In the podcast, Part Two of the series, host Jon Nicole and I discuss Seven Big Ideas that your worship team should absolutely know.
Every summer since 2001 I’ve been on a short term missions trip to Eastern Europe. Wow, that’s fifteen consecutive years! Time flies when you’re having fun. And there’s nothing more rewarding than serving the Lord.
PART 1: SOZO Festival, Hungary. July 13-21
I attended my first SOZO Festival in 2001 in Baja Hungary where I taught songwriting. The following years I returned as Director of Worship. I also teach seminars on worship leading and theology.
SOZO means “salvation, healing and deliverance”. The purpose of the SOZO Festival has been discipleship, evangelism and ethnic reconciliation. SOZO is about training and equipping people from multiple nations.
TRAINING & EQUIPPING
We use music and the arts to draw people together from the post communist and war-torn area of the Balkan region in southeastern Europe. These are among the poorest countries in the world.
SOZO trains individuals in many areas including: Leadership, Youth Ministry, Worship Arts, Children’s ‘School of Worship’, Dance, and an international Gospel Choir!
SOZO is a 4 day camping event offering morning times of Multi-Cultural Worship, followed by a full slate of seminars, then Evening Concerts on the main square of Baja, … ending the day with fellowship at Café SOZO, a casual acoustic music venue / coffee house.
We will have a gospel outreach to the Roma (or gypsy) people of the area featuring the Christian gypsy band Amaro Del, with face painting for kids, dramatic skits, and a clear presentation of the gospel.
In the evenings after the seminars, we host a free-to-the-public Christian music concert series. This is a rare open-air presentation of the gospel through music in a predominately atheist region. It’s a rich opportunity for evangelism.
Another highlight of SOZO Festival is the worship experience.
There’s just nothing else like it.
Every day we gather with a different group of musicians and singers from the many nations represented, and we simply pour our hearts out to God.
Sometimes it’s beautiful, sometimes it’s messy, but God always reveals His great love in a fresh way when we make His presence and His Son the center of attention.
Singing and worshiping along with people from “every tribe, every nation, every tongue” is like a glimpse of heaven. Simply awe inspiring.
SOZO TESTIMONIAL VIDEO
In this video from SOZO 2013, you can see and hear some of the people and their stories, and get a sense of what SOZO Festival is all about.
Part 2: The School of Worship in Romania. July 26-31
2015 will mark the 10th anniversary of the Scoala de Inchinare (School of Worship) in Timisoara, Romania. I’ve been blessed to be an instructor there every year since the project began. It’s been inspiring to see the growth and development of this move of God.
ROMANIA TESTIMONIAL VIDEO :
This video shares testimonials from the students at Scoala de Inchinare. You’ll be encouraged to see the transformation in the lives of these young men and women.
We’re investing in the next generation that will change nations.
This year the school will be 2 weeks long and is quite intense. I and other guest instructors live in community with the students while we’re there.
I teach Theology of Worship in the mornings and Songwriting class in the late afternoon /early evening. The days are long and full of activity.
MORE ABOUT ROMANIA AND THE SCHOOL OF WORSHIP
You can get an in-depth view of the Scoala de Inchinare experience with a lot of pics in this 2012 post, A Day In The Life at Romania’s School of Worship.
I also wrote an extensive series of blog posts (with “behind the scenes” e-mails) so folks could have a better understanding of the work we are doing for the kingdom of God. You can read that series here – Balkans Missions Trip Report.
I feel very blessed to be part of what God is doing in Romania.
I really hope we can raise more money for the school in 2015 so more students can attend.
Donations from a wide range of “people who care” pays for my travel and related expenses. We also donate music instruments and scholarships for students.
Contributions are tax deductible as allowed by law. The travel costs of the trip is about $4500.00. You can donate a guitar for $400. You can give a scholarship to a student for $250.00. You can underwrite printing for student notes & outlines for $25.00. Any amount is appreciated! Rob Still Ministries, Inc. is an IRS 501c3 Charitable Organization.
Also, would you join my email list? You can stay updated on our 2015 Missions Trip to Hungary & Romania, July 12-31, 2015
In this passage from Acts Chapter 9, we learn the story of Saul/Paul’s dramatic encounter with Christ and his instantaneous conversion from opponent to proponent of the Jesus movement.
The event left Saul waylaid with blindness.
Then the Lord called a most reluctant believer named Ananias in a vision, and sent him to be the agent of healing to Saul.
We all have areas of blindness, and God may very well will use the most unlikely people to open our eyes and set us free.
On the other side of the equation, like Ananias, someday you too could be that reluctant hero who delivers the breakthrough someone so desperately needs.
Saul was so humbled and disoriented by what had happened that all self sufficiency and pride was laid down.
Ananias was so compelled by the spirt of conviction that he laid down his fear and embarked on a very difficult assignment.
My friends in the Lord, we need one another. We are designed to be interdependent. Sometimes you’ll be on the giving end, other times you’ll times you’ll be on the receiving end.
Just be willing to say “yes” to God.
The Lord be with you today!
Today’s #SWD is from Solomon’s dedication of the temple in 1 Kings 8. It is a very lengthy prayer, recalling the history and covenant promises the Lord made with His people Israel and David’s family line.
O God, God of Israel, there is no God like you in the skies above or on the earth below who unswervingly keeps covenant with his servants and relentlessly loves them as they sincerely live in obedience to your way. 1 Kings 8:23 (MSG)
One of the main ideas of the Bible is that relationship between God and His people is one of agreement, and the Lord is faithful to fulfill His promises.
The grace factor is that His followers also make a commitment to “sincerely live in obedience” to His ways. That is how we genuinely love God wholeheartedly.
Of course we consistently fail at keeping our end of the bargain.
Thank goodness for the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ! He proves God’s relentless love.
Ephesians 2:4-5 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much,5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)
Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.
My friends, may you receive the gift of God’s grace today. He will be kind and loyal to those who follow Him wholeheartedly!
Good ‘ol Proverbs, the book of wisdom, constantly encouraging the reader to seek wisdom.
When I was a youngster, my Dad would tell me, “Robert, read the book of Proverbs.”
Good advice then, good advice now.
Two thoughts from Proverbs 16:21
1. If you desire to be “wise in heart”, get God’s heart on a matter and determine be aligned with that. Then you will bear the fruit of discernment.
2. Gracious words, or “winsome speech” is way more effective than arguing, cajoling, whining, complaining or begging.
Do 1 and 2 and you will earn a good reputation. And that is one of the most valuable commodities you can possess.
My friends, may the Lord be with you today!
The principle in Psalm 127:1 is that doing anything outside of the leadership of the Lord is a waste of effort.
“House” can be a metaphor for any significant project or organization (hint: like a church).
We can strive and stress to build something – anything really.
But if God is not in it, the best it can be is a ‘successful’ failure.
Or more likely, a total failure.
So get God’s heart on a matter before you jump in.
I’ve learned this lesson the hard way more than once.
How about you?
In today’s Daily Audio Bible reading, there’s an interesting juxtaposition of Solomon’s story where he asks for wisdom (1 Kings 3:3 – 4:34) and the New Testament account of the early church choosing servant leaders (men “full of the wisdom and the Spirit” – Acts 6).
Solomon Prays for Wisdom
5 At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
6 Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.
7 “Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. 8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number.9 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. (1 Kings 3:5-10)
The Message translation renders wisdom as “a God-listening heart”. The Amplified Bible translation says verse 9 this way:
“9 So give Your servant an understanding mind and a hearing heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and bad.
Three Insights from Solomon’s Story
1. First, the source of Wisdom, or insight for making the best decisions, comes from God.
2. Second, discernment is perhaps the most necessary and critical thinking tool for leaders.
Often the issue at hand may not appear clearly so much as “right or wrong”, but as to determine what is “good, better, or best”.
3. Third, to “govern”, or lead people well, we need the Holy Spirit to both empower our intellect (“an understanding mind”) as well as inspire our emotions (” a hearing heart”).
At the end of the day, most of our decisions are emotional decisions to some degree.
As with many things related to following the Lord, these ideas may seem obvious and common sense, but common sense is not always common practice. (I’ve written about this from another angle in this post.)
How Servant-Leaders Are Appointed To Do God’s Work
(NIV) Brothers and sisters,choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them.
(MSG) So, friends, choose seven men from among you whom everyone trusts, men full of the Holy Spirit and good sense, and we’ll assign them this task.
(AMP) Therefore select out from among yourselves, brethren, seven men of good and attested character and repute, full of the [Holy] Spirit and wisdom, whom we may assign to look after this business and duty.
Three Insights from the Acts 6 Story
1. First, we see those in spiritual leadership recognized there was a related but different “practical” ministry area that needed Godly leadership for the task at hand and to solve the problem they were dealing with (caring for the needy).
They did not see this as an inferior ministry. Even though this was “behind the scenes”, it required first rate leaders with the skill set to be successful. (Full of wisdom and the Spirit).
The “job” was important.
2. Second, evidence that God had been at work transforming the lives of these potential leaders was a prerequisite. So, those who knew these men would have been able to see the presence of the Holy Spirit active in their lives.
They would have witnessed these candidates as bearing the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control in their regular, everyday lifestyle.
This is what made them men who were known to be of good reputation, of attested character, and of whom everyone could trust.
3. Third, these servant leaders were called and appointed because they had demonstrated they were the right kind of people.
The Holy Spirit had prepared and positioned them to be promoted to a challenging new ministry assignment.
A Note To My Younger Self
My friend, if I were to write a note of encouragement today to you as I would to my younger self, I would say something like this…
Go deep in the things of God. Like, Solomon, ask for wisdom and greater revelation.
Like those first followers of Jesus, ask to filled and transformed by the presence of Holy Spirit.
“Ask and you will receive!’
Then press in for more. Be patient. Say “yes” when the Lord opens a door for you, though it may not seem very “important”.
Be the right kind of person first and foremost. Start there.
May the Holy Spirit today fill you with all the fullness of His Wisdom and the Spirit.
Serve the Lord with gladness. Amen.
The introduction to this Psalm is subtitled “A Song of Ascents”, also known as Gradual Psalms, Songs of Degrees, Songs of Steps or Pilgrim Songs. There are 15 Songs of Pilgrimage, Psalms 120 – 134.
Various scholars say these songs would have been sung as Jewish worshipers ascended the hill to the temple in Jerusalem, or as the Levites would climb the 15 steps of the temple to minister.
Today we can apply the idea behind these songs for “in-gathering”, or directing the attention of the community to worship. The in-gathering song is a “call to worship”.
The Pathway from Praise to Presence
1. In the call to worship, we “ascend the hill of the Lord” (Psalm 24), by applying the work of Christ to give us clean hands and pure hearts.
2. We “enter his gates with thanksgiving” (Psalm 100) as we declare and speak the truth of who God is.
3. Then we remember our identity as sons and daughters of the King. We are “those who trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 125:1).
4. We believe by faith His great promises ” the Lord surrounds and protects His people now and forever.” (Psalm 125:2)
And thus begins the pathway from praise into His presence.
5. In His presence there is fullness of joy! (Psalm 16:11)
6. So, delight yourself in the Lord. (Psalm 37:4)
First let me say, after a long hiatus – moving, getting settled in (still a work in progress), and doing major projects at the church – I’m back sharing #Sunrise #Worship #Devotionals.
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.
18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
Here we finally see the end result of the power of Christ living inside normal everyday guys who had been transformed by knowing Jesus.
First – Peter and John performed a supernatural miracle, they healed a man crippled from birth. Now he could walk. There was no denying the facts.
Second, the “religious spirit” caught up with them. The authorities demanded the apostles give first allegiance to the religious establishment.
They commanded them to shut up and deny giving glory to God. Intimidation is the tactic of those who assert power and control.
Someday, in some way, you may face a similar confrontation.
Peter was undeterred. He was not bowing to their intimidation. He declared his intention, “we can not help but speak about this”.
May the Holy Spirit today empower you to have as much clarity and courage. Speak up and give glory to Jesus. Amen.
Today as I write this update, it’s the first Monday after Easter Sunday. It will be 50 days until Pentecost. Drawing closer to the Lord during this season is the focus of my devotional book, Resurrection Power.
It also marks 20 days since we packed up and relocated from south Nashville to the north gate of Hendersonville, Tennessee. During that period we’ve been painting and trying to unpack while producing a musical cantata at the church for Palm Sunday, then a series of daily worship services during Holy Week, concluding with a pair of glorious Easter Sunday celebrations.
It has been a busy, intense, and exhausting couple of weeks – but we’re loving our new home and location!
It is a new season.
In the final book of the Holy Scriptures, Revelations foretells the coming tribulation the earth will endure. It will be a work of purification that will mark “the end of the world as we know it”. After which Jesus declares “Behold I am making ALL THINGS NEW. Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5
Indeed, whether in seasons of joy or grief, every word of Jesus is trustworthy and true.
I pray the Lord will encourage, inspire and sustain you with His Resurrection Power in your next season of life.
To God be the glory. Amen.
RESURRECTION POWER: DAY ONE Audio/Video
Here’s a reprise of Chapter One from audio book from last year.
So why am I taking the time to write a blog post about a new book by my friend Jeff Goins?
Because this book, “The Art of Work”, is that important.
I’ve had the privilege of not only knowing Jeff personally, but also to record and produce all of his books on audio. Jeff is a great thinker and a very successful author, so when he asked me to work with him again on “The Art of Work”, I was of course excited about the project.
During the sessions, there were moments I was cracking up with laughter and others when we had to actually stop recording because yours truly was brought to tears. And I don’t cry easily.
These stories, and the lessons learned, are that good.
The Art of Work: A Proven Path To Discovering What You Were Meant To Do, is all about finding your calling, that thing you were meant to do. Jeff is still a young guy, so wisely, he did a lot of research. This book is full of inspiring stories, as well as his own keen insights, about how you can take your passion and turn into a lifestyle.
I think this book is for you if you you feel like there’s “something more” to life, want to live with more purpose and clarity, and do work that matters.
It’s a perfect guidebook if you’re seeking a new career path, or reinventing yourself, or just need to get clear.
So right now until March 23, there’s book launch going on before the official publication, and I’m happy to be an affiliate and help spread this great message. You can get a copy of the book delivered for almost free, plus you’ll get an additional $250.00 of bonus content (you’ll pay shipping, but it’s only $6.99). BTW, the bonus content is worth it.
After reading and listening to “The Art of Work” many times, I feel it may be one of the most important self-development books since Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. That book changed my life.
Maybe The Art of Work could have the same impact for you.
So here’s a link to get your practically free copy and the bonus stuff. Enjoy! And let me know your thoughts.