Does your life reflect Thankfulness?

As a rollercoaster holiday season approaches one word gets tossed around quite a bit… thankfulness. What does it mean to be thankful? How does one live life thankfully? Is it a natural response or a choice? What are we thankful for?

Often times we dumb down a life of thankfulness to simply giving “thanks.” When in reality it’s so much more… a life of thankfulness is a behavioral style, a thought pattern and mindset, an attitude, and a choice most of all.

Psalm 107:8-9 says,

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

Being thankful is something that’s always within our control.

Nothing turns us into bitter dissatisfied people more quickly than an ungrateful heart. We see it all around us! We live in an ungrateful dissatisfied society and unfortunately that spirit has made its way in and is prevalent in our churches. Nothing robs us of the joy of Christ and our salvation faster than neglecting to recognize and be thankful for the things around us.

We see in Romans 1:21 that when humanity rebels we neglect to recognize and give thanks to God. It says,

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Have we forgotten how dependent we are on God for everything?

Let’s not be foolish or ungrateful. Let’s give thanks.

Below I will offer some thoughts and applications on how we can develop, maintain, and nurture a thankful heart which is then exhibited through a thankful lifestyle.


  • Focus on Christ.

Psalm 103:1-6 says,

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.

When we read this thankful Psalm it is necessary to notice that the first thing we must do is focus mind and heart on God! Looking at the passage we can see the priority that the Psalmist David places on recognizing that all we have to be thankful for comes from Christ. Everything within the Psalmist David, and hopefully us, should rejoice and say “Bless the Lord” first in all situations.

Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:19-20,

Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

James 1:17 says,

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Let’s open our eyes to the glory of God! But, if that alone isn’t enough to spark your flame just count up the numerous undeserved gifts God spreads before each of us every day!

  • Remember how far we’ve been Brought.

This lengthy section out Psalms 107:13-32 recalls the numerous deliverances the Lord has provided His people,

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron.

Some were fools through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities suffered affliction; they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!

Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters; they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep. For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight; they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

We can also look into the Old Testament at the story of Moses and see how God used him to accomplish His task of delivering the Israelites out of Egypt. Even when Pharaoh and his army pursued they were crushed by the sea at the hand of God.

So… let me ask…

How has the Lord delivered you?

What is your testimony? What did the Lord bring you out of? We all have a story, because we are all undeserving of anything expect a sinful, pitiful life that ends with us being in Hell.

But… God ransomed us while we were still undeserving sinners.

Isaiah 53:4-6 says,

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

We all have plenty to be thankful for. Give thanks.

  • Make the Choice.

Paul wrote in Colossians 3:15,

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

A spirit of thanksgiving is always the mark of a joyous Christian.

Colossians 3:15-17 goes on to say,

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

As believers we are called to be a thankful people! We have the most to be thankful for out of anyone… think about it, the riches of the earth are temporal but the gift of Heaven is eternal. So… we don’t have to be the richest, most successful, or popular people on earth to have a thankful Spirit. In Christ we have more than enough to rejoice over!

2 Corinthians 9:15 says,

Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!

Thankfulness is a choice.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says,

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

It is the will of God that we live in a constant thankful attitude!

Choose thankfulness. There will always be hardships and trials but because of Christ we have hope and that is enough to be thankful for.


Psalm 106:1 says,

Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!

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We Do What It Takes.

When the projectors aren’t working, when the sanctuary is too cold, when drama breaks out who are they gonna call? Unfortunately not Ghostbusters…

No job description can truly summarize the duties of a minister.

In John 6 we see a very familiar and well-known Bible story unfold. John 6:1-5 says,

After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?”

Most of us recognize this story as one of the miraculous works of Jesus’ earthly ministry, and it is, but I also see this as a description of the life of a minister or disciple. Jesus, the Son of God, the miracle worker, the God incarnate feeds the crowd that was following Him! We know that the crowd obviously needed more than earthly bread and fish, but Jesus recognized a need and fulfilled it.

The job description of one in ministry is exactly that. The work is never ending, and the demands of ministry don’t conveniently fall into a 9-5 schedule. Like a doctor who is on call, ministers are merely between tasks… never really “off the job.”

Ministry is a 24/7 job because the needs of church or ministry remain constant.

We do what it takes to get the job done… regardless of what the job description may say. So… how do we maintain this lifestyle? We obviously aren’t superhuman. Below we will think together on how to be an effective minister, get the tasks done, and not kill ourselves in the process.


  • When possible leave work at work.

In some fields of work when you go home you are free from the duties that come with your job. You can’t really take a piece of machinery home or hold face-to-face meetings from the comfort of your bedroom. Ministry cannot be described in this manner. People have needs that arise at all times of the day and night and need your help “on-the-spot” without warning.

That is exactly what we signed up for.

Pastoral ministry is relational, and relationships are developed in and grown in times of need… and we all know that needs don’t arise according to our convenience or schedule.

However, some things just aren’t that urgent. Some things can be left at work until tomorrow. That bulletin can be printed 12 hours from now, and those lights can be adjusted and programmed another time. When possible leave work at work and allow yourself to rest and be refreshed.

Even Jesus needed some “time-off.” In Matthew 14:23 it says,

And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.

  • Family first.

It is pretty well known that the families of a minister are often the one’s sacrificing the most. Often the needs of a minister’s family are the last to be taken care of. They usually receive the leftovers… however little that is.

But… we must work diligently to see that our family is prioritized correctly and not deserted for the church. In fact, we see in 1 Timothy 3:12 that part of the qualifications for a minister is to have a healthy household.

Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well.

All throughout Scripture we see the importance of family in ministry. In 1 Peter 3:7 Paul calls us to live in “understanding” with our families and to care for each other’s needs in more than just physical ways. 1 Peter 3:7 says,

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

For those of us who are married we are called to love our wives/ spouses like Christ loved the church! Ephesians 5:25 says,

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

Lastly, Matthew 19:4-6 says,

He said, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

The ESV Study Bible commentary is very beneficial when interpreting this passage. It says,

From the moment they are married, they are unified in a mysterious way that belongs to no other human relationship, having all the God-given rights and responsibilities of marriage that they did not have before. Being “one flesh” includes the sexual union of a husband and wife … but it is more than that because it means that they have left their parents’ household … and have established a new family, such that their primary human loyalty is now to each other, before anyone else.

Our loyalty to our families is unlike loyalty shared with any other mortal being. We must place priority on those who help hold us up, who we come home to, who understand us, and care deeply for us.

We cannot forsake our families.

  • Do not over-commit.

This is a category than I myself struggle with in a very real way. How many times have you over-committed yourself to the point of breakdown? I have over and over again… in fact; I am over-committed at this very moment.

It never happens on purpose! We have an opportunity that arises that really is a good thing and we hop on board eagerly to offer our assistance. Boom! We have too much going on and things get neglected… for me the thing that usually gets neglected is my own physical health/ rest and my poor wife.

Busyness is a real issue!

The devil would love to take us “out of the game” by bogging us down and making it impossible for us to do exceptionally well in any area of our ministry.

This is where priorities are key… we must learn the art of saying “no.”

In ministry sometimes I think we are scared of saying “no” for the fear of letting someone down or missing an opportunity to further the Kingdom of God. But what we often forget is that we are meant to equip… not do ALL the work alone!

Ephesians 4:12 actually says what our ministry is…

To equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.

If we are spending our time equipping others then we should be able to share the workload! It is important for us to remember that it isn’t us that builds the church… it is Christ.

In Matthew 16:18 Jesus says exactly that to Simon Peter,

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

  • Make time to care for your own spiritual needs.

This should seem obvious, but unfortunately it is easier said than done. As ministers we are constantly pouring ourselves out and into others and if we don’t take time to be refilled then the supply is going to run dry. It’s not a matter or IF… but rather WHEN.

Even Jesus separated Himself from others to pray and refuel.

Mark 1:35 says,

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

Matthew 14:23 says,

After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.

We must not sacrifice our own relationship with the Father to get a job “done.” In reality our congregations NEED us to be ever connected to the Lord. Take time. Get alone. Allow God’s Word to speak to you.

It is through the Father alone that we have the strength to handle the tasks of ministry. Rely on Him.

Does your Demeanor encourage Worship?

Think back to an awkward moment you’ve experienced where you watched a person speak and through their actions, attitude, or demeanor you could even tell from your perspective that they didn’t truly believe what they were saying. Maybe you are thinking of a politician or a public speaker… but how many of us thought of believers? Do people see that we believe what we say, sing, and preach?

Take a moment and think about it.

What is weirder than a joyless Christian leader? How is the way that we carry ourselves in front of others impacting the way they look at our beliefs? We may believe everything we say and stand for, but if our demeanor doesn’t reflect that belief then we are fighting an uphill battle when evangelizing or speaking about Christ. We certainly aren’t going to kindle a fire or joy inside others while our hearts remain cold and our attitude and faces remain joyless.

How amazing is Christ? We’ve ben given the gift of grace and we have the privilege to sing about the good news!

How can we remain stone-faced?

Philippians 4:4 says,

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

Are we expressing joy? I dare to say that we live in a narcissistic culture, and we often fall into the temptation of placing the emphasis on ourselves and because of that our worship has the tendency of turning inwards. How many selfies are posted on social media everyday? What is worse is then people will turn around and check back on their own picture to see how many people have liked or complimented it!

There are many obvious problems with this inward focused attitude that we have developed, including the fact that an inward focus in worship cannot provide pure genuine joy because we are placing our joy in the hands of our culture and circumstances.

Where do you gather your self-worth? The world? Your friends and family? Or Jesus?

Matthew 6:21 says,

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

What are you treasuring? Where does your joy come from or what does it depend on?

Does your demeanor from stage properly reflect the fullness of joy which you have in Christ? How can we show it?


  • Truly develop a heart for Worship

I fully believe that we sometimes get too bound up with the technical aspects of worship and forget the relational side of it. Technology is a great thing! Providing an atmosphere for our worship is a good thing too! But… when we allow our focus to shift or our emphasis to waver from why we are doing what we do then our joy becomes dependent on the execution of the technical aspects of our worship. When things don’t go as planned or we feel like something wasn’t “up to par” then our joy suffers.

Then what are we truly worshipping? Are we worshipping the way we do worship? Or are we worshiping God who is worthy of our worship?

We may admonish our praise teams to hit all the right notes and say, “Don’t forget to smile while your doing it.” But often times the emphasis is still on the execution and not the hearts of the worshipper. I believe that genuine worship truly begins when we get our hearts right and because of that we can sing, play, dance, etc.

There is a difference between great worship and a great concert. We leave great concerts unchanged… but worship calls us to move.

  • Have a Joyous and Worshipful Attitude

When it comes to a worshippers attitude it is important to understand who we are worshipping and why.

Acts 17:24-25 tells us exactly who we are worshiping and puts God in perspective to us when it says,

God who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives life, breath, and all things.

The purpose of our worship is to glorify, honor, praise, exalt, and please God our Creator who is in need of nothing we can give, but who delights in our praise. The fact that our God delights in anything that we do should provide enough reasoning and joy to worship continually. If that alone isn’t enough we must remember that our worship is a way that we can show our adoration and loyalty to God for His wonderful undeserved gift of grace in which He provides us with the way to escape the bondage of our sin.

Our worship should occur with a joyous attitude because it should cause us to reflect on the majesty and graciousness of God and Christ, in contrast to our own unworthiness.

God does not have to have our worship, but we should be joyful that He gives us the fact to worship Him.

  • Express your Joy through your Face

This should be a given. When we are joyful we smile, and it is through that smile that our joy becomes contagious.

Have you ever seen a person and just felt that there was something different about them? Maybe they were just positive all the time? Maybe you’ve never seen them without a smile on their face?

I guarantee you that their life isn’t perfect… so why are they smiling? Through Christ we have much to be thankful and joyful over, and we should place those things above our circumstances.

Let’s face it… people don’t want to sing along with a worship leader about the joy of salvation while the worship leader remains unexpressive. How is that believable? An even better question is: How is that possible?

Don’t be afraid to show your emotion.

Keep your circumstances in perspective and smile on! It will be beneficial for not just you… but also for your congregation.

  • Make sure your Joy is Genuine

Worship comes from deep within. We simply cannot fake authentic worship. When we worship our God it appears on our faces, in our voices, and is evident in our demeanor. As worship leaders it should be our goal every time we lead to truly worship our God.

Did you catch that? We should truly worship God. It is personal.

When we can truly worship our God while leading, others around us will benefit. Our worship isn’t about us. It is about God, and in the end we are nothing more than “lead worshippers.” We can’t make people worship… but we can provide the opportunity and a God-honoring Biblical example.


I will leave you with the words of John 15:9-11,

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Have you received the love of the Father? If you believe that you have then your face and demeanor will show it.

Check the Ego at the Door

Everyone has dealt with someone who is a “know-it-all” before. Large egos are easy pretty easy to spot and are typically pretty difficult to deal with. Problems with the human ego or an inflated “self-worth” or importance have been around a long time… in fact, I would argue that ego problems go back nearly almost to the beginning of creation. I think we can find our first ego issue in Genesis 3:1-7 where it says,

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

I find it quite interesting that one of the very devices (ego) manipulated to deceive Eve in the Garden was the very thing that caused Lucifer to fall in the first place. Isaiah 14:12-15 paints us a picture of a self-absorbed Lucifer with an ever growing ego who desired to be seen as more than he really was.

Isaiah 14:12-15 says,

How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit.

Obviously we can see by the end of that verse what the outcome of that thinking was… A man named King Solomon, who people say could be the wisest man to have ever lived, said in proverbs 16:18 that,

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

Now obviously we have a lot more at play here with the fall of both Lucifer and man than just a human ego issue… but I think we can see a self-importance or self-inflation issue displayed in the Garden of Eden when Eve is deceived by Satan into believing that she could “be like God.” So… we have our very first example of an ego problem.

So… what is the problem with a little confidence? Nothing… if found in Christ.

But… an ego is an entirely different monster. We see in Scripture that the Biblical model for Believers is actually quite opposite to having an ego or inflated sense of confidence in self. The Biblical model or Christ standard is one of humility and of dying to oneself.

Luke 9:23 says,

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

So… for those like myself who like to be involved and love to serve within the Body of Christ and may struggle with pride, ego, or over inflated confidence… what do we do? How can we continue to serve and make sure that the attention is being directed in the right place and that we are staying “in-check?”


  • Check your motives.

Where is our focus? Ourselves? Or others? Matthew 22:37-39 says,

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself

In this verse Jesus teaches us that the greatest commandments were to love God with all we are and to love our neighbors as ourselves. When we truly strive to keep these commandments it is impossible to have an ego issue because we are essentially removing all the focus from ourselves and placing it where it should be… Jesus and others. That’s what it’s all about in the end anyways right?

Our insecurities are often manifested as excess confidence and the desires of the flesh and this world scream out for attention, acknowledgement, and praise but for those of us who have been reborn in Christ we no longer are enslaved to those desires and we no longer must give them dominion over us.

Galatians 2:20 says,

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 5:24 says,

And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

  • Live humbly.

Lets face it… none of us are the best thing since sliced bread or two-ply toilet paper. Without Jesus we are worthless because it is in Him that our only worth is found.

A humble heart has no room for an ego because it recognizes that all we have and all we are comes solely from God. In 1 Corinthians 4:7 Paul gives us a very serious reminder that all we have: our talents, successes, wealth, knowledge, gifts and abilities, etc… come from God and because of that we have nothing of our own to boast of.

1 Corinthians 4:7,

For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?

It is reassuring to know that all we have we have been given and that the Lord’s work isn’t dependent on our talent, skill, or anything else other than our obedience. God hasn’t called us to be the best, most adorned, highly skilled and praise worthy leaders… He has called us to be humble servants.

Micah 6:8 says,

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

1 Peter 5:5-6 says,

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you

Indeed, Jesus Christ is to be the example for how we should live and He Himself lived humbly. In Matthew 11:29 Jesus says,

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Psalm 51:17 says,

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

We aren’t called to be experts. We are called to be humble servants.

Romans 12:3-5 says,

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

If the answer to your problems is yourself then you haven’t addressed the biggest problem of all. Don’t let your ego be your idol… check it at the door.

How Prepared are We?

Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I am a stickler on being prepared. I feel that if you are going to do something then you better be prepared to do it right and to the best of your abilities or you shouldn’t even bother at all. So many times though I feel as if we as worship pastors get into the daily “grind” or routine and enter unprepared into one of the most important things we do each and every week… leading congregational worship!

You might be saying, “Woah! Woah! Woah! Hold on to your horses there hotshot… you don’t know my life or my habits.” That may be true… but I believe that if we prepared ourselves and our congregations to worship on a regular basis then we would be seeing so much more true, authentic, and Spirit-filled worship in our local churches.

I’ll put it this way… being prepared for a worship service means more than having faithfully practiced and rehearsed the songs to your accepted level of excellence. Being prepared is more than having a strict minute-by-minute or song-by-song schedule to abide by, a team of professionals who could play the songs forward or backwards at any desired speed, or having all your segues and cues polished and ready to go.

Being prepared for worship includes being ready to lead, sing, and play… but it also includes so much more.

God is on a search for true worshipers. John 4:23 says,

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.”

Are we being faithful to worship and lead in spirit and truth? Unfortunately for some of us that means we may need to make more time to prepare ourselves, and our teams.


Let me clarify one point before we dive deeper into this subject. We MUST prepare ourselves musically to lead worship. We CANNOT expect to properly lead people if we don’t know our stuff! So, take that as you will. We all prepare differently, but we should settle for nothing less than excellence. Our God is deserving of more than mediocre unprepared worship… and when we continually thank Him for the opportunity to do what we do and yet we don’t spend the time and effort to adequately prepare then we are blowing the opportunity we have thanked Him for. God doesn’t NEED us to accomplish His task and will, but He desires to see us used in His purposes. Prepare well and be ready to be used.


Now that I’ve made that one clarification lets take a look at how we can and should prepare for leading worship.


  • Prepare your Heart and Mind

It is of absolute importance that we take time to prepare our hearts to worship God before we set foot in the sanctuary on Sunday morning. True spiritual preparation takes time and effort and isn’t done in the fifteen minute gap between sound check and service.

In fact, God made this crystal clear when He gave the law in Exodus 19. Verses 10- 11 say,

The Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.

God called the people to prepare to come into His presence, or even near His presence when He came down onto the mountain where He would speak to Moses. The people weren’t even on the same mountain and they had to prepare! We are actually approaching and entering into the Lord’s presence with our worship… we should seriously prepare! We see consistently throughout Scripture and history that God wants His people to get ready to come near to Him, to prepare themselves for an encounter with Him.

When we take the time to think about what we are doing when we enter into worship, and lead worship, suddenly personal preparation becomes a priority. Take the time to think about the God that we are worshipping.

  • Prepare your Congregation

We know that corporate worship is of central importance. Psalm 22:22 says,

I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you

We are to praise God in the midst of the congregation! Worshipping Christ together is vital for us as Christians. Life wasn’t meant to be done alone… and neither is Christianity. So think about it, you’re worship isn’t for you… it is ultimately for God and also for encouraging your brothers and sisters in Christ.

A runner wouldn’t enter into a marathon without specific training the same way an individual wouldn’t climb into a ring with a boxer without having at least put on gloves before. We should prepare ourselves for worship as least as well as we prepare ourselves for other things that don’t hold a portion of the weight eternally.

Work to both prepare yourself for worship as well as teaching your congregation to prepare for corporate worship. When we place specific value on something people handle it differently. Place value on your corporate worship.

  • Prepare through Prayer

This point may seem like a given, but when we get scattered and rushed it is typically the first to fly out the window. Part of our preparations for leading corporately needs to be specific prayer for our corporate gatherings. If we can make this a priority I guarantee you that it will help and encourage you and others in your congregation to keep your focus on the Savior King who alone has the power to save, heal and deliver all who call upon His name and who is worthy of all our worship and more!

We must cover our gatherings in prayer. Commit yourself to praying over your services. We can do nothing alone. Here are some prayer points that will get you started.

Pray for direction. Pray that we are receptive to the Spirit and willing to go against our own plans if called to. My Pastor has repeatedly said to me that Pentecost didn’t occur because it was placed or scheduled in the bulletin.

Pray that Christ be glorified. We must continually pray against any sense of pride that may develop within us. Our worship should be about Christ and for Christ. If He isn’t in it then we are just singing songs. All that we do needs to point to the Father.

Pray for change. We must petition the Father for the hearts of the people within our congregations. We can have great services, but if nothing changes then all we’ve done is provided false security. I challenge you to pray for conviction and repentance, it isn’t pretty… but it is necessary and will bring change.

Pray against the enemy. Satan wants nothing more than to make us as believer’s weak. A sense of comfort or idleness is a scary thing. Let’s pray against the works of the deceiver that can invade our gatherings and congregations. We serve a mighty God, a roaring lion that crushes the head of the serpent. Pray against the devil and his works constantly.

John 14:13 says,

Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.


Hopefully through this non-exhaustive list we have all seen the importance of our preparations. Being prepared keeps us focused on what matters. When we’re spiritually prepared, we’re not as concerned about songs and arrangements (which are important), but the engagement of the congregation and the presence of God take the front seat.

When we begin to ignore the preparation of our heart, trivial matters tend to steal the show.

We also must remember that we have no right to come into God’s presence on our own. No amount of preparation that we can do is enough to make us fit, but we must be faithful to do our part!

What is the purpose of singing in Christian Worship?

Every Sunday across the United States and around the globe voices are raised in churches. Why do we sing? Why has singing become such a large aspect of what we gather together to do on Sundays? Is there something magical that happens when we sing?

What does our singing look like to others? Is it weird? I personally don’t find the fact that we sing praises to God weird at all. We have musical souls and use music to express every other aspect of our lives (sadness, happiness, anger, etc…). Why wouldn’t we sing to God? In fact, the Bible is filled with commands to sing and lift praises to our God.

Psalm 100:1-2- Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!

Psalm 95:1-2- Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

Psalm 147:1- Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.

Isaiah 12:5- Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth.

So… the Bible tells us to sing. But, if for some reason that isn’t enough for you then the fact that the Saints that have come before us sang should speak volumes to you and your beliefs or reactions to singing. We can even see an account where Jesus sang with His disciples before His betrayal. Mark 14:26 gives us this account when it says:

And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

In fact, Zephaniah 3:17 tells us that we have a God who is going to sing over us Himself one day.

 The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by his love; He will exult over you with loud singing.

So… we sing because God Himself sings! We are also commanded throughout Scripture to sing praises to our God. We have already seen many of these passages, but we can find another in Psalm 33:3 where it commands us to:

 Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.

John 4:23-24 also says that God is seeking people who worship Him. He Himself delights in our worship… He delights in our singing!

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

God is worthy of our praises and that alone should make us sing. We should rejoice and celebrate in the grace that we have been give. We have been blessed beyond measure and spoken words alone should not be able to completely contain our praises and excitement.

Other than the fact that God is worthy of our praise and we are commanded Scripturally to sing… why do we sing? What is the purpose of our songs? I will provide a few practical applications or purposes of our singing below.


  • We sing to remember.

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to recall the words of songs you haven’t heard for a numerous amount of years? Some songs are like learning how to ride a bicycle… once you hear them and they are there you never can forget them regardless of how little you bring them to the front of your mind or how hard you try to forget. As humans we store literally hundreds, even thousands of songs in our brains without even knowing it! We live in a musically saturated world. Rhyme, meter and song are the most powerful mnemonic devices.

You may be asking… what is that weird word?

Mnemonic devices, according to the Oxford dictionary, are devices such as a pattern of letters, ideas, or associations that assists in remembering something.

Music has an unusual mnemonic power. We remember patterns in music much better than patterns in words alone. In Deuteronomy 31:19-22 we see a particular passage in which God uses music to help his people remember his words. In this passage we see Moses commissioned by the Lord to write a song for the people of Israel so that they can easily remember God’s words.

“Now therefore write this song and teach it to the people of Israel. Put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the people of Israel. For when I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to give to their fathers, and they have eaten and are full and grown fat, they will turn to other gods and serve them, and despise me and break my covenant. And when many evils and troubles have come upon them, this song shall confront them as a witness (for it will live unforgotten in the mouths of their offspring). For I know what they are inclined to do even today, before I have brought them into the land that I swore to give.” So Moses wrote this song the same day and taught it to the people of Israel.

It is crazy that even in the Word we can see the fact that music has incredible memorization power for humans acknowledged. Paul says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly…singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.” Therefore, we can see that songs whose lyrics expound on the person, work, and glory of Christ tend to stay with us long after we’ve forgotten the main points of the sermon.

To end this point I will provide a snippet from a previous blog post of mine:

We live in an entertainment driven culture, so sermons or teaching just aren’t stimulating enough to keep some people connected. I found it interesting that researchers have discovered that the brain releases dopamine, a chemical related to attention and focus, when people watch TV or play video games because that “entertainment” is giving the them a “stimulus surge.” In a culture filled with this “surging” it is easy to see and understand why we have collectively become desensitized to things like sermons, lectures, meetings, etc. This lack of focus without “surging stimulation” can be seen first-hand in our sanctuaries and classrooms.

Interestingly enough, the brain also releases dopamine when stimulated with music!

 I have said all of that to make my next point clear… our music is important. The songs that we sing will likely be remembered when all else is forgotten, and because of that we must work to make wise choices regarding what we sing and play in our limited time each week. Our music shapes the Gospel for our congregations on a weekly basis whether we want it to or not.

We sing to remember God’s words, characteristics, and all that He has done for us!

  • We sing to respond.

Sometimes just thinking or speaking isn’t enough! Think about your response to a great gift you’ve received. If you just said “thank you” without smiling or looking happy what would be perceived as your true response or emotion? Think about a soldier returning home from war and his wife rushing out onto the runway and leaping into his open arms… what an awesome response! Speaking alone isn’t enough! The glory of God cannot simply be talked about. We need to sing! Simply thinking isn’t enough! The glory of God cannot simply be thought about and kept inside our minds. We need to sing!

Think to the book of Exodus when Moses and the Israelites fleeing for Egypt and the army of Pharaoh, just when the Israelites thought they were had and that they were done for God delivered them by crushing the enemies and their armies. What was their reaction… their response? They sang.

Exodus 15:1- Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord, saying, “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.

We are told to sing with “thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Singing is meant to be a whole-hearted activity. Emotionless singing is an oxymoron. God gave us singing to combine objective truth with thankfulness, doctrine with devotion, and intellect with authentic emotion.

1 Corinthians 14:15- What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.

In the end, the act of singing engages the full range of our emotions. Singing is a way of expression. It helps us engage our entire being in worship and praise to God.

Has God given you something to sing about? Has God given you a song? Sing it.

  • We sing to encourage ourselves and others.

James 5:13 says:

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.

Singing can be an encouragement. What is more encouraging than standing amongst your peers, your brothers and sisters in Christ, when you are at your highest high or lowest low and hearing them sing praises to God. Not everyone is in the same spiritual, or emotional place on Sunday mornings when we gather… but yet we still do. It is encouraging to sing, and it is encouraging to hear other’s sing to our God.

When Paul and Silas were in prison what did they do? They prayed and sang… that should say something.

Acts 16:25- About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.

  • We sing to engage.

Music is an essential part of our culture. Music is everywhere. How do we engage our culture that has drifted far away from the truths of the Gospel and the Words and lifestyle of Jesus? One way is through our songs and through our music. Great music can assist us in reaching those who are far from God. Music affects people in strange ways that words simply cannot. Music can reach the human spirit where mere debate and spoken truths cannot. It can soften our hearts and make us more receptive to the truth.

We see the lives and attitudes of inmates changed when Paul and Silas are in captivity singing and praying. When the doors swung wide open and the bonds fell off nobody ran away. Nobody even tried to escape! What changed their hearts? God did. Through what avenue? Most likely the truths being expressed through Paula and Silas. We see change not only in their testimonies… but in the response of the prison guard ready to take his own life to avoid punishment and the disgrace to his family’s name. Acts 16:25-34 says:

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.

Music can change lives. Sing truths that will infiltrate hardened hearts, and sing challenges to those of us who already know Christ. We can worship, teach, and evangelize through the songs that sing on a daily and weekly basis.

  • We sing to silence the enemy.

My favorite reason that we sing is to silence the enemy. Singing throughout the centuries was used as a battle tactic or a way to prepare soldiers for battle. We see in the Bible that singers and musicians were just as big of a part of the army as the soldiers themselves. They led the fighters into battle! Tribes in Africa will often sing and shout before heading into war as a way of intimidating their enemies with the size of the army and the volume of their voices. In Korean and Vietnamese history soldiers would rush into a battle with loud shouts and songs to intimidate and overwhelm their enemies. In American history music played a large role in both the Revolutionary and Civil wars as both a moral booster and communication technique.

We can apply this strategy to our own lives. We enter into spiritual warfare each and every day. When we accepted Jesus as our Savior we basically put a target on our back for Satan and the world to shoot at. But, when the enemy tries to attack your life or church, the raised voice of faith in the promises of God will drive him away. Psalm 68:1-6 says:

God shall arise, his enemies shall be scattered; and those who hate him shall flee before him! As smoke is driven away, so you shall drive them away; as wax melts before fire, so the wicked shall perish before God! But the righteous shall be glad; they shall exult before God; they shall be jubilant with joy! Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the Lord; exult before him! Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.

Sing truths to yourself and to the works of the world and the devil. A simple reminder is often all it takes. 1 Samuel 16:23 says:

And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him.

Refresh yourself and others. Sing to yourself and with others. Prepare yourself to fight and let the devil know who the victor will be!

My favorite song to sing in times of spiritual warfare in my own life is “Always” it goes like this:

My foes are many, they rise against me, But I will hold my ground. I will not fear the war, I will not fear the storm. My help is on the way, my help is on the way.

Oh, my God, He will not delay, my refuge and strength always. I will not fear, His promise is true. My God will come through always, always.

Troubles surround me, chaos abounding, my soul will rest in You. I will not fear the war, I will not fear the storm. My help is on the way, my help is on the way.

Oh, my God, He will not delay, my refuge and strength always. I will not fear, His promise is true. My God will come through always, always.

I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord. I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord. I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord. I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord. 

Oh, my God, He will not delay, my refuge and strength always. I will not fear, His promise is true. My God will come through always, always. Oh, my God, He will not delay, my refuge and strength always, always.

  • We sing to unite.

Ever wonder why singing is the dominant art form or artistic expression in churches? I believe the answer to that question is simple… singing is the easiest way to unify a large group of people.

People sing together in all kinds of places including church. We sing together in different scenarios and for different purposes… but it always unites a group of people for a sole purpose or with the same words. Singing together binds us together. When we sing corporately it provides a way for numerous people from all races, backgrounds, social and economic classes, and ages to express the same thoughts and passions together.

Do you want a more united church? Sing together.


These are just a few of the reasons we sing together in churches every Sunday. This list definitely isn’t exhaustive and you may have some reasons yourself that I haven’t mentioned. We must all take the challenge to truly think about and work to understand the reasons behind our singing. So… I’ll close this question:

Why do YOU sing?