Worship Review 8.16.15 – Galatians One and The Story of Everything

Sunday was quite the day! Alongside leading worship at Inland Hills I also had the pleasure of preaching at our College/Young Adult Ministry – Elevate. Normally after worship I like to write a review on a theme from the morning, and (this has happened only once, but will happen at least twice more this year – maybe more) after preaching I like to give a few extra resources that coincide with the message. This week I’ll do both, and it’ll be all over the map.

1. At NSIH we sang:

  • “Indescribable” by Chris Tomlin
  • “Man of Sorrows” by David Potter
  • “Forgiven Forever” by Glenn Packiam
  • “The Mighty Hand of God” by Citizens & Saints
  • …and we were going to sing but didn’t, “Glory is Yours” by Elevation Worship.

All but one of these tunes were written by artists that serve in the local church, and the one that wasn’t is writing songs that will be remembered in history alongside Charles Wesely, Isaac Watts, The Gaithers, and more. So, attached is a Spotify playlist but please, please, please purchase these songs and albums so they’ll all continue making great music.

2. After I finishing my study of a particular scripture for preaching I make a playlist that serves as background music and inspiration while I write out my manuscript. For this past Sunday I created a playlist with several songs based on Psalm 23 and a tune for every single pop culture reference I wrote into the manuscript and there were a lot considering that I was talking about everything. It is one of the most fun and the weirdest playlists I’ve ever made. Enjoy!

3. At NSIH we began our sermon series on the book of Galatians which just so happens to be one of my all time favorite books of the Bible. Or, at least it is this year. In the spring, when kings go to war, I had the serendipitous pleasure of studying Galatians (which is great because in a few weeks I’m preaching) and in my study I read Martin Luther’s Commentary on Glatatians. Which had a huge influence on me, check out my post “The Glorious “And Yet!” of God” to see how. Luther’s Commentary is surprisingly accessable considering it was written in 15th Century Germany by a theological titan. Anyways, I found an abridged version by a Lutheran Middle School ministry from Michigan named RJ Grunewald that is available as a free PDF, a $2.99 Kindle e-Book, or a print edition for $14.99.

4. Speaking of abridged versions, earlier this week I wrote an abridged version of my sermon and posted it to the blog. I think it is well worth the read if you’ve not already read it, “The Story of Everything.” Unfortunately, the full sermon was not recorded so I can’t share that. If your appetite is whetted or your curiosity piqued feel free to email me at: tommy.welty@gmail.com and I’ll happily email you the PDF of my manuscript and you can take the approximately 36 minutes it would take to read that. Or, you could read the abridged blog.

5. So, it probably comes as no surprise but I’m particularly interested in writing. My studying creative writing greatly influenced the sermon at Elevate and there’s a handful of books that have meant a lot to me at different times as a writer. None of these are Christian books, or, even remotely Christian, but each is worth reading if you’re curious about the process.

6. Towards the end of my sermon, about the last ten minutes or so, I attempted to teach the entirety of the Bible’s narrative. I did alright, but in that short of time it is really actually impossible to do – so it was mostly just super general themes and events. I missed a lot. I missed most things, but “A+” for effort. Anyways, I stumbled upon this great resource Monday morning after preaching, “The Bible Project.” After checking it out I could not more fully recommend it. They are creating animated videos as overviews to each book of the Bible and different systemic themes of the scriptures. Here’s their intro to “Leviticus” and to “Holiness.”

7. My birthday was this past weekend and my mom flew out to celebrate and to hear me preach, which was wonderful. I read a poem by poet Wendell Berry Sunday night. Here’s another of his from the Poetry Foundation, where you can read many other poems by Wendell Berry and a great magnitude of other poets.

This poem delightfully captures the maternal grace and love of God. I see Alyssa loving Atticus like this, and know that my mom has loved me like this, and all the more that Christ has loved us like this:


8. Two summers ago I made the attempt to read the book of Psalms each month, I read the psalter three times totally that summer and a few times since. It’s an incredible emotional and spiritual experience. I would encourage everybody to take a few months to reading and rereading the Psalms. The best method in my opinion is in months that have 30 days read five psalms everyday, excluding Psalm 119 because of it’s length. And I’d suggest not reading them in order, though that works too, but rather reading them scattershot so that you can capture the breadth of the book and capture themes. The best way to do this would be on day one reading Psalm 1, Psalm 31, Psalm 61, Psalm 91, Psalm 121; and Day Two – Psalm 2, Psalm 32, Psalm 62, Psalm 92, Psalm 121; etc. So, whichever calendar day you’re on read that Psalm and then add 30 for the next, then 30 more… and so on. Then on the months with 31 days read only Psalm 119 on the 31st.

9. Really, everbody should read Martin Luther’s Commentary on Galatians:

The heart of man finds it difficult to believe that so great a treasure as the Holy Ghost is gotten by the mere hearing of faith. The hearer likes to reason like this: Forgiveness of sins, deliverance from death, the gift of the Holy Ghost, everlasting life are grand things. If you want to obtain these priceless benefits, you must engage in correspondingly great efforts. And the devil says, “Amen.”

I mean… Come on, what’s holding you back?

10. When a sheep had left the flock three times a shepherd would break its legs so that it couldn’t leave, and then carry the sheep the rest of the way. After being broken the location of the bone’s fracture would heal and never break again in the same spot. After a sheep had had its leg broken and been carried through the healing process with it’s ear so close to the shepherd’s mouth it would never leave the safe comfort of the shepherd’s voice.

Before the cross became the preeminate image of Christianity this image was, or a variation on it:


Christ is carrying us in our brokeness, healing us and leaving the fracture stronger than it was before. As we read the Psalms, pray, study scripture like Galatians, worship in song, take communion, celebrate God’s Spirit is whispering in our ears, revealing Christ to us:

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27

Worship Review 8.16.15 – Galatians One and The Story of Everything

Worship Review 6.14.15 – Dragon Skin

An honest confession: I’m incredibly proud of yesterday’s service.

There were two moments where that made me proud as an artist and a pastor.

The first was the Oasis trailer. One of the goals for the Oasis Conference is that we’d all be refreshed by the end. So, I decided to play up the beach theme and there you have it…

As the video was drawing to a close I heard audible sighs of relief and then people giggling as they realized that multiple people sighed.

That was a nice, proud moment.

Oasis is going to be amazing. The conference is Thursday and Friday, August 6th and 7th from 3p-9p. The cost is $25 which covers dinner both nights, snacks, printed materials, liscencing and more…

Right now, while you’re thinking about it, register here: newsongchurch.com/oasis

This weekend we sang:

  • “Psalm 100” by Chris Tomlin
  • “Glory to God Forever” by Fee
  • “If You Wash Us (Psalm 51)” by Tommy Welty (New!)
  • “Forgiven Forever” by Glenn Packiam
  • “This is Amazing Grace” by Phil Wickham

Please consider purchasing these to support the artists. Well, except for one. If you’d like to listen to it this week email me at tommy@newsongchurch.com for a VERY rough demo.

There’s a line in “Glory to God Forever” that makes all the hands go up in the air: “Take my life and let it be all for you and for your glory!” Which is a great and dangerous prayer. But to be honest, it makes me uncomfortable.

There are times when I’m singing that line where I think to myself, “My life has a special purpose.” That’s right, as I’m worshipping God I’m tempted to think about my life and its great purpose. #ironic

But when I encounter the glory of God a spotlight shines deep into my heart and reveals all the uglies that I hide deep down there. God takes my life and I’m first undone, it is too unbearable to behold.

God’s glory shouldn’t first lead to mission, but to confession. Or, it should. It might not be God’s glory if it doesn’t. It might just be emotions.

I wrote “If You Wash Us (Psalm 51)” years ago and have been too nervous to introduce it for two reasons. First, I’m a coward.  Secondly, the lyrical content is a tough pill to swallow. Every week I try and add an element of confession or an acknowledgement of sin, but usually it’s couched in the lyrics or a prayer. And usually I try and soften the blow – also cowardly.

As we were singing I felt the weight of my sin pressing me down. There was no room to think, “Hey! This past week I did alright. I’m a pretty okay guy. Aren’t you impressed God?” No softening the blow.

But as the bridge (“For the sake of Your son, Jesus Christ, have mercy and forgive us…”) built to its climax and released into the Doxology (“Praise God from whom all blessing flow…”) I felt the catharsis of the Spirit revealing my sin and showing me the Cross that removed it from me.

I was reminded of a scene from CS Lewis’ “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader:”

“Then the lion said — but I don’t know if it spoke — You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was jut the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off.  You know — if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place.  It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.”

“I know exactly what you mean,” said Edmund.

“Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass, only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me – I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on — and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again. . . .”


Bryan Chappel writes in his book, “Christ-Centered Worship:”

We run to his arms with our sin-sick hearts because we know that there is grace sufficient, boundless, and free already there. We repent because we are forgiven, not to gain forgiveness. In our confession we experience God’s love because we confront out sin with the greatness of mercy that is already ours through faith in Christ, but we do not earn, gain, or force God’s pity by the words or weight of our confession.

So we sang “Forgiven Forever” to remember there is nothing we do, or leave undone, that can separate us from the love found in Christ Jesus. No angel, no devil, nor my best effort could. Because of the blood of Christ shed on the cross we are forgiven forever.

Worship Review 6.14.15 – Dragon Skin

Worship Review 5.31.15 – How To Pray

Well yesterday was fun. Goofy and fun. Which, I don’t know about you, was a welcome change of pace for me. I’m glad we have family worship every couple of months. The kids are great.

I’m tempted to write about the deep, heady, theological underpinnings for why we have family worship, and why arranged “Happy Day” the way we did. But, I’d be lying. We have family worship because children matter to God, because Jesus has some stuff to say about children and worship, because the Psalms say stuff about joyful noises, and because why the heck not? And the reason we arranged “Happy Day” the way we did was truly, truly I tell you inspired by none other than Jimmy Fallon. The Bible is quiet on the use of kazoos in worship.

I hope you had fun as well!


(Photo Credit: Jay Juan)

This weekend we sang:

  • “Manifesto” by The City Harmonic
  • “Happy Day” by Tim Hughes
  • “Father, You are All We Need” by Citizens & Saints (New!)
  • “Forever Reign” by one sonic society

I’ve attached a playlist from Spotify but if you enjoyed these songs please consider purchasing them and supporting the artists who wrote them and recorded them so they’ll continue blessing the Church

Eugene Peterson writes in his delightful book on pastoring, “The Contemplative Pastor,” that the:

… primary educational task of [as] a pastor is [was] to teach people to pray.

This weekend’s service was less than subtly working towards the end of prayer. You’ll notice that “Manifesto” has the Lord’s Prayer as its bridge, in the children’s devotion we read a paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer, and the new tune (“Father, You are All We Need”) is a retuning of… you guessed it, the Lord’s Prayer. We spent a significant amount of time at the end of the sermon praying at the altar.

Here it is in The Lord’s Prayer from the King James (because, let us appreciate the classical poetry of it):

After this manner therefore pray ye:
Our Father which art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name
Thy will kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil: for thins is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
Matthew 6.9-13 KJV

Vocationally, thinking about prayer is a concentration of mine. Every week, as the music pastor, I’m putting words in people’s mouths. These words have the potential and high probability (because of the nature of music) to become the language people pray in. So, the words better be good. Not cheap, easy, shallow words but scripturally rich, gut-wrenchingly honest.

Then I write actual prayers for service so that I don’t sound like a goof (although, I often do) from stage. I script what I hope are spiritually authentic, theologically sound words that I speak in to a microphone with the hopes that God can hear me and maybe like me better.

Reading the story to the kids I was rocked at my core:

When the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray he gives them a simple formula that’s easy to understand:

Pray to God.
Give God glory.
Ask for what God wants.
Do what God wants.
Because God deserves it.

It’s first and foremost about and to God. And He alone deserves that honor. The prayer starts and ends with God’s glory. Everything else hinges on God, and our submission to His desires.

Because prayer isn’t about me. It’s not about how good I sound, if I say the right things, if I can get God’s attention. Prayer is about, to, and for God.

And when we forget that and get caught up in what we’re saying we can remember that the Apostle Paul says that the only person who mediates for us is Christ. It’s not on us to make God happy.

We don’t have to pray spectacularly because Jesus prays spectacularly for us.

So when Jesus shows us how to pray he does it because, as Sally Lloyd-Jones says:

…Jesus was showing people that God would always love them with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love. So they didn’t need to hide anymore, or be afraid, or ashamed. They could stop running away from God, they could run to him instead. Like a little child runs to her daddy’s arms.

Prayer is not first and foremost a duty to perform is our never ending quest to please God. Because God is most pleased not with our performance but with Christ in us. Prayer is a pleasure predicated on the work of Christ not the work of Me.

God loves us better than we deserve or could imagine. We can confidently pray our mumbly words, our “umms…,” our “Lord just…’s,” our “Father God, we just want to Father God’s,” because God loves us so much he prays for us.

As we sang and read:

Let us have no fear and run to God knowing that as we stumble along the way he is picking us up.

Worship Review 5.31.15 – How To Pray

Worship Review – 5.3.15

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.

A benediction:


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 Unknown

Worship Review – 5.3.15

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.


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
Worship Review 4.26.15 – Lord of the Storm

Worship Review 4.19.15

If you’re curious about the songs we sang this past weekend check out this playlist on Spotify, and if you enjoy any of the songs please consider supporting the artists and purchasing the music.


Isaiah 6.1-8 is a touchstone in my life as a worship pastor and there’s a specific motion in the passage that I think is paramount to the motion of worship.

Isaiah sees the Lord in His glory. He hears the song of the angels – a song not about the angel’s worship, or Isaiah’s efforts, but about the character of God alone – “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord almighty!” Because of the Lord’s glory Isaiah trembles and is sorrowful due to his sin. Isaiah is no slouch, he’s good dude. Isaiah is awarded audience with the Lord, and not just anybody gets that honor. So what chance do we have? But we must remember that no one is righteous, no not one and in the midst of the Lord’s glory Isaiah trembles. But, God makes a way. An angel of the Lord takes away Isaiah’s guilt and sin. Only then is Isaiah freed from his fear and able to do the work of the Lord.

How about bullet points?

  • God’s Glory
  • Realization of Sin
  • Forgivness of Sin
  • Sending

Keep this in mind as you read:

Any time you see in scripture something repeated three times it’s to indicate great importance. Of God’s attributes the one that is most oft repeated in triplets is His holiness. God is first and foremost holy, and all His other qualities flow from that. His justice, His love, His wrath, His kindness, His mercy, His gospel are all rooted in His holiness. Every song we sang this weekend was chosen to paint an image of God’s holiness and see ourselves firmly rooted in that holiness.

God’s Glory

When we consider the heavenlies and angels there’s a temptation to imagine domesticated, pastel, kitschy naked babies with adorable dove wings. And, Oooo! Oooo! I just want to pinch it’s cheeks. But, the images of angelic beings given throughout scripture should terrify us.

Angels are weird.

18130(From “A Wind in the Door” by Madeleine L’Engle)

Their song in Isaiah doesn’t make just make the ground shake, their song makes the very frame of Heaven shake and fills the throneroom of God with smoke.

Our worship of God should not begin with how much we love to dance, or raise our hands, or how loud we sing, or how undignified we’re gonna be.* Our worship of God begins with a healthy dose of fear and trembling at His character.

Each of the songs this weekend had imagery that should cause us to stutter and pause. We sang that God has “eyes like fire, face like the sun, a voice like thunder” and that He is “clothed in rainbows of living color, flashes of lightning, and rolls of thunder.” WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?! Our imaginations should be enflamed with visions of grandeur and wonder when we consider The Lord.

Realization and Forgivness of Sin

The cornerstone of the Isaiah passage is when he says:

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

and then an angel removes Isaiah’s sin and guilt.

The angel makes a one-time payment for Isaiah’s sin but we have it even better. God himself, Jesus Christ, makes a once-and-for-all payment for the sins of the world. Behold! The Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world!

We entered into the story of Isaiah with song and we sang: “Once we were lost and so far away, wandering in darkness, covered in shame with out you. But now we’ve been found by a love that is stronger!”

Because of Christ’s blood shed on the cross and his ressurrection we’re forgiven – not just for the forseeable future but forever. All our past, present, and future sins have been removed from us and we have no right of ownership to that sin. It has been purchased with a love greater than the universe’s weight in gold.


Unfortunately, beyond mine and Ryan’s control, we were unable to finish the story of Isaiah. We were going to finish the passage and pray for a couple that our campus is going to send to our new church plant. But because of a health issue the couple we would be praying for were unable to make it to church.

But, every service we plan ends with Ryan sends out the congregation with a benediction based on the sermon.

The template laid out here is how I try and plan each service and it was a pleasure to get to do that in an obvious manner this past Sunday. I enjoyed singing and living through the passage with all of you!

 *To be fair, I’m a David Crowder Band fanboy and have enjoyed many worship service that included this song. There is obvious room in a service to sing about our participation in the gospel.

Worship Review 4.19.15

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.


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.


(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