Here's our set from this weekend: "God Is Alive" (A) [Steve Fee and Eddie Kirkland] Call to Worship - Psalm 96:1-4, 10a "Say, Say" (A) [Kristian Stanfill, Chris Tomlin, and Christy Nockels] Welcome/Offering/Announcements/Greeting "Everlasting God" (Bb) [Brenton Brown and Ken Riley] "It Is Well" (Bb) [Todd Fields, Philip Paul Bliss, and Horatio G. Spafford] "Stronger" (Bb) [Ben Fielding and Reuben Morgan] Message - "I Believe: Questions & Answers" [Joe Hishmeh] Response - "All To Us" [Matt Maher, Matt Redman, Jesse Reeves, and Chris Tomlin]
This week we introduced Steve Fee and Eddie Kirkland's "God Is Alive" to our congregation. We began teaching it today in preparation for Easter. I cannot think of a more fitting lyric for celebrating Christ's victory over sin and death through His death and resurrection. I think it is one of the best modern songs that have been written for Easter. The solid lyric and high energy of the song are a perfect fit for celebrating Jesus' resurrection:
"God Is Alive"
Verse 1 Let the darkness flee It's got no power over me I have been set free God is alive
Verse 2 Death where is your sting? Sin had got no hold on me I am free indeed God is alive
Pre-Chorus We've been redeemed So rise and sing
Chorus 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
Verse 3 Let us wake and rise Lift your voices, lift your eyes We're gonna shout, we're gonna shake the skies God is alive
Bridge The empty grave is singing now It's shouting out He is alive, He is alive And we are free
We also brought back "Say Say" for the closing message of our "I Believe" series. It is a fitting declaration for this series, as it sings in the chorus: "Say, say, say you believe it/ Sing for the whole world to hear it/ We know and we declare it/ Jesus is King/ Say, say, say you believe it/ Sing loud, sing like you mean it/ We know and we declare it/ Jesus is King." After doing this series for ten weeks, this is where we must land. After all we have seen and heard about the greatness of God, the proper response is to go out a proclaim the truth and greatness of the name of Jesus and His gospel to the world. We need to know what we believe to be able to communicate that message clearly to others.
This week, we also introduced our new pastor of ministries, J.D. Holt. He just finished making the 2100-mile trip from Bellingham, WA to Topeka to begin working with us. I am excited about having him on our team, and about the leadership and experience he will bring to managing our staff team. He's a great guy, and I really look forward to getting to know him and his wife, Christy. I was nervous as we were searching for the man to fill this role, as my experience has shown it to be crucial to the personality of the staff team. I believe our prayers have been answered in J.D., and we are very grateful!
After the welcome time, we started the second set of music with "Everlasting God." From Isaiah 40, this song paints a powerful picture of God and His attributes. As we sing the chorus, "You are the everlasting God/ The everlasting God/ You do not faint, You won't grow weary/ You're the defender of the weak/ You comfort those in need/ You lift us up on wings like eagles," I cannot help but see not only a description of God's greatness, but a call to God's people to be like their heavenly Father. As I sing, I feel challenged to defend the weak and comfort those in need as I am strengthened by the Lord. This song is a favorite of our congregation, and I don't mind at all - this is a solid song from the Scriptures that speaks of the unchanging, everlasting greatness of our God.
We followed this song with Todd Field's hymn rewrite, "It Is Well." I have said it before, but I'll say it again: this is one of my favorite hymn rewrites. It preserves the original verses intact, with a very cool acoustic arrangement underneath, has a very fitting new chorus, and it even includes the original hymn's refrain at the end. I love how it ties the old and the new in a fresh way. It always brings us to worship as we celebrate God's faithfulness.
We finished this set with "Stronger," by Reuben Morgan and Ben Fielding. We're dusting this one off for Easter, because it is a clear anthem about God's great power to save and conquer sin and death. This was the first time I have led this song with a band. It was one that I began teaching in one venue where I was previously, but I never had the opportunity to bring it into our main services because I ran out of time. I love the chorus: "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." The use of the word "stronger" is refreshing, because it takes the common "mighty" or "powerful" ideas and uses our current language to express it. This song reminds me to write in such a way that captures the truth of the Scripture in vibrant, current language that our congregations can take hold of and sing from their hearts. It is easier for the "average Joe" to connect with words we normally use than it is to connect with erudite language. This song does that well.
We finished the services with "All To Us," which also effectively connects with the sum of this "I Believe" message series. I struggled with using this song in the beginning, because when the phrase "all to us" is taken at face value, it could be easily misunderstood to mean something like, "God exists for our sakes." However, its meaning is more along the lines of, "God is everything to us." He is our sufficiency and our strength, our foundation and our confidence. May this truly be our declaration, that God is our everything. He is the only one that we need. He is the only one on whom our hope should be built.
It was a great weekend of worship. Zach Pruett stepped up and played bass for the first time in our weekend services, and he did a great job, after only playing bass for five months! Bob Fulmer did a great job adjusting to the click track for the first time ever. His attitude was admirable in saying, "It will make me a better player." I hope for each of us that difficulties and challenges are seen as opportunities to better ourselves and to better serve our church and the kingdom of God with our abilities. The rest of the team did a great job, as usual, and it was a great joy to lead with them again. Our tech team is so faithful to do a great job each week, and they make it easy for each of us to do our part. I feel that each week we are strengthening and improving, and there are great things on the horizon for this worship and arts ministry. Also, the Aviom system continues to be an asset to give us more time to rehearse and prepare for the weekend, and that has been very apparent in the way we play.
I hope you had a great weekend of worship wherever you were. Please visit The Worship Community to check out their Sunday Set Lists to see what other leaders and team members did this weekend in their contexts. Leave your comments below and join the conversation about our worship ministry and the songs we sing together.
In the Son,