Sing to the Lord a New Song

Jimi Williams —  October 29, 2009

Recently I received an interesting question for an upcoming panel discussion:

What is and is not the “new song” referred to in Isaiah 42:10 and Psalm 96:1?

Interesting question. I’ve heard many worship leaders quoting these Scriptures, mostly before they introduce a new song to the congregation. However, digging a little deeper into these verses reveals that there’s something deeper being said.

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Shout Of The King

Matt Maher —  September 24, 2009

In the book of Numbers, chapter 22-23, there is the story of Balaam, a non Israelite soothsayer. Everyone knows the part about how God used a talking donkey to reach him, but the rest of the story is just as interesting. He was asked repeatedly to give a curse towards the Israelites, but all three times, he came back with blessing for the people of God.

In the second of these oracles, Balaam says, “God is not man that he should speak falsely, nor human, that he should change his mind. Is he one to speak and not act, to decree and not fulfill? It is a blessing I have been given to pronounce; a blessing which I cannot restrain. Misfortune is not observed in Jacob, nor misery seen in Israel. The LORD, his God, is with him; with him is the triumph of his King.” It goes on, but that last line, “with Him is the triumph of His King” in other translations says, “the shout of the King with them…

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First, we have to realize that God cares about our dreams and aspirations, because He’s the one who gave them to us. The most content people in the world are those who’ve given everything they have to God with no questions asked. Total surrender. These people end up seeing their dreams come true because they’ve stopped trying to please people, and they live to please God. Can you imagine living that way? Well, you can!

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We all know that God is omnipresent. It’s a very real fact. He’s everywhere. He has the ability to reach into situations unknown to us. Right now, there are billions of problems throughout the globe; a child soldier in Africa is forced to kill, a street sweeper in Bangladesh has no hope, a teen age girl in Romania is suffering from deep shame after aborting her child. There are problems across the street too. Your neighbor lost their job or their marriage is on the rocks. God knows everyone’s story, and He cares so much!

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Jimi Williams —  August 3, 2009

“O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together.” Psalm 34:2-4.

I confess up front that I lifted this thought from my pastor in a message he gave yesterday. But it was so encouraging to me, I thought it worth the shame to share it!

The word “magnify” in this verse is the Hebrew word “gadal”, which means to grow or make greater. Now on first look, it would appear that the psalmist is encouraging us to “grow” the LORD or make him bigger than He is.

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I was reading through the first couple chapters of Nehemiah today and realized how many great leadership lessons there are to learn from our Biblical contractor.

1. Nehemiah had a passion for people first, church second. It says in chapter 1 verse 2 that Nehemiah questioned Hanani about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. In ministry, we often get these two things reversed. We have a passion first for our ministry and second for the people. This often leads to “using” our flock to accomplish our ministry goals.

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One of the most challenging Scriptures in the Epistles is Galatians 1:10 when Paul says, “Am I now trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Paul is writing in the context of preaching the full Gospel. Parts of the Gospel message were offensive to listeners. And it required great courage for him to preach the whole Gospel and not just the parts that were easy to swallow.

As a servant of Christ, we are called to please one person – Jesus Christ.

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Holy Discontentment

Jimi Williams —  April 17, 2009

God will never settle for anything but the best for us. Our human nature is to latch on to something good and predictable and ride it as long as we can: a great worship experience, an intimate small group, a safe and easy Christian life.

But God is on the move and if we want to ride with him, we must move as well. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “He is no tame lion”. In the story The Last Battle, King Tirian makes the statement, “Let us push ahead and see what adventure awaits us.” That should be every Christian’s attitude…

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Ending on the 4 Chord

Jimi Williams —  October 16, 2008

A really simple way to dip your toe into free worship is to end a song on the 4 chord. If you are playing in the key of G, that means ending on a C chord, or better yet a C2 chord, which is a C chord with an added D note.

Continue to strum the chord and encourage your congregation to speak out the names of God. You and your worship team may have to help get them started – “Almighty”, “Everlasting”, “Jehovah Jireh”, “Prince of Peace”, etc. You can even alternate back in forth between the 4 chord (C) to the 5 chord (D) for a little variation.

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I’m constantly reminded how much the success of our worship services hinges on the small things that most people don’t notice. Unless, of course, they are not done well, then everyone notices!

Nobody thinks much about lighting until the stage goes black in the middle of a song. Very few people compliment the sound tech if the sound is perfect. And nobody thanks the lyric projection person for anticipating the next lyric so that singing is not interrupted.

I’m amazed that even at large worship events, there are problems getting the right lyric on the screen. There’s nothing more awkward than that moment where the band drops out and the worship leader exhorts everyone to sing out, but nobody knows the lyric! Instead of a powerful statement of praise, you get “waaa bbaa eeeooo”.

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