I used to think that if you were a musician with chops you needed to ‘get out there’ and play shows and sell albums and get rich and famous, and if you didn’t you automatically became one of those musos who hadn’t ‘made it’. A narrow point of view really, and what I realise now is that we as musicians are called to worship, and if were doing that with our music we’re winning, we’ve ‘made it’. Some are called to lead worship, some are called to a supportive role. Some worship at home, in their space, with their instrument, and bring God glory in that way. Whatever the case, I believe that if you’re assisting even one person to worship God and and enter into His presence then you’re fulfilling a calling of God on your life.
In the bigger picture, we are called to build the Church*, wherever we are. Don’t just attend a church*, muck in, get in amongst it, help your pastors and leaders. It’s not about growing an organisation or building a brand name, it’s about assisting people, encouraging them in their walk with Jesus, helping them live a better life. It’s not all about you, and the great thing about that is that if everyone has that same attitude then you’re bound to get some help from somebody when you need it. It’s a lot of give, and bit of take, and a lot of reward. A tree’s roots take nutrients and water from the earth, and the tree’s leaves do their thing with photosynthesis, and the healthy tree produces fruit that is for someone else’s use, not just its own. Think sowing and reaping, loving your neighbour as yourself, treating others the way you would like to be treated.
Whatever level your music is at, it’s still all about giving God glory and helping others do the same. The music is awesome and we love it, but it’s not just about the music. The music is a facilitator. For most people, music makes it easier to worship. It can create an atmosphere. It can keep a group of singers (more or less) in tune and together, bringing a greater sense of unity.
If you’re a closet musician, use your music to worship God and let His Spirit strengthen you as you worship so you are fit and healthy to do the work of the kingdom. If you like to play but you’re a bit shy, just have a little worship jam with some of your friends in a small group setting. If you’re a bit more out there, join a worship team. (As a side note to that, it does help if you’re proficient enough your instrument that you’re not going to be a distraction, and in the other direction, a musician who takes every possible opportunity to do a ripping solo can also distract from the reason for the music. Balance, people!!)
If you’ve got a voice, and if you’ve got musicianship, and you’re not using them to bring glory to God, I feel like you’re ripping yourself off, because so much blessing can come out of worshiping God, and so much more blessing can come out of helping others to enter into God’s presence. And in that way true richness and the best kind of fame come into the picture – the richness of God’s love for us, and our witness making God famous.* Note – in my understanding, Church with capital ‘C’ means the body of Christ, and church with a lower case ‘c’ means the local church – ie: the building where we gather to worship.
I’m riding off an awesome message from Ps Anna Giles last weekend in this post. She preached a message called ‘No Guts, No Glory, No Surrender’, speaking of how important it is for us as God’s Army to be committed in serving God and building His kingdom. Commitment is something that we can’t afford to be wishy-washy about. As Ps Anna, you can’t be 85% committed. It doesn’t work like that. Things tend to go better when we go in 100%.
I am so thankful for my parents, who were also my pastors for many years, for training me in the art of commitment from a young age. I’ve seen the benefit of it in my life over and over. It’s something that we need all to be taught, trained in, and encouraged in continually and I hope that what I share with you today will benefit you as much as it has me.
So here are a few things that I would like to encourage you in that I have learned and observed in my time in worship ministry.
There is Value in commitment. I see this in three ways. When you make the commitment to someone you are demonstrating that you see the value in them. I believe that it also makes them even more valuable to you because now you have committed yourself to invest in them. I also believe that it also brings more value to you yourself.
There is Wisdom in commitment. Let’s re-word that: There should be wisdom in commitment. We should be wise about what we commit to and ask ourselves what our motives are and what we’re prioritising. Is God glorified in it? Does it build the Kingdom? How does it affect your family? Ask God to give you wisdom when you’re considering these things.
There is Reward in commitment. God gets the glory but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing in it for you! I usually find that there’s a bit of stretching and growing that goes on when we commit to something. Commitment ain’t always easy, even when it’s something that’s right up your ally, but when you come out the other side you’re stronger, more skilled, and, because it’s what God loves to do, you’ve had more of His blessing poured out on you in just the way you need it.
There is Security in commitment. Security for me is in knowing what’s what. I don’t like it when things are up in the air and I have no idea which way they are going to fall. Commitment brings security for me because I’m setting my path. I know which way I’m going. I know who I’m following. I still might not know what the outcome will be but I listen to God and I trust Him that I’m on the right track. And God always works everything together for the good of those who love Him and who have been called according to His purpose. (Rom 8:28). So that right there is security for me.
Of course there is much more to it but I hope this gets you thinking and gives you that little bit of a kickstart into greater things. Commitment is not always easy but when God’s in it it’s life changing.
I’ve been getting back to basics recently and have been reminded of some concepts that I might have lost sight of a little in the routine of things.
One of the things I’ve been reminded of is the idea of worship being a lifestyle. We use the terms worship and praise a lot, usually when we’re referring to the songs that we’re singing before the preacher comes on in a church service. Praise = fast song. Worship = slow song. It’s convenient to use these definitions when we’re talking about the songs but it’s easy to get used to the terminology and lose sight of what worship really is.
Worship, when it comes down to it, is giving glory to God. True worship then, is not just singing or verbalising our worship. True worship is doing our utmost to ensure that what we do in our lives will bring glory to God. Verbal worship is only a small slice of the layer cake that is true worship.
God is looking for people who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. I don’t think I would qualify for that if I was worshiping God with a song in church and then going home and doing/watching something that wouldn’t bring God glory. (This is making me think, even as I write this, about TV shows, movies, conversations, etc – makes you wonder, doesn’t it! ) I’m not going to present you with a list of things you shouldn’t do; that’s a matter of conscience, and of what God is saying to you. Maybe this is one reason why Paul said in 1 Thess 5:18 ‘In everything give thanks’, because if you can’t give thanks and worship God while you’re doing what you’re doing, perhaps you shouldn’t be doing it?!
It’s our heart that’s at the core of this. The heart is the centre of motivation for our words and our actions. We live in a world full of influences, some are subtle little nudges, and some are thrown in our face. Our heart is so precious and so vital to our well-being that we have to set a careful guard on it. Guard your heart with vigilance, because everything you do flows from it (Prov 4:23).
We can guard our heart by setting up good habits in our lives. Our eyes and our ears are gates to our heart and we need to filter what goes in. Our mind can influence our heart, which is why we need to renew our minds with God’s word. Our own words can influence our heart, so we need to be careful what we say. All this sounds like we might need to lock ourselves away and only listen to the sound of our own voice reading the Bible but that would render us pretty useless in the longrun! We can’t show the people around us how awesome God is if we’re locking ourselves away.
The key is to walk this earth with the awareness of God’s presence in us. We know that He is omnipresent; let’s remind ourselves that He lives in us, and whatever we do, let’s do it for the glory of God! (1 Cor 10:31)
Sometimes, to be totally honest, I find it difficult to get into worship. I feel like I’m hovering on the edge of something great but I can’t seem to get there, whether because of something in my head, or something going on around me.
In a corporate worship setting, like church, there are a whole bunch of thing that are potential distractors. If I’m not in the band, I find myself watching the band, especially if I’m visiting another church or at a conference. Musos, you know what I’m talking about!! Then there are the distractions that are immediately around me, like the guy that smells a bit, and the lady who is singing off-key into my left ear. Once I get past those things, I have to deal with the internal distractions. And then when I’ve brought my thoughts into some semblance of order, my insecurities kick in – do I look silly with my hands raised like this?, am I singing too loudly? etc etc.
That is why I am forever grateful to my Mum, who taught me to raise my hands and worship God from a young age. She would make me close my eyes and lift my hands and sing the songs, and even though at first I didn’t feel like it, I always found that I would begin to get into the worship and enjoy it.
My spirit always wants to worship God. But there are times when my mind disagrees. That’s when I have to let my spirit direct my actions and drag my mind along for the party. I find that eventually my mind will stop fighting and come to the realisation that this is better and more exciting. I come out feeling refreshed, more alive.
So here are Janna’s tips on worshiping when you don’t feel like it:
1. Close your eyes. This works better when you know the lyrics to the songs but don’t worry if you don’t – God doesn’t mind if you get the words a little bit mixed up.
2. Raise your hands. This is optional, but I always find that this stance helps my body get into what we’re doing. To me, raising my hands means that a) I’m surrendered to Him, b) I want to receive from Him, and c) He is of more importance to me than what I might look like to other people.
3. Make a noise and glorify God! I find that singing works best but this, too, is optional, since worship is not dependent on music. However, for most people, music enhances our ability to worship God, which is one of the reasons why we sing and play instruments in our worship services.
And perhaps somewhere in there, there needs to be a step called ‘Get Over Yourself!’ because I’ve found that getting over myself is something I have to do quite regularly. It should really be the first step but I will admit that it often takes me until I’ve floundered my way through the other steps before I get to that important step. God, in His mercy, has given us the means to get over ourselves and all our little problems with each other as well. Rom 15:5 & 6 says that God gives the power of patient endurance! He also supplies encouragement. He does this so that we can live in such harmony and sympathy with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that we can praise and glorify God with united hearts and one voice.
That’s one of the things I love about God – when He gives you something to do, big or small, He supplies us with the means to do it. That means that we can do it not just to the best of our own ability, but in His strength too.
Silence. A subject that’s been on my mind lately. Sometimes it just seems that silence is all you hear when you’re listening for God’s voice. Just when you feel like you need it the most, you can’t get any sense from God of what direction you’re supposed to take. You feel like you need to change something, move somewhere, do anything! But there’s no prompting, and that still, small voice might as well be inaudible. It can be so frustrating. And if you let it get to you, it can get you down.
Judging by some of his Psalms, David had a fair few of those moments – ‘Hear my cry, oh God! Attend unto my prayer!’, aka ‘Hello?!! Is anybody listening?!’ But even from his darkest moments, David always comes back to praising God. He sings of God’s goodness and mercy. He reminds himself of who God is and what He has done. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits! – Ps 103:2
For me, sometimes I feel nothing when I begin to worship. And so it seems useless, almost fake somehow. That’s when I know I need to press forward and keep worshiping. Think about this: the harder you have to push, the greater the breakthrough will be. We’re not called overcomers for nothing! We have to overcome our feelings, or lack thereof, and just worship God. Remember that God loves to hear the praises of His people and that He won’t turn away a genuine heart of worship.
As frustrating as it can be to feel like God is not saying anything, know that God is never really silent because His word continues to speak. Here is my favourite scripture for this moment: Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. – Heb 10;23 The Amplified Bible says for He Who promised is reliable (sure) and faithful to His word. Awesome. God is going to do what He said He would do.
In the silence we need to keep trusting God, and the faith that we need to keep walking and keep trusting comes by hearing God’s word - Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. - Rom 10:17. Grab hold of some scriptures and meditate on them. Build your spirit up with the word of God and tell your mind what’s what. When you’re feeling defeated, remind yourself that God has given us the victory (1 Cor 15:57). If you’re feeling alone remind yourself that God is with us (Matt 1:23) and that He will never forsake us (Heb 13:5).
We recently had the honour of hosting Fergus McIntyre at our church. He is a renowned minister and moves strongly in the prophetic and our church was packed and so many people were touched. I was so blessed to be able to interview him. Because of his vast experience as a pastor and as an itinerant minister, I was curious to know what he thought every worship team should know, firstly from a travelling minister’s point of view, and then from a pastor’s perspective. It’s a broad question and I was expecting a two part answer, but his response not only covers both sides of the coin, it is the gold that holds the two together.
Here’s what he said:
“The most imperative thing for any worship team is to always move from a place of revelation: I think in every worshippers heart there’s something that Jesus means to them, something that’s very special. And I know that when we can help a worshipper find that place, and go there, it changes their position. We know that people are gifted, and being gifted is one thing, but empowering and imparting is another. Worship, to me, is not just about the worship, but the impartation into the atmosphere, that changes the atmosphere, that allows people to change their hearts. Oftentimes I’ve gone to a church where there’s just good playing, good singing, but there’s no impartation. Impartation’s a major doctrine of the Bible – Hebrews 6 – and so it’s very important that we learn how to impart, and that, to me, is a real exercise, a real skill. Just like you learn keyboards or to play an instrument, it’s a skill in itself to learn how to impart anointing.”
So how do you impart anointing? Well, this is how Fergus explained it. He gathered our worship team before the evening service that weekend and spoke to us about going to ‘that place’. You know the place. It’s your place of revelation. It’s that part of Jesus that touches you the most. Fergus had us all go to that place in our heart, find that revelation, and feel the emotion that is attached to it. He said that when we attach our emotions to our revelation it creates a place of impartation. The spirit travels from you with the feeling of God on it, the energy of it travels through your fingers as a musician, over your tongue as a singer, and creates an atmosphere. Then he told us that when we played that evening, not to concentrate so much on the technicalities if the music or the songs so much as ‘that place’ in our hearts. And that’s what we did. We consciously went to ‘that place’ before we even played a single note, and we held on to it as we played and worshipped. I can tell you that for me, just doing that before I start playing brings a joy that supersedes
Isn’t it awe inspiring to remember that what we do is not just about being good singers and musicians, and playing songs? It’s about creating an atmosphere, and imparting the spirit of worship that is on us. It touches the emotions, tugs at the heart, and draws the spirit into a deeper place of worship. To glorify God is awesome in itself, and to inspire others to join as one and glorify Him together is just incredible.
So guess where I’m going this Sunday? To ‘that place’, and I’ll be bringing with me as many people as I can. Worship, revelation, impartation, all for the glory of God. Oh yeah!
Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the Lord. - Ps 27:14
You’d think that by now we’d be experts at waiting. Even in our microwave-minded society we have to wait for things, and as much as everybody is going for super-efficiency we still have to wait in line at the bank or the supermarket, and we have to wait for the next public holiday, etc, etc.
Isn’t it strange that even after all this practice we’ve had at waiting, most of us haven’t gotten any better at it? Or maybe you have, but I must admit to feelings of impatience, sometimes even anxiety, while I have been waiting for something I’ve been praying about. As I write this I am waiting for the imminent birth of our 2nd child. That’s nine months of waiting, people!! During this nine month period I have gone through various ‘modes’ of waiting – impatiently, joyously, patiently, trepidatious-ly (waiting for a baby is one thing, waiting for labour is another!), and did I mention impatiently?
I obviously need to practice waiting well. Is anyone with me?! What is the use of waiting on the Lord if we can’t wait with a good attitude? Taking it further, wouldn’t waiting with a bad attitude actually be detrimental to us?
So, what are the best attitudes for waiting? Expectantly, worshipfully, patiently… There’s a theme building here. Are you seeing it? Yes. It’s all positive.
Check this out: King David was having such a bad time for a while there that he described himself as being stuck in a pit of miry, stinky, sticky, clay, and yet he waited patiently for the Lord. And guess what? The Lord heard his cry, and lifted him up out of the pit. (Psalm 40)
David wouldn’t have known the exact time that his deliverance was going to arrive, but what he did know was that God would hear him and answer him. That’s a patient and expectant attitude.
There are times in our worship when we just need to wait on God. And the temptation will be to keep checking your watch, or to just think about something else for a while. At those times we need to remind ourselves of just how precious a thing it is to be in God’s presence, being drenched in His anointing, allowing Him to speak to us, and remaining expectant that when we are in His presence He is working in us and amazing things are going to happen. And then we can carry this heart attitude over into the other areas of our lives, where we are being tempted into anxiousness, impatience, or even defeat, while we wait on the Lord to answer our cry, and while we wait for the fulfilment of our dreams.
Our God is faithful to His Word to fulfil it, and He is not slack concerning His promise. (2 Peter 3:9) He loves us and He wants the best for us.
Delight yourself also in the Lord; and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass. - Ps 37:4,5