Worship Nights

4 times a year, we have our Worship Nights.  These nights are my absolute favorite, and I’m not at all ashamed to say it.  The entire night’s focus is putting all glory onto God.  We gather to sing, worship, praise, prophecy, and pray as sons and daughters of the King.

I have absolutely loved what these nights have become.  They started as a small idea to let those who serve Sundays fully enter into worship, not worrying about their Sunday duties.  They’ve transformed into a church wide event, where people show up so hungry to go after the presence of God as we enter His throne room with praise.

Many of you have been to our worship nights, I’ve heard some of the coolest stories that have come out of them.  But many of you who have followed my journey over the past few years, and recently with YEARofWORSHIP have been unable to attend, so this post is for you.

This is the audio of our last worship night.  I set my phone in the back of the room to record it.  Mostly for my mom, partially because I feel I learn a lot from listening back to what we do, but here it is for you.  There are kids and team talking in the back and points, nothing about this recording is perfect, but it’s our heart for worship, and for who God is.

My favorite part starts at around 56 minutes in.  I explain what we wanted to do, but when it happens?  Ah, so amazing.

I love this team, I love what we get to do in this city, and I love that I have an opportunity to pour everything I have into this right now.  If you’re interested in partnering with me, check out the link below.

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Fearless

One of the most clear things God has ever said to me was in the Canal ACE subway station, waiting impatiently for a train to get back to Brooklyn, about 2 years ago.

I had just had dinner with a friend, and we were talking about our futures.

I was listening to a worship set from the previous weekend, thinking about how I was unsure of my ability to be a strong enough (whatever that means) worship leader, leader in general, song writer, you name it…

My thoughts were interrupted by God saying:

“Your fear is faith in your failure.  And this is not about you.”

I actually think I took my headphones out.  Because, whoa.

Over the last couple of years I’ve been able to learn more and more about how God equips the called. He doesn’t always call the equipped.  We need to stop thinking that God calls extraordinary people, and only extraordinary people.  To be fair, we’re all extraordinary in God’s eyes, though we rarely see it this way.  I think God puts (what we consider) ordinary people into extraordinary circumstances, so that it’s obvious that it was God.

This is an extreme example, but take the plagues for instance.  The first two were easy to copy according to Pharoah’s magicians.  Once they got to the third with the gnats, they couldn’t explain it away.  “This is the finger of God”, they said to Pharaoh in Exodus 8:19.

I could tell roughly 1,000 stories of my friends that don’t make sense.  People who left jobs, bands, cities, to do what God has called them to.  To the normal person, they would look insane, irresponsible…  But then to see the fruit that came out of that obedience…  Man, you can’t deny God in situations like that.

Let’s be honest.  Most people probably don’t find Jesus when perfection is standing on a soap box, preaching at them.  We preach perfection (Jesus) from places of imperfection.   The grace that bridges that gap, literally saves people.

There’s a ton of examples in the Bible of not being fearful.  One of my favorite is Peter walking on water.

The following story is in Matthew: “And in the fourth watch [between 3:00—6:00 a.m.] of the night, Jesus came to them, walking on the sea.  And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified and said, It is a ghost! And they screamed out with fright.  But instantly He spoke to them, saying, Take courage! I Am! Stop being afraid!   And Peter answered Him, Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.  He said, Come! So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water, and he came toward Jesus.  But when he perceived and felt the strong wind, he was frightened, and as he began to sink, he cried out, Lord, save me [from death]!  Instantly Jesus reached out His hand and caught and held him, saying to him, O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

His faith kept him afloat, his fear caused him to sink.  Bam, simple.

I’ll leave you with this, because, as always, God says it better than I ever can:

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10

2014 in numbers + love.

By the end of this year, our worship team will have:

Played 196 services…

Lead 862 songs…

Lead 27 sessions of worship at special events…

Rehearsed for 308 hours in our studios…

Set up and tore down our gear 441 times..

Did 215 sound checks…

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This team works hard, and I’m so proud of them.  And this is why I’m doing what I’m doing with the YEARofWORSHIP.

I’m doing this because God told me to, of course.  But I really love these people.  I love their hearts.  I love how they worship.  And I love how they love each other.

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I really have the best job in the world.

 

 

“Where there is no vision…

… the people perish.”  – Proverbs 29:18

I went to Savannah, Georgia about a month ago.  The goal was to take a breath away from the crazy world that is New York City.  I had felt bogged down by all the tiny details that are a part of running a worship team.

I wanted God to speak to me on a bigger level, about both my team, and YEARofWORSHIP.

On my second day there, I found myself sitting in an old, beautiful church.

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I sat there thinking how beautiful it was.  And how the buildings where we gather in New York City look nothing like this.  I wondered how we make church beautiful.  God felt that was a good moment to chime in.

“I don’t need stained glass windows and ornate objects…”  He told me.  What I need is…  and what followed has since become the statement I have given my team about what we are building.

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“THAT is what will make my house beautiful” He said.

Well, okay.  Yes and amen.

 

 

 

The YEARofWORSHIP Video

If you’ve already visited YEARofWORSHIP, you may have seen the beautiful video made by my dear friend, Shawna Kaszer.

In April, when the decision was made to go in this direction with worship, I had coffee with Shawna, and told her about my very basic plan.  She asked me how I was planning on raising the sponsorships, and I really had no idea.  Like I mentioned in Goodbye Pride, asking for help is absolutely one of the hardest things about this whole journey for me.

So she said, ‘why don’t we make you a video?’  And bam, here we are.

Honestly, I had concerns that it would be weird.  Not because Shawna wasn’t capable, but I didn’t want to make something all about me.  But I love the finished product.  I love that it’s not all about me, because this isn’t all about me.  YEARofWORSHIP is about my team.  It’s about our church.  It’s about building and growing a community of worshippers in a city that influences the world.

If you haven’t yet, please watch it.  And tell Shawna how awesome she is.

And Shawna…  thank you.  Thank you for believing in me, thank you for making this, thank you for being awesome.

Goodbye Pride

For practically all of my life I’ve been a very ‘can do, and do on my own, I don’t need anyone’s help’ kind of person.

This can be incredibly problematic at times.

Example 1: I’m very short.  I often try to pretend like I’m not by doing things that a short person shouldn’t do.  It usually ends in injury or embarrassment.  (Or both.)

Example 2: I think I can handle far more than I can, then I overwork myself, get sick and frustrated, and turn into a not pleasant person to be around.

I like to do things on my own.  I am capable, I am independent.  Asking for help is almost as bad as my fear of spiders (arachnophobia, though I did google if there is a phobia associated with asking people for help.  There isn’t).

And then…  God messes with you.  He has this funny way of finding your ‘thing’, and prodding it until you give it away.

In March, God first suggested me taking a leap of faith, take a season to focus on worship, and raising sponsorships.

I said, ‘Absolutely not, God.  That’s lazy.’  And that was it.

Fast forward a month, in a tearful conversation with my lovely pastors Paul and Andi, where Andi says, ‘Why don’t you just take a season to focus on worship, and raise sponsorships…?’

Okay God, I hear you.

So yesterday, I held my breath as I published the post on Facebook about YEARofWORSHIP.  Some knew about it,  and were already partnering with me on the journey, which I have been so thankful for.  But, yesterday, I publicly said via social media…  I’m following God’s call, AND I NEED YOUR HELP.

And you know what’s cool?  Though it’s slightly nerve-wracking, I know God has this.  He’s asked me to do this, and I know he’ll provide.  And I know He will set aside people that believe in this call, and I won’t have to do it alone.  AND IN THE END, all the glory goes to God.

So, goodbye pride.  Here’s to following Him.

 

(PS-Check out the site, it’s pretty.)

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The Man Came Alive.

10405486_680749502149_7572946143855731276_nI love the song “Great Are You Lord” by All Sons and Daughters, but it came to life for me in a new way this weekend at the Hillsong Conference.

Judah Smith spoke a message where he talked about the verse above.  How we were nothing before God breathed life into us.  My friend Tyler pointed out something beautiful that I hadn’t thought about as well.  It doesn’t say God simply released life, or just breathed life… That He blew life into Adam’s nostrils, He had to get close.  How beautiful is that thought?

God gets close to give us life.  The lyrics of “Great Are You Lord” say:

It’s Your breath, in our lungs,

So we pour out our praise, we pour out our praise.

It’s Your breath, in our lungs,

So we pour out our praise to You, only.

Literally, His breath, His life, in our lungs.  How can you NOT worship with it?

God is awesome.

 

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Kintsukuroi (金繕い)

I recently discovered the art of Kintsukuroi:

Kintsugi (金継ぎ) (Japanese: golden joinery) or Kintsukuroi (金繕い) (Japanese: golden repair) is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with lacquer resin dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver or platinum.  As a philosophy it speaks to breakage and repair becoming part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.

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I’m so in love with this idea.  I actually purchased a piece of it the same day I found out about it, because I wanted a constant reminder of this concept.

And this is just art, imagine how the God of the universe feels about repairing broken things.

YOU are not broken.

YOU are not beyond repair.

YOU are a daughter or a son of the creator of the universe.  And HE adores you.  HE restores you, and the way He restores you is more beautiful than gold.

“The Lord is close to those who are of a broken heart, and saves such as are crushed with sorrow for sin and are humbly and thoroughly penitent.”Psalm 34:18

“He refreshes and restores my life; He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him-not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake. “Psalm 23:3

With God, YOU are restored.

With God, YOU are made new.

And with God, it is EVEN BETTER than before.

 

 

 

 

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