Grandma, Basketball, & Worship


Worship is a lifestyle that most certainly reaches far beyond just singing. But as a worship leader, I want to share a few thoughts on the musical aspect of worship. Music is such a powerful medium. Music can inspire, and lift the soul like nothing else can. Something happens when a heart that has a genuine desire for God is exposed to music that is designed to worship God. Surely the Lord delights in the joyful noise, but my guess is that He delights in the heart behind the noise even more.

Regardless of our taste in musical format, whether it be hymns or modern choruses or somewhere in between, our heart is what God focuses on. And in turn our focus should see past the style of the song and fixate on the One that the song is about. We practice this in other areas of our lives without even recognizing it. So often, we enjoy activities and events that really don’t interest us in and of them selves. What makes us enjoy those things is that someone we have a passion for is involved in them.

For example, a grandmother may attend a basketball game and have the time of her life even though she really doesn’t enjoy the sport of basketball. What made the difference? Her grandchild was on the floor playing in that basketball game. She is able to look past the game that she doesn’t really care for and focus on the one she is passionate about; and it makes the experience extremely meaningful to her.

A young man goes to the theater to see an on stage production of a musical when he has no interest in musical theater whatsoever. What causes him to enjoy the evening – his passion and interest in the girl who has a role in the musical. His focus is on the one his heart longs for and not on the musical itself.

When you and I enter into a worship service, it is my prayer that we could see past the words on the screen, past the tempo of the song, past a hymn or a chorus and let our hearts focus on the One that the song is written about. If that is our attitude, we will be more engaged in worship and find so much more meaning in songs of all styles.

What is your favorite line from a Worship Song or Hymn?

(Reposted under new title.  Originally posted February 24, 2012)

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Our Worship Leader Can’t Sing!!

Can't Sing

Hi, my name is Jason, I’m a worship pastor; and I can’t sing.

About 6 weeks ago, I came down with the flu, which turned into a chest cold with a horrible cough that has hung on for weeks. Subsequently, my throat has been put through the proverbial ringer. And that has left me without a singing voice. I can talk and carry on conversations. But when I try to sing, and especially when stand to lead worship through song, I have a very raspy, rough, off pitch voice that is nothing even close to what I am used to.

My voice, in particular my ability to sing is something that I have been known for, all be it in pretty small circles. I have led worship in churches for the past 24 years. I have sung with dynamic singing groups. I have performed with opera companies and musical theater. I have been singing solos in church from the time I was four years old. If you’re thinking to yourself, right now, “Wow, he’s kinda proud of his voice.”… you’d be correct. Truth be told, my voice is something in which I have held a very deep amount of pride – sadly an unhealthy amount of pride, or even more sad, an unspiritual amount of pride.

The first few weeks of this experience , I found myself leaving the stage of our sanctuary feeling frustrated after leading worship. I hated the way my voice sounded. I began to say things like, “God, how am I supposed to lead worship without a voice?” And He answered. The soft gentle voice of the Holy Spirit began impressing on my heart, “Jason, if you are leading worship from your heart as it was intended, your voice shouldn’t matter.” I’ll confess, that wasn’t the answer I was looking for.

In the weeks following, God began to take me through a process where I rediscovered what it meant to lead people in worship. For the first time in a long time, I was reminded that worship wasn’t about standing in front of a congregation and singing. It was about leading people to a place where they can have an encounter with the Savior. Worship wasn’t about me, or my voice. Like everything else, it was and is all about HIM!

Please understand, these weren’t new concepts to me. These were things that I had spoken aloud to my congregation, my students in our Student Ministry. Worship is all about Him. Why was it so hard for me, a worship leader, to put that into practice when it came to my voice? The answer, as I alluded to before – Pride. I came to a point where I needed to cry out to God and ask His forgiveness for holding on too tightly to and even abusing a precious gift He had given me. It has been a very humbling journey thus far.

So, how do you lead worship without a singing voice? God has led me to several answers to that question. A few of them have been, rediscovering the beauty of scripture, God’s spoken Word, and it’s place in a worship service. We have made more use of worship videos to re-engage our people during services. And when the times have come to sing, I have had to back off and sing lightly and rely on other’s voices. We have very gifted people who serve on our praise team each week. It has been their voices that have led out in the past few weeks. But I think my favorite times have been when I have just stopped singing all together in the middle of a song and enjoyed the incredible sound of the voices of God’s people singing out to Him collectively in worship.  Wow!

Hi, my name is Jason, I’m a worship pastor; and I can’t sing.

And that’s ok. :)

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7 Things Every Student Pastor Needs To Know


Having spent over 20 years in student ministry, these are just a few brief thoughts that I felt led to share:

1. You Bring Nothing To The Table

A great friend of mine spoke this truth into my life several years back and he reminds me of it often when we are discussing ministry. He tells me, “You bring nothing to the table but your unrighteousness. Jesus brings everything else!” Before your pride starts letting you believe that you are God’s gift to ministry, allow this truth sink in and humble your heart. Because that is when true ministry happens. When we start to understand that this thing is not about us or our abilities, but rather it is all about Christ taking the wretches that we are and choosing to use us in His kingdom work, that’s when He begins to get the true glory in our lives and in our ministries.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” – James 4:10


2. You Should Partner With Other Student Ministers

I struggled with this for years in my ministry. I used to think that only small and weak student ministries needed to team up with other Churches in order to do events. I felt that if I was to partner with another Church for a ministry project, it was a poor reflection on me or that it expressed my ministry couldn’t do it alone. Looking back on it, it was really a pride issue. If I partnered with another minister to do an event, then I would have to share the success and glory that would come out of it. That is a sad place to be in ministry. The truth is, at times, we can do so much more Kingdom work collectively than we ever could apart. I’m not saying you have to team up for everything on your ministry calendar.   But, at times, there are benefits to working together with other ministries.

“Therefore we ought to support others, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.” – 3 John 1:8


3. You Are Vulnerable

No matter who you are, no matter how strong your faith, you are vulnerable to a spiritual face plant. The real truth is that I am a sinner. And because of that, left to myself, without Christ’s influence in my life on a daily basis, I am capable of some very ugly, vile, nasty, grossly offensive things. I must commit to daily renewing my mind with the Truth of the Gospel. When I don’t, I leave myself spiritually exposed and even more vulnerable to attack.

Whether it be moral failure, divorce, addiction, or some other form of stumbling, be certain that Satan is looking for the opportunity to destroy you. I speak from experience when I say that these things can and will cost you your friends, your credibility, your reputation, your family, and your ministry. Be diligent in guarding your heart. Be tenacious when it comes to protecting your marriage. And always strive to be morally above board in all your dealings, ministry or otherwise.

In addition, be very careful how you treat and speak about another minister who has stumbled. Show the grace and love that you would want to be shown if the situation was reversed.

“Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” – Proverbs 4:23


4. You Need Accountability

This is something that we as ministers hear all the time, but rarely use it effectively.  We must have accountability in all areas of our lives. Men, if your wife doesn’t have the password to your phone, computer and all social networks that you are a part of, she needs to. (on a side note: and I know there are exceptions, but if you don’t have small children and you feel the need for a password on your phone, that’s a red flag.)

I have two guys in my life that I talk to on at least a weekly basis. We know the good, the bad, and the ugly about one another. I know I can call when I am struggling or when crisis hits my life and I trust them to speak the Truth in love to me. I know that they love me unconditionally, but they are not afraid to ask me tough questions or confront me when needed. If you don’t have a friend like that, find one.

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17


5. You Still Have A Lot To Learn

No matter how many years of ministry you have under your belt of Truth, there are always ways you can improve your ministry. If you are just starting out, listen and learn from some guys who have been in ministry a while. If you have been in ministry for a while, listen and learn from some of the younger guys who have some fresh, new ideas. The way you’ve always done it is not always the best way to keep doing it. Take some time, find a conference that you feel like will be a benefit to you in your ministry, and go. Ministry, technology, and culture are always changing. We need to be willing to adapt our ministries methods (without compromising the message) to effectively reach students. Never reach a point where you are unwilling to learn something new.

“Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it.” – Proverbs 8:33

6. You Will Not Always Be Liked

I am a people pleaser by nature, so I struggle a lot with this one. Leading effectively does not equate with always being liked by everyone. There are going to be plenty of times in your ministry when students, parents, Church members, and even fellow staff members are not going to like a leadership decision that you make. You are called to honor God in your ministry. At times, that means making tough decisions and standing by them.

I’m not saying that you don’t take other people’s feelings into account. We are commanded by God to see others as more important than ourselves. But you cannot compromise your ministries integrity to save people’s feelings towards you. This is especially difficult when it comes to students. You are called to be their Student Minister, not their friend. That is a fine line to walk at times because those two roles cant always coexists.

But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’” – Acts 5:29


7. You Have To Be Genuine

A former pastor of mine once told me that, “Talent and ability will only take you so far in ministry. If you aren’t genuine with people, you will not be successful.”   Especially with students, if you are not real with them, they will see right through you. You can’t stand up in front of a group of teenagers and plead with them to follow a pattern of life that you yourself aren’t living out in front of them. Your Student ministry will ultimately reflect its leader. If you compromise in your walk, your students will do the same. If you live out a life that is bold for Christ, you will inspire the same in your students. Be Real and your students will do the same.

“So that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—maybe found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” – 1 Peter 1:7

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Jesus Rx

Jesus Rx

Like many people, I have been battling allergy related illnesses this Spring. Last week a head and chest cold took me down hard. When I’m sick like that, the remedy I reach for is Nyquil. A bottle of Nyquil will last the average person 3-6 months. A guy my size, it lasts about 2-3 days.   That little cup they give you as a dosage measure, it goes in the trash with the plastic safety wrap.

So, usually after 2 or 3 nights with my Nyquil, the cold passes. Did Nyquil cure my cold? Not at all. It simply helped me manage my symptoms.   The countless medicines out there on the market, for whatever type of ailment, all basically do the same thing. They don’t cure the sickness, they help mask the discomforts caused by the sickness itself.

We were all born with a spiritual sickness to which we have no cure on our own – Sin. And we turn to many things in life to help us mask the pain that our sin causes. Some turn to substances; some chase after fortune to satisfy the emptiness inside; still others attempt to find relief in relationships.

The symptoms that we try to cope with – anger, bitterness, loneliness, fear, guilt, pride, self worth, selfishness – they are tied back to the deep seeded sickness found in our sin nature. And there is no cure that this world can offer.

Sadly, even as Christians, too often, we treat Jesus like He is our Spiritual Nyquil. We turn to Him only when life gets tough and difficult for us to manage. Got a problem? Pull Jesus off the shelf and ask Him to help us deal with it.

Christ did not come to earth, die on the cross, and raise from the dead to help us manage our symptoms of sin. He came to be the cure for our sin once and for all.

He didn’t come to make your life better.
He came to make your life brand new.

He didn’t come to remodel us.
He came to remake us.

He’s not a self-help method.
He’s our Salvation.

He is the only CURE for the sickness of sin. Stop trying to manage the symptoms of the sickness. Start living in the freedom found in being cured.

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“I Just Can’t Talk To People About Jesus”


“I just can’t find a way to talk to people about Jesus without seeming pushy or awkward.”

Ever heard that? Ever said that?

Sometimes we make the whole concept of “talking about Jesus” entirely too difficult. Having a Gospel conversation with someone doesn’t mean you have to beat them over the head with the Bible – starting at Genesis and telling the entire story through Revelation.

Talking about Jesus means at some point, we turn the conversation towards Christ, even if it is just for a sentence.  Sometimes it may lead to the conversations opening up to discuss your faith; other times it will just be a quick mention of Christ and then the conversation moves on.

The excuse that it’s really hard and at times awkward to just turn a conversation is not a valid excuse at all. We turn conversations all the time.

For example, you don’t have to talk to me for very long before I will be telling you about my wife and kids or pulling out my phone to show you pictures of them. Am I being pushy? No. I am just passionate about my family. So I take the opportunity to let people know that whenever I see the chance.

Guys, you have your favorite team. You turn conversations toward that team all the time – “Did you see the game last night?” “Did you hear about the big trade?” “Did you hear our third string half-back has an ingrown toenail and is out for two weeks?” – Why? It’s something that you are passionate about. You find joy in talking about it.

Ladies, let’s say you find a great deal on a particular outfit at your favorite store.   I mean you get this thing for a steal because of the in-store discount combined with an online coupon you had and Venus being aligned with Jupiter and all other sorts of things. How long do you wait before you work that in to a conversation with a friend? You can’t wait to tell someone! You are excited about it and you don’t care who knows it!

The truth is, we talk about what we are passionate about. We don’t have to work hard or be manipulative to work those things into our everyday conversations. They just come out of us because they are things that are important to us.

If we are living the type of lives that Christ has called us to live and allowing Him to permeate every area of our life, if He is our true passion, guess what? – He will begin to pop up in our daily conversations.   Many of those mentions of Christ will not be anymore than a sentence long. But some might be. Just see where the conversation takes you

Stop making it so hard on yourself. Just try it. Turn a conversation towards Christ today.

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7 Methods of “Bracketology”

logo marchmadness_2011

Today is an awesome day if you are a College Basketball fan – the bracket is set, the teams are seeded, and the contest invitations are suddenly outnumbering “Harlem Shake” video links.

The tournament kicks off in three days; unless you count the “play-in” games, which I don’t (until my team lands in one).  And yes they are play-in games, not the first round.  I refuse to tarnish the splendor that is the first Thursday of The Big Dance by referring to it as the “second round.”  Whether you are a casual watcher or a die-hard fanatic, it is hard not to get caught up “hoop”la that surrounds this special time of year in College Sports.

Millions of people are once again filling out their brackets.  Some do it for fun, some do it for prizes, and some do it for bragging rights.  And then they will sit back to see how their selections play out. As I begin the process of filling out my bracket today, I ponder the many different processes that people employ when making their bracket decisions.  Here are a few systems of selection that I came up with:

“The Seeder”
This person that goes straight down the bracket and picks the highest seeded team in every game.  They have not watched a college basketball game all season.  And they are only filling out a bracket because they can’t say no to peer pressure.

“The Statistician”
This is the guy that knows every detail about every match-up.  Right down to the shoe size of the second string small forward on a random 16 seed team.  He spends way, way, way too much time filling out his bracket.  And then spends even more time telling everyone about the hows and whys of each of his picks.  This is also the guy who will be cursing at the TV and telling everyone how jacked up his bracket is by the second round.

“The Fan”
No matter what the odds, they pick with their heart.  Their selections are based on creating the best case scenario for their team to make it to the Final Four.  And of course, once their team is there, they WILL win it all!

“The Flipper”
This person has no problem figuring out the easy picks.  But if the truth is told, when it comes down to the 7 seed versus a 10 seed or even worse, a 8 versus a 9, they pull out a quarter and let fate decide.

“The Buzzer Beater”
They will fill out a bracket at the last minute; just in the nick of time simply because they don’t want to feel left out.  They will rush through their picks because of the time deadline and they will spend the entire tournament second guessing themselves.  The regret and shame they put themselves through will turn out to be a far worse feeling then having just been left out of the contest in the first place.

“The Old School”
This is the person who hasn’t watched college basketball since 1980; and all their picks are based on the talent level of the teams as they knew them back then.  In some cases this is an okay thing.  In some cases this is a very bad thing.  These are also the only brackets that may contain “write-in” selections.  This is where they remember a team that was really good back-in-the-day and think they should be in the mix now.  So, they just add them to the list.

“The Color Coordinator”
Usually a sister, wife or a mom who decides it would be fun to jump into to your bracket tournament filling out contest thingy.  They make all their selections based on the team that has the prettiest colors or best coordinated uniforms.  And on a side note, these ladies’ brackets more often than not unexplainably finish near the top of the contest if they don’t win the whole thing.

What are some methods you or “a friend” have used?

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Do You Follow Jesus?


Do you follow Jesus?

The twittersphere has redefined that word:   follow.

Many people in today’s culture have reduced the idea of following Jesus to just that.  We treat our “relationship” with Christ as if He is a Twitter account.  From time to time, He will show up on our life’s feed amongst all the others influences that we “follow.”  We give Him a quick glace as He makes an appearance, sandwiched between our friends and the other cultural icons that we “follow” religiously.

We even take that extra step and intentionally check out His feed by going to Church almost once a week.  And there is always something there that makes us think – not for very long; but think none the less.  On the rare occasion we even re-tweet what He has to say on our life’s feed and for a brief moment we let His truth impact our lives.  But sadly, that too fades away all too quickly as our attention is once again swept away by other influences.

But, hey, at least we’re “following” Jesus.  Right?

Just a reminder about what Jesus said it meant to follow Him:
“And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'” – Luke 9:23

Following Jesus does not mean that we insert Him into our lives and treat our association with Him like it’s just another hat we wear: I’m a parent, I’m a teacher, I’m a student, I’m a spouse,  I’m a child, I’m a baseball player, I’m a fisherman, I’m a computer programmer… oh, yeah, I’m a Christian too.

Following Christ doesn’t mean we simply add Him to our life.  It means we give up complete  control of our life to Him and He in turn affects every facet of our life: I’m a Christ Follower who is also a parent, I’m a Christ Follower who is also a student, I’m a Christ Follower who is employed as an Accountant, I’m a Christ Follower who enjoys Cheerleading, I’m a Christ Follower… That has to be the driving force of a person that truly follows Christ.

So the question remains … Do you follow Jesus?

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