Tag Archive for worship

The Gospel Set To Music

daniel renstrom     There is an old Latin phrase that goes, “Degustibus non est disputandum,” which means, “You can’t argue taste”. As true as that may be I am willing to argue that much of what passes for worship music today is very banal. Not so with my friend Daniel Renstrom (pictured left).

Daniel is the Director of College Ministry and worship leader at my home church Providence Baptist. Daniel has to be one of the most refreshingly understated worship singer/songwriters in the business. He is theologically sound in his lyrical expression in a way that conveys the warmth and richness of the gospel message. His use of the English language to convey these deep truths is simplicity itself. I highly urge you if you have never taken a look at Daniel’s repertoire to wisely invest the time to do so. The worship experience that inevitable will result will make your affections glow with gospel fervor.

For your listening pleasure, I include a link to the following song that he wrote to accompany the Treasuring Christ children’s Sunday School Curriculum


Daniel’s music can be found on itunes at the following address: http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/daniel-renstrom/id272599021

Who Needs Christmas?

This Article In It’s Entirety Is Re-Posted From Matt Redmond’s Blog

Christmas Is for Those Who Hate It Most

By: Matt B. Redmond

We are by now accustomed to hearing about how Christmas is difficult for many people. The story of Scrooge and his—ehem—problems with this season is no longer anecdotal. It is now par for the course. Maybe it always has been. Maybe the joy of the season has always been a thorn in the side of those who can scarcely imagine joy.

Not too long ago, I heard from someone about how difficult Christmas would be because of some heartbreak in their family. There was utter hopelessness and devastation. Christmas would be impossible to enjoy because of the freshness of this pain. It’s been a story very hard to forget.

I get it. I mean, it makes sense on the level of Christmas being a time in which there is a lot of heavily concentrated family time. The holidays can be tense in even the best of circumstances. Maneuvering through the landmines of various personalities can be hard even if there is no cancer, divorce or empty seat at the table. What makes it the most wonderful time of the year is also what makes it the most brutal time of the year. My own family has not been immune to this phenomenon.

But allow me to push back against this idea a little. Gently. I think we have it all backwards. We have it sunk deep into our collective cultural consciousness that Christmas is for the happy people. You know, those with idyllic family situations enjoyed around stocking-strewn hearth dreams. Christmas is for healthy people who laugh easily and at all the right times, right? The successful and the beautiful, who live in suburban bliss, can easily enjoy the holidays. They have not gotten lost on the way because of the GPS they got last year. They are beaming after watching a Christmas classic curled up on the couch as a family in front of their ginormous flat-screen. We live and act as if this is who should be enjoying Christmas.

But this is backwards. Christmas—the great story of the incarnation of the Rescuer—is for everyone, especially those who need a rescue. Jesus was born as a baby to know the pain and sympathize with our weaknesses. Jesus was made to be like us so that in his resurrection we can be made like him; free from the fear of death and the pain of loss. Jesus’ first recorded worshipers were not of the beautiful class. They were poor, ugly shepherds, beat down by life and labor. They had been looked down on over many a nose.

Jesus came for those who look in the mirror and see ugliness. Jesus came for daughters whose fathers never told them they were beautiful. Christmas is for those who go to “wing night” alone. Christmas is for those whose lives have been wrecked by cancer, and the thought of another Christmas seems like an impossible dream. Christmas is for those who would be nothing but lonely if not for social media. Christmas is for those whose marriages have careened against the retaining wall and are threatening to flip over the edge. Christmas is for the son whose father keeps giving him hunting gear when he wants art materials. Christmas is for smokers who cannot quit even in the face of a death sentence. Christmas is for prostitutes, adulterers, and porn stars who long for love in every wrong place. Christmas is for college students who are sitting in the midst of the family and already cannot wait to get out for another drink. Christmas is for those who traffic in failed dreams. Christmas is for those who have squandered the family name and fortune—they want “home” but cannot imagine a gracious reception. Christmas is for parents watching their children’s marriage fall into disarray.

Christmas is really about the gospel of grace for sinners. Because of all that Christ has done on the cross, the manger becomes the most hopeful place in a universe darkened with hopelessness. In the irony of all ironies, Christmas is for those who will find it the hardest to enjoy. It really is for those who hate it most.

Merry Christmas from Clapham Community!

Making Wise Christmas Music Choices

Choosing Genuine Christmas Worship Not Sentimentality

Call me a grinch but I am really trying to take a healthier view of the holiday season. Why get hyped -up on sentimentality, over-eating, over-spending, gift-giving, etc. when there is profound heart satisfying truth to be found in the whole story of redemption in the gospel?

Below is an article from the Biblical Worship blog that gives practical tips on how to have gospel focused Christmas worship. Enjoy.

Selecting Christmas Songs for Worship

Years ago I served with a dear pastor who enjoyed the Christmas season, but was quite ready for it to be over after a couple of weeks. He thought that people are so distracted by the trappings of the holiday season that they are not spiritually focused and not moving forward in their Christian walk. In our worship planning we would agree to only use Christmas music on certain Sundays which usually ended up being the first 3 Sundays of December – not before or after. He believed that much of the Christmas music used in worship only led to sentimental reflections of Christmas seasons gone by with little real focus on Christ.

We must admit much of what happens at Christmas often has little to do with the real reason for the celebration – Jesus. How can a worship leader select music for worship during this season that helps to keep the proper perspective on Christmas? Here are some suggestions:

1. Avoid songs that over sentimentalize the season such as songs that focus on the “most wonderful time of the year.” Are we in love with the season or with Christ?

2. Avoid songs that are strictly secular in their association. Some churches choose to do several of these type songs at the beginning of their musicals at Christmas to either “entertain” or “attract non-believers.” I believe these type songs have no place in a worship service especially when it is intended to be evangelistic. What’s evangelistic about singing secular songs? I think sometimes we can be so entertainment focused that we are in danger of entertaining them to hell. Point your people to Christ.

3. Choose songs that correctly describe the Christmas story according to Scripture. Many of our songs really do not portray the story very well. Look for songs that are clear in communicating the story.

4. Choose songs that tell the whole Gospel Story– Jesus birth, his ministry, his death on a cross and his resurrection. The problem with many Christmas songs is that they leave Jesus in the manger. Christians and non-Christians need to hear the whole Gospel at Christmas. Look for songs that go beyond the manger. He came to be our Savior.

5. Choose Christmas songs that your congregation can sing. Many songs of this season (old and new) are difficult to sing in a congregational setting. Consider the key of the song and the rhythmic structure.

Do all Christmas songs have to fit every criteria listed above? No, but a good group of your songs should. Let’s help our people keep Christ in their Christmas season by using great songs that lead us to the Messiah – Our Savior and Lord.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir to God.

Galatians 4:4-7 (ESV)

HT: Tim Challies

I Can Worship God Without Going To Church, Right?

It is impossible to follow Jesus and not love the church. This must be clearly understood if you desire to obey the Lord and have a right relationship with Him. There is no place for rubbish such as, “I love Jesus, I just don’t love the church.” If there is any doubt about this, consider what Jesus said about the church:

“He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

– Matthew 16:15-18

Jesus made a a declaration about faith and the church. He said that on the rock of faith in Himself, that His plan was to build His church and that no enemy of it would be successful in bringing it down. Understand Jesus is not talking about a church built on power, or money, or social concern. He is talking about the true church that is built on faith and on the gospel. This church will succeed and its enemies will fail. You can make excuses about other kinds of churches, but this church, wherever you find it, needs no excuse. It is not made up of perfect people but it faithfully proclaims a perfect savior. Its walk, no matter how flawed, never overshadows but rather complements its witness. This kind of church is the church that Jesus loves.

This also raises another point. How can you truly love Jesus, but not love what He loves? Jesus loves the church. The scriptures make this abundantly clear:

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
– Ephesians 5:25-27

Jesus loved the church so much, that He gave his life for it setting forever an example for how husbands should love their wives. If Jesus loves the true church this much, we should give it the attendance, prayer, and financial support we would give Jesus were He here among us. In fact, the scripture teach us that when the true church gathers, that Jesus indeed dwells among us:

“For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”
– Ephesians 2:18-22

Still think you can skip out on church and still worship God? If this doesn’t clear up the matter for you, nothing will:

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
– Hebrews 10:24-25

When we neglect to meet together as the true church that is built on Christ and that teaches the gospel word in the gospel community, we are defrauding our selves and God. We need one another. We are flawed and we need to come together to encourage one another and find healing for our sin. This means not just meeting to hear God’s word preached but meeting to live our lives among one another. You cant do this by waving at each other from across a sanctuary or chatting for a few minutes after the service in the vestibule. It means getting into each others lives. Sure it means being vulnerable and at times getting messy but there is no other way.

If you are not part of a gospel centered community of believers, you know what you need to do. Here are a list of suggestions from Pyromaniacs blogger Dan Phillips:

  1. Pray, committing yourself to attending a church; and attend somewhere while you look.
  2. Yellow pages. (But what to look for?)
  3. Ads in Saturday newspapers.
  4. Map out all the schools in the area, and drive around between 9:45-11:15am taking down names to follow up later.
  5. Bulletin-board in local Bible bookstore.
  6. Ask around, any Christians you can find.
  7. Denominational web sites (— like GARBC, PCA, Reformed Baptists)
  8. Nine Marks church search site.
  9. Founders-friendly churches.
  10. Gospel-centered churches (from The Gospel Coalition; thanks to Justin Taylor for the reminder).
  11. FIRE churches.
  12. TMS grads.
  13. BibleBB directory.
  14. Google maps, go to your area, enter church
  15. Ask pastor friends in other areas if they know anyone in your area.
  16. Call Seventh Day Adventist churches and Jewish synagogues, and ask if any church is renting their facility on Sunday.
  17. Check out community centers and YMCAs to see if any are rented by a church on Sunday

I suggest you give them a try, and soon. You don’t know what you’re missing.

HT: Justin Taylor