Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Right Game

Have you ever just sat somewhere and “people watched”? You can do this anywhere really, whether that is in a busy mall or just at the movie theater before the movie starts. I like to do this just to see what I can gather about someone in a few moments. What I see would most likely be different from what you see, just because of people's individual point of view. This blog may come across as negative or even condescending, especially in the beginning, however I think if you stay till the end we may have a different view. 

What I see: I see people of all ages that are constantly in motion, either at work or on their personal time. We have created a lifestyle climate that does not sit well with the quiet. I mean when was the last time we stopped and enjoyed life? This fast paced life has created many side effects, and just like medicine, the side effects can be worse than than the issue at hand. I believe the worst side effect is that the family has been placed in the reserve fuel tank. Anybody who has ridden dirt bikes or four wheelers have been in a situation where the motor starts “spittin and sputterin”  because the gas tank is dangerously low, so you stop and turn the reserve fuel tank on just to get back home or to make it to the truck. We have done the same thing for the family. In this fast paced life the is no room for them, except in the reserve tank. We run here and there at breakneck speed all day, and then when we finally make it home (after two practices and fast food while planning the weekend activities) there is no gas in the tank, so we turn it to reserve and give just enough to make it till bedtime. Repeat. Repeat again. "Oh yeah, we have that thing this week, and finally the weekend. Have you checked the game schedule? We only have four games on Sunday this season, that’s not too bad is it, and spring break is just around the corner." I see parents who devote so much to their child, there is nothing left for the spouse. People in middle management positions at work especially. Through the pressures placed on them, or by their nature, they just can’t get away from that "darn phone" or the emails piling up. I see people who have nothing good to say about social media, yet check their phone 15 times an hour. People seem burned out at church every time we come together. Husbands and wives insult each other while in a crowd. I see mothers pushing the stroller with their right hand, her pocketbook falling off her left shoulder, she's holding her phone with her left hand, has shopping bags hanging from her right forearm, and her teenage son and husband walk clueless beside her. I see garages full with cars parked outside. All around... people are just OVERWHELMED, with the pace of life. 

I also see selfless people who devote much of their time to others. Fathers that will help with dishes and laundry, who will share wisdom with his children. Mothers who pray for the prodigal son to come to his senses, and young women that carry themselves with class and dignity, teenage boys that aren't too proud to serve at church, or hold the door for an elder. I see pastors who grasp the weight of their calling. People who forgive when it would be easier to hate. Someone that is burnt out but keeps doing what is asked of them, while asking God for strength. If I asked you to go a mile, you would go two. I see people in the workforce that commit his/her work to the Lord by being dependable for decades, going farther than the bare minimum, and just being content with the work that is before them. We come together to laugh, encourage, learn from and worship with one another. Some families have cut out TV altogether so they could spend more time engaged with each other. I see prayers of thankfulness before meals, to give God the glory for health and strength, to ask for grace on others and themselves because we are unworthy. I see a church with 10% of its budget given to missions. A church that wants to actively seek out people, and share the gospel. A church... that I am thankful for.

In writing this blog I realize it may be scattered, or just bad, but I think there’s some veins of truth in it. I am not pronouncing verdict or sentencing, because we all drift in out of this entire blog. We all overlook things that deserve our attention, and dwell on the frivolous. Let's be careful not to be so “devoted” to everything else, that we miss out on family,or God, because we can apply all of this to our spiritual life as well. That we would look for opportunities to just be quiet and still. To purposefully throttle back a bit and see this life in a different light, and (if we must) literally schedule time for both, then do it, because if you look at your 24 hours you’ll find, there is a lot to do, and something is always pulling for our attention. If I had to sum it all up in one phrase, I would say, as we pass through this life, let's make sure the game we win at... is the right game.


Friday, January 26, 2018

What Happened to the Music?

In the 4 1/2 years since we started this blog, I don't think that I've ever shared a post from another blog.  Well, recently I read a blog post from Mike Harland, the Director of Lifeway Worship.  He's a great songwriter, musician, and worship leader.  I've seen him at a couple of conferences and have always enjoyed his insights into worship.  In the post of his that I've shared below, he brings up a very interesting question about the Psalms.  And his response to the question is one that I absolutely agree with and support.  I've highlighted his answer so you don't/can't miss it.  Enjoy!

Worship Big!


What happened to the music?
In the Psalms, we are fortunate to have a number of superscriptions from the original texts that give us details about some of the psalms. A few describe the setting of the psalm, like Psalm 34 that has a superscription that reads, ”Concerning David, when he pretended to be insane in the presence of Abimelech who drove him out, and he departed.” Now we can read the psalm with a little more understanding of what it was about – like today when a songwriter explains why a song was written. People love “song stories.”
The superscription of Psalm 45 intrigues me and leads me to the question. It reads, “For the choir director: according to ‘The Lilies.’ A Maskil of the Sons of Korah. A Love song.”
 According to “The Lilies?” What does that mean? Well, it seems the original performance of this text was associated with a particular tune called, “The Lilies.”
What in the world did that sound like? We don’t know.
And, now to my question; if the Sovereign God of the universe preserved the text of this psalm as well as the whole Bible – and I certainly believe he did – why didn’t he preserve the tune? Hmmm.
He could have. He could have given us the exact music to be performed. Think of all of the arguments we could have avoided if God had just handed us the proper music setting for worship along with the scriptures.
After thinking about this a decade or so, I’ve come to this belief: God didn’t hand us the tunes so that each generation could join him in creating the music. One of his divine attributes is his creativity – he has allowed us to express our own creative nature as we have written the songs with him down through the ages of the church. And, think about how much the music has changed. Each generation has found it’s own tunes and it’s own way of expressing our faith and worship in song.
The tragedy would be if any particular generation came to believe they were the one that landed on the final melody. God gives every era of believers their own chance to add to the music. What a wonderful gift that is to us. It truly is “The song that never ends.”
Let the children of God from every generation keep right on writing it.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Music and Worship Academy

With this week's post, I wanted to showcase a wonderful opportunity that the music ministry provides:  the Mt. Pleasant Music and Worship Academy.  Back in September we began the first term of the academy and in February we will be starting our 2nd term.  We currently have more than a dozen students taking lessons and hopefully that number will grow with our 2nd term.  Our students are making wonderful progress and even now I'm looking forward to how well they will do in our 1st ever recital in May.  

We currently offer lessons in acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass guitar, voice, classical piano, modern piano and drums.  If you've ever thought about learning an instrument, this is a great way to give it a try.  Not only will you learn the skills necessary to play an instrument, but along the way you'll learn how to play a number of the songs that we do on Sundays for worship.

So, if you have the time and the desire, we'd love to see you be a part of this wonderful ministry!

Worship Big!


Thursday, January 4, 2018

A Year in Review

With the beginning of a new year, I thought it might be nice to look back at this past year (2017) and see a few of the ways that God moved within the Music/Worship Ministry here at MPBC.  

To start the year off, we decided to take a break from the Passion Play to instead focus on recording a worship album.  And in March of 2017 the Worship Ministry released it's 3rd
worship album ("For All You've Done").  It was a collaboration between the Praise Team, the Praise Band, the Children's Choir, and the Worship Choir.  It was a lot of hard work to accomplish, but it was also a lot of fun to put together.  Justin Gourley did a great job of arranging the original songs we wrote and everyone did a wonderful job recording their parts. I still have people tell me every week how much they have enjoyed it and that they listen to it every day.  EVERY DAY!!! Unbelievable!

I think that the next big event for the year was the worship
choir kick-off in August.  After taking the summer off, I wasn't
sure who come back to choir and if we would get any new members.  Boy, was I surprised!  I actually ran out of music packs for those visiting for the 1st time.  The choir room was packed and it was an exciting time as we kicked off the new year!  

I believe that one of the things that made it so powerful was how we changed the way we were doing choir practice.  We had always done choir practice the same way that everyone else does it.  Come together, work on parts, then go home.  Well, we decided to do something different.  While we still worked on learning new music, we also spent more concerted time in prayer and devotion.  We also started going over the worship songs for Sunday with a small acoustic setting (2 acoustic guitars, djembe, piano, and a singer or two).  And it was amazing to see how God would move during these times of preparation and worship.    Check out this post from Justin to see a short video clip of choir practice:

Another cool thing that we started last year was having the choir do a special at our Worship Wednesday Services.  It had been a couple of years since the choir had done a song by themselves and I believe that people have really enjoyed it.  Here are links to 2 of the songs they have done:

Finally, I believe the event that people will remember the most from 2017 was our 1st ever Christmas Candlelight
Celebration in December.  It was awesome!  We sang Christmas songs, put on a light show, and lit candles.  We even made it snow inside!  But I think the thing that people will remember the most is experiencing the presence of Jesus and being reminded of the true meaning of Christmas.  I'm still hearing from people about how much they enjoyed it and how much it touched their hearts and lives.

So, with 2018 upon us, it's exciting to look forward to all of the ways that God is going to move and use us in this new year.  We'll be doing the Passion Play again in March, the Christmas Candlelight Celebration in December, and as always, doing our best to lead and encourage people to worship and set their hearts on Him each and every week!

Worship Big!