Tuesday, September 27, 2011

All Who are Thirsty...

You can always tell when classes are either about to begin or have just ended on campus at CSULB by the line at the Starbucks. Either of them, actually (there are two within a two minute walk from each other). Or the Coffee Bean. Ok, let's just say by the line at any of the many coffee shops on campus.

It's almost as predictable as gravity or people going crazy over the newest iPhone: the line stretches out the door and stays that way! People just have to get their daily fix of caffeine or sugar or corporate America (I say this as I sip on my iced coffee, so I'm not exempt here...lol).

This semester we've been focusing on the life of Jesus as portrayed in the Gospels, especially in John. It's been an incredible time of seeing just exactly what it is that Jesus offers, who exactly He is, and why we should come to Him in the first place.

As I watched the line this morning at Starbucks, it struck me that all of these people are thirsty. I know, I know, what a genius insight! Next I'll be telling you that they all appear to be breathing!! :) Anyways, here are people who are lining up and waiting (sometimes at the expense of being to class on time!) to satisfy their physical desires.

Jesus' words to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4 and to the crowds in John 6 immediately came to mind:

"Everyone who drinks of this water [coffee, tea, etc.] will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." -John 4:13-14
 "Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.'" -John 6:35

God, draw the students at Long Beach to yourself. May they find true satisfaction in You and You alone.  

Monday, September 5, 2011

Monday Setlist-Unplugged! August 29, 2011

Our first NavNite of the year was last Monday, and from a musical standpoint we had a few challenges. The room we meet in is currently being remodeled and just earlier that day that had put in some drywall. Because of the construction we had no sound equipment-no speakers, no moniters, no tvs for powerpoint and no mics.

Worship at that particular NavNite was "unplugged"-we had two acoustic guitars and a djembe (as well as some printed out lyrics for everyone). This is not the ideal setup for leading over 80 people in corporate worship, but we definitely made do. It helped that many of the songs were familiar ones.

One of the highlights of the night happened before worship even began-as we were warming up and practicing Abby Chi, the 6 year old daughter of some of our staff, danced her little heart out to the music! It was a powerful and striking reminder of what it looks like to be so caught up in and unashamed of our worship that we go for it completely and without reservation.

We opened with a single song and then had a five song set after announcements, which seems to be the setup that we'll be going with for the foreseeable future. Especially for the first few NavNites of the semester, we felt it'd be good to wait on having times of reflection or response.

Worship Set:

1. "Marvelous Light" by Charlie Hall-(G)

2. "Blessed Be Your Name" by Matt Redman-(A)
3. "You Alone Can Rescue" by Matt Redman-(A)
4. "Lord, I Need You"-by Chris Tomlin-(A)
5. "Forever Reign"-by Reuben Morgan [Hillsong]-(C)
6. "Everything"-by Tim Hughes (C)

When leading an acoustic set, it becomes very obvious very quickly which songs people know, which songs people like (i.e. sing along to), and which songs fall into both categories. 
When you have a sound system and mics, any songs people don't know or don't sing along to can be compensated for. Everyone can at least hear the music and the lyrics. However, without that "safety net" of louder sound, it can be a question of projecting so people can hear or a fairly awkward couple of minutes until the next song.

That said, an acoustic set can also lead to incredibly powerful times of corporate worship where you find yourself not leading the worship but participating as everybody sings together. Last Monday we definitely experienced that at various points, but it was undeniable during "Forever Reign" that there was something special/unique going on. No sooner were the first two words ("You are...") out of my mouth than I found myself not leading the song anymore. From the third word of the song ("good") till the end, the room was filled with everyone's voices as we sang about the truths of God's attributes and the response of our hearts to His love. "Forever Reign" is a song that is near and dear to my heart and I couldn't be happier that it's a song that people in our ministry have really latched onto.

Thematically, I wanted to start the semester just dwelling on our need for God-He is the one who rescued us, He will remain faithful to us, He is all we need, and He is the one that we must run to and make our everything. Jesus is the only answer-there's a reason we're focusing on Him this semester in our times in the Word together!