I’m looking around for new music to play for worship, and recalled this gem:
I had the privilege to lead worship for my small group a couple weeks ago. I came in moderately prepared. Prior to this, I haven’t lead any kind of worship for roughly seven years, so I knew I was going to be rusty in both singing and playing as well as just an overall leader. Now, my small group isn’t large (did the word “small” give it away?), but I still felt a bit nervous playing and leading people. I think I messed up at least four or five times, but it didn’t matter too much, I kept moving my focus from me to God, and the night ended in a joyous time of prayer and worship.
When I got home that night, I felt bad about how I performed. I didn’t care so much how I performed in front of my peers. Sure, it may have been a tiny bit embarrassing that it was obvious I didn’t practice as much as I could have, but felt bad how I performed in worship in front of God. When I look at what He’s given me—not things, but raw talent and skill—I felt I didn’t honor Him by not honing my God given abilities.
I’m reminded of the the parable of the three servants.1 The master entrusted his servants with bags of silver. Two of the three servants doubled the master’s fortune, while the last one horded his share of silver and did nothing with it. The last servant was so scared that he might lose what his master gave him and stored it away in a safe place effectively where no one, not even the servant, could ever make use of it. The master became upset at this third servant that he took away the silver and gave it to the first servant (whom it seemed like the master entrusted the most considering the first servant was given 3 more bags of silver over the second servant).
To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.2
In its common context, this parable represents the monetary resources God gives us and our how we ought to be responsible stewards of said resources. When He entrusts us with His resources and we do well with what He’s given us, He is willing to give us more responsibility3 to even more resources.
So how does this relate to my ability to lead in worship? I believe the talents He gifted me with is also a resource that I’m responsible over. Did He bless me to be naturally perfect in these talents? No, but He has blessed me with the desire to be better and hone these skills He’s given me… whether those skills is musically, photographically, or programmatically, I owe it to Him to excel to the best of my own ability before He grants me more responsibility in those areas. I’m not striving for perfection (only He is perfect), I ought to keep striving for excellence so that He may be glorified.
Whatever you do, do well.4
I started out the new year away from home with a few friends from college out in June Lake. I remember the first time I went with a similar group of people way back in 2003. At that point in life, I was experiencing change and I knew God wanted to do something grand, but I was resistant to allow Him to take total control of my life. My remaining time completing my undergrad work was met with a lot of friction—I wanted to control my destiny whereas God wanted me to do greater things.
Because I didn’t want to let go of control, there was a lot of pain in understanding what I were to do next. It wasn’t until five years after graduating is when I realized I had completely let go and hit an all-time low in my life. (It’s definitely wasn’t rock bottom when compared to other people’s life-changing experience, but it was definitely the lowest point in my own life.) That was 2010. It was an extremely hard year for me, but as I mentioned before, it could have ended a lot worst. It was 2010 that I needed to reconcile my relationship with God. I went back to prayer. I rediscovered His Word. I listened for His voice. I devoted my life daily to discover His will for me.
With all that mind, I’m starting 2011 a bit differently. I’m reminded I have friends who care. I discovered despite my current job in the marketplace may not be ideal, I have the ability to share what it means to live as a Christian to over three dozen people. I may not yet be in tuned to God’s voice, but I’m making a daily effort to understand His character in order to discern what it means to act, do, decide, and speak in Christ-likeness.
So far, this year is starting off far better than I could ever imagine. I never thought I could be in a position like this over a year ago considering the pain and lost of direction I experienced. So I thank Him. Both good and suffering will be experienced this year, and whatever hard decisions and experiences I come across, God is always good. God is always faithful. I will always put my trust in Him. His love is all I need.
Below are a few photographs I pulled from my trip up to June Lake during the New Year’s weekend. It was amazing to be in the middle of His creation and (mostly) step away from man’s doing (i.e. technology). Though, at the same time, I did capture these photographs with Nikon’s latest DSLR. 😉
This song is done by the Ekoh worship team at CCV. You can sample their album at the iTunes store. This song has really resonates with me due to the re-identification of myself in these last 6 months. The lyrics listed here is verbatim from the actual song on the album. The lyrics listed in the CD inlet is slightly different.
I couldn’t find the exact chords, but I’m pretty sure it’s just D – G – Bm – A. The bridge is just G – A repeated. The last measure of the bridge before it goes back to the chorus would be G – Bm instead of G – A. Please correct me in the comments if I’m off 🙂
I was so far, so far from You
But you pulled me closer, closer to You
And I called out to You and heard Your sweet, sweet voice
And I reached out to You and felt Your touch
In the silence You are speaking
In the stillness You are moving
In the chaos You’re still here
Here with us
I was so lost searching for love
But you are so loving, so loving towards me
And I called out to you, and heard your sweet, sweet voice
And I reached out to you, and felt your touch
God is still moving
God is still speaking
God is still healing
Here and now
You are still moving
You are still speaking
You are still hearing
Here and now
Written by Blaine Stark
I was pretty busy this past weekend—busier than usual anyway. I really don’t get out much. Anyway, an old high school friend of mine came out to visit for the weekend. The plan was to go out with a few other people in the area that are from my guild. (Yes, by “guild”, I do mean of World of Warcraft variant.) Whoa, that means I need to be social in the real world? Like I said, I don’t get out much.
With the exception of one of my housemates, the people I was with are not Christian. Actually, I really don’t know exactly where their hearts are with their Creator, but my observation tells me they aren’t Christian. Besides, I’m not the one to judge. The point is, I prayed that I would be on my best behavior and that my actions and words would be more Christ-like. This is something I definitely need to work on. It’s really easy to get back into old habits especially when an old high school friend is with you.
Now, when I say I am on good behavior, it doesn’t mean I’m going to be preaching the gospel to my non-believing friends at every chance I get. If that were to happen, the only friends I would end up with are the ones that already have a clue about the gospel. I want my behavior and attitude to be Christ-like. If the Holy Spirit is in me, it should be obvious that I’m a Christian without saying anything, right? (See Matthew 5:14 ff)
That said, this post isn’t about how we got together for dinner on Saturday night which followed a bit of singing at a Korean karaoke bar in LA—I should probably stop with any further details right there. I know everyone had a great time that Saturday night. It was fun to get out and do something different.
The next morning, I took my friend to the airport. On the way back, I felt a large burden in my heart. I don’t know what that was all about. I felt like I needed to pray for my friends the night before. The prayer felt authentic. It’s like I knew each person well enough to get a hint of an idea of each of their burdens in their lives. We are all adults—mid to late 20’s—going through real life issues—whether it was over a job, a broken or mending relationship, soul or purpose searching. That burden amongst all of us was real. I carried that feeling on Sunday. I felt sick for most of the day. I lost my appetite. I didn’t want to do anything. I wanted to stay in solitude hoping to hear God’s voice.
I went to church later that evening. CCV was having a special worship service. The entire service was nothing but musical worship. The church is blessed with some of most talented musicians in the area. The church felt it was time to take a step back and breath—to thank, praise, and listen. I wasn’t quite sure if my voice was up to the task considering I just spent the night at a karaoke bar, but I was there ready to give it my all. Again, I carried this feeling of burden weighting me down. I don’t know if it was just mine, but it felt like from the knowledge I knew from my friends, I carried some of that pain.
When we—the congregation, God’s church, in His house—began to sing. I was immediately filled with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 8:20) and began crying out to God. And this wasn’t a battle cry or anything like that. My tear ducts began to overflow and I couldn’t control this emotion. At that point, I knew I heard his voice. I remembered what He had sounded like. That voice I heard over 10 years ago and was only lost through the distractions and decisions I selfishly made. He told me everything was going to be okay and that I should not need to worry (Matthew 6:25 ff).
I asked God what should I do next. He answered in the most amazing way. Being in authentic worship is awesome. It’s a stunning reminder that He is always moving in you and He will keep His promises to work through you. Thank You.
I was relieved.