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

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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!

This one is a bit different… hope you like.

I present to you… my first worship confessional… well, actually my second.  I deleted the whole first draft.  I came across as an arrogant, self-centered idiot in it, which rendered me entirely incapable of editing it in iMovie.  This one is better, but still I wonder – will anyone want to watch a 13 minute worship confessional?  I can taste the sinking blog stats now…

By the way, in order to participate in Fred’s ‘Sunday Set-Lists’, the set-list for Sunday was:

WALK IN: Tell the World – Hillsong United
1.  My Savior Lives – New Life Church/Desperation Band
2.  Marvelous Light – Charlie Hall
3.  Lead me to the Cross – Hillsong United
4.  How Great is Our God – Chris Tomlin (w/ How Great Thou Art)
CLOSING: Hosanna – Hillsong United 

Every once in a while I have a week were I get to live my dreams (like here, here, & here, for instance): this week is one of them.

On this past Sunday night I got to lead worship at the Gathering Place for the first time.  This has been a dream of mine since my first visit to Brunswick and the Golden Isles.  Now, as the Worship Leader for the Gathering Place this Summer, I will be leading multiple teams of High School Musicians – a first in the 28 years the GP has existed – in leading the 1,000+ youth who come from all over to hear the Word taught by some excellent speakers, and worship together in an atmosphere that can be called nothing short of “EXCITING”!  This past Sunday was our first of the Summer, and it was CRAZY!

On Monday night I rehearsed with next week’s team for this coming Sunday.  The two guitarists working with us this week are Freshman in Highschool, but you wouldn’t know it to hear them.  Rehearsal was not only fun, but also a great encouragement to even the adults present.  To see High School kids worshiping God with passion, learning to work together as a team – to see them GET the BIG PICTURE is just exciting!

Last night I spent recording my wife’s vocals, and putting some final touches on a high energy corporate worship song we wrote called “All in All”.  An early demo of it can be heard on our Virb site.  We hope to mix it this weekend, to make it available for free at my brother-n-law’s c.d. release party on the 20th.  More on that in a few days.

Today – in just a few minutes – I will be heading over to St. Simons Community Church to lead spontaneous worship during a corporate prayer time we have there weekly.  I won’t say I’m not a little nervous, as spontaneity is not one of my gifts, but I’m more than willing to step out in faith and give it a try.  God will catch me.

Tonight, a highlight of every week, is Inside Out.  I’ve been leading the worship team there for a few years now: I love the kids – I love the energy – I love the ministry that takes place there.  Honestly, I look forward to Wednesdays the same way most people look towards Friday.

On Thursday night I’ll be rehearsing with Harriet Jones, preparing for Sunday morning at SSCC.  Friday night I will be mixing “All in All”.  Saturday morning I will be rehearsing with Saint Lewis to prepare for next week’s concert.  Sunday morning, singing tenor & playing a little guitar for both services at SSCC, and then I’ll be back at the GP for the 2nd main event.

I’m sure to some it sounds exhausting, and physically, it is.  But I feel so blessed with opportunity during weeks like this – I get to live my dream of playing music, & worshiping God.  It gets no better than this.

“That’s not worship” or “They are not really worshipers” – there are few phrases which can come from someone’s mouth that sinks my heart deeper. Not that it might not be true: it is possible that there are people in any worship gathering whose heart is not turned towards God – in fact, given the nature of the flesh, there may be many of them. It may even, though I hate to think it, be whole congregations where few if any of the people gathered are worshiping the God of the Bible, as people tend towards worshiping a god of their imagination, instead of the God of revelation.

But how would you really know? Sure, there are outward signs, I guess – Biblical guidelines for what worship should look like, but those are broad and varied, and the Biblical descriptions no where say that it explains every aspect of what worship can or should look like. On top of that, there are Biblical examples of folks who may have done everything our accepted form of worship might expect to seem a ‘genuine worshiper’, yet their hearts were far from God – the worship was false.

I wrote a blog some time back on another aspect entirely of being a ‘worship critic’, but while thinking on this one I remembered one situation in particular that still stands out to me though it happened over 10 years ago. At the time I was attending a fairly conservative reformed church, and our corporate worship consisted of hymns played on piano, and singing – any song less that 150 years old there would be considered ‘that new one’ (and I only partially jest). I remember one occasion when a Pentecostal friend of mine visited on Sunday, and by the end of the service he was in tears. He said, “I’d never felt such a deep sense of the Spirit during worship before!” We sand songs like ‘And can it be’, ‘On Christ the Solid Rock’, ‘Be Thou my Vision’ (and those were the ‘rockers’!), off pitch and accompanied by a tiny upright – and there weren’t more than 100 of us in the room, and the Holy Spirit ruined that man in our midst.

You see, worship is about the heart, and it’s hard to discern the deep things of people’s hearts. Some of my deepest times of worship I seem outwardly expressionless, and sometimes when I’m totally ‘into it’, I’m actually TRYING to move my heart towards God, and my expression is pure will – not heart. That’s just to say, be very careful when judging other’s worship. It’s likely a far better project to judge the intention of our own hearts instead of the hearts of others.

amen…

Yesterday was one of those ‘highlights’ for me – a day where, from morning till sundown, I felt as though my every step was perfect.

In the morning I went to church and led the Rush Hour (Jr. High Youth Group) band, including a brand new guitarist who had never played with us before (apart from a rehearsal), and it was GREAT. Not only was the worship time intimate – the youth in the room seemed engaged, and during the quiet moments I could hear voices from every corner of the room, but the band sounded great, especially the new guitarist. I love leading worship, but even more-so, I love seeing young musicians ‘get it’, both spiritually and musically. It just lights me up to see a kid step up and DO IT, and do it well, even! It was a good morning.

After church, I spent the afternoon in the studio with my wife singing background vocals for my brother-n-law’s forthcoming c.d. (for whom my wife is the booking agent, so if you’d like him to play somewhere LET ME KNOW). He’s working under the name McKendree Augustas, and the new tunes are sweet. I’m excited to hear the final product, which should be mixed later this week.

Finally, in the evening, I got to open for David Herndon at his c.d. release party. Given the nature of the songs he was playing that night, I decided to be ‘Set on Edge‘ for the evening, instead of ‘Saint Lewis‘. I usually rely upon a group of excellent musicians, but instead focused on spicing up my acoustic parts a bit and did it solo. I not only felt very good about the performance (there was a great audience there – I’d guess 300+ showed), got many compliments, and sold a few cds, but also got in a number of great conversations, and for me those conversations/relationships is what good music really comes down to: a conversation between me, the listener, and God.

Yesterday was one more day that makes me consider doing some really crazy things to enable every day to be like that. The thought of one day leading others in worship, training musicians and worship leaders and seeing them step into their own, writing songs that move people’s hearts and the heart of God, playing live, and recording – well, that just sounds like Heaven on Earth to me and leaves my head spinning.

Yesterday was a good day. 😉

I’ve always enjoyed conferences. I come away from them rested (even apart from getting no sleep, oft-times!), encouraged, challenged, and just plain excited, with a fresh of vision of what I can do and how things can be. Wouldn’t it be nice to take your whole team to a conference? Unfortunately, that’s just plain not feasible, given the complexities of people’s schedules, and financial issues. So a few years back I began putting on my own ‘mini-conferences’ for my youth group musicians, and those interested in one day being on the team, which I call ‘Youth Worship Workshops’. They’ve done well for us, not only in giving the youth a new vision for our team and a new passion for worshiping God, but also as essentially ‘try-outs’ to discover and invest in future talent which will slowly be integrated into, and one day replace, the current team. If you’re a worship leader an interested in doing one at your church, here’s the basics of what we do: Read the rest of this entry »

This past Sunday was such an encouragement to me. After a hard week at both jobs, I just didn’t know how Sunday morning would go. I felt beat down, tired, and discouraged on all fronts, so what’s the next obvious thing to do?: WORSHIP GOD! How true that is! One thing that did strike me as a real blessing was how God led me in choosing the songs before I even knew what David was preaching on. It didn’t dawn on me until I sat through David’s sermon on Sunday morning how perfect the songs were – every one tied into and emphasized the overall message that morning. Such a blessing! Thank you, Holy Spirit! Read the rest of this entry »

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!

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” —1 Peter 5:5

What a wonderful night! First, God had been convicting a number of us leaders on the importance of humility and unity among our team, and we – in our prayer meeting before INSIDE OUT – leaders began to set forth a vision for the evening: humble dependence, desperate thirst and hunger for God’s Spirit, and repentance. Then we prayed, with the call to not leave the prayer room until we’re really ready. God showed up. Heather, our ‘Vocal Coordinator’, went into much greater detail in her latest blog: Broken Things. I think the key for this night was that ‘worship’ began long before the music or singing – an important lesson for all of us. Read the rest of this entry »

And now introducing…

December 4, 2007

Samuel Tucker Haddon Lewis, born 4:59 A.M. on Sunday morning, December 2nd, 2007. Stretching out a full 21 inches long, and weighing in at 8 lbs 5 oz, he’s very healthy, peaceful, a great eater, and let’s just say that his plumbing works, and often.

In the Bible, names are important – they means something, often acting almost like a prophecy over the individual named. Like his older brother, Daniel Kenimer Augustus, Tucker has a big name, and God-willing, that name represents his calling.

“Samuel”, at first was chosen to honor a pastor/author/Bible teacher who’s balance between the ‘Word of God’ and the ‘Spirit of God’ I find ideal: C. Samuel Storms. Sam has authored many of my favorite books, and his teaching has sent me back to the Scriptures again and again. However, after I’d already decided on that name, God led me to begin re-reading the Biblical book of 1st Samuel, and I was given a 2nd reason to give him the name: “And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.” (1st Samuel 3:19) When Tucker speaks, I want his words to have purpose and impact people, and not be like so many of mine have been – fruitless, and without impact. In both of these ways I hope that Tucker is indeed a “Samuel”.

“Tucker”, my wife’s maiden name, and the last name of her Father as well – a man respected by many, who seeks to worship and serve God to the best of his ability, whom we respect and love deeply. I believe that re-using maiden names as a first name gives a person a sense of history – a constant reminder of those who have gone before him.

“Haddon”, the middle name of the incredible pastor-teacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, more commonly known as “C. H. Spurgeon” – “the prince of preachers”. In the mid-1800s, long before sounds systems or, for that matter, ‘mega-churches’, at the age of just 22, Spurgeon pastored a church which sometimes numbered over 10,000 a Sunday! To this day his influence is second to possibly only Jonathan Edwards, another of my long-dead heros.

And “Lewis” is his direct connection to me and my mess of a history – the good and bad which I hope God will use to both glorify Himself, and to teach others, like my young Tucker, of his goodness and faithfulness, in spite of our short-comings.

I thank God for this glorious weekend…welcome to the world, and my family, young Tucker!

Amen!

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 »

So, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these.

Honestly, I haven’t had much to report – no great tragedies, no huge breakthroughs: just good, albeit normal, times of worship. Last night, however, was different: we had a little of both. Read the rest of this entry »

Praise God, yesterday was a good morning! In spite of odd rehearsal times (we were on staff retreat during our normal rehearsal time, so we had to re-schedule for Monday), 2 of our regular musicians being unavailable to play, and numerous vocalists being unavailable (in one week I had 4 cancellations that I had to reschedule for!), everything went fairly smoothly, and we had a BALL! Read the rest of this entry »

As you probably know, last week I was ill – the sickest I can recall ever being. Though it was a hard time, I do now feel blessed that I can say that ‘Strep Throat’ is the sickest I’ve ever been. Some are not so blessed with good health. Read the rest of this entry »

For starters, let me suggest, if you are at a larger church with multiple worship environments, leaders, and teams, that those leading the various environments communicate regularly – it’ll help you to avoid scheduling the same musicians in different environments at the same time, which we just narrowly avoided this week, thanks to the wonders of text-messaging and Planning Center Online, which takes me to another issue entirely: it may be possible to convince me of the legality and even importance of human cloning, especially as it relates to good drummers. 🙂 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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »