May 4, 2011 by C.J. Mahaney
Curtis Allen is a friend of mine and a much loved pastor. He graduated from the Sovereign Grace Pastors College and served as a pastoral intern at Covenant Life Church. He currently pastors at Solid Rock Church.
But as many of you already know, Curtis—a.k.a. Voice—is also a gifted songwriter and rapper. And just this week Christianity Today identified him as one of five notable reformed rap and hip-hop artists.
I appreciate each of these men—Curtis, Lecrae, Trip Lee, Shai Linne, and Flame—and I am grateful to God for their work in advancing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
And if you haven’t heard them yet, be sure to check out Curtis’s raps about the Heidelberg Catechism and the Westminster Catechism.
March 23, 2011 by C.J. Mahaney
Categories: Music | Resurrection
In time for our upcoming celebration of Easter, the newest Sovereign Grace Music album was released yesterday: Risen.
What I love about this album—what I love about all the albums produced by Sovereign Grace Music—is the gospel-centered sound doctrine that informs the lyrics. Here in these 13 songs our hearts and affections are focused on the resurrection of our Savior, where God the Father publicly demonstrated his satisfaction with the Son’s sacrifice on the cross for our sins and where our hope of future resurrection finds its guarantee.
So a huge congratulations and thanks to my friend Bob Kauflin and to his team of songwriters, vocalists, musicians, and technicians that make an album like this possible!
Until April 4 you can download Risen for just $5. CDs are available for $12.
Update at 11:13am: The download has been temporarily disabled on our store for technical reasons. If you want to download the album the best place to do so right now is Amazon, which has Risen for $7.
March 3, 2011 by C.J. Mahaney
Curtis Allen is a friend and one fine and much loved pastor who serves at Solid Rock Church in Riverdale, Maryland. And as many of you know by now, Curtis is also a gifted songwriter and rapper. Last October he delivered what is to my knowledge the first-ever rap about the Heidelberg Catechism. Today he releases his latest recording, a rap about the Westminster Catechism featuring Dr. Don Carson, the author or editor of over 60 books and the research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.
Trust me, it’s Dr. Carson like you’ve never heard him before.
Download the “Westminster Catechism” track here or listen here:
(If you are reading this in rss, click here to listen or here to download.)
You can connect with Curtis Allen (a.k.a. “Voice”) and his work through his main music site, ihearvoice, and you will also find his MP3s at Amazon.com here. You can also read his blog or follow him on Twitter.
Westminster Catechism (lyrics)
We non-stop hey we non-stop hey we in the Lord and we going to the top hey. We got the catechism and we won't flop hey, we nonstop hey we nonstop hey we on top. Of our history, reformation chivalry, Westminster Catechism teaching on divinity. Dealing with the trinity, the Westminster longer is a monster so today we dealing with its mini me. 1647 let's go back and visit the, year it was completed to edify the community. Believers live in unity was part of the purpose, to train lay persons in matters of what was worth it. Doctrine and belief, believe in the doctrine we own our sin we not looking for Johnny Cochran's. Now we don't idolize with idol eyes we know that Scripture is where the Lord has epitomized the Father so why bother with the catechisms? Because they simplify for you and I'm glad they did them. We get a vision of this comprehensive document, one of the most important in the church and it’s opulent. They didn't know I know that word, we gonna get into the Q & A next verse. 107 questions we won't do all of them, you probably think it's wild I'm rocking with Dr. Carson.
Do you know what the chief end of man is?
And how the Father, Son and Spirit do manage?
Do you know if you want you could know this?
The catechism hey the catechism hey
Let's get into some questions 107 of ’em broken down into sections. The first 12 of ’em deal with God as creator, the manner of his decrees, and trinitarian nature. 13–20 is dealing with humanity our sin and it's cause we should all be God's enemy. 21–38 is getting real meaty, the nature of Christ, his office, and how he redeemed we. All of these are solid but personal homage is paid I been affected by 27 and 28. Christ’s humiliation, his exaltation, 4:4 of Galatians, Psalm 110 are stating. 39–84 filling out commandments, 85–97’s dealing with the sacraments. 98–107, what you will find there, is some good instruction on the Lord’s prayer. Yeah, now I ain’t saying it’s the best right I know it ain’t the Scriptures but we riding with the “Westside.” Question 3 what do the Scriptures principally teach, concerning God and his duties for those who believe. Sweet, 92 what is a sacrament, a holy ordinance by Christ was instituted as a means of grace man get that catechism out, while you bobbin’ your head go read what I am talking bout.
October 25, 2010 by C.J. Mahaney
On a stage in front of 2,800 attendees at the 2010 NEXT conference, I called out my friend Curtis Allen.
Kevin DeYoung was speaking at the conference, and the focus of his newest book was the Heidelberg Catechism. He called it The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism (Moody, 2010). So at NEXT 2010 I challenged Curtis (aka Voice) to write and record a rap song to promote Kevin's book and the catechism.
On Friday, this is what he sent me:
(Note: if you dont see the player, go here to listen. Download the song here.)
Yep, Curtis Allen is the best.
Heidelberg Catechism (lyrics)
Yeah I'm on a mission like a couple spies, and that guys is the reason why I catechize. The good news we almost forgot I recognize, Heidelberg rediscovering the gospel prize. It's not scripture but the truth in it will mention he, introduction hide and seek the 16th century. Written in a time when your mind was the weaponry, this document is back into the populace shouts to Kevin D. Better than you think not as bad as you remember, purpose driven truth, from Frederick the elector. He would initiate, the 129 questions to illustrate truths like Christ propitiates. All in a document, whose purpose was to teach children, a guide for preachers, and confessions in a church building. And this is all fact The Heidelberg Cat has been around but now it's seem like it is coming back.
We believe in the cross, believe in his life,
We believe in his death, believe he's the Christ.
We believe that he rose from grave yes it is him
And we read the Heidelberg Catechism
We believe in the after life and we believe nothing's after Christ, so we stand our ground, cuz the truth's been around from the word to the Heidelberg.
Year of the Heidelberg resulting in renewed passion, and we could see it in our lives lights camera action. Let's take a gander and address a few questions from Heidelberg document then look at the answers. But before that make sure that, you know how it's broken down, in a Q & A format, a few sections. Suggestions how to read this not to sound promotional, but Kevin put it in his book to make it a devotional. Each question each answer has a bit of commentary, so the application of it is not some involuntary. Mystery, the history screams through rings true but I'll just leave that up to God, cuz that's between you. to believe, but to believe you gotta read you and then you meditate on all the truths that the Heidelberg will illustrate. What's that the catechism homey where you been the good news we almost forgot let's get it in!
From the word to the Heidelberg, we see that what's the comfort of life should come first. And in death that I with, body and soul but belong to the savior, commentary from me man, tell this to your neighbor. Moving on, how many things are necessary for thee, enjoying this comfort, to live and die happily? Three, my sin's misery, deliverance from sin, and gratitude for God is how the answer ends. Let's stretch it out the Lord's day 23 the grandaddy of them all, questions 59 and 60. What good does it do to believe in all this? In Christ I am right heir to the promise. Paraphrase, anyways I'm kinda limited I'm just trying to say a couple things my man Kevin did. On the Heidelberg, go and get you one, and by the way CJ homey this was fun.
June 11, 2010 by C.J. Mahaney
Categories: Conferences | Music
This month our friends at Ligonier Ministries are drawing attention to my favorite worship leader—Bob Kauflin. The July edition of Tabletalk is titled "Worship Matters" and on the first page of the introduction editor Burk Parsons features Bob and T4G. Parsons writes:
As I write this article I'm in Louisville, Kentucky, attending a conference called ‘Together for the Gospel.’ Pastors, elders, and seminarians have gathered together for fellowship and worship around the theme: The Unadjusted Gospel. More than seven thousand men from various evangelical (gospel-preaching) churches with various liturgical traditions are standing together as we sing some of the greatest hymns (from both the seventeenth and twenty-first centuries).
At the piano helping to lead us in worship is Bob Kauflin, a man who has spent his life considering what it means to worship our holy and just, gracious and glorious God. His blog and subsequent book Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God, are devoted to help the church to worship God in the way He deserves, demands, and delights.
For the remainder of the article see the July issue.
In related news, Bob is writing a new book. Whereas he wrote his first book for worship leaders, he is writing the second one for all worshipers. In his own words, his aim is to help Christians “think more biblically about their responsibility as a worshiper of God, regardless of how they were being led.”
Be looking for Bob's new book—yet to be titled—sometime in 2011.
Photo source: Southern Seminary Communications
April 30, 2010 by C.J. Mahaney
Categories: Conferences | Music
One of the many highlights from this year’s T4G conference was John Piper’s general-session message, “Did Jesus Preach Paul’s Gospel?” After his message John joined Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, Al Mohler, John MacArthur, and myself for a panel discussion. At one point in the conversation the discussion focused in on the doctrine of justification by faith and the Christ who justifies, the importance of doctrine, and the value of music. Although the exchange happened in a few brief minutes, it is an exchange worthy of a second look.
At one point Al said the following:
We are very concerned about doctrine, and self-consciously so. We recognize there is no such thing as a doctrine-less Christianity. We cherish these doctrines because we believe they are the very truths that are taught in Scripture, they are the substance and architecture and superstructure of the Christian faith and without which there is no Christianity. So we believe that.
But I think sometimes we can at least talk as if—to put it bluntly—we are justified by the doctrine of justification by faith. And that is not what we are saying. We’re justified by faith.
And I dare say that most of the believers that I have known in the local church, as I’ve had the opportunity to come to know them, could not pass a systematic theology exam. They trust Christ. And their justification is on the basis of faith alone. They believed and they trusted Christ. I want them to know more, I want them to desire to know more, I want them to be able to know the dots and connect the dots. But I think what you [Piper] did tonight was to display, by your exposition of the text and of the doctrine and of its application, what it means actually to trust Christ and what our justification really means.
It’s good for us to recognize the fact that we do need to talk doctrine and, without any apology, to be the defenders of the absolute necessity of doctrinal fidelity, doctrinal substance, doctrinal knowledge. But at the end of the day the ground of our justification is not a doctrine, it is Christ alone.
So how does a pastor help ensure that doctrinal knowledge does not become an end in itself? To this point Piper added the following comment:
A very practical thing for pastors: I asked that we sing when I was done because I really wanted you to be able to say with the heart “all I have is Christ.” I wanted you to say it and sing it. My suggestion for pastors is that you study the music here, the lyrics, and you do the research and get the gospel songs. Sovereign Grace is serving the evangelical movement incredibly, I think. I’m going to qualify my enthusiasm here. I'm totally there, these are my favorite contemporary songs. And it is a narrow slice of culture, it’s a narrow slice of musicality. Know that, and be okay with that, and maybe not limit yourself to that.…It’s amazing how many churches don’t—from their hearts—sing the gospel, sing the glories of justification, sing the glories of substitutionary atonement, sing the glories of the resurrection.
John’s words show us the important relationship between knowing right doctrine and putting that doctrine into lyrics and songs that free our hearts to express our affections to the Savior. And I cannot think about this topic without voicing my appreciation for my friend and my favorite worship leader, Bob Kauflin.
This entire panel discussion is worth a listen and it’s available online here. Audio from all four of the panels is now available online here.
Photo source: Southern Seminary Communications
March 16, 2010 by C.J. Mahaney
Categories: Adoption | Music
Congratulations to my friend Bob Kauflin whose album Sons and Daughters has won the 2009 Worship Compilation of the Year award in the Worship Leader Magazine Readers’ Choice Awards.
I love this album!
And apparently many others love this album as well.
What I love about the album is the theological lyrics on the theme of God’s adopting grace.
So why did Bob focus this project on the doctrine of spiritual adoption? A while back on his blog, Bob wrote this:
The project came out of a perceived lack of songs that help us meditate on the unfathomable love God has shown us in adopting us through Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:5). We are now part of God’s family—in Christ we will forever be the objects of God’s particular and passionate mercy and love. We are not only forgiven, we are co-heirs with Christ, and never again have to doubt God’s care for us. That biblical reality, rather than leaving us focused on ourselves, drives us once again to proclaim the greatness of the God whose grace turns hopeless rebels into precious children.
We need songs on this important topic—especially worship albums for individual and corporate worship.
In his classic book Knowing God
, J.I. Packer writes:
If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all. For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new, and better than the Old, everything that is distinctively Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God. “Father” is the Christian name for God.…Our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of adoption. (pp. 201–202)
I highly recommend Sons and Daughters. It will help convince you of God’s passionate and personal love for you. This album will remind you of God’s adopting grace, a theme that should prompt and control our worship. What better album to do this than Sons and Daughters.
Congratulations to Bob and to all the musicians and songwriters that made this album possible!
See related posts by C.J. on the theme of adoption here.
I am no musician. I play no part in a choir or a musical team. I do love words, and as a sidebar to my job I get to participate in editing worship song lyrics. But there you reach the limits of my musical gifting.
Even so, my friend Bob Kauflin recently invited me to speak at the WorshipGod09 conference and to address an audience populated by faithful servants engaged in leading worship, singing, and serving musically in diverse ways. These are gifted people and we benefit from their example, leadership, and service each Sunday in our local churches.
But as much as I appreciate what they do, I told them the following: What you do each Sunday is important, but it’s not most important.
Musical worship is inspiring, informative, and a wonderful privilege, but there is nothing more central to Christian worship than the preaching of God’s Word. Notice I did not say preaching is a great and necessary follow-up to worship, or that preaching is an optional extra in worship. Preaching is central to worship each Sunday.
Let me illustrate this point through a few great worship services in your Bible.
Think of Mount Sinai where God rescues and gathers his people specifically. He says, “Let my people go so that they may worship me.” So in that gathering to worship, what is the climax? It is the giving of the Law.
A few books later, in Deuteronomy, the people are gathered beside the Jordan. Their wanderings are finally at an end. They are on the cusp of the Promised Land, and Moses renews the covenant with the next generation. What is at the heart, what is the substance of this gathering? It is the reiteration of the Law of Moses, and we read page after page of preaching, explanation, application, and exposition.
When Joshua brings the people finally into the land, he gathers them together (Joshua 8). What was the climax of that gathering? Was it the singing? No. He read the Law to the “assembly.” (The Hebrew term is regularly translated in the Greek as “church”—the church is the assembly, the gathering of the people of God.) Joshua read the Law to the gathered assembly. And he read it all: “there was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the sojourners who lived among them” (Joshua 8:35). Let’s not miss a thing. Let’s not miss a word. Let’s not miss a stroke.
After the return from exile, Nehemiah gathers the people into a great assembly. What do they do? Ezra reads the Law and then explains it—he exposits it to give the sense of message.
And we could go on through the Bible…
Throughout salvation history, all the way into the new covenant, God’s Word is at the center of worship. The early church devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and every church was nourished on God’s Word, all the way down to the last chapter of the last book that Paul wrote, where he tells Timothy to preach the Word “in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2).
Why? Why so much preaching? Why all this talking? Because the primary way we encounter God in worship is through the preaching of the Word of God.
Think about it this way. Normally, in what we call “worship,” we spend significant time—perhaps the whole time—addressing God, singing to him, praising him, extolling him, praying to him. Wonderful! But in preaching we are no longer addressing God; he is addressing us. Nothing is more important than this moment. And this is why the most important worship leader in your church is your pastor.
That really gets to the heart of preaching. The Bible is not simply a book that we talk about. When God’s Word is faithfully preached, God is addressing us. God is speaking. We hear not merely a man’s voice. We hear the voice of God.
And when God addresses us, what is the appropriate response? We respond with glad and reverent hearts, with voices that proclaim his praise, and with lives that increasingly reflect his character.
God addresses us with a saving Word. We respond to him with faith, praise, and obedience. That is the rhythm of worship.
Jeff Purswell serves as the Dean of the Sovereign Grace Pastors College and a pastor at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD.
November 3, 2009 by C.J. Mahaney
My friend Mark Dever recently sat down with two musically gifted, and theologically informed, hip hop artists—shai linne and Curtis Allen (aka Voice). I am a fan of both of shai and Curtis.
Curtis graduated from the Sovereign Grace Pastors College, served as a pastoral intern at Covenant Life Church, and currently pastors at Solid Rock Church. Curt’s albums include The Crucible, Progression, and a Theist.
shai linne is an artist out of Philadelphia, where he serves as a lay leader in his local church, Epiphany Fellowship. There he leads the prayer ministry, writes worship songs, leads a monthly outreach, teaches a men’s group, and occasionally preaches. shai’s albums include Storiez, The Atonement, and The Solus Christus Project.
In the recent interview, Curtis and shai talk about their personal testimonies and a diversity of topics related to music. You can download and listen to the 72-minute interview here: “Christian Rap with Shai Linne and Voice” (10/01/09).
December 5, 2008 by C.J. Mahaney
There is nothing like corporate worship to stir our affections toward God, encourage each other, and remind us of the glorious gospel. And few experiences better remind me of the value of corporate worship than T4G 2008, where over 5,000 voices were led by my favorite worship leader, Bob Kauflin. If you were in Louisville for the conference, you know what I’m talking about. And if you were not there, you’ll be able to experience for yourself something of what it was like by listening to the live recording from the conference. The album is titled Together for the Gospel Live
. For more information (and three free MP3 song downloads) go here