Why we Worship

PSALM 47

Clap your hands, all peoples!
  Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared,
  a great king over all the earth.
He subdued peoples under us,
  and nations under our feet.
He chose our heritage for us,
  the pride of Jacob whom he loves.

God has gone up with a shout,
  the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises!
  Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth;
  sing praises with a psalm!

Why Sing?

God reigns over the nations;
  God sits on his holy throne.
The princes of the peoples gather
  as the people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
  he is highly exalted!


Why Scripture?



 
Hymns
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)


Recent Posts

God? Who Needs Him?
May 31, 2013
Self-sufficient humanism. Paul saw it coming – “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”

Imago Dei
September 12, 2012
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Why Can't I Pray?
August 18, 2012
The bible gives us several reasons, but according to Jeremy Taylor, a deceitful heart is at the root of prayerlessness.

It's Not Rocket Science
July 23, 2012
To keep in step with the Spirit should be our daily quest. And if we are successful at that, all of life falls into place.

Theological Steak
April 10, 2012
These words by P. T. Forsythe on the magnificence of Christ's work are to theology what Ruth's Chris is to a good steak.

Describing the Indescribable
February 11, 2012
What we have in Christ will take all eternity to describe. But for one segment of one sermon, a great preacher made a mighty attempt.

Making Sense Of It All
January 30, 2012
Where are things headed? Is there rhyme and reason to the endless cycle of summer, fall, winter and spring? Is there a plan in place, or is randomness the explanation?

When God Comes Close

May 19, 2010

Jacob had his dream, and knew that God had been there. Jonathan Edwards had that afternoon in the woods, as God poured out his love profoundly and personally. Paul had an experience with God that he could not put into words. And they were changed.


George Matheson had a night of struggle with God one evening, and God decided to reassure him by giving him a song, a hymn of profound truth about the love of God that still has the ability to stir the faith of the singer.

A pastor in Scotland for the latter part of the 19th Century, Matheson's eyesight gradually declined to the point of blindness, but thanks to the help of his sisters, he excelled, and armed with an exceptional ability to memorize, he maintained a successful and fruitful ministry from the pulpit. Often those who heard him preach for the first time did not even realize that he was blind.

From Matheson's own recollection, we are told how O LOVE THAT WILT NOT LET ME GO was born.

My hymn was composed in the manse of Argyleshire, Scotland on the evening of the 6th of June, 1882, when I was 40 years of age. I was alone in the manse at that time. It was the night of my sister’s marriage, and the rest of the family were staying over night in Glasgow.

Some thing happened to me, which was known only to myself, and which caused me the most severe mental suffering. The hymn was the fruit of that suffering. It was the quickest bit of work I ever did in my life. I had the impression of having it dictated to me by some in ward voice rather than of working it out myself.

I am quite sure that the whole work was completed in five minutes, and equally sure that it never received at my hands any re­touching or correction. I have no natural gift of rhythm. All the other verses I have ever written are manufactured articles; this came like a dayspring from on high.

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

 

 






A Reality Check For Church Musicians

May 26, 2009

Worship music now holds a high and lofty position in the view of many (most?) church-goers and strategists. Without discounting its role, C.S. Lewis, as only he could do, warns of the need to keep our musical offerings in perspective.


All the Levites who were musicians......stood on the east side of the altar, dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres. They were accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets.

The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang:
      
"He is good; his love endures forever."
     
Then the temple of the LORD was filled with a cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the temple of God.

2 Chronicles 5:12-14

That must have been a thrilling moment in the history of God's people. Who would question that God designed music in part to glorify Him in worship? But there is a danger, a presumption that must be checked. Listen to C. S. Lewis from his essay entitled ON CHURCH MUSIC:

When it (music in the church) succeeds, I think the performers are the most enviable of men; privileged while mortals to honor God like angels and, for a few golden moments, to see spirit and flesh, delight and labor, skill and worship, the natural and the supernatural, all fused into that unity they would have had before the Fall.

But I must insist that no degree of excellence in the music, simply as music, can assure us that this paradisal state has been achieved. The excellence proves 'keenness'; but men can be 'keen' for natural, or even wicked, motives.

The absence of keenness would prove that they lacked the right spirit; its presence does not prove that they have it. We must beware of the naive idea that our music can 'please' God as it would please a cultivated human hearer. That is like thinking, under the old Law, that He really needed the blood of bulls and goats.

To which an answer came, 'Mine are the cattle upon a thousand hills', and 'if I am hungry, I will not tell thee.' If God (in that sense) wanted music, He would not tell us. For all our offerings, whether of music or martyrdom, are like the intrinsically worthless present of a child, which a father values indeed, but values only for the intention.

James Trott, in his second edition of hymn texts entitled A SACRIFICE OF PRAISE, includes a text by William Austin (1587-1634) that reveals the ongoing problem that church musicians in all ages have faced.

The poem is titled TO A MUSICIAN, and Trott states, "Many musicians are more out of order than their instruments; such as are so, may by singing this Ode become reprovers of their own untunable affections: they who are better tempered, are hereby remembered what music is most acceptable to God and most profitable to themselves.

What helps it those,
    Who skill in song have found,
Well to compose
    Of disagreeing notes,
By artful choice,
    A sweetly pleasing sound,
To fit their voice,
    And their melodious throats?
What helps it them
    That they this cunning know,
If most condemn
    The way in which they go?


In other words, musicians can sing and play with the finest of talent and artistry, but if others can see the inconsistency of their lives, and the fact that they don't subscribe to what they sing about, or try to live out the truth, then we have a problem.

What will he gain
    By touching his lute,
Who shall disdain
    A grave advice to hear?
What form the sounds
    Of organ, fife, or lute,
To him redounds,
    Who doth no sin forbear?
A mean respect,
    By tuning strings he hath,
Who doth neglect
    A rectified path.

Therefore, O Lord!
    So tuned let me be
Unto Thy Word,
    And Thy ten-stringed law,
That in each part
    I may thereto agree,
And feel my heart
    Inspired with loving awe;
He sings and plays
    The songs which best thou lovest,
Who does and says
    The things which Thou approvest.









Deep Waters
November 18, 2008
Our God is in the rescue business. He delivers, he saves. And not only that. The very trials we face are the testings we need to become strong, eventually producing eternal results

The Most Amazing Love
October 14, 2008
God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God, 2 Corinthians 5:21

The Light That Surprised William Cowper
July 8, 2008
The Lord said to Moses, "Who gave man his mouth?...is it not I, the Lord?" William Cowper stuggled with mental illness all his life, yet even so his "thorn in the flesh" enriched the Church. Just how did this happen?





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