I sought the Lord

I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew
He moved my soul to seek Him, seeking me.
It was not I that found, O Savior true;
No, I was found of Thee.

Thou didst reach forth Thy hand and mine enfold;
I walked and sank not on the storm vexed sea.
’Twas not so much that I on Thee took hold,
As Thou, dear Lord, on me.

I find, I walk, I love, but oh, the whole
Of love is but my answer, Lord, to Thee!
For Thou were long beforehand with my soul,
Always Thou lovest me.

Words: Anonymous, circa 1880. This hymn’s first publication was apparently in Boston, Massachusetts, in Holy Songs, Carols and Sacred Ballads.
Music: Peace, George W. Chadwick, 1890. Chadwick wrote the tune specifically for this hymn.

Sufficiency

Betah El Adonai becall livekha. The Lord is Holy! I never should have doubted him, I never should have stood up to him and question him, how stupid I was. But I was just at the end of my rope, have you ever felt that before, your doing God’s work, you hear his voice and you follow his instructions but you just lose that heart of serving and that Joy you once had. Well I certainly did, I was God’s only trusted servant at the time, no one else really knew Him, I mean he came to me and spoke to me personally, I had a conversation with a burning bush, how many people can say that?! I’m leading my people to the Promised Land just because he told me to do it and I did it with all my heart and never gave up. But here I am, God told me to lead his people to the promised land and you know what he said. He told me he refused to go with us because his people are “stiffnecked” … he said he would send a angel down to be with us. I couldn’t believe the nerve he had to leave us because the people had some problems, you think I wanted to walk with them either? They were idolators, pagans and generally wicked people, just a while ago I went to talk to the Lord and I was only gone for a while but they turned around to Aaron and said that they wanted to be God’s because they didn’t know where I was. So they created a golden calf as an idol. Well I did everything because God told me to, but I just couldn’t understand why he couldn’t put up with us like I am. Why the God who created us and chose us couldn’t come with us? He said he would send an angel, argh, God was making me mad, I wanted him to come with us and he offers an angel, what good is an angel compared to God? Well I told God this, I said to him “Who and when are you going to send someone to help me, I cant do this by my own, I mean you know my name, you know exactly who I am and you have chosen me, but really God this Angel cannot take your place. Have I done something to make you mad? Have I not followed your ways and your EVERY command? Why do you do this to me then? If you are pleased with me then show me your ways! Teach me what you want and show me your glory Lord!” I was just so frustrated with him at the time, I thought all hope was lost so I gave God that ultimatum, looking back on the situation I think I must have had a little too much wine or something or at least I should have been looking out for some lightning bolts from the sky! But God did not get angry at me. He said “I will go with YOU and I will give you rest.” It came so softly and so gently, it was so soothing to my ears, I mean im tired and all I want to do these days is rest, take a break from work and put my feet up.. but it took me sometime before I looked at his words more carefully. I realized he said “I will go with YOU” so I turn back around and tell him that its not just me, that he has to be with all my people. “We aint moving until you come with us, promised land? What promised land? You Show us God.” The lord told me that he will do exactly what I asked of him, and he did. So I was thinking to myself what else will God do for me? What do I really want to see of God, and I think I’m no different then anyone here, so I asked God to “Show me your glory” That’s all I really wanted to see, Just to see God in all his might and power and love and spirit and that would make such a difference in my life… He told me to climb a mountain and all his goodness would pass by me but he told me I cant see his face, it would be too much for me to bear! Im thinking this is great, God doesn’t need to show anything to me, he’s GOD! Granted im a little scared of heights and God keeps on telling me to climb these mountains to do things, I don’t see why he cant come down for once, but that’s ok, and really that’s not the point. The point is that he’s doing it just for me, just because I want to know and feel it and because I asked for it. So I was climbing this mountain and I was just in awe of my surroundings, tree’s that I couldn’t even see the top of, rocks all around me, large rocks that could be considered mountains of their own. It was scarey walking up, I felt so small compared to everything around me, I felt that I could just get lost in here and no one would know. But I reached the top and the lord answered my prayers and came to me there. When I was on the mountain he took his hands and covered my face, he was so comforting, so firm, so loving. It was as if heaven itself surrounded me and protected me, then like a gentle wind he took back his hands and there in front of me was the Lord, … he was moving away, but that was the most awesome experience of my life, I felt all of his goodness and love and mercy, and I realized that all my thoughts have been so selfish so petty compared to the bigness of God! I looked around me and suddenly the mountain seemed so small, the rocks and trees all seemed be like grains of salt compared to Him. I realized that I am so small compared to God but I am loved like I am the only person in this land.

Goodnight, goodnight till then!

I had the privilege of seeing Matthew Smith (founding member of Indelible Grace) in concert last night.  One song he performed was a new song from his latest album; it’s called “Goodnight“.  It speaks powerfully about dying well as believers in the present age and looking forward to the kingdom to come in heaven with Christ. Watch Matthew Smith’s comments about this new song:

Matthew Smith talks about the song “Goodnight” from Matthew Smith on Vimeo.

Lyrics below:

I journey forth rejoicing
From this dark vale of tears,
To heavenly joy and freedom,
From earthly bonds and fears;
Where Christ our Lord shall gather
All His redeemed again,
His kingdom to inherit.
Goodnight, goodnight till then!

Why thus so sadly weeping,
Beloved ones of my heart?
The Lord is good and gracious,
Though now He bids us part.
Oft have we met in gladness.
And we shall meet again,
All sorrow left behind us.
Goodnight, goodnight till then!

I go to see His glory,
Whom we have loved below:
I go, the blessed angels,
The holy saints to know.
Our lovely ones departed,
I go to find again,
And wait for you to join us.
Goodnight, goodnight till then!

I hear the Saviour calling,
The joyful hour has come:
The angel guards are ready
To guide me to our home,
Where Christ our Lord shall gather
All His redeemed again,
His kingdom to inherit.
I journey forth rejoicing
From this dark vale of tears,
To heavenly joy and freedom,
From earthly bonds and fears;
Where Christ our Lord shall gather
All His redeemed again,
His kingdom to inherit.
Goodnight, goodnight till then!

Why thus so sadly weeping,
Beloved ones of my heart?
The Lord is good and gracious,
Though now He bids us part.
Oft have we met in gladness.
And we shall meet again,
All sorrow left behind us.
Goodnight, goodnight till then!

I go to see His glory,
Whom we have loved below:
I go, the blessed angels,
The holy saints to know.
Our lovely ones departed,
I go to find again,
And wait for you to join us.
Goodnight, goodnight till then!

I hear the Saviour calling,
The joyful hour has come:
The angel guards are ready
To guide me to our home,
Where Christ our Lord shall gather
All His redeemed again,
His kingdom to inherit.
Goodnight, goodnight till then!

Written by Matthew S. Smith.
©2010 Detuned Radio Music
Based in part on a hymn text by an unknown German writer, translated by Jane Borthwick.

Revelation and Response

Revelation and Response

Worship is always a response to a revelation. And as someone involved in leading worship, I find these two words “revelation” and “response” very helpful to delve into. What sort of revelation of God have we received? What sort of response does He require or delight in? What kind of revelation do the songs we write, or choose, give to the people who sing them? Is there enough of God in the songs to awaken even tired, discouraged hearts to a meaningful response?

Pondering these two words is a definitely a helpful way to think about the way we worship. But the more I look at them, the more I realise I´ve paid more attention to one of them than the other. Too often, I approach a worship time much more mindful of the “response” element than of the “revelation” side of things. And I wonder if that isn´t the case for many other lead worshippers too.

I´ve been in worship times where it´s obvious the worship leader is consumed, above all else, with getting a “response”. Not much is implied about the integrity and heart of the offerings. Instead comes a barrage of forceful encouragements to “shout/clap/dance” and anything else you can think of. Instead of focussing on bringing a true and meaningful overflow of the heart, it seems instead that we´re involved in some sort of spiritual disco competition, with a prize for the wildest participant. But wait. Am I so very different when I lead worship? Personally I don´t go for too much vocal instruction, but what´s going on inside my head when I lead?

Haven´t I led in meetings when, after every celebration song, my mind gets out the “clap-o-meter” to check if we´re on course? (After all, if people clap at the end of each up-tempo song, that means we´re in for a good night, doesn´t it?!) Don´t I sometimes find myself sub-consciously scanning the congregational horizon for any sign of life? Some outstretched hands, perhaps? (That definitely means “it´s working”!) Next, as we move into intimate reverence don´t I sometimes squint through my half-closed eyes to see what other responses are happening – hoping to see at least one person on their knees?

Of course I´m exaggerating in all of these examples, but I hope my point is clear. Too often when I lead worship I´m driven by getting a good response out of the people. I want to see results. Now, all of these things are potentially good things – dancing, lifting up holy hands, clapping, and kneeling. But rather than being so desperate to see these things happen (or, God forbid, even trying to make them happen) I should be far more interested with what lies behind these responses (or the lack of them.) It´s a subtle distinction, but an important one for the mindset of any lead worshipper.

And that takes us right back to the “revelation” side of things. Before we get consumed with how people are responding, it´s good to be mindful of what they´re responding to. As worship leaders and songwriters, we need to pay more attention to the reasons for God´s worth in our writing and leading. What aspects of His wonders and splendour are we presenting for people to get their hearts into? How are we reminding hearts, minds and souls of the merciful acts that have been done for them, and the amazing grace that has been won for them? Now, of course, this isn´t just our responsibility – everyone involved in the service plays a part. But we must take our part of the role seriously. Instead of always trying to work people up (however subtly) to some sort of response, let´s take a different approach. Let us bring songs so full of our glorious Jesus that they ignite a fresh fire and a heart-filled response from those who sing them. If we can somehow help usher people into a fresh revelation of Jesus during our worship times, I´m convinced the response will take care of itself. We will not be able to stand in the way of a passionate room of dancing, shouting, bowing, adoring lovers of God.

William Temple once wrote,
“Worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God,
To feed the mind with the truth of God,
To purge the imagination by the beauty of God,
To devote the will to the purpose of God.”

Notice how much of his definition of worship is centred around “revelation”. Here´s a man that knew that if we could somehow get people involved in the holiness, truth and beauty of God, it would result in the devotion of the will to the purpose of God. Our whole lives poured out in worship. And that, in the end, is the ultimate response of any true worshipper.

Written by Matt Redman.

An article by Matt Redman which is published in “The Heart of Worship Files”, Kingsway Communications Ltd, 2003.

How Important is Musical Style?

The style of music you use on Sunday mornings is incredibly unimportant.

That may seem like an odd way to begin a chapter on “blended worship,” but it may be the most important thing we say on the topic of worship. You may be, or your church may employ, a “worship leader,” someone who plans, facilitates, and leads the corporate gatherings of your church. You may be accustomed to calling that time each week a “worship service.” You may even think of particular parts of your weekly service (such as the singing) as being “worship,” as opposed to other things that happen during that time (such as preaching or taking up an offering). Yet while none of those uses of the word are, strictly speaking, incorrect, neither do they even come close to the heart of what the Bible means by worship. According to the Bible, worship is not fundamentally what we do on Sunday mornings when we gather with other Christians. It certainly includes that, but it is much more. Worship is our service to God. It is acting and thinking and speaking as if He really is who He says He is and we are really who He says we are. Worship is the creature (you and me) serving the Creator (God).

This book is specifically concerned with one of the ways we most frequently talk about worship–our times together in church, and specifically the style that characterizes that gathering. This is a great thing to talk about, and obviously important, given the amount of conflict this topic generates in many local churches. However, we want to be clear at the outset that this is not the heart of what the Bible means by worship. Furthermore, if worship does not refer merely to our corporate times together, it MOST certainly does not mean merely our music.

–Michael Lawrence and Mark Dever.  From “Blended Worship,” chapter 7 in Perspectives on Christian Worship: Five Views. Edited by J. Matthew Pinson; other contributors are Timothy C. J. Quill, Dan Wilt, Ligon Duncan, and Dan Kimball. Nashville: B&W Academic, 2009, p. 218-19.

When my days are filled with searching

When my soul has cried its tears
And my heart begins to faint
Will You draw near
Will You meet with me

When my days are filled with longing
And my spirit groans and waits
Will You draw near
Will You meet with me

I’m calling and waiting
Your presence Lord is life to me

Breathe on me now as I bow down
I’m desperate Lord for more of You
Come satisfy until I
Am even more in need of You

When my dreams have been forgotten
And my hope begins to fade
Will You draw near
Will You meet with me

When my days are filled with searching
And my strength has given way
Will You draw near
Will You meet with me

“Satisfy” by Kathryn Scott