“The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.” Matt hew 22:2
‘m getting ready to record a new album this summer. The last one was finished 6 years ago, so there’s a lot of water under the bridge. I write most of my songs in a moleskin journal I keep by my bed. I keep thinking inspiration will hit during sleep, and I’ll need to have the journal handy to scribble the download. I’m still waiting for the first occurrence. I’ve tried writing songs on my macbook, which would be a really good idea, because my handwriting is truly an embarrassment. But, there seems to be some kind of connection for me between inspiration and writing with my own left hand.
I’ve used quite a few notebooks and written hundreds of songs. The vast majority aren’t worth recording or playing in public. I’m pretty sure my notebooks aren’t going to be worth much when i’m gone, except to people who know me. I like to go back and look through them sometimes though, because one story line I see going through all the songs is a longing for genuine expression of what’s on my heart. When I was young it was about wanting to find love. Later it was about the joy of finding love. Then I wrote about what I thought about God. Later, I started writing to God on a personal level. This led to songs for the church to sing as acts of corporate worship.
In the last few years, I’ve written anthems, laments, songs of thanks and songs of reflection. All of them focused on helping God’s people come into his presence with open hearts. As a songwriter and worship leader, I find great joy in being able to write songs that represent the heart of God’s people for him and the heart of God towards his people.
If you write songs, i encourage you to keep doing it, with increasing frequency. Don’t be afraid of having unfinished songs in your book. One of my songs took 15 years to finish! The more you practice writing, the more you’ll experience inspiration. The more you spend time in His presence, the more you’ll recognize God’s voice. Songwriting isn’t magic. There’s inspiration involved to be sure, but there’s also the willingness to just step out and do it. Write!
Linda, my wife, enjoys having people in our for dinner. She has a gift for making the place look warm, inviting and beautiful. She has an eye for detail, organization and function. The plates, the flowers and the lighting all are things she takes great joy in arranging. Now, some people do these things to extremes, trying to find perfection, driving others around them nuts with endless details and fault-finding. She’s not that way.
The reason she loves to make the house ready for people to come over is because she wants our home to be an inviting and warm place. A place where people feel and know they are loved and valued. Usually, when people come over, we have most of what we’re going to serve (appetizers, drinks, main course) already done or close to done. If it’s a potluck the house is set to recieve. When people are in our home, we want to focus on them, not be rushing around getting things ready and being hurried. As much as possible, we want to be relaxed and engaged. Linda sees it as a way of loving those God has called to be family. And a way of honoring people God has brought to our lives. By setting the table, by setting the tone, there is a freedom to focus on those God brings into our home.
People often comment they feel at home in our house. It is by no means a fancy place! The house needs gutters and paint. Our furniture is old and shows signs of wear. The area rug in our living room was taken from the display floor of a clothing store in the local mall over 25 years ago. But the house is beautiful, relaxing and welcoming. Our family, friends and visitors feel at peace here. Many deep, meaningful times have happened here over the years.
So what can a worship leader learn from this?
Knowing where we want to draw people’s focus. Being clear on what our focus is and how to bring others into that focus. We want to clear away the busyness and the rushing. We want to be present before the Lord, we want to be engaged as a worshipper and as one who lead others in worship. With all done and prepared so that with warmth and invitation, we can draw them in and then show them their place at the table in His presence. We want to set the environment, so that those we lead are free to see Him and just be with Him. We want to demonstrate what being engaged and present with the Lord looks like, we want to show what it looks like to have Him first and foremost in our worship. We disciple others by being a living, breathing disciple ourselves.