Watch “Chris Tomlin – Noel (Live) ft. Lauren Daigle” on YouTube

Watch “Christy Nockels – My Anchor (Live/Lyrics And Chords)” on YouTube

More great GRACE songs

Here are two GRACE-filled songs, both with a lively tempo, for you to try with your church family. The first is “Grace has now Appeared” from a recent Christmas album, ADVENT by EMU Music. I think this would be very suitable to sing all year, since we celebrate the grace that comes to us in Christ every day. It is a joyful song, full of gospel riches. The second is an older song with a simple chorus, made popular by Chris Tomlin, “Your Grace is Enough” (album: ‘Arriving’). (Click on any of the titles to listen.)

Grace has now appearedadvent

See the love of God the Father for our lost and desperate race
Sending to our world a Saviour, full of truth and grace
People who once walked in darkness now are dwelling in the light
Undeserving of His kindness, Blindness turned to sight
Dead have come to life

Glory to our God in heaven, Celebrate the Saviour’s birth
Joyful news for all the people, Hope has come to earth
God has comforted His people, Come to drive away our fear
Born for us in David’s city, Grace has now appeared

See the grace of our Lord Jesus who was rich but became poor
In our place He pays our ransom, Satisfies the law
Giving up His life for sinners, Banishing our guilt and shame
Pouring out for us His life-blood, Freeing us from blame
This is why He came

See the Holy Spirit’s power overshadow Mary’s womb
Come upon the suffering servant, Raise Him from the tomb
He has come to dwell within us, Bringing us from death to life
Giving us the hope of glory, Making us like Christ
Shining forth His light

CCLI Song # 6426257 Rob Smith© 2012

arrivingYour Grace is enough

Great is Your faithfulness O God, You wrestle with the sinner’s restless heart
You lead us by still waters into mercy, And nothing can keep us apart
(PRE-CHORUS)
So remember Your people, Remember Your children, Remember Your promise O God
Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough for me

Great is Your love and justice God of Jacob, You use the weak to lead the strong
You lead us in the song of Your salvation, And all Your people sing along
(Chorus 2)
Yeah Your grace is enough, Heaven reaches out to us
Your grace is enough for me
God I sing Your grace is enough, I’m covered in Your love
Your grace is enough for me for me

CCLI Song # 4477026 Matt Maher © 2003 spiritandsong.com

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The titles of Christ in the midst of a whirlwind (Message of Mark part 2)

sonof manWell I had promised to do some more study here for my exam on Mark, but a few things have been drawing me away. Let me share some things from the last few days: We hosted the first night of the Parenting Teenagers Course at our church, I prepared to run a session on one-to-one Bible reading for women at a retreat (and then did so), I found out I had upset a lovely long-term friend (sorry!), managed to put out my lower back (I am walking around like a fragile old woman), then hosted a staff meeting and dinner at my house. Most of that happened yesterday! Today I have led music at church and felt ‘obliged’ to go see Iron Man 3 with my teenagers and husband. (This last one was no huge sacrifice, but it did take a few hours. Fun film!)

So now it is time to stop and think clearly for a few moments in the midst of this whirlwind, about the way Christ referred to himself, the titles of Christ as recorded in Mark’s Gospel. These titles reveal so much of God’s great plan to rescue a people for His own Kingdom purposes, a people who would come to resemble the beautiful King who saved them!

“How do the titles of Christ reveal who Jesus is?”

MESSIAH/Christ

Messiah is the Hebrew term, Christos the Greek, for the title which tells us that Jesus is God’s anointed and promised King. He fulfills the promise to King David of a descendent who would reign on his throne forever! (2 Samuel 7).  Jesus, God’s Son, became the Son of God (a Messianic title which also applied to the OT Kings of Israel). The Son of God would be the one to subdue the nations and be the means of reconciliation between God and man. “Kiss the Son” is the instruction of Psalm 2, meaning we must bow to or align ourself with him. We must trust in Him: “blessed are all who take refuge in Him”. Jesus’ divinity (meaning He IS God!) was made apparent by the authority he displayed over sickness, nature, death, evil spirits and most importantly sin – God alone could forgive (Mark 2 – the Man on the Mat!). Jesus is the One who clearly fulfilled the words of Isaiah: “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.” (Isaiah 35:5-6).  Several times in Mark, in the voice from heaven (at the baptism and the transfiguration) and the voice of demons, God revealed that Jesus was indeed His Son. Peter, Blind Bartemeus and the Roman centurion (who saw Christ crucified) all conclude “You are the Christ”, Son of David, Son of God.

Son of Man

Another significant title is this one, Son of Man, which Jesus often used in referring to Himself, and what He had come to do. While this may seem to be a puzzling title, since the man Joseph was definitely not his biological father, Jesus used it to show how he fulfilled the promises which came through Daniel. Daniel 7 speaks of one like a Son of Man who will be victorious over evil, who receives the Kingdom in the new age, and shares it with the saints (all believers). He is the servant of the Lord who delivers God’s people through a resurrection (Daniel 12). This Son of Man has the authority to forgive sins (Mark 2:8-12), and he will preside over the great Sabbath rest at the end of time (Mark 2:27-28). The Son of Man is the true descendent of Adam, representative of God the Creator, who will rule over creation within God’s total and sovereign rule.

In Mark 14:61-63 Jesus draws these two titles together, and admits who He is, as he stands before the Sanhedrin under arrest. Jesus says He is “I AM”, both the divine Son of God, Son of the Blessed One, and the Son of Man who will receive the Kingdom with power!

Suffering Servant

The final title is that of Suffering Servant, promised through the prophet Isaiah many centuries before. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). The Son of Man will serve us by suffering, in our place. He takes the punishment for sin, our sin, which was death. Isaiah 53 provides the clearest picture of what the suffering Servant would do: the righteous servant would justify many, giving his life as a ransom. Fulfilling Isaiah’s words perfectly, Christ was crushed for our iniquities, pierced for our trangressions. The punishment that brought us peace was laid on him. Silently as a lamb he was led to the slaughter, the Perfect Lamb of God, the sacrifice that perfectly fulfilled the Law and the Prophets and brought a way for our forgiveness. Psalms 22 and 69 also foreshadow the way Christ (in fact God himself) entered into our suffering, forsaken to death for US!

And strangely, apart from all that I can learn about the titles of Christ, there is a great comfort in knowing that Jesus is not some modern, man made or religious idea, but the great God-man who fulfills the purposes of our creator, and He draws us to himself through Jesus. The name of Jesus is indeed a refuge (as Chris Tomlin has sung, below). Theology brings us comfort and assurance of all that we hope for in faith.

And just if you are interested to keep reading:

Yehoshua means ‘the Lord saves’, and is translated into English as Joshua.
Jesus’ Hebrew name is Yeshua, which is a shortened version of Yehoshua. Yeshua means ‘he will save’, and is translated into English as Joshua.
Yeshua translated into Greek is Iesous.
Iesous transliterated into Latin is Jesu.
Jesu became Jesus in English.
Jesus’ name is actually “Joshua”.

Click here to read part 3:
Some unusual thoughts on Parables and Miracles

Songs to GROW Women by . . .

.facebook_-22058451Great to have an audience of interested people who can consider my song selection for a Women’s conference in July, called GROW. Speaker Jenny Salt from Sydney will no doubt have some ‘salty’ words to share, teaching from the book of Numbers to show God’s trustworthiness and to encourage us to count on God, holding on to Him through all of life’s jouney. Themes include: trusting God, His faithfulness, taking Him at his Word, resting in God’s promises which are fulfilled in Jesus, blessings, consequences of sin, God’s holiness.

Here is my initial shortlist of songs, keeping in mind that we are hoping to cover a wide range of ages and denominations, mixing well known and new songs.

When Peace like a River (Hymn, aka It is Well) – connected with I will Rise (Chris Tomlin)
Hymn – Great is Your Faithfulness
My Hope (Nothing will change, if all the plans I make go wrong… by Paul Baloche). We taught this one last year at GROW.
Desert Song (This is my prayer in the desert – quite appropriate for Numbers, by Brooke Fraser)
O the Deep Deep Love of Jesus (Bob Kauflin’s hymn arrangement) – will do as item in 3part harmony, to teach it to the group.
Mighty to Save (Hillsong).
See the Man (Trevor Hodge) – this is a great one for see howing God’s promises are fulfilled in Jesus!
No Other Name (Trevor Hodge)
10 000 reasons
(Bless the Lord O my Soul . . . Chris Tomlin)
Blessed be your name (Matt Redman)

If you have any thoughts for other songs that tie into the theme perfectly, please comment below. I hope you can also find a new song or two above!

When should we sing that song?

piano-stairs3There are times when a song fits just so perfectly! It arrives during the gathering at just the right place and right time. Other times a song will stand out like a sore thumb. Despite our best laid plans, both of these instances can occur even within the one church service! If you are new to the service planning task, or even if you’ve been doing it for a while, here are a few tips to help create the best possible sequencing of songs. I hope these thoughts are helpful in some way. (Note: I am writing for churches that use a mix of contemporary songs and hymns.)

OPENING SONGS:
Songs work well early in the service if they have a positive feel and lively tempo. They should be uplifting and encourage as many people to sing as possible. This will create energy and anticipation for all they will do/hear together in the rest of the service. Avoid songs with super-complicated rhythms or minor keys. Songs should be quite well-known to the congregation and not be recently ‘new’ songs. Thematically, it is good to open with songs of adoration, which describe the general attributes and actions of God/Jesus and give praise for them. Songs that encourage personal response/reflection, or that describe details about salvation, are not very helpful as opening songs. Newcomers may be struggling with the concept of God existing at all. Let’s establish that first!
Good Examples:
Come People of the Risen King (Getty), Creation sings the Father’s Song (Getty), Indescribable (Laura Story), Majesty of Heaven (Tomlin), Hallelujah to the King of Kings (EMU), Across the Lands (Getty), O God Our Redeemer (Everlasting) (Altrogge), God of Wonders (Byrd & Hindalong).

MIDDLE SONGS:
Songs through the middle of your service can branch out in terms of theme and feel and tempo. It is a good place to sing songs that teach the Gospel in detail, that speak of salvation and how it was won for us. Songs that speak to each other as God’s people (using terms like we/us/our) help draw people together into community. These songs provide the encouragement described in Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”  Songs that move from minor to major feel are great here. Certain songs can also be a calming influence, helping people prepare to hear God’s word preached (without putting them to sleep!).
Good examples:
By Our Love (Christy Nockels), We Belong to the Day (EMU), By Faith (Getty), How deep the Father’s Love for Us (Townend), Mighty to Save (Hillsong), Glorious Day (Casting Crowns), See the Man (Hodge/EMU),  In Christ Alone (Getty), Count it all Joy (Sovereign Grace). How Great is Our God (Tomlin) is an interesting one – seems like it should fit in the opening songs category by theme, but the tempo and feel are not quite right (in my humble opinion). It works well in the middle.

END SONGS:
This is probably the best place to put songs of personal response or commitment or resolve (“I” songs) – since by this point people will have heard the Gospel explained in the sermon, bible readings and earlier songs. Both slow songs and more upbeat songs can be effective for closing, depending on the type of mood you want to leave people in. It is good to remember the final song can be ringing in people’s ears long after they have forgotten the main points of the sermon, so choose something memorable that says something important!
Good examples:
You are My King (I’m Forgiven),.My Hope (Baloche), I give you my Heart (Hillsong), You Chose the Cross (Lost in Wonder) (Martyn Layzell), I will Glory in My Redeemer (Sovereign Grace), From the Inside Out (Hillsong), Stronger (Hillsong), Be Thou My Vision, This Life I live (EMU), Desert Song (Brooke Fraser Hillsong), 10000 Reasons (Matt Redman), May the Mind of Christ my Saviour, Here I am to Worship (Redman), Jesus Thankyou (Sovereign Grace).

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Praise the Lord: New song list ready for 2013!

pianoThe 2013 list is ready! There are just so many good songs out there, it has been pretty tough to eliminate ones I love. But it is great to have a plan mapped out. Some of these songs have been waiting in the wings for several years, so it is exciting to finally get everyone singing along.
There is nothing like a new song to present God’s truth to people in a new and refreshing way, and to focus people’s attention on some important element of the Gospel of Grace which they may have overlooked. I have included lots of details for our music team at ARPC to consider; would love to hear your thoughts on any songs that stand out, for whatever reason. I have also commented on the feel and theme of the song, plus the key I think fits best for a congregation. At our church we have two services, a more traditional family service in the morning, and an evening Cafe Church service, with an average age of around 30, and a good number of teenagers – this is why I have designated some songs to fit only one service. (Sorry if I have overlooked some details. Hope you can find them easily enough. Most lead sheets are on CCLI. Purchase individual songs on iTunes.)

BOTH SERVICES:
1. No Other Name (Trevor Hodge 2010, EMU – Album: Undivided). Listen here This is such an uplifting song, with a tremendous crescendo in verse three which is sung up the octave (for those of your congregation who can). Jesus is our joy in sorrow’s tears, my broken heart’s delight, my strength, my hope! (Key Bb – use key A capo 1 for guitars, or key G capo 3)
2. See the Man (Trevor Hodge 2008, EMU – Album: Advent).  In this song we connect the man Jesus with the promises to the first Adam, and to Abraham, and we see how Jesus has come to fulfill these promises and undo what sin has done. Great theology and a lilting 6/8 rhythm. (Key D)
3. We Belong to the Day (Michael Morrow 2006, EMU – Album: Come hear the Angels sing). Listen What I love about this one is the minor/major change from verse to chorus, and the really triumphant bridge. It challenges us to see that our identy and security is in Christ, He is our refuge from the coming wrath. This song makes no apologies about the reality of what is to come. (Not too many songs feature the coming wrath!) (Key E)
4. Majesty of Heaven (Chris Tomlin 2010 – Album: And if our God is For Us). Listen “To You the nations bow down, To You creation cries out majesty, All things You hold together, Your name will stand forever, Majesty You are majesty.” What a great way to praise the King! (Key G)
5. Saving One (Jon Neufeld, Mia Fieldes, Tim Neufeld 2010 – Starfield). ListenAnd heaven can’t contain the glory of the Son, Jesus is the Christ, The Saving One”. The bridge of this song brings an awesome reminder that all who call on the name of Jesus will be saved. This is a simple song but the message is clear – Jesus saves! (Try Key Bb, so bridge is not so high. Guitars can Capo 1 in A)

MORNING service only:
1. Creation Sings the Father’s Song (Getty, 2008 – Album: Awaken the Dawn). Listen This modern hymn from the Gettys invites us to join with creation and praise the Father. “Let all creation stand and sing! Fill the earth with songs of worship! Tell the wonders of Creation’s King.” (Key Bb, guitar Capo 3 in G)
2. All I have is Christ (Jordan Kauflin 2008, Sovereign Grace). Listen That is, afterall, all we have that we can count on in this world! Hallelujah! The song moves us to know that Christ, who saved us from our “hell-bound race” is indeed now our only boast. (Key C, so it’s not too high!)
3. Never Alone (Philip Percival & Simone Richardson 2006, EMU – Album: Let All Creation Sing). Listen This is a gentle song, with a simple melody, but the lyrics bring much comfort. Christ is with us. We are not alone. The song tells the story in 4 verses, of the God-man come to earth, dying and rising for us; now he walks with us in joy and pain. (Key D)
4. Show us Christ (Doug Plank 2011, Sovereign Grace). Listen  A reflective prayer song, asking that God would reveal His glory through the preaching of His Word, that our hearts would be ready to receive His Word, that it would be implanted there and grow much fruit in our lives. This would be great to sing before hearing a message. The wording is very inclusive (us, our, we) and calls people to recognise the community of the church. (Key Bb, use A for guitar, Capo 1).
5. Hear the Call of the Kingdom (Getty 2006 – Album: In Christ Alone). Listen This is a pretty exciting song about the call of the Kingdom, from Jesus, to us, to be part of His expanding Kingdom stretching across time and space, into eternity. We are called to be children of light, living with the humility of Christ. (Key F major, guitar capo 3 in D)

CAFE CHURCH only:
1. 10,000 Reasons/Bless the Lord (Matt Redman 2011 – Album: 10,000 Reasons). Listen This is a gentle yet important song with a rousing chorus. It invites us to tell our souls, in no uncertain terms, that we must value, trust, sing out/call on the Holy name of the Lord – afterall, we have 10,000 reasons to do so! I love the dramatic pause he has created with the inclusion of the two-four bars, leading into the chorus.
2. Hosanna (Brooke Fraser 2006). Listen  Yes, we are a little behind the times having not taught this one yet! It is a favourite for many people, especially for the heartfelt cry of the Bridge section, “Heal my heart and make it clean, Open up my eyes to the things unseen, Show me how to love like You have loved me.” (Default Key is E, but maybe try in D major).
3. Our God (Chris Tomlin – Album: And if Our God is For Us). Listen There is no one like our God, and He is for us. That’s all I need to say. It is a powerful message. (Key G)

What is so amazing about “Amazing Grace”?

It just dawned on me that though I have been blogging for almost a year now on the subject of music and grace, I haven’t even made a single mention of that most famous combination of music and grace: John Newton’sAmazing Grace“. It has been an anthem of hope and faith for generations.
But why has this hymn had such an impact? What does Newton point out about God’s grace that resonates with us so strongly? Is there something in the music which made it so popular?

At the time Newton penned Amazing Grace, hymnbooks did not contain music; they were simply religious poetry books. The first time Newton’s lines were joined to music was in 1808, in A Companion to the Countess of Huntingdon’s Hymns, set to the tune “Hephzibah” by English composer John Jenkins Husband. More than twenty musical settings of “Amazing Grace” circulated with varying popularity until 1835 when William Walker assigned Newton’s words to a traditional song named “New Britain”.

According to author Steve Turner, the joining of these words and melody was a “marriage made in heaven . . . There was a rise at the point of confession, as though the author was stepping out into the open and making a bold declaration, but a corresponding fall when admitting his blindness.”

Sing through the lyrics at the end (if you need them to test his theory). I think Turner is quite right. It is at this very point we can see why the hymn works so well in communal praise. As we sing this appropriately-shaped melody together, we step out into the open and make a public and communal confession of our wretchedness, our need for God’s forgiving grace. We declare we have moved from ‘lost’ to ‘found’, from hopeless to being filled with hope! As we declare this together, the Spirit works.

It probably has a lot to do with the truth which James expresses here:
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16)

This hymn is a prayer! We pray together as we sing. We confess (our wretched need for God’s grace) to one another, and look with eyes of faith to the glorious future for us who are ‘found’. The power of this prayer-song transcends time, culture and place. I would predict that there are many more centuries of life in Newton’s hymn.

(Nb. If you are so young that you only know of Amazing Grace as being part of Chris Tomlin’s “My Chains are gone” then you should note how skilfully Tomlin has mimicked the rise and fall of the “New Britain” melody in his additional chorus. In this way he moves our focus to the flood of mercy experienced by all who are in Christ. Such amazing grace!)

Here are the 6 verses of the hymn:

Amazing grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now am found
Was blind but now I see

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

The Lord has promised good to me
His Word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures

Through many dangers toils and snares
I have already come
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home

Yea when this flesh and heart shall fail
And mortal life shall cease
I shall possess within the veil
A life of joy and peace

When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun

And Tomlin’s clever chorus:

My chains are gone, I’ve been set free
My God my Saviour has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy rains
Unending love, Amazing Grace!

If you want to think a bit more about this grace, watch the film trailer . . . or the whole film AMAZING GRACE (2006).

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Faith in Jesus’ powerful name (Acts 3:16)

Here in Acts we continue our journey through the “Three Sixteens” – Peter and John have just gone up to the temple to pray. Peter commands a beggar, lame from birth, to get up and “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Literally Peter means a continuous action ‘be walking‘. He grabs him by the right hand to raise him up. “The power was Christ’s but the hand was Peter’s” (John Stott 1990). This healed beggar then famously goes “walking and leaping and praising God!” He becomes the living embodiment of the Messianic age, predicted in Isaiah 35:6, Then will the lame leap like a deer.

The result of all this is another hugely important 3:16 verse:
“By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.(Acts 3:16)

Peter explains to those in the temple courts that this healing reveals Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah. He is the promised suffering Servant who brings healing to all the nations. Peter’s own “power or godliness” did not heal the man. It was the power of the risen Lord Jesus. Peter tells the Jews that though they acted in ignorance and killed the “author of life“, this is howGod fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer (verse 18).

This miracle, performed “in the name of Jesus”, brings physical healing and a great testimony. Peter wants them to repent and receive the promised Messiah who can bring them healing, promised healing that is so much more than physical.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (Jeremiah 31:33)

Peter has received the Spirit of the risen Christ, and in Jesus’ name alone can Peter heal.  In Jesus’ name we can be healed from our sinful separation from God. He has offered to give us a new heart, a heart transplant. Our sick, dead, un-beating, stony hearts can be replaced. This is the healing we all need to receive – in Jesus’ powerful name.

Finally, here is the link to Chris Tomlin ‘s take on “The Name of Jesus” which he describes as “a saving place to run, a hope unshakeable . . . there is power in Your name, in the name of Jesus there is life and healing, chains are broken in Your name”.

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