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February 15, 2004

THIS DAY IN JESUSNAME WE MEET

This day in Jesus’ Name we meet,
Our Lord, Redeemer, King;
This day around Thy mercy seat
We all Thy praises sing;
Thou gavest us this day of rest,
Of holiness divine;
Lend comfort to each troubled breast,
And make us ever Thine.

Oppressed with earthly toil and pains
The weary week did close;
Yet God’s own day of peace remains
When spirits seek repose.
Let Sunday’s sweet refreshing dew
All with’ring cares dispel;
Let Sabbath joys our strength renew,
Help us Thy goodness tell.

Be with us, as Thy servant asks,
Thy mercies to prolong;
Grant that by prayer we know our tasks,
Let incense rise with song.
O may this be a day of light
To nations far and near;
Let all men see Thy visage bright,
Thy loving message hear.

Words: Frederick R. Daries, 1916

February 13, 2004

I love television. I love to be able to turn my mind off at the end of a hard day’s work and just lie back on the couch with nothing more to think about than who will be the next person voted off the island. I love following the lives of fictional characters whose lives seem so much more interesting (and funny) than my own. I love a good whodunit, trying to determine which of the good guys is actually a bad guy. I love football, hockey and baseball – some of the best forms of entertainment available.

I hate television. I hate how it makes me turn my mind off, causing me to stop thinking about the important and interesting things I have learned during the day. I hate telling my kids to shush because I don’t want to miss the punch line of a great episode of a sitcom. I hate following the lives of people who don’t exist whose lives are so immoral and godless. I hate seeing my son watching an almost-naked body on television or having him see a dead child on the screen. I hate watching hours of football, hockey and baseball – some of the most mindless entertainment available.

I love what I hate. I love to watch television, though I know most of it has no redeeming value whatsoever. I profess to know that what goes into a mind comes out in a life, yet don’t think I can be affected by filling my mind with garbage. I want my son to be raised with a respect for what is right and wrong, yet continually justify what is wrong because I don’t want to turn off my show. I know that a mind is a terrible thing to waste, yet love to turn mine off. I am a hypocrite.

Why does television have such a hold on me? Why do I not have the self-control to just turn it off? To just walk away? All I can determine is that turning off my mind is addictive. I like to be amused. The word “amuse” comes from Greek words meaning “not thinking” and that is exactly what I seem to enjoy. I enjoy not having anything deep or exciting to think about. I enjoy mindlessness. And perhaps even worse, if I did open my mind I would see all sorts of behavior that contradicts my beliefs.

That is a sobering thought. Where God tells me to fill my mind with purity and holiness, I prefer either to turn it off altogether or fill it with trash.

I have invested a lot of time and consideration into the places where Christian’s lives disconnect from their faith. Or said differently, where the walk disconnects from the talk. For me, I know this is one of those areas. I say one thing but consistently contradict what I say with what I actually do.

Now please don’t think that I am against television altogether and am advocating putting a hammer through your (or my) TV. And don’t think that I watch ridiculous amounts of TV. I just know that this is an area in my life that I am holding back, unwilling to let God change me. I am stubbornly refusing to give up this addiction, denying God the right to use that time for His purposes.

February 12, 2004

I have an article nearly written but it seems that real life continues to get in the way of blogging. I have about 10 Web projects underway at the moment, not to mention a family, friends and a church that all seem to want a bit of attention! I will post the article tomorrow and try to do some good writing on the weekend so I can actually put some worthwhile content on this site again! I have a friend who would like to write an occasional guest column, so that should be fun. I am thinking of starting an area for occassional guest writers, especially those without blogs of their own who have something they would like to say to the world (or the few hundred people in the world who choose to drop by here on a daily basis).

Mel Gibson recently said in an interview that he does not believe that there is salvation outside of the Roman Catholic Church. When pressed he had to admit that this even applies to his wife who is non-Catholic. This quote is suddenly appearing in articles all over the place. I wonder how the Protestant world will reach to this since he is definitely a hero to most Christians at the moment. I suspect most people will not care. It will be interesting to see if this is a topic that will come up in his interview on Primetime this Monday.

Jeremy Hoover sent me a link to this article. It is the beginning of a “Scholarly Smackdown” where “a liberal professor and a conservative professor debate the movie, the Bible, theology and more.” It is going to be an ongoing debate. The first session opens with interesting discussions regarding the appropriateness of showing sadistic acts of violence and possibly leading people to think that Jesus’ suffering was what saves us. This promises to be an interesting discussion!

February 11, 2004

Today the nominations were announced for the 35th annual Dove Awards. It seems that the Doves will maintain their reputation of nominating popular albums over good albums. The top nominees are Steven Curtis Chapman (as usual), Third Day (as usual), Cece Winans (as always) and Stacie Orrico. Let’s look at some of the categories:

Song of the Year:

  • “All About Love”; Steven Curtis Chapman; Sparrow Records, Peach Hill Songs (BMI)
  • Child of Mine”; Mark Schultz, Chris Eaton; Word Music, Here’s to Joe Music, West Lodge Music (ASCAP)
  • “Everything to Me”; Chad Cates, Sue Smith; New Spring Publishing (ASCAP)
  • “Great Light of the World”; Bebo Norman; New Spring Publishing, Appstreet Music (ASCAP)
  • “He Reigns”; Peter Furler, Steve Taylor; Ariose Music Group (ASCAP), Soylent Tunes (SESAC)
  • “If We Are The Body”; Mark Hall; Club Zoo Music, Swecs Music (BMI)
  • “Lord Have Mercy”; Steve Merkel; Integrity’s Hosanna! Music (ASCAP)
  • “Meant to Live”; Jonathan Foreman, Tim Foreman; Sugar Pete Songs, Meadowgreen Music (ASCAP)
  • “Three Wooden Crosses”; Doug Johnson, Kim Williams; Mike Curb Music, Sweet Radical Music, Sony/ATV Tunes (ASCAP), Sydney Erin Music (BMI)
  • “Word of God Speak”; Pete Kipley, Bart Millard; Songs from the Indigo Room (SESAC), Simpleville Music (ASCAP)

I cannot comment too much on this category since the music comes from a diverse group of genres while I mainly listen to pop and rock. I would like to see Switchfoot take the award, but have not heard all the songs so that is just based on the fact that I like them more than the other bands listed.

Group of the Year

  • Jars of Clay
  • MercyMe
  • Newsboys
  • Switchfoot
  • Third Day

No surprises in this category. Jars of Clay and Third Day receives a nomination every year and MercyMe and Switchfoot both had success in the mainstream market which assures them a nomination. The Newsboys pick up a nomination for their worship album. I would consider them a longshot with MercyMe being the favorite.

Modern Rock Recorded Song of the Year:

  • “Beautiful Day”; In The Name Of Love: Artists United For Africa; Sanctus Real; Paul Hewson, David Howell Evans, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen, Jr.; Sparrow Records
  • “Breaking Me Down”; So Much for Substitutes; downhere; Marc Martel, Jason Germain, Glen Lavender; Word Records
  • “Go”; Exodus; Andy Hunter; Tedd T., Andy Hunter; Sparrow Records
  • “I Am Understood”; Two Lefts Don’t Make a Right…But Three Do; Relient K; Matthew Thiessen; Gotee Records
  • “Savior”; Collide; Skillet; John Cooper; Ardent Records

    I have not heard Sanctus Real’s version of Beautiful Day, but can only hope it does not win. Frankly I am not very enthusiastic about any of these songs. “Savior” and “I Am Understood” are mediocre at best. Breaking Me Down would probably be my choice here.

Modern Rock Recorded Album of the Year

  • 2; Apt Core; Will Hunt; Rocketown Records
  • A Beautiful Glow; Rock ‘n’ Roll Worship Circus; Gabriel Wilson; INO
  • Beautiful Lumps of Coal; Plumb; Jay Joyce, Jimmy Collins, Tiffany Arbuckle Lee, ShaunShankel, Jeremy Lee, Bryan Stewart; Curb Records
  • Perfect Change; Dakona; Rob Cavallo, Arnold Lanni; Maverick Records
  • Two Lefts Don’t Make a Right…But Three Do; Relient K; Mark Lee Townsend; Matthew Thiessen; Gotee Records

I would definitely choose Perfect Change for this award. Dakona’s album is very good and deserves some wider recognition. I would love to see them take this award.

Rock Recorded Song of the Year

  • “All About You”; Inside Out; Nate Sallie; Nate Sallie, Chris Estes; Curb Records
  • “Ammunition”; The Beautiful Letdown; Switchfoot; Jonathan Foreman; Sparrow Records
  • “Dirty”; WorldWide; Audio Adrenaline; Mark Stuart, Will McGinniss, Bob Herdman, Tyler Burkum, Ben Cissell; ForeFront Records
  • “Free”; Beautiful Lumps of Coal; Plumb; Tiffany Arbuckle Lee, Matt Bronleewe; Curb Records
  • “Get This Party Started”; Momentum; tobyMac; Toby McKeehan, Pete Stewart, Michael Anthony Taylor; ForeFront Records

Though I really like Audio Adrenaline’s album I do not consider Dirty one of the better songs on the album. Get This Party Started is good, but my choice here is Ammunition.

Rock Recorded Album of the Year

  • Believe; Big Dismal; Jack Joseph Puig; Wind-up
  • Lose This Life; Tait; Mark Heimermann, Michael Tait, Matt Bronleewe, Chad Chapin; ForeFront Records
  • Phenomenon; Thousand Foot Krutch; Aaron Sprinkle, Steve Augustine, Joel Bruyere, Trevor McNevan, Latif Tayour; Tooth + Nail
  • Picking Up the Pieces; Seventh Day Slumber; Juan “Rhino” Alvarez; Jeremy Holderfield, Joseph Rojas, Joshua Schwartz, Crowne Music Group
  • Say It Loud; Sanctus Real; Pete Stewart; Sparrow Records

I do not understand the nomination for Tait’s album as it was a pretty sad effort. Say It Loud was solid but I would choose Phenomenon. It had a great sound, was well-produced and featured some interesting song writing.

Rock/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year

  • “Gone”; The Beautiful Letdown; Switchfoot; Jonathan Foreman, Tim Foreman; Sparrow Records
  • “Meant to Live”; The Beautiful Letdown; Switchfoot; Jonathan Foreman, Tim Foreman; Sparrow Records
  • “Sing a Song”; Offerings II - All I Have to Give; Third Day; Mac Powell, Tai Anderson, Brad Avery, David Carr, Mark Lee; Essential Records
  • “This Fragile Breath (The Thunder Song)”; Grace Like Rain; Todd Agnew; Todd Agnew; Ardent Records
  • “You Are So Good to Me”; Offerings II -All I Have to Give; Third Day; Don Chaffer, Ben Pasley, Robin Pasley; Essential Records

    There are some good songs nominated in this category, but if Gone does not take the award I will forever lose the little confidence I have in the Dove Awards.

Rock/Contemporary Album of the Year

  • Furthermore: From the Studio, From the Stage; Jars of Clay; Dan Haseltine, Charlie Lowell, Stephen Mason, Matt Odmark; Essential Records
  • Grace Like Rain; Todd Agnew; Jason Latshaw; Ardent Records
  • So Much for Substitutes; downhere; Jimmie Lee Sloas; Word Records
  • The Beautiful Letdown; Switchfoot; John Fields, Chad Butler, Jerome Fontamillas; Jonathan Foreman, Tim Foreman; Sparrow Records
  • WorldWide; Audio Adrenaline; Charlie Peacock, Jason Burkum; ForeFront Records

Audio Adrenaline won the Grammy for Worldwide and perhaps that makes them the favorite for this award. I hope, though, that the Dove voters have heard The Beautiful Letdown as it eclipses the rest of these albums. No contest here!

My biggest disappointment this year is that Derek Webb was overlooked. His album stands with The Beautiful Letdown as the best albums released in 2003. It’s a pity that the Dove Awards could not nominate it. I’m sure the snub was based on his harsh words towards the church and Christians in general.

The full list of nominees is posted here. The awards will be given out on the 28th of April.

February 10, 2004

Evanescence were big winners at the 2004 Grammy Awards, walking away with the awards for Best New Artist and Best Hard Rock Performance. Amy Lee accepted the awards on the band’s behalf since Ben Moody left the band last year.

Of greater interest to me was her time on the red carpet. She was nabbed by Joan Collins who asked her about being a Christian band. Amy responded, “We were never a Christian band, that was something the media made up.” So Evanescence has finally taken a public stand and admitted that they are not and never were a Christian album. Hopefully that controversy can just die away now. Then again, all of the band’s previous comments about not being a Christian band have gone unheeded by the Christian music world, so why should this make any difference?

February 08, 2004

The Grammy Awards are underway as I write this. I couldn’t really care less about the show since the only two categories I really care about were given out in the pre-telecast portion of the show.

The winner of the Rock Gospel Album was Audio Adrenaline for Worldwide. It just so happens I picked this album up last week and am actually quite impressed with it. Petra’s album was probably slightly better, but Worldwide was good too, so I think this was a fair award. Of course the best rock album of the year, Switchfoot’s The Beautiful Letdown was not even nominated, so it hardly matters who won.

The Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album went to Michael W. Smith for Worship Again. This is ridiculous as it contained only three or four original songs and all the best ones were written and previously recorded by other people. This is like giving out an award for an album where an artist only covers other people’s songs. Again, the best album from the last year was not even nominated (Derek Webb’s She Must And Shall Go Free).

So congrats to Audio Adrenaline for an award they possibly deserved based on the albums that got nominated and congrats to Smitty for picking up an award, even though you he did not deserve it!

February 08, 2004

Today marks the 100th consecutive day I have posted on this site. I think it also marks the longest I have ever maintained my interest in any one thing. Usually I get enthusiastic about something for a few days and then it tapers off. But this site is still the favorite part of my day. I love writing for it and I love posting on it every day.

Since today is Sunday and a day of rest, that is all I am going to post today. Kind of a rip-off, isn’t it?

February 07, 2004

It turns out our church, along with giving out about 2500 tickets to The Passion of the Christ, will be distributing copies of John Piper’s The Passion of Jesus Christ. I enjoy Piper’s writings and consider him a very trustworthy teacher, so I am thrilled that we will be giving these out. At just over $1 each (as per his special offer I linked to yesterday) it is a cost-effective way of getting some good teaching material into people’s hands that may help them “connect the dots” after seeing the movie.

I’m feeling a little burned out these days. The quantity and quality of my writing has taken a dive. The primary reason is that my kids have been sick (nothing major, just colds and flu) and have been keeping my wife and myself up at night. The more tired I get, the less I feel I can write. I have some things I intend to write next week that I am quite excited about.

The Internet is a public forum and it is always strange to see my writings posted elsewhere. In one case last week a fellow blogger took the time to critique one of my articles in great depth. I certainly have no problem with this and acknowledge that by posting on a site like mine I am opening myself up for criticism. Fortunately he was kind, and though he disagreed with some of my conclusions, he was not cruel about it!

In thirteen days the Toronto Bluejays will begin spring training. That is a sure sign that spring is on the way, though it may not feel like it right now. As a child I was completely enamoured with the Bluejays and always looked forward to the start of the baseball season. Though I do not follow the game as closely as I used to, I still enjoy watching the Jays trying to be a little bit more than mediocre. It’s tough being stuck in the same division as the Yankees who have a payroll three times larger than Toronto! I look forward to watching the young team mature. There is promise in this team and we may only be a year or two away from having another playoff-caliber team!

I am continuing to read J.A. Wylie’s History of Protestantism and am taking copious notes which makes the reading a slow affair. I am also reading Brian Chappel’s Holiness By Grace which I am enjoying a lot. I recently finished reading Church, Why Bother? by Phillip Yancey and will probably post a review of it soon. It’s a tiny book and I have to see if I can find enough to write about it to make a full review!

February 02, 2004

Two years ago I won an auction on eBay for J.A. Wylie’s History of Protestantism. This huge three volume history of Protestantism was written in the late 1800’s and was published until 1920’s. It was republished for a short while in the 1980’s but it was a small print run and is no longer available. I was fortunate, then, to purchase the series in an edition printed in the late 1800’s that was reasonably priced (though still more expensive than the books I am accustomed to purchasing) and in great shape. This series is widely acknowledged to be one of the best resources for understanding the history of Protestantism.

In the past two years I have read pieces of the books, but am now intending to read through the series. I expect this endeavor to take at least a couple of months as each of the books weighs in at over 600 (big) pages. There are wonderful illustrations throughout the volumes. Wylie wrote in typical Victorian fashion. Read these excerpts to get an idea of what I mean.

The History of Protestantism, which we propose to write, is no mere history of dogmas. The teachings of Christ are the seeds; the modern Christendom, with its new life, is the goodly tree which has sprung from them. We shall speak of the seed and then of the tree, so small at its beginning, but destined one day to cover the earth.

Viewed thus – and any narrower view would be untrue alike to philosophy and to fact – the History of Protestantism is the record of one of the grandest dramas of all time. It is true, no doubt, that Protestantism, strictly viewed, is simply a principle. It is not a policy. It is not an empire, having its fleets and armies, its officers and tribunals, wherewith to extend its dominion and make its authority be obeyed. It is not even a Church with its hierarchies, and synods and edicts; it is simply a principle. But it is the greatest of all principles. It is a creative power. Its plastic influence is all-embracing. It penetrates into the heart and renews the individual. It goes down to the depths and, by its omnipotent but noiseless energy, vivifies and regenerates society. It thus becomes the creator of all that is true, and lovely, and great; the founder of free kingdoms, and the mother of pure churches. The globe itself it claims as a stage not too wide for the manifestation of its beneficent action; and the whole domain of terrestrial affairs it deems a sphere not too vast to fill with its spirit, and rule by its law.

I intend to report in on my progress every now and then. I am going to proceed slowly and deliberately, making notes and ensuring I truly understand the events as they unfold. The last thing I want is to read this series and later realize I absorbed almost nothing!

February 01, 2004

This Sunday let’s look at what the Westminister Shorter Catechism teaches about honoring the fourth commandment. This is a very traditional view of how the Sabbath day is to be honored - a view that, for better or worse (probably worse), is rarely recognized in Christian circles today.

Q. 57. Which is the fourth commandment?

A. The fourth commandment is, Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservent, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Q. 58. What is required in the fourth commandment?

A. The fourth commandment requireth the keeping holy to God such set times as he hath appointed in his Word; expressly one whole day in seven, to be a holy sabbath to himself.

Q. 59. Which day of the seven hath God appointed to be the weekly sabbath?

A. From the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, God appointed the seventh day of the week to be the weekly sabbath; and the first day of the week ever since, to continue to the end of the world, which is the Christian sabbath.

Q. 60. How is the sabbath to be sanctified?

A. The sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.

Q. 61. What is forbidden in the fourth commandment?

A. The fourth commandment forbiddeth the omission, or careless performance, of the duties required, and the profaning the day by idleness, or doing that which is in itself sinful, or by unnecessary thoughts, words, or works, about our worldly employments or recreations.

Q. 62. What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment?

A. The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment are, God’s allowing us six days of the week for our own employments, his challenging a special propriety in the seventh, his own example, and his blessing the sabbath day.

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