It seems to me that congregational [participation] cannot occur without two very basic ingredients: the congregation must understand what they are doing, and they must intend to make the responses that are part of worship. Worship is a verb.

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

Joy in the Morning

My friend, Dan, gave me a book to read this year.  I’ve added it to my daily morning readings.  It’s called, “The Book of Mysteries” by Jonathan Cahn, who is a messianic Jew.  It’s set up like a story.  A man goes out to learn from a teacher in a small school in the desert.  Each day is another lesson from the teacher.  One of them connects with our theme of joy…let’s check out the “Night and Day Paradigm”.  If you’re been listening to Pastor Denny’s teaching for very long, it will sound familiar…

Since God is speaking and acting in worship, response to God who speaks and acts is of great importance.

In my response, I am once again saying yes to God. As with the initial response when I first heard the word of God’s love and grace, I again respond to him in faith and love. . . . I respond to God in worship because he makes a difference in my life. . . . My response to God . . . determines my priorities in life. It puts me at peace with God, my neighbor, and my own life.

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


I wrote this for a specific worship service, but it’s didn’t fit.  However, it seemed to fit our NIGHT TO SHINE event that is happening tonight.  So, I wanted to share it.  We are also continuing our study looking at Jesus’ Divinity, Humiliation and Exaltation.  That makes it doubly relevant.  Here we go…

Worship is not for the purpose of remembering the Reformation, hailing the founding of America, saluting mothers, boy scouts, girl scouts, or grandparents. Worship does not celebrate Independence Day, Memorial Day, or Labor Day.


Worship remembers the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. . . . All that goes into an actual service of worship must pertain to the event of God revealing himself to us, becoming incarnate in our history, and redeeming us from the power of the evil one, setting us free to enjoy him forever.

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

Living Out Joy

I’ve been thinking about the ways that we live out JOY in our lives.  One of the ways we do that as believer is through praising God.  That could be through singing, but it doesn’t have to be.  But when we PRAISE GOD, we are living our his role for us in creation AND finding a better quality of life.  Let’s talk and drive…


NEW SONG: Joy of the Lord

As Gareth Gilkeson from the worship band Rend Collective, points out, worship music tends to focus on God’s holiness, but doesn’t always take that next step into celebrating it.  This weekend, we are starting a year long focus on JOY, one of the fruits of the Spirit.  To help us do that, we are learning a new song, “Joy of the Lord”.  Gareth, one of the songwriters also writes,

 “It’s a call to the cynical to once again choose celebration over condemnation and a reminder to the broken that ‘the joy of the Lord is our strength’….Joy isn’t the same as happiness, it’s deeper than that. When you have joy in the Lord, your circumstances don’t have the same power and the same control over you.”

It’s also a fun song.  Rend Collective tried to make it sound like fun. It’s what the Psalmist calls, ‘a joyful noise’.”  So let’s jump in…it starts with the Psalms…

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. -Psalm 73:26

VS1: Though tears may fall
My song will rise, my song will rise to You
Though my heart may fail
My song will rise, my song will rise to You
While there’s breath in my lungs
I will praise You, Lord

You can see already that joy is not connected to our circumstances because this song doesn’t shy away from the tears and failures of life.  Instead, it calls us to praise God in the tears and failures…

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. -Psalm 150:6

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth. -Psalm 121:1-2

VS2: In the dead of night, I’ll lift my eyes
I’ll lift my eyes to You
When the waters rise, I’ll lift my eyes
I’ll lift my eyes to You
While there’s hope in my heart
I will praise You, Lord

And then we come to the rock’in, stomp’in, sing it out loud chorus…

“Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” -Nehemiah 8:10b

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
    my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
    and with my song I praise him. -Psalm 28:7

CH: The joy of the Lord is my strength!
The joy of the Lord is my strength!
In the darkness I’ll dance
In the shadows I’ll sing
The joy of the Lord is my strength!

Next, the song echos Hebrews in reminding us that even faith itself is believing in things we can’t see…that’s not an easy thing, but faith is another avenue to praise and then to JOY!

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. -Hebrews 11:1

VS3: When I cannot see You with my eyes
Let faith arise to You
When I cannot feel Your hand in mine
Let faith arise to You
God of mercy and love
I will praise You, Lord

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. -2 Corinthians 4:6

Now the verses have gone through pain, sorrow, faith and praise to life in God’s glory.  Remember, “there is strength when I say, ‘I will praise you, Lord”.

VS4: Oh You shine with glory, Lord of light
I feel alive with You
In Your presence now I come alive
I am alive with You
There is strength when I say
I will praise You, Lord

BR: When sorrow comes my way
You are the shield around me
Always, You remain my courage in the fight
I hear You call my name
Jesus, I am coming
Walking on the waves
Reaching for Your light

And with that, we go back to the chorus because “the joy of the Lord is my strength.”  It’s going to be a good anthem for us to sing this year.  Because as Gareth reminds us, “Seriousness is not a fruit of the Spirit, but joy is.”


Worship Stories: Moses

This time of year, we look to the same God as Moses.  The one who said I WILL BE WHO I AM is with you.  The one who said He would be EMMANUEL, is GOD WITH US!  This season, remember that the same God who promised to be faithful to Moses, to Israel, is faithful to you.  He is the the one who lit the bush, the mountain and the Bethlehem night skies on fire and who came as a baby to live with you.

We should use the Advent season as a period to identify the matters from which we need to be redeemed. Identify whatever it is that seems to be holding you in its power.

-Robert Webber, Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality through the Christian Year