Monday, June 29, 2015

Asleep in the Light

A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of speaking on a Sunday morning here at Mt. Pleasant.  My message that morning was on the “Transfiguration of Jesus”.  One of the things that I mentioned from the Transfiguration account was that while Jesus was being transformed (His clothes became dazzling white and His face began to shine), His disciples (Peter, James, and John) were sleeping.  Light was emanating from the face of Jesus and His 3 closest disciples were sleeping.  They were literally asleep in the light of Jesus.  And as I wrote this section of my sermon, I was reminded of an old song by Keith Green called “Asleep in the Light”. 

I’m not sure how many people remember or even know about Keith Green.  He was a Christian recording artist from the late 70’s and early 80’s.  In my opinion he was the Christian
version of Billy Joel.  He was our “Piano Man”.  He was leading in worship before worship leading was cool.  And he wrote some awesome songs!  If you’ve ever sung “There is a Redeemer” or “Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful” in church, then you have Keith Green to thank.  He also wrote a song called the “Prodigal Son Suite” that is one of my favorite Christian songs of all time.  It is over 12 minutes long (songs could be longer in the 70’s) and is unbelievably powerful.  What’s truly amazing about it is that he wrote it before he became a Christian.  He used to play it in bars.  Here’s a link if you want to listen to it:  

But as I mentioned before, he also wrote a song called “Asleep in the Light”.  It’s about the apathy that was a part of Christendom in the 70’s (imagine what he would think about the Church now).  People tend to care more about themselves than they do others and he wrote a song about it.  The lyrics are below as is a video of Keith Green playing/singing the song in 1978.  Don’t laugh at his hair or clothes.  I’m sure he was at the height of fashion in 1978J.  

Do you see, do you see all the people sinking down?
Don't you care, don't you care
Are you gonna let them drown?
How can you be so numb not to care if they come?
You close your eyes and pretend the job's done
Bless me Lord, bless me Lord You know it's all I ever hear
No one aches, no one hurts no one even sheds one tear
But He cries, He weeps, He bleeds 
And He cares for your needs
And you just lay back and keep soaking it in
Oh, can't you see its such sin? 
'Cause He brings people to your door
And you turn them away as you smile and say
God bless you, be at peace and all heaven just weeps
'Cause Jesus came to your door 
You've left Him out in the street
Open up, open up and give yourself away
You see the need, you hear the cries so how can you delay?
God's calling and you're the one but like Jonah you run
He's told you to speak but you keep holding it in
Can't you see it's such sin?
The world is sleeping in the dark
That the church just can't fight
'Cause it's asleep in the light
How can you be so dead, when you've been so well fed
Jesus rose from the grave and you
You can't even get out of bed
Jesus rose from the dead, come on, get out of your bed
How can you be so numb not to care if they come
You close your eyes and pretend the job's done
You close your eyes and pretend the job's done
Don't close your eyes, don't pretend the job's done
Come away, come away, come away with Me my love
Come away from this mess, come away with Me, my love
Do you see, do you see all the people sinking down?
Don't you care, don't you care
Are you gonna let them drown?

Tragically, Keith Green died in a plane accident in 1982.  His music and ministry have had a significant impact on my life and I hope you are moved by his music as well.

Worship Big!


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

"MultiTracks" So Far

    Back in February in a blog post called "What's Next For Recording - Part 2", I mentioned that we were going to being using something called "MultiTracks".  We began using them shortly after that post and are continuing to do so.  From what I've observed, the team really seems to be enjoying them for several reasons. 

    First of all, with having the tracks, we not only have a click track that keeps us all together, but we also have something called "cues".  The cues are a voice within the tracks that only the singers and band members can hear that tells us which section of the song is next.  For example, when a song begins, a voice says "intro" and counts in for us.  A few beats before a chorus, the voice will say "chorus".  So on and so forth.  I think I can speak for the entire team when I say "we love it."  Recently, when talking to people about using this feature, I was asked the question, "Well, shouldn't you all know the song well enough to not need a voice telling you what's next?"  My answer is that when you've done the song in several different arrangements several different times, the voice is certainly reassuring.  In worship music, it's typical for a certain section of a song, say the bridge for example, to be repeated several times.  Reason being is that particular section could be a strong declaration to the Church, or a soft cry to God, therefore it's repeated for emphasis.  The song "Victor's Crown" repeats the bridge 4 times in the middle of the song, then another 5 times at the end.  A voice telling us where we are is appreciated.  

    The second and most noticeable feature is the music/instruments that the tracks add.  I had no idea that most of the music we do had so much going on.  For most of these songs, they have layers and layers of not only instruments but sounds; sounds that we couldn't recreate no matter how many people we had on stage.  If we had all of the musicians in the area on stage, we still couldn't recreate some of the things in these tracks.  The reason for that is when they were recorded, an engineer came up with a sound or a beat that was unique to that song.  It would be next to impossible to recreate it exactly.  

    Up until a few weeks ago, the MultiTracks were there to accompany what we were already doing.  If I may present an example again, "I Will Rise", a song that we've done for a long time had a nice cello part in the original recording.  However, we don't have a cello on stage.  With the MultiTracks, the cello is there.  So the next time we did the song, what did we have?  A cello.  The MultiTracks have taken a new role for us with the song "Do What You Want To".  This is a song that is very much driven by several different synthesizer sounds and computer generated beats and string sections; things that we just can't recreate in a live setting.  Here is a link of our Praise Team presenting the song a couple of weeks ago.  Listen to what instruments stick out in the song; especially the verses.   Enjoy!





Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A 10 Year Review

Every year on VBS Sunday, the stage gets overtaken by VBS props, and the Praise Team/Band gets replaced by a bunch of acoustic guitars and a djembe.  Well, this year I decided to do something different.  This year it was me (on acoustic guitar) and a few singers from the Praise Team and we did a 10 year review.  In September, I will have been here at MPBC for 10 years and in that time we have done a lot of songs.  And so, I went through 10 years of songs and put together a medley of 12 “retired” songs that encompass my time here at Mt. Pleasant.  We did some old hymns and some old praise songs that everyone knows, plus some old praise songs that are very specific to Mt. Pleasant.  Do you know what the best part was?  It was fun!  I really enjoyed going through all of those old songs.  Just sitting in my office playing songs on my guitar that we haven’t done in years (in some cases close to 10 years) was a very nostalgic experience.  And even after all of these years, they still fit.  They still touch the heart and move the soul.  And I hope they still touch your heart as well.  The video is below.  Enjoy!

Worship Big!


Monday, June 1, 2015

False Worshipers???

In John 4:22-24, Jesus is speaking to a Samaritan woman and He says "22 You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. 23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”  In verse 23, Jesus mentions "true" worshipers.  If there are "true" worshipers, then there must also "false" worshipers.  What kind are you?  A better way of putting it might be to say, is your worship real and authentic or is it ignorant, hypocritical, and apathetic?

One way to find out is to check yourself against Jesus' words in these verses.  In verse 22, He said that the Samaritans know very little about the God they worship.  Is that you?  Is your worship ignorant?  Do you really know who God is?  Do you know what the Bible says about Him? Do you spend time in prayer with Him?  Do you have a relationship with Him?  If not, then how can you truly worship Him?

Or maybe your worship isn't ignorant, it's hypocritical.  You show up on Sundays (because you know you are supposed to), but your heart, mind, and spirit are somewhere else.  How can you worship God in "Spirit" if yours is somewhere else?  You might be fooling some people, but you can't fool God.  He sees your heart.  Or maybe your worship is hypocritical because of what you are involved in.  Your life is full of sinful activities, and you know that Jesus is offering a better way (the Truth), but you just aren't willing to give your life fully to Him.  And yet, you show up on Sundays and pretend.

Another type of "false" worship is apathy.  This one might be the worst. You can't be a "true" worshiper of God and act like you don't care.  So many people show up for worship on Sundays and then act like they can't get out of the building fast enough.  Pastor James McDonald (Walk in the Word Ministries) says "It's a tragic condition if you can see God touching other people and moving in their lives, but feel nothing yourself—and it doesn't even bother you. Apathy has no part in true worship."  That is one of the most depressing statements I have ever read. 

So, what type of worshiper are you?  Are you seeking to worship in Spirit and in Truth?  Do you want to know God more?  Are you willing to give yourself to Him? Or are you worshiping out of your own ignorance, your own hypocritical nature, or your own apathy?

Verse 23 says that God is looking for "true" worshipers.  I pray that each week God has to look no further than MPBC.

Worship Big!