Music is such a gift!

I have the privilege of working with the Elbert County Comprehensive High School Band as a low brass instructor. Lee Newman has done a terrific job of bringing these diverse kids together to make music. I only get to work with them a couple times a month due to budget restraints, but those few times are a real treat for me.

You see, I’d be nowhere without my high school band. It was the only thing I was good at…really good at. No sports, just band. It was the only place I was accepted for who I was. It was the only place I felt successful. If it weren’t for my friend in band that invited me to come to church to play in their brass ensemble, I might not even be a Christian today.

Music alone is powerful. It can lift the heart to new heights, cause it to slumber, and lead it to solemn reflection. But that’s not all…music is a common goal in musical groups (band, choir, hand bells, etc.) When it takes a multitude of people to make music, it becomes a bonding agent between those people. And that is a powerful thing.

Listening the the ECCHS Band play through a concert piece today reminded me of so many days in my own band room, of so many trips and contests, and that great opportunity we had to play in Carnegie Hall in New York. Music is awesome.

Do you have music in your life?

Kindness to others is worship to God

I can already hear you theologians rolling that one around against all the scripture stored away in your brains. It may be a little bit of a stretch, but let me lead you there for a moment this Tuesday morning…

Titus 3:1-2 says, “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.”

“To be obedient” carries two connotations…obedience to the rulers and authorities, and obedience to God. Jesus says in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”

So, what does He (God) command? A teacher of the law once asked Jesus this question: “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” (Mark 12:28). Jesus replied…and we should obey…,”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” He follows this in Matthew 22:40 with, “All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.” He’s teaching us that if we can keep these two commandments to their fullest extent, we won’t have to worry or think about all the other commands He’s given, because living by these two will take care of obedience to all the other commands.

So when we obey the part about loving others as we love ourselves, we take care of the command summed up in Colossians 3, “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” One of the fruits of the spirit is kindness. Are you kind to others…no matter how kind they are to you?

When we display kindness to others, no matter the situation or circumstances, we are being obedient to God. In that obedience we are showing that we love Him. In loving Him, we are worshipping Him.

Kindness to others is worship to God.

Sunday’s Set List

I’ve got a few blogging friends that post their Sunday Set List from their worship services. The idea is to encourage one another on to greater things in worship planning. Yesterday was quite the enjoyable worship experience…so here’s what we did…

Call to Worship
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty– The version Christy Knockles sings (Passion?) with pad and egg shaker as the foundation, strings, piano, guitars and drums.

Nothing But the Blood – I heard it somewhere before, but I can’t remember where now. We did a driving eighth-note rhythm underneath with a palm-mute technique on guitars. In the key of G, we also changed the chords on every “Jesus” to F, then C, for a unique progression to the previously 2-chord song.

The Wonderful Cross – I found a video on www.shoutable.com called “The Crowd or the Cross” that had someone singing this song as background music. I took the video into my editing software (Sony Movie Studio) and dropped the music, added a click track (only clicks for the musicians), and edited the video by cutting a few things and time expanding various segments. I also put the song’s text up at one point so the congregation could have the words to sing by. This was a great way to sing a familiar song (including a familiar hymn) and add a contemporary element of video to emphasize the meaning of the song.

Jesus Paid It All (O Praise the One) – This is becoming a favorite of our congregation. It has the familiar Jesus Paid It All Hymn, but adds a few alternate chords and a killer new bridge! (“O praise the One who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead!”)

Choir Anthem – Mighty is the Power of the Cross – after singing those “Cross” minded worship songs, this song was a perfect fit. The arrangement was from “30 Minute Choir Book”.

I asked the organist to play an arrangement of “O Sacred Head Now Wounded” for offertory. I don’t usually ask for specifics here since he  finds what fits on a regular basis, but O Sacred Head was on my list for possible inclusion in the worship service for the congregation to sing. I just couldn’t find a way to make it work like I wanted, but it worked well as offertory.

Holy, Holy, Holy – as a baptist church, this hymn is always sung well.

What Wondrous Love is This– this is a great “Cross” hymn with a great tune. It’s progressive text from the cross to our stepping into eternity (“And when from death I’m free I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on…”), is still a powerful statement of worship to me (btw, check out the Annie Moses Band here).

Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross – this is Paul Marino’s arrangement of the Fanny J Crosby hymn. Our church seems to enjoy it in worship. There is also a great choral arrangement from Lifeway (1-4158-5528-5).

That’s what we did yesterday. If you were there, post your comments below. If you weren’t there, how was your church’s worship service?

Art is fun…all kinds of art

I got a logo from a friend the other day for a fund raiser for his youth ministry. They were selling t-shirts with a “Revolution” logo. In seeing their design, I began to think of how I might re-create that within my graphic design business. Here’s what I came up with. What do you think?

grunge-heart-with-wings1

Super Bowl Party

You know that last line on your job description that reads, “All other duties as assigned by the pastor” (or boss, etc.)?

We are currently short staffed at my church. However, life must go on, so each pastor has had to pick up some of the duties and responsibilities of each other so that all things can remain in place. Since I had the best recollection of what we had done here in the past as well as previous church experience with Super Bowl Parties, we decided that I should take this one.

So, if you look back over the past several posts, you can see what my average work day looks like. This is one of those “extra” event things.

I’ve enjoyed working on it. The people I’ve recruited to help me get it organized have done a fabulous job. It will be a great event and I can’t wait to get it started. It’s about 4 pm and our party starts in just over 2 hours.

This year is sort of a test to see what sort of response we’ll get. We want to do a chili cookoff and dessert contest but wasn’t sure how many we might have since we’ve never done this before. So, hopefully, what we’ve planned for tonight will be exciting enough that others will want to be involved next year and we can go with the contests. Basically, this year we’ve got people bringing finger foods and snacks (hopefully some desserts too). We’ll watch the game on the big screen (taking one of our projectors and displaying it on a large white wall – about 15 ft diagonal). We’re also lucky enough to have a large gym with two full courts. We’ll have some playing basketball on one half court. Some will play some touch football on the other court maybe. I’m hoping we might be able to get some Ultimate Frisbee going – one of my favorite athletic sports and one of the only ones I can actually hold my own. I also bought a $4 wiffle ball set in case we wanted to do that too. Should be fun.

We also collect cans for our local Salvation Army (SOUPer bowl).

Do you do anything at your church for Super Bowl?