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I'm a stay-at-home Dad suffering from Fibromyalgia. I homeschool my daughter and lead worship at my church. I'm also a gamer and a geek and proud of it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Worship Wednesdays:Lead, Don't Entertain

Scenario:
You just finish up worship on Sunday morning and you're feeling like everything went really well. The band was in sync, the transitions were spot on, and the new song you've been practicing for a month sounded great. To top it off you can sense the presence of God in the sanctuary as you prepare to hear the word. And then it happens. A well meaning saint comes up and begins to tell you that you didn't play enough hymns, the music was too loud, they didn't like the new song, you played too many hymns, the music wasn't loud enough, or one of many other complaints you hear on a weekly basis. How do you feel now? Did they miss the move of God or did you imagine the whole thing?

Being a worship leader is tough sometimes, but I think part of that is because we think that leading worship is just about singing the right songs on Sunday morning, We tend to judge whether or not we are successful by the reaction of the congregation. We treat them as an audience as opposed to those we are meant to lead. As leaders we need to communicate where we are going.

If someone is complaining about a certain aspect of our worship service, we first need to determine if their complaint is legitimate. Let's face it we are human and we make mistakes. If an older saint is complaining that the music is too loud it might be because certain higher end frequency can actually be painful as we grow older. Take time to find the root cause of the complaint. Most times complaints stem from a lack of knowledge about either worship in general or our vision for our worship services.

We treat them as an audience as opposed to those we are meant to lead.

Sometimes people feel worship is just about singing songs and can get fixated on certain styles and genres of music, basically it comes down to preferences. This is a tough area because we all have preferences, even worship leaders. If you are getting a lot of complaints about the style of music from multiple people then maybe you are letting your own preferences dictate the style as opposed to the culture of the church. As leaders we need to keep the culture of our church and our community in mind when selecting songs.

Notice I said both the church and the community. We need to be relevant to the community in which our church is located, otherwise we become an exclusive club for people of similar tastes. Don't get me wrong hymns are great, I make a point to do at least one hymn every Sunday because of the great theology that is expressed within them, but if all we do are sing hymns from 100 to 50 years ago we may have a hard time reaching some of the younger generation. By the same token if your church is located in a community that is predominately retirees, then some of the newer praise music may not appeal to them.

It's ultimately about Jesus.

As leaders we need to teach the people we are leading that worship isn't about our preferences. It isn't about us at all. It's ultimately about Jesus. It's about worshiping Him for who He is and for what He has done for us. The unsaved will respond to our worship but only if it is relevant to them. As a believer I can worship God regardless of the genre of music, as long as that worship is directed at the King of kings.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Managing Mondays: Chicken Gnocchi Soup

Many people have really enjoyed this soup and have asked about the recipe. So, guys this one is for you.

INGREDIENTS:
1 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
1 quart half and half (you can use milk if you want to cut calories)
1/2 cup celery, finely diced
1 cup onion, finely diced
2 minced garlic cloves
1 32 ounce carton of chicken broth (I use organic broth with no msg added)
1 cup carrots, finely shredded (you can purchase shredded carrots in most grocery stores.)
1 cup chicken breasts, cooked and diced (I like to grill mine with a little salt and pepper)
1 package gnocchi, cooked
1 cup of fresh spinach coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon parsley
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Saute the onion, celery, and garlic in the butter and olive oil over medium heat until the onion becomes translucent. Add the flour and make a roux. Let the butter and flour mixture cook until it is golden brown in color (about a minute) before adding 1 quart of half and half.

Cook gnocchi according to package directions.

Into the half and half mixture, add in the carrots and chicken. Once the mixture becomes thick, add the chicken broth. Once the mixture thickens again, add the cooked gnocchi, spinach, and seasoning; simmer until soup is heated through.  Season to taste by adding additional salt before serving.

Note:
It is important to cook the gnocchi ahead of time even if you are making this in a slow cooker. Packaged gnocchi are coated in cornmeal to prevent sticking. Cooking them before hand will rinse the cornmeal off of the gnocchi. If you place the uncooked gnocchi in the soup intending them to cook in the broth the cornmeal will give the soup an unappealing texture.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Worship Wednesdays: The Name of the Lord (Part 4)

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Genesis 17:1

We have already uncovered a few of the names of God in the Old Testament so lets recap;

Elohim - Almighty God 
El Elyon - God Most High
El Roi - God Who Sees

now every time we see El we know it is the shortened form of Elohim. As such the second and third names in the list above can be translated as Almighty God Most High and Almighty God Who Sees respectively. That brings us to the next name we will look at. It is El Shaddai. It is the name for God that appears in Genesis 17. It is translated as God Almighty or literally Almighty God Almighty.

Now that really excites me because in Hebrews when something is repeated it means it is important or needs to emphasized. in this case God is emphasizing His status as the Almighty. He is all-powerful and if we read further into Genesis 17 is going to supply blessings upon Abram. He even changes his name to Abraham. God is also the all-sufficient one, when we are weak, He is strong.

So how should knowing this affect our worship. Well have you ever walked into worship feeling like you have nothing left to give? You are totally exhausted and defeated by life. When we are as weak as weak can be and come before God, He will lift us up. He will give us what we need. He will supply us with all that we need to further His purpose in our lives. If that isn't cause to worship Him, I don't know what is.

One thing to remember is that our worship isn't just the songs we sing it is everything we do. Every moment of our lives should be lived in honor of our God, and He will actually give us the strength to do just that. When we aren't strong enough, He gives us the strength. He never said for us to do things on our own. He wants us to rely on His strength, and in doing so we draw closer to Him, which is the ultimate aim of worship to bring us into relationship with God.

Read Part 5 here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Worship Wednesdays: Preparing the Bride

I've spent the last two days at the Unite Worship Conference in Boston, MA and there are so many things I want to share. I think the place to start is with the things that made the greatest impact on me.

I was privileged to attend a workshop facilitated by Jennie Lee Riddle, for those of you who are unaware of who Jennie is, she wrote Revelation Song. One of the things she mentioned that really made an impact on me was the idea that as song writers and worship leaders it is our job to prepare the bride for the bridegroom.

What this means is we need to give the church, the Bride of Christ, truth she can hold unto in our songs. One of the things she said was that the church didn't need our sentiment, she needs the word of God in order to get through her troubles and trials.

One of the metaphores she used was of a wedding gown designer. A good designer will create a unique gown that fits the bride perfectly not because they want their dress to be noticed but because they want the bride to be beautiful. In writing songs for worship we must never write with the intention of getting famous. Our goal should always be to edify the Bride.

I think this applies to leading our worship services as well. We should never think of what we do as entertainment, or that people are there to watch us perform on a stage. We are there to help the Bride prepare herself for the soon coming Bridegroom. To lead her into the presence of God so her lamp will be full of oil. To impart the truth of God through our song choices so She will be able to hide it in her heart, and will have enough oil to last through the night.

Writing songs for the Bride and leading her in worship are tremendous responsibilities and privileges. We should be both humbled and honored if that is the calling on our lives. Even if you are not a worship leader, if you are a Christian, you are a worshiper, and as such we all must prepare the Bride so she can be presented to her Bridegroom, pure and spotless, on her wedding day.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Worship Wednesdays: The Name of the Lord (Part 3)

This week we turn our eyes to Hagar. You remember her right? Sarai's servant, that she gave to Abram to become his wife? The Bible tells us that when Hagar became pregnant, she despised Sarai. Despised literally means to make light of, to lessen or make insignificant, to put down. Hagar basically rubbed it in, that she was pregnant and Sarai was not. Sarai turns around and treats her harshly and Hagar decides to run away. God comes to her in the wilderness and reassures her that everything will be okay. Hagar then says to the Lord, "You are a God who sees."

That is she calls God, El Roi. God sees all that we go through, nothing is hidden from him. We cannot hide from God. After this God sends Hagar back home to deal with the situation, and God does the same with us. He doesn't want us to run from our troubles. He wants us to face them, and He will be right there with us when we do. God will work all those bad things out for our good. Even when we can't feel his presence, we can know that God is El Roi, the God who Sees.


When we worship in spirit and truth, we can be assured that He is there, even if we can't sense His presence. As true worshipers of the Almighty God (Elohim), God Most High (El Elyon), We can be sure that He is watching over us as the God who Sees (El Roi). Though we are by no means the focus of worship, there are some benefits to the worshiper. There is a comfort that comes from knowing that God always sees and knows what is best for us. As Psalm 9:10 says:

And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.

Read Part 4 here.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Managing Mondays:Guacamole Recipe

Winner of the Poll: Guacamole!!!




Ingredients:
2             ripe avocados
1 clove    garlic, grated
1/2 cup   finely chopped onion
2            tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1            jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1            lime
2 tbsp    chopped cilantro
1 tbsp    salt

Directions:

  1. peel and pit the avocados and mash them in a large bowl. Add the juice of half a lime and let sit for 5 min. (I like to use this time to prep my remaining ingredients.)
  2. Add the garlic, onion, tomato, and pepper and mix together.
  3. finally add the cilantro the juice from the remaining half a lime and the salt. stir the mixture together and place in the refrigerator. 
Serve chilled with tortilla chips. I even use it as a spread on sandwiches.