Matthew 5:17-20 Study Notes

“Do not think…” v.17

Two Major Components of the Old Testament:

  • Law—“Torah”

  • Prophecy

“To fulfill…”— plerosai (aorist, active, infinitive) - because of the disjunction (“or”) between “law” and “prophets,” it implies that this phrase has a double meaning. He fulfills the law in one way, and the prophets in another way.

Jesus’ Fulfillment…

  • Fulfillment of the Law

  • ulfillment of Prophecy

“Till all is fulfilled” v.18—

"Jot" – Yod — The "y" sound in Hebrew – the smallest letter in the Hebrew Alphabet. Basically, it's the equivalent of the English apostrophe: '

“Tittle” – (Greek keraia) — this is the smallest distinguishing mark in Hebrew letters, similar to the mark at the bottom of the letter "Q." In Hebrew, that mark is the difference between the equivalent R and D sounding letters in Hebrew. This mark is small but still very significant. In Deuteronomy 6:4, this mark distinguishing these two letters is the difference between the verse saying "The Lord our God, the Lord is one," and "The Lord our God, the Lord is another." Those are very different messages, so this tiny mark is critical to the preservation of the truth.

 

“These commandments” v.19, 20 —

Moral, ethical demands·

The result of disobedience

This is not imputed righteousness as an abstract idea, but practical righteousness, worked out in daily life.

Matthew 5:3-12 Study Notes

Blessed (gr. makarioi) — blessed, with an internal emphasis, happy (external blessing – Mt. 25:34)

  • OT – offer of blessing but warning of curse. 
  • NT – no warning of curse. The New Covenant is greater than the Old because it is effective. It will transform and change. No curse need be threatened. Blessings alone are promised!            

is the kingdom (v. 3, 10) — Present tense. The kingdom of heaven begins when Christ rules in the hearts of His followers.

Shall  be... (v. 4-9) — Future tense. Fulfillment in part right now, but complete fulfillment in the eschaton, the end.

1. the poor in spirit — The word for poor comes from the word which means to crouch or to cringe, to shrink with fear, usually in association with utter destitution, poverty, and therefore begging.

2. those who mourn ­­— Those who lament over their spiritual lack, and recognize their sickness and their need for the Lord. They mourn not only for their own sin, but for the sin of the world around them. (2 Cor. 7:10)

“Confession is one thing, contrition is another.”
(
John StottThe Message of the Sermon on the Mount, p. 41)

3. the meek — Those who have a proper perspective of themselves because of poverty in spirit and resulting mourning; they are gentle to those around them, they treat others as they have been treated.  We have lost both the right and the material to boast.

4. those who hunger and thirst for righteousness — Progressive present, which could be properly translated as “those who are hungering and thirsting for righteousness."

We need God’s righteousness to fill our lives, because we lack righteousness altogether.

5. the merciful — When we are poor, mourning, meek, hungry and thirsty, we will be merciful with others, who—knowingly or not—are in the same spiritual condition as we are. We must recognize that God has been extremely merciful to us, and share that mercy with all, just as God has done. (Titus 3:3)

6. the pure in heart — The idea of purity is that of being undivided, unmixed, focused on only God. Soren Kierkegaard entitled his book about spiritual preparation Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing, which is a fitting picture of the biblical concept of purity. (James 4:8) 

7. the peacemakers — We are to be like Jesus Christ, who has made peace on the cross. We are not only to receive peace, but actively pursue peace. (Heb. 12:14, 2 Cor. 5:18)

The Result of truly following Christ is persecution (v. 10-12). Notice it is blessed when we suffer for Jesus’ sake. It is only for His sake when we are following Him. People will attack what they don’t understand. We are no longer of this world, so they will reject us like they rejected Jesus. When they reject us, we are to “jump and rejoice” because of our reward in heaven, for we are being likened to the prophets.

7 character traits—a symbol of complete Christian character.

Matthew 5:1-2 Study Notes

“Seeing the crowds…” v.1

  • Jesus went “into the mountain” in order to get away from the rowds, or to get some relief from the crowds, where He could teach His true followers (see v. 2).

“He went into the mountain…” v.1

  • anebe eis to oros – “he went into the mountain” (see previous post)
  • Matthew was using a particular, uncommon phrasing in order to make a point.
  • This particular phrasing is only used in two other places in the Bible, in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament).  Both of these occurances are in reference to Moses receiving the Law from God in Exodus 19.3, and Ex. 24.18.  Moses had prophesied of a prophet like him, but greater than him (Dt. 18.15, 18), and Matthew is making the case that Jesus is that one.  There are similarities throughout Matthew’s Gospel, which compare Jesus to Moses, as the bringer of the New Covenant Law.

“…and sat Himself down.” v.1

  • The posture of the teacher: seated, imparting knowledge to His disciples.

“His disciples came to Him…” v. 2

  • Note that His disciples came to Him, not just anyone who happened to be following Jesus around, as spectators.  These were the ones that believed in His teachings and sought to follow them.

“He opened His mouth and taught them.” v. 2

  • A Jewish idiom found elsewhere in the New Testament (Mt. 13:35; Acts 8:35, 10:34, 18:14), and in the Old Testament (Job 3:1, 33:2; Dan. 10:16). According to D.A. Carson, “it is used in solemn or revelatory contexts.”

Matthew 5:13-16 Study Notes

”You are”

  • In the Greek, Jesus is emphasizing the "you" part of this statement ("You, you are..."). He is making sure that we understand that it is solely the role of His followers, and no one else, to be the salt and the light of the world.

Salt — uses:

  • Preservation, purification (Ex. 30.35, Ez. 16.4)
  • herbicide or a destructive agent  (Deut. 29.23, Judges 9.45, Psalm 107.33-34, Jer. 17.6, Zeph 2.9)
  • seasoning (Mark 9.49)

What function are we supposed to serve here?

  • We are to be the purifying agent of the earth and the preservers of the truth.
  • We cannot be the preservers of the earth, because the earth is corrupt and decaying.

“of the earth” – of (genitive of reference), meaning salt as far as the earth is concerned.

  • We are to be in the world, but not of the world.

“loses its flavor” –to be made foolish, to be defiled. 

  • This expression suggests an Aramaic background.
  • What happens as a result of this?
  • If we lose our saltiness - or purity - how will we be purified?
  • When we lose our purity, we become counter-productive, and we become an agent of destruction rather than healing and purifying.

“thrown out and trampled underfoot” (katapateo) – walked around on, trampled with scorn and shame

  • When salt became impure or mixed with sand, it was good for nothing but to be thrown out.  It could not even be thrown in the dung heap because it would destroy what little value that the dung had as fertilizer, because it would kill the grass.
  • Therefore, it must be thrown on the heavily beaten path, where nothing grows anyway.  There, the “salt” becomes an object of scorn, because all it will do is destroy. 

Light Isaiah 9.1-2, Matthew 4.15-16

  • giving hope, and joy to those who are in darkness and gloom.

The City on a Hill: The glow of a city upon a hill in the night skyline.

A Lamp: in complete darkness (minus electricity) the slightest light is sufficient for all who are in the house.

“Let your light so shine”—before men, in the presence of, in front of men.

  • To glorify God our Father, not ourselves. This idea counters the exaggeration (by many) of chapter 6, saying that all good works should be hidden.
  • This is not righteousness for the sake of being righteous, nor is it righteousness in order to be seen by men.  It happens that we are seen while obeying our Master and Lord while we are in this world.

Ultimately, Jesus is calling us to remain pure and unmixed with the world so we do not lose our purifying and preserving function on the earth through the clear and faithful proclamation of the true gospel. He is calling us to also proclaim the gospel with hope, love, and grace, so that the world would see what we do and how we treat them, and give glory to God our Father.

Jesus, The Prophet Greater Than Moses

Last week our church, Fellowship Bible Church, began reading in the Gospel of Matthew as we introduced our new series, Way of Life, which will go through Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. Because of a great professor in seminary, Chuck Quarles, this passage of Scripture has become one of my favorite and most studied passages. Over the course of the series, I will share some of my study notes for those who might be interested.

The Gospel to the Hebrew People
Matthew's Gospel is often considered to have been written to the Hebrew people, with the aim of demonstrating that Jesus is the Messiah, promised in the Hebrew scriptures. Part of Matthew's tactic is to compare Jesus with the greatest prophet in Jewish history: Moses. While all other prophets heard the voice of the Lord through dreams and visions, Moses spoke with God face-to-face. He performed the greatest miracles in the history of the Hebrew people, freeing them from slavery in Egypt, providing food in the desert, and giving them the guidelines that would direct their walking with God for centuries.

A Greater Prophet
In Deuteronomy 18:15-19, as Moses is recounting the law for the Hebrew people, he tells of a greater prophet that would come after him. This prophet would be greater because the people would actually listen to him, and for anyone who did not listen, God would have stiff consequences.

"The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers--it is to him you shall listen--just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, 'Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire anymore, lest I die.' And the Lord said to me, 'They are right in what they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.'"

Making the Connection
In the first five chapters of this gospel, Matthew goes to great lengths to show the similarities between Moses and Jesus. While Moses delivered the first Law, Jesus brought the New Law--the Law that would be written on the hearts of believers. Here are a few of the connections that Matthew makes:

  • Both were descendants of Abraham (and therefore Jews)
    • Moses was the son of Amram, son of Kohath, son of Levi, son of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham (1 Chronicles 23)
    • Jesus genealogy in Matthew 1 shows that He is a descendant of David, Judah, Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham (see verses 1-6)
  • Both fled their homeland
    • Exodus 2:11-15
    • Matthew 2:13
  • A slaughter of innocent children surrounded their births
    • Exodus 1:16
    • Matthew 2:16
  • Both came out of Egypt
    • Exodus 13:3
    • Matthew 2:15
  • Both went through the water
    • Exodus 15 (the Red Sea crossing was considered a "baptism" in 1 Corinthians 10:2)
    • Matthew 3:13-17 (Jesus was baptized)
  • Both went into the wilderness immediately after going through the water
    • Exodus 15 and following
    • Matthew 4 (Jesus' temptation in the wilderness)
  • Both went "into" the mountain to deliver the Covenant Law
    • Exodus 19:3; 24:18 ("anebe eis to oros" in Greek)
    • Matthew 5:1 ("anebe eis to oros" in Greek)

Into the Mountain
This last point is possibly one of the most significant because it directly equates the authority of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) to the authority of the prior Old Testament Law of Moses. This is something that is not readily apparent in the English translations, but it something that happens in the original languages. In Exodus 19:3 and 24:18, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, uses a curious directional preposition to describe how Moses went up the mountain. It says that "he went into the mountain" ("anebe eis to oros"). This phrasing is only used in the Old Testament when referring to Moses and his receiving of the Law from God. Here, in Matthew 5:1, Matthew writes that Jesus, "seeing the crowds, went into the mountain" ("anebe eis to oros"). This is the only place this peculiar phrasing is used, and it is used for a special purpose. Matthew is telling us and all of his Jewish readers that Jesus is the prophet that Moses spoke of in Deuteronomy 18. Jesus initiated the New Covenant, and the new "law" that is a part of that covenant. 

The New Law
This new law is the law of the heart, which is impossible for man to fulfill on his own. It can only be accomplished through the inner transformation that God works in us through His Spirit, as we are born again through faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Notice two statements, in particular: Matthew 5:20 and 5:47-48, which bracket Jesus' discussion on the common perspective of the Old Testament Law as compared with His divine perspective on the Law.

Matthew 5:20 - "For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds (literally, "is more than") that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

Matthew 5:47-48 - "And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

The scribes and Pharisees stuck to every single letter of the Law. They were so diligent, they even tithed from their spices. Jesus told His disciples that their righteousness must exceed perfection as measured by the letter of the Law. It must be more than that. It must be a righteousness that pervades our being, and that comes from the inside out--the kind of righteousness that comes from love rather than fear.

May we trust Jesus' word. May we hear Him and follow. May we pursue the righteousness that comes from love and not from fear. May our righteousness be more, not for our own sake, but to honor the One who loved us and gave Himself up for us. 

What's In A Name?

I've had a few people ask about the name of this site, apartfromthelaw.com, so I thought it would be helpful to give a little explanation. The name comes from Romans 3:21-28, where Paul lays out the case for us being justified apart from works of the law:

"But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it–the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just asd the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

"Then what becomes of our boasting? it is excluded. By what kind of law? by a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law." (Romans 3:21-28 ESV)

Early on in my Christian walk, I was legalistic and enslaved to a Law that I couldn't keep. I operated out of fear instead of love. It was a vicious cycle that left me depressed and constantly beating myself up. I couldn't get my head above water, and felt like I was still drowning in my sin.

However, when the truth of the above passage finally clicked in my heart, I saw the freedom of the gospel, and that my works had no bearing on my status or standing with God. We are saved by grace through faith, because of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. He died in our place for our sins to rescue us from sin and death, and He freed us to live in love and fellowship with Him.

That is not to say that our works are unimportant–it only means that they cannot save us in the slightest. They are instead supposed to be the fruit and outworking of the Spirit working inside of us and transforming us to be more and more like Jesus. They only come because we are saved and because we have been adopted as sons and daughters. Because we have been purchased by Jesus' blood.

Once I saw that my confidence in Christ was because of who He is rather than who I am, the cloud lifted and I recognized the great freedom that was ours because of Christ. I could now operate out of love rather than fear, because I had nothing left to fear. When God the Father sees me, He sees me through Christ, my substitute. He sees me as righteous because of Jesus, and not because of anything I had done, or will ever do. Jesus is enough!

Graduation (Finally)!

It is finished. I finally graduated from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary with my Master of Divinity degree. Many of you didn't know that this was even going on, but I have been working toward this for a LONG time.

Here are some fun facts about the journey to graduation:

  • 85 hours of coursework for the M.Div
  • 12 years to finish (began Fall 2002)
  • 8 moves
  • 5 cities (Gainesville, FL; New Orleans, LA; Jacksonville, FL; Lakeland, FL; Topeka, KS)
  • 3 states (Florida, Louisiana, Kansas)
  • 3 children
  • 3 ministries/churches (UF Baptist Collegiate Ministries, First Baptist Church at the Mall, Fellowship Bible Church)
  • 1 hurricane (Katrina)
  • 1 temp job because of said hurricane (Fidelity National Insurance)
  • 1 wedding to my incredible wife who supported me and encouraged me the entire time we have been married!

It is done, and it is surreal. I have been "in school" for as long as I can remember. I was talking with someone the other day who mentioned that it was weird to get to the point in life where he had been out of school longer than he had been in school. I'll be 70 before that's even a possibility... This degree doesn't really change anything in my day-to-day reality. I wanted to pursue this degree because my heart is more to be a pastor than it is to be a musician. I want to pastor the church through music, and that has always been the desire. My education has helped me to grow in that regard, and I don't regret it in the least, no matter how long it took. If nothing else, my kids saw what it looks like to persevere and finish, despite many obstacles and challenges.

So, my encouragement to you is this: don't quit, whatever it is that you're pursuing. It might take longer than you think. The journey might look much different than you thought it would at the outset. There may be many obstacles making it difficult. Don't. Quit. There is something to be said for finishing what you start, and it says it about you, and it says it about me.

"Good Friday, 1613, Riding Westward" by John Donne

I have been a fan of English poet John Donne for many years now, and this is one of my favorite poems of his. I come back to it each year on Good Friday. Enjoy.

GOOD-FRIDAY, 1613, RIDING WESTWARD.
by John Donne

LET man's soul be a sphere, and then, in this, 
Th' intelligence that moves, devotion is; 
And as the other spheres, by being grown 
Subject to foreign motion, lose their own, 
And being by others hurried every day, 
Scarce in a year their natural form obey; 
Pleasure or business, so, our souls admit 
For their first mover, and are whirl'd by it.
Hence is't, that I am carried towards the west,
This day, when my soul's form bends to the East.
There I should see a Sun by rising set,
And by that setting endless day beget.
But that Christ on His cross did rise and fall,
Sin had eternally benighted all.
Yet dare I almost be glad, I do not see
That spectacle of too much weight for me.
Who sees Gods face, that is self-life, must die;
What a death were it then to see God die?
It made His own lieutenant, Nature, shrink,
It made His footstool crack, and the sun wink.
Could I behold those hands, which span the poles
And tune all spheres at once, pierced with those holes?
Could I behold that endless height, which is
Zenith to us and our antipodes,
Humbled below us ? or that blood, which is
The seat of all our soul's, if not of His,
Made dirt of dust, or that flesh which was worn
By God for His apparel, ragg'd and torn?
If on these things I durst not look, durst I
On His distressed Mother cast mine eye,
Who was God's partner here, and furnish'd thus
Half of that sacrifice which ransom'd us?
Though these things as I ride be from mine eye,
They're present yet unto my memory,
For that looks towards them ; and Thou look'st towards me,
O Saviour, as Thou hang'st upon the tree.
I turn my back to thee but to receive
Corrections till Thy mercies bid Thee leave.
O think me worth Thine anger, punish me,
Burn off my rust, and my deformity;
Restore Thine image, so much, by Thy grace,
That Thou mayst know me, and I'll turn my face. 

A Look at Blended Worship - a presentation for NOBTS Worship Leadership

What is "Blended Worship"?

Blended worship is essentially a blending of the two major ways of thinking about worship: aesthetic and kinesthetic. Aesthetic worship emphasizes beauty and order, while kinesthetic worship emphasizes the experience and participation of the worshiper. When these are blended, it can take many forms, yet these foundations remain the same. In this presentation, we will examine some of the foundations and motivations of blended worship designs, along with challenges and examples of these designs.

An Overview of Worship Renewals of the 21st Century

Blended worship is linked to the major events of both the liturgical and contemporary worship renewal movements in the 21st century (Exploring the Worship Spectrum, pg. 175).

The Renewal of Liturgical Worship

  • In the 21st century liturgical worship can be characterized as:
    • Tied into a print form of communication
    • Service structure is predictable and executed based on a pattern.
    • Worship is isolationist in nature.
  • These three principles drove the worship structure until the 1960's during Vatican II and the Roman Catholic reforms. Reforms that came from this include:
    • Worship is put into the language of the people and simplified.
    • Focused on the renewal of theology, architecture, style, and environment.
  • These reforms took root in the Protestant denomination in 6 different ways:
    • There is new concern to restore the theology of worship.
    • There is new attention to the historic pattern of worship.
    • The Lord's Supper of reexamined.
    • The Christian year is restored.
    • New discussion and questions about the role of music and the arts of worship appear.
    • The desire to include the entirety of the congregation in the worship experience.

The Renewal of Contemporary Worship

  • Three movements lead into the renewal of contemporary worship:
    • Azusa Street and the Pentecostal Movement beginning in 1906.
    • Latter Rain Movement, known of it's spontaneous worship.
    • The rise of the chorus tradition which lead to the more current rock band style popularized by the Vineyard movement.

The Blending of Worship

"Blended worship brought the content of the liturgical movement and the experience of the contemporary movement together." (Exploring the Worship Spectrum, pp. 177-178)

This blending began in 1987, where national worship was led by Maranatha! to explore what the blending of these two worship forms could bring.

"Blended worship at its best is substance and relevance, truth and experience, divine and human." (Exploring the Worship Spectrum, p. 179)

Blended worship is a combination of the strengths of the other forms of worship. (Exploring The Worship Spectrum, p. 176)

• Liturgical tradition—emphasis on beauty • Reformed tradition—emphasis on the centrality of the Word • Anabaptist tradition—concern for community and discipleship within worship • Restorationist tradition—commitment to weekly Communion • Revivalist tradition (Baptists, Methodists, evangelicals)—concern to move toward the invitation and call sinners to repentance • Holiness tradition—emphasis on the need to break through and achieve sanctification in worship • African-American tradition—emphasis on soul worship

Motivations of Blended Worship

Blended worship ultimately comes from a heart to unite the Church, rather than to segment it because of preferences in worship. In joining elements of both the aesthetic and the kinesthetic together into one worship service, generations can be drawn together. Also, the best of each worship tradition can be valued and shared with the other. Those of the traditional or aesthetic tradition have the opportunity to learn from and value the fervency and passion of the kinesthetic tradition. Those of the contemporary or kinesthetic tradition have the opportunity to learn from and value the love of truth and beauty of the aesthetic tradition. Multiple generations can learn from one another, and legacy can be shared in this context, which would not be possible if the different generations and traditions were segregated from one another based on their respective preferences.

Difficulties of Blended Worship

Blended worship can easily fall into the trap of seeking to please everyone, rather than leading a congregation toward a God-given vision for the church. A worship leader considering blended worship must be careful to not simply use it because it is the best "compromise," but rather because it follows the leading it makes the most sense in the current worship environment for their particular congregation.

Blended worship is not meant to be a "catering" to needs or wants, but rather a leading the church into unity and leading one generation toward the other. The target is not the pleasure of the congregation (making everyone happy) but on unity. If blended worship devolves into a means to please people, then it misses the mark, and settles for far less than it can be. This is a common issue in blended worship environments. In order for blended worship to work, everyone in the congregation will have to make some sort of sacrifice and give something up, in order to serve one another.

Another difficulty of blended worship is in forming a team that can confidently and skillfully lead a congregation in multiple styles of music from multiple generations. The music of one generation or another can easily be done poorly, and the people can smell a fake. It then seems disingenuous, and it disengages the congregation, rather than engaging them together. Care must be given to the presentation of the various styles within a service, to ensure that each is an authentic and skillful representation of the media.

  • Achieving cohesiveness with varying styles
  • Many congregants remain unsatisfied with the mixed style offering
  • Invites criticism of the unpreferred style
  • Presenting multiple styles with one, unified team
  • Team talent limitations
  • The sacrifice of team members to play other styles which are less desirable to them
  • Some songs/styles are more difficult to lead than others
  • Requires adaptability and flexibility on team

Examples of Blended Worship

The description "blended worship" covers a broad sweep of churches and worship services, which can range from mostly traditional to mostly contemporary, while including aspects of both. The flow of blended worship environments also depends on the tradition from which they are born. Some spring out of very liturgical, aesthetic tradition, while others spring from more of a revivalist tradition, all of which influences the look and feel of how they design and lead a blended worship offering. Below are some examples of blended worship.

General Blended Worship Outline from Exploring The Worship Spectrum

  • Preservice music
  • First set of music
  • Prayer/Welcome
  • Second set of music
  • Sermon
  • Invitation
  • Offering
  • Decisions affirmed by church
  • Benediction

Another example from the text

  • Gathering Songs
  • Entrance Hymn with Procession (The experience of coming before God)
  • Greeting, Call to Worship, and Invocation
  • Songs of Praise and Worship (The experience of God's transcendence)
  • Confession and Forgiveness (The experience of God's forgiveness and relationship)
  • Opening Prayer (Transition to the Word)

Other Examples of Blended Worship Service Designs

Design by Brandon Cullum

  • Prelude - "Great is Thy Faithfulness"
  • Special Music - "The Heart of Worship"
  • Welcome and Greeting - led by Pastor
  • Worship through Music
    • "From the Inside Out"
    • "How Great is our God"
    • "Great is Thy Faithfulness"
  • Scripture Reading  - Psalms 48:10 - led by Elder
  • Offertory - Instrumental
  • Worship through Music - "Awesome is the Lord Most High"
  • Sermon - Pastor
  • Invitation - "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus"
  • Benediction - led by Pastor

Design by Bill Horn

  • Pre-service - Video Countdown
  • Call to Worship - Ps. 96:1-4
  • Worship Through Singing
    • "Sing to the King"
    • "On Christ The Solid Rock I Stand"
  • Prayer/Welcome/ Time of Greeting - Lead Pastor
  • Worship Through Singing
    • "You Never Let Go"
    • "It Is Well"
  • Worship Through the Word – James 1 - “Faithful” - Lead Pastor
  • Response - ‘"Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus"
  • Worship Through Giving - "In Christ Alone"
  • Benediction - Lead Pastor

Design by Adam Gillespie

  • Pre-Service Music - "The Family of God (Instrumental)"
  • Welcome / Prayer - Deacon of the Week
  • Expressions of Praise - Music Minister
    • "We are God's People (Hymn 383)"
    • "Oh, How I Love Jesus"
    • "Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine (Hymn 334)"
  • Special Music / Testimony - Praise Band - "Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)"
  • Proclamation of God's Word - Eph. 1:7-10 - "How Great Is Our God!" - Lead Pastor
  • Invitation to Respond - "Just a Closer Walk With Thee"
  • Worship Through Giving - "Take My Life"
  • Presentation of Decisions and Closing Prayer
  • Closing Song - "The Family of God (instrumental)"

Resources and References for learning more about Blended Worship

Referenced in this presentation:

Exploring the Worship Spectrum. Paul A. Basden, ed.  Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 2004.

Other Resources:

Books

Holy Gatherings by Michael Sharp and Argile Smith

Unceasing Worship, by Harold M. Best

Christ-Centered Worship by Bryan Chapell

Engaging With God by David Peterson

Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin

Worship By The Book, edited by D.A. Carson

Planning Blended Worship: The Creative Mixture of Old and New by Robert Webber

Articles

Gary Hollingsworth - Moving from traditional to blended worship In this article Gary outlines 10 steps when making the transition from traditional to blended:

  1. Take Your Time
  2. Do Your Homework
  3. Know Where You are Headed
  4. Work to Earn Trust
  5. Expect Challenge
  6. Transition Is a Prcoess, Not an Event
  7. Call the Right Personnel
  8. Don't Compromise Quality
  9. Understand Techincal issues
  10. Be Prayerful and Careful

David Burroughs - The Brouhaha About Blended Worship In this article from beliefnet.com gives a great overview of the current trends, benefits, and concerns over blended worship.  There is a great emphasis on unity between the older and younger generation and how Blended worship seek to bridge the gap that exists between generations as well as between typical service times.

Presentation created by Bill Horn, Brandon Cullum, and Adam Gillespie for Dr. Gregory Woodward and Dr. Gary Dennis, for the course Worship Leadership of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

Vocal pointers, No. 1 - Don't Let Me Clear My Throat

A few weekends ago, I played and sang 30 songs for an art show on a Friday, and then led the worship team for rehearsal and four services for our church during the weekend, totaling about 60 songs and about 5 1/2 hours of singing. Sunday afternoon, my voice wasn't really that tired, and I got to thinking: what are some of the most important things I've gleaned from others about singing technique over the past 17 years? I'm not an expert, but I owe what I do know to others who were kind enough to share their knowledge and experience with me. Why not share those things with others who want to sing, lead, etc.? So, here goes, in no particular order. And pardon my pop culture references--I had to have a little fun with this... (Of these first pointers that I wanted to share, several were shared with me by my friend and vocal instructor, Amanda Terry.)

(DON'T) LET ME CLEAR MY THROAT! - (It's all caps because it's really important) Your voice is an instrument, and it is important to take good care of it if you want to keep singing. The act of clearing your throat, while it may feel like temporarily better, is actually slamming your vocal cords together and causing more wear and tear. Over time, it can cause damage. The better option? Swallow. Drink water. When you swallow, you are coating and soothing your throat rather than beating it up. Along with this goes coughing and screaming (harshly). If you want to avoid any unnecessary wear and tear on your voice, you need to avoid these things like the plague. They will limit your ability to sing well, and cause your voice to be tired prematurely.

IN THE DRINK - Room temperature water and warm/hot tea are your friends. Avoid caffeinated drinks (soda, coffee, etc.), dairy, and acidic juices (especially citrus) as much as possible. These things cause irritation, dehydration, and excess phlegm in your throat and voice box. Water and tea hydrate your body, which helps lubricate your vocal cords, therefore making it easier to sing. Cold water can constrict your throat, which is not helpful either, so room temp is best.

YOU GOTTA RELAX, MAN - This is one that I see people missing the most when singing. Tension anywhere in your body will be translated to your voice as well. When you're singing, relax your shoulders and neck, especially. Here is a great neck stretch video to help you get started. Rub your shoulders (your traps) to help loosen them up.

HOLD YOUR CHIN DOWN - When you go to hit one of those notes near the top of your range, DROP your chin. While it seems to make sense in the moment, lifting your chin only introduces more tension into your neck, making it harder to hit those high notes. Lowering your chin helps relax your neck and throat, giving you more ease when reaching for those notes. So, even though it is counterintuitive, lowering your chin on those high notes is best for your throat.

STAND AND DELIVER - Singing is a physical activity, and you need to stand in the best position possible when doing so. Put yourself in what is called an "athletic" stance. This is with one foot slightly in front of the other, with the weight on the balls of your feet. This will help with all the rest of the mechanics of singing. If you have to sit down when singing, sit on the edge of the chair with your feet in a similar position. Your posture is crucial to your singing.

BREATHE, NEO, JUST BREATHE - Use your diaphragm and breath support when singing. How do you know if you're doing it right? Put your hand on your upper stomach area; you will feel it tighten when you are singing correctly. You don't need to take huge breaths between lines, but take enough to get you through to the next break. When you do not have enough breath support, it is very difficult to maintain pitch and control of your voice. Think through and plan when you will take breaths in a song. While the rule is broken many times, it is technically not proper to take breaths in the middle of phrases (especially in the middle of a word!). Wait until the end of the phrase to breathe.

WARM IT UP, CHRIS - Take some time before singing to warm up your voice. One great exercise is to yawn loudly. Yawning covers a wide range of pitch, and actually can help you transition between notes in your "break" a little better. You can do this a couple of ways: 1) Arc from the top of your range down to the bottom repeatedly, 2) Arc from the bottom up and then back down again. Another good exercise is to run through progressively higher major scales (think "Do-Re-Mi...") with different vowel sounds. I feel the most help comes from doing "Ah" sounds while doing these scales. Go up through the scale and back down again, and then move up a half-step and proceed. You don't have to be loud, but you do need to use your diaphragm to support it (see previous point), not your head voice (falsetto). These two exercises are my favorites. There are many others, as well. Find some that work for you and go from there.

These are some of the basics that every singer needs to know. If you haven't been doing these things, I guarantee they will help you in your singing. In the next post, I will talk about some pointers regarding pitch control. Let me know if you have any questions.

In the Son,

Bill

 

Here are some helpful links, as well:

http://www.voiceteacher.com/damaging.html

http://www.ent-consult.com/voiceproblems.html

Thoughts on Twitter for a New Year

I have been thinking a lot about my use of social media. In examining my status updates and tweets, or at least the motives behind them, some questions have arisen about where it could be headed. Am I posting for selfish reasons? Am I posting for the sake of image management (trying to get other people to think of me the way I want them to)? Am I wasting valuable time with some of these posts? Am I trying to give and be generous more than I am seeking to gain from it? Am I building the body of Christ with my posts? Am I making much of Jesus? I think these are valuable questions- ones that give me some clarity about what to do going forward.

From here on, I resolve to use social media for the benefit of others and the kingdom of God. I will make much of Jesus rather than myself. I will build the body of Christ. I will share humor to make people smile. I will share wisdom and experiences so others can learn from my mistakes. I will no longer use it for the sake of myself or my own image. Jesus and His kingdom are infinitely more important, and there is no time to waste.

Hold me to it.

Songs for Small Groups 09/24 - 09/25/11

Including what we sang this weekend, here are some other songs that were on my radar in preparation and planning for our services as we focused on John 4:46-6:59: "Forever" [Chris Tomlin] "You Are Worthy Of My Praise" [David Ruis] "Holy Is The Lord" [Chris Tomlin] "God Is Able" [Reuben Morgan, Ben Fielding] "Say Say" [Christy Nockels, Kristian Stanfill, Chris Tomlin] "The Stand" [Joel Houston] "You Are" [Todd Fields] "Holy, Holy, Holy" [Reginald Heber, John Bacchus Dykes] "How Great Is Our God" [Chris Tomlin, Jesse Reeves, Ed Cash] "How Great Thou Art" [Carl Gustav Boberg, Stuart K. Hine] "Let Me Sing" [Todd Fields] "Lord of All" [Kristian Stanfill] "Enough" [Chris Tomlin] "Jesus Messiah" [Daniel Carson, Chris Tomlin, Jesse Reeves, Ed Cash] "Son of God" [Tim Neufeld, Jon Neufeld] "All Because of Jesus" [Steve Fee] "Forever Reign" [Reuben Morgan, Jason Ingram] "Everlasting God" [Brenton Brown, Ken Riley] "Your Name" [Paul Baloche, Glenn Packiam] "Stronger" [Ben Fielding, Reuben Morgan] "God Of This City" [Bluetree] "Hungry" [Kathryn Scott]

I hope you find these helpful in worshiping together as a small group!

In the Son,

Bill

Songs for Small Groups 09/17 - 09/18/11

(Over the course of our discipleship plan, I will try to post up all the songs I had on my radar for a given weekend's worship services. If you are part of our small groups at Fellowship, they may be useful to you if you desire to sing with your small groups when you gather together. You don't need instruments to do it, just have some lyrics available and sing to our Lord together!) Here's the list for this week:

“Center” [Charlie Hall] “Son of God” [Starfield] “Glorious One” [Steve Fee] “Jesus Messiah” [Chris Tomlin] “Uncreated One” [Chris Tomlin] “The Lost Are Found” [Hillsong] “God Is Able” [Hillsong] “Mighty To Save” [Hillsong] “Because of Your Love” [Phil Wickham] “Glorious” [Paul Baloche] “Lord of All” [Kristian Stanfill] “Glory To God Forever” [Steve Fee & Vicky Beeching] "Unchanging" [Chris Tomlin] "Jesus Paid It All" [Elvina M. Hall, John T. Grape, additional chorus by Alex Nifong] "I Stand Amazed (How Marvelous)" "I Will Boast" [Paul Baloche] "You Are" [Todd Fields] "Forever Reign" [Reuben Morgan, Jason Ingram] "We Fall Down" [Chris Tomlin] "You Do All Things Well" [Chris Tomlin] "Saved" [Warren Barfield] There are probably many more that I did not come across or think about during my preparation for this weekend, but each of these songs ties in with what we have read together this week in John 2:1 - 4:45. Please let me know if you have any questions.

-Bill

Songs for Small Groups 09/10 - 09/11/11

Over the course of our discipleship plan, I will try to post up all the songs I had on my radar for a given weekend's worship services. If you are part of our small groups at Fellowship, they may be useful to you if you desire to sing with your small groups when you gather together. You don't need instruments to do it, just have some lyrics available and sing to our Lord together! Here's the list for this week:

“Center” [Charlie Hall] “Son of God” [Starfield] “Glorious One” [Steve Fee] “How Great Is Our God” [Chris Tomlin] “Jesus Messiah” [Chris Tomlin] “Uncreated One” [Chris Tomlin] “The Lost Are Found” [Hillsong] “God Is Able” [Hillsong] “Mighty To Save” [Hillsong] “Because of Your Love” [Phil Wickham] “Cannons” [Phil Wickham] “Messiah” [Phil Wickham] “At Your Name” [Phil Wickham & Tim Hughes] “Glorious” [Paul Baloche] “Lord of All” [Kristian Stanfill] “10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord)” [Matt Redman] “I Want to Love You” [Todd Fields] “Bless Your Name” [Eddie Kirkland] “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” “What Child Is This?” “Hosanna” [Hillsong] “Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)” [Paul Baloche] “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” [Unknown] “Glory To God Forever” [Steve Fee & Vicky Beeching] “Stronger” [Hillsong] "Joyous Light" [Chris Tomlin]

There are probably many more that I did not come across or think about during my preparation for this weekend, but each of these songs ties in with what we have read together this week in John chapter 1. Please let me know if you have any questions.

-Bill

He was pierced through for our transgressions.

Behold, My servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted. Just as many were astonished at you, my people, So His appearance was marred more than any man And His form more than the sons of me. Thus He will sprinkle many nations, Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him; For what had not been told them they will see, And what they had not heard they will understand. Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for our generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. But the Lord was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish if His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the portion with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Thoughts on Good Friday, from nearly 400 years ago.

I thought I would share a few thoughts about Good Friday today, as we reflect on the cross of Jesus, where our rescue was accomplished and our ransom was paid. John Donne is one of my favorite poets, and these particular poems are favorites of mine. Good Friday, 1613. Riding Westward John Donne

Let man's soul be a sphere, and then, in this, The intelligence that moves, devotion is, And as the other spheres, by being grown Subject to foreign motions, lose their own, And being by others hurried every day, Scarce in a year their natural form obey: Pleasure or business, so, our souls admit For their first mover, and are whirled by it. Hence is't, that I am carried towards the west This day, when my soul's form bends toward the east. There I should see a sun, by rising set, And by that setting endless day beget; But that Christ on this Cross, did rise and fall, Sin had eternally benighted all. Yet dare I' almost be glad, I do not see That spectacle of too much weight for me. Who sees God's face, that is self life, must die; What a death were it then to see God die? It made his own lieutenant Nature shrink, It made his footstool, crack, and the sun wink. Could I behold those hands which span the pose, And tune all spheres at once, pierced with those holes? Could I behold that endless height which is Zenith to us, and to'our antipodes, Humbled below us? or that blood which is The seat of all our souls, if not of his, Made dirt of dust, or that flesh which was worn, By God, for his apparel, ragged, and torn? If on these things I durst not look, durst I Upon his miserable mother cast mine eye, Who was God's partner here, and furnished thus Half of that sacrifice, which ransomed us? Though these things, as I ride, be from mine eye, They are present yet unto my memory, For that looks towards them; and thou look'st towards me, O Saviour, as thou hang'st upon the tree; I turn my back to thee, but to receive Corrections, till thy mercies bid thee leave. O think me worth thine anger, punish me, Burn off my rusts, and my deformity, Restore thine image, so much, by thy grace, That thou mayst know me, and I'll turn my face.

Here is another that is fitting for today, as we reflect on the death of death:

Holy Sonnet #6 John Donne

Death be not proud, though some have called thee Mighty and dreadful, for, thou art not so, For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow, Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me; From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be, Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow, And soonest our best men with thee do go, Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery. Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men, And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell, And poppy, or charms can make us sleep as well, And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then? One short sleep past, we wake eternally, And death shall be no more, Death thou shalt die.

1 Corinthians 15:54-57: "'Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?' The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

May we never forget the point of Good Friday. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He came to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. We had no hope--no claim or right to eternal life--because we were dead in our sins. We had chosen to run our own lives. We had chosen our own way. We were Captives. Slaves. Prisoners. Dead. Enemies. We could not save ourselves. We would not save ourselves, because we liked our way of doing things, regardless of how it destroyed us. The only way for us to have eternal life was through Jesus' perfect sacrificial death in our place, for our sins. The righteous wrath of God against sin had to be dealt with, and God chose to take care of it Himself. He sent His one and only Son to the cross because of His great love for us. He did it while we were His enemies! The very hands that shaped the universe were nailed to the cross so that we could be rescued from sin and death, once and for all. May we never lose sight of the amazing love and grace of God, which kept Him on the cross to finish His defeat of sin and death. There was no other way for us to be saved. There is no other way for us to be saved. Thank you, Jesus, for loving us and rescuing us!

The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards

These are Jonathan Edwards' "Resolutions," which have proven to be a great challenge on my life in terms of the man I desire to be in Christ. Edwards was a man that pursued Christ faithfully. May we never coast through this life, and always fight to have our lives reflect the Jesus who loves us and gave Himself up for us. I hope they inspire you, encourage you, and challenge you as they have me. The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards (1722-1723)

Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ's sake.

Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.

1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God's glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad's of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.

2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new invention and contrivance to promote the aforementioned things.

3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.

4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.

5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.

9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.

10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.

11. Resolved, when I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances don't hinder.

12. Resolved, if I take delight in it as a gratification of pride, or vanity, or on any such account, immediately to throw it by.

13. Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.

14. Resolved, never to do anything out of revenge.

15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger to irrational beings.

16. Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.

17. Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.

18. Resolved, to live so at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel, and another world.

19. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.

20. Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.

21. Resolved, never to do anything, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him.

22. Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power; might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.

23. Resolved, frequently to take some deliberate action, which seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God, and trace it back to the original intention, designs and ends of it; and if I find it not to be for God's glory, to repute it as a breach of the 4th Resolution.

24. Resolved, whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then both carefully endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.

25. Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.

26. Resolved, to cast away such things, as I find do abate my assurance.

27. Resolved, never willfully to omit anything, except the omission be for the glory of God; and frequently to examine my omissions.

28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.

29. Resolved, never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession, which I cannot hope God will accept.

30. Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.

31. Resolved, never to say anything at all against anybody, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the golden rule; often, when I have said anything against anyone, to bring it to, and try it strictly by the test of this Resolution.

32. Resolved, to be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that that in Prov. 20:6, "A faithful man who can find?" may not be partly fulfilled in me.

33. Resolved, always to do what I can towards making, maintaining, establishing and preserving peace, when it can be without over-balancing detriment in other respects. December 26, 1722.

34. Resolved, in narration's never to speak anything but the pure and simple verity.

35. Resolved, whenever I so much question whether I have done my duty, as that my quiet and calm is thereby disturbed, to set it down, and also how the question was resolved. December 18, 1722.

36. Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call for it. December 19, 1722.

37. Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, what sin I have committed, and wherein I have denied myself: also at the end of every week, month and year. December 22 and 26, 1722.

38. Resolved, never to speak anything that is ridiculous, sportive, or matter of laughter on the Lord's day. Sabbath evening, December 23, 1722.

39. Resolved, never to do anything that I so much question the lawfulness of, as that I intend, at the same time, to consider and examine afterwards, whether it be lawful or no; except I as much question the lawfulness of the omission.

40. Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking. January 7, 1723.

41. Resolved, to ask myself at the end of every day, week, month and year, wherein I could possibly in any respect have done better. January 11, 1723.

42. Resolved, frequently to renew the dedication of myself to God, which was made at my baptism; which I solemnly renewed, when I was received into the communion of the church; and which I have solemnly re-made this twelfth day of January, 1722-23.

43. Resolved, never henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God's, agreeable to what is to be found in Saturday, January 12, 1723.

44- Resolved, that no other end but religion, shall have any influence at all on any of my actions; and that no action shall be, in the least circumstance, any otherwise than the religious end will carry it. January 12, 1723.

45. Resolved, never to allow any pleasure or grief, joy or sorrow, nor any affection at all, nor any degree of affection, nor any circumstance relating to it, but what helps religion. January 12 and 13, 1723.

46. Resolved, never to allow the least measure of any fretting uneasiness at my father or mother. Resolved to suffer no effects of it, so much as in the least alteration of speech, or motion of my eve: and to be especially careful of it, with respect to any of our family.

47. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to deny whatever is not most agreeable to a good, and universally sweet and benevolent, quiet, peaceable, contented, easy, compassionate, generous, humble, meek, modest, submissive, obliging, diligent and industrious, charitable, even, patient, moderate, forgiving, sincere temper; and to do at all times what such a temper would lead me to. Examine strictly every week, whether I have done so. Sabbath morning. May 5, 1723.

48. Resolved, constantly, with the utmost niceness and diligence, and the strictest scrutiny, to be looking into the state of my soul, that I may know whether I have truly an interest in Christ or no; that when I come to die, I may not have any negligence respecting this to repent of. May 26, 1723.

49. Resolved, that this never shall be, if I can help it.

50. Resolved, I will act so as I think I shall judge would have been best, and most prudent, when I come into the future world. July 5, 1723.

51. Resolved, that I will act so, in every respect, as I think I shall wish I had done, if I should at last be damned. July 8, 1723.

52. I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age. July 8, 1723.

53. Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer. July 8, 1723.

54. Whenever I hear anything spoken in conversation of any person, if I think it would be praiseworthy in me, Resolved to endeavor to imitate it. July 8, 1723.

55. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments. July 8, 1723.

56. Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.

57. Resolved, when I fear misfortunes and adversities, to examine whether ~ have done my duty, and resolve to do it; and let it be just as providence orders it, I will as far as I can, be concerned about nothing but my duty and my sin. June 9, and July 13, 1723.

58. Resolved, not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation, but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness and benignity. May 27, and July 13, 1723.

59. Resolved, when I am most conscious of provocations to ill nature and anger, that I will strive most to feel and act good-naturedly; yea, at such times, to manifest good nature, though I think that in other respects it would be disadvantageous, and so as would be imprudent at other times. May 12, July 11, and July 13, 1723.

60. Resolved, whenever my feelings begin to appear in the least out of order, when I am conscious of the least uneasiness within, or the least irregularity without, I will then subject myself to the strictest examination. July 4 and 13, 1723.

61. Resolved, that I will not give way to that listlessness which I find unbends and relaxes my mind from being fully and fixedly set on religion, whatever excuse I may have for it-that what my listlessness inclines me to do, is best to be done, etc. May 21, and July 13, 1723.

62. Resolved, never to do anything but duty; and then according to Eph. 6:6-8, do it willingly and cheerfully as unto the Lord, and not to man; "knowing that whatever good thing any man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord." June 25, and July 13, 1723.

63. On the supposition, that there never was to be but one individual in the world, at any one time, who was properly a complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity always shining in its true luster, and appearing excellent and lovely, from whatever part and under whatever character viewed: Resolved, to act just as I would do, if I strove with all my might to be that one, who should live in my time. January 14, and July 3, 1723.

64. Resolved, when I find those "groanings which cannot be uttered" (Rom. 8:26), of which the Apostle speaks, and those "breakings of soul for the longing it hath," of which the Psalmist speaks, Psalm 119:20, that I will promote them to the utmost of my power, and that I will not be wear', of earnestly endeavoring to vent my desires, nor of the repetitions of such earnestness. July 23, and August 10, 1723.

65. Resolved, very much to exercise myself in this all my life long, viz. with the greatest openness I am capable of, to declare my ways to God, and lay open my soul to him: all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, and every thing, and every circumstance; according to Dr. Manton's 27th Sermon on Psalm 119. July 26, and August 10, 1723.

66. Resolved, that I will endeavor always to keep a benign aspect, and air of acting and speaking in all places, and in all companies, except it should so happen that duty requires otherwise.

67. Resolved, after afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them, what good I have got by them, and what I might have got by them.

68. Resolved, to confess frankly to myself all that which I find in myself, either infirmity or sin; and, if it be what concerns religion, also to confess the whole case to God, and implore needed help. July 23, and August 10, 1723.

69. Resolved, always to do that, which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it. August 11, 1723.

70. Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak. August 17, 1723

A Reason to Attempt to Exaggerate...

After our rehearsal tonight, I came away reminded of something I have frequently thought. You cannot exaggerate the greatness of God. You and I cannot find enough words, the right words, the perfect words, to summarize or describe the fullness of who God is. Words and thoughts will always fall short of comprehending the mystery, the wonder, the grace, and the mercy of God. There is a reason we sing "a new song" (Ps. 40). We keep trying to find a better way to tell of God's greatness, and that's a good thing. It requires meditation, and dwelling on who He is, to find a new way to attempt to brag on God and make His name higher than anyone else's. Take some time to try, in your heart and your mind, to exaggerate God's greatness. You can't do it. But try. Never stop trying.

Bill