CMS 2012 Recap

Two weekends ago I had the chance to attend the Christian Musician Summit with 5 others from our team at Redemption. The CMS is an annual event that has been going on for the last 10 years. I’ve gone a couple of times in the past, but a bit of a loss in interest coupled with various circumstantial realities have made it so that I haven’t attended in a few years. But this year’s lineup of featured presenters and musicians intrigued me, and we had a great group interested in going, so we made the investment. There was a lot of great stuff. Here are just a few of my highlights: Continue reading “CMS 2012 Recap”

Please Don’t Just Stop Singing

The following is an edited transcript from a brief encouragement I gave my church during worship a couple months ago.

Here at Redemption Church, we say that “It’s All About Jesus.” We’re unapologetic about that – it’s what we want you to know about us right from the very start. Jesus died on our behalf, and we are His church – the Bible calls us His bride – so it really is all about Him.

Recently I read an article by someone in Christian leadership – in other words, someone who has some measure of influence. The article was a blog post about how this person had actually stopped singing at the church that he attends. He presented a list of reasons why, such as overly simplistic music, poorly written lyrics, and so on. And I have to say that I got his points. I really did understand and could sympathize with the criticisms he was leveling (in fact, several of them were criticisms I myself have voiced about modern church music). But his ultimate conclusion – to simply stop singing – broke my heart. It was tragic to me to read that because I realize all too often that it can become very easy for us to miss the mark when it comes to worship. Very quickly, our tendency can be to start shifting the focus from worship being all about Jesus to it being all about us. We start asking more, “What can I get out of this experience?” or “How does this make me feel?” rather than “What can I give to Jesus?” or “What pleases Him?”

I recognize that at our church there will be times when the music will not be your thing. It won’t be your style. And we own that. And who knows – if today isn’t your day, maybe next week will be! Or perhaps you’re fine with the music but you’re just not “feeling” into worship yet today – you woke up this morning and it’s taking a while for your heart to be in that right place. My encouragmenet to all of us would be, rather than choosing to simply not engage, remember that when we come together to worship we want it to be all about Jesus. That means, and my hope is, that today is not about an audience watching a performance happening on stage, but today our audience is Jesus in heaven. Those of us on stage are kind of acting as prompters, leading the charge in a sense, but we are all performing together for His glory!

So my encouragement to all of us is that you will sing today – and sing loud! Not to impress the person next to you, but because Jesus is worthy – because of what He’s done and what He’s doing in your life.

Maybe singing’s not your thing, or it is somehow hard for you. Well, that’s ok – there are other ways you can worship. Maybe clapping along is your thing. You feel the beat and that’s how you can express yourself. But don’t do it because you’re excited about the music, but because you’re excited about God! That’s our heart and our hope.

Or maybe you don’t clap – maybe you don’t have any rhythm in your body. If that is you then, then please DON’T clap! But you can raise your hands! Psalm 134 says “lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord.” The bottom line is that we simply want to bless God in some way when we come together.

So ultimately worship is not about what we get or receive. And like I said, if the music’s not your vibe or your style – maybe next week it will be, I don’t know. But the point is, let’s all be asking ourselves: today, right now and in this place, how can I engage God, how can I give Him glory and bring Him the praise? That’s what it’s all about.

Jesus – the Only Perfect Worshipper

The following is an article I wrote for our church’s membership newsletter last week. To give credit where it is due, much of this post was inspired by a 2009 article in Worship Leader Magazine by Dr. Robb Redman, professor of worship at Multnomah Biblical Seminary.

There is only one perfect Worshiper. The only true, untainted worship offering is that of Jesus, our High Priest. He alone is the means by which we have access to God’s presence and His mediation is what enables us to approach the throne. Hebrews 10:19-22 says “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

Because Jesus is our mediator, we can sing with confidence knowing that He is already worshiping – on our behalf. Just as we pray to God “in the name of Jesus”, He is going to the Father “in the name of _______ (fill in with your name)!” This is an amazing truth that should transform the way we worship. When we come to worship, we can do so in freedom and honesty, allowing the Holy Spirit to draw us to and connect us with Christ, who then takes our broken, imperfect offering and offers it to the Father as pure and holy. We can be liberated knowing that acceptable worship to God is not dependent upon time, place, style, or personality, but rather the heartfelt offering of a person united with Christ.

I encourage all of us, as we prepare our hearts for worship this Sunday, to joyfully see ourselves as participants in the ongoing worship of God. May we approach worship not as something we “have” to do – and in that worry about how God perceives our offering – but rather as something we “get” to do, because of what Jesus has already done on our behalf.  

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