I’ll admit it, I’m pretty much a perfectionist when it comes to the musical aspect of worship, or for that matter, anything musical.  When it comes to concerts I’ve performed, very few live up to my expectations.  That’s to say, when the band does not feel like it’s really ‘gelling’, I can become very frustrated.  Apparently, worship happened last night, according to others.  Here, however, is the worship-confessional I cut with our Tech guy, Chris, immediately after walking off stage.  This one is being dual-posted at both Chris & I’s sites.  Enjoy.

Inside Out Worship/Tech Confessional – October 8, 2008

It was late Spring/early Summer, sometime near my 9th grade year, not long after the locust plague, when walking outside was always crunchy, and our cars slip-sided from side to side on the pavement because we were continually hydroplaning on swarms of living insect carcasses.  It had been a dry Summer, so the numerous hummingbirds were clinging to our many feeders for survival.

Looking back, it probably wasn’t fair to the local avian life that our garage was painted sky-blue, and had so many windows.  It makes perfect sense how it had gotten trapped: garage door open wide, & a feeder hanging feet from the door filled with bright red sweetness.  

When I walked into the garage from the house, I immediately flinched, thinking it full of bumble-bees.  My recent encounter with a Bumble Bee nest, armed with nothing more than my younger cousin, and two baseball bats, had left a burning impression – many burning impressions – upon me, to say the least.  “Buzzzzzz – THWAK!”  It smacked HARD against the ceiling.  “Bzzzzz – THUMP!”  Against the window.  “Bzzzzzz – BOINK!”  Against the raised garage door.  That poor hummingbird was so disorientated by the color of our garage that it thwaked itself against everything but the wide-open garage door.  No matter how hard I tried to shoe it out the open door, if resisted my movements.  After almost an hour of struggle, it eventually landed in the middle of our empty Garage and simply gave up.

Its tiny body heaved with enormous breaths – it had clearly given up, and was giving itself over to me, likely convinced – or even, at this point, hoping – I would eat him up immediately and end this misery. 

I walked slowly up to the tiny bird, and scooped him up very gently in my hands: so small – so fragile & delicate.  It was like holding a rose petal, except that I could feel it’s breath, and it’s heart pitter-pattering like a tiny, infinitely fast motor whirring along within.  I walked outside the garage and held the tiny thing towards the sun.  It sat still for a time, simply resting in my palm, then buzzed away.

How hard we fight and struggle to make things happen, when usually the most important step is to “be still” – to sit back and let that mighty hand carry us, as we catch our breath.  Human effort can only take us so far, but the most important step towards freedom is always trusting one greater than ourselves to take the next step. Yes, often it looks and feels like death – it seems like ‘the end’, but that hand is good, lifting us towards the brightest Son, and releasing us to fly.

Ants

October 6, 2008

Some while back Cyle bought a “bounce-house” (a 10×10 ‘building’, filled with air?) for a measly $10, which I recently set up in our back yard for one of Kenimer’s (my 3 year old) play-dates.  Looking as though it may rain, this morning I zipped outside, and began folding it up to store it in our building.  While laying across the folded bounce-house, to speed it’s  release of air, a number of tiny ants caught my eye.  Moving my face closer to the ground, and straining to seem them clearly, I noted how the zipped this directly and that, as though they somehow held the fate of the universe in their ‘hands’.  For at least fifteen minutes I watched these ridiculous busy-bodies zip to and fro, accomplishing nothing of note, yet running as fast as they can to do it.  At one point I just wanted to shout, “Dude – you’re just an Ant! RELAX!”

Part of me admires the stupid bug for being so self-convinced of his own importance – for working with such passion and intensity.  Another part of me wonders how often God looks down upon us and whispers, “Dude – slow down, you’re just a human.  Relax.”

Don’t tell me it’s not possible.

Okay, gotta run – I’m really important and have a lot of really important things to do, which all must be done very quickly so I can get to all of my other important things.

😉

Yesterday via my iPod one of my favorite Bible teachers/authors – Rich Nathan of the Columbus Vineyard – reminded me of a passage I hadn’t looked at in quite a while: “…the people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes… Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said ‘Oh that we had meet to eat!  We remember the fish we at in Egypt that cost nothing…” (excerpts from Numbers 11:1a, 4-5a)

Part of me just wants to slap them – those fish didn’t cost anything BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T HAVE ANY MONEY TO SPEND – YOU WERE SOMEONE’S PROPERTY!!!  My lawnmower doesn’t pay for it’s own gas, either – surprised?  I buy the gas, then fill it up, then USE IT.  It’s MY lawnmower – my property – so I take care of it’s needs. Idiots.  Then, I think – been there, done that.

The whole time I was an ultra-conservative, politically, that was my motivation: return to the “Good Ole’ Days”.  Too many Christians, in fact, lack a ‘Kingdom mindset’ and even their evangelism is not based on love for others and a desire for them to meet Jesus, so much as to save culture and protect what they’ve got – to keep the status quo of comfort for themselves and their families.  Sadly, the “Good Ole’ Days” weren’t “good” – they were just “ole'”, er, I mean, OLD.  

That means “past”, and let me tell you – my    memory   is   selective when remembering that stuff.  In fact, I began many years ago (still not finished, though) writing an autobiographical book which recounts some particular moments in my past which I know for an absolute fact did not occur exactly as I remember them.  My mind has dreamed about these events, I’ve daydreamed what might have been, I’ve told the stories in different fashions to different friends so many times that not even I remember precisely what really happened.  Sure, if I wanted to be ‘historical’ about them, I can pretty much piece together the solid bits with a little “critical realism” applied to my memories, but that’s no fun, so I’m writing these stories with all the extra little oddities left in – call it a study of dreams and memories, cloaked in dramatic biography.  Blah blah blah – whatever I was talking about, though…

That was all the long-winded ‘Shannon’-way of saying, if you asked yourself DURING what you now consider the “Good Ole’ Days”, you probably would complain to point to another bit of “Good Ole’ Days” even further in the past, or – if you’re a political liberal (I did that for a while, too), you point to some imagined idyllic utopia in the future, which any historian worth his weight in butter will tell you will result in something that looks like Communist China or Nazi Germany.  The road to destruction is paved with great intentions, huh?

What we have is NOW.  The only “Good Ole’ Days” that ever existed were at some point in the way distant past visualized for us as a Garden where God walked with us in unbroken relationship, and the only idyllic utopia in the future we have to look forward to is the Garden-ic moment reworked in us through God’s Kingdom come – and coming – which happens NOW, before it happens any other time – and right HERE, in our hearts, first and foremost – before it happens any place else.  It’s not a ‘return’ to what life was like 10 or 20 years ago, because the sin in people’s hearts was just as hell-bent then as it is now – the only difference was which sins were publicly acceptable (those have always changed) and which were condemned and frowned upon.

So, there you go: the “Good Ole’ Days” probably sucked too.  Stop complaining before the Lord and trying to RETURN to something that never was, and in the NOW step forward with God into His Kingdom, which begins inside of each of us – that starts with ME.

Let Your Kingdom come… let Your will be done… so that everyone might know Your name.
(Let Your Kingdom Come – Bob Kauflin)

This has been a good week.  I call it a good week because it was a week chock full of me doing what I was made to do: worship.  Yes, that should happen ALWAYS – we should all live there – but I, personally, find a heightened sense of God’s presence when I’m worshiping in community and with song.  

First, My wife & I led our church’s Wednesday noon prayer meeting.  Pulling from an assortment of old favorites like “Consuming Fire” & “Give us clean Hands“, a few newer ‘prophetic’ songs from IHOP, and an original chorus by my wife, we spontaneously led various numbers interspersed with and flowing from the prayers being offered up in the room.  I’ll be honest – I find that degree of spontaneity personally challenging (though, I’ll admit it: my wife LIVES THERE), & I was a bit unsure of whether or not we really ‘connected’ to those in the room.  I found hope in the fact that, at least from my own heart, God was worshiped, and I received a number of kind remarks about it later in the week.  That’s an area I’d like to grow in, but God graciously showed His face to us in spite of my weakness.

Later than night, we had a special INSIDE OUT Sr. High service with an extended time of worship, which I co-led with one of my youth leaders, Aaron.  His worship leading is energetic and infectious and most definitely connects with his peers, and I love to see younger leaders stepping up to the plate.  Though it wasn’t the single most passionate/expressive Wednesday night we’ve had so far this school year (there have been weeks that I wondered if we’d go ‘pentecostal’), the Holy Spirit was clearly present, and hearts were changed.  First, Aaron led the opening set of “My Glorious” (Delirious), “One Way” (Hillsong United), and a powerful song he introduced to our youth the week before – which, I might add, I’ve been pulling for since I heard the demo – “Glorious One” (Fee).  What’s more interesting, HE LED FROM THE BASS – and did it very well.  My personal favorite from his set is Steve Fee’s “Glorious One“, as it’s such a good balance of Biblical truth and personal response, packaged in a powerfully melodic chorus, yet at the same time it’s very easy to pull off (unlike his other awesome, but nearly unreplicable, “All because of Jesus”).  Later, following a time of sharing & testimonies, I continued our corporate singing by re-introducing our youth to the infamous “Healer” (which I love even more BECAUSE of the controversy: the song feels even deeper knowing the real story behind it), “Jesus Paid it All” (a favorite at our church, especially among our youth), and sent them home with a challenge, much like Fred delivered on SSCC’s night of worship, to reach our community, with “God of this City“.  Overall, it was a truly exciting night as I looked out over the room and saw a mix of indifferent (dudes who are merely there to pick up chics – at least they’re coming and hearing the Word and seeing authentic worship) and those truly moved (at least 4 groups were huddled up, praying, and in tears).  I love Inside Out and am proud of what goes on there week by week.

 

And this portion is ‘participating’ in Fred’s Sunday Setlist blog.

Lastly, I was in the rotation to lead for this past Sunday morning as well, which is always a joy.  Our Sunday AM musicians are professional, friendly, and a pleasure to work with, so rehearsal is rarely a chore (though even the best band has their moments, I admit it).  I was particularly excited to have my wife on both keys and singing alto for this morning!  Thursday night’s rehearsal was one of the smoothest I’ve ever had to date, and seemed to zip right by, and Sunday morning – apart from me forgetting lyrical phrase (along with EVERYONE ELSE) from one song – went spectacularly.  The band played almost flawlessly, the congregation was fairly responsive and seemed to be connecting with the songs (pockets folks stood and raised their hands of their own initiative), I personal felt ‘connected’ to God and our congregation as a leader.  Our set started off with Tim Hughes’ “Happy Day” – one of my personal favorites – after which I welcomed everyone to church, and dove into a 2 song set of “Your Grace is Enough” (Maher/Tomlin) and “Mighty to Save” (Hillsong).  Though I am by no means a servant of Hillsong – there is particularly much in their lyrics that I question at times – this song in particular deserves recognition and use among churches of every flavor: the lyrics are powerful proclamation and intimate response all wrapped up into one, and the melody is infectious.  I wouldn’t mind singing this song every week, personally.  After an far-more-intense-than-usual sermon by David mostly about trusting God in our current financial climate, we had communion, during which we sang “Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)” and Tomlin/Redman’s classic reworking of a great hymn, “The Wonderful Cross“.  Sadly, we ran short on time during our first service and had to cut our closing song, but for the 2nd service we responded with “Though I Will Trust You“.  If anything were to have gone better on Sunday, I think I should have considered my words more carefully – somehow, I had given what I was going to say that morning little thought, and found myself digging for the right turn of phrase at times, but I don’t think that was too distracting, thankfully.

All in all, it was a wonderful week.  Thank You, Father!

“Worthy” again…

September 17, 2008

Thanks in great part (in total?) to Fred, my article “WORTHY” has now been re-published online at ChristianPost.com.  Thanks Fred!  Please show some love, and drop by there and leave some comments!

I’m sorry for the lack of real content as of late.  One would think that being without a full-time job would amount to having a great deal of free time.  One would be WRONG!  Between catching up on my honey-do list from the Summer (having pulled 80+ hours a week this Summer, I didn’t do much around the house), entirely redesignig my home studio (Dear Jesus, please let me finish it up today!), and trying to start a new ministry, I’ve been surprisingly busy.  The bummer is, that leaves me not only little to no time to blog, but even less time to, well, make money.  I’m open to creative suggestions, particularly ones that involve me doing what I’m passionate about, and gettting paid to do it – namely, various combinations of God & music.

blessings!

Anyone who’s been following me on Twitter, BeenUp2, or Facebook is likely well aware that I have been in Gaithersburg, MD at the Worship God ’08 Conference hosted by Covenant Life Church/Sovereign Grace Ministries, and what an experience it has been so far!

I’ve been blessed to hook up face-to-face and get to know some fellow TheWorshipCommunity members, like Brad & Lowell from Clear Creek Community Church (who have taken me in like a member of their own church family), and other gifted and friendly worship leaders like Nate from Grace Church in Chapel Hill, Tim & Joel from Mars Hill Seattle, and Ryan & Jonathan from West Coast Revival, as well as the whole Sovereign Grace Music crew, who are incredibly friendly (when Bob Kauflin glanced at my name-tag and recognized my name he proclaimed “I AM SO GLAD YOU COULD MAKE IT!” then gave me a monster bear-hug… that definitely made me feel more than welcome).

One thing that really stands out about this conference is that, in spite of the foremention list of folks, this has really been a conference for the ‘average’ worship leader: very little ‘flash & bang’ or big production.  Worship has been led by real worship teams that lead on Sundays at various churches, leading mostly original songs written in-house at their specific church.  We’ve also been exposed to a WIDE variety of musical forms: bluegrass, jazz, rock, gospel, and combinations I don’t dare label, but which worked wonderfully (one team consisted of a Coldplay-esque rock worship band, accompanied by a violin & viola, drum-loops, record scratching, a black gospel singer, and a soulful blue harmonica player – oh, and they led almost soley old hymns… and for some reason, it wasn’t even that weird, in the moment).

I’ve got a great deal of content to share, but that will have to come later.  Needless to say, this conference has already been of great benefit to me, and I encourage any who have a chance to go in the future to do so.  More to come…

SOLD OUT

July 27, 2008

Haven’t blogged much this last week.  I’m trying to emotionally, intellectually & spiritually make the transition from my stable 8 to 5 week sitting in an office (ie – answering phone calls, counting large sums of money, transcribing minutes from various meetings, & mailing out fund-raising letters) & being confident that my bills will be paid from this week to next, to scheduling important future-shaping (mine & my families, and hopefully OTHERS as well… I’m trusting the impact will be that far reaching) meetings, and trusting that God can indeed work in and through our passions to accomplish awesome things, all while providing for our needs as well!  I can say this much for sure: I am beginning to truly feel ALIVE again!  Apart from developing a vision for the business/ministry I am founding, I’ve spent most of this week mixing down Saint Lewis‘ debut worship e.p., & either leading worship, preparing to lead worship, or rehearsing future musicians to help lead worship for; the Gathering Place, Team Effort, Inside Out/Rush Hour, & St. Simons Community Church.  Walking in your passions & giftings sure feels INCREDIBLE.  It’s been too long coming.

So, I ask myself… why have I put this off so long?  Why do I so seek comfort, without risk – without steps of courage?  I admit it: I am – I have been – afraid.  Today, however, I choose to walk in FAITH… sold out … committed to Him.  It feels great, and somehow even more secure than ever…

Thank You, God!

Amen…

Hold on… I’m throwing everything AND the kitchen sink at you today!

I’m cleaning off my old office computer, here are all the most interesting links I’d forgotten to share over the past few years…

A NEW SONG FOR THE NATIONS – by Fundamentally Reformed

BECOMING A BETTER WORSHIP SONGWRITER – by Bobby Giles, from the Worship Community

AN INTERVIEW WITH BOB KAUFLIN – from Mars Hill/Resurgence

IMPORTANT VALUES FOR CHRISTIAN ARTISTS – by Andy Farmer by Way of Justin Taylor

A STUDY OF PRAISE & WORSHIP – by William Duane Clark

LEADING IN THE VINEYARD – Vineyard UK

WORSHIP, THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN HEDONISM – John Piper

In all seriousness, it’ s been a strange week. Though I never knew her personally (I had seen her before, but I don’t believe we’d ever met), we had a number of friends in common, and as it has many others, her music moved me deeply. Having followed her battle against cancer this past year or so, it really hit me hard yesterday to learn of the loss of Katie Reider. Apparently, there were many others her life and music touched as well, for it was the highest number of blog readers I’ve had since I started publishing my thoughts online several years ago (on Xanga – does anyone use Xanga anymore?). My prayers go out to her closest friends and family.

On the other side of the coin, I guess you’d call yesterday “bittersweet” – the source of my new-found “fame” (though I hope, in fact, that it expresses God’s fame): I’m excited to announce that my article “WORTHY” is being featured at TheWorshipCommunity.com, an new online Worship ‘magazine’ which facilitates discussion and community among worship leaders & worship musicians who are “in the trenches”, as some have said – those who are leading their congregations in worship in churches around the world every Sunday. I’ve made some wonderful connections, and new friends, during the time that TWC was merely an online forum, and I’m excited to see it grow, and take the obvious next step into a full-blown online publication. I’m also honored to have the featured article this week. Please swing by, read it, and be encouraged to comment!

Lastly, it was a good evening because I can see the release of Saint Lewis’ “Songs from the Hope Farm” e.p. immediately on the horizon. Very late last night my wife & I were putting the finishing touches on one of her originals, and it just excites me to see this small sampler (all of these songs – albeit more professionally mixed versions – will also be featured on our full-length c.d. expected early next year) of original worship material come together, and I’ve been really blessed by the positive feedback we’ve received on many of our songs these past few months. A very limited edition printing of the e.p. will be ready very soon, but until then please stop by our website-in-the-making: Saint Lewis Music.

May God’s blessings be evident, & His Spirit be near…

What can I say?  I’ve been busy, and many of my favorite worship bloggers have gone post happy, and most of it contains GREAT content!

For instance, Milestone Worship brought us an excellent series called THE REDEMPTIVE WORK OF WORSHIP PART 1, PART 2, & PART 3, as well as another thought provoking addition to the SONGWRITING FOR WORSHIP series.

I am an Offering brought us a 2 parter on worship production that I found interesting; THE IMPORTANCE OF A PRODUCER, & PRODUCING FOR THE LOCAL CHURCH.  They also added another post in the PRACTICAL MUSIC THEORY series, which I’ve found very helpful in the past few months.  Lastly, they recently reviewed a book which I am currently reading, and encourage you all to pick up as well: WORSHIP GOD.

Rich Kirkpatrick just added two more to his Worship Mythbusters series, which I read faithfully; THE ROLE OF THE WORSHIP LEADER, & EXPRESSIVENESS IN WORSHIP VERSES LEGALISM.  Both of these really challenged me.

Adrian Warnock posted some interesting content from a multi-part interview with Phatfish’s Nathan Fellingham; THE THEOLOGY OF WORSHIP SONGS, & WRITING SONGS FOR WORSHIP.

And lastly (I warned you that there was a LOT, didn’t I?!), a whole slew of other excellent blogs and resources I’ve come across since my last ‘blog-love’ post:
BETRAYING GOD IN WORSHIP
FREE SOFTWARE FOR SONGWRITERS
A FEW THOUGHTS FOR THE WORSHIP LEADER
MUSICAL QUALITY IN WORSHIP SETTINGS
and an ONLINE SONGWRITING COURSE FROM VINEYARD UK.

That’s about it for now.  I hope these encourage, challenge, and build you up!

So be it!

Let me start by saying – I LOVE MY CHURCH! I am happy and proud to be plugged into a church body that is Christ-Centered, Gospel-Driven, Grace-Filled, & Doctrinally Sound, with relevant teaching, wonderful times of corporate worship, and friendly people. Maybe that is why is saddens me to see so-called ‘Christians’ who are, as Josh Harris says, “dating the church”, rather than plugged in somewhere, serving and fellowshipping, committed first & foremost to one local body. Just this week Tim Challies wrote an excellent, powerful, and encouraging post called THEY WENT TO THEIR OWN about his commitment to a local body of believers. Adrian Warnock commented on Challies’ post in LOVE YOUR LOCAL CHURCH. One of my current favorite Worship songwriters, Stephen Altrogge, posted an very humorous excerpt of one of Josh Harris’ sermons, and the full sermon by Harris is available here: COMMITMENT TO THE CHURCH.

In other great church news, apparently there are many signs of revival occurring at Mars Hill Church in Seattle.   200 baptisms in ONE DAY alone!  God is on the move!

As it relates to music, Wisdom Moon posted a great new music theory resource, Milestone Worship added another helpful blog on Worship Songwriting, and a challenging post on SKILL LIDS was blogged over at I am an Offering.

And lastly, back to my church, Fred McKinnon, our music director, posted his thoughts on our Easter Service this past Sunday.

Blessings, and have a GREAT weekend!

Man, what a GREAT last couple weeks for blogging!

First, Sovereign Grace Music has announced their newest c.d., COME WEARY SAINTS.  They’ve put complete audio online to sample, and though it’s quite a bit darker than most of their material (the theme of the c.d. relates to God being sovereign in our adversity), I am particularly excited about the new songs “Every Day” & “You have always been Faithful”.

Milestone Worship has added two more installments in their Songwriting for Worship series: Reci-Tativ & Aria, & The Singability Quotient.

In a similar vein, I was excited to find an entire teaching series on Worship Songwriting from the IWarSchool.  There’s definitely some good stuff there.

Rich Kirkpatrick dispels the common myth that “Worship with hymns is more theologically rich than with modern music” as part of his excellent WORSHIP MYTHBUSTERS series.

Speaking of hymns, Tim Challies reviewed a number of great new resources for those worship leaders looking for a fresh take on hymnody.

And lastly – entirely off the subject of music/corporate worship (though the author of this blog is an EXCELLENT songwriter, himself) – Stephen Altrogge posted a very convicting blog called WHAT ARE WE REALLY TALKING ABOUT? – it’s all about calling sin ‘sin’, and not candy coating it and making it sound acceptable.  Good stuff.

Amen.

Mid-March Blog Love

March 12, 2008

There have been some goodies as of late!

First, my “superior” Fred McKinnon posted a CONVICTING leadership nugget on “Vision Casting”.  As I told him at lunch on Monday – guilty as charged!  It’s a healthy reminder of the need to be pro-active in making sure your team is on the same team.  Read it and weep.

Chris (from Canada) posted a very helpful brainstorming tool which could be helpful in songwriting – at least I’ve often approached songwriting this way.  Be sure to check out his post New Online Brainstorming Tool.

Milestone Worship has recently posted a few helpful tips on Songwriting for Worship.

My friend, David Herndon, was interviewed by ABOUT CHRISTIAN MUSIC regarding his new c.d., Out of Danger/Into Rescue.  Not only is it a good disc, and an interesting interview, but David’s band, and I, will be playing at our church on Friday, March 21st at 8 PM.  Free Show.  More info forthcoming.

Lastly, most anyone who knows me or reads anything I write knows how influencial John Piper’s writing has been on my life.  Well, John has recently put his Kingdom-of-God-centered “God is the Gospel” ONLINE in it’s entirety!  Yes, it’s a hard read in places, but it will probably change your life.  Make sure you have enough paper in your printer, and get to reading!

Amen.

Blog Love Quickie

March 4, 2008

First, more on the opening of our new Church facility from Travis, Chris, & Justin.

In other news:
Stuart Townend on  How to Write Hymns
Bob Kauflin responds in For Music

Lastly…I’ve been doing a LOT of songwriting recently.  In fact, it is my goal this year to finish writing at least 12 new corporate worship songs this year – given that I’ve finished one so far, and have at least 3 more started, I think I’ll meet my ‘quota’.  Well, while rehearsing for this Wednesday’s INSIDE OUT meeting, we were going to play “Meant to Live” by Switchfoot as our walk-in music – a song many of us like.  Right as we began to rehearse, the whole band basically mass-vetoed the song, and suggested playing my newest, “Call me to Life“, instead.  THAT made my day!   Hopefully I can get a live-recording of it soon and pop it up online.

Thank you, Jesus.

Amen.

Friday Blog Love

February 22, 2008

Happy Friday! Just thought I’d spread some blog-love around before the weekend.

My friend (and one of my ‘bosses’, though that sounds so harsh & authoritarian), Fred McKinnon, has posted a pic of our new auditorium. It doesn’t represent the full room, but you can get a feel for it. I’m EXCITED!

I just discovered a very cool older post over at Fundamentally Reformed called THE RISE OF THE MODERN HYMN MOVEMENT, as well as a newer follow up post; MODERN HYMN WRITERS. Mandy, you should enjoy this. Being in a songwriting kick, myself, I found it fascinating.

One of my few living heroes, Tim Keller, has finished his new book THE REASON FOR GOD. Along with N.T. Wright‘s SIMPLY CHRISTIAN, this may be one of the best apologetics for the Biblical faith for post-moderns written to date. Good stuff.

Rich Kirkpatrick recently posted a very though provoking blog in his ‘Worship Mythbusters’ series entitled WORSHIP IS NOT ENTERTAINMENT.

I’ll be taking a much-needed blogging break until March 3rd.  Until we meet again!

Amen…and OUT.

Who is this Woman?

February 19, 2008

So, last night my wife, Cyle – a woman who once, when looking at older pictures of me, stated emphatically that she was glad she met me when she did because the earlier ‘me’ wouldn’t have appealed to her – told me that I should grow my hair out “at least to your shoulders, so you can put it in a pony-tail”!!!???!!!??? What’s your name again, and where did Cyle go?!

Honestly, I’ve gotten used to having my hair shorter, but I also enjoy doing crazy things like that, so I wonder: how far is too far?

Here are a few older pics of me – I wore my hair long off and on (mostly ‘on’) from late ’91 to early ’02.  At it’s longest I think it was about 17 inches…anyway…enjoy these samples, and tell me: Which do you prefer?

(I’m the one with the braided dreads on the last pic – upper left-hand corner)

Welcome Justin!

February 18, 2008

Justin, one of my favorite people, and a fellow staff-member at St. Simons Community Church, just began his own blog called IN THE RAW.  He’s just beginning to roll, but already you’ll find some good stuff there.  Drop by and show him some love!

Friday Blog Love

February 15, 2008

There have been so many good blogs and new resources published this week that I can hardly keep up!

First, Mark Altrogge over at The Blazing Center posted Hope for the Sin-Stained Worshiper. Though I’m sure no worship leaders that read this blog have EVER got into a fight with their wife on the way to church (at least I NEVER do that – um, right honey?), you may still benefit from this.

Jared Wilson at Gospel-Driven Church gives a helpful critique of the idea that ‘God shows up’ in the musical aspect of a worship service in a blog worth thinking considering: Call & Response.

Jordan at Worship Trench shares some helpful thoughts that are very relevant if you are, like us, in the process of moving into a new facility, and find your congregation in the midst of great change. Check out Walking the Tightrope for his thoughts.

Lastly, we’ve really been emphasizing, among our student leaders in particular, the importance of daily Bible study and quiet time – growing really familiar with God through his self-revelation in the Word. With that in mind, it is very important to consider what translation we are using and why. In light of that, I present Tim Challies’ The Beauty of a Good Translation and Adrian Warnock’s The ESV: a Bible translation for Everyone? Both give good reason why I choose the ESV over all the other options.

Have a blessed weekend!

Amen.

First and foremost, get yourself over to 9Marks and read Greg Gilbert’s post criticizing ‘Worship Music’ and Bob Kauflin’s excellent response. It’s a worthy discussion to enter into.

Also be sure to sign up for a free account and check out CCLITV, a showcase for new, independent worship artists and songs, as well as articles and other helpful information. A good sample of the sort of new songs you might find are this one, which I enjoyed.

And here’s an older THOUGHT FOR SONGWRITERS from Matt Redman, which has been convicting me as of late, particularly after the vision God gave me this weekend at Brian Johnson‘s conference locally at Bethel. Maybe I’ll post more on that later.

And lastly, this is one KILLER rendition of “Smoke on the Water” – seriously, it’s pretty amazing:

  Smoke on the Water Everyone`s heard the Deep Purple rock classic, but have you heard it played by a full Japanese orchestra?

Hold on for your life…here’s some blog love so vast that few can withstand its…well…okay, here are a bunch of blog posts from last year that I never reposted but should have.  So, without detailed descriptions, or much fluff, here they are.  Really, there is some great content here.  Be blessed!

What do you do when you are no longer the “focus” of your church’s programming? from Rich Kirkpatrick

Getting more Volunteers from Behind the Leaf

Ruined for Anything Else from Challies.com

 All-Time Favorite Story from Vince Antonuccio

Worship: it’s really all about us? from Sign of Jonah

Real Suffering & Songwriting from Milestone Worship

and lastly, a bit of humor from the Internet Monk – Proverbs for Angry Old (and Young) Men.

So there, my folder has been cleared.  Enjoy!

Music Theory…

January 2, 2008

Chris from Canada was nice to draw our attention to Ryan Egan’s blog, which has contains many helpful music theory tips. I’ve found these helpful, so maybe you will too. Click any of the following for the links:

  1. Basic Triads
  2. Inversions
  3. Weird Chord Suffixes
  4. Relative Minor Chord

Our pastor, David Yarborough, hit a home-run today with his blog PLEASE JESUS. A little hint: it’s all about a bumper sticker that I almost purchased myself once when I was in college.

Our Worship Director here at St. Simons Community Church, Fred McKinnon, posted a humorous poke at our Youth Pastor, Jon Blankenship. Jon apparently worked with Fred on re-recording “I will Survive” for our KidJam ministry…as a sheep. You will most likely die laughing at this, so prepare yourself: go ahead and call 911 BEFORE listening.

Heather, wife of the fore-mentioned Youth Pastor, and our ‘Vocal Coordinator’ at INSIDE OUT, posted this excellent blog about Biblical humility she titled Broken Things, which is closely related to my last Worship Textfessional. Very challenging, and worth a read.

If I don’t post again soon, I pray you have a great weekend!

Discipleship (part 1)

December 10, 2007

Having read Chris Moncus‘ excellent blog on Volunteers Reproducing Themselves, I was inspired to post an edited version of an essay I wrote in 2005 on Small Group Ministry and Discipleship, as I think it captures the heart of what Chris was talking about. May this continue to happen at our church!

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“Three men digging a ditch on a scorching summer afternoon were approached by a friend who asked, ‘What are you guys doing?’ The first, already weary from exertion, responded impatiently, ‘What does it look like? We’re digging a hole!’

The second, sensing that the question was not meant to be rhetorical, added, ‘We’re laying a foundation pad. It’s going to be filled with concrete.’

The third man, who had been whistling happily while he labored, laid his shovel aside, wiped his forehead, and began to describe in great detail how this particular hole was strategic for the placement of one of the massive ‘flying buttresses’ that would support an entire wall of stained glass windows for a new cathedral. After describing in great detail the plans and procedures for completion Christmas Eve five years from now, my family and I will worship together at the altar where that rubbish pile is now located.’”

– from Bob DukesA Model for Strategic Disciple Building

Discipleship is the most important ministry in the church – in fact, it IS the ministry of the Church It’s a radical thing to say, but I stand behind it. I’m convinced of it from both Scripture and experience. In the Old Testament, according to God himself in Deuteronomy 6:1-9, Discipleship was teaching the faith, practicing the faith, relationships of faith, and day-to-day walking it out in faith – all were to take place. Who would know better than God the best environments and models for discipleship? Then Jesus, in Mark 13:13-15, called the disciples out, challenged them, raised them up, and even appointed them to positions of authority, ultimately sending them out to do likewise. Discipleship is the primary purpose of the Church, and the problem is not that we don’t try to do it – the problem is that we try, but do not have a vision as to what end we do it, and how to get there. This is where our ditch-digger comes in. Read the rest of this entry »

Friday Blog-love

December 7, 2007

A few important blogs (et etc.) you should check out over the weekend…

Fred McKinnon, the Worship Director at our church, is having a SUPER-SALE on the Worship Under the Stars CDs & DVDs (which I sang tenor on) – most definitely worth the price of $5 (!!!! ARE YOU KIDDING, FRED?!!!!). How’s that for a stocking-stuffer?!

Bethlehem Baptist, John Piper‘s Church, has opened a “Worship Pastor” track apprenticeship program at their training institute.

And lastly, why not pop over and watch the Narnia: Prince Caspian trailer?

Have a wonderful weekend!

 Well, apparently it’s FINALLY DONE!  This one book I am most definitely anticipating…

Worship Matters: Leading Others to encounter the Greatness of God by Bob Kauflin, forward by Paul Baloche.

Is anyone else really looking forward to reading this?

What a refreshing morning! I don’t know exactly what it is about leading worship – maybe the Spirit’s anointing? – but I feel so energized by mornings like this one! Read the rest of this entry »

As many of you that likely already know Fred McKinnon & Chris Moncus, those two need no introduction. Read the rest of this entry »

This post has struck a chord with many. I thought I’d share it with you all as well… be encouraged to chime in.
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Isn’t it strange that many Christians, especially churches, forgive fellow ‘believers’ and will often go to almost any end to cover their brothers’ sins, especially when it involves breaking the law, and at the same time spend great energy condemning non-believers who are behaving exactly as their morality and conscience allow. Read the rest of this entry »

How did I miss THIS?

October 22, 2007

Check out this GREAT blog post from In the Clearing:

Whitmanesque Worship

I once had a recent acquaintance, eventually to become a good friend, approach me and say that they had figured out what it was about me that had always seemed so unusual, but which – until that moment – that couldn’t put their finger on: “You are completely without sarcasm, and that’s refreshing.” Oh how the mighty have fallen! Read the rest of this entry »

Here we go with part 3 (look here for one and two), and I’m finally getting around to discussing some ‘Christian’ songwriters: Read the rest of this entry »

For those who missed it, please read part 1 first – at least the intro – before diving into this blog. Otherwise, here are 3 more:

The One I LoveREM
Blood & RosesSmithereens
Prayers for Rain
The Cure Read the rest of this entry »

Do yourself a favor and check out Bob Kauflin’s very insightful blog over at Worship Matters:

WHEN FEET WANT TO BE HANDS 

I wish I had written this…

September 24, 2007

I do wish that I had written this, not because I agree with every word (though he makes a few good points), but because I’ve passed through this phase and understand where this man is coming from. I think it’s important to keep in mind that there are a great number of folks that feel this way (particularly many men) within our congregations, and we need to keep in mind that this is a segment of the folks we are ministering to as well. So, here you go ‘worship leaders’: I am not in love with Jesus by John Stackhouse.

p.s. – you need to read through the responses as well.

As you may or may not know, though this is my primary blog, I have 2 other blogs besides this one. I try to post on topics explicitly of importance to worship leaders/music ministers here at this one. However, the other two, I feel, are important to the proper worship of God as well – though it may not be immediately clear to some – which is why I started them as separate blogs. Read the rest of this entry »

Just stuff…

September 14, 2007

Fred McKinnon, the Music Director at St. Simons Community Church, has posted a very interesting continuation of The Original Mudpuppy‘s blog on how one becomes a ‘professional worship leader’. Knowing this would be of interest to some of my readers, I had to pass that along.  It has the potential to be a very interesting discussion.

Over at PerryNoble.com (again, thanks Fred), is an excellent post; 8 Things I think every Worship Leader should Know with Lee‘s excellent response (that’s Perry’s worship pastor), 7 Things Worship Leaders wished their Senior Pastor Knew. I think both articles are spot-on and well worth reading.

Lastly, Vineyard Music has a new download available – the excellent “All I Have” from Vineyards newest, Stand in Awe. Not only can you download the song for free, but also its’ chord-chart. Now, give me one good reason why you wouldn’t do this? That’s what I thought.

I hope you have a beautiful weekend!

BLOG TAG (courtesy of elBen)

September 12, 2007

So I don’t usually do these things. I barely can find time to blog as it is, and usually my blogs are pieced together and saved repeatedly over the course of a week, until my thoughts are together enough to unleash upon the world. However, not one to pass on a challenge, I took up elBen on his.

“Ten Things, Random or Significant (mostly very significant) that have happened in my Life.” 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 »

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 »

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

I teach with some regularity on worship being a lifestyle (singing/celebrating with the body of Christ is just the ‘tip of the iceberg’, so to say). And though I do fully believe that, I’m also convinced that the musical aspects of ‘worship’ are a very important part of aiding the Church in loving the Lord with our minds (lyrical content) and hearts (good music strongly affects our emotions), which in response often affects our spiritual lives and actions (soul & strength, respectively).

For some, it’s easy to criticize ‘contemporary’ worship. I used to be the ‘critic’. I’ve discovered, however, that most of my issues with ‘contemporary’ worship music were just that: my issues Read the rest of this entry »

Worthy? I’m not.

July 27, 2007

So, yet another blog on worship, and leading worship? Do we really need that?

Probably not. And for what it’s worth, my opinion probably doesn’t count for that much – my personal worship of God is inconsistent, and imperfect – I lead worship by grace, just as I am saved by grace, and I am always surprised – very regularly surprised – to find that God so often intervenes and meets me where I am during worship, drawing me nearer, and deepening my passion for Him.

So, though I’m not worthy, God is. I don’t proclaim to be saying anything new, but if anything in this blog serves as a healthy reminder, pointing you back to a truth you’ve forgotten or somehow overlooked, it’s worth my time.

I hope this blog serves as both a challenge and encouragement to you.

Be blessed!