Author Archive for

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

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03
Oct
11

How do you find a worship leader?

For many years I have received calls from pastors and search committees asking for help in locating a worship leader that would fit their church.  My initial response is always: what kind of worship do you have and what do you see as the need of your church?  Amazingly, they most often did not know what they really wanted or needed. This is difficult because not truly knowing the church or their culture always hindered my response. Early in my ministry, I would simply give out the names of people that I knew that were looking for a new position.  It did not take long to see that this was a flawed method and several times it ended in a catastrophe. That caused me to mature as a leader and now I seldom recommend people unless I know the church and the candidate well.  Even then, I am always a little nervous about the recommendation because I simply do not have enough background to know if it will work out.

 

Recently, I talked with a friend, Stan Endicott, about a new method of helping churches. It is called Slingshot Group and it is a network of multi-generational, multi-denominational, multi-stylistic people with a strong desire to see the local church and its leaders thrive and move forward.

How this works is thorough and powerful.  They come together, using their different skills and connections to “aim” churches towards health and excellence. They do this by offering strategic staffing & coaching services to churches putting the right leaders in the right spot and providing a conduit for God to work. I love this because everything is done prayerfully and intentionally.

When they began, Slingshot was focused on providing services for worship and creative arts ministries. Recently, they have started to expand to other leadership roles that include children, youth, and executive pastors.

As of this week, I have become one of this team of wonderful people. I believe God wants me to help churches in this manner and I am excited to be involved as a consultant. If you are a church leader, you really need to check this out. Slingshot not only helps you to find staffing, it helps you to really know what type of ministry will be best for your congregation. Our heart is way bigger than being just a staffing company. In everything we do, we want to encourage you, stand alongside you, and resource you. We’re making our online community a place where leaders can exchange ideas, advice, and stories on all things church-leadership while getting coaching, encouragement, and feedback from our Slingshot team.

I would like to ask you all to see for yourself what Slingshot is all about. I really believe you will find this to be an extremely useful tool for your ministry.

–       Like us on Facebook (link to: http://facebook.com/slingshotgroup)

–       Follow us on Twitter: @slingshotgroup  link to: http://twitter.com/slingshotgroup)

–        Check out our website (link to: http://slingshotgroup.net

29
Aug
11

When Do We Eat?

With 4 boys born into the Jones household, this is perhaps the number one question we have heard sounding in our home. Boys eat often and in huge quantities. With only one left at home now, we seem to hear it less – but it is still the question of the hour. The good thing is they want to eat and when they are hungry they will go to great trouble to get to food. Jonathan even drove our car to McDonald’s one time before he had a drivers license just to get a burger and fries.

I often wonder why we seem to lack having an appetite for God. Can you imagine only eating food once or twice a week? That is absurd. However, most Christians go to church once a week and that is all the spiritual food that they receive. No wonder the church seems to be suffering from spiritual malnutrition. When Jesus went to the wilderness at the beginning of His public ministry, He fasted and was very hungry. Satan approached Him and told Him to command the stones to become bread so that He could eat. Jesus replied, “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

I am not suggesting that you stop eating (although at times I need to really slow that down) what I am saying is this: are you getting proper spiritual nutrition? Are you living a supernatural life of power and victory? Are you feasting on God’s word and spending time alone with Christ on a daily basis?

Seek the Lord today and His will be found!!!

16
Aug
11

Who’s In Charge Here?

Leadership is an interesting subject these days…I was recently in a retail store and an angry customer came in the door shouting “who is in charge here?” I was in a big hurry, but I just had to pause a moment to see the response. Most of the employees in earshot scattered like dust but one young lady walked directly to the man and said, “I am not in charge but what can I do to help you?” Interestingly enough, the manger was standing very close to the action and never said a word. The customer laid into this lady who had responded to him and she stood there with a sense of purpose and dealt with the customer’s issue perfectly. As I left the store, I could not get over the way that this employee handled the situation. She was kind, helpful, confident, and in control. On the other hand, the manger looked fearful and totally disconnected from the situation that could have become very volatile.

So, who was in charge? I can tell you that title does not mean you are the leader. Leadership is earned – not given.  Many times we think that you do not have to act to be the leader…you simply have to speak. Not so. I have sat in meetings where the chairman, pastor, president, CEO, the person “in charge” of the room was not the person of influence. Leadership means you have influence in the situation. My dad used to say, “if you have to say you are the boss, you probably aren’t the boss.”

Jesus was our prime example. When he walked into a situation, people looked to Him. They listened to His words, they watched His interactions with people, and they followed His example. If God has given you a position, He fully expects you to earn the respect of those in your charge. Lead by example and you will earn the respect of those around you.

29
Jul
11

Can God Use Me?

I was 14 year old when God called me to ministry. It was on a Sunday night in August, 1969. Mr. Whitehead, a deacon at our home church, came to me that night and invited me to do a ministry with him the following Sunday afternoon. He said, “Jones – if you’re going to be in the ministry, you need to meet me here Sunday at 2 o’clock. Bring your guitar.” When I got there, I asked him, “where are we going?”  He mumbled, “we are going to jail.” When you are young in the ministry, you start out at the nursing home and the jail. In the nursing home they can’t hear you, and in jail they can’t leave…both are a captive audience. Sorry, bad humor.


This was the first time that I had been to a jail. As a young teen, I was pretty intimidated by the circumstances, but I was willing to go and sing my three little songs that I had prepared. When it came time to preach, Mr. Whitehead – with no advance warning – announced to the inmates that I was preaching. Wow!!! My first sermon was 11 minutes long and I told themeverything I knew about God. When I asked them if anyone would like to accept Christ, 7 out of 13 said yes. God taught me that day that it was not about me. God took the feeble words of a 14 year-old kid and brought hardened criminals to the cross.


As I left the jail, I was on a spiritual high because God taught me a valuable lesson. If God can use a 14 year-old kid that knew nothing, He can use anyone.


Yes, God can use you today and everyday. Make yourself available and God will surprise you with how much you can do for His kingdom.

22
Jun
11

Paul…Transformed Worshipper

Paul was the cornerstone that God used to help the New Testament church form the majority of its theology. His letters to the churches give both design and the basic parameters that keep event the modern day church focused. You do not have to read many of Paul’s letters to see he was a true worshipper with a deep understanding of the importance of worship in the life of the individual as well a the function of worship in the life of the church. He started and ended most letters praising, blessing, or rejoicing. He broke into praise in many of his letters to emphasis His dependence on Christ and his joy in the Christian journey.

In Philippians, the Book of Joy, he shows us how to rejoice from the prison cell. In Chapter 4:4 NASB Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! How can a guy rejoice from prison? He knew that his circumstances should not be the controlling factor of his joy.  I am sure he was not happy to be imprisoned but he saw that as a temporary state of being and that the big picture of his relationship to Christ and his future in Heaven could overrule his temporary inconvenient state of being. Have you ever been in a bad situation but found that you still had joy in Christ. When my Dad passed away several years ago, I was not happy, but because I knew that he was in Heaven and that he was no longer suffering and in pain I had a since of deep abiding joy. Happiness and joy are different entities. Happiness depends on your present circumstances but joy is dependent on a current vital personal worship life with Jesus.

Then in Philippians 4:8 NASB “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things,” Paul gives us a charge about how to fix our minds on the blessings of God. The phrase “anything worthy of praise” indicates that Paul wants people to recognize the goodness of God. He sees the benefits of praise and he wants each person to find the things that are good and give praise to God for them. The greater lesson here is that when the crisis of life arises, you have to dwell on the blessings of God so that you will gain the perspective that is necessary to survive the struggle. In November 2007, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I would love to tell you that it did not move me, but it shook me to my core. For several days I was in a faith crisis because I was never expected to have cancer. After the initial shock and the surgery that followed I sat in my living room with my wife Andrea and our friend Brian Duncan and God gave us several songs that have been used by the Lord to touch lives all over the world. The songs were about the power of His name, His mercy and how He is the source of our strength and help. Now I can give glory to God for his mercy and for his healing power.

Paul also gave a mandate to the church in Ephesians 3:20-21 NASB “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” Paul is clear that the ultimate purpose of the church is to bring honor and glory to Jesus. I understand that every local fellowship has it’s God given vision and plan from God but EVERY church must know that within its core values praise and worship must be a vital priority so that the church can stay centered on Loving God

26
Apr
11

Who’s in charge here?

While catching a flight to Houston, I was amused by an overbearing passenger who was not getting her way. She shouted loud enough for all to hear: “who is in charge here?” I was not close enough to hear the response, but I am sure that this was not the way to get her desires met. She ended up stomping off angry and indignant over the situation.

As I sat there waiting, I began to reflect on the bad responses I have had to circumstances that were not in my control. When things did not go my way I often have acted out my frustration. When I did not get the proper results, I have many times turned to God and cried out “who is in charge here?” Most of the time I get no answer, just silence. You see that question has already been answered – God is in charge here. He does not always do the things we think that He should, nor does He change what the master plan is just to make us happy. God is not going to adjust the tough times so we can have an easy life…God never promised easy; He promised fulfilling and abundant.

Being in charge is God’s job and He does all things well. Most of us want to have everything we wish for instantly. You see, God is not so interested in our comfort as He is in our character. Today instead of asking “who is in charge,” maybe we should ask “what should I learn from these events or circumstances?”




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