Archive | —Worship and Christ

Risen Has Arrived

I’m happy to announce that our latest album, Risen, came out yesterday — a whole album of songs that celebrate the reality and meaning of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. When we first were planning Risen my hope was to get it out in time for Easter. God helping us, we did. And we managed to squeeze in a few extras. More Sheet Music We’ve included lead sheets and guitar charts as in the past, but this time both in the recorded key and in suggested congregational keys, when needed. Risen also includes the piano scores for all the songs. More Sovereign Grace Musicians Most of our previous major releases have …

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Should We Sing Songs About God’s Judgments?

Some people had questions about my recent review of Doug O’Donnell’s book, God’s Lyrics, which I want to attempt to address in this post. The basic question has to do with the place of singing about God’s judgments. O’Donnell makes the point that many of the songs in the Old Testament rejoice over God’s just judgments (Ex. 15:1-18; 1Sam. 2:10; 2Sam. 22:44-51, etc.) A related theme has to do with God humbling the proud. Both themes are lacking in the song diet of many churches, yet they’re unquestionably present not only in OT songs, but in the New Testament as well (Lk. 1:51-55; Rev. 18:20; 19:1-5). Are You Kidding Me? We can struggle …

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The Functional Limits of Creativity: How Innovative Can We Be with the Gospel?

This past weekend I had the privilege of presenting a workshop at Crowder’s Fantastical Church Music Conference in Waco, TX. Through a series of email discussions, David and I came up with the title, “The Functional Limits of Creativity: How Innovative Can We Be with the Gospel?” When Crowder first contacted me about participating in the conference I wanted to make sure he knew where I was coming from in the area of creativity. I love creativity, but think God has placed limits on its use in congregational meetings. He told me that’s why he wanted me to come to the conference. Well, that made my day. I divided my workshop message into …

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The Cross and Christian Ministry

A few years ago, at the recommendation of C.J. Mahaney, I read The Cross and Christian Ministry by D.A. Carson. Carson exposits select passages from 1 Corinthians, explaining how the cross affects our understanding of preaching, the Holy Spirit, factionalism, Christian leadership, and being a world Christian. I’d highly recommend it for any Christian leader who believes “Christ crucified” defines not only our message but our methods of ministry. Here are a few quotes that impacted me: Replacing The Primary with the Secondary “It is at least possible that we are the generation of believers who will destroy much of historic Christianity from …

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The Gospel Song – An Animation

Not too long ago I came across the work of Chris Powers, who put together an animated video of one of our songs, The Prodigal. I was moved by the way he used simple animation to illustrate the song in a powerful way. Recently Chris told me he had animated another one of our songs, The Gospel Song. Here are the lyrics: Holy God in love became Perfect man to bear my blame On the cross he took my sin By his death I live again. In the video, Chris also added a portion of a message by John Piper where he pleads with unbelievers to trust in the finished work of Christ for their sins. The Gospel Song was first written for a musical …

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"Jesus, Thank You" by Pat Sczebel

“Jesus, Thank You” by Pat Sczebel

Back in 2005 we produced an album called Worship God Live, a live album that featured Pat Sczebel and me each leading six songs. Pat serves as one of the pastors at Crossway Community Church, in Surrey, British Columbia. He’s been a dear friend for years. Pat inspires me in many ways. He’s one of the most encouraging guys I know. He’s a caring husband, a faithful dad, a diligent pastor, and he has a heart for the lost. But most of all, I’m affected by his genuine love for Jesus Christ. Through a variety of circumstances, in want and fruitfulness, Pat’s love for the Savior has produced encouragement, hope, and faith that affects everyone around …

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Spurgeon on the Inexhaustibility of Jesus

Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) has few peers when it comes to stirring up biblically informed passion for Jesus Christ. My wife made me aware of one of his quotes today from The Daily Spurgeon. It’s from a sermon called “The Fulness Of Jesus, The Treasury Of Saints,” that Spurgeon delivered February 28, 1869. Spurgeon describes how both preaching and music grow dull if they don’t magnify the greatness of the Savior in people’s minds and hearts. His words are just as relevant today as they were 140 years ago. “Brethren, there is an abiding fullness of truth in Christ; after you have heard it for fifty years, you see more of its fullness …

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Songs that Celebrate the Resurrection in View of the Cross

I’ll never make any apologies for encouraging Christians to live cross-centered lives, or leaders to lead in gospel-centered ways. Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross which reconciled us to God will always be central to our faith. But while we are called to glory in the cross of Christ (Gal. 6:14), the death of Christ isn’t meant to stand alone in our thinking or preaching. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Cor. 15:17-19) Still, …

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Can Singing About the Gospel Become Rote?

One of the drums I will never tire of beating is this: All biblical worship is rooted in and made possible by the cross of Christ. In my experience, the contemporary church (and any church, for that matter) is always in danger of neglecting the gospel in its songs. I said it this way in my book, Worship Matters: The gospel is not merely one of many possible themes we can touch on as we come to worship God. It is the central and foundational theme. All our worship originates and is brought into focus at the cross of Jesus Christ. Glorying in Jesus Christ means glorying in his cross. That doesn’t mean looking at some icon or two pieces …

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Longing for His Appearing – and Singing About It

Whatever you believe about the timing of the return of Christ, orthodox Christians all agree on one thing: Jesus is coming back. Scripture tells us that when Jesus finally returns, all wrongs will be made right, the unrighteous will be judged, and those who have trusted in Christ will enter into the immediate presence of God in the new heavens and new earth. God promises that there will be no more sin, no more tears, no more death, and no more pain (2Thess. 2:8; Phil. 3:20-21; Rev. 21:4). And “when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). With those kinds of promises, you’d expect that we’d be thinking …

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Treasuring Christ Above All Things

My daughter, Brittany, sent me this video today. It’s by the folks at Desiring God, who excel at using technology in a creative way to draw attention to what’s being said. The content is part of a John Piper sermon set to techno music. Piper addresses the question, “How do we treasure Christ above all things?” which is at the heart of God-honoring worship. This is what we’re seeking to help people do every time we have the privilege of leading corporate worship. …

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Christ-Centered Worship by Bryan Chappell – Book Review

Just finished Christ-Centered Worship: Letting the Gospel Shape Our Practice, by Bryan Chappell. Bottom line — if you’re responsible for leading, overseeing, or planning corporate worship in your church, you should read this book. Chappell divides the book into two sections, Gospel Worship and Gospel Worship Resources. A casual look at the Table of Contents could lead you to think the book is all about formal liturgies, and irrelevant for churches that come from a more “free” tradition. Not the case. In the first section he defines liturgy as “the public way a church honors God in its times of gathered praise, prayer, instruction, and commitment” …

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By This We Know Love – Video from Next Live 2009

This past May I had the joy of leading the singing at the Next conference in Baltimore, MD, along with three different bands. One of them was Zelos, led by Judah Groveman. We introduced one of Judah’s songs, By This We Know Love. It’s a simple ballad that communicates the profound truth of 1 John 3:16: “By this we know love, thathe laid down his life for us.” Here are the lyrics: God of all Creation, Lord of heaven’s light Descended into evil’s darkest night Infinitely Holy, Your perfections know no end Selflessly You died my rightful death By this we know love that He laid down His life God’s very own Son came from Heaven to die Suspended …

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Lessons Learned From Three Decades of Leading

On Friday night at WorshipGod09, Jeff Purswell interviewed CJ Mahaney and me about some things we had learned over thirty years of leading, much of that together. From the early 90’s I was involved in leading the music at various Sovereign Grace conferences, and then in 1997 I became the worship pastor at Covenant Life Church, where CJ was senior pastor. CJ has been the most significant influence in my life when it comes to the focus and practicals of leading congregational worship. During the interview, Jeff asked us about different topics including the role of the senior pastor in planning/leading corporate worship, encouraging your …

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More Quotes from John Flavel on the Excellency of Christ

Yesterday I posted some quotes I found in John Flavel’s book The Fountain of Life, written in 1671.  I regularly try to read old books because it introduces me to the perspective of godly saints who aren’t distracted or influenced by the technology, glitter, and philosophies of our current age.  Of course, they had their own issues to deal with and their own blind spots. But reading them in a different era helps me see more clearly what their blind spots were, as well as expose a few of my own. In any case, here are some more quotes that I found enlightening and helpful. I’ve added some personal thoughts at the end of each one. Security …

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