Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Tunes at Christmas?


I noticed something different this year about Christian music. There appears to be less seasonal Christian music than ever before on Contemporary Christian radio.  I know I do not have a great sampling of Christian radio in my area, however I would expect two of the largest Contemporary Christian syndicated services to be playing more seasonal (Christmas) music.

For example, on my commute home tonight, just two days before Christmas, there was not one Christmas tune within the 25 minute span of time I was in my car. Is there something wrong with that picture? Is it the programming of the syndicated radio services such as Air-1, or has there been no new music released by the Contemporary Christian artists?  I believe the problem lies on both sides of the fence. Many Christian artists are not releasing new Christmas music and stations appear not to be playing aged Christmas music as much as before. 

This leads me to the following questions. Why do song writers write the songs they write, and what criteria do artists use to select the songs they want to include on a CD? Understandably Christmas music will potentially get less airtime than the non-Christmas style therefore creating a smaller revenue stream. But is money the reason we do the things we do? I would hope not.

So if you are a songwriter, music director, or even a station executive think about the following. Now, more than any other time of the year, people need to hear that a Savior came to this world to give people hope. The music should reflect the season to draw our attention to the birth of Christ.

Please don't tempt me to turn the dial to the classic rock station who is playing some form of seasonal music almost every other song. I would rather hear the truth from people who claim to know the truth.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Successful Planning - A Message on Colossians 2:6-15

The following is a message I delivered Sunday October 6, 2013 in the evening service.  Colossians 2:6-16 is a powerful message for Biblical Discipleship.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Colossians 2:7 - Powerfully Supporting the Discipleship Process

Colossians 2:7 - rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught

There are two important words here in the Scripture. One is "rooted" and the other is "built up". One comes from the agriculture mindset and the other comes from the construction mindset. 

The term rooted essentially means to be fixed or to be strengthened. We create in out minds a picture of a tree standing tall and deeply rooted. As you look at a tree you must realize that it is not the branches that creates stability, it is the roots. The roots of a tree create the stability that the tree needs and provides the continual nutrients that the tree needs to sustain life. This leaves the branches to produce the fruits for reproduction. 

The second picture of being "built up" gives us the image of a house or building built on its foundation. The deep and strong foundation of a house allows for a tall building that can withstand the pressures of the environment.  That is the same way we as Christians are supposed to be. We need to be well rooted and built up on a strong foundation to resist the destructive nature of the world.  How do we do that? 

We walk in our training. 

The verse we just read says "as you have been taught". God's Word here is telling us that we need to be rooted and founded in our faith as we have been taught.  This is one area where the church today is experiencing difficulty. Jesus commanded us to go and make disciples, not to go and make decisions.  We have to understand the process and where it ends. Jesus Himself selected 12 individuals whom he poured His life into for almost three years.  We need to do the same, otherwise those who we thought we had may someday disappear. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

ObamaCare - Let's not talk about it.

Many people say they don't talk about politics and religion because those topics are too argumentative. They way I see it is if you don't talk about those two topics you are ignoring the world you live in. Its too easy to just walk away from subjects that either you don't know much about or don't want to face. One of the hottest topics on the street today is ObamaCare - the mystery healthcare plan that was voted in without much knowledge of its contents. As time has passed we are seeing more and more of what is inside this healthcare plan and its effects on people and businesses. I do not find this new idea very pleasing.

I try to follow the political scene especially of the individuals who represent me. An article by Congressman Phil Roe this week illustrated the impact of ObamaCare on individuals and businesses. One of the most alarming segments in the article was the cost impact to young males. It stated the following:

A recent column in Forbes examined the impact of the law on 27, 40 and 60 year olds, as well as the contrast between men and women. In the state of Tennessee, a 27-year-old woman will see her premiums rise 21 percent, while a 27-year-old man’s premiums will increase by a staggering 69 percent. This is just one more example in a long list of how ObamaCare will hurt the very people it was alleged to help. And it gets worse. This law will negatively impact jobs.

To read more of Phil Roe's article, click here. It does a good job of summarizing the current effects of a plan that has not been implemented yet.

It is time to get more involved in what is going on in our government. If not, its possible we can repeat the steps of other leaders that led to the destruction of their countries. 

Blessings,
Doug

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

An Uneasy Feeling

In 1972 a group called the Eagles came out with the song "Peaceful Easy Feeling". The title of the song doesn't mention much about the content but it charted in the top 25 after it's debut. Even to this day one can hear the song being played on classic rock stations around the globe. Music in the 60's and 70's pushed the listener to grasp the concepts of peace and feelings. Peace was introduced on the world stage as an obtainable element of society and any opposition to peace was unacceptable no matter the need or cause of conflict. Bands such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and the Who began to push a new ideologies across the homeland of America. Drugs (introducing artificial peace), sexual freedom, and a stray from accountability were subjects driven into the minds of the youth. The 70's music became all about actions based on feelings and freedom toward the concept of individuality.

As the culture entered the 80's and 90's, significant change from previous generations was exhibited by teenagers and young adults. The concepts of time, care for others, and spirituality suffered devastating blows. The new generations began to exhibit an interest of self over others, and a disregard for spiritual things, especially Christianity. The result of these has changed the personality of the country. No longer are we a people who exhibit a love and care for our neighbor but we have become a people who will sacrifice anything to fulfill selfish desires. The foundations of what was once considered truth has been replaced with relativism, and more recently popular desire. Religion in the public view has been dominated by extremism; and public interest appears to protect radicalism while at the same time removing Christian influence. The resulting image is one of strife, conflict, and unrest.

There are groups of people who still hold true to the Christian faith, but these numbers are shrinking as the days are passing. It is ironic that a generation tagged as promoters of self-reliance and peace (through any means) is a generation that accelerated moral decline. The result is the opposite of the ideologies promoted by their music. With the decay in society there is no longer a Peaceful Easy Feeling, but rather an uneasy feeling facing a day of destruction. It is my prayer that we will once again seek the truth and the giver of life before it is too late.

- Doug

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

FCC Considering Rule Change that may allow for more Indecency on Broadcast TV

On April 1st the FCC issued a public notice seeking comment on "adopting egregious cases policy". What this means is that instead of crossing the indecent line one time, one must be "outstandingly bad" or "shocking" for something to be considered "indecent". This comes on the heels of the Supreme Court's decision in FCC vs. Fox Television Stations in which the Supreme Court ruled that the FCC violated the Fifth Amendment's "due process" clause. It appears the FCC did not provide sufficient notice to the network of a modified "indecent policy" rule change when it tried Fox on broadcasts that occurred in 2002 and 2003. This case with a long history of other cases illustrates a difficult challenge in a rapidly changing entertainment world.

In the last four years the FCC has not issued any indecency fines even though indecency seems to increase. According to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski (who will be stepping down in the weeks to come) the FCC has been battling lawsuits claiming their policies violate free speech. So, what does free speech entail? Does it allow me to say whatever I want to whomever I want, whenever I want? Does expression of nudity on broadcast television fall under the same guidelines as the words that are used? It appears that the FCC is confused concerning its definitions and role. Could it be that the FCC is more concerned about the influence of major broadcast networks than representing the people?

Even though a public notice has been issued, which allows sixty days for comment, not many people will respond. Either they don't know about the request for comment or they don't care. In either case, ignorance or apathy will allow a deterioration in our nation. This appears to be similar to other areas of response to government action.

What are you willing to do? Stand and be heard, or sit and complain. I believe there is only one correct response.

By the way, "egregious" is vague in relation to guidelines and is essentially unenforceable. Where is the line to "outstandingly bad"?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

What is Your Vision?

Not too long ago I posted asking the question "what is your mission". Many church are without a mission directive and it is illustrated in their day to day activities. Mission, however, is very closely related to vision and too often churches are very unclear of what this is as well.  

The definition of a vision as defined by Aubrey Malphurs is “a clear, challenging picture of God’s vision for the ministry as it can and must be”. The vision of an individual or a church must be clear. Aubrey’s example to this would be a blindfolded tourist being able to drive his car around the Arc de Triomphe as a result of the clear vision given to him. This is the type of vision our churches need.  People who follow ministry leaders need to know what they are following and what they are to do.

The vision must also be challenging. People want to be a part of something that has meaning. They also will stick with an organization that challenges them. Things that seem as if they are routine or part of the norm will cause people to develop a lack of interest.

The vision is also to be a picture of what God’s plan is for the church or individual. This vision is supposed to be something that you can see in your head. The author of Ministry Nuts and Bolts says it is something that a leader can dream about and see it in their mind with their eyes closed. The vision is also supposed to be God’s future for the ministry.  It is to be a very clear description of what God wants done in a person’s life and ministry.

The vision is to also be feasible. A person should be able to ask the question “what can this ministry become?” A person cannot think small when thinking about vision.  However, one must be very careful to think so large that the vision is unobtainable.

Finally, Malphurs states that a vision “must be”.  In others words the vision must have a sense of urgency.  It must be something that a person needs to accomplish in the here and now.  Church leaders must be about God’s mission and do whatever it takes to develop and achieve the vision.

Imagine if all of our churches were able to capture the mission and the vision of the church. What could be the results? What would become our opportunities?  It is time churches drop the "we have always done it this way" attitude and find God's mission and vision for them.

After spending some time in "Ministry Nuts and Bolts" by Aubrey Malphurs, I would highly recommend it to pastors who want to get beyond the "weekly" routine and challenge their churches to impact this world for Christ!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

What is your mission?

I have asked the question "What is your mission" to numerous people throughout the day and had little or no response. Of course there is no right or wrong answer here but I was trying to determine if anyone had thought about the question. I believe it is one of the most important questions a person can answer about what drives him or her.

Sadly, not too many people have ever answered the question in their lives. I think that is the problem with a lot of people who decide on a church to join and then quickly fall away. There is no mission to drive them in their Spiritual lives. People look for a church that offers something to satisfy them. They don't look for a place to serve or a place where they can fulfill their mission. The result is an unfulfilling connection that doesn't last.

We have to find our place of belonging and service. This place must be a place that challenges us and provides for us the avenue to fulfill the plan God has laid out for us. This cannot be any organization that allows us to hang our hat, but rather a place that is a match for our mission. We have to know our core desire and the elements that drive us. We have to know the boundaries of Scripture and God's will. It is only then we will be satisfied in knowing we are where we should be and we doing what we must do.

What is your mission? I hope you are not a drifter just looking to be accepted.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Struggles of Churches Today

There are a lot of churches that seem to be struggling at the turn of this decade.  Living in an area where there are churches on every corner I often ask what is the problem that so many churches are closing their doors. I believe that there are a number of reasons.

Many churches have a system of Sunday Morning, Sunday Evening, and Wednesday Night meetings which reflects their entire strategy. Some of these churches are getting in trouble with their only goal being the preaching services that occur during those three times. There is no strategy within the organization and there are no set of core values that appear within the organization. The result is that people are migrating to other churches or ceasing to attend a church at all. This reflects what is happening with large companies like Wal-Mart moving into an area causing the mom and pop stores to shut down.

The small businesses are running into difficulties because they cannot maintain a place in the market.  They are out-serviced and cannot keep up with the demands of the people. The same thing is happening in many churches. People are looking for active children's ministries, dynamic youth ministries, something for every age, small group Bible Studies, a worship experience that includes multimedia, concerts, applicational preaching, and the list goes on and on.  Many churches are having a tough time feeling that they have to compete with the larger churches who can offer the different things.

I believe there is still hope but it involves some attention to some major changes that have happened over the years. In the past 30 years there has been a great paradigm shift in the thought process of the church. If the church cannot see what has happened and openly discuss where the mission field is, then there may be trouble on the horizon. A church cannot have its entire focus around only the preaching ministry. I don't believe just the preaching ministry fulfills the purpose of the church. It takes a lot more.

You see, the needs of our people, all be it spiritual, has many facets that scream of a connection to the church. We cannot ignore the location of the people we want to reach, therefore we have to see what motivates us to do the things we do. What are your core values as a church? Does your vision help focus your church to those values?