Archive | —Worship and the Spirit

Manufacturing, Marketing, and Minimizing God’s Presence, Pt. 3

The past few days I’ve been posting on issues related to God’s “active” presence, especially in corporate gatherings. A couple people suggested that “active” isn’t the best word to use. When we say God is “present” we are implying He is active, whether that’s to sustain, illuminate, bless, convict, or something else. What I call God’s “active” presence is often the evidence of his “promised” presence. I agree. But most Christians will acknowledge times in corporate gatherings when we are physically or emotionally affected and God seems “present” in an unusual way. This is in line with the many examples in Scripture when one or more …

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Manufacturing, Marketing, and Minimizing God’s Presence, Pt. 2

Yesterday, I posted thoughts on attempts to manufacture and market the presence of God, both wrong responses to God’s experienced presence. One person commented that what I wrote seemed to “create hesitancy about pursing His presence” and encouraged me to “stir people’s faith to encounter God and His presence.’” Today, I want to do just that by addressing a third way we can approach thinking about God’s presence wrongly. 3. We don’t want to minimize God’s active presence. God has always intended to dwell with his people. We see this with Adam and Eve in the garden, in God’s command to the Israelites to build a tabernacle so that he might …

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Manufacturing, Marketing, and Minimizing God’s Presence, Pt. 1

A few weeks ago a friend and I were glancing through a Christian magazine and noticed how often people referred to “God’s presence.” It’s a hot topic these days. In his kindness and mercy, God often reveals his active presence to us. By “active” presence I mean God’s presence as distinct from his omnipresence and his promised presence, both of which we accept by faith. Whether we “feel” it or not, God is present when his Word is faithfully preached, when his people meet in Jesus’ name, when we celebrate the Lord’s supper, when we sing, and we were serve in his power (1 Tim. 6:13; 1 Cor. 5:4; Mt. 18:20; 1 Cor. 11:27-32; Acts 10:33; Eph. 5:18-19; …

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Holy Spirit, Breath of God – Getty/Townend Hymn

During the charismatic outpouring of the 1970s many churches became more aware of the Holy Spirit than they had ever been. That awareness then, and in subsequent years, resulted in songs to and about the Holy Spirit which weren’t always as theologically precise as one would hope. Given the number of times we repeated some of those songs, it seemed as though the Holy Spirit was either hard of hearing or resistant to our requests to have him move among us, fill us, empower us, or be with us. That’s why I’m so grateful for writers like Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, writers of In Christ Alone, The Power of the Cross, and many more modern hymns …

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Resources for Your Worship Team from WorshipGod11: Leading, Songwriting, Tech

Last August at WorshipGod11 we offered 40 seminars for pastors, musicians, leaders, vocalists, instrumentalists, and tech teams. Today and tomorrow I’m posting the descriptions of a few that might serve you and your team in the coming year. Right clicking on the title will download the MP3, and of course, right clicking on the outline will get you the…outline. Leading Putting Songs Together – Bob Kauflin (outline) Why do you choose the songs you do? What factors go into deciding whether one song is better to use than another? What’s the difference between lyrical flow and musical flow? How can we use songs to effectively care for people’s …

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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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Song From NEXT2010 for Those Battling the Effects of Sin

Yesterday I posted a song I sang at the NEXT conference for those with disabilities. A week or so before the conference began, I had a growing sense that there would be people at the conference who would be encouraged by attending, but would be battling the effects of sexual sin – either condemnation for sin in the past, or struggles with sin in the present. A preoccupation with either could rob them from enjoying the fruit from the conference. As the conference went on, that sense grew stronger. As I prayed for those individuals, I again thought that the Lord might want to encourage them through a song. I could have simply shared my impression …

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Song for Those with Disabilities

The 16th chapter of my book, Worship Matters, is called “To Cherish God’s Presence.” I talk about how one of the effects of biblical corporate worship is a greater pursuit of God’s active presence. I wrote: For many years I’ve sung spontaneous songs during corporate worship that I believe are a form of prophecy. They’re similar to a spoken prophetic impression from the Lord, only they’re sung, they rhyme, and are often sung “from God to us.” I’ve never believed for a moment that the words I sing are “word for word” from the Lord. That’s called Scripture. But these songs seem to consistently communicate in verse the Lord’s …

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When Things Don’t Go As Planned, Take 2

What do you do when you start leading a song in two different keys? At our WorshipGod08 conference, we had the opportunity to find out as Joseph Stigora started “Psalm 96″ in one key and the rest of the band from Covenant Fellowship came in a step higher. I posted on this previously, but here’s the video again: I got an email recently from a Sovereign Grace worship leader who shared how that incident at the conference encouraged him on a recent Sunday. This is what he wrote: We are a church of about 150 or so, so when you mess up it feels really uncomfortable because everyone is so close. It had been a while since something happened. Sunday …

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Planning and the Holy Spirit

Here’s another video clip from WorshipGod09, where Jeff Purswell is interviewing CJ Mahaney and me about some of the things we’ve learned over three decades of leading. In this section we talk about the importance of planning as well as listening for  the Spirit’s leading during the meeting. In my experience, people tend to value one or the other. Either we trust completely in our plan and wouldn’t think of veering from it, or we minimize preparation and think God is only active when something spontaneous happens. When it comes to leading corporate worship, both planning AND spontaneity are important values. If you’re interested in …

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Messages and Books on the Holy Spirit

I had a good conversation through Skype today with Tim Smith, worship pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle. I met Tim a couple years ago, and I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to interact with him on various topics related to worship and the church. Today one of the areas we touched on was the difference between being “charismatics with a seatbelt” and “philosophical charismatics.” The first phrase describes an attempt to exercise the more spontaneous gifts of the Spirit in a responsible way that exalts Christ and builds up the church. The second phrase describes those whose public meetings aren’t much different from those who deny that …

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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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Encouraging Spontaneity in Your Church

While at the Christian Musician Summit this past weekend I taught a workshop on Encouraging Spontaneity in Your Church. We had about 200 folks crammed into a room that held about 150, so it was, shall we say, a cozy setting. At one point, I led the group in singing spontaneous responses to different sections of Psalm 100, similar to what we did at the WorshipGod conference.  It’s a form of meditating on God’s Word through song. It was moving to hear how God spoke to different individuals through that exercise. Here’s a general outline of what I shared in the seminar. You can download my complete notes here. Cautions About Spontaneity 1. …

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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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Worship Experiences and the Presence of God

Last November I was in Seattle at the Acts 29 Resurgence conference and had the opportunity to spend some time with the Mars Hill Worship Pastor, Tim Smith. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Tim and talking to him about topics including the Psalms, Jonathan Edwards, physical expressiveness in worship, and how to organize music teams in the church. I found Tim to be thoughtful, humble, and committed to searching the Scriptures to better understand what it means to worship God. While I was there, Tim took the opportunity to interview me on video for about two hours. Acts 29 posted a video on their site, but it’s over an hour long. I plan to …

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