There were just SO many good things about it that I literally am having trouble figuring out where to start. The praise? The praise sessions were incredible. One thousand musical people just singing their hearts out to the Lord, led by incredibly talented musicians. The messages? I felt like each of them was perfectly prepared in the perfect order for me to hear and to grow. (Well, I kinda was zoning out during the last one. I was kinda tired.) The seminars were amazing, seeing Abe and Lil was awesome, hanging with Danny and Nelson was awesome...yeah. It was awesome.
I'm on an incredible high right now. It's kinda scary, since I know that feelings can only carry you so long. And I'm preparing for the inevitable backlash. Already, I feel like I'm being attacked pretty hard. But I'm going to ride this train till it runs out of rail.
Anyway, I thought I'd start writing about things that I learned at the conference in chronological order just to ensure that they get written down somewhere.
The first message of the conference was entitled: "Faithful to Receive." Honestly, I hadn't really prepared for this conference at all, so I didn't really have any idea what to expect. I think I had a vague idea that I would watch the Sovereign Grace folk do their thing, and doing so would magically turn me into a better piano player for God.
So this message was EXACTLY what I needed to hear. Craig Cabaness taught from John 4, which is kind of a standard passage for most messages teaching about worship. This is where Jesus gives that famous statements that "the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth." There's been many, many sermons spoken and books written about what this statement exactly means.
Craig didn't go into it much at all. He focused on the next clause: "...for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him." The main point is that worship is always a response to God. In his words: "True worship emerges from God's pursuit of us, nor from our pursuit of Him. We are first and foremost recipients, not contributors!"
And in two sentences, Craig dissolved my entire agenda in coming to the conference. I wasn't there to try to learn some secret chord in order to praise the Lord better as a contributor. I was there to remember that no matter where I am in a musical worship session, whether I am in the congregation or behind a piano, I come first as a sinner before God. I first come to receive grace from God, not to contribute something of worth to Him.
So simple...and exactly what I needed to hear.
Some more points:
- It's funny how we humans tend to find our identity in what we do. When I introduce myself, I almost always say that I am a computer programmer. If I don't say it, someone will ask me what I do. What I do seems to be so entwined with who I am. In the olden days, it was such a part of you that is became your name: that's why we have all the Bakers and Smiths in the world.
Not so with the Christian. We're tempted to identify ourselves as "worship leader", or "pastor", or "dude who plays piano." But we are Christians, not because we do anything, but because we were saved by God. Being a Christian has absolutely NOTHING to do with what we do.
- In order to lead others in focusing on God, we must first focus on what we have received from Christ.
- As musicians, it's so tempting to want to be fresh and new. But we are not called to be original. Worship never originates with us. It's not that we can't be creative or anything. But freshness in worship comes from fresh looks at Jesus, not from ourselves.
Wow. And that was just one session. Guess I'll have to keep writing these.