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Excellent worship team and church leadership tips.

How I’ve Lost Over 20 Lbs Since June 8th! (And How You Can, Too!)

scales“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” Paul to the young Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:8

I used to be “okay” with being the pudgy little man who played guitar and sang worship songs. As long as they made jeans in bigger sizes, I wasn’t too concerned with how much I weighed. In fact, I used to quote Paul from the verse above saying, “See, even PAUL didn’t think it was important, at least for long, to exercise. Being a godly man is most important!”

I was really just covering up for my laziness. It’s true-if you HAVE to choose between physical fitness and godliness, well, then being more like Jesus wins out. But, most of us don’t have to make that choice and often don’t even make either of them. Like me, many people are satisfied with being average, living average lives, and being “just healthy enough” and “just holy enough” to get by. Well, I’m done with that.

You see, I was using food and drink to cover a lot of emotional pain in my life. I was eating too much of the wrong foods and drinking too much of the wrong drinks to give my body the nourishment it needs. I wasn’t just a couch potato. I was past that. The roots of my pudgy potato self had sprouted and were coiling down through the couch cushions. I was about to become a full-on potato patch if something didn’t change. Thankfully, something BIG changed. My thinking.

On June 8th, Donna, my wife, and I made a quality decision to do a 10-day Daniel Fast. No sugar, no meat, no alcohol, no desserts, no bread, and nothing but whatever you can harvest from the ground with water to drink and a lot of soul searching in the meantime. We added in walking briskly around our little neighborhood the first day and have walked almost every day since. It didn’t take us long to begin jogging short distances and pretty soon we were jogging the entire neighborhood. No one has been any more shocked than us that we’re actually running again!

Before June 8th, I was sluggish, unhealthy, unhappy, and pushing 200 lbs, a weight that is considered obese for my height. Today, only two months later, I’m happier, healthier, motivated, and taking massive action to use everything in my life, even a healthier body, to make Jesus known to as many people as possible. Plus, I weighed in at 175.7 lbs this morning and my clothes are fitting again. Donna’s loving my newfound energy and inspiration, too!

A friend of mine says, “Angels talk to those who walk.” For me, it’s more like the Spirit of God wells up from somewhere deep in me as I’m out walking and running, assuring me that He is with me, has healed me, has already secured my future, and that He is walking and running with me all the way. I can’t encourage you enough to start where you are, today, by trying a Daniel Fast and even a short daily walk. Don’t do too much, but do what you can do. You might be surprised at where you are only two months from 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.

How God Uses the Worst Things Imaginable

IMG_0402“Our greatest ministry comes out of our deepest pain.”                                                                                   ~Rick Warren in The Purpose-Driven Life

There’s a joke about three young boys bragging on their fathers one day in the school yard. The first one says, “My dad owns the bank and  we have a million dollars!” The second chimes in with, “Yeah? Well my daddy owns a big company and WE have a million dollars, too!” The third boy, whose father was a pastor at the small local church, thought for a moment and then finally blurted out, “Awwww, that’s nothing! My daddy owns HELL ‘cuz he said the deacons gave it to him!”

Whatever the deacons were angry about with this third’s kid’s pastor-dad, chances are it constituted both a trial and an opportunity for him, as these things do for all of us. Trials, tests, and troubles are “equal opportunity employers” and hit each of us throughout life and every time one comes we have the opportunity to let God do His wonderful work in our hearts and behaviors. How will we react? Will we let the character, nature, and attributes of Jesus shine through us as we react to the anger of others, a cancer setback, or a relational meltdown?

In every situation there lies the hidden struggle of control-surrender, hope-despair, and sometimes even life-death. If we’re consumed with our own needs and wants, it’s all too easy to miss the bigger picture God has in mind for us and to disregard the admonition from The Book of James to, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:2-4).”

In my new song Mercy in the Fire the chorus sings, “There’s a mercy in the fire and there’s a promise in the pain/There’s a wonder in the weakness when we find His strength again/In every trial, test, and trouble hides the purpose He desires/And the gold will be revealed as we find mercy in the fire (Words and Music by John Chisum, Copyright 2015 by Donnaluv Music/ASCAP All Rights Reserved).” The mercy we can find in the fires of life, if we take time to look for it, is nothing short of the presence of Christ. The ultimate purpose of every trial is to reveal “Christ in us” (Colossians 1:27) and to reveal more of His love and power to us, in us, and through us as a testimony to the world of His overcoming power.

God uses the worst things imaginable in order to bring us to completeness and maturity in our faith (see James). He doesn’t cause them, but He uses them. Trials are always on the menu in the cafe of life, but our loving Father is discontent to let them destroy us if we will only trust His higher purposes to reveal His goodness, faithfulness, and loving presence through everything we go through. Remember – there’s always mercy in the fire, no matter how hot it gets.

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.

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.

 

Widening The Circle of Suffering

circles“I am happy to suffer for you now. In my body I am completing whatever remains of Christ’s sufferings. I am doing this on behalf of his body, the church.”    Colossians 1:24 God’s Word Translation

Donna and I were hiking in east Tennessee today. The weather was nice, mid-80’s with moderate humidity. We were talking about a sign I saw in a Nashville area coffee shop recently that reads, “People are going to hurt you. You have to decide which ones are worth suffering for.” As we managed the occasionally rocky and steep climb back up the path, we were discussing just who we would suffer for.

We named each other, for starters. Good married people begin there and work out. Our daughter made the list, of course. A few in-laws and friends later we were out of specific names of people we would choose willingly to suffer for. I then remarked, “That’s a pretty small circle of suffering. I’m glad Jesus’ circle of suffering encompassed all of humanity for all of time, including us.” We then spoke of missionaries, especially, that wonderfully selfless breed of people who intentionally widen their circle of suffering to include people groups and communities they have no familial connection with for the sake of the Gospel. The world has been changed by missionaries.

Not five minutes later, we passed a young lady on the path with a t-shirt that read, “Pray for Nigeria.” She had a beautiful dark-skinned girl with her, obviously not her own. Since I will be in Lagos next week for a worship tour, I spoke to her and questioned her about the country I’ve come to love. Turns out, she and her husband are missionaries in Jos, a city in northern Nigeria fraught with danger and Christian persecution, where they help young women there find freedom from human trafficking.

I’m just going over to sing. Maybe it’s time to think about widening my own circle of suffering. What about you?

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.