In-Ear Monitors and Leading Worship

It took me a long while to get used to playing/singing with in-ear monitors (IEM).  I’m sure part of it was my own slow adapting, but there’s still part of me that goes back and forth on their usefulness.  As a worship leader, I believe one of my jobs is to respond to what is happening among the worshippers I am leading.  The IEMs cut you off from hearing them.  Sure, you can have audience mics, but they’re never going to be anywhere near perfect and they are the first things that get cut in a “crisis” situation (you worship leader out there know what I mean).

I remember I was having a conversation with an experienced engineer and he told me that hearing the congregation was not important – that it did nothing more than to build up the leader’s ego.  I completely disagree!

There are not many greater privileges than hearing the people of God sing to Him.  To hear them cry out to Him.  It moves me and I believe it moves the heart of God (See Genesis 18:16-33 (Abraham); Exodus 32:7-14 (Moses)).  Why would I want to do anything that impedes this?

All this said, IEMs can be a good tool.  You can definitely hear yourself better and if you use click tracks or loops they are an absolute necessity.  They can truly improve some musicians’ playing and/or singing.  Wedges can make getting a good house mix difficult (especially with an inexperienced engineer) – I am well aware of this.  But, there is a lost art to getting a good wedge mix AND a good house mix.

A good balance is to use one ear.  You need to trade ears often as you don’t want them to wear unevenly :).  I know many don’t advocate this, but some find it to be a good compromise.

The key is not the choice between IEMs or wedges.  It is the worship leader/team’s ability to hear and respond to those they are leading.  That should have higher priority than the technology we use to hear ourselves.

Beloved

Olivia and I have been reading through Daniel the last couple of weeks and have been moved by his life and what God did through him and for him.  One thing that struck me was when the angels of the Lord came to him, they called him “greatly beloved” or “highly esteemed (NIV).”

To have Gabriel or Michael say this about you, to you, is mind and spirit blowing.

To hear that this is common knowledge in the heavenlies is beyond anything I could even write.

Daniel 9:23
“At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision…”
Daniel 10:11
And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling.
Daniel 10:19
And he said, “O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!” So when he spoke to me I was strengthened, and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”

This word “beloved” has begun to really impact me.  I was listening to a teaching yesterday and the speaker called the listeners “beloved” several times.  How amazing it is that the Church is Jesus’ beloved (Ephesians 5:25).  His desire and whole heart of love is for the Church.  For the Church of which I am a part.

I am His beloved.

Song of Solomon 2:16
My beloved is mine, and I am his.

You and I are the beloved of God…this is so undeserved, so extravagant, that all we can do is turn to Him and praise Him, fall on our faces and worship Him.

Play, sing, worship like someone who is the beloved of the Creator of the Universe!!

This is Good…

The Church must repent of its idolization of “cool,” in which we dishonor our parents, spite our brothers and sisters in the faith, and merely set ourselves up for the sins we perceive in them — appearing “of the times.”

Quote from Jared Wilson’s Blog.

Crying Out

worshipWhy are there so few opportunities to worship the Lord together?  It’s so wonderful, so amazing and makes us (hopefully) more like Jesus.  As we praise we are filled with more of the Holy Spirit.  He baptizes us anew.  We see more of His fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.  Who wouldn’t want more of that (especially those who live with us:)?

When I was in Illinois, there were two fellow staff members and a few others at the church that loved to get together informally and worship.  Usually around the piano and sometimes with a guitar we would just begin to sing and proclaim Scripture.  There were prayers for each other and various needs we were aware of.  We would cry out for God to move in the upcoming services.  Sometimes it could be dry and just us singing a few songs before we went about our day, but often it was so much more.

Many times we would sing, “I’m falling on my knees” from the song “Hungry” and everyone would be on their knees.  It wasn’t uncommon to glance over and see someone on their face, prostrate before the Lord.  We all looked for times when we could slip away and worship…it was such a delight to get in God’s presence and focus on Him.

So many amazing things were happening at the time in the church body and I believe this was a key to that.  People crying out to God for Him to make His presence known.

Sunday morning meetings are wonderful and I’ve known the presence of the Spirit in powerful ways during these times.  But there are so many other items that must be attended to (announcements, etc.).

I miss the fellowship and power of those intimate times with a few – two or three – singing and declaring the goodness of God.

With the current change in seasons I have a renewed longing for those times.  I long for the expectancy they produced.  Anything could happen – Jesus could do anything and He was doing it.

Lord, may it be so again in greater measure.

I’m Telling You…They’re Out There

Subway

Today the subway was packed with people. That’s not unusual in the mornings, but today was extra tight. I noticed a woman standing next to me reading the Bible and it got me thinking about how many people I see reading Scripture on the train. Of course, everyone’s usually doing something – reading, writing, listening to music – but there’s often someone reading the Bible.

So often we hear about how the Church is compacting and leaders ask the question, “Where are all the believers?”  While this is not necessarily a bad question to ask, God’s been showing me that He has believers everywhere.  Even in the darkest places His people are there.  They are praying.  They are seeking Him. They are the ones bringing the favor of God upon those places.  They are leading people out of the darkness.

What I’ve started doing when I see these people on the train is just praying for them.  Praying that God would show them something so incredible, so wonderful in that moment.  It’s the only place to start for my new brother or sister I didn’t know existed just minutes before.

Jesus is building His Church in the Earth.  Let’s look for each other.  Let’s encourage each other — even if we don’t always agree.  He’s worthy of that and so much more.

May we be His Body:

And God placed all things under his (Christ’s) feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. – Ephesians 1:22-23

This will be a light week on the blog as I’m preparing to lead worship at Shelter Rock Church this weekend and Olivia and I are answering the question, “To move or not to move…”

Stand Up Among Us

youtube sessions

Jesus told us that where two or three are gathered in His name He would be there. The problem is, most of the time we make Him sit in the back while we do our thing. This is a prayer that He would “stand up among us.”

That we would sit before Him while He reveals His power, His grace, His love, Himself.

Much thanks to my father-in-law, Keith Curlee, for teaching me this!

Download here.  Play here:[audio:http://benwardmusic.com/wp-content/uploads/Stand-Up-Among-Us.mp3|titles=Stand Up Among Us|artists=Ben Ward]

Stand Up Among Us

We’re dry inside these walls of pride
Without You we’re empty
We’re thirsty from our vain pursuits
We long to drink of You
The weight of our sin presses down upon us
Driving us to our knees
We call out to You our God, Redeemer
Blessed is He who brings us peace

Stand up among us
Make Your presence known
Rise up within us
Set Your people free
In Your presence is where we need to be

To the fatherless be a Father, Lord
Show Your compassion
To the prisoner and the captive
Bring Your release
To those who cry out for Your mercy
That always seems out of reach
Holy Spirit come in power
Ignite our passion to believe

Stand up among us
Make Your presence known
Rise up within us
Set Your people free
In Your presence is where we want to be

The Lord is clothed in beauty and power
No one is like Him, He is great

Stand up among us
Make Your presence known
Rise up within us
Set Your people free
In Your presence is where we’re going to be
In Your presence is where I will be