I present to you… my first worship confessional… well, actually my second.  I deleted the whole first draft.  I came across as an arrogant, self-centered idiot in it, which rendered me entirely incapable of editing it in iMovie.  This one is better, but still I wonder – will anyone want to watch a 13 minute worship confessional?  I can taste the sinking blog stats now…

By the way, in order to participate in Fred’s ‘Sunday Set-Lists’, the set-list for Sunday was:

WALK IN: Tell the World – Hillsong United
1.  My Savior Lives – New Life Church/Desperation Band
2.  Marvelous Light – Charlie Hall
3.  Lead me to the Cross – Hillsong United
4.  How Great is Our God – Chris Tomlin (w/ How Great Thou Art)
CLOSING: Hosanna – Hillsong United 

In all seriousness, it’ s been a strange week. Though I never knew her personally (I had seen her before, but I don’t believe we’d ever met), we had a number of friends in common, and as it has many others, her music moved me deeply. Having followed her battle against cancer this past year or so, it really hit me hard yesterday to learn of the loss of Katie Reider. Apparently, there were many others her life and music touched as well, for it was the highest number of blog readers I’ve had since I started publishing my thoughts online several years ago (on Xanga – does anyone use Xanga anymore?). My prayers go out to her closest friends and family.

On the other side of the coin, I guess you’d call yesterday “bittersweet” – the source of my new-found “fame” (though I hope, in fact, that it expresses God’s fame): I’m excited to announce that my article “WORTHY” is being featured at TheWorshipCommunity.com, an new online Worship ‘magazine’ which facilitates discussion and community among worship leaders & worship musicians who are “in the trenches”, as some have said – those who are leading their congregations in worship in churches around the world every Sunday. I’ve made some wonderful connections, and new friends, during the time that TWC was merely an online forum, and I’m excited to see it grow, and take the obvious next step into a full-blown online publication. I’m also honored to have the featured article this week. Please swing by, read it, and be encouraged to comment!

Lastly, it was a good evening because I can see the release of Saint Lewis’ “Songs from the Hope Farm” e.p. immediately on the horizon. Very late last night my wife & I were putting the finishing touches on one of her originals, and it just excites me to see this small sampler (all of these songs – albeit more professionally mixed versions – will also be featured on our full-length c.d. expected early next year) of original worship material come together, and I’ve been really blessed by the positive feedback we’ve received on many of our songs these past few months. A very limited edition printing of the e.p. will be ready very soon, but until then please stop by our website-in-the-making: Saint Lewis Music.

May God’s blessings be evident, & His Spirit be near…

(originally delivered to WDA campus ministry at the University of Georgia)

“Lucky mud?” Is that all we are? Many of you, as college student, have likely encountered the innumerable unbiblical opinions expressed concerning who we are and what we are doing here. Richard Pratt, in his book Designed for Dignity tells the true story of a young woman who had left her husband and two children for another lover. The lover had recently thrown her out of his place, so alone in a hotel room, despairing the events that had led her to where she now was, she shot herself in the head with a .38 caliber pistol. The note she left on the nightstand simply stated, “Don’t cry for me – I’m not even human anymore. Ironically, just two floors down in that very hotel was a New Age convention. The gunshot couldn’t even be heard above the din of the crowd, who were all chanting, “I am God! …I am God! …I am God!

Sometimes we hear such rhetoric from the very same individual, such as when a non-Christian professor pokes fun of traditional religion and proclaims us masters of our own fate, yet at the same time believes that we are no more than the product of chance and law, so called “lucky mud.”

Even as Christians many of us have accepted the subtle lies of the culture around us, rather than the words of the very God who created us. We believe that we are entirely sovereign over our own destiny. We believe that work is merely a chore to be put up with and is only for the sake of sustenance. We believe that sensuality is the end all of everything, and that a marriage relationship that doesn’t bring us happiness is one to be abandoned, for surely our own happiness is God’s highest priority. In some cases, Christians even believe that we can abandon the Biblical story of Adam and Eve altogether, the very story that serves as a corrective of the many things we tempted to believe concerning who we are and what we are here for, and on which Christ’s very work as our redeemer, the second Adam, stands. Read the rest of this entry »

I first preached the following sermon at a WDA Campus Ministry meeting at the University of Georgia in 2002. I have been hoping to edit it into essay form to blog for some time now. My interest was rekindled after reading Fred’s fascinating blog on Sickness yesterday, hoping to balance some of the other writing I’ve been doing on the subject in my lengthy dialogue with the text of SUFFERING & THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD over at my other blog. It is a healthy reminder to myself, and hopefully many others, that all-to-often we ask the wrong questions. I hope this blesses, challenges, and encourages you…

____________________________________________________________

Let me set the stage. You’re in the backyard of a single-story brick home on a hilly eight acres of spring-green grass. One acre is a garden, freshly planted, and needing rain. Downhill, East of the house is a small creek-bed lined with maple, white oak, and buckeye trees that seem to form a wall protecting a patch of newly planted evergreens nearly hidden behind them. All around edge the yard are log fence-posts, with fields of wheat, tobacco, and corn crops on the other side. This particular day was dark, and it looked as though it may storm. In the backyard among all that beauty stood an 8 year-old boy who was lonely, angry, and alienated, and just wanted a friend. He had been teased a lot at school for being weird, and many of his “friends” only kept him around as a scapegoat. Though his parents were not believers, his mom had taken him to Vacation Bible School at a local church to help teach him “right and wrong.” There he learned enough about God to come to the conclusion that it was God who was to blame for all his pain. That day, as a storm was fast approaching, that young boy held a pocketknife to the sky and screamed, “Come down here because I’m going to kill you. He waited around for a few minutes, in tears, and when he decided God wasn’t going to show he returned inside. That day he lost what little faith he might have had and began to live his life as though God did not exist. Read the rest of this entry »

What makes you feel valued – of worth? Gifts? A phone call? Has anyone ever sung a song for you (Happy Birthday, per chance)? Better yet, has anyone ever WRITTEN a song for you? Music is powerful – SINGING IS POWERFUL. I’m serious: guys, if you know you are ugly, and you want to get married one day, buy an instrument NOW! But, music – and singing – is not enough. What if someone wrote you a song, but then hit on your best friend? Wouldn’t be quite as cool, would it? In fact, you’d probably despise that song, and turn the radio station any time it came on. There is more to feeling loved – to being praised- than simply being sung about, or to. This is an important point: WORSHIP IS NOT – at least not in any ‘ultimate’ sense – ABOUT SINGING, and, in the most important sense of the term, I am not your “worship leader”.

Sure, I may lead people in song, and on my best days (or, hopefully, MOST days) I encourage then to sing to God, but that’s not necessarily ‘worship’, and at best that makes me a ‘lead worshiper’ or a ‘song-leader’, not a worship leader. My ‘official title’ here at the church, at least the one on my job description, says “Associate Music Director”, which is very appropriate, I think, and Biblical.

I know what some people THINK we worship leaders are trying to do. I’ve heard it. Haven’t you ever heard someone who was really into a corporate worship service say of the so-called ‘worship leader’; “he really led me into the presence of God”? Or were you the one who said it? Now, I think I understand their heart, and what they’re TRYING to convey, but they were absolutely wrong because NO worship leader today can do that! I can’t do that – I was never MEANT to do that! But, someone else was, and DID! Read the rest of this entry »

Kevin Twit, an RUF Campus Minister at Bellmont in Nashville, the leader of the Indelible Grace worship team (some of the members of which are also in Jars of Clay and Caedmon’s Call), and an ordained PCA Presbyterian minister, recently gave one of the most profound teachings I have ever heard on KNOWING GOD’S WILL. Though I think he misunderstands the modern-day gift of prophecy, as most PCA Presbyterians do (I speak as a former PCA-member, who holds much love for the denomination – I should also note that not all PCA-ers agree with him), the rest of the content of his teaching is absolutely incredible.

If you find yourself challenged by this, be sure to also check out Kevin Twit’s excellent WORSHIP SEMINARS

I don’t get to do this often, so whenever I’m asked to teach I go through a serious crisis – what is the most important thing I can share? And honestly, I have a hundred Biblical issues running through my head that all seem important to me, and I pray, and I read, and I study and try to discern what God would have me say, and that continues until the night before when, God-willing, it all comes together in a bright flash of light, the space-time continuum splits wide open, and God personally hands me a sermon, especially designed for every one of you. Read the rest of this entry »

Matt Chandler at the Village Church preached “Sovereign Over All”.  THIS is a sermon that leads me want to passionately worship my God. It’s like a spiritual punch in the gut.  Very powerful!

I recently stumbled across this older sermon I had preached while working at the University of Georgia and was struck by it’s truth. As tragedy is not foreign to any of us, I wanted to re-post this for the rest of you to consider… Read the rest of this entry »

As Biblical worship is more than music, but is rather a full-life response to God’s revelation, it’s important for any believer – in order to worship God ‘in Spirit & Truth’ – to understand not only who God is, but who we are in relation to Him. That is why I’m sharing this teaching I shared last year at INSIDE OUT.

I once heard Dr. Richard Pratt tell the true story of a young woman who was cheating on her husband, and had left her husband and two children to live with her boyfriend. But soon, things had gone sour with her boyfriend too – he had thrown her out of his place – so alone in a hotel room, despairing the events that had led her to where she now was, she shot herself in the head with a .38 caliber pistol. The note she left on the nightstand simply stated, “Don’t cry for me – I’m not even human anymore.” Ironically, just two floors down in that very hotel was a New Age convention. The gunshot couldn’t even be heard above the din of the crowd, who were all chanting, “I am God! …I am God! …I am God!” Read the rest of this entry »

Sovereign Grace for FREE!

August 22, 2007

Sovereign Grace Ministries has just made ALL of their mp3 downloads available for FREE. Yes, that includes past conferences lessons and the like. Let me directly point you towards Sovereign Grace Ministries various messages on WORSHIP. I could take you months to get though it all.

DOWNLOAD AWAY!

Come on – go ahead! You know you want to.

Here are a few places you can start (by request):
Worship: What really Matters
Creating a Flow in Worship
Why do we Sing?
Becoming a better Songwriter
Principles of Songwriting
Heart attitudes for the Worship Team

I absolutely love podcasts – it’s an excellent way to access great Bible teaching without having to read continually, or travel extensively to conferences around the country. Here are a few incredible teachings on ‘worship’ that I’ve found very challenging/encouraging over the past few months…

DEDICATION AND DELIGHT (Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill Seattle)

WHY DO WE SING? (Bob Kauflin, ChristChurch UK)

WORSHIP: THE SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES (Mike Plewniak, Cornerstone Church of Knoxville)
this is an excellent resource, an overview of ‘worship’ – though I have a copy on my computer, I can’t currently find it on the web – check back soon, as I’m going to keep looking…and if any of you know the folks over at Cornerstone Church, tell them to put it back up!

CHRIST, OUR ACCESS (Mark Mullery, Sovereign Grace Church of Fairfax)

May 16, 1973 – I was born in a small town called Georgetown, Ohio – famous only for General & President Ulysses S. Grant and Pro basketball player, and my schoolmate, Brian Grant.

Mom’s father, Ted, was raised a Quaker but was an Atheist, I believe due to his extremely dangerous stint as a gunner in WWII, and my grandmother, Rosie, a nominal Methodist who did all of the good things Methodists do, but who didn’t have a very deep faith in God.

My Dad was a much sadder story: his mother, Clara, was from a dirt poor family – she had to drop out of school in the 3rd grade to support her sisters. And his Dad – my grandfather: well, we don’t know all that much about him. He became mentally ill shortly after my Dad’s older sister was born, and after my Dad was born he became dangerous and – for their safety – was essentially removed from their lives completely. Read the rest of this entry »

What a wonderful month it has been at St. Simons Community Church! David Yarborough began an important new series this month called iReach: Changd Lives, re-presenting and updating our church’s vision statement. This was the 2nd week and WOW: Fred & the band nailed it during the worship time, especially the creative special music – Crowder’s “Come & Listen” – utilizing cello & violin, two of my very favorite instruments (as anyone familiar with my last c.d. with Set on Edge will know), and then David brought a powerful word about the church’s primary instrument in changing live – “Reaching Up” to God in Worship (and not just the ‘musical’ kind, but the ‘whole life’ kind). I’m very thankful to be part of a fellowship where the Scriptures are so faithfully taught!

After church, while ruminating over the message, I revisited David’s excellent series on worship from a few months ago, and I just wanted to share it with you all. If you haven’t listened yet, it’s an excellent ‘primer’ on the importance of worship. Be blessed!

Wired for Worship

WHY WORSHIP?

RECONNECT

READ THE MANUAL

GROUNDED

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