How to Get What You Really Want

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

I’ve read a lot of self-help books lately. Taken at face value, each author has figured out how to make at least their first million and they’ve filled these books with the principles, rules, and magic steps I should take to make mine. Sadly, I still haven’t figured out how to be as successful as they are, but I ate Chinese today and my fortune cookie said I was getting close.

People often ask me, “What do you really want?”

In those moments, I imagine beauty contestants answering that inane question with “world peace.” Most of the time I’m just as clueless as they are about what I really want, especially when it comes to what I want that I could actually get. No offense to the beauty queens, but they’re not getting world peace anytime soon.  Whirled peas, maybe, at least until Jesus really comes back. I want a lot of things I’ll never get, too, like a penthouse off Central Park and the bank account to go with it, or maybe a personalized parking space at the mall. That would be nice.

That what do you really want question is hard for me because I really have gotten a lot of things I’ve wanted. I wanted to be a professional songwriter. I got that and a lot more, having enjoyed a long career in music publishing and recording. I wanted a happy marriage and I’ve had 35 awesome years (not perfect, but awesome) with my sweet wife who gave us a beautiful daughter. I wanted people to hear about the miraculous changes Jesus brought to my life. I’ve flown over a million miles so far, sharing with hundreds of thousands of people the power of His transforming love.

No, I’ve come to know that the real question isn’t what do I really want in order to make myself happy. The real question is “what have I been created to do in order to bring Jesus glory and to help others find Him?” Finding the answer to that question is the only thing that’s going to satisfy my deep heart. It’s the only thing that will satisfy yours, too.

So, to get you what you really want, you have to start by realizing that what you really want is to find out what Jesus made you for-to know Him and to make Him known. Nothing else fits that hole in your heart. Nothing else brings the joy and happiness you crave. Nothing else can take the place of knowing the One who will eventually bring world peace. Love Jesus and find out what He made you for. That’s how you get what you really want.

 

ChizBESTJohn Chisum is an internationally appreciated worship leader, songwriter, mentor, and clinician. Click here for information on The Worship Leader’s One-on-One Coaching with John Chisum. For information about booking John for a worship seminar, worship concert, or special event, contact him directly at john@johnchisum.org, or call 251-533-5960.

 

My Sorry Sacrifice

lamb“Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22

Funny how I always want to justify myself before God.

Whenever I run past the bounds of His love and will for me, I immediately feel it and want to atone for my actions. My first thought is, “What can I do to make Him happy with me again? Should I beat my back with a scourge or crawl up a thousand concrete steps on my knees? What will make me feel better about myself?”

Turns out, this is nothing but my human pride desiring to justify itself and be able to earn God’s approval. Impossible. Can’t be done. Will never happen. Only Jesus could ever do it, and, thankfully, He did.

Now the truest form of repentance is doing nothing when I sin except confessing it and believing deeply in the power of Jesus’ sacrifice on my behalf (1 Jn 1:9). To drag my sorry sacrifices (“Oh, God, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry”) does nothing to eradicate the guilt I feel.

Only a fresh surrender to the total grace and forgiveness Jesus has already extended to me brings a sense of release from my guilt and a beautiful sense of belonging to Him. Try it next time you blow it. It’s awesome to feel loved even in the midst of the complete inability to justify yourself or provide a spotless lamb. God already did that for us. Praise Him!

ChizBESTJohn Chisum is an internationally appreciated worship leader, songwriter, mentor, and clinician. Click here for information on The Worship Leader’s One-on-One Coaching with John Chisum. For information about booking John for a worship seminar, worship concert, or special event, contact him directly at john@johnchisum.org, or call 251-533-5960.

 

 

Horse Shoes and Hand Grenades: Why Wanting to Be Close to God is Good Enough

horseshoesThere’s an old saying that goes, “Close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades.”

Your boss may have said that to you when you missed a quota. Or maybe your spouse said it when you were a day late for a birthday or anniversary. Whatever the reason, when anyone says this, you’ve messed up. But is there ever a time when “close” is good enough? YES.

Close is good enough when you decide to get close to God.

I could never be good enough to get close to God,” you’re probably thinking. Well, that’s the BEST thing you could think right now, because being close to God has nothing to do with precision or with hitting a goal of any kind. That’s where the horse shoes and hand grenades come in. God Himself has freed us from all the pressure of needing to earn His love. He hit all the marks for us!

James says it this way, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and make your hearts pure, you who are half-hearted towards God (Jas. 4:8).” The formula for being close to God is simple: want to. Simply wanting to be close to God is the quantum leap that makes it happen. You just glance at Him with a desiring heart and He’s all over it like cows on a salt lick.

You don’t have to wait until you feel righteous or holy. You probably never will. You don’t have to live a sinless life before being accepted by God. You can’t. You don’t have to achieve some superhuman spirituality, find Nirvana, or commit the ultimate selfless act of giving all you have to the poor before God will love you. All of those things are our own attempts to earn His love. It simply can’t be done. He already loves you.

So put the horse shoes and hand grenades away. Start wanting to be close to God and watch how fast He shows up and brings all sorts of good things into your life. He’s done all the work for you, so rest in it. Close is good enough for now.

ChizBESTJohn Chisum is an internationally appreciated worship leader, songwriter, mentor, and clinician. Click here for information on The Worship Leader’s One-on-One Coaching with John Chisum. For information about booking John for a worship seminar, worship concert, or special event, contact him directly at john@johnchisum.org, or call 251-533-5960.

Float – Don’t Flap!

eagle2Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel,“My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40: 27-31

 Have you ever noticed people around you who seem to effortlessly grow wealthy or who excel in their lives in ways that you’ve only dreamt of, and wondered, “How does that happen for them and not for me?” I know I have! If I’m not careful, I can begin to grow envious and even resentful of people who seem to succeed easily. When that happens, all the good things I already have begin to lose their value and my soul sinks into an unhealthy place. All the “good energy” inside me drains out, further disabling me and complicating life.

I was feeling that way one day last week. Envious. Ungrateful. Victimized. So, I decided to go for a walk. Walks tend to open my mind again to the good things in life. It also helps oxygenate my body and stretch my bones back out after sitting at my desk for too long. I also think it gives God a chance to speak to me. I have a friend who says, “Angels talk to those who walk.” Either way, I tend to get over myself and back into a creative mindset when I take even a short 30-minute walk around the neighborhood.

As I walked this particular time, I was pouring out my heart to God about all the things I was feeling and struggling with. At one particular moment, I looked up and saw two large birds floating on an upper air stream far above me. I immediately sensed the Lord say to me, “Float, don’t flap!” I remembered the verses quoted above, only without the obviously rebuking tone in the first few verses. Funny how we never put that part on posters.

I was reminded again that a heart of gratitude is what lifts my spirit to the upper airstreams in God. When I begin to thank Him for my own blessings and take my eyes off of others, I begin to soar with the eagles, floating on the wings of faith, instead of flapping needlessly in the wind.

ChizBESTJohn Chisum is an internationally appreciated worship leader, songwriter, mentor, and clinician. Click here for information on The Worship Leader’s One-on-One Coaching with John Chisum. For information about booking John for a worship seminar, worship concert, or special event, contact him directly at john@johnchisum.org, or call 251-533-5960.

Getting Your Art in the Right Place

MonaMinistry is more than heart – it’s art, too.

I’ve taught for years in my songwriting workshops that great songs have “heart, art, and good doctrine.” I stand by that for public ministry, as well. Great ministry week to week needs great art just like it needs the passionate heart of someone who loves Jesus. Can you keep the good art coming, right along with the love you have for Jesus you want everyone to see?

Nancy Beach from Will Creek Community Church has famously said, “We do 52 special events a year.” That’s so true. Those of us who serve in the local church are among the rare breed of people who actually host a congregation no less than 52 times a year. For the churches who have two services a week that’s 104 special events, not counting Christmas Eve. How can we keep it fresh?

The first challenge is to contend for great songs and a dynamic delivery each week, despite all obstacles. This means you work your team and help them aspire to greatness. The second thing is to keep it fresh personally. That means that you make sure you are current with Jesus, truly filled with His presence and His Spirit in every moment, and that you keep your heart pure. Those are no easy tasks, believe me.

There’s an old saying about marriage that says, “You can’t live on love alone.” That’s true for us as leaders in the local church. It takes more than the love we have for Jesus, as important as that is. It takes being a cunning leader, a wise person, an artist.

Keep your heart fresh, but keep your art fresh, too.

ChizBESTJohn Chisum is an internationally appreciated worship leader, songwriter, mentor, and clinician. Click here for information on The Worship Leader’s One-on-One Coaching with John Chisum. For information about booking John for a worship seminar, worship concert, or special event, contact him directly at john@johnchisum.org, or call 251-533-5960.

Shut My Mouth in the Presence of the Lord

finger lipsI’ve had a hunch for years that we’re not going to be singing when we see Jesus. No. We’re going to fall down in silent, rapt, awe-filled adoration that defies all human language. How else should it be?

Solomon wrote, “Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil. Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few. For the dream comes through much effort and the voice of a fool through many words (Ecc. 5:1-3).”

Does it seem sometimes like we’re talking more than we’re listening? 

I tune into the news channels sometimes, though only once or twice a week, I admit. I can only stand to listen for a few minutes because the anchors, aside from talking incessantly, continually interrupt each other. Now, I understand that their job is to talk. But, at some point, the talking ceases to help us and starts to hurt us.

We’re always in God’s presence, even when we don’t know it or feel it. He’s promised to never leave or forsake us. But there are times when His presence is so heavy in a worship service that it’s undeniable. Often the singing stops and people sink to their knees in silence and to a deeper place in worship than usual. That’s a lot closer to how it’s going to be when we really see Him.

SO – shut my mouth in the presence of the Lord. Let my words be few. Let me listen, not speak.

ChizBESTJohn Chisum is an internationally appreciated worship leader, songwriter, mentor, and clinician. Click here for information on The Worship Leader’s One-on-One Coaching with John Chisum. For information about booking John for a worship seminar, worship concert, or special event, contact him directly at john@johnchisum.org, or call 251-533-5960.

 

I Quit! Living an Excuse-less Life in Jesus

i resignNOTICE: I hereby resign my post as Chief Excusiologist. I will no longer be making excuses for my life.

“God will never give you a dream without the power to fulfill it,” said Peter J. Daniels. Daniels, once an Australian bricklayer who’d failed every grade he ever entered in school, a man who had four fathers, two mothers, and two alcoholic brothers, is now one of the world’s wealthiest men worth billions of dollars. He is self-educated, has read over 2,000 books, and owns so many companies worldwide they have their own currency. Daniels is a man with no excuses for himself.

Peter Daniels failed at business three times, yet felt the Lord told him that he would be known as one of the world’s most benevolent men long before he ever earned his first million. He is now one of the world’s great philanthropists and helps thousands of people realize their own dreams of financial security. He could never have made the trip from bricklayer to billionaire if he was willing to make excuses or blame others for his problems.

I want to be like Dr. Daniels. I want to use more of my God-given brain power to prosper myself and do good things in the world. I want to stop excusing the lack of drive, the lack of focus, the lack of purpose and passion that I have tolerated all these years in myself and do something, really do something, in the power of God. Don’t you want that, too?

Check out Peter J. Daniels on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rQM4IkiMik. Suspend all criticism and self-preservation. Lose your excuses along with me and let’s see what GOD wants to do in our lives. What if He wants to bless us beyond our wildest imaginations and make us a blessing to millions of others somehow? I’m giving up all the excuses I’ve used to not believe God for the absolutely limitless display of His love, power, and riches (even physical and financial riches) in my life.

In the end, the only people critical of those who are blessed are those who are not.

ChizBESTJohn Chisum is an internationally appreciated worship leader, songwriter, mentor, and clinician. Click here for information on The Worship Leader’s One-on-One Coaching with John Chisum. For information about booking John for a worship seminar, worship concert, or special event, contact him directly at john@johnchisum.org, or call 251-533-5960.

Be Careful What You Ask For (or, “Why What You Think You Need to Lead Might Not Be What You Really Need to Lead”)

lightingBe careful what you ask for. You Just might get it!

Have you ever wanted something in the worst way, only to find out that you didn’t want it once you got it, after all? I know I have! My garage has seen a lot of junk come and go over the years that I just had to have, only to realize it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, or that I didn’t have the level of interest in it that made it useful (like all those exercise gadgets I’ve bought and never used!). Expert marketing just has a way of pulling us into things that aren’t always what we actually need.

If we’re not careful as leaders, we can fall into the trap of wanting something that may not be helpful to us, after all.

Take, for instance, the example of intelligent lighting. You’ve seen these amazing digital lights at, say, a Jesus Culture concert or a Passion Conference. Maybe the mega-church down the street has a million-dollar worship budget and just outfitted their new 3,000-seat auditorium with them. You attended their grand opening, and now you feel like “the country cousin come to town” – there’s just no way you could ever afford those lights for your church, but somehow you believe intelligent lighting is the one thing that would open up the heavens and cause your congregation to worship in spirit and truth.

So you convince the Lead Pastor and budget committee that all the worship problems in your church will be solved if they will scrap everything else and allocate every extra dollar for the entire year to purchasing these magic lights. The day finally comes when the boxes arrive, you unwrap them, set them all up, turn them on, and suddenly there’s a deep sinking feeling inside you. You realize that the lights are going to blind your 80-year old organist and trigger cranial seizures throughout your congregation. Maybe you should’ve invested in your people before buying a bunch of lights, especially if you expect them to worship God more than be dazzled by intelligent lights.

Okay, so that example is a stretch, but, can you identify with the temptation to think that something you could buy would increase the level of commitment to authentic worship in your congregation? Whether its lights or a sound board or a younger worship leader, aren’t we all subject to thinking sometimes that we can manipulate our people into worshiping?

In the end, the only thing that will deepen authentic worship is for the beauty of Jesus to be valued as the one essential element in our services. If we don’t hold that value as the dearest to our own hearts no kind of light in the world, intelligent or not, is capable of making others worship Him.

ChizBESTJohn Chisum is an internationally appreciated worship leader, songwriter, mentor, and clinician. Click here for information on The Worship Leader’s One-on-One Coaching with John Chisum. For information about booking John for a worship seminar, worship concert, or special event, contact him directly at john@johnchisum.org, or call 251-533-5960.

Thinking Better, Leading Better

tombstoneI know you’ll gag and stop reading now if I quote that weary adage about insanity being doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result, so I won’t. I will say, however, that better thinking is the key to better leading. If that means making the effort to stop thinking the same old thing and start thinking differently, well, ’nuff said.

We all lead out of what we know, and, tritely speaking again, we don’t know what we don’t know. So, how can we lead effectively, currently, if we’re operating out of the same old skill set, not even knowing the questions we ought to be asking about what we don’t know? We get some outside help. We read some books. We go to a conference. We watch some DVD’s and figure out that we just don’t know it all, after all.

How do I know this?

I know this because I’ve lived it. Another cliche’ here: A grave is just a rut with the ends knocked out. Good one. Maybe I’ll make up a cliche’ of my own…hhhmmmmm…let’s see… A rut is like, well, it’s like a hole in the ground that dead people lie in when they don’t have anything else better to do. No, that was bad. That was kind of like the first rut cliche. Guess I’m in one already. See how easy it is to fall into them? Say, could you give me a hand up?

So, if our leading isn’t going well, it certainly means we’re not thinking well. Better leading means better thinking and better thinking means opening our minds to something beyond ourselves, like other people who know more than we do about leading people. Let’s start there. Who’s doing what you want to do? Who’s leading like you want to lead? Who’s leading more people than you lead? What would it mean to lead differently than you’re leading now? Yes, yes… questions are good, especially if we’re open to the answers we’re not ready to hear.

Our failures can become our teachers, if we would only listen to them.

ChizBESTJohn Chisum is an internationally appreciated worship leader, songwriter, mentor, and clinician. Click here for information on The Worship Leader’s One-on-One Coaching with John Chisum. For information about booking John for a worship seminar, worship concert, or special event, contact him directly at john@johnchisum.org, or call 251-533-5960.

Fearless Living, Fearless Leading

fear notWashing dishes at a friend’s house last night after a lovely dinner, I was struck with a thought, a question, really, that I then turned and posed to my wife and friends. I asked them, “If I could lead us all out of fear what couldn’t we do? How would each of us respond to each other and to the world around us if we were completely fearless?” Okay, it was a downer of a question and every sense of frivolity and lightness fled the room. None of us had a great answer. After an awkward moment of silence, my beautiful, amazing, and dry-witted wife quipped, “Well, who died and made YOU Jesus?”

Since that moment I’ve been thinking about what really could happen if we just lost our fears instead of our car keys or our reading glasses. Wouldn’t we respond very differently than we do now to threats of economic hardship, terrorism, and even to our spouses and loved ones? I think we would. I think if we could develop a stronger belief in Jesus’ work for us and dig a lot deeper into what that means for us on a practical level, we would lead very different lives altogether. Perhaps we would lead lives like God fully intends for us to lead. Fearless lives. Child-of-God kind of lives.

For one thing, all competition would cease. We would realize that God has already anticipated every need we could ever have and has already provided for them. We would stop hedging our bets on getting what we need from Him and from the world around us, abandoning every temptation to manipulate anyone in any way for any thing. We would pray with confidence. We would love unconditionally. We would move from the “competitive mind” to the “creative mind.” We would become extreme givers, never takers. We would overwhelm the people around us with the kind of Spirit power rarely seen since The Book of Acts.

Our leadership would change, too. Transparency would be the norm. A compassionate kind of listening would become the hallmark of our husbanding, our parenting, and our ministries. People would flock to follow us because they would feel validated for being who they are, not just feeling used by us for their talents or dollars. If we were truly fearless, we could look someone deeply in their eyes and say, “Darling, I’m here for you” and mean it from the essence of our being. We would, in short, make the fearless kingdom of God in all that it means come to bear in very tangible expressions all around us. Life would come alive again.

No one died and made me Jesus.

But Jesus has entrusted me with leadership abilities with which to lead others toward all that He died to give us. Freedom from fear – all of it – is ours in Jesus. Best I can tell, Jesus said,”Fear not” about 15 times as recorded in the Gospels. Seems to me once would have been sufficient if we could only do it.

What kind of leader can you become if you begin to take steps, even small ones, toward eradicating fear from your life and ministry? How would that affect your leadership, the planning, the praying, the interactions with the people you lead? Are you ready for what fearless living and fearless leading will do?