Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Challies and real Gospel music.

Tim Challies posted a blog about music and worship today that is relevant to all the music I listen to lately.

He starts by saying, "The prosperity gospel has not produced a new generation of great Christian hymns. Neither have Positive Thinking or Progressive Christianity."  How true is that?  I serve at LifeWay in a part of Atlanta where all the neighbors drink the Kool-Aid of prosperity preaching, positive thinking, and progressive Christianity.  Jesus does not enter their songs once.  The songs are about "me."  This is my season.  I overcame. 

We also see that the same people who listen to this fake preaching and fake music still cohabit with people they are not married to, have children with them, look up horoscopes, and can't move away from the King James Bible.  They have their traditions and museum churches, but they still have high crime, drugs, promiscuity, and they have more babies aborted than anyone else.  Clearly, this positive thinking did not change their lives.

That's because it is not Christian.  It's Buddhism with Jesus mixed in.   The center is myself and the gods help me with my life.

Challies points to Colossians 3:16, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God."  One, this verse proclaims that hymns and non-psalms are good for Christian worship and do not break the Second Commandment.

Two, Challies breaks down this verse similarly to the way Charles Spurgeon would.  First, to have proper Christian worship, the Gospel must be the basis of your song.  What is the Gospel?  His name is Jesus.  The word of Christ must dwell in you.  Our songs must focus on Christ's birth, death, resurrection, his salvation, and his sanctification.  They must remember all he has done for us.  It is not the Gospel if the songs are only about how I overcame all my problems.  They have to be about Christ overcoming me.

Second, Gospel must dwell in you richly, in order for your songs to be appropriate for worship.  The worshipers must spend hours a day in the Bible and meditate on him in every slow moment possible.  They must take time out of the day to specifically search the Word and seek Jesus through prayer.  We have no Gospel music without Christ.  We have no Christian existence without his Holy Spirit guiding us all the way.  We need his Word daily.

Therefore, let your songs be about Jesus and his life.  There is no point for their being music otherwise.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Audrey Assad: New EP out

When following, it is fun to listen to compilations and try to decide which song in the winner.  Sadly this week and last week have not produced new compilations.  But there is a new demo album from Audrey Assad.  It is called "Death be not Proud" named after a John Donne poem.

There are five songs on the album, but only one song is on YouTube:

I don't know the music of John Mark McMillan, but I sell his albums at LifeWay and assume he's pretty good.  I might see what he sounds like next.  I love Audrey Assad.  We have many theological differences, but she fills the hole that Jennifer Knapp left missing.  She has the blues sound that I love.

I listened to some of her older songs

This is lovely.  I hope her album that does come from this is just as good as her last two.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

When another couple divorces

What do you do if a David and Bathsheba situation develops among the Christian music industry?  Or in your church leadership?  What do you do?

I don't know if this gnaws at me because I'm a newlywed and get dismayed every time I hear of another couple divorcing.  But just the same, when you hear of a couple who had been married since forever and worked and toured together getting divorced because of an affair, what do you do?

I know personally, I still believe even the things I learned from that couple.  Derek Webb and Sandra McCracken really got me to believe in Reformed theology in a way that made sense and did not hurt.  Then, Derek left Caedmon's Call and grew more controversial.  He opposed Bush (not as big a deal now as it was then) and he always seemed open to the gay community.  It's like, he took his free grace and became an antinomian.  He preached the total depravity of man so much that he decided to stop trying. 

But still, is all lost?  I don't think so.  Years later when I saw her in concert I realized, I still love Amy Grant.  Her music is still really good.  Every once in a while I like Sandy Patti.  And I look at my own life.  I have sinned.  How dare I cast the first stone?

But my soon-to-be brother-in-law, Stuart asked an interesting question.  What do we do about church leadership that's been divorced?  There are so many factors to take into it.  All I know is that when the David and Bathsheba episode occurred, David spent some time in exile while his son tried to take his throne and kill him.  He had to go through a season of rehab due to the consequences of his folly.  He still got to be the wonderful king of Israel after God's own heart and share in Jesus's ancestry.

Do church leaders need to go through a time of counseling an rehab if an affair should occur or if a divorce happens?  Maybe.  What if the wife left him and it wasn't his fault?  He may still need to take time to get his family and life in order before he's reinstated to full leadership again.

But one thing is for sure, never take your marriage for granted.  Spend time with your husband every day and never go around saying, "this can never happen to me."  The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.  You need to pray that God strengthens your marriage every day and also spend time each day loving your spouse.  You need to be intentional and remember the vow you made.  And always rely on God's grace.  It's the only way two different people can live together in a marriage and for the marriage to last.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

MWS and other new albums from last week

I have not blogged much this week.  Not enough time to ruminate. 

Yep, Michael W Smith has a new album and it is really good from what I hear.  It's called "Sovereign" and should echo well with Reformed believers.

A praise and worship group called Fellowship Creative has some good new music.

I think the band that surprised me the most is Seventh Day Slumber.  I have an old album of theirs, and with that I could probably slumber for seven days.  It's rather boring.  But they have a new album called "We Are the Broken."  That title song is great.  It truly rocks and sounds different from their other songs.  Unfortunately, their other songs from the album are not available to listen to on You Tube.  I can't tell if I would like the album from just one song.  Is the title song really good but the rest of the album a disappointment?  Or is it all amazing like their new song?  Either way, I might try to find that one album I have and listen to it to see if it is as disappointing as it was when I got it.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The New Covenant Surpise

Blog based on "Never before Seen" by J. Mark Beach in Tabletalk for May 2014

Is the Christian faith subject to such changing fashions?  It may seem so if we read 1 Corinthians 11:25, "In the same way also he took the cup after supper saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood.  Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.'"

Paul says that Jesus presented a NEW covenant in his blood.  Did the centuries of rule in the Old Testament come to an end?  Did God change his mind?  Is the Old Testament pass, washed up, stale?  Does the New Testament render the Old obsolete?

The first place to look at Luke 24.  Verses 1-12 tell the story of the women looking for Jesus but not finding him because he is alive!  "And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, 'Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has risen.'"

One thing is for sure: Jesus rose from the dead.  He is alive.  Let us not live as if he was still dead or some place where he can't see us.  He is alive and sees everything we do.  If this is bad news for you, then the good news is that you can repent and let him guide you through the rest of your life.
And since he is alive, the same God still rules in the New Testament as he did in the Old Testament.

Next is verses 13-35.  Two men walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus.  They are discussing the strange news that the women saw Jesus alive and still don't quite believe because they still despair from the crucifixion last Friday.  A mysterious man joins them.  It is Jesus but they still aren't paying attention.

Jesus asks, "What are y'all discussing today?"

18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”

Basically, their synagogues brought them up to believe in the Scriptures that say the Messiah would come and restore Israel to its kingdom.  There would always be a Davidic king on the throne, and all the world would have peace.  They felt like the story of Jesus played out differently than what they learned from their Talmud.

25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

This mystery man that they still do not recognize then takes them through every Scripture in the Jewish canon that point to Jesus.  He explains how they fit together and how they apply to Jesus and especially to the events of the past weekend.  The guys finally realize that what they knew was only bits and pieces.  Now that Jesus has come and finished his mission, they can put these pieces together and see the finished puzzle.  They invite him to dinner.  Jesus breaks bread and blesses it.  They finally realize that it was Jesus talking to them the whole time!

So basically, the Old Testament did not go out of style.  The Old Testament pointed to Jesus's story in fragments.  The New Testament shows all those fragments fulfilled in hindsight.  In one testament, Jesus was only promised.  In this testament, Jesus has fulfilled the law and ushered in the Church age.  It is the same covenant in both testaments, but now we can open the present and see what is inside.  

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Compilations: Action Bible Remixed

At first I thought this new compilation CD was another Cedarmont Kids CD.  No, apparently, David C. Cook publishes a graphic novel of the Bible called the Action Bible.

It does look cool.  I remember they would try to do comic retellings of Bible stories as church handouts when I was a kid.  I'm intrigued.

This soundtrack is a mix of praise songs that are good for your kid to listen to and mature enough for mom and dad to listen to in the car.

First Place: "Center of it All" by Desperation Band

It has deep lyrics.  All kids need to know that if they have everything but not God, then they are nothing.

Second Place: "Manifesto" by the City Harmonic

It's a creed that the kids can learn and sing!

Third place: "God's Great Dance Floor" by Martin Smith

It was my first time hearing Martin Smith sing it and not Chris Tomlin.  Martin Smith who wrote it has different lyrics and I like them.  They're different.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Bekah Shae

This lady also dropped an album this week.  I listened to her and chose to listen longer.  She has an Enya sound.  If you are looking for soothing, otherworldly music, then you will like Bekah Shae.

Here is a sample:

 Here's another one where you can see her:

She's very pretty and has pretty music.

Lyrically, I have nothing serious to object to.  It doesn't have the theological meat of some people, but it is good for meditation.  Some songs are from the perspective of God.  I've been listening to such songs a long time but I still get wary of them because the singer is not God.  I know she's not saying that, but it is really dangerous to take God's perspective or claim that your words are his.

Again, I'm not saying she's doing this.  It's just artistic.  But there are writers out there who think they are God's stenographers.  Reading their works, there's nothing blatantly objectionable, but their methods could lead to that.  If it was the person saying I had a devotional today and this is what I felt I learned from God, that is one thing.  I kind of do this on my blog.  Then, there are people who say they wrote down exactly what Jesus said.

People, "Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world."  (Hebrews 1:1-2) Jesus doesn't need a stenographer.  He's told us everything in his word and he's done in publicly.  They are forever preserved in pages that you can touch and read.  Everything you need to know he has given you plainly and if you have the Holy Spirit, the you are always in his presence.  Even at work.  Even in traffic.  Even cooking dinner for your family.  We don't need a super-popular devotional book to hear more from him.  We don't need a mediator or intercessor.  He is that intercessor and he is all we need.  He's provided Scripture and he's provided the support of the Church.

Back to Bekah, I'm not saying she's being a stenographer, but it is good to note.  I think she's pretty good.  If you want some good relaxing music with positive words that will make you think of Jesus, then listen to her.  She's worth your time.

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Museum and remembering Common Children

When I was growing up, I listened to music from the Common Children.  This band had Marc Byrd who wrote the great song, "God of Wonders."  Before he wrote that, he wrote beautiful songs such as:

He also wrote songs that scared my friends but made sense to me such as:

Throw Me Over or Hate.  It was the first real Christian band I listened to who played for real rock and roll along the lines of Nirvana.  They weren't afraid to be honest with their lyrics, but they still loved Jesus and had hope in him.

Nobody rocks like they did, but often I'll hear ethereal melodies and electric guitar lines that remind me of them.

The Museum reminds me of Common Children.

In fact, now that I've grown up some, I like them better.  You can understand their words.  They sample hymn lyrics in their songs.  Their music soothes.

I didn't hear from them until I got the Positively Easter album that was a Plus Sale and LifeWay.  At first I thought they were Kutless under another name.

I was curious.  It seems that most of them are not in the band anymore.  They take time to be with their wives and children and to provide them with stable lives.  I absolutely love that.  Their desire to be the heads of their families comes before their profit in the music industry.  I'm sure we'll hear more from them throughout the years.