This weekend in worship, we began a new series, The Appraisal of All Things. In it, we are digging into the epistle of Philippians, where Paul communicates with the church at Philippi about what matters most. Our set for the series involves a junked 40's International truck and rusty tin, along with some junkyard images on our sidewalls. The thinking was that we are portraying things that were once very valuable, but now they are worthless pieces of junked rust. Paul said that he counted the things of this world "rubbish" in comparison to the joy of knowing Jesus Christ. Our hope through this series is for our church to put things in proper perspective, and "appraise" their worth in comparison to the matchless worth of Jesus. Here's our set from this weekend:
"All Because Of Jesus" (Bb) [Steve Fee] Call to Worship - Psalm 63:3-5 "Marvelous Light" (B) [Charlie Hall] Welcome/Offering/Announcements/Greeting Time "Your Grace Is Enough" (G) [Matt Maher] "Son of God" (G) [Jon Neufeld, Tim Neufeld, Ed Cash, Gordon Cochran] "Wonderful Maker" (G) [Matt Redman and Chris Tomlin] Message - "The Appraisal of All Things: He Who Began a Good Work in You" [Joe Hishmeh] Response - "From the Inside Out" (C) [Joel Houston]
(This will be a brief recap, because I am about to leave on a 23-hour road trip to visit friends and family in Florida.)
Because the thrust of Joe's message was going to be on Philippians 1:6, "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (ESV), I went with the theme of God creating us--both in the beginning and through Christ. Along these lines, we opened our services with "All Because of Jesus," which emphasizes how the Lord is the giver and sustainer of physical life, as well as how He is the giver and sustainer of spiritual life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was exactly the angle I was going for in our theme for worship this weekend.
During the call to worship we tried something new (it was new to me, too), and began to teach our congregation about different Biblical expressions of worship, mostly described in the Psalms. This weekend, we taught our congregation about lifting their hands in worship. I read from Psalm 63:3-5, which ends by stating, "So I will bless You as long as I live; In Your name I will lift up my hands" (ESV). I had them raise one hand while we prayed together, just as a way to practice the expression in a non-threatening environment, where everyone was doing it together. I could tell that some people felt a little awkward, but it was a learning moment, and I believe it was healthy for our congregation. The idea of going through the Biblical expressions of worship with a congregation was not original from me--I got the idea from Paul Baloche at a worship conference in Florida. I thought it was a brilliant way to expand a church's horizons and give them more understanding of ways that they can Biblically express themselves to God. I will keep you updated about how it progresses.
After the call to worship, we jumped into “Marvelous Light,” to declare how we have been transferred from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of Jesus—the kingdom of light. The chorus is always powerful: “Into marvelous light I’m running/ Out of darkness, out of shame/ By the cross You are the truth, You are the life, You are the way.” My favorite part of the song, however, is the pre-chorus, which sings, “Sin has lost its power/ Death has lost its sting/ From the grave You’ve risen/ Victoriously!” When we go strong on that part after the instrumental break, I am always pumped up. Does our celebration in Christ get wrapped up much more succinctly? I can’t think of a lyric that says it better.
For the second set, we sang “Your Grace Is Enough,” “Son of God,” and “Wonderful Maker.” “Your Grace Is Enough” is a staple, and very familiar with our people. For years, I sang Chris Tomlin’s version of the song, which adds the variations of the chorus at the end. Only recently, as I have tried to make the songs we sing more accessible for congregations, have I sung Matt Maher’s version, without the additional choruses. I feel it is easier for people to sing with the original choruses, and the additional ones can be somewhat confusing because the rhythm of the lyric changes somewhat. If we are trying to get our people to engage and participate, I believe the original choruses are the way to go.
We also continued teaching Starfield’s “Son of God,” which continues to gain strength in our congregation. The simple melody, and clear and concise lyric connects well. We will continue teaching it for one more week, and then give it a break for a few weeks to bring it back later as a refresher. The focus of the song fits well with Philippians, so it will probably make a few appearances over the next 16 weeks or so as we journey through the book.
We finished this set with “Wonderful Maker,” which was part of a revolution in my thinking regarding worship music. Until I encountered this song, I was drawn to the emotional songs that focused on how I felt and what I needed. When I first heard this song, I was confronted with a song that has only one occurrence of first person, when it sings, “And we have only heard/ The faintest whispers of how great You are.” The rest of the song speaks only of God, His greatness, and His goodness. It was refreshing, to say the least, and it challenged my priorities in worship. Was I participating only for what I could get out of it? Was my worship selfish or self-centered? Or was I doing it only because the Godhead is worthy of all my praise and glory? These questions made me reevaluate my choices regarding worship and the way I led worship through music. As a result, I try to spend the majority of our worship time focusing on God--who He is and what He has done—and less time worrying about us. Worship is about God. He is worthy of my praise, no matter what I am dealing with or think I need. He has paid the price for our redemption and rescue, and He is ultimately more valuable than anything, or anyone, else.
We responded to Joe’s message about God’s “good work” in us by singing “From The Inside Out,” which is another well-known song for Fellowship. I love the dynamics of this song, how it builds from quiet reflection on our weaknesses to committed, sincere praise to the everlasting God, the one whose worth and power never diminishes.
The recurring themes throughout this weekend’s music were Jesus’ surpassing worth and creative activity. It was time well spent.
I hope you had a great weekend of worship wherever you were. Be sure to check out The Worship Community to see what other believers experienced in their worship gatherings this past weekend.
I will be out this next week on vacation, so I won’t have a set list for next weekend. I may have our Next Gen worship leader, Erik Oldberg (he doesn’t know it yet), put some of his thoughts down from leading the weekend services for me.
In the Son,