Tag Archives: music

“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…”

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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?

10 Most Played Worship Songs on My iTunes

Call me crazy, but I typically listen to worship music while I walk on the treadmill (well, that or I read) because it motivates, focuses, and challenges me far more than music with a faster or more consistent beat, but with empty and meaningless lyrics. And really, there’s just something so satisfying about worshiping your heart out during a work out.

So these are some of the most played songs from my worship playlists that frequently accompany my walks. And in the name of full disclosure, I’ll just go right ahead and say it … this list reflects the current 10 most played worship songs, not necessarily of all time, though there is some overlap.

1. God is Able – Hillsong

This is such a powerful song. When I need to be confronted with my own smallness (and trust me, that’s often), this is one of my first choices.

2. All is Grace – Shaun Groves

From his album Third World Symphony, this is one of my favorites. I listen to it a lot. The lyrics and melody are simple and full of truth.

3. All I Have is Christ – Sovereign Grace Music

This is probably one of the best worship songs I have ever heard. The lyrics are so, so powerful and Christ-centered.

4. Just As I Am – Travis Cottrell

Love this: “I come broken to be mended, I come wounded to be healed, I come desperate to be rescued, I come empty to be filled. I come guilty to be pardoned by the blood of Christ the Lamb, and I’m welcomed with open arms, praise God, just as I am.”

5. The River – Brian Doerksen

With lyrics rich in the message of forgiveness, this song has been in the running of most played worship songs for several years (long before I even had an iTunes account). And this experience in Greece makes the song even sweeter.

6. Redeemer – Kutless

Classic worship song. Modernized by Kutless. Powerful as ever.

7. 10,000 Reasons – Matt Redman

There are hardly words to express how much I love this song. “For all Your goodness I will keep on singing, 10,000 reasons for my heart to find. Bless the Lord, O, my soul…worship His holy name…”

8. More Than Amazing – Lincoln Brewster

Because yes, “…forever our God, You’re more than enough, You are amazing.”

9. Worthy is the Lamb – Hillsong

Another one that’s probably been in the top 10 list for several years now. Reflecting on the cross and proclaiming that Christ is worthy never gets old.

10. My Hope – Tommy Coomes Band

I first heard this song when I was serving as a summer missionary in college. A couple other summer missionaries and I helped at the book/media table for the Franklin Graham Crusade in Baltimore, and the Tommy Coomes Band led worship for the event. It remains a favorite to this day.

So, tell me, what are some of your top 10 most played songs?

How Do You Choose?

There’s not enough positive self-talk in the world to cover this feeling.

Mistakes leave me crippled. Uncertainties leave me paralyzed. Inadequacies leave me empty and ashamed.

I am a failure. I am a hypocrite. I am broken beyond repair.

I have lost this battle.

Yet in a three-day period in which opening The Word seems an impossibility, the Lord is gracious enough to speak truth through music with Biblically grounded and theologically sound lyrics.

“I come broken to be mended, I come wounded to be healed, I come desperate to be rescued, I come empty to be filled. I come guilty to be pardoned by the blood of Christ the Lamb, and I’m welcomed with open arms, praise God, just as I am.” – Just As I Am by Travis Cottrell

And so I choose.

“I lift my hands to believe again. You are my refuge, You are my strength. As I pour out my heart these things I remember. You are faithful God forever. Let faith arise.” – I Lift My Hands by Chris Tomlin

I choose the Faithful One through the failure. I choose surrender through the weakness. I choose faith through the unknown.

I am a worshiper and I am a witness.

I choose Him.

Because He chose me first. Because He is all I have. Because He is.

“Oh, Father, use my ransomed life in any way You choose. And let my song forever be my only boast is You. Hallelujah! All I have is Christ. Hallelujah! Jesus is my life.” – All I Have is Christ by Sovereign Grace Music

How do you choose?

—–

Called to Worship

Tonight during choir rehearsal, I and my 13 fellow care team leaders shared a devotion with our entire worship ministries team based on a list from Rory Noland’s book, The Heart of the Artist. Entitled The Difference Between Volunteering and Being Called into God’s Service (and specifically addressing worship ministries), the list of 12 points outlines the various distinctions between one who participates with the mindset of a volunteer and one who serves because they are called of God to worship.

One of the many verses that supports this list is 1 Chronicles 15:16:

“David also commanded the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their brothers as the singers who should play loudly on musical instruments, on harps and lyres and cymbals, to raise sounds of joy.”

In the middle of a passage where David is giving commands and instructions regarding how to properly handle the Ark of the Covenant, the very presence of the Lord, he turns his attention to music.

And in the next few verses that follow, we see the appointment of specific individuals who were chosen and called by name to serve the Lord through music.

Leaving no room for a halfhearted approach, they were told to play loudly, to use their talents well, and to raise the sounds of joy, to worship passionately.

Because they weren’t just volunteers stepping up to fill a position due to a need. Rather, they had been individually chosen and appointed to a task, a service, that only they could fulfill.

They were called to worship.

**ps: i’ll be back tomorrow evening with a devo thought from this past week’s Scripture reading (if that makes no sense to you, see this post for further details)**

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)

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…”