Author: John Matthew Willis

Free Focusrite Interface!

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TOUGH LOVE

When you hear the phrase “tough love” what comes to mind? For most of us, probably some form of discipline, right? Tough love is when you make the hard decision to exercise authority in some form of punishment in response to an unintelligent choice made by someone we love. We show them “tough love” by reprimanding them, even if we don’t necessarily want to, because we know that, in the end, they will benefit from it.

Quick 180! That’s not exactly what I am talking…typing about here. I am “typing” about something a little different. Have you ever been frustrated with someone? Unhappy with someone? Is there someone that you know personally or impersonally that you have to try really really hard to like/ tolerate but you tend to lose that battle? Maybe it’s a co-worker, family member, or church member. Or maybe it’s a celebrity, politician, or a well-known business man. We all have that one person – or two, or three, or nearly everyone haha – that, for some reason, tangible or not, that we just don’t like. And loving them? No way. Out of the question.

Which brings me to my next thought. Liking vs. Loving. To like someone or something means to find them, or it, “agreeable, enjoyable, or satisfactory,” whereas, to love means to have “an intense feeling of deep affection” towards someone or something. Okay. Good news then bad news. You don’t have to like everyone. It is okay to disagree with people. It is okay to not enjoy being around certain people, but the cold hard – ¬†just the way I like my drinks! haha – truth is that being without love for other people is not okay.

You might be telling yourself, like I tell myself, “I do that. I love certain people, I just don’t like them.” But do you? Do you really? Regardless of how “disagreeable” or “unenjoyable” you find certain people, do you maintain an intense feeling of deep affection for them even when their actions towards you or other people are not “satisfactory?” Loving those that don’t treat you well, don’t love you back, or have ill intent for you is probably the hardest thing you and I will ever do, but it does not change the fact that being without love for other people is sinful. Why? Ephesians 5 says “Be imitators of God as beloved children and walk in love.” In Matthew 22 Jesus says, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and in Matthew 5 He calls us to “love our enemies.” And then in Romans 5:8 it says that God demonstrated His love – His intense feeling of deep affection for us – by dying for us, even though we were sinners. Did God find us agreeable? Did He find us satisfactory? Absolutely not. We were sinners. Which means we were openly and actively betraying God. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.”

Isn’t that crazy! God’s love for us runs so deep that, regardless of how we treat Him, He would lay down His life for us, build us up, and help us to become better people filled with kindness and love and bestow to us the greatest blessings that He, the creator of all things, could possibly ever give us – life, hope, forgiveness, and making us members of His family with an inheritance in heaven.

So, when you and I say, “I love them, I just don’t like them,” Do you love them like that? Like God loves us? Because that is what we are called to do. Today, consider how you might bless, not only those people that you don’t like, but also those people that don’t like you, thus showing them an active love like Christ.

Unexpected Inconveniences

Today I was awakened by my alarm clock and the LAST thing I wanted to do was get out of bed. It is always miraculously comfortable in the morning! Reluctantly, I staggered out of bed and began to get ready for the day. As I was going through my normal morning routine I thought through everything I needed to get done for the day. I thought to myself, “perfect, I will have just enough time to accomplish everything on my list.” With a sense of exhausted determination, I walked out the door and drove to the office.

I sat down on my throne – aka. Delipadated office chair – and began working. Everything was hunky-dory. I was crossing tasks off my list in a surprisingly timely manner. Everything was going according to plan. But not for long.

I got a phone call around 10am and was informed that there was an urgent matter that needed immediate attention. My hopes for the day were crushed in an instant.

I thought to myself, “I have so much more to do.” “I don’t have time for this.” “I’m too busy.”

Ever been there? You have made for yourself a perfect road map for your day and then the wind blows and rips it right out of your hands. A lot of us, myself included, structure our days hour by hour and, often, minute by minute. We don’t have time for anything extra. Someone wants to stop and talk to us but we say, “sorry, I’m in a hurry.” Someone needs our help but we say, “No, I don’t have time for that.”

Unfortunately, for our perfect plan, things always come up. Stuff happens that requires immediate attention and we have to put our perfect plan by the wayside. How do we respond? Well, for me, I often become frustrated, irritated, agitated, and any other “tated” you can think of!

Here is my point. What if we, I, structured our days differently? What if we planned for unexpected inconveniences? Therefore, when someone wants to talk, we can. When someone needs our help, we can take time to help. When we see that beggar on the side of the road, or at an intersection, or outside of a business establishment, maybe we stop to say “Hi” and treat them like a normal human being. I would argue that we could better show love and patience to people if we penciled in time everyday for so called “unexpected inconveniences.” This might just become the most important part of your day!

More Than Anything

Psalm 42 says…¬†

1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
    so my soul pants for you, my God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When can I go and meet with God?

Picture this. You have been running for an hour straight. No Break. You can feel the sweat soaking your shirt. It is dripping off your face and your hands. You can feel your calves getting tight, on the verge of cramping. Your once strong and elevated running posture is now some shrunken and beat down version. You feel a tightness in your throat. Your breath is now short, more like panting and your heart is pounding. The only thing that consumes your every though is one simple word. REST. You long for rest. You crave it.

This is the intensity with which God desires us to long for Him. Why? Because He knows that the best gift He can give us is Himself. He knows that only He can ever truly satisfy our deepest desires.

In life, when you find yourself in a deeply desperate state, I pray that God would be your chief desire that leads you to everlasting satisfaction and contentment. I hope you enjoy the song!

 

You might notice an amazing sounding ambience going on in the background throughout the song. That is something called a pad and you can purchase them at www.worshiptutorials.com/pads

Everlasting God

I have been wanting to use multi-tracks in live worship settings for quite some time, but it has not been until recently that I have learned how. (http://loopcommunity.com has tons of helpful tutorials). Over the past couple of weeks I have been working on recording different songs that we play often at our church. I got together with a member of our worship team and we recorded our own arrangement of Everlasting God that we can use in our worship services.

Leadership and Calling Part 3

The overall message that I want to say in this post is this: Leaders who trust God, point to, and exalt Christ through word and deed will thrive.

Leading people in worship is amazing. It is an honor and great privilege. It is an absolutely joyful blast. And it is a gigantic responsibility and can be challenging at times.

James 3:1 “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”

Leaders will be judged more strictly. Plain and simple. This doesn’t mean that everyone else gets a free pass and can do whatever they want, but it does mean that those of us who have been called to lead will be held accountable for how we lead the people that God gave us to lead.

In John 14:6 Jesus says,¬†‚ÄúI am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Being a good leader is not about being eloquent with words. It’s not about being the “best” or the “coolest hippest dude on the block.” Leaders lead well when they point to and exalt Christ through everything they do – words and actions – on stage and off stage. Anytime we stand up on the stage we need to clearly communicate our purpose – Christ. Boom that’s it. I love the way Bob Kauflin says it “Glorify God the Father, by praising the Son, through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

The other side to the leadership coin is trusting God. This is of MASSIVE importance. If you are in a trial then trusting in God will help you find peace in knowing that God is in control and will see you through. If you are on a mountain top then trusting God will help you keep a right perspective – you are where you are at because of God’s blessing. Therefore, give thanks to God.

We trust God to stir in hearts, draw people, and change lives. We pray that we would be vessels that exude the power of the gospel, but no matter how loud we play and sing, no matter how eloquent we are with our words, it is the Spirit of God that opens our eyes to see Him, our hearts to receive, and moves us to true and genuine spirit and truth worship.

Don’t let unfortunate circumstances cause you to doubt your calling as a leader of worship. As a leader there will be times when you are uncertain how your leadership is being received. But if you are pointing to and exalting Christ and trusting in God to move in the hearts of people then you are leading well.¬†