Zac Hicks – Father, Only In Your Power (Trinitarian Song of Confession)

Writing confession songs for the contemporary church is a tough assignment.  Add to that a song of confession that speaks to the involvement of each member of the Trinity = inconceivable!! But that’s just how Zac Hicks rolls.  Give him the most challenging songwriting topic and he attacks it head on!  More than a year ago he sent me a basic idea for this song.  I tweaked a few lines, and offered some melody suggestions and now you can HEAR the finished product.  A true masterpiece in my mind.  A song that is infinitely singable, clear, but lyrically one that you can engage for a long time!  It is a featured track on Coral Ridge Worships new album “The Magnificent Three.”

Father, Only In Your Power
mp3 | chords | leadsheet | blog

Words & Music: Zac Hicks & Bruce Benedict, 2013;
with traditional “Kyrie” and “Agnus Dei”
©2013 Unbudding Fig Music (ASCAP), Cardiphonia Music

1. Father, only in Your power
Can we ascend to You.
Help us, Father, we are helpless
To pay our righteous due.

2. Jesus, only in Your weakness
can we your kingdom claim
Help us, Jesus, we are reckless
in self-destruction’s chains

Lord, have mercy
Christ, have mercy
Lord, have mercy

3. Spirit, only in Your presence
can we true union find.
Help us, Spirit, we are restless
Our soul’s divisions bind.

Lamb of God,
Who takes away the sins of the world
Have mercy on us
Lamb of God,
Slain before the dawn of the world
Have mercy on us

4. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
Our ancient curse we own
Broken in the blood of Adam
The blood of Christ now show

Jesus Loves Me – A song for baptism

Welcoming infants into our covenant family is one of the highlights of Sunday worship. There have been a lot of baptisms recently and I’ve been working on the baptism liturgy with our new pastor Geoff Bradford.  One of the traditions he brought from his old church in Philadelphia (Liberti Fairmont) was having the whole congregation sing “Jesus Loves Me” over the infant.  A way to bless the child with song and to remind us all of the love of Jesus present as we remember our baptism.

It’s a wonderfully simple song of praise and reminds us of the simple promises of God but I thought that it would be better still if we could give it a Trinitarian formula.  Baptism is one of the strongest images of the Trinity at work in scripture and baptismal prayers are always cast in a Trinitarian framework.  So we reworked the lyrics for the first verse and refrain.

MP3 | Leadsheet

Jesus loves you this we know
For the Bible tells us so
Little ones to Him belong
They are weak, but He is strong

Yes, Jesus loves you
Yes, the Father knows you
Yes, the Spirit seals you
The Bible tells us so.

Words: Anna Bartlett Warner, 1859, alt. by Bruce Benedict, 2012 (c) Cardiphonia


If you are really wanting a challenge you could teach your congregation to sing along with the shorter catechism.  Here is a rough mix of question 94 from our forthcoming catechism cd.   Mp3

C     G           Am7  F
Q. 94. What is baptism?

C     G                           Am                            F
A. Baptism is a sacrament, wherein the washing with water
C                                   G                               Am                         F
in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,
C                G                        Am                              F
doth signify and seal our ingrafting into Christ,
C                                                   G
and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace,
Am                                  F
and our engagement to be the Lord’s.


Other Popular Songs for Baptism

There is a Fountain Filled with Blood

The Welcome Wagon – mp3 | leadsheet | buy
Karl Digerness (City Hymns) – mp3 | leadsheet | chord chart | Youtube
Indelible Grace – mp3 | leadsheet | chord chart | info
Traditional (Sojourn arr.) – mp3 | leadsheet

Power in the Blood (Nothing But the Blood of Jesus)
mp3 | leadsheet 1 | leadsheet 2



Helps for Reading Scripture in Worship

Here are a number of thoughts and tips for reading scripture in public worship.  During the Advent season, many churches often read scripture in worship more than usual and need a few pointers in how to direct congregation members of all ages helping out.

Public Reading of Scripture is the proclamation of God’s Word.  Honor that through prayerful-heartfelt preparation and presentation.
1 Tim 4:13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.

1.     Prepare Prayerfully. You are not just giving a public reading; you are giving a reading of God’s holy Word.  Therefore, you must come before the Author of the text humbly and ask Him to use you to proclaim His Word (in speaking and in attitude).  Pray for deeper understanding of and fresh insights into your passage.  Ask the Spirit to help you ask the right questions of the text and pay attention to the right details as you study the text.  Your goal is not to be a “dramatic” reader; your goal is to be an authentic, Spirit-filled storyteller. Excellent storytellers know and understand their stories.  If you have not adequately prepared yourself, you communicate the message that “this text was not worthy of my attention, so it is not worthy of yours either.”

2.     Know the text thoroughly. Check the pronunciations of names and difficult words.  The scriptural texts read in the special services are usually very familiar ones.  One of your tasks will be to make the familiar unfamiliar during your preparation.  Do not assume you already know the text.  Find out the background or context of your text.  Commentaries and Study Bibles are helpful here.  Check out other translations of your text ( is a good place to visit).  This can be helpful in unpacking phrases that might be difficult to understand.  You may want to listen to a professional do the reading first so you will get an idea what the passage should sound like.  Audio Bibles are wonderful tools to help.

3.     Practice diligently and creatively. Print out your part of the text on separate paper, allow enough space in between the lines for marking it up with cues such as when to pause, when to crescendo / decrescendo, when to pick up / slow down the pacing, which words to give special emphasis, and practice variations intonations with words and pitch changes for different roles.  Practice it before a mirror and watch your posture.  Take it one step at a time.  Begin with a phrase, complete a verse, add the next phrase, and recite two verses, until you know your text well enough that you can confidently look up at people frequently. Finish well. Anticipate the end of your reading with a slowed tempo. Look up as you prepare to end.  A liturgical responsive reading after the scripture is a wonderful way to keep your people engaged in listening.

Practical Tips (Mike Farley)

Here are some practical tips for effective Scripture reading:

1. Use of the body

§  Stand upright and with good posture.
§  Take deep breaths to support reading, and breathe by expanding the diaphragm (not raising the shoulders).
§  Some eye contact helps emphasize the personal nature of the act.

2. Mechanics of reading

§  Practice aloud repeatedly.

§  Enunciate clearly.

§  Use sufficient volume to be heard comfortably by all hearers.

§  Read slowly enough to allow attentiveness to details and time for the congregation to absorb and feel the impact of Scripture’s weighty importance.

§  Read quickly enough to communicate the flow of thought and/or the movement of a narrative sequence.

§  Avoid stumbling, especially over words difficult to pronounce.

§  Leave space for natural pauses according to punctuation (commans, periods, semi-colons, etc.)

§  In one’s rehearsal for the reading, over-dramatize the emotions expressed in the text or the various possible emotional responses that the text seeks to evoke in order to discover the emotional high points of the text.

§  Emphasize what is most important with use of volume, vocal inflection, pace, and spacing. No manner of reading is neutral; rather, the manner of reading always interprets the text by what it emphasizes or highlights in different ways (or by what it fails to emphasize or highlight). Therefore, attempt to discover objective features of the text that indicate the words that are most important in the literary structure and primary theological purposes of the text. Practice the differences in meaning and impact when emphasizing different words.

§  When practicing, read from a copy that allows you to mark up the text with cues for reading.

From CICW Worship Weblog

This morning Tim read an article he wrote entitled “The Power of Words” from the latest issue of Reformed Worship.  In it, he shared a scripture-reader’s to-do list.  They are worthy principles that we all can apply to public reading of scripture, so I thought they were worth another look.

1.  Warm up before you go up.
2.  Look into people’s eyes and not over their heads.
3.  Slow down.  Reading is more like a walk in the park than like the Indy 500.
4.  Slow down.  Make every body movement a servant of the text.
5.  Remember that punctuation marks were made for the reader, not the reader for the punctuation mark.
6.  Feel what you are reading as deeply as you can.  What the reader does not feel deeply, the hearer will not feel at all.
7.  Treat every word like an only child.  Enunciate.
8.  Treat every sentence like the last bite of a favorite dessert.  Be sure to finish!
9.  Remember that microphones are “equal opportunity” amplifiers; they magnify the good and the bad.
10.  Don’t forget to breath.  Words should rise up out of your belly, not be strained through your throat.

Further Resources:

Harvey Smit, “So You’ve Been Asked to Read Scripture” (Faith Alive Resources)

Christopher Wright – Reading Scripture Missionally

G. Robert Jacks, “Getting the Word Across” (Erdmann’s: 1995)

Thomas E. McComiskey, Reading Scripture in Public (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1991);

Clayton J. Schmit, Public Reading of Scripture: A Handbook (Nashville: Abingdon, 2002).

Max McLean and Warren Bird, Unleashing the Word (Zondervan, 2009)

Beatitudes – Prayer of Confession (Reggie Kidd)

'La sermon des béatitudes' by James Tissot

Christ the King is beginning a new series on the Book of James this week.  The Beatitudes will be one place we will look to for reflecting on the themes of James.  Here is a wonderful confession written by Reggie Kidd, professor of NT and Worship at Reformed Theological Seminary-Orlando that leads us through the beatitudes as a source of direction for confessing our sins.

Here is a Kyrie to sing between sections:

Kyrie 2007 (Benedict arr.)
mp3 | leadsheet

From the Beatitudes — A Prayer of Confession

By Dr. Reggie Kidd


Lord Jesus, you bless the poor in spirit

and give them the Kingdom.

But we fatten ourselves, as James says, “in the day of slaughter”;

we turn away from those whose physical poverty

reminds us of our true spiritual state,

and we build our own little kingdoms of self.

Kyrie eleison — Lord, have mercy.


You bless those who mourn and you comfort them.

But we flee grief that leads to repentance,

and we seek comfort in possessions and prestige and power.

Kyrie eleison — Lord, have mercy.


You bless the meek, and promise them the earth,

you bless the merciful, and promise them mercy.

But we are far from meek —

we try to make the world our own through pride and self-promotion;

we forget the forgiveness that was won at such cost,

and we hold grudges at the slightest offense.

Kyrie eleison — Lord, have mercy.


You bless those who hunger and thirst for righteousness—

you promise to satisfy their desires.

You bless the pure in heart, and promise that they shall see God.

But we hunger and thirst after everything else:

the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes

and the pride of life;

our hearts are not pure, and so we cannot see you.

Kyrie eleison — Lord, have mercy.


You bless the peacemakers and the persecuted and the reviled—

you call them sons of your Father

and you give them the kingdom of heaven.

But we covet each other’s things and looks and jobs and successes,

and we cultivate friendship with world,

so showing ourselves more fit to be sons of the devil

than heirs of your Kingdom.

Kyrie eleison — Lord, have mercy.


Kyrie eleison — Lord, have mercy.

Christe eleison — Christ, have mercy.

Kyrie eleison — Lord, have mercy.



(c) Reggie Kidd

Call to Worship – Ephesians 1

Here is a Trinitarian Call to Worship condensed from Ephesians 1.

based on Ephesians 1

Leader: To the Father who has given us every spiritual blessing in Christ.
People: We give praise and glory

Leader: To the Son through whom we have redemption,
forgiveness, and the riches of God’s grace.
People: We give praise and glory

Leader: To the Spirit that seals us in His promise,
the guarantee of our inheritance until we possess it.
People: We give praise and glory.

Confession of Faith – The Household of God

"Creed" (c) 2007 Kyle Ragsdale

For the second part of our series on the Psalms of Ascents I am going to attempt to write a confession of faith that takes the major themes of each Psalm and weaves them through the New Testaments use of that theme.  Here is my first attempt from Psalm 127.

Corporate Confession of Faith

From themes in Psalm 127:

(Psalm 127:1-2, John 14:1-22, 1 Cor 5:1, Eph 2:19, Hebrews 3:6, 10:21, 1 Peter 2:5)

Leader: The Lord has built a mansion for his people.

People: Jesus has gone before us to prepare a room

in his Father’s house.

A house not made by hands but eternal in the heavens

built on Christ the cornerstone.

Let us not be troubled.

Leader: You are members of this household.

People: We know that we are no longer strangers and aliens,

but fellow citizens with the saints and members

of the household of God.

Leader:  We have a great high priest over the House of God

People:  Jesus Christ is our high priest and provider,

in him we have all things.

He is way, the truth and the life.

He is the banisher of anxious thoughts and toil.

Leader: Let us hold fast to the foundations of our faith,

built on the apostles and prophets.

People:  We are living stones being built up

as a spiritual house,

If indeed we hold fast our confidence

and our boasting in our hope.

Leader:  Jesus has gone to prepare a place for you,

but do not fear he will come again.

People: Come again, Lord Jesus!

A Service of Confession

from John Hunter’s “Devotional Services for Public Worship” (download)

– this is from a book of prayers and services to help in public worship that is just as easily used as a guide for a time of personal prayer and repentance.  Study the prayers, let them guide you back to the word of scripture, list specific sins that come to mind as you meditate on them. Let these prayers expand your narrow sense of sin and repentance.  Ask God to give you a greater sense of Godly sorrow for your sins and the brokenness of the world.  Commit to spend this time of year, as the church universal prepares for Lent, to stoke the refining fire of repentance in your life.

A Service of Confession

Minister:  If we say that we have no sin,  we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him; neither have we obeyed his voice to walk in the laws which He hath set before us.

Let us pray.

Almighty God, Spirit of Purity and Grace, whose salvation is never very far from the contrite heart, listen to our confessions of sin, and have mercy upon us.

For all the evil past of our lives; for our many refusals of Thy call; for our indolence, vanity, and unfaithfulness:

People: Have mercy on upon us, O Lord.

Minister.  For the sins of care and passion which have estranged our hearts from goodness and dimmed our vision of heavenly things:

People: Have mercy on upon us, O Lord.

Minister:  For the sins and faults of youth which led us early astray from Thy ways and brought upon us many troubles and sorrows:

People: Have mercy on upon us, O Lord.

Minister:  For all our hardness of heart and impenitence of spirit; for our pride, self-sufficiency, and wilful iniquity.

People: Have mercy on upon us, O Lord.

Minister:  For all our forgotten vows, for the better purposes whih we have suffered to grow weak; for the good resolutions we have not kept; for the excuses we have fashioned to hide from ourselves our unfaithful lives.

People: Have mercy on upon us, O Lord.

Minister:  For the sorrows that  have brought now repentance; for all the wholesome teachings of life which have failed to turn our feet to the true and living way.

People: Have mercy on upon us, O Lord.

Minister:  For the secret faults and presumptuous sins which have remained in our lives unrebuked and tolerated, and for all the omissions to deal truly with ourselves.

People: Have mercy on upon us, O Lord.

Minister:  For the words of unjust anger and bitterness whih have escaped our lips; for the strifes and separations which we have inflamed and aided, and for all our sinful neglect to produce peace and good-will among men.

People: Have mercy on upon us, O Lord.

Minister:  For our fretful sufferance of wrong; for the vindictive passions we have cherished; for our intolerance, injustice, and uncharitableness; for our readiness to blame and our want of thoughtfulness, patience,kindness, and sympathy in our social relations.

People: Have mercy on upon us, O Lord.

Minister:  For all the goodness of life which we have received thanklessly; for the strength which we have wasted; for the gifts we have not cultivated; for the opportunities which we have neglected; for all the beauty of this fair world and the love of human hearts which have passed before us and which in our thoughtlessness and care and passion we have not appreciated.

People: Have mercy on upon us, O Lord.

Minister:  For the unworthy doubts of Thee which have clouded our path; for the times when we have forgotten our duties and lost our faith; for the hours when we have yielded to temptation and plucked of the fruit of the forbidden tree.

People: Have mercy on upon us, O Lord.

Minister: For our selfish comfort amid the wrongs, oppressions, and sorrows of life; for our undue and exclusive regard to our own interests; for our lack of brotherhood and neglect of the service of humanity.

People: Have mercy on upon us, O Lord.

Minister: For the counsels of Thy Word which have spoken to us vainly; for the grace and truth of Thy beloved son which we have slighted; for the pleadings of Thy Spirit to which we have not hearkended; for the example of speech and of the true and good which have failed to make us worthier children of Thine; for all the monitions of time and the hereafter which have not made us more serious, earnest, gentle, pure, and rich in faith and charity.

People: Have mercy on upon us, O Lord.

Minister:  For all our sins remembered and forgotten, for the sins we are conscious of, and the sins we are not conscious of because of our sinfulness.

People: Have mercy on upon us, O Lord.

Minister: O God, whose nature and property it is ever to have mercy and to forgive, receive our humble confessions, and though we be tied and bound with the chain of our sins, yet let the pitifulness of Thy great mercy loose us: through Jesus Christ our Lord, who taught us to pray:

Minister and People: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed by Thy Name.  Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our trespasses; as we forgive them that trespass against us.  And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil: for Thine is the kingdom, power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Calls to Worship (ESV)

It is often difficult to find liturgical resources that are simple, easy to access, general, and in your congregation’s bible translation.  With a lot of church’s now using the ESV I spent some collecting ‘classical’ Calls to Worship from the Psalms.  While this list is far from biblically exhaustive it may be helpful for you.

Calls to Worship (ESV)

Resources for Worship Elements:

Calls to Worship: A Pocket Resource

Christ Centered Worship (Brian Chapell)

The Worship Sourcebook (CRC and CICW)

Leading in Prayer (Hughes Oliphant Old)

The Open Sourcebook (Sojourn Church and CICW)

Confession of Faith – Advent

Based on 1 Timothy 1:15; 2:5-6; 3:16; Rev 5 & 22 (ESV)

Minister: This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance:

People: That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

Minister: There is one God, and there is one mediator

between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

People: Who gave himself as a ransom for all,

which is the testimony given at the proper time.

Minister: Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

People: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit,

seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations,

believed on in the world,

taken up in glory.

Minister: Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain!

People: To receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and

honor and glory and praise!

Minister: The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.”

And let the one who hears say, “Come.”

And let the one who is thirsty come;

People: Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

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