How to Play Together

How to Play Together

As a worship band, sensing each other’s parts–listening–is of prime importance. Paul Baloche, a gifted singer, songwriter, worship leader has a video that greatly illustrates and teaches the principles of a worship band playing well together. I want to share that with you so that your team might benefit as well.

I would love to know what you think, what works for your team, and what doesn’t. How about taking a few minutes to share your experiences with the rest of us in the comment section.

At Ease in Zion

At Ease in Zion

Mediocrity, complacency, laziness. They have commonality. These are conditions of the heart that reveal the callousness of a man’s heart. His lack of care for his world are exemplified through his attitudes, and his attitudes are reflected through his actions.

Consider the Israelites. Amos addressed the impending disaster for Israel. After imploring God’s people to return to Him, Amos told them what God thought. Concerning their complacent worship, the Lord Himself said,

“I hate, I reject your festivals, Nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them; And I will not even look at the peace offerings of your failings.

Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps. But let justice roll down like and ever-flowing stream.” Amos 5:21-24

Can you imagine God saying that to you of your worship? Can you imagine God saying that to you of your work? Can you imagine God saying that to you of your family life? What an indictment! And what brought that about? It’s explained in just a few short words.

“Woe to those who are at ease in Zion and to those who feel secure in the mountain of Samaria…” Amos 6:1

Complacency does that. A student pastor once asked his youth group on a scale of 1 to 10 in your relationship with God, “How many of you are a 10–on fire for God?” A couple of students raised their hands. “How many are a 1–you couldn’t care less about God? A few raised their hands to this inquiry. How many of you are more in the middle with your feelings toward God? Almost the entire group raised their hands.

The youth leader read, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.”

Yes, those are the words of our God in Revelation 3.

Complacency, mediocrity–they don’t occur naturally in our lives. No, instead we are quietly lulled into that state by turning our thoughts from God to ourselves. As Dave Ramsey says, “mediocrity is not the norm.”

So how do we turn that around? Well, the Lord continues in Revelation 3 with the answer. “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.” You see, God is love. He is not sitting on His throne just looking for an opportunity to strike us, but as the perfect Father, He disciplines us back to good relationship with Him. He continues, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to Him and will dine with Him, and he with Me.”

Our loving Father desires fellowship with us. But who wants a relationship with someone who is apathetic about that relationship? God wants ALL of you. If you’ve been treating Him like a foreigner while sitting back lapping up a life of self-centered luxury, turn your attention back to Him.

“Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,

giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17)

What’s Your Story?

What’s Your Story?

Over the past two weeks, Senior Pastor Stephen Byrd and I have done what I’ve never heard of any other pastor/staff doing. We have been meeting with each of our church family members, in 30 minute segments, to hear their stories. You know, where were you born? how did you all meet? how did you come to know Christ? how can we pray for you?

To date, we have met with around 150 people. Daunting task? You bet! But it has been so worth the time and energy. What we thought would be a great time to minister to our church family boomeranged on us. I have been so blessed to hear the stories of God’s faithfulness in each person’s life. Through amazingly difficult struggles and setbacks to victory and joy through Jesus Christ, the stories have been consistent! Jesus Christ is sufficient for our needs.

At times (because we have spent approximately 13 hours per day plus Saturdays doing this) a tiring challenge, this has been a beautiful walk with the Lord. So, how about you? What is your story? So often we cross paths with our friends and family members, but we never stop to talk about all that God has done in, through, and for us. Acts 4:20 says, “for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Isn’t that the way it should be. The family of God should be sharing with each other and with our unsaved friends the greatness of God constantly! Can you imagine how many church fights and how much gossip would dissipate if our churches spent more time with each other rather than against each other?

In God’s Word, Paul told Timothy, “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God” (2 Timothy 1:8). Never be ashamed of your testimony! It is exclusive to you, because it is the reflection of what God has done for you! In fact, you are the only one who can tell (testify) to God’s activity in your life.

Although we’re not yet quite halfway through our meetings with the family, I look forward to hearing the other stories from our church family. In fact, I can’t think of any better way for a Pastor and pastoral staff to minister to their church and show love and care than to do this. What an investment! Small group Bible studies, families, discipling groups, should all listen to each other and make the concerted effort to really know each other. For it is in this way that we can know how to pray, and we can encourage and edify the Body of Christ!

From a worship standpoint, I will never again do worship planning without remembering some of these stories and knowing fresh how God may use the songs we sing to minister to His people and to give each of us a fresh expression of praise for God through His attributes displayed.

What’s your story? Why not take a minute right now and write a few sentences in the comments section below and testify to God’s goodness in your life. You will be a blessing to countless others around the world!

Blessings!

I’m ENGAGED

I’m ENGAGED

The word “engage” brings many things to mind. For some, it is the epitome of love and commitment through marriage. That biblical expression of love through the bonding together of a man and woman for a lifelong commitment to each other.

For others, it is the great command from the captain of the Enterprise, forging on the in the intergalactic dream to “boldly go where no man has gone before”.

The Bible uses the word “engage” to describe the work and heart of the Levites:

“Now these are the singers, heads of fathers’ households of the Levites, who lived in the chambers of the temple free from other service; for they were engaged in their work day and night.” 1 Chron. 9:33

In 2012, I’m calling on all of our Worship Team to ENGAGE in the ministry to which God has called us. That is because of a deep love for Christ and the bond that is brought about through the blood of Christ, to boldly forge ahead with all our might, with all our heart, to worship God and love Him to the fullest. As a result of that, we are to lead His people into His presence through music–praise–and worship.

You see, the core of worship is summed up this way: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:5). Jesus called this the greatest commandment. Mark D. Roberts says, “When we sing, we can invest our whole self in worship as we think, feel, and act.”

I’m asking you to ENGAGE in:

  • Your walk with Christ
  • Your worship to Him
  • Your musical skills that God has given you for a purpose
  • Your relationships with your brothers and sisters in Christ
  • Your diligence in reaching others for Christ
You see, “the miracle of music and song is that there is no other vehicle available to us on earth that has the ability to bring to attention our mind and our auditory senses, arresting the heart and moving the soul to a point where our whole self is focused in one direction.”–Darlene Zschech
1 Corinthians 14:15 says, “Then what am I to do? I will pray with my spirit (by the Holy Spirit that is within me), but I will also pray (intelligently) with my mind and understanding; I will sing with my spirit (by the Holy Spirit that is within me), but I will sing(intelligently) with my mind and understanding also.”

Sunday, January 15, we will spend some time in worship (at First Baptist Mableton, GA) at the altar, committing to the engagement of our whole selves to the Worship Ministry. Will you join us in this year-long (really lifelong) quest? Will you say to God and others–I’m ENGAGED? I really hope you will walk this path with us–a path, with great rewards. You see, when we follow Him, He reveals more about Himself to us–that is we begin to take on more and more of His character.

I have more to share in the coming weeks. For now, I’m asking all members of our Worship Team to ENGAGE with us. Stop by the Worship Center as you arrive Sunday morning and pick up an “I’m Engaged” sticker. Wear it proudly throughout the day as we wholly commit ourselves to serve our Holy God!