I have a small confession: I have already started listening to Christmas music. I know, I should at least wait until after Thanksgiving. But it was just one song. Christmas music is some of my favorite and I find it hard to limit myself to the month of December.
So I am very happy and excited to announce the arrival of the very first Sovereign Grace Music Christmas CD. With the title, Savior: Celebrating the Mystery of God Become Man, this CD is packed full of gospel truth and the real reason we celebrate.
You won’t find any “marshmallows roasting on an open fire” in these songs. The webpage features an interview with the songwriters, a free download (so you too can begin listening to at least one Christmas song!), and a chance to preview sample songs from the project.
Consider with me our culture’s physical beauty yardstick—for women then and women now as explained by author David Powlison:
A hundred years ago women might have compared themselves with the other ten girls in the village. Today, women compare themselves with pictures of the cream of the worldwide fashion industry.
And what ideal image does the worldwide fashion industry put forth as the standard for beauty by which today’s woman is to measure herself?
Well, take a look at what a group of professional hair stylists, make-up artists, and photographers in cahoots with computer graphics were able to create:
To think that women are striving to look like someone who doesn’t even look like herself. It’s absurd!
The Dove Campaign got it partially right—the fashion industry has certainly contributed to a distorted perception of beauty. And yet, their solution—“every girl deserves to feel beautiful just the way she is”—is well-meaning and yet fundamentally unbiblical.
You see, women believe that physical beauty will make them happy, successful, popular among the women, desirable to the men – so they pursue it with a fury!
Physical beauty, however, does not deliver as advertised. Proverbs 31:30 reveals the falsehood and the futility of this quest for beauty: Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain.
Even if every girl did “feel beautiful just the way she is,” it wouldn’t bring her true joy or lasting happiness or solve even one of her problems.
Truth be told, what we all deserve is not to feel beautiful but rather to be condemned to hell for sinfully seeking to attract the worship of our fellow creatures instead of living to bring glory to God.
God did not send Jesus to this earth to die so that women could get over their self-esteem problem and feel better about themselves. No, He sent his Son to die to rescue us from our sinful, futile quest for physical beauty and to reveal to us the satisfaction that comes from knowing God—whether we are beautiful or not!
What freedom and hope is found in Christ! We don’t need to feel beautiful about ourselves to find happiness! In fact, we’re better off not even thinking about ourselves. Rather, God has offered us in Jesus Christ forgiveness, hope, freedom from sin and a joy that never ends.
So while this little video effectively exposes the false front of beauty presented by our culture, let’s not look to Dove’s advertising executives for the solution to the beauty crisis. Rather, let’s join the campaign to tell others of the true freedom that is found in Christ!
We stood with the Yee family on Saturday as they buried their mother at the bottom of a sloping hill, surrounded by enormous swaying trees. Katherine Hubner was not only Kathy’s mother, Andre’s mother-in-law, Kirsten, Stephen and Michael’s Owa—she was our friend too.
Some called her Kate, or Katherine, or Mrs. Hubner. But each one received the same tender hug and exuberant smile every time they saw this eight-two year young woman.
And young at heart she certainly was. By the graveside, Kathy shared stories of riding roller coasters at Disney World, boogie boarding at the Outer Banks, and helmet diving in Bermuda with her aged, yet fun-loving mother.
Katherine grew up in a poor family from Manhattan. Married and had three children. Divorced. It wasn’t until she was sixty-nine years of age that God shined His light into her darkness. “Hers was a simple faith,” remembered Kathy. And yet, as I heard our pastor, Mark, quietly respond, “That is all you need.”
This simple faith expressed itself in every aspect of Katherine’s life. Most clearly it was seen in her love for her family. Her son Louis remembered how hard it was to tear her away from holiday gatherings. “Enjoy your children for the years you have them,” she would encourage her daughter, Kathy—who took her mother’s advice, by the way.
When Katherine moved in with the Yee family four years ago, she brought life and exuberance to their already loving home. She played army men with the boys on the floor, complete with army noises. She talked and laughed with granddaughter Kirsten. She even entered her grandson’s Pine Car Derby. Appropriately her bright-red car was dubbed “Grandma Dynamite.”
Katherine’s love for others extended to our church family. Her pastor Dave Hinders doesn’t remember anyone more excited to become a member than Katherine Hubner. Until recently, Katherine served in our Alpha program on the kitchen crew, alongside other senior citizens and teenage boys. She loved them all. A few weeks ago, after learning of her cancer, one of these fifteen-year-old boys sent her an encouragement note—a small gesture of his appreciation for this elderly woman.
“I only wish,” she told Kathy, soon before she passed “I had more time to serve the Savior. I’m only sorry that I got started so late.”
I thought neighbor and dear friend Eric Jensen summed up Katherine’s life best. “Kate was not a coaster,” he said. “She was cresting to the very end.”
By the grace of God, may this be true of us all.
“So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.” Psalm 71:18
Recently, the staff here at Sovereign Grace Church needed to clear out some storage space. Consequently, several long-unused office chairs were on their way to the dump. Rather than simply throw them away, our pastors decided to have some fun with them first. The result: “The Great Office Chair Race.” Click here to enjoy, courtesy of the five15 blog. Oh, and make sure to watch the second ending!
(BTW-My husband is the handsome guy sitting in the chair second from the left.)
Sarah Greenslade is this week’s book club winner. Actually, Janelle thinks Sarah deserves two copies of the book, because she’s read it—not once—but twice! The rest of us agree. So, Sarah, you’ll receive one copy for yourself and one to give away! Here’s how Sarah’s life was influenced by Twelve Extraordinary Women:
When the notice was first put up on girltalk blog about the book club group, I immediately purchased the book and proceeded to read the entire thing in three days. Granted, I am newly married, I have no children and I am a voracious reader, but still, I couldn’t put the book down. As I began to read through the chapters again, more slowly, along with the group, the impact of what I was reading began to sink in. [Keep Reading]
For our final question, please tell us—In what way did Lydia’s life inspire you?
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)
I went to one of my favorite places for lunch today: the Lancaster County Dutch Market. Every Thursday through Saturday a group of Amish from Lancaster, Pennsylvania make the trek to Germantown, Maryland where they make and sell the most delicious food. My customary hang out spot is the soft-pretzel stand where you can watch the Amish girls twist the dough for my favorite cinnamon-sugar pretzels.
This afternoon, as I was placing my usual order, the man who owns the stand engaged me in conversation (yes, he knows me). He informed me that the sister of one of the young women who works for him was one of the little girls shot in the tragic Amish school shooting two weeks ago.
“Did she survive?” I asked him. He told me her life was mercifully spared. She is hopefully leaving the hospital today! I told him we were praying, before he moved to help the next customer in line.
My heart broke for this little girl and the horror of her experience, and all those affected by this tragedy. Initially, I felt helpless, wishing there was something I could do to comfort them and ease their pain.
However, it was a fresh reminder to me of the truth of Ephesians 5:15-16. The days are indeed evil. Therefore, I am to strive to live every day with wisdom, “making the best use of my time.” And my heart can rest in the certainty of God’s sovereignty over the evil found in this world and the hope of the gospel for all mankind.
Our dear friend Carolyn McCulley over at SoloFemininity has written an exceptional article/personal testimony—“Liberated From Feminism”—which has been published online by The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. I had the privilege of reading this article several months ago and have been eagerly waiting for its publication, so we could share it with you. “Liberated From Feminism” is an inspiring testimony of God’s transforming grace, an insightful critique of the failures of feminism, and a practical example of biblical womanhood for single and married women to follow. It’s a must read for every woman!
“Growing up in the rebellious ‘70s, I did not foresee these consequences [of feminisim]. Even as a child, my femininity was a source of confusion for me. The oldest of three daughters, I felt I always had to prove something to the boys - that I could be faster, smarter, and more aggressive than they were. I did not want any limits, and I looked for every opportunity to show my independence. How I gloated and swaggered when Billy Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in a well-publicized “battle of the sexes” tennis match! As a teenager, I was also headstrong and not submitted to my father. I did not respect his decisions, and I sought to wear him down through constant arguing. Though my mother faithfully took my sisters and me to mass each week, I lacked any real personal spiritual compass, and so I pursued whatever philosophies were currently popular.” [Read More]
Recently, one of our readers asked the following question:
I am really confused about how to guide our children when it comes to the “Christian music” of today. My daughter has asked to listen to the group Barlow Girl. This is one of the top female Christian groups today. My husband and I sat down to watch a video from this group on the internet and were shocked at how much it looked like a ‘Joan Jett’ video—not at all the quiet and gentle spirit we would desire for our girls.
How can we as parents make wise decisions on music that really glorifies God when we really don’t have specific guidelines? Do we simply go by what makes us comfortable and uncomfortable? How can we make our children make wise decisions when it comes to music?
I expect many of you are grappling with this same question in your home. If not yet, it is an issue you will likely face as your children get older. Thus, as parents, we must be absolutely clear about what God’s Word says regarding music so that we can wisely and skillfully lead our children in their musical choices.
In order to help us gain clarity on this topic, we thought it would be beneficial to hear from Bob Kauflin. Bob is the Director of Worship Development for Sovereign Grace Ministries and the worship leader at our church. He and his wife, Julie, are very dear friends to CJ and me. Here is his wise counsel:
This is a great question, and one that millions of Christian parents should be asking. How do I teach my children to be discerning in their music choices?
Typically Christians take one of two positions on how we should relate to music. Either we label certain kinds of music as evil and avoid them completely, or we assume that music is simply a matter of personal taste and we are free to listen to anything. Both views free us from actually thinking through the biblical issues. Here are a few thoughts to help us guide our children (and ourselves!) through the process in a way that honors God.
First, if your children are drawn to a certain kind of music or artist, make sure that you have a good relationship with them already established. If your children feel your correction more than your encouragement, if you see them as problems rather than gifts, or if you want to deal with this in a 5 minute lecture, you’re going to have difficulty helping them discern the right path to follow. Strong, godly family relationships are one of the greatest helps in resisting the deceptive pull of the world.
Second, communicate to your children that you are training them to be discerning in every area, including their musical choices. Until you know they mistrust their heart in this area and are self-disclosing, you should be aware of everything they listen to. The Internet and Ipods have made that a little more difficult than it used to be, but that’s why trust and self-disclosure are so important. Sit down and read lyrics together. Listen to music as a family. Talk about what makes songs good or bad. Parents who have no idea what their children listen to may be allowing the world to shape their children’s hearts and minds.
Third, I’d want to be very sure that my children are able to discern the difference between certain kinds of music and the ungodly culture often associated with it. I don’t believe that any musical genre is evil in itself. Rap music is one example. Typically, it’s associated with violence, cursing, rebellion, and abuse of women, among other things. However, I have a good friend at Covenant Life Church, Curt Allen (aka Voice), who has been instrumental in helping me see how rap can be used to communicate biblical truths effectively. However, if my children aren’t exhibiting discernment in other areas, I wouldn’t introduce them to a style of music or an artist whose associations could lead them to embrace worldly values and attitudes. My goal would be to help them see that listening to music without discernment and godly intent reveals a heart willing to flirt with love for the world (1 John 2:15-17). Sadly, that caution applies to music that is produced by Christians as well as non-Christians. Music videos, advertising, liner notes, web sites should all be considered when thinking about whether or not it’s good to listen to a certain artist. All these reveal whether or not an artist is seeking to honor God not only in their music, but in the way they dress, speak, and act.
Fourth, I wouldn’t let a desire to listen to a particular artist or style of music dominate their thinking, schedule, time, or desires. That often reveals the presence of idolatry. If their exposure to a certain kind of music produces godly fruit they can continue listening to it. But if I saw their countenance, actions, dress, speech, or behavior being negatively influenced by the music they were listening to, or if their spiritual zeal waned, I’d make the music off limits and talk to them about what was going on in their heart. I’d stress that this isn’t simply a matter of preference, but helping them think about their world more biblically.
I know some very godly teens and adults who like music and artists that I don’t particularly enjoy. But they listen to it occasionally, enjoy other genres, and reject the arrogant, immoral culture that often accompanies the secular versions. If I wasn’t convinced that that was my child’s attitude, I’d be foolish to allow them to feed their desire for a certain musical style, even with Christian lyrics.
In the final analysis, the question isn’t whether my children should listen to rap or country or jazz or the Barlow Girls. Rather, it’s whether or not my children distrust their hearts and desire to make choices that honor the Savior who bought them with his own blood. If I’m leading them in those areas, musical choices are going to come much easier.
For more wise, godly counsel on music, worship, and loving the Savior, we highly recommend you read Bob’s blog, WorshipMatters.com. In addition, we also encourage you to download and listen to Bob’s message series entitled “God, Music, and Me” part one and part two.