Archives For worship

This beautiful gospel song is so true, so singable, and so memorable. We need more modern hymns like this which cover the birth, life, death, and resurrection so powerfully. Thank you Matt Papa, Matt Boswell, and Michael Bleecker for gifting the Church with this song of Jesus.

COME BEHOLD THE WONDROUS MYSTERY

VERSE 1
Come behold the wondrous mystery
In the dawning of the King
He the theme of heaven’s praises
Robed in frail humanity

In our longing, in our darkness
Now the light of life has come
Look to Christ, who condescended
Took on flesh to ransom us

VERSE 2
Come behold the wondrous mystery
He the perfect Son of Man
In His living, in His suffering
Never trace nor stain of sin

See the true and better Adam
Come to save the hell-bound man
Christ the great and sure fulfillment
Of the law; in Him we stand

VERSE 3
Come behold the wondrous mystery
Christ the Lord upon the tree
In the stead of ruined sinners
Hangs the Lamb in victory

See the price of our redemption
See the Father’s plan unfold
Bringing many sons to glory
Grace unmeasured, love untold

VERSE 4
Come behold the wondrous mystery
Slain by death the God of life
But no grave could e’er restrain Him
Praise the Lord; He is alive!

What a foretaste of deliverance
How unwavering our hope
Christ in power resurrected
As we will be when he comes

What a foretaste of deliverance
How unwavering our hope
Christ in power resurrected
As we will be when he comes

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Though You Slay Me

Tim Brister —  August 28, 2013 — 2 Comments

This is so good. Such a great encouragement to trust and treasure Christ in all circumstances and whatever the cost.

[HT: Joe Thorn]

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psalm 99Last year, I wrote a blogpost about Triperspectivalism in the Psalms, mainly drawing from Psalm 71. I’ve continued to slowly meditate my way through the Psalms, and this morning I found myself enjoying Psalm 99. This is a psalm that I have skimmed over in the past with an acceleration button pressed toward Psalm 100. But today, I decided to reverse the speed and go in slow motion.

What I realized in Psalm 99 is three pairs: God’s reign and rule (vs. 1-2); God’s majesty and holiness (vs. 3-4); and how God’s people respond to God’s character and God’s ways, viz., exaltation and worship (vs. 3, 5, 9). As I thought about these pairs, the triperspectival grid kicked into my thinking (normative – existential – situational).

The normative aspect of the Christian life is God’s character. It is the standard and rule for our lives. We become what we are (children of God becoming like Christ). We are situated in a world where God’s ways are continually brought before us. We see his might and awesome deeds worked on behalf of His people. The situational aspect is that God’s people are in the domain of God’s reign and rule. The existential aspect has to do with how God’s people respond to God’s ways and enter into His presence. The answer is awe, wonder, and worship. We experience God in His character and through His ways so that we would make much of Him and “praise His great and awesome name” (vs. 3). In short, the standard is God’s holiness; the situation is God’s rule; our response is worship. This the matrix of communion with God.

Whenever God’s character is not normative for our lives, we wander off into situations of self-rule rather than divine rule. Our response is not worship of God but self-worship and idolatry. Therefore, the response of God’s people in worship is calibrated by the nearness and experience of God’s character and ways. White hot, fervent, earnest worship is born out of a clear and continual sight of who God is and what God has done for us in Christ. There is no better place to be in all the world than to be under the reign of God beholding the glory of God with others genuine engaged in the worship of God.

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Edwards Devotion to GodAt the beginning of this year, I preached a message entitled “A Reasonable Resolution” from Romans 12:1-2. In my study of what it means to be a “living sacrifice”, I came across this journal entry from Jonathan Edwards on his self-dedication to God at the age of 20(!). I find this to be a powerful summary of what it means to be a living sacrifice to God.

“I have, this day, solemnly renewed my baptismal covenant and self-dedication, which I renewed when I was taken into the communion of the church. I have been before God, and have given myself, all that I am and have, to God; so that I am not, in any respect, my own. I can challenge no right in this understanding, this will, this affections, which are in me. Neither have I any right to this body, or any of its members–no right to this tongue, these hands, these feet; no right to these senses, these eyes, these ears, this smell, or this taste.

I have given myself clear away, and have not retained any thing as my own. . . . I have given every power to him; so that, for the future, I’ll challenge no right in myself, no respect whatsoever. I have expressly promised him, and I do now promise Almighty God, that by his grace I will not. I have this morning told him that I did take him for my whole portion and felicity, looking on nothing else as any part of my happiness, nor acting as if it were; and his law, for the constant rule of my obedience; and would fight with all my might against the world, the flesh, and the devil, to the end of my life; and that I did believe in Jesus Christ, and did receive him as a Prince and Savior; and that I would adhere to the faith and obedience of the gospel, however hazardous and difficult the confession and practice of it may be; and that I did receive the blessed Spirit as my Teacher, Sanctifier, and only Comforter, and cherish all his motions to enlighten, purify, confirm, comfort, and assist me.

This, I have done; and I pray God, for the sake of Christ, to look upon it as a self-dedication, and to receive me now as entirely his own, and to deal with me, in all respects, as such, whether he afflicts me or prospers me, or whatever he pleases to do with me, who am his. Now, henceforth, I am not to act, in any respect, as my own. I shall not act as my own, if I ever make use of any of my powers to any thing that is not to the glory of God, and do not make the glorifying of him my whole and entire business.”

– Jonathan Edwards, January 12, 1723.

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This week, my friend Stephen Miller (worship leader at The Journey Church, St. Louis) came out with a new album focused on enduringly rich hymns arranged with a great contemporary feel. Hymns is a liturgical project, bring aspects of Adoration (How Great Thou Art, Holy, Holy Holy), Confession (Kyrie Elieson, I Surrender All), Assurance (Great Is Thy Faithfulness, Amazing Grace), Justification (How Deep the Father’s Love, Before the Throne), and Commitment (In Christ Alone, Be Thou My Vision). One can appreciate the intentionality of Stephen to not only provide us a time-transcendant sound track of the faith but to do so with liturgical skill to “re-present the gospel” in form and substance.

Stephen was kind enough to allow my family and I to listen to the album before it was released. The day it came in the mail, I tossed it into the minivan CD changer. It happened to find its home in slot number 3. Why is that important? Well, ask my 3 and 4-year-old sons when they get in the fan, and they will say, “Dad, please turn it to 3-1 (disc three, song 1).” As a result, I have listened to the entire album with my family everyday since it came in the mail.

How do I know it is good? I love it. My wife and boys love it. The songs are singable. A contemporary arrangement does not have to be so creative that it becomes too difficult to join in. My boys picked up the songs 2-3 days into singing them. The only song they have a difficulty with is Kyrie Elieson (Aiden, my three-year old says, “Daddy, that song is weird.”). But seriously, these are the song they have been learning in family worship and corporate worship with our church family. To have new arrangements of their favorite hymns has been a wonderful treat, and as a dad who loves to hear his toddler boys sing about Jesus, it brings me great joy.

I’m not a music critic, offering expertise into the musical blends and evaluating trends. I’m a Christian, husband, and father wanting to see my life, and the lives of those I’m entrusted to lead, to learn gospel-centered songs with the hope that those songs will become the soundtrack of our lives. I’m grateful for the contribution of Stephen Miller with this new Hymns album because it is a great means of uniting the voices of my family to sing about Jesus.

With that said, I’m happy to anticipate this morning hearing Nolan and Aiden tell me as I crank up the minivan, “Daddy, can you turn it to 3-1?”

Sure, boys. Let’s sing them again.

Get the album on iTunes here.

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Never Once

Tim Brister —  July 15, 2012 — 1 Comment

Is there are song your worshipping community is connecting with/responding to during this season of ministry? For those of at Grace, I would say the song below has been particularly impacting.  We have been through an extended time of transition as a church, and through it all, God has been so faithful. Grateful for songwriters and musicians who make provide the songs we can sing about the character and ways of God as a confessing community of worshippers.

Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
Carried by Your constant grace
Held within Your perfect peace
Never once, no, we never walk alone

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Every step we are breathing in Your grace
Evermore we’ll be breathing out Your praise
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

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One of my favorite worship bands playing my 2 year old’s favorite song . . .

I am bound for the kingdom…won’t you come with me?

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Sojourn Music has continually delivered unique offerings of gospel rich music, but perhaps none have been more unique than their newest release by singer/songwriter Kristen Gilles and her husband Bobby.  The Whole Big Story is a 4-track album released today that focuses on the whole sweep of redemptive history–Christ’s work from creation to redemption to consummation.  To get a glimpse of the verses that inspired these songs, check out this blogpost by Bobby. Explaining the nature of this album, they write:

Taken together, the songs on The Whole Big Story tell God’s story from creation to the Second Coming and Christ’s reign in the New Earth.

These songs teach that Christ’s sacrifice wasn’t simply akin to throwing himself in front of a bullet for us (as brave and noble as that would be), but rather that He is the Lord of all Creation who willingly died on His own tree, having known and determined to do so before creation’s dawn.

These songs teach a crucial, blessed difference between Old Testament worship and our reality — that we don’t have to wait once a year for an appointed priest to pray and offer sacrifice for our sins, but that we can boldly go before God’s throne all the time. Christ’s sacrifice has “torn the veil.”

These songs show that Jesus cast Satan from the sky, tied him up and crushed his head. Now, the Holy Spirit is sweeping through the earth and Christ is adding to His Church as the demons helplessly roar, knowing how this story will end. Christ will come again, bringing His people back to set up a kingdom wherein “love will cover all the earth, in the kingdom without end.”

I have been listening to these songs all weekend and highly recommend them to you. These tracks can be downloaded for free via Noisetrade or you can get them via bandcampas well for just $2.  For worship leaders and musicians, Bobby and Kristen have also made chord charts, lyrics, and instructional videos for how to play these songs (which I think is pretty awesome). Here’s the direct links:

Thank you Bobby and Kristen for using your gifts and talents to serve the body of Christ and draw us into the whole story of God’s glorious work of redemption through the person and work of Jesus!

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A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V

In his book, Grounded in the Gospel: Building Believers the Old-Fashioned Way, J.I. Packer has a chapter entitled “The Gospel as of First Importance.”  In that chapter, Packer discusses the pastoral and formational applications of the Gospel.  Many are familiar with the quote from Tim Keller that “the Gospel is not the ABC’s of the Christian life; it is the A through Z of the Christian life.”  Packer writes,

“In that spirit we offer the following ‘Gospel Alphabet’–twenty-six pastoral and formative reasons why the Gospel must retain primacy as the content of Christian education” (108).

This week, we come to the letter “W”.

W is for Worship

We must continually teach and learn the Gospel because there is simply nothing else that evokes worship and adoration as the Gospel does. A quick survey of the hymnody of the church through the past twenty centuries makes this clear. The best hymns–ancient and contemporary–which have shown themselves to have staying power have always been Gospel-obsessed. God is glorified, Christ is exalted, and the cross and Christ’s atoning work are central. The same is true of other key elements of Christian worship–our preaching, our confessions, our prayers, our sacraments. Take away the Gospel and Christian worship simply ceases. The Gospel moves us endlessly to wonder and adore.

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