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?

Oh Great Love of God

Worship is about bringing glory to God. It isn’t about singing, it’s not about having the coolest music. This next song is probably one that many worship leaders would avoid. I believe that many worship leaders would label it as ‘unsingable’ or at least hard to sing. Does a higher percentage of singing in the congregation lead to authentic worship? I would argue and encourage worship leaders to include songs that may be difficult to sing but congregationally but have great music, lyrics and most importantly theology, to help teach this theology to their congregation. This is exactly what this song is. Over time the congregation will become familiar enough with the song to sing along as well.

“Oh Great Love of God” has some lyrics that I feel are awkward, but are theological truths that often get left out of worship songs (at least the ones I hear and know). The first verse for instance:

“Victim of our Sacrifice, gift of love a perfect life, all for a wayward bride, all for a wayward bride.”

The repeated phrase is a little awkward. Perhaps we know that we are the ‘Bride of Christ’ but how often are we reminded that we “have wandered away” as the scriptures say. Despite this Christ still died for us. Let us turn to the Chorus:

“Oh great Love of God, who takes away the sins of all of us, gone forever,

Heaven open wide in a resurrection, You won’t be denied, bringing life to the dead and dying.”

I suppose we can argue that this resurrection is the resurrection at the end times. I instead believe that it is a resurrection of the spirit or soul of a man upon salvation. The work of Christ is to restore life, “and life abundantly” This lyric speaks of the mission of God, a mission that sadly some churches do not pursue. I do not wish to bash the Church or churches, for the Church is the hope of the world, for it is the Body and Bride of Christ. It is just a simple truth that church leaders must work to rectify. There are a number of other lyrics that merit a writing about. For now I will leave it here, and instead of writing a novel of a blog, I will write a part 2 for this song.

Thanks for reading!

 

Mimic

I have had a number of blog ideas since my last post, but have been busy. This post came to me last night:

This past week I was blessed by the fact that my parents visited from California. My family is pretty close so any time family visits or my wife and I get to visit I am excited. My parents got to check out the coffee shop and hang around there while I worked a few of the days. I introduced them to co-workers and friends that came through. A few times (a bit to my surprise) my friends and co-workers would say, “Oh! You look a lot like your Dad.” This was a nice surprise. Even a few times they would comment later, “you and you’re Dad are a lot alike.” I took this as a huge compliment. During their visit and the day since they’ve been gone, I have noticed that I am a lot like my father. Now I am my own person, while I am barista and worship leader, my father is a Mechanical Engineer who has worked in the aerospace industry for years! (I always brag he is a Rocket Scientist!) We picked different career paths, we have different interests, we are different people. However, I am a lot like my father, and I hope that I become more so. He is a humble servant, who never brags about himself, and gets embarrassed when others do. He loves his wife, and God and his family (not necessarily in that order). He takes care of himself spiritually and physically. I know my father is not perfect, but really, I am very blessed to have him as a role-model, and I hope that I become more like him.

My earthly father is a great role-model! My heavenly Father, is the perfect role-model! He is wise, kind, loving, righteous, creative, powerful, glorious, gracious . . .the list can go on. My heavenly Father is someone I also want to be like. Everyday I try to be more like the man who He has created me to be, conforming to the likeness of Christ in order to model a life that God would approve of! In order to honor my heavenly father, just as I hope my life honors my earthly father. Most people don’t give too much stalk in their name anymore. My father is an Anderson, we can trace our heritage back to Scotland (as well as many other places). We have a family crest, and being Scottish a tartan kilt pattern. I believe that the way you live your life reflects on your heritage. In the same way; the way we live our life either brings glory to God, or it does not.

Lesson’s from Ladro

The other day, while I was on campus at Liberty University taking a course for my worship degree, someone asked me what I learned while working at Caffe Ladro. I knew right off the bat what my answer was. One single word, that I didn’t think would actually be my answer. However, when the question was asked, it was the first word that came into my head, and I knew it was right. You would think that working at a coffee shop that I would learn all sorts of stuff about coffee, espresso, latte art, and steaming the proper consistency of foam. All this I have learned more fully at Caffe Ladro, however, none of these things where my answer. My answer was one simple word: humility.

What an odd answer right? Not really. Anyone who works at a coffee bar, or any other area of the service industry knows that our job is all about serving, thats why it’s called the service industry. For me that meant developing humility. I think that would be less true in Lynchburg, VA (home of LU), or Cameron Park, CA (where I grew up) or even Yakima, WA (another placed I lived). However, in Issaquah, near Seattle it is very very true. The diverse nature of this part of the country means that many different cultures come together.

There are a lot of immigrants that are fresh from their country, or are 1st generation immigrants, still not full ‘Americanized’. Some of these cultures don’t tip, most of them don’t, thats not really a big deal to me. However, certain cultures view the service industry, as a low caste. We don’t have this caste system in America really. However, some cultures do and they bring it with them. When you wait on people that have this attitude you can tell they think they are better than you. They always are a little snotty or something. They also always take up large areas of our shop, and make the largest mess. For awhile this irritated me. Creating extra work with no tip! And the attitude. Sometimes I felt like saying, “Hey! I’m getting a Master’s degree, I’m probably smarter than you are!” but really . . . what arrogance! I’m glad I never said that, but I did think it. I have decided that God is teaching me humility. Who cares if I have a Master’s degree or Doctorate, or if my IQ is higher . . .thats not the point. I am there to serve. And I will serve the best I can, with a heart that will try to be humble and loving. Hopefully I’ll learn humility, who knows I am stubborn, but I hope I get it down.

What is God teaching you?

The Act of Brokenly Whole Worship

Cracked Mug

aThis past Friday I woke up early for my shift at work, it was a complete accident but I decided to go in early and take advantage of my seeming alertness to do some Bible reading. Anyway, the mug pictured above is ‘my mug’ I use it every time I go in, whether I work or not, I use it. This morning I was shocked to find a crack on it. Can you see it? Ignore the logo of the shop, there is an obvious crack running down the left side of the mug! I was disappointed to see it, still I put coffee in it to drink, and it held the delicious black liquid (which I did not add cream nor sugar, for as my Father has told me “Real men drink black coffee!” it’s true btw).

I was struck by this idea. This mug is like our worship. I don’t mean it has a logo on it, or it hold hot black liquidy goodness. I mean that our vessel for worship is cracked and broken. It is not perfect, but it still hold our worship. So in this metaphor the worship is the coffee, but the presentation comes from the mug, the mug is ourselves. We are cracked, broken, imperfect. This means really that our worship is too. The difference between us and this mug is, while over time this mug will get more cracks, and eventually break, if we focus our worship on God, if we focus our hearts on God, we will be made more and more whole.

The metaphor is imperfect, but the idea that I really want to convey is this: our worship is imperfect, but through the power of God through Christ, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, our worship can and is made valid and worthy of Jehovah! So brother, sister, so not stop worshipping because our worship is imperfect and our methods broken, worship all the more vehemently and authentically to God for he is glorified by it, and dwells within it! And through it we can be made more whole! AMEN!

 

 

The Best Way to Worship

I started ministry in the Youth Ministry area. Most of you that read my blog know this and have followed my journey through that. During that time I also dabbled in leading worship and exploring that as well. I have discovered the best way to worship, want to know the secret? The best way to worship, the best style of worship is: FROM THE HEART!

In the past week I have been encouraged by stories of when I was either leading worship or just messing around with worship songs in a living room that changed someones life. The first is a story my father-in-law Steve Stinnette shared with me. A few years back Amy and I went to NC and VA for Christmas. While there, Steve and I pulled out our guitars (he had an awesome 12-string Martin, and I a lowly 6 string Ibanez Electric). Anyway, we were just playing worship songs and singing. I think all those present in the house had gathered to hear us play and sing. I was really just having fun playing with my father-in-law and worshiping away on the couch. Well little did I know that Amy’s cousin’s life would change. According to Steve, that morning God began to work in her life and she changed her life-style and began to go back to Church and to actively seek God in her life. Steve and I weren’t trying to change her life, we were just being followers and worshipers of Christ an a truly authentic way, FROM THE HEART!

The second story happened more recently. This past November I was invited to lead worship for a HS camp in Auburn,WA. Personally I was really excited because I was going to be able to do Youth and Worship Ministry at the same time, and it was my first camp leading experience. I spent a lot of time picking out song, sending song and set lists to the youth pastor and trying to make everything fit together. I did a lot of planning, hoping that God would use my and my guitar to lead these students in a truly authentic experience. Well God did use me, students worshiped and connected to God. That’s not the point of the story though. The last day, we had just finished communion and I wanted to finish communion with the song “Wonderful Maker” by Matt Redman. I almost always comment on the line from the song that says “With the heart of a Father.” The reason is because with the state of the world, it is more than likely that someone in the crowd has had a crappy father. Well I shared this, and then lead the song, and prayed about God being our savior, creator and perfect father. Later I found out a girl whose father was not very good to her and her family, and had ended his time as a father in the most terrible way was deeply moved by that song. I was just reminded again today that, that song changed her perspective on God and what a true father should be. All because I worshiped FROM THE HEART!

Style doesn’t matter, song choice although important isn’t the most important, lead worship FROM THE HEART, and worship FROM THE HEART, and God will work in and through you as a worship leader!

Breaking the Silence

So some of you may have heard, and others will be finding out now. This past week I was ‘relieved of my duties as Youth Pastor’ at MVAC. I know that some people I have told are upset, or angry that this happened. Some people are hurt, and confused. Ironically, I do not fit into either of these. I am perfectly content with what has happened. In all honesty I agree with the decision. When Dave told me I didn’t agree with it, but I wasn’t crushed by it either. As I took time to process, as is my custom, I realized that it was the right and best decision not only for MVAC but for myself as well. I think I had felt ‘out of place’ as the YP of MVAC for a few months. The problem is I didn’t want to quit because I didn’t know what I was going to do. I didn’t trust God with taking care of me basically.

Why was it the right decision? I’m not the best fit! I might not be a good fit anywhere in youth ministry right now, I’m ok with that, I really don’t know what I am going to do next, which is kind of exciting, God knows and will help me get there I have no doubt. I do currently have a part-time job at Caffe Ladro in Issaquah, which I have enjoyed very much since I started it . . . this past monday!

I know a lot of people will want to ‘take sides’ on something like this, saying Dave was right, or Matt didn’t deserve this and Dave was wrong. But that shouldn’t be the case. In my mind, Dave and I are on the same team, more so now than before. Don’t feel any anger toward Dave or MVAC because of this situation. I’m not sure why people seem to be getting upset over this issue, it happened for one reason only, IT IS GOD’S WILL! If God’s will was for me to stay, well then I’d still be on staff. God has something different in store for Amy and I. I personally hope it is in this area. I told Dave the day he informed me of the decision that I feel called to MVAC still (not in those words exactly, but the meaning was there) and I stand by it, the only difference, and something I realized now is that it is in a volunteer manner. I have been and will hopefully remain involved in the worship team at MVAC, I love this church, the people in it, and those that lead it! It is the most at home I’ve felt at a church since I attended Sun Hills in EDH.

Thank you for your prayer and support, God bless!