Tag: worship

A Prophetic Dream?

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Like you, I’ve had my share of goofy dreams; dreams that made no sense whatsoever. But every so often…

Last night’s dream was odd, but when I awoke it no longer seemed that way. Rather, it seemed to whisper to my heart, “sent by God.”

I dreamed I was leading worship, nothing unusual about that; but in the middle of the “set”, things began to change.

While the music continued, I began to paint. My canvas was the back of an old tambourine, my medium was oils. The picture was of nothing in particular, nothing defined.

I stopped painting, but the music continued for a short season. I took a rag from my pocket, and wiped the canvas clean. The congregation of worshipers gasped, all except one. He was too preoccupied to notice. In fact, he was badgering one of the others; insisting the other person play cards with him.

I opened more paints, stirring, mixing the oil with the pigment. I then applied the paint to the canvas, while others watched.

The picture was undefinable; just paint swirled and smeared on the tambourine’s canvas. Once more, I took my rag and wiped the canvas clean.

Keep On Singing!

20130821-142520.jpgHave you ever wondered why King David was, according to the Lord, “a man after My own heart” (Acts 13:22)?

I’ve heard many opinions throughout the last 38 years. And I’ve agreed with most of them.

Some ideas are: David’s passion for God, his love for worship, warrior mentality, honesty and integrity, he was quick to repent, and fearless.

Though David was all those things, most of the time anyway, there’s one more idea I’d like to add to the list: he kept on singing.

Psalm 69 is a beautiful example. Written by David, performed as a choir, the psalm covers the full gamut of human emotion.

Though deeply troubled, hated without knowing why, and humiliated; David kept on praying, and singing. I love to imagine what it would have been like to hear the choir sing the Psalm at church. Dressed in their choir robes, swaying a bit from side to side in rhythm with the music, they would certainly have brought the house down!

Please read the Psalm in its entirety. Don’t stop short and miss the grand finale. The song just isn’t the same.

And don’t stop singing when life becomes a little rough. Go ahead, sing and pour out your heart to God. But keep at it. Don’t quit too soon and miss the grand finale; the big finish!

Life just wouldn’t be the same.

“For the choir director: A psalm of David, to be sung to the tune “Lilies.”

Save me, O God, for the floodwaters are up to my neck. Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire; I can’t find a foothold. I am in deep water, and the floods overwhelm me. I am exhausted from crying for help; my throat is parched. My eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to help me.

Those who hate me without cause outnumber the hairs on my head.
Many enemies try to destroy me with lies, demanding that I give back what I didn’t steal. O God, you know how foolish I am; my sins cannot be hidden from you.

Don’t let those who trust in you be ashamed because of me, O Sovereign Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Don’t let me cause them to be humiliated, O God of Israel. For I endure insults for your sake; humiliation is written all over my face. Even my own brothers pretend they don’t know me; they treat me like a stranger.

Passion for your house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me. When I weep and fast, they scoff at me. When I dress in burlap to show sorrow, they make fun of me. I am the favorite topic of town gossip, and all the drunks sing about me.

But I keep praying to you, Lord, hoping this time you will show me favor. In your unfailing love, O God, answer my prayer with your sure salvation. Rescue me from the mud; don’t let me sink any deeper! Save me from those who hate me, and pull me from these deep waters. Don’t let the floods overwhelm me, or the deep waters swallow me, or the pit of death devour me.

Answer my prayers, O Lord, for your unfailing love is wonderful. Take care of me, for your mercy is so plentiful. Don’t hide from your servant; answer me quickly, for I am in deep trouble! Come and redeem me; free me from my enemies.

You know of my shame, scorn, and disgrace. You see all that my enemies are doing. Their insults have broken my heart, and I am in despair. If only one person would show some pity; if only one would turn and comfort me. But instead, they give me poison for food; they offer me sour wine for my thirst.

Let the bountiful table set before them become a snare and their prosperity become a trap. Let their eyes go blind so they cannot see, and make their bodies shake continually. Pour out your fury on them; consume them with your burning anger. Let their homes become desolate and their tents be deserted. To the one you have punished, they add insult to injury; they add to the pain of those you have hurt. Pile their sins up high, and don’t let them go free. Erase their names from the Book of Life; don’t let them be counted among the righteous.

I am suffering and in pain. Rescue me, O God, by your saving power.

Then I will praise God’s name with singing, and I will honor him with thanksgiving. For this will please the Lord more than sacrificing cattle, more than presenting a bull with its horns and hooves. The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God’s help be encouraged. For the Lord hears the cries of the needy; he does not despise his imprisoned people.

Praise him, O heaven and earth, the seas and all that move in them. For God will save Jerusalem and rebuild the towns of Judah. His people will live there and settle in their own land. The descendants of those who obey him will inherit the land, and those who love him will live there in safety.” (Psalm 69 NLT)

Remember, KEEP ON SINGING!

Hands To War, Fingers To Fight

20130727-214410.jpg“Praise the Lord , who is my rock. He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle.” (Psalm 144:1 NLT)

“Hands trained for war, fingers skilled for battle”, doesn’t necessarily mean someone trained for fighting in hand to hand combat, or someone skilled in bow and arrow. Not necessarily.

There is a battle ground far greater and even more deadly than any Vietnam or Armageddon. It is the battleground of the spirit realm.

Notice Paul’s reference to it: “We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NLT)

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12 NLT)

Many battles are won or lost in the unseen realm of the spirit. People understand the power of prayer; intercessory, praying in faith, and other types of prayer. Yet many believers do not know the spiritual power released through true worship. Even the simple faith act of prayerfully playing a piano can allow the Holy Spirit to join in the spiritual battle and bring a victory.

David, the kingly psalmist, waged as many successful battles through worship as he did with his sling, sword, or fist. The psalms he wrote describe his battles, won through his connection with God as he worshiped.

“For You are my hiding place; You protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory.” (Psalm 32:7 NLT)

“I called on the Lord , who is worthy of praise, and He saved me from my enemies.” (Psalm 18:3 NLT)

“May the nations praise You, O God. Yes, may all the nations praise You. Then the earth will yield its harvests, and God, our God, will richly bless us. Yes, God will bless us, and people all over the world will fear Him.” (Psalm 67:5-7 NLT)

See what happens when praise is given to God? The spiritual affects the natural.

David said, also, that “God inhabits the praise of His people.” Psalm 22:3

Moses sang a song, declaring his commitment to preparing a “habitation” for God through praise and worship. “The LORD is my strength and song, and He is become my salvation: He is my God, and I will prepare Him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt Him.” (Exodus 15:2 KJV)

Much spiritual power is released through spiritual playing, as well as praying. May God anoint your heart and hands to fulfill His will in this world.

Amen!

IGNITE!

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“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.” (Psalm 133:1-3 ESV)

“…let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29 ESV)

“And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:31 ESV)

“Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence – as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil – to make your name known to your adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at your presence! When you did awesome things that we did not look for, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.” (Isaiah 64:1-4 ESV)

“And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.” (Revelation 5:9-14 ESV)

“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” (1 Corinthians 1:10 ESV)

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:1-6 ESV)

The above scriptures describe the purpose of the upcoming worship and prayer service called “IGNITE!”

People from the Des Moines, Iowa vicinity, as well as those from around the state, are gathering on July 28th, 6pm, to:

Unite as one under the banner of Jesus Christ.

Pray together for the city, state, and each other.

Worship together in spirit and in truth.

Believe God for a mighty breakthrough; the heavenly release of God’s revival spirit.

Declare, with one voice, the Lordship of Jesus Christ over our city and state.

Reconcile, through repentance and obedience to Jesus’ command to love one another, every kindred, tribe, ethnicity, culture and race.

Expect God’s Spirit and Anointing to cover His Body, allowing us the ability to do His good works; minister compassion, comfort the afflicted, heal the sick, preach deliverance to the captives, and witness multitudes receive access to the Kingdom of God!

Please join us for this momentous occasion! Unite with us as we declare, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, in Des Moines, in Iowa, just like it’s done in Heaven!”

Amen!

Service location is the New Life Center, 1057 23rd Street, Des Moines, IA. In the Drake University vicinity.

Musicians and Music

20130629-224623.jpgIt’s been said that musicians are a strange breed of cat. I’ve been inclined to agree. But I’m not sure anymore. I believe everyone has a bit of peculiarity about them. God would call it uniqueness.

However, there is something powerful about music. Maybe it’s the melody, words, rhythm, and harmony all working together that makes it so powerful. Ask any person 50 years or older about a certain bell, a certain tune, they’d hear during the summer and chances are they’d begin telling you about the ice cream truck, or bicycle. And, oh, the power of that little tune was enough to get every kid running to their parents, all yelling the same thing, “Can we, Puh-Leeze?!?”

Musicians and music. In my opinion, you can’t separate the two. They are connected by the heart of the musician. A musician can create a piece of music, write it down so others can play it, all the while never realizing the spirit that embodies the song.

I know, it sounds pretty weird. Let me say it a different way. Whatever is in a person’s heart, or spirit, in abundance, is what will come out; regardless of what they’re doing or what their gift is. For instance: do you know people who complain all the time? Guess what’s in their heart. Actually, you don’t need to guess. They give it away! Know anyone who is kind and encouraging? Out of the abundance of the heart…

There are examples of this phenomenon in the scriptures. David, before he was king, was a singing, worshipping, shepherd boy. He loved God, worshipped God, and stood up for God’s Name regardless of the circumstance. His heart was full of love for God. So, when King Saul had emotional and spiritual problems, and probably felt like he was losing his mind, someone suggested to him that he get David to come and play music for him. David came and brought the Presence of God with him, soothing Saul’s soul.

Another time, King Jehoshaphat was preparing to join forces with King Ahab, but hesitated until he could hear from Elisha, the prophet. Elisha said, “Bring me a minstrel (or musician).” As the musician began to play, the hand of the Lord came upon Elisha. The musician helped usher in the Presence of God,and mighty things were accomplished.

Lucifer himself used to be the chief musician in Heaven (Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28). Music and a holy anointing flowed out of him; until the day iniquity was found in him. Until the day he was consumed with himself; his importance, his gifts, his power. But even though a holy anointing ceased to flow out of him, still, music and an unholy anointing flows from his heart. Out of the abundance of his heart his mouth speaks, sings, worships (himself), plans, etc. Same way with God and mankind, who were created in His image.

Everything flows from the heart!

Ministering, serving others, flows from the heart. Giving to the widows and orphans flows from the heart. The power to resist temptation flows from the heart.

Everything flows from the heart!

There’s coming a day when the children of God will learn this truth. They will come to know that, regardless of the situation they may be in, they can bring Godly influence and His Heavenly Presence into their midst. It’s not a matter of praying long prayers, fasting 200 days, or even saying so many “amens”, “oh me’s”, or “hail Mary’s”. It’s allowing the heart to do what it longs to do most – love and worship God! It was created to yield to God, to allow God access to all He’s placed inside each of us. The creation yielding to its Creator – now that’s beautiful music!

Whatever is good, lovely, pure, kind, fruit of the spirit (the human spirit); let those things be in you in abundance and they will flow from you. “Out of your inner most being will flow rivers of Living Water.” Because the River is in you, it can flow out of you.

Everything flows out of the heart!

“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ’Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38 ESV)

“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45 ESV)

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23 ESV)

Musicians – do you want to make a positive difference in your world? It’s not about building a platform, putting a band together, recording and distributing your songs, or making a name for yourself. Do you remember the name of the minstrel who played for Elisha? No? That’s because his name wasn’t recorded. Only One Name is important. And amazing things happen because of that Name.

The main thing is being the person God can anoint and flow through to touch others. After all, something is going to flow out of your heart. Let it be something God can partner with.

Everything flows from the heart!

Worship Amidst Trials

20130403-195638.jpg“After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.”(Genesis 22:1-5 ESV)

Whenever the Lord initiates a test, there’s always much more going on than meets the natural eye. But even knowing that doesn’t make those times any easier.

Abraham was asked to do the unthinkable. Forget, for just a moment, that the test involved killing his own son. Instead, think of it as God telling Abraham to kill a promise, a dream; the future God had given him. Does that make it any easier to wrap your brain around? 

See how Abraham embraced this test. When given the instructions to go and kill the dream Abraham called it “worship”. Interesting? Sacrificing a God-given dream, an almost mature dream at that. A dream “old enough to carry the wood for its own altar.” Giving it up on the altar of obedience simply because he was instructed to. Worship.

Do you have any God-given dreams? Are the dreams the object of your worship, or can you worship God with your dreams? This is the fine line between true worship and idolatry. If you can kill your dream, you can worship. if you can’t…

But remember, God is able to raise dead dreams from the grave!

Prayer – Lord, may nothing in my life be so sacred, so precious, it cannot be offered to You in worship. Help me live a life of obedience to Your will, trusting, if need be, Your ability to raise a dead dream to new life. In Jesus’ Name.

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Worship Is Not A Magic Lamp

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Part 3 of “An Open Letter To Worship Teams”

“Do we sometimes treat worship like a modern day Aladdin’s Lamp?”

There’s a word, a thought, I’d like to share with everyone, especially every believer.

But particularly with anyone who is part of a worship team.

The thought is this: God is not trying to hide from you. He hasn’t locked Himself away from you, expecting you to figure out the lock combination before He’ll “step out into the open.” He does not expect our times of worship to be a production, dance steps, or an equation of so many fast and slow songs. None of those things will automatically produce the Presence of God.

God will not be manipulated. He will, however, respond to simple, from the heart, worship. In fact, Psalm 22:3 says God is enthroned, or seated comfortably, on the praises of His people.

Please read the following verses. See if you can sense God’s desire to fellowship with His people.

Gen 2:7
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Ex 25:21-22
You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you. And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.

Ex 40:33-35
So Moses finished the work. Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.

2 Chron 5:13-14
indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the Lord, saying: “For He is good, For His mercy endures forever,” that the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.

Ps 84:1-2
How lovely is Your tabernacle, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, even faints For the courts of the Lord; My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Rev 21:3
And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.
[all scriptures NKJV]

God never intended for us to treat worship like Aladdin treated his lamp.

The truth is – GOD is the One Who has been chasing man for the past 6,000 years.

He’s the One Who created man, filled him with His heavenly breath, and fellowshipped with him throughout the day. God’s the One Who told Moses to build the Tabernacle; a place where God and man could fellowship through the offering of an animal’s blood.

God is the One Who filled the Tabernacle with His Presence, much like He filled Adam’s lungs with His breath.

Later on, King Solomon built the Temple and sanctified all the instruments, singers, musicians and priests; dedicating them to the Lord. As soon as everything was prepared, God, once again, filled the place with His breath, His Spirit.

And, it is God Who has planned to tabernacle, dwell, fellowship, with man forever and ever. It is God’s Son Who offered His blood so we could have eternal fellowship with Him.

Who needs a lamp and a genie?

But don’t expect every “worship experience” to be the same. Sometimes, when the Lord steps into our room, it is simply to receive our worship and fellowship with us. He doesn’t make a huge entrance; but those who were expecting Him, are waiting for Him. “Seeing” Him walk in, they usher Him to His favorite chair. From His place of enthronement, He communes with His family. He and His kids, enjoying each other’s company.

Other times His appearance may be so subtle, one doesn’t even know He’s in the room. People all around, talking, laughing, enjoying each other’s presence. He sits quietly, listening to our conversations, ready to join in. But only when asked. Though He is jealous, He isn’t rude. He loves us so much, yet He will not force Himself upon us or into our world.

Every so often He’ll step into our world like He stepped into Abraham’s. In the heat of the day (Gen. 19) God came calling. Abraham recognized Him and asked Him to stay a while so he could serve Him properly. So Abraham worshipped God by feeding Him. THEN, the actual purpose of the visit became clear. Worship led to intercession, with God drawing Abraham into His plans and purposes for the deliverance of Lot and family.

And then there are moments…yes, those times when His Presence in the room is much larger than the room itself! As He steps into the doorway, everything within us wants to fall prostrate before Him. Our shouts of joy are silenced by His eternal awe and beauty. Songs become mere melodies in the presence of His Glory. Even our breath responds to His Presence, becoming so “thick” we cannot speak, as He adds His breath to ours. The Eternal God, fellowshipping, communing, with man.

He rejoices with us! He sings and shouts with us! “The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zeph 3:17

He DESIRES to be with us. Whether we’re doing well, hurting, mad or happy. He desires to be in our presence; it’s been that way since the foundation of the world.

So, throw away any magic lamps, special charms, or anything else you feel you need to “conjure” up God’s Presence. You don’t have to talk Him into coming!

Simply worship Him.

An Open Letter To Worship Teams (part 2)

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“Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass that the children of Israel asked the Lord, saying, “Who shall be first to go up for us against the Canaanites to fight against them?” And the Lord said, “Judah shall go up. Indeed I have delivered the land into his hand.” So Judah said to Simeon his brother, “Come up with me to my allotted territory, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I will likewise go with you to your allotted territory.” And Simeon went with him. Then Judah went up, and the Lord delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand; and they killed ten thousand men at Bezek. “Judges 1:1-4 NKJV

In the above passage of scripture, Judah was told to lead the battle against the Canaanites and the Perizzites. Most people understand the name, “Judah”, means “praise”. That’s one reason the idea of “praise” marching against the enemy is taught. But some people read this passage and believe God always sends His worship team into battle first. God has done such things a few times, but “few” doesn’t equal always.

The words Canaanite and Perizzite have meaning as well. Canaanite is “to humiliate” or “vanquish”. Perizzite means “open” or “unwalled”. In other words, “praise” was to go up against a formidable foe that had the reputation of humiliating and vanquishing all of their enemies. And if that wasn’t enough, the other half of the enemy combatants were so powerful they needed no walls of protection for their cities. They could defend their territory without anything but their ability to fight.

Worship can be, and is at times, used by the Lord to rout an enemy from a situation, a people group, a city, etc. An example can be seen in 2 Chronicles 20, in the story of King Jehoshaphat.

But for worship and praise to have Heaven’s Anointing upon it, it must have God’s Word, God’s direction, behind it.

If you are part of a worship team, you are in a critical, front line ministry. Notice I said worship team. I’m not talking about a group of singers and musicians who perform for their congregation during the “worship” part of a church service. I’m referring to a group of singers and musicians who, along with their leader, actually have their heart fixed on worshipping God, whether there’s music or not, whether the song is fast or slow. They worship God. And others follow their lead, right into Heaven’s Throne Room.

As I said, leading worship and ministering on a worship team is front line ministry. Worship, coupled with intercession (the two go hand in hand), has the ability to connect Heaven and Earth. God moves through the conduit of worship and touches those in need, those who are bound by afflictions or addictions, and brings deliverance. But one of the things a worship team must understand is, the Lord doesn’t necessarily use a packaged or planned worship set like we’d believe; for there’s nothing magical, or spiritual, about an arrangement of songs.

I keep track of worship “sets” I use. I do that for three reasons. One, in case someone would ask about a certain song used on a particular day or service. Two, to file a report with CCLI regarding song usage. And three, for my own reference in planning future worship times. These “sets” have been blessed by God, at times, to “bring Heaven down”. People have received from the Lord marvelously as our worship team sang and played the worship set.

However what worked before doesn’t guarantee future victories. Repeating a worship set doesn’t mean the automatic rerun of a previous “gully washer.”

Judah had an idea. I believe it was an idea we as worshippers need to adapt. Judah (praise) said to brother Simeon, “will you please help me?” Simeon means “hearing”. The picture behind the word isn’t just the physical act of hearing. It means “to hear with the intent of obeying”.

So “praise” said to “hearing, with the intent of obeying”, “please help me defeat these enemies who have the ability and the reputation of defeating all who rise against them.” “Hearing” agreed, and TOGETHER they cleared their land of the enemy.

When we as worship team members and leaders stand in front of a congregation, singing songs should be one of the last things we’re concerned with. Singing praises alone doesn’t automatically open windows for victory. We must keep our heart and mind sensitive to God’s voice, and to the leader’s heart (and the pastor’s).

When we unite praise and obedience to God’s voice we will see God’s Kingdom come and His will done in our world.

When I “plan” the songs for worship, I try and sense the Lord’s desire for the gathering. I’ll pick the songs, the keys, arrange the order, and submit the finished set to the pastor or sound personnel. But the songs aren’t set in stone. We may do some, all, or none of them.

What we will do, with the Spirit’s help, is join Judah and Simeon together – praising, listening, and obeying God.

THAT is when the enemy is routed and people are set free. THAT is when Heaven touches Earth. THAT is when Jesus is glorified!

It’s great to prepare worship sets. It’s great to practice vocal parts, instrumentals, tags, etc. It’s important to rehearse and “perform” the best we can.

But when it’s time to worship, don’t forget to listen to the Chief Musician’s heart. He just may have something other than singing planned.

There may be a Canaanite or Perrizite to drive out.

An Open Letter To Worship Teams (part 1)

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Long before Creation, as described in Genesis 1, and long before Adam yielded his position and authority to the Serpent, something was happening in the heavens, and in Heaven itself.

Worship!

All the host of heaven worshipped the One Who sits on the Throne; Who was, and is, and is to come, The Almighty.

Their “worship leader” was known as a highly gifted angel named Lucifer. The prophet Isaiah would later describe him as a “bright star of the morning”, but also someone who wasn’t content with his heavenly role. Ezekiel described Lucifer as “the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and beauty. Every precious stone was his covering; he was perfect in every aspect.” He was known for his music, and his place of ministry was in the very Throne room of God.

His was a glorious position, and if coveting was allowed in Heaven, his was a coveted position. But he didn’t see it as such. No, he somehow became enamored with his gifts, his anointing, his position. He saw himself more important than he really was. He began to entertain a thought, a thought that would eventually affect all aspects of heaven and earth. The thought? “I can do what God does, only better! Why should God get all the glory? I’M THE anointed one, the beautiful one, the gifted one! I should be receiving all the glory and honor. I SHOULD BE WORSHIPPED! I WILL BE WORSHIPPED!”

Well, we all know how that worked out.

Although Lucifer was cast out of heaven, and renamed satan or devil (adversary), he has not lost the desire to be worshipped. And though he is no longer the “anointed cherub that covers”, there is still a special connection with music and spiritual things.

Music is, in my opinion, the most powerful force in the universe. God’s love is powerful as well, but music can be a “carrier” of that love, or, it can be a carrier of hatred, lust, perversion, peace…fill in the blank. People can have their head and heart turned TOWARD God through music, or turned AWAY from God. It is such a powerful tool.

Music “creates an atmosphere”, setting the stage for what will follow. Whether at a ball park, in a tavern, at a rock concert, or even in a church, music, specifically the spirit behind the music, opens the door for the unseen realm.

I’ll discuss some specific points later, but suffice it to say the spirit in which worship is presented in our churches does have an affect on what ensues. A worship team who’s focus is perfection and performance will carry that spirit into the “worship” time. A team who knows they’re good and relishes the praise of the congregation will release that spirit as well.

But a team who’s heart is focused on worshipping God becomes a door in which the Spirit of God can “enter” through. All He is and all He can and wants to do becomes “near” as the team leads in true worship. Sure, people in the congregation choose to respond or not to the “atmosphere”. So do people in taverns. But a team has only one primary responsibility…

Worship God!

God alone is to be worshipped! He alone is to be praised! We are people gifted and anointed by Him to help establish Heaven’s “atmosphere” here on earth. It’s not about us. It’s not about how good we sound, but how our hearts are in tune with Him.

Lucifer really wants to be worshipped. He will even temporarily settle for some “backhanded” worship. The kind he enjoys when God’s people become enamored with the gifts and callings of the worship team, rather than having their focus on the Almighty.

The Worship Leader

Worship

I felt prompted to share some thoughts regarding the ministry of the worship leader. Almost every Christian church has one, though they have varying titles. Some are called Song Leaders, while others could be referred to as Worship Pastors, Music and Arts Pastors, Psalmist, or maybe one I haven’t heard of. I’ll use the term “worship leader” though, for the purpose of this blog.

I’ve been a Christian for 37 years. I’ve been a worship leader for about 30 years. I’ve led songs for 37 years. What? Why the difference in years? Because leading songs and leading worship are two different things, the same way singing and worshiping are two different things.

Remember when King David brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem? It took him two tries before he was able to “secure” the Presence of God. The first attempt (read 2 Samuel 6) was very festive to begin with, but resulted in fatality. They attempted to carry the Presence of God using the latest vehicles, gadgets, most people in the choir, service scheduled to the minute second, everyone wearing the best robes Israel had ever seen, and the instruments were second to none. But even with all they had going for them, they didn’t follow God’s instructions. They didn’t find out what He wanted. They presumed to know, presumed to believe that God would “show up” just because they did. Wrong.

Dead wrong.

David was a man after God’s own heart, according to Acts 13:22. He desired to not only sing to the Lord, or about the Lord, but he desired to worship the Lord. To me, the difference between singing and worship is this: singing to or about God is simply using my physical and mental faculties to express something. Worship comes from my heart, the deepest part of my being. I may use my mind and thoughts to help express what my heart wants to say, but worship comes from the heart.

Remember that Jesus said, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”? He also said, “God is Spirit. They who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.” Again, Paul wrote in Romans, “if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” In other words, a person cannot worship with only their mind and voice, just like one can’t become a Christian because they repeat the “sinners” prayer. It’s a matter of the heart.

Worship is a matter of the heart.

David took a little time and rethought the matter. Somehow it dawned on him that God must have some thought on the subject. David discovered he had been wrong. So he assembled the procession again. This time he would lead the worship procession in spirit and truth. His whole being, spirit, mind, and body, became involved in “leading worship”; making a place of honor for the Lord. The priests, the “worship team” if you will, accepted the responsibility for carrying the Ark of the Covenant. David was in front of the procession worshiping with all his might. Not everyone liked what David was doing, but God did. David led worship by worshiping.

Remember, worship is a matter of the heart.

I’ve listened to and seen a lot of different worship leaders over the last 37 years. God used several to show me and teach me how to worship and lead others in worship. I’m not saying I’ve learned it all, not by any means. I just know what I know. And, I’ve heard some say that leading worship has changed, and it’s totally different than it used to be. I disagree. Leading worship has not changed. Leading songs, has. Songs have changed, instruments have changed, all the outward stuff is different, more hi-tech, etc.

But worship is a matter of the heart.

It was that way when Abraham walked up the mountainside with Isaac to “go and worship”(Gen.22). It was a matter of the heart when David sat on the hillside, watching over his sheep, singing, “the Lord is my Light, and my Salvation…”

Worship has ALWAYS been a matter of the heart.

So, if you are going to be a worship leader, take a tip or two from David. HE worshiped, He led as HE worshiped. You cannot drive people to worship. You can’t beat them into worship. Worship isn’t submission to the worship leader, it’s submission to GOD. You can’t pick just the right songs to get people to move a certain way, because worship can’t be coerced or manipulated.

As David did, you have to worship if you are going to lead worship. Even if the guitar is out of tune, the projector burns out, the microphone is crackling, you have to worship.
Worship is a matter of the heart, not the sound system. If necessary, throw away the stuff so you can worship!

If you are the only one worshiping, great! Don’t stop and scold the congregation! Be kind of like the doorman in a fancy restaurant. Every time he opens the door for a customer, the fragrant aroma of the restaurant invades the parking lot. So, as a worship leader, worship; hold the door open and allow the fragrance of God draw the whole congregation in.

When you minister out of your heart, a heart full of worship to your God, it will affect others. Because…

Worship is a matter of the heart.