Posts Tagged ‘Praise and Worship

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.

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.

11
Apr
09

Destinysong

A year ago today I was rejoicing in a successful evening of Easter services (and preparing for more on Sunday!).  I rejoiced in the opportunity for believers to celebrate our Savior’s resurrection and those who made first time decisions for Christ.  It was by far my favorite Easter program I ever had the fortune of participating in, let alone to lead.  (For video of that service, check out the videos section of this blog.)  It was a weekend of rejoicing for all God had done, and continued to do in many ways in our lives.  This weekend we have a different kind of milestone to celebrate.  God is so good.  A few months ago, a very Holy Spirit inspired couple asked a simple question to Dina and I, “when will [we] build the studio?”  Little did we know they were planning to mobilize this effort.  See, it has been a dream of mine to have a professional recording studio located right in our own home for many years.  We have built 3 home studios (2 in basements and 1 in a bedroom) and have produced several projects out of these studios (and actually ended up with a few good ones).  But I always wanted to take it to the next level.  The first time Dina and I drove onto our property here in the Black Forest we saw a detached and oversized garage and the first words out of our mouths were “that’s where the studio will go.”  Well here we are some years later and the dream has come true.  In the most unlikely of times and under the most unlikely of circumstances, inspired by our amazing friends who have sacrificed in a huge financial way, propelled by big vision from the Lord for change in the world, and seen to fulfillment by a small group of believers who still believe in miracles, Destinysong is now a reality.  Today, Dina, Julian, Jasmine and I put the finishing touches on the studio and officially moved in our first bits of gear.  I stood in amazement that God would bless us in this way.  And the elation I felt one year ago in the fullness of how great an Easter Celebration could be, is only eclipsed by my utter astonishment at how the faithfulness of a few can birth a vision into a reality.  I have been posting pictures on the Destinysong website for the past 3 months to show the progress of the building project, and as soon as the weather clears, I’ll snap a few more of the beautiful, final product.  Check out our website here (or click on the link in the sidebar) and I pray that all of you are blessed as you celebrate the resurrection of Jesus tomorrow!

31
Mar
09

CompassionArt

Okay so is it just me or does anyone else feel the drought in new worship music releases?  The “latest” worship albums I have been spinning are all from last year.  So do yourselves a favor, stop what you are doing right now and go out and get the newly released CD “CompassionArt.”  This CD was totally an unexpected pleasure to acquire.  To give you a framework for it, this project is the vision of Martin and Anna Smith (Martin being of delirious? notoriety).  The idea is to get some of the best worship songwriters in the world together (Martin, Darlene Zschech, Chris Tomlin, Israel Houghton, Matt Redman to name just a few), link people up in two’s and three’s and see if they could whip up some righteous new worship songs (my verdict is they succeeded).  Secondly, get in the studio and have a bunch of these same songwriters and some cool guests (Kirk Franklin, Leeland, Any Grant, etc.) record a full blown album that sounds great (again, my verdict is they succeeded) and have all proceeds go to charity (and yes, this means ALL proceeds including an agreement with CCLI to not bank off of church play).  This album was a pleasant surprise and I recommend it to anyone.  Go get it!

On another note, the aforementioned delirious? just released a live CD/DVD project recorded on their tour stop in Columbia.  Just watching and listening to these guys I always am amazed at their humility and talent and how much they have paved the way for all modern worship over the past 15 years.  If you have never truly experienced d: this is certainly a good starting point.  That said, it’s a bittersweet offering since it’s likely their last.  Martin and Stu have decided to focus their efforts on future CompassionArt projects and so they have announced the band will shut er’ down at the end of this year.  Sniff sniff.

18
Jan
09

When all Around Has Fallen

One the best songs ever written is “When All Around Has Fallen” by Martin Smith of delirious?  This song has ministered to me over the years on many occasion.  Music has a unique quality in that, even when we are not open to it, it has the power to pierce through our human walls and drive an emotional lightening bolt or even act as warming honey to our hurting souls.   Sometimes, even at the most unsuspecting of moments, music calls and draws us out from the darkest places.  But just as powerfully, it can take an emotional and spiritual high and, just like lift to a bird or airplane, raise us up even higher than we thought possible in a magical kind of way.  It is no wonder I have come to the conclusion that music was created by God, for His purposes.  It is a supernatural thing.  

The song “When all around has fallen” acknowledges our human frailty, but also honors the true faithful.  (The line “you used to be a king here” makes me think of the times when we find ourselves on the mountaintop, and we live there for some time, there creeps in a sense of ownership and appointment by God.  Yes, God does use man to accomplish His purposes, and chooses to promote and to cast down.  This is a radical concept and reality that affects us all.  But I have seen that some people focus on the “anointing” a bit too much, often in my experience, to the point where they are looking and seeking for an anointed person, and when they find that person, they lift them up.  They feel compelled to tell that person how anointed they are and they lift that person onto a pedestal.  This can create in a person like myself a strong sense of obligation to fulfill those people’s needs and expressed desires.)

Martin Smith has a way of being open and honest in his lyric writing.  Often times I feel as if I am getting a peek into his personal journal when I listen to his music.  That certainly goes for this song.  It expresses in a profound and deep way the things I have walked through the past few weeks.  Today I was on my way back from a lunch with a dear friend and local worship pastor and I put this song on.  I stopped by our regional park and just sat and listened to it and let the words minister to me.  I’ll admit, any song that has a Jesus perspective in it sometimes comes off as irreverent to me.  I often think, “who is man to think he can identify with Jesus?”  But since I have been through a personal tragedy of lifetime-changing proportions, I am just now beginning to understand what Paul refers to in Philippians 3:10 as the “fellowship of his suffering.”

“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death”

This past year contained the most shocking surprise of my life; that of betrayal.  I never thought the things that transpired were possible to happen to my family and me.  But for some reason, God allowed this to happen.  I praise God that in times like this we can turn to Jesus and he will lift us up, carry us, and give us the peace that passes all understanding, reminding us that the really important things in life are unchanging.

When All Around Has Fallen

When all around has fallen your castle has been burned
You used to be a king here now no one knows your name
You live your life for honour, defender of the faith
But you’ve been crushed to pieces and no one knows your pain

Come, come lay your weary head be still my friend
Come, rise I’ll place my sword upon your shoulder
Come, rise with me

When tomorrow has been stolen and you can’t lift your head
And summer feels like winter your heart is full of stone
Though all your hopes have fallen your skin is now your only armour
Wear your scars like medals defender of the faith

Come, come lay your weary head be still my friend
Come, rise I’ll place my sword upon your shoulder
Come, come lay your faithful head, be still my friend
Come rise with me

Written by Martin Smith ©1995 Curious? Music UK

10
Dec
08

Easter 2008 Video

I have added a new video and it’s of our Easter service earlier this year.  As far as Easter services over the years go, I will say this is likely my favorite program we ever did (and we did it 5 times that weekend).  It was the first time we played songs (originals) we wrote in-house on a Resurrection Weekend.  The service you see here (6:30PM Saturday) is actually where “With all the Heavens” and “Salvation’s Story” from the worship:three CD came from.  Everyone involved on all fronts was just fantastic and I really  believe Jesus was properly honored and 75+ people made first time decisions for Christ!  It’s a little hard to watch if you know what I mean…I sure loved MSC and the assignment we had…

(Might take a long time to load based on your internet connection speed.  Sermon edited out for file size/load time.)

I’d like to hear your comments to so please post some replies…

02
Oct
08

Song of Living Praise

Click Here to Listen: Song of Living Praise  As most of you know, we’re all about writing a new song to the Lord here at MSC.  We just recorded a Concert of Praise and over the next few months we’ll be producing it and creating our 4th CD.  In preparation for that event we recorded some of our church services and created some demos of songs so the team could rehearse with them and learn the tunes for ongoing church services and also the Concert.  I am going to start posting some of these songs out here for you all to enjoy.  First is “Song of Living Praise.”  This song was inspired by many scriptures but the keys ones are Romans 12:1 and Acts 1:8.  Here are the lyrics, enjoy the tune (recorded post-service on a Sunday morning). 

Song of Living Praise

Verse 1
You poured Your Spirit out on us
A Father’s love displayed in grace
Now that I’ve tasted living water
I sing a song of living praise

Chorus
To be a witness for Your glory
A banner of Your love
Lord I’ll live to tell the story
Of Your grace,     of Your unfailing love

Verse 2
And where Your rivers go they heal us
Now there is life where there was death
We are Your chosen generation
Our lives a song of living praise

Bridge
And I’m ready now, Lord send me out
To sing a song of a heart set free
I will be Your hands and feet

Copyright 2009 Destinysong

15
May
08

Praising a Long Time

The history of Praise and Worship in the Bible is a fun and interesting adventure.  Music has a tendancy to be a bit controversial topic within the church these days.  The best case scenerio is one where us Jesus-followers would advance past personal opinion and onto the purpose of the church which is to praise God, leaving issues of style and culture as unnecessary dividing lines.  To that point, if I sing “Jesus, how sweet the name” and I do it with a pipe organ, or an a cappella group, or a choir, or with drums and electric guitars, does it really matter?  I think not, what matters most is the heart with which we praise.  Nevertheless when subjects like this kick around in my mind I find myself wondering what God thinks of this.  How can we honor Him?  The components we use for His glory in Praise and Worship are namely 1) Instrumental and 2) Vocal.  (Additionally we have a) soul and b) spirit but we’ll save that discussion for another day.)  One teaching I’ve done many times and still adhere to this exegesis, is that if God sings over us (Zephaniah 3:17) he must have a) created song b) love song.  Therefore anything, any music, that deviates from the purpose to glorify God is an abberation of its original intent.  That thinking excludes a lot of music in the world, but I believe it to be true.

One encouragement to those of us who are called to praise God and lead others in the same, is just how long this has been going on.  We often highlight David’s court as an example of praise in the highest order. Yet a quick look into Genesis reveals that this has been going on a really long time.

In Genesis 4:17-22 we have a listing of some of Cain’s descendants.  Check out verse 21 where we are introduced to Jubal.  “…He was the father of all those who play the harp and flute.” (NKJV) Wow.  This enables us to pinpoint the use of instruments in praise and worship to as early as the 7th generation from Adam.  I don’t know about you but that gets me really excited!  (Being a guitar player, knowing that stringed instruments existed as early as the 7th generation gets me extra stoked.)  I’ll also point out that the number 7 represents perfection in Kingdom accounting.

Secondly, a few verses later there is an amazing statement.  In verse 26 we read “That’s when men and women began praying and worshipping in the name of GOD.” (The Message)  By reading further and adding up the age when Adam fathered Seth, and then Seth fathered Enosh, we can estimate something just over 235 years from the creation of man to when humans began corporate worship of GOD.

A little over 200 years from the dawn of creation and people congregated in worship.  Only seven generations passed and musical instruments were used in worship.  This leaves no doubt in my heart that music is God invented, God inspired, and God purposed.  Does this encourage anyone else out there?  Let me know!

12
May
08

The Complainer

So I was thinking about the general nature of the complainer this week.  We had a guest speaker at church since our Sr. Pastor is in Israel (“lucky!”) and he asked the congregation in each of our 3 services “be honest, how many of you have not prayed for your pastors, any of them, even one time in the last 2 weeks?”  Most people raised their hands.  I’ll give them this, they are an honest congregation (I absolutely love this church).  He said, “so you never pray for your pastors, but when something gets said from the pulpit you don’t like or the music is not quite right you are so quick to send off an email to them and complain.”  Wow.  Being a pastor I was one part edified and another part squirming a bit.  If you are in public ministry you’ve heard it.  The complaints: too loud, I couldn’t worship, where are the hymns?, it’s obvious this is about you and not about God.  Yes I’ve heard a lot of it.  In fact, I myself am a complainer.  I complain about all sorts of things that make my life difficult, or anything that pulls me out of my comfort zone.  Just this morning my wife said, “you ought to squeeze in a bike ride, the weather is nice.”  I got up put on bike shorts and jersey, socks and shoes, and then asked “what’s the temperature?”  It was a little cold for the clothes I was wearing.  I complained because I had to change my clothes.  I did end up on a bike ride and am very happy I went.  She was right, the weather was beautiful this morning.  And I did find myself praising God for His creation which I often do when I go biking.  But I just HAD to complain at some point didn’t I?  But it seems that when people uncork on a pastor in the church, it’s quite vile.  Why do these complainers feel the need to spread so much venom (yes, venom) when they complain (actually said to me in church: “how dare you assume to know what I need to worship God”)?  Congregational church is about giving back to God (see 1 Peter 2:9); declaring His praises.  That’s the primary purpose of the church.  But some people arrive with a consumer mentality and are just flat out furious when it doesn’t conform to whatever standard they have imposed on “church.”  With the American church body rife with complainers are we really acting as His disciples and “lov[ing] one another” as Christ commanded (John 13:34)?  What do you think?   




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