As Biblical worship is more than music, but is rather a full-life response to God’s revelation, it’s important for any believer – in order to worship God ‘in Spirit & Truth’ – to understand not only who God is, but who we are in relation to Him. That is why I’m sharing this teaching I shared last year at INSIDE OUT.

I once heard Dr. Richard Pratt tell the true story of a young woman who was cheating on her husband, and had left her husband and two children to live with her boyfriend. But soon, things had gone sour with her boyfriend too – he had thrown her out of his place – so alone in a hotel room, despairing the events that had led her to where she now was, she shot herself in the head with a .38 caliber pistol. The note she left on the nightstand simply stated, “Don’t cry for me – I’m not even human anymore.” Ironically, just two floors down in that very hotel was a New Age convention. The gunshot couldn’t even be heard above the din of the crowd, who were all chanting, “I am God! …I am God! …I am God!” Read the rest of this entry »

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For my personal growth and development as a worship leader I’ve been doing a lot of reading these past few months. These books are my personal ‘top picks’: Read the rest of this entry »

This is the last of my machine-gun fire Worship TextFessionals: 3 in 4 days!

Last night was our first ‘normal’ INSIDE OUT meeting of the Fall Semester. INSIDE OUT is the High School youth ministry of St. Simons Community Church. Read the rest of this entry »

Wow. This is proving to be a very busy week.

Monday afternoon my friend Ben called me and asked if I would be willing to lead his team on Tuesday night at Elevate, a local college ministry run by the Gathering Place. Since I love any opportunity to worship and lead worship, I jumped on it.

After breaking a string during sound-check, I restrung my main guitar during our short break, and decided to lead off with my back-up, while the new string ‘settled in’. Read the rest of this entry »

This was a strange Sunday, I admit it. I felt as though I got everything I wanted this past Sunday, except for God showing up and giving us all a glorious Holy Spirit whooping. I had really been hoping to utilize several members of our youth band some Sunday soon, as it had been a while since we’d had a ‘youth Sunday’ at church, and our Inside Out Band has been in ‘top form’ as of late, and I really enjoy the opportunity to lead with them. So, I was really excited when I discovered that a couple of our ‘1st Chair’ Sunday morning musicians would be unavailable that week. It also worked out, since our primary Inside Out Band drummer was unavailable, that I was able to invite Saint Lewis‘s drummer, Jaimie, to sit in with us – I consider him one of my better friends, and since he and I were raised in the same ‘musical era’, our tastes and styles compliment one another quite nicely. That’s just to say: I love playing with him! Read the rest of this entry »

A God worthy of Worship

August 24, 2007

“Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion.”
– Albert Einstein

Hubble pic

(a collection of photographs by the Hubble telescope covering less than 1/2 square inch of night sky)

I realize that quote may be beyond some of you. Try this paraphrase – quite possibly the most brilliant Genius of the last century said, ‘I know science, and every theory or natural law that proves true ultimately points to the inescapable idea that SOMETHING is behind it all.’

Now, I admit it; Einstein was not a Christian – maybe not even a ‘theist’ – but even as a genius he was able to recognize that there MUST be something beyond this amazing universe.

Have you ever thought about awe and beauty? What about a mountain makes us stand in awe – or a beautiful sunset – a newborn baby – or even, for some of the serious geeks among us, a new Myst game (I proudly own my geek-dom, thank you very much)? How many of you have ever stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon and actually felt BIG and, pretty significant in comparison? If you’re like me, you arrogantly marched to the canyon’s edge, and then dropped to your knees to cling to the earth in response. It is beauty on that magnitude that just inspires awe.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sovereign Grace for FREE!

August 22, 2007

Sovereign Grace Ministries has just made ALL of their mp3 downloads available for FREE. Yes, that includes past conferences lessons and the like. Let me directly point you towards Sovereign Grace Ministries various messages on WORSHIP. I could take you months to get though it all.

DOWNLOAD AWAY!

Come on – go ahead! You know you want to.

Here are a few places you can start (by request):
Worship: What really Matters
Creating a Flow in Worship
Why do we Sing?
Becoming a better Songwriter
Principles of Songwriting
Heart attitudes for the Worship Team

I’m sure all of us have been there – if not yet, I trust you will be. You’re a ‘worship leader’, and as a ‘leader’ there is a certain degree of pressure on you to ‘lead by example’ because, face it – people tend not to follow us to where we’ve never been. What does a worship leader do, however, in the face of great personal tragedy (i.e. – the death of a loved one), or maybe not any one huge event, but the overwhelming nature of innumerable personal disappointments that build up to where one questions the goodness of God, not ‘doctrinally’, but in their heart? Read the rest of this entry »

I absolutely love podcasts – it’s an excellent way to access great Bible teaching without having to read continually, or travel extensively to conferences around the country. Here are a few incredible teachings on ‘worship’ that I’ve found very challenging/encouraging over the past few months…

DEDICATION AND DELIGHT (Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill Seattle)

WHY DO WE SING? (Bob Kauflin, ChristChurch UK)

WORSHIP: THE SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES (Mike Plewniak, Cornerstone Church of Knoxville)
this is an excellent resource, an overview of ‘worship’ – though I have a copy on my computer, I can’t currently find it on the web – check back soon, as I’m going to keep looking…and if any of you know the folks over at Cornerstone Church, tell them to put it back up!

CHRIST, OUR ACCESS (Mark Mullery, Sovereign Grace Church of Fairfax)

Justin Taylor over at Between Two Worlds just brought to my attention this excellent interview with Josh Harris on “the local church’s role in effective outreach and his own struggles with personal evangelism.”  Given the nature of my last few posts, and that this coming Sunday at church is all about ‘REACH OUT’, I think this is a worthwhile read.

May 16, 1973 – I was born in a small town called Georgetown, Ohio – famous only for General & President Ulysses S. Grant and Pro basketball player, and my schoolmate, Brian Grant.

Mom’s father, Ted, was raised a Quaker but was an Atheist, I believe due to his extremely dangerous stint as a gunner in WWII, and my grandmother, Rosie, a nominal Methodist who did all of the good things Methodists do, but who didn’t have a very deep faith in God.

My Dad was a much sadder story: his mother, Clara, was from a dirt poor family – she had to drop out of school in the 3rd grade to support her sisters. And his Dad – my grandfather: well, we don’t know all that much about him. He became mentally ill shortly after my Dad’s older sister was born, and after my Dad was born he became dangerous and – for their safety – was essentially removed from their lives completely. Read the rest of this entry »

In an attempt to keep our youth worship ‘cutting edge’ and relevant I have our youth musicians & vocalists, and those connected with the various musical aspects of our youth environments, suggest new songs and, combining it with a few picks of my own, have all involved vote on which ‘new’ (sometimes, as is the case with this list, ‘new to us’) songs we will introduce over the next 4 – 6 months. Well, the results are in, and if you’re a worship leader and not familiar with these songs, I suggest you open up your iTunes and CCLI’s SongSelect and start downloading tunes and chord charts immediately! Here they are, in order of popularity… Read the rest of this entry »

Jared Wilson over at GospelDrivenChurch has just posted this very interesting interview with Brian Doerksen.  Be encouraged to read it.

What a wonderful month it has been at St. Simons Community Church! David Yarborough began an important new series this month called iReach: Changd Lives, re-presenting and updating our church’s vision statement. This was the 2nd week and WOW: Fred & the band nailed it during the worship time, especially the creative special music – Crowder’s “Come & Listen” – utilizing cello & violin, two of my very favorite instruments (as anyone familiar with my last c.d. with Set on Edge will know), and then David brought a powerful word about the church’s primary instrument in changing live – “Reaching Up” to God in Worship (and not just the ‘musical’ kind, but the ‘whole life’ kind). I’m very thankful to be part of a fellowship where the Scriptures are so faithfully taught!

After church, while ruminating over the message, I revisited David’s excellent series on worship from a few months ago, and I just wanted to share it with you all. If you haven’t listened yet, it’s an excellent ‘primer’ on the importance of worship. Be blessed!

Wired for Worship

WHY WORSHIP?

RECONNECT

READ THE MANUAL

GROUNDED

Are we sometimes overlooking part of our calling as Music Ministers? Not the over-arching general calling, but our specific one: based on the spiritual gifts and natural talents that God has given you is your vision for your ministry all that is could/should be?

Last night, I hosted at The Wherehouse – the youth environment at St. Simons Community Church – the 3rd in a series of special Friday night community-wide free ‘outreach’ events. Our first was in June: Saint Lewis, my wife & I’s modern worship band, and the Inside Out band, the worship team from our youth group, led a very passionate exciting night of worship (video worship confessional still-forthcoming – seriously). I used the event to ‘vision-cast’, directing the songs and the event as a whole to move towards challenging our youth to recognize that evangelism is the flip-side of corporate worship – challenging them to participate in our future Friday night events. Our second, in partnership with another local ministry, the Gathering Place. was an open mic night. Having hosted an open mic night for years in Athens, GA, this was truly a delight, and though I didn’t take a headcount, the room was almost uncomfortable at points we had so many in attendance. Last night we brought back one of the stand-out acts from our open mic night to play their own concert. Read the rest of this entry »

As a songwriter I’m influenced by many different things. In fact, as a Christian, often I find myself quite surprised by what I’m drawn to write about, which at times has me second guessing myself. For instance, is it okay for a Christian to write a song about sex, like Vigilantes of Loves’ catchy ditty “Love Cacoon” or the Prayer Chain’s (though it was penned by members of the Choir) intensely moving “Bendy Line”? The mere fact that I linked those two songs will, for some, open a whole bag of worms, though both were written by self-professed Christians, the first by an a former elder at my last church – while he was still an elder there – and the later by one of the producers and writers of a huge amount of the contemporary worship songs we sing today, such as “God of Wonders”, to name only one. Yet, there is an entire book of the Bible on love-making, so it’s not un-Biblical to do so, is it? What about ‘murder’, a topic that Pedro the Lion, at one time one of my favorite bands, has composed multiple records on? Or what of ‘war’? Or, what of the time I was in a more traditional church where there was a reading of Psalm 137, where-in the last line is “Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!” Is such appropriate content for a Biblical song or movie? If proper context were given, could possibly a ‘corporate worship’ song be written – in good conscience – around such a Scripture? Remember 2 Timothy 3:16: “ALL SCRIPTURE is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…” – if so, can it not also be good for use in worship? Read the rest of this entry »

Stand in Awe

I admit it: I missed much of the ‘contemporary worship’ movement at first. A few bad experiences had led me to grow quickly untrusting of the whole enterprise, and I spent from ’96 to ’02 singing primarily hymns, and on occasion – when feeling really edgy – re-worked hymns. It was the lyrics of Matt Redman’s incredible Where Angels fear to Tread that changed all of that. Not only was it a guitar driven rock record that came out of the gate with both guns firing, the lyrics were thoroughly Biblical, and almost hymn-like in their depth and beauty. I was playing leading “Blessed be Your Name” almost a whole year before it hit radio, as well as the incredible “Lord, let Your Glory Fall” and “Wonderful Maker”. To this day Redman is an inspiration to me and I purchase his records without a second though as soon as one is released. Read the rest of this entry »

Shannon at the Gathering Place 2007Since I’ve been ‘producing’ my last official ‘worship confessional’ video for over 2 months and STILL don’t have it ready to post online, I thought I’d keep this one simple: please pretend the picture (brought courtesy of the honorable Chris Moncus) beside and above this text is moving. See me talking? Good – I call that ‘Poor Man’s Video’, otherwise known as ‘the imagination.’ If you don’t have one, please stop reading this immediately and go play some football, but if you’re with me, I’m very glad to have you. Read the rest of this entry »