on the doorposts

Monday, March 19, 2007

u.s. attorneygate, bad explanations, and the rule of law

Eight U.S. Attorneys were fired by the Bush Administration -- seven in one day -- in December, 2006.

A few die-hard Republican apologists are defending the President and his Attorney General, Alberto "Fred" Gonzales, by pointing out that U.S. Attorneys serve at the President's pleasure and may be terminated at any time. But something is unusual about this, and the Congress has been rightly provoked.

One may recall that Janet Reno, President Bill Clinton's Attorney General, relieved all 93 sitting U.S. Attorneys, at the beginning of the new administration. This is accepted. Firing 8, 10, 12 or every single U.S. Attorney would have been winked at in 2000 or 2004. But not in 2007.

The explanation? "Performance-related." Friends, that is not good enough. Click here to see the eight U.S. Attorney names, photos, and job performance feedback:


Granted, there are things none of us know about what happens in the U.S. Attorneys' offices across the country. Please notice, however, that these eight individuals consist of six Republicans and two Independents. Apparently, they weren't "Republican" enough -- and they may have been just a bit too "Independent." As it turns out, all eight U.S. Attorneys in question had investigated (and in some cases, prosecuted) Republican lawmakers involved in some form of public corruption or other. From what we're quickly finding out now, they were also overseeing corruption cases at the time of their firing.

It may have been a timely firing for the President and his party. Sadly, it may have been an untimely firing for American citizens and taxpayers.

We should expect both Democrat and Republican senators to ask tough questions. What does it say about the rule of law when our defenders of the law are dismissed because of their very loyalty to the law?

Americans should follow this developing story closely.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

crisis in education

Time.com has called Dr. R. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the “reigning intellectual of the evangelical movement in the U.S.” In the current issue of Southern Seminary Magazine (The Tie), Dr. Mohler addressed America's crisis in education. These excerpts represent both his introductory and closing thoughts:

"The American educational system is in an undeclared state of disaster, with competing ideologies and shifting worldviews undermining the very nature of education itself. In the state-controlled school systems, ideologies of naturalism, secularism, materialism and moral relativism shape the prevailing culture and worldview. A pernicious new imposition of “tolerance” as an ideology threatens to silence all voices resistant to absolute relativism."

"Our Christian responsibility is not completed when we have come to terms with the current secular disaster and described its consequences — not by a long shot. Our responsibility is to remind and instruct parents of their urgent responsibility, to motivate churches to action and faithful response, and to reawaken the Christian mind in this generation. If we fail at this task, generations to follow will know darkness rather than light and ignorance rather than wisdom — and it will be our fault."

Click here to read the entire article: http://www.sbts.edu/pdf/tie/2006Winter.pdf

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Nearly a year has passed since I posted remarks here. The lapse saw good changes in our family, seasons of both challenge and joy, and many wonderful opportunities to observe the constant hand of God's provision.

I am thankful to God for His loving care. Paul reminded the believers in Colosse to demonstrate their thankfulness to God through singing!

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God." Colossians 3:16

When the song is from my heart -- whether it be a historic hymn of the faith or the simplest chorus of praise and adoration -- my singing will bless those who are worshipping together with me. Listen to the voices around you, and you will be strongly encouraged. I hear the church, and I remember to keep my eyes upon the Lord. ...To rely upon Him who is always faithful.

My singing will also bless the Lord. "Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise!" Psalm 95:1-2

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

let the word of Christ dwell in you... singing

To the Ephesus church, Paul encouraged believers to "be filled with the Spirit," and then sing. To the Colosse church, Paul's words regarding "psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs" were nearly the same, but were preceded by an exhortation to "let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom..." (Colossians 3:16).

In both epistles, Paul seems less concerned about the song list than he is about the spiritual condition of the congregation singing the songs. Being filled with the Spirit and being filled with the Word of God fosters a worship environment that is dynamic and edifying.

Who should be edified through songs, hymns, and spiritual songs? Paul's prayer in Ephesians 3:14-19 concludes with a statement ascribing glory to the Lord: "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen" (Ephesians 3:20-21).

Giving glory and praise to God should be the pinnacle of our singing in the church! "...With thankfulness in your hearts to God" (Colossians 3:16). "...Making melody to the Lord with all your heart." (Ephesians 5:19). When music is not Christ-centered -- when He is not the consuming reason for our songs -- the "praise" becomes routine, predictable, and not much more than a bland sort of liturgical exercise.

Paul spoke of singing "to God." He would have the church "making melody to the Lord." If believers sing only to themselves, they fail to ascend to the pinnacle of praise. Paul's approach to singing in the church followed a pattern, as evidenced by his writing to two separate church congregations:

  1. Embrace and Demonstrate a Spirit-Filled, Word-of-Christ-Indwelt Reality
  2. Address -- Teach and Admonish -- One Another in Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs
  3. Sing and Make Melody -- With Thankfulness -- Directly to the Lord

In my next post, I'll discuss the 'horizontal' and 'vertical' aspects of music and praise in the church -- addressing "one another" and addressing "the Lord."

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

be filled with the Spirit... singing

When the Apostle Paul exhorted the church in Ephesus to "be filled with the Spirit...," he was constrasting this Spirit-filled potential with drunkenness. "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit..." (Ephesians 5:18).

The thought here is that one may give himself over to the Spirit of God -- to be wholly influenced and directed. Paul's vision is that the church experience this Spirit-filled blessing together as a congregation of believers, for they are to sing together, "...addressing one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs" (Eph. 5:19).

I think it is important to note that the singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs flowed out from the congregation's willingness to yield themselves fully to the Holy Spirit. This sense of abandonment to God stands in direct contrast to the losing of oneself in strong drink. Being willing to surrender fully to the rich working of God's Spirit seems to be the precursor to glorious music in the church.

In my next post, I'll touch on Paul's similar message to the Colossian church, "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly... singing!"

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

when the church sings

"...But be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart." Ephesians 5:18-19

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God." Colossians 3:16

Make no mistake about it, the Apostle Paul believed that the churches should be singing. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he instructed at least two of the city churches -- Ephesus and Colosse -- to sing their "psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs."

I would dare say there isn't a Christian church in any part of the world that does not have a musical tradition of one sort or another. We are a singing people. As a musician, worship leader, orchestral & choral arranger, and pastor, I've rolled these two passages from the Pauline epistles around in my heart and mind for years. Lately, events have brought them front and center in my thinking once again. As the Lord allows, I'll collapse around these verses for the next several weeks, posting ideas that have challenged my faith and practice.

Lest the proverbial cart finds its place (wrongly) before the horse, I should say at the outset that Paul's concerns were probably not related to singing, per se, nearly so much as they were driven by God's calling for the local church to experience -- and demonstrate -- a Spirit-filled, Word-of-Christ-indwelt reality, both in the devotional lives of its members and in the worship life of its congregation. I'll begin to comment more on that topic tomorrow, the Lord willing.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

united arab emirates & partiality to the wicked

Do you believe a foreign company should administrate major U.S. ports? President Bush does. Do you think the United Arab Emirates should occupy the role of gatekeeper? President Bush does.

Key voices from both the Democrat and Republican Parties are raising loud opposition. The Associated Press released a story an hour ago indicating that the Dubai state-owned company is willing to "delay" its takeover.

WASHINGTON - A United Arab Emirates company offered Thursday to delay part of its $6.8 billion takeover of most operations at six U.S. ports to give the Bush administration more time to convince skeptical lawmakers the deal poses no
security risks.

U.S. lawmakers and the press seem generally concerned about security issues. What I don't see them mentioning is American jobs. Most citizens didn't know that a British company presently operates the ports in question. Why is the Administration unwilling to hire and train American workers to run the ports? Are we simply that inept?

I believe we're still blessed by God with talented, innovative, and resourceful domestic firms that would doubtless appreciate the opportunity to contribute both to American commerce and security. Let's keep American dollars at home and put able executives and managers to work. Presumably, Dubai Ports World would hire domestic labor, but the fact remains this stands to become a major financial windfall for the Arabs.

Perhaps the greatest concern, however, is that President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and the Administration are planning to favor an Islamic state with this crucial assignment. The fact that the UAE are perceived as allies in the "war on terror" is not relevant to this point. We're planning to reward a people who deny the Gospel of Jesus Christ with tremendous fiscal gain -- at the expense of Christian families.

"It is not good to be partial to the wicked or to deprive the righteous of justice." Proverbs 18:5.