Posted May 31st, 2011 by admin with 2 Comments
Back in the fall of 2009 I stood about 15 feet from where one of my living heroes would soon stand: Muse had just finished their set, and we were waiting for Bono and the boys to take stage, discussing the unique sound design, and other nerdy things worship leaders converse with tech guys about. While Travis Paulding and I tried to identify some unique piece of audio tech, someone tapped me on the shoulder; “Let me guess: you’re a worship pastor, and he’s your tech guy?“ I laughed. We all laughed. He, too, was a worship pastor, and he was having the same conversation that we were just feet away. Then U2 took to stage and we forgot anything or anyone else existed. The next morning I had been given the opportunity to teach at Aaron Keyes Worship School (which I felt WAY out of my league doing, and was very honored by), so I awoke much earlier than I normally would after such a late night, and headed across Atlanta towards his home, getting lost along the way, and pulling in just in time to catch the end of breakfast. Sitting down at their kitchen bar, I realize that the guy next to me is none other than that worship pastor: David Walker! We swapped CDs and within a few months we were writing together (our song “Don’t want to get over You” will be on the next Saint Lewis CD). Well, just two weeks ago David released his second CD (it’s great – CHECK IT OUT), and we played his CD Release party in Greenville, and then this week we were honored to lead worship at his church, Crossroads Community Church, while David and his family were on vacation.
This was a unique opportunity for us for a number of different reasons: for one, Crossroads is TRULY a “worship culture” – spirit-led, and sensitive to the Lord. The pastors, particularly the worship pastors, David, and Aaron before him, have clearly taken this commitment to being a worship culture very seriously, and leading in such an environment – though the band be a collection of “grade A” musicians (I felt like I must have been in Nashville for a minute there during rehearsal – these guys are GOOD) – concern for performance was on the back-burner. Was God honored by the worship? Yes, very much so. Did we hear from Him and follow His lead? Yes, we did. Did the body of Christ respond in corporate praise? Did they ever! As David had told me before we arrived, it’s an exciting environment for a worship leader to lead. The people of Crossroads clearly “get” worship.
“Like a Lion” – Daniel Bashta
“Your Mighty Hand” – An Original, written with David Dalton
“You Won’t Relent” – Misty Edwards/”Wandering Heart” – Original, from Songs from the Hope Farm
“All in All (You’re All I Need)” – Original, from Songs from the Hope Farm
“How He Loves” – John Mark McMillian
I was used to doing a different arrangement of “Like a Lion”, which is quickly becoming a favorite of mine, but the team and I were quick to make concessions and find something we could all play. I was so blessed to hear my wife lead “You Won’t Relent”, which – as usually happens – led to some spontaneous, prophetic praise. We sang two originals in their entirety, but also medlied the end of “Wandering Heart”, which tends to be more corporate than the first half, into “You won’t Relent”. At the end we were called up for a response time, so we sang “How He Loves” off-the-cuff.
Sure, there were some minor mistakes. I’m ashamed to say that the following day, when David asked how things went, I actually began by telling him something that we did WRONG! Before it was even off my lips I felt ashamed: it’s sad that we can make something about HIM be about US. Worship is ultimately not about how well I sang, played, or led, so the first thing on my mind when thinking about a corporate worship event should NEVER BE “How did I DO?“ What did God do? That’s an entirely different story: God refreshed my wife and I’s hearts, encouraging us with wisely spoken prophetic words from new-found friends; God drew a body of people who were formerly strangers into corporate praise – even with original songs they had never heard before – which was passionate, beautiful, and God-honoring in their/our response to His Spirit; God poured out grace upon grace, and a spirit of honor upon that place that gently convicted me of how I speak of and treat others. And that’s just the tip of the ice-berg. Friends, God is at work at Crossroads, and we simply stepped into, and gave a bit of a unique “sonic-palette” to what He’s doing there. Whoa-is-me if I make what happened there more about us than about God.
Later that evening, Aaron Keyes took the same stage and added his unique palette to the canvas, sharing songs from his forthcoming CD, and it was clear from his set that he, too, knew that it was ultimately not about him. I’m excited to see what God does with his new songs. Actually, I’m also excited to see what God does with our new songs!
In fact, I think I’m just excited to see what God does, and is doing – PERIOD.
Posted May 24th, 2011 by admin with 2 Comments
Mid-Summer, 1991. I sat in a field in Joplin, MO – a quiet moment – one of the very first times I actually picked up the Bible to read with an open heart, instead of an attempt to tear it apart, or simply disprove it and relegate it permanently to the realm of silly myth. I flipped freely, stopping seemingly randomly at Proverbs 8: “Does not wisdom cry out, O foolish ones?“ I knew this, somehow. O yes, these were the lyrics of a metal song I had liked. So I kept reading, and for the first time my eyes were opened. No, I did not become a “Christian” that day – not in any doctrinally orthodox sense, at least. But I decided for myself that Jesus – whoever he was – was real, that he had some special connection to whoever/whatever God was, and that I was going to pursue him with everything I had, even though I was still convinced that 90+% of the Bible was old wives’ tales, and that the church was pretty much silliness. Joplin, MO, is where Jesus got his grip on me. By the way, one special aspect of that week was a few really cool (i.e. – not at ALL CCM-like) Christian musicians I had met. They were visiting from out-of-town too: brothers, non-conformists, and quite creative. I saw that there was variety within the church – that not everyone was cookie-cutter. I liked that. I took down their names, but we quickly lost touch.
After graduating from college I moved to Athens, GA, and through my connection to an international rock band there, suddenly gained access (FREE access) to the renown Cornerstone Festival in Bushnell, IL. One evening that week, while watching 16 Horsepower, I made a new friend with which I had a great deal in common: faith, and unique musical taste. She was from Joplin, MO. We made a point of enjoying a few shows together each year for the next few, always finding each other at Cornerstone and catching up on the last year’s events, and her life in Joplin.
In ’02 I released my third CD with my old band Set on Edge. While touring in support of that CD, I passed through Joplin, and popped into a Sunday service at Christ’s Church of Joplin. I had been wrestling with understanding and applying what the Bible had to say about spiritual gifts, and I hadn’t yet seen them practiced in a way that really made sense to me. That Sunday that all changed. Christ’s Church was affiliated with New Frontiers International, a Reformed Charismatic Missional (before missional was a word) church network who was very serious about both the Bible and the Holy Spirit. For the first time I saw freedom in the Spirit walked out in a way that seemed to be done “decently and in order.” That day I can honestly say that some part of me shifted from “Spiritual-Gifts Skeptic” to “Charismatic” – I not only believed that it may be possible for God to still move miraculously, I began to live expecting it!
Just a couple of years ago I stumbled across my lady-friends formerly from Joplin online, and immediated noted that she was married… TO THE ONE OF THE BROTHERS THAT HAD SO INFLUENCED ME THE WEEK I DECIDED I WOULD PURSUE JESUS! An encouraging friend married a spiritual mentor who never knew that he was, all connected to the place I met Jesus and encountered His Holy Spirit. I love Joplin, MO!
Can I call you all to love Joplin too? I am blessed to know that all of the folks I’m connected to there are safe, but could you join with me as I pray for the people of Joplin? We serve a God of miracles…
Posted May 13th, 2011 by admin with Comments Off
I originally wrote this blog in 2007, and it was one of my most read and responded to at the time. Well, it’s still an issue I battle with, as I’m sure other do as well. I thought it time I read these words again. I hope that challenged and bless you.
I once had a recent acquaintance, eventually to become a good friend, approach me and say that they had figured out what it was about me that had always seemed so unusual, but which – until that moment – that couldn’t put their finger on: “You are completely without sarcasm, and that’s refreshing.” Oh how the mighty have fallen! These days my wife probably hears it the most – the regular cracks & cut-ups – poor attempts at being witty – all for the hope of getting a chuckle. What a waste!
Think about what you like most about people – think of those you could spend almost all of your time with: what sets them apart? Sure, a sense of humor can push someone over the top, for a time, but constant ‘kidding’ grows old fast, and a good laugh only goes so far towards deepening intimacy. In fact, I know that many feel more guarded around those who are ‘funny’ – around ‘the life of the party’. Why? Someone will be the ‘butt’ of their next joke, and it may very well be you. There are certain individuals who are so constantly ‘on-stage’ – ‘performing’, so to say – that they are absolutely ‘un-safe’ to be around, emotionally: it’s almost impossible to discern when they’re serious or joking, and there is an almost constant residual fear that you are somehow being ‘pranked’.
Honestly, when I think about those who have impacted me most – even though I have a few very funny friends – it is those friends who are the most trustworthy, reliable, and sincere – who’s words I never second guess. Granted, few of them are stand-up comedians, but they are the sort of friend for whom it is indeed true that “the wounds of a friend can be trusted”, as you’ll never be the ‘butt’ of a joke intended to make them look good in everyone else’s eyes.
Looking back over the past few years, the growth of my sarcastic edge pains me, as I’ve seen how badly sarcasm has wounded some close to me. Here’s the Biblical truth we need to constantly remind ourselves of: “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.’” (i.e. – mean what you say) and “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (i.e. – what we speak has the power to build up and harm others).
It felt good to be a person that can be trusted – whom others can confide it – who can be relied upon to do what he/she says. It doesn’t feel nearly as good to be thought of as ‘funny’ or ‘entertaining’.
Please pray that I will regain a sense of ‘innocence’ in how and what I speak, and I will pray the same for you.
Posted May 12th, 2011 by admin with 8 Comments
(A few lesser loved idealists: Lenin, Stalin, & Hitler)
As many do, I grew up an idealist (not talking so much about the “temperment”, but the way of thinking/philosophy) – it’s a natural part of child development – a phase to grow out of, hopefully. It’s that later part I had such a hard time with.
First, a few questions:
1.) In your head you picture a perfect world. Is that perfect world A.) Genuinely the way life should be for ALL, down to the T, whether they agree with you or not – don’t worry, one day they’ll see the light and see that you’re right? B.) My idea of what I’d like the world to be, but not being God I can’t know every detail so as to get it all perfect. Or C.) One of many individual’s ideas of a “perfect world”, no better than and no worse than any other person’s concept?
2.) You own a business, and prior to starting read a few books about business and came up with an idea that you think is the best model for doing business. However, your product is simply NOT selling – in fact, you are losing money by the hour. Do you A.) Hammer on ahead, knowing that you’ve done your homework, and believing that things will eventually all pan out. B.) Go back to the drawing board, re-evaluating how you might subtly add-to or adapt your marketing approach in hopes of swinging the pendulum the other way. Or C.) Scratch the whole model, and restart at square one.
3.) Your wife is pregnant, due in about 2 months. As a citizen of the USA, and a Christian, you like to obey the law of the land. While on your way to a family gathering – at least 30 minutes from the hospital – your wife’s water breaks, meaning that your child is coming prematurely. Do you A.) Go the speed limit all the way to the hospital, and risk damage to your wife and child – it is the law, anyway. Or B.) Speed like mad – the law is for our protection, and this is a clear issue of danger to one’s life, justifying speeding.
If you answered A to all three of the above, you are most definitely a full-blown idealist, and if you answered C to question #2, you at least have idealist tendencies.
My battle with idealism has played itself out in a couple ways. When I first became a Christian I also became a Socialist. Yeah -I’ll leave that one alone. For a time I was convinced that hymns were the only genuine way to worship God – hard to believe, looking back on these past few years as a VERY contemporary worship leader, but it is true. I elevated good doctrine/theology (MY idea of “good doctrine/theology”, of course) to the level of being the sole standard by which to judge whether or not a song was worth singing to God. Most people didn’t understand the words – that wasn’t my fault – they should be REAL Christians and real more theology. I may not have always said it (but sometimes I did), but that was what continually bubbled to the surface of my heart, especially in “dumbed down” contemporary/charismatic worship settings.
However, when I left that “ideal” behind, I didn’t leave my idealism: I recall one of the first times I led worship in a truly “free” environment – I dove in, proverbally, head-first – leaving the whole congregation far behind. I was there to worship God – so, so be it – I was going to be able to stand before God and say that, even if no one else followed me, I worshiped Him. I wasn’t so much a worship leader, or even a lead worshiper – I was a guy worshiping, devoid on context, unaware of responsibility to engage/minister to others, who happened to have a microphone in front of me and be standing on a stage.
And I remember on numerous occasions clinging so tightly to the minor dots and tittles of my theological convictions that I would find myself in an almost constant attempt to find inconsistencies in others’ belief systems, point them out, and correct them – it didn’t matter WHO that person was. I could find problems with every church/ministry I took part in. Relationships with others didn’t really matter: only the TRUTH. Truth in love? What’s that?
A few days ago I was out driving, and I don’t know why it hit me so hard: I looked back on my life and wonder how many bridges I may have burned by clinging so tightly to my ideals – the imperfect, fallen, perspective lacking ideals of a this one guys, namely ME – that I didn’t see the PERSON in front of me. I tweeted, “The longer I live the more convinced I become that ‘idealist’ is simply another word for ‘ignorant’ and ‘inexperienced’.“ Strong words – directed at my own folly.
I lead worship – now, aware of who is in the room, and with a mind to bring them with me. Sometimes that may mean I don’t go “as deep” myself, and that’s okay. It’s not all about me and my ideals. When I pick song, or even write them, I do consider the truth or what I’m writing, but I also keep in mind: “Would anyone WANT to sing this?” – pragmatism, or at least realism – considering not only what is TRUE, but what is practical, and might actually REACH someone – in reality, considering OTHERS as greater than myself – has led to a shift in how I think and act on my ideals.
I pray this means that I am one step further on my way to maturity.
Posted May 5th, 2011 by admin with 2 Comments
I will soon be publishing my latest worship teaching called “Worship as a Sign of the Kingdom”, but while I edit it I have a few things that have been heavy on my heart.
The veil is torn – we have access to God through Christ – the temple of God is now in our hearts – when we see Him we are made more like Him… corporately gathering to worship God, we have so many promises – promises that are nothing short of astounding. We have full access to God! He lives in and empowers us! When we look upon, dwell upon, and gaze upon Him we are made more like Him!
So, tell me: WHY in the WORLD do we settle on MERELY SINGING, if even that (for some, standing and mouthing words is good)?!?
I just don’t get it. I don’t get it at all.
I want to do everything within my power, and much that is not, to make sure that I am doing whatever I can to encounter Him, to allow Him room to move in and through me, and to see Him as He is. I don’t want to settle.
So be it.