Posts Tagged ‘Pastor Mike

09
Feb
10

How to be a Worship Leader – Part 2

In part one of this study I defined being a worship leader in these terms:

To be respected, and therefore to influence others for the advancement of the Kingdom via your daily display of heart-felt humble adoration and reverence of God in all you do.

Or to put it more simply: acting out your total love, praise, and thankfulness to God the Father, in every action you take and through this example, inspiring others to do the same.

You may think this sounds intimidating and therefore might wonder, “Do I have a responsibility to others?”

Jesus was once asked the greatest commandment of all and in responding he gave us two. In that second commandment he commits us all to acts of service to others. In Matthew 22:39 Jesus says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The logical result of this order of things that God has put before us is simple; you are not the priority, God is #1 and the service of others follows. God didn’t tell us to love ourselves first, then treat others in a similar way. No, he directs that the capacity we have to exalt ourselves needs to be spent in exalting others. Put plainly, it is to be God first and others second.

So how do we do this? A systematic Bible study reveals a 4-part doctrine, or foundation of worship:
Biblical worship must be done in love. No love – no worship (1 Corinthians 13)
Biblical worship is always accompanied by humility and reverent fear (Isaiah 66:2)
Biblical worship is commanded by God (Luke 10:27/Matthew 22)
Biblical worship involves surrendering your entire life as an offering to God (Romans 12:1)

Love, humility and reverence, obedience, surrender…

This begs the question, so how in fact do we lead others with our worship of God? The four foundations of worship is a lot to handle, and I will admit that I do not always feel capable of being a worship leader. Most of us feel handicapped in our ability to influence others, especially when it comes to relationships. In her job my wife works with disabled children every day. To put the concept of being handicapped in perspective for all of us, here is a revelation that she discovered:

My life is forever changed because of what I have learned about the power that He {God} really did create us all equally! I remember when I asked God what makes handicapped people different from me or the all the other people, Why did He create them so different? And He spoke to me very clearly and said, “The difference between them and you is that their handicaps are on the outside in plan view for everyone to see and yours are on the inside and can be camouflaged so there is really no difference”…So I learned we are equal!

We all have the similar levels of deficiency; some people just have the ability to mask theirs a little better than others. So I say, get over it, don’t be intimidated by people’s camouflage and begin to see yourself as a leader from the position that God has planted you in. Yes that’s right, no matter where you sit in the sanctuary for a worship service, no matter what chair you find yourself at during the work week, no matter what group of people you find yourself in relationship with inside or outside the church, all of us are to be leaders from whatever position we hold. God gave us a beautiful picture of how the Body of Christ works together in Paul’s epistle 1 Corinthians chapter 12. In part he says, “in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.”

Since we have been given a responsibility to lead, and God placed us where we are at, it seems we all must step up and claim our position of authority in Christ and how we interact with the world and others. And yet you still may not think of yourself as a leader. The next time we will cover the idea of being a lead worshipper vs. being a worship leader.

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02
Feb
10

How to be a Worship Leader

When you hear the term “worship leader” what comes to mind? Likely it is this: a man or woman who is a musician, typically one who plays the guitar or piano, standing in front of a group of people singing songs that you are invited to follow along with, and in following this person’s lead, you will hopefully connect with God.

That is not an inaccurate picture since the official definition of “worship leader” is: a musician or singer who leads a congregation in musical expression of worship. Most people do not consider themselves worship leaders and additionally, they believe they never will be. This is based in the notion that to be a worship leader you must be a vocalist or instrumentalist. I challenge that today, and suggest that being a worship leader is not predicated on whether or not you can lead people in song with your voice or with an instrument. Stick with me and I think you will find that not only can you be a worship leader in your own right, but that you actually have a responsibility to be a worship leader.

Let’s start with a breakdown of what the term worship leader actually means. This may seem obvious, but to be a worship leader, you must first be a leader.

A “leader” is defined as a person who “leads or exhibits leadership.” Leadership can have a formal aspect, as in most political or business leadership, or an informal one, as in most friendships. Speaking of “leadership” usually implies that the persons doing the leading have some leadership skills or competencies. Several types of people may provide or exhibit leadership, including:

– A person in the position of authority
– A person in a position associated with expertise, skill, or experience
– A group of respected people

You can see that leadership implies a relationship of power — the power to guide others. Better put, it is the ability of an individual to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward the effectiveness and success of the organizations of which they are members. All of us have been the benfactors of leaders and leadership in one form or another.

Second, and hopefully just as obvious, to be a worship leader you must also be a worshipper.

The English definition of worship is: honor and adoration, admiration and respect, directed to God. Now while the English Bible uses one word for Worship, the Hebrew and Greek texts use 10 different words to define it. In the New Testament, two of them particularly are noteworthy:

Proskuneo (e.g. Matthew 2:2, John 4:24): it means “to kiss the hand,” or “to bow down,” it is the word used to signify humble adoration and reverence. And second, Latreuo (e.g. Philippians 3:3): used 21 times in the NT, it means “to serve” or “to minister” it suggests rendering honor, or paying homage.

The act of worshiping is fundamental to who we are as people. Christian theologians have defined humanity as “homo adorans,” which means, the “worshipping man,” and thus the worship of God is at the very core of what it means to be human. Rick Warren puts it this way, “Worship is any expression of our love to God – for who he is, for what he said, and what he’s doing.”

Rick suggests that “any” expression is valid as an act of worship. I agree with him. You see, as Christians, we are instructed that everything we do on a daily basis needs to be offered up to the Lord as worship: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Thus, we can conclude that worship involves offering ALL we have to God: “Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship” Romans 12:1

Therefore, I define being a worship leader in these terms:

To be respected, and therefore to influence others for the advancement of the Kingdom via your daily display of heart-felt humble adoration and reverence of God in all you do.

Or to put it more simply: acting out your total love, praise, and thankfulness to God, in every action you take and through this example, inspiring others to do the same.

You may think this sounds intimidating. Next time, I will provide some insight into understanding our responsibility to lead.

02
Dec
09

Losing My Religion?

Once when I was covering the pastor-on-call an email came through from a church member asking about whether or not we can lose our salvation. Here is my answer:

We believe that once saved, always saved.  This is known by the term “perseverance of the Saints.”  I.e. if someone is saved, and they persevere to the end of their life here on earth as saved, they are truly born again.  We hold to a reformed theology on this subject, that a truly born again individual cannot lose their faith.  John 6:38-40 shows that “every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”  Another scripture is John 10:27-29 where we read “…I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish…and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”  Many more passages exist to support the view of the perseverance of the Saints including Romans 8:1 and 8:30.  Ephesians 1 says we are “sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit” and it is the “guarantee of our inheritance.”  There are so many other passages to support this perspective.  There are people who are close to the church that appear as if they have a genuine saving faith, but actually don’t. The best example I can think of is Judas who apparently exhibited saving faith but ultimately was not truly saved (Jesus called him the “devil”).  And also Jesus says in Matthew 7 “Not everyone who says to me “Lord, Lord” shall enter the kingdom…”  If a person exhibits behavior that does not line up with one of a saved, and sanctified individual, it calls into question whether or not they were truly saved to begin with.  As I said, we do not believe that you can lose your salvation.  The Armenian view that you can lose your salvation often uses Hebrews 6:4-6 as the main basis for their argument: 

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away,to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned – Hebrews 6:4-8 (NKJV)

In this scriptural example (reading on through verses 7 and 8), those who receive final judgment are compared to land which bears no fruit but rather bears thorns and thistles.  It appears that the author of Hebrews is referring to fruitlessness, and in scripture we see this as a sign of someone who is not a believer (see Matt 3:8-10; 7:15-20; 12:33-35). I.e. if you bear no fruit, you are likely not saved.  In John 15 Jesus says “every branch of mine that bears no fruit…” showing that there are branches that are fruitless.  Armenians use this verse to imply that branches that bear no fruit are still true branches on the vine.  We would say they are counterfeits. The term “enlightened” in verse 4 of the Hebrews passage simply means that they understand the truth of the Gospel, not that they have entered into a saving faith.  The argument for losing your faith is just not convincing enough when we have so much overwhelming evidence to support the reformed view.

27
Aug
09

Acts of Micro-Good Samaritanism

Yesterday just as I pulled up to a stoplight I noticed an SUV pulling a trailer and from this trailer was about 8 feet of chain dragging behind it. Right about that time a Harley pulled up next to me, the guy parked his bike, jumped off, fixed the chain, got back on his bike and we all pulled away. The guy on the bike didn’t say anything to the driver of the SUV. I considered that maybe they were a pair driving on the road together, but then within a few hundred feet he turned off the highway not to be seen again. Miles later the SUV made his turnoff as well, apparently having reached his destination, unaware that someone had done something kind for him, and that his life was improved as a result. He would never know it was even done, or the name or face of the guy who did it. The road was made much safer by this biker’s act of what I call micro-Good Samaritanism.

I wondered how long that chain had been dragging, and how many people had seen it, but done nothing. Nothing to warn the driver or even, as this good citizen of the road did, actually make the effort to resolve a potentially dangerous situation. He took no credit, did not even want it. He just performed a good deed for his fellow man.

We read the story of the Good Samaritan in the Bible, in the book of Luke, chapter 10. This is one of the stories recorded that Jesus himself told. The setting is a lawyer who is asking Jesus some questions regarding going to Heaven. The lawyer knows he is to love his “neighbor,” but he asks, “who is my neighbor?” At its core the story is about human kindness and mercy. Jesus defines the concept of loving-your-neighbor-as-yourself in a parable about a guy who was mugged and is lying beat up on the side of the road. Some people walked by the man who was in dire need of medical help (including a priest!), but only the Samaritan stopped, and went out of his way to help him. Later in the story we see that he cannot stay to continue to help the man so he pays for the services and departs. It is obvious the Samaritan was busy and like many of us, was on his way somewhere that was important to him. Yet he stopped and helped, sacrificing time and money for someone who was a cultural enemy.

I am not a big fan of the term “random acts of kindness.” The word “random” is popular today, it’s one of those trendy in-fashion terms that come and go. The challenge I have is that “random” implies lack of intentionality. I suggest we make it a lifestyle to take time out of our lives, the small investment of getting outside of yourself and your world, to perform intentional acts of kindness to our fellow man.

We were on a road trip once driving through a canyon highway, and I saw a car parked on the side of the highway near the road edge where a river ran deep in the canyon. I saw a little girl sitting on the ground behind the car and some adults standing some distance away. The Holy Spirit spoke to me saying one word: “stop.” I passed the car and slowly rolled to a halt some distance ahead (I had Dina and my two very young children in the car and wanted to survey the lay of the land first). What I discovered was that a woman had thrown herself from a moving car, in distress and despair, trying to commit suicide. She was now about half way down the cliff face perched on a rock. Her family members and friends were milling about, shouting, etc. not sure what to do. The little 5-year old girl was her daughter. The 911 call required a drive up the canyon in order to get service. In the end, many calls of encouragement and hope to the woman on the cliff (she wanted to finish the job by jumping again), a valiant State Trooper, a length of rope, and loving on the little girl, ended the situation with mom being reunited with her daughter in tears and many thanks from the family. We left and continued our trip.

As we drove away, I wondered how many people had driven past on the highway and did not stop? Consider this as you go about your day today, will you be intentional about spreading the love of Christ in small ways where you may not even be known, but would bring glory to God in Heaven? What act of micro-Good Samaritanism can you do for someone else, just by opening up your eyes a little bit more to the world around you?

06
Jun
09

Mando Power

This week we have been experimenting in the studio.  And in the words of Bruce Dickenson, yes the Bruce Dickenson “exploring the studio space.”  In the course of things I found myself with a mandolin in my hands cutting some tracks for a tune of Julian’s.  This one’s for you Ted.

mando power

24
May
09

The Dark (K)night – part 2

Last year I posted on the subject of the state of our culture and this was motivated by the brouhaha related to what at the time was a blockbuster new movie, the latest in the Batman franchise, The Dark Knight.  This post eventually has become the 5th most popular ever on this blog and stirred up a lot of feedback from people (on and off line).  I had not seen the movie when I wrote my original thoughts.  A few weeks ago I actually saw The Dark Night and I wrote a reply to my own original post as an update.  Read on…

I was recently on a trip and a friend loaned me “The Dark Knight” to watch on the plane. Having written this post several months back but never seeing the movie, my curiosity was piqued. I decided to pop it in and watch it on my laptop.

I had to stop the movie since the flight was over and normally I would not have finished it because I wasn’t really enjoying it that much. But then I recalled that this original posting got a lot of traffic and lots of conversation, and honestly, some people were a little upset at me. I decided to watch it to it’s conclusion so I could post this follow up.

My first impression as I watched is that the movie wasn’t as sadistic as it was originally reported to have been. Yes, the Joker was quite disturbing. They did a fine job with his makeup and Heath Ledger did a fantastic job acting quite insane, psychopathic, intelligent, and maniacal. But were elements of this movie “heinous” as I mentioned in my original post? Was this really “Saw-light?” (I will say parenthetically that the comparison to “Saw” is not unfair since the morality choice/murder/sicko-methodology combo thing would not be in The Dark Knight if it were not for that series of very popular films.)

I’ll start with positives and a cool-factor. As mentioned before, Heath Ledger did a fine job acting. And the Harvey Dent/Two face character was also well done. Honestly, the Two Face situation was a welcome surprise in the movie even if I felt that just because they *could* show us graphically how disturbing he became, I wondered why they really needed to (back to the whole should-have-been-rated-R discussion). How can you ever really go wrong with Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman? And Christian Bale is an acceptable Batman, really the best the franchise history I suppose. And the cell-phone radar thing was a really cool special effect and an idea that worked.

Fast forward to the end of the movie; my first impression had changed. I had witnessed a man cut open and a cell phone/detonation device sewn into his stomach, then blown up remotely killing everyone in the jail/police station with him. I had seen people given a moral choice in pulling a trigger and killing hundreds of men, women, and children on a ferry boat before the people on the other boat made the same choice to kill them (yes, they didn’t do it, but I will point out that the vote taken was overwhelmingly in favor of doing it). We saw a hospital blown to smithereens room by room and during that time we do not know if the patients are in their rooms or not. And yes, there are the multiple times when the Joker takes his knife and slices open people’s faces just like was apparently done to him (though we never really know how or who did it, another dangling plot line). On this last point I heard people say “yeah but you didn’t see it on screen” which basically blows me away. In my most “duh” statement I have ever written on this blog: just because we don’t see it doesn’t mean we don’t know it was done. Do you really need to see it for it to be corrupt or if it’s off screen do we somehow place it in a redemptive category? I vote not since our minds can fill in the blanks.

I didn’t like things about this movie that I guess others either a) overlook or b) somehow expect in a superhero movie: the plot line is thin and strays, I think the hero (Batman) is 2 dimensional, people pop up when you least expect with no explanation of how they got there, villains make silly choices, guys who should know better don’t, the police chief is always made out to be bumbling, Batman’s mysterious code of honor is cloaked in mysterious dialogue of mush, most of the action sequences are too dark to understand what is actually happening, and dangling plots abound. Normal fare for a superhero movie unless it’s named “Spiderman.”

There are movies I have seen that delve into the depravity of the human condition and have sparked interest in discussing redemption. Batman did not do any of that but only left lasting impressions of gross images.

In the end, I walked away with a “whatever” personal experience. The movie was not that good and the really bad guy (the Joker) didn’t get what he deserved, the really good guy (Harvey Dent) didn’t get what he deserved, and the “good” guy (Batman) didn’t get what he deserved (which is somehow where people come off calling him a “Christ figure”). But maybe America got what it deserved which was another movie with a bunch of Satan in it since we seem to love it so much.

Some say Heath Ledger went insane portraying the Joker and his death was the result of the role. It seems Mr. Ledger got so close to the devil it likely killed him. I ask you to ask yourself and the Holy Spirit why you would get close to anything that has that potential? Kind of sounds like the forbidden fruit conundrum.

17
May
09

Hello Vineyard

“Hello, hello, I don’t know why you say goodbye I say hello” – The Beatles

There are many twists and turns, rises and falls, on the road of life.  There are goodbye seasons, which can be bittersweet, and there are hello seasons, which are full of wonder and discovery. Sometimes God takes us down paths in our lives that are unexpected but the result is so amazing.

It’s like the father who is taking his son to his first trip to the zoo.  “Where are we going daddy?” the son asks.  “You’ll see,” says the father with the knowledge that his expectant son will absolutely love where they are going.  The father knows that when they get there his son will be excited and it will be a great experience and he will likely remember it for the rest of his life, so he holds back to get the pleasure of seeing that look of joy and discovery on his son’s face.  Our heavenly Father does that for us sometimes.  I really wish that I knew what was happening next, but God says, “Just wait, it’s going to be good,” and somehow He loves that element of surprise.  God knows, we don’t, and He’s good with that.  The little boy trusts his daddy, just as we should trust our Daddy in heaven.

Dina and I have been in a transition period in our lives.  Transitions are uncomfortable and this particular season was the most painful and difficult of Dina’s and my life. Always there is the unknown, and many times we asked, what’s next Father?  In response our loving God opened up door after door to lead us to a group of Jesus-followers that have a refreshing purity about them in their walk with the Lord and their fellowship with each other; so much so that it seems a special impartation of the Holy Spirit loves this place and has taken up residency there.  In hindsight, the road to this church was an easy one.  An email from an old friend, a coffee with a new friend, meeting, greeting, connecting, praying, plugging in, God speaking, and finally a sense of peace.  I wish all life decisions were this smooth.  In a time when Dina and I could have been hard-headed about what’s next and laid out our own agenda of what the future should look like, God had a special plan for us.  And now that we are here, full of wonder, we absolutely love it.

Isaiah 40:31 says “but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”  We had patience and let the Lord lead us.  There really is no other choice.  You must trust.  www.vineyardcs.org




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