Words of Wisdom From Francis Schaeffer on his Centennial Birthday

It came to my attention that Francis Schaeffer was born exactly 100 years ago today. Here is a very timely quotation from this influential figure in Christianity:

We as Bible-believing evangelical Christians are locked in a battle. This is not a friendly gentleman’s discussion. It is a life and death conflict between the spiritual hosts of wickedness and those who claim the name of Christ. It is a conflict on the level of ideas between two fundamentally opposed views of truth and reality. It is a conflict on the level of actions between a complete moral perversion and chaos and God’s absolutes. But do we really believe that we are in a life and death battle? Do we really believe that the part we play in the battle has consequences for whether or not men and women will spend eternity in hell? Or whether or not in this life people will live with meaning or meaninglessness? Or whether or not those who do live will live in a climate of moral perversion and degradation? Sadly, we must say that very few in the evangelical world have acted as if these things are true. Rather than trumpet our accomplishments and revel in our growing numbers, it would be closer to the truth to admit that our response has been a disaster.

-Francis Schaeffer, The Great Evangelical Disaster (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1984), pp. 31-32


Keep Brian Free In Your Prayers Today

Last week, Brian posted on Assurance’s facebook page that he’d been having some blood pressure problems accompanied by heaviness on the chest. Today he’s going in for some testing and hopes to share results soon. Meanwhile, keep him in your prayers.

[Update: Brian’s most recent status says that his appointment has been rescheduled to tomorrow, but at the moment the doctor seems to think that the heaviness in his chest may not be heart related.]

Pray for Rick Santorum’s Youngest Daughter

Via Denny Burk, I just saw the news that Rick Santorum’s youngest (Bella) has been admitted to the hospital for unspecified health concerns resulting from Trisomy 18. It’s a miracle that she’s still alive today, as the vast majority of babies born with the illness die quickly. (Watch an inspiring video about her story here.) However, she does have many complications. Our prayers go out to the Santorum family. Santorum has canceled his scheduled campaigning events for today but hopes to be back by Tuesday, the first primary election (in Florida).

I plan to vote for Santorum even though he may not have the best winning chances. If I can spare the time, I may give my reasons in a longer post later this coming election month.

The Week in Review #13: Covering Lauren Talley, Grumbling About the Elephant Room, Raving About Wayne Haun, and More…

*Notice the new title for the open thread. This is because I’ve taken to chatting a little about how my week has gone as well as surveying newsy items. “The Week In Review” seems to capture the spirit of things a bit better. Numbering will be unchanged however.

*I’m a little bit excited, because I just downloaded the backup track for Lauren Talley’s “In Christ Alone” yesterday and recorded my own demo of it. That high note is a little bit evil, especially because I can’t just belt it in more or less chest range like she does (and also ‘cuz it’s a nightmare to mix with a mike as sensitive as the one I’ve got), but after a whole afternoon of trial and error, I FINALLY got it. It only took around ten takes or so. Ha. I’m looking forward to sharing it with y’all some time next week if I can get it uploaded to Godtube. Then again, I was a little sharp on at least one note (possibly two), and there were a couple “Sahara desert” phrases (meaning I was kinda dehydrated and it kinda showed)… so I might scrap it all and start over. Can you tell I’m a perfectionist? πŸ˜€ But for the first day, it really wasn’t bad at all. I honestly liked it. Which would you rather hear? A more polished cover that took a few days to put together, or the whirlwind first-day take? Seriously, I’m curious.

*Steve Green left a comment on my blog. Did you see it, huh, huh? Sorry. I’m still just a little bit pumped. I bet Buddy Greene sent him the link. If so, thanks Buddy!

*Stay tuned for some exciting news about Poet Voices, coming up sometime in the next few weeks.

*Farewell to the Melody Boys. I say it’s better to retire the name than try to pick singers to keep the name going. Experience has shown that doesn’t always work out too well.

*Newt Gingrich all but comes out and says that if you’re faithful to your spouse you’re, um, weird. Further confirmation of why I just can’t bring myself to vote for the man.

*Well, T. D. Jakes is now a Trinitarian. It’s all over. Not the heretic we’re looking for. Move along. Or maybe not?

*Steven Spielberg has a mammoth Exodus epic in the works. No doubt it will be a fine film from every production standpoint, but this is disappointing news in that he promises to make it as graphic as Saving Private Ryan, which will only give obnoxious Christian moviegoers more to snicker and sneer about (you know, the kind who respond to conservatives’ concerns about violence in film by saying, “Well hey if they ever made a movie of the Bible it would be too violent to take your kids, etc., etc., etc.”). Meanwhile, it’s anyone’s guess who Spielberg will cast in the main roles. I thought Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart would be no-brainers, but I must say Dan Phillips’ suggestion of Ed Asner and Barack Obama may take the cake. Then again, he might play it safe and cast Harrison Ford as Moses. Epic action hero, epic action hero, right? Uh… right?

*Speaking of Exodus, I got bogged down around God’s description of building the Ark of the Covenant in my “read the Bible in a year” project and recently had to do some MAJOR catching up. Helpful Mom: “That’s nothing hon, wait’ll you get to Leviticus!”

*My calculus teacher nearly gave me a heart attack yesterday when he said, “You’re all aware that there’s an exam?” IΒ  blurted out, “Today??” He corrected me “Next week.” Not sure how long it took for my pulse to return to normal. A while. It’s next Friday. If the blog sorta, you know, goes dark for a month or so afterwards, you’ll know I didn’t make it. Tell Wes Hampton I had a crush on him… (JUST KIDDING, JUST KIDDING, JUST KIDDING!!!)

*This is pretty dadgum gorgeous stuff…

Errrrhm, Wayne, about that solo album?

It’s an open thread folks!

Should Gospel Singers Preach at People?

This half of the week is going to be very busy for me this semester, so I’ve decided to write something today that will hopefully generate good discussion for a little while. The topic is preaching from the stage. Is it a good thing or not?

Well, certain churches amazingly take the latter view. As most southern gospel fans are aware of by now, Scott Fowler can tell you from personal experience that he’s been forbidden even to speak the name of Jesus from a church platform. On one occasion, the Booth Brothers were told not to sing the song “Under God,” because the unapologetic message of our country’s disregard for the very thing it needs most (God’s providence), might be offensive.

Also, one can observe different philosophies among the Southern Gospel artist community about what approach to take. Some, like Fowler or Booth, or Gerald Wolfe for that matter, are strident and unapologetic about presenting a comprehensive gospel message night after night. Others choose to stick with the gospel in the music in order to be less polarizing. They avoid “preaching.”

By now you may have guessed that I’m a firm believer in “preaching.” I understand the considerations that may lead certain gospel singers to be be less in-depth and specific about the gospel than, say, Michael Booth. At the same time, I find Booth’s approach (and the approach of others like him), to be incredibly appealing, and in fact necessary in today’s culture.

Let me explain why I say this: Either a concert-goer is saved or unsaved. If he is saved, his heart will rejoice to hear the gospel stridently proclaimed. If he is unsaved, he will or will not encounter the gospel at some point in his life. If he does not encounter the gospel in the course of his life, he will die in his sins without knowing the grace of Jesus. If he does encounter the gospel in the course of his life, he will either embrace it or reject it. If he rejects it, he will die in his sins without knowing the grace of Jesus. If he embraces it, he will know the grace of Jesus and live forever with Him.

Following that logic, it becomes apparent that gospel singers have nothing to lose by preaching gospel truth from the stage. In fact, they have everything to gain—souls for Christ. Consider this: The logic behind the “don’t preach” approach is that people will be offended and pushed away from Christianity. I offer this question in response: If they are repulsed by the gospel as preached at a Booth Brothers concert or a Legacy Five concert, but later they find a way to “become Christians” without accepting what they found repulsive there, what exactly have they become? What Jesus have they found? What gospel have they accepted? I tell you now that it is not that same Jesus whom we read of in the pages of Holy Scripture, and it is not that same gospel that was delivered to the apostles and has been passed down through generations of saints. Mankind, through the fall, through his fundamentally sinful human nature, IS offended by the gospel. It is only the very simple or the very young who hear it and accept it immediately with no hint of pride or discomfort.

So I say the response of the gospel singer when they encounter people who have been offended by their presentation of the gospel should be “Good! That means you were listening.” And their reaction to those who express satisfaction that they weren’t preached at should be, “What are we doing wrong?”

Live Video: EHSS Sings New Material

Hat tip to Josh for drawing my attention to the footage from this Portland, Oregon concert on the 20th. Video was captured of several songs from EHSS’s brand new project. First of all, here’s Ian’s version of “Stand By Me.” Even though he needs to spend a bit more time learning the words, he has a great sound. It’s awesome to see the guys breaking out those moves, just like old times. Even Ian joined in at the end… sort of. πŸ˜› The progress Devin has made during his tenure with the group is also very impressive and is on full display with his power tag at the end.

Perhaps the thing that impresses me most about this performance is that it was done entirely live—no tracks, no stacks. In the past, they have always had a track and at least some stacks. But now, what you see is what you get. I appreciate this effort to hold themselves to a higher standard of musicianship:

Also, here is my favorite song from the new album, “Sometimes I Wonder.” It is already striking a chord with many listeners. Enjoy Doug’s signature heartfelt performance:

See also “Any Other Man,” “I’ve Been Here Before,” and “You Are Welcome Here.”

Saturday Survey #12: Sample New EHSS Music, Hear Obama Sing, and More…

*Ernie Haase & Signature Sound have now posted audio clips of all songs from their new project _Here We Are Again_. Go check them out! And take a look around their snazzy new website while you’re at it. I’m no professional web designer, but to me it appears to be a VAST improvement on the old one. Oh and guys… the matching red suits are baaaaaaad. Thumbs up. πŸ˜›

*Speaking of EHSS’s new album, I appear toΒ  have had a sudden influx of new readers because my recent review of said album was included in EHSS’s latest e-letter. To the e-team, thanks for the reference, and to those of you who found my blog that way, welcome! Make yourself at home, and I hope you like what you read.

*At Terry Franklin’s request, Scott Fowler recently sent out a call for anyone who might have memorabilia related to the few nights back in ’91 or so when Terry subbed with the Cathedrals—photos, flyer, etc.—to scan it and e-mail it to him. If I have any readers who could help in this area, by all means send whatever you’ve got to Scott. He and Terry will both appreciate it!

*It’s neat to see Poet Voices back on the road. Nice trio, good history of singers and songs. New promo video here, new website here.

*If I can ever get around to it, I’m hoping to post a review of Declaration Trio’s new project _In Good Hands_ soon.

*There’s a new documentary coming out this year about the gender-cide of baby girls throughout the world, particularly East Asia (China, India, etc.) Watch the trailer, shudder, and pray.

*Obama can sing. Who knew? I’m not completely surprised though—musical talent, like athletic talent, tends to run strong in the black race. Perhaps he should leave politics and become a recording artist instead? We can only hope.

*I have now succeeded in uploading my cover of “Because You Loved Me” on Godtube. Now you can enjoy the (polite cough) unmatched brilliance of my voice WITH a sunset in the background. πŸ˜† πŸ˜† πŸ˜† [NOTE: If you know me even remotely well, you know that was entirely tongue-in-cheek. But since I can sometimes be misunderstood even by people who should know better, I just wished to clarify.]

In all seriousness though, I didn’t think this was completely terrible, considering I gave myself less than a week to learn and practice it from scratch, but if you wanna hear this song SUNG by a SINGER, check this out. Not that it’s anything special, just another young Asian prodigy. Yawn.

*I survived my first calculus quiz yesterday. (It was only two questions long.) I like my prof. I spontaneously murmured in class the other day, “This is so much fun.” His response: “I think it’s fun,” smiling with satisfaction at the full blackboard. I was told I do a good impression of him. I’m a good mimic in general, whether it’s my mom, my dad, Jimmy Stewart, Barney Fife, or Heath Ledger’s joker. Voices and gestures. WEIRD, I know, but I’m actually not kidding. But I guess I’m especially good at geeky people who wear glasses, as a geek who wears glasses. πŸ™‚

As usual, the thread is yours. I don’t get many comments on these for some reason. Go ahead guys… Rave about the new EHSS album! Or the joys of calculus! Or my stunning (or not-so-stunning) vocal chops! I don’t care… just discuss something. πŸ˜€

Gaither and Clean Comedy

I love comedy. I have a strange sense of humor (thanks Mom and Dad). I go around sampling Christian comedians all the time. Others have their particular favorites, but I always have trouble picking a favorite because I can appreciate each comedian’s unique style. There’s nothing I love better than a trulyΒ  hilarious joke told well. Unless… it’s off-color. Those kinds of jokes turn me off. I simply don’t find them funny or appealing. If you’re on a good clean roll, but you stop to drop a dirty joke, it takes a lot of the fun out of it for me.

By and large, the jokes you’ll hear at a Gaither event are family-friendly. Even though Mark Lowry will occasionally come out with something a little crude-sounding (e.g. “He’s little but fertile”), Bill makes a big show of looking embarrassed and disassociating himself from it all, which tends to mitigate any awkward effects and just make it a cute “There goes Mark again” moment.

But just occasionally, something slips in there that makes my eyebrows go up a little. For instance, there’s one joke Bill sometimes tells about himself and Gloria that I’m not so sure about. It’s the one where he says “The other day I asked Gloria, ‘Honey, did you ever in your wildest dreams imagine that we’d be able to go out and work with all this talent and do this for a living?’ ” To which Gloria replies “You were never in my wildest dreams, honey.”

It took a while for that to hit me. Then when it did, I kinda went, “Hm.” Then, “Meh.” Sure, nothing’s stated outright, but what do you suppose Gloria is dreaming wild dreams about in the joke? Playing Boggle with her ideal man? I don’t think so either.

I hesitated about posting this, but I think it’s a conversation worth having. It makes sense to hold people we respect to even higher standards than those to which we’d hold the rest of the world.

Where do you draw the line?

Rare Concert Video: Steve Green and Buddy Greene in Chile, c. 1990

It’s Green and Greene, in Spanish! Ran across this gem a while back and wanted to share it. Buddy was doing the ethno-harmonica thing even way back then! My Spanish is severely limited, but I can make out “Buddy” and “harmonica” in Steve’s intro. πŸ˜€

Also, check out this quartet performance of “Leaning On the Everlasting Arms,” featuring Buddy on tenor, Steve on lead,Β  his brother David on baritone, and a singer I don’t recognize named John G. Elliott on bass. Buddy proves quite dexterous on the guitar in this one.

I recommend browsing around and watching the other parts of the concert. Buddy Greene makes more guest appearances, and I think it’s fun to watch Steve Green perform his smash hits in Spanish. David appears again in a couple duets with Steve. He was a fine singer in his own right, and you can totally hear (and see) the family resemblance.