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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Song Series: Because He Lives (Amen) Fresh Start Your Day

Because He Lives (Amen)
Fresh Start Your Day with the Power of Praise

Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 
- Romans 6:4

We sing "Because He Lives" by Matt Maher regularly at FBCR. It has a beautiful melody and is easy to follow lyrically; but, what makes the song so powerful is the message of courage for today and hope for tomorrow.

I love hope-filled songs, don't you? Especially now. I'm so sick of being inundated with negative campaign adds that leave me feeling like there's no one worth voting for. As a matter of fact, what makes being a Worship Arts Pastor so incredibly awesome is that I'm  forced to learn and lead hopeful and God centered songs every day. In other words, I'm consistently reminded to "walk in newness (literally 'freshness') of life".

Do you want a fresh start to each new day? Then put on the praise and worship music, open the word, and ask God to revive and refocus your walk.

I believe in the Son
I believe in the Risen One
I believe I overcome
By the power of His blood

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Quiet Time: Morning Person

Morning Person

In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch. - Psalm 5:3

I am a morning person if ever there was one.

Back in the day when I was still a gigging musician/vocalist, I could always tell when we were nearing the midnight hour. Not because the party kicked up a notch (although it usually did). Not because the band was finally locking in the groove (although it actually was). And, certainly not because more people were inebriated and felt more inclined to dance than at the start of the party (although, they truly were). No, the reason I knew it was close to midnight was the fact that my energy level would dive south after 11PM. The truth is, I was probably the worst musician you could get for a late night show because I simply ran out of gas by 1 AM!

Now, of course, I'm just being funny, but frankly, I can't think of a time when I didn't begin my day before 6AM. 

For me, it's been a good thing. For example, today, I was up and working on music (praise and worship music; Big Daddy Weave's song titled "Overwhelmed") by 4:30AM. Turns out that I'm in good company. Apparently the Psalmists thought the early morning was the right time to worship too.

Whether praying or praising or reading the Word, mornings are a great time to get it going. 

Try going to bed an hour earlier tonight and getting up an hour earlier tomorrow morning. Then, spend some time with the Savior and see if it doesn't make a tremendous difference in your day.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Praise is Powerful

Praise is Powerful

But Thou art holy, O Thou that inhabits the praises of Israel. 
- Psalm 22:3

Read: Psalm 22:1-4

When I feel down or discouraged I'm often drawn to sing an old song by the Imperials titled "Praise the Lord"   Imperials "Praise the Lord"    The song encourages the believer to walk by faith and to praise God regardless of the circumstances. 

When we praise God He works in us.
When we praise God His presence is more evident.
When we praise God the chains of doubt and despair fall away.

The Psalmist understood this. David wrote, "Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence."- Psalm 42:5

Praise is a choice that reminds us that God's not done 
Praise is a choice that reminds us that we are not defeated. 
Praise is a choice that reminds us that God alone is our one desire.

Why is praise so powerful? Because praise reflects on God's character, God's conciliation, and rewards God's children with hope.

In short, praise is powerful because we choose to refuse the fear of the unknown for faith in the One we know.

Praise the Lord, He can work through those who praise Him
Praise the Lord, for our God inhabits praise
Praise the Lord, for the chains that seems to bind you
Serve only to remind you that they drop powerless behind you
When you praise Him

Thursday, May 12, 2016

No Bible - No Breakfast

No Bible - No Breakfast
In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch. - Psalm 5:3
READ: Psalm 5
My mother is the one who helped me establish a daily quiet time and a missionary's words challenged me to have it early morning.
My mother brought me my first daily devotional as a youth titled “Our Daily Bread” and I’ve used it ever since. It is both relevant and timely.

A few years later I heard a missionary remark, "No bible - No breakfast." He meant, of course, that he wanted to feed the spirit before feeding the flesh. This statement struck me to my core; from that day, I've seldom missed a morning quiet time with God and His word before anyone in the house rises. It is truly a blessing!
You may not be a morning person; know that, you could be missing a blessing (Matthew 6:33).


But I, O LORD, have cried out to You for help, And in the morning my prayer comes before You. - Psalm 88:13
I rise before dawn and cry for help; I wait for Your words. - Psalm 119:47
Awake, harp and lyre; I will awaken the dawn! - Psalm 119:147
My soul waits for the Lord More than the watchmen for the morning; Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning. - Psalm 130:6

Friday, May 6, 2016

Generation Gapless

Generation Gap by Emerson David Myers
Generation Gapless 

Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, - Titus 2:3 

READ: Titus 2:1-15 

I work in the power industry where safety is paramount. Consequently, we spend hours each month training, talking about, and tracking safe work habits. The following email arrived this morning:  

"Working with a team exposes you to the methods and work ethic of your coworkers, which can help you learn more and finish jobs in a faster manner. We work with people of all different ages and experience levels. This provides a good atmosphere for the young bucks to learn the ropes and the old timers to see things from a different point of view...You and your coworkers’ safety should be your top priority while working together each day. Teamwork prevents accidents.  "

This got me thinking about how generation gaps simply do not exist, for the most part, in business. Why; because, gaps are ineffective, inefficient and often unsafe. So, why have we bought into the idea that generation gaps work at church? 

PRACTICAL EXERCISE: This Sunday, shake things up and fill in the gaps by purposely sitting beside a teen or an elder whom you've never sat next to before.


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Artist's Insomnia

Artist's Insomnia
A blessing in disguise

My eyes anticipate the night watches, That I may meditate on Your word. - Psalm 119:148

A masterful pianist friend and I were lamenting our mutual malady. Musicians often suffer from this common but oft hidden sleep disorder cynically dubbed, Artist's Insomnia.

Perhaps you've experienced it. You cannot sleep or worse, awake from a dead slumber, due to a musical or creative idea playing through your mind. Well, I've a somewhat new solution? I say "somewhat" because the prescription was written over two thousand years ago.

The next time you can't sleep meditate; or, to put it another way: don't ruminate - meditate.

Psalm 119 is all about how God's word interacts with and intersects our lives. We receive blessings by obeying it (Ps. 119:1-8) Cleansing by allowing it to minister to our souls (Ps. 119:9-16) And of course the word gives us confidence, strength, and a sure foundation (Ps. 119:41-48). 

But when was the last time you actually looked forward to the wee hours of the morning because it afforded you a moment of quiet uninterrupted contemplation of God's promises? Better question: have you considered that God may be the One Who is waking you?

Meditating on God's word through the night may be new to many of us but it isn't a new idea at all. So, the next time you find yourself unable to sleep treat it as an opportunity to draw nearer to your Father God.

Don't ruminate - meditate

Dig Deeper:

Psalm 63:6
When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches,

Psalm 119:15
I will meditate on Your precepts And regard Your ways.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

How to Take Better Sermon Notes

How to Take Better 
Sermon Notes

I can't remember exactly how I came by this outline, but have used it for years and found it very helpful; especially since I tend to lean toward "Preoccupied Hearing".

19This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; 20for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. 21Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. 22But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.  – James 1:19-25

Key Idea: Walking in the Word brings blessings to you today and hope for tomorrow
Goal or objective: I want us to see and experience the benefits of walking God’s way
Title: Bend Your Ear to Hear God’s Heart

1.       Evaluate what kind of hearer you are
a.       Apathetic hearer  (v. 19)
b.      Superficial hearer (v. 20-21)
c.       Preoccupied Hearer (v.22)
d.      Reproducing hearer (v. 23)

2.       Be alert for a word from God (Jas. 1:19)

3.       Clear away all sin and pride so that the Word may be planted in your heart (Jas. 1:21)

4.       See your reflection in the mirror of God’s Word (Jas 1:23)
a.       Take notes
b.      Write the points of the message as they are presented
c.       Under each point write three things: explanation, illustrations, application.
d.      Write any specific statements that the Spirit impresses upon you.
e.      Summarize as soon as possible the main thing the speaker wants you to do, be, and or feel as a result of the sermon.
                                                               i.      Specific point God spoke to you
                                                             ii.      How does my life measure up to this word?
                                                            iii.      What specific actions will I take to bring my life into line with this word?
                                                           iv.      What truth do I need to study further?

5.       Do the Word, and you will be blessed in what you do (Jas. 1:25)
a.       Check yourself several times in the days to follow to see if you have incorporated the message into your life and have begun to bear fruit in relation to it.

Let me know if it helps! 


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Quiet Time: You Never Arrive

You Never Arrive
I passed by the field of the sluggard
And by the vineyard of the man lacking sense,
And behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles; Its surface was covered with nettles, And its stone wall was broken down.
- Proverbs 24:30-31

I've had many music instructors, teachers, and professors over the years which I greatly admired.

Director S., was a hard driving typical type "A" personality who often brought artists to tears. But, he was greatly respected in the arts community and had a knack for presenting high level programs. We'd just finished a practice session in which I felt pretty good about what I'd accomplished; and, apparently my peers liked my work too as was evident from all of the pats on the back. While I packed up my equipment in preparation for the evening's show, Mr. S. moved in close and said, with dead pan inflection, "Doug, you never arrive." In other words, you did well, but you can always improve; so, keep working hard.

Mastering an instrument (or anything for that matter) is hard work. That’s why instrumentalists use the term "wood shed" as in chopping wood with an axe when describing personal practice time.
It is often long lonely work; but, then again: No wood - No warmth.

Proverbs 24:30-34 reminds us of the importance of staying on top of our game by consistently caring for what God gives us. I believe this extends to the talents God gives as well.

"Use it or lose it" (Proverbs 24:34)

Friday, April 22, 2016

Quiet Time: Glean As You Go

The Gleaners, by Jean-Fran├žois Millet
Glean As You Go
Being a person of noble character

“And she (Ruth) said, ‘Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves.’ Thus she came and has remained from the morning until now; she has been sitting in the house for a little while.” - Ruth 2:7

Read: Ruth (it's a short story well worth your time)

A worship arts pastor who leads a very large and growing ministry shared that it was his willingness to minister wherever God opened the door that eventually led to the position he now holds.

Pastor G. did not attend seminary and had zero formal training in either church leadership or music theory. What he did have, however, was a godly heritage and innumerable hours of practical application in leading worship. Like Ruth the Moabitestess, he worked hard in the field God placed him.

Had Ruth not been "a woman of noble character" (Ruth 3:11) Boaz wouldn't have married her, and her life would've simply been another meaningless loss in the mass of humanity. As it turns out, Ruth ends up being the great grandmother of King David (in the lineage of the Messiah) not to mention, a living example of self sacrifice and lovingkindness.

The takeaway: don't sell yourself short simply because you have no letters before your name (Dr., Mstr of..., etc...) simply glean the field God gives you and serve Him to the best of your ability. Like Ruth, you may find yourself blessed beyond your wildest dreams.

When we serve Him selflessly He opens doors we never knew existed.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Song Series: O Come to the Altar

O Come to the Altar

"Say to them, 'As I live!' declares the Lord GOD, 'I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?' - Ezekiel 33:11

Are you hurting and broken within
Overwhelmed by the weight of your sin
Jesus is calling
Have you come to the end of yourself
Do you thirst for a drink from the well
Jesus is calling
The Hebrew word for turn is "shub" pronounced "shoob". It means to return or to bring a person back again to the place where they belong.  
I am convinced that many Believers, as well as, seekers, think that God is angry with them, or at least, very dissappointed. This could not be further from the truth. God loves repenters! (Acts 3:19)
While it is true that God in deed hates sin; the reason for the hatred is not the sinner, but the fact that sin actually disprupts and intrudes on the love relationship that He so wants to develop. (Isa. 59:2)
That love relationship will grow, or in the case of a person seeking after the heart of God for the first time, will begin, when he turns from his sin to God through His Son Jesus, the Christ.
That's what is meant by "Coming to the altar".
Most Sunday morning worship services include an invitation to come to the altar. Although we certainly don't need to wait until then to repent and return to Jesus, that's not a bad time to do so.
O Come to the Altar, the Father's arms are open wide; and, so are ours.


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Song Series: This Is Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace by Gary Borse
This Is Amazing Grace

READ: Psalm 24

Who is this King of glory? 
The LORD of hosts,
            He is the King of glory.
                       - Psalm 24:10

Does grace amaze you?

The fact is, if we are willing to admit it, that we often take God's grace for granted. So, lets walk through exactly what it is that makes grace so amazing:

According to (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
  1. We are unrighteous (violating what God says is right) but for grace
  2. We are fornicators (involved with porno) but for grace
  3. We are idolaters (worship anything "money" other than God) but for grace
  4. We are adulterers (married people messing around with married people) but for grace
  5. We are effeminate (soft, a catamite) but for grace
  6. We are homosexuals but for grace
  7. We are covetous, drunkards,  revilers, and swindlers but for grace
Thank God, that Paul goes on to say  (1 Cor. 6:11) Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. 

WOW! God sees us as who we are not who we were

Now that is amazing! That is grace in action.

Standing in that grace we are motivated to worship. Therefore, when we see scripture like (Ps. 24:3) where the psalmist asks poetically, "Who can worship God?"

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
We answer with him in verse 4 :
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not trust in an idol
or swear by a false god.

We are clean because of grace; and, God gives grace to us; so, we give glory to God.

Who breaks the power of sin and darkness
Who's love is mighty and so much stronger
The King of Glory the King above all kings

Who shakes the whole earth with holy thunder
And leaves us breathless in awe and wonder
The King of Glory the King above all kings

This is amazing grace, this is unfailing love
That you would take my place
That you would bear my cross
You laid down Your life, that I would be set free
Jesus I sing for 
All that You've done for me 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Song Series: Is God Pleased with Me (Good Good Father)

Is God Pleased with Me
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. - Colossians 2:8 

I've heard a thousand stories of what they think You're like
But I've heard the tender whisper of love in the dead of night
And You tell me that you're pleased and that I'm never alone


Is God pleased with me? Yes, and there's nothing you can "do" to change that.

It is not what we do that merits God's favor 
but what Christ has done for us.

Q & A: 
  • What do you think it means to turn back to worthless elemental things?
  • Have you ever looked for answers outside of God's clear design for your life?
  • How can we guard against our tendency to turn back?
For further study: Proverbs 4:23, Romans 12:2, 1 Corinthians 15:10, Philippians 2:13

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Song Series: Good Good Father (part 2)

Good Good Father (part 2)
Who's are you?

But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? - Galatians 4:9

I've seen many searching for answers far and wide
But I know we're all searching for answers only You can provide
'cause You know just what we need before we say a word

When we forget Who’s sons and daughters we are, we slip back to the things that draw us away from Him (Gal. 4:9). When we seek first His kingdom and righteousness we live like Who's we are and draw near to Him (Matt. 6:33).

I've heard a thousand stories of what they think you're like
But I've heard the tender whisper of love in the dead of night
And you tell me that you're pleased
And that I'm never alone

God loves us not because of who we are, but in spite of it.

RECAP: His word says that He loved us "while we were His enemies" (Romans 5:8) and that when we are faithless He remains faithful (2 Timothy 2:13). That's Who He is.

Who’s are you?

If you're not sure; let's talk!

Song Story: Good Good Father

Friday, March 25, 2016

Quiet Time: God Is Good (this Friday and Forever)...then why is there suffering?

The Hand of God, circa 1123
God is Good (this Friday and Forever)
...then why is there suffering?

Read: Romans 8

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. - Romans 8:18

My daughter was about seven years old when she asked, "Dad, God is good right?" I answered,  "Yes, Candice, God is so good that He's better than the best good thing you can think of." She then asked, "The devil is bad, right?" "Yes, Candice, the devil is really bad; he is worse than the most wicked thing you can think of." Then she asked, "God made the devil, right?" I was shocked; not expecting to answer such theologically deep questions before her teen years! I can't remember my answer; but, I still remember the conversation because it is representative of the question often asked today, "If God is good, why is there evil and suffering?"

Obviously, in a short blog like this, the logical points and counterpoints can't be hammered out, but there is a straight forward answer in scripture:
Suffering exists because sin exists. Sin affected the whole of creation. One day, Christ will return. On that day, everything will be made right (Revelation 11:15). Until that day, Christ followers, as well as, all of creation, suffer the corrupting influences of sin in this imperfect world.

If you are a Christ follower, you live rejoicing in this present age. Though you have not seen Jesus, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.." (1 Peter 1:8). REJOICE! This is the only hell you will ever know!

If we are not a Christ follower,  then, surely we are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it (Psalm 39:6). We should indeed mourn! This is the only heaven we will ever know. (Hebrews 9:27)

God created all things good. Sin corrupts good things. Bad things happen when good things are corrupted. God is always good and works all things together for good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28)

Do you love Him?

Don't focus on the suffering; do focus on the Savior.

Further Study Links:

If God created everything, doesn't it mean He created the devil?

Why does God permit suffering to continue?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Song Series: Shout to the LORD

Shout to the LORD

Read: Psalm 98

Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; Break forth and sing for joy and sing praises. (Psalm 98:4)

My friends and I loved to play sandlot baseball as boys. Often times our games were cut short by Clemente's mother. Although several houses separated her from the sandlot, her voice easily pierced the air with a call for her son to come home.  "CLE-MEN-TE! VEN ACA!" to which Clem would reply "YA VOY MOMIE" which pretty much meant "Clemente come here NOW"...and "I'm coming, Mom" If Clemente didn't come fast enough the seemingly impossible would happen. His mom's voice would get even louder and instead of answering her again, Clem would simply leave (in a hurry) and our game was abruptly over.

That's the idea we should have when thinking about "Shouting joyfully to the LORD". The Hebrew word is "ruwa" pronounced "roo-ah') it means to figuratively split the ears with sound. We're told basically to give a rousing ringing cry of joy and to use every instrument at our disposal as we do so. The psalmist wants people everywhere to join as one and rejoice in the Lord's final salvation of His people.

I love singing praises LOUDLY with God's people! But, Psalm 98 also makes me tremble. Look at (Psalm 98:9). He comes to judge the world in righteousness. Thinking of God as my Heavenly Father brings comfort, but, the thought of Him as the righteous Judge brings a since of impending doom. God cannot forgo His position as Judge any more than He can His Fatherhood. Yes, I shout joyfully with others who are saved by the blood of the Lamb and now call God Father. But, I also mourn bitterly, for there are many people in my life who have yet to place their trust in Christ alone for their salvation.

Won't you trust Him today?
  • God loves you and wants you to spend eternity with Him. (John 3:16)
  • But, you and I are sinners and God is holy. (Romans 3:23)
  • We deserve eternal damnation because rejecting Jesus is an eternal decision (Romans 6:23)
  • But, Jesus paid the penalty for our sins and can bring us before God(1 Peter 3:18)
  • Won't you trust Him today and ask Him to save you? (Romans 10:13)
Then we can all SHOUT joyfully to our LORD  together for the joy of your salvation this Sunday!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Song Series: We Believe

We Believe
...but sometimes we doubt

Read: John 20:24-29

Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed." - John 20:29

...but sometimes we doubt. 

I've been working on the song "We Believe" by the Newsboys that speaks so well to what we, as Christ followers do in deed believe. It a refreshing modern hymn that couldn't have come along at a better time.

You see, from time to time I run across people from my past. Often the first thing they ask, is "Where are you leading worship Brother Doug?"   Naturally, in return I ask, "And, what church are you attending?" Many times the answer is some variation of, "Well, we're kind of between churches." Now, you know what I'm going to ask next: "Why?" The answers vary, but for the most part they all boil down to one thing; doubt. We doubt God's sovereignty and presence; plain and simple.

Christ's crucifixion caused Thomas to doubt his initial faith in Jesus as Savior.Thomas did what many of us do when we struggle. He withdrew and reassessed the situation (John 20:24). But, Tom was open about his doubt (John 20:25) and never stopped hanging out with the guys who still believed. Interestingly, had he stayed away from the other disciples, Thomas may have never experienced the resurrected Christ. Tom maintained his fellowship when he could’ve just walked away and that's when Jesus showed up (John 20:27).

It's okay to doubt and struggle with God's presence and sovereignty. But don't stay there; and, by all means don't stay away from other Christ followers. Instead, be honest about your struggles, get with guys and gals who love Jesus. After all, Jesus is present, in their presence. (Matthew 18:20).

So, "What church are you attending Sunday?"  

Get in His presence and don't give the devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:27).

Here's a link to the song with lyrics:

 Link to story behind the song "We Believe"