Posts Tagged ‘Philippians’

This past weekend, we continued in our fifth message of our series – “Seven.” Our pastor, Joe Hishmeh, shared from Philippians 2:3-4 about the importance of having healthy friendships in following Christ. The best way to have great friendships is to be a great friend–one who loves like Jesus has loved us. Joe called us to being available, building up, accepting, enduring, sharpening, and understanding in our friendships. It was a great call for us, and it was something I needed to hear this weekend. You can listen to or watch the entire message and service here.

Here’s our service plan from this weekend:

“Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)” (G) [Paul Baloche, Brenton Brown]
“Unchanging” (G) [Chris Tomlin]

Greeting Time/Announcements
Message – “Seven: Friends – Philippians 2:3-4” [Joe Hishmeh]
“One Thing Remains” (Bb) [Brian Johnson, Jeremy Riddle, Christa Black]
“How He Loves” (Bb) [John Mark McMillan]
“Everlasting God” (Bb) [Brenton Brown, Ken Riley]


Thoughts: This weekend was a great Mothers’ Day Weekend. Joe’s message was very challenging, and our times of singing were really moving. It was highlight to sing “One Thing Remains” and “How He Loves” together again. I really enjoy both of those those songs because they portray the love of God for us so uniquely and powerfully.

Since Joe was talking about friendship and how our relationships ought to reflect the gospel and how Christ gave Himself up for us, you can see that we sang primarily of Christ’s unfailing love and grace for us. I believe when we sing of true character of God, we are also in a sense calling ourselves to reflect that character in our own lives. What we praise, in some way we also desire to be. If we want to love like Christ, let’s worship Him for His amazing love for us, which He demonstrated at the cross.

– Bill

What were your thoughts or experiences from your worship gathering this weekend?


This weekend, we focused on the topic of contentment from Philippians 4:10-13. In this passage, Paul writes that in every circumstance, he has learned to be content. He is able to do this through the strength that Christ gives. Joe emphasized from this passage that our expectations for increase and improved life status (in the west, anyway) makes it easy for us to be discontent with our lives. Our idea of “normal” is faulty. Our idea of normal needs to change, and we need to trust Christ in any and every circumstance in our lives. This subject is something we all need to hear on a regular basis, because it is easy to be drawn away into discontentment and distrust. Our songs for the weekend focused on trust, peace, and contentment, as well as the power and sufficiency of Christ. He is worthy of our lives and our worship, no matter the circumstances.

Here’s our set from this weekend:

Pre-Service – “Those Who Trust” (Em) [Don Chaffer]
Call to Continue Worship – Psalm 95:1-3
“Let Me Sing” (Bb) [Todd Fields]
Welcome/Offering/Announcements/Greeting Time
“It Is Well” (Bb) [Horatio G. Spafford, Todd Fields]
“You Never Let Go” (Bb) [Matt Redman]
“A Mighty Fortress” (C) [Christy Nockels]
Message – “An Appraisal of Contentment” [Joe Hishmeh]
Response – “Desert Song” (D) [Brooke Fraser]

“Those Who Trust” – Taken from Psalm 125, This is a favorite of our congregation, because it celebrates the firm foundation we have in Christ in a very distinct way. It’s a lot of fun for our team and our congregation. Our discipleship, David Hinkle, played his trumpet on this one, and he is always a great addition to the team!

“Let Me Sing” – This was our third consecutive week teaching this song, and I loved using it at the top of the service, after the call to worship this week. It was fitting, coming after reading Psalm 95:1-3 together, which repeats the phrase, “Let us…” followed by several commands of worship. I love the message of this song, as it communicates the “why” of worship – we respond in worship and thanksgiving because God is who He is, and because He has done what He has – He has redeemed us!

“It Is Well” – This song, which we have used a few times over this series, was too good a fit for this weekend’s message for us not to include it. I think it really echoes the truth of Philippians 4:10-13 in a strong way, and helps us to connect the truth to our hearts and minds. It gives us an simple way to respond to these truths through singing our commitment and trust to God.

“You Never Let Go” – This was another song that we have been teaching during this series, and it was another great fit for the message this week. These two songs have made me see more clearly how certain songs are great fits for a series of messages, and not just a single message. On both of these, it is apparent that much of our congregation knows them, and hardly needs to look to the screens for guidance. It’s a beautiful thing.

“A Mighty Fortress” – We haven’t done this song in a while at Fellowship (I think the last time was during the interview process), but it is one of my favorites. It is probably my favorite song off of Christy Nockels’ solo album. Sarah Oldberg led this song, and she did an awesome job pointing to Christ through it. I had really enjoyed singing harmony with her. I love how they arranged the song because it has some great builds and accents that help focus us on the lyric, which powerfully points to the Lord as God and King, along with many other attributes of His. This is a song that the church needs to sing, much like “Lord of All” and a few others.

“Desert Song” – We responded to the message with this song, because it really sums up and describes what it is to praise God through any and all circumstances. Sarah led this song as well. This song has a very unique feel to it, especially for Hillsong – it almost feels Celtic in a way. At any rate, it was a very appropriate response to the Word, and I think we all walked away from this week challenged by the truth.

It was a good weekend. The team did a great job leading, and participation from the congregation was solid. I believe the focus of the weekend remained constantly on Christ, His gospel, who He is, and what He has done.

I hope you had a great weekend of worship, and that Christ was lifted high! Check out The Worship Community to see what other leaders and worshipers experienced in their congregations this weekend.

In the Son,


This weekend, we focused on the subject of maturity from Philippians 4:2-7. Joe dealt with disagreements, rejoicing, and communicating our needs to God through prayer. His emphasis was that we should seek spiritual maturity and should turn to prayer first, to truly rely on God in everything. I was challenged by the call to pray first rather than worry or turn anywhere else. It is easy for us to turn elsewhere to seek help, but God should be the one we seek first. Our first thought should be toward God, to pour out our hearts to Him.

Here’s our set from this weekend:

Pre-Service – “Forever” (G) [Chris Tomlin]
Call to Worship –
“Unchanging” (G) [Chris Tomlin]
Welcome/ Offering/ Announcements/ Greeting
“Let Me Sing” (Bb) [Todd Fields]
“It Is Well” (Bb) [Horatio G. Spafford, Todd Fields]
“You Never Let Go” (Bb) [Matt Redman]
Message – “An Appraisal of Maturity” [Joe Hishmeh]
Response – “From The Inside Out” [Joel Houston]

Because of the focus of this weekend, we went in the direction of prayer and trusting in God, which results in confidence and hope, and enables us to rejoice and to live in peace. “Forever” and “Unchanging” point to the faithfulness and immutability of God. “Let Me Sing” expresses the desire to worship God and thank Him for all that He is and all that He has done, specifically through the cross. “It Is Well” and “You Never Let Go” remind us that no matter what comes in this life, God is with us, and we have nothing to fear. They cling to the promises of Romans 8:28-39 and declare that we will trust in God, no matter what our circumstances are. Finally, “From The Inside Out” reminds us that the only way we will be able to grow towards spiritual maturity is through the power of Christ working within us.

“Forever” – This is a song that our congregation hasn’t done in a while, and it was good to bring it to our attention again, because it communicates the essence of so many Psalms, where the psalmist calls the people of God to recall who God is and what He has done, and to respond with the statement, “His steadfast love endures forever” (e.g. Psalm 118 ESV).

“Unchanging” – This song focuses in on the truth of Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (ESV), along with the concept of God’s “steadfast love.” He never changes, and His love for us never changes. He is faithful and true, and He is constant. His promises are true because He is true. Our status with Him is assured because He is unchanging. I love the declaration of this song, because it reminds us of the truth of this great attribute of God.

“Let Me Sing”This song hadn’t been done with our congregation for a while, but it was one that I loved when I was serving in Florida. It does a good job of reminding us of the reason to worship Jesus – He bore our sins and died in our place to reconcile us to God. The chorus sings, “Let me sing/ Louder than creation to You/ For the pain You bore in Your body/ To bring my soul to You/ Let me shine/ Brighter than the stars in the sky/ An offering of praise all my life/ To You, my Holy King.”

“It Is Well” – Earlier this week, my wife and I were watching a documentary about disaster flooding, and much of the episode was spent focused on New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina. As we watched and saw images of the city and the flooding, my mind was overwhelmed with memories about that seemingly chaotic time in our lives together. I remember packing up on Saturday morning to head over to Baton Rouge for the “weekend” and ready to get back to school at the seminary on Monday. I remember loading up our cat, two of my guitars, some work clothes (for boarding up our friends’ windows), and the few photo albums that we had unpacked (we only moved there four weeks earlier). On Sunday night, as the storm grew, we knew this was not going to be a small matter in our lives. We headed further north to increase our distance from the storm for the peace of mind of our families. As we drove, we had a serious talk about our situation, and the fact that we may lose all of our earthly possessions, aside from what we had in our tiny Honda Civic. We were confident that we would be okay, with or without all that “stuff.” Our statement was, “It is just stuff. We are together and had each other. By the time we ended up at my mother-in-law’s house in southern Illinois, the flooding began. And the possibility of losing all our material possessions began looking more like reality. This song really communicates our hearts during that time, and the lyric of the chorus says it especially well: “It is well, it is well/ Through the storm I am held/ It is well, it is well with my soul.”

One confession about this one: in the third service this weekend (Sunday 9 AM), I mistakenly sang the second verse twice (once in place of the third verse). I’m not upset about singing that one twice, because it is probably the strongest one in the song, singing of our forgiveness through the cross. I didn’t even realize I had started singing it again until midway through the verse. Whoops. 🙂 Our Media Shout man, Shane, was all over it, and had it on the right verse before I even noticed I started verse 2 again. I was humbled, which is never a bad thing…

“You Never Let Go” – This is another song that expresses our confidence in our God and the fact that He is truly with us. He never leaves us and never forsakes. Indeed, He never lets go of us as His children, who have been adopted through Christ’s sacrifice for us. This song really puts words to my trust, and encourages me to deepen that confidence in Christ.

“From The Inside Out” – We used this song for the angle of transformation, growth, and maturity, to support Joe’s message. He said that we should desire spiritual maturity, because “the Lord is at hand.” This song effectively communicates that desire to be transformed from within, and I feel that it was a good way to end our time together this weekend.

In all, it was a solid weekend. The team served really well in all of the services. I felt a little tired from a looming cold, but I was rejuvenated by our times together. Jesus was lifted high. He is faithful, and we have nothing to fear in Him. He is good, and His promises are true and unchanging. Let us each place our confidence in Him in every situation.

I hope you had a great weekend of worship! Join the discussion below: have you had a moment in leading when you messed up the words of a song? Check out The Worship Community to see what some other leaders experienced this weekend.

In the Son,



This week, we focused on Philippians 2:1-11, and dealt with putting others ahead of ourselves. It was a challenging message for those of us who are prone to selfishness (me!), and called us to the selflessness of Christ, who emptied Himself and became obedient even to death on a cross, so that we could be redeemed. As a result, Scripture says, God has exalted Him and given Him the name which is above all names, that at His name, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. In a similar way, the Bible says that the one who wants to find his own life must first lose it. May we all lay our lives down for the kingdom of God and His purposes, and in doing so, may we find our true life in Him.

Here’s our set from this weekend:

Pre-Service – “Happy Day” (Bb) [Tim Hughes, Ben Cantelon]
Call to Worship – Revelation 4:8, 11
“Our God” (G) [Jonas Myrin, Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, Jesse Reeves]
Welcome/ Video/ Offering/ Announcements/ Prayer/ Greeting
“You Never Let Go” (Bb) [Matt Redman]
“Desert Song” (D) [Brooke Fraser]
Scripture reading – Philippians 2:3
“Lead Me to the Cross” (D) [Brooke Fraser]
Message – “An Appraisal of Attitude” [Joe Hishmeh]
Response – “Jesus Messiah” (G) [Daniel Carson, Jesse Reeves, Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash]

We began in the pre-service time with “Happy Day,” and I chose this song because it got us thinking about the cross, and what it accomplished for us. We benefited immensely because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross, yet He paid for our redemption with great suffering and anguish. He gave up His right to grasp His equality with God, and laid it down in obedience and willing sacrifice. He was generous with His own life, and had the attitude fo a servant rather than one of entitlement.

In the call to worship, practiced the command to “ascribe” praise and to the Lord. This means to attribute to God the truth about who He is and what He has done. I searched and struggled to find a passage that encapsulated this idea concisely, and I felt very comfortable with Revelation 4:8, 11 (ESV) –

Holy, holy, holy,
is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come!
Worthy are You,
our Lord and God,
To receive glory and
honor and power,
For You created all things,
And by Your will they existed
and were created.

We read this together as a congregation with this phrasing, and I think it set our hearts on Jesus’ surpassing worth and glory. I am feeling more and more compelled to point our people to Scripture and for us to read it together and respond together in different ways. I would guess that worship doesn’t get much more “Biblical” than that… I hope we begin to make the connection between these explicit worship directives and the ones that call us to worship by living our lives for our King and His kingdom, loving Him and loving our neighbor.

We immediately moved into “Our God,” because we just finished talking about the creative power of our God, and this song emphasizes some of that aspect in reference to miracles and His omnipotence. I love how this song resonates with God’s people, as we declare His greatness and power together, and then recognize that this same great and powerful God is for us. He is for His people, and He loves us, cares for us, and protects us. At the end of this song, I felt led to have all the instruments drop out as our people sang out the chorus, and it was a sweet moment that I didn’t want to end. It felt a little funny jumping from that into the announcements, but who cares?!?! We’re here to worship together, and it’s never too early to do so.

After the announcements, we led out with “You Never Let Go.” This was our third week singing this song together, and the chorus has taken on new meaning for our congregation (especially the Saturday night group) after last weekend, where we had to take shelter from funnel clouds in the area. I think we are getting this as a congregation, and God is reminding us of His faithfulness through it. Our congregation sings this song so well together. I am so thrilled with how we are responding to God together.

Then, Kelsey Thomsen led us in singing “Desert Song” and “Lead Me to the Cross.” This was Kelsey’s last weekend leading with us (for a while, at least), because she is heading off to physician assistant school this summer. It was a little bittersweet as a result, but I have enjoyed getting to see Kelsey’s heart for God’s people in worship over these past few months. I know God has great things in store for her and her ministry through worship. These songs spoke to the point of trusting in God no matter what, and obeying Him regardless of how afraid we may be. He is worthy of our lives’ obedience, no matter how we feel about it. He is worthy of our lives being give for the purpose of expanding His kingdom and His fame in the earth.

We responded to Joe’s challenging message with “Jesus Messiah,” which speaks clearly of Jesus’ laying down of His life for us. He is our model and example of sacrifice and of being a servant. When we look to Him, we see the pattern of our calling. We see what we are to be in Him. This song continues to grow on me, as I reminded of 2 Corinthians 5:21 and other verses which speak of the ridiculous gift Jesus has given us through His grace and through the cross. He is so good to us. May we be so generous with our own lives.

We had a few difficulties on Saturday night. One team member thought he was on for next weekend, and as a result, wasn’t able to get to rehearsal until an hour after we started. We ended up finishing our preparation very close to the start of the first service, and I forgot to communicate with the team that Kelsey was going to share before “Desert Song.” When I turned to look at Kelsey, the rhythm section jumped into the song, and the rest of us had to catch up. It was a minor train wreck, but we got back on track, and I believe God was glorified in spite of the problems. It has made me evaluate our lines of communication, both prior to and during the weekend. We can always improve. Sunday went very smoothly, and I was proud of how our team pressed on and kept trying to improve throughout the weekend, despite a slightly frustrating start. I am so thankful for the team of people we have here at Fellowship.

Overall, it was a powerful weekend of worship. I love it (sometimes begrudgingly), when God moves and works in our midst, when it seems like we have made it difficult. It just goes to show that we cannot manufacture worship. We cannot force it to happen. We cannot make people experience God. We are powerless to change lives at the heart level. Only God can do that. And He does. What we can do is be available and be humbled before our King, and trust that He will work in our midst. We can give Him our best and do what we can to facilitate (literally, “make it easy”) for our people to engage God in our worship gatherings. Let us serve our God and our people by trusting in our God and giving our best for Him and for them. He will take care of everything else.

I hope you had a great weekend of worship wherever you were (and hopefully didn’t have the problems we did!). Be sure to check out The Worship Community to see what other leaders and team members experienced in their worship gatherings this weekend. To God be all the glory!

In the Son,


This weekend in worship, we began a new series, The Appraisal of All Things. In it, we are digging into the epistle of Philippians, where Paul communicates with the church at Philippi about what matters most. Our set for the series involves a junked 40’s International truck and rusty tin, along with some junkyard images on our sidewalls. The thinking was that we are portraying things that were once very valuable, but now they are worthless pieces of junked rust. Paul said that he counted the things of this world “rubbish” in comparison to the joy of knowing Jesus Christ. Our hope through this series is for our church to put things in proper perspective, and “appraise” their worth in comparison to the matchless worth of Jesus.

Here’s our set from this weekend:

“All Because Of Jesus” (Bb) [Steve Fee]
Call to Worship – Psalm 63:3-5
“Marvelous Light” (B) [Charlie Hall]
Welcome/Offering/Announcements/Greeting Time
“Your Grace Is Enough” (G) [Matt Maher]
“Son of God” (G) [Jon Neufeld, Tim Neufeld, Ed Cash, Gordon Cochran]
“Wonderful Maker” (G) [Matt Redman and Chris Tomlin]
Message – “The Appraisal of All Things: He Who Began a Good Work in You” [Joe Hishmeh]
Response – “From the Inside Out” (C) [Joel Houston] 

(This will be a brief recap, because I am about to leave on a 23-hour road trip to visit friends and family in Florida.)

Because the thrust of Joe’s message was going to be on Philippians 1:6, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (ESV), I went with the theme of God creating us–both in the beginning and through Christ. Along these lines, we opened our services with “All Because of Jesus,” which emphasizes how the Lord is the giver and sustainer of physical life, as well as how He is the giver and sustainer of spiritual life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was exactly the angle I was going for in our theme for worship this weekend.

During the call to worship we tried something new (it was new to me, too), and began to teach our congregation about different Biblical expressions of worship, mostly described in the Psalms. This weekend, we taught our congregation about lifting their hands in worship. I read from Psalm 63:3-5, which ends by stating, “So I will bless You as long as I live; In Your name I will lift up my hands” (ESV). I had them raise one hand while we prayed together, just as a way to practice the expression in a non-threatening environment, where everyone was doing it together. I could tell that some people felt a little awkward, but it was a learning moment, and I believe it was healthy for our congregation. The idea of going through the Biblical expressions of worship with a congregation was not original from me–I got the idea from Paul Baloche at a worship conference in Florida. I thought it was a brilliant way to expand a church’s horizons and give them more understanding of ways that they can Biblically express themselves to God. I will keep you updated about how it progresses.

After the call to worship, we jumped into “Marvelous Light,” to declare how we have been transferred from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of Jesus—the kingdom of light. The chorus is always powerful: “Into marvelous light I’m running/ Out of darkness, out of shame/ By the cross You are the truth, You are the life, You are the way.” My favorite part of the song, however, is the pre-chorus, which sings, “Sin has lost its power/ Death has lost its sting/ From the grave You’ve risen/ Victoriously!” When we go strong on that part after the instrumental break, I am always pumped up. Does our celebration in Christ get wrapped up much more succinctly? I can’t think of a lyric that says it better.

For the second set, we sang “Your Grace Is Enough,” “Son of God,” and “Wonderful Maker.” “Your Grace Is Enough” is a staple, and very familiar with our people. For years, I sang Chris Tomlin’s version of the song, which adds the variations of the chorus at the end. Only recently, as I have tried to make the songs we sing more accessible for congregations, have I sung Matt Maher’s version, without the additional choruses. I feel it is easier for people to sing with the original choruses, and the additional ones can be somewhat confusing because the rhythm of the lyric changes somewhat. If we are trying to get our people to engage and participate, I believe the original choruses are the way to go.

We also continued teaching Starfield’s “Son of God,” which continues to gain strength in our congregation. The simple melody, and clear and concise lyric connects well. We will continue teaching it for one more week, and then give it a break for a few weeks to bring it back later as a refresher. The focus of the song fits well with Philippians, so it will probably make a few appearances over the next 16 weeks or so as we journey through the book.

We finished this set with “Wonderful Maker,” which was part of a revolution in my thinking regarding worship music. Until I encountered this song, I was drawn to the emotional songs that focused on how I felt and what I needed. When I first heard this song, I was confronted with a song that has only one occurrence of first person, when it sings, “And we have only heard/ The faintest whispers of how great You are.” The rest of the song speaks only of God, His greatness, and His goodness. It was refreshing, to say the least, and it challenged my priorities in worship. Was I participating only for what I could get out of it? Was my worship selfish or self-centered? Or was I doing it only because the Godhead is worthy of all my praise and glory? These questions made me reevaluate my choices regarding worship and the way I led worship through music. As a result, I try to spend the majority of our worship time focusing on God–who He is and what He has done—and less time worrying about us. Worship is about God. He is worthy of my praise, no matter what I am dealing with or think I need. He has paid the price for our redemption and rescue, and He is ultimately more valuable than anything, or anyone, else.

We responded to Joe’s message about God’s “good work” in us by singing “From The Inside Out,” which is another well-known song for Fellowship. I love the dynamics of this song, how it builds from quiet reflection on our weaknesses to committed, sincere praise to the everlasting God, the one whose worth and power never diminishes.

The recurring themes throughout this weekend’s music were Jesus’ surpassing worth and creative activity. It was time well spent.

I hope you had a great weekend of worship wherever you were. Be sure to check out The Worship Community to see what other believers experienced in their worship gatherings this past weekend.

I will be out this next week on vacation, so I won’t have a set list for next weekend. I may have our Next Gen worship leader, Erik Oldberg (he doesn’t know it yet), put some of his thoughts down from leading the weekend services for me.

In the Son,