Church Posts

The Devil Has no Right to all the Good Tunes

I recently found this song online that is a cover of a Katy Perry song, Teenage Dream, performed by Boyce Avenue. In this version, he sings it from a guy perspective and changes a handful of the lyrics. I would argue that his version is far more romantic, and surprisingly, better. This goes against what I generally think happens when someone changes the lyrics to an original song.

This idea actually has a long history. Many of what are now considered traditional hymns were originally melodies from “secular” music. The early church adapted these melodies to biblical truth and hymns were produced. As once source states:

“The saying that ‘the devil has no right to all the good tunes’ has been attributed to both William Booth and Charles Spurgeon. But it was George Scott Railton, who was to become William’s lieutenant general in 1873 and was well-known as an author and songwriter, who concluded an article ‘About Singing’ (1874) with this impassioned plea: ‘Oh, let us rescue this precious instrument from the clutches of the devil, and make it, as it may be made, a bright and lively power for good!'”

The people in the Salvation Army weren’t the first to use secular music for sacred purposes, though. Note the following:

“[The absence of contrast between ‘secular’ and ‘sacred’ styles of music in the Middle Ages] ‘can be shown simply by the observation that a secular song, if given a set of sacred words, could serve as sacred music, and vice versa. Only recently has it been recognized how frequently such interchange took place, and the more we learn about medieval music, the more important it becomes. The practice of borrowing a song from one sphere and making it suitable for use in the other by the substitution of words is known as “parody” or contrafactum.'”

(Source: Manfred F. Bukofzer, ‘Popular and Secular Music in England’, in The New Oxford History of Music 3: Ars Nova and the Renaissance, 1300-1540, ed. Anselm Hughes and Gerald Abraham (London: Oxford University Press, 1960), p. 108.)

The tension for me is this: I love the potential of the idea. I personally hate what many Christians understand as “Christian” (sacred) vs “secular.” All truth is inspired by the Holy Spirit no matter where it is found. This is the greatest reason why so many Christians sadly have such a small view of God and are so uncomfortable with those of us who “liberally” see Him all over the place.

But the problem, as I see it, is that rarely do I think that changing lyrics to a catchy song is actually done in a way that improves the song. Usually, it’s painfully awkward or funny. But I wonder if this is something the creative among us should put more effort into in the hopes of bridging the superficial gap between Christian and secular? Can we use some of what artists such as Eminem or Metallica have written and actually use them to communicate truth? Are we robbing the revelation of God by not doing so? It’s a sad day if we’ve told God to live in a church building and then convinced ourselves that He actually did it.

Catalyst One Day Conference Notes

Andy and Craig - Catalyst One Day EventToday a bunch of us from Central attended the Catalyst One Day event in Glendale. It is 4 sessions with Andy Stanley (Northpoint) and Craig Groeschel ( Here are some of their ideas that stood out to me:

“What you become aware of drives your discontentment.” Andy Stanley

“The difference between where you are and where God wants you to be is the painful decisions you are unwilling to make.” Craig Groeschel

“Design your ministry around your values, not the other way around.” Craig Groeschel

“You can ‘how’ a ‘what’ to death.” Andy Stanley

“God also guides by where He does not provide.” Craig Groeschel

“The more you need to know [in your organization], the more you’ll limit what God can do through you.” Craig Groeschel

“Over time, sustaining the model can become the mission.” Andy Stanley

“Where are we manufacturing energy? (What are we pretending is awesome that we know isn’t?)” Andy Stanley

“‘Make disciples’ is the mission. It’s not ‘keep the Christians happy.'” Andy Stanley

The Tension of an Emerging Leader

I recently wrote a blog post for Clark ProMedia’s website about being a young leader in the church today. Please check it out and I’d be very grateful if you’d leave a comment on their site in response.

Clark ProMedia

Men’s Challenge 2010

This last weekend was Central’s annual Men’s Challenge up in Williams Arizona. It is a great opportunity for hundreds of guys to get away from the day-to-day responsibilities and have a chance to renew focus and perspective. I had an especially fun time this year as I rode with six other guys in a Tahoe up to Williams. Cozy for sure, but it was a terrific experience for community and bro time.

One of the great things about the Challenge is that there is plenty of free time for guys to connect together without a restrictive schedule. Click the link below to watch a video of part of what we did during free time on Saturday afternoon, and I think this could easily be next year’s promo video. If it asks you what program to run it with use iTunes.

Shooting exploding target

If you haven’t been to this yet, make sure you mark your calendars to join us next year!

3rd Annual Pumpkin Carving Party

Our small group hosted our 3rd annual pumpkin carving party to connect with new people. We invite our neighbors, friends, and coworkers with the entire goal to hang out so we can create and build new friendships. It was great to see a bunch of the neighborhood turn out as well as a ton of new people, and repeaters from the last two years as well!

Here are some of the photos of the night:

Michelle with our little pumpkin.

Feeding the pumpkin. He will probably look back on these pictures later and be very angry with me.

Laci modeling her slimy pumpkin hands.

Developing the next generation of pumpkin carvers. This is Melissa and Patrick’s son.

Pumpkin guts.

Surprisingly, this sign actually worked.

The effects of sugar on kids.

Hard at work.

Holli looks a little scary with that knife…

Of course there was food involved.

Pumpkins make people do crazy things. I have no words for this Sara.

The finished products.

Duct Tape, Myths, and Divorce

UPDATE*** 10/19-2010 – after a few requests for my closing quote, I have included it as well as some of my other quotes at the end of this post.

Here is some follow up content to my message this weekend at Central.

There are 5 myths (probably more) that a person considering divorce usually believes going into it; while a person who has been divorced knows to be false:

  1. Divorce is easy. “Divorce is the psychological equivalent of a triple coronary by-pass. After such a monumental assault on the heart, it takes years to amend all the habits and attitudes that led up to it.” -Mary Kay Blakely. Ask any divorced person you know whether they thought it was easy and I’d be stunned to find even one person. When you think about legal fees, separating possessions, kids, social awkwardness, living residencies, emotional issues, etc, and there is little simplicity in the process.
  2. I will have more money. “Divorce is one of the most financially traumatic things you can go through. Money spent on getting mad or getting even is money wasted.” -Richard Wagner. Many people anticipate child support but “spousal maintenance” is often overlooked. I recently heard of one person who owes $3500 a month on his ex alone. Divorce means that you will pay lawyers to communicate instead of you (realistically tens of thousands of dollars), and the fees will quickly begin to add up. One person on our Facebook page said it this way, “We communicated better during the divorce than the years leading up to it.” Studies show that women experiencing divorce face roughly a 30 percent decline in the standard of living they enjoyed while married and men show a 10 percent decline.
  3. It will be better for my kids. One person on our Facebook said that “Divorce is hardest on our children.” I’ve seen the devastation that happens to the kids firsthand by watching what my wife has gone through, and she was 22 when her parents got divorced. With younger kids they usually feel some of the blame themselves that they often carry with them indefinitely into their adult lives. Not to mention their idea of stability has been shattered and they now watch as their parents are reduced to just trying to be civil. This also drastically increases their chances that they will experience a divorce themselves as it becomes “normal” to them.
  4. It won’t bother me if they move on. “You can fire your secretary, divorce your spouse, abandon your children. But they remain your co-authors forever.” -Ellen Goodman. While you may think that you want to get as far away from your current spouse as possible, most people don’t anticipate the feelings of turmoil that they go through when they watch that person begin to move on. If you have kids, this is exponentially more true. Imagine watching another person raise your kids part time and hearing them call another person “dad” or “mom” in addition to you.
  5. I will have less problems. Read 1-4. You will be dealing with the repercussions from your divorce for the rest of your life. As one comment on our Facebook said, “Divorce is the ‘tearing of flesh’ that God made into one flesh. You will never be the same.”

The moral of the story is that divorce isn’t remotely as painless as the world is trying to tell us. It’s not God’s desire for our lives for a reason. God offers forgiveness and healing for any mistake we make in our lives but we need to rethink divorce as the easy solution that culture tells us it is. On a side note, for those of you that were privileged enough to see the glory of my custom made duct tape wallet this weekend, here is my elementary school friend that taught me how to do it. Enjoy!

I closed the service with a quote from Lewis Smedes, “The Power of Promises”

“Yes, somewhere people still make and keep promises. They choose not to quit when the going gets rough because they promised once to see it through. They stick to lost causes. They hold on to a love grown cold. They stay with people who have become pains in the neck. They still dare to make promises and care enough to keep the promises they make. I want to say to you that if you have a ship you will not desert, if you have people you will not forsake, if you have causes you will not abandon, then you are like God.

What a marvelous thing a promise is! When a person makes a promise, she reaches out into an unpredictable future and makes one thing predictable: she will be there even when being there costs her more than she wants to pay. When a person makes a promise, he stretches himself out into circumstances that no one can control and controls at least one thing: he will be there no matter what the circumstances turn out to be. With one simple word of promise, a person creates an island of certainty in a sea of uncertainty.”

Also, here are some of the verses and quotes that I used:

“Divorce is like an amputation. Sometimes it’s necessary but it should be avoided if at all possible because it brings about a permanent disability.” Bill Doherty

Malachi 2:16 “‘I hate divorce,’ says the Lord God of Israel, ‘and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,’ says the Lord Almighty.”

Matthew 19:3-10 (main passage of the weekend)

“The worst reconciliation is better than the best divorce.” Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

“Biblically, polygamy is a hundred times more acceptable than divorce.” Paul Stevens

Matthew 5:43-47