Archive for the 'Worship' Category

Lift Your Eyes::Perspective

By drewDecember 10th, 2010Art, Blog, WorshipNo Comments
Pic - Lift Your Eyes

The human heart is a funny thing.  Mine seems to continually be on some sort of rollercoaster most days, from the exhilarating heights of adventure and dreams made reality all the way to the valleys of despair and self-doubt.  My emotions can run the gamut from thankfulness to selfishness within a beat of my heart.  Sometimes I think it’s because I’m an artist.  We’re supposed to be melancholy and moody, in touch with our feelings yet have the clarity to write about them or make that feeling translate somehow through a piece of music.  History tells us that musicians used to be considered crazy and even put in mental institutions.  Now that seems a little harsh but then again I’ve met some pretty wacky musicians who maybe should’ve been considered.  I’m not bi-polar, or manic-depressive – I’m human.  We all face struggles and joys that cause our hearts to feel up and down, happy and sad, or just plain worn out.  But for those of us who know Christ we don’t have to just try and hang on for the ride but instead trust that there’s a hand hanging on to us.

Have you ever been deep-sea fishing? Or riding in the backseat of a car through some hilly terrain?  I remember riding with a friend through some winding roads one time and I began to feel sick.  My head was spinning and my stomach was following suit.  My friend said, “Look out the front window and find something to look at, something a long ways a way, and focus on it”.  He said, “If you stay focused on it then it will calm your mind and stomach and you won’t be focused on the rough terrain.”  I tried it, and to my amazement it worked!  I’ve now found myself giving that advice to people whom I’m driving around.  Somehow focusing on that one steady object can help you feel better.  I’m reminded of Peter who gregariously called out to Jesus, “If it’s You, allow me to come to you on the water”.  Jesus agrees and Peter hops out of an already rocky boat onto a turbulent sea.  He starts walking and then that old ‘rough terrain’ starts to get to him.  He looks up and calls to Jesus, “Save Me”.  Jesus reaches out and asks, “Why did you take your eyes off of me?”

There’s no doubt in my mind that you, like me and every other person on the planet, can get down, feel depressed, hopeless, alone, lost, and confused (you can add your own list of struggles here).  There will be days that we begin to feel our spirits beginning to crash and burn or our dreams unrealized, throwing us into a tail spin.  Remember these encouraging words from Psalm 121, to “lift your eyes”.  Don’t let the stuff of this world cause your hearts focus to blur and your spirit to crush but instead, raise your head, lift your eyes (physically and spiritually) to the Lord, adjust your focus from yourself, change your countenance, take a deep breath in God’s grace and like Peter, call out.  Jesus will hear you, He will save you and He will be the calm in your storm.  Sometimes it takes a while for us to focus, but once you’ve found that place of peace and strength in Christ, stay there.  Don’t rush that moment, trust that He will be all you need for whatever struggle you face.  Allow Him to settle your spirit and give you strength.  He promised He’d do it.

Do you need to stop for a while to focus on Him, on His plan for your life, on His goodness?  Don’t let your busy day keep you from His peace.

Psalm 121 (Message)

A Pilgrim Song

1-2 I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains?

No, my strength comes from God,

who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.

3-4 He won’t let you stumble,

your Guardian God won’t fall asleep.

Not on your life! Israel’s

Guardian will never doze or sleep.

5-6 God’s your Guardian,

right at your side to protect you—

Shielding you from sunstroke,

sheltering you from moonstroke.

7-8 God guards you from every evil,

he guards your very life.

He guards you when you leave and when you return,

he guards you now, he guards you always.

* The Pic was one I took around the Sea of Galilee in the Golan Heights at sunset.

“I Will (Lift My Eyes)” was written from this scripture (download it now if you’d like)

I Will (Lift My Eyes).Mp3

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Broken Bread and Poured Out Wine

By drewSeptember 2nd, 2010Blog, The Church, WorshipNo Comments
Grapes-Communion

Broken Bread And Poured Out Wine

I love learning about history – going to places built by our forefathers, or even just engaging in Discovery Channel shows about a war or invention from long ago. The specifics don’t really matter to me. I just love seeing where we’ve come from and trying to imagine what it must have been like back in that time, whenever it was.

My wife and I live in Franklin, TN and there’s a lot of Civil War history here. Around every corner is an antique shop with Civil War era relics and treasures. I love seeing old remnants of the soldier’s uniforms and weapons. I stare and wonder what that soldier was like, what life must have been for him. There’s just something interesting to me about the fact that others have gone before us, to fight for our freedom, to build a great nation, or to raise the family in which I can trace my heritage.

A few years ago my wife and I were with my 93 year old grandmother looking through her pictures, complete with horse and buggy and frowning ancestors (I’ve always wondered why turn-of-the-century folks didn’t smile much). As I looked through these old pictures I couldn’t help asking myself “what in the world do I have in common with these people?” My only reasonable answer was blood. They’re my relatives. These were my people. As I begin to think of them as family, they didn’t just look like people in an old photo anymore. I found myself wondering about their lives and their families and their faith.

Sometimes I think we need to remember that as believers, others have gone before us. We’re not reinventing the wheel here. Amazing, passionate men and women have led the way for us so that we could be who we are today as the church. Why is it that we so rarely think of them? I guess we’re too busy with tomorrow to think about yesterday but sometimes I think it’s a great and important thing to do.

There are a lot of ways to draw from and remember the past. We can sing hymns and tell the stories of the amazing and colorful writers who gave us such melodic theology and beautiful music. We can read their biographies or examine their artwork. But my favorite thing to do as a believer is to remember those who’ve gone before by taking communion. When we read those words of Christ saying “Do this in remembrance of me”, I begin to try and wrap my brain around all those followers of Christ who read that same scripture and then were obedient to the Lord by observing the elements. Think of all the styles of churches both in faith and construction as well as generation after generation of believers following this commandment. I’m sure it looked quite different from one country to the next, different languages and methods but all with the desire to be obedient to Christ and to follow His example in remembering His death.

“Communion” speaks of two different types of remembering. One is personal – thinking of how the Lord has redeemed you and given you grace and mercy, that in His goodness you recognize that He has forgiven you and given you life. But the Bible also uses words and phrases like “we” and “together”. Many of those scriptures are talking about our collective remembrance of Christ and the price He paid for His church.

For me, it helps to know that I’m not alone in this journey. My community is not the first one to struggle with issues of faith and living for Christ but that I’m joined by a cloud of believers around the world dating back to Passover, up to the Last Supper, continuing all the way to today and well into tomorrow. It reminds me that I’m stronger for being a part of this family of faith, blessed to continue the journey that so many have started before me. As I look around the sanctuary, I am reminded that Christ and His death as well as the faith of our fathers are what we all have in common. The blood.

I encourage you to gather your worship team, your staff, your wife and children, your small group, whatever, and take communion truly as a family. You won’t believe the difference it will make in your worship. Worship was meant to be offered in community and communion is meant to be a fabulous expression of it. Don’t just rush through. Allow the power of the Holy Spirit to cleanse and convict us, to bring to our minds the very real and transforming moments of Christ’s grace over us. You might want to incorporate a hymn to help drive home the practice of remembrance. Encourage each other, and remember that you’re not alone but carrying on a tradition of faith thousands of years old.

Broken Bread And Poured Out Wine

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Show Up

By drewAugust 27th, 2010Blog, Featured, Marriage/Family, Mission/Justice, The Church, WorshipNo Comments
Show Up

Conflict and struggle can be hard to face, but how we respond will not only show if we believe in ourselves, but what we believe about God.

As a kid I remember at times being bullied and pushed around, not from kids my age because I was always a big kid, but usually from older kids.  (Doesn’t matter how old we get it, seems there will always be bullies.) I remember a few instances where the bigger kid would challenge me to a fight and like the wild west, he’d throw down the charge, “Meet me behind the school after class” or some other frightening phrase like it.  I remember carrying fear around with me all day like the books on my back, dreading and counting down the minutes until the show down.  It took everything I could muster to just show up.  Uncertain of victory or utter annihilation the one thing I could not do was not show up.  Like some unwritten code in my DNA as a man-child, I had to at least be there, to not run from the challenge, I may not have been able to walk away from the scene but at least I would show up.

Sometimes the first step in frightening battles we face in life is to just “Show Up”.  As men living life in the everyday mundane rat wheel it’s sometimes hard to find the strength or will to “Show Up” for the things that matter most.  Serving our families, praying for those we love, listening to a friend instead of talking about yourself, reading scripture or having consistent integrity.  Sometimes these things feel like the hardest, most impossible tasks of our day but still we must “Show Up”.  Being consistent as a Godly man is so important.  Trying to not be overwhelmed by always sizing up the opponent or big picture of paying bills and working more than you’d like or the effort to serve when you’d rather be served. But instead, take one day at a time, one loving act of kindness, one extra minute to care.  Soon we find that a few extra moments of selflessness and a couple of extra efforts of serving, make the difference in the lifetime of a child or the quality of a marriage.  Before we can be used of God to fight some battle waiting for us in our destiny, we have to be committed and determined to at least “Show Up”.

Once we’ve made the decision to follow through we must then “Stand Firm”, when I think about this phrase I have visions of William Wallace (Braveheart) or Maximus (Gladiator). These men were resolute in what they believed and fought for it, even at the cost of their own lives. Most of the time however, the Lord just wants us to stand, He does the fighting.

2 Chronicles 20:17 says “You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you.”

I think it’s so interesting that the Lord would have us dress up in our battle gear, and even take formation and prepare our footing for a fight, and then tell us to watch because the battle is His.  Almost as if to say, I’m allowing you to feel apart and encourage you, and even giving you the deep honor and pride of feeling important and useful and needed, but I’ll do the fighting.  As a kid I played every sport under the sun and in each one, some of the basic instruction included having the right footing, whether blocking out in basketball or blocking an offensive line man to make a tackle in football, the most important part of each was learning to stand firm and to be ready for the challenge.  Each of us struggles with temptation and failure but we have to be committed to getting back up after we’ve been knocked down and stand firm for the next challenge.  We often walk away with a black eye or a limp, but we can hold our heads high and our hearts steady when we Show Up and Stand Firm.

God asks us to trust Him with the battle but also to “Be Strong and Courageous” in the middle of it. God has promised, ‘the Salvation of the Lord’, and the assurance that you are not alone.  Maybe every fear is not completely subsided but there is a sense of confidence and faith and trust in the One who will fight the fight for you.

Deuteronomy 31:6  “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Go back in your memory and be encouraged by the innumerable amount of times that God proved Himself before you, provided a way or answered a prayer. We must trust that God goes before us and loves us enough to call us into the action.  Let’s stand next to Him ready and willing to offer our lives, yet with the faith that the fight before us is His, and that we must not fear for He is with us.

One thing I remember about those school ground challenges is that I never knew when those days would come, that hasn’t changed as an adult. We have no idea what God is going to allow us to walk through from day to day, but whatever we face, we can trust He has allowed it in our lives and He is with us through the fight.

Praying that I/we will be willing to SHOW UP, to STAND FIRM, and BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS.

Stand Firm

2 Chronicles 20:17 (Whole Chapter) [Exodus 14:13, 14 ] You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ [ 2 Chronicles 20:15 ] Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, [2 Chronicles 15:2; 32:8; Num 14:9] and the LORD will be with you.”

1 Corinthians 16:13 (Whole Chapter

Be watchful, [Gal 5:1; Phil 1:27; 4:1; 1 Thess 3:8; 2 Thess 2:15; 1 Corinthians 15:1 ] stand firm in the faith, [1 Sam 4:9; 2 Sam 10:12; Isa 46:8 ] act like men, [Eph 3:16; Eph 6:10; Col 1:11] be strong.

Galatians 5:1 (Whole Chapter) [ Christ Has Set Us Free ] For [Galatians 5:13; Galatians 2:4; James 1:25 ] freedom Christ has [ John 8:32 ] set us free; [ 1 Cor 16:13 ] stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to [Acts 15:10 ] a yoke of [ Galatians 2:4] slavery.

Ephesians 6:13 (Whole Chapter) Therefore [1 Pet 4:1 ] take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in [Ephesians 5:16] the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Philippians 1:27 (Whole Chapter) Only [Philippians 3:20 ] let your manner of life be [ Eph 4:1 ] worthy [Greek Only behave as citizens worthy] of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you [ 1 Cor 16:13 ] that you are standing firm in one spirit, with [Philippians 2:2; 1 Cor 1:10 ] one mind [Jude 3] striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,

Philippians 4:1 (Whole Chapter) Therefore, my brothers, [Or brothers and sisters; also verses 8, 21] whom I love and [ Philippians 1:8 ] long for, [Philippians 1:4; 2:16; 2 Cor 1:14 ] my joy and [Prov 16:31; 17:6 ] crown, [Philippians 1:27] stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

Be Strong and Courageous

Deuteronomy 31:6 (Whole Chapter) [Deuteronomy 31:23; Josh 1:6, 7; 10:25; 1 Chr 22:13; 28:20 ] Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, [ Deuteronomy 20:4 ] for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. [Josh 1:5] He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Joshua 1:7 (Whole Chapter) Only be strong and [Joshua 23:6 ] very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law [Joshua 11:15 ] that Moses my servant commanded you. [Deut 5:32; 28:14] Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success [Or may act wisely] wherever you go.

2 Samuel 10:12 (Whole Chapter) [ Deut 31:6 ] Be of good courage, and [1 Sam 4:9; 1 Cor 16:13 ] let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and [1 Sam 3:18] may the LORD do what seems good to him.

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