Tag: worship

A Matter Of The Heart

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I’d like 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 as he led worship. 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 to 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.

Questions: are you a worship leader or team member? Do you ever get distracted with the business of leading worship? What do you do to refocus?

Times Of Refreshing

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“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before” Acts 3:19-20 NKJV

“Repent” isn’t a real popular word. I have found it’s a word that is more blessed to give than receive. Know what I mean?

Peter said, “Repent therefore…” Why the word “therefore”?

“But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore…” Acts 3:18 ESV

Why repent? Why should we, everyone, change our mind about our lifestyle, our worldview, our beliefs, and who’s going to be the Lord of our life? Because all that God prophesied about the salvation he was bringing to man was fulfilled in and through his son, Jesus Christ.

The only thing keeping you and I from a drastic and complete change is us.

Our mother isn’t keeping us from God’s work in our life. Our father can’t stop God from working. Not having a father is no excuse for us not experiencing the wonderful, holy presence of the Lord.

Neither our social status or our Facebook status can keep God’s presence from flooding our life with his power and goodness.

Refreshment and revival have been given a set time by the Lord. A set time is a sure thing. It can be counted on to happen. One does not have to guess, and no one needs to ask a prophet, when God’s refreshing times are to come.

No, I’m not saying God can be manipulated into giving us an exciting and refreshing church service.

I’m not trying to deceive you into believing that all anyone needs to do to have a powerful service is simply declare it, advertise it, hire a nationally known charismatic preacher to draw the crowd and, POOF, it happens! No!

Even the best music played by the best musicians won’t guarantee a thing.

So how can I say refreshment and revival are a sure thing? How can I declare to know the set time for revival?

Refreshment and revival take place when we quit trying to run our lives, and God’s kingdom. In other words, when we repent.

Repent because there’s nothing left to do. Repent because God has done everything else through his son, Jesus Christ.

Repent. Change our mind, change our beliefs, change our world view, change our friends if necessary; but repent.

And times, set times, sure, certain times will come from the presence of the Lord. And when God shows up in person, everything changes.

This Sunday Evening, April 27th, we are setting aside time to search our hearts, pray and praise, and allow the presence of the Lord to work like only he can.

There are a number of things each of us could do instead of gather at church. Sure. But only very few things are more important.

Gathering to praise and worship the living God is one way of showing a “change of mind”, or revealing a repentant and contrite heart.

Which, may I remind you, is something God is wild about.

“For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” Isa 57:15 NKJV

So we’re going to gather, and each of you are invited as well.

Invited to repent, therefore and be changed; when the Lord sends times of refreshing from his presence.

The Place – New Life Center
Address – 1031 23rd Street
Des Moines, IA
Date/Time- April 27, 2014/6 p.m.

For more info call – 515-494-8833

O Worship The King!

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“Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering yourself with light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a tent.” (Psalm 104:1-2 ESV)

Let your soul bless the Lord! And may this song, written by Robert Grant several hundred years ago, refresh your heart TODAY.

O worship the King, all glorious above,
O gratefully sing His power and His love;
Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days,
Pavilioned in splendor, and girded with praise.

O tell of His might, O sing of His grace,
Whose robe is the light, whose canopy space,
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
And dark is His path on the wings of the storm.

The earth with its store of wonders untold,
Almighty, Thy power hath founded of old;
Established it fast by a changeless decree,
And round it hath cast, like a mantle, the sea.

Thy bountiful care, what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light;
It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.

Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
In Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail;
Thy mercies how tender, how firm to the end,
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend.

O measureless might! Ineffable love!
While angels delight to worship Thee above,
The humbler creation, though feeble their lays,
With true adoration shall all sing Thy praise.

“The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”
(Lamentations 3:25-26 ESV)

3 Big Questions

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This post is very short; probably my shortest. It consists of 3 questions and a passage of scripture from Psalm 24.

The questions:

1. Is true praise and worship limited only to people whose hands and hearts are clean, who do not worship idols and never tell lies?

2. If not, why does David write, “Such people may seek you and worship in your presence”?

3. What does the psalmist mean with his questions, “who may climb” and “who may stand”?

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. For he laid the earth’s foundation on the seas and built it on the ocean depths.

“Who may climb the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. They will receive the Lord’s blessing and have a right relationship with God their savior. Such people may seek you
and worship in your presence, O God of Jacob.” (Psalm 24:1-6 NLT)

Please leave your comments in the space below. Thanks for helping me with this post.

Songs To Escape By

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“You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.” (Psalm 32:7 NASB)

The psalmist sang this declaration to the Lord after realizing how blessed he was to be free from the guilt, shame, and penalty of his transgressions.

Praise and worship doesn’t require anything more than a thankful, grateful heart. It is simply about touching the Father’s heart; and Father touching ours. And God is pleased when we sing just because we’re grateful.

When God’s happy, his people get happy. What makes God happy enough to join us in our gathering?

Gratefulness. Thankfulness.

That’s reason enough to sing, don’t you agree? It sure works for me.

So I sing to the Lord, “You are my hiding place. You preserve me from trouble. You have surrounded me with ‘songs to escape by'”.

Did you notice that last line? ‘Songs of deliverance’ also means ‘songs to escape by’.

How does God give us, surround us with, songs to escape by?

Think of it sort of as “words to live by”, only it’s singing while fleeing. Singing while escaping. Now maybe it’s becoming clear.

Escape from what? Well, there are snares belonging to the “trapper”; our adversary. There are also secret sins (or areas in our life we can’t see). There are evil men and women planning our demise…

And there’s the marvelous escape from the guilt, shame, and penalty of sin! Hallelujah!

The point is, to the grateful, the thankful, God gives special songs. Songs to sing when escaping captivity, escaping the trapper’s snare, and escaping from the plots and schemes of evil men and women.

The songs?

Praise and worship! Songs to escape by.

I’m sure you know that some songs carry an “anointing” to make you sad, glad, and bad. But God has songs to help you escape! Oh, happy day!

Come on! Pick up your hymnal, the book of psalms, and let it out!

Go ahead. Sing! God doesn’t care if a braying mule has a better voice than yours.

SING! SING! SING!

And flee like a bird escaping from the trapper’s snare; the fowler’s feast.

“Blessed be the LORD, Who has not given us as prey to their teeth. Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 124:6-8 NKJV)

Which Fountain Are You Drinking From?

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Do you ever say, “I don’t feel like praising or worshipping God”? Does it sometimes seem like God hasn’t been truthful with you, or has let you down? Do you ever feel like he’s abandoned you?

If so, maybe you need to drink from a different fountain.

What do I mean?

All around us are “fountains”; reservoirs of happiness, entertainment, gratification, and pleasure. And they help get our mind off the problems we face, at least for a while. But they are only temporary, at best. At worst, they will leave us completely, hopelessly, lost.

But they’re readily available and give us pleasure; so we drink.

How does one “drink”? By the words we speak, and our corresponding actions.

What if you decided to drink from a different fountain?

Isaiah received a word from God regarding the remnant of Jews who were still faithful to God, in spite of their captivity. The prophet told the remnant that God promised to do whatever it took to get them released from Assyria, and back in their homeland. Then Isaiah told them, as a result of God’s actions, they would sing; they would drink deeply from the fountain of salvation.

In that day you will sing: “I will praise you, O Lord! You were angry with me, but not any more. Now you comfort me. See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. The Lord GOD is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.”

With joy you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation!

In that wonderful day you will sing: “Thank the Lord! Praise his name! Tell the nations what he has done. Let them know how mighty he is! Sing to the Lord , for he has done wonderful things. Make known his praise around the world. Let all the people of Jerusalem shout his praise with joy! For great is the Holy One of Israel who lives among you.” (Isaiah 12:1-6 NLT)

Proverbs says, “A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is.” (Proverbs 15:23 NKJV)

Drinking from the “fountain of salvation” is accomplished using the same process one would use to drink from the “world’s” fountain. By the words we speak (or sing), and our corresponding actions.

The next time you feel like God has abandoned you, take a tip from Isaiah. Remember what God DID to set you free and bring you into his kingdom. Begin to remind yourself, out loud! Joy is the strength you need, and it will rise up within you as you make yourself praise and thank God!

“Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name.” (Hebrews 13:15 NLT)

It’s called a “sacrifice” for a reason.

God In The Midst

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Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which represent the sevenfold Spirit of God that is sent out into every part of the earth. He stepped forward and took the scroll from the right hand of the one sitting on the throne. And when he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.

And they sang a new song with these words: “You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth.”

Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders. And they sang in a mighty chorus: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered – to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.” And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang: “Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.” And the four living beings said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped the Lamb. (Revelation 5:6-14 NLT)

They sang a new song…” “They” who? Who sang a new song? The four living beings and the twenty-four elders. They each played a harp as they carried the prayers of God’s people in their gold bowls.

Here is an example of Spirit-led worship. As a musician, I am amazed when 3 people can play and pray together WITHOUT a rehearsal! And for 28 to gather and sing a NEW song WITHOUT A REHEARSAL, is nothing short of a miracle.

What makes the difference? God is in their midst, and they’re in His Presence.

Ready to Worship

What does it take to get you ready to worship? Is it even possible? Does someone need to wind you up like a toy car, or beat you with a “worship whip” until you’re all bruised and sore – before you decide to let your heart, soul, and body express its need and desire for God?

I just heard a song, “O the Blood” by Thomas and Mary Beth Miller, sung by Kari Jobe, for the first time.

It’s been out and about for a few years, and I don’t know how I missed hearing it; but it’s very hard to keep up with the latest stuff. In fact, I don’t even try any more.

A lot of the new stuff leaves me a bit disappointed. I realize that’s my opinion, and maybe it’s because of my age. Oh, I like most of the instrumentation. I still like to “rock out” at times. Ram and Jam! But the lyrics sometimes seem too “me” oriented; so fluffy and trite. It’s like the song was written for commercial use, rather than an intimate meeting with the Lover of our Soul.

But this song grabbed my heart!

O, the Blood of Jesus washes me! My heart resonates with those words. Listening to it reminded me of tuning a guitar; playing two strings and matching the notes until there is no extra vibration. When only one note is finally heard, the strings are perfectly tuned. This is how the song affected me; its “frequency” matched my heart’s frequency, and worship began to flow out of me to my Savior, my God. Wow!

There are so many reasons to worship God, and so many songs to sing. Eternity won’t be long enough for us to express to our Savior the worship He is due.

And there’s no way 30 minutes of worship a week will satisfy the Lord, or our heart.

Scripture says to be ready in season and out. Be ready for what? Well, it says be ready to “to preach the Word.”

But there’s something else we should be ready to do, in season and out.

Worship. Ready to worship! Let our hearts cry out to God in worship, love, and faith.

“Let the godly sing for joy to the Lord; it is fitting for the pure to praise him.” Psalms 33:1 (NLT)

My Heart and Flesh

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“How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.” (Psalm 84:1-2 ESV)

What an amazing thought! The psalmist says, “my heart and my flesh sing for joy…”; describing a person who is wholly committed to worshipping God.

Jesus said to Peter, “the heart is willing but the flesh is weak.” Which means sometimes you don’t always do what you should. The want to is there, but the follow through is lacking.

However, worship which is from the heart will cause one’s flesh to express the love and gratitude of the heart! The heart sings with joy, and the flesh yields to join in the celebration.

A life of true, holy worship will help one tame their flesh; it will become trained to worship and to obey the One it worships.

The life of a worshipper is a life which affects those around them.

“What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord, who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings. They will continue to grow stronger, and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.” (Psalm 84:5-7 NLT)

The worshipper, because of God’s tangible Presence on their life (out of their heart flows rivers of living water), transform valleys of weeping into refreshing springs! Weeping yields to joy! Sorrow turns into gladness!

Worship changes the heart; and a heart changed by God’s Presence conquers flesh.

Gaze upon the Lord’s loveliness and tender mercies. Set your heart on His demonstrated love, and it will soar at the very mention of His Name!

You will say with the psalmist, “my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God!”

The Same Page

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What if our “worship services” were actually what they were advertised to be? What if God enjoyed them as much as we did? Is it possible? Does God even attend church anymore? If He does, how do we go about inviting Him, or making Him feel welcome should He walk into our sanctuary?

Now I can’t speak for every church, or even every person in my home church; but there is one way I know of that can “encourage” God to manifest His Presence and work His work.

As a worship leader, I understand how important it is for every musician, every singer, and every sound and video tech to be on the same page. And in order to make certain everyone is where they’re supposed to be, doing what they’re supposed to do, we have times to rehearse; to practice.

As I lead our practices, there are several things I like to cover with the team. Some things are essential, others are on an “if we have time” basis.

First, are all the instruments in tune with each other? If you don’t have unity in sound, you can’t have good harmony! You’ll never improve your team “sound”, until you are tuned together.

Second, how do we plan on beginning our worship time? Is their a particular word, a certain flow, a heavenly sound to be shared? How does each singer and musician fit in?

Then there are things like key changes, transitions, tempos, solos, and any possible problem parts in a song. We’ll especially practice the beginning and ending of each song, as well as any a cappella parts.

But to me, rehearsal is primarily about ensuring we are on God’s page.

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