Rant About Worship Songs

Below is Jeremy Pierce’s, “Rant About Worship Songs,” from First Things:
http://firstthings.com/blogs/evangel/2010/08/rant-worship/
http://parablemania.ektopos.com/archives/2010/08/rant-worship.html

Here are some of the things I really hate in a worship song.

1. Too simplistic, banal, lacking in depth, shallow, doctrineless: Consider that one that just talks about unity among brothers that only mentions God in passing at the very end.

2. It’s so repetitive. I mean, come on, how many times can you repeat “His steadfast love endures forever” before you start thinking the song is going to go on forever? Examples: here and here

3. For some songs, the focus is too much on instruments, and the sheer volume leads to its seeming more like a performance than worship and prevents quiet contemplation.

4. There might be too much emphasis on too intimate a relationship with God, using first-person singular pronouns like “me” and “I” or second-person pronouns like “you” instead of words like “we” and “God”. This fosters a spirit of individualism, and it generates an atmosphere of religious euphoria rather than actual worship of God. Worship should be about God, not about us. Or what about the ones that use physical language to describe God and our relationship with him? Can you really stomach the idea of tasting God?

5. Some songs have way too many words for anyone to learn.

6. It patterns its worship on experiences that not everyone in the congregation will be able to identify with. If you’re not in the frame of mind or don’t have the emotional state in question (e.g. a desperate longing for God. Then what are you doing lying and singing it? Worship leaders who encourage that sort of thing are making their congregations sing falsehoods.

7. Then there’s that song with the line asking God not to take the Holy Spirit away, as if God would ever do that to a genuine believer.

8. Then there’s that song that basically says nothing except expressing negative emotions.

At this point I’m so outraged that people would pass this sort of thing off as worship that I’m almost inclined to give in to the people who think we shouldn’t sing anything but the psalms. Oh, wait…

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Why Is Music Ministry Stressful?

Why is music ministry stressful? According to a 2009 CNN survey of stressful jobs with low pay, a church music director is listed as #5: http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2009/pf/0910/gallery.stressful_jobs/5.html. While a church pastor is #10: http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2009/pf/0910/gallery.stressful_jobs/10.html.

The weekly job demands, seasonal events, expectations, criticism, complaints, low salary, disrespect, and often poor treatment all play a part in this. Music ministry may be difficult, but it is quite rewarding, fulfilling, and vital to church body life. As Spurgeon said, the local church is imperfect but “the dearest place on earth.”

Class Notes: Respectable Sins (Bridges)

Kevin Jones and I are teaching through Jerry Bridges book, “Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate.” In this discipleship class we will carefully examine the most common overlooked and pervasive sins we encounter and succumb to on a daily basis. Join us on this 8-week journey in April/May which will challenge and encourage us to examine our thoughts and actions more closely.


Our main textbook is:

Bridges, Jerry. Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2007.


Class Notes:

Outline & Recommended Books

1. Understanding Sin

2. Remedy for Sin

3. Ungodliness & Unthankfulness

4. Anxiety, Frustration, Discontentment

5. Pride & Selfishness

6. Impatience, Irritability & Anger

7. Judgmentalism & Sins of Tongue

8. Self-Control

Some Thoughts on Decision-Making

Below is a recent letter I wrote to a friend seeking advice for wisdom in decision-making. I pray these thoughts are helpful.

Generation X tends to often struggle with doubt and indecision, and that has been my story. I have regrets of hopping churches and dabbling in dating over the past 10 years and had developed a reputation of being indecisive and uncommitted. It took most of my 20’s to conquer doubt and indecision with church ministry and dating relationships. I’m so glad the Lord restores, gives substantial healing, and uses us in spite of ourselves.

These 2 books have been very helpful to me:
1) God in the Dark: The Assurance of Faith Beyond a Shadow of Doubt by Os Guinness
2) Just Do Something: How to Make Decisions Without Visions, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, Wet Fleeces, etc. by Kevin DeYoung

Os Guinness’ book helped me identify that struggles with doubt and decision-making were linked to sin issues of ungratefulness, lack of commitment, and fear/running from pain/difficulty. I am learning to be grateful where I am, commit long term, and embrace suffering through Christ.

This may sound crass . . . God doesn’t care where you live or where your paycheck comes from. Yes, he cares because he loves you, but ultimately, He cares more about HOW we live than WHERE we live. God’s will is clear in the Bible: rejoice, give thanks, pray, love God, love people, be holy, commit to and serve in the local church, make disciples, share the Gospel, marry a Christian, etc.

The place you live doesn’t matter. There is no perfect job, and there is no perfect spouse. Life is hard. It has it’s challenges. But things usually get sweeter through longevity and stability. Yes, there is a time to leave and a time to stay. But our generation is poor at commitment and sticking it out for the long haul. Our grandparents’ generation did much better at this. They got married, got a job, and made it work. There’s something good about that. We have so many options available to us, and we grow idealistic. We also tend to overanalyze and consider the repercussions of every decision, which becomes paralyzing and leads to worry.

Psalm 46:10 says to be still, relax, let go, cease striving and know that He is God. Relax. God has promised to meet your needs. Jesus promised to be with you even to the end of the age. Christians will go through trials and suffering, but the Lord will not give more than we can bear. He will provide all that you need so that your faith will not fail.

The godly man/woman of Proverbs knows truth and is a wise, confident decision maker. Be careful to not overspiritualize your decisions. We cannot trust emotion, feelings, etc. Walk in confidence in Christ. Know the Bible, pray, get counsel, and make wise decisions. As you move forward, trust God to meet you on the other side of that decision. He appoints the very times and places that we live.

Another comforting thought . . . nothing is wasted. God uses even our mistakes and sins for His glory. As Paul said, “Forget what’s behind and press on to what’s ahead. I press on toward the goal of the prize” which is knowing Christ.

So what is the Lord’s will? Again, God’s will is clear in the Bible: rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, love God, love people, be holy, commit to and serve the local church, make disciples, share the Gospel, etc. Do these things, and everything else will fall into place.

Press on. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Run the race with endurance. You are in my prayers.

Eschatology Need Not Divide Us

I would agree with Al Mohler and Mark Dever that our views on end times need not divide us. Any church that would divide over third-order issues such as eschatology or alcohol is in sin.

Al Mohler presents a theological triage in doctrinal discernment. He claims that theological seriousness and maturity demand that we consider doctrinal issues in terms of their relative importance. See Mohler’s article at: http://www.albertmohler.com/?cat=Commentary&cdate=2004-05-20.

Here is a quick overview of the theological triage:
First-order doctrines represent the most fundamental truths of the Christian faith (among these are doctrines of the Trinity, the full deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, justification by faith, and the authority of Scripture), and a denial of these doctrines represents nothing less than an eventual denial of Christianity itself. Second-order doctrines (such as meaning and mode of baptism) are distinguished from the first-order set by the fact that believing Christians may disagree on the second-order issues, though this disagreement will create significant boundaries between believers. Third-order issues (such as eschatology and alcohol) are doctrines over which Christians may disagree and remain in close fellowship, even within local congregations.

Mark Dever says that you are in sin if you lead your congregation to have a statement of faith that requires a particular view on end times. He makes a powerful charge regarding end times and church unity.
Listen to the sermon at: http://www.capitolhillbaptist.org/audio/2009/07/12/the-end-of-death-revelation-20/
See the quote below from his Rev 20 sermon given on 7/12/09: http://ajgibson.org/blog/2009/07/13/its-a-sin-to-sever-cooperation-with-other-believers-over-eschatological-issues/.

Dever states:
“I think that millennial views need not be among those doctrines that divide us. . . . I am suggesting that what you believe about the millennium—how you interpret these thousand years—is not something that it is necessary for us to agree upon in order to have a congregation together. The Lord Jesus Christ prayed in John 17:21 that we Christians might be one. Of course all true Christians are one in that we have his Spirit, we share his Spirit, we desire to live out that unity. But that unity is supposed to be evident as a testimony to the world around us. Therefore, I conclude that we should end our cooperations together with other Christians (whether nearly in a congregation, or more at length in working together in missions and church planting and evangelism and building up the ministry) only with the greatest of care, lest we rend the body of Christ for whose unity he’s prayed and given himself. Therefore, I conclude that it is sin to divide the body of Christ—to divide the body that he prayed would be united. Therefore for us to conclude that we must agree upon a certain view of alcohol, or a certain view of schooling, or a certain view of meat sacrificed to idols, or a certain view of the millennium in order to have fellowship together is, I think, not only unnecessary for the body of Christ, but it is therefore both unwarranted and therefore condemned by scripture. So if you’re a pastor and you’re listening to me, you understand me correctly if you think I’m saying you are in sin if you lead your congregation to have a statement of faith that requires a particular millennial view. I do not understand why that has to be a matter of uniformity in order to have Christian unity in a local congregation.”