Sunday, August 23, 2009

Pure Praise Week 7

With this week 7 reflection I am entering territory that worship wars are fought over - STYLE.

I taught this several weeks ago in church, and I believe this to my core...that worship services should be God-Centered, God-Focused, and God-Exalting. But how does that play out practically?

I appreciate how Moore believes this too, stating, "If God's Word is not concerned about style, why should we be up in arms about it?" He also says, "Style is not the issue with God. He loves all kinds of music - as long as it honors him. What matters is not so much what we sing, but how we sing it."

But come on, at some point a church picks a style of music and goes with it. I do believe at Cherry Hills we do evaluate new music Scripturally and Theologically, before style ever enters into the mix, but style has to be a part of the conversation.

What I would argue is that we don't choose all up-beat cutting edge songs to be introduced, and we don't choose to sing all hymns all the time.

I frequently say, "A good song, is a good song is a good song." Of the thousands of songs written today, only a few are worth singing, just like there are only about 50 out of 900 hymns in the hymnal worth singing.

As I evalute my own thoughts about Sunday services and songs, I'm getting better at being able to worship through all kinds of songs and musical styles, but the bottom line is I still have my preferences - and that plays out in planning worship services. I really do try to serve the people that come on Sundays, and that means providing people opportunities to respond to God in a variety of ways, but I still have my own personal preferences.

I'm still working on this, but I have a lot of room to improve.

I'm hoping my friend Chuck Bosworth writes in and comments on his experiences with his band Chapter 6 as they toured the country and visited different churches each Sunday. It's a story that has impacted me a number of time.

What stood out to you in Week 7, and how does this STYLE issue play out for you in Sunday services?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pure Praise - Week 6 Reflection

This week focused on qualities of leadership, and the day that impacted me the most was day 2 (Recognition is not required). I wonder if many of us in the arts, and serve in front of people struggle with this.

My story can be wrapped up in one visual - a key.

Sara and I served as volunteers at a church before coming to Cherry Hills, and we both held quite a few positions. Not only did we help out with the services, Sunday, and children's activities, but I was the Vice-Moderator of the Leadership Coordination Team. I was 25 years old, and basically the 2nd in charge on the leadership team. You can probably see where this is going, but I had such an attitude of entitlement. I thought all of my ideas were the best ideas, and should be followed. And if people didn't follow my ideas then the other people were just crazy! I didn't like what I was becoming, and looking back, I wish I could do some things over.

When we decided to come to Cherry Hills, I just wanted to be part of a church - not lead anything, just be part of something. I remember getting involved with some ministries at Cherry Hills and being offered a key from the staff (we pass out keys like candy around here), and I turned them down for some time. You see, for me, that key represented the worst about me. It gave me access to the church whenever I wanted it, and it gave me this spirit of entitlement that I was more important than other people. So I turned down a key for some time.

I now have a key to the church, but I always want to remember that it doesn't allow me special priviledges or value. I always need to check myself and remember why I'm doing what I'm doing, and rememeber that "Recognition is not required." I've actually gotten to the point now where I prefer to be behind the scenes working on service planning because it helps me not desire or require the recognition.

In addition, I think for the most part, the Arts Team at Cherry Hills does a good job of this. Churches are notorious for blow-ups in the arts of prima donnas needed recognition and stage time. That's why in our Worship Arts Guidelines we include this paragraph,

"Humility and Grace: We all agree and understand that there are no ‘stars’ on this team. Although there are varying degrees of giftedness and skill and as a result some team members may occasionally carry a larger leadership role, every person on this team is equally important and is committed to playing whatever role they are asked to play. No one is above singing back-up vocals, serving behind the scenes, aiming lights, hauling equipment, plugging in cords, pushing a broom or whatever it takes to help the entire team succeed. And no team is more important than another. We all exist to serve God and to serve one another, and we come together to do what none of us could do alone. Our focus is never on who gets the recognition or the opportunity. Our one desire is simply that the Kingdom of God goes forward, and to that end each of us will humbly serve in whatever capacity will allow us to accomplish that best."

Let's keep being a team that allow God to increase as we decrease.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pure Praise - Week 5

This will be a short post because in Week 5 one thing stood out to me over and over again. Beginning in Day 1 with prayer, then Day 2 with planned spontaneity, and then Day 4 with the power of the Spirit I was reminded again and again how these are God's services.

Yes, we can and should plan and execute to the best of our ability, but these are God's services. I need to pray like crazy, and then humbly expect the Holy Spirit to work in the services, and if He wants to change something then let's change it.

Here's the prayer I wrote on Day 3, "God, I have honestly never considered veering from the plan a good thing, especially in worship services. Help me remember that these services are yours, not mine and you can change your plans any time you want."

In my love of planning, the quote on page 86 nailed me, "To be filled with the Holy Spirit is really more about getting unfilled with ourselves."

What spoke to you this week?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Pure Praise Week 4

Sorry this is a little later than usual, but better late than never.

Man, week 4 spoke to me and addressed one of my biggest weaknesses. Truth be told, I'm just not very good at listening TO God or FOR God. I think a lot of that stems from being a type A personality that likes being in control; coupled with the fact that I love to figure things out on my own.

Yesterday at church, Pastor Lee talked about Rehoboam and how he sought advice from other places instead of going to God first, and I can identify with that. I'll look in books, ask the wise advice of friends, and try to figure things out myself and then realize I haven't even asked what God would want me to do.

I loved The Contents of His Words on Page 65:
1. God's voice is consistent with the Bible.
2. God's voice might conflict with human wisdom.
3. God's voice will likely clash with our fleshly nature.
4. God's voice may challenge our faith.
5. God's voice will often require us to be courageous.

God, help me listen for your voice and act on it when I hear it. I need your help on this because this is not natural for me. I don't just want to talk to you, I want to hear from you.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Pure Praise - Week 3

This was such an important week in this study. The first two weeks were foundational material to begin to understand what praise really is: A RESPONSE to what we value most, and different ways we can praise God.

It is crucial that Moore now turns to talk about the object of our praise - God. Worship is always God-centered.

I'll admit up front that I need to work on a better balance in my life between viewing God with the reverance and awe he deserves, yet at the same time understanding that his is a personal God who longs to have a relationship with us.

In theological terms, God is transcendent (He is above, beyond, outside, all that He has made); and at the same time God is immanent (God exists is His creation, and he is still actively involved in our lives).

My life has been a roller coaster in terms of how I view God. Growing up I probably had more of a fearful/reverant view of God, thinking he was the great punisher in the sky just waiting for me to mess up. I knew very little of a God who wanted a relationship.

Then in my 20's the pendulum swung about as far back as it could, and I considered God as my buddy (as in the movie Darma), or like the t-shirts "Jesus is my homeboy." I lost almost all reverance, awe and fear of a transendent God.

I now have a better balance of the two views of God. I probably still find it easier to see God as personal rather than the all-powerful (from what I read this is very common for people to err on the side of immanence).

However, I'm working on focusing on God's attributes, and reading books (Tozer's "The Pursuit of God", J.I. Packer's "Knowing God") that help me see the whole picture of God.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Pure Praise - Week 2

Hey everyone. Lots of ground to cover this week, so I'll keep it relatively short and give you my two biggest take-aways from the week.

1. Praise is prevalent. What a great reminder that we were created to praise God and glorify him. As Moore said on page 25, "it is every believer's most natural response to God's power and grace."

Think about it, we're all wired to worship right. We go to concerts, ball games, broadway plays, and we stand and cheer, clap, shout, sometimes cry. We're just wired with an innate sense of worship. However, what happens to us is that we trade worship of the Creator for worship of created things. (Don't hear me say going to those things and cheering is bad, we just have to have priorities in place)

I said it last week, and I'll say it again, the best definition of worship is that it is a RESPONSE. Worship is our response to what we value most. That’s why worship is that thing that we all do. It’s what we’re all about on any given day. Because worship is about saying, “This person, this thing, this experience, this whatever is what matters most to me…it’s the thing I put first in my life.”

We were all created to worship, and we all worship something.

And this is why this is so important for us to get right…we become what we worship. Whatever you worship, whatever you put first, you become obsessed with. Whatever you become obsessed with, you imitate. And whatever you imitate you become. In other words, whatever you value most will ultimately determine who you are.

I pray that as a team, we put Jesus first. I pray that he becomes our obsession.

2. I had never heard about Perfect Praise before this week, and I still need to do some more thinking about it, but I truly appreciated his requirements for perfect praise: a worshipful and passionate heart, approach Him as little children, and have total dependence on God.

My confession is that every day I struggle to give God perfect praise, including days when I have to stand on stage and lead other people. I need to work on this, and want to come to a place where I worship him with a full heart, and a dependence, humility, wonder and awe that I see in children's eyes.

I'll finish with a quote from a guy named Bob Kaughlin. I'm reading his book right now, and he makes this statement that blew me away:

"I don't ever want people who see me lead worship publicly to be surprised by the way I live privately. It's not my songs that define my worship; it's my life." Amen.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sunday, July 5

Corporate set for July 5:

Let God Arise
Marvelous Light
I Stand Amazed

Special Song Before Communion: Forgive Me by Rebecca St. James

Closing Sonng After Communion: Jesus Messiah

I thought the instrumentalists played great today. I have to admit though, the room felt pretty dead all morning. I don't know if it was because Sunday was the day after the 4th of July, or the gray rainy weather contributed, but it didn't seem like people showed up to worship? Just my take. I freely admit I could be wrong.