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5 Ways Worship Leaders Can Prepare Their Heart in the Easter Hustle

My heart was shaped in processing and thinking through these 5 ways for worship leaders to prepare their hearts during Holy Week. 

  1. Prepare your heart away from the planning.
  2. Prepare your heart in the thick of the planning.
  3. Prepare your heart in the darkness of the cross. 
  4. Prepare your heart in the overwhelming joy of the resurrection.
  5. Prepare your heart as you make Holy Week impactful for your family.  

"The Weight Of Glory" by C.S.Lewis


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I ran across my notes from when I read "The Weight Of Glory" by C.S.L a couple years ago. I was so blessed reading the quotes that I wrote down. Praying one inspires or challenges you today. 

"The Weight of Glory" - C.S.Lewis; various quotes :

In heaven our God will tell us well done good and faithful servant. He will show his approval, like a Father shows approval to His child...Think about that day, "when our redeemed soul will understand that she has pleased Him whom she was created to please. There will be no room for vanity then. She will be free from the miserable illusion that it is her doing. With no taint of what we should now call self-approval she will most innocently rejoice in the thing that God has made her to be, and in that moment which heals her old inferiority complex forever will also drown her pride deeper than Prospero's book." 

"All our merely natural activities will be accepted, if they are offered to God, even the humblest; and all of them, even the noblest, will be sinful if they are not."

 "The intellectual life is not the only 'way' to God, nor the safest, but we find it to be a road, and it may be the appointed road for us...Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered."  (Jesus, is the only way to God the Father. Intellectuals have found this truism in finding that intellectualism, science, etc...is not enough. Faith by grace, and a recognition of sin and need for forgiveness saves. Philosophy that points people to that which philosophy will never provide, REDEMPTION, is vital in the intellectual circles of the world.) 

 "Spiritual things are spiritually discerned,The spiritual man judges all things and is judged of none."

"In the New Testament, the Truth is incarnate...It is not an accidental resemblance that what, from the point of view of being, is stated in the form 'God became Man,' should involve, from the point of view of human knowledge, the statement 'myth became fact.' The essential meaning of all things came down from 'heaven' of myth to the 'earth' of history. In so doing, it partly emptied itself of its glory as Christ emptied Himself of His glory to be man." 

 "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything."

"His presence, the interaction between Him and us, must always, be the overwhelmingly dominant factor in the life we are to lead within the Body, and any conception of Christian fellowship which does not mean primarily fellowship with Him is out of court." 

"The sacrifice of selfish privacy which is daily demanded of us is daily repaid a hundredfold in the true growth of personality which the life of the Body encourages...Obedience is the road to freedom, humility the road to pleasure, unity the road to personality." 

ON FORGIVENESS:

"The trouble is that what we call 'asking God's forgiveness' very often really consists in asking God to accept our excuses...In this, we shall go away imagining we have repented and been forgiven when all that has really happened is that we have satisfied ourselves with our own excuses...All the real excusing, He will do." 

"Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin, the sin that is left over without any excuse, after all allowances have been made, and seeing it in all its horror, dirt, meanness, and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the man who has done it. That, and only that is forgiveness, and that we can always have from God if we ask for it." 

"To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you." 

5 Reasons the Church Should Sing

Here's 5 reasons why the gift of music in the pastors people is unlike the other good gifts God has given us. 

  1. The gift of melody takes mere words to places that words can’t always go…Music helps simple words penetrate the heart and move the human soul. Song helps people say what they wish they could say to God on their own, but can’t find the words.
  2. Music helps us engage all that God has called us to when worshiping Him—love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength—Music is one of the only vehicles that can stir up our body, soul, and spirit in the kind of worship God desires. 
  3. The songs of our faith are the best carriers of theology in the church. From old, to modern, to brand new, what the church is singing, should be what the church believes about God. And when these songs get on our hearts and in our mouths, we carry a theology of God wherever we go. 
  4. There are over 400 references to singing in the Bible, many of which are commands to God’s people. The use of music in the pastors people is really an act of obedience to God and His Word.
  5. While the art of music moves the human heart, it also moves the heart of God. Zephaniah tells us that God will SING LOUDLY over his people’s homecoming! Why would He sing?! Because it best expresses everything that he feels towards the redemption of His beloved. And God moves when His people vertically ascribe worth to Him in Song. God moves when the truth we receive stokes our spirits to respond…songs help us worship in spirit and truth, and such worship he is looking for.

‘Tis the Season to Stop Worshiping

Let me confess a couple things as I get this post started.

  • I’m a part of a group of 100+ worship leaders who have recently vented to one another about the common struggle with leading their congregations in worship during the Christmas season.
  • After leading this past weekend, a worship leader who happened to be at my church stated, “great job with worship today, even with it being Christmas. I always dread leading during the Christmas season.”
  • And being completely honest, during the 8am service this past Sunday, as I led I was fighting negative thoughts and walked off the platform frustrated by the congregational time of worship.

So, why is it that Christmas music, and the Christmas season, and our weekly gathering for congregational worship  are seemingly so discouraging to the lot of our church’s worship leaders?

Let me attempt to answer that question, while trying to be helpful to the worshiper during the Christmas Season.

  ONE

 A lot of our traditional Christmas songs are not worship songs at all. A majority of them speak about baby Jesus coming, about the angels singing, about the city of Bethlehem, or even worse, about some kid who thought it was ok to bring a drum to a birth!? Rather than directly giving worth to God, they try to tell the story of Christ’s birth and coming to earth.

So, right off the bat, we go from singing ascriptive, adoring, intentional praise directed toward King Jesus, and start singing informational, somewhat obligatory, and honestly somewhat obscure carols about baby Jesus.

But, wading through the cheesy (and sometimes awful lyrics) are some beautifully written, doctrinal and theological truths that should inform your heart this Christmas. These carols are trying to paint the picture for you, of the most mind-blowing phenomenon in history. God coming to earth....as a baby....helpless and humble....to save your life.

So as you gather for worship this season, ask the Lord to renew the deep truths of His coming in your heart. It’s good news and you need it as much today, as the first time you received it!

 TWO

I was watching a holiday special the other day of some talented artists. I watched as they joked and jested saying, “this season is all about getting that special someone what they love....staying out late and having a little too much egg nog...hahaha....no this season is all about friendship.

Perhaps well intentioned, but clearly not going after what I believe the reason for the season is. But, they then went on to sing the same carols that I was singing in Church this past Sunday. In fact, I can find countless artists, from every genre of music, who have belief systems far and wide, covering Christmas carols about Christ the Lord the newborn King.

“See, it brings us all together!”

WRONG. It cheapens the phenomenon that God came to earth to seek and save the lost, bind up the broken hearted, and be the way, the truth, and the life for all who repent and believe.

So, don’t allow the overkill of holiday carols, and the collision of worldliness with godly truth distort your own worship this season. Remember, these songs still herald the most important news our world needs to hear, even if many singing the truths don’t believe it themselves. May we sing them like we believe them.

THREE

Finally, as I led the first service of the Christmas season at my church this past Sunday, going through my head was all of the things that compete for our attention, and frankly, our worship during the Christmas season.

I mean, I love Christmas, and traditions, and parties, and presents...they are all WORTH my time, but they aren’t WORTH my worship. You get what I’m saying?

I think more than any other season, Church can fall parallel with everything else. But the gathering of God’s bride should be paramount to everything going on at Christmas time! It is His birthday after all! Crazy how it becomes about us so easily.

I confessed this to my congregation this past Sunday, but I think worship leaders sort of tend to dislike leading through the season sometimes because it can feel like you lose the congregation a little bit. It can seem like there’s less passion, less expression, maybe some glossed over faces as you look out into the congregation to point them to Christ.

To the Worship Leader: Be careful not to measure God moving or authentic worship by what you see, notice, and feel from the platform. God looks at the heart and if you’re trying to judge it, he won’t look on your heart the way you desire Him too.

 To the Worshiper: Make Church most important during the holiday season. Sing with passion and expectancy, and don’t be afraid to show it on your face. Worship is both remembering and anticipating. There’s no better time to do both than at Christmas. We remember that Christ came, and anticipate that He will come again.

‘Tis the season to worship like never before!

A Reflection From 11.26.18

I've been thankful for this season of simplicity in our church. We are on week 6 of simple times of worship, consisting of less instruments, more hymns and old choruses, and more corporate prayers. Today’s corporate singing, along with an acoustic guitar and a piano was:

Psalm 103 - A Psalm of Thanksgiving
1. For the Beauty of the Earth (Thank You -new chorus)
2. God is So Good
Psalm 138 - 3 sections with 3 corporate prayers read aloud together.
3. Spirit of the Living God
4. Sanctuary
5. Jesus, You Are Worthy
6. Holy, Holy, Holy
Pastoral Prayer 

Timeless truths, modern choruses, and a new Song from our hearts were all on display in this gathering time. We've intentionally created space to sing, pray, remember, and listen to Lord in this series "Simply Pray."  I love how these weeks of “less,” have actually created “more” in my heart. 

Each week I've been surprised, as I've wrestled through the liturgy of song choices, scriptures, prayers, arrangements, etc...Each week I've wondered if it might fall flat, or if people would be sick of this stripped back, less "normal" rhythm we've been resting in; Yet each week, God meets us in a fresh way...I've heard of how God has used each week, but I've loved watching God move powerfully with less. I've loved seeing and hearing our congregations passionate adoration, without the drive of drums or guitars or loops. The volume hasn't lessened because the fire in our hearts burns brightly for Christ. May our worship's flame grow only by the object that is Christ the Lord, and not our instruments, decibels, or Choruses. 

Thank you Lord, you have been so good.

That You May Know

Watch my sermon from 1 John 2:1-6 on the assurance of Salvation, entitled "That You May Know."