Holy Spirit, Rain Down

This is probably one of my favorite Pentecost Day songs.

Pentecost Sunday

May 27, 2007 – The Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost

Acts 2:1-21; Genesis 11:1-9; Psalm 104:24-34; Romans 8:14-17; Acts 2:1-21; John 14:8-17, 25-27

Tomorrow we celebrate Pentecost. Some would say and I would tend to agree that Pentecost is the birthday of the church. Jesus told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until what He promised (The Holy Spirit or Advocate) came and when the Holy Spirit came, He would bring the disciples great power. Luke records this twice. Once at the end of his gospel and a second time at the beginning of Acts. The book of Acts is a story of this great power coming on the disciples and they were able to do extraordinary things. As I preach tomorrow morning, I’ve come up with three things the Holy Spirit empowered the early church to do. The Holy Spirit not only empowered the early church to do these things, but he endued us (the church) to do these things today. What power does the Holy Spirit give us?

  1. The Holy Spirit gives us power to be witnesses of the gospel of Christ. In Acts 1:8, this is why Jesus says the Holy Spirit is coming — so that we can be Christ’s witnesses throughout the world — Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and around the world.
  2. The Holy Spirit gives us power to live lives of service. I sincerely believe that the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives enables us to be the hands and feet of Jesus. He has called us to live lives of service. I’m reminded of Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats. The difference was in their service to the Kingdom. The goats ignored the “least of these,” and the sheep served the “least of these.” James writes, “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of the Father is this, to take care of the widows and orphans in their distress and to keep yourself from being polluted by the world.” So we are to serve the Kingdom
  3. The second part of that verse of James alludes to the Holy Spirit enpowering us to live the holy life. Paul deals with this in Romans. “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” The Holy Spirit gives us power to lives the life that God has called his children to live — not lives controlled by our sinful nature — but lives controlled by the spirit of God.

As I read this I am convinced that without the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives we are incapable of doing any of this. We are powerless to be witnesses. We are powerless to live lives of service. We are powerless to live lives controlled by the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit makes all the difference in the life of the believer. Have a blessed Sunday as we celebrate the Holy Spirit’s coming to the church

My Musical Worship Journey – Part 3

The College Years

Last week, when I left off, I mentioned that in December of 1980, I received God’s call into full-time ministry. In the early 80’s, in our denomination, there really weren’t full-time music or worship pastors. Most churches were just starting to look at multiple staff. Usually that first staff pastor was a youth pastor. It was during those years that our church hired it’s first staff pastor and true to form it was a youth pastor. So, my journey began, having no idea how that full-time call would ever work out. My gut instinct was that I would be involved in full-time music ministry. My senior year of high school and the college-aged years were spent pursuing what I thought would be a musical career.

Over the next few years, I would be involved in various musical groups. Yes, I still sang with my family. Like I said last time, I was recently listening to some of these recordings and they wern’t too bad. What was interesting was that we had the chance to sing in churches that were liturgical or “high church” in nature or what you would call mainline denominations. They were very receptive of our music and the gospel message that our family presented. We sang in various churches of family as well and would get together to jam. I even remember singing at some family reunions, when we would sing both gospel and country songs.

As I write, I remember other things from my childhood. My mom and dad had various musical friends and they would come over to our house, or we would go to theirs and we would have jam sessions. Music was always part of my life.

In addition to all of this, I also was very involved in our church’s music ministry. I sang in the choir each week, played bass or trumpet when needed, and helped with the youth group. I think is was during this time that I taught myself guitar, sometimes electric — sometimes acoustic.

Kansas_-_Vinyl_ConfessionsMusically, I was listening primarily to Contemporary Christian Music and my tastes were quite diverse. One non-Christian album that came out really got my attention. I was listening to a syndicated late-night radio program out of Nashville, called the Larry Black Show. He introduced this particular song by reading the lyrics and then he played it. It was like nothing I had heard before. The song was “Crossfire” by Kansas and immediately became a favorite. The Vinyl Confessions album was selected as one of the top albums of the year by CCM Magazine. I enjoyed listening to this classically influenced rock. Livgren continued his career and I still enjoy listening to his prog rock styled music.

I was also pursuing a regular career to support my musical career. I went to college to learn how to program computers. They called it data processing at the time. After college, I went to work, still with the idea of moving toward full-time music ministry.

The first of the bands that would show some promise came together and within months of forming imploded on itself, four of the band members including myself (we numbered seven or eight at one time,) regrouped and began to practice. It wasn’t long before we had several places to play. I even bought a new bass and about a year later bought the band sound equipment. Most of which I still own. We played several shows and then our guitar player quit. It took several months to regroup. After our regrouping, we had a more acoustic pop/rock sound. This group was the first with an official name, “Jeremiah,” or “Unite.” It lasted a while with different personnel until I decided to quit…

Where was all of this going? Where was God leading me? What was next? There were several influencing factors, which we’ll look at next week.

Vision and the Small Church

Blogging pastor Chuck Warnock offers some thoughts to chew on about vision and especially as it relates to the small church. He pastors a church not too far from Martinsville.

  • Vision can replace mission as the focus of the church.
  • Vision often is the product of one person’s thinking — the pastor.
  • Vision is an ego-feeder.
  • Vision often does not connect to the church’s shared memory and history.
  • Vision is usually about how a church can be bigger, not better.

I encourage you to read the article to see it in context. I love how he finishes the article.

Okay, so I’m vision-bashing a little bit here. But I’m also learning that the small church has a story, a history, a shared memory, and that the future of God is among the people of God. Does this mean we just all drift along like leaves in a stream? No, but it does mean that we are constantly in conversation within the community of faith about what God is doing, where God is taking us, and how we are participating in the mission of God. And that conversation is not a monologue.

It has given me something to think about.

Sunday Thoughts – May 20th

As you’ve already seen, today marks my one year anniversary of blogging and today we celebrated our church’s 58th anniversary. My very post was a short reflection on Homecoming last year.

We had two great services and a great time of fellowship this afternoon. Thanks to all who helped and brought food and thanks to Steve for sharing your music with us. God has been faithful to us for 58 years and we are looking forward to many more years.

Worship Box Score

May 20, 2007
Seventh Sunday of Easter

Homecoming Sunday
Celebrating 58 Years of God’s Faithfulness

Call to Worship – Psalm 97
Songs of Worship – How Great Thou Art, How Great is Our God
Invocation and Prayer
Special Musical Guest – Steve Doss
Offetory Song – Give Thanks
Message – The New Jerusalem
Song- Shall We Gather at the River

One Year Blogging Anniversary

Today I have been blogging for one year. It’s really hard to believe that I’ve been able to continue. At first I thought I wouldn’t have anything to write, but those fears are gone. It seems it’s been just weeks since we passed the 1,000 visit mark and this week we passed the 1,500 mark. Thanks to all you who read this on a regular basis and all of you know who you are.