Category Archives: Music

Worshipping at the Downtown GetDown

This morning, the “Dave Krok Experience”–Dave, Jack, Ron, Jessica, Stephanie, Keli, and Lauren–one of First Central Bible Church‘s worship team played on the stage at the Chicopee Downtown GetDown. From 11:00AM – 12 Noon, they were the featured band on the stage in front of the old library. A number of FCBC folks were present to encourage and worship along with the team. Our presence led to a number of conversations during the concert and afterwards.


The pros & cons of using hymnals in church

Blogger Tim Challies has written two posts on the subject of using hymnals in church.

“What we lost when we lost our hymnals” describes the downside of using projected words instead of hymnals.

“What we gained when we lost the hymnal” describes the upside of using projected words instead of hymnals.

Neither article will convince you if you hold the opposite opinion. But Tim does a good job of being objective about the challenges inherent in the topic.

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Posted by on April 18, 2017 in Church, Music, Tim Challies, Worship


Where were you?

For my parents’ generation, the question was, “Where were you on December 7, 1942?” (The day Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese.)

For my generation, the question was, “Where were you on November 22, 1963?” (The day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.)

For my children’s generation, the question was, “Where were you on September 11, 2001?” (The day terrorists flew airplanes into the twin towers in New York City and the Pentagon, and tried to fly one into the White House.)

The question brings to mind one posed by African-American slaves in the famous 19th Century hymn, “Were you there?”

Were you there when they crucified my Lord? (Were you there?)

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

O! Sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?


Were you there when they nailed him to the cross? (Were you there?)

Were you there when they nailed him to the cross?

O! Sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!

Were you there when they nailed him to the cross?


Were you there when they pierced him in the side? (Were you there?)

Were you there when they pierced him in the side?

O! Sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!

Were you there when they pierced him in the side?


Were you there when the sun refused to shine? (Were you there?)

Were you there when the sun refused to shine?

O! Sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!

Were you there when the sun refused to shine?


While each generation may be shaped by tragedy, all generations can find hope in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.


Posted by on September 11, 2015 in Music, News stories


Sin? Seriously?

In places with long and snowy winters, roads are often salted to melt ice. One result is that cars have a tendency to rust from the salt. Some try to deal with this problem by painting over the rust. Instead of solving the problem, it only delays the inevitable. The paint will temporarily cover the rust but fails to deal with the underlying problem. The rust has to be removed or the panel on the car replaced.

In the same way, many people simply “cover up” their sin by ensuring that no one sees it. They often try to ignore it themselves. In Mark 9:42-50, Jesus explains that A Christ-follower takes sin seriously. A true disciple avoids sin at all costs.

This is one of those passages that should come with a warning, “Danger: Hard hat and steel toed boots required in this area.” Rather than avoid sin, our culture tells us to feed our desires. We are entitled to do whatever we want. Rather than risk offending people, the church and the Christian community buys into the philosophy and avoids calling anything, “sin.”

If we are serious about discipleship and following Christ, we have to deal with sin. A true follower of Jesus will not cause others to sin (42), they will not allow themselves to fall into sin (43-48), and they will purify their lives through sacrifice and obedience (49-50).

Jesus makes a shocking statement when he says that it would be better to drown in the deepest part of the sea with no hope of escape that to face God’s judgment for leading an immature believer into sin (42). We can lead someone into sin through direct temptation, indirect temptation, setting a poor example, or failing to stimulate others to righteousness. Pastors and teachers need to pay attention to this warning (James 3:1), but so do parents (Ephesians 6:4), and all believers (Hebrews 3:13; 6:24). We all have the responsibility to build up others.

Jesus says that sin is so serious and the consequences so high that we are to take drastic measures to avoid falling into sin (43-48). In the same way that a doctor surgically removes a cancerous limb to prevent the disease from spreading throughout our body, so we should remove sin from our lives. A true disciple doesn’t allow themselves to fall into sin.

While Christ doesn’t advocate literal dismemberment, he does encourage removing anything we do (our hand), anywhere we go (our feet), and anything we see (our eyes) that might lead us into sin. It would be better to enter heaven maimed, than to go to hell with two hands, two feet, and 20/20 vision.

This is one of those passages where we want to press the mute button. We don’t like the idea of hell being real. We’re uncomfortable with hell being a place of eternal torment. We resist the idea of denying ourselves any of the pleasures of life. And yet, that is exactly what Jesus says.

Are there any activities you participate in that would embarrass you if they came to light? Are you crossing the line by going to some establishments where you don’t belong? Is there anything in your Netflix queue or your Internet browsing history that leads you away from Christ? If the answer is “Yes,” then stop doing, stop going, stop watching, and stop reading!

Avoiding leading others into sin is commendable. Preventing yourself from sinning is wise. Both are only possible if we commit to staying pure through sacrifice and obedience (49-50). When Jesus says that we will be “salted with fire,” he is referring to the Old Testament sacrifices that were accompanied by salt. To salt a sacrifice meant to purify it. As disciples, we are living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). Our lives are to be seasoned with salt.

Rather than competing for positions of prominence (9:33-34) and criticizing those outside our camp (9:38-39), we are to live in peace with one another. This is only possible if we get rid of the sin in our lives.

When it comes to sin, a Christ follower avoids sin at all costs. We don’t cause others to sin. We don’t give into sin ourselves. Instead, we keep our lives pure. There can be no halfway measures. The price is much too high.

(I concluded the message by showing the music video, “Slow Fade,” by Casting Crowns, challenging people to recommit themselves to holiness and personal purity.)

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on July 26, 2015. It is part of a series in the Gospel of Mark. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.


Refreshed by truth and beauty

IMG_0014Last night, Carol and I drove an hour south to the Oakdale Theater in Wallingford, CT, to see The Piano Guys in concert. It was an uplifting evening. The concert of piano and cello music was a mixture of classical, pop, sacred, rock, and Christmas music in an atmosphere of passion, energy, creativity, and pure fun.

Beyond enjoying the music, I took away two lessons.

IMG_0015We immersed ourselves in an atmosphere of truth and beauty as we enjoyed the music. It was uplifting, encouraging, and refreshing. I need more experiences and times of refreshment like that. I came away renewed and encouraged.

The artists are Mormons who believe in God. Since they are not Christ followers, we certainly differ on what it means to be saved. (Steven Sharp Nelson gave a somewhat awkward explanation of the words of the Christmas carol, “O Come, O Come Immanuel,” and what it means to be ransomed.) That being said, they play with passion, energy, and joy. IMG_0017They use their musical and artistic gifts to celebrate life, beauty, and spirituality. Why don’t we evangelicals who know the truth about God, Jesus, and salvation worship with the same sense of passion? Why don’t we use our gifts and abilities to celebrate Jesus and point people to him?

Great concert. Great venue. An enjoyable evening with my wife. I was refreshed.

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Posted by on December 11, 2014 in Music, Personal growth, Photos


There’s no such thing as traditional music

In his book, The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated, author James Emery White addresses to issue of music in the worship service. His perspective might surprise you.

There is no such thing as traditional music. All music was, at one time, newfangled, contemporary, cutting-edge, and probably too loud. The great hymns of Martin Luther are considered traditional and sacred to our ears, but they were anything but traditional and sacred to the people of Luther’s day. Many of the great hymns written during the Protestant Reformation, such as “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” were based on barroom tunes that were popular during that period. Luther simply changed the lyrics and then put the song into the life of the church. The result? People were able to meaningfully express themselves in worship—or at least connect with it stylistically.

Charles Wesley also borrowed from the secular music of his day, and John Calvin hired secular songwriters to put his theology to music, leading the Queen of England to call them “Geneva Jigs.” Bach provides a similar pattern, as he used a popular form of music known as the cantata for weekly worship music. He was also known to seize tunes from “rather questionable sources and rework them for the church.” Even Handel’s Messiah was condemned as “vulgar theater” by the churchmen of his day for having too much repetition and not enough content.

The last line is worth rereading. The point? Throughout history you’ll find a connection between church growth and contemporary music. Sorry if that’s too crass for you, but it’s true. Don’t ever downplay music—remember, there’s an entire book of the Bible that is almost nothing but lyrics you can work from so here are two words that will serve you well: music matters.

Just as the deeper issue with friendliness is an atmosphere of acceptance, the deeper issue with music is cultural translation. Let’s retire such words as relevant and contemporary, shall we? The heart of it all is a missionary enterprise: learn the language of the people, the music, the dress, the customs—and then translate the gospel for them.

Chase this with me for a moment. If we were dropped into the deepest reaches of the Amazon basin as missionaries of the gospel to reach a specific unreached tribe of people, we would attempt to learn the language, dress in a way that is appropriate, craft a worship experience that uses indigenous instruments and styles, and work tirelessly to translate the Scriptures into their language. No one would argue with that approach. It’s Missiology 101. Now realize that your mission field is the West. Are you doing the work of a missionary?


Posted by on October 29, 2014 in Books, Church, Culture, Music, Quotes, Worship


Think about the cross

This week, the attention of Christ followers is turned towards the cross. On Good Friday, we remember and reflect that Jesus died for our sins on the cross. Throughout the centuries, numerous songs have been written and sung on this theme. Among them are

  • At the cross
  • When I survey the wondrous cross
  • The wonderful cross
  • Lead me to the cross
  • Thank you for the cross

When you think about the cross, what comes to mind? What does the cross mean to you?


Posted by on April 16, 2014 in Easter & Good Friday, Music