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BEHIND THE WORSHIP - Misty Edwards

Misty Edwards: Writing With the Holy Spirit

As a leader at the International House of Prayer, Misty Edwards is charged with staffing and encouraging those involved with the 24-7 prayer room. “Keeping it going ... is a lot of work,” she says. “It’s the primary place I pour out my energy.”

But despite the demands, Edwards  is  able to write songs and lead worship because of the Holy Spirit, whom she calls “my closest friend.” 

“Worship-leading and songwriting with Him is exhilarating,” she says. “When we pray and sing the Scripture, He actually teaches us—often through our own lips.” read more

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BEHIND THE WORSHIP - Paul Baloche

Paul Baloche on ‘Open the Eyes of My Heart’

From Africa to Azerbaijan, that song has somehow gotten into people’s hearts and languages. Just that simple prayer: “Open the eyes of my heart.” 

It was one of those phrases that a pastor friend of mine would pray before he would preach, and ... I would take that phrase and just sing it over and over again. I thought, “Man, this is something we need to sing [as a congregation]. We should get another section to this.” 

I looked in the Word and saw, “high and lifted up.” [The other phrase] is from Ephesians chapter 1. And then the song just came together naturally.

People ask me, “Do you ever get tired of singing it?’ And honestly I don’t. It’s like, “Do you ever get tired of praying the Lord’s Prayer?” Repetition isn’t a bad thing.

Songwriting has actually been a helpful exercise for my spiritual life because I’m able to prayerfully construct a musical prayer that others can join in with me. You take a profound truth that you hear on a Sunday morning and you just explore that [in a song]. The Bible says, “Pray without ceasing,” and to me, songwriting has always been a way to carry that out. read more

BTW-Maher

BEHIND THE WORSHIP - Matt Maher

Matt Maher on ‘Christ Has Risen’

“Christ Has Risen” was inspired by a third-century sermon by John Chrysostom. The concept is very simple: God used death to destroy death. He didn’t even have to lift a finger. He literally tricked death into destroying itself; Jesus used the process of death to completely eradicate it. So now it just becomes a process of transformation, and death is a window or a doorway. 

It became this chorus: “Christ has risen from the dead, trampling over death by death.” I wrote it and then Mia Fieldes from Hillsong helped finish it. 

I love to read works by theologians. Saint Augustine, John Chrysostom, Henri Nouwen and C.S. Lewis are some of my favorites. At the time I wrote this song, it was my goal that the record would have a theme, that it would be a record someone could listen to from start to finish and have been taken on a journey—the journey of transformation because of what Christ has done for us. 

The reality is that the conception, birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ is a journey that, if we allow it, takes place in our hearts every year, every day and, if we let it, every moment. read more

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BEHIND THE WORSHIP -Paul Wilbur

Paul Wilbur: Persistent Messianic Worship

It’s difficult to stop Paul Wilbur once he puts his mind to something. When he became a Christian—a shocking conversion given his Jewish background and family’s lack of interest in religion—his brother stopped talking to him. 

Wilbur’s response after years of trying to re-establish their relationship? He bought the house next door.

Today the two ride motorcycles together.  read more

BTW-Auge

BEHIND THE WORSHIP - Joel Augé

Joel Augé: When Facebook, Family & Worship Merge

Joel Augé is a busy guy. His website features tweets about innovation and hockey, book recommendations, photographs of his daughter and—seemingly as an afterthought—a small picture of a CD, suggesting he makes music. Yet Augé, CEO of a Canadian gaming company called HitGrab (the developer of MouseHunt, one of Facebook’s most popular games), doesn’t find his roles as worship leader, family man and “company vision guy” as all that different. 

“Worship is an act of responding to what God has already done for us. It’s no different at work. I feel I’m constantly responding to how God is moving our business forward,” Augé says. “My act of worship at work is being a good steward of this opportunity.” 

Raised Catholic, Augé once thought of becoming a priest, but that was before puberty and girls. After some wild times, which included dropping out of high school and moving (alone) to Newfoundland, Canada, Augé had a born-again experience and started writing Christian songs. Today he takes something Paul Baloche, his friend and mentor, teaches to heart: be ready for inspiration.  

And just because it seems as if he has it all under control doesn’t mean he does. “My song ‘Promises’ … was [written] before our daughter was born,” Augé recalls. “I had no idea how to be a dad. I was afraid—terrified actually. It was then that I heard the Holy Spirit calm me down with these words, ‘I will never leave or forsake you; you belong to Me.’” read more

BTW-Houghton

BEHIND THE WORSHIP - Israel Houghton

Israel Houghton: A ‘Friend of God ‘

 

During an annual retreat with his worship team, Israel Houghton stumbled upon—or was given—one of his best-known worship songs. 

“This guy was walking us through a lesson,” Houghton recalls, “and he handed out a sheet with all these promises of God: ‘Nothing will separate us from the love of God,’ ‘We are more than conquerors.’ And then three-quarters down the page it says, ‘I am a friend of God.’ He says, ‘Everyone, circle one promise that stands out to you.’ I circled the phrase, ‘Friend of God.’ When asked why I chose it, I just started crying.” read more

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BEHIND THE WORSHIP - Rebecca St. James

Rebecca St. James on ‘Song of Love’

“Song of Love” has been used in a lot of churches for corporate worship. The thing that was most powerful for me was hearing it for the very first time in my own home church in Franklin, Tenn., where our praise and worship team did the song often. To hear it being sung by the congregation of familiar faces around me was a very beautiful and memorable moment for me as a writer.

One of the most powerful things that can happen in ministry is hearing other people using your songs to worship God. To know that a song has been birthed from my own personal relationship in encountering God, and that now other people are encountering Him too through the same words and music I’ve written, is a very profound experience to me.

I’m a real nature person; I love being outdoors and seeing God’s creativity all around me. That really draws my heart instantly toward worship. 

That sense of God in the vastness of His great universe of creation that we see all around us was really the inspiration for this song and what it expresses. The lyric line, “The heavens declare You are God” is a very real biblical truth that is ever-present in my mind. read more

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BEHIND THE WORSHIP - Don Potter

Don Potter: Talking to God in Worship

Don Potter had heard the admonition to “seek God’s face” before, yet like many, it left him feeling perplexed. One day while seeking the Lord in the cabin where he was staying, he looked out an upstairs window. “The sky was clear and blue ... and just then I cried out, ‘Lord, I don’t know how to seek Your face—show me Your face!’ When I looked up there was a cloud right outside the same window ... perfectly shaped like a human eye and looking right at me. I stared for a moment and then fell on my face. When I got up, I started writing this song [called ‘Show Me Your Face’].”

Potter waited a year before he sang the song in public; that’s how intimate the experience felt and how concerned he was about “offending my King.” However, that sort of Spirit-filled experience isn’t uncommon for Potter, a musician and producer who, in addition to leading worship at churches around the country, also works with country stars such as Wynonna Judd.

“(As I’m leading worship) I try to hear the heart of people,” Potter says. “I then try and sing that to God as I believe I’m hearing it. After a bit, God will sometimes want to say something back, and I will try my best to repeat the words I hear. Praise-leading is really not leading at all, but offering yourself as a conduit for God to have a conversation with [people].” read more

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BEHIND THE WORSHIP - Martha Munizzi

Martha Munizzi on ‘Because of Who You Are’

To have a song that’s had that kind of life and longevity is incredible. When I wrote it my kids were young and everyone was getting ready for bed, and I just had a moment to reflect and watch my kids play. Suddenly I started singing the chorus part: “Because of who You are.” I kept it to myself and would sing it around the house, but then I thought, “Because of who You are, I give You glory, I give You praise” ... but who is the “You”? I started looking up the names of God: You are my Jehovah Jireh, my provider—all of the different names for God.

I’ve found that songs about God to God are the songs that people gravitate to; they’re the songs that literally change the worship time because it’s suddenly not about me, it’s about Him and it’s directed to Him. It’s rallying all of us to sing of His greatness. Those are just the best songs, but they’re not easy to write, and when I’m writing I have to remember that. read more

Christian Billionaire Pledges to Donate Half His Wealth

What does David Green have in common with Warren Buffet, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, and Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg? First, they are all billionaires. Second, they are all giving away half their wealth to charity.

The CEO of Hobby Lobby, Green, a devout Christian, is among a growing list of billionaires who have pledged to give away most of their money. Green and his wife, Barbara, are officially part of The Giving Pledge, an effort to invite the wealthiest individuals and families in America to commit to giving the majority of their wealth to the philanthropic causes and charitable organizations of their choice either during their lifetime or after their death.

“Coming from a family of preachers, the idea of giving back has been part of my life as long as I can remember,” Green wrote in his pledge letter. “My parents and their parents before them were what some would consider poor, but they gave back whenever they could whether through small contributions of money, or through acts of kindness,” God has blessed me with a wonderful family, a successful business and outstanding employees. I do not take these blessings lightly.”

When Hobby Lobby was created in the early 1970s, Green says he was committed to use his profits to help ministry work. He says knew from an early age that ministry work, at least in the sense of preaching from a pulpit, was not his calling. But, he adds, he also knew that God gifted him with a mind for understanding business, and that gift would allow him to carry out God’s work through contributions to great missions throughout the world.

“We honor the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles. From helping orphanages in faraway lands to helping ministries in America, Hobby Lobby has always been a tool for the Lord’s work,” Green wrote, pointing to a verse in 2 Corinthians that says, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work…You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”

What's your take on wealth? Did Green make the right move? read more

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