Tag Archives: choir

“I Will Sing Unending Songs…”

“Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord…”
Psalm 102:18 (ESV)

unending songs

This weekend, I will spend Saturday morning and Sunday evening recording a live worship album with the worship ministries team at church.

I’m only one small part of the second row of a large choir (plus orchestra, rhythm section, praise team, tech team, children’s choir, and student choir), but I am so excited to be a part of this recording project. I do not take this opportunity and responsibility lightly … to be a part of leading others (both present and future generations, both in my city and around the world) to worship in spirit and in truth and to praise the Lord’s name!

While we’ve been diligently preparing and rehearsing for several weeks (probably more like months…) now, this past Wednesday evening was obviously a particularly long and intense rehearsal as tempos were being nailed down, harmonies were being fine-tuned, rhythms were being locked-in, cut-offs were being sharpened, and all of the moving parts were being tweaked to come into their final places.

No doubt there will be a few additional tweaks throughout the multiple day recording process this weekend (and beyond) as well.

But beyond the logistics and the technical aspects of the music, the lights, the sound, etc., it is such an honor and privilege to serve alongside this worship ministries team under the leadership of a worship pastor who values and prioritizes Biblical worship.

Even the most intense rehearsals are Christ-centered and worship-focused.

I love that!

Now I’m not really much into visions. In fact, I’m probably more on the side of the skeptic when it comes to receiving some form of a vision from the Lord, but I also believe that God can and does still work that way when His people are willing to listen and see.

So what I’m about to say, I take incredibly seriously, but know I likely won’t be able to do the moment much justice at all. But it’s too rich not to at least try!

As we were nearing the 2.5 hour mark on Wednesday evening, as I was feeling more fatigued by the minute and rather at the end of myself, during our final worship set, a medley of four songs all about the eternal song of praise in heaven, the Lord allowed me to catch a hazy and fleeting, but oh so powerful, glimpse of the reality of heaven.

Not in a clear photographic vision sort of way.
Not even in a clouds-parted-and-I-literally-saw-heaven sort of way.
Not at all.

But with the house lights down, the spotlights bright, the many exit signs glowing, in the fogginess and dimness of that moment as we were literally singing the words,

“Every eye will see the coming of the King…”

I saw it.

A hazy, fleeting, barely-for-a-moment glimpse of That Day when all eyes will be focused on the Center of this eternal reality … the light and truth that is our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

Oh. Wow.

I’m speechless just thinking about it again!

It was as if for that very brief moment, I was able to step outside of myself, aware of the powerful and heartfelt worship coming from the entire team around me, but somehow removed from it and able to catch a glimpse of what this looked like from the outside.  Somehow able to see this grand light – Jesus Christ on His throne – that we were all singing towards, that our hearts were all directed towards, that our eyes were all looking towards.

Every eye seeing. Every knee bowing. Every heart worshiping.

And y’all.

It changed my own heart in an instant.

At the end of myself, the Great I AM stepped in and re-directed my heart to the unending, awesome, holy, and wonderful Glory of His Son.

While still physically exhausted, my worship was transformed following that moment … renewed, energized, passionate, and true.

Eternity is a reality. Heaven is real.

And THE eternal song of heaven begins now…

“Holy, Holy are You Lord, God, Almighty!”

“Worthy is the Lamb!”

“Jesus is the Lord!”

“Blessing and honor and glory and power, forever!”

“I will sing unending songs…”

My Top 3 New Favorite Songs

my top 3 new favorite songs

1. Lord, I Need You – Matt Maher

“Lord I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You.
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You.”

It’s not often that I buy a new song as soon as it’s released. But the first time I heard this one, I knew it was one I needed to add to my collection. These lyrics slay me. They reach some inner part of my soul that is crying with desperation for the Lord to be near and fill me. Because I just can’t live this life without Him. The verses are every bit as powerful and truth-filled.

2. By Faith – Keith & Kristyn Getty

A modern hymn with a celtic flair. I love how each of the verses build on one another to tell such a powerful story of walking by faith and not by sight.

3. The Word of God Has Spoken – Travis Cottrell

We’re learning this song as a choir at church right now in preparation of an upcoming worship ministries recording project. I first heard it quite a while ago when I purchased the album, When the Stars Burn Down, but had sort of forgotten about it. I have no idea how, though, because when I realized which song it was, and as we’ve been rehearsing it, it has quickly become one that sits on repeat while I’m writing. This message of freedom never gets old:

“We are running to salvation, we have been delivered.
The Word of God has spoken we are free.”

What are some of your current favorite songs?

O Come Let Us Adore Him

“Come adore on bended knee, Christ the Lord, the newborn king.”

(Angels We Have Heard on High)

From the well known lyrics of familiar Christmas carols to the oft recited passages in Matthew and Luke, the truth emerges softly … yet boldly.

Christmas is an invitation … a beckoning, even … to come and adore.

The choir prepares to sing “Carol Medley” in the Christmas concert, a piece aptly named for its unusual arrangement of carols: “Angels We Have Heard on High”, “How Great our Joy”, “I Wonder as I Wander”, and “Birthday of a King”.

Of all the lyrics in this 16 page piece, one innocent phrase of “I Wonder as I Wander” stands out: “When Mary birthed Jesus, twas in a cows stall, with wisemen and farmers and shepherds and all.”

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”

– Luke 2:10-12

Wise men. Farmers. Shepherds. Angels.

An unlikely grouping with little in common, yet their paths converge. Bowed in worship at the feet of the Savior. In adoration of this Holy One, Emmanuel, God with us. Born of a virgin in the humblest surroundings. An infant placed in a lowly manger in the town of Bethlehem.

A jubilant and compelling invitation is extended … in a star and in a multitude of heavenly hosts … to come, to worship, to adore.

The wise men follow steadily, faithfully. The shepherds come promptly, hastily. To see this baby … the Christ, the Messiah, the fulfillment of prophecy … to see the humility of his birth, the miracle of his incarnation, the peace of his coming, the joy of his appearance, the beauty of his salvation, the majesty of his kingship.

Will you come? Promptly and faithfully? To worship and adore HIM?

“O Come Let Us Adore Him, Christ the Lord.”

(O Come all Ye Faithful)

Stepping Back

One of the things I love most about blogging (aside from all the amazing people I get to interact with) is the opportunity it provides for stepping back to appreciate all of the ordinary moments that make up the everyday and to encourage the restoration of proper perspective in the midst of a too-full schedule.

So here’s 10 days (yikes!) worth of all-over-the-place random, photos from my phone, and stepping back…

Around this time each year, I look at my December calendar in the name of preparing for what’s ahead and tend to have a minor freak out moment until I settle into being just plain overwhelmed by the number of parties, rehearsals, and commitments that inevitably characterize this month. Without fail, that moment has come and gone. But after realizing that I had foolishly scheduled almost 10 days in a row of being out of the house every day (for pretty much all day), I did have the foresight to make some adjustments to the schedule where possible. I hate saying “no” to good things that I know will be fun and meaningful, but I find that I’m much less overwhelmed when I slow down enough to have at least a couple of nights each week with no commitments (I call this scheduling “margin” into life…time to be still and recharge…am I the only one who needs this?), so I can at least stay on top of cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming the carpet, and washing the dishes. All things that help me stay sane. At least relatively.

This helped with restoring perspective, too:

“The second coming of Christ will soon be here…Rest in the hope of that day. Work, watch, and look forward – one thing, at any rate, that day will make abundantly clear. It will show that there was never an hour in our lives in which we had our hearts too thoroughly focused on Christ.”

– J.C. Ryle (emphasis added)

I rode with my parents to my grandparents house in Northern Virginia for Thanksgiving. It was a quick trip (we left on Thursday and came back on Saturday), but since I wasn’t driving, I managed to read two books during the travel time. (“Radical” by David Platt and “Heaven is for Real” by Todd Burpo…just in case anyone’s interested.) We had a great time visiting with family, and on Friday, while everyone else was out shopping (which is just not my idea of a good time!), we helped my grandparents clean out old Christmas decorations from their attic, which is where I found these amazing vintage ornaments. I fell in LOVE with them, but no one else seemed to want them, so my Uncle and I divided them up between us and later found out they were my grandfather’s from when he was little. Even better!

Decorating the house for Christmas this year has been a process (and is still in progress), but my roommate, B (who happens to be blogging lots of fun and tasty homemade treats for 25 days of Christmas here) made these awesome stockings since we decided to change up the mantel theme this year. Aren’t they just the cutest???

Speaking of decorating, I know I left you hanging with the whole office re-do. I still haven’t really finished, but I did finally organize the bookshelf, and I really like it!

On Friday morning, I walked outside my back door to find frost all over my car. I didn’t feel like scraping the windows, so after saying “good morning” to my neighbor who was throwing out his trash, I opted to just sit in the car for a few minutes, eat my waffle, and wait for the defroster to kick in. About 30 seconds later, though, my windows cleared instantly as my neighbor had gone into his own car (he wasn’t going anywhere, mind you), taken out his de-icer spray, and sprayed all my windows for me. Totally made my morning!

Of course, ’tis the season for my weeks to be filled with lots of choir rehearsals in preparation for the Christmas concert (which is next Sunday) and for other extra special seasonal services (the Advent / Tree Lighting service is tonight!). And yesterday afternoon, I attended the women’s Christmas tea at church for the first time thanks to an invite from a sweet friend who hosted/decorated a table again this year. There were 81 tables all beautifully decorated by their respective hosts and a message of the hope and peace we have in the gift of Christ. So much fun!

And now, I’m planning to sit on my couch in my favorite fleece pants and enjoy an hour of stillness. I hope you experience some peace and stillness in the midst of this season as well!

Come Just As You Are

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)

 

“…come just as you are…”

This past Sunday, my church had the privilege of hearing our worship pastor preach as our senior pastor was away.

Sometimes it seems that worship pastors have an unfair advantage when they preach as they tend to have a keen sense of the music that best reflects the message God has placed on their heart.

So when the sermon on Biblical rest {which for me was a much needed message that proved to be incredibly piercing and convicting on its own} was followed by a time of silent prayer as the song “Come Just As You Are” began in the background with the congregation eventually joining in, my mind and heart were readily positioned to hear from the Lord in a fresh and powerful way.

“…hear the Spirit call…”

But let me back up for a moment.

The summer after 8th grade, I traveled to Baltimore, MD with my church youth choir on a mission tour. We led Back Yard Bible Clubs for children in the mornings, did service-oriented projects in the afternoons, and then presented a gospel-focused musical in various locations in the evenings.

We did these tours every summer, and while they were all meaningful and had a significant influence on my spiritual growth through those years, one night in Baltimore left an even greater lasting impression.

Towards the end of presenting our musical in a men’s homeless shelter in the heart of downtown {which was probably one of the roughest places I had ever been…especially considering the strict instructions we were given regarding how to not interact with the residents}, our pastor gave a brief invitation, and then we followed it with the song “Come Just As You Are.”

As we were singing, we watched as one broken man after the other wept openly, walked towards our pastor, bowed their head in prayer, and recognized their need for a Savior.

They literally came just as they were.

It was one of the most powerful, raw, spirit-filled moments I have ever experienced. By the end of that song, I don’t think there was a dry eye in that place as tears seemed to flow freely from all in attendance.

“…come and see…”

But somewhere in presenting that song of invitation, I allowed myself to {rather unknowingly} believe that the message wasn’t intended for me.

The invitation to Come was for the beggar, the thief, the wounded, the one unfamiliar with the Gospel, the one in desperate need. . .but not for me.

Intellectually, I knew it had to be for me. We are all sinners in need of the saving grace offered freely through faith in Jesus Christ.

But I found myself trapped somewhere between “not bad enough” and “not good enough.” So how could I Come?

“…come receive…”

But as we were singing this familiar invitation on Sunday morning after a message focused on the rest we are to find in Christ, the call to Come was no longer just for someone else.

It was for me.

And not just in an intellectual I-know-we’re-all-sinners-saved-by-grace sort of way. But rather in an intimate I-know-in-the-depth-of-my-soul sort of way.

I, too, can find rest, peace, nourishment, and life by {once again} coming just as I am. With all my fears and failures. With all my hopes and successes.

Yes, the invitation to Come is still for the beggar, the thief and the wounded.

But this invitation is also for me.

And this invitation is also for you.

The invitation to Come is for all.

“…come and live forever…”

The Best Kind of Exhausted

“You [Lord] stir man to take pleasure in praising you, because you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”
– St. Augustine

 

 
I am exhausted.
 
After months (for some, even years) of much prayer, planning, and preparation, my church choir spent this past weekend rehearsing, recording, and re-recording a live worship album for the purpose of equipping those within our congregation, missionaries across the world, and persons we probably have yet to envision with a sampling of the music that has been significant in the life of the church, so that they may worship and proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ along with us. 
 
Even from my rather small position as a second-row alto singing in between two basses in a choir of 100+ people serving alongside a large team cconsisting of tech experts, a talented orchestra, a children’s choir and a youth choir (bringing the total number of participants close to 300), it was quite an amazing experience of unashamed, powerful, passionate, sing-your-heart-out sort of worship that spanned several hours. . .even days.
 
And although this morning in the aftermath my eyes may be heavy, my body may feel fatigued, and my spirit may be weary, my heart is anything but restless.
 
Yes, I am exhausted.
 
But it’s the best kind of exhausted as my heart – my very being –  has been refreshed and satisfied in a way that can only be attributed to the power of the Holy Spirit.

 
“Oh, my hope is in the Lord, forevermore…”