right perspectiveI awoke yesterday to the tragic news that a young guy I really loved and had spent some time with at summer camp had just taken his own life.  So, praise and worship leaders, it prompts me to ponder what the right perspective is, and ask the question, “What is important in your life?”

He was a great guy, maybe a little awkward at times, but loved by his family, his many friends and almost everyone he met.  He was fun, witty, smart and seemingly doing OK, but no one knew the inner torments he faced.  I never saw this coming.  He told no one, he faced his demons alone and died alone by a highway.  It breaks my heart.  He will be missed. He had so much potential, and this should never had happened.

Now suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem… it is never the best option, that’s for sure!  But it is sometimes seen by people as a way out of pain, a door to get away from things when there seems to be no other way out.

But it is a false dawn, it is a lie from the devil, and it usually comes about when someone’s perception of what’s really important in life is distorted.

So, as worship leaders and as Christians in general, i seems to me we spend so much time pursuing things that, in the long run, don’t really matter that much.

We get upset about things that a month, a year, even a day or two down the road, we cannot even remember!  We take things so personally in our church and our ministry.  We get so heated, and in the midst of all that, maybe we should be stepping back and seeing things the way God sees them.  Maybe we need His take on what’s happening in our ,lives, and what is really important in life.

 

The Right Perspective… What is really important in life?

 

To answer this question properly, we need to step back from our lives, businesses, activities and yes, even our ministries to see things from a different point of view… the right perpective…God’s perspective!  While we are embroiled in the hum drum, the day to day tasks and so-called normal life activities, we kind of get wrapped up in all that and very often fail to see the big picture, the view of what is really important.

Worship leading is important, to a degree, but how do you measure that?  How can you know what is and isn’t important, and how each one relates to the other.  Sure, I want to be successful in my businesses, family and ministry, but at what cost?

I believe that 3 things, and only 3 things are eternal… God, His Word and the souls of men and women.

Failure to invest in these 3 areas amounts to putting time and effort into things that, in the long run, are not that important.

Is Money Important?

Of course money plays a role, but is it important? I would argue yes, and no.  Yes because with money you can care for and positively impact the lives of people around you, and their lives are really what is important, right?

No, because all the money in the world does not guarantee happiness, but at least you can be miserable in comfort!

Are People Important?

Yes, the people in your life are important. They are one of the three eternal things, so we need to make sure that we are prioritizing them correctly, not walking all over them to achieve a goal that ultimately doesn’t really matter that much.

Am I being harsh? Probably, but I see this happening all the time, where things are said to band members, family members or others and they are hurt or mistreated so we can achieve an arbitrary goal.

Investing in people, especially those close to you, is a long term and powerful investment.  Loving them, caring for them, being there for them, it’s all important in life, and if you want them to love you, try loving them unconditionally first!

People must never become collateral damage for your goals, wants or dreams… NEVER!

So, God’s perspective is the right perspective, and He wants us investing into those 3 areas… Him, His Word and the souls of men and women.

If you are obsessive like me (true confessions), then you are likely to become obsessed with whatever you do, including ministry.  That’s good for your ministry, but can become a disaster for those around you, especially those close to you like your family.

Knowing how bad I am at this, I insist on taking a day off with my wife every week.  Like most of you, I am involved in church ministry so Sunday is never a day off, and therefore my wife and I chose Fridays to spend together.  My business has never suffered as a result, and neither has my ministry, because I put the things that really matter first!

I also choose to spend the very first part of my day praying, meditating and reading the Word of God.  If you are a worship leader, I would hope that you make it a priority to do the same, because I cannot believe that you can function at your peak in ministry while neglecting the Word of God.  That may not be your thing, and that’s fine, but it is really my thing, and it sets my day up to be more productive.  It focuses my on what is really important, and for an obsessive workaholic like me, it is essential.

So if it is not really your thing… MAKE IT YOUR THING!

As I think back to my friend, who was so down and so low that he took his own life, I once again make the promise… to myself, my family, my God and those around me… to keep the main thing the main thing!

What’s really important in life? Life is, and the things that are eternal, including people. Don’t waste your time investing heavily in something that doesn’t matter.  Business, money, success… they are tools that should serve the things that do matter in life!

Here’s a closing thought about what is important

Only 3 things last forever… God, His Word and the souls of men and women.

Investing heavily in anything that is not these things is foolishness.  In the end, these are the things which will remain for eternity, and everything else is going to burn.

You don’t want a fire sale… You want to keep the right perspective, your heart close to Jesus and your life on fire for Him.  Put more effort into God, His Word and those you love, and watch Him multiply this in every area of your life, and see Him explode your praise and worship ministry as only His Spirit can!

 

Remembering my Dad

remembering my dadHi guys, there was no podcast last week because my dad passed away on Monday.  Pretty tough week, but we are looking to the Lord in this difficult time and honouring Him, just as Dad would have honoured him!  This little post is about remembering my dad, and if you want to share a little with our joy, and grief, please read on…

For those who are interested, I used one of the songs off my new album to put together a special tribute to his life.  The song is “Psalm 23”, and traditional hymn and I am singing it with my daughter Tara.  My dad loved Jesus from the age of 12, and is now home with Him in glory.  There’s only those of us left here who need to struggle on with this, and we have grace to journey on without our patriarch.

I nursed him for 4 days and nights with my mum and 2 sisters, and it was the hardest experience and worst week of my life… but I would not have missed it for anything!  Many have now told me that I am the patriarch of my family now.  What an honour, and I pray that my life will be worthy to continue the great leadership my dad provided.  You won’t know who he is, but if you watch the clip you will understand the caliber of the man and the depth of his love for he Lord

Love you dad, miss you Dad, but you are where you should be, and we will keep on serving the one who wipes away every tear!  Here’s the video clip, and there will be another podcast this week

 

 

Refining Our Heart

Refining firePsalm 66:9
He has preserved our lives, and kept our feet from slipping.

No one really likes being tested, but it is an essential part of living for Jesus and growing in His image.  Refining is a fact of life!

The thing is, love says, “God, I love you and will do anything You ask,” but obedience says, “God, let me prove it to You!”

That’s what the test is all about as we grow.  He brings trials and burdens our way, amply supported by His eternal and unfailing love, and it is this same love that uses painful, difficult and testing situations to purify our character, and deepen our trust in Him.

When gold is refined, it is placed in a furnace and fire refines it.  When silver is refined, pressure is the key ingredient.  And the testing of our faith involves both fire and pressure, but so many Christians turn on God when they face trials rather than thanking Him for the incredible refinement we see in our lives as a result.

Today, you may face the fires of attack, persecution or pain.  You may face the pressure of worries, disappointments or fears.  But as you do, remember that the Lord allows these things to come against our lives so that we may be refined, and once metal is refined it is more beautiful, and more useful.

Obedience melts away pride and arrogance.  Obedience crushes our selfishness and fears.  The end result is a pure and peaceful heart that is set on God, serving Him with gladness and totally devoted to Jesus.

If fire and pressure has to come against our lives to raise us to greater, deeper and more holy service in our ministries, then it is a small price to pay.  Whatever you face today, bring on obedience and bring on fire and pressure, and trust God to use it all for His glory in your life!

Photo by Max0rz

living photo

What do You Live For?

Philippians 1:21

For me to live is Christ and to die is gain

What do you live for?  I mean, what is it that drives you in your life?  Many people live for their families, some for their jobs.  Many live for technology and science, or philosophy, and some just live for that next high on drugs or alcohol.

But we are different, worship leaders!  We must not give ourselves to technology, philosophy or addictions, for we have a higher calling.  Even our jobs or families fade away next the incredible privilege of serving Jesus.

What we are prepared to die for, we must also be prepared to live for everyday.  When we worship God, truly worship Him deeply either on stage or alone with Him, we are opening a window to the future when we shall be worshiping Him for ever and ever.  All the pains and troubles of this world will fade away as we worship.  All the knowledge and wisdom of this world shall dry up and be blown away by the power of His majesty and splendour!

So what do you live for?  In eternity to come, will it be of value or will it fade away to nothing?  What are you building into your life, is it wood, hay and stubble or gold, silver and costly stones?  Whom do you really worship with your life and your talents?

As you worship God today, think about what you really live for, and make sure it is eternal.  Eternity will be spend doing exactly what you have the privilege of doing right now, only on steroids!  It will be just like the best worship time you have ever had, only bigger, brighter and better,

Worship is a window through which you can discover what you are living for.

Photo by Uptown Saint John

lifted up photoPsalm 145:14

The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.

Everybody gets downhearted at some time.  With all the pressures of modern life, even in the church, it’s hard to not have at least some feelings of being overwhelmed or burdened.

This beautiful verse talks about the Lord ministering to two types of people… those who fall, and those who are bowed down.  Which one are you?

There are many people who are bowed low beneath the burden of expectation, the pressures of life or tensions of a relationship.  It’s as if a huge weight has been placed on our back, and it slowly crushes us as we struggle along.  It slows us, weighs us down and depresses us and, though we may not have yet collapsed under it, we are probably not far away from doing so.  Perhaps this describes you today.

In Matthew 11:28-29, Jesus tells us to come to Him if we are burdened and He will give us rest.  Rest, relief and hope, not because He transports us out of our situation, but because He lifts us up… in other words, He shares and indeed takes the bulk of the burden we once carried alone.

Or maybe you have already collapsed to a degree, doubting your faith and getting depressed with everyone and everything!  He promises to uphold you as well.  We often think that God will be angry at us for failing, but when we repent and turn to trust in Him, He is far from angry, He’s kind, compassionate and excited that we are turning to Him!

So if you need a lift, don’t turn to a movie, a night out or a stiff drink!  Turn to the One who loves you and longs to share your burden, because He promises to uphold you if you fall, and lift you up if you are bowed down!

Photo by 4nitsirk

Arthur Stace and EternityEcclesiastes 3:11

 God has set eternity in the hearts of men…

This passage says that God has placed eternity in the hearts of men, and this is certainly true in our modern age.  With all our technology, with advances in health, communication and the collapse of marriage relationships, with wars and rumours of wars, terrorism and financial crises, somewhere hidden deep in the hearts of most people are thoughts about eternity.

Arthur Stace was a simple, humble man who had been an alcoholic most of his life.  He came the Christ and wondered what he could possibly do to serve the King of Kings.  He had little talent, no great achievements, was illiterate and not much going for him.  But he had a piece of chalk, and so he started writing the word “Eternity” in flowing, copperplate script on the sidewalks of Sydney in Australia.  No one knew who this mysterious “Mr Eternity” was.

He was nearly arrested 24 times for defacing Council property, but he said he was obeying a higher source, and kept writing this single word an estimated 500,000 times across a 35 year period. He died at age 83, not really sure if he had done anything substantial for the Lord he loved.

Yet thousands came to Christ after seeing this word on the pavement.  My own father once saw it, and wondered what it was all about.  This single word stimulated something in the psychology of Sydneysiders and visitors, and led many to seek our churches and give their lives to Christ.  One single word, that God has written in the hearts of men, and the effect was so great that is was written across the Sydney Harbour Bridge in fireworks at the culmination of the millennium New Year celebrations, seen around the world.

One word from God, and a faithful heart!  That’s all the Lord needs.  Are you faithful enough to serve, even without recognition? Are you faithful enough to stay the course across years as you serve your Saviour?  You don’t need to preach a sermon when you lead worship, you need but one word from God and a willing heart!

bridge to prosperityJeremiah 29:11-13
For I know the plans I have for you, ‘declares the LORD,’ plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

If God says he has plans to prosper you and not to harm you, you should be able to trust him. Yet so often we want to take control of our life rather than handing control of it to Him, and when we do this with saying in a sense, “God, I simply can’t trust you.”

As worship leaders many of us would be familiar with this verse, and we recognize that God has a plan to prosperous and give us a hope and a future. It is one thing to quote this first on stage as we lead worship, but it is another thing to live our life in a way that declares its truth.

In ministry, we’ll often very tempted to take matters into our own hands, and make decisions that we hope will further our ministry without ever really praying or consulting God. We look at this verse in isolation and say to ourselves, ”God will prosper me in whatever I choose to do.” However, when you look at the verse in context, this is not what God is saying!

God is explaining that He has a plan to prosper us, and that it’s a wonderful plan that will give us a hope and a future. But in the very next two verses, the Lord instructs us to call upon Him, pray and seek him with all our heart. These calls to action are probably more important than the promises we love to quote when we are leading worship.

I believe that the Lord does have a plan and purpose for your life, a plan to prosper you and not to harm you, a plan to give you a hope and a future. You will discover this plan when you call on Him, pray to Him and seek Him with all your heart because when you seek the Lord like that, your will is conformed to His will and He can truly lead you into a wonderful and prosperous future!

True forgiveness1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Jesus has promised that if we confess our sins we will be forgiven.  The fact that my sins are forgiven is one of the great motivating factors in my worship leading, because I cannot fail to worship every hour of every day the One who has forgiven my sins and purify my heart.

The problem is that, even though most of his sins are forgiven, we often revisit them! The devil is quick to dredge up old sins and parade them about in front of us! We often say, “Forgive and forget,” but the honest truth is that forgiveness is easy, but forgetting is a hard part.

If we continue to revisit old sins our effectiveness as worship leaders will be greatly compromised. Our relationship with the Lord will also be compromised, so whatever we have done in the past, however bad or nasty sins have been, we need to confess them, hand them over to God and trust him to deal with them as we move on into the future he has for us!

I love what Corrie Ten Boom said: “God throws our sins into the sea of His forgetfulness, and He puts up a sign saying, ‘NO FISHING’!”

So if you want to be a more effective worship leader, don’t let the Devil drags us old sins out in front of your eyes time and time again! Confess them, throw them in the sea of the Lord’s forgetfulness, drop your fishing pole and move on to the great destiny for you as you serve Him!

Nehemiah 1:11
How badly do you want itLord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favour in the presence of this man. ‘

How much do you want success in your worship leading? We say we want to be successful as worship leaders, but if we look deep within we will recognize that we are only prepared to go so far to achieve our goals. We might as well pray, “Lord, give me success as long as I don’t have to pay too much for it!”

Nehemiah also prayed for success, but he was prepared to put his money where his mouth wants as far as stepping out in faith. By going before the king it was taking a huge chance, but he was soon removed and sent desperate to successful he’s people he was prepared to pay any price!

What about you? Are you prepared to pay any costs to be successful in your chosen ministry? How bad do you want it? Are you prepared to train, are you prepared to practice, are you prepared to devote time and money to achieve the success you seek? If you put the effort into training, serving and learning, and if you step out in faith trusting God to do as He has promised, then he will crown your efforts with success.

I want a new Lamborghini. I can just see myself cruising down the road in this exquisite vehicle. And it is not beyond my reach! If I’m prepared to sell my home, my car, my business and possibly my children, I can have a new Lamborghini. The thing is, as nice as that would be, I just don’t want to that badly. It just doesn’t mean that much to me.

So if you truly want success as a worship leader, put time and effort into training and into your personal relationship with the Lord, and trust him to crown your efforts with success!

feeling downcastPsalm 42:11
Why, my soul, are you downcast?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.

Feeling downcast at some time is a fact of life.  Nobody can be on top, feeling great and full of joy 100% of the time.  Everyone faces times of pain, despair and doubt, and these can make you feel downcast, and disturbed or disquieted.

If you are feeling downcast right now, there are a few things you need to recognize.

Firstly, it is a feeling.  You are FEELING downcast, and you cannot rely on how you feel, because this changes from day to day.  You might FEEL great if your football team wins, or FEEL sad if they lose.  You might FEEL great after a wonderful worship time, or FEEL bad if it is a bit of a flop.  Learn to separate fact from feeling, and it you feel downcast, know that your God loves you and will never cast you away!

Second, read the verse again, because when you look beyond the downcast bit, the answer to your situation is right here in the verse!  Put your hope in the Lord, and praise Him.  So if you are down, praise is the antidote to the problem.  As a worship leader, you of all people should recognize the power of praise and worship in a situation where you are feeling downcast.

So start singing!  In the car on your way to work, in the shower, wherever you are, praise is the antidote to feeling downcast, and as you begin to sing the praises of the One who loves you and gave His life for you, you will begin to turn the day around and see things differently.  Don’t be a slave to your feelings, be the worshipper you were called to be, and be that person all day long!

Worship is not something reserved for the stage, it needs to be a part of your life every moment of every day, regardless of how you feel!  Start praising and hoping in the Lord who loves you, and you will have no room for feeling downcast!