Blog Archives

What is Wrong with the Church? It’s You, You’re What’s Wrong!


lucy surpriseThat’s right!  I said it, and for God’s sake SOMEONE had to tell you!  You still don’t get it, do you?  Your theology is warped, your view of worship is flawed, you are too worldly, you never share the gospel, you don’t give enough and you certainly don’t serve enough.  I could go on and on and on with your failures to live up to the standards of Christ as I see them.  What is wrong with Christianity you ask?  It is you, you are the problem.

I feel a LOT better now, thanks for letting me get that off my chest!

I want to say that on one hand, I am not being serious.  But on the other hand, there is some truth to what I am saying.  Let me explain… Read the rest of this entry

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Warning: Reading the Early Church Writings May Challenge Your Faith (So don’t it!)


“Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.”

Or so the saying goes. In essence it means that those who don’t consider the past, when making choices in the present, will likely arrive at similarly bad conclusions. This phrase strikes a chord with many. Perhaps it is because we tend to always look forward, seldom pausing to consider the past. Part of our DNA seems to include the belief that the next best thing is just up on the horizon. Who can blame us? Isn’t it often true? At least with technology it is. The next generation computer, or Iphone or IPad is going to be better than the previous one. Things we build seem to improve over time, as we discover new ways of making them faster, smaller, bigger, cheaper, and more reliable.

Many within the evangelical Christian community seem to adopt this same belief when it comes to understanding Christianity and how that applies to our corporate lives. We are often looking for the next thing, God’s next move, a “new and improved, better than the old” way of Read the rest of this entry

The Least Most: Our Top 5 Posts That Nobody Read!


 

The Least Most Read PostYes, it is that time again.  The “Best of” posts are all coming out.  (Find ours here)   Today, as an act of humility, we present our Bottom 5.  They are our least read posts of all time. 

Now, we humbly suggest that they occupy the bottom NOT because they were poorly written or were uninteresting.  No!  We believe you (yes you) were too busy doing other important stuff on the days these came out.

So, go ahead and read one.  Or two.  Heck read them all! 

It is a little bit late but Happy New Year! Read the rest of this entry

God Doesn’t Need Our Worship….We Need It!


nada-zip-zilchNothing

Zip

Nada

Zero

Zilch

Nil

That’s how much our worship of God adds to God.  Our “worship” doesn’t enhance Him and our lack of worship doesn’t take anything away from Him.  Put another way, God doesn’t need our worship.  In fact God doesn’t need anything from us:  our money, our time, our dedication, our service.

Theologians refer to this as God’s Independence:

“God does not need us or the rest of creation for anything, yet we and the rest of creation can glorify him and bring him joy.”  Grudem, Systematic Theology.

The New Testament states it this way:

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.  Acts 17:24-25

Is God An Egomaniac?

Think about this:  If God does not need our worship, why does he require that we worship him and him alone?

Is it because he is the ultimate egomaniac?

Is it because he loves to hear the sound of his own name on the lips of his adoring fans?

No.  When we look at God’s acts in history that is not the picture we see.  It must be something else.

We All Worship Something

Humans are pretty predictable.  We are the ultimate evaluators.  We evaluate everything in life and prioritize them according to what we think is best.  For example, I highly value guitars.  But I value my wife and children more.  There is really no comparison; I rank family higher in importance.  What do I value more than family?  Whatever the answer to that questions is, I may value something even more than that.  I can keep going up the ladder of importance until I finally reach that one thing  I esteem more than anything or anyone else.

Whatever that thing or person is, that is what we worship.  We all worship someone or something, even if it is ourselves!

God Doesn’t Need Our Worship…We Need It!

I submit to you that God doesn’t need our worship; we need the worship we offer him.  I think that is why God demands our devotion.  There is no other thing or being more worthy of our ultimate devotion than Him.  It has been said that we become like that which we worship.  God, in his mercy, created us to become like him.  If that is going to happen, then we must actively place him at the top of our Top Ten List of Things I Value The Most.

Looking at worship this way means leads us to conclude that worship, though directed at God, is truly meant to serve humanity.

We are to worship God, not ourselves.

But God demands our worship, NOT for himself but for the good of his people.

At least, that’s the way I see it.

On a side note, that is one of the reasons I am so passionate and often critical about corporate worship.  It has the potential to truly shape us, but we often squander those opportunities because we don’t understand what worship is and why God demands it of us.

Can You Write a Better Worship Song Than These Song Writers? We Don’t Think So


Enjoy this satirical look at modern worship lyrics. Song writers were challenged to write a worship song using the name of Soap Opera’s as their dominant lyrics. Hilarious, and surprisingly similar to the typical worship song being written and sung in churches across the USA.

Leaders: You Can Make Your Public Prayers More Meaningful


write your prayersWhen I was a new worship leader, I prepared like crazy for Wednesday nights and Sunday Mornings! I made sure the music charts were written out and CORRECT and that everyone had the one they needed. I would play through the songs multiple times on my own and work on any tough parts. I would create interesting modulation changes! This was all before we even rehearsed the team. Probably like most worship leaders, I took it seriously and prepared everything.

Except for any prayers!

Prayer was the one thing I didn’t need to think about ahead of time. I could always pray in front of others. I had no fear of it, loved doing it, and could make it up on the fly. I was good at it. Or so I thought.

Then one day, it happened.

I listened to several of my preaching tapes, and I was horrified at Read the rest of this entry

It’s Official: People Don’t Want to Sing So Much on Sundays


lucy surprise“We sing too much in church!”

Whenever I say this, those who hear me have one of two responses.  The first one is absolute total agreement, usually told to me via a whisper in the ear or a hand written note that self destructs after I have read it.  There can be NO evidence of this solidarity.

The second response is a casual search for matches, wood and rope so I can be burned alive at the stake as a heretic.  OK, so I am exaggerating a little bit about the first response, people don’t actually pass me a note that self destructs, but you get the idea!

If you have spend any amount of time on Not For Itching Ears, then you are aware of our thoughts on corporate worship and the need to reform it.  We thought it would be a good idea to create some polls about various aspects of corporate church life, and see what readers thought.    So, we created several of them.  The results are still coming in, but so far Read the rest of this entry

Saturday Soup for the Soul


sould foodFor Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I Cor. 5:7b-8

9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:9-11

20 Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. I Cor. 15:20-22

The Mystery of Our Faith….


cross-with-nail 2Christ HAS Died,

Christ IS Risen,

Christ WILL Come again!  Amen

Were You There? I Was


Question mark peopleI came across this sermon back in the early 90’s.  Each month, Preaching Today send me a tape of an exceptional sermon.  When I put this one in the old tape deck and started listening, I was immediately drawn into the story of Jesus on the way to the cross and Simon of Cyrene.  By the end of the message, I had been reduced to a weeping young pastor marveling at the scene of The Cross.
 
Not many people know about this moving sermon preached in 1944.   We are letting you all in on it.   I can’t think of a better audio to listen to on this Good Friday.   Hope you enjoy, from all of us over here at NotForItchingEars.com.
 

Were You There?

With emotional brush strokes of dramatic narrative, Dr. Marshall’s gripping account of Simon of Cyrene meeting Jesus on His way to the Crucifixion puts the listener at the very foot of the Cross. After experiencing this message, there is no longer any doubt about the answer to that famous question: We were all there. (Preached on March 9, 1944)

A Must Read Book For Worship Leaders and Pastors: Discover The Mystery of Faith


Mystery of FaithNotForItchingEars.com was born out of my utter frustration with, and sincere love for, the evangelical church.  Having visited congregation after congregation and reading many studies, I  knew something was wrong.

I spent a considerable amount of time pleading with the pastors and  leaders of the church at large to come back to the ancient path.  I challenged many worship leaders to re-think the worship services they led.

The response of many in the worship leading community was less than enthusiastic.  Most people just wanted me to  Read the rest of this entry

Looking for a Cross-centered, Gospel drenched Song for Corporate Communion? Try this…


Looking for a cross-centered, gospel rich song to be used during communion?

Consider using a song I discovered a few years ago. It is called “The Gospel Song”, written by Drew Jones and Bob Kauflin of Sovereign Grace Ministries. It is one of the simplest, most concise wording of the gospel in song form that I know of. Let us know if you like it by taking the poll or leaving a comment.

 

 

The Gospel Song

Holy God, in love became
Perfect man to bear my blame
On the cross He took my sin
By His death I live again


The Gospel Song

You can find a free guitar chord chart by following this link to Sovereign Grace Ministries.

A Christmas Prayer for All


The following prayer is from the largely forgotten deposit of the Puritan Movement of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They testify to the richness and color of evangelical thought and language, as well as their devotion to the Savior. They can be found in a book titled “The Valley of Vision”, by Arthur Bennet. I have included them in this blog so that others can use them in their own prayer life as a springboard to a more faithful walk with Jesus. These prayers are 200-400 years old! They were written in old English, but that should not get in the way if you don’t let it.

Following Him together…
Read the rest of this entry

How Does One Truly Worship God? An Early Church Father’s View


From my view in the cheap seats, it seems that what it means to worship God has become open to interpretation.

Can I worship God any way I want to?

On a corporate level, does church leadership have biblical authority to design a worship service anyway they think is best?

Judging by state of the American Evangelical church, I think most leaders believe the answer is Yes to both questions. And boy do we ever take this permission seriously!

It would appear to this writer that Read the rest of this entry

Reflecting on Keith Green’s Impact 30 years after His Tragic Death


Today, July 28th, 2012, marks the 30th anniversary of Keith Green’s death.  I wasn’t even a Christian back in 1982, and had no clue who this great man of God was.  When I became a Christian in 1985, I was immediately introduced to him.  He had a profound impact on my life.

Back then, contemporary Christian music was in its infancy.  The local Christian book store had an 8′ x 4′ section of a wall dedicated to it.  There wasn’t much! Basically it was Read the rest of this entry

The End of the Beginning is Here


It has been a while since my last real post.  Many of you have wondered out loud if I am  A) dead, B) seriously ill, C) in exile or D) just not writing.  The answer is … 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

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

Does Worship Really Need To Be Exciting?


Over here at Not For Itching Ears, we don’t often repost what others have written.  Today is an exception.  Andrew, over at The Reformed Reader, wrote an excellent article called “Does Worship Really Need To Be Exciting?”   I wanted our readers to get the opportunity to consider that very question.   I have included an excerpt of Andrew’s post along with a link back to the entire post.  And now, our featured presentation:

“I’ve been reading through Kevin Roose’s book The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University.  If you have an interest in learning about evangelicalism and fundamentalism, this book, written by a Brown University student who enrolled at Liberty University for a semester, is a great volume to read.  Informed by George Marsden’s more historical Fundamentalism and American Culture, this is a fun and witty memoir of someone who decided to “act the part” of a Christian fundamentalist for a semester.

I was especially struck by Roose’s contrast between the simple, Quaker worship meetings of his youth and the contemporary worship at a local megachurch.  He writes:

You can see why I didn’t go to [Quaker worship] meeting[s] much.  As a kid groomed on cartoons and video games and Little League, an hour of motionless silence was excruciating.  At Thomas Road, on the other hand, there’s almost too much stimulation.  The stage lights, the one hundred-decibel praise songs, the bright purple choir robes, the tempestuous bellowing of Dr. Falwell – it’s an hour-long assault on the senses.  And all you have to do is sit back in your plush, reclining seat, latte and cranberry scone in hand, and take it all in.  It’s Church Lite – entertaining but unsubstantial, the religious equivalent of a Jerry Bruckheimer movie.  And once the novelty wears off, once the music becomes familiar and the motions of praise become pro forma and mechanized, you start to realize that all the technological glitz and material extravagance doesn’t necessarily add up to a spiritual experience. [emphasis added]

Today, from my perch in the Thomas Road choir loft, my mind wandered back to the little brown house with stone steps.  I think I’d appreciate the minimalist Quaker worship more now than I did as a kid.  It didn’t have Jumbotron screens or a five thousand-watt sound system or a cafe in….”  To read the rest of this great post, follow the link below.

http://reformedreader.wordpress.com/2011/08/27/does-worship-really-need-to-be-exciting/