Worship

Here you go ladies and gentlemen.  A sample chapter from the book I’ve been working on about worship.  It is still developing very slowly as God continues to show me more and more each week about leading His worshippers.  Feedback is always welcome.  Enjoy!

Preparing For Battle

Worship is our response to God. In other words, we don’t initiate worship; God does.-Louie Giglio

I can still remember the coldness of the metal bench beneath my legs as I stared into my equipment locker at North Harford High School in the fall of 1998.  I can hear the pounding of taped fists against the walls outside of the locker room hallway.  I can hear the slaps of open palms hitting the painted hawk that held our team’s motto in it’s claws above the exit to the field.  I can hear my team captain whispering words of victory and charges to hit as hard as we could while we encircled him in a sphere of green and gold football jerseys.  Beyond those moments of intensity I don’t recall too much else.

You see, I was terrible at football my freshman year.  I played one or two games, and watched the rest of the season from the bench.  I never caught a touchdown.  I never intercepted a pass.  I never celebrated in the end zone, and yet, the one thing I remember vividly is the preparation for the game.

When we worship we are preparing for battle.  A lot of people come to church with the mindset of, “Oh we’ll sing a few songs and then hear a message and go home.”  Some come with the mindset of, “I can’t wait to sing on Sunday!  It’s my favorite part of the week!”  While others maintain the outlook of, “I’m a terrible singer.  How many more choruses until we get to sit down?”

None of those pre-conceived notions are necessarily bad within themselves.  I’ve been to churches where I either fell asleep or played games on my phone until it was time to leave.  I’ve been to churches where the worship was incredible but as soon as it was finished we would leave because the speaker was terrible.  I’ve also been to that church where the Pastor’s wife is the Music Director and they sing “Come now is the time to worship” every week.

Looking back on all the worship experiences I’ve had, and now that I am a lead worshipper at a church, I couldn’t help but begin to explore in my own heart why we worship.  As I began to journey through that process I came across this first and foremost.

Worship is the time when we prepare to hear God’s Word.

Whether the service was boring, engaging, or outdated; that time was still there for me to prepare my heart to hear what God had to say.  It’s disappointing to look back and see all the missed opportunities because of my own selfishness, pride, or genuine lack of interest.  It’s also invigorating to know that from this point on I can look forward to that time of preparation every week.

There’s a prayer warrior in our church community named Maureen.  Maureen is the type of lady who, if you asked her to pray for something and you forgot about it, she’d still be praying about it years down the road.  Maureen is a relentless source of encouragement.  She prays specifically for the worship all week long, and her prayers aren’t just for the time spent in worship on Sunday morning, they’re also for the hearts of the leaders, that they will be seeking the Lord in all that they do.  Maureen shared this piece of scripture with me a few months ago.

In 2nd Chronicles 20 Jehoshaphat received word that a great multitude was coming to invade Judah from beyond the sea.  This information terrified Jehoshaphat, so he sought the Lord and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.

Can you imagine if that happened in this day and age?  All of a sudden our President receives word of another nation plotting to invade our homeland and the first decision he or she makes is to seek the Lord and declare a fast throughout our nation?

In verses 5 through 13, Jehoshaphat is standing in the Assembly of Judah and Jerusalem and everyone from Judah is there with their wives and children.  Jehoshaphat begins praying out loud to God saying that they don’t know what to do because they are “powerless before this great multitude” and he says, “…but our eyes are on You.”

This is an incredible instruction on what to do when you need guidance as a leader.  Jehoshaphat is in charge.  The entire nation of Judah and Jerusalem is looking to him for direction and he immediately seeks God for wisdom.

God decides to use Jahaziel the son of Zechariah to speak to Jehoshaphat.  In verses 15-17 he says this,

“Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.  Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel.  You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.’ “

Did you catch what Jahaziel says halfway through his declaration?  “You will not have to fight this battle,” and yet he tells them to “take up your positions.”  Even though they won’t have to fight, they still have to prepare for battle.

The next morning the scriptures say that they went out into the wilderness of Tekoa and Jehoshaphat tells them to put their trust in the Lord and they will be “established.”

The Hebrew word for “established” is ‘aman which literally means “pillars.”

The next part is amazing.  Verses 21-24 say this,

After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:

“Give thanks to the LORD,
for his love endures forever.”

As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. The men of Ammon and Moab rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped.

The worshippers went ahead of the army.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel comfortable sending our percussion section as our first line of attack in any situation!  What’s so fascinating to me is that it wasn’t until they began to sing that the Lord destroyed the armies who were invading Judah.  The battle was not theirs but the Lord’s.

I shared that scripture and story with the worship band that Sunday morning after I finished listening to Maureen and something happened.  From that day forward there was a new sense of trust within the team.  There was an unspoken unity that bonded us and fed our worship leading since that morning.  It has become highly contagious within our community.  Once there was an understanding that what we were doing wasn’t simply an opening act for the teacher, but a necessary time of preparing hearts to hear God’s truth, we drew near to one another in an amazing way.

What would happen if we began to look at our time of worship every week as the time in which we prepare for battle?  What would happen if we allowed ourselves to trust in the Lord so that we would become like pillars?  What would happen if we began trusting God instead of our own talents?

Our worship experience shouldn’t hinge on loops and clicks.  Our time of adoration shouldn’t reflect only abilities and gifts.  Our morning coffee dose of singsong melodies and dropouts shouldn’t define us as worshippers.  On the contrary all of those things should become like the coolness of air as the sun sets.  Those things must become an aftereffect of something far greater than themselves.  Those things must get lost in something bigger like a single ceramic in a tile mural.

Consider your worship time this week and prepare.  Allow God to open up your heart to what He has to say to you and let His love invade every fiber of your being.  He knows you love Him.  He loves that you love Him.  Let Him begin to work in you to show you more of Him, so you can love more of Him.  Worship this week in preparation to hear God’s truth in your life.


10 books…you know the drill

Number 5

The furious longing of God by Brennan Manning

***** out of *****

furious-longing

If you could put the groanings of my spirit into words they would read verbatim from this work.

Brennan Manning literally changed my life in college with his book, The signature of Jesus.  He then proceeded to change my world upon the finding of Ragamuffin Gospel.  Brennan Manning was the doorway to Henri Nouwen, Rich Mullins, and Donald Miller.  I’ve been anxiously awaiting his next book and bought it the day it came out.

The furious longing of God explains the why without degrading the how.  A lot of writers today can’t seem to pair the two, yet Manning eloquently sews them together while leaving just enough pull to let you piece them together for yourself.

Hands down 5 out of 5.

10 books i’ve read this year so far…the good the bad the poorly written

Number 6

Be our Guest by Disney Institute

***** out of *****

be our guest book

This is the perfect book for a church leader that doesn’t always pay attention to detail (me!)

This is a look inside the disney institute that shows you how to best serve the people who come to your business, church, whatever.  Here’s a snippet from an overview from Amazon.

Be Our Guest outlines proven Disney principles and processes for helping your organization focus its vision and align its people and infrastructure into a cohesive strategy that delivers on the promise of exceptional customer service.

A great read and a useful leadership tool!

Bottom line 5 out of 5.

10 books i’ve read this year so far…the good the bad the poorly written

Number 8

Through Painted Deserts by Donald Miller

***** out of *****

TPD

I found myself lost.  Completely and utterly unable to find my way back to reality or even lift my eyes once I opened this book.  I wasn’t simply reading another great work of Donald Miller. No, I was sitting in the back of the beat up van he and Paul were taking to Portland and joining in on every conversation they had.  I was there, or at least Miller somehow found a way to capture my mind through his words to take me there and allow me to experience the entire trip without the slightest distraction.

Favorite quote from the book:

…that is who we are; this is our name and this is our skin and this is how we chew, and we are, in large part, what somebody else tells us we are, and we never stop to think of how crazy the whole thing is.  We never stop to ask why all of this is happening to us, about the why as opposed to the how…

If you need a break from ‘a ha’ authors and worthless books that give you 5 steps to a better you and 19 steps to knowing all the answers about everything and i know everything because i have shiny teeth and am on TBN, then pick this book up.

It will help you question the ‘why’ instead of the ‘how’.

Bottom Line 5 out of 5 stars.

10 Books I’ve read this year so far…The Good The Bad The Poorly written

Number 9

Vintage Jesus by Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears

***** out of *****

vintage-jesusIf you know anything about me, you know I love Jesus.  So, if there’s a book written about Jesus in any way shape or form, I’ve either read it, or it’s on my ever growing ‘to read’ shelf next to my desk.

I’ve been discipling  a young worship leader that serves at our high school ministry and on Sunday mornings and we were looking to go through a book together.  I chose this because I dig Driscoll and have heard great things about the resurgence lit movement that’s begun.

Needless to say, if you have ANY questions about Jesus, then this is the book for you!

Driscoll and Breshears offer scripturally based answers to all kinds of questions that all of us have been asked and replied with ‘that’s a good question.’

Sample quote from the chapter “What difference has Jesus made in history?”

Unlike most religions, Christianity has no place, language, race or culture that serves as a center to hold it together.  Christians share no worldwide headquarters, no common language, no common race or ethnic heritage, and no common cultural framework.  The only thing that holds all of Christianity together is the risen Lord Jesus Christ who is alive today.

I appreciate Driscoll’s in your face-this is true because i believe it to be true and if you have any questions here’s a crap load of historical and scriptural references you can wade through while you attempt to raise your fourth grade reading level to understand exactly what exegesis means approach to each question as he and Breshears unravel them slowly but boldly like unwrapping a present that has been carefully and elegantly presented to you at Christmas.

Please go buy this book.

It is helpful.

It is accurate on all levels.

It is intelligently written and spiritually led.

Bottom line 5 out of 5 stars.


10 Books I’ve read this year so far…the good the bad the poorly written

Number 10

The Divine Commodity by Skye Jethani

** out of *****

divine_commodity_home

I read four books while on my honeymoon this week (I know I’m a freak) and this was book number three out of four.

I find Jethani’s perspective interesting on church ‘branding’ and his view of the American Church and how it operates.

It was a lot to chew on and am very grateful to Anne Jackson for opening me up to this book but I’m not sold completely.

I’ll make this short and as painless as possible.

Jethani had great points and backed up everything nicely.

Spoiler Alert!!!! It all boils down to doing what Jesus commanded us to do (in 171 pages)!!!!

I underlined several paragraphs while I read::::unfortunately everything I underlined was Jethani quoting someone else.

It was wordy and would have liked less Van Gogh references.  Imagination.  I get it.  Please no more terrible impressionistic paintings, give me more Jesus!

Over all I give it two stars out of five.

Nothing personal.  No agenda.  Just didn’t like it.  More to come tomorrow.

This Book Changed My Life…..

How often do we say this one sentence?  I say it three times a month because I read 3-4 books/month and they do have an enormous impact on my life, walk and relationship with God.

Why doesn’t that sentence leave my lips about this book?

bible

I’ve been walking through Joshua and the Timothy’s this month.  My prayer is that the sentence “I’m reading this book and it’s changing my life!” will leave my stupid mouth more than the commentaries I engulf on a weekly basis.

What about you?  What are you reading?