One of Prince’s Last Songs? About Jesus.

Prince died today. (Unbelievably, the same year as Bowie. Sigh.)

And one of his last songs ever recorded and released as a stand-alone single wasn’t a typical Prince song.

Here’s the story:

A little over a year ago, while Prince was driving, he tuned in to a local Christian radio station and heard Nichole Nordeman’s song from her 2005 album Brave, “What If”.

Here’s Nordeman’s version (pardon the corny video):

 

Here are the lyrics to “What If”:

What if you’re right?
He was just another nice guy.
What if you’re right?

What if it’s true?
They say the cross will only make a fool of you.
What if it’s true?

What if He takes His place in history with all the prophets and the kings
who taught us love and came in peace, but then the story ends?

What then?

But what if you’re wrong?
What if there’s more?
What if there’s hope you’ve never dreamed of hoping for?

What if you jump?
Just close your eyes.
What if the arms that catch you, catch you by surprise?
What if He’s more than enough?
What if it’s love?

What if you dig way down deeper
than your simple-minded friends?
What if you dig?

What if you find a thousand more unanswered questions down inside?

That’s all you find?

What if you pick apart the logic and begin poke the holes?
What if the crown of thorns is no more than folklore that must be told
and re-told, and re-told?

But what if you’re wrong?
What if there’s more?
What if there’s hope you’ve never dreamed of hoping for?

What if you jump?
Just close your eyes.
What if the arms that catch you, catch you by surprise?
What if He’s more than enough?
What if it’s love?

‘Cuz you’ve been running as fast as you can.
You’ve been looking for a place you land for so long.

But what if you’re wrong?

What if you jump?
Just close your eyes.
What if the arms that catch you, catch you by surprise?
What if He’s more than enough?
What if it’s love?

Nordeman’s song apparently impacted him, as he recorded his version of it. It was released online a little over a year ago, only to be removed the same day.

But after a little digging I found the song buried in the archives:

It certainly isn’t Prince’s best cover. But any Prince cover is noteworthy. And that he recorded this song dealing with faith and doubt from a distinctly Christian perspective a little more than a year before his untimely death casts new light on it.

What if Prince, who wrote his share of sexually explicit and raunchy songs and was later in life a professing Jehovah’s Witness (i.e. a religious group clearly outside the bounds of historic Christian orthodoxy) found Jesus is “more than enough”?

As one who appreciated Prince’s musical gifts and is glad to live in Minneapolis (his hometown), here’s hoping he was caught surprised by the unfathomable love and grace of the Triune God in Christ Jesus.

What if indeed.

 

 

The Cambridge Declaration (Alive and Kicking)

20 years after the Cambridge Declaration was first released, it’s worth asking:

—Is the Protestant Reformation over?

—Aren’t the five Reformation “solas” a footnote in religious history with little to no bearing on modern ministry and life?

—Isn’t the Cambridge Declaration  (published 20 years ago) yesterday’s leftovers?

We don’t think so, and we’re doing something exciting about it.

Specifically, we’re working on a new book with the following authors:

  • Michael Horton
  • James Montgomery Boice (previously published content)
  • David F. Wells
  • Aimee Byrd
  • Carl Trueman
  • (and more)

Here are some teaser promotional cards:

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What’s that I hear you ask?

—Who’s the publisher?

—When will it be released?

—Are there other authors in the works?

—Why does this matter?

—Why should I care?

—Will it be a bestseller on Amazon?

—Will there be a blockbuster tour of the book’s authors coming my way in the very near future?

Great questions.

Sign up for updates about the book at alliancenet.org/CD20 or on Twitter at #CD20.

 

 

Prayers In An Age of Terrorism

These prayers were originally written in 1946 for the Presbyterian Book of Common Worship shortly after WWII. I’ve slightly adapted them for modern readers.

They are as timely and necessary now as they were then.


For peace of heart:

O God, who are the Author of peace and Lover of concord, in knowledge of whom stands our eternal life, in whose service is perfect freedom: Defend us from all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in your defense, may not fear the power of any adversaries; through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


For courage:

Almighty God, give us grace to contend always for what is true and right, and to be ready if need be to suffer for it. Give us not over to fearfulness of soul, but lift us into that love which casts out fear, so that we may glorify and enjoy you now and forever; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


For hope:

O God of hope, fill your children with all joy and peace in believing, that in this world of mystery we won’t be cast down nor dismayed, but may abound in hope in the power of the Holy Spirit. And grant that, laying hold of the hope set before us, it may be to us an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, entering into that which is within the veil; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


In a time of trouble:

O God, most faithful and wise Redeemer, who has permitted us to come into this present trial: Grant that we may learn obedience by the things that we suffer, and turn to You, our Helper in times of trouble. May there be no bitterness in our sorrow, no despair in our submission, and no doubt of You in our perplexity. Teach us to face our trial bravely; make even the dark things of life to work together for our good; and bring us quickly out of our distress, that we may praise you with a joyful heart; in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.


For our enemies:

We pray, O Lord, as Christ has taught us, for our enemies, that their hearts and ours may be drawn to God the Father of all, and filled with a desire to serve Him, that peace may be reestablished on the foundation of justice, truth, and good will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


For peace restored:

Almighty God, from whom all thoughts of truth and peace proceed: Kindle in the hearts of all people the true love of peace, and guide with your pure and peaceable wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth; that in tranquility your kingdom may go forward, till the earth is filled with the knowledge of your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O God, who has made of one blood all the nations and peoples of the earth: Mercifully hear our prayer, and remove from the world forever the dreadful menace of war. Guide the rulers with your counsel and restrain the passions of the people, so that bloodshed may be averted and peace be preserved. By the pouring out of your Spirit upon people, quicken the sense of our common bond of humanity, bring the nations into a new bond of fellowship, and hasten the time when the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.


For the coming of God’s kingdom:

Our King eternal, immortal, invisible, God only wise, our Savior: Hasten, we implore you, the coming of your kingdom upon the earth, and draw the whole world of humanity into willing obedience to your blessed reign. Overcome all the enemies of Christ, and bring low every power that is exalted against Him. Cast out all the evil things which cause wars and fightings among us, and let your spirit rule the hearts of all people in righteousness and love. Build our old wastes, and repair the desolations of many generations, that the wilderness may rejoice, and the city be made glad with your law. Establish every work that is founded on truth and equity, and fulfill all the hopes and desires of your people, through the victory of Christ our Lord. Amen.

Do You Have a Good Life? Brooks and Volf Weigh In.

Talk about a knockout collaboration.

And it’s free:

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From Yale’s Center for Faith and Culture:

We are delighted to share an upcoming event that our Life Worth Living program is hosting on the main campus of Yale University in New Haven.

New York Times columnist David Brooks will join our very own Miroslav Volf in a conversation on “Character, Flourishing, and the Good Life.” They will each be building on the work they have been doing to answer the central question of our lives questions: What makes a life worth living?

More information on the free event can be found here.

And for those of us who don’t live near Yale’s home in New Haven, CT, Brooks’ and Volf’s discussion will be live-streamed here.

Can’t watch the live-stream? Watch it later here. Even better, grab a group of friends and make an event out of it.

And if you’re loaner jet is available within the next week, just let me know.

$4.2M Dollar Study…on Joy?

Joy. Theology. The good life.

$4.2 million dollars?

Yup:

The John Templeton Foundation has awarded a $4.2 million grant to the Yale Center for Faith and Culture at Yale Divinity School to conduct a three-year research project to develop a theological account of joy and the good life, in order to recover joy as a central theological category and human experience.

Read the full announcment here.

Visit the Theology of Joy and the Good Life Project here.

Listen to the Huffington Post interview the project’s “principle investigator,” theologian Miroslav Volf, here.

Watch scholars answer “What Is Joy?”:

 

David Bowie Recites The Lord’s Prayer

Few people would likely identify David Bowie as a Christian. Yet nearly 25 years ago during a tribute concert for Queen’s frontman Freddie Mercury, Bowie publicly did a very Christian thing (apparently to honor Mercury): reciting the Lord’s Prayer.

Here’s one fan hoping that Bowie passed from this life to the next experiencing firsthand the Lord’s Prayer’s truths, i.e. the presence of a heavenly Father and sins forgiven.

The Downside of Immanuel

Cornelius Plantinga:

We must not get cozy with the idea of Immanuel. It’s not just a notion of Christmas cards and hymns, offering just the right little movement of joy for late December. The fact is that we might not enjoy Immanuel very much at all. Peter found him reproachful. Pharisees heard the sound of a whip in his voice. And any seedy, shifty human being might find it disconcerting to be absolutely transparent to a person who never compromised with evil, never shifted ground to make a better appearance, never sacrificed integrity for the sake of getting on with others. Would we dare to have God with us? As Malachi puts it (3:2), ‘Who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears?’

                            —Deep Down Faith (Study Guide)

“J.I. Packer: In His Own Words” Extended Trailer

In honor of the Homer G. Lindsay Lifetime of Ministry Award for 2015  on  a 90 minute video was made about the renowned Reformed theologian J.I. Packer, called J.I. Packer: In His Own Words. Crossway (who obtained the rights to the video) will be releasing it November 3. Crossway even created jipacker.com in conjunction with the video’s release. Is this a sign of a dedicated Packer website (even outside of anything Crossway related)? One can only hope.

You can watch an extended trailer here.

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Not coming to a theater near you! (Screenshot of “J.I. Packer: In His Own Words.”)

Striptease, Biology and Perversion: C.S. Lewis on Sex

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Chastity is the most unpopular of the Christian virtues. There is no getting away from it: the old Christian rule is, “Either marriage, with complete faithfulness to your partner, or else total abstinence.” Now this is so difficult and so contrary to our instincts, that obviously either Christianity is wrong or our sexual instinct, as it now is, has gone wrong. Of course, being a Christian, I think it is the instinct which has gone wrong,

But I have other reasons for thinking so:

  1. Biology: The biological purpose of sex is children, just as the biological purpose of eating is to repair the body. Now if we eat whenever we feel inclined and just as much as we want, it is quite true that most of us will eat too much: but not terrifically too much. One man may eat enough for two, but he does not eat enough for ten. The appetite goes a little beyond its biological purpose, but not enormously. But if a healthy young man indulged his sexual appetite whenever he felt inclined, and if each act produced a baby, then in ten years he might easily populate a small village. This appetite is in ludicrous and preposterous excess of its function.
  2. Striptease: Or take it another way. You can get a large audience together for a striptease act—that is, to watch a girl undress on the stage. Now suppose you came to a country where you could fill a theater by simply bringing a covered plate on to the stage and then slowly lifting the cover as to let everyone see, just before the lights went out, that it contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you not think that in that country something had gone wrong with the appetite for food? And would not anyone who had grown up in a different world think there was something equally queer about the state of the sex instinct among us?…
  3. Perversion: You find very few people who want to eat things that really are not food or to do other things with food instead of eating it. In other words, perversions of the food appetite are rare. But perversions of the sex instinct are numerous, hard to cure, and frightful….We have been told, till one is sick of hearing it, that sexual desire is in the same state as any of our other natural desires and that if only we abandon the old Victorian idea of hushing it up, everything in the garden will be lovely. It is not true. The moment you look at the facts, and away from the propaganda, you see that it is not.

—C.S. Lewis, The Joyful Christian, pp. 127-128 (Reformatted for readability)