Posts Tagged sonship

Vision Trumps Everything: Core Values Part 1

Last week, my church celebrated it’s 20th anniversary. We also had a day of staff training in which we reviewed the core values of the Kingdom of God which we have embraced as an institution. As one of our pastors, Mike Parker, is always saying, “Vision trumps everything; the rest is strategy”. This phrase means that our core values and then how those values get applied to the unique vision of each ministry can over-ride or trump any strategic decision that the ministry has made. For example, if I am committed to a vision of reconciliation with the poor, but  I make a blanket statement that everyone in the music ministry has to be able to read music, then I am letting a strategic choice trump the vision.

Briefly, I want to share with you the core values of the kingdom and then how I apply them to our music ministry.

Gospel Power – Sonship

Romans 8:15 – For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have been given a new identity and freedom from sin and death.  We are once and for all time set free! As musicians, we are set free from the fear and shame that we’ve been loaded with by our past performance failures. We are also set free from the expectations of worship leaders to be sinless and holy-rollers. even from the “stage”, we can be honest about our sin because we are no longer “orphans”; we have been been full accepted.

Song examples: And Can It Be, In Christ Alone, Friend of God, Our Father , God Has Smiled on Me,

Reconciliation: The Bringing Together All People Under One Head – Jesus Christ

Ephesians 2: 13- 16 – But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

Through our adoption as sons and daughters, we now are one family of God. The sinful and oppressive lines of division that once existed between class, ethnicity, or culture have been erased in order that we made be restored to the beautifully diverse expression of God’s image-bearing humanity. As worship musicians, this unity is not invisible and theoretical, but living and active in the love expressed by sharing and learning music from the traditions of the saints in our community. The false dichotomy of “traditional vs. contemporary” music loses it’s meaning when we start to put the power of the gospel to reconcile us into practice.

Song examples: Jesus Shall Reign, Shout to the North, Jesus le Prince Glorieux, All Around,  I Need You To Survive

The Kingdom of God: Justice and Mercy

Micah 6:8 – He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

God has adopted us and reconciled us for a purpose: to demonstrate his love and power by acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with God. Caring for the marginalized and powerless is the obedient expression of our new life in Christ our King. As musicians, we have to place a priority on worship expressions that flow out of and then back into a daily life of justice and mercy. Worship services are not arranged to spiritually escape the world; instead we pray against injustice and we rejoice in God’s good works on the earth.

Song examples: O For a Thousand, Hosanna, I Give Myself Away, Fadhili Zake Ni ZA Milele, Hear the Call of the Kingdom

Stay tuned for Part 2: The Promises of God, Team Ministry: Functioning as the Body of Christ, Humility and Weakness, and Trials

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Conference Update – “If you build it, musicians will come.”

Is this heaven?

No, it’s the New City Music 2011 Conference!! 

Planning a conference, I feel a little bit like Kevin Costner in the film, “Field of Dreams”. If you haven’t seen the film, (or like my wonderful wife, you need a little plot synopsis to remember if you’ve seen it) Costner’s character is a farmer in Iowa who hears a voice telling him to turn his corn field into a baseball diamond. The voice only says, “If you build it, he will come.” Eventually, Ray Liotta shows up as Shoeless Joe Jackson…well…you get the idea.

Costner’s character feels scared and a little crazy as takes on a impractical, spiritual mission. I can relate to that. I start to wonder if anything will really happen or if anyone will actually come. I start to feel doubt that we have anything good to say or anything real to contribute. I begin to question my own motives and begin to fear a kind of divine retribution for being too ambitious and narcissistic. In Sonship, that would be called a classic “orphan mentality”. An orphan mentality produces fear of God that comes from taking our eyes off of the gracious gift of the cross. As a full son and heir, I can be confident that God is my loving Father who takes pleasure in holy fellowship with me through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus. With my eyes fixed on Jesus, I can see that all those fears were coming from a spiritual attack not from the Holy Spirit.

These fears are a smoke screen, but what is the reality. By God’s grace, we have an excellent lineup of experienced speakers and musicians who come from many different cultural backgrounds. By God’s grace, we have a wide range of registrations coming in from gifted multicultural music ministries who are all excited about coming. By God’s grace, we are still financially “in the black” and on target to hit our goal of breaking even. By God’s grace, our hope built on nothing less and Jesus blood and righteousness! Here’s a break down of who is coming so far:

Registered Ministries thus far:
New City Fellowship – University City (St Louis)
New City Fellowship – South City (St Louis)
New City Fellowship – Glenwood (Chattanooga, TN)
New City Fellowship – East Lake (Chattanooga, TN)
South City Church (St Louis, MO)
Crosspoint Encuentro Church (Smerna, GA)
Covenant Presbyterian Church (Orlando, FL)
Crossroads Presbyterian Fellowship (St Louis, MO)
The University Church (Athens, GA)
Covenant Seminary (St Louis, MO)
Concordia Seminary (St Louis, MO)

There’s more ministries that have given me verbal commitments that they are sending people, but I am not going to list them here until we get them registered.

Countries of Origin in addition to the USA:
Democratic Republic of Congo
Ivory Coast

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Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

I just got back from a family reunion. A good time was had by all. Ukuleles were strummed. Songs were sung. Card games broke out. It was a blast.

On Sunday, we had a worship service. My cousin, Dr. Matt Vos shared a talk that he gave at a Sociology conference a while back that was about mourning. If you knew my cousin, you would kind of chuckle at the idea of this guy talking about mourning because he’s a really funny guy who is constantly cracking jokes and cracking everybody up. He talk revealed a deep sense of mourning that he has over the brokenness in our world. As a Sociologist, he is constantly observing and criticizing the broken systems and patterns in the world. He shared in his talk that mourning is actually an act of faith. It’s an acknowledgment that things are not what they should be and that there is a God who is there to hear our cries. He shared the story of being in an eastern European orphanage and seeing the infants in their cribs eerily quiet; they didn’t cry because they had not been taught that their cries would be heard. Jesus said,

Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.

Those who mourn acknowledge that God is good, His creation is broken, and He will hear our cries and respond to comfort. He has not left us as orphans, but He has called us sons and daughters.

A family reunion is a good time because it gives you a sense of who you are and where you came from. Total strangers embrace as if they are old friends because they are cousins, aunts, uncles, or even 2nd cousins. A bonus for our family is to see the adopted kids who have been grafted into the Ward tribe. They were once forgotten and neglected and now they are made into family. We had hoped to add to the party with an announcement that we had been selected to adopt, but it didn’t happen for us this time around. Still, we had fun knowing that we were loved, not only by a group of distant relatives, but also by the faithful Father who adopted us by sacrificing His only begotten Son.

Psalm 116:1-7
I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.

Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.

The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came upon me;
I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.

Then I called on the name of the LORD :
“O LORD, save me!”

The LORD is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.

The LORD protects the simplehearted;
when I was in great need, he saved me.

Be at rest once more, O my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you.

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