New Christmas Worship Music Roundup 2015

Plus Song Recommendations for Worship Planners


The latest print edition of Worship Leader Magazine features nine new Christmas releases for the 2015 season. Nine! Wow that’s a lot of content from some popular worship artists.

In this round-up I’ll share my brief thoughts of each project as a worship leader and service planner. Also I’ll highlight some songs that I would recommend using for corporate worship and why.

[You may also be interested in my articles on “Planning Powerful Worship Sets” and 7 Strategic Guidelines For Choosing New Worship Songs” ]

OK, here we go …  ho, ho, ho … 

What Worship Ministry Volunteers Need To Know About Biblical Worship

My Interview with Worship Team Coach on The Exceptional Worship Podcast

Listen to  Worship Team Coach interview me about my favorite topic: Biblical foundations of worship on the "The Exceptional Worship" podcast

You can listen to Worship Team Coach interview on the “The Exceptional Worship” podcast, on i-Tunes.

I really enjoyed being interviewed by about my favorite topic, Biblical foundations of worship on The Exceptional Worship Podcast.

In the podcast, Part Two of the series, host Jon Nicole and I discuss Seven Big Ideas that your worship team should absolutely know.

In the Part One podcast, we discuss Three Organizing Scriptures and had some interesting riffs about my story, Robert Webber and The Institute for Worship Studies, and more. 

Hungary & Romania Missions Trip 2015

My 15th Year Ministering in Eastern Europe!


Every summer since 2001 I’ve been on a short term missions trip to Eastern Europe. Wow, that’s fifteen consecutive years! Time flies when you’re having fun. And there’s nothing more rewarding than serving the Lord.

I’ll once again serve two ministry projects, the SOZO Festival, returning to Baja, Hungary; and after that, the School of Worship in Timisoara, Romania.

“Jesus Sent Me So That You Can See Again”

Unlikely Hero Rescues Man Struck With Blindness

Jesus sent me Sunrise 6-13-15

In this passage from Acts Chapter 9, we learn the story of Saul/Paul’s dramatic encounter with Christ and his instantaneous conversion from opponent to proponent of the Jesus movement.

The event left Saul waylaid with blindness.

Then the Lord called a most reluctant believer named Ananias in a vision, and sent him to be the agent of healing to Saul.

We all have areas of blindness, and God may very well will use the most unlikely people to open our eyes and set us free.

On the other side of the equation, like Ananias, someday you too could be that reluctant hero who delivers the breakthrough someone so desperately needs.

Saul was so humbled and disoriented by what had happened that all self sufficiency and pride was laid down.

Ananias was so compelled by the spirt of conviction that he laid down his fear and embarked on a very difficult assignment.

My friends in the Lord, we need one another. We are designed to be interdependent. Sometimes you’ll be on the giving end, other times you’ll times you’ll be on the receiving end.

Just be willing to say “yes” to God.

The Lord be with you today!

The Lord Keeps His Promises

He Is Kind and Loyal To Those Who Follow Him with All Their Heart

Solomons prayer 1 Kings 8 Sunrise 6-11-15

Today’s #SWD is from Solomon’s dedication of the temple in 1 Kings 8. It is a very lengthy prayer, recalling the history and covenant promises the Lord made with His people Israel and David’s family line.

O God, God of Israel, there is no God like you in the skies above or on the earth below who unswervingly keeps covenant with his servants and relentlessly loves them as they sincerely live in obedience to your way. 1 Kings 8:23 (MSG)

One of the main ideas of the Bible is that relationship between God and His people is one of agreement, and the Lord is faithful to fulfill His promises.

The grace factor is that His followers also make a commitment to “sincerely live in obedience” to His ways. That is how we genuinely love God wholeheartedly.

Of course we consistently fail at keeping our end of the bargain.

Thank goodness for the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ! He proves God’s relentless love.

Ephesians 2:4-5 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much,that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 

Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God

My friends, may you receive the gift of God’s grace today. He will be kind and loyal to those who follow Him wholeheartedly!

The Wise in Heart Are Discerning and Gracious

Wise in Heart Sunrise 6-10-15

Good ‘ol Proverbs, the book of wisdom, constantly encouraging the reader to seek wisdom.

When I was a youngster, my Dad would tell me, “Robert, read the book of Proverbs.”

Good advice then, good advice now.

Two thoughts from Proverbs 16:21

1. If you desire to be “wise in heart”, get God’s heart on a matter and determine be aligned with that. Then you will bear the fruit of discernment.

2. Gracious words, or “winsome speech” is way more effective than arguing, cajoling, whining, complaining or begging.

Do 1 and 2 and you will earn a good reputation. And that is one of the most valuable commodities you can possess.

Thanks Dad!

My friends, may the Lord be with you today!

Unless The Lord Builds The House

The principle in Psalm 127:1 is that doing anything outside of the leadership of the Lord is a waste of effort.

“House” can be a metaphor for any significant project or organization (hint: like a church).

We can strive and stress to build something – anything really.

But if God is not in it, the best it can be is a ‘successful’ failure.

Or more likely, a total failure.

So get God’s heart on a matter before you jump in.

I’ve learned this lesson the hard way more than once.

How about you?

How To Be Full of Wisdom and The Spirit?

Ask for wisdom Sunrise 6-8-15

In today’s Daily Audio Bible reading, there’s an interesting juxtaposition of Solomon’s story where he asks for wisdom (1 Kings 3:3 – 4:34) and the New Testament account of the early church choosing servant leaders (men “full of the wisdom and the Spirit” – Acts 6).

Solomon Prays for Wisdom

At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.

“Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number.9 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. (1 Kings 3:5-10)

The Message translation renders wisdom as “a God-listening heart”.  The Amplified Bible translation says verse 9 this way:

So give Your servant an understanding mind and a hearing heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and bad.

Three Insights from Solomon’s Story

1. First, the source of Wisdom, or insight for making the best decisions, comes from God.

2. Second, discernment is perhaps the most necessary and critical thinking tool for leaders.

Often the issue at hand may not appear clearly so much as “right or wrong”, but as to determine what is “good, better, or best”.

3. Third, to “govern”, or lead people well, we need the Holy Spirit to both empower our intellect (“an understanding mind”) as well as inspire our emotions (” a hearing heart”).

At the end of the day, most of our decisions are emotional decisions to some degree.

As with many things related to following the Lord, these ideas may seem obvious and common sense, but common sense is not always common practice. (I’ve written about this from another angle in this post.) 

How Servant-Leaders Are Appointed To Do God’s Work

ACTS 6:3 

(NIV) Brothers and sisters,choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them.

(MSG) So, friends, choose seven men from among you whom everyone trusts, men full of the Holy Spirit and good sense, and we’ll assign them this task.

(AMP) Therefore select out from among yourselves, brethren, seven men of good and attested character and repute, full of the [Holy] Spirit and wisdom, whom we may assign to look after this business and duty.

Three Insights from the Acts 6 Story

1. First, we see those in spiritual leadership recognized there was a related but different “practical” ministry area that needed Godly leadership for the task at hand and to solve the problem they were dealing with (caring for the needy).

They did not see this as an inferior ministry. Even though this was “behind the scenes”, it required first rate leaders with the skill set to be successful. (Full of wisdom and the Spirit).

The “job” was important.

2. Second, evidence that God had been at work transforming the lives of these potential leaders was a prerequisite. So, those who knew these men would have been able to see the presence of the Holy Spirit active in their lives.

They would have witnessed these candidates as bearing the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control in their regular, everyday lifestyle.

This is what made them men who were known to be of good reputation, of attested character, and of whom everyone could trust.

3. Third, these servant leaders were called and appointed because they had demonstrated they were the right kind of people.

The Holy Spirit had prepared and positioned them to be promoted to a challenging new ministry assignment.

A Note To My Younger Self

My friend, if I were to write a note of encouragement today to you as I would to my younger self,  I would say something like this…

Go deep in the things of God. Like, Solomon, ask for wisdom and greater revelation.

Like those first followers of Jesus, ask to filled and transformed by the presence of Holy Spirit.

“Ask and you will receive!’ 

Then press in for more. Be patient. Say “yes” when the Lord opens a door for you, though it may not seem very “important”.

Be the right kind of person first and foremost. Start there.

May the Holy Spirit today fill you with all the fullness of His Wisdom and the Spirit.

Serve the Lord with gladness.  Amen.

Those Who Trust In The Lord Are Secure

The Pathway From Praise To Presence

Trust in The Lord Sunrise 6-7-15

The introduction to this Psalm is subtitled “A Song of Ascents”, also known as Gradual Psalms, Songs of Degrees, Songs of Steps or Pilgrim Songs. There are 15 Songs of Pilgrimage, Psalms 120 – 134.

Various scholars say these songs would have been sung as Jewish worshipers ascended the hill to the temple in Jerusalem, or as the Levites would climb the 15 steps of the temple to minister.

Today we can apply the idea behind these songs for “in-gathering”, or directing the attention of the community to worship. The in-gathering song is a “call to worship”.

The Pathway from Praise to Presence

1. In the call to worship, we “ascend the hill of the Lord” (Psalm 24), by applying the work of Christ to give us clean hands and pure hearts.

2. We “enter his gates with thanksgiving” (Psalm 100) as we declare and speak the truth of who God is.

3. Then we remember our identity as sons and daughters of the King. We are “those who trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 125:1).

4. We believe by faith His great promises ” the Lord surrounds and protects His people now and forever.” (Psalm 125:2)

And thus begins the pathway from praise into His presence.

5. In His presence there is fullness of joy! (Psalm 16:11)

6. So, delight yourself in the Lord. (Psalm 37:4)

Worship Him!