We Reflect…

“God has made humans to reflect Him, but if they do not commit themselves to Him, they will not reflect Him but something else in creation. At the core of our being we are imaging creatures. It is not possible to be neutral on this issue: we either reflect the Creator or something in creation.” Greg Beale

We are God’s masterpieces! We are created in His image and are designed to reflect Him and bring glory and honor to His name.

It is so easy, however, to let other things in life hold a higher value than God. If God is not constantly magnified in our lives, we can begin to lose sight of all he has done. God has blessed us all so immensely and instead of purely thanking God for those blessings, we can start to focus on the blessings and make those the ultimate instead of God himself.  We are created with the desire to worship something/someone, but we have to choose what/who.

“And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles…They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.” Romans 1:23-25

We are not the only people to struggle with keeping our focus on God and not just what he can give us. Paul revealed to the Romans that they struggled with this as well. The truth is, we all have a God-sized hole in our hearts and if we don’t fill it with Him, we will naturally search to fill it with something else…money, possessions, relationships, fame, addictions, etc.

When we look to things of this world or even the blessings of God to fill the “identity hole” in our lives, we stop reflecting God.

So maybe today you are feeling unfulfilled. Maybe today you are having an identity crisis and are left, at the end of the day, feeling empty. It might be time to ask yourself who or what you are filling that God-sized hole up with? What takes up most of your attention and time? What are your pursuits? What would your bank account say is most important to you?

Answering these questions will give you a good idea of what truly is most important to you. Everyday we have a choice to either keep God in the center of our lives or allow temporal substitutes creep in.

Keep God first. It will help everything else make sense.

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:33 

Church: Good? Bad?

It’s funny how divisive church can be even amongst christians. But we need to learn and grow from each other…we need to be able to have productive conversations about our differences with the goal of pointing people towards Christ. Soooo…I have two simple questions to ask that probably aren’t too easy to answer.

What is your favorite thing about church?

And on the flip side, what is your least favorite thing about church?

(these can be answered either from a local sense or globally, the church at large.)

 

|| Let’s get this conversation started. ||

Embracing The Storm

“Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, do what you came to do.’ Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him.” Matthew 26:50

How often do we embrace the storm we may know is coming or one we are already in?

Probably not too often.

It’s counterintuitive. A storm is something to avoid so, therefore, we do everything we can to avoid the storm. It’s amazing, when we look at Jesus’ life, the response he had when the storm came.

He embraced it.

Seems a little crazy, right? But let’s look at how he got to that point.

A few verses early in Matthew 26, Jesus goes to pray in Gethsemane with his disciples. He knows a storm in coming. The amazing thing to me is that Jesus essentially asks God to “let this cup pass from me.” three separate times that night. He doesn’t want the impending storm either.

This should tell you and I that there is nothing wrong with not wanting to enter a storm or trial. They are obviously not fun and are very challenging seasons. But most of the time they are unavoidable and necessary. And what Jesus says after asking for the cup to pass is the real crux of this post…

“Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

He embraces the storm.

Again, how was he able to say that?

By abiding in the Father. Jesus had a very close and in-tune relationship with God. He was very connected to the will of God. Because of this close relationship, He trusted that God knew best. He had confidence that no matter what storm may be coming, that God is still in control and there is a reason for what we are going through.

This is such a great example for you and I to mimic when we are facing a storm. Stay close and in-tune with Jesus. Abide is the Father’s love. Trust that his ways are better than ours. Know that he is fully in control and truly does love you and care about you. We won’t always know the reasons why we go through the things that we do, and truthfully, we don’t always need to. We just need to be able to trust that God is God and we are not.

So if you are facing a storm today, embrace it. Press in to Jesus and rest in his presence. He will see you through. Cause as you know with Jesus, he did die on the cross, but he rose again and became the Savior of the world and the redeemer for you and me.

The quote that changed your life…

One of my goals for this blog is that it is a place where a community of people can come and journey this life together. A place where we can help inspire and encourage one another.

So, with that in mind, what words of wisdom or quote has greatly impacted your life?

It doesn’t have to pertain to any certain topic and you may have more than one…that’s all great.

Leave them in the comments below so that we can all be inspired and be better together.

What it’s really only about…

Sunday morning is here. Everyone takes their seat. The countdown reaches zero and the service takes off! The house lights go dim and the LEDs come on. The band plays, the music is loud and people clap. The pastor preaches and we nod our heads. Everyone prays and leaves…the service ends. Sound familiar?

If we aren’t careful, even something as important as what happens on a Sunday morning, can become empty; just a program to accomplish. We can so easily make it about everything else instead of making Sunday what it’s designed to be about.

It’s only about Jesus.

It doesn’t matter whether you are on staff at a church, a volunteer, or someone just attending. If our focus isn’t on Jesus, we have missed the mark.

“The Great God values not the service of men, if the heart be not in it: The Lord see and judges the heart; he has no regard to outward forms of worship, if there be no inward adoration, if no devout affection be employed therein. It is therefore a matter of infinite importance, to have the whole heart engaged steadfastly for God.” ~ Isaac Watts

It’s not about our works, it’s about our heart. There is nothing wrong with lights. There is nothing wrong with a full band and loud praise. There is really nothing wrong with program or keeping things organized. Those are all just tools. But there is a problem when our focus shifts to make the service about those things. It’s a fine line that we have to constantly check our hearts.

Our natural inclination will be to start worshipping the creation instead of the Creator. We must guard our hearts on this. A church service is to celebrate what God has done and who He is.

Whether you are staff, volunteer, or regular attendee, make church about Jesus. Don’t get hung up on the small things that are a matter of preference. Worship is a choice that we make.

We can make it about Jesus or everything else.

What are your goals for 2015?

“Commit your actions to the Lordand your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16:3

What are your goals for this year?

Goal setting is such an important process to our lives and if you are not someone who does this, I would strongly encourage you to do so. Without a target, it is hard to know where to aim. Goals provide you with a target, a preferred outcome, for you to try to achieve.

Another important aspect of goal setting is accountability. You are FAR more likely to follow through on your goals if you have people willing to hold you to them and help you accomplish them.

So this year, let’s do it. Let help each other accomplish our goals.

Share in the comments below what your goals are and how we can help you accomplish them.

Be blessed.

 

American Church Epidemic…

"Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise -- the fruit of lips that confess his name." Hebrews 13:15 NIV (emphasis mine)

As a Christian, hearing the term "praising God" is nothing new. And hopefully all of us participate in this act. As a worship leader, this is something that resonates with me on my many levels. But I have been noticing a trend that I would like to speak to...

Disengaged worshippers.

I'm sure many of you have seen the ARTICLE that spread around Facebook about this issue in our churches. Now, people are raising good points about some of the shifts that are happening in churches but I still feel we are missing the mark and not really getting to the heart of the issue.

The truth is, taking away the lights and set design won't make people sing more. Just having people with passion but no talent, won't help and will most likely distract people from engaging. Turning the overall volume down won't solve the issue either. Singing only hymns and having acoustic sets isn't the answer to the issue. All those things are really a matter of preference and don't really speak to why people aren't singing.

Singing in church actually doesn't have much to do with your worship team, worship leader, or location. Singing has nothing to do with whether it's a hymn or hillsong tune. And singing has nothing to do with it being acoustic or electric. We like to make it about those things...but it is really not.

Singing (or praising) is a choice! And ultimately a matter of one's heart.

I think the heart of this issue we are facing in our churches is that we, as christians, are just a product of our culture. We are consumerists, and operate based on convenience and that, unfortunately, has become our largest basis for making decisions.

God didn't say "praise me when you feel like it" or "when you're happy and have energy...praise me" He didn't say, "when life is good and all your things are in order, feel free to praise me then."

Nope.

The verse above says let us continually offer a SACRIFICE of praise! Praising God therefore has nothing to do with our convenience. Praising God has nothing to do with the volume of the sound system or how many lights are on stage; whether it's acoustic or electric or whether your worship leader is a hipster with a v-neck.

Praise is sacrificial. We do it out of obedience and to honor our Savior.

So next time you are in church and the worship starts...think about Hebrews 13:15. Next time the worship team plays that song AGAINNN...remember it's not about us. It's not about the song, the series, the lights, or the set design...

It is about Jesus and choosing to praise his name.

 

It’s the little things…

 “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.”       Luke 16:10

I’ve been circling back to this verse a lot lately. I can get in a trap so often where I just want to fast forward to the big. I’ll be working on my day to day and have thoughts like, “when’s my big break?” “When will my time come?” “I wish I was here by now.” I wish I made…” etc. I’m sure we have all had those thoughts. But if we just stay in those thoughts, we are really missing out.

The truth is, it is all about the small things. This verse isn’t talking about occupations, or even necessarily what you are doing…It’s not saying, “put your time in as a janitor and pretty soon you’ll be CEO.” What this verse is really getting at is character development. Whenever I’m reading Scripture, I ask myself, what is God after? Knowing that God is after our hearts can help shape how we receive some of these verses.

God wants us to be faithful in the little things because He knows that the little things actually are the big things. And as we journey in this life and are faithful with what God has given us and called us too, our platform can expand and increase. We can be handed greater responsibilities. God will give us greater things to be faithful with.

Today, think about the little things in your life. Think about the things that God has called you to and what He has given you. How is your attitude in your job? How much time are you investing in your relationships? Do you honor your leaders and bosses? It’s easy to make this a verse about doing things, but it’s not. It’s about our character…our hearts.

Be faithful in the little…those are the big things.

Be blessed.

 

10 Ways To Improve Your Worship Leading…

1. Make sure you are worshipping as well.

If you aren’t into the song, it’s going to be really hard for the people you are leading to be into it as well. They take their cue from you…so lead them.

2. Silence doesn’t have to be awkward.

Scripture asks us sometimes to just be still. When we talk, we can’t hear God speak. Sometimes we need to not talk and let the music speak louder than our words.

3. Be just as good if not a better musician as you are a singer.

There may be some disagreement with this point, however, you don’t want to be a distraction when you lead worship…and if you can’t play well and sing at the same time, it will be a distraction. Psalm 33:3 says, “Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.”

4. Know your instrument.

This goes along with #3 but, the truth is, people look at you just as much as they look at the words on the screen. With that in mind, if you are looking back and forth between them and your instrument for every chord change…chances are, you are distracting them. Be skillful so you disappear and they can focus on connecting with God.

5. Don’t force people to worship in ways they aren’t comfortable with.

A big part of our job is to create and cultivate an atmosphere where our congregation can connect with God. Not everybody is ready or comfortable with raising their hands, jumping, clapping, etc. Don’t focus on getting people to worship a certain way, but focus on bringing them into the presence of God and He will take care of the rest.

6. Be careful how often you repeat or don’t repeat songs.

We all know how the radio seems to kill really great songs by playing them to death…well that can easily happen in our churches as well. Be careful not to play a new song that you are excited about to death. (i.e. Blessed Be Your Name, How Great Is Our God, Desert Song, Revelation Song, etc.) On the flip side, don’t play a new song every week and never repeat them. It will usually take a few weeks for a congregation to really grasp and pick-up on a new song. So repeat them for a few weeks then put them into a rotation.

7. Understand the different components to your worship team.

You don’t need to be able to play every instrument, but you should have a general sense of how everything fits together. Try to learn the general terminology and major components of each instrument. It’s easier to say, “hit your snare louder” versus “hit that big, white, round thing in front of you louder.”

8. Be mindful of how you direct your team as you lead during service.

Some worship leaders look like Richard Simmons in the middle of a workout when trying to communicate to their team to repeat a chorus or head to the bridge…let this not be you! Basically, be aware of your movements. Let your teams know during practices how you will communicate with them when playing live; this way there is no confusion and everyone will be on the same page.

9. Know the abilities and the skill level of your worship team.

Don’t get your team into situations where they are all in uncharted territory. This is setting your team up to fail and be a major distraction in worship. Meaning, if you discover a great worship tune on Saturday, don’t rehearse it and play it during the Sunday morning service unless your team is ABSOLUTELY capable of doing it. Practice makes perfect. So practice, practice, practice, then bring it to a Sunday morning service.

10.  Keep it simple. (This one is a repeat from Los’ blog.)

You aren’t on American Idol. Your job isn’t to sing TO people and have them go “WOW”. Your job is to get the people to SING with you and TO God.

 

Please let’s keep the conversation going…if there are more that you want to add, leave a comment below.

It’s a boy!

There have been so many recent changes to my life, it’s hard to know where to start. It has been months since I’ve even touched this blog. But I can assure you that change is coming. Both to my life and to the site.

Change is good though. It shakes us out of our normal routines and causes us, again, to full embrace the world around us. By the name of the post, I’m sure you guessed what some of my recent change is, but I’ll go ahead and say it anyways…Abby and I are having a little boy!

We are thrilled. I honestly felt like I knew it would be a boy ever since we first found out we were pregnant. This being our first child, we have no idea what we are doing or what we are going to do, but we are excited to join the club of parenthood.

What I do know, is that God is good. He has been so faithful to Abby and I in the last year of transition for us. We moved back from Nashville at the very end of February, and has met our needs and provided for us every step of the way. And it looks like we will be moving into our first home at the end of February basically to the day that we moved home. It’s really neat.

With all this change that can happen in life, it gives me great comfort to have a relationship with a God that will never change. All my hope, trust, and strength can be found in him because, to put it plainly and simply, he is reliable. That’s why He is our rock.

That is just a quick update for now. More exciting news to follow.