Music Matters 11-29-13
Finally…Joe back with you, anticipating the start up of Christmas music on WNKJ/WNLJ. That’s happening Sunday, December 1st, as we begin sharing our Christ focused celebration of God’s Son Jesus becoming a baby in the womb of a virgin named Mary, around 2000 years ago.
I say Christ focused celebration because we at WNKJ/WNLJ decided years ago that rather than focus on Santa Claus or Frosty the Snowman…or even chestnuts roasting by an open fire, decking the halls, or going on a sleigh ride while enjoying a White Christmas…our celebration would focus on the true “reason for the season”…the incarnation, God’s Son putting on human flesh, living a sinless life, dying on the cross for you and for me, and rising victorious from the grave…in order to save us from our sins. Amen?
At Christmas we focus on the beginning of God’s plan of salvation, a plan he began to reveal back in Genesis 3:15 in the Garden of Eden, when god said to the serpent…
I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.
I believe that pointed to Satan’s effort to have Jesus crucified, thinking he would win, but instead our Lord Jesus crushed the devil’s head. One day he will get his…his final judgment.
Let me highlight some new Christmas recordings I’ve been listening to, music that we have added that help us celebrate the first coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. In 2013, we’ll be adding songs from these recordings to our Christmas repertoire.
Brandon Heath Christmas is Here
Sidewalk Prophets Merry Christmas to You
Meredith Andrews Behold the Savior
For King and Country Into the Silent Night
Travis Cottrell Joy of Every Longing Heart
North Point Christmas Let There Be Light
Phillips, Craig, and Dean Hope For All the World
Scott Krippayne Not So Silent Night
Paul Baloche Christmas Worship
By the way, we are still preparing for our WNKJ/WNLJ Christmas Open House, which will be Sunday afternoon, December 8th, from 2-4 PM. Just a word to the wise…although we will be airing the Christmas Open House, live and in color, the only way to enjoy the delicious goodies will be to come and visit us in person. We hope to see you here at our studios, at 1100 East 18th Street, Hopkinsville. Merry Christmas to ya’ll.
Music Matters 11-7-13
Hello, Joe Barner back with some thoughts on music, thoughts expressed very well by songwriter and worship leader Darlene Zschech in her devotional book, Revealing Jesus.
Sometimes we focus so much on our worship in the here and now that we forget how the Bible, particularly the book of Revelation, tells us we will worship when we, those who have trusted in Christ to save us, see the Lord face to face. Darlene Zschech’s thoughts point us to future worship, based on Revelation 14:3.
They sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders, but no one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.
“As most songwriters and worship leaders (and music directors for Christian radio stations) understand, part of our role is to bring new songs. In the Psalms alone, over forty times we are asked to sing new songs. New represents life. Songs help us to pray those deepest prayers, giving voice to human expression like nothing else.
There is a new song that will be sung in heaven that contains everything I love, and it will be sung by a special choir made up of the faithful who have endured the tribulation, surviving under the cover of God’s protection. We aren’t given the words for that song, but in the next chapter of Revelation, there is another choir that sings the song of Moses and expresses his heart of praise;
They sang the song of God’s servant Moses and the song of the Lamb: Great and awe-inspiring are Your works, Lord God, the Almighty; righteous and true are Your ways, King of the Nations. 4 Lord, who will not fear and glorify Your name? Because You alone are holy, for all the nations will come and worship before You because Your righteous acts have been revealed. (Rev 15:3-4)
I want to hear that choir of voices and experience the awe of those who stood true for God. (Me, too!) I want to sing that kind of song in heaven-and on earth today. (Amen!) Whether or not you are a talented singer, your voice is at its finest when it expresses praise and honor to the King of nations. Sing a new song today!
(Prayer) Every song I sing, I sing to You, as praise and thanksgiving for your marvelous works, King of nations and my Lord.”
Music Matters 10-24-13
Hello, it me again, Joe Barner, back with some music releases you might want to listen for or check out on your own.
I just received the new issue of Worship Leader Magazine for October 2013. They apparently were getting a jump on those folks who do those year-end best-of lists. Since my main vice is buying new Christian music, I though I would pass along their list of the top 15 worship releases of 2013 for those of you, who like me, love Christian music.
Some of these releases contain music we play on WNLJ/WNLJ, while others are a little edgy for our music format and others I will use as a resource list for music to check into for possible airplay use. To be honest, there are a few on the list I am not familiar with, so I’ve got my work cut out for me. The mark * means these are releases we are playing music from on WNKJ/WNLJ.
So here goes, counting down from # 15 to # 1, according to Worship Leader magazine…
15. B.J Putnam More and More
14. Meredith Andrews Worth It All*
13. Kim Walker Smith & Skyler Smith Home
12. Planetshakers Limitless
11. Rend Collective Experiment Campfires
10. Passion Let the Future Begin*
9. Hillsong Live Glorious Ruins*
8. Daniel Bashta The Invisible
7. Matt Maher All the People Said Amen
6. Elevation Worship Nothing Is Wasted*
5. Chris Tomlin Burning Lights*
4. Hillsong United Zion
3. All Sons and Daughters Live
2. For the Sake of the World Bethel Live
1. Worship Central Let It Be Known
In addition, let me catch you up on some new releases to listen for on WNKJ/WNLJ, ones I have listened to and added songs from to our music rotation. These are worth checking out, as well, in my opinion. Listen for songs from…
Steven Curtis Chapman The Glorious Unfolding
Building 429 We Won’t Be Shaken
Natalie Grant Hurricane
Graham Kendrick Worship Duets
Laura Story God Of Every Story
33 Miles Let It Be Glory
Beyond the Ashes Living In the Moment
Brian Free & Assurance Nothing But Love
Aaron Shust Morning Rises
Love and the Outcome Love and the Outcome
Happy listening! I hope some of these spur you on to deeper worship.
Music Matters 10-10-2013
Hello, I’m Joe Barner with some thoughts from a recent Sunday School lesson on John 4:23-24, part of a conversation had with the Samaritan woman at the well.
23 But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship Him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
The question I want to pose is this; What does it mean to worship God in spirit and in truth? What do you think it means?
One major point in the context of this conversation is that in true worship, location is not important. On this side of the cross, we can worship God anywhere we are. We can and should worship God individually as well as with other believers.
Juan Sanchez, senior pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, Texas, shares some basic principles I found online concerning worshiping in spirit and in truth. They are some of the best I’ve read. I’d like to share them with you. Some of the thoughts are his, and some are mine, the ones in italics.
1. True worship is God-centered. We were created to worship, and we are commanded to worship God alone (
Exodus 20:3-5; Revelation 22:9) in the ways that He has outlined in Scripture (Ecclesiates 5:1-7). Therefore, as we prepare our hearts for worship let’s remember that worship is about God, not us.
2. True worship is also Christ-focused. Jesus Christ is the image of God, the creator, sustainer, and the head of the church (Colossians 1:15-20). It pleased God to reveal Himself through the Son and to reconcile us to Himself through Jesus’ death. So we worship Jesus, and He is the focus of worship because He’s the focus of the Father’s work.
3. True worship is Spirit-empowered. Only those who have been made alive by the power of the Holy Spirit can truly worship God; these are the true worshipers God seeks (John 4:21-24). Did you ever think about that, that someone who does not know Jesus as Lord and Savior can not truly worship? They may get into the music, even be moved emotionally, but they can’t worship in spirit and truth until they know Jesus.
4. True worship is Word-based. God’s Word (the Bible) is the basis of everything we do in worship. Why? Because God’s Word is truth, and because God works by His Word. Think about it…He created by His Word (Genesis 1); He sustains His creation by the Word of His power (Hebrews 1:3); He came into this world as the Word (John 1:1); He saves us by the power of His Word (Romans 1:16). Preaching is the primary form of the Word in our worship because this is the model Jesus and His disciples left us (Luke 4:43; Romans 10:14-15) and because we are commanded to preach the Word until Christ returns.
5. True worship engages both mind and heart. True worship requires that we engage God with our minds as we study His Word and seek to grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. At the same time, it requires that we engage God with our hearts as the fullness of the Holy Spirit in our lives overflows and causes us to praise God in complete delight. This means that our worship will be passionate and Spirit-filled because it is based on the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is what it means to worship God in spirit and truth (John 4:24).
6. True worship is edifying. What does that word mean, to edify? To edify is simply to build up, to make stronger. True worship will build up believers in both mind and heart “until we all attain the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man” (Ephesians 4:11-13). Though worship is all about God, it will benefit us and cause us to grow in our love for Him and one another.
7. True worship is more than Sunday. As believers in Christ, we are not to neglect gathering together (Hebrews 10:24-25). However, true worship is an everyday matter. We are to give our entire lives over to God as living and holy sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2). That means we worship God in how we live, work and play every single day of our lives.
That’s about the best answer I’ve ever come across of what it means to worship God in spirit and in truth. I hope that speaks to you about what God wants in our worship.
Music Matters 10-2-13
Here we are on the day before the WNKJ/WNLJ Care-a-thon. I'm Joe Barner. I tend to get a little sentimental this time of year, reflecting back on some dear family members who are now with the Lord. October 3rd will be my Dad’s 101st birthday, the last twelve spent celebrating with Jesus in heaven, if folks even think about such things there. Most likely spiritual birthdays have more significance for those who’ve gone on before us into the presence of the Lord, than the days of our physical birth.
Home-goings are also precious in heaven. While we celebrate birthdays here, heaven celebrates those who arrive at their eternal home, where there is no more sorrow, sickness, pain, death, or tears. A few years ago, for three years running, one of my family members kept going home to be with Jesus around this time of year. First, it was one of my sister in laws, the next year my mother, and the next year Rachel’s mother. I also remember so many who have been a part of Care-a-thons in years past, saints who believed in and who supported WNKJ with their prayers, finances, and participation. Without their faithfulness to God and to this ministry, WNKJ/WNLJ would not be here still today.
With that in mind, and since we’ve chosen to once again have a Care-a-thon theme song, Jesus: Firm Foundation, after not having one for several years, I thought we could venture down memory lane, recalling past themes and theme songs from Care-a-thons past.
Our first Care-a-thon, 1982, celebrated God’s Faithfulness. There was apparently no theme song, but every year since has in a sense celebrated God’s faithfulness and God’s provision.
1983- Every Year, the Year of the Bible, using a clip from a song by Daniel Amos, The Bible. (Oh the Bible, Holy Bible…)
1984- Passin’ the Faith Along, sung by the Gaither Vocal Band, although at the time they were still called the New Gaither Vocal Band. Like the relay runner, our challenge is to pass on the baton of faith in Christ.
1985- People Need the Lord- Steve Green (Still one of the reasons WNKJ/WNLJ exists, to evangelize the lost, and to equip the saints to share their faith)
1986- Celebrate the Greatness- ????
1987- All Hail the Power- Using a version of the hymn, All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name, by the Dan Burgess Men’s Chorus
1988- Find Us Faithful- Sung by Steve Green. This song still challenges me, as the previous generation of saints ages and graduates to glory; it’s our turn now to be found faithful by those who come behind us. We're never too young to begin leaving a legacy of faithfulness.
1989- Hold Forth the Light, sung by Gerald Wolfe. Gerald was with the legendary quartet, The Cathedrals for a while, and is still singing with Greater Vision as far as I know. This song challenged us to let our lights shine for the Lord Jesus Christ.
1990- For the Glory of the Lord- We used two versions of this song, one by Steve Green, and one by Twila Paris. May all that we do and say bring glory to our God.
1991- Be the One- The song, Be the One, was sung by Al Denson. Will you be the one to answer to His call?
1992- God’s Unhindered Power- This was one of the most challenging to find a song to go with the idea, but we came up with Steven Curtis Chapman’s His Strength is Perfect…His strength, God's Unhindered Power, is made perfect in our weakness.
1993- Serve the Lord- This song was sung by Carman. A bold declaration, that I will, that we will serve the Lord.
1994- I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb- Ray Boltz
1995- We Trust in the Name of the Lord Our God- Steve Green (Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we will trust in the Lord our God.)
1996- Great is the Lord Almighty- I’m not sure who sang this song, (we used a soundtrack from a choir arrangement) but it was written by Dennis Jernigan.
1997- Praises to the King- Steve Green sang the song Praise to the King. He sang a lot of our theme songs, didn’t he?
1998- For Such a Time as This- Wayne Watson
1999- The Most High God- Chris Machen
2000- United in Jesus Christ- I remember Kathy Major, one of our board members from Clarksville, who is one of those dear saints now with the Lord, suggested we use the song, We Are United, by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.
2001- Favorite Song of All- (The Song of the Redeemed). Phillips, Craig, & Dean reminded us that lives surrendered to the Lord cause rejoicing to break out in heaven.
2002- Wisdom- This song by Twila Paris lifted up our Lord Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. True wisdom is knowing Him and walking in His ways.
2003- Glorious God- Don Moen. Oh what a glorious God He is!
2004- Live to Worship- Scott Krippayne reminded us that one of the major reasons God created us was to worship Him.
2005- Go Into the World- Travis Cottrell challenged us with the Great Commission, given by our Lord, to go into the all the world and preach the Gospel, baptizing…, and teaching those who are saved, making disciples. He is with us always as we carry out His marching orders.
2006- We Celebrate You- Shannon Wexelberg sang this great song of celebration of God’s provision and faithfulness.
2007- Days of Elijah- Twila Paris or Paul Wilbur
2008- Chris Tomlin sang our last theme song until 2013, Jesus Messiah (Lord of All)
We continue to celebrate this heritage of faith…with Jesus as our firm foundation, a rock solid legacy left to us through the years. Help us keep it going, if you will, during Care-a-thon 2013. Walk with us on this walk of faith, believing God will continue to supply the needs of WNKJ/WNLJ. Remember, you and I are the only means through which God shows Himself strong as our Jehovah Jireh, the Lord our Provider.
Music Matters 9-19-13
With Care-a-thon 2013 now less than 2 weeks away now, (that should come as no surprise to regular listeners to WNKJ/WNLJ) I want to focus our thoughts on our theme song for this year, Jesus: Firm Foundation. The version we will be using features four different singers, Mike Donehey of Tenth Avenue North, Steven Curtis Chapman, Mark hall of Casting Crowns, and Mandisa.
Since we had downloaded the song as well as the accompaniment beds to use for on-air production spots, I decided to sing the song for special music at church this past Sunday morning. We were having lunch Sunday afternoon with a couple from Fairview who are avid historians. The lady told me that what I sang was Jefferson Davis’s favorite hymn, How Firm a Foundation.
According to Wikipedia, this hymn was also the favorite hymn of General Robert E. Lee, and was sung at his funeral. It has also been played at the funerals of several US politicians, including Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. (Don’t you wish more of today politicians looked to Jesus and God’s Word as the foundation for their lives?)
The ladies who are decorating here at our studios also have chosen to put up a hymn sheet, rather than the lyric sheet I gave them. The tunes are, of course, different. So let me highlight lyrical similarities, and some differences, between our theme song and the hymn.
Our theme song starts out with this first verse…
How firm a foundation, you saints of the lord
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word
What more can He say than to you He has said
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled
The hymn words, penned back in 1787 by John Rippon, are very similar…
"How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?
Verse 2 of Jesus: Firm Foundation, has these words…
Fear not, He is with us, oh be not dismayed
For He is our God, our sustainer and strength
He’ll be our defender and cause us to stand
Upheld by His merciful, almighty hand
And then the chorus, which is new…
How firm, our foundation
How sure, our salvation
And we will not be shaken
Jesus, firm foundation
The original hymn has many verses, (I found as many as seven verses) but the one with similar words to the ones you’ve just read goes like this…
"Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
for I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I'll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
Verse 3 of Jesus: Firm Foundation is a rewrite of another verse. The words…
The soul that is trusting in Jesus as Lord
Will press on enduring the darkest of storm
And though even hell should endeavor to shake
He’ll never, no never, no never forsake
He’ll never, no never, no never forsake
The hymn version goes like this…
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to his foes.
That soul, though all hell should endeaver to shake,
I never, No never, No never forsake.
That soul, though all hell should endeaver to shake,
I will never, No never, No never forsake.
That’s an interesting contrast there, one reminding us that God our Father will never, never forsake us…the other emphasizing the resolve we should have to never forsake Him, to always be true and faithful to God.
Jesus: Firm Foundation closes with this refrain, exalting in the faithfulness of our Firm Foundation, the Lord Jesus Christ …
Age to age He stands, Faithful to the end
All may fade away, But He will remain
He will remain!
How firm, our foundation
How sure, our salvation
And we will not be shaken
Jesus, firm foundation
The challenge presented by both our theme song, Jesus: Firm Foundation, and the hymn, How Firm a Foundation, is this question…Is your life built on that firm foundation, of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word? It’s the only foundation that will not move and shift under us when the storms of life come our way. As one early contemporary Christian singer put it…Jesus is the rock that doesn’t roll. Build your life on Him and encourage your family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers to also build on Jesus the (only) Firm Foundation.
Music Matters 9-6-13
Hello, it’s Joe Barner back with another edition of Music Matters. I was listening to an older CD the other day while picking tomatoes in my brother-in-laws garden (yes, I did share with my coworkers) by a Christian artist named Jami Smith, and remembered some profound comments on worship from the CD liner.
Yes, from the CD liner notes. Although being able to download music is economical, convenient, and immediate…I miss being able to read liner notes and song lyrics, if the print wasn’t too small to make out. Anyway, here is what Jami Smith had to say about worship.
“Worship is when you walk away and all you can think about is Him and your relationship with Him. You are not thinking about the band or the music or whether or not they did your favorite song. You are simply lost in your thoughts of Him; you are remembering what the Holy Spirit taught you; you are relishing in the satisfaction of your soul because your needs have been heard and met…
You are stirred to continue to be obedient to all He has commanded, not out of duty or obligation, but because you are in love with your Creator who loves you like no one can.”
I don’t know about you, but I must admit I rarely get to that depth of worship. True worship leads to obedience to God; now, that’s a radical concept! Jami Smith continues…
“True worship results in change of your heart, of your actions, of your mind. Otherwise, we have simply sung a bunch of songs over and over like choir practice. So, either I am a singer and I go away a bit hoarse or I am a worshipper and go away different.”
Now a singer is one step up from those who just stand or sit, “worshipping silently”, but being a jpyful worshipper is where we want to be. So, if you’re a silent worshipper, open your mouth a get a little hoarse making a joyful noise to the Lord. But may we aspire to become passionate worshippers, who allow the Lord to transform us through our worship.
Music Matters 8-27-13
Hello friend, Joe Barner with you once again with some thoughts on music. Sometimes my thoughts are inspired by what I read, from writers much better than me. From time to time I’ll pass them on to you.
Just today I was reading from a book titled Prayer, Praise, and Promises, penned by Warren Wiersbe, who was the speaker on a program WNKJ carried years ago, called Back to the Bible. He was writing about Psalm 98. I will provide the text for you from the Holman Translation so you don’t have to look it up.
1 Sing a new song to the Lord, for He has performed wonders; His right hand and holy arm have won Him victory. 2 The Lord has made His victory known; He has revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations. 3 He has remembered His love and faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen our God’s victory.
4 Shout to the Lord, all the earth; be jubilant, shout for joy, and sing. 5 Sing to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and melodious song. 6 With trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn shout triumphantly in the presence of the Lord, our King.
7 Let the sea and all that fills it, the world and those who live in it, resound. 8 Let the rivers clap their hands; let the mountains shout together for joy 9 before the Lord, for He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world righteously and the peoples fairly.
Dr. Wiersbe writes...“The Christian faith is a singing faith. Christians ought to be singing people. We are admonished in the Word of God to sing to the Lord. “Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! For He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory.” (verse 1)
Sing about God’s victories. If you think you have no victory in your life, start singing about the victory of the Lord, and you’ll be surprised what He’ll do for you.
Sing about His salvation. “The Lord has made known His salvation; His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations. (verse 2) We should proclaim the message of salvation to people today.
Sing about His mercy and faithfulness. “He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness.” (verse 3) The Lord has been merciful to us, and His faithfulness endures to all generations.
Sing about His coming. Verse 9 tells us that the hills are rejoicing before the Lord, “for he is coming to judge the earth. With righteousness He shall judge the world, and the peoples with equity.” Sing about His coming, for Jesus may come back today!
Are you singing the praises of God in your life? If you’ve lost your song, it may mean that you’ve lost something else-your vision of God, faith in His Word-or perhaps sin has come into your life. Follow the instructions of this psalm and sing to the Lord a new song.”
(Devotional thoughts provided this time by Warren Wiersbe)
Hello, Joe Barner back with you once again. Here are a couple of things I’m pondering, both inspired by Billy Graham. First, from reading recently in Billy Graham’s book, Hope For Each Day…
Shouldn’t rejoicing and praise be hallmarks of our lives? Praise banishes darkness and brings us closer to God. Martin Luther once said, “Come, let us sing a Psalm and drive away the devil!”
That started me thinking of the value of a heart filled with praise in waging spiritual warfare. To Luther, the writer of A Mighty Fortress is Our God, who at times was running for his life because of his belief that "the just shall live by faith", that warfare was very real. It is said that one time he went so far as to throw a bottle of ink at the devil.
Let me remind you of a Biblical example of a song driving away the devil, and bringing spiritual victory. As I recall, the walls of Jericho came down, not as a result of the mighty Israelite war machine, but as the people circled the city time after time, exalting the Lord in worship and praise. That’s how, as the old spiritual says, "Joshua fit de battle of Jericho". Only it wasn’t so much Joshua’s doing, but God acting in response to the obedience and praise of His people.
As Martin Luther reminded us, not just any song will drive away the devil. He recommended singing the Psalms. I would suggest that a song that drives away the devil should be based on the Word of God and exalt the Lord Jesus Christ. Those are the kind of songs the devil cannot stand to hear on our lips. There’s power in the Word of God, spoken or sung. Remember that Jesus Himself resisted the devil’s temptation by quoting the Word of God, by saying over and over, “It is written.”
If I may insert a plug here, and since it’s the WNKJ/WNLJ website I’m sure it will be fine…listening to Christian radio, WNKJ/WNLJ will help to keep that song in your heart and on your lips.
The second part of this Music Matters is also from Dr. Billy Graham, from his newspaper column, My Answer, published yesterday, August 14th.
Dear Billy Graham: Have you heard the expression “worship wars”? Recently we moved to a different city and joined a new church, but the congregation seems at war between those who like contemporary Christian music and those (like us) who prefer more traditional worship. Should we look for another church?
Dr. Graham, who as I recall, incorporated many different styles of music in his evangelistic crusades over the years, was, of course, very wise in his answer.
“I know many churches have experienced similar debates in recent years because of new styles of worship and music. I’m not a musician, of course, but I’m grateful that God has raised up a new generation of composers and musicians who point us to Christ.
That doesn’t mean we should throw out what previous generations have done, however-not at all. If I were a pastor today, I’d probably try to avoid making sudden, radical changes that might cause some to feel they were being ignored or put down. The Bible says, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).
I actually hear less today about these so-called “worship wars” than I did a few years ago; many churches seem to have found ways to bridge the gap between older and newer styles of worship. Some, for example, try to blend the old with the new in their services. Larger churches often have two services, one traditional and one contemporary. Encourage your church’s leadership to explore all options, not just for your sake, but for the sake of the whole congregation, including your youth.
Before you consider changing churches, look beyond this issue to a more important question: can you grow spiritually through this church’s activities? Is Jesus Christ and His Word, the Bible, at its center? Does it offer opportunities for service? The Bible says, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).
Music Matters 8-2-13
Hello, Joe Barner back again with more thoughts on worship, following up on my thoughts from the last time I wrote. I’ve been thinking about some ways we do not exalt the Lord Jesus in our worship.
The first thing that comes to my mind is worship leaders or soloists that attract attention to themselves. Have you ever been singing on a praise team and wanted your voice to be heard over the others? Or your instrument if you are a musician? I confess I’ve been guilty of that on a few occasions. I hear this from time to time in previewing music for WNKJ/WNLJ, where it seems the lead worshipper sings in and around the melody line, just so he or she can be heard. I say seems, because I don’t know the heart of that singer, but it seems to be a trend. I’ve noticed even some solo arrangements in choir music seem almost to be written to show off the soloist’s vocal chops. But, anything that takes away from our focus on the Lord Jesus during worship is a distraction, and does not exalt our Lord Jesus Christ.
Lifestyle issues can also keep us from exalting our Savior in our worship. Yes, we are not under law, but under grace, but when our hearts are not right with God or with our fellow believers we are worshipping in vain. May I say modest dress is also essential, especially for those who lead in worship? I often think of these words about worship in Psalm 24. Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not set his mind on what is false, and who has not sworn deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Being too conscious of what others think if we really get into our worship can also prevent us from exalting God in our worship. For the most part, I believe we as believers are too reserved in worship. Yes, we are to consider one another in worship, and not offend. (We can worship in such a way as to call attention to ourselves.) On the other hand, we should not look down on someone who begins to get “lost in worship.” Who knows, if I really worship, my worship might be contagious. My enthusiastic worship might free someone else to worship with greater abandon.
I experienced this a few weeks ago when our church had the Jamie Worley Band lead in a Sunday night worship service. We were in the midst of a time of invitation and a few folks were responding to the voice of God’s Spirit. We were singing a song called The Stand with these words…(recorded by Hillsong United)
Music Matters 7-19-2013
Hello, Joe Barner back again after a small case of writer’s block. I have saved in my files an article written by Pastor H. B London, retired head of Pastoral Ministries at Focus on the Family, an article called The Significance of Your Music. Today I want to share excerpts from that article, regarding our style of worship, whether it be in the church or on a Christian radio station. Pastor London writes…
“As I travel around the country, the one thing I see dividing congregations and setting pastors and people at odds with one another is music. It forces me to agree with what many church experts are saying-music will define your church’s ministry. Like it or not, the style of worship music you choose will impact who will join you in serving the Lord.”
Pastor London also quotes Pastor Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, and pastor of Saddleback Church in Mission Viego, California…
“I believe music style is the greatest positioning factor in the local church, even more than preaching style. It determines whom you will attract. Tell me your style of music, and I will tell you whom you’re reaching and whom you will never reach. The moment you define your music, you define your church.”
In other words, music is a tool we can use to draw folks toward the Lord Jesus. Many churches have successfully used contemporary worship to reach out to young families, combined of course with powerfully preaching the Word.
You can have the most lively worship times but if the preaching is not based on God’s Word you may have big numbers, but little spiritual depth. Also, the worship music we use should be music of substance, music that has a Biblical message, and is tied closely to God’s Word. Maybe then it can have the staying power of many of our hymns.
So, while music can be a tool we use to attract people to the Lord, we must remember, as my pastor, David Tucker, at Second Baptist Church, Hopkinsville, reminded us recently, something to the effect of…The wrong question to ask when we leave a worship service is not whether we enjoyed it or not…More importantly, did our worship honor the Lord? Was He exalted and lifted up by our worship?
Jesus said in John 12:32…And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.
He, of course, was speaking of His death on the cross, as the next verse tells us. But I believe what he said also applies to our worship. If He is central and all that we say and sing exalts Him, not only will we as Christians be drawn closer to our Savior, but those who are unbelievers will be drawn to Him by the power of His Holy Spirit. Let’s do our best to lift Him up in our worship, and watch Him do the drawing of folks to Himself.
Music Matters 7-8-13
Hello, I'm Joe Barner, back again with another Music Matters. Recently a line from the
hymn Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing has been running through my head, the line
that says...Tune my heart to sing Thy grace.
I can understand the need for my voice to need some tuning from time to time, to get
back on key. That's important for those who are called to a ministry of music, who record
CD's ofMP3's, and to those of us who sing in a choir or who from time to time sing on a
But for the average worshipper, it's most important that our hearts are in tune with the
Lord. I would venture to say He values a heart that is in tune with Him more than a voice
in tune. So how do I get my heart in tune with the Lord?
1. Live a life that seeks to please the Lord, including regular time with Him in prayer
and in God's Word. (Listening to WNKJ/WNLJ wouldn't hurt, either)
2. Before we come to worship, we should ask the Lord to search our hearts, and then
confess any sin hidden there that the Holy Spirit brings to mind. After all, I
believe unconfessed sin can get our hearts out of tune quicker than anything else.
I like the prayer penned by the writer of Psalm 139:23-24. Search me, God,
and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any
offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way.
3. Also, our hearts will stay in tune if we stay in unity with our fellow believers.
Harmony can add so much to the quality of our worship, whether it is in the sound
of our worship or the spirit of our worship.
Those are just a few ways we all can tune our hearts"to sing God's grace.
Also, here are some thoughts I read recently from Max Lucado in his weekly Upwords,
available from crosswalk.com.
"When author Lloyd Douglas attended college, he lived in a boardinghouse with a
retired music professor who lived on the first floor. Douglas would stick his head in the
door and ask, "Well, what's the good news?"
The old man would pick up his tuning fork, tap it on the side ofhis chair and say, "That's
middle C. It was middle C yesterday; it will be middle C tomorrow; it will be middle C a
thousand years from now. The tenor upstairs sings flat. The piano across the hall is out
oftune, but myfriend, that is middle C. "
You and I need a middle C. A still point in a turning world. An unchanging Shepherd. A
God who can still the storm. A Lord who can declare the meaning oflife. And according
to Psalm 23, you have One. The Lord is your Shepherd. He is your middle C!
If we ask Him, He will tune our hearts to sing His grace.
Music Matters 6-26-13
I was pondering the other day what Hebrews 13:15 means when it says…
Therefore, through Him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips that confess His name.
As usual, the context helps us to get a clearer view. Here are verses 13 & 14 of Hebrews 13.
Let us then go to Him outside the camp, bearing His disgrace. For we do not have an enduring city here; instead, we seek the one to come.
What I get from these verses is that we should praise the Lord even when the world hates us and thinks we are fools for Christ. Also, we need to remember that we do not have an enduring city here; in other words, this world is not our home, we’re just passing through. So, even though what you and I are going through right now might not be to our liking, we can look down the road to both what God is doing and teaching us, and, if we know Jesus, to eternity with Him in our eternal home.
So, to put it simply, offering a sacrifice of praise to God means we praise Him no matter what we’re going through. I’m thinking of some Biblical examples, such as Job, who when suffering the loss of possessions and children, uttered these words in Job 1:21…
Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will leave this life. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Praise the name of Yahweh.
I’m thinking of the early church leaders, who in Acts 5:41…went out from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be dishonored on behalf of the Name.
Certainly Paul and Silas offered to the Lord a sacrifice of praise in Acts 16. This past Sunday the folks at Second Baptist Church, Hopkinsville, graciously allowed me to sing these words from the group Selah.
In prisoner’s chains, with bleeding stripes, Paul and Silas prayed that night…And in their pain began to sing. Their chains were loosed, and they were free. I bless Your name, I bless Your name. I give You honor, give You praise…You are the life, the truth, the way. I bless Your name, I bless Your name.
The second verse suggests that when we offer a sacrifice of praise, we experience God’s power, freeing us from the chains of discouragement and self-pity.
Some midnight hour, if you should find…You’re in a prison in your mind…Reach out and praise, defy those chains, and they will fall in Jesus’ name.We bless Your name, We bless Your name. We give You honor, give You praise. You are the life, the truth, the way. We bless Your name. We bless Your name.
Let me encourage you today, no matter what you face…offer to the Lord a sacrifice of praise, the fruit of our lips that confess and bless His name. I believe He will either change our circumstances as we are faithful to praise Him…or, He will change our hearts and minds, giving us peace and joy even in the midst of the storm.
Music Matters Part 6 6-18-13
Hello! Joe Barner back with you again with some thoughts on music and worship. This past week on Saturday Night Wind Down, airing from 9 to 10 PM, part of WNKJ/WNLJ’s more contemporary Saturday nights, I shared this devotional from a little book I picked up at Lifeway Bookstore a year or so ago, called Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, a reading called Mirror His Passion.
“The boy followed the words on the screen and sang along as best he could. The pews were filled with many others like him, standing at attention, adding their voices to the music, but their bodies were stiff. A gentle swaying was the most radical motion in sight, and the boy was acutely aware of it.
Uncomfortable, he felt compelled to do something…anything…so he threw his hands up in the air and closed his eyes until the end of the song. To his surprise, by the time he opened his eyes again, others were candidly worshipping, unrestrained.
One of the greatest inhibitors of public worship is our fear of self-expression. The question of what others will think of us tends to distract from genuine adoration. But take a look at King David’s ways of worship in the Old Testament. His life is testament to the fact that no half-hearted devotion will do in our relationship with God. Our Creator will take undignified praise over a lukewarm response any day.
Father, let nothing inhibit me as I worship you.”
That speaks to me, because sometimes I find myself too inhibited in worship. Sometimes it takes just one person, focusing their hearts on Jesus, and not on what others might think, to set a whole congregation free to worship. Yes, there is a case to be made for not making our fellow worshippers uncomfortable with going overboard, to respect one another, but true worship from the heart can be very contagious.
I believe God is pleased when we do like that boy, close our eyes, raise our hands, and exalt the One who stretched out His hands for you and for me. A little praise chorus from the 70’s sticks in my mind, author unknown, but it was on the original Praise 1 recording from Maranatha Music. It’s a great prayer song to be more uninhibited in our praise.
Set my spirit free that I might worship Thee
Set my spirit free that I might praise Thy name
Let all bondage go and let deliverance flow
Set my spirit free to worship Thee.
Music Matters Part 5
Back a month or so ago a listener who had recently returned from wintering in Florida commented on the amount of new music she was hearing. I’m not sure she meant the comment in a positive way, but when I thought about it, it let me know that I should have taken it positively. Yes, there’s a comfort for many in knowing what you will hear when you turn on WNKJ/WNLJ; there’s a positive aspect to being dependable and predictable.
That comment started my mind on pondering the value of new music, both on WNKJ/WNLJ, and in church worship services. Let me present what the Psalms have to say about singing a new song unto the Lord. In my devotional reading this morning, I read Psalm 149:1.
Hallelujah! Sing to the Lord a new song, His praise in the assembly of the godly.
Sing a new song to Him; play skillfully on the strings, with a joyful shout.
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.
And Psalm 98:1
Sing a new song to the Lord, for He has performed wonders; His right hand and holy arm have won Him victory.
This idea of singing a new song to the Lord is repeated over and over. Let me cite some reasons off the top of my head why I believe the Lord loves to hear us sing Psalms and hymns, the familiar, but also spiritual songs, even new songs.
It’s not that God gets tired of our singing hymns or psalms, but we need to express our worship in fresh ways. Sadly, we get bored all too easily. New songs often bring a freshness and vitality to a church worship service, and they do the same thing for a Christian radio station.
We tend to sometimes mindlessly sing what is familiar. We can make a joyful noise, but not bring our minds and hearts into worship. God wants our total being engaged in worship. Learning a new worship song can help us focus on the Lord.
Our creative God wants us to be creative as well. It seems when God is moving among His people, He often raises up those whom He has gifted to write songs of worship. If you don’t have a song-writer in your church, that’s OK. In our time, technology is a tool that can bring this fresh worship to just about any church or radio station wanting to get in on this move of God.
With that in mind, we’ll continue bringing new songs to the airwaves of WNKJ/WNLJ, I’m sure at a pace too fast for some, and too slow for others…while balancing them with your favorites. In other words, don’t expect any drastic changes.
We realize in this world that is filled with rapid changes that it’s good to have some things that are reliable, that hold to the truths of God’s Word, while maintaining freshness and avoiding staleness. That’s our goal, because the World Needs King Jesus, or to put it in a slightly different way, the World Needs the Lord Jesus.
Yours in Christ,
Music Matters, Part 4 5-25-13
Colossians 3:16 contains this interesting instruction on how God’s people are to worship Him.
Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God.
Ephesians 5:19 is very similar…
Speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music from your heart to the Lord,
It seems to me from these verses that believers are called to several kinds of worship, psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. First, we are to sing the Psalms to God. Early in church history, God’s people used the words of the Psalms to exalt Him, and still today, many of our worship songs are inspired by and based on the Psalms.
From what I’ve read, some of the early hymn writers were motivated by a desire to sing songs about our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, and although some of the Psalms speak prophetically of the Messiah, these writers began to write hymns about Jesus, about the Gospel found in the New Testament. Even today, we still sing these old hymns. Sometimes the words may be hard to understand, and they challenge us to think deeply, which is not a bad thing, is it?
Many hymns contain great theological truth. The hymn writers expressed the truths about what they believed about God in their lyrics. Those words and melodies have been tried and proven over the years as they have been sung over and over again. I have seen how those words and tunes of beloved hymns stay with people, both in a sister-in-law, now with the Lord, who couldn’t see well enough to see the hymnbook because of diabetes, but who didn’t miss a word when singing in church. I saw the same thing a few weeks ago when singing hymns with a group from our church at a local nursing home. One lady, w/o a hymnbook, sang hymn after hymn with us.
Let me also make the point that I believe hymns are still being written. One recording from the Passion Band is called “Hymns: Ancient and Modern” I love that title! Some modern songs sound like hymns and are making their way onto the favorites list at most churches, and into the hymns category at WNKJ/WNLJ, because they contain so much theology and Bible teaching. Folks like Keith & Kristyn Getty and some tunes from Chris Tomlin, just to name a couple of writers, certainly qualify as modern hymns. As hymnbooks are revised, they are added in to the song lists of the church. Many churches with contemporary services are also wisely making singing hymns a part of their worship.
So, our worship of the Lord is to include psalms…and hymns…and spiritual songs. I’m thinking that those “spiritual songs” we sing are newer songs. As God works in each generation, He inspires skilled musicians to write fresh songs of worship and praise.
Back when I was growing up in the church, we sang from the hymnbook, and from a folder of choruses. (That was back in the days before churches had screens to sing from.) Today we too sing fresh songs, newly written, perhaps from the Psalms…along with those tried and true songs we refer to as hymns.
Next time I want to think with you some more about what the Bible means by spiritual songs, and what the Psalms mean when they urge us to sing a new song to the Lord. Email me your comments on spiritual songs and new songs to the Lord at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d like to include them in the next Music Matters.
Yours in Christ,
Music Matters Part 3
Hello, this is Joe Barner. On a recent Monday morning Front Porch with “Los Tres Amigos”, our friend Ken Cummins challenged us from Ephesians 4:25, to put away lying, and to speak truth with our neighbor. We made application in many areas of life how important it is to speak the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, or to not speak at all, as my mother told me, and as your mother probably did as well. Just today, in reading Chuck Swindoll’s Day By Day devotional book, I was reminded how important it is to also sing the truth as we worship the Lord. God expects us to be truthful with Him as well, and He knows perhaps even better than we do when we profess in our singing more than what we live out in our lives. Here’s the bulk of Chuck’s challenge to “Mean What You Sing.”
“Nothing touches the human heart deeper than music. This is never more true than when a group of Christians sings heartily unto their Lord…When congregations sing the praises of the King, even the demonic hosts stand at attention…Great music from God’s people instructs and reproves, blesses and relieves…
But have you noticed the fly in our melodic ointment? It is not a lack of beauty or harmony, nor is it insufficient volume or intensity. It is, plain and simple, the presence of words with an absence of meaning. We sing well, but we fail to heed the message hidden behind the bars.
Stop and think. There’s a line in “take My Life and Let it Be” that always makes me pause as the words tick in my throat. “Take my silver and my gold, not a mite would I withhold.” Imagine! Not even a mite! We all sing that with such ease, yet I have known few who wouldn’t withhold something. Including me.
Last Sunday, after the service our congregation sang “I give all my witness to You”…and then we left. We all got into our cars, drove away, and most of us have not seen one another since. What’s been happening? Has He had our witness? Have the days that passed been much different than two weeks earlier? A month? Those things haunt me.
Think of each song or hymn as a promise to God, a binding statement of your commitment. Picture the results of this commitment as you sing it with gusto. Then, after the song has ended, apply it with the same gusto. God not only loves a cheerful giver; He honors a sincere singer.
This Sunday, put yourself into the lyrics of each hymn (or worship song), considering them your own personal credo. See what a difference it makes.”
Wow, I believe our friend Chuck Swindoll is on to something important. If we take his words to heart, remembering God demands that we worship Him in Spirit and in truth, there may be times we have to choose to not sing, because we’re not to the level of commitment we need to be to sing truthfully. Could there be times no one should be singing these songs or hymns of commitment and devotion, because none of us are in that place in our devotion to the Lord?
There may be other times we may have to pray, “Lord, I can’t sing these words right now from my heart, but I really want to mean them from my heart. And so I sing them, trusting You to move me to that place I can be truthful with You before my brothers and sisters in Christ.” Kind of that, “I believe, help Thou my unbelief” idea.
After all, not only does our music matter, but telling the truth matters, especially when we’re talking to God our Father, who knows what we speak (or sing), before a word is on our lips, and who looks on the heart.
Music Matters, Part 2
Hi, this is Joe Barner back with you with another Music Matters. This time I’m going to try to answer the question, “where does WNKJ find their music?” These days we still receive just a few sampler CD’s in the mail, or sometimes listeners drop off a CD for us.
More often folks give us an opportunity to listen to MP3’s received through email at email@example.com. We also go online a lot in search of new releases. So hang on for some websites. One valuable tool I use is the new release or pre-buy category at christianbook.com, in the music section.
Another helpful online source is thru songdiscovery.com, to which we subscribe. The benefits include a sampler CD of worship music 8 times throughout the year, and a very nice magazine I recommend to worship leaders or music ministers called Worship Leader. Worship Leader magazine publishes reviews of new CD’s in each issue, which we then take either to christianbook.com or amazon.com, where we can both sample and purchase MP3’s for individual songs. (Some folks also use itunes.com.) If you use a particular website we haven’t mentioned, please give us an email heads up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From time to time some of my co-workers or listeners give me tips, to check out a particular song or artist. Also, from time to time I look to see if anything new is available from artists we already play. There’s so much Christian music out there today it’s nearly impossible to keep up, as many churches and artists heed the Psalms’ admonition to sing a new song unto the Lord.
If we can only use a few songs from a recording, downloading MP3’s is more economical than purchasing an entire CD, although I’m still old school in that I prefer to have a CD copy with cover art and lyric sheets available.
Part of being old school, of course, is that we also shop a local Christian bookstore. One can find some pretty good prices on music there. Clearance bins and pre-buys offer an opportunity to save a few dollars. For instance, back a few months ago I found a new Steve Green CD at Lifeway Christian Store, Rest in the Wonder, which yielded a bunch of new songs for WNKJ/WNLJ.
Other CD’s we found very useful for airplay since the first of the year are…
Chris Tomlin Burning Lights
Meredith Andrews Worth It All
Casting Crowns The Acoustic Sessions, Volume 1
Graham Kendrick Banquet
Shannon Wexelberg Take Heart
Jeremy Camp Reckless
Various Jesus:Firm Foundation
Paul Wilbur Your Great Name
Thanks for listening,
Joe Barner, Music Director
Hello, this is Joe Barner, with some thoughts on the music of WNKJ/WNLJ. One of the characteristics that sets WNKJ/WNLJ apart from many other Christian stations is the music mix. So indeed, for us, the music matters. From the very beginning, those who set up the music moved away from a top 40 format, choosing instead a mix of inspirational, contemporary, southern Gospel or country, and traditional (hymns). Later on, we added a fifth category, older songs, tried and true songs or worship and praise. Now we also have a music rotation for the more contemporary programming on Saturday evenings.
Those categories still determine how our music is mixed, with a volume of songs way beyond 40, more like 1500 to 2000 songs. That way, you don’t hear the same songs over and over; it lends itself to a greater variety. When I came to WNKJ back in 1983, all that was already in place, as a foundation, to be tweaked here and there over the years. After being here a year or so, Jim Adams asked me to pick up the job of music director. Duane Harms had been doing it, but he was up to his eyeballs in writing computer programs, wearing too many hats. We had a stack of records, yes, records…about a foot thick with which to get started.
In those days we played our music off of records, placing each LP on the turntable and “cueing” it up, getting it where it would start right up when you flipped a switch. Those were the days when many of the Christian music companies would send you new records, or at least a number of single songs. Some artists would do that as well. We also had a relationship with some of the record companies where we could order from their catalog at a reduced price.
Records soon became CD’s in the mid 80’s, with a cleaner sound, although they didn’t prove to be indestructible as they were touted to be. Up until a few years ago we played all our music from CD’s, and still keep a CD copy of every song for backup purposes.
Not every song that comes thru the music director’s office makes it on to the air. Actually, only a small percentage are accepted for airplay. Like the way to salvation, narrow is the way to WNKJ/WNLJ’s music rotation and few are those that find it. Broad is the way that leads to the infamous dead file, and many are those recordings who go in that direction. Some don’t make it on the air because they are just not good enough. Some are rejected because they don’t fit the style or the sound we’ve established over the years. Just a few now and then don’t quite line up with God’s Word, our ultimate authority.
Things have changed a little over the years as to how we get our music, Next time I’ll share some of those sources.