Some friends of mine recently completed work on their first professionally produced music CD! The Hymn Remix project "was born of a desire to teach and inspire passion toward the deeper Christian life: we seek to revive, refresh and remix the timeless tunes and diction of traditional hymns with the musical styles of the present generation."

Here's the first single (?), listen to it! Check out the rest of the songs online at iTunes, Bandcamp, Amazon MP3 (USA only), and Rdio. You can also buy the CD at the website.

As a new Christian, I wondered about a question along the lines of: "If we are saved by grace, not by works, why bother working anymore?" Or as Alan Scholes put it (in the title of a chapter in his excellent book The Artful Dodger) "What if I accept Christ and keep on sinning?" Eventually I was able to reconcile grace and works after reading and truly understanding what both Paul and James have to say and how they compliment eachother.

Tonight I was reading Watchman Nee's book The Normal Christian Life which is essentially a commentary on Romans. As Nee described how our sins (plural; ie, things we have done wrong) are dealt with by the Blood of Jesus, and our sin (singular; as in our nature as a sinner) is dealt with by the Cross of Jesus, I for some reason thought of a joke told by Demetri Martin.

It's probably better if you listen to him tell the swimming joke here (about 30 seconds) but if you can't or would rather not load a YouTube clip, here's the gist of it:

Swimming is a confusing sport. Cuz sometimes you're doing it for fun … and other times, you're doing it to NOT DIE.

You can usually tell by the outfit:
Pants? Uh oh!
Swimming trunks? Okay!

Grace and works is kinda like that. A person doing works to try to be saved (a futile endeavor) may be doing the exact same actions as someone who does works out of gratitude (response to grace). But the person who realizes they are saved by grace is not doing things to AVOID DEATH, they realize that they have already avoided death.

And like the swimming analogy, you can tell which is which by a person's outfit … ie, by what attitude they are doing things, how they approach their tasks, what goal they have in mind, and why they are doing them in the first place. A grace-filled person has "put on the new self" as their clothing. (Ephesians 4:24)

I guess the answer to the question "If we are saved by grace, not by works, why bother working anymore?" is that working is only a chore when it's an obligation. Serving out of gratitude, through the empowering of the Holy Spirit, is an entirely different thing than desperately paddling away trying to save yourself. That doesn't mean that serving in the church is always less stressful or frustrating or costly than serving outside (I know that all too well!) but it does help explain the difference. And it makes all the difference in the world!

While Dan Brown's books may make for good readin' (or not) they shouldn't be used to ascertain historical facts. I've already made some posts about The Da Vinci Code. This article from the UK's Telegraph newspaper gives a list of 50 of the more grievous ones: The Lost Symbol and The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown: 50 factual errors

I'm not posting this to poke fun at Dan Brown, or take pleasure in pointing out his mistakes. Nor am I confused about the status of Brown's books as being fiction. So responses of "IT'S ONLY A FICTION BOOK GET OVER IT" are not welcome or helpful. Although well aware that Brown's books are fictional, many people DO believe at least parts of them are accurate. An example is my former co-worker who, upon learning I am a Christian, said something to the effect of "Oh I guess you haven't read The Da Vinci Code, it destroys Christianity!"

Of course after he saw The Real Da Vinci Code program on TV and got the facts he changed his mind. But it illustrates the need for proper information.

dunceI cringe whenever I see Christians do dumb things (like claiming Jesus and/or Mary appeared on their morning toast and apparently pay for totally misguided billboards). And I can barely stand to see Fred Phelps' name or the name of his "church" mentioned on the news. (If you don't know who that is, you don't wanna know.)

So why does it seem like Christians so often do dumb things?

One reason is that when a Christian does something dumb, they're often identified (in the media or colloquially) as being a Christian, but when an atheist does something dumb, they're usually not identified as an atheist. Now certainly some Christians do dumb things in an attempt to follow their faith, but whether what the person has done is consistent with the Christian faith is often ignored.

A second reason is the fact that there's a lot of Christians around. Millions in Canada alone, plus many millions more in the USA, and approximately 2.1billion in total according to So you'd figure, out of all those people, if even 1% do dumb things, that it will seem like quite a lot of people. Of course, the actions of a few don't necessarily reflect those of the whole. (See: Fallacy of composition.)

A final reason, extrapolated from the previous one, is that some Christians are dumb. (You're free to make your own evaluation of me if you'd like.) In fact before I was a Christian I thought all Christians were dumb, or ugly, or both. (I thank Greg Koukl for putting into words so eloquently how I felt at the time.) Dumb because they were roped into a false waste of time, and/or ugly because they had to go to church to be accepted, since it's the only place that people have to accept them.

And yes, many Christians are dumb (and/or ugly). But so what? So are many atheists, agnostics, and adherents of other faiths.

There are also many smart Christians … not myself, necessarily, but guys like William Lane Craig, Alvin PlantingaAlister McGrath, John Warwick Montgomery, Timothy Keller, John Lennox, and Dallas Willard to name a few. So whether any one of them is smart or dumb proves nothing about the truth or falsity of the faith.

If you currently have the opinion that Christians are dumb, or ugly, or both, like I used to, I invite you to investigate some of the sites linked above or in the sidebar to the right. I think Christianity is worth thinking about, even if its adherents sometimes do and exceedingly poor job of reflecting it.

And if you are a Christian, let's try to reflect our Lord, Jesus, who as Dallas Willard describes, was and is the smartest man who ever lived (and lives).

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