Times have changed, and quickly. It is very easy to get lost in the current culture of our world, from iOS updates to finding the latest and greatest thing. But sometimes something stops us in our tracks and makes us ask, “Where is faith like that in my life?”

Keith & Kristyn Getty, modern hymn-writers and a huge inspiration to me, recently shared a prayer from Kristyn’s grandmother that was written in 1932. The prayer was prayed over her desk, consecrating it that it:

everything written and prepared thereon may be done with the singleness of mind to His honour and glory… (full text here)

I know praying over “things” needs to be done with discernment, as these things don’t have life. However, she didn’t pray for the desk, she consecrated that particular area in her home that it would be used for God’s glory.

It leads me to several questions and a plea for grace and wisdom today as I ask:

  • Do I consecrate the things that I use that they would be used for God’s glory and not my pleasure? (for instance, my iPhone, iPad, car, office desk, musical instruments, insert your trade tool here)
  • Do I pray over my children at every opportunity, praying that they would grow into authentic followers of Christ and live for His glory?
  • God, will you take away the pursuit of selfish things in my life and help me live every moment like this?

These are good questions to ask as we seek to understand what living a life of worship really looks like in every area of our lives. One song I’ve been listening to a lot lately is off of Sovereign Grace Music’s new album “Grace Has Come” called “My Life is an Offering,” which is a wonderful prayer based on Romans 12:1-2, where “I am an Offering” comes from. Take a listen below:

I’ve been inspired for quite a well by Bobby Gilles’ weekly recap of the songs, readings, prayers, and liturgy of Sojourn Community church’s services. So…I thought I’d steal it. With his permission, of course. 🙂

These serve as a great reminder of how, in the recent word’s of Bob Kauflin, we “remembered, rehearsed, reveled in and responded to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as our only hope and the means by which we come to know God as our Father.”

You can find links to the set lists of this church and many other churches each week in the Worship Set Lists at theworshipcommunity.com.

Gathering Song: Psalm 62, written by Aaron Keyes and Stuart Townend

Call to Worship: Titus 3:4-8

God has saved us through His mercy, poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior. We gather today to remember and respond. Remember who God is and what He’s done, and respond by preparing each other for His work in this place and outside these walls.

Song: Your Grace is Enough, written by Matt Maher

Song: Lord, I Need You, written by Jess Reeves, Kristian Stanfill, Matt Maher, Christy Knockels, and Daniel Carson

Confession of Sin:

That song of confession declares our need for a Savior. Let’s continue to dwell on that thought.

Savior, we indeed confess we that we need you. Not because of any human understanding of desire, but because we are broken with sin and without hope. You alone can save. Without You, we cannot stand. We run to You as our source of security. Guard and guide our heart’s desires as only You can.

May we trust in You alone for help, hope, and rescue.
May we delight ourselves in You, receiving our pleasures from You.
May we commit our ways to You, place our trust in You, and believe You will act.
(adapted from Psalm 37:3-5)

Song: Forever Reign, written by Reuben Morgan and Jason Ingram, made known by Passion and Kristian Stanfill

Declaration of Grace

God welcomes us into His embrace through the death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ, rich in love and mercy.

“Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)

In light of God embracing us into His family, let’s greet each other and welcome one another within our family today.

Confession of Faith

Confessions of Faith were given by students who had just attended the FLY (Free Lutheran Youth) convention the week before. It was a great blessing to hear how God’s Word impacted them, and to hear every student share Scripture with the congregation. We are so thankful for the work that consistently happens through God’s Spirit at FLY.


Tithes and Offerings

Scripture Reading:
John 1:1-5

Nick Schulz, an active youth leader and a philosophy enthusiast, taught on the response of the believer to the payment Jesus gave us through His blood, and how John was specifically battling gnostic teaching that since the body is evil it doesn’t matter what we do with it by declaring the truth in 1 John 1-2:2.

The Lord’s Supper

We sang Psalm 62 again during the Lord’s Supper, to continue to teach the congregation as it was a new song this week, and to continue to declare the great truths in the lyrics.

The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord lift his countenance upon you and give you peace. Amen.

The Church is a beautiful thing when properly functioning.  One of the most beautiful things about the early Christian church in the book of Acts was the freely generous nature of the people.  Acts 2:44-45 says this:

And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

I’ve been privileged to get to know a new acquaintance (who I hope will eventually turn into a good friend) who understands how to put this verse into practice.  Bobby Gilles and his wife Kristen have been faithfully serving the Church in many ways, from writing an outstanding blog encouraging artists and songwriters in the church to taking time out of a busy schedule to spend on a Skype call with me, although we’ve never really had a whole lot of contact.

Today, Bobby and Kristen released a free 4-song EP (and they really are releasing it for free, another example of putting the functioning Church into practice) that you should download and enjoy. The EP also addresses the issue of a “one-size-fits-all” liturgy that our American Church falls into so often.

These worship songs feature focused lyrics that consistently point us to the Cross and remind us of our rescued condition in Christ.  Some lyrical highlights that have already impacted me include:

  • “Bold before God’s throne, yet unworthy to be there”
  • “I stand condemned by my own heart, deserving just to die; but still I do not hesitate to stand before the King, a paradox to all but God who gave His son for me”

I am so thankful for Bobby and Kristen and their willingness to bless, encourage, and equip church worship leaders and musicians with this new music.  You can download the songs through the Noise Trade widget below, head to Noise Trade to download them, or visit Bobby and Kristen’s blog.

Passion, Pride, & Pretense

Ryan Egan —  March 27, 2012 — 8 Comments

I found out a while ago that I am, in fact, Norwegian.  My blood grandfather was full-blooded Norwegian.  That might explain why I find myself drawn into and at home in the Lutheran church.  That might explain why I tend to be a bit more “stoic” and “melancholy” at times.

But, I am an artist.  I’m also a performer.  I’m also part Irish, which pretty much throws all of the above paragraph out the window.

Is It Passion or Performance?

All of this leads me to a question: is it possible to be a passionate follower of Christ, more specifically, in my case, a passionate follower of Christ who happens to be a worship leader, and not show intense emotion?

I was evaluated by a dear friend and trainer and one of things he told me is that I needed more passion and more enthusiasm.  Is that me?

Throughout my high school and college life I’ve always performed.  I was in theatre, band, choir, musicals, you name it.  I can put on a different self fairly quickly.  The question then: is that a dangerous place to be?

Can Performance Become Genuine Passion?

When I get up to lead on Sunday morning, do I “put on a different self” and force myself to act with more passion and enthusiasm to help lead the congregation in that way or does that become a show or a pretense?  Can this type of passion be learned and nurtured and become genuine?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, and I’d love your help. Do you deal with this situation in your own life and if so, how do you address it?

I Love You More Than Ministry

Ryan Egan —  February 14, 2012 — 6 Comments

Marriage and Ministry Blog Tour

“If you have to explain to your wife and children why you were gone again, and the explanation is ‘because of ministry’ – something is wrong.”

The words above, paraphrased from something a friend and pastor said during a short message I was able to hear last month, rocked me.  They didn’t rock me because I was necessarily falling into this problem, but because I knew I had that potential.

Ministry has the opportunity to consume.  This can be a good thing, in a way, when we are consumed with an overwhelming desire to see souls saved and those under our leadership equipped and encouraged.  However, it can be an incredibly dangerous thing when we are so consumed with ministry that it consumed our thoughts, time, resources, energy, and mental well-being.

For those of us who are married, and especially married with kiddos, being consumed with ministry becomes even more dangerous.

I’m not a pastor (yet?), so I can’t even begin to imagine the toll ministry takes on the marriage of a full-time pastor.  However, even the limited amount of time I spend as a volunteer leader in the church has sometimes created strain on my own marriage.  So how can this be defeated?  A few ways come to mind for me:

  • Always be consumed with God and His Word.  This is one thing where consumption will never be harmful. I have a long way to go hear, especially in modeling it to my family.
  • After God and His Word, be consumed with your spouse.  Invest in your relationship.  Ask if ministry is taking a toll on your marriage and be ready to hear, and accept, truth.
  • Show your children that you are consumed with God and with your spouse.  Then, love and invest in them.
  • Show your congregation that you are first consumed with God, your spouse, and your children.  Model a Biblical portrait of family ministry before church ministry.  Your ministry to your family is one of the highest ministries you can have.
  • Take a break.  This is completely acceptable and even necessary.

I love ministry.  But I love my marriage even more.  God, give me the strength and wisdom to keep it that way.

Question: How have you worked with your spouse to prioritize how your relationship is balanced with your ministry?