Brother Moon

Yikes it’s been a little too long. I’ll write a post in a bit explaining why this post has taken so long to write. This next song is most definitely outside the norm for Sunday worship. The song always reminds me of Psalm 19.

“God’s glory is on tour in the skies,
God-craft on exhibit across the horizon.
Madame Day holds classes every morning,
Professor Night lectures each evening.” – Psalm 19:1-2 (The Message)

The language and imagery are very similar. I am also a fan of songs that use nature images to bring glory to God. This is probably because being in nature make me feel closer to God. I do not go hiking or spend a lot of time outside, but when I can I see God in the forest, in the majesty of the mountains, in a sun set, or on a quiet night with a full moon shining down. Nature images just show me who God is. He is so great and big and powerful and creative and awesome, and the only thing I can do is sing a little song to Him with my little voice, clumsily strumming a guitar. The great thing is God loves it anyway.

“Maker of it all, You provide it all

In You we live, in You we move

In You we have our being, You’re glorious”

Nature shouts God’s glory. In my blog about “After All (Holy)” I talked about the difference between God’s holiness and His Glory. I shared that God’s glory is what we see of Him, it is what shown. Nature displays God’s greatness, creativity and omnipotence, nature shouts God’s glory. God provides everything for us, without Him we do not live, He gives us our body, our breath, everything. This song reminds us of the scope of God’s power and creativity, and that still despite that, He cares enough to give us these gifts, gifts that amount to life, and a life that can be overflowing (John 10:10)

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After All (Holy)

Here we are once again, taking a look at a song for my “Dream CCLI 25.” This time around we are looking at probably my favorite song on this list, which is saying something, because I love all the songs I picked. I actually responded to an e-mail from the worship leader at our church asking about new song ideas, and this one I did quite a bit of talking on this song. Firstly, this song, like most songs, can be broken down into a simple chord structure that is easily reproduced. However, it also has a complexity if you intend to duplicate the sound and layers of the song. So it’s a simply complex song, which is indicative of many Crowder songs. The most important part of this song is the lyrical content. This song does two things. It communicates our reaction and perception of God. However, it does this in a grand, clear and honest way. Let’s look at the lyrics:

“I can’t comprehend your infinite beautiful and perfect love,

Oh I’ve dreamed dreams of majesty as brilliant as a billion stars

But it’s never bright enough”

This is the first verse, the second verse is similar:

“I will sing a song for you my God with everything I have in me,

But it’s never loud enough”

What do these lyrics communicate? That our worship, our efforts to glorify God are never enough, I hesitate to say they are never good enough, because it sounds so negative but it’s true. The Bible says that even our best offerings are like filthy rags when compared to God’s holiness and glory. This is the way we should perceive God, as so far above us, so much holier and glorious than us that we cannot worship him perfectly or sufficiently yet. However, this does not mean we should not worship God, “After all” He is “Holy.”

The chorus of this song repeats over and again that God is Holy. This is the second  aspect of the song, not only does it present a human perception of the truth of God. It presents the reality of who God is, holy! This is why we need to worship God.

The bridge of the song declares that God’s glory is everywhere, that it is much to big for us as well. “My soul it overflows, full of Your glory, Your Glory.” And finally ends with a praise to God for his salvation saying, “Hosanna we are found for after all, You are Holy.” This line simply puts the reality of what God through Christ which is gained through the power of the Holy Spirit has done for us. A perfectly holy God that reached down and saved us, he found us while we were lost. Praise the Lord!

I feel like many worship leaders would not want to use this song because of the verses, how they communicate our deficiency to be able to worship God sufficiently. This perception could be very wrong, but if it’s not, then I encourage them to take a risk and use this song. The chorus is so memorable and easy to learn (after you drop the key a bit) and there is so much truth and ways to worship God with this song, that it must be used!

There is a Sound

The CCLI top 25 is a list that shows the top 25 songs used in churches today during their worship services. While there a number of songs on here that are great musically, lyrically and theologically. However, I believe that there are better songs still. I must emphasis that this is my opinion, and nothing more. I may have good logic behind my opinion, but it doesn’t make it the right songs for this list. My hope is that some churches will come across these posts and think about using these songs.

The second song on my list is “There is a Sound” by David Crowder*Band. For those that know me there is no surprise that I have a number of DC*B songs on the list. DC*B has long put together a stellar set of songs both musically and theologically. What I have always loved about them, is that their lyrics make you stop and think, they change the way you see your faith and the way you think about God and who God is. This song has similar lyric.

“There is a Sound” has a few lines that I just love and for me make a song that should make the CCLI Top 25 list. First lets look at what I believe is the most important set of lyrics:

“He alone is holy,

He alone most high

To God be the glory

To God be the glory

Spirit, Father, Jesus Christ”

There are three reasons these lyrics are so important, first: the trinity is clearly mentioned. Currently zero CCLI top 25 songs mention the trinity. Second it mentions that God alone is Holy and separately that we should give God glory. I don’t think that Christians really think about the difference between God’s glory and God’s holiness. Holiness is who God is, it is as much of God as Love is. God’s glory is what is seen or heard of God. This could be by His own doing, like His creation, or His revelation or His appearance before Moses and others. It could also be His work in our life and our testimony to that.

Lets look at a few other lyrics now:

“Behold the Lamb of God

Who takes away our sin

Have Mercy”

This is the pre-chorus for the song, it communicates a knowledge and understanding that our sin is taken away by the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, but that mercy is still needed. Our sins being taken away is a free gift of grace. We should never take it for granted, God’s mercy and grace is something we should always cherish and hold in high regard. Which, to me, is what the lyrics say.

Ok last set:

“There is a love, like the brightest day

When all is glowing

In unending praise.”

This communicates the brilliance of God’s love, and the unending praise that results because of that love. This song is so great! I hope you take the time to listen to it.

The Doxology

On my list of songs that I think should be on the CCLI top 25 list, the Doxology starts us off. The reason for this is two-fold: 1) Its short, simple and easy to remember, 2) It is trinitarian in nature. Most of our popular worship songs today are not trinitarian in nature. Additionally the Doxology communicates something very important, and quite apparently (if your looking). It communicates that all of creation is called to worship God. Lets take a look at a few lyrics:

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow”

If we are to praise God, and praise Him properly we are to do it fully to God. This means worship must be trinitarian. I have no doubt that anyone could argue that worship shouldn’t be trinitarian, but I believe it must. At the very least because the blessings of the Lord are possible to us through the word of the trinity. We are brought into a whole relationship with Father through the blood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ and by the endwelling of the Holy Spirit in us. Thus, the blessings of God are made possible because of that relationship, sent by the Father, through the blood of Christ and we are only able to accept them because of this blood and the indwelling of the spirit.

Ok next lines:

“Praise Him all creatures here below, praise Him above, ye heavenly Hosts.”

These two lines encapsulate all of creation. It does not say “Praise Him all humanity here below.” it says “creatures”! If you turn to Revelation 5-7 you will see how all of creation ends up praising the Lord.

Lastly,

“Praise, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost”

Trinitarian worship, more fully spelled out. This song calls all of creation (and perhaps more specifically the Church) to praise God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen!

Working Definition

In my last post I began to talk about the worship wars. A friend of mine challenged the idea that everyone worships. I believe that is because the definition of worship has become so narrow. In my experience when you ask people what worship is they define it along these lines: “Singing songs to God.” Well they got a small portion of the definition there. The word that is translated most into worship is the Greek word proskynein. This word roughly translates into bowing down or prostrating oneself before someone or something. In the biblical sense it is more given to the idea that this is the attitude of the heart, as well as an acceptable worship position. In the Old Testament if you were to dedicate yourself to the worship of a God or set of gods you dedicated your life to their service. Everything you did in your day to day life was to serve them in some capacity. This should still be true to today. This is why I claim (as Noel Due also wrote) that all people worship. Some worship God, others serve other gods. More often than not people are serving themselves, making money, and trying to get ahead for themselves. This means that more often than not people are worshiping who? Themselves, and by proxy (because of a simply devious and evil deception by The Deciever himself Satan) they are worshiping the Satan.

For the remainder of the “Worship War” series that I write I am going to be working from this definition of worship: Worship is the life consuming and life long service to a person, persons, or deity. It can include the way life is lived, how one treats those he meets, the attitude they have in work, prayers, reading of scriptures, serving, bowing down, and singing of songs among other things. Keep in mind that although I attempted to be thorough in my definition that it is still limiting as well as not the best definition of worship. I would appreciate additions to my definitions in the comment section.

How do you best worship?

O Holy Night . . .

“O Holy Night” is my favorite Christmas Carole. Musically it rises and falls beautifully, draws you in, and takes you on a journey. Lyrically it is thoughtful and well written. Theologically, this is why I really love it. This song lays out a great worship theology. “Fall on your knees, hear the angel’s voices.” These lines speak deeply into what worship is. The Greek word for worship is proskynein which translates into bow down, or a kiss toward. We don’t often see worship as this, we normally think worship is singing songs. This is just a part, the word proskynein does not indicate a physical reaction but an action of one’s heart. Your heart and soul are to bow before God in worship, what it be. In addition, hearing the angels is an indication of eternal worship. When we worship today, we are to look back at what God has done, worship Him in the present and for what He is doing and finally, perhaps most importantly, worship God for what He will do and the eternal worship we will enjoy with the angels and Jesus Christ in the New Earth, “forever and ever and ever . . .”

This song is not my normal worship song pick, it isn’t my style, nor is it written more recently. My second point comes from this. Style and era of the song shouldn’t matter, the author of the song shouldn’t matter either. We shouldn’t select songs because they are the most popular Hillsong songs, or Tomlin, or Redman, or Crowder, or Jesus Culture and we can hear them on the radio. We should pick them because they are musically compelling and easy to remember and more importantly because their theological and doctrinal language edifies us and glorifies God!! The song should cause us to proskynein (worship) God, not think “Oh this song is so cool and I love the author.” I am just as guilty as this as anyone, I freely admit that I have bias toward DC*B. My challenge to myself, and other worship leader, pastors and worshipers is to find songs that truly worship God, and don’t just give you the warm fuzzies. Our worship tells the story of God in a way that glorifies Him, make sure we strive to do that as well.

Focus

A few weekends ago I was sitting in a worship service enjoying singing worship songs and Christmas carols with my fellow Christians at the church I attend. Now this church is not a large church by any means. It can’t afford to have the best technology, the sleekest auditorium, and the best trained volunteers. What makes this church wonderful is the people! Many of the people that attend this church feel called to be a part of it, they weren’t attracted to it because of it’s smooth presentation and state of the art facility, they were attracted to this church because they felt God was doing something there, and that they were called to be a part of it. Well on this particular Sunday morning a video was to be shown. I have always lamented the fact that changing from PowerPoint, to video was not as smooth as it could be, but the church just doesn’t own the tech. On this Sunday there was about a minute of awkward shuffling and panic from the computer/video tech guy as he attempted to sort out the issue. I patiently waited with most of the congregation for things to sort out, as they always do. I was shocked and saddened to hear the gentleman sitting right behind me say, “Oh what a surprise technical difficulties!”

I am well aware that technology and the ‘seeker sensitive’ movement has created a mass of Christians who are consumerist in their thought toward church. I am not condemning the seeker sensitive movement it did some good stuff. What I am ashamed of as a Christian and worshiper of God is the consumerist attitude many Christians have. Despite all of this, I was surprised that someone with this attitude, someone who expected everything to go off without a hitch and as smooth as a hollywood production was sitting in our church that morning. What surprised and shocked me and saddened me the most was that this person was a long time member of the church, and a person that appeared upfront on numerous occasions to give announcements and pray. At that moment I wanted to turn around and confront the gentleman, and rebuke him for his attitude and try to correct his thought process. However, I did not in that moment, because I also became angry at this gentleman for his attitude. I never did get a chance to talk to this gentleman, which I regret.

However, it got me thinking. What is most peoples focus in worship? Do they focus on the quality of the music and production? Do they focus on whether they feel their needs are being met? Or do they focus on the worship of God and the revelation of God to us through His written Word? I am the first to admit that my focus is not always as it should be. I do get lost in some of the trivial details of church sometimes. However, the Church I attend normally does a great job in their music and video production, and more importantly they always do a great job of focusing on God, and not themselves.

My question is: What do you focus on in church? Is it what you can get out of it? Or is it how you can serve and worship God best?