Hello from WorshipGod 13! #wge13

So, I’ve not done a good job of blogging!

But it’s been a blessing to be here. The worship, teaching, and fellowship have been wonderful. Plus, getting to go on campus at Southern was an added blessing. Hopefully, I can get a better recap posted soon, but for now here are some pics!






On The Road Again…headed to Kentucky #wge13


Besides a bad Willie Nelson song going thru my head, we are actually leaving for Louisville, KY late tonight.  (Personal note:  I probably know every word to that song, I went thru a brief Country Music period in the 6th grade and have since repented and received Biblical counseling. Healing has begun.)

We will be first visiting the campus of Southern Seminary and then attending the WorshipGod East 2013 conference put on by the fine folks of Sovereign Grace Music.  For years, we have found SGM’s music helpful in teaching, encouraging, and building up our church body.  This will be my 3rd WG conference, and they always do a great job.  I’m looking forward to great times of teaching, worship like none other, and general refreshment and whacky hi-jinks that will surely go on when we get away.

Several members of our church worship team are attending as well, and as an online/hybrid MDiv student, I’m excited to be on campus for the first time and meet a few professors that I’ve enjoyed in virtual class.

Are you going?  Shoot me a line or a tweet.

I will try to continue my tradition of posting daily summaries to this blog, so stay tuned!

WorshipGod11 – Day 2 – Part 1

Day 2 recap of the Sovereign Grace Music WorshipGod11 Conference held at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD.

Well, as my wife’s status said this morning — what a better way to spend a Thursday morning than praising God with 1,000+ of your good friends?  Man, she ain’t kidding.

Sovereign Grace does so many things well, one of them is put on conferences and they sure do a great job with the WorshipGod conferences.  It has all the elements of a perfect conference for me – great teaching, informative and relevant break-out sessions, hilarity from Mark Altrogge, total servant humility from Bob Kauflin, amazing musicians and worship, superior crowd flow control…and hey….a free lunch to boot.  Not to mention the weather is like post-card perfect here in Gaithersburg today.  Thank you God for your blessings!

We started out the morning session by catching the last few minutes of sound check.  I’m always encouraged when I see the “pros” run rehearsals the same way we “lay folks” do — just running the songs down, working on where this comes in and how many times we’ll repeat that…we were lead in worship by Rich Gunderlock and the Bairds.  I was familiar with the Bairds, but not Mr. Gunderlock…well he did a great job.  Really focused our attention on Christ – and synched the worship up perfectly with where Bryan Chappell was teaching – I love how we sang 2 songs after the teaching as a response to the Word – not to mention they were “Before the Throne of God Above” and “All I Have is Christ”  !

Here was their set:

Alive (Steve & Vikki Cook)
Isaiah 53 (Jonathan & Ryan Baird)
The Solid Rock (Traditional)
May Your Power Rest on Me (Joel Gerdis/Neil Robins)
Completely Done (Jonathan Baird/Ryan Baird/Rich Gunderlock)
Behold our God


Bryan Chappell, president of Covenant Theological Seminary,  and author of great books like Christ Centered Worship, spoke to us this morning…I haven’t heard him speak before, though I have read his worhsip book and loved it.

[NOTE: Sovereign Grace posted the audio here]

Dr. Chappell walked us thru Isaiah 6. Here are some quick bullets from my notes.

  • JS Bach example of let the message shape the music – God’s redemptive story in the gospel reflected in his use of major / minor key changes, etc.
  • The message shapes the worship – the gospel
  • God is leading Isaiah to understand the glory of God in Is 6
  • The marks of the great glory
    • Sovereign revelation of who God is – on the throne
      • Our lives seem undone but God reigns
    • High and lifted up: God is untouched by the taint of the world – holy
      • So holy – even the angels can’t endure – they cover their eyes/feet
      • Repeated 3x = words cannot contain his holiness
    • Woe is me: I am lost – the effects of glory on a person
      • “I can’t join that song – I’m not worthy of that” – Isaiah – ‘for I am a man of unclean lips’
      • Worship that prioritizes the glory of God leads people to humility
      • Deut 5:22 / 2 Chron 7:1-3
      • Glory revealed led to humility by necessity
      • Rom 11:33-12:3 / Rev 4:8
      • If we do not see our sin for the horror that it is we don’t see God’s glory for the greatness of what it is
    • Then the seraphim flew to him:  the message of the entire bible – that the infinite would be come intimate – holiness has been transferred. He touched his mouth.  With a coal from the altar – the fire from the altar goes out when Christ the Lamb is slain
      • We can now sing – the coal has touched our lips and made us pure
      • We can now serve (v8) –
  • Conclusion: God’s glory leads us to his Grace leads us to Mission – You see his glory (Mt. Sinai), you have his grace, now go live it.
    • You shall be careful therefore to do as the LORD your God has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.
      (Deuteronomy 5:32 ESV)
    • …if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
      (2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV)
    • Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
      (Romans 12:2 ESV)
    • It is what a believing heart longs to do – glory in God!

I then attended 2 excellent seminars – one by Sheri Gould on taking your worship team vocals to the next level, and the other by Craig Cabiniss on Worshiping God When Your World is Shaking.  Both excellent…I highly recommend getting the audio from Craig’s.  Sheri’s will be posted on her site I believe.

Now to go get some dinner before tonight’s session!


WorshipGod11 – The Gathering – Day 1


It’s finally here!  WorshipGod11  is the bi-annual conference put on by Sovereign Grace Ministries held at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD.  About 2,000 worship leaders/pastors/musicians gather for 3 1/2 days of worship, preaching, teaching, fellowship, and fun.

Our first day was great, I have the joy of attending with my wife this year and also 5 other couples from our church, including our new Sr. Pastor and his wife!  What a blessing.

We gathered for an amazing time of worship, singing many songs from the newest SG album – “Risen.”  Singing songs of praise to our heavenly father at these conferences is like nothing else to me.  The passion, energy and Holy Spirit are heavy in the air.

Then, Ray Ortland, Jr. spoke — I’ve only read snippets of quotes from him previously, so I was looking forward to hearing him speak.

He spoke on 2 Cor 3:1-18, primarily on v18.    And broke apart each phrase in v18.

  • We all gather – we gather to behold the glory of God.  No where is this more clear than in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  If there are things in our service that don’t fit in and point to Jesus, they need to come out! We get to do this week by week, where the works righteousness that we have built up during the week gets broken down.
  • Being transformed – sin has gone deep we need constant immersion in the gospel.  Are we being transformed? We should plainly see that something happened to us when Christ gave us new life – we should see the change. This change is really the early stirrings of the new heaven and the new Earth that we get to see and participate in now.  Ortlund gave a great quote from Edwards here:
    • ‘Such a work is, in its nature and kind, the most glorious of any work of God whatsoever,’ Edwards protests.  ‘It is the work of redemption (the great end of all the other works of God, and of which the work of creation was but a shadow). It is the work of new creation, which is infinitely more glorious than the old. I am bold to say that the work of God in the conversion of one soul… is a more glorious work than the creation of the whole material universe.’
  • Into the same image – we participate in this work – with God at our church, week by week.
  • It comes from the Lord – it is his work, not ours.  There is no “sanctify one another” found in scripture.
    • “I’m an idiot, my future is bright, and anyone can get in on this” – his church’s mantra.
  • Ortlund listed three conditions of God’s work on his terms:
    • Are we turning to the Lord, or are we just going to church?
    • Are we removing the veils or hiding behind them?
    • Is he being displayed as glorious or are we?
  • The ministry of the Gospel is a supernatural event – comes thru us but not OF us.
  • Our souls have senses – Eph 1:18 – open the EYES of my heart…
  • We cannot present God like he is able to be fully known, present the gospel as trivialized – it’s like dipping a spoon in the ocean and then saying “this is the ocean!”
  • We may have to suspend the horizontal connection (NFL, what’s for lunch) to connect vertically
  • Don’t just connect with one another – connect with Christ
  • Are we worshiping community or Christ?
  • Do people actually meet God when they are at church?  or just go to meet with each other?

Jesus, Thank You.

This last month has been one of those “major growth” periods.

It all comes down to Jesus and what He did on the cross to reconcile a sinner like me.  His love was deep enough to reach down all the way into my heart – all the way to the bottom – and save me.  Titus 3 struck me today as a great summary:

3For(F) we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4But when(G) the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5he saved us,(H) not because of works done by us in righteousness, but(I) according to his own mercy, by(J) the washing of regeneration and(K) renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6whom he(L) poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that(M) being justified by his grace we might become(N) heirs(O) according to the hope of eternal life.

Sovereign Grace Music writes tremendous songs that encourage and remind us of the Gospel.  They are cross-centered, Christ exalting wonderful songs – and one of my favs is “Jesus, Thank You”.  Bob K once said that in Heaven we’ll probably be around the throne of Jesus singing this for hours – I personally cannot wait for that moment!

Jesus, Thank You from Sovereign Grace Ministries on Vimeo.

In the Valley

I have been a fan of the “Valley of Vision” for a while now – I love to read it in the morning…usually right before I go to prayer and reading the Word.

I’m going thru a season now…a bit of a painful season. God is really digging up some painful things – that he wants to bring to the top of the pot and scoop away – but my bold (crazy?) prayer is that God not let the darkness/pain lift until I can soak in all the knowledge I can – to come thru this looking, smelling, acting more like His Son, Jesus.

28And we know that for those who love God all things work together(A) for good,[a] for(B) those who are called according to his purpose. 29For those whom he(C) foreknew he also(D) predestined(E) to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be(F) the firstborn among many brothers.

BEWARE! – you can’t look at v28 without v29!  That is the “good” – it’s not just the good for US – the “good” is our sanctification – I pray that I come out of this looking more like my Saviour!  So many folks stop at v28 and call it a day…

I also LOVE Sovereign Grace Music – they have written an entire album based on the Valley of Vision book.

One of my favorite tracks is “Valley of Vision” – the first cut on the album.  The point is that in the valley – in the lows of life – there is VISION – vision to see the Lord, his lessons – when we are broken and empty of ourselves – then he can use us – and he promises that he is near to the broken-hearted!  (Ps 34:18)


[Here is the original poem below from the book…]
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see thee
in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.

Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from
deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter
thy stars shine;
Let me find thy light in my darkness,
thy life in my death,
thy joy in my sorrow,
thy grace in my sin,
thy riches in my poverty,
thy glory in my valley.

(In case you need to click  directly to the YouTube video)

our focus in worship…

Clever video about what possibly goes on in our human minds during worship…thanks, Luke.

But…seriously.  What is your focus during worship?

How many times are we guilty of being late like this fellow with the weak arms and potentially rushing into the presence of the Lord.

I have blogged previously about Preparing to Worship, but what is your focus during worship?

I would jump in and say that this is a prime argument for always singing Biblically sound, theologically accurate, doctrine soaked songs.

I know of no better folks that write better songs then the folks at Sovereign Grace Music

We sang “O Great God”  (track #7 on the Valley of Vision CD)this past Sunday and I had a friend of mine come up to me and ask “What was that 2nd song we sang…the one with the lyrics that smacked me upside the head, they  were so powerful?!”

I would argue that our focus has to be a correct picture of God that reminds us of the message of Jesus Christ and his Gospel and teaches the doctrines we believe thru the lyrics of the songs.  There are many songs out there that do this, like SG, but unfortunately – there are many more that do not.

As Bob Kauflin likes to say —

Sing songs that say something

This song says something:

O Great God

O great God of highest heaven
Occupy my lowly heart
Own it all and reign supreme
Conquer every rebel power
Let no vice or sin remain
That resists Your holy war
You have loved and purchased me
Make me Yours forevermore

I was blinded by my sin
Had no ears to hear Your voice
Did not know Your love within
Had no taste for heaven’s joys
Then Your Spirit gave me life
Opened up Your Word to me
Through the gospel of Your Son
Gave me endless hope and peace

Help me now to live a life
That’s dependent on Your grace
Keep my heart and guard my soul
From the evils that I face
You are worthy to be praised
With my every thought and deed
O great God of highest heaven
Glorify Your Name through me