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."

Happy Anniversary

Today marks 9 years since marrying my best friend! I'm amazed at how I could love someone more than I did 9 years ago...I love seeing her each day and being with her. Even her presence is comforting to me. She is faithful. She is fun. She is beautiful. She reminds me to pray. I can't say enough about the incredible gift that my wife is to me, but I wrote a song to try. I love you Nicole!

"I remember, when you walked on down that aisle                                                                            To have and to hold, for a lifetime was our vow
Oh and girl, it seems the time goes by so fast
But I love you more now, and I know our love will last."

Feast At His Table

I love having an opportunity to lead people in receiving communion during worship. There are so many different ways to incorporate communion in a service, whether it be at the end of the message, or during a special song, or inviting people to come and receive.  This past weekend we did it in the middle of our journey to the feet of Jesus in worship. 

As a worship leader, I have spent a lot of time not talking publicly within a time of worship. I could ramble all day if I let myself, and it probably wouldn't be the most coherent. But, I have learned that when given an opportunity to lead or speak in a time of worship, the words spoken, just like the words that are sung, have the same purpose...That purpose is to take people to a destination. Ultimately, our destination is the feet of Jesus, where purely we ascribe vertical adoration to His matchless, holy name. But how we get there is a wonderful freedom that must be grounded in scripture, prayer, and sensitivity to the Lord. 

Pray, open your Bible, and think ahead of time of what you want to convey
* Write it out. Always write it out.
* Rehearse what you wrote down. In the shower, in the car, in your office, and on the stage in run-thru to an empty worship center.
* Slow down and take your time.
* Finally, watch yourself back, and find ways to improve. **

So on this particular weekend, I spent some time speaking rather than singing. We had just finished singing the words "You tore the veil, You made a way, when you said that it is done." I wanted to illustrate the picture of our former separation from God, to our now newly given access to God through Jesus as it all relates to communion. I think it's a beautiful picture to think of a table or a feast in the heavenly courts, that we once had no access to, and now God invites us to the table through Jesus Christ. In drawing attention to the Gospel, it set the table to receive communion together, and do so in a way that was meaningful, not rushed, and both introspective and congregational. 

The reading of scripture over God's people is always important to me as I have opportunity to lead others in worship. I keep this quote close, and it always convicts me, but N.T.Wright says: 

Even the simplest acts of Christian worship ought therefore always to focus on the reading of Scripture...You’re insulting the Bible if, given the opportunity, you don’t create a context in which it can be heard and celebrated as what it really is: the rehearsal of the powerful deeds of God the Creator and rescuer.

After taking time to do what scripture says introspectively, we received communion together as a body, stood, responded to Christ's forgiveness, and ended at His feet proclaiming "Worthy is the Lamb that once was slain, to receive all glory, power and praise. For with Your blood You purchased us for God, Jesus You are worthy, that is what You are." 

I can always find something I'd say or do differently, but these short moments in our weekend services were a special time in our body. I thought I'd share some of my thoughts behind approaching last weeks communion, as well as share the video so you can worship with us. Thanks for taking the time to read and watch if you did :)

lory to God Alone. 

6 Things I Learned In My 20s

It is true.
My 20s have come to an end.
As of today, I begin my fourth decade as a human being on this earth.

I've been thinking a lot this past week about the last 10 years. What did the Lord teach me in my 20s? God has been gracious in so many ways, and yet much of it was not how I expected.

Here's 6 things I learned in my 20s.

An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. (Proverbs 31:10)

Not everyone learns this in their 20s. That's ok. I was engaged at age 20 and married at 21 to my best friend. She has followed me, encouraged me, challenged me, held me up when life was heavy, allowed me to hold her up when life was heavy...It's amazing to me how God provides the strength, words, and faith for one, when the other can't find them, and vice-versa. I've learned so much from loving and living with my beautiful bride for 9 years, and honestly, it only gets better. I love you Nicole.

My way's not always God's way, but God's way is better than my way.

If I've learned anything over the last 10 years, it's that God has a plan, God never makes mistakes, and He is intimately and intricately involved with the deepest facets of our hearts. Growing up, my favorite bible-verse was Proverbs 3:5-6. In the last 10 years, I've struggled at times to trust in the Lord and not lean on my understanding. Those are the cloudiest times I can think of. My own understanding can bring confusion, discontentment, and questioning, while trusting in the sovereignty and direction of our loving Father brings peace, joy, and gratitude. I wouldn't have chosen certain things, and I even have questions about certain things that will probably never be answered until heaven, but I see God's hand in every turn, decision, and path. "God doesn't always give us what we ask for, but he gives us what we would have asked for had we known all that he knows." ~ Paul David Tripp

Good things come on the other side of the valley.

You know that verse in James that talks about counting your trials as joy, because they produce steadfastness and ultimately a more complete child of God? I get that more now. There are things that the Lord has for us, that He won't give us until we get to the other side of the valley.  God is interested in making us more complete. He is a shepherd, and sometimes this dumb sheep needs found when he wanders off, or corrected when he does his own thing, or carried when the path is the hardest...But the Lord has constantly led me to still waters, restored my soul, and I know He is preparing me for the table he prepares in heaven, where my cup, and my joy will overflow for all of eternity. "I lift my eyes to the hills, for where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth" (Psalm 121:1-2).

Competence + Character

Look, I'll admit now, I thought I knew more than I actually did when I was in my early 20s. I had a big vision, I had a lot of passion, and I was even pretty good at some of the things I wanted to do with my life. Praise God for schooling and experience and gifting and talents! But, competence will only carry you as far as your character let's you. God wants competent, passionate, kingdom builders who have the character of Christ. Character is built in humility; understanding that you may not have it all together. The wisdom of older believers and leaders has been invaluable in my life. Their sharpening, their counsel, their prodding, and their time has provided so much guidance and shaping to who I am and who I want to be for the glory of God. God's Word and accountability are two of the greatest assets to anyone seeking to grow in the likeness of Christ.

There are advantages to disadvantages.

I'll speak from my experience as someone in vocational ministry, but I think this can apply to anyone trying to follow the Lord. There are things that our family has decided to live without, in order to follow Jesus the way we want to. There are sacrifices the Lord asks us to make, and they're not always easy things. In fact, some things are for sure an advantage, and praise God for those things. But when God asks us to give up something or sacrifice, what is too much for him to ask? Sometimes, what seems to be a disadvantage, is actually an advantage in the kingdom of God. I'm learning to find the kingdom value in the things I would call disadvantages. It is there that God never disappoints.

Every personal dream or accomplishment is shattered in comparison to loving and leading your kids to Jesus.

I'm telling you, if there is one thing that will start to jerk the tears from my eyes, its my kids. I love them. For whatever reason, God in His grace saw fit to entrust three little ones to my wife and I in our 20s. Having children challenged me in my commitment to the Gospel, and the simplicity of it's message. My wife is so much better at helping our kids understand spiritual things, but I have learned much about delivering God's truth to little ears. And for my older two, I have a few very distinct moments I'll never forget where the Lord was clearly convicting them, and drawing them to himself. I have seen the Holy Spirit working in their hearts and on their conscience in some of the most tangible ways I've ever experienced. It's in those moments that their child-sized faith challenges my own. I am far from done navigating the depths of my children's sinful hearts with them, but I believe and see the Lord working on them and it stirs a response of worship in my heart like nothing else. "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth" 3 John 1:4. Let it be so Lord!

Well, there you go. Those are 6 things I've reflected on from my 20s. I for sure have not arrived, and I look forward to what the Lord does in the years to come. This is no time to slow down. I pray the Lord grants me the energy to run hard for him for as long has He sees fit, and I pray my life would be nothing but an arrow, pointing others straight to Jesus.

For His glory. For His fame.
Soli Deo Gloria || Glory to God Alone

No Place Like His Presence

The Lord keeps teaching me something. He wants our availability. He wants our flexibility. He wants our greatest desire to be His presence. Sometimes when God moves it's inconvenient. Sometimes when God moves it throws off our plans. Sometimes when God moves it's out of nowhere. But the important question is, when He chooses to move, will you choose to wait and worship and linger in His presence as long as He sees fit? Or do you bail? Sure life moves and life happens, but there is no place like His presence, and He desperately wants to move in extraordinary ways, among those who desperately seek Him with all their heart, even when it's not convenient.

This weekend at my church, Harvest Bible Chapel Granger, the Lord moved. My Pastor preached on worship, and at the end of the Saturday night service spontaneously told our congregation they were welcome to leave, but that we were going to continue worshiping for a while. My band wasn't even planning on staying through the message that night, because they weren't needed at the end of the service. They have families, and plans, and babies, but they made room and made themselves available. After the service ended Saturday, we worshiped the Lord through song for an extended 45 minutes. Almost everyone stayed, and the Lord was really moving. The people's response to the truth that was preached was so passionate. More passionate than at the beginning of the service...The fire was fueled in hearts, the Lord was on the move, and it was a beautiful time in song, prayers, and scriptures. 

For Sunday we rearranged the entire service to have the majority of the singing at the end. Really special moments in the Lord's presence with our church. I prayed with a couple at the end of one of the services who were in tears from meeting with the Lord. There is no place like His presence. 

Lord, let me be available to your service, to your presence, and to Your Spirit when you move.