Thursday, March 28, 2013

The New Old Song or the Same Old Song?

The New Old Song or The Same Old Song?
By David Ritter
After years of hearing the same songs repeated over and over again, we often hear the terms “outdated,” “ineffective,” and “it doesn’t move me anymore.” Even a powerful song, after it has been presented multiple times, can seem to lose its luster.  However, I submit that it is the worship team, choir, and worshipers who “change”… not the song.  If the “old songs” fail to “move” us anymore, it is not the fault of the song, but rather, the heart of the singer or congregation member who fails to recognize the NEVER-changing power of the scriptures.
A positive emotional reaction to scripture set to music does not place any more value on it.  It is already anointed.  In contrast, a negative reaction does not invalidate the Word of the Lord set to music. All of us, at times, get accustomed to a song or a scripture, and it doesn’t seem to have the original power when we first heard it.  
So, if the words of an anointed song always have the initial power as when it was first created, what can we do to ensure that the same power never loses it’s grip?   
Psalm 45:7 and Hebrews 1:9 both declare how we can receive the anointing of God on our music, our ministry and our lives.  “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness, therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.”  When God anoints us there is a spiritual change that takes place, even if it is the same scripture or song that we have heard hundreds of times.
How do we keep the congregation from being bored by the repetition of scripture or a song?  If a song is truly an inspiration of the Holy Spirit, then it follows that it will always have the original anointing as when it was first penned.  So, when someone says, “That song doesn’t move me anymore,” what went wrong?  It certainly can’t be the Holy Spirit, so it must fall on us as congregational worshippers and those in Music Ministry to question why. I believe two things must happen: The congregation must be taught that we are not singing the songs for them…they are there to give to God, not to receive (although that is a serendipity of giving).  Secondly, the Worship Leader, choir and musicians must seek the face of God so that His Spirit would anoint our ministry.  We don’t seek the anointing, we seek the Anointer…when we do that, the songs, (whether old or new) will have the anointing and power to move individuals to worship God.  The responsibility is for us to keep our spiritual lives fresh!  In Ezekiel 37:4, God took dry bones and gave them flesh.  We need that same power of God to take our dry songs and breathe in new life.
We will be learning 15 new anointed and powerful songs this season.  Let’s make sure they have the same power and anointing two years from now as they do when we first hear them!!!  “Love righteousness and hate wickedness and be anointed with the OIL OF JOY!”  Amen!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Croatia Week #2


Slavo Bogu! (Praise the Lord in Croatian)!

Greetings from Zadar!  Zadar is a seaport city along the West Coast of Croatia.  Today marks the completion of two weeks in Croatia and the third day of our journey down the coast, which is now called the Dalmatian Coast.  We had incredible opportunity to hold two worship seminars the last three days, and yesterday, Sunday, March 24th, I was invited to preach for one of the largest churches in Croatia (Rijeka).  In fact, the church has grown to a point where they are building a new facility (the third church we’ve been to that has outgrown their space).  Many people responded with such encouraging words and told us they had never even heard of a “sacrifice of praise,” a topic I address in each church we visit.  We have never seen such hunger for the things of God, and especially people clamoring to know more knowledge of worship!

In Rijeka, we were housed at Christ Church where they have a large four-bedroom condominium which serves as a refuge for families that have children in the top cancer hospital in Croatia.  They didn’t charge us anything, but offerings were accepted, so we gave generously, especially since we discovered the purpose of the center where we stayed.  It’s an incredible ministry that is usually filled with moms staying with their children…thank the Lord that the place wasn’t being used as they don’t allow men to stay where the women are housed.  We especially thank the Lord that there were no children sick and hospitalized at this time (that needed long-term care)!

For the next three days we will be ministering to two churches in Zadar, a Baptist Church, and a Pentecostal Church.  In fact, both churches are coming together for a combined worship seminar on the third day (Wednesday, March 27)!  The cooperation between Evangelical Churches is much greater in the Northern area of Croatia than in the Southern Coastal cities, where we experienced conflicts between churches last summer when we were here.  The topics that I share are typically about “Lifestyle Worship,” “What God Expects From Worshippers,” and “Talent vs. Character,” as well as workshops with worship teams and afternoon consultations with the Worship Leaders.   

We are so grateful to the Lord for HIS powerful mercy, kindness, and anointing that he has showered upon us while we minister; it’s obvious that God wants to do a new work in this country…and we’re excited to
“be about our Father’s business” in Eastern Europe!  I pray that our Newsletters and pictures give you some idea of the kind of experiences we’ve been having, as well as the character and uniqueness of the Balkan culture.  There are 13 countries that make up the “Balkans,” and although each one has their own language, they are all very similar in what they believe and practice.  The Catholic Church is the dominant force in Croatia, but unfortunately most are nominal in their attendance, and very few actually have a living relationship with Christ.  Less than half of 1% are practicing Christians, so the need here is very great!  We are so blessed to live in America where there is an abundance of churches that practice “Lifestyle Worship!”

Thank you again for your prayers and financially support that keep us alive and “on the road!”  We are indebted to each of you that pray and/or give!

May the Lord bless you abundantly, and that you recognize the incredible opportunities you have in the USA!

In Christ Alone,

David and Grace

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Croatia - Week 1

MARCH 19TH, 2013

Blessings and greetings from the Capitol of Croatia!

We arrived on March 13 into Zagreb, Croatia, albeit late at night, where it snowed for 3 days!  Grace was sick for 5 days, our luggage was missing for 6 days, and in the meantime we ministered at 3 different churches around the city.  The response here has been overwhelming, as the people are so hungry for the Word of God set to music, and how to worship Him in ways that are acceptable!  They have been so kind to us and have taken great care of us, for which we are deeply grateful!  In spite of a rough start, God has proven even greater than our circumstances and the best Scripture for us now is “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart” (II Cor. 4:1).  AMEN!

We have ministered in the nearby towns of Cakovec (“CHALK” o- vetz), Mackovec (MACH-o-vetz), and Sisak, all with pastors named Kovacevec (Kov-VETZ-o-vich)!!  We were finally able to learn the pronunciation of these words after the seminars were done!  We had about an hour to kill before our next location, so we drove to Hungary, which was only ten miles away from where we were…when we crossed the border, the architecture changed immediately and it was obvious that we were in another culture and country…it was a fascinating detour and diversion from our intense schedule!  (See our Website pictures).  We will try to include Hungary as one of next destinations on another ministry trip when we come back to Eastern Europe.

The Spirit of the Lord has moved so graciously and powerfully among the people that it has been amazing! They have been so receptive to receiving our ministry and the Lord’s anointing has been so powerful…we know we are at the right place at the right time! 

Thank you to all who have been praying for us and for those who have supported us financially to make these mission ministry endeavors!  The Lord promises us that He will provide for those who minister, whether it be in America or remote parts of the world through II Corinthians 2:11 where it states, “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion.”

Please keep us in your prayers and that our precious GPS will keep working!  Praise the Lord for technology (and that Grace knows how to work these things while I am driving in an Eastern European country and can’t even find the street signs, let alone follow their foreign language instructions)!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Definitions of Worship - Part 6

            By living in complete devotion to the Lord, we offer our allegiance and affection to Him in worship.  It’s a daily routine, since our life for God is dependent on our life with God. One of Paul’s pleas to the Church in Corinth was imploring them to be totally devoted to the Lord, unencumbered by the cares of the world.  “I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.” (I Cor. 7:35). 
According to Webster, being devoted simply means “feeling or showing love.”[1]  Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love the Lord with all that we possess, and to love others as we love ourselves. (Luke 10:27).  When we show our love to God is worship, He responds with His presence, for “God is present in the company of the righteous.” (Psalm 14:5).  And when God is present, we are healed, renewed, and restored.   What a travesty it is that we often wait until Sundays for these miracles in our lives to be revealed.
True and devoted worshippers are consistent, irrespective of their circumstances.  “Though the fig tree may not blossom or fruit be on the vines, the fields yield no food, and the flocks be cut off from the fold, ye will I rejoice in the Lord!” (Hab. 3:17-18).  We must all be worshippers, and not just do worship.  Even though we may lead the worship, sing in the congregation, or preach the message, it does not necessarily equate that true worship transpires.  The secret to acceptable worship?  The attitude of the heart.  “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord “…” He who has clean hands and a pure heart…” (Psalms 24:3a, 4a). May we offer our allegiance and affection to the Lord by living as He would have us…in fully devoted lifestyle worship.

Worship is recognizing the height, depth, and magnitude of Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection.  It is a response to His presence, and a relationship with the Divine.
Should God manifest His presence to us this very moment, we would use everything that we possess to worship Him.  We would stand in awe and adoration, minister to Him, obey His words, Glorify Him, Sacrifice praises to Him, and offer our lives in devotion to His Kingdom.

[1] Encyclopedia Britannica Company, 2010.


Encyclopedia Britannica Company. Merriam Webster Online. Incorporated Merriam Webster.
 2010. (accessed Aug 28, 2010).

Fowler, James A. Christ In You Ministries. Edited by James A, Fowler. 1999. (accessed Aug 28, 2010).

Hardon, Rev. John. The Real Presence Association. Inter Mirifica. 1999.
(accessed Aug 28, 2010).

Nee, Watchman. Ministry to the Lord. c. 1930.
(accessed Aug 28, 2010).

Peterson, David. Engaging With God. Downers Grove, Il: IVP Academic, 1992.

Piper, John. John Piper Quotes. c. 1956. (accessed Aug
28, 2010).

Ritter, David L. Music Ministry Manual. Edited by Brenda Herring. San Diego, CA: David Ritter
Publishing, 2010.

Zondervan. The Holy Bible, NIV. Edited by Kenneth Barker. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Bible
 Publishing, 1985.

Definitions of Worship- Part 5

            Probably one of the most difficult aspects of worship is sacrifice.  A sacrifice costs us something.  It is not inherent within us as a fallen race to give sacrificially.  But when we present  a gift to the Lord that causes us to offer (perhaps even suffer) of ourselves in some way, God is pleased.  Even King David recognized this concept early on in his reign when he stated, “I will not offer to the Lord that which costs me nothing.” (II Sam. 24:24, paraphrased.)
            What is a sacrifice of praise?  Heb. 13:15 declares, “Therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”  The fruit of our lips is the worship that flows from a heart of pure, unadulterated praise.  In the worship experience, a sacrifice of praise can also be associated with the rituals of giving and the singing/playing of worship songs.  When we give our last “mite” out of faith for our tithes and offerings when we don’t know where our next meal is coming from, that’s a sacrifice.  When we’re not feeling well or in pain, and we come to church to lift our hands and voices to the Lord, that’s a sacrifice.  When we don’t like the songs being sung and yet we still enter into worship with all of our hearts, that’s a sacrifice.
Lifestyle worship demands that we love the Lord with all that we possess, and love others as Christ loved us. Eph 5:2 admonishes us to, “Live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”  “Sacrificial worship is a place where I drop my ego and allow God to confront the issues that keep me from fulfilling my destiny.”[1] As we give thank offerings, we encounter the manifest presence of God and find His path to righteousness.  Psalms 50:23 promises, “He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God."

[1] David L. Ritter, Music Ministry Manual, ed. Brenda Herring (San Diego, CA: David Ritter Publishing, 2010).