Category Archives: Worship

Dear Church…

istillloveyou

Dear Church,

Before I say anything else, I want you to know I still love you. I see you there hurt, wounded, beaten and broken. I know that people have been hard on you. Some of it you deserved, some of it you just got because people forgot how much you deserve love.

Let me be honest, things have been rough in recent years. There have been times when you haven’t looked anything like my Bible. There have been times you haven’t looked anything like Jesus. There have been times I wanted to give up and times I wanted to quit. I was ready to pick up a stone and take aim for your forehead. But I didn’t…

Some of your attitudes have left me wounded, and in my rejection and wounding it became easy to forget all the good you have done me over the years. Not only me, but everyone. So I decided to be intentional this year to remind myself of all your benefits.

You are a home. No matter where I go, or how long I am gone, Ms. Mary is always at your front door smiling waiting for me to come home. I don’t get that everywhere I go. Church, you are a home. You are a place that I miss when I am traveling. You are a place that my heart longs for when I am on the other side of the world. Church, I can’t wait to come home and tell you all the amazing things God has done in my life and used me to do in the lives of others.

Church, you support me. You push me to study my bible and really find out who Jesus is. Thank you for encouraging me to not only believe, but to have a “why” behind my belief. Thank you for pushing me to make the hard choices even when it meant hard times. You have pushed me to be more like Jesus than I would ever have pushed myself.

Thank you church for helping me express the worship in my heart. Every time I come through your doors we worship Jesus together. It is such a blessing. Sometimes my life gets busy and I forget to worship Jesus, but there you are, doors open wide and songs proclaiming Loudly, “I love you Jesus. I rejoice to have you as my Lord, and my Light.”

Church, I know sometimes we disagree on things. I know I struggle sometimes with the sermon that our pastor preaches. I know sometimes I don’t agree with every word that comes out of His mouth, but Church, you never let my disagreements keep me from coming. You encourage me to understand where our differences are, what differences matter, ad what differences are trivial.

Church, thank you for consistently reminding me to think beyond myself. I thank you for taking the time to remind me of the needs of my city, region, state, nation, thank you for caring about the world as a whole. Thank you for calling me to look into the darkness and see the light shining. Thank you for challenging me to engage the world as that light that I might bring vision of Jesus to the world. Church, this is what you do.

Church, we are a community. Sometimes we differ on what that should look like, but in the end, I need you. You need me too. We have a tough relationship, but I tire of how often people are quick to dismiss you. To throw stones and tell you all the things you need to change just to matter again.

CHURCH! I STILL LOVE YOU.

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Worship of 2014

So in 2014, I didn’t post much here. It has been a landmark busy year. I had the privilege of serving Eagle Rock Church as primary worship leader for another year. It has been a good ear with great people. I had the honor of leading worship at many conferences. I traveled all over the country. I got to serve alongside many great kingdom leaders like Kevin Basconi, James Maloney, Patricia King, Julie Meyer, Joshua Mills, David Herzog, James Durham, Michael Danforth, and more. I continued my on going work in Ciudad Obregon, Mexico, and set things in motion to do more missions work in 2015. All things considered it was a blessed year of serving the king.

2014 was a great year of worship as well. My friend Wisdom Moon shared a post called “Top 10 Worship Albums of 2014” over at AllAboutWorship.com. I linked it for your consideration. I wanted to take a moment to highlight some other ones I really enjoyed this year. The ones I highlight were not commercial successes at least in the sense of sales, but each one really impressed me with its quality. As is the case with Wisdom’s article. I will put these in alphabetical order.

Cageles Birds – Live at Home

Those of you who have followed my blog in the past will know I have a lot of lover for Jon & Melissa Helser. They recently signed on with Bethel Music to help produce and distribute their music. Coinciding with this Bethel re-released “On The Shores” which is possibly my all time favourite worship album.
However, at the begining of 2014. The Helsers got together with the band and their staff at this ministry base in North Carolina and collaborated on a group of songs. Then they gathered in Jon & Melissa’s living room and recorded these songs live from home. It yielded great songs including one of my favourites of 2014 “Mt. Zion
Housefires – Housefires I 
Wisdom mentioned Housefires II on his article, but thier first album came out in the begining of 2014 and was recorded in a home group setting mu like “Live at the Banks House” by United Pursuit. This album has some of the same songs from Housefires II but is much more stripped down and intimate in its tone.
Jake Hamilton & The Sound – Beautiful Rider
Jake has alwyas been enjoyable, but often his raspy voice and almost screaming vocals in worship have put some people off. In this album he still gets a bit of that but writes a few more mellow worship albums. The Title track “Beautiful Rider” is one of my favourites of 2014 and is my phone Alarm. It wakes me up every day reminding me that God is Beautiful and He is coming back for me.
Jaye Thomas – Here is My Worship 
Jaye is a friend and I had the honor of worshiping with him at my thursday night bible study recently. That was an intimate stripped down night where Jaye led from a grand piano in a living room filled with college students. However this album recorded live at Onething 2013 in Kansas City is a full scale recording with Jaye and His Gospel choir known as the Cry.
This album features several new renditions of familiar songs as well as some great new songs. Its blend of Gospel and modern worship makes for a unique experience that is well worth your time.
John Mark McMillan – Borderland
This album is not corporate but it contained one of the best corporate songs of the year “Future/Past” This album is great and explores new territory for John Mark and the gang. It is well worth a listen because it is just a musical marvel.
Jordan Marcotte – Leaning
Jordan is another firend and I have played and sang with and alongside him for several years. This album is R&B and Slow jams, but all worship and centered on the heart of God. It is such a style diverge from the vast majority of worship that it needs to be on everyone’s ipod.
Josh Baldwin – Rivers
Josh is a great worship leader in the Carolinas. This album is just full of corporate worship songs that really need to be sung more. I can listen to it end to end and then restart and not be bored. That is a joyously rare quality. It was one of my best finds of 2014.
Liz Vice – There’s A Light
Liz is one of the worhsip leaders at Door of Hope in Portland, Or. She is part of the Band “The Followers” with Josh White (another artist you need to know) This album has a soul/R&B feel that reaches back into the 60’s and 70’s but doesn’t feel lost or dated. I can’t recommend this enough. We need more like this.
Mark & Sarah Tillman – In My Bones
Mark and Sarah are another great couple from the Carolinas. This is their debut album but is so worth it. It has a unique indie feel that is accentuated by their natural flow as husband and wife. The closing track “Sing My Spirit” has brought me to tears more than once and helped me move through tough times in my life. Check this album out.
These are only 9 albums, and there are many great ones I left out. But these are ones I really felt compelled to highlight. Please take time to listen to them. buy the albums support these artists, help them make more beautiful worship.

Fight – Carlos Whittaker Album Review

fight

Today Carlos Whittaker, or @Loswhit as he is know to the twittering world, released His new album “Fight” today. For those who do not know Los, he is the father of two beautiful girls, a hilarious son who they adopted from Korea, and he is the founder of Ragamuffin Soul. I really like los. I follow him on social media, and I read his website regularly. He previous album “Ragamuffin Soul” was excellent so I was excited to check out His new offering.

Fight is a bit of a departure from his previous album. This album uses a lot more of the synth key tones. This is becoming a trend lately with Artists like Benjamin Dunn and the Animal Orchestra, Hillsong United, and others all releasing worship albums that have strong use of the synthesizer. To be honest I don’t mind this trend, but it doesn’t often wow me.

Fight is a ten track album. Rather than discussing each track, I wanted to point out a few of the songs that I really enjoy and then some of my overall thoughts on the album. One track that I really liked was “You Made A Way” This upbeat praise song was excellent, and it drips with Hope. The whole focus is to open our eyes to Jesus as our Hope and rock, and how He is drawing us to Himself, and made a way for us to be united with Him. This track really encouraged me in my spirit. The simplicity of the bridge struck me. “You will never leave us. Oh how You love us.”

It is followed up with my next stand out track. “You Bought Me.” This track grew on me. I didn’t like it the first run through because I thought the synth pads seemed out of place. However as I continued to listen through the album a few more times it really grew on me. This song features some amazing vocal work by Carlos. I really loved his soft tone here. The song is a psalm of thanksgiving, thanking Christ for purchasing us. I love songs of Thanksgiving. This one is something I am actually wanting to arrange acoustically to fit in my church services. It is a slower song, but the instrumentation is very dynamic with subtle builds that really draw your focus in.

I really liked the song “Don’t Give Up.” It had the ambient guitar feel that is found in a lot of worship, however it really makes this song fantastic. I love this tune because it is all about how awesome Jesus is and how He alone sustains us. It is softer, but it builds well and has a great bridge, “You’re the air that I breathe. The Life that I lead, from you. The song that I bring. The Life that I lead is worship.” I could sing that for a long time. I really love it.

The final Highlight I want to point out is the acoustic bonus track. “In The Arms (Acoustic)” This albums lets you hear it both ways. The electronic version didn’t really do anything for me, but this acoustic version is actually my favourite track on the album. It is amazing what arrangement can do for a song. This song in its acoustic form has a vibe similar to rend collective experiment, with claps, guitar, group vocals, and a bright over all feel. I love the hope in this song. “You will never forsake or desert us.” It is another one that I want to add to my rotation.

Overall, I thought this was an average album. I think the lyricism is great, but the musicianship at times felt like it was trying too hard to be trendy and that somewhat turned me off. I know that a few of these songs will have good radio appeal, and that is great because it will help Los gain more exposure. I give this a solid 3.5 stars. I do believe that it is available on Spotify. I would recommend you check it out. You might love it. One of my main issues is that stylistically I didn’t love the feel of the album, but you might love the synth key tones.

Special thanks to my friend Matthew Reed for sending me a prerelease review copy. Thanks to Loswhit for the opportunity to check out His new album. I always love seeing people creating new worship music, because it is them expressing their heart in relation to God.

Men and worship…

menandworship

So this week an article was shared by a few people I saw on facebook and twitter. The article was called “Why have Men Stopped Singing in Church.” I linked it so you can read it. But after reading it, I was very dismayed, and flatly disagreed with it in its entirety. It should be noted the article was written in 2011, but for some reason it has made a sudden resurgence in interest.

My first issue is that this is a very misleading title. I object to this for two main reasons. Firstly, this article assumes that Men have stopped singing in church. However I would argue that I know many men who sing in church heartily and with gusto. Secondly, only the final third of this article actually addressed the issue brought forth in the title.

The first two thirds give a history of congregational worship, and the author’s opinion on the current trends in congregational worship. (It is not a long article, please click the link and read it and you will have a better grasp of what I am saying here.) So, in order to address the article’s main point, Men singing in worship, I will first address the first portions of the article.

The first third of the article gives the history of congregational worship beginning in the time of the reformation when congregational singing was restored to the church, then the article discusses the use of printed Hymnals to give the congregation the words to the songs. He makes the assertion that by having the songs in your hand with the lyrics and the musical notation, it encouraged the whole of the congregation to join in musical worship. He also makes the assertion that because a hymnal could only hold a certain amount of songs, that we inherited our worship from our elders as a passed down tradition which encouraged us to sing more.

Then he makes a transition to modern worship. He discusses the computer projection of Lyrics onto screens or walls. Beginning with this point, he mentions that this no longer limits the number of songs we can sing. Up to this point I was fairly neutral on the article, but from this point on my opinion quickly dropped.

The author of the article begins to make the assertion that because we have projectors, worship leaders now introduce a new song a week, write songs of their own, sing songs they heard from the radio, etc… (Like I said you ought to read the article.)

I find some of these assertions are just false, and others are unimportant. So let me address them.

  1. Worship Leaders introduce a new song every week: false. I know that some do, but on the average it is not true. Many churches will only introduce one song a month, or one every few months, and rely on singing the songs that have already been established in the church repertoire
  2. Worship leaders write their own songs: True, but a nonissue. Not all worship leaders are writing their own songs. furthermore, every song was written by someone. Many psalms were written by David, many hymns were written by church leaders. In our current era, we find current church leaders writing songs for the modern church.
    1. David wrote the psalms in Hebrew, and likely in a style that was current to his age.
    2. Hymn writers wrote songs based on the style of their era. Classical, baroque, etc…
    3. Modern writers write based on styles that are current of this era.
  3. Worship Leaders do songs from the radio: True, but actually hinders the article’s point. The article is arguing that we don’t sing the new songs because we do not know them, but using the songs that we listen to on christian radio means the congregation has opportunity to hear them and become familiar with them outside the church (this is only a problem if your men do not listen christian radio.)

These Now lets continue to his next issue. He makes the contention that the congregation cannot learn the song if they do not have the notes in front of them. I think this is also wrong. I think that if a song is easy, a congregation will pick up on it after a few times through. I also think that it is sad that we assume someone can only worship if they know all the words and sing along one hundred percent of the time. When I am being led in worship, I am worshiping. I am centering my mind on Christ and I am meditating on Him. When I sing, I sing to Him. When I am silent, my heart is pondering Him. If a song is being sung that I do not know then I am still worshiping Him with my spirit until my mind picks up the words.

Perhaps the author of this article does not see thins in his congregation. I would then contend that some teaching on worship should be brought forth to help further explain worship beyond the mere singing of songs. This is important in any congregation, because worship takes many forms; singing, prayer, giving, obedience, etc… A person should be able to worship regardless of the song that is being sung.

It is at this point that the article begins to zero in on men specifically.  I am going to quote a whole paragraph directly and then discuss my issue with it.

But the negatives are huge. Men are doers, and singing was one of the things we used to do together in church. It was a chance to participate. Now, with congregational singing going away, and communion no longer a weekly ordinance, there’s only one avenue left for men to participate in the service – the offering. Is this really the message we want to send to men? Sit there, be quiet, and enjoy the show. And don’t forget to give us money.

I find this to be a very sad paragraph. Becuase of the author’s experience, he makes the assertion that congregational singing is going away. I find this to be false. I think the songs we are singing are changing, and the style is different, but I would reject the notion that singing is less.

I have been to, and lead worship in many churches across America. I have been in Pentecostal Churches, Presbyterian Churches, Lutheran Churches, Reformed Churches, Charismatic churches, Hispanic churches, white churches, black churches, and Asian churches… My experience across the board has been mixed. I have been in churches where congregational participation was low, and where it was high. I have noticed one thing, in my experience, in churches that encourage the congregation to join in and where the leadership teaches on the varied expressions of worship, congregational singing is higher. In churches where there is less teaching and encouragement to sing the participation is lower. I do not see congregational singing dropping, I see it mixed around the country.

Furthermore, I feel sorry that the experience of the author is that churches only want men to participate in giving money. This is very sad, but this doesn’t really seem to really directly address the issue of men and singing. It seems as more of an assumed tangential. I am very disappointed that the author of the article has had these experiences, I would however acknowledge that a lot of this article seem to show a fondness for the hymns of old, and classic traditions. I think if we look objectively past our bias of personal preference, we will see that it is not the use or lack of hymns that affects congregational singing, but rather a lack of teaching and encouragement from leadership helping people better understand the concept of worship.

I will end this article for today, but will comeback to it in a few days and address a few more common issues brought forth in a discussion of men and worship.

The Ultimate Act of Worship – Obedience [Updated Edition]

obedience

Last Year, I had the honor of writing an article for Ryan Egan’s website. The Title of the article was “The Ultimate Act of Worship – Obedience.” Little over a year has gone by and I am still thinking on this topic. So, I am going to update and expand this. Bear with me. If you read it a year ago, some of this will be a repost of my previous thoughts, but if you follow me down this trail, I think you will be blessed.

This whole thought process started with a verse.

“Samuel said, “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.”
1st Samuel 15:22

Obedience Requires Discipline:

Of course I have underlined the appropriate section that has sparked this. “To obey is better than sacrifice.” The word sacrifice was nagging at me. There was something there that kept calling me, and then I began to see it. For the Jews, their worship was formed in the sacrifices they made before the Lord. They were worship practiced given to Moses directly from God.

So when the Bible says this, we could infer; “To Obey is better than worship.” Lets hold that thought for a moment and come back to it.

As Christians we need to live a life of worship. We often equate worship with songs and music. When we do this, we miss the most important act of worship. We are willing to worship God as long as it doesn’t require work. Singing is simple: practically everyone does it whether it is public or simply while in the shower, but obedience is work. Obedience requires discipline.

The central theme of our Christian faith is the death and resurrection of Jesus. In his time of prayer before the whole saga began he said in Matthew 26:39,

“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”

This selfless act of service is the ultimate act of worship. Most people think of the cross as a great act of worship and it was, but the purpose of the cross was not worship. The purpose of the cross was redemption.

The real act of worship was found in this simple phrase. “…Not as I, but as You Will.” Right here, Jesus was worshiping His Father by submitting Himself and Obeying the will of the Father. Obedience is the highest form of worship. In the Gospel of John, we see a paradigm emerge.

“Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.'”
John 5:19

Obedience Requires Love:

Jesus told us, He couldn’t do anything by Himself. He waited till had caught the vision of God’s will. Then He simply did what God had revealed to him. This is obedience. Further on in John’s gospel Jesus passes obedience down to us.

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”
John 14:15

If we love, we will obey. Sounds pretty honest to me. But, Jesus asked us to keep His commandments, what are His commandments? Well, Jesus was being tested on his doctrine by the Pharisee’s when they asked him ”What is the Greatest Commandment” He responded to them, “Hear Israel, The Lord your God is one God and you shall love him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” Then he shared the second greatest commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This encounter can be found in Matthew 22:35–40, Mark 12:28–34, and Luke 10:25–28.

Jesus didn’t say the greatest commandment was to make sacrifices, sing songs, or even Go to the temple. He said that the greatest commandment was to LOVE GOD. Then commandment #2; LOVE OTHERS. The sacrifices are tertiary at best. Now this is not to say that Worship or Sacrifices are bad, and should be avoided. But God has said Obedience trumps worship and sacrifices.

We can sing all the songs we want but if we aren’t able to follow these two commandments we are missing the point of obedience as an act of worship. Now, I know there are more commandments than simply these, but we have trouble with these. If this is true, then we should be more concerned with Obeying the commandments of our saviour. We should be loving God and Loving others. Well, John has some thoughts on Loving God.  In the 1st Epistle of John, he has a discussion about love and say that if we do not love our Brother , how can we love God?

John, who I might add is the Disciple who Jesus Loved, tells us if We fail at comandment #2, how is it possible for us to pass commandment #1.

Obedience is Service:

This is harsh. obedience just got kicked up a notch. Jesus linked the first two commandments, but here, John almost makes them part A and part B. Now, lets add to that a little insight from Jesus’ own brother James.

“True religion is to love and serve the widows and orphans.”
James 1:27

James points out that true religion requires us to serve widows and orphans. Which I expand to mean help those who have needs that they cannot handle. A widow didn’t choose to be a widow, nor would any ever choose the life of an orphan. We who are blessed by our God have an ability to help them out.

Reading over the article I wrote last year one line stood out to me;

“Obedience is the key to worship. If we can learn to be obedient with our lives all other forms of worship will be increased.”

I do not know why but this just struck a chord in me. I do not even remember writing it, but it is very true. I find my passion rises as I serve others. As a missionary I am all over the world worshiping with people, but at the same time, I am working with them and serving them. As I serve, and pour my life out in obedience to God, I find the songs I sing, and my musical worship, gains more passion.

True worship is actively intertwined with justice. We as worshipers need to be not only musicians, but obedient servants

Please share practical examples of how we can be servants and worship leaders. If you know someone who is living this out, tell their story. I hope you have enjoyed this expanded edition. I hope it has spoken to your spirit and awakened a heart of a servant inside of you.


If you want to read the original post -click here-

Does Our Worship Honor Him?

Recently I wrote an article for All About Worship called “Does Our Worship Honor Him?” read it by clicking HERE I am a regular contributer there. Read it and leave comments. I would love your thoughts.

20 Sound Shapers – Worship that made me…

For My 100th blog post I wanted to do something special. So here it is.

Recently Worship Leader Magazine Released its list of the top 20 most influential worship Albums of all time. This sparked a new blogging trend among my worship leader friends. “The 20 Albums that Influenced Me.” Mike Mahoney, Joel Klampert, and Ed Rotheram, have all published theirs. Well, this is mine. Most of the albums here were released in this century. The reason for this is that I am only 25. In the year 2000, I was only 13, so it would be hard for many albums previous to this to really shape my sound. With each album, I will give you a brief explanation of why that album has shaped me. They are in order by Year.

  1. Rich Mullins – Songs (1996) // When I was a child, Rich Mullins was one of my favourites when I was a child, and I am very sad to see him fail to make a single list. The man had one of th greatest servants hearts. He had a voice that was probably a gift of the Holy Spirit, because it was that good. I am sure you know almost every song off this album. Many of these are church standards and have been covered. I love the mans voice, but his musicianship and arrangement is also brilliant. The Hammer dulcimer is a highly underrated instrument.
  2. Darrell Evans – Freedom (1998)  // I am honestly shocked that this hasn’t made anyones list. This was a brilliant album. with songs like “Trading My Sorrows,” “Freedom,” “I am in Love with You,” “Your Love is Extravagant” it shaped worship for at least 5 years. Many churches still sing these songs. It is truly a worship classic. This album also really ushered in the passionate lover side of worship. It probably wasn’t the first, but it was a big contributer. For instance “Your Love is Extravagant” was considered taboo by many because of its overt romantic themes.
  3. Robin Mark – Revival in Belfast (1999) // There is something to be said for Irish worship, and in 1999, Robin Mark showed us that. This CD had brilliantly written songs, but even more-so, the Celtic overtones it was a tonal masterpiece. I challenge anyone to listen to “Garments of Praise” and not find yourself dancing around the room during the instrumental portion. Simple as that.
  4.  Chralie Hall – Porch and Altar (2001)  // This album bridged the gap between contemporary worship and charismatic worship. Songs like “King of Glory” and “Holy Visitation” are just brilliant worship and are still ones I remember to this day. This album is a mainstay on my shelf, and now my ipod.
  5.  Jason Upton – Faith (2001)  // This album totally changed everything I thought I knew about worship. Most of these songs were not written for a congregation, yet they all cause congregations to worship. They broke the rules, and yet they worked. Jason went from a ‘nobody’ to a household name in the charismatic community. This album was just excellent all around.
  6. Delirious – King of Fools (2002)  // A list of influential worhsip would be a failure without delirious, and most people list “Cutting Edge, 1, 2, 3, 4” in thier lists, but I have to go with King of fools. I remember that this album came out right before Delirious came on their first tour of America. They opened for Petra, and I saw them in Cape May, NJ. It was an outdoor show and they did a stunt where they came running over the roof down a catwalk (fancy term for ladder) to the stage. Nobody at the show knew who they were, and had come for petra so I got right up to the stage where I got to shake hands with the guys. This was an amazing night and my introduction to the guys from delirious.. (when petra came out, it was only John Schlitt and some fill in musicians and they did a terrible show. So much so that people wanted Delirious, who had rocked, to do the encore.)
  7. Christ For the Nations – Glorious (2004)   // Hillsong had held the market down on the Big Team stadium worship feel, but by 2005 others were beginning to do it themselves. Between this and their 2005 album “Overtaken,” CFNI really shaped worship culture. This album had “Revelation Song” which went on to become a classic of modern worship. It also featured; “The More I Seek You,” “No Sweeter Name,” and “My Romance” This was also the album that introduced to both Kari Jobe and Rick Pino who went on to much success in the world of worship.
  8.  Jonathan Daivd Helser – The Awakening (2005)  // If you take Rich Mullins and Jason Upton and fused them together in a fugue of spirit and fire, you would come up with Jonathan David Helser. The Awakening was his debut album and was a live recording. On the whole I prefer the live albums to studio ones when it comes to worship, because a live album is an atmosphere. It is a body of believers united, and focused on the worship of the Lord and its amazing. This album is fantastic with a great mix of written music and spontaneous worship.
  9. John Mark McMillan – Songs Inside the Sounds of Breaking Down (2005)  // This album was perfect, it danced back and forth over the line of what do we call worship verses music. Some of the songs were very deep and passionate like “How He Loves” which didn’t reach the masses until 2010 or so. But some of the songs sounded like the kind of things you would hear at a local show at your neighborhood bar. It blurred the line because it wasn’t written for you and your church. It was purely the overflow of the heart of John Mark McMillan. He wrote what was in him and didn’t care if anyone else liked it. (Don’t worry, we did)
  10.  Justin Rizzo / Luke Wood –  EP (2006)  // Misty Edwards made a few lists for her work at the International House of Prayer. However, while I love IHOP-KC, Misty has never been my favourite. They have tons of worship teams and all of them are brilliant, but somehow Misty seems to be the queen. But, for me, Luke Wood and Justin Rizzo changed the game. All six of the songs on the EP were masterful, and I still sing “Glory Will Cover the Earth.” on a regular basis. This is the IHOP CD that really set them in my heart. (Both Justin and Luke have since release 2 albums each, and all of them are great. Another recommendation from IHOP is Jon Thurlow’s Strong Love album)
  11. Hillsong United – United We Stand (2006)  // Do I need to explain this? I don’t know many people who didn’t love this album, I think it is the best of any Hillsong album, youth or adult. Most of these songs have been covered dozens of times. And “Fire Fall Down” was a 10 ten worship song of its decade.
  12.  The Glorious Unseen – Tonight The Stars Speak ( 2007)  // In the midst of a worship revolution where Huge stadiums and large teams of pretty people is all the rage, 2007 brought the emergence of some of the best worship leaders and writers, yet they didn’t fit that feel. This album in particular was a much more drawn back album. It had the feel of an acoustic set you would do in your small group while being fully electric and meant for the full church. I listen to it all the time, and still find myself thinking about the songs here in my private worship times.
  13. Jesus Culture – We Cry Out (2007)   // This album was Jesus Culture’s breakthrough album. Building off of Hillsong United’s success, Jesus Culture continued to show that youth could have intense worship and passionate worship, and could set the tone for even the adults they worshiped alongside. While this song was purely covers, it showed the passion of the youth at Bethel Church. Bethel Worship and Jesus Culture are now household names in the world of worship. This would never have been possible if it weren’t for this album.
  14. Rick Pino – The Undiscovered (2008)  // Earlier I mentioned Rick Pino when discussing CFNI’s Glorious. However after graduation from the School of Worship at CFNI, Rick has gone on to being a highly popular worship leader, and has done events all over the world. This is his Third Album. I am not even sure if it is his best, but this album had some brilliant moments and pushed Pino out into new territories.
  15. Phil Wickham – Singalong (2008)  // This is one of the greatest live albums in worship history. A man, his guitar, and a church full of people. He blended his brilliant songs (face it Phil Wickham is a phenomenal songwriter and you are jealous of him) with classic hymns. It is simple, and passionate. Its just great. What made it even better is that this album was a free download. FREE. What could have easily been a 15 dollar purchase was given away to promote worship in the earth.
  16. Gungor – Ancient Skies (2008)  // Its interesting most people who chose Gungor picked his “Beautiful Things” Album, but I have to go with Ancient Skies, it was his transition album. It shifted him from the traditional modern worship scene where he fit with guys like Hughes, Tomlin, and such. Now he is a unique creative in his own right. This album had so much goodness that is often overlooked but worship leaders.
  17. Rend Collective Experiment – Organic Family Hymnal (2010)  // When discussing Revival In Belfast I mentioned that I love Celtic music, and this combines the Celtic music with brilliant Irish Folk. These guys are changing the way we look at worship because they are a constant reminder that worship is not about songs, but about how we live life together. The songs on this album are both upbeat and passionate. It shows us that passionate worship can be filled with pure Joy.
  18. Benjamin Dunn & Friends – Circus of Love (2010)  // I love Ben Dunn, I love his worship, and I love his heart. This is I believe his Fourth Album, but it was his first major debut and shifted from just him to Benjamin Dunn & Friends. The music here is overflowing with joy and goodness. If you haven’t gotten this album you need to.
  19. Will Regan & United Pursuit – Live At The Banks House (2010)  // In the same respect as Phil Wickham’s Singalong, this is a group of worshipers, playing acoustic together. It was literally recorded in a home, and is just an hour of pure worship Some brilliant songs here that are sure to become church favourites.
  20. Josh Garrells – Love War & The Sea in Between (2011)  // Josh did something fantastic with this album. This album is not at all Congregational. Many might argue that it isn’t even worship, but it is, its deeply passionate and persona worship that questions the universe and allows Josh to pour his heart out on the recordings. Best of all is that it is free. Just go to Josh’s website and get it free, because soon it will not be free anymore.

Well, that is it. 20 Worship Albums that shape my sound and my view of worhsip. i don’t think its even close to looking like any of the others that people have posted. I would love you to share some of your thoughts, and if you have written a blog post like this, please feel free to share the link in the comments section.

A week of Worship…

So I decided to wait till today to write this post. The reason for this is that we had several special services this weekend and had an African Missionary the past two nights. It was such a blessing, but also exhausting. I led 5 worship services this week and 3 of them were over an hour long. Since we did so many different worship sets, I will just make a list of all the songs we did, and the share some highlights of the weekend.

  • “Crash This Place” by Matt Reed
  • “This is Our God” by Harbour Live
  • “Like a Lion” by Daniel Bashta
  • “Now Unto The One” by Evan Wickham
  • “One Thing Remains” by Bethel Church
  • “Split My Chest” by Benjamin Dunn
  • “Song of Love” by Jaye Thomas
  • “Fragrance” by Nic Billman
  • “You Are Holy” by Radiant Worship
  • “Sing to Jesus” by Fernando Ortega
  • “Beautiful” by Phil Wickham

There were some interesting moments where we had a baby dedication service this weekend, and that brought in a good amount of people who do not normally attend church. This gave me an opportunity to bring people into worship who may never have gone into worship, and may never again. The problem? Our projector died this Sunday morning. So I was introducing a group of unchured people into worship with no words on the wall for them to feel more comfortable.

This past Friday was rough. It was one of the most difficult services I had led in a while. There was just a real difficulty engaging worship. Its hard to explain, but it was as if there was a brick wall in front of us and we really had to push for the breakthrough. But when we finally did, God began to move on the hearts of the people. Add to this the fact that as the evening went on, I began to feel more and more dizzy and nauseous. When the service was over I was exhausted and just ready to crash.

Our Saturday worship set was actually an  exhibition for our school of worship. We had an open house to invite people to check out the class and see if they would be interested in studying with us. It went well except for the fact that I was tired from the night before and the nausea I had experienced. Add this to the fact that it was 9:30 am.

The two nights with our African Minister, James Murunga were excellent. The first night was a challenge because A Hispanic church we are connected with decided to come, but many of them spoke little to no English so it was hard to get them to engage in the worship. Also since we didn’t know they were coming, we didn’t have a plan for translation. Normally we have a brother from a nearby Army base who is a fluent speaker of Both English and Spanish, and is such a gifted translator, he doesn’t need the speaker to pause, he just lets the speak and just interprets as they go. The lack of translation made the message not flow well. One of the men from the Hispanic church tried to translate, but he doesn’t speak great English and needed James Murunga to stop and explain a lot, so it was difficult. The second night we got a better solution for translation and James was able to move smoothly and shared a powerful word for the Churc out of Deuteronomy.

Overall I would say this was a fascinating but stressful week. Aside from the Services, we also did video recording at the church Sunday and Monday. Some of the churches we are connected with have been asking us to start producing DVD’s with some of our minitry teachings, especially those we do in our Bible School, so that they can use the videos to teach their churches. Also, having some more media will help us get more exposure for the ministry, and for our new Church Plant here in Lawrence.

A Wild Weekend

As always I am joining the crew over at The Worship Community. I am a big fan of the Sunday Setlist program because of the community building aspect, as well as the encouragement I receive when taking part and hearing what is going on in other congregations.

This was a special weekend because the Pastor’s were away in Indiana picking up their mother and grandmother who will be coming to spend time with us in Kansas. In their absence , They left myself and two other interns in charge. I, as always, lead the worship, but I was also left in charge of the altar ministry time. So it was a unique opportunity for me. But let me back up and begin with Friday night’s service.

As you may or may not know, Friday night is the service where we really go wild. Sunday mornings are more tame, because we know we will have visitors and people who might not be saved, and we aim our Sunday mornings to be  accessible to everyone and encourage people to find, and pursue Christ. Friday night is the night where we really pursue after him hard.

This Friday night I had a great set ready. I had given my team the weekend off because a few of them were on vacation for the holiday. So It was just me and my guitar. Nothing fancy, and nothing special. Here was the intended set.

  • “Crash This Place” by Matthew Reed
  • “Now Unto The One”by Evan Wickham
  • “Split My Chest” by Benjamin Dunn
  • “Sing To Jesus” by Fernando Ortega
  • “You are Holy” by Radiant Worship

As you can see this is a pretty great list, and I was excited. “Crash This Place” was a new track for the congregation, but it is a singable song that let people really engage in some praise and calling upon the Lord.

The next two songs went well and the church was really entering into worship. It was excellent as a worship leader to see such a strong response.  However, the real response began during the song “Sing to Jesus.” This is just a magnificent song and always seems to touch home with the people. As I was singing, Lisa (who is in charge of the Friday Night Services) felt the Lord tugging her heart to have communion, so she grabbed our deacon and they got the crackers and juice together before I had even finished the second verse of the song. It was impressive. Then I got the nod to play the melody, but stop singing as Pastor Chris came up and led the church in Communion. After he shared, I began to vamp on the first verse of the song while communion was being served and God was moving on the church. It was undeniable. Then we took communion together and waited upon the Lord with no music playing and nobody moving. We just waited as his sweet presence began to fill the room. I had been given the signal that after a moment or two I was to continue worship, and this was just a sweet interlude and not an abrupt end to worship. I began to feel in my spirit that “You are Holy” was the incorrect song for what God was beginning to do in the service. luckily, I had another chord chart sitting on the stand next to me. I had grabbed two songs as potential offering songs. (I usually don’t know what I want to do for offering until its time to do it.) I saw the song “Fragrance” by Nic and Rachel Billman. (Nic and his wife happened to be leading this weekend at a conference in North Carolina that my friend Kevin Basconi was holding) I knew it was the right song for the moment so I slid it over to my stand and began to play the chords slowly. I was probably at about quarter tempo. and slowly built it up to speed, I really didn’t want to disturb the atmosphere of his presence that had descended upon us.

As I finally got to tempo, I sang the song and went through it probably twice and led into the bridge. The bridge of this song is so simple, “Let the fragrance of our worship draw you in” as I sang this a few times, I suddenly shifted to simply singing “Let It Draw You In” and people were entirely engaged, some were worshiping, and some were on their knees engaging the Lord on a personal level.

It was about here that I noticed a signal telling me to keep going and just let it flow. So I vamped on the chords of that bridge Em – C – G – D and began to sing spontaneously from my heart. As I began to release the song in my heart, the cry that I had been holding in, his presence seemed to just keep increasing. So I just sang. I kept in with the theme of drawing him in, and his fragrance, but shifted to my own song to the Lord.

It reminded me in hindsight of Kevin Prosch’s song “I Really Love you” In that song, which was recorded Live at a conference, he sang a Chorus which was just the phrase “I Really Love You” repeated a few times, and then would go into a spontaneous verse. This is what ended up happening  with me. after a moment I found my way to the simple chorus “I coma Alive… when you walk into the room. I come Alive… at the scent of your perfume.” and would sing that a few times and then go back into the spontaneous verses.

Then after probably another 25 or 30 minutes I began to feel it was time to wind the worship down and so I draw down and gave the signal to Lisa to let her know I felt it was time for the word. She nodded back to me in agreement, and slowly made her was up to the podium.  We took a slow transition from worship into the word, but it was great. God really moved in power Friday night and it was awesome to be the Glass that he used to pour out his new wine.

Sunday Morning was much more straight forward. I replaced “Sing to Jesus” with Fragrance, and then ended the service with “You Are Holy” The service went well and when it came time for me to lead the altar ministry, a solid amount of people came forward responding to the message which was about learning to Live in the grace of God.

This past weekend was a wonderful time with the Lord, it was peaceful, and gave us rest. I am glad to see the presence of God active in our church.

Sunday Setlist

Once again, it is the time of the wek where I join other worship leaders around the world in sharing our Worship Sets from this weekend. If you want to join in the fun, please click http://www.theworshipcommunity.com/sunday-setlists-162/

This week we did not have a Friday night service. We canceled it and took anyone who was interested in coming with us to Kansas City to worship with another Church there. This church is based out of an accredited Bible College we are thinking of becoming a Satellite campus for. But that is another story for another day. Let us move to Sunday morning.

This Sunday I woke up and thought it was Monday. It took a bit for it to sink in that it was Sunday, but eventually I got moving and headed over to the church. Our set-list this week did not introduce any new music.

  • “Like a Lion” by Daniel Bashta
  • “This is our God” by Harbour Live
  • “Split My Chest” by Benjamin Dunn
  • “Fragrance” by Nic Billman
  • “Sing to Jesus” by Fernando Ortega

The songs on this list might not be familiar to all of you who are reading this, but I promise you that each one is packed with power. “Split My Chest” is one that many of you will not know. It is written by Benjamin Dunn, and it is a great song that basks in the love and joy of Salvation. This is one that just needs more exposure. Look for Benjamin’s music on itunes. You will be glad you did.

“Fragrance” by Nic Billman is another song that you probably do not know. Honestly I feel sorry for those who haven’t heard of Nic & Rachel Billman They are Worship Leaders and Missionaries to Brazil. Check out their music and support them. Their music will really pull at your heartstrings. I believe you can find some of their songs on youtube as well.

Daniel Bashta’s Album is finally ready to release I believe next week. So if you can, get that too.

But I digress, back to discussing the worship experience. The congregation knew most of these songs well, and responded well. You could definitely feel it as the Presence of God ushered in and changed the atmosphere. The last 3 really went over well. Especially the final song, “Sing to Jesus” we camped out on that song for a while and then ended it with some spontaneous worship, and people singing in the spirit.

It has been interesting taking this journey as a worship leader at a church plant. Several of the people in our currently small congregation are not ‘active’ worshipers. In saying this, I am not saying they do not worship, but they tend to sit and sing, rather than clapping, jumping or dancing, or any other outward expressions of praise. This at times can be discouraging. Especially when I am leading a song that makes me want to toss aside the guitar and bust a groove, but then there are things that make it all ok. This past sunday, one of those happened when one of my ‘passive’ worshipers came and told me how much he enjoyed the music and liked the songs I was doing. I could tell in his voice that he was really being touched by the worship.

This experience is one of the best, and reaffirms why I am doing this. How did your services and worship encounters go?