Category Archives: Church Issues

Going To Heaven Alone



When I express strong views on a sensitive topic, I’m not surprised when I get pushback from those who see matters differently. But, when I’m rebuffed by those who I think are friends, accepting me and my beliefs, it’s sort of shocking. I had that happen recently and it led me to do some introspection that I’d like to share.

The specifics of this recent occurrence involved a meeting I attended with a small group of people who I’ve worked very closely with for several years. Without inappropriately sharing intimate details of that meeting, let me just say that there was mention of another person who we’ve known through our work, who seemed to be going through a difficult time and that they were attending a Bible study being conducted by someone else we’ve known through our work. Hearing that was a pleasant surprise to me so I responded by saying something like, “I just hope (that person) is truly paying attention at the Bible study.” With that, I sensed a reaction that I later described as a unanimous rolling of the eyes by the other participants.


Since my comment came just from my truly caring about the person we had been discussing, that added to my bewilderment over being chided as I was. So, the following day, I approached one of the other attendees to discuss this. In addition to getting affirmation of my sensing that unanimous rolling of the eyes, I was reminded that there are some settings where discussion of topics like religion and politics is just not welcome. And, beyond that, I was told that I was just more spiritual than the other attendees.

In reflecting on that one-on-one follow-up conversation, I came to the conclusion that there wasn’t really anything in it that I didn’t already know. And, in reflecting on my follow-up self-conversation, I remained sure of my caring intent with the comment that led to my rebuke. To me, though, the disapproval I had received from my friends clearly indicated the need for me to examine how I share my Christian faith in order that it’s received as intended. So, I determined to do just that.


In the course of making this examination, I thought of a point that I’d heard Pastor Brian Brodersen, of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, make in a teaching from 1 Corinthians. As a side note, I ended up going through 11 of Pastor Brian’s teachings to find what I was looking for. At first, that seemed like a nuisance but it turned out that I was richly blessed through a fresh look at much more of God’s Word than I’d had in mind. Anyway, I did find what I was looking for in Pastor Brian’s lesson, entitled “Tending to Our Own Issues”, based on the following Scripture:

I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.” – 1 Corinthians 5:9-13

The point that I had been thinking of was made by Pastor Brian in addressing the part of this Scripture that says, “I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.” Pastor Brian’s comments here were: “ … notice, first of all, that the issues of sin go beyond sexual immorality … notice the other sins included there … we have a tendency to isolate a specific sin and focus in on that sin to the exclusion of other sins … that’s part of the problem we have right now, in the current cultural situation, in regard to homosexuality. I think that we, the church in general, have over emphasized this one sin. If you think about it, as we share the gospel with people, generally, we don’t begin by talking about specific sins. But, with homosexuality it seems we focus in on that particular thing. That’s the wrong way to understand it. I was thinking the other day about the idea that so many gay people have in their mind … I’ve heard them say this, ’You think I’m going to Hell because I’m gay.’ The reality is, they’re not going to Hell because they’re gay. They’re going to Hell because they’re lost. They’re going to Hell because they’re a sinner. They’re going to Hell for the same reason an adulterer is and the same reason a swindler is and for the same reason a slanderer is … because they haven’t turned to Christ to have their sins forgiven.” Continue reading


Filed under Bible, Christian Life, Christianity, Christians, Church Issues, faith, Heaven, Homosexuality, Jesus, Love, Salvation, Sin

A Deeper Look at the Most Popular Worship Song of 2013

By: Trevin Wax


The first time I heard Matt Redman’s “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)” on the radio, I knew I was listening to a song that would soon be sung in churches across the United States. The plaintive melody perfectly suits Redman’s paraphrase of Psalm 103, and the chorus was singing in my head the rest of the day.

According to CCLI’s biannual list of 25 songsreported by churches across the country, “10,000 Reasons” is now the most-often sung contemporary worship song in America.

Since Redman’s song is so popular, I thought it may be helpful to take a deeper look at the main themes of the song, in comparison to the themes of the psalm on which it is based. I enlisted a hymnwriter and student at Belmont University (Bryan Loomis) to analyze the song’s message, and the two of us had a lunch conversation recently about its strengths and weaknesses.

The Chorus

The song begins with the chorus, a paraphrase of the beginning of Psalm 103:

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy Name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy Name

Redman’s chorus is close to Psalm 103, with its focus on the holy name of God and the need to tell our souls to praise the Lord for who He is. Some may wonder if the line “Sing like never before” implies that every worship experience should be utterly unique, unlike anything we’ve ever been through before. I think that interpretation is doubtful. More than likely, this line is a paraphrase of “all that is within me” from the psalm. In other words, like the psalmist, Redman is summoning his soul to fully engage as he blesses the Lord. Going through the motions is not enough.

Verse 1

The first verse is about a new day in which we are summoned to bless the Lord:

The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes.

There isn’t any specific parallel from this verse to Psalm 103, although the psalmist does speak of God redeeming our life from the pit (which may be implied in Redman’s desire to be resolute in his worship, no matter the circumstances). There’s something to be said for worship being one of the ways we fortify ourselves for the trials and struggles of life. Before entering a trial, we pray that God will keep us faithful, so that we will continue to praise the Lord when the hard day is over.

Verse 2

The second verse is most reflective of Psalm 103, and it’s here that the title’s “10,000 reasons” is first used:

You’re rich in love, and You’re slow to anger
Your Name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

Psalm 103 focuses on the Lord as merciful, rich in love, and slow to anger (verses 8-9). The goodness and kindness of the Lord is also a theme of the psalm. The biggest difference between Redman’s song and Psalm 103 is that the psalmist specifically spells out the actions of the Lord that show His kindness and mercy, whereas Redman focuses primarily on the character of God.

I like the 10,000 reasons line because it implies that we are on a deepening journey of discovering different facets of God’s love. Our praise will never end because we will never come to the bottom of God’s goodness toward us. We continue to discover more and more things about God that are worthy of our praise.

Verse 3

The third verse paraphrases the theme of human frailty and mortality in Psalm 103:14-17:

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore

This is one of only a handful of contemporary worship songs that bring us face to face with our mortality.


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Filed under Church Issues, Theology

All Are Precious In His Sight

Barbara Boyle's 3B Class - Warren Elementary - 1955-56


This past week, I got to spend a little time with a First Grade Teacher who is also one of my very favorite people. She was teaching our class to join her class in singing and signing a song called The World Is A Rainbow. This was in preparation for an assembly that, I assumed, was related to the upcoming Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Although it would be an oversimplification (and somewhat outdated) for me to say that her purpose in this was to teach racial harmony, that was certainly a part of what she had in mind.

My first lesson in racial harmony came when I was First-Grade-aged or younger and it took place in church, not in school. Then, the song we sang was entitled Jesus Loves The Little Children. As I thought of these differences in experiences between the kids of today and the kids of my day, that led me to consider the ramifications.


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Filed under Christians, Church Issues, community, Culture, diversity, Education, faith, Family, God, Jesus, Love, race, religion, society

Morality vs. Miracles: Looking at Machen’s “Christianity and Liberalism” Today

From: Trevin Wax

Machen bookIt’s been almost a century since J. Gresham Machen’s landmark work, Christianity and Liberalism, was released. What prompted Machen’s book was the descent of many mainline churches into liberal theology and teaching. Higher critical approaches to the Bible were a factor in this development, as well as scientific discoveries that made the Christian’s affirmation of miraculous, supernatural interventions seem embarrassing.

Keeping Morality, Ditching the Miracles

The trajectory of liberalism one hundred years ago went something like this:

  • We are living in a scientific age of discovery.
  • The miracles we read about in the Bible were written from another cultural vantage point.
  • It is important to maintain the ethical and moral teaching of Christianity.
  • Belief in the literal occurrence of biblical miracles is not needed to maintain the moral center of Christianity.
  • If belief in miracles is embarrassing to modern people, we should deemphasize them in order to extend Christianity into the next generation.

Machen’s point countered this line of thinking: You can’t have the moral teaching Christianity apart from its miracles.

The Issue Today



Filed under Christianity, Church Issues