Worship Review 4.26.15 – Lord of the Storm

This weekend we sang:

  • “Rejoice” by Dustin Kensure
  • “Behold Our God” by Sovereign Grace Music
  • “Man of Sorrows” by David Potter
  • “Grace Alone” by The Modern Post

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.


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Normally, I’d like to write something about how our songs fit together and how they played with the sermon in a harmonious way. But, not today.


Yesterday was a special service, due to circumstances beyond our control – ah, the life of the renter – we had a lovely outdoor service.

I never seriously considered rain (I’m certain Ryan did, he tends to thinks these things through) because we live in Southern California and we’re currently exeperiencing a severe drought. And when the sun shines constantly you begin to forget it. But, lo and behold, we had Weather this weekend.

In Southern California just the threat of rain feels apocalyptic. All weekend the clouds towered above the earth. As they grew larger and darker they loomed threateningly. They swelled beyond capacity with rain and burst. Some time on Saturday night I texted Ryan: “What’s our Plan B?”

On that day, when evening had come, he [Jesus] said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Mark 4.35-38 ESV

“Do you not care that we are perishing?” When I’m feeling bruised and tired, when the candle has been thoroughly burned through on both ends, when I feel like giving up it’s beyond tempting to demand of God, “Do you not care that we are perishing?”

It’s not tempting, it’s reality. I assume a defiant posture shaking my fists at the heavens. I begin to believe God is up there without a care in the world and we’re down here stuggling to no end. “Why have you forgotten me?” I cry, joining the Psalmist:

Deep calls to deep
as the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
have gone over me.
By day the LORD commands his
steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God, my rock:
“Why have you forgotten me?”
Psalm 42.7-9a ESV

Is God sleeping below deck and the boat filling with water? Does He not realize? Is He not paying attention? Does God not care?

We’re drowning down here.

And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Mark 4.39-41 ESV

The power and glory of God is a terrible and awful thing to behold and should cause us to tremble. AW Tozer writes in his book The Knowledge of the Holy that “…what comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” The question that we all must answer: “Who is this man?”

Jesus Christ is the unchanging Lord of the Storm. He always has been, he is currently, and will always be. He is the Lord of the Storm when we the skies grow so dark we can no longer see and we forget. He commands the wind, he commands the rain, at his voice there is calm.

When I fell asleep Saturday night I fully expected to wake to dark skies, I fully believed that I would spend the majority of the morning scrambling to figure out how our church would gather to worship. I assumed that it would be my responsibility to manage the storm.

But I peered out the window when I woke and the sun was beginning to poke his head out over the hills in the east. The sky was painted with reds, yellows, and graciously with bright blues. A beautiful day was chasing me to church.

Before we gathered to remember the gospel and let the message of Christ dwell among us richly by the singing of songs the Holy Spirit was reminding me that it is Jesus, not me, who is Lord of the Storm. That it is Jesus who works all things together for the good of those who love God.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.
Psalm 42.11 ESV
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Worship Review 4.26.15 – Lord of the Storm

Worship Review 4.12.15

So we shook things up yesterday. We have a pretty set order for what we do at New Song Inland Hills and yesterday that was completely tossed out the window. So let’s chat about why did what we did. And here are the songs to listen to while we chat about it:

God is Great (Hillsong United) – This tune is a a nice bombastic opening to a service. It’s loud, fast, energetic. It lifts our eyes from our own glory to God’s glory and the glory of His name alone. By opening and closing the service we boldy declare that what matters is not our hard work and efforts but His and His alone.

Behold Our God (Sovereign Grace Music) – Last week I quoted 2 Corinthians 3.18 about how as we behold the Lord we’ll be transformed into His image. Last night I was in a Bible study with two of my favorite students at Inland Hills and we were having a great conversation on the John 1.1-34. I told them that the whole point of the Bible, that the center piece of scripture, all of what we believe and all that we should do is summed up in half of a one verse:

Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! John 1.29b ESV

Their translations each had that opening verb as “Look!” which feels lame and half-hearted compared to “Behold!” And I asked the students why I thought the “Look!” wasn’t a strong enough verb, even with the exclamation mark. And one of them said that the word “behold” communicates this:

Stop! Drop everything you’re doing and pay attention!

We don’t get better from our sin-sickness by managing ourselves well. The root of sin is self-thoughtfulness. St. Augustine and Martin Luther had this wonderful Latin phrase, Incurvatus in se, meaing that we are curved in on our selves. Sin is inherent naval gazing. But, when the Spirit lifts our heads and we behold the glory God the light of Christ washes out the darkness in our hearts.

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Communion – Once a month we remember the mystery of Christ made man, dying our death, rising again, and coming back to reign by receiving communion. One of the mind blowing aspects of Christianity is it’s specificity. Jesus entered into our world at a specific moment, in a specific place. We can walk the same streets as Christ, and the same dust that coated his feet coat ours. Communion is a time when we remember that the omnipresent, omniscienct, immaterial, sovereign Lord of the universe became material. Bread and wine are very real. When we take communion all of our sesnses are engaged with the material reality of our God. He is a God intimately involved in our communal and personal history, our present tense, and in our future histories.

We’ve begun taking communinion differently at Inland Hills, instead of passively receiving communion and individually contemplating in our seats we stand and join together at the table. Psalm 23.5 say that the Lord prepares a table for us before our enemies. The communion table is where God has a set a table for His enemies, and we’re all invited to that banquet. At the table there is no difference between rich and poor, liberal and conservative, young and old, sick or well, male or female, sinner or saint. All of our dichtomities are false at the table. While we wait in line to receive the elements we stand together as one, and for at least a moment, it doesn’t matter who goes first.

There Is A Fountain (William Cowper; arranged by Norton Hall Band) – I love this hymn for so many reasons. But in our tradition it’s a bit macabre out of context, so I’m happy to have introduced it during communion as we begin to understand what is meant by blood.

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(Except filled with blood)

This song takes us from the moment of salvation to when our feeble bodies fail and we breath our last. In our short time on planet Earth we have a great hope of life everlasting because of Christ’s blood shed on the cross. I love the fifth verse of this song, Cowper’s lyrics when sung sound like what they are. It’s hard to sing “lisping, stammering” without lisping and stammering.

When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave
Then in a nobler, sweeter song I’ll sing thy power to save

The song leaves us silent in the grave, which is the reality we all face. But again, we have a great hope…

Christ Is Risen (Matt Maher) – Christ is risen from the dead and death has been defeated. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the grave dwells in us.

The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 1 Corinthians 15.26

Our flesh will fail, but God will not. And He has proven Himself trustworthy by going before us in death and defeating it on the third day. How can we keep from worshipping:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the ressurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishablem, undefiled, and unfading, kept in Heaven for you. 1 Peter 1.3-4a

Cornerstone (Hillsong United) – When we behold the glory of God we realize our wretchedness and have cause to tremble. And this is a universal fear. But at the table God makes a way for all, there we are washed in the fountain of God’s love, and we have a great hope that we will rise with Christ. That hope is not built on how good we seem, how hard we try, how rich we are, who we voted for, what church we attended that hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. In our darkest moments of sin and heartbreak God is all the more trustworthy because we know He’s strong to save and never changes. Death was not the end of God and it’s not the end of us, it is only the beginning. And because of Christ’s blood and righteousness we can boldly go before the throne of God and be declared “faultless.”

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4.16 ESV

Worship Review 4.12.15