Archives For Worship

What is Worship?

November 10, 2014

“Worship is at heart a person offered to God, claiming no rights, making no more selfish demands than a dead man does, but living fully, richly and wholly to God and by His power.”

– Graham Kendrick


Use these lyrics in place of the bridge in the song Oceans. Turn that personal statement of faith into intercession for the persecuted church.

“Open wide the gates of glory for the dying
For the saints who have been faithful
in the dark days of their trial.

Show your mercy to the hungry and the frightened
Scatter all those who love violence
Show the nations you are mighty”

– Sung in place of the bridge in the song “Oceans.”



Tullian.JPGWe ought to experience God with the totality of our being in worship. Worship services ought to inform the mind intellectually, engage the heart emotionally, and bend the will volitionally. God wants thoughtful worshippers who believe, emotional worshippers who behold, and obedient worshippers who behave. God-centered worship produces people who think deeply about God, feel passionately for God, and live urgently in response to God. Therefore, when we meet God in worship, we should expect a combination of gravity and gladness, depth and delight, doctrine and devotion, precept and passion, truth and love.
– Tullian Tchividjian

Worship by Tullian Tchividjian taken from Don’t Call it a Comeback, edited by Kevin DeYoung, copyright 2011, Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton Illinois 60187,, p. 219-220.

“God is the ultimate musician. His music transforms your life. The notes of redemption rearrange your heart and restore your life. His songs of forgiveness, grace, reconciliation, truth, hope, sovereignty, and love give you back your humanity and restore your identity.”

– Paul David Tripp

God is the Ultimate Musician

God in Flesh and Blood

January 16, 2014

God in Flesh and BloodLast Sunday we introduced the song “God in Flesh and Blood” (By Jennie Lee Riddle, Travis Ryan and Brandon Collins) to our congregation. One of the moments that all worship leaders dread a bit is wondering if a song they introduce is going to “take hold” in the congregation. Some songs you don’t even bother doing again because the echoing thud of it seals its fate. Others deserve a second or third go around before deciding and some just settle right it at home. I knew that would happen with “God in Flesh and Blood.” It’s just that good. At rehearsal, the band asked “why didn’t you do this at Christmas time?!” Well, I have only just come across it for one and besides that, why are incarnation songs limited to the Advent/Christmas season? I love narratives that cover the scope of Christ’s ministry. A great example is Stuart Townend’s “From the Squalor of a Borrowed Stable.” The title sounds all Christmasy but it’s one of the most dynamic resurrection songs you will ever hear. “God in Flesh and Blood” begins at the incarnation:

From heaven You came down
You left Your throne and bowed
Humble sovereignty
Laid at the Father’s feet
Earth recognized Your cry
As worship filled the night
Son of God has come
Love now here with us

The chorus hearkens to the angels of Bethlehem and yet rings out as the fresh cry of grateful hearts at anytime:

Glory to God in the highest
Peace to the weary world
Blessed is He who has come to save us
God in flesh and blood

The second verse goes right to the cross and God in flesh and blood takes on a whole new insight:

Your hands and feet were bound
Thorns became Your crown
The love that molded us
Was nailed upon the cross
Every drop of grace
Was spilled out on that day
You were lifted high
O God the crucified

The chorus, as you might imagine, gains even more power at this point and the bridge that follows brings God in flesh and blood to yet another place – not the babe in Bethlehem or the crucified one on Calvary but the church!

Resurrection life
You gave up Your Spirit to give it to Your bride
Resurrection life
You gave up Your Spirit to come and live inside us

I don’t know if the writers were consciously carrying that theme forward from the manger to the cross to the church, but I think it works powerfully as praise and instruction. The melody is memorable, easily learned, the hook is there but the star is the lyric. By the way, you can purchase the beautiful string arrangement that accompanies the song in the video below.  If I have any quibble at all with the song it’s the use of “it” to refer to the Spirit. The Spirit, being a person, should be referred to as such but it’s a small matter. All in all, I’m delighted to add this to our church’s repertoire. Thanks Jennie, Travis and Brandon for such a lovely song.

Vertical Church Band: The Rock Won’t Move

“VCB encourages us to have a faith that stands on the Rock that won’t move.”


vertical-church-rock-wont-moveI turned 57 this last week and it seems the older I get the more I’m turning into that guy. You know, the one who loves the old songs and wonders why we need a constant glut of new worship songs? I’m still trying to learn how to sing the ones from last year! And whatever happened to being able to hear individual instruments? Where did this wall of sound come from?  (I can hear my bones fossilizing as I write this…) As a worship leader, I honestly do value what new songs bring to the church and I’m always on the look out for great ones. More than once I have seen a new song breathe fresh winds into the sails of congregational worship. That being said, I’ve also seen a lot of really bad songs become popular due to catchy hooks but added nothing to edification of the church. (Col. 3:16) The great songs lift our hearts and feed our souls not not only with beauty but strong truth.

Enter Vertical Church Band and their new collection of worship songs entitled “The Rock Won’t Move.” VCB comes out Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago, pastored by James MacDonald.  Harvest  has a strong emphasis on solid doctrine and biblical preaching that shows up clearly in the worship music that flows out of the church. Yes, there is the typical wall of sound going on here (Can’t wait for that pendulum to swing!) and some of the usual over worked exultations:

I am free, I am free indeed
I am free, I am free indeed
We are free, free indeed
We are free, free indeed
– “I’m Going Free (Jailbreak)

But there are some real gems here that are original, poetic, musically inspiring and theologically tasty. Two really stand out. First is “Worthy Worthy.” Somewhat akin to Revelation Song, “Worthy Worthy” has the kind of simple chorus that one can get lost in while worshipping, but the verses are what really stand out to me. It opens with:

No pen or quill, no scribe in perfect skill
With flawless words could capture all You are
No lofty thought, no scholar of this world
Could grasp an inch of such infinity

I appreciate songs that capture the notion of how transcendent God is and the smallness of our capacity to comprehend His greatness. The second verse with the pre-chorus:

With hearts amazed and songs that never frame
The fullness of your worth and majesty
We come again and fall on bended knee
And here adore the God that we don’t see
Though we cannot comprehend such a mystery
Just a glimpse of You revealed is compelling us to sing

Indeed! His self-revelation to our hearts is compelling! How can we not worship? The melody makes the song very congregationally friendly and I can see our church doing this.

“With hearts amazed and songs that never frame the fullness of your worth and majesty, We come again and fall on bended knee and here adore the God that we don’t see”

The PR folks are trumpeting  “The Rock Won’t Move,” “Strong God,” “Worthy Worthy,” “Call On The Name,” and the album opener “Found In You.” There really are some nice songs here but one not mentioned as a “key track” that I would consider THE track is “I Will Follow.”  Why? Because we have done such a poor job of  highlighting the reality of suffering and death in our worship. I’ve been saying for some time to young worship leaders that our job is not just to instruct people in living but preparing them to face suffering and the reality of death in a godly way. I can see some of this making an appearance in several of the songs in this collection but “I Will Follow” captures it beautifully:

When I see the wicked prospering
When I feel I have no voice to sing
Even in the want, I’ll follow You
Even in the want, I’ll follow You

When I find myself so far from home
And You lead me somewhere I don’t wanna go
Even in my death, I’ll follow You
Even in my death, I’ll follow You

These are profound statements with huge implications – ones that we need to train believers to deal with. The chorus is a simple affirmation:

I believe everything that You say You are
I believe that I have seen Your unchanging heart
In the good things and in the hardest part
I believe and I will follow You
I believe and I will follow You

In the “good things and in the hardest part.” One thing that 57 years have shown me is that the hard parts are relentless. VCB encourage us to have a faith that stands on the Rock that won’t move.
Check out the promotional video below and click here to get the song The Rock Won’t Move with leadsheet from Noisetrade!


Jeff Ling is the Pastor of Clear River Community Church in Northern Virginia.

Archibald G Brown

Archibald G. Brown (July 18, 1844 – April 2, 1922) was a student of Spurgeon’s and succeeded him for a short season at The Metropolitan Tabernacle. This is from one of his sermons.

The devil has seldom done a more clever thing, than hinting to the Church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them. From speaking out the gospel, the Church has gradually toned down her testimony, then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her borders. Now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses!

My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the Church. If it is a Christian work why did not Christ speak of it? ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, and provide amusement for those who do not relish the gospel’.

No such words, however, are to be found. It did not seem to occur to Him. Where do entertainers come in? The Holy Spirit is silent concerning them. Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people, or because they confronted them? The ‘concert’ has no martyr roll.

Again, providing amusement is in direct antagonism to the teaching and life of Christ and all His apostles. What was the attitude of the apostolic Church to the world? “You are the salt of the world”, not the sugar candy; something the world will spit out, not swallow.

Had Jesus introduced more of the bright and pleasant elements into His teaching, He would have been more popular. When “many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him,” I do not hear Him say, ‘Run after these people, Peter, and tell them we will have a different style of service tomorrow; something short and attractive with little preaching. We will have a pleasant evening for the people. Tell them they will be sure to enjoy it! Be quick, Peter, we must get the people somehow!’

No! Jesus pitied sinners, sighed and wept over them, but never sought to amuse them!

In vain will the epistles be searched to find any trace of the ‘gospel of amusement’. Their message is, “Therefore, come out from them and separate yourselves from them… Don’t touch their filthy things…” Anything approaching amusement is conspicuous by its absence. They had boundless confidence in the gospel and employed no other weapon.

Now Following on Twitter…

August 16, 2013

Here’s some folks you may want to check out on Twitter:

@RKSundayNoise – “Richard Kentopp’s Sunday Noise is a series of discussions aimed at helping worship and liturgy planners begin to think critically about their music on Sundays”.

@BasicWorshpTeam  – “Basic worship team tips and cheats for worship leaders & team members”

@ChurchCollectiv“Equipping and Empowering Worship Leaders Worldwide. Let us partner with you and put music in the hands of those who need it.”

@rethinkworship – “ReThink Worship is a collection of creative worship ideas, songs, videos and resources for the church.”

@jkharvill  – “Love God, love my wife, love my kids, love music and guitars, love to write, arrange, play, produce and perform music!”· 

@twelve30media – “Generic and Custom Media for churches and organizations! Mini-Movies, backgrounds, countdowns, bumpers, and more! Your one-stop source for great screen content!”


In Christ Alone wordleIt’s likely that Stuart Townend and Keith Getty would have made some coin if their hymn “In Christ Alone” had been included in the new hymn book being produced by the PCUSA (Presbyterian Church) but they turned down the offer for it to be included. Why? The Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song could not abide the reference to God’s wrath in the song’s second stanza: “Till on that cross as Jesus died / the wrath of God was satisfied.”  They requested that the line be amended to:  “and on that cross as Jesus died / the love of God was magnified.”  Getty and Townend refused. The committee voted on the song with the original stanzas intact and by a vote of nine to six ejected it from consideration.

I’m grateful.

Like a number of other denominations, the PCUSA is liberal in their theological teaching and the doctrine of Christ’s propitiation of God’s wrath finds no welcome. In a post on the Christian Century, committee member Mary Louise Bringle reports the process as follows:

“People making a case to retain the text with the authors’ original lines spoke of the fact that the words expressed one view of God’s saving work in Christ that has been prevalent in Christian history: the view of Anselm and Calvin, among others, that God’s honor was violated by human sin and that God’s justice could only be satisfied by the atoning death of a sinless victim. While this might not be our personal view, it was argued, it is nonetheless a view held by some members of our family of faith; the hymnal is not a vehicle for one group’s perspective but rather a collection for use by a diverse body.

Arguments on the other side pointed out that a hymnal does not simply collect diverse views, but also selects to emphasize some over others as part of its mission to form the faith of coming generations; it would do a disservice to this educational mission, the argument ran, to perpetuate by way of a new (second) text the view that the cross is primarily about God’s need to assuage God’s anger.

Obviously the committee understands the power of song in the church to inform and shape Christian faith and understanding. While it was noted that some of the less enlightened held the views of “Anselm and Calvin” it would be a terrible disservice to future generations to perpetuate such a crude way of thinking.

How tragic.

The problem is that the gospel presented without God’s wrath is a gospel half told. The late Francis Schaeffer said, “There is no real preaching of the Christian gospel except in the light of the fact that man is under the wrath of God, the moral wrath of God.”* It is in light of that great and terrible reality that God’s love shines with blazing light! Certainly the love of God was magnified by the death of Christ on the cross and that magnification becomes it’s most radiant when seen against the backdrop of God’s settled wrath against all that falls short of His glory. An astounding thing indeed! A Holy God, bearing just wrath against rebel man, makes a way to remain just and yet be man’s justifier! Never shrink from the cross! Never minimize God’s wrath! Go deep into that awful darkness and there discover the diamond of redeeming love in the face of our suffering Savior and let our songs exalt God in the fullness of all that He is and the wonder of all He has done.


* Francis Schaeffer, Death in the City (Downers Grove, InterVarsity Press: 1969) 93

Henry Law“Praise can never be exhausted. The more we contemplate the exploits of our Lord, the more we are moved to uplift adoration… the wonders of Redeeming Love shine with the brightest blaze. Here Christ appears the mighty conqueror. Hell and its legion had usurped dominion over man. Many chains enthralled him. He was bound in irons of captivity. Jesus undertakes the rescue. He leads captivity captive, and saves His people from the cruel grasp. Alone He does the work. He by Himself purges our sins. Alone He hangs upon the accursed tree. Alone He tramples Satan beneath His feet. To Him be all the praise. In Him salvation triumphs.”

– Henry Law