"Crown Him" from Norton Hall

Norton Hall Band’s title track, Crown Him, from their newest album is out now! Check out this dynamic arrangement of Crown Him featuring the vocal of Shela Jeong.

This is the latest video from the band’s new album, Crown Him: Hymns Project Vol. III. If this is an encouragement to you, feel free to download the free lead sheet to use in your ministry.

Crown Him: Hymns Project Vol. III is available everywhere music is streamed or sold.

"I Stand Amazed" from Norton Hall

The Norton Hall band's most recent video is a fresh, acoustic driven arrangement of I Stand Amazed. This is the latest in a string of new videos from Norton Hall featuring songs off their new album. If this video is an encouragement to you, feel free to download the free lead sheet to use in your ministry.

I Stand Amazed is part of Norton Hall's newest album, Crown Him: Hymns Project Vol. III, available everywhere music is streamed or sold.

 

 

New album from Norton Hall TODAY!

The Norton Hall Band is proud to present their newest album, Crown Him: Hymns Projects Vol. III, today! You can find this album on iTunes, Spotify, or anywhere you download music. We at the IBW pray this third album of the Norton Hall Band will be an encouragement and help to you and your ministry as we labor together to lead our churches in Christ-focused, Gospel-centered, Scripture-guided worship.

 Click to view in iTunes

Click to view in iTunes

Norton Hall Band is a tangible demonstration that our goal and purpose is to train pastors who lead worship. Not just musicians and not just worship leaders, but pastors who lead worship. Everyone in Norton Hall Band has a pastor’s heart and a desire to promote Christ-centered, biblically guided worship. The purpose of this band is to lead in worship that centers around the gospel and is birthed out of the Word of God. For more information and booking of the Norton Hall Band please fill out our form below.


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Your Church Needs to Hear You Sing

I look down, and on the pages of my bulletin I see the words, 

Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the just is satisfied
To look on him and pardon me.

I look up, and across the room I see Jeremy. He’s smiling with abandon. He’s belting out these words like he means them. And here’s the surprising thing: he’s looking right at me. It’s as if he’s willing the truths of this song into my soul by the sheer force of his contagious joy. 

Do you love the members of your church enough to minister to them through song?

A few months ago, David Mathis argued that God intends our corporate worship to nurture love among the body of Christ. I want to apply his point to congregational singing in particular. 

Why? Because if we’re not careful, the individualistic tendencies in our hearts can lead to a “me and God” approach to worship through song. We close our eyes, meditate on the words, and sing along softly with the band — all the while missing out on one of the hallmarks of congregational singing: the ministry of the family of God to one another.

You Are in the Choir

The New Testament describes singing as a corporate activity. A hallmark of those who are filled with the Holy Spirit is that they address “one another” in song (Ephesians 5:19). Why? Because singing is an avenue for Christian love. Consider Colossians 3:16, Paul’s famous teaching on singing, in its broader context:

Above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:14–16)

There are countless threats to the unity of the body (Colossians 3:6–9). Paul knows that brothers and sisters may have “complaints” against each other (Colossians 3:13). What does it look like to foster a community of forgiveness and love? One important part of the answer, according to verse 16, is the singing ministry of each member. In other words, Paul has just signed up every believer for the choir.

Remember, each week we gather as wounded people to have our spiritual sores treated by the Great Physician. In his mercy, he uses our songs to apply his sweet balm. 

The Christian enduring persecution from his biological family needs to hear the dozens or hundreds in his spiritual family sing, “Jesus, I my cross have taken, all to leave and follow Thee.” The believer struggling hard against shame needs to watch you exult, “My sin, not in part, but the whole, has been nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more!” The saint overburdened by work, striving, and performance needs to listen as you affirm, “We rest on Thee, our shield and our defender.” 

Of course, we don’t only address one another as we sing. Ephesians 5:20 and the psalms of praise teach that God is the primary audience of our songs and melodies. But raising your voice to edify others is, in fact, precisely one of the ways we exalt God’s worth. By singing, we beckon our brothers and sisters to delight in his beauty. 

What Difference Does This Make?

If we see our singing as part of our personal ministry to others, it will shape how we approach music at church in practical ways. Here are four suggestions to help press the implications of Paul’s command into the corners of our worship. 

1. Pray for members of your church prior to and during the gathering.

As part of your preparation for Sunday, consider their struggles, fears, and trials. Ask God to remind them of his kindness through the songs. If a line in a hymn brings someone’s situation to mind, pray that the words would minister to him or her in that particular moment.

2. Sing with conviction.

As I mentioned earlier, my friend Jeremy buoyed my faith simply by showing that he believed the words he was singing. One way to demonstrate conviction is to sing loudly. There are few things more spiritually invigorating than being surrounded by believers exalting Jesus at full volume. 

3. Use body language.

This will vary according to your personality and culture, but even in the most subdued settings we can convey a lot by our body language during corporate singing. Smile during hymns of joy. Convey contrition during songs of confession. Perhaps most importantly, don’t always keep your eyes closed. Making occasional eye contact with others is a powerful way to show that you’re singing with them in mind.

4. Lay aside your stylistic preferences.

Since one of the main purposes of corporate singing is to build others up, music gives us a wonderful opportunity to “count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). If the words are true, excellent, and beautiful, try to engage with every song, even if it’s not your favorite genre. You might just find that the joy you see on others’ faces helps you appreciate the song for its ability to edify people who have different tastes than you. 

We sing because Christ first loved us. We love because he first loved us. May we do both as we gather with his beloved bride this week.


Matt Merker (@merkermatt) serves as a pastoral assistant at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. He has composed several congregational hymns, including “He Will Hold Me Fast.” He lives on Capitol Hill with his wife and their daughter.


You can find the original posting of this article here. Used with permission.

Norton Hall's new song, "Tis So Sweet"

The Norton Hall band has been working to produce music and resources like this new video, Tis So Sweet. If this video is an encouragement to you, feel free to download the free lead sheet to use in your ministry.

Tis So Sweet is part of Norton Hall's newest album, Crown Him: Hymns Project Vol. III. This album will be available everywhere on August 29, 2018.

The Value of a Paper Bible

Instrumental in my life for answering the call to pastoral ministry was inheriting my grandfather’s Bible after he passed away. It was an old red-letter King James, tattered and falling apart at the seams from being stuffed with church bulletins and sermon outlines. The leather was perfectly smooth from weathering the elements. The pages were wrinkled from constant use and note-taking. There were highlights and markings on almost every page. In the blank pages before the laminate maps, he kept a small diary of his care for my grandmother as she battled and eventually succumbed to dementia. He wrote Scripture references to turn to when he was experiencing grief, pain, or trouble.

As I flipped through the pages, I thought back on the legacy he left behind, how the gospel had gripped his life, how God sustained him through trial, and how his most treasured possession was the Word of God. Reflecting on my own life at the time, the Lord helped me realize that this was the legacy I needed to leave, not a selfish pursuit of the American dream or fame in my profession. Soon after, I quit my accelerated master’s program in biology and shipped off to seminary.

In today’s world of digital media, screens, and always-connected internet, I’ve come to recognize the value of paper Bibles - yes, the ones made from dead trees and cows. In the past few years of pastoring and shepherding congregations in worship and youth in Bible study, I’ve noticed a few advantages of using hard copies of the text.

1.   Distractions - Smartphones are amazing pieces of technology. They keep us up to date on the news and what our friends are up to, connect us to our jobs, help us track our diets and exercise, and thousands of other useful things. But, they can also be a source of great distraction. There is great convenience in having the entire Word of God in a 20 MB app to reference and search whenever you need it. But how many times has your quiet time been interrupted and derailed by a simple notification drop-down or text message? (Speaking of which, who in the world needs to be texting at 6:00 a.m.?) Or, when you’re sitting in the pew listening to the sermon, how tempting is it to just minimize your note-taking or Bible app for just a quick peek at Instagram, or even to tweet something great the pastor said, only to find yourself lost in distraction or struggling to regain focus? Paper Bibles can help us overcome these distractions by removing the media, the blips, bings, and boops that so easily lure us away from what God is saying to us.

2.   An Air of Authority - I love, let’s say… “forceful” preachers. The ones that aren’t afraid to physically emote to dangerous levels when they preach. Our pastor carries his Bible around on the platform as he walks, and when he emphasizes a Biblical truth, he’s smacking his Bible on every word or holding it up in the air. The theatrics help drive the point home. There’s no screen to worry about breaking. There’s no clunky tablet to balance. Furthermore (and this is going to sound as untheologically based as it is), there’s just an air of authority that a paper Bible produces. I can’t explain it. When someone reads from a paper Bible, people seem to focus in more.

3.   Context - Most Bible apps break chapters for easy searching and navigating. This is wonderful for glancing over chapters when searching for something. For example, if you can’t remember if the parable of the two sons is in Luke 14 or 15 the search functions on a digital device are great. But the advantages of hand-held electronic Bibles can also lead to two abuses. The first is that breaking up the text by book, chapter and verse can create the pitfall of reading out of context. When we hone in on a verse without its proper context, we take our first step towards doctrinal error. Having the surrounding text of a paper Bible can help remind us to read passages in context. Furthermore, paper Bibles remind us that the Bible is one book comprised of many parts. We should be reading the Scriptures in their canonical context. This corrects the second abuse.

I remember as a child going to “Bible Drill” on Sunday nights where we learned how to memorize the books in order, their categories (like Pentateuch, Major Prophets, Gospels, etc.), writers, and how to look up passages quickly. But all of this was contained in one volume. We can’t read the end of Malachi that speaks of the Lord’s coming in vengeance if his people don’t repent without then turning the page to Matthew 1 and beholding Immanuel, God With Us, who shows mercy in Christ. With a little bit of training as a child, I can now find references faster in a paper Bible than the time it takes to search on my phone.

4.   Legacy - As I mentioned earlier, a paper Bible is something to leave to your children. The notes you’ve taken, the verses you’ve highlighted, even the wear and tear on the tome speaks volumes to the next generation. It shows where your priorities were, what you valued, and the desperate need you had for the Scriptures. It’s not that easy to hand down your software. When you die, your passwords and logins probably go with you. Your subscription might expire and your notes, highlights, and bookmarks can digitally evaporate. A quality paper Bible is a true “Buy It for Life” product (in more ways than one!)

Hear me out. I’m not saying we need to toss our smartphones and laptops in the trash and start living like Puritans again. No, software like Logos and Accordance have massively aided scholarship and sermon preparation over the past couple of decades. We don’t have to spend hours rifling through commentaries, lexicons, and other text to help us get one more nugget of information. We can look these things up in seconds now. What a gift God has given us to allow us to be alive in the Information Age!

But with every new advancement in technology, the devil will always find new ways to do spiritual battle with us. We need to be careful with how we use technology and the dangers it can pose to our spiritual lives.

What I’m saying is, the next time you walk into the pulpit, consider what you carry with you.

 

What do you think? How have you used a paper Bible in your ministry?


Austin Collins serves as the Ortega Campus Worship Pastor at First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida. He graduated from Southern Seminary in 2018 with a Master of Divinity in Worship Leadership.