Where He Wants You

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I have a confession to make. I am always looking to what’s next. I look to what’s next in cars. What’s going to be the next phone. What’s going to be the next Jordan design. What’s the next album my favorite artists are putting out. Why is wearable technology not taking off as much as people thought. What’s going to be the next step. What’s my team going to do to overcome last year’s faults. I am always looking ahead. While this doesn’t seem too bad, it can be detrimental if it’s not kept under control. Where on one side it seems like I’m just keeping up with the times, other the other side it translates into me being feverish in my pace of life. That is hardly ever good for me. Next appointment. Next deadline. Next song in the set. Finish the next week’s set. Get through rehearsal. Get through this meeting. Plan another meeting. Before I know it, my life is filled with just getting things done and those things don’t have much meaning in my life other than the check mark beside them on my task list. I do this with meetings. I do this with church. I do this with prayer. I do this with my family. And it’s not good.

I have lived in Silicon Valley for the past 4 and a half years. During this time I have grasped the idea of perpetually busy. I have mastered it. Like seriously, I should have a degree. My schedule overwhelms me and the people around me sometime. And for some reason, we have switched over to judging our coolness based on how busy we are. It used to be about the coolest car or clothes or video game system. Now it’s literally how much time we don’t have to sleep or do normal people things like eat at normal times. It’s kinda ridiculous actually. While busy seems to be the in thing, in reality my spiritual walk has been suffering. I haven’t been taking the time to really reflect on who God is and what he means to me and why that’s important to my job as a worship pastor. I’ve just been picking songs because songs needed to be picked. I haven’t even been liking all the songs that I picked, but at least that set list was done. I would feel so much worse if I thought I was the only worship leader in the world who did this. But I know I’m not, so I won’t let you judge me either ;-)

Here’s what I do know. I know that when I decided to slow down, readjust my time and my focus, I started to realize that I was off the path that God wanted me on. No, I’m not changing careers or churches. But I’ve been forced to look at how I’ve been approaching my worship ministry. What I had to wrestle with was the fact that God isn’t as interested in how my music sounds or how clean my rehearsals are run or if the transitions hit right. He’s interested in me. After all this time he’s still just interested in me. He’s just interested in you. He still isn’t interested in how much you can do in 24 hours, or that you’ve been working so hard that you just passed out for a whole day. He’s interested in you spending time getting to know him and allowing him to speak to you.

I’ve been retraining myself to do that lately. And you know what I’ve found, God’s word is pretty cool. I’ve also found that the songs that I’m leading have more meaning than they have in a long time. I’m finding that it’s exciting to get up on Sunday mornings again. Sure, it has only been a month, but that’s big for me as of late. Sometimes we can get so distracted and overwhelmed by life that we don’t have a good view of where He wants us. We keep trying to put our feet down where we think the ground is, only to realize that we are actually upside down and need to be flipped over.

A couple years ago while with my family in Santa Cruz, I made a crucial mistake at the beach. I turned my back on the ocean while I was in it. When you turn your back on the ocean, it rarely ends well for you. I was there talking to a friend while standing in calf deep water when all of a sudden I, all 5 foot 11 inch, xxxxxx lbs of me was thrown. I struggled for what seemed like 90 minutes trying to find the ground, air, my shorts which were falling off. It was something to behold from what I’ve heard. When I was finally able to ground myself, I was easily 200 yards from where I had started. At that point I learned from my previous mistake and started to make the trek back to my highly amused family. It is still a highlight of conversation to this day.

Sometimes you get tossed to and fro by life. Sometimes you get so busy that you get thrown all over the place, only the settle and find out that you are nowhere close to where He wants you. The beauty is that once you get your feet under you, he’s never too far away that you can’t get back to him. What in your life has you so tossed and scattered that you aren’t currently where he wants you? What’s it going to take to get you moving back in the right direction?

Before I even get started, I want to make sure you know that I love what I do and am glad to move fully in what God has called me to do. That does not mean that it’s always easy. If you have the type of relationship with the worship guy or gal at your church, ask them what they think about this after you read it. Now that’s out of the way…

It is possible that being a worship pastor is one of the loneliest jobs in the church. That may sound a little dramatic, but hopefully, I can explain it. I have spent a few years doing this job now and, unless you take some real initiative to reach out to other people who also do this job, you aren’t going to find many people who think like you within your church office. There is one church that I ran across last year that has a whole pastoral staff filled with people who used to be in bands. I don’t know how they found each other, but they are so much an anomaly that they might not even count. We will call them Unicorn Community Church for the remainder of this post. Outside of Unicorn Community Church, it’s really hard to find such a large group of creatives gathered in your church staff. What that means is that I spend a significant amount of time alone in my planning, listening and creating patches and coming up with creative intros…all of those things…by myself. My social nature cringes throughout the work day because I spend most of my day alone, simply because what I do doesn’t always connect with what everyone else is doing.

Before this sounds like a cry fest, let me get to the point. It is so very easy for us to try and live this Christian life alone. Satan knows that the best way to slow down the progress of the Gospel is to get us alone. There is strength in numbers. I’ve found that when I’m not intentional about staying in community with people, even within my office, I start to wither. And when I start to wither the worship within our church starts to suffer. I begin to just lead songs because it’s what I’m supposed to do. We sing, but there isn’t much worship happening. It takes work, even within a church office, to stay connected to people within the body.

So, how are you staying connected to the body? Small groups? Prayer teams? A part of a church ministry? How are you fighting off the dark side of the Christian life? Have you noticed that you have been in a funk lately? Are you blaming everyone else for the things happening around you? Have you built up walls that are keeping people at arms’ length? What can you do to be intentional about staying connected? Satan knows that he ultimately can’t win, but he’s going to do everything that he can to delay the process. Are you helping him?

Focal Point

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I’m not generally given to resolutions, mostly because I’m really good at making them and not always good at keeping them. I’m a great at the plans and the vision, sometimes my execution lacks. So, this is definitely not one of those. However, sometimes the Lord decides that it’s time for me to refocus and this is one of those times. I have spent a lot of time lately trying to make things happen the way I want them to and not enough time focused on what God has called me to.

Currently at my church we are in the midst of a series on Christ. We thought that if we were going to try and make an impact for the kingdom, we needed to make sure hat we were focused on Christ first. Makes sense, right? What I didn’t initially was consider how much my focus had shifted away from Christ. But God has a way of bringing me back to where I need to be. Oddly enough, a lot of it had to do with this past week and all of the inaugural activities and subsequent marches as well as where we are currently as a church. We are such a divided country right now. What’s interesting to me is that the church is also really divided about a lot of what’s going on. I am not a political person, so I have to approach all of this with what I know best. And that’s who Christ is and what He means to me. The thing that has shocked me the most is how, when we are all pushed into a proverbial corner, how we respond. I have been really surprised by some Christians and their responses to the Presidential position and who sits there. Before this slides down a slippery political slope, let me return to where I want to be. The fact that when we step outside of the will of God, we begin to do things in our own power. I know for sure that’s what I’ve been doing when it comes to life. When I step out of that place then I find myself wandering. Floundering. Blaming others for my problems. Frustrated because I expect someone else to make things right.

My new friend Wayne Stewart is a worship director in Iowa and he said something in his book. Actually, it was in the foreword. He says it like this.

You’ve felt it personally when something about worship changed and you were left feeling disconnected, maybe even disenfranchised—on the outside now of something so foundational to your faith.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the problem is not with worship. Or should I say the patterns and structures of worship. If it was, surely the span of some two-thousand Spirit-indwelt years would have gotten us to where we need to be, don’t you think? The problem, maybe challenge is a better word, is with us. Worship has always been, and remains squarely, a heart and life issue. Not a style, preference, or culture issue. If we desire to get off the never-ending carousel of worship details, we will need to go a different direction. Not left. Not right. Not backwards or forwards. We will need to go in the direction of something bigger.

When I read this, it hit me pretty hard. His book called ‘Bigger’ is speaking directly to worship and how we are so focused on the details and not so much on the one we are worshiping. But I think this is something that is relateable to life in general. When I spend more time focusing on circumstances and the other things that are happening around me, I’m not spending enough time on the one I should be focused on.

I don’t know what that looks like to you, but I know what it looks like for me. I know that I can do my job pretty easily without much thought. I can pick songs. I can sing them. I can check the boxes and people will think that I’ve done a magnificent job. So many times that ends up being just good enough. However, when I get to that place, I realize that I am not spending enough time during the week doing what needs to be done. I probably haven’t spent as much time praying or connecting with Christ to make sure that I’m not making this about me. My ego kicks in and I let that dictate how deep I dig. This month has really pushed me and it hurt. It hurt because I realized that all of the issues I have faced within my job and the structure isn’t about anyone else. It isn’t about direction or lack thereof. It isn’t about designs are paradigms or visions or missions. It’s about my lack of focus. It’s about me not being where I’m supposed to be.

I don’t have an answer for the problems of our country. I don’t have an answer for the problems of my church or yours or your boss or your kids or your family. I do know that your reaction to those things could be more based in where you are looking. Are you looking to the Preseident to fix the issues around you? God, I hope not. You’re gonna spend a lot of time disappointed. You’re going to also spend some time in arguments with people around you. And if you have spent any time on Facebook or Twitter lately, I’m sure you’ve noticed it. You’ve probably been involved in it. Are you going to continue to try to convince people that you are right and they are wrong? How’s that going for you? I’m convinced that you’ll probably turn out a lot better if you start to focus on something other than those around you. For me, I made some changes to challenge myself in a way I thought I was supposed to. I quickly realized that my view of God and worship was way too small. He needed me to focus somewhere else so that he could do work on my heart. He brought me back to the Word. Why I wasn’t there before? Because I’m human. Maybe you’re spending more time trying to convince your Facebook friends that our government is going to be the end of all humanity as we know it. That’s an argument that you’re not going to win. I believe that we as Christians have forgotten about the power of the Gospel and it’s ability to change even the worst of situations. Once we try to make changes on our own, we diminish the power of God. We try to do his job. Scary, huh?

God is bigger than the box we put him in. Once we put him in that box we begin to focus on the other things that we think we can control with speeches and marches and quotes from the past. Maybe we should take some time and just start reading again. And not just reading to make a point to win an argument. Reading for the sake of getting to know God again. Reading for the sake of hearing what he wants to say to us and not to someone else. Maybe we need to reshift our focus…

 

As a worship pastor, it is my job to create opportunities for people to connect with Christ in a corporate setting. I’ve done this for a few years now, in both small and large churches. A lot of times people who do my job are pretty anal about the way things should go. If a musician is going to be worth their weight in feathers, they are going to obsess about details to make sure that the music turns out the way they want it to. That is what we do. So, even when things go well, we are waiting for things to go wrong. We always have a plan B, C and possibly a D if need be. Or maybe I’m just talking about myself. Here’s what I know, I know that on any given Sunday I have a million different thoughts running through my mind over the course of the morning. I thought it would be fun to share some of them with you. After this, I’d love to hear from some of my other perfectionists to see how your brains work over the course of a work day.

1. Will everyone show up on time?

2. Will anyone show up at all?

3. Do I have my keys?

4. Is this the week that my laptop finally gives up during the middle of service?

5. Wow, I’m sleepy.

6. Coffee.

7. I’m not sure if I want to do this today.

8. Of course I want to do this today. This is what I’m called to do.

9. Coffee.

10. Why is the room so cold?

11. Well, that didn’t go too bad, but I need my person running the song words to move a little faster. I don’t remember that third song.

12. Did I just say in the name of Geepsus?

13. Why is this room so hot?

14. Coffee.

15. I wonder how many people are going to talk to me about the lights and the drums?

16. One more song and we are done.

17. Why has this dude played wrong on almost every song in two services?

18. I said Geepsus again!!!

19. All done.

20. Tacos.

This is probably just me, but I’m sure others around think like this. I probably didn’t write coffee enough. What about you?

Why Boyfriend Jesus is Dangerous

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I was preparing for a worship night last week when this idea hit me. Boyfriend Jesus is dangerous. I don’t think anyone else jumps to that point when they are preparing for worship nights. But I was struck by this thought. As I thought about it, it made more and more sense. Here’s my thought process.

Most of the time when worship nights are hard, especially historically, people sort of expected that there would be this concentration of music and praise that you don’t normally get on a regular Sunday morning. It will be less inhibited, more free flowing, even more emotional. People come in expecting a certain experience. You see things like songs with longer choruses and bridges, dim lighting, candles, and this created atmosphere that really speaks to really “meeting” God. It always sounded and looked like you were getting ready for a date. Or at least that’s where my mind always went. Then, we would sing songs like “In the Secret” and “Your Love is Extravagant that speaks to the intimate moments between you and God, which may be true, but sound a little bit creepy.

However, this past week as I was preparing for this evening, I was hit by the weight of the scripture that they were using. Psalm 46:10 says “Be still and know that I am God.” As I read the context of this verse, the chapter it was in as well as the one before, God was speaking to a group of people who were scared and frantic. Much like Jesus when he spoke to the wind and waves in Mark 4. It reminded me of when I was little and I’d be running around doing my thing, probably getting into stuff and my mom would call me. She start out softly, just trying to see if I heard her. Then she would call out to me a little louder. Sometimes I’d respond to that one. But if I didn’t, she would come and find me, get down in my face, grab the sides of my head and say, “Stop. Listen. Look at me.” She got in my face, made me focus on here, got my attention, and THEN she was able to tell me what I needed to know. That was effective for a spazz like me. She spoke with authority as my mom and the one making the rules. I had to listen. And I did. The repercussions for not listening were usually pretty steep.

When God said “Be still” he was speaking with authority. He was telling people to calm down and focus on him. Sure, there’s a lot of stuff floating around right now, but I am God. The same thing with Jesus in the boat. He was able to speak with authority to the waves when he said “Peace, be still”. Everything immediately stopped. Then he had the attention of the people on the boat.

In the case of this worship night, I felt that it was imperative that we take the opportunity to listen to God in whatever form that He was speaking. Worship nights aren’t always for these emotional, boyfriend moments. Jesus isn’t your boyfriend anyway. But the emotional moments of intense worship and praise are not always accurate at worst, and incomplete at best. Sometimes, these times or worship and focus are created because God is trying to get in your face, hold the sides of your head, get you to look right at him and listen. Listen deep. Listen hard. Listen intently. He has something to say to you. He has a plan for you this year. His plan for your life and it’s important that you are in tune with him. Sure, black lives matter. Sure, all lives matter. Sure, presidential candidates are vying and lying for your votes. Sure, money is tight. Sure, someone has wronged you. Sure you don’t know what is going to happen next. I don’t either. But I know who does. And he’s telling you to listen to him. He’s not trying to be your boyfriend. He’s Lord. Listen to him.

 

God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present[b] help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
    though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
    God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
    he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
    how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
    he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Psalm 46 (ESV)

Monday afternoon my wife and I were in an interesting situation. We lost $100. Well, it was a $100 gift card to Safeway that we were given as a Christmas gift. We needed to pick up some things, and it was a blessing to be able to go and get it from this store. We sat down, looked at the website, put some things on the card and the list, found the deals, set ourselves up for a shopping trip. I loaded all the deals on the card, got my wallet and keys, put on my jacket, and we couldn’t find the gift card. So, like anyone would do when they lose that amount of money, we started frantically looking. We started to blame each other. She said I had it last. I said that she had it last. We both remembered two totally different versions of the last time we saw it. It wasn’t in the place where we put “stuff”, so that forced us to check other places. I checked my wallet. She checked her purse. Nothing. I checked my book bag. She checked another purse. Nothing. Then we started digging through everything. My wife started to clean off the desk on her side of the bed, I started to tear apart my nightstand. We were finding papers from June of last year, receipts from anniversary trips, gift cards that had nothing on them, old movie stubs. Everything. As we poured through all this old stuff, we kept throwing things away, eliminating distractions in the process. Once I had cleared my nightstand and she had cleaned off her desk, she says, “maybe I’ll go and look back in the kitchen again.” I kept looking in my room and then I heard my wife yell to the bedroom from the kitchen. She came into the room and threw something at me that hit me in the back. It was the missing Safeway gift card. Where was it? Sitting next to the “stuff” holder. It was right next to where the initial search started. We rejoiced and I was preparing to go to the store nearly an hour after I originally planned to. As I was walking out the door I said to her, “Sometimes you just need to clean up. That’s probably going to be something I write about later.” And here we are.

This is a slam dunk analogy for the start of a new year. Cleaning out the old and making way for the new. New year, new start. Whatever you want to say here, it probably works. But the thing that was so important to me in this whole exchange was that the thing we needed was always there. We spend so much time trying to add to what we already have that we cover up the only thing we really need. A lot of us are sitting there with Christ and expecting something else. We are proficient at Christ plus. We feel like there must be something else. So we try to do more. We try to say better things. Act a certain way. Do things that other people tell us we need in order to validate Christ. In the end we just need Christ. We forget that the Gospel is enough.

This year, we need to stop covering up the Gospel and trying to make it something extra special or extra pretty. It doesn’t need our help. You might be covering it up with your job. You might be covering it up with your family. Your position. Your money. Your old habits. Your insecurities. I’m here today to say to you that the Gospel does not need your help. Sometimes you just have to clean up all the stuff you’ve piled on top of it and let it be. It is strong enough by itself to do exactly what it needs to do. It is powerful. Simple. Beautiful. Sometimes we just need to clean up and let the Gospel shine through. When it does, not only will it remind you of where you started, but it’s going to shine on someone else too. That’s when it is at its best. What do you need to clean up to let the Gospel shine through in your life again?

Sometimes I write titles for my blog posts and get confused by my own brain and how it works. I generally come to the same conclusion after I think about it for a little while, and this is just the way God made me. I can’t do anything about that but walk in it and enjoy the journey. Now that’s out of the way…

If you are reading this and don’t agree that music is one of the most powerful and most consistent mediums in the world, you should probably go ahead and stop reading. This is probably not a post for you. If you’re still reading and haven’t been hiding under a rock for the last few months of the year, you’re probably aware that Adele came out with an album and it shattered records that we didn’t even know were out there. You may have even heard it. You may have been like me and preordered it and rejoiced greatly when you opened up your iTunes that Friday morning and it started to download automatically. Then you devoured track after track, ingesting each one with joy, sorrow, and gratitude. Joy that she finally gave us another album. Sorrow from the deep, heartfelt emotion that came from each track about love lost and found and searched for. Gratitude that there is still someone out there making music that is technically proficient and there is no whipping or nae-naeing involved (granted, not many songs can get a whole group of people dancing quite like that one can). I thoroughly enjoyed the album and, because I don’t spend a lot of time listening to radio, I wasn’t overwhelmed by “Hello” and still enjoy hearing it. I saw how much this album took the world by storm when it came out and I couldn’t help but wonder why. Is it the lyrics? It is her spot on reflections on relationships? Is it the fact that it’s virtually impossible for her to sing out of tune? Is it production value? I think it’s all of these things. I also think that the importance of music and how it connects to the heart and how well she does that with every note she sings.

When I think about it, I hear music like that and think about how real the struggle is. There’s not a real resolution at the end, but there is definitely an internal struggle that is being wrestled through. I didn’t listen to that album and think, “she figured out and now I know what I need to do”. I listened and thought, “man, this woman is dealing with some things. I hope she figures it out. I’ve been there before”. I think that’s the ticket. I also think that is the struggle that some people have with music within the church. There have been a myriad of songs written within the church that seem shallow and don’t touch all of the emotions that people walk in the door with. Yes, it is important to know that we are loved by God and that he can bring joy and that He is good. But sometimes, the struggle is real. Sometimes your kids are driving you nuts. Sometimes your wife or husband is about to leave. Sometimes your job is in jeopardy. Sometimes cancer rears its ugly head in someone you love. Sure, we want to know that God is the answer to all of our problems, that’s one of the reasons we come to church, to find encouragement. But there aren’t a whole lot of songs that dig down in the middle of the struggle.

This is not a post about old versus new, hymns versus contemporary. This is simply an observation about the strive for holiness. When you are striving for holiness there are many different points. There are highs and lows and many different points along the way. I don’t really think there’s a need for people to write songs about being stuck in sexual addiction. Everyone doesn’t sit in that place and it won’t edify the whole body. I can only imagine the comment cards that would come from that one. I do believe that there is an important voice that music has within the body of Christ that has to be heard. I believe that those leading people in the singing of these songs have an important job in helping connect the songs to real life situations. When that is done effectively then we start to see people go from spectators to participators in the singing portion of worship. When I hear a song on the radio that I don’t connect with, I turn it off and find something else. But when I connect with a song I sit in the car even after I pull into the garage and listen until it goes all the way off. When I’m in church and songs speak to how awesome God is and how good he makes me feel, that might not always connect with where I am. But, when someone connects that song to something that is happening in life that tugs at my situation or a situation I’ve dealt with, my interest is piqued. I tune in a little bit more. I feel as if this person is attempting to help me engage with my heart issues and why it is important for me to seek God for the answers.

I think music in the church is still a lot deeper than some people give it credit for, but we have to help connect it to the heart. Music is still important in the church because it connects to the heart in a way that a message doesn’t always do. It’s awesome when music can help prepare you for what is about to be said. When emotions are tapped into, your ears open a little more to hear what’s being said. You are looking for something that will answer questions that you brought with you. The church is still important today. Music in the church is still important today. Their effectiveness has everything to do with how we utilize them to connect people to the cross and its importance in every aspect of life. Adele and her team have figured out how to connect music to life. There is a ton of music being written for the church that have figured it out as well. Make sure that you are doing what you can to put that music in front of people. Why? Because the story still needs to be told.

Happy New Year! With a new year always comes new commitments and new ideas for getting healthy or reading more or whatever it may be. Good luck with all of those.

I had the idea to write more, but not only write more, but to be more intentional about what I write. I still have the idea to write a book, and I am still constantly writing on that. But, this is where my writing started. I still think that writing about worship is important. There are way more people doing it today than there was 7 years ago, but this is a calling that God gave to me and so I’m doing it.

Just like God gave me writing, God gave us the church. Because of this, I still feel that the church is important. Working at a church constantly keeps the role of the church in the world at the forefront of my mind, and this year is no different. Everyday the church continues to come under attack. The influence continues to wain as the world continues to ask questions that they don’t seem to get answered. Add to that the megachurch pastors who are trying to justify why they need 65 million dollar jets and you can see why this title can seem farfetched. But believe me, the church is still important today.

Reason 1: There are still people who haven’t heard. Our mission is to share the Gospel story with those who haven’t heard it. Everyday there are people who haven’t heard this story. The church is still a place for people to hear that story. The church has to make sure that they are telling the story completely.

Reason 2: The importance of the local church cannot be overshadowed by the media’s portrayal of the church. I feel like the church needs to be at the forefront of caring for the people in its community. People are hurting and the church is a place for hurting people. So many times we have been portrayed as a place where people are perfect and we are just continuing in our perfection. In reality, the church is filled with hurting people. It is important for us to pull back the veil that hides our ugliness and be real.

Reason 3: God isn’t finished yet. This excites me. It excites me because it means there is still work to be done. Working at a church I know that there is always work that needs to be done there. We just wrapped up the Christmas season and frankly, it wore me out. But I do it because the story has to be told. The story of Jesus coming to save us is the most important story of all. In a couple months we are going to tell the part of the story where Jesus dies and then rises on the third day. That only matters because the Savior was born. The Savior was born because he had to die for us. This story continues to be told and continues to be important. Why do we need a Savior? Well, if you are reading this then you live in this world. Living in this world means that you have witnessed the killing and the degradation of human life. You’ve witnessed people blurring gender lines. You have witnessed people searching for answers in every way possible. Eventually everyone runs out of answers. The church has to still be standing at the end of it all. Christ has to be on the throne at the end of the day. I, for one, believe that He will be. If I believe that, then the church has to be there when people run out of options.

The church’s importance comes from the pure, unadulterated light that shines in the darkness. It is warm and comforting for those who need it. It is sharp and blinding for those who don’t want it to shine on them. It is a lot of things to a lot of people, but know this, it is the light that brings freedom. The church is the place that houses that light. Because of that, the church is still important.

 

And This is Just the Beginning.

Posted by worship180 under Uncategorized

I’ve gone back and forth over the past couple days trying to figure out what to say. This week I celebrated 7 years of this blog being in existence. 7 years. I don’t know if I’ve done anything for that long, outside of marriage and my kids. Someone could argue that I haven’t really done this for a solid 7 years. To you I would say “you are correct”. But the point is, this concept has been ruminating in my heart for this long and has not gone away. I’m okay with that. So the question lately has been “what are you going to do with all of this”? It is a question I have been asking myself for quite awhile now. This has kept me up for sometime at  night and dominated my thoughts during the day. My goal in life is to be able to be a part of something that does dynamic things for the Kingdom. I feel like having a voice that speaks into how we worship is important. As the church influence has shifted heavily in the past few years, I feel that it’s that much more important to speak to the heart of why we do what we do. We have moved far away from the days when the church had such an influence in the world. We’ve moved far away from the days when the church had real influence in the home. I still believe that the church has influence. It’s such a powerful influence, which is one of the reasons people are continuing to attack it. However, I don’t think that our fight starts on the outside. Our fight starts in the hearts of our people. It has to be someone’s job to speak life into the people that are fighting the daily battles. It has to be the church’s job to stand strong and continue to equip our God’s people to live a life that speaks truth in the face of lies. It’s our job to help God’s people understand that, no matter what happens, God is still in control and he deserves our love and honor. The fight is real and it is hard. But the war is won. THAT is why I continue to do what I do. Not because I like singing songs and leading people and standing in the lights each and every week. I do what I do because I am tasked with encouraging people to keep fighting.

So, what does that look for the future of worship180? Well, I truly do believe this is just the beginning. It has taken me this long to really be able to understand what God has called me to. I still don’t understand it fully, but I’m continuing to grow in who God has created me to be. This is one of the reasons that I decided to start writing some of these thoughts in book form. I don’t know what that’s going to mean for me, I’ve never written a book before. What I have is a good group of friends and people I look up to who are speaking into my life as I attack this venture. I covet your prayers as I keep walking toward God. Pray that all the distractions fade away. Pray that I can focus on who God is and what he wants. Pray for the church. It really needs all of our prayers. I’ll keep doing what I do until I feel I’m supposed to do something else. In the mean time, I’m in the fight. My hope is that I can keep writing to help the church grow stronger in our understanding of worship to God. That means I have to keep growing in my understanding. So, prayers all around.

I think that’s all for right now. Thanksgiving and Christmas and 2016 all need plans. Those plans, at least at Bridges Community Church, come from my brain. That can be scary. But it’s going to be fun. Come join us if you’re anywhere close.

A couple days ago we talked about the appearance of over production and how that can overshadow the message of Christ on a weekly basis. It is easy to pick on the production part of a Sunday morning, mostly because there are so many strong views about where church has gone in the past 15 years. But I want to take a look at something that doesn’t always get the same amount of play that production receives, but can be equally confusing.

Have you ever been around a group of military personnel? Have you ever hung out with musicians? How about computer programmers? Have you tried to follow their conversation? Have you ever been more confused in your entire life? It happens all the time, and it happens when people of a like mind get together and start talking about their craft or the thing they are interested in. They get excited and start using words that we didn’t know existed. Even more, they start using acronyms and abbreviations that are only known by people in the same circles. Suddenly you feel like you’re in the middle of an NFL huddle and they are only using letters and hand signals. You have no doubt that what they are saying is fascinating, but your inability to interact and communicate effectively with them has you searching for the fastest out so you can find someone that uses words that you know.

I feel this whenever churches get to the announcements portion of their services. Ironically enough, this is the time in a service when we are wanting people to find a place where they can get involved in the life of the church. For whatever reason we use this time to use our special language. We explain all of our upcoming events and plans that are native to our body that, unless you have some working knowledge of who we are, you sit there lost for a second while we use our church contractions and catchy phrases that a few staff members fought over a couple weeks ago. Once that has happened, you open yourself up as a church to the possibility of all the other words that may be spoken during the message to be more confusing than they may have already been because we confused people 20 minutes before. Am I overstating some of this? I’m sure I am. But I also know how my brain works and how I tend to dwell on things that confuse me until I get them straightened out.

This is not another post about how to not use inside language to make new people feel welcome. That’s really not what I’m getting at. Is it true that we should consider the verbiage that we use from the front of the stage? I think so. But the importance is more because of the depth of the Gospel and not the perceived brain capacity of the people listening. I’m starting to really wrestle with the idea of keeping the narrow pathway to the cross as clear as possible. Why? Well, it’s a narrow pathway. There’s only light on your feet and the path. I don’t think it’s really fair for us to throw anymore obstacles out there for people. Sure the pathway to hell is dark, but that’s because people turn off the lights because they don’t want anyone seeing what they are doing anyway.

The difficulty level of this concept has risen dramatically in the recent times because of all of the issues that are in the news right now. I believe that in a lot of ways the church has stuck its foot into some of these issues, but the shoe that we are wearing is too small and it’s on the wrong foot. Translation: the stance is convoluted and not real sturdy, and as a result we are taking a lot of hits. I expect us to take hits from non-Christians. But Christians are throwing blows as well. I tend to think that it’s because of their confusion as to what they believe about who God really is. Where does that confusion come from…

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