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Lent-Worship1

This is a follow up to my earlier post listing out songs suitable for worship during the Lenten season.

Let's get to the list right away (in alphabetical order):

  1. 40 Days (A Song for Lent) – Matt Maher
  2. Beautiful, Wonderful Cross – Matt Boswell
  3. Bread of the World in Mercy Broken – Zac Hicks & Cherry Street Worship
  4. Come and See – Jason Ingram, Matt Maher, Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin
  5. Create In Me A Clean Heart (Psalm 51) – Keith Green
  6. Great Redeemer – Paul Baloche
  7. Here I am to Worship – Tim Hughes
  8. How Great is the Love – Paul Baloche, Meredith Andrews
  9. Humble – Audrey Assad
  10. Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer – Keith Getty, Margaret Becker
  11. Jesus Remember Me - Jacques Berthier (Taizé)
  12. Lord Have Mercy – Steve Merkel
  13. Love Ran Red – Chris Tomlin
  14. Now Behold the Lamb – Kirk Franklin
  15. O the Blood - Gateway Worship
  16. Stay with Me – Jacques Berthier (TaizĂ©)
  17. Surrender – Lincoln Brewster
  18. The Same Love – Paul Baloche
  19. The Victory – Phil Wickham
  20. What Have We Done? – Joe Day
  21. Your Blood Covers It All – Allie Lapointe, David Moffitt
  22. Your Cross is Enough – Worship Central

Here's a YouTube playlist to get you going:

"Lent is the perfect time to learn how to love again. Jesus—the great protagonist of this holy season—certainly showed us the way. In him, God descends all the way down to bring everyone up. In his life and his ministry, no one is excluded." - Pope Francis

What are your favorite songs for Lenten worship?

Image: PixGood

22 More Meaningful Songs for Lenten Worship

By Gangai Victor →

50-shades-worship

"50 Shades of Grey" is probably a landmark crossover movie of sorts of our times.

I mean a crossover of porn into mainstream cinema—a concept that was sure to materialize especially after movies like "Blue is the Warmest Colour" were acclaimed in the recent past.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Dakota Johnson even wins an Oscar for her role as the sexually abused (yes, BDSM is abuse, no matter how the media loves to paint it otherwise) lead female character. The media will of course celebrate her for the “boldness” to take up this “challenging” role.

With normalcy steadily bowing out and depravity firmly setting  in, what is a worshiper of Christ ought to do?

Avoid it of course and spread the word why.

I believe that choosing to not watch "50 Shades of Grey" is also an act of worship

Here’s why

1. Obedience

We are obeying Christ’s words to be in the world but not of it (John 15:19).

Obedience is worship (1 Sam 15:22)

2. Offering

By refusing to be part of the acclamation of sheer immorality, we are willing to not be conformed to the standards of the world. Instead, we would rather be offering our minds to God.

This is an important ingredient of spiritual worship taught by St. Paul. (Rom 12:2)

3. Holiness

By self-controlling our senses for the cause of holiness, we demonstrate that we truly know our God (1 Thes 4:3-5).

Holiness is worship.

4. Honor

By refusing to watch the  movie, we honor all the women that we are called to love starting with our mothers, wives, daughters and so on.

I believe practicing  honor of those who should be honored pleases God and is also worship (1 Pet 3:7, Eph 6:2, Heb 13:4, Rom 12:10)

5. Real love

We choose not to support the abuse of women, which is exactly what this movie glorifies.

Make no mistake, abuse is never love.

Standing up for real love is worship. (1 Cor 13:6)

And btw, did you know that OutreachMediaGroup has published a thought provoking video on this subject recommending us to watch “Old Fashioned” instead? Check it out.

Come, let's worship the Lord.

It is the duty of every man to uphold the dignity of every woman. – Pope John Paul II

Do you agree? How can we foster a counter culture that stands for what is honorable instead of celebrating the deplorable?

What is worship? Not watching "50 Shades of Grey"—5 Reasons why

By Gangai Victor →

Creativity over worship

Creativity in worship has become a buzz word of late—especially among worship leaders. We all want to lead worship 'creatively'.

But most of the time, it only means that we want try out something new, something musically/vocally challenging, or something bigger and usually that something bombs the worship badly—the worse part is we even fail to notice the crash landing and try again next time!

While creativity maybe good, it needs to have the right substance and the right intent to actually foster participative worship—the kind that that keeps the focus on God and not the creative idea itself.

So how can we channel creativity rightly?

Here's what I believe: The source of creativity is more important than creativity itself.

In one word?

INSPIRATION

Not the inspiration that comes out of watching YouTube videos and imitating what you see there—Christian or otherwise.

I mean the keeping-it-real, being-yourself kind that comes from the Holy Spirit.

It's that sudden flash of lightning that hits your gut when listening to a song and you just know the arrangement changes that would make it work with your congregation. Or that unplanned prayer that you normally wouldn't think of but it just appears out of nowhere. Or that nagging feeling to linger in a song for awhile even to the point of dropping a song from your set-list.

I can go on with this, but you get the idea, right!

So how do we know it's Holy Spirit inspiration?

Well, we don't... at least not until we do what we're inspired to do and experience the tangible boost it gives to the worship. Else, it probably wasn't inspired—that's the acid test.

For good examples, check out this guest post by my blogging buddy Alastair Vance on inspired creativity in worship.

Is it possible to cultivate inspiration?

Yes, I  believe we can. Here are 3 good practices that can help:

1. Yield

Yielding is a continual, daily process of submitting to the Lord. It's He who forms our heart, transforms our lives and leads us in ministry—so easy to lose sight of this truth especially when we are experienced worship leaders.

That's why we need to constantly remind ourselves that without the Holy Spirit we are nothing  but broken and empty vessels and keep turning back to Him.

2. Listen

Some of us prefer to hear the Lord's voice only when we are selecting songs or when on stage—other times, we only want to do our thing.

And the Lord in His mercy even goes along with us so many times when we minister!

But a disciple trains to listen all the time. A consistent, daily prayer life and scripture reading are of paramount importance in this regard. So is learning to be comfortable with silence. The more we learn to listen, the more we will hear God and know His voice.

3. Follow

When we are familiar with the Lord's voice, it becomes easy over time to be sure during moments of inspiration that it's from the Holy Spirit.

Then we wouldn't hesitate to follow. And when we follow Him and not ourselves, the payoff is amazing—after all, He happens to be the most creative Person ever!

The principle that I am advocating is creativity must not take over worship; rather worship must take over creativity.

When we are rooted in Holy Spirit inspiration, then the creativity that flows out would be anointed , real and facilitate deeper worship and not just a cute Christian music show.

How do you inculcate God-focused creativity in your ministry? Would love to hear from you in the comments.

Thoughts on Cultivating God-Centered Creativity in Worship

By Gangai Victor →

andoid-presentation

A band shouldn't have to bring along a computer just to display lyrics—that's the thinking behind LyricsPro, probably the first Android app to manage song projection entirely from a tablet.

I kinda agree—at least for worship in small groups.

What do you need to use LyricsPro?

An Android tablet running version 4.2 or above with video-out functions like MHLChromecast's mirror function would also suffice.

What does it do?

Create a program with multimedia content—song slides, images and videos (mpg, avi, mkv, m4v, and mov) and project to a secondary monitor.

3rd party apps are also available to import PowerPoint files also, though I would have preferred this feature to be available natively.

You can create song lyric files by typing them out or import from azlyrics also to save time.

What kind of presentation features does it have?

Most of the basic features are covered: Font options, fading slide transitions and ability to use any type of backgrounds—plain color, image or motion video.

Is it good enough to replace your existing presentation systems?

Frankly no—not at this point. However, this is a pioneering project that I believe should be encouraged. I see a lot of potential if the developers continue to keep it at.

The main challenge with these kind of apps is content creation—to an extent, lyrics import from azlyrics works, but needs more such options and maybe a companion desktop tool too.

Are you aware of similar church projection tools for mobile devices?

LyricsPro - A Church Presentation Software for Android Devices

By Gangai Victor →

top-worship-songs-2014

Of course I did not listen to every single worship song released in 2014!

So this isn't a definitive, scientifically researched list by any means—just my personal list of songs that I loved listening to the most last year. Here goes:

Top worship songs of 2014 (imho only!)

 

In alphabetical order:

Hope you liked the list

Here's wishing you a blessed new year—thank you for reading my blog!

What are your favorite songs from last year?

Image: educat yourself

Top Worship Songs of 2014

By Gangai Victor →

blank list of resolutions on blackboard

Who hasn't made new year resolutions and not kept them, right?!

Well, it's the end of another year again, so new year resolutions are there in almost everyone's mind I guess. Having made and broken many myself and having seen it with others also, I am inclined to believe that most resolutions falls into either the 'mission impossible' category (e.g. I quit cigarettes) or the 'cop out' category (e.g. My resolution is not to make any resolutions this year).

You see, too often, we worship leaders also chicken out with weak resolutions like these:

I will learn 'x' number of songs this year... I will write 'y' number of songs this year... I will read 'z' number of books this year...

I mean, big deal!

I was thinking about this when a passage from the book of Job came to mind challenging me to take up a different kind of resolutions—for life and not just for this year.

And this post is me passing on the challenge on to you.

So what's Job got to do with new year resolutions?

 
“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman." (Job 31:1)

Look around us—sexual depravity is everywhere! Just about every other movie or TV program is promoting and celebrating promiscuity, fornication and unnatural relationships. It's like lust is a must! How about resolving to deal with it on a personal level at least? Doing away with porn, fantasies, sleazy TV/Internet programs once and for all and maintaining right relationships with those of the opposite sex?

“If I have walked with falsehood or my foot has hurried after deceit—let God weigh me in honest scales and he will know that I am blameless..." (Job 31:5-6)

Because of our public actions/ministries, people may look at us as spiritual persons, good Christians, leaders, elders etc. How about resolving to be that person when no one's watching us and practice integrity in private? There are too many scandals/controversies going around in the Christian world—let's not open any door or window to add to them.

“If I have denied the desires of the poor or let the eyes of the widow grow weary, if I have kept my bread to myself, not sharing it with the fatherless..."  (Job 31:16-17)

Again, let's look around—there are too many needy people for us to serve. How about resolving to serve them? Maybe we can't fulfill everyone's needs, but can we at least start with a few? Mother Teresa once said, "If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one."

“If I have put my trust in gold or said to pure gold, ‘You are my security,’ if I have rejoiced over my great wealth, the fortune my hands had gained... then these also would be sins to be judged, for I would have been unfaithful to God on high." (Job 31: 24-28)

The longer we are in ministry, stronger becomes the ability to rely on our own talents, experience and thinking. How about resolving to go back to the Lord like a child and ensure He alone is our security and source? Not ourselves, our gear, our singing or musical prowess etc.

“I have not allowed my mouth to sin..." (Job 31:30)

As worship leaders, I believe that we should extol God more than anyone else. But we also speak such profane stuff at times—foul language, slander, gossip, lies etc. How about resolving to guard our thoughts and tongues so that only good things come out of them as much as possible?

I encourage you to read Job 31 fully, you might want to make other resolutions after that!

Wish you a blessed new year—and thank you for reading my blog.

Did you like these new year resolutions? What would you like to add?

5 New Year Resolutions for Worship Leaders - Lessons From Job 31

By Gangai Victor →

antiochLIVE

I haven't really heard AntiochLIVE before.

But am I glad I did now!

Published by Clear Day record label, it turns out that their previous two albums released in 2012 and 2013 hit #3 and #2 respectively on the iTunes Christian charts. So what's left? #1 of course! And apparently, that's the number "It is finished" hit when it released on September 16th .

Interested? Read on.

"It is finished" contains 7 new and original worship songs recorded live. The sound quality is expectedly up there at the top since the producer happens to be Jeremy Edwardson who's worked with artists like Jesus Culture, Bethel Live, Kari Jobe etc.

That said, here are my thoughts on the songs:

1. Shout Shout

An up-tempo opener that does just what it's intended to do—get people on their feet and shout praises to the Lord! It's a nice tune to declare who we are in Christ.

2. Free forever.

Another peppy number continuing from where "Shout Shout" stops. I suspect youth services will especially love both these songs.

3. It is Finished

The title track is one of the best songs of the album—it has one of those choruses that you won't mind singing again and again and again! It presents the work of the Cross really well and it's difficult not to sing along to this one!

4. To You be the Glory

Another catchy chorus that's bound to stay with you for some time. A very pleasant song to offer our adoration to the Lord and declare that we are His!

5. Relentless Love

The first song led by a female worship leader brings in a wave of freshness in the vocals. Love the 2nd verse and the soaring bridge—overall another nice song!

6. Worthy is the Lamb

This song just exudes raw passion and is definitely the best led song of the album—from a worship leader's perspective that is. You have to listen to it to understand what I mean!

7. How Great You Are

Sounds like AntiochLIVE has saved the best for the last with this one! The closing song is definitely my favorite—superb presentation of the salvation story with an infectious chorus that draws us to respond with grateful worship—great song!

And now for the giveaway: Here's how you can get this album for FREE!

Just leave a comment below or tweet this post or share it on Facebook for a chance to win a free digital download of "It is Finished". Go for it—there'll be 2 winners!

This giveaway is completed.

And btw, AntiochLIVE is offering the lyrics + chords for all the songs for free here: http://antiochcc.com/finished-lyrics-chords/

Disclaimer: I received this album for free from the folks at Clear Day record to listen and post this review. The views expressed here are completely my own and  I am not obliged to write a positive review.

Review + Giveaway: "It is Finished" by AntiochLIVE

By Gangai Victor →

Jesus1_2_thumb3

In Philippians 1:21, St. Paul makes one of those jaw-dropping statements that can be meditated on for a lifetime and more:

“…For to me, to live is Christ…”

Wow!

How about letting this verse impact our worship?

Let's think about it—how amazing would it be if we could live and lead our sessions in a manner that inspires us to say, “For to me, to worship is Christ!”

In this post, let’s look at some of the ways in which we can engulf our worship into the vast expanse of the wonder of Jesus.

4 tips to lead Christ centered Worship

 

Embrace death

No my friend, I am not advocating suicide.

I am talking about dying to self and letting go of our fleshly desires to make worship attractive/interesting/entertaining—for that would turn the spotlight that belongs to Christ alone upon us. Instead, think about what Jesus would want from His Church's worship and lead out of that mindset.

Out of this embrace of self-death, our dependence will shift from our talent/ability/experience to the Holy Spirit who will then bring out a worship that's far more authentic and holier than we would have otherwise offered—trust me on this one!

1. Represent Christ

    I doubt any of us will ever declare “Imitate me as I imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1) like St. Paul!

    But that doesn’t mean we don’t strive to be Christ like either. Here are a few questions to ponder:

    • Am I still arrested by the love of God or is it the lure of the stage these days?

    • Am I pursuing God’s will as the food of my life or is it all about me, myself and my latest favorite song?

    • Am I willing to encourage, train and equip others in worship ministry or am I wallowing in insecurity possessively hogging the stage?

    • Do I value integrity and personal prayer-life above ministry?

    • Can I take suffering in my stride or am I constantly murmuring when things don’t go too well for me?

      Your team and others watch you and when they see Christ in you, they will follow your footsteps far more comfortably and confidently—inevitably, this will also reflect positively in the way your stage ministry functions.

      2. Tell the story

      Check your song lyrics—are we too caught up with songs about me, what I can do for God, my emotions and feelings and so on? While such songs are not bad by themselves, too much of them can skew our worship towards self-centeredness than God-centeredness.

      Let’s sing more about the greatest story of all—of Christ saving us again and again and again! Sing of His Cross, His mercy, His justice, His Blood, His ridiculously extravagant love, His resurrection… you see, a gospel focus is crucial to instill joy and life into our worship.

      Let's make the story of Jesus Christ the cornerstone of worship.

      3. Marry songs with scripture

      When selecting songs, let's not just be seduced by things like the melody, other musical attributes or the songwriter's reputation.

      Rather, it's important to use the mind too when following the heart. Let's strive to use songs that are correct in theology, rich in lyrics and firmly grounded upon the Word of God.

      At times, it’s also helpful to take a few moments to explain the song, maybe even quoting the scripture verses that the lyrics are based on.

      Carefully choose appropriate verses from the Bible and read/recite them between songs or over an instrumental interlude during a song. Keep it short with 1 or 2 verses, else it could be distracting.

      4. Communion

      I've said this before, but I'll say it again: There's no other tangible means of placing Christ at the center of our worship than the Eucharistic meal. It brings alive the Story right before our eyes enabling us to join with John the Baptist and joyously proclaim, “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29)

      Let's lead the kind of worship that routes us to Communion—there's no deeper climax to worship than this—not the most artistic of lyrics or the sweetest of melodies. For it’s at the table that Christ becomes the sole focus of our worship enabling us to joyously proclaim, “For to me, to worship is Christ!”

      Okay so those are my thoughts—but I am keener to hear yours. What does it take to lead worship that’s centered on Christ?

      4 Tips to Kill the Mystery Out of Leading Christ-Centered Worship

      By Gangai Victor →