February 18, 2009
I had a wonderful time presenting at the Former Adventist Fellowship Weekend conference. Preparing for it was a blessing; especially interviewing friends who are former Adventists and spending time studying the topic in God’s Word. I’m going to work on making my presentation into an article that I can post at a later time. I did make an iMix to accompany my discoveries as I uncovered the topic, How Biblical Worship Confronts Fear, Doubt and Depression. Here are some notes to accompany each of the songs. As you journey through these songs with me, you really get the bulk of what I discovered and tried to communicate in my presentation. Biblical Worship iMix By Bill Born
1. Revelation Song by Gateway Church (Living For You) Let’s begin with the end, that is, the reality of who Christ is. He is the Lord God Almighty, the One who was, and is and is to come! That’s where all expressions of worship eventually lead us. This gives us the eternal perspective and there is no greater hope and no greater joy than that of arriving at that place. This is heavenly worship.
2. Everlasting God by Brenton Brown (Everlasting God) This song begins with a wonderful promise based on Isaiah 40:31. Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord. When my church family sings it, we eagerly sing, “Our hope, our strong deliverer” and then we explode into the chorus with a shout of “YES!” I feel like I could jump a mile high when we get to that place. Everything that is “man” in me is connecting with the Everlasting God, my God. At that moment I have faith that could move mountains and it has.
3. Jesus Messiah by Chris Tomlin (Hello Love) We get it right when our worship is centered on Jesus Christ and the gospel. This song spotlights the Hebrew name for Jesus, Yeshua Mashiah, the Lord of All. I love the reference to communion in verse two. It is too much for me when the choir sings “all our hope is in you,” while Chris sings the chorus. It is another heavenly moment.
4. In Christ Alone by Avalon & Geoff Moore (It Takes Two) This is the first recording that I heard of this modern hymn of the faith. It will certainly endure the ages, “contend[ing] for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 1:3 NIV) The first time I can recall our congregation cheering in our corporate worship service was in verse three after we sing, “Up from the grave he rose again!” There is so much truth packed into this worship song that I find comfort singing it in all circumstances.
5. Cross Around My Neck by Mustard Seed (Mustard Seed) My good friends John & Tonya Mace taught me how to bring wholehearted worship to God. This moved me toward allowing my intellectual understanding to inspire an authentic emotional response of praise – congruence between mind and heart worship. It was God’s perfect timing to be planning worship sets through sermons from Romans and Mark with them. In the process I became more unashamed of the gospel that saved me and fell more deeply in love with my Savior. They wrote and recorded this song with some of our church musicians.
6. At the Foot of the Cross (Ashes to Beauty) by Kathryn Scott (Satisfy) This song beautifully connects an Old Testament description of the Messiah’s ministry to it’s fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Then it invites us to a worship response. “I lay every burden down at the foot of the cross.” Jesus preached one of his first sermons from this text and boldly claimed to be the fulfillment. (Luke 4) I include Isaiah’s text here. Jesus came for those who lament. “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’S favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.” (Isaiah 61:1-3 NIV)
7. Jesus Paid it All by Fernando Ortega (Storm) Yet another wonderful hymn that anchors our soul in the eternal truth of Scriptures as they reveal to us the wonderful gospel of Jesus Christ. And this moves beyond the right doctrine to a wholehearted yet simple response. “Jesus paid it all; all to him I owe.” Fernando’s recordings of hymns are a treasure to God’s church.
8. I Cling to the Cross by Paul Baloche (Our God Saves) I love this song because of where it ends up. It incorporates a familiar chorus I learned as a child and makes it a wholehearted expression of faith, a surrender of my will to follow Jesus no matter what. The bridge is noteworthy as well as we stand at the open tomb and realize the significance of the resurrection. The world behind, the cross before me, no turning back! No looking back. No turning back. I cling to the cross!
9. When I Survey (The Wondrous Cross) by Kathryn Scott (Satisfy) We started singing this arrangement a few months ago. The familiar words set to a different melody make it fresh and engages my heart anew. I love the additional second verse that talks about boasting alone in the death of Christ my God. (Boasting is an important practice of worship!) The song grows in harmony and beauty as we move through the gospel to a wholehearted faith response in verse four. “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.” That is the worship offering we are urged to bring to God. (Romans 12:1)
10. When the Tears Fall by Tim Hughes (When Silence Falls) Lament is a form of worship that flows from a place of deep pain. Worship in the “dark night of the soul” moves us honestly toward our Father. It results in greater intimacy and deeper faith. While our circumstances may not change, our perspective does and that is where hope is born. This song is a resolution to praise God no matter what.
11. Psalm 13 (How Long O Lord) by Brian Doerksen (You Shine) I chose this psalm as the foundation of my study on how biblical worship confronts fear, doubt and depression. The psalmist, David, experienced all three and brought these feelings to God in worship and moved to a place of trust. When I discovered this song afterwards, I moved from an intellectual understanding of it to a heart-engaged moment of worship. I wept as I realized that the model here is to run to Daddy. We come to our Father with our complaint, cry out for help and then we collapse into his loving arms. It is there that we can rejoice in the goodness of our God – when we are being held by Him.
12. Before the Throne of God Above by Selah (Hiding Place) Selah has produced a wealth of beautiful worship music to God. They have wonderful arrangements of the great hymns of the faith and yet sing a new song as well. This hymn has become one of our favorites at Trinity Church. It is packed with life changing truth that inspires and strengthens our faith as we sing it.
13. Grace by Phil Wickham (Phil Wickham) This song is a lament. It begins with grey skies, raging seas, and crying in the night. It moves to a cry for help, “I need hope and I need you, ’cause I can’t do this alone!” It is a modern psalm, a poetic expression of honest worship, a plea for help to God. While it doesn’t resolve, it somehow it leaves me with incredible hope. Maybe it’s because my faith is now secure in this wonderful grace. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God”(Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV) Amen!
14. Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone) by Living Sacrifice (Life Choices) Scott & Sharon Strum are good friends and worship leaders at Trinity Church. They love to celebrate the great gospel of Jesus Christ with their music. This is their version of a new arrangement of this beloved hymn of the faith. Chris Tomlin and some friends added the wonderful new refrain, “My chains are gone!” The Strums recorded this song with some of our church musicians.
15. Empty and Beautiful by Matt Maher (Empty and Beautiful) This song, particularly the second verse, captures the journey of some to saving faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The choice to follow Christ sometimes causes deep rejection from friends and family. This is not new to Christianity, and it is the context of most of the suffering in the first century church. Here in this worship of lament we find ourselves at a place of deep trust. Once there we can endure suffering for the sake of the gospel. Matt’s chorus is a song of hope anchored in God’s finished work of salvation in his life. Matt attributes his journey to Christ’s work of chasing, “keeping the faith in me,” and helping him finish the race.