The Contemporary Worship Papers, 1st Place

And here it is, the 1st place paper from our little presentation of essays from the students at Fairhaven Baptist College. Students were assigned to write a short paper explaining what is wrong with contemporary worship, and why we must contend for the issue.  As an incentive, I promised to post online any articles that I thought were well-written and compelling. 

Our first three posts offered the “honorable mentionsand the top ten.  Over the last two days, we have offered the number three and number two entries.  Today, we give you first place.

Lydia Johnson

Contemporary worship proponents focus a great deal on lighting. They spend thousands of dollars on laser lights and hazing equipment. The lights are their emphasis. They do this to “create an atmosphere to encounter God.” This idea purely is pantheistic.

With so many churches turning to contemporary worship, Independent Fundamental Baptists may ask themselves, “What’s the big deal?” These churches are bringing in people by the hundreds, some even thousands on Sunday morning. Contemporary worship is flawed because it creates a false atmosphere, and it makes no demands on the sinner.

The first issue with contemporary worship is that it creates a false atmosphere. During a contemporary worship service, the house lights go down and all eyes are on the stage. This is not an atmosphere of worship, this is a concert atmosphere. Contemporary worship proponents focus a great deal on lighting. They spend thousands of dollars on laser lights and hazing equipment. The lights are their emphasis. They do this to “create an atmosphere to encounter God.” This idea purely is pantheistic. A brief study of Eastern religion presents the idea of “encountering” god through nature. God does not make us “encounter” Him, He seeks for His own and desires His children to seek Him. God promises in Jeremiah 29:13, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” This is not an aimless wandering, but a deliberate search. God promises to show Himself when His children seek for Him with their whole heart.

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Photo by Thibault Trillet on Pexels.com

Finally, contemporary worship is flawed because it makes no demands on the sinner. The philosophy of contemporary worship is “come as you are.” This mentality never allows for any growth. It cheapens God’s grace to say that God accepts everyone just the way they are. God accepts sinners in spite of what they are! He sent Jesus because He could not accept sin. The sinner does not come to God pleading his merits but pleading for mercy. The “come as you are” mentality would rather have believers remain worldly than to scare away any newcomers by their conformity to Christ. Romans 12:2 is a command, not an option. The contemporary worship movement would rather gain popularity than follow the direct order of their Master.

The Contemporary Worship Papers, 2nd Place

Here is the promised 2nd place paper, from my perspective.  As I have mentioned, these papers were written as part of a lecture series on “Earnestly Contending” that I have delivered at Fairhaven Baptist College.  Students were assigned to write a short paper explaining what is wrong with contemporary worship, and why we must contend for the issue.  As an incentive, I promised to post online any articles that I thought were well-written and compelling. 

Our first three posts offered the “honorable mentionsand the top ten.  Yesterday, we revealed the third-place entry.  Today, we give you second place.

Jenna Wilson

They put up their stage lighting to “feel the presence of God” when it only takes away from the One that they are supposedly worshipping! It no longer is a service to worship the Lord, but a concert to please the flesh…

The church service used to be one of holiness, righteousness, and fully focused on God. Preachers hid behind God’s Word in the hope of reaching souls. Music was for the sole purpose of honoring the Lord. But contemporary worship has crept in unawares corrupting what once was holy and God-honoring. The people of God do not come to church to worship Him, but to please themselves.  Contemporary worship has taken over the Lord’s people’s view of music, dress, the platform set up, and even the lighting of the church. Is this God’s house or MY house?

The music in these so-called “churches” is less God-honoring and more flesh appealing. He is mentioned very little in these “praise and worship hymns”. The music style is so important; it doesn’t just convey a message, it is the message. Is Christ that message?

Style is not just important in music, but dress as well. In today’s contemporary worship services, the phrase “Come as you are” is used. Unfortunately, “come as you are” means “stay as you are.” No change actually happens. With this slogan, contemporary worshipers have developed a “shabbiness” to them. More self-pleasing than God-honoring.

Not only is the flesh pleased in music and in dress, but the platform adds to the flesh’s appetite. The pulpit is removed and is replaced with a trap set. No serious preaching from the Word of God seems to take place.

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Photo by Jacob Morch on Pexels.com

Lastly, the lighting in these churches has turned from necessary to excessive. They put up their stage lighting to “feel the presence of God” when it only takes away from the One that they are supposedly worshipping! It no longer is a service to worship the Lord, but a concert to please the flesh, all in the name of serving the Lord.

Contemporary worshipers have lost the whole meaning to life–bringing praise and honor to the Lord. “for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:11). It is God’s house, not MY house!

The Contemporary Worship Papers, 3rd Place

The final three installments will feature what were, in my opinion, the best three of all the papers I received.  As I have been highlighting, these papers were written for a short course I had the opportunity to teach at Fairhaven Baptist College on “Earnestly Contending for the Faith.”  The students were assigned to write a short paper explaining what is wrong with contemporary worship, and why we must contend for the issue.  As an incentive, I promised to post online any articles that I thought were well-written and compelling. 

Our first three posts offered the “honorable mentions” and the top ten.  Over the next three days, we will include the top three, beginning at third place.    

Lily Hall

…it might be time to take a step back from the strobe lights, the beating drums, and the cargo shorts. It might be time to consider that Christ didn’t die so we as Christians could go to a rock concert every Sunday.

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Photo by Wendy Wei on Pexels.com

The pride, lust, and overall lack of any moral value that is in our world today seeps through every pore of this generation. Its worship is no exception. Contemporary worship is becoming increasingly popular among today’s “Christian” and there are several reasons why it is an inexcusable way of honoring our Creator. Above any valid reasoning that we as Baptists contending for the faith have for these weak and shallow Christians, towers a question that even the most despicable of these must acknowledge. Is the way we are worshipping causing the lost world to look to a loving Lord? Is it glorifying to the One who saved us?  If the answer is not immediately yes to both of these questions, it might be time to take a step back from the strobe lights, the beating drums, and the cargo shorts. It might be time to consider that Christ didn’t die so we as Christians could go to a rock concert every Sunday. It might be time to contend, and contend more than ever before, for worship that is glorifying to who He is and what He has done.

The Contemporary Worship Papers, Part 3

Over this past year, I have had the privilege of teaching a short course called Earnestly Contending at Fairhaven Baptist College.  During a recent two-day course, we took some time to teach on the issue of contemporary worship.  The students were assigned to write a short paper explaining what is wrong with contemporary worship, and why we must contend for the issue.  As an incentive, I promised to post online any articles that I thought were well-written and compelling. 

Our first post included three “honorable mentions.”  In our second post, we began at number ten and worked our way to number seven.  Today, we continue working our way through the top ten, beginning at number six. 

#6 – Kayla Sgrignoli

The belief that the worship “mood” can be controlled by a dimmer switch, rather than prayer and heart preparation, says a lot about the fleshly experience expected.

Satan is constantly attacking the idea of sacred worship in today’s age and has promoted the idea of contemporary worship to modern-day believers. God intended for worship to be our purpose on this earth. But contemporary worship has taken over in four areas – music, dress, platform arrangement, and stage lighting – and turned our focus from worshipping God to promoting self. And when we promote self, we open the door to losing the presence of God in our midst.

Contemporary Christian music appeals to the flesh rather than appealing to God’s glory.  It promotes a fleshly response and drains the proper focus of the service. Music style is important – it conveys the message of the song – is it really about Christ or pleasing the flesh?

Contemporary worship styles have developed a studied shabbiness in the way they dress also. Dress style can both cause and communicate an attitude. The downward trend is to “come as you are,” which is causing more of a careless attitude towards worshipping God. Once again, it appeals to fleshly desire and comfort rather than worshipping Almighty God.

The platform arrangement also conveys a strong message in today’s contemporary circles. Contemporary services eliminate the pulpit, which serves to hide the speaker and emphasize the message in more conservative settings. The trend of promoting the flesh rather than bringing the focus where it ought to be can be seen once again.

Finally, the stage settings and effects can be a distraction, and yet serve as what is deemed a “vital” part of today’s contemporary worship services. Such worship settings have turned into theater-styled experiences rather than meeting with God. The belief that the worship “mood” can be controlled by a dimmer switch, rather than prayer and heart preparation, says a lot about the fleshly experience expected.

In conclusion, modern “worship” services have somehow lost focus of God and have turned to promoting and appealing to the flesh. Instead of bringing the flesh into subjection and humility, worship has slowly become more about fleshly comfort and enjoyment. It’s time to bring the focus back into perspective!

#5 – Brooke Wilson

Contemporary Worship generally has the idea of “come as you are”. This kind of idea puts no demands on the sinner to get right and make changes in his life.

Contemporary worship is something that seems to be sweeping through the country and finding its way into every denomination. This kind of worship is not Biblical and causes some problems. Contemporary Worship generally has the idea of “come as you are.” This kind of idea puts no demands on the sinner to get right and make changes in his life. “Come as you are” basically means to “leave as you are.” Everything is very casual in this kind of worship setting. A lot of money is spent to dress down.

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Photo by Jiarong Deng on Pexels.com

Pastors pretend that style doesn’t matter, but to them, it matters almost more than anything. The congregation in a contemporary worship service wouldn’t hesitate to judge someone who came in dressed up. This casual setting shapes the view the people have of God. Style causes and communicates an attitude. We shouldn’t have an attitude that God is casual. It makes him seem less important. Contemporary worship is all around today and it’s an easy trap to fall into if your standards aren’t set. Be sure to set your standards and don’t let them slip.

#4 – Sabrina Damron

Since the moment God created Adam and Eve, a spiritual war has been raging for the souls of men. Man has no choice but to be a part of this war. The problem arises when Christians refuse to stand at the very point that is presently being attacked in their culture. In society today, that point of attack is contemporary worship.

Since the moment God created Adam and Eve, a spiritual war has been raging for the souls of men. Man has no choice but to be a part of this war. The problem arises when Christians refuse to stand at the very point that is presently being attacked in their culture. In society today, that point of attack is contemporary worship. A wall of defense is immediately shot up when addressing this issue. But does God really care about the way in which the Christian worships? Of course He does. The Christian’s purpose in life is to give God glory and please Him in every area of his life. Whatever he does is to be done to the glory of God, and this includes the way one worships God as well. The Christian is to offer his life continually to God; his body is to be a living sacrifice. The Christian’s worship style speaks volumes about the way he views the occasion and the way he views God. The style of the service shows whether he is giving his life as a living sacrifice to God. The typical contemporary church has four distinctives which express the people’s view of God. The music itself is contemporary, the dress is casual, the platform no longer includes a pulpit, and the church utilizes, to some degree, stage lighting for effect. Each of these aspects shows the view of God that the church wants to portray. It portrays a God of cheap mercy, one that lets the sinner come as he is and stay that way if he wants. Contemporary worship does not preach a God of justice, but rather an “all accepting” God. Christians cannot fight the scourge of secularism in its churches by conforming to secular ideas. It is here, in the area of Contemporary worship, that the battle is raging today. If the Christian does not fight at this very point of attack in culture today then he is not fighting against the devil as he should.

The Contemporary Worship Papers, Part 2

We continue our series of top papers from our Earnestly Contending Lecture Series at Fairhaven Baptist College.  During a recent two-day course, we assigned students to write a short paper explaining what is wrong with contemporary worship, and why we must contend for the issue.  As an incentive, I promised to post online any articles that I thought were well-written and compelling. At the beginning of each post, I have highlighted a statement that I thought was excellent. 

In our first post, we included three honorable mentions. We continue today with four of the top ten papers, counting down from number 10. 

#10 – Illiomarc Gachette

Hence, we must avoid all contemporary worship because it is not pleasing in God’s sight. It is a misinterpretation of who God is and what He is all about.

In this day and age where people are careless about their music, we as Christians must be wise with our choice of music. If a song has a Christian title, it does not mean it is a song that pleases God. It appeals to the flesh and it is worldly and sensual (I John 2:15-16). It pulls the believer back to the world. Contemporary worship is trying to worship God with worldliness and selfish desires. Instead, godly worshiping is in spirit and in truth. It tends to make the believer stay stagnant instead of moving forward. It is unholy. It exalts the singer instead of the Savior. It confuses the unbelievers (I Corinthians 14:13). Also, it promotes charismatic and nondenominational doctrines. Most of the songs are repetitive (Matthew 7:7). Most of the songs do not have Jesus’ name. It sounds more like a love song instead of a hymn to honor a Holy and Righteous God (I Peter 1:15-17). It dishonors the Lord (Psalms 33:8). It does not follow the standards and fundamentals of holy music. The beat is louder than the melody. The message is unclear (Psalm 68:25). We must be careful about what we listen to. Most of CCM singers and composers do not believe what we believe in the Bible. They mix their doctrines in their songs. Their attire and lifestyle dishonor God.

The songs we listen to do a great deal with the focus and direction of our life. As children of God, we must obey His Word and honor Him with songs that we listen to and sing. God is a God of order. He loves holiness; hence, we must worship Him in holiness. Contemporary worship promotes unholy lifestyles.

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (1 John 2:15-16)

And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. (Matthew 26:3)

Hence, we must avoid all contemporary worship because it is not pleasing in God’s sight. It is a misinterpretation of who God is and what He is all about.  Contemporary worship is rebellious toward a Holy and Just God. It is disgusting in His sight. Contemporary is unholy and unscriptural.

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; (Ephesians 5:19)

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1)

We must worship God the way He wants, not the way we want.

#9 – Cooper Gressly

I grew up in a massive church that used the wrong type of contemporary music, and I can say that is the kind that is wrong. They would often use electric guitars, trap sets, the women would be dressed immodestly, and this is what I grew up around thinking that it was pleasing to God. After 14 years of being at that church I realized that God is not in that kind of music at all. I started to realize that the music I was hearing in the “church” was no different then what I would listen to with my friends. It sounded the same as the world…

The first and most important thing to realize when on the topic, what is wrong with contemporary worship, is that there is contemporary music that is not wrong. The word contemporary can also mean modern or present time.  In the true definition, there are many different songs and music that are “modern” or that have just been written and are not wrong. We have the idea today that the word contemporary is wrong, but it is the music that is wrong, not the word. For instance, Golden State Baptist College has modern songs that they have written and sung, but they are not wrong and could be considered contemporary. I grew up in a massive church that used the wrong type of contemporary music, and I can say that is the kind that is wrong.  They would often use electric guitars, trap sets, the women would be dressed immodestly, and this is what I grew up around thinking that it was pleasing to God. After 14 years of being at that church, I realized that God is not in that kind of music at all. I started to realize that the music I was hearing in the “church” was no different then what I would listen to with my friends. It sounded the same as the world, and God’s name and salvation were never in the lyrics. Satan has deceived many people today in getting them to believe that all genres of music are okay and there is no kind of music that is wrong. I believe most people would change their listening habits if they only knew the truth, the problem is that many people are ignorant of the scriptures and don’t have a close walk with God. Another problem with people today is that they don’t want to give up what their flesh enjoys. Many people know the “Christian” music they listen to is wrong, they just enjoy it too much and don’t want to get rid of it. While music can be a great tool in reaching the lost it can also be a hindrance to the Gospel being spread. Overall the topic is greatly misunderstood today, and Christians need to do a better job at standing up for the truth.

#8 – Caleb Hallman

True worship is surrender and doing God’s will. Our style of worship shows our attitude towards the things of God to the ungodly world that surrounds us.

True worship is surrender and doing God’s will. Our style of worship shows our attitude towards the things of God to the ungodly world that surrounds us. Contemporary “worship” takes away the pesky rules and commandments of God and encourages a freestyle worship that makes one comfortable. The old hymns and choruses clearly gave glory and praise to God and His Son.  Contemporary worship has changed its music to be more desirable to this generation with rock and country music and lyrics that vaguely mention God or Jesus. The rock and roll beat and easy listening country music conform to this world’s music. Dress is very big to contemporary worship. They do not like the stuffy suits and ties and dresses. They actually spend a lot of time and money looking shabby.  How we dress shows how we reverence the House of God. In the Old Testament, the priest had to be dressed a certain way to enter into the presence of God or they would die. However, that is too hard and strict. The main push of Contemporary worship is to “Come as you are.” Contemporary churches have done away with the pulpit, replaced it with a stool, and have added a drum set and electric guitars, screens, iPads, and other electric devices. All of this is a distraction. With the pulpit gone, it turns into a motivational speech or story time instead of God’s Words teaching us how to live our lives. The lights are turned down low, spotlights, laser lights, and fog machines are added and it no longer even feels like a church service.

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Photo by Mark Angelo on Pexels.com

Instead, it’s a Christian concert. With the Christian rock and feel good music blaring throughout the auditorium there is no sense of worship left. The church of God has been transformed into a worldly, feel-good place to rock out with friends and it’s all acceptable because we are to “Come as you are.” Therefore, Contemporary worship is not worship at all, it is a conformity to attract the world. In 2 Corinthians 6:17 Paul told the Corinthians, “Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate.” We are to be an example to this world in all these points, and we must take a stand and not let the world take over the House of God.

#7 – Sarah Hallman

A Christian that dresses shabbily or deliberately dresses down is trying to gain the attention of the crowd, not worship God. As Christians we should be telling the world that we want to please God through the way we dress.

God made us to worship and glorify Him. Biblical worship means to fully surrender everything to God. One’s style of worship is a message to the world telling it how we view God. To rob God of what He wants, Satan has distorted the Biblical view of worship. Contemporary “Christian” Worship is Satan’s and the World’s alternative to Biblical Worship. Four distinctives of Contemporary worship are contemporary music, dress, platform arrangement, and stage lighting.

The pace at which contemporary music has replaced the traditional, God-glorifying hymns and songs used to worship God is frightening. “Christian” rock and country music have completely overtaken the song services in modern churches.  However, there is nothing “Christian” about rock or country music. The overwhelming beat in rock music and the excessive syncopation in country music was not put in that music to worship God. The whole point is that it appeals to the flesh and draws in the World. The Bible clearly states that we are to be separate from the World and not yield to the flesh.

Dress is often a controversial subject even in Fundamental Independent Baptist Churches. “God does not look at our outward appearance; He looks at the heart!” Many contemporary Christians use this reasoning when questioned about their casual and shabby dress. If taken in context, one can clearly see that that verse means that God not only sees the outward appearance but the heart as well. One’s dress reflects what is in the heart.  A Christian that dresses shabbily or deliberately dresses down is trying to gain the attention of the crowd, not worship God. As Christians, we should be telling the world that we want to please God through the way we dress.

Platform arrangement is another problem in contemporary churches. The traditional pulpit, piano, and organ have been replaced with a trap set and electric guitars. Notice that they completely remove the pulpit. The pulpit is meant to hide the pastor and emphasize the sermon. By removing the pulpit from the platform contemporary churches are focusing on the man, not the message and certainly not on God.

Lastly, stage lighting has become a serious problem in contemporary churches.  Instead of well-lit auditoriums, these churches tend to turn the lights off, using spotlights, fog machines, laser lights, and hazers to bring attention, not to God, but to the people on the stage. As Christians, our focus should be on God; not the people on the platform.

Contemporary “Christian” worship is not at all glorifying to God. As Christians, we need to build up our defenses against the world and contend for our faith in the area of worship.

The Contemporary Worship Papers, Part 1

This year, I have had the privilege of offering a short lecture series called Earnestly Contending at Fairhaven Baptist College, my alma mater.  During a recent two-day course, we took some time to teach on the issue of contemporary worship.  The students were assigned to write a short paper explaining what is wrong with contemporary worship, and why we must contend for the issue.  As an incentive, I promised to post online any articles that I thought were well-written and compelling. 

Over the next few weeks, I will be posting the papers that I found worthwhile.  I intend to give a day each to what I thought was the top 3 papers.  Prior to that, I will divide the rest of the top ten between two days.

In this installment, I offer you three papers that I believe were worthy of “honorable mention.”  I begin each article with a favorite quote from the paper.

Jennifer Damron

First, we serve a holy God. When we come before our Lord to give Him praise, we should be doing it in humility and respect.

The use of Contemporary Christian music is becoming more and more prevalent in Fundamental Independent Baptist churches. It is seen as simply a modern way of worshiping the Lord instead of sin that is causing many Christians to backslide and churches to be filled with shallow Christianity.

One may ask, what is wrong with Contemporary Christian music? Those who are promoting this type of praise and worship style talk with an air of sincerity that they are truly trying to honor the Lord and worship Him. There are a couple issues though with how they are trying to do this. First, we serve a holy God. When we come before our Lord to give Him praise, we should be doing it in humility and respect. When observing modern contemporary worship bands, from their appearance one does not usually get the sense that they are humble or respecting the Holy Creator in the way they worship. Secondly, the performance is to draw attention to themselves, hence the lights. Their appearance also says they do not respect the King of Kings. Even with our culture changing rapidly, in the 21st century if one were to go before a high ranking official, they would want to look their utmost best. The atmosphere of contemporary music services is “come as you are.” The church service should look and feel like a ceremony honoring a king. We need to be humbled and feel honored that the God of all would allow us to worship Him.

Some may ask if this is something worth standing up for, and the answer is yes! In the 1700s there were many churches that were having problems of weak churches and unsaved members and even pastors being unsaved because of standards lowered. The same will continue if Christians give in to compromising to standards such as our music and how we worship our Lord and Savior.

John Mallinak

Biblical Christianity has always been distinct in nature from the rest of the world.

Contemporary worship is sweeping America. It is not isolated to just one group.  No, it is into every type of Christian church, including the Fundamentalists. The pulpit is replaced by the trap set, suits and ties replaced with jeans and a button-down shirt. All forms of propriety and structure are done away with. All because the church wants to fit in.

Biblical Christianity has always been distinct in nature from the rest of the world. This is necessarily true because of the nature of Biblical Christianity. Down through the ages, any time a nation or a group of people have separated themselves wholly unto God they have been different from the people around them. The Israelites realized this, and this is seen when they asked for a king. Before they had a king in Israel the people were ruled completely through the edicts of God. He gave them the law and they worshipped him. When they asked for a king, they said that they wanted to be like the world around them. This is what the churches of today are doing. This is wrong because it is becoming like the world which is exactly what we are not supposed to do. We are to stand strong and be separate from the world so that we can be the light of the world.

There is, I believe a sub-reason for this as well. This would be that they want to wear what they feel comfortable in, they want to listen to what they like to listen to, and they do not wish to be challenged on any beliefs. They justify this by saying that they are reaching the lost by going to where the lost are. This is wrong because we are to lead the lost from where they are to salvation. Once someone is saved there should be a true change of heart. This change of heart should result in a change in all parts of their lives including how they act.

Contemporary worship has been shown to be just a way that churches are giving in to the world around them.  There is one thing that should never change and that is the reverence that we give to God. We do this by worshipping the right way and not the way of the world.

Jesse Thomas

The United States military requires standards for personal appearance while in public. A member of the armed forces represents the United States of America and its professional military. Their dress indicates a look of readiness and an attitude of professionalism. Christians represent an Almighty God who reigns in heaven and earth. They should dress as sharp as possible, especially when worshipping in the house of God.

Many formerly distinctive independent Baptist churches have fallen to contemporary worship. It starts when the pastor and officers lower their tolerance for sin.  Church leaders want to be accepted in society by following in the footsteps of other popular contemporary worshipers. Pastors who give in to contemporary worship have a weak backbone and are afraid to stand up for truth. The Lord needs pastors who will tend to their flock and warn against any predators.

Contemporary worship begins with the music in the church. The congregation wants music that will make them feel good rather than bring honor and praise to God.  The style in music determines the view of God. If it is upbeat and lax, there is no indication of respect for God’s holiness. Many people want to hear a rhythm that will make them forget about the deeper realities in life. True joy will come when the Christian fully surrenders their music to the Lord.

The dress codes in contemporary churches are sloppy and disgraceful to the Lord. The United States military requires standards for personal appearance while in public. A member of the armed forces represents the United States of America and its professional military. Their dress indicates a look of readiness and an attitude of professionalism.  Christians represent an Almighty God who reigns in heaven and earth. They should dress as sharp as possible, especially when worshipping in the house of God.

Contemporary worshippers have removed the pulpit from the stage, and have replaced it with electric guitars and a trap set. The church service should be centered on the most important thing which is the preaching of the Word of God. Preaching usually occurs behind a pulpit, not a trap set. Contemporary worship leaders direct the attention of the service upon themselves, and the audience is there to cheer them on. Rather, the service is to be centered on the Word of God, and communion is to be amongst Christ and the congregation.

Contemporary Christians have the mindset of “come as you are.” They believe that mercy is a free pass to do what they desire. God is not pleased with the contemporary worship movement spreading through independent Baptist churches. One day, at the judgment seat of Christ, those who turned to contemporary worship will realize how holy and righteous God really is, and how disappointing their worship must have been.

What I’ve Been Up To

As I’ve been away from blogging for a bit, I flatter myself that you the reader might be interested to know what I’ve been up to. If there are any of you left.

It has been a long hiatus, so, as Desi Arnez might say it, “I’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do.”

At the end of October last year (yes, it has been that long!), my daughter and I traveled to Brunswick, Maine to preach for my good friend Pastor Bobby Mitchell.  Mid-Coast Baptist Church is a refreshing place to be.  The people of the church clearly love the Lord and delight in His Word.  I can’t say enough good about this church.  The men are men, and they take the lead in the church.  They are capably pastored and shepherded by Pastor Mitchell.  They love each other and have a heart for the lost.  I met a large number of people who came to Christ under the ministry of the church.  They have a passion to honor God in worship and praise, and a true submission to the Word.  We were honored and delighted to spend a week with this church.

Pastor Mitchell is outspoken for Christ and very bold.  Because of this, I can remember other pastors making judgments about what his church must be like.  Let me assure you, this is a true church of God.  The joy of the Lord fills this place.

My daughter is now in her senior year of high school, so it was a special time for the two of us to spend together.  In addition to the wonderful fellowship we enjoyed with the Mitchell family, we were able to see much of the coast of Maine, from Portland to Camden along Highway 1. My daughter loves to take a long drive, and because it rained most of the time we were there, we spent hours driving up and down the coast, exploring a few of the many peninsulas.

We were also able to visit my good friend Daniel McGovern in Lee during our visit. Daniel spent a summer in Ogden, interning in our church during his college years. His sister Heather taught in our Christian school for two years before marrying this past summer. Heather now lives in Maine as well, and she and her husband stopped by to visit. Overall, it was a great time to catch up with these three fine young people.

My daughter and I returned to Utah on a Monday afternoon at the end of our visit to Maine, and the next morning my wife and I boarded a plane bound for Dublin, Ireland.  We were able to spend two weeks visiting four missionaries supported by our church – one in Ireland, one in Scotland, and two in England. We had a wonderful visit to these places and found that our missionaries are doing tremendous work proclaiming the good news to the lost in these places.

Our flight out of Salt Lake was delayed by more than two hours, which meant that we would miss our connecting flights in Newark and Dulles. Because of this, we were re-routed through San Francisco, where we boarded Aer Lingus for a direct flight to Dublin. We arrived at 11:00 on Wednesday morning and were met at the airport by Andrew Canavan. Andrew’s parents, Dan and Beth Canavan, have served in Dublin for more than twenty years. By God’s gracious provision, their church was enabled to purchase a church building – as far as we are aware, the first Independent Baptist Church to own their own building in Dublin. Andrew has returned to Ireland to follow in his parent’s footsteps as a missionary.  He was an excellent tour guide for us.  We were able to visit Glendalough, home of one of the few intact “high towers” in the world. It was a true Irish experience. Andrew treated us to our very first Irish meal before we headed to his home to prepare for the Wednesday night service. We had the privilege of meeting Pastor and Mrs. Crichton, who spent a few months in Ireland filling in for the Canavans while they were in the States. Pastor Crichton led the Greater Rhode Island Baptist Church for many years prior to retirement. Praise the Lord, they are still serving!

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We were blessed by the people of Hope Baptist Church in Dublin. Several of them rode a bicycle more than an hour in the drizzling rain in order to be in attendance at the midweek service. The people were hungry for the Word – more hungry than I think I have ever seen before.

The next day, we flew to Edinburgh, Scotland after spending the morning touring Dublin with Andrew and the Crichtons. We landed just after dark and stayed by the airport overnight.

Friday morning, we were to hop on a train to Elgin, Scotland.  However, as we rode the bus through Edinburgh, we were overwhelmed at the beauty of this historic city.  My wife has always loved Scotland, and though she didn’t ask, I could tell that she desperately wanted to see Edinburgh Castle.  As a girl, her favorite book was Scottish Chiefs.  So, when we arrived at the train station, we found a place to stow our luggage, figured out the rail system (there are more than 17 different tracks at Edinburgh Station), and then took a walk up the hill to the castle. On the way, we paused to look at a beautiful monument, little knowing that it was the monument to Sir Walter Scott. We were surprised to find a monument right next to that to David Livingstone. And as we walked up the hill to the Castle, we paused to look at a beautiful building, only to discover that it was the University of Edinburgh. Because the door to the courtyard was open, we walked in, and to my surprise found ourselves face-to-face with none other than the monument of John Knox. Edinburgh was full of surprises.

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We boarded our train for Elgin at noon and enjoyed the Scottish countryside the entire way.  Missionary Don Clough met us at the station – actually, at Aldi’s next to the station (yes, we were surprised to find Aldi’s). We used Air BnB to rent a small apartment in Lossiemouth where the Clough family has been serving for the past five years.  Lossiemouth is located on a small point on the North Sea, and our missionaries live right across the street from the Sea.  It was a beautiful place.  Besides the fact that we were surrounded by that wonderful Scottish brogue, my wife absolutely loves the ocean.  It has always been therapeutic to her, and this time was no exception.

The Clough family were very gracious hosts, and we had a wonderful time with them and especially with their children.  On Saturday morning Brother Clough and I took a walk around the entire village of Lossiemouth.  That afternoon, we took a drive to Loch Ness to see the monster.  I learned that the monster’s real name is Harry…

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Kidding.  The main attraction at Loch Ness is Urquhart Castle, which today is a ruin.  Still, enough remains intact to give a true picture of what was a strategic point centuries ago.

Sunday was Remembrance Day, the UK’s version of our Veteran’s Day.  As this was the 100th anniversary of the end of World War 1, the entire UK held large and festive celebrations.  In Lossiemouth, I would estimate that somewhere between 2,000 – 3,000 people turned out for the small parade and memorial service.  Because the Cloughs are not able to rent a facility for Sunday mornings, they hold their Sunday services in the afternoon.  So we were able to be part of the morning festivities.  We wound up at a Church of Scotland – we believed for a short ceremony, but it turned out to be an entire service.  I was glad because it gave me a unique perspective of Scottish life and culture.  The church was packed with somewhere around 400 people.  The pipe organ in that stately old church played the old hymns of the faith and we felt as if we had stepped back in time.  Sadly though, no mention was made of the gospel or the saving grace of Jesus Christ, despite the fact that the pastor preached from the Sermon on the Mount.  What a missed opportunity.

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On Monday, I had the opportunity to join Brother Clough in letterboxing the Village of Keith before my wife and I boarded the train for Carlisle, England.  We arrived in Carlisle just after dark, where we were met by missionary Keith Cashner and his oldest son.  The Cashners have been serving in Scotland and England for about a decade now. Carlisle is a border town, and through history changed hands often between the Scots and the English. Bloody Mary was held in the Carlisle Castle for three days prior to her execution.

On Tuesday morning, the Cashners took us for a quick tour of Carlisle. Then Tuesday afternoon, we joined them for Bible studies, first in their home with two families, and then in a very proper English country home for a separate Bible study with another family. Brother Cashner is a very diligent pastor and takes the time to prepare at least four different Bible studies each week, personalized for the members of his church in order to disciple them. Each Bible study was carefully prepared and rich with instruction. We were thrilled to participate in this part of his ministry. The Cashners have three sons who have grown into fine young men and are an asset to their ministry. We really enjoyed our time with this wonderful family.

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On Wednesday afternoon, we boarded a train for London after spending the morning walking around Carlisle with the Cashners. We arrived in London at 4:30 and were met by our missionaries, Kent and Andrea Gossmeyer. The Gossmeyers serve in the southern part of England – no, they don’t have a southern accent. Unless Oklahoma counts. They serve in the Cornish country in a small village called Liskeard. But they made the four-hour drive to London so that they could take us around to see some sights.

When we arrived in London, we again found a place to stow our luggage before heading to the British Library, where we saw an original copy of the 1611 King James Version, along with a number of ancient documents.  After dinner, we took the Tube to Elephant and Castle where we attended Wednesday night church at the historic Metropolitan Tabernacle. Pastor Peter Masters, now in his 80’s, has been a faithful pastor. The church is thriving, and without the use of any of the modern or contemporary methods that American churches think are necessary to draw a crowd. The service is very simple, and little changed from the days when Charles Spurgeon pastored the church in the 1800’s.  On a Wednesday evening in early November, the basement was crowded with more than 300 people. The head usher tells me that on Sundays, every seat in the auditorium is full and overflow seating fills up before the service.  More than 900 people attend services on Sundays in that church.

The service begins with a lengthy and very passionate prayer, very dignified and yet very rich. The pastor announces the hymn and the piano plays a simple introduction.  The congregation stands as one body, without any direction from the pastor, and the church sings heartily to the Lord. The announcements are straightforward with no joking or cutting up.  One of the men of the church prays another lengthy and meaningful prayer.  Two more hymns are sung – old hymns, often centuries old and doctrinally rich. Then the pastor preaches an expository message. The service concludes with a final hymn.  Then, for nearly an hour after the service concludes, the people talk and fellowship together.  The church serves tea and cookies.

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We were delighted by the service. That night and the next, we stayed by Heathrow Airport. On Thursday, we walked more than 25,000 steps (yes, we kept track) as we visited everything from Windsor Castle to Buckingham Palace to Big Ben to the Tower of London, and plenty of places I am not going to name right now.

Friday morning, we made the drive to Cornwall.  On the way, we drove by Stonehenge, visited Salisbury Cathedral, and visited Bath. My wife had her picture taken with Jane Austen and we chatted a little about Mr. Darcy.  You know how that goes. Mainly, we couldn’t pry Kent away from the footman.

The Gossmeyers provided us with an excellent tour of London.  They really extended themselves, ensuring that we got the most out of our visit.  I especially felt bad for Mrs. Gossmeyer, as she had to haul her husband around town all day, him being quite aged these days.  But he is good at barking orders from his wheelchair.  He makes a great nagivator.  Hopefully, he has recovered his strength.

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We were able to visit Plymouth while in Cornwall. It was great to see the dock where the Mayflower launched, and see the Plymouth Hoe, where Sir Francis Drake calmly finished his game of bowls before launching his ships to defeat the Spanish Armada.

On Sunday, we had the joy of greeting the brethren in Liskeard Baptist Church. God has really blessed the Gossmeyer’s ministry, and today they have a thriving church in that little village. Praise the Lord.

Sunday afternoon my wife and I flew across the Irish Sea to Dublin where we spent the night before our return flight on Monday morning. We were back home for about a week and a half before I traveled to Chesterton to visit my son and attend the wedding of one of our young men. The week after I returned home, my wife traveled to Pennsylvania to spend a week with her mother before Christmas. Our son returned the day after she did, and we enjoyed a wonderful Christmas season as a family.

Sadly, our Christmas was disrupted by the tragic death of my youngest sister, ten years my junior. The doctors believe that her death was the result of a brain aneurysm. My wife and I and our two youngest traveled to Kansas City for the memorial service to celebrate her life. She was a vibrant Christian and made a huge impact on many people, and she will be sorely missed.

Our return trip was slowed by a severe snowstorm through Wyoming.  Wyoming is a beautiful place to travel, but it became very treacherous on this trip.  We praise the Lord that we are home to stay for the time being.  We have never been gone so much.

With such a flurry of travel, we have taken some time to catch up on our work, and as this blog is not my highest priority, I have let it lapse.  It is my intention to get back to blogging now, so be watching – both of you!

 

Blessings!