Album cover of Chris Tomlin album And If Our God Is For Us

Worship Wednesday: “Our God” by Chris Tomlin

Today continues our trip down the CCLI Top 100 at #2: “Our God,” written by Chris Tomlin, Jesse Reeves, Jonas Myrin, and Matt Redman, though Tomlin is most well-known for actually performing it.  The following lyrics are acquired from MetroLyrics and posted here under the auspices of Fair Use.  I’ve compacted them down so as not to repeat lines.

Continue reading “Worship Wednesday: “Our God” by Chris Tomlin”

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Saints at worship

Worship Wednesday: “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)”

Today we begin a trek down the CCLI Top 25 songs. Yes, this changes faster than I can review, so we’ll adjust as necessary when things pop in or shift places.

Why review worship songs?  This isn’t an exercise in condemning every contemporary worship song; I’m neither hymns-only nor psalms-only.  But as a friend once put it to me, handing me a song and telling me to sing it is like handing me a prayer book and telling me to pray it.  No!  Give me time to see if this is something I should pray.

This week’s #1 song in CCLI-licensed churches is “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)” by Jonas Myrin and Matt Redman, reproduced here from AZLyrics.

Continue reading “Worship Wednesday: “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)””

The Hillsong non-clarification

This originally started as a FB update.  I guess it should go here, too.

Brian Houston has issued a clarifying statement that will placate many, but the problem here hits closer to the Gospel.  Brian Houston and Hillsong have consistently preached cheap law, relegating our helpless, sinful state that we inherit ultimately from Adam to just having had some earthly oopsies.  With cheap law comes cheap gospel of earthly recovery from oopsies by using the name of Jesus as a magic incantation rather than the Gospel that proclaims repentance and the forgiveness of sins.  If he only makes statements like these when he’s under the heat of bad PR rather than from the pulpit, he is not preaching the Gospel that forgives sin, places us in right relationship with the living God, and secures eternal life.

Sinners, all sinners — not just one type that gets media and cultural attention, need to hear that Christ was born of a virgin and lived a sinless life.  He was crucified, died, and was buried.  On the third day he rose again in accordance with the scriptures.  In doing so, the right penalty for our sin was laid on him; his righteousness is imputed upon all who believe.

How then does the above confession make any sense unless one properly identifies what our sin is?

“Always preach in such a way that if the people listening do not come to hate their sin, they will instead hate you.” — Martin Luther

Friday Fusty: Sworn to protect enemies

Important: I have left the remainder of this post “as was,” but I no longer recommend or endorse JD Hall, Pulpit & Pen, and its associated personalities.

Welcome to the Friday Fusty, where we drop our intellectual and theological altitude to inquire false gods about their bathroom habits.

Today’s inaugural episode comes from the troll Phil Burch at @49erFaithful225, who in the course of trolling J.D. Hall (@fbc_jd) made this malodorous statement.

One can only assume that Phil here refers to a federal oath to the Constitition. But since he apparently swore to protect its enemies rather than the Constitution itself, one has to wonder whether he’s working for terrorists.  Or maybe Russia or China.  I didn’t think the 49ers were THAT bad. Somebody please call William Tapley.

Discernment in Music: Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)

I’ve intended to do work like this, but it looks like Jorge over at Faithful Stewardship has done the job for “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” for us already. I’m 100% in agreement here. Go check it out.

Stand by for song reviews here, but I will likely focus on music that it intended (supposedly) for corporate worship rather than the radio listening type.

Faithful Stewardship

Presentation1Today is “Discernment in Music” day here at Faithful Stewardship.

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

Today, rather than wait for a song to play on the radio, I thought I’d start by looking at whatever was trending as a “top Christian song” on the radio today. According to Billboard Music, the top contender is clearly “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) by Hillsong United. In the interest of full-disclosure, I am not a fan of Hillsong Church.  I disagree with their theology (Dominionism, Chrislam, Presence, etc) and their ecclesiology (emergent, seeker-driven, leadership model, mega-church). I will do my best to…

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Consider the following

Your present purpose

Important: I have left the remainder of this post “as was,” but I no longer recommend or endorse JD Hall, Pulpit & Pen, and its associated personalities.

You’re a seminary student.  What does God want you to be doing right now?  Because, you know, it’s not just about just being buried in NA28 and Big Kittel.  Have you “settled”?

We had a chapel message recently that focused on this in a semi-context of church planting.  I’ve advanced it to 15:35 for you.  Listen to it for about a minute if you don’t want the whole thing.

This chapel message had many issues, especially concerning whether the text in Genesis is actually teaching a warning against “settling” or whether the speaker simply used the text as a jumping point for the preferred speaking topic.  Even the Life Application Study Bible makes this observation concerning the text of Genesis 11:31.

God’s will may come in stages. Just as the time in Haran was a transition period for Abram, so God may give us transition periods and times of waiting to help us depend on him and trust his timing. If we patiently do his will during the transition times, we will be better prepared to serve him as we should when he calls us. [emphasis added]

This particular clip about not having received a job offer incited my most aggressive note-taking of the day.  Dr. Edwards’ overall point — don’t be a sedentary seminary student who is only interested in book study — may be valid for some, but there’s at best a serious miscommunication about calling here.

I once was “active in ministry” as we tend to call it in our language apparently.  The list of titles is quite extensive.  Then my spouse and I both left our military careers.  We moved to the DFW area to attend seminary.  We had our first child.  That’s a big life change.  So as a matter of disruption to our standard of being good enough, I don’t have a new “ministry position.”  My application for a position was turned down.  And my employment involves handling and sorting packages for a shipping company on weeknights.  It’s high-speed, heavy-lift, manual labor.  Have I settled?  I even have a friend there who actually does have an M.Div.  He couldn’t raise enough funds to continue being a missionary and still support his family.  Has he settled?  If I still work for the same company three years from now, will I have settled?

The following in particular isn’t what Dr. Edwards specifically says, but it is where the logic arguably leads.  “Finding one’s purpose” is Rick Warren’s mantra.  And “Do not covet” is the tenth commandment.  If a student accuses oneself of settling, that is a particularly deceptive way of justifying one’s covetousness of a ministry position or title as if either of those makes one more useful or ‘righter’ to God.  False!  Christ’s death and resurrection makes us right with God.  Read 1 Cor 12:29 and following.  Are all church planters?  Are all church staff?  The fact is that I have two big ministry jobs right now.  One is called “husband.”  The other is called “dad.”  They’re hugely important to God.  Here’s another that we all have: “evangelist.”  I pray that I might be more effective in sharing the gospel with my coworkers.  And I pray that I might be more effective at discernment in all areas of my ministry, especially the discernment necessary to hate my own sin more than my brother’s.

Have I settled?  I settle when I consider titles like “husband” and “dad” not good enough and sinfully desire more rather than putting my energy into those things to which I am called presently.  I’ve sinfully desired more “ministry.”  I’ve sinfully desired a promotion at my job.  Guilty as charged, and very recently at that.  I repent.

Let us seek to obey God.  Do not covet.  And do not add to his commandments.  Be faithful in your calling.  Seek to serve Him better wherever he calls — yes, including church planting.  And trust that your standing with God is in Christ, not your ministry anything.

(PostScript: It was J.D. Hall‘s sermon here that brought me to the realization of the aforementioned sin.  Thank you!)

Remembering Ken Silva

I could have used a friend like Ken Silva.

I admit some misconception about him.  Perhaps many of us discernment folks have.  He wasn’t just a blogger firing shots from behind his computer.  He was also a mentor and a friend to many.  I should have contacted him much sooner about so many different things rather than trying to figure out everything on my own by means of research.  Google, Accordance, Logos, and even (especially) Twitter all have their limits.

As many are now finding out in the wake of his passing, he was a friend and mentor to so many, a true shepherd pastor and teacher who never sought publicity for his own sake.  The Internet never even figured out what he looks like until Chris Rosebrough posted this image.

Fortunately for us, his words remain and hopefully will so long as the Lord tarries.
Unfortunately for us, new false teachers will arise.
Fortunately for us, new heresies are often just re-hashed, re-dressed old heresies, so we’ll have something from Ken to which to refer.  And we still have so many whom he influenced so well.

Ken now rests in the Lord’s holy presence.  We remember, and by the enablement of the Holy Spirit, let us get back to work.

Photo credit: Chris Rosebrough / Fighting for the Faith