Clear the Stage

Yet another draft I composed but never got around to finishing. I’ll try to work on completing this post while taking into account updates for more current information. Regardless, the content is still relevant, and perhaps even more so now. A lot has occurred over these past two years. (Wait… has it really been two years?!?)


[Oct 5, 2015]

Fall is one of my favorite times of year. Though many people prefer to have “fun in the sun”, I’ll take a cloudy, windy, or even rainy day over any typical Summer day. You could only shed so many layers for the heat. As for me, I personally love to bundle up and dress in layers for the colder weather. Not only that, but Fall brings about the holiday season, and with it, seasonal choir at church.

I am blessed to have the opportunity to serve in this ministry for the Lord. I’m grateful that God has granted me the ability to serve in this way and I’m happy to serve in an area that I enjoy. I’m truly grateful that He is using me at bible study and has even seen fit to use me more in the church band and in leading worship for the men’s ministry. I love music and love singing and playing instruments. Despite this love, I often grow skeptical of the usage of my “talents” (for lack of a better term, as I hesitate to call my musical abilities a “talent”. I also hesitate to say that I have “talent” as if to suggest that I’m great at it. Yes, as you can see I’m quite the skeptic when it comes to my musical abilities. But I digress…).

I often wonder if this is the area I ought to serve. If this is where I should be. If this is where God wants me to be. If this is where He wants to use me. If I’m even fit to be serving there. I sometimes question my motivations. Sure, I may not be up there for the same reasons as when I used to “perform” (though I sometimes question what those reasons even were to begin with). Am I doing it to be pleasing merely to men? (Galatians 1:10)

Now I truly do want to use my abilities for His glory and be a good steward of what He has given me (1 Peter 4:10). I know that everything that I have has ultimately been granted and gifted to me from His hands. I also understand that we are called to encourage and edify by teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Colossians 3:16, Ephesians 5:18-19). However, I often doubt myself and am fearful of what may lie behind my supposed good intentions and wonder what I’m even doing up there. I find myself stopping, closing my eyes, listening, and contemplating the reason why I sing and why I play (instruments).

I know we are to be excellent in our skills to the praise His name (Psalm 33:3), but is my heart where it needs to be? Am I singing, playing, and making melody just for the sake of music and harmony itself, or is it truly in my heart an act of worship unto the Lord? I don’t want to honor him merely with my lips (Matthew 15:8-9). Whether it be singing, making melody, serving, or whatever it may be, am I doing all things to the praise and glory of His name (1 Corinthians 10:31)?


In the gospels, Jesus addressed that the greatest and foremost commandment in the Law is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37), “and all your strength” (Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27). This truly is the greatest command, the most demanding, and by far the most broken.

Do I truly love Him to that degree? How often do I fall short of this? How frequently do I put other things before Him in my daily life? As I personally look back upon my own day, what did I do for my Lord today? What have these hands done to labor for Him and honor Him? What have I done today to further His kingdom, build up His church, and glorify His name? What have I done for the glory of God?

In Deuteronomy, God laid out the Law for Israel commanding that they should have no other (little ‘g’) gods before Him. “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them” (Deuteronomy 5:7-9). When thinking of idolatry in this context, and even just the word itself, it’s easy to associate it with other gods, other religions, and other belief systems. However, the sin of idolatry is actually so much more than that.

Paul helps us to define this in his letter to the Colossians. He reminds the church of their salvation in Christ and calls them to seek and set their minds on the things above. He then admonishes them to consider their bodies “as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). We can make a god out of pretty much anything if we place it higher in priority before the one true God. He is a jealous God, and rightfully so as He is God alone and there is no other (Isaiah 45). He alone is worthy of all glory and honor and praise.

In Galatians, Paul lists out the deeds of the flesh (which includes idolatry), and in contrast also lists the fruit of the Spirit. He then says that “those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24). Earlier in Galatians, Paul says he’s been crucified with Christ and that it is no longer he who lives, but Christ who lives in him (Galatians 2:20). Oh, may I die to self as I pursue holiness striving to live for His name.


[April, 2016]

There was quite an impact on the music scene in the year of 2016, which news outlets dubbed as “The Year Music Died” (CNN). Artists like George Michael, Maurice White (Earth Wind & Fire), David Bowie, and Prince (along with a few others) were all definitely a part of my musical diet while growing up.

As I look back on the passing of Prince in particular (or “the Artist Formerly Known As”, or wherever that symbol is on my keyboard), I find it amazing (though I suppose not surprising) how much press coverage an individual can get in our society today. I do admit that I admire, respect, and even give honor to him with regards to his musical talents, career, and influence on the music scene.

Yet despite all of this, I can’t help but think how insignificant it all is. Even if I were to achieve any level of skill, success, popularity, influence, or status of any sort, it wouldn’t matter. It’s all vanity. It’s meaningless.

“All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; Surely the people are grass.”
(Isaiah 40:6-7)

‘Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.’
(James 4:13-16)

 

Every day, I combat the flesh and the inner man with regards to who or what is seated on the throne of my heart. We as humans can be so fickle, so easily drawn as a moth to the flame. So readily trading the eternal for that which is passing away. Trading true joy and satisfaction for that which does not satisfy. Let us be reminded that we are sojourners here. Let us loosen our grip upon the things of the world, and cling to Christ. (1 John 2:15-17, 1 Peter 2:9-11).

I often look towards the words of John the baptist, whose statement has been a personal prayer of mine. He acknowledges that “He (Christ) must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Paul who had much to boast about in life actually counted it all as loss for the sake of Christ (Philippians 3:7-10). He also states in Corinthians that no man may boast before God, and that we instead should boast in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1).


Clear this stage, O Lord. Help me to surrender all to Your will, just as your Son did who did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but instead emptied Himself (Philippians 2:5-8).

“Clear The Stage”

Clear the stage and set the sound and lights ablaze
If that’s the measure you must take to crush the idols
Jerk the pews and all the decorations, too
Until the congregation’s few, then have revival
Tell your friends that this is where the party ends
Until you’re broken for your sins, you can’t be social
Then seek the Lord and wait for what he has in store
And know that great is your reward so just be hopeful

‘Cause you can sing all you want to
Yes, you can sing all you want to
You can sing all you want to
And still get it wrong; worship is more than a song

Take a break from all the plans that you have made
And sit at home alone and wait for god to whisper
Beg him please to open up his mouth and speak
And pray for real upon your knees until they blister
Shine the light on every corner of your life
Until the pride and lust and lies are in the open
Then read the Word and put to test the things you’ve heard
Until your heart and soul are stirred and rocked and broken

‘Cause you can sing all you want to
Yes, you can sing all you want to
You can sing all you want to
And still get it wrong; worship is more than a song

We must not worship something that’s not even worth it
Clear the stage, make some space for the one who deserves it

Anything I put before my God is an idol
Anything I want with all my heart is an idol
Anything I can’t stop thinking of is an idol
Anything that I give all my love is an idol

‘Cause I can sing all I want to
Yes, I can sing all I want to

And we can sing all we want to
And we can sing all we want to
We can sing all we want to
And still get it wrong
Worship is more than a song

Clear the stage and set the sound and lights ablaze
If that’s the measure you must take to crush the idols

May my confidence not be in the flesh, but rather in Christ. (Philippians 3:7). Just as He bore my sin upon that cross, may I nail my glory, my passions and my desires to that cross (Colossians 2:13-14, Galatians 2:20, 5:24).

“Nail My Glory”

V1
No more, my God, I boast no more
Of everything my hands have done
I quit the hopes I held before
To trust the merits of Your Son

Chorus
Now for His love I bear His name
My former pride I call my shame
What was my gain I count my loss
And I nail my glory to His cross

V2
And by Your grace I will esteem
All things but loss for Jesus’ sake
Oh may my soul be found in Him
And of His righteousness partake

V3
All of the works of my own hands
I dare not bring before Your throne
My faith responds to Your demands
By pleading what my Lord has done

Continually remind me Lord that it is not through works or skill or wisdom or might, but simply through faith in Christ. By faith in His completed work on the cross. (Hebrews 10:12-14, Galatians 2:16, 20, Philippians 3:8-10).

“My Worth is Not in What I Own”

My worth is not in what I own
Not in the strength of flesh and bone
But in the costly wounds of love
At the cross

My worth is not in skill or name
In win or lose, in pride or shame
But in the blood of Christ that flowed
At the cross

Refrain:
I rejoice in my Redeemer
Greatest Treasure,
Wellspring of my soul
I will trust in Him, no other.
My soul is satisfied in Him alone.

As summer flowers we fade and die
Fame, youth and beauty hurry by
But life eternal calls to us
At the cross

I will not boast in wealth or might
Or human wisdom’s fleeting light
But I will boast in knowing Christ
At the cross

Refrain

Two wonders here that I confess
My worth and my unworthiness
My value fixed – my ransom paid
At the cross

Refrain

May my only boast be in You, O Lord my God. (Galatians 6:14)

In You I rejoice, My Redeemer, Greatest Treasure, Wellspring of my soul.