Marty Miles / Blog
"Song For Sarah & Jesse" in action
"Song For Sarah & Jesse" in action An Email Message From Pastor Brian Beeks at Monticello United Methodist Church in Monticello, IN: Marty, Thanks for coming and sharing in music on Sunday. I have received many positive comments. I also want to share a story with you. Bootsie was touched by the song about the death of your babies. She commented to me that she didn’t know why that song* had touched her so because she had never lost a baby. Today she was meeting with a group of women for lunch and a woman was a little “ouchy” and said she wouldn’t be in church on Sunday. There were others around and Bootsie didn’t feel comfortable probing. When they were leaving, Bootsie happened to see Peggy in the parking lot and they talked some more. Peggy said, “I’m planning to be a grouch on Sunday.” On Labor Day weekend 31(?) years ago, her doctor didn’t want to bother coming in to deliver her son and he ended up dying. Bootsie said she immediately knew why she wanted [the CD with] that song on Sunday. She went to her car and got the CD and gave it to Peggy. Thanks again. Brian
RECOMMENDATION FROM PASTOR STEVE BOUCHER
Marty Miles has led worship at our church and performed with the praise band at our church several times. I have had many other conversations with him, which has allowed me to get to know the man and not just the worship leader and performer. I have a great respect for him as a man of God, worship leader and performer. He brings a passion for God and energy to his performances. When I look for someone who would like to lead worship or perform a concert, I want someone with Christ-like character. Someone who loves Jesus more than his music! Marty is RIGHT ON with that! Also, I seek to know if they are a worshipper first or performer. This is vital for me as a pastor. Marty LOVES Jesus and longs to worship our Savior. AND he PRAISES GOD through his God-given gifts in music in order to express that. I LOVE THAT! Finally, I want to know that the person can engage people…lead them in worship. Marty is VERY engaging through his sense of humor and understanding of whatever environment he is leading worship in or performing in. Marty is without question a man of God who would add his experience, passion for God and music, energy and excellence to a church or other organization who wants a worship leader or performer. Feel free to contact me with any questions or if you would like further information! Steve Boucher, Campus Pastor Grace Community Church, South Bend/Mishawaka, IN
WORSHIP FROM THE OUTSIDE IN - part 5
I would like to share an excerpt from “Why Do We Worship?” by Steve Pruitt: “While leading worship in small groups I have seen the floors of dens and living rooms covered with people on their faces in the presence of God. In corporate settings I have seen people dance, shout and clap their hands while at the same time others knelt, bowed and wept. . . The purpose of our worship, however, is not to experience the hand of God, it is to see the face of God. Worship is for God! He is the giver and the receiver of worship. All True worship has God at its center. It’s all about Him.” When we elevate one form of worship over another, looking around to see what others are doing or trying to experience that special feeling, we are doing the same thing the Samaritans and the Jews did, trying to say what is the best way to worship God. When we do that we are worshiping the worship. But worship is about God; it’s not a place or a style or a feeling. We need to change our focus to “What am I bringing to God?” and let the feelings follow rather than lead. To worship God in Spirit and in Truth means coming to Him through Jesus in all honesty, in all our sinfulness and offering Him all our love, adoration and commitment no matter what the cost. And when we do that in corporate worship the expressions take on as many extremes as there are human emotions. But the emotion is not the worship and feeling good is not the end of worship. God is the end of worship. Regardless of your hindrance, God is waiting for you to approach. The Bible says that He lives in the praises of His people. We as a body of believers are the house of the Lord. Make a decision to come to the house expecting to fellowship with Him. Make the decision to love Him in spite of yourself, your feelings and your shortcomings. Put your focus on Him and worship Him in spirit and in truth – with all your heart, your body, your emotions and your intellect. “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. (Heb. 13:15)
WORSHIP FROM THE OUTSIDE IN - part 4
In regard to the hindrance of feelings, there are those that say, “I can’t worship because I don’t feel it and I don’t want to be a hypocrite.” Listen to this: “Save me, O God, for the waters have threatened my life. I have sunk in deep mire, and there is not foothold; I have come into deep waters and a flood overflows me. I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched; My eyes fail while I wait for my God.” That’s just the first three verses of Psalm 69 where David is pouring his heart out to God in distress. He’s broken, persecuted, depressed and worn down. In verse 20 he says, “Reproach has broken my heart, and I am so sick. And I looked for sympathy, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none.” Do you think he felt like praising God at this point? Let me tell you, David knew what despair and desperation were all about. He lived it over and over again in his life. But 10 verses later in the SAME PSALM we find these words: “I will praise the name of God with song, and shall magnify Him with thanksgiving!” David made the decision to worship God. He was honest about his feelings. He didn’t deny them, but he worshiped anyway. Sometimes when we make that decision to express our love to Jesus in spite of our negative feelings, we are lifted out of them. Sometimes we aren’t. But the point is that we are expressing our love to Jesus, end of story. Finally, sometimes we are hindered by improper expectations. In John chapter 4 we see Jesus talking to a Samaritan woman. Maybe you know the story. If you don’t, I encourage you to read the whole chapter for yourself. At one point in the conversation the woman said, “I see you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Jesus answered her by saying that, “An hour is coming and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the father in Spirit and in Truth. God is spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.” For some it is important to experience what I call the “OOH” factor in worship. They want to get into the “spiritual zone,” to feel intense spirituality and maybe even be moved to tears. Why? Because it makes them feel like they have been close to God. Some people want to dance and shout, let all their inhibitions go and wave their arms in the air and maybe even speak in tongues. Why? Because it makes them feel close to God. Still others love silence, dim light and candles. Why? Because it makes them feel close to God. None of these are wrong. But when the focus is on what we are going to get out of worship rather than what we are bringing to worship, then it’s time to re-evaluate what we are doing here.
WORSHIP FROM THE OUTSIDE IN - part 3
I love the movie “Hoosiers.” It’s depiction of Indiana high school basketball could not be better. There is a part in the movie that shows the Butler field house before the game begins. The excitement of the crowd has them yelling and on their feet before the game even began. The pitch of the announcers’ voices reflect the expectation of a major athletic event and people are expectantly glued to their radios all over the region waiting for the opening tip of the basketball. And that’s something to take notice of. They were there before the beginning, waiting with expectation. The first hindrance to meaningful public worship that I want to mention is “lack of expectation.” How often do we come to church expecting to encounter God? I would suggest we don’t do it very often. Coming to church is just part of our routine. So we allow ourselves that extra ten or twenty minutes in bed or we do that extra chore before leaving the house, barely allowing ourselves enough time to arrive before the service begins. We come in distracted. Do our acts of worship have anything to do with our relationship to Jesus? How does what we do here bring us closer to Him personally? When we are singing, “Holy, Holy, Holy” are we envisioning Him in all His glory, or wondering if lunch will be ready when the service ends? When we come to the communion table and are holding the bread and cup, are we remembering the price He paid for us to know Him personally, or are we just checking off another religious act that makes us feel good? Often times we come in more out of obligation than we do out of thanksgiving. And that’s when this becomes a religious act for us rather than being about a relationship with Jesus. That’s not to say we don’t want to be here. It’s just that our expectations are so low about what is going to happen here that we don’t anticipate meeting God. This lack of expectation can hinder your ability to be ready to enter into praise and thanksgiving when it begins. It can prevent you from sensing God’s presence around you and prevent you from hearing His voice. I’m not saying that we should be work ourselves into an emotional frenzy every Sunday about going to church. When I talk about expectation, I am not referring to something emotional but rather a confidence and faith that inspires us to look forward our Father’s presence among His people and what we can bring to HIM. It has to do with a conscious decision. Let’s join our voice with the Psalmist, “I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord.” (Ps. 122:1) Hindrance #2 is that of feelings and inhibitions. First, the inhibitions: Different people have different personalities. Different personalities respond to things differently and have different ways of allowing their feelings to show. It’s easy for some to block out what is going on around them and focus on worshiping God while others find this difficult. For those who find it difficult, let me say that worship is a decision you make. It is not uncommon for people to enter a worship service bound by their inhibitions and then to have something happen that causes them to let go and begin to worship. They enter into a place of experience with God and, often, their emotions are affected. After the service they come up to me or the pastor or a band member and say how blessed they were by OUR worship, OUR message, OUR music. It wasn’t us. It was God, and it was because they made the decision to let go of their inhibition.
WORSHIP FROM THE OUTSIDE IN - part 2
All of these things can be expressions of worship when they come from an honest heart in response to God’s greatness and goodness. If you were raised in church like I was, then you probably learned Psalm 100 as a child. Listen to what it says: “Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving, And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him; bless His name. For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting, And His faithfulness to all generations.” Have you ever read God’s instructions to Moses for building the Tabernacle in the wilderness? What was the first thing the worshipper encountered after entering through the gate? The bronze altar – the symbol of Jesus sacrifice for us. And the Psalmist is making a direct reference to the tabernacle when he says, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving.” We are thankful that we can enter because we know that the shed blood of Jesus covers our sins so that we can be in relationship to God. Then, as he moves further through the outer court and into the Holy Place, his thanksgiving gives way to praise. And as he approaches the Holy Of Holies, he continues by saying, “bless His name.” This is phrase is special to me because the Psalmist is telling us that God is blessed by our praise and adoration. In Psalm 63:3-4 he says, “Because Thy loving-kindness is better than life, my lips will praise thee. Thus I will bless Thee as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Thy name.” Normally we think of a blessing as something good that God does for us, but over and over the Psalmist talks about our blessing God. Our worship blesses God! Why? I don’t really know. But I have a theory. I think it’s because, when offered from an honest heart and our whole life, our worship is the only thing we have to offer Him that He didn’t give to us first. When we come together for worship, we are supposed to bring our best to Him – our best praise, our best thanksgiving, our best intentions and considerations toward each other. But sometimes we are hindered. We could probably list many hindrances, in fact, but I want to try and put them into three categories: 1. No expectations 2. Feelings & Inhibitions 3. Improper Expectations
WORSHIP FROM THE OUTSIDE IN - part 1
Worship has to begin From The Inside Out. Worship is not just an act, but it’s a lifestyle where everything we do is offered up to God – every word, every act, every thought. Romans 12 says we are to “present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service of worship.” This lifestyle of worship transcends what we do on Sunday morning. It includes our daily prayer time, our personal thought life, our relationships to our families and friends, our walks on the beach, our rides on the motorcycle, our time on the playing field, drinking coffee at Starbuck’s and standing in line at the grocery. If worship is that all encompassing, then what are we doing on Sunday morning? For me, this is the beauty of the Body of Christ. The Bible says, “behold how lovely and how good it is for brethren to dwell in love together!” And again, “Don’t forsake the gathering of yourselves with one another, but consider how to spur one another on to love and to good works.” And even yet again, “I was glad when they said unto me, ‘let us go into the house of the Lord.’” And also, “be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.” The public expression of worship by groups of likeminded believers has been historically and biblically one of the most visible acts of faith throughout the ages. The Romans 12 passage I opened with deals with worship from the inside out. I want to talk about Worship From The Outside In – Worshipping Together. What do we do exactly, and what does it have to do with building a personal relationship to God through Jesus? What is the proper outward expression of worship in a group? Let’s start by making a list of specific acts that are considered acts of public worship. For example, praise is an act of worship. Many people think worship and praise are the same thing. They are closely related, but praise is a specific type of worship – or a sub-category under worship, if you will. Some other outward expression of worship include: Adoration Meditation Kneeling Prayer Clapping Hands Singing Shouting Tithes & offerings Thanksgiving Raising Hands Testimonies Dancing Playing instruments Laying prostrate on the floor