Thursday, August 31, 2006 1

To further confirm my opinion that Derek Webb is an Indie Folk version of Keith Green, he is offering his entire cd project Mockingbird for free download as of Sept 1. Why's he doing this? In Webb's own words:

as an artist (and often an agitator), this is something i am keenly aware of. my most recent record 'mockingbird' deals with many sensitive issues including poverty, war, and the basic ethics by which we live and deal with others. but i found that music has been an exceptional means by which to get this potentially difficult conversation going. and this is certainly an important moment for dialogue amongst people who disagree about how to best love and take care of people, to get into the nuances of the issues.

one of the things that excites me most about the future of our business is how easy it is becoming to deliver music to people who want to hear it. i heard a story once about keith green caring so much that people were able to hear and engage with his music that he gave it away for free, which was a very difficult and expensive thing to do at that time. it's actually never been as simple as it is today to connect music with music fans. and i want people to have a chance to listen to mockingbird and engage in the conversation.

So check it out If you're new to his music WARNING he'll probably offend you at some point. But cheer up! You probably needed to be offended. He's honest, biblical, creative, obviously generous, and God-centered.


Monday, August 28, 2006

It's a......BOY!!!!

Back by popular demand, here's the next installment of "Otte Family Update"! Despite the fact that most of our friends had us convinced that we were going to have a girl, we are proud to announce that Heidi is carrying a healthy baby boy! The hour plus ultrasound showed that by all appearances, baby boy Otte is doing very well as is his mother. The entire ultrasound was videotaped and (even after the 10th viewing) should prove much more impressive than the rest of the Red Sox season.

Friday, August 25, 2006

It's Friday...but Sunday's Coming!

Have you considered how praying for both those who lead and those who participate in gathered worship is another powerful way of preparing your own heart and mind to encounter the risen Christ, feast on his word, and fellowship with the redeemed? Here are a few prepared prayers that might stoke some white-hot worship in your own life as you get ready for Sunday.

Almighty God, we pray for your blessing
on the church in this place.
Here may the faithful find salvation,
and the careless be awakened.
Here may the doubting find faith,
and the anxious be encouraged.
Here may the tempted find help,
and the sorrowful find comfort.
Here may the weary find rest,
and the strong be renewed.
Here may the aged find consolation
and the young be inspired;
through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

The Worship Source Book, 1.1.3

O God,
we joyously come together to worship,
realizing we need not summon you into our midst,
for you are here.
We need not call you into the secret places of our hearts,
for you are there.
We need our eyes of faith to be opened,
that we may see you;
our ears to be unstopped,
that we may hear you;
our minds to be sensitive,
that we may know you;
our hearts to be tender,
that we may receive you.
Grant each one a blessing, O Lord,
as each has need,
in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

The Worship Sourcebook, 1.1.6

Holy God, we pray your blessing
on those who lead us in worship this day,
those who speak and sing and move among us,
those who direct others in singing and playing,
those who have prepared this space with beauty.
We ask that each of them may lead
with a sense of peace and confidence that comes from your Spirit,
so that your truth may be proclaimed faithfully
and we may live up to our calling as the body of Christ.
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

The Worship Sourcebook, 1.1.10

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Web Resources on Calvinism/Doctrines of Grace/TULIP

Monergism: Calvinism. This is THE PLACE to go. Tons and tons of articles from a huge array of theologians and pastors. Articles, sermons (audio and print), book reviews neatly arranged by author and/topic. Piper and Azurdia’s sermon series are stellar!

Monergism: Doctrines of Grace. This part of Monergism's site also has a bunch of goodies.

Desiring God: The Doctrines of Grace (Calvinism & TULIP Theology). Articles, sermons, and products.

Desiring God:What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism."Most recommended for a comprehensive explanation of the doctrines of grace. About 25 pages.

The Calvinist Corner. Not really sure about this one, but what I’ve seen I like. Like anyone who goes by the title “Calvinist”, you or I may not agree on every detail or argument. One example: I still don’t find his argument on infant baptism convincing. What can I say, I’m a good Baptist! In short, I believe the covenant oath sign of the New Covenant is the circumcised heart by the Spirit, not baptism. Nevertheless, this guy is very helpful.

Tim Challies: What It Means to be Reformed. He says quite a bit more but here’s his conclusion: “So what does this all mean? To be Reformed is to adhere to the purist teachings of the Bible - to affirm the doctrine taught by Jesus, Paul and the apostles.” A Letter from George Whitefield to the Rev. Mr. John Wesley.A blast from the past. Here is a great dialogue between two brothers in Christ who did not agree. Whitefield is an excellent example of how silly it to "logically deduce" that the doctrines of grace squelches evangelism and deadens urgency.

Friday, August 18, 2006

It's Friday (again)...but Sunday's Coming!

How do you sing in (better said: "with")the church? I'm not asking whether you sing on pitch or not, or even if your voice sounds good. Some of us can only make "a joyful noise". Don't be ashamed, you've got a verse for that (Psalm 100:1)! Rather, who's the audience you're singing to: the people beside you or God? Who's leading you in song: the music leader or the Spirit of God? When do you sing with the most gusto: only songs that you like?

Sometime last year I came across these words from John Wesley that he wrote as a preface to a 1761 hymnal. In case you've forgotten, his brother, Charles, wrote about 6,500 hymns! Consider what he has to say. And may your voice be an instrument of praise as you worship God together with the redeemed this week.

- Sing all. See that you join with the congregation as frequently as you can. Let not a slight degree of weakness or weariness hinder you. If it is a cross to you, take it up, and you will find it a blessing.

- Sing lustily and with a good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength. Be no more afraid of your voice now, nor more ashamed of its being heard, than when you sung the songs of Satan.

- Sing modestly. Do not bawl, so as to be heard above or distinct from the rest of the congregation, that you may not destroy the harmony; but strive to unite your voices together, so as to make one clear melodious sound.

- Sing in time. Whatever time is sung be sure to keep with it. Do not run before nor stay behind it; but attend close to the leading voices, and move therewith as exactly as you can; and take care not to sing too slow. This drawling way naturally steals on all who are lazy; and it is high time to drive it out from us, and sing all our tunes just as quick as we did at first. ...

- Above all sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing him more than yourself, or any other creature. In order to do this attend strictly to the sense of what you sing, and see that your heart is not carried away with the sound, but offered to God continually; so shall your singing be such as the Lord will approve here, and reward you when he cometh in the clouds of heaven.

—From John Wesley’s Select Hymns, 1761

Thursday, August 10, 2006

It's Friday...but Sunday's Coming!

Assuming that most of us still worship with fellow Jesus-followers on Sunday, what do you do to prepare for Sunday? Change your alarm clock from 6:30am to 9:50am so that you can be ready to slip into the service by 10:15am? Do you give any thought the night before as to what you might experience when you worship God with your local church?

In a recent sermon, I challenged my friends to think through how they could come ready to hear from God and ready to encourage one another. To help them, I gave everyone a copy of a something that Pastor John Piper prepared for his home church, Bethelhem Baptist Church. It's called Take Heed How You Hear. And even though it directly addresses the question "How can I prepare myself to hear the Word of God preached?" it can be applied to the larger question "How can I prepare myself for the whole experience of gathered worship?"

Here's an excerpt:
3.Purify your mind by turning away from worldly entertainment.
James 12:1, "Putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls." It astonishes me how many Christians watch the same banal, empty, silly, trivial, titillating, suggestive, immodest TV shows that most unbelievers watch. This makes us small and weak and worldly and inauthentic in worship. Instead, turn off the television on Saturday night and read something true and great and beautiful and pure and honorable and excellent and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8). Your heart will unshrivel and be able to feel greatness again.

9. Think earnestly about what is sung and prayed and preached.
1 Corinthians 14:20, "Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature". So Paul says to Timothy, "Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything" (2 Timothy 2:7). Anything worth hearing is worth thinking about. If you would take heed how you hear, think about what you hear.

SO let's here it: what do you do to get ready for Sunday?

New Weekly Post

Starting this week, I'll be writing a special weekly post that'll have something to do with gathered worship called "It's Friday...but Sunday's Coming!" I hope that you'll find it very practical, whether you're a pastor, music leader, nursery worker, usher, CEO, tech-geek, body-builder, deer-tracker, burned-out-hypie-turned-Jesus-follower, or whatever. Let's be sure to hear from you, too. Let's hear your questions, frustrations, joys, and ideas. See you Friday!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

My beautiful wife and child

Heidi is now almost half way there! She's so beautiful!!!!! Next week we get to find out whether our child is a boy or girl (if he or she is cooperative). It's fascinating to think that we'll be able to see all of the developing organs of our baby and see how it going in there. So much has gone through my mind and heart as I consider what it means to be a father. As much as I want to show and prove my love to my wife and child, I know that my love is not enough. I must point them both to Christ. They need my love, but they need His love even more still. I've been finding great comfort in these words from the prophet Isaiah:

Isaiah 49:15-16
"Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Destroy the Image

"What we've got to do in the music business is destroy the image that has got through... which has [given] God Almighty and Jesus image of a weakling. A slightly effeminate image. A sort of Sunday image. A religious image. This is not the case....This is something we're trying in U2 to do something about."

Bono, in a recently released 1981 presentation to a weekend retreat for Christian musicians with fellow band members the Edge and Larry Mullen Jr.

As quoted in Christianity Today: Quotation Marks