Month: January 2014

Christian Praise: Worship Pastors on American Idol

Worship Leader Jim Ranger
Christian Praise: Worship Pastors on American Idol

Well, I don’t know how many of you watch “American Idol”, but I do. Last night there was both a Worship Pastor named Jim Ranger, as well as another church pastor auditioning. I don’t remember anyone of the judges ever saying before that they think that a person’s position in a job qualifies them as talented or not. It’s NOT in the rules for auditioning. Since when did a person’s vocation (or religion) qualify as an excuse to not judge impartially? What happened to Jim Ranger?

The story begins:
Avril Lavigne was a guest on the panel of judges for the evening. Incidentally? She showed up wearing a hoodie with devils horns on the top of the hood.

It was time for a Worship Pastor to take his turn to audition in front of the panel of judges.

As soon as Jim Ranger, the Worship Pastor at a church, was finished singing (And he did do a fantastic job) Simon Cowell, who is always brutally honest, said that he liked the audition and that Jim had an authentic voice.

Next to take her turn to judge was Avril and she piped right up and said rather derogatorily, “You’re married and you have three children and you’re a Pastor? You know, to become a pop star, you know you have to travel and you have to leave everything. It’s difficult out there on the road…But, I do think you have a good voice.”

We can see right away that she is judging him, not on his voice, because she said she thought he had a good voice, but rather she judged him on the fact that he was a Christian Worship Leader.

It bothers me that Avril Lavigne would judge according to his vocation rather than his skill as a singer. The whole point of American Idol is to judge them on their singing skills, not whether they feel they can make it out on the road away from their family. I suppose we will chalk the comment up to her young age and forgive her.

When it finally came time to vote, Simon was first and answered with an enthusiastic “Yes”. Next in line to vote was Avril. She doesn’t even look at Jim but rather looks over at Carla (Judge #3) and says, “I’m sorry, but I have to say no.”

Sadly, Carla picks up on Avril’s negativity and agrees with her comment by saying very doubtingly, “I don’t know how you…um…really can do everything at once if you were to go through with this, how you really can be dedicated to your church.”

What I find strange is why, all of a sudden, are these judges basing the audition upon the person’s vocation rather than their talent?

Jim did finally get the 3 votes he needed to qualify for a golden ticket to go to Hollywood but, a very strange thing happened immediately after that on the show. Simon turns to Avril and says, “I love the fact that we’ve officially got a devil on our show.”

In my opinion, truer words were never said. How apt that it would be this particular night that a devil would condemn a Christian. It kind of gives us something to think about.

Have you noticed that there have been quite a few Christians who have been auditioning for American Idol in the last couple of years. The ones that stand out to me are David Gokey, Kris Allen and this year Tasha Layton and Jim Ranger.

I know there is a lot of talk going around about how Christians should not be going after fame and fortune but, on the other hand I see how churches expect their Christian Worship Leaders to perform their duties getting no recompense for doing it. There are people who say that they should do it for nothing because their reward is in heaven, but even the Levites were set aside to perform the work for God and were paid to do it.

I Chronicles 9:33 says Those who were musicians, heads of Levite families, stayed in the rooms of the temple and were exempt from other duties because they were responsible for the work day and night.

Numbers 18:21 (kjv)

21. And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.

1 Corinthians 9:7-14 (NIV)

Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk? 8. Do I say this merely from a human point of view? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing? 9. For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.”Is it about oxen that God is concerned? 10. Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. 11. If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? 12. If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more?

But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ. 13. Don’t you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14. In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

In order to lead in Christian Praise and Worship we as worship leaders should be exempt also from secular jobs in order to spend time in God’s presence. How can we lead others into Christian Praise and Worship if we are not spending time with God in worship daily? I know some people think that to lead in Praise and Worship we just need to gather a couple of songs and sing,but this is not true worship. We are not to be the entertainment section for the church rather we are to be gatekeepers to the Holy of Holies…..okay so I’m going off on a tangent 🙂

I don’t understand how anyone can stand back and say that these people are wrong to try out on American Idol and hope to try to provide for their families. What they know is music, and they are good at it. If we don’t want them going to “the world” to make a living then maybe we better start considering how we are supporting them as a church.

Is it any worse for a Music Pastor to get a job singing non-Christian, secular songs than a Pastor who tries to provide for his family by working in the material world such as banking or politics etc?

I really think that we as Christians should stop judging what other people are doing to make their living and keep an eye on our own lives.

What do you think?

Sharron

You can view the audition here.

(originally posted on 28th January 2010)

Christian Praise: Out of the Mouth of Babes

Christian Praise Out of the Mouth of babes

My daughter singing “At the Cross”

Christian Praise: Out of the Mouth of Babes

Christian Praise may not seem like the thing you would like to do in a bad situation, but sometimes, singing praises to God is in actuality the Best Thing you can do for yourself.

I already mentioned in another blog post how the purpose of Christian Praise is to benefit us, and not God. It helps us to take our minds off of what is going around us, the things running through our minds and to focus on all that God has done for us.

Sometimes, when we are deep in the mire of bad circumstances Christian Praise can be the last thing on our minds.

I want to share a little story with you about how Christian Praise can turn a bad situation totally around and lift us up out of the miry clay when everything seems to be coming down upon us.

Many years ago, when I was still quite young, I had married a Christian man who seemed to love the Lord. Sadly, I found upon marrying him that he had a terrible problem with alcohol and although I had thought he was over it, he apparently was not. I went through quite a few years of terrible suffering because of the problem and had gotten very discouraged.

At one point in my life, we were going through an unusually bad time with his drinking. I had my two children by then and they were very young. One day, I was sitting at the kitchen table with my cup of tea and wondering why God would have allowed this to happen to me. Why was I suffering so? What had I done to deserve this? (I am sure you know the despair and depression we can get ourselves into just thinking upon all of the problems we have).

My 2 year old daughter was sitting on the kitchen floor with her doll brush in her hand and was trying to give the cat a new hairdo. The cat didn’t mind at all and was use to her playing with her like this. So there I was trying to keep back the tears and she was blissfully brushing the cat’s hair. How innocent she was, blissfully unaware of the problems in life.

All of a sudden, I heard her sweet little voice quietly start to sing  as she continued to brush the cat’s hair. She was singing a very old Christian Praise song that I hadn’t sung in ages. There she was, like a little angel with her little voice singing the chorus of “At the Cross”

In case you don’t know the song, the words to the chorus are here;

At The Cross

At the cross, at the cross

Where I first saw the light

And the burdens of my heart rolled away

It was there by faith

I received my sight

And now I am happy all the day

She kept singing it over and over again and I realized that God was right there in that very room with us. He was telling me not to look at the problems but to keep my eyes on Him. Just like when I had first became a Christian and realized what God had done for me, the feelings of faith and love strengthened me again and I could truly say that I became Happy. I realized that I had taken my eyes off of Jesus and was focused on my problems. It took my little child to remind me that my problems aren’t so big after all. When I think about the cross and all that God had done for me my burdens surely roll away.

I will never forget that day (and I took the picture above to help remind me). I thank God that I had the problems because once I realized how big God is and how much He loved me, I was able to take courage and realize that loving God was all that was important. I just needed to love God, and be a good mom to my children. That was all that was expected of me. What a happy day that was.

The bible tells us in Matthew 21:16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’?”

Christian Praise will flood your soul when you take your eyes off of your problems and focus on God and all that He has done for you.

(originally posted on Sept.22,2009)

Christian Praise: Prayer in the Square

Prayer in the Square 2009

Prayer in the Square 2009

Christian Praise
Prayer in the Square 2009

 

For those of you who wish to know, Sunday September 20, 2009 was the final gathering of “Prayer in the Square”. This is where Christians from all denomination gather together to offer up Christian Praise and Prayer unto God on behalf of our nation.

Last Year “Prayer in the Square” had around 18000 people but this year a whopping estimate of 60,000 people showed up. Many congregations, such as ours, were not able to make it to Times Square in New York City on Sunday but joined together via the Internet along with many other countries. Wow! I can’t imagine the amount of Christian Praise and Prayer going up on our behalf.

If you want to read more about it I have posted the link here: Prayer in the Square

 

(originally posted Sept. 23,2009)

Christian Praise: Where is God?

Where is God?

Christian Praise

Where is God?

 

Christian Praise becomes much easier for us when we realize How Big God really is and how much He truly loves us.

A few years ago, Bette Middler had a hit song called “From a Distance” which won a Grammy for “Song of the Year” in 1991. The words were nice and gave us the feeling that we were not alone in this world, that indeed God was watching us from a distance.

It’s a lovely platitude but it doesn’t really tell us where God actually is.

Christian Praise can be hard to muster up if we only believe in a God somewhere up there in the sky who looks down on us once in awhile. It may be a nice thought to some, but it doesn’t do much else except to give us a few warm and fuzzy feelings.

God is very much a part of your life and He chose it to be that way. He doesn’t just want to be God, He also wants to abide in You. He wants be your friend.

Abraham was called God’s friend, because he took the time to walk and talk with God.

Adam had direct communion with God in the Garden, before Adam and Eve got banished for their sin. Many scholars believe because they were banished that communion with God was cut off, but this does not make sense if Abraham was considered God’s friend. Maybe there wasn’t direct communication as in the garden but there had to be some type of communication in Abraham’s day. We can only speculate what that was.

One thing is clear though. In the old Testament the Spirit came upon the prophets. In the New Testament the Spirit is in us. Why the difference?

It is because of Christ’s death on the cross that the barrier between God and us can be breached.

John 14:16-20 (kjv) says:

16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.

20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.

God loves to commune with us and the best way to bring in His presence is with Christian Praise.

God abides in the praises of His people.

Psalm 22:3 (kjv) says: But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel

God is not some Sugar Daddy in the sky that we make requests to and wait for Him to grant them. He is so close to us that we cannot truly describe it in proper words.

Paul Put it this way:

Acts 17:28 He is not far from us, for in him we live and move and have our being.

Every particle of yourself is in God and God is in every particle of you.

Jesus said in John 14:21-28

Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”

Judas, not the Iscariot, said to him, “Master, (then) what happened that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?”

Jesus answered and said to him, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.

Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.

I have told you this while I am with you.

The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name–he will teach you everything and remind you of all that (I) told you.

If You Love Me, Keep my Word

If You Love Me, Keep my Word

 

Knowing this, Christian Praise should come freely from your heart and lips as you marvel at the Greatness of God who comes to inhabit the very people He has purchased with the blood of Jesus. If we love Him and obey His commands, He will make His dwelling with us. Hallelujah!

Where is God? God is in me, and you, if you love Him and keep His commandments.

One of my favorite songs from years gone by is “How Big is God?”

The lyrics to this song are:

Though Men May Strive To Go Beyond The Reach Of Space
To Go Beyond The Distant Glimmering Stars
This World’s A Room So Small Within My Master’s House
The Open Sky But A Portion Of His Yard.

How Big Is God, How Big And Wide His Vast Domain
To Try To Tell These Lips Can Only Start
He’s Big Enough To Rule This Mighty Universe
Yet Small Enough To Live Within My Heart.

As Winter Chill May Cause The Tiny Seed To Fall
To Lie Asleep Till Waked By Summer’s Rain
The Heart Grown Cold Will Warm And Trod With Life Anew
The Master’s Touch Will Bring The Glow Again.

How Big Is God, How Big And Wide His Vast Domain
To Try To Tell These Lips Can Only Start
He’s Big Enough To Rule The Mighty Universe
Yet Small Enough To Live Within My Heart.

Here is the version from YouTube

Christian Praise: It Benefits Us, Not God

Praise Benefits us, not God

Christian Praise
It Benefits Us, Not God

 

Christian Praise is something that we do to benefit us. Yes, I know this sounds kind of selfish but the truth of the matter is that God admonishes us to Praise Him, not because He needs it but because we need it.

Sadly, some people get confused and think that it is their duty to offer Christian Praise to God. It is as if it is on their “to do list” of things that we must do to be a good Christian.

Other things on that “to do list” are:

  • Going to Church on Sunday
  • Praying
  • Being Polite to Others

We feel that by being a good little Christian this will somehow earn us brownie points in heaven. How foolish people can be!

Think about it:

Why would God need us to praise Him, or to show up for church on Sunday or to Pray or any other religious duty we feel we may need to do?

This kind of thinking stems from old pharisaic legalism that has nothing to do with our true Christian Worship. All of these things are to do with what God wants to do for us and in us to benefit our lives.

I mentioned in another blog post  “Christian Praise: The Secret of the Universe” :  that the True Secret to God’s Universe is not what they are teaching in Law of Attraction Seminars all over the world, but rather, it is “The Secret of Christian Praise”. This is because of the many benefits we derive from Christian Praise.

Sadly, many people think that if they do things such as praising the Lord, or showing up for Church on Sunday or praying etc., that then they will win favors with God. They think because of their so called “devotion”, God will allow them certain things, and do things for them, because somehow they have proved themselves worthy.

I Want to Make This Point Very, Very Clear:

You Will Never be Worthy Enough in God’s Eyes

To Receive Anything from God

Based on Anything that You DO!

We receive from God and are blessed by God, Because of What He Did for us. He sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to die for us and become the appropriation for our sins. It is because of Christ’s death and Christ’s death alone, that makes us worthy.

He is our Righteousness. When God looks at us He sees the Righteousness of Christ, not because of works that we have done but because of who we belong to. We are heirs with God and Joint heirs with Christ. (Romans 8:17)

 Titus 3:5 (kjv) Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.

Romans 5:8 (esv) But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Christian Praise then is a vehicle in which we draw nigh to God. It is a remembrance of all that God has done for us and in us. As we spend time in God’s presence and wait upon Him it is there that we gain the strength and comfort that is needed in our daily lives.

Christian Praise is for our Benefit and not for God’s.

God is not Some Self-indulgent Entity

that Requires that we pay Homage to Him.

 

He is not like the gods of the heathen that need alms and praise to appease Him.

God loves us just the way we are. He looks beyond our faults and sees the blood of Christ which covers a multitude of sins. He sees us as His children and lovingly reaches down his hands in love to help us.

God is deserving of our praise, but he certainly doesn’t need it.

Christian Praise is something we should do on a daily basis, not because God needs it, but because we do.

Isaiah 40:31 says “They that wait upon the Lord, shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary they shall walk and not faint. “

 Here is one of my favorite songs. It’s a beautiful song based on Isaiah 40:31 “On Eagle’s Wings”

(originally posted on 16th September 2009)