, and you will be in glory. And every day of glory – if you can say such a thing – God will pour more and more and more blessing and heap it upon your head. He’ll give you the choicest place at his table, exalt you to his right hand in Christ.

And all of heaven, when it is done, will look upon that and fall down and worship God because of the goodness he gave to you.

That’s the purpose of everything you are. Every day he will heap greater and greater and greater blessing upon your head, so that all the world will look at what you were, and see what you are, and what he’s done, and fall down and worship God.

And the greater blessing of each passing day will cause greater praise from each principality, might, and dominion, that God could be the God that is this way.

That’s something to live for. That’s something to die for.

This is all about him. And he has chosen you: the most ignoble; the most base; the most nothing, to exalt you to his own right hand in Christ and heap upon you things that angels have never seen. And demonstrate his goodness so that all will worship him.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Pres. Obama: "How do we reduce the number of abortions?"

First watch this (and take particular note of the statement at 1:37):

Now read this: President Obama struck down a rule Friday that prohibits U.S. money from funding international family-planning clinics that promote abortion or provide counseling or referrals about abortion services.

Hmm. Something's not right here: on the campaign trail, Obama says he wants to reduce the number of abortions. Once in office, Obama reinstates federal funding (that's right, your tax dollars) for abortions over seas - in other words, increasing the number of abortions. How do those two go together, exactly?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

It Figures

I drove to Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Monday. It was extremely windy and cold, making the driving conditions very difficult. Here's the weather from Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday - my days in town (non-driving days):

Tuesday: Partly sunny, 27 degrees.
Wednesday: Mostly sunny, 37 degrees.
Thursday: Mostly sunny, 34 degrees.

Absolutely beautiful weather for January! Perfect days for this time of year. BUT! The forecast for tomorrow - the day I drive home (at night, no less) is: 8 degrees, extremely windy, and a wind chill of -9.

It figures.

Monday, January 19, 2009

South Dakota Bound

I'm in Sioux Falls, South Dakota this week to attend a required course for my seminary education. I have to take this class before they'll let me take any other classes this spring. It's certainly not the most convenient of trips, but it has to be done.

I came down here last March to visit the campus, and the drive down was less than fun. I was driving at night and found the highways to be sketchy, with spots of ice on them that weren't revealed by the headlights of my car until I was right on top of them. It was rather nerve wracking.

To avoid the same thing happening this time around, I decided to make the trip in the daylight, so even if the roads were bad I'd at least have the light available to navigate them safely.

My plan didn't work.

About half way through the trip, the wind began to blow at an extreme speed. Snow was whipping across the highway, hiding the pavement, and I literally had to adjust my steering to offset the force of the wind. This became especially interesting when I drove under bridges, where there was no wind. As soon as went under the bridge, the wind stopped, and my steering wheel position caused my car to jerk to the right. And then when I was out from beneath the bridge, the wind slammed me back to the left.

And since the snow was blowing so wildly, it was blowing snow all over and across the highway. It wasn't particularly slippery, but it was very difficult to see the road.

So, needless to say, despite my efforts to make my drive this time more comforting and relaxing, it was anything but. Hopefully the trip home (Friday!) will be more smooth.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Is It A Miracle?

You've no doubt heard about the "Miracle on the Hudson" by now, referring to the plane that was safely crash landed in the Hudson river after losing both engines to bird strikes. Not a single passenger on the plane was seriously injured - something that we can all thank God for.

Everyone in the media and those aboard the plane are calling this a "miracle" (as is noted by the name the media has given the event: "Miracle on the Hudson"). But for some reason, using the terminology of "miracle" doesn't sit well with me. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely think that the fact that this plane landed somewhat safely and all passengers avoided injury is absolutely remarkable. But to say that this is something miraculous is, I don't think, quite accurate.

For starters, pilots are trained, re-trained, and trained again to handle these situations. The pilot of this plane merely let his training take over when he realized there were problems, and the training worked: he landed the plane safely. Nothing miraculous about that. He just did what he was trained to do.

Also, I'm a little put off by what can almost be described as hero worship when it comes to the pilot. I'm sure that he would be the first to tell you that he didn't do anything extraordinary - he just did what he was trained to do. But a lot of people are calling him a hero, and are becoming his "fans." Somebody set up a Facebook page for this guy, and he currently has 253,916 "fans" and counting (note: he was only at about 206,000 a few hours ago). Don't get me wrong: this man's level headed actions are what saved the passengers on board that plane, and he should be commended for it, but is he really a hero?

I'm not trying to be a wet blanket here, just trying to see things in perspective. If we want to call this a miracle, then we should also look at the fact that I drove home safely tonight and didn't die (after all, I am more likely to die on my way home than I am in a plane) as a miracle as well.

If anything, this instance is merely an example of what is called the "common" grace of God. In other words, the only thing that prevented that plane from crashing and killing all people on board was the grace of God. If the human race (sinners) received what it deserved from God, EVERYONE would die on their car-ride home. Everyone would die on their next plane trip. Everyone would be struck dead by lightning. It's only by the common grace of God that those things don't happen. In fact, it's only by the common grace of God that I have air in my lungs and that my heart is beating as I write this. It's only by the common grace of God that you are sitting where you are, reading this. In other words, the only reason you and I aren't dead is that God has been merciful, graceful, and kind towards us. If we were given what we truly deserve (the just anger of God for our sin), we wouldn't even be having this conversation. All the more reason to repent! Who knows when the common grace of God will be lifted off my life?

So then, if you want to say that God's common grace in and of itself is a miracle, then by all means, label this plane crash as a miracle. Let's just be sure to give credit where credit is due - to God. Instead of exalting Capt. Sullenberger for his heroic actions, exalt God that he saw fit to spare the lives of those passengers. And glorify God, that he has allowed you to live as well.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Revelation of the Century: Jail Sucks

So says rapper DMX. Check out this interview:

I'm not even sure what to say about those remarks: "I learned that this is not where I want to be..." Really? You mean being in jail is something I SHOULDN'T aspire to? Hmmm. I might have to think on that one for a while.

You almost have to feel sorry for DMX. It seems as though his realization that prison isn't supposed to be fun is something that has really made him sad. His ignorance is literally making me laugh as I write this.

His reference to the pink underwear is a result of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's new prison policies. Prisoners are forced to wear pink as a means of demoralizing them. The sheriff also eliminated all cable television except the Disney channel and the Weather channel. He has also resurrected the use of the chain gang, and makes prisoners sleep in tents in the middle of the desert. As DMX noted, it's hard to be the life of the party when you're wearing pink while working on the chain gang, talking about last night's rebroadcast of The Little Mermaid.

But isn't that the point of prison? Since when is justice served and punishment for crime supposed to be fun? Kudos to Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and kudos again, for making jail suck. Maybe next time DMX will think twice before putting himself in a situation that lands him there.

Not Impressive

The controversy over at Northwestern College continues to flourish, and I am continually surprised at the school's lack of response to the allegations leveled against it. The latest series of questions come in the form of a letter from alumni, parents, financial backers, former board members, etc. to the current board of trustees and the president of the school. I read the letter, and I find myself agreeing with its author(s) - there are serious questions regarding "theological drift" and moral integrity that need to be answered.

And you would think it would behoove the college and the school's president to address these concerns in a timely way, and in a spirit that is seeking after the truth. But from what I can tell, neither of those things have happened. The college's "response" to the letter isn't really much of a response at all. It's just a restatement of their position, that there has never been issues of theological drift or moral integrity at the school (note: this position is one of the things they are accused of in the original letter: simply restating that there is no problem. While this may or may not be the case, it certainly doesn't resolve the matter in the minds of those who have raised the questions).

I'm really confounded by the fact that Northwestern doesn't speak out about these things. There's only one of two possibilities: either the allegations raised by several individuals from all areas (staff, alumni, financial backers, students, etc>0 are completely unfounded or they aren't. If they are unfounded, I would think the school and the president would want to stand up for their reputation, not to mention cling to what is true. If the allegations are true, then I would think the school would want to distance itself from those members of the board and the president in the effort of pursuing righteousness.

But alas, the school has done neither. The ball is in their court. Everybody wants them to respond, but it seems as though they won't. It's not helping their case at all - at least not with me.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Weird Church Sign

I was driving from my parents' house to work today, and I drove past a United Methodist church that had a portable sign out in the front that read, "If you don't throw the dice, you can't roll a six." I don't know about you, but I consider that to be an odd thing for a church to put on their sign. It's completely void of any context, it has nothing to do with spirituality, plus it has to do with chance. Not chance in the gambling sort of way, but chance when it comes to God. Are we really rolling the dice in life when it come's to our relationship with God? I don't think so.

Church's just need to stop putting stupid crap on their signs. How many goofy, cliche, catch phrases to we need? I wonder how many people really drive by those signs, read the stupid cliche on it and say, "Wow, that was really powerful," as compared to how many who drive by, read the cliche and mutter something under their breath about how stupid it is. Personally, I tend to fall into the latter category.

In my early twenties I was the janitor at Riverview, which meant I was highly involved with our church's sign - the maintenance of it, what to put on it, etc. In my opinion, it was always best to just put the dates and times of the church's programs on the sign, rather than try to get cutesy and put some goofy catch phrase or cliche on the sign. Believe it or not, I actually saw this on the sign of a local church in Inver Grove Heights:

How stupid is that! This sign basically says, "Come to our church because we're better than Google." If a church has to start appealing to people because of their superiority over something like Google, they've completely lost it.

Our default sign setting at Riverview is "God's Word is truth." I like that. It's not cutesy. It's not a catch phrase. It's not a cliche. It's not trying to appeal to your sensitive side. You either like it, or you don't. You agree, or you don't. It also says a lot about our church. We believe God's word is truth, and that's it.

At the very least, you have to admit that it's better than "If you don't throw the dice, you'll never roll a six."

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Power And Compassion

This article from Science Daily is really fascinating, considering the current series within the gospel of Luke that we are looking at during our early service. The article describes a recent psychological study that took place that actually measures the level of compassion that powerful people have. Read the article for all the details of the study, or I can break it down for you here. The study basically finds that powerful people (that is, people who consider themselves to possess a significant amount of power, or who are in positions of power) tend to have less compassion when confronted with the pain and suffering of others than those who are considered to be less powerful. That is to say that the more power a person possesses, the less compassion they feel towards people who are experiencing pain, suffering, loss, or are in need.

If the findings of this study are accurate, they are amazing, especially considering what we have been learning about Jesus' power as described in Luke 8. Luke tends to make a big deal out of how powerful Jesus is - he wants his readers to know that Jesus is not just an ordinary human being - he wants them to know that Jesus is extremely powerful, in fact, so powerful that the only conclusion you can come to is that he is God.

But Luke also wants to show his readers that Jesus is not completely separated from the rest of humanity. Although he does possess an unthinkable amount of power, he is still connected to humanity through his compassion, mercy, kindness, goodness, love, etc. That's why the gospels specifically point out Jesus' emotional attachment to those he ministered to. He didn't just do miracles for the sake of doing miracles - he did them because he cared about the people the miracles effected - he cared about the condition and situation of each and every person he came into contact with.

So then, when we consider the fact that Jesus has ultimate power over the universe and those who dwell in it, and also his compassion for the state of mankind (physical and spiritual), it seems to totally fly in the face of the findings of the study mentioned above. The study says that powerful people tend to feel less compassion. Jesus, however, had complete and ultimate power, but at the same time possessed all compassion for mankind - a state of being that is not in agreement with the findings of this study. But I guess that's what makes him God!

If you think about it, the findings of the study aren't too surprising: it's easy to see why powerful people tend to have less compassion. They have resources; they have wealth; they have authority; they have success; they have the ability to produce an effect on situations and people. In a sense, compassion is beneath them (note: I am not saying that all powerful people fit this description, but it is certainly true in a general sense).

Jesus, however, smashes through all those stereotypes, even though they all fit him perfectly: he has resources (the cattle on a thousand hills); he has wealth (all glory and honor from every tribe and every tongue); he has all authority (over all nations and kingdoms); he has success; he has the ability to produce an effect on situations and people (everyone will bow to him). And yet, he cares for the lowliest of people. He heals the leper; he heals the paralyzed man; he casts out the spirits of demoniac. Jesus is essentially the embodiment of all power, caring for the lowest in society.

The powerful people who had their level of compassion measured were probably lawyers, politicians, CEO's, supervisors, etc. And when they had their level of compassion measured when exposed to the loss and suffering and pain of others, it certainly wasn't off the charts. But what kind of reading would you get if you hooked the source of all power up to the compassion-meter? The machine would probably break, because the ultimate source of power is also the ultimate source of compassion.

It's all a good example of how we abuse the power we have. I may not be a lawyer, politician, or CEO, but I certainly possess a certain amount of power. Have I let my "power" influence my compassion? I can guarantee it. That's why Jesus is the perfect example of humility: the source of all power, filled with compassion for people.

Mind blowing.

The Devil's Devices

In one of my daily Grace Gems emails, I recently received this excerpt from a book called "Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices" By Thomas Brooks (1608-1680). While quite lengthy, I thought it made several excellent scriptural points about how Satan works, and the "remedies" for each of them. Take a look. You can find a summarized, outlined version of the text here.


Saturday, January 10, 2009


Betsy turned me on to this show on channel 2. It's called "Make." It's basically a show about people who make cool stuff out of common, every day things from their house, or from stuff they have just lying around. The first episode I saw had this clip on it. The guy builds an automatic cat feeding machine out of plywood, a VCR, three pulleys, PVC pipe, and a CD spindle. Makes me wish I was handy. Check out their website for all kinds of cool stuff you can make out of junk.

Maker Workshop - VCR Cat Feeder from make magazine on Vimeo.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Greatest Hindrance To The Gospel Today

Allow me to recommend Tim Challies' post to you from today. He interestingly talks about how Christians are, and aren't the greatest hindrance to the gospel. Ultimately, God is sovereign over his gospel - and its propagation, and he will use us in the state we are in to see his kingdom come.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Polar Bear Update

During my research for this post, I came across this article from The Eco Inquirer and thought you might enjoy it.


(Cold Bay, Alaska) Warming temperatures in polar regions are causing an increasing number of polar bears to collapse from heat exhaustion, local hunters report.

Jeremiah Johnson, a local hunter who tracks and kills polar bears "because they are there" has seen three of the behemoths collapse before him in just the last month. "It just isn't sporting to shoot one of these creatures when they are suffering like this", Johnson said as he recounted his attempts to revive a bear he was ready to shoot.

Local TV meteorologist Sky McCloud explained, "Average annual temperatures in the area have risen from 20 degrees below zero to 15 below zero in the last 30 years, and these giant creatures simply can not withstand the excess heat."

Bear researchers concur with McCloud. Dr. Phillip Slander, of the University of Alaska's Wildlife Health and Comfort Department, said "People don't realize how much heat stress these temperatures put on polar bears. The bears are increasingly being seen taking dips in the ocean in their attempts to cool off."

Researchers believe that it is only a matter of time before polar bears are pushed to the brink of extinction. "Ten degrees below zero seems to be the generally agreed tipping point", said McCloud. "Once average temperatures reach this level for several days in a row, the bears start dropping like flies."

Dr. Slander recounted a recent incident in which a polar bear attacked a local homeless man, and had devoured only a small part of the man's body before collapsing from exhaustion. "Because of global warming, the bears' normal way of life is changing's tragic."

More Reasons To Trust God With Our (His) Planet

Did you hear about this? It's a report that says that arctic ice levels have returned to the same point they were at in 1979. That's 30 years ago, folks. Looks like we're actually not as bad off as the global warming freaks want us to think we are.

The story goes on to say that the ice re-froze in about the past seven months. That's an incredibly quick rate of freeze - in fact, it's extremely improbable, if not impossible, according to what scientists "know" about these sort of things. Lesson learned: we don't "know" too much about how the earth works, let alone the kind of effects that mankind has on it.

I also appreciated the last line of the article: "In May, concerns over disappearing sea ice led the U.S. to officially list the polar bear a threatened species, over objections from experts who claimed the animal's numbers were increasing." Well, I think we can take the polar bears off the threatened species list now that their habitat is as large as it's been in the last 30 years (not to mention the fact that scientists say the polar bear population is INCREASING - seriously, where do people get off with doing this crap?).

For example, take a look at the L.A. Times' original story that declared the polar bear as a threatened species: "The animal, whose habitat has been shrinking with the melting of Arctic sea ice, is the first to be designated as threatened with extinction mainly because of global warming." There are at least three things about that sentence that are not true: 1) the polar bear's habitat is not shrinking; 2) polar bears are not threatened with extinction; and 3) global warming has nothing to do with shrinking sea ice or the polar bear population.

If nothing else, this article shows us that a lot of global warming / greenhouse effect / climate change people are just a bunch of knee-jerk reactionists (except the interesting thing is that it turns out there was nothing really to jerk their knees or react over).

If anything, this story just gives us even more reason to be good stewards of our resources, and trust God to take care of HIS creation.

The Wonder Of The Universe

I asked for, and received the movie "Expelled" for Christmas. I had seen it in the theaters, but thought it would be cool to have my own copy. I finally opened the thing up and watched it last week. If you're not familiar with "Expelled," it's a documentary that talks about whether or not there is any scientific credence to the "Intelligent Design" theory, and how those in the world of academics who subscribe to the theory are discriminated against. I would recommend you check it out (plus Ben Stein is really funny, and just a cool guy).

Also included in the DVD packaging was a tiny little booklet called "The Wonder Of The Universe: A Special Collection of Quotations from Great Minds Throughout History." After reading through the booklet and appreciating its contents, I thought I'd post some of the quotes here.

"I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how he could look up into the heavens and say there is no God."
Abraham Lincoln

"O Lord, thou givest us everything, at the price of an effort."
-Leonardo Da Vinci

"No man really becomes a fool until he stops asking questions."
-Charles P. Steinmetz

"Curiosity is the thirst of the soul."
-Samuel Johnson

"Science brings men nearer to God."
-Louis Pasteur

"Truth between candid minds can never do harm."
-Thomas Jefferson

"The visible marks of extraordinary wisdom and power appear so plainly in all the works of the creation that a rational creature, who will but seriously reflect on them, cannot miss the discovery of a Deity."
-John Locke

"As a house implies a builder, and a garment a weaver, and a door a carpenter, so does the existence of the Universe imply a Creator."
-Marquis de Vauvenargues

"In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual."
-Galileo Galilei

"Nature is the art of God."
-Dante Alghieri

"The more I study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the Creator."
-Louis Pasteur

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Old Truth, New Music

Since I'm somewhat the "worship leader" (whatever that means) at our early service (I tend to think of myself more as a "worship facilitator," - again, whatever that means), I have the responsibility of picking out what music we sing and use in the service. I'm always on the lookout for good, God-centered music that exalts Christ and not just how I feel about him. Unfortunately, this is usually a difficult task, considering the terrible state that most Christian music is in. I find most of the songs to be simple, uncreative, and full of me-centered lyrics that, most of the time, offer up unbiblical representations of God and our relationship with him (in fact, I refuse to listen to Christian radio, since I think most of it is useless, mindless blather).

But this past summer I was introduced to a song called "Jesus, Thank You" that completely blew me away (and my conception of what modern worship music had come to be). The lyrics for the song are as follows:

The mystery of the cross I cannot comprehend
The agonies of Calvary
You the perfect holy One crushed Your Son
Who drank the bitter cup reserved for me

Your blood has washed away my sin
Jesus, thank You
The Father’s wrath completely satisfied
Jesus, thank You
Once Your enemy now seated at Your table
Jesus, thank You

By Your perfect sacrifice I’ve been brought near
Your enemy You’ve made Your friend
Pouring out the riches of Your glorious grace
Your mercy and Your kindness know no end

Lover of my soul, I want to live for You

The lyrics of this song are completely Christ-centered, and praise him for his sacrifice as it is presented in scripture: the substitutionary atonement of the unrighteous through the just wrath of the Father poured out on his sinless Son. You don't hear about this kind of stuff in most modern worship songs. In fact, most songs with content like this don't exist outside of hymnals.

I then learned that the song was written, performed, recorded, and produced by a group called Sovereign Grace Music, an offshoot of Sovereign Grace Ministries. Sovereign Grace describes themselves as "...a family of churches passionate about the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are devoted to planting and supporting local churches, with a strong doctrinal basis that is evangelical, Reformed, and continuationist." Are you kidding me? Where have these guys been all my life?

It turns out that Sovereign Grace Music is a conglomeration of worship leaders and musicians from Sovereign Grace churches, and they are dedicated to writing traditional (in content, not style - in other words, you get the same firm theology and doctrine of the hymns in a more modern musical style) and reformed worship music.

I decided to investigate further, and I found their most recent album, "Psalms" to be an absolutely incredible piece of inspiring and worshipful song writing. In fact, every new song that our band worked into its repertoire this past fall was from Sovereign Grace Music. I've heard from several of the band members, and several people from the congregation who have loved the songs, and even asked for copies of the lyrics they could have for themselves, and where they could get copies of the music. In other words, the band and the congregation has eaten up the rich theology contained in the songs, as well as the modern musical format in which they are delivered.

As I have begun working to plan the next several months and the songs we will use in the service, the Sovereign Grace songs are dominating my preferences (we add a new song into the mix approximately every two weeks). As I have gone deeper into the Sovereign Grace library, I have been continually blessed and excited about the songs and lyrics that they have produced, and I can't wait to introduce and incorporate them in our service. Here's one of the newer songs (at least, new to me!) that I particularly appreciate. It's called "Let Your Kingdom Come":

Your glorious cause, O God, engages our hearts
May Jesus Christ be known wherever we are
We ask not for ourselves, but for Your renown
The cross has saved us so we
Pray Your kingdom come

Let Your kingdom come, let Your will be done
So that everyone might know Your Name
Let Your song be heard everywhere on earth
Till Your sovereign work on earth is done
Let Your kingdom come

Give us Your strength, O God, and courage to speak
Perform Your wondrous deeds
Through those who are weak
Lord use us as You want, whatever the test
By grace we’ll preach Your gospel
Till our dying breath

I love this song! Even if it weren't set to music, the lyrics alone present such rich biblical concepts, such as God performing wondrous deeds and using weak people to do his work so that HIS strength and glory might be the focus, all for the purpose of making his name known on this earth. What an amazing concept.

To top it all of, Nap Records - the label that produces Sovereign Grace Music (which is also an offshoot of Sovereign Grace Ministries, by the way) - describes their purpose in worship music thusly:

"The marriage of truth and creativity is what Nap Records is all about. Some of the lyrics on our albums might sound a little old-fashioned — we’re okay with that. The truth we sing has been around for a few thousand years, but hopefully in our music you’ll find the style a little more current. We want to use new music to bend the ears of our listeners to the old truth. Our goal is to get you to sing in your car because you like the song, but keep singing because you love remembering the cross of Jesus Christ even more than the style."

I can't think of a more noble goal in worship music. Kudos to Sovereign Grace for their desire to magnify Christ in their music, and kudos again. If you are in any way associated with the music or worship proceedings at your church (or know someone who is, or if you're like me and are fed up with the touchy-feely, "I want to hug Jesus" style of worship music that is so common nowadays, or if you just want to hear some good, quality, theologically sound worship music) I strongly recommend you check out Sovereign Grace Music. They provide free chord sheets and lead sheets for ALL of their songs (which I personally find to be a very humble gesture). All you need to do is download their music from iTunes or buy one of their CD's. Check it out!

Technical Difficulties

There were some technical difficulties at our early service this today, and the scripture reading video that I put together didn't get shown. Considering how much work I put into the thing, I thought it'd be a waste to have it go completely unused. So if you ever wanted to read Luke 8.22-25 with wind, waves, and rain sound effects, here you go!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Favorite Commercials

This post is a response to one of my sister's recent postings. In it she shares one of her favorite commercials from the past year. It got me thinking about a few commercials that I haven't seen in a long time, so I thought I'd post them (warning: I have really bad taste when it comes to commercials).

Yeah, the spongemonkeys are incredibly annoying, but I guess that's why I like them. Here they are again (especially like it when he says, "Subs are a dollar off"):

Thinking about commercials got me thinking about this one too. Although the Geico caveman thing has pretty much been overdone, this one was always appealing to me (I think it's mostly the song):

Congratulations, advertising people. It worked on me (although I never eat at Quizno's, and I don't use Geico - Ok, I guess it didn't work on me).

You Need To Watch This

This video is amazing. Yes, it's a tear-jerker, but it's not a great story because it makes you cry and gives you a warm fuzzy. It's an amazing story because these parents realize, appreciate, and praise God for his sovereignty in all things.

Friday, January 2, 2009

It Won't Be Long...

...before the government is telling you how far, when, and where you can drive. Check this out. This is just one more step towards complete government control over our lives. I can't imagine that anyone in their right mind would vote for such a thing.

So Much Bad Theology, So Little Time

To learn more about the tragedy (and stark reality) of false conversion, go here and click "Listen" in the upper right hand corner.