Worship – the cure for self-centeredness

Every dimension of self-centered living becomes endangered as we come to share God’s self-giving heart.

-Mark Labberton

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The most important voice in the room

I once had an ongoing joke with a sound guy that I was “number one” because he would usually plug my vocal mic into channel 1 on the snake at my church. As if us worship leaders need any additional help boosting our egos any higher than they already are… Continue reading

Keith Getty, “In Christ Alone,” and sung theology

This is a great interview with Keith Getty, one of the authors of the song “In Christ Alone.” The article focuses mainly on the song and how some denominations have recently chosen not to publish it in their hymn books because of one line. I really appreciate the way Keith not only defends his commitment to retaining the original lyric, but goes on from there to share a number of wise insights into the importance of singing our theology, including difficult concepts such as God’s wrath. For example:

Each of us faces the temptation to fashion God out of our own image. And a picture of God formed through our experiences of hurt, anger, injustice, or rage is a sad and vindictive one indeed. But this is not the infinite, good God we serve. God’s wrath is not like our wrath, and his ways are not like our own.

The final paragraph of the article sums up well the need for worship songs that contain a full scope of sound theology:

We need exciting, passionate songs with beautiful lyrics, rich in theology, and infectious melodies that invigorate our congregations. With every line we write and tune we compose, we need to portray a fuller picture of Christ for the people among us. We need not shy away from the hard, mysterious sections of Scripture. Songwriters need to demonstrate a grasp of the whole biblical context. We must not be afraid to write about hard things. Singing songs with more depth allows us to experience the relief of lifting our eyes off ourselves and toward the unimaginable vastness of our God. This is what I pray for myself and for others creating music for the church today.

Read the entire interview here.

One of my favorite quotes

I first came across this years ago but it continues to inspire me.

‎The brightness of His glory and the wonders of His heart will no doubt have us pouring out new songs for all eternity. – Matt Redman

Indeed. May this be true of the Church, and may it be true of my life.

A new season

After almost 7 years of serving Jesus in Duvall it seems as though this season of ministry has come to a close. As I look back on the greater part of the last decade and reflect on all that has happened I am utterly and truly overwhelmed with gratitude. The many evidences of God’s grace to me, Michelle and our kids are too numerous to count. The lessons learned, relationships forged, and love shown to us by the amazing people of Duvall Church and Redemption Church will forever be very dear to us. Continue reading

John Piper: “Brothers, We Are Still Not Professionals”

Today The Resurgence posted a great interview that Mark Driscoll conducted with John Piper. In it, Piper shares some of the lessons he has learned in his decades of pastoral experience on risk, leadership, and stereotypes. The whole interview is good, but the (slightly edited) excerpt below I found to be an especially excellent piece of wisdom and a great reminder for anyone in Christian leadership. The last paragraph is especially good for anyone involved in music ministry:

“Professionalism has connotations that don’t serve us well in describing the ministry. The ministry is supernatural, or it is not Christian ministry. The natural things we do—preach, teach, counsel, write, organize, visit—are not in and of themselves ministry. Unbelievers do all those things. Even unregenerate pastors do those things, and they may do them with great professional skill. But all of that professional excellence would be utterly in vain.

…the heart of the ministry is supernatural and our main aim and focus should be on that aspect of our work. There is no professional faith, no professional hope, no professional joy, no professional thirsting after God, no professional empathy with sufferers, no professional purity, or professional passion for the lost. You get the idea. The essence of what we are about is simply not professional, like raising the dead.

Of course, supernatural does not mean methodological stupidity. The people do need a place to park. The meeting needs to end in time to get some sleep. The sound system needs to work. But all of that sort of thing is pursued “by the strength that God supplies” so that God gets the glory (1 Pet. 4:11), or it is not Christian ministry. Professionalism doesn’t show us that.

Undistracting excellence is the way we talk about the natural wineskin of ministry that holds the supernatural wine. This means that we take seriously the biblical call to play your music skillfully and be apt to teach. But the aim is for a kind of excellence that does not distract from God or the spiritual engagement with God in all our natural acts. Both fumbling and finesse distract. This is why professionalism simply won’t work as a ministry aspiration. It is not the aim of professionalism to become transparent for the glory of Christ.”