Category Archives: Arts

Following the Leader

 

Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure.

Proverbs 4:25-26

Atlanta Arts Network has been an interesting experiment for me.  As a coordinator, I have learned the importance of focusing on and walking toward what God has called me to do.

As I have taken these steps, little did I know how the ebb and flow of relationships would change the way the Atlanta Arts Network grew and adapted to the people and opportunities that God would bring.

At this point in my life, I find myself reflecting on the advice of a mentor or mine.  He once told me that at some point I would have to choose between pursing a pastoral discipleship ministry and that of a worship leader.

Honestly, at the time, I dismissed the statement as interesting perspective but not certainly what I saw God doing at the time.  It wasn’t until I continue down the path forward, that I began to see how God himself was slowly taking some opportunities away from me and opening new doors.

At each turn on the path, I continued to resist the changes and yet kept reminding myself of the promises.  These steps follow a different kind of leader.  For as the years have gone by the opportunities to coach worship leaders has continued and more discipleship relationships are being built.  Yet the official roles of artist and worship leader have not presented themselves.

As my time and efforts toward building disciples has continue to grow, the worship artist role has become one of encouragement and support.  Where I once desired a voice and wanted to change the culture of creatives in my church, there are new artists taking the lead.  My pride was a bit hurt.  I saw people who I loved and enjoyed working with move on.  Yet I have been called to look forward.

Yes, I am at the point where, I am “pondering” my steps.  But what I do know is that while I am focused on the “Author and Perfector of my Faith” my footsteps will be firm.

Who knows what God is doing with the Atlanta Arts Network? There are some really cool things going on in the city.  While my roles have changed, my passion to see worship leaders encouraged and Christ following Artists find community still remains.

My encouragement to you… Keep your eyes on Him.

Hebrews 12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

“Isn’t There Anyone Who Knows What Christmas is All About?”

It was 1965 and Charles Schultz continued to create the timeless comic strip Peanuts. The producers at CBS took a chance on creating an animated Christmas special.  As the story boards were being created and the concept was being set in motion, there were conversations happening between the creator and the people from CBS. What kind of music?  We find out that Charles Schultz wasn’t sure about the jazz music.  Which has not only continued to be part of the program but it has become part of many people’s Christmas music library.

Not only was their discussion over the music, there were some who were not sure about the ending.  Do we really think that people will want the Christmas story quoted from the Bible?  Well as it ends up Schultz gave in on the Jazz music and CBS gave in on the passage from the gospel of Luke.

The story line is classic. Charlie Brown, conflicted again, bring his concerns to Lucy who has a Psychiatric “lemonade” stand. He continues to ask Linus and even after taking on the role of director of  the Christmas program filled with dancing children, Snoopy making animal noises and Lucy wanting to be the Christmas queen, he cries out, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”

It seems that the same challenges face us today. “Isn’t There Anyone Who Knows What Christmas is All About?”

What do you find yourself thinking during this Christmas season? Where are you spending most of your time?  Are you just as discouraged as Charlie Brown? Have you found yourself looking at websites for Christmas cruises or short weekends away in the mountains?  Maybe instead you have found yourself bearing all the expectations of your family, parents or church?

It is so hard to dim the lights, drop our blue security blanket on the floor and begin to tell our hearts, “what Christmas is all about.”

Luke 2 The Message (MSG)

About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.

While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.

There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”

At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:

Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!

That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.  Take this to heart!  Stop.  Listen.  Consider.

Have you been in that auditorium? Have you been at the end of yourself?  The end of the program points to where you might need to begin.

The children who have made fun of Charlie Brown’s little tree, find that all it needed was a little love!  The tree that was once made fun of becomes the object of their attention.

Jesus is that little tree!  He was the object of scorn. He took on human flesh, became a man so that he could take our place on a Cross. Joseph was told, “Call Him Jesus for He will save His people from their sins.”

The children, circle around the tree and begin to sing at the end of the program.

CharlieBrownChristmas

Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

This is what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.

[hr]

Just in case you missed it here is a clip of the last portion of the program

A life lived for Christ: Wade Williams

Wade WilliamsHow do you begin to summarize a life?  Recently a good friend, colleague and worship leader, Wade Williams passed from this life to experience the wonder of meeting Jesus face to face.  My first thought was that Wade is singing for Jesus!  He who had spent his life creating great music for his Savior is able to experience Jesus presence in an all together new way.  No more cancer, no more struggles with the sin that so easily entangles, no longer any shade of care.  He is sharing in the greatest worship service that we only can imagine.

Wade was a friend and a role model for me.  As I began ministry at my first church, I had the privilege of visiting Wade prior to his worship rehearsals where we talked about ministry, worship and creativity.  I was green and even though I had grown up seeing my father minister with music, there were changes and challenges in worship ministry.

It was during this time that I saw Wade reach out to other young men who were pursuing worship leadership as a calling, and also some who were beginning their time in the church.  I saw a musician who had a pastor’s heart, a shepherd’s care, a coach’s vision and an artist’s love for beautiful and creative worship.

It is hard to believe that that time with Wade was 12 years ago. Wade’s life and ministry still challenges my own ministry to worship leaders.  I look at the people he impacted in his life and I want to share in the same fruitful and faithful work.

As I grieve over the loss of a friend, his memory inspires me to live with boldness, energy and a passion for leading people into the presence of God through worship. Death and loss brings us all to a place where we make an assessment of the life we have lived and consider the days ahead, uncertain as they may be. “To Life is Christ, To Die is Gain.” It is my desire to live knowing God’s presence in all of life right now and at the same time longing to worship face to face.

One of Wade’s favorite Hymns came to my mind and I have been playing it and thinking about the perspective this brings!

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

Words: Malt­bie D. Bab­cock, 1901

Sing For Jesus, Wade! We miss you and will see you again!

 

Wade Williams   July 10, 1953 – May 1, 2014

 

For more about Wade:

http://byfaithonline.com/wade-williams-called-home/

Wade Williams from Perimeter Church on Vimeo.