Wednesday, December 21, 2016

'Tis the Season

With this week’s post I just want to thank our UNBELIEVABLE Drama Ministry and Team for all of their hard work, dedication, and time given with this past Sunday’s Christmas Play.  It was AWESOME! 
Including rehearsals, I believe I saw the play close to a dozen times and it was funny and moving each and every time.  I truly believe that everyone who attended received a blessing.

When new people start attending our church, they tend to get blown away by the amount of musical talent that our church has.  And it’s true!  For a church our size (or any size), we have a ridiculous amount of musical talent.  But, I like to remind people that it’s not just musical ability that we have in abundance.  We have a LOT of extremely talented actors.  I mean a lot.  And it’s great to see them have an opportunity to use their talents for Lord.


So, if you didn’t get an opportunity to see the play in person, check it out on our church website: 'Tis the Season

Merry Christmas and Worship Big!

Brad

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

How Much Do You Practice?

One of the hardest parts of either being in the Praise Team/Band or Worship Choir here at MPBC is how little rehearsal time we get.  Our normal choir practice lasts about 45 minutes and our normal Praise Team/Band rehearsal probably lasts a little over an hour.  That’s not a lot of time to work and prepare songs for worship.  So, what’s the answer to this problem?  Personal practice time.  Everyone has to come to rehearsal prepared and practiced up so that our rehearsals are less about teaching new music/reviewing old music and more about making sure each part or instrument fits into the overall complexity of each song.

So, personal practice time is HUGE.  If you aren’t prepared, you can’t rehearse.  And if you can’t rehearse, you hold everyone else in the group back.  And so, everyone here at MPBC is expected to practice on their own and come to rehearsal prepared.  But, the real question is not whether or not to practice on your own; it’s how much and for how long should you practice?

The old adage “practice makes perfect” is what I’ve always
gone by.  You practice until you get something right.  But is that enough?  I can do lots of things correctly once, but that doesn’t mean that I’ve truly mastered them.  Recently, I read a quote from Bob Kauflin that really sums up very well how much each of us needs to practice.  It says:

“The goal of practice isn’t doing something until you get it right. It’s doing it until you can’t get it wrong.”

Wow!  That is a completely different approach and mindset to practice.  It’s about a true mastery of your instrument or voice.  Imagine practicing so much that it is almost impossible for you to play a wrong chord or sing a wrong note.  But for those of us who lead worship, this is even more important.  When we aren’t worried about lyrics, chord progressions, notes, or drum fills we can truly focus on the Lord and leading others into his presence.  Psalm 33:3 tells us that we are to sing and play “skillfully”.  When we do this, it frees up our minds, hearts, and souls to truly worship the Lord.

So, how much do you practice?  Hopefully, until you can’t get it wrong.

Worship Big!

Brad  

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Where is Your Focus?

When leading in worship, where is your focus?  I know that for most of us we would simply say, “I just focus on Jesus”.  And you wouldn’t be wrong with that answer.  But do you ever think about the people that you are singing/playing to?
Many of the songs that we sing/play are simply songs of praise to Jesus.  They give us an opportunity to pour out our praise, worship and adoration to our Savior and King.  But there are other songs that can have a more intimate and personal meaning to not only us, but also the people we are leading in worship.  And when we sing these songs I like to think about people in the congregation that might need to hear and/or sing the words.  Let me give you an example.

Recently, we have begun singing the song “Great Are You, Lord” during our worship times at church.  A couple of lines from the verse say “You give hope, You restore ev’ry heart that is broken”.  We have a lot of people at church who have lost hope and have hearts that are broken and need to be restored.  And when we sing these lyrics I think about these people and what these words might mean to them and how I hope that God ministers to them through these words.  Not only that, but many times I’ll try to make eye contact with some of these people or at the very least watch them to see how well these lyrics might connect with them and their needs.  It’s amazing to see how the Holy Spirit will use a song and words like these to touch someone’s heart.  They are reminded of their brokenness, but also of God’s ability to heal and restore.  And then in the very next line they get reminded that even in our brokenness God is worthy to be praised as we sing “Great are You, Lord”.

So, as we sing and play and lead, don’t forget the people we are leading.  Don’t forget their hurts, pains and troubles.  And don’t forget that through our worship and through the moving of the Holy Spirit, God can touch and heal hearts and fill each of them with hope.

Worship Big!

Brad

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Christmas Music

Christmas.  It's almost here.  But can I tell you something?  I dislike Christmas music.  Is that okay to admit?  Christmas is the “most wonderful time of the year” unless you are a worship/music pastor in a church.  Why?  Because everyone loves Christmas music, just not “church” Christmas music.  If
you were to ask random church goers their favorite Christmas songs, they would list off about 15 secular Christmas songs before they listed one church song.  Everyone loves singing “Let It Snow”, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, or even “Silver Bells”, but very few people want to sing “We Three Kings” or “Gentle Mary Laid Her Child”.  Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t some very good, even great “church” Christmas songs (“O Come, All Ye Faithful”, “Angels We Have Heard on High”, and “Silent Night”), but the only time people hear them is in church on Sundays.  The rest of the Christmas season, they are bombarded with secular Christmas songs everywhere they go.  So, it’s hard to get excited about singing Christmas music at church.

The other thing that makes “church” Christmas music difficult is that you only sing these songs once or twice a year, tops.  Our praise team/band and worship choir learn one new song a month.  That means we spend 4 or 5 Wednesdays (depending on the month) learning a new song to teach the congregation.  We will then take 3 Sundays over the next month to teach the new song to the congregation.  After that, we will sing/play the song whenever it fits into a particular Sunday’s worship set.  But Christmas songs aren’t like that.  We still take 4 or 5 Wednesdays to learn them, but then we only sing them one or two times leading up to Christmas.  Then we wait eleven months before we break them out again.  It’s really kind of frustrating.

So, what do we do?  I mean, it’s Christmas, we have to sing something. Thankfully, a few years ago some worship artists started coming out with “Christmas” versions of their worship songs.  Sometimes, they would change the lyrics on a verse to something about Christmas and the birth of Jesus.  Other times they would take a traditional Christmas hymn and put it with the chorus of one of their songs.  Either way, it’s a win/win situation.  People get to sing songs about Christmas and the birth of Jesus, but they also get to worship with songs they are familiar with. 

The artist who is the best at this (in my opinion) is Paul Baloche.  He has actually published a couple of Christmas worship albums where he has taken traditional Christmas hymns and joined them with his modern worship songs.  But my favorite modern Christmas worship song is his Christmas version of “Offering”.  He added a new (Christmas) verse to his song and came up with something that feels new, familiar, and "Christmasy" all at the same time.  The video is below.  Enjoy!

video


Worship Big!

Brad

Monday, November 7, 2016

God Hears the Soul

I have been involved in music since I was around 7 years old and for me it is easy to pick up on who is a good singer, who is in tune, and as the old saying goes “who couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket”.  But I have come to understand that God doesn’t give a “hoot” about what someone sounds like, you see God hears the soul.  

Psalm 100:1 says “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands”.  
Make a joyful noise, not a harmonious chord. There is a big difference in a noise and music.  God sees and hears our heart and soul when we sing, no matter what it sounds like to others.  The person that we hear every Sunday who loves to sing out in that awful voice is actually honoring God and it is very pleasing to him.  On the other hand if we sing every note perfectly and we are not doing it for the right reasons then it actually sounds bad to God.  

Matthew 15:8 says, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”  

If you are a person who knows you really are not a good singer don’t worry about it, sing out!  If your heart and soul is in the right place, then God will hear your voice as something beautiful.  If you are one of the folks who think you are a good singer and you get distracted by the folks around you who aren’t as good as you, GET OVER IT. God may actually prefer to hear your neighbor’s voice over yours because He actually hears the soul.  

My prayer is that I will be right with God so that when I make a noise He hears my soul and that when I hear those awful notes from others that I will hear what He hears. I will hear someone praising God through a heart and soul that is prepared to worship.  

Geoff

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Unbelievable

About 8 months ago, we started the official MPBC Facebook page after deciding to use social media as another avenue to reach people.  We started off with different ideas on content and timing of our posts.  Well, I'm sure that those of us on social media know it's power and how quickly things can spread.  Here at MPBC, we recently began to experience that with a post of a certain special music.  

We like to post our Wednesday night special music video's so that people that weren't here can experience it.  This particular video was posted on a Thursday and by the end of that same day, it had 800 views.  That was already far more that any other post had yet.  By the end of the weekend, it had it nearly 7,000 views.  Today, one week later, it has 8,300 views, reached 16,000 people, 224 reactions, 132 shares and 35 wonderful comments.  Check it out:



That's pretty cool.  Not only has that post performed extremely well, it has boosted the activity on every other post with another video currently at 5,000 views!  


Our page likes and shares have soared in the last week as well.  I would love for that to continue and for us to hit 500 page likes by the end of November!  This has also driven more traffic to the website, which is the goal of our page.  

Love it or hate it, social media is an extremely powerful influential tool to reach people of all ages and types and does so at incredibly fast rates.  Who knew that a church in Wilkesboro, NC could do what we do?  Who knew that our Facebook page would blow up in a matter of a weekend?  I've enjoyed seeing God's hand in what we do here and I pray it continues in ways we can't fathom.  

Of course, if you're on social media and haven't already, Like and Share us @ facebook.com/MPBCNC  !

Peace, 

Justin

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Jesus Over Everything

Lately, I’ve been thinking about a most pressing issue. I’ve been thinking about the Church as a whole, and the duties of Christians as individuals. One of our main commands is to simply praise our Savior. As worship team members, that duty is magnified. What we do includes leading the congregation in worship, and potentially prompting them to listen to the Holy Spirit, and what He wants to do in their hearts and lives. This is a wonderful responsibility, but it’s also serious. Sometimes we tend to view leading worship as an obligation rather than a privilege to serve God who deserves so much more. 

I can speak from personal experience when I say sometimes we just don’t feel like doing it correctly. We do it anyway, because we have to. This is not how we should approach worship. As humans, (flesh-driven and selfish as we are) we approach what we do with the wrong perspective. We are “committed” to what we do, no doubt... But, life happens. We are not always going to come to rehearsal with smiling faces and happy attitudes, because stuff happens in life that may contend for our attention and divert our priorities. But we should not let the stuff that happens, shift and change our perspective towards the ever noble commitment of leading worship. Even when we feel “bluh”, we still have priorities to God. 

See, when we think of practices and worship services as something else we have to do, or something we need credit for, we deny God the glory. Worship is centered around approaching God in all His glory, might, and deity to meet with Him and experience His presence. We shouldn’t approach the throne of God unless our hearts are clean, pure, and right with God. We shouldn’t mindlessly play or sing through a song set without taking a few moments throughout to simply acknowledge that we are doing this for His honor. 

As worship leaders, we should set an example. We need to stop bringing our mess into our music and worship. God takes that away, if only we ask. Worship songs are our benediction to God, and we have no right to sing or play it unless we mean it. Don’t get me wrong, I know we are all human, and I know that no one is going to exude expressions of happiness throughout every song, but we need to mean it. We need to return the focus of what we do to Jesus...Just Jesus!  Once we do that, we realize that even though God deserves so much more from His children than what is given, what we give is our best. 

Not only that, but it is our best for Him! And that gives us joy! It gives me joy to know that God changes my perspective if I get bogged down by my responsibilities. It gives me joy to know that, even though I will always have my own problems, I won’t allow them to affect how I praise my wonderful, precious Jesus! He triumphs over our mess, and takes the burden off our hearts so that our minds may be clear as we praise Him. 

So let us make a new commitment: Jesus over everything! With that as our perspective, we, as the body of Christ, can fulfill the great things we are called to do!

1 Peter 4:10-11:  Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in it’s various forms.  If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God.  If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength that God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.  To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Keep Smiling!

Maddie

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Making a Difference?

I have recently been blessed with a new job with Lowe’s Home Improvement.  This is actually my second go around with the corporate office, but I find myself in a different department this time.  So far, I really enjoy being a supervisor in my department as well as the new focus on values that Lowe’s has adopted.  I didn’t expect that the Lord would lead me back to Lowe’s as I have a strong calling to perform some sort of mission work for the kingdom in which I could truly make a difference in our world.  I thought for sure that Samaritan’s Purse would be on my horizon, but that didn’t quite pan out as I had prayed.  Could it be that I can accomplish just as much for the Lord at Lowe’s as I could with Samaritan's Purse?

During my first 6 six weeks, God has already shown me that I can. Despite working for a retailer that survives because of the not-so-mighty dollar, I have found that I can in fact be a difference maker.  In matter of fact, my own boss has told me that he doesn’t expect me to become a subject matter expert in my department as much as he simply wants me to be me.  How cool is that?  My new team needs a leader who can encourage, engage, equip and empower.  It is my goal to implement our core values into each of my team member’s work-lives.  These values include:  being a part of something bigger, being who you say you are, giving your best, and making a difference in someone’s day every day.

I love serving people.  I love being Jesus day in and day out.  While I don’t have the freedom to proclaim the Gospel out loud to my office, I love having the ability of being who God has created me to be.  Lowe’s has changed, and from what I can tell, it has definitely been for the better. 

But am I truly making a difference for God?  

I assist with upset customers who aren’t getting what they want, exactly how they want it or when they want it.  They kick and they scream until they get what they want.  Sometimes they are successful, sometimes they are not.  It all seems so menial in the bigger picture of life and eternity.  Especially now since I have been placed back into the workforce that has taken time away from my family, the church and our worship team.  All areas where I felt that I was making a difference…every day.  Thankfully, I know of a song (go figure) by the group Needtobreathe that has become my anthem since going back to work. The chorus goes:

Oh I am a difference maker.  Oh I am the only one who speaks to him. Oh I am the friendliest of friends of God.

Can it really be this simple?  I believe that it can.  By acknowledging everyone that I come across, by sharing a smile and a simple “nice to see you today”, by treating them like they matter, I can live out the Gospel without preaching it.  I once heard something on the radio that has forever implanted in my brain.  The speaker said that I might be the only Jesus that people encounter today.  As long as I am focusing on being Christ, it will be visible by everyone and then the Holy Spirit can do what he does best…impact lives.

Our Great Commission is for us to go and make disciples of ALL nations.  Each of us have the ability to impact a different piece of the nations, in all different kinds of settings.  If you find yourself questioning the significance of what you do, just as I find myself doing, return your focus to Jesus.  I promise that it is that simple.  He will remind you of what it is that He wants you to accomplish for Him.  Just look at the lives that He was able to make a difference in by simply acknowledging and speaking to them.  I think Matthew would attest to this.

Go make a difference in someone’s life today! 

Have a blessed week,

Scott

Here is the song if you would like to take a listen:

https://player.vimeo.com/video/188001333

Monday, October 10, 2016

Appreciation

October is Pastor Appreciation Month and while I am definitely thankful for Pastor Kevin and Pastor Dale and all they do, with this post I would like to focus on someone else. The person that I am thankful for is a man who doesn't do anything to bring attention or glory to himself.  His only desire is to serve others, the church, and the Lord.  He is extremely selfless and our church wouldn't be the same without him. His name is Jacob Church.

I first met Jacob eleven years ago when he was still in college and he was one of our sound guys.  I never would
have guessed that a decade later Jacob would be on staff at the church full-time as our Media Director and be someone that we couldn't survive without.  He does so many things that people don't know about it, it's unbelievable!  He has been my right-hand man for the last eleven years and the Worship/Music Ministry wouldn't be the same without him.  (FYI-this was the only picture I could find of him.  If you know him, you're thinking, figures.)

Plus, the man has a gift with computers.  When I have issues with my computer, typically all Jacob has to do is walk in my office and it's fixed. I don't know how he does it.  Like I said he has a gift. 

Now, I could probably write paragraph after paragraph about all of the things that Jacob does, but I know that he'll hate the fact that I wrote about him in the first place, so I won't prolong his misery.  I'll simply say, JACOB, I APPRECIATE YOU!!!

If you feel the same, please find him at church (he'll be in the back at the A/V desk-see picture) and let him know.

Worship Big!

Brad 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

This Is Amazing Grace

With this week's post I wanted to go ahead and introduce a new song that we are learning this month and will be presenting to the church next month.  It's called "This Is Amazing Grace" by Phil Wickham.  It's a wonderful song about the power of Jesus and His "Amazing Grace".

I've been considering it for the worship team for about a year or so now.  Phil Wickham was at my conference a couple of years ago and sang the song then.  It was good, but it lacked the “punch” I was looking for in a worship song for the church.  I think that part of the problem was that he was by himself and wasn't being accompanied by a band.  I’ve heard the song on the radio a number of times since then and have found myself liking the song more and more.  The big question I continued to have about it was how would people respond to it when done live with a band.  Well, that was answered for me at my conference last month.  The house band opened up the conference with it and it was AWESOME!  People were really singing and worshiping.  I was sold!

Here’s the video for it:  

video


I hope you like it, because we'll be doing it live next month!

Worship Big!

Brad

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Victory In Jesus

A few weeks ago in my post "Pushing Yourself", I mentioned a song that our team is learning called "Victory In Jesus".  I noted how that song required me to learn a new playing technique that I wasn't used to going into the song.  Well, after some practice and experience with it, I think I have gotten close.  Well, much closer than I was before.

When I played it this past Sunday, I had a moment during the second service that I've been waiting for; that moment where the song just kind of "clicked" for me.  If you're a musician, you know exactly what I'm talking about.  I had a similar experience about 5 years ago on stage when the guitar's fretboard just opened up to me and everything just made much more sense.  This time, it wasn't so much the fretboard and the notes as it was the technique and how to get the sound I want out of that cumbersome glass slide around my finger.  So, below is a 20 second clip of the band playing it on Sunday with my attempt at the song.

Enjoy!!



video


Justin

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Flawless?

I listen to a lot of Christian radio, and I have been listening to it for quite a few years.  I love the inspiring and empowering lyrics that so many songs bring to my walk with Christ.  But recently, I have found myself thinking deeper about the lyrics that are being said amidst the catchy and uplifting music that is coming across my car speakers.  Sometimes, this takes away from my listening experience, but other times, it leads to some really cool chats with my kids.

There is a song that has been played over and over again, relentlessly, for the past 9 months or so and it is driving me crazy!  It has some really questionable theology in it but listeners continue to request it to be played at a very high rate.  The song is by Mercy Me and is titled "Flawless".  Take these lyrics for example:

“No matter the bumps. No matter the bruises.  No matter the scars.  Still the truth is the cross has made, the cross has made you flawless.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I allowed this to go beyond being the catchy tune that it is, I was struck upside my head by these words.  The cross has made me flawless?  I sort of see where the song writer is going with this, but they have this all wrong.  There will come a time for everyone who calls upon Christ as the Lord and Savior of their lives when they will be flawless, but now is not that time.

We are not flawless, by any standard.  We are stained, and we are spotted.  We are sinful human beings who are striving to become more and more Christ-like throughout our lives.  Jesus came to this earth and called us to repentance.  How can we repent of something if we are already flawless? He then took our sins and willingly died on the cross, not so we can walk around feeling like we are flawless, rather, He died to give us the opportunity to be saved from ourselves.

This life is full of highs and lows as well as everything in between.  It is a journey that is full of brokenness, heartache and failure…we are NOT flawless.  We are fallen, sinful men and will remain as such until we pass on from this life and finally meet our flawless Savior, Jesus Christ, face to face.  
On to the next radio station.  Thank you Lord, “But You Loved Me Anyway” by Sidewalk Prophets is playing to remind me of who I am and who I am to Him.

In case you’d like to give these a listen, here are some links for you:

"You Loved Me Anyway"

"Flawless"

Scott

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Conference Observations

Over the past couple of years I have blogged about the annual worship conference that I attend, the Experience Conference. The conference was last week and once again I thought I would share with you some things that you might find interesting.  So, here we go:

1.  Music people are still weird.  I say this every year when I get back, but it's true.  Music people are weird. We just are.  Unfortunately, I think that I am getting weirder as I get older.  Yikes.

2.  Speaking of age, I am getting old.  It used to be that when I went to this conference I was one of the younger attendees.  Now, I think I am becoming one of the older ones.  And to make it worse, the worship artists on stage are looking younger and younger each year as well. There was a group from Liberty University that led worship for one of our morning sessions.  I'm sure they were all in their early 20's, but I swear they looked like they were all 12 years old.

3.  Choirs are dying.  This is hard to say, but it's true.  The conference had a mass choir for the opening night worship session.  They were very good and had a large number of participants (around 100).  The problem is that the vast majority (90-95%) of them were older than me (41).  Unfortunately, this is what you see in most churches around the country.  The next generation doesn't sing (at least not in choirs).  If we don't do something about this soon, worship choirs will cease to exist.

4.  Hats.  Last year the trendy article of clothing was skinny jeans.  This year, everywhere you looked, hats.  And I'll be honest with you, hats are a 1,000 times better than middle-aged men in skinny jeans:) 

5.  It is really good to laugh.  One of my favorite parts of the conference each year is the fact that they have one comedian per worship session.  It's amazing how much more people sing/worship after they've laughed a little bit.

6.  David Crowder should be on Duck Dynasty.  If you don't know who David Crowder is, he is a Christian music artist best known for the song "How He Loves Us".  While he is an excellent singer/songwriter, he looks like a young Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty.

Well, that's it for now.  I'm sure I'll share some more observations over the coming months.

Worship Big!

Brad

Monday, August 29, 2016

Labor On

Next Monday is Labor Day!  Labor Day is celebrated the first Monday in September of every year.  Labor Day was established as a federal holiday in 1894 as a holiday to honor the American labor movement and the contributions that workers had made to the well-being of the country.   While I am extremely thankful to have a job and be part of the labor force I am also thankful to be a Christian and to be part of the labor force for Christ.

Matthew 9:37 records these words that Jesus said to his disciples “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few”.   Life is hard and it is extremely busy.  And while I do have Labor Day off as a holiday I probably will be doing work around the house, you know, trying to cram in things that need to be done.  But do I labor for the Lord with the same vigor?  If I am totally honest I would have to say NO!  We spend a lot of time doing things around the home to keep things looking nice, mowing grass, trimming shrubs, cleaning house…… you have your own list.  But does it really matter?  We like to think it does but there really is no eternal significance to that work.

That is not the case for the work that we do for the Lord.  1 Corinthians 15:58 states “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”  The work that we do for the Lord has the potential for eternal significance and yet we don’t take it seriously. We work it in when we can.  This has to change. We must make the Lord’s work a priority. Some people like to work alone, others like to work with someone else.  I actually am one of those CRAZY people who like to work but I must admit that on the hard jobs it goes a bit easier if there is a little help.  You have probably all heard the saying “many hands make light work”.  I could not find a verse in the Bible that this comes from however there are many examples in the Bible about helping each other.  The greatest helper we could hope to have is Christ and in 1 Corinthians 3:9 it states that “For we are laborers together with God”, I don’t know about you but I believe that if God is helping us out then there is nothing that can’t be accomplished.  You do remember that he is the creator of ALL!

During this upcoming Labor Day weekend let’s evaluate the work that we are doing for the Lord. If you are doing nothing, get involved, your help is needed.  God has given you a gift and whether you are in the praise team, teaching Sunday School, working on the security team or whatever you do, do it for the glory of God.  LABOR ON!

Geoff

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Pushing Yourself

The Praise Team recently started learning a new-to-us song called "Victory In Jesus".  It's a rendition by Travis Cottrell that is quite different than the original. (the song is below) When I first heard the song I really liked it and knew for certain that our congregation would love it.  But, this song consisted of something I'm not really all that used to.  That would be slide guitar.  

https://player.vimeo.com/video/180196493

Being 1 of 2 rotating lead electric players at MPBC, I knew I would have to learn it, or come up with something similar at the very least.  For those of you who know me, you could probably guess that slide guitar really isn't my thing.  I've messed around with the technique before, but never really took an interest in it or even that style of music.  However, our other lead guitarist, Robby, loves slide guitar.  He's been playing that style of music and technique for 11 years and is great at it, so I definitely had him show me a few things.  I've slowly been able to pick it up over the last few weeks.

Now, I'm still not great at it and I still don't really like the technique all that much.  It doesn't fit my taste in music or my style.  But, I say all that to say that I wanted to learn it for a couple of reasons:

First, because anything new that I learn that stretches me just makes me a better musician.  Over the years that I've played guitar, I've learned many styles and genres of music just to expand my horizon, whether I liked it or not.(Musicians: you would be amazed at what you pick up when you do that.) 

Secondly and most importantly in this case, I wanted to learn it because I believe that our congregation will enjoy it.  For me, that's what it was about.  As a praise team, we want to present songs that our congregation will enjoy.  If they enjoy the song and are really into it, they will most likely be easier led into the presence of God.  I could have came up with something other than a slide part for this song way easier and in less time than learning slide, but I feel that it would taken the joy away from this particular song. We want to write and present songs that our church will enjoy, songs that the people of MPBC can worship Jesus to.  For me, that's what matters.

Peace,

Justin

Monday, August 15, 2016

Overcoming Stage Fright

I’ll never forget sitting behind the church keyboard back sometime in the fall of 2008 in complete and utter stage fright. I had played the piano at numerous recitals and had sung at countless events, but playing for worship was something entirely new to me. Somehow, Pastor Brad had talked me into playing this “new” song called “Amazing Grace My Chains Are Gone” and I regretted saying “yes” with a vengeance! My thoughts ran wild as the hot light shown over my head.

What if I mess up?

What if I quench the Spirit? 

What if God is really moving and then I suddenly hit a bad key and ruin it all??

Playing is 10 times scarier to me than singing. Somehow the path from my brain to my vocal chords is a lot more “clear” than the path to my fingers. It’s still that way to this day. Over the years I have learned that playing music is rewarding in it’s own unique way from singing. There is something amazing and humbling about actually making the music.
However, those weren’t my thoughts at 14-years-old. So, there I sat in dread. But with shaking fingers I began to play and listening to people worship along with the music I created brought tears to my eyes. The Lord brought me through the panic and from there the path to playing in church broadened and grew. I thank Jesus for those days of being a young teenager and the encouragement of family and friends to play in front of others. I believe I matured in general because of those moments of performance. It’s like they say, “The only way to get better at performing is performing.” 

In the end, we know it’s all about God and if I had messed up, He would have reminded me that I was doing my best for Him. He often reminds me of that now when I mess up… and I do so often!

I say all of this to say, if you have felt led to play an instrument or sing in worship and have been living in the shadow of stage fright or worry of messing up and have therefore you have chosen not to use your gift… I encourage you to give it to God and just try. If you mess up, join the club. See, there is something to be said for being vulnerable before men in order to bring God praise. I believe it pleases Him when we sacrifice our pride and ourselves so that His name is lifted high. It’s all about Him anyway!

Katy  

Monday, August 8, 2016

There is Power in "Our" Blood

So I'm currently sitting in a donation chair at the American Red Cross blood drive in our fellowship hall and I, once again, find myself floored by the awesomeness of God's creation. How amazing is it to know that blood can be taken out of our bodies, bagged, transported, stored, and then used to save another person's life?

There is truly an awe-inspiring power in our blood!

But at that very moment I found myself humbled by the crazy power that is found in His blood. I love how our Lord can bring me and my lofty thoughts about myself back down to earth. Just read these lyrics with me...

Would you be free from the burden of sin?
There's power in the blood, power in the blood;
Would you o'er evil a victory win?
There's wonderful power in the blood.

There's absolutely nothing in our limited power that can even begin to touch that. We have been liberated from the burden of sin, because of His blood. We get to claim the ultimate victory over everything evil, because of His blood. Ultimately, we have the honor of praising our Savior for all eternity, because of His blood!

There is truly a wonder-working power in the blood...of the Lamb!

Scott

Monday, August 1, 2016

A New Voice

So, I had a topic that I had been planning to write about for a few weeks, but then I heard it...the voice.  Ever have that happen?  You hear someone sing and it just kind of overwhelms you?  Well, that happened to me this weekend.  A couple of weeks ago I bought a CD of one of the worship artists that will be at my worship conference next month.  I like to get familiar with the different artists that will be there so that I can participate more during the worship times.  And yes, millennials, I bought a CD.  I'm old school that way.  In fact, I'm old enough to remember buying cassette tapes, records, and even listening to my grandparents 8-tracks (young people-you'll have to google it).

Okay, back to the voice.  So, I put in the CD, hit play, and there it was.  The voice of Lauren Daigle.  
Wow, she can sing.  She kind of reminds me of Adele, only she's not British and she's not singing about setting fire to the rain.  

Now, some of you might already know who she is.  I'm pretty sure they play some of her music on Christian radio.  As weird as it is, I don't really listen to Christian radio that much. After listening, playing, editing, and teaching music all day at work, I typically just listen to sports radio in the car.  Plus, anytime I do listen to Christian radio they are playing the same Casting Crowns, Jeremy Camp, and Third Day that they were playing 10 years ago.  But I digress. 

I'm really enjoying her CD and thought I would share one of her songs with you.  It's called "Trust in You".  Here are the words to the chorus:

When You don't move the mountains
I'm needing You to move
When You don't part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When You don't give the answers
As I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You

What powerful words!  

Proverbs 3:5-6 says "Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take."

Even when we don't understand, we still need to trust in the Lord!  Here's the video to "Trust in You" if want to watch. Enjoy!


video


Worship Big!

Brad

   

Monday, July 25, 2016

Not a Fan

So, on my vacation this past week, I started a book called Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman. (If you haven't read it, run to Steve's store and get it--it's SO good!) This book is difficult to read because it is putting me through an intense pruning process... Am I just a fan of Jesus or do I truly follow Him? We all hope that we are true followers, but sometimes it is hard to discern. 

I want to share a passage from the book with you. This is a passage that the author has written about Nicodemus:

"Here is the reality that Nicodemus is about ready to have impressed on him: there is no way to follow Jesus without Him interfering with your life. Following Jesus will cost you something. Following Jesus always costs something. For Nicodemus it would cost him a powerful position. It would cost him the respect of his co-workers. It would cost him his source of income and livelihood. It would cost him friendships. It would likely cost him some family relationships. This brings up a very telling question for most fans: has following Jesus cost you anything?"

Whoa. This paragraph alone hit me like a ton of bricks. How much am I truly sacrificing to be a follower of Jesus? I think back on things that I've thrown away to be able to follow God's plan for my life, but did I once make the choice which would really cost something of me? I think that too often we fall into a rut, we get complacent and we stop stepping out of our comfort zones. We make small gestures towards our co-workers, but never step on their toes. We pray for our family members, but don't talk to them about why we are praying for them. To be a true follower, we've got to get out on the field and get our hands dirty. We can't sit in the stands, cheering when things are going our way, and then fleeing for the doors when they aren't. Jesus doesn't call us to be complacent in our lives, but to be disciples, going out of our way to make sure that everyone knows about Him. Think about the NFL for a second. There are millions, probably billions of fans. Many fans are truly die-hard fans, like my Daddy for the poor Cowboys-- he will never give up on that team, even though they are terrible! But other fans just buy the t-shirt and go to the game for some fun. Other fans started young, and have committed their love and life to that game and those are the ones that are on the field. They get out there, week after week, ready to defend their team's honor. That's how Jesus wants us to follow Him. He wants us on the field, bright and early, day after day, ready for whatever play He decides to throw our way! It isn't always comfortable, we don't always know exactly where the path might lead. But we can be certain that if we are truly following Christ, the He will lead us exactly where we need to be. 

I pray that each of you except the challenge this week to be a Christ follower--not just a fan! 

Savannah 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Excellence and Perfection

In all areas of leading worship I truly believe that God wants us to give our absolute best.  But, what exactly does that mean?  Is offering our best about playing or singing every note perfectly?  Is it about having the perfect stage presence at all times?  Is giving our best about never making a mistake on stage?  Or is it about excellence?  Excellence and perfection...there is a difference.  Does giving our best equal perfection?  I would say that your best and perfection are, more often than not, two completely different things.  Rather than perfection, I think that giving your absolute best is the definition of achieving excellence. 

For me, perfection is often times unreachable. For those of us that are human, I believe we'll find the same to be true. As a musician, I understand that we want perfection, or at least our idea of it.  In the past, when striving for perfection, I came up disappointed every time.  However, when you understand that you aren't perfect and nothing you do is going to be "perfect", it makes it that much easier to see God in what you're doing.  I would even venture to say that when things aren't so perfect on stage, it starts to look more like what worship is supposed to be: bringing all that we have to show worth to the One whom we adore.  I'm thankful that Jesus doesn't ask me for perfect.  He asks me for me.  In that, I give Him my absolute best.  I think that we have really arrived at something when we understand and are okay with the fact that our best typically isn't anywhere near perfect.  Here are a few points on this topic that I read recently:

Perfectionists value themselves by what they do.  Pursuers of excellence value themselves by who they are.  

Perfectionists can be devastated by failure.  Pursuers of excellence will learn from it.

Here's one that really hits home with me:

Perfectionists want to be number one.  Pursuers of excellence can live with not being the best, especially when they know they've tried their hardest.  

A fact that I've come to cope with is that I'm 24 years old and there are just some people in the world who are more talented than I am.  I can practice, I can rehearse, I can learn but some people are just more talented than me.  That's okay.  

I would encourage you to take your idea of achieving perfection in what you do and change it to striving to give your best in what you do.  Go for excellence.  Be okay with not being perfect.  God asks for you; for your best.  Give it to Him.

Peace,

Justin

Monday, July 11, 2016

On the Outside Looking In

Life sure is getting messy these days.  I don’t know about the rest of y’all, but our nation seems to have accelerated into a whirlwind of immorality over the last year.  With all of the turmoil, my apologies, ‘progress’ that has been made toward gender equality, the most basic morality has simply been tossed out the back door.

I have found the song titled “The Outsiders” by Need to Breathe to be a nice representation of where we, as Christians, stand in today’s culture.  Those of us who have chosen to follow Jesus Christ have definitely been shoved into the realm of political incorrectness due to our conservative beliefs and focus on right versus wrong (the new right).  It seems that everything that we consider right is now wrong, but as the song so eloquently puts it, “just ‘cause I’m wrong it don’t make you right…no, you ain’t right!”

There are times when all I can do is shake my head in disbelief and laugh.  Just as the song exclaims - “cause if you’re not laughing, who is laughing now?”  As grave of a situation that we find our nation in, we can rest assured that Jesus has already won!  As long as we focus on this fact, nothing that this world throws our way can steal His everlasting joy from us despite their efforts at doing so.

The book of Revelation shows us that our world will only continue to digress as it turns further and further away from the Bible.  And those of us who follow Christ will be mocked, slandered and laughed at for our faith and extreme ‘intolerance’ towards the ways of the world.  As our biblical foundation continues to be chiseled away out from under us, the question is “if we stop sinking, could we stand our ground?” 

I like to replace ‘could’ with ‘would’ in that verse while I am singing along.  I believe that it is a matter of will, a choice that we must make to step up and defend the Truth that we stand by.  We must take the kind of stand as proclaimed in the song, “I’m not leaving without a fight.  I’ve got my holster around my side.”  We are about to find ourselves embedded in a lopsided battle, and we need to be grounded in our faith and rooted in His word like never before.  

So where does this ridiculous movement end?  I know that we haven’t seen the end of it, but I am back to shaking my head and laughing as to what absurd thing is going to happen next.  I have simply accepted what Need to Breathe concludes when they sing - “and through everything we’ve learned, we’ve finally come to terms…we are the outsiders.” Yes, we certainly have become outsiders, seemingly on the wrong side of history, but each of us are owners of the freedom that this world is longing for.

Here's the song if you want to listen:  https://player.vimeo.com/video/173791676

Scott

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

From Generation to Generation

Last week I attended a worship conference called "WorshipLife" that was hosted by Lifeway Worship Resources.  One of the speakers was Mike Harland (the Director of Lifeway Worship Resources).  I would like to share with you some interesting thoughts that he had concerning the book of Psalms.

In the book of Psalms many of the chapters have an introduction called a superscript.  They say things like "for the choir director" or "to be accompanied by stringed instruments" or "sung by David to the Lord concerning some battle".  But what is truly interesting is that some of these Psalm intros say that they are to be sung to the tune of very specific songs.  These melodies were so familiar that everyone would know how these Psalms were supposed to sound.  But over time, these melodies have been forgotten.  Think about that.  God preserved the text, but not the melodies.  Why?

Could it be that we aren't supposed to know how those songs sounded because each new generation is supposed to come up with their own melodies, their own music?   

As I get older, I can definitely see how melodies and music change from generation to generation.  My parents' and grandparents' generation was comfortable singing hymns like "Amazing Grace" and "How Great Thou Art" to the piano and organ.  My generation is comfortable singing praise songs like "Revelation Song" and "How Great Is Our God" to an acoustic guitar or praise band.  The generation after me...well let's just say that they are coming up with some truly unique sounds and arrangements.  

But regardless of how each generation sings the Psalms, it is the lyrics and theology that come from the text that ties and connects us all together.  

Psalm 96:1 says "Sing to the Lord a new song".  

New songs...but with timeless words. 

Worship Big!

Brad