Monday, January 4, 2016

New Year! Clear Direction!

2016 is here!  A fresh start...a new perspective....a clean year's resolutions etc.  This is an exciting time of year for me.  I like looking at life with a clean slate and asking myself the question, what am I going to do this year?  A more important question for me is, "God, what do you want me to do this year?"

The American culture and media places so much emphasis on SELF.  Do this, do that, become this, become that,  be this, be that, start a business, become debit free, loose weight, go work out, buy real estate, write music, produce a CD, go on a music tour, go to school and get your degree online, and SO much more.  It's a bit overwhelming!  American society and media bombards us with a plethora of potential goals, that its easy just to pick a few,  and be on our way to accomplishing these goals.  BUT????????????

Are those goals YOU are supposed to pursue? 
Are you doing what God designed you to do by accomplishing these goals?

While reflecting and praying this morning, I was reminded of a scripture in Proverbs 14:12 which says, there is a way that seems right unto a man, but in the end it leads to death. It is important to not let the media or society determine your goals.  Just don't pursue something because everyone else is doing it, don't pursue something because its popular or causes you to appear as "having it all together."  Does accomplishing these goals fulfill your own desires, or does accomplishing prospective goals fulfill God's will for you?

In this season, as you think about the goals you want to accomplish this year, I encourage you to seek the Lord to receive CLEAR direction.  He designed you! He knows the goals you should set for yourself that leads to His divine purpose for your life. Why settle for anything less?

Have you asked the Lord to give you direction, but are still confused as to what you are to do? Have you asked the Lord for direction, and it seems like you haven't received an answer?   Let me encourage you with the following passage of scripture in John 16:13...when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth........he will tell you what is yet to come.

The Holy Spirit promises to GUIDE you.  The Holy Spirit promises to TELL you what is yet to come.  When the Holy Spirit guides you, and tells you what is yet to come, CLEAR DIRECTION is given in your life. Then you can walk boldly.  You can walk confidently in the purpose God designed for your life.  Why settle for anything less than what the creator designed you to do? God inspired goals, as opposed to self made goals, leads to the most fulfilling life possible.  

Continually ask the Holy Spirit to give your life direction.  Allow the Holy Spirit to give you clear direction on the goals you are to set for yourself this year, then watch a fulfilling, purpose filled, and impactful life unfold before your very eyes!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Real Meaning of Christmas

Christmas is a very special time. It is a time of year when legions of Americans go shopping, see Santa Claus, spend time with family, eat too much food, etc... :-)  Unfortunately, commercialism has significantly overshadowed the true meaning of Christmas in America

When I think about the true meaning of Christmas, I think about the unfathomable sacrifice Jesus made to provide mankind the opportunity to be in relationship with Him.  What sacrifice am I referring to?

First, for Jesus to wrap himself in His own creation (a human being), is mind blowing.  How does the creator become His creation? How does the God of the universe deduce Himself down to flesh and blood? The answer is LOVE. Because of our broken and sinful state, Jesus became our sacrifice, our mediator that reunited our ability to be in relationship with our heavenly Father.  The prophet Isaiah details the extent of Jesus' love and sacrifice for us. 

But he was pierced for our transgression, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.  - Isaiah 53:5

Second, for Jesus to humble himself and stay true to his mission of providing us salvation is astonishing.  Just think, by Jesus deducing himself to a human being, He could feel what we feel. Hurt, pain, loneliness, rejection and more.  In the midst of experiencing these wide range of emotions, Jesus could have called down legions of angels to minister to Him, but he didn't.  He could have struck dead those people who beat, mocked, and insulted him,  but he didn't.  All Because of His Love for us!

This is the heart of Christmas! Jesus' love for us.  In response to this love, we should praise Him. We should dedicate our lives to Him.  We should serve Him with everything we have.  David encapsulates an appropriate response to Christ's love for us in Psalm 92:1-5.

It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night, to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp.  For you make me glad by your deeds, O Lord; I sing for joy at the works of your hands.  How great are your works, O Lord, how profound your thoughts! - Psalm 92:1-5

Remember the real meaning of Christmas, and in response, offer praise to our heavenly Father for the significant sacrifice He made for us.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Who Is Writing Your "To Do List?"

Life can get so busy at times....this to do, and that to do. Have you ever experienced trying to complete all the tasks on your "to do list," only to discover that they are endless, and while completing them, can devour an infinite amount of your time? A whole day can literally pass while trying to accomplish  all your tasks, and you ask yourself, "where did the time go? I have so much more to do." "I feel like I haven't gotten anything done."

I have come to realize that the "to do list" will never get completed in its entirety. It is wise to simply delineate the tasks that should be completed today, and the ones that should be completed on the days that follow.  Eliminating the stress and pressure of trying to complete all the "to do list" tasks at once is freeing. More importantly, it provides room for the Lord be in the forefront of our thinking.... allowing Him to prioritize the things He wants us to do on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis.

Proverbs 16:3 says commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. Many people live their lives doing what they want to do. Doing what they deem important. Even Christians do this.  On the other hand, a person that mentally prioritizes the will of Jesus in their life will find themselves traveling on "success" road as pointed out in Proverbs 16:3.  Allow Jesus to write your "to do list." Believe me! More will be accomplished in your life by executing His "to do list" verses you executing your own.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

He Wants It All

     Sunday morning is one of the most religious days of the week in the United States.  Every Sunday, thousands of people scurry to their places of worship.  There they pray, sing, fellowship with others, give money, time, talent and more.  Some people have done these things all their life because their parents regularly did so, resulting in them doing the same.  Others do so later in life because it is the "right thing to do" if one wants to "clean up their life."  

     Although church attendance, and all the things associated with it, are noble  and respectable activities, it is possible to do all these activities without truly giving your heart to Jesus. It is easy to fall into a religious trap where all the "activities" of a person who loves Jesus are done without truly giving Jesus what He desires most from us.....OUR HEARTS.

Deuteronomy 6:5 says love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 

     Reflect, and ask yourself.... "does Jesus truly have my heart?"   Do you anticipate simply being in His presence without wanting anything in return?   Do you think about Him often? Do you desire His will for your life above your own?  Do you make time to listen to him; to receive direction from Him, or are you the captan of your own life? Are you busy doing things for Jesus and not communing with Him. Remember the story of Mary and Martha? Mary chose what was best...fellowshiping with Jesus instead of working for Jesus. 

     I encourage you to give Jesus your heart, not your religious activity. Freely give Him your time, your thoughts, your energy, your finance, etc. The truth of the matter is that Jesus can do more with your  life than you can do with it on your own.  Give Him your heart today, and watch the joyous life fulfilling transformation that will occur in you. You will be amazed!  Listen to the song below, and let the words speak to your spirit. Jesus wants your heart.
        He Wants It All - "By Forever Jones"

There's a voice that cries out in the silence
Searching for a heart that will love Him
Longing for a child that will give Him their all
Give it all, He wants it all
And there's a God that walks over the earth
He's searching for a heart that is desperate
And longing for a child 
That will give Him their all
Give it all, He wants it all

And He says love me, love me with your whole heart
He wants it all today
Serve me, serve me with your life now
He wants it all today
Bow down, let go of your idols
He wants it all today [x3]
He wants it all

And there's a God that walks over the earth
He's searching for a heart that is desperate
Longing for a child that will give Him their all
Give it all, He wants it all

And he says love me, love me with your whole heart
He wants it all today
Serve me, serve me with your life now
He wants it all today
Bow down, let go of your idols
He wants it all today 
He wants it all

All of you, more of you
He wants it all today, oh oh oh oh
All of you, more of you
He wants it all today, oh oh oh oh 
All of you, more of you
He wants it all today, today, today
He wants it all today [x2]
So give it all

There's a voice that cries out in the silence
Searching for a heart that will love him
Longing for a child that will give him their all
Give it all
He wants it all 

Friday, December 4, 2015

How to Prosper in Life

Prosperity is a subject on the lips of many people. How prosperity is defined also differs from one person to the next. Some define prosperity through materialism.....a nice house, car, cloths, lots of money, stocks, bonds etc. Some by the quality of their friendships/relationships, and others by their health or physical appearance. 

While there is nothing wrong with enjoying the things mentioned above, the acquisition of these things don't make one prosperous. Knowing the Maker and Giver of all things is the true essence of prosperity.  

Psalm 1 says, blessed is the man who meditates on the law of the Lord day and night, he will be like a tree planted by streams of water, bearing fruit in its season, whose leaf does not wither, and what ever they do will prosper.

Do you desire a prosperous life? Do you want fruitfulness to result from your efforts? Prosperity doesn't come from the acquisition of things, people etc. Knowing the prosperer, Jesus, by being intimately acquainted with His truth will yield MUCH fruit in your life. Fruit that will not only have value on this earth, but will have eternal value as well. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Be Thankful

     We live in an age where it is so easy to complain about what is not taking place in our lives. To complain about what we don't have. To constantly desire things we don't have while never being appreciative or even aware of the abundant blessings in our lives.  This way of living yields a life of ungratefulness.....a dissatisfied life....a life controlled by self instead of a life being led by the Spirit of God.
     Developing a heart of thanksgiving is a significant key to living a fulfilling life directed by God, our Father. The Apostle Paul states in Colossians 3:15 to let the peace that comes from Christ rule in our hearts...and to always be thankful. In that passage he admonishes us to ALWAYS be thankful.  Being thankful removes the earthly scales off our eyes - scales that easily cause us to see things from a perspective of dissatisfaction and lack. Cultivating a spirit of thanksgiving in our heart opens our eyes to the AMAZING things God is doing in our lives daily.
     Perspective is everything. What you focus on grows. The more negativity and lack you focus on, the more of that you'll experience in your life. On the other hand, the more thankful you are, the more aware you become of the awesome miracles God is performing in your life. The more thankful you are, the more peace you'll experience. Why is peace important? Peace is an inner assurance and contentment within yourself, knowing everything will be fine particularly in opposing circumstances. Because peace is a byproduct of a thankful heart, continually cultivate a heart of thanksgiving, then brace yourself. You will begin seeing God's activity in your life like never before. Get ready! God is constantly active in our lives, the question is are we aware of it? Being thankful will bring that awareness. Be Thankful!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Tips For Effective Worship Leading

1. Let God Lead 

Jesus said, I am the vine and you are the branches. Apart from me, you can do nothing. (John 15:5)
In worship, God must be the focal point. Being effective musically does not guarantee an effective
corporate worship experience, but a corporate worship experience where God is the focus is an
is an essential ingredient in an effective corporate worship experience.

2. Engage the Senior Pastor’s Philosophy of Ministry 

It is important that the worship leader supports the senior pastor’s philosophy of ministry in their
worship leading. They should share the same biblical doctrine because if they don't, confusion and
disunity will breed within that local church community.

3. Align With The Other Purposes of the Church

The great commission and great commandment outline five purposes the church: 1. Magnification
(Worship), 2. Membership (Fellowship), 3. Maturity (Discipleship), 4. Ministry and 5. Missions
(Evangelism). Along with the five purposes of the church, there must be a defined
purpose for each event or service. A worship set that under girds/supports the purpose of each
service is very effective. For example, the lyrics of a worship set can emphasis a pastor's bible
study lesson on maturity.

4. Define Your Target 

In worship leading, it is very important to know the cultural background of the members in your congregation. Lyrics, musical style, and presentation must be congruent with the cultural background and spiritual maturity level of members within a congregation . For example, profound spiritual concepts can be explained in a way all people, such as the unchurched can understand.

5. Inspire By Example – Be The Lead Worshiper

The most important thing a worship leader can do is love the Lord with all their heart, mind, and soul. Excellent programming, artistry, and production cannot replace the power of God released through a genuine and contrite heart. During rehearsal and sound check, it is appropriate to be both pastor and producer/director, but when leading worship, simply worship. Refuse to produce while worshiping. People respond to sincerity, and will follow its example.

6. Never Stop Loving Those You Are Leading

Part of the great commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. Worship leaders are often criticized. Church congregants often have opinions about the music, tempo, song choice, lyrics, or style of the worship set rendered to their congregation from week to week. Their opinions can be discouraging or overly critical, but be able to take some criticism, it refines your ministry. And while receiving the criticism, continue to love those giving you the criticism.

7. Give Your Best 

Below is a list of ways worship leaders can ensure they are rendering their best.
a. Worship leaders must be prepared.
b. Memorize your music.
c. Worship teams need to be prepared musically, emotionally and spiritually.
d. Be spiritually ready, physically fit, and emotionally rested yourself.
e. Have appropriate equipment in place and in working order.
f. Plan ahead as much as possible.
g. Delegate: Let others take on some tasks so you can serve out of your strengths.
h. Avoid comparing yourself and your team to the latest professional worship recording.
i. Learn by listening.
j. Evaluate for excellence. Get feedback from your team and congregation.
k. Keep growing musically
l. Keep the worship set fresh by introducing new songs.
m. Avoid the pitfalls of temptation (Eph 5:1-21)

The worship leading tips mentioned in this blog posting are taken from "The Worship Answer Book" by Rich Muchow, worship pastor at Saddleback Church.