Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Theological Snobbery in Worship

Recently I heard some worship leader folks talking about how they would never do Hillsong worship because they have "bad theology."

This troubles me.

For starters, that was me in '98. I went through a very judgmental streak where I was a 22 year old Reformed Nazi. I had just been bit with the John Piper bug (click here) at the first Passion conference, and I thought the problem with Christianity was all the man-centered nonsense. "Man-Centered" was the denial of any of the five points of Calvinism (TULIP).

Although I'm not currently a card carrying "Calvinist", I still consider myself infected by the Piper bug. In a good way, I think. I love the Puritans for their grand view of God and awareness of their depravity (and therefore love of grace). I also love Piper for his prophetic voice to the modern church. But it's hard to have a conversation with myself 11 years ago, vicariously through these fellow worship leaders.

These Reformed worship leaders gladly stand behind Calvin, a man whose praxis led him to murder a guy (or two...click here for more on Calvin), but are unwilling to do Hillsong music because of accusations of "prosperity gospel." Which of their songs has anything other than Christ-exalting, God-entranced, and biblical lyrics?

I was reading one of my books on Scottish Church History, and came across this quote. It's long, and boring for those of you who are already confused by this post. But for those that are still reading, it made me laugh to think about how far we've come in our corporate worship:

"...the Reformation in Scotland, as in Germany, was born in song, and much of this music at the beginning was derived from Germany. This was especially true of the Gude and Dodlie Ballatis...published for the first time between 1542 and 1546. This collection includes metrical Psalms, metrical versions of the Creed and the Lord's Prayer, a catechism in metre, popular spiritual songs set to ballad tunes, carols and anti-Romanist taunt songs such as 'The paip that pagane full of pryde', and 'God send everie preist ane wyfe, and everie nunne ane man'." (Dictionary of Scottish Church History, P. 895)

Forget this modern me-centered, prosperity gospel coming out of Australia. Why can't we get back to the good ol' days? You know, back to the days of God centered, Reformed, and anti-Romanist taunt songs.

Nevermind, let's stick with Hillsong.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Matthew 24 and My View of The End

I preached on Matthew 24:36-51 at Cornerstone last weekend (click here for the link to the video). This is from the Saturday night service, where I left out my favorite quote from the guy who gave millions to his church, then went bankrupt. When asked if he had regrets, he said, "I kept what I gave, but lost what I kept."

Fortunately, I didn't have the interpretive challenges Jeff had the previous week with verses 1-35. I'm sure many in Cornerstone would be glad I didn't get that text, since my view of end times diverges from mainstream evangelicalism (i.e. the view advocated in the Left Behind series- Pre-Trib, Pre-Mill.). As it turns out, Jeff moved a little further from his previously held view (you're on the right track, Jeff :) after studying for his message last week.

Thankfully, my text was pretty clear. Amill, Pre-Wrath, Pre-Trib, Preterist, Post-Mill, Futurist, and ____ (fill in your view) should all be able to agree:

1. Jesus will come back
2. No one knows when
3. We can be ready by being holy and on mission.

The approach I take to Matthew 24 and the Olivet Discourse would be most in line with Sam Storms (click here and then "Matthew 24..." on that page). Sam has a concise and understandable take for those who aren't as familiar with discussion about end times.

Rickey Henderson

I grew up watching Rickey Henderson, who was just inducted to the baseball hall of fame. He was quite the character, for those of you who are into baseball, click here for some funny Rickey stories.

Props to Chris for the vine.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Today I discovered Wikimedia Commons- here are all the top pictures (click here)

Pictures of the year from 2008 (click here)

This youtube video evoked some emotions in me. It's just plain fun, but is it irreverent? There's something about dance that seems fitting for a wedding. And in most churches, dance is pretty much absent as an expression of worship. (Thanks Todd for the vine).

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


One of the advantages of living in a college town is that the guys I play ball with aren't exactly "dumb jocks." I've been in all kinds of very interesting discussions lately regarding science, theology, the existence of God, morality, and most recently- physics.

I was chatting with one guy who is a tenured physicist at ISU. He suggested a series of lectures by one of the most brilliant, and yet accessible, physicists of the 20th century- Richard Feynman (click here for the wiki bio).

We can all thank Bill Gates for purchasing these lectures and making them available to the general public (click here for the lecture series).

It's fun to re-learn physics when there is no grade or required credit on the line. Moreover, studying physics expands the mind and soul, and is not unlike studying Theology Proper.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

More Pictures of Jett

Following in his dad's footsteps as an infant, Jett is "cute in his own way." He had a very loud scream, reminiscent of Ava.
Weighing in at just under 10 lbs...
Beck asked Leatha, "How did you get the baby out?", followed by pointing to her stomach and asking, "Why is that still sticking out?"

Leatha is a champion! She looked great. 
The kids were in awe of little Jett.

Papa Jack and Grandma Linda came up for the day. Actually, my mom is a rock star, staying with us until Friday. This is in spite of the fact that my sister and her family are visiting Omaha from California. What servanthood! Thanks, mom.
Just the boys.
plus Ava
Makai loves his baby brother and loves to say, "Jett"
Proud dad.
Jett, meet your new baby sitter, second mom and sister- Ava. She will take good care of you. 
We are blessed.


Jett Jackson Arant
9 lbs 15 oz, 22 inches

Here's a little timeline...

Sunday night: Mark gets sick
Monday, 10 pm: Leatha starts having contractions
Tuesday, 1:30 am: Contractions coming harder and stronger.
2:45 am: Laura Lynn comes over to help coach. Mark stays up for support, but out of the way because of his cold.
4:30 am: We arrive at the hospital, Leatha is dilated to 9
5:15 am: Leatha gets in the whirlpool, water breaks shortly after
5:40 am: Pushing starts
5:53 am: Out comes Jett! Leatha did it- the all natural birth she had hoped for! I'm SO proud of her.

There's nothing sentimental about the name "Jett," other than we really liked it (it was almost Makai's name), and Jackson is after my dad, Papa Jack.

Here's a prayer for Jett Jackson from his birthday Psalm 14:

Our Father in heaven, we give you thanks for this precious gift of new life. I pray for Jett Jackson, that he will be wise, understanding the fear of the LORD from an early age. I pray that he will see his depravity, separation, and need for Jesus Christ. I ask that he would call on You, seeking first the kingdom, and living out a "with God" life. Help Jett walk on a path of righteousness for your name's sake, the same path his grandpa Jack has walked all these years. Like Papa Jack, help his relationship with you to be dynamic, hearing the voice of God everyday. Oh that he will run the race with perseverance, not getting tripped up by greed, entertainment, popularity, anxiety, immorality, and the American dream! May he dwell in the company of the righteous, where You are present. Be his refuge and salvation, and make his life a blessing to all nations. I pray that he will rejoice and be glad all the days of his life, and that he will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. All of this for Your glory, I ask for Jesus' sake- Amen.

After 42 weeks and 3 days...

Leatha has been having contractions all night, getting stronger.

It's 3:10 a.m. and we're just about to go into the hospital.

Props to Laura Lynn for coming over and helping "coach." Kendra was the lucky winner of the phone call at 2:30 a.m. to come watch the kids. Thanks to those of you who have been so willing to help in any way.

I'll let you know when the baby comes.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Odds and Ends

Still no baby as of 11:52 pm Thursday night. I'll keep you up to date.

Tonight Beck (4), said, "Mom, if you know Jesus you won't die when you have the baby, but if you don't know Jesus, you will die." Leatha said, "Beck, I could die, but since I know Jesus, I'll be with God forever." He said, "That's true. Good point, mom."

Darrell Green's hall of fame speech relates to my post on "Sex and Faithfulness." The whole thing is good, but at least start listening at 4:40. It reminded me of the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7, saying at the end of his life, "I fought the good fight."

Also, good thoughts from Alex Tuckness on diamonds: click here.

I've enjoyed getting caught up on the New Perspective of Paul from Scot McKnight's blog: click here for the posts. This is one of the more important theological discussions going on right now. It's become John Piper Vs. N.T. Wright, with McKnight's blog representing the Wright camp. Great things to think about, but if you're not inclined to enjoy deep theological debates, don't waste your time... I'll consider writing a blog post summarizing what's at stake.

That last sentence was totally worthless.

So was that.

I'm going to bed.

Oh yeah, Salt was awesome tonight. I met a new guy that wandered into Cornerstone today seeking help in his relationship with Christ. He came tonight and met some great guys and got in their connection group. And once again, tons of international students were there. Two Chinese guys said, "Wow, someday we might be able to have the excitement that's in you guys."

This is church!

Welcome Yo

Scheibe, thanks for the vine (apparently via Dave Ramsey's Facebook page)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Thoughts on Sex and Faithfulness

"Sex isn't all it's cracked up to be."

I'll never forget that quote from a newly married TSC guy 10 years ago. I was not yet married, and thought to my 22 year old self, "Yeah, right. That dude must've gotten stuck with a bad wife. Bummer for him. I'll do better."

Now I think, "Dude had a point. It's nothing like I thought."

You see, immorality and promiscuity are more thrilling than purity and faithfulness. But only in the way that robbing a bank is more thrilling than going to work there.

Working for a paycheck is not always fun, but it's always good.

Sex is better than going to work, but you get the point.

Here's a related thought... Should you really say to your spouse, "I will NEVER cheat on you?"

Isn't that a little proud to say such a thing? After all, we're sinners in need of grace, and we are not beyond any sin. Right? "If you think you're standing firm, be careful that you don't fall..." (1 Cor. 10). How can you know you'll be faithful? The demon of adultery is just around the corner for all of us, waiting to jump out and overtake any helpless human being it seeks to devour.

Can you tell I'm setting you up?

I told Leatha tonight, "I will NEVER cheat on you."

It's not pride. It's not arrogance. It's merely restating a vow I said to her 9 1/2 years ago in front of about 300 friends and family. I think we should say this often, to our spouse and to ourself. And, in this case, to the world wide web. By God's grace, I will keep my vow. I will never be unfaithful.

And faithfulness is not necessarily as fun, but always in my best interest.

It's better to work at the bank than rob it.


Be faithful (Proverbs 3:3-4).

Friday, July 3, 2009

Charlie V. Mom

I've been thinking about parenting recently, having taught last night on the fifth, sixth and seventh commandments. Implicit in "Honor your father and mother, that you may live long and that it may go well with you..." is the assumption that parents will expect obedience as they instruct their kids to the live according to wisdom.

Today at the pool a mom put on a parenting clinic.

What not to do. The details of the following story are not exaggerated. In fact, it was much worse.

Now here are two disclaimers:
1. This is probably how I would parent if I didn't have a wife who read many books on parenting.
2. My purpose in posting this is not to deride this mom, but to remind myself and others what not to do.

We'll call this boy Charlie.

Charlie (6 years old) V. Mom (36 yrs old):

Mom: "Let's go Charlie!"
Charlie: in the pool, ignoring her
Mom: "If you don't get out, then I'll just come and drag you out."
Charlie: laughing
Mom [now resorting to scare tactics]: "I'm leaving." starts to leave
Charlie: comes out to the door and starts crying
Mom: opens the door as if to leave
Charlie: "Can I just jump in one more time?"
Mom: "Sure."

5 minutes later...

Mom: "Let's go now"
Charlie: Running away
Mom: Starts to chase him around the pool, but stops because she couldn't catch him... "One.."
Charlie's friend in pool [laughing]: "...Two...Three..."
Mom: "Charlie, don't make me come in and drag you out."
Charlie: laughing and swimming away
Mom: starting to leave again
Charlie: crying and throwing a fit in pool
Mom: "If you don't get out, you're going to stay in your room all day long." (she said this at least twice...)
Mom: pretending to leave
Charlie's friend: "Charlie, are you going to stay here the rest of your life?"
Charlie: exasperated, gets out of the pool
Mom: "Say good-bye to your friend"
Charlie: pouting, ignoring her words

Summary of things not to do:

1. Count
2. Give empty commands
3. Raise voice
4. Empty threats
5. No consequences for disobedience
6. Pacifying
7. Exasperating him

What to do is another post for another time... I need to go ask Leatha.