This is how my brain feels right now.
6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 (CSB)
Grace and peace.
The Church is the one institution that exists for those outside it.
1989 was a pretty big year for me. It was my first year out of high school. It was also the year that Robin and I became a couple. There are moments when it feels like yesterday and there are others when I can feel every single one of those thirty years. Ya’ll know that I’m a music guy so I have been listening to some of the albums that came out that year. I was originally going to do my top ten but once the list grew past twenty I knew that would be a nearly impossible task. I could include numerous albums for various reasons. What I did decide to do was pick the five that I listen to the most now. I am not even going to try to rank them. I am basing this simply on the play counts I’ve pulled from Last.fm, iTunes, and Media Player.
- King’s X – Gretchen Goes To Nebraska
- Rush – Presto
- Tom Petty – Full Moon Fever
- The Connells – Fun & Games
- Nirvana – Bleach
Out of those five I have to say that Fun & Games is the one I have listened to the most since 1989. In full disclosure, I wasn’t listening to Bleach in 1989 (it was probably 1991 before I heard it) but I more than made up for it once I discovered it. Tom Petty, Rush, and King’s X have all gotten massive airplay as well. I can honestly say that all five of there would make a list of my favorite albums of all time.
What are your favorites from 1989?
Grace and peace.
Busy doesn’t quite describe the last two months. There is a lot going on in both my personal and private life. I won’t be sharing much of the personal stuff because I’d rather not have it plastered all across the internet. I will say this, if you are the praying type my family would appreciate your prayers. All of us have things we’re going through and my role as Dad means that I tend to overthink and worry too much. Specifically we need some physical and emotional healing. God’s grace and peace is sufficient and we need to remember that.
I spent last night and this morning uploading past sermons. For some reason I stopped uploading them back at the start of August last year. It took some time but they are now current. You can stream (or download) them HERE. They go back to 8/16/15 so there are quite a few up there. They have gotten somewhat better over time because I’ve gone from recording them to cassette tape and converting them to recording directly to my phone. They’re still not professional quality but you can hear me.
We will be leaving for North Carolina on Thursday, June 20, when Robin gets off work. We’ll drive out to Sylvan Hills pick Chris up from camp early. We’re having a memorial service for Robin’s Dad on Saturday and then going to the OBX to bury his ashes next his mother. We have a house (with Julie and her crew) for the week and hope to relax a bit. We’ll come back Monday (July 1). We have Vacation Bible School the following week (July 8-11) and then I have two weeks of camp out at Sylvan Hills. Should be a busy but productive summer.
I don’t know what else to write so I’ll sign off.
Grace and peace.
I have not forgotten. I have been busy with all sorts of things. I will resume my current project when I read the next chapter.
Grace and peace
Mr. Staton begins this chapter with a story about seeing a fisherman reel in huge fish in Oceanside, California. The fish was so large and strong that the man had to force the fish to the shore to eventually catch it. The longer the fish remained out of water the weaker it got until it finally quit fighting. The analogy is that Christians are to remain IN Christ if we wish to remain strong. Just as a fish cannot survive out of water, Staton suggests that Christians cannot survive outside of Christ.
He goes on to define what he means by being “in” something. His second illustration is how he and his family had moved to California. To say they were “in” California was to describe their physical position. He says that also applies when we say we are “in” Christ as well. We are correctly claiming that we are positioned in Him. We LIVE IN Him. Staton then attempts to explain three ways that this happens.
The first of these is being in Christ the Person. He uses the concept of a child having the DNA of both parents thus having both persons in him. Staton says that God accomplishes something similar on a spiritual level. God’s “sperm” is planted in us (1 John 3:9). I admit that this is the one I scratched my head on simply because of the terms he uses. However, he shows that the Greek (sperma) backs up that concept. He continues be reminding us that not only is Christ “in” us, we are to remain “in” Him as well.
Staton next brings up being in the Presence of Christ. This is not something we are sitting around waiting for. We are IN Christ’s presence right here and now. That means that God Himself is with us. His love and His friendship are with us because of Christ. We remain in His presence then we slowly become more and more like Him. Staton uses the biblical example of the branches and the vine. The more the branches abide in the vine and grow, the more like the branch they become. They produce the same fruit and are identified by the branch itself.
The third aspect is the Perspective of Christ. We are to see the world through the eyes of Christ. We we make Him to focus of our lives, we engage the world as He did. Being in Christ is more than just our private lives or our church lives. We are to be in Him every moment of our lives. We are to go out into the world and take Christ with us. Staton uses the term “penetrate” to describe the influence we should have on those we come into contact with. If we are truly IN Christ then those in the world will meet Him through their interactions with us.
One of the study questions reflects back on Staton’s first definition for being “in” something. He asks what it means to “exist”, “participate in”, “experience”. and be “located” in Christ. I believe it means that being “in” Christ is much more complex than we may think. It is a multi-faceted relationship that will look different for each and every one of us. Ultimately I think it comes down to having the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5). Christ’s Spirit lives in us and makes us new. Staton also suggests that “Christ doesn’t destroy our individuality, but He does want to destroy our individualism.” I would agree with that. We are who we are as individuals but we should be seeking what’s best for the Body of Christ.
Chapter Two picks up there and discusses being part of that Body (the Church).
Grace and peace
I had forgotten that this book was produced in conjunction with the 1983 North American Christian Convention. For those unfamiliar with the N.A.C.C. it was a yearly convention for members of the independent Churches of Christ. It was not a formal convention in that it did not determine policy or dictate the beliefs of the churches involved. It functioned more as a time of teaching and worship for those who identified with the group. I attended one of these conventions in 1986 when it was held in Indianapolis. I always wanted to attend a second one but unfortunately the N.A.C.C. held its final meeting last summer.
The theme for 1983’s N.A.C.C. was In Christ and featured preaching from Floyd Strater, Ken Idleman, E. Ray Jones, Steve Hooks, Marshall Leggett, Tom Ewald, and Ben Merold. There’s a pretty good chance that those of you reading this have no clue who any of those gentlemen are. Some of you may recognize the last name Idleman. Ken is the father of Kyle (author of Not A Fan). The rest are just names unless you happen to be a member of an independent Church of Christ and are old enough. For the record, I am old enough. I have seen at least two of the men preach. It’s possible that I have seen others but I remember meeting brother Merold and brother Leggett on more than one occasion when I was younger. I was also fortunate to see meet the author of the book as well.
Back to the book. It was written as a take home resource for those who attended the convention that year. It was published and distributed by Standard Publishing. Apparently there is a leader’s guide as well. I may get on Google at some point and see if I can track that down. The book is divided into thirteen chapters which expound on the sermons preached during the 1983 convention. Each chapter concludes with questions designed to help the reader continue to process the information presented. The book is set up in such a way that it could be used for Sunday School, small groups, or individual study. It is organized logically and each chapter builds upon the previous one. I can’t remember how I first encountered this book but I know I have read it at least twice. I do confess that it has probably been at least twenty years since I last read it. It will be interesting to see what (if any) cultural references brother Staton makes and if they still work.
I pan to read the first chapter today and then ponder the questions at the end. I will write my response later this evening and will hopefully have that posted tomorrow morning. A quick glance on Amazon.com shows a newer edition (2001) of this book that sells for less than $20. I may pick that one up at some point to compare it this one which is first edition.
Grace and peace
I unintentionally abandoned this for various reasons. Some are more legitimate than others but the biggest one was probably a lack of discipline. I confess it. I own it. That doesn’t mean I want to just toss this to the side. In fact, as I grow more and more weary of most social media platforms I think it may be time for this to become my primary one. That remains to be seen but I thought I would at least post again.
I have some old books by Knofel Staton that were pretty popular when I was a young teenager. I’ve read all three but it has been a while. My plan is to read through them and discuss what I glean from there here. They were all published in 1983 so it will be interesting to see how relevant they are today. Check in if you’re curious and we’ll see how long I stick it out this time.
Grace and peace
Altar Boys – No Substitute (2018 Low-Fidelity Records)
***** out of *****
I first heard the Altar Boys during the summer of 1986 during a session of the North American Christian Convention. The subject of the session was Christian alternatives to secular music. I was a sixteen year old kid who had been raised in the church but loved rock and roll. I also learned about Petra and Stryper at the same seminar. I don’t remember what songs (if any) were played then but I sought out several of the bands once I got home to rural North Carolina. I was able to find Petra and Stryper in the local record store but that was about it. The next year I picked up a K-Tel compilation called Righteous Metal that contained the song You Are Loved. That was my first real experience with Altar Boys and unfortunately would be my last until I picked up Mike Stand’s excellent solo album Simple Expression in 1990. I immediately picked up 1989’s Forever Mercy.
It would take four more years before I actually acquired anything else by the Altar Boys. That finally happened in 1994 when I was freshman at a small Bible College. A previous student had left some of his tapes at a friend’s house and they were given to me. Just like that I had When You’re A Rebel, Gut Level Music, and Against The Grain. I was converted immediately. There was just “something” about the songs that spoke to me. I appreciated the simplicity and sincerity. Although I was more of a metal guy, the Altar Boys became one of my favorite bands. I did continue to follow Mike Stand as he did other things but I always felt like I had missed out because I discovered them after the fact.
Fast forward to 2018 and the announcement that Mike Stand and company are planning to finish and release new Altar Boys’ songs that were written back in 1991 and 1993. This wasn’t the first time that inactive bands put out new projects or finished up old songs. Often times it was just a song or two or re-recorded versions of older tunes. This was promised to be a REAL Altar Boys album. A successful Kickstarter was launched and the album was completed and released. I have been streaming it on Spotify since it came out and it is honestly one of my favorite albums of the year. I recently purchased it digitally and plan to order it on vinyl soon.
Sonically, this is classic Altar Boys. There are shades of Gut Level Music, Against The Grain, and Forever Mercy all throughout the twelve songs. Things kick off with Rebel Rock and it’s like being transported back in time. I don’t believe there is a weak track to be found. The title track keeps the energy level up and things never dip. This collection of songs sounds as fresh and relevant as they would have when originally written. This sounds like a band on fire with passion not only for the music but for the message presented. The production is better than the majority of things produced in today’s Christian music industry which says a lot since it is a independent release. I’ve been trying to pick three or four songs to suggest but can’t. This is a solid release and each track is as good as the one before. I definitely recommend this for anyone who is a fan of straight ahead guitar-driven rock and roll.
You can buy a copy HERE.
If you want to be happy in this life you shouldn’t take the same road as those who are telling you it’s okay to do wrong, or hang around with those who are up to no good, or make yourself at home with those who ridicule God’s ways.
God’s Word will bring you complete joy, especially when you devote yourself to learning it and putting it into practice.
You will be like a mighty tree, planted next to the river. It always produces fresh fruit and there isn’t a dead leaf on it.
Those who reject God’s Word are the exact opposite. They get blown away with every gust of wind. They won’t have a leg to stand on during judgment and there will be no place for them among God’s people.
God will keep His eye on those who obey Him, but those who go in the other direction will only find death
I don’t even remember writing this. This is one of my favorite passages in the entire Bible so it doesn’t surprise me that I did this. I think it came about after leading Junior Week at Sylvan Hills Christian Camp back in July of 2015. That was our theme for the week and we read it out of several different versions. Perhaps I should do more of this from time to time.
Grace and peace.