care more than some think is wise; risk more than some think is safe;
dream more than some think is practical; expect more than some think is possible


Emotionalism = Hype = Bad News Bears

In recent months & days, I have conversed numerous times about the problem of emotionalism as a central theme in churches' musical worship, & in the realm of Christian "worship" music in general! To call a particular thing, such as music, "worship" is a problem in & of itself, but thats a bit different then what I want to address here.

This phenomenon is not new. JI Packer in Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God states (in reference to mass evangelism events), "...the tendency to indulge in long-drawn out wheedling for decisions & deliberate use of luscious music to stir sentiment, tends to produce 'conversions' which are simply psychological & emotional upheavals, & not the fruit of spiritual conviction & renewal at all." He wrote this book in 1961, so emotionalism as a means of "encountering" God has been used for at least 50 years, & I presume longer. Granted, in the context that Packer is referring to it was the big tent revival meetings, but the point remains.

What gets me, is the same problematic appeal to emotionalism is made in many highly respected  churches today as well. My church during college was - in my opinion - notorious for long-winded "altar calls." A classic Baptist song would be played, at a begrudgingly slow tempo, at times lasting at least five minutes, maybe up to 10 (although I never timed it). Some of the songs were Have Thine on Way Lord, I Surrender All, & the like. Please do not get me wrong, I love these songs, in the right context!

My church now follows in an emotional channel of worship. The music is big, loud, up beat with melodies & rhythms that move the emotions of the congregation. I am not claiming the worship team sits around planning how to best pull emotional heart strings during the musical worship time, but the songs they choose are inherently that way. To clarify, I am beyond grateful for the talent & hearts of those who lead my current church in our musical worship. They do a fantastic job!

However, there remains a but attached to all this. It is simply not right, the emotional appeals that is. In my own experience, I find often I leave ready to conquer the world for Christ ... only then to experience the inevitable let down of an emotional high. Now, if after the preaching I am stoked & ready to conquer for Christ, I am far last weary of encountering an emotional high, because in the midst of challenging & convicting sermons, its quite a bit more difficult to illicit such emotional responses, although not impossible.

One reason I am opposed to emotionalism in worship is, as Packer mentioned, it can illicit a false repentance, a false turning from a life of sin to Jesus, a false conviction & conversion. False responses to the Gospel of Christ are the last thing any follower of Christ desires, so I believe. Also, let me clarify, NOT ALL emotional responses are "psychological & emotional upheavals." I presume often times many emotional responses are true responses, if those emotions are brought about by the pin-point convicting work of the Holy Spirit, who in light of Christ reveals to men and women their true estate before perfect righteousness! But if it is the music that spurs on the emotional response, then I am weary.

Lastly, if emotional appeals cause people to worship in such a way that is not entirely truthful, or honest ... then is it not against Scripture? John wrote "God is spirit, & those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24), so is there a conflict here? Maybe that is a bit of a stretch, but at the very least it is thought provoking.

What do you think? What is your experience with emotionalism in church and in worship?



I am not writing this for sympathy sake, but because the Lord has offered me a reminder these last two days about my life, and the realities of things in my life.

I am sick. Not so sick to be in the least concerned, but enough so to feel like crap. You know, run of the mill stuff - stuffy head, cough, fever, achey all over - which all add up to make me feel bad.

However, instead of giving in to the temptation to be placid & "rest" all day (which at times feels like a lousy excuse to be lazy), I am going to attempt by God's grace to think hard all day, to use my mind and heart as I consider His word, commune in prayer, & read another book(s), & thus I think make the best use of this day! I think this plan will strike a distinct balance between resting & making use of these evil days as Paul writes, "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil" (Eph 5:15-16). So that is my plan for the day.

Now, here are the real lessons.

First, one of my friends who is also a double lung transplant recipient is laid up in the hospital with pneumonia, which is a fairly dangerous place to be (think compromised immune system). I am not there, & have not been close since I was transplanted, & by God's grace I pray I won't ever be.

Second, I have brothers & sisters in Christ around the world who are being tortured for following Christ, who are proclaiming to the face of their persecutors that they are complete in Christ & ready for death!  Thats bold! So, my prayer is that this fever & achey back make me mindful of my brothers & sisters who are bearing the death of Christ, who are filling up the cup of His suffering so that He might inherit his reward, mean, women, & children from all ethnos. the world over! Further, I pray that my achey body reminds me of Christ Himself, His suffering - both physical & spiritual - that He bore on behalf of me and all men in all places throughout all times!

So, in light of this, my fever-ish and achey body does not seem like that big a deal. And if somehow by having a virus, or cold or whatever it is I can glorify God, then so be it. That sounds like a really bold statement to make, but in light of God's grace which is endless and infinite, its not really.

So, perhaps life is fragile, which is why we need be much more mindful of eternity's nearness!


G is for Goodness

Have you ever found yourself in a season of life when you were just staggering backward trying to comprehend God's goodness? When you gazed upon your life, & in awe, fell upon your face to cry out to God in gratitude flowing from the deepest parts of your soul? When words like whoa, wow, overflowing, over-running,  thankful (-ness), grateful were the words that most filled your vocabulary? The first two of those in response to God's work in your life, the second two describing your heart, affections, & the cup of life given you, & the last two being themes of your prayers & conversations.

This is where I am, right now. Needless to say, its a wondrous season to be found in, & I am so amazed & blown away by God, how exceedingly gracious & good He is, especially in light of me not even remotely coming close to deserving anything except hell & death!!! The Bible is very clear, "Every good gift & every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change" (James 1:17), which is to say - ANY & ALL good experienced in this life is the overflow of the work of Christ in redeeming men to God! God is good. And in a reconciled relationship with Him, through Christ, men experience the just & holy Creator of all in an intimate way!

Needless to say, the epitome of all interaction with God in relationship with Him begins & ends at the cross. If the cross is not there, then we have no redemption. But, if the cross is central - & IT IS - then we experience the heavenly blessings of God here & now, for the Kingdom is now (& not yet)!

My life recently has been a reflection of these blessing in very vivid ways, for which, my heart if overflowing with gratitude & thanksgiving to God.

- A job, where not only is there mutual encouragement & challenge among brothers & sisters in Christ, there is so much opportunity to be sharing with those outside the covenant, to speak words of grace & love to them, to introduce them to my Savior & Lord.

- A calling in life that is so far beyond me, that when it is fulfilled, all will look on & say,  "Only by God!" And right now, I am in the midst of witnessing the formation of the actual application of this calling. Its a process & not all at once, but it beginning!

- Opportunities literally falling into my lap for overseas work - albeit short-term for now - I am more than grateful for it. Once I understood the Lord was calling me to settle in the Ham for a while, I assumed that meant no travel. WRONG!!! And what a great way to be wrong! He knows my desires for overseas experiences, & He is giving them to me in His perfect & good timing!

- This is the biggest & best of all thats happening right now. Her name is Meredith!!! I don't know that I need to say anything else, but I will. Its companionship. The Lord crossed our paths a little while ago, & from day one it seems as God has simply been knitting our lives together, & I can speak for both of us, we are supremely grateful to God for His goodness in our lives, for the richness each has brought into the other's life.

God knows what we need, when we need it. He is Goodness. O God, be magnified in the grateful heart you have placed in me, & may my lips be quick to share the wonder of who you are with all I see!!! Indeed your love is everlasting.


Hope of Gentiles

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world
- Eph 2:12 -

This verse by itself is the worst thing a Gentile could ever hear. Its a proclamation of death, without room for misinterpretation or misunderstanding, it is too blunt and straightforward for that to occur. Consider what Christ said in John 16:33, "In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." In light of this, we already know apart from Christ no one stands chance in this world. Note the first point of the above proclamation is "separated from Christ," so, good luck in this world Gentiles! Christ also states, "Before Abraham was, I AM." Here, Christ tells us in no uncertain terms that He and God are one. So, if Gentiles are separated from Christ that means they are without God as well. Considering John 16:33, its intriguing that the proclamation states, "without God in the world," as if to rub salt into a wound. Needless to say, none of the above matters in light of eternity, where those Gentiles who are "alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise" will forever and ever face the full force wrath of God, paying the penalty of not turning to Christ for all eternity. Thats means in 10 million years, they will still be paying for their sin.

But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ
- Eph 2:13 -

Notice, in verse 12 it states those who are separated from Christ are without hope. Now in verse 13, hope is born and not only that, but it is an overwhelming and conquering hope, because its name is JESUS CHRIST!!! He has indeed overcome the world, and not just that but sin and death too. He is able to bring near those who are far off. Thing is, today this applies to all men, women, and children; not solely to Gentiles. 

My Jewish brethren, O please awake to the truth of the Sacrificial Lamb of God, Jesus! O Muslim brethren, please awake to the Lordship of the greatest Prophet of the Qur'an! O men of all nations turn from emptiness and conceitedness and find in Christ the forgiveness of sin through faith by His grace and mercy poured out on the cross before a Holy God who demands righteousness, based on His own righteousness! Find the great wealth of life in living to bring glory and honor to the Most High God, for in His glory we find our ultimate meaning, purpose, and satisfaction! He is good and gracious, but He is just and holy as well; therefore sin cannot and will not go unpunished! Either we acknowledge - by God's grace - that Christ is sufficient to pay the ransom on our souls, or we will pay that ransom for all eternity in hell bearing the full force or God's unending wrath. Annihilation will never come.

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.



Instead of an outward performance based "faith," we allow God to move & work in our hearts via His love, grace, and might to create in us the outworking of His love in real & tangible demonstrations of His love. What if we did that, if Christ-followers gave up on self and cried out for mercy to God, for Him to move in His people - the Church - that we might be the hands and feet of Christ to the world? I simply ask, what if?

Jon Foreman has condensed this thought really well! It's his song Instead of a Show...

I hate all your show & pretense
The hypocrisy of your praise
The hypocrisy of your festivals
I hate all your show

Away with your noisy worship
Away with your noisy hymns
I stop up my ears when you're singin' 'em
I hate all your show

Instead let there be a flood of justice
An endless procession of righteous living, living
Instead let the be a flood of justice
Instead of a show

Your eyes are closed when you're prayin'
You sing out along with the band
You shine up your shoes for services
There's blood on your hands

You turned your back on the homeless
And the ones that don't fit your plan
Quit playin' religion games
There's blood on your hands

Instead let there be a flood of justice
An endless procession of righteous living, living
Instead let the be a flood of justice
Instead of a show
I hate all your show

Let's argue this out
If your sins are blood red
Let's argue this out
You be one of the clouds
Let's argue this out
Quit fooling around

Give love to the one's who can't love at all
Give hope to the ones who've no hope at all
Stand up for the ones who can't stand at all

I hate all your show (4x)

Instead let there be a flood of justice
An endless procession of righteous living, living
Instead let there be a flood of justice
Instead of a show
I hate all your show

If it hits home, then I think its probably true. What is your response? What does it reveal about your spiritual life? I know I am working through it, and by God's grace, my life will be a flood of justice, an endless procession of righteousness, and no longer a light-hearted, cavalier show for or to God.


Homemade Aquaponic System - Update

Not much has changed with my system. Still no fish. Bummer. But, I have adjusted several aspect of the growbeds, or more precisely, the bell siphons. The timing is perfect now!

Initially I had 1/2" standpipes, with a 1" bell pipe on each, and a 2" gravel guard around each bell siphon (see picture). Several problems arose from this set up. Because the gravel guard was so tight fitting, it meant the gravel was, basically, right next to the bell siphon. This equated to not much air available to break the siphon. Thus, the siphon eventually reached an equilibrium with the input flow rate.

Now, I have cut the height of the standpipes about a 1/2" below the surface level of the pea gravel grow media. I have also replaced the 2" guard with a 3" guard! This pushed the gravel back a bit allowing air to flow straight down to the siphon and break it, making my grow beds fill up again, & again, & again. Thus, its finally an ebb and flow, as opposed to an ebb (once ) and then flow (continuously).

Not the space between the bell pipe & the gravel guard

Sown: Basil (front), Cilantro (2nd row), peppers (3rd) & bibb lettuce (2nd  grow bed)

Cilantro babies (prior to adjusting stand pipe height).
I sowed a few cilantro seeds early on, as well as basil and peppers. About two weeks later I sowed some Butterhead lettuce seeds. Two days ago I sowed the remaining spaces in both growbeds. Now I have got to get fish! I have some connections to get some tilapia for free! But first the system is due a heater ... tilapia don't care for 62oF water.

The above was written a weeks ago.

As of five days ago, I bought an aquarium heater. Water temperature is now 72oF! So tilapia are on the horizon! More to come.