Archive for June 2010

Real Men Sing

June 21, 2010

When I was a kid people (mainly goons) often made fun of little boys like me who sang in choir.  Since I had three buddies from my football team who also sang with me in the church children’s choir, I was able to stand up to whatever taunting came my way.  I really loved to sing, and to hear the sound that we could make when we worked to sing well.  As I grew spiritually as well as musically, I came to find more and more meaning in music-making that offered praise to the Lord and that provided outlet for declaring my faith in Him.  By the time I was a teenager, I was unashamed to sing in my youth choir, and even to sing solos and play guitar or trumpet when given opportunity.

Fast forward to recent years and opportunities to reflect on the manliness of singing worship.  Father’s Day has reminded me how much I miss my dad.  It has also caused me to recall the incomparable inspiration of standing next to my dad when singing hymns of worship.  He sang melody awhile and sometimes switched to the bass line for a verse or two.  Though 6 foot is not that tall, Dad was a giant to me, and never more so than when he sang through tears as the truth of Gospel touched his heart and he sang of the grace that saved Him, saved us, and that he so enthusiastically proclaimed through his whole life through his preaching.  Dad taught me “Man things.”  I don’t mean hunting and fishing or building something.  Dad tried a couple of those things with me, probably even because of me, but was usually distracted by visiting with someone during the excursion.  The “man things” I am talking about are deeper truths – things like:

            That real strength is often demonstrated in kindness

            That the greatest power of all is love

            That being self-made is a myth, any good thing is a gift of God’s grace

            That the scripture is true in practice, “A gentle word turns away wrath” (Prov 15:1)

Through his model and his joy in its expression, my dad also taught me that real men sing.  Even though he always pointed to Mom as being the musician, he had a nice baritone bass solo voice.  His enjoyment of song helped to free me to love music and singing.

In our day when there is a certain “look” to be one of the cool worship leaders, it is important that we understand where the power of our song and singing lies.  Real men who have been saved by a real grace from a real Savior have plenty of reason to sing from the depths of our soul.  As long as we are singing the truth of the Gospel of Christ we do not need to turn to anything less than the true power of His presence to attract, to impact, and to transform lives.  In fact, anything less is artificial.

Many of our churches are trying to engage men in “manly activities.”  We have wild game dinners, men’s meetings where a testimony is given by a sports figure, and golf outings for the guys of our fellowships.  Churches organize trips to events where biblical teaching about manhood is celebrated.  There is no doubt that disaster relief ministries provide a wonderful outlet for men to exercise certain skills often associated with the male gender.  These activities are all well and good, and important as applicable for effective ministry to men in our church and community.  But let’s stop to consider how music can aid spiritual formation in men of our congregations, and how men’s participation in music making can model Christian community, spiritual sensitivity, and gratitude for grace.  It is quite likely that pastors and other church leaders would agree that these qualities are crucial to healthy church involvement for men, but it is also likely they will not know how music ministry might be able to participate in this process.

Music Ministers, why not sit down with your pastor and help him evaluate the opportunity of music involvement and participation as a disciple-making ministry for men of your church.  Help him to know how he can encourage and even demonstrate such participation.  Such a conversation might eventually provide your choir with more tenors, basses, and baritones, and/or might enhance the freedom of congregational song as people recognize that “real men” sing!

In joyful song!


New Book Released

June 16, 2010

After months of writing, editing, communicating with a publisher, friends, and colleagues, the book has finally been released.  The book focuses on an area of worship ministry about which I am very passionate, and convinced of a need for corrective in American culture especially.  However, now that the release has taken place I am more convinced than ever that any good that comes from this process and project will be by the work of the Holy Spirit.  He alone can bring renewal to a life, a home, a church family, a people.  Congregational singing can both aid renewal and certainly can reflect renewal, but it in and of itself will never bring renewal.  Our need for renewal in evangelical churches in Americais paralleled by the need for spiritual renewal in America herself.  That seems to me to be no coincident.

The book is presently available through and will soon be available through and others.  My prayer is that God would use it to speak to worship leaders, pastors, church leaders, and other worshipesrs to deepen worship expression and understanding.

CrossBooks Publishing : Book Details

June 16, 2010

CrossBooks Publishing : Book Details.

Worship Renewal and the Great Commission

June 14, 2010

I apologize to non-Southern Baptists who read this blog, and have limited interest in SBC life and politics.  I trust my writing has little if anything to do with politics, and all to do with seeking to be faithful to biblical truth, historical integrity, and Kingdom principals.  I will not attend the 2010 Annual SBC Meeting in Orlando, and have not attended for many years.  Any readers are encouraged to respond with impressions and reaction to what is taking place in our convention.

This week’s Southern Baptist Convention will include taking action on a report offered by a task force assigned by a previous convention to consider ways Southern Baptists could re-emphasize the foundational teaching principle of Christ in what we know to be the Great Commission.  The paragraphs below are reprinted from the May 26 issue of our state paper, The Baptist and Reflector.  I encourage those who are worship leaders to consider how our work in song selection, and use of worship material effects the disciple-making activity among and from the people we serve.

The conversations surrounding the recent Great Commission Task Force Report reflect passion for ministries and mission at all levels of Baptist life. Through these conversations no one, to my knowledge, has indicated disinterest in the fundamental concern that Southern Baptists renew efforts to follow the command of our Lord voiced in Matthew 28:19-20. To the contrary, the need to see people, churches, associations, state conventions and the national convention itself revived in the application of our whole selves to the fulfillment of this command has been re-emphasized at every hand. Though much discussion has ensued concerning re-organization of denominational entities, shifting of resources and changing labels, the real crux seems to me the place where the task force’s introduction began – the need for confession, repentance and renewal among us. The opening call emphasized our need of the Lord Himself. Seems crucial that we continue to confess our desperate need for God’s intervention through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. It is something for which we must fervently pray. As the hymnwriter prays, “May each soul be rekindled with fire from above.”

As often noted, the Great Commission was delivered in an atmosphere of worship. Upon Jesus’ appearance to the disciples the Scripture says, “they worshiped him” (Matthew 28:17). The instruction Jesus gave to go into the world, to make disciples and to baptize, was given in His very presence. The command came with a promise of His continued presence.  I trust that every Tennessee Baptist pastor and worship leader would affirm that any power to evangelize, make disciples or baptize comes directly from the Triune God in whose name believers are baptized. It is the presence of the Lord Himself upon which we depend to transform life. Spiritual potency never stems from our attempts at adaptation of the gospel to contextual circumstances, no matter how clever or well intentioned. I have concern that too often our worship (preaching, music, dramatic and visual presentation) depends on novelty and modern marketing practice rather than the pure simplicity of the gospel. Just as past calls were voiced for the theology taught in our schools and preached from our pulpits to return to biblical fidelity, so I believe we need a clarion call to renew commitment to drench our worship in the proclamation of Gospel Truth in Christ, including every element: singing, preaching, reading, presentations and ordinances. We need Christ-centered worship in the coming and going of every gathering of the church that we dare to call worship.

I have heard many preachers confess that we get much of our theology through our songs of worship. I find this to be true as both formation of what we believe, as well as reflection of what we believe. In other words, we are implanting theology into minds and hearts through what we sing as worship, at the same time that we are giving indication of what we believe through our worship singing. This reality should give all church leaders cause to reflect deeply and prayerfully upon what our churches are singing as worship. Careful review of those songs we sing most frequently as worship expression may help pastors, worship music leaders and others gain some grasp on both where our people are in their Christian journey, and some indication of how they may have arrived at that point. Consistent singing about self, even self worshiping, may be pointing worshipers in a wrong direction whereby they are really just worshiping themselves, or even worshiping their worship. Being emotionally inspired may be the worship objective for many living in a consumeristic culture. Such worship is far short of an engagement with God on His terms through His means.

As the Southern Baptist Convention meeting nears and prayerful attention is given to a call toward another resurgence in Baptist life, this one seeking a clearer focus to follow the direction given by our Lord in the Great Commission, I would hope that worship and worship singing would not once again be overlooked. I, of all people, am certainly not calling for some kind of worship music police, God forbid. Rather, as a worship ministry practitioner and denominational servant, I am calling for all church leaders to pay more careful attention that the gospel of Christ remains central to Baptist worship in every aspect of its practice. Let our worship music lift up Christ! Let our presentation of art in whatever form lift up Christ! Let us trust the power of the gospel, spoken, read and sung in worship to draw men and women to Christ! Let us pray the Holy Spirit will do His work among us to bring us to Him, to follow His way, and at once bring us to unity as He alone can do! Let us  love Him supremely and follow His command to bring the world to Him all for His glory! 

Committed to follow our command and commission,


Westminster Bookstore – Reformed Books – Low Prices – Flat Fee UPS Shipping – Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns: How Pop Culture Rewrote the Hymnal (Paperback) Gordon, T. David 9781596381957

June 10, 2010

Westminster Bookstore – Reformed Books – Low Prices – Flat Fee UPS Shipping – Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns: How Pop Culture Rewrote the Hymnal (Paperback) Gordon, T. David 9781596381957.

Marriage and the Church

June 9, 2010

The scripture makes much of the connection between the marriage of a man and woman and the relationship of Christ and His Church.  References to weddings in scripture include a very special parable (Matt 22:1-14), the first recorded miracle of Jesus in the wedding of Cana (John 2:1-11).  Some Baptists struggle to accept this miracle that involved turning water into wine that would aid the celebration (party) and enhance the fun of a wedding reception.  In Rev 21:9 we see the picture of the Bride and waiting bridegroom.

I admit that it is difficult not to write pages of reflections on the marriage of my only daughter.  She was a radiant bride last Saturday as she made covenant with her new husband.  I have to say, though, that reflection upon the events of Saturday do not only bring tears to this daddy’s eyes because of the sentimental connections with my precious little girl, or the joy of knowing she is now married to a fine young man who knows Christ as Lord and intends to build their home on Him.  My joy also stems from the snapshots that are in my mind’s eye as I think about the bride and groom exchanging loving glances before, during, and following the ceremony.  I am moved by the mental picture of the groomsmen and bridesmaids all standing at the altar, looking on as the bride and groom exchanged vows, spoke words of final covenant, and looked longingly on the marriage event itself that unfolded before them.  This picture is that of Christ and His Church!  This picture is worship in the midst of rite.  As union is spoken into reality in the Name of Father, Spirit, and Son, so promise is invisioned that one day the Church (bride) will come as called to her husband (God).

I have been doubly blessed to observe a service of worship that saw my family made more complete as my daughter (youngest child) was wedded to a fine Christian young man.  I have also been freshly reminded that we, the Church, are the bride adorned for her husband.  We must live as Victors, knowing our husband, the Christ, will continue redemption and win ultimate victory.  The picture of the marriage feast should enliven and inform our song. 

Considering my daughter’s wedding Saturday night, my focus has been up close and full of detail.  I have seen my “little girl” looking beautiful, tears in her eyes indicating her full emotion, and I see her beautiful smile that lets me know she is embarking on happiness for which she longs.  When I back up a bit and allow the focus to be blurred a bit to where I do not so much see my daughter, I instead see a bride robed in white and a groom dressed in tuxedo, each adorned with flowers and surrounded by stained glass and a full compliment of wedding party members.  I see a wedding feast that lacks for nothing.  When I consider the ultimate wedding feast I am overwhelmed.

Christ, our Lord to Thee we raise;

This our hymn of grateful praise!”

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