Saturday, July 20, 2013

Blended Worship

“The main purpose of my music is to glorify God. Some people do this with music that is simple. I haven't chosen to use a simple style, but my music comes from my heart as a humble offering to God. This honors God no matter what musical style I use” (Bach).

According to a recent survey by CCLI, 63% of congregations in the United States have blended services. The term "blended worship" denotes the creative weaving together of diverse musical styles and other elements into a seamless fabric which is Christ honoring… simply employing different musical venues with deference to all styles and age groups of people.

We celebrate the God of the past with hymns, the God of the present with our choruses, and the God of the future with our spiritual songs and new songs. Matthew 13:53 says, Jesus said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.  God rejoices in diversity.

The demographic of the local church obviously determines the style of music for that particular body of believers. There is no right or wrong with either the old or the new. The only “right” is that the worship music must honor the Lord, and the only “wrong” is to condemn others for their style.  C.S. Lewis declared, “The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of.  Our attention would have been on God.” And that is what I believe God expects from us irrespective of styles or musical tastes.

The worship we lead is not about us and the styles we want; rather, it is so we can be all things to all people.  To quote Dr. Steve Phiffer, a theologian and friend, "One generation declaring his works to another is the new blended worship.” The apostle Paul writes…”I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” (I Cor 9:2) And that is our goal… to tie generations together to glorify God that many would be drawn to Christ.

The term “Worship Wars” has been bantered around now for several years; unfortunately, this is exactly what happens to many churches when worship leaders and pastors demand one particular style to be the standard, and it seems that we are still in battle.  My advice to the hundreds of people who have complained to me about the contemporary music replacing blended or traditional is simply this: if you are attending a church where the music is a distraction to you or doesn’t invite you in to worship, then go somewhere else where you can be an active participant from the congregation… it only causes distress and turmoil when one complains to others about style, volume, and songs used for worship.

Many of our seniors get their "fill" of new songs during the regular worship services and I think they just miss the "good ol' songs"’s not the “change” that bothers them so much as it is the “loss” of something dear to them…thus, I often receive requests for us to use hymns on occasion.  The good news is that the message and melodies of the old hymns are just as effective as the songs that God gives's our audience that changes.  Too often I have heard people say, “That song doesn’t move me anymore.” However, when God anoints a song, I believe it's for eternity!

In his New York Times Bestseller, “90 Minutes in Heaven,” Don Piper talks about his “death” experience.  After a horrible car accident where he was declared dead for 90 minutes, Don shares a glorious encounter with celestial beings and heavenly music.  During his experience, he heard thousands of songs being sung simultaneously, yet he could distinctly hear each one and all blended together in glorious harmonies.  He heard what he calls ancient chants as well as familiar and new hymns, and even “modern sounding” choruses.  I believe he was allowed to hear the heart of God’s creation express Heavenly music…worship that transcended denominations, styles and genres…Blended Heavenly music. 

If our congregation is diverse, then we must be equally as diverse musically. It shouldn’t matter what musical style is being used in our services; as true worshipers, we should be more concerned about God showing up!

Romans 10:13 says, “Whosever will may come!” May the Lord use us in all musical styles to change the hearts of those who “won’t” to be those who “will!”

Friday, July 12, 2013


Several years ago during a severe storm, I was awakened at 3:00 a.m. by a thunderous noise that shook our entire house. Immediately, I bolted out of bed (and although not audibly) I heard a powerful voice declare to my spirit, “See how I responded to Manasseh, even after he did the things he did!” It resonated in my spirit and I will never forget it!

Remembering that Manasseh was the most evil king of Israel, I trembled at what God was trying to say to me.  I then opened the scriptures to II Chronicles 33 where it states that he led the people of Israel astray to worship false gods and did detestable things before the Lord, even sacrificing his own sons. The Lord sent prophets to warn him yet he disregarded their appeals.  Eventually, the Assyrians came and captured him, put a hook in his nose, shackles on his hands and carried him away to captivity. 

It was then that I discovered one of the most life-changing verses ever…”In his distress, he humbled himself before the Lord… and the Lord restored him to his kingdom.”  He was the only king to ever be taken captive and then restored to his throne! The story of Manasseh reveals the true heart of God…He wants to restore us back to Himself, regardless of our past!

The biggest problem with people is that they feel unworthy to be restored, but God wants to change that!  Because of the blood that Jesus shed for us on the cross, “We can go boldly before His throne in times of need!” (Hebrews 4:16).

There are many ways to humble yourself before God.  Most of the Biblical words for HEBREW worship are translated to mean “Make oneself bow down or humble oneself before the Lord.” Worship is an act of our will, our doesn’t just happen.  When we make ourselves worship or bow down, then we not only humble ourselves, but God is truly pleased in the process.

Through worship, we can have a Divine Encounter with God where He will even speak to us. Worship is our direct line to HIM.  He promises to reveal Himself whenever it is done with a humble heart.  And the best part of all…God is in the restoration business!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Is God Comfortable in Your Home?

Is God Comfortable in Your Home?

Several years ago while listening to the Pastor’s sermon, I felt an overwhelming prompting from the Lord.  I sensed that HE wanted me to “clean up” my home since there were things that were displeasing to Him. I wasn’t aware there was a problem but I knew that I needed to take inventory as soon as I got home from church… and this prompting had nothing to do with the Pastor’s message, so I knew it was a “God thing!”

That night I prayed that the Lord would show me what needed to be purged from the house and I felt a strong impression to read Joshua 7… here’s the paraphrased version of what occurred in that chapter.

Joshua had just led the Israelites in conquering Jericho.  The people were ecstatic, and probably overconfident.  The next town to be conquered was Ai, so insignificant that Joshua only sent a few thousand men to fight them.  The men were ambushed and killed, and the people were shocked and extremely fearful.  The scripture says: “The hearts of the people melted and became like water. And then Joshua and the elders tore their clothes and fell down before the Ark of the lord.”  Joshua cried out to the Lord, “why would you give us such great success with Jericho, and then make us run from our enemies?”  He pleaded and begged God for an answer and God said, “Get up…Israel has sinned by keeping things from the battle of Jericho that were devoted to the Lord.  That is why they are running from their enemies and being defeated.”  And then the clincher: The Lord spoke to Joshua and said, “I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever is among you that is devoted to destruction.” 

Immediately I knew what the Lord was saying.  There were things in my home that were devoted to destruction….things that were potential hazards with my relationship with God. Let me say that these things were snares for MY household and for me as a worship leader and are not necessarily applicable to anyone else. Each person must determine what the Lord directs them to do respectively.

I asked the Lord to reveal anything in my home that was devoted to destruction, and as I took out a pen a paper, these snares were quickened to my heart.  Here are a few from the list that the Lord prompted me to remove quickly:

Videos that had language or inappropriate behavior

Videos for the kids that promoted spiritualism, innocent toys/pix, actually of demons

Music that had lyrics promoting ungodly lifestyles

Toys that promoted spiritualism and dabbling into anti-Christian themes

Books that propagated answers to problems that were contrary to the gospel

TV shows we watched that were not appropriate for a consecrated Christian.

The list went on. 

Once we purged our house of these destructive items, something dramatic literally happened overnight.  Because we chose to consecrate our house to the Lord, it affected our kids’ spiritual lives, as well as Grace and mine. Anyone who entered my home from that point on said, “This is a house of peace”…there was something special you felt when entering the home.  I believe it was because the Spirit of the Lord was comfortable there.

God requires all of us to make sure that our homes are pleasing to HIM.  As we prepare to face the years ahead, I pray the Lord would reveal those things “devoted to destruction” and anything else that could hinder our relationship with Him. The challenge for us is simple…is God comfortable in your home?