Yesterday was my final Sunday leading worship at The LIFEhouse Church in Rocklin, CA, so I had to pull out my favorite songs, right? Over the last six and a half years we’ve sung a lot of great worship songs, but these six are some of the most meaningful to me, and to our congregation, and they happened to work well with Pastor Stan Lubeck’s sermon on Revelation 9.
Here’s the list:
Everything Is Different – This is one of those Shane & Shane songs that I had heard several times and then one day while driving it suddenly struck me. The truth of the words…the DEPTH of the truth hit like I was hearing this truth for the first time: “He made a way when there was no way”! We were stuck in our sin, there was nothing we could do to get unstuck and save ourselves; there was no way out. None. But God made a way nonetheless. And that…changes EVERYTHING! We are set free! How can life be anything but glorious now that we have been forever set free from the bonds of sin? How can we live “normal”, everyday lives when we are aware of how Jesus died in our place and set us free. Does a freed slave ever live the way s/he did before? EVERYTHING is different. What an appropriate song for the week after Easter.
Lord I Need You – This is probably the song that our congregation has connected with most in recent months. What better prayer can we pray than to acknowledge wholeheartedly before God our need for Him, our utter dependence on Him? It’s when we consciously acknowledge our need for God that we are able to rely on Him, and live for Him. If we’re not aware of our need for God, we won’t be living for Him. Probably the highest goal in life is to live constantly in His presence, to “abide in Christ”. If we are living in such a way as to be aware of His presence, then we will certainly be aware of our dependence on Him. This is most common prayer.
Healer – A congregational favorite. A heartfelt, and moving song (even if you know the real story behind it). Nothing is impossible with God. What an incredible song of hope in the midst of trials. A triumphant song, really. We need more HOPE in our lives and in our worship services.
I Came Alive – This song is the cry of my heart! These lyrics say what my heart longs to say in a way that very few songs ever had. When we received Christ for the first time we entered into a New Life. We were truly born again. We are new creations, the old has gone and the new has come (2 Cor. 5:17). We weren’t really living until we were living in Christ. This song always makes me think of The Matrix. When Neo decided to take the red pill he was “awakened” from the dreamworld into Reality. When we are awakened to new life in Christ it’s like we’re breathing real air for the very first time. Our old reality is flat and pale and irrelevant. Life with Christ is filled with brilliant colors and fresh air and that sense of being fully alive, like never before.
No One Higher – One of the most natural ways to respond to worship God is by simply standing in awe of His Greatness, His Vastness, His Glory. I love songs like this that reflect on the fact that there is nothing bigger or better or greater than Him. And at the same time we get to reflect on His astounding mercy and love, and that He “is always with us, gracious to forgive us, by Your power we’ve been set free.”
Cornerstone – A beautiful blend of an enduring old hymn and a moving contemporary chorus, both proclaiming the centrality of Christ as the Cornerstone and Lord of All. I love to sing this song!
Here’s how the service went:
It’s the week after Easter – Jesus is alive! He is risen! Hope is alive! Everything is different. The world is new; our entire outlook has changed. We have hope! We have new life in Christ! Please stand and sing praise to the God of new life!
Everything Is Different
I know that most of us would agree with the idea that we need God that we can’t live this life successfully without the grace of God, without the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. But I want to spend a few minutes actually processing that, actually contemplating the depth our need – to the best of our ability.
Rom 3:23 spells it out for us clearly: “All have sinned, and FALL short of the glory of God.” We continue to fall short.
1 John 1:8 affirms – “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves”
But the good news, the gospel, is this:
2 Cor. 12:9 – “but He (the Lord) said to me “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Praise God that he is glorified even in our weakness! Let’s bring him glory now by acknowledging our weakness. You may want to hold in your mind a particular weakness which you want to lift up to God right now as we come before Him.
Lord I Need You
Lord, you are all that I need. Your grace is more than enough for me! Nothing Is impossible for You – You rose from the grave to prove that point! Thank You, God! Thank You for coming to seek and to save the lost! Amen!
As we sing this next song we have the privilege of bringing our tithes and offerings to God as an act of worship! The ushers will be passing the offering bags down the aisle so that we can join in this together. We do this here in the middle of our worship service because giving our tithes is just that – an act of worship. It’s a wonderful, tangible way to present our offerings and to proclaim to God that He is first in our lives, that He is more important than anything else!
It’s an act of gratitude. Is anybody here grateful to God this morning?! I am grateful that he reached down and pulled me out of the pit of self-centeredness (not that I don’t stumble back in at times, but He is always there to pull me out).
I’m grateful that we’ve been invited to participate not only in his death but in his resurrection!
I’m grateful that He called my name and chose to bring me into new life! To life abundant! We are free to live REAL life in Christ. After the offering bag has passed by, would you stand and sing this song of joy with us.
I Came Alive
(sermon) Revelation 9: When all the evil forces are released to wreck havoc on earth there is torment and terror and pain. There is devastation and loss of life on a scale that is hard to comprehend. When the Holy Spirit no longer restrains evil in this world, the consequences are beyond comprehension.
As we look at the end of times it’s helpful to remember who’s in charge; that we worship the God is above and beyond. The Great I Am. The Sovereign, Majestic, All–Mighty God! There is no one higher than Him. This is the one on whom we build our trust. Our confidence is in He who created the Earth, created the Heavens, created the Universe.
And yet – even as we consider His Greatness – we can’t ignore the fact that He loves us, each one of us! That He knit us together in the womb and He loves us so much that He gave up his own Son to die for us. His mercy and love is astounding! How can we do anything other than stand in awe of his Glory and sing His praise.
No One Higher