This past weekend it was my joy to serve on the worship team during the morning services. It’s hard to believe that I have played drums for 30 years now, and it is remarkable how the Lord has used music in my life over those years. I was able to play for two sitting US presidents during my high school years – not something I ever dreamed would be on my resume. Then I went to college at UNC Chapel Hill, where I had the opportunity to play for very large crowds, even over 100,000 people on several occasions as a member of the UNC Marching Tar Heels. In the colder months I would trade my snare drum and marching band uniform for a drum kit and a seat in the basketball pep band. As a lifelong Tar Heel fan, I am overwhelmed to think of how privileged I was to get to play drums for teams coached by Dean Smith and Bill Guthridge. I played in the Dean Dome for home games, in Greensboro and Charlotte for ACC tournament games, and in various arenas across the country for the NCAA tournament games. My first several flights were chartered thanks to the opportunities the Lord made available to me through the music program at UNC. I will always be grateful for the great opportunities the Lord has made available to me through music.
And it was through music that I was first able to serve the Bride of Christ. Through various churches I have been able to play music that praised the name of Jesus while making great friends and great memories. When my wife Erin and I first came to Community Bible in 2005 it was through the music ministry that I first got plugged into the church. Jon Eric had only been at the church for a little over a year when we showed up for the first time. There was a choir on the stage, an acoustic guitarist, a keyboardist, a saxophonist (Jon Eric) and a guy playing electronic drums on the floor in front of the stage. I was not impressed. But the Lord began to show how the gifts He’d given me were to serve the church and He began to grow me in really significant ways over the next 14 years.
With my role now as Discipleship & Administration Pastor I have lots of other commitments on Sunday mornings so it is rare that I’m available to serve on the worship team, as I did this week. But being back in the saddle was a great encouragement to me this week. I mean, I definitely became aware of just how rusty I’d gotten when I sat behind the drum kit at practice on Wednesday, and I also realized how soft my hands had gotten! But as I studied the music for this week and contemplated the lyrics, the Lord really helped me connect deeply to one particular song. The third song we sang on Sunday is called “Yes I Will” and the Lord ministered to me through that song, even during my prep for Sunday’s worship services.
The verse goes like this:
I count on one thing
The same God that never fails
Will not fail me now
You won’t fail me now
In the waiting
The same God who’s never late
Is working all things out
You’re working all things out
I love how this verse proclaims the unchangeable faithfulness of our God. It’s both beautiful and appropriate to celebrate the great attributes of God. Among those attributes are his faithfulness and sovereignty.
God never fails. So even in my time of need I can count on God coming through for me. In other words, even though my circumstances have taken a turn for the worst, I can be full of faith that God is still able, interested, and faithful to provide. God is not subject to circumstances. Indeed, He stands above circumstances. But often our faith is swayed by the circumstances around us. While we are called to be steadfast and immovable (1 Cor. 15:58) we sometimes feel like we are getting tossed to and fro by life.
But even in the being tossed we have a choice.
We can choose to praise the Lord. And we should do just that.
After recognizing the attributes of God in the verse, I love how the song lyrics move to praising the Lord in the chorus:
Yes I will lift You high
In the lowest valley
Yes I will bless Your name
Yes I will sing for joy
When my heart is heavy
All my days yes I will
The song writers go on to declare the choice that they’re making:
I choose to praise
To glorify glorify
The name of all names
That nothing can stand against
As I listened to and studied this song last week I was really struck by the declarations of praise “I will lift You high… I will bless Your name… I will sing for joy… I choose to praise”. These lyrics exhort us to move beyond the emotions of our circumstances and to worship the One who is praise-worthy. And what motivates this praise? The recognition of the worthiness of the One whose name is above every name (Phil.2:9). In good times and bad, in the ups and the downs, in the happy and the sad, God remains steadfast and worthy of our praise.
I had to ask myself how consistently I’m faithful to praise the Lord, even through the ups and downs of life. I wish that I could say I’d achieved a Grade A rating, but often times I also find myself being distracted by my circumstances and my gaze is taken off of the Anchor and becomes fixed on the waves. Sometimes I fall into a “what has God done for me lately” mentality instead of remembering Who I have the privilege of worshiping.
So, my encouragement to the church is to consider Hebrews 12:28 which reads, “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe”. Looking beyond your circumstances fix your worship on the Almighty, who was and is and is to come, and who is worthy of our praise.
I’m grateful to God for my church family, the opportunities and gifts He has given me to serve the church, and for the gift of music as a means to worship Him. This past week served as a good reminder to me of how music continues to be a gift to me and how service through music is a means of God’s grace in my life.
What means of grace can you recognize in your own life? Even if you’re in a difficult season, there are various means that God is using for you. Identify those and praise the Lord!