Worship Thoughts: The Solid Rock

As a worship pastor at my local church [New Life], I get the privilege of piecing together a selection of songs each week that can be collectively sung by a group of people in worship. In a very real sense, the songs we sing together represent what we believe about God. They make up the voice of our people collectively.

As I have grown as a leader of worship, I’ve really seen the importance of what it means to tap into the voice of our particular group of people and make sure that what we are singing is an accurate reflection of what our people believe and what we are going through. This is why I am passionate about writing songs for our church to sing corporately as well as bringing in more mainstream songs.

I believe that it’s really important to make sure that we sing things that give an accurate view of what it really means to follow Christ. Yes… it’s a lot of fun to get excited and sing at the top of our lungs about how awesome it is to be in love with God… how every day is better than the last… how our joy is overwhelming. But, the reality is, if you follow Christ for more than a few years, you’ll find yourself in seasons that make you wonder, if every day is supposed to be better than the last, then why am I experiencing so many increasingly worse days right now?

I find great solace in some of the hymns of our faith that, thankfully, are being brought back into our church’s voice.

One of the hymns that most resonates with me as I lead our church body is The Solid Rock.

I had sung this song countless times in my life. But, it wasn’t until this past year that I began to identify with it.

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on his unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood, support me in the whelming flood. When all around my soul gives way, he then is all my hope and stay.

On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand

As we have found ourselves on this messy journey of fostering and adoption over the past year and a half, I’ve found that I have been relating to the Lord in a completely different way than I did before. As we swim in a sea of uncertainty and deal with behaviors in our child and in our own hearts that we wouldn’t have imagined dealing with at any point in our life, I find it difficult to sing songs that tell only one side of the story.

There is little hope for me to sing “every day with you is sweeter than the day before”… because all that makes me do is doubt that this God exists… or better yet, feel guilty that my life doesn’t match those lyrics.

But, when I can stand [or lay flat on my face] and muster up the words “when all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay”, I’m reminded of the bigger picture.

I can honestly worship a God that calls us to hard things and brings us through what seems like end-of-the-world storms… and be left with nothing else to say but, “All my hope is in You. All my strength is in You.”

It has been a beautiful thing to stand in front of a group of people whose stories I know… Parents dealing with bringing kids from hard places into their family and wondering where the light at the end of the tunnel is… Couples searching frantically for jobs and coming up dry… Women struggling to see the goodness of the Lord in light of their recent miscarriage… Students seeing for the first time that this world is broken. And yet, when we begin singing this song… when those different voices with all sorts of different stories combine, I can feel the energy from our people. A desperate cling to the hope found in our Savior.

It’s a really tremendous thing to be able encounter.

May our churches be filled with sounds and words that resonate with where we are and that point us to a God that is firm through the fiercest droughts and storms.

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Lead Us Back

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The words of this song have been wreaking havoc on my soul as of late.

This photo is inspired from the lyrics.

Falling down upon our knees
Sharing now in common shame
We have sought security
Not the cross that bears Your name
Fences guard our hearts and homes
Comfort sings a siren tune
We’re a valley of dry bones
Lead us back to life in You

Lord we fall upon our knees
We have shunned the weak and poor
Worshipped beauty, courted kings
And the things their gold affords
Prayed for those we’d like to know
Favor sings a siren tune
We’ve become a talent show
Lead us back to life in You

You have caused the blind to see
We have blinded him again
With our man-made laws and creeds
Eager, ready to condemn
Now we plead before Your throne
Power sings a siren tune
We’ve been throwing heavy stones
Lead us back to life in You

We’re a valley of dry bones
Lead us back to life in You
We’ve become a talent show
Lead us back to life in You
We’ve been throwing heavy stones
Lead us back to life in You

w/m: Bobby Gilles & Brooks Ritter
Sojourn Community Church
Listen here.

My new favorite song…

So, you know how every once in a while, you come across a song that just hits the spot? You find yourself just pushing the back button on your ipod when there are only like 5 seconds left and just listening to it all over again…

Well… that has been this song for me! Sara Groves is rockin’ my world with her song “When The Saints”. I mean, any time I find a song that molds social justice stuff with a Hammond organ and a gospel choir in the background, you know a brother has got to smile! But snap… read these lyrics and see if it doesn’t get you krunk…

But more importantly, you should get this CD and add it to your collection, because it is well worth the money, even if it were for this song alone.

Lord I have a heavy burden of all I’ve seen and know
It’s more than I can handle
But your word is burning like a fire shut up in my bones
and I cannot let it go

And when I’m weary and overwrought
with so many battles left unfought

I think of Paul and Silas in the prison yard
I hear their song of freedom rising to the stars
And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them

Lord it’s all that I can’t carry and cannot leave behind
It often overwhelms me
When I think of all who’ve gone before me and lived the faithful life
Their courage compells me

And when I’m weary and overwrought
with so many battles left unfought

I think of Paul and Silas in the prison yard
I hear their song of freedom rising to the stars

I see the shepherd Moses in the Pharoh’s court
I hear his call of freedom for the people of the Lord

And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them
And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them

I see the long quiet walk along the Underground Railroad
I see the slave awakening to the value of her soul

I see the young missionary and the end of the spear
I see his family returning with no trace of fear

I see the long hard shadows of Calcutta nights
I see the sisters standing by the lepers side

I see the young girl huddled on the brothel floor
I see the man with a passion come and kicking down the door

I see the man of sorrows and his long troubled road
I see the world on his shoulders and my easy load

And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them