Agnus Dei

agnus dei lamb

While preparing for the Love Reigns conference, we started to discuss the worship. I have for years hated canned worship, live or not.  It isn’t really about being obvious and predictable, but more about having no heart.  It’s like it is void of reality, even if the words are correct.  Another example would be this blog or our podcasts.  They each have evidence of a living God in real lives.  They’re tangible because they aren’t contrived.  A word I give each post and episode is “genuine.”

As we listened to a few songs, we heard Michael W. Smith’s rendition of Agnus Dei.  He has two versions: one is studio produced, and the other is live.  I wanted everyone to hear the difference between the two, because the Spirit has moved on me during the live version.  We’ve actually used that version in one of our past conferences.  So we played both songs and I occasionally glanced at Martha.  She was moved to tears at the studio version and amazingly, the live version, while nice, was spiritually flat.  I was confused; my point was failing to pan out.

Well, later that day I asked my Father to tell me what happened.  He so clearly stated, “It’s not what it is, but Who.” Wow, Dad! So I was shored up to see – and grateful for it – that it isn’t about what is being played but Who is directing it.  If God chose to use a group of 4 year olds singing Jesus Loves Me, or for that matter, Jeff Buckley singing Hallelujah, what is that to me? My focus and desire is for Him! Where He is pleased is the presence of His anointing. What a major lesson.

I go about this world with this motivation, “Where are You today?” When I was heavily focused on photography, my attention was looking at what He had in His view.  I even made this statement on my personal website: “I believe that there are many gorgeous views which no one is privy to, existing for God alone.  But when He chooses to invite me in and we see it together, this is ART whether my camera is present or not.” So whether I am walking through a crowd, reading a book, or watching a movie, I do it to see Him.  I look for Him everywhere and this must translate into every aspect of life, especially the worship at the upcoming conference (Love Reigns).

So I don’t know what the worship will be at the conference, but I can tell you how I’ll pray. Who, Lord?! Not who sings or what songs sound good.  Not what might be palatable to guests, but where does Your Spirit choose to rest. That might even be silence . . .

At the end of the day, the final question is: What will bring You pleasure and how will You be made glad? Though I hope to see you all in March, I more want to see Him and a smile on His face!

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    • Fabi

      What will bring You pleasure and how will You be made glad? …That might even be silence . . .

      This question reminds me when He sent me to a week-worship conference in Israel during a time of hardship, I was expecting a formula to perform but I was pierced with His questions:

      Would it be ok if I take you as my trophy and never use you?
      Would you mind to be waisted and just wait for Me until I call you?

      My ¨DO¨ nature still resists to become quiet to that scary state of being His pleasure.
      Oh Lord, HELP!

      Thank you Jhon.

    • Sam

      The live version has more soulish power than the studio one, which could be noted as more “neutral” in that respect.

      I have been moved by both, though. So, the winner is… the Lord, as you said. “It’s not what it is, but Who.”

      “What a major lesson”, it is true.

    • Tina

      I learned something from Heidi Baker. I have seen her a few times at conferences and before she speaks she worships. I mean she worships the Lord sometimes on her face but always only connected to Him and unaware of the people. She worships until the Lord gives her direction and she is fully connected in His presence. I have watch as I and others join the worship but it took me a while to realize that it is a decision of the heart as to whether we sing or whether we enter in…

    • Josh

      I’m so glad you posted this. I’ve often find myself enjoying a secular song, but my heart would be singing to Him, and most often the words will change slightly to match my intent. I’ve gone back and forth about it many times whether or not it is appropriate, thinking I should be guarding against anything worldly. But to be reminded that “It’s not what it is, but Who” is truly refreshing. Thanks for sharing this John.



    • Sam

      That little girl of that link “Jesus loves me” is such a poignant picture of “praising God.” (I watched it now!)

    • Cindy Pollard

      I am a professional trumpet player who has left all the fame & glory of the stage to be a lover of Jesus. It’s not about how good the music is or how the sound system works. Worship is all about connecting with the Lord, singing His songs, going in the direction He wants by His Spirit. What God wants the most is for me to believe and receive His love, and love Him back. song or no song. Words or no words. Heart to heart love encounters.

      • Sam

        Amen, Cindy!

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