Tag: worship

Where Mountains Melt //
Series Recap

“The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth.” Psalm 97:5

Yesterday we wrapped up our worship series, Where Mountains Melt. Throughout our series, Lead Pastor Carl Gulley led us in talking about why we worship, how we worship and how to incorporate worship in to our daily lives.

TAKE A LOOK AT SOME OF OUR TAKEAWAYS FROM OUR SERIES //

  • Worship is what we’re always doing, whether we realize it or not, and it’s our response to the magnitude of God.
  • When we are facing the impossible, our immediate response should be to get in the presence of God. Worship is our gateway into His presence.
  • In the context of worship, and really life in general, multitasking does not work. Our worship was made for God, and God alone.
  • True worship is not a compartmentalized life; it is an integrated one. When we invite God into every area of our lives, we ultimately find freedom.
  • It is always right to worship, regardless of how we’re feeling. We were never designed to be authentic to our feelings. When we choose to allow our feelings to hold us back from worship, we aren’t living in authenticity.
  • When our circumstances are telling us otherwise, we have to go back to the character of God. We may not always feel like worshiping, but there is beauty in choosing to offer up a sacrifice of praise.
  • The goal of worship is not an expression, it is love and obedience toward Jesus. Spiritual maturity is not achieved once a particular worship expression occurs.
  • Our comfort should not be our standard for worship. We want our worship to reflect heaven, even if it feels out of our comfort zone.
  • Worship is not a single expression, it is a lifestyle.

We worship when we are obedient to what Jesus is calling us to. Whether it’s in the workplace or in the Auditorium on Sunday morning, we want our lives to be a reflection of our gratitude for being set free.

This past Sunday, we set aside time to worship for the entirety of our service. Because of the unique service, we will not have a sermon video from this week.

By Destiny Gonzalez – Assistant Communications Director

 

Where Mountains Melt //
Part Four

This morning Carl Gulley shared part four of our series, Where Mountains Melt, with a message on why we worship the way we do. Some people jump around during worship, others raise their hands and some people sit quietly before the Lord. Maybe you’ve wondered which expression is correct. The truth is, each posture is an expression of worship, and there is no right or wrong way to worship.

SPIRITUAL MATURITY IS NOT ACHIEVED ONCE A PARTICULAR WORSHIP EXPRESSION OCCURS.

The goal of worship is not an expression, it is love and obedience toward Jesus. Believing there is a “right way” to worship leads to arrogance, and ultimately takes us away from the point of worship. We don’t need a particular formula or certain instruments to worship, we just need a heart directed toward Jesus.

Throughout our morning, we looked at Exodus 14 and 15. In Exodus 14, the people of Israel are finally leaving Egypt after being enslaved for 400 years. As their enemies begin closing in on them, the Lord parts the Red Sea, allowing them to get to safety. Immediately after their escape, Exodus 15 begins with the Israelites offering up a song of praise to the Lord.

WHEN ENSLAVED PEOPLE GET SET FREE, THEY ACTIVELY DISPLAY THEIR GRATITUDE.

Exodus 15 doesn’t happen without the freedom that occurred in Exodus 14. Once the people of Israel stepped into freedom, their automatic response was worship. This is still our response today. Once we realize that worship is an expression of gratitude and not a particular stance, we become the worship leaders. We are all worship leaders because we have all encountered great grace.

WE WANT OUR WORSHIP TO REFLECT HEAVEN.

Our standard for worship should not be what we are comfortable with here on earth. Heaven is our model. This morning we looked at Revelation 5:8-13. In this passage, we find John’s count of worship in heaven. Some have instruments while others are kneeling, and others are singing their own song, but all are worshipping the Lord. There is no particular formula and there are no stages of worship that we have to go through, there is just our praise that we get to give back to Jesus. When we focus on Jesus, the fear of how we look in worship falls away.

WORSHIP IS NOT AN EXPRESSION, IT IS A LIFESTYLE.

We worship when we are obedient to what Jesus is calling us to. Whether it’s in the workplace or in the Auditorium on Sunday morning, we want our lives to be a reflection of our gratitude for being set free.

IN RESPONSE //

  • Worship is about love and obedience // Is there anything God is calling you to that haven’t responded to yet? Take that next step of obedience this week.
  • Set aside space to meet with God // Set aside time each day to spend time with Jesus. If this is new for you, we encourage you to join us on Monday at noon in the Kids Auditorium for a guided hour of spending time with God.

By Destiny Gonzalez – Assistant Communications Director

 

Where Mountains Melt //
Part Three

On Sunday lead pastor Carl Gulley shared part three of our series, Where Mountains Melt, with a message on choosing to worship even when you don’t feel like it. It is easy to worship when everything in life seems to be going great. Other times our circumstances can cause confusion, and hold us back from worship. Basically, we get spiritual motion sickness because everything is saying God is good, but circumstances are saying otherwise.

A CHANGE IN OUR CIRCUMSTANCES TENDS TO ROCK OUR FAITH.

We aren’t the only ones who are tempted to lose faith when our circumstances seem to be pointing to everything but Jesus. Throughout our morning, we looked at John the Baptist. In Matthew 11, John the Baptist is in prison and he asks Jesus, “Are you the One?” John spent his life preparing the way for Jesus, but in the place where he couldn’t see what God was doing, he began to question. I am sure we have all been in this position before. Jesus’ response to John is beautiful. He points John to what He is doing instead of what He isn’t.

When we are experiencing that spiritual motion sickness, there is a temptation to focus on what Jesus is not doing, rather than what He is.

WHEN OUR CIRCUMSTANCES ARE TELLING US OTHERWISE, WE HAVE TO GO BACK TO THE CHARACTER OF GOD.

The cure for motion sickness is allowing your mind to come back to what is correct. The same is true with that spiritual motion sickness. We have to come back to truth, and the truth is God is good.

This isn’t always easy, but there is beauty in choosing to offer up a sacrifice of praise. When we choose to worship even when we don’t feel like it, we declare the truth of who God is, and we allow that truth to sink deeper into our hearts.

WE WERE NEVER DESIGNED TO BE AUTHENTIC TO OUR FEELINGS.

When we choose to allow our feelings to hold us back from worship, we aren’t living in authenticity. It is authentic to align ourselves with what we know is true. And the only thing we know to be one hundred percent true is the character of God.

WORSHIP IS A SLEDGEHAMMER TO THE POWER OF DARKNESS.

Like we talked about during week one, worship is our gateway into the presence of God. And in that place, we find freedom, not only for ourselves, but for those around us. We are called to stand in the gap and invite others into the presence of God so they will find freedom.

It is always right to worship, regardless of how we’re feeling. All of our problems will not all disappear in an instant, but we’ll find the presence of God. And in that place, we find freedom.

IN RESPONSE //

  • Take some time to reflect on the character of God this week, and let the truth of who He is sink in. Start by googling who God is as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and reflect on those passages.

By Destiny Gonzalez – Assistant Communications Director

Where Mountains Melt //
Part Two

This morning Lead Pastor Carl Gulley continued our Where Mountains Melt series with a message on multitasking. Some of us tend to think we’re great at multitasking while others will freely admit to being bad at it. Regardless of what camp we’re in, the truth is that multitasking forces us to quickly switch our focus between tasks. We end up losing out because we can’t devote our full attention to any of the tasks before us. And in the context of worship, multitasking doesn’t work.

OUR WORSHIP WAS MADE FOR ONE.

Our worship was made for God alone. We each have things that we value, and whatever we value most will receive our worship. We can’t split our worship between things. Eventually, one thing will take precedence over the other. God placed a desire to worship within us, we can’t change that. But we can determine what or who we worship.

Now, it isn’t bad to have money, passions, dreams, etc. God provides those things for us out of His kindness. When we shift our worship to the things God provided rather than fixating our worship on the provider, we begin to exalt other things over God.

Throughout our morning, we looked at Exodus 32. In this passage, we find the Israelites who have just been set free from Egypt. For 56 days they are at a standstill, waiting to see what is next. Just like us, something within them had a desire to worship. So, out of the gold they got from Egypt they made a calf sculpture, and that became a focal point of their worship. As we continue to read the passage, we see that they are also planning a feast unto the Lord. They worshipped the calf, but they still wanted to worship God. Basically, they tried to compartmentalize and multitask.

TRUE WORSHIP IS NOT A COMPARTMENTALIZED LIFE, IT IS AN INTEGRATED ONE.

Like we talked about last week, we are always worshipping, whether we realize it or not. Many times we want to compartmentalize our lives. We separate God, our finances, relationships, time commitments, etc. God wants to be a part of all of these areas. When we keep things separated and shift our attention, we are also shifting our affection, and taking it away from God. God doesn’t want us to surrender these areas to Him so that He can control us, He invites us to surrender because in that place we find freedom.

THE THING THAT GETS OUR ATTENTION EVENTUALLY GETS OUR AFFECTION, AND ULTIMATELY OUR ALLEGIANCE.

God is continually pursuing us because He ultimately wants our affection. In fact, our personal affection, is the one thing we can give to God that no one else can. Our affection and our worship is the thing God wants most. He wants it; He doesn’t need it. There is a war going on for our worship. Satan needs worship because it affirms his downfall. God wants our worship because ultimately, He just wants us.

IN RESPONSE //

  • Identify areas where you have compartmentalized your life, and invite God into those areas.
  • Join us on Mondays at noon in the Kids Auditorium to learn practical ways to spend time with Jesus. And set aside time every day to meet with Jesus.
  • If you are looking for some new additions to add to your playlists, check out this playlist from our worship team.

By Destiny Gonzalez – Communications Coordinator

Where Mountains Melt //
Part One

The mountains melt like wax before the Lordbefore the Lord of all the earth.” – Psalm 97:5

This morning Lead Pastor Carl Gulley kicked off our new series, Where Mountains Melt. Over the course of the next few weeks, we will be taking a look at worship and what it looks like in our lives.

Many times we reduce worship to a set of three songs at the beginning of a service, but it’s actually so much more than that.

WORSHIP IS WHAT WE’RE DOING ALWAYS WHETHER WE KNOW IT OR NOT, AND IT’S OUR RESPONSE TO THE MAGNITUDE OF GOD, WHETHER WE REALIZE IT OR NOT.

This morning we looked at the story of Joshua preparing to lead the Israelites into the promised land after 40 years in the desert. Their first challenge is crossing the Jordan River. Joshua is facing the seemingly impossible, and as they prepare to cross the river he says, “as soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it” (Joshua 3:3). He sends the Levites, the worshippers, first.

THE LEVITES ARE GREAT WORSHIPPERS BECAUSE THEY’VE ENCOUNTERED GREAT GRACE.

The Levites understood the grace of God because God redeemed them from murderers to ministers. Our revelation of grace shifts our perspective of the impossible. For the Levites, the impossible was not crossing the Jordan River. God had already done the impossible when He forgave and cleansed them of their past sin. When we are facing the impossible, our first move should be to get in the presence of God.

Worship is out gateway into the presence of God. When we take God’s presence into the impossible, we can have confidence that He will take care of the rest.

IN RESPONSE:

  • Seven-day Challenge // This week, set aside time to meet with Jesus every day. Spending time with Jesus is a daily invitation into grace. If you aren’t sure where to start, we invite you to join us on Mondays from noon – 1 p.m. in the Kids Auditorium for guided Time with Jesus led by one of our pastors.
  • Spotify Playlists // Each week our worship team will be creating Spotify and YouTube playlists for you to use throughout the week. Check out this week’s playlist here!

By Destiny Gonzalez – Communications Staff

 

Five Ways to Incorporate Worship in Your Time with God

God is the same at church as He is at home. Yet, frequently I will hear people say that their worship at home just isn’t as powerful as it is at church.

HERE ARE FIVE TIPS TO HELP MAKE YOUR PERSONAL WORSHIP TIMES AS IMPACTFUL AS CORPORATE ONES:

1.Be intentional about what you worship to //

There are thousands of worship songs out there, and you aren’t going to know them all. Worshipping to songs that are unfamiliar is hard. Pick ones you know.

Personality and emotions play into how we worship. Be aware of your natural bent to a certain type of worship. It’s okay to worship to Hillsong Young & Free if you’re feeling a little happy, wild and crazy. But if your worship playlist is all high energy, party songs you might miss a place of intimacy with God. In contrast, if your playlist is all worship songs that make you cry, you won’t ever celebrate God in worship. Jesus is the fullness of happiness, joy, comfort, love and sympathy rolled into one person. The way we worship Him and the songs we choose should reflect all ends of the spectrum of His character. If you aren’t sure where to start, check out these Spotify playlists our worship department has created.

2.Remove distractions //

Whether you realize it or not, our Auditorium is set up in a way to direct our focus toward God. It’s probably not feasible to put giant projector screens on your home walls or have spotlights directed at the worship leader on your TV. However, you can take some practical steps to remain undistracted in worship. Start by putting the phone down. Don’t look at those emails and texts you missed last night – they can wait. Find somewhere you can be uninterrupted. Get away from the roommates, family members and other people who might distract you. Oh, and save the coffee for Bible time – it’s hard to sing with coffee in your mouth.

3.Lead yourself //

When JMG starts rocking out on his guitar on Sunday morning, we all know the presence of God is about to show up. Unfortunately, James Mark can’t show up to your home every morning, but we can all learn how to lead ourselves in worship. Leading yourself in worship is all about responding to what God is doing. One way to do this is to declare the truth of God or Scriptures that relate to what you are worshipping to. Take for example the song, History’s Anthem off the new AntiochLIVE album. The bridge says, “Your faithfulness is history’s anthem, Your constant love the song of creation.” Take a few moments to declare out loud ways that has been true in your life.

4.Be expressive //

God wants our whole heart, mind, soul and body. If one of these is left out, we’re missing out! If my heart, mind and soul are celebrating God, I shouldn’t cross my arms and put my pouty face on. In his book The Screwtape Letters, CS Lewis writes letters from the perspective of the demon Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood. In one of those letters Screwtape writes, “The more often he feels without acting, the less he will be able ever to act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel.”  If we feel the Holy Spirit prompting us to do something, we should do it. That could be bowing in reverence, dancing for joy or putting our hands up. Let’s not let fear of action numb our ability to feel.

The Hebrew words for worship often had actions built right into them. Here are a couple examples:

  • Yadah – to give thanks or worship with extended hands. This word is used 64 times in the Bible -most famously is in Psalm 100:4. Our thanks should be given with outstretched hands.
  • Hallal – to act wildly or crazy especially in praising or boasting. While this word isn’t used as frequently in the Bible it still shows us that even wild dancing and shouting can be considered worship.

5. Switch things up //

Habits can be a very good thing. However, habits can also lead to monotony, and God is anything but monotonous. Make intentional changes in your morning time with Jesus routine to keep experiencing freshness in your relationship.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Change your location. Don’t go to that same recliner with your guitar every morning. Try going outside or into a different room.
  • Don’t always put worship at the same spot in your time with Jesus. Do it first, after Bible reading or after prayer.
  • Try reading/meditating on the lyrics before listening to the song

Donald Miller wrote in Blue Like Jazz, “I don’t think there is any better worship than wonder.” However you choose to incorporate these tips into your everyday, remember God is a God worthy of our wonder. May we never lose our wonder.

By Nate Emerson – Worship Staff

Nate serves as the administrator for the worship department and plays keys for the worship team. 

Arms of My Father //
A Worship Devotional

I don’t know about you, but I hate failing. I don’t like disappointing people or having to confess when I have sinned. You know the feeling in the moment right after you fail? Guilt. Disappointment. Shame. The feeling that you let others, yourself or God down. For me this temptation creeps in – the need to prove my earnestness to live rightly. To set strict boundaries. To try to live extreme the other way in order to earn my way back into good graces.

THE SONG, ARMS OF MY FATHER SITS SQUARE IN THAT POST-SIN MOMENT FOR ME.

When I feel like I am so far away from God and I don’t deserve His love because of my own actions, in that moment the lyrics to the bridge come crashing in on me.

No veil stands between us.

No sin separates us.

I am Yours forever.

No more condemnation.

No more separation.

I am Yours forever.

I remember sitting at the baby grand piano in my home in one of those post-sin moments and singing this bridge over and over with tears streaming down my face. Truth started to sink in.

IT’S NOT UP TO ME TO PROVE MY WORTH.

I don’t need to fix myself or recoup what has been lost. God, my Father, is standing with arms wide open beckoning me to come close to Him again. This song is an invitation to allow the grace of God to be enough. For Him to come tear down our walls and simply receive His love.

IN RESPONSE:

Wherever you are right now, pause for a moment. Where are you trying to prove you are worthy of love and value? Allow the truth of the gospel to wash over you and set you free. NOTHING can separate you from the love of God today. God is not waiting for you to prove that you are worthy of His love. He freely lavishes it. And He is inviting you right now to come in close and simply receive His grace.

By Owen Wible – AntiochLIVE

History’s Anthem //
A Worship Devotional

It is always a surreal feeling when you hear about people encountering God through a song you helped create. It still blows me away. Somehow God, in His infinite wisdom, has wired us in such a way that even a simple melody can propel our hearts toward Him. Music moves us in a way that almost nothing else can.

But the song, History’s Anthem, is more than a melody –

IT’S A HEART CRY WE FIND THROUGHOUT THE BIBLE.

Let’s dive into the lyrics and explore what they say about our Father, His character and the praise process He invites us into on a daily basis.

There is an anthem, rising in our hearts

Born from our stories, Your presence through it all

A heart-cry of freedom, lifted up in praise

A song of redemption, in wonder of Your ways

We see the theme of this song right off the bat. It alludes to the natural, almost compulsive cry of thankfulness that rises up in the people of God when we pause and think about His faithfulness in our lives. We can’t help it. It’s our natural response. It’s what happens when we take time to remember.

Throughout the Old Testament, the people of God were instructed to pause and remember what God had done. Early on in the Bible we see Abraham and his descendants setting up memorial stones, or altars, as they traveled around the land of Canaan to help facilitate this process. These memorials served as physical reminders of powerful encounters the people had with God. When their descendants saw these stones, they remembered stories of God’s faithfulness (See Genesis 13, Genesis 28, Joshua 4 and Judges 6 for examples).

One of my favorite stories about a memorial stone is found in Joshua chapter 4. The Israelites had just crossed the Jordan river and stepped into the Promised Land. God had, for the second time, parted a large body of water so His people could walk into their inheritance on dry land. It was an absolute miracle! I’m sure the people were rushing forward into the Promised Land with some mixture of excitement and fear. Interestingly, Joshua immediately stops them, instructing a man from each of the twelve tribes to take a stone form the Jordan River and lay them together on the other side.

“When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you? Then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.” (Joshua 4:6-7)

IT IS RIGHT TO PAUSE AND REMEMBER.

The people of Israel regularly made time to do just that, whether it was through setting up altars, reciting their history around a table, engaging in festivals or even eating yearly feasts. Why? Because it was impossible to look at their history and not run smack into the faithfulness of God.

And I suspect the same can be said for each of our lives.

You have been faithful

You are always good

Your ways are constant

Your promises are sure

Even in fire You have never left us

Steadfast forever, You will never fail

This chorus is a simple declaration, inviting us to speak out loud what the Lord has done for us. It reminds me of what David says in the first few verses of Psalm 33 –

“Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise Him. Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to Him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully and shout for joy. For the Word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of His unfailing love.” Psalm 33:1-5

I love that this Psalm doesn’t allude to our feelings in any way. It simply says, “it is fitting for the upright to praise Him,” and to do so in an extravagant way. We can all choose to worship. I can say from personal experience; I don’t always feel like worshipping. But something funny happens once the declarations start rolling – it just gets easier and easier.

PRAISE BEGETS PRAISE. THANKFULNESS BEGETS THANKFULNESS.

It’s contagious. And it’s what our Father deserves.

I’ll follow You

With total abandon

I trust Your heart

You know where You’re leading

Your promise is the ground I will stand upon

To me, the bridge of this song culminates in the natural progression of the praise process. We spend the verse and chorus reminding ourselves of His faithfulness in our lives and choosing to declare His goodness out loud. We soon begin to realize, “Oh yeah! That’s right! He has been faithful to me. He has rescued me from the junk I couldn’t get out of. He has been extremely kind to me. He hasn’t failed me yet. Can you believe He has been this consistent?”

I CAN FEEL THE TRUTH SINKING IN AGAIN AS I WRITE THIS.

And our natural response to all of this thankfulness is to trust Him again. David says as much in Psalm 25:1-3 –

“To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in You I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. Indeed, none who wait for You shall ever be put to shame…”

David had been through some difficult stuff, but he chose to find and remember God’s faithfulness through it all. And this faithfulness compelled him to lift up his soul to God again, to find God as His source of trust.

Your faithfulness

Is History’s Anthem

Your constant love

The song of creation

Let Heaven shout

You will never fail

THE SAFEST PLACE WE CAN EVER BE IS FULLY SUBMITTED TO THE WILL OF GOD IN OUR LIVES.

Why? Because His track record is flawless. He has never failed in all of history. He is too good. His way is perfect. His plans are flawless. His faithfulness is sure.

All of creation testifies to this. Our own stories reflect it. And one day, we will join with all of heaven as we declare that truth together.

IN RESPONSE:

Take a moment to worship through History’s Anthem. As you do, try to follow this simple, four-step, praise process –

  1. Start by pausing and remembering. Remind yourself of His faithfulness. Bring it to mind.
  2. Begin to thank Him out loud for whatever you thought of. Even if you don’t feel like it or it doesn’t seem overly profound, begin to declare His goodness in whatever way you can.
  3. Now, from that place of gratitude, take a moment to surrender your life – even today and its complexities – to Him again.
  4. End by thanking Him for always being more than enough.

By Caleb Seibert – AntiochLIVE

Caleb is one of the song writers on AntiochLIVE’s new album, History’s Anthem. Originally from Waco, he is now attending school in Austin, and is a part of Antioch Austin. 

Song Story –
Almighty One

I’ve thought about how to approach writing this song story quite a few times now. The struggle of how to approach this somehow seems like it might feel more noble if it were because I had something complicated I was trying to say very precisely or something uniquely profound that I just didn’t quite know how to communicate.

Now, far be it from me to insinuate that something out of the book of Revelation isn’t uniquely profound, but to be perfectly honest I struggled with this song story mostly because I didn’t really feel like the story of this song had much to say.

We’ll come back to that initial thought here in a bit, but for now let me just say that if you’ve ever heard the song Almighty One and read the book of Revelation then you already have a pretty good idea what this song is all about.

In chapter 4, a chapter titled The Throne of Heaven, John describes four creatures in the throne room of heaven who endlessly declare, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty. Who was, and is, and is to come.” The scene is profound, startling, beautiful and an all-around fear of God kind of moment.

I remember when I first wrote the bridge of this song, it was a little different and a bit wordier back then. The cadence didn’t quite flow off the tongue quite as well as it does now, but the heart of it was the exact same.

I WANTED TO SING THE SONG OF HEAVEN.

I was enthralled by this idea of how the very throne room of heaven was and is worshiping God who appears like jasper and ruby, is encircled by a rainbow that shines like emerald, and is surrounded by flashes of lightening and rolls of thunder. I wanted our church to join in with the same words that are being said to God in the throne room of heaven. I wanted to join in with those same words.

As an artist, an artist who is a Christian and sometimes even a Christian artist, I hold to this belief that the art that I create has no reason to be anything other than excellent. Compromise is a something of a dirty word. If the art I create is inspired by and for the Creator of every last thing that is beautiful then how could I even begin to settle for anything less than impeccable? In a certain way of thinking using words that someone else wrote as the lyrics to a song seems like a bit of a shortcut, which you’d be able to argue toes a line very close to compromise.  I didn’t feel that way with this song though.

IF THOSE WORDS WERE GOOD ENOUGH TO BE SUNG IN THE THRONE ROOM, THEN SURELY THEY WERE GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME TO SING.

I’m particularly moved by the thought of singing along with heaven, worshiping an immeasurably powerful, unspeakably worthy God who deemed those words acceptable to be sung around his throne. For me it was enough to borrow from John and feel pretty fine about it.

So that’s how the song started, and I’d love to say that a few hours later it was finished. But nothing could be further from the truth. There were many moments during the writing of this song that I thought it wouldn’t actually ever get completed, that it would forever live as this little tune I’d written late one night in my living room. Truthfully, that would have been fine. There are lots of full songs, choruses, bridges, verses, etc. that will only ever live as melodies I sing by myself, alone, forget about and find months later in the voice memos app on my phone.

BUT I BELIEVE GOD HAD A BIGGER PLAN FOR THIS SONG.

Even though it took about a dozen or more writing sessions, four different verses, three different choruses and two versions of the bridge, all in various combinations, the song did eventually get finished.

Over the course of those writing sessions I remember saying over and over again things like, “I feel like this song is all about the bridge, if we can make the bridge work then we’ll have the song.”

I’m so thankful to have written this song with James Mark Gulley and Thomas Wilson, and I’m equally thankful that they share my incessant feelings about compromise. Multiple times throughout the creation of this song I thought we had something that we could put the “finished” stamp on. Then we’d rehearse it or play it in a service and one of them would come back to me and say something like, “I don’t know something just doesn’t feel right. I think we need to rework that.”

This song was a very long process. At one point or another, we each questioned whether or not the song would get finished.  But here we are today, the song finally has the “finished” stamp and I am truly proud of the effort that went into it so our church could join in with the song of heaven.

Now we’re back to where we started at the beginning of this post. A few days ago, I believed the story of this song was so simple it didn’t really seem worth telling. I wrote a version of this song at my house about worshiping like heaven. It was just OK. We wrote and wrote and wrote and finally here we are.

I’ve read a decent amount of song stories, particularly song stories for worship songs and sometimes it feels like these things have to self-contain a devotional worthy of your morning quiet time while trying to explain how the song came about. I was daunted by writing this because I didn’t feel like I had that.

Just like Almighty One though, sometimes it takes writing, and writing, and examining, and reworking to really mine out the heart of something.

SOMETIMES YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE MINING FOR AND SOMETIMES YOU FIND IT ONCE YOU GET THERE.

Writing songs for the church is an interesting thing. There’s a pressure to be profound, to write songs out of life-changing moments and the truth, at least for me, is simply that sometimes that’s just not the case. The original seed of a song that would eventually become Almighty One was very much a product of the mundane. Sometimes I sit with a guitar and try to put melody and words to the things I feel like the Lord puts on my heart. More than a year later, after much effort, the help of a dedicated community and choosing to believe that this thing the Lord had spoken was actually something valuable, what began as a product of the mundane the Lord turned into something beautiful.

In that way the story of this song comes into focus, and I can’t help but be reminded of Luke 16:10 –

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much…

Sometimes when I look back I’m able to see things that happened in my life with fresh perspective. Dots that previously seemed unrelated all of a sudden become connected in a way that declare the faithfulness of God that seems impossible to have missed.

Almighty One is a song  we fought for. There were times it seemed like it wouldn’t happen, but we pressed on. Just like He promised, the Lord was faithful in return. Thank You God for a promise of much when we’re faithful in the little. Thank You that You were faithful, You are faithful and You will be faithful.

Listen to Almighty One on AntiochLIVE’s new album, History’s Anthem

By Brooks Whitehurst – AntiochLIVE

God of the Breakthrough – A Worship Devotional

“I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in Him. Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with You; were I to speak and tell of Your deeds, they would be too many to declare.” Psalm 40: 1-5

We can all relate to the image of being trapped in a pit, helpless and hopeless. Life is full of difficult circumstances that are out of our hands.

THANKFULLY IT’S THERE, IN THE UNCONTROLLABLE CHAOS, THAT WE MEET THE GOD OF THE BREAKTHROUGH.

Our God is a miracle worker and a rescuer by nature. I wrote about this in the God of the Breakthrough song story, but here are just a few quick examples: He created everything from nothing (Genesis 1), delivered His people out of slavery in Egypt (Exodus 12), empowered David to defeat Goliath (1 Samuel 17), healed the sick (Matthew 8), calmed storms (Matthew 8) and raised Jesus from the dead (Matthew 28). He has always been a supernatural God who breaks through human impossibilities, and it’s still who He is today.

When we sing God of the Breakthrough we make a bold declaration about our need for a supernatural God. It’s not a song for the prideful, but for the humble—those who know their need.

HUMANS ARE FASCINATED BY MIRACLES, BUT WE DON’T WANT TO NEED A MIRACLE.

In fact, more times than not, I think we’d prefer to not need God at all. Needing God means trusting in someone else rather than ourselves. It means we aren’t in control. But as long as we live in this sin-tainted world, let’s face it—we’re going to find ourselves in circumstances that are totally out of our hands. And it’s in those moments where God breaks through and His glory shines brightest.

WHEN WE GIVE UP CONTROL, WE ALLOW GOD TO BE GOD.

Surrender is the most freeing place to be, because in surrender the world rests in God’s hands—not yours. Surrender brings peace, joy and life. Rather than obsessing over what could go wrong (which is what being a slave to fear looks like), you’re free to enjoy each day as it comes, leaving the ultimate outcome to God. This is what Jesus addressed in His sermon on the mount:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”  (Matthew 6:25-27)

Of course, unless we’re convinced of God’s goodness, we can’t fully surrender control to Him. But on the cross, God proved His character to us once and for all. It’s there that we see God’s ultimate breakthrough. It’s there that we learn how outrageously good God is.

“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32)

IN RESPONSE:

  • If it’s true that nothing is impossible for God, that He’s extravagantly good and that He’s on our side, why not give Him control? What if instead of dreading the challenges of life, we viewed each one as an invitation to behold God’s miracle-working power from a front row seat? What if we saw each mountain as a breakthrough waiting to happen?
  • It can be difficult to have this outlook on a life you can’t control. But perspective is based on what you meditate on; and ironically, that’s the one thing you actually can control. What is your thought life like? Are you mostly dwelling on the mountains of life? Or are you feeding your soul on God’s character?
  • Testimonies of what God has done are so incredibly important in the fight to maintain right perspective. I’ve begun a discipline of writing mine down, and I’d encourage you to do the same. Dwelling on God’s faithfulness in the past gives us hope for the future, and it shatters the discouragement that can so easily creep into our lives day by day.
  • So what area of life do you or someone you know need a breakthrough in? Put your trust in Him, as Psalm 40 says. Wait for His deliverance. Is there anything you’re holding onto for safety? Let it go. True safety is resting in God’s hands.
  • And in the waiting, let’s take time to meditate on the ways God has been faithful—not all the ways things could go wrong. We’ll probably find ourselves with a lot more peace and faith the next time a mountain appears.

By Thomas Wilson – Associate Worship Pastor