Blogs (Faith), Life, Life-Ecstatic (Faith)

Music is “Creation” Too

A photo of the tree on Sunday :)

This last Sunday I was commissioned to lead the music and singing for Cornerstone Church South Side and I arrived somewhat early – which was all fair and well for me as it gave me some time to reflect and enjoy the wonderful Autumn morning. I sat by a tree (pictured above) and enjoyed its yellow-orange leaves shower over me, while the sun warmed me up and the chirping of the many birds all around were my soundtrack.

This is the kind of guy I am. I love nature. Creation. Sunrises and falling leaves and blossoms and mysterious, starlit evenings. It’s moments like this when my heart lights up in gratitude and worship. When my restless body finally gets what it needs to settle down – beautiful views, sounds and smells. When my voice shuts up and a greater voice speaks.

I thought to myself, “Now, if only I could bring this creation – all this beauty – into our morning worship.”

Then it hit me. Well, music is also a part of God’s own creation! I’m doing just that!

It seems to me that I’m often distracted by the sheer business of music. Most of my music ‘career’ has been about cool bands and cool hair. Thankfully I grew out of that several years ago. But even still, getting the music right for a Sunday morning; choosing the right songs; working on the dynamics of those songs; keeping up with trends; making sure I get all the cues right… all this business of music makes me forget the beauty of music in itself, its very nature, the fact that God created this stuff. I didn’t invent this. Playing music is, indeed, God-glorifying – it works toward this end just like all of creation works toward this end.

As the heavens tell of the glory of God (Psalm 19:1) so music tells of the glory of God. That’s if we’d let it. If we would get the business of it out of the way – the preferences of style, taste, and skill.

I do believe that sometimes we rely too much on music in church to make ‘things happen’ (whatever that may mean). I do believe that the lyrical content of much of our modern church music is pretty lame and sometimes even damaging to people’s relationship with God. But I have to admit, when sounds and notes go together, the very nature of that… the very nature of music… tells the glory of God. And that makes music joyful for me again, because when eternity comes, we’re really not going to care at all about the business of music. And that’s why we fill our church meeting places with these notes and the sounds of voices that echo the many facets and many stories of a relationship with the same person, Jesus Christ.

Blogs (Faith), Life-Ecstatic (Faith)

Work (Pt 1): A New Approach

work and grapesThis is the first part in a little series of posts I’m going to do about WORK, the thing we do every day and spend most of our lives actually doing.

I hope it’s edifying. As far as I’m concerned the way we view work can really affect the joy in our lives. Work can bring us anxiety, fear, paranoia about our life going nowhere, foolish pride, and a whole host of things that hopefully I’ll cover effectively. Meanwhile, God intends for work to be a joy in our lives. That’s right, a joy. Regardless of what we’re doing.

That doesn’t mean work is meant to replace the joy in our lives — in other words, become our one and only joy. In fact, when it does, then the joy that it can bring us disappears under a layer of selfish ambitions, anxiety about what others think of our work, anxiety about our career, and anxiety whether our lives carry any meaning whatsoever.

Let’s start at the beginning: where work comes from.

God Said It Was Good

God began creation by working. He is the first worker, the first one who worked. And it looks like He took great joy in what He did. Genesis 1 and 2 shows a joyful God who takes pleasure in His work – creation. He calls creation ‘good’ a number of times. Then he creates man and takes pleasure in man as well. He rests on the ‘seventh day’ to indicate that work, too, is not all there is. There is also rest and just enjoying the fruits of labour. The seventh day obviously points towards many other things as well, but for the purpose of this blog we’ll stick to this for now.

On the sixth day, when man was created, God tells man to work.

Genesis 1: 28 – 31
And God blessed them [man]. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Genesis 2: 5 – 8
When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground… then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.

Man was created to work the earth – to take care of it, nurture it, and subdue it. It’s only after the Fall of Man (Gen 3) that work becomes a curse, when it now becomes something of a toil. Gen 3:17 says the ground is cursed and in painful toil we will eat of it, all the days of our lives.

Work was never meant to be a toil, but it is now. However, there is hope. We were created to work and it was a blessing only when we were in fellowship with God. In Jesus Christ, God has restored our fellowship to Himself, meaning that there is a restoration (a salvation) of what we were originally intended to be. Part of this is a restoration of work, where work itself is redeemed in a way. What God gives us is His joy within the work, so that we can undergo the toil and labour of it with a joy still in our hearts.

This has a number of implications, which we’ll look into deeper as we go along.

(1) If God created work, it must be good. If we were created to work, we must work, and in doing so we do one of the things we were made to do – regardless of what we are doing. So menial jobs carry a greater meaning. Also, the point of life is not to try and do whatever we can to stop working. We must work, despite our bank balance.
(2) Work will always be a toil – regardless of what we’re doing. The idea that work can bring us the ultimate joy, purpose and adventure we seek in life is a myth. Work is unable to do that for us.
(3) We needn’t be anxious because God is the one who supplies our needs. He is the redeemer, redeeming our work from its futility and making something out of it.

Work is not our primary purpose and it never was our primary purpose. Knowing God is. But yet we were created to work, so work is a natural thing, it’s part of what man is about, and we don’t work to stop working – we work for many other reasons, which we’ll cover in this series.

Some of these points above may seem contradictory but we’ll iron out the contradictions as we go along. Hopefully, future posts will be shorter too!

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Evolution: Who Cares?

Who cares about the theory of evolution? I don’t.

I know a lot do and I’m not saying that they shouldn’t. But my point is that I’ve often heard people try and trump Christianity because of the evolution question.

“So you’re a Christian? So you believe the world was created in six literal days?” they say.

Why do they equate Christianity with a literal six day creation, though? I don’t get it.

The fact is I don’t care about evolution. God may have created using evolution in some way (intelligent design) or in six literal days. The Bible is open enough for both (it really is) and is primarily concerned about who created and why, not how.

Some people feel the Bible is irrelevant or untrue because it doesn’t display the physics of the universe in Genesis, but rather gives a story about the earth created in six days and a guy and a woman and a talking snake. Imagine, though, if the Bible opened up with the physics of the universe rather. If you ask me, it would be entirely irrelevant.

I’m searching for meaning, for purpose, for relationship, for understanding my heart, changing my heart. I’m searching for love. I’m know I’m not alone in this searching.

These are the things the Bible is giving us – it’s concerned with meaning; it’s concerned with the heart; it’s concerned with our relationship to God; it’s concerned with spirituality. Why the heck should it be used as a scientific textbook to explain how the universe was created? That’s not only boring, it’s irrelevant to humankind’s deepest questions.

Many Christians and those that are not Christians do treat it like some Science textbook, and when they find it short of that they claim it is ‘untrue’. Well, something doesn’t have to be scientific to be true, surely.

That’s why I don’t care about evolution. The ‘how’ God created is fascinating and interesting, and from time to time deserves a little look-see for interest sake, but my life’s quest is for meaning and evolution doesn’t provide that.

What do I believe? That God created. That we walked away from Him. That He loves us and restored our relationship to Him in Jesus. That if we believe Jesus we can know God again, and know who we are again as well.

That, for me, carries meaning. And that’s the point.

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Alister McGrath’s “Natural Theology” Lectures

I’ve stumbled across Alister McGrath’s website and been delighted to see that they are offering his 2009 Gifford Lectures for free in PDF format from the site. The lectures are about “Natural Theology”.

So I’ve downloaded them and started reading them. Very interesting. McGrath is better known for his criticism of Richard Dawkins and atheism. I’ve got a book of his called “The Twilight of Atheism” which I’ve only gotten about half-way through, even though I bought it some time ago. I found it a really interesting book, and am keen to actually get more into McGrath’s stuff.

I can’t say why I’ve been so interested in Natural Theology for a long time now, and finding this has actually helped me understand more that Natural Theology is probably what I’ve been looking for. I think it may be that, in recent times at least, the doctrine of Creation has not taken much of a centre stage and I have a feeling that the atheists have taken over in providing answers from/for creation – or pantheists – much to our detriment.

To counter-act this, many spiritual people have resorted to pantheism or something thereabouts (the new Avatar movie has also brought some thinking in this direction) to try and find something spiritual in creation. This is because they may find the atheist’s look at the whole ordeal lacking in depth. (I do!) The church seems to have avoided the subject in many ways, maybe because of it’s fear of Science and therefore hasn’t provided adequate spiritual answers for creation for those who are seeking. These are at least my thoughts.

If we continue down this road, we’ll have a real onslaught of both Pantheism and Atheism on people’s thinking, even on Christian thinking, simply because contemporary Christian theology isn’t providing any answers of depth in the area of creation.

I think that the doctrine of Omnipresence (God is everywhere) is a much deeper and more beautiful doctrine that Pantheism (God is in everything) as it takes God out of a box. This is only one reason why I think this. But many people haven’t really pondered Omnipresence and creation together. At any rate, I’m excited to go through McGrath’s stuff and hear his insights.

As to Avatar, as I need to mention it since I saw it last night, here’s what I think — It’s long and got a lot of cliches. Having said that, it’s a great CG fest and entertaining – but they really could have cut it shorter. I’m tired of these long drawn-out epic endings.

They should have also stuck to the score at the end of the movie with the credits rather than some random Titanic-sounding song :). At any rate, the movie isn’t the most brilliant thing I’ve ever seen, even though the special effects are quite amazing, but it is entertaining and great to watch in 3D.

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Original Sin and The Sinful Nature pt. 3 : Sex, sexuality and homosexuality

In pt. 2 of my ‘original sin’ blogs, I said that I would get to pt. 3 the following week.

That certainly didn’t happen! But, I guess I felt that the real jist of what I wanted to say was said, and pt. 3 would serve as a summary.


Actually, I’m going to use pt. 3 in a way that represents – more practically – what I am trying to say through my discussion, and see how it would apply to one of the hardest issues of the ‘sinful nature’ that we all seem to experience : sexuality.


In particular, I’m going to look at homosexuality at the end, as it’s my opinion that this has become a problem because of the following issues:


  1. A real lack of understanding that a sin does not equal an identity (ie. if you struggle with homosexuality, that does not mean your identity is ‘homosexual.’ Your identity is in Christ, if you have believed in Him for salvation.)

  2. A lack of understanding about Grace. God is not here measuring how ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ we get things, but is in the process of growing us into Christ- of being (becoming) conformed to the image of His Son. This thing is a process, and within the Christian life sin may lead to death (Romans 6) but does not lead to eternal destruction (the whole New Testament!) ‘Right’ and ‘Wrong’ is now an issue of growth: we discipline our children to grow them, and to bring them into something better; not to judge and condemn them. God is now the same with us (but, let me say, the Christian life is NOT one that’s all about discipline!)

  3. A lack of understanding about Original Sin. (summarized below.)

  4. A lack of understanding about sexuality and sexual desire (the core of my blog entry.)


I’ll try to keep things short!


Okay, so the first two posts have really been centering on point 3 above – original sin. So far, I’ve come to the following very real conclusions :


  1. Sin is not a natural phenomenon; it’s unnatural.

  2. The sinful nature is a twisting of the human nature. In other words, the human nature (as it was created by God) is not the sinful nature. Rather, the sinful nature is a corruption of the created human nature.

  3. The Christian life is one of healing our nature, not one of killing it. In other words, Jesus ‘untwists’ and ‘uncorrupts’ our nature to line up with the original created form and intention. He is perfect in every way, and we are to be conformed to this perfection as we walk the Christian life. This is another way of seeing point 2 above. The Christian life is one of healing. Biblical reference? The life and person Jesus. He makes us ‘whole.’ Mortification of sin does not mean mortification of humanness. In fact, it’s intention is to lead to the very opposite.

  4. Our desires are all good and natural, created by God, beautiful and wonderful in every way. But since we are born without God, our desires and body begin to control us instead of the other way around. The only way to put things back into the proper order (which is far more beautiful and enjoyable) is to submit them to the creator himself. The only way that happens is through the Holy Spirit. The only way that happens is to trust Jesus Christ for your salvation, which means you place all these matters AND your eternal destiny in the hands of Jesus. How? Simple. You ask Him, and He does it.

  5. Because we are born into death, our natural desire to live goes haywire. We inherit death from our parents, which results in a sinful nature. Why? Because we are born into death, not born into or with God. Since we were created to be in constant fellowship with God, our creator, being born without that fellowship and relationship results in the created being (us) twisting and turning on itself; resulting, I think, in the body becoming the focus/control rather than the body being a servant. As another writer (I can’t remember who) put it : the body is a wonderful servant, but a horrible master.


Okay, that summarizes things to the best of my ability without getting too technical and deep. So, it’s easy to see how sexuality now fits in with this.


Firstly, the above then says that our sexuality and sexual desires are all GOOD and wonderful; God created them, and he created pleasure, and I think God is delighted when we enjoy his creation (why wouldn’t He be?)


This is part of the reason why He is so serious about how we express our sexuality, and how we satisfy our totally normal and good and natural desire for sex or intimacy. Because, he wants us to enjoy his creation. But when our desires control us, instead of us controlling our desires (ie, our desires become our master instead of us being master of our desires) we actually find ourselves enjoying His creation less. Things become a mess : we lose relationships, family; things become tainted with guilt; we struggle to understand ourselves and our identity etc. We basically live lives that are far less enjoyable and delightful than God intended. Although having our sexual desire control us may be pleasurable, it is far less pleasurable than being in control of our sexual desires. Besides, anyone with half a brain knows that having your sexual desires control you becomes an absolute nightmare, and we ALL end up going further than we originally ever intended. A porn addiction always starts with ‘just a peek’ but ends up in a mess of watching violent sex and desiring to be a part of what you watch. From there, it can go a number of ways; all of them horrible in their consequences. I don’t know of any man who has gone down that road who doesn’t wish (now) that he didn’t have control over his sexual desires. Despite what TV or porn may tell us, no one is truly enjoying it, especially in the sense of COMPLETE enjoyment – ie. no one is enjoying their sexual addiction on spiritual or relational levels (amongst others.) Porn stars like Jenna Jameson insist that “they’re enjoying their life” but that’s a real relative statement. Are they enjoying living as much as God, their creator, does? I doubt that. “To each his own, whatever blows your hair back” some say, but I disagree with that and agree with CS Lewis here (taken from The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses) :



If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition, when infinite joy is offered us; like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”



When it comes to sex and sexual desire, the problem is that many are living in a cave when God wants to take them out of their cave and see, enjoy, smell, experience, taste, feel, hear the big wide world; and enjoy it! In other words, he really wants to satisfy our desire, but he wants to show us how we can be truly satisfied.


So, we see that our sexual desire is not wrong: how we satisfy it is the problem. We can see that we are not created with an internal dualism of ‘sinful nature’ and something else, but we are born as corrupted beings whom Jesus wants to uncorrupt. So, in this case, God wants to HEAL our sexual desire and bring it into his original intention. He doesn’t want to kill it, he wants to heal it so that we can truly enjoy it; and truly enjoy who we are.


We are sexual beings, but that’s not all we are. How we express our sexuality does not clarify our gender either. Since we are created beings, our creator has already decided how we are to express our sexuality. If this wasn’t the case, then homosexuality would be a gender, not an expression. And, if homosexuality is a gender, then I don’t see how a Christian could argue against it. But it seems evident to me that homosexuality is not a gender, regardless of what any physcologist may say.


What about hermaphrodites? Well, most of the world aren’t hermaphrodites and therefore we can’t try and apply our situation into theirs. I can’t say “well, if God creates hermaphrodites, then he creates homosexuality.” I think we do a little bit of a jump in that case.


Okay, but if there’s nothing wrong with sexual desire is there anything wrong with the desires of the homosexual? I know that most homosexuals didn’t ask to have a desire for the same sex, but I didn’t ask for the desire to have sex with as many women as possible either. That is an issue of lust, which has come as a result of my true nature and real desires being corrupted and twisted. My struggle with that is also not where I place my identity. My identity is in Christ, the perfect human, not in a twisted and corrupted nature.


Is homosexuality an issue of lust? Yes, and no. My desire for intimacy and for a woman isn’t an issue of lust. However, it is most certainly an issue when that desire is expressed in a way that doesn’t line up with God’s created order; when it is expressed in an ‘unnatural’ way. The key here is getting to the core of our sexual desire, which is a desire for intimacy and closeness and pleasure and acceptance and a whole lot of things that aren’t really bodily. Yes, there is a bodily part of sexual desire, but that bodily part needs to be secondary; if it becomes primary, I allow my body to decide for me how I should act and behave, and that’s hardly beneficial to me or anyone. I’m not saying the body is evil (this is my point, it isn’t!) and I’m not saying the body doesn’t count. What I’m saying is that we are whole beings, and therefore our desire for sex is not JUST bodily, but a whole lot of other things too. We need to approach sex holistically, not on separate levels. True, the church has quite often made it all a spiritual issue. Also true, the world and psychology makes it all a bodily issue. All of these things need to be in proper balance in order for my desires to function correctly. So, these other issues are really my true desires within sexual desire, and the same is true for the homosexual.


Therefore, my conclusion is that the person with homosexual desires struggles with lust differently to what I do. Both of our sexual desires are the same, but the way in which we struggle to submit them to God, and the way we struggle to express our sexuality in a natural way (ie, the creator’s way) is different. Homosexuals were not created to have homosexual desires; I was not created to have totally overboard and animalistic desires for women. We were both not created to be lustful beings, even though we were created as sexual beings. We were created to express our sexuality within the created order of God, and we were created to truly enjoy our sexuality and enjoy who God created us to be. I was created to enjoy being a man. Homosexuality actually destroys me truly enjoying who I was created to be.


Your desires controlling you is not a natural situation; it’s unnatural. We all have to struggle with our unnatural state, and we trust Jesus to heal it and form it back into what he originally intended : so that we can truly just be human, which is what God intended us to be. In Christ we can relax and just be, and just be who he created us to be, and allow him to heal us into true humanity; humanity as he created and intended.


I know that many homosexuals may see this as an overly simplistic look, and that it’s easy for me to say this since I don’t desire for the same sex. Well, it’s not easy for me to say. I’ve had to struggle to submit my own haywire sexual desire for women to God; and that aint easy either. It’s wholly unfair to me for a homosexual to say their struggle is worse than mine. I don’t think it is. I think it’s just different. I don’t think the paedophile’s struggle is more difficult either. I think it’s the same : just different. We ALL need Christ to take our sexual desires and heal them into his true, created, human, way. For this reason, any person who passes judgement on someone else’s sexual struggles has missed the point. Justice and righteousness is important; all of us should be treated equally. Therefore, don’t judge the homosexual. Love them as God does.


As for justice and righteousness, we ought to be moving our society into a place where God’s original created intention is expressed. But that (in discussing homosexual marriage) is for another post.


So, I leave us all (me too) with a challenge that is in love and, I believe, on God’s heart. Submit your sexuality, your sexual desire, and your body to God. Let him restore all of these things to his original, most pleasurable, most delightful, most enjoyable, intention.


Allow Him to make you truly man, or truly woman : truly human.


To read Pt 2. of Original Sin and The Sinful nature, click here

To read Pt 1. of Original Sin and the Sinful nature, click here