Backward verse of the day (#6)

Paul talks a great deal about “boasting.” Boasting for Paul though usually entails a sense of self-reliance before God, not a braggadocious spiritual arrogance. When Paul boasts, then, he wants to boast in the things that honor God and not himself. But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.–Galatians 6:14 Paul is not concerned about looking good. He loves to make God look good. So he boasts in God at the one place where Paul’s sin and need look the worst and God’s goodness looks the best: the cross.

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Cincinnati Metro Now Ohio’s Largest Metropolitan Region

Recent census data has revealed that the 7 county Cincinnati metro has surpassed Cleveland in terms of overall population, clocking in a 2,133,678 people. We’re getting ready to add to that number this summer. The region gained 12,550 people, compared to Cleveland’s decline of 8808. This is very exciting news for us, because growing population centers bode well for new churches as people moving into an area are in flux; churches provide stability and relationships. We have also been studying intently two areas of need in Cincinnati: the west end and more recently Mt. Auburn. From what can be gathered from zipskinny, the west end is about 80% or more African American with great concentrations of poverty. Mt. Auburn is a little more diverse, with about a 50/50 ratio of black to white and greater diversity of economic factors. Mt. Auburn is much more dense and has about 5 times…

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Worship Leadership Series (part eight): How to Butcher a Good Hymn

This series will now take an undoubted turn into the more practical elements of worship leading. Upcoming topics include leading a contemporary band, instrumentation, managing worship practices, developing your musicians, and the art of leading a worship service. One of my favorite things to do is to breathe fresh new life into old hymns. Many have attempted to do this and about half as many butcher the classics. A word of caution: just because it’s old doesn’t make it good. Many old hymns are just as trite as contemporary music; they just used bigger words while doing it. The number one way to butcher an old hymn is this: screwing up the rhythm. It sounds simple enough, but there’s actually a complicated reason for this phenomena. It will require a little history. Music has two basic elements: meter (rhythm) and melody. European classical music heavily emphasized melody. The timing of…

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Why I Love the Resurrection

I love the resurrection. John 20:9 says this concerning the disciples on resurrection morning: “yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.” The fact that Jesus must rise from the dead indicates a certain purpose and accomplishment entailed in the necessity. The resurrection points to an overall purpose in the life of Jesus. He was born to die. And he was killed in order to be raised. And he was raised in order to reign forever. His resurrection means something for us, too. Paul says, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Cor 15:17). Furthermore, Paul says in Ephesians 2 regarding Christians these four things: 1. “You were dead.” (vs 1) 2. “But God…made us alive” (5) 3. God “raised us up”(5) 4. God “seated us with him.” (6) As Christians, our story…

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Worship Leadership Series (part seven): Develop a Set List

Successful radio stations have implemented the set list principle for decades. The basic idea is this: people like to hear songs that they know. Likewise, people have a limited tolerance level for hearing and becoming familiar with music they don’t know. Thus, radio stations have gone to a “top 40” format or even a “top 20” format. These stations do this because if you tune in to their station for 10 or 15 minutes in the car, you’re going to hear a song that you know and will likely continue to listen. New songs are introduced incrementally. This is a great principle for worship music. A classic worship leader mistake is to hear a new song, love it, and lead it that Sunday in church. Good worship leaders have more discipline than this. Here’s my formula: have 2 months worth of music in your set list. If you normally sing…

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Knowing God’s Will

I was struck recently while reading through 1 and 2 Corinthians with how many times the word conscience appeared in some form or another. It appears 8 times in 1 Corinthians, 3 times in 2 Corinthians, and 6 more times in the 2 books of Timothy and Titus, and 3 times in Romans. But what does it really mean? Conscience, according to Paul, is how we live according to God’s will.

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Other People That I Agree With

Michael Foster is a church planter in Cincinnati who recently posted this about a worship band he likes. Many of the thoughts that I’ve been expounding upon at length are summarized on his blog.

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Worship Leadership Series (part six): Where to Find Good Songs

In this post, I’m going to make some recommendations for CDs and songwriters that I respect and appreciate. Good worship songs are hard to find. When I was first learning to lead worship with Campus Crusade for Christ, I was given this hint for choosing songs: they had to be (1) singable, (2) playable, meaning that you had to be able to play it on the guitar, and (3) have good content. But worship music is becoming more and more sophisticated and worship leaders are discovering that people have a high threshold for musical complexity in worship music. This is great, because you can only go so far with 3 guitar chords. Let me begin with a disclaimer: the recommendations in this post are not exhaustive, but they are road ready, having been tested on my own congregation. Every worship set is like a meal: you need to have the…

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Backward verse of the day (#5)

This text changed my life. 2 Cor 12:7-10. So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. My Christian life, for many years, was comprised of performance: trying to be as good a Christian as I can be. The problem was,…

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