DiM | “Gospel” Grammy Nominations 2016

trebleclefDecember 8, 2015. With yesterday’s Billboard release of the Grammy Nominations for 2016, I thought we might take a look at the songs being nominated under the “Gospel” category. We’ll be taking a break on the DiM posts for the rest of the year. We’ll jump back into our DiM posts in January, 2016. I’m sure there will be lots of new songs on the top charts.

Billboard Grammy Nominations 2016 (link)

Billboard Grammy Results 2016 (link)

Best Gospel Performance/Song

Okay, so in this first category of Grammy Nominations, I only recognize one artist, Kirk Franklin. We haven’t covered any of these songs in our DiM posts, and I think that is because I don’t really follow the “Gospel” genre that is more of a style of music completely divorced from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the power of God unto Salvation.

Worth [Live]
Anthony Brown & Group Therapy
Anthony Brown & Group Therapy; Anthony Brown, songwriter
Track from: Everyday Jesus [Live]
[Tyscot Records; Publisher(s): Key Of A Music/Tyscot Music]

Video / Lyrics. DiM Comments: The focus of the title and the song is on our worth. The song begins with the idea that everything God did for us was based on what He thought we were Worth. We believe that sort of philosophy to be inconsistent with what the Bible teaches, and it flies in the face of Soli Deo Gloria (to the Glory of God alone). The “power” of this song (and the genre of “Gospel Music”) is in how it’s sung/performed, not really in its lyric… though self-esteem boosting is a common lyrical theme.
DiM Verdict: Disapprove.

grammy-statueWanna Be Happy?
Kirk Franklin
Kirk Franklin; Kirk Franklin, songwriter
[RCA Records/Fo Yo Soul Recordings; Publisher(s): Aunt Gertrude Music Publishing admin. by Universal Music-Brentwood Benson Songs and Irving Music, Inc. admin. by Universal Music Publishing]

Video / Lyrics. DiM Comments: This song dilutes the message of the Gospel down to an Osteen-like question of happiness. The question the listener is told to ask themselves is “do you wanna be happy”. The listener is told to let Jesus take the wheel… and at some points told to just say “yes” to Jesus… but nothing clearly stated. Apparently the listener isn’t happy, but that’s because they are in the way and apparently haven’t been asking themselves the question, or something. The song is worthless.
DiM Verdict: Disapprove.

Intentional
Travis Greene
Travis Greene; Travis Greene, songwriter
[RCA Inspiration; Publisher(s): Greenlight InternationalVNavidavi Music]

Video / Lyrics. DiM Comments: Okay, so at least this song is slightly better than the other two. But seriously, the whole song consists of 2 Christian ideas: Be anxious for nothing (Phil 4:6a); God works all things for good (Rom 8:28). There is a third idea (seriously, the whole song is repetition of 3 thoughts) that God is Intentional. This is odd wording and its goal is to allude to the Sovereignty and Goodness of God while suggesting that whatever is going on it’s because God is doing something good for you in it. That concept can lose traction and flip sideways very quickly. One plus in the song is that it acknowledged that sometimes the hard times are indeed allowed by and even sent by God. That’s a good truth to hold onto, but it isn’t always for your good… it’s ALWAYS for His Glory, and there is not greater good than God’s Glory. The repetition in this song is absolutely mind-numbing.
DiM Verdict: Listen with Discerning ears, hearts, and minds.

How Awesome Is Our God [Live]
Israel & Newbreed Featuring Yolanda Adams
Israel & Newbreed Featuring Yolanda Adams; Neville Diedericks, Israel Houghton & Meleasa Houghton, songwriters
Track from: Covered: Alive In Asia [Live] (Deluxe)
[RGM Newbreed/RCA Inspiration; Publisher(s): Integrity’s Praise! Music, RGM-Newbreed Publishing, Sound Of The New Breed, Aaron Lindsey Publishing, CCMG Publishing, Neville D. Publishing]

Video / Lyrics. DiM Comments: As far as what is in the lyric, if you can get beyond the repetition, (… I mean… it’s bad… which goes to show that “gospel music” is all about the singing and musical crescendo and frills… the lyrics are just a means for hearing the voice) the song is a legitimate song of praise and thanksgiving from the regenerate Christian to the God who Saved them. If sung/performed within the context of faithful believers, I believe this song could serve as fitting worship and thanks to God when sung by each believer, regardless of their musical ability.
DiM Verdict: Listen with Discerning ears, hearts, and minds.

Worth Fighting For [Live]
Brian Courtney Wilson
Brian Courtney Wilson; Aaron Lindsey & Brian Courtney Wilson, songwriters
Track from: Worth Fighting For [Live]
[Motown Gospel; Publisher(s): ACER/Aaron Lindsey Music/Capitol Christian Music Publishing admin. by Capitol CMG]

Video / Lyrics. DiM Comments: Okay, have you ever heard of a “humble brag”? It’s when someone goes on and on about how humble/meek/undeserving they are in such a way that actually serves to brag about their accomplishments. That’s this song. It’s all about the singer’s worth, potential, destiny, purpose… but it’s cloaked in a sort of pious deference to God’s acknowledgement of the singer’s worth. It was so bad I stopped the audio after the first verse and just read the lyric without music. Nope.
DiM Verdict: Disapprove.

So, if there has to be a winner in this category, my vote would be for How Awesome is Our God by Israel & Newbreed Feat. Yolanda Adams.

Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song

Okay, so this category we are well acquainted with. In fact, I’m happy to report that we’ve already covered each of the songs nominated for a Grammy. None of these songs are DiM Approved, so as long as one of the flat-out disapproved songs doesn’t win, I’d consider that a small victory.

grammy-statueHoly Spirit
Francesca Battistelli
Francesca Battistelli
Track from: If We’re Honest (Deluxe Edition)
[Fervent/Curb/Word]

DiM | “Holy Spirit” by Francesca Battistelli
DiM Verdict: Disapprove

Lift Your Head Weary Sinner (Chains)
Crowder
Crowder; Ed Cash, David Crowder & Seth Philpott, songwriters
Track from: Neon Steeple (Deluxe Edition)
[sixstepsrecords/Sparrow Records; Publisher(s): sixsteps Music/worshiptogether.com Songs/sixsteps Songs/Worship Together Music admin. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com/Alletrop Music]

DiM | “Lift Your Head Weary Sinner (Chains)” by Crowder
DiM Verdict: Listen with Discerning ears, hearts, and minds.

Because He Lives (Amen)
Matt Maher
Matt Maher
Track from: Saints And Sinners
[Essential Records/Provident Label Group]

DiM | “Because He Lives (Amen)” by Matt Maher
DiM Verdict: Listen with Discerning ears, hearts, and minds.

Soul On Fire
Third Day Featuring All Sons & Daughters
Third Day Featuring All Sons & Daughters; Tai Anderson, Brenton Brown, David Carr, Mark Lee, Matt Maher & Mac Powell, songwriters
Track from: Lead Us Back: Songs Of Worship (Deluxe)
[Essential Records/Provident Label Group; Publisher(s): DATAMAMA MUSIC, Thankyou Music, Sony/ATV Tree Publishing, I Am A Pilgrim Songs]

DiM | “Soul On Fire” by Third Day
DiM Verdict: Listen with Discerning ears, hearts, and minds.

Feel It
Tobymac Featuring Mr. Talkbox
Tobymac Featuring Mr. Talkbox; Cary Barlowe, David Arthur Garcia & Toby McKeehan, songwriters
[ForeFront Records; Publisher(s): Achtober Songs/Universal Music – Brentwood Benson Publishing/D Soul Music admin. by CapitolCMGPublishing.com/Castle Bound Music, Inc./We Be Pawtying]

DiM | “Feel It (feat. Mr Talkbox)” by Tobymac
DiM Verdict: Disapprove.

Conclusion

I had hoped to work through the remaining Album categories, but that’s a lot more work than I have time for at this point. We really don’t do much in the way of Albums because they fit a different context from what concerns us. These days I think it is rare that folks listen through a whole album in a sitting. I could be wrong, but I think most folks just buy the songs they like on iTunes and throw them into their mixes. I’m not happy with the current state of Contemporary Christian Music, and pray every week for a reformation to take place. We need to wake up and acknowledge the importance of discernment in what we hear repeatedly and set to a tune. Most Christians spend far more time listening to this music than reading their Bibles… that’s also something that should change.

Ephesians 3:14-21 (ESV) | Prayer for Spiritual Strength

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think,according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Amen, indeed.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

 

DiM | Does Your Local Station Share the Gospel?

trebleclefToday’s post is going to be an ongoing project. I’m sharing this a bit prematurely in hopes that the methodology will at least bring some awareness to our readers as they go about their day listening to Contemporary Christian Radio Stations. Our local radio station just did a 4-day fund-raising campaign. Throughout the radio campaign there is the mantra that supporting the radio station financially is supporting the Gospel and the preaching of the Gospel. The question that popped up in my mind was, “how much does this Radio Station actually present the Gospel of Jesus Christ?”

That’s a tough question to ask, because it’s questioning a cliché and asking the person using the cliché to stop and consider the validity of what they said. Most people don’t like doing that, let alone being asked to do it. It is an even tougher question to answer and evaluate because there needs to be room for grace in this, too. There is a tendency to turn this into a “gotcha” exchange, where one side uses the exception to disprove the rule and the other seeks to discredit the exception by using the rule. This isn’t an all-or-nothing saint or sinner thing… as individual Christians we are simultaneously sinner(in flesh) and saint (by faith), so we aren’t looking to vilify nor deify the radio station. We are simply examining the fruit.

To place this endeavor into context within the discernment realm, consider this: a much tougher question with far greater impact would be, “How often does your Pastor preach the Gospel”? By comparison, the question we are asking here today should be easier to consider and evaluate, given that the radio station is not your pastor, elder, or deacon. The radio station is not making disciples, nor is the radio station charged (by Scripture) with keeping watch over your souls as the Pastor (according to Scripture) is. Sadly, there are many who think the local Christian radio station IS filling this role in their lives, and that is a serious problem.

One Hour of Programming

The primary operation of the local Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) radio station is to play CCM. Interspersed throughout the programming are station promos, local news/weather, DJ conversations, and nationally broadcast segments usually of celebrity pastors/teachers/motivational speakers. I decided to grab an hour’s worth of radio programming from the website of our local station to see how tightly packed it is.

Strangely Dim by Francesca Battistelli 8:57am
More Than You Think I Am by Danny Gokey 9:02am
I Refuse by Josh Wilson 9:06am
The River by Jordan Feliz 9:10am
Let Them See You by JJ Weeks Band 9:13am
Jesus, Friend of Sinners by Casting Crowns 9:17am
Brother by Needtobreathe 9:21am
Mighty To Save by Laura Story 9:27am
Keep Making Me by Sidewalk Prophets 9:31am
The Proof of Your Love by For King & Country 9:35am
Same Power by Jeremy Camp 9:38am
By Your Side by Tenth Avenue North 9:45am
Overcomer by Mandisa 9:49am
Here With Me by MercyMe 9:52am
Come As You Are by Crowder 9:56am
Live On Forever by The Afters 10:01am

As you can see, our local radio station plays more than what is on the top20 charts, as we have not reviewed every song played in this hour. Notice how tightly packed that playlist is. Throughout that hour we still hear station promos, event notices, etc. So the question of whether or not, or how often the Radio Station preaches the Gospel falls heavily on the messaging of the songs themselves. That is why we focus so much on the lyrical content of the top playing songs.

But the question of how strong a correlation exists between the money you give to support the radio station and the preaching of the Gospel cannot be answered by simply surveying their website and reviewing the song playlist. We’ll have to be listening for what events are being promoted by the Radio station, which programs by celebrity pastors are being aired between songs, and whether or not the DJs in-fact share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

There is another concern that should be accounted for, and that is how often a false Gospel is shared on the air, or how often a heretic is promoted by the radio station. Do they allow local churches with questionable orthodoxy record their own promotions of heretics, and does that exonerate the station? Those questions I cannot answer for you, but they should be taken to the Word of God and discussed with your Pastor/Elders.

The Gospel must be Preached

When listening for the Gospel being preached, do not be satisfied by hearing the word “gospel”. It does you no good to hear “good news” if the substance of the good news is never actually conveyed.

Romans 10:1-17 (ESV) | The Message of Salvation to All

10 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say?“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Conclusion

I’m limited in how much on-air monitoring I can accomplish because this blog site is not my vocation. I will keep working on this project as I find the time to take notes on what I hear and at what times. As I said in the beginning, my goal in sharing this is to encourage each of you to at least make a mental checklist of what you are hearing on your radio. If you find your local radio station lacking discernment, or failing to share the Gospel, reach out to them in love and encourage them to preach the Gospel.

Romans 16:25-27 (ESV) | Doxology

25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

CTT | Maturity in Discerment

CTTToday, let us take a some time to consider the idea of Christian Maturity and how it plays out in our discernment. For starters, I’d like to point out that discernment isn’t limited to quality assurance and quality control in theology, or a certain type of blogging that tells everyone that they are wrong. Discernment is both a gift of the Holy Spirit for the edification of the Church and a sign of maturity in a the believer who is walking according to the Spirit. We’ll start with the obvious topic of the Spiritual gift of discernment and work toward the individual responsibility of growing in maturity and how that is reflected in our discernment on a personal level.

Spiritual Gift for the Church

1 Corinthians 12:1-13 (ESV) | Spiritual Gifts

12 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit

When we consider discernment ministry for the common good, we are focused on the gift of discerning what is of the Spirit of Truth against the spirit of error, whose source might be either our fleshly sinfulness or unclean spirits of demons. There is no other option. Notice the focus in Paul’s writing, it isn’t to get smart on all of the spirits of error; rather, it is to anchor everything according to the Spirit of God. The better you know the genuine article, the easier it becomes to identify counterfeits. Not everyone who claims a gift of discernment actually bears it… just as not everyone who claims to preach the Word of the Lord actually does so. It is the Holy Spirit who gives the gifts as He wills. Similarly, I’ve met some who think (or maybe truly desire) they have the gift of hospitality… but end up making others uncomfortable in their attempts at serving in hospitality. It happens. We should all grow in hospitality in loving our neighbors, but not all of us are called to that specific ministry. Discernment ministry is the same way. We are called to be discerning believers, but not all of us should consider it our primary ministry to the Body of Christ. The call of discernment ministry is primarily to identify spirits of error, false doctrines, and doctrines of demons. It falls to Overseers, Elders, Pastors to exercise church discipline for those who reject rebuke, correction, reproof and who refuse to repent. The shepherd drives away the wolves to protect the sheep. The overseer is a steward under the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ. We hope that our pastors are gifted in spiritual discernment, but that doesn’t mean the sheep cannot also be keenly aware of the wolves and alert the shepherd to their presence. The problem comes in when our immaturity and fleshliness leads us to separate wrongly… as we see Paul address next.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31 (ESV) | One Body with Many Members

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

More excellent way that what? Discernment? No. Discernment is a Gift from God. Paul is about to go into a more excellent way of dealing with the other members of the Body of Christ than what was highlighted as wrong. Those of you who are familiar with 1 Cor 13 may know what is coming, but I want to park that train for a moment. We’ll get there, but let’s take a short detour and examine the concept of Spiritual Maturity… what does it look like to be a mature Christian? Before we get to that thought, let us take a quick peek at something Paul wrote to the Corinthians in ch 3.

1 Corinthians 3:1-3 (ESV) | Divisions in the Church

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?

Ouch. He’s talking to Christians. They are still Christians… but they are immature, infants in Christ.

Walking in Spiritual Maturity

As individual believers, our biggest struggle isn’t against demons, it is against our own sinful flesh with its corrupted, self-seeking, desires. Paul exhorts us to die to our flesh, to that which is fleshly in us, so that we might live according to the Spirit. There is actually very little mention of the devil beyond resisting him… but we are routinely exhorted to flee lusts and the temptations of the flesh. The truth is that while we have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord, our flesh remains and is sinful. The Holy Spirit does work in us, sanctifying us… but the biggest component of that sanctification is that we are literally being put to death. Should the Return of Jesus tarry, you and I will die. There is no way around that. Our fleshly bodies are condemned under sin.

The life of the believing Christian is caught in between sinner and saint, the already(forgiven) and the not yet(sanctified). That means that we live in such a way that our works of the flesh are always sinful, and we must, by faith, remain in humble submission before God in repentance. We sin. Our flesh craves it. There are many who preach advice on how to reduce sin in your life by “avoiding pitfalls” or “following key principles” or … but the danger in this is the implication that if you are “christian enough” you’ll eventually stop sinning and finally be free from sin. That’s a lie. Your flesh is corrupt to its core. Even if Jesus returns today, your current flesh will be done away with, and in Christ those who are of faith will be granted new bodies. It has to happen. Only then will you be truly sanctified in the flesh… when He has given you a new body.

Now, here is where we get to the point of Christian Maturity… your greatest good work performed for your neighbor while on this earth, is stained by the sin of your flesh. Praise be to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, that our forgiveness, our adoption as sons and daughters of the Most High is in no way contingent upon the righteousness of our good works, but on His. So, when an opportunity to serve your neighbor arises, God is using you to bless your neighbor… but at the same time your flesh is involved so there will be sin at some level. Christian maturity is dying to the flesh to minimize the impact of your fleshliness on your neighbor, as well as learning to discern the good work from the sin of your neighbor and forgiving their sin as your sins are forgiven.

Galatians 5:13-25 (ESV) | Keep in Step with the Spirit

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.

This is the war that wages in our bodies while we walk as sojourners in this life. By faith we know that our home is not of this world, but until we are finally set free from these corrupted bodies of sin, we must daily contend with the flesh and its corruption. But Paul isn’t just directing this teaching to one group of believers. He isn’t just addressing “discernment bloggers” or “pastors”… he’s addressing the body of Christ, brothers and sisters in the household of faith. We often come to this passage for the rundown of the fruit of the Spirit and set that as some positive goal for “becoming a mature Christian” by working on the fruits. But I think that is missing the bigger part of this section… we need to discern the works of the flesh (within the church) and see them for what they are and crucify the flesh with its passions and desires through repentance. Notice the wording of keep in step with the Spirit. We stumble and fall in sin. Repentance and forgiveness is how we are to keep in step. You are not sinless. You sin. I sin. For us to keep in step with the Spirit, by faith we humbly ask forgiveness and repent from sin. Daily. It’s in the Lord’s prayer. And we forgive others. Daily. That’s also in the same prayer. Reflecting back to Paul’s rebuke to the immature Corinthians above, their conduct was fleshly, and were not yet ready for meat, so they had to continue feeding on milk.

A Call to Maturity

Recently, my wife and I threw a big party for my daughter. The whole day was dedicated to her, starting with having her grandparents in town to watch her in gymnastics and swim class, followed by costume party at the house with a huge bounce-house and actors pretending to be Disney characters who sang songs and played games with her and a bunch of her friends. There was a fire pit with s’mores afterwards… it was an awesome day. When it came bed time, I let my son lead the bedtime prayer because he volunteered first, and you’d have thought the entire day was ruined by my daughter’s response… oh the waterworks, fat bottom lip, and hurt feelings. My daughter just turned 4… and she was beyond tired. As a child, she lives emotionally in the moment. As an adult, I know that the entire day wasn’t wasted simply because she took offense at the end of the day for not being chosen to pray. She had a wonderful day. She’s 4. As she matures, I will expect more from her… I will expect her to weigh the events of the day against the single disappointment at the end… to consider how excited her brother was for her throughout the day that was planned for her, and not for him. But for now, she’s 4… and she was super tired and delirious.

Our culture isn’t fond of maturity. In every way it seems to insist on living the Peter Pan in Neverland fantasy where we never grow old, grown-ups are the enemy, and we can all fly and have fanciful adventures if only we hold onto our one happy thought. “Grow up” is hate speech and to uphold God’s Written Word as an objective standard is bigotry. And the church hasn’t done a good job of remaining set apart. The visible church in modern-times needs to grow up.

2 Timothy 4:1-4 (ESV) | Preach the Word

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

Reprove and rebuke with complete patience and teaching. We are still both sinner and saint… even our pastors. Their good works will be tainted by their flesh. As they submit to the Spirit, so we must acknowledge the work of the Spirit in them and in His Word that they are preaching. Sure, we may cry like children and scream, and pitch a fit to punish our pastor for DARING to rebuke us in an imperfect manner, in what we deem to be less than patient teaching. Children live in that emotional space. Infants employ the same scream for every desire, and it falls to parents to discern the true need of the infant. However, as they grow and mature, we teach them to discern needs from desires and right from wrong. Paul is warning Timothy that the church will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. He is charging Timothy to preach the Word, reprove, rebuke, and exhort. A mature Christian hears the Word of the Lord being preached and humbles himself in repentance to the Word… even when the preacher’s flesh causes an offense. It’s going to happen. We are sinful creatures saved by grace. Know that your pastor is held accountable to God at a higher standard than those who are not called to the teaching ministry. Communicate with your pastor, point out the offense or error in love, being ready to forgive him as your sins are being forgiven you by God.

More Excellent Way

1 Corinthians 13 (ESV) | The Way of Love

13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Don’t confuse Love with the selfish emotion your flesh conjures up in its sinful desires and passions. Love is a fruit of the Spirit of God.

Conclusion

Whether you are exercising biblical discernment in speaking/writing a word of rebuke do what you can to remain substantive, rooted and grounded in the Word of God, and filled with love. Do not let your fleshly tone or word-choice be a stumbling block to your brother. When not speaking, be ready to discern substantive rebuke and correction even when delivered in an offensive tone. Learn to address tone without using it to overturn a substantive rebuke. Do not let your childish offendedness become a stumbling block to your own repentance. We will spend the rest of our earthly days maturing until at last we are set free from these mortal bonds, and born again into the Promise of the Resurrection.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) 20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Podcast | Week in Review 21-25 SEP 2015

Today is Saturday, September 26, 2015.

Welcome to our “Week in Review” Podcast. With this podcast, we hope to provide a summary of our CTT, DiM, Gospel Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday Sermon posts; however, it won’t be a mere reading of our posts. We will share some background information, commentary, post-publishing insights, and perhaps even answer some email. I am battling a cold, so I ask for your patience and forgiveness if I fail to edit out coughs and sniffles.

Podcast Audio

Links to This Week’s Posts

Closing

This is a new feature for us here, so I’m interested in what you think of this feature. Until then, may the Lord Bless and keep you.

Romans 11:33-36 (ESV)

33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”

36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Podcast | Week in Review 14-18 SEP 2015

Today is Sunday, September 20, 2015.

Welcome to our “Week in Review” Podcast. With this podcast, we hope to provide a summary of our CTT, DiM, Gospel Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday Sermon posts; however, it won’t be a mere reading of our posts. We will share some background information, commentary, post-publishing insights, and perhaps even answer some email. Thank you for all who were praying for my son, he’s fully recovered and back to being a rambunctious 5 year old boy.

Podcast Audio

Links to This Week’s Posts

Extra Links Mentioned

Closing

This is a new feature for us here, so I’m interested in what you think of this feature. Until then, may the Lord Bless and keep you.

Romans 11:33-36 (ESV)

33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”

36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge