The Psalms of Ascent

These Psalms of Ascent (also known as “Songs of Ascent”,” Pilgrim Songs” or “Songs of Degrees”), were sung by the people as they made their pilgrimage up to Jerusalem three times a year for annual feasts. Passover was in spring, Pentecost in early summer and The Feast of Tabernacles was in early fall. The Hebrew for “ascents” or “degrees” can be translated as “to go up”, as in a staircase. This is fitting as Jerusalem sits upon Mount Moriah and, therefore, the trek is actually a climb.

These Psalms were chosen, as a songbook if you will, and were not specifically written for traveling to Jerusalem. As a worship pastor, I would have loved to be in that planning meeting! Confession time: Although my intentions were good at the onset of studying these Psalms, my perception of them was wrong. These Psalms were not chosen to prepare them for worship in Jerusalem, they were selected that they could be worshiping on their way to Jerusalem! So, as we read these together, let us not view these Psalms as songs of preparation for Sunday mornings, but rather, as songs that our souls sing as we worship during the week on our way to Sunday, or any time we gather together!

A “Great Day” of Worship?

Was today a great day of worship?

We’ve probably heard it, read it, or said it. “What a great day of worship!” I have. When we are together and experience the movement of God in our midst, how can we not celebrate? However, this phrase is usually reserved for Sundays or in reference to a particular Sunday (or Saturday, if your church has multiple weekend gatherings).

Last night, I was reflecting upon the gravity of the term “worship pastor”. When discussing worship, I echo what I’ve heard most many pastors say the last 20 years or so. Worship is not just music. Yet, I know that sometimes we can circle back around to music.

If I am truly a worship pastor, my calling is to serve the church in regards to worship holistically, not strictly musically. So what about today, a Monday and not a Sunday? Have we experienced a “great day of worship”?

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual act of worship.”

Romans 12:1 ESV

Of course, there are a myriad of wonderful verses that delve into the deep meanings of worship, but for now, let’s consider this one. No mention of music. No lifting of voices. No beautiful strings or crashing cymbals. But there is sacrifice.

Did we sacrifice our bodies, our minds, our mouths and our motives to the Lord God today? Did our words, actions and thoughts bring honor and pleasure God? Did we put other’s interests before our own? This is worship. Bringing pleasure to God out of authentic love and gratitude to Him. Music is an expression of worship along with all of these other offerings.

So, was today a “great day of worship”? If you’re like me, there are times when I’d have to admit – no. Not so much. Even here, God’s proves worthy of worship. If we awake in the morning – our great God has, again, showered upon us His great mercy, to live another day – to strive for great worship. Maybe the better question is presented in the morning. “Will I have a great day of worship?”

Why a Choir in 2020?

Just how important is it to serve in a choir?

First, please let me make clear that I am not saying every church must have a 20-500 voice choir in a loft, with or without robes, as part of their corporate worship offerings. In fact, this article is just as applicable to a church with a band and a 3-voiced vocal team. I have been a worship pastor of both. This is not so much about the who (no, not Pete Townsend and Keith Moon) as it is the why.

The following is not my opinion. I’m certain you don’t seek it, and, in all honesty, you don’t need it. This is simply a moment spent in God’s Word and what it says about the choir. It’s not an extra-curricular activity of the church, but an essential and long-established position in the church.

In 2 Chronicles chapter 5, the temple of God, now finally completed under King Solomon’s supervision and reign, was to be dedicated. The Ark of the Covenant, representing the very presence of God, was about to be carried inside and lay to rest in its sacred, holy home. This. Was. Huge! As you read, try to play this out in your mind. See the crowd. Hear the excitement. Let your heart race!