Archive for the 'Worship' Category

Just As I Am

By drewFebruary 14th, 2012Blog, Marriage/Family, Mission/Justice, The Church, WorshipNo Comments
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Twenty years ago I met a beautiful girl in college.  She was a leader, smart and funny, in love with Jesus, and I loved being around her. We became great friends and then decided to take our relationship to the next level.  As we began to date, our conversations deepened and we began to discuss dreams and plans for the future. I remember the night we were driving somewhere and she began to tell me what she was hoping for in husband.  I wasn’t looking to get married at 18 but she was the kind of girl that definitely made me start thinking about it. I was on my best behavior and tried to come across like I had it all together and hoped that in some way I could impress her.  She shared what she had been hoping, even praying for in the man of her future.  She shared her desire that he be a passionate believer in Jesus, someone who could make her laugh, someone driven to succeed and become all that God wanted him to be. Up to this point, I was holding my own, I felt like I had a chance with this amazing girl. Then she added one last criteria, one last prerequisite. “I want him to be pure – to be a virgin”.  My heart dropped from what seemed to be the highest cliff in my chest and I’m sure my countenance changed.  I realized in that one split second I had been disqualified from the race to win her heart, that I might as well quit hoping and trying for a deeper friendship with her because I was not a virgin – not pure.  I began to cry.  She knew in that second that her desire for something more in a man wouldn’t be found in me.  I felt all the shame and guilt of my sin compounding in that moment. Now I hadn’t only disappointed and failed God, I had failed in my life and my future.  I felt with a stinging reality, a painful consequence of the “lusts of my youth”.  She began to cry. What had seemed like a beautifully charged moment of hope and destiny became a brutal awareness of the brokenness of sin. I don’t remember the exact conversation that followed but I do remember that at some point, she lowered her expectations and offered me grace. In the most real way I had ever experienced, I felt grace, undeserved favor – forgiveness.  That wasn’t the only time I disappointed that girl, and not the last time she offered me grace.  She’s been a beautiful, real, tangible reminder of God’s grace in my life.  She’s not perfect, and so I’ve had the privilege of returning the favor at times.  She has however taught me so much about how God loves me in spite of me, that even though I couldn’t measure up to His standards, God’s expectations and prerequisites were met in the holy, sinless life of Jesus. Jesus extended to me, through His sacrifice, a chance to have value, to be accepted, to be apart of His family. My sin disqualified me from a relationship with God, but Jesus applied His sacrifice to my life and I was accepted, given undeserved favor – forgiven.

Have you been so busy in your “work” for God that you’ve forgotten that moment His grace was traded for your sin? It’s easy to forget who we were, what we’ve done, or who we can be in our sinfulness. Let’s make time to worship this heroic friend that has made a way for us, whose grace is sufficient for all of us, whose love has accepted and justified us (just as if I had never sinned).

That girl became my wife nearly 18 years ago, and we now have two beautiful daughters who are teaching us new lessons on grace and mercy. We continue to be undone by God’s love and kindness for us and seek to model His grace for each other and those around us.

Rom. 5:8 (MSG)

“But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.”

“This is that mystery which is rich in divine grace to sinners: wherein by a wonderful exchange our sins are no longer ours but Christ’s, and the righteousness of Christ not Christ’s but ours. He has emptied himself of his righteousness that he might clothe us with it and fill us with it; and he has taken our evils upon himself that he might deliver us from them.”    – Martin Luther

For more study on this topic:

I Jn. 1:9 / Matt. 11:28 / Rom. 5:20 / 2Cor. 4:16 / 2Cor. 13:14 / 1Tim. 1:12

* Photo by Matt Britton

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Contagion

By drewJanuary 25th, 2012Blog, Leadership, Mission/Justice, The Church, WorshipNo Comments

“This cup is the new covenant written in my blood, blood poured out for you.”

Luke 22:20 (MSG)

I recently watched a movie called Contagion.  It was pretty much a horror flick. Not in the classic sense set in a campground or on Halloween, and there were no monsters or crazy creatures – “only” a disease. What made it so scary weren’t visual effects or crazy costumes and make up design. It was the fact that the plot of this story could actually happen in real life.  The “monster” as it were, was a highly contagious disease contracted through the air and by touch.  Every angle and colorization of this film made you feel infected.  I found myself washing my hands excessively for days after this movie. Between that film and a recent stomach bug my family endured, I’ve thought a lot about germs, infection, cleanliness and cures.  If you’ve ever suffered through a bad flu or virus of some kind you know what I’m talking about. As the parent of two little girls both under 5, my wife and I are cleaning, disinfecting and gagging quite a bit.

I watched this movie with a parallel in mind. I couldn’t help but think about the disease you and I are both victims of. In fact, every human being contracted this illness from our mother and father – our original mother and father, Adam and Eve. Eden must have been an amazing place, no concerns, no illness, no fear, and only one rule. Adam and Eve disobey God, breaking that rule, and in the time it takes to compromise and bite into a temptation, they become sick, they feel confused, ashamed, and aware of their need to be covered. They were infected with Sin, this wasn’t the first case of the outbreak, it originated in Heaven. Lucifer sinned in his heart against God and suffered the consequence of being cast out of Heaven to later show up in our story as the influencer, the “pusher” of this forbidden fruit.  Since then the disease has been passed down in our very DNA. It is a part of the human condition. Our diagnosis is even scarier than that of the disease in Contagion because it’s not a matter of if we’ll get it or when, but that we’ve had it from even before we were born and the consequences are that of eternal death not just this temporal one. We didn’t contract it through germs or a bad meal. Instead, it’s lurking within us and affects everything we do and everything we are. We work to “disinfect” our lives, and think if we’ll follow certain rules we won’t meet the same fate as that of our disobedient ancestors.  In hopeful moments of the awareness for our own need to be covered, God in His grace shows us that there’s nothing we can do to fix the problem.  No ritual or work, no meds or therapy will reverse our eternally terminal illness. But He made a way, provided a cure and offers us life instead of our certain death without Him. That vaccine, that remedy, is the blood and sacrifice of Jesus. Nothing else will do, nothing but the blood of Jesus. Do you have the vaccine? Are you working towards the rescue of those who don’t know of this cure? Let’s tell the world of this breaking news, this antidote!

What can wash away my sins?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

What can make me whole again?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

For Further Study on this topic:

Matt 26:26 / Rom. 5:9 / Eph. 1:7 / Eph. 4:14 / Col. 1:18 / Heb. 9:11 / Heb 10:19 / Ps. 51 / Is 64:4

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Becoming

By drewJanuary 4th, 2012Art, Blog, Leadership, Music Biz, WorshipNo Comments

Like life, art is both beautiful and hideous, happy and sad, light and dark.  In my opinion, the only good art is that which is true.  If art makes us feel something deep in the core of our souls, it’s because of truth, something reflected in paint, or stone, photograph or music that resonates within us is reminding us of our dreams, our love, our fear, and our pain.  When we as artists create at a level that moves people, we’ve earned the highest honor of creativity, a true reflection of Imago Dei (the Image of God).  In my experience, the most powerful expressions of art are those that come from context.

“When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say it is well, it is well with my soul”

Horatio Spafford penned these lyrics as his ship neared the tragic location where his 4 daughters perished only weeks before in a shipwreck. For nearly 150 years this hymn has reminded the church that in the middle of pain and brokenness, God is still there, giving us His peace that passes all understanding. I can’t imagine the loss and pain that Spafford was dealing with, but I’m glad he shared his pain and hope with us. It’s at these pivotal moments that we too should write and express our pain, questions and struggles through music or art.  As songwriters and storytellers we have to give full disclosure in what we’re walking through. As we lament or celebrate different seasons in life, we should faithfully translate the condition of our souls into tangible expressions that not only connect us to the lives and experiences of others, but helps us to heal and grow in the process.

Abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock once said: “Every good painter, paints what he is”. In other words, the finest and most sincere form of art is one that reflects who we really are, where we’ve been, or what we hope to become. The problem with much of our “Christian” music is that we’ve been too afraid to be that honest or open about who we really are and what we’re really wrestling with.  So instead of free handing the truth of our lives, we’ve begun to trace over what seems to work in our genre and sell in our bookstores or play on our radio stations.  It’s easy to fall into that trap, but my prayer for us is that we dare to create from the raw places of who we are, what God has allowed in our lives and the beauty of redemption in the gospel of Jesus. That story is worthy of nothing less than originality, risk and passion. God will use the ups and downs of the day to day to chip away at who we’ve been until He only sees who we can be.

Hebrews 6:1 (MSG) So come on, let’s leave the preschool finger painting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ.

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Trust-Worthy Worship

By drewApril 20th, 2011Blog, Leadership, Mission/Justice, The Church, Worship1 Comment
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I started in ministry as a youth pastor, not so much because I was trained in it or prepared for it, but mainly because I was a student myself.  My first job in ministry was the summer of my freshman year in college.  I was 18, optimistic and clueless, but loved kids and loved Jesus. At the time it didn’t seem like it would be that hard to imagine introducing them to each other and caring for them for a summer.  I’ll never forget in those earlier years of youth ministry trying to teach on trust.  I had my whole group of kids at a “ropes course” and we were about to do the trust fall.  I’d seen this done in my own youth group and remembered it being a powerful way to teach kids how to care for each other and to build trust in our group.  Thinking this would be a great lesson for our kids, I was standing toward the back waiting for the learning to begin when the guide says “Drew why don’t you come up and be first to fall and show these kids there’s nothing to be afraid of.” I was terrified, but had no choice.  I began to climb a ladder against a tree that led to an 8 or 9 foot platform.  He told me to cross my arms and to wait for the signal to fall backwards into the arms of my group.  I remember turning around to see the kids and noticing that the group was made up of mostly Junior High girls.  I was 6’3” and 250, and my faith in this exercise was waning by the minute.  The guide had the kids shout “Do you trust us?” and I shouted back, “I trust you!”. Without thinking too much more I let my weigh fall back and my heart race. In that moment my action proved my words, that I really did trust those kids.  They caught me, though they took me to the ground.  One by one they couldn’t wait to climb the ladder and fall themselves.

Our lives of worship are much the same.  It’s imperative that we not just say words, we must follow through with the fall, we have to trust God in the action as well. To worship and not trust, is to not worship at all.  When we live our lives as offerings to God, giving Him all that we are and believing He will use our mountain tops as well as our valleys, we’re trusting His sovereignty.  It’s one thing to stand and sing of God’s faithfulness, yet quite another to experience it.  It’s easy to form words and even muster passion in our hearts about what we believe and our commitment to Christ but still so much more to live lives of action, sacrifice, and obedience. God is more pleased when we obey Him over our liturgy as we “serve” him. (I Sam. 15:22).  God is blessed with our promise of trust, but we’re not trusting until we actually exercise it. Our songs and service to God are good but it’s not until we put our hands to the serving of those who are in need or put our feet to the journey of sharing Jesus with the world that our words, songs and worship have the substance of meaning, the proof in the pudding as it were. Missionaries worship as they build relationships and serve the poor, pastors worship as they shepherd the sick, families worship as they eat dinner together, reminded of God’s provision. The broken heart is full of worship as it hopes in the Lord, mourns authentically, yet trusts completely. Is your worship grounded in trust.  Don’t just yell out “God I trust you” without being willing to fall.

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Surrender

By drewJanuary 28th, 2011Leadership, Marriage/Family, Mission/Justice, Music Biz, The Church, WorshipNo Comments
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Luke 22:42

42“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

Surrender.  It’s an interesting word.  It’s most commonly used in a military setting, meaning you give up the fight, to declare to an opponent that they have won, or to relinquish control because of force.  It could also mean to abandon or give up an idea or intention, or to lay down your rights. When I think about the word surrender, I picture a bloody field complete with soldiers muddy and exhausted.  I picture faces completely resigned to the fact that they can’t go on, that any further attempt to fight would be futile.  They throw down their weapons and their hands shoot up in the air to show their commitment to the loss.  Depending on which side you’re on is the difference in victory or defeat, joy or fear, life or death.

However, when we surrender our lives to Christ we don’t die, we live, we’re not defeated and instead WE are victorious.  The battle field with which you’ve wrestled with God my be bloodied by your stubbornness or arrogance, but when you come to the realization that it’s futile to fight with the One who loves you most, you too will resign all efforts to oppose His will for your life.  You’ll throw down every weapon or excuse and your hands will shoot up in the sky to show your commitment to Christ and His leadership in your life.  Jesus perfectly models surrender for us in this passage from Luke 22 and I think to remain committed to a life of surrender, it’s something we do every single day.

Father, accept my bowed head, and broken and contrite heart. My eyes closed and hands raised in surrender to You and Your will.  Forgive me for ever fighting or wrestling with You over my plans versus Yours for me.  I know You want the best for me and I lay my life down for You to do with what You want.  I relinquish my rights, and declare You Lord of my life and I pray as You did Lord Jesus, ‘not my will, but yours be done’.

For Further Study:

Matthew 10:39:

39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

* The Picture above is one I took of a woman worshipping at the Temple ruins at Capernaum (Peter’s hometown) near the sea of Galilee.  Click on the image for the full image.

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Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

By drewJanuary 13th, 2011Leadership, Mission/Justice, The Church, Worship1 Comment
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This past Christmas season I was so overwhelmed with the joy of family, the warmth of nostalgia, and even the perfect “white” Christmas.  We didn’t see a lot of snow, but it was enough to make Norman Rockwell feel inspired.  I am a blessed man, that was the thought that kept playing in my mind as tears rolled down my face after watching my favorite movie “It’s A Wonderful Life”.  My heart recounted a list of all the things wonderful in my life.  At the top were my beautiful little girls, my loving wife, my amazing family, my church and all the community around us.  Just as I was having this moment “counting my blessings” as it were, I heard myself sobbing and realized that there was more to my tears than thankfulness.  Deep in my soul I was weeping for all the children around the world without a warm place to lay, a meal to eat, a family to love or a God to plead to.  My wife asked me if I was ok, noticing that I had gone from a simple crooked smile and occasional tear to out right water works.  In one split second I went from thankfulness to brokenness for those in need.  I felt convicted that because of all the blessings God had given us, I had been blinded to the great need around the world.  Only a few months back I had spent 10 days in Haiti, surrounded by beautiful children, some orphans with joy in their hearts because of the hope they’d been given by their caretakers and others with a vacant stare of numb loss.  My heart had made a quick leap from my two girls to all of those children.  These weren’t kids on a charity card or fundraising television broadcast, but faces and names and personalities I’d been blessed to hold, play with, and care for.  It’s amazingly sad how quickly we can forget the world of need around us, or at least put it out of our minds and return to our American nirvana.

As I type, as you read, children, men and women eek out meager lives of survival.  Even in booming economies or bustling international cities, people of all nations seek to survive.  If not physically from malnutrition or the crisis of natural disaster, from the emptiness of life without a Savior.  I found myself weeping over their needs physical and spiritual – feeling hopeless my sadness changed to prayers for them and giving them to the only One who can truly meet those needs.  As much as I loved being with those children and caring for them, it is nothing to the love that God has for them, for me.  It’s not enough to pray, we must go, we must do all that we can, but our mission doesn’t begin looking at a map, instead it may be weeping over their need and seeking the Father for next steps.  This Christmas season, I wept and remembered those in need. Next year I may be there in person, don’t know. My prayer however, is that I remember that Jesus came to be “God with us” and until the world has heard of his life, death and resurrection, and we as believers have loved the least of these as “unto Christ”, I’ll continue to weep for those in need and obey the Lord’s command to “go and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of Jesus and teaching them all that He has taught us”.

* The photo above is one I took in the Sister’s Of Mercy Orphanage in Jacmel, Haiti.  She never smiled or showed any reaction or emotion at all. Her perfect face and lack of response made me think she looked like a little baby doll.  I can’t look at this picture without feeling the weight of that place and the needs so great every where you look.

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A Soul’s Worth

By drewDecember 31st, 2010Art, Blog, Marriage/Family, The Church, WorshipNo Comments
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This Christmas season I carried on with chores and work and family and all the other things that keep us busy from day to day. However, at this time of year, it’s all accompanied by a soundtrack of melodies and lyrics that repeat from year to year celebrating the birth of a King, a Savior.  I love Christmas music and as each song passes through one ear and out the other, my lips sing along without missing a beat, but rarely does my heart stop and reflect on the lyrics.  These Christmas songs are so familiar that we seem to sing them by rote and never consider the depth of truth and life given line by line, even word by word.

It was while I was hunched over my laptop recently that one of those old familiar Christmas songs caught my ear, as I looked up, thinking I’d see some children’s show on my TV, I notice that the lyric to the familiar song was going across the screen and though the strength of the melody didn’t catch my heart, the power in seeing the lyric did.  The line was “He appeared and the soul felt it’s worth”.  We all know this line from the beautiful 19th century poem turned Christmas classic “O Holy Night”.  This one phrase had given me pause before but not enough for me to really dig in and considered it.  I think this time was different because I’ve been in a place lately asking God to remind me of who I was, not what I had done or even wanted to do, but who He had made me to be. I wasn’t even interested in knowing what my childhood, or mistakes, or dreams had created in me, but specifically that He would remind me that my identity is in Him.  As I’ve thought and prayed about it, I’ve realized that my identity is deeply connected to my value, my worth.  I’m not talking about my self-worth, though what I believe about who God says He is and what God says about me determines what I believe about myself. I’m talking about my literal value. What am I worth? If I could determine my value or worth than I can determine how I should feel about who I was, my identity.  As I began to consider my value in that light, I’m reminded of an old saying “An objects value is determined by whatever someone will pay for it”.  Some old broken, worn out item may be junk to me, but have enormous value to someone else. They may be willing to pay top dollar for that piece because they value it for whatever reason.  I thought about that phrase and how my life in so many ways may seem like a broken, worn-out piece of junk to some, but that this King whose birth we celebrate, sees me and wants me.  He values me.  His value given to me gives me my worth, my identity.  I know who I am because I’ve been bought with a price, valued by the King, and loved with a sacrificial transaction.  Jesus blood for my sin.  My shame for His joy. His death for my life.
This is New Years Eve, we look back at a year of life and lessons both joyful and tumultuous but all beautiful in the light that Jesus “makes all things new”, that He uses “our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope”. We look to a new year, new hope, new lessons, and new life in the One who gives us life “more abundantly”.  Our hope and peace, and worth is in our God!

Don’t take my word for it!!! (Keep reading!!)

Who Am In Christ?

All bible verses (quotes) quoted in NIV

I am accepted…

John 1:12 I am God’s child.

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God

John 15:15 As a disciple, I am a friend of Jesus Christ.

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

Romans 5:1 I have been justified.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

1 Corinthians 6:17 I am united with the Lord, and I am one with Him in spirit.

But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 I have been bought with a price and I belong to God.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

1 Corinthians 12:27 I am a member of Christ’s body.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

Ephesians 1:3-8 I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

Colossians 1:13-14 I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins.

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Colossians 2:9-10 I am complete in Christ.

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.

Hebrews 4:14-16 I have direct access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

I am secure...

Romans 8:1 I am free from condemnation.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:28 I am assured that God works for my good in all circumstances.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:31-39 I am free from any condemnation brought against me and I cannot be separated from the love of God.

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died more than that, who was raised to life is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:”For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughter”No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 I have been established, anointed and sealed by God.

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Colossians 3:1-4 I am hidden with Christ in God.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Philippians 1:6 I am confident that God will complete the good work He started in me.

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:20 I am a citizen of heaven.

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,

2 Timothy 1:7 I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

1 John 5:18 I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me.

We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.

I am significant…

John 15:5 I am a branch of Jesus Christ, the true vine, and a channel of His life.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:16 I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.

1 Corinthians 3:16 I am God’s temple.

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 I am a minister of reconciliation for God.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Ephesians 2:6 I am seated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly realm.
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,

Ephesians 2:10 I am God’s workmanship.

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 3:12 I may approach God with freedom and confidence.

In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.

I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Who Am I in Christ?

I am a child of God; God is spiritually my Father.
Romans 8:14,15

because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

Galatians 3:26

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus

John 1:12
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God

I am a new creation in Christ; old things have passed away and all things have become new.
2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

I am in Christ.
Galatians 3:26,28

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

I am an heir with the Father and a joint heir with Christ.
Galatians 4:6.7

Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, ” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.

Romans 8:17

Now if we are children, then we are heirs heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

I am reconciled to God and am an ambassador of reconciliation for Him.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

I am a saint.
Ephesians 1:1
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:

1 Corinthians 1:2
to the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ their Lord and ours:

Philippians 1:1
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:

I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ for good works.
Ephesians 2:10

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

I am a citizen of heaven.
Ephesians 2:19

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household

Philippians 3:20
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ

I am a member of Christ’s body.
1 Corinthians 12:27

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

I am united to the Lord and am one spirit with Him.
1 Corinthians 6:17

But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

I am the temple of the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 3:16

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 1 Corinthians6:19
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.

I am a friend of Christ.
John 15:15
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

I am a slave of righteousness.
Romans 6:18
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God

I am the righteousness of God in Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:21
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

I am enslaved to God.
Romans 6:22
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.

I am chosen and ordained by Christ to bear fruit.
John 15:16
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.

I am a prisoner of Christ.
Ephesians 3:1
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles Ephesians 4:1
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.

I am righteous and holy.
Ephesians 4:24
and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

I am hidden with Christ in God.
Colossians 3:3
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

I am the salt of the earth.
Matthew 5:13
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness,how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything,except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”

I am the light of the world.
Matthew 5:14
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.”

I am part of the true vine.
John 15:1-2
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

I am filled with the divine nature of Christ and escape the corruption that is in the world through lust.
2 Peter 1:4
Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

I am an expression of the life of Christ.
Colossians 3:4
When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved.
Colossians 3:12
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience

1 Thessalonians 1:4
For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you

I am a child of light.
1 Thessalonians 5:5
You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.

I am a partaker of a heavenly calling.
Hebrews 3:1
Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.

I am more than a conqueror though Christ.
Romans 8:37
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
I am a partaker with Christ and share in His life.
Hebrews 3:14
We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first

I am one of God’s living stones, being built up in Christ as a spiritual house.
1 Peter 2:5
you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

I am a chosen generation, a royal priest hood, a holy nation.
1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen people, a royal priest hood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

I am the devil’s enemy.
1 Peter 5:8
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

I am born again by the Spirit of God.
John 3:3-6
In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.

I am an alien and a stranger to this world.
1 Peter 2:11
Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.

I am a child of God who always triumphs in Christ and releases His fragrance in every place.
2 Corinthians 2:14
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.

I am seated in heavenly places in Christ.
Ephesians 2:6
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus

I am saved by grace.
Ephesians 2:8
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God

I am a recipient of every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places
in Christ.
Ephesians 1-6 (The Whole book!)

I am redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.
Revelations 5:9
And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”

I am part of the Bride of Christ and am making myself ready of Him.
Revelations 19:7
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.

I am a true worshiper who worships the Father in spirit and in truth.
John 4:24
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.

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Layers

By drewDecember 22nd, 2010Blog, Leadership, Marriage/Family, The Church, WorshipNo Comments
Pic - Layers

Remember the line from Shrek, “I’m like an onion, lots of layers?” I think that’s true for all of us.  I’ve been thinking recently about how as children we’re free – free to dance, laugh, play, trust – you name it, but each and everyday of our lives as we grow into adulthood we begin to add layers to our hearts.  I don’t think we do it intentionally, instead I think those layers begin to grow on their own to protect us in some way and before you know it, what hurt us before doesn’t hurt as badly the next time, what wounded us before comes against a tougher exterior now and we find ways to survive.  Seems like a natural way to evolve as a person, right?  Wrong! Adam and Eve started this whole layering process when they hid from God.  They ran and played and danced innocent and whole with Creator God until they bought into a lie and then they began to layer, to hide.

This is huge! This is who we are, how we respond, how we live and interact with God and everyone else.  How people experience us is based on how we’ve layered crap over our souls. God’s desire is that we “un-layer”, become pliable and transparent.  For me, I’m watching God dismantle layers over my heart, false beliefs and lies I’ve bought into, attachments even.  I long for the day that I can find my innocence again, the laughter and dance and trust of a child.  To find my relationship with Jesus like that of early Adam, walking in relationship with God – heart uncovered, vulnerable and free. It all starts with awareness.  Seeing the truth about who you are, who you’ve become and finding community with people who will help you change, people who will forcefully assist in pulling down the strongholds and back the curtain the enemy has so skillfully placed over you and the eyes of your heart.

Look for your soul, the childlike you, it’s in there behind all the years of survival, all the lies, all the scars. If you’re like me, you’re tired of settling for something less than Eden.  Jesus restores all things, and makes all things new. Now if I can just learn to dance!

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Light Bulb Moment

By drewDecember 16th, 2010Blog, Leadership, Music Biz, The Church, Worship1 Comment
Pic-Light Bulb

I love it when the Lord gives me an “A HA” moment.  You know what I’m talking about?  One of those sudden realizations that something you’ve heard before but didn’t quite understand, now makes sense.  It could be something that you thought you understood or something you’ve heard all your life but all at once if feels like the “light bulb” pops up above your head like you’re the star of a comic book strip, and you finally ‘get it’.

I’ll never forget one of those moments I had early on in collage.  I had listened to Christian music off and on for a while and specifically to this one song several times, but for some reason one day driving in my car, the message of this one song jumped out at me like the bright light of Jesus on Paul’s road to Damascus.  WOW!  This wasn’t just some song and melody, there was a major message that it was conveying and I just got it!  It floored me.  I remember having to pull the car over to the side of the road and just weep.  God used those songwriters so powerfully that I was undone for a moment. What happened in that moment is a major factor in why I do what I do today. Not only was what they said an awesome truth of God, it was something that I personally needed to hear for that specific moment in my walk. Only God could orchestrate that kind of moment and to this day I’m thankful for it.

I believe those times are essential to faith as well as ministry.  People have to come to a place in their lives where the Lord opens their eyes or draws their hearts to see truth.  We can’t do it ourselves.  We can’t wake up one day and just say, “Ok, today I’m going to think of God, or remember His goodness.  I believe every moment we experience that draws us to the Father is due to the Father drawing us.  Our God pursues us so passionately and sometimes even then, we pat ourselves on the back for having a bible study or making a godly decision, but God and God alone is responsible for our being drawn.  It is however our decision to do it – that’s free will.

Every person that comes to know Jesus has to realize our savior is not just the key figure of the Christmas story or the topic of Sunday School, but a real God who became a real man.  He died on a real cross, and shed real blood for each of us.  Only then can God become real to us.  Even in ministry, we each have to come to the place of realizing that our lives can mean more than taking home a paycheck or being the “star” worship guy.  Instead, God has given us a platform that is not for us, but for others.

What is it that the Lord wants you to finally “get”?  What truth have you allowed to cruise over your head and not enter your heart?  Take a moment and ask the Father to draw you, to open your eyes to what “A HA” moment you need right now to bring you to your knees or a tear of conviction to your eyes.

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Good To Grace

By drewDecember 13th, 2010Blog, Leadership, Marriage/Family, Mission/Justice, Worship3 Comments
Good To Grace pic

I’m an entrepreneur at heart.  I’ve been around business quite a bit and admired those who have succeeded at it.  I’ve racked my brain at times trying to think of the next “Facebook” or “Walmart” and though I’ve come up with some ideas, nothing ever seems to be significant enough for me to find the will or drive to just make money.  I’ve blamed it on lack of business savvy or right opportunity, but the reality is, that though I have an entrepreneurial spirit, God has set me apart to be a leader in the church, to rethink systems and motives and strategies, sometimes to simplify, sometimes to build structure, but one thing is for sure – the church is not a business, we shouldn’t lead it like one!

I love learning about leadership and being mentored by great men and women whether personally or through books but something that seems a common mistake of late is that pastors or church leaders can sometimes confuse the mission of the church, or how they lead the church, with that of some business or leadership book.  They are NOT the same.  I do believe, with all my heart, that we can glean and learn from great books not specifically written for the ecclesiastical application but we must be careful to not be misled about how to lovingly lead this bride of Christ, one book is sufficient for that, it’s His word.  As pastors we must remain accountable to godly counsel and healthy debate so that our agendas and sinful nature don’t wander into the family God has placed us in responsibility of.

The business book “Good To Great” by Jim Collins, is a great book about leadership, business, winning, and excelling in competition, standing out among so many other businesses or organizations.  There are some amazing nuggets of wisdom for church leaders in this book like this one:

“If we allow the celebrity rock-star model of leadership to triumph, we will see the decline of corporations and institutions of all types. The twentieth century was a century of greatness, but we face the very real prospect that the next century will see very few enduring great institutions.” – Jim Collins (Good To Great)

This is a great quote for church leaders to be reminded that Jesus is the Chief Elder according to scripture, that this position of leadership is not for us or about us and we should be militant to fight the desire within us to surround ourselves with people who only agree with us. Instead, we’re called to serve and model this life in Christ.  Proverbs 27:17 says that “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” If you’ve ever seen this sharpening process you would agree that it’s not a quiet or uneventful one, but that the sparks fly and that it takes great heat and pressure to turn ordinary iron into that of a beautiful, functioning tool.  In the same way, if you as a church leader never see sparks fly or the heat turned up in loving discussion, then you will remain a safe, protected, useless lump of metal.  Be intentional to surround yourself with people who have a different world view than you, different approach to life or ministry.  Their input for your leadership will be invaluable. If they are loving in their approach and kind in their debate, yet truthful and honest, you can trust that what they’re saying is real, and being said to better and strengthen, not tear down or hurt.

(Prov. 27:6)

Pastors, have you created a culture where your input is valued more than the rest, or have you sought to lead through serving, offering your opinion as one of many, seeking God’s agenda and not your own?  If you’re serving more than being served and listening more than you speak, than you’re on the right track to lead as Jesus did.

“Good To Great” talks about ‘level 5 leaders’, these are people with an “unwavering will and commitment to do what is necessary to drive the organization to the top”.

That’s a fine and right approach for business but how does that translate for the church? I know a lot of pastors that would translate it to ‘unwavering will to serve the church over our own relationships in Christ or devotion to our families, driving the organization ‘to the top’ while driving our souls in the opposite direction. Is it the Kingdom way to shoot for the top? And what is the top in church leadership?  Have we really looked at our motives as church leaders recently?  This is where the agenda of “Good To Great” gets quite screwy when applied to the stewardship of the family of God. 

One of the most recognizable theories from “Good To Great” is the one about making sure you have the right team.

“Get the right people on the bus – that has to happen before the “what” decisions are taken. That can change if you have the right people, but the wrong people will certainly make the enterprise fail.” – Jim Collins (Good To Great)

I agree with Collins that you have to have the right group of people serving with you to accomplish your goals, and think his idea here is best if you’re building a team from the ground up.  However, once you’ve built that team or if you’ve found yourself coming into an existing team, this theory has to be tweaked a bit. You’re now called as a leader of a church to love and care for people, for their hearts, and for their families.  These are not just “seats on a bus” but family, each of them children of God with a unique design and imprint from the Spirit of God.  How you care for them or mistreat them shows more about the condition of your heart than what your words may so eloquently portray. We are called to love, to communicate clearly, and to lead with grace over greatness.  Matthew 18 is known well for Jesus’ directive to approach someone in sin but interestingly enough the chapter begins with the disciples arguing over who is the greatest among them. Not unlike what so many churches seem to be doing competing with each other in buildings, budgets and programs, instead of investing in people, making disciples and loving the least.  Jesus, pulls a child to His side and reminds the followers of the simplicity of the Kingdom of God and the warning to all leaders to keep our priorities straight, not misleading the body by doing all we can, to go from good to great.  Obviously I’m not saying that we can’t learn from this and other business books on leadership, but more that when our decisions begin to take on the strategy of Collins instead of the character of Christ, we’ve begun to be misled, all the while misleading those who follow us.  That seems to be the progression for many churches today. Working so hard to grow in number or to come across so perfect in performance that they’ve not only lost heart but the priority to be about changing them, developing them or caring for them.

Another lesson from Matthew 18 can teach us so much about the heart of God and practice of a great pastor.

Vs 10-14

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? and if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.

Does reading this change how you think God feels about your “seat on a bus”?  Obviously we as leaders have to assemble, manage and care for those on our teams but more so, we are called of God to treat them as family, with grace and a tenacity to love them in their coming in or their going out.

The Greek word for church is Ekklesia.  It is most closely translated family of God, not organization, not business, not board, committee, or denomination.  It’s time we as leaders, lead more like fathers not presidents, more like brothers not CEO’s.  In a family every one has a voice that is valued and though we sometimes drive each other crazy, we can’t run away from tension, we learn to navigate in the struggle and love with humility, forgiving seventy times seven, serving more than securing and trusting our chief pastor Jesus to shape us into something useable and beautiful together.

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