Sunday, April 13, 2014

Gospel and Christian Rap

So, I spent this afternoon hanging out with my cats and listening to Da TRUTH.  He's a rapper.  I told Tim I'd be doing this and he just asked why.  Because I work in Atlanta and I want to know more of the stuff we sell at the store.  Rap is not my favorite, but it's actually the best theology in Christian recording right now.

Lecrae is the most famous one right now.  He's good and has good theology, but he's too popular.  Fifty Cent likes him.  Even Toby Mac features him on his album.  He's kind of more of a fashion statement.  And listening to his music long enough, I feel like a drill is going on in my head.

Da TRUTH is different.  Another Reformed guy: he drops the names of Spurgeon, Calvin, and Luther.  He also features Lecrae.  He truly raps the Gospel in his music.

Also, unlike most rap, it's mixed in with real music and singer.  I think that's why I can stomach this.  There's also no high pitched noises.

Da TRUTH has a new album that I put on shelves this weekend, and it officially comes out Tuesday.  Heartbeat.  If you like rap or need a male role model for some young guy that you know, I recommend it.

Last but not least:

I is for I just can't think of one for I

J is for JIFE.  That means, Jesus is for Everybody and is one of Da TRUTH's tracks.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Unspoken and Hinds Feet, help typing with some cat feet

Recently I recommended that the Atlanta LifeWay play Erica Campbell's new CD on the overhead.  That has successfully happened and I can enjoy work again.

It seems that now one of the other CDs on the 5 disc player (quite a luxury) is skipping.  It is a good praise and worship album, but it skips.  It looks like I might have to recommend something else.  I would love to see more a diversity of music played at LifeWay, especially in a neighborhood where people only listen to one kind of music.  Perhaps I'll go with a more CCM artist.

I think Unspoken would be good.  Their CD was for 5 dollars recently.  I finally listened to them.  I was impressed.  They have a rock sound with a touch of southern and soul.

Apparently I didn't care for them before this.  The song above, "Who You Are" is the only one I had heard.  I didn't care for the song's lyrics even though it is catchy.  It almost seems like an invitation for people to do what they want because they can never fall too far so fast...

But then, the other songs on this album are very good.  This is the other song that's big now:

"Lift my Heart up."  It is exactly what people should sing to Jesus.  We should be in total surrender to his will and not force him to perform some miracle.

I liked "Real Thing" the best:

In a world where so many influences tell you the best way to self-actualization and to pray for your family, this band reminds us that Jesus is the Real Thing.  This is an age where people are not satisfied with God's revelation in the Bible and turn to charlatans such as "Sarah Calling."  The Bible is the Real Thing and we must have confidence in it as all the information we need.

So, I reconsider the first song, "Who You Are."  What didn't I like about this?  In the context of the rest of the album it is a good encouragement to believers who keep messing up and really mourn over their sin.  It's a good reminder that Jesus's sacrifice was complete and that he won't let go of his children.

H is for Hannah Hurnard's Hinds Feet on High Places
Once I read Pilgrim's Progress as it was a free series on AIG.  It was great and I need to read it again and study more deeply.  I don't remember a lot of it, but it's such a watershed book for the Reformed Protestants.  But anyway, last year at Refuge Pregnancy Center, I was having a slow day and had nothing to read.  I'd already read all the brochures (actually that's not true either).  I decided to look at the books available for the Bridges to Life women.  One of them was Hinds Feet on High Places.  Keith Green was inspired to write "Trials Turned to Gold" after reading it.  Jars of Clay dedicated their whole second album to it with the name of the lead character, Much-Afraid.

I decided that I would finally read it.  I'm still not sure what I think.  The main woman, Much Afraid, really does make me nervous.  Her faith starts out so weak and she's so afraid of Craven Fear, this mean boy who wants to marry her.  She's crippled in her feet, and her relatives, the Fearings, always drag her down emotionally.  Finally, the Good Shepherd comes and lets her start on a journey to the high places.

There are many good things.  Much Afraid has two friends called Sorrow and Suffering who go with her on the trip.  She also goes through deserts and scary places.  Each time, she picks up a new token to remind her of what she had learned.  And also, the Shepherd made her drive a thorn into hear heart called Love.  It's painful, but it's what makes life worth-while.  At the end, she finally outruns Craven Fear and her relatives and make it to the high places and receives a new name.  What baffles me, is she decides to go back home to tell the others.

Then at some point, I read a Spurgeon sermon that mentions Much Afraid and Craven Fear.  Hinds Feet was written about 100 years after Spurgeon lived.  I assume he was talking about Pilgrim's Progress and I had forgotten so much of it that I was taken by surprise.  I'm ashamed.  I need to find a way to read it and possibly even share it with Tim.  Also, Derek Thomas wrote a book about it, so that may be the next book that I get myself for Christmas.  Apparently, there is a second part to Pilgrim's Progress that concerns Christian's wife and children.  How come I never knew?  I don't know when I'll start reading it again, but I must soon.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

G is for Great Commission

This is the April Tabletalk's theme.  In this issue, the authors break apart the verses of Matthew 28:19-20 and talk about each part.  I will talk about this.  I think I will do this by saying something about each article, and then illustrating it with a random song.

The Great Commission in the Old Testament by L. Michael Morales
Yes, the Great Commission is in the whole Bible, not just in those two verses in Matthew.  In Genesis, after God created Adam to be the ruler of the earth and before Adam failed, God told him to multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.  He must also rule over the creatures.  (Genesis 1:27).  Adam failed his mission by betraying God in eating of the forbidden tree, but the commandment to multiply and fill the earth remains.  It has been completed by Jesus, the rightful ruler of the world, and we are privileged to partake of this mission with him.

The King is Here, by Kim Walker-Smith of Jesus Culture.  How true.  Adam failed the plan, but our rightful king, Jesus is here.  Now God's plan to fill the whole earth with his praise will continue until Christ's return and beyond.

All Authority in Heaven and on Earth by Roland Barnes
"It is noteworthy that before Jesus commissioned his disciples in Matthew 28:18, 20, He asserted His authority to do so."  Who first gave the command?  God the Father.  Who carries it out?  God the Son.  He proved his authority by his death and resurrection.  He was the only worthy human that lived, and he conquered sin and death for his weak people.  Therefore, he has every right to tell his people the Great Commission and to send his Holy Spirit to guide them through the process.

"Unashamed of You" by Chris August.  Here is an appropriate response to Christ's authority.  He paid our price for us, and now how dare we not obey his amazing command to tell all the world about him?  We need the fill the earth with people who praise his name, and he has given us so many ways to praise his name.

How then shall we "go"? by Karl Dahlfred
"But who exactly is supposed to go?"  Some have said it was just the apostles alive at the time, but Jesus promised to be with them "to the end of the age."  This implies something that extends beyond the lifetimes of the Apostles.  This belongs to all the Church.  To all the people who Christ mercifully saved from an eternal punishment in hell.  These people must go and tell all the world what Christ has done for them and pray that it is true for those that they tell.

"Holy Spirit" live with Jesus Culture and Martin Smith of Deliriou5?.
And as always, we can't even wake up in the morning without the Holy Spirit.  We can't spread his mission to the world without him either.  We must constantly pray that he will keep us thinking of him and discerning what to do with our lives.

Make Disciples by Dave Eby
"The Greek word we translate as disciple means learner."  First, he asks, what is a disciple?  A disciple is a learner.  2. How are disciples made?  They are made through the ministry of the Word entrusted to the church. 3. What kinds of disciple-making are there?  There is initial discipleship the one that brings people to know Jesus as their savior.  Normal discipleship is teaching already-believers God's word and commands.  It is exactly what we are to do with our families and small groups.  We must continue to meditate on the word and see how it applies to our lives and how it applies to our children.  Restorative discipleship is for when people have gone away from the faith but have come back.  Hooray for Celebrate Recovery!  Discipleship is for all stages of the Christian walk on earth and is always a team activity.  It is disciples that lead the discipling.

I listen to "Grace for All" by Holly Starr for the first time.  How appropriate.  Discipleship is for all people, and God's grace is for all disciples, both leading and receiving.

"All nations" and Church Planting by Ed Stetzer
"The sheer scope of the assignment is embodied in two little words: all nations."  Our work will not ever be done.  We must keep preaching the Word and then look for another unreached place in the world where it is not preached.  God created the nations at Babel when he divided their languages.  Now he wants all those languages to come together and praise and serve Christ.  "The Great Commission cannot be fulfilled without church planting."  You need the church to disciple, baptize, and teach.  So, although the task is large, God never expects us to do it alone.  We must work as a church team and reunite the people into the same language of Jesus.

"Back to you" by Mandisa.  This is a better response to the article about who is supposed to "go."  All God's saved children are to go and tell the world.  Not only is it a privilege, it is a command.  As God dispersed all the nations at Babel, he plans to bring them all back together, all back to him.

Baptizing them by JV Fesko
"God uses water in connection with the broader context of redemptive history.  The Spirit hovers over the waters right before he creates the world.  A dove flies from the ark to the land over water just as Noah and his family are about to leave and start life again.  The Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove as he was baptized with water to show how he would begin his new covenant.  Baptism symbolizes God coming alongside people as new life begins.  This new life is for all believers and their children.

It's the chorus of "Give me Jesus" sung by Matt Stinton and Bethel Music.  It's very ethereal and shows a picture of water.

Teaching them to Observe by Victor Cruz
"Being an evangelist is more than just telling people about Jesus; it requires that we become teachers of the gospel."  The Authority to Teach: The Great Commission is where Matthew first uses the word for "teach" or didaskoThe Need to Teach: The Church, then should be the guardian of the gospel.  It needs to monitor with discernment whenever a teaching goes against the Bible, no matter how subtly.  What to Teach: Teach them to become mature adults, not infants and children.  Start them on the basics, but move on to real teaching.  Your disciples should know who Elijah, Simon Magus, and Jephthah are.  They should be exposed to Romans 9.  They need to wrestle with their beliefs until they know why they believe them.  They don't just believe them because that's what they've heard their whole lives.

"Song of Solomon" by Jesus Culture and Martin Smith.  Yes, people even know the correct way to love people and how it should mirror the relationship between God and us.  Marriage between a man and a woman perfectly signify how Christ loves the church.  In our lives, it should be faithful to each other, with sight for no one else.

I am with you always by Gerrit Scott Dawson
"Jesus and His brothers could not be parted by the distance between the world and the heavenly realms.  How can this be?"  The Holy Spirit, praise God

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Two Williams

It's really hard to tell when is the right time to call out a popular heretic or not even at the slightest sign of heresy.  There are two singers at LifeWay named William.  One is very good.  The other is shady.

I'll talk of the second one first.  He has an album that won't stay on the shelves.  He goes to church with Eddie Long nearby in Lithonia.  Yes, that Eddie Long.  People clearly get his album because he is around here and they know him.  I know nothing about him outside of his album and that one fact of where he goes to church.  Jesus doesn't appear once on his album.  God makes an appearance, but mostly, the album's theme is "our season."  Blessings from God.  It will all turn out all right.  No hope for a future heaven that we have to wait for.  We must demand our entitled blessings now.  His music isn't even all that good.

Then there's the William that I do like.  William McDowell.  Out of all the songs on WOW gospel 2014, his song is truly singing to the Lord and about humbling himself before our great God and Savior.

I think he preaches in Florida.  He is also a bit charismatic and is overly fascinated with miracles, but he cares about the Gospel.  He cares about people hearing the Gospel and realizing that they don't deserve anything good from our God, but he still sent Jesus to take their punishment.  More people should listen to William McDowell than they do to the other William.

F is for Foreman, Jon.  He's the lead signer of Switchfoot.  I've been listening to his solo music on YouTube for about 2 years now.  Those albums finally showed up at LifeWay for five dollars each.  I hid them in a place on the $5 shelf so that only I would know where to find them.  Now I'm listening to them in my car.  People talk about accidentally walking out of LifeWay with something they didn't intend to buy.  Believe me, it's only worse when you work there.  So much Kryptonite!  Not many regrets though.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


There is a band called Jesus Culture.  I used to not listen to them because I just don't like their name.  However, I listened to them yesterday and loved it.  They reminded me of Hillsong but with a more rock edge.

You all know me, you know how I like to point out anything I disagree with in something.  I'm trying to be more positive in life, but I still like the truth.  But I really did enjoy listening to Jesus Culture.  They have a few name-it-and-claim-it songs but most are songs that really are to Jesus.

Why don't I like the name?  I guess I just don't like people using Jesus's name in a common way.  "Christian" is fine.  Maybe even if you name your son Jesus, that's fine.  It's no different than Josh.  But still, some things can border on infringing the 3rd commandment.

Then I thought of other popular songs about the name of Jesus: "Just say Jesus" by Seventh Down.  Natalie Grant has a song about the name of Jesus.  And I noticed that Jesus Culture has a song currently made popular by Tasha Cobbs which is always in my head.  "Break Every Chain."

It seems it was written by William Reagan who is in a band called United Pursuit.  I never heard of it until I heart Tasha singing it overhead at LifeWay.  It's super catchy.  "There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain."  That's basically the lyrics

Negatives: Jesus's name is very powerful, but it is also not a magic word or a good luck charm.  Many people like to use it that way, like it will enhance their worship experience or bring about a better day.

Positives: There really is nothing more powerful than Jesus's name or his Word.  His Word never returns void.  There is no other name under which we can be saved.  At his name every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is lord.

The moral: enjoy the song.  Just have a healthy fear of the name.

C is for Cobb, Tasha.  I just talked about her.  She's very talented and very catchy.

D is for Downhere.  I only have one album by this band.  They are good.  I don't listen to them know but whatever they play I like.  I think my favorite song was "Rock Stars Need Money."  They can't live on baloney sandwiches.

E is for Electric Light Orchestra. I had to have them.  They are my favorite as far as British and oldies go.  It only makes it better when they are featured on Doctor Who.  We all need to hear "Mister Blue Sky" more often in our days!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

7 Reasons Predestinating Grace comforts me: some will sound universalistic

Some of this reasons actually will sound a lot like universalism, but they are said more in hope, and hope in a God that doesn't fail.

1. Plato.  I'm obsessed with him lately.  He's a man who gets so close to the Gospel in his teachings but doesn't quite go there.  If it were not for God's predestinating grace I would have no hope that this brilliant man who has been dead all these millennia is in heaven right now.  Do I know for sure he's saved?  No.  All I know is that God knows all hearts and knows who he saved.  My job is simply to teach him the Gospel.

2.  Andrew my brother and Carl D. Smith Jr, my uncle.  They are both grown men now.  One is my autistic brother who is my sunshine and the other is my uncle in his 60s who has the mentality of a 10-year old.  Neither may be able to knowingly profess faith in Jesus, and even so, they may not always understand holiness or a world outside themselves.  Can they help it?  I don't know.  All I know is God put them in my life and that the only hope for their salvation is God's specific election.

3. I have this friend I grew up with who died last year.  He went to church and professed faith, but he also lived in slavery to drugs and could never seem to come free of them.  Where is he now?  If I did not believe in God's predestinating grace that exclusively saves people, I would have no hope that he's in heaven.  But I would also despair without that hope.  Therefore, my hope is in his Defense Attorney who doesn't back down and never loses a case.

4. Pharaoh, Judas, and Esau.  Romans 9 is clear that these guys had predestinations that weren't for their benefits.  Verses 14-18 show that God has mercy on whom he has mercy.  He's not obligated to give it.  Verses 22-24 actually hurt to read.  He made some vessels to show how worthless they are without him and how seriously he takes sin and his wrath.

5.  If Christ's atonement was for all, there would be two conclusions.  Everyone would be saved because he died for them all.  Or people are in hell even though Christ paid their penalty and are experiencing divine double jeopardy.  We know not all people will be saved.  And we also know that God gave his wrath to Jesus to save the ones who are elect.  They have to go free.  Even if they are the dwarves in the Last Battle who still think they are in that smelly stable after Aslan has brought the new Narnia, they don't have to perish with Shift and all is friends.  Granted, they won't see the glorious truth.  Too afraid to be taken in that they won't be taken out.  That's actually just as bad, but Aslan keeps them in their blissful ignorance.

6. All those children who die in infancy.  Where are they?  If I had no hope in God's exclusive saving grace, I would have no hope that they would be safe in the arms of Jesus now and that their deaths were not in vain.  Each one of them would be born a sinner and useless apart from God's fiat given through Jesus.  I'm so glad, he sees beyond that.

7. A stuttering stammering person like me who has no tact can still be used at a crisis pregnancy center or even at the Atlanta LifeWay and know that she usually has to go home apologizing to God but that he still takes his Word and uses it for his glory despite this broken drive-thru speaker named Meghan.  Without his predestinating grace, I would only mess everything up and have to stay home.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Worship Leaders, plus A and B

I always think that musicians can get away with more heresy than writers can.  I remember when I was really opposing Rob Bell for his blatant opposition to tradition Christianity to the point of abandoning defining characteristics as important such as the Virgin Birth, Christ's Deity, and completely denying any hell, I listened a lot to "Church Music" by David Crowder.  I still appreciate Crowder and that rocking album, but there are universalistic themes on it.  "Oh Happy Day" says that "Everything Can Be Redeemed."  Now, someone will say, it says "can" and not "will."  Fair enough, but it does echo Bell's environmental call for us to build heaven hear on earth with no hope of help from God or promise of Jesus overcoming the world.  And the Bible clearly teaches that not everything can be redeemed.  God's not going to redeem the reprobate.  He won't redeem atrocities like the Holocaust or abortion.  Still, if I need good rock, I get out David Crowder's album.

I also greatly love Hillsong music.  Everything they write is excellent and lifts my spirits.  Their pastor in Sydney, Australia is known for his health and wealth preaching and has even teamed up with Smiling Joel Osteen whose hope in life is only for this world and not in Jesus as God's only salvation.  I still love almost everything Hillsong has put out musically.  It's like God really does infiltrate our plans to turn them to his glory, especially in music written for him.  Maybe not everything can be redeemed, but he can backfire our foolish plans for his glory.  I make no apology for enjoying Brooke Fraser Ligertwood, Darlene Zscech, and all the others.

I still have my doubts about people if they even sing a concert for Lakewood in Texas.  So many people I like, but they keep the wrong company.  Granted, so did Jesus, and I'm eternally grateful that he did.  I love Kari Jobe's music.  It has a lot of the same writers as the Hillsong music and Passion music.  Something about the way she stands on stage with her hands out looks to Eastern for my comfort.  It's stepping out of appropriate forms of worship.  It's not encouraged in the Bible.  In fact, the Bible repeatedly tells us not to worship our God the way other religions worship theirs.  We are to worship the way that he has prescribed.  (Yes, I do hold to Regulative Principles, but I'm quite liberal in them, too.  I love electric guitars in church!)  But just the same, she has a new album out and I get the same ecstasy I get when I listen to Hillsong.

Am I being a prude?  Probably.  My sins in worship are just as bad as everyone else.  I always get wary when people are overexpectant for miracles, signs, or they incorporate worship styles that were originally used in other religions.  It's like, folks think they can prance around God's throne and demand a healing and not allow God to say no, or wait, which is not only insulting to God, but also destroys faith when promises for healing don't come through.

Just the same, Kari did sing for House of Blues and has a fine album.  Either way, God spreads his Gospel.

Looks like April has started again so I will attempt to do some of the Alphabet Challenge, though not officially.

A is for Abandon.  I don't know much about this CCM band, but I like their name.  They have a song on the Positively Easter compilation called "Hero."  Christ truly is our Hero, and that song captures it will.

B is for Big Daddy Weave.  I really love the songs "Redeemed," "Yours Will Be" and "Hold Me Jesus."  They are on the radio every two seconds and are indeed good songs.  I listened to their Love Come to Life album.  It's good, but like so many bands, the songs rather sound the same.  Normally bands have better songs on the album.  But just as normally, I have to listen to an album about three times before I really get into it.

Anyway, have a good day.  Celebrate Autism Awareness for my birthday!