Monday, October 19, 2009

begin where you are

Thomas Kelly penned these words in response to a concept called holy obedience. I have wondered about this concept for quite some time. The idea that humans begin where they are. Obey now. There is no time like the present and all other cliche religious phrases bear the same meaning. There is something about starting that moves us wholly in the universe. It changes our being.

Most of the christianity practiced is but a passive attempt at following christ. There are other more active ways in changing the world. Take music for example. I have played music for quite a while and have started going back to school to make a career as a musician. Now, I have to be a part of an ensemble and out of all the choices I tried this one...bluegrass. This has shown to be a great challenge because no longer is one a single musician but is part of a group where things must be standardized. I have a great challenge to accomplish by leading the other musicians in a song. They cannot follow me without a plan, and so my ability to read, have standard rythym, and so on are being tested. I was failing to even keep a simple rythym correctly and the band was suffering. So I went home and dissected the song beat by beat. It was tedious and time consuming, but when I brought it in the next day, the song was a million times better because I had taken the time to delve into what I was leading. It made the experience for others much better and they could follow and shine on there own terms. This is how the followers of christ must be. They must delve deep into the waters of Jesus' life and then show others the same way for them to follow their own path.

Peace easy,


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The beginning of community in worship

Last week was the first night of worship and it was quite awkward. Though we were to be worshiping the same God, the sense of community was greatly lacking. Since I had never met any of the youth before and likewise they me, it was a testing of the waters. The youth minister had warned me before that the youth group doesn't really sing until they know someone. So my first objective is to develop relationships with those that I will be leading into the throne room of God

Introductions are always clumsy for me. I want to go full force with a teen but when there are 30+ others that you have yet to meet it is quite difficult to stay in a conversation as long as you need. I do not want to short change the one I am speaking with but my mind begins to wander. I pray for the consistency of mind to begin a friendship with these teens.

A good technique I have found is to simply sit down with the teen and engage their eyes. Responding to their questions and asking of them who they are in full. What are their hobbies, ideas, dreams, etc? This I have found to be most useful in keeping a connection going. It is good to know all of the names of the youth group, but I don't think that I could develop deep relationships with all of them, that is why there are other sponsors. So going shallow with many will not be as beneficial as going deep with a few.

Leading worship is also knowing the needs of the community and praying for God to lead you in serving the community. The community takes precedence over the worship leader. His/her job is a guide, opening the door to the throne room of God and reminding everyone of the history of God, the splendor of God, the voice of God, providing a way for God to show himself to the community and remind them himself of who he is.

We are the guides, not the attraction. Let us never forget that.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hymns...The forgotten fathers

Hymns are quite honestly some of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. The best version and rendition of a hymn I have ever heard was that of Sufjan Stevens' "Holy, Holy, Holy". Shivers are the least of my bodily functions when this song wafts through the airwaves. But beyond just remaking the songs, the words themselves are passionate, filled with depth and and desire for perfection through the discipline of Christ.

I am not knocking current worship songs at all, but I have begun to see those that stand the test of time, do so for a reason. They do so because no matter the age or time the impact is still felt. The songs of old such as "It is Well" or "O, for a thousand tongues" are shaping the way I view worship.

I have started to see worship as they did, full of poetry, passion, thought, and an obedience to the God that they loved. These songs did not come from men looking to sing, but men expressing their devotion to God.

Just a quick thought. Pace e bene


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Worship-filled life

As I began to read tonight continued into Chronicles I came upon a startling conclusion. Everybody dies. Constantly the writers of the histories mention no matter how good or evil a king, judge, or prophet was.....they all died. Now logically everyone understands that they will die, but tonight as my wife placed her arm on top of my chest and I felt the silken skin I realized one day, there will be no silken skin to touch. The photos on our dresser that mean so much in our home today, will one day be nothing more than yellowed pictures either dis-integrated by time or tossed by relatives who like wise will have the same process put upon them.

The dresser, handmade will be passed down to generations upon generations, and then will become dust. The home we rent, will be bulldozed and memories made will be long forgotten. Everything no matter how perceptibly permanent will wither away. Everything. Every single thing.

I began to weep silently at this. No amount of effort, strength, perseverance, hate, love, peace, war, will change the inevitable. The destruction of all. Perhaps that is why the bible ends with the revelation....I heard it once said that things that are profoundly said are nothing but obvious things revealed. Revelation speaks in description and propounds the obvious. This world will fall away. Everything.

I have also heard it said, all die, but few live. This moment, this blink in the folds of time are all I have. All I am given by God are these few decades if that. I am truly not given any more moments than each breath. Each exhalation is a prayer for the next inhalation. Each step is a faith for the next. Each act done is a grasping of the soul. Grasping pleasure, pain, hate, love, existence, apathy. We all reach for something to console the fact we have no moments past, only the continual fleeting of future time.

It can be quite depressing, even futile to ponder, yet I remember the only man who made the dead come alive, including himself. Death was conquered by only one, whose name we can only attempt to describe. God. Now, for everything else death is a final. Even in the beginning we were not made to be immortal. Reference Gen. 3:22. We were given a time and then were to return to the dust. According to the prehistory recorded by "Moses", once we knew Good and Evil we were banished because if we continued and ate of the tree of life, then we would live forever. And we were denied eternal life, because historically, it was our father's sin.

And so there was continual denial until Christ, who was God, the initial denier, forgave and reconciled his creation. We just have been so long out of commission that we haven't seen the beauty of eternal life...It begins now, and death which can sound so final and overwhelming is nothing but another event in life, akin to asking out your high school crush, getting married, or the birth of your child. It will become a part of you in the eternal rebirthing of the universe, created by the ultimate creator.

It is still sobering to know I will die, because this is a for now just hope, it is blind because I know of it only through an author who recorded the history given to him either by God or personal witness. On the day of my death I expect a hope fulfilled.

The air has never smelled sweeter, the songs I hear have never sounded so great, the smile of my wife has never been more beautiful.

I end with this. I have begun a job as a barista at a local shop called Sugar Brown's and I have been training how to make espresso. It is quite complex, more so than I thought, yet the manager training me, Nat, said something that hit my mind harder than the 10 pulled shots of 'spro.

He said, "Making espresso is not A+B=C, you will never get a perfect espresso by learning a formula and executing it. There is no perfect espresso, there is only good espresso and that, my friend, can be learned with a little bit of effort, forethought, and time."

So, I leave the online world with this, I cannot make a perfect life, one that will be remembered as immortally the best. I can, however, live a good one, if I take the time to invest in it.

Make your life taste like the best 'spro ever.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Finding the song to sing.

I enjoy David Crowder for two reasons.. Number one. It is a combo of the white man 'fro and the beard of an egyptian king.

Number two: His ability to re-create songs to a more updated genre.
Take this old hymn for example.

O, For a Thousand Tongues to Sing

Later, he gives a somewhat sporadic breakdown of how the song is played.

This is the full band version.

He is playing the song in the tuning EAEEBE which makes the song sound fuller and with the uptempo beat gives the song a more driving rythym.

And so it begins...

They say every day can be a new beginning. I have accepted a position as a worship leader for a small, fluctuating, youth group. I have lead worship before, on occasion, but it was slavishly done and not consistent. Now comes, as Nietzsche would say, the long hard road of obedience.

As I start this road I have come to one conclusion...I have absolutely no idea how to lead others into the throne room of God. Yet as a journey of 1000 miles begins with 1 step, so shall this journey begin with a single step. An act of faith, if you will.

As a friend once said, to start something you should find others who are farther down the road than you and follow their example.

Since I decided to blog I have started to look for other blogs that I could glean tips from and so I started with the first worship leader's name that came up...

Matt Redman
This isn't really updated that much with close to 6 months to 1 year between posts. Not that I am knocking him, he has written quite a few books that are in stores.

So, unless I want to pay for worship wisdom, the search continues...

Next up is...

David Crowder
I almost didn't believe this was his website. It is an old school Xanga and is filled with Youtube videos, rock-u-mentaries, reviews of such things as Ruby Tequila's hot sauce. I will enjoy this as a testament to the light-hearted side of worship, of which there totally is, otherwise heaven might be a little dull without some down home Mrs. Tequila's hot sauce.

On the road again...

Chris Tomlin
This is a road tour blog it seems. Which isn't out of the way since he is on tour quite a bit. He does update it frequently and there are photos which always take away from the drudgery of reading words.

Look a gentoo penguin!

I will look into this blog more and also, find out how this penguin is hopping...on water.

Continuing on...

Charlie Hall
A myspace blog that is full of reflections on worship songs and pictures of the the full beard. Tour dates are very much a part of this blog as well. His blog actually sparked the next one.

Phil Wickham
This one gets a little more in-depth than the other ones and is updated quite frequently. Lo, and behold there is a free live worship album from him and 3000 of his closest friends. Phil is more reflective and pensive and yet still finds time to play with a rainbow hula hoop

Finally for today....

This is their full band website of which there are quite a few videos, song downloads, pictures, etc.

Well, I have not delved deep into any of these blogs but have given a grand overview to each. These have given me an insight into the more noted worship leaders. They are all thoughtful, reflective, and certifiably crazy.