Archive for December, 2011

19
Dec
11

Make Some Noise

With trumpets and the sound of the horn, shout joyfully before the King, the LORD. (Psalm 98:6)

A lifelong dream came true for me in 2010. I was raised in Louisiana and spent a great deal of my ministry in New Orleans. My favorite football team, the New Orleans Saints, won the Super Bowl for the first time in history. You may not be a sports fan or a Saints fan, but the Super Bowl was particularly big for New Orleans. They had been trying to win a Super Bowl since 1966. For all those years they were known as one of biggest sports losers in history. Fans even wore bags over their heads to games because they were so embarrassed about how bad the Saints were. I saw it firsthand.

When they won the 2010 Super Bowl, I shouted. In fact, I shouted so loud that I think the whole neighborhood heard me and I didn’t care. I was traveling the day after the Saints big win and I saw some other New Orleans Saints fans in the airport. We all started shouting again. The Saints deserved my shout and I gladly gave one up for them. I had fun! I was unashamed and uninhibited when it came to giving a victory cheer for my Saints!

We use our voices to communicate both the positive and negative. Our voices express our deepest passions and our most important concerns. My dog, Cooper Jack Jones, once broke into our storeroom and pulled the kitty’s bed out into the yard (among other things). I gave Cooper Jack a lot of my passion that day. I confess I shouted my feelings about the situation. My dog heard my voice and he immediately got the message. With great remorse, he seemed to repent of his evil deeds toward our kitty and me. His deepest desire was to be my friend again. My point here is that my shout showed my passion about the situation and it got a positive response.

We live noisy lives. Most of us are relieved that making noise is not a requirement in order to know and worship God. A familiar Psalm even gives us permission to be quiet as a part of our active worship: “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10 ESV). At times, God chooses to speak and move in quietness. He is God; He can speak any time and any way He chooses. But to engage God fully in worship, making a joyful noise with our voices is a vital next step.

Worship is loving God. I don’t want to make worship more complicated than necessary. Yet a refusal to engage God on a more passionate level with our voices could be a heart-issue disguised as a preference. You may say that’s just not me as your reason for passion-less, voiceless worship. Make sure your lack of passion is not a stubborn, prideful heart-issue.

Will You Worship?

Psalm 100 describes a passionate expression of worship demonstrated through our voices: make a joyful noise to the Lord. Noise is used in the original Hebrew language to describe using one’s voice as an alarm or a war cry. Our voices are described as instruments of worship we use for God just like a guitar, piano, or violin. You never raise your voice unless you are passionate about something. This verse gives permission and a command (whichever you need) to be passionate about God, and let Him know it with your voice.

 

Notice Psalm 100:1 does not say shout about the Lord but shout to Him. We use the term vertical worship to describe an important principle that will help you grow as a worshiper. In the past, our worship gatherings have mainly focused on singing about the Lord. Some precious and meaningful songs have been written that way. However, the next level is singing and shouting to the Lord, or vertical worship.

 

Vertical worship is our faces looking upward to Him and our songs being presented to Him. He is the audience when we worship and we make our presentations to Him. In the first week of WYW, I told the story about my revolutionary discovery: worship is our ministry to the Lord. We see this principle of scripture repeated again in Psalm 100:1 – as we do throughout the Psalms. The next level in our worship is engaging God directly when we worship. Praise is His and He loves to hear it. Such shouting comes from a heart full of joy.

Why does God seldom move us as deeply as a football team or a mischievous dog? God deserves our loudest cheer and our deepest passion. A victorious war cry given to God is in order! Not only is God winning but God wins! Give your best noise to God with joy and abandonment. Go beyond the token or obligatory offering of praise and singing. Be bold in your expression so that God will know of your passion for Him. One thing I can promise you, God will never grow weary or impatient with you for being too excited about Him.

 

Excerpts from the book “Will You Worship”  by Ray Jones with Dino Senesi

Available at http://www.cbcmusicstore.com

14
Dec
11

Playing together…not just at the same time

I taught private drum lessons for many years.  Like any instrument, unless you plan to play by yourself and (in the case of keyboard and guitar) you intend to only play by yourself forever, it is important that you also learn to play in an ensemble setting.  Not only playing at the same time, but together.  In the beginning, so many garage bands start out sounding like an orchestrated train wreck…mostly because each of the players is concentrating more on playing all the hot licks he/she knows rather than listening and learning to be a part of a single (unified) ensemble sound.  With everyone playing all of the time, there is no clarity and the overall sound is always too loud and too busy.

As this relates to drummers, it means that your first 3 instruments are the kick drum, the snare drum, and the hi hat.  Tom-toms and cymbals are unimportant, because your first job as a drummer is to hold the band together.  Simple, basic time patterns on the drums are what hold a band together.  More toms and more cymbals don’t make you a better drummer.  Practice with a metronome (and stick with it!).  Metronomes don’t lie.  They keep a steady beat, never going faster or slower.  Practicing with a metronome will force you to learn and understand what it means to keep a steady tempo, and you’ll hear when you rush or drag because the metronome doesn’t lie!

The two most important fundamental factors that will make you a good drummer are: 1) the ability to keep a steady tempo,  and 2) the ability to draw consistently good, uniform tones from each of the instrument…that is, knowing how and where to strike each instrument in order to get the best response from that instrument every time you hit it.  Please understand that there’s a LOT more to playing drums than it looks like from a distance.  And having more drums/cymbals/other doo-dads doesn’t make you a better drummer.  That just proves you spend more money on toys.

If you want to test yourself, try removing all of the toms and all of the cymbals (or maybe all but just one 🙂 for your next practice session.  That will force you to listen to yourself and to work on getting consistent tone from the kick, snare, and hi hat (also the one optional crash cymbal).  Practice with a metronome.  Play for long periods of time ( 5-7  minutes ) at a time, to test your patience.  I promise it can only HELP your drumming.

Last thing: Remember that in the ensemble/band setting, you are the conductor and rhythmic foundation.  If you don’t have your act together, the band will always struggle rhythmically, and will probably not last long as a unit.  If you do your job, then the rest of the guys probably won’t be asking you to move on.  Also remember:  less is more – there is always room for more.

12
Dec
11

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas

I used to like Burl Ives. Really, I did. I anticipated the Christmas season with great fervor and started each season off with Emmy Lou Harris’ “Christmas Time’s A-Comin’.” The impetus for this Christmas unveiling when I was a young adult was the first cold snap when I had to light the pilot light in my furnace. I would stand over the grate in the floor and as the heat rose up, I would sing along with my Emmy Lou Harris Christmas album at the top of my lungs. It was glorious. It was always the first Christmas song I played; it was always the first Christmas song I heard each year. I controlled how Christmas was doled out because years ago, merchandizing had not started cramming it down our throats. I was very selective with the music and reserved it for the Christmas season only, the one and only exception being this annual personal heater lighting ceremony.

Now I’m afraid if I hear Burl Ives sing “Holly Jolly Christmas” one more time, I will pummel the next five shoppers I see. The song brings out the Scrooge in me. I don’t want to buy gifts anymore. I don’t want to be within ten miles of a mall or even the grocery store with the incessant sound tracks playing. I just want to be with my family and friends. And most of all, I want to worship the Christ Child. The Savior of the world. My Savior, my God and my friend.

It is our job as worship leaders to cut through this squandering of Christmas. To put right the aberration of the purity, the simplicity of the story of “God who came to live with us.” We may be tempted to entertain the people as they walk in the door for their twice-a-year trek to church. We may be tempted to stick with tradition and not dig too deep into abandoned worship. We may be tempted to go easy, so we won’t scare them off.

But what do you think those shepherds did in that stable? Do you think they sang some four hundred year old song about the promised Messiah? God was laying right there in front of their eyes. Angels were splitting the sky open with their celestial praise; the glory of the Lord filled the atmosphere. I think they were dumbfounded with a standing in awe kind of praise that erupted in earnest and spontaneous thanksgiving. I’m pretty sure it was not very holly jolly at all. I’m pretty sure it was profound.

Don’t get me wrong. Christmas is light-hearted too. The Light of the World banished sin and death and brought us new life. We absolutely need to celebrate the birthday of the King. Throw Him a party! Dance and sing! But do it from a place deep in your heart that screams out “I love You! Thank You for coming to save me!” Then take time to usher in the Holy Spirit, the Wonderful Counselor, the One who heals and comforts and reveals all truth. And be contagious about it. Drown out the sounds of the world that tells us we can buy Christmas. Drown out the lie that we can “have ourselves a merry little Christmas and all our troubles will be out of sight.” Minister to someone whose circumstances contradict any hope that their Christmas will be holly jolly.

The bottom line: Worship this Christmas. As you sing the words to those traditional carols, full of truth, full of theology, full of life, MEAN them. Spend time with your family reading prophecy and its fulfillment. Spend time with people that need your faith, need your spirit, need your joy. Make the season holly jolly for real.

05
Dec
11

Our Eternal Joy

Worship is not a fad but an eternal practice. Worshiping on earth is like practicing for heaven. I’ve talked about heaven a lot over the years. Jokes and stories about seeing loved ones are common parts of every day conversations. We don’t have a lot of word pictures of Heaven in the Bible, so there is some degree of mystery about what Heaven will be like. Heaven is really beyond our imagination and like nothing we have ever experienced. What pictures we have in Scripture include sitting around the throne adoring Jesus – the One who got us there!

John, in the book of Revelation, described the most sensational worship experience in history. The time, date, and place are yet to be determined. Notice the focus was not the method of worship or even the worship leaders. The band, sound, and style are incidental. Worship is focused on the most worthy Lamb of God! And He is the focus of our worship now, too. How much relational tension in churches would be bypassed if the Lamb became the single focus! My friend, Dennis Jernigan, wrote a worship song that captures this sensational worship experience in Revelation.

We Will Worship

We will worship the Lamb of glory We will worship the King of kings We will worship the Lamb of glory We will worship the King

And with our hands lifted high, we will worship and sing. And with our hands lifted high, we come before You rejoicing. With our hands lifted high to the sky, when the world wonders why, we’ll just tell them we’re loving our King…oh, we’ll just tell them we’re loving our King. Dennis Jernigan

Read through all of Revelation 4-5 if you want to enjoy a great personal worship time. John described the worship this way:

“And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” (Rev. 4:9-11)

“And every created thing which is in Heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, ‘To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.’ And the four living creatures kept saying, ‘Amen.’ And the elders fell down and worshiped.” (Revelation 5:13-14)

What a picture! Can you imagine the scene in Heaven? Worship is the natural response to someone we adore. We cheapen worship when we try to guilt or manipulate people into being excited about Jesus Christ. Worship is so much greater than manufactured experiences. Worship is discovering who Jesus really is face-to-face. Authentic excitement follows that great discovery. God longs for us to worship Him unashamed, unhindered, and unforced. When we are truly with Him (Revelation 4-5), we get to that incredible place.

Christian musician and worship leader, the late Keith Green, once asked the question, “Will we be bored in Heaven?” In his article, he made a powerful and convicting observation:

“The Lord made me realize recently that if I do not absolutely relish His company now, desiring to be with Him more than anyone in the whole world, then I would not really be comfortable in heaven at all – for it is there that we will spend all eternity in the company of the Holy One who made us.

If you don’t like worship here, you’ll be miserable in Heaven! You will be bored stiff! We will adore the One who loved us first for eternity. Revisit these great passages that reveal who Jesus is. Reconsider where you are in your relationship with Him. He will ignite a new flame of passion for Him when you do.

 

 

Excerpts from the book “Will You Worship”  by Ray Jones with Dino Senesi

Available at http://www.cbcmusicstore.com Dec. 17




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