Monday, September 14, 2020
Monday, August 31, 2020
1) Thanksgiving. It may be impossible to be filled with thanksgiving and not have it overflow into worship. If you will cultivate gratitude in your heart, you will worship more. And if we cultivate it in the hearts of our people, they will worship more. Why in the world do we "reserve" our thanksgiving texts and songs for mid and late November? "Enter His gates with thanksgiving" should be the mantra of the worship leader!
2) Awe. Seldom are we more moved to worship than in moments of awe. Seeing the ocean for the first time... or the hundredth. Glimpsing the grand canyon. Seeing beauty of any kind that is greater than you can imagine. Or remember. I remember the intense feeling of sacred-ness when entering the old National Cathedral of Canada. And seeing the expansive countryside in east Africa. Awe evokes worship. Psalm 65:8 helps so much...
Those who live at the ends of the earth
stand in awe of your wonders.
From where the sun rises to where it sets,
you inspire shouts of joy.
And remember, the early church was characterized by this: "A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders." (Acts 2:43)
3) Spirit. Nothing trumps the Spirit. He's like the Ace of spades in a game of spades. Time a bazillion. We learn by the Spirit. We lead by the Spirit. We lead in the Spirit. We welcome the Spirit. We love by the Spirit. If you were going to study only one "topic" in the New Testament to empower your worship leading, Spirit would be the best focus I know. After all, the Father is seeking those who will worship in Spirit and in Truth.
I recognize “tricks” is a terrible moniker. These are not tricks. God doesn’t play tricks on us, and heaven help us if we play tricks on one another. But they are supernatural… above the natural…keys. These are the things God has given us to ensure that our worldly worship has a heavenly dynamic.
What would you add?
Monday, August 24, 2020
Those of us who have been having in-person gatherings again after our churches were shut down for COVID-19 have been wondering... will they come back?
It seems wise, in these days, to ask what could bring them back?
Two generations ago it would've been a sense of commitment. The nature of that word has certainly changed.
A generation ago it might have been great preaching and great music. But now that's all available online.
For this generation, I'm convinced the only reason they will come back is for the Presence.
The word Presence makes me think of the Bread of Presence in the Tabernacle. It makes me think of the incarnation, where Jesus left heaven to be present with humanity. It makes me think of the Holy Spirit who is always fully present within us.
So... how do we do our part in our worship gatherings that will make room for God to do His part?
First, let's remember just how important this question is. We are not the Holy Spirit. It isn't our job to make people feel something. To make people do something.
Second, let's remember that the question still leaves us stuff to do. Nearly every time God does something, He does it through people. People like you. Like me.
So we do at least three things:
1) Pray. Pray without ceasing. Pray for the Spirit to manifest His Presence.
2) Plan. Choose songs prayerfully. Since God inhabits the praise of His people, plan services so praise can happen. Be sure to include lyrics that are directed from the hearts of worshipers to the heart of God.
3) Evoke. This word simply means to draw out. So do that. Don't provoke--that's pushing. Evoke--that's leading. Draw out of your people what is already in them--praise for their Savior.
One more giant thing--lead in and by the Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 14 Paul talks about praying and singing with the SPIRIT and with the MIND. You're already giving thought to your leadership or you wouldn't be reading this. Now surrender your heart to the Spirit and let Him "fill and thrill" you. Let Him guide you. Let Him love you. Let Him rule in your heart. And encourage others to do the same.
Worship on the other side of this Coronavirus epidemic may actually be better if we do these things faithfully. Can you imagine?!
Monday, August 17, 2020
- Self care - I regret that I didn’t take care of myself. I was morbidly obese and largely inactive. The consequences of that ranged from as minor as... not being able to ride a roller coaster with my girls to as major as... poorly modeling what it looks like to be a healthy human.
- Modeling time with Jesus every day - I wish y daughters would have “caught” me with my Bible open or my head bowed. I spent time with Jesus more days than not--most years. But seldom in front of them.
- I was afraid of my kids - this may only apply to us people pleasers, but I really struggled with push back. There were often times when I would hold back what I felt was right because I was afraid our girls wouldn't like me. Wouldn't want to be with me. For a few months, for example, I would use an EXPO marker to write verses of scripture about our identity in Christ on their bathroom mirror. They thought it was dumb. I stopped.
- Family devotionals / Scripture conversations and memorization - In my head this was always too grand, too complicated. In reality it could’ve been so simple. Share a thought I'd read that day in the Bible or in a book. Asking my sweet bride or our daughters what they had noticed about God that day. We could have had a memory verse for each week and repeated it when we ate together. I was overwhelmed at the the thought of doing something complicated.
- Praying for them daily. About their future. For theIr husbands to be. I did pray. I still do. I wish I’d prayed more and more specifically.
- Too much surviving the moments; not enough thinking long term. - This may be a byproduct of aging, but when I was younger, which means when our girls were little, I often just wanted to get through the day, the project, the event, or the weekend. I wish I knew then what I’ve learned in the last few years from Orange. We get 936 weeks. That’s it. Big picture first.
- Money management - I said yes way too often, but more than that, I said yes without consulting the Father. I wish we'd prayed about our finances, prayerfully prepared a budget. And I wish we'd included our daughters in those conversations early on.
- Loving their mom insufficiently - This deserves to be a book instead of a tiny chunk of a blog. I so wish I’d loved Jackie better. Moment by moment. Hour by hour. Week by week. Season by season. Year by year. In big ways, and in small ways. In faithfulness with my eyes. If I loved Jackie in the first 8 years of their lives as much—as well as—I have the last 8 years of our lives, I’d have been a better dad. The best thing a parent can do for their child, at least when it comes to teaching them about relationships, is to love their spouse well.
- Talked about church more than Jesus - this sort of makes sense. I work at a church. Jesus does stuff at church. But I wish I’d done better at making our lives more about Jesus and keeping the distinction clear between the Bride and the Bridegroom.
- Going to bed late and sleeping late - this is where it all could have started. I wish I’d started going to bed EVEN WHEN I WAS A CERTIFIED NIGHT OWL—at 9.30 and getting up at 5.30. The time I’ve had by myself in the early morning in recent months has been amazing. So much of what I already talked about might have been different if I’d been the first one up by an hour every day.
Monday, August 10, 2020
Monday, August 3, 2020
My encouragement to you today is two-fold. First, clarify and strengthen your boundaries. Second, pursue the right kind of intimacy within the right kind of relationships. You will be more like Jesus when you do. And your life will have a Jesus-shaped impact.
Intimacy isn't a dirty word at all. It's one of the most beautiful in the world!