Fellowship Service Recap - 06/11 - 06/12/16

This was week two of our series through the life of David, Rise or Fall, and Joe shared about how to walk with God when we're waiting. It was a timely message for those who are walking through suffering, sorrow, and trials, and a powerful reminder of how God is at work even when we cannot see it and when we have to wait to see the outcome. He is faithful and good, and working it all together according to His sovereign purposes.

Here's what we sang together:

"Rejoice" [Dustin Kensrue]
"Everlasting God" [Brenton Brown]
"It is Well" [Todd Fields]
"Always" [Kristian Stanfill]

It was an encouraging and comforting weekend of worship together. There have been several unexpected deaths and illness in our church recently, and it was clear that God was at work in the timing and the planning of the entire service. We needed to hear the words of this message, and we needed to sing the words of these songs together. I'm thankful that the Lord is at work among us and reminding us who He is and what He has done and will do. He will never leave us or forsake us, and He will make all things new and right all wrongs.

May we all be reminded of God's faithfulness and trustworthiness as you walk through trials, through suffering, and through sorrow. He is with us.

in the Son,

Bill

FBC Service Recap - 01/23 -01/24/16

This was our third week in the book of Acts for our Mission Possible series, and in his message, Joe shared about how the early Church endured suffering with the power of Lord working in them.

Here's what we sang together this weekend:

Pre-Service - "Suffering Servant" [Dustin Kensrue]
"Before the Throne" [Charitie Lees Bancroft, Vicki Cook, arr. by The Modern Post]
"Desert Song" [Brooke Fraser]
"Always" [Kristian Stanfill, Jason Ingram]
"God With Us" [Jason Ingram, Leslie Jordan]
"Rejoice" [Dustin Kensrue, Stuart Townend]

 It was a moving weekend of worshiping together. For our singing, we focused on themes of Jesus as our example of enduring suffering to advance the purposes of God (from Isaiah 53), Jesus as our sympathetic Great High Priest who has gone before us and walks with us (from Hebrews 4), and Jesus as Emmanuel who is always with us and who never leaves us or forsakes us (Matthew 1:23; 28:20; Hebrews 13:5).

As I looked across our congregation while we were singing this weekend, it was almost overwhelming to think of the suffering that some of our people are walking through or have recently walked through, and to see those same people limiting their hands and singing to the Lord, finding their hope and their refuge in Him. I was inspired to worship more because of these dear brothers and sisters. It is a beautiful thing to come together in worship, and part of that is bearing one another's burdens.

May you find your hope and confidence in our faithful High Priest, Jesus.  

in the Son, 

Bill

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Weekend Service recap - 10/31 - 11/1/15 - Fellowship Bible Church

This weekend, we continued our Rebuild series through Ezra and Nehemiah and Joe shared about the external resistance we experience when we seek to rebuild our hearts for God. He discussed the sway that external factors can have on us, and the resulting halting of the work of God in us, and then shared how we can resist external sway by focusing on God's presence, promise, mission, and hope.

Here are our songs from this weekend:

"Defender" [King's Kaleidoscope]
"Before the Throne" [Charitie Lees Bancroft, Vicki Cook, The Modern Post]
"It is Well" [Horatio G. Spafford, Philip Paul Bliss, Todd Fields]
"Lord of All" [Kristian Stanfill]
"Always" [Kristian Stanfill, Jason Ingram]

There were lots of things happening this weekend here in Kansas: Halloween and Daylight Savings Time, the Royals in the World Series, and the Chiefs playing Sunday morning in London. Craziness! Despite all of this, our team did a great job, and we had a great weekend of worship together. 

In the pre-service countdown, we sang "Defender" by King's Kaleidoscope, which is a really interesting and creative song comprised of an almost Psalm-like lyric. It was challenging and fun for our team to play together.  

The rest of the set was dedicated to looking at Jesus as our faithful High Priest who knows us, loves us, sacrifices for us, and never leaves us or forsakes us. He is so good to us, and we don't have to be afraid of resistance, trials, or sway in this life, because He is with us!

I hope you had a great weekend of worship, too! 

in the Son, 

Bill

 

Songs We Sing - 04/11 - 04/12/15 - Fellowship Bible Church

This weekend, we began a new series, entitled Never. In this series, Pastor Joe is going to share about how life in Christ enables us to "Never Give In" (to temptation), "Never Go Back" (to our old lives), and "Never Give Up" (in the face of trials). This week, Joe shared some practical wisdom about temptation. For our singing this week, we focused on Jesus' faithfulness to us as our Great High Priest (Hebrews 4), and how He is all we need.

Here are our songs from this weekend:

"The Mighty Hand of God" [Citizens & Saints - Zach Bolen, Dustin Kensrue, Cam Huxford, Brian Eichelberger]
"Before the Throne" [The Modern Post - Charitie Lees Bancroft, arr. by Dustin Kensrue]
"One Thing Remains" [Bethel Worship - Brian Johnson, Jeremy Riddle, Christa Black]
"Always" [Kristian Stanfill, Jason Ingram]
"You Never Let Go" [Matt Redman, Beth Redman]

The week after Easter always feels a bit like recovery, especially when Easter services are done off-site. There is lingering fatigue and fogginess in the wake of such a significant gathering for the church body. Lots of hours are spent both setting up and tearing down the many pieces that go into such an event. Despite the overall tiredness of our team, we had a great weekend of worship together. Our team did a great job, and the congregation was engaged and worshiping together. I will never get over the joy of hearing the Church sing to Jesus for who He is and what He has done!

The first two songs this weekend really established the foundation for where we were going this weekend, in that our standing with God is dependent on the finished work of Jesus and not our own ability to "get it right." Instead, we seek to honor God and reflect Him with our lives because of who He is and what He has done for us. Our confidence is in Him—not ourselves.

The final three songs were practice for us, giving us the opportunity to trust the Lord in the midst of our struggles and difficulties. All three are powerful expressions of faith and trust in Jesus, who is faithful and constant no matter what we're facing. He is God with us, and we do not have to be afraid of reality any longer. We can move forward in confidence that He's got us, and that He will never let us go.

Songs We Sing, 02/15 - 02/16/14 Fellowship Bible Church

This weekend we continued in the fifth week of our series, "Obedience," and Joe shared about the life of Elijah and how he stood with the Lord to confront evil in his lifetime. You can listen to or watch the entire message and service here.

Here's our service plan:

Pre-Service - "Suffering Servant" (A - B) [Dustin Kensrue]
"Sing to the King" (D) [Billy Foote, Charles Silvester Horne]
Greeting Time Child Dedications (at 5 PM & 9:15 AM services)
Announcements
Message - "Obedience: Confrontation" [Joe Hishmeh]
"Always" (Bb) [Kristian Stanfill, Jason Ingram]
"Hosanna" (Eb) [Brooke Ligertwood]
"This Is Amazing Grace" (Bb) [Phil Wickham, Josh Farro, Jeremy Riddle]
Dismissal

Thoughts: This was a powerful weekend. Once again, Joe's message was a powerful challenge to follow Christ with all of our lives, and to confront the evil in our world and lives with the power of the gospel. We started out our weekend in the pre-service time with Dustin Kensrue's "Suffering Servant," which is a fantastic song from his new record, coming almost directly from Isaiah 52 & 53. This song has brought me to tears several times over the past month, as I have been overwhelmed with the amazing sacrifice that Jesus made for our redemption. It is powerful in both its words and in its music. There are quite a few words to the song, so it may remain a song for special occasions, but I would love to sing it more often. We continued into the service with Becky leading us in "Sing to the King," which gives us great words by which to celebrate Christ's victory, and which is one of our church's favorites. In response to the message, we expressed our confidence and trust in the Lord through singing "Always." We hadn't sung this song in quite a while, and it was great to sing it again, as it is a powerful statement of our faith. From there, Becky led us in singing "Hosanna," and then we closed out the service with "This Is Amazing Grace." This song has been one of my favorites lately, mainly for the chorus: "This is amazing grace/ This is unfailing love/ That You would take my place/ That You would bear my cross/ You would lay down Your life/ That I would be set free/ Jesus, I sing for/ All that You've done for me!"

THAT is why we sing. THAT is why we worship. Jesus has been so good to us.

Your turn: what were your experiences, observations, or take-aways from this past weekend?

- Bill

Songs We Sing, 03/23 - 03/24/13 - Fellowship Bible Church

For our tenth week of our 2 Corinthians series - "Purpose In Christ," our family pastor, Brian Tryhus, preached through 2 Corinthians 11-12, and taught about how we as believers need to handle trials and difficulties in our lives. He challenged us to recognize our own weakness, and to find our strength in Christ alone. It was a powerful reminder to all of us. You can listen to or watch the entire message and service here. Here's our service plan from this weekend:

Pre-Service - "Beautiful" (C) [Phil Wickham] Welcome/Call to Worship "Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)" (G) [Paul Baloche, Brenton Brown] Greeting Time Child Dedications Announcements/Trash Mountain Documentary Trailer Message - "Purpose In Christ, pt. 10" [Brian Tryhus] "It Is Well" (B) [Horatio G. Spafford, Todd Fields] "Always" (B) [Kristian Stanfill, Jason Ingram] "One Thing Remains" (B) [Christa Black, Brian Johnson, Jeremy Riddle] Dismissal

Thoughts: This was a great Palm Weekend celebration. Our team did a great job! We also had two brand new team members: Matthew Gonzales on drums and Dawn Phoenix helping with background vocals. It was great to see them connecting with the team and finding their fit in ministry. I loved how everything connected in our services, and the songs we sang this weekend were some of my favorites. It had been a while for all of the final three songs, so it was refreshing to sing them together with our congregation once again. I am so grateful for what the Lord continues to do in our church. I'm am really pumped about Good Friday and Easter this week! It will be our best one yet!

- Bill

What were your thoughts or experiences from your worship gathering this weekend?

Songs We Sing, 01/19 - 01/20/13 - Fellowship Bible Church

This week we began our series through 2 Corinthians-- "Purpose In Christ." Pastor Joe shared about purpose in our suffering, and how we can remained focused on Christ in the midst of trials. He encouraged us to live with hope in the resurrection, simplicity around the character of Jesus, and sincerity in our faith and trust in Him. It was a powerful challenge to not be sidetracked by suffering, but rather to use it as a platform for the glory of Christ and His gospel. You can listen to or watch the entire message and service here. Here's our service plan from this weekend:

Welcome "Your Grace Is Enough" (G) [Matt Maher] "Unchanging" (G) [Chris Tomlin] Greeting Time/Announcements Message - "Purpose In Christ - Suffering" [Joe Hishmeh] "It Is Well" (Bb) [Horatio G. Spafford, Todd Fields] "Always" (Bb) [Kristian Stanfill, Jason Ingram] "You Never Let Go" (Bb) [Matt Redman, Beth Redman] Dismissal Baptisms

Thoughts: This was a great weekend. Saturday night's services were some of the most powerful I have experienced since coming here to Topeka. Sunday morning was a little more of a struggle, which I think was partly due to the much colder weather in the morning. It was beautiful to sing "It Is Well," "Always," and "You Never Let Go" - great songs of trust and hope - in response to the Word of God and how it speaks to suffering. I am so grateful for my team, who did a fantastic job, and our church. I love them! It has been an incredible two years so far. I'm looking forward to many more.

What were your thoughts or experiences from your worship gathering this weekend?

Set List, 08/04 - 08/05/12 - Fellowship Bible Church

This week our pastor, Joe Hishmeh, shared some biblical wisdom regarding dating relationships, as we continued our series called "Can You Relate?". In his message, Joe emphasized the importance of seeking wisdom in our relationships and thinking of the big picture of the future rather than only thinking of the presence. It was great, practical wisdom, which is of benefit to all of us, whether we are already married or in dating relationships, because it gives us wise counsel that we can pass on to others. You can listen to or watch the entire message and service here. For our singing this week, we focused on the holiness and trustworthiness of God. We can trust Him with the people in our lives, as well as their (and our) relationships.

Here's our service plan from this weekend:

"Holy Is The Lord" (Ab) [Chris Tomlin] Welcome/Greeting Time Call To Worship/Confession/Ps. 51:1-2 Reading "You Alone Can Rescue" (Bb) [Matt Redman, Jonas Myrin] "Cornerstone" (Bb) [Edward Mote, Jonas Myrin, Reuben Morgan, Eric Liljero, William B. Bradbury] Communion "Christ Is Risen" (Gb) [Matt Maher, Mia Fieldes] Taking of the Elements Reprise of "Christ Is Risen" (Gb) Message - "Can You Relate? - Dating" [Joe Hishmeh] "Always" (Bb) [Kristian Stanfill, Jason Ingram] Offering/Announcements/Dismissal

"Holy Is The Lord" - We sang this song as a foundation for our services, in recognizing the holiness and glory of God. When we see God as He is--high and lifted up and greatly exalted--we see ourselves more clearly as those who are desperate for forgiveness and salvation. God's holiness and perfection is the foundation for understanding our own sinfulness and our need for salvation. This is a song that we haven't sung much since I have been here, but it is one that holds a special place in my faith journey, and it was great to hear the church singing together on it.

"You Alone Can Rescue" - After our time of confessing the idols in our lives (the things that we have put stock in for our hope, our peace, our trust, etc.), we read Psalm 51:1-2. Then, we sang this song, expressing our confidence in Christ alone for our life and salvation. He is the only one who can heal us, help us, restore us, rescue us, and give us life. His is the only name in which we can trust without fear.

"Cornerstone" - We have been teaching this song to our congregation over the past few weeks, and I think it is taking root here. As I have written before, I love the lyric of "On Christ The Solid Rock I Stand," and how it expresses confidence and hope in the finished work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. I love singing this together with the Church.

"Christ Is Risen" - This was our communion song this week, and I thought it tied everything from this weekend together. It called us away from sin and toward Christ. It called us to trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross. It called us to hope in His resurrection from the dead. It reminded us of His victory over sin, death, and hell. It called us to life. We haven't sung this since Easter, and it was good to sing it together again. I love this one.

"Always" - This is another that we haven't sung in a while (April). I love how this song calls us to courage and confidence in Christ, recognizing that He alone is our hope and salvation. We can trust Him with our lives, with our broken relationships, with our conflicts, with our hurts, knowing that He can heal us and rescue us. This song says it so well. "I lift my eyes up/ My help comes from the Lord."

This weekend was a solid weekend. We made a few changes mid-stream, which caused some interesting moments, but overall it was a great time of worshiping together. The team did a great job adapting and leading our congregation well. It seems like it has been a while since we've had a "regular" weekend of worship, and it was refreshing to get back to leading with the full team again. I loved how well all the songs connected this week. Glory to God for His direction.

I hope you had a great weekend of worship wherever you were!

What were your thoughts or experiences from this weekend in your church?

p.s. don't forget to check out The Worship Community!

Set List, 04/21 - 04/22/12 - Fellowship Bible Church

This weekend, we began a series called "Everything!" Joe is talking through the concepts of a generous life and stewardship with all that we have. It was a really fresh and challenging perspective on generosity, beginning this weekend with a focus on the true owner of the things in this world - God owns everything, and we are stewards of what He owns. You can listen to the entire message here. For our singing, I wanted our songs to remind us that we have nothing to fear when we are in Christ. Many times, the thing that keeps us from obedience and generosity is that fear. He is always with us, and we can trust Him with everything we have and everything we are. He is so good and faithful!

Here's our service plan from this weekend:

"All We Need" (G) [Charlie Hall] Welcome/Greeting Time "Everlasting God" (Bb) [Brenton Brown, Ken Riley] "You Never Let Go" (Bb) [Matt Redman, Beth Redman] "Always" (Bb) [Kristian Stanfill, Jason Ingram] Message - "Everything: Where Your Treasure Is, Your Heart Will Be Also " [Joe Hishmeh] "I Surrender All" (D) [Judson Wheeler Van DeVenter, Winfield Scott Weeden] Offering/Announcements Dismissal

"All We Need" - We reintroduced this song to our congregation this weekend. It has been about three years since they had sung it, and it was a great fit for this message series, as it declares that our sufficiency is in Christ and nothing else.

"Everlasting God" - This song remains a staple for us. We sang this song because I wanted us as a congregation to remember that God is from everlasting to everlasting, and that He is our all-sufficient source of strength and hope. 

"You Never Let Go" - We haven't sung this song for a few months, and I felt that this series was a good time to bring it back. I feel it helps us to remember and declare that God will never leave us or forsake us, because He is faithful and unchanging. Matt Redman has a great gift in writing songs in this vein that really resonate with the Church, and which express great faith and trust in the faithfulness of our great God [e.g. "Blessed Be Your Name," "Never Once," "10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord)," etc.].

"Always" - This is another song that we haven't sung recently, which was also a good fit for the message this weekend. This song really focuses on how we need not fear because of God's faithfulness and perfect timing. No matter what we face in this life, we will endure and God will see us through. He will be there with us through it all.

"I Surrender All" - We responded to our time in the Word with this song. I felt it was a great statement of faith for us to sing after being challenged to trust God and obey Him completely, even when we feel it is difficult. It is in those times that it truly feels like "surrender," when we have to let go of things that we hold dear or things on which we feel dependent. That is exactly the type of thing that Joe pointed out in the Word this weekend. I tried playing it differently than I had before, in my favorite open tuning, DADGAD. I thought it turned out rather pretty (everything sounds good in DADGAD if one can find good chord voicings...). I will definitely use that again. I was inspired to take a look at some other hymns to try in this tuning, too. I'll keep you posted.

This weekend was another solid and very enjoyable weekend of worship. We also had OVERFLOW on Sunday night, which is our night of worship. I may post the set list from that worship gathering as well, in case people are looking for the info.

I hope you had a great weekend of worship wherever you were!

In the Son, Bill

p.s. don't forget to check out The Worship Community!

Set List, 10/15 - 10/16/11 Fellowship Bible Church

This weekend, we focused on John 11, looking specifically at Jesus' raising Lazarus from the dead. Joe preached on the death of death, and how we can only find life, hope, and promise in Jesus Christ. he also talked about how we can look to Jesus' response to Lazarus' death to see how He feels about the consequences of sin in our lives. The hurt that we experience because of sin also hurts Jesus. He cares deeply for us, and hates what sin has done to us. You can listen to the entire message here. Here's our service plan from this weekend:

Time of Preparation/Prayer "Hungry" (C) [Kathryn Scott] Welcome/Greeting Time Call to Worship (Psalm 117) "All Because of Jesus" (A) [Steve Fee] "I Stand Amazed (How Marvelous)" (D) [Charles Hutchison Gabriel] "Never Once" (A) [Matt Redman, Jason Ingram, Tim Wanstall] "Always" (Bb) [Kristian Stanfill, Jason Ingram] Prayer Message - John 11:17-44 [Joe Hishmeh] Response Time "Christ Is Risen" (Gb) [Matt Maher, Mia Fieldes] Offering/Announcements Reprise of "Christ Is Risen" Dismissal

"Hungry" - We opened our preparation time with this song. Becky Tindell led us as we sang of our hunger for the Lord and our dedication to Him. Jesus is the only one who can meet our needs and take care of us. He is the only one who has the words of eternal life, as Peter said in John 6:68. I felt that this was a great song for our preparation time, and helped to focus our hearts along the lines of Matthew 6:33, seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness.

"All Because of Jesus" - We sang this song because it celebrates the life that we have been given in Christ. It is only because of Him--His life, death, and resurrection--that we have life. Scripture says in Romans and Ephesians that we were "dead in our transgressions" and that we needed Christ to give us life. We were helpless to save ourselves, and were desperate for His salvation. Praise God for His provision, making a way for us where there was no way.

"I Stand Amazed (How Marvelous)" - Becky led us on this song as well. We sang this song because it praises God for His great love for us, demonstrated through the cross, and experienced in us through the life that we have been given because of His great work on our behalf. This new life is both now and forever. In the Bible, the word that is often translated as "eternal" or "everlasting" means more than just length of time; it conveys a sense of quality as well. The life that we have in Christ continues to grow deeper and fuller from here to eternity as we know and experience our Savior and His love.

"Never Once" - We began teaching this song last week, and we continued with it this week. I love this song, and I can't stop singing it. The chorus states an ageless truth in a fresh way when we sing, "Never once did we ever walk alone/ Never once did You leave us on our own/ You are faithful/ God, You are faithful." Our congregation has really taken a hold of this song and is singing it well. For me, probably because of my experience in my journey with Christ thus far, songs that sing of God's faithfulness really resonate with me. That is definitely the case with this song. I cannot get it out of my head, and I don't mind at all! The only difficulty with this song (as with many of Matt Redman's songs) is that the verses are pretty low and the chorus is pretty high. You have to "pick your poison," so to speak, for your congregation to be able to sing together on the chorus.

"Always" - This remains one of my favorite new worship songs. We flowed directly into this song from "Never Once," and the two together were a powerful declaration of God's faithfulness and constancy in all situations. My pastor Joe's comment about it was that it redeems the expression "Oh my God" as it sings it in the chorus as a declaration of confidence. I agree. This song is similar to "Never Once" in that the verses are low and the chorus is pretty high. We did it in Bb, and if we did it in A, the lowest note in the verse reaches down to F#! There's no way most people are singing that... Despite that, our congregation really connects with this song. I have probably heard more comments about being affected by this song than any other since I have been here.

"Christ Is Risen" - We responded to the Word with this song. We have never sung this song before at Fellowship, so I was unsure about how well our congregation would catch on and participate in it. This song was not in the original service plan, but as we met together and Joe shared more about his message, the Lord brought this song to the forefront of my thinking, so we made some changes and inserted it. The risk of our congregation not knowing it was worth the impact it could have in combination with Joe's message. We also tried something different in our service plan, incorporating this song into the end of Joe's message, and tying it with his call for people to believe the gospel message and to "come awake" as the song says. We kept it dynamically quiet before Joe came back up to call people to the gospel, and then we came back to the CH, BR, CH, CH and ramped it up until we were full volume and singing it with all our might. I was moved every time we sang it together, and I think our people connected with it as we declared the powerful truth of the chorus: "Christ is risen from the dead/ Trampling over death by death/ Come awake, come awake/ Come and rise up from the grave/ Christ is risen from the dead/ We are one with Him again/ Come awake, come awake/ Come and rise up from the grave." Amen.

This was a great weekend of worshiping our Savior. Our teams did a fantastic job. I was completely exhausted after this weekend was done, because I also led our children's worship services in the middle of our main services, sang for a wedding Friday night, and for a banquet Sunday night, totaling 11 events for which I sang. I could barely speak this morning. :) God is faithful, and He helped preserve my voice for when I needed it, for which I am very grateful. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve our church in so many different ways this weekend. It seemed like the Lord was calling me to a greater level of servanthood all the way through, and I felt that He was reminding me of His call for me to pour myself out for our people. I was challenged and blessed at the same time. It was a fantastic weekend.

I hope you had a great weekend of worship wherever you were.

In the Son,

Bill

p.s. don't forget to check out The Worship Community!

Set List, 07/16 - 07/17/11 Fellowship Bible Church

This week, our focus was Philippians 4:8-9, and Joe preached on "An Appraisal of Thoughts." This passage calls us out on the way we think about things: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me--practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." We can either think on the things of God or the things of this world. The question is: where are our thoughts directed most of the time? I think we were all challenged about our thought lives as a result. For the songs this weekend, we focused on the glory of God, His sovereign might and power, and His unique worth--all pointing to the fact that Jesus is the one most worthy of our thoughts. Here's our service order from this weekend:

Pre-Service - "Say Say" (A) [Christy Nockels, Kristian Stanfill, Chris Tomlin] Call to Worship - Psalm 40:5-8 Prayer "Glory to God Forever" (Bb) [Steve Fee, Vicky Beeching] Camp Barnabas Student Testimonies/Offering Welcome/Announcements/Greeting Time "Let Me Sing" (Bb) [Todd Fields] "Always" (Bb) [Kristian Stanfill, Jason Ingram] Scripture Reflection - Psalm 97:1-5 "Lord of All" (Bb) [Kristian Stanfill] Prayer Message - Philippians 4:8-9 - "An Appraisal of Thoughts" [Joe Hishmeh] Response - "Psalm 19" (D) [Terry Butler] Dismissal (You may notice a little more detail in the set list/service order this week. I decided to begin including every element of our service, to give a better picture of our flow and what we incorporate week-to-week.) 

"Say Say" - This is a song that we began teaching a few months ago, and the focus of believing and thinking about the truth that Jesus Christ is God and King made it a solid fit for this week's services.

"Glory to God Forever" - We used this song because it points to God as our Creator and the One who has given us breath, and also provides an opportunity for us to respond with faith and commitment. I have written a lot about this song in the past, so suffice to say that I really love and latch onto the bridge of this song, and the prayer for God to take our lives and use them for His glory.

"Let Me Sing" - This is the second consecutive week that we have taught this song to our congregation. It is a song that was used a while back, long before I arrived here, but it needed some "dusting off," as many in our congregation has recently started attending over the past year. In this instance, the same process of teaching applies, because a song isn't familiar or part of our worship vocabulary anymore. So, we will teach it one more week, and then bring it back a few weeks after that to solidify it in our vocabulary and collective memory.

"Always" - This is another song that we taught a few weeks ago, and it was time to bring it back as a reminder. In Joe's message, he focused partially on worry and thinking on things that are not trusting or depending on God. This song speaks to that kind of thinking, in a powerful declaration of faith and confidence in God's ability to affect our situation, no matter how impossible it may seem. I love the truth of this song, and the way in which it is presented. It's a strong way to affirm our confidence in Christ.

"Lord of All" - We led into this song by reflecting on a passage from Psalm 97, from which a large portion of this song derives. The passage, in the NLT, reads

The Lord is king! Let the earth rejoice! Let the farthest islands be glad. Clouds and darkness surround Him. Righteousness and justice Are the foundation of His throne. Fire goes forth before Him And burns up all His foes. His lightning flashes out across the world. The earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, Before the Lord of all the earth.

I love the imagery of this Psalm, as it gives both a sense of mystery and of omnipotence. Rather than fear, the Psalmist calls everyone to "rejoice" because "The Lord is king." God's just and righteous reign is indeed cause for celebration and for worship. He is the almighty ruler of everything, and He will always do what is right and good. I believe there is great hope for us when we consider these things. We don't have to worry about injustice being left unresolved. God will make everything right. He will fix everything. As my daughter's Bible says (my paraphrase), "God will undo everything that is wrong."

This song has become a favorite of our congregation, and rightfully so. This song lifts the Lord up like He deserves to be. It speaks the truth about His almighty power, His glory, His uniqueness, His sovereignty, His wisdom, and His worth. I don't think there's ever a bad time to sing these things.

"Psalm 19" - I first heard this song done by Shane & Shane in 2003 (although it was written in 1995). The prayer of this song, coming directly from Psalm 19:14 - "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer (ESV)" - was a great fit for the focus of Joe's message. While it was a little unfamiliar for our congregation, it has enough repetition that it is easy to pick up, and our congregation was participating by the end. I encouraged us to make this our prayer in response to the message.

It was a solid weekend of gathering together to worship our King. Despite the fact that early into the first service on Saturday night, I began going hoarse. My throat didn't hurt, yet my voice was disappearing randomly. After I walked off the platform, I went straight to the water and brewed some tea, and that got me through the rest of the night without a problem. I think I might have been a little dehydrated, because I didn't drink much water on Saturday until the evening. I think I've learned my lesson.

On a sad note, this weekend was the last weekend serving with one of our core worship team members, Hannah Anderson. She is moving to Colorado Springs next weekend to begin teaching kindergarten for a school there. Her joyful and encouraging presence for our church and our worship and arts ministry, along with her talent as both a vocalist and keyboardist, will be sorely missed. She will be a tremendous blessing to a congregation in Colorado and to her new students. I am thankful for the opportunity to have served with her for these past six months, and the team and I are praying for her on her new adventure.

I hope you had a great weekend of worship wherever you were. Be sure to check out The Worship Community's Sunday Set Lists to see what other leaders and worshipers experienced this weekend.

In the Son,

Bill

Question time: what is your favorite song for worship? Join the conversation below!

Set Lists, 06/18 - 06/19/11 Fellowship Bible Church

(once again, WordPress logged me out midway through my draft, so this is mostly a second try, so I may miss a few things...) This weekend, we focused on Philippians 3:1-11 for a message on "An Appraisal of Worth and Identity." From this passage, Joe pointed out that we are to place no confidence in our flesh (the things of this world by which we might try to identify ourselves) and we are to compare our lives and the stuff of life against Jesus Christ and His “surpassing worth” (3:8 ESV). Nothing we have to offer—nothing we have done—even comes close to comparing with the worth of Jesus. Our salvation is completely dependent on who He is and what He has done.  Paul says it this way, “not having a righteousness of my own that comes through the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (Phil. 3:9 ESV). In the music this weekend, we focused completely on the gospel, recognizing our complete inability to save ourselves, and the unique ability and work of Christ to rescue us and to give us life. We are completely dependent on Him for salvation and eternal life, hence the repeating themes of “nothing but the blood of Jesus,” “You alone can rescue,” and “I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord.” Jesus Christ is all we have!

Here's our set from this weekend:

"All Because of Jesus" (Bb) [Steve Fee] Call to Worship - Psalm 86:8-10 "I Stand Amazed" (G) [Charles Hutchison Gabriel] Welcome/Greeting Time/Offering "Nothing But The Blood (Your Blood)" (Bb) [Matt Redman] / Child Dedication (at Sunday 10:45 AM service only) "Always" (Bb) [Kristian Stanfill, Jason Ingram] "You Alone Can Rescue" (Bb) [Matt Redman, Jonas Myrin] Message - "An Appraisal of Worth and Identity" [Joe Hishmeh] Response - "Nothing But The Blood" (G) [Robert Lowry]

"All Because of Jesus" - This song is a strong declaration and reminder of where our real life comes from: Jesus Christ. It is only because of Him that we are alive. We have life in Him alone. As the verse says, even the breath that we breathe is a gift from God. We are completely dependent on Him, from beginning to end. As James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above.” Everything that is truly good is from God, and Him alone. Therefore, no one else is worthy of our devotion, our worship, or our glory.

"I Stand Amazed" - Like many hymns (think "It Is Well"), this one speaks to the past, the present reality, and future of our faith - our condemnation, our redemption, and our glorification in Christ. I believe that is what is so timeless about many hymns. It is a song that just revels in the amazing love of God for us. It is truly marvelous, and we should never get beyond a state of wonder when we think of it.

"Nothing But The Blood (Your Blood)"  - YouTube- I love how Matt Redman took the thought from Robert Lowry’s hymn and reworked it into this song. The concepts of placing no confidence in the things of this world and of the blood of Jesus “[speaking] a better word/ than all the empty claims/ I’ve heard upon this earth” and “[speaking] righteousness for me/ and [standing] in my defense” are beautiful and powerful.

I also love the Brazilian version of this song, done by Fernandinho (the Brazilian equivalent of Chris Tomlin), Nada Além do Sangue.” I first heard this on my last trip to Brazil in 2009, when I joined my friends on the worship team of Igreja da Paz in Santarém, located in the Amazon River basin in the Brazilian state Pará. They let me join in leading with them for their Sunday services (all SEVEN), and it was an amazing experience, one of the highlights of my life. You can get a glimpse of what their services are like Igreja da Paz Central. They let me lead “Poder Pra Salvar” (“Mighty to Save,” one of the few that I can actually sing in Portuguese…), and we also did this song, which has a very cool bridge part in Portuguese, and it drives me crazy that it doesn’t really work in English. In Portuguese, it sings “Eu so livre,” which translates into English as “I am alive.” I love the melody of that part, and how it simply sums up the result of what Christ has done. The best I have come up with is to simply sing the melody with no words, and then to repeat, “Nothing but Your blood…” This song makes me miss my friends in Brazil.

"Always" - This was our third week teaching this song to our congregation. You can read more about my thoughts on the song here. The congregation is definitely learning the song, and we are singing it out more together. We will let the song rest a few weeks and then we’ll bring it back to see it with fresh eyes. This is now part of what I would call, “our worship vocabulary,” or basically the songs that we know together as Fellowship Bible Church (a little bit of strategy here…).  I think each worship leader needs to know what is the vocabulary of his context, and needs to be careful to teach the congregation he serves new songs intentionally and with a plan, so that they have a chance to know it and to own it, rather than just singing from the screen or wherever else they see the lyrics. In our church, we want the projection to be a backup plan rather than a crutch. We want our congregation to sing from their hearts, and to have the screen as a backup if they forget the words. We teach a new song at least three consecutive weeks to make this a possibility. I think many modern worship leaders, myself included, underestimate how many times our people need to hear a song before they know it. We wonder, “Why do they sing older song so well?” The answer: they have heard those songs hundreds of times, even if they didn’t attend church gatherings in their youth. It is likely that the newer songs we use are only heard in the context of our worship gatherings. So, they only hear it/sing it as often as we lead it in our worship gatherings. I think it is valuable to any worship leader to assess how many times our people have sung each song, and to be intentional about teaching our people the songs we sing, as I said earlier.

"You Alone Can Rescue" – This song was a great fit for the message this weekend, as it emphasizes that we are incapable of saving ourselves, and that only Jesus can rescue us. I also liked how this song tied together with “Always,” in referring to the passage from Psalm 121:1-2, “I lift my eyes up to the hills, from where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” This song is a simple, powerful declaration of confidence in the work of Christ on our behalf. I love it!

We taught this song a few months ago, and it was time to bring it back, especially for this message. I love how the congregation responds when they really know a song, and it was obvious that they knew this one as we sang it together. This is the fruit of what I mentioned above. We spent the time to learn this song together, and now, whenever we bring it back into our services, our people know it, and can sing it wholeheartedly. This, I believe, is one of our goals as congregational worship leaders. We want our people to be able to sing with sincerity, and that only happens when they really know, from experience, what they are singing. They have heard it, they have seen it, and they have sung it, and they remember it. It’s a beautiful thing.

"Nothing But The Blood" - This is one of my favorite hymns. The simple truth that there is no other pardon for sin than in the blood of Jesus Christ, tied to the truth that there is no forgiveness for sins without the shedding of blood (Hebrews 9:22). During the fourth service, a thought occurred to me: how many times did I sing this song while still having confidence in my own good works as it relates to my standing before God? How many of us have done this? We cannot sing this song honestly if we are still clinging to our own good works before God—we could not sing, “Nothing can for sin atone/ Nothing but the blood of Jesus/ Naught of good that I have done/ Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” May each of our hearts be able to sing this with honesty. I stand on nothing but the righteousness of Jesus Christ, who died in my place for my sins, who reconciled me to God, who made a way where there was no way, who is my confidence.

I am thankful for our team and our church, and for the opportunities we have to worship together. This weekend was refreshing for me. I never get tired of hearing and proclaiming the gospel in word and song, and this weekend was a beautiful example of just that. Christ was lifted high this weekend.

I hope you had a great weekend of worship wherever you were. Be sure to hop on over to The Worship Community to check out what other leaders and worshipers experienced this weekend. Have a great week!

I’d love to hear your thoughts below. Join the discussion!

In the Son,

Bill

 

Set List, 06/11 - 06/12/11 Fellowship Bible Church

This weekend, we focused on Philippians 2:19-30, where Paul commends Timothy and Epaphroditus, pointing out their sacrificial service for the gospel and for the Philippian believers. The call for us this week is to live a life of ministry, leveraging everything we are and have for the purposes of God and His kingdom. Because of His worth, we should put everything, even our lives, on the line for His sake. Here's our set from this weekend:

Pre-Service - "I Will Go" (F#m) [Tim Neufeld, Jon Neufeld] Call to Worship - Isaiah 40:28-29, 31 "Everlasting God" (Bb) [Brenton Brown, Ken Riley] Welcome/Offering/Announcements/Greeting "Glory to God Forever" (Bb) [Steve Fee, Vicky Beeching] "Always" (Bb) [Kristian Stanfill, Jason Ingram] "Jesus Paid It All" (Bb) [John Thomas Grape, Elvina M. Hall, and Alex Nifong] Message - The Appraisal of All Things: A New Appraisal of Ministry [Joe Hishmeh] Response - "Take My Life And Let It Be" (D) [Frances Ridley Havergal, Henri Abraham Cesar Malan] 

"I Will Go" - This song is a strong call for us to lay down privilege and blessing for the sake of Christ, reaching out to the hurting and the helpless in our world. We used this song because Joe's message was focusing in on the life that is laid down for Christ and His purposes, and the conscious decision to sacrifice, which goes against our nature.  I think this song may still be a little surprising to our congregation, just because the sound is a little "edgy." I think I may play with the arrangement and/or presentation of the song in the future. This song is definitely worth singing, because it is a challenging call on each of our lives. May the cry of our hearts be with that of Isaiah, as the song sings, "I will go, I will go/ I will go, Lord, send me/ To the world, to the lost/ To the poor and hungry/ Take everything I am/ I'm clay within Your hands/ I will go, I will go, send me."

"Everlasting God" - Coming out of our call to worship from Isaiah 40, I wanted to make the challenge to our people that God calls us to imitate Him and His character, and what Scripture says of Him it also, in a way, challenges us to be the same. In the Isaiah passage it describes God as not fainting or growing weary. At the end of the chapter, it says that the ones who wait on the Lord and find their strength in Him will not faint or grow weary, either. In the midst of this, it describes God as helping the faint and the one without strength (us). We should of the same mind, helping those in need and those who are powerless. This song points out these characteristics of God, and as we sing them, I am challenged that the things He cares about are the things I should care about, too. His priorities are the only right priorities, because He is God. This is a song that our congregation engages easily with but I wanted to approach it from a different angle, to keep us thinking about what we're singing, so that it doesn't lose its impact.

"Glory to God Forever" - I have commented many times before, but the bridge of this song is a beautifully simple prayer for God to use our lives for what matters: Him and His glory! "Take my life and let it be/ All for You and for Your glory/ Take my life and let it be Yours." I strive to make this my prayer each time I sing it.

"Always" - This was the second week of teaching this song. I decided to bring it down a half-step to Bb to see how the congregation sings with it there. This song is tricky in that regard, because the verse is pretty low while the chorus reaches fairly high. In Bb, the verse goes all the way down to a G. In the key of Bb, it still seemed that the chorus was hard to reach. Some of the quiet response to the song may be due to the newness of the song, so we'll leave it where it is for another week to see if it changes. The lyric continues to resonate with me, and reminds me that my strength and my hope are only in Jesus, and not in my abilities, talent, knowledge, strength, or anything else on this earth. It is only in Him. He is the only one who is able to rescue me and change me. The battles of this life belong to Him.

"Jesus Paid It All" - This song points to the cross and the price Jesus paid, in our place for our sins. The only proper response will be something like, "All to Him I owe." Our response to His grace, love, and sacrifice does not earn salvation for us, but it is a response of thanksgiving for the amazing free gift He gave us. He is so good to us, and loved us even when we were His enemies! This is what I shared with our congregation before we sang it together, because it is so easy for us to drift into the mentality that what we do can make God like us more. We cannot be any more acceptable to God than through the finished work of Jesus Christ in His atoning death and His resurrection. He has made the way for us to be right with God, and now we are free to love and to serve without another thought for ourselves. I have been reading Martin Luther's On Christian Liberty (aka The Freedom of the Christian) this past week, and it sparked a thought: because of Christ's selfless and sacrificial life and death for us, we can now be truly selfless. In the paradigms where we think our own works make us righteous before God, even the smallest good deed has a selfish twist to it, because we are trying to make ourselves acceptable to God. In Christ, we don't have to think that way anymore. We can truly love and serve without thinking of ourselves, because Christ has thought of us and gave Himself for us. His selflessness made it possible for us to be truly selfless. It's the only way that we could be truly selfless. We owe our lives to Jesus, expressed in our love for Him and for others.

"Take My Life And Let It Be" - I got the idea for this arrangement from Andrew Osenga's former band, The Normals. On the 21st track (the bonus track), they had a really nice acoustic arrangement of this song, with a beautiful introduction. I tweaked the idea a bit for congregational use, and brought it down to the key of D to make it a little easier to sing. I love the focus of this song, and I felt it was a great fit for Joe's message this week. This song is a simple prayer for God to use everything about us (our life, our hands, our feet, our lips) for Him and His purposes, sanctifying them in using them for His glory.

It was a good week of worship. We are still struggling to get everyone awake and aware at our 9 AM service on Sundays, but  by the end of the song set, I think we were focused on the gospel, and ready to obey the Word of God. Overall, the congregation's response seemed a little quieter and weaker. I'm trying to figure out to what it can be attributed. Maybe the first song got us started on the wrong foot, even though the message was on point. Maybe the rainy/cloudy weather had everyone a little down compared to normal. It still surprises me how we can do things in very similar ways, yet have very different responses and engagement from a congregation. It just goes to show that it is not about us. We are just facilitators, trying to make it as easy as possible for people to see Jesus Christ and all His glory, and to see what the proper response is to who He is and what He has done.

I hope you had a great weekend of worship wherever you were, and that you were a part of lifting up the name of Jesus!

Join the discussion below! I would love to hear your thoughts. What are some things that have helped your congregation "wake up" in early morning services? What are some things you have tried that help your congregation engage in your context?

In the Son,

Bill

p.s. be sure to check out The Worship Community's Sunday Set Lists to see what other leaders and worshipers experienced this weekend with their communities.

Set List, 06/04 - 06/05/11 Fellowship Bible Church

This weekend we focused on Philippians 2:12-18 and discussed criticism, grumbling, and arguing. Joe really challenged the church to counteract the tendency to complain and criticize by getting involved. You cannot be truly engaged and active in the ministry of the gospel and of the church and still have a critical spirit. We can all take this message to heart, and search out those areas where we choose to sit on the sidelines and "throw stones" rather than get engaged in ministry. This topic was a little tricky to develop a worship set around, so where we couldn't make a great connection, we focused on the goodness and faithfulness of God, and His unique worth. A few songs were great fits, and I think we ended with a strong connection in our response song.

Pre-Service - "Walk The World (Let My Life Shine)" (B) [Charlie Hall, Kendall Combes] Call to Worship - Colossians 1:13-14 "Marvelous Light" (B) [Charlie Hall] Welcome/Offering/Announcements/Greeting "Blessed Be Your Name" (B) [Matt Redman, Beth Redman] "Always" (B) [Kristian Stanfill, Jason Ingram] Message - "The Appraisal of All Things: A New Appraisal of Criticism" Communion Setup Communion Song - "You Saw Me" (C) [Mia Fieldes, Ben Fielding, and Reuben Morgan] Taking the Elements Response Song - "Mighty To Save" (A) [Ben Fielding, Reuben Morgan]

"Walk The World (Let My Life Shine)" - I have enjoyed this song since I heard Charlie Hall do it first at Passion 2007 in Atlanta. I remember immediately thinking how interesting and fresh the chorus was: "Let my life shine/ Come and let my heart shine/ We're gonna walk the world/ And lift the bread and wine/ Like the stars shine/ Come and let our hearts shine/ In a dark world/ We lift the bread and wine." The connection between the Lord's Supper and the spread of the gospel is really unique. Charlie Hall explained that he was simply making use of the symbolism of communion to communicate that believers lift up the body and blood of Jesus Christ as we go out into the world, and He is the hope that we hold out for them. The focus passage this week talks about how believers "shine as lights in the world" (Phil. 2:15 ESV) and that was the major connection for this song. Being that this weekend was also a communion weekend, the image of the elements was also a neat connection. The groove on this song is killer, and the band did a great job putting the pieces together for it. Our intention for this song in the pre-service slot was not necessarily for participation, but to set the tone for the service and to get us pointed to the focus of the weekend.

"Marvelous Light" - This is a s0lid song about the change that the cross has made for us. While, this is not a new song for our congregation, I don't feel that it connects very well here. It may be due in part to the tricky melody of the verses, where it can really go anywhere, and people are not confident that they are singing the right thing (I have always thought that it was tricky for people to sing with). Even so, I love the pre-chorus and the chorus of the song, as they communicate the powerful truth of the gospel. The pre-chorus says it all, "Sin has lost its power/ Death has lost its sting/ From the grave You've risen/ Victoriously." Word.

"Blessed Be Your Name" - This song is (and should be) a constant challenge to me as we sing it together. To give Jesus all glory and praise, even in the midst of trials and suffering, is contrary to our human nature. If anything, we want to do the exact opposite, and curse God and our circumstances for the way they make us feel. It is only by His Spirit and His grace that we can worship Him in the midst of our suffering. This is why we must call one another to this kind of worship, that knows no boundaries or situations where we cannot worship God. He is always worthy, and we need to see Him that way. No matter the situation, no matter the trial, He deserves our worship and our glory. He deserves our love and trust. When we set our eyes on Him in this way, our troubles seem smaller and we see Him as Lord over all. In fact, worshiping Him in the dark times is really a matter of trust. We worship Him in those times when we truly trust Him. May our hearts continue to be changed to worship Him with this kind of deep love and trust.

"Always" - This was our first time singing this song together at Fellowship. It has been on my radar since I lived in Lakeland, and I have been waiting for the right opportunity to introduce it here. I have had it playing on the house background music for about a month to get people somewhat familiar with the sound and feel of it, so it wouldn't feel so foreign when we taught it. I love this song, and I am almost brought to tears every time I sing it, as it communicates trust in God in a unique way. The bridge of the song comes from Psalm 121, where the Psalmist looks to the hills, the high places surround the city of Jerusalem, and sees the idols and monuments there. He recognizes how powerless those idols are, being only wood and stone. Instead, he says, "my help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth" (ESV). He turned from the empty things of this world to the only one who has the power to save or change anything - the Lord. The Lord is the only one who can make any difference in our lives. He is the only one who can rescue us and save us. Let us look nowhere else for our help.

"You Saw Me" - We used this song for our communion time, and I think this song is perfect for that setting. It paints a very profound picture of Christ seeing us while suffering on the cross in our place. The chorus sings, "And You saw me when You took the crown of thorns/ Your blood washed over me/ And You loved me through the nails that You bore/ Your blood washes over me." I love this lyric, and I think it resonates with the church as we sing it. For my wife, it took a few hearings to really connect, and I suspect it may be the same for many people. I think it requires us to come at the song from a certain angle, and focusing on the wrong part of the lyric can throw you off. Focusing on the chorus of the song puts everything else in its proper place.

"Mighty to Save" - We responded to the call of this weekend's message with this song, mainly because of the bridge, which connected well with Philippians 2:15 (see above) when it sings, "Shine your light and let the whole world see/ We're singing for the glory of the risen King, Jesus." This song is very familiar to our congregation, and I think it was a great fit for the weekend. We are called to carry the message of the gospel to the world, and we cannot do that when we are busying ourselves with complaining and arguing. It's just not possible. Jesus and His gospel are infinitely more worthy of our time and dedication than our own preferences or desires!

("Unleashed" by Warren Barfield) - we only did this song after the Sunday services, as we began jamming with it as band members were showing up for our warm-up time this morning before the first service. This was the song, from the album Reach that introduced me to Warren Barfield.

It didn't seem like the congregation was participating as much this weekend as the past few weeks. I was a little concerned that the keys of some the songs might be a little out of reach, so that may be partly to blame. It may have been the two new songs combined with one with difficult verses. At any rate, the weekend had a very strong and powerful feel to it, and I didn't quite expect it to the extent that it was. "Blessed Be Your Name" and "Always" felt much more powerful than I anticipated. I was really blessed by our worship times this weekend and by our team. I was also very challenged by what Joe shared from the Word. God is so good and faithful. May my life be more committed to expanding the kingdom of God, no matter the personal cost!

I hope you had a great weekend of worship wherever you were. Be sure to check out The Worship Community to see what other leaders and worshipers experienced this weekend in their respective contexts.

Join in the discussion below. Talk about the songs from this weekend, the message, the flow, the environment of the services (if you were here), and how the different elements affected you. I love to hear your perspective on things.

In the Son,

Bill