Lucky – Dear Worship Team #2

📷: David Heinlein

Dear Worship Team,

We started off Monday with my encouragement that we consider what it means to serve one another. I wanted to get practical on that admonition by exploring Jesus’s “Sermon on the Mount” from Matthew 5-7. This is the blueprint, the epitome of how we are to live our lives as believers – as followers of Jesus. Even more so as members of a team called to lead His people in worship. Let’s look at how the Sermon on the Mount teaches us to serve and love one another.

Let’s start with the Beatitudes. An introduction of sorts to Jesus’s sermon:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Eugene Peterson, who wrote “The Message” translation of the Bible says he wanted to use the word “lucky” instead of blessed because it connected more to our contemporary understanding of the Greek word in this passage. His publisher wouldn’t go for it in the end, but you get the idea. These are preposterous statements in the eyes of the world. Our culture rewards the powerful, the winners. #Winning is a thing, right?

But Jesus says to count yourself blessed, outright lucky – to have won the jackpot if you are poor in spirt or meek. You are highly favored if you mourn or hunger or thirst or if you’re persecuted for righteousness or even insulted because of Jesus. Peterson translates that last bit like this:

“You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds.”

If we’re going to serve one another on our worship team, in our church body, in our families, jobs, schools we must learn to recognize and see what heaven applauds. Maybe get our minds out of Facebook likes and Twitter mentions and learn to value what God values.

The Beatitudes is a pretty good place to start. Count yourself lucky if you make that list.

Love y’all!!

Ben

Chicken Feet

I’m on my back from a family reunion in South Alabama.  It’s rainy in Atlanta so I’m delayed a little while.It was a great trip and I’m so glad I was able to come for the reunion and my grandfather’s surprise 80th birthday celebration.

One of my favorite moments was when my grandmother told me her favorite part of the chicken when she was growing up was the feet.  She said she doen’t eat them anymore because they’re too dirty.  When her Mom cleaned them she know they were clean.

She also told me how she was the worst of her brothers and sisters (10 in all) at ringing a chicken’s neck.  “It would just drop to the ground, get up, and walk off.”

Funny stories.  Precious.

Granny Spurlock

How Far, How Far

Just a few hours left of 2009 here in New York City.  We’re going to celebrate with friends in Queens.  I was thinking today as I drove back from the church in Syosset how many things changed and happened this past year.

When the year began we had only moved to the city a couple months earlier.  Neither Olivia nor I had a job yet and our savings were pretty much gone.  I had interviewed at on church, but it didn’t work out — all we could say was, “Lord, do what You will.”

Olivia got a job at a doctor’s office almost right away.  I interviewed with another church (that one wasn’t it either!) and got ready to do some temp office work.  In the meantime I walked pretty much all the neighborhoods in New York just praying and trying to hear what He was saying for us.  (This was one of the most wonderful seasons yet in my walk with the Lord:)  I finally got a temp job at an office and then another at the NFL.

Olivia found a new opera coach that turned out to be a great help to her as she gets ready to go to the next level in her career.

I went back and forth as to what the Lord wanted from me…did He want me leading worship in a church?…did He want me to go back into songwriting?…did He want me to pursue business at the NFL and lead worship part-time?

Towards the end of 2009 the Lord revealed what He had here for me.  I was called as the worship pastor of Shelter Rock Church on Long Island.  I started a couple weeks ago and He’s already doing wonderful things.

So, here comes 2010.  I’m beginning to see that I need to stop making all these elaborate plans and just follow Jesus. The Spirit will order my steps.  He will lead me on a an adventure that I could never come up with on my own.

Lord, I give You 2010.  It is Yours, I am Yours.  I rejoice in Your presence and Your ways.

(Check out the archives for more details on all our happenings!)

Big News

Sent this out to the email list earlier..

Well, tomorrow it’s official: I’m the new worship pastor at Shelter Rock Church in Manhasset and Syosset, NY (Long Island).  The Lord has opened this door and Olivia and I are excited about following Him in this next season of our journey.

We’ll continue to live here in Manhattan for the time being and God blessed with a car for the next while so the commute will be a lot easier!

The job at the NFL was an amazing blessing.  I’m so grateful to my boss there.  Not to mention it was a pretty cool look into what goes on in a pretty popular sport :).

Thank you to everyone for praying.  There’s a new time of hard work and transition starting so I ask you to pray again.

Hopefully, you’ll get lots of new songs and you can also watch the services live here.

Hope you’re having a glorious holiday season so far.  God continues to lavish us with His incredible gifts.

Little Bit of Life

I hope everybody’s ready for a great weekend…I am!  This has been a long week…

Just wanted to update everybody on what’s going on these days and ask you for your prayers.

If you follow our journey, you know that I have been seeking a new position as a worship leader at a church.  While I’ve been waiting on the Lord, I’ve had a temp job at the NFL.  It’s been such a blessing and a lot of fun, but it’s coming to an end sometime in November, so I’ve been asking the Lord what’s next.

I’ve interviewed with a church in Long Island and am going to lead worship at one of their campuses this Sunday.  In addition to the possibility of the position, I’m also just excited about leading worship in a corporate setting…it’s been awhile.

There are a couple of other possibilities if it’s not the right place, but I would appreciate your prayers!

Olivia and I are also trying to decide whether to move closer to Midtown.  It’s a long commute to her current job (in which she was just promoted!!) and, if I get the LI position, I would need to be closer to Penn Station for the train.

This obviously involves moving (which is always a big deal) and paying more in rent.  So we’re just laying it all before the Lord.

He knows what we need long before we need it.  He knew about these situations before the foundation of the world.

So, thanks for reading (and listening:) and thank you for praying.

A Prayer for NYC

This year is the first year Olivia and I have lived in New York City on 9-11.  We lived in Boston when it happened in 2001, and came down several times over the next several months, but we’ve never been “New Yorkers” on an anniversary.  It was a crazy thought to think as I was getting on the Subway this morning, that that day started out normal for millions as well.

So today, as a new “New Yorker,” I want to offer a prayer for the City:

Lord, thank You for all You’ve done to heal hearts, minds, and bodies in the eight years since the attacks on New York City in 2001.  Thank You for Your mercy, Your compassion, and Your power to overcome evil with good.  I thank You that many have come to know You as they’ve sought answers to their questions.  I thank You that You are the answer to any question.  Thank You for bringing back this City to a place of prosperity and influence.  Thank You for the gifts You have blessed it with.  Thank You for people that recognize and honor those gifts.

God, I ask You to protect this place from another attack.  I ask You to foil any plans that the enemy may have.  Will You frustrate even the most cunning of masterminds?  They hold nothing on You and Your omniscient, omnipresent power.  You know everything.  Before a thought has been born You know it and I ask You to be the great defender of New York City.  David called You a Strong Tower and may the people look to You, and only You, as that refuge.

I pray for the Church of Your Son, Jesus, here in New York.  May there be a mighty revival of power here.  May the great cathedrals and churches be filled with Your Spirit in even greater portions than at their creation.  May they be filled with believers and seekers.  May the fire of Your presence consume all who call on Your name.  Bring about repentance from our evil ways.  May there be genuine sorrow and conviction for things in our lives and City that do not honor You.  May that repentance be met with a raining of mercy and forgiveness that only You could bring.  Bring revival to Your Church here, Jesus.  And bring an awakening to those who have yet to come to know You.  May Your workings and movement in this City be a testimony to America and to the world.

Thank You for Your unending, unfathomable love in the person of Jesus in whose name I offer this prayer.  Amen.