Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me

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“Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.” I haven’t thought about this hymn for a long time, but God brought it to mind today. It was written in 1926 by a Presbyterian music minister from North Carolina who attended a revival in Orlando. Hearing a sermon on the Holy Spirit, he found his way to a church there and wrote the song while that church’s organist transcribed the music. The song immediately found its way into worship services across the country.

It’s a big prayer to pray: “melt me, mold me.” That involves surrendering our whole selves to the purpose of God and allowing the Holy Spirit to reshape our lives in God’s perfect image. It’s something we must go back to frequently, as the process isn’t ever complete (not in this life anyway). The second part “fill me, use me” is also a big prayer, and one that God loves. And when He answers, it often looks different than what we expected, but if we follow through in obedience, we always see that His plans are so much better and full than our own. God CAN use you, and He isn’t looking for perfect people before He does. Instead, He desires people who surrender all and say “melt me, mold me.” Come with obedience and sacrifice, and let the Holy Spirit equip you for the task ahead.

A video posted by Wes Pickering (@wespickering) on

Devotional on Acts 3:19 – Compassion, healing, and forgiveness of sin.

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Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus, who has been appointed for you as the Messiah.
— Acts 3:19

This was Peter’s message to a crowd that had gathered to see the lame man who had been healed: that faith in Jesus, the same Jesus who had just given a man new, healthy legs was the very same thing needed for eternal life. It’s a reflection of what Jesus did in Matthew 9:

For which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—then He told the paralytic, “Get up, pick up your mat, and go home.” And he got up and went home. When the crowds saw this, they were awestruck and gave glory to God who had given such authority to men.

It’s not any easier to talk about forgiving sins today that it was back when Jesus did it or when Peter did it. Our pride makes us cringe when we hear preachers start to talk about sin. But there’s no malice or condemnation in Peter’s words. On the contrary, he wants the crowd that gathered to experience the same miraculous results of faith that the healed man did, for in Jesus we find life and wholeness. It isn’t a message from somebody on a judgmental high-horse but somebody whose compassion leads them to care deeply about the people around him.

After all, having experienced healing and life, why wouldn’t you invite the people you love and care about into it as well?

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Devotional for the song “You Love Your Creation”

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Aren’t five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. Indeed, the hairs of your head are all counted. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows!

– Luke 12:6-7

I’m always blown away when I read that verse.  It’s not just the sheer mathematics of it either, although God’s capacity to know the tiniest detail of everything that has ever existed is enough to make your head spin!  What really strikes me about this verse is that God cares so deeply, despite knowing us so intimately.

I wanted to write a song that really celebrates how much God loves each of us personally.  He knows everything about you, you have zero secrets from Him; yet he loves you so much that He would have sent his son Jesus to die for our sins, even if you were the one who ever made a mistake.  It’s true!

What man among you, who has 100 sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the 99 in the open field and go after the lost one until he finds it? When he has found it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders,  and coming home, he calls his friends and neighbors together, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep!’ I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who don’t need repentance.

– Luke 15:4-7

These are Jesus’s words, not mine.

So, what’s the appropriate response to such a massive and unwarranted Love?  First, I think it compels us to give what we have back to Jesus.  It’s not much, far less that He deserves, but God tells us that He wants us to love Him, so let’s love Him back to the best of our ability!

Secondly, even though it’s weird at times to say, “Jesus loves me,” when we really start to process what that means, it should fill us with tremendous confidence.  He’s on my side! Just like the sparrow, I don’t have to worry.  The God of the universe is taking care of me!

And again, I think that kind of love is something we should celebrate.  God loves me! He created me and he loves me, in spite of all my flaws, despite knowing every detail of every cell in my being.  What else can we do but shout it from the rooftops?


“You Love Your Creation” is from the album Recreated. If you don’t already have a copy…

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New Living Room Session video for “Beautiful God”

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Here’s the second installment in the Recreated Living Room Sessions: “Beautiful God.”  If you’d like to know the story behind the song, check that out over here.

If you missed the first Living Room Session for the song “Recreated”, you can watch that over here.

Click here to buy the album Recreated

Thanks so much for listening.

until next time,

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P. S. Don’t forget to share the video with your friends.  Sharing is caring 😉

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Devotional for the song “Beautiful God”

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I wrote “Beautiful God” with my friend James Tealy (who’s actually my neighbor down the street).  James is an incredibly songwriter and a gifted worship leader who leads the congregation at Redemption City in Franklin, TN every weekend.  When he and I get together to write, as worship leaders, very often we’re trying to find ways to connect our congregation’s to what God has been doing in our church services.  In writing “Beautiful God” we wanted to find words for those special moments that sometimes happen in a worship service where God’s presence feels almost tangible and all we can do is acknowledge Him and worship Him.

Entering into God’s presence can be a vulnerable moment. It’s only natural that when faced with God’s infinite goodness and perfection, we’re confronted by all of our mistakes, sins, and shortcomings. But the great news is that through Jesus Christ, we can be counted as righteous before God.  Check out what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:21:

 He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Through His sacrifice, we get to enjoy the the same eternal life that came bursting forth from the tomb. God gave us one of the best pictures of this that we get to participate in through baptism.

Thinking about baptism and this song, I’m reminded of this moment that happened on my and Hannah’s wedding day, right before the wedding ceremony started.  I was standing back stage with Pastor Dan Scott while all of my groomsmen were busy seating guests, and my best man Josh Wilson was walking my grandmother down the aisle.  I was beginning to feel nervous and to break the silence, I asked my pastor, “Do you have any last minute advice for me?”

Pastor Dan paused, looked at me thoughtfully, and said, “Well, you have no idea what you’re doing!”

I was dumbfounded!  That was not the answer I was expecting.  But Pastor Dan smiled, seeing the look on my face, and he continued, “Right now, you have no way of knowing what’s about to happen to you, and that’s okay. This is so much more than a contract between you and another person.  This is a holy matrimony.  You and Hannah are about to enter into a covenant before God and with God.  He’s going to bind your lives together in a very real and supernatural way, and you won’t be able to understand it.  You’ll catch glimpses of it along the way over the years as you look back over your shoulder at how far God has led you.  You’ll be able to see that He intertwined your lives together in an inseparable way that only He can do.”

In many ways, I think baptism is one of those kinds of moments. On the one hand, it’s definitely a powerful symbol of how we join Jesus in his death, burial and resurrection, and it’s a part of our public profession of faith, but I think it’s also somehow more to it than that.  I think that God chooses that moment to do something transformative in our hearts.  It’s not that there’s anything about the water that saves us, but I think God takes that act of obedience and uses it to do something supernatural and unexplainable in our hearts. Baptism creates both a practical and spiritual land mark that we can look back on for the rest of our lives and say, “From this point forward, I’m going to live a resurrected life with Jesus!”

My hope and prayer for the this song is that it can sung by churches all over the country and the world, acknowledging God’s presence, and acknowledging his miraculous grace that enables us to rest in his presence without guilt or shame.  Through Jesus’s death and resurrection, we have been made us righteous, and now we can rest confidently in his presence and worship him for the magnificent, Beautiful God He is.

Click here to buy the song “Beautiful God”

 

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10 Things Every Worship Leader Should Do Before the Service

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There’ a simple pre-flight checklist that I try my best to go through every time I lead worship.  None of these things are all that complicated, but it helps each service go smoothly and minimizes distractions.  Ultimately, as worship leaders, our job is to connect the congregation to the heart of God, and the more we can do to minimize ourselves and maximize our focus on Jesus, the better.

  1. Memorize your lyrics and chords.

    We live in an age of prompters and confidence monitors.  These should not be a crutch. You shouldn’t be reading the lyrics to the songs during the service, and you shouldn’t be lost in your chart while trying to lead the congregation.  These things take time, and it’s time you’ll have to put in throughout the week before you arrive at your church.  Glancing down at your chords or lyrics for reference during the music set is fine, but you should always be comfortable stepping away from those things.  It’s almost impossible to engage your church body when your eyes are glued elsewhere.

  2. Warm up your voice.

    Unfortunately, worship leaders often have the disadvantage of singing first thing in the morning, which is almost never the best time to sing.  Take some time before the service and before the rehearsal to warm your voice up.  There are lots of great exercises out there to help you.  Sometimes I use the ones from this video.  Sometimes, I just sing scales. Sometimes I pick just the lower verses from a song on the setlist and just sing those.  But don’t start singing cold.

  3. Drink water.  Coffee is not enough!

    Your voice is controlled by muscles, and like any muscle, it needs to be properly hydrated in order to function at its best.  It’s better to drink room temperature water as cold water can actually shock your vocal cords into tightening back up again. Coffee doesn’t hydrate you adequately.  You might need it to wake up, but drink water to wake up your voice.

  4. Check in with the person running lyrics. 

    If you’re running lyrics on a screen somewhere during the service, make sure you check in with the person who is running the computer during the service.  Try to have the lyrics as close to being in order as possible, including copying/pasting the choruses as many times as your going to sing them.  This doesn’t mean that there can’t be spontaneity or flexibility during the service, but you should always be as prepared as possible on the front end.  Not having the lyrics available or having the wrong lyrics on screen is always distracting for the congregation, and you definitely want to minimize that.

  5. Tell your team members how much you appreciate them.

    Most of your worship team are likely volunteers who freely give their time, and they should know that you’re grateful for the work they put in.  A simple, “Thank you so much for serving with me today,” can go a very long way towards building your team and pointing them to Jesus. Sometimes, it’s good to do even more than that.  Consider writing a Thank You card to one member of your team each week or a $5 Starbucks card.  Let your team know that you love them and that their efforts are appreciated.

  6. Pray with your entire team.

    This includes the media folks, the sound engineer, lighting, camera operators, and musicians.  All of them have devoted the time to be there, and you’re all a part of the same team with the same mission.  Take the time to ask if anyone has any specific prayer needs.  Be personal with your team.  Be compassionate with them.  Pray God’s richness over their lives. Give thanks to God for them.

  7. Pray for your congregation.

    We never know what kinds of needs, situations, and desperations are going to walk through the door.  Pray that God will prepare the hearts of those about to attend the service, that he would begin to soften their hearts to His voice and His presence.  Pray for salvation, for changed lives, for altered destinies.

  8. Pray for your pastor.

    Whether or not you’re physically with him when you do it, cover your pastor with prayer.  Pray that your pastor will be able to effectively teach, discern, and communicate. Pray for your pastor’s family.  Pray for encouragement, inspiration, and boldness.   Pray that God will use the sermon to plant seeds in your congregation’s hearts and that those seeds would grow into rich, beautiful harvest.

  9. Consciously set aside your personal distractions and focus on Jesus.

    Worship leaders are people too.  We have crazy lives, crazy families, crazy jobs.  But the worship service isn’t the best place to ponder the week you just had or what you’re facing in the week ahead.  The worship service is time to focus on the goodness of God.  Remember, ultimately, we worship God because of who he is, because he deserves it!  He deserves our full attention, our full energy.  If you’ve got something pressing on your heart that you can’t shake, pull a member of your pastoral team or an elder aside and ask for prayer.  Orient your heart towards Christ so that you can help point others to Him as well.

  10. Tune your instrument.

    This is especially important for my fellow guitar players out there.  Tuning your guitar mid-service is distracting to both you and the congregation.  If you have to tune during the service, you want it to be minimal adjustments, so make sure you’re whole instrument is in tune right before the service starts. Don’t assume that because it was in tune during practice, it’ll be in tune during the service.  This should be the very last thing you do before every service.  If you don’t already own a good tuner, do yourself (and your congregation) a favor and get one!

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New Living Room Session video for “Recreated”

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I spent this week recording an acoustic version of “Recreated” in our home in Nashville.  My wife graciously let me turn our living room into a recording studio, and we captured the process on video as we recorded.

Check it out!

Recreated Living Room Session

If you want to know the story behind the song the song “Recreated” click here.

Click here to buy the album Recreated

I hope you enjoyed watching this as much as I enjoyed making it!  As always, I appreciate it every time you help spread the word about my music by sharing it on Facebook and other social media.

grace and peace,

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Devotional for the song “Recreated”

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When I started writing the song “Recreated,” I kept thinking about that moment in Genesis, at the start of everything, where there was darkness, no light, no life, just a blank canvas for the Creator.  And then, all the sudden, there was this explosion of light and color and life! And all of it happened because God spoke it into existence.

I see the same thing mirrored in the New Testament recreation of those who put their faith in Jesus.  Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.”

You see, throughout his letters to the Church, Paul reminds us that before Christ, we were dead in our sins, but through His resurrecting power, we can be made fully alive again.  At the moment of our surrender, we’re no longer bound by what we used to be.  As Christians, we don’t find our identity in our sins, in our failures, or in all of the times we let down the people we care about.  Instead, we have a new identity and a new destiny.

Recreated-Lyric-Gif-600

Paul reminded the Church in Romans that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is now living inside of us through the Holy Spirit.  For the first time, we actually have the authority and power to resist sin and turn away from it.  We’re no longer held in condemnation for those failures, but instead, we’re free to walk in the life of Christ.  We don’t have to live by the obligations of sin any longer.

At the moment of surrender, Jesus takes what was us and makes it a blank canvas. We get to move forward in a completely new life.  That doesn’t mean that we always get everything right.  We’re not perfect. In a way, we’re like Lazarus from the Bible.  When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and called him out of the tomb, Lazarus came forward but he was still bound up in his grave clothes. Then Jesus tells Lazarus’s family to help him out of those grave clothes.

When we surrender our lives to Christ, we sometimes still find ourselves bound by the trappings of death. Sometimes we still have the smell of the grave on us.  But through the Holy Spirit we can walk a little straighter and a little stronger each day. Sometimes we stumble and fall, and sometimes it takes the community of the Church to help us unwrap our grave clothes, but the good news is that we’re 100% alive!

This is the essence of the Gospel, the good news that the Church needs to share with the world! Once we’re in Christ, we don’t have to be the same person we once were.  We’re no longer identified by our sins. Instead, our identity is now in Jesus himself. We are fully alive, fully recreated!

Click here to buy the album Recreated.

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