The Miraculous vs. The Minimum [Part 2/2]

“What if God is basing His miraculous on our minimum?”

Keep in mind that this is just an IF question. God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omni-present which means He can do whatever He wants to whenever He wants to do it. Ultimately, this IF question is to get you to think unselfishly for a moment. If we knew that a miracle was based solely on the minimum that we do, how much more would we be on top of doing the minimum. I would imagine that in most cases, we’d strive for “above the minimum” if we knew that a miracle was the ultimate result because human nature dictates that we are, more often than not, a “results driven” species. Unfortunately, our human nature also dictates that we are “lazy”.

Think about every late night infomercial that you’ve ever seen. Something “new and improved” or something that will make something else “a thing of the past”. Advertisers know how to appeal to the “lazy” side of human nature; the side that’s not so concerned about the work involved as much as the results on the back end. The only problem with that is you can only get as much out of a thing as you put into it. Anything that you put your time, energy, effort, and resources towards means that you’re looking for a return on your investment. We can always put that in tangible terms with spouse, children, home, career, money, etc. It should be no different when it comes to ministry (any ministry of course, but music ministry for me specifically).

I can honestly say from my own experience that when I invest into whatever music ministry that I’m working with, I try to give my all in an effort to have the product be the best it can be. Why? Simple. The best products yield the best results. Any “music ministry” is really a “ministry that happens to operate through the medium of music”. In other words, the MINISTRY has to come first. Church is in the business of saving souls meaning that all ministries involved in the church should have the exact same goal. When a soul comes to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, then all ministries involved from the parking lot to the pulpit have done their due diligence leaving the rest up to God to move on the hearts of the people living in a dying world.

Getting souls saved are the results that we, as a music ministry, are looking for… BUT it starts with every ministry member doing their due diligence… and THAT starts with, at least, doing the minimum.

If you’re not doing the minimum, there’s no better time to start than now because God’s grace is sufficient which is why we can take confidence in the scripture that says:

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin…” -Zechariah 4:10a (NLT)

What do you think? Shared wisdom makes us all stronger.

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The Miraculous vs. The Minimum [Part 1/2]

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” -Luke 12:48b

I taught a Music Ministry workshop over the weekend and anytime I have the opportunity to do that, I’m always thankful and humbled by the experience. As much as I can, I try to observe those that I am teaching to see what kind of response I’m receiving not necessarily to me, but to the subject matter. The general thing that I come across when I teach is how music ministries are trying to overachieve without either a solid foundation or a foundation period. For example, while most choirs want to sound just like their favorite song on the radio, so many considerations are not taken into account as to why a song is NOT ministered. Considerations like:

1. Relevance to the worship service
2. Overall capabilities of the singers and musicians
3. How long that song will take to learn (because sometimes one rehearsal is just not enough)

…so on and so forth…

Unfortunately, the “song NOT being ministered” part is the only fixation that a choir member may have which can lead to division and strife. While that is unfortunate, this gets moreso to foundational issues as opposed to ability. In order to be “excellent” at anything, you must have a mindset for “excellence”. In my lifetime, I have never seen where an apple seed will produce an orange OR where a mother dog will give birth to a kitten. The Bible says in Genesis 1:11 that “fruit will produce after its own kind” (paraphrasing). If we apply that meaning here, then we can ultimately say that “excellence” produces “excellence” because excellence will produce after its own kind.

Is that to say that your Sunday morning church choir can’t sing what’s on the radio like the people sing it on the radio do?

NO! It can be done, it has been done, and it will be done, BUT that is conditional on the type of foundation that your music ministry is built on. For example, to sing a song above the difficulty level of the overall choir, the foundation needs to be solid. To know if your overall foundation is solid, ask yourself these questions:

1. Do all choir members show up on time for rehearsal? (and YES “choir members” includes leaders, singers, and musicians)
2. Do choir members practice their music on their own time? (because there is a difference between “practice” and “rehearsal”)
3. Are choir members paying attention or being disruptive during rehearsal?
4. Do you trust your ministry leaders to lead you, teach you, and lovingly correct you?
5. Do you take the ministry seriously? (because you’re part of the foundation too)

We’re always looking for God to do the miraculous (which is something that He’s more than able to do), but I submit to you this question:

“What if God is basing His miraculous on our minimum?”

In Terms Of Absolutes

As Christians, we need to view the Word of God in terms of absolutes. There are no gray areas with God and, as Christians, there should be no gray areas with us. We should be like light switches on the wall, either we’re on or we’re off. You either love like He loves or you don’t. You either follow His commands or you don’t. You either pay your tithes or you don’t. You either praise Him with all that is within you or you don’t. If God had any gray areas, then how could we trust Him to do what He promised? That would, in essence, be calling God a liar and we KNOW that’s not true. But don’t take my Word for it, take it to the scriptures:

“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” -Numbers 23:19

“For I am the Lord, I do not change.” -Malachi 3:6

“Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar.” -Romans 3:4

“[I]n hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.” -Titus 1:2

“[I]t is impossible for God to lie.” -Hebrews 6:18

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” -James 1:17-18

What do you think? Shared wisdom makes us all stronger.

When God Says HE Loves You

When God says He loves you, all you have to do is breath in and out to know that He loves you enough to provide the very air that you’re breathing. ACTION! If you need more proof, go outside, look at the sunshine (or even the rain), look at the sky, look at the birds in the sky, look at the trees, the land, the fact that you have eyes to see, ears to hear, noses to sniff, the fact that this planet rotates around a sun with a moon that rotates around the Earth. ACTION! The fact that God can orchestrate all these things and STILL care enough to send His son to die for me and you tells me simply that He loves us more than we can ever know.

What do you think? Shared wisdom makes us all stronger.

Time to L.E.A.R.N.!

TODAY’S YOUTUBE CLIP: As you all know, I’m a huge proponent of the choir. Well, there’s no better choir that I can think of than the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. This is “Climb Every Mountain” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music”. Very inspirational, but also very choral. As a person who works with choirs on a regular basis, I love the precision of this choir. Every note is on point, all of their arrangements are a wonderful blend of vocal and instrumental music which gives a vast array of color and depth. Check it out.

As a musician, 90% of what you do is listening. Music is too much of a universal language to get stuck on one dialect. Therefore, today’s blog is dedicated specifically for you to LISTEN (to the clip provided), EXPAND (your thinking on music in a way that you may not have considered before), AND ROCK NOW (with more musical knowledge added to your repertoire)!

What do you think? Shared wisdom makes us all stronger.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own the rights to this song. The video included in this blog is only intended to bring musical awareness to the reader.

How Hungry Are You?

Fried Chicken. Turkey Legs. Roast Beef. Fried Fish. Mashed Potatoes and Gravy. Roasted Potatoes. Potato Salad. Sweet Potatoes. Candied Yams. Rice. Macaroni and Cheese. House Salad. BBQ Baked Beans. Green beans. Butter beans and stewed tomatoes. Black-eyed Peas. Broccoli. Buttered Rolls. Cornbread. Spoonbread. Water. Sweet Tea. Kool-Aid.

Hungry yet? How about this…

Education. Workshops. Seminars. Apprenticeships. Private Lessons. Symposia. Conferences. Study abroad. Research.

Still hungry? Now consider this…

“Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (NLT)

I was having a discussion with a friend of mine about how younger people aren’t “hungry” for anything anymore. In this technological world that we live in, most answers are available at a mouse click’s notice. In the music field, or any other field for that matter, you have to have a hunger to do great things so it’s troublesome to see the effects of an “entitled mindset”. The scripture above says that we are to “work hard” in order to be one “who correctly explains the word of truth”. In the KJV, the phrase that’s used is “Study to shew thyself approved”. Both “work hard” and “study” refer to ACTION (meaning that something has to be done on the part of the “do”er).

Even though this scripture is in reference to the Gospel of Jesus, I’m a firm believer in “scriptural principle” meaning that the principle of the scripture can apply in so many different situations. If you think about it, anything that you work hard at you’ll eventually get good (or even great) at. So consider this:

Think about how many people you know who can “correctly explain” a truth because they have “studied to show themselves approved” in their field of expertise (i.e. – music, medicine, law, business, science, math, English, education, graphics and design, websites, computers, contracting, plumbing, etc).

NOW think about how “hungry” they had to be to go through the process of being the expert that they are today.

And I leave you with this simple question…

How hungry are you?

Happy Revelation Day Everybody!

Consider this. If I were to walk into your house, take a look around, say “Look at this great discovery that I’ve made”, and claim everything IN YOUR HOUSE as my own–all while you were still in your house watching me do this–how would you feel about that?

Quite a thought right?

Yeah… that’s pretty much how I feel about Columbus Day. Don’t get it wrong, always glad to have a day off, but a day off in honor of a guy who “discovered” something that already existed? The moral and intellectual side of me would say “Get outta here!” (in my best New Jersey voice), but the lazy side of me would say “Hey! A day off is a day off. I’ll take it!” To discover something that already exists is called a revelation, therefore I now deem this holiday as “Revelation Day”.

And in honor of “Revelation Day”, I present to you a remix of an old classic.

“In fourteen hundred ninety two,

Columbus sailed the ocean blue,

Landed on the nearby shores,

Said ‘I’ll discover this country too!’ “

HAPPY REVELATION DAY EVERYBODY!