One Voice

Download the song for free on NOISETRADE.

Some time ago my friend, Josh, and I were working with Crossroads Missions in New Orleans. We started talking about song writing and he told me about a chorus he had written that he used during a chapel time with the mission groups that were coming in [which is most of the chorus that is currently in the song].  I loved the focus on unity – especially in the context of the hundreds of churches, mission groups, and denominations working together during the rebuilding phase in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.  My intention was to wrap some verses around the chorus and call it finished but it got shelved.  A couple years later I heard a teaching from another friend of mine about the words “hallelujah,” and “amen.” In summary, he stated that these two words were powerful because, in every language they were found across the globe, they meant the same thing: to praise God and to agree together.   I decided to do some of my own research about it and found this:

  • Hallelujah: Halal means to be clamorously foolish in praise and it combined with the name of God -Yahweh.
  • Amen: To agree, in unison, that something is truth.

This idea seemed to work well with the flow of the chorus that Josh wrote so I began to rework the song to incorporate a response with Hallelujah and Amen in the bridge and ending.  I wanted the song to be accessible lyrically and musically catchy so that it would be easy for people to sing in a short amount of time.  I began working out some lyrics for the verses that would help to explain the context of the response and serve as a connector for the chorus and bridge.  The final result became a congregational worship song that proclaims unity among believers and ends with a built-in response for any culture or language that might sing it!

Recently, a friend of mine suffered the loss of his mother.  He mentioned to me, as an encouragement, that the words “hallelujah” and “amen” are even being sung i
n heaven [Rev 19].  He was moved by the thought of his mother singing this song alongside him as we sang it in the services the week following her memorial.

It is exciting and humbling to see our new church community embrace these songs and to watch God use these them to minister to people in celebration and even in pain. I am thankful that God would use ordinary people like Josh and myself to write new songs and to inspire others to find refuge in His name.

Advertisements

Lord, Have Mercy.

One of the earliest prayers of the Christian faith is the “Jesus Prayer” commonly recited by the Desert Fathers:  “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”  It’s repeated commonly to remind us of the mercy we are constantly in need of as we live our day to day lives.  It is a prayer that I have been contemplating for a while and have found great power in as I have brought it to mind throughout my day. Lamentations 3 reminds us:

19 Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
    the wormwood and the gall!
20 My soul continually remembers it
    and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind,
    and therefore I have hope:

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”

While researching it I came across this quick article by Fr. Richard Rohr and thought it was worth reposting.  Also, the song “Lord Have Mercy” by Brady Toops at the end has aided me in singing this prayer and keeping it my mind.  Enjoy them both and may God’s mercy be in and throughout your life every single moment of every day.

Why We Need To Say ‘Lord, Have Mercy!’

By Richard Rohr (Originally posted on Huff Post Religion Here on July 28, 2015)

Is it any accident that the official liturgy begins with Kyrie, Eleison? It is the most common Christian short prayer, which is some form of “Have mercy on me!” In time, I have come to see how important this prayer is. It is at the heart of the classic Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner,” which the Eastern monks recited nonstop whenever possible.

This is not a self-demeaning prayer, nor a self-defeating prayer, nor is it a disempowering prayer. Relying upon mercy, in fact, protects you from the arrogance and pride that wants to judge others, even in your mind. It situates you in freedom from any sense of your own sufficiency or superiority, and affirms a non-need to justify yourself, and thus keeps your heart open for others and for God. It is basically a prayer for detachment from the self, both mind and heart, and its endless games of self-validation. “Lord, have mercy” seeks validation only from God and not from any inner or outer attempts to be worthy, independently “good,” or not-in-need-of-mercy.

Note that when you do not stand under the mercy, your mind almost certainly does one or all of three things: plays the victim, accuses others, or falsely exalts itself. When you honestly ask for mercy, you make all three of these responses unnecessary and, in a way, impossible.

“Lord, have mercy” makes your identity a totally received one (Just like the persons of the Trinity), a gift of grace, and nothing that you need to protect or can claim as your own.

#PrayForSochi

olympicflag_color

The question has been asked of me…why #PrayForSochi?  There’s a lot of pressure to host the Olympics well and I believe Russia has the heart and ability to do it!

As the Winter Olympics begin, God has brought my attention to pray for the competitors, the Russian Government, and the host city of Sochi.  It is an incredible rhythm that the world has engaged in where we come together to celebrate our nations in healthy competition in worldwide unity and on peaceful terms!  The implications of such an event have tremendous impact on the world.  While some may try to use this assembly for negative purposes, I believe this sort of gathering has huge potential for Kingdom movement that would be birthed within the time/place of the Olympics and go home with the competitors as they return to their respective countries.  I am inviting you to pray along with me over the next couple of weeks.  You can follow my twitter [@erikthien] for the play-by-play action while I be continually tweet prayers under the hashtag for the Olympics:

#PrayForSochi  

I found a helpful Prayer Calendar online that will help guide some of the themes from Engage Sochi.

Sochi-Prayer-Calendar-800x572

Is Your Message PROPHETIC?

Prophetic Banner

Timeliness.

In the last couple of weeks I heard three notable quotes about messages, in sermons or worship, being “prophetic.”  Two were from similar backgrounds but one came from a completely different tribe in the evangelical world.  From the more conservative side, Pastor Crawford Lorritts spoke at The Resurgence Conference and, during the Q & A section, he said this:

“Preaching is always prophetic…New Testament preaching is more prophecy to me in the sense of forth-telling…It is a declaration of truth for that moment in history, there is a timeliness about it. Wheras teaching is sort of like the unfolding. There is an urgency associated with biblical preaching and that puts it on the prophetic side.” [He went on to distinguish between this idea of prophecy and the gift of prophecy. I encourage you to see his full interview here so you can see it in full.]

The second quote comes from Beth Croft, a worship leader with Soul Survivor tweeted:

“Prophetic worship… Not necessarily a new song, or even a spontaneous song, simply the right song at the right time.”

The third was from an interview with Brian Johnson [of Bethel Worship] about “prophetic” worship:

“Well, I think anything that has the breath of the Spirit on it.  It could be a rehearsed song or an already written song in the right moment.  A lot of times I think we can get it wrong with thinking that it’s just a spontaneous song and that’s not true…It could be Here I Am To Worship in the right setting…the right timing.”

I wouldn’t try to summarize the “Prophetic” as simply being the right moment but the common factor that I am pointing out here is the timeliness of a given message either by song or by preaching.  I have a strong view of God’s sovereignty and one could argue that any message is always prophetic and I would agree in one sense but there have been moments when a message I’d heard just hit me with a certain…supernatural timeliness.

A Weird Message From God.

A few years ago my wife and I were at a christian concert in New Orleans. We didn’t realize it at the time but concert was for a Catholic youth rally and they just happen to open it up to the public for the concert. During this event an elderly lady sitting a few chairs away from us tapped my wife on the shoulder and said something along the lines of “God wants you know that you are forgiven.”  At the time she mentioned it there was no pressing need for her to hear this so we both kind of dismissed it and thought it was a nice gesture from a weird elderly lady.

Months later we encountered some trials that felt a lot like punishment.  Theologically, I knew God wasn’t punishing us but the message from the little old lady kept coming to mind and became a very real message from God in the face of this particular trial.

Application In My Ministry.

Last weekend I led worship at our worship services.  I had chosen the worship set and was singing through it and listening to God for any adjustments.  The chorus and bridge from Give Us Clean Hands kept coming to mind and I thought it might be added just in case the moment called for it. Soon after the pastor asked me if I could add in a song that he would be mentioning in the sermon.  It worked well and I figured it made more sense than my “inkling” so changed the set and added the one he mentioned.  One service went by and things seemed in line as far as song choices go but the second service there was a line in the sermon that led me back to the Give Us Clean Hands so I sang it even though I had not added the lyrics into the powerpoint.  The combination of both songs really seemed to strike a chord in that service.  I even had a woman come up to me crying and telling me specifically that BOTH of those songs were exactly what she needed in that moment.

In the third service however, I added the lyrics to the powerpoint and led the song just as I did before and, oddly, it didn’t seem to have the same effect as far as I could tell.  I am sure it was beneficial for some while others felt the set went too long in both cases. It’s possible I tried to bridge over one timely moment into an untimely one!  Thankfully there is enough grace in our congregation and leadership to allow for me to make such decision.

Put Up Your Antennae.

Even though I felt a bit of a timing roller coaster in that example, I believe there is merit to putting up your spiritual antennae and listening for a timely [maybe even prophetic] message from God and having the boldness to do what you believe you are being asked to do.

The ONE

Alone in a Crowd

Have you ever noticed how often Jesus seemed to notice one person in a crowd?  He had a special knack for seeing and addressing “The One” amidst the many!  While churches in America today tend to look for the person with the most leadership potential, the one Jesus decides to address usually wasn’t the most important person around.  In fact, they were usually the outcasts!

While walking through a mass of people Jesus calls out a tax collector named Zachias from the tree and tells Him that He will be dining with him in his home.  Jesus promised an outsider going to draw from the well at a time when she could avoid others that He knows her sins but offers her water that will cause here to never thirst again!  He shelters a condemned adulteress with the words, “let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her,” only to send her out by telling her to “sin no longer.”  Finding THE ONE was very important to the ministry of Jesus.

In Luke 8, as Jesus’ boat arrives at the Gerasene shore, He is greeted by a madman.  This man was severely oppressed by demons, completely naked, he had broken out of his shackles, and he was living in tombs among the dead.  Jesus could have stayed in the boat.  He could have asked that the boat be docked down shore- away from the crazed man.  Instead of avoiding him to find a more civilized, suitable crowd Jesus asked “what is your name?”  His reply is “Legion” for he had many demons in him and Jesus set the man free by commanding the demons to go into a heard of swine nearby.  Word spread fast about the man.  He asked Jesus for permission to travel with Him but Jesus turns him away saying, “Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you.” He sent the man back as an ambassador to proclaim the good news of God!!

If you know God, at some point, you were His ONE.  Jesus noticed you in the crowd and called you out as an individual.  He loved you enough to chase after you and bring you to Him.  Stop now and think of a moment when God actively sought after you through an odd coincidence, some life interrupting news, a persons kind word, a challenging sermon, or an encouraging verse.

Like the Gerasene Demoniac, He didn’t chase after you so that you could remain dormant.  He called you out for a purpose.  Who is your ONE?  Who is it that God has placed in your path to notice in the crowd?  Who around you needs to be noticed in the crowd at your work place, your coffee shop, your grocery store.  You have the ability, RIGHT NOW, to notice the ONE!  It’s time to raise the spiritual antennae of awareness to view anyone and any situation that sticks out, seems odd, or appears out-of-the-ordinary, as opportunities to notice THE ONE.

My prayer is that we will walk around this earth, interacting with people, and constantly asking to ourselves “is this THE ONE?” It may be that, through you, they might know that Jesus notices them and that He is chasing after them!