Posts Tagged ‘Kingdom of God’

This weekend, we were talking about the Biblical perspective on citizenship, and how our citizenship as believers is with Christ in His kingdom, from Philippians 3:17-21. Joe preaching about imitating Christ and our spiritual leaders rather than pretending as imposters, seeking more of ourselves rather than more of Christ in us. We sought to support this message by focusing on the authority of Jesus as the King of kings, His love for us even though we were His enemies, and the fact that He is coming again to set everything right and to make everything new.

For the band, we did something a little different, having only acoustic guitar, bass, and rhodes (on our Motif 8), with a single vocal. It was very simple and raw, and I think it was a refreshing change of pace for both the team and the congregation. I never want what we do on a given weekend to become rote, where we just know exactly what to expect. As the saying goes, “familiarity breeds contempt.” Contempt, in this expression, is displayed by complete disregard and ignoring of the value of something due to saturation and familiarity. I never want our music, which ought to always keep our eyes pointed at Christ and engage us in the story of who He is and what He has done, to become something so familiar that we ignore its message and therefore, its power. Sometimes surprises in the songs we sing or the way they are presented are what is necessary to jar us and remind us of our purpose in singing together in our gatherings.

Here’s our set from this weekend:

Pre-Service – “I’ll Fly Away” (G) [Albert E. Brumley]
Call to Worship – Psalm 47:6-8
“Hosanna (Praise is Rising)” (G) [Paul Baloche, Brenton Brown]
Welcome/Prayer/Offering/Announcements
“Because of Your Love” (G) [Phil Wickham]
“Son of God” (G) [Tim Neufeld, Jon Neufeld, Ed Cash]
Message – Philippians 3:17-21 – “An Appraisal of Citizenship” [Joe Hishmeh]
Communion Preparation
Communion Song – “In Exile” (Em) [Thrice]
Response Song – “Hosanna” (G) [Brooke Fraser]

“I’ll Fly Away” – This song is always an energetic one in our congregation (and, I would guess, everywhere else, too.). I think this song strikes the proper tone regarding our ultimate destination. We should celebrate the fact that we will be with God forever, and we should long for that day! We should never settle down in this world and feel that we have arrived or achieved all that we desired. We should always have a sort of unsettling feeling, that we are not truly home. We won’t be home until we see Jesus’ face.

“Hosanna (Praise is Rising)” – This is one of the best “call to worship” songs available. It has the feel of our praise “rising” up to God and calling out to Him. The most significant in the song is in the chorus: “Hosanna, Hosanna/ Come have Your way among us/ We welcome You here, Lord Jesus.” That should be our prayer every time we encounter Jesus in worship, whether personal or gathered together – Lord, have Your way in my life and in us as the body of Christ.

“Because of Your Love” – I love the focus of this song, speaking to the thought of 1 John 4:19, “We love because He first loved us” (ESV). Because of the love of God, we have life, and the proper response ought to be love in return, expressed in and by the things we say and do in this life. Our lives should be lived in thanksgiving to God, seeking to make much of Him with everything we do in this life.

“Son of God” – I love the writers’ attempt to give a complete picture of Jesus in this song. It speaks of His role as Creator, Eternal Son of God, Almighty and Omnipotent, the Holy One, the Lover of my soul, the fulfillment of prophecy, the promised Messiah, the coming King, and the one who is worthy of all our praise. It is a song that our congregation has grabbed onto, and sings wholeheartedly. I love that we can sing this powerful truth together! It’s a beautiful thing.

“In Exile” – This song is one that I have wanted to do since it was released on the Beggars album around two years ago. This song is such a powerful statement about our citizenship and our true home being stored up with God in heaven. If we are in Christ, we are citizens of a better country, a heavenly city (Heb. 11:16). We look forward to that day, when we see Him face to face, and will finally be fulfilled and complete in His presence. We cannot truly rest until that day. In this song, I love the imagery and lyric of the chorus: “My heart is filled with songs of forever/ A city that endures, where all is made new…” Dustin Kensrue is an incredible songwriter and lyricist. Check out his solo stuff (Please Come Home, This Good Night Is Still Everywhere) and his recent work with Thrice (Vheissu, The Alchemy Index, Beggars).

“In Exile”
Thrice 

VERSE 1
I am an exile, a sojourner
A citizen of some other place
All I’ve seen is just a glimmer in a shadowy mirror
But I know one day, I’ll see face to face
 
VERSE 2
I am a nomad, a wanderer
I have nowhere to lay my head down
There’s no point in putting roots too deep when I’m movin’ on
Not settling for this unsettling town
 
CHORUS
My heart is filled with songs of forever
A city that endures, where all is made new
I know I don’t belong here, I’ll never
Call this place my home, I’m just passin’ through
 
VERSE 3
I am a pilgrim, a voyager
I won’t rest until my lips touch the shore
Of the land that I’ve been longing for as long as I’ve lived
Where there’ll be no pain or tears anymore

“Hosanna” – This song ended up being an even more fitting way to end than I thought it would be. Joe really emphasized how we are to live in “suspense,” waiting eagerly for Christ’s return. Everything will be changed, because we will see Him face to face. We should live with that expectation and that desire. If we are truly seeking more of Christ, His return is the complete fulfillment of that desire.

It was a refreshing weekend of worship, and I really enjoyed worshiping together with the band in this format. God is faithful, and I am looking forward to the day He comes like He promised.

I hope you had a great day of worship wherever you were. Please check out Sunday Set Lists over at The Worship Community, and leave your thoughts and comments below. If you were with us at Fellowship this weekend, how were you affected by your experience? If you weren’t with us here, have you experienced anything similar that stirred you or changed your perspective on worship?

In the Son,

Bill

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Here’s our set from this weekend:

“I Will Go” (F#m) [Starfield – Tim Neufeld, Jon Neufeld]
Call To Worship – 2 Cor. 5:20-21
“Say Say” (A) [Kristian Stanfill, Chris Tomlin, Christy Nockels]
Living Water International Honduras Report
Welcome/Announcements/Greeting
“Holy is the Lord” (G) [Chris Tomlin, Jesse Reeves, et al]
“I Stand Amazed” (G) [Charles Hutchinson Gabriel, arr. by Chris Tomlin]
“Wonderful Maker” (G) [Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman]
Message – “I Believe: We Are”  [Joe Hishmeh]
Response: “Mighty to Save” [Ben Fielding, Reuben Morgan]

This weekend of worship was yet another good one. The team gelled well, played solidly, and was sensitive to where the Lord was leading during each of the four services. I feel like the entire worship team is getting some traction for moving forward. I felt like the worship team was all prepared for the week’s music, and it was somewhat easy to put everything together as a result. We were able to make some changes on the fly as people were responding to God, and it was a beautiful thing. There were moments this weekend when the congregation was singing louder than I’ve ever heard them. I am very excited about what the Lord is doing in our midst.

This week has been one where I learned a great deal about the landscape of our worship ministry and where things have been until today. My worship associate, Jason, did some investigating, and dug up what our church has sung in worship since the switch to four services back in August. I was a little surprised by the results: 90 songs in 28 weeks. That comes out to a little more than 3.2 unique songs per week! What does that mean? It means people do not really have a chance to learn any of the songs or make them part of their worship vocabulary. It means our people are stuck staring at the projector screen trying to see the words and learn the songs.

My takeaway? We need to start repeating songs more often, so we can teach our people and get them “off the page” just like we want the band to be “off the page.” When we don’t have to stay glued to a screen or our music to know the song, then it is part of our vocabulary, and we are able to use it easily to express ourselves to God. Then, it comes from within us. Then we can truly put ourselves into what we are doing, rather than worrying more about what we are doing. We can focus on doing it. My normal method for doing this is to repeat a new song for three weeks, and surround it with songs that are already part of the worship vocabulary of our people.

My first opportunity for implementing this was “Say Say.” This was our third week singing this song, and I believe we have now added that song to our worship vocabulary as a congregation. I think the song communicates a simple but strong message to us, challenging us to stand up and “declare” that “Jesus is King.” Our praise of our great God ought not to be something that only happens within the walls of a church’s building, but ought to be happening for the whole world to see. Our exalting of God ought to be a very public thing, both individually and corporately. This idea can be extended to all areas of our lives, as living our lives as living sacrifices is how we worship our God on a daily basis. Thus, loving and serving others is a way that we declare the glory of our God to our world. It is easy to hunker down, get comfortable, and feel safe in our space each week, but what we do weekly as the church gathered together should be a culmination of a week lived in daily worship of our God. That is my prayer for us.

In the same vein, we introduced Starfield’s “I Will Go,” which is one of my favorite newer songs. It is a very driving, high-energy song, but the message warrants it, I think. Here’s the lyric of that song:

VERSE 1
To the desperate eyes and reaching hands
To the suffering and the need
To the ones the world has cast aside
Where you want me I will be

CHORUS
I will go, I will go, I will go, Lord send me
To the world, to the lost, to the poor and hungry
Take everything I am
I’m clay within your hands
I will go, I will go send me

VERSE 2
Let me not be blind with privilege
Give me eyes to see the pain
Let the blessing You’ve poured out on me
Not be spent on me in vain
Let this life be used for change

BRIDGE
I wanna live for You,
Go where You lead me
I wanna follow You

I still get the feeling that I’m pushing the envelope a little for some of our people, but I think we are being challenged as a people by the lyrics of these songs and by the messages that are comprising this “I Believe” series. I think it is worth the risk of pushing a little bit. “I Will Go” is a song that can work in a variety of treatments, and I have tried it successfully as a response song with more of an acoustic feel to it. It will be one we use frequently, because there are not many songs that say it quite so boldly.

For the second set of songs, we put together a few modern worship standards: “Holy is the Lord,” “I Stand Amazed (How Marvelous),” and “Wonderful Maker.” “Wonderful Maker” was very fitting for Joe’s message today about the image of God and the fall of humanity. It deals directly with God’s goodness in creation and God’s declaration that what He made was “good.” It also deals with God’s goodness in redemption. This song holds a special place in my life, because it signaled a turning point in my worship leadership. This song is solely focused on God and who He is, and barely even mentions us in the process (“we” is used once in the third verse). Many of the worship songs I sang in youth group and elsewhere were about the singers and what God could do for us. This song was markedly different in that regard. This song helped me to see what true worship was – about God, to God, and for God. It was not for us. From that point late in 2002 (after Chris Tomlin’s Not to Us was released), my view of, and priorities in, worship music were changed. Every time I sing or hear this song, I remember that change, and I am called back to the true priority in worship, which is our great God and Savior.

We closed the service out with “Mighty to Save,” which was the highlight of the weekend for me. Joe’s message was a heavy one dealing with our depravity. He didn’t pull any punches, and helped all of us see ourselves and our sin clearly in light of God’s holiness and goodness. When we see God as He is, we see ourselves rightly. And when we see the depth and gravity of our own sin, we see just how great and truly amazing the grace of God really is. When we came to “Mighty to Save,” this was our context. When we sang, “Savior, He can move the mountains/ Our God is mighty to save/ He is mighty to save,” we meant it, for we had just finished hearing and reading the Word of God as it spoke to our spiritual condition without Christ. The congregation was singing out at this point in each of the services, and it was a powerful moment of worship. To God be the glory. May we never forget that we were dead in our sins when Christ came in to rescue us and make us alive.

I feel privileged for the opportunity to build and develop our worship & arts ministry at Fellowship Bible Church, and I am thrilled about what the future holds for our congregation!

I hope you had a great weekend of worship wherever you were.

In the Son,

Bill

Sunday Set Lists

Here’s our set from my first weekend on staff with Fellowship Bible Church in Topeka, KS:

Pre-Service – “Kingdom” [Kristian Stanfill]
Call to Worship
“Our God” [Jonas Myrin, Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin]
Welcome/Offering/Announcements
“Glory to God Forever” [Steve Fee, Vicky Beeching]
“How Great is Our God” [Chris Tomlin]
“How Great Thou Art” (chorus only)
“Lord of All” [Kristian Stanfill]
Message – Pastor Joe Hishmeh
“All to Us” [Chris Tomlin]

This weekend went really well for us. It has been a very crazy week for  my family and for me, as we made the 1300 mile move from Lakeland, FL to Topeka, KS from Monday night through Wednesday, and got here right in the middle of a bunch of snow! Talk about change! God is faithful, and He has seen us through it all. He moved during all four of the weekend services, and He spoke to each of us powerfully through the word that Joe shared about being a missional community and loving the people of this world with the love of Christ. I know I was challenged and called to be godly versus just being normal. I think the chorus of “Kingdom” says it well: “We are the kingdom of God/ We are an army of love/ We carry truth to the world/ We are the kingdom of God.”

I hope you had a great weekend of worship wherever you were.

Bill

Sunday Set Lists

Here’s our set from this past week:

“God is Alive” [Steve Fee, Eddie Kirkland]
“Our God” [Jonas Myrin, Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin]
“You Never Let Go” [Matt Redman, Beth Redman]
“Lord of All” [Kristian Stanfill]
“Beautiful” [Phil Wickham]
Message [Pastor Jay]
INV: “Never Be the Same” [original]

The band and team did a phenomenal job this past week in worship. My friend, Larry, filled in on guitar for my last week, and he did admirably. The rest of the band was right on as usual. It felt like a bit of a “best of” morning, where we pulled out some of our definitive songs over the past few years. “Our God” has become something of an anthem for our congregation. “You Never Let Go” describes my journey with Christ as well as any other song, especially at this point. “Lord of All” has become a summary statement for us as a congregation: There is none so high and holy/ King of kings, the one and only/ You are adored, You are the Lord of all.” We finished the worship set with “Beautiful, which I thought was particularly relevant given that it was my last day. The last verse looks to the day of consummation, when all believers will be gathered together as the glorious bride in the presence of Christ: When we arrive at eternity’s shore/ Where death is just a memory and tears are no more/ We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring/ Your bride will come together and we’ll sing, ‘You’re beautiful.'” I thought it was fitting to end emphasizing that this is not really the end, but rather a parting of ways as we continue to expand the kingdom of God and to go where we are needed for God’s purposes. We will all be together again soon, and we will be together forever in the presence of our only hope, Jesus Christ, and we will sing the song of the redeemed!

There aren’t really words to describe all the feelings that went with this past weekend. It was my last Sunday leading for the 9:30 service for the church, and although it was a great day of worshiping together, it was also a very sad day in some ways. I feel that I have poured my life into that service, and it has come a long way in the 4 1/2 years that it has been in my charge. It is awesome to see what it is compared to what it was when I arrived here. I am so thankful for how the Spirit of God has transformed that service and has grown us together over these years. I am so thankful for the relationships that have made my experience here what it has been. To think that it was probably the last time I would be leading beside Pastor Jay and the other leaders of the church is difficult to imagine. It is hard to even envision worshiping with a different family of believers. It will be strange to be anywhere else.

I pray for God’s richest blessings on the people of First Baptist Church at the Mall, and I leave with this note from Acts 20:32 (the context captures my heart as well): “And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”

I love you, dear church.

In the Son,

Bill

Sunday Set Lists | www.theworshipcommunity.com

(Currently Listening to Quantity is Job 1, by Five Iron Frenzy)

Here’s our set from this past week:

“Kingdom” [Kristian Stanfill]
“Salvation’s Chorus” [Todd Fields]
“Glory to God Forever” [Steve Fee]
“God of This City” [Bluetree]
“Jesus Paid It All” [traditional w/ add. chorus by Alex Nifong]
Message: “It’s Your Serve–Build an Altar” [Pastor Jay]
INV: “I Want to Love You” [Todd Fields]

This week felt pretty good overall. I love it when the church sings “Kingdom” all together (“We are the Kingdom of God/ We are an army of love/ We carry truth to the world/ We are the Kingdom of God”). I also love the concept of “Salvation’s Chorus,” in that believers have a song that others cannot sing (even the angels), namely the song of the redeemed. We have been rescued from sin and death, and because of this we have much to celebrate. “Glory to God Forever” has become a major prayer of my life–specifically the bridge: “Take my life and let it be/ All for You and for Your glory/ Take my life and let it be Yours.“Jesus Paid it All” is always one of my favorites, as the church celebrates by singing, “O praise the One who paid my debt/ And raised this life up from the dead.” I don’t think we can sum up the reason for our worship more succinctly than that. I think that’s why it’s so powerful a lyric for us to sing. There are certain things that we hear or say that strike a chord within the believer, as the Spirit confirms the truth of those things and stirs us because of it. This is one of those truth statements that provokes that kind of response from believers.

As I approach my last week leading the worship in music for Church at the Mall, many things are flooding my mind as we lead. I look at the students and feel burdened for their future, their leadership, and their ministry in the church. I find myself praying over them as we sing out to God about being the Kingdom of God (“Kingdom”), and asking God to take our lives and let them be all for Him and for His glory (“Glory to God Forever”). I find myself celebrating what God has accomplished in our midst over these past 4 1/2 years. I look out over the assembly of believers and see a huge transformation from the way things were in the beginning of 2006, with nearly half as many people meeting in the old Montgomery Wards, and many blank stares as people didn’t really know what to do with the “music time” of the service. Many enjoyed the music, but did not feel the need or the motivation to participate in it. Many just spectated. Some just dreaded it. As we’ve grown together over these past few years, more and more of us are engaging in the songs and owning them, responding to God with thanksgiving and praise for who He is and what He has done. I see people passionately singing out to God. I see raised hands. I see people dwelling on the truths that we’re singing together. I love it. It is hard to leave something that I have given so much of my life to building. I am so thankful to have been a part of God’s working in Church at the Mall.

I hope you had a great day of worship wherever you were this week.

In the Son,

Bill

(Sunday Set Lists)

Here’s our set from this weekend:

“You Are” [Todd Fields]
“Kingdom” [Kristian Stanfill]
OFF – “Jesus Messiah” [Jesse Reeves, Chris Tomlin, Daniel Carson, et al]

Message – Find Your Passion [Dr. Jay Dennis]
INV – “I Want to Love You” [Todd Fields]
Lord’s Supper
“Lamb of God” [original]
“Because of Your Love” [Phil Wickham]
Closing – “Revelation Song” [Jennie Lee Riddle]

This morning was another great morning. We celebrated 16 baptisms, as well as the Lord’s Supper. Everything about this morning pointed to Jesus and what He accomplished for us in His death and resurrection. That is what it is all about. Praise God for such opportunities to remind ourselves, as the body of Christ, aboutt the gospel message. There is salvation in no other name – He is our only hope.

I hope you had a great day of worship wherever you were this week.

As always, check out Sunday Set Lists.

In the Son,
Bill

This Sunday was a great day of worship! God presence was very tangible in our midst, and as the Word was preached, I think people’s lives were changed. One lady was saved, and then baptized at the beginning of the next service. It was  beautiful thing to witness.

Here’s our set from yesterday:

“Kingdom” [Kristian Stanfill]
“Salvation’s Chorus” [Todd Fields]
“Our God” [Matt Redman, Jonas Myrin, Chris Tomlin, Christy Nockels]
“Jesus Messiah” [Daniel Carson, Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash, and Jesse Reeves}
“Because of Your Love” [Phil Wickham]
MESSAGE: The Psalm 119 Method for Reading and Studying the Bible – Pastor Jay
INVITATION: “Nothing But the Blood” [Matt Redman]
OFFERTORY: “Cannons” [Phil Wickham”

While there is a lot of stuff weighing heavily in my life, I felt great about this morning. It seems to me that God is most at work and most present when we are weakest and most dependent on Him. Sounds like the Scripture, doesn’t it? (2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV): “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”) I have witnessed the truth of that statement firsthand over the past few weeks. God is most glorified when He gets all the credit for something, not when we put on a good show and people think it’s all because of our own abilities – that’s my $0.02, at least.

Yesterday was one of those mornings. Everything did not go perfectly – the click battery died, we lost tempo a few times, etc. – but God was in the midst of it, and He was working in all of our lives. I am excited for the future as God continues to show me what it means to depend on Him completely. I am a slow-learner. I don’t struggle much with faith or trusting the Father, but I struggle greatly with depending on Him. I tend to lean toward independence. I am comfortable when the ball is in my court and I can make the decisions and make things happen. To be honest, I enjoy getting recognized  for those things, too. However, God does not receive glory when I go my own way and do things in my own strength. He receives the most glory when He is the source and the lifeline for everything we do as believers. In reality, nothing of any eternal benefit happens in our own strength. After all, it is “‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty” (Zech. 4:6).

I hope you had a great day of worship wherever you were.

May God bless you with the knowledge of His presence, and with complete dependence on Him, that He may receive all the glory.

Bill

p.s. be sure to check out Sunday Set Lists over at http://www.theworshipcommunity.com to see what other worshipers experienced around the globe!