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?

Time to Prepare for Worship…Observing Communion

This week’s worship at ClearView will be defined by the addition of the Lord’s Supper as a part of the service.’ It is always a special time when we observe this ordinance in our worship service.  It is a great reminder of the great sacrifice that Christ made for us.

In some traditions this ordinance is observed each week. We don’t, instead planning special Sundays for this event. Observing communion less frequently is intentional so that this ordinance can be given importance and sufficient time. In our planning of a ‘Communion Sunday’ we give less time for other elements of the service.

When the word ‘communion’ is searched in a Thesaurus the words ‘unity’ and ‘relationship’ are displayed.  We have a ‘relationship’ with God and ‘unity’ with His Son and fellow believers only because of the great sacrifice made on the cross of Christ…and that is why we celebrate communion.

Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy way will be guilty of sin against the body and blood of the Lord. So a man should examine himself; in this way he should eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
 I Corinthians 11:27-28


These scriptures immediately follow the instruction on how to observe ‘The Lord’s Supper.’ Here we find scriptures that challenge us to examine ourselves before we take of the bread and the wine. This is what is going to be on my mind until the worship services on Sunday…time to examine my relationship with God…time to make sure that I have communicated with God about everything and asked forgiveness so that I can truly worship….time to prepare for worship.