This weekend we sang:
- “Only King Forever” by Elevation Worship
- “Center” by Charlie Hall
- “Almighty” by Chris Tomlin
- “How Great is Our God” by Chris Tomlin
Below is a playlist of the four songs we sang this week. Each song is written and produced by independant artists and guys who work for the local church. If these are songs you enjoy please consider purchasing them so that these artist will continue to write great songs for God’s children to sing.
I introduced this new tune this week and we sang the heck out of it. Let me draw back the curtain and show a little bit why I choose this song.
Our God, a firm foundation
Our rock, the only solid ground
As nations rise and fall
Kingdoms once strong now shaken
Be we trust forever in your name
The name of Jesus
The tricky thing about God is that He’s invisible. The Spirit moves through shrugs, whispers, impressions. Signs and wonders are not normative. So due to an assumed lack of objective proof we begin to trust in what can be engaged with our senses. We put all of our trust in the natural world’s obsession with power, position, self-defense, laws, institutions. We build our own kingdoms of work, money, relationships, food, comfort. But the thing about God is that He is above all of that. He transcends all of our imaginary play toys.
In CS Lewis’ “The Silver Chair” the protagonists of the story (Eustace, Jill, Puddlegum, and Prince Rilian) are trapped in a spell underneath the world, and the Lady of the Green Kirtle is trying to convince them that all they can experience with their senses is all that is real, that their story of the above world is a fairy tale. But in the midst of their arguing with the witch Puddlegum has a moment of philisophical clarity.
Suppose we have only dreamed all those things – trees, grass, sun, moon, stars, and Aslan himself. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. When you think of it, that’s a funny thing. We’re just babies making up a game. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play world.
God is no slave to our senses and He is far better than the dark pits of the kingdoms we build. He is kind though. He could’ve deserved and demanded our worship on the sole basis of His transcendant character but He chose to reveal Himself:
The Son is the image of the invisble God, the firstborn over all creation. Colossians 1.15
We can objectively see, know, and identify the Son through the reading of scripture; as my favorite Bible paraphrase says: “Every story whispers his name…” In Jesus Christ we have a firm foundation on which to stand. We’re not stuck with abstract religious guesswork and new age spiritual anecdotes. When all around us shakes and falters we stand on the firm, objective name of Jesus.
Verse two of “Only King Forever” continues:
Unmatched in all your wisdom
In love and justice you will reign
Every knee will bow
We bring our expectations
Our hope is anchored in your name
The name of Jesus
We trust the name of Jesus
That’s a lot to unpack I want to hone in on one line: “We bring our expectations”
I have a temptation to judge God and His movement based primarily on my subjective emotional experience of Him. I have expectations that He will heal and provide, to affirm and build up, to strengthen and encourage when I show up and tell Him to. Every heard the phrase “pray expectantly?”
It’s tempting to show up in worship hoping to have our aesthetic desires met: the music moved me, the sermon uplifted me, I put a tenner in the offering so I’m going to get my $20 reward later this week. But, that’s just not God’s agenda. Church is not meant to be where we come to be entertained by Jesus, our trick pony.
Our expectations are crucified with Christ, they bleed out where the nails go in. We expect a conguering king and we get a baby; we expect a tenured professor and get a traveling, homeless rabbi; we expect him to overthrow our Rome and he turns over the tables in the temples of our hearts; we expect him to come over for dinner and he tells us the the bread’s his flesh, and the wine his blood.
The name of Jesus is enough. In the midst of the storms of this life we can anchor our hope, not in our emotional experience, but on the trusty and true name of Jesus Christ.
PS: Even if you’re not a kiddo this is a great primer on the Bible:
“The Jesus Story Book Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name” by Sally Lloyd-Jones