The happenings in the life of a worship leader, father, and husband in the South.

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Carrying the Mind of Christ with Us

The following is a short article I wrote for our church newsletter today, but I wanted to share it on here as well:

Do you carry the mind of Christ with you throughout your work week?  In other words, do you reflect your Savior in your attitude and decision-making?  When I think back to the time that I worked in the secular workforce, I can remember having difficulty in keeping this Kingdom perspective.  More times than not, I kept a worldly perspective – I tried to live under my own strength.  I would put on my Christlike attitude on Wednesday nights and on Sundays, but it was too easy to slip back into a worldly mindset when I got to work on Monday mornings.  Even though I currently work full time in ministry, there are still times that I tend to think this way.  I think that’s part of human nature – we are independent and want to solve problems under our own power.


I have found that the more time I spent in the Word and in prayer and fellowship with the Lord, the more I keep a Christ-centered mindset.  I want to encourage our church family to stay centered in the will of God by feeding your soul with the Word on a daily basis.  When we do this, we will develop our mind for Christ.  We will have a Kingdom mentality; we will LOOK for opportunities to live our testimony, not just react when they present themselves.  Have a mind for Christ on a daily basis and with everyone we interact with, and we will change our world.

Social Media as A Tool for Advancing Revival

I am currently in a discussion on Google+ (another social network) with church workers from all over the country.  We are sharing ideas on how social media can be used to advance sustainable revival.  Much has been made about “unauthentic” posting – that people will not be truthful about what they post.  To some extent, I agree; I think it’s human nature to attempt to paint ourselves in the most positive light.  At the same time, that’s the very thing that we must work against as believers.  Jesus tells us very clearly in scripture to “deny ourselves.”  Humbleness is a virtue that seems to be lacking all around us, including in social media.

I believe we CAN use social media as an effective means to help advance sustainable revival.  We need to be intentional when we post something online for the world to see.  Why post negative remarks?  Why argue?  Why sacrifice my testimony by reposting a crass joke just because I think it is funny?  How is that spreading the Good News?  To this end, I have set a goal for myself that I think would be great for all believers to consider if we are serious about being the new creations that God has made us into, and if we are to utilize this powerful social medium to advance the Kingdom.

My goal:  To only post things on social networks that are edifying, uplifting, encouraging, testifying, and proclaiming – I will give my best effort in this towards advancing the Kingdom of God.

Soundbites

Do you make To-do lists?  I have to have them.  I have an app on my phone right now that has a list of things to do, and I’m constantly updating it, especially during this time of year!  I’m so paranoid about forgetting things, I even have the same app loaded on my office computer, and I have my phone synchronized to my computer so that my list is always current!  Every year I get this way, and every year God has to remind me that JESUS needs to be the first thing on our “list.”  He needs to be at the top of any other priorities we may have.  A good way to keep things in perspective is to ask, “Where is Jesus on my list?”  I’m afraid that for far too many of us, He is near the bottom – the parties, programs, gifts, family dinners and community events seem to fight for the very top.

We can even let church activities take priority over Him.  I think sometimes we get so busy with “doing stuff” that we forget He is the reason we are doing it in the first place!  Where is Jesus?  He’s quietly at the bottom of that list, or even not on it at all.

We should all re-evaluate our priorities today – we should put Jesus first, and everything else will find its proper place.

One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?”  Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD;  AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’  Mark 12:28-30 (NASB)

 

Soundbites

When we sing songs of worship, we are most likely singing from one of two groups of songs – those that are written about and to God that come from a person’s heart and are inspired by God, and those whose lyrics come directly from scripture and are set to music.  To me, this latter group is the purest form of worship through singing.  How more can we praise God in song than through singing His divinely inspired Holy Word?

The choir sang a song of worship on Sunday morning called “Revelation Song.”  The words of the chorus come directly from Revelation 4:8:  “…Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” (NIV)

How incredible it is for us to sing the very words that the heavenly creatures are constantly singing to God!  We don’t know the heavenly melody or accompaniment, but to get just a glimpse through those words should bring us a chill of excitement!  I am thankful that God is still using people to write songs of praise and worship today, that we may continually sing Him a new song.

“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.” Psalm 40:3 (NIV)

Soundbites

But who is able to build a house for Him, for the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain Him? So who am I, that I should build a house for Him, except to burn  incense  before Him?  2 Chronicles 2:6 (NASB)

I came across this verse in my daily reading this week.  Solomon is preparing to build the temple to God and he asks himself this question.  My own question when reading this verse was, “Who is worthy?”  None of us are worthy to anything for God, yet He calls us to be obedient.  He is more interested in our faithfulness to Him than our abilities or worthiness.  Obeying our Father only strengthens our faith and reliance upon Him.

Are you being obedient to God?  Has He placed a burden in your heart?  Too many times we feel a burden and share it with someone else, expecting them to do the work, when god has placed that burden on our hearts because He wants us to do the work!

If God is calling you to do a work unto Him, He will equip you to do the work, no matter how impossible the task or how ill-equipped you may think you are.  All He is asking is for our obedience.  I pray that all of us will obey when our Heavenly Father calls.

Soundbites

It’s been a while since my last post.  I plan to do a write-up in the near future of our Association’s recent vision trip to West Virginia.

The following is my weekly article, “Soundbites,” that I write for our church newsletter:

I’ve had the following verse on my mind the last few days:  “Then He said to [them] all, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23 (HCSB).

Have you ever really thought about what would happen if all Christians would heed this command from Jesus?  The world would never be the same.  If we simplify everything we are commanded to do, I think it all comes down to Luke 9:23 and the Great Commission.  Heeding Luke 9:23 begins with denying ourselves.  This is a very hard thing to do of course, since we are selfish by nature.  We want to look out for ourselves first.  This is not what Jesus commands us to do.  In fact, much of what we are taught from Jesus goes against our natural reactions.

Can you truly imagine a life of self-denial?  Practicing this prepares us for the ultimate sacrifice for Christ, martyrdom.  We must be willing to give our very lives for the name of Jesus.  A question we must ask is, “Am I willing to give my life for the name of Christ?”

I pray that each of us is ready to do that very thing.  When we can come to that point, we can truly deny ourselves every day, and therefore fulfill the command of Luke 9:23.  We can then change our world.

Wind Controller in Worship

I have a Yamaha WX5 MIDI Wind Controller.  I absolutely love it.  I got it back in 1998 right after I started college.  I was in a cover band and played the saxophone, but I wanted something else to add to the mix.  Enter the Wind Controller.  When I realized that I could play harmonica, fiddle, electric guitar, drums, SFX, and just about anything else, I was sold.

It was a few years after this that God led me into a part-time music ministry position at a tiny little Baptist church in North Mississippi while I was in school at Ole Miss.  I was still in the cover band.  We would play gigs on Saturday nights and I would go and lead worship on Sunday mornings.  It didn’t take very long for me to realize the hypocrisy of the situation.  Taking out my sax or my wind controller on a Sunday morning and smelling cigarette smoke didn’t help matters either.

 

Fast forward many years and much spiritual growth later.  I play my wind controller in worship just about every week.  Our pianist usually picks the offertory, and I play lead along with the organ, piano, and synth.  It’s the only opportunity I have during our worship services to play.  And I cherish it.  I miss the playing time i used to get, but I don’t miss the worldly gigs at all.  Now I make music to worship my Savior.

My wind synth has given me untold opportunities for personal worship, and judging by the discussions I’ve had with church members and guests, it has ministered to others as well.

The possibilities are endless.  I typically try to select an instrument that fits the style of the song we are playing.  Violin or cello are used most often, but I have also used tenor Sax, flute, bagpipes, irish whistles, and even a full orchestral sound.  Most people seem to pair this controller with the Yamaha VL70m tone generator (which is now discontinued).  It uses physical modeling technology instead of sampling – it gives incredible response and lifelike sound.  The only problem I have with it is that it is monophonic; it can only play one note at a time.  In order to layer sounds with this tone module, I would have to purchase more of them and link them together via MIDI.  That gets a little pricey when they run anywhere from $500 – $700 on ebay!

To solve the layering problem, I ventured into softsynths (those that are computer – based).  Right now I use Garritan World Instruments and the Garritan sounds that come stock with the Ewi USB (another wind controller).  The World Instrument package comes with Aria Player, which is a 16 channel virtual mixer that I can load any sounds from the Garritan libraries I want to.  I love it.  If I wanted to, I could mix 8 various bagpipes, a soprano sax, chimes, nose flute, djembe, and steel drums and go to work.  That probably wouldn’t sound great for an offertory, though.

I love experimenting with this thing; I’ll post as I discover more (when I hopefully have time!).

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