We Stand Forgiven

The Gettys write such wonderful 21st Century hymns, don’t you think? The melodies encourage our voices to soar at just the right places to reigned Scriptural truths the the lyrics so eloquently express. As a descendant of Irish immigrants, I don’t exactly object to the hints of Celtic phraseology, either!

But I mostly love the solid theology woven throughout their songs. Within that sound theology, they convey amazing passion and adoration for the Lord and His grace towards us.

The Power of the Cross, arguably one of the Gettys’ most popular hymns, sets forth brilliant theology in depicting Christ’s atoning work at Calvary. It touches on several significant aspects of that event, culminating with its marvelous implications for believers. Most powerfully, the refrain continually circles back to the assuring words: “We stand forgiven at the cross.”

And I so cherish that forgiveness!

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Oceans Aren’t That Deep

Today’s hymn compares the love Jesus has for us to a mighty ocean. From our standpoint, that’s a wonderful metaphor. When I’ve been to beaches, I’ve been overwhelmed by the huge expanse of water, especially when I realize that it extends far beyond the  horizon and plummets to depths I can’t even imagine.

Yet Jesus created the oceans! In truth, from His perspective they probably represent mere microcosms of His love for us. An ocean bed would most likely contain only a fraction of His love.

Still, this hymn causes us to wonder, with an attitude of praise, at the amazing fact that the Lord of all creation loves us with a love that far surpasses our comprehension. If the metaphor of an ocean helps us to get even the slightest inkling of how deeply He loves us, then let’s embrace it with joy and gratitude.

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Learning 1 Corinthians 13

As a new believer in the early 1970s, I loved the Maranatha! Singers out of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. Yes, yes — I know Calvary Chapel is Charismatic, and I know they’ve gotten wonky in recent years. But back then, much of their theology was fairly solid, and the Maranatha! Singers offered Christian teens a healthy alternative to Rock music.

More than 45 years later, I don’t remember many songs from their albums. One song, however, has stayed with me, always reminding me of 1 Corinthians 13. Even though it takes a few liberties with the text in order to conform to the melody (which, by the way, is absolutely beautiful), it stays remarkably faithful to Paul’s words.

So, instead of a hymn today, allow me to treat you to this exquisite little song that I’ve cherished throughout my Christian life. The Lord has used it often to help me learn 1 Corinthians 13. Perhaps He’ll also use it to help you.

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Saturday Sampler: April 16 — April 22

Blend SamplerHave you been following Leslie A’s excellent series on developing discernment on her Growing 4 Life blog? Even if you haven’t, Learn to Discern: Preparing Your Heart and Mind is very much worth your time and attention. She lays a Biblical foundation for cultivating discernment.

Jennifer at One Hired Late In The Day writes Jen Hatmaker, the ‘Christian Machine’, and Genuine Orthodox Christianity in response to Hatmaker’s Good Friday post comparing the backlash to her support of same sex marriage to Christ’s sufferings on the cross. Please,  Ms. Hatmaker,  grow up!

Michelle Lesley has a passion for teaching women how to study the Bible for themselves. Her article, Bible Book Backgrounds: Why You Need Them and Where to Find Them, provides an excellent resource for studying God’s Word.

I so appreciate Rebekah Womble of Wise In His Eyes for her balanced and Biblical perspective in Beware the Lies of Emotionalism. Our culture has wrongly influenced the visible church that feelings, rather than God’s Word, lead us into a right relationship with the Lord.

Writing for Parking Space 23, Allen Cagle encourages church music leaders to ask, Should We Sing That Song? Those of us in the pews might also benefit from these guidelines for evaluating worship music.

The newest trend in evangelical circles exalts “authenticity” and “brokenness.” As Joe Carter of The Gospel Coalition Blog says in his piece, Beware of Broken Wolves, false teachers often use these postures as a means of spreading deceit to the rest of Christ’s Body.

 

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Why I Regret Using Hillsong’s Music As Part Of My Wedding (And Why You Should Avoid The Group)

9af2c-deviationThe song, as far as I could tell, focused on the Lord’s incomparable greatness and sought His help to worship Him with everything in me. It reminded me that not even the wonderful man next to me could ever mean as much to me as Christ. Although I committed myself to John that day, I maintained a higher commitment to my Savior. Therefore I believed the song fit our wedding perfectly!

At the time, I had no idea that Hillsong, the supposedly Christian group that wrote and popularized the song, represented Hillsong Church, an extreme Charismatic church that promotes Word of Faith teachings. Sadly, I have since learned the truth about the church, and have consequently been convinced to categorically avoid their music.

Over the almost 15 years since my wedding, I’ve had more exposure to Hillsong’s music through the church we attended early in our marriage, and some of those songs betrayed the group’s aberrant theology.  As my exposure to their songs increased, I also began coming across articles about the church, its beliefs and finally its ambiguous posture toward homosexuality.

The difficulties with Hillsong can’t be contained in a single blog post, particularly when I’ve just spent an hour rummaging through Google searching for a definitive article that would conveniently consolidate all the documentation I want in one handy place. I can only urge you to research Hillsong Church for yourselves, asking why they have women pastors, why an unrepentant homosexual serves on the worship team of their New York church and why their music never mentions repentance or God’s wrath.

Notice that I have trouble making a distinction between Hillsong’s music and their church. This overlapping is precisely the reason we must avoid their music. Music has tremendous power over human emotions, which in turn inform how we think. The doctrinal imprecision of Hillsong’s lyrics, coupled with the hints of Word of Faith ideology, lower a listener’s resistance to their church’s message. For that reason Bible-believing Christians must regard their music as highly damaging.

We live in an age that celebrates emotion at the expense of Biblical doctrine. Hillsong’s music thrives on this tendency, subtly pulling people in to its Prosperity Gospel. As discerning Christian women, however, we must recognize the dangerous influence of Hillsong’s music, and the even more dangerous teachings of their church. Buying their music only finances their spread of false teaching. Using their music in our weddings, whether intentional or not, endorses doctrinal error that might cause others to deviate from sound teaching. And we just can’t take those risks.

 

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Saturday Sampler: February 5 — February 11

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Writing a guest post for Pulpit and Pen, Dr. Jeff Hagan explains How NOT To Follow the Holy Spirit. Isn’t it sad that, in a time when technology has made the Bible more accessible than ever, we still need articles like this?

Please don’t miss The Five Tests of False Doctrine by Tim Challies. His blog post provides an excellent grid for practicing Biblical discernment.

Leslie A. at Growing 4 Life writes Learn to Discern: Introduction to inaugurate her new series on discernment. I appreciate her balanced, Biblical approach to this topic, and look forward to reading her insights. I’ll be interested to see how her series complements the one Tim Challies is writing.

I regret my neglect of Pastor Gabe’s Blog last week. Gabe Hughes writes Examining the Worship Song “Above All” with such theological accuracy that I just have to include it in this week’s Sampler.

Although I have problems with the “live the Gospel” mentality, I also understand that, as Christians, our behavior must line up with our professed beliefs. So John Ellis’ article, Why Are  Christians Bad Tippers? in PJ Media, made me both sad and angry. As Christians, we’ve got to do better for the sake of the Gospel.

For those of you who mingle psychology with Christianity, please prayerfully consider Rebekah Womble’s blog post, Guilt and Forgiveness: Why We Need Both in Wise In His Eyes. She well demonstrates the corrupting influence that psychology has on evangelicals, as well as the Biblical response to guilt.

The Cripplegate includes Battalogeo & Heavenly Prayer Language, in which Eric Davis thoughtfully discusses the Charismatic practice of speaking in tongues as a private prayer language.  This article may trouble Charismatics. Hopefully, they’ll be troubled enough to seriously study the Scriptures on this matter.

Inadequate Understanding of God #1: Why did He make things? launches Jennifer’s new series on One Hired Late In The Day. In this initial installment, Jen looks at God’s real purpose in creating the heavens and the earth.

Do you belong to a good church? Over on Parking Space 23, Greg Patterson gives us Marks of a Good Church to help us evaluate our home church by Biblical standards. The church John and I belong to more than passes the test!

 

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Let Thy Glory Be Over All Of The Earth

The praise songs of the late 1970s and early 1980s, to their credit, often did have richness that few present-day songs match. That richness came because many of those songs, despite being simple and repetitious, drew their lyrics directly from Scripture (usually the Psalms).

John Michael Talbot popularized Psalm 57:9-11 in his beautiful praise song, Be Exalted, O God. Not only is it pleasurable to sing, but it gently redirects attention from ourselves to the Lord. The psalmist seeks after the Lord to glorify Himself.

The song always gave me proper perspective. God’s job isn’t to give  me purpose, to have a wonderful plan for my life or to bless me with good health and material prosperity. He exists for the sole purpose of glorifying Himself. Thankfully, He often demonstrates His glory through His love and faithfulness to me, causing me to praise Him publicly. As you listen to the psalmist’s prayer, won’t you join him (and join me) in asking the Lord to let His glory be over all of the earth?

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