Worship Pastor / Composer Travis L. Boyd and his wife, Cynthia, provide inspiration and resources for the worship community and all believers through sharing the blessings of worship, faith, family, ministry, music, love, & life. We also share information about Worship Sounds Music, which can be found on our Worship Sounds website at worshipsounds.com ~ Downloadable Choral Anthems * Solos * Orchestrations * Worship Songs * Accompaniment Trax

Posts tagged ‘purpose’

Mud Pies and Ministry

Picture this scenario:
A small child has the exciting opportunity to play in the mud.  He has all the tools that he needs to accomplish this task.  He has his hands to shape and form the mud, his feet to make footprints and splash and squish, some pebbles, wildflowers, and sticks for decoration, and his imagination to pretend that the mud is a giant lake of chocolate pudding or that the mud monster is lurking in the depths below.  Most importantly, the child has something else.  He has a passion for mud play.  He enjoys it thoroughly.  He abandons any concerns about staying clean or messing up anything and just uses his ‘tools’ to have fun in the mud.  He becomes an expert at mud play.

Then, the child has an idea.  The joy of playing in the mud reminds him of all of the other joys in life.  He realizes that he has had a lot of joyful times and times of being loved and cared for because of someone very special.  He decides that he must do somethiing in his own childish way to say “thank you” to his parent (or parents) and to express the love that he feels.   He doesn’t have much to work with; but he has become a mud play expert.  The child uses the tools he has been given to fashion a message in mud.  He creates the most beautiful mud pie that his little hands can form and carefully places pebbles and flowers on top to decorate it.  Now, he is ready to present his mud pie to the recipient (s).

The mud pie is formed of the most elemental substance and is clearly not edible and not even something that can become a keepsake; and yet, it is special.  It is special not because of the recipe used to make it or the skill of the mud pie maker.  It is special because it expresses something that a small child may possess but may have a hard time articulating:  a thankful and loving heart.  Both the heart of the giver and the heart of the recipient of the gift are important, for both are equally involved in the importance of the moment.  It is the love of these two for each other that gives the mud pie its importance.

  For a moment in time, the child has taken what was available to him or her and has used it to create something that becomes an expression of love for a parent, thankfulness for the joys of life, and the recognition of the blessings of giving.  The parent or parents have in turn accepted the gift and found their hearts touched by this loving and pure gesture from the heart of their child.  At that moment, the mud pie is a symbol of their very real connection and loving bond, which is the true gift for both parties. 

What do mud pies have to do with ministry? 

Quite a lot, actually.   When it comes to our relationship with God, we are His children.  We are the ones who long to express what is in our hearts through taking what it available to us, doing our best to make it into something as beautiful and excellent as possible, and hoping that God will overlook the imperfections and accept our offering.  We have a passion for using the gifts and abilities we’ve been given to create something that pleases Him! 

At this point, we need to keep several things in mind about our “mud pies.”

First, God looks upon the heart.
It is the heart of the giver that is so much more important than the gift itself.  While it is important to do our best and strive for an excellent love offering of the bits and pieces that make up our lives, we must not get so wrapped up in the excellence of the gift that we begin to forget the source of everything used to create it.  If the gift of the moment is a song, remember that God not only invented music, but He also gave us the capability to produce and to hear a range of musical pitch that allows us to use this gift.  He gives us life and breath and musical abilities and this moment in time to share the song.  We cannot be wrapped up in what we have been able to accomplish when we remember that God has given every part of what makes it possible for us to take all those hours of practice and learning and share a song with some level of skill and artistry.  He gave the very hours that we used to practice and learn and refine our skills, and He gave the abilities that were developed in the process.  All of the elements used to create and refine whatever our gift and calling may be in order to bring glory to God come from Him to us and then through us back to Him.   These blessings of time and abilities and purpose in our lives all flow from God’s ultimate gift:  His desire for relationship with us and His willingness to sacrifice everything in order to make that happen.
The gift of the song (or whatever the gift may be) is a moment in time, a temporal expression of love and gratitude to our eternal God.  It is a small child holding up a mud pie to the One who made both the mud and the child.

Secondly. all that we give back to the Lord will pass away except that which bears fruit for His Kingdom. 
There will be a new heaven and new earth, a new body, and a new song.  The only things we can do that will last are expressions of love and gratitude that God can use to impact the lives of others and turn their hearts toward Him.   And even then, it is His Spirit that brings the eternal value to the gift.  Without His Spirit indwelling us and speaking God’s love and mercy through us and through our gifts, the most excellent expressions of love and gratitude of which we were capable would only be a moment in time.  Trophies and sculptures, paintings, buildings and inventions, books and blogs, a clean home, strong relationships, a job well done….these are all gifts that can be an expression of love and thankfulness to our God,  seeking to bring Him glory.   But the eternal fruit can only come by His Spirit, and everything else is a mud pie moment in time.

Finally, it is within the process of the doing and the striving and the seeking and the becoming that God can show Himself strong in our lives.
The presentation of the gift that is the fruit of your abilities and labors is secondary to God.  More important to Him is that we are pressing toward the mark of the high calling…becoming like Christ.  Likewise, to the earthly parent, the sweetness of the mud pie moment lies in what it says about who this child is becoming…someone capable of thankfulness and of love….someone who longs to express these and finds a way to do so.  To God, our mud pie gifts are meaningless without the heart attitude that He desires in all of His children.  His word makes it clear that he could cause the rocks to give Him praise.  We must not become too focused on the vehicle of our praise (the use of our abilities and skills in presenting to God any gifts that we prepare for Him through our lives).  Instead, our focus needs to be upon the Object of our praise…..our awesome and loving God and our victorious Savior. 

In ministry, we often focus on plans and programs, goals, and ideas.  Yet, we must remember that it is the ongoing process of becoming like Christ that is the ultimate gift to our God.  With lifelong preparation and refinement by God’s Holy Spirit at work within us, our lives become a Kingdom gift that has eternal significance.  We have taken God’s best gifts to us:  His love, mercy, and grace, His forgiveness, His Son, His Life within us, His presence, His Spirit, His Word….and allowed these to transform us into the image of our Lord, which is our ultimate gift back to Him.  All other gifts pale in comparison to a beautiful and eternally changed life..

So, when the process or the preparation in our service to the Lord becomes a priority above our relationship with Him, we must remember that without the work of God’s Spirit, this gift or service to Him is just a mud pie.   Our intentions can be honorable in that we genuinely want to make a difference for the Lord.  However, our very busy-ness can distract us from the primary priority of relationship with the Lord.  Only His work in our lives transforms us into the image of His Son and allows whatever we do to make a greater spiritual impact.  Without staying in fellowship with God and allowing His Spirit to work through us, our efforts become a mud pie moment in time and nothing more.

May God help us to focus on lasting expressions of His love in our lives that He can use through the work of His Holy Spirit to touch the world with the eternal Hope of His Salvation!

“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”    John 1:4

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This post was written by C. Boyd

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For additional posts about the giving of our lives and all of our abilities and efforts to the Lord, be sure to view our posts entitled:

Music is a gift…Worship the Giver!

And

Worship…it’s all about Giving!

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Do you know someone who is looking for answers?

Thank you for spending your valuable time reading the contents of this page.  We hope that it has been helpful to you.   If you or someone that you know is looking for answers about life, we hope that you will visit our page called “Do You Know Jesus?”.   The links provided on this page will help to answer life’s deepest questions.   Here is the link to “Do You Know Jesus?”:  http://www.worshipsounds.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/

Please feel free to share this URL with anyone who is looking for answers about life and eternity.

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Music is a gift…Worship the Giver!

Music is a gift…Worship the Giver!

The picture of a musician bowing at the cross with his guitar is a reminder to us.  God gives gifts and abilities, but our lives are never about these gifts.  We can enjoy them, and we can use them for God’s glory; but what counts in our lives is ultimately that which cannot be seen.  God looks upon our hearts.  He knows our desires, our priorities, our needs, our hurts, our struggles, and our focus.  He knows how much we truly love Him and desire to give Him glory.  He knows our moments of purest devotion and the moments when we can’t seem to keep our minds from wandering.  He knows how much our God-given gifts and talents can become a part of what we and others view as our identitiy.  But, once again, when God looks at us, He just sees our hearts.  He could have chosen any gift or ability to give to us.  Would our fundamental identity have been changed if he had given us a different set of abilities?  What if we lose our abilities at some point in life?  Does God see us as less valuable or less able to bring Him glory?

God is the giver.  In His wisdom, He chooses to give gifts, talents, and abilities to each person He has formed within the womb.  He chooses the person…He chooses the gifts….He chooses our time and place.  The very fact that God chooses all of these things makes them important.  He has invested Himself in each of us as He was creating and forming who we would be.  And yet, the Bible makes it clear that the most important thing that God sees when He looks upon us is our hearts.

It is good to use the gifts and talents God gives.  He wants us to use them and even expects it.  He wants us to develop our skills and abilities and to become the best we can be.  He wants us to experience joy and delight in using our gifts and in the journey toward using them with skill and excellence.  However, in all of our striving, let us never forget that He sees our hearts.  In Him, there is the freedom to let go of the results of our efforts.  Ribbons and trophies, certificates and compliments, honors and publicity…. these are all the fleeting types of recognition that we give to one another to recognize a job well done.  None of them matters as much as knowing that we have done our absolute best to honor God.  We were not in control of which gifts we were given, but we can give them back to Him by surrendering them to His care.  Just as Jesus surrendered His earthly life, we can allow God to make our lives (including the moments that we have honored God in using the gifts that we have been given) have eternal significance by giving them back to him in daily surrender.   If we love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength and do our best with the gifts we have been given, we are fulfilling Gods’ purpose in a way that far exceeds any earthly accolades.

In addition to the gifts, talents, and abilities we receive from the Lord, there is a very important element that should be present in our lives in order to allow us to use what God has given us.  This crucial element is passion!  There are people who could be phenomenal athletes, singers, poets, writers, artists, musicians, business owners, teachers, politicians, or whatever.  However, if an individual does not possess a passion for a field of endeavor, they will never do much more than dabble in it.  For example, there are people who are sitting in the pews of every church who could really be an asset as a teacher, serving on a committee, or serving in worship ministry.  However, they either are going through a season of life that prevents their service (such as caring for a loved one who is ill), or they have not yet deepened their relationship with the Lord enough to see the need for serving Him through their church, or they are specifically called to service in a para-church organization, such as a ministry to battered women, or they simply do not have the passion for a particular area of ministry that would be called for in order to maintain a commitment to serve. 

It is very important that Christians who serve and seek to bring glory to God in any kind of ministry or in any vocation first have a sense of calling to that vocation or ministry area.  Secondly, individuals who seek to glorify God through their lives and their service must have a knowledge that God has equipped them in some way through the giving of gifts and talents, which they have then developed through study, practice, the investment of their time, and taking advantage of growth opportunities such as classes, conferences and mentorship.  Finally, the third requirement for lifestyle service and ministry is to have a deep sense of passion and commitment to excellence as well as faithfulness in that area of service or career.  For many people, the passion is not the problem.  Passion is definitely present in their lives for the areas in which they feel they have been gifted for a vocational or ministry calling.  Passion is a wonderful and necessary element in using our gifts, talents, and abilities.  However, we must remember that the key to balance and to keeping a proper perspective is the knowledge that the most important thing is always what is in our hearts.  Gifts, talents, abilities, a sense of calling, and a passion for excellence in serving are all blessings from God; but they are not what God values most.   With whatever we have been given, we must love the Lord with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength and seek to honor and bring glory to Him. 

Be thankful for the gifts, and worship the Giver!

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”   James 1:17

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.”   John 3:16

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Post written by C. Boyd

Note:  If this post seems familiar,  you may have seen it posted as a featured article on The Worship Community .com (filed in their “Worship Leadership” category).  It can be found there at this link:
http://www.theworshipcommunity.com/music-is-a-gift-worship-the-giver/

The article can also be found on the Worship the Rock website (worship leader forum and social network) on Travis L. Boyd’s blog, along with several other re-blogged posts from our Worshp Sounds Music blog.
http://www.worshiptherock.com/profiles/blogs/music-is-a-gift-worship-the-giver

The post was also recommended in “Weekend Links” by Worship Links in October of 2014.
http://www.worshiplinks.us/2014/10/weekend-links-80/

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ADDITIONAL POSTS ABOUT WORSHIP:

Worship:  Definitions and Quotations

Worship ABC’s

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Do you know Jesus?

The decision to ask Jesus to come into your heart and life as your Lord and Savior is the best decision you could ever make!  The one true God is ready to give you forgiveness and eternal life as soon as you understand your need for Him and believe on the name of His only Son, Jesus, for your salvation.  Here’s a blog page link to help you find the answers to your questions about Jesus.  http://www.worshipsounds.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/

Attention, Please! It’s a wake up call!

Every day is a new beginning!

What gets your attention?  Sometimes events or messages from others that take us by surprise can be heavenly wake-up calls.  After we recover from the shock of finding out that things were not as we thought them to be, such a wake up call can be a very good thing.  We are forced to re-evaluate and to move forward with a truer perspective, often requiring positive change or increased diligence on our part.

All of us have ‘blind spots’ in our lives.  Often, these are areas of endeavor that seem to be going well.  We’ve been working and striving, thinking that we are doing our best.  Then, along comes something that rocks our world.  It could be something that we observe, something that someone says or does, a scripture that speaks to our hearts, or just a stunning realization that there is much more to be done.  While we’ve always known that there is more, perhaps we may not have realized how much more.  Or, perhaps we’ve thought that we are making good progress.  A new level of awareness can be a shocking wake-up call.  Whether the area of concern is relationships, parenting and preparing our children for life beyond home, something related to work, an area where self-improvement is needed, or an area of spiritual discipleship or discipline that is not where it should be, we must suddenly re-evaluate and re-prioritize in order to address this need which has come to our attention.  It’s a ‘front and center’ moment of time when we realize that we must step up to a new level of effort, of competence, or of intentional focus.  While being confronted with addressing the need at a new tier of possibilities and priorities may at first seem dauntingly impossible, unfair, or even hurtful, it’s actually a very good thing to have an aha! moment.  It is these times of keen awareness that help us move forward from the place we thought we had reached to a higher mountaintop beyond our range of vision.  Sometimes we can’t see the end (or the top), and we don’t know how to get there.  The alternative is to stay where we are, put our blinders back on, and bumble forward in the hope that somehow everything will be alright.  We may be very close to the edge of a precipice of mediocrity without realizing the danger.  When it comes to fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives, the precipice of mediocrity is not somewhere that He is willing to let us stay.

What to do then?

It’s time for some fresh perspective.  It’s time for us to take a new look at every area of life, but this time we’ll need some help with our blind spots.   First, we must we willing to lay down our blinders.  We must let go of our ideas about where we are and where we need to be in our walk with the Lord and in every area of life.  The wake-up call that we received, in whatever form it came, was a blessing in disguise.  It allows us to have a new beginning.  In order to move forward with the Lord in any changes that we need to make, we first need to spend time in prayer and wait on the Lord to reveal His direction in every area.  He will guide us if we trust Him to take us from right where we are and move us to where we need to be.  Often, our way forward is one day at a time, one step at a time, one moment at a time.  We are not paralyzed as we move forward.  We are taking steps of faith with great hope because we trust that God will cause all things to work together for good.  (Romans 8:28)  We must move forward in doing what we know to do.  If there have been areas of complacency in our lives, our work, or our calling to serve the Lord, we know that we must move toward re-connecting with God’s heart of compassion, His purpose, and His urgent call to our hearts, “Redeem the time!”

In Music and Worship ministry, as in any area of life, our positions of leadership carry great responsibility.  We must stop making excuses and begin again to use all of the resources that we have been given to passionately declare the love and mercy of our God.  Most of our brothers and sisters in the congregation will only awake to their own passion for following the Lord when they see that passion in their leadership and recognize that the time is short, the laborers are few, and the need is great!   What kind of impact can we make in our world?  We have so much more to work with that the small band of disciples that watched Jesus ascend to Heaven after they had been given their “marching orders.”  (Matthew 28:18 – 20)  Perhaps we have some problems with our technical equipment, some personnel shortages, inadequacies with our buildings, tight budgets, scheduling issues, and attitudes to overcome.  We’ll never do the work of the Kingdom as long as we allow these issues to get the better of our enthusisam or to zap our zeal for the Lord and for serving Him.  (Just say ‘no’ to zeal zappers!)  So, we must get busy with the resources we’ve been given!   We’ve had our wake-up call.  God has gotten our attention, but He wants more.  He wants our hearts, our minds, our souls, and our strength!  We can’t just watch a downhill slide anymore!  It’s time to start pushing back the tide, pushing forward, and doing what we are called to do.  He will meet us where we are and be there each step of the way!

Dear Lord, in every area of my life, You have a plan.  I praise You, O Lord.  Your steadfast love endures forever!  Your wisdom is unsearchable.  Your goodness is absolute.  Your mercies are new every morning!  You are the God of restoration and redemption.  Lord, take my life, my feeble efforts, my pre-conceptions, and my responsibilities.  Take it all.  Make it Yours.  Help me to continue to lay it all down everyday, knowing that only You can carry Your purpose forward in my life.  Where I have messed up, help me make it right.  Where I have fallen short, show me how to make up the difference with Your help.  Where my vision has failed, give me Yours.  Where my hopes have died, restore them.  Where hurts have crippled or confused me, shine Your healing light.  Touch my heart with your compassion and mercy.  Help me to see every person through Your eyes.  Restore the joy of my salvation and the zeal of fresh commitment.  Give me a heart that thirsts for You.  Remove the sickness of complacency from my life.  Make me new, Lord.  I love you.  In the name of my precious Savior, Jesus,….Amen.

For more perspective and inspiration on living a life of intentionally seeking to bring God glory in every moment, see our post entitled “Lifestyle Worship.”   Blessings to you as you move forward in your walk with the Lord and seek His purpose in every area of life!

C. Boyd

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Do you know Jesus? 

The decision to ask Jesus to come into your heart and life as your Lord and Savior is the best decision you could ever make!  The one true God is ready to give you forgiveness and eternal life as soon as you understand your need for Him and believe on the name of His only Son, Jesus, for your salvation.  Here’s a blog page link to help you find the answers to your questions about Jesus.  http://www.worshipsounds.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/

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