Blogging is minimal at the moment as I’m preparing for the WorshipGod conference next week. With 45 seminars and 6 main sessions, I think the 1600+ people who are coming will have plenty to chew on. But what I’m most anticipating is God encountering folks in ways that are unique to their situations. Encouraging a leader who’s grown weary. Convicting a musician of self-exalting pride. Strengthening relationships between team members, husbands and wives, pastors and worship leaders. Equipping a keyboardist to serve her church more effectively. Hopefully even healing some who are physically ill. I’m grateful that even though I don’t know every person’s situation, God does.
A while back I asked the main speakers two questions about the message they’ll be sharing:”What do you hope will be filling people’s minds and hearts as they walk away from your message?” and “How do you hope your message will change the way they think about the Psalms and worshiping God?” Here are the responses from the first two speakers. I found them encouraging and trust you will as well.
Craig Cabaniss (Knowing God with the Psalmist)
I hope that people will walk away from my message with a fresh awareness of the greatness of God. I plan on preaching Psalm 33 which is a hymn of praise that begins with calling us to passionately praise God, transitions to giving reasons for praising God, and then concludes with a compelling description of trusting God. What I love about the Psalms, and this one in particular, is that they describe God specifically. Never vague in their language, the Psalms vividly detail God and his works. In my laziness, I can find it all too easy to pray and sing in response to general notions of God. Psalm 33 will have none of that. David calls for exuberant worship in response to our God who has acted in specific ways. I pray that God will use this Psalm to elevate our perception of him so that we see him more nearly as he is and respond as the text calls for with joyful celebration and confident trust.
I think the Psalms are a favorite portion of Scripture for a number of reasons. One clear reason is that the Psalms intersect with daily life. All of Scripture is relevant for life, but the Psalms reflect daily experience in a unique way. No matter what I am going through in life, I can find a psalm that voices my experience of God. How many times have we read a Psalm and thought “that is exactly how I feel?” My hunch is that we are often drawn to the Psalms because of this relatability factor. I think, however, that there is a far more important reason for studying the Psalms. The glory of the Psalms is not that they understand me, but that they enable me to understand God. In my session, “Knowing God with the Psalmist,” I hope to make the point that the power of the Psalms is found in the God they reveal. We will worship with a heart like the psalmists as we encounter the God of the psalmists. I also hope that God will meet us in this session and throughout the conference spotlighting Christ and him crucified from the Psalms.
Thabiti Anyabwile (Expressing Emotion with the Psalmist)
For years now, I’ve been drawn to the Lord’s words in Mark 12:30—“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Jesus tells us that this is the greatest commandment. The Lord God is worthy of all of our love—indeed all that we are we joyfully owe to God in love. I pray that my talk on worship and the emotions leaves people thinking and feeling and pursuing the happy realization of this commandment in increasing measure. I pray that we all leave thinking and feeling, “Yes! I want to love God that way!”
I hesitate to venture a guess about how the Spirit of God might change His people through this talk. I pray that He would bless His word, and I’m confident He will. But if I could ask one thing in prayer it would be that we would be freed to love, serve and pursue God in an emotionally vibrant, congregationally edifying, truth embracing, Christ exalting way. My heart is too often colder than I would like. I pray that biblical passion for the Savior would overwhelm people like me and that that passion would be lasting so that our churches would be affected deeply. I can’t think of a better book than the Psalms for cultivating that kind of passion. And I can’t help but think that, should it please the Lord, seeing the psalmist’s emotions as our own through Christ would change how we view the book and how we live with Christ. That’s my prayer.
I’ll share thoughts from Mark Dever and David Powlison tomorrow.