Saturday, July 25, 2009

Wonderful Grace

"You are the one that we praise
You are the one we adore
You give the healing and grace
our hearts always hunger for..."

Del is leading worship this Sunday while our Worship Leader is gone and we are doing "Wonderful Merciful Savior." This morning I'm listening to Del practice and listening to these words......amazing. It's really a wonderful song and has got me thinking about God's grace. Grace is one of those topics that I feel I hear talked about or preached about so often that sometimes it just flows in one ear and out the other without much thought. I know that prob. is shocking to some people, but it's just honest, however when I heard this song this morning it just struck me.

God's grace.......he not only gives us the grace to forgive us, but like the song says also gives healing with it. Take a few minutes and meditate of the words of the chorus of this song....and give God back the praise he deserves.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Dare I say it.... aka "What the heck?"

I spend quite some time surfing the bowels of the interwebs. It is not uncommon to find me dredging up the bottom the the vast webspace. What is interesting is that after you spend some time doing what I do on a regular basis you become pretty jaded to crazy things. "BBQ fork stuck in dogs head for three days! Pic after the jump!" and so on. Things just don't shock me like they used to.

And then I came across Evangel Cathedral. Now I enjoy looking at church websites, because most of them are absolutely horrible. They shock the unshokable....but I digress. For the purpose of this post let us have the website speak for itself....

Did you watch the intro? Yes? Ok, good.

Did you hear the Minister of Shredding unload his handy work as he melted your face? Good.

I hope you payed close attention, because only so often do you hit a gold mine of "What the heck was that?" I have seen some pretty sick and crazy stuff on the internet. But for some reason, this just takes the cake.

So here is my question, "What the heck?"

I don't understand the purpose, I don't understand the flash, I don't understand the grand scale, I don't understand the spectacle, I don't understand why a church has a "First Lady," I don't understand the church unfolding like Optimums Prime. This seems to be a grand showcase of everything that is wrong with the church today. Let us focus on everything but God. I guess that Evangel Cathedral means a lot to a lot of people, and I guess good things are going on there. But why?

I am jaded the the zany nature of the interweb, why does this church stuff bother me so? What is it about this church that makes my stomach churn, but a story about a girl getting 53 star tattoos on her face while she napped (that story gets better...but again... I digress)...I don't even bat an eye

On their web site it says that "We are to be a trailblazer in the Body of Christ in the areas of Worship, Fine Arts, Music and Special Events." If this is so true, why do I find my self fleeing in the other direction?

Here is the equation,

crazy internet hi jinx and grossness = meh,

church website = bewilderd semi-anger.

oh well.

Monday, July 13, 2009

When did you first worship?

Worship is probably one of the more complicated words in Christianiese. Yes, there are bigger words with heavy concepts and people argue about them and whatnot... But worship....It is such a loaded concept that for the sake of this post I will just ask, "When did you first worship?" As we worship through our everyday life, when was the first time we felt the angels sing in the bottom of our ears? When was the first time you felt God surround the inside of you? I am not talking about a slain in the spirit/toungs/healing/life shattering event. I mean that instant, that wisp of electricity when you knew without a doubt what you had always just heard...

Here is mine:

The summer of my sophomore year of high school. We had just moved towns, states, pretty much everything. It was hard.

Let us put that aside.

I had the chance to see my favorite band, Five Iron Frenzy, play an outdoor show on Lake Michigan. It was beautiful. Not just the surrounding area, but the surrounding people. It was the Ska/Punk show event of the year.

I am not very good at writing word pictures, so just pop these images into your brain for a minute.

Lots of Hi-Top Chucks
Kicked in the face (accident)

The band had played for about an hour and a half, pulling out their best of the best. Every one just dancing all night long as hard as they can. FIF always ended a show with their song "Every New Day," and we were all just waiting for that moment. But, they had something else in mind. All was quiet and out of nowhere Reese Roper began the first few lines "God of all creation, of water earth and sky..." and the next line was accompanied by nothing but the voices of the crowd (honestly I was thinking, "How do some of these people know this song?") "... the heavens are your tabernacle, Glory to the Lord on high."

It was perfect. Dirt, sweat, blood, voices mixing into one moment. The song ended and I was on my knees. I felt quiet, I felt the Lord.

The song ended, and the band ripped into the second to last song "World without End." This is probably one of my favorite songs by any band ever. Here is the chorus.

(I didn't have to look them up, I still know them by heart:)

"In the soundless awe and wonder
words fall short to hope again
How beautiful, how vast your love is
New forever, world without an end."

Those words still give me shivers.

This is why I think this is the first time I truly worshiped; I was singing at the top of my lungs, with people just like me. The punk/ska sub culture in a church all their own. I identified with everyone around me, singing a vision of life eternal, "New forever, world without end."

There was a split second where I thought of the last year, the disasters, the hard times, the sweet moments, the looming shadows, but in the midst of all of this, I felt something rip into my world, a fresh opening to something wonderful. I really can't describe it, but I knew, that no matter what happened, God was with me and would be with me always.

I realized that worship isn't something you just do for an hour a week. It isn't a type of music, it isn't a task that a specific person can just lead. It isn't a commodity or a porduct. Worship is the moment that you realize, on your own (meaning not parents, sundayschool, pastor) that God is with you, that God has been with you and that he will never ever leave you. Worship is the idea and the practice of living in that very moment. At that concert and all that goes with it, was the first time I saw that moment. I saw that God is in fact three dimensional; not just in heaven and earth then and now, but always.

At that silly concert eight years ago something moved inside of me. It shifted everything that I know. I want to hold on to that thing, that shifting, moving thing. That thing is the key to worshiping God.

When did you first Worship?

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Small Prayer


Open my eyes, that I may hear
Open my ears, that I may see
Open my heart, that I may know
Open my mind, that I may love


Friday, July 3, 2009

No Excuses

One of the biggest issues I feel churches and Worship Leaders are dealing with (and sadly, dealing with poorly) today is copyrights and the ethics that go along with that. The website, did a poll back in January about how churches feel about copyright. Here's the results of their poll: I think it's great that 12% seek legal counsel because it never hurts to be too careful, however I would be happy if we just ensured that someone in the church did research and got educated on the copyright laws. I am a bit worried about the 43% that rely on staff people. Hopefully the staff person is actually worrying and looking at these things, however in my experience, not all church staffs are as concerned as they should be.

Some examples of the offenses against this I've seen are not putting up the copyright info on slides being shown on a projector to the congregation, using pictures that are copyrighted (some even go as far as to just crop the copyright off the picture itself), using video clips that are copyrighted unauthorized, not putting copyright info on the sheet music or chord charts the band is using, copying sheet music or chord charts illegally, and sadly the list goes on and on.

Here's the reason I get so upset.........these are easy fixes. If we take the time to look into things and get educated, we don't have to break these copyright regulations. The Bible says in Ephesians 5:8-9 (NIV) "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light. For the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth." We are to be the light that consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth. This means we should be setting the example. There are so many businesses out there that are concerned with copyrights and ethics, yet we the church, the "children of light," are not worrying ourselves about it. Ridiculous.

Ok so here's the deal, get educated! Do your research. Below I've given a few resources to better move the church forward with copyright issues:
  • Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI) This is what I used for pretty much every song we sang when I was a Worship Leader. Not only do they have great song selections, but they make it so easy to make sure you are following copyright code. The prices are dependent on your church size. Having a CCLI license is not an option, it's an ethical must.
  • SongSelect is a service CCLI provides if you pay a bit extra every month. You can print off sheet music, chord charts, harmony sheets, and all kinds of resources. It's a great resource for finding special music numbers that are on theme with your service because you can search for songs by lyrics. The best part about this is the copyright info is already on the things you print, so you don't have to worry about. CCLI requires license users to submit a report every 2 years or so of a 6 month period stating what songs you have used, how many you printed, what was put on the screen, etc. If you have SongSelect they make it crazy simple to report these things. SongSelect has a database right on the website that you can use to keep track of all these things. Amazing!
  • The Church Video License is another key license that churches should have if planning to show any kind of video media during a service.
  • Wing Clips is a great resource for churches where you can look up relevant movie clips and even search according to theme so that your clip matches your service theme. The website takes care to ensure that all copyright issues are good to go on these clips. You can download the clips on a lower resolution for free or get a membership for a small fee to get higher quality clips.
  • Easy Worship is a program that a lot of churches are using instead of just Power Point for slides. The only reason I am including this link is because Easy Worship makes it easy to put the copyright info on your slides. When you put lyrics into the program it has a place to put all the copyright info as well and then they put it in the correct order on the bottom of your slides. It's magically!
  • SXC is a great site that provides free stock images that have no copyright. The photographers and people who post to this site do so to provide great images for free to users. You just have to create a log-in to get these amazing pictures. There are numerous sites like this, but I just happen to use this one.
So with all these great resources, plus so many more that I haven't named, there is no excuse for churches to not be setting the example in ethics and copyright laws. We represent the name of Jesus and all that he stands for..remember that when you are planning your next worship service....heck remember that in your everyday life of worship.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Taize Community

The Taize Community, based out of France, has been growing since the late '40s. Their impact has been growing worldwide with people from all denominations, Catholic, Protestant, joining them in worship. The interesting thing is that the backbone of the community live a sort of monastic lifestyle with the purpose of living to be a sign of reconciliation between divided Christians and between separated peoples. The other aspect is that while there is this main group of Brothers, anyone can join in with them in worship and prayer. Here is an example of a daily time of worship:

Check them out at

Time of the Church 11



When the Lord delivered us from bondage,
it seemed like a dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter,
on our lips there were songs.

The heathens themselves said: “What marvels
the Lord worked for them!”
What marvels the Lord worked for us!
Indeed we were glad.

Deliver us, O Lord, from our bondage
as streams in dry land.
Those who are sowing in tears
will sing when they reap.

They go out, they go out, full of tears,
carrying seed for the sowing;
they come back, they come back, full of song,
carrying their sheaves.

Psalm 126


Paul wrote: If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part. (…) And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

l Corinthians 13,1-9.13


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

John 1,1-5




For those who are far from home, immigrants, exiles, victims of oppression, Lord, we pray.

For those who are going through trials, who need help and compassion, Lord, we pray.

For all of us gathered here, that we may remain attentive to those entrusted to us, Lord, we pray.

That we may be delivered from all anxiety, Lord, we pray.

That we may learn to share more fairly the resources of our planet among all, Lord, we pray.

That a sense of wonder at the beauty of creation may remain alive in us, Lord, we pray.

That we may find light and courage in the mystery of communion that is the Church, Lord, we pray.

Our Father


Jesus our peace, you never abandon us. And the Holy Spirit always opens a way forward, the way which consists in casting ourselves into God as into the depths. And astonishment arises: these depths are not an abyss of darkness; they are God—fathomless depths of compassion and innocence.


Bless us, Lord Christ; you give peace to our hearts when the unthinkable happens, the suffering of the innocent.