“Fill our hearts today with the knowledge that we have a purpose to fulfill, as we come to your throne asking for the confidence and the courage to complete the tasks set before us. As we close another month in this year, help us to walk in your deep love with our brothers and sisters. Bless us we pray. Amen.” May 31, 2016
Some time ago my friend, Josh, and I were working with Crossroads Missions in New Orleans. We started talking about song writing and he told me about a chorus he had written that he used during a chapel time with the mission groups that were coming in [which is most of the chorus that is currently in the song]. I loved the focus on unity – especially in the context of the hundreds of churches, mission groups, and denominations working together during the rebuilding phase in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. My intention was to wrap some verses around the chorus and call it finished but it got shelved. A couple years later I heard a teaching from another friend of mine about the words “hallelujah,” and “amen.” In summary, he stated that these two words were powerful because, in every language they were found across the globe, they meant the same thing: to praise God and to agree together. I decided to do some of my own research about it and found this:
- Hallelujah: Halal means to be clamorously foolish in praise and it combined with the name of God -Yahweh.
- Amen: To agree, in unison, that something is truth.
This idea seemed to work well with the flow of the chorus that Josh wrote so I began to rework the song to incorporate a response with Hallelujah and Amen in the bridge and ending. I wanted the song to be accessible lyrically and musically catchy so that it would be easy for people to sing in a short amount of time. I began working out some lyrics for the verses that would help to explain the context of the response and serve as a connector for the chorus and bridge. The final result became a congregational worship song that proclaims unity among believers and ends with a built-in response for any culture or language that might sing it!
Recently, a friend of mine suffered the loss of his mother. He mentioned to me, as an encouragement, that the words “hallelujah” and “amen” are even being sung i
n heaven [Rev 19]. He was moved by the thought of his mother singing this song alongside him as we sang it in the services the week following her memorial.
It is exciting and humbling to see our new church community embrace these songs and to watch God use these them to minister to people in celebration and even in pain. I am thankful that God would use ordinary people like Josh and myself to write new songs and to inspire others to find refuge in His name.
One of the earliest prayers of the Christian faith is the “Jesus Prayer” commonly recited by the Desert Fathers: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” It’s repeated commonly to remind us of the mercy we are constantly in need of as we live our day to day lives. It is a prayer that I have been contemplating for a while and have found great power in as I have brought it to mind throughout my day. Lamentations 3 reminds us:
19 Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
20 My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
While researching it I came across this quick article by Fr. Richard Rohr and thought it was worth reposting. Also, the song “Lord Have Mercy” by Brady Toops at the end has aided me in singing this prayer and keeping it my mind. Enjoy them both and may God’s mercy be in and throughout your life every single moment of every day.
Why We Need To Say ‘Lord, Have Mercy!’
By Richard Rohr (Originally posted on Huff Post Religion Here on July 28, 2015)
Is it any accident that the official liturgy begins with Kyrie, Eleison? It is the most common Christian short prayer, which is some form of “Have mercy on me!” In time, I have come to see how important this prayer is. It is at the heart of the classic Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner,” which the Eastern monks recited nonstop whenever possible.
This is not a self-demeaning prayer, nor a self-defeating prayer, nor is it a disempowering prayer. Relying upon mercy, in fact, protects you from the arrogance and pride that wants to judge others, even in your mind. It situates you in freedom from any sense of your own sufficiency or superiority, and affirms a non-need to justify yourself, and thus keeps your heart open for others and for God. It is basically a prayer for detachment from the self, both mind and heart, and its endless games of self-validation. “Lord, have mercy” seeks validation only from God and not from any inner or outer attempts to be worthy, independently “good,” or not-in-need-of-mercy.
Note that when you do not stand under the mercy, your mind almost certainly does one or all of three things: plays the victim, accuses others, or falsely exalts itself. When you honestly ask for mercy, you make all three of these responses unnecessary and, in a way, impossible.
“Lord, have mercy” makes your identity a totally received one (Just like the persons of the Trinity), a gift of grace, and nothing that you need to protect or can claim as your own.
“I, for one, am happy to see the end of Christendom. I’m glad that we can no longer rely on temporal, cultural supports to reinforce our message or the validity of our presence. I suspect that the increasing marginalization of the Christian movement in the West is the very thing that will wake us up to the marvelously exciting, dangerous, and confronting message of Jesus. If we are exiles on foreign soil—post-Christendom, postmodern, postliterate, and so on—then maybe at last it’s time to start living like exiles, as a pesky, fringe-dwelling alternative to the dominant forces of our times. As the saying goes, “Way out people know the way out.”
― Michael Frost, Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture
I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was a little excited about this movie:
I’m excited to be hanging out with the 10,000 Father’s crew again this week! God used the first 2 tracks in powerful ways to shape me and my ministry. I love this community and their perspectives on discipleship, leadership, and worship. Here’s a little video about it:
Please pray for God to work powerfully through the team and that I would soak up everything He has planned this week!
Warner Bros. is producing a film about Hillsong United entitled Let Hope Rise [lyrics from one of their popular songs]. Their music and influence has reached a level of popularity that a documentary is going to be released in theaters some time in April of 2015. It will take an account of their journey to popularity from a little youth group band to being one of the most prolific worship bands in the world. Obviously, this is being marketed to christians, but it should be an interesting event in pop culture to see how critics, both christian and non-christian, treat the film as a whole. They seem have to have an edge on the keeping up with the “coolest of cool” in terms of breaking new territory in the christian music and worship genre’s.
Here’s the trailer: