Category Archives: Worship

A Review of The Kingdom of Heaven is Like This – an Album of Rain for Roots

My wife, Brooke, loves Sandra McCracken and she loves her kids. So when Sandra McCracken comes out with a kid’s album she has it downloaded in 12 minutes. I am glad we did.

It turns out it wasn’t just Sandra. She is in a band with 3 other ladies called Rain for Roots. The other ladies are Ellie Holcomb, Katy Bowser, and Flo Paris. So far they have 3 albums. We have their sophomore album released in 2014. I have never reviewed an album so this is a first for me.

We have a few albums for kids that have Christian songs on them. Most of them, including a Fisher Price album, are very kitschy. The Kingdom of Heaven Is Like This has much more quality and depth. The music is well done but in a simple way appealing to children. It certainly appeals to our kids.

There are upbeat songs, like ‘Good Fruit’ and slower, more touching songs like ‘Come to Me’ and ‘Do Not Worry’. Many of the songs have an even pace with a bit of seriousness. The upbeat songs are catchy and simple but not that awful repeated mess that makes you rather listen to nails on a chalkboard. The slower songs are considered and poignant. Some of the music pokes a hole in your heart and lets the emotion come running out. I might make you tear up, not that it has happened to me. Ok, it has.

The music is great but the lyrics are what I most appreciate. The each song’s music serves the message. Biblical truth is belted out, with my kids singing along. The words are rich and deep. Best of all they come right out of the Bible with some application. The 3rd track, ‘Do Not Worry’ is a great example. Using Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:25-30, it speaks of trusting God because He takes care of birds and flowers. The chorus instructs, “And don’t you worry ‘cause you’re in the hands of the God who made everything.” Ellie Holcomb said she wrote the song because she was pregnant and kept worrying about the baby. She and I both now know God’s care for us better. Each song offers a similar biblical take and drives home into your heart some profound truths.

Finding Ellie Holcomb and her voice is worth the price alone. Her voice is a touch raspy and sweet. He vocals add to the significance. When she talks at the end of ‘Do Not Worry’ I get goosebumps. As Randy Jackson said of another singer, I could listen to her sing the phone book. Her music serves the words well.

There are children who sing on the album. This is done in a subtle but rich way. On ‘Come to Me’ the child is barely heard in the beginning and gets louder as the song progresses. This seems to be a way of showing the child is learning to come to Jesus for rest as the song instructs.

I love listening to the album with my kids. What’s better is that they love listening to it. Titus, my 3-year-old, loves ‘Come to Me’. He often asks to sing it at family worship time. He once had us repeat the song 5 times before I said we needed to play other songs.

This has been a wonderful album that has had many plays. It has enriched the faith of my family and helped my kids sing God’s truth into their hearts. It is an enjoyable listen. We only have the one album. That will change soon.

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Am I Forgiven?

Am I Forgiven - HymnalsI arrived late. I opened the door to the chapel at Covenant Seminary and discovered the place was packed. The worship service was already underway. I took my place standing in the back with several others. Just as soon as I had found my place, the worship leader said it was time for silent confession. I dutifully bowed my head and tried to think of sins I needed to confess. No glaring or heinous sin came to mind so I confessed other sins I could remember. Guilt came over me like no other. It felt dirtier than if I had played with pigs in their slop. I was glad when the leader stopped the time of confession. What came next I had never seen in a worship service before. Quoting from Romans 8:1, he said, “Now hear the assurance of your pardon: ‘There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.’” A wave of relief and freedom rolled over me. The dirtiness I had felt was washed away with the wonderful news of God’s proclamation over me.

This is what a worship service is supposed to do. It is to bring you into a real and fresh encounter with the living God. Ever since this service I have come to love liturgy and especially the assurance of pardon. However, I rarely find the assurance of pardon in a worship service that includes a time of confession. When it is absent, I quote to myself some passage that assures me of his pardon.

There is a general gospel flow that has been in the liturgy of churches from the early church until now. The worship begins with high praise of our holy God. Being in the presence of His holiness we find ourselves insufficient and sinful. Therefore, we confess our sins. But this is not the last word as God speaks in the service and assures us of our pardon we have in Christ. The service then moves into the wonderful redemption we have in Christ and concludes with our going out into the world in the power of Christ. These elements can be in form of songs, passages of scripture, the sermon, or pronouncements from the pastor and/or worship leader.

Not all worship services highlight these aspects. Not all do have or should have a confession of sin. However, when there is a confession of sin there should follow an assurance of pardon. I might add a personal preference that it be a clear assurance of pardon. Commonly the assurance comes in the form of a congregational song. Am I Forgiven - I am forgivenBut these often come with no introduction or hint that they are serving as the assurance of pardon.

So my plea to those who plan worship services it to include a clear assurance of pardon. It is a rich and wonderful thing God uses to speak to His people the certainty of their forgiveness in Christ. It never gets old hearing God tell me that my sins are washed away and that I am forgiven.

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