3 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Leading Worship

I started early as a worship leader and was kind of thrown into it. Looking back, I had guitar1some incredible mentors but many of those around me were learning with me. Here are 3 things I wish I knew when I first started leading worship. These things have been echoed by many worship leaders across the country that I get to meet with. All of this really came together while at the Allaboutworship.com conference. Thankful to my friends Wisdom Moon, Michael Farren, and Sean Hill for conversation there that were incredibly helpful.

Let’s start with number 2:

2. Lead your congregation up the mountain

The Old Testament offers some beautiful illustrations of God’s people ascending his mountain to enjoy his presence (Psalm 24:3). As a worship leader, you’re helping spiritually lead your congregation into God’s presence. Corporate worship is a communal experience, and part of facilitating that experience is being aware of where the rest of your church is. Sometimes the worship leader or the band can get so far ahead that they lose everyone else.

The goal isn’t to be the first to the top of the mountain; you certainly don’t want to stand at the top alone. Be conscious of emotive moments during songs, and as you foster that experience through instrumentation, consider how vocals accompany the feeling. Lead the voices of your congregation so you can enjoy the presence of God together.


Read more over at the Proclaim blog. <——

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Hebrews: The Supremacy of Christ in All Things

I’m currently studying Hebrews in seminary. Here are some thoughts as I go through this class:

Further, we see that God speaks finally and fully through Jesus. We have no other need for further revelation than that which is given to us in the Word and through the Son.

The book of Hebrews sets the stage for our right understanding and perspective of who Jesus is. Namely, that he has ultimate supremacy and authority in all things. In fact, the Screen Shot 2014-06-08 at 11.51.22 PMwriter of Hebrews states, “he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” [1] This distinction sets Jesus apart in all ways. The writer of Hebrews helps to reinforce this idea by placing a series of comparisons in front of us. The primary comparison is between the Son and angels. Clearly, we see that the Son is far superior and enjoys a personal relationship with the father. The theological implication of this comparison points the believer towards Jesus as the hero. At times our attention can focus on the servants or other angelic figures, but clearly we see that the only person of worth and honor is Jesus. Further, we see that God speaks finally and fully through Jesus. We have no other need for further revelation than that which is given to us in the Word and through the Son.

Throughout the first few chapters of Hebrews we see clearly a distinction between past and the present till Jesus returns. The ESV study Bible points out these comparisons and states, “Four points of contrast occur between vv. 1 and 2: time of revelation (“long ago” vs. these last days); agent of revelation (“prophets” vs. Son); recipients of revelation (“fathers” vs. us); and, implicitly, the unity of the final revelation in the Son (cf. the “many times and in many ways”[3].

The importance of the first chapters of Hebrews is paramount in our right perspective of Jesus. It sets the stage as Jesus being our source of hope, strength, substance, and salvation. While the tendency might be for us to get distracted by other biblical figures, the point is that Jesus in fact is better. There is direct application to the believer as we look at those in leadership of the church or ministries. It is easy for us to exalt and elevate ministry leaders into areas of authority, which at times can cause us to value them over Jesus. While this may not be intentional, it can easily happen. It is important that we consider Jesus in all that we do. Consider that Jesus is fully supreme and is the perfect example for all things. We can look to him for all our needs. In fact, the characteristics that we find compelling and helpful in ministry leaders are found perfect in Christ. Therefore, it benefits us to look to Christ for all things. He provides true satisfaction and is the perfect example and savior that humanity longs for.


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Heb 1:3.

[2] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Heb 1:1–2.

[3] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2361.

3 Reasons to Respond Graciously When your Theology is Challenged

“I would recommend to all my brethren, as the most necessary thing to the Church’s peace, that you unite in necessary truths, and tolerate tolerable failings; and bear with one another in things that may be borne with; and do not make a larger creed and more necessaries than God has done.” – Richard Baxter

Richard Baxter

As means of communication becomes easier and social media gives just about anyone a platform it’s easy to take shots at other camps based off of sound bites and clips. In all honesty, this is painful for me and I see this occurring all over Facebook and Twitter. On the one hand, its important to have the ability to voice concern but it becomes scary when it turns into a monster fight via social media.

When people find their identity in a theological position, denomination, or conviction and not in Jesus there’s a serious problem. And when Christians make the minors majors it’s a serious problem.

The moment of truth. If you ask me what camp I’m in the easiest answer is to say I’m reformed. But my identity is in Christ. My hope, faith, source of life, is in Jesus. Don’t get me wrong, as a stereotypical “reformed” type I’m absolutely into theology and my favorite books revolve around theology and doctrine. And at times I read blogs and articles that pin point the “reformed tradition” as being ego and intellectually driven, just a fad, or more committed to tradition than Jesus. Regardless of if this is true or not, what matters is my response. I have two choices.

1. Get defensive and attack the other camp
2. Respond graciously

Here are three reasons why I believe the gracious response is always the best option.

1. The scriptures tell us too – Psalm 133:1, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity”. David helps us to illustrate the importance of unity by giving us two examples.

  • Precious oil anointing Aaron – In this imagery we find Aaron who served as high priest being anointed with precious oil. The oil would eventually flow down on his beard and over his chest which would have the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. Essentially, a consecrated, unified, and holy people of God would serve as an example to the rest of the world.
  • Falling dew – Dew served as symbol of refreshing, quickening, and invigoration. Likewise, brotherly unity should cause a resurgence, renewal, and refreshing for the believer.[1]

When responding in these situations we should consider how it will affect the unity of the church universal. If our response destroys unity, it’s not helpful or edifying for the church.

2. It fosters reconciliation not destruction – A gracious response may be the difference in a long and positive relationship. An un gracious response may be the catalyst for a destroyed and lost relationship. A family has fights and arguments. There are often different perspectives and opinions. However, each conversation should be aimed toward reconciliation, the same can and should be said between Christians.

3. It provides a bridge for honest conversations – If we are able to do the first two, the benefit could be an honest dialogue where both parties are heard. Its not about who wins, rather about understanding each others perspective. Our value and ability to live in unity in spite of different perspective on the minors is a thing that honors and edifies the church.

Please don’t misunderstand me. If something is said that falls blatantly outside the framework of the orthodox Christianity, we must address it. In fact, as pastors it is our responsibility to address such matters as we lovingly lead our people. This is not about being passive and not holding to convictions. It’s about holding to convictions while still representing Christ well.

 

 


[1] James E. Smith, The Wisdom Literature and Psalms, Old Testament Survey Series (Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co., 1996), Ps 133:3.

Authentic Friendship

As a child friendship came easy. I remember moving into a new neighborhood and riding my bike down the street listening for the distinctive sound of a basketball bouncing. Once I dialed in on the sound, and found those that were playing, It was instant friendship.

As I get older I realize that friendships, real authentic friendships, don’t come as easy as they used to. There are a variety of reasons for this. We’re older. Were married. We have kids. We have kids (did I say we have kids?).

As I look back at the authentic true friendships that have sustained time, distance, and hardships I can see that there is a common factor that helped to foster such relationships.

living life together

My childhood friends, family, and cousins all have stories we tell and remind ourselves of. When we used to play power rangers and fight over who would be red ranger (Havil). When shadow attacked cecil while he was sleeping (shadow was a puppy and licked Cecil’s face). Spending long hours and night playing music and laughing (Pierre).

In my post college years it was doing an internship with a group of guys and girls. I can’t even tell some of the stories during that internship. But feel free to ask Eric, Ryan, Edwin, Carlos, Julio, or Caleb. A favorite story is Eric breaking Caleb’s headlight by throwing a chair at it. Ohh..and an X-box…(probably still to soon). One of those girls became my wife and mother of my three children.

Church planting with an incredible pastor (Steve) and some of my best friends. Leading worship for kids camp and drowning Borris with water on stage (Sean). Late night talks on the porch talking theology, life, and ministry (Steve, Levi, Vincent).

There are hundreds more stories like these. I’ve come to the realization that some of these early friendships will always hold a special place. They were forged out of experience, challenge, love, and laughter.

As we get older these moments seem to get shorter. We get caught up in life, work, and family. All these things are good but it means it takes more work to build authentic friendships. Here are a few things I suggest that may help build authentic friendships as you get older.

1. Be intentional about living life together
2. Look for shared likes, hobbies, that you can build around
3. Share your story. What has God done in your life and why are you where you are?

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Would you preach till your vocal chords gave out?

40 years of passionately loving a church and faithfully preaching the Gospel.

I get to travel a lot for work (Logos Bible Software) and this week I’m at Hillside Christian Church for the Jud Wilhite God of Yes tour.

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Best part, my dear friend from college Erik is the tech director. As he gave me a tour of the facility I got to hear the story of the church. The story that stuck out was about the last senior pastor who transitioned out after 40 years preaching from the pulpit. In fact, today, he has to get injections in his vocal cords to be able to whisper. It makes me consider the amount of passion and drive that motivates someone to such lengths.

What motivates you? Do you believe in something so passionately?

Ohh, as we were touring that same pastor was walking around the office loving on the staff at the church. Really makes me consider what kind of legacy I will leave…

Time – A Precious Commodity

A dad bought Logos for his daughter at the PlanetShakers conference in Dallas. We began to talk as he filled out the order form and I noticed instantly the bond between father and daughter. So I asked – how did you establish such a close relationship with your daughter?

He replied –

Time is the most important thing. People won’t remember what you say or promise… But they remember the moments you were there for them.

So, I’ve committed to take time out of what feels like a busy day to do silly things like take selfies and send them back and forth to my son. These moments refresh and energize me. Ohh..and my son is pretty handsome… :).

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Solving the time consumption of blogging

It’s been really hard to keep up on the blog. However, there is so much I want to write about, but can’t seem to find the time. I think partly because I want my writing to be refined and have some level of editing done.

What if I didn’t care about that? I could write a lot more just on my iPhone or iPad. So…I’m trying a new experiment. I’m going to blog using my phone or iPad and not be as focused on the fine details of editorial. This will drive the marketing communications team at Logos crazy. But it’s all good.

My hope – to wrote more often and share more experiences as I travel and meet some incredible people.