Friday, July 30, 2010

Conforming to Christianity

Here's the thing. Anne Rice made her statement, and many are writing their opinions, but I'm seeing that most are wrong in there conclusions about Christianity. If personal pronouns were poo, they would be knee deep right now. "I, me, my, our, we, etc...", what they (and sadly most people) fail to realize is that being a Christian has nothing to do with what we do, but everything to do with what Christ has already done.

Our community is just that, a community. We come together as groups in like-minded belief, still retaining the individuality that God has made in us. Hence the many different denominations, and the many different churches within each denomination. We share, we love, we gather together. Admittedly we are called to uphold certain truths, but not out of any requirement, or to earn/keep anything given to us. No, on the contrary, we are free, free to make the right choices in love.

And regardless of what the mainstream 'Christian' media tells us we must believe or do, there is but one thing, and that is the Glorious Gospel of Christ:

"Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures"
1 Corinthians 15:1-4

Friday, October 9, 2009

Clicking Your Way Through the Bible

Today I want to address one of the best ways I have found to “Prove it From the Bible”, and that is with computer software. I recently pointed a friend to some really good free Bible software, and I realized that I have been taking something for granted, not everyone knows about it. Bible software has been a part of my life for so many years, that it has just become second nature to me. It's my own fault really, the circles that I run in are mostly with people who are already “geeked” out with the latest Bible programs, containing enough resources that would rival most community libraries.

My life with Bible software started in the 80's. Back then Bible software consisted of what amounted to an electronic version of the King James Bible, with search capabilities. It came on 17 floppy disks ( for those who never worked with floppy disks, they were not unlike today's flash drives, except for being 30 times the size, 100 times slower, and holding only 1/6000th the data ) and to me, it was better than sliced cheese. As the years went on Bible software got better, faster, and more capable. New Bible versions were added, as well as many classic, and new religious texts. Bible software has now become such a part of the Christian society, that even before a publisher prints a new Bible, or reference, plans are made for the electronic distribution of the work.

The value of Bible software is unmeasurable. Imagine having a research library in your home or office. In it you have a dozen different bible versions, just as many commentaries, several dictionaries, a concordance, and scores of other reference works all laying open while you study a passage or topic. For most of us bookophiles it might be a dream come true, but it's not a very realistic, or productive scenario in most lives. Now imagine having everything I just mentioned (and more), in your laptop, and with a few clicks of a mouse, all your books are searched simultaneously, in a matter of a few moments. And every reference to the passage or topic you were studying is right there, indexed and ready for use. Along with this you can add your own personal notes, comments, and writings, ready to be searched with the rest of your library. That's what Bible software can do for you.

So whatever you want to do with the Bible, whether it's research, reading, taking notes, or daily devotionals, (the list could go on and on), Bible software is the way to go. Here is a short list of some of the Bible software programs that I use:

Free Bible Explorer (highly recommended free software)

WORDsearch Bible Software (This is my favorite, it's my “go to” program, designed for those who preach and teach the Bible)

Logos Bible Software (Best for research, great study tools, but can get quite expensive for some resources)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Praise Song Cruncher Observations

After my post about the "Praise Song Cruncher", I decided to run it by my Pastor. He is the Reverend Reggie Courliss at the Elkton Missionary Church. He made some very good observations some of which have been echoed by others. Here are his six points:
  1. In the area of clarity. he suggested that many of the old hymns need to be brought up to today's language. "Young people don't understand the thee and thous."
  2. In the area of repetitive: look up Psalm 136:1-26 (psalm= song)... Revelation 4:8 "Day and night they kept repeating Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy..."
  3. In the area of doctrine: absolutely...but to look at all the songs...there are hymns that are not doctrinally sound.
  4. In the area of singing about Jesus. "If I were to stand up in church and say "I want to talk to you about someone who loves me and died for me and wants me to spend eternity with Him" I would think everyone in a church service would know who I talking about. Maybe I assume too much. " In Acts 4:12 it says "There is no other name under heaven by which a man can be saved" but doesn't say Jesus. (editor's note: While it is true this phrase is part of a longer discourse Peter is giving on Jesus, the phrase itself is modifying the Greek subject "This One". )
  5. "I do believe that we need to look carefully at all we say and do in the service. If I can sing a song to either my girlfriend or Jesus we need to establish up front who we sing to by use of scripture, etc. If you put those things in a framework by which people understand it's Jesus I'm singing to I think we're good. "
  6. "It's all about the heart!!!!! You can say all the right words; speak doctrine clearly; sing like an angel but if your heart's not doesn't mean a thing!!" 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

What really bothers me is when we sing songs about ourselves. Not songs that just mention people, or similar, but when we and our worship, or how we are worshiping, or how our lives are effected, is/are the main subject(s) of the song.

Even before I got into the discussion with Pastor Wolfmueller, these kind of songs bothered me. One example I can think of is the song "The Power of Your Love". Or pretty much any song that is me, me, me.

I'm not saying that there isn't a place in our lives for spiritually uplifting music and lyrics. It's just that when we come together in His name, our worship, whether in song or word, should be only about Him and His attributes.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Praise Song Cruncher

Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller from Hope Lutheran Church, Aurora, CO co-hosts a radio show called "Table Talk Radio" with Evan Goeglein. In an episode several months ago they had a segment called "Praise Song Cruncher". It was a good segment where they took some songs Christians normally sing in church, and ran them through certain criteria in order to see what the songs were really about, and to show who the songs are really about.

Here's the "Cruncher" from the Hope Lutheran Church website. As I listened to the program, and later read through the document, I thought that while it seemed like really good advice there was not any Bible mentioned. I had intended to contact the show about it, but got busy and let it fall by the way side.

A few days ago I was on Facebook commenting with some folks at Chris Rosebrough's wall, when Erin commented that she put her music through the "Cruncher" and said most of it failed. I replied with my questions about the Biblical evidence to support each condition of the "Cruncher". Benjamin then suggested that I contact Pastor Wolfmueller if I had questions about it. So that's what I did.

He replied back the next day, saying that the question was fantastic and added an annotated version of the "Cruncher" in the email. Here it is:

1. Jesus “Is Jesus mentioned?”
Yes | No If yes, is it in name or concept?

Romans 15:9 "I will sing... Your name.", Col 3:16-17; Eph 5:19-21; Rev 5:9

2. Clarity
Is the song clear? Does it use sentences (with subject, verb, object) or sentence fragments?

Paul requires clear communication in the service: 1 Cor 14:7-12; 2 Cor 11:6

This grows out of the clarity of Scripture: Ps 119:105, 119

3. Mysticism (Subjectivity vs Objectivity)
Is the song about the things that God has done (objective), or about my own emotions and experiences (subjective)? Does the
song repeat the same phrases over and over in an hypnotic mantra?

Psalms 95-106 all begin with a call for the praises of God, and these praises are to be about who God is and what He has done. See, for example, Ps 96:1-3; 98:1; 100:1-3; 103:1-5; 105:1-2; 106:1-2.

Jesus calls repetition a characteristic of heathen worship in Matt 6:7.

4. Law and Gospel
Does the song proclaim the law in its sternness and the Gospel in its sweetness? (The Gospel is the promise of the forgiveness
of all sins won for us through Jesus' death on the cross.) Are law and Gospel rightly divided (and not mixed up)? Is the law
presented as something that we can do, or does it show us our sins? Is the Gospel conditional (based on my actions, decisions,

Col 3:15-17 Gospel: "peace of God" "grace in your heart"; Law: "admonishing one another"
Eph 5:19-21 Gospel: "giving thanks always..."; Law: "submitting to one another in the fear of God"

5. Is there any explicit false teaching?

Matt 7:15 and all the other verses that get after the false teachers
(For example Mt 10:26; 16:6; Phil 3:2; Col 2:8; 2 Pet 3:17, and so forth)