The Power of Song (#1)

Time after time, day after day, we experience music’s power in our lives.  Sunday after Sunday, music has that same type of power.  But how often do we claim it’s power (and the source of that power)?  How often have we become desensitized to music’s power?

I love this statement from The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada​

We believe that the holy act of singing together:
heals brokenness…
shapes faith…
transforms lives…
renews peace.

Any of you have an instance where you’ve experienced, first-hand, the power of song like this statement describes?  Would love for you to leave a comment and tell that story here!

We Are A Moment…We Are A Vapor…

As I prepared to lead worship this morning, I found myself thinking about my dear friend, Brent who is now with our heavenly father.  For almost 9 years, I had close interaction with B every Sunday morning (and Sunday night as we co-led Small Groups)…for many of those Sundays, he was my slide man…needless to say, we were very, very close.  The hymn that has him on my mind is one he embodied, and more than that, he embodied the truth it is fashioned out of.

This morning, we planned to sing Lynn DeShazo’s & Gary Sadler’s wonderful modern hymn Be Unto Your Name.  If indeed worship on earth is preparation for our eternal worship around the throne, than these words should help us anticipate what is to come and what we’re supposed to be living for…and I believe worship very much helps us accomplish bringing about “life on earth as it is in heaven…”

The writers craft their lyric based on these words from James 4
13Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

12191019_10208177895031693_2796738148264634593_nIf we trust in God, then we should have no problem following these meaningful verses with the very powerful chorus that follows.  May these lyrics continually transform us…and B?

It makes me long for heaven a lot more with each passing day.

Verse 1: We are a moment, You are forever
Lord of the Ages, God before time
We are a vapor, You are eternal
Love everlasting, reigning on high

Verse 2: We are the broken, You are the healer
Jesus, Redeemer, mighty to save
You are the love song we’ll sing forever
Bowing before You, blessing Your name

Chorus: Holy, holy, Lord God Almighty
Worthy is the Lamb Who was slain
Highest praises, honor and glory
Be unto Your name, be unto Your name

A New Day Has Dawned: An Update from the Bulls’ Pen

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Well, a lot has happened since I last posted here in the blogosphere.

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Riverside Church of Christ Coppell, TX

As of July 12, we are back in Texas where I’ve joined the wonderful team at the Riverside Church as their Worship/Music Minister.  After three years with some very special people in Atlanta, God has called us back to the DFW Metroplex where I am serving once again in a full-time ministry role in Coppell…we live in Lewisville and could not be more excited about the road ahead…God’s preferred future for us!

While we miss my students and our friends from Atlanta (and have stayed in touch with our closest friends there on a regular basis), God has showered us with wonderful new friends and a wonderful church family and the ability to be so wonderfully close to long-time friends and our families (well, some of our family) here in Texas.  One of those unexpected blessings is in my friend, and new preacher of the Riverside Church, Corey Trevathan being here along with his wonderful family.  (You can read his blog here.)

A week ago last night, October 29, the world lost one of its best men…and I lost a role model, mentor, friend, and colleague from my years at North Davis in Arlington (and was blessed to remain close to until his untimely passing).  I will somehow find a way to memorialize him at a later date (here’s a great link to a beautifully penned tribute from my friend (and a former member of the junior high small group we led back in the day, Kevin Bain)).  Brent, you’ll be sorely missed…you already are.  You made me a better man, you made the world a better place…with every word and action you ever offered, you put in a good word for Jesus…

In our current sermon series at Riverside, Corey is challenging us to call God by name…so, I’ve added his name in the place of his title in this text as it adds a particular meaning for me in this place and time…I’m leaning into this passage from the book of Lamentations right now as we grieve…
Lamentations 3:19-26 (ESV)
19 Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
20 My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of Yahweh never ceases;[b]
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “Yahweh is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
25 The Yahweh is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of Yahweh.

SDG

Back to the Heart of Worship…

Worship music is ever-in-transition.  Always has been, always will be.
We often talk of those “old” hymns that have been incredibly formative in our religious upbringing or discipleship journeys.  For every church-going believer (and even some not-yet-believers), there is probably some hymn which has been meaningful at some point in their lives.  We punctuate our lives with them…weddings, funerals, with lots of “routine” Sundays in between.

But, if you’re like me, there was a point when you were “Exposed” (makes it sound like some contagious illness or airborne disease, doesn’t it?) to something new…something fresh, something different than the “hymns” you sang in church or heard in church in days gone by.

downloadAs I listened to the new Passion record a few weeks ago, I was taken aback when, after I had put it on shuffle for a while, a simple chorus of Matt Redman’s older tune “Heart of Worship” came on in the midst of a sea of new (some of it really nice) worship music.
“I’m coming back to the heart of worship…
Where it’s all about you, all about you, Jesus.
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it.
                                                When it’s all about you, all about you, Jesus.”

Even though I’ve known it for years and went through a phase at ACU where I was leading it quite often in our Wednesday night service at So. Hills, it’s simplicity struck me as so powerful…and even though it was not the song I most poignantly remember as a “game changer” in my view of  what worship music looked, sounded and “felt” like, it sent me back to a litany of times and places where some “new songs” really took me to a deeper level.  I’ll probably be flooded with a list of memories and songs after I hit publish…and I may come back to that at a later date…

The simplicity of the sound, the form, the lyric…all just reminded me of what’s so important about what we communicate in the songs we sing in worship.  I think what was at the core of an entire movement of new worship music, and to some degree, still remains at the core, was a desire of worship writers to go back to what was of “first importance,” to borrow Paul’s words.  As a dear friend & brother of mine often says we must “keep the main thing, the main thing,” in the realm of what worship is most about.  And for many of these writers?  That’s exactly what they were and are doing.  Going back to what is primary, foundational… and that is the fact that worship isn’t about us.  And I don’t know about you, but I constantly need to be reminded, especially in worship, that it’s not about me.  May we all go back to the heart of worship.

Lead, Kindly Light

leadkindlylightOne of my prayer tools (and it is a serendipitous blessing of helping my poor piano-keyboard skills at the same time) is sitting down and leafing through old hymns and hymnals at the piano.  It reminds me of great music and great hymn-texts of the past and present.  I recently sat down to play-pray and came across a relatively forgotten hymn.  It’s not one I ever remember being sung and I know that I have never led it in church…sure, it’s words are antiquated and challenging; it’s one that’s never sung anymore and probably would be considered “difficult” for churches to sing these days.  But it remains a powerful prayer…a prayer we all need.