Archive for August, 2010

31
Aug
10

Engaged Worship for the Instrumentalist

It’s another early Sunday morning.  There is a cheerful din of banter and laughter in the halls as we finish our morning rehearsal and prepare for service.  Our worship minister has prayed and invoked the image of worship and projecting Christ to the broken.  As the curtain opens and the count-off has begun, in my most worshipful state, I say a small prayer… “Dear God, please don’t let me play a wrong note! Amen.”

Sound familiar?  As musicians, we are brought up to consider what is important about our playing that makes it “good.”  It is usually as simple as “Play the right note, at the right time, with the right articulation, at the right volume, in the right intonation, with the right tone.” Easy enough, right?

If your training was anything like mine, you come to be more and more aware and critical of these elements that make one “good.”  This mental framework of over-analyzing – though reflective –  can create fear-based performance.  Because God has not given us a spirit of fear, that also means He has not given us fear-based performance. Then how should we prepare our hearts and attitudes for meaningful worship?

We should always be reminded that GOD DOESN’T CARE ABOUT HOW GOOD YOU SOUND.  GOD DOESN’T CARE ABOUT HOW MANY NOTES YOU CAN PLAY IN AN EIGHT BAR SOLO.  GOD DOESN’T CARE THAT YOU SAT 1ST CHAIR IN THE ALL-REGION BAND 4 YEARS IN A ROW.  God cares about the condition of our hearts, and we must be about giving Him the worship He is due as though EVERY NOTE was a personally crafted gift to Him.

It’s another early Sunday morning.  There is a cheerful din of banter and laughter in the halls as we finish our morning rehearsal and prepare for service.  Our worship minister has prayed and invoked the image of worship and projecting Christ to the broken.  As the curtain, opens and the count-off has begun, in my most worshipful state, I say a small prayer…“Dear God, thank you for the gift of music.  I give it all back to you in praise.  This token of worship is for You: every note, every rhythm, every articulation, every volume, every phrase. Amen.”

Casey Newman is employed full-time as a middle school orchestra director at Kreuger Middle School, San Antonio, and has faithfully played keys and served as Instrumental Worship Assistant at CBC for several years.

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30
Aug
10

Procrastination – The Sin of Delayed Obedience

OK, so this is a topic that hits close to home… I have not written to you guys in over 6 months and it has kept you uniformed and it has impacted us indirectly because you did not know how to pray for us or minister to us. Now that I have to make a public repentance, let me tell you what led me to this humbling experience.

For the last 1 ½ years I have been teaching through the Book of Genesis and as I came to the end I was moved by the last words of Joseph before he died. Knowing that his influence in Egypt was going to fade and that the new Pharaoh was not going to have the same feelings about his family as before, Joseph gave a subtle suggestion that his brothers might want to take their families back and resettle the land that was promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

After Joseph died, they embalmed his body and put him in a casket in Egypt. Obviously they made the decision to stay because they had it so good in this foreign land.  As time passed it all changed and they be came the slaves of the Egyptians, and for nearly 400 years they suffered oppression and slavery all because they procrastinated in reclaiming the Promised land. None of us really knows why they did not move on but these people are probably much like you and I…when things are good or even acceptable, we have a tendency to stay put.  Even when God speaks to us about doing something, we rationalize that we will do it later or at a more convenient time.

Now this story begs the question for us…what is it that God has shown us to do that we have neglected or procrastinated? Is it spending time alone with God?  Do you need to work on your relationship with your spouse or children? Has God shown you a ministry you need to do but you have put it off?  Is there a neighbor you have yet to invite to church? When was the last time you got a check-up from your doctor?

If you are like me, my list is growing with each passing moment…not to worry. Just start with the thing that is most important and work continuously through your list. Let God lead you to a place where you are up-to-date with your obedience to Him.

26
Aug
10

Use Your Gifts for the Work of Ministry

“And He (Christ) Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers…” and musicians, and greeters, and (church) parking lot attendants, and maintenance staff, and church bus drivers….the list could go on and on.  The point is that God has given anyone and everyone certain gifts – the combination of which is individual to that person.  WHY?  Read on…. “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”

(Ephesians 4:11)

Wow, just think of it:  God has given each of us an individual set of gifts and talents to use to glorify Him in our lives and to tell others about Him so that they, too, can experience the sheer joy of discovering their own individual set of gifts.  Then they can work to improve and utilize their skills as their contribution to the ‘building up of the body of Christ,’ and strengthening others in their faith.  God has given you talents and gifts…use them to glorify Him and He will bless you for it.

Blessings to you today!

Ron Blount

25
Aug
10

Bring It!

We had our Kids Choir volunteer meeting last night. Over 75 people gathered to pick up T-shirts, teaching packets, rehearsal CDs and sugar cookies in the shape of our themes.

The Pre-K Kinder cookies were stars – they will “SHINE” for Jesus this semester. The 1st-2nd Grade cookies were cars – their theme is “Worship in Motion” and I have written a song replete with car horns, brakes squealing, and car crashes called “I’m Gonna Go (The Car Song). Gotta keep the boys in mind! 3rd-6th Grade’s theme is “Bring It” and their cookies were megaphones. This is the title of the new Kids Choir CD that will be released April 2-3. For our fall worship event, the sanctuary stage will be transformed into a giant pep rally with cheerleaders and football players urging our congregation to bring their praise. The song is another original that starts with this challenge: “You say you really love the Lord? I say ‘Bring it!’” With cheerleading pyramids and tumbling, some urban rapping (and maybe even a drum line), anyone in the house will know they have been invited to worship by 350+ kids. That’s November 20-21.

I gave our leaders and assistants a challenge of their own. We read them a story about Peter and John healing a crippled man at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple. Acts 4:13 tells us that “the members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training. The also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus”. To be an effective minister/choir director/volunteer, the most important criteria is not talent or education. The most necessary thing is to be a lover of Jesus – to spend so much time with Him, that even non-believers can recognize His imprint on our lives. We should be full of Holy Spirit power and teach with great authority. We should have the radiance of Jesus on our faces as we worship so that the kids are drawn into His presence.

Fancy themes and cute songs and high energy presentations don’t mean a thing if we don’t teach our kids to worship. And we can’t teach the kids to worship if it isn’t a regular practice in our own lives. You say you really love the Lord? I say “Bring it!”

24
Aug
10

Written On Our Hearts

But this is the New Covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord; I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people.” Heb. 8:10

Under the Old Covenant, given by God to Moses, worship was a system of rules and regulations to be followed precisely according to the pattern. I was only a shadow of the real Christ and provided only limited access to God.

Under God’s New Covenant, his law is written on our hearts. Worshipping Him is what we desire with all our heart and mind.

When the pharisees asked Jesus, in Matt. 22:36-38, which was the most important commandment in the Law of Moses, he replied, ” You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind. This is the first and most important commandment.”


When we begin to understand how much God loves us, we are compelled to love him in return.


In the beautiful hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul,” by Horatio G. Spafford, there is a line that says, ” My sin, Oh the bliss of this glorious thought, My sin, not in PART but the WHOLE, is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more! Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, Oh my soul!”

If we were commanded to worship God , under the LAW…how much more should we worship him now, under the LAW OF GRACE, which is written on our hearts!

Mary Alice

24
Aug
10

Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphone Shootout!

Hi Gang !

For our “12-singer” sessions here at CBC, we usually put a Shure SM81 microphone in front of each singer.  Well, we only own five SM81s, so we have to borrow the rest.  Instead of buying 7 more SM81s (at $300 each) I have decided to experiment with some other small diaphragm condenser mics that might be BETTER for this purpose.  I did a lot of research and listened to examples on these websites:

http://www.flatpick.com/microphonetest/

http://www.mikejasper.com/proaudiobay/SDShootout/intro1.html .

I have ordered four new microphones that I will compare to the Shure SM81 that we now use.  Those mics are:

Audio Technica  4021 ($250 from Amazon.com)
Octava MK-012 – a Russian microphone ($260 from RecordingServices on eBay)
Shure KSM137 ($249 from ProAudioStar on eBay)
Shure SM94 ($163 from Amazon.com)

I will do vocal recordings with each of the new mics and let you know which the winner is!

23
Aug
10

What Does God Think About My Worship?

I recently had a conversation with a professional musician who plays in a secular band for a living. He had become a Christian a few years ago and started attending local churches to find one that was good for his family. As they were church shopping, he noticed that some churches were really big on presentation – and he appreciated that from a professional standpoint. Then he noticed churches that were big on passion in worship. His observation was that those churches had lesser quality in music, but greater impact on the heart. That really made me evaluate what he might get when he came to CBC (he lived in another city and has never been to our church).

As I began to evaluate this topic, questions began to build up in me.  Are we a production church or a passion church ? Is our music prepared to impress the audience or is it geared to impress God? Is my heart pure or am I just interested in a good performance?

Let me ask you…what kind of worship leader are you? What is the intent of your heart? Who do you want to impress? What are you teaching those around you about worship? Is this about style or is it about engagement?

Hard questions?

My final take on all of this came pretty quick. Why can’t we do both? We need to go with passion and engaging the people in the act of worship…but I really believe if that is placed first, then it is also important to give God our best offering. So presentation is not unspiritual – it just should not be our motivator. Bringing God an excellent gift with a right motive is a good thing and we should challenge our people to excellence.

I think this topic is going to need some more discussion…

What are YOUR thoughts?




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