Archive | July, 2006

Monday Devotions – Before the Ages Began

“…who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.” (2Tim. 1:9) Pastor and hymn-writer Samuel Stennett (1727-1795) wrote a poem called “The Harmony of Divine Perfections," in which he attempts to describe what took place “before the ages began.” Here it is, with my comments. (You might want to read this slowly…)When first the God of boundless grace disclosed His kind design;To rescue our apostate race from misery, shame, and sin,Quick through the realms of light and bliss, the joyful tidings ran;Each heart …

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What Do We Wear to Worship God?

A leader sent this question to me: Recently there have been some people offended by some of the appearance of the worship team. We are seeking to glorify God in our response. We do not want to go beyond what the Scripture says. What are some of the standards that you would hold for your worship team? I’m assuming that “appearance” refers to what someone is wearing. I appreciate this person’s desire to follow God’s Word when it comes to the attire of those who lead congregational worship. Unfortunately, God isn’t as clear as we might want Him to be, which is a good thing. Can you imagine if God told us exactly what a godly person should …

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What We All Need

I’ve been a little lax on my posting lately, as I’m in the thick of preparing for the WorshipGod06 conference. I’ll have the privilege of teaching three seminars and one main session there, and appreciate the opportunity to meet and serve those who are coming. In the midst of my preparation, I came across this quote from a book I read a while ago, called The Future of Protestant Worship, by Ronald Byars. “Here is where we put a finger on the weakness of the marketing approach when it comes to matters of faith and worship. It presumes that people can tell you what they’re looking for. Most people can’t.” (p. 23) Later on he writes: “Even …

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Monday Devotions – Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly …

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Should My Kids Listen to Christian Rap?

Ken, a dad with three kids ages approaching their teen years, sent this question to me: [My kids] show some interest in hip-hop/rap music, so I have started to look into Christian versions of it.  I have listened to Curtis Allen (have to list him first, right?), Lacrae, and Eternal MOG (Man of God).  From what I have seen and read, the words seem to be gospel-centered, God exalting.  My hesitation is that the broader hip-hop culture is so foul and perverse that I am not sure I want to encourage my kids towards it. I was thinking that maybe I could cut them off at the pass with solid gospel-centered hip-hop music, but I am not sure if that …

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Playing Spontaneously

Musicians have long argued about which is better for the church – musicians who play by note or those who play by ear. I’ve concluded there are advantages to both. I got a performance degree in classical piano that has enabled me to pick up a songbook, hymnal, choral arrangement, or lead sheet and figure out what’s going on fairly quickly. I can play for a variety of situations that require note-reading skills. On the other hand, I’ve been playing by ear for as long as I can remember. That enables me to play chord charts, improvise introductions and endings to songs, create a better flow between songs, and not have to rely on printed music. If …

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Top Ten Reasons to Register Now for the WorshipGod06 Conference

Some of you who have heard me talk about the WorshipGod06 conference, "The Glory of His Presence," are still wondering whether or not you should come. To help you with your decision, I’ve taken the liberty of listing the top ten reasons why you should make this a matter of prayer. #10. Gaithersburg, Maryland, like all of metropolitan Washington, D.C., is lovely in August; a veritable tropical paradise, a vacation hot-spot, rivaling the Bahamas in appeal. #9. Pre-registration ends in 5 days, July 23. You can still register at the door, but you won’t get a fancy pre-printed name tag, and you’ll avoid the potentially dangerous experience …

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Monday Devotions – Father, Son, and Spirit

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart,  giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 5:18-20). In his very helpful book, Father, Son, and Spirit, Bruce Ware writes: Many Christian people will one day stand before the Lord aware as never before that they spent too little time getting to know the depth and the wonder of who God really is—including his revelation of himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the …

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Choosing a Hymnal for a Worship Service

One person recently wrote in to ask: 1. What criteria would you use in selecting a new hymnal? 2. What particular hymnals would you recommend checking into? Although we don’t use a hymnal in our Sunday meetings, if I were to choose one, I’d look for one that contains the best of Christian hymnody prior to the early 20th century. These are the songs for congregational worship that have been established, tried, tested, and proven to be beneficial to the Church. Since a hymnal should serve primarily as a tool to teach and reinforce the doctrines of the Christian faith, I’d look for many songs by Watts, Wesley, Newton, Toplady, Cowper, Hart, …

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WorshipGod Live – Reviewing the Reviews

Last May 50 folks took me up on my offer to receive a WorshipGod Live CD and post a review on their blog. Thanks so much for participating! The comments were overwhelmingly encouraging, but I was even more grateful for the constructive feedback you gave us. Here are some of the comments, along with my thoughts. Most reviewers seems to think the songs were singable and easy to pick up. Dan wrote, “My personal opinion is that a strong song stands on its own even if stripped down to a solo instrument and a single voice…These are all strong songs, in my opinion.”  Brian agreed. “No melody was too complex for any congregation to learn …

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Monday Devotions – Anticipating God’s Presence

These thoughts are from Randy Alcorn, who will be a main speaker at this year’s WorshipGod Conference: “[God’s servants] will see his face.” Revelation 22:4Our longing for Heaven is a longing for God—a longing that involves not only our inner selves, but our bodies as well. Being with God is the heart and soul of Heaven. Every other heavenly pleasure will derive from and be secondary to his holy presence. God’s greatest gift to us is, and always will be, himself. His presence brings satisfaction. His absence brings thirst and longing. “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for …

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WorshipGod06 Travel Arrangements

If you’re driving to the WorshipGod conference, or arriving at one of the local airports, and would like someone to ride with or pick you up, I’ve started a post where you can let others know your situation. It’s right here under the title Need a Ride?

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Who Trains the Children?

This question is a follow-up to an earlier post concerning the place of parents in training children. I’m in complete agreement with your quote from the blog (March 31, 2006): “Training children to worship God is primarily the parent’s responsibility, not the church’s.”  But does that mean that you shut down the nurseries and cancel children’s church? The priority Scripture gives to parents training their children to know and worship God (Eph. 6:1-2; Deut. 6:7; 2 Tim. 3:14-15) doesn’t negate the role of the church in working towards the same end. However, the church is often seen as a replacement for the parents, rather than a support to …

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New CD – The Apostles Creed

Keith Getty and Stuart Townend. If you don’t know those names, you should. They are the co-writers of In Christ Alone, and as far as I can tell, are among the most gifted songwriters for congregational worship alive today. Stuart has been a friend for a number of years and I met Keith and his wife Kristyn this past year. My church had the joy of hosting all three of them for an event last September. I was challenged and inspired by Keith’s passion to equip the church through theologically rich songs. What makes his focus so impressive is that he doesn’t write the lyrics for the songs he composes with Stuart – he writes the melodies. …

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Monday Devotions – The Precious Blood

Our culture can tend to talk about the cross in a way that magnifies our worth to God rather than our sin against Him. I’ve seen or heard worship songs whose main point seems to be that God sent Jesus to die for us because He couldn’t bear to live without us. While God’s children are precious in his sight, our value should never be the end of our worship nor the source of our joy. Of course, every human being has an intrinsic worth. We have been made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27). Like no other living creature, men and women have the distinct role of representing God to the rest of creation, administrating His rule and care. However, …

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