Do Everything With Love

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Happy Thursday, everyone!  Today’s devotion was written by our own, Kelsi Walker.  We’re meditating on our worship value of INTEGRITY this month, so let’s jump right into this short-but-transformational word from one of Paul’s letters.

READ:

“Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.”

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭16:13-14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Do everything with love….

This is what Paul was asking his fellow believers. When they went out into their circles of friends, into the market place, into town meetings, wherever their lives led them… to do everything with love. As scripture tells us, that is exactly what they did. As history tells us, it changed everything.

2,000 years later we can see that this is what the world needs more of and that this command still rings true. As we cling to scripture for direction, I pray that we, as a worship team and church, look to this verse. That our actions and decisions come from a foundation of love. That the love of Christ changes us, gets inside of us, and flows out of us.

For us, just as it was with the early church, everything starts with Jesus. We cannot know how to love if we do not know how loved we are. We cannot know what love is if we don’t experience it through knowing God. God is the source of love. God is love. Followers of Jesus do everything with love, so we do everything with God. We stand firm in the faith that God is with us and that He loves us enough to never leave us or give up on us. This belief changes us and the way we do things. As followers of Christ, as worship team members, as friends, as brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, we are urged to take that love that has changed us into the world. We are commissioned to go to those without. Wherever we go, what ever we do, we do everything with love.

Reflection:

Try to imagine the early church and the ways that they went out into the community. Imagine what doing everything with love looked like. In what ways do you think that effort is the same for us as the church today? What does it look like for you, right now?

Think of the rest of your week, how can you intentionally do everything with love?

How does this scripture fit into your life and into your role as worship team member?

Pray:

Lord, help us to know your love more and more every day. We want to follow you and your example as you teach us how to do everything in love. We love you Jesus, help us to cling to you and your word this week as we dive into friendship, relationships with family, work, and leading in music. Lord, let us seek you first and let Your love change everything. Amen.

“…With Purpose In Every Step”

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READ:

“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭9:24-27‬ ‭NLT‬‬

REFLECT:

This passage is challenging for most Christians. We love the Lord, we really do. Our lives are whole because of God’s eternal love and person and goodness. So why is consistent training & discipline so difficult for us? In our spiritual life, physical life, and relational life?

Do you believe that every purposeful step makes a difference? Do you struggle with doubt, with a worry that you may just be shadowboxing? Why might accountability and encouragement within trusted community be critical here?

Paul’s last statement in this passage raises a legitimate concern for leaders. What is the danger in preaching what we, ourselves, do not faithfully practice?

What are a few things that you want to see growth in over the next 6 months? What realistic, achievable steps can you take to see disciplined victory in training those things? Take a moment or two, or maybe even the rest of the day to humbly ask the Lord for direction. Ask God, “Where do I need to grow, and what are a few simple steps I can take to be faithful?”

PRAY:

Father, Son, & Holy Spirit
Please help your children. We are so easily tired, our strength disappears so quickly.
But we know that, in you, there is strength for the weary and joy that energizes weak hearts.
Lord, we want to run your race with faithfulness and courage.
We thank you for every time you pick us up and carry us until we can run anew.
Never let us lose sight of the prize, keep our eyes ever on your wonder and majesty.
You are faithful and your promises are true. Help us grow strong in your love.
In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen. Amen. Amen.

2016 By The Numbers

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This has been quite a year! At this time last year, we were just beginning to understand what God meant when he said,

“Share everything.”

The Springbrook venue was just getting going, the Preteen ministry was about to kickoff, House Worship was still at a house, and Knoxville wasn’t even on the radar.

God has formed our little tribe of artists, and the Vineyard has become a safe place to connect with God and other creatives. One of the beautiful side effects is incredible worship services where people experience God. New ministries and multiple venues not only mean more of these services but also more opportunities for worship leaders to take risks and grow.

The numbers bear that out! These stats reflect the services of the Maryville venue, Springbrook venue, Knoxville venue, Vineyard Youth, Vineyard Preteen, House Worship, and a few special services we hosted in 2016. I also included the 2015 numbers when possible for comparison.

Services

  • 414 total worship services (266 in 2015)
  • 197 Sunday services outside our building (10)
  • 245 rehearsals (158)
  • 1,125 hours in rehearsals and services (762)

People

  • 113 musicians & technicians served (72)
  • 36 people led our church in a song (27)
  • 43 led worship from the sound booth (25)
  • 6,978 man-hours in rehearsals and services (4,975)

Songs

  • 154 total songs sung in all environments (108)
  • 86 songs used for Sunday morning gatherings (93)
  • 30 songs from the Vineyard tribe (21)
  • 15 homegrown originals (6)
  • 19 hymns (18)
  • 10 Christmas carols (7)
  • 24 songs unique to Vineyard Youth or Preteen (15)
  • 23 songs incubated at House Worship (0)

Songwriting & Recording

  • 24 active songwriters (17)
  • 15 songwriting small group meetings Feb 16-May 24
  • 1 songwriters night at Vienna Coffeehouse on May 31
  • 3 attendees to Southeast Song Summit Sept 19-20
  • 9 songwriters attended our annual retreat Nov 4-5
  • 22 original worship songs finished
  • 2 original songs translated to Spanish
  • 9 recording sessions
  • 4 songs recorded

Training

  • 15 attended training lunch with Dan Wilt on May 14
  • 2 students & 1 faculty attended Worship Leaders Bootcamp in Nashville June 14-17
  • 21 kids K-5th attended kids’ worship jam on July 7
  • 37 attended training with Mike O’Brien on July 16.
  • Guest worship leader Mike O’Brien on July 17
  • Provided 2 worship leaders & equipment for Vineyard Southeast Regional Conference July 18-21
  • Guest worship leader Sarah Pemberton on Aug 21
  • 17 attended youth worship circle & training on Oct 12

If you helped facilitate any part our worship gatherings in 2016: THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

I’m so grateful to get to serve alongside you as we put God’s beauty on display and cover the hills of East Tennessee with the songs of heaven. Who knows where the sound will reach next?!?

There Is A Rescue

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Peace be with you guys on this Christmas week!  Today’s devotional comes to us from one of the church’s fantastic worship leaders, Kelsi Walker.  Take some time to dig into the scripture, reflection, questions, and prayer.  May your week be full of God’s presence and have a Merry Christmas!

READ:

“Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days. The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses. Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy! The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon, as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon. There the LORD will display his glory, the splendor of our God. With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.” And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf. The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland. “The parched ground will become a pool, and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land. Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish where desert jackals once lived.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭35:1-7 ‭NLT‬‬

This year has been tough. I feel like humanity hasn’t caught a break and I feel weighed down and tired. Maybe you feel that same. As I have been reading through my advent devotionals the last several weeks I feel like what I have seen in the world has been highlighted. We desperately need a rescue. It seems as though the constant cry of the world has gotten louder and louder over the last months of the year and we can’t ignore it. We desperately need a rescue.

I read this passage and I feel lighter. I feel the peace of a promise that God has not forgotten us and that He is on His way, that He will save us! Be strong and do not fear, for God is coming. Eyes will be opened, ears will hear, the deserts will become green. Everything will change and nothing will stay the same… all things will be redeemed.

We as the Church believe this. It is our strongest and most daring hope, that the world can be and will be restored. And it has already begun! Christ has come, no longer must we live separated from God. We have a savior. There is a rescue! We can now live in communion with our Father and see how He works mightily in our lives and the world around us! Restoration is real and it is happening. Like He makes the deserts flourish and become green with life, God is bringing our world and the people in it back to life.

REFLECT:

In what ways has this year been challenging? Take some time to lay these trials at the feet of Jesus.

In what ways have you seen restoration in your life, in the world?

The passage says that God is coming to make things right and when this happens that “the voiceless break into song.” What does this mean to you as a member of the worship team? What songs are you singing? Take some time to think about the significance of being able to sing to our God because He came to rescue us.

PRAY:

Lord, You know our hearts. You know how they ache. You know how they race with excitement and hope for something more, something only You can give. Lord help us to not be fearful, but to believe that You will come and make things new, that You will come to rescue us. God, we pray that we find peace in your promise, that our hope guides the way we see the world. We pray that we trust you as we watch the world turn, from the desert wasteland, into green pasture, abundant with life! Thank you for Your love and rescue through Your Son.
Amen.

The Wholeness of Christ’s Reign

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READ:

“A green Shoot will sprout from Jesse’s stump, from his roots a budding Branch. The life-giving Spirit of GOD will hover over him, the Spirit that brings wisdom and understanding, The Spirit that gives direction and builds strength, the Spirit that instills knowledge and Fear-of-GOD. Fear-of-GOD will be all his joy and delight. He won’t judge by appearances, won’t decide on the basis of hearsay. He’ll judge the needy by what is right, render decisions on earth’s poor with justice. His words will bring everyone to awed attention. A mere breath from his lips will topple the wicked. Each morning he’ll pull on sturdy work clothes and boots, and build righteousness and faithfulness in the land. The wolf will romp with the lamb, the leopard sleep with the baby goat. Calf and lion will eat from the same trough, and a little child will tend them. Cow and bear will graze the same pasture, their calves and cubs grow up together, and the lion eat straw like the ox. The nursing child will crawl over rattlesnake dens, the toddler stick his hand down the hole of a serpent. Neither animal nor human will hurt or kill on my holy mountain. The whole earth will be brimming with knowing God-Alive, a living knowledge of God ocean-deep, ocean-wide.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭11:1-9‬ ‭MSG‬‬

REFLECT:

This passage from Isaiah’s prophecy fills me with so much fantastical hope, Advent hope. What a beautiful picture of Christ’s eternal reign, I would think it difficult to read these words without feeling a hum of warmth. It’s the kind of expectant hum one experiences when they first read Lewis’ “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe”, in which an evil winter’s grasp is melted away by the very presence of the Lion, the true King.

I was listening to a sermon just recently by Campbellsville Vineyard’s Senior Pastor, Adam Russell. In the sermon, Adam made a striking observation about the peaceful, almost paradoxical relationships presented in Isaiah’s 11th chapter.

Wolves and lambs, lions and calves, these are not animals that live together, they do not sleep peacefully near one another in the current state of things. The lamb is afraid and the wolf is hungry. And we, humans, are both of these creatures. We have been preyed upon and we have been starved. Some of us have even identified as extremes of these natures, feeling as if the whole world is out to destroy us, or living with insatiable, ravenous appetites that are never satisfied. And it is to the heart of both of these natures that the Christ comes with His remedy: the remedy of peace, the remedy of wholeness.

In Jesus’ Kingdom, there is no need to be afraid, no need to consume one another. The deepest needs of calf and cub are met in the Lord’s very presence. The overflow of Christ’s wholeness is all-sustaining and never-ending.

With that promise, we come to this season of waiting. Waiting in the tension of Advent, the tangible electricity of the “already and the not yet”. We repeat the Master’s prayer saying, “on earth as it is in heaven,” looking for the magic glimpses of Spring: the tastes and smells of the coming, eternal Summer. As wolves and sheep, we long for the wholeness of Emmanuel.

PRAY:
In the love of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
We pray this mystery:
Christ has died
Christ is Risen
Christ will come again
Come, O Come, Emmanuel, God With Us
On earth as it is in heaven
Amen, Amen, and Amen

God With Us

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Advent greetings to you all!

For this week’s devotion, take some time to read this breathtaking passage about Emmanuel from the prophet Isaiah. Then, even if you know the song well (maybe you’ve played it 100 times), listen to the worship tune “God With Us” by All Sons & Daughters. Finally, read Isaiah 9:2-7 one more time from “The Message” and end your time of reflection in some (probably much needed) quiet prayer. Listen for the Lord to speak to you as you reflect on this beautiful mystery: God is with us, He is Emmanuel.

READ, WORSHIP, READ, PRAY:

“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. You will enlarge the nation of Israel, and its people will rejoice. They will rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest and like warriors dividing the plunder. For you will break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders. You will break the oppressor’s rod, just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian. The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned. They will be fuel for the fire. For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭9:2-7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

 

 

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. For those who lived in a land of deep shadows— light! Sunbursts of light! You repopulated the nation, you expanded its joy. Oh, they’re so glad in your presence! Festival joy! The joy of a great celebration, sharing rich gifts and warm greetings. The abuse of oppressors and cruelty of tyrants— all their whips and cudgels and curses— Is gone, done away with, a deliverance as surprising and sudden as Gideon’s old victory over Midian. The boots of all those invading troops, along with their shirts soaked with innocent blood, Will be piled in a heap and burned, a fire that will burn for days! For a child has been born—for us! The gift of a son—for us! He’ll take over the running of the world. His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness. His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings. He’ll rule from the historic David throne over that promised kingdom. He’ll put that kingdom on a firm footing and keep it going With fair dealing and right living, beginning now and lasting always. The zeal of GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies will do all this.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭9:2-7‬ ‭MSG‬‬

TAKE TIME TO PRAY, LISTENING FOR THE LORD AND HOW HE MIGHT QUIETLY SPEAK THROUGH THESE SCRIPTURES, IMAGES FROM THE STORY, OR IN THE PEACE OF HIS QUIET VOICE.

Thanksgiving Wisdom from Ray Hollenbach

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The peace of Christ to each of you on this Thanksgiving week!

Each year, this holiday stirs up a wide range of memories, emotions, and interactions with family or friends.  For some, this time is full of joy and rest, while, for others, this week comes bearing painful reminders of loss. We believe that the Lord is near to us through it all.

However this week meets you, know that those of us that get to serve and worship alongside you are indescribably grateful that the Father has brought each of you into this Kingdom work with us.  You are all a sincere delight to the worship staff and to our congregation.

We hope that this week would be a reminder to us all that we are called to live as a people of daily thanksgiving to the Lord.

Ray Hollenbach, our dear friend, author, and pastor from Campbellsville, Kentucky, has written two very timely blogposts about the Christian’s act of giving thanks.

Below are excerpts from and links to these two articles:

  1. “The Dangers of Thanksgiving”

In this first reflection, Ray examines the ways in which we express thanksgiving and what kind of gratitude is pleasing to God.

“But there is a path that leads to life, thanksgiving that enters the gates of God’s estate. Healthy thanksgiving is absolute. Without qualification. It has no need to look about. Absolute thanks focuses on the Giver and the gift. Absolute thanks understands that the gift says everything about the Giver—and next to nothing about the one who receives it, other than the receiver is the object of perfect love. Relative thankfulness looks around; absolute thanks looks up. Absolute thanks yearns for everyone to know such joy. Absolute thanks is the little boy who hits a home run, and wishes every other boy on the team will get the same chance to experience the thrill of taking the victory lap.”

Read the full post here

2. “The Current of Thanksgiving”

This piece works through giving thanks as a daily practice and act of worship and how the Spirit can shape us in the gratitude.

“Anyone can recite the major blessings of their life if they are called upon to do so every once in a while. But the daily practice of thankfulness either becomes dull via repetition or a mere formula we rush through before we move on to the next task. Unless we apply ourselves to the substance of the prayer: can we develop the skill to discover God’s goodness day-by-day? My ten-minute morning prayer exercise has begun to sharpen my awareness of God’s mercies, which after all, are new every morning. As I go about my day I try to gather up in my memory the Father’s small kindnesses—and I’ve discovered there are hundreds each day! But we only find those things we are looking for.”

Read the full reflection here

“…before our inner eyes.”

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READ:

“God and the spiritual world are real. We can reckon upon them with as much assurance as we reckon upon the familiar world around us. Spiritual things are there (or rather we should say here), inviting our attention and challenging our trust.”

“And this not by any trick of the imagination, but in downright actuality. The soul has eyes with which to see and ears with which to hear. Feeble they may be from long disuse, but by the life-giving touch of Christ alive now and capable of sharpest sight and most sensitive hearing. As we begin to focus upon God, the things of the spirit will take shape before our inner eyes. Obedience to the Word of Christ will bring an inward revelation of the Godhead (John 14: 21-23).

“If we would rise into that region of light and power plainly beckoning us through the Scriptures of truth, we must break the evil habit of ignoring the spiritual. We must shift our interest from the seen to the unseen.”

“More and more, as our faculties grow sharper and more sure, God will become to us the great “all,” and His presence the glory and wonder of our lives.”
A W Tozer

REFLECT:

What can these words from Tozer teach us about Kingdom Expectation? What can we be doing to intentionally turn our attention to the Spirit’s work around us? What do obedience and consistency do for our spiritual senses?

PRAY:

Father, you spoke and creation was. You speak and we are.

Jesus, you call us by name. You are the Word that saves.

Holy Spirit, will you teach us to hear what you hear, to speak what you’re speaking.

Amen. Amen. Amen.

Receptivity

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READ:

In last week’s devotion, we started reflecting on the voice of the Lord. We believe in and serve a God that speaks to his people, and this is extremely significant to the way in which we live our lives. Put simply: if our King is speaking, we should listen. So let’s continue meditating on the importance of asking God to tune our ears, eyes, and hearts to his will.

If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:7-8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭34:4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Receptivity is not a single thing; rather, it is a compound, a blending of several elements within the soul. It is an affinity for, a bent toward, a sympathetic response to, a desire to have. From this it may be gathered that it can be present in degrees, that we may have little or more or less, depending upon the individual. It may be increased by exercise or destroyed by neglect. It is not a sovereign and irresistible force which comes upon us as a seizure from above. It is a gift of God, indeed, but one which must be recognized and cultivated as any other gift if it is to realize the purpose for which it was given.”
– A W Tozer

REFLECT:

What do these passages of scripture and quote from Tozer teach us about training our receptivity to and through the Spirit? What does it look like to “increase by exercise or destroy by neglect” our sensitivity to the Lord’s voice?

Why is persistence so crucial in our asking and our listening in prayer? What does consistency do for our receptivity to the Lord?

PRAY:

Father, you spoke and creation was. You speak and we are.

Jesus, you call us by name. You are the Word that saves.

Holy Spirit, will you teach us to hear what you hear, to speak what you’re speaking.

Amen. Amen. Amen.

A Friendly Voice

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READ:

“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
‭‭John‬ ‭1:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“An intelligent plain man, untaught in the truths of Christianity, coming upon this text, would likely conclude that John meant to teach that it is the nature of God to speak, to communicate His thoughts to others. And he would be right. A word is a medium by which thoughts are expressed, and the application of the term to the eternal Son leads us to believe that self-expression is inherent in the Godhead, that God is forever seeking to speak Himself out to His creation. The whole Bible supports the idea. God is speaking. Not God spoke, but God is speaking. He is by His nature continuously articulate. He fills the world with His speaking voice… The voice of God is a friendly voice. No one need fear to listen to it unless he has already made up his mind to resist it.”
A. W. Tozer

REFLECT:

If the Lord of the universe, our best friend, is speaking, how should that shape our attentions? In work and relationship? In leading worship?

Do you ever struggle with believing that God is speaking? Do you confidently believe that the Spirit communicates to people, but doubt that you’re one of those people?

Do you have confidence that the Father wants to speak to you, but resist listening because of what He might say or ask of you?

What if, even with our doubts, we committed to listening patiently and consistently for his voice? Would each day look different if we took the Word at his word?

PRAY:

Father, you spoke and creation was. You speak and we are.

Jesus, you call us by name. You are the Word that saves.

Holy Spirit, will you teach us to hear what you hear, to speak what you’re speaking.

Amen. Amen. Amen.