Music Matters 4-4-14
Many times ministry for the Lord is a matter of just being faithful, whether you see results or experience positive feedback. And sometimes, to be honest with you, I get discouraged when it seems like no one appreciates your service, which should be unto the Lord anyway.
So I found this article from January 6, 2014, in Our Daily Bread, by Julie Ackerman Link, very encouraging. Let me share some of it with you, because it speaks to me, and perhaps it will encourage you, as well…
“One winter night composer Johann Sebastian Bach was scheduled to debut a new composition. He arrived at the church expecting it to be full. Instead he learned that no one had come. Without missing a beat, Bach told his musicians that they would still perform as planned. They took their places, Bach raised his baton, and soon the empty church was filled with magnificent music.
This story made me do some soul-searching. Would I write if God were my only audience? How would my writing be different? …
I doubt that the “devotional writer” David, whose psalms we turn to for comfort and encouragement, had “readers” in mind. The only audience he had in mind was God.
Whether our deeds, mentioned in Matthew 6, are works of art or acts of service, we should keep in mind that they are really between us and God. Whether or not anyone else sees does not matter, He is our audience…Serve for an audience of one.”
That encourages me when feedback seems almost non-existent; how about you? When you look at it in the proper perspective, if we work as unto the Lord, that’s all He requires. Colossians 3:23-24 says…
23 Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.
God looks for you and for me to simply be faithful, to not get discouraged or weary when we don’t see results, when it seems our service to Him does not impact anyone. I lean hard sometimes on the promise of Galatians 6:9.
9 So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.
Keep on serving the Lord, my friend. Let’s be found faithful when He returns. Let’s leave that legacy of faithfulness to all who come behind us.
Yours in Christ,
Music Matters 3-25-14
Hello, I’m Joe Barner. One week after singing the words, “Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is Well, It is well with my soul”, our church family got to live out those words, after the death of one our fine young men, just 17 years old, "Qua", Dequavias Weaver, in a tragic accident in the Lexington area last Friday evening.
Rachel and I have known Qua’s family for a while. One of his mother’s sisters had ministered to our family by helping to care for Rachel’s mother for several years in her struggle with Parkinson’s/dementia. So we had gotten well acquainted with Qua and his family. In recent years Qua with his gentle, quiet spirit had become a major part of the youth group at Second Baptist Church, Hopkinsville…and also a much loved part of our church family.
Just a few nights before the accident Qua and his mother had delivered strawberries to our home, strawberries he was selling to help raise some money for the Christian County football team. As we said goodnight, for some reason he asked for a hug from each of us, which we were glad to give, and in so doing he blessed us with a special memory of him we’ll always treasure.
So this past Sunday was an emotional time for us at SBC. Earlier in the week, we had a senior saint pass into the Lord’s presence at the ripe old age of 97, and one of our families had also had a brother get to see his and our Savior face to face at age 49. In his message, Brother David Tucker reminded us that death is very much a part of life, that death, at whatever age, 97, 49, or 17…whether expected or unexpected, is a transition from this life into the Lord’s presence, for those who have trusted the Lord Jesus, like these three gentlemen.
The essential issue is that we be ready when our days here come to a close, which could be at any moment. Two of the three gentlemen had no idea they would soon see their Savior face to face, but I’m so glad to know they were prepared anyway. (By the way, friend, do you know Jesus? Are you ready if He returns today, or if this is your last day on this earth?)
I experienced and observed this past Sunday that a sacrifice of praise can often be simply acknowledging that God is good and that He is sovereign, in control…even when we may be asking the question “Why?” Praise is possible and precious in God’s sight even when we don’t yet see His purpose. A sacrifice of praise is often offered up with tears in your eyes, or sometimes you can’t sing at all because you are choked up and tears are running down your face. Still, in the Lord’s eyes and ears, I believe our praise is beautiful in such circumstances.
That was our experience Sunday as our choir sang “Who can satisfy my soul?”
Who can satisfy my soul like You?
Who on earth could comfort me
And love me like You do?
Who could ever be more faithful true?
I will trust in You; I will trust in You, my God
There is a fountain, who is a King
Victorious Warrior, and Lord of everything
My Rock, my Shelter, my very own
Blessed Redeemer, who reigns upon the throne.
Who could ever be more faithful true?
I will trust in You; I will trust in You, my God
Now, I admit, personally, those last lines choked me up, and I had difficulty singing for the emotions I was feeling, and I wasn’t alone in the struggle.
Later on in the worship service, we sang Matt Redman’s “Bless, the Lord, Oh My Soul”, (10,000 Reasons) one of the best worship songs to come along in awhile, in my opinion. Again, the words were close to home.
The sun comes up It's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass And whatever lies before me
Let me be singing When the evening comes
You're rich in love And You're slow to anger
Your name is great And Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons For my heart to find
Bless the Lord O my soul
O my soul Worship His Holy name
Sing like never before O my soul
I'll worship Your Holy name
Don’t skip by this next verse…Sing it with assurance, maybe even as I did Sunday with hands lifted high to the Lord…
And on that day When my strength is failing
The end draws near And my time has come
Still my soul will Sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years And then forevermore
Bless the Lord O my soul
O my soul Worship His Holy name
Sing like never before O my soul
I'll worship Your Holy name
Can you imagine the worship these three are experiencing…with so many others who have gone before us, around the throne of God, a worship that will never end, seeing the One who gave His life and rose from the grave to make it all possible?
And the best part is…one day, if we know the Lord Jesus….we’ll get to join them! Let’s take some more folks with us. That’s our mission, both as individuals and as a Christian radio station…because the World Needs King Jesus…the Lord Jesus.
Let’s lift up His name together, and as we do, we know…we know…that the Holy Spirit will draw many to Christ. Then they too will get to join that awesome worship one day, in a place our Lord Jesus has prepared for those who love Him, a place where there will be no more pain, suffering, aging, tragedies, death, or seperation from those we love.
Music Matters 3-21-14
This morning I heard a song on WNKJ/WNLJ based on 1st Thessalonians 5:18.
Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (HCSB)
Give thanks in everything. Everything? Yes, that’s what God’s Word says. The book Stand Firm, from Walk Thru the Bible, elaborates…
“Praising God is our natural response to His glory and goodness. But what about when things are terrible, as they were for Job, as they were for Job? Somehow job was able to rise above his circumstances (at least some of the time) and praise God despite his pain.” Job 1:21 records these words from Job.
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.
“Elsewhere, we’re commanded to rejoice always. (1st Thessalonians 5:16) And James says to consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials. (James 1:2) Pain does not preclude praise. In the dark times praise truly becomes a sacrifice, a defiant act of faith against the enemy and all he throws at us. Praise recognizes that our good God is still in control and worthy of worship, no matter what.
Praising God may sometimes feel like a sacrifice, but it is always hugely beneficial for us. Praise takes our minds off our problems and focuses our minds on God. It gives God the right to rule and to reign in our lives however He sees fit. It acknowledges that God knows more about what he is doing than we do.
It believes that God can take all the bad stuff of life and make something good come out of it. (see Romans 8:28) Commit to praising God no matter what is going on in your life and watch your faith grow. That kind of praise brings glory to God and inspires others.
Difficult as it may be sometimes, we’re called to praise God in all circumstances. It is the ultimate act of trust, and it brings great glory to God.”
Such was the praise of hymn writer H. G. Spafford, who after losing four children tragically at sea, still was able to pen the words, “Even so, it is well, it is well with my soul.” We were blessed to sing those words last Sunday, rejoicing in the Lord, no matter what.
To sing the words is one thing, but to have that be the song of our hearts when the circumstances of our lives go south, that’s the challenge for us, to still offer a sacrifice of praise to God. Let’s do it.
Music Matters 3-13-14
Hello, I’m Joe Barner with some thoughts on worship, stemming from our recent trip to the Jersey Shore, PA area, in north central Pennsylvania, for the wedding of my nephew. Maybe you are interested, like our good friend Billy T. Russell, who said to Rachel & I, “Tell me about your trip.” If so, please read on.
We drove the 775 mile trip each way. We left Hopkinsville on Thursday, March 6th…and returned on Monday, the 10th. Who would have thought the only snow on the roads we would encounter this early in March would be getting out of our neighborhood, when our route would stretch through both Ohio and I-80 across northern PA?
We did see plenty of snow on the ground, which added a scenic touch to the barrenness of winter. Isn’t God good? We saw many ponds still frozen over, as was the creek that flows near the house where I grew up, Pine Creek. Although it’s called a creek, (we pronounced it crick when I was growing up, before I moved to KY and discovered a crick was a pain in your back or neck) it’s perhaps 4 times wider than Little River here in Christian County. The ice had not yet broken up and gone out. Yet the temperatures were in the 40s and 50s during the day. By the way, Pine Creek was where I was first baptized years ago, as the congregation stood on the bank and sang “Shall We Gather at the River.” However, it was in the summertime long after the ice had melted, but it was still pretty cold, as I recall.
We enjoyed spending time with family, of course, and after the wedding Saturday we stayed on until Sunday afternoon, so we could fellowship with my old home church family from 30+ years ago, Mountain View Alliance Church. It’s a small church, depending on what you’re used to, of 100 to 120 people. The congregation bought an elementary school that had been closed years ago, and did a total remodel, and it turned out quite well.
Their worship service reminded me that it sometimes we would profit from observing how another congregation worships the same God we do, but in a little different way, perhaps. At Mountain View Alliance Church, the pastor leads the worship and also preaches the message. They have no Minister of Music, nor do they have a praise team or choir, although years ago they did have a choir. I remember because I was in it.
We sang hymns accompanied by piano and electric organ. The way the organ was played, it had that old Hammond B-3 flavor, adding a lot of soul, or as Kenneth Bates would say, a savory flavor. We sang a couple of hymns, from the hymnbook…with no words on the screen…one I barely remembered and struggled to sing because it was arranged a bit high for my baritone voice (it sure would be nice to have worship in a little lower key sometimes)…the other a classic, one called When I See the Blood (I will pass, I will pass over you).
Have you noticed…different churches often use different hymns and choruses to worship our God? None of us has the final word on what is proper worship. Our God is a God of diversity!
In the midst of the service, a video clip was shown of some missionaries they were supporting, in Thailand. The clip contained short testimonies of those being baptized, and then their baptism in a swimming pool. Like the Southern Baptist Church where I attend, they baptize by immersion, only instead of the pastor dipping and bringing back up the one being baptized, the pastor put his hands on their heads, and pushed them down under as they squatted. It worked that way, too, and was neat to see God using their mission support.
They then observed the other ordinance Christ gave to the church, the Lord’s Supper. After the elders had distributed the elements (crackers and grape juice), Pastor Bob invited anyone who was sick to be anointed and prayed for by the elders, as James 5:14-15 instructs us…
Is anyone among you sick? He should call for the elders of the church, and they should pray over him after anointing him with olive oil in the name of the Lord. 15 The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will restore him to health; if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
Several individuals came forward to be anointed and prayed for by the pastor and elders. Most of us pray for the sick, and we believe God heals, but we don’t always see this done. The Christian and Missionary Alliance takes that James passage literally. In fact, that denomination and missionary sending agency founded by A. B. Simpson exalts the Lord Jesus with what Mr. Simpson called the Fourfold Gospel, lifting up Jesus as our Savior, our Sanctifier, our Healer, and our coming King. (I still remember after all these years!)
After communion my Aunt Pat sang a hymn for us. I can’t and won’t tell you how many years young she is, but I was impressed that her voice still remained strong and true. What a blessing to witness one still using her talents after all these years to exalt our Lord and King Jesus!
We heard a good message from Hebrews 11, with a sermon focusing on Sarah, who initially laughed at the promise of a son in her old age and in Abraham’s old age, 90 and 100 respectively…but like you and I sometimes, after some times of doubt and perhaps even failure, trying to make the promise happen, we finally come around to walking by faith, by the grace of God. That’s right, Sarah ended up in the Hall of Fame of faith, in Hebrews 11.
So it was a neat experience, returning to my spiritual roots, to the church where I was born again and baptized and grew in the Lord…to reconnect with some dear saints who had a part in my spiritual life in those early years. Thanks for letting me share my thoughts and ramblings with ya’ll.
Speaking of that great phrase “ya’ll” (it’s so much better than what those Yankees say, “you guys”) when we checked in at a local hotel, they asked me where I was from. I told them I was from Kentucky but had grown up there. They seemed surprised! Do you reckon my southern accent gave me away?
Then came the ultimate slap in the face, figuratively, when a fellow standing nearby asked what year I had graduated, and when I told him 1977, he asked if I had gone to school with his mother, giving me this “you’re really old” look.
We almost went to another place to stay, but it turned out Jersey Shore, PA only had one hotel, which was one more than they had a few years ago. They’re making progress, I guess, but it’s where I’m from, originally, so I won’t be too hard on them.
Music Matters 3-5-14
Hello friend, Joe Barner, sharing some brief challenging thoughts on having a proper attitude in worship, from Walk Thru the Bible’s Stand Firm devotional.
“How quickly we judge others in their worship, deeming theirs to be less than our own. Whether it’s the style of their music, the formality of their dress, or the outward expression of their praise, both young and old have been guilty of assuming their own worship of God is the acceptable version. We’ve assumed our way and God’s way are the same.
Don’t let the way others worship become a heart hang up for you. Instead, keep your eyes of Jesus, and focus on how your worship offering might please Him. If you do that, you will be blessed and God will be honored. Purpose to give God your best in worship this coming Sunday.”
One added thought on worship and praise, from the writer of the Matthew Henry Commentary, Matthew Henry himself…”Be not afraid of saying too much in the praises of God; all the danger is saying too little.”
Music Matters 2-14-14
In recent years I’ve really grown to appreciate the writings of Dr. Billy Graham. Recently in his book, Hope for Each Day, he wrote concerning True Worship, based on Psalm 95:6-7.
Come, let us bow down in worship. Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for He is our God and we are the sheep of His pasture, the flock under His care.
“When was the last time you truly worshipped God?…What is worship anyway?
Worship in the truest sense takes place only when our attention is on God- on His glory, His power, His majesty, His love, His compassion. And if we’re honest, this doesn’t happen very often, because even in church or in our times of quiet devotion we get distracted and fail to see God as He really is.
Notice in these verses what prompted the psalmist’s worship. First, he recognized that God was the Lord, the sovereign, all-powerful God of the universe. He recognized, too, that God had made him; he wasn’t here by accident but by God’s perfect plan. Finally, He worshipped God because God had made him a part of His flock, constantly watching over him and providing for his every need.
Learn to shut out the distractions that keep you from truly worshipping God. Then turn your mind and heart to Him every day, praising Him for who He is and thanking Him for His love for you in Christ.”
Good advice on true worship from a man who has walked with the Lord for a long time, don’t you think?
Yours in Christ,
Music Matters 2-11-14
Hello, Joe Barner back again with some thoughts on music, especially music that either is a prayer set to music, which many of the Psalms were…or music that challenges us to pray. One such song is the great song from third day called “Cry Out to Jesus.”
This past Sunday at Second Baptist Church in Hopkinsville, Josiah Brand shared his version of that song with our church family, exalting Jesus and at the same time getting the message across that as First Peter 5:7 says, We are to “Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.”
Josiah Brand, by the way, is the college age son of former WNKJ announcers Phil Brand and Kimberly (Brand), now Kim Allen. Josiah sang these words…
To everyone who's lost someone they love
Long before it was their time
You feel like the days you had were not enough
when you said goodbye
And to all of the people with burdens and pains
Keeping you back from your life
You believe that there's nothing and there is no one
Who can make it right
There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus, Cry out to Jesus
For the marriage that's struggling just to hang on
They lost all of their faith in love
They've done all they can to make it right again
Still it's not enough
For the ones who can't break the addictions and chains
You try to give up but you come back again
Just remember that you're not alone in your shame
And your suffering
When your lonely
And it feels like the whole world is falling on you
You just reach out, you just cry out to Jesus
Cry to Jesus
To the widow who suffers from being alone
Wiping the tears from her eyes
For the children around the world without a home
Say a prayer tonight
There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus, Cry out to Jesus
We’ll be praying about many of these issues, crying out to Jesus, on Thursday, February 13th with the WNKJ/WNLJ Winter Family Prayer Day. We would be privileged to cry out to Jesus with you on that day or any day. Call us at 270-886-9655 or toll free at 1-877-885-9655, or share a request on this website, WNKJ.org.
Interspersed with those prayers will be songs that do more than just give those praying a break. They will either express prayers to God, or encourage us to pray more fervently. Pray along with us, won’t you?
Music Matters 1-22-14
Hello, Joe Barner back again, this time with some reflections on a special worship service I was a part of this past Sunday evening. The church I’ve been privileged to be a part of since 1985, Second Baptist, Hopkinsville, decided to move to the “old sanctuary”, for an evening of acoustic worship led by local worship leader Jamie Worley.
We worshipped with acoustic guitar accompaniment, mixing some worship favorites like Bless the Lord, O My Soul (10,000 Reasons) with beloved old hymns like Victory in Jesus. After a good time of worship, I recall our pastor, David Tucker, preaching from Psalm 130, called a Psalm of Ascents.
He shared the background of worshippers ascending to Jerusalem, already singing their praise as they went, as they ascended, and as they went along singing, other worshippers would come out and join them in their trek and in their worship. And the service hadn’t even started yet!
Brother David challenged us to not wait until we get to church to begin our worship, not to depend on our music minister or praise team or choir to get us into a spirit of worship, but to come worshipping. Can you imagine how our worship would heighten if we did that, how much more God would be glorified, if we came to worship already worshipping?
By the way, if I may offer a shameless plug here, WNKJ/WNLJ would be honored to provide a soundtrack as you are on your way to worship with the people of God. Try it…sing to the Lord on your way to church this week, and see what a difference it could make.
For our invitation, we were singing that great worship song together called Breathe. We were singing these words…
This is the air I breathe
this is the air I breathe
Your holy presence living in me
This is my daily bread
this is my daily bread
Your very word spoken to me
And I, I'm desperate for You
And I, I'm lost, I’m lost without You
We were singing the words, but were we really desperate for Him? Was I really desperate for Him? Did we realize that without Christ we could do nothing? That we need Him like we need air, like we need our daily bread?
Suddenly one of our senior saints (it was our dear friend and brother Billy Russell) went forward and began praying, praying loudly, praying passionately and with great fervor, praying for a lost world, our lost community, crying out to God for a world that without Christ was going to hell without Jesus.
It touched us, touched us deeply, even those of us who have been with Billy when the Holy Spirit prays through him. It gets loud; it gets intense; it is a holy moment that touches you deeply, that moves you to tears. I wish ya’ll could have been there!
I was reminded of how Jesus prayed fervently and wept over Jerusalem, folks who like everyone without Christ in our communities, are like sheep without the Good Shepherd. Hearing Billy pour out his heart, the singing stopped and many of us became teary eyed, listening to him cry out to the Lord, showing us what being desperate for Him is all about, pondering how long it had been since we have wept over the lost that we know, and those that we need to get to know in order to share Christ with them. May we never forget that passion and fervor for those without Christ!
P. S....As a praise team member I also am digesting this truth, the lesson that we can’t work up such a holy moment. It can’t be manufactured or planned in advance. If we live godly lives, abiding in Christ day after day and year after year, and worship with the attitude that we honor Christ above all and not worry about what others might think, I believe God will move in and through us to touch our world for the glory of our Lord.
Music Matters 1-17-14
Joe Barner here with some challenging but very practical thoughts I read today regarding worship in a book called Stand Firm by Walk Thru the Bible, called “Closed Doors”.
“God prefers substance over style in worship. We can’t simply go through the motions on Sunday morning and think we’ve pleased God. In Malachi 1, God says He would rather we close the doors to the church and not attend than to worship halfheartedly, with sin in our hearts.”
10 “I wish one of you would shut the ⌊temple⌋ doors, so you would no longer kindle a useless ⌊fire on⌋ My altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord of Hosts, “and I will accept no offering from your hands. 11 “For My name will be great among the nations, from the rising of the sun to its setting. Incense and pure offerings will be presented in My name in every place because My name will be great among the nations,” says Yahweh of Hosts. Mal 1:10-11 (HCSB)
Wow! That’s pretty strong, isn’t it? It sounds like we ought to do some soul searching before we go. A couple of verses from Psalm 139 might be a good prayer we could pray before attending church this weekend. They just happen to be verses some of us will be studying this week in Sunday School.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way. Psalms 139:23-24 (HCSB)
That’s apparently what the writer of Stand Firm was thinking…
“So how can we keep from lighting useless fires in worship? Why not prep for Sunday morning worship the night before? Reflect on your week. Do you have any sins to confess? Relationships to restore? Attitudes to adjust? Ask the Holy Spirit to hold you up to His light and show you anything that would keep you from revering His name in worship the next day. You could close by praying for your family members.
Then what? Don’t be surprised if you have a fight on the way to church! But keep your cool. God’s about to do something great in your family, and He’s starting with you. So come to church prepared, bringing all of your heart.
If you’re playing games in worship, God would rather you play them at home.”
Music Matters, 1-8-14
Hello, Joe Barner, with some music thoughts near the beginning of this new year. Let’s make it a year when we just can’t keep our mouths from singing and sharing our Great Redeemer’s praise.
A few weeks back you may have noticed I had “something” that made me cough a lot, and lowered my voice to the range of an old bullfrog, even though I didn’t feel bad. There was one Sunday right after Christmas when all I could do was croak, and I tried for a while not to sing during our worship time. But I found I just could not keep my mouth closed, and mouthed the words along with our congregation.
That’s the way it should be whether we sound pleasing to ourselves and to others. We just can't keep silent. That’s also the way we should be in our conversations with others. May the name of Jesus be on our lips often, like the early disciples who could not help but proclaim what they had seen and heard and experienced in Christ.
I thought of this when I read these devotional thoughts recently in Dr. Billy Graham’s book called Hope For Each Day.
“When Charles Wesley experienced the joy of divine forgiveness, he told a Moravian friend of his new sense of pardon, and added, “I suppose I had better keep silent about it.”
“Oh, no, my brother,” came the reply. “If you had a thousand tongues, you should go and use them all for Jesus.”
Charles Wesley went home and wrote the great hymn:
Oh for a thousand Tongues to sing
My Great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!
To a burdened, benighted world, crushed under the weight of its own wickedness, God says, “I, even I am He who blots out your transgressions.” (Isaiah 43:25) This is glorious news, and it applies to all people everywhere-including you.
Have you received God’s gift of forgiveness? If you have, thank Him for it- and if not by faith invite Christ into your life today.”
Then…whether you are a new believer in Christ, or a long time Christian…let us all use the tongue God gave us to proclaim our Great Redeemer’s praise.
Music Matters 12-20-13
In recent days I’ve come across two great stories concerning the wonderful Christmas carol, Silent Night. The first comes from Our Daily Bread.
“It was Christmas Eve on Oberdorf, Austria, in 1818. (I’ve noticed many of our Christmas carols go way back.) Joseph Mohr, the vicar of the church, had written a new song for the Christmas Eve service and the organist Franz Gruber had set it to music. But the organ in the church broke down. So Gruber grabbed a guitar and accompanied Mohr in the first ever version of Silent Night.
The story doesn’t end there, however. When a man came to fix the organ, Gruber tested it by playing the new song. The repairman liked the song so much that he took a copy of it back to his own village. There, four daughters of a village glove maker learned the song and began singing it in concerts all over Austria- and eventually the world.”
That’s how Silent Night went from possible obscurity to being heard and loved all around the world. It’s a Christmas carol that sounds great on an organ, on piano or guitar, or being sung acappella by Christmas carolers, or by church congregations at a candlelight service.
Dr. Billy Graham, in his book Hope, shares this fascinating story of that same carol, Silent Night, or as I recall from my high school German, Stille Nacht, Heiliga Nacht. (I’m not sure if I spelled that right!)
“During the first World War, on Christmas Eve, the battlefield was strangely quiet. As the soft snow fell, the young men were thinking of home and their families.
Softly, one lad began to hum “Silent Night.” Others took up the chorus until the trenches resounded with that Christmas song. When they finished, they were astonished to hear the song echoing from the trenches across no-man’s-land. In their own tongue, the other soldiers also sang Silent Night. That night they were thinking of the Prince of Peace, the Christ of Christmas.”
As I recall the story, they even came out of the safety of their trenches and the opposing armies celebrated Christmas together, exchanging gifts and singing carols…before resuming hostilities in the days that followed. Dr. Graham adds these comments…
“How different this world would be if we could unite together around that “Holy Infant so tender and mild.” Earth can be as heaven with Christ. Discord can be as peace when Christ is near. Midnight gloom can be transformed into noonday brightness when He abides with us.
Full peace will come only when Christ returns. But until that day we can know His peace in our hearts and be messengers of His peace in the world.”
Merry Christmas to ya’ll. May you experience and share His peace and joy during these busy days. Joe Barner
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.