Archive for the ‘music’ Category

When did churches start turning the lights down during the musical portion of the worship service, and why? Bob Kauflin answers that question here. It’s worth a read.

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Ladies and gentlemen: “Thankful” by Caedmon’s Call. I love this song! Enjoy

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Good for Keith Getty and Stuart Townend! They refused to change the lyrics of their contemporary hymn “In Christ Alone.”

Here’s the story: According to a report from One News Now, the Committee on Congregational Songs of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are in the process of putting together a new hymnal for the mainline denomination. When looking at which songs to include, they requested that Getty and Townend change one line of their immensely popular hymn. Some of the committee members didn’t like the line that says, “On that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied.” Why? Because they don’t like the idea that the death of Christ “assuaged God’s anger” over sin. They suggested an alternative lyric – “the love of God was magnified.” If the lyrics were changed, the song could be placed in the hymnal. If not, it would be left out.

“In Christ Alone” will not be included in the new PCUSA hymnal. To their great credit, Getty and Townend refused to change the line. They said they wrote the song to tell “the whole gospel.” Getty and Townend know what the committee members apparently don’t – the death of Jesus as a substitutionary sacrifice satisfied God’s wrath against sin, and it’s a crucial part of the whole gospel. Romans 5:8 says it clearly: “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood,  much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), along with the other mainline Protestant denominations, continue to give evidence that they’ve left the faith and have apostatized. When you outright deny, or are seriously uncomfortable with, what is known in theology as the penal substitution of Christ, you no longer have the gospel.

A couple of other thoughts: “In Christ Alone” is my favorite modern hymn, precisely for the reason Getty and Townend say the wrote it – because it tells the whole gospel and includes the concept of God’s wrath, which is frequently left out. This incident shows how important lyrics are in the songs we sing. Songs perform the function of teaching alongside the role of reaching our emotions. Therefore, what we say and sing matters because words mean things.

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I Surrender…?

Maybe you’ve read the list of hymn titles that have circulated on the Internet suggesting that they should reflect what we really mean when we sing. Some of them are funny, some are thought-provoking, and a few are downright convicting.

As we sang “I Surrender All” last Sunday at church, I was convicted of my own sin and lack of surrender to the Lord. The first verse of Judson Van DeVenter’s hymn reads:

All to Jesus I surrender/All to Him I freely give/I will ever love and trust Him/In His presence daily live.

The refrain reads:

I surrender all/I surrender all/All to Thee, my blessed Savior/I surrender all.

Do I really surrender all to Jesus? All of my desires? All of my plans? All of my past, present, and future? All of my possessions? All of my money? All of my time? I’m afraid that quite often, what I mean when I sing “I Surrender All” is actually “I Surrender Some.” I don’t want it to be that way, and as the Holy Spirit shapes and forms me into the image of Christ it won’t be. Come, Lord Jesus!

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Blessings in Disguise

I read the lyrics of this song – “Blessings” by Laura Story – before my pastoral prayer last Sunday. We all need to think about what we pray for and how we pray. It’s a good reminder before you go to the Lord in prayer.

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering

All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough

And all the while You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

And what if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It’s not our home

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if my greatest disappointments
Of the achings of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst
This world can’t satisfy?

And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise?

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I heard a song by Francesca Battistelli the other day called “The Stuff You Use” which made a great point about God’s role in our sanctification – becoming more holy and more like Jesus Christ.

In the song, she loses her car keys, can’t find her phone, and gets a ticket for going 45 in a 35 zone. These types of things drive her crazy, but realizes God is using them. This is the stuff the gets under my skin/But I’ve gotta trust You know exactly what You’re doing/Might not be what I would choose/But this is the stuff You use/So break me of my impatience/Conquer my frustrations/It’s not the end of the world.

Francesca has hit the nail square on the head. Those are exactly the kinds of things God uses (His “means of sanctification” as it’s called in theology) to conform us to the image of His Son Jesus Christ (see Rom. 8:28-29). God uses all kinds of other “stuff,” too.

  • A frustratingly slow internet connection.
  • A flat tire on the way to work.
  • A cold that won’t go away.
  • Good intentions that didn’t bring about good results.
  • A broken relationship.
  • Too much month and not enough money.
  • Hearing news that breaks your heart.
  • A task you thought was going to be easy, but turned into an all-day project.
  • Looking like and uncoordinated blob while playing Wii.

This is the stuff God uses to sanctify us. We can trust that God knows what He’s doing, even if we wouldn’t choose it. I’m sure you can think of many more examples. Thank you, Francesca!

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One of my favorite songs is “Thankful” by Derek Webb and performed by Caedmon’s Call. It beautifully portrays the biblical doctrines of man’s sin and God’s grace. Here are the lyrics:

You know I ran across an old box of letters while I was baggin up some clothes for Goodwill. But you know I had to laugh at the same old struggles that plagued me then are plaguing me still. I know the road is long from the ground to glory, but a boy can hope he’s getting someplace. But you see, I’m running from the very clothes I’m wearing and dressed like this I’m fir for the chase.

‘Cause no, there is none righteous, not one who understands. There is none who seeks God. No not one, I said no not one.

(Chorus) So I am thankful that I’m incapable of doing any good on my own.

‘Cause we’re all stillborn and dead in our transgressions. We’re shackled up to the sin we hold so dear. So what part can I play in the work of redemption? I can’t refuse, I cannot add a thing.

‘Cause I’m just like Lazarus and I can hear your voice. I stand and rub my eyes and walk to You because I have no choice.


‘Cause by grace I have been saved, through faith that’s not my own. It is a gift of God and not by works lest anyone should boast.


Derek, I’m thankful, too!

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In 2001, Keith Getty and Stuart Townend wrote and published a song called “In Christ Alone.” They probably didn’t know that it would become a classic hymn of the church. It’s in my “top five hymns of all time” list. We sang it in church last Sunday and I was reminded of just how good it is. Here it is:

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all –
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fulness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev’ry sin on Him was laid –
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death –
This is the pow’r of Chirst in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home –
Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.

This hymn never fails to bring tears to my eyes – the realization, that is, that it is only because of Jesus Christ and His finished work on my behalf that I can stand in His presence. Deep theology wrapped in excellent music. What more could we ask for?

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Christianity Today’s website has an good article on one of my favorite musicians, Eric Clapton. It’s called “Eric Clapton: In the Presence of the Lord.” You can read it here.

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A Matter of Prayer

A sad, sad story was posted today on the Christianity Today website. You can read it here. It involves a nasty lawsuit over who are the “real” Imperials. It even has a father and son at the center. Pray for The Imperials – all of them.

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