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Voddie Baucham on Worship Leaders


Check out this Q&A with Voddie Baucham. A friend of mine showed me this after we talked about the need for worship leaders to have an actual theology of worship. Some would say that Pastor Voddie is extreme in his views. Personally, I think he may be onto something with his take on the role of the worship leader and his assessment of worship leaders in the American church today.

Q. Why do you place so much emphasis on Who leads worship at the events in which you participate?

A. I have a very high view of the role of the worship leader. I view leading worship as a sort of pastoral responsibility to which one must be called, and for which one must be equipped. Unfortunately, we live in a time when every kid who knows five chords and ten songs thinks God has called him or her to be a worship leader. Hence, there is a flood of young, inexperienced, untrained, and often biblically illiterate worship leaders who have done nothing more than learn the top songs off of a few worship CD’s. This is a travesty!

These guys go on to steal songs from men and women whom God has anointed and gifted to write songs, and use them to make CD’s of their own. All of this is done in the name of having “product” to sell on the road, or to promote ones self as a worship leader. Imagine John Mayer going into the studio and saying, “forget the hard work of producing an original album, lets just take the top ten songs from last year and put them all on my new CD this year.” That would be unthinkable! Nevertheless, that is what is happening every day with so-called worship leaders in this current generation; and they think that paying someone a few cents per copy makes it ok. I would rather not be a party to that.

I also do not think it is a good idea to work with people with whom I do not share a ministry philosophy, or theology of worship. I do not think that a worship leader and a preacher should just be thrown into the mix together because they are both “good at what they do,” and they both “love God.” That’s like putting a wishbone quarterback on a run-n-shoot team and expecting him to do well because he has great athletic ability!

A good voice and a love for God is not the sum total of a worship leader’s qualifications. Nor is it the ability to “move a crowd.” There is the question of the depth of one’s theology and how that depth is communicated in the songs one chooses to use, and how one chooses to use them. There is the ability to choose songs that are appropriate for the given audience and occasion. There is the ability to sense where God is leading and moving during a service, or a series of services (I.e. choosing response songs that suit the manner in which God is calling people to respond to what they’ve heard).

These are just a few things that must be taken into consideration. Unfortunately, they rarely enter into the decision of whom one will invite to lead worship. Often, the only questions asked are, “does he do the songs our people like?” and “does he sing well?” That is the type of shallow, carnal approach to ministry I try to avoid.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Would you say his view is extreme? Do you think worship leaders should be called to this standard?

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Redefining "Charismatic" 3


Counterfeit Charismatics

Counterfeit Charismatics have stripped themselves of the world's clothes, but remain naked and spiritually dead. In their exposure they grab at anything that might cover them and provide them with physical and emotional comfort. In every wind and wave of doctrine that their false teachers blow at them, they feel temporary shelter, but it never lasts. They keep coming back in order to receive a greater touch, thinking (and taught to believe) that it is the Holy Spirit who has been touching them all along, when it is actually another spirit.

Aside: It is very important to understand that in all of this labeling and defining it has never been and will never be my intention to judge or exclude any person from the Christian faith based on their expressiveness, or lack thereof, in worship. It's hard enough to discern whether a charismatic expression is authentic or not. Anyone can fool anyone else, and indeed I myself have fooled many people. The only One who cannot be fooled is the only Judge to whom our worship is directed. And although I am no judge in these matters I feel responsible to simply make it known that these people do exist and to do my best to discern between spirits. Beware that we don't confuse judgment for discernment, and be certain that the Gospel is the standard by which we discern the spirits.

Again, let me reiterate here that the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the fullness of grace and truth, must enter a person's soul in order for his body to manifest its affection in a true charismatic expression. If a charismatic is, in the purest sense of the word, "filled with grace," then Counterfeit Charismatics are not truly charismatic, although they appear to be. They are really non-charismatic, because grace has not filled their soul. They are charismatic, though, in the weaker sense of the word, meaning expressive. Or how about this definition from my dictionary widget: "exercising a compelling charm that inspires devotion in others."

Counterfeit Charismatics, like all humans, have an innate need for community, which for them is satisfied most often, although not exclusively, in special congregations where they can be "free in the Spirit." They gather in "Jesus' Name" but don't understand His mediation. They use the Bible but only to support their unbiblical agenda. To be sure, these churches seldom proclaim the Gospel, which makes it virtually impossible for their spiritual experience to be of God, and, I might add, for their sense of belonging to be genuine.

These communities, then, function more as exclusive clubs for those who have been "filled with the Spirit," confirmed by speaking in tongues, to feed off of the emotions of one another and to mimic each other and their leaders. Many of them exclude non-charismatic Christians from the faith, saying they aren't true Christians until they are "baptized in the Spirit" and prove it by speaking in tongues. There is a hope, I guess, since they call themselves Christians, and since they bring their Bibles, that the Gospel might incidentally be stumbled across, which then might invoke a genuine move of the Holy Spirit. But they might not recognize a real move of God, because it would probably look a lot different than the false, hyped-up ones they're so used to.

I should note that it is not only in these exclusive communities that fake charismatic expressions of worship occur. Even Genuine Charismatics are prone to have bouts of false worship experiences, as all humans are swayed, to an extant, by ungodly emotions and manipulations, no matter how well-intended they are. The moment anyone moves away from the Gospel, danger lurks. And even the best of us forget the Gospel on a regular basis. The difference between Counterfeit Charismatics, as I have labeled them, and Genuine Charismatics is the regeneration factor, the latter being alive in Christ and able to receive and respond freely to His grace. One more thing, to try to cover all my bases, is that the actions of a person who is genuinely manifesting the Gospel at work in his soul can possibly be observed and mimicked by another person who is really unaffected by the Gospel, thus making his own experience counterfeit. The hope is that the person who is merely faking is in a place where the Gospel is faithfully proclaimed. Perhaps his heart will be made alive and he will become truly charismatic.

Speaking from personal experience now, in the Counterfeit Charismatic circles in which I was raised (and I hesitate to call them counterfeit, because I am now lumping many people I know and love into this group, some of whom are most assuredly regenerate, Spirit-filled believers, but most of whom are stuck in this Gospel-less nightmare), the exaltation of the personal/individual experience in "worship" far outweighed the communal element, which I am convinced is an unbiblical thing and a hindrance to a true encounter with God. This is reflective of the narcissism that permeates Contemporary Praise and Worship, the forty year old movement which happens to have its roots in the charismatic movement. I have actually participated in a worship service where the worship leader told us to draw a box around ourselves, so as not to be distracted by anyone around us, and to "make love to Jesus."

In those Charismatic settings, there was also very little proclamation of the Gospel, and when I say that, I'm not talking about the preaching of topical sermons and altar calls. There was plenty of that, but there was no christocentric continuing in the doctrine of the apostles. Knowledge was subject to experience. Theology, in fact, was frowned upon. All we needed was "Jesus" and "the Bible." I am convinced, looking back, that I was not taught to worship the God of the Bible. Rather, I was encouraged to "go after" God in "charismatic worship," the primary means by which, I was taught, God reveals Himself to us. What really happened was, in those moments of charismatic expression, because there was no revelation of the true and living God as He is spoken of in Scripture (there was virtually no biblical exposition, just Bible verses to magically support the preacher's topic), I created my own imaginary god.

It seems the charismatic worship I partook of in my past was initiated by man. We would come, either stir ourselves up with music or immediately "enter in" with exuberant actions, and wait for the Holy Spirit to fall upon us. The important thing to notice is the order of events: We initiate, God responds. If God responded with an unusual outpouring, we would react accordingly. Sometimes we would skip the sermon altogether and sing and pray and come to the altar for a couple of hours, experiencing "renewal." If we didn't receive a "touch" from the Holy Spirit the next time, we might not have considered the "worship" to have been as good or anointed as the last time. In that case, God didn't show up, or we must have done something wrong, or someone in leadership was in sin, or we just weren't "worshiping" good enough. And if we had a whole season of dryness, we needed to have special prayer meetings for a revival.

To summarize, Counterfeit Charismatics have not received the Gospel and therefore have no grace to respond to God in worship. Instead, they clothe themselves with anything they think is "of the Spirit," and although they are exuberant in church and appear to be charismatic, they are dead and in desperate need of the Gospel. My heart breaks for them, and I pray they see Jesus for who He really is, so they can respond to Him in true charismatic worship.

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Holistic


Many ideas for blog posts are formed in my mind first thing in the morning, usually while showering. They say your brain is sharpest when you first wake up. Probably true, but more likely that I had been dreaming about reforming worship minutes earlier while sleeping, and so I brain-shower.

Well, this morning my shower thoughts were on my personal prayer life. I was thinking not only about how I can improve in this area, but how it is connected with Christ's prayer life and that of His body, the Church. I thought of how my private spiritual formation is part of the whole of the Church's, how Christ is the Mediator of all true spiritual formation and how the Spirit brings all of us, the Father's children, into one in Christ, and how much different this holistic understanding of spirituality is from a merely individualistic one.

And so as I was washing my hair in deep contemplation I got to thinking about how often I have used the term "holistic" when describing my desired form of worship, prayer, view of man, etc. I have probably used this adjective dozens of times here at Reform worship. But does anyone really know what it means? Do I know what it means? The word "holistic" is one of those postmodern hot and catchy words, like...postmodern, vintage, intentional, emerging, relevant, etc. Notice all of these words are adjectives, but what are they describing? You might say they are describing a desired trait of the Church, or church worship. And in keeping with the postmodern refusal to define anything, I'll leave it at that.

No, I'll give Wikipedia a chance to explain. Come on, Wiki friend, pull through for us:

Holism (from ὅλος holos, a Greek word meaning all, entire, total) is the idea that all the properties of a given system (physical, biological, chemical, social, economic, mental, linguistic, etc.) cannot be determined or explained by its component parts alone. Instead, the system as a whole determines in an important way how the parts behave.

The general principle of holism was concisely summarized by Aristotle in the Metaphysics: "The whole is more than the sum of its parts" (1045a10).

Reductionism is sometimes seen as the opposite of holism. Reductionism in science says that a complex system can be explained by reduction to its fundamental parts. For example, the processes of biology are reducible to chemistry and the laws of chemistry are explained by physics.

On the other hand, holism and reductionism can also be regarded as complementary viewpoints, in which case they both would be needed to get a proper account of a given system.

How are we Platonic, Enlightened, Modernist Westerners supposed to wrap our brains around such an Eastern, Aristotelian concept as holism? Truth be told, we in America are bred and taught Reductionism. It plays out in the rampant narcissism in our culture, the worship of the individual self-god (see Oprah), and ultimately the denial that anything incomprehensible can be true and real. And it naturally carries over into the American church, our theology and practice of worship. But God is beyond our understanding. God is whole and cannot be reduced. We can add up all that we know of God, all that He has revealed of Himself to us, and it won't even come close to the infinite totality of who He is. He is that He is, and I, like a good Easterner, exult in that mystery.

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Originals: "I Will Sing"

UPDATE: Here is the album version of i will sing that will be on the upcoming record titled "The Telling" coming spring 2012. Follow on Twitter or Facebook for release info!








Note: This is the recording of the first time "I Will Sing" was played in a live setting back in 2007. A few lyric tweaks have been made since that day, but you'll get the point.









I Will Sing
(c) 2007 Sean Carter

(chorus)
Lord, let my heart speak
Don’t just let my lips sing
Let the love shown through the cross
Bring a sound that’s glorious
Lord, let my mind think
Don’t just let my lips sing
Let the truth You’ve given us
Bring a sound that’s glorious
I will sing, I will sing

(verse 1)
Sing of the truth of Your infinite Word
That spoke to both wanderers and thieves
From a burning bush
And to those upon the hill
And by Spirit revealed to me

(verse 2)
Sing of the love of Your incarnate Word
That changed the hearts of prodigals and kings
How the Savior of the world
Died with two men on the hill
And gave eternal life to me

(bridge)
I will sing of how You saved me
I will sing of Your precious blood
I will sing of the truth You gave me
I will sing of the risen Son

Click here to download the chord chart.

Song Story

A couple years ago I attended an evening of worship with Charlie Hall. During the event Charlie shared how sometimes while he is singing his heart is disengaged. As a worship leader I know exactly what he means. Most, if not all, of us have been there. So Charlie had the words put up on the screen and asked everyone to stand in silence while the band played the song. Instead of singing the words with our mouths he asked that we sing them with our hearts.

This was a unique moment in worship, because although no one was singing you could sense that the hearts of the worshipers were engaged and their minds were thinking deeply about the words. As we stood there with our mouths shut, this prayer came into my mind: "Lord, let my heart speak, don't just let me lips sing. Let my mind think, don't just let my lips sing." I got out my cell phone and texted the phrase to myself so I'd remember. When Charlie led everyone to join in with our voices, there was a true sense of heartfelt worship.

Also around that time, I had been reading Desiring God and was impacted by a part of the book about worshiping in spirit and in truth. That quote was one of my first contributions to Reformworship.com, "Piper on Emotion and Truth."

As I sat down to work on the song I decided first to write a prayer, "God let this be a time of worship where my heart is responding to your grace (worshiping in spirit), an where my mind is responding to the the truth of your word (worshiping in truth), and that the songs we sing would not be "lip service" but a complete engagement of heart, mind, and voice."

Commentary

This song is usually used as the first song in a set, or a call to worship. I usually follow it up with a prayer that what we are about to do is respond to God's truth and love in song, engaging our hearts and minds.

To bring clarity to the verses, I should note that verse 1 refers to the story of how God is always speaking to His people: in the Old Testament to the children of Israel in all of their sin and wanderings, to Moses in the burning bush, and in the New Testament to the thief on the cross and to multitudes of men, women and children who witnessed Christ's death. Verse 2 is a reference to how the love of the Father calls out to prodigals, and how God, throughout history, has changed the hearts of kings, as well, and how he continues to speak His incarnate Word to us all through the cross and by his Spirit.

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Redefining "Charismatic" 2 1/2


As I have been mulling over these important things, I feel I should make a clarification. I have labeled the four types of people in our churches (in relation to charisma): 1) Uninformed Non-charismatics, 2) Counterfeit Charismatics, 3) Informed Non-charismatics, and 4) Genuine Charismatics. Before we go any further describing these groups, I'd like to change a term. "Informed" is much to weak of a word. It implies a simple data transaction. We are dealing here with the Gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation. The Gospel is not merely informational, but rather it is relational, powerful, sharp enough to cut the heart and regenerate a dead soul. To say one has been informed with the Gospel means little. Even the demons believe.

And although it doesn't change the actual groups of people we are talking about (labels are stupid), I think for our purposes it is more accurate to use the adjective "Regenerate." So from this point forward I am going to refer to the two non-charismatic groups as Unregenerate Non-charismatics and Regenerate Non-charismatics, where the former has not (yet) been made alive by the Spirit to hear the Gospel (although they may have been informed), and the latter has been made alive by the Spirit (although they do not manifest it). Everything already written about these groups still applies. They just have different names now.

Also, I should reiterate that when I use the term "charismatic" I am simply referring to the physical/emotional expressiveness of church people in worship, and particularly how our bodies are affected by what enters our souls. I am redefining "charismatic" because the word has been misused and abused and causes some church people to exclude others. We'll leave the issues of tongues, prophecy, etc., for another day.

I must say, I have been stretched tremendously thinking deeply about these things. This is not an easy subject to talk about. It has been good, though, at least for me. I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts as the series continues.

Click here to view all posts from this series on one page.

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Redefining "Charismatic" 2


I mentioned in the introduction to this series that we would be taking a look at two kinds of unregenerate churchgoers in this post: Uninformed Non-charismatics and Counterfeit Charismatics. However, after composing the first half of this post, I think it will be better to write one post for each of the four camps. So here I will deal with Uninformed Non-charismatics, and Counterfeit Charismatics next.

Let me say first that it is not my heart to poke fun at or set myself above these people in any way; that goes for all four camps, each of which I have at one point in my spiritual journey been a part. We have all, I think, at one time been a part of this camp, the Uninformed Non-charismatics. I write about this because it is important for us to be aware of the kinds of people we are leading in our churches. We are attempting to better understand their thoughts, intentions, and actions, so that ultimately we can minister the Gospel with them more effectively. It is our aim to be Spirit filled and led in our understanding and practices and lives of worship, and as it pertains to this, in our physical/emotional affections in church worship.

Uninformed Non-charismatics

Not everyone who attends church has received the grace of Jesus Christ. You can tell by looking at them, right? Of course not, but it's important for us to know they're there. Continuing with the "clothes" metaphor from the first post, Uninformed Non-charismatics are clothed in the sin that leads to death. They are like mummies, wrapped up corpses. They have not been set free in Christ Jesus by the law of the Spirit of life, but rather they are bound by the law of sin and death. The only things they see and hear and that make sense to them are worldly things. And although they are immobile at church, they can be very charismatic people in communities outside of the church, such as their families, their work, and their loyalty to the local sports team.

Uninformed Non-charismatics are uninformed in that they do not know the truth. They have never received the grace of the Gospel, the Spirit of Christ, into their souls. They have not (yet) awakened to receive and believe the Good News. It may be that the church they are attending does not preach the Gospel; the Gospel might not be the foundation of all their church says and does during Sunday worship. Their church might instead preach an inferior, contrary gospel, such as the prosperity gospel or the self-help message. On the other hand, they might attend a church that faithfully proclaims the Gospel in Word and Sacrament, but their hearts have simply not heard the message. If they haven't received it, they cannot respond to it.

If we are faithfully re-enacting the Gospel, if the Good News of Jesus Christ truly is the Cornerstone of our church, we should not be discouraged by the Uninformed Non-charismatics in our midst. Rather, we should be encouraged that God would bring these needy people to a place that is serious about the Gospel. These unsaved, unregenerate, lost people, are the ones that Jesus loves to spend time with and forgive. It is only a matter of relationship, time, and sensitive teaching of the truth before they believe and begin to worship God. If the church, however, is not preaching the Gospel, there is very little hope for uninformed people to come to know the truth. If that Gospel-less church happens to be charismatic, or outwardly expressive, in their worship, it wouldn't make sense for Uninformed Non-charismatics in attendance to act similarly. They are honest people. Why should they be charismatic in church if they are not filled with grace and truth?

In short, Uninformed Non-charismatics are dead in their trespasses and sins (as we all once were), they have not yet been made alive to Christ, and hence they are not charismatic, physically/emotionally affected, while they are in church.

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Whistle While You Worship 4


In the last WWYW post I said that "Worship While You Eat" would be the next topic of conversation, but the front page of today's South Bend Tribune compels me to take back my word and exhort you with something of pressing importance.

Worship While You Recycle

News productions here in Michiana are about fifteen years behind Chicago's when it comes to quality and technological capability, but especially content. It is nothing unusual for the main story to involve a missing dog or a county frog race for charity. The first thing the eyes of local residents fell upon when they picked up their SB Tribune this morning was:

Now, this hardily warrants a blog post exhorting us all to seriously participate in yet another form of everyday worship - recycling - but what Tribune Staff Writer Jeff Parrott says next is shocking. I warn you, what you are about to read is quite disturbing. I quiver at the thought of what might happen to the reputations of the persons represented here. May God have mercy on them for their unworshipful lifestyle and disregard for His creation.

Melissa Flanigan says she and her husband, Ryan, try to recycle, but admits sometimes she ends up tossing waste in the kitchen trash rather than carrying it out to their recycling cart in the garage.

"We definitely could recycle more," the Granger mother said. "We get lazy."

St. Joseph County officials, hoping to boost recycling, are eyeing a new program that would entice her with cash to take that extra step, such as placing a recycling container in her kitchen.

I am at a loss for words. What can I say? We've been exposed. The world now knows the truth about the non-worshiping Worship Pastor of River Valley Community Church.

But here is what the world does not know. My wife, Melissa A. Flanigan, Worship Arts Degree Recipient from Judson University, is the most amazing, beautiful, God fearing, Spirit led, Christ proclaiming, husband loving, daughter nurturing, unborn son gestating, home caring, everyday worshiping, prayerful and honest woman on the planet. What the world does not know is that Melissa tossed out a pop can yesterday while Lily was pulling Isabella's glasses off, while Ava was making it known and heard that she really wanted her formula that was heating in the microwave, and while Liam was strengthening his legs for future soccer tournaments, mistaking Melissa's bladder for a ball. And what the Truth Bend Tribune forgot to mention was that Ryan came home from work at five o'clock, kissed his wife hello, began straightening up for Home Group, opened up the kitchen trash bin to see if it needed to be emptied, saw that it was "half full," removed the pop can and placed it outside in the overflowing recycle bin, which is brimming because he hasn't brought it to the curb in over a month.

A couple weeks ago Melissa called the recycling company to see if they also provide garbage removal services, hoping that we could arrange for both our trash and our recyclables to be picked up on the same day. No dice. Coincidentally, Melissa received a random phone call from the newspaper yesterday, in which a kind gentleman asked her a few questions about recycling, and to which she honestly replied. To the Tribune's credit, they very accurately quoted Melissa in today's column. "That's pretty much word for word what I said," Melissa told me. I now realize how small town we are: We made the front page of the primary press with this world-rocking story.

On a secondary note, we do not need a cash incentive to be good stewards of God's creation. All we need is His mandate to cultivate the earth, to work at keeping and guarding it, which is our priestly, worshipful responsibility given to us in Christ Jesus and attainable by His grace.

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Redefining "Charismatic" 1


As I am composing this post (composting), sitting here on my couch Thanksgiving afternoon, my brother-in-law asks me what I am doing. "Redefining 'charismatic,'" I says, to which he responds, "What're you, Webster?"

No, I am not Webster, but I am charismatic. And no, I am not attempting to create and submit a new dictionary entry for the term "charismatic." All I can do is speak from the influence of Scripture and from personal experience: growing up in a charismatic Pentecostal church, attending a very charismatic Bible college, having several other various interactions with charismatic individuals; then swinging to nearly the opposite side of the pendulum on the border of the cessationist camp: fellowshipping among the people of practically (although not theologically) non-charismatic churches, attending a conservative seminary where charismatic expressions of worship (as commonly understood) were virtually non-existent and less than encouraged; and then on to where I am today, which is still leaning toward the non-charismatic side but closer to the center, as you will see. Of course, problem number one is thinking in diametric terms (right or wrong, left or right, black or white), when I truly believe the issue at hand can only be understood on a holistic plane, where a true worshiper is 100 percent the best of all sides.

And I will try to identify what is the best of all sides, but before we jump in head first, I should tell you that I have been working on this series for quite some time, as you can see from the opening sentence of this post. This is by no means an exhaustive look into the subject of the charismaton; it is not my goal to expound upon the different kinds and functions of biblical grace gifts - although it might be a worthy endeavor revisiting with and open mind current expressions of prophecy, tongues, etc., which I do think can occur within the boundaries of Scripture, but which are thrown out by many Christians, especially those in the upper echelon of the academic community. Rather, it is my aim to think about and discuss charismatic in terms of our emotional and physical manifestations of the Gospel at work in our lives. And even as I have benefited from meditating on these things, I hope you will do the same. This is an ongoing conversation, knowing full well that my understanding will continue to evolve as I grow closer to Jesus.

This series will consist of four posts, this Introduction being the first. In the next one I will talk about two kinds of church-goers: Counterfeit Charismatics and Uninformed Non-charismatics, both of whom I will hesitatingly label as unregenerate. In the third post I will talk about two other kinds of church-goers: Informed Non-charismatics and Genuine Charismatics, both of whom I will classify as regenerate. And in the last post I will get practical and talk about what needs to happen in order for us to grow into the kind of worshiping Church that I believe God intends for us to be.

Finally, it is helpful to know at the onset that I do believe the desired camp is the Genuine Charismatic one. I am working with the underlying assumption that when the powerful, living, active Word of God, the Gospel, the body and blood of Jesus Christ, gets into a man's soul, it must affect him physically and emotionally. It's what Jonathan Edwards in his Religious Affections calls the "miraculous unity" between the body and soul. Again, we often and ignorantly separate the body and soul, forgetting that it is through the senses that we both receive and respond to the most purely spiritual message the world has ever heard, the Gospel. Not to mention God is completely spirit and perfectly human in the glorious body of Jesus Christ even now. And we are created in His image.

I will be using a “clothes” metaphor throughout this series, arguing that:

  • Genuine Charismatics are stripped of the world’s clothes and at the hearing of the Gospel are robed in Christ’s righteousness, which must cause them to worship God truly and wholly emotionally, participating in the most genuine of charismatic experiences. It is my desire to be a Genuine Charismatic, unfortunately however, I would honestly have to say that I have one foot in the
  • Informed Non-charismatic camp, where, although I am intellectually informed of the truth of the Gospel, my worship does not reflect its life because I am covered in layers of the world’s clothes, which either keeps the life-changing power of the Gospel from getting into my soul, or keeps me from physically expressing it back to God and out to others. I believe that most regenerate church-goers (at least in America) fall into this camp with many fewer in the Genuine Charismatic camp, while the rest of the church-goers, the unregenerates, are either
  • Uninformed Non-charistmatics, meaning they don’t outwardly manifest an inward move of God because the Gospel has never gotten into their souls because they are still clothed with the sin that leads to death, or
  • Counterfeit Charismatics, meaning they are outwardly manifesting something other than an inward move of God because it is not the true and living God who is affecting their souls. In their nakedness, they are vulnerable to all kinds of elements, seeking God’s revelation in emotional experiences rather than His Word.

Buckle up! This is going to be a fun one.

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Mark Driscoll: Article and Book


Over at theresurgence.com, Mark Driscoll is posting a series on spiritual disciplines. His latest is on worship. It's a quick read, in which he defines several important terms, such as glory, sacrifice, false worship, idolatry, Trinitarian worship, Jesus the perfect worshiper, and unceasing worship. Here is what he says about unceasing worship:

Jesus’ life destroys any notion that worship is a sacred thing we do at a special time and special place. All of life is to be lived as ceaseless worship; cutting our grass and cleaning our dishes are as sacred and God-glorifying as raising our hands in church. Jesus Himself modeled this: He spent roughly 90 percent of His earthly life doing chores as a boy and working a carpentry job as a man. Paul sums up the life of unceasing worship best in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

And while we're on the subject of Mark Driscoll, his new book, Vintage Church, co-authored with Gerry Breshears, has just been released. I greatly respect Driscoll's ecclesiology as well as his wit in writing. This is sure to be a doozy. Here are the chapter titles:

1. What Is the Christian Life?
2. What Is a Christian Church?
3. Who Is Supposed to Lead a Church?
4. Why Is Preaching Important?
5. What Are Baptism and Communion?
6. How Can a Church Be Unified?
7. What Is Church Discipline?
8. How Is Love Expressed in a Church?
9. What Is a Missional Church?
10. What Is a Multi-Campus Church?
11. How Can a Church Utilize Technology?
12. How Could the Church Help Transform the World?
Appendix: Sample Church Membership Covenant

[HT: Justin Taylor]


Related Posts:
- Americanism 3: American Idolatry
- Driscoll on Worship Leaders
- Driscoll on Church Worship

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Originals: "Communion with the Trinity"

This begins a new series that you will hopefully find enjoyable and resourceful. You see, despite the fact that we throw all kinds of lofty ideas and abstract thoughts at you in this blog, Sean and I are both down-to-earth, practicing local church worship leaders (or music ministers, or song leaders, or whatever title I finally land on for the moment). And since we struggle along with many of you in our actual implementation of this crazy, theologically-informed worship stuff, we thought we'd bring it down to earth with this series.

So "Originals" will be occasional postings of our original songs, particularly ones that have gone over well in our congregations. Each post will contain an audio recording, lyrics, chord chart, song story, and a commentary on the song. Feel free to leave comments of your own.









Communion with the Trinity
(c) 2008 Ryan Flanigan

(verse)
I want to know You, God
In Your sweet embrace
And Your touch of grace from above
I want to know You, God
When you call my name
And Your Church the same in Your love

(pre-chorus)
We want to know, we want to know You, God
We want to know, we want to know You, God

(chorus)
Like the Spirit who in Virgin womb conceived the Father’s Son
Like the Savior knows the God of those the Spirit joins as one
And as You imagine us to be in communion with the Trinity
We want to know You, God, we want to know

(bridge)
A glorious awakening, a revelation Word
An intimate enlightening, a voice that we have heard
To know You, and to be known by You
To know You, and to be known by You

Click here to download the chord chart.

Story
I began writing this song two years ago, and I finished it a few months ago. Believe it or not, it was mainly the verse that was giving me trouble, and parts of the chorus. I knew I wanted the concept of the song to revolve around a desire to know God as intimately as the Persons of the Godhead know each other. I was discouraged at the outset of crafting this song because the few people who heard it said it was too wordy and "Why can't you just write something simple?" I wrestled with that for a while but really believed the concept of the chorus was too rich to throw out, especially the Trinitarian play on words. But it wasn't until I had the epiphanic reminder of the downward movement of Triune Love a few months ago that I "got" the words for the verse. The only way for me to know God, to love Him as He loves, is for Him to first know me, to love me. Hence, the incarnational imagery in the first half of the verse. But the already finished chorus also pointed to the unity of all believers (second line of the chorus). This desire for knowing God is not only personal/individual, it is corporate. Concerning the first line of the chorus, I went back and forth in my mind whether or not to use the present tense “conceives," but I settled on the Protestant view, past tense "conceived." Catholics can use the present tense if they want. One more thing, the original title of the song was "Reflection of the Trinity," which is what the third line of the chorus originally said. I changed it to "Communion with the Trinity" a couple months ago.

Commentary
This song is about my personal desire and the Church’s desire to know God more. The verse begins with the incarnation of the God who embraces me, who comes down from above in grace and touches me, who calls my name and knows me. But the verse doesn’t end in that personal relationship, it expands to an even greater level, God’s intimacy with the Church, the gathered community of His people. We, the Church, want to know God as He knows us.

The chorus then gives us a snippet of perfect communion, the communion of the Persons of the Godhead. We want to know (conceive in our minds and hearts) God as intimately as the Spirit knew Mary. The Father’s Son, Jesus, was conceived of the Virgin by the Spirit. Talk about intimate knowing! That’s how I (and the Church) want to know God. The second line is from the perspective of the Son. Jesus knew, and still knows, God the Father so perfectly that He said over and over again, “I and the Father are one.” This God is the same God who gave up His Son to death, and then, after rising and ascending, Jesus and His Dad teamed up and sent Their Spirit who now unites us God-people into Christ, who is in perfect communion with His Father. Now we are one with the Father through Christ. We want to know God in this way. But it doesn’t end there, indeed it will never end. We want to know (imagine) God just as he knew (imagined) us when They (the Godhead) created us in Their “image” and likeness. Imagine imagining God as He imagined us in His image! We want to know God like that. We want to let our imagination run wild with infinite creativity as creatures of the Creator.

The bridge then takes us into the knowledge that God is the one who pursued and pursues us, who embraces us, who wakes us up by the power of His Word, the special revelation of God, who enlightens our minds to see what is the hope of this calling, the call from His voice to us. We want to know Him, or rather, as the apostle Paul says, to be known by Him, because it is only when we walk in the knowledge that He knows us that we will not once again turn from Him and walk according to the weak and worthless elementary principles of this world. When we walk with Him we get to know Him better. We, His community, His body, walk with Him by His Spirit. Thank You, God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - for knowing us first, that we might know You.

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P.S. Epiphany


BCP Collect for The Epiphany of our Lord Jesus Christ, January 6:

O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the Peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Join us for an evening of Prayer and Song (P.S.) to launch into the season of Epiphany.

Sunday, January 11th, at 6:00 P.M.

River Valley Church
55855 Bittersweet Rd
Mishawaka, In 46545

Wikipedia says this about Epiphany:

Epiphany (Greek for "to manifest" or "to show"), is a Christian feast day which celebrates the "shining forth" or revelation of God in human form in the person of Jesus Christ. The Feast of the Epiphany falls on January 6. Western Christians commemorate the visitation of the Magi to the child Jesus on this day, i.e., his manifestation to the Gentiles. Eastern Christians commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, his manifestation as the Son of God to the world. It is also called Theophany ("manifestation of God"), especially by Eastern Christians. Epiphany falls on the last day of the Twelve Days of Christmas.

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A Prayer for Church Musicians and Artists


I was frolicking through The Book of Common Prayer this morning in search of anything relating to Epiphany. For the most part I was unsuccessful, but I did stumble across a prayer I have never seen before. So here is my prayer today for all of you church musicians and artists (from p. 819 of the BCP):

O God, whom saints and angels delight to worship in heaven: Be ever present with your servants who seek through art and music to perfect the praises offered by your people on earth; and grant to them even now glimpses of your beauty, and make them worthy at length to behold it unveiled for evermore; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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X-plicit: "Instead of a Show" by Jon Foreman of Switchfoot


On the widget below, click play, and then click "listen" and scroll over to the song "Instead of a Show." The whole album is phenomenal, but this song particularly resonates deep in my soul. The song comes from Amos 5:21-24:

"I hate, I despise your feasts,
and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
and the peace offerings of your fattened animals,
I will not look upon them.
Take away from me the noise of your songs;
to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

So let me ask, are we allowed to make such "X" rated prophesies today as Amos did then? Does Jon Foreman accurately identify a problem within the Church today?

Musically: Wonderful! Exquisite! State of the art; a tuba short of perfection, but a masterpiece indeed. I love the brass and the Dylanesque phrasing.


Nabbr.com

Instead of a Show
By: Jon Foreman

I hate all your show and pretense
The hypocrisy of your praise
The hypocrisy of your festivals
I hate all your show

Away with your noisy worship
Away with your noisy hymns
I stop up my ears when you're singing 'em
I hate all your show

Instead let there be a flood of justice
An endless procession of righteous living, living
Instead let there be a flood of justice
Instead of a show

Your eyes are closed when you're praying
You sing right along with the band
You shine up your shoes for services
But there's blood on your hands

You turned your back on the homeless
And the ones that don't fit in your plan
Quit playing religion games
There's blood on your hands

Ah! Let's argue this out
If your sins are blood red
Let's argue this out
You'll be white as the clouds
Let's argue this out
Quit fooling around

Give love to the ones who can't love at all
Give hope to the ones who got no hope at all
Stand up for the ones who can't stand at all

I hate all your show

[HT: Dan Wilt]

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Music & Lyrics: A Must Read Article in the Latest Issue of Worship Leader Magazine


Seriously, this is one of the best articles I have ever read in Worship Leader Magazine. In it Dr. Steve Guthrie, Belmont University, addresses the unhealthy and unbiblical divided anthropology (reason vs. emotion) that governs much of our Western thought right into our churches and practices of worship. This unnecessary tension between emphasizing music vs. emphasizing content oftentimes leads to stressful relationships between a church's teaching staff and arts staff. Guthrie's argument is consistent with our philosophy here at Reform worship., and his biblical support is both enriching and enlightening. I strongly encourage you to take a few minutes to read this article (click on the widget below).

Look Inside >>
January/February, 2009

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