“The crowds joined in attacking [Paul and Silas] and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks” (Acts 16:22-24).
Have you ever been in a completely unfair situation? You were trying to do the right thing and still, somehow, you found yourself trapped, snared by circumstances beyond your control.
Wounded, disappointed, damaged, you are detained in the dark; feet in chains, freedom denied.
“About midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s bonds were unfastened” (Acts 16:25-26).
At the blackest point of the night a glimmer of hope appears: you find your voice. You open your mouth in prayer and song. I don’t know what exact words you use, whether you cry out in lament and sorrow, or rejoice in faith, or rehearse God’s faithfulness.
But God moves the earth in response and the very foundation of what has been locking you up is shaken to the core.
And the most beautiful thing accompanies this miracle – there is not only freedom for you, but also for everyone around you. You have unknowingly sung songs of deliverance over a whole community.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed…
Open your mouth in a God-song today and see what happens.
I dare you.
Posted in Life, Thoughts, Words for Worship Leaders
Tagged Acts, Christian devotional writing, christianity, deliverance, freedom, God, music, Paul and Silas, prison, songs
Humility answers many of the questions that can surface in the heart of a worship leader…
What if I make a mistake? What if I’m not good enough? Am I too dependent on other people’s kind words? Do I take suggestions of change as criticism? Am I getting proud in my own abilities? Who am I to be leading these people into God’s presence?
The heart of humility lies in undivided attention to God, a fascination with the beauty revealed in creation, a contemplative presence to each person who speaks to us, and a “de-selfing” of our plans, projects, ambitions, and soul…
Humble people are without pretense… the awareness of their spiritual emptiness does not disconcert them. Neither overly sensitive to criticism nor inflated by praise, they recognize their brokenness, acknowledge their gifts, and refuse to takes themselves seriously.
(Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust p.120-121)
The first person we ever lead in worship is ourselves.
We take the time to tune and retune our hearts to God’s heart. Every day, we consider what must be ordered and reordered so our lives look like worship.
Just as we help the people we serve to lift their eyes off themselves and onto Jesus, we fix our own eyes there first.
We are then free to enjoy our gifts without being proud – we know where they came from.
We are free to admit our broken, empty state - we have nothing to hide and we know who is able to forgive and fill us.
Our mistakes don’t become our focus – we know whose grace will cover them.
Our Savior is the one who defines us and we have integrity as we aim to live out lives that are worship, in public and in private and in all the places in between.
Why do we have worship leaders in church? It’s not a gift the Bible ever mentions.
These words challenged me. They came from the mouth of someone I respect, so were not easy to dismiss. Plus, they are true. Worship leading is not mentioned in the Bible. So why am I doing it?
These are the words the Holy Spirit kindly whispered to me as I asked Him that question:
Think of worship leading as a gift of hospitality.
Worship leaders host, facilitate, connect and help people feel at home in God’s presence.
Imagine inviting a group of guests over for dinner. You plan and prepare your home, your menu, yourself. Some of the guests have been to your home before, so they are already familiar. Some are first-timers and need a little more help to feel oriented. You serve your guests to the best of your ability. You facilitate conversation, help people feel included and are attentive to everyone’s needs. You are gracious, kind and unobtrusive. Everyone is so comfortable to participate that they don’t focus on you at all.
He brought me to His banqueting table…
The ultimate host is Jesus, who washes feet, turns water into wine, provides food for thousands of people, prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies and invites us to an intimate supper where He himself is the feast. And His motivation for all this? Love for the Father, and love for the Father’s children.
What a way for us to walk in, worship leaders.