Category Archives: Worship

Dead People Speak To Me


Dead people speak to me. It’s true, they really do!

Don’t misunderstand me, it’s not that the dead visit me in my sleep, or that I hear voices in my head. I am talking about the writings of the early church leaders, those great men of God who passed from this earth 1700-1900 years ago. Their writings speak volumes to me about what it means to Read the rest of this entry

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An Open Letter to the Worship Leaders in the Evangelical Church


Open Letter to Wroship LeadersDear Pastor,

It is obvious to most of us that you enjoy leading the congregational worship time.  You put a lot of effort into learning new songs, and rehearsing with the band.  The PA sounds really good with those new subwoofers, by the way.  The light show is dazzling, and the fog machine was a real nice touch.  Your guitar solo’s are really smoking too!   I want you to know that we do appreciate you and all you do for us.  Most of us pray for you on a regular basis.

On Sunday mornings, you are always excited to lead us.  It must be a bit of a shock to you that most of us are not as excited about singing as you are.  You probably can’t see us, because of the bright lights in your eyes, but I sit in the back row. I often look around to observe the congregation and usually most of us are not singing.  But it isn’t because we don’t like you or God, or because you can’t sing very good.  Far from it.  We do love God and you are a fantastic musician!  A couple of us were discussing this lack of singing yesterday, and we thought you might want to know why this happens.  Just in case you do, I would like to share our thoughts Read the rest of this entry

A Bible Every Christian Should Own: The Orthodox Study Bible


The $5,000.00 worth of bible study and reference books on my library shelf gives my condition away to most people.  But since you can’t see them, let me state the problem:  I love Bible reference books!  Recently, I added a not-so-well-known study bible to my collection that I think every follower of Christ would benefit from having:  The Orthodox Study Bible.

Here’s Why I Like It:

The Study Notes are taken from the Church Fathers of the early church.

If your library is similar to mine, most of your books have The Reformation as a central reference point.  Believe it or not, there is 1500 years of church history prior to this.  Most of our study bibles and reference works do not take much of that history into account.  I find it incredibly enriching to read a passage of scripture and see how the Fathers understood the passage.  This book allows me to do that without going to another book.  That is great!  The Orthodox Study Bible accomplishes this by giving specific attention to the biblical interpretation of the fathers of the ancient and undivided Church, and to the consensus of the Seven ecumenical or Church-wide Councils of Christendom, held from the 4th to the 8th centuries.  This alone makes the book well worth the $30-40 you will spend on it.

The Notes and Commentary Emphasise the Major Themes of the Faith.

The Trinity, The Incarnation, the Church, and God’s call to His people to live righteous and holy lives in Christ.  It sticks to these key areas and what it does, it does well.

The Old Testament is based on the Septuagint.

This is the only Old Testament I own that is!  I am a big advocate of reading the Bible in different translations because of the clarity it brings.  I have been rewarded by the time I have spent reading out of this one.  I think you will be too.  It does have the books that the Protestant Church rejects.  I am actually glad it does.  The early church accepted them as scripture, The Catholic and Orthodox churches continue to accept them.  We reject them, primarily because Martin Luther decided to eliminate them.  I know the arguments for this, but I still think they are worth reading.  This is the only Bible I own that also has the Apocrypha in it.  The New Testament is the New King James.

It Includes Rich Devotional Material.

I don’t come from a liturgical background and so I am unfamiliar with many of its aspects.  Over the years, I have grown to appreciate it more.  This book includes the Orthodox Lectionary, morning and evening prayers and a host of devotional material.  Again, I have been enriched utilizing them

The Orthodox Study Bible is unique, there is no other Bible like this in existence.  It is historical, helping modern followers of Christ connect with our brothers and sisters of the ancient past.  On top of all this, the Bible is very, very well done.   For these and other reasons, this is a great book to add to your library. It is well worth the money. If you are hesitant, do what I did:  check it out from your local library for free.  I was sold from the moment I held it in my hand!

Is the “Worship” Centered Church Model Bankrupting Christianity?


Bankrupt. Destitute. Impoverished. Insolvent.  Whichever word you choose, they all carry the same basic idea: They describe the inability to meet one’s obligations.  These  words are used to describe people that have been reduced to a state of financial ruin.  We also use the term to depict an individual or organization that is completely lacking in a particularly desirous quality or attribute.   One might be morally bankrupt or spiritually impoverished.  You get the idea.

While sitting in a church service the other day, I came to a conclusion about the church at large, which has serious ramifications for my life.   It was a long time in coming.   I am not sure why it happened that day, but I can’t ignore that it did.  This conclusion was fueled, in large part, by my own journey through the church world:  I have been a senior pastor, a worship pastor, an associate pastor, a volunteer, and a normal guy in the pew who isn’t doing anything.  Over the last three years I have “worshipped” in close to 30 different congregations with varying denominational or non-denominational affiliations.  I haven’t seen it all, but I think I have seen enough! Read the rest of this entry

Our Top 11 Most Discussed Posts of 2011


We had a lot of interesting discussions over at Not For Itching Ears in 2011.  We have listed our Top 11 most discussed posts below.  They cover a wide range of topics from the Seeker-Sensitive Church movement, Calvinism, Solo-Scriptura, Worship, The Best Salsa Recipe in the Blogosphere, American Idolatry and more.  It’s never too late to join the discussion.  Jump into any you may have missed.  Happy New Year Everyone.   Thank you to all who follow us! Read the rest of this entry

The Top Ten Most Read Posts of 2011 from Not For Itching Ears


That’s right, my friends.  The following post contains our own version of the Top 10 list:  The most read posts from Not For Itching Ears this year.  You may be very surprised at the#1 post.  It is not only our number one post for the year, it is #1 of ALL TIME.  Far surpassing anything else!  It is clearly out of character with the rest of the blog and reveals a spicy secret about me… I dare you to try it out.  You won’t be disappointed. Read the rest of this entry

A Compelling Argument AGAINST Sola Scriptura? (The Scriptures Alone) Part 4


I just couldn’t resist reposting this article by Father John Whiteford, who happens to be an Eastern Orthodox priest.  If you are a Protestant like me, then you may have never even heard of the Orthodox church, I know I had not.  I am very grateful that I have discovered them.  The following is a very well thought out rejection of one of the cornerstones of the Protestant Reformation:  Scripture Alone.   Read it with an open mind and then share your thoughts with the rest of us.   I think he makes some good points.  It is a very long article, so I  broke it up into 4 parts.  Here’s the fourth and final part:

Read part 1 HERE,
Read Part 2 here,
Read part 3 here:

 THE ORTHODOX APPROACH TO TRUTH

“When, by God’s mercy, I found the Orthodox Faith, I had no desire to give Protestantism and its “methods” of Bible study a second look. Unfortunately, I have found that Protestant methods and assumptions have managed to infect even some circles within the Orthodox Church. The reason for this is, as stated above, that the Protestant approach to Scripture has been portrayed as “science.” Some in the Orthodox Church feel they do the Church a great favor by introducing this error into our seminaries and parishes. But this is nothing new; this is how heresy has always sought to deceive the faithful. As Saint Irenaeus said, as he began his attack on the heresies current in his day:

By means of specious and plausible words, they cunningly allure the simple-minded to inquire into their system; but they nevertheless clumsily destroy them, while they initiate them into their blasphemous opinions….

Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than truth itself.18

Lest any be mistaken or confused, let me be clear: the Orthodox approach to the Scriptures is not based upon “scientific” research into the Holy Scriptures. Its claim to understand the Scriptures does not reside in its claiming superior archaeological data, but rather in its unique relationship with the Author of the Scriptures. The Orthodox Church is the body of Christ, the pillar and ground of the Truth, and it is both the means by which God wrote the Scriptures (through its members) and the means by which God has preserved the Scriptures. The Orthodox Church understands the Bible because it is the inheritor of one living tradition that begins with Adam and stretches through time to all its members today. That this is true cannot be “proven” in a lab. One must be convinced by the Holy Spirit and experience the life of God in the Church.

The question Protestants will ask at this point is who is to say that the Orthodox Tradition is the correct tradition, or that there even Read the rest of this entry

A Compelling Argument AGAINST Sola Scriptura? (The Scriptures Alone) Part 3


I just couldn’t resist reposting this article by Father John Whiteford, who happens to be an Eastern Orthodox priest.  If you are a Protestant like me, then you may have never even heard of the Orthodox church, I know I had not.  I am very grateful that I have discovered them.  The following is a very well thought out rejection of one of the cornerstones of the Protestant Reformation:  Scripture Alone.   Read it with an open mind and then share your thoughts with the rest of us.   I think he makes some good points.  It is a very long article, so I will break it up into 4 parts.  Here’s Part 3:  Read part 1 HERE  Read part 2 here

C. PROTESTANT INTERPRETIVE APPROACHES THAT DONT WORK

Even from the very earliest days of the Reformation, Protestants have been forced to deal with the fact that, given the Bible and the reason of the individual alone, people could not agree upon the meaning of many of the most basic questions of doctrine. Within Martin Luthers own life dozens of competing groups had arisen, all claiming to “just believe the Bible,” but none agreeing on what Read the rest of this entry

A Compelling Argument AGAINST Sola Scriptura? (The Scriptures Alone) Part 2


I just couldn’t resist reposting this article by Father John Whiteford, who happens to be an Eastern Orthodox priest.  If you are a Protestant like me, then you may have never even heard of the Orthodox church, I know I had not.  I am very grateful that I have discovered them.  The following is a very well thought out rejection of one of the cornerstones of the Protestant Reformation:  Scripture Alone.   Read it with an open mind and then share your thoughts with the rest of us.   I think he makes some good points.  It is a very long article, so I will break it up into 3 parts.  Here’s Part 2:  Read part 1 HERE

FALSE ASSUMPTION # 2:

The Scriptures were the basis of the early Church, whereas Tradition is simply a “human corruption” that came much later.

“Especially among Evangelicals and so-called Charismatics you will find that the word “tradition” is a derogatory term, and to label something as a “tradition” is roughly equivalent to saying that it is Read the rest of this entry

A Compelling Argument AGAINST Sola Scriptura? (Scripture Alone) Part 1


I just couldn’t resist reposting this article by Father John Whiteford, who happens to be an Eastern Orthodox priest.  If you are a Protestant like me, then you may have never even heard of the Orthodox church, I know I had not.  I am very grateful that I have discovered them.  The following is a very well thought out rejection of one of the cornerstones of the Protestant Reformation:  Scripture Alone.   Read it with an open mind and then share your thoughts with the rest of us.   I think he makes some good points.  It is a very long article, so I will break it up into 4 parts.  Here’s Part 1:

If we are to understand what Protestants think, we will have to first know why they believe what they believe. In fact if we try to put ourselves in the place of those early reformers, such as Martin Luther, we must certainly have some appreciation for their reasons for championing the Doctrine of Sola Scriptura (or “Scripture alone”). When one considers the corruption in the Roman Church at that time, the degenerate teachings that it promoted, and the distorted understanding of tradition that it used to defend itself -along with the fact that the West was several centuries removed from Read the rest of this entry

Looking for Cross-Centered Christmas Song ideas for Worship? Check this out


Break out the peppermint lattes and your Bing Crosby CD’s.  It is that time of year again:  Christmas!  As a worship leader, you know what I am talking about.  While everyone else was busy getting ready for Halloween (or whatever you call it) you were thinking about worship music for the upcoming Christmas season.  Or at least you should have been.  Waiting till Thanksgiving to start planning, is a little too late!

As one who has been responsible for leading corporate singing for years, I can attest to how hard it can be to plan for Christmas worship. Four weeks of December singing!   At Christmas time, I always want to have a song that wraps the message of the Cross around the Christmas message.  I like to have one new song that people aren’t familiar with so they have to think about the words as they sing.  I think this is helpful for believers as well as all those people who only come on Christmas and Easter.    Here’s a song that I have liked.  It is called “The Son of God Came Down.”   It is a slow, meditative song that mixes the Christmas story with Easter.    Listen to it below.   You will find it and many other “Christmas songs” on the album Savior: Celebrating the Mystery of God Become Man

Words and music by Doug Plank
As recorded on Savior: Celebrating the Mystery of God Become Man

THE SON OF GOD CAME DOWN
The Son of God came down and laid aside His crown
Born without great renown, this Sovereign One
All holiness and might, all glory shining bright
Have come to earth this night in Mary’s son
O come, let us adore

O Christ the Lord, our hope and Savior
Son of God yet made like us
O Christ the Lord, our King adored
Born a child, our Lord Jesus

Messiah born so small, asleep in cattle stall
Come to redeem our fall, nailed to a tree
This tiny, helpless child through death would reconcile
The holy God and vile, His grace so free
O come, let us adore

© 2004 Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP).

Follow this link for the official free Guitar Chart:  The Son of God Came Down Chord Chart

Follow this link for the official free LEAD CHART:  The Son of God Came Down Lead Chart

Looking for Cross-Centered Christmas Song ideas for Worship? Check this out


As one who has been responsible for leading corporate singing for years, I can attest to how frustrating it has become to find songs that are worth singing!   At Christmas time, I always want to have a song that wraps the message of the Cross around the Christmas message.  I like to have one new song that people aren’t familiar with so they have to think about the words as they sing.  I think this is helpful for believers as well as all those people who only come on Christmas and Easter.   It is harder to find these types of songs, and if you are thinking ahead, the Christmas season is upon you and you are unprepared!  Here’s a song that I have liked.  It is called “Christ the Lord Is Born Today.”   It is an exuberant song, calling us to celebrate the incarnation and pointing us towards the cross.   Listen to it below.   You will find it and many other “Christmas songs” on the album Savior: Celebrating the Mystery of God Become Man

Words and music by Mark Altrogge
As recorded on Savior: Celebrating the Mystery of God Become Man

Christ the Lord is Born Today

How my happy heart rejoices
I can hear the angel voices
“Christ is born” they all are singing
From the sky this good news bringing
Let the earth rejoice
O come and lift your voices

Christ the Lord is born today
He came from heaven’s throne
God is born a man today
To bring His children home
To bring His children home

Death and darkness surely tremble
Light has come to all the people
The Lion comes to crush the serpent
He comes a Lamb, a lowly servant
Let the earth rejoice
O come and lift your voices

God has sent His greatest treasure
Shown His love in greatest measure
Sending Christ to bleed and suffer
Purchasing our joy forever
Let the earth rejoice
O come and lift your voices

© 2006 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI).

Follow this link for the official free Guitar Chart:  Christ the Lord is Born Today

Follow this link for the official free LEAD CHART:  Christ the Lord is Born Todaleadsheet

How Would You Like to See the American Church Change?


What is The Most Important Part of Corporate Worship for YOU personally


Let’s face it, every church-goer has an opinion about this topic:  What they like the most about attending a corporate church service.  Over here at NotForItchingEars.com we are VERY interested in what you think.  It is part of our ongoing study of worship and Christianity.  We need your help here, so please take 45 seconds or less and answer the poll.

Now, about the poll:  We understand that we are asking you to make a choice that Read the rest of this entry

Cross-Centered Worship Songs: “You Are the Way”


This column, “Cross-Centered Worship Songs”, was started as a way to serve the church at large.  I wanted  to introduce  some of the lesser known songs out there so that the corporate singing of the church might be enriched.    I have been posting songs from different genres:  hymns, a capella, contemporary rock, etc.   I try to post a chord chart when possible. I hope you find it helpful.  If you do, please let us know!  Today’s song is called “You Are the Way” written by Pat Sczebel.  It is a simple, easy to sing, gospel proclamation. Read the rest of this entry

Cross-Centered Worship Songs: “Let Your Kingdom Come!”


I have been responsible for leading corporate singing in the church for years.  I know how frustrating it can be to find songs that are worth singing.  Many of the newer songs never mention or even allude to the most important aspect of Christianity:  The message of The Cross!  To be sure, there are songs out there, but it takes time to find them.  I often sift through 40 songs, just to find one new song.   (Worship team members have affectionately, and some times derogatorily, nick-named me “The Lyric Police”.  Call me old school if you like, but If we are going to sing in church, I think the songs we sing to our Savior should be worthy of Him and His work on the cross!

This column, “Cross-Centered Worship Songs”, was started as a way to serve my many worship leading friends.  I hope to introduce  some of the lesser known songs out there that you may not have heard.   Today’s song, “Let Your Kingdom Come”, is an Read the rest of this entry

What is The Most Important Part of Corporate Worship for YOU personally


Let’s face it, every church-goer has an opinion about this topic:  What they like the most about attending a corporate church service.  Over here at NotForItchingEars.com we are VERY interested in what you think.  It is part of our ongoing study of worship and Christianity.  We need your help here, so please take 45 seconds or less and answer the poll.

Now, about the poll:  We understand that we are asking you to make a choice that Read the rest of this entry

Worship: Is it a Life Well-Lived or a Chorus Well-Sung?


We love to discuss those things we are passionate about, don’t we?  Be it our favorite football team (THE Washington Redskins), politics, sports, movies, cultural issues.  Heck we even argue about beer!   Remember the Miller Lite commercials?  For years, Miller Lite drinkers, including the likes of Rodney Dangerfield and John Madden, bickered back and forth on our TV sets.  The argument?  What made Miller Lite such a great beer.   Some said the drink tasted great. Others said it was less filling.  Though they were very entertaining commercials, it makes one wonder:  Don’t we have anything better to discuss than beer?

Of course we do!  Over here at Not For Itching Ears, we’ve been spending a lot of time talking about a topic that is higher up the food chain:  Worshipping God.  If you read these posts (millions of people do each hour) Read the rest of this entry

Has The Church Become the Newest Contestant on “American Idolatry”


“If it feels good, do it!”

This catch phrase, introduced in the 1960’s, has become a well established creed in American culture. It now appears that the American church has adopted a similar slogan: “If it makes people feel good, we should use it.” And are we ever!   Today church leaders of every persuasion are trying all kinds of new methods in order to fill the pews. If something we do succeeds in drawing more people into services then it “works” and is therefore good, right, and stamped with the very approval of God Himself.  Because as we all know, God wants people in pews.  Or so the story goes.  But are these new methods approved by God himself?

One of the things we should be clear about… Read the rest of this entry

Forget About Singing, God Wants Us to Worship Him HIS Way – Part II


What does God consider worship and how can we offer it to Him? I think that is the best place to start a series on worship.   Earlier we talked about this in “Forget About Singing, God Wants Us to Worship Him HIS Way – Part 1”.   God is the one who is worshipped, so he gets to define how that looks. He does this for us in the Bible. A biblical definition of worship is where God tells us what worship means to Him. One of the places He does that is in Read the rest of this entry