After a two month hiatus, our church returned yesterday to our verse-by-verse study of the book of John. We picked up where we left off in chapter 16, where Jesus is teaching his disciples about the coming of the Holy Spirit, and about the work which the Spirit would do. The Spirit was certainly at work in our choir and in our congregation yesterday as we worshiped! We were led by Blake Pierce, a godly young man from our choir. I’ve enjoyed watching him grow as a worship leader through a lot of hard work, prayer, Bible study, practice, and, of course, music lessons at our church’s School of Performing Arts! Continue reading
All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your saints shall bless you! They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Charles Wesley was the composer of more than 6,000 hymns, but those which bore special significance to him have been among the most endearing and enduring. One of these was the hymn “And Can It Be”, written days after his conversion. Another, “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing”, was written in 1739 to mark the first anniversary of that conversion. Continue reading
Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!
Let them praise the name of the Lord!
For he commanded and they were created.
~ Psalm 148:3-5
Giovanni Francesco di Bernardone, more commonly known as St. Francis of Assisi, was born in 1181 in Assisi, Italy. He was the son of a wealthy cloth merchant, and grew up in a life of affluence. Still, he was known for his charity toward the poor, something for which his father scolded him.
Eventually, after a short career as a soldier (including a year which he spent as a captive), he returned home and began to voluntarily lead a life of poverty. He claimed to have seen a vision of Jesus Christ commanding him to restore the Church, and gave himself over to serving the poor, sick, and lonely. When his father became angry and tried to persuade him (even going so far as beating him) to give up his religious calling and take up the family trade, Francis renounced his father and his inheritance, and became a beggar himself. Continue reading
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
What Do We Do When We Don’t Like a Song Used in Worship?
As a worship leader, I have gotten used to the “worship wars” debate over song selection for worship services. I understand that people have different musical preferences, and that it can be genuinely difficult to worship in an unfamiliar genre. I have come to appreciate the grace that our congregation shows here at Stevens Street as we seek to introduce unfamiliar hymns and songs of many different styles during our services. Musical style is never a primary factor in how we choose the songs for our worship services, though it is a necessary consideration. Far more important is the substance of the song; we must ensure that we are singing true things to and about our God (John 4:24).
Sometimes, though, I’m the one who has to try to look past my own preferences. Continue reading