Wednesday, February 14, 2007


It is Valentine's day...

Shout out Valentines to the favorite women in my life

Mam-ma: Every year I continue to be amazed at how my Mom keeps engaged in life. She is smart, spiritual, and I still enjoy calling to tell her what's going on in my life.

Granny: Of all the blessings of marrying Marsha, one of the best was getting Granny as a mother-in-law. I love how she handles whatever difficulties life brings...with lots of love and faith.

Jules: I am so proud of you. I always knew you would be a great wife and Mom. I love your example of faith no matter what comes.

Jamie: Joe Don hit a home run when he got you. You really have been a daughter and never an in-law. I know God brought you to our family.

Anna Claire: Just thinking of Anna Claire makes me smile. I love her so much it hurts. She is cute, smart, and sparky. I can't wait to see what the future brings.

Mimi: You've been a bride, a Mom, a Mimi, a daughter, and a friend. If I had it to do all over again you would still be the one. You still make my heart race and your laugh still makes me happy. Most of all, thanks for always helping me practice what I preach.

I am one blessed man.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


I drank coffee this morning...

I have gone most of my life without drinking it. I survived college without it. I can get up early and hunt without it. I can even survive late night elder's meetings without it. I have never been exited about paying more for a cup of it than I do for my lunch. For thirty three years we have used the avacado green coffee pot we got for a wedding gift. My folks always had to make it when they came. My kids don't get coffee when they visit. Our small group doesn't get coffee at our house. And it's not that we think it is bad. Marsha starts her morning with Diet Dr. Pepper most mornings. I don't guess that is worse than coffee.

But something is changing. I started drinking coffee when I travel overseas. Sometimes it is all that is available (at least that I recognize), and I figure since it is hot many of the germs must be dead. And I noticed at a couple of breakfast meetings it was easier just to have coffee. Then we bought a coffee maker for our Christmas present to each other. My folks are happy, my kids are happy, small group is happy (even Phil and Tim because Marsha still has Diet Dr. Pepper). My HoT ministry team is happy. But we have a problem. You don't just drink coffee. Marsha doctors it up till it looks like pale brown and I drink it without anything. But we can't figure out what to buy. Or order. Or mix. Some of her teacher friends are bringing her recipies for coffee.

So here's the question. What should we try? What are some of your favorites? Can you put Diet Coke, Diet Root Beer, or Diet Dr. Pepper in coffee? We need help. What do you think?

Thursday, February 08, 2007


So now what...

So when everything is said and done...what is my position on the instrument? First, it is not a matter of salvation. It is a discussion of how Christians worship, not how to become a Christian. I do not believe it is a matter of fellowship. If it were that critical, God would have made it abundantly clear. I believe in church autonomy so I am not going to criticize what different congregations may choose to do. I believe in submitting to the authority of the elders in matters of spiritual judgement. I am a shepherd at Southern Hills, and I submit to the collective wisdom of our leaders. Our votes may not be unanimous, but our decisions are. So as we discuss this issue, I may or may not agree with the final decision but I will submit to it.

I personally am a non-instrumental believer. That position may very well be colored by my background. I do think the silence of Scripture matters and I do place importance on the New Testament pattern. Early church history factors into my conviction. But I could be wrong. Instrumental worship, women's role in the church, Christians in the military and many other issues are things that are important. Everyone will not agree with me on each of these. But we don't have to agree. Instrumental worship is not gospel and it is not core. It is not of first importance.

I have preached at instrumental services. And I did not feel compelled to preach on worship. There are spiritual men who are outstanding students of the Word who disagree with me. I understand their arguements. I pray each congregation makes a decision that is appropriate and right for their family. I trust we will do that at Southern Hills. I love a cappella singing...but it is not about what I like. In fact, as I grow in Christ I trust I will be much more concerned with honoring God and helping others to honor Him. It is not about me. And I am certain that division, bitterness, and personal attacks do not please Him or honor Him.

So I will keep studying, I will keep singing, I will continue to develop relationships with non-believers and bring them to worship. I will try to help make decisions that enable Southern Hills to honor God and work and worship in harmony. I will pray for sister congregations making decisions about this. I will honor their decision. I will confront those who would be devisive, critical, or unloving.

Most of all, I wish we would be so busy bringing people to Jesus that we would not have time to belabor things like this. Frankly, I have too many calls from Christians who are battling addictions, trying to heal marriages, and fight Satan to take any calls complaining about this. And I have too many people to tell about Jesus to spend my time pacifying those who are worried that we will...or concerned that we haven't.

That's where I am today. What do you think?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


And another thing...

There are a few more issues I have heard on the instrumental music question that I want to address. I often hear that instrumental music leads to a "concert" environment or a performance show. Don't we have praise teams that have the same problem if not careful? For that matter, I can vividly remember song leaders over the years who really seemed to make worship all about them. Come to think about it...don't lots of preachers turn their time into a performance. I am really not sure instruments would create anything new on that issue.

You can't make any arguement from the silence of Scripture. I hear this from those who just can't believe someone would use this as a reason to be non-instrumental. Be careful of blanket statements. After all, the writer of Hebrews uses the silence of Scripture to argue the Melchizedek priesthood of Jesus.

I really get nervous about the "we won't do anything not authorized in Scripture" arguement. Where is the Scripture for buildings? Or budgets? But we want to be just like the church in the New Testament. Do we really think that any first century Christian would think our services are like what he was used to? They would really have a hard time figuring out the Lord's Supper, much less our worship style.

You should not introduce any mechanical form of worship, like instruments. I always wondered about pitch pipes. Aren't they mechanical? Why couldn't a guiter or organ cue the pitch? But pitch pipes are just an aid to our singing. Which is what many advocates of instrumental music would say. By the way, I always led singing by ear. I just couldn't get the whole pitch pipe thing.

Instrumental worship would let more people use their gifts in worship. So do we all bring our guitars, or drums, or tubas to worship so we can all use our gifts? Why not let the carpenter express his gifts in worship? Or the athlete? Is our assembly together really about using our gifts? What about the people who can't play an insturment? Obviously it lets more people be involved in more ways. Is that the goal of worship?

Yes, participatory worship is the key to invovle and reach people in a post modern world. Then I would suggest instrumental worship has nothing to do with that. In terms of participatory worship it is more of the same old thing. If anything, it lets more people lead in worship while the rest of the assemble become more of an audience. That may even be a step back.

Some of these arguements are extreme, some are not well thought out, some are grasping at straws, and some are inconsistent.

So what do I do about instrumental worship? It seems I mostly poke holes in the arguemetns on both sides. Maybe I'm just contrary. Read my next post. Till then, feel free to comment.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


More on Worship Music...

Thanks for the insight and comments (posted and verbal). I want to respond to some of the other issues I hear discussed in regards to instrumental worship. I do not believe that instrumental music is the key to holding on to the next generation. If it were that simple, we would have already solved the problem. I do think we are in a world that expects worship to be much more experiential. I am not sure adding instruments really speaks to that issue.

I don't believe that remaining non-instrumental insures faithful churches. Churches that do not preach and practice grace, love, forgiveness, and commitment have much greater issues than how they worship. After all, instrumental music still is not a matter of heart, but mechanics. Non instrumental worship can be Spirit filled, uplifting and God honoring. It can also be stale, rote, boring, and dead.

I just can't buy the arguement that going instrumental is a key to reaching the lost. If it were, Jesus would have made sure to let us know about it. The lost of our world are not concerned with the mechanics of worship, but the spirit. And they come because of relationships. I have never had a non believer ask about instrumental worship. I have had many visitors looking to place membership ask about our worship policy. And I have had visitors from instrumental backgrounds ask about it. But even then it doesn't seem to be a big deal. Keeping the instrument out of worship is not going to inspire non believers to beat down our door. It is a non issue to them. Seekers are looking for community, not theology. I am sure they even care that much about theology until they see authentic lives lived in close community.

I do think non instrumental worshippers typically sing more. The more instruments involved, the more difficult it is to get a sense of "singing to each other". However, that is an opinion. It is not theology. It may speak to the wisdom of how we worship, but not to the correctness of how we worship. It also reminds me there is another debate waiting to happen over worship styles: instead of praise teams and contemporary songs, we can argue over guitar versus bands.

Well, these are thoughts, not conclusions. And maybe next time, I'll share where I am personally on this whole issue. Until then, what do you think about these things?

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