New Song: Who You Say I Am

We’ve already been singing it for a few weeks, but I still want to walk us through the biblical basis for our new song, “Who You Say I Am”.  The writers have said that the theme is taken from John 8 which talks about how we will know, the truth and the truth will set us free.  Or in their words,

“It’s a real declaration of identity.”

The first line asks the rhetorical question, “who am I”?  David prays this in 2 Sam 7:18 when he says, “Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?”  But this is also a theme that found in Psalm 8 and the book of Job.  Think about it!  In light of the vast creation, why are we so special that God would want us?  This is an invitation to wonder…

Verse 1:
Who am I that the highest King
Would welcome me?
I was lost but He brought me in
Oh His love for me
Oh His love for me
We are lost…you know that, right?…and that is a major theme in Jesus’ stories:  the story of the lost coin, the lost sheep and the prodigal son.  But this is not just a random story.  It is our story.  It is your story.  His love is for YOU.  As Jesus said himself, “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed”.
Chorus:
Who the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God
Yes I am
One of the things I love about the song is the reference to adoption.  Don’t miss this!  You are NOT a  natural son or daughter.  God adopted you as his child.  And if you wondering where he says that, check out John 1:12-13, John 14:18, Romans 8:14-17, Romans 8:23, Romans 9:1-8, Galatians 3:26, Galatians 4:5-7, Ephesians 1:3-14, Ephesians 2:11-22, Hebrews 9:15, and 1 John 3:1-3!
Verse 2:
Free at last, He has ransomed me
His grace runs deep

I know we’re not done w/ the verse yet, but I wanted to point something out.  We are adopted into the family of God, but it wasn’t free.  Someone had to buy us back from slavery.  God paid the price with the blood of his Son.

You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ… -1 Peter 1:18-19a

Moving on…

While I was a slave to sin
Jesus died for me
Yes He died for me

We were slaves to sin.  That comes directly from the Word of God.  Sometimes it’s good to remember that this is God’s truth we are singing!

…you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. -Galatians 4:7

Bridge:
I am chosen
Not forsaken
I am who You say I am

It’s such a simple line, but don’t take for granted that you have been chosen.  Matthew records these words that might be hard to hear, but are true.

“For many are invited, but few are chosen.” -Matthew 22:14

Few are chosen.  And not only are you chosen, you are not forsaken.  But that makes me ask, who is forsaken?  The answer might surprise you.  It’s Jesus.  He chose to be forsaken by the Father so you never have to experience what that is like.  In fact, on the cross he cried out,

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” -Mark 15:34

And as Paul says,

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” -Romans 8:31

The only thing to do is accept the identity that God has given you and live for him.  You are a child of God.

You are for me
Not against me
I am who You say I am

If you want to hear the story behind the song.  Check this out…

New Song: Build My Life

Worship is both vertical and horizontal.  What I mean is that it should start with praise for who God is, but also call us to be the church in the world, on the mission of God.

Worship is both transcendent and imminent.  What I mean is that it should remind us that God is the awesome creator of the universe and our Dad.

Worship is all of that and more.

The song, “Build My Life”, has aspects of all these things.  It praises God, who is worthy of every song, all our praise and even our very breath.  He is holy and beyond us and yet we can build our lives upon him and take his love to a lost world.  But it starts with a God who is worthy of praise…

Psalm 96:3

For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
he is to be feared above all gods.

Verse 1
Worthy of every song we could ever sing.
Worthy of all the praise we could ever bring.
Worthy of every breath we could ever breathe.
We live for you.
And then it moves from the triune God to Jesus himself.  God as a man now stands before us.  He is worthy, as we see at the end of the book…

Revelation 5:12

In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”

Jude 25

…to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

Verse 2
Jesus the name above every other name.
Jesus the only one who could save.
Worthy of every breath we could ever breathe.
We live for you.
Oh we live for you.
What I love about the chorus that comes next is the statement that God is holy.  It defines what holy means, but then acknowledges that we live with our eyes closed to it.  (God, please open our eyes to the wonder of your love that we see in Jesus.  Send us out to share that message of love.)  Check out the progression through the scriptures…

Isaiah 40:25

“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.

Psalm 17:7

Show me the wonders of your great love,
    you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes.

2 Thessalonians 3:5

May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.

Chorus
Holy there is no one like you
There is none beside you
Open up my eyes in wonder
Show me who you are and fill me
With your heart and lead me
In your love to those around me.
Lastly, we come to the bridge that gives the song its title.  I think it’s important to clarify that, according to the scriptures, we build our lives on Jesus and the testimony of who he is.  We also see that the church, when it lives out God’s commands, is also a foundation.  The song is a little more general in that it says, “I will build my life upon your love…”.  However, as you can see from the scripture below, that there is a direct connection between Jesus and the love of God.

1 Corinthians 3:11

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

1 John 4:15-17

If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.  And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.

Bridge
And I will build my life upon your love it is a firm foundation.
And I will put my trust in you alone and I will not be shaken.
Passion Music has a devotional based on this song and it ends with a prayer.  May this song become a prayer for us to the God who is worthy of all praise, came to save us and now asks us to share His love…

Father, show me who you are today. Fill me with your heart—all the things you love and want me to love—and empty me of the things which don’t build up your kingdom. Then lead me in your love to, in turn, love those around me with the love of Christ. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Worship is Being Sent Out…

At Emmanuel, we usually end our services with a benediction from a pastor or a short scripture reading.  Why do we do that?  Why can’t we just say, “We’ll see you next week.  Peace out!”  Good question!  Let’s talk…

 

There is a need for personal preparation before the service of worship begins. . . . Worship has to do with our heart, our interior person, our longing for God, our openness to his Spirit. Before worship we must learn to center our thoughts and our whole being so that we may behold God, listen to him, and internalize his message for us.

-Robert Webber, Worship Is a Verb: Celebrating God’s Mighty Deeds of Salvation

Worship is War

All of life is worship, but how is worship a declaration of war?  What other things are going to war for our heart, souls, minds and strengths?  What is the connection with allegiance?  We walk and talk this week about how worship is war.

Who Is Worship For? – Prt3

I have a confession.

I grew up thinking that worship was only for believers.  Now, I think you can make a case that only a believer can worship God in spirit and in truth, but how should we arrange our services with the third audience, the outside world, in mind?

A number of years ago, I took a class called “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement”.  It’s not a very exciting title, I know, but the class changed my whole perspective on worship.  Every week we had a different speaker who helped us understand what God has been doing in the world to build his Kingdom starting in the OLD TESTAMENT!  Did you know that God’s heart has ALWAYS been to have the nations hear the good news?  I hadn’t realized that this was God’s message to Adam and Eve, to Abraham, to David and on and on…to Jesus and then the early church.  God has always wanted his people to be a light and welcome anyone who comes.  As God says in the Psalms (46:10, 47:1, 18:49, 22:27)

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.

Therefore I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name.

All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him…

And as author and pastor, Tim Keller, writes,

It is a false dichotomy to insist that if we are seeking to please God we must not ask what the unchurched feel or think about our worship…God wants the world to overhear us worshipping him.  God directs his people not to simply worship, but to sing his praises “before the nations.”  We are not to simply communicate the gospel to them, but celebrate the gospel before them.*

Did you know that this happens at ECC?  We have people to walk up to our pastors after service and say, “I’m not a believer, but I’m thinking about what you said…”  We have people who are sitting in the seats who come to church, but aren’t following Jesus Monday through Saturday.

This is why I think Keller’s emphasis on the gospel is so important.  Not just because unbelievers need to hear it (and they do!), but that the gospel is what all three groups need to hear!  God wants us to tell him about what he has done for us in Jesus.  Believers need to be reminded and shaped by the gospel.  Un-believers need to be saved by the gospel.

We can focus only on seekers instead of encouraging believers and get lost in making Jesus “relevant”.

We can focus only on building up believers and make things incomprehensible and outdated for seekers.

We need to make sure that our services are fresh, conversational and understandable while always focusing on the gospel.

By focusing on the gospel, we bring all three audiences together in worship.

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*Tim Keller quote from “Evangelistic Worship” as used in Rhythms of Grace.  Thanks to Mike Cosper for the concept of the three audiences in worship.  His book is an excellent read.  I highly recommend it!

New Song: What a Beautiful Name

I recently heard a definition of prayer that applies to worship as well.  “Prayer is intimacy with God that brings about His Kingdom purposes in our lives.”*

As I look at the lyrics of this new song from Hillsong, I think it helps take us from an intimacy with God to a greater sense of of His Kingdom.  It uses three adjectives for the name of Jesus: Beauty, Wonder and Power.  And it also starts with the Genesis story as told in John.  So, let’s jump in and see the scriptures the song-writers used…they start with Creation…

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning. John 1:-2

From there we jump to Colosians where we read about the hidden glory of God in the Old Testament which is now revealed in Jesus, the hope of glory.  Paul writes,

“…God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” -Colossians 1:27

V1: You were the Word at the beginning -John 1
One With God the Lord Most High
Your hidden glory in creation
Now revealed in You our Christ

From there, we hit the first description of Jesus’ name.  The song-writers used the word “Beauty”.  Why?  Fortunately, someone asked them!  They said they used the word because it “evokes the tenderness of His love and the sweetness of His presence.”**

Ch1: What a beautiful Name it is
What a beautiful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King
What a beautiful Name it is
Nothing compares to this
What a beautiful Name it is
The Name of Jesus

Verse 2 uses poetic language to describe Jesus coming from Heaven to earth.  He is fully God and brought his divine presence (heaven) with him to us.  I think the song-writers are referring to this passage in Phillipians:

Jesus:  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (2:6-7)

The next two lines come from John and Paul who talk about the greater love of God that will never allow us to be seperated again…

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. -1 John 4:10

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 8:38-39

V2: You didn’t want Heaven without us
So Jesus, You brought heaven down
My sin was great, Your love was greater
What could separate us now

The second chorus is identical to the first EXCEPT for the adjective.  And again, we have to ask the question, “Why?”  Why do the writers use the word “wonder”?  They said that it “speaks to our gratitude for salvation and awe at the lengths of His sacrifice.”**

Ch2: What a wonderful Name it is
What a wonderful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King…
What a wonderful Name it is
The Name of Jesus

Up until this point, we’ve been talking about the impact of the gospel on our own lives.  But the bridge helps make the shift towards God’s Kingdom purposes.  In case you haven’t read the end of the story, GOD WINS!

“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.  At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom…There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it…The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” -Matthew 27:50-51, 28:2, 5

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.  Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?”-1 Corinthians 15:54-55

“…to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.” – Revelation 1:6b

…far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked”…-Ephesians 1:21

Br: Death could not hold You, the veil tore before You
You silenced the boast, of sin and grave
The heavens are roaring, the praise of Your glory
For You are raised to life again
You have no rival, You have no equal
Now and forever, God You reign
Yours is the Kingdom, Yours is the glory
Yours is the Name, above all names

The last adjective used is “Power”.  This word “affirms His supremacy and Sovereignty—an exhortation to remember our access to the power of God in every situation, as we seek first the kingdom and declare the Name of Jesus.”**  And by the way, “…the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” -Matthew 16:18

Vs3: What a powerful Name it is
What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King
What a powerful Name it is
Nothing can stand against
What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus

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*This isn’t a direct quote, but a paraphrase of Daniel Henderson.  He is the author of Old Paths/New Power and other books on prayer.

**Quotes from the Hillsong blog.

We don’t go to worship to celebrate what we have done. We don’t say, “Look, Lord, isn’t it wonderful that I believe in you, follow you, and serve you!” No! We go to worship to praise and thank God for what he has done, is doing, and will do. God’s work in Christ is the focus of worship. 

-Robert Webber, Worship Is a Verb: Celebrating God’s Mighty Deeds of Salvation, Second Edition

Notes from the GLS

It’s been a full day at the Global Leadership Summit hosted by Willowcreek Church.  We have 6 staffers from ECC.  It’s great to be able to learn together and process how we can grow together and seek first the kingdom.  So here are a few notes from the first day…

Bill Hybels is the senior pastor of Willowcreek and he challenged us in a couple different ways…

  1.  “Armed with enough humility, leaders can learn from anyone.”  This is a great reminder.  We should NEVER stop learning and we can learn from ANYONE.  We can learn from students, grandparents and even unbelievers.  Let’s be humble and learn….
  2. “Spend 15 min every morning reading/reflect on your life.”  How can we do this?  Journal?  Yes.  I have realized that I need to get back to journaling and ask the following questions:  Who am I becoming?  Am I surrendered to God?
  3. “Am I leading at home as well as I’m leading at work?”  We need to lead well and love well at home.  So for me, I am asking myself, “What plans do I need to make?”

Fredrik Haren is a business creativity expert from Sweden and now lives in Asia.  I was a bit skeptical, but he was great.  He ended his talk with this challenge:

  • “Create!-you do this by doing creative things yourself as a leader because people are inspired to be creative.”  This is a great challenge for me.   I want people to think, “If he can do it.  I can do it!”  And when we create, we are modeling our Creator God.  Let’s create.

Brian Stevenson is a lawyer in Birmingham, Alabama.  He defends children and inmates on death-row.  He challenged us to take 4 steps.

1.  Get close in proximity to broken people.  This will give you compassion and passion.
2.  Change the Narrative.  Many times we make decisions based on our story of the world.  We have a story of redemption.  Let’s work to love people to bring about change.
3.  Stay hopeful.  Living with broken people is hard.  Stay hopeful.
4.  Do uncomfortable things.  The world is a dark place and it’s hard, but we must do hard, uncomfortable things.  Jesus came to earth to die…we are called to live in the same way.
I don’t know if those things grabbed you, but I something jumped out to you.  Let’s all lead together as we glorify God and help others worship.