3 Things I learned from Paul Baloche!

If you’re familiar with praise and worship music, then you probably recognize songs like “Open the Eyes of My Heart” (2000), “Hosanna Praise is Rising”(2006) or “Above All” (2008), by songwriter/recording artist Paul Baloche. About two years ago I had the pleasure of meeting him at an Integrity Music Songwriting retreat. From there a mentoring relationship formed. A few weeks ago, I was talking to Paul about a National Community Church worship leadership conference he would be attending. During the conversation he mentioned that he was recording; I told him I would love to come up and support him, and his response was, “Would you lend me your voice?” I was honored. Arriving in the studio in NYC there was a moment where I pinched myself to see if this was real. I was awestruck that I was in a room with a worship legend that has written praise songs for over two decades and has impacted the lives of millions of people around the world. I thought I was just coming to sing, but ended up learning a few things that would change my life. Here are three lessons from Paul for you and me.

Leading with humility makes you accessible.
It struck me that the person with the most accolades in the room had the smallest voice. With a receiving spirit, Paul listened to the ideas of others. He led with humility; he was ok with saying “I don’t know.” It was his servant-leadership style that allowed the people in the room to have a sense of ownership in the project. I was struck by how accessible Paul was and how that fostered a creative spirit on the team.

Have Fun, Life is Short
Our hearts were filled with so much joy and laughter during the whole session. Paul always had something witty to say! No matter how hard we worked, he always kept things lighthearted. I loved how even if there was an opportunity for tension in the room, he leaned into the moment with grace. There was a moment when he did not realize his guitar was in a different key than everyone else, but instead of him dwelling on the moment he quickly laughed and moved on to the next. I am a big perfectionist, but by watching him I wonder if I am missing out on life because I live in my failures.  

Bring your family & friends on the journey.
People say it’s lonely at the top, but it isn't lonely when you bring people on the journey. This is what Paul has done with his family. I was able to meet his wife Rita, son David and daughter Cherie - it was like a big family affair. His wife was helping with the vocals, David playing instruments and providing ideas, and Cherie was willing to be a part in away way possible. This truly challenged me about the ways I might be able to integrate friends and family into my own professional journey. I felt convicted that success should never be at the expense of the blessing of the people God has put in our lives. Achieving goals is wonderful, but people should come first - besides, I wouldn’t want to reach a goal and not have anyone to celebrate it with!

 

15 Min. Workout While Stuck In The House!

This morning I would normally be heading to the gym but storm Jonas has his way over the weekend.  My car is currently buried under 4 feet of snow.  

Washington, DC 

Washington, DC 

So this morning I text my trainer Ricky Jasper and he gave me a simple workout that I could do at home. 

5 movements. 30 seconds of the movement and 30 second rest.

Push ups, jumping jacks, sit ups, running in place and then planks! 

Do this for 15mins!! 

Let's keep up with our goals for the year! Looking for a trainer contact Rickey Jasper at 4:13 Health and Fitness.

Fear the silent killer: 4 ways to overcome!

Each year we are in anticipation of what the new year will bring. We write our list of goals, resolutions and strategies for success. And yet, at the end of each year most of us are left with that same list and are disappointed because we didn’t accomplish what we set out to do.

I sat down and asked myself why is this? While each one of us will have a different answer, my answer is FEAR.

Fear is the silent killer in our lives that keeps us from  becoming who we can be. Fears are set off by past experiences, rejection, failures, doubt and a lack of understanding of who we really are.  As we enter this year it is the perfect time to start addressing some of our fears.  I remember growing up hearing:  “Fear is false evidence appearing real.” Don't feel guilty about being fearful, it's normal and something we can all deal with. However, if you plan on going into business, starting a new career or just want to develop personally don’t let it prevent you from achieving your goals.  

First ask yourself: What past experience, rejection, failure, doubt or perception of yourself are you holding onto that’s stopping you from taking a risk?

Second, tackle your fear: Here are four ways to overcome fear.

Work your plan. It’s important to have a plan in place. When anxiety kicks in and we become fearful about the next step it’s good to have a plan to look at. This plan may be a vision board, map or written out in your journal. Whatever you use make sure the goals are measurable, attainable and realistic.  If we don’t plan, we plan to fail.

Take a risk.  There’s an old saying: “If you always do what you always have done, you’ll always get what you have always gotten.” Step out do something you are scared to do.  Get out of your comfort zone and take little steps each day. Soon the little steps will become a wall of courage.

Focus on the what’s true about you. Fear creeps into our minds at a very young age. We allow our failures, rejection and negative words to define us. We have to turn that around by feeding our minds positive things. Find positive affirmations that build up your self-confidence. I personally go to the Bible and find scriptures of what God says about me. As Zig Ziglar would say, “We are not our failures, they are only moments in time.”  Surround yourself with people that will assist you in seeing your strengths.

Bring a friend along.  You want someone who is honest with you and can push you when it gets challenging.  Walking alone is burdensome, lonely and isolating. The right friends will help you in all of these areas to achieve your goals.

 

4 WAYS TO FIND YOUR AUTHENTIC SOUND!

At the beginning of this year I had the opportunity to go hear Bishop TD Jakes speak to a group of leaders. During his talk, Bishop Jakes said something that resonated with me - “There has never been or will ever be another person on this planet like you.” That one line changed my perspective on life. For so long I found myself comparing my life others, not realizing that who I am is good enough. As I begin to understand this, I’ve started to see my true authentic self come to surfaceAuthenticity is a challenge not only in my life but also across many worship platforms in America. So often we’re eager to emulate the latest sound, compare ourselves to the church down the street, or keep up with what’s popular, that we lose sight of the reason for doing what we do.

How do you begin to find your authentic sound? Here are 4 ways to begin:
1. What’s your church DNA?
From charismatic, to liturgical, every church has a significant background that’s a unique fingerprint of your ministry. Understanding your church’s DNA will help cultivate an authentic style and sound connecting worship with the pastor and congregation. The worship team should be a conduit, connecting the vision, mission and call of the church.

2. Rehearsal
We can say that this is one of the most important times! Rehearsals are the breeding ground for excellence, new ideas and creating unity. A strong rehearsal means less stress during the worship set, allowing your team the freedom to be authentic in your leading. It also opens the door for more prayer time, laughter and growing together as a team. We all can use a great laugh!

3. What you have will work!
So what you don’t have the latest gadgets or 17 guitar players! The instrumentation and voices you have will do the job. It just takes a little more creativity to come up with a sound that works for you. Don’t limit yourself to the way the song you’re doing is recorded. There is a sound in your team that’s going to bring freedom to so many people!

4. Depend on the Holy Spirit
One thing I have been reminding my teams of lately is that the Holy Spirit is the minister and we are the vessels. It keeps the focus off of us and on Him. Who better to know what authentic sound God called us to than the Holy Spirit. Develop a daily relationship with Him in your quiet times, listening for instruction and guidance.

Worship is a two-way conversation between the Father and His children, as we offer up our authentic worship that He alone deserves. I think He smiles and says “that’s what I have been waiting for”. There is a sound that you, your worship team and church carry that has never been or will ever be heard on this planet like yours, pray on it, pursue it, and be authentic!

5 Differences Between Song Leaders and Worship Pastors

 

I grew up in a church that had a ton of singers, musicians and the most amazing choir directors. Each week we waited in anticipation of what the next Sunday would bring. “What song would they sing?” “Who and how would they lead the songs?” The most important question – “Who was going to run around the church, (which was always fun watching)?!” There came a point in time where I left the seat of spectator, and moved into the role of leader on the platform. It seemed seamless, like I had been doing it my whole life, only at the age of 13. In hindsight, I did not realize that I was being mentored and developed into who God had called me to be. The great influencers that were around me did it so well!

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:15 that we have many teachers but not many fathers. I look around today and wonder, would many of those who serve on our worship teams feel the same way? Do we have many song leaders but not many worship pastors? Are we too focused on the excellence of song rather than the purity of hearts?

Here are some differences I’ve noticed between Song Leaders and Worship Pastors:
1. Song Leaders care about the platform; Worship Pastors care about the people on the platform.
2. Song Leaders are concern with the next new song; Worship Pastors are concerned with the areas of transformation.
3. Song Leaders look for the next greatest singer; Worship Pastors disciple.
4. Song Leaders enjoy their songs be heard; Worship Pastors enjoy the song of the Church being heard.
5. Song Leaders look for opportunities to lead; Worship Pastors look for opportunities to develop and grown people on their teams.

While there are differences between the two, this is not an either or, this is a both and. We as leaders at our churches have been called to exist in both roles. We need to lead songs and people well. Here are three practices I have found to be effective:

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
It’s ok to take a few minutes to text, email or call people on your team to check up on them. We all love to know that people care for us. When people know that you are for them personally, it’s easy for them to follow the vision.

We should be motivated by the personal transformation of those we serve.
Our worship teams should be filled with life giving experiences. We have the opportunity to challenge, encourage and walk along side of those we serve as the reach their full potential. Sometimes it’s simply listening and saying let’s pray over this together.

We don’t have to have all the answers.
All ways point them back to the Source of all things. Be vulnerable and open about failures and success. Let them see that you are growing and the only true source of strength comes from God.

I am grateful for those who took time to speak in to my life and invite me on the journey. It wasn’t always easy because I can be stubborn, however they cared more about who I was becoming than my talent. They understood what it meant to pastor and care for my soul. Now I/we have the opportunity as we lead our teams each week to help them become who they were created to be. Let’s move beyond just leading a song to pastoring people.

Freedom through Vulnerability

 

For years I had been building up walls around my heart; protecting myself from pain, agony and the trouble of life. I became a pro at knowing how to keep people at the right distance and even keeping God at a distance as well. My heart was my own and I would never allow anyone to be close. Over a period of time, I became very cold and did not even know it. The biggest change was I noticed was how I lost my passion for worship. When you stop being vulnerable, you cease the flow of worship.

John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” God’s abundant life is not you being stuck in a corner trying to protect yourself. That’s how the enemy deceives you- so that he can keep you living a defeated life wrapped in loneliness, longing and trying to fulfill voids that only God’s love can fill. As a worship leader, you will lead the people from a position of an empty well. You are burning yourself out because you are not giving out of your abundance; there is no overflow.

In Him we live, move and have our being. Only God can satisfy our need for unconditional love, but we have to open ourselves, and be willing to be broken and vulnerable. In Psalms 51:17, it states that God is looking for the broken and contrite heart. In being broken you will find that the exchange of your weakness for His strength, your pain for His joy, and your anxiety for His peace will take place. Your life will become a well that people can draw from and you will be more authentic.

You become vulnerable again by first, confessing to God through your prayer life. Have a conversation with God where you open up to Him. Yes, it takes faith and yes, it’s painful, but you will find that it’s worth it! You will find that it unlocks His unending streams of grace, mercy and love. Today let your heart be overtaken by His love and you will find life!

I would also challenge you to find a community of people with whom you can be open and share life. As the Bible says, “If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:10).

Let this be the start of a new day, experience new freedom and live the abundant life; be vulnerable!

3 Ways to Fight Temptation!

She was everything I was looking for the right size, beautiful hazel eyes, the shape of perfection and a great conversation. The sad thing is she is not my wife. Don’t question my love for my wife; I love her but my eyes wander and just like any other man I don’t know how to stop. She is my temptation. Many of us find ourselves in this place every day deciding between right and wrong. And continue to fall prey to the desires of our temptation. Your temptation may not be to cheat on your wife but maybe it’s on your taxes, watch XXX films, be prideful or just be lazy. These appetites are shaped by voids, generational curses and our flesh; and cannot be stop simply by trying to ignore them or fix them on human intellect. I always say it’s prideful for a man to think that he can change himself. Jeremiah 17: 9-10 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.” Your question may be then if I don’t know what’s in my heart how can I free myself from falling to these desire’s so that I can accomplish my purpose and be the example of God in the earth.

James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation: for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” We must endure temptation because we have been given the power to overcome it when Christ died on the cross. But because we have been yielding for so long they have become habits. Now we could deal with the habits but that would be like dealing with symptoms of a sickness never finding a cure. I want to see you endure, overcome and live as a victor. There is a way of escape that is provided with every temptation we have to be willing to walk through that door. There are three keys that will help you do this.

Key 1
The first key for victory over temptation is to own your own lust. James 1:14 says,” But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” We must partner with the Holy Spirit to show us truth then be honest with ourselves. Once you are able to see your lust then you must track yourself. Track your ups and downs, where is it that you often fall, what emotions and thoughts are going through your head. As you take rule and understand how your lust works then you will have more control when the opportunities of temptation arise.

Key 2
Find scripture in the word of God so that you can build a foundation of faith. Psalms 119: 11 says, “You word I have hidden in my heart , that I might no sin against You.” As you hide the word in your heart it will increase your faith and belief about who you are in Christ. We mature as we grow from faith to faith the word will come in and challenge the issues of our hearts causing us to change our belief system. What we believe is what we will become.

Key 3
The final key is practicing victory every day. We practice this by being proactive! Knowing what your limits are and the word are vital. Then we have to put them in action. Watching who we hang around and what environments we place ourselves in. Doing Romans 12:2, by renewing your mind daily. My pastor always says who and what you hang around within 5 years you will be like. Constantly challenge yourself: Am I thinking like Christ? Should I be at this club? Can I call her right now the way I feel? J

Jesus was the greatest example He was tempted on all sides yet never sinned. God sent His son to show us what we can do. You are a Son of God and His power is in you giving you the right to overcome anything in this world. Knowing and understanding your lust, hiding the Word of God in your heart and practicing victory everyday will cause you to overcome any temptation.

Give Yourself Away

 

A few weeks ago I was ministering at a church the Spirit was very high, there was not a dry eye in the place. As I proceeded to minister, God said something to me that changed my life, “You pray and surrender to me at the moment of ministry but where are you throughout the week.” It made me think about all the times I begin fasting, praying and building myself in the word right before an engagement, when God was saying He wants access to me at all times. It’s almost like we give Him, His “15 minutes” of fame when He is the Famous One! God desires more from us, He wants our lives!

The reality is our minds are focused on many other things; whether it is our jobs, school, getting the best looking girl, money or simply living the “American Dream.” We have become too busy to hear God’s voice but want the rewards of intimacy. Praying the same repetitious prayers with empty hearts; having a form of Godliness but no power to change lives. Hoping that what we do behind closed doors is never found out. If it wasn’t for the grace of God where would we be?

In Romans 8:22, it says creation is crying out and is eagerly waiting for the sons of God to appear. Can you feel the knock of God asking you to yield everything? He is saying the earth is waiting for you! There is purpose and destiny that He has placed in you that’s far more important than the gig, relationships or money; what He has for you will last for eternity! God wants to heal our land but He can’t do it through dry vessels. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” It’s time for us as young men to gear up, repent, humble ourselves, pray and seek Him with all of our hearts.

There is a song written by William McDowell that says, “I give myself away, I give myself away so You can use me.” That should be the cry of our hearts. Not just on Sunday mornings, events or concerts. This should be how we live! I look at the state of our world it’s in pain. We have a hungry, poor, broken hearted, hopeless dying generation seeking for an answer. They are waiting on you! Give yourself away today! Give yourself away to the call of God with all your heart. Don’t wait until right before an engagement. Let Him use you in your homes, school, and jobs and in the relationships. I challenge you to make Him your first love again, spend time in your word and prayer daily. Most of all sit and listen for direction.

“Empty hearts, prayer less spirits, tired bodies, undisciplined minds, unopened bibles and careless attitudes have ruined far more worship services and lives that all the activity of hell. Satan is not our greatest hindrance to a true worship services or life; we are our greatest enemy when we seek to worship without having to pay a price.” (Pastor John Stevenson) Choose to give yourself away today that the glory of God can be release! You are the answer to this generation!