Revelation 2 – Smyrna – Confession of Sin

7churches2Revelation Series: Rev. 2:8-11 (Smyrna)
Confession of Sin for the Church at Smyrna

Leader: Father, we are bowed down beneath a load of sin,
and by Satan we are sorely pressed,
By wars without, and fears within, Lord we come to You for rest.
Great and Mighty Lord, be our shield and our hiding place,
that, sheltered near to your side,
We may our fierce accuser face, and tell him, You have died.

People: Help us Father to be faithful unto death
and even in the face of daily trials to stand firm.
Forgive us when we falter – in love for you and neighbor
and we ask for your strength – that Your Spirit 
would enter into our hearts, minds, and mouths 
as we rest in the prayer you taught your disciples…

All: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your Name,
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial, and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours,
now and for ever. Amen.

Anointing with Oil for Ash Wednesday

Psalm 133 “Like the Dew of Hermon” (c) 2007 Aaron Collier

Our church anoints with oil on Ash Wednesday instead of following the usual practice of the imposition of Ashes.  Here are some brief notes on the practice of anointing.

Anointing with oil was a common practice in the ancient near east where our Christian faith was culturally founded. Oil was used in lieu of water in this arid region of the world to provide cleansing, protection for the skin, a hedge against body odor and a visual expression of health and vitality. The oil represented the blessing of harvest (olive oil) in addition to being mixed with herbs and minerals that gave off a pleasant aroma.

We initially started this alternative practice on Ash Wednesday because we were concerned that this was one of the few times most people in our church would be touched directly by a pastoral leader…and to make that moment connected to the practice of ashes seemed profoundly unbiblical. In scripture the primarily scene of pastoral touch is connected to the practice of anointing the head with oil. So we decided to switch to using oil instead of ashes and with it brought a huge swell of biblical practice into our congregation.  If it seems strange to totally get rid of the ashes then I would highly recommend offering anointing with oil as a secondary option for your Ash Wednesday service.

Anointing with Oil: Explanation and Practice

This service marks the beginning of the church season called “Lent.” Traditionally, the church has used this time to further reflect on our sin, understand our baptism, and grow in love of our savior, our appropriation of the gospel. We’ve called this an Un-Ash Wednesday Service because we’ve decided we are going to anoint with oil instead of ashes—a Biblical practice that has a deep history and is rich with Biblical meaning.

Anointing with oil is a practice that has fallen out of favor with Protestant Churches after the Reformation. But the practice of anointing with oil has a long Biblical history:

Symbolizes cleansing: Oil was used for cosmetic reasons and was a sign of being clean (Ruth 3:3; Deut 28:40).

Symbolizes healing: People were anointed with oil in the early church as a part of requesting God to bring healing or wholeness to a person’s life. James 5:14 says, “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.”

Symbolizes being set apart. Prophets (1 King 19:16) and Priests (Exodus 29:7) and Kings (1 Sam 16:1) were anointed for service. Special objects used in worship were anointed with oil, set apart as Holy, for God’s service.

Symbolizes blessing. That’s not a word we use much. But consider Psalm 23: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

Symbolizes the presence of the Holy Spirit: 1 John 2:20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. Anointing with oil was a common practice in the early church to remind us of our baptism. To remind us of all the gifts of God that are symbolized by baptism. This is particularly appropriate going into Lent as we remember the Promises and Presence of God—even as we reflect on our sin and need for a Savior.

This is not a sacrament. Jesus doesn’t command us to do this. Like foot washing, it is an optional practice for the church, but unfortunately a meaningful practice that has been long neglected. So it is completely optional. If you are uncomfortable with this, you don’t need to receive this. I will, in a moment, invite you to come forward. I will anoint you with a sign of the cross on your forehead, and say these words over you if you choose to come:

I anoint you, _____________, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The sign of the cross signifies Christ who took up our sins and carried our infirmities. Remember whose you are!

Here is a PDF of our worship service.

Blessed is the One – Prayer for Revelation 1:3

Blessed is the One-Jer

There are seven (of course!) “Blessed is the one” passages in Revelation and I have asked a few different leaders in our church to write prayers inspired by these blessings in Revelation. The first one is written by Naaman Wood.

Revelation 1:3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. (ESV)

O Father God who speaks the Word:

Blessed are You

O Christ the Son the living Word:

Blessed are You

O Holy Ghost who breathes the Word:

Blessed are You

Almighty God, you stirred your servant John to see the affliction of the seven churches and moved him to comfort them, and you revealed your apocalypse to him for the blessing of your suffering church. We thank you that, at the hands of the Roman Empire and in the face of great persecution, you sustained and kept your church with John’s words.

We give you thanks, good Lord.

When John saw his Christ, he saw the lamb who was slain at the hands of imperial power and persecution. We thank you that only through Christ’s death and vulnerability does your church know peace, even in the company of martyrs.

We give you thanks, good Lord.

Like our mothers and fathers in the faith, we thank you that you bless us and sustain us through your words we read aloud, through your words we hear, and through your words we keep.

We give you thanks, good Lord.

Yet, Almighty God, we know that, unlike the sev­en churches, we are not oppressed for our faith.

Hear our prayer, O lamb that was slain.

Though we live in peace, we struggle to speak your word and hear your word and do your word.

Hear our prayer, O lamb that was slain.

We struggle not from want but from security, plenty, and excess.

Hear our prayer, O lamb that was slain.

Deliver us from our homes and our possessions.

O Lord, arise, help us.

Deliver us from our careers and our future.

O Lord, arise, help us.

Deliver us from our children and our grand-children to come.

O Lord, arise, help us.

Deliver us from our whiteness and our privilege.

O Lord, arise, help us, and deliver us for your name’s sake.

Deliver us so that we may truly speak God’s word.

Deliver us, good Lord.

Deliver us so that we may truly hear God’s word.

Deliver us, good Lord.

Deliver us so that we may truly keep God’s word.

Deliver us, good Lord.

O dearest Father God, you declared victory in the weakness and death of your Son. Grant that your Spirit may quicken our hearts to follow Christ in death so that through him we make partake of life with you. We ask these things through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.


Series in the Book of Revelation

The entire text of Revelation. design by Erik Newby
The entire text of Revelation.            Design by Erik Newby, (c) 2013

Last week our church – Christ the King – started a new series in the book of Revelation.  We will be covering the entire epic over the next 6-7 months.  It’s an ambitious series and I’ve got mad props for our pastor for tackling it.  If you’ve never studied, or worshipped, your way through this wonderful book then I would recommend checking out our sermon podcast and following along with our worship guides!

The artwork for the series (above) is from Erik Newby one of our church’s designers and includes the ENTIRE book of Revelation as the background text.  It’s inspired by the beginning and ending sentiments of this book – that behind all of the wonderful, mysterious and tragic images of Revelation the WORD is sure and reigning and victorious. “1:3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” cf. 22:18.


As we move through this series I want our people to feel like they are entering into the realities of the text in our services so we are beginning and ending each service with the words of Revelation.

Call to Worship:  Revelation 1:4-8

Leader: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come,
and from the seven spirits who are before his throne,
and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead,
and the ruler of kings on earth.

People: To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood
and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father,
to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Leader: Behold, he is coming with the clouds,
and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him,
and all tribes of the earth will cry out on account of him.

All: Even so. Amen.

Leader: He is the Alpha and the Omega,

People: Who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

*Valediction: Revelation 22: 7,12-13,14,

Leader: Behold, Jesus is coming soon.
People: Blessed is the one who keeps the words of this book.

Leader: Behold! He is coming soon to judge the earth with righteousness and truth.
People: He is the Alpha and the Omega,the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

Leader: Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.

People: The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.”
And let the one who is thirsty come;
Let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

Leader: He is coming soon.
People: Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

*We are using a valediction during the Revelation series as a riff on the ‘letter’ motif and an intentional way of acknowledging the horizontal aspects of our fellowship in Christ.


Here are a few songs we plan on singing during this series.

Song of Ascents – Ancient of Days (sadler)
(we will open with a shortened version of this song every week)

Songs of Praise – All Things New (Red Mountain), Crown Him with many Crowns, Holy, Holy, Holy, Revelation Song (Riddell), Lord enthroned in heavenly Splendor (Hicks), The Lamb Has overcome (Morton), and many more!


While my pastor is tackling all of the heavy commentaries I always try to read a few devotional books to inform/supplement my service planning.  Here are two books I have been particularly excited about.

Eugene Peterson –Reversed Thunder: The Revelation of John and the Praying Imagination. 1991 Harper

“The inability (or refusal) to deal with St. John, the poet, is responsible for most of the…misuse of the book.”

“God devoted the last book in his Bible to poetry.”

Robert Coleman – “Songs of Heaven,” 1981; republished “Singing with the Angels” 1998.

A devotional Bible study on the praise and worship songs of the Book of Revelation.

How to Disciple Your Worship Ministry

I recently had a worship leader ask me how I disciple my worship ministry.   It’s a great question and one to which I’ve floundered quite successfully over the years.  There are a surprising number of ways that we can gently and consistently disciple our worship ministries over a period of time (here I mean all of the volunteers that serve, not necessarily the congregation which is a different question).

Here is a list of intentional actions I have used over the years.

1. Meet first thing to pray on Sunday mornings before set up or rehearsal.
– Read a psalm, pray through the service.
– Some churches have a pastor or elder serve communion to the musicians if that is a
difficulty during the service.

2. Help your musicians understand how music serves the whole liturgy/gospel story.
Dedicate some time each week whether at rehearsal or on Sunday to explain the gospel flow of your churches liturgy.  Help them to understand how music fits into the larger story that is happening.  The details and demands of playing and performing can often distract us from the biblical narrative that is unfolding week by week.

3. Have monthly/quarterly music gatherings where you intentionally shepherd. 
Every three months I have a potluck for all of the musicians where we meet for a time of fellowship, teaching, prep for the next sermon series/ season, and learn new songs.

4. Meet regularly with sound techs
I take my sound techs out to lunch every month or so. Sound techs are your most important volunteers and often the least positively attended to.  They work incredibly hard to support all of the staff work that goes into church servies and they should feel loved.  Their work on Sunday supports every level at which we want the gospel to be clearly proclaimed (music before and after services, preaching, prayers, scripture, music, etc). Make sure they know the spiritual impact of their technical work.

5. Consistent time with leaders
I plan to spend one-on-one time with my band leaders every three months and general musicians every 6 mo’s. This is time to check in with them and see how they are doing spiritually, with their service in the music ministry, etc.  I also hold a yearly retreat in August for the whole worship ministry to talk over the year, teach, fellowship, etc.

6. Rehearsal time that is more than just music time
It’s amazing how difficult it is to commit to spending a portion of rehearsal time to teaching and prayer.  We all want to get to the music as quick as possible.  Often If I can get a good prayer off myself for the group time then it is an accomplishment.  During better seasons I will read from worship books, creeds, hymns, etc.  The key here is to mix it up and keep it varied.  Brainstorm a list of easy devotional resources that you can use to focus your rehearsal time on Jesus and the gospel.

7. Make sure your musicians have access to and participate in all the Sunday Liturgy
At CTK each musician has a booklet for rehearsal and Sunday that includes not only the music but also all of the liturgy and prayers.  I want the musicians to be able to participate in as much of the service as possible.  I do this by running 81/2 x 11 sheets through my copier and creating 11×17 books.  It is important for the church to see your musicians engaging in all aspects of the service…not just the music.  Nothing is a greater disconnect for communicating the gospel than to see (for e.g.) a drummer wailing through a song and then not participating (and looking bored!) during a liturgical reading (call to worship, confession of sin, etc). This kills me every time.  Your musicians HAVE TO be so careful to communicate that every aspect of the service that is corporate is just as important as the songs. 

8. Provide worship resources for the greater church
A various points throughout the year I provide blog links, printed bulletins, and other resources for our church to grow in their daily worship habits. Have your musicians help create these, contribute to, etc.  Give them intentional places to serve the church outside of just playing music on Sunday.

9. Have a thoughtful and consistent audition process
Some churches have a highly structured process for welcoming musicians into their ministries with regularly set yearly audition times. At other churches its more laid back.  When someone expresses interest, or I pursue them to be a part of our worship ministry – it involves a lunch, a time to hear them musically one-on-one and sitting in on at least two rehearsals.  I also expect them to be regular attenders for at least three months before letting them join one of our worship teams.

10. Encourage (require?) your musicians to be involved in other areas of the church.
At CTK every regularly involved musician has to be a part of a small group.  Some churches require their musicians to be members.  On the flipside if you have any musicians who lead small groups then take care that they don’t burn out!

Here’s some more great resources on Discipleship from The Resurgence.

Let me know what I’ve missed?  How do you disciple your worship ministry?

Ten Songs we are teaching our Kids

WSC Q. 12 (by Matt Kirkland)

This year at Christ the King we are taking a few minutes before Children’s Church to gather all of the kids together to sing some songs.   I’ve been working the past few weeks on gathering together a collection of 10-15 songs that I want them to learn this year.  The collection so far is a crazy mix of my catechism songs, old contemporary, new selections, etc.  I’m trying to provide simple, singable songs that expose the kids to a wide range of styles and theological/biblical ideas and that they can actually sing!  I’ve been listening to a bunch of  “kids” worship music and while they are really fun to listen to while driving around, or playing at home, most of them are pretty hard to sing!

I’ve tried to pick a range of songs that will expose our kids to the fundamentals of the Christian faith.  Teaching them about God, Man, Sin, Jesus, Salvation, the Trinity, etc.  I’ve also tried to pick songs that are a balance of singing about God and to God.  We’ve also avoided including many traditional ‘vbs’ songs in this list while trying to focus on clear biblically oriented songs and texts.  We’ll sing each song for two weeks and then review them in chunks after we’ve covered 5 songs.  Our singing time is just a couple minutes before the kids head to their classes which take place during our sermon.

Here is our working list:  
These songs are all in addition to the repertoire of church music they are learning while in our worship services.

Q1. What is the Chief End of Man?
[mp3 | chart]

This is the Day – (sabbath/creation)
[mp3 | chart]

Father, I Adore You (Trinity)
[mp3 | chart]

Q4. What is God? (God)
[mp3 | chart]

I Love You, Lord (Praise and Adoration)
[mp3 | chart]

Q3. What do the Scriptures Principally Teach? (bible)
[mp3 | chart]

Q14. What is Sin? (Sin)
[mp3 | chart]

Create in Me a Clean Heart (Psalm 51-confession)
[mp3 | chart]

Q.85 What is Faith in Jesus Christ? (confession of faith)
[mp3 | chart]

Jesus Loves Me (Baptism – Trinity)
[mp3 | chart | info ]

Q98. What is Prayer? (prayer)
[mp3 | chart]

Solas – Zac Hicks  – reformation sola’s in song!)
[mp3 | chart | info]

The Doxology  (Praise – Trinity)
[mp3 | chart]

Here are two posts from Sojourn with other Kids worship albums.

April 2009June 2012

Esther Series – Fall 2012

Psalm 124 – Snake Broken (c) Aaron Collier

This Fall at Christ the King we are working our way through the enigmatic Book of Esther.  This is the book of the Bible that doesn’t mention God, promotes a festival not prescribed in the Law of Moses, and was criticized by Martin Luther for being too aggressively Jewish and having NO gospel content.  But this is book is still inspired and holy scripture and has a lot to communicate to us today. (ESV Study Bible Intro)

Listen to Geoff’s introductory sermon to get a glimpse of how awesome this series is going to be.

It’s been quite a challenge to think about songs and liturgical material to connect to Esther and I’m still working up my list.  Here are a few I’ve got lined up so far:


Psalm 120 – a psalm for pilgrims in enemy lands
mp3 | Leadsheet info

Psalm 124 – a lectionary psalm for Esther 7-9
Benedict – mp3 | leadsheet
Partain – mp3 | leadsheet

Our God Saves (Brown/Baloche)
demo and chart

All I Have is Christ (Sovereign Grace Music)
mp3 | chords | leadsheet | youtube

Glory to God on High (Michael Van Patter arr.)
mp3 | chords | leadsheet | info

Oh! Great is our God (The Sing Team, Mars Hill)
mp3 | chords | leadsheet | info

O Worship the King (traditional)

What Wondrous Love is This (traditiona)


O God,
   our guide and help in alien and contentious places:
as Esther prayed faithfully and worked courageously
for the deliverance of your people,
strengthen us to confront the oppressor
and free the oppressed, so that all people may know
the justice and unity of your realm. Amen.

Series on The 10 Commandments

This summer at Christ the King we are going through the 10 commandments from Deut 5:6-21.  The title of our series is the 10 Freedoms and follows up a few months in the book of Galatians.

Alongside exploring songs that interact with each of the commandments (or trying to), and songs that celebrate Christ’s fulfilling of the law,  we are also singing, reading, and praying our way through the longest chapter in the whole bible – Psalm 119.  Psalm 119 celebrates the word of God as given in the torah.  It celebrates and explores the Word of God using each letter of the hebrew alphabet in an elaborate acrostic.  It is filled with 176 verses extolling the blessedness and joy of the one who walks in the way of the Lord.  I’m pretty excited that our people will be able to say they’ve prayed through the whole chapter in corporate worship!

Here are a few gems that most of us know from Psalm 119. We are using a few of these as responses to scripture reading.

v.9 – How can those who are young keep their way pure? By living according to your word.
v.11 – I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
v.89 – Your word, LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.
v.97 – Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.
v.105 – Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

General Songs:

Psalm 19 (The Heavens Declare) – Bruce Benedict
The Lord is Our Light – Taize
Let us Love, and Sing, and Wonder – Newton/RuF arr.
The Love of Christ is Rich and Free – RUF Arr.
Love Constraining to Obedience – RUF Arr.
Open Thou Mine Eyes  – BiFrost Arr.

Commandment Related Songs:
1. Praise to the Lord
2. Give us Clean Hands
3. Be Unto His Name/At the Name of Jesus
3. None Other Lamb, None Other Name
4. O Day of Rest and Gladness/ Jesus I am Resting, Resting
4. Come Unto Me Ye Weary/ The King of Love My Shepherd Is
5. This is Our Fathers World/Father, Long Before Creation

HERE is a PDF of Psalm 119 from the 1912 Psalter.  We’ll be using familiar tunes and writing a few new ones I’m sure as we move through the series.


Confession of Sin based in 10 Commandments

Scotty Smith – A Prayer about Loving God’s Law because of the Gospel

We’ll also be using various pieces from the new Psalms for All Seasons

Calvin also provides some resources for singing the law.  We might not get to it this time but here is a link to the version from the Trinity and Psalter Hymnal.

Palm Sunday Weekend with Reggie Kidd

Melchizedek brings to Abram bread and wine. (Gen 14:18)

For Palm Sunday we invited Reggie Kidd to visit our church to speak on the future-looking aspects of the Lord’s Supper (as part of our Calvin Worship Grant).  He spoke with our leadership team on Saturday night, and twice on Sunday morning (Sunday School and Sermon).

During our leadership team dinner we talked about how the Lord’s Supper is a means of grace, and how at the table we become the realized body of Christ and that through this we can encourage and lift those up struggling in their faith.

During the Sunday School time Reggie focused on the Lord’s Supper through Exodus 24, Lev 23, and Revelation 19.  Noticing how this chapter and the Psalms share the penultimate biblical phrase of praise “Hallelujah”.

[download talk here]

During the sermon he drew out the connections between Genesis 14 and Hebrews 6 & 13 showing how Christ is our high priest that eternally makes intercessions for us so that we can come to the table and be fed by God. He worship both in the midst of us and over us as His people.

[download sermon here]

Palm Sunday Worship Guide


Prelude – Blessed be the Name (Redmans)

All Glory, Laud and Honor (Redeemer-Knoxville arr)
The Lord is King (Nathan Partain arr)
At the Name of Jesus (Jon Gilley arr)
Before the Throne of God (Vicky Cook arr)
What Wondrous Love is This (Sacred Harp Arr with choir)
There is a Redeemer (Keith Green)

His sermon was based in a recent article “Jesus Christ, Our Worship Leader”.

PDF version here – PDF

Web version here – Jesus Christ, Our Worship Leader (Worship Leader, Mar/Apr ’11)


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