Worship

how’s your heart?


i got the chance to go sit in my friend Ramy’s living room the other night and worship with some friends. it was a beautiful group of moments. i’ve been fighting allergies and couldn’t sing, but it was nice to sit in the dimly lit room and just take it in. it was really simple. towards the end Ramy asked everyone in the room a question.

“how is your heart?”

and i began to think, what am i going to say when it gets to me? am i going to say something that sounds slick or amazing? am i going to say something that sounds authentic? what am i going to say? then i began to listen to the others who were telling how their hearts were. some beautiful answers to a simple question, and i realized that my heart is still on the mend. it has been stomped on, but it still beats. it still dreams and longs to create. and as the testimony time was finished we sang Gungor’s “Beautiful Things”. i sang with what voice i had as the evening ended with communion.

i tell you that because i want to ask you the same question. how’s your heart? what is it longing for? is it freshly broken? do you feel like it can never be put back together? do you still have hope? or, is your heart joyful and full? it doesn’t have to be broken.

how’s your heart?

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sing with all you’ve got


i’ve been leading worship for about 18 years. it started with an acoustic guitar at small groups and youth camps. i still can’t play “I Love You Lord” worth a flip.

i love leading. it is something that makes me feel alive. that has always been the case. i love to sing praises to God. i love to sing to Him with all of me, but i have to be careful that i don’t fall in love with the songs, or the singing. there are lots of songs that make my heart cry out to Him and there are songs that i actually weep as they are sung because they are powerful in my life. when i am in the moment, and i don’t analyze it, they are beautiful opportunities of brokenness between God and myself.

sometimes i try and analyze why that particular song caused me to be emotional instead of just enjoying the beauty of being raw and real before God.

as i’ve led over the years, i have sung lots of songs. hymns, and choruses. i’ve sung other people’s songs and my own. i’ve led songs of deep theology,  songs with spiritual themes, and songs without. i try to plan songs that people will sing, or songs that will grab people by the heart or even the throat. now, i’m not trying to manipulate them, or the Spirit. i want to turn their attention to God. i found that when i did things with my agenda that it did not go well.

as i was reading in Colossians today, i was reminded that Paul was impacted by music as well. in the middle of a prayer for the church, he writes out a hymn. it is about Christ and is called the Colossian Hymn. it is found in Colossians 1:15-20

He is the exact image of the invisible God, the firstborn of creation, the eternal. It was by Him that everything was created: the heavens, the earth, all things within and upon them, all things seen and unseen, thrones and dominions, spiritual powers and authorities. Every detail was crafted through His design, by His own hands, and for His purposes. He has always been! It is His hand that holds everything together. He is the head of this body, the church. He is the beginning, the first of those to be reborn from the dead, so that in every aspect, at every view, in everything–He is first. God was pleased that all of His fullness should forever dwell in the Son, who , as predetermined by God, bled peace into the world by His death on the cross as God’s means of reconciling the whole creation to Himself–all things in heaven and all things on earth.

wow, what an amazing picture of Christ. i find it really interesting that Paul would use a song to convey to the Colossians Who they belong to. music is one of the strongest pulls to memory. i can see them as this letter is read maybe begin to hear the tune in their head, or maybe the leader who was reading recognized the lyrics and sang that portion of the letter. i can almost imagine the church joining in, and as they sang, they remembered who this Savior is.

so my prayer is that as you sing, you will remember Who you belong to. no matter if you are singing an old hymn, Mumford and Sons, or the latest Justin Timberlake song (My Love is my jam). think of the joy that music brings, and remember that everything belongs to Him and has it’s meaning because of Him.

now….SING!! SING LOUD!

More…


the sermon at church yesterday was on worship and he used the verse “taste and see that the Lord is good”. he likened it to something you eat or experience and you want more of it.  one bite of cake will not do.  one date with a girl that you really are attracted to is not enough. so it should be in our experience with God. we should always be wanting more, but sadly we don’t.

is it because we’ve never truly tasted or seen how good He is. are we so distracted by life and the pursuit of me that we can’t possibly see clearly?  is our life so cluttered with other things that our palate is confused and we can’t savor the wonderful flavor of His awesomeness?

i guess that’s what i’m trying to sort out right now. i want more, but what is it that i want more of? i should be wanting more of Him, but sadly my heart runs to lovers less wild. i know that only He can satisfy, so why is it, to quote Andrew Peterson, all i ever seem to chase is me?

this might be…


the most wonderful opening i’ve ever seen from a church.  It’s from NorthRidge Church in Plymouth Michigan and was from a series they did a few years back called Expand Your Canvas.  The song is Raise by Son Lux.  Watch to see creativity, music and art converge.

my kids love to sing in the car…


(just for the record, i don’t wear cowboy hats while driving)

my girls typically control the songs we are singing, but lately as my boys have gotten older and remember the names of songs, they have begun to yell out what they want as soon as they are strapped in the car seats.  as i’ve mentioned on here before, we’ve nearly burned the laser grooves off of Gungor’s  “Beautiful Things”.

my youngest son always wants to hear the title track but today, he began to ask for the “Holy, Holy” song.  so we went to track #7, “The Earth is Yours” and as the chorus kicked in, i hear my boy who will be 3 on Sunday singing at the top of his lungs in his best understanding of the language,

“Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy Lord!  The Earth is Yours!  Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy Lord!  The Earth is Yours, the Earth is Yours!”

he and his brother and sisters all sing this.  i’m thankful that God lets me see and hear my children worship Him in spirit and truth.

hear is the whole song lyric.  if you haven’t listened to any Gungor, there is some beautiful theology in the lyrical content of their songs.

The Earth Is Yours-Michael Gungor

Your voice it thunders
The oaks start twisting
The forest sounds with cedars breaking
The waters see You and start their writhing
From the depths a song is rising

Now it’s rising from the ground

Holy, Holy
Holy, Holy Lord
The earth is Yours and singing
Holy, Holy
Holy, Holy Lord
The earth is Yours
The earth is Yours

Your voice it thunders
The ground is shaking
The mighty mountains now are trembling
Creation sees You
And starts composing
The fields and trees they start rejoicing.

Now it’s rising from the ground
It’s rising from the ground
Hear us crying out
Hear us crying out

Holy, Holy
Holy, Holy Lord
The earth is Yours and singing
Holy, Holy
Holy, Holy Lord
The earth is Yours
The earth is Yours

a quote….


“If leading worship is just about bringing a group of people into a room so we can get goosebumps and sing songs together, there’s not much value in that. But if leading worship is a means to an end, that we leave this place as a different kind of people, as part of a new humanity that God wants to create – the people that are caring for the widows and orphans, that aren’t bound by the systems of this world but becoming free, becoming fully engaged in our world – then that matters.” Michael Gungor

pondering worship…


a passage i read in a book sent me to this line of thinking…

instead of trying to create something that is real and authentic, why not actually BE real and authentic?

that’s my paraphrase, but it’s true.  i think about creating moments for people to meet God, but are those moments real?  are they authentic, or are they just a “production”?   i don’t know if every worship leader struggles with this the way i do, but it’s a struggle.  i really do want people to be able to relate to the guy who is on the stage in a real way.  i don’t want it to be part of the show.  i continually pray that God’s  heart would shine out when i sing.  i’m always telling my team that we have to balance worship and leading.  that we need to be intentional on creating moments.  i can do all of that and be as unreal and unauthentic as most MTV “reality” shows.

so where is the balance?  how do i still create while being true to God, myself, my team and the congregation?  i guess i need to go back to the original worship leader…that’s right the warrior poet and king himself…David

Psalm 139

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.

5 You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!

18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.

19 If only you would slay the wicked, O God!
Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!

20 They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.

21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD,
and abhor those who rise up against you?

22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

that last phrase really speaks to me.  the whole Psalm is amazing, but asking God to see if there is anything offensive in me and that He would lead me in His way, not mine.  that is answer to my question.


so i think this is the next song i want to teach our church…


How He Loves…

i have to agree with some buddies of mine and say that Jared Anderson’s version is amazing.  Crowder’s is good too, but i think the Anderson version is the one our church will get.  i also love the Jesus Culture Music version with Kim Walker.

it’s Sunday Setlist Time….


this post is part of SundaySetlists over at Fred McKinnon’s Blog.

sunday-setlists

we had a great week.  thanks to Justin Romack for filling in for Mark our regular drummer.  he did a great job.

i felt like my energy was down just a bit this week.  we’ve had a great month, and i sometimes expect a dip.  i don’t like it, but it happens.  just makes me focus more on what is important, and my own preparation so that our people can worship.  that being said, here’s what we sang.

Everlasting God-Brenton Brown (we did the Lincoln Brewster version and Jay, our guitar player, did a great job)

Cell Phone Video (this was  humor video we showed of an usher destroying a blackberry because it rang in the service)

Your Grace is Enough-Matt Maher (first time we’ve done this one.  it went great)

Your Love Never Fails-Chris McClarney (Ok, we did this for offering two weeks in a row and this week we introed it into the worship set.  as much as i love it, i don’t think the congregation is going to sing it.  it’s kindof a tricky rhythm, so we’ll retire it for now, we may come back to  it)

New Doxology-Gateway Worship (i love this arrangement and new verses to this hymn, we had some issues going from 6/4 to 4/4, but it came off well.  we don’t get alot of rehearsal time and need another week to gel on this.  we introed it as the offertory)

Sermon-We Are the Children of God

You Alone-David Crowder (invitation)

overall a great day.  worked on some sound issues.  really getting things fixed all around.  about to have  buddy of mine come out and work with our video stuff. i’m excited about what God is doing and is going to do in the body here at FUMC Lufkin.