Question: How A Praise Leader Can Focus On God While Leading

Youth Celebration Night, May 26th 2007

Anonymous asked:
quick question for you! so i read one of your blogs saying that you used to be a worship leader, i too am a worship leader and i kind of need your help/advice. when you lead worship, how did you focus on God? i try to, but it’s hard for me to focus on Him because i’m too busy concentrating on playing the piano or trying to match my tempo with the other band members, etc. help? thanks in advance!

I’m still learning here, but this is exactly one of the things I teach during praise practice and seminars.

First of all, practice the heck out of your instrument.  It’s not just to sound awesome (though that helps), but so you can get it down to second nature.  Unlike a regular old band, your last priority is chords and keys and tempo.  The better you know your music, the less you have to worry about it.  This will help with focusing on the most important priorities for praise.

Now the “focus” part: Most good praise songs will have two elements: Story and Imagery.  Inevitably this leads to Response.This is why the best praise songs read like the Book of Psalms — you’ll see Story, Imagery, and then David’s (or the psalm writer’s) Response.

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Suddenly Wanting His Return

Was driving today in a panic to take care of a million things, looking up at the spotty Florida sky that looked like God had painted with a clogged spray paint can. Tired, frustrated, irritated, jealous of everyone else who wasn’t me.

Suddenly imagined Jesus with his one-hundred million angels, separating the spray painted clouds and his trumpets blasting and the entire earth lit up by his lightning-and-thunder presence. If one angel has a twelve foot wing span, then that’s 11 miles of wings per one mile of sky. Imagine the sound.

It was a rush. To think at any moment the show could be over, the whole lid ripped off history and the director yelling cut. Justice finally unrolling itself in completion. Jesus here, in full glory, no more charades — his head on fire, a sword sticking out his face, stars in his hand, riding a war horse. How awesome.

Hurry, Lord. Can’t wait for the day. Until then: we fight.

Quote: Control

God loves you and He’s in control. Otherwise we’re not talking about God. If God loved you but couldn’t control anything, then we should be worried. If God was in control but didn’t love you, then we should still be worried. But if God’s got this and He’s got you, there’s nothing to worry about.

So About The Speaking Of The Tongues

Two questions, both anonymous:

how do you know if you have tongues? i went to a retreat a last year, and i received the gift of tongues but i feel awkward using it like i’m just making up my own words.


Hi, until last Sunday I never heard anyone speak in tongues. After hearing it last week … I decided to investigate pretty thoroughly. … I’m concerned my family thinks it is cultish. What are your thoughts on spiritual gifts and also on explaining Christianity is not a cult? Thanks (Edited for length)

Since this is such a cultural issue with tons of history and stigma, I really don’t look forward to answering this one.  Someone somewhere with a degree in something will tell me I’m wrong about this or that.  Okay, cool. I have degrees too, but I prefer going to the Bible.

The two big mention of tongues in Scripture is Acts 2 on the Day of Pentecost and 1 Corinthians 14.  About as slow as you possibly can, read 1 Corinthians 14 and look at the plain obvious teaching.  You’ll see that it’s NOT congruent with what you see in today’s church.

Notice these tidbits:

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Quote: Undeserving

“God’s decision to forgive Peter required the death of his Son; Peter’s decision to forgive those who had offended him would cost him little more than his pride. The same is true for us.

In the shadow of my hurt, forgiveness feels like a decision to reward my enemy. But in the shadow of the cross, forgiveness is merely a gift from one undeserving soul to another. Forgiveness is the gift that ensures my freedom from a prison of bitterness and resentment.”

— Andy Stanley

Book Review: Sacred Marriage

Sacred Marriage
By Gary Thomas

Perhaps the absolute seminal work on biblical marriage, Gary Thomas’ classic Sacred Marriage is worth a revisit considering both Tim Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage and Mark Driscoll’s Real Marriage have topped the charts. Written before the escalating attacks on marriage today, Gary Thomas’ work is more needed now than he could’ve imagined.

Revisiting this work with my faded highlights and old foodstains, I remember why it had struck such a chord before: because Gary Thomas is a writer. He does not mince words, does not skirt the issue, does not go for the easy answer. Using vivid illustrations with personal stories and sound theology, Thomas writes like a tough mentor but a comforting friend. He’s the coach you can expect to whip you in shape but also have a heart-to-heart with after the game.

Gary Thomas’ grand central thesis is, What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy? It’s an incisive, convicting theme that is both biblical and practical. I believe almost all marriage books since (including Tim Keller’s and Mark Driscoll’s) have quoted this in one form or another.

Since marriage is but a shadow of our relationship with God, then marriage itself is our earthly picture of the Gospel for both joy and sanctification. Nothing else like marriage will give us such a clear view of God Himself. And nothing else like knowing God will lead to a fulfilling, lasting, joyful marriage.

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Quote: Balancing

“Justice must be about much more than balancing out the wrongs of the world. It must be about making things right, about the kind of restoration that does not reverse the pain, but moves beyond it toward something new.”

— Rachel Tulloch

It Doesn’t Always Stick: Quit Blaming Yourself Over The Prodigal

The rising star in your church could just as quickly be a crashing fireball that burns out in seconds.

But at some point you need to quit punching yourself in the jaw and pick up your teeth from the tile.

Unless you held a gun at their head, it’s not your fault.

I know you’re mad at them, just as much as you’re mad at yourself. They were the ones who attended everything, who served every time, who called you at midnight when they were in trouble. You texted and emailed and Facebook chatted every day. You prayed over them on your knees at night, hoping God would lead them in incredible ways. You spent more time and money and energy on them than even your own family.

All for what? For them to cut you off like you never existed.

You could’ve done more, probably. There’s guilt about how you lashed out, how you could’ve made the church more cool, how you could’ve called more, wrote more, spent more.

But he’s gone. She left. You can leave the ninety-nine to get the one, but after all: there’s still ninety-nine.

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Question: Christianity Is Selfish?

yinayun asked:

“I don’t believe in Christianity because I believe it’s a selfish religion” what are your thoughts on such a statement? I have so much that I could say about it myself but I would love to hear your thoughts.

As a famous speaker once said, I feel like a mosquito at a nudist beach: Where do I start?

1) First off: Today’s church can be selfish

But people confuse the modern messed up church with the real power of Jesus Christ. I’m certainly dissatisfied with the hoarding American church and its isolated philosophy of Prayer-Praise-Scripture at the expense of Going-Making-Giving. When $10 million megachurches are built while 26,000 children die of starvation everyday, something is wrong.

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Book Review: Enemies of the Heart

Enemies of the Heart
By Andy Stanley

Andy Stanley, one of the most effective church leaders today, writes another practical work: this one on emotions gone bad. Diving into the core of the matter, Andy digs deep enough to start the hard work on overcoming our fluctuating feelings.

Andy Stanley is like the cool uncle who dispenses the best advice over a cup of hot coffee on a rainy day. His voice feels like inviting an old friend in your home: safe, reassuring, almost “by-golly” at times, with just the right balance of zip and patience. It’s why Pastor Andy is one of the bestselling preachers and writers for every age range, walk of life, among different communities and races, for the erudite scholar or the everyday layman. He has a cozy, broad appeal.

Enemies of the Heart is no different, as Pastor Andy covers the four most aggressive emotions that threaten to hurt us: Guilt, Anger, Greed, and Jealousy. Turning each of these into “debts” — such as Guilt becoming “I Owe You” — Pastor Andy gets to work on the diagnoses and the cure. While some would accuse him of being soft on doctrine, Stanley actually does a great job incorporating the Gospel into each of these emotions, showing how Jesus came to rescue us daily from the power of sin.

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Good Friday Sermon: Moral Conformity Vs. Missional Calling

Preached at the 30 Hour Famine at King’s Avenue Church in Brandon, FL.

Good Friday: Moral Conformity Vs. Missional Calling

Philippians 3. Taking hold of God’s Call. “The gracious God who will jackslap you upside your head, why I feel sorry for good-looking people, trading in your bike for a Dodge Viper, and our lives a billion years from now.” 4-6-12

Hey Preacher: That Loser You’re Talking About Is Me

The preacher says, “And only if he had walked out of that room, it all would’ve been different.”

The church nods, of course. Everyone agrees that getting your eyes gouged out by uncircumcised Philistines is pretty much an undesirable thing.

He adds, “He totally missed out on God’s Perfect Plan. All those blessings, gone.”

It’s a good way to increase offering. Keep the people scared, guilty, guessing, confused. You thought you would never see people fighting for the offering plate.

I remember first attending church those years ago, seeking for truth, hearing the preacher fire arrows at the drunks, the addicts, the divorced, the criminals, the perverts — and I kept thinking, But I’m that guy. I’m the guy he keeps talking about. That loser is me.

Sometimes the preacher reams on the consequences: but many of us are still living through them.

Might as well be yelling, Yeah, screw those guys! Those wicked, baby-hating, Wizard-of-Oz-loving, liberal-commie, vegan-environmentalist pagans! Am I right? Huh? The church keeps nodding.

But where is the grace for them? Does God love them less somehow? How does God feel when we fall off His Will?

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Enough Talk About Sex Trafficking: How To Help

When it comes to the sex slave trade — and by that I mean the continual rape of millions of girls forced into abusive slavery — there is a lot of reblogging, misinformation, angry but pointless Facebook statuses, and anti-slave Tweets on Twitter that are more about popularity than action.

So what can we do?

Here’s a list of sites and organizations with real information that can actually do something.

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Question: I Love My Bible But I Hate Church

Anonymous asked:
I love bible study. I spend hours every day reading the bible and comparing scripture as I am currently reading through the whole bible. But I don’t attend a church. I’m sure this is wrong, although I don’t feel bad about it like I do when I don’t read the bible. So my 2 questions are as follows: 1) Where does having an immense joy in reading the bible come from? Trust me I didn’t decide one day I was going to start liking the bible. And 2) How do I address the issue of not attending church?

I can only assume several things here:

1) You’re reading the Bible for fun.  Which is like playing with gasoline in a furnace, or using a baseball bat to pick your nose.

2) You’ve made church an option, while the Bible clearly does not.

Whether you claim to be a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Wiccan, or whatever else, the Bible is not like a piece of art from Picasso or Rembrandt.  It’s great that you enjoy reading it, and the fact that you’re digging into Scripture and reading the whole thing says more for you than other “Christians.” But as long as you keep it at arm’s length like something to be studied, you’re forfeiting the very power of Jesus Christ — you know, the Savior who gave death the middle finger and gives us the high five of eternal life.

Of course, I can’t force any of that on you. But if you truly are enjoying the Bible, that’s the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of God) beckoning you to His Truth.  Please don’t ignore that.  Consider that the Bible may actually be ALL true.  I know, sounds like a fundamentalist.  But if it’s true, that should literally scare the hell out of you.

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Question: A Battle Plan For Sex?

Anonymous asked:

I need your help, because I messed up real bad. I love Jesus, and I’m a devout Christian believer, but I can’t control myself. I let myself get wrapped up in the world of lust, and had premarital sex quite a few times in the last three months. I need help, I don’t know what to do. My girlfriend and I want to stop, we want to be good Christians, yet we keep giving in to temptation. We keep promising each other that’s the end of it, but it still goes on. What can we do to stop and grow in Christ? I pray so hard for us, and she does too I think. Please help because I’m becoming so frustrated, I want to follow Christ and do the right thing, but I don’t have the strength too!

(I made you anonymous because I wasn’t sure if you wanted to be known.)

Brother, I understand your struggle. You’re making a real first step in acknowledging the problem and wanting to honor God in all of it.  So you’ve figured out now that wanting to stop is not enough to stop.  Maybe because once you actually stop, you’re not sure if there’s anything to look forward to.

Once sex is in the picture, the focus gets all fuzzy and the foundation gets confused.  You’ll have to re-orient and re-think a lot of the dynamics.  Praying is good and you must pray, but “praying it away” won’t work.  You’ll need to pray towards something.

What I’m about to say will sound like legalistic behavior modification. But once again, effort is not legalism. The internal trusting of God necessarily predicates external changes in behavior.  In other words, true change begins from the inside-out, but without outside change then you know nothing happened inside. You’ll need a Battle Plan, to build forward instead of just avoiding sin.

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Easter Hangover: The Day After, When Jesus Stops Trending

Fresh from the grave, Jesus was the hottest thing since sliced manna.

Thomas fell over, Peter jumped in the water, Mary ran, random angels appeared. When the Bible says that some of the 500 who saw Jesus were “now asleep,” I’d imagine some of them died from plot-twist-embolism.

But the day after?

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Quote: Good

“Is God only good when we get good news? Is He then ‘bad’ when we get a speeding ticket or cancer? How about, ‘I got a speeding ticket — but God is good because He’s still God.’ Or, ‘The cancer is back — but God never left.’”

Happy Easter, Jimmy

Dear cousin Jimmy,

You died about ten years ago. When I met you, you were screaming in pain but you didn’t know why. You were born almost completely brain-dead; you could only eat, drink, breathe, scream, laugh, smile, and cry. I had the privilege of making you laugh once by making a funny face. Or maybe you just laughed at my face.

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