Contemporary Christian Music

•January 24, 2019 • 1 Comment

Disclaimers:

1) I don’t believe all new Christian music is bad/good…not all old Christian music is bad/good.

2) I’m a musician that loves music of all kinds … rock n roll, blues, old country, old bluegrass, (a little) Southern Gospel, hymns, contemporary Christian, and classical.

3)  I’ve never written a song but can imagine how difficult it can be.

4)   I know and understand how difficult it is to find good music to sing in church.

I just want to point out the fact that much of our Contemporary Christian Music is short on good theology.  It’s more me-centered than Christ-centered.  Much of it is too ethereal and spacey.  There are several churches that write, produce, and sell this type of music – I shall leave them nameless but in a recent research paper, the words of  E.H. McIntyre could be said about most of the music coming from these churches into smaller churches and conferences all around the world….

“Amid current competing ideologies and priorities, __________ Music has found a formula that fuses aspects of secular consumerism and individualism with Pentecostal religious fervor.  (We should) examine the ways __________Music is used to constitute religious experience and how religious experience is (re)packaged and sold by the lucrative __________ Music label.”  (E.H. McIntyre)

Note the words “fuses … consumerism and individualism”.  This musical message is sung, then, in most cases, it is followed by a sermon on just those two things – consumerism and individualism.

Compare the words of this hymn  (Praise my soul, the King of  Heaven) with some of the lyrics you hear today …

  1. Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven;
    To His feet thy tribute bring.
    Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
    Evermore His praises sing:
    Praise Him, praise Him, alleluia!
    Praise the everlasting King.
  2. Praise Him for His grace and favor
    To our fathers in distress;
    Praise Him still the same as ever,
    Slow to chide, and swift to bless.
    Praise Him, praise Him, alleluia!
    Glorious in His faithfulness.
  3. Father-like He tends and spares us,
    Well our feeble frame He knows;
    In His hands He gently bears us,
    Rescues us from all our foes.
    Praise Him, praise Him, alleluia!
    Widely yet His mercy flows.
  4. Frail as summer’s flow’r we flourish,
    Blows the wind and it is gone;
    But while mortals rise and perish,
    Our God lives unchanging on.
    Praise Him, praise Him, alleluia!
    Praise the high Eternal One!
  5. Angels, help us to adore Him,
    Ye behold Him face to face;
    Sun and moon, bow down before Him;
    Dwellers all in time and space,
    Praise Him, praise Him, alleluia!
    Praise with us the God of grace.

Those are lyrics you can sink your theological teeth into.

I’m not advocating that we all start singing nothing but hymns again .  The church I pastor uses Christian Contemporary Music along with an occasional hymn.  I’m just encouraging us to read, understand, and be aware of the lyrics we’re singing.   Make sure they are biblical, Christ-focused, and Christ-honoring.

That’s all.

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Christian “conferences”

•January 4, 2019 • 5 Comments

While I worked yesterday I live-streamed a Christian “conference” designed for young people. I’m all for “firing up” our young people (our old people, too) but it seems most of the “firing up” that is going on is not rooted in the Scriptures.

Many of the speakers I listened to have questionable theology, hardly use the Scriptures, and have no discernment in interpreting the Scriptures when they happen to refer to them. I was amazed that some of them were speaking at this particular conference.

It’s OK to encourage Christians to go “change the world” but if you’re not rooted in Scripture and the proper interpretation thereof … I’m concerned how much of the “change” will truly be Gospel-based.

Remember, I used to attend these kinds of conferences all the time.  Now, looking back, I see the poor theology, immature Christians, entertainment-based worship, and Bible-less churches they’ve produced.

I couldn’t help but ask myself:  Why couldn’t they have sessions on HOW TO INTERPRET THE SCRIPTURES (Hermeneutics) or SEEING JESUS IN THE SCRIPTURES (instead of yourself) or the great doctrines of Scripture such as WHAT GOD THROUGH CHRIST HAS DONE FOR YOU – REDEMPTION, JUSTIFICATION, ATONEMENT (instead of what God wants you to do for him)?

Christians don’t know Christ because they don’t know they Bible … they don’t know the Bible because it’s not being preached in many of our pulpits.

Preachers, we need to change that.

CARLTON GARY

•March 16, 2018 • Leave a Comment

The State of Georgia executed Carlton Gary last night. In 1986 I was juror #5 that convicted and sentenced Carlton to death. Based upon the evidence presented to me at trial, I was certain of his guilt. In the early 2000s I was prompted by the news of so many death row inmates being exonerated due to new DNA evidence that I did a year-long study (theological, economical, political, and legal) of the death penalty. Based on the intrinsic flaws that are found in it and upon the massive amounts of money it takes to keep a person on death row, I changed my mind about the death penalty and no longer support it. In recent months I was contacted by Carlton’s lawyers and a film crew. They presented me with COMPELLING and SUBSTANTIAL new evidence that was withheld from the jury on which I served. It included, among other significant things, the contradiction of an “eye-witness” and DNA evidence. In these months I’ve done what I could to overturn Carlton’s death sentence; even testifying before the Georgia State Pardons and Parole Board last Wednesday. They executed Carlton last night at 10:33pm. Along with others, Melissa and I stood vigil at the prison…it was the least I could do for Carlton. I grieve both for Carlton AND for the families of the victims. Thanks to my wife, Melissa, for standing with me through this and to close friends (even those who support the death penalty) who have prayed for me and journeyed with me through this process. It’s a burden I shall carry for awhile. Thank you for allowing me to share this with you.
ALL human life matters.

I’m not a very “good” Christian (apparently)…

•January 10, 2018 • Leave a Comment

By American Christian standards, I must not be a good Christian…

I don’t like most of the Christian music on my local Christian radio station,

I don’t like most of the Christian bric-a-brac found in Christian book stores (heck, I don’t like many of the Christian BOOKS found in Christian bookstores),

I don’t tend to be a big fan of most of the popular “preachers” these days,

I don’t believe Jesus belongs to a particular political party,

I don’t believe in “blood moons”,

I don’t believe the Bible teaches that I am to be wealthy and healthy all the time,

I don’t don’t believe the earth is young (I believe it’s very old),

I don’t believe anyone should be forced to pray (or say “Merry Christmas” for that matter),

I don’t believe David Wilkerson got THE PRAYER OF JABEZ right,

I don’t believe I will ever read any of the LEFT BEHIND books (in fact, I’m confident that I will never read any of them),

I don’t believe THE SHACK makes our understanding of God more clear,

I don’t believe that any one sin sends a person to hell (being a sinner period does that…and we’re all sinners),

I don’t believe God cares one way or another if I have a tattoo,

I don’t believe that there are any rituals, liturgies, lifestyles, or good works that I have to adopt or practice to “please” God.

However,
I do believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (Romans 1:4),

I do believe that there is absolutely NOTHING I can contribute to my salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9),

I do believe that God is loving…and just (1 John 4:8, Romans 3:25-26),

I do believe that Jesus Christ paid for my salvation in full at the Cross (John 19:30) and in so doing Jesus satisfied God’s just demands that were upon me and released me from the indictment of, and punishment of, and slavery to the Law (Romans 8:2, Galatians 3:13),

I do believe that there is only one Mediator between God and me … and it’s Jesus, not a Pope or a priest (1 Timothy 2:5),

I do believe that anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13),

I do believe that the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead now lives in me (Romans 8:11)

I do believe that the Bible is the divinely inspired, inerrant word of God to us…it is total and complete and I am in no need of any further “visions”, “prophecies”, and/or “revelations” from any modern-day “prophets” or “apostles” (Hebrews 1:2, 2 Peter 1:21),

I do believe that not every one who uses the name of Jesus (especially on religious TV) is going to heaven (Matthew 7:21),

I do believe that verse-by-verse exegetical preaching is the best way to build Christian disciples (although it’s not the most popular way),

And I do believe there are many more reasons I’m not a “good” Christian in many American religious folks’ eyes.

Grace wins.

•January 3, 2017 • Leave a Comment

invite-flyer-front

20 years ago my life as a person and a pastor fell apart because of some bad decisions I made.  I was abandoned by most of the “Christians” I knew and kicked to the side.  There was absolutely only one “preacher friend” who reached out to me.  I’m slow to say that … but’s it’s the truth.  I became a prodigal son.  I literally told God to leave me alone.  And for years I left him alone and pursued my own path.

But grace wins

God’s grace is like a hound from heaven that never gives up on prodigals.  He pursued me during my worst years and eventually brought me back to himself.

And grace wins.

He brought me back into pastoral ministry (albeit, with some kicking and screaming on my part!)  He allowed me to once again pastor a wonderful congregation that has been patient with my journey.

And grace wins.

This Sunday, January 8, Watermark Church will launch the grand opening of its new 18,000 square foot building.  It will be home to a congregation that does not judge or condemn people; a congregation that accepts people AS they are and WHERE they are; a congregation that confesses its imperfections and seeks God’s grace for them; a congregation that is not “religious” but is in a relationship with Jesus Christ; a congregation that is absolutely baptized in the grace of God; a congregation whose standards are so low…they let ME be their pastor!

Grace wins.

And, yes, the title of my message this coming Sunday is GRACE WINS.  Because it does.

Worship with us if you will.  Sundays @ 10:30am.

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God delights in you.

•November 7, 2016 • Leave a Comment

The Old Testament prophet Zephaniah proclaimed “The Lord is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”  (Zephaniah 3:17)

Zephaniah says 1) God is with you – that’s presence, 2) God is mighty to save you – that’s power, 3) God takes delight in you – that’s pleasure 4) God quiets you with his love – that’s peace, and 5) God rejoices over you with singing – that’s proof!

If God’s speaking voice created universes, imagine what his singing voice can do!  And he sings over his children.

But you say, “I’m too guilty”.  Verse 15 says God has taken away your punishment.

But you say, “I am surrounded by my enemies”.  Verses 15, 17, & 19 say God has cast out your enemies.

But you say, “God feels far away”.  Verse 15 & 17 say God is in your midst.

But you say, “I am enslaved to shame”. Verses 11 & 19 say you are no longer put to shame.

But you say, “I feel disconnected and homeless”.  Verses 20 says that God will bring you home.

You just need to face it and accept the fact that God not only loves you – he delights in you.  You’ve not gone too far, stayed too long, or sinned too much to exceed his love, mercy, and grace.

Think about that.

Biblical faith

•November 3, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Biblical faith is not about living a moral life … that’s RELIGION.

Biblical faith is not about living the good life … that’s CAPITALISM.

Bbilical faith is not about becoming a better you … that’s SELF-HELP.

Biblical faith is about living the God-life … that’s ABUNDANT LIFE.

 
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