Music and Worship

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Music and Worship

I can't tell you how many times as a worship leader I've been asked, "can you play this song", "can we do more of this particular style".  Or I have heard "that's not worship" or, "I can't worship to that style"   It's the never ending balance of tension between the new songs and the old songs, between different styles and genres.   It's so easy to point the finger and say " can't you just worship, it's not about you".  I guess that's easy to say since I'm the one picking the songs.  I was praying and thinking about this recently, asking God, how does music fit in all of this worship thing.  The bible doesn't spend a whole lot of time discussing music and worship, and even the majority of the words in the bible dealing worship don't have anything to do with music.  As I was praying about it I got a great picture that gives insight into the arts and worship.  I live in Tucson, Arizona.  I love the view of the mountains, and I love the view of the mountains from the balcony of my house.  So many times this year I've gone out on my balcony, looked out at the mountains, 68 degrees, birds singing, and expressed praise to God.  Thank you God for your creation, You are truly a good God.  I also don't like the heat (I know you're saying, Jeff you live in Tucson).  Well I've heard it said that the summer is our payment for living in Arizona.  It's beautiful about 8 months out of the year, so I try not to complain during those summer months.  Anyways, I can go out on my balcony with the same view, but this time it's 115 degrees with the sun burning my skin like a piece of bacon, the noise of rattlesnakes instead of birds, and my response is ugh, this heat, I'm miserable I can't wait till fall.   Same scene but a totally different response.  

The atmosphere of that beautiful day helps me worship, it stirs my soul and then I respond with praise.  Both days are worthy of God's praise, but one setting propels me to worship, the other is a fight.  This is also a very personal thing, some people in Arizona absolutely love the hot temperatures, they can't wait for summer.  Thank God for seasons.  Music and songs can be a tool that moves the soul and moves us to respond with praise and worship, no different than a movie, beautiful piece or art, or a sunset.  Nothing wrong with this, in fact it's how God made us.  I totally see how an old song from past generations can help someone worship. We are called to worship God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  Music can engage our entire being in worship, music moves our heart, our emotions, our bodies, and our spirit, that's why it's so powerful.  The temple and tabernacle set up in the old testament had a great atmosphere.  Burning incense, baked bread, quiet, and nicely dimmed lighting.  God understands our make up, atmosphere and mood is important.  The problem is when that becomes the only trigger for us to worship. When our worship is tied to a particular song, instrument, or circumstance.  When we begin to worship worship more than the One we worship.  That's a maturity thing.  As we grow in Christ, we must learn to worship God with everything in us no matter what the circumstance, the setting, or the song.  That's when you can go into any service, no matter the style, instrumentation, or even language and worship with all your heart.  In fact some battles can only be won when we worship our way through the junk of life,  then when our favorite song comes, ahh that's just a bonus.  In fact I've got to go, Did You Feel The Mountains Tremble just came on.  

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The Waiting Game

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The Waiting Game

When things don't go like I want, when I seem to be in a waiting place, I immediately turn to God and start asking questions.  What's the deal God, why can't things be easy.  So and so, just went and pulled that off like no big deal.  Of course I've been asking those questions.  I've learned a few things along the way,  here are some thoughts:

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I Want To Know You

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I Want To Know You

1 Corinthians 2:10-16

10But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. 11No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. 12And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.13When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. 14But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. 15Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others. 16For,

“Who can know the lord’s thoughts?
Who knows enough to teach him?”

But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.

You ever have a verse just leap out at you, this one did.  I’m so thankful for the Apostle Paul.  He wrote a huge part of the New Testament and he received it by revelation.  He didn’t hear it from Jesus himself but by the Spirit of God.  No different than today.  

I am constantly amazed that the God of Universe gives us access to Himself.  David says it best. 4what are mere mortals that you should think about them,

human beings that you should care for them? (Psalms 8:4)

Paul says that our spirit’s know what we’re thinking about, what’s on our hearts and minds.  The same with God, His Spirit knows what He’s thinking about, burdened with, delighted with.  

I want to know God’s deep secrets, I want to understand spiritual truths.  I want to know what makes God’s heart beat fast.  Vs. 12 says we have received God’s spirit, so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.  

God has given us free access to Himself, to understand His character, His heart, our future, our direction for the day.  Search it out, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal it to you.  Be specific in your ask.  God what are You thinking about this person, or this opportunity, or help me see what I can’t see.  He will show it to you.  We have the mind of Christ, we can think like Him, talk like Him, love like Him, hear like Him.  His Spirit in us, so search out the deep things today.  

God I want to know You, just like You know me today.    

 

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New Album On The Way

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New Album On The Way

Well it's almost been 6 months here in Tucson.  We're making it through the Arizona summer,   but definitely ready for the fall.  It's been so great these past few months.  I feel like God is allowing us to see very quickly some amazing breakthrough in worship here at Victory.  

I started feeling the stirring again last month to start working towards a new project.  I have about 25 new songs I have to pair down for an album.  So I decided to do two albums.  One album will be an EP of radio type of songs, and the second will be a full worship album.  I'm really excited.  I'm heading into the studio late September with Mark Schick, Ben Campbell, and  some great musicians from Victory to begin tracking.   A new studio here in Tucson just opened up called Saint Cecilia right in the heart of downtown and that's where we'll be tracking.  

It's fun to see how time, your season in life, your surroundings, your friends, and influences all influence your creative expression.  It's been two years since First Love came out and it feels like worlds away.  I think music is just a soundtrack to life, and a documentation of where you are at a particular time.  I can't wait.  

 

 

 

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New Experiences

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New Experiences

I was driving to downtown Dallas the other day, it was cool outside and classical 101 was playing in my car. Instantly I was taken back to a moment years ago as a young adult. A man hired me to help him in North Dallas work on his garage. Every morning for two weeks he would pick me up in his Mercedes with classical music playing on the radio and drive me to his house. We worked in his backyard remodeling his garage. It was a fun few weeks, he not only taught me a little about construction but a different perspective on life.

We all have those triggers in our life. Occasionally I’ll smell something and be back in a bistro in France or on a bridge in Prague. I sure do miss those trips. What about spiritual triggers? I can’t walk into our old prayer room at church and not remember that moment I lay before God for hours, knowing he was healing me. Every time I walk in the CFNI auditorium I’m immediately transported back to that live recording so many years ago with Keith Hulen and Marcos Witt. I’ve never cried that much in my life. Or years later at a delirious concert, and I closed my eyes for eternity while the band played and prophesied on their instruments and I was in another place it seemed.

Those things are awesome but what about new memories? What happened last week?
Just like those awesome moments with your wife, friends, or family, we have to be making new memories with God all the time. He takes us from glory to glory. A few weeks ago during Tuesday night prayer I made a new memory. God was so tangible and speaking to my heart and through me. I’ll never forget the image of hundreds of people laying before God at the altar, crying out to him and the 10 minutes of silence that followed. We don’t seem to do silence before God much any more, no one knows what to do with that. I must admit I am so hungry for more of those moments. Not that I can feel good or know I met with God, but so I can be changed into His image. So I can hear His voice and obey. I wrote a song a while ago called remote control. My point was I can’t even keep up with my remote control at home, how do I expect to run my life without God’s help. We so desperately need His help and direction.

Life is so stinking busy and technology seems to zap any free time we have. A moment in the waiting room for a tire change used to be moments of contemplation, now it’s filled with twitter, facebook, and espn. To hear His voice we have to be listening for it. That requires time and focus. So my thoughts for today are, make more time to hear His voice. Which means new experiences of the love of God, that leads to more revelation, that leads to direction for my life and burdens for others. Which leads to changing the world. Let’s make new memories with our God today.

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