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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

Amazing Love

Written in 1989, and now updated in an acoustic style, Amazing Love (My Lord what love is this) is performed by Graham Kendrick, Mark Prentice (Double Bass) and Terl Bryant (Percussion) - re-recorded here for 2011's "The Very Best of Graham Kendrick". This song expresses the heart of the converted soul:

My Lord What Love Is This
That Pays So Dearly
That I, The Guilty One May Go Free!

Chorus:
Amazing Love, O What Sacrifice
The Son Of God Given For Me
My Debt He Pays And My Death He Dies
That I Might Live
That I Might Live

And So They Watched Him Die
Despised, Rejected
But Oh, The Blood He Shed Flowed For Me

And Now This Love Of Christ
Shall Flow Like Rivers
Come Wash Your Guilt Away, Live Again!

November 11, 2014  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Correct Protocol

One dictionary defines the word “protocol” as “the official procedure of rules governing affairs of state or diplomatic occasions.” In meeting any high ranking dignitary there is an understood etiquette which need to be learned and adopted or else there might be dire consequences.

Allow me to give you an example of protocol as it relates to interaction with the Queen. At Buckingham Palace, in London, should you be given the privilege of an invitation to have an audience with her Majesty, you cannot just walk in to the Palace unannounced. A time and date is scheduled. Bear in mind that it is highly offensive to be late for your meeting.

Queen+

Before the actual audience takes place,you would be escorted into a room where for several minutes a Palace official will explain correct procedure and protocol. These include the following:

When the Queen enters a room, all in attendance are to stand.

Men are to bow, women are to curtsy (U.S.A. citizens need not comply with this - only the Queen's subjects under her rule).

Queen+2


When first meeting the Queen, she should be addressed as “Your Majesty” and then afterwards as “Ma’am.”

If her Majesty is accompanied by her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, it should be noted that by rank, he is lower than the Queen, and should be addressed as “Your Royal Highness” rather than “Your Majesty.” After this initial greeting he may be addressed as “Sir” and then, when departing as “Your Royal Highness” again.

Should you be eating a meal with the Queen in attendance, when the Queen stops eating, all others should stop eating also.

Regarding shaking hands, you must wait until the Queen extends her hand towards you. You are not to initiate contact (offering a handshake). Definitely, there are to be no hugs, kisses on the cheek or the touching of the shoulder.

In conversation, allow her Majesty to initiate any conversation with you.

Never, for any reason, turn your back on the Queen.

If this is the protocol for interaction with an earthly ruler, what does the Bible say regarding protocol for God Himself, the King of kings and Lord of lords?

Continue reading "Correct Protocol" »

November 06, 2014  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Trinity and Worship

Graham Kendrick shares some thoughts as a worship leader about the doctrine of the Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Access all areas! Sometimes we can lose the wonder and the awe of the fact that we can worship God at all - that we are welcomed into His presence. We must understand that our only access to be able to come before God is through Christ - The Worship Leader.

October 24, 2014  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Holy Spirit, Living Breath of God

JS - I would like to introduce you to the beautiful hymn "Holy Spirit, Living Breath of God" written by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend and sung by Kristyn Getty. The violin solo at the beginning is “Gabriel’s Oboe” by Ennio Morricone, from the soundtrack to the movie “The Mission” and the melody itself is heavily influenced by J.S. Bach. Also included is a reading of The Lorica (Breastplate), a prayer of protection traditionally attributed to Saint Patrick of Ireland.

Keith Getty explains, "the lyric of 'Holy Spirit, Living Breath of God' is as much an explanation of what Scripture states the Holy Spirit does as it is a prayer for our utter dependence on the Holy Spirit in our lives. The first verse is a petition for inward renewal as we are confronted with the living and written Word of God. The second verse is a prayer that the outward fruit of our lives will reflect Christ in every action. The final verse is then a prayer for the church around us, that the Spirit will 'show your power once again on earth; cause your church to hunger for your ways.' As we worked to find an appropriate climax to the song, we were continually reminded through our studies that the Holy Spirit works to make us less and exalt Christ. So rather than making the third verse a huge finish, we turn in the sixth line and express, “lead me on the road to sacrifice.”

Lyrics
Holy Spirit, living Breath of God,
Breathe new life into my willing soul.
Bring the presence of the risen Lord
To renew my heart and make me whole.
Cause Your Word to come alive in me;
Give me faith for what I cannot see;
Give me passion for Your purity.
Holy Spirit, breathe new life in me.

Holy Spirit, come abide within;
May Your joy be seen in all I do—
Love enough to cover ev’ry sin
In each thought and deed and attitude,
Kindness to the greatest and the least,
Gentleness that sows the path of peace.
Turn my striving into works of grace.
Breath of God, show Christ in all I do.

Holy Spirit, from creation’s birth,
Giving life to all that God has made,
Show your power once again on earth;
Cause Your church to hunger for Your ways.
Let the fragrance of our prayers arise.
Lead us on the road of sacrifice
That in unity the face of Christ
Will be clear for all the world to see.

November 26, 2012  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Why do we sing so much about the cross of Christ?

I thought this was profound: From the WorshipGod 2009 conference, C.J. Mahaney talks about the need for Christ's death on the cross to be central in corporate worship. - JS

November 20, 2012  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Organized Religion?

When someone tells me, "I am not into organized religion" I usually respond by asking, "Oh, that's interesting. So you prefer the disorganized kind?"

The conversation normally goes somewhat quiet when I ask that question. Usually most people have not thought about the matter to any great degree.

Yet, if we were to understand that WE and our feelings and opinions are not what matters on this issue - that we are not the center of the universe and in fact, that God has the right to orchestrate worship as He sees fit.. I know, what a concept!!... but yes, were we brave enough to stop and ask God's opinion, seeking to find out what pleases Him, we would not read far in our Bibles before finding out that worship is to be carried out His way on His terms.

Remember Cain and Abel? Remember how one sacrifice was accepted by God (Abel's) and the other was not (Cain's). Remember the Tabernacle? Remember that His instructions had to be followed precisely and meticulously? Talk about organization... Entire books of the Bible were dedicated to revealing His precise instructions. God is holy and is to be treated as such by those seeking to approach Him in worship. Failure to do so had severe consequences. Nadab and Abihu were struck dead by God for seeking to design their own methods of worship. After their deaths, no one in Israel (including Aaron their own father) was allowed to even mourn their loss (Leviticus Chapter 10). Remember that?

Leviticus 10 reads: 1 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. 3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord has said: ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’” And Aaron held his peace.

4 And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said to them, “Come near; carry your brothers away from the front of the sanctuary and out of the camp.” 5 So they came near and carried them in their coats out of the camp, as Moses had said. 6 And Moses said to Aaron and to Eleazar and Ithamar his sons, “Do not let the hair of your heads hang loose, and do not tear your clothes, lest you die, and wrath come upon all the congregation; but let your brothers, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning that the Lord has kindled. 7 And do not go outside the entrance of the tent of meeting, lest you die, for the anointing oil of the Lord is upon you.” And they did according to the word of Moses.

8 And the Lord spoke to Aaron, saying, 9 “Drink no wine or strong drink, you or your sons with you, when you go into the tent of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations. 10 You are to distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean, 11 and you are to teach the people of Israel all the statutes that the Lord has spoken to them by Moses.”

Frightening stuff, yes? Actually, its meant to be. It is a fearful thing to come before God in worship. All of us will be consumed if we do not come His way, on His terms, and by means of the sacrifice He has authorized. (see Hebrews 10:19-22)

So back to our discussion - were we to seek God's thoughts on the matter, one of the many things we would find is that He loves the corporate worship gathering of His people, greatly preferring it to all of our private spiritual devotions combined.

"The Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God." (Ps. 87:2-3)

"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." (Hebrews 10:25, 26)

This is just the starting point of course, but rather than taking a poll of the community to ask for people's personal preferences, its time we come on our knees humbly before God and with open Bibles ask Him, "What pleases You God? What is a true Church in Your eyes? What is Your view of worship? What isn't?"

I hope that each of us are prepared to obey Him when He tells us the answers.

- JS

June 30, 2012  |  Comments (7)   |  Permalink

Sons of Korah

Although the contributors to this site have a variety of opinions on relatively minor matters, it is, as the name suggests, openly and unashamedly Reformed in its essential theology and viewpoints. And really, what is a more historically Reformed practice than psalm-singing? Simply speaking, the psalms were meant to be sung. There are few things more helpful in the daily battle for sanctification than to have the psalms always running through one's heart; and putting them to music is a tremendously valuable way to assist in that endeavor. Therefore, I'm always on the lookout for resources to aid in congregational or personal singing of the psalms. One group I came across some time ago, which has been a huge blessing to me, is the Sons of Korah. They put a modern, non-metrical translation of the psalms to music. Their songs are exclusively psalms, quite often psalms in their entirety, set to emotional, affective music which reflects the content of the individual psalms very appropriately. They already have five full albums available, with a sixth coming out anytime now. I would highly recommend them to anyone. Their website is sonsofkorah.com. Here's a youtube sample for you to check out:

March 03, 2012  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)

I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. - Psalm 34:1

Matt Redman explains how he plays the song on his guitar:

Here is a live version, with lyrics added:

January 20, 2012  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Jesus Kristus Kurios

It was a typical day in ancient Rome. As they entered the dreaded arena they had only to say two words and they could live: Kaiser Kurios - Caesar is Lord. Instead they proclaimed: Jesus Kristus Kurios — Jesus Christ is Lord — and paid for the privilege with their blood.

The early Christians followed Christ, not out of mere preference, but out of conviction. Can we say the same thing?

Chris Powers recently put a video together based on the song "All I Have is Christ" written by Jordan Kauflin. He sets the song in the context of preaching Christ in a country that’s closed to the gospel. I found it very moving. Let me know what you think. - JS

Continue reading "Jesus Kristus Kurios" »

July 23, 2011  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Explicit Sexual Imagery and the Christian Walk

Some time back I wrote an article called “Run for your life”, where I warned of a very troubling concept found in a book by Ann Voskamp, namely to think of our union with God in sexual terms. For many days afterwards I was bombarded with hostile personal attacks in the comments, many of which I had to delete, and yet, no one was able to say that I had misunderstood the author’s words or taken them out of context in any way at all. Anyway, regarding this, here’s a question I received today (edited slightly):

Pastor Samson, I am in absolutely disagreement with Ann Voskamp’s book; but now I have a question, that I am not finding “easy” to answer. Ann has posted a sort of a response to criticisms she has received, in which she quotes men like John Piper, C.H. Spurgeon and Jonathan Edwards, using the “same kind” of metaphor that she used. I find this very dangerous because many Reformed women now are feeling “safe” about following her lead. That is why I want to be ready to give them an answer. What are your thoughts? Would you consider writing a post explaining what Edwards and Spurgeon meant when they used these words? Thank you.

My response can be found here. - JS

April 05, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

How deep the Father's love for us

The Doctrines of Grace have not been fully grasped if they only bring us intellectual knowledge or some kind of mental stimulation. Properly understood, they lead every true child of God to new depths of worship of our great God.

The song "How deep the Father’s love for us" written by Stuart Townend is definitely amongst my all time favorites. I have been moved to tears many times as I have contemplated the words. How thankful I am for the Father’s love – so vast and immeasurable. - JS


February 11, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

"Hallelujah all I have is Christ, Hallelujah, Jesus is my life."

"And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live." (Deut 30:6)

Bob Kauflin leads us in a new song for the Church, written by his son Jordan. "Hallelujah all I have is Christ, Hallelujah, Jesus is my life."

I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still

But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace

Continue reading ""Hallelujah all I have is Christ, Hallelujah, Jesus is my life."" »

June 28, 2010  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

"Was Blind, But Now I See.."

Dear God, there was a time when I could not see any beauty at all in You; but now it is the highest and most lofty pursuit of my heart to know and love You. My heart was not more sensitive than another's to see this - I was blind (2 Cor 4:4) not merely short sighted - but You did it (2 Cor 4:6) - You allowed me to see enough of You to spend my whole life pursuing You, knowing one day all I ever wanted will be fulfilled in seeing You face to face. - John S.

This song below called simply "Beautiful" sung by Kari Jobe captures the heart cry of every true child of God.

June 14, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

How Sweet the Sound...

Perhaps no song captures the heart of reformed theology better than the classic hymn "Amazing Grace" by John Newton. Indeed "twas grace that taught my heart to fear..." is the heart cry of every child of God who recognizes that it was God's irresisitible grace alone that opened our hearts to see the beauty of Christ and His gospel, it is grace that has brought us safe thus far, and in what is called the doctrine of the perseverance (or preservation) of the saints, it is indeed God's grace that will lead us home.

I was sent this link today and in playing it, found it to be deeply moving. Here is Amazing Grace sung by a very talented foursome IL DIVO, with the help of a wonderful Scottish bagpipe player. Have your sound turned up, click on the link here and enjoy! - JS

March 15, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Our Recent Visit to Mars Hill Church, Seattle

This last weekend on the spur of the moment my wife and I decided to drive up to Seattle for the weekend. It is a 3 hour drive from Portland and a badly needed getaway from our daily routine. After arriving in our downtown Seattle hotel our first stop was Piroshky Piroshky, a hole in the wall on the waterfront at Pike’s Market which sells incredible Russian pastries. My wife and I both love the meat-filled pastries the best and we ate a couple while we enjoyed the rare sunny afternoon on the park bench overlooking the water. It was really a blessing to sit in the sun after a solid month of grey skies. We had a lot to be thankful for. We were excited to be there and saw this as an opportunity for a time of refreshment. We were not disappointed.

Continue reading "Our Recent Visit to Mars Hill Church, Seattle" »

February 27, 2009  |  Comments (11)   |  Permalink

Disintegration: Worshipping the True God in the Wrong Way

In the preamble to the Commandments God asserts, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Exodus 20:2). The relationship that God has established with us, freeing us from bondage, is the basis from which we can now serve him and serve others. Our law-keeping flows out of this new gracious, familial relationship that God has initiated. Obedience to the covenant occurs after we are made members of the covenant; obedience, in other words, is the result of being joined in union with Christ; This means that our obedience neither initiates nor maintains that relationship, since Christ's work is sufficient for us both now and forever. We obey because we are saved, not saved because we obey.

I have to emphasize these points because we need constant reminding of them lest we invert the order of the gospel. Today we are going to focus in on the third commandment which teaches us that we are not to misuse the name of our God. We select this commandment because in our individualistic age it is easy to forget that God is sovereign and, therefore, we cannot worship God anyway we choose. Moses read the third commandment as follows:

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7)

Continue reading "Disintegration: Worshipping the True God in the Wrong Way" »

May 07, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Minister's Idols

"I submit, however, that buildings, bodies, and budgets often eclipse Word, sacrament, and discipline because this is often how congregations and ministers define themselves. It is hard to say who started it, whether ministers value those things because congregations do, because those are the sorts of things for which they are rewarded by the congregation or vice-versa. Ultimately it does not matter why we do it. What matters is that we do it. These are the status symbols that we covet: a growing budget, increasing attendance, and a bigger building. These are the idols that shape the program-driven church. These are the gods that drive the liturgy of the church-growth movement. These gods offer a covenant of works: do “this and prosper.” They promise tangible rewards to those who serve them faithfully. ." - R. Scott Clark

Quote from The Killer B’s: Idols of the Minister’s Heart

May 06, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

A Sampling of Substantive Lyrics

If most of you out there have a background anything like my own, you probably associate the rap/hip-hop scene with base, perverted lyrics and ungodliness in excess. That’s certainly the impression I had of rappers, at any rate – but recently I was blown away by the deep, Reformed theology in the lyrics of certain Christian rappers, whose projects can be found here. Just in case anyone is disbelieving or curious, I took the liberty to type out the lyrics to one of these songs I recently discovered. The artist is a brother named Shai Linne, and the song is called “Justified,” from Shai’s debut album, The Solus Christus Project. It’s basically a brief exposition of Romans, chapters one through three. The rest of the album has much more of the same.

Continue reading "A Sampling of Substantive Lyrics" »

November 17, 2006  |  Comments (35)   |  Permalink

“Old Testament Gospel” (by William Cowper)

I was reading through some of Cowper’s Olney Hymns today, and I was so struck by this one in particular, that I decided to post it for everyone else to enjoy as well. Cowper’s hymns really are phenomenal. They’re also public domain. Anyone interested may find them all online here

Continue reading "“Old Testament Gospel” (by William Cowper)" »

October 02, 2006  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

The Love of Christ Is Rich and Free


1. The love of Christ is rich and free;
Fixed on His own eternally;
Nor earth, nor hell, can it remove;
Long as He lives, His own He’ll love.

2. His loving heart engaged to be
Their everlasting Surety;
’Twas love that took their cause in hand,
And love maintains it to the end.

Chorus: Love cannot from its post withdraw;
Nor death, nor hell, nor sin, nor law,
Can turn the Surety’s heart away;
He’ll love His own to endless day.

3. Love has redeemed His sheep with blood;
And love will bring them safe to God;
Love calls them all from death to life;
And love will finish all their strife.

4. He loves through every changing scene,
Nor aught from Him can Zion wean;
Not all the wanderings of her heart
Can make His love for her depart.
(Repeat chorus)

5. At death, beyond the grave, He’ll love;
In endless bliss, His own shall prove
The blazing glory of that love
Which never could from them remove.

Tag: Which never could from them remove.

William Gadsby
Music: Sandra McCracken

Demo MP3

Where to Find out More
Sandra McCracken - The Builder And The Architect
For All The Saints: Indelible Grace III

August 16, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Music Recommendation

I have noticed a number of blogs talk about "Jesus or my Girlfriend" praise and worship songs/hymns. They are refering to the sad fact that many of the lyrics in the songs we sing could equally be sung to Jesus or to our girlfriend.

Quite rightly, these blog articles lament the fact that much if not all theological content is missing in these new songs. The good news is that there are exceptions in our day. I'd like to recommend a new CD from England by Keith and Kristyn Getty that features songs based on the Apostles Creed.

Here are the lyrics for two of the songs:

OH TO SEE THE DAWN
Oh to see the dawn
Of the darkest day
Christ on the road to Calvary
Tried by sinful men
Torn and beaten then
Nailed to a cross of wood

This the power of the cross
Christ became sin for us
Took the blame, bore the wrath
We stand forgiven at the cross

Continue reading "Music Recommendation" »

July 09, 2006  |  Comments (11)   |  Permalink

PCA General Assembly Overture on FV, NPP Theology Adopted

The following may be of great interest to any persons in the PCA or anyone following the Federal Vision, Auburn Avenue controversy.

At the recent PCA General Assembly an overture concerning Federal Vision, New Perspective on Paul, Shepherdism and Auburn Avenue Theology was raised. Some of these viewpoints have brought confusion on theological definitions and concepts that appear to strike at the heart of the gospel and the vitals of religion...

Therefore, be it resolved that the Rocky Mountain Presbytery overtures the 34th PCA General Assembly to erect an ad interim committee (RAO 8-1) to study the above named viewpoints and their formulations, and other similar viewpoints which are deemed by the committee to pertain to the above named viewpoints. Further, to determine whether these viewpoints and formulations are in conformity with the system of doctrine taught in the Westminster Standards, whether they are hostile to or strike at the vitals of religion, and to present a declaration or statement regarding the issues raised by these viewpoints in light of our Confessional Standards.

This Overture was brought to the committee. Bills and Overtures committee issued a majority report recommending we not form the study committee. There was a minority report in place of the B&O committee recommending we do form the study committee. The minority report prevailed in the assembly, so there will be a report at the next General Assembly on this matter. The GA voted on it and decided that a commission be established. It may take quite a white before there are any results. in other words ... this overture THAT A COMMISSION BE ESTABLISHED was adopted.

Read the entire document which includes much more...

PCA General Assembly to appoint formation of a study committee to study the matter and report back at a future General Assembly." OVERTURE 2 from Rocky Mountain Presbytery

This is another related overture: Declare Auburn Avenue Session Heterodox; Appoint Commission to Discipline Auburn Avenue Session; Appoint Commission to Discipline TE Steve Wilkins" (pdf)

Here is an official PCA GA page with a listing of overtures for this assembly listed: It is #2

June 24, 2006  |  Comments (20)   |  Permalink

We Are Not Peddlers of God's Word

"Pelagianism is the natural heresy of zealous Christians who are not interested in theology." - J.I. Packer, "'Keswick' and the Reformed Doctrine of Sanctification."

Churches which preserve their cognitive identity and distinction from the culture will flourish: those who lose them in the interests of seeking success will disappear.

In our churches we may have made a deal with postmodern consumers but the hard reality is that Christianity cannot be bought. Purchase, in the world of consumption, leads to ownership but in the Church this cannot happen. It is never God who is owned. It is we who are owned in Christ. Christianity is not up for sale. Its price has already been fixed and that price is the complete and ongoing surrender to Christ of those who embrace him by faith. It can only be had on his own terms. It can only be had as a whole. It refuses to offer only selections of its teachings. Furthermore, the Church is not its retailing outlet. Its preachers are not its peddlers and those who are Christian are not its consumers. It cannot legitimately be had as a bargain though the marketplace is full of bargainhunters.

For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's Word..." II Cor 2:17

No, let us think instead of the Church as its voice of proclamation, not its sales agent, its practitioner, not its marketing firm. And in that proclamation there is inevitable cultural confrontation. More precisely, there is the confrontation between Christ, in and through the biblical Word, and the rebellion of the human heart. This is confrontation of those whose face is that of a particular culture but whose heart is that of the fallen world. We cannot forget that.

David F. Wells, Above All Earthly Pow'rs: Christ in a Postmodern World, pg. 308-309

May 20, 2006  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Brethren, We Have Met to Worship

Do we ask for 'holy manna' from above when we preach? Michael Ross says that asking for holy manna from above seems foreign to a generation of preachers reared in an age of church growth methodology and pragmatic church programming. {related to this] William moore put George Atkins words to music in 1825:

Brethren, we have met to worship and adore the Lord our God; Will you pray with all your power, while we try to preach the Word? All is vain unless the Spirit of the Holy One comes down; Brethren, pray, and holy manna will be showered all around.

Brethren, see poor sinners round you slumbering on the brink of woe;
Death is coming, hell is moving, can you bear to let them go?
See our fathers and our mothers, and our children sinking down;
Brethren, pray and holy manna will be showered all around.

Sisters, will you join and help us? Moses’ sister aided him;
Will you help the trembling mourners who are struggling hard with sin?
Tell them all about the Savior, tell them that He will be found;
Sisters, pray, and holy manna will be showered all around.

Is there a trembling jailer, seeking grace, and filled with tears?
Is there here a weeping Mary, pouring forth a flood of tears?
Brethren, join your cries to help them; sisters, let your prayers abound;
Pray, Oh pray that holy manna may be scattered all around.

Let us love our God supremely, let us love each other, too;
Let us love and pray for sinners, till our God makes all things new.
Then He’ll call us home to Heaven, at His table we’ll sit down;
Christ will gird Himself and serve us with sweet manna all around.

This is one of America's revival hymns. For "it was authored during the middle years of America's Second Great Awakening ... God will work through a human agency to bring man to salvation in Christ and to renew a slumbering sin-sick Church...God works through His ordinary means of grace with extraordinary power when these normal means of grace are baptized with the unction of the Holy Spirit. Worship, preaching, prayer and fellowship can be empowered by God the Spirit so that sinners are converted, the lethargic are enlivened in soul and the Church is revived.

Iain Murray said,

Continue reading "Brethren, We Have Met to Worship" »

May 13, 2006  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

On the Use of the Arts in Worship

The ultimate end of the church, both in the sense of destiny and of purpose, may be summed up as worship. We have been constituted as the peculiar people of God simply so that we might “show forth the praises of him who has called [us] out of darkness into his marvelous light” (I Peter 2:9). This is, in the subjective sense of what salvation intends to accomplish within those who are saved, the one overarching purpose for the church. And this purpose will find its ultimate tangible expression at the conclusion of history, when a multitude from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation lift up their voices in unity to proclaim, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain!” Hence, the unadulterated expression of perfect Christian unity is necessary for the final realization of the Church’s great goal: without perfect unity, we could not come to a full apprehension of our doxological purpose in the eschaton; and to the extent that we fail to display unity as the Church in the present age, we also fail to “show forth the praises” of God in the manner that the church was designed to do. That this is not an overstatement of the absolute necessity of Christian unity both for the Church’s purpose of showing God’s praises, and for the enjoyment of her destiny in glory, may be seen by two of the statements Christ made during his last supper with the disciples, as recorded in John’s gospel. The first of these implies that, when Christian unity is not observed, the “showing forth” of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus (and so a Christian and a member of God’s Church), becomes impossible: “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another” (John 13:35). The second demonstrates that absolute Christian unity is a vital element for the Church in glory – without it, the goal and mission of the Church must fail, short of her attaining to her ultimate end of seeing and enjoying the glory of Christ where he is with the Father:

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me. And the glory which you gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them, as you have loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom you have given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which you have given me: for you loved me before the foundation of the world (John 17:20-24).

From the outset, then, we may assure ourselves that our striving for authentic worship must be marked by a striving for equally authentic Church unity. Neither goal will be met with perfectly until we arrive in glory; but until that time, a great part of our task as the Church of God must be the pursuit of just such a state of united, God-reflecting worship.

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May 10, 2006  |  Comments (14)   |  TrackBacks (1)  |  Permalink

Some Reflections on Together for the Gospel by Bob Kauflin

Bob Kauflin, who led the Together for the Gospel conference in worship has written some brief but poigniant reflections concerning the event. From his blog at www.worshipmatters.com he writes:

...I thought the Together for the Gospel conference in Louisville, Kentucky was a whirlwind. Much to remember, much to celebrate, much to respond to. Who knows what kind of fruit will emerge from these three days?

One thing is certain. C.J. Mahaney, Lig Duncan, Al Mohler, and Mark Dever have not only instructed us on the unity the Gospel brings. They have demonstrated it. This conference brought men from very diverse backgrounds together to talk, worship God, learn, and grow. And it’s all because of the Gospel.

Music was one area in which the effect of the Gospel was obvious. There’s no question that music in the church is an explosive and divisive issue. In fact, early on in the conference planning, there was talk of having no music, to minimize distractions. Wisdom prevailed, however, and we obeyed God’s command to sing his praises (Ps. 47:6). Mark Dever sent me the original list of songs to choose from. I added a few, and then decided when we would sing them during the conference, with Mark's approval. We combined well known and not-so-well-known hymns with a few Sovereign Grace songs.

At the conference, God enabled us to transcend our stylistic preferences, lay down our understanding of what kind of music God really likes, and simply lift our hearts and voices to Him with jubilant, loud, passionate, Christ-exalting praise. It probably wasn’t exactly like anyone’s experience in their local setting. The music was a little toned down from what I “normally” do, as I usually play with a full band. For some, I’m sure extended clapping after a song was a new occurence, perhaps something they’ve been warned against. But the clapping wasn’t something I encouraged – it happened spontaneously. No one seemed to notice because our hearts and minds were focused on the One to Whom we were giving glory. The only Savior whose sacrificial death has atoned for all our transgressions and saved us from God’s just wrath. The perfect Son of God Who bore our sins so that we might be clothed in His righteousness.

The take away is this: when we concentrate on what really matters in our relationship with God – the unity He has given us with Himself and each other through the Gospel - peripheral issues fade into the background. Maybe that’s how it’s always supposed to be…

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May 01, 2006  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

What's A Worship Leader To Do? by Bob Kauflin

I feel this series of blog articles by Bob Kauflin at worshipmatters.com is just too good to miss. I would very much encourage everyone to read these short articles, perhaps especially pastors, so that they can then share them as points of discussion with those involved in the music ministry of their churches (something I have done at our church). These Cross Centered, Gospel Centered, God exalting articles will point all of our people in the right direction, I believe, and will eliminate a number of false concepts many people have in their minds regarding the nature of true worship. May God richly bless you as you seek to worship Him in spirit and in truth. - Pastor John Samson

What Does a Worship Leader Do? Pt. 1 (by Bob Kauflin)

Before I start this series, I wanted to give you some background. Eight years ago, after I had served as a pastor for twelve years, C.J. Mahaney invited me to assume the new role of “Director of Worship Development” for Sovereign Grace Ministries. One of my assignments was to study and train others in the practicals of biblical worship, particularly as it relates to music.

As I studied Scripture and read books like Engaging with God by David Peterson and Adoration and Action, ed. by D. A. Carson, I quickly realized that the Bible, especially the New Testament, didn’t give much space to my role as a worship leader. None, to be exact. The more I read, the more I felt I was reading myself out of a job.

There’s no question that the role of the worship leader has been exaggerated in recent decades. Some pastors give 1/3 to 1/2 of their meeting to singing, led by a musician who has little to no theological training. Gordon MacDonald comments, “For many young people choosing a church, worship leaders have become a more important factor than preachers. Mediocre preaching may be tolerated, but an inept worship leader can sink things fast.” (Gordon MacDonald, To Find a Worship Leader, Leadership Journal, Spring 2002) In addition, the rise of “worship artists” has intensified the often unhelpful connection between pop music culture and congregational worship.

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February 24, 2006  |  Comments (16)   |  Permalink