You Are With Me Still

YOU ARE WITH ME STILL By Caleb Clements [of Rock Harbor]

I have been digging this song as of late.  I have never heard of him before but the Worship Central guys put it up as a featured artist and it’s a solid congregation fight song.

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Church Music…right?

I always have this moment when I get the newest DCB album and I think to myself, “this is okay.”  Then a few months later I take a good listen and realize that God is speaking to me through it.  There is always a strange layer of brilliance in his songs for me.  Shadows has been blowing my mind lately.

I have been (re)listening to Jason Morants music.  I used to listen to it and then stopped.  Then I moved to NOLA where everyone knows him personally and I didn’t care to be a part of that.  As I have been picking it up (especially ABANDON) his arrangements are beautiful.  Lyrically, I always find myself thinking, “that’s a strange word/phrase to use in a worship album but it works really well.”

Also check out: Phoenix, Phil Wickham, Paper Route, Gungor…all great music.

DRUMMERS, I thought this was a great article. Tell me what you think.

Inconsistent Talent

Something that I have learned to embrace about myself is the blessing of inconsistent gifts.  God gives us talents, abilities, and gifts that are from His Spirit to use to build up His kingdom and glorify Him.  Some are hands and feet, others are eyes and ears.  All have a part and non are worth more than the others.  1 Cor 12 talks specifically about spiritual gifts:

14Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.16And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

If I were to extend this wisdom to talents and abilities (which I think isn’t too far a stretch) and directly apply it to talents, we see that all the talents, plumbing, public speaking, music, banking, and everything in between are serving are present to build up Gods body.  Specifically with singing, obviously some are better musicians/singers than others and God ordains it so!

The frustration with this is that, while I think I can carry a tune and have an ability to sing, I am constantly reminded by God that there pretty serious limitations to my abilities and that there are people with incredible singing and musical abilities that can FAR out perform my own!  It can be intimidating and even even becomes a source of envy when I see people with talents like this and allow myself compare my gifting to them and I covet their abilities.

There are times when I am confronted by others with songs that they want me to sing which are simply outside of my ability to do.  I can see disappointment on their faces when I tell them I can’t do it.  The truth is that my voice cracks, I forget words pretty consistently, I mess up chords, I lose my voice all the time, I can’t play the guitar parts like David Crowder, or sing in the octave range of Chris-freakin-Tomlin.

There are times though that I not only find contentment in it but I embrace these inconsistencies because they really do force my reliance on God to make up for my lack!  My anxiety of what people think has constantly tempted me to give up music!  God has found a way to not allow me to do that and I find myself on stage thinking, “what the heck am I doing? What makes me think that I can pull this off?!”  I ask God to give me better abilities but the words of Paul ring in my ears like a bullhorn, “…but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

The beauty of it all is that God has allowed me to lead in place I never thought I would find myself and use me – even with my inconsistent talent…even as I (and others) doubted that he could/would.  God truly uses the weak to lead the strong.

Holy Spirit

Over the past few years, God has been working really hard on me and developing my trust in Him.  After I graduated from Southwestern College in Phoenix, I started working at a small church with worship and teaching youth.  The book of John seemed like a really good place to starting teaching from since the ending itself states that the contents of the book were written that people might believe.  I came across a verse that changed my life forever.  It is the reason I am in New Orleans, it is a huge basis for how I make decisions, it gives purpose and drive to my life, and helped me rely on the (almost completely ignored) Holy Spirit.

John 3:8 (read the whole chapter if you get the chance) Says, “the wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

It’s the perfect mixture of the sovereignty and unpredictability that makes up God’s perfect timing.  The jewish people had a word for this: Kyros is the opportune moment or the perfect moment.  Understanding that God operates in this kind of time instead of our plans will set our lives on a into a wild goose chase that will be filled with excitement, risk, and fulfilment.   Our obedience to the Holy Spirit through whispers, circumstances, and that thing the world calls “coincidence,” is where the battle takes place.  Will we act when He says go or will it be too hard, too inconvenient, too dangerous, or perhaps too irresponsible for the world around us that we back out in fear of them?

My background certainly didn’t prepare me for such questions and simply doesn’t put much emphasis on the Holy Spirit for fear of being considered too “charismatic.”  This has never settled right with me especially when we read Acts and notice the power residing in those who are follower the Way and compare it to the lives and movement of Christians today.  Not that we should need it but I certainly want to see God move mountains, heal the sick and lame, and push back evil, and bring revival in our time.

It’s essential for Christians to act in obedience to the Holy Spirit for us to partake in the blessing of walking in His purposes.  I believe God will do what He wants but, as Christians, shouldn’t we desire to walk in obedience to Him?

A couple of books that address this idea are Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson and Forgotten God by Francis Chan.  I haven’t read the Batterson book but I hear great things about it. I am in the middle of Chan’s newest release but I have listened to the podcasts that lead to the writing of this book and I believe it is prophetic to the American culture.

May God bring strong conviction to His people, allow us to hear the whispers of the Holy Spirit, and give us courage to go through with whatever he asks of us.  Our lives would never the be same.

Music Set: CRU Retreat

I love hanging out with these guys because we have gotten to know some of them over the coarse of the last couple years and God has given us some favor in their eyes.  Teaching in the context of relationship is very powerful.  We haven’t demanded any kind of authority from them but God has worked it out that the students are comfortable with us and we have great conversations throughout the weekend.  We learn from them as iron sharpens iron and it deepens our care for them.  There were overt victories and celebrations (Chelsea’s baptism, conversations on the side, etc) but I feel as though there was much more that went on behind the scenes and in the hearts of those who attended than we really understand.

There were 4 sets for the main sessions at the Campus Crusade for Christ Retreat.  I am not going to put them all up but the songs that I introduced or seemed to catch well among the students:

  • Glory to God, Forever – Steve Fee
  • One Voice – Josh Veilon, Erik Thien
  • Everlasting God – Brenton Brown
  • Canons (intro’d but didn’t really catch on) – Phil Wickham

J.B. Watkins of St. Roch in New Orleans was the main speaker and he did a great job.  The overall theme was faith and how that applies to us in various contexts: in the uncertainty of life, in community, when it’s on Sunday mornings only, in Christ.

The breakout sessions seemed to be a highlight.  Smaller context is sometimes the best place to speak directly into the lives of people.  I heard a lot of great things about the breakouts and how God moved in them.

Worship Set: The Gathering

Message: Rosh Hashana

Theme in Worship: Repentance

  • Forever (Give Thanks) – Tomlin
  • One Voice – Josh Veilon, me
  • Came to My Rescue – Hillsong
  • MESSAGE
  • Come Thou Fount – Hymn (Public)
  • Come Let Us Return – Redman

Overall, it was a decent set when it came to the theme of what we were talking about.  I may have used too many new songs though.  Came to My Rescue and Come Let Us Return were new to this congregation and I just intro’d One Voice last week!  I just kind of went for it but you could tell they weren’t as engaged this week.

In the spirit of Rosh Hashanna Matt Challenged us to a 10+ day time of self evaluation where we are to consider and reflect on 4 things: Repentance, Confession, Prayer, and Fasting.  I think those that participate will feel a sense of drawing near to God which I believe God is asking of us right now.