Category Archives: church life

The Peacemakers

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brothers to dwell together in unity!
Psalm 133:1 NASB

God desires that His people, His children, be unified. He blesses unity greatly with His presence, with anointing, with refreshing, with life. He wants peace among His people.

Unity in the church means that we can be effective in God’s work. It also means that being part of the church is refreshing, pleasant, life-giving, rather than draining, exhausting, frustrating. Unity means we all treat one another with love. It means we all do our part. It means we submit to one another’s needs. It means we encourage and hold one another accountable. It means we, as a body, are focused on a singular purpose. It means we work to make peace with one another.

Each of us needs unity with our brothers and sisters because it brings life-giving blessing from God. When we forget the significance of unity in the church, we become frustrated, exhausted, selfish.

When we are frustrated with others, how much of our frustration is our own selfishness? We must work harder for peace and unity. Submit. Release selfishness. In truth, thought it’s only His grace that can overcome our selfishness so that we become peacemakers, unifiers.

Then each of us, personally, could be more at peace.

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The Good of the Church

For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.
Psalm 122:9

David sought the good of Jerusalem because within it was the tabernacle, the place which the presence of God Himself inhabited.

We should seek the good of the Church because God Himself inhabits her. We should seek the good of our communities because the Church – God’s people and the very vessel of His presence – resides in them.

God cares about peace and unity within His church and within our cities. He expects from His children reverence for the Church because it is the body and bride of Christ. It is the instrument of His redemption and authority in the world.

The Church should be a source of gladness for us because it is the gathering of His people for His glory.

For the sake of God, we must seek the peace, unity, prosperity of the Church. For the sake of the church, we should seek the peace and prosperity of our community and the world.

Sometimes, we struggle to respect and love the Church. We forget, because of her many shortcomings – and because of our many shortcomings – that she is the instrument of God’s work, power, glory, authority, and redemption in this world. She is the vessel in which His presence resides.

She belongs to Christ and should be loved and respected as His body and bride.

We resent the church when we are hurt by her. We lose hope for her when she or a part of her (especially her human leadership) fails. We separate her completely from the world, though she exists in it for its good.
I should remember, too, that as a member and leader in the Church, I have a need for all her members to seek the peace, unity, and prosperity of the Church.

Let’s pray this way:

God renew my love for the universal Church and for my church, because Your presence resides in her. Give me a love for my community because Your church resides in her. Give me a love for the world because You love the world and placed Your Church in it for its good.

Imagine if there were no resentment, anger, hatred toward the Church in your heart or mine ever again. Because she is the body of Christ, we’d work tirelessly for her good and the good of the communities and the world in which our churches reside.

Worship=Life Podcast

I want to invite you to subscribe to my brand new Worship=Life podcast. Each episode, we’ll explore the nuts and bolts of worship ministry in today’s church – the technological, the visual, the musical, and the spiritual.

My goal is to help worship leaders develop their ministries, their leaders, their teams, their environments to provide the best possible opportunities for God-honoring worship in their churches. I’ll share what I’ve learned over the years, as well as what I’m in the process of learning. I’ll bring in experts to share their wisdom with you as well.

In the first episode, I begin a series on ministry structure, starting with the values our ministries embrace. Check the episode out at the link above. I’d love to get your feedback!

Relevant Worship

But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (‭John‬ ‭4‬:‭23-24‬ NASB)

God is no longer concerned about the place where you worship because worship is about more than location and prescribed rituals. God seeks worshipers who will worship Him from the heart under the initiation and guidance of the Spirit as informed by Scripture. This is the only real worship.

God seeks worshipers who will genuinely worship Him in a way that is initiated, guided, and empowered by the spirit and informed by His truth, His Word. He is not concerned about worship happening in a particular location. He is not interested in worship that is simply a rote reenactment of prescribed rituals that is not done in spirit and truth. In fact, because God is spirit, there is no other way to worship Him but in spirit and truth.

God seeks worshipers. Therefore, He initiates worship. He has allowed us the honor of worshiping Him.

But many of the things that concern us in worship are not important, not even relevant. What is relevant? The Spirit, His guidance, and the Word of God as it informs our worship. We must focus on these things.

When we forget these things, we go through the motions in our worship. Those of us who are worship leaders are sometimes just trying to get through a Sunday. We get overly concerned about all the details.

But what each of us needs, regardless of our role in corporate worship – whether leader or participant – is to focus our hearts on God’s Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. When we worship privately, we must begin with a focus on God’s Word and His Spirit. It doesn’t matter where we are or who we are.

It is not in our nature to be this kind of worshiper, but His grace can change our nature.

Father, let us be the kind of worshipers You seek.

Love Covers All Transgressions

Hatred stirs up strife,
But love covers all transgressions.

Proverbs‬ ‭10‬:‭12‬ NASB

We need love, and we need to give love. God has shown us love, and He has shown us how to love through Christ, His Son. He wants us to love as He has loved us.

God doesn’t want us to stir up strife, but to love one another, forgiving sins, preserving peace. Sadly, though we have seen His love for us through the blood of Christ spilled on the cross, we must be reminded to love rather than hate.

When fellow believers sin, we often look for ways to expose their sins, to bring them to justice. (Now, there comes a time when – if a believer refuses to repent – sins must be exposed in the course of biblical church discipline. We have not reached that point – we’re talking here about beginning this process from a place of love.) Instead, let’s ask God to change our desires. Ask for the desire to love them, forgive their transgressions, and keep peace.

Love. Don’t hate.

Forgive. Don’t condemn.

Review | Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God | Timothy Keller

I recently finished Pastor Timothy Keller’s latest book, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, and wow. What a phenomenal work. It’s got a permanent place in my library, now, folks, and I highly recommend it to each of you.

As a Christian, and especially as a worship pastor, I believe prayer is of utmost importance, but I’ve always struggled with it. That’s why 2014 was the year of prayer for me. I pray everyday, but I made it a personal goal to find the prayer life God had for me.

I read two books last year that had an impact on my prayer life:

I’d recommend them both to you without hesitation, but Keller’s book is the one that’s left the most lasting impression on me.

Keller provides the reader with a deeper understanding of what prayer is scripturally and historically, as well as what it is not. And he gives practical tools that focus your prayers on God, rather than your own needs and wants.

In the couple of weeks since I finished the book, I have applied Keller’s wisdom, and I’ve seen the difference. In all honesty, I’ve experienced God in my prayer time in ways that I never have before.

There’s no magic here. Keller simply points us to Scripture as our source for the power of prayer.

National Worship Leader Conference 2014

Last week, I traveled with four members of my worship team to the National Worship Leader Conference in Centreville, Virginia.  If you’re involved in worship ministry, and you have never been to NWLC, you need to go.  It’s an amazing time of learning, spiritual refreshment, and fellowship with others who are involved in what can be a lonely line of work – something we all need.

I shared last night with my team three takeaways that I think are going to have a huge impact on our ministry.  It was incredibly difficult to narrow it down to just three, but here they are, readers!

  1. In his workshop on inductive worship leading, Tim Timmons posed the question, “How would Jesus lead worship?”  (First off, Timmons is real, hilarious, and great fun to spend an hour listening to.) Jesus, he said, invited people into their own stories in such a way as to help them really own their response to Him.  Think about the woman at the well or the rich young ruler.  He asked them questions about their own stories that brought them to (very different) realizations about each of their places in the kingdom of God.  This is what Timmons called Inductive Worship Leading. So, as worship leaders, How are we helping people respond to Jesus? Are we just speaking to them and expecting agreement, or are we looking for ways to draw them into a genuine, personal response to Jesus?
  2. We are all in the mission field.  That’s what theologian and author Leonard Sweet told us.  And the first job of a missionary is to learn the language of the culture. This culture communicates in story. The church has tried to build an identity on words, but story is our original language. A strong identity is built on narrative, and if we can begin to rebuild our identity in our original language, we can reach this culture.
  3. Probably the most important thing I came away with is something that we all ought to know anyway, but it’s something that we forget to easily. Again from Tim Timmons: the only job I have is to seek first the kingdom of God. I can’t make people respond genuinely to Jesus.I’m just a branch. The Father is the gardener. He’s doing all the work.