Friday, May 22, 2015

Prayer for the Weekend

Dear God,

Thank You for hearing our every prayer, no matter how we feel.

Thank You for caring about our every need, no matter how small.

Thank You for being ever-faithful, ever-loving, ever-lasting.

In our weakest moments, help us to lean on You.

In our saddest moments, help us find our comfort in You.

In our most insecure moments, help us put our trust in You.

As we approach the weekend worship services, Lord please help us to prepare and plan well, to practice with excellence, and pray with urgency and expectancy. Lord, please use us, no matter how insecure or insignificant we feel, to give You glory and praise and help others to do the same. Help us to draw near to You, to know and hear Your voice, and follow You. Help us to respond to You in worship, and may our worship be sweet to Your ears. Please remove the distractions that prevent us and others from being focused on You.

Please pour out Your Holy Spirit upon us a we seek to serve You. We ask that You move our hearts, move in our families, move in our churches in such a might way that there is no doubt that You are present.

Dear Lord, please move me and through me.

Amen.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Thoughts for Thursday

"Our will is transformed by experience, not information.” —Dallas Willard

“The spiritual life does not remove us from the world but leads us deeper into it” ― Henri J.M. Nouwen

“We don't believe something by merely saying we believe it..." -DallasAWillard


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Do you need to become a more confident worship leader?

1. Pray. Nothing beats the power of prayer. It is mission critical to everything we do. Before, during, and after, we must pray. It is amazing how much worship music can be transformed through prayer. It's more amazing how much WE can be transformed through prayer! I don't mean just a hasty, "Lord have mercy on this music" kind of a prayer (although that never hurts!), but daily, fervent, communication with God. He delights in it!

2. Prepare. Plan ahead. Plan your set lists, your transitions, your words, your rehearsals. Plan at least a few weeks in advance so you can systematically introduce new songs and have enough time to prepare your team and yourself. Plan out what sound system needs you will have, what performing forces you will need, what overhead or bulletin inserts there will be. Do you need to print music for your team? Solid preparation removes away a myriad of worries.

3. Practice. Get to the know the music backwards and forwards. Memorize it if possible. Then help your team do the same!

4. Perspire. Leading worship is hard work. Planning and practice make it easier, but sometimes you just have to sweat your way through it, even if you don't feel comfortable. Do your best to be prepared and then lean heavily on the Holy Spirit to make up the difference.

5. Pay attention. Listen to the Holy Spirit. Follow the Spirit's lead through the entire process. The more you pray, the more you read your Bible, the closer you draw to the Lord, the more you'll be able to recognize and follow His voice in planning and in performance.

6. Pick it a part. Analyze what went well and what didn't so you can make necessary course corrections. Too many mistakes means you might need more practice. Not knowing what comes next means you need to plan better. Not knowing who is going to show up means you need more conscientious administration. Not being able to concentrate on God means that perhaps you didn't pray well or prepare well. Most of these issues can be detected and corrected, but don't beat yourself up because something wasn't perfected.

7. Put it in perspective. As a worship leader, I can't make anyone worship. My job is to create the opportunity through music to help people see God for who He is and what He has done and help them to respond to Him. I may give them the words to say or the melodies to sing, but ultimately, it us up to God to move their hearts and up to them to respond to Him. I can create an amazing experience, but people still may not worship. Or I can create a service that is a complete flop, and find that people found the worship moving and meaningful.

8. Praise God! No matter what happens, remember to praise and thank God during and outside of the worship service. No matter what we feel, no matter how the worship service goes, no matter what goe wrong or right, God is good! Praise the Lord!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Good News! It's Tuesday! Seek God for security.



Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NIV). It’s hard to feel secure in a world where so many bad things happen. It’s hard to feel secure when we don’t know what the future holds. And it’s hard to feel secure when we experience Post-Adrenaline Depression, or fatigue, or any other kind of sadness or grief. Even the most confident among us can feel pretty insecure at times, whether it’s on a small level (am I really prepared for this song?) or a grand scale (What if I lose my job?). Sometimes, insecurity just comes.


But here’s the thing – insecurity does NOT come from God. Neither does fear. However, God gives us the antidote to these things – Himself. This doesn’t mean that if we had more faith, everything would just be ok. If we were better Christians, we wouldn’t feel this way. If we just prayed more, or better, or harder, we wouldn’t experience Post-Adrenaline Depression or any other negative feeling. I don’t agree with this at all, and sometimes, Christian platitudes just get in the way, rather than helping us grow closer to God.

The Christian walk is not to see the world through rose-colored glasses, filled with pithy sayings and trite remarks. Rather, the Christian walk is spiritual warfare. It is a fight to the finish. It is hard work. It means we will face difficulty. It means we’re in the trenches of war each and every day, but Jesus Christ is right there with us. Fighting insecurity means that rather than beating ourselves up because we don’t have peace, we instead make a conscious decision to put our faith and trust in God in spite of our feelings.




Never feel badly because you have anxiety or fear – when we read the book of Psalms, we see how much the Psalmist experienced all sorts of emotions: fear, insecurity, despair, joy, and hope…. King David was known as a man after God's own heart, and yet, he still experienced fear, despair, insecurity, and sorrow. Psalm 55:17 (NIV) says, “Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.” King David isn’t saying he’s never afraid, but he cries out to God when he IS afraid because he knows that God will hear him. God loves it when we call on Him! And He loves it when we choose to put our trust and hope in Him even when we are afraid or insecure.

Next time Monday comes, and you feel afraid, or tired, or depressed, or insecure, don’t beat yourself. Instead, cry out to God! Make a conscious decision to put your trust in Him no matter what your feelings tell you. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Monday Morning Blues: Insecurity

Do you ever second-guess yourself on Monday?

Feel insecure about Sunday?

Wonder if you’re cut out for this?

A little grace in a cup.
A little self-examination for the sake of improvement is a good thing, but on Monday Morning, too much self-examination easily turns into insecurity. I have to be careful about analyzing Sunday’s service before I’m physically and emotionally recovered from the weekend. I start asking myself, Did I choose the right topic? Did I select the wrong songs? Did the offertory fit the service? Did I play well or sing out of tune? Maybe I should have practiced more. Maybe I should have prayed more. Did I listen to God? Did people like the music? Did they like the songs? Did they like me? So and so barely spoke to me, did I make him or her mad? Am I in trouble? Did I do it all wrong? Why didn’t anyone complement the music? Why didn’t they sing?  Should I be doing this at all?

Insecurity isn’t all bad – it helps me realize that I don’t have all the answers. I’m not perfect. And someone will probably always be unhappy about something. And there is always someone who will do my work better than I could. That humbles me. A lot. But just because someone else might be better at what I do doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it all. It means I need to rely on Jesus all the more.
The problem we have on Mondays is that we sometimes let our feelings of insecurity affect our families, our relationships, and our ministries. To make sure that doesn’t happen, we need to look at our insecurities, acknowledge them, but avoid making decisions based on them. I may feel like quitting on Monday Morning, but usually by the time Tuesday rolls around, I’ve recovered from the feelings of insecurity that made me want to write that resignation letter. I need to make sure I’m not putting my feelings of insecurity onto my spouse – just because they aren’t singing my praises all Monday morning doesn’t mean they’re mad me or think I did a bad job the day before. It probably just means it is Monday, and they don’t want to face the world, either!  I also need to be careful about my relationships with people at church on Monday morning. If I’m feeling insecure, I might be tempted to strive at pleasing people more than I work to please God. Awareness doesn’t make insecurity evaporate; it helps us live out what we believe even when we don’t feel like it.

It’s Monday. A day to give myself a little extra grace, and extend it to those around me.

It’s Monday. A day to practice what I preach the rest of the week: to act according to how I believe, rather than according to how I feel.

It’s Monday. A day to practice the discipline, to make a conscious choice, of putting my security in God’s hands even when I am insecure.

It’s Monday, but Tuesday’s on its way.


Friday, May 15, 2015

Prayer for the Weekend

Dear God in Heaven, 

We praise You because You are all-knowing, we worship You because You are compassion, and we love You because You first loved us. 

You know our every word and thought before it meets our lips. You love us. 

You know the depths of our hearts where the pain and sorrow, the joy and laughter, the beautiful and the ugly, reside together.  Yet, You love us. 

You know every thing we feel and You meet us where we are, offering comfort in our pain, hope in our despair, love in our emptyness. And You love us. 

Give us wisdom to discern the difference between what we feel and what is Truth. Your Truth. 

As the weekend gives way to worship services, we ask that You give us the presence of mind to lead, give us joy to share with others, and let us be so full of You that we leak Your love on those around us. 

Lord, give us the energy to complete our work with the mindfulness to foster relationships with others. 

Let us be effective for You, made Holy by You, and alive because of You. 

And as the worship services give way to Monday, please give us rest for our bodies, sabbath for our souls, and joy for our hearts.

We need You to restore us so that we are ready to start anew. 

And most of all Lord, we pray that in all things, we will ever seek You.


Amen  

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Thought for Thursday: Feelings and Facts

Is Captain Jack right? 

“Emotions come and go and can't be controlled so there's no reason to worry about them. That in the end, people should be judged by their actions since in the end it was actions that defined everyone.”

Nicholas Sparks, The Last Song


“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”

Thich Nhat Hanh, Stepping into Freedom: Rules of Monastic Practice for Novices


“But feelings can't be ignored, no matter how unjust or ungrateful they seem.”

Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl


“It is important not to suppress your feelings altogether when you are depressed. It is equally important to avoid terrible arguments or expressions of outrage. You should steer clear of emotionally damaging behavior. People forgive, but it is best not to stir things up to the point at which forgiveness is required. When you are depressed, you need the love of other people, and yet depression fosters actions that destroy that love. Depressed people often stick pins into their own life rafts. The conscious mind can intervene. One is not helpless.”

Andrew Solomon, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression

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