Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Worship Music as an Instrument for Salvation

C. H. Spurgeon on the selection of songs for the worship service:
I TRUST, my brethren, that we all feel very deeply the importance of conducting every part of divine worship with the utmost possible efficiency. When we remember that the salvation of a soul may hang, instrumentally, upon the choice of a hymn, we should not consider so small a matter as the selection of the psalms and hymns to be a trifle. An ungodly stranger, stepping into one of our services at Exeter Hall, was brought to the cross by the work of Wesley’s verse. — “Jesu, lover of my soul.” “Does Jesus love me?” said he: “then why should I live in enmity to him?”
From Lectures to My Students -- "On the Choice of a Text"

Please pray for Matt Howard and me as we plan the worship service each week -- including the selection of songs. We try to post them ahead of time each week at

He Killed His Son for Me

“I killed my Son for you.”

That is all. I hear nothing else.

That is all I need to hear.

Tears begin to well up in my eyes. Tears that have not been shed since Piper was diagnosed. Healing tears for my parched soul.

I cannot imagine losing one of my children. Read Bob Kauflin's post at Worship Matters about a family's "drabble" (see what that means - fictionally story) as they wrestle with God over the reality of their 14 year old who is dying of cancer. Here it is - "Drabble from the Depths."

Here is the song that is referred which is written by Bob Kauflin.

Out of the Depths - Sovereign Grace Music

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sermon - Pharisee or Tax Collector

Sermon from last Sunday, April 26th at Grace Church per

“Religion vs. Christ”The Pharisee and Tax Collector

Luke 18:9-14

Read or Listen to this sermon.

See Previous Sermons Here

Daniel Patz will be preaching May 3
Sunday School 9 AM; 10:30 AM Worship

Playing with Fire and John 15:6

Tony Cooper and me during the annual ritual of burning the Christmas Tree.

John 15:6 If anyone does not abide in me [JESUS] he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.

Help During a Miscarriage

During the winter, my sister had a miscarriage. She is young woman who loves the Lord and continues to suffer from the pain of this great loss. She is seeking to honor the Lord and grow in grace through this pain.

She sent me this very helpful article by Sue Nicewander and Jodi Jewell called Walking Through the Dark Valley of Miscarriage. My sister, April, said it has been a big help to her.

Almost everyone knows someone close who has miscarried. It is worth your read.

Here are some highlights of advice the article gives:
Walking Through the Dark Valley with Someone Who Has Had a Miscarriage

The following suggestions and principles may be used by believers in any setting to enhance biblical discipleship with someone who has experienced a miscarriage.

1. Listen Compassionately
Patiently listen without judging. Compassionate listening and careful questions are especially important with a mother who believes her pain has been dismissed as irrelevant or unimportant. Ruth comments, “I got the most help when people came beside me and grieved with me. When Christ said to mourn with those that mourn and rejoice with those that rejoice, He was right. It is very healing.”

2. Speak Carefully
Be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit to know when to speak and when to be quiet. Don’t say something just to make yourself feel useful or helpful. And don’t try to fix the situation by rationalizing the experience, trying to reason away the pain, explaining the unexplainable or offering solutions for the loss.

Avoid pat answers such as “It is God’s way of handling deformities,” “God loved your baby so much that He wanted the baby with Him in heaven,” “Well, at least you have your other child(ren),” “I know how you feel,” “God planned it this way,” “It wasn’t really a baby,” or “You can try again.” Such comments are not only insensitive, but they deny the inscrutable transcendence of our God who often does not choose to supply answers.

And please don’t say “I’m praying for you” unless you’re actually going to pray. Jodi said she became tired of hearing those words because she didn’t believe them. “I’ll pray for you” is a common Christian lie. Prove you are praying by immediately stopping to pray with the parents. Then let them know that you will continue to pray for them and how you are approaching God on their behalf. Periodically ask if they have further needs for which you may pray. Then pray.

3. Be Patient
Scripture allows for time to mourn (Eccl. 3:1,4,7). Give parents the time and pace they need to grieve. “Let the parent cry with you,” Jodi advises. “This is probably the most important thing you can do.” Rather than apologizing for your ineptitude when the mother’s tears flow, express your compassion at her suffering. Be careful to express sorrow rather than disapproval. Ruth was criticized for weeping, but she wisely answered from Psalm 56: “God knows of our tears. He even has a bottle to collect them. It is okay for me to grieve. I don’t have to pretend that everything is okay. I just lost my baby.”

4. Share the Word of God
Let the parents ask tough questions without condemning them. Guide them to base their questions on the true character of God, then search Scripture together for the answers. Scripture was important to everyone we interviewed, especially passages concerning God’s unfailing love and sovereignty. Here are many of the passages they mentioned to be a help: Ps. 25:16-18a Ps. 27:4-5 & 6b Ps. 28:7 Ps. 34:18 Psalm 100:5 Isa. 40:11 James 4:7 Job 41-43 Jer. 1:4-5 Rom. 8:18-27; 35-39 Hebrews 4:15-16 1 Peter 2:18-21

5. Offer Comfort
Give cards and words of love, but not too many words. Be sensitive without ignoring the pain. Matt affirms that “It was best not to say too much. Mostly I just wanted to know that people cared about us and were praying for us.” Be careful not to stay too long or to talk too much, even when offering Scripture. Suggest spiritual music and God-focused journaling…

6. Get More Help
Informal counseling offered by friends can be very effective when the counsel is biblical. Enlist other friends to take time to sit with the grieving parents, to be available at critical junctures, to listen without feeling compelled to talk, and to be prepared to offer timely help from Scripture.

Arrange for practical help, such as child care, laundry, meals, shopping, rides, and so forth. Offer specific help, not “Call if you need anything.” Encourage biblical counsel from a mature Christian who is familiar and comfortable. “I felt a paradox of desperately wanting counsel, but also feeling so vulnerable that I didn’t feel I could trust anyone new to give me the real truth,” says Anita.

  1. Identify the parents’ yearnings and questions.
  2. Help them express grief.
  3. Identify with their suffering. Point to God as our comforter.
  4. Be aware of self-pity and wallowing in anger, fear, or despair.
  5. Encourage them to build their relationship with God.
  6. Emphasize hope through worship.
  7. Work to strengthen the marriage.
  8. Show how they can minister to others who have suffered miscarriage.
Read the entire article here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Children's Worship Music

Yesterday during the worship service we sang a song that was first introduced to us by the kids' choir on Easter Sunday. The song is one of my kids' favorite -- "Mighty, Mighty Savior" by Mark Altrogge.

It comes from the Sovereign Grace Music kids cd called Awesome God. I highly recommend the cd and so do my 4 kids (including Barnabas - age 11 months). The theology is kid appropriate and rich. However, like any good song, the lyrics and music are edifying and enjoyable to the parents as well.

I have to admit that some of these songs (the music not lyrics) sounded a tad corny to me at first, but after listening to them a few times they grew on me. Now I love them.

Theologically, I love having my children learn words like these:

No one is good
No one is holy before God
I need someone to cleanse me
No one is pure
No one is righteous in Your sight
I need someone to save me
But I’m so glad You died and rose again
For helpless sinners like me

What a mighty, mighty Savior You are
What a mighty, mighty Savior You are
You can wash away my sin
You can change my heart within
What a mighty, mighty Savior You are

Sin is too strong
For me to conquer on my own
I need someone to help me
I am too weak
I cannot change my evil heart
I need someone to save me
But I’m so glad You died and rose again
For helpless sinners like me

You can buy this song at Sovereign Grace here for $.99 or the the entire cd for $8.

Here are the songs from the album. Great gift idea for friends and family...

Almighty Creator
Forever God
You Are Always with Me
Who Is Like You?
Sovereign One
Mighty Mighty Savior
Jesus Came to Earth
Your Love
Three in One
For You Are Holy
The Gospel Song
Have You Heard?