Archive | December, 2008

They Once Were Lost But Now Are Found

In the process of hosting this ESV Bible giveaway, I discovered that the “Contact Me” link on my blog hasn’t been working for a while. Like for a year. So the wonderful IT folks here at Sovereign Grace did some research and found that any emails sent through the “Contact Me” link ended up in a massive spam folder (who sends out all that stuff?). The good news is that we were able to recover 600+ emails. The bad news is that my daughter/assistant Chelsea (who is leaving on Friday for 13 days with a missions team to Uganda) has to individually copy each one to an email and send it to herself. For some reason, forwarding takes much longer. What …

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ESV Study Bible Update and Giveaway

A while back I posted on why I like the ESV Study Bible and my plan to read through it by the end of 2009. Here’s my first update on how it’s going. I just started 1 Samuel. If I continue at my current pace, I should be done before the end of 2009. I’ve only grown in my appreciation for the precise scholarship, helpful layout, and pastoral thought that went into producing this study Bible. The maps are abundant, easy to use, informative, and relevant, as are the various charts. The introductions to each book have helped me grasp the overall flow of the book as well as how the book fits into salvation history. I haven’t spent much time …

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The Gifts I’m Most Thankful For

Just a little over thirty six years ago, I received the greatest gift I’ll ever receive: salvation from God’s wrath and adoption into his family through the gospel. After that, the gifts I’m most grateful for today are in the picture below, taken this past Thanksgiving. Six children, three spouses of my children, seven grandchildren, and one woman, Julie, who has brought me indescribable joy for over thirty two years. I can only say with the psalmist, “How precious is your steadfast love, O God!” (Ps. 36:7) In case you were wondering, our couch isn’t normally sitting out in the middle of a field. But it does make for a cool picture. And …

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Helping People Glory in Christ at Christmas

This past Sunday I had the privilege of leading the singing at my home church. At Christmas time there’s sometimes a tension between choosing to sing songs that are “comfortably Christmasy” or songs that help people glory in the miracle of God becoming man. So here’s what we went with: Hark! the Herald Angels Sing Glory be to God free mp3 download (from the Savior CD) Emmanuel, Emmanuel (from the Savior CD) What Child is This? Before the Throne of God Above We started with Hark! the Herald Angels sing because it’s one of the most theologically rich Christmas carols we sing. After that, I shared that there are many things to love …

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“Psalms” CD nominated!

We just learned that Worship Leader magazine has included our Psalms CD as one of six choices for the “Best Worship Compilation CD” for 2008. Boy, were we surprised. There in the midst of Passion, CeCe Winans, and WOW Gospel, is Sovereign Grace Ministries. There are six CDs in the category, and I’d like to think you might vote for Psalms.  Please check the other great CDs listed; but if you think Psalms merits the title, your vote could mean more people becoming aware of our music.  Voting ends on December 31! In any case, we’re grateful for the opportunity to produce music that serves the church and magnifies the greatness of our Savior; …

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John Piper Speaking at WorshipGod09

Even though 2008 isn’t finished yet, I’m in the midst of planning for our next worship conference, WorshipGod09: From Generation to Generation, to be held Aug. 5-8, 2009, in Gaithersburg, MD. The main messages will address the importance of passing on biblical values of corporate worship from one generation to the next. I was thrilled when John Piper of Desiring God Ministries agreed to come. He’ll be speaking Wednesday night and Thursday morning. I was also able to confirm my good friend, Jeff Purswell, as a main speaker. Jeff has served us well in the past by providing messages that are biblically rich, theologically insightful, and spiritually …

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When Things Don’t Go As Planned

What do you do when in the middle of leading worship you have a train wreck? We had the opportunity to find out at the WorshipGod conference last August. Joseph Stigora, from Covenant Fellowship in Philadelphia, was doing a great job leading with his team. But as he started into a musical rendition of Psalm 96, things took a turn for the worse. The band was suddenly playing in two keys. At the same time. You can watch it for yourself here. While God commends the development of skill (Prov. 22:29), and laziness is no excuse for lack of preparation, there are times that even deliberate practice doesn’t keep us from messing up. But …

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What a Team Likes in a Stage Manager

I’ve mentioned the blog of our tech director, Dave Wilcox, before. It’s called “Undistract,” which I think is a great name for a blog devoted to the media and technical aspects of a church. Recently Dave shared some thoughts on how a stage manager can best serve a band during rehearsal. The relationship between bands and sound team members can be tense at times, due to misunderstandings, poor communication, and sinful hearts. That’s why I so appreciate Dave highlighting how one new stage manager, Kami, recently did a great job serving the musicians. If you’re in small church, don’t be thrown off by the term “stage manager.” Dave defines …

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Is Talent Overrated?

I just finished reading Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, by Geoff Colvin. Fascinating book. Giftedness is a topic that I’ve thought about a lot. Are we selling ourselves short by assuming that we’ll never be as good a keyboardist, vocalist, guitarist, drummer, or whatever, as the people we esteem? Colvin begins the book by examining the lives of several famous “greats,” including Tiger Woods, Mozart, Jack Welch, and Jerry Rice. He says that most people think their greatness arose either from a) hard work; or b) talent. Colvin says neither, and uses scientific and anecdotal evidence to support …

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Sibelius Upgrade Discount

In a previous post I extolled the virtues of the Sibelius notation software. Some of you wrote that you were thinking about upgrading. Just wanted you to know that through Dec. 12, you can upgrade to Sibelius 5 for $85 if you own a regular copy, or $65 if you own a student or educational copy. Check it out here. …

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New Format, Same Blog

I’m trying out a new format for Worship Matters that I’ll be working on for the next few days. Of course, if you get Worship Matters by email or RSS, you won’t even notice. If you have any thoughts in the mean time for things I could add or change, please let me know. Thanks.

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Ten Reasons to Share Musical Opinions Humbly

I’ve been musing recently about how we express our musical opinions. Why do we feel so strongly about songs, bands, and styles? And why do we draw conclusions so quickly? Nope. Don’t like it. That stinks. I can’t stand that kind of music. You like that stuff? Is there anything wrong with raving about the music/artists we love and being swift to trash those we despise? If we’re Christians, yes. Let me suggest ten reasons why musical forbearance might be good for our souls. 1. Being a self-appointed music critic is often just a sign of pride. Using outrageous or exaggerated words to put down certain songs, styles, or artists can be a symptom …

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Together for the Gospel CD Now Available

Last April I had the joy of leading over 5000 individuals, mostly men, in times of corporate worship at the Together for the Gospel conference in Louisville, KY. Dave Mackenzie, who works for Sovereign Grace, set up mics to record the event, and I’m happy to let you know you can now buy the CD at the Sovereign Grace store. I’ll warn you. If you’re looking for incredible drum tracks, awesome guitar sounds, and a thumping bass,  you’ll have to look elsewhere. Together for the Gospel Live is just me on the piano and 5000 voices belting out 16 hymns, old and new, that magnify the gospel and glory of Christ. That’s it. Turns out that’s enough. …

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Christianity Today Reviews Psalms CD

Yesterday I learned that Andree Farias of Christianity Today Online reviewed our latest CD, Psalms. It’s the second Sovereign Grace CD he’s reviewed. Last month he also reviewed Looked Upon, a project that my sons Devon and Jordan were involved in. While I don’t always agree with everything in the CT reviews, I appreciate that they give specific reasons and examples for what they like and dislike about a project. Along with providing exposure, reviews also tell us something about what we’re doing right and what we can do better. Andree summarized the CD in these words: Sounds like … melodic corporate worship that recalls Matt Redman, Charlie …

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Memorizing Great Hymns

Last month my church started memorizing great hymns of the faith. We’ll be memorizing a hymn a month for ten months. Ken Boer, who oversees music at Covenant Life, explains on the church website why we’re doing this: Memorizing hymns is one of the ways we can obey Scripture’s command to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Col. 3:16). We’re doing this project because we want to benefit not only from the songs written in our lifetime, but also from hymns that have served the people of God …

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