Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Things I Don't Understand, part five

Churches that cancel services when Christmas is on Sunday.

Tebow haters.

Preachers who seem to spend more time talking about themselves in their sermons than they do sharing the good news about Jesus.

 Why the GOP can’t seem to produce a stellar presidential candidate. Newt Gingrich is leading the polls, really?

Foursquare (news flash: nobody cares).

People who vote no on a church budget, with no explanation of why they did so (um, we’re not mind-readers folks).

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Things I Don't Understand, part four

Obnoxious “Merry Christmas” Christians (see previous post).

Bob Dylan’s popularity.

Why those who insist that Acts 20:7a is binding precedent, but 20:7b is not.
News segments designed to inform people how to prepare for winter (e.g. “have a shovel handy” or “wear gloves when it’s cold outside.”).

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Yearly Rant

Ugh, here we go again. I received the following in my inbox this morning:

Sign your pledge to boycott Walgreens this Christmas season.

November 21, 2011

Dear Friend,
Yesterday, Walgreens placed a 24-page circular in newspapers all across America. It had all the festive markings of that day known as...Holiday? It's true! At Walgreens, they advertise "Holiday Candy," "Holiday Gift Tags," "Holiday Gift Wrap," "Holiday Decor," "Holiday Accessories," "Holiday Nuts and Snacks" and "Holiday Hats and Stockings." But no Christmas! In total, Walgreens used the term "holiday" 36 times, rather than using "Christmas."

Oh, the trees advertised in their circular? It's just "Prelit" trees. Go to Walgreens' website and you can shop their "Holiday Shop" and take advantage of their "Holiday Shipping." If you want Christmas, it's not there.  At Walgreens, Christmas doesn't exist! Walgreens wants you to do your "Christmas" shopping with them, while refusing to recognize that Christmas even exists.

Walgreens doesn't want to offend non-Christians by using the word Christmas. The fact that they're censoring the use of Christmas and might offend Christians by doing so seems to be of no importance.

TAKE ACTION, blah blah blah.....

Seriously, "Christians" are still pulling this crap? See previous rants here and here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Invest in Young People

I read something today that was a much-needed reminder:

What causes some young people to walk away from the faith after they graduate from high school? And, more important, what causes other young people to hang on to their faith during those post-high-school years?

A few years ago, I heard a Christian sociologist offer his assessment: "The most important factor is not whether the young person "accepted Christ' or was involved in a youth group or even went on a missions trip. The key factor seems to be how many meaningful relationships the young person has with Christian adults who are not his or her parents."

Saturday, November 05, 2011


The staff and some elders from Cedar Creek just returned from the ReChurch Conference hosted by Indian Creek Christian Church in Indy. This was our second year attending. It was great last year, and this year it again exceeded my high expectations. The theme was  Surrender: A Surrendered Church. A Surrendered Team. A Surrendered Life. The worship was powerful and the messages were convicting. The Holy Spirit moved the hearts of our team members, especially mine. ReChurch came at just the right time. God has a way of doing that.

These past two days have served as a catalyst to motivate us to clarify our vision and redefine our roles. We have a lot of work to do. But I’m excited and looking forward to seeing how the Lord leads us.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Things I Don't Understand, part three

The Occupy Wall Street protesters.

Anti-Halloween messages on church signs.

Dancing with the Stars.


Saturday, October 08, 2011

Revival in Virginia

I spent this past week in Roanoke, Virginia preaching in a Revival Meeting with the Edgewood Christian Church. It was a wonderful week. I got to meet some terrific brothers and sisters in Christ. And it is always a privilege to preach God’s Word. But the best part of the week was that I got to spend it with my son Luke. His school allowed him to take a few days off so he could accompany me. The father/son time that we had together was really great.

One of the church elders hooked us up with tickets to a big-time college football game on Saturday night. Virginia Tech hosted Clemson. The Hokies didn’t play well (and Clemson is now ranked number 8 in the country), but it was a really cool experience. Luke is now a VT fan.

The Roanoke area is a beautiful part of the country. The leaves on the trees were just starting to turn. Things were gorgeous. We spent an afternoon with another one of the church elders and his wife. They took us out for a boat ride on Smith Mountain Lake. It was a lot of fun.

We also enjoyed spending time with the staff from Edgewood. They are genuine servants of the Lord. It’s good to be back home now, but we truly enjoyed our week in the Old Dominion.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Things I Don't Understand, part two

The random dual bathtubs (usually outdoors) in the Cialis ads.


9-11 Conspiracy Theories.

Why we need a remake of Footloose.

Preachers who feel compelled to use questionable language from the pulpit (yes, there are still quite a few people who find freakin’, flippin’ and frickin’ offensive and inappropriate).
See my rant here.

People who forget to silence their cell phones in church, theatres, meetings, etc. And then when the ringtone blasts, they act like they’ve never used it before and can’t seem to figure out how to turn it off.

Televised poker tournaments.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Things I Don't Understand, part one

I have been a fan of my friend Jen Taylor’s lists of “ThingsI Don’t Understand.” She has inspired me to start a list of my own. I don’t understand why these things are a big deal, or in some cases, why they exist at all.
  • Angry Birds.
  • Fantasy football.
  • KJV-onlyism.
  • Girls who wear spaghetti strap shirts with a bra strap that is three times as wide.
  • Worship leaders who shout “here we go” when we are halfway through the song.
  • Reality shows like Hoarders, My Strange Addiction, and Jersey Shore.
  • Why MSNBC put Al Sharpton on the air.
  • Christians picketing or boycotting things they don’t like (has this strategy ever worked?)
More to come, but what would you add to the list?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

25 Years!

Tracy and I are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. It's hard to believe how quickly the years have passed. 25 years of family and ministry and friends -- the Lord has blessed us more than we could have ever imagined. And we are just as much in love as the day we were married, even moreso! We are celebrating at one of our favorite places, Macinac Island, Michigan.

Monday, August 01, 2011

The Northmen

Getting ready to head to The Northmen in Kalkaska, Michigan. This will be the 50th and final year of this annual event for men  & boys in Northern Michigan. It is very primitive. We camp out in the middle of the woods (the nearest town is 12 miles away). No electricity or indoor plumbing (bathing is done in the creek). Even though I grew up in Michigan, I had never heard of The Northmen until I was an adult. I've had the privilege of preaching there three times. Since moving to Indiana, we have attended nearly every year. It has become a family tradition. We will miss it, so we are really going to cherish this final time.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dave Parker

Former MLB player Dave Parker recently visited Fort Wayne. Seeing an article about him in the local paper reminded of what I think is one of the greatest plays I have ever seen (from the 1979 All-Star Game). Watch it here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Great Trip!

The trip to Guatemala went very well. The Lord is good! Much was accomplised for His sake. Click here for pics of what we did. Thanks so much for your prayers!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Impact Guatemala

It's almost midnight on Sunday and are a couple of hours away from getting on a bus to take us to the Indy Airport. We will be in Guatemala by lunchtime on Monday. Thirty-seven people from Cedar Creek will be joining several others (163 total) for Impact Guatemala. Luke will be working with other teens doing Vacation Bible School events around the city. I will be working on the construction team laying block for a cafeteria building. There should be updates during the week at the Disciple Makers website. We are looking forward to seeing God do some great things this week. Thanks so much for your support, encouragement and prayers.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

North American Christian Convention

Tracy and I just returned from the North American Christian Convention in Cincinnati. It is an annual gathering of folks from Christian Churches and Churches of Christ. There is great worship and preaching and teaching; informative workshops and fantastic fellowship. This year was no exception. We enjoyed it very much.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sunday Preview

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?  As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.  But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” Luke 6:46-49

Religious Light Bulb Humor

Not sure who wrote these (I did not write any of these) but they're pretty good! Enjoy!

How many Calvinists does it take to change a light bulb?
None. God has predestined when the lights will be on..let Him turn it on if He wants.

How many Church of Christ folks?
CHANGE?? But we have NEVER done it that way before!

How many Neo-evangelicals?
No one knows. They cannot tell the difference between light and darkness.

How many Pentecostals?
Ten. One to change the bulb and nine to pray against the spirit of darkness...

How many TV evangelists?
One. But for the message of light to continue, send in your donation...

How many Fundamentalists?
It better be a 1611 bulb!

How many Episcopalians?
None, they assume darkness is the nature of the bulb and it would be harmful and disrespectful to violate personality of the bulb.

How many Baptists?
Two, one to change the bulb, the other to preach on tithing in order to pay for the new bulb.

How many Premillennialists?
While knowing where the lightbulbs are, they are persuaded to wait for the official lightbulb changer but no one knows when he will arrive.

How many Arminians?
Since the bulb has free will - it must make the decision.

How many Amillennialists?
Two, one to change the bulb, the other to remind others not to fear the old darkness or trust the new light--both are only symbolic.

How many Emergents?
It doesn't matter as long as we love each other.

How many seeker sensitives?
First we must find out what kind of bulbs the community wants then we will proceed.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Restoration Movement Influences in My Life

Recently I was asked to write about some of the people who have had influence in my life regarding the Restoration Movement and my enthusiasm about its principles. The first name that came to mind was Dr. Lloyd Knowles, one of my professors at Great Lakes Christian College. I had attended the Church of Christ since I was eight years old, but it wasn’t until I went to Bible College that I heard the term “Restoration Movement.” I remember reading The Stone-Campbell Movement by Leroy Garrett and Christians Only by J.D. Murch and feeling a kindred spirit with the early leaders of the Movement. I was thrilled by the stories of men with varied denominational backgrounds deciding to drop the names and creeds that divide, taking the Bible alone as their rule of faith and practice, simply calling themselves Christians. Dr. Knowles was the person who kindled my lifelong study of the people, principles, and history of the Restoration Movement.

Another influential person is my father-in-law Ray Merritt. He had a worldly background and was converted to Christ as an adult. He was schooled in Restoration principles in his formative days as a new believer. Later, he decided to answer the call to the full-time preaching ministry. I liken our relationship to that of the apostle Paul and his young protégé Timothy. Ray has been a constant encouragement to me in my faith and ministry. He has also introduced me to others who have shaped my thinking in profound ways.

Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” That verse reminds me of my friend David Willis from Newport News, Virginia. When we were rookie preachers, we spent countless hours together talking about preaching, the Bible, and how to communicate the principles of the Restoration Movement in our modern day. David was/is a fellow traveler on this journey.

Ray Bennett and George Faull were mentors and teachers in the early days of my ministry. I met them both at the Hillsboro Family Camp in Hillsboro, Ohio. Ray’s passion for preaching and zeal for the tenets of New Testament Christianity resonated with me. Listening to him thunder away about “one Lord, one faith, and one baptism” ignited a fire within me to follow in the footsteps of our Restoration Movement forefathers and direct my listeners back to the Bible. George modeled an open heart and mind, as well as a desire to get it right when interpreting the Scriptures. To this day, these brothers encourage me as a preacher of the gospel.
Several writers have shaped my understanding of theology and our Movement.

Authors like Dr. Jack Cottrell, Don DeWelt, Carl Ketcherside, Marshall Leggett and Victor Knowles have challenged and inspired me. The writings of the early pioneers like Thomas and Alexander Campbell and Walter Scott still have relevance today. Their plea for union among Christians based on the truth of the Scriptures is timeless.

The point is this; the mentors and people of influence in your life will be different than mine, of course. But choose them wisely, because other than the impact of the Bible and the Holy Spirit, the direction of your life will be largely determined by the books you read and the people with whom you associate.

Ain't No Grave

Friday, June 03, 2011

New Sermon Series Begins Sunday

Jesus was a masterful teacher. When crowds gathered around him, one of his favorite techniques was to ask them questions. These questions are as relevant in our day as they were when they were first posed. Our summer sermon series, Questions Jesus Asked, will take a fresh look at some of our Lord’s most penetrating and timeless questions.
June 5 Who do people say that I am?
June 12 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to life?
June 19 What can a man give in exchange for his soul?
June 26 Why do you call me Lord, Lord?
July 3 Whose portrait and inscription are on it?
July 17 Do you love Me?
July 24 How do you read it?
July 31 Which of these three was a neighbor?
August 7 Why do you nullify the command of God?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Wonderful Week

This week I had the privilege of participating in a Time of Refreshing retreat sponsored by Bob Russell ministries. It was fantastic. Six other ministers and I spend three days learning from Bob Russell, staff and elders from Southeast Christian Church, and Jack Hillerich, President of Louisville Slugger (photo is of the group with Mr. Hillerich). We stayed at the Country Lake Camp, and we also toured Southeast and Louisville Slugger. The retreat really lived up to its name. I was refreshed and encouraged. And I got to meet six new preacher friends.

I also celebrated the 24th anniversary of my ordination to ministry. I am so blessed to get to do what I do. I still love it!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ed Bousman

I first heard Ed Bousman preach at the Hillsboro Family Camp in 1987. I had never heard of him before, but he really impressed me. He was the first person I had even known who had memorized the entire New Testament. Over the years, I had the privilege of hearing him many times.

Ed was from Newport News, VA. He was a Timothy of the 24th Street Church of Christ (later named Northside Christian Church). That church gave birth to the Northampton Church of Christ (a church I served for a number of years). Ed used to tell me that he considered Northampton his home church too. I remember one Sunday morning when I looked out and saw him seated in the congregation. I was very nervous, but he was encouraging afterwards (as he was many times through the years).

This morning, Ed went to be with the Lord. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8

Friday, April 22, 2011

New Sermon Series Begins Sunday

The Bible says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have, yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). Challenges from sincere seekers and challenges from unbelievers confront us everywhere. That’s why Cedar Creek is beginning a new series called Why I Believe. Whether you are a new believer or longtime Christian who wants to deepen your own grasp of the truths of God’s Word, this series can be a great resource to strengthen the foundations of your faith.

April 24 Why I Believe in the Resurrection
May 1 Why I Believe in the Bible
May 8 Why I Believe in Creation
May 15 Why I Believe in Jesus
May 22 Why I Believe in Baptism
May 29 Why I Believe in Communion

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Restoration Movement – an Informal Analysis

Recently, I was asked to write an opinion piece, giving an informal analysis of the current state of the Restoration Movement. I gladly agreed to do so, and I want to share it with my blog readers.

When I use the term Restoration Movement, I am referring to the Independent Christian Churches and Churches of Christ (not the a capella Churches of Christ or the Disciples of Christ denomination).

Among the positive things I have seen in recent years is a renewed interest in church planting.. Researchers consistently document the fact that new churches are reaching non-Christians with the gospel more effectively than established congregations. Generally speaking, new church plants grow at a faster rate than traditional church models. Another positive sign is the emphasis on world missions. The National Missionary Convention has become one of the premier conventions among our people. Bible colleges are sending more students on short-term mission trips than ever before. There seems to be a genuine desire on the part of the younger generation to minister cross-culturally. I believe these are positive trends that honor the Lord as believers seek to fulfill His Great Commission.

I do, however, see some dangerous trends among us. One of those is a de-emphasis on biblical doctrine and a heavy reliance on pragmatic church growth principles. These need not be mutually exclusive, but our forefathers pointed people to the Bible, believing that the truth of God’s Word is what changed lives and caused the church to grow. They promoted unity, and they also pleaded for an adherence to truth (“union in truth” was the term they used). Historically, there has been a doctrinal distinctiveness about our movement. This came as a result of a genuine study of the Scriptures. Perhaps the most well-known distinctive is our understanding of the place of baptism (immersion) in God’s plan of redemption. Some have made a case that this particular doctrine was over-emphasized. They may be right, but I wonder if the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. Our churches do not seem to have the unity of belief and practice that they did a few decades ago. We seem to be on a path toward blending in with a generic brand of evangelicalism. Other issues like church polity, gender roles, and the authority of the Bible have also come under scrutiny in recent years.

We may be approaching another crossroads in our history. Will we continue to preach the Bible, believing that our forefathers’ “restoration plea” to call people back to the Bible, and wear the name “Christian” is still valid? Or will we morph into something other than what we have known in the past?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Gospel Coalition

This week Tracy and I attended The Gospel Coalition Conference in Chicago. There were a lot of things that were great about it. First, the fact that we were able to go together. I am privileged to attend things like this on a fairly regular basis, but it was really special attending as a couple. Second, the preaching was outstanding, and very challenging. Third, the worship was tremendous. Fourth, the resources were plentiful (there were lots of freebies as well as discounted books).

This conference, like its cousin Together for the Gospel is attended primarily by folks who adhere to Reformed theology. However, they do allow non-Calvinists (like us) to slip in. Honestly, I heard nothing preached that could not have been preached at Hillsboro Family Camp or the North American Christian Convention. The theme, Preaching Christ from the Old Testament was executed very well. If you download messages from the website, be sure to check out the messages by Tim Keller and Don Carson.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Six Keys to Poor Preaching

Great post by Darryl Dash. I wanted to share it:

Six Keys to Poor Preaching

I’m no expert in bad preaching, but I’ve done my share. I’ve observed that there are countless ways to preach well, but there are only a few key steps you need to master if you want to preach poorly. Anyone can do them.

1.Skip on exegesis – Preaching preparation is half exegesis and half homiletics. If you want to save time, skip the exegesis and spend all your time on the homiletical side. Your schedule will thank you. (Nobody else will.)

2.Forget the big idea – We’ve been taught that sermons should be bullets, not buckshots. It takes a lot of time and work to come up with the main burden of the text. If you want to preach poorly, then remember, clarity about the big idea of the text must be sacrificed.

3.Come up with your own purpose for the sermon – Sure, there is such a thing as authorial intent. And yes, in theory, our sermon’s purpose should match the text’s purpose as much as possible. But if you stick to the purpose of the text, you’re robbing yourself of the ability to come up with all kinds of clever messages that may not be strictly biblical – but do they ever preach! (They sell books too.)

4.Prepare at the last minute – We’ve all tasted food that’s simmered. And we’ve all tasted food that’s been microwaved at the last minute. If you want to preach poorly, then don’t allow yourself the luxury of simmering. All it takes is one or two good sermons for your people to lose their taste for microwaved sermons. We can’t let that happen.

5.Preach moralism – Spurgeon said, “Whenever I get hold of a text, I say to myself, ‘There is a road from here to Jesus Christ, and I mean to keep on His track till I get to Him.’” But really, have you seen some of these roads? If you want to preach poorly, it’s far easier just to tell people they should be better and let them figure it out.

6.Preach to everyone in general – Don’t preach to the people in front of you. Preach to some generic audience. That way your sermons will be just as bad in your next church too.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

National Preaching Summit

Every year the National Preaching Summit re-ignites my passion for communicating God's word. It is a two-day seminar for preachers who meet annually in Indianapolis, Indiana. The fellowship with other preachers is wonderful and the challenge and motivation from the speakers is what I look forward to each year. I'm so thankful that God allows me to proclaim His good news!

If you're a preacher, mark down next year's dates (March 12-13) and plan to attend.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

And With a Rebel Yell, He Cried McMore, McMore, McMore

How Long Should You Preach?

A blogger I read suggested that most preachers preach too long. I agreed. And posted the following comments:

“How long should you preach? It depends on how good you are” – John Maxwell. 

I once heard Bob Russell give a formula for preaching. He told a room full of preachers to rate themselves (in their minds) on a scale of 1 to 10. Then he said, “Whatever the number is, subtract two” (all of us overestimate our abilities). Then multiply that number by 5. That formula would suggest that even the very best (a “10”) should only preach 40 minutes (10-2x5=40). Of course there are exceptions to this rule. And some sermons do require more time. But very few preachers can hold the attention of a congregation for more than 30 minutes or so. And for those of us who preach every week, we get another shot next week. And those who say, “sermonettes are preached by preacherettes and produce Christianettes” usually are pummeling their people with their long-windedness.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Will the Last Baptist at Baylor Please Turn Out the Lights?

I found the following post by Al Mohler very interesting. Replace Baptist with Christian Churches/Churches of Christ and this may be the future of our brotherhood colleges. Click here for article.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

What's the Big Deal About Angry Birds?

A couple of months ago I got my first Smartphone. I am still learning about all the cool ways it can be used. Shortly after receiving it, I started downloading some apps. Many people told me I should get Angry Birds (a top-ranked game). After playing it a few times, I must admit that I just don’t understand the appeal. What am I missing?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My Cyber-Church Experience

On Sunday morning I was having some health problems, so I stayed home while a co-worker preached for me. I was able to experience a variety of television preachers. I was a channel surfing church-hopper. I listened to John Hagee for awhile. I think he really goes off the deep end with his eschatological views, but this week he was preaching from a series on the 10 Commandments. His old school style is fun to watch. I did catch a little of some local preachers. Also, I listened to Andy Stanley who was filling the pulpit for his Dad. He preached the same message that I had heard from Catalyst 2010.

I remembered that Craig Groeschel does an online service in addition to the multi-site ministry of I’ve always wondered about the logistics of it, so I decided to check it out. It really was a fascinating experience. There were pre-recorded into clips and some instructions about the offering. It was all very user-friendly, including a streaming chat/conversation window for online viewers. Somehow Groeschel is able to project warmth and a connectedness with the long-distance audiences. I don’t think I would want this to be my only church experience (after all, the church is supposed to be a community, and I'm confident that it needs to be more than a cyber-community), but it wasn’t nearly as weird as I has anticipated.

Somewhat related, I would love to hear stories about Restoration Movement churches leveraging technology to spread the gospel. On the rare occasion that I have seen a Church of Christ preacher on television, without fail he is one of the most boring speakers I have ever heard. Surely we can do better than that?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Double Vision

For the first time in 24 years of ministry, I couldn't answer the call to preach. I awakened at 5am and noticed that things seemed blurrier than usual.  I put my glasses on and turned on the light and realized I was seeing double. Really weird. After I realized it wasn't going away, I woke Tracy up and we tried to figure out what to do. The symptoms began to dissipate as the morning progressed.

I was examined this afternoon at Parkview First Care. The Doctor said that the episode may have been caused by high blood pressure. He has ordered blood work and an MRI this week (primarily to rule out some things).

Many thanks to my Cedar Creek Church family. It was very encouraging to know that my brothers and sisters were lifting me before the Lord this morning. Also, thanks to the great staff at Cedar Creek for taking care of things during the worship services, especially Greg Krafft who preached with just a couple of hours notice.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Advice for Worship Leaders

Recently I read an article about worship, "Seven Things I've Always Wanted to Say to Worship Leaders."  I don't agree with everything he said, but he think he made some really good points. What do you think?

1. Give us something to shout about! In most countries I visit, worship is an exhilarating workout. In poor countries where people struggle from hand to mouth each week, praise is so energetic that the congregation quickly moves into the aisles to dance. Yet here in the United States our worship is often stiff and way too sophisticated. What we lack in genuine zeal we substitute with technology, orchestration and hype. It’s a pitiful tradeoff.

Worship leaders must stoke the fires of spiritual passion. Don’t let the people’s hearts remain cold or stale. Exhort them to go higher. Say like the psalmist, “Praise the Lord! …Let the sons of Zion rejoice in their king. Let them praise His name with dancing. …Let the godly ones exult in glory. …Let the high praises of God be in their mouth” (Ps. 149:1-3,5,6) NASB.

2. Please give us content. Most of us packed away our hymnals 30 years ago and discovered the liberty of free-style choruses. Yet I get tired of singing the same phrase over and over—especially if that phrase has questionable theology. And we are cheating people if half of a song consists of lines like “Ooh, Ooh, Ooh!” or “Whoa, whoa, whoa!”

There’s a reason “Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross” is a classic. Its words inspire deep worship in a way that simpler songs can’t. The best solution is to mix up the playlist with both new and old songs—as well as old songs with new arrangements. If we only sing today’s trendy Top 40 we will forget where we came from.

3. Spare us the concert. True worship leaders lead rather than perform. We want you to play skillfully, but we don’t want the focus to be on you. Point us to Jesus!

Some worship leaders shift into extended periods of spontaneous worship. That’s great until you look around and realize that the congregation is sitting down while the worship leader has his eyes closed—oblivious to the fact that most people got lost 10 minutes ago. That’s not corporate worship. That’s a stage show.

4. Don’t run a song into the ground. Maybe this is just a pet peeve of mine: When a worship leader announces, “Let’s sing it one more time!” and then proceeds to sing a chorus again and again and again and again (and again and again), this is a form of lying. This happens especially with certain choruses that are like broken records—they never resolve.

If a song is so repetitive that it’s annoying, or if you can’t figure out when to stop it, just retire it. No one will ask why you don’t sing it anymore.

5. Please don’t burst my eardrums. I have a high tolerance for noise and I love rhythm. But I have been in churches where the music was so loud that my head rattled for the rest of the day. God can open deaf ears, but I don’t think we should manufacture the deafness. Have mercy on us. God doesn’t want us to drown out the sound of the people’s voices with bass guitars and subwoofers.

6. Show us the lyrics. Memo to the technical crew: We don’t have hymnals, and we don’t know the words by heart. Please don’t wait until we have sung the second verse of the song to put those words on the screen. (It would also be a good idea to have someone proofread the song lyrics. I was in a church where we were supposed to sing “Praise Him for His mighty acts,” but the Power Point slide said, “Praise Him for His mighty axe.”)

7. Honor the Word. There is nothing ruder than a worship leader who walks off the stage after the last chorus and then disappears to a side room to eat donuts. When the praise team vanishes from the church and never comes back, it sends a message to the congregation that these people don’t need to listen to the sermon. Not! Worship does not end with the last song; the last song sets the stage for the next act of worship.

I’m not a worship leader, and you wouldn’t want to hear me on a keyboard. But I believe we would honor God if we applied these principles to our praise.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

For Restoration Herald Readers

Welcome to my blog. You are here because of Tony Sullivan's gracious recommendation. You can easily access the post he referenced by clicking HERE.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

New Sermon Series Begins Tomorrow

DNA is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms. DNA is often compared to a set of blueprints, like a recipe or a code. The language used by DNA is called the genetic code, which lets organisms read the information in the genes. Similarly, every church has its own kind of DNA (vision, mission, and values). During the month of February, we will examine the DNA of Cedar Creek. What are we made of? And what are we made for? What has God called us to do in our community and in our world? We will study God’s Word and listen to the voice of our Lord Jesus as we strive to become all that He has called us to be.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Blizzard 2011

We survived the big storm. Got 7 or 8 inches of snow, with a lot of drifting. But the wind died down last night. It was quite beautiful this morning. I got to use my snowblower (a garage sale purchase) for the first time. It worked like a champ. We are enjoying a family day at home while the city digs out.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Snowpocalypse is coming, snowpocalypse is coming!

Looks like the Weatherman might be correct after all. We are under a Blizzard Warning until tomorrow night. We could get up to 18 inches of snow. Wow! This might be the most snow I have seen since I was a teenager. I remember the blizzards of '78 and '79 in Southwestern Michigan. Our road wasn't plowed for three days. But we had a great time being together as a family. I'm going to go home and light and fire in the fireplace. And watch the powerful handiwork of God.