Making Worship too big a Deal

Hopefully the title of this post caught your eye and you thought to yourself, “Impossible!”  If so, you are correct.

Worship is the reason that we exist –to actively take pleasure in God.  Why?  Because God created us to worship, God commands us to worship, and God compels us to worship through the gospel.  So no, we cannot make worship “too big a deal.”  The title of this post is referring to the church’s weekly Sunday morning gatherings (or Saturday nights if you go to a hipster church that serves coffee and people wear blue jeans).

So you’re saying that church can be TOO important?

It’s not that we can necessarily enjoy a worship service too much.  “Welp there goes my pastor  again -preaching Jesus and being too faithful to the Scriptures.”  No one says that.  The problem isn’t that we are finding too much value in the weekend worship service but that we tend to put more weight on the weekend worship gathering than it was intended to have.  For instance, I love my wife; I would even argue that I can’t love my wife too much.  BUT it is very possible for me to love Lauren wrongly.  If I hang my ultimate hope on her instead of on Jesus, I heap an unbearable burden on her and our relationship is distorted.  In the same way, if we focus all our energy on worshipping God only when the weekend service rolls around, we will find ourselves dissatisfied, discouraged, and we will miss God’s intentions for the gathered church.  Here’s some symptoms to help gauge weather or not you are putting too much weight on the weekend service:

1. Song selection becomes SO important that you have “worship wars” over styles and preferences.

2. If you don’t “feel” it during the service, and you start to wonder if God’s calling you to attend another church. You’ll say things like, “My needs just aren’t being met there.”

3. You start to feel like church is more about taking and less about giving.  Since you haven’t been feeding on God’s Word during the week, you find yourself completely ravished by the time Sunday morning rolls around. You think, “It’s not DEEP enough for me.”

4. You find that you’re not really encountering God’s presence when you show up for worship, and quite frankly, you quit expecting to meet with Jesus at church.

When we don’t put weight on personal, day-to-day worship, we will wrongly view our weekend worship time as a church body.  God wants you to serve the church and be served by the church.  Time together on Sunday morning is meant to be a good time of worshipping Jesus as a collective bride as you love your brothers and sisters.  Weekend worship is not the ultimate time of worship where pastors and church leaders are meant to entertain you and/or meet all of your felt needs.  How unrealistic is that?  Do you not know that your body is a temple for the Holy Spirit of God? (1 Cor. 6:19).  Do you not know that the same power that raised Christ from the dead dwells in your mortal flesh? (2 Cor 4:11).  Jesus tore the veil so God’s presence can be freely accessed at all times, by all people, in all locations.  Why not worship God now?  As you do laundry, give the kids a bath, decide which movie to watch with your spouse, every moment is opportunity to enjoy God’s presence uniquely.  If you worship God during the week, then maybe -just maybe, you will find your continued celebration of God and his gospel on Sunday morning becoming sweeter and sweeter.

My Favorite Kickstarter Reward

So for those of you wondering which Kickstarter Reward Package I like best, you might be wrong.  It’s not the $2,500 reward package (although I wouldn’t be upset if you chose that one).  My favorite is the $75+ package.  Heres what it entails:

1. My Soul to Save EP in Digital Form (pre-released)
2. Love Has Come (the new full-length album) in Digital Form (pre-released)
3. A signed copy of Love Has Come mailed to your doorstep (pre-released)
4. A postcard thanking you for your Support in this God-sized project
5. Jason Waller t-shirt (you won’t have to sacrifice your swag to wear this bad boy)
6. Twitter Shout-Out (Holla at yo generous self!)
7. A Signed Limited Edition copy of My Soul to Save EP (only 100 in Print and  currently just 65 left).  It’s custom too.  Only one person in the world will have one like yours.  I bet you’ll be able to sell it on eBay for millions, but who would want to do that!

There’s less than three days for you to pledge, pre-order, & help make my first full-length album happen.  Click here to do so!

My Soul To Save EP

EP Cover

“My Soul to Save” is a short three-song album that aims to highlight and “kickstart” what I have to offer you guys with my first full-length album that I hope to record this summer, “Love Has Come“.  Here’s a quick break-down of each song:

Track 1 “Righteous Deeds”

“Righteous Deeds” confronts the judgmental mentality that creeps into our hearts so easily today in the church.  The reality is that even the “best” people in life never get over God’s grace.  God never intended for us to grow out of grace but rather to grow deeper in his grace that was ultimately shown to us in the gospel -Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.

Track 2 “Consumed (Psalm 103)”

A direct singing of and responding to Psalm 103.  This song takes a look at who God is and what he has done to bring us into relationship with him through Jesus.  How can we not respond with humble joy?  The chorus rings, “We lift one voice to the God who makes us sing.  Bless the Lord for he has healed our disease.  Lift his name; bring him praise, for he has died to set us free.  We are consumed by the goodness of our King.”

Track 3 “My Soul To Save”

My Soul to Save highlights how God uses the cross of Christ as his instrument for salvation.  While this song celebrates the gospel and God’s sovereignty in our salvation, it also demands a response from us -redeemed people live on mission with God.  Period.  We often ask what God’s will is for our life rather than asking God what his desires are?  What does he want in this life?  He wants to bring glory to himself by changing lives through the gospel, and he wants to do so through us!  As a church we forget our purpose far too often -at least I do!

You can get the short album on iTunes, Amazon MP3, Rhapsody, and other digital distributers starting April 9th.  You can also get the digital copy of this short album with any pledge of $5+ If you want to support my upcoming full-length album “Love Has Come” (go here to do so).  Since the primary purpose of this short album is to promote my first professionally recorded full-length album, I decided not to make physical copies of it for sale.  In fact, there will only be 100 copies in print.  To get the limited edition physical copy of “My Soul to Save EP,” go to my Kickstarter page (funding period ends April 20th, so hurry!).  Your personalized album will look something like this:

MSTS Example

My First Full-Length Album!

Hello friends and family!  You guys have been such an encouragement on my musical/life journey, and I want to do my best to keep you in the loop with some big things that could potentially happen with your help.

I am attempting to raise the needed funds to record my first full-length album.  I have recently recorded a three song record in my home studio which will be on iTunes April 9th.  This short album will hopefully give a taste of what I have to bring to the music industry and what is to come in my future musical endeavors.  If the needed funds are raised, they will be used to to record a full-length album with professional musicians, in a professional studio, with professional mixing and mastering.  To put it plainly, these funds will take this collection of songs from the studio to your stereo (iTunes, Amazon MP3, Spotify, Physical CD’s, etc.).  We will be raising the appropriate funds through Kickstarter, a website that supports creative projects from independent artists like me.  I would greatly appreciate it if you took a couple minutes to visit the link below, and consider pledging to our project.  Keep in mind if our goal of $11,300 is not reached, I will receive nothing and no money will be taken from your bank account either.
Please be in prayer with me as I aim to glorify our God with these talents.  This is a huge task but I am expecting great things from God as I attempt to do great things for Him.  Thank you so much for your consideration.  Without you guys, there is no way this can happen so SPREAD the WORD!
Inline image 2

This link will explain the project a bit more and it is also where you can pledge money towards the recording of the full-length album:
As a way to say “thank you,” here is a link to my three song record you can listen to for free (not released until April 9th):

The Current Potentials In My Life

Here’s just a peak into my life as of late.

I’ve been SO busy lately (yup, a capital S-O).  I’m an American and we idolize business, right?  It’s true, I do in fact find myself in the trap of idolizing business, but in this particular season of my life I feel like I am busy with all the right things.  You know, not just good things but God things.

Here’s just a 30,000ft glance of four big things that are happening or getting ready to happen:

1. Lauren and I are expecting the arrival of our first child in less than a month -it’s still pretty cray-cray to think about.

2. Lauren and I are looking at potentially selling our current house and buying a larger home.  There is SO much that goes into this process and even though we have purchased a home before, we’ve never had to sell before and I feel like an absolute noob.

3. CrossPoint Salina, the church where I get to serve, seems to be at a tipping point of growth both deeper into Christ and further into the mission field of reaching more and more people. I’d say that there is a good possibility we will double from about 200 to 400 people in the next year or so.  That’s me trying to be  realistic, not just a wishful thinker (we’ve gone from about 35 to 200 people in the barely three years I’ve been here).

4. I’m getting organized to lead three weeks of church camp with an actual band (something I’ve never done) and we’re getting ready to work on raising close to $10,000 in funds to record our first full length album.  Yikes.

In view of all this and perhaps a bit more, I wrote in my journal this morning,

“I feel so excited, terrified, anxious, and helpless about life right now.  The potential for music stuff is higher than it’s ever been (with camps and fund raising for a full length album).  The potential for me to learn how to love is higher than ever (with a newborn on the way and a wife who is now a mother of a newborn).  The potential for crosspoint Salina is greater than ever (with SO many transitions we are making as a church, numerical growth, and the DNA of this new church plant starting to get more and more established).

The potential for failure is greater than ever.  The potential for fear and anxiety is greater than ever.  BUT the potential for God’s saving, sustaining, and sanctifying grace is greater than ever, and that’s all that really matters.”

The potentials in life, weather good or bad, exciting or terrifying, aren’t meant to point us inward to find some sort of “strength within.”  No, the potentials in life are designed to point us to the sure hope in the gospel and to form in us a firmer trust in God’s sovereignty.

Advent

ad·vent – The arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.

As we enter the Advent season, the church is in an interestingly beautiful place in history.  We look back and remember Christ’s first coming.  The promised Messiah was delivered to us as a baby.

In a nutshell, Jesus Christ came humbly, lived perfectly, died brutally, and rose victoriously.  Advent is a time of remembering that.

And yet Advent is also a time where we long for Christ’s second advent.  The day that he will come back to rescue the people whom he has redeemed by his blood for his glory.  As Christ’s church we joyfully celebrate his first coming and patiently anticipate his second.  This is Advent. How fitting to sing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel!”

LIVING A CHRIST-CENTERED LIFE

One of the most daunting and under-explained commands that the church gives to people is telling them to live a Christ-centered life.  It’s advice that applies universally, right?  I remember when Lauren and I first were married.  We received a lot of advice that went something like this, “You want God to bless your marriage?  Make sure it’s a Christ-centered one.”  What in the world does that really mean?  Should we have red letter Bible verses inscribed somewhere in every room of our apartment?  Perhaps those rooms would constitute as Christ-centered rooms.  I don’t know.

Those kind of questions can sprout up in every context of life.  As a worship pastor, I often wonder if my ministry is really a Christ-centered one.  Living a Christ-centered life can seem so unattainable -it seems distant to live life in such a way that every facet is saturated with Jesus.

I am finding that the common theme of my struggle to live this so called “Christ-centered life” is where I start.  I start with me.  Me reading my bible.  Me saying the right words at the right time.  Me going to church.  Me singing the right songs and praying the right prayers.  It’s as if I am work my way to Jesus instead of starting with Jesus.  When I start with Jesus, I can let the knowledge of who he is and what he has done work its way to me.  Don’t get me wrong, being a Christian is a life marked by working hard, and struggling through hard situations.  But before, within, and after all the work and struggle, we rest. We rest as we work.  We are comforted as we mourn.  We are joyful in our sorrow.  Why?  Because the blood Jesus bled was bled on our behalf, the life Jesus lived was lived in our place, the death Jesus died was for our sin, and the power of God that raised Christ from the dead will resurrect all who believe. (see 1 Cor. 5:21, Col. 1:27).

Living a Christ-centered life is impossible when we start with ourselves and try to work our way to Jesus.  God never intended that.  Let’s start with Jesus.  As we focus on his person and work, maybe we will be changed from the inside out.

A Misunderstood Reality

The call to suffer in Christianity is a most definite reality, but a misunderstood reality at that.  Perhaps a question that gets assumed in the church today is “if Christ died in my place, why would I have to die for others.”  You see, the Bible does teach that Jesus substituted himself for us to make atonement for our sin and to make us right before God.  Christ was set forth as the propitiation for our sin (Romans 3:25).  In other words, Christ’s death was a death that absorbed the just wrath of God and credited his divine favor to those whom Christ includes in his death (all who believe). 

The death that we die isn’t a death for sin’s punishment; Jesus soaked up every ounce of God’s wrath on the cross.  And yet this doesn’t mean that we won’t die.  Until Jesus comes back, we all die.  But the death we die is still a death we die for others.  Not a sin-bearing, favor-securing death, but rather a sin-despising, love-motivated death.  The death of Christ pays for sin and cultivates affection in the hearts of all who truly believe.  

We live and die, not for the favor of God, but out of a knowledge of God’s already purchased favor.    

Jesus My Glory

Just as hymns can be helpful in the church because they have stood the test of time, so can prayers by those who have gone before us.  I stumbled across this one, “Jesus My Glory,” that came from a book I have on Puritan prayers and devotions called “The Valley of Vision.”  I have changed a few thee, thy, and thou’s but hopefully nothing that will change the meaning of the original text.   

 

O Lord God,You have commanded me to believe in Jesus; and I will flee to no other refuge,wash in no other fountain, build on no other foundation, receive from no other fullness, rest in no other relief. His water and blood were not divided in their flow at the cross, may they never be separated in my creed and experiences; may I be equally convinced of the guilt and pollution of sin, feel my need of a prince and savior, implore of him repentance as well as forgiveness, love holiness, and be pure in heart, have the mind of Jesus, and tread in his steps.

 

Let me not be at my own disposal, but rejoice that I am under the care of one who is too wise to err, too kind to injure, too tender to crush.  May I scandalize none by my temper and conduct, but recommend and endear Christ to all around, bestow good on every one as circumstances permit, and decline no opportunity of usefulness.  Grant that I may value my substance, not as the medium of pride and luxury, but as the means of my support and stewardship.  Help me to guide my affections with discretion, to owe no man anything, to be able to give to those in need, to make it my duty and pleasure to be merciful and forgiving, to show to the world the likeness of Jesus (Jesus My Glory, The Valley of Vision).

 

Imagine what the church would look like if we all prayed this over ourselves?

ANGELS WANT WHAT WE HAVE

The title of this post may reveal a pompous attitude, which may be partially true, but my hope isn’t to boast in us but rather our inheritance that has been given in Christ.

As I am reading 1 Peter 1 this morning, I am struck by the joy of Christianity.  We have a God that none of us can see (see John 4:24), and yet we “believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible” (1 Peter 1:8).  The measure of joy we have when delighting in God is too great to be described with a human language.  Scripture implies that our joy is so great that angels want it.  That’s right, sinful, broken, utterly depraved human beings have something that spotless, seraphs and angels long to understand.  What could they possibly want that they don’t have access to?  After all, they live in heaven with God himself, right?

To angels, Jesus is Lord.  To sinful humanity, Jesus is Savior and Lord.  To angels, Jesus is Creator.  To sinful humanity, Jesus is Creator and Redeemer.  To angels, Jesus is the Son of God who takes away the sins of the world.  To sinful humanity, Jesus is the Son of God who takes away our sin and shame.

God decided that sin, the very thing that disqualifies us from being in God’s presence, is the only thing that qualifies us for the gospel.  You see, none of us have spent our natural born lives climbing toward heaven -we were sprinting on the highway to hell (see Rom. 3:9-18).  Instead of giving us what we wanted (sin), God chose to carry the cross of Calvary for you and I.  God shows his unquenchable love in that while we were just wretched sinners, Christ bled and died for us (see Rom. 5:8).

 Do you realize how fortunate you are? Angels would have given anything to be in on this! (1 Peter 1:12, MSG)