30/30 Timer – My New Favorite iPhone Productivity App

30/30 Timer AppWhen I started my dissertation, I knew that it would be hard to keep myself productive and motivated on a year-long, self-planned schedule. What I didn’t realize until recently was that the key to keeping myself on that schedule was not to plan monthly deadlines, but to manage my hourly productivity each time I sat down to work. I’d sit down for an afternoon of research or writing, hit a block (obstacles are everywhere in a dissertation!), and spend 2-3 hours chasing bad leads, looking for distraction, or just staring and waiting for inspiration. Apparently, even a 4 hour block of time is too long for me to be left unsupervised! Enter 30/30.

30/30 Afternoon Study Schedule30/30 lets you create a list of tasks, sort them, assign them durations, and get notifications when it’s time to switch. It’s loosely based on the Pomodoro Technique, but it allows you to set any duration for any task.

My afternoon study list loops through 1 hour read-write blocks and 15 minute breaks. I can pause it at any time. (This week, I’ve found myself pausing at the end of a writing block so that I can get another paragraph or two done while I’m on a roll.)

30/30 helps me work by telling me what to do at this exact moment; it helps me avoid the seemingly endless Feedly breaks and focus on productivity, yet without letting the afternoon look like a long, boring block of time.

Get 30/30 for free in the App Store:

James and Audrey Jo Design

James and Audrey Jo Design

My wife and I just launched a new design site & blog. We love typography art and wanted to be creators, not just consumers. We’re selling variety of printable designs, including hymns, carols, Scripture, and photo cards. Right now, most of our products are Christmas (since it’s December!), but we’ll be adding more season-neutral prints early in the New Year. We’re also blogging some gift ideas and detailed descriptions of our designs.

Just so you’re warned, I’ll be cross-posting links to my articles here. Most of what I’m writing there is explanations of hymn texts and Scripture, so it’ll fit right in with the content you’re used to here.

Please take a minute to check out our new site. If you have specific verses or quotes you’d like to see designed, please send us an email – we love to hear from fans & customers!

Review: How People Change (Lane and Tripp)

How People ChangeReview

How People Change answers the perennial question, “How do I really grow as a Christian?” Lane and Tripp identify a major problem in Christianity: church life, Biblical preaching, and knowledge of God often are disconnected from actual change in behavior and lifestyle (ch 1). After identifying this gap, the authors examine several common “solutions” to this problem, but point out how those ideas fall short or lack essential biblical truths (ch 2). They then orient the book by pointing the reader clearly at Christ’s image by emphasizing our hope in future salvation (ch 3) and our certainty in our present union with Christ (ch 4). After offering this essential hope, they give the needed reminder that relationships with other Christians are key to seeing change (ch 5).

Their solution to this problem is a four-part metaphor: Heat, Thorns, Cross, and Fruit. They present an overview of this answer (ch 6), making clear that redemption in Jesus stands at the center of the solution to our struggle. Heat is any pressure that we face in life; Thorns are our wrong default response, the Cross is what changes our focus from self to Jesus, and Fruit is he new right response to pressure. The following eight chapters flesh out those four parts of the metaphor more fully and the final two chapters tell the story of how this viewpoint enabled a couple and a church to grow in godliness.

The entire book is packed full of realistic examples of to illustrate our need for change and the way to seek it. This is a benefit for visual learners, but for people who just need the facts, the high frequency of examples (and the length they add to the book) may be a drawback.

This book attempts to cover two goals related to lasting Christian growth. The first is communicate the gospel and the believer’s identity in Christ; the second is to give a useful structure for applying those truths to effect life change. The authors do a much better job on the first goal: chapters 1-6 are the meat of this book.

Recommendation

In my opinion, How People Change is a valuable resource. It would be helpful to supplement it with The Gospel Primer to accomplish the first goal and Changed into His Image to accomplish the second for some readers.

You can buy How People Change in paperback or for Kindle.

Favorite Quotes

  • “Whenever we are missing the message of Christ’s indwelling work to progressively transform us, the hole will be filled with a Christian lifestyle that focuses more on externals than on the heart.” [7]
  • “We all have a personal dream of a better life. We examine our lives, decide where change is needed, and imagine what it would look like. The problem is that our desires don’t go deep enough. It is here that the Bible challenges our dreams.” [33]
  • “Christ brings the assets. We bring the liabilities. Yet Christ still joins himself to us!” [53]
  • Psalm 88: “Honest expressions of fear, pain, and doubt were welcome in the place of worship, atonement, and forgiveness.” [100]
  • “The anger we reveal in the middle of trial says more about us than it does about the trial.” [113]
  • “God does not call us to self-loathing, but to a willingness to examine our lives in light of our hope as new creatures in Christ.” [119]
  • “God did not gloss over suffering, but took costly measures to end it.” ([133]
  • “The old sinful me has died. But it has not been replaced with a better me. The replacement is Christ!” [159]
  • “While a Christian should never minimize personal gifts, past problems, or current struggles, these do not displace his or her more fundamental identity of being in Christ.” [159]
  • “A new lifestyle … does not grow out of a stoic obedience to God’s commands, but from a heart that has been captured and captivated by the Giver of those commands.” [173]
  • “What we actually see in [Psalm 4] is God’s grace at work in a man’s heart, empowering him to do things that would be impossible on his own.” [187]

Corrections

  • The “fullness of the Deity … in bodily form” (Col. 2.9) probably does not refer to the dove at Christ’s baptism (44). This is not far removed from the heresy that the divine nature came on Christ during his life. A better understanding of Col. 2.9 is that Christ has always had the fullness of God and that the bodily form entered at his incarnation.
  • While emphasizing the amazing truth of our union with Christ, the authors mishandle two passages. Eph. 5 does not use “marriage as a metaphor to depict Christ’s relationship with his people” (48); it uses the metaphor of “head and body” to apply the Gospel to husbands and wives.
  • Likewise, II Cor. 11.1-3 does not speak of the church as Christ’s wife, but as his betrothed. The attempt to justify this stretch on the basis of Mary and Joseph’s betrothal (49) is weak and fails to recognize cultural differences between 1st century betrothal and modern engagement / marriage.
  • In I Jn. 3.1, the phrase “how great” does come from ποταπος. That word can mean “from what country” in some contexts, but it is a broader word that simply means “of what sort” (Gingrich & Danker’s Shorter Lexicon). There is no basis for interpreting the phrase as “from what planet!” as the authors do (163).

Chapter Outline

  1. The Gospel Gap
    Many Christians today seem unable to visualize and achieve spiritual growth. They’re blinded by sin and distracted by externalism.
  2. Counterfeit Hopes
    When we pursue changes in circumstance, thinking, and behavior as our solution, we miss the true hope of our fullness and new nature in Christ.
  3. Here’s Where God Is Taking You
    We need to look at daily life through the lens of our final destination: Christlikeness in God’s presence.
  4. Married to Christ
    In our union with Christ, we bring liabilities, but he brings countless assets that make possible our spiritual success.
  5. Change Is a Community Project
    Real growth takes place in the context of meaningful, Gospel-centered relationships.
  6. The Big Picture
    God’s Word does not simply address isolated situations, but provides a big picture for living all of life correctly.
  7. Heat 1: God in the Real World
    God understands our struggles and pain; our problems do not surprise him.
  8. Heat 2: You in the Real World
    We become frustrated when we have unrealistic expectations for life in a broken world.
  9. Thorns 1: What Entangles You?
    When we meet with pressure, we naturally respond with denial, hypersensitivity, revenge, paralysis, self-righteousness, or other sinful attitudes and actions.
  10. Thorns 2: Why Do You Get Entangled?
    The reason we produce Thorns while under heat is because our hearts are sinful and tend toward idolatry.
  11. Cross 1: New Identity and New Potential
    We can change because (1) our flesh has been put to death, (2) Christ lives in us, and (3) we now live for Christ’s glory.
  12. Cross 2: The Cross and Daily Living
    Daily life should be focused on the cross’s ramifications and include deliberate repentance and steps of faith.
  13. Fruit 1: Real Heart Change
    Since the heart’s sin is the cause of thorns, heart change is necessary to produce fruit.
  14. Fruit 2: New and Surprising Fruit
    The Bible paints a shocking picture of the glorious fruit that appears in believers’ live; this should give hope and direction.
  15. One Couple’s Story
  16. One Church’s Story

You can buy How People Change in paperback or for Kindle.

Bible Reading (for geeks, nerds, or regular folks with iPhones)

Picture of iPad 2, iPod Touch (4th Gen), and iPhone 4SReading the Bible on my iPad is my new favorite way to do regular reading and meditation. I look for two things in a Bible app: a clean display of the text (without notes / links / distractions) and the availability of help if I want to read more. I also appreciate an app that can track my Bible reading progress and remind me to follow my plan. I’ve found some good apps that give the simplicity of focusing my eyes on the text alone, allow quick access to notes and cross-references if I want to study, and help me track my Bible reading progress.

Highly Recommended Apps

YouVersion

Download the Free YouVersion Bible App from iTunesThe free YouVersion app from LifeChurch.tv has the best feature set. It provides online access to hundreds of Bible translations in several languages, as well as offline access to dozens of those versions (including Ancient Greek). This app also has many built-in reading plans with notifications. Tapping a verse highlights it and displays a small icon that allows you to add a note, share the verse (via Twitter, Facebook, email, or text message), copy the verse to other apps, bookmark, or highlight the verse with a custom color. YouVersion also has a “Live Event” feature that allows users to interact and share during a message or event. This is my favorite Bible app and the one I always use for daily reading.

ESV Bible

Download the Free ESV Bible Bible App from iTunesThe smoothest Bible app is the free ESV Bible app from Crossway. Its interface is clean and fast. As soon as you scroll down, the header disappears and you see the text full-screen. Tapping a verse brings up a list of cross-reference links and a “Create a Note” button. You can also bookmark verses or quickly share them via Twitter, Facebook, or email from this page.

ReadingPlan

Download the Free ReadingPlan App from iTunesThe free ReadingPlan app does just what its name says: lets you select a Bible reading plan and helps you stay on track. It does not have a Bible in it, but it comes with several plans pre-loaded and lets you browse through dozens of others. ReadingPlan will send a daily push notification to your device and allow you to open your preferred Bible app or website to read the passages. The App Store description says that this app will let you “create your own,” however, I haven’t figured out how to create a custom plan yet.

Other Useful Apps

Logos

Download the Free Logos App from iTunesI rarely use the free Logos app. I don’t own a large Logos library package and this app is much more challenging to use than the ESV or YouVersion apps. If you do have a Logos package and use it for daily reading, the ReadingPlan app can open Logos to your current daily reading for you.

Bible+

Download the Free Bible+ App from iTunesThe free Bible+ app from Olive Tree has a few versions available at no charge, but most of the better translations are only available as additional purchase (in-app or through the App Store). The main benefit to this app is split-screen viewing on the iPad. The only time I use this app is when I need to read Greek and English side-by-side.

Conclusion

The best all-around app for Bible reading and plan tracking is YouVersion. It has the most features and versions – and the best price tag.

If you’re already committed to another app for reading and just need to add a plan tracker, get ReadingPlan; it will tailor well with your current reading habits.

Do you have a different favorite Bible reading app? Tell me about it with a comment!

Review: The Supremacy of God in Preaching (Piper)

The Supremacy of God in PreachingThe Trinitarian view of preaching presented in The Supremacy of God in Preaching (John Piper) gives a clear God-ward focus to this part of ministry. The goal is God’s glory; the foundation is Jesus’ cross-work; the power is the Holy Spirit. Also, the pairing of gladness and gravity as the two essential things to communicate is a useful guard against both externalism and flippancy. Throughout the book, exhortations to an earnest preaching ministry abound, filling out the practical counsel with solid motivation.

    1. Why God Should Be Supreme in Preaching
      1. The Goal of Preaching: The Glory of God
        Rom 10.14-15 : Isa 52.7 :: Good news : “Your God reigns”
        “The only submission to the Lordship of Christ that fully magnifies his worth and reflects his beauty is the humble gladness of the human soul in the glory of God in the face of his son” (28-29).
      2. The Ground of Preaching: The Cross of Christ
        1. The Cross as the Ground of the Validity of Preaching
          “God designed a way to vindicate the worth of his glory and at the same time give hope to sinners who have scorned that glory – and what he designed was the death of his Son” (35).
        2. The Cross as the Ground of the Humility of Preaching
          “The cross is the power of God to crucify the pride of both preacher and congregation” (36).
      3. The Gift of Preaching: The Power of the Holy Spirit
        1. Relying on the Gift of the Spirit’s Word – the Bible
          Quote words of Scripture; don’t just summarize passages.
          “The work of the Holy Spirit in the process of interpretation is not to add information, but to give us the discipline to study well, and the humility to accept the truth we find without twisting it, and often a desperately needed discovery or insight in his providential guidance of our work” (46).
        2. Relying on the Gift of the Spirit’s Power in Preaching
          1. Admit to the Lord that I can do nothing without him.
          2. Pray for help.
          3. Trust a specific promise where I can bank my hope for that hour.
          4. Act in the confidence that God will fulfill his Word.
          5. Thank God at the end of message.
      4. The Gravity and Gladness of Preaching
        “Gladness and gravity should be woven together in the life and preaching of a pastor in such a way as to sober the careless soul and sweeten the burdens of the saints” (55).
        “If you don’t give gladness, you don’t give the gospel; you give legalism” (57).
        1. Strive for practical, earnest, glad-hearted holiness in every area of your life.
        2. Make your life – especially the life of your study – a life of constant communion with God in prayer.
        3. Read books that were written by men or women who bleed Bible when you prick them and who are blood-earnest about the truths they discuss.
        4. Direct your mind often to the contemplation of death.
        5. Consider the biblical teaching that as a preacher you will be judged with greater strictness.
        6. Consider the example of Jesus.
        7. Strive with all the strength you have to know God and to humble yourself under his mighty hand.
    2. How to Make God Supreme in Preaching (Guidance from the Ministry of Jonathan Edwards)
      “Choose one great theologian and apply [yourself] throughout life to understanding and mastering his thought” (67).
      1. Keep God Central: The Life of Jonathan Edwards
      2. Submit to Sweet Sovereignty: The Theology of Edwards
        “The goal of all that God does is to preserve and display his glory” (79).
        “The duty of man is to delight in God’s glory” (79).
        “Preaching is a means of grace to assist the saints to persevere. Perseverance is necessary for final salvation. Therefore, every sermon is a ‘salvation sermon’” (81).
      3. Make God Supreme: The Preaching of Edwards
        1. Stir Up Holy Affections
        2. Enlighten the Mind
        3. Saturate with Scripture
        4. Employ Analogies and Images
        5. Use Threat and Warning
        6. Plead for a Response
          Edwards: “Sinners … should be earnestly invited to come and accept of a Savior, and yield their hearts unto him, with all the winning, encouraging arguments for them … that the Gospel affords” (94, from Concerning the Revival, 391).
        7. Probe the Workings of the Heart
        8. Yield to the Holy Spirit in Prayer
          Edwards: “I spent most of my time in thinking of divine things, year after year; often walking alone in the woods and solitary places, for meditation, soliloquy, and prayer” (99, from “Personal Narrative,” Selections, 61).
        9. Be Broken and Tenderhearted
        10. Be Intense
          “Good preaching gives the impression that something very great is at stake” (103).

Qualification: Piper says that “the cross is a witness to the infinite worth of God’s glory and a witness to the immensity of the sin of my pride” (35), against the idea that the cross is a witness to my worth. However, we should be careful not minimize the genuine sacrificial love that the cross displayed.

Disagreement: Piper defines “righteousness of God” as “his unwavering zeal for the exaltation of his own glory” (32). I suppose he could defend this definition by explaining that the ultimate “standard to which God conforms” is his glory-zeal, but that doesn’t make his definition accurate. Justice and moral uprightness are key components of righteousness that should not be omitted as though subservient to glory.

Disagreement: Piper identifies God’s righteousness as an obstacle to his purpose of reflecting his glory in our submission (32). However, I’d contend the righteousness is not the obstacle; our sin is. Preaching does not need to “overcome” the righteousness of God; it needs to overcome our inability to handle that righteousness.

Discussion: Piper suggests finding a theologian and delving deeply into his life and theology. That sounds like a useful idea to me. Do you agree and, if so, do you have any recommendations on whom that theologian should be?

I recommend purchasing The Supremacy of God in paperback or Kindle format.

Review: The Theological Messages of the Old Testament Books

The Theological Messages of the Old Testament BooksDr. Robert Bell’s book The Theological Messages of the Old Testament Books contains a wealth of information and serves as a useful resource for Bible students at both the intermediate and advanced levels. The book begins with an introduction to the discipline of biblical theology and an explanation of the book theology method utilized in the content chapters. Following this introduction, Bell presents the theological messages of the Old Testament books in thirty-three chapters (combining Judges & Ruth; 1 & 2 Samuel; 1 & 2 Kings; 1 & 2 Chronicles; and Obadiah, Joel, & Zephaniah). The book concludes with four appendices (bibliography of book theologies, sermon on a theological theme, sermon on a book theology, and a chart of each book’s theme) and an author index.

The methods followed in this book are the analysis of structure, the analysis of vocabulary, and the analysis of themes. The content chapters do not follow a strict format for the analysis of their book(s), but present the message in a way that reflects the prominent analysis method (structure, vocabulary, or theme). In each chapter, Bell presents significant amounts of data (usually in chart or list format), clear explanations of how that data informs his conclusions, and the conclusions themselves. This allows the reader to both learn the theological message of each book and see the connections between Scriptural data and theological conclusions.

While portions of this book may be challenging to a Bible-student beginner, The Theological Messages of the Old Testament Books is a valuable resource. It serves as an excellent reference, full of theological details and exegetical data.  The book is not merely academic, however. Each chapter also contain a Christ-ward conclusion that provides devotional value.

The Theological Messages of the Old Testament Books is available on Amazon.com.

 

A brief description of three chapters, one from each OT section (historical, poetic, and prophecy) will provide a helpful sample of this book’s contents.

Samuel

Following the original Jewish pattern, Bell treats 1 & 2 Samuel as a single historical book. The four main topics are Yahweh, priest, prophet, and king. He notes that the structure of the book can be divided into four character-based sections (Eli -> Samuel, Samuel -> Saul, Saul -> David, David -> Solomon) and six chiastically arranged appendices (two narratives, two psalms, two records of David’s men). Through these sections, he traces the themes of pride and humility as they play out in the lives of each character, major (Samuel, Saul, David, et al) or minor (Goliath, Nabal, Ahithophel, et al).

Job

Bell identifies the dialogue structure of the book and the unusually high concentration of questions and interrogative words. He presents the following organization of theological truths as lessons to be gained from Job:

  1. Regarding Man
    • Man is a sinner.
    • It is possible for a human to serve God piously with unselfish single-mindedness.
  2. Regarding Satan
    • Satan investigates the men of the earth.
    • Satan accuses the saints before God.
    • Satan is as cruel as possible to the saints.
    • Satan can work his evil only as God allows him.
  3. Regarding God
    • God notices and values the righteousness of the saints.
    • God is good and therefore just.
    • God is the powerful sovereign Creator.
    • God is wise beyond man’s comprehensions.
  4. Regarding Revelation
    • God has revealed Himself to mankind.
    • The truth about God is not always evident from our outward circumstances.

Isaiah

Isaiah, according to Bell, is “ideal for the book-theology method” (282). It deals with the three most prominent theological themes: God, man, and redemption.

  • God: The names of God used in Isaiah (charts included) reveal that He is holy, unique, and sovereign.
  • Man’s Sin: Isaiah uses six different terms to describe man’s sin, summing up them up in two ideas: pride and unbelief.
  • God’s Plan for Mankind: Judgment is necessitated by God’s holiness and is often executed through human agents. The Savior, however, comes to provide deliverance and redemption. He is described as a child, king, servant, branch, stone, and light.
  • The only way for justly condemned sinners to appropriate this deliverance is “faith … in the Savior” (298). Bell notes that the full Messianic theology of Isaiah makes it a valuable and powerful source for Gospel preaching.

 

Why Mark Driscoll is being criticized

John MacArthur has started the current wave of criticism against Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church, Seattle.

Paleoevangelical appreciates and qualifies MacArthur’s criticism in two posts.

Chris Anderson posted his two cents’ worth.

Bob Bixby jumps into the fray with a dismantling of one Driscoll sermon that he heard.

Dave Doran deals with Driscoll’s doctrine.

Scott Aniol comments with a summary of previous posts.

And of course, I’m certain that there are others.

The substance of the criticisms is not hard to identify. They accuse Driscoll of distracting people from the Bible’s message by filling his sermons with humor. Some criticize the edgy/crass/lewd character of some of Driscoll’s language, jokes and content. Others claim that his doctrine is shallow, odd or wrong. He even gets picked on for his wardrobe and other aspects of his attempt at contextualization. All those criticisms can be backed up with varied levels of evidence and are, to some degree, true.

But why has this situation arisen? Why is Driscoll committing these errors? Ben at Paleoevangelical posts a quotation from a Driscoll sermon in which Mark Driscoll himself shares (with statements I’ve heard him make in other messages) what I believe is the root of all the areas that are being attacked:

I should’ve waited to plant this church. I had never been a pastor in a church before I started my own church…

I had not even been a member of a church when I started my own…

Had I to do it over again, I would have become a member of a church, I would have worked through the eldership process at a church, I would have subjected myself to the elders. I would have received rebuke and correction and exhortation. They would have talked to me about my pride and my anger and my bitterness, my short temper, my self-sufficiency–a whole list of things that needed work, and I would have humbled myself. And then when they confirmed that it was time, God could have lifted me up to go start Mars Hill.

That’s the heart of this issue, I’m convinced. I’d suspect that each and every criticism against Driscoll is a criticism of some expression of ministry immaturity. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Driscoll sees this problem and, with his usual frankness, admits this with a humble apology some time down the road.

God saw this situation coming and gave us a word about it in advance: “He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil” (I Tim. 3.6). Mark Driscoll echoed what Paul wrote about the qualifications for a pastor when he said, “If I could do it over differently, I would.” Paul would tell him, “Yes, you should have waited and matured before becoming a pastor – it’s dangerous for people who are so young in faith to be church leaders.”

Paul warned would-be pastors about becoming “puffed up with conceit;” Driscoll regrets that his “arrogance, braggadociosness, pride, self-sufficiency… hurt the health of Mars Hill early on.”

The fact that Pastor Driscoll recognizes that his ministry immaturity allowed his pride to damage his church is a sign that he is growing. He wishes he could start over and spend time under the corrective authority of mature Christians; I hope that he listens to Dr. MacArthur’s well-reasoned and Scriptural rebuke with a teachable attitude.

I also hope that every blogger who “warns his readers” about Mark Driscoll’s preaching and ministry (a-hem, let’s hope that “warnings” aren’t a guise for attacks, gossip and slander) will also pray that Driscoll will grow in grace, mature in ministry and escape “the condemnation of the devil” (I Tim. 3.6). He is our brother, not our enemy, and any criticism written or typed should be washed in love and prayer. Don’t forget how Samuel rebuked Saul : “it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night” (I Sam. 15 KJV)!

May God give Pastor Driscoll grace to hear and live Peter’s pastoral exhortation: Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (I Pet. 5.5).

God of Mercy

God of MercyLast night, SoundForth presented its latest CD in the Bible Conference premiere concert.  God of Mercy is an excellent collection of new and old hymns sung and played by the BJU Singers & Orchestra.

I especially enjoy Dan Forrest’s setting of “How Firm a Foundation” – he does a great job creating an early American sound and communicating the strength and security that we find in God.  “Beneath the Cross” is a reflective song that encourages us to meditate on the forgiveness we receive from Christ and how that forgiveness affects daily life.  My favorite track is “Before the Throne of God Above” – I love the paradox of my unworthiness before Christ and my security in him!  This arrangement builds to a triumphant finish as the words remind us of our unbreakable union with Christ!

God of Mercy is available from SoundForth or via download at SacredAudio.com.  (The SacredAudio page includes a free bonus track that isn’t included on the CD.)

God Himself Is With Us

God Himself Is With Us Scott Aniol of Religious Affections Ministries recently released a CD of vocal solos and duets called God Himself Is With Us.  This CD of worship music focuses on what God has done to save sinners and how saved sinners should respond to God.  As a whole, the music is meditative and clear; the arrangements quietly complement the thought-provoking texts.

My personal favorites on this CD are “God of Grace” (a newer song that moves from redemption to daily life to resurrection hope), “My Song Is Love Unknown” (a beautiful setting of praise for the unspeakable love that Christ shows us in his sacrifice) and “My God, I Love Thee” (a haunting arrangement of a text that reflects the meager love that we return to our infinitely loving Savior).

You can hear some samples here and purchase the CD here.

God gives gifts to men and men glorify him by excelling in those gifts.

God gives gifts to men and men glorify him by excelling in those gifts – whether they’re saved or not.  All people bear God’s image (marred, yes, but God’s image nonetheless) and when they reflect his creativity and beauty and joy through musical talents, that brings glory to their Maker.

The King's SingersI thoroughly enjoyed the King’s Singers Christmas concert I heard last night.  It was hands-down the best classical concert I’ve attended (and I’ve been to a few thanks to my alma mater’s Artist Series programs)!  I’ve been a fan for a few years and jumped at the opportunity to go to a live concert.  It was held at Clemson University’s Brooks Center – a beautiful hall with excellent sound.  I’ll definitely be watching their schedule for future concerts.

But the King’s Singers – they were phenomenal!  They had chosen a balanced program of familiar Christmas favorites, little-known carols from past eras and seasonal songs from a variety of countries.  I could describe them, but really, an audio sample is worth a thousand words!  Let me highlight a few of my favorite selections from the concert; the links will point you to Amazon’s MP3 Store and the iTunes Store (if available).

Lullay, My Liking Amazon | iTunes

The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)   Amazon | iTunes

Gaudete, Christus Is Natus Amazon | iTunes

Deck the Hall Amazon | iTunes

What Child Is This? Amazon | iTunes

Note about “What Child Is This?”: at the concert, the King’s Singers performed the beautiful Greensleeves arrangement heard in the sample – but with the Christmas text.  Their recordings, however, only use the English folk song lyrics.  During the concert, I was especially blessed by the salvation truths of the words to “What Child Is This?” and it is certainly my favorite song from the program.  When they record their next Christmas CD (no, the first four are not enough!), I sincerely hope that the CD will contain this beautiful arrangement with the Christmas words!

And to top off a perfectly wonderful concert, the Singers were in the lobby signing autographs, talking with concert-goers and being genuinely friendly people.  Thank you, King’s Singers, for a splendid evening!

The King's Singers