Posts Tagged ‘You Alone Can Rescue’

This weekend was the first in our series called, “The Story.” Our pastor Joe shared about how we all need to be clear about the message of the gospel so that we can share it with others. You can listen to or watch the entire message and service here.

Here’s our service plan:

Pre-Service – “True Love” (C) [Phil Wickham]
Welcome
“In Tenderness” (G) [Nate Garvey, Adoniram Judson Gordon, W. Spencer Walton]
“Before The Throne Of God Above” (A) [Charitie Lees Bancroft]
Greeting Time
Announcements
Message – “The Story: Know The Story” [Joe Hishmeh]
“You Alone Can Rescue” (Bb) [Matt Redman, Jonas Myrin]
“This Is Amazing Grace” (Bb) [Josh Farro, Jeremy Riddle, Phil Wickham]
“Made Alive” (G) [Zach Bolen, Brian Eichelberger]
Dismissal

Thoughts: This weekend was incredible. It is probably stating the obvious, but I absolutely love singing about the gospel and the finished work of Jesus for us. This series is all about that, and this weekend was one where we could sing a bunch of our favorite songs together. It was a powerful service, and I was moved by the amazing grace and love of Jesus for us. He has done great things! It was an awesome way to end 2013 together.

Your turn: what were your experiences, observations, or take-aways from these past two weekends?

– Bill

This week we continued our series: “The Gospel: In/Through/Beyond.” Pastor Joe shared about how the God wants the gospel to move through our lives to others in our lives. You can listen to or watch the entire message and service here.

Here’s our service plan from this weekend:

Welcome
“Everlasting God” (Bb) [Brenton Brown, Ken Riley]
“Happy Day” (Bb) [Tim Hughes, Ben Cantelon]
Greeting Time/Announcements
Message – “The Gospel Through Me” [Joe Hishmeh]
Communion
“Nothing But The Blood” (G) [Robert Lowry, my arrangement]

“You Alone Can Rescue” (A) [Jonas Myrin, Matt Redman]
“You Have Overcome” (A) [Bill Horn, Erik Oldberg]
Dismissal

Thoughts: This was another great weekend! Our team did a great job, and it was a great start to the new year for our church. Our people were very engaged, and the focus of the weekend was a powerful challenge to the power of the gospel in and through our lives. The gospel transforms, and we need to share it with our community and our world!

I walked away from this weekend very encouraged about what the Lord is doing here at Fellowship. Praise God for His gospel, and His working in and through us.

What were your thoughts or experiences on your worship experience this weekend?


(an image of our new Ephesians set design, courtesy of our Tech Director, Wyatt Johnston)

This week our lead pastor, Joe Hishmeh, kicked off our new discipleship series, “Ephesians – United in Christ.” In his message, Joe shared from Ephesians 1:1-14 that Jesus is our best offense, our best defense, and our best confidence. It was a great reminder of the work of Christ on our behalf, which results in grace and peace in our lives. He is so good to us! You can listen to or watch the entire message and service here.

For our singing this week, we focused on the gospel and on God’s sovereign power over all.

Here’s our service plan from this weekend:

“In Tenderness” (G) [W. Spencer Walton, Adoniram J. Gordon, Nate Garvey, arr. by Citizens]
Welcome/Greeting Time
Call To Worship/Confession
“Glorious Day” (Bb) [J. Wilbur Chapman, Michael Bleecker]
“You Alone Can Rescue” (Bb) [Matt Redman, Jonas Myrin]

“Lord of All” (Bb) [Kristian Stanfill]
Message – “Ephesians 1:1-14” [Joe Hishmeh]
“Son of God” (G) [Jon Neufeld, Tim Neufeld, Ed Cash, Gordon Cochran]
Offering/Announcements/Dismissal

“In Tenderness” – This was a new song that we taught during our countdown last week, and continued teaching this week. It is a hymn that was written in 1894, and that was rearranged by a band from Mars Hill Church called Citizens. I love the energy this song brings to our services and to our congregation, and I think our church is catching on. I think this song is a keeper for us, and it fit well with the message for this week.

“Glorious Day” – This is another old hymn that has been refreshed for the Church today by Village Church. I love the lyric of this song, as it remembers where we were before Christ, and then celebrates what Christ has accomplished–and will accomplish–for us. It is a great fit for this series through Ephesians.

“You Alone Can Rescue” – This song focused specifically on the redemption that we have in Christ. I love how this song communicates our own powerlessness to save ourselves and the unique ability of Christ alone to rescue us from sin and death. Because of who He is and what He has done for us, He alone is worthy of our praise.

“Lord of All” – We went from singing about the unique worth of Christ (because He is the only one who can rescue us) at the end of “You Alone Can Rescue” to this song, which emphasizes His unique worth because He is the Lord of all. This has been, and remains, one of our church’s favorite songs. I love singing it together.

“Son of God” – We responded to Joe’s message with this song, which focuses on the unique personhood of Jesus. This is another of our church’s favorites, and it was a great way to wrap up our services.

This weekend was a solid weekend of worshiping together. Our team did a great job leading our congregation in singing to our King. We also worked like crazy to get our new stage design put together, and I am really happy with how it all turned out. I am really excited about going through Ephesians together as a church. It’s going to be transformational!

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

What were your thoughts or experiences on your worship experience from this weekend?

p.s. don’t forget to check out The Worship Community!

This week our pastor, Joe Hishmeh, shared some biblical wisdom regarding dating relationships, as we continued our series called “Can You Relate?”. In his message, Joe emphasized the importance of seeking wisdom in our relationships and thinking of the big picture of the future rather than only thinking of the presence. It was great, practical wisdom, which is of benefit to all of us, whether we are already married or in dating relationships, because it gives us wise counsel that we can pass on to others. You can listen to or watch the entire message and service here.

For our singing this week, we focused on the holiness and trustworthiness of God. We can trust Him with the people in our lives, as well as their (and our) relationships.

Here’s our service plan from this weekend:

“Holy Is The Lord” (Ab) [Chris Tomlin]
Welcome/Greeting Time
Call To Worship/Confession/Ps. 51:1-2 Reading
“You Alone Can Rescue” (Bb) [Matt Redman, Jonas Myrin]
“Cornerstone” (Bb) [Edward Mote, Jonas Myrin, Reuben Morgan, Eric Liljero, William B. Bradbury]

Communion
“Christ Is Risen” (Gb) [Matt Maher, Mia Fieldes]
Taking of the Elements
Reprise of “Christ Is Risen” (Gb)
Message – “Can You Relate? – Dating” [Joe Hishmeh]
“Always” (Bb) [Kristian Stanfill, Jason Ingram]
Offering/Announcements/Dismissal

“Holy Is The Lord” – We sang this song as a foundation for our services, in recognizing the holiness and glory of God. When we see God as He is–high and lifted up and greatly exalted–we see ourselves more clearly as those who are desperate for forgiveness and salvation. God’s holiness and perfection is the foundation for understanding our own sinfulness and our need for salvation. This is a song that we haven’t sung much since I have been here, but it is one that holds a special place in my faith journey, and it was great to hear the church singing together on it.

“You Alone Can Rescue” – After our time of confessing the idols in our lives (the things that we have put stock in for our hope, our peace, our trust, etc.), we read Psalm 51:1-2. Then, we sang this song, expressing our confidence in Christ alone for our life and salvation. He is the only one who can heal us, help us, restore us, rescue us, and give us life. His is the only name in which we can trust without fear.

“Cornerstone”  We have been teaching this song to our congregation over the past few weeks, and I think it is taking root here. As I have written before, I love the lyric of “On Christ The Solid Rock I Stand,” and how it expresses confidence and hope in the finished work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. I love singing this together with the Church.

“Christ Is Risen” – This was our communion song this week, and I thought it tied everything from this weekend together. It called us away from sin and toward Christ. It called us to trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross. It called us to hope in His resurrection from the dead. It reminded us of His victory over sin, death, and hell. It called us to life. We haven’t sung this since Easter, and it was good to sing it together again. I love this one.

“Always” – This is another that we haven’t sung in a while (April). I love how this song calls us to courage and confidence in Christ, recognizing that He alone is our hope and salvation. We can trust Him with our lives, with our broken relationships, with our conflicts, with our hurts, knowing that He can heal us and rescue us. This song says it so well. “I lift my eyes up/ My help comes from the Lord.”

This weekend was a solid weekend. We made a few changes mid-stream, which caused some interesting moments, but overall it was a great time of worshiping together. The team did a great job adapting and leading our congregation well. It seems like it has been a while since we’ve had a “regular” weekend of worship, and it was refreshing to get back to leading with the full team again. I loved how well all the songs connected this week. Glory to God for His direction.

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

What were your thoughts or experiences from this weekend in your church?

p.s. don’t forget to check out The Worship Community!

This Easter, our church relocated temporarily to the Topeka Performing Arts Center to accommodate as many guests as possible (we ended up hosting around 3800 people this weekend!). Last year, we had to do six services, but the attendance was not evenly distributed – more than half of our people wanted to attend at two of the six service times, and we were cramped for space (our building holds around 690). At Christmas Eve last year, we ended up turning people away, which is something we never want to do again if we can help it. We always want an open door and an open seat for people to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ!

It was amazing to see the team come together to make this happen for the weekend. It was a ton of work, and my tech director, Wyatt Johnston, did a fantastic job of navigating the difficulties of relocation. Each of the people who regularly lead for our services led together for both services. That was something that was a priority to me, and I am thankful that it worked out that everyone could participate. There’s nothing like leading worship together with friends! I am so grateful for our church and for our team. Jesus was exalted this weekend! You can listen to the entire message here.

Here’s our service plan from this weekend:

Video – “An Easter Story”
Pre-Service Song – “Our God’s Alive” (Em) [Andy Cherry, Jason Ingram, Dan Muckala]
“Sing to the King” (E) [Billy Foote, Charles Sylvester Horne]
Welcome/Greeting Time – David Hinkle
Call To Worship – from Philippians 2
“Happy Day” (B) [Tim Hughes, Ben Cantelon]
Video – “The White Board Gospel”
“You Have Overcome” (A) [Bill Horn, Erik Oldberg]
“You Alone Can Rescue” (B) [Matt Redman, Jonas Myrin]
“Jesus Paid It All” (B) [John T. Grape, Elvina M. Hall, Alex Nifong]
Video – “Alive”
Message – “Everyone” [Joe Hishmeh]

“Christ Is Risen” (Gb) [Matt Maher, Mia Fieldes]
Offering/Announcements
Dismissal


“Our God’s Alive”
 – This song served as our countdown song this week. It was an awesome song to open our Easter services with. It is an anthem that really set the tone for how we wanted to celebrate the resurrection.

“Sing to the King” – Led by Becky Tindell and Sarah Oldberg, this was our opening song. It is one of our church’s favorites, and it really communicates the hope we have in Jesus. Also, this is a song that the children are singing in The Mountain (our children’s ministry, led by Erik Oldberg). Our children from ages 3 and up were in our services this weekend, so it was important to us to do some songs that they would know as well. This is a great song that served the purpose of reaching everyone in the room.

“Happy Day” – Erik Oldberg led us on this song. This is another staple for our congregation and for our children, so it was another song that reached our whole congregation. As we sang this song, there was a tremendous amount of energy in the room. It was exciting to be a part of it!

“You Have Overcome” – This is the new original song that we introduced to our congregation last weekend in preparation for this weekend. Our congregation is connecting with it, and singing it well together. The link in the title takes you to the post where I discussed the song in further detail and where you can also download the charts for the song. It is a straightforward song about how Jesus has overcome sin and death, and has therefore redeemed us, giving us life and hope.

“You Alone Can Rescue” – Sarah Oldberg and I led on this song. This remains one of my favorite worship songs. I love how it declares our prior condition and where we stand now because of Christ’s death and resurrection for us. He “came down to find us, and led us out of death!”

“Jesus Paid It All” – Each of us led a portion of this song, which is another one of our congregation’s favorites. The ending was powerful and beautiful as we sang out the bridge, “O praise the One who paid my debt/ And raised this life up from the dead” a cappella. This moment in each of our services was one of the highlights of the weekend for me.

“Christ Is Risen” – We responded to Joe’s message with this song. This is one of my favorites for Easter. I love the chorus especially: “Christ is risen from the dead/ Trampling over death by death/ Come awake, come awake/ Come and rise up from the grave.” It’s a powerful thing for the church to sing this together. Jesus has conquered sin and death. And we will participate in that victory. All praise and honor and glory to Jesus!

The bottom line? This weekend was amazing. I am so overwhelmed what we experienced together. It was the Easter service that I had always dreamt of. I couldn’t have asked for a more special weekend. Easter is definitely my favorite time of the year in terms of leading the church in worship. We have no greater reason to sing than the fact that Jesus has overcome sin and death for us!

I hope you had a great weekend of worship wherever you were! Jesus is ALIVE!

In the Son,
Bill

p.s. don’t forget to check out The Worship Community!

This weekend, we continued our Romans series, focusing on Romans 9:30 – 10:4. In his message, Joe preached about God’s sovereignty, and how we need to be zealous for the things that last and the things that matter. Ultimately, those things are God, His Word, and people. It is easy to lose sight of those things, and to get caught up in things that don’t last and don’t matter. One of those things is our own attempts at making ourselves righteous before God, which we really cannot do. We cannot justify ourselves on our own merit. We need the redemption that is only found in the finished work of Jesus Christ. You can listen to the entire message here.

Here’s our service plan from this weekend:

“The Solid Rock” (E) [Trent Austin, William B. Bradbury, Kendall Combs, Charlie Hall, Edward Mote]
Welcome/Greeting Time
Call To Worship
“Nothing But The Blood” (D) [Robert Lowry, with additional bridge by Andy Cherry]
“Happy Day” (Bb) [Tim Hughes, Ben Cantelon]

“You Alone Can Rescue” (Bb) [Matt Redman, Jonas Myrin]

“Rock Of Ages” (Bb) [Thomas Hastings, Augustus M. Toplady]
Time of Reflection/Prayer
Message – “Romans 9:30 – 10:4” [Joe Hishmeh]

Offering/Announcements
Dismissal


“The Solid Rock”
– We sang this modern arrangement of a timeless hymn as our opening song this weekend, to point to the only solid foundation we can have for our eternal life – Jesus Christ. It is only in His complete and finished work on the cross that we have salvation and hope for eternity. We can depend on nothing else. The gospel is Jesus plus nothing. We are completely incapable of saving ourselves. Jesus is the only way of salvation for us. As this great hymn says in the chorus, “all other ground is sinking sand.”

“Nothing But The Blood” – This is another modern hymn arrangement, done by a newer artist, Andy Cherry. He was one of the worship leaders at the Re:Create Conference I attended a few weeks ago in Nashville, and his label shared a pre-release album with all of us. This was one of the songs we sang with him while we were at the conference, and I loved how his treatment of the song really captured the power and confidence of the lyric, along with a great added chorus, which sings, “The blood of Jesus is enough for me/ Oh, the blood of Jesus is enough.” You can hear his rendition of this song streaming on his website. I really encourage you to pick up his whole album when it is released in March. It was produced by Jason Ingram, and many of the songs were co-written by Ingram. I’m really enjoying it!

“Happy Day” – This song is a staple for our church, and it was a great fit for the subject matter of this weekend, as we declare that it is Jesus alone who saves us and rescues us from sin and death. We had no hope apart from Him, so there is great cause for celebration because of what He has done for us. We have been made alive together with Christ!

“You Alone Can Rescue” – We sang this song this weekend because it states the major truth of this weekend simply and clearly: Jesus alone can rescue us. There is no other way for us to be saved, nor is there any other way to eternal life. He is our salvation and our hope, and we cannot save ourselves. There is great freedom in declaring this truth together, because it frees us from the delusion that we can do anything to affect our eternal destination; it is only because of Jesus that we have life.

“Rock of Ages” – When I first heard Ascend The Hill’s rendition of this song on their hymns album (Take The World, But Give Me Jesus), I was incredibly moved. It is such a desperate cry of dependence on the finished work of Christ for us. I think the lyric and the melody do a good job of communicating that desperation and hopelessness apart from Christ’s death on the cross in our place. What a beautiful song! Other than my guitar going really out of tune on this song during the last service, it went really well. We had a time of quiet reflection after this song, where we confessed areas of our life where we weren’t trusting God, and where we’ve tried to find our hope and joy in things other than Him. He is our only source of true hope, joy, and peace. We need to depend on Him and trust Him fully, because He will not disappoint our hope in Him.

This weekend was a good weekend overall. We tried some different things with our service order, in order to try and simplify the flow of our services: we set up a countdown at the beginning of the services that included some key memory verses from our study through the book of Romans; we took out the response song and moved that time earlier in our service; and we also moved a song to the start of the time as a definitive start to each of the services. We had been doing a “Time of Preparation” prior to our services, with the hopes that people would take advantage of that time to prepare their hearts for meeting with the Lord together and to have some quiet time after the hustle of getting themselves and their families to the service. What we found, however, was that it served to muddy the actual “start time” of our services, and people were actually showing up later, not earlier. Regardless, I am in favor of occasionally changing things around in order for us not to become too attached to any kind of order or flow of a service. We often tend to pay less attention to things when we think we know what is coming next.

I am thankful for the opportunities we had this weekend to glorify our Savior. I am so grateful for the sacrifice He made for us, and for how He has rescued us. He is worthy of all praise and honor and glory, with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. He is good.

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

In the Son,
Bill

p.s. don’t forget to check out The Worship Community!

This weekend, we returned to continue our series on the book of Romans.  Joe preached from what is possibly my favorite passage of Scripture – Romans 3:21-31. The gospel of grace, and the doctrine of justification by faith alone apart from the law, are both very clearly laid out here, and I am reminded of the amazing gift that we have been given in Christ. We all need to be constantly reminded of what the work of Christ has accomplished for us, because it changes everything. You can listen to the entire message here.

Here’s our service plan from this weekend:

Time of Preparation/Prayer
“I Need You” (G) [Kristian Stanfill]
Call To Worship
Welcome/Greeting Time
“Marvelous Light” (Bb) [Charlie Hall]
“You Alone Can Rescue” (Bb) [Matt Redman]
“Nothing But The Blood” (Bb) [Matt Redman
]
“Lamb Of God” (Ab) [original]
Message – “Romans 3:21-31 – Justification” [Joe Hishmeh]
“Jesus Messiah” (G) [Daniel Carson, Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash, Jesse Reeves]
Offering/Announcements
Dismissal


“I Need You”
– We sang this song in our preparation time this weekend. I love the clarity of this song, and how it lays out our desperation for Christ’s work for us. We are lost without Him. We are hopeless and helpless without Him. It is such a powerful song. We bring it down from the key of Bb to G, and it is much more singable for our congregation. I want to incorporate this song more into our regular worship sets, as I think our congregation is getting a better grasp of it.

“Marvelous Light” – This was our opener this week. We haven’t sung this song in a while, but I think it was very fitting for us to sing this week as we focused on the cross. While we were a people without any hope and without spiritual life, Jesus stepped in and died for us, conquering sin and death. He has adopted us as sons and daughters, and has made us alive together with Him. Praise God that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life for us.

“You Alone Can Rescue” – This song continues to be one of my favorites. The chorus really draws the line in the sand regarding the gospel: “You alone can rescue/ You alone can save/ You alone can lift us from the grave/ You came down to find us/ And led us out of death/ To You alone belongs the highest praise.” Because Jesus is the one who rescued us, He is the only one who deserves the credit, the praise, and the glory. He is the only one!

“Nothing But The Blood” – We haven’t done this song much at Fellowship, but it was a perfect fit to our talk on justification this weekend. Nothing but the blood of Jesus reconciles us to God and makes it possible for us to be declared righteous before a holy God. His blood is the payment for our sin, satisfying the wrath of God against sin, and making peace with God for us. I was moved to tears several times this weekend as we sang this song. Jesus is our peace.

“Lamb of God”This is a song that I wrote a few years ago as I was studying Isaiah 53. I wanted to write a song that really described the nature of the payment that Jesus paid for us as our substitute. I wanted to challenge us as a congregation to not sing these kinds of songs lightly, but to try and envision the suffering that Jesus bore in our place. I think that is how we sing of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross with meaning. It is, and should be, overwhelming to think of how much Christ suffered for us, and how much He has given us that we did not deserve. He is far too good to us.

“Jesus Messiah” – We sang this song as our response this week. This about summed it all up from this weekend. As 2 Corinthians says, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus took our place, and He gives us His.

This weekend was really powerful, and I really experienced the presence of Christ as we worshiped in our services. When we focus so clearly and heavily on what Jesus accomplished for us, it is hard to avoid being overwhelmed with thanksgiving. I had to hold it together a few times when it was really hitting home. Our team did a great job. We also played Warren Barfield’s “Saved” a few times this weekend between services, just to have fun and celebrate our salvation in Christ. God is good!

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

In the Son,
Bill

p.s. don’t forget to check out The Worship Community!

This weekend, we focused on John 19:6-37, examining the cross. Joe shared about its meaning from several perspectives, and closed with a time to respond to what Jesus accomplished for us. We moved our on-stage cross to down stage center to help emphasize our focus for the weekend, and nearly every aspect of our services pointed to it. I am happy with how well everything tied together this weekend. Together, it served as a great reminder of what Jesus did on our behalf. He is so good to us!

Here’s our service plan from this weekend:

Time of Preparation/Prayer
“Lamb of God” (Ab) [original]
Welcome/Greeting Time
Call to Worship – 

“Let Me Sing” (Bb) [Todd Fields]
“You Alone Can Rescue” (Bb) [Matt Redman, Jonas Myrin]
Scripture Reading – 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
“Jesus Messiah” (G) [Daniel Carson, Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash, Jesse Reeves]
“Nothing But The Blood” (G) [Robert Lowry]
Prayer
Message – John 19:6-37 – “The Cross” [Joe Hishmeh]
Response Time

“‘The Wonderful Cross” (E) [Isaac Watts, w/ add. chorus by Chris Tomlin, Jesse Reeves]

Offering/Video/Announcements
Dismissal

“Lamb Of God” – We opened our preparation time with this song, since we were focusing on the cross this weekend. When I wrote this song, I was trying to encapsulate some of Isaiah 53, along with the crucifixion accounts of the Gospels. I think it was a fitting way to begin our services this weekend, because it set the tone for everything that would follow.

“Let Me Sing” – This song is a staple for us, and this song really fit with the theme of this weekend. It communicates the reason for our worship and obedience: the fact that God loved us first and sent His Son to die on the cross on our behalf. I love how this song relays this thought, when we sing, “Let me sing/ Louder than creation to You/ For the pain You bore in Your body/ To bring my soul to You.” It really brings the two ideas together well.

“You Alone Can Rescue” – We haven’t sung this song together in a while, and I think this week was a good week to bring it back. This song emphasizes our inability to rescue and redeem ourselves. We are dead in our sins (Eph. 2:1), and we were enemies of God (Rom. 5:10), but still God loved us and made a way for us where there was no way, reconciling us to Himself through the cross of Christ. Praise God for His grace!

“Jesus Messiah” – We prefaced this song by reading from 2 Corinthians 5:17-21. The last verse of that passage is where the first line of this song comes from: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” That passage in 2 Corinthians is one of my favorites, as it helps clarify what Christ accomplished for us at the cross. He is our reconciliation.

“Nothing But The Blood” – This hymn is one of my favorites, because it makes no bones about declaring that the sole source of our redemption is the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. He is the only way of salvation. He is the only one who could rescue us and give us life and hope. We need to rest in His finished work on the cross. He died in our place. He has dealt with our sin and the righteous wrath of God against sin. It is finished, all because Jesus shed His precious blood for us.

“The Wonderful Cross” – This song was our response song this week. As Joe finished proclaiming the significance of the cross and the encouraging our people to respond to this truth, we wanted to sing a song that examined the cross and reflected on its great meaning for our lives. The hymn (“When I Survey The Wondrous Cross”) by Isaac Watts, along with the additional chorus by Tomlin and Reeves, was a great fit for the moment, and helped us in thanking Jesus for the cross and in offering our lives in response to His great sacrifice for us. I have loved this song since I first heard it in college, and I was thankful for a good opportunity to sing it again.

All around, this was a great weekend of worshiping our Savior. Our team did a great job, and I’m so thankful for what the Lord is doing in us, and especially grateful for the cross. I would have no hope without it.

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

In the Son,

Bill

p.s. don’t forget to check out The Worship Community!

(once again, WordPress logged me out midway through my draft, so this is mostly a second try, so I may miss a few things…)

This weekend, we focused on Philippians 3:1-11 for a message on “An Appraisal of Worth and Identity.” From this passage, Joe pointed out that we are to place no confidence in our flesh (the things of this world by which we might try to identify ourselves) and we are to compare our lives and the stuff of life against Jesus Christ and His “surpassing worth” (3:8 ESV). Nothing we have to offer—nothing we have done—even comes close to comparing with the worth of Jesus. Our salvation is completely dependent on who He is and what He has done.  Paul says it this way, “not having a righteousness of my own that comes through the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (Phil. 3:9 ESV). In the music this weekend, we focused completely on the gospel, recognizing our complete inability to save ourselves, and the unique ability and work of Christ to rescue us and to give us life. We are completely dependent on Him for salvation and eternal life, hence the repeating themes of “nothing but the blood of Jesus,” “You alone can rescue,” and “I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord.” Jesus Christ is all we have!

Here’s our set from this weekend:

“All Because of Jesus” (Bb) [Steve Fee]
Call to Worship – Psalm 86:8-10
“I Stand Amazed” (G) [Charles Hutchison Gabriel]
Welcome/Greeting Time/Offering
“Nothing But The Blood (Your Blood)” (Bb) [Matt Redman] / Child Dedication (at Sunday 10:45 AM service only)
“Always” (Bb) [Kristian Stanfill, Jason Ingram]
“You Alone Can Rescue” (Bb) [Matt Redman, Jonas Myrin]
Message – “An Appraisal of Worth and Identity” [Joe Hishmeh]
Response – “Nothing But The Blood” (G) [Robert Lowry]

“All Because of Jesus” – This song is a strong declaration and reminder of where our real life comes from: Jesus Christ. It is only because of Him that we are alive. We have life in Him alone. As the verse says, even the breath that we breathe is a gift from God. We are completely dependent on Him, from beginning to end. As James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above.” Everything that is truly good is from God, and Him alone. Therefore, no one else is worthy of our devotion, our worship, or our glory.

“I Stand Amazed” – Like many hymns (think “It Is Well”), this one speaks to the past, the present reality, and future of our faith – our condemnation, our redemption, and our glorification in Christ. I believe that is what is so timeless about many hymns. It is a song that just revels in the amazing love of God for us. It is truly marvelous, and we should never get beyond a state of wonder when we think of it.

“Nothing But The Blood (Your Blood)”  – YouTube– I love how Matt Redman took the thought from Robert Lowry’s hymn and reworked it into this song. The concepts of placing no confidence in the things of this world and of the blood of Jesus “[speaking] a better word/ than all the empty claims/ I’ve heard upon this earth” and “[speaking] righteousness for me/ and [standing] in my defense” are beautiful and powerful.

I also love the Brazilian version of this song, done by Fernandinho (the Brazilian equivalent of Chris Tomlin), Nada Além do Sangue.” I first heard this on my last trip to Brazil in 2009, when I joined my friends on the worship team of Igreja da Paz in Santarém, located in the Amazon River basin in the Brazilian state Pará. They let me join in leading with them for their Sunday services (all SEVEN), and it was an amazing experience, one of the highlights of my life. You can get a glimpse of what their services are like Igreja da Paz Central. They let me lead “Poder Pra Salvar” (“Mighty to Save,” one of the few that I can actually sing in Portuguese…), and we also did this song, which has a very cool bridge part in Portuguese, and it drives me crazy that it doesn’t really work in English. In Portuguese, it sings “Eu so livre,” which translates into English as “I am alive.” I love the melody of that part, and how it simply sums up the result of what Christ has done. The best I have come up with is to simply sing the melody with no words, and then to repeat, “Nothing but Your blood…” This song makes me miss my friends in Brazil.

“Always” – This was our third week teaching this song to our congregation. You can read more about my thoughts on the song here. The congregation is definitely learning the song, and we are singing it out more together. We will let the song rest a few weeks and then we’ll bring it back to see it with fresh eyes. This is now part of what I would call, “our worship vocabulary,” or basically the songs that we know together as Fellowship Bible Church (a little bit of strategy here…).  I think each worship leader needs to know what is the vocabulary of his context, and needs to be careful to teach the congregation he serves new songs intentionally and with a plan, so that they have a chance to know it and to own it, rather than just singing from the screen or wherever else they see the lyrics. In our church, we want the projection to be a backup plan rather than a crutch. We want our congregation to sing from their hearts, and to have the screen as a backup if they forget the words. We teach a new song at least three consecutive weeks to make this a possibility. I think many modern worship leaders, myself included, underestimate how many times our people need to hear a song before they know it. We wonder, “Why do they sing older song so well?” The answer: they have heard those songs hundreds of times, even if they didn’t attend church gatherings in their youth. It is likely that the newer songs we use are only heard in the context of our worship gatherings. So, they only hear it/sing it as often as we lead it in our worship gatherings. I think it is valuable to any worship leader to assess how many times our people have sung each song, and to be intentional about teaching our people the songs we sing, as I said earlier.

“You Alone Can Rescue” – This song was a great fit for the message this weekend, as it emphasizes that we are incapable of saving ourselves, and that only Jesus can rescue us. I also liked how this song tied together with “Always,” in referring to the passage from Psalm 121:1-2, “I lift my eyes up to the hills, from where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” This song is a simple, powerful declaration of confidence in the work of Christ on our behalf. I love it!

We taught this song a few months ago, and it was time to bring it back, especially for this message. I love how the congregation responds when they really know a song, and it was obvious that they knew this one as we sang it together. This is the fruit of what I mentioned above. We spent the time to learn this song together, and now, whenever we bring it back into our services, our people know it, and can sing it wholeheartedly. This, I believe, is one of our goals as congregational worship leaders. We want our people to be able to sing with sincerity, and that only happens when they really know, from experience, what they are singing. They have heard it, they have seen it, and they have sung it, and they remember it. It’s a beautiful thing.

“Nothing But The Blood” – This is one of my favorite hymns. The simple truth that there is no other pardon for sin than in the blood of Jesus Christ, tied to the truth that there is no forgiveness for sins without the shedding of blood (Hebrews 9:22). During the fourth service, a thought occurred to me: how many times did I sing this song while still having confidence in my own good works as it relates to my standing before God? How many of us have done this? We cannot sing this song honestly if we are still clinging to our own good works before God—we could not sing, “Nothing can for sin atone/ Nothing but the blood of Jesus/ Naught of good that I have done/ Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” May each of our hearts be able to sing this with honesty. I stand on nothing but the righteousness of Jesus Christ, who died in my place for my sins, who reconciled me to God, who made a way where there was no way, who is my confidence.

I am thankful for our team and our church, and for the opportunities we have to worship together. This weekend was refreshing for me. I never get tired of hearing and proclaiming the gospel in word and song, and this weekend was a beautiful example of just that. Christ was lifted high this weekend.

I hope you had a great weekend of worship wherever you were. Be sure to hop on over to The Worship Community to check out what other leaders and worshipers experienced this weekend. Have a great week!

I’d love to hear your thoughts below. Join the discussion!

In the Son,

Bill

 

Jesus is risen! He has conquered sin and death, and He reigns forevermore. This weekend holds so much meaning for the church, and it was truly a joy to celebrate Christ’s resurrection together. This weekend, we had two services on Good Friday, and then six Easter services through Saturday and Sunday (two on Saturday and four on Sunday). It was a marathon, but it was completely worth it. I am so proud of our team for stepping up and serving with excellence in all of the services, giving their best for our Savior and His church.

Here’s our set from Good Friday:

“Jesus Messiah” (G) [Chris Tomlin, Daniel Carson, Jesse Reeves, and Ed Cash]
“Because of Your Love” (G) [Phil Wickham]
Lamb of God” (G) [Bill Horn]
Message – “The Heroic Rescue of Humanity: Jesus the Savior” [Joe Hishmeh]
Response – “The Wonderful Cross” [Isaac Watts, Chris Tomlin, Jesse Reeves, Lowell Mason, J.D. Watts]
Communion Intro
“Nothing But The Blood” [Matt Redman]
“You Saw Me” [Mia Fieldes, Ben Fielding, and Reuben Morgan]
Taking of the elements
Dismissal 

And here’s how we celebrated the resurrection in our Easter services:

Pre-service – “God is Alive” (A) [Steve Fee and Eddie Kirkland]
Call to worship – Mark 16:4-6
“Happy Day” (Bb) [Tim Hughes and Ben Cantelon]
Welcome/ Offering/ Announcements/ Greeting time
“You Alone Can Rescue” (Bb) [Matt Redman and Jonas Myrin]
“Stronger” (Bb) [Ben Fielding and Reuben Morgan]
Message – “The Heroic Rescue of Humanity: Jesus the Restorer” [Joe Hishmeh]
Response – “Jesus Paid It All” [John Thomas Grape, Elvina M. Hall, and Alex Nifong]
Dismissal – Joe Hishmeh

I am thrilled with how this weekend’s services went. Our Good Friday services were sweet times of reflection on the cross and on Jesus sacrifice for us. We used a distinct instrumentation for the service, with predominantly acoustic instruments. We had two standard acoustics, a high-strung acoustic (Nashville tuning), viola, fretless bass, and a percussion set up for our drummer with djembe and cajon and a few toys. It was very organic in the way that we put the songs together and in the way we presented it. I thought it came across the way we wanted, and people were pointed to the cross. We had the large, wooden cross lit in all red, and the band was all in black in the background on the stage, and that helped to communicate the desired focus for the evening. In all, it was a strong and sincere evening. Good Friday is one of my favorite occasions for worship, as we praise our Savior for His great sacrifice on our behalf–in our place, for our sins.

One Easter, we pulled out the stops, and pushed things forward a bit with some new elements. We opened the pre-service time with “God is Alive,” and we used a brand-new element in our context: our drummer, Jordan, is a master beat producer, and he brought out his Akai MPC 4000 to create a loop to play underneath the whole song, which would be brought into focus during the intro and the breaks. I was giddy when he put it all together and we started to play together as a band. It was such a fresh addition to what we have been doing, and it is and element that I have wanted to incorporate (in any worship setting) for years. The click track was step one to getting to this point, and we got here a lot quicker than I anticipated. It was pretty special to finally experience it in that way. I thought it added even more energy to an already exciting song. It was a perfect moment for me, as we sang out “Everyone/ Glorify the risen Son/ The Holy One has overcome/ Jesus is alive/ The enemy/ Is broken underneath His feet/ Death is crushed in victory/ Jesus is alive/ Jesus is alive.” It’s a beautiful thing!

We followed the call to worship with “Happy Day,” which felt like a great fit for the weekend. This song was a little more familiar to our congregation, so they sang out and participated more than on “God is Alive” (which is part of why we did “God is Alive” in the pre-service slot). I love the truth in this song, and I think it is one of Tim Hughes’ best songs. He captures the gospel message clearly and simply. The verses say it well: “The greatest day in history/ Death is beaten, You have rescued me/ Sing out, Jesus is alive/ The empty cross, the empty grave/ Life eternal, You have won the day/ Shout it out, Jesus is alive/ He’s alive!”

After the welcome time, we moved to “You Alone Can Rescue” and “Stronger,” which are two songs that focus on God’s unique ability to save us and rescue us from sin and death, and to give us eternal life. I love the choruses of each of the songs. “You Alone Can Rescue” sings, “You alone can rescue/ You alone can save/ You alone can lift us from the grave/ You came down to find us/ Led us out of death/ To You alone belong the highest praise.” In particular, my favorite line is the one that describes the divine condescension, His coming down to find us and leading us out of death. I am moved as I sing those words. This song really took hold with me as Matt Redman led at a week-long event in Daytona Beach last summer, and the weight of these words really landed. It remains a powerful expression of worship for me. The chorus of “Stronger” sings, “You are stronger/ You are stronger/ Sin is broken/ You have saved me/ It is written/ Christ is risen/ Jesus, You are Lord of all.” This echoes Scripture in a few places, one of which is Philippians 2, where Paul writes that “Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:8-11 NASB).  Because of Jesus’ humble and obedient sacrifice to conquer sin and death, He now has the name which is above every name. He is Lord of all, and worthy of being worshiped as such.

We finished the service by responding with “Jesus Paid It All,” but we did it a little differently than we had previously. We treated the original hymn in a very standard way. We played it in a way that would be very familiar for guests and regular attenders alike, in a gentle and slowly building manner. Then, we finished with an instrumental chorus, with the piano playing the melody. When we landed on the tonic chord (Bb), we let it ring out, and then quietly sang Alex Nifong’s added chorus: “O praise the One/ Who paid my debt/ And raised this life/ Up from the dead.” We went from gentle to full-bore in a matter of moments, and it was a powerful moment as we declared praise and truth about our risen King, who has also given us life when we were dead in our sins and transgressions (Eph. 2). It was a great fit with Joe’s message this weekend, which talked about two ways to live – either submitted to Jesus as the true King by faith and trust in His finished work on the cross to make things right; or attempting to reign over our own lives and to make things right on our own, unsuccessfully.

Our Easter weekend has been a true highlight of my time with Fellowship thus far. I can’t wait for us to continue to develop things and build from here. We have an amazing Worship and Arts team here, and I love their servant hearts. God is doing great things among us. He is alive and moving in His church!

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

In the name of the risen Son!

Bill