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The books we read often form how we view life, society, and morality. In this same context, the books we read in our childhood do this even more so. Because as a child our worldview is still forming. This is why it is so important for us to teach the simple truth of the bible to our children. Because if we teach them a biblical worldview from their youth, it will help to form their choices in life. This idea is found in Proverbs 22:6. “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
This was a philosophy that my own mother embraced. As a child she read to me from the Bible regularly, and we had family devotional study time. Now as an adult, not only do I believe in the Bible, but I have devoted my life to studying it and teaching it. But, the Bible wasn’t the only book that I learned from as a child. I also learned a lot from Dr. Seuss. I read “Green Eggs and Ham” and I learned to embrace new things, and especially new cuisine. I read “Oh The Places You’ll Go” and I learned to have confidence in myself, and that I have the potential to go all over the world. But one of the ones that impacted me the most was a book called “Horton Hears a Who”
In this book, an anthropomorphic elephant named Horton hears an almost indiscernible sound coming from a little speck as it floats by him. He suddenly becomes completely obsessed with it, and then begins to communicate with the speck. However his friends and neighbors begin to think he is insane because they cannot hear the sound of the speck.
However, Horton is undeterred. He promises to protect the people living on the speck no matter what. The overarching theme in this story is a simple phrase that if we embraced it, could change our worldview. “A Person’s a Person, no matter how small.”
Just imagine the simplicity. “A Person’s a Person, no matter how small.”
What if we looked at even the smallest people, the toddlers, the infants, the babies, and the unborn, and we treated them like a person. What if we took a stethoscope and pressed it down and listened to their heartbeats. Would you be able to tell the difference from your own?
A PERSON’S A PERSON NO MATTER HOW SMALL…
I know that I am not the first person who has looked at this simple truth and thought of Children and the unborn, and I am sure you have heard this many others like Lou Engle. However, I think it needs to be repeated. I think it needs to be shouted, and I think it needs to be understood.
I recently heard about a debate in Florida. In the Florida legislature, they are considering a bill that would require Abortionists to provide health care to any child who survives an Abortion. If you want to read the original article, and see the video, click here. I saw this video and I was honestly in shock. How is this even a debate, or a discussion. It made my stomach turn to think that anyone would even have to bring this to the legislature. We are talking about a living breathing Child. It is sickening enough to me that someone would even want to abort their child. However, when this abortion has failed, and you now have a living breathing child lying on the operating table before you. How could you possibly even thing it appropriate to murder it?
The lobbyist from Planned Parenthood shared on the video, that it is the corporate belief of their organization, that The decision on what to do with a child born as a result of a botched abortion should be left up the the Mother and the Health Care provider. It saddens me to no end that this can be said with such a stoic demeanor. Cold and emotionless, with a copious amounts of “I Don’t know”
FIRST, DO NO HARM…
There is an oath that is taken by every licensed medical doctor called the “Hippocratic Oath.” In the English translation of the oath there is a phrase, “I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone” There was a time when this oath meant something. But the focus now has shifted from the harm side to ‘anyone’ we try and rationalize away the life of the child that is laying on the table before us.
The problem is that we have begun rationalizing away the value of human life. First we began by saying that an unborn child is only a fetus, or a parasite, and not an actual life. Then we start telling people its ok to kill a child with a heartbeat, simply because He hasn’t left his mother’s womb. Now, we have lobbyists who are trying to tell us that it is ok to kill a living, breathing baby.
We no longer teach the value of life to our children, we no longer instill compassion for the defenseless. Instead of a culture that celebrates and values life, we have a culture that celebrates and values death. I could write a whole article just on the pervasiveness of death in our modern culture, but that is for a different day.
Today, I want to urge all of my friends, family, and readers who are in Florida. Call your representatives, and your senators. Call anyone who will listen and let them know that you support life and you want to see them support it as well. Encourage them to pass the legislation. Encourage them that every child deserves a shot at life. If you live in the state, you have a voice. let your voice be heard.
“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. ‘Give us this day our daily bread. ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]’ Matthew 6:9-13
This is possibly the most well known pray in the world. People have said this single prayer, possibly every day since Jesus instructed them in it 2000 years ago. But instead of simply memorizing and repeat it, what if we were to cut it apart into its simple statements and examine them?
There are 9 distinct thoughts expressed here:
5. On Earth as it is in Heaven
6. Daily Bread
Now obviously it would be a very long post if we looked at each one of these, so instead I want to divide it into sections. Last time we discussed, “Your Will be Done” Let’s continue on.
ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN:
This is an interesting continuation of our thoughts. We talk about the coming kingdom, and being proactive. Then we discuss giving ourselves to the will of God, and now we say we want it done on Earth as it is in heaven. But what does this mean? What does ‘On earth as it is in heaven’ look like? Why is this important for us?
Let me answer this in stages. What does Heaven on Earth look like?
Well, first off we need to have an understanding of what heaven is like. Here are some excellent scriptures;
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. ”
Imagine this for a moment. Pain, mourning, crying, all gone. In heaven all of the hurt and pain of the earth are gone. Sickness, disease, these things are not found there. Heaven is a place of perfection. Heaven is a place where the curse of sin and sickness is broken. Think about it, in heaven sin is no more, and this means no lying, no anger, just the love of God, and His blessing.
But the second question we need to ask ourselves is, “Why is this important to my prayer life?”
This one is two-fold, first, when we pray this, we are reminding ourselves that even though we are currently on earth, the Blood of Christ has already paid full admission price for you to experience heaven. The thing is that The prayer doesn’t tell us to wait for heaven to come, but rather to pray that the earth would become more like heaven.
“For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.” Romans 8:19. So when we pray we get the opportunity to answer the anxious longing of Creation. We in our prayer partner with Christ who is our intercessor before the Father according to Romans 8:34. He paid the price and now we partner with him to see it happen.
Now that we understand the significance. I want to take the opportunity to share this prayer in the form of a song. This is called “Earth Like Heaven” and it is by Jonathan David & Melissa Helser. If you like it, check out their website and buy their music. Their worship is centered on the heart of God and is much an expression or prayer as it is worship.
I realize it has been a quiet time from me. I want to apologize for that. It has been a very busy 2013 so far. I am currently writing a book. It is a simple book about the basics of christianity, it will be designed for new converts, but hopefully will have some good information for people who have been walking with Christ for a long time.
On top of that, I have taken back the full time responsibilities of leading worship at my church Eagle Rock in Lawrence. I love leading worship and I am glad to do it, it just takes up a portion of my time.
Thirdly this month we will begin our “Mane Event Tour” which is a revival and evangelistic tour that will be taking us into about 50 different cities over the course of the next year and half. Please keep all of these things in prayer I need your prayer and support to help continue the work of the Gospel
On top of these already scheduled events, We are working on a return to our missions in Mexico, Ecuador, Israel, Nepal, India, and also looking to add a few new nations to our growing list.
I know I haven’t posted much lately, but I am working on a few posts for this website and intend to get back into full swing. Be on the lookout, and in the meantime you can follow me on twitter. Watch my youtube channel, and like me on facebook.
When you think of Israel, what pictures do you have in your mind? Barbed wire? Bombs? Loads of hate? Soldiers on every corner? Fear and despair? Most of the people I have talked to have the image of a war torn land with soldiers everywhere and terrorists in every alley. A land where you can’t walk down the street without fear. People hear in the news about the ‘war’ between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and it conjures images of an apartheid state wherein the Palestinians are refugees and live in almost third world conditions.
I hate to be the one to burst your bubble, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Israel is a beautifully diverse country with vastly different landscapes as you travel mere miles. The land has everything from mountains and valleys; to deserts and oases. The land is beautiful and has many unique intricate features that add to its beauty.
Israel’s cities are delightful, the beautiful mix of classic middle-eastern architecture and modern design make some amazing cities. The streets are safe, no worse than walking in Philadelphia or Kansas City. The economy is booming and trade is increasing.
But what about those Palestinians? Don’t they live in refugee camps behind evil walls? Not exactly. You see there is a fence surrounding the west bank areas of Judea and Samaria, and border checkpoints that separate Jewish Israel from the Palestinian areas, but that fence is nothing compared to the behemoth wall that separates America from Mexico. So, you probably realize that the fence is there because there is tension between the Palestinians and the Israelis. This is true, but let me come back to that conflict in a few minutes. Before I crack that well I have a few thoughts that need to be shared.
When you think of Israel, you probably think of a culture war between two groups; Israelis and Palestinians. The failure in this widely accepted thinking is that it neglects the fact that there are more cultures in Israel than just those two, and all of them are distinct and unique.
There are actually Five major cultures in Israel. Let’s make a list first and then we can discuss each of them.
- Non-Palestinian Arabs/Muslims
You know about the main two, but have you ever heard much if anything about the bottom three? If you have, you are in the minority, but I want to change that, so let me tell you about them.
First lets look at the non-Palestinian Arabs. These are Arabs, many of whom consider themselves good Muslims. The interesting thing about them is that most of them life in reasonable peace with the Jews. They share the land and they just live their lives. Its probably a stretch to say they are friends, but in truth some are. What may astonish you even more is that many of these Arabs dislike the Palestinians. There are many reasons why they dislike the Palestinians. Some dislike them because they find them to be trouble makers. Others dislike them because they are coming in and trying to take over their land.
One of the men I met was an Arab Sheik. He looked exactly how you would picture a sheik. His family has held land in his region for many years, going back to the days of King Husseni and the 1800’s. We didn’t discuss a lot of political issues, but in my brief encounter with him, it was fascinating to realize that there are other Arab groups beyond just the Palestinians, and each Arab people group is different. For many years I thought it was just the Palestinians in Israel. But enough about the Arabs, lets move down the list.
The next culture I would like to discuss are the Druze. They live in the region surrounding Mt. Carmel and have lived there for Hundreds and possibly thousands of years. The Druze are decedents of Jethro. Jethro was Moses’ father-in-law. For more about the culture of the Druze, and their beliefs please feel free to email me or simply google them. The Druze are very friendly toward the Israeli government and many even serve in the IDF (Israeli Defense Force). Israelis are required to serve three years in the IDF, but the druze are exempt and are allowed to volunteer and enlist if they wish to. I met one such Druze. He was a security guard at one of my hotels. He served in the military and now worked as a guard while going to university. The other interesting Druze I had the honor of meeting was Minister Ayoub Kara. Minister Kara is a druze man who serves in the Knesset which is the Israeli Parliment. He is the Deputy Minister over the regions of the Negev and Galilee. He invited us into his home and dined with us. While we ate, he shared some of the history of his people, and then shared his heart for the future as well as his delight to see what we were doing through the Israel Goodwill Ambassador Academy.
The final people group of note in Israel is actually the fastest growing. The Bedouins are traditionally a nomadic people who live in the desert in the south of Israel. However the Nomadic culture leads to a host of difficulties that I am sure you can imagine. To combat these difficulties, the Israeli government built four cities for the Bedouins. Many people see the Israeli government as this evil Apartheid like state, but nothing could be further from the truth. The Israeli government has built cities in Bedouin areas and in Palestinian areas to give homes to those in need. In the Bedouin regions these homes and cities were well received and a thriving economy began to build in the south. The Bedouins are now outgrowing their cities, and the Israeli government is now trying to decide how to best facilitate this growth. The Bedouins also are know to volunteer in the IDF. They are actually highly sought after because their history as nomadic people makes them well suited to being trackers and special forces.
The final thought I want to share today is about the Knesset itself. You would think that since Israel is a Jewish state that all its Knesset leaders are Jewish, but that just isn’t the case. Israel is a thriving democracy and there are Israelis, Druze, and even Muslims in the government. In fact there are eleven Muslims in the Israeli Knesset most of whom want to see Israel wiped off the map. Can you imagine that in America? The Senator from Kansas, or Florida, or Michigan voting in the Senate to get rid of America as a nation? Well that is exactly what is happening in Israel. Now the number of anti-Israel members of the Knesset is low and thus it doesn’t often affect the voting process, but still the fact that they are allowed in the government at all is a shocker in and of itself.
Keep watching in the next few days for more information about Israel and what I learned while I was there. As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed, but overtly anti-semetic comments will not be allowed. You do not have to agree with me, but keep it civil.
So most of you know I am leaving for Israel and will be gone this month. I apologize for not actually posting more but the past few weeks have been done in the hurry up offense. Getting things paid for, cleaned, and ready to go all across the world in a whirlwind of missions excitement.
So The plan was to drive to Philly (Can’t wait to go home) then fly to Israel. But this is changed. We are flying out to Philly on Saturday and spending the night at my Aunt’s home before leaving for Israel Sunday night. Our flight goes from Philly to London to Israel, and I am thinking that on our long layover I might get a chance to visit with my uncles who live mere minutes from the airport.
The funny thing is that a new assignment has come across my desk today, well not literally as I have no desk and I was texted the message, but you get the drift.
It looks like my pastor is being put on night shift and will not be available in tomorrow to preach the night service. This means the duty of sharing from the word of God falls to me, and I now have a day to prepare. Perhaps a more intelligent person would simply dig into the log of sermons he has already written, or preached, but I am not that smart.
I genuinely believe God has something special to say to the people at my church that is different than a sermon I have preached in the past. So I am waiting on the Lord to speak to me. I am waiting for him to reveal his word and help me decide how best to share it. Mind you I might find out that Pastor Chris isn’t working tomorrow night and this might all become a moot point, but for the time being I have this sitting in front of me. Packing and preaching is my schedule for the next 24 hours.
So tomorrow night I need to have songs ready to lead worship, and the crazy thing is that I fully intended on introducing some new songs, but since I will be gone all month I decided against it. We will see if my ever changing mind switches again. Then I have to have a word ready, something that is solid and encouraging. (Last week I preached, and It wasn’t as encouraging as I wanted it to be it was more challenging)
Then I have to have bags ready to go on saturday. Fun Fun Fun! This will be a wild month and keep your eyes peeled for updated from the road and maybe a video blog from Jerusalem, because I think you want to see that glorious city.
This Wednesday begins the Festival of Tabernacles. This is an 8 day time of hiding away. It is a festival wherein you draw away from the world and you draw into the Lord. Many Christians feel they do not need to celebrate the Jewish holidays because they are no longer under the Law. However, this is not about salvation, grace, or anything of that nature; it is about doing the things that please the Lord, and getting closer and more intimate with him.
As Christians we should be eager in our desire to do what pleases God. We should be in love with him so much that we want to make him happy. The Hebrew name for Tabernacles is Sukkot. Sukkot is an eight day festival. In the traditional Jewish culture, they wouldn’t work on the first and last day of the festival. The other six days they would work, but when they came home they would honor the Lord in a special way.
The reason it is called “Tabernacles” is because the family would build a Sukkah or in English, tabernacle outside the home. It was a special meeting place wherein they would eat as a family and meet with the Lord. Who doesn’t want that? Who isn’t looking for more of God; for a deeper intimacy level with the Lord?
Aside from the time of drawing away to the Lord, this is also a time of remembrance. For the Jews, it was a time to remember that God drew them up out of Egypt and brought them into the Promised Land. For us as Christians, it is a time to remember how God brought us out of Sin (our Egypt) and into abundant life (Our Promised Land) We rejoice and reflect about the gift of God which has brought us out.
Now we as Christians obviously have a lot of difficulties following the ‘rules’ of tabernacles. I mean if we are honest most of us cannot just go to Jerusalem for the festival. Its just not feasible. What our church has done is to build a Sukkah in the sanctuary. Every night of Tabernacles we will have services in the building which will focus on worship and prayer much in the style of the international house of prayer. On the First and Last day of the festival as well as the Sunday in between we will be having family dinners at the church. The whole week the church will be open for people to come and worship and pray, and even camp out in the sanctuary. To escape from the normal life even if it is just for a portion of time.
There are specific scriptures you read on each night of Sukkot. There are also special blessings that you recite during this time. A detailed list can be found here: Hebrew 4 Christians – Sukkot
I don’t even want to try to count the number of times I have been asked “Where were you when you heard about September 11th?” With the decade anniversary coming up this Sunday, there is a bunch of discussion about it.
It was a rough day for me, and whether or not I like it, it was a time stamp on my life. It is a day I will never forget. Not because you tell me to remember, and have cheesy shirts and stickers and a crazy political agenda. No,I remember because that day changed my whole life.
2001 was a year of change and transition for me. I wasn’t really living for God as much as just calling myself a Christian. On July 7th my mother got married to Satvinder Kalley. This was a monumental shift in my life. Prior to this, we lived, for as long as I was able to recall, in my grandparents shore house on the Jersey Shore. (No not the guido-filled dump they call Seaside and MTV has glorified. The real Jersey Shore) My life was rather simple. During the winter I went to school, and during the summer I was at the beach.
When she married, we moved up to a town called Garwood which was closer to NYC. This was because Sat worked in the world trade center. You have to live near the place you work. That September I began high school. So September was already a challenging time. Just prior to September 11th, Citigroup moved Sat out of the WTC into an office on wall street.
Lets move to that monumental day. I was sitting in my spanish class with Sr. Gonzalez when the actual terrorist attack began. I remember when they made an announcement over the loudspeaker. Mr. Taylor (asst. Principal/Football Coach) Said, “I know that many of you are concerned about the attacks on the world trade center and if you need to talk to someone, please come down to the office and the guidance counselors and other staff people are here to talk with you. I know the images on the Television are scary and disturbing, but we are here to help you and we will get through this.”
Without blinking Sr. Gonzalez went right back to teaching spanish, which caused a bit of a riot in the classroom. Suddenly we were hit with this announcement about attacks in NYC, and he acted as if nothing was going on. The bell couldn’t ring soon enough. I needed to get to my next class to find out what was going on. Next was history with Dave Fosco, (in hindsight this seems fitting as we were seeing history unfold in a way no book could ever explain.) He happened to be my favorite teacher, and perhaps sadly, my best friend at the time.
So we sat, motionless, no one was speaking, I don’t know if any of use were breathing even. The news kept marking the time. 8:46… this kept swirling in my head. I knew that this was the time that Sat normally got into the city, the path train dropped him off at the WTC station and he walked a few blocks to his office.
I didn’t want to talk, I didn’t want to watch, I didn’t even want to think. I had just entered the best time of my life. I had a Mom & A Dad. We lived in a nice home, and had money. For the first time in my life I wasn’t poor. But none of that mattered, because Sat was somewhere, and I didn’t know where. It had to be a cruel trick. My life had really gotten good and suddenly it all seemed like it was falling apart.
Luckily somewhere in this time my mother came and picked me up from school. She decided it was best for me to be at home with her. We didn’t know what to do or think, we were just praying and hoping for the phone to ring, or the door to open. (this was before we had cell phones)
The phone did ring, it was my aunt in Pennsylvania telling us to turn on ABC and fast. So we did, and when we did, we saw him. standing there covered in ashes, with burning papers falling all around him. He brushed the dust off himself and kept walking. It was a moment of peace in the midst of Chaos. Literally and figuratively. For us it was the knowing that he was alive, but in reality it was that everyone around him was racing in a panic trying to get away and he just walked as if nothing was even happening. Later he told me, “I knew that God didn’t allow me to die when the attack happened, and that he would protect me until I got home. That knowing allowed me to be calm and make decisions that got me home.”
That day is etched in my memory, not because of videos on television, but because of a feeling of fear that I had never know before. But I saw firsthand God answering my prayers. You can say what you will, but that day changed me spiritually. It set me on a path that I am still on today.
I saw first hand what terror can do. I saw something more than just terrorism. I saw spiritual warfare manifesting itself in the natural. It wasn’t about the hijackers themselves. It was more, it was a war that has been raging for years between God’s people and Satan’s people. The hordes of Hell inflicted a spirit of fear and terror into the American people. They gave us reason to doubt.
That day changed me. I saw what evil was. It wasn’t some guy in a turban, though The Muslim ideology lends itself to terror. It was terror itself. I saw into the dark pit, a place I never want to see again.
Isaiah 61 never seemed more important to me. Here it is in the ESV:
Isa 61:1-11 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; (2) to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; (3) to grant to those who mourn in Zion– to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified. (4) They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. (5) Strangers shall stand and tend your flocks; foreigners shall be your plowmen and vinedressers; (6) but you shall be called the priests of the LORD; they shall speak of you as the ministers of our God; you shall eat the wealth of the nations, and in their glory you shall boast. (7) Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy. (8) For I the LORD love justice; I hate robbery and wrong; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. (9) Their offspring shall be known among the nations, and their descendants in the midst of the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge them, that they are an offspring the LORD has blessed. (10) I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (11) For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.
There is a war, and that day I became a warrior. This scripture is one that I stand upon. They tear down, but we rebuild. The attack, but we worship. They bind, but we set free. I had never gone on a missions trip before this. I didn’t even want to go to church. But, now I can say I have traveled the world. I have given my life to the cause of Christ, and many think I am crazy. I am not crazy, I am awake. I once slept, but then 9/11/2001 happened, and it woke me up. It hasn’t been all sunshine, lollipops, rainbows. It wasn’t always wonderful, but its real. I am living in the real world.
This Sunday will mark a decade since everything changed. Looking back I can still say everything has changed. I haven’t gone back to sleep. I haven’t forgotten. It’s not enough to have a memorial, a monument, and a moment of silence. If we really remembered, we would be proactive. We would be tearing down strongholds, breaking the bonds of fear and terror. We would set captives free. There were people I know who lost their lives in the terror attacks. Nothing I can do will bring them back, but I can work to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
It is time for America to WAKE UP. I am interning with Warring Dove Ministries, and we are currently on the WAKE UP TOUR! traveling around, sounding the alarm, and waking the people. My Friend John Natale is beginning his Awaken America tour this month. Awakening is a theme on God’s heart. Awakening is more than just good meetings with laugher and healings. (Not saying those are bad) Awakening is a shift. It brings people out of slumber and to alertedness. Are you Alter, are you on the wall as a watchman ready to sound the alarm?
10 years ago it took 19 Terrorists to awaken America. But I believe The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord wants to awaken us. If we do not change our course, we will see more terror, more disaster, and more fear hit our nation. WAKE UP PEOPLE!
I apologize if this has become a rant, but I got a little stirred up while reflecting and writing.
For some reason it takes me forever to get around to writing the weekend recap. But as usual, I am doing this as a part of the Sunday Setlist group over at The Worship Community. For 161 consecutive weeks the fine folks over at TWC have gotten worship leaders to share their sotries. That is over Three years. The Sunday Setlists program was recently named one of the best worship resources of 2011 by Worship Leader magazine. Congratulations guys! Well, enough piddling, let me get in the way back machine and go back to the weekend.
This weekend I led in both the Friday night and Sunday Morning services, and because we are a small church and I am training most of my musicians to play on a team, many of whom have never played on a worship team before, I did the same set on both services. The order went as follows:
- “This is Our God” Harbour Live (written by Justin Jarvis)
- “Now Unto the One” Evan Wickham
- “Our God” Chris Tomlin
- “Set a Fire” United Pursuit (written by Will Regan)
- “You are Holy” Radiant Worship (Written by Richy Clark)
The only new song this week was “Set a Fire” which I will include a youtube video of the original song at the end of this post. I am really loving the song this is our God. I have done it a few times recently and have done it as an acoustic song as I haven’t felt compelled to try and force electric guitar into our sets yet. I will one day soon, but so far I have held off because of our sound equipment (or Lack there of) It goes over well with the congregation because it is simple, and very singable.
“Now Unto The One” and “Our God” are always pretty popular, and the congregation is becoming familiar with them enough to know the words without thinking much, so they really are able to engage well.
“Set A Fire” is a great song, and really shouldn’t have fit where I put it, because its too much of a grooving song, but it worked perfectly here because it is such a simple song people could engage well. This also doubled as the offering song because The Pastors asked me to do a reprise (fancy musician word!!) That was a nice touch. It is good to get encouragement from your leaders.
“You Are Holy” has become a standard in our lineup lately because it is such a powerful song. The congregation always moves into that deep place of worship when we do this song and I am convinced that as we press in and sing about Isaiah’s vision of the Lord, eventually we will start having similar visions. Where the presence of God keeps building to a place where we need to repent because we see ourselves as we really are. It is such a powerful song.
As I have mentioned, we are a new church plant here in Lawrence, so I have been working to steadily introduce new songs to the church. Now we have about a dozen songs we have introduced, and it is nice to have a solid block to come from. My musicians are coming along well, and learning to play together. I am proud of them, because a couple of them didn’t play anything a year ago, and most of those who did, had never played with other people. I am seeing such progress that I know God is at work in my team.
I am thinking about getting the ‘Pure Praise’ study from Dwayne Moore and taking my team through it as a unity and vision building exercise, but right now most of us are tight on finances. So this might get pushed back a bit. Keep praying as we are trying to raise funds to build a proper sound system. We are in desperate need of Good PA speakers as both our speakers have blown tweeters.
That is what has been happening here at Eagle Rock Church in Lawrence, KS. God is on the move and lives are being touched. The church is growing, even if it still is the day of small beginnings.
Its nice sometimes to have a weekend off where you are not responsible for anything except sitting and listening. This is the kind of weekend I had. Friday night I went with my parents to their church PWAC and listened to a Lady preach about making God the center of our focus and that if we do this, our works should show it.
Yesterday, we drove up to Hilton Head Island to visit The Natale family. John is a traveling minister and his sons are in a worship band called Nusound Worship We talked and jammed some impromptu worship together. Nothing fancy, just friends having fun together. I miss having friends that I could sit an play with in that kind of relaxed setting. In other news I picked up Francis Chan’s new book “Erasing Hell” I got it yesterday and Sat read it overnight. He gave it a stellar review.
Then today I went to the church again, and my friend Russ Hutto was leading worship. He did a phenomenal job. I really enjoyed it. after the service we went and grabbed lunch together. I had never gotten to meet Russ in person, but it was Amazing to meet him in person and really experience his heart and passion. Normally I can only see his heart through pictures and 140 characters. It was refreshing to build depth to a relationship.
That has been what my weekend has been like, I have more thoughts I will be sharing later, but it is Sunday and I want to rest, so I am not doing a full blog. What about your weekend? What happened to you. What did God do for you in the weekend?
When leading worship, I lead from an electric guitar. I used to use an acoustic guitar exclusively, but somewhere around 2007 I switched back to my first love: The electric guitar. And what’s funny, is that I took my old Fender from high school, and just made it better for me and the genre of music that I was playing.
Now that particular guitar was not designed to be a versatile instrument at all. You see, I have the Tom DeLonge Signature Fender Stratocaster. It had a crazy humbucker and no tone knobs and was made to thrash, punk rock style. I was working in Pawnee, Illinois at the time, and living in Springfield. I decided to go to my local music store, the Rock Shop. The guys there took great care of me and helped me to customize this awesome guitar. We added a 59 Seymour Duncan humbucker, and a tone knob for better control.
I still only have one humbucker in the guitar to this day with zero plans of adding any other pickups. I’m a pretty big fan of the tone I get from the instrument and I haven’t been able to get that sound out of any other guitar until I picked up my Tele (ironically). I bought an American Strat and dropped the same humbucker in the bridge but that endeavor was not successful. That’s when I knew I was stuck with this surf-green eyesore. Well, that’s some people’s opinion…I think she’s beautiful!
I use a Vox Valvetronix VT100 2×12 Combo. It has some amp modeling capabilities and I set it to AC-30 for everything I play. Everything. Doesn’t matter. It’s on AC-30. I trust our Technical Director and resident audio engineer, Nathan Tobin, with my tone as well. He EQ’s the sound and also takes a separate channel and runs it through an amp modeler at front of house to combine it with my amp to give me an awesome sound.
Later I sold the American strat and bought a beautiful Nashville Telecaster. I use it almost exclusively now. I have my Strat as a backup. It’s a darn good backup though. This guitar sounds great, looks great, and plays great. I haven’t customized it at all like I did the Strat and I don’t really plan to.
I only use three pedals and only two are any kind of effects. I use the Boss DD-3 for delay, sparingly. I use the Dunlop JH-1, which is a Jimi Hendrix signature wah pedal. It’s great and I got it for free somewhere, maybe as a gift, so that doesn’t hurt. And of course, I use the Boss tuner. It’s almost mandatory, right?
That’s my rig. Very simple, it’s true. There are a few of reasons that I go with such a simple setup. One, I am a punk rocker at heart. I don’t feel a need to go overboard with effects because of that. Two, I came from an acoustic guitar, so one sound all the time feels right to me. (I control clean and dirty by how I play in to the instrument) And three, I have other guitarists in my band who play with effects. I serve as rhythm more so than lead, so I just don’t need much.
Jeff was kind enough to share a video that demonstrates his guitar tone.
Jeff Allen is a worship leader at Christ Church’s Collinsville/Maryville campus. He is married to his wonderful wife Brittani. They live in Belleville , Illinois. You can follow him on twitter by clicking here. To visit out his website Click Here.