Does anyone else need a pick-me-up after at the end of November? After viewing the annual spectacle known as “black Friday,” I know I do. I typically feel like Charlie Brown at this time of year. I need something more than crass commercialism to get me into the real spirit of Christmas.
Not many people know this, but once upon a time I used to be a drummer. Iâ€™m afraid the only time my drums get played anymore is when the worship band takes the stage at the Criswell College where I teach, and the guy playing my drums is definitely not me. This is for the best, since even when I was at the peak of my drumming powers, I wasnâ€™t all that good. Continue Reading →
My good friend Barry Joslin has brought to my attention another parody video. This is from the 2006 Purpose-Driven Worship Conference.I thought this one would be worth passing on to you. Well, actually, I donâ€™t know if itâ€™s worth anything. But I figured if you liked the â€œGet in Here Ministriesâ€ parody, then you might like this one too.
Here it is: Smitty – â€œFilled with the Spiritâ€
After seeing this, Iâ€™m sure you will all make sure that your worship leader is at next yearâ€™s â€œPurpose-Driven Worship Conference.â€ Or maybe not.
Source: Simply Youth Ministry
I like to listen to hip-hop. Okay, surprise, surprise. But itâ€™s true. What can I say? I like the beat.However, I am often not listening to hip-hop because frankly so much of it is too foul to tolerate (see Philippians 4:8).
I am happy to find that this is not the case with â€œThe Procussionsâ€ latest single â€œThe Storm,â€ which is iTunesâ€™ free download of the week. Go download the song. If you are any kind of hip-hop fan at all, youâ€™ll really like this one.
Here are some of the lyrics from the single â€œThe Stormâ€:
Yo I was born in a violent storm
In an endless fight between right and wrong
I write songs like letters from war
Stuff a message in a bottle and I send it to shore
Encouragement for the men and women who lost steam
Rebel music for my people whoâ€™ve been swimming upstream
Some things are not what they seem
What you thought was a peasant might just be the King . . .
Yo I was not made just so I could decay
These songs arenâ€™t played just so we could get paid
I walk in the way in the truth til the light works through me
I ainâ€™t afraid to say the word â€˜beautyâ€™
I ainâ€™t ashamed to be odd
I know the path is hard, but somehow Iâ€™m getting closer to God
Knowing by His scars I am healed,
Healed in the storm until the morning star is revealed
I really donâ€™t know much else about this group, but this single is really good.
Readers of this blog know that Derek Webb and I are not on the same page politically and sometimes theologically (previous posts). Nevertheless, in an interview with Relevant magazine Webb has some salient reflections on the so-called â€œChristianâ€ music industry. Here are the money lines:
The whole secular/Christian thingâ€¦is a total fictionâ€¦
Donâ€™t let your local Christian bookstore do your thinking for you and believe that everything they have there for sale is good and spiritually beneficial to you. Continue Reading →
Iâ€™ve already theorized in an earlier post why southerners dominate the American Idol competition. Now that Alabama-native Taylor Hicks has won, the winning streak continues. Hereâ€™s the money quote from the Washington Post:
Taylor Hicks, the 29-year-old Captain K ringer from Birmingham, kept up the Southâ€™s winning streak on the most popular television show in the country (source).
â€œOh, I wish I was in the land of cotton, Old times there are not forgotten . . .â€ Okay, Iâ€™ll stop gloating.
My wife and I are fans of the Dixie Chicksâ€“at least when they are not saying things that are so over-the-top offensive that we feel like joining the boycott. As many of you know, the Dixie Chicks have been on the outs with their fan-base ever since Natalie Maines zinged President Bush during a concert in London in 2003. But when I talk about offensive rhetoric, I am not talking about their politics. What I am talking about is reflected in some recent comments by Martie Maguire: Continue Reading →
As I said in part 2, there is much to commend on Derek’s new album, “Mockingbird.” But as I also indicated there, I will now address some items that I think are not so good.
First, pacifism plays a big part on this album. That Derek embraces pacifism as the only Christian alternative comes through loud and clear in the song “My Enemies Are Men Like Me.” I don’t know how else to understand the following lines except as condemnation of anyone who might argue for the possibility of a just war:
peace by way of war is like purity by way of fornication
it’s like telling someone murder is wrong
and then showing them by way of execution
It seems clear to me that he is saying that just as fornication is always immoral so also war and the death penalty are always immoral. He didn’t expand upon this theme at the concert last week, but he did in a recent interview he did with Donald Miller. In that interview, he said that killing another person is not one of the “resources” that he has as a Christian (click here to listen to the interview).
I am not going to argue that pacifism is a position that is completely out of bounds for a Christian. But I am going to say that one cannot simply dismiss centuries of Christians from throughout the worldwide church who have read their Bibles and have found there a basis for the idea of a just war. Many of those same Christians have also found in their Bibles the right of civil governments to use the power of the sword for the good of society.
These are not new-fangled ideas that have been foisted upon the church by George Bush and the Republican Party. From Augustine forward, there has been a robust just-war tradition within the church. This is not to say that all wars are therefore justified or that all wars started by Christians are justified. It’s just to say that the Bible has much more to say on this topic than one might think from listening to “Mockingbird.” And it won’t do to say that Christians who support the idea of a just-war don’t take the Bibles very seriously (as is implied in the aforementioned interview). Anyone who has ever read Augustine knows better than that.
At the end of the day, we all have to deal with the fact that the Jesus who said “blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9) is the same Jesus who commended a Roman soldier’s faith as the greatest he’d seen (Luke 7:9).
Second, Derek takes a swipe at Christians who act as if being a Christian also entails being a Republican. Here are the money lines from “A King and a Kingdom”:
there are two great lies that i’ve heard:
“the day you eat of the fruit of that tree, you will not surely die”
and that Jesus Christ was a white, middle-class republican
and if you wanna be saved you have to learn to be like Him
Like I said in my previous post. I agree with Derek that anyone who would suggest such a thing as described in these lines does not understand Jesus or what it means to be a Christian. Unfortunately, I fear there are far too many evangelicals who have sold out their Christian mission for a political crusade, and that is a tragedy.
But even on this issue, I think more needs to be said. Many Christians rightly view the killing of 40 million innocent children within the borders of our own country as the most important moral issue of our time. Those Christians also believe that it is their duty to stand for justice for the unborn (Proverbs 24:11-12). If the unborn don’t number among those “orphans” we are supposed to protect (James 1:27), then no one does (see John Piper’s exposition of this text).
The political realities in the United States right now are this. No Democrat running on a national ticket is allowed to be pro-life. No Republican running on a national ticket is allowed to be pro-choice. If you are a single-issue voter (in the John Piper sense), then who else is a Christian to vote for in national elections? As far as I’m concerned at the national level for now, the Democrats are disqualified. That doesn’t mean I’m a partisan. It just means that I am outraged by the injustice of abortion.
In part one, I said that the title of this series was a play on “Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf.” Do I think Derek is the Big Bad Wolf? No, not at all. If I thought he was the Big Bad Wolf, then I wouldn’t have been listening to his new album non-stop since I bought it last week. As best I can tell, Derek is wrestling with the Bible and the radical claims King Jesus makes on all our lives. He’s challenging believers to lay down some cherished idols, and I for one am happy to receive that word. Even if we don’t agree on everything and even though I don’t know him personally, I count him as a dear brother. I hope you will too as you buy and listen to “Mockingbird.”
When I got home from the Derek Webb concert on Tuesday night, I shot off a blog that was in protest of what I thought was an overtly left-wing political message on Webbâ€™s new album â€œMockingbird.â€ But I later deleted what I wrote because I came to the conclusion that Derekâ€™s message actually deserved a little more serious consideration than I had given it. So that is why this has turned into a three part series. Continue Reading →
Derekâ€™s venue was the Gypsy Tea Room near downtown Dallas in the area known by locals as Deep Ellum. Deep Ellum used to be the hip part of town, the place where all the young urban twenty-somethings would descend every weekend for dining, music, and club hopping. This once very popular center has declined over the past several years as most of the nightlife has moved to the new and trendy â€œuptownâ€ area. Continue Reading →