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Posted on Oct 1, 2012 in Blog, Culture, Devotional Thoughts, Leadership, repost, Worship, Worship Ministry

Let Justice Roll On Like a River

21 “I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
your assemblies are a stench to me.
22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
23 Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!

25 “Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings
forty years in the wilderness, people of Israel?
26 You have lifted up the shrine of your king,
the pedestal of your idols,
the star of your god—
which you made for yourselves.
27 Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Damascus,”
says the Lord, whose name is God Almighty.

In my last couple of posts I have been going through Amos 5 and drawing out questions that I think it raises for us and our churches today. The first post (Seek the Lord and Live) talked about how what God really wants us to strive for in our worship is Him. The second post (Why Do You Long For the Day of the Lord?), talked about us doing today what we won’t be able to do in eternity. (I also talked about this in a post a while back: What’s Missing from Our Worship?)

Today we come to the part of the passage that many of us are probably familiar with, or we have at least heard mention of. The people of Israel have become greedy with their desires and have stopped living as they should. The things they should be doing, they either don’t do them or they do them for the wrong reasons.

21 “I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
your assemblies are a stench to me.
22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
23 Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.

The people of Israel had their traditions. They knew what time of year it was based on the festivals to come. We do this to a certain extent from October through January. We know what time of year it is based on the holiday we have just celebrated and which one is next.

But, the intentions behind the celebrations have gone from remembering events and times when God Almighty had provided for them and become routine, rote, marginalized and perhaps even monetized.

Though this definitely serves as a reminder for the season we are about to enter in, Thanksgiving, Christmas and what not, it also serves as reminder of what our intention should be each and every day.

How quickly we forget. The Lord God Almighty has provided for us in ways we cannot measure. For the people of Israel He released them from captivity, provided protection and sustenance and eventually a land of their own. For us, He has given us a roof over our heads, food on our table, electricity for our electronic devices, free speech with which we can rejoice or complain without recompense…oh yeah, and he sent His Son to die a cruel death on a cross for our sins.

25 “Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings
forty years in the wilderness, people of Israel?
26 You have lifted up the shrine of your king,
the pedestal of your idols,
the star of your god—
which you made for yourselves.

Therefore, I propose that we begin a revolution.

Not the kind that you are thinking of. Not a revolution against political agendas and financially driven parties. Sure, those have their place. Rather, I propose that we rebel against the status quo of worship. I say we stop being concerned with what other churches are doing, what our friends’ church is doing. We should stop trying to do the things society and the world we live in tell us we should be doing. And instead, return to our first love, the Lord God Almighty.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the society we live in provides us with excellent resources to do what we do the best we can. I also think there is a lot we can learn from other churches and organizations about how we can do this thing called church in the best possible way.

[tweetherder]The problem is, comparison has become the game and conformity the the prize.[/tweetherder]

When what awaits us when we seek the Lord is life. What awaits us when we engage in worship as the pursuit of God and submission to His ways is freedom.

24 But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!

May the ways of the Lord, be what drives us in our pursuit. Otherwise, our offerings are an unacceptable stench, noise that God has no regard for. Let our pursuit of Him open us up to His righteousness and may it flow in us from the spring of life.

Let us do the work of the Lord, believe in the one He sent for us (John 6:29). Instead let us feast on the Bread of Life and drink from the water that will never let us thirst again.

35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

 

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Posted on Jul 9, 2012 in Worship Ministry, Worship Ministry Catalyst

Top 5 Blogs/Forums for Guitarists

Top 5 Blogs/Forums for Guitarists

Okay, even though we know that piano is by far the most holy and spiritual instrument for worship, I know a lot of you play some of the lesser instruments. That’s okay, we’re still here to support you in your endeavor. Maybe one day you will aspire to learn the intricacies of such a holy instrument as the piano, but until then, we want to help you use the gifts you have in the best possible way, for God’s Kindgom! (If you disagree, tell me on our facebook page!)

One huge area of Worship Ministry that has really exploded over the last 10 years or so is the area of guitars in worship. I remember acoustic guitar being a big deal back in the 90’s with all the early vineyard and Maranatha! stuff. But there wasn’t a ton of electric guitar until later. Sure there were pockets of worship that had probably been using guitars in worship for a long time, it wasn’t the main thing until just recently.

I have to say that, even as a piano guy, I’m stoked to see just how far we’ve come in the area of guitar for worship. I do have to say though, that I’m kind of surprised by the lack of content out there – at least in the area of Guitar for worship. There are a few great resources, but there is certainly room out there for a few more blogs and podcasts! (Hint – if you’re know a lot about using guitars in worship Start a blog!!!!)

www.guitarforworship.com – By far the best site with the best content for guitarists who want to use their gifts in worship and for the Kingdom. (Follow on Twitter: http://twitter.com/guitar4worship)

Guitar for Worship is designed to help musicians (specifically guitarists) best utilize their gifts for God’s glory. There’s tone discussions, gear reviews, technique and mindset articles, and quite possibly a few random musings. There will also be dates for worship guitar workshops, which I hold at my church from time to time.

http://www.theworshipcommunity.com/7-tips-for-leading-worship-on-acoustic-guitar/ (Do a site search for guitar and you’ll find a lot of great resources – unfortunately there is not guitar category to help you find the guitar resources.) (Follow on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/theworshipcomm)

http://www.musicademy.com/category/free-worship-resources/guitar-worship/ – They have a lot of great worship resources for a lot of areas of worship, this is the category for their worship guitar stuff! (Follow on Twitter: http://twitter.com/musicademy)

http://www.guitarmann.com/categories/blog (mostly video tutorials for guitarists) (Follow on Twitter: http://twitter.com/guitarmann)

http://www.praiseandworshipforum.com/forum/

 

These are a couple of extras. They’re not geared towards worship, but might prove helpful to you!

http://www.tgpwebzine.com/ (Not specifically for worship, but appears to be very helpful and current)

http://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php? (Also not necessarily for worship, but helpful)

 

Of course, if you know of other guitar for worship blogs, please leave links to them in the comment section!!!

 

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Posted on Jun 7, 2012 in Worship Ministry, Worship Ministry Catalyst

Top 20 Worship Blogs

Top 20 Worship Blogs

One of my goals, is to help equip Worship Leaders and Worship Team members to do their ministry in the best possible way. I wish I knew everything there was to know about Worship Ministry, but unfortunately, I do not. And that’s ok. It’s ok that you don’t know either. But, here are a few people who know worship ministry too, and I think you will benefit from reading their wisdom too!

Worship Matters (http://www.worshipmatters.com/)

The Worship Community which is run by: Fred McKinnon

leadworship.com (not a blog) & Paul Baloche’s Blog.

Chris from Canada (http://www.chrisfromcanada.com/)

Musicademy (http://www.musicademy.com/blog/)

Alastair Vance (http://alastairvance.com/)

Jordan Fowler (http://www.jordanpfowler.com/)

Richkirkpatrick.com & tehillamusic.com & http://worshipmythbusters.com/

I Am An Offering (http://iamanoffering.com/blog/)

Worship Together Blog (http://blog.worshiptogether.com/worshiptogether/)

All about Worship (http://www.allaboutworship.com)

Worship.com (http://worship.com)

Worship Ministry (http://www.worshipministry.com/)

Votive Praise (http://www.votivepraise.com/)

Worship Tools (http://yourworshiptools.com/)

Worship Team Training (http://www.worshipteamtraining.com/)

Ministry Matters (http://www.ministrymatters.com/worship/)

Dan Leverence (http://www.middlebrained.com/)

Jason Sears (www.jasonsears.com)

Should you be on the list? Leave your link in a comment!

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Posted on Oct 11, 2011 in Worship Ministry, Worship Ministry Catalyst

Get the Evangelism Monkey off the back of Worship

He’s a cute little guy. But he sure can cause a lot of problems.

Don’t get me wrong.

Evangelism is what we’re all about.

YES, we want to be relevant. I agree completely!

But….(and you knew it was coming)…..evangelism cannot ride on the back of worship.

We have to stop trying to make worship – evangelism. Worship is worship, evangelism is evangelism. I agree that a worshiping church is attractive to a non-believer. Far more than a non-worshiping church. I also agree that we want to be conscious of evangelism when it comes to worship. But, we as worship leaders, can’t allow evangelism to determine our worship.

We must choose our worship based on what helps our congregation worship, not on what we think will draw in the lost. Let’s be real, we’re not going to do music that they truly like anyway. Most of us don’t play songs from the top 40 in our worship services. Some do, but most don’t.

Two simple things happen when we try to combine the two:

1. Worship is Diluted.

God wants our worship. It’s that simple. When we try to turn evangelism into worship, it becomes less about worshiping God and more about attracting the lost. We want to be focused in our worship. God and God alone.

2. Evangelism is Marginalized.

When we’re trying to do worship and attach evangelism to it, evangelism becomes marginalized. We can’t focus on both. And, honestly, it becomes too easy to say that we as a church are doing evangelism, when in fact, all we are doing is worship.

Again, let me reiterate, Evangelism is what we’re all about. We have to be about reaching the lost. But, if we’re going to do evangelism, let’s do it all the way. Let’s design services and events around that purpose entirely. “Our people won’t go for that” you might say. “Lead them” I say.

When a service is a worship service, let’s worship.

(To hear more on this topic, check out episode 0093 of the podcast.)

Agree? Disagree? Why?

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Posted on Jul 8, 2011 in Creativity, Leadership, Worship Ministry

Put Your Dreams to the Test or at least dream a little

I just finished up another book from Dr. John Maxwell. If you’ve followed me for long, you know I’m a fan of his, and have read and recommended many of his books to you. This book was great on a few different levels so I wanted to take just a minute to share my thoughts with you in case you hadn’t heard about it. (Or in case you had heard about it, but weren’t sure it was for you.)

First, it’s not just a how-to book on achieving your dreams, it is so much more. He doesn’t say this in the book, but it’s really a book about how to lead yourself and the people around you to your dreams.

Second, it does give you some very useful ideas to help you zero in on your dream, figure out if you really believe in it, and to get you on the journey.

Third, he doesn’t tell you to blindly pursue your dream. A lot of times, it seems, people will just tell you to go after your dreams, regardless. Even if the dream isn’t good for you, or the people around you, or if you don’t have the resources of anything else required, they tell you to go for it. He doesn’t do that with this book.

But the real reason I wanted to write this post wasn’t to talk about the book, I wanted to remind us all that we are the “dreamers of dreams”. When it comes to the worship life of the body of Christ we are a part of, we are the ones that have to dream. God has put us in a leadership role for a reason, because He has a dream for the body you are a part of, and He wants to use you to accomplish that dream.

So often, it’s so easy to get into a rut. To just go with what works, and never try new things. To do what we know instead of dreaming up a new way to do what’s always been done. My charge to us is to get out of that rut. Let’s stop spinning plates and start dreaming dreams. Let’s stop this nonsense of keeping things going, and get things moving forward. Let’s stop doing the things that worked a few years ago and find the things that will work a few years from now.

The church has at it’s disposal the greatest source of creativity known to Man – the inspiration of a creator. Let’s allow Him to speak to us and give us the inspiration for what’s coming next.

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Posted on Jun 28, 2011 in Worship, Worship Ministry

Reminder: Why we have a worship ministry – Jesus Christ

Before you read this post, let me warn you, I’m 31. Not that old, but older than some. In my life, I remember a time before computers were really popular. I remember the computers I learned to type on in high school. They were the kind with only orange letters on the screen. No other colors. I remember how cool it to see a screen that was like a TV. I’ve always been intrigued by computers, and their ability to process information. But I remember a time, when they weren’t used for everything. This post is not about wishing that things would go back to a “Simpler” time. Please read on.

I also remember a time when music in church was much different than it is today, at least at most churches. We sang mostly old songs, we called them hymns, although I came to learn later that they weren’t all hymns. The songs we sang, are songs we had sung hundreds of times, my parents – thousands. They had been adopted as worthy by some church or churches somewhere along the line, and were added to they hymnal.

I also remember a time, when we would sing “choruses.” Once in a while in our Sunday evening service, Dad would pull out the over-head projector and we would sing “Choruses” like: “Behold what manner of love the father…” and “Jesus, Name above all names” among a few others.

I remember being at a church that was using a video projector to project the lyrics using powerpoint, white words on a blue background. And I remember one of the older pastors talking about a time before when we sang out of the hymnal instead of reading words off the wall.

I remember lots of changes for worship. In one way, the change is a testament to me. It shows that our worship is truly about Jesus Christ, and not about a form.

In other ways I worry. I’m sure my worries will all be proven wrong. But, maybe by drawing attention to my worries, I can help a few of us keep the focus in the right place.

We have a worship ministry, because we want to worship Jesus Christ, because we want to help others with gifts similar to ours – be able to use their gifts for something greater than self-glorification. We have a worship ministry because we want to be used by God to lead the Body of Christ each and every week to worship our Savior – Jesus Christ. We want to Lift High the Cross of Christ, and proclaim His love. And we have a worship ministry because we want the world to know how we feel about our Savior, and we want them to see how we worship at His feet so that they too can experience the redemption we have experienced.

We don’t have a worship ministry to do the latest & coolest things. Our job is not to find the most popular songs, that every other church is doing and implant them to ours. Sure, most of the songs we do are probably being done by other churches. But that isn’t a good enough reason to use a song.

We don’t have a worship ministry to make ourselves rock stars. We aren’t there to draw attention to ourselves, we are there to point people’s attention to God.

We don’t have a worship ministry to use the coolest and newest technology. There are many ways we have benefited from technology, Lyric projection, Mini-movies, loops, keyboards and keytars… We use technology as a means to an end. Technology is never the end. The use of video, in and of itself, is pointless unless it points somewhere significant.

We don’t have a worship ministry to Evangelize. (Gasp! You might want to listen to the latest podcast if you want to hear more about this.) Worship can be a catalyst for drawing people to Christ, but ultimately, that is not the point. The point is to worship the ever-living God. We humble ourselves, bow at his feet, surrender, give everything over to him as a sacrifice. That’s worship. Every single Believer is responsible to share the Gospel with the people God has put in their life. I’m not saying evangelism can’t happen, or even that it shouldn’t happen during our corporate worship. I’m just saying, that we don’t do worship to reach people. We do worship to worship.

We don’t have a worship ministry to keep traditions or to kill traditions. We don’t have a worship ministry because we want to keep something going. Likewise we don’t have a worship ministry to kill something that we think should have died. Again, those aren’t the point. They are not right or wrong. Worship is the point. If we’re not worshipping, that is wrong. If we are not leading in worship, that is wrong. If the point is to keep/kill a tradition, we’ve gotten off track.

We have a worship ministry because we have been set free, and our only response is to worship. We know we can’t earn the grace that’s been given to us, but we can worship the giver. That’s why. Whatever comes or goes, We worship because the chains of sin and death have been undone, So shall our song of triumph ever be: Praise to the Crucified for victory.

That’s why we have a worship ministry.

Broken people call His name
Helpless children praise the King
Nothing brings Him greater fame
When broken people call His name

Lift high, your chains undone
All rise, exalt the Son
Jesus Christ, the Holy One
We lift our eyes to You

Sinners all exalt the Son
Your ransom paid and freedom won
We will see His Kingdom Come
When sinners all exalt the Son

Steve Fee “Lift High”

Led on their way by this triumphant sign,
The hosts of God in conquering ranks combine.

Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim,
Till all the world adore His sacred Name.

Each newborn servant of the Crucified
Bears on the brow the seal of Him Who died.

Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim,
Till all the world adore His sacred Name.

O Lord, once lifted on the glorious tree,
As Thou hast promised, draw the world to Thee.

Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim,
Till all the world adore His sacred Name.

So shall our song of triumph ever be:
Praise to the Crucified for victory.

Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim,
Till all the world adore His sacred Name.

Words: George W. Kitch­in; mod­i­fied by Mi­chael R. New­bolt in 1916.

Music: Crucifer, Syd­ney H. Ni­chol­son, 1916

(Photo by Marian Trinidad courtesy www.creationswap.com)

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