Posts Tagged ‘worship leader’

Even the Angels Weep, Christian Holiday, Good ...

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Easter is a powerful season that shows how God can turn death into life. Jesus Himself said it at the Last Supper in Luke 22:20, “After supper he took another cup of wine and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.'” Jesus proceeded to the cross, shed His blood and died, but death couldn’t hold him down! Since He is the truth, the way and the life, death had nothing on Him, and through Him, death has nothing on us! The end of His earthly life was just the beginning of our heavenly one.

I love the thought that if you had been the only human alive, Jesus would have gone to the cross to bring you back. That is His heart for you. We are dead without Him. Our endeavors, careers, entertainment, relationships, parenting, religion, accomplishments and even our charity are nothing but filthy rags without Him. Everything we are and do is dead, because we didn’t conquer death. He did.

We were created to live. Whatever seems dead in your life now, there is hope and there is life in Him. When Jesus went to the cross and said, “It is finished”, He abolished death. I mean He killed it! If He is able to raise us from the dead, how much more able is he to take your broken dreams and replace them with ones that are full of life and bring you new life in the process? This is why our strength can be renewed and we can look forward to our future trusting Him. His power is unlimited, His love is eternal, and He showed it by dying for each and every one of us.

When we grasp the fullness of who Jesus is and what He offers, our lives change. We go from death to life, from selfishness to love, from fear to trust, from taking to giving, from flying solo to community. Jesus might have died, but by rising from the dead, His sacrifice is now the greatest gift of all – life to all who are thirsty for it. Happy Easter.

Chris Martin of Coldplay playing piano at a co...

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On this one I wanted to blog about secular music that has elements of worship in it. Don’t get me wrong, I think all music and art worships something, that part of us is the very place where we connect with the supernatural, but generally speaking worldly music worships the very wrong things. I once heard pastor Jack Hayford quoted as saying, “There is no Christian or secular music, there’s only music of light and of darkness.” I think it’s a great comment and certainly a conversation starter, possibly a heated one at it, too! Here’s a couple of examples of secular music that for some reason draw me closer to God…

An example of a song with something divine in it is “Fix You” by Coldplay. When I hear it, the organ just gets me, and as Chris Martin sings the lyric, I sense a longing in my heart that in my saved state makes me reach towards God. That’s an interesting point on its own. What does an unsaved person reach for and what does he or she get out of the song? Judging by the live version that came out on their free live album a few months ago, people did get something great out of it, as they drowned out the band in concert while belting it out!

To me a secular song with a worshipful element might invoke God’s beauty, grace or other element that moves me towards Him. Band in question: Sigur Rós. I heard them for the first time a couple of years ago, then their album “Takk” came out, and it blew me away. How was it possible that a little band from Iceland could write songs with such beauty and in Icelandic (or Hopelandic, their own invented language)? Maybe it helped me to experience God through their music, as lyrics couldn’t get in the way of sensing Him through the songs. Even though the band is very secular, which is evident in their videos, comments and lifestyle choices, their music captures something divine. It’s undeniable to me.

We are all familiar with U2 and the worshipfulness of some of their songs. “Walk On” from their live DVD ended with Hallelujah-choruses, so it’s hard not to make the connection, and Bono quoting Psalm 40 in concert brought tears to my eyes. Is it possible that God uses these things to reach people to Himself? Absolutely. He is never limited to the boxes we put him into. Still, we can’t assume that He’s everywhere and in everything, that’s obvious. I do believe that He still expresses Himself through more ways than we think. See, you recognize a believer by the fruit in his life, but you can definitely recognize God in more than just inside the walls of the Christian music industry…

As we embrace the artist within us, we are getting in touch with our Creator, whether we acknowledge Him or not. When we start using our talents He has given us, the same happens. It blows my mind that God is so loving. Despite our decision to reject Him, He still allows us to reach into the gifts and talents He has given us and use them however we want to. I, for one, will continue to keep my ears open to finding Him in the most unexpected places!

I know, you’ve heard those words a thousand times. But if you think God is somehow limited to only embracing the white, the black, the successful, the talented, the well-off, the super spiritual, the holy, the pious, etc. you have to watch this. If you don’t, watch it anyway, it will bless you and challenge you incredibly. The song is “God of the Moon and Stars” by Kees Kraayenoord, a Dutch worship leader. Hope it shakes you as it did me. Now let’s get our churches to understand this…

Yesterday was our 12th anniversary. Man, 12th… Rarely do you realize how fast time flies until it is gone. It has been an amazing ride. After getting married in Finland on August 15th, 1998, we moved to California the very next month. It has affected our marriage in many ways, as we haven’t had family close and are only able to see some of them, and only once or twice a year. It has made our marriage stronger, as we’ve had to make things work in a new country by the two of us. I remember struggling through the legal immigration process – for the first years Uncle Sam basically wanted me here working and paying taxes, while my wife would have had to wait in Finland for 3.5 years, and all this in the very beginning of our marriage! It seems to be easier to move here illegally than legally. There’s definitely something wrong with that picture…

During the years, I’ve worked and led worship, written worship songs, and seen my wife turn from a fresh immigrant to an incredible mom of two and a part-time working dietitian with a degree from Cal State LA. I am so proud of her, as she worked the 4AM shift at Starbucks to pay for her tuition and books! Both of our kids (Miro, now 4, and Tea, now 1,5) were born here at a hospital just a quarter mile away from our place. They are such a joy in our lives and make our family complete! I watch my wife take care of them with such love, and it fills my heart with joy.

When I was younger, I remember thinking that marriage and kids weren’t for me. Then I met God and my future wife, and they changed everything. God helped me drop all the insane ideas I had about life and marriage, and my wife made it really easy to propose – she is hot!  😀  Today, after 12 years, I honestly think that God created us all for marriage and for relationships, because they make us better people. In my marriage, I get blessed, challenged, stretched and nurtured in ways that I never did in my single years. I am having the greatest adventure of my life, and after 12 years, I am still madly in love with my wife!

Having moved here from Finland, the promised land of vacations, I’ve really learned to appreciate the three-day weekends like this one! Gotta love it – if the holiday doesn’t fall on Friday or Monday, they just carve out the extra day to make it a long weekend! I wish it would work in the church, too, since we will of course be worshiping Sunday morning like always! Fortunately it is so much fun that it doesn’t feel like work anyway!

And the weekend is full of worship. I led at Celebrate Recovery on Friday night and again at church Sunday morning. Independence Day makes it special, it’s very cool to acknowledge that we live in a land where we’re free to get together and worship. It’s very different even from Finland, where believers are usually looked down at. They’re “weird,” “foolish” etc., and the judgment is passed immediately. It’s been a real joy to show our friends what real faith looks like, we’ve stayed friends with many people from high school and even earlier…

When it comes to worship, it’s interesting to marry music & Independence Day together. As a worship leader, it’s about the songs and the greetings, comments, prayers and so on. What I love about church today is that it’s not overly churchy or Christianese, it is real and straightforward. It’s about what God means to our independence – on a personal level I never had any before I met Him! I was so bogged down by what others did or thought of me that I didn’t have freedom. Now the only question is what God thinks, and He appreciates me much more than I do! Same applies to all of us, we often think way too little of ourselves while God sees our potential and has plans that are way bigger, wilder and more amazing than we can imagine. As I keep moving towards my new season as a worship pastor, I get blown away again and again at how much bigger His thoughts are than mine. Because of His faith in me, I can trust Him and also believe in myself, as long as I keep leaning into Him. That’s real independence!

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I’m Petri, a believer in Jesus, worship leader, husband, father, guitar player, and worship songwriter. I’ve been a thousand things before, but the further I’ve lived, the clearer it has become that this is really me, and life is exciting!

It’s great to start a new web site! WAITING FOR DAYBREAK is a community about God, the worship arts, worship songwriting, life, the world and the church, guitars and gear, and some family stuff to boot! The concept of WFD comes from Romans 13:11-12 (MSG):

“But make sure that you don’t get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing.”

It is about living with Jesus daily, being real and relevant, authentic and honest, living our faith connected to our culture and shining a light. It’s about grace over law, love over hate, and Christ over all. Comments are welcome, but please make sure they fit the above statement. I wish I would have started ages ago, it will be awesome to share life
with you and see what God does!

Wish me luck, because I need to carve out some time to get it done! To take off some of the pressure, I love the Twitter widget – makes life quick & simple!