July 29, 2010
Thursday, 11:00 a.m.
Letter #145: Worship and Other Ministry
Greetings! Well, it has now become rather obvious to me that time flies, whether or not you’re having fun. 🙂 It seems that these months are going by so quickly, and my biggest concern is “Have I been running this race well?” Not always, is the honest answer. Yet, my God is faithful! He encourages me and gives me the grace to run with endurance; despite the obstacles.
As a result, (thanks for your prayers!) I’ve been growing in the Lord, reaching out to those around me, and pursuing God’s long-term purposes for my life. I’ve been getting into some great books recently, and I’ll look forward to sharing my condensed-version highlights with you in the future.
I’m enjoying more responsibilities in the chapel these days. Besides facilitating the class (on Tuesday nights) on self-confrontation/discipleship, I play piano for four weekly services, which includes choosing the songs and arranging the music with the guitarist and drummer. I’m currently using a small keyboard, but I hope to receive a full-sized keyboard soon, praise God!
The biggest change in the worship experience is the “professionalism” … which sounds contradictory to Spirit-led, fresh, and inspired, but it isn’t. The way the worship was done when I first arrived was as if a few guys were playing around on instruments in their bedroom and just happened to sing a few Christian songs while they were at it. I believe in the Scriptural principle of everything being done in “decency and in order” (I Corinthians 14:40), and it seemed that not many others here had even heard of such a thing. The resulting worship was often chaotic, disjointed, and distracting.
Removing hindrances and distractions to corporate worship has been my primary goal. For example: only the musicians had the words to the songs, whether in English or in Spanish. Thus, new believers or guys who weren’t familiar with the songs couldn’t—and didn’t—sing along.
This past weekend, I quickly wrote the words to three songs on the huge wall-length whiteboard at the front of the classroom-like chapel. The participation rate went up dramatically! This weekend, I’ll introduce the use of our overhead projector. My goal is to have everyone engaged in worship.
This week, the chaplain called me into his office and asked me if I wanted to have a choir. I told him I’d be happy to teach a choir if he wanted one, but he just asked me again if I wanted one. Due to space constraints, I feel a small ensemble would look best—maybe a sweater vest, tie, and coat (kidding! Making sure you’re still awake!)—of four to eight guys. I’m thinking an all-male choir would be best.
Well, the chaplain gave me complete freedom (no, not that kind) to make decisions regarding the chapel worship—to take names of interested participants and begin to use them as I choose. Wow. What a change from a few weeks ago, when I was on the outside looking in! I thank God for walking me through that stage, because I learned so much through it. Now I feel as if I’m being best-utilized, and I’m grateful for the opportunity.
My heart passion is still what it has been for the past couple of years: to help guys develop their ministry gifts, to be used in the service of the church and to reach the lost.
I’ve been working with one young man who is now playing guitar for us. He has a great raw voice, but he’s had no formal training. Thus, he isn’t real sure of himself, and he doesn’t have much vocal control. I know that with encouragement, sincere coaching, and practice, he’ll be an outstanding lead vocalist with a unique smoky voice. I’m excited for what is to come in the chapel!
Dustin told me today that he hasn’t had any further health problems since he and I prayed a little over a week ago. Thank you for praying for him! I told him that I’d asked my “prayer team” to pray for him, and he was humbled and grateful. He’s seen the hand of God work on His behalf.
Daniel has now joined Freddie and me in our morning Bible Study, for about ½ hour before he leaves for school every day. God is softening his heart; he doesn’t use profanity around me anymore (I never mentioned it), and he has made an effort to be honest in everything he does. Hey – I try to celebrate baby steps!
Thank you all for your love and support of me and these guys you’ve never met. I believe God has something special planned for many of them in the days ahead.