valley

I love this song. The choir encouraged us with this song during last Sunday’s service and my heart was being stirred by the Spirit. Rod and Tavi led this song at Junior High Bible Study last night and my heart was bursting.

I’ve been reflecting on these lyrics all week long.  This song communicates what our church is all about.  We are here to fill Southern California with the glory of King Jesus by spreading God’s Word and making Spirit-filled disciples.  I think this should be the theme song of Bethel Grace. I love this song!

Reflect carefully on these lyrics:

Your glorious cause, O God, engages our hearts
May Jesus Christ be known wherever we are
We ask not for ourselves but for Your renown
The cross has saved us so we pray,
Your kingdom come

Let Your kingdom come
Let Your will be done
So that everyone might know Your Name
Let Your song be heard everywhere on earth
Till Your sovereign work on earth is done
Let Your kingdom come

Give us Your strength, O God, and courage to speak
Perform Your wondrous deeds
Through those who are weak
Lord use us as You want, whatever the test
By grace we’ll preach Your gospel
Till our dying breath

Awesome.  Wonderful lyrics.  Is your heart engaged?  That song was inspired by this prayer in the Puritan book on prayer, The Valley of Vision.  Let’s pray this prayer lots:

Sovereign God,
Thy cause, not my own, engages my heart,
and I appeal to thee with greatest freedom
to set up thy kingdom in every place where Satan reigns;
Glorify thyself and I shall rejoice,
for to bring honor to thy name is my sole desire.
I adore thee that thou art God,
and long that other should know it, feel it,
and rejoice in it.

Follow this link to download a free mp3 of the song.  On that page, the Bob Kauflin of Sovereign Grace music explains how the Puritans’ passion to advance the gospel inspired the song.  Get the song while you can.  Get it into iTunes and listen to it lots.  Pray it lots. 

I can’t wait for this Sunday in Mark. We will hear Jesus’ first sermon: “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel.”

~Jeff

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It’s been a busy week, and I haven’t had a chance to post anything. I have come across several good posts on-line though, and since I don’t know which to link to, here’s a smorgasboard of good stuff from around the web (as usual, I found most of this stuff thanks to Tim Challies and Justin Taylor!):

  • John Piper wrote a thought-provoking post entitled, “Why I Don’t Have a Television and Rarely Go to Movies” . This post also includes a wonderful example of humbly confessing sin. 
  • Keith and Kristen Getty have released a new album of modern, celtic-style hymns. Their lyrics are saturated with Scripture and their music is beautiful! You can listen to samples and/or order the CD here.
  • Sovereign Grace Music has released another children’s album entitled, To Be Like Jesus. Read about it here.
  • Tim Challies asked John Bell, pastor of New City Baptist Church in Toronto, to share about his experience sharing the gospel with the gay community in his city. It is well worth reading – to help us think biblically about homosexuality, and to help us in God-honoring evangelism and church life. There is also some very interesting discussion in the comments, especially involving a number of men who struggle with homosexuality but turn from it because of their commitment to Christ. Read this post here
  • If you’re compiling a summer reading list, you might find these 2 posts from David Powlison to be of interest. Powlison is a bilical counselor, professor, and author, and he spent some time this week discussing some of his favorite literature with CJ Mahaney. You can read part 1 here, and part 2 here.  
  • What does Kurt Warner, a Christian who plays quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals, like most about being a professional football player? His very encouraging answer is here.   

Blessings…

~Donovan

Seeds Family Worship

April 26, 2009

Seeds Family Worship:

“Seeds Family Worship was planted when worship leader, Jason Houser, was asked to write some songs to help kids remember the verses from his church’s summer Bible school. Jason began writing songs and singing them for the kids and families at church. The songs were well-crafted, catchy, and taken straight from scripture. Families liked them… a lot. From just a handful of songs, Seeds Family Worship was planted – providing God’s Word set to music for thousands of families all over the world. We are gladdened by stories of worship times at home, scripture memorized, and object lessons taught using Seeds songs. The fifth Seeds Family Worship album – The Power of Encouragement – has just released. In total, Seeds has grown to 58 portions of scripture set to music!”

A Seeds song, from Psalm 55:22:

~Donovan

HT: Tim Challies

Sovereign Grace Ministries is headed up by CJ Mahaney. Their books are excellent, and are especially well known for being gospel-saturated. We’ve used a number of them in our ministry here. Their music, headed up by Bob Kauflin, is the same – absolutely drenched with truth, with a special focus on our Savior and His sacrifice. Their on-line store is having a big sale in February (click here for details), so be sure to check out these great, cross-centered resources:

Books ($7 each for the month of February): Click here

Books in the “Pursuit of Godliness” series ($4 each for the month of February): Click here

Music CDs ($6 each for the month of February): Click here   

Store homepage: Click here

~Donovan

HT: Tim Challies 

Holy Hip-Hop

January 22, 2009

For a post on some of the God-honoring hip-hop Thabiti is talking about, click here.

HT: Desiring God Blog

Matthew’s Begats

December 24, 2008

I think this song is pretty clever. And I think a book that can make it’s theme understandable and enjoyable for kids is well worth checking out! Heather and I will take a look at the book (see it here) and let you know… unfortunately not in time for this Christmas, but well in advance for next. See the song performed live (from a concert in 2004) below:

~ Donovan

Last week I posted about God-honoring hip-hop, including an interview and song by a young hip-hop artist named Trip Lee. Trip is an active member of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This church appears to be a great example of what a Christ-exalting church looks like within inner city, hip-hop culture. Watch this video for their core values:

 

         

I think its very easy for us to make judgments based upon the surface level, and I have no doubt that some Christians would be hesitant about a church like this. In externals it may not seem “traditional” or “conservative”, but in it’s theology, values, mission and essence, this is a biblical church. In fact, this church is far more biblical and God-honoring than many, many churches that we might call “traditional” or “conservative” based upon surface level features… More on that in another post.

 

~Donovan 

 

On a side note: One of Epiphany’s pastors is William “Duce” Branch. He is better known as “The Ambassador”, a solo hip-hop artist and one of four members of the group, “The Cross Movement”.  

                 

I really didn’t intend on posting one controversial post after another… : )

I know many Christians are very leary of hip-hop culture and hip-hop music, and I understand many of the reasons why. Much rap and hip-hop is packed full of sin-exalting content, and the culture seems to be dominated by the same idols exalted in the music. The truth however, is that every culture has aspects that must be rejected, some that can be tweaked and “redeemed”, others that are neutral, and still others that are good. As with any other culture, Christ can be exalted in hip-hop culture.

There is an important principle I learned about in my missions classes at college – one of taking biblical truth into a culture, and allowing it to transform that culture and be expressed within it, rather than imposing one culture upon another. We all apply this on some level – it’s why we’re okay with men wearing something other than robes and sandals (like Jesus wore), and why we don’t recline around a table every time we enjoy the Lord’s Supper together (as Jesus and His disciples did). We understand that these externals are not inseperably tied up with the core of the gospel. 

What does a Christ-saturated believer in hip-hop culture look like? And what does he rap about? I encourage you to watch this interview with Trip Lee, a young Christian hip-hop artist: 

 

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Pastor Tim Interviews Trip Lee on Vimeo“, posted with vodpod

 

The song below is an exposition of Philippians. It is as packed with biblical truth as any song I’ve ever heard, in any genre:

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There’s no better way to face trials than to focus on our awesome God and savor His greatness… I am convinced. And I am convinced that this is the primary reason God allows His children to go through trials – so that they will set their sights fully on Him and realize that He really is all they need. Consider 2 Corinthians 1:8-9:

 “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”

I remember hearing my good friend, Gunner, preach on that passage when I was a sophomore in college. I’ve passed on an illustration he used in that sermon probably dozens of times: “The stars are always in the sky, but we can’t see them when we stand in the city, surrounded by other lights. It’s only when we’re in the desert, when we have all those other lights stripped away, that we see the stars for all they always were: glorious, gorgeous. God is always great and glorious – but sometimes we need everything else to be stripped from us in order to see Him for being as great and glorious as He truly is.”

I remember a time when I was absolutely rocked. I remember singing along with a CD in my bedroom, at the top of my lungs, seeking to set my eyes on God and find joy in Him. And I remember tears of joy as I sung these words and realized their truth on a level I never had before:

“Perish every fond ambition,
All I’ve sought or hoped or known.
Yet how rich is my condition!
God and heaven are still my own.”

Truly, to have God – great, glorious, wise, loving and holy – is everything. Will we magnify God (like a telescope does – seeing Him as great as He actually is), or magnify our trials (like a microscope does – seeing them as greater than they actually are, in light of an awesome, all-powerful, all-glorious God)?   

~ Donovan

I’m going to do a series of posts about how God uses trials in our lives… This post is sort of a “sneak peak” into the subject…

Ginny Owens is blind, a succesful Christian musician, and a beautiful example of trusting God in all of life and prizing Jesus above all else… Read the lyrics to her song “Wonderful Wonder” below:  

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