Here’s a sneak peak at the album artwork and a quick blurb about the concept of my new album, “This Changes Everything” coming August 2nd! In a few days or so you’ll be able to pre-order it. I’m pumped. Go Jesus.
This Changes Everything
Thanks to you all for your prayers for this new album. I believe in the power of prayer….and while sometimes I honestly feel a bit selfish for asking people to pray for my “new album recording” while people are lost and starving in India, I do believe that through prayer this new album can and will make an impact on those lost and starving people! I pray that it does, and brings a ton of glory to God. Go Jesus!
So….sorry for the silence. I have been working hard to complete this album, but now that the recording part is all wrapped up, you should be getting an onslaught of awesome blog posts from me
grace and peace to you!
For as long as he could remember, Keith Green’s greatest dream was to be a musical success. After he gave his life to Jesus, however, he felt the need to surrender those dreams and aspirations by laying down his music…perhaps never to perform publicly again.
Ironically, when sometime later he felt God release him to pick up his music again, he soon had a recording contract and his first album soared straight to the top of the Contemporary Christian Music charts.
The following message was birthed out of Keith’s encounters with those who approached him, usually after a concert, to ask how they too could “make it big” in Christian music.
Today, so many people ask me if I can tell them how they can start or enter into a music ministry. At concerts I get countless questions about this, and I also get lots of letters and even some long-distance phone calls from many people who feel they are only “called” into the music “ministry.” One day I began to ask myself why so few have ever asked me how to become a missionary, or even a local street preacher, or how to disciple a new believer. It seems everyone would prefer the “bright lights” of what they think a music ministry would be, rather than the mud and obscurity of the mission field, or the streets of the ghetto, or even the true spiritual sweetness of just being a nobody whom the Lord uses mightily in small “everyday” ways.
Are You Willing?
My answer to their question is almost always the same. “Are you willing to never play music again? Are you willing to be a nothing? Are you willing to goanywhere and do anything for Christ? Are you willing to stay right where you are and let the Lord do great things through you, though no one may seem to notice at all?” They all seem to answer each of these questions with a quick “yes!” But I really doubt if they know what their answer entails.
My dearest family in Jesus…why are we so star struck? Why do we idolize Christian singers and speakers? We go from glorifying musicians in the world, to glorifying Christian musicians. It’s all idolatry! Can’t you see that? It’s true that there are many men and women of God who are greatly anointed to call down the Spirit of God on His people and the unsaved. But Satan is getting a great victory as we seem to worship these ministers on tapes and records, and clamor to get their autographs in churches and concert halls from coast to coast.
Can’t you see that you are hurting these ministers? They try desperately to tell you that they don’t deserve to be praised, and because of this you squeal with delight and praise them all the more. You’re smothering them, making it almost impossible for them to see that it’s really Jesus. They keep telling themselves that, but you keep telling them it’s really them, crushing their humility and grieving the Spirit that is trying to keep their eyes on Jesus.
Ultimately, what we idolize we ourselves desire to become, sometimes with our whole heart. So a lot of people who want to become just like their favorite Gospel singer or minister, seek after it with the same fervor that the Lord demands we seek after Him! And again, we insult the Spirit of Grace and try to make a place for ourselves, rather than a place for Jesus.
A Thankless Job
How come no one idolizes or praises the missionaries who give up everything and live in poverty, endangering their lives and families with every danger that the “American dream” has almost completely eliminated? How come no one lifts up and exalts the ghetto and prison ministers who can never take up an offering, because if they did they would either laugh or cry at what they’d receive?
Because (1) we’re taught from very early on that comfort is our goal and security… and (2) that we should always seek for a lot of people to like us. Who lives less comfortably and has had less friends and supporters than the selfless missionaries who have suffered untimely, premature deaths trying to conquer souls and nations for the whole glory of God? Do you really believe we’re living in the very last times? Then why do you spend more money on Gospel records and concerts than you give to organizations that feed the poor, or to missionaries out in the field?
There are ministries all over the world where “penniless” people are being saved and transformed. They are broken people who have promise and qualities, but just need someone to bring them God’s light during the times when their lives seem so completely hopeless.
I repent of ever having recorded one single song, and ever having performed one concert, if my music, and more importantly, my life has not provoked you into Godly jealousy (Romans 11:11) or to sell out more completely to Jesus!
Quit trying to make “gods” out of music ministers, and quit desiring to become like them. The Lord commands you, “Deny yourself take up your cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). My piano is not my cross, it is my tool. I’d never play it again if God would show me a more effective tool in my life for proclaiming His Gospel.[God gives us each our own unique tools. But we may never use them if we become more interested in someone else's. Seek God, ask Him for His plan for ministry (true, God glorifying ministry) in your life.]
To finish, let me say that the only music minister to whom the Lord will say, “Well done, thy good and faithful servant,” is the one whose life proves what their lyrics are saying, and to whom music is the least important part of their life. Glorifying the only worthy One has to be a minister’s most important goal!
Let’s all repent of the idolatry in our hearts and our desires for a comfortable, rewarding life when, really, the Bible tells us we are just passing through as strangers and pilgrims in this world (Hebrews 11:13), for our reward is in heaven. Let’s not forget that our due service to the Lord is “… not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake”(Phil. 1:29).
Amen. Let us die graciously together and endure to the end like brave soldiers who give their lives, without hesitation, for our noble and glorious King of Light.
David Platt once said “worship is a rhythm of revelation and response”. I would wholeheartedly agree. We see God and we respond. That is why the use of God’s Word in worship is not an option. You will not (cannot) respond to something or Someone you have not seen, and you cannot see the Triune God apart from His Word. The Bible is the revelation of who God is, and worship sets must be saturated with Scripture or they are worthless. The Bible is also the revelation of what God has done….i.e. The Story of God….i.e. The Gospel. When we worship we are remembering the mighty deeds of God, His faithfulness, and most of all His faithfulness in sending His Son to die for us and be raised for our sins. So when someone stands up to lead the Church in worship, their two PRIMARY roles are teacher and story-teller. Through Scripture, the worship leader is teaching people WHO God is, and telling people WHAT God has done. (see Isaiah 6:1-8 and Col 3:16)
Now….you still have that statement from the beginning in your back pocket? Good, cause here we go….
I never begin my worship sets with “cross songs”. Why? Because that’s not where God started His Story, and that’s not where I would start when sharing Christ with a someone on the street. Imagine this somewhat typical scenario: You see a dude in the mall you want to share Christ with. You’re not sure how to start, so you just throw out a quick “uh….hey man, did you know that Jesus loves you?” You smile, and hope the Holy Spirit falls. Since we’re in America, you just get a slightly awkward look and then a response, “yeah”. Now, you’re wondering what to say. He already knows Jesus loves him, so I guess he’s a Christian? So, you respond with “uh, cool man. um, have a great day!”. So what went wrong in this scenario? Why wasn’t the gospel unbelievably good news (or unbelievably offensive)? Because the story teller started in the middle of the story. This guy didn’t even know he needed Jesus to love him.
You can’t see how amazing grace is until you see how disgusting sin is and how Holy God is. Thus, when I’m sharing the gospel with someone on the street, I always want to make sure I start with GOD…..His character, His nature, His power, His holiness, etc (using the Bible). Then, in light of That, they/you see sin, depravity, and eternal separation as a consequence for all sinners. NOW ENTER THE CROSS….because THAT’S when it’s GLORIOUSLY GOOD NEWS! We can have peace with God again! You see, the guy in the scenario above didn’t know he NEEDED the cross, and as worship leaders it is also crucial for us to ALWAYS ASSUME that people don’t know that they need the cross. Here’s what I’m getting at: Leading worship is sharing the gospel! It’s putting the whole Story on display. Congregations are full of people who have forgotten that they need the cross, so we as worship leaders (who also forget) MUST remind them (and remind ourselves)! So here’s what it looks like practically for me (Isaiah 6 is a great model):
I usually start every worship set with a couple worship songs that just make God look HUGE. Songs that remind us that He is Different from us…that He is Holy, Holy, Holy (i.e. Everlasting God, Revelation Song, Glory To God, Our God, etc.). Then sometimes I’ll do a song of contrition….a song that cries for the mercies of God in light of who He is (Give us clean hands, You Alone Can Rescue, etc.). THEN, and every time, I will bring in the “cross songs”. And at this point in the service, they are SO precious. Infinitely precious, b/c we have seen the infinite distance God has come to save us (Jesus Paid It All, In Christ Alone, etc.)! Then I will hit the resurrection (Stronger, Mighty To Save, etc.), and finally sometimes I will close with some missional songs (Open Hands, etc.).
I am honored to lead in about 6 or 7 worship services a week, and I can truly say, it does NOT get old this way. The Gospel is good news. Always.
Planning worship sets primarily around tempo (fast songs first, slow songs last) or key(s) (playing songs in the same key or related keys), in my opinion, leads to banal and trite singing that doesn’t have Biblical or logical substance. And we know we don’t need more of that. We need The Story. We don’t need more worship jukeboxes who stand on stage and sing out of context excerpts of The Story that sound cool. We need men of prayer, full of the Word, who stand up with the weight of glory on them and sing The Story.
I’d love to hear from you. Worship Leaders: what’s your formula for worship planning? Do you have one? I’d love to learn from you. My goal in this post was not to say that my way of leading worship is the only right way of leading worship, although I do feel quite strongly about it. If you don’t have a formula, I would encourage you to start thinking through this lens.
Writing that our churches might be full of people who are set ablaze with the Gospel-