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» A Sermon on the Hymn Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder

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I had the privilege of preaching this sermon to my local church family on Sunday, July 5th, 2009

Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder: The Proper Response to the Gospel
Selected Scriptures
Do you ever notice the tiny little font that runs across the top of our worship songs? That’s the place where we put author and credit information. It’s purposefully small so as not to detract from the lyrics which we are seeking to engage with as we sing. It’s also small to fight the tendency to exalt songwriters or authors for the gifts they have used in giving us tools to move our hearts and minds towards God. This morning I’m going to go against that trend and make the tiny font of our last hymn huge by spending an entire sermon telling you about the hymn’s author and how it instructs and encourages us in worship. Why would I spend time telling you about the life of a Christian and pointing out the Biblical truths that are present in His song?

Because we are commanded to teach one another through our songs and to sing with understanding. ... (continue reading...)

» John Newton on Writing Hymns

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In preparation for a sermon this Sunday I came across this wonderful little piece of advice by my favorite hymn-writer, John Newton. This comes from the preface to his collection of hymns, Olney Hymns.
There is a style and manner suited to the composition of hymns, which may be more successfully, or at least more easily attained by a versifier than by a poet. They should be hymns, not odes, if designed for public worship, and for the use of plain people. Perspicuity (clarity), simplicity, and ease, should be chiefly attended to.

I wholeheartedly agree with Newton. The most successful hymns have just enough poetry to satisfy the artistic sensibilities of those inclined to notice such devices, but no so much that the average, unlearned person would have a difficult time understanding the meaning. Newton could at times be justly condemned for oversimplification, even very bad poetry (or versification), especially when compared to his co-writer William Cowper, a poet par-excellence.

» A Sermon on "And Can It Be"

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My latest sermon from our hymn memory project is available on-line now:

And Can It Be: Wondering at Free Grace

» The Pitfalls of Family Worship

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The
      Precedent
      Priority
      Practice
      Pitfalls
of Family Worship

Family Worship is a Discipline
In the book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Don Whitney, the author spends the first chapter exploring the nature of discipline and reiterates the Biblical call to “discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness.” (1 Tim 4:7) In an age when many of us (especially my generation) have not been raised in a disciplined home or had a disciplined lifestyle instilled in us, discipline in any area can be challenging, whether it is finances, home maintenance, or spiritual disciplines like private worship. Family worship is like private worship: if we aren’t convinced of its value and don’t plan for it to happen, chances are it won’t happen very often. Until you form a habit and your time begins to feel like a natural part of family life, meeting together for worship may be difficult. You may be easily distracted by the urgent needs of the day that you are “neglecting” by taking time for family worship. Your children may have a... (continue reading...)

» Share Reformed Praise with a Postcard

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When we launched our new website at the end of April we had some postcards made up to help us promote it. Since we have several hundred left over, I'm offering them to whoever can make use of them. You could hand them out to your worship leader, pastor, friends... really to anyone you'd like to share our site with. Just use our contact page to drop us a note requesting postcards (specify how many) and we'll gladly mail them to you at no charge. Of course, if you'd like to leave a donation to help cover postage we won't turn you down!

Here is the postcard:


» A Description of Public Worship

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I thought it might be helpful to share a paragraph that I wrote on the purpose of public worship that's included on the front of our Sunday bulletin each week:

You have come to our fellowship of worship, otherwise known as the public worship service. This is a special time of the week in which we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ who rose from the dead on a Sunday morning. We celebrate by worshipping the God of the Bible together; the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Worship involves more than just being present at today's service; it is the inner attitude of our hearts as we seek, with the Spirit's help, to turn our attention to God's character and works and respond appropriately with our whole beings: our minds, bodies, and hearts. Though worship is a blessing to us, our primary task this morning is to give God the praise and glory that He deserves. God is present when His people gather and His Word is proclaimed and we pray that you will sense His presence with us today.

» The Practice of Family Worship

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The
      Precedent
      Priority
      Practice
      Pitfalls
of Family Worship

When to have a family worship time
Lord willing these articles have been convincing you of your need to meet with your family or household regularly to worship God. When should you do this? Unfortunately there is no simple, pat answer that will be work for every household. Instead of trying to come up with a standard time of day that we all meet for family worship, it is more important for you find a time of day that works for your family and plan that time into your routine. Put it on the family calendar, the weekly agenda, or however else you plan your family life. Strive to plan a time when the whole family can be together, including Dad. Feel free to be creative with your time and piggyback it onto a meal, during driving time (as long as there is a reader who isn’t driving or you can listen to the Bible on CD!), or while dinner is in the oven. If you... (continue reading...)

» The Priority of Family Worship

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The
      Precedent
      Priority
      Practice
      Pitfalls
of Family Worship

Family Worship and Parenting
The Bible contains everything we need to know about how to live life this side of eternity for God’s glory (2 Peter 1:3) but doesn’t go into specifics for many of the details of our lives. This is the case with our job as parents – God has not given us many specifics about what’s involved in raising children such as what their education in the world is to look like, what standard of living we should seek to give them, what kinds of skills they should learn, or what kind of schedule infants should be on. So when He does give specifics we should take great care to seek to be obedient in these areas. Deuteronomy 6 :4-9 is one of those passages:
“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you... (continue reading...)

» A New Project from Eric & David

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Update - the finished hymn texts are now available

We’d like to let you in on a project that Eric and I have begun and also make a request for your support of this endeavor. We have begun writing hymns on God’s attributes. Why write hymns on God’s attributes? Aren’t most good hymns about some facet of God’s character? I have been involved in choosing songs for corporate worship for nearly fifteen years and have often had a difficult time finding songs that taught much about a particular attribute of God. Eric recently preached through the attributes of God and for every sermon was on the lookout for hymns that tied into the specific attribute he was preaching on but to little avail. There are many wonderful hymns about God’s character in general, but they normally mention a few different aspects of God and do not explore one in detail. An example of this is the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy.” It teaches that God is holy (the title), merciful, mighty, glorious and worthy of praise (this is inferred by the picture of heavenly worship), everlasting, self-sufficient, loving, and all-powerful. ... (continue reading...)

» The Precedent of Family Worship

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The
      Precedent
      Priority
      Practice
      Pitfalls
of Family Worship

Before discussing the precedent of family worship we should define what is meant by the term. Family worship is the gathering of a household to turn their attention to encountering and responding to God together. It is the regular practice of believers gathering in the place where they live to read and apply God’s Word, sing His praises, and pray together. It is a practice that is constantly under attack from our suburban lives. We face the unspoken pressure to fill our schedules so that we might measure up to those around us and live productive lives that serve and honor God in various ways. But far too often we buy in to the world’s definition of productivity instead of remembering what Jesus taught Martha in Luke 10.

Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord's feet, listening to His word. But... (continue reading...)


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