worship

Joy Made Complete

                                                                       Family hang-out at the Ivey's. Sawyer loved their puppy Landry!

                                                                       Family hang-out at the Ivey's. Sawyer loved their puppy Landry!

This week has been the busiest by far. I am not leading worship this Sunday, because I will be helping officiate my sister Johanna's wedding! I have been soaking up so much from my time as a resident at the Austin Stone it's difficult to condense it down to a blog post. On Tuesday I was inspired by a short sermon by John Dansby at the Austin Stone staff meeting. He explained how our praise, worship and adoration completes our joy in Christ. I've heard this concept before, but the way the concept was articulated really hit home. Worship and the proclamation of the gospel should be a natural response when we discover and encounter the magnitude of who Jesus is. No wonder there is an entire book of the Bible (Psalms) devoted to praising God! 

"Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous!   Praise befits the upright. Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre;  make melody to him with the harp of ten strings! Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts. For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord."  Psalm 33:1-5

John Dansby referenced Reflections On The Psalms by C. S. Lewis, during his short sermon. The insight of C. S. Lewis helped me grasp the concept of worship:

“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch; to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with.”  - C. S. Lewis

It really would be crazy to have just discovered that someone gave their life so that you could live and then not be able to tell anyone at all! Sharing the gospel is a natural reaction to God's goodness. For more on this topic, I encourage you to check out Sam Storms's article at Desiring God. The understanding of why we worship transforms our perspective and ability to worship God in spirt and in truth. We praise God not because He needs us to, but because we are gripped by the gravity of His love!

Wedding preparations this week! Jahnabell, Dusty and Sawyer may steal the show!

                                                                                  Family-Style Meal with the Austin Stone Worship crew!

On Mission

Yesterday was my first day! I feel incredibly blessed to be on mission in Austin as a worship resident. These past couple weeks, God has provided the support needed to begin the residency! Let me just say I am floored by the generosity of family and friends who are supporting us! You guys are enabling me and my family to grow in this gifting and vision the Lord has placed on my heart. It it so incredibly humbling and encouraging!

As you know something I find a lot of joy in sharing is Sawyer's love for all things music. Here he is jamming out on the keys!

I know what you're thinking: "is Sam the worship resident, or Sawyer??" I will eventually post a recording or video of myself, but let's face it, Sawyer is far more entertaining! And just so you know, he is actually singing the last line of the bridge in the Austin Stone Worship song: Jesus True and Only.

Again, I want to express my gratitude for all of the support that has been freely given. You guys are a true example of the early church that Paul talks about in second Corinthians:

"For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints - and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us."  II Corinthians 8:3-5

If you didn't get a chance to check out the mini-documentary I put together explaining what led me into this worship residency, you can check it out now! 

 

 

Sawyer The Drummer

This is my son, His name is Sawyer. He is 2-years-old and he loves playing the drums. It is incredible to see this little guy singing worship tunes at the top of his lungs, all while attempting a roto tom fill on his little drum set. Check out this video! You will laugh more than once, I promise! Sawyer is singing "This Glorious Grace" from the newest Austin Stone Worship record.

I am having a dad moment. I am super proud of this little guy. There is an indelible link between my life and his. As I am pursuing worship leading as a vocation, I see more and more every day the far-reaching influence I have on my son. I love worship through music. He loves it too. Maybe more. Just watch the video!

Beyond the delight of seeing my son take joy in music lies a deeper revelation. Becoming a husband and father has changed my perspective on life, and influenced how I perceive the role of leadership in the Church.

The call to pursue worship as a vocation has been a scary one, much like getting married, having kids, and the gravity involved in being the leader of a family. Much like marriage and fatherhood, I know there will be much required of me as I pursue a leadership position in the Church. I can say without a doubt that my wife Dusty, my two-year-old Sawyer, and my little girl Jahnabell, have prepared me for this leadership role. The leadership role I'm stepping into will require much, and the role of dad and husband has prepared me in a profound way. I have discovered that the only possible way for me to lead and serve my family well is to follow the model Paul taught in Ephesians 5. Paul begins in verse one explaining how we should, like children, model our lives after His:

"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." Ephesians 5:1-2

This passage parallels what I see happening in my own life and the life of my son. Sawyer imitates me as we should imitate Christ, and in order for me to be a loving father, as Christ is to us, I must love my family as "Christ loved the church".

"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." Ephesians 5:25

This directive is an incredibly dramatic calling considering how Christ gave himself up for the Church. Paul calls us to lead our families with Christ's love. The love that He demonstrated with his death on the cross that took away the sins of man. I am discovering more every day how marriage and fatherhood is a gift from the Lord in more ways than one.

"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!"  Psalm 127:3-5

Worship

I pushed open our front door, and immediately an amazing aroma drifted my way. Blonde curls stood shoulder high and blonde curls peered at me knee high. My wife Dusty and my curly-headed 2-year-old grinned from ear to ear. "Happy anniversary!" Dusty exclaimed with a broad smile spread across her face.

Yesterday, March 10th, was our wedding anniversary.  My wife Dusty completely surprised me and made my favorite dinner. It was a dinner that my mom used to make. Beef barley stew, complete with biscuits and a homemade apple pie from scratch. The time it takes to put a meal together while taking care of a 2-year-old and a 5-month-old is really an incredible gesture of love. I won't even mention that the process for putting together this specific stew takes hours. I can assure you though, the flavor is well worth it! It is so much more than just food, it nurtures the spirit and mind. It might be easy to think that it's just dinner, but it is much more than that. 

Several thoughts became clear as I was feasting on stew and biscuits: The time and loving effort it took Dusty to make this meal while teaching and training our kids, was a reflection of Christ's love. Sometimes I trivialize the every day, but this daily expression of love that my wife was giving our little family was a deeply meaningful example of how Jesus loves people.

God commands us to worship through song, but he also beckons us to worship him in "word and deed". Worship should be a daily act of love and communion with God and each other. Chopping veggies while your toddler is pulling everything out of the bottom cabinet is worship. This is something my wife does on a daily basis. It is also something I watched my mother live out every day of my childhood. In Colossians Paul writes:

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:15-16

It is easy to think that worship is something we do on Sunday mornings. We stand up and sing a few songs, then we're done. Worship should be a daily offering to the Lord, "whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus."  I don't think it is a coincidence that Paul writes about singing, and then follows up with, "do everything, in word or deed." It is vitally important that our perspective on worship goes beyond singing a few songs on Sundays.

I was blessed through my childhood to see this lived out every day by my mom's labors of love for her family. When she passed away early in 2013, this example of loving others daily has continued to etch itself in my mind. My mom had a heart for worship, not just singing, (although she loved to worship through song!) she lived her life day in, and day out to glorify God. She lived out Paul's words in Colossians 3. 

So when I got home from work yesterday and the aroma of stew and apple pie met me at the door it was much more than a good meal, it was much more than an anniversary surprise. It was an example of how Christ's love can transcend what we view as ordinary and make it extraordinary.

My sister Emma, is very gifted with words, and wrote the following shortly after mom passed away. Emma's words sum up our mother's love in such a beautiful way:

Bonny

She is beyond describing.

She loved roses and gardens,

books and babies

and baking whole wheat bread.

She believed in good things, in

speaking

truth and encouragement,

in always

benefiting the listener.

She loved teaching and cooking,

sharing and sewing,

and serving others.

She was brave, bold, zealous

for life and learning and loving

everyone.

She inspired, motivated, changed

each

and every person

to cross her path.

She wanted

for everyone

the deep, life sustaining

knowledge,

the relationship

with Jesus Christ

that bore her through her own life

unto the end,

and now the beginning.

She was brilliant, creative, and

beautiful,

and yet

beautiful does not describe her.

Fair perhaps, lovely, or

maybe just

Bonny.