Christianity 201

October 15, 2017

Sunday Worship

A few years ago we were reading Psalm 106. You know that one. The one where the Israelites are reminded of all the times they screwed up as a nation. The times they forgot their God. Then it suddenly occurs to me. This is a PSALM. They SANG THIS. This was one of their WORSHIP SONGS. As in, “Take your hymnbook and turn to number 106.” How do you SING stuff that is so self deprecating? Definitely a minor key.

6 We have sinned, even as our fathers did;
we have done wrong and acted wickedly.

7 When our fathers were in Egypt,
they gave no thought to your miracles;
they did not remember your many kindnesses,
and they rebelled by the sea, the Red Sea.

13 But they soon forgot what he had done
and did not wait for his counsel.

14 In the desert they gave in to their craving;
in the wasteland they put God to the test.

15 So he gave them what they asked for,
but sent a wasting disease upon them.

16 In the camp they grew envious of Moses
and of Aaron, who was consecrated to the LORD.

17 The earth opened up and swallowed Dathan;
it buried the company of Abiram.

18 Fire blazed among their followers;
a flame consumed the wicked.

19 At Horeb they made a calf
and worshiped an idol cast from metal.

20 They exchanged their Glory
for an image of a bull, which eats grass.

21 They forgot the God who saved them,
who had done great things in Egypt,

22 miracles in the land of Ham
and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.

23 So he said he would destroy them—
had not Moses, his chosen one,
stood in the breach before him
to keep his wrath from destroying them.

24 Then they despised the pleasant land;
they did not believe his promise.

25 They grumbled in their tents
and did not obey the LORD.

26 So he swore to them with uplifted hand
that he would make them fall in the desert,

27 make their descendants fall among the nations
and scatter them throughout the lands.

28 They yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor
and ate sacrifices offered to lifeless gods;

29 they provoked the LORD to anger by their wicked deeds,
and a plague broke out among them.

30 But Phinehas stood up and intervened,
and the plague was checked.

31 This was credited to him as righteousness
for endless generations to come.

32 By the waters of Meribah they angered the LORD,
and trouble came to Moses because of them;

33 for they rebelled against the Spirit of God,
and rash words came from Moses’ lips. [c]

34 They did not destroy the peoples
as the LORD had commanded them,

35 but they mingled with the nations
and adopted their customs.

36 They worshiped their idols,
which became a snare to them.

37 They sacrificed their sons
and their daughters to demons.

38 They shed innocent blood,
the blood of their sons and daughters,
whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan,
and the land was desecrated by their blood.

39 They defiled themselves by what they did;
by their deeds they prostituted themselves.

40 Therefore the LORD was angry with his people
and abhorred his inheritance.

41 He handed them over to the nations,
and their foes ruled over them.

42 Their enemies oppressed them
and subjected them to their power.

43 Many times he delivered them,
but they were bent on rebellion
and they wasted away in their sin.

Okay, I left out a few of the good verses. But even so…

We always want our songs to be happy.  The modern church doesn’t do lament well. What if Western Christians had a song that was the modern equivalent to this?  In her review at Thinking Out Loud of The Ben Ripple my wife wrote:

All in all, it is important for us to know stories like Ben’s.  The places where God meets us face to face, and the places where he stands quietly behind us.  What the family next door might be going through and what they may deal with from one day to the next.  It’s been said that we live in a world that has forgotten how to lament — to cry out to God our pain and fear and loss.  This book is just such a thing, but like so many of the laments in Scripture, it ends on a note of “nevertheless…”  The possibility of healing, the value of trusting, the necessity of faith in one who loves us.

In a review of a new NLT edition that contains a section of laments, I quoted the authors:

“These are the questions we’re all afraid to ask God, and the complaints we might hesitate to voice to him. The truth is, God desires our honest doubts, questions and complaints. After all, the writers of the Bible regularly lament, crying out to God and questioning him about injustices, pains and problems.

In 2012 at Internet Monk, Chaplain Mike looked at our propensity to edit the Psalms of Lament to suit our purposes in a piece about Sanitizing the Wilderness:

Contemporary “worship” music is especially weak when it comes to giving voice to the full spectrum of human experiences and emotions. Even when today’s songwriters make use of the Psalms they tend to transform the raw, earthy language that describes our complex, often messy relationships with God and others into easily digestible spiritual sentiments…

…It takes one image from a rich, profound, complex and realistic description of life and latches on to it because the image evokes a simple devotional sentiment that prompts an immediate emotion. We set it to music, and voila! — people get the idea we are singing “Scripture.”

Instead, in Psalm 106, we have true scripture, but the part of it that we tend to ignore or forget. But in its own way, this too is worship.


We also looked at Psalm 106 in a June, 2012 article, God Keeps Putting Up With Us.

October 1, 2017

Sunday Worship

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:31 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices, They shout joyfully together. – Isaiah 52:18a, NASB

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. – I Corinthians 12:12 NIV

As someone who has been part of music ministry in many different churches, I don’t know how I missed today’s analogy before. (I’ve added italics and bold type for emphasis!) We begin with a return visit to Christward Collective and a piece by author Gary Wilbur. Click the title below to read the article in full at source.

Singing in Parts

I love plainsong chant and the power of unison singing. This type of singing fulfills particular roles in worship that part-singing cannot. However, I would suggest that the current status of congregational singing is not lacking in unison options but is in fact neglecting the benefits of singing in parts.

One reason that people do not sing in church is the lack of opportunities to do so with a voice part or a melody that fits into their vocal range. Altos and basses were not physically made to sing in the same range as sopranos and tenors. When faced with a high melody line and no opportunity (or training) to sing anything else, basses and altos either stop singing or strain their voices. If they are able to hit the higher notes, they do so in a different part of their voice that makes them stick out of the blend.

Singing in parts allows for different voice ranges to have vocal parts that fit their voice. This allows them the opportunity to participate more fully in congregational singing—which is, of course, a significant reason for singing together in the first place.

In addition, when people sing in harmony the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Literally. Notes sung together cause sound frequencies to resonate together in such a way that “sounds” other notes that are not physically being sung. The combination of voices creates the opportunity for additional notes and harmonies to fill out the music with greater richness.

Singing in parts is a reflection of the Body of Christ that serves one another with different functions. The melody is supported by the harmony, the inner voices contribute tension and release, color, and enriched harmonic textures. The sopranos need the basses who need the altos and tenors…

He then moves on to talk about some of the practicalities of music ministry that aren’t applicable to all readers here.

It’s import to note that the idea of the capital “C” Church as a body is itself an analogy; so that when we noted that part singing is analogous to the notion of that body, we’re actually proposing an analogy to an analogy. We can get quite carried away doing this.

But we wouldn’t be the first to propose that the music of the church can be a microcosm of something taking place on a larger scale. For example, most of the basic chords in music are comprised of three notes, and writers in past centuries saw this as analogous to The Trinity.

Augustine wrote, “In that supreme triad is the source of all things, and the most perfect beauty, and wholly blissful delight.”

That quotation was sourced at the article “A Perfect Chord: Trinity in Music, Music in the Trinity” by Chiara Bertoglio (link here; opens as a .pdf) where we also see this:

In Greek theory and philosophy, since music is an expression of order and harmony, it is analogous with the harmony of nature, and is sympathetic with it. For Christians, the harmony of creation mirrors the Creator.  (p488)

But music can be highly complex. How far do we take such analogies?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer significantly used the musical image of the counterpoint between cantus firmus and higher parts as a metaphor of our love for creation and Creator: our love for God is the basic melody, ‘to which the other melodies of life provide the counterpoint.’ (p491)

And what do we say of polyphony? Or poly-tonality? Or the place of unresolved chords or even discords? It gets complicated when we try to impose too much on an analogy or metaphor; when we run too far down the rabbit trail!

So let’s leave it where we started, namely that Singing in parts is a reflection of the Body of Christ that serves one another with different functions.

That’s an image I believe we all can embrace, and can remember the next time we hear four-part harmony sung in worship to God.

 

 

April 23, 2013

By The Rivers of Babylon

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:00 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

There are many verses that are used in sermons on music in the Church, but this one rarely comes up in a discussion on worship:

Beside the rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept as we thought of Jerusalem. We put away our lyres, hanging them on the branches of the willow trees. For there our captors demanded a song of us. Our tormentors requested a joyful hymn: “Sing us one of those songs of Jerusalem!” But how can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land?

Psalm 137: 1-4 NLT

“C’mon. Sing us one of your camp songs. Sing us some Chris Tomlin. Let’s hear some classic Maranatha! Music choruses. How about some Hillsongs? Know any Graham Kendrick?”

That would be the modern equivalent(s). I think it’s interesting that they were taunted in terms of their music. Made to sing at a time they didn’t feel like singing.

The last verse really states the challenge facing us in these times:

But how can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land?

Turf was important to the Jewish nation. Land was history. Land was security. Land was a medium of exchange. When you are people of a land, a territory, a nation; captivity doesn’t fit well. Finding yourself on someone else’s turf is like wearing someone else’s clothing. Going by someone else’s name. Speaking someone else’s language.

Some days you don’t feel like singing. Some days it just feels all wrong.

But then:

If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill upon the harp.

Psalm 137:5 NLT

It’s like a giant “nevertheless.”

Spiritually speaking, as Christians we live in an occupied territory. The challenge of singing the Lord’s song in a foreign land is our challenge.

Nevertheless…


Bonus item today:

The church I grew up had a huge missions conference every year in which every available bit of wall space was covered with banners sporting all manner of quotations and slogans.

The one that is most memorable is:

Why should anyone hear the gospel twice before everyone has heard it once?

I’ve often thought about that. It does seem a bit unfair that North Americans experience so much exposure to the gospel message while in other parts of the world people are still waiting to hear this message for the first time.

Sometimes it amazes me that anyone in any part of the world ever gets to hear the gospel. What I mean is this: It is truly amazing that such a message of good news even exists.

Philip Yancey quotes Walter Wink saying:

If Jesus had never lived we never would have been able to invent him.

I would add:

If this gospel of grace, forgiveness, atonement and justification had never been invented, no fiction writer, no playwright, no artist  would have ever been able to compose it or conceive of it.

That’s good news.

When with the ransomed in glory
His face I at last I shall see
‘Twil be my joy through the ages
To sing of his love for me.

October 1, 2012

Living in a Christian World

KJV Ephesians 5:18 …be filled with the Spirit;  19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

Phillips  Ephesians 5:18 l…let the Spirit stimulate your souls. Express your joy in singing among yourselves psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making music in your hearts for the ears of God!

NASB Phil. 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Message – Phil 4:8Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.

The verses above usually receive a fairly specific application. The first, from Ephesians, has to do with allowing the Word of God (in a parallel Colossians passage) and the Spirit of God to overflow from your heart resulting in worship to God, in this case worship that is specifically musical; with the result that Christianity is essentially “a singing faith.”

The second verse from Philippians is usually used in reference to controlling our thought life; controlling what we allow to control us. Both verses have been referenced here at C201 in their primary contexts.

But today I want to think in terms of the everyday lives we live on Monday morning, after weekend services are over and we’re back to work, or school, or raising children. We spend at the very least an hour on Sunday in the “world of church” or “world of faith.” But many people walk out the door when the service ends and find themselves back in a culture situation that afford no opportunity for “psalms and hymns” and makes it hard to think about things which are “pure, lovely and of good repute.”

Their connection with Christian culture vanishes.

Those of us that blog, or work in vocational ministry at a local church or parachurch organization can be thought to represent one end of a continuum which has, at the other end, people who attend a church, but don’t allow the a Christian “seasoning” to permeate their lives throughout the week.

They possibly don’t read a daily devotional either; in print or online, so we’re not speaking to readers here necessarily.

Now having said that I can anticipate two objections.

The first is that we’re supposed to be “in the world” (though “not of it.”) This means that we’re not to spend our week living in the religious bubble or the Evangelical bubble. We’re expected to be out there getting our hands and feet dirty. Our time at worship before God is a type of retreat from the cares of the world, but then we return to the mission field where God has placed each of us.

The second objection would be that Christian culture, such as it exists, is somewhat flawed. ‘Christian’ is not an adjective that can be layered over music, books, radio, movies, web channels, restaurants, video games, etc. Reading Christian blogs — which I do a lot of — doesn’t make me more spiritual.

And yet, it bothers me that despite these valid objections, there are people who choose to almost abdicate from the world of faith for the other 167 hours of the week. They don’t have a preset for the local Christian radio station, they don’t take advantage of the resources available from online ministries, they don’t read any Christian books in the course of a year. Some don’t read their Bibles all week either; whatever reading is done in the worship service constitutes their only direct contact with the God’s Word throughout the week. (No pressure, pastors; right?)

Personally, I could survive a month on a deserted island with just my Bible, but in general, I need help. I am a better person in terms of my interactions with the world at large if I can approach those interactions with the flavor of faith. I need books to keep me thinking on things that are “true… honorable… right…” and I need music to keep me “singing and making melody to the Lord.”

I’m not trying to justify an industry, or several industries, or those industries’ excesses, but I’m saying that I do believe that at their genesis, there was a noble purpose of fanning the flames of faith; fanning the flames of what the Holy Spirit is already doing in our lives and wants to do.

And I’m concerned for people who are missing out on programs, resources, and opportunities that could greatly enhance their relationship with Jesus and their knowledge of God’s ways.

 

 

July 26, 2012

Speaking To Yourselves in Spiritual Songs

(NIV)Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…

(CEB) Col 316 The word of Christ must live in you richly. Teach and warn each other with all wisdom by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

This is a blog about “digging a little deeper.” I look for articles that begin with scripture and offer something beyond the superficial or shallow. I often recommend authors who “go deep.” Sometimes I borrow an HTML computer term and talk about “rich text.” There are only so many hours in the day, and I want to spend my devotional or Bible-study time with something that really sparks my thoughts. You can begin the day with your Our Daily Bread devotional booklet and your morning coffee, but hopefully that’s not the end of your meditating on God’s word for the day.

While some people consider the popular, contemporary Christian music — and by that I’m not referring to the modern worship genre — to be a little shallow. But there are songs that challenge us to deeper commitment. As we “speak” these songs to one another through video sharing, playing music as we drive somewhere, pre-service music on the sound system at church, background music as we cook dinner; we should naturally gravitate to the songs that take us a little deeper; the songs born out of rich text.

Case in point: Sidewalk Prophets “Live Like That”

Am I proof
That You are who you say You are
That grace can really change a heart
Do I live like Your love is true

People pass
And even if they don’t know my name
Is there evidence that I’ve been changed
When they see me, do they see You

I want to live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You

Case in point: Matthew West “Motions” (I’ve written about this song before!)

I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking,
“What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?”

Case in Point: Lincoln Brewster “Love The Lord” (My wife mentioned today how she loves the fact this is straight scripture.)

Love the Lord your God
With all your heart, with all your soul
With all your mind, and with all your strength.

Case in Point: Danniebelle “Work The Works” (a classic song from the early Jesus Music days we just added to our YouTube project; also straight scripture; this is how I originally learned this Bible story.)

One day Jesus saw a blind man sitting by the wayside
His disciples asked him, ‘Master who did sin?’
He said, “Neither this man, nor his parents,
But that the works of God might be manifest in Him”

I must work the works of Him, who sent me while it is day
For when the night is come the time for works will be done away.
Would you be willing to work for Jesus any time and every day?
He’ll reward you when He comes to take His bride away.

Let’s not minimize the gift of music God has given to us individually, and to the Church at large.

September 29, 2011

Worship Consists of a Life Well-Lived

Jim at Not For Itching Ears recently posted this as a question… Worship: Is it a Life Well-Lived or a Chorus Well-Sung?  I think you already know the answer, but…

We love to discuss those things we are passionate about, don’t we?  Be it our favorite football team (THE Washington Redskins), politics, sports, movies, cultural issues.  Heck we even argue about beer!   Remember the Miller Lite commercials?  For years, Miller Lite drinkers, including the likes of Rodney Dangerfield and John Madden, bickered back and forth on our TV sets.  The argument?  What made Miller Lite such a great beer.   Some said the drink tasted great. Others said it was less filling.  Though they were very entertaining commercials, it makes one wonder:  Don’t we have anything better to discuss than beer?

Of course we do!  Over here at Not For Itching Ears, we’ve been spending a lot of time talking about a topic that is higher up the food chain:  Worshipping God.  If you read these posts (millions of people do each hour)(just kidding), then you know I have been searching and studying and thinking out loud a lot lately.  I don’t know why.  Everywhere I go, every conversation I have, many of the sights I see cause me to reflect on what it means for a Christian to worship our great Redeemer.   The two facts that seem to be fueling this journey are these: 1)  Worship, generally, is not a song we sing, though we can worship God while singing.  2) The church seems to be defining worship as a song we sing.  I think that approach is crippling the church and robbing God of true worship.

Is worship a song that is well-sung or is it a life that is well-lived?

The Bible teaches us that true worship involves the laying down of our lives, and everything that entails.  In turn, we offer our lives back to God, to be lived for Him, His glory, and His alone.   Scripture is full of admonitions like the one Paul gave the church at Ephesus:

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life WORTHY of the calling you have received.”  Eph 4:1 NIV

This word “worthy” literally means “to bring up the other beam of the scales” so that things are equal.   If you put a pound of tomatoes on one side of the scale and a one pound weight on the other side of the scale, the scale will be even.  If everything is working the way it was designed to work, the scale would be perfectly level.  That is the idea here.  The Ephesian believers were being exhorted to conduct their lives in a  way that matched or equaled what they professed.  They were being exhorted to live out their faith.  We might say they were being told to practice what they preached.  With our mouths we say we believe in the Gospel,  will follow Christ anywhere, and want to love Him out loud, but do our lives balance that out?  Or, is one side of the scale higher than the other?  That’s what Paul is talking about here

The more I consider worship, the more I realize that this is EXACTLY what worship looks like.  It is a life laid down.  You and I proclaim God’s worth in every choice we make.   Let’s face it, living for Christ 24/7 is no easy task.  Life is full of temptations, large and small.   Every moment of every day we are bombarded with situations that cause us to choose who we are living for:  Ourselves or our God.  When we choose to follow God and obey His word, we are declaring that what He values is what matters.  We are professing with our deeds that His way is worthy of following.   Isn’t that the essence of worship?  The overwhelming weight of scriptural testimony leads to only one conclusion:  Worship is not what my mouth says, it is what my hands do.  At least that what God likes in a worshipper.

When I put my own life on that scale to see where my life stands, I don’t like what I see.   Like the Ephesians, I need to be reminded that my life should be spent following the master.  To worship Him, we should strive to live lives that are worthy of the King and his message.

Isn’t THAT much more involved than simply singing a few songs?

Many will counter and say that worship can be both a life well-lived and a song well-sung.  Just like Miller Lite could be both great tasting and less filling.  And I agree!  However I believe the church would do well to emphasize the true character of worship:  a life laid down.  When the body of Christ becomes gripped by this understanding of worship, the Gospel will spread like wildfire.

For more on this topic see our series called: Forget About Singing, God Wants Us To Worship Him His Way

~Jim Greer

October 18, 2010

I Waited Patiently For the Lord

One of the most popular posts at Thinking Out Loud — a blog which doesn’t actually embed video — is a reference to a worship song from the Psalms Alive project, titled He Will Not Let Me Fall.   To see that video, scroll the comments section of this post.    It’s also here at C201, but you’d miss the various comments ; it’s amazing the number of people who have been strengthened and encouraged by that song.

So I thought we’d include another Psalms Alive song here, one that offers a similar message of hope and faith; this one adapted from Psalm 40:

 

1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.

2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.

3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.

I pray that you and I have a sense of the Lord hearing our cry and moving us from fear into security.


I waited for the Lord on high
I waited and He heard my cry

He pulled me out of my despair
He showed me where to walk
From fear into security
From quicksand to a rock

There’s a new song in my heart to sing
A new song praises to my King

I’ll sing to let the people know
That I have been restored
And they will kneel and understand
To return and trust in the Lord

by Bill Batstone © 1982 Maranatha Praise, Inc. (Admin. by Maranatha! Music)

September 11, 2010

We Need Revival

God says, “You praise me with your lips
And call me ‘Lord’ each day
But deep inside your mind and hearts
And thoughts are far away
You build your empires
Motivated by power and greed
And crush the spirits of the people
Near you who have needs…”

Jesus said that He is coming for a
Church that’s without spot
Yet as I look around I am quite sure
That’s what we’re not
We point out all the specks and flecks
In other peoples’ eyes
To the point our inward hidden sin
Is never recognized

We need revival that will drive us to our knees
We need revival let it start with you and me
We need revival that will make the whole world see
That what we’re doing here is real and not a game

We sing the choruses proclaiming
He is Lord
As we’re glancing at the clock because
We truly are quite bored
And if the service runs too long
We cannot wait to leave
As we eat our Sunday dinner
The Holy Spirit’s grieved

We need revival that will drive us to our knees
We need revival let it start with you and me
We need revival that will make the whole world see
That what we’re doing here is real and not a game

Now I am quite convinced
The walls are tumbling down
Though it’s happening quite slowly
Still the children hear the sound
They question where the meaning’s gone
But those who still remain
Must truly seek to be Christ’s church
Alive and well again

We’ll have revival it will drive us to our knees
We’ll have revival, it will start with you and me
We’ll have revival, it will make the whole world see
That what we’re doing here is real and not a game
‘Cause what we’re doing here is real and not a game

© 1983 Paul Wilkinson

August 8, 2010

The Power of a Testimony

I want to continue where I left off yesterday, but in entirely different terms.

Contemporary church services don’t allow for what was once called “testimony time.”  We did a thing in our church years ago called “The Witness Stand,” which brought individual stories from the Sunday night service up into the morning service, when a greater number of people attended.

These days, you tend to hear stories in church only from people who are (a) being baptized or (b) going to or returning from a missions trip.

Even our songs — much as I love the ‘vertical’ quality of modern worship — no longer tell a story, either literally or poetically.   Maybe you’re old enough to remember:  “I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore; very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more.  But the Master of the sea heard my dispairing cry; from the water lifted me now saved am I.”  Or maybe those words just sound quaint and foreign, but they reflected a storyline no longer present in our worship services.

Maybe the words in “Victory in Jesus” that talk about the time “he plunged me to victory” don’t work in the 21st century, but there’s got to be a “before and after” song out there besides “Amazing Grace.”

So when I wrote yesterday about not letting anyone take away your story — or your very name — I wasn’t talking about identity theft.   I meant instead the importance of hanging on to all that God has done in your life.   That may mean keeping a journal or even starting a blog.  (Or writing a song.)

In the NLT, John 21 ends with John affirming his own story:

24 This disciple is the one who testifies to these events and has recorded them here. And we know that his account of these things is accurate.

…but I much prefer what I believe was the older version in The Living Bible which has John boldly affirm — after chapters and chapters of loose references to “the disciple that Jesus loved” — his place in the story with, “I am that disciple!”

What a climax to the story!   In other words he’s saying, “It was me!  I was the one who shared those moments; I was part of that inner circle!   It was James and Peter and I to whom he told those stories and hinted at some of the secrets of the Kingdom.   I was there!”

The biggest lie the Devil would have you believe is that some of the greatest moments of spiritual victory you experienced never really happened.   As I wrote a few days ago, when you “take this bread” don’t just remember all that Christ did on the cross all those years ago, but remember what He did in you and through you because of the cross.

July 27, 2010

Great Are You

I first heard this song at a worship service in the Chicago area a couple of years ago, but didn’t realize until tonight it’s by the band Downhere.  Close your eyes — the video image doesn’t change — and think about the fact that He’s God and we’re not.  Times a billion.


The chorus (especially) is truly a refreshing lyric.

How I love Your works
My God, My King
How I love Your works
My God, My King

Your Name rings on the plains
Like a not so distant train
And Love and history are near
In the flowers that you make
The flowers that you make

Because I’ll never hold the picture of the whole horizon in my view
Because I’ll never rip the night in two
It makes me wonder
Who am I, Who am I, Who am I
And great are you

How I love Your Word
My God, My King
How I love Your Word
My God, My King

Your love cuts through
these pages to my heart
As you grieve our sins,
right from the start
And sacrifice and paradise are in
The plans that you made, The
plans that you made

Because I’ll never hold the picture of the whole horizon in my view
Because I’ll never rip the night in two
It makes me wonder
Who am I, Who am I, Who am I
And great are you

July 25, 2010

Post for Hymn Lovers

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:58 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

In the Christian blogosphere, modern worship rules.   But if you grew up in church in the hymn era, and you had extra time on your hands, you probably know that each of the hymn tunes has a name.

I don’t know of a tune that continues to inspire and continues to remain somewhat ‘current’ as the tune known as Hyfrydol.     Its meter is such that it can be used with so many different hymns.   It’s a tune that has a strong identification with Christians, and sung with passion (sung that is, not choired) there’s nothing like it.

But this is where YouTube is less than helpful.   I would like to have included a version of this sung by a powerful choir and using the lyrics to “Our Great Savior” aka “Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners;” or “I Will Sing of My Redeemer;” but alas, we’ll have to make do with the Crystal Cathedral Choir using the lyrics for “Love Divine, All Love’s Excelling.”  (But I can re-edit the video insert if anyone has a better link.)

Regardless of who is singing, this is one of those moments where a unique tune melody blends with inspiring lyrics.


June 10, 2010

Be Ye Glad

Two music posts in a row. What can I say? I had some different ideas for today, but this song was in my brain crying out to be shared. The lyrics follow and are also in the video. Every debt that you ever had has been covered by grace.

In these days of confused situations.
In these nights of a restless remorse,
When the heart and the soul of the nation,
lay wounded and cold as a corpse.
From the grave of the innocent Adam,
comes a song bringing joy to the sad.
Oh your cry has been heard and the ransom,
has been paid up in full, Be Ye Glad.

Oh, Be Ye Glad, Be Ye Glad,
Every debt that you ever had
Has been paid up in full by the grace of the Lord,
Be Ye Glad, Be Ye Glad, Be Ye Glad.

From the dungeon a rumor is stirring.
You have heard it again and again.
But this time the cell keys are turning,
and outside there are faces of friends.
And though your body lay weary from wasting,
and your eyes show the sorrow they’ve had.
Oh the love that your heart is now tasting
has opened the gate, Be Ye Glad.

So be like lights on the rim of the water,
giving hope in a storm sea of night.
Be a refuge amidst the slaughter,
for these fugitives in their flight.
For you are timeless and part of a puzzle.
You are winsome and young as a lad.
And there is no disease or no struggle,
that can pull you from God, Be Ye Glad.

Words and Music by M.K.Blanchard
© Gotz Music/Benson

May 11, 2010

I Will Be Still and Know You Are God

Can’t get this song off my mind this week.   Take 6 minutes and 11 seconds to enjoy:

Here are the lyrics:

Verse 1
Hide me now
Under Your wings
Cover me
Within Your mighty hand

Chorus 1
When the oceans rise
And thunders roar
I will soar with You
Above the storm
Father You are King
Over the flood
I will be still and know
You are God

Verse 2

Find rest my soul
In Christ alone
Know His power
In quietness and trust

by Reuben Morgan © 2002 Hillsong Publishing (Admin. in U.S. & Canada by Integrity’s Hosanna! Music)

May 1, 2010

He Will Not Let You Fall

I had the weirdest experience last night.

I was driving through some rather remote roads late at night to pick up my youngest son from a youth event at a Christian camp. All the time I was thinking of a really old Psalms Alive song, “He Will Not Let You Fall.”

So I went on YouTube just for fun to see if someone had posted the audio, and there it was. I started listening only to notice I was only the second person to ever view it. Hmmm. That’s odd.

I glanced down at the post date: April 30, 2010.

Timing is everything. Kinda fits the song, doesn’t it?


I look up to the mountains
To the hills I turn my eyes
Who will come to help me?
Can I find a place to hide?

The one who made the heavens
And the earth will hear my call
The Lord will come to help me
And He will not let me fall

April 26, 2010

Servant: Come Jesus Come

The Christian rock band Servant was formed out of a community, The Highway Missionary Society; a similar relationship that their contemporaries, Resurrection Band, shared with their community, Jesus People USA.

This song, Come Jesus Come is actually the title song from the album, World of Sand.   It’s origins lie in a very early “Jesus Music” recording released by the Highway Missionaries that I believe was part of a musical.

…Now as I stand, amidst my shattered dreams
Somehow I think for the first time
Yes I really believe I’m
Ready to accept your love

Come Jesus, come I’m ready
Come Jesus, come and show me
Your way, your truth, your life…

Yes, there were powerful Christians songs long before today’s modern worship.

If you know more of the history, feel free to leave a comment; and if anyone knows an online location of their song Love Never Fails, I’ll post it here sometime as well.

Next Page »