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Monthly Archives: January 2009

Oh be careful little ears ….

The post heading is from a children’s song we used to sing in Sunday School. If you are not familiar with it you can wearing-headphoneslearn about it here. The song teaches children basic Christian discernment while also teaching them anatomy by pointing to the parts of their body they need to be careful with, such as ears, eyes, and mind. As I was thinking about the words to the song, it occurred to me just how deep they really go. We are to be careful with what we hear, see, think about and so forth. But do we carry it too far, or not far enough?

I was prompted theologically to write this post based on some past comments presented on this blog. I have also petitioned some of my fellow bloggers and church elders concerning this subject matter. Since I write about music as much as anything else culturally on this blog, I will focus on that medium in this post. In past discussions I have participated in with other Christians concerning the secular medium of connecting culturally, the basis of  discernment has surrounded Philippians 4:8.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.(ESV)

But are we using this verse correctly? We have a tendency as Christians to want to create a list of dos and don’ts. Much like filling in the gray area not covered by the Ten Commandments. Like a fellow believing blogger, I would say the scope of this verse and context is much broader. Is Paul instructing us to only consume the medium labeled “Christian” as many folks have thought? Should we not watch sporting events like football of hockey then? Should we only listen to hymns and Contemporary Christian music? Should we only read Christian publications? I don’t think Paul is instructing us this way. I believe, as do many others I petitioned, that Phil. 4:8 is more of a list of exhortations rather than a list of things to avoid. But there are other passages in scripture that do deal with what we consume.

1 Corinthians 6:12 tells us:

All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything.(ESV)

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The Answer – Rise

I’ve been singing the praises of The Answer on Facebook lately, so I decided to introduce them here on my blog. I theanswer_2was introduced to the band by fellow blogger Rob Rockitt @ Hard Rock Hideout a few weeks ago. Until then I had never heard of them. I downloaded their UK hit “Never Too Late” from their album release “Rise” and loved it right away. So I downloaded another, loved it, and another, and another, each time thinking that the taste to hear more would flatten out. It never did. I have since found out that their only release in the United States came last year in the form of an EP. They have a new release for the U.S. coming March 31st called “Everyday Demons”. I am looking forward to that.

The Answer is a hard rock blues band from Northern Ireland. They are Cormac Neeson on vocals, Paul Mahon on guitar, Mickey Waters on bass, and James Heatley on drums. The band has many influences, but their biggest influences have come in the form of such classic blues rock greats as Humble Pie, Free, and Led Zeppelin. Many kudos have been heaped on this Northern Ireland quartet; but the praises that weigh greater are not from peers, but from already crowned rockers like Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, and Joe Elliot of Def Leppard, who are also fans.

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Posted by on January 23, 2009 in Music Review, Rise, The Answer

 

Phil Keaggy – Phantasmagorical: Master & Musician 2

The first music review for 2009 will be an album from a Christian musician I phil-keaggy-phantasmagorical-master-and-musician-2have been a fan of since the middle 70’s. The musician known as Phil Keaggy is also noted as one of the best guitarists in the world. To know Phil Keaggy is to also know some of the many urban legends created about him. Several rumors have circulated about Phil Keaggy and whether or not he had been observed by the guitar god Jimi Hendrix. The rumor begins with an interview of Hendrix on Johnny Carson or Dick Cavett where he was asked what it’s like to be considered the greatest guitarist in the world. The rumored response from Hendrix was “I don’t know, you should go ask Phil Keaggy.” Keaggy has stated that even though he did record with his old band Glass Harp at Hendrix’s Electric Lady Studios, it was well after Hendrix’s death in England. Another rumor that has circulated about Keaggy is the one about the middle finger on his left hand. If you’ve ever seen Keaggy perform you would notice that half of this middle finger is missing. The wildest rumor supposedly occured prior to his conversion to Christianity. The legend says that in a drunken stupor he wanted to prove he was the world’s best guitarist and cut the finger off himself. There are many variations as to just how he did this finger execution. Keaggy busted all those rumors many years ago. I found this video the other day where he describes what really happened to his middle finger.

Phillip Tyler Keaggy began playing guitar at age ten in his parents small farmhouse in Hubbard, Ohio on a Sears Silvertone guitar. He has frequently been listed as the top 3 “fingerstyle” as well as “fingerpicking” guitarist by Guitar Player Magazine. I received my first exposure to this masterful virtuoso guitarist while listening to a live recording of The Second Chapter of Acts, a contemporary Christian group that consisted of Matthew Ward and his sisters Ann and Nelly. Phil Keaggy has recorded, by Wikipedia count, 47 records spanning over 35 years. When I purchased his 1978 album “The Master and the Musician” I was totally hooked on Phil Keaggy. Since then I have collected only a small portion of his many recordings.

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The gospel for goodness sake

In Dr. Albert Mohler’s first blog posting for the new year he brings to light a buddha18subject of vast importance. The subject is the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the posting Dr. Mohler points to a report by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life and a newspaper column by “the visual Op-Ed columnist” Charles M. Blow in The New York Times. The report indicates that many American evangelicals reject the biblical claim that Jesus is the only way of salvation. According to the report, 52% of American Christians believe that “at least some non-Christian faiths can lead to eternal life.”

I would encourage anyone who desires to stand on the one true gospel of Jesus Christ to read this posting by Dr. Mohler and pass it on to others as well. Please follow the links in Dr. Mohler’s posting, they are very informative. The “new gospel” in many evangelical cirlces in one of a “goodness” theology. God surely won’t send “good” people to hell. I would expect this from Catholicism or Mormonism, but the study is from Christian evangelicals. As Dr. Mohler points out that this is:

precisely the kind of false gospel that the church is warned in the New Testament to detect and reject with clarity and courage.

Amen to that. We should indeed be courageous in holding fast to the gospel given to us by Jesus Christ, and preached to us by His disciples. (1 Cor. 15:1-11) A time is coming and is in fact here where a false gospel is being preached. Be faithful and love the true gospel. Hold it dear as a valuable treasure. 

For goodness sake?

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

Puritans and preaching – Part 3

This morning as I read through chapter 4, “The Demands of Preaching”, from the book “Light and Heat : the Puritan light-and-heatView of Preaching” by R. Bruce Bickel, I came across some great tidbits. The Puritan preacher viewed his vocation as a demanding and convicting vocation. The demands being a natural result of their calling, their knowledge of who God is, and the office He had sovereignly given them. The Puritan view of God and His church gave them the awesome judgment that an unfaithful servant did more harm than good to the church.

With this high view and mindset of preaching to one’s own heart, the Puritan Richard Baxter proceeded to write his celebrated work, “The Reformed Pastor”. Concerning the pastor himself he wrote:

Take heed to yourselves, lest you should be void of that saving grace of God, which you offer to others, and be stranger to the effectual workings of that gospel which you preach . . .  Many a preacher is now in hell, that hath a hundred times called upon his hearers to use the utmost care and diligence to escape it. . . . Believe it, brethren, God never saved any man for being a preacher; but because he was a justified, santified man, and consequently faithful in his master’s work. Take heed therefore, to yourselves first, that you be that which you persuade your hearers to be.

Charles Spurgeon, one of the last of the pure Puritan preachers, charged the members of the Pastor’s College, he founded or the purpose of equipping preachers, with this following exhortion:

If we are to pursue our holy calling with success, we need to be better men. Brethren, I do not depreciate you, far from it. But, personally, I feel that, as the times grow sterner, I must cry to God for more grace, that I may be more able to cope with them. Brethren, let it be a main business with us to ourselves more holy, more gracious, and therefore better fitted for our work. Let us not judge ourselves by others, and say, with deadening self-complacency, “We are getting on well as compared with our brethren.” Let us measure ourselves by our Master, and not by our fellow-servants: then pride will be impossible, but hopefulness will be natural.

I’d like to conclude with something I have only learned myself over the past few years. I learned this from my pastor and it was also the character mark of the Puritans as well.

One who did not preach to his own heart could not preach effectively to others.

and as Richard Baxter also has stated:

If the work of the Lord be not soundly done upon your own hearts, how can you expect that he bless you labours for the effecting of ot in others?

Soli Deo Gloria!