A Fascinating Lost Email from Larry Norman on Music and Ministry

Our worship music is very often about ‘us’ and ‘I’ more than about God.

Ed Stetzer:

Thanks, Larry,

I appreciate it so much.

One of these days, I would like to get more of your thoughts on Christian music. It is such an important area.

I pray that your health will improve and I am sorry that I had to bother you during this challenging time.

Thanks,
Ed

Larry Norman:

Hi Ed,

I probably won’t call you because it’s 11:30 at night and you only need written permission, not a quote.

I’ve been very touchy about my lyrics in the past, and I’ve usually refused to give my permission. Especially when people want to use me as an example of rebellion. I never thought of myself as a rebel. I was operating as a satirical surgeon; trying to remove an ugly cancer from the church: The dogma which proclaimed that dance, modern music and the theater cannot be used by God because it is wholly profane.

Because I believed that God created all things in life, including the arts, then that meant that all things BELONGED to God. Christians had an obligation to reclaim the arts for the church. They are not the possession, nor the invention, of the secular realm.

But in aiming to set the arts free from a scriptural doctrine, I’ve been very disappointed to see the direction which this liberty has taken people. I don’t see a balance in the exposition of most of the CCM artists’ music, unless it is a bank balance.

And while there is nothing wrong with the artforms themselves, I can only agree in silence many times when Christians accuse the CCM industry of being ungodly in its presentation. It makes me sick to see the tattoos and facial piercings and hair colors. It reminds me of what Babylonian worshippers may have looked like. In our times, some tribes in Africa still stick bones and plates in …

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I-17 ramp-meter lights will be used to warn other motorists of wrong-way drivers

Some of the red lights on I-17 entrance-ramp meters will now be used to prevent traffic from entering the freeway when there’s a wrong-way driver.

      

 

 

'Darkest Minds' author Alexandra Bracken owes career to her dad's love of Star Wars

Scottsdale native Alexandra Bracken’s dystopian novel “Darkest Minds” comes to the big screen Aug. 3. She talks about Star Wars and “toxic fandom.”

      

 

 

Pew: Why Americans Go to Church or Stay Home

Among regular attenders of religious services: 2 in 3 go because of their kids, Catholics half as likely as Protestants to value sermons, and 1 in 5 don’t usually feel God’s presence.

About 2 out of 3 American adults who regularly attend church or other religious services say they go for their kids, for personal comfort, or to become a better person.

The most important reason for going: to become closer to God. Yet 1 in 5 adults who attend monthly or more say they do not usually feel God’s presence; 1 in 4 don’t usually feel a sense of community; and 4 in 10 don’t usually feel connected to their faith’s history.

Meanwhile, Catholic attenders are half as likely as Protestant attenders to say sermons are of enough value to be very important to their attendance.

These are among the results of a new Pew Research Center study, released today, examining 10 reasons why people might attend religious services and 8 reasons why they might not.

Pew has found a decline in attendance at religious services from 2007 to 2014, with about a third of Americans now saying they worship weekly and about a third saying they go rarely or never. However, the self-reported weekly attendance at evangelical churches stayed flat at 58 percent.

Who Attends:

Among US adults who do attend church or other religious services regularly (defined by Pew as attending monthly or more), 7 in 10 say a very important reason they attend is so their children will have a moral foundation (69%). Similar shares attend to become a better person (68%) or for comfort in times of trouble or sorrow (66%).

The most common reason for attendance is to become closer to God (81%), which far and away is also cited as the single most important reason (61%) with every other reason cited by less than a tenth of respondents.

Pew also examined the demographics of regular worshipers. Among the findings:

  • 71% pray daily
  • 56% are women
  • 55% are age 50 or older

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Renewing Your Church: His Greatness Through Your Willingness

God is using the revitalization of the church to demonstrate his glory.

If the mission is to advance the gospel and grow the kingdom, we can’t afford for churches to die at the same rate that we plant new ones. The call of revitalization has to become a priority. God placed that call in my life four years ago.

In February of 2014, I was on staff of a church plant in a suburban area of Columbia, SC. In order to supplement our income as well as help a church in need, my senior pastor and I began working with an inner-city church providing pulpit supply. When my pastor felt led to focus solely on the church plant, the leadership asked if I would stay and lead Rosewood Baptist Church, an 80-year old facility in the heart of downtown Columbia.

After prayer and good counsel, my family and I committed ourselves to Rosewood, a decision that would place me in the hardest, most fulfilling ministry I have ever been part of. I fully believe that God takes us through something to bring us to something so we can do something.

The culture of Rosewood was inwardly-focused and consumer-driven. A small group of long-time members had taken unhealthy possession of the church. It fulfilled every negative stereotype of a dysfunctional church. It had a history of treating their pastors as employees and grinding them up. Each of the last four pastors had left in the shadows of dissension, scandal, or dysfunction.

The focus on missions had been reduced to a small, weekly food pantry. The discipleship focus was limited to a few Sunday School classes that existed more for social interaction than biblical instruction.

The church’s negative reputation was well known in the community. Through decades of denying every request to use the facility, the church had isolated itself while earning a reputation that was as …

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Cab driver found fatally shot near southwest Arizona highway

A cab driver was found fatally shot Tuesday near Highway 95 and police believe the suspect(s) fled in the driver’s taxi.

      

 

 

What a son can learn about women, from the one who raised him

When I told my son he should ask first, I was teaching him respect and consent. It was one of many things I did to instill that all people are equal.

      

 

 

Under the Law: Israeli Christians Worry About Secondary Status in Jewish Nation-State

Palestinian Christians and Messianic Jews cautious as region’s only democracy makes its identity politics official.

In a legislative act both obvious and inflammatory, this month Israel cemented its nature as a Jewish state.

What this means for its Palestinian Christians and Messianic Jews is left unclear.

By a narrow vote in the Knesset, Israel’s legislature, the law entitled “Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People” was adopted to serve alongside over a dozen other “basic laws” that serve as Israel’s de facto constitution.

A key clause states that national self-determination is “unique” to Jews. Other provisions formally establish the nation’s flag, emblem, and anthem. Jerusalem is confirmed as the complete and united capital. The Sabbath and Jewish festivals are declared official days of rest.

But two other clauses have raised considerable concern. Jewish settlement is a “national value” to be promoted. And Arabic is downgraded from an official language to one with “special status.”

“This law outlines that Israel’s democratic values are secondary for non-Jews,” said Shadia Qubti, a Palestinian evangelical living in Nazareth. “It sends a clear message that my language is not welcome and consequently, neither is my cultural and ethnic identity.”

Her fears are echoed by an Israeli lawyer.

“While the idea of the law is straightforward—it’s hard to argue that Israel isn’t a Jewish state—the actual provisions are controversial, discriminatory, and possibly racist,” said Jaime Cowen, former president of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations.

Today the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem also denounced the law as “a cause of great concern” because Palestinians, who make up …

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Prosperity Gospel Taught to 4 in 10 Evangelical Churchgoers

Survey finds most Protestants believe God wants them to prosper financially. But views diverge on whether they must tithe to receive it.

For some Americans, dropping a check into the offering plate at church is a bit like having a Discover Card.

Both offer a cash-back bonus.

About a third of Protestant churchgoers say their congregation teaches that God will bless them if they donate money.

Two-thirds say God wants them to prosper. One in 4 say they have to do something for God to receive material blessings in return.

Those are among the key findings of a new study on “prosperity gospel” beliefs from Nashville-based LifeWay Research, which surveyed 1,010 Americans who attend a Protestant or nondenominational church at least once a month.

Researchers found more than a few churchgoers believe giving to God leads to financial rewards, said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.

“A significant group of churches seem to teach that donations trigger a financial response from God,” said McConnell.

A controversial topic

The belief that God gives financial rewards in exchange for offerings is a central part of the so-called prosperity gospel, which offers a “direct path to the good life,” as Duke professor Kate Bowler puts it.

That belief is both controversial and fairly commonplace.

LifeWay Research found 38 percent of Protestant churchgoers agree with the statement, “My church teaches that if I give more money to my church and charities, God will bless me in return.” Fifty-seven percent disagree, including 40 percent who strongly disagree. Five percent are not sure.

Pentecostal and Assemblies of God churchgoers (53%) are most likely to agree. Churchgoers with evangelical beliefs (41%) are more likely to agree than those without evangelical beliefs (35%).

African-American (51%) and Hispanic churchgoers (43%) are …

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4,000 lightning strikes, 35,000 flashes at peak of monsoon storm in Phoenix area

West Valley cities were hit the hardest from the July 30, 2018, monsoon storm.