I started out just leading a small youth band on wednesday nights in my youth group. I think i was in the tenth grade. It was awesome. Everyone wanted to be in a band. Looking back I remember listening to bands like Jimmy Eat World, RelientK, Switchfoot, Jimmy Eat World, The Juliana Theory, some Jimmy Eat World. They were, and still are, on the top of my list. (side note: jimmy eat world is coming out with a new album very soon and I am stoked about it!) Also, when punk was alive, I remember a certain band, Inspection 12, coming out with an album my 10th grade year: Get Rad. I listened that album to death. Occasionally i will still jam it. I used to be more into punk rock than I am now. I actually went to the Warped Tour one year with my friend Douglas Couey. I thought I would be cool and join the mosh-pit at the mxpx show (they were the cat's meow if you know what I'm screamin). I remember seeing a guy get punched in the back really hard by someone who was slam dancing her way through the crowd. Thats right, I said her! The guy fell to the ground, got up and left the area. Thats when I knew I was idiot and i never wanted to be that guy. But I. Love. Music. Its always been my thing. The music itself can speak volumes and with added words and melodies you have a message that can be moving and thought provoking. Why not direct that toward the God of the universe? Even in the tenth grade I wanted so bad to do that somehow.
When I got my first guitar I think i may have been in the eighth grade. The Ibanez Performance Acoustic! Oh Yeah! I learned on my own. Taught myself the simple chords with simple progressions and my friend Doug, the one I went to the show with when I saw that dude get punched by that girl, would learn them with me. It wasnt too long and I really had the hang of it. I could be wrong on this date but I think it was my ninth grade summer. We went to Cocoa Beach Florida for youth camp. It was awesome! The Hilton Hotel, on the beach, with all my friends. Worshipping God was a part of it but I was still pretty immature back then. Still am I guess. We had so much fun. On one of the final nights there, there was a talent show. So, myself and all my talented friends got up and did a rendition of "Chick Magnet" by mxpx and called it "cool spirit." Doug wrote it and sang it. It was SICK! I believe we got a standing ovation. Tyler Sowers played the electric guitar, Marcus McLeod played the bass, Adam Shaw played the drums, Doug sang and danced I guess, and me, well I just kind of stood there and shook a shaker. Bring on the shaker! We were called "Cross-Eyed Salmon." What a name! We went back and actually thought we would be a worship band. It was short lived with Doug. But myself, Sowers, Adam, and a new guy named Scott Mihalik, playing the bass, stayed with it. I started to sing and I bought a cheap Ibanez electric starter guitar from a guy who went to school with Sowers. To complete my setup I bought a Line 6 Spider II 75 watt amp. I was ballin! We jammed out! I remember going to Scott's house right after school and playing until we werent aloud to play anymore. He had this pretty sweet barn in his backyard where we played. It was a really nice place to play now that I think about it.
I began to grow in my relationship with God. I started diving into the Word like it was meant to be soaked in. I loved people. I loved church. I loved going to our wednesday night services. I especially loved playing music. Worship music was all I really played. I remember very specifically practicing for something we were going to play. I think we were called Next to James now. Both Sowers and I were playing electric. He had just gotten a new Gibson Hawk, an amazing guitar. He was better than me so he played lead and sang back up and I played rhythm and sang lead. We were in the barn, blaring our amps, thats the only true way to do it, and singing Tomlin's version of "Wonderful Cross." I remember being so caught up in the words and message of that song. I can remember looking at the rest of the band and experiencing an amazing worship moment there. I dont know about the rest of them, but I was struck by the power of the cross...during practice! It was an awesome time. I dont want to say that was my starting point, but it was a very clear moment in my mind when I knew that I wanted other people to experience the grace of God in a song while singing and worshipping Him.
There is more than one way to worship. Music is not the main or only end. Use your life, what you love, what you think, what you do and direct it towards our God. God has truly blessed me with a talent to play music. He knew during the phases of my musical development what I would be doing during this chapter in my life- leading worship at westside baptist church. So be it, Lord. I am truly thankful for the privilege and blessing of serving there. Will it be what I do forever? probably not, but I am growing where I am planted. However, my hope is to never base my worship on a status or position in a church. May it always be to and for Him alone. Being lead by the power of the Spirit is the aim of any movement that may happen. This may happen in a worship service or in your everyday life, but know that the power that raised Christ from the dead is in us. Its longing for us and directing us to the One who is worthy of our praise. Our God is jealous. Why? Because He Loves! And wants no other god, whatever it may be, to capture you. Why? Because those gods can give nothing back! God, Jesus, The Word, Hosanna, Messiah, Yeshua, Yahweh is the only one that will give and love and redeem and restore and make clean! That is why I worship! That is why I lead worship! I want others to know about my God and His worth-ness. Music is how I minister. The band, orchestra, soloist, whoever, presents the message clearly, often not so clear, and your response is not toward them, but toward Him. The music used should be the music of today and the music of yesterday. I say that generally speaking. Old and new. And as music develops into something else, something new, I believe God will want that directed toward Him as well. He made music. He created everything and he holds it all together. Its our heart pointed as we play and sing that makes Him dance over us. It in Jesus' name I play. Amen