Set List, 07/23 - 07/24/11 Fellowship Bible Church

This weekend, we focused on the topic of contentment from Philippians 4:10-13. In this passage, Paul writes that in every circumstance, he has learned to be content. He is able to do this through the strength that Christ gives. Joe emphasized from this passage that our expectations for increase and improved life status (in the west, anyway) makes it easy for us to be discontent with our lives. Our idea of "normal" is faulty. Our idea of normal needs to change, and we need to trust Christ in any and every circumstance in our lives. This subject is something we all need to hear on a regular basis, because it is easy to be drawn away into discontentment and distrust. Our songs for the weekend focused on trust, peace, and contentment, as well as the power and sufficiency of Christ. He is worthy of our lives and our worship, no matter the circumstances. Here's our set from this weekend:

Pre-Service - "Those Who Trust" (Em) [Don Chaffer] Call to Continue Worship - Psalm 95:1-3 "Let Me Sing" (Bb) [Todd Fields] Welcome/Offering/Announcements/Greeting Time "It Is Well" (Bb) [Horatio G. Spafford, Todd Fields] "You Never Let Go" (Bb) [Matt Redman] "A Mighty Fortress" (C) [Christy Nockels] Prayer Message - "An Appraisal of Contentment" [Joe Hishmeh] Response - "Desert Song" (D) [Brooke Fraser] Dismissal

"Those Who Trust" - Taken from Psalm 125, This is a favorite of our congregation, because it celebrates the firm foundation we have in Christ in a very distinct way. It's a lot of fun for our team and our congregation. Our discipleship, David Hinkle, played his trumpet on this one, and he is always a great addition to the team!

"Let Me Sing" - This was our third consecutive week teaching this song, and I loved using it at the top of the service, after the call to worship this week. It was fitting, coming after reading Psalm 95:1-3 together, which repeats the phrase, "Let us..." followed by several commands of worship. I love the message of this song, as it communicates the "why" of worship - we respond in worship and thanksgiving because God is who He is, and because He has done what He has - He has redeemed us!

"It Is Well" - This song, which we have used a few times over this series, was too good a fit for this weekend's message for us not to include it. I think it really echoes the truth of Philippians 4:10-13 in a strong way, and helps us to connect the truth to our hearts and minds. It gives us an simple way to respond to these truths through singing our commitment and trust to God.

"You Never Let Go" - This was another song that we have been teaching during this series, and it was another great fit for the message this week. These two songs have made me see more clearly how certain songs are great fits for a series of messages, and not just a single message. On both of these, it is apparent that much of our congregation knows them, and hardly needs to look to the screens for guidance. It's a beautiful thing.

"A Mighty Fortress" - We haven't done this song in a while at Fellowship (I think the last time was during the interview process), but it is one of my favorites. It is probably my favorite song off of Christy Nockels' solo album. Sarah Oldberg led this song, and she did an awesome job pointing to Christ through it. I had really enjoyed singing harmony with her. I love how they arranged the song because it has some great builds and accents that help focus us on the lyric, which powerfully points to the Lord as God and King, along with many other attributes of His. This is a song that the church needs to sing, much like "Lord of All" and a few others.

"Desert Song" - We responded to the message with this song, because it really sums up and describes what it is to praise God through any and all circumstances. Sarah led this song as well. This song has a very unique feel to it, especially for Hillsong - it almost feels Celtic in a way. At any rate, it was a very appropriate response to the Word, and I think we all walked away from this week challenged by the truth.

It was a good weekend. The team did a great job leading, and participation from the congregation was solid. I believe the focus of the weekend remained constantly on Christ, His gospel, who He is, and what He has done.

I hope you had a great weekend of worship, and that Christ was lifted high! Check out The Worship Community to see what other leaders and worshipers experienced in their congregations this weekend.

In the Son,

Bill

Set List, 05/21 - 05/22/11 Fellowship Bible Church (Through the Storm)

This weekend held a few surprises! During the middle of the message in the 5 PM service, we had a funnel cloud sighting and the tornado siren going off in Topeka, so we had to move everyone to our children's theater in the basement to take shelter. Joe closed out his message and I brought my guitar down so we could worship together. It was a sweet time of worship in that basement, with everyone (kids and all) crowded into a smaller room. We sang a few songs together, and it was such a beautiful sound to hear everyone so clearly (our worship center is pretty deadened sonically, so it is sometimes difficult to hear everyone). It was a blessing. Because the warnings persisted, we decided to hold our 7 PM service  in the basement as well. The whole band came down and it was a really special time for all of us, as we adapted to the situation and still served God and our church. I will never forget last night. You can see more about the details of what happened over my Tech Director, Wyatt Johnston's blog: wyattjohnston.com.

Joe talked about fear and security, and suffering for the cause of Christ. It was a challenging message. He shared about how God calls us to faith, trust, and certainty rather than fear, doubt, and uncertainty, regardless of the circumstances. He shared about the high calling of suffering together with Christ, that Jesus' name may be lifted high through it. May we all be counted worthy to suffer for His name.

Here's our set from this weekend:

Pre-Service - "Those Who Trust" (Em) [Don Chaffer] Call to Worship - Psalm 150:3-6 "Everlasting God" (Bb) [Brenton Brown, Ken Riley] Welcome/Announcements/Offering/Greeting Time "Hosanna (Praise is Rising)" (G) [Paul Baloche, Brenton Brown] "You Never Let Go" (Bb) [Matt Redman] "Your Name" (Bb) (Paul Baloche, Glenn Packiam] Message - "A New Appraisal of  Fear and Security" [Joe Hishmeh] Response - "Forever Reign" (Ab) [Jason Ingram, Reuben Morgan]

We began our pre-service time with "Those Who Trust" from the album Enter the Worship Circle: First Circle. This entire album holds a special place in my life and walk with Jesus, as it was a catalyst for a worship reformation for me. Each of the songs comes directly from Scripture, and the writers came together, studied the Bible, and created songs out of that experience together. The recording is raw and full of life, and done with all acoustic instruments. One of the most amazing worship experiences I have ever had happened as a result of this music. I joined a few friends after an event, and we were sitting on the floor in their living room, and we had a few guitars, and they began to sing some of these songs. As we sang and spent some time in a spontaneous worship moment, just playing a few chords and singing our prayers to God, a bridge came to me, and it ended up becoming the bridge of this song, Everything. The experience taught me a new way to write and to worship, in singing my prayers to God. This particular song has a great groove to it, and I love the declaration of confidence in God from Psalm 125. "Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot move, but abides forever." Our God is a sure foundation, and we can place all of our confidence in Him. This song was an even better fit for the message than I had planned.

During our call to worship, we focused on Psalm 150:3-6, and taught our people about the Biblical expressions of worship through the instruments that are written about there (with a few adaptations...). We had our Adult Ministries Pastor, David Hinkle, playing trumpet for the service, so it was the perfect opportunity for this. It was a fun demonstration of Biblical worship. This passage ends with the command: "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord" (ESV), so we repeated together as a church, "Praise the Lord!"

After the call to worship, we went straight into "Everlasting God." This song is a standard for our church, and we always sing it well together. I love the simplicity and solid foundation of this song directly from Isaiah 40. We followed this with Redman's "You Never Let Go," which was very much in keeping with the theme of leaving our fear behind and placing our confidence and trust in the Lord, coming largely from Psalm 23. This was the second week that we have been teaching this song, and the congregation was sing much more in each of the services. We finished the second set with "Your Name," which partly comes from Psalm 65:8: "The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy" (NIV). This song is very singable, and is well-known to our people, so we all sing well on it. David Hinkle played the cello part on his trumpet with the mute, and it was a cool and new feel for that line. I really enjoyed it.

We responded to Joe's message with "Forever Reign." Sarah Oldberg sang lead on this song, and did a great job. This song focused on another element of the message this week--that Jesus is more worthy and more valuable than anything we can have or lose in this life: "Oh, I'm running to Your arms, I'm running to Your arms/ The riches of Your love will always be enough/ Nothing compares to Your embrace/ Light of the world, forever reign." The bridge of this song always engages me, as we sing together, "My heart will sing/ No other name/ Jesus, Jesus." May this be true of all of us. May our hearts truly seek Jesus as the main object of our love and affection.

In each of our services this weekend, I felt that our people were really engaging and participating. I am really encouraged by how we are growing together, and God is being glorified in our transformation. I am also encouraged by how well all of our teams adapted to the craziness of the storms on Saturday night. No one complained (not once!) about the inconvenience of moving all their gear downstairs, or recreating the worship slides, or having to deal with a smaller stage or lesser equipment. Everyone maintained the attitude that it is a joy and honor to serve Jesus and His church, and adapted to the changes with grace and gratefulness. This just goes to show what an amazing group of people I have the privilege of serving with here with Fellowship. I am so thankful for each of them. God is so good!

I hope you had a great weekend in worship, and I hope that you are safe from the weather. Be sure to head over to The Worship Community to see what other churches and leaders experienced this weekend, and join the conversation there. Also, share your thoughts below. I love to hear your take on things!

In the Son,

Bill

Change is Coming, and it is Bittersweet.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” This verse has always been one that has guided Diane and me through our marriage and ministry together. We have sought to trust God, even when it’s difficult, and to follow Him wherever He leads, because He knows what we do not know, and He sees what we cannot see. His will is what we would have chosen if we knew everything about any given situation. In February of 2006, after the craziest 6 months we had ever experienced, God called Diane and I here to First Baptist Church at the Mall. He confirmed this in many ways and made it absolutely clear that He wanted us here. When He said, “Go,” we went. Before Lakeland He called us to New Orleans for seminary, and before that it was Gainesville, FL, to serve as campus missionaries. He has been faithful to guide us and direct our steps, leading us where He wants us and providing for us, and that has only furthered our trust in Him.

In mid-July, God again made it abundantly clear to Diane and me that we are to go. God is calling us to serve in what we believe to be a smaller church or church plant as the worship pastor, but we are not certain of where yet. At this time, we have talked with several pastors about different opportunities, but nothing certain has developed. Throughout this process, we have sought to be wide-open before God, saying to Him, “Lord, whatever You want is what we want.” We shared this with Pastor Jay and the executive staff team when we knew, and they have been extremely supportive and helpful through all of it. Words cannot tell you how grateful I am for these men and for the church taking good care of us during this time of transition.

This has been one of the hardest and most uncertain times in our lives, as we have never had to walk this road with so much at stake, but we are trusting God to lead us and to take care of us as He has so many times in the past. It may seem foolish to step out like this with no sure thing on the other end, but I would have failed you as a leader and a pastor if we ignored God’s calling on us and disobeyed His direction.

Please know that it has been our privilege to serve such an amazing church family. We have some amazing relationships here. We have witnessed God move in amazing ways, and we are so grateful to have been a part. We have been able to share the joy of the birth of both of our children here. You have encouraged us, nurtured us, and loved us as we have learned and grown over these past 4 ½ years. We have never felt as loved as we do here. Many times, however, following God means letting go of something that you treasure. For us, that is you. We love you like crazy, and we will miss you terribly. So much of our hearts will be left here. We consider this home, and saw ourselves staying here indefinitely, but God had other plans.

We ask that you would please pray for us as we take this step. Pray for God’s clear direction. Pray that we will be able to sell our home. Pray for our kids as they deal with change. Also, pray for the church leadership as they seek out God’s man to take up where I leave off. We are trusting that the greatest days for Church at the Mall are still ahead, and that God will bring just the right man to continue on in leading you and caring for you. I know for certain that you are in great hands with this worship team, as they are some of the most talented musicians and leaders I have ever served with.

I will be leading for the next few weeks, as long as I am needed, and we look forward to sharing time with you and worshiping together as we all continue to pursue the heart of our great God. He is the only one worthy of our praise, and the only one worthy of our lives. Let us lay our lives down for the sake of His name and His Kingdom, because He laid down His life for us at the cross.