Monday, September 28, 2015

Never Gets Old

Do you ever do anything that just gets old after a while?  Whether it's work related, running errands or just chores that need to get done at home, some things just get old pretty quickly.  It seems that this life can be full of things that are kind of bland or boring. Somethings are just downright dreadful! But with the busy lives we have, it's inevitable; some things are just going to get old.

Now, for me, there are a few things that I don't seem to grow tired of.  Honestly, the first thing that comes to my mind is playing with my 2 year old son, Elijah.  Every day when I come home, we play on the floor together.  It never fails, as soon as I walk in the door, he is pulling at me trying to get me down on the floor to play with him.  No matter how tired I am I absolutely can't get enough of it.  That has to be one of my favorite things to do!  Another thing for me is quiet time.  We probably don't think about it in this way too often, but for me, when I do get quiet time, I enjoy it.  Whether it's 10 minutes after the kids have gone to bed or the drive to work; quiet time just doesn't get old for me.  

However, during our worship set on Sunday, I was reminded of something else that never gets old:  seeing and hearing God's people worship.  For me, it's so easy to see Sundays and Wednesdays as a chore. Since I'm very much a "doer", I find myself getting caught up in the moment, making sure the MultiTracks fire when they need to, making sure that I'm not forgetting anything and that I've prepared enough, making sure I'm on the right patch on my pedal board, etc.  It's been a while since I've just chilled out and looked out over the congregation while they worship.  I love the sight and sound of a multi-generational congregation all singing together and raising hands together.  In my mind, that must be just a little bit of heaven on earth.  

That's what I love about MPBC.  Our church loves to worship.  And man, let me tell you; it never...gets...old.



Monday, September 21, 2015

Beards and Skinny Jeans

Two weeks ago I attended my annual worship conference in Florida.  As always, it was a great time of worship, training, and refreshing.  And I thought with this week’s blog post, I would share with you some of my observations while there.  So, here goes:
  1. Music people have a hard time being punctual.  Each of the main sessions began at a very specific time with the doors opening 30 minutes early to give everyone an opportunity to find a seat before the session began.  And still, about half of the 1500 people in attendance couldn’t seem to find their way into the building until the sessions had already begun.  It kind of reminded me of our early service on Sundays where most of the congregation doesn’t show up until after the opening song.
  2. Most music/worship ministries are small.  I had an opportunity to meet and talk with a number of worship leaders from around the country and most of them are part of worship ministries that include themselves and 1 or 2 other people.  When I would share all the people we have involved, they would just drop their jaws in disbelief.
  3. Everyone uses loops/multitracks.  We started using multitracks (loops) at the end of the spring and they’ve really added a lot (musically) to our worship times and our overall sound.  Well, every group/band/artist at the conference used them except Josh Wilson (but when you can play an acoustic guitar like he can, you don’t need loops).  Even bigtime Christian artists like Steven Curtis Chapman (who led in worship during one session) used them. 
  4. Beards.  Musicians love to have facial hair.  Whether it’s a goatee, sideburns, soul patch, or just a 5 o’clock shadow, music people love to decorate their faces.  And apparently 2015 is the year of the beard.  I’ve never seen so many beards.  Although my favorite were the guys with full beards and long hair pulled into buns.
  5. Skinny jeans.  What is it with musicians and skinny jeans?  To even think of pulling off the skinny jeans look as a guy, you’ve got to be super skinny.  Most of the guys I saw were not.  And don’t worry; there isn’t enough money on the planet to make me wear skinny jeans.
  6. Vocal issues.  Wow, the number of men leading who had their voices crack.  They sounded like me singing “Great I Am” at our 8:30 a.m. early service.  Maybe the notes come out, maybe not.  It was the same for them.
  7. Technical issues.  The right lyrics never seemed to be on the screen.  Sometimes the MC’s mic would be on.  Sometimes not.  When videos would play, there was normally 10 seconds of silence before the sound was turned on.  And during the last session, one of the projectors came loose and almost fell.  You’ll never appreciate MPBC’s tech team more than when you go to a conference.  They are the BEST!!!

So, that’s just a few of the things I observed.  I’ll share more in the coming weeks and months.  And who knows?  I might even grow myself a full beardJ.

Worship Big!


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Pursuit of Perfectionism

I tend to be a major perfectionist. Sometimes that’s a good thing, but most of the time it’s a bad thing. I really beat myself up if I don't do something exactly how I had planned and I beat myself up the most when I mess up during a performance of some sort. That can be a major pride thing for me. I am slowly, but surely learning that I shouldn't be this way. Yes, I do need to be concerned about doing the best that I can, but I don't need to be angry with myself or anyone else if something doesn't go exactly as I had planned. 

I have recently been thinking about perfectionism in the church setting. If something doesn't go exactly how we had practiced or planned on a Sunday or Wednesday it is so easy to get completely caught up in the mistake/mistakes. It’s easy to think, “Well that ruined the moment.” But did it really ruin the moment? It’s interesting because when I’m watching people perform or lead something and they mess up I find it endearing. It’s actually encouraging to me to see that they are real people who are trying their best, but sometimes come up short. I have to remind myself that when I am beating myself up about my mistakes I am taking my focus off of God and putting it back on myself. That is most definitely a sin.

Perfectionism is a delusion. The bible says in Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” and Ecclesiastes 7:20 says, “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.”

We are not perfect people so that makes it pretty hard to accomplish everything perfectly. This can be a touchy subject because it’s easy to fall into the world of, “Only God is perfect so we shouldn't even try.” That is a commonly preached misconception. The Bible says in Matthew 5:48, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” We are to strive to be like our Heavenly Father with the understanding that it is okay if we have times of failure. Ultimately, the glory is to be given to God no matter what happens.

I am learning to give up the pursuit of perfectionism and pursue giving the glory to God at all times. In the long run I think that will be a lot more rewarding and a lot less frustrating. I am so thankful to have a perfect Savior to set the example for us. We have been made pure by Him and now we must continue to strive to be like Him in all things. The next time you have a mess up moment remember that the glory is to be given to God! He is the reason we are hereJ.


Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Next Step

By nature I am a worrier, I can’t deny it.  I try not to worry but oftentimes I let worry steal my joy.  I know that God is in control and that I have nothing to fear and God has never failed me.  Last week I had to make some decisions about buying a car.  I hate buying cars.  It literally makes me sick to spend that kind of money, but my old car had been in the shop 3 times recently and I was still having problems. So, it was time to put her out to pasture.  When I buy a car it is like buying a horse, I just need good dependable transportation. It doesn’t matter what color or anything as long as it will get me from point A to point B.  Last week I was in Matthew for my morning devotions and on Monday I read Matthew 1-6.  Chapter 6, verses 25-34 was what I needed to hear.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Now I had read this passage many times and I know that I shouldn’t worry but these verses were just what I needed to hear from the Lord.  Isn’t it funny how God always gives us what we need, when we need it?  Well I needed to hear this word loud and clear so for the next two days I re-read Chapters 1-6 again, always ending in Chapter 6 with a clear word about not worrying. 

While reading this passage an old song came to my mind.  The song is entitled “The Next Step”.  I remember hearing the Inspirations sing this song when I was a very young boy and I hadn’t heard it in many years.  With today’s technology it is not hard to find anything with an internet search. So, I found the words to that old song so here they are:

Verse 1
Why worry about tomorrow.
Why worry when your steps grow slow.
If your life has been lived for Jesus,
You don't have much farther to go.

For the next hand you shake could be the hand of the Saviour.
Your next step could be on streets of purest gold.
Your next meal could be the marriage supper,
And the next touch you feel He could be blessing your soul.

Verse 2
Be strong and keep on working;
Don't be angry when things go wrong;
Don't give up for it's almost over;
All signs are pointing toward home.

The words of this song make it clear why we should not worry because we don't know where our next step will be.  I also found a recording of this song by the Freeman's.  This is not a contemporary/praise and worship song like we typically do at MPBC, but the words are great!  My hope and desire is that some of the songs that we sing now will pop back into the minds of people and be an encouragement at a time when encouragement is needed.  Maybe tomorrow or maybe even 20-30 years from now (if the Lord does not return before then).


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Stirring the Soul

Have you ever been listening to music and you hear a new song and it just does it for you?  I mean, you just get it.  Whether it’s the music or the lyrics or both, it just moves something within you.  Well, it happened to me last week.  I was listening to a new CD and when this song came on, I just had to listen to it over and over again.  And I’ll be honest with you.  I’m grateful that moments like this still occur.  I’ve been involved in music ministry within the Church for over 20 years and sometimes I get a little bit burned out.  I listen to, teach, play, sing, and perform music all the time.  And sometimes I grow a little bit numb to it all.  But then there are moments like last week where it all becomes new and fresh and exciting again.

Psalm 96:1 says “Sing to the Lord a new song”.  For years I’ve always seen this verse as a justification for why we write new worship songs.  Because you can’t sing “new” songs to the Lord if no one is writing anything “new”.  But recently, I’ve started to see this verse a little bit differently.  I think that one of the reasons we need to sing new songs to the Lord is because they can re-stir our souls in a way that old, worn out songs can’t anymore.   That’s not to say that those old songs aren’t of any use anymore.  It probably just means that we need to take a lengthy break before singing/playing them again.  That way when we pull them out again, they become fresh again.   The old becomes new.

At MPBC, we try to introduce one new song a month. Hopefully, it’s one that moves the soul and helps to encourage people in their walk of faith.  And just in case you are wondering, the song that I heard last week and had to listen to over and over again, is “Jesus, We Love You” by Bethel Music.  Here's a link to the video:  I hope it re-stirs your soul the way it did mine.

Worship Big!