Monday, January 27, 2014

The Power of Music

     So, this week as I was thinking about what topic to blog on, one idea just kept coming back to me:  The Power of Music.  Now, if you've been following the blog since the beginning, you know that we've talked a lot about the power of music to connect us to God and to each other.  And if you've served in any type of leadership role within a church music and worship ministry over the past 20 years, then you also know how music can cause divisions, arguments, and even church splits.  People love to argue over music styles, traditional hymns versus praise and worship songs, and even what instruments are appropriate for worship (organs versus guitars).  But with this blog I would like for us to look at a couple of aspects of music that we often forget.

     In 1 Samuel 6, the Bible says that the Spirit of the Lord had left King Saul and that he was now being tormented by an evil spirit of fear and depression.  Some of Saul's servants believed that music could soothe his soul.  So, King Saul told them to find him someone who plays well.  One of his servants responded by telling him of a young man named David who was very talented on the lyre.  King Saul sent for David and David soon became the king's armor bearer.  Along with this, it says that whenever the tormenting spirit would trouble Saul, David would play his lyre and the king would feel better and the tormenting spirit would go away.  Now there are 3 things I want us to see from this story:

1.  Music has the power to soothe the soul.  Whenever David would play his lyre, Saul's soul would be comforted and refreshed.  Sometimes I believe we forget that the music we play and sing can help bring comfort to people's souls.  What a wonderful gift that we can give!  It's easy to get caught up with the latest and greatest songs or styles of music, but sometimes we need to remember that the people in our churches are struggling with life and they need comfort for their souls.  We can help with that by simply playing music.  Amazing!

2.  Music has the power to drive away evil.  Whenever David would play his lyre, it wasn't enough that Saul's soul was comforted, the Bible also says that the evil spirit was driven away.  Just think about that.  The music we play and sing in church can actually drive evil away.  That's pretty cool!  So remember that the next time you are playing or singing music in church.  You are helping to drive away evil.

3.  David was very talented.  He wasn't just your run of the mill lyre player.  The Bible says that he was very talented.  One translation says that he was "gifted".  I don't believe that David was making a "joyful noise".  He knew what he was doing with his lyre.  And for us to truly be used by God to help bring comfort to people's souls, I believe that we've got to be talented on our instruments as well.  Too much is at stake for us to settle for just being ok.  We can play a role in bringing comfort and peace to people's souls, but we need to make sure that we are prepared to play our part.

     What an awesome privilege and responsibility we've been given!  The power to soothe souls and drive away evil can be found in our music.  Wow!

Worship Big!


Monday, January 20, 2014

What Do You Delight In?

Greetings MPBC bloggers. 

     Psalm 1:2 says "But his delight is in the Law of the Lord...".  This concept of Delighting in something is pretty profound  and it is where I'd like to park my hat for a few minutes.

     What are things we would readily claim that bring us true delight?  Can you name 3 things?  I think of things that bring me joy and happiness, yet finding something that brings delight is more challenging.  In my mind, the concept of delight entails a level of active pursuit of that item.  When I find such pleasure in something I will naturally pursue it. 

     OK, so I know there is a difference in happiness and delight.  One is an emotion and the other is a joyful pursuit. When was the last time I had a joyful pursuit of a set of rules and guidelines?  I look at the Lawmakers in Washington DC and the laws they generate and in large part I feel pretty annoyed.  That is mainly because I know the hearts of the lawmakers who represent us are more interested in their own gain than in the well being of their constituents.

     The thing for which I am so thankful is that God designed laws that are made for our well being.  He had US in mind when He made those rules.  Following His rules brings true freedom and real joy.  Why would I not want to actively pursue those rules if they make my life better? 

     Actively pursue...Delight in...Let us all pause to evaluate if our lives honestly reflect a DELIGHT for His Law.

God bless !

Keith Anderson

Monday, January 13, 2014

What Mistake?

     When thinking about this week's post, I decided that I wanted to write something that would be a very practical help when leading worship.  Since we started the blog, there have been a lot of really great posts about the theology of worship, excellence in music, and even our own experiences with worship, but there haven't been a lot of "how to" or "what to do" posts.  So, this week I want to change that.  I want us to look at a topic that I believe we all need help with:  "What to Do When You Mess Up".  That's right.  What are you supposed to do when you make a mistake while leading in worship?  I've come up with a few rules that I believe will help us.

Rule # 1:  Don't Make a Face!

     The first rule to remember is probably the hardest one to actually accomplish.  When you mess up or make a mistake, the first instinct is to make a face.  But when you do that it lets everyone else also know that you made a mistake.  So, you've really got to train yourself to not focus on the mistake you just made and get back into the flow of worship.  But this rule doesn't just apply to the person who made the mistake.  It also applies to everyone else on stage.  If you mess up and don't show it, but everyone else looks at you and makes weird faces, then once again the entire congregation knows that a mistake has been made.  So, this first rule really applies to everyone.

Rule # 2:  Just Keep Going!

     This second rule is important because after we make mistakes we typically want to hang our heads in shame and just walk off the stage.  Don't give in to that kind of thinking!  Keep the song going.  Keep playing.  Keep singing.  Don't let the flow of worship be interrupted by your mistake.  We have been called by God to lead in worship.  That calling doesn't end just because we messed up.  What's amazing is that most people won't even notice when you make a mistake.  So, if you stay focused on what you are doing, and for whom you are doing it, then typically, everything will work out in the end.

Rule # 3:  Don't Dwell on Your Mistakes!

     Now, this third rule goes along with the second rule.  If you make a mistake, you've got to learn to let it go and get yourself focused in again on what you are doing.  Because if you don't, you are liable to make more mistakes.  Which you would then focus too much on and cause you to continue making even more mistakes.  I've gotten a lot better about this the older I've gotten.  10 years ago, if I made a mistake while leading worship, it would drive me crazy.  That's all that I could think about.  Now, I understand that I'm going to make mistakes (every time I play/sing) and that being a part of a worship team means learning how to deal with them.

Rule # 4:  Learn to Laugh at Yourself!

     I can't begin to tell you how important this rule is.  Once you've mastered it, life gets a lot easier.  I mess up every Sunday while leading in worship.  Whether I am playing an instrument or singing, I make plenty of mistakes.  And over time I've learned that it's ok.  It doesn't mean that I'm a bad musician or a bad worship leader.  It just means that I'm human.  So, now when I mess up or our team messes up royally, I just try to laugh about it.  It helps to relieve the pressure and just reminds me again and again that I'm not perfect.  

     Now, there are probably many other good ideas and rules to follow when you make a mistake.  These are just some that I try to remember when I mess up.  All of that to say, there are moments when the rules probably should get thrown out the window, the music should come to a complete stop, and everyone should just have themselves a good laugh.  The video below shows a church (not ours thank goodness) that follows rules #1 thru # 3 perfectly, but in reality, should have just called it a day and enjoyed themselves a good rule # 4! 

Worship Big!


Monday, January 6, 2014

A Leader Worth Following

    As worship leaders or leaders in general, we tend to focus on one thing:  Leading.  That sounds reasonable, right?  Isn't that what we are supposed to be focused on?  Yes, but not  just leading.  Leading people into a place of worship and setting up a meeting between the congregation and the Lord should be our goal and focus.  However, it can be very easy to get distracted from that ultimate goal as a worship leader.

    This distraction can come from many things.  It can come from getting caught up with things within your worship or just the daily "ins and outs" of scheduling, planning, coordination, etc.  Then, when we come into the worship setting, our minds are occupied by these things and our focus suffers as does our ability to lead. It's important to keep a clear vision of the end result that you are attempting to achieve.  This is true for any type of leadership, not just worship leading. 

    I think one thing that we should keep in mind is that we should be a leader worth following.  Not every leader is a good one; would you agree? Not just thinking about the worship setting, but have you ever had a leader that has not been worth following and had no idea where he was leading his group of people?  Of course; we all have.  It's almost painful being led by a person like that and you question their every move.  But, have you ever been led by someone that knew exactly where they were going and had your best interest in mind?  Let's hope so.  The perfect example of this is Jesus.  Think about that; we know that Jesus definitely has your best interest in mind and is driven by His love for you and constantly extends grace to you.  Now that is a leader worth following. 

    We know that He will never lead you in a wrong direction and will stick to you closer than a brother ever could.  With that said, for me, this is where being a worship leader ties in with our relationship with Jesus.  What I mean is sometimes it's easy to get so caught up in leading that we forget to follow.   Personally, I have to keep a constant check on this.  One thing that I have learned is that if you are not following Jesus, you cannot lead other people.  If you haven't cracked open a Bible in a while or prayed in two weeks, then it's hard to expect to effectively lead others to a meeting with Him.  It's hard to lead your people to a body of water that you yourself haven't found yet. 

    If you are focused on your own relationship with him, seeking after Him and looking for the next place He is leading you and your people, then, when you step onto the stage or platform and focus on that congregation, having their best interest in mind, they will see that and want to be led.  To be a good leader, you must focus less on your ability to lead and more on your ability to follow Christ.  That will point your congregation to the greatest leader that is worth following....Jesus.