Archive | October, 2006

Monday Devotions – Unite My Heart

There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours.All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name.For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God.Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;unite my heart to fear your name. (Ps. 86:8-11) I’m on a retreat right now with my care group. Five couples have pulled away for three days to examine our lives and hearts, care for each other’s souls, pray together, and experience the joy of fellowship.  At one point I read a portion of Psalm 86 to begin our time. This psalm is a precious  …

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Christmas Songs

Kyle wrote in to ask: Could you recommend any other CD’s of “contemporary” congregational songs about the incarnation?  I always struggle planning worship services as Christmas approaches, because the songs with which we are all familiar seem strange in anything other than their traditional musical setting.  Do you know of A) Good band arrangements of well-known Christmas carols, and/or B) New songs that are thoughtful and appropriate for congregational worship? I hope it doesn’t sound self-serving to say that I think you’ll find a number of these songs on Savior, our CD that will be out next month. It will contain twelve new songs that celebrate …

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A New Five Year Old

Ethan, my first grandson, turned five years old last August. Like most five year olds he’s a combination of energy, inquisitiveness, joy, and occasional mischief. Leave him alone for ten minutes and you never know what’s going to be spilled, turned over, broken, or missing when you return. Experience has taught me it’s always a good idea to keep close watch on a five year old. There’s another five year old that we might keep a close watch on. I’m referring to the iPod. This past Monday, the iPod turned 5. That’s right. It’s only been five years since the appearance of the ubiquitous machine that has now sold over 65 million units. …

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At Southern Seminary

I’m at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with my good friend and former senior pastor, C.J. Mahaney. C.J. will be speaking in the chapel services on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and i’ll be leading the singing. I’ll also be teaching two classes on those days. Wednesday night I’ll have the privilege of sharing at Clifton Baptist Church. I think this will be my 6th or 7th trip to Southern, thanks to Professor Chip Stam. I still remember the first time I drove on to the campus wondering to myself, “What in the world am I doing here?” I thought the same thing as we arrived yesterday. In his providence, God has enabled this ex-Catholic guy, …

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Monday Devotions – I Want to Be a Fool

There are two kinds of fools in the Bible. The first is found in Proverbs, and is characterized by a lack of discernment, a distaste for discipline, and a pervasive unteachableness. From God’s perspective that person has no hope and is headed for trouble, difficulties, and eventual judgment. Proverbs admonishes us in the strongest language to do everything we can to avoid being labeled a fool.But there’s another kind of fool that God esteems. I’m speaking of the person that the world labels a “fool” because of their commitment to the Gospel.Yesterday morning, our former senior pastor, C.J. Mahaney spoke from 1 Corinthians 3:18-4:5, which begins:Let …

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How do I Run Auditions

Josh wrote in to ask: As far as an audition goes I was wondering if you had any specific suggestions on the best way to hold an audition. Should it be with the band? A one on one audition? A song that they would like to sing or something you would like them to sing (or play if it’s an instrumentalist)? Just some questions I had about the practical way to do this. The most important thing to remember about auditions is this: Adding a member to the team is always easier than taking them off. God hasn’t required us to use a specific instrument or vocal part in praising him, so we shouldn’t feel any pressure to add a drummer/guitarist/pianist/alto …

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The Savior CD is Almost Here

Every year at Christmas time I eagerly look for the new CD’s that will potentially provide new songs to celebrate this season of hope. I particularly look out for songs that emphasize the incarnation as well as the reason Christ came – to save us from our sins. While there are some wonderful Christmas hymns already written, the mystery of the incarnation is so awe-inspiring that I always think there can be more. Earlier this year a few of the Sovereign Grace song writers got together for a retreat and worked on songs devoted to the theme of God becoming man. I’m happy to let you know that those songs (along with a few others) have now become …

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Why We Write Worship Songs

The feedback from the Valley of Vision CD we produced earlier this year has been very encouraging. But nothing is more meaningful than someone who takes the time to write and let us know how God has used the truth in the songs we write to make Him bigger in their eyes. I wanted to share a portion of a recent e-mail from Jessica that helped me remember why we continue to write songs for the church. This summer was a very difficult season for me, yet spectacular at the same time because God was deeply at work in me. Isn’t He always?!! I started to go through an intense time of panic attacks this summer, where I would literally feel fear and panic …

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Monday Devotions – The Fear of Man, Hopelessness, and the Gospel

Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking at the newest Sovereign Grace church plant, Sovereign Grace Church of Frederick (Maryland), led by Chris Silard. They’re only 6 weeks old but had about 180 adults in the main meeting. It was a joy to see how God has blessed them not only numerically, but in so many other ways as well.I shared from Galatians 2:16 on The Gospel and the Fear of Man. This is the passage where Paul confronts Peter for his hypocritical actions:For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party (Gal. 2:12).Paul points out …

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When the Soloist is Out of Tune

I received this question from a leader who recently had a young girl sing a very off-key solo in his church. He had worked with her to improve her pitch, but it was to no avail. Her parents didn’t recognize how poorly she sang, so he wrote: How do you deal with a scenario like this? Singing is evidently not a gift that this girl possesses, yet her parents encourage her. I wouldn’t want to hurt anyone in this family, but should I continue to allow her to sing in services? If not, how would you recommend dealing with this issue should it arise again? I have no problem being “confrontational,” but I certainly don’t want to dash hopes or discourage …

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Two Days in Pittsburgh

Back in 1991, I had the privilege of leading a Integrity Music Hosanna! project called ‘Chosen Treasure.” It was a great experience, and helped promote the songs of Sovereign Grace songwriters more than anything we had ever done. Since then, Sovereign Grace Ministries has had different interactions with the folks at Integrity. I spent the last two days at the their Seminars4Worship Event in Pittsburgh, PA, held at Northway Christian Community Church. I met some great folks there who were eager to learn more about how they could serve their churches more effectively. On Monday I did a seminar based on Col. 3:12-17 on”How Music Works in Worship.” …

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Worship Leaders & Pastors – The Trap of Comparison

Throughout my life, one of my greatest temptations has been to compare myself to others. I hardly have to work at it. It just comes naturally. I see someone else leading a congregation in worship and one of two things happens. Either I start to criticize his singing, playing, leading, song selection, content, or looks (if I’m really desperate); or I feel sorry for myself because he’s doing something better than I would or could. The only worship that’s taking place in my heart at those moments is directed towards me. Today and tomorrow I have the privilege of speaking at the Seminars4Worship event in Pittsburgh, PA. Paul Baloche, whose …

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Worship Leaders & Pastors – Song Recommendations for Youth Groups

Jay, who is serving as a youth intern, wrote in to ask: I have been searching and searching for songs which have theological depth and substance but it has been quite the challenge in looking through the modern worship scene. I have found Sovereign Grace Music and the songs of Townend and Getty to be a huge help. But what I am asking is, what would you suggest for the next 10 or so songs that we could add to our youth group worship service? I’ll start by making a few general recommendations, then suggest specific songs. It’s worth picking up any CD by Matt Redman, Tim Hughes, Indelible Grace, and the new Matthew Smith CD. Paul Baloche’s latest, …

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Looking for Stories…

Many of you know I’m writing a book for Crossway, to be assigned the catchy name of Worship Matters. I’m in the middle of a chapter tentatively called "The Word in Worship." I’d be interested in hearing from any of you who have stories to tell about how the Word of God has been used fruitfully or not at all in times of corporate worship. What are the benefits you’ve seen of honoring Scripture? How have you seen God’s Word creatively presented? What elements and practices have you seen that vie for its authority? I’m not so much interested in opinions or reflections as I am real life situations that you’ve seen, led, or experienced. I’ll …

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New CD from Matthew Smith – All I Owe

Matthew Smith has been involved with Indelible Grace for a number of years now. I hung out with him two times over the past couple years, and have been encouraged by his commitment to revitalizing hymns that expound both the theology and passion of Scripture. Of course, he’s following in the footsteps of his good friend, Kevin Twit, who has been one of the main proponents for modernizing many of the doctrinally rich hymns of the past. Here is one of Kevin’s articles where he makes a case for setting older texts to newer music. Matthew’s new CD, All I Owe, is now available for pre-order. I was able to get a pre-release download and wanted to …

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