This We Believe: THE BIBLE
This post is part of our “THIS WE BELIEVE” series in conjunction with the “From the Desk” video blog. You can see the latest entry at the end of this post.
Article 2: We believe that God has spoken through the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, through the words of human authors. As the verbally inspired Word of God, the Bible is without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for salvation, and the ultimate authority by which every realm of human knowledge and endeavor should be judged. Therefore it is to be believed in all that it teaches, obeyed in all that it requires, and trusted in all that it promises.
In some ways, one could argue that every song that we sing as a church should at the very least correlate with this article of our Statement of Faith. Every lyric, every emotion that is communicated within a song is subject to the authority of God’s written word.
Of all the songs we have done in the past few years, the one that instantly leaps out as reflecting this authority of God’s word over our worship and, honestly, our entire lives is “Speak O Lord” from Keith and Kristyn Getty. Each verse opens with that prayer that as we approach God’s word, both in our own private devotions and corporately on Sundays, we would be affected by the truth and power of the word. This song is one of those that while somewhat “me” focused, it is centered on the earnest desire to be sanctified…to be changed by the Word of God.
Cause our faith to rise Cause our eyes to see / Your majestic love and authority / Words of power that can never fail / let the truth prevail over unbelief
Many of the songs we sing tend to be either Vertical (directed toward God in both focus and text) or Horizontal (directed to each other as we remind and encourage). This song fits squarely in the middle, and what is more… it should be our own intense prayer for our walk.
My prayer for you, brothers and sisters, is that this week you don’t merely go through the motions of your faithful devotions but that you are still, aware of how God is calling you to be more like His Son through the power of His Word.
For His Glory,
This We Believe: GOD
This post is part of our “THIS WE BELIEVE” series in conjunction with the “From the Desk” video blog. This week's video is embedded after the article.
Article 1: GOD
We believe in one God, Creator of all things, holy, infinitely perfect, and eternally existing in a loving unity of three equally divine Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Having limitless knowledge and sovereign power, God has graciously purposed from eternity to redeem a people for Himself and to make all things new for His own glory.
When we talk about Worship songs, we have to begin with understanding that WORSHIP is the act of ascribing worth and giving honor to God. It is an intentional process that is reflected in our whole lives, not just in the songs we sing (see Romans 12:1-2) and is our primary purpose, or as the Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it:
“The chief end of man is to Glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.”
When we look at the songs we sing that reflect this first article from the FEFC statement of faith, we look at how we rightly describe His nature. The songs that we sing should serve as reminders as we gather of the nature and character of God now and throughout time. One such song that is like that here at First Free is “He is our God” from Sovereign Grace Music.
In Verse One, we see how God is the creator-God of the universe
In Verse Two, we remind each other that He is sovereign over all earthly powers
In Verse Three, we declare to one another that He is the author of our salvation, in spite of our sin.
In the Chorus, we acknowledge that God is Holy, Worthy, unlike all others, and the only true object of our worship.
In the Bridge, we sing that He is still on His throne, He is eternal, and that He is the source of our salvation.
No one song will succinctly summarize all of what we believe regarding any of these articles. That being said, the point of this series is to show how the songs we sing reflect what we believe. Next week, we’ll talk about our second article of the faith regarding the Word of God. On Tuesday you can watch the video on our YouTube page (with a link on Facebook) and on Thursday we will be back with another song that reflects THIS WE BELIEVE.
For His Glory,
This we believe
One of my favorite quotes about the music we use during our regular gatherings as a church is from theologian Gordon Fee. It’s a simple quote, but gets right to the point:
“Show me a church’s songs, and I’ll show you their theology.”
For those who are responsible for choosing the songs that a church sings, this quote shows the gravity of that task each week. There is significant value in choosing music that resonates with your congregations, and often the popular music from the local Christian Radio station holds a lot of influence in the selections Worship Leaders schedule in their local context. Even so, carefully examining the music we fill our car-rides, our homes, and our churches should be a regular part of our Christian walk.
In the coming weeks, here at “Worship Notes” and at the FEFC Video blog “From the Desk” we will be talking about what we believe, a brief explanation of our statement of faith and how some of the songs we sing reflect that belief. For churches throughout history, one of the signature aspects of their worship was a corporate declaration of what they believed in the form of “Creeds.” While many churches no longer incorporate this into their gatherings today, it still does us good to remember that THIS WE BELIEVE. It helps us refine what we say we believe and protects us from the false doctrine that so easily slips from the culture into our churches.
Join me in praying for this series as we dive in to God’s word and the music we sing!
For His Glory,
In the Quiet, In the Stillness
As many of you already know, I’ve been listening to a lot of “older” worship songs in the past few weeks. We do live in a culture that often values things that are new simply because they are new, and while there have been some truly excellent songs written in the past few years, I have found great joy in re-visiting and discovering for the first time some of the great songs of the past in our worship as a church. Some of these beloved songs have made me pause and reconsider using them even today, others have merely caused me to pause and pray over the lyrics that I have sung for years.
One such song is “In the Secret,” originally performed by Andy Park and Vineyard Worship. Here are the lyrics:
In the secret in the quiet place
In the stillness you are there
In the secret in the quiet hour
I wait only for you, 'Cause i want to know you more
I want to know you / I want to hear your voice
I want to know you more
I want to touch you / I want to see your face
I want to know you more
I am reaching for the highest goal
That I might receive the prize
Pressing onward, pushing every hindrance aside
Out of my way, 'Cause i want to know you more
The simple lyrics echo my heart’s desire to “Be still and know that [God] is God” (Psalm 46). So often in the frantic busy-ness of our days we only take moments to be still, if at all. We listen to our Bible readings on our commute, we multi-task while listening to our favorite Podcasts, we hastily give thanks for a meal in prayer before diving in to eat… we do not find still moments.
One of the greatest challenges we find in this modern age is finding time to open our Bibles for sustained time of meditation on God’s word and prayer. As I’ve thought on the lyrics and sung through the song, I’m reminded that we all need to find more time to get to know God through His word, and to spend time letting it set in our hearts and minds.
For His Glory,
For such a Time as this...
We are a people of story-tellers. Through our stories we are transported to other times and other places, to see the world through someone else’s eyes, to go beyond our daily life into something more. To be sure many are told simply to entertain, however even in the most superficial of stories we find things that shape our world view, our understanding of one another and the world. Most importantly, as believers when we tell stories we are communicating the truths about God and the world He created.
I’m an easy mark for good story-telling, regardless of the medium. I become engrossed in the characters as they have situations thrust upon them they must find ways to overcome. The best stories inspire us to do likewise… and some of the best stories are found in the pages of the Bible itself – God’s story of His creation and the ultimate redemption of His people. Along the way there are a myriad of stories that rival and surpass the best Hollywood has ever offered.
Starting this week here at FEFC, Pastor Bill and I will begin a series of sermons entitled “For such a time as this…” while Pastor Rob is on Sabbatical. Each week, we will explore a different story from the Old Testament. Far more than mere historical accounts, these are stories that capture the imagination and challenge us to emulate the men and women that God has called according to His plan. Through it all we learn not only something about these stellar individuals from the annals of biblical history but of the consistent and trustworthy character of God. And in these strange times, we certainly need to take the time to remind each other of God’s supreme faithfulness!
For His Glory,
Choose to Worhip
A couple of songs have been rattling around my head the past few days, coming to my mind as I’ve considered all that is happening in our city, our nation, and the world. My wife and I enjoy collecting memes as we find them throughout the day and sharing them with each other at the end of the day, and of course a recurring them for the past few months has been the growing realities of the COVID-19 Corona virus. Whether it is masks, vaccines, ventilators, politicians, or quarantine behaviors the ongoing pandemic permeates every aspect of our culture… to be sure, we don’t need clever picture captions to be reminded that the world is a stranger place than we thought it would be at the beginning of the year!
Through it all, I’ve been reminded of the same two song… “I Choose to Worship” and “The Joy of the Lord,” both by Irish worship leaders “Rend Collective.” Both songs hold a similar theme: though there is uncertainty, doubt, and even in fear I will still worship. Our strength is found not in confidence in the circumstances around us but in the unfailing, unchanging, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present God.
Here in Colorado Springs, we are looking at the possibility or returning to our “Safer at Home” policies given the COVID numbers in our county. After having some of those restrictions lifted or eased in the past month, I am certain that I am not alone in looking at that possibility with no small degree of frustration. Perhaps that is why God is bringing to mind these two songs for the “soundtrack” playing in my head. Our strength and confidence is not found in the certainty of tomorrow but in the certainty of the Cross and the God of our salvation. What fear should I have for tomorrow when I know who holds tomorrow in His hands?
My prayer for myself, my family, my church, and believers throughout the nation and the world is that we find Joy, we find confidence, and we find courage in knowing that God is in Control. My prayer is that we do not choose to fear, do not choose to speak hastily, do not choose to give in to the anxiety-filled world around us but that we Choose to Worship. We choose to remind ourselves (and others) that in a world of Chaos we have a God of Order. In world and culture that is becoming increasingly hostile to one another, we serve the Prince of Peace that brings Unity through the Cross.
Brothers and Sisters, we are not given a spirit of fear but one of power and love and self control as we rest in the truth about our world and about our God that is found in His Word (2 Timothy 1:7). Rest in the Truth, rest in the God of Truth… Choose to Worship.
For His Glory,
I’ve been a fan of the worship music duo “Shane and Shane” for some time now, particularly their acoustic arrangements. Their “Worship Initiative” series has been helpful in showing worship leaders around the world how they can adapt a song to a smaller sound, as most churches don’t have access to the same instrumentation or musician that many recording artists use when they release their music. I have been grateful for the work they do in creating resources for churches everywhere with their intentional approach to leading worship, not merely creating music.
Last Friday (July 10), Shane and Shane released a new album full of classic worship songs entitled Vintage Worship. Each of the 10 songs on this list inspires a sensory memory of some of the foundational times in my own walk with Christ, where I gathered with other teens my age and raised voices and hands in worship. Perhaps my favorite track is the arrangement of the Ron Kenoly classic from the early 90s “Ancient of Days.” It has an explosive energy that brings this nearly 30-year classic right into the musical language of this year. I’ve included a link to their “Songs from Home” arrangement at the bottom of this blog so that you can listen for yourself!
From time to time, churches will wrestle with singing songs that are new versus old. We as Christ-followers should be constantly looking for ways to worship our creator-savior-God, and there are some truly excellent songs written in the past few years to help facilitate that corporate worship together. However, albums like Vintage Worship remind us that some of these older songs certainly deserve to be re-vitalized and brought back to our regular worship! They remind us of the times when God was particularly at work in our lives and often call us back to worship in times of turmoil. What a great album for times such as this, I encourage you all to give it a listen!
For His Glory,
Christians in Community
One of the passages I return to continually is Colossians 3:16-17
Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. In whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Col 3:16-17 CSB)
What a beautiful picture of the church, gathering together in the name of Christ, calling one another to righteousness. Many of you know that for the past few months, it has been heavy on my heart that one of the greatest dangers present during quarantine was the lack of that fellowship. Without fellow believers around us to encourage and admonish us, the process of putting to death the old self and putting on the new becomes significantly more difficult.
I have seen people turn away from a life influenced by scripture in the past year, partially because they had intentionally removed themselves from the fellowship of believers who would call them to righteousness – how thankful am I that I am surrounded by people who call me to more Christ-like living! We as followers of Christ are to function as believers in community… which means during Quarantine or times apart we need to be so much more intentional about reaching out to one another. Be transparent with one another, call each other to sanctified living (and be ready to receive the same input from others), and find ways of building one another up!
With many states talking about resuming some of the restrictions, I encourage all of you make time for (social distanced) discipleship together. Challenge a friend to read through the Gospel of John or an epistle, go through a video series together using a YouTube party app, take a moment to pray specifically for one another – not just a vague prayer but bringing specific requests to God from one another’s life. This is discipleship. This is Christianity. This the way we are called to live.
For His Glory,
One of the essential purposes of the church is to worship together. In our gatherings we sing, we pray, we sit under the teaching of God’s word, we call one another to righteousness, and we testify what God has done – not just for the world but in each of our lives. On Sunday, we will sing the Chris Tomlin arrangement of “Amazing Grace,” and the first verse of that Hymn is still my favorite:
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.
The Gospel story is one of transformation, to show that we were once one way but through the grace of God and the power of the Spirit we are being renewed into the likeness of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. What joy it is to remember the cross! What delight it is to share with others how we are not now what we once were. We are also observing the Lord’s Supper this week at FEFC. The very act of communion is a rite of remembrance. During the very first Lord’s Supper, Jesus commanded us to “Do this in remembrance of Me.” (Luke 22:19)
We are a people who remembers.
We remember what God has said.
We remember what God has done.
We remember that God is the creator of the Universe.
We remember that God regularly displays his power over the world.
We remember that though we rebelled, justly earning condemnation, God provided a path to reconciliation.
We remember that while we were still Sinners – Christ died for us.
We remember who God is, we remember who we were, and we remember who we are because of Jesus Christ.
As we remember, we tell others.
As we prepare to worship this week, I call all of you to take time to ponder all that God has done for you and for the world and share it with your friends, your family, and your community.
For His Glory,
Lord, let Your Kingdom Come
About five years ago I was introduced to the song “Kingdom Come” by Kings Cross Church in London. I was struck by the prayerful tone of the lyrics, calling out to God that we would see things here on earth as it was in Heaven. The song became a regular part of my personal worship, singing the chorus as a refrain during times of prayer for God’s people. I would pray for the church, and then sing “Let Your kingdom / May your will be done / Lord, let Your kingdom come!”
The song lyrics reflect Romans 8, where Paul is reminding the Roman Christians that all of creation had been impacted by Sin and is groaning, longing for the restoration that will come only with Christ’s return. We often think about how our Sin impacts our lives, but the truth of scripture shows us that all of creation was fundamentally changed as a result of Adam’s sin (Genesis 3:14, 17-18) and that just as our souls cry out for redemption and restoration, so too does the very world we live in.
As I look out at our culture and society today, it seem clear all of creation is crying out in anguish over our fallen state. So much more, then, do the words I sing become my earnest prayer, “Lord, let Your kingdom come!” How I long for that day “when all injustice will bow / every voice will cry out / Holy is Your Name!” No matter the injustice, the harm, the pain, the sorrow…the answer is not new policies nor government. It is not new leadership nor large-scale apologies. The answer is when all the earth bows the knee and acknowledges that Jesus Christ is Lord. This Sunday, we will sing this song as a church. I invite you all to pray this with me every day.
For His Glory,
Zach Kellner is the Associate Pastor of Worship at FEFC