Preparing Our Hearts for Worship, 02-26-2012

This Week’s Set List:

  1. O, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing – David Crowder version [Listen]
  2. When Our Hearts Sing – Rush of Fools [Listen]
  3. How Deep the Father’s Love for Us – Original Arrangement [Listen to a different version]
  4. Mystery – Charlie Hall NEW! [Listen]
  5. My Soul Waits – Original

Thoughts for this Week

This week, I wanted to mention two different songs: “When Our Hearts Sing” and the new one, “Mystery”. One of the things about “When our Hearts Sing” that I really enjoy is that it speaks a lot about who God is, and then puts our worship into perspective based on that. “You are infinite worth / When we’ve not the words, our hearts will sing / We are here on the earth / But somehow we’re heard / When our hearts sing to You”. Singing out some of the mechanics of our worship to God is a different approach than most worship songs employ, and I think it gives the song a sort of groundedness. There’s something solid and true and right about singing out an acknowledging of God’s holy “other-ness”, and our awe-filled position before Him.

The new song we’ll be singing this week is called “Mystery”. The first two lines are probably the most unique, in that they use some language and concepts that we don’t sing very often: “Sweet Jesus Christ, my sanity / Sweet Jesus Christ, my clarity”. Once we’ve had a chance to chew on those lines a little bit, I think they display a beautiful truth—especially in light of the rest of the song. Basically, it’s that life only makes sense with Christ (read: our rescuing king). What follows is a very sort of “creedal” statement of the truth that anchors us— words that give our lives meaning and purpose when everything around us seems like chaos: “Christ has died and / Christ is risen / Christ will come again”.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the songs we’ll be singing this week, or just what God may be teaching you about worship in general. Please leave a comment below!

For more information on GBC, visit begrace.org.

Black History Month

I’m not African-American, so I don’t want to pretend to understand what it’s like to be part of a people who are treated differently because of their appearance.  I don’t understand.  It shocks me!  I naively think we live in a post-racial world because of all the progress our society has made.  However, prejudice is still more common than any of us want to admit.  Recently a friend shared multiple examples of how he has been mistreated because his skin has more color than mine.  As a pastor to a mostly white congregation, I’m responsible for shepherding a people who may not have directly oppressed anyone, but are automatic members of a culture who did (and often still does). What should the posture of Christians be towards the historic oppression and ongoing mistreatment of Black Americans?  Let’s look at the example of Daniel:

Daniel 9:3 Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. 4 I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. 7 To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame…

Most Bible heroes have all kinds of sin recorded in their stories.  This makes Daniel stand out as one of those rare characters who always seemed to do what was right.  However, he doesn’t pray with self-righteous pride.  He doesn’t tell God “the exile wasn’t my fault, it was my ancestors!”  Like Jesus, he takes responsibility for the sins of others.  He confesses the sin and shame of his people.  He confesses sins that were committed by previous generations.  Like Jesus, he pleaded for forgiveness that his people would be healed and restored.  I would also add that like US, he knew he was still guilty of heart sins that he may have never outwardly expressed.  Romans 3:23 says that ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  I can pridefully say I never acted in racial prejudice, or I can stand before God confessing I’m a sinner who does not love people as beautifully and bravely as God wants me to. Humility is the only way forward.

In that light, I want to take Black History Month as a time to publicly confess the sins of my ancestors (and living members of white culture in the U.S.) against African Americans and other minority cultures in America.  The oppression and racism of our culture is wrong, and is a rejection of God’s perfect righteousness.  I also want to confess that I may have clean hands but I don’t have a pure heart.  I still need Jesus to transform ME.  God help my culture, and God help me!

I thank God for his grace and forgiveness through Christ.  Jesus loved people perfectly and died sacrificially.  By trusting in his work, we can be united as one people.  Our unity comes by the fact that we are all sinners saved by grace.  I confess that we have sinned, AND I pray that we would be restored and united because this helps men everywhere to see how good God is.

Take some time this month to pray that our community would be united by Christ’s work.  The Army does a fairly good job of uniting races in mission at Fort Hood, but the Gospel should unite us in supernatural ways that grab our culture’s attention.

Galatians 3:26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Pray for unity in the Gospel, and take some time to learn more about Black History Month.  Here is another post I found helpful.

For more information on Grace Bible Church, visit begrace.org.

Prayer Tip #48

[From Lauris Shepherd, one of our Elders]

“It is necessary to iterate and reiterate that prayer, as a mere habit, as a performance gone through by routine or in a professional way, is a dead and rotten thing. Prayer should not be regarded ‘as a duty which must be performed, but rather as a privilege to be enjoyed, a rare delight that is always revealing some new beauty.'” – E.M. Bounds

What can you do to rejuvenate your prayer life? Some suggestions:

Start with God rather than problems, concerns, or a list. “Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name…” Focus on praise and adoration of Creator God, Sovereign over all, Lover of your soul.

“…pray at all times in the Spirit…” Eph 6:18 It’s much more important and effective to know and pray what God thinks than bursting out with your own sentiments, understanding, and desires. You can start by asking God what you should pray and that He pray it through you.

One of the best ways to do this? Pray scripture. Look for passages in the Bible that praise God. (Psalms is fantastic.) Meditate on them and pray them back to Him.

Look for promises that apply to the need and pray those back to God.

And as you express your needs and worries and concerns to God, do it with gratefulness and thanksgiving. Phil. 4:6 Remember, God has promised good in all things to those who truly love Him. Rom. 8:28

Make your appeal from a position of unhindered communication – sins confessed, with an attitude of humility and surrender, determined to follow through on whatever He shows you to do. Acts 24:16

Let yourself get caught up in awe and wonder that Jesus, the only begotten of the Father, died for you and accepts you just as you are. Remind yourself of your standing in Christ and pray in His Name.


For more information on the GBC Prayer Team, visit begrace.org/ministries/prayer-team.

For more information on GBC, visit begrace.org.

Preparing Our Hearts for Worship, 02-19-2012: “Worship as Surrender”

This Week’s Set List:

  1. Beautiful One – By the Tree version [Listen]
  2. Bless Your Name – North Point Live [Listen]
  3. Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus – Original Arrangement
  4. 10,000 Reasons – Matt Redman [Listen]
  5. Jesus Paid it All – Kristian Stanfill [Listen]

Worship as Surrender

This week I ran across this definition of worship, and thought it was worth sharing.

“Worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness; the nourishment of mind with His truth; the purifying of imagination by His Beauty; the opening of the heart to His love; the surrender of will to His purpose – and all of this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable and therefore the chief remedy for that self-centeredness which is our original sin and the source of all actual sin.”
– William Temple (1881-1944), Readings in St. John’s Gospel

When we approach God in worship, are we perpetuating an active battlefield of His will and purpose versus ours? Or do we come before Him eager to lay down the weapons of our pride, and surrender? What a beautiful thing to remember that worship—including, but not limited to our Sunday gatherings—is a chance to once again crown Christ king of everything that we have and everything that we are.

Tell me your thoughts! Is this definition of worship something new or something old to you? Do you agree with it? Do you find this kind of worship easy or hard?

For more information on GBC, visit begrace.org.

Choosing a Bible

The Bible is a divinely unified story of redemption, but it comes in the form of 66 books written in very different styles and cultures. Some portions of scripture are quite crude in the original languages, and others are very sophisticated. It pleases God to speak through different styles of language. When picking a Bible, we shouldn’t fall for the trap that one style of translation is more holy than another.

Grace Bible Church uses the ESV for preaching, and keeps copies of it in the auditorium to help new people follow along. However, we are not convinced that it is the only translation people should read. Below are some guidelines for choosing your own Bible translation.

First of all, be thankful that we have so many great versions available in English!

Secondly, narrow your choices. What type of Bible do you want? There are three kinds:

  1. Word-­for-­word literal translations
  2. Thought-­for­-thought literal translations
  3. Paraphrases (not considered a translation)

Start with type 1 or type 2. Don’t buy a paraphrase until you own a literal version.

  1. Word-for­-word translations include: ESV (English Standard Version), KJV (King James Version), NASB (New American Standard Bible), NKJV (New King James Version), and HCSB (Holman Christian Standard Bible).
  2. Thought­-for­-thought translations (also called dynamic-equivalence) include: NIV (New International Version), NET (New English Translation), The Voice, NLT (New Living Translation).
  3. Paraphrases include: The Message, The Living Bible, J.B.Phillips. These are often helpful, but more like reading a sermon than reading a Bible.

A new reader of the Bible will find any translation somewhat alien in the beginning. When choosing between a word-for-word and a thought-for-thought translation, think about your personal reading preferences and experience. The NIV reads more smoothly, but the ESV is more precise when you want to compare words from paragraph to paragraph. If you are a reader of old books, you may prefer the precision of a word-for-word translation like the ESV, NASB, or NKJV. If you want reading that flows like a conversation, you may prefer a thought- for-thought translation like the NET, NIV, or NLT. The NET is unique, because it flows like the NIV, but it comes with the most extensive linguistic notes of any thought-for-thought translation.

Take time to familiarize yourself with the philosophy of the translators. Read the prefaces to understand what their goals were. Thought-for-thought translations often use “gender inclusive” language, which can sometimes confuse the text.

There are also many “Study” Bibles. These have long explanations at the bottom of each page. They also have summaries and introductions that are very helpful. The two best I have found are the “ESV Study Bible” and the “NIV Study Bible”.

No matter which Bible you choose, come to the scriptures needy, and ask God to meet you there: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”  Matthew 5:6

For more information on GBC, visit begrace.org.

Preparing for Worship, 2012-02-12

  1. Love the Lord – Lincoln Brewster
  2. Great is the Lord – Elevation Worship
  3. Fom the Depths of Woe – Martin Luther (Original Arrangement)
  4. Only You – David Crowder
  5. With Everything – Hillsong NEW!

[Listen]

NEW SONG: With Everything

Open our eyes
To see the things that make Your heart cry
To be the church that You would desire
Your light to be seen

Break down our pride
And all the walls we’ve built up inside
Our earthly crowns and all our desires
We lay at Your feet

Let hope rise
And darkness tremble in Your holy light
That every eye will see Jesus our God
Great and mighty to be praised

God of all days
Glorious in all of Your ways
Oh the majesty the wonders and grace
In the light of Your Name

With everything
With everything
We will shout for Your glory
With everything
With everything
We will shout forth Your praise

Our hearts they cry be glorified
Be lifted high above all names
For You our King with everything
We will shout forth Your praise

Woah-oah-oah
Woah-oah-oah

For more information on GBC, visit begrace.org.

Prayer Tip #47

[From Lauris Shepherd, one of our Elders]

Don’t forget the ½ Day in Prayer this Saturday, Feb. 11 beginning 8 a.m. at the Plaza Del Sol!

Prayer Tip #47

Are you so aware of sin and failure that you cannot pray with confidence or even pray at all?  I have Good News for you children of God.  Look up!

  • I John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
  • Prov. 28:13 He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.
  • I Peter 3:18  For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;

It’s paid for….in full!  Debt cancelled.  God’s forgotten it and there’s no use bringing it up (or dwelling on it).  We are “justified by His blood” (Romans 5:9) through faith (5:1).  Because I’m justified, my standing is just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned.

But wait!  Much more than being completely cleansed continually and having a clean slate, we are infinitely righteous in Christ.

  • II Cor. 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
  • Remember Gal. 2:20, I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the lifewhich I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

So who’s really doing the praying now?  It’s Jesus in me.  Do you think the Father is reluctant to hear His Son’s voice?  Rather, He delights to hear Jesus in you praying.

Don’t pray anymore as your old self.  That person died.  Pray always in the Spirit, out of your new self, the Jesus in you person.


More Information