Oh Great Love of God: Part 2

When I set out to write about this song I did not intend for it to take two posts. The song has a lot of lyrics, and so it is taking longer. This is not a bad thing, it just is. We left off discussing portions of the chorus. If you hav not read the first post, please do so before proceeding farther. Now I am going to turn my attention to verse two, then the bridge. It seems that almost the entire song will be covered in these two posts:

“Servant King of rich and poor, beggar that the world ignores,

Oh let me see Your face, hidden in simple thing.”

These lines are reminiscent of the passage of scripture in which Christ tells the disciples that whatever one does to a “brother, even the least of them, he has done it to Me,” (see Matt 25:34-40). Not only is this singing scripture, which is an act of worship, but it is reminding us of another act of worship, serving other in love! Often in our culture we only see worship as the 90 minutes that we gather together every weekend. This however is only a very small part of what our worship should be. This time of worship, should fill us to the point of overflowing so that we may serve others and worship God individually throughout the week. The chorus communicates, in a way, what Sunday is about.

“This is not a song, this is a revival”

Sunday is about reviving our strength, and our faith. Each song should spark a revival in our lives and faith. If it is not, then something is wrong, not with the song, not with the church, and not with the worship team, but more than likely with the worshiper. Worshipers do not worship through the week, and so they wonder why their Sunday worship is so dry. Sunday worship should overflow into the weeks worship, and the worship from the week should overflow into Sunday. If this is not the case, then one needs to grow. I have been in this place all to often.

“This is a return back to life, oh Your life in my life, it’s Your life in my life that I’m dying for”

Is this something we believe? That acquiescing to Christ is a return to life to true life, to abundant life (John 10:10).

This blog had some tough things in it, I try not to sugar coat when I can, and it may be off putting to some. It’s a struggle for me to put such things in a blog, as it sometimes appears to be done out of arrogance. In reality I am on the same journey as you the reader is. These lyrics speak to my heart and soul, they challenge me, and convict me, just as I hope they do you. Which is why it is in my “Dream CCLI top 25.”

What about this song challenges you?

The Little Drummer Boy

I mentioned in my last blog that I am not a big fan of the Christmas season. I love Christmas and what it stands for. This year I have actually been listening to more Christmas music than I normally do, and a song, quiet unexpectedly, struck me as quiet profound. This song is: The Little Drummer Boy! I’m linking the lyrics so I don’t have to post them all. What struck me as profound is what it actually communicates about worship. I don’t think most people, if anyone, actually thinks about what Christmas songs communicate about worship, but for some reason I was when I heard this song. The premise of the song is that this poor little boy is invited to join the Magi to see the Lord on the night He was born. The Magi offer Christ rich gifts that would be offered to a king. The poor little boy has nothing but a drum, and so the boy offers a song on his drum to Jesus. The Carol expresses that Jesus enjoys and approves of the song through a simple smile. Why is this so profound? It communicates that it isn’t the cost of the gift, it isn’t the extravagance of what is offered, but it is the sincerity, authenticity, and heart of the one offering the gift of worship to Christ.

Often in our churches today those that fill the seats or pews see those that serve upfront, or in more ‘public’ ways are those offering the best ‘gifts of praise.’ However, the most talented of worship leaders, and speakers can have a jaded heart, or a prideful soul as they present their offering. If you don’t have the gifts, or calling to be an upfront worshiper, if you can’t do musical offerings, or speak profound words do not fret. You are the modern day equivalent to the drummer boy. You have something to offer. Something that may be even more profoundly important than all of the elements that make a church run on a Sunday morning. Search your heart for what you can and want to offer to God as an act of worship through service and offering and give it. The same smile of approval that the baby Jesus gives the drummer boy will undoubtadly be given to you as well.

Merry Christmas!

Leadership

One of the classes I am taking for my course work this semester is, “Leadership in Worship.” As I am reading my leadership books, and reading about the different types of leaders, and the characteristics of good leaders, I was struck by something I have never been struck with in my life of leading. I barely have any of the leadership qualifications that are listed. Out of a list I just read from Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders, I was unsure if I posses any of the characteristics. Here is the list: discipline (maybe), vision (i don’t think so), wisdom (probably not), decision (I’m a processor), courage (that would be my youngest brother), humility (my father for sure, not me), integrity (I like to think so?), and sincerity (Bingo! got one!). One for sure out of eight, that’s not good, maybe 3 out of 8? That is not even half. The lesson for me? At 28 years of age (almost) I still have a lot to learn on being a good spiritual leader.

No Void

I am reading a book for my class on the Theology of Worship. The statement was made by the author “For human beings there can be no vacuum of non-worship . . . The error . . . is not the neglect of worship, but the exchange of worship” Noel Due in Create for Worship. The point that Due is making is that, if we are not worshiping the God Yahway, we are worshiping something else, and that worship is not correct. You may think that you are not worshiping anything, but in fact we all worship something. Money, iPods, celebrities, sports, sex, food, or maybe even ourselves. I can look at this list and admit that I have fallen into the trap of worshiping one or more of these at a time. The more aware I am that I am not worshiping God, the better I can combat worshiping something else, and refocus on worshiping the one true God. I’ll be the first to admit that more often then I should I worship incorrectly something I should not. However, with this knowledge I can refocus my worship back on God.

My challenge to the reader is to not be deceived into thinking you are worshiping nothing, if not God, but to realize that you are worshiping something. Don’t let shame and guilt keep you from worshiping God, seek forgiveness and redemption and refocus on worshiping God!

Leading the Middle

Early on in my ministry at my last church, the Sr. Pastor there asked me to read a chapter out of a book called Courageous Leadership, this book is now a text-book for my current class at LU. I just finished reading that chapter again. The chapter is on self leadership. It talks about how a leader can lead in four directions. South, to those below them, North, to those above them, and East & West, to their peer group. However, the author says that a leader must lead in the middle, to self! The chapter gives a number of specifics and areas of self that we are required to lead ourselves in, in order to be a good leader. At the time I chose one area of my life to work on, and when I thought I had successfully done that I celebrated internally, and then, did nothing more. If I had taken the chapter to heart then, and worked harder, a great many difficulties in the past year and a half or so would have been avoided.

However, the great thing about mistakes is that you can learn from them, and God always has a plan to help and not harm, regardless what we do. So I am not getting a Grad degree, which to be honest is less about getting the degree and more about learning and disciplining myself to me. What I realized this time around is that self leadership is true for everyone, and is also true in worship. Sure we have that ‘one guy’ up front who asks us to stand, sit, clap, and sing along to the songs he is playing. That leader may be the ‘Worship Leader’ but if you don’t want to worship, you won’t. As a worshiper I must lead myself to worship in order to authentically worship. I am not saying that I don’t need the worship leader or anyone else to get me there, but there is always the choice we have, we can have a bad attitude, or critique every little thing about a worship gathering, or any other things in a long list that we choose to do instead of worship, or we can choose to worship, and in an act of self worship leading, worship truly and authentically. This act is even more difficult (but rewarding) in churches that are unfamiliar and have different worship styles then your own, but still the choice is yours! So I choose to be a self worship leader and choose to worship God with all that I am on Sunday morning and everyday!

What is your worship choice?

What’s at stake?

How often have you attended a worship service and feel as though the worship leader wants you to react to how great of a leader he is and not to God? Or how often have you, the worship leader, planned a service designed to be musically perfect, the songs highlight your vocal and musical ability. They bring out your passion, because they are your favorite songs? I’m not trying to communicate that having a musically great band and a high standard is bad. What I am trying to communicate is that’s not the most important thing on a Sunday. The question that Joe Crider of Liberty University has asked the worship students is this: What is at stake every Sunday morning? It’s not how good we look, its presenting a true and authentic image of God in worship. A picture that is not skew by who we are, but is true and biblical, a God that wants to know them, a God that wants to save them. The worship leader must realize that the most important thing about them as a worship leader is not how great they are at guitar, how beautiful their voice is, or how passionate they are about the worship song, but what their view of God is.

How a worship leader views God impacts the songs they pick, and in turn impacts the way that the congregation views God. To often worship is relegated to a time filler, a thing that we do before the sermon. The reality is both the music and the sermon is worship. In addition, people are more likely to remember the lyrics of a song, and thus the theology from that song, then the words of a sermon. I am not trying to discount sermons, they are important as well, but music is just more memorable than oration. The worship leader needs to remember that: their congregations view of God is at stake every Sunday morning. This should challenge them to be extremely intentional about the songs that they pick, how they support a positive and honest view of who God really is, and how they support the sermon as well.

My challenge to the worship leader is to remember what is at stake every weekend. My challenge to the congregant is to support a positive view of who God is for the worship leader, and challenge them to be intentional.

School’s Back!

Well school started earlier than I thought. I awoke to an e-mail in my school inbox telling me that my first week assignments were ready to be viewed and were due Sunday night! Anyway, hopefully my studies will inspire some great thought provoking blogs over the next 16 weeks. I am hoping to blog about what I am learning, to challenge you, my readers, as I am being challenged. This is the first post on that. My first assignment deals with ambition. The question is asked “why do so many worship leaders seem to suffer from selfish ambition?” While I know plenty of worship leaders who are ambitious, but for the glory of God, we are all human, and even the most well intentioned person will suffer from selfish ambition sometimes. Here is my response:

There are two ‘syndromes’ that worship leaders in today’s American Pop-culture. The first is ‘The Rock Star syndrome”, in this case they desire to be up front playing and singing to be seen, this is how I first started in worship as a High School student. The second is “The Artist syndrome” (for lack of a better term at the moment.) The artist has a lack of self-esteem but feels comfortable behind a piano or guitar, with their eyes closed singing and playing. The artist’s ego and self-esteem get a boost when they ‘perform’ well and the congregation and Pastor compliment them. There may be other ’syndromes’ that worship leaders suffer from, but in my experience, however limited, these are the two most prevalent. Their ambition in getting into worship is to be seen and to have their ego boosted, while ‘worshiping’ God. The brokenness of man in sin causes our ambition that would, before the fall, glorify God and do His work, to glorify ourselves. In essence we make ourselves a god, and in a sense we serve mammon instead of God in this way. J. Oswald Sander’s suggests, in Spiritual Leadership, that Christ teaches that ambition centered on self is evil. Christ teaches that our ambition should be to develop our God given talents and gifts, not to glorify ourselves, but to glorify God. If someone has a gift for music and an ambition to use that gift to lead worship, well would that ambition not be glorifying to our God and not to the servant? If someone has the gift to create amazing clay sculptures and structures and creates them for the glory of God, does that ambition to create not Glorify God? The difficulty really comes from the fact that we cannot always see the true heart ambition, we can only judge whether we think their ambition is toward the glorification of the God that gave them their gifts, or themselves.

How do you struggle with ambition?