Friday, August 10, 2018

Carry the Flag

It’s a privilege to lead in worship. The more I do it, the more I am in amazement at the honor it is to reflect worship for the Maker of the universe. It’s a pretty big deal. 

With such an honor, comes a responsibility to be genuine in our worship. The worship that we do when we speak to our families, give to others, deal in business and conduct our lives is way more of our time and a reflection of who we are than anything else. If that worship to God isn’t cheerful and genuine and in alliance with His Word, then neither is the 20 minutes playing or singing on a lit stage. It’s a pleasure to lead with a pure heart before God, because it is just “right.” And you can feel it. I know because I have done both. I have gotten up there knowing that I didn’t really have a pure heart before God and chose in that moment to beg His forgiveness so that it would be real and prayed that He would help me not make that mistake again. 

I think of leading in worship like carrying a flag into battle. The flag being the representation of bringing pure praise to God and His holiness.  Satan wants us to trip and fall and drop the flag. He wants us to mess up. But like Peter, when we keep our eyes ahead on Jesus, gripping that flag as we look on Him, He will guide our every step and we need not worry one bit. 

So carry that flag... that mic, that guitar, those drum sticks. 

Katy

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Music and Missions

Put your heart and soul into every activity you do, as though you are doing it for the Lord himself and not merely for others. For we know that we will receive a reward, an inheritance from the Lord, as we serve the Lord Yahweh, the Anointed One!  A disciple will be repaid for what he has learned and followed, for God pays no attention to the titles or prestige of men.
– Colossians 3:23-25

Since Paul and Aquila were both tentmakers by trade, Paul moved in with them and they became business partners. Every Sabbath day Paul spoke openly in the synagogue, to both Jews and non-Jews, attempting to persuade them to believe the message of Jesus.
– Acts 18:3-4

CONNECT


As Christians reaching out to a lost world, I have found that common interests are a great place to connect with someone, build a relationship, and introduce them to Christ. God created us each with desires and interests and that is GOOD! Many people feel guilty for their hobbies if they are not explicitly Christian (i.e. sports, music, video games, shopping, etc.). But have you ever considered that your interests have been given to you to further the kingdom. There are so many things that I enjoy and God has showed me how to enjoy them in a way that can build relationships with others and share His truths.


I love coffee! So the Lord has given me this dream of one day being a coffee roaster. The coffee roasting industry is an avenue to make direct relationships with farmers all over the world, buy their products, and share the good news of the gospel.

I love hiking! Last year God allowed me to go to Alberta, Canada and walk in His Spirit (or Hike in His Spirit is more like it). Going with two other friends and listening for direction from God and being obedient, we met two other hikers. For 4 hours we were on a long hike with these two individuals and we were able to share Christ’s Gospel with them.

There are so many avenues to connect with people. Three of my favorite things are music, coffee, and soccer. Not necessarily in and of themselves, but for the fact that they are a common language across the world. You will find them in almost any country.

WHY MUSIC

Music, however,  is my favorite because it reaches people in so many ways.

1.  You create unity with someone, by sharing a similar language (music), and are able then to meet them where they are.

Why it’s biblical: Jesus, though fully God, He also chose to be fully human. He brought himself to our level to understand our human needs and to be tempted in every way, but overcame it. He related to our humanity.

2.  You learn to die to self. By embracing nuances of other cultures in your music, you unify with them even more for the sake of the gospel. You don’t even have to fully know a language in order to memorize a powerful song with deep theological teachings.

Why it’s biblical: Jesus spoke in parables. His parables were always symbols that were relatable and understandable to his audience. He knew what appealed to them and what they understood.

3.  We embrace in creativity… which is how we were designed. God expresses who He is in his creation. We express who we are in our creation such as music. How many times have we found ourselves without words to pray to God, or words to express how we feel or what we think, but we find a song, an artist, or collection of songs that embrace it. Music, art, creativity is a symbol of who we are. We learn so much more about each other and once again create a deep unity.

Why it’s biblical: Romans 1:18-20 and Acts 17:26-27 

THE POWER OF MUSIC IN MISSIONS

I first saw how powerful music can be in missions when I watched a documentary done by Bethel Church called “Holy Spirit”. In this film I watched as a man and his guitar posted up in a public place in India and just simply played his guitar and sang… he sang about freedom. People began to crowd around and soon he was walking streets and he had a crowd of followers drawn to him and his music. Soon he was asked by Hindu temple officials to play on the steps by one of their sacred rivers and also was invited into the temple. This is unheard of.

However, this man and camera crew went with courage in obedience to India. They just followed the Holy Spirit’s lead. As I watched this, I wept. I wanted to be a part of this. 
I pray that when I leave on the World Race (11 countries, 11 months mission trip), that one of the ways that I can share the truths of God is through music. 

Use music; use your interests in this world to proclaim the gospel to the ends of the Earth!

Kaylin



See the same blog on my World Race blog page:

https://kaylinstarbuck.theworldrace.org/post/music-and-missions

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The New Song

Picking out new songs is something that every worship leader is thinking about on a regular basis.  Believe it or not, it can be a pretty daunting task and there's a lot more thought that goes into it than you may realize.  

Every church is different.  Some churches introduce multiple new songs to their congregation every week.  Some churches introduce one new song every week.  For us, things are a little bit different.

The ultimate goal in everything that we do as a worship team is to lead people to a meeting place with Christ.  Our song selections are extremely important in that mission and we plan our worship sets around it. We also want our congregation to participate and enjoy the songs we do.  Here at MPBC, we really try to approach this task with utmost caution.  Why?  Because we give ourselves about 9 shots at this per year.   In my research I've found that is a bit less than other churches.  So, why are we only doing 9 new songs per year?  We introduce 1 new song per month.  With our church and team schedules, we allow 2 months during the summer that we aren't introducing a new song to the congregation, then beginning in December, we're in the thick of Christmas music.  So, that leaves us with 9 opportunities to pick out great songs for our church.  

With only 9 new songs per year, we have to be very intentional about what we're singing.  We want our people to sing.  We want them to be led to Jesus.  We don't want them to be inundated with new songs so often that all they can do is just listen because everything is so unfamiliar.  We want our congregation to really learn the songs we're doing so that they can participate when that song is in the rotation again.  We want the songs we do to mean something to our congregation.  We even want our original songs we write to model this.  We want songs to bless the family that is struggling to make it to church that morning.  We want songs to bless the person who is lonely.  We want songs that bless the broken.  So, we are very intentional when it comes to new songs.  We have found what songs our congregation responds to, so when it comes to picking out new music, we have to ask ourselves if it will truly bless our people and if it will speak to them.  Will they participate?  

Another reason we allow ourselves 9 songs per year is because we really want our band to become great at playing the song.  If we had new songs every week, that means the previous song we learned doesn't get played as much so we don't have the opportunity to really get good at the song.  We strive for excellence on our team and we want to honor the Lord in what we do, so we practice our craft and get good at it.  I feel that it's only responsible of us with what we have been given.  We spend time on the new songs we're learning.  We make sure we have all the stops.  We make sure instruments aren't playing on top of one another.  We make sure that guitar tones and piano sounds are correct and match the song.  We believe that every small detail builds the song.  

We also want to make sure these songs are sound.  We analyze each and every line of the song.  We want to make sure they will connect with our people.  Is it the most popular worship song in the country right now?  That's great!  If our people wouldn't sing it or enjoy it...guess what...we aren't doing it.  One of the things that I love about MPBC is that we know who we are, and we know who we aren't...plain and simple.  We embrace what works...here.

If you're a worship leader in your church and you posses the task in helping pick out new music, then I encourage you to do the same. Find what works. There are a lot of great songs out and I think they will just keep coming.  Figure out what works in your church and maybe what doesn't.  Be intentional about what you sing. Consider your people.  Don't feel like you have to do it because it's the biggest song out right now.  Embrace who you are and what Jesus wants you to be.

Peace,

Justin

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Would You Like to Dance?

Since the beginning of this blog, Brad has asked members of the praise team to write posts, encouraging us to write about the technical side of music, how God is using music in our lives, or even a blog post about one of our favorite songs.  So here it is, my long awaited blog post about one of my favorite songs, “Lord of the Dance”.  For those of you not familiar with this song, please do not automatically start thinking about Michael Flatley dancing around on the stage.  They are two different things with only a title for any type of connection.  

I first heard “Lord of the Dance” when I was in college and thought it had a great tune.  (It’s also the tune of the old Shaker hymn “Simple Gifts”).  However, I think the reason I like the song so much is because it tells a story from beginning to end.  From creation, to the calling of the disciples and the resurrection all poured into one song.  I’m just going to assume that most people have never heard the song (gasp!), so I’ve attached a link to the lyrics so you can see what I’m talking about.


I often take the opportunity to ask (beg) Brad to sing this song and he has promised me that he will sing it one day...at my funeral.  (For those of you who are still around when I am called home, hold him to this promise!)  It has become some sort of joke between us, which has expanded to a joke between me and most of the praise team and choir.  Laugh as they may, it doesn’t change my love of this song.  

A few weeks ago, we were attending services while visiting family in Georgia.  The pastor was preaching from Matthew 8 about Jesus calming the storm and spoke about the often overlooked portion of this scripture where it says Jesus got into the boat and His disciples followed him.  They didn’t ask questions, they just followed His lead.  

At the end of the service, the pastor shared a story about how much he liked to dance and he wanted to teach his daughter how to dance.  As he pointed out, Augusta is one of those towns where you can find resources to teach your kids anything, but he wanted to be the one to teach his daughter, so he rented a space and convinced a few other dads to bring their daughters and he taught them how to shag, foxtrot and waltz.  He said that he told his daughter, “I’ll lead. . . just follow me.”  And then he said it.  He said, “in the same way, Let Jesus be the Lord of the Dance”.  In other words, let Him lead, you just follow.  

I’ve thought about this song and the pastor’s words many times since that day.  How often do I truly let Jesus lead?  Am I allowing Him to lead as I follow in my actions, words, deeds and even (or especially) in my worship?  How often does He lead me to do something and I fail to follow?  Jesus can lead “wherever you may be” in your life if you will just let Him.  So tell me, would you like to dance?

Shelley

Thursday, July 5, 2018

No Longer Slaves

With this week's post I want to share with you the video for a song that many of you will already be familiar with.  The song is "No Longer Slaves" and the video is from Church on the Move (COTM).  The original version of the song is by Bethel Church and is very well known.  But recently, I came across COTM's version of it and I just can't stop listening to it.  


The Worship Pastor at COTM is Andy Chrisman.  For those of you who are a little bit older (like me) you'll recognize him as one of the members of the 1990/2000's group 4Him. They had 27 songs hit # 1 on Christian radio including "The Basics of Life", "Where There is Faith" and "For Future Generations". They were my
favorite Christian group when I was in college. In fact, the very first concert that my wife and I ever attended together
was a 4Him concert.  My oldest son's first concert was also a 4Him concert. They stopped singing together a number of years ago and moved onto other opportunities.  

Two of them are now Worship Pastors.  Andy is at COTM.  It's a massive church in Oklahoma.  Mark Harris is at
Gateway Church in Dallas, Texas.  It's one of the largest churches in the country and we actually do a number of Gateway songs here at MPBC.  It's pretty cool to see how God has continued to use them in ministry. 

Now, out of the 4 guys in 4Him, Andy Chrisman was by far my favorite.  In fact, he's probably my favorite singer of all-time.  When I get to heaven, I hope that God let's me sing like Andy.  So, when I stumbled upon him and his church doing this song, I was hooked. The video is below.  Enjoy!



Worship Big!

Brad  

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Worship Fails

As a worship leader, it is easy to get down on yourself or your team when you make mistakes or have a "bad" worship set.  It used to drive me crazy when I sang a wrong note or played a wrong chord on my guitar.  And if someone else on the team messed up then I would get really frustrated and upset.  But as I've gotten older I don't get upset like I used to.  If I have a bad Sunday musically, I know that another Sunday is just a week away and I can try to do better then.  And if someone on the team messes up, I remember that I've probably messed up even worse and I'm the "professional".  

Another thing that makes me feel a little bit better is watching videos from other churches.  Now, I'm not wishing any other worship team or leader to have issues, but sometimes it is a little bit reassuring to know that I'm not the only one to make mistakes.  

So, I would like to share a couple of worship "fails" that I found online.  As far as I know, no actual worship leaders or teams were harmed in the making of these videos.  So, enjoy!






So, just remember that when you have one of those Sundays where nothing goes right, it could be worse.  You could be one of these worship leaders/teams.  Or as I learned last week in Vacation Bible School, you could be like Lazarus.  Because he was deadđŸ˜‰.

Worship Big!

Brad

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Still

As believers, we are reminded how important it is in our lives to have quiet time with the LORD every day.  I am going to be honest, some days I fail at spending quality quiet time with the Lord. This is not something I’m proud of, but rather an area that I seek to develop more self-discipline. Yes, I try to read my Bible and pray every day, but I know I struggle sometimes with rushing through. Sometimes, I can make myself feel better knowing that I can put a check mark beside of Bible reading and prayer.  However, I’m sure Jesus doesn’t want our relationship with Him to simply be in a box that we can check off each day. I know He desires more of us than that.

 Unfortunately, in many areas of my life, I struggle with being in a hurry.  I hurry to get ready in the morning.  I hurry to work or encourage Sam to drive a bit faster to get us there. (We ride to work together most of the time.) Then when I arrive to work, I hurry to get the day rolling and quickly get our first patient back so that neither our doctors nor our patients have to wait for very long. After my job is completed, we rush to get home and figure out what we are going to eat for supper, and then work on some housework/yard work. By the time these things are finished, sometimes I am so tired I just want to plop down in front of the television with my jammies on and just vegetate for a while. 

At times, there are moments when I hear the Holy Spirit speak to my heart and say, “You haven’t spent any quiet time with me today.” Periodically, I will stop what I am doing right then and do my quiet time. On other occasions I will sense the Holy Spirit prodding me and somehow I will get distracted with something else. It seems like a million other things will come to mind that need to be done. Or when I pick up my Bible, my cat, Fuzzy who always prefers to sit on Sam, will decide to be extremely affectionate with me. She will jump up in my lap, and even climb on my Bible!  I truly believe Satan uses that cat to try to steer me away from reading the Bible sometimesđŸ˜„. Then when I begin reading, I often get extremely heavy eyelids and doze off to sleep. When I wake up, I realize that it is time for bed. Another day comes and the cycle starts all over again.  Our lives are fairly routine. But I want time with the LORD to be anything but routine.  I want to experience His glory, worship Him in spirit and in truth and be ever aware of His presence. I want to stop being sucked into wasting time on useless things when I could be spending time with the King:  King Jesus. 

 A few nights ago, Sam was playing basketball at church, and I experienced the presence of the Lord so strongly. I had fixed some grilled chicken and quietly began to eat at the table.  I looked out the back door to see the most beautiful pink tinged clouds hovering in the big sky. Sunsets are one of my favorite things, so I grabbed my phone and went out the front door to capture a glimpse of the incredible beauty.  I
wasn’t finished with supper, so I took my plate out and sat in the driveway facing the breathtaking pink and gold sky.  As I sat there, I became overwhelmed with the beauty of God’s creation. I was in awe that the same God who made the shimmering sky and all of creation loves me, yes me, Carly Blevins in spite of all my failures.   He knows everything about me—every tear I’ve cried, even the number of hairs on my head. He knew me before I was born, He knew when I would become His child, and He has all of my days written in His book.  He knows when I will breathe my last and go to be with Him forever.  I don’t long to die necessarily, but sitting there I just longed to be with Jesus and to see Him face to face. The presence of God was so immense…my eyes welled up in joyful tears.  The words of a Kari Jobe song rang out so true “…when You walk in the room there’s nothing like it.”  

There really isn’t anything like it.   Do I experience this kind of thing every day? No, but when I do, it starts a fire in my soul and I just want more of Him.  I want to live my life in complete abandon of the things of this world and seek Jesus with my entire being.  I want to hang on His Word and time in prayer like my life depends on it; and truthfully, abundant life in Christ does depend on it. I want my life to be emptied of selfish gain and poured out into serving others and seeing souls come to know Jesus!

Lord, please help me learn to be still, to slow down enough to see you and hear from you each day. Even in my busyness, help me to always remember to put You first and be still and know that You are my God.

I will close with the lyrics to a favorite older song of mine called “Still” by Watermark. Watermark was made up of a husband and wife duo, Nathan and Christy Nockels. They have officially ended days as Watermark, but are still a strong married couple. Nathan is a songwriter and producer, and Christy is a songwriter and worship leader. These words speak to my heart:

The more I get alone
The more I see I need to get alone more
More
'Cause just when I think that I’m alone
Your Spirit calls out to me
And even silence has a song
And that’s when You come singing over me
Still
Let me be still
Let me be ok with the quiet in my heart
Oh, still, I want to be still
I’m so quick to move, instead of listening to You
Shut my mouth, crush my pride
Give me the tears of a broken life
Still

In Christ’s Love,

Carly