Tuesday, July 25, 2017

An Honorable Job

My grandpa told me once that any job, no matter what it is, is an honorable job.  He said whether it’s flipping burgers, working as a substitute teacher, CEO, or any other profession, as long as you work hard to supply for your family, are dependable, and commit your work to the Lord, no one could look down on you.  My mother has said that the Lord has always blessed her and my father with health and strength to work each and every day.  “We will never be rich but we’ve never missed a bill because the Lord provides”, she would say.  I believe this to this day, as I have worked in a few different fields (literally while working in the Christmas tree fields of Ashe County). Through them all I have tried to be thankful for health and dependable to a hilt, though sometimes I just don’t want to go, or I may disagree with the people who have authority over me.  I’m sure all of us have days like this in our workplace and in the duties we have at home and church.  If you will allow me some “creative license” (as Pastor Kevin says) maybe we can find honor in our jobs (particularly in the church).

Have you ever thought about how many “jobs” are taking place every week at MPBC?  All the people on staff (that are kinda on call because if something goes wrong who will be there to deal with it), the kitchen crew who works to feed all of us weekly, the grounds keeper, the cleaning crew (think about how big our campus is when you think of these two), security teams, teachers for Sunday, VBS and Wednesday nights, the sound booth, video crew , band, choir, the person that folds the bulletin every week (how would you like to fold probably 400+ every week?), the coffee maker  (and when they’re gone we know it don’t we?). I’m sure there are more than that, that I can’t recall, who come every week to work for the Lord, everyone of them does their part and does it well.  

You see we all have a role to play in the “body of Christ” in that no one can say that any of these duties are not important, think about what would happen if they all went away overnight. MPBC would be an overgrown lot with dirty facilities, where the chairs never get moved (there’s another job, the chair movers), food is not cooked, no fresh batteries for the mics, no coffee (I, with some of you, just winced). MPBC would not exist.  

All of these above are physical things.  What about the more spiritual things?  The body is physical along with spiritual.  Let’s start with the feet.  Feet are good for one thing only and that is “going”. At MPBC we have people who have traveled literally to other continents to spread the gospel of the Christ. Through our mission teams to other places peoples hearts have been changed. The heart is the boiler in the belly of the ship that gives energy to everything on board. Just as compassion for the lost fuel the fires to GO, for without compassion what would be our motivation to work out in the hot sun to build a church in Mexico with our bare hands?  

The hands are the way we physically connect to the world by a loving hug, swinging a hammer, playing guitar, holding a rifle to defend our freedom, or making a beautiful tapestry.  People that are the hands of Jesus are the one’s who are in the grit of the world. They may hug you or help you build a garage, or go to China just to love on handicapped children, or they may put you in a velvet vice when you need to be guided with some force back to Christ.  The elderly lady who prays without ceasing for her grandchild and the person who does mundane work without much recognition could be the backbone of the whole thing (I mean, when was the last time you gave thanks for your backbone?).  

The voice are those who preach, sing, or write to proclaim the gospel with a white hot fervor or to give encouragement quietly to someone in need.  None of it works without someone to lead and do the logistics, which could be the brain.  

Now this is just an image of what the “body of Christ” could be, there are many different parallels that you could put with this example, and someone could be multiple parts simultaneously, but all of them should have the same thread running through which is to work hard, be dependable, and commit yourself in every aspect to the Lord.  Give thanks for health and strength and never think that your job is not honorable.  “For the body does not consist of one member but many...but God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.  If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it”-1 Corinthians 12:14, 24b-27.   
In C.S. Lewis’ writing, The Screwtape Letters, Screwtape is guiding his nephew along in the practice of tripping up Christians using all different techniques. You see, they are demons working for “Our Father down below” which is Satan.  In chapter 2, Screwtape says this, “One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to those humans”.  You see the Church body has spanned throughout time while still bringing the same message which is redemption through grace, but we struggle to see anything beyond ourselves and what our story is. And even as this piece of literature is fiction, I believe that it is correct.  Our tempters do see the Church through time because they have been trying to bring it to destruction ever since it began.  

So, instead of looking at our positions and seeing worthlessness, mundane and think, “what is the point?”, let's see our jobs as part of a bigger painting that glorifies God. and just doing that alone is enough to bestow on you honor of the highest rank.  Not to mention all the things that you do for your family, church, friends, and your profession which are all honorable and the Lord sees those also.   I hope you can find encouragement in these words and realize that whatever you do, commit it to Lord, and it will be “An Honorable Job”.

I say go for it!

Derek

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Wounds and Wins

A few weeks ago I heard a Worship Pastor say that we (meaning Worship Pastors) judge ourselves by our "wounds and wins".  Meaning, we judge ourselves by all of the hard and rough times we've gone through in ministry and by all the successes we've experienced in ministry.  And it's true!  Put two Worship Pastors in a room together and they'll start off by talking about the good things they are involved in within music ministry, but eventually they will begin showing off battle scars from all the wars they've endured during their time in ministry.  And in all honesty, most of their time together will be spent telling war stories and showing off scars and more recent wounds.  Well, with this week's post I want to share with you some of the "WINS" I've experienced at MPBC and not get bogged down by the "wounds" and scars I've endured and accumulated in my 20 years of ministry.  So, here we go:

1.  No More Worship Wars:  We have a church that doesn't argue about music and musical styles anymore.  Any church that has been around for awhile will eventually have to deal with what style of music they are going to have.  And I am happy to say that MPBC gives me and the worship team the freedom to use whatever style of music we want or need, to create an atmosphere of worship.  That can't be said in a lot of churches across the country.  They argue every week over what instruments will be played, whether to sing modern worship songs or older hymns, and how loud or soft the music needs to be.  I'm grateful to say that we are past that.
 Now, that doesn't mean that everyone is happy with the musical selections each week.  No, it just means that people understand the fact that not every song or style has to be geared towards them.  Sometimes, we do songs for the younger generation (like "Grace Like a Wave") and sometimes we do songs for the older generation (like our version of "Victory in Jesus").  Our people seem to understand that worship isn't about them.  And that is most definitely a "WIN"!!!

2.  Congregational Singing:  We have a church that sings.  Now, don't get me wrong, not everyone sings.  But as I look out over the congregation each Sunday morning, a LOT of people are singing and participating.  Some, obviously more than others.  But still, they're participating and that's pretty awesome!

3.  The Next Generation:  One of the great things about MPBC is how many young adults are involved in the music and worship ministry here.  They are actively involved each
and every Sunday in leading in worship.  They are gaining great experience and it's good to know that one day when my voice is gone and I can't play the guitar anymore, someone else will be ready to step in and take my place.

4.  The Passion Play:  This year we'll be presenting our 9th Passion Play.  It seems like just yesterday I was asking Kelly Nichols to play Jesus in our very 1st play and now we're on our 3rd actor to portray Jesus.  The Passion Play has been a tremendous ministry for the church and a blessing to
everyone who has participated in it or witnessed it (at least I hope).  We've seen a number of people make decisions for Christ throughout the years and also a number of people get introduced to MPBC for the first time who have since come to be active members.  Many of them have gone on to participate in the Passion Play themselves.

5.  Investment:  We have a church that is willing to invest in the music and worship ministry.  Most churches don't like to spend money on music.  It always seems to come in last in terms of need when compared to other ministries within the church.  But not here.  The church is proud of our music and worship and is willing to invest money in it to make it better.  The church was even willing hire a full-time Media Director and hire me an assistant who has become our worship ministry associate.  I know a lot of other Worship Pastors who would love to have the help that I have.

6.  Worship Projects:  One of the really cool things that we've been able to do here at MPBC is to record our own worship
CD's.  And through them we've been able to share the gospel and encourage people.  I've been amazed to hear stories of people in other states who have heard one of our CD's and how a song that we wrote or recorded helped them through hard times they were going through or encouraged them to be more dedicated to following Christ.  It's pretty cool!  

Now, I'm pretty sure I could just keep on listing example after example of "WINS" that we've seen here at MPBC, but I think you get the idea.  I've experienced a lot of "wounds" in my time in ministry, but I'm grateful for MPBC, because now my "WINS" far outnumber them.

Worship Big!

Brad  

Thursday, July 13, 2017

An Old Favorite

In today's music culture, new music gets released all the time, even in christian, church-based music. It seems like Bethel is coming out with a new record every 2 months.  The idea of new music is great and I love it.  However if you're a worship leader in your church, you know it's up to you and/or your team to pick music that you think would work for your congregation and that will lead them into the presence of Jesus.  For me, I sometimes have to remind myself to think about our congregation when listening to new music.  There's so much new music being released and for the most part, I really do enjoy it all.  But not every new christian song is going to work in your church.  Not every new Hillsong single is going to connect with someone other than the 20 year old college student.  So, for those reasons, we have to think of our church as a whole.  Do you ever scroll through the radio stations hearing all the new music that you aren't quite used to, then you find the station that plays the 80's hits and it just feels familiar?  In the same way, sometimes in the midst of all the new music in the christian world, it just feels good to hear an old favorite.  

I'm excited about our "new" song for August.  We are breaking out a song that we used to do called "Here In Your Presence" by New Life Worship that was released in 2010.  I really do enjoy this song musically and lyrically.  It's one of few songs that talks about just being in the presence of God and the emotions associated with it.  To me, it's brilliant and our congregation enjoys it.  It's been a few years since we've done it and we've since added the use of MultiTracks, which have a click track for the team, a vocal guide and other backing tracks that we can't pull of live.  In our recent month of practice, I can really tell the progress our team has made in the last few years.  We have a lot of the same people, but we are much tighter and are just better musicians and that goes for everyone on the stage.  Needless to say, I've really been impressed with the progress it's made.  I'm really excited to re-introduce this song to our congregation.  There's something to be said for breaking out an old favorite.  It's a breath of fresh air for most folks and for those who haven't heard it or had the chance to experience it, it's a nice surprise.  


If you're searching for a new song for your congregation and seem to be stuck, look back at some of your old music and see what's there that might work again.  Challenge your team to re-learn it, focus on the song and really try to capture some of the nuance you may have missed in the past.  I know you'll be blessed by it.  You may even be able to notice some progress made by your team's maturity and musicianship.  We'll re-introduce "Here In Your Presence" again in August, but until then, check out the video of the song below!



video

Peace, 

Justin

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Jesus Never Fails

In last week's blog post I shared how I was disappointed in the way that the conference I was attending was utilizing choirs.  There's nothing wrong with a choir who performs.  I was just hoping they would also show how a choir can be used for corporate worship time.  One choir I saw did sing "Revelation Song".  Unfortunately, it was in latin.  That was kind of how the week went when it came to choirs.  But, even with that disappointment, there were still some good things at the conference.  And one of those things was Cana's Voice.



Cana's Voice is a trio consisting of Jody McBrayer (Avalon), TaRanda Greene (The Greenes and Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir), and Doug Anderson (Signature Sound).  They were outstanding!  And the best song they did (at least in my opinion) was "Jesus Never Fails".  I'll be honest.  I am biased towards that song.  It was the first song I sang in church after I started taking voice lessons during my senior year of high school.  My voice teacher taught it to me and another young lady he was working with.  So, it does mean a lot to me.  

But even beyond my bias it is an unbelievable song.  It was a #1 song for the group Truth back in the 80's but is still relevant even today.  It simply states that no matter what you are going through and no matter what is happening in the world, there is one person who will never fail-Jesus!

Here's a video of Cana's Voice singing "Jesus Never Fails". Make sure you watch at least until the 2:34 mark. That's when it gets really good😉


video

Worship Big!

Brad