That’s the only way I know how to describe how I feel right now in one word. I am challenged.
Tonight, a friend called me and told me about a service taking place tonight where a group was going to be ministering that he thought I’d want to hear. I was lying on the couch watching a movie, recuperating from a very long and busy weekend. I told him that it sounded interesting but gave him very little reason to believe that I wanted to leave my house.
Shortly thereafter, I got a text from him stating that the group was made up of about 25 young people all delivered from addictions, crime, homosexuality, etc., and their praise was on fire. I replied and asked if they were on stage already? He replied that they weren’t up yet but they were worshipping from their seats and on their knees, praising hard and being radical. That stirred me a little.
Shortly thereafter, he sent me another message to say that the group was just getting up. Okay, I was sold now. Since the venue was less than 10 minutes from my house, there was little reason for me to miss it. Besides, I was feeling that tug in my spirit that says that the Lord wanted me to see something.
What I experienced tonight was revolutionary. I saw these kids, from teenagers to early 20s, who were walking in the kind of deliverance that I grew up around. These young people sang under an intense anointing! Their music was amazing. The band was off the chain. The vocals were tight. But, the WORSHIP!!! The worship was so infectious. The songs were incredibly powerful. They spoke of the delivering power of God and the freedom that He brings.
The group was led by Eddie James. I felt pretty stupid that I hadn’t heard of him before tonight. This worship experience included a 9-piece band, more than 7 vocalists, dancers – male dancers who didn’t dance in any way that looked gay. These people brought it! The night went from amazing song to amazing song. We danced, we bowed, we wept, we shouted, we lifted our hands, we leaped, we danced some more.
Then there was a moment when Eddie let about nine of the young people who were with him share their testimonies. Each of them briefly told us what God had delivered them from. As I stood there listening, I thought about how powerful these testimonies were for the people in the audience. It made the people on the stage much more tangible. It made them human. It gave their radical worship even more credibility. But I also thought about how important it was for the young people on the stage. When you share your testimony publicly, you make a declaration that you have no intention of returning to the old lifestyle. It reaffirms your commitment to the freedom you’ve now found in Christ. Furthermore, it puts you on blast. It makes you feel obligated all over again to live the life that you are now declaring. And, finally, it backs the devil up in a corner. It reminds him and you of the fact that you have been set free by the power of Christ. Yes… the bible declares that the devil is overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.
So, the testimony time was followed by the most incredible altar call I’ve ever seen at a concert. Many people came to the altar for salvation. The singers and some of the band members came down and worked at the altar, praying with those who came up for salvation as well as those who came up for deliverance. This took me back to my days in revivals with my mother in South Carolina. This was an altar call with fervency and power. People did more than recite the sinner’s prayer. They prayed with these people until yokes were destroyed, deliverance came and people were set free.
To top it all off, the most amazing thing happened. The pastor of the church had some of their ministers and altar workers go up and prepare the baptism pool. And many people who gave their lives to Jesus went up to be immediately baptized. I am still amazed.
But the reason I was challenged is because I saw someone effectively using the tool of music to bring people beyond the veil, and not letting them leave with just a feeling or a touch. He was pulling people to the cross and compelling them to let the Savior change them. And people responded. Eddie was provoking change and deliverance. He wasn’t just being an artist. He was totally focused on worshipping until the power came and then using the power to bring change to the lives of people who needed a change.
As an artist, I can easily be drawn into the music and the art and overlook the need to be focused on the deliverance that needs to take place. My pastor preached a message a week ago that described how so many people today are demon possessed, displaying the same characteristics that demon possessed people in the bible displayed. But we can be so shallow in our spirituality that we overlook their condition and never use the power of Christ to cast those spirits out.
What am I doing? This is my challenge. Am I just making music so that people will join me in worshipping Jesus? Is that all that God wants from me? Doesn’t he want to use me to bring deliverance to his people? Jesus didn’t just provoke worship. He provoked change. Should I aspire to be like the wonderful worship leaders I see or should I aspire to be like Christ? Should we stop at the worship and the presence or should we press in until we see change?
I am challenged to stop stopping when we enter the presence. I am challenged to now press in until I hear the popping and clinking of yokes being destroyed and falling off. I am challenged to compel people to not just gaze at the cross but to grab hold of it until there is a difference. I am challenged to stop being shallow in my thinking, stop being shallow in my prayer, stop being shallow in my pursuit of God. I am challenged to reach for something fresh, something new, something different. There are enough worship leaders… I need to be exactly the thing God created me to be.
And I will know for sure that I have arrived when I get there.