When you are young, its easy to take for granted the places you visit and family vacations you experience. As an adult, I am learning to appreciate each special opportunity the Lord grants me, one day at a time. This morning I awoke early, before the crack of dawn, reminiscing about some of the greatest worship moments I have ever encountered.
Singing One Bread, One Body prior to communion at my first Walk to Emmaus weekend still gives me goosebumps. The Community gatherings at Willow Creek in Chicago I attended every Wednesday night for a year combined immaculate worship with the teaching of John Ortberg. The rock concert at The Church of the Open Door in Minnesota during my youth ministry trade school in the Twin Cities gave me an idea of the intensity one must bring to fully worship God. However, this past weekend while visiting Vineyard Christian Fellowship on Appleton Road in Landenburg, Pennsylvania, I felt as if I was in the presence of the most high.
Psalm 100:1 was the inspiration behind the song Shout to the Lord. The following verse, Psalm 100:2 calls people to make a joyful noise. However, there is a temptation for worship leaders to think, “look at me, don’t I have a great voice?” As a karaoke enthusiast, I spent several summer evenings in college hanging out with friends at a local night club, often singing 4 songs prior to leaving. When you were good, the crowd went crazy following your last line. If you weren’t, like me, I felt like a professional golfer receiving a subtle clap of applause. My high point of Karaoke came at the 1995 Canadian P.G.A. Tour Qualifying School on Vancouver Island hosted by Morningstar Golf Club.
After a poor opening round, shooting in the 80’s, I went to a local sports bar in Nanaimo to drown my sorrows. Since most singers were distracted by the NHL playoffs, plastered on a dozen televisions, volunteers for Karaoke were slim. Instead of drinking, I used singing as a vehicle for healing. To my surprise, I nailed Can’t Fight This Feeling by REO Speedwagon, actually hitting every note on cue. As I handed my microphone off, the place erupted. Thinking the Canucks, Vancouver’s professional hockey team, had just scored a goal, I turned to the nearest set to see what I just missed, trying to catch a replay. To my amazement, the audience was cheering for me, praising me for my performance.
The message God placed on my heart over and over this morning is “Look to Him, not to us!” Since I haven’t had much success singing, the temptation to steal credit from God isn’t there. However, there are other areas, venues in which I have stolen the limelight from the Lord. David reminds us in Psalm 16:2 that apart from God we can do nothing. Therefore, whether you are leading worship for your church, fulfilling the duties of your occupation or fanning into flame your spiritual gift, look to Jesus for strength, 2 Corinthians 12:9. By demonstrating biblical principle, other people will start looking to Him, not to us, 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12.
by Jay Mankus