Sunday, November 26, 2006

"What about those socks?"

“What about those socks?” is what a 5 yr. old asks when he means to say, “Where are the Christmas stockings?” Yes, this is an actual quote from our son while setting up the Christmas tree and other decorations this evening.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Great Joy = Great Christmas Music


Okay, Christmas is just around the corner... if you're like me and can't wait for the next Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir or Christ Church Choir Christmas project, then check out, "Great Joy - A Gospel Christmas". (also available via download from iTunes for $9.99) The arrangements are simply electric and the singers are some of the best broadway singers in NYC who come together to form this incredible choir. If you like smokin' gospel choirs, then you won't be disappointed!! This is one I go back to every year!!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

NCAF 2006 SONGLIST

A number of people attending the National Creative Arts Festival this weekend at Ridgecrest, NC have asked for particulars on the songs used during the worship celebrations, so I've listed them below. Many thanks for your kind words this weekend. It was an honor to lead us in worship of our Great God.

Friday Evening Celebration

"Victory Chant" - iWorship DVDs or MPEG
"Open the Eyes of My Heart" - iWorship
"I Give You My Heart" - iWorship

Saturday Evening Celebration

“Again I Say Rejoice” (Israel Houghton) -"Live From Another Level" - Integrity Music
“You Are Good” (Israel Houghton) - "That Name" choral collection - Brentwood/Benson Music
“Be Thou My Vision” (arr. Cottrell - Hymns for Praise & Worship - Word Music)
"How Great is Our God / How Great Thou Art" (Chris Tomlin - arr. Rhodes/Williamson - Word Music)
"Take My Life" (a.k.a. Holiness) (Scott Underwood – arr. Bradley Knight - "Glorify Your Name" - Christ Church Singers –Brentwood/Benson Music)

Sunday Morning Celebration

"Come, Now is the Time to Worship" - iWorship DVDs or MPEG
"Friend of God" - iWorship
"He Knows My Name" - iWorship

And for more information on the really cool moving backgrounds used on the middle screen, check out WorshipFilms.com

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trick or Treat??

Yes, I just got back from going door to door with 2 of our kids - our 13 yr. old daughter, and 5 yr. old son. No, we did not dress up in costumes - but we would have if we'd have had the time. Yes, go ahead and call me unspiritual, but going door to door and getting lots of candy from the neighbors is a really fun thing for kids!! (I admit I even enjoyed watching them have so much fun.) But wait!! Maybe you've forgotten how much fun it was when you were their age?? One of the neighbors asked, "where's your mask?" I almost fell off the sidewalk laughing when "the boy" (our term of endearment for the 5 yr. old) answered, "We don't celebrate Halloween, but we trick or treat!!" - very matter of factly and as seriously as any adult you or I know!! Our 13 yr. old almost died of embarassment, but it was a priceless and rare moment of honesty, stated as only a 5 yr. old boy could!!

That actually was not my reason for this post, but I couldn't resist retelling, so that it will live in our family's stories, and for the time being in the blogosphere.

So, what's my point? The whole trick or treat phrase got me thinking about churches... Is your church a trick or a treat? You see, many churches "advertise" one thing, and then when attending, what you get is something very different - a "trick", if you will. One of the Pastors I previously served with had a saying that went something like this... "We're not going to advertise something in the showroom that we can't deliver from the warehouse." (I'm not sure if that's exactly the phrasiology he used, but it's close enough.) How many churches do that on a weekly basis? We've all visited some, and you might even attend one now. It's no wonder the average Joe is turned off by the entire experience we call church when what is promised (advertised) can't be delivered. Things like grace, acceptance, forgiveness... I could go on, but I think you get it. May God give us all a holy dose of "truth in advertising" and/or change us and our churches drastically so that we can deliver everything He has for us to deliver to a lost and dying world!!

When's the last time you had as much fun at church as the kids in your neighborhood did trick or treating tonight?? How about people lined up and running in the streets to get whatever your church has??

...just a thought...

Monday, August 28, 2006

Nat'l Creative Arts Fest

Great festival and yours truly has the honor of leading some of the worship this year...

Today's church members connect, relate and best understand visual messages. If you are not already using creative arts in worship, ministry or missions- Add This Powerful Ministry to Your Church! If you are currently using creative arts to enhance your worship, ministry or missions-Take Your Creative Arts Ministry to the Next Level!You are invited to participate in one of the largest and most comprehensive Creative Arts Conferences available- National Creative Arts Festival November 10-12, 2006 held in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina at the LifeWay Ridgcrest Conference Center near Asheville, NC.

Covering everything from drama, puppetry, interpretive movement and clowning, to stage lighting, set design and construction - the National Creative Arts Festival is the ultimate conference for arts in ministry. Workshops are led by some of the nation's best, with plenty of hands-on training and applicable advice. Costuming, creative dramatics for children, script writing, and worship dramas are just a sampling of the many breakout groups this event offers.
For information and online registration

This Conference Is Ideal For:
.Clowning
.Comedy
.Drama
.Illusion
.Mime
.Missions
.Multimedia
.Puppetry
.Tech Theater
.Visual Arts
.Interpretive Movement

Anyone and Everyone Can Attend:
.Ministers of Worship
.Ministers of Youth
.Ministers of Recreation
.Creative Arts Leaders
.Creative Arts Teams

Participants Will Recieve:
.Cutting-Edge Ideas
.Professional, Quality Leadership
.Practical Direction
.Networking
.Powerful Resources
.Inspirational Worship

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Hearer or Doer?

Pastor spoke to us last night at prayer meeting from Acts 2:42-47

42 "They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they {began} selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved."

The question was asked (quoting loosely) "what can we do to make our church like that?" Lots of discussion in small groups (yes, small group discussion at a prayer meeting!) and I heard several say things like - closer relationship with God, Bible study, prayer, etc...

The conversation got me thinking (which can be dangerous!) and this will be very controversial to some - DO WE REALLY NEED ANOTHER BIBLE STUDY??? Honestly, I think that a Bible study is the LAST thing most churches need. Now I know that doesn't sound very spiritual or you may disagree vehemently, but many of us know enough of the Bible already! Don't get me wrong, I definitely think we need to study the Bible and have prayer meetings, etc. in order to deepen our relationship with and understanding of God, but that in and of itself is very self-centered and misses the point of the Christian life altogether. What most churches need is less "hearing" (studying) of the Word, and more DOING what they already know the Bible says for us to do. Be salt and light to the world.

Just my thoughts... think about it!

As James said (1:22), "But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves."

If nothing else, perhaps this will challenge you to "give away" what you already know to someone else. Blessings!!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Worn-out on Church?


revolution - George Barna

The Seven Passions of Revolutionaries
1. Intimate Worship
2. Faith-Based Conversations
3. Intentional Spiritual Growth
4. Servanthood
5. Resource Investment
6. Spiritual Friendships
7. Family Faith

To find out more, check out the book, "revolution" by George Barna, or join us for Tuesday night prayer meeting at Truth Tabernacle of Praise, as Pastor speaks on the subject! This is a dynamic read!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Prayer Meeting tonight

Yes, it's been forever since I posted anything - apologies! Tonight at Prayer Meeting, Pastor shared a great teaching to assist in our prayer lives. I think we'd all say that our prayer lives could be improved - even if you already have a great one. The comment that really struck home with me is that "our church will never be stronger than your prayer life." WOW! This was not new news, but it hit me between the eyes, and reminded me of what I already knew. We need more prayer in our churches and in our personal lives. As Jim Cymbala says, (paraphrased) it's sad how little time we devote to prayer in our churches, yet argue and push prayer in schools, at football games, etc.

Here is the outline from last night, for your own personal encouragement.

Teach Us To Pray: The Prayer of the Disciples
It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of the disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us TO pray just as John also taught his disciples.”


[DT: NOTE that they asked teach us TO pray, not teach us HOW TO pray. Most of us already know HOW to pray, we just don't! So, the disciples asked the right question for us... teach us TO pray. As Nike says, JUST DO IT!!]


**”Teach us to pray” is a prayer that God loves to answer for several reasons!
1) God DELIGHTS in our prayers!

2) Prayer is CONVERSING with God!

3) Prayer TOUCHES God’s HEART!


1) Prayer is the way we DEFEAT the DEVIL! When Jesus was being tempted of the devil, He prayed and then your Bible said that an angel appeared and strengthened Him!
You ask and do not receive . . . Submit therefore to God, Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4: 3, 7)

2) Prayer is the way we GET THE LOST SAVED! Pray therefore to the Lord of the harvest and He will send laborers into the fields (Matthew 9: 38)!

3) Prayer is the way we GAIN WISDOM! But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously . . . (James 1: 5)!

4) Prayer is the way a BACKSLIDER gets RESTORED! Therefore, confess you sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much (James 5: 16, 20)!
5) Prayer is the way a SINNER gets SAVED! Lord be merciful to me a sinner (Luke 18: 13)!

6) Prayer is the way the SICK get HEALED! Is anyone among you suffering? Then let him pray. . . and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up . . . (James 5: 13, 15)!

7) Prayer is how we ACCOMPLISH the IMPOSSIBLE! Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask and believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you ( Mark 11: 24)!


**There are six practical points to the disciples prayer:
1) ADORATION:
Father, hallowed be Your name . . .

2) SUBMISSION:
Your kingdom come . . .

3) PETITION:
Give us each day our daily bread . . .

4) CONFESSION:
And forgive us our sins . . .

5) FORGIVENESS:
For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us . . .

6) PROTECTION:
And lead us not into temptation . . .


If you want to take your prayer life to higher level, here are three practical ideas:
1) A TIME TO PRAY: Choose a specific time each day when you will read the Word and Pray. It could be the first thing in the morning or the last thing at night. It could be at lunch, etc. But choose a time, protect the time and use the time.

2) AN AMOUNT OF TIME TO PRAY: There are 24 hours in a day or 1, 440 minutes. Setting aside 15 or 20 or 30 minutes a day for study and prayer can be a life changing experience for you!

3) A PLACE TO PRAY: Jesus spoke about a prayer closet. Your place could be at a table, desk, or even on beside your bed. Or one thing that I really like to do is “Prayer walk or run”. This is very effective for me, but it may not be for you. The main thing is TO PRAY!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Easter Songlist

One of the coolest, most fun, Easter songlists I've led...

“That’s My King” (Video mpeg from www.sermonspice.com)
Alive w/Overture (Israel Houghton) – Choir
My Redeemer Lives (Reuben Morgan - Hillsongs) iWorship mpeg
Crown Him With Many Crowns (Elvey/Bridges - from Hymns for Praise & Worship WORD)
Victory (Curtis - as sung by Yolanda Adams) – Choir & soloist
This is Your House (Randy Phillips - chorus from Brooklyn Tabernacle)
I Love This Story (Tommy Walker) - Choir & soloist
Because He Lives (Bill Gaither - from www.G3worship.com)
You are My King (Billy Foote - from www.G3worship.com)
Let the Veil Down (Perry Stone - arr. from WORD Music) – Choir with "in house" DVD track
“Don’t Cry” (Kirk Franklin) – Worship Dance

Message

Invitation / Altar Call / Ministry Time
You are My All in All (Dennis Jernigan)
God is Here (Martha Munizzi)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

American Idol Ignorance?


Okay, I started to call this American Idol Idiots, but thought that might be a bit strong, but now that I have your attention... yes, we do follow American Idol at our house. I can't imagine any musician at least not being mildly interested in the show, just to see where America's brain is at, musically speaking, these days. On the way home from a nice family dinner outing last night, my oldest daughter asked me who my favorite was, so just for fun I thought I'd post my favorites - or the Top Ten.

  1. Paris Bennett
  2. Taylor Hicks
  3. Elliot Yamin
  4. Chris Daughtry
  5. Mandisa
  6. Ace Young
  7. Bucky Covington
  8. Katharine McPhee
  9. Kellie Pickler
  10. Gedeon McKinney
  11. Kevin Covais

I think it could end up being any of the top 4 (as listed above) but who knows? America doesn't always vote the best singer to the final. Yes, I know I listed 11 instead of 10, but you can't really expect me to put Kevin (Chicken Little) ahead of someone who could actually really sing, do you? Gedeon was voted off WAY too soon, and should still be in the competition as far as I'm concerned. Maybe his style was a bit "dated" but the guy could sing - and in tune - which is more than I can say for over half of the top 8 as chosen by America thus far. And one more thing - Mandisa should still be in there too!! Oh, well... that's American Idol Ignorance for you!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Temporary “Contemporary” Worship

I recently ran across an article that was very thought provoking, and a much needed discussion about what is often referred to as "Contemporary" Worship. The original article is here (http://www.midnightoilproductions.com/reading/ideas/temporary-contemporary/) especially useful if you're not into small print, but I've copied the article below (in small print) just in case the site or the link goes belly up one day.
Recently we were speaking at a large conference on worship, and the speaker that preceded us made a statement that really caught our attention. He said the Church has spent much time, effort and energy creating “contemporary” worship services, but has missed the purpose of contemporary completely by accidentally creating new forms of “traditional” worship. He concluded with these words: “Think about it, folks. The root of contemporary is temporary.”

Those words rang in our ears. If one believes, as we do, that worship should connect with people of this time and space, both believers and unbelievers, then we have to have a “temporary” mindset. Although the presence of God in Christian worship is timeless, the methodologies we use to increase our own awareness of this presence should be ever changing. The Spirit will always be moving in our lives and in our churches, so we have to stay fluid in our methodologies. We should stay true to our core values, while changing our cultural practice. This is the true purpose of “contemporary” worship.

There is irony in much of what is currently known as “contemporary” worship. Many congregations have a vague desire to create “contemporary” worship (that is, a style of worship more contemporary than what they already do) but don’t have a clear direction about what exactly it is that they hope to accomplish. Often what transpires is a specific style of worship that is structured around the tastes of those creating it. The style then grows old with its designers. It becomes fossilized. What is still called “contemporary” is no longer contemporary at all.

We’ve seen this with what is sometimes called Emergent worship, which is a reforming of the “contemporary” worship format for a new generation. The challenge for these worship designers is to not let the new style grow old along with them.

What does it mean, then, to be “temporary” in worship? What is true contemporary worship about, exactly?

To further reflect on the speaker’s words, the root of contemporary is tempus, which is Latin for time. The adjective derivative of this root is temporal. According to Microsoft Encarta, to be described as temporal means, “1. Relating to measured time,” or “4. Lasting only a short time.”

This is not a very apt description of what we often call “contemporary.”

As one aspect of worship, consider musical styles. Contrary to much of what is practiced, worship is far more than just singing, but it can be a good place to start. For many, poor quality music, or even high quality music not of this time, equals an inability to be aware of God’s presence.

Many “contemporary” minded music ministers believe that for the most part, hymns don’t easily connect with or inspire those who haven’t grown up in the church. Even for some that have, it can be a difficult task to connect to God through this type of music. If churches really took the time to research the music their laypeople listened to when outside the church, they would probably find that hymns aren’t high on the list. Or even 4-part harmony. One well known large church in California asked its congregation to write on 3×5 cards what radio stations they listen to on a regular basis. In pouring over all of the cards that were submitted, they found that not one of them listed a station that featured all hymns all the time. There probably aren’t too many of those around!

What some music ministers fail to see, however, is that often, older “contemporary” worship music is to the new generation what hymns were to the generation that first shifted away from hymns. Emergent worship has begun to make use of hymns, recreated in a 21st century beat. (Insert your own comment about skipping generations here.) Choices made by music ministers have to be thought through carefully if the goal is to connect worshippers with a experience that is not stale, but in this time.

Consider Encarta’s second definition of temporal, which has roots in our Christian tradition. Encarta states, “2. Relating to the laity rather than the clergy in the Christian Church.” In other words, to be temporal in worship means to connect with the people in the seats. To speak their language. This unfortunately has often been opposed, historically, to connection with clergy. As Protestants, we believe in the priesthood of all believers. This means our emphasis is on laity—everyday people, and the world in which they live. Unlike our Catholic brethren, there is no clergy class, laity class, or division between the two. There is only the body of believers.

As ministers, we should be as intentional about how we communicate the message as Jesus was. The problem with much of what we call both “traditional” and “contemporary” worship is that it tends to alienate people. If the worshipper, believer or not, doesn’t know the esoteric response lines, or the significance of certain objects, or words, or even the appropriate behavior, then they are lost. We speak a “Christianese” language without even knowing it sometimes. Many hymns and liturgical writings have language that needs significant deconstruction to even begin to understand what is being shared.

Our worship design emphasis, therefore, is not to create esoteric worship that speaks to a ruling class in the Body of Christ, who are privy to the mysterious code of “Christianese,” but to create worship that is an expression of the entire Body of Christ—the everyday person.

Jesus came to Earth to make God and His message of love and forgiveness relatable. He brought the message to everyday people in flesh and blood so that we, as these people, can find a connection with Him and His experience. He exclusively used stories from the culture, and metaphors (parables) from his day to teach. He rejected the rhetorical style taught in the temple. His ministry was to those outside the walls, not the ruling religious class; his language matched that style of ministry. (Mark 4:33-34)

Another aspect of worship is what goes on the screen. As important as music is the way we communicate the message in a visual world. To connect as Jesus did, we have to create and use imagery that speaks the visual language of our present culture. This means a move toward commercial or popular art styles found in magazines, television, movies and on the internet, and a move away from more traditional or fine art pieces created to speak to previous cultures. Fine art often requires as much or more interpretation than the language found in liturgical writings and hymns. The more intentionality we bring to connecting with the cultural art forms expressed in the world around us in this time—the more truly contemporary we are—the more the church and its mission will flourish.

A third definition of temporal is in opposition to eternal—that is, as Encarta states, “3. Connected with life in the world, rather than spiritual life.” In time, rather than out of time. “In this world,” to use Jesus language. As believers, we know that life in Christ is ultimately not of this world. It is timeless. The kingdom of God is both now and forever—the very opposite of temporary! It is often tempting, like the disciples on the mountain at Jesus’ transfiguration (Matt 17), for us to want to just build a shelter and live life timelessly, out of this world. To be disconnected with things of this world. This sometimes sounds nice, but it is basically selfish. Jesus calls us to come down off the mountain, go into the world, and preach the Good News (Mark 16:15). The disciples were not allowed to pitch a tent and hang out on top of the mountain. Jesus sent them back down to minister, to proclaim the Gospel in their own time. We must do the same, not being content to live out of time, but living the temporal life for the sake of bringing others along. Even as we follow a Savior not of the world, we must stay connected to life in the world. Which means we must strive to continually design worship that is truly contemporary, or connected to the world.

As the church moves further ahead in time, much of what is now known as “contemporary” will become “traditional” and what is known as “traditional” will no longer exist. This cycle of innovation and institutionalization is typical. To much of the broader culture, worship that becomes institutionalized, or set in stone so to speak, is seen as an attempt to hold on to the past—whether meaningful or not. This form of worship continues to speak to a certain (small) demographic, but its rituals and language often prevent people from experiencing God.

The move from archaic forms of worship to something that is more connectional using present cultural communication forms has to be considered if the church is to move forward in its mission to make disciples. We should strive to create worship environments where our members can feel comfortable inviting everyday people—our neighbors, literally (many of which are very much of this world). Where when they walk out the doors of the church with their guests by their side, significant deconstruction of specific words and rituals are unnecessary. Where the words that they sing, the message they hear, and the images they see connect to their personal experience.

To live this mission means that our understandings of worship should constantly change. We must continually come down off the mountain. We must guard against pitching the tent and exhort each other to keep those at the bottom of the mountain in our hearts. Truly committing to connect with the culture through worship, then, may mean that contemporary 70’s worship with acoustic guitars and “Kum By Yah,” contemporary 80’s with lots of synthesizers, and contemporary 90’s with that familiar grunge sound might need updating. The way the church does worship today should look different than what it did 5 or 10 years ago.

originally posted March 28th, 2006 by The MO Guys (www.midnightoilproductions.com)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Check This Choir Out!

This is not new, but I figured some of you may not have seen it yet.

Check this choir out!! http://www.honda.co.uk/civic/
after the initial screen, click on "Watch" and see the commercial and the rehearsal!

Pretty incredible work. Not sure if it's really useable in worship, but fun to see and listen to anyway.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

e-sword - FREE Bible software

Here is a great little FREE Bible software program that I have been using for several years now. If you want a Bible software program that resides on your local hard drive instead of, or in addition to the many web based Bible searches, check this out. Several different versions (KJV, etc) are available for free, as well as several (NASB) that have to be purchased (unlocked) for a small fee.

http://www.e-sword.net/

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Offendectomy - Have you had yours?

offend
v. tr.
To cause displeasure, anger, resentment, or wounded feelings in.
To be displeasing or disagreeable to:
Onions offend my sense of smell.
To transgress; violate:
offend all laws of humanity.
To cause to sin.


v. intr.
To result in displeasure:
Bad manners may offend.
To violate a moral or divine law; sin.
To violate a rule or law: offended against the curfew.


-ectomy (suffix)
Surgical removal: tonsillectomy.

Too many people are easily offended. This is a new word we have come to love and use frequently at our church. Offendectomy - to have your negative feelings of offense, anger, displeasure and or resentment removed as a result of being controlled by the Spirit!

Have you had your offendectomy??

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Jumpin' Jack

I have been described as many things over the years, but probably the highest compliment that I have ever been paid was when I was described (in writing - see Aug. '05) as a "jumping jack worship leader". Needless to say, it was not meant as a compliment, but after careful reflection, I feel it is one of the highest compliments I or anyone else could ever receive as a worshipper! You see, I can definitely be described as animated when I worship. I do tend to move freely about whether I'm singing, directing the choir, or leading congregation worship. Some have even described my movement as DANCING! Can you imagine that?? (See 2 Samuel 6:14-23) Seems that King David may have had what we like to call a "don't care anointing" too. Honestly, I'm not really sure you can truly worship unless you really don't care what other people think. Matt Redman puts it this way in his book "The Unquenchable Worshipper" in the "undignified worshipper" section.

...“losing” yourself so publicly in your worship of God and so on fire with praise that it burns right through any inhibitions or pride. True worship always forgets itself. One of the Hebrew words for praise, hallal, means to be clamorously foolish or mad before the Lord. Our Heavenly Father loves us with an extravagant abandon. Passionate, undignified worship is our only reasonable response.

“Love does not stop nicely to calculate the less or more; love does not stop to work out how little it can respectably give. With a kind of divine extravagance, love gives everything and never counts the cost. Calculation is never any part of love.”
- William Barclay
I hope and pray I remain a completely "undignified", "jumping jack worship leader" until the day I die. (And on that day, after initially falling on my face before God, perhaps my jumping will have really just begun.) I have a sneaking suspicion that I won't be the only one there jumping...
think about it...

Saturday, March 18, 2006

South Park - finally too far?

Intersting that it takes Scientology to finally push someone over the edge about South Park. Now, I confess, I've never watched a full episode of South Park, so I can't speak from personal experience, but from what I understand and have seen while passing to another channel, nothing is sacred to South Park. I guess since the Hollywood Scientology crowd thinks they have gone too far, they pay attention. Here's a quote from the Washington Post which pretty much sums it up.

Comedy Central, the allegedly irreverent, testosterone-fueled, take-no-prisoners basic cable network, looks more like a Vertical Integration Sissy Girl after yanking an episode of "South Park" that lampoons Scientology and Tom Cruise.

The cave-in occurred this week, just a couple of days after Isaac Hayes, who has provided the voice of Chef for the edgy animated series since 1997, asked to be let out of his contract because he had just noticed that the cartoon, about four precocious potty-mouthed fourth-graders in South Park, Colo., makes fun of religious groups.

Isaac Hayes, the voice of Chef, top, belatedly quit the show over a Scientology spoof. Hayes, who is a Scientologist, said it's part of what he sees as a "growing insensitivity toward personal spiritual beliefs" in the media.

"Religious beliefs are sacred to people and at all times should be respected and honored," the R&B musician and actor said Monday, according to news reports.

"As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices."

Series co-creator Matt Stone understandably wondered why it took Hayes nearly a full decade to figure out that "South Park" pokes fun at, among other things, religions.

"This is 100 percent having to do with his faith of Scientology," Stone said in an interview with the Associated Press.

Stone noted in interviews that "in 10 years and over 150 episodes of 'South Park,' Isaac never had a problem with the show making fun of Christians, Muslims, Mormons or Jews," and added, "He got a sudden case of religious sensitivity when it was his religion featured on the show."


Well said, Stone! When it's one of "their" religions - a sudden case of religious sensitivity!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Why does it all matter?

Why does all the recent controversy from the IMB / SBC really matter anyway? One word - autonomy - "the autonomy of the local church" has always mattered to Southern Baptists, and it is about to be hijacked if the IMB Board of Trustees has it's way!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

IMB and Baptism

Quick link to an interesting article regarding the IMB's "new" position on Baptism.

click here URL: http://sbcoutpost.blogspot.com/2006/03/john-hammett-and-imb-position-paper-on.html

Sunday, March 12, 2006

If I went to a church like that...

We left church today and Yvette said, "If I went to a church like that I'd never miss." It's true, and the cool thing is that it's the church we attend and serve! Needless to say, we had a great time of worship, enjoying the presence of the Lord today. At Truth Tabernacle of Praise, you're never exactly sure what's going to happen on any given Sunday - in a good way - even though there is a printed worship order and songlist. It's so refreshing to be part of a church where the Pastor is truly sensitive (not just one who talks about it) and open to the movement of the Holy Spirit, even if it means interrupting the printed worship order. Not only that, but the freedom of expression and celebration is unbelievable. Thank you, Lord!!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

More SBC IMB banter...

The saga continues... more interesting banter for your reading pleasure... click here

Jury Duty


Well, I've spent the better part of this week (Tuesday-Friday) serving as a juror in Gwinnett County. It is really no wonder the legal system and court system of this country is in the pitiful shape it is in. We heard a civil case brought by a lawyer against his former clients for payment of $4000 - his final bill to them. Guess what? His attorney's fees totaled almost $15,000, and the defendant's (his former clients) attorney fees totaled over $24,000. So... bring a case against regular people (who do owe the $4K, and should pay it) but cost both sides almost $40,000, and a week of the court's time as well as 12 jurors?? Pitiful, if you ask me. Welcome to the American legal system. Don't get me wrong... very thankful to be an American! I think it's the best country in the world, but we have our share of stuff to be embarassed about too.

Monday, March 06, 2006

100 Years After Azusa Street

Found this article, and thought it was worthy of archiving. Whether you consider yourself Baptist, Charismatic, Pentacostal or whatever, some interesting points to ponder. Give it a read!

100 Years After Azusa Street:Where Are We Going?

Let’s resist nostalgia. As we approach the 100th anniversary of the Azusa Street Revival, we must shift into the new things God is doing.

In April 1906 the Holy Spirit fell on a ragtag group of black, white, and Hispanic Christians who had gathered in the rundown Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles. They sang with fervor, testified of God’s sanctifying power and spoke in tongues—in a day when such behavior was considered fanatical. This now-famous revival, led by an unknown black preacher named William Seymour, was a defining moment in the history of Christianity.

Pentecostalism has now spread to every continent and in some cases is fueling the most staggering church growth on the planet. Yet at the same time many sectors of the movement have become musty, stale and painfully irrelevant. Some of us are stuck in a time warp.

The cloud of God’s presence does not stay in one place too long. He is always moving forward. He wants to reach every generation—and He loves to open a bottle of new wine when it’s time for a new season. Meanwhile those who prefer the altars of old-fashioned Pentecostalism have rejected the new wine—and sometimes have persecuted those who drink it.

Last week I addressed a group of Pentecostal scholars who had gathered at Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn., to celebrate the miracle of Azusa and to envision the future of our movement. I told them bluntly: It is time for us to move on. We must kill our sacred cows, tear down the old monuments and have some funerals. As wonderful as the past was, we can’t live there. God says to us: “‘Behold, I will do a new thing’” (Is. 43:19, ASV).

Here are just a few of the “new things” God is doing:

1. He’s shifting us from buildings to the organic church. Almost all ministry encounters in the book of Acts took place outside of religious buildings. Yet we still hang on to the outdated idea that God wants to live inside a brick-and-mortar temple. He wants to dwell among His people! Many of the people we are called to reach will never go near our buildings (which, by the way, sit empty most of the week). We must take Christ to the marketplace through home churches, workplace Bible studies, campus ministries, street meetings—and into cyberspace.

2. He’s shifting us from pulpits to people. The believers at Azusa Street celebrated the fact that God can use anybody—regardless of class or religious pedigree. But we quickly fell back into the old mind-set that requires a vast chasm between clergy and laity. Every member of the church is a minister. We must equip the saints for the work.

3. He’s shifting us from racism to reconciliation. As much as we talk about our heritage of racial integration, the truth is painful: We are still too separated. (And it’s not just white folks who harbor racist attitudes.) Jesus is serious about having a church that reflects the rainbow colors of heaven. We must think multiculturally. And we must sit at the feet of ethnically diverse leaders—including those from the developing world—and adjust our outdated Western paradigms.

4. He’s shifting us from male-dominated to egalitarian. We must allow full participation of women in ministry, and make room for their leadership gifts. We will never reach modern American culture if we keep our chauvinistic mind-sets. And we will never fulfill the Great Commission if we don’t empower and equip the female half of the church that has been marginalized and neglected.

5. He’s shifting us from hidden sin to healthy holiness. We have congregations full of people who are not whole. A large percentage of Christians struggle continually with addictions, bitterness, life-crippling beliefs systems, wounds from dysfunctional families and even occultism. We must become bondage breakers. We need another holiness movement—but this time it must focus on the heart rather than on a dress code, and it must lead people to an encounter with the Father’s love rather than into paralyzing legalism.

6. He’s shifting us from human ability to supernatural power. We Pentecostals claim to believe in miracles, but we have little to show for it. Has our faith dried up?God wants us to rediscover New Testament, book of Acts-style Christianity. And that won’t happen until we rediscover book of Acts-style prayer.

7. He’s shifting us from poverty to prosperity. I’m not talking about a message that tells every Christian to expect a Lexus in his garage, or that causes preachers to chase after watches, yachts and Botox injections. We must dispense with that foolishness. But we must also reject the Pentecostal poverty mentality of the past so that we can have the faith to fund world evangelism. God wants to give us billions of dollars to feed the poor, plant churches, build hospitals and transform nations.

8. He’s shifting us from escapism to conquest. So many of us have viewed the future with pessimism. We’ve been wimps rather than warriors. We thought everything was getting worse, as if Jesus simply wants us to “hold on” until the rapture. God is calling us to adapt a triumphant view of history. The Bible says we win. We need to start acting like it.

by J. Lee Grady - editor of Charisma and an award-winning journalist.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Technology is Wonderful... when it works!

Isn't technology wonderful? When it works!?!?! I'm sitting here listening to my friend John Jennings' (WORD Music) wife's (Shelley Jennings) CD, "Redeemed" on my relatively new Apple PowerBook G4 15 laptop (running Mac OS X),
updating my blog from my old faithful
Sony PCG-GRX570 laptop (running WinXP),

troubleshooting a dinosaur IJAM laptop (running Windows 98SE)! Just struck me funny to be using/working on 3 machines with three different OS's at the same time. Well back to the troubleshooting...

Monday, February 20, 2006

24 on Fox

Okay, I admit it... I don't miss "24" on Fox every Monday night. Great storyline - fast pace - great suspense - what more could you want in a television show? I watch very little TV, and there is really no other program that I watch consistently, but this is one I don't miss!! It gets taped if I'm busy elsewhere @ 9 p.m.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Roku SoundBridge - as cool as sliced bread!

Okay, I just turned 40 (maybe more on that in a future post) and received a little cash for fun spending... With it I purchased a Roku SoundBridge M1001.
This has got to be one of the coolest "gadgets" around for those with iTunes on your computer. I can play songs from any of our home computers thru the wireless network with this little gadget connected to our stereo in the great room! Check out their website for more details, but so far I am loving it! (*worth noting - it does NOT play music "purchased" through the iTunes store at this time - hopefully a future software upgrade if they work out the licensing issues with Apple)

Friday, February 17, 2006

Is Your Church Next??

Not particularly an activist, but do believe the entire Word of God - especially as it relates to expressions of Worship... so with the definition of Southern Baptist being (at least in part) one who believes every word of the Bible, I consider myself a Southern Baptist (and have been one my whole life). Read below, and be alarmed if you also believe every word of the Bible - your church or your Pastor could be next... Whatever happened to local church autonomy??

originally posted at http://www.abpnews.com/www/824.article Associated Baptist Press News

Charismatic-leaning Southern Baptists being betrayed, excluded, says pastor
By John Pierce Published: February 9, 2006
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (ABP) -- When Paul Pressler and Paige Patterson launched a revolution within the Southern Baptist Convention, they found an eager soldier in
Ron Phillips.
Phillips, 58, has been pastor of
Central Baptist Church of Hixson, near Chattanooga, Tenn., since 1979 -- the year the so-called "conservative resurgence” began within the SBC.
In the early 1990s, he served as chair of the Home Mission Board, since renamed the North American Mission Board. But in 1989 he had “an experience with the Holy Spirit” that changed his life and ministry significantly.
Though once an insider in the conservative movement, Phillips now sees himself as excluded from SBC life.
“I do believe Paige [Patterson] and others have betrayed every one of us,” said Phillips, whose church is now known as Abba’s House and draws about 3,000 worshippers each Sunday.
The congregation identifies itself as “a Spirit-filled Southern Baptist church” that “operates in the gifts of the Spirit while holding to the Word of God.” Phillips said his congregation affirms biblical authority -- what he thought was the sole issue in the SBC controversy.
“We thought it was a commitment to a higher view of scripture, rather than a narrowing view of fundamentalism,” said Phillips, who helped carry out the radical reshaping of the convention as HMB chair.
The suggestion that he is now on the receiving end of what he helped create is certainly “fair,” Phillips confessed. He said he has apologized to many who were excluded from SBC life in past years. “I was much younger,” he said. “But I was very serious and sincere.”
Phillips was elected president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention in 1991, even after his “experience with the Holy Spirit.” There were no problems, he said, because “I didn’t get up and talk about it.”
In his book,
Awakened by the Spirit, Phillips shares his emerging theological and historical perspectives as a “Spirit-filled” Baptist. He said his passion for evangelism and missions remains high, but he is finding it harder to support the work of Southern Baptists.
He said convention policies -- including the one recently adopted by the International Mission Board that excludes missionary candidates who use a "
private prayer language" -- are pushing more good Baptists away.
“We’re shocked and betrayed by what has happened at the International Mission Board,” said Phillips. “I feel like it is a precursor to a total booting out of Baptists with charismatic leanings.”
In response,
Paige Patterson said neither he nor anyone else to his knowledge ever made a promise to include charismatic persons in all aspects of SBC life. And his position on gifts of the Spirit, he said, has been known publicly for years and is documented in a commentary he wrote on 1 Corinthians.
“The Bible says not to forbid speaking in tongues, since the miracle of Acts 2, for example, was a miracle of God,” said Patterson. “However, Paul builds in so many restrictions in 1 Corinthians 14 as to make the practice of mere utterance, what is practiced mostly today, virtually of little value.”
Patterson said, as a Baptist, he would not forbid anyone from speaking in tongues, but would not call such a person to be his pastor or appoint someone with such leanings as a seminary professor.
“I cannot imagine why anyone could feel betrayed,” said Patterson, now president of
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. “Most of us don’t make deals; we try to understand Scripture and faithfully preach it.”
Phillips, however, reads such a promise from page 158 of
Paul Pressler’s book, A Hill On Which To Die, released in 1999.
In his personal recounting of the rightward shift in the SBC, Pressler writes: “The liberals had said that after the conservatives finished with those who held different views of the nature of the Bible, they would begin attacking the charismatics (neo-Pentecostals). … They said conservatives wanted to make everybody think just as they do. Such a charge is ludicrous, but it did worry some people such as my friend Wally Henley [pastor of Encourager Church in Houston], who had charismatic leanings. … I assured him that Paige, our friends, and I would not turn on charismatics after the battle over biblical authority was won. He trusted us, and he and others have now seen that this issue will not be a test of fellowship."
That assurance, however, is not being kept by SBC leaders, said Phillips. And the growing restrictions within SBC agencies make it harder for him and others to stay connected.
“I think this is an effort to exclude ‘Word and Spirit’ people” from the SBC, he said.
Like others, such as Oklahoma pastor Wade Burleson, whose removal as an IMB trustee is being sought by the agency’s board, Phillips sees the
new restrictions on overseas missionaries as an assault on IMB President Jerry Rankin, who admitted to having a private prayer language.
Phillips said if the trustees think such practices are biblically wrong, they should make the new restrictions retroactive to current missionaries and staff -- rather than applicable to future candidates only. Otherwise, he said, it is a moot point.
Phillips called
the latest restrictions on missionaries “horrible.” Private prayer practices "should be nobody’s business,” he said.
Phillips said he doesn’t know Rankin personally but has heard wonderful reports about his leadership from missionaries he has encountered around the world. He predicted the new restrictions on missionaries will hurt Southern Baptist efforts to become more ethnically diverse also. “Many African-American congregations that are Southern Baptist operate with the leadership of the Holy Spirit,” said Phillips. “That’s got to be an issue.”
Phillips also claimed that members of his congregation are no longer able to serve as missionaries -- even as volunteers -- of NAMB, the SBC agency he once led.
Marty King, NAMB spokesman, said the agency does not screen volunteers for charismatic leanings. The board does have a
policy, King said, that prohibits appointed missionaries and endorsed chaplains from practicing glossalalia (speaking in tongues), including a private prayer language.
So does Phillips still consider himself a Southern Baptist?
“I do,” he said. “I think I’m the real deal.”
Phillips said he is not mad at those he helped to gain power in the SBC, just concerned that they have “embraced what I call McCarthyism.” Their philosophy, he said, seems to be “us four and no more.”
Phillips said he and his congregation are relating to a wider group of Christians than before. Independent Baptists, and even so-called moderate Baptists within and outside the SBC, are more open to him than current Southern Baptist leaders, he said.
“I have spoken in some moderate churches and have had some great revivals,” said Phillips. “I think there is a greater hunger in moderate churches for the Holy Spirit.”
Just admitting that, said Phillips, would probably cause some Southern Baptist leaders to call him a liberal.
Phillips said he and his congregation are partnering for missions and evangelism wherever they find acceptance and support.
“We want to go where we are celebrated, not just tolerated,” said Phillips.
(end of article)

Maybe they're beginning to "get it" - read this article about a recent "reversal" to an earlier decision regarding Wade Burleson.

After reading through several different posts, I've found the SBC Outpost blogsite to be one of considerable interest. Continue watching how this all unfolds there.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Metro 2 Music Ministers' Useful Websites

Great to be with the Metro 2 Music Ministers this week! Here are their "Useful Websites" as submitted for this year's meeting:
www.barnafilms.com
www.biblegateway.com
www.boldworship.com
www.buccaneers.com
www.ccli.com
www.chordfind.com
www.christianmedia.com
www.churchmedianetwork.com
www.corbis.com
www.creativeworship.com
www.creatormagazine.com
www.crosswalk.com
www.desiringgod.org
www.encouragingmusic.com
www.experiencingworship.com
www.ezword.com
www.fbcj.org
www.freesheetmusic.com
www.g3music.com
www.g3worship.com
www.ginghamsburg.org
www.google.com
www.highcountryresources.com
www.highwayvideo.com
www.hymncharts.com
www.ignitemedia.com
www.ignitervideos.com
www.integrity.com
www.integritymusic.com
www.istockphoto.com
www.itunes.com
www.Iwillworship.com
www.jjonline.com
www.johnniecarl.com
www.jwpepper.com
www.leadworship.com
www.lifeway.com
www.markcondon.com
www.movieministry.com
www.musicnotes.com
www.northpoint.org
www.ntimemusic.com
www.pastors.com
www.pgatour.com
www.pinelakemusic.com
www.praisecharts.com
www.pricewatch.com
www.resources4worship.com
www.riverspring.com
www.screenvue.com
www.sermonspice.com
www.sermonvideos.com
www.snopes.com
www.songdiscovery.com
www.songs4worship.com
www.songselect.com
www.songsforworship.com
www.songtouch.com
www.sovereigngraceministries.org
www.spiritsoundmusic.com
www.tcmr.com
www.wikipedia.org
www.willowcharts.com
www.willowcreek.com
www.willownet.com
www.wordmusic.com
www.wordmusicnow.com
www.worshipflix.com
www.worshiptogether.com

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Small Town, Big Heart

I had almost forgotten how tight knit small towns were until a recent tragedy struck our family, and my Uncle Sidney was killed in a tragic bulldozer accident last weekend. Our family was overwhelmed by the love and support of the community. There were literally several thousand people who stood in line during the family visitation (which lasted over 3 hours), and over 1,000 at the funeral the next day. You know you live in a small town when the local Burger King even places a sympathy message on their marqee. It was a great comfort during a time of such great loss to see so many people express their love and concern for our family. Here is the obituary from the Florida Times Union (Jacksonville)

Thomas, Sidney Eugene

THOMAS Sidney Eugene Thomas, 58, of Callahan, Fl., died unexpectedly on January 21, 2006. Sidney was a lifelong resident of Callahan. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather, and friend who will be sorely missed. He was currently employed at Stateline Disposal as the General Manager. Stateline Disposal evolved from Nassau Sanitation Service, a company that Sidney founded with his brother Wayne. The company grew from a small, two man operation into one of the largest sanitation companies in Northeast Florida. Sidney was a member of a large family. He was predeceased by his mother Jewel Thomas, his father Willie Thomas, and two brothers Irvin and Leslie Thomas. He is survived by his wife of 38 years Joyce Ambrose Thomas, two daughters Ceryle (Claud) Freeburn and Michelle (Brian) Wright, three brothers Warren (Ellyne) Thomas, Hardy (Lila) Thomas, Wayne (Danielle) Thomas, one sister Gloria Thomas, five grandchildren Jordan and Jenna Freeburn and Reagan, Walker andBrady Wright, two aunts Louella Jones and Zula Courson, and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins. Sidney was a faithful member of the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville. When he wasn't working, he enjoyed spending time with his family and could always be found at any athletic events or activities in which his grandchildren participated. He left a large number of friends, family members, and co-workers who enjoyed his sense of humor and his compassionate spirit. He was only here for a short time, but he made a huge impact on many lives. Sidney's family will receive visitors from 6pm-9pm on Tuesday, January 24, at the First Baptist church of Callahan in the sanctuary. Funeral services will be held at 11am on Wednesday, January 25, at the First Baptist Church of Callahan. Interment will follow in Jones Cemetery, Callahan. In lieu of flowers the family request donations be made to the Sidney Thomas Vocational Ministry Scholarship fund in care of First Baptist Church of Callahan, P.O. Box 605, Callahan, FL. 32011. Arrangements by Callahan Funeral Home, Inc. Please Sign the Guestbook @ Jacksonville.com originally published in the Florida Times-Union from 1/24/2006 - 1/25/2006.