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!


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.

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.



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!


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!


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!

Worship Big!