Giving Your Best

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I have recently been faced with a problem. This problem has been going on for quite sometime. Am I really giving my best to God?

When I first began in worship ministry, there was absolutely no way I was giving my best.I could blame it on many things, but when you come down to it, I wasn’t doing the best job I could. I was let go from my church and spent a year away from it before God gave me an opportunity to lead again. I gladly took the position with the vow to myself “I will always be do my best and getting better!” I have been doing pretty well. But this week, my ministry hits a turning point. The outcome could change the way that the worship ministry at my church operates. It hurts to think about and I truly wish that I could skip it. But I’ve reached a point that I have to be an administrator and thumb down some rules.

Despite the hardship though, this is actually a good thing. Paul writes, “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, on who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 NLT). Without God’s approval, we cannot receive God’s blessing. I personally have seen this countless times. If I act before God, or don’t even consult Him at all, my plans seem to fail and end horrible. That’s even in the Bible: “You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail.” (Proverbs 19:21 NLT). This is even more important in the life of ministry. Since we are doing God’s work, if we don’t wait we are acting like builders of a building without consulting their foreman.

God also tells us in the book of Proverbs, “Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, But the hand of the diligent makes rich” (Proverbs 10:4 NASB). This rings pretty true with me. My management style has never really been one of force. It’s more, I’m just around to make sure nothing bad happens. But that’s not what God is saying here. In order for our deeds to do well in the world, we must be diligent about our work. We cannot say, “whatever happens, happens”. Instead we must be intentional about everything we do, because, as Paul says, “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31 NASB).

Therefore, we must give our best to God. It’s what He wants from us. Whether you are in leadership or not, you must give God your best. It’s true that our best might not be as good as someone else’s (at least the way we see it), but I assure you that God loves to see your best. So give it to Him. If you haven’t been doing the best job, like me, than it is time for a change. Let’s make a change. God wants and deserves our best. So what’s holding us back? Let’s give it to Him, and be glad that we did.

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True Worship

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As a worship leader I am constantly asking myself, is this worshipful or how can people worship with this? Sometimes this question gets pretty hard to answer. Our job is to create an atmosphere of true worship. But with so many ideas out there for what worship is (especially traditional vs contemporary), it gets pretty hard to answer what is true worship. So let’s look at what the Bible has to say.

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24 NIV). This comment made by Jesus was a statement to help the Samaritan woman at the well understand worship. She says earlier that the Samaritans worship on the mountain, but the Jews say they have to worship at the temple in Jerusalem. However, Jesus says both are wrong. Instead he says that we must worship in spirit and truth. So what does that mean? To worship in truth is to worship with the knowledge of who God is, including what He has done for us and our relation to Him. I believe that in order to worship in truth, it is important to remember that God is God and deserves all glory and praise and I am nothing, and deserve far less than He has given me. To worship in spirit means to allow the Holy Spirit to work and move within you. When I first started worship leading this was the second hardest thing for me to used to (the first being “stage fright”). I think it was so hard because worshiping in spirit means that we let go of control on worship and let the Spirit move us as appropriate.

Going along with worshiping in spirit, true worship must be directed by God. “I know, O Lord, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23 NIV). If we are not even worthy to guide our own lives, what would make us think we should control something designed to praise God above all? This is why lots of prayer is needed for those that plan worship services. We must be in tune with God and know what He wants from His people. It is also important to let God guide your personal worship time. Don’t go into it thinking “I really like this psalm, so I’m gonna pray it,” rather sit for a few moments in silence listening for God to direct you.

The final act of true worship I would like to discuss comes from Paul’s letter to the church in Colossae, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2 NIV). Lots of people might think “well duh”, but think about it for a moment. How many times at church do we only go because we like the music, or the pastor, or people around us. Now these are all important things to look at when it is time to choose a church, but it is not the reason we come to worship. We come to worship, so we can worship the one true God, the maker of Heaven and earth. If we focus on the things around us though, we become susceptible to idolatry. And that, my friends, is something we must shy away from (Exodus 20:4).

So the main focus for worship is to connect with God and give Him glory and praise. If something else becomes your focus, I encourage you to spend time in prayer over it. God does not what you to worship something other than Himself (Exodus 20:3). So focus on Him, and thank Him for all He has done for you.

The Secret Place

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There is an idea out there that I have heard called “The Secret Place”. Essentially this idea comes down to, “how do you spend time with God?” It means to intentionally take time out of your day, and spend it intimately with God, alone.

The New Testament is full of times where Jesus goes off, by himself, and spends the time in prayer. It’s almost always used as a way for him to regain or acquire strength for the coming events. There are two times that really stick out to me. The first is just after he feeds the multitude. After performing the miracle with bread and fish, and preaching to the multitude of people, Jesus finally sent them all away. Then he sent the disciples across the Sea of Galilee ahead of him. Jesus the went up a mountain, by himself, in order to spend time in prayer (Matthew 14:23). The second time is in the Garden of Gethsemane. The night before Jesus was arrested he took three of the disciples with him, told them to stay put, then moved away from them to be alone (Luke 22:41).

I hadn’t really ever given much thought to my alone time with God until quite recently. I always thought that I was doing pretty well if I made sure to read my Bible everyday. But I wasn’t getting the refreshment that Jesus received. I wasn’t sure what I was doing wrong. Then God stirred in my heart the answer, I have intentionally make time for God. Our relationship with God must be on purpose, otherwise it isn’t a real relationship. It’s the same thing we do with our relationships on earth; our friends and family must have time made for them otherwise they get neglected. The same is true for God. Back in March, my wife and I went to the Burning Lights tour with Chris Tomlin and Kari Jobe. I felt refreshed after that, so I felt that was what I needed to do. Find some time that I can go to worship that isn’t me leading it. But quickly I learned that wasn’t the answer.

This past Saturday night I decided that I had to start being intentional. So I set my alarm for 5 am, I had to lead two services in the morning, so I had to wake up early anyway. So I woke up, made some coffee and sat down with my Bible. My entire day went differently! Worship was great! I felt good, because I connected with God first thing. I am now on the fourth day of this “experiment” and it’s quickly becoming something I yearn for. This morning, I went on my back porch with my coffee and Bible, the brought out my guitar and started worshiping. That completed it for me.

So I encourage you to find that Secret Place, and intentionally spend time with God. This is where we can learn about the heart of God, and His will for our lives. It refreshes us and fills us with living water. My experience has been great, and I hope you will at least try it for a few days like I have. And have fun with it, God is your friend, so be His in return!

I’m putting a song by Kutless up here. It’s called Take Me In. I think it really fits with this post so listen and enjoy!

When You Turn from God

King Saul from The Bible miniseries
King Saul from The Bible miniseries

I continued to read 1 Samuel today and came to another point that I felt followed my last post pretty well.

What happens when we turn away from or disobey God?

The answer seems pretty simple, “bad stuff”. However it’s more than that. In my reading, the newly appointed King Saul leads his people through many glorious battles. God then commands that he go and destroy all of the Amalekites. And boy He meant all, “… put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” (1 Samuel 15:3 NASB) Yet when the time came Saul spared King Agag and kept the best of all the animals. God then feels remorse for making Saul king of His people. Samuel tells Saul “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to your neighbor, who is better than you.” (15:28 NASB)

Wow! Those must have been some hard words to hear. It’s the same as when your boss doesn’t like the way you are doing a project and gives it to one of you co-workers. Yet when we choose to disobey God, He reacts. Look back to the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. When they disobeyed God, He cast them from Eden, cursed the ground, made child-bearing more painful, etc. God is not a fan of sin, simply because it makes us “me-focused” and not “God-focused”. That’s the nature of sin my friends, to only be “me me me” and to shy away from God. Yet God created us to be in fellowship with Him.

Thank God He sent His son, Jesus Christ. Because of his sacrificial death everyone, including you, can rejoin God in fellowship. Yes we still sin, that’s a part of humanity. But God wants us to continue to fight the temptation to sin. That’s the mark of our Christian lifestyle, “Hi, my name is Preston, and I’m a sinner. Now through Jesus Christ, I am getting better!”

As leaders though, we become doubly accountable. Not only do we have to monitor our own walks with Christ, but we must be certain not to lead people astray. God has given us our influence, and we must guard it carefully.

I encourage you whether you are a leader or not, consult God before you make decisions, and listen to what He says. This is probably the biggest lesson that we can learn from Saul’s life. Once he was lowly, then he became King, then he turned from the Lord and everything was taken from him.

Qualifies the Called (The First Post!!!!)

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Well friends! I’m not starting this journey on becoming “The Heart Man”.

I figured in order to prepare for this blog I would start reading the story of the man I take this blog’s name from, King David. So I started reading 1 Samuel, and wouldn’t you know it, I came across something to discuss before I even got to David.

You see at the start of the book Israel is without a king. It’s not because their previous king had died or anything, they just simply didn’t have one. Instead they were lead by God through His prophets. Eventually the people of Israel decided they needed a king, “… just like all the other nations have.” (1 Samuel 8:5 NLT) So after consulting God, Samuel anoints for them a king, a man named Saul from the tribe of Benjamin. At first Saul is astonished that God would choose him, “But I’m only from the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest tribe in Israel, and my family is the least important of all the families of that tribe! Why are you talking like this to me?” (9:21 NLT)

God calls His leaders despite what we think our qualifications are. I once heard it put this way, “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.” When leaders are called, we often first say “No, not me!” Moses certainly did at the burning bush. So looking at my own call to be the leader that I am, I realize that I reacted similarly. But through the grace of God I have become more “qualified” in my leadership roles.

My encouragement to any readers out there is that if you feel called, pray and practice! When I became a worship leader, I definitely had no business singing, playing guitar or piano. But I have gotten better with work, and am now more confident in fulfilling my call. So I encourage you to keep going, it all gets betters (and the butterflies in your stomach go away a little more each time).