Archive for the 'Worship' Category


In-Person isn’t “In-Person” Anymore

Listening to NPR commentary by Frank Deford this morning on the way to the office, I was struck by something interesting.  Deford was talking about the trend among professional sports fans to attend events.  His prophecy seems to indicate that HD TV, sports bars and the comfort of one’s own home with high-tech viewing will continue to keep fans at home and progressively empty stadiums of their paying customers.  Now I don’t know if this is the case or not, but I do know that colleges are increasingly opting for pay-per-view broadcasts of their games.  Is this perhaps just a way to recapture the loss of revenue for smaller crowds at the games?  I haven’t seen the statistics.

Deford reports, “Besides, everybody has access to huge, brilliant high-definition TV. A Nielsen survey has shown, in fact, that sports events are watched by 21 percent more viewers if they have HD. I’ve talked to folks who’ve been on the sidelines at the huge new Dallas Cowboys stadium, and, they say, people down there close to the field nevertheless choose to look away from the actual game and watch on the monster video screens above.”

We are a video-oriented society.  The question is, “How is this going to continue to impact our worship services?”  Video is already in most worship services of more progressive churches.  This is true for at least a Powerpoint presentation with song lyrics and sermon support.  Many have live video feeds to their screens…especially in large venues where the speaker is a significant distance from the remotest parts of the audience.  In those settings where live video is available, I find myself tending “to look away from the actual game and watch on the monster video screens above” even if I’m close enough to watch the actual speaker.

What’s the next step?  Will we begin to opt for watching at home from a live internet feed rather than actually attending a worship service, so we can be more comfortable?  How will this phenomenon impact our worship in the years to come?

I know these questions are hyperbolic, but there is fodder for thought here.  Certainly, a move toward remote video “participation” at home will reduce our interaction in community.  That is definitely something none of us would say is healthy.  I like video usage in a worship service and have felt my worship experience has been broadened by it.  I would recommend we continue to ask ourselves the best way to utilize it for enhancing worship and building community.

What do you think?  How has the use of video impacted your worship?  What are creative ways you would like to see its use expanded or changed in your setting?


“Beautiful Things” makes for Beautiful Worship!

I had one of the most moving and genuine worship experiences in a long time this past week as the band, Gungor, led us in worship at the Catalyst Conference.  Their musicianship is exquisite and their ability to lead the audience to the presence of God is powerful.  Their ministry, and specifically the “Beautiful Things Tour,” has been dubbed “God meets Art.”

Actually, God is the author of creativity and all things artistic.  So…it only makes sense that the two naturally mesh.  Check out the video below and others online.  Join me as well, in attending a concert if the tour comes near you.  You won’t be disappointed; you’ll probably be blown away!



When you gather at church for corporate worship, do you find yourself just going through the motions?  Are you hurried, harried or hastled so that your mind and heart are not ready to praise the King of kings?  It is easy to let the cares of life and the worries of the day rob you of true worship.  It is possible that unresolved heart-issues will stand in the way of truly connecting with the God of the universe who so wants to commune with us in our local church context.  As you contemplate how your worship experience transpired this past weekend, watch the video below and spend a few minutes considering the God we worship and your heart’s desire to connect with Him in communion.

The next time you gather for corporate worship, take time to prepare your heart and focus upon the God we gather to worship.  Our experience and God’s work in us will be much more keenly powerful if we will take the time to do so.

What was worship like for you this weekend?  What tends to get in the way?  How do you prepare yourself for worship?



My New Desktop Background…

I just decided to change my wallpaper in the middle of the month.  I’m always looking for variety and something different, I guess.  That’s just the way I roll 🙂  I like this image because it makes me think of a pleasant place that is inviting…a place to which I would enjoy escaping.  I love being in tropical settings.  The sun and heat are no problem with the ocean breeze blowing.  I am very invigorated when I spend time at the beach.  I love to run on the beach, to get in the water and just hang out in the sun.  I love the atmosphere of the seashore and how relaxing and tranquil it can be.  I can think of no place on earth that is any more rejuvenating to me than this.  The bridge in this image even makes me think of crossing over to a place of refuge.

I can’t always go to the beach.  It’s funny…when we lived 15 minutes from the beach for 12 years, I didn’t go that much.  Now that I live 15 hours away, I want to go so badly.  Unfortunately, I can’t.  I can, however, always find retreat and refuge that is readily available and much more satisfying.

Psalm 91:1-2

1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High

will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

2  This I declare about the Lord:

He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;

he is my God, and I trust him.

Daily, I can escape the race of life and the concerns of ministry to find refuge and escape in the presence of God.  The Lord awaits me eagerly as I come before Him and just commune in His presence.  When I neglect to do so, I forfeit that peace and contentment He brings.  When I fail to stop for that refreshing refuge, I find myself more tense, less grace-giving and merciful and more oblivious to the needs of those around me.

I need an escape…and it’s as easy as being alone with my Lord.

How do you spend your time in refuge with God?  What tends to stand in the way of that priority for you?  What have your learned through you time with Him?



I often pray in journal format.  What I mean is, I write my prayers in a prayer journal as if I were writing a letter to God.  Of course, the difference is that while I may write a letter to a friend that will take days to arrive, when I’m writing a prayer to God He is “reading” it immediately and answering in real time.  I find this helpful to me as I write out my thoughts and words of praise.  It also is a blessing sometimes to look back and read how I was praying at a certain time and to see how God has responded to my needs.

When I sign the prayer (yes, I do sign them), I write “IJN” before my name and “YPF” after my name (almost like a degree title).  You may have guessed that “IJN” stands for “In Jesus’ name” which is how we are instructed to pray, in the Word.  However, the “YPF” is probably less obvious.  It is really meant to be a commitment and a reminder.  It stands for “Your Passionate Follower.”  I find it helpful to me to put that at the end of the prayer to renew my commitment to be a passionate follower of Jesus and to remind me that I am called to be so.  That’s just a little quirk in my prayer life.  Maybe it will be an encouragement to you as well.  I know I need all the encouragement and reminders I can get to passionately follow my Lord and avoid the checklist mentality.

In what unique ways do you approach prayer and communion with God?

Take a look at this video of Casting Crowns doing “Lifesong” live.  I like the line that says, “I want to sign your name at the end of this day, knowing that my life was true.”


Empty Cross + Empty Tomb ≠ An Empty Life

Our pastor made a statement in the Easter sermon this morning that has stuck with me, so I thought I would write a few thoughts about it here as this Easter Sunday comes to a close.  He said, “There’s an empty cross, an empty tomb, what about your life?  Is it empty?”

My immediate mental/worship response to this question was to rejoice in the reality that my life is NOT empty.  It has been, it could be, it deserves to be, but it is NOT!  In this brief post (mostly because I’m tired) I will share a few things that are significant to me about this thought.

  1. My life was empty at one time.  Although I came to faith in Christ at an early age (9 years), I was very aware of the emptiness in my life at that time.  Perhaps I wouldn’t have described it that way as a 9-year-old.  But that is exactly where I was.  I was empty of the life that I knew I could have in trusting Christ.  I knew I was devoid of life that would be eternally with God.  That was the emptiest empty I could have imagined at that time.  So…I placed my trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ (Romans 5:8).
  2. My life has felt pretty empty at times since then.  One might ask, if you trusted in Jesus to fill the emptiness, why would you experience an emptiness since then?  The reason…my own failure to trust.  Though I have never ceased to trust in Jesus as my Savior, there have been times when I failed to fully trust Him for a struggle, a need, a fear or a desire.  When I have chosen to do things my way with myself at the center, I have disengaged from that dependent/trusting relationship that He has intended.  In turn, I have forfeited the presence and power of Jesus in my life, resulting in a feeling of emptiness (James 4:8-10).
  3. I am most aware of the fullness of the life Jesus has given me when I am in community with others.  My life is far from empty.  There is no despair when I am aware that I am in Christ and He is in me.  That relationship is energized and experienced as I live out life with those God has placed in my life…my wife, my family, my Lifegroup, my faith community…even the non-believers with whom I have the opportunity to rub elbows (Proverbs 27:9).

My life is anything but empty.  I rejoice this Easter that an empty cross and an empty tomb do not make for an empty life.  Instead, it is the fullest life that I could ever imagine (John 10:10).

How has God filled your life?  What relationships help you to see the fullness of life that God has given you?


Jesus Paid It All…That’s Enough

Today is Good Friday…reminding us of the sacrifice Chrsit made for the sins of all mankind.  This was an absolutely necessary thing for Jesus to do.  His entire life on earth was focused on fulfilling this requirement so that our sins could be forgiven and washed away (“…without shedding of blood there is no remission [of sins].”  Hebrews 9:22).  One might ask, “Since this day commemorates death and suffering, why do we call it ‘good’?”  Fair question, and there is a good answer.

It is “good” because it demonstrates the goodness of God’s grace and love (Romans 5:8).  It is “good” because we benefit from His sacrifice in receiving eternal life through faith in Him (Psalm 34:8; Romans 10:13).  It is also “good” because we find that Jesus did all that was necessary to provide our salvation (Hebrews 10:10).  Nothing else is needed.  His sacrifice is ENOUGH!

This Good Friday, I’m rejoicing and worshiping the Lamb that was slain for the world…for me.  Jesus paid it all and that’s enough.  Even when I get caught up in trying to impress God or others, I must step back and remind myself, Jesus has paid it all.  I just want to follow Him and love like He did as He enables me to do so.  It really is a good Friday…every day.

Enjoy a time of worship as you watch Kristian Stanfill in this video:

Have you experienced the sufficient salvation purchased by the sufficient sacrifice of Jesus?  If so, rejoice!  If not, watch this.  Happy Good Friday!!


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