Archive | —Worship and Christ

Will the Sunday After Easter be a Letdown?

Many pastors, music leaders, and production personnel are breathing a deep sigh of relief after this past weekend. After all the planning, strategizing, prayer, preparation, and practice, the Easter weekend service(s) finally happened. Everything (for the most part) came together and people were well served. The music was moving, the preaching powerful, and the effect exhilarating. And throughout the world, thousands of people were baptized and saved for the glory of God. But you may be starting to wonder what you’re going to do next Sunday. Maybe you’re even asking yourself, “How do I keep this coming Sunday from being a major letdown?” …

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Jesus and the Songs We Sing, Pt. 2

Yesterday, I shared bullet points from the first part of a message I recently gave at the Doxology and Theology Conference and the Christian Musicians Summit. I was seeking to highlight the centrality of Jesus in congregational singing. My first point was that Jesus is the leader of our songs. Here’s points 2 and 3. 2. Jesus is the content of our songs. Col. 3:16 says we are 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) That word of Christ is the word about Christ – who he is and …

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Jesus and the Songs We Sing, Pt. 1

The past few weeks I had the privilege of speaking at the Doxology and Theology conference in Frisco, TX, and the Christian Musicians Summit in Seattle, WA. One of the breakouts I did at D&T was called The Worship Leader and Christ. I shaved about 40 minutes off that message, renamed it “Jesus and Our Songs,” and gave it again at CMS. Here’s a summary of what I shared. Christians worship a triune God – Father, Son, and Spirit. All three person are equally God and equally worthy of worship. That’s one of the many things that distinguish us from Buddhists, Muslims, and Mormons. But the three persons of the Trinity possess unique roles …

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From the Archives: Can Singing About the Gospel Become Rote?

One of the drums I will never tire of beating is this: All biblical worship is rooted in and made possible by the cross of Christ. In my experience, the contemporary church (and any church, for that matter) is always in danger of neglecting the gospel in its songs. I said it this way in my book, Worship Matters: The gospel is not merely one of many possible themes we can touch on as we come to worship God. It is the central and foundational theme. All our worship originates and is brought into focus at the cross of Jesus Christ. Glorying in Jesus Christ means glorying in his cross. That doesn’t mean looking at some icon or two pieces …

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Glorious Christ – New Song from a New Album

On April 10 we’ll be releasing our next album, From Age to Age, a collection of 14 new hymns for the church. We call them “hymns” because either they were based on or inspired by hymns of the past, or because the lyrics adhere to a metrical pattern in the verses. The songs also contain a theological richness that characterize most hymns. One song I wrote for the album is called Glorious Christ. I unashamedly got the idea for the song from Chris Tomlin’s How Great is Our God, which seems to be sung throughout the world. I love how Chris’ song focuses on God’s character and works then draws out the appropriate response of magnifying the Lord …

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Show Us Christ – Video from The Gathering

When we were putting together the songs for The Gathering: Live from WorshipGod11, we ended up having not one, but two songs that served as a “prayer for illumination.” One is Your Words of Life, written by Pat & Joel Sczebel. The other is Show us Christ, which I co-wrote with Doug Plank. Show Us Christ reminds us that the purpose of preaching God’s Word is not simply to give insights for living, impress people with our knowledge of Greek, or to tell people they need to try harder. The primary goal is to display the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6). The written and preached Word is meant to point us to the riches of …

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The Gathering is Coming to Southern California Jan. 28

This past August we recorded The Gathering: Live from WorshipGod11. It’s a collection of 15 songs that progressively tell the story of the gospel and our response to it. From my perspective, it’s one of the best albums we’ve done to date, both in terms of song content and creative musicianship. I’m happy to announce that we’ll be doing it all over again (at least singing the songs) in Orange County, CA on Saturday, January 28. A few of my good friends from California (Ryan and Jonathan Baird, and Eric Turbedsky, pastor of Sovereign Grace Church Orange County) emailed me about putting together an event that combined teaching in the afternoon …

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Song for Advent: Shine Into our Night

Each year as Christmas approaches we have the opportunity to remember in a more focused and thoughtful way why Jesus had to come to earth. It wasn’t plan B, it wasn’t optional, and it certainly wasn’t something we asked for. Paul tells us, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (Gal. 4:4-5) The phrase “under the law” means we were justly condemned as transgressors and rebels before God, held captive by our sin, and in need of His mercy and forgiveness (Rom. 3:19-20). Of course, God did better than …

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Desiring God Interview

Last month I had the privilege to lead a few songs at John Piper’s Gravity and Gladness seminar, and participate in a Q&A with Dr. Piper. It was somewhat of a surreal experience sitting next to John answering questions about worship. I first heard the audio of John preaching this series around 2000. As I listened to him again I realized how much his message of both knowing and treasuring the supremacy of God’s glory in Christ has affected my thinking. So grateful for the ways God has used John to magnify the glory of Jesus Christ. After the seminar was over, Jonathan Parnell, content strategist for Desiring God, asked me a few questions …

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The Gathering: Live from WorshipGod11 is Here

In his outstanding book, Christ-Centered Worship: Letting the Gospel Shape Our Practice, Bryan Chapell writes, “Liturgy tells a story. We tell the gospel by the way we worship.” That thought influenced the song choices and order for our latest album, The Gathering: Live from WorshipGod11, 15 songs that tell the story of the gospel and our appropriate response to it. In Scripture and history, God’s glory and grace have informed and shaped the way we relate to him. We’re awed by his greatness but attracted by his mercy. We’re undone by his holiness but drawn by his forgiveness. It’s a pattern that’s reflected in Isaiah’s encounter with God …

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Leading in Light of Christ’s Perfection

Since August 2010, Ken Boer (music director for Covenant Life) and I have had three men working for me at Sovereign Grace: Nathan Edwards (Florida), Matt Richley (Merthyr Tydfil, UK) and Mauricio Velarde (Gaithersburg). It’s been a joy to have them around, growing and learning with them how to serve people more effectively in magnifying Jesus Christ using the Word and music. Each Wednesday morning we meet for about 90 minutes to study a book. We generally take turns sharing what specific sentences or paragraphs impacted us or raised questions for us. Not too long ago we finished The Cross And Christian Ministry by D.A. Carson. It’s a book …

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Risen Has Arrived

I’m happy to announce that our latest album, Risen, came out yesterday — a whole album of songs that celebrate the reality and meaning of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. When we first were planning Risen my hope was to get it out in time for Easter. God helping us, we did. And we managed to squeeze in a few extras. More Sheet Music We’ve included lead sheets and guitar charts as in the past, but this time both in the recorded key and in suggested congregational keys, when needed. Risen also includes the piano scores for all the songs. More Sovereign Grace Musicians Most of our previous major releases have …

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Should We Sing Songs About God’s Judgments?

Some people had questions about my recent review of Doug O’Donnell’s book, God’s Lyrics, which I want to attempt to address in this post. The basic question has to do with the place of singing about God’s judgments. O’Donnell makes the point that many of the songs in the Old Testament rejoice over God’s just judgments (Ex. 15:1-18; 1Sam. 2:10; 2Sam. 22:44-51, etc.) A related theme has to do with God humbling the proud. Both themes are lacking in the song diet of many churches, yet they’re unquestionably present not only in OT songs, but in the New Testament as well (Lk. 1:51-55; Rev. 18:20; 19:1-5). Are You Kidding Me? We can struggle …

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The Functional Limits of Creativity: How Innovative Can We Be with the Gospel?

This past weekend I had the privilege of presenting a workshop at Crowder’s Fantastical Church Music Conference in Waco, TX. Through a series of email discussions, David and I came up with the title, “The Functional Limits of Creativity: How Innovative Can We Be with the Gospel?” When Crowder first contacted me about participating in the conference I wanted to make sure he knew where I was coming from in the area of creativity. I love creativity, but think God has placed limits on its use in congregational meetings. He told me that’s why he wanted me to come to the conference. Well, that made my day. I divided my workshop message into …

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The Cross and Christian Ministry

A few years ago, at the recommendation of C.J. Mahaney, I read The Cross and Christian Ministry by D.A. Carson. Carson exposits select passages from 1 Corinthians, explaining how the cross affects our understanding of preaching, the Holy Spirit, factionalism, Christian leadership, and being a world Christian. I’d highly recommend it for any Christian leader who believes “Christ crucified” defines not only our message but our methods of ministry. Here are a few quotes that impacted me: Replacing The Primary with the Secondary “It is at least possible that we are the generation of believers who will destroy much of historic Christianity from …

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