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Another New Reformation Song

Back in February, I posted a song that Chris Anderson and I wrote for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. We called it “Reformation Hymn.” I wrote about it in this post and Chris tells the backstory of how the song was written here. Around the same time, Tim Chester, a friend from the UK, asked me if I’d be interested in putting music to some lyrics he was working on, also based on the 5 Solas of the Reformation: Sola Scriptura: Scripture alone Solus Christus: Christ alone Sola Fide: faith alone Sola Gratia: grace alone Soli Deo Gloria: glory to God alone I enjoyed writing Come Praise and Glorify with Tim a few years ago and …

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Worship Matters Is Now a Video Series

When I wrote Worship Matters in 2008, I wanted to pass on to younger leaders some of what I had learned from my mentors, study, and experiences of leading for three decades. My goal was to connect Scriptural commands and principles with what we actually do in our Sunday meetings. Through the years, musicians, pastors, teachers, and others have found my book helpful. But I’ve wondered if I could do anything to make the material more accessible. 32 chapters can take a while to plow through. I mean, we’re talking about musicians. That’s why I’m excited about the Worship Matters Video Intensive, made possible in large part with the help of …

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Is it Humility to Leave My Name Off a Song I Wrote?

Recently someone wrote me and asked: A young woman in our church has written a few songs that we have taught but she doesn’t want to let anyone know she wrote them. I think she feels she is being humble but I also see how it can encourage our church to know one of our young adults is doing this. Your thoughts? I appreciated the question. I also appreciated a songwriter is even thinking this way. Social media tempts us to believe it’s our duty to broadcast on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or our blog that basically, we’re doing a bunch of cool stuff, saying some awesome things, or eating some incredible food. How refreshing for …

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Reflections from WorshipGod17: Human and Holy

It’s been over a week, but I’m still enjoying the rich time we had at WorshipGod17 MidWest. The conference was called Human and Holy: Exploring Healthy Tensions in Our Gathered Worship. We looked at the inherent tensions that surface when the human encounters the Holy: orthodox and on fire, rootedness and relevance, structure and spontaneity, event and every day, already and not yet. There are always a few things that stand out to me after a conference. Here’s this year’s list. Life, Not Production Because this year’s conference fell in the midst of a few other events (live recording, a trip to Mexico, our daughter’s wedding), it felt less …

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Prayer of the Saints Live Recording!

This coming Tuesday, July 25, Sovereign Grace Music will be recording our first live album in 6 years: “Prayers of the Saints.” If you happen to be in or near Louisville, we’d love to have you join us from 6-10pm that night! The event will take place at the Fegenbush campus of Highview Baptist Church. If you’d like to come, you need to reserve your spot, and you can do that here. “Prayers of the Saints” has been almost two years in the making. We took the title from a phrase in Revelation 8:3-4: And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the …

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The Paradox of the Worship Selfie

Some time last year a friend who leads the music in his church texted me to express a concern. Social media has been on my mind lately. It seems it’s a great tool and a great danger. It can quickly become the “street corner” in Matthew 6. I wonder if the constant postings of ourselves, with great lighting and stuff may end up being more about us. Some people say “everyone does it,” but I’m wrestling with it as I see young guys in our church family doing it a lot. I want to make sure my motives are pure if I feel led to have an honest discussion with them. My friend’s humility in approaching this issue was commendable. Social media …

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Music is Great. Jesus is Greater.

This past May, our youngest child, McKenzie, graduated from Boyce College with a degree in biblical studies, focusing on music and worship. After 4 1/2 years of study, persistence, practice, and dependence on God’s grace, she finally joined the ranks of those who have a college degree. In her final semester, she had to give a senior recital. Thanks to the excellent instruction from her voice teacher, Chandi Plummer, McKenzie has expanded her vocal range significantly, grown in knowing how to care for her voice, and become much more effective at communicating emotion and dynamics when she sings. All those aspects were on full display …

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Human and Holy: Healthy Tensions of our Gathered Worship

In just under two months (July 27-29) we’ll be gathering in Louisville, KY for our second regional WorshipGod conference! The first was held in Pennsylvania this past March. We’re calling the Louisville conference: Human and Holy: Healthy Tensions of our Gathered Worship. If you’ve ever planned the music or meetings at your church, you’re probably familiar with the category of “healthy tensions.” Or at least, tension. Conversations about worship can be polarizing. We choose sides and attack each other rather than seeking out biblical solutions and priorities. Should our meetings be reverent or celebratory? Do we want our musicians …

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Reflections on the 2017 Shepherds’ Conference

Last April a friend of mine at Grace Community Church texted me to say John MacArthur was going to invite me to lead the music for some of the main sessions at the 2017 Shepherds’ Conference. I thought he was kidding. There are a few reasons why this particular invite was unexpected. For one, I’m a pastor with Sovereign Grace Churches. John has at various times made clear in his preaching that we have a few theological differences. Also, the music at Grace Community Church, where John has served as the pastor for more than four decades, is primarily hymns led by highly skilled choirs, orchestras, and an organ. On a typical Sunday morning …

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A New Song – Reformation Hymn

As you’re probably aware, 2017 marks the 500 year anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the door of a church building in Wittenberg, Germany. While not seeking to separate from the Roman Catholic church, he called for substantive and specific changes in her practices and theology. Luther was joined by many other Reformers whose teachings were eventually summarized in what we call the Five Solas, “sola” being a Latin word meaning “alone” or “only.” Sola Scriptura: Scripture alone Solus Christus: Christ alone Sola Fide: faith alone Sola Gratia: grace alone Soli Deo Gloria: glory to God alone These phrases carry …

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WorshipGod Northeast Coming Soon

Since 1999, I’ve been leading conferences to serve anyone involved in planning or leading congregational worship. In 2006, we started calling them “WorshipGod” conferences to communicate that it matters who or what we’re worshiping. A”worship conference” can refer to any kind of worship. It’s worshiping GOD that distinguishes what Christians do from all other kinds of worship. Only Christian worship is initiated by God the Father, enabled by God the Son, and empowered by God the Spirit. In 2017 we’ve taking a break from a single national conference and planning different regional conferences. The first is WorshipGod Northeast and it …

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Upcoming Worship Matters Intensives

This past summer I led the first Sovereign Grace Music Worship Matters Intensive in Louisville. I spent 5 days with 18 guys working through the contents of my book, Worship Matters. Not surprisingly, we got into lively discussion and interaction on a number of levels and topics. In addition every guy got to run lyric projection and experience “Lead and Review,” which is just what the name implies. It was a fantastic time. While the first Intensive focused on Sovereign Grace worship leaders, we’ve received a number of requests to open it up. So that’s what we’re doing. I have two more Intensives coming up, both in Louisville. The dates …

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Dealing with Darkness at Christmas

It seems each Christmas I hear more people talk about how difficult this time can be for those who are suffering, depressed, or struggling with loss. Posts like When Darkness Falls at Christmas, What Grieving People Wish You Knew at Christmas, and The Problem with Our Holly Jolly Christmas Songs remind us that in spite of the parties, sentimental commercials, holiday greetings, and family reunions, all is not “calm and bright.” For many of us, Christmas is troubled and dark. My daughter, Brittany Hope, has had a tender heart for those kinds of people for years. A wife whose husband’s life was snuffed out too early. A young couple …

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Why Was It Such a Holy Night?

In 2014, Sovereign Grace Music released our second Christmas album, Prepare Him Room. It included a revised version of O Holy Night, with new lyrics written by my friend, Kevin Hartnett. I wrote a post that explained the background of the song and why Kevin rewrote two of the verses. The fundamental reason Kevin gave was that Timothy Dwight’s translation from the French didn’t capture the good news of the gospel in the way that the original lyrics did. Here’s a literal translation of how the song began: Midnight, Christians, it is the solemn hour, When God as man descended unto us To erase the stain of original sin And to end the …

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Together for the Gospel Live III Now Available

For over four decades I’ve been leading congregational worship with bands. My generation saw drums infiltrate church sanctuaries despite the protests of many older saints. It was a hard fought battle with many casualties along the way. In my mind, we didn’t do it because it was hip, or a way of attracting crowds, or an attempt to impress people.  And we didn’t want to water down our theology. Our lives had been turned upside down by the good news of the gospel and we wanted to celebrate that reality using musical styles and accompaniment that made emotional sense. Drums, bass guitars, acoustics, electric guitars, and synthesizers gave …

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