Viewing: Worship and Mission - View all posts

“God is Love” Song Story 

I am inspired to write songs for many reasons.  One way I catch a vision for a new song begins with seeing a need.  I sometimes do music for a dinner outreach to needy people.  It’s one expression of Nightshift, near where l live in Surrey (nightshiftministries.org). 

As we play and sing, looking out over the crowd, you see a lot of abused folks who came from broken homes and have struggled to survive on every level – emotionally, socially, physically and spiritually.  Many of them did not have a safe family of origin.  Home wasn’t a place they wanted to be. 

Seeing this group—a mix of the working poor, wandering teenagers, addicts, sex-trade workers and homeless—inspired me to write, “God is Love.” 

God is Love 

Have you been struck down, have you been bruised 

In danger and so afraid? 

Have you been slandered, hurt and abused 

And you barely have the strength to pray? 

There is a home, there is a shelter, 

There is a hiding place 

Jesus is here, his healing is near you today 

Chorus 

God is love, pouring like a waterfall over you 

Taking all your pain, taking all your bitterness away 

God is love, crashing like a breaker over you 

Darkness and death can no longer hold on to you 

Verse 2 

He’s your defender, he’s your protector, 

Run to the shadow of his wings 

Rest like a baby, in his tender mercy, 

There is healing in his wings 

He is your home, he is your shelter, 

He is your hiding place 

Jesus is here, his healing is near you today 

Bridge 

This is the kingdom, this is the life, 

It’s what you’ve been waiting for 

This is the freedom, this is the love, 

It’s what he has made you for

On the Road Again 

Here are a few highlights of worship events from this fall in India, Langley, BC, Penticton, BC and St Louis, Missouri. 

A conference in Dehradun, India at the Vineyard church pastored by Sunny and Vika Gilbert.   This Vineyard was planted 20 years ago and is a fruitful sending church.  Lots of wonderful people and a great time with folks from many different churches in the region. 

Meetings in Delhi, India’s capitol city, hosted by Aradhna Vineyard.  This church is pastored by Emmanuel and Joyce Qureshi, a wonderful couple who were born and raised in India, moved to the U.S. for around 3 decades, and then moved back to Delhi to plant a Vineyard church when they were 60 years old.  It is a fruitful Vineyard with a wonderful 2nd congregation in a low-income neighborhood.  Lots of children from Hindu backgrounds are attending their services and equipping center. 

A worship weekend at Penticton Vineyard in B.C.  This 31-year old Vineyard is full of great people.  Really enjoyed hanging out with their worship teams.  God visited us in a special way in those meetings.  Always great to see Hart and Louise Loewen. 

A worship conference at Hope Vineyard in St. Louis, Missouri.  What fun to be back together with many of the band members from my Anaheim Vineyard days.  John and Audra Wyrosdick, David and Laurie Klein and Leo Song and I had a great time worshiping together and hanging out.  Some people were healed of physical ailments on Friday night.  I enjoyed staying with Robert and Kim Stovall, the pastors. 

In the 2nd half of November I’ll be in Denmark and Sweden for more worship events…Vineyards in Copenhagen and Gothenburg, a worship school in Umeå and a Nordic Vineyard worship leaders retreat.  Looking forward to it!

I Love to Write Songs 

I have been enjoying writing songs for over forty years.  I started when I was seventeen years old, right after I met the Lord.  Never dreamed that I’d write so many songs and sing them in so many places. 
  
I write songs for many reasons:  for my own “musical journaling,” for congregational worship, to bring encouraging messages through song both to the church and the pre-Christian audience. 
  
In my upcoming video tutorials, I’ll share a lot of my experience and pass along wisdom from many other songwriters and authors. 
Series 2 (coming out in Spring 2017) will include live video interviews with many other songwriters. 
  
Series 1 of my Songwriting Workshops includes these topics: 
  
Seven Reasons to Write Songs 
The Gift of Songwriting 
Ten Inspiration Situations 
The Discipline of Songwriting 
Flee Perfectionism 
Dodging the Fame Game 
The Anatomy of a Song Review 
  
I hope you can take away some helpful thoughts from this series!

God Takes Notice 

Yesterday evening, my band mates and I had a great time leading worship at the nightly meal at Nightshift Street Ministries in Surrey.  It was cold, but bearable – right around the freezing mark.  First time I can remember playing the guitar with a half-glove on my right hand.   We did a mix of worship music and secular songs with a good message, like “Lean on Me” (Bill Withers), “Peace, Love and Understanding” (Elvis Costello) and “Yahweh” (U2).  I add to the mix some prayers and short words of encouragement between songs.  Basically, we’re doing church for people who are too broken to come to a typical church. 
  
There were around 50 people having dinner and maybe a dozen volunteers serving food, talking with folks and praying for them. 
  
At the end, when I was packing up and walking to my car, a fellow followed me to my car.  In that setting—a mix of street folks and working poor, you always wonder what kind of encounter you’re going to have when one of the guests approaches you. 
  
“Alberta Jim” introduced himself as an artist who was staying in the homeless shelter across the street.  He was a “normie”—not an addict, and not destitute.  He owns a home in northern Alberta, but while staying in Surrey to be treated for Leukemia, he is staying in the homeless shelter. 
  
Last summer, he heard our band for the first time from across the street.  He said with a glimmer in his eye, “that’s not a stereo…I gotta check this out.”  Anyway, he said our music “changed his life.”  He was very grateful for our playing.  He also attends a weekly art class at Nightshift and says that hanging around Nightshift has taught him to be “more humble.”   There’s nothing quite like it when the Holy Spirit reaches into people’s hearts through the magic of live worship music. 
  
The Lord is gracious and compassionate…the Lord is good to all that he has made.  The Lord is good to people like Alberta Jim.  To those of who you serve the needy and lead worship in humble situations, never forget that God takes notice when you serve people like “Alberta Jim.”

Worship and Mission: Interdependent and Essential  

A few weeks ago I spent some time at the YWAM base in Lakeside, Montana.  I love the commitment to both Worship and Mission that is so evident in this community.  They love to draw near to God to know him better and better.  And they are fiercely committed to sharing the wealth of God’s goodness with their neighbors and the nations. 
  
Here are a few things I know about worship and mission: 

As we worship authentically, we see God, and know his love.  We get a taste of how good and beautiful he is and we overflow with gratitude.  We realize that every good thing in our lives comes from him. 

Knowing his love naturally leads to a desire to give away his love.  To put it another way, we worship because we love and we love because we worship.  

We can easily get sidetracked and distracted from the call to give away God’s love.  The biblical model of receiving leads to giving can get muddled by a watered down, self-centered vision of worship. 

This morning, my family sent off Jessica, my 24-year old daughter to go on a 9-month missions trip to Hong Kong and the Philippines.  She has caught the heart of worship and mission!  She is active in worship leading ministry and is now going overseas to help those who have been abused. 
  
Below are the lyrics to my song, Empowered.  Jesus told his disciples: “I have given you authority…”   It’s important for us to receive prayer for repeated fillings of the Holy Spirit.  But it’s also possible to wait forever for an empowering that we already have.   We’ll never feel 100% ready to “go and make disciples.”  It’s a step of faith!  Jesus has promised that he’s always with us.  If we keep on worshiping and pressing into him, we’ll have the strength to keep on GO-ing and loving people in Jesus’ name. 
  
Empowered 
  
My beloved children, I’ve filled you with my Spirit 
You are empowered to go 
I’m strong when you feel weak 
All you’ve got to do is trust me 
You are empowered to go 
The fields are white for harvest but the workers are few, 
So I’m sending you 
  
To go and bear fruit in all that you do 
For the kingdom of God is with you 
The doors that I open, no one can shut 
The kingdom of God is with you 

I’ve given you authority to bring my liberty 
To heal the sick in my name 
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Spirit 
It’s time to take a step of faith 
The fields are white for harvest but the workers are few, 
So I’m sending you 
  
Go and make disciples of all of the nations 
Baptizing them in my name 
Teach my commandments and always remember 
I am with you to the end of the age 
  
I will be with you, I will be with you

Looks Like the Book of Acts 

Just got back from a 17-day trip to St. Stephen’s Society in Hong Kong.  Here is what I saw and absorbed and want to live: 
  
1.  A Culture of extreme generosity. Everyone is generous to everyone else.  They demonstrate the maxim: Give and it will be given to you. 
2.  Close community.  Sharing life, friendship, laughter, breaking bread together day-by-day. 
3.  Helping the poor...lifting up the downtrodden…freeing the oppressed…welcoming the outcast.  A few hundred people living with them in different properties around Hong Kong—from teenagers to the elderly. 
4.  A steady stream of people coming to Christ. Example:  Their “Go Kids” program welcomed around 1,000 mostly non –Christian parents and toddlers on Good Friday, for worship, a chance to receive Christ and games for the kids. (see picture above with my son and daughter, Jessica and Ben)
5.  Healings and deliverance from demonic oppression. 
6.  A very strong emphasis on worship and the Bible. 
7.  Slow steady growth of this ministry began by Jackie Pullinger 50 years ago, now with affiliate communities in several other nations. 
  
It really does look like the gospels and the book of Acts. 
  
How I will try to follow this example: 
1.  1 day at a time 
2.  1 person at a time 
3.  Don't let my life get too busy and cluttered with things that don’t really matter. 
  
 

Numb Fingers 

Our fingers were numb before the set started.  The temperature was 5 degrees Celsius (41 Fahrenheit). Last night, our band set up the PA and our instruments outdoors at Nightshift (nightshiftministries.org).  We played for an hour while people ate. This is a nightly dinner served for people in need.  The volunteers mingled with the crowd, and prayed for some. 

We’ve been playing at Nightshift a couple times per month since last summer.  In the winter, it’s kind of crazy but it’s always fun.  We bundle up in several layers and my guitar goes way out of tune because it’s so cold.  Why is it fun?  Because we love to play good music together and see people touched by God—mostly people who wouldn’t go inside a regular church.  This is the closest thing to church they have.  Most of them are too broken and wounded to have the courage to walk into a traditional church (even if it’s a church that would welcome them). 

Another reason it’s fun is that we can play whatever we want to, and turn it up.  It’s not the regular “church rules.”  When you play outdoors during a meal, the boundaries of what’s appropriate are much larger.  Outdoors, the sound disperses and you don’t have people complaining that it’s too loud. 

Last night was typical – a handful of guys approached us to express their gratitude for our music, and our willingness to serve.  They always tell us what a huge difference it makes that we’re there.  It creates an entirely different atmosphere to have worship music (along with a few secular/Christian tunes) playing during the meal.  We welcome the Holy Spirit to speak and heal and he does it. 

This is where the action is.  “The meat is in the streets,” as John Wimber used to say.  It’s in giving that we receive.  We started playing at Nightshift because it was an obvious opportunity to bless the poor with our gifts of music and worship. 

God healed my arms in 2014 to show his love for me and to enable me to worship in places like Nightshift.  Freely you’ve received, freely give.