Showing posts from 2014
Baptism – More Than an Event
As Baptists, there are several things that I believe we get right about Christian baptism.  New Testament baptism was always for those who personally embraced the faith through belief and repentance.  While I respect those traditions who baptize infants, I remain, and will always remain firmly convinced that believer’s baptism is the New Testament norm.  Furthermore, immersion was the mode practiced by the New Testament and early church.  In contrast to sprinkling or pouring, immersion is the most faithful to the original Greek word used in the Scriptures, baptizō - meaning “to dip.”  Perhaps even more importantly, immersion is a richer symbol representing dying and rising with Christ. 
But as Baptists, we’ve also had our weaknesses in our baptismal theology – at least in practice.  We’ve tended to consider Christian baptism as a necessary step of obedience (it is) and a public declaration of our faith (it is that, also).  But that is where we’ve often st…

The Power of Contemporary Song

Introduction – Experiencing Something New One of the biggest challenges I face each week as I prepare a sermon for the morning service is to identify an experience I’ve had and with which you might resonate.  That’s not always easy.  But when I identify that common experience, we can set out on the sermon path together.  As I was considering how I might begin today’s message, I thought I might relay my experience with opera in honor of our new friends from California. 
How many of you really like opera?  That’s what I thought.  I didn’t grow up appreciating it either. Most middle class Americans don’t have much of a clue when it comes to opera.  And because the experience they may have had with opera was diminished from its ideal, many, if not most Americans would rather pass.  I had exposure to opera in school through music appreciation and music history classes.  I watched a little on PBS.  I also attended a few amateur and student productions.  The combination of high skill demand f…

The Richness of Hymns

(NOTE: There are three places in this post where I reference the hymns, "Teach Me Thy Way, O Lord" and "All Creatures of Our God and King."  Unfortunately, I couldn't upload a copy of the print music.  If you're curious, I recommend a hymnal to get a visual on what I'm describing.)
Corralling the Cows in the Corn There are two competing silly stories that have been making the rounds in churches since the 1990’s. They go like this:
An old farmer went to the city one weekend and attended the big city church. He came home and his wife asked him how it was. “Well,” said the farmer. “It was good. They did something different, however. They sang praise choruses instead of hymns.” “Praise choruses?” asked the wife. “What are those?” “Oh, they’re okay. They’re sort of like hymns, only different,” said the farmer. “Well, what’s the difference?” asked the wife. The farmer said, “Well it’s like this … If I were to say to you, ‘Martha, the cows are in the corn,’ well that…

God's Design for Sex

The following is an excerpt from my sermon, "God's Design for Marriage" which I had given as part of my series on Nehemiah.  The topic in the text was God's prohibition against intermarriage between Jews and the surrounding nations. You can find the entire sermon in audio or PDF format at  
God’s Design for Sex To understand the nature of marriage, we need to reflect at the beginning – the stories in the first chapters of Genesis.  In the beginning, God created.  He didn’t create because he needed to do so.  God has no needs.  He created simply for his own pleasure and as an expression of his nature.  God’s nature is one expressed in three persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Indeed, when God went to make man, the Scriptures say “Let us make man in our own image” (Genesis 1:26).  Now within the Trinity – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – there is a sharing of life and eternal love.  Betwe…

I Don't Find Jokes About Worship Music Very Funny

This post is a second attempt on this topic.  The first was pushback on the cartoon above that a friend had posted on Facebook. It was lacking in grace.  I regret that but remain committed to my point. 
I have a good sense of humor.  I enjoy the satirical website, Lark News, and even my own copy of A Field Guide toEvangelicals and Their Habitat. I can laugh at myself and my evangelical tradition.  But I don’t find jokes about worship music very funny.
Most of the time, it is contemporary praise and worship songs that are the target of the jokes and cartoons I’ve seen and heard.  There was a variation of Cows in theCorn several years ago that poked fun at hymns.  Nevertheless, the repetition found in praise and worship is the usual target.  It is my experience that people who don’t like the genre think the jokes are really funny. 
I don’t.  I never have.  Here’s why:
Praise and worship songs are different than hymns. That seems obvious, but the difference lies much deeper than music and…