Archive | Devotions

Why I’m Reading the Bible in Ten Different Places

At the end of 2009  I finished reading through the ESV Study Bible and posted a few thoughts on what I learned. During the first half of 2010, I read through it again (just the Scripture, not the notes), but wanted to try something different for the last half of 2010. I had been looking at Prof. Grant Horner’s Bible reading plan and decided to try it. You can read Grant’s  thoughts on it here. The plan involves reading one chapter from ten different places in the Bible each time you read. Once you reach the end of a section you start over. I was drawn to the plan because I wanted to gain a better perspective on how the Bible comments on …

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Spontaneous Song for Those Facing Impossible Situations

During the Christmas season, many people find themselves in the midst of impossibly difficult circumstances. They find out the hard way that pain and sorrow are no respecters of holidays. For these individuals, Christmas becomes the most terrible time of the year. Recently I ran across an insightful and hopeful post by Matt Redmond called “Christmas is for Those Who Hate it Most.” He writes, “We have it sunk deep into our collective cultural consciousness that Christmas is for the happy people. You know, those with idyllic family situations enjoyed around stocking-strewn hearth dreams.” Matt then goes on to remind us that Jesus came for those …

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What We Do in Secret

I’m in the sixth day of using Prof. Grant Horner’s Bible reading plan and thoroughly enjoying it. It involves reading from 10 different sections of the Bible each day, using bookmarks to keep your place. Each time I read I come away with a greater appreciation for God’s sovereignty over history and am already starting to see the benefits of Scripture commenting on Scripture. This morning one of my readings was Matthew 6. Three times these words caught my attention: And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Mt. 6:4, 5, 18) Jesus used that phrase when he was speaking about giving, praying, and fasting. It made me think more …

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Reflections on Turning 55

55. A speed limit. Five years past half a century. LV. Double nickels. And today, my age. I finally qualify for the 10% senior discount at Jiffy Lube. I remember when 55 seemed really old. Right now it feels like the prime of life.  What does a 55 year old worship leader think about? Here’s a sample… 1. The years I have left for fruitful ministry are dwindling. Used to be I never thought much about death. Now I think about it at least weekly. Life is short, and it keeps getting shorter. I estimate I have between 10-20 more years of fruitful ministry, Lord willing. Then again, I may not live to see 2011. A lot to accomplish before …

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Treasuring Christ Above All Things

My daughter, Brittany, sent me this video today. It’s by the folks at Desiring God, who excel at using technology in a creative way to draw attention to what’s being said. The content is part of a John Piper sermon set to techno music. Piper addresses the question, “How do we treasure Christ above all things?” which is at the heart of God-honoring worship. This is what we’re seeking to help people do every time we have the privilege of leading corporate worship. …

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When God Comes to Church

As 2008 turned over to 2009 I was in the midst of reading When God Comes to Church by Ray Ortlund, Jr. I didn’t want the year to get too far before I shared some great quotes from this book that came out in 2000. The first half of the book describes what God does to bring revival (comes down, reinvigorates, heals, pours out his Spirit, raises up, and restores).The second half describes what we can do to prepare the way (return, seek, humble ourselves). Each chapter is an expositional treatment of a specific Old Testament passage. Ortlund begins with, “Revival is a season in the life of the church when God causes the normal ministry of …

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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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Listening to Music for God’s Glory

Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of speaking to the parents and youth of my home church on the topic of listening to music for the glory of God. The parent/youth ministry is currently discussing the book, Wordliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World. My message was something of an adaptation of a chapter I wrote for the book, called “God, My Heart, and Music.” I started out by saying God gave us music as a gift to direct our attention to him. In the Bible, music is connected with worship, weddings, funerals, work, play, and war. The basic elements of rhythm, melody, and harmony aren’t inherently evil or sinful. Non-Christians can …

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More Quotes from John Flavel on the Excellency of Christ

Yesterday I posted some quotes I found in John Flavel’s book The Fountain of Life, written in 1671.  I regularly try to read old books because it introduces me to the perspective of godly saints who aren’t distracted or influenced by the technology, glitter, and philosophies of our current age.  Of course, they had their own issues to deal with and their own blind spots. But reading them in a different era helps me see more clearly what their blind spots were, as well as expose a few of my own. In any case, here are some more quotes that I found enlightening and helpful. I’ve added some personal thoughts at the end of each one. Security …

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The Excellency of Christ: Quotes from John Flavel

Got back yesterday from the Straight Up conference at Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago, IL. I was there with CJ Mahaney, who spoke on “A Divine Perspective” from 1 Cor. 1:1-9. I’ve probably heard that message 5-6 times and never tire of being challenged to notice more of what God is doing in those around me, as Paul did with the Corinthian church. I had the privilege of leading worship and teaching a seminar on The Task of the Worship Leader. It was great meeting some folks who read this blog, and I had the opportunity to reconnect with my friends Andi Rozier, Matt Stowell, and Matthew Westerholm, who came to WorshipGod06 and WorshipGod08. Very …

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What I Never Want to Do in 2008

This morning, as I often do, I read two of the prayers from The Valley of Vision, edited by Arthur Bennett. I’ve found these prayers help focus my thoughts on the most important issues in life: the greatness of my sin, the sovereignty of God, the saving work of Christ, the needs of the world, and my eternal destination. The first prayer this morning was “The ‘Nevers’ of the Gospel.” The commitments the author expressed offered a wise perspective as we enter a new year. For my own understanding, I’ve divided the prayer into three sections. I call the first, “Using Truth Rightly.” It has to do with never seeking to know God’s Word in a way that …

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What – Me Read?

I just received this e-mail from Jon, a twenty five year old worship leader who will soon be taking on a new position at another church. One facet of your site that is always of interest is your list of books you are currently reading. In addition to your devotional Scripture reading, how much time in a week do you set aside for reading? Do you schedule reading time into your day? As I contemplate the different ministry responsibilities that I will have, my concern is that the time to read will be slim. So, any helpful suggestions from your own experience are greatly appreciated. A while back I posted on the topic of musicians and reading books. …

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Worship Leaders – How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways

This morning the Washington Post business section ran a column called, “To Me, With Love: Retailers Embrace Valentine’s Day as an Excuse for Singles to Celebrate Themselves.” Among other interesting facts, the article reports that Piperlime, an online shoe store owned by Gap, has a “Be your own Valentine” category. Sales are strong for Valentine’s Day gifts you can give to the person you love the most – yourself. You may not have the nerve to give a Valentine’s gift to yourself, but you’re probably no stranger to self-love. There is an appropriate way to humbly acknowledge that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14). However that …

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Worshipping God as a Worship Leader & Pastor at 52

The number 52 took on new meaning for me a few days ago. I was aware there are 52 cards in a deck and 52 weeks in a year. As of this past Sunday, there are 52 years in my life. I’m getting old. Growing older has its drawbacks. We’ve seen them first hand as our parents have confronted things like Alzheimer’s, injuries, and debilitating diseases. But I’m certain that God intends us to think of getting older in a positive way. Or else why would he say things like this: “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life” (Prov. 16:31). “The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray …

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Looking Forward to Heaven

I trust your Christmas season was peaceful and Christ-exalting and that you’re starting the new year filled with fresh faith to embrace God’s promises in Christ. I’ve been trying to finish my book, which was due Jan. 1. Didn’t quite make it. Lord willing, the book, Worship Matters: Priorities in the Pursuit of God,  will be out in August, published by Crossway. At the start of a new year our thoughts inevitably turn to goals we’d like to achieve in the next 12 months. Here’s an unedited section of my book that has to do with goals. It’s from the last chapter, "The Goal of Worship," where I describe ways the worship of heaven …

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