Worship, the Sunday After Easter.

We are just one day away from worship the Sunday after Easter. It is one of the days where it seems worship attendance hits a low for the year.  The reality is, it is not one of the lowest attended days of the year; however it seems that way compared to the full houses of worship on Easter. Last week our houses of worship were filled with regular attendees, members and the CEM crowd (Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day Crowd.)

This Sunday as services begin we might be asking ourselves, where are the crowds that sang so beautifully? Where are the visitors that swelled the attendance leaving no empty seats? Were we not friendly enough and they stayed away? Should we have constructed the service differently: different sermon, different songs so that more would have been inspired to return this week?

I am glad that we all came together on that  one day and I pray that what we as worship leaders presented was something that challenged the CEMs to come back and members/attendees to be more faithful.  But for me every Sunday has excitement as Easter, because what we celebrated last Sunday is a reality everyday.  Why do we put so much work into the Easter services when the power of the resurrected Christ is real every day?  What about the other 51 weeks of the year? 

The challenge for me as a worship leader and one who leads the worship planning team at my place of ministry is to reflect the glory of the power of Christ each Sunday. The challenge is to never allow Sunday after Sunday to become routine. My relationship with God is new every morning. The power of the cross is available everyday. God’s desire to be in communication with me is a daily promise.

Sunday is just a day away and honestly I am ready now. I am looking forward to being back in the place we have set aside for corporate worship. I am looking forward to talking to God and listening to Him in worship.

Wherever you are I hope tomorrow will be a day you set aside to spend time in a house of worship. The resurrected Christ is alive and sitting on the throne near God Almighty and they deserve our worship.

For the ClearView teams:

The opening songs tomorrow at ClearView will a remind us of the awesome greatest of a big God, and then move to a reminder of what God did for us through His Son. Then as we move toward the sermon time the songs will encourage us to lean on a God who never lets go.  The sermon this week continues in our study of 1 John. Mark, sent out this update about the sermon earlier in the week: “I could not be more FIRED UP about what God just taught me in 1 John 2:7-14. I can't wait for Sunday.”

I am looking forward to tomorrow and I am praying that we come ready to worship in spirit and in truth. Will you pray with me?

Worship Choirs, Past and Future

 

This week while attending a worship leaders conference in California I had an interesting discussion with Stan Endicott about the future of choirs in worship services. Stan directs the choirs at Saddleback Church and Mariners Church in Orange County, California.  The essence of the discussion was choirs are not dead and any church can have one if the leadership understands and supports this ministry.

Stan related the story of events that just took place at Willow Creek Church.  Through some self-searching Willow Creek has decided that it is time for their church to become a singing church so they asked Stan to come up and do a rehearsal for the congregation teaching them to sing with enthusiasm.  While he was there he also led them through starting a choir that will help lead worship.

Worship leading choirs are a part of my tradition. I am this tradition embraced and continues to embrace the ministry of the choir.  Every ministry must evolved some over the generations however; there is something great about a group of dedicated people standing on stage in the worship center encouraging others to encounter God.

Followers of Christ for as long as we can

For the last nine years I have been on this health-kick thing.  Really it has become a lifestyle, which includes a fitness routine. I really believe that God has given us an amazing vessel in which to live and it is our responsibility to take care of it. 

In the Old Testament you can find many scriptures dealing with food.  God laid out specific guidelines…what to eat, what not to eat.
I don’t think that living by those guidelines is mandatory today; Christ redeemed us from the law. I don’t think I could follow those guidelines; how would I include peanut butter and chocolate into my diet.

As a nation we have so many food choices and quite frankly many of them are bad, no nutritional value and many things we decide taste good harm this amazing thing…our body…that God created.  What we eat is a personal decision, however, we are smart people and therefore we should make smart decisions that don’t harm us.

What if we were to all think about this every time we eat?

At this meal I am eating for three:

            Me…so that I can have the right nutrients to power my body.

            My Family…so that I can be around for them, support them and that the decisions I make will not shorten my time with them.

            God…so that I can be what He has called me to be for as long as He wants, and that decisions that I make will not
shorten that time.

God has given us many amazing gifts, the most important a relationship with Him through the sacrifice of His Son.  Now we have the great privilege of living our lives for Him, being followers of Christ, and I believe it is our responsibility to live as long as we can; making wise decisions that support that goal.

Worship – Surrender to the Power of the Cross

This
weekend we are reminded more than any other of the sacrifice Christ made on our
behalf.  Worship services this weekend
are centered on the sacrifice that Christ made and the power He displayed by
conquering the grave. The sacrifice on the cross was complete surrender to the
will of the Father, which when done, gave the Father permission to show His
power. He took the sacrificed life and raised a new life filled with power.

 

When we
come face to face with the cross and the reality of the act of sacrifice we are
faced with the decision to surrender, die upon it or ignore it.

 

A.W. Tozer
wrote this as a reflection on the cross in the book The Root of Righteousness:

 

The cross affects its
ends by destroying one established pattern, the victim’s, and creating another pattern,
its own. Thus it always has its way. It wins by defeating its opponent and
imposing its will upon him.

 

With perfect knowledge
of all this Christ said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself,
and take up his cross, and follow me.” So the cross not only brings Christ’s
life to an end, it ends also the first life, the old life, of every one of His
true followers.

 

We must do something
about the cross…flee it or die upon it. 
If we are wise we will do what Jesus did: endure the cross and despise
its shame for the joy that is set before us. To do this is to submit the whole
pattern of our lives to be destroyed and built again in the power of an endless
life.  The cross will cut into our lives
where it hurts worst, sparing neither us nor our carefully cultivated
reputations. It will defeat us and bring our selfish lives to an end.  Only then can we rise in fullness of life to
establish a pattern of living wholly new and free and full of good works.

 

There is power in the cross to
make changes in our lives.

Now the question is: am I
willing to surrender totally?

If we are willing that is
true worship.

Setting a Fitness Plan for the Week

What is
your fitness plan for this week? I have an intentional plan to be in the gym or
at home doing some type of cardio exercise at least 5 mornings a week. But
before I get into the week, I set a plan.

It usually
happens on Sunday night. I take a glance at the week ahead and make a plan.
Being physically active and intentional about fitness takes planning. The plan
changes from week-to-week, but I always create a plan.  If I have an early meeting one morning then I
know that has to be my day off. If I have more than one early meeting, then I
have to carve out time one afternoon for fitness.

The older I
get the more I understand how important it is to have a fitness plan…to stay
physically active.  Here are some amazing
facts: 70-80% of aging is optional…70-80% of premature death is lifestyle related.
50% of all illness and injuries in the last 1/3 of our life can be eliminated
by changing your lifestyle…not delayed until you are older, but ELIMINATED. In
other words, what we consider normal aging is not normal.

Creating a
fitness plan and carrying it out is not about just living longer, but the
possibility of living longer with purpose…being a follower of Christ for as
long as you can and being willing to be used by Him for all of those days.

Romans
chapter 12 verse 1 states
:  Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God,
I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to
God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be
transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you may discern what is the
good, pleasing and perfect will of God.

The context
we usually apply to this verse has nothing to do with physical health, but I
believe this scripture also gives us an insight to the fact that God wants us
to have a balanced life which doesn’t follow the convenient or what everyone
else is doing.  He wants us to be the
best we can be in all aspects of our lives.

Today is Tuesday
and I have a fitness plan in place for this week, do you?