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What will you find here? You will find thoughts on life and death, thoughts about God and humanity's relationship with the Divine, you will find links to other bloggers and websites that pique my interest, and hopefully yours too. And finally, you will from time to time find me waxing on about music, because there is probably nothing else in my life that I dig so consistently and fervently as good music. Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to read this.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Another borrowed blog . . . very good stuff.

I have recently found myself increasingly frustrated with the way that the Christian church picks and chooses which sins it will or will not accept.  A popular target for Christians is the homosexual community. And I am not about to defend them.  I agree that Christian doctrine and scripture holds that homosexuality is a sin . . . just as it does lying, drunkenness, divorce, fornication, etc.  So, where does that put us as Christians?  Here is an excellent blog dealing with this issue:


An excerpt: “Church people ask, why won’t our culture repent? My answer: Because repentance is a learned behavior.  Someone has to model it.  I tell parents that it’s silly to expect a child to repent when they have never seen a parent repent.  And it’s futile to wait for a culture to repent when a culture has enver seen the Church repent. . . . Is the real problem with our culture the unrepentant gay community? No.  It’s an unrepentant Church.”

Church, if you want to see revival, it must begin within you!  It will not start outside your walls until it has taken hold inside of them!

Some keen insights, for sure.  Take the time to read it and share it with your Christian friends. Here is an excerpt.

A Borrowed Blog, but it is a good one

This morning, a good friend of mine posted this link on his Facebook profile.  It is a link to a blog by another brother in the Lord whom I don't know.  However, I very much like the blog posting, so I will share the link with you here.  I highly recommend that you check out his post, take time to meditate on it, and then if it applies to you, change your practice, and teacher your brothers and sisters in Jesus to do likewise.

Remember, proof-texting can appear very benign, but in most cases leads to bad doctrine.  "It is popular to believe that God will not place more on us than we can handle. However, there is ample scriptural evidence to suggest otherwise."  Just because something is popular, sounds Biblical, and makes us feel good, does not mean it is from God.  And if it is not from God, then it is of this world, and we should want none of it.

Here is the link: http://rogerupton.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/misused-bible-verses-part-one-god-will-never-put-more-on-you-than-you-can-handle/

And then, once your done ruminating on that blog, give some thought to how notions as this can impact the idea of "worshiping in Spirit and in truth".

I will get you started on that.  Please feel free to share your comments.   . . . . If a song includes questionable lyrics (ie. bad doctrine), should it be sung in churches as is?

Maybe the next post will take this topic on .  . . .

Monday, June 11, 2012

Another New Song Translation from Anacrusis Ministries

Here is another song translation.  This song is quite well known among English speaking evangelicals, but to the best of my knowledge, not sung in Spanish congregations.  I hope that changes with my translation.  Please feel free to print and use these songs in your local congregation, to the Glory of God.

The first song is Robin Mark's "Lion of Judah".  Here it is sung in English:

My translation is here  (por favor, dejame sus comentarios sobre esta traduccion.  Los quiero leer.  DLB): 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A New Song Translation From Anacrusis Ministries

Anacrusis Ministries is the name I created for any works that I might need to provide copyright protection.  I have absolutely no objection to any of these works being used in churches for the edifying of the body.  Please, however, do not use them to make money for yourself.  They are consecrated works, to the glory of God.  From time to time (as in this case) items from Anacrusis Ministries will appear on this blog.

Paul Baloche recently released a new disc.  On that disc is a song called "King of Heaven".  It is so rare to see new songs that actually focus on a member of the God-head.  So many of the new songs sung in churches these days focus not on the worshipped, but on the supposed worshipper.  Those who worship thus do so in vain, their offering is not fragrant but instread as noisome as it is noisy.

The song, "King of Heaven" can be found here:

I think it is a beautiful tune, Christo-centric, and asking for revival (this is another blog for another day).  It is one that once I have it worked out well enough, I will be leading in churches here in Mexico.  My Spanish translation is here (por favor, quiero leer tus comentarios sobre este traducción.):

A blog worth reading . . .

This morning I surfed across a blog by one of my favourite Christian authors.  Frank Viola is a speaker, writer, and proponent of the "Organic Church".  For more on what that means, and on many other worthwhile topics pertaining to the church and to Christian living, I recommend you check out his blog, at: http://frankviola.org/.  Thank you, brother Frank, for sharing your wisdom and insight with us through this medium.  I shall be a regular reader and follower of your blog.

If you haven't yet read it, I highly recommend you read Pagan Christianity, a book co-authored by Frank Viola and Geogre Barna.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dry Faith, Spiritual Thirst, and Prohibition

I grew up in a non-drinking home, except in cases of illness, where alcohol was used as medicine (to help sleep when very ill, lessen coughs, etc., following the home remedies of both my Grandmothers). There was never wine, cider, beer, or any such item at the table.  The denomination I grew up taught (but did not insist on) abstinence, teaching that while the Bible does not forbid the consumption of alcoholic beverages, it is still something that good Christians avoid.  (In a quick search of the internet, this is the prevailing perspective among most evangelical bloggers.) 
Smoking was strictly forbidden in my home.  As a result, I tried my first cigarettes as an act of rebellion.  I smoked for a few years, but never habitually.  Rather, I used the cigarette as an excuse to take extra breaks at work, but only when the weather was good. I did not really like the flavour and smell of cigarettes, though, so I quit easily, and haven't smoked a cigarette now for 13 years.

As an adult, I became convicted of the legalism I had been raised with, since the prohibition of drinking and smoking is in line with Scripture.  Most who try to justify their prohibition of one or the other with scripture must resort to some tricky and convoluted exegesis.  My position has been and conitunes to be, when referring to non-prophetic books of scripture, to let the text speak for itself, in both its immediate and larger Biblical context.

I am now a moderate drinker (16 years drinking, never once drunk) and an occasional cigar and pipe smoker. Neither of these items has hold over my life. They are not addiction issues for me, and I am free to enjoy them as I believe that God intended for me to.  
My gripe is with those well meaning Christians who take such a prohibitive stance.  I agree, that for people with addictions, they ought to avoid the object of the addiction, until they are healed of it by our Lord.  If they are not relieved of the burden they must not partake, lest they fall.  But to extend this prohibition to all is legalism.  It is the imposition of a law as master.  Christ has freed us from the law.  Such imposition of non-Scriptural rules dare not be done.  This makes us again slaves to the law.  
Galatians 5:1-4 says: "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.  Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace."
In other words, circumcision refers to bowing to law for the sake of the law, not due to personal conviction and leading by the Holy Spirit.  It is bowing to the will of man, not of God.  
Beware the Judaiser!

Open your Bible, and read Matthew 23.  I think, with some reservations, we could replace the words Pharisee and Scribe with Pastor and Assistant Pastor, and have a pretty accurate assesment of the type of morality taught in many Christian churches today.  It is outward morality, driven by the law.  It is slavery. 

 It undoes the work of reformers such as Martin Luther, who sought to free Christians from the tyranny of its priests.  We are saved by our faith alone.  Sola fide.  In James we learn that we must demonstrate our faith through our works, because a faith that does not drive the believer to good works is a dead faith. (James 2).  But it is not the works that saves us.  And the works James talks about are not some holier-than-thou morality, but rather works of love towards our neighbours.

Let me be clear, that I am not in any way advocating for the abuse of either alcohol or tobacco.  Regarding getting drunk, the scriptures are very clear: It is an act of the sinful nature (Galatians 5:21, among many other citations), and must not occur.  
There is no effort to teach self-control. We take an all-or-nothing approach to life, and that is not what God has called us to. One of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control (Galatians 5:23).  

I find it interesting that many church leaders and lay-people rant on about the evils of alcohol or tobacco, yet find no issue with copious consumption of junk food.
Junk food is a different issue. I crave it. It has had a hold over me. I would wager that I am not alone in this.  The rapidly expanding waste-lines in filling the emptying pews in Western churches indicates to me that that this is an issue that needs dealing with.  

Personally, this is an issue of sin, because I surrender my better judgement about what I know is healthy to junk food.  Thankfully, where I now live, restaurants such as McDonald's are few and far between, fresh fruit and veggies are plentiful and cheap, so eating healthier is much easier.  This does not mean that I don't enjoy an hamburger and fries every couple of months, but rather that it is no longer a "necessary" part of my diet.
Gluttony is rightly numbered among the 7 deadly sins.  It will kill certainly kill people, it will certainly lower quality of life.  Occasional and responsible consumption of Alcohol and Tobacco is not nearly the same evil, if it is an evil at all.

More on Self Control
I believe (and have seen this proven in my own life) that our testimony as Christians is strengthened when we exercise self-control. We demonstrate that we are indeed free from slavery to sin, as well as free from slavery to law. Christ has set us free. And yet, sadly, so many Christians seek to impose unnecessary and un-Biblical rules on themselves and others. This Pharisaical approach to Christianity is no better than it was to Judaism, and it is no more glorifying to God.
I find this tendency to legalism and prohibition strongest among Pentecostal denominations, which I find ironic, given their claim to the work of the Spirit. The Word teaches us that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  This either means that the Spirit of the Lord is not in the prohibitive Pentecostal church, or He is being ignored by the law-giving pastors and overseers.

Brothers and sisters, it is time to quit calling things that are not sins, sins, and correctly call that which is a sin, sin. Just as in the days of the Pharisees, excessive and un-Godly laws and rules distracted from Him, today too, they distract from His love and grace.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Persecuted Christians and the Great Co-Mission

I grew up in a missionary church.  Indeed that was part of the denominations name.  I was raised in the Christian and Missionary Alliance, and have many very early memories of reports and celebrations and prayers regarding the congregations many missionaries.  I fondly remember on particular missionary and his animated reports about his missions in the Cote D'ivoire (Ivory Coast), and how the Holy Spirit was using the Word of God to change lives.

When I attended a Baptist Bible College and Seminary, I don't remember missions being such a strong focus, except in Camaroon.  It seemed to me in those years that the North American Baptists had forgotten about the rest of the world.  I know and knew this not to be true, but is was rare to hear about another country.

Part way through my degree, I left the Alliance Church, disillusioned with denominationalism and denominationalist legalism and jingoism (please share you experience with me regarding denomationalism, I would love to hear from you; leave me a comment), and began attending a small Christian Brethren assembly.  This congregation despite its small size (60 or so people in the pews on a Sunday), is also a missionary church, and has sent missionaries to France, China, Chad, India, and other parts of the world.  It also has a vibrant mission in Edmonton, reaching out to new immigrants to Canada with friendship, practical language support, and the love of Jesus.

I now am attending an Assemblies of God congregation in Coatepec, Veracruz, Mexico.  This is a vibrant church, with an average of 700 attendies across its three services.  It is also a Missionary church, sending missionaries into the remote indigenous communities throughout Mexico and Latin America.  Its senior pastor regular tours Latin America, offering training and support to pastors in Peru, Bolivia, Guatemala, Cuba, etc.

Last Sunday, we heard from a Missionary to India.
This was a bit of surprise to me.  In my Euro-centric vision of missions, I never really gave much thought to the idea that developing countries would be sending missionaries over seas too.  I had always invisioned missionaries in India (and other non-white populations) as being of European descent, and carrying with them European/North American curltural norms along with the Gospel.

[When I was attending the aforementioned Baptist College, a Ghanaian friend told me that Africans would be soon sending Missionaries to North America.  This is happening now.  Before moving to Mexico, I had the opportunity to worship with an African congregation that sought to win souls in Edmonton, AB, Canada.]

This young missionary told us of her experiences in India.  It was a fascinating testimony and report.

And then she told us why she was not in the missions field.  Apparently there are not enough funds to support the missionary work that she and her husband do.  And not just them.  Apparently, of the 60 or so missionaries that the Mexican Assemblies of God congregations have sent overseas, only 5 are in the field.  The rest are at home due to lack of funds.

Then she talked about persecution, of Christians in India, and throughout Asia.  And then she began to pray.  She opened the altar up, and asked people to come forward if they were willing to commit to supporting their missionaries . . . in prayer!  PRAYER!

And that is the point of this blog today.  PRAY!  

PRAY FOR YOUR MISSIONARIES!  The harvest is white, and these brave souls have heeded God's call to help in the reaping. Pray for them.

PRAY FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH!  Around the world Christians are dying for their faith.  Indeed, right now a young Irainian pastor is sentenced to death for refusing to renounce Christianity.

GIVE!  Missionaries have financial needs too.  They need to eat, they need clothes, they need training.  If you gave a dollar a day to missions (1/4 the price of your daily Starbucks), fewer missionaries would be reporting that they are not in the field because they cannot afford it.  Your congregation probably does not need to replace its pews, or buy that rack of stage lights, or redecorate the church office.  Stand up for your missionaries, and advocate for them and the lost souls they are reaching out to.  redirect that money where it needs to go.  When we are in eternity, it won't matter how new are buildings looked.  WHat will matter is what we did to help in the harvest of souls.

Here are a couple tunes about missions; take the time to listen to them.

Here is a link to a blog about thet role of the Holy Spirit in Missions.  Thanks, DrDave!

God Bless you, reader.  Take time to pray for your missionaries and the persecuted church before you navigate away from this page.  Thank you.

I value your feedback.  Let me know what you think.  Please leave a comment.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

First fruits and Offerings: a correction and rebuttal

Few things annoy me than poor exegesis and sloppy hermeneutics.  As a firm believer in the NT conceot of the priesthood of all believers, It bothers me when preachers open up the Bible, and through a mix of proof-texting and semantic manipulation, make the Scriptures say something that they were not intended to say.

This happened last week at the church my family and I attend here in Coatepec, Veracruz.  Usually, the Sunday morning preaching is quite good.   Last week, however, there was a guest preacher from Tamaulipas.  This preacher crossed many lines in sermon, mixing in mis-interpretation and mis-application with many good points, making it a difficult sermon to challenge or question.  He would make a solid assertation on Christian life, and then follow it with an erroneous one.

Indeed, the overall message of his sermon was one worth preaching.  He preached on the importance of the "Offering" in the Christian's spiritual walk.  Sadly, he fixated soley on the financial aspect of offerings, wholly misinterpreted scripture, and at his altar call, ahd successfully manipulated a great number of people into making a promise that I honestly doubt most of them will keep.

He began in Genesis, with Cain and Abel, and his explanation on this was solid.  Pointing out that it was not what Cain offered (ground provisions) but the quality of his offering.  Abel offered his first fruits and the best of each.  Scripture seems to indicate in the passage that Cain simply offered whatever he had handy, not necessarily his first and best.  And that was the problem.

From there, this preacher jumped to Ezekiel 44:30.  How he got there, I am not sure, but this is where he began to derail.

And from there it just tended to get worse.

He read Ezekiel 44:30 to the congregation and then told us that "the priests in this church are the pastors."


He just equated the contemporary office of Pastor with the role and office of the Levitical priests.

Shame on him!

Hebrews 8 explains that the Levitical priesthood is absolete, as it was part of the old covenant.  Verse 6 points out that the ministry of Jesus is superior to that of the priests (such as those mentioned in Ezekiel 44:30), and verse 13 says that the priesthood is obsolete because of the work of Jesus.

Therefore the pastors are most certainly not the same as priests.  There are no more priests with a valid warrant since the Cross.  Jesus Christ was the final in that line (Hebrews 7).

From here the preacher made two valid assertations: 1. That offerings are for the work of God, and 2. that Offerings should be the best we have to give.  I wholly agree.

From Ezekiel 44:30, he moved on to Romans 11:16, which he cited completely out of context.  He used this verse to say that if a person gives their first fruits (first paycheck, first commissions, first crop, etc), then this act sanctifies the year to come, and all earnings thereof, and these will be multiplied.  While that is what 11:16 says when standing alone, it is NOT what it talks about in its greater context.  Paul is talking about taking the Gospel to the Gentiles.  This verse is not intended to imply that giving one's first fruits guarantees a sanctified year, and increased prosperity.  What does make an offering holy is the intent with which it is given, and the attitude of the giver (see the story of Cain and Abel).  Never does an offering guarantee future wealth or prosperity.

From Romans 11 he moved onto Luke 21, where Jesus offers a commentary on the quality of the offerings given.  Here he gave a very poor explanation of the offering box, and describes Jesus and the 12 as standing right near the box, watching everyone put in their offerings.  I do not see in the text where it says that this is what Jesus was doing.  In fact, the text seems to imply something quite different, where Jesus, from a distance observes the act of offering.  Then he discussed the rich young man whom Jesus tells to sell everything, accurately pointing out how people tend to put their possession sahead of the work of God.

From here he returned to his assertation that offerings equate to greater blessings to follow.  However, the only sort of offering he discussed was financial.  The root of evil is the love of money, but the root of blessing is not offering.  This assertation does not exist in scripture.  Then he said that if the congregants want their 2012 to be blessed, they should give their first fruits.  Prosperity Gospel Alert!   

Offerings are born in the heart.  If one gives his/her first fruits to recieve blessings, then blessings will not be received.  If one gives to glorify God, then God will bless accordingly (but not necessarily proportionately).

Here he accurately asserted that the only guaranteed investment is the Kingdom of God.

Then he did an altar call, calling forward all those in the congregation who were willing to commit to give their first fruits to the congregation.  Many went forward, but many stayed in their seata.  When he saw that a great many stayed in their seats, he pushed, encouraging people to come forward, and said "look how generous these people are", as though to say, "don't you want to be generous like them" or "don't be cheap, come forward and commit."

I truly pray that each of the people who went forward honours their commitment, lest they great a commitment they made to God.

Then, before praying, he said that the firstfruit offering "Sanctifies" the people who make it, and their year too.?!?!?!  Judaizer Alert!  

We as Christians are not sanctified by anything we do, give, or sacrifice, but wholly by the blood of Jesus Christ.  Gal 2:21.  We are not Jews, and our sanctification does not depend on a sacrificial system.

When we can get our schedules to align, I intend to take the church's pastor for coffee.  I hope that the opportunity presents itself to express my concerns over this sermon delivered by the guest speaker.   Please pray with me that if it does, that the pastor's heart and mind be open to what the Bible has to say, and guide him to make some sort of correction from the pulpit.

To close, here is a beautiful song of worship that expressess accurately the sentiment of offering from the believer: 

God bless!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Lord of the Starfields

For many years, I have played on worship bands and led congregational music in the churches I have attended.  Currently, I am uninvolved in this ministry, as my family and I have recently moved to Mexico, and I have yet to be invited to join our new congregation's music ministry except on a one-off basis.  I would be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed and feeling somewhat impatient about this.  I have had to remind myself repeatedly that it is not in my time but in God's.  In the meantime I am reflecting heavily on my practice as a Christian musician and the role that I play in the congregation's communion with God.  Overtime some of these thoughts might make their way onto this blog, and I covet your feedback.  I have been encouraged to gather them in one spot, either to create an article or hand-book on church music, drawing on my experience in multiple denominations, cultures, and roles.

Doubtless you have heard this week about the enormous solar flares that lit up the northern hemisphere with amazing displays of Northen Lights.  Had I been in Edmonton, I would have driven out to the country with my family and my camera to enjoy this phenomenom, and spend some time marveling at the wonder of Creation and God's handi-work.  However, I am in Mexico, and the Auroras were not visible here. : (

Nonetheless, I have had time to ponder this and remember a great song by Canadian singer-songwriter, Bruce Cockburn.  I introduced this song to a congregation a few years ago, and took some flack from a few congregants, some who objected to the quazi-secular source (although Cockburn is a professing Christian, albeit very Liberal in his views), while a few others thought it sounded panthiest.  Most however, quite liked the song, and our worship band included it in our repetoire a some times since.  After having written it, Cockburn said in an interview that "I wanted to write something like a psalm".  Here is the song.  Take some time to ponder it, and the amazing greatness of God the Creator, the Ancient of Days, and the "Lord of the Starfields".

FYI, this is part of the "Cool Licks" portion of the Blog, as mentioned in the title.  Cheers!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Coatepec, the falls, The Fall

I live in a small city in Mexico called Coatepec, in the state of Veracruz.  Coatepec is a very picturesque location, with a near-perfect climate (at least for someone like me, who originally hails from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Coatepec is one of those parts of Mexico that makes me wonder why there aren't more expatriot Canadians and Americans here.  It has very little violence, a comfortable climate (as mentioned), cheap real estate, beautiful scenery, awesome coffee, great food, and is a short drive one one of the most culturally important cities in the country, Xalapa.

It has many beautiful towns around it, too.  The closest is Xico, renowned for its bread, Toritos, colonial architecture, and the Cascadas de Texolo.  Here are a couple pictures I took on my last visit to the cascadas.

As a Christian, places such as the Cascadas are a firm reminder of the awesome creativity of the Creator.  I often wonder how beautiful the world must have been when it was new.  It must have hurt God terribly to impose the consequence of sin on the world, and on humanity too.  His awesome creative work, marred, and ruined because of one simple, seemingly insignificant act of disobedience.  But I guess that is that point, that no disobedience is insignificant, and no sin small.   Each sin helped drive the nails through Jesus' hands.  Thank God it does not end on the cross.

One of the greatest hymns written in the past centuries, and still sug around the world, in many different languages is "How Great Thou Art" (click the link for some of the song's history).  Its lyrics in English say:

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

God bless you, dear readers, and I hope your travels bring you to Coatepec and the surrounding area.


What will you find here?  You will find thoughts on life and death, thoughts about God and humanity's relationship with the Divine, you will find links to other bloggers and websites that pique my interest, and hopefully yours too.  And finally, you will from time to time find me waxing on about music, because there is probably nothing else in my life that I dig so consistently and fervently as good music.

Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to read this.  To get you started, here is a link to a news story that I read today, that as a foreigner living in Mexico, really troubled me.  It is in Spanish (sorry if you don't read Spanish), from one of the nation's leading newspapers: