Sheila Heen, Lecturer at Harvard Law School says that humanity has two core needs.

  1. The need to feel accepted or respected or loved the way we are.
  2. The need to learn and grow.

Christ obliterated need number one.  Get this: In Christ, we are fully known and yet fully loved.  There is no hiding “the real us” from Jesus so that he will like us.  He died a bloody death for us while we were still sinners (that is, enemies of God who were condemned to hell), in order to adopt us as God’s children into God’s forever family (see Rom. 5:8, and 8:15).  *Mind-blown.  

Christ shatters need number two by sealing us with his Holy Spirit.  In the same breath that Jesus loves and accepts us in, he wants to teach us and grow us into something better -namely into his own likeness (see Rom. 8:28-29).  “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).  We are given the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin, comfort us in affliction, and compel us to live life on mission (see John 16:8, 2 Cor. 1:4, 5:14).

This is huge.  You are loved and accepted completely in Christ, but you are not left to your own devices.  You aren’t just given a new legal status “not guilty” but ultimately a new identity: son and daughter.  Jesus doesn’t just take away the penalty of sin (death and hell); he crushes the reign of sin (life of obedience).

So now what?

First you need to stop and revel in the love of Jesus.  Stop striving and working FOR the favor of God -or of anyone else for that matter- and start working FROM the favor of God.  When you embrace the love and acceptance that you have in Christ based on his perfection, not yours, you are free to live a life of joy-filled obedience.  There isn’t a time or place to simply sit and sour as a believer in the Lord Jesus, we must work out our “salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who works in us to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12-13).

I set out to write and convey the entire Biblical Metanarrative, tracing the storyline of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation showing Christ as the center. I feel like Christians often miss the “whole story” of the gospel, and we all, myself included, easily forget the good news of the gospel.  Out of a desire to preach the gospel to myself, my church, and anyone else who will listen, I attempted to convey the whole story artfully through a “spoken word.”  May God be praised and may our joy be ever increasing in Him alone!

Jason Waller
“The Whole Story”

When the earth was void and without form
There was no space or time
There was nothing created simply the Trinity
and when I say simply, I mean God, simply the glorious mystery
One God in three persons in blessed unity
Father, Son, and Spirit living in perfect harmony

Out of the overflow of love, not out of any need
God spoke and gave life to all our eyes can see
Sun, moon, stars, and every galaxy
Mountains, trees, and rivers, all beauty we perceive
Tigers, birds, humpback whales, and honey bees
He spoke, and then it was, God shined forth His glory

But the crown of his creation was not apes, gazelles, or jaguars
Not Everest or the Grand Canyon -as good as these things are
No, God made man in his own image he created
Male and female to talk and walk with God the definition of blessed

But we rebelled when man bit the forbidden fruit and fell further than we can comprehend
In case you missed the memo, the Bible says all have sinned

Death is now our penalty, We turned God into our enemy
condemned for all eternity, we chose this, this is what we asked for don’t you see
No app can hack our life to save us -nothing in our grip could provide the saving answer
This sickness can’t be cured by man, though we all try to escape our sin-cancer

Now what could be left but hopeless pleas and cries?
So, “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die”
No. The Sovereign King did not leave us in our deserved plight
He stooped down to speak when in his perfect justice He could have chosen to smite

He made us a vow with his word on that terribly dark night
“I will send the Promised King, the Warrior who will fight”
He will crush the serpent’s head, take your punishment for sin
He will become a curse to remove your curse, trust me, this war is mine to win”

Now as time travelled on, God’s promises grew faint
In no time the human race would rather move on than trust and wait
So we kept on sinning just like we did in the beginning
If worship were like our arrows then self is the target at which we’re aiming

But after 400 years, a Sound broke the silence
The Word became flesh and Light pierced through the darkness
Could it be true, the Infinite wrapped himself in human frailty?
The Omnipotent Creator set aside his glory to be born as a helpless baby

This is too marvelous, too wonderful, this news is far too good
That the same God who hung the stars moved into our neighborhood
This Coming King theologians call it “the Hypostatic Union”
That is, Christ is fully God yet fully Man in one Person

“You shall call his name Jesus for he will save his people from their sin”
Not might, not maybe, not probably, He will, He will, He will win
Promise became reality as marry held the eight pound Savior
Nothing would be the same, this changes everything forever

Now this Jesus walked and talked and worked. He played and scraped his knees
He laughed, he cried, squinted at the sun, this same God who breathed out galaxies
He lived in full obedience to God, the life we should’ve lived
He was reviled but did not lash out.  We would selfishly take yet He would freely give

He came to wash our feet but we nailed his to a tree
Now his life, we didn’t take it, but he freely gave it, Jesus is the Loving King
For the Father made Him who knew no sin to become sin in our place
That we might be His Righteousness, through our murder he offered grace

The entirety of our sin debt was paid when the sinless Son of God was slain
So quit your striving and trying to earn salvation, simply call upon his Name
On that cross Christ breathed his last, “It is finished!” was His cry
And it was at that moment that The God-man, Jesus, gave up his spirit and died

And when I say “died” He really died
His follower’s scattered, Darkness filled the skies
The fire that once burned bright had dimmed as Jesus’ cold body was carried
They put him in a borrowed tomb, the Son of God was buried

Has the curse been lifted?  Who could really say?
Are you sure Jesus wasn’t just a man? I mean, he’s lying dead in a grave
Bricks of doubt upon doubt must have continually been laid
Hopelessness ensued all the more in those long long days

On the third morning, Mary Magdalene wept bitter tears
Her doubts confirmed as she gazed at the empty tomb, she was paralyzed with fear
“Who are you seeking?” Asked the voice behind her, a gardener, Mary had suspected
“If you moved His body just tell me where” but the man’s response was totally unexpected

“Mary” said the familiar voice. She couldn’t believe her ears
The same voice that calmed the storms melted Mary’s fear
“Teacher!” she exclaimed. Beaming, bouncing, bounding, she left the scene to proclaim
“He’s risen from the grave, I tell you, He’s risen!  My eyes have seen the King!”

Oh and this King has risen. He has ascended to his heavenly throne
Death is being reversed.  Drained is the power of the curse
The long promised King actually came
He lived, he loved, he died, he rose, he ascended, he rules and reigns.

But that’s not the end.  He will come again

The Lion of the tribe of Judah will roar, he will come riding through the skies
With “King of Kings” and “Lord of Lords” written down his thighs

He will gather his scattered people from the far corners of every tribe and nation
And around his throne we will lift one voice singing “Worthy is the King of creation!
May the Lamb who was slain receive blessing, and honor, and glory, and power
For Yours is the Kingdom forever and ever and ever!”


It Matters.jpg
Worship pastors, leaders, and team members.  If you play even the slightest part in selecting songs, praying prayers, or leading the people of God in worship, please understand the weightiness of your role.  You are not there to entertain.  You are not there to put on a show.  You are not there to look and sound good.

You are there to lead the people of God to sing the praises of God (Psalm 145:21).
You are there to remind the saints of the gospel through song (Col. 3:16).

Believe it or not, you are giving people a vocabulary to praise God with.  You are giving struggling saints weapons in their battle with sin.  You are giving those grieving and mourning words that will act as a healing balm on their soul.  You are teaching new believers how to relate to God in prayer.  You are shaping the way people view God.

So don’t take what you do lightly.  Your work matters.

“So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” (John 16:22)

“So also you have sorrow now…”  Our sorrows in this world build up because the things that we see all around us are ultimately stealers of joy.  Think about it, we see murder, adultery, theft, and all sorts of sin that flow from the well of pride and selfishness.  In an attempt to shade our eyes from the glaring evil, we turn to that which is good in creation -trees, sunsets, moon, and stars, people, sex, food, money, and all other things that possess some degree of beauty.  But even as we turn to these beautiful things, we know deep down that they cannot hold the weight of the joy-gap that is in our hearts.  Indeed they were not designed to.  We were made for eternal joy and anything that will eventually be taken from us cannot eternally satisfy.  No spouse or child, no job or career, no wealth or possession can or ever will satisfy us forever.

“But I will see you again…”

But.  What a glorious word!  “I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice.”  Theology propels doxology.  That is, the revealed glory (value, worth, beauty) of God yields the worship (adoration, rejoicing, thanksgiving) of God.  When we see all that God is for us in Christ, our hearts will eternally rejoice.  God is the inexhaustible fountain of joy that our eternally thirsty hearts will drink from forever.  In Christ our temporal sorrows cannot last because they will be pushed out by eternal joy. 

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probably explanation is that I was made for another world.” – C.S. Lewis

Drink from Jesus today.  He alone will satisfy.

Tell a better story

We all love a good story.  Good story-tellers captivate their audience and keep them on the edge of their seats.  Why?  Because we all want redemption.  We long for authenticity and beauty.  A story is good because it is believable.  A story is good because it’s honest.  We get sucked in by the suspense, tension, and friction, which makes us ache for a beautiful resolution.  These are all elements of a good story.

As believers in the Lord Jesus, we must testify to how the gospel has worked and is still working in our lives.  This is not only in our salvation, but how the gospel meets us in our depression, miscarriages and loss of life, financial ruin and job loss, adultery and marital strife, adoption and fostering of orphans, selling all possessions and entering the mission field, engaging the lost in our neighborhoods, etc.  The gospel literally impacts every facet of our lives, and these stories need to be told in order to build up of the church, engage the lost, and above all to glorify our God and Savior Jesus Christ. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7

This is why I think it is so important for the redeemed, covenant members of our churches to tell their stories.  We want to show the world that the all surpassing power at work in us is from God.  At the Mount Church we have recently begun a story-telling ministry that aims to do just this through the medium of video.  Here are a few guidelines to help you tell a better story using video at your church:

1. Look for nutshell statements that encapsulate what needs to be communicated. We aren’t looking for every nitty gritty detail, but rather specific details that assist to tell the greater narrative -what are the darkest moments, the brightest moments, etc.  Look for the truth that needs to be communicated and what stories and examples are given to illustrate that truth well.  Usually the pieces and parts of our stories that we are tempted to hold back are the very bits of truth that need to be brought to light.

2. Excellence is our servant, Jesus is our King. While we want to harness the excellence and creativity the Lord has given us to seamlessly point people to the excellencies of our Savior, don’t “sacrifice Jesus at the altar of excellence.”  If the audio isn’t perfect or the shot isn’t the most appealing, keep it if it shows Jesus as beautiful.  “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Cor. 4:7).  It isn’t our pretty, polished production that is going to lead people to Jesus but the TREASURE inside the content of our production that will show that the surpassing power belongs to God, and not to us.

Jesus needs to be the hero of the story.  We are not trying to offer a hallmark story.  In the deepest of valleys and the highest of mountains, in the darkest of nights, and the brightest of lights, the glory of God should be at the forefront and the viewer should leave thinking, “Jesus is good.  Jesus is sweet.  Jesus is greater than our mess.  Jesus is worth the loss.  Jesus is better.”

It’s all about Jesus.  He has chosen to work in and through his people to show case his story and glory to the world around us.  So tell a better story by telling the best story.

wiat what?
At our church’s gathering this past Sunday, we sang a famous hymn from the 1700’s, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”  The melody and tune of this song are incredibly beautiful, memorable, and singable (just as the best corporate worship songs should be).  On the other hand, the words are, how do I say it, a little outdated.  I mean seriously, who today actually prays the words, “Father, here I raise my ebenezer, here by Thy great help I come.”  What in the world does that even mean?  I asked some students at church camp what an “ebenezer” is, and the most common answer I got was, “a grumpy old man”. 

This begs the question, why in the world would we sing that, and if we don’t understand something, should we just not sing it altogether? 

Surely God is no fool.  He hears words attached to our hearts, not empty words that we don’t understand.  Isaiah prophesied about people who don’t understand what they are singing, and ultimately don’t actually mean what they sing, “This people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me” (Isaiah 29:13).  Jesus himself tells us in John 4:24 that “God is Spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”  Not only do the words need to be true, but we need to grasp them in our intellects (truth) and let these glorious truths capture our heart’s affections (spirit).  We must be informed worshippers.  So I want to take a minute to break down two of the key words in the popular hymn.

First off, an ebenezer literally means “stone of remembrance” and it comes from from 1 Samuel when the Lord gave the Israelites an incredible, against all odds, victory over the Philistines.  Israel’s king set up a stone, something common, to represent something incredible, the Lord’s help.  So when we sing, “Here I raise my ebenezer, here by Thy great help I come.  And I hope by Thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.”  We are saying, I remember and recall the Lord’s victorious work in my life, chiefly in our salvation, and I am going to let God’s past work fuel my future hope.  When adversity strikes and trials come, we look back and remember him who was faithful to be our help and we speak that truth to our souls.  “The Lord will be our help,”  “The Lord will get us through,” “The Lord has never failed us and he won’t start failing us now.”

A fetter references shackles to be used to restrain and bind a prisoner, typically a fetter would be placed around the ankles.  In other words, that prisoner aint goin’ nowhere.  When we sing, “Let Thy goodness like a fetter bind my wandering heart to thee,” we are making a desperate plea for the Lord to keep us, to bind us, to “chain us” to himself.  By God’s grace, we realize with the prophet Jeremiah that our hearts are desperately wicked.  “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it.  Prone to leave the God I love.”  Only the Lord can keep us; we cannot even keep ourselves.  What a beautiful way to declare our dependence on the Lord!

Here’s my my two cents, there is too much depth and beauty in this hymn for us to simply yawn words that we don’t understand.  Let’s not be people who are “satisfied with making mud pies when we are offered a holiday at the sea” as C.S. Lewis said.  And let us not throw out a song altogether because it feels “outdated” to us.  Singing a song from the 1700’s reminds us that we didn’t come up with this whole Christianity thing.  We stand upon the shoulders of giants in the faith who stand on giants, from generation to generation.  May we be a people who allow the word of Christ to drench our hearts by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with thankfulness in our hearts to God (Colossians 3:16).

New-Fashioned Hymns

My good friend, Shauna Henry, has been gracious to take some of the hymns that I love and write lyrics in contemporary language to help these rich lyrics come to life in our hearts and minds.  Without further ado, Here’s “Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me.”


This hymn, called Rock of Ages, was written by a dude named Augustus Toplady, and rumor has it that he wrote this song on account of being caught in a thunderstorm. Upon finding a rocky limestone glen to take cover under, he hid himself in the rock and wrote the words to this 1776 melody.

I think it’s so cool that, even after nearly three hundred and fifty years, the words to this song are still powerful and relevant. Praise the Lord for that – he is truly the timeless Rock!

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.

Forever a safe place
Where no one can find me or hurt me.
Your sacrifice on the cross is the two-fold remedy:
First, to save me from hell,
Then, to continually erase my hard-earned sin.

Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

I simply cannot work hard enough,
Your standard is way too high.
My attempts at being passionate, diligent, or lachrymose
Bring no relief
Until you alone come and save me!

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

The measly offerings I give to you can’t compare
To just having open hands before you.
I truly come to you with a trifle,
Wretched and hopeless without your grace.
If you don’t take my sinful, dirt-wrenched corpse
I will surely perish.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.

Life, it doesn’t last.
Soon, you’ll take me home.
When I get to heaven
And meet you face to face, I will forever sing,
“My stronghold; split, broken in two to save me,
You have covered me amidst life’s storms.”

Written by Shauna Henry, Shauna’s Window