1 The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.
3 Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.
4 One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.
5 For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.
6 And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.
7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
8 You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
9 Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!
10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the Lord will take me in.
11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.
13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!
– Psalm 27 (ESV)
Psalm 27 doesn’t really have anything pertaining to this blog post. But this week, I’ve found myself reading and re-reading Psalm 27. I’m trying to make it a habit of knowing God’s Word by heart by memorizing entire Psalms (Psalm 119:11). My hope is that by the end of residency, I’ll be able to recite Psalm 119 by memorization. It’s a fun little challenge I have set for myself.
Now I know what you’re probably thinking – “Boy, you ain’t about to do a blog post every week!” – Well, yes, I’m probably going miss a couple weeks, but I’d like to be consistent with sharing what the Lord is teaching me every week. Here’s to trying!
In this post, I’d like to give some clarity as to what exactly I do as a worship resource resident. Then, I’m going to stray toward the deep end and share what my idols tend to look like and finally, how the Lord is destroying them.
First off, I’d like to clarify a little bit about what my role as a worship resource resident includes. The role of worship resources begins with the ASW mission statement:
“We are a collection of worship leaders, musicians, songwriters, storytellers and artists serving and equipping the Church with content rich in theology, mission, and expression.”
It is exactly that, we resource worship pastors, worship leaders, musicians, and artists so that they may be able to lead their own local churches well. A variety of things go into this which include chord charts, teaching videos, posting helpful insight to our blog, hosting worship pastor intensives, providing theology papers to our songs, and filming some of our staff meetings (worship huddles). A lot of the outlook to my residency is helping equip worship leaders from afar.
As the second week of residency rolled in- I quickly acclimated to the life of vocational ministry. My mornings consist of showing up at our offices at around 9am. I’ll spend around 15-30 minutes in the Word. On Wednesday mornings, I have a list of people that I pray for. I will then follow it by a devotional; (I strongly recommend the Valley of Vision). However, my supervisor and I have begun reading Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening Devotions. If you’ve never read Charles Spurgeon before, you’re gonna have to jump on the bandwagon- Spurgeon was a phenomenal herald of the Gospel.
After three cups of coffee, I’ll begin answering emails, working on blog posts like this one, and editing tons of videos. My afternoons consist of the same tasks until 5 pm. I’ll also try and find space to rehearse songs or practice my instruments for at least two hours every other day.
On Saturday evenings for the remainder of my residency, the worship residents serve by setting up the Downtown Campus – we’ll essentially turn a high school gym into a place of worship. Set up includes everything from lights, audio, and mats. It’s the least glamorous task of residency, however, I’ve found a sense of cohesion between me and my fellow residents. Servant leadership starts by being a servant!
Sunday is usually my day of non-stop serving the Church, it’s also my most favorite day of the week. When the people of God come together, hear the Word, and worship through song- this is the epitome of my work. I absolutely love getting to serve all day; what an absolute privilege!
Beginning on August 20th, I will be serving in students worship by playing guitar or leading worship at any of the five campuses.
Now- with all that being said about my residency, my schedule, and the tasks I get to do. I’ve stepped back to analyze my own perspective of residency. There have been several days within my support raising season where I could fully explain what my residency is about:
“Residency will be a great opportunity to learn doctrine, develop in character, and sharpen my craft in music. I’ll also get to resource worship leaders while being part of the most influential worship ministry in Texas!”
However, in those moments, not once did I mention for the glory of Christ and His Kingdom. Sure those things may be true, but has my residency or even being in vocational ministry become an idol in itself? Thank God that my roommate (and the person that discipled/mentored me for a year) told me that the Austin Stone may be an idol of mine. Christian, have someone in your life that can be honest with you.
For many ministers of the Gospel, doing vocational ministry is an incredible opportunity. However, as feeble humans still bound by our flesh (Romans 3:10-11), we often times have an extreme desire to worship ourselves or our ministry. If I were to examine my heart at times, it would be screaming of self-worship- “Look at my ministry! Look how relevant I am!” – If we were all honest, no one would be exempt from having that thought. We want to be approved of and thought highly of.
Another idol of mine can be where I put my money into (Matthew 6:21). I’ve seen this in the instruments I purchase or the music gear I acquire.
Or for a more commonly familiar analogy: who I can see myself being in a relationship with and center my attention on that said person. My hope will be for companionship to place my identity in- trusting that person will fill the desires of my heart. I’ll assume that to truly escape loneliness, I need to find it in someone else. . . My heart is prone to wander from Christ!
But then I remember the God of the Bible. . .
Jesus the true and better…
The greatest weapon that I can use against the enemy is the Holy Spirit Himself. By His Spirit, we have all been empowered to discern our idols and see them fall.
26 Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Idolizing the Ministry. . . Jesus is Better:
I’ve constantly had to repent of doing the right things for the wrong reasons. Ultimately, God will complete all He began with or without me. He’s not dependant on my works or how well I perform in ministry. He alone is the Lord of the harvest. Here’s what I have to remind myself of:
I did not appoint myself into the ministry. He did. . . He provided every means at which I’m continuing ministry. There’s no way I can say I went into ministry! He called me and provided and is providing every penny! (John 15:16).
Idolizing people. . . Jesus is Better:
This point hits the hardest, especially for a single Christian. Sure I can dream up some relationship with someone, but in the end, I’ve always remembered – “Oh yeah! Jesus is far better! . . . He has NO competition! Not even by a long shot! There’s NO comparison to Him.”
I solidify that statement by asking myself these questions if I do craft an idol out of someone:
– Did that person die for me?
– Did that person provide for me?
– Is that the person I pray to every night before bed (Psalm 4:8), in the middle of the night (Psalm 63:6), and when I wake up? (Psalm 59:16). (Sidenote: If you have trouble sleeping, try falling asleep in prayer.)
– Did that person pull me through the worst seasons of my life?
– Should I sing “all to ______ I surrender” or “Who can stop ______ almighty?” or how about “Oh ______ true and only, ever reigning on your throne” ?
– Has that person seen generations come and go from the beginning of time?
If by the work of the Holy Spirit, you see how ridiculous these questions are- you’ll see how ridiculous your idolatry is. There is nothing wrong with having well-intended desires, God is the one who created us and gave us that ability. However, The Lord doesn’t share His glory with anyone or anything. He is a jealous God. He wants us to see that He alone is our greatest treasure. He is the true and better companion.
That someone at some point will fail you, but Jesus promises us He will never leave us or forsake us. Jesus is supreme and He has been my most faithful companion since He came to me in 2011.
Pray that God would turn your gaze from things that don’t matter (Psalm 119:37). Pray in thankfulness that He is the only one who gives true joy (Psalm 16:11). Remember that God loves to give gifts to His children (Psalm 84:11-12, James 1:17).
Jesus is Better. . .
Side by side,
Okay, here’s a couple pictures from set up at the Downtown Campus and what I’ve been listening to this week!
** We meet at Austin High School on Sundays @ 9:30am, 11am, 5pm & 7pm. This is the “before” set up phase.
** This has easily become one of my favorite songs of worship. Apart from the cheesy ad-libs in the beginning- this song is rich with theology. Plus if you’re a Bethel Music fan, Michael Pope (one of Bethel’s guitar players) plays some pretty awesome guitar parts on this record!