An Interview About Singing by Mark Dever and Keith Getty

Be encouraged by listening to this excellent interview between Mark Dever (Capitol Hill Baptist; Nine Marks) and Keith Getty (Getty Music) on topics like congregational singing, hymn-writing, and church music.

(Bonus: Mark Dever, known for his powerful speaking voice, breaks into vibrato at random moments).

Eight Highlights (with minute markers):

  1. (28:00) When it comes to singing in congregational worship, pastors must keep these three things in mind. (1) Curate the songs (“what are the 20, 50, 80 hymns we want our congregation to grow old with.”) (2) Be active in choosing the songs each week. (3) Sing great songs (“life’s too short to sing stupid ones”). (Getty)
  2. (33:00) “Something that wrecked music for congregational singing in churches was when the rock concert of the 1960’s became the youth group of the 1970’s which became the church of the 1980’s.” (Dever)
  3. (36:00) What are four songs you’ve written that are great for congregational singing? (1) Speak O Lord (2) Power of the cross (3) O Church Arise (4) For the Cause (Getty)
  4. (39:00) “In the controversy regarding ‘In Christ Alone’, we refused to change the wording of God’s wrath being satisfied.”
  5. (42:00) In the past, when life got tough, rebellious people went back to church. Now, when life gets tough, people leave church because the songs are so utterly vacuous. (Getty)
  6. (44:00) John MacArthur’s parenting tip to Getty: ‘We filled every car and every room of the house with songs of the Lord. Our family sang!”
  7. (47:00) How can pastors improve congregational singing? (1) The pastor is in charge of singing. (2) Invest in your musicians. (3) Encourage the flock’s family to sing. (Getty)
  8. (59:00) Dever closes by reading a lengthy but incredibly moving email from an African-American young man who loves singing the reverent hymns of the faith.
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How Should Calvinists Plead?

screen-shot-2017-02-12-at-2-47-12-pmIf you want your son to be a great evangelist, give him the sermons of eminent preachers like Jonathan Edwards, John Paton, John Knox, John MacArthur, John Chrysostom, John Bunyan, John Piper, John Calvin, John Wycliffe, and John Hus.

Also, name him John.

Breaking the mold is George Whitefield, probably the greatest evangelist since the Apostle Paul. His sermons on both sides of the Atlantic are estimated at 30,000. God used Whitfield during the Great Awakening to bring about one of the greatest revivals in the history of the church.

He wasn’t just a Calvinist, he was a high Calvinist. He held the doctrines of grace to the highest degree, including the doctrine of reprobation. “I have never read Calvin,” he said. “My Calvinism comes from Jesus himself.” Elsewhere he remarked: “We are all born Arminians and it is grace that makes us Calvinists.” Continue reading

Overcoming Fear in Evangelism

IMG_0832On October 1, 1866, the young Samuel Clemens—later known as Mark Twain—walked the roadway gripped with fear. His first comedy routine was just a day away and he had come to realize that his material was anything but funny. Earlier that day he had hired three stormy voiced men to sit in the audience and laugh with gusto.

But now he happened to pass on the street a drunken character that said to Twain: “You don’t know me, but that don’t matter. I haven’t got a cent, but if you knew how bad I wanted to laugh, you’d give me a ticket. Come, now, what do you say?”

Anyone familiar with evangelism knows that this is not how unbelievers approach the gospel. “If you only knew how badly I want to follow Jesus and receive eternal life, who’d give me the truth. What do you say?”

FEAR MAKES US COWARDS

But we are afraid to tell our family, neighbors, and co-workers about Jesus, and fear can turn us into cowards. The chief priests and scribes sought to put Jesus to death because they “feared the people” (Lk. 22:2). The blind man’s parents didn’t evangelize because they “feared the Jews” (Jn. 9:22). Government big wigs in Israel believed in Jesus but wouldn’t confess him for “fear of the Pharisees” (Jn. 12:42). Herod kept John the Baptist alive because he “feared the people” (Matt. 14:5). Joseph of Arimathea was a secret disciple of Jesus for “fear of the Jews” (John 19:38).

WHEN FEAR IS GOOD

A few preliminary points may help here. First, our goal in evangelism should not be to eliminate fear all together. Rather, we must strive to work through the fear and overcome it. Even the great apostle Paul ministered to the Corinthians “in fear and much trembling” (1 Cor. 2:3).

Second, fear in evangelism is healthy and mixes well with other emotions. Matthew tells us that the women at Jesus’ tomb left “with fear and great joy” (28:8). After Jesus raised the widow’s son, Luke tells us: “fear filled them all, and they glorified God” (Luke 7:16). So fear mixes well with joy and worship. It also blends well with evangelism. If we never felt the sting of terror while telling our boss the Gospel or our neighbor the truth of Christ, we would be tempted to forget the enormity of the message. We talk of football and shopping casually. We speak of Jesus and redemption with measured trepidation.

Finally, the object of our fear must be the Creator, not the creature. Christians are commanded to “fear [Jesus] who has authority to cast into hell (Luke 12:5), but not to fear suffering (1 Peter 3:14). “Knowing the fear of the Lord we persuade others” (2 Cor. 5:11), but we are not to fear man (Prov. 29:25).  Continue reading

“How Much Humor Should Be Used in Preaching?”

When a lady accused Charles Spurgeon of using too much humor in his sermons, he told her: “Well, madam, you may very well be right; but if you knew the number of jokes I do not tell, and the number of things that I refrain from saying you would give me more credit than you are giving me.”

As stated in Preaching and Preachers, the rule Martyn Lloyd-Jones uses for humor in preaching is that it was only allowable if it is natural. The Doctor uses the word “abomination” for the preacher who tries to be funny. Spurgeon was a naturally humorous man. Whitefield was very serious. So the preacher must know himself. Lloyd-Jones:

I would not dare to say there is no place for humor in preaching; but I do suggest that it should not be a very big place because of the nature of the work, and because of the character of the Truth with which we are dealing. The preacher is dealing with and concerned about souls and their destiny. He is standing between God and men and acting as an ambassador for Christ. (241)