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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Friday, July 25, 2014

What Songs Are in Your iPod?

“Musings about Biblical Musicology”

God inspired songs that please Him, and He calls His people to worship Him with music driven by biblically derived God-honoring lyrics (Phil 4:8-9).

According to 2Chron 29:25, “He (King Hezekiah) then stationed the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, with harps and with lyres, according to the command of David and of Gad the king’s seer, and of Nathan the prophet; for the command was from the LORD through His prophets.” Worshipping God through music was therefore not done at the whim of David, although he was quite an accomplished musician and known for his passionate worship; nor was the music of Israel sung at the will of the prophets, though they were the spiritual leaders of Israel. God’s people are called to worship Him through music because God commanded that His people worship Him through singing songs that give Him glory.

The Book of Psalms, songs of praise written to music, is God’s inspired songbook. He gave it to His people for them to use to worship Him. In the NT, the Apostle Paul describes Christians filled with the Holy Spirit as “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord,” Eph 5:19. His reference to Psalms in that verse is to the Psalms of the OT. “It may indeed be said that the purpose of the psalms is to turn the soul into a sort of burning bush, …” – Jaki, Praying the Psalms (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2001), 27. They seem to have been written to encourage the Israelites to walk with God and to worship Him while they awaited the Messiah—the coming Son of David—Jesus.

We know that the Psalms were played to music. Instruments are named and several of the musical notations are its texts (Ps 4:0; 6:0; 12:0; 150:3). However, only the words of the Psalms have been preserved by the Holy Spirit—not their musical scores. That’s important. Biblical worship through music is driven by the words and not by the beat or the cultural style of the music. In saying this, I fully affirm that music in and of itself is a cultural language. It is a language without words that in its known cultural context can communicate. It can soothe, inspire, sensualize etc. Hence the language of the music is not neutral. It will either complement or contradict the message of its song’s lyrics. And since the language of music is discerned through cultural awareness, its message can be hidden from those who do not understand its language. On the other hand, a listener raised under the cultural influence of a given genre of music, may so blindly accept it as his/her preferred style of music that s/he loses sight of dangers that others outside of that music’s cultural influence clearly and easily see.

Acceptable songs then, are first and foremost songs with God-honoring words, not simply songs that are played excellently and have a good hook or a catchy tune. It was said of the great theologian Augustine that he approved of putting the psalms to music, but whenever he found “the singing itself more moving than the truth which it conveys, … [he] preferred not to hear the singer.” – Stanley L. Jaki, Praying the Psalms, 5. There is an important lesson in Augustine’s conviction for us today. Without compromising excellence (for the singers and musicians in the Bible are called skillful [1 Chron 15:22; 25:7; Ps 33:3; 47:7; Isa 23:16]) we must teach ourselves, our children, and our churches that words make the song and not the music. If we don’t embrace this truth then our great enemy, Satan, will fill our hearts and minds with skillfully played music that he invents with powerful melodies laced with poisonous words that will ruin a heart for true worship.

The Bible’s collection of divinely inspired songs are inscripturated to inspire us to worship God, to teach us how to worship God, and to model how to safeguard and preserve true worship of God. Music is given as a gift from God to us to do many things and to serve us in many occasions, but we must not forget that its primary purpose is to ignite our hearts to passionately worship God and not to enflame the passions of our flesh. Knowing this, upload songs to your iPods that have lyrics that honor God.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Why CFBC Unapologetically Doesn't Practice Speaking in Tongues, Prophecy, or Miracles

CFBC is an Urban Cessationist Church


One of the most divisive theological issues in the church today is the question about spiritual gifts. In this study, we will search the Scriptures to shed clarifying light on this question that confuses and divides so many believers. First, we’ll identify the main three groups into which churches have divided regarding the gift of miracles, tongues, and prophecy.

1.    What do Continuationists believe? They believe that people with miraculous and revelatory gifts still exist in the church today. They believe that the church has recaptured the power of Pentecost, and that the miraculous manifestation of the power of the Spirit is essential for the sanctification of believers. They typically believe that these gifts stopped only because of sin dominated the church during the dark ages. Miracles and prophetic gifts and namely tongues play central roles in these ministries.

2.    What do Cautious Continuationists believe? This group is often called Open But Cautious. They believe that the tongues and prophetic gifts are for the church today and yet recognize many abuses of false expressions of these gifts. Also they generally do not play a central role in their ministries.

3.    What do Cessationists believe? They believe that the miraculous and revelatory gifts ceased after the Apostolic era. All evangelical, for that matter Anglican and Catholic churches before 1960, believed this. They believe today’s so-called revelation, tongues, and miracle workers in the church are at best illegitimate and at worst demonically inspired.

Here's a short list of churches, schools, and prominent leaders from each group?
  • Continuationists: Church of God in Christ, Holiness Churches, Pentecostal denominations such as Assemblies of God, King’s College, Fuller Seminary, Jack Hayford, TBN
  • Extreme Continuationists: Word Faith Preachers and Churches, Benny Hinn, TD Jakes
  • Cautious Continuationists: Calvary Chapels, Sovereign Grace Churches, Biola, John Piper, Wayne Grudem, C.J. Mahaney.
  • Cessationists: John MacArthur, The Masters Seminary and Colleges, most Baptist and Presbyterian Church, CFBC

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Since Heaven and Hell are Real . . .

Here's my #WW4C quote for the week. 

"The death of the Son of God and the damnation of unrepentant human beings are the loudest shouts conceivable that God is infinitely holy, that sin is infinitely offensive, that wrath is infinitely just, and that grace is infinitely precious, and that the brief little life that you and I live and that everybody in our churches lives, will issue very quickly into everlasting joy or everlasting pain,"  

Quoted from John Piper's Together for the Gospel sermon in 2006.

Friday, July 4, 2014

What I'll Tell My Kids about Independence Day Repost

This is my annual 4th of July post.

The Untold Stories of African-Americans in Our War for Independence

This year my wife read to my children a book titled Come All You Brave Soldiers: Blacks in the Revolutionary War written by Clinton Cox, “author of several highly-acclaimed books for young readers, including three on fascinating yet little-known aspects of African American military history.” In Come All You Brave Soldiers, Cox recounts the untold real stories of the vital role African American soldiers played in our War for Independence. Cox is clear and captivating, but not at the expense of facts. He is very much the scholar when it comes to educating his readers.

But writing history the way history happens is a hard assignment. Because as history really happens, our heroes don’t always pose just right for the camera. And we do prefer to romance our history, if only just a little. Cox didn’t and that’s what I found so riveting about his rendition of the war that set us free. With little dispute, the war for our independence is a bright day in American history. But we all know that we’ve picked up a fairy tale when we read that the sun always shines and never casts a dark shadow. And America, as great as it is, is not Camelot or Atlantis. But I digress.

Whose Independence was the War of Independence for?
In the real battle for our independence, it became very clear, that even if we won, everyone wasn’t going to be free. Here’s the painful irony of the War for Independence—African Americans were fighting for the land we helped make prosperous. We were fighting for our new home. But so long as we fought on the side of the colonists, we were helping to liberate the very ones who would make sure that we remained captives. So the War for Independence in real history wasn’t a war for independence for everybody. It was just a war for Independence if you weren’t black or brown.

So as An African-American Father, What do I Tell my Kids about Independence Day?

I will tell them the truth. Shouldn’t I? Isn’t that what we are supposed to tell our kids? I will tell them that the great founders of our nation spoke boldly of freedom, and enlisted African Americans to fight alongside of them to the death for freedom. I will tell them that around 5,000 of African Americans enlisted in and fought bravely in the Continental Army. I will tell them that these brave African American soldiers, their forefathers, did this, despite the fact that their enemy—the British—offered them freedom and their countrymen continued slavery. I will tell them that their forefathers, men like Crispus Attucks, died fighting for America. I will tell them of men like James Robinson who fought gallantly, and men like James Amistead who risked all as spies, survived the war only to be returned to slavery before they gained their freedom. I will tell them others—many others—fought as soldiers for freedom and died as slaves in the very land that they helped to free. I will tell them that their forefathers fought for America even though America wasn’t fighting for them.

There are Noble Reasons to Sacrifice Your Liberty
I will tell my children that there are noble causes that are bigger than them. I will try to inspire them with the legacy of their brave forefathers who fought, died, and were re-enslaved, sacrificing all so that one day in America their children, or grandchildren, or great-great grand children would be free. So in the end, their slogan was “give me slavery and give me death so that my children’s children won’t have to endure this.” I will tell my children that the sacrifice of those brave men turned the tide in an otherwise almost unwinnable war, and as a result of their great sacrifice, America became free and has become the greatest nation on the face of the earth. I will tell my children that a heavy price was paid for their freedom, a cost paid bravely by their forefathers.

I will tell my children to respect men like George Washington, but not to idealize any man because we all have grave shorting-comings, and that none of us, even on our best days, are what we should hope to be. I will tell them this so that they will be gracious and not embittered about their past. I will tell them to enjoy the sun that shines in our country but to look for a brighter day, a day when the Son will reign over a truly free land where the brilliance of His glory will cast no shadows. I will tell them that they should thank God they live in America, but I will pray that they will live as foreigners longing for a citizenship in a better land—in Beulah land
  • a glorious place that exceeds the imagination of any fairy tale you could dream of (1 Cor 2:9)
  • a place where all who trust Jesus will be free, because He died as a slave in place of sinners on a tree (Phil 2:5-11). 

So What Will I Tell my Kids about Independence Day?
I will tell them to enjoy the fireworks because their forefathers fought in that great war too. I will also tell them a few other truths that most Americans have long since forgotten. I will particularly tell my kids those truths from history because I pray they will never forget the sacrifices that their forefathers made to make America free. I will tell them so that they will, as bravely as their forefathers fought, remind America not to forget on the 4th of July to celebrate their brave forefathers too.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

How Do You Share the Gospel

To encourage you to join other Christians on "Witness Wednesday for Christ" (#WW4C) and to honor Christ through your social media, I've posted this to help you learn how to share the Gospel. I hope it helps.

You ever wonder what the heart of the Christian message is? It’s the Gospel. It’s a story that God published and wants everyone to hear and believe. It goes like this:

1.     God is Sovereign:   Genesis 1:1
In the beginning God made everything, and everything was just the way He wanted it. Therefore, everyone everywhere is fully accountable to Him as Creator.

2.   We are Sinners:     Genesis 3
Our first parents, Adam and Eve, rebelled against God. In a just response, God gave them over to spiritual and then physical death (Gen 2:15-16). Having died spiritually, everyone after Adam and Eve has been born into a state of spiritual death and with an internal awareness of sin to which we are all slaves. We now love darkness rather than light because we are evil. And to make matters worse, whereas God gave man rulership over creation, due to his fall, Satan became the illegitimate ruler in his place. This evil and very powerful spirit wields his power to lead people further into sin and rebellion against God, and no one on his or her own is wise enough or powerful enough to resist his deceptive temptations.

3.   Jesus is the Only Savior:         Genesis 3:15, 1 Cor 15:1-4; 2 Cor 5:21
Here’s God’s Good News! He sent His eternal Son into the world to save
sinners and to restore His creation. How so? Glad you asked. That’s what Jesus was doing on the cross! He satisfied God’s just demands for His broken laws. The wages of sin was death so Jesus died for sinners. Then amazingly and miraculously He rose from the grave, having defeated sin, death, and Satan. The Father has exalted Him as Lord over all, granting Him authority to pardon any and all sinners whom He chooses.

4.   Jesus Summons You to Repent and Believe        Mark 1:14-15
Here’s what Jesus lovingly commands all sinners to do to be saved. Cry out to Him to enable you to turn from sin and to trust in Him. And if you do that—repent and believe—then Jesus will forgive you of all your sins, past, present, and future. He will fill you with His Holy Spirit, causing you to be born again. He will declare you to be righteous before His Holy Father. He will adopt you as His son or daughter. He will give you eternal life.  He will secure your eternal destiny with Him in heaven. In other Words, He will save you! That’s really good news, isn’t it? Here’s the problem -- everyone won’t repent and believe. Some will continue to reject Jesus as Lord and live in rebellion to Him doing what they want to do. When Jesus returns to take His childen to be with Him forever, He will cast his enemies into Hell forever.

My prayer and plea to all sinners is to call out to Jesus, “Save me a sinner,” and repent and believe in Him so that He might save you from your sins and the wrath of God that you deserve.