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December 18, 2003

Before you get all crazy, please realize that this article is satirical.

Rick Warren’s Book Becomes More than Recommended Reading for Local Congregation

MEMPHIS, TN – Many Christians have heard sentences like these lately: “Oh, you really should read The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren,” and “Wow, I can’t believe you haven’t read The Purpose Driven Life yet.” But only one group of believers has been confronted with this imperative: “Read The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren or forgo your church membership.” That group is the membership at Memphis Community Church.

In a groundbreaking move, the elder board at MCC – a nondenominational “mega-church” – passed a resolution to revoke the membership of any church member who does not, by the end of 2003, read The Purpose Driven Life, the New York Times bestselling book by Rick Warren, the founding pastor of Lake Forest, California’s celebrated Saddleback Community Church and author of The Purpose Driven Church.

“Upon encountering this life-changing book, we realized that if members of our church aren’t leading a purpose driven life, they really don’t have much value as believers,” said Senior Pastor Charles Moynihan. “After much prayer and consideration, we simply decided that they can take their purposelessness elsewhere.”

The decision was announced during Sunday morning services on November 9th, and every MCC member will have received a form letter from Moynihan by the end of the month.

Not only do MCC’s 348 members have to read The Purpose Driven Life by December 31st, 2003, they also have to pass a written test of both multiple choice and essay questions, formulated by the elder board, that demonstrates that they understand the concepts and have undergone the life-changing effects of the book.

Moynihan says that he expects that very few, if any, members will lose their membership, and that many will easily fulfill the requirement during the church’s “40 Days of Purpose,” a collective reading and study of the book, now in progress at MCC and thousands of other congregations around the world.

“We’re not looking to expel anybody here,” he said. “We know that our membership will rise to the challenge and start to actually live lives with a purpose. The reaction to this action by the board has been overwhelmingly positive.”

But that doesn’t mean the church’s revolutionary decision is completely free of detractors.

“I went through nine weeks of mind-numbingly boring membership classes, and now I have to prove my worth as a member by reading about some evangelical fad?!,” exclaimed Memphis resident Rick Peterson, who became an MCC member last year.

Despite his objections, Peterson, an avid basketball player, plans to read the book and take the test.

“I’m not ready to give up my free access to the church gym,” he said.

For his part, Moynihan is convinced that the required reading will have an effect on the church that will be just as revolutionary as the elder board’s ultimatum.

“We’re going to have hundreds of Christians finding unique purposes simultaneously,” he said. “I like to think of it as the Purpose Storm.”

This story was borrowed from The Holy Observer.

December 04, 2003

Nominations were announced today for the 46th annual Grammy Awards. My only interest in this is two categories - Best Rock Gospel Album and Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album.

First, let’s look at the nominations for Best Rock Gospel Album.

  • Worldwide
    Audio Adrenaline
    I have not heard this entire album, but have heard enough to know that although it is not Audio A’s best album, it is solid.
  • Red Letterz
    Fresh I.E.
    Admittedly I have never even heard of this album. That is quite unusual for me as I keep close tabs on Christian music.
  • Jekyll & Hyde
    Petra’s best album in recent memory, I would have been surprised if this had not shown up on the nomination list. They have won Grammys for worse albums than this.
  • Unclassified
    Robert Randolph & The Family Band
    I have not heard this album, but from what I hear it is a good and fun album. To call it rock seems a bit of a stretch, but I guess it did not fit any other category.
  • Two Lefts Don’t Make A Right…But Three Do
    Relient K
    This is an album I had to learn to enjoy. When I first listened to it I was quite disappointed but it grew on me.

My pick in this group is Petra. That will not come as a great surprise to people who know me, I’m sure. Still, Jekyll & Hyde is a fantastic album, and as I said, they have been rewarded for albums not nearly as good as this one. Relient K’s album is my second pick but has a lot of songs that are merely average.

Albums that could or should have been nominated are: Everyday Sunday (one of my favorites from last year) and Switchfoot’s The Beautiful Letdown which deserves the nomination and award!

Now let’s look at the nominations for Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album:

  • Furthermore - From The Studio: From The Stage
    Jars Of Clay
    Jars of Clay gets their annual Grammy nomination. This album does not deserve to win.
  • Adoration: The Worship Album
    A fairly good album but contained a lot of songs from previous albums that were recorded live but were not significantly changed.
  • Stacie Orrico
    Stacie Orrico
    Ugh. I sincerely hope this teen/latin pop does not win.
  • Worship Again
    Michael W. Smith
    Smitty gets his annual nomination. Worship Again was an average album but definitely not Grammy-worthy. Could he get a Grammy for singing mostly other people’s songs?
  • Offerings II
    Third Day
    Third Day seems to be perrenial losers at the awards show. If they did not win for their first worship album I don’t see how they can win for their second which was inferior to the first.

    I am going to guess that Jars of Clay will win this. They seem to have the attention of the Grammy voters who are by and large completely ignorant when it comes to Christian music.

    Missing from this list is the best album of the year, Derek Webb’s She Must and Shall Go Free. Any faith I had in the Grammy nomination process has been lost with the oversite of this album. Webb’s album deserved the nomination and award.

    What can I say? The Grammies managed to miss nominating the year’s best albums in both categories. I can only hope that the Dove Awards can do more to recognize the deserving artists.

    I guess I should point out that Evanesence, a band that claimed to be Christian for some of the year, received multiple major nominations. I would anticipate them winning at least a couple of awards.

December 03, 2003

Having completed my series on Calvinism and Arminianism, I am now (by request) working on a series on basic Christianity. It is likely to be a long series of at least ten articles. I hope to post the first of them later this week.

I just launched a new Web site for a friend of mine who is an aspiring photographer. You can see his site at Digital Perspectives. I am very happy with the design and how it all came together. Simon is thrilled too, so it’s all good!

Thanks to those who sent alone birthday greetings yesterday. I had as good a birthday as I can remember having. I even somehow managed to get three cakes!

December 02, 2003

Today is my twenty seventh birthday. Since we have home church tonight we decided to have my birthday meal and do presents last night. Dinner wasn’t anything too special, but at least I didn’t have to help make it or do the dishes. As for my gifts, I received a good balance of music and books which is all I asked for. I am already well into R.C. Sproul’s Getting The Gospel Right. I quite like Sproul, though he really does like to use big words wherever possible. Only in a Sproul book would you read (about the differences between Christians) that some are “loquacious while others are taciturn.” I also got a couple of John MacArthur books that were marked down for clearance. For music I got new albums by Bleach, Lost Dogs and a couple of others that I needed to round out areas of my collection. I will rate this as being a pretty good birthday!

November 12, 2003
Just for kicks I decided to change the back-end of this site from Geeklog to Movabletype. The changeover took a few hours of work (mostly hacking apart cascading style sheets) and quite a bit of frustration, but the move is nearly complete.

I found Movabletype after Geeklog and found it had some neat features that Geeklog did not. Of course the opposite is true too. I am going to run them in parallel for a few days and try to determine which one best meets my needs. I have a few things to fix up on the new system (there are some problems with the comments system and the gallery does not function yet). So bear with me if there are a few issues here and there.

November 11, 2003

There are some out there who are wondering what the plan is for this site. So I thought I’d share a bit of my vision for it.

This site serves a couple of purposes. First, it gives me an outlet for writing. I enjoy writing, especially about spiritual topics, as I find it makes my Christian walk that much richer. Secondly, it allows me to provide updates on my life, post family photographs, etc. With my family being spread around North America it provides a way of keeping them in touch with my life.

So the plan is something like this. At least three times a week I hope to add a new article or review written by myself to this site. Another couple of times a week I hope to draw attention to another interesting site or article somewhere on the Net. Sundays I hope just to post a short reflection of some sort. I have no more structure than that at the moment.

November 10, 2003

You may have noticed that I recently linked to He Lives, an excellent blog I discovered a few weeks ago. The site proclaims itself the “Reformed viewpoint of a nuclear physicist.” The author, David Heddle, has written some very interesting and informative articles over the past year-and-a-half he has written on a variety of topics relevant to the Christian walk. I especially recommend his current series on Dispensational Premillennialism.

He updates the site most days, making it a great daily stop.

November 10, 2003

You have to admire Derek Webb for being a risk-taker. Not only did he take a risk by leaving one of the Christian music’s most popular and successful bands, but he then released an album that directly challenges the church with plenty of potent, hard-hitting lyrics. And this is an industry that really does not like to be challenged.

Webb has crafted an album of superb quality. If you have heard Caedmon’s Call you will have some idea of the style of music. It is rooted in folk but has strains of country and good old fashioned rock and roll mixed in. It is nicely produced without being overproduced. Listening to the album you have to believe that the songs would not sound much different in a live setting. Though the music is wonderful, that is not what sets this album apart. It is the depth and quality of the lyrics that sets this album above the crowd.

Webb did the majority of the song writing, though Sandra McCracken, his wife, wrote one and co-wrote another. Former band mate Aaron Tate (of Caedmon’s Call) also contributed a song.

She Must And Shall Go Free is an album devoted to the church, “to who She is, how She should dress and what She was made for.” The album begins with Nobody Loves Me, a song that speaks of the church and how She can not conform to what our culture may want her to become. Her very nature determines that She will always be at odds with the culture.

Wedding Dress is the center point of the album, both positionally (6th song of 11) and thematically. Webb has come under fire by some within the industry for his harsh language within the song, as the chorus repeatedly, though gently, uses the word “whore” to describe the church. A little Bible Study will, of course, show that this is simply a Biblical term used many times to describe the church.

I am so easily satisfied / By the call of lovers so less wild / That I would take a little cash / Over your very flesh and blood // Cause I am a whore I do confess / I put you on just like a wedding dress / And I run down the aisle

The country inspired Crooked Deep Down speaks of the depravity of the church and of the humans that comprise her. This song sets up perfectly the powerful closing ballad The Church which proclaims “If you love Me you will love the church.”

Superbly written and wonderfully crafted, this album is undoubtedly one of the best the Christian music world has seen. The album is an experience and to be fully enjoyed, needs to be listened to from beginning to end. I wholeheartedly recommend this album. Christian music simply does not get much better than this!

November 09, 2003

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Exodus 20:8