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Thoughts on christian faith, worship & life.

Surrender

Posted: February 28th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Thoughts | No Comments »

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You know that feeling when you listen to some songs, you don’t really feel like singing along. Songs like “this is my desire, to honor you. Lord, with all my heart, I worship you” or even classics like “I surrender all”. The question I ask myself is whether I really surrender all or am I keeping things/parts of my life from Him. Sometimes, I feel I don’t surrender all and keep myself from singing those songs. Does that justify my non-surrendered-ness? But then, is surrender even a choice? Sure, it feels like it. I feel I can choose to surrender parts or whole of my life, as I please.

But surrender is not a choice.
We surrender ourselves to our daily routine. To the boss at work. To the family at home. To the kids at school. To the government. To entertainment. We give them what they want. Part of our time, effort or money. They are happy and you feel you have done your part.

God asks us of our lives. Every aspect of it and it suddenly becomes a choice. We feel we have the choice to surrender. We think we are in control of what we want to surrender. As if we can keep things from God. Really!

Surrender is not a choice. It is a privilege.
Surrender is when we take all our affections in the world, outside the world and point it to God. It means – whatever you do, whatever belongs to you, whoever you are, however you are, whenever – it all belongs to Him. It includes your time, your mind, body, soul, spirit, work, family, everything.

Surrender is not a choice. It is a privilege. It is a lifestyle.
It is the choice you make, to do it all for Him. So whatever you do, you do it for Him. Whatever belongs to you, belongs to Him. Whoever you are – your personality, your countenance, the stuff that makes you, you, belongs to Him. How you spend your time, belongs to Him. So, surrender is not about choice – it’s not about what you give to God. Because everything is His, after all. It is about what you are doing with the stuff He’s given you.

You may have talent. What do you do with it? Money? How are you using it? Time? How do you spend it? Relationships? How do you treat them? Surrender is not even about spending time at church, or giving regularly or supporting an orphanage (even though all those things are valid and important). It’s about you and Him. It’s the choice you make to live every moment or every breath for Him. It’s the privilege we all have – to choose God, above all else and live like it.

If surrender was really a choice, it would be about that choice itself.


How to write a daily devotional (and why I am not doing it now)

Posted: January 1st, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Thoughts | No Comments »
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I have a brand new respect for daily devotional writers today. Why? Because I tried writing one myself. In 2010 and 2011. In both years, I was not able to keep up. I first tried the daily devotional format. It was quite exhilarating and overwhelming. I changed it into a weekly format but that became quite challenging too.

Why did I start writing a devotional in the first place? Everytime, my wife and I spend time with the Lord, He reveals something to us and I thought it was a good idea to put it out for everybody. But the problem was not that the Lord was not speaking to us after a while. But writing a devotional requires a skill that goes beyond what was just spoken to you.

From my experience, I identified six parts (ingredients/process) to a devotional (weekly or daily):

  • Ingredient: Bible verse: Every devotional needs to be based on a Bible passage. The Bible was inspired by God and devotionals have to be inspired by the Word of God. You don’t want to write something that you thought up on your own. All devotionals have to have their foundations in the Word of God. There is no compromise there.
  • Ingredient: Introduction or Story: The introduction sets the tone for the rest of the devotional. A good story generally helps in setting the ball rolling. We love stories and starting a devotional with one helps convey the message better than the actual devotional.
  • Ingredient: Subject matter: This links the story with the Bible verse and brings out the truth from the passage.
  • Bake/Cook: Practical application: This is one of the most important part of my writing process. How can the passage be applied practically into our daily lives?
  • Garnishing: Title: A good title always helps in attracting attention to the main content. When writing online content, there is a fine balance of writing to attract readers and optimizing them for search engines.
  • Ready to serve: Prayer: The devotional should end with a prayer that will help people to internalize the concepts/truths of the devotional and what God wants out of them.

Among these six parts, the one I found most challenging was the second ingredient – introduction or stories. I love to start every devotional with a story. But I found that my thirty years of earthly life was not enough to generate any relevant stories for the devotionals.

I was also not able to manage the devotionals along with my regular job and church duties. (I confess, time management is not really my forte!)

Please don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed writing those devotionals. And I hope to do it again some day. But I am hanging that coat for a while. I write these points here to help you, if you are inspired and would like to try your hand at writing devotionals. And if you do, please let me know.

God bless.


Amazed at unbelief

Posted: March 20th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Thoughts, Weekly Devotional | No Comments »
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“And he (Jesus) was amazed at their unbelief.” – Mark 6: 6a (NLT)

Compare that to Luke 7: 9 “When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to the crowd that was following him, he said, “I tell you, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!”

In Mark 6, Jesus was among his family, relatives and the place where He grew up – Nazareth (Mark 6: 1 – 6). But the people there questioned Jesus’ authority – in verses 2, 3 – ““Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?” Then they scoffed, “He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us.” They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him.”

The people of Nazareth and Jesus’ family were used to seeing Jesus for a long time. They knew him as Mary’s son – a carpenter just like his father, Joseph. He had brothers and sisters just like any normal family. But once Jesus’ ministry was revealed and He started working for His heavenly Father, things changed. He started teaching and people would listen. He healed the sick. He had followers and disciples. He took on the religious leaders of His time – challenging their traditions and questioning their motives.

To the rest of the world, Jesus was a beacon of light in their darkness. But in his own hometown, He was just the boy who grew up with them. They were familiar with Jesus and they could not believe.

We are at the same risk in the church, as the people of Nazareth. We could get used to coming to church every Sunday and going for our regular prayer meetings and forget the real reason why we are there. We become engrossed in our own world that we forget how to believe. Have we got used to the way Jesus does things that we don’t expect Him to work in any other way? Remember, He is the God of creation and the God of new beginnings.

We can never know Him so much that we know Him all. We can never fully understand all His ways and never completely comprehend His awesomeness.

David wrote,
“Trust in the Lord and do good.
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart’s desires.
Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust him, and he will help you.
He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn,
and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.
Be still in the presence of the Lord,
and wait patiently for him to act.” – Psalm 37: 3 – 7a

May we never take Jesus for granted but may we always walk in His light. May we depend on His Word for direction. May the Holy Spirit open our eyes and mind to see what He has in store for us, everyday.

(If this thought has blessed you, won’t you let us know? Comment here or send us an email to feedback [at] simplyhim [dot] com)

Did you read the Bible today? Click here to read (This plan is a yearly plan where you can read the full Bible in a single year.)

This thought was part of the Weekly Devotional at SimplyHim.com


I am not waiting for tomorrow

Posted: March 3rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Weekly Devotional | Tags: , , | No Comments »
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Today’s reading is -

Matthew 24: 44 – You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected. (NLT)

Extended reading: Matthew 24: 45 – 51

If there is anything that scares me more, it is the thought that Christ will come when I am most comfortable. Comfortable in my routines, in my daily grind. Because it is when I am most comfortable, I don’t think of Jesus’ coming or His call. After all, I am living my life and seem to be enjoying it.

It is one of Satan’s greatest tricks – to make us comfortable in our lifestyles. We don’t like the intrusions and enjoy our time of peace. The whole process of schooling, education and the rat race is to bring comfort to our everyday lives. To bring food to the table, clothe our bodies, bring that roof over our head. Sometimes, even have another room over it. We live lives comfort to comfort. Once we have achieved a level of comfort, we strive for the next. Bigger cars. Bigger house. Fatter paychecks. We go around looking for the next best thing.

What are we called for? Jesus, before His ascension to heaven, came and told his disciples, I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matt. 28: 18 – 20)

Jesus didn’t tell us to get comfortable. He didn’t say, “Settle down in your lives and you will get your crown!”.

When He addresses the churches in Revelation, listen to His words:
To the church in Ephesus: I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance.” (Revelation 2: 2)
To the church in Smyrna: “
I know about your suffering and your poverty—but you are rich! I know the blasphemy of those opposing you.” (Revelation 2: 9)
To the church in Pergamum:
I know that you live in the city where Satan has his throne, yet you have remained loyal to me. You refused to deny me even when Antipas, my faithful witness, was martyred among you there in Satan’s city.” (Revelation 2: 13)
To the church in Thyatira:
I know all the things you do. I have seen your love, your faith, your service, and your patient endurance. And I can see your constant improvement in all these things.” (Revelation 2: 19)

None of those churches were commended because they led comfortable lives. What makes us think we can get away with it?

We are not called to simply wait for tomorrow. We are to get ready for it!

What do I pray?

Lord, move me. Move this world through me. Open my eyes so I can see Your majesty. I accept Your will in my life and bow down to Your plans for me. Use me for Your glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

(If this thought has blessed you, won’t you let us know? Comment here or send us an email to feedback [at] simplyhim [dot] com)

Did you read the Bible today? Click here to read (This plan is a yearly plan where you can read the full Bible in a single year.)

This thought was part of the Weekly Devotional at SimplyHim.com


Why does God tell us not to fear?

Posted: January 31st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Weekly Devotional | Tags: , | No Comments »
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Today’s reading:
Matthew 10: 28 – 31 – ““Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” (NLT)

Extended reading: Matthew 10

As part of today’s reading, there are two small exercises I would like you to take part in:

  1. Step outside (if you are indoors) (preferably early morning) and watch any bird out there. Watch them for at least 5 – 10 minutes. Watch them as they play around with each other or gather food for their young ones or carry a twig for their nest or simply wait on a tree branch waiting for something/somebody. Write down what you noticed.
  2. Take a shower and make sure you wet your hair. While you are at it, you will notice some of your hair fall. Watch them as they get washed off into the drain. Try and count their numbers.

One of the things I caught myself saying when I watch the birds is, “Man, they have it so easy! Get some food, water and shelter and they seem happy. They don’t seem to be working hard for their daily portions or worrying about upgrading their ride.” God takes care of each of them. He is the One who provides for them. Matthew 10: 29ff reads, “But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.

As I watch my hair falling each day, I am reminded and consoled in the fact that God has an inventory of my hair – the amount of hair on my head and what has fallen off. “..the very hairs on your head are all numbered.” (vs. 30).

I think God mentions these two examples here to point out to us how much He gets into details. Minor details like the hair on our head and the birds that go about their business all around us. If God can care about them, how much more He cares about us? If He keeps an account of all the hair on our head, how much more will He take care of the bigger things in our lives?

The very next statement Jesus makes is – “Do not be afraid”. That is God reassuring us – not to fret, not to worry about how things will go.

Are you willing to trust Him to take care of your lives – no matter the highs and lows? No matter how much hair you have on your head?

What do I pray?

Lord, I trust You. I trust You to lead me. I know you are in control of every moment in my life. I put You in charge. In Jesus’ name.

(If this thought has blessed you, won’t you let us know? Comment here or send us an email to feedback [at] simplyhim [dot] com)

Did you read the Bible today? Click here to read (This plan is a yearly plan where you can read the full Bible in a single year.)

This thought was part of the Weekly Devotional at SimplyHim.com


The Science of Intercession

Posted: January 16th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Weekly Devotional | Tags: , , | No Comments »
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Today’s reading:
Genesis 18: 32, 33 – “Finally, Abraham said, “Lord, please don’t be angry with me if I speak one more time. Suppose only ten are found there?” And the Lord replied, “Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten.” When the Lord had finished his conversation with Abraham, he went on his way, and Abraham returned to his tent.

Genesis 19: 29 – “But God had listened to Abraham’s request and kept Lot safe, removing him from the disaster that engulfed the cities on the plain.“  (NLT)

Extended reading: Genesis 18, 19

Many of us think that a lot of things happen because we pray to God. We take credit for praying. And God, in fact, gives it to us. He asks us to pray. He wants us to pray. (1 Thessalonians 5:17). And he does things based on our prayer.

God instructs his people to pray for cities and cities are saved from destruction. He instructs people to pray for specific persons and God does things for those people. People have prayed for revival and revival has come. Souls have been saved. Sick healed. Miracles, signs and wonders have taken place – because someone prayed.

Abraham was told of what would happen to Sodom and Gomorrah (his nephew, Lot was there). “So the Lord told Abraham, “I have heard a great outcry from Sodom and Gomorrah, because their sin is so flagrant. I am going down to see if their actions are as wicked as I have heard. If not, I want to know”” (Genesis 18: 20). Abraham knew Sodom and Gomorrah didn’t stand a chance. He feared for his brother and family there.

So in the following conversation, we hear him try and cut a deal with God (verses 22 – 32). In my opinion, he got himself a very bad deal. He made the assumption that there would be at least ten righteous people in Sodom and Gomorrah. There may have been only one. Abraham never spoke about Lot to God specifically. He never mentioned his nephew but he prayed for the city.

Fast-forward to Genesis 19 and you find there really is nobody who seeks God in that place. Verses 3 – 17 looks like a scene from those zombie movies, only in this case, these people were not really the living dead.

But I love verse 29 – “But God had listened to Abraham’s request and kept Lot safe, removing him from the disaster that engulfed the cities on the plain.” Wait a minute! Abraham’s request to keep Lot safe? I didn’t read anything like that in Abraham’s prayer in Genesis 18. But God saved Lot anyways and He did it because of Abraham. God saved Lot and his family because of somebody else’s prayers. Abraham’s prayer did not even cover Lot specifically. But God knew Abraham was worried about them. God showed favor on Lot because of Abraham.

God gave Abraham the credit for Lot’s rescue. We know better.

God does that to us too. He offers us a glimpse into other people’s lives. He gives us the burden to see what they are going through. When that happens, two things are supposed to follow:

  • We get on our knees and pray.
  • God takes action on our prayers.

It is a concept we may not understand very often – on why God does things the way he does it. But the concept behind the science of intercession lies in the fact that God is merciful, slow to anger and quick to mercy (Psalm 145: 8). I guess, that is the sole reason why we all stand a chance.

Also, God does not look for specificity from us. He understands that we don’t always know what to pray but He gives us what is best for us. (1 Corinthians 2: 10-12). Remember, it is not important for you to cover everything. But it is important to know the One who knows everything.

Who are you praying for today?

What do I pray?

Lord, help me pray. Help me stand in the gap for the peoples and for this nation. In Jesus’ name.

(If this thought has blessed you, won’t you let us know? Comment here or send us an email to feedback [at] simplyhim [dot] com)

Did you read the Bible today? Click here to read (This plan is a yearly plan where you can read the full Bible in a single year.)

This thought was part of the Weekly Devotional at SimplyHim.com


The Bible this year..

Posted: January 9th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Weekly Devotional | Tags: , | No Comments »
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Today’s reading:
Genesis 1: 1 – 2 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.”  (NLT)

Extended reading: Genesis 1

Last year, I started a daily devotional on this blog. Due to time constraints, I converted it into a weekly devotional. I wouldn’t call myself punctual but I did manage to make 53 posts. Many things happened through those posts. Personally, I grew in the Lord – I was forced to read the Bible more – spend time with Him – gather my thoughts – put them into words and the works. The best part of it is that I don’t regret any moment of it.

Towards the end of the year, I did my first audio podcast, which (surprisingly) got very good feedback. (Thank ya’ll!) And I really want to do it more this year. But I know it is not going to be easy and so I have decided to not restrict my posts if the audio file is not going to be ready. I will just post it as text.

Another thing I start around this time  of the year is the ‘Bible in a year’ reading plan. I have tried different reading plans in the past. This year, I am using the reading plan within my ‘Every Man’s Bible’. I know this is late as I post it. But I thought it would be a good idea to invite anyone who is interested in reading the Bible in a year with me. (I will try and find a plugin we can put on the side of this blog – so it becomes easy for you to keep track of what you are reading every day. )

(Frankly, as of today, I am running late myself. I was supposed to have completed Genesis 15 but I have only read till Genesis 8. So if any of you co-laggards still want to join in, this may be a good time.)

Genesis starts off with the creation story. It starts off with, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” In the beginning of what? The first verse of Genesis does not talk about the creation of this earth and all that within it alone, but the creation of time itself. “In the beginning”.

After God created time, notice what he does. He created. He doesn’t spend time planning or talking or discussing on how the structure of creation was going to be. He took action. He created.

He went about as an artist throwing colors with his brush, stopping in between to check on the bigger picture. He stopped on the sixth day to check on what he had made. “Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!” (Genesis 1: 31)

Very often, we plan to do many things and don’t do it at all. One of the many things we plan or resolve (around the new year) is to read the Bible in a year. We seldom succeed. But there is one thing that keeps me going – keep at it. Because you missed a few days, it does not warrant a reason to stop reading. Continue reading. It is God’s message to you.

If we are God’s children, we should have his behavior. To create. To take action. Do things without hesitation. To move the world for Him. Let’s start with his word.

What do I pray?

Lord, I commit myself in your hands this year. Help me focus on your word and help me complete In Jesus’ name.

(If this thought has blessed you, won’t you let us know? Comment here or send us an email to feedback [at] simplyhim [dot] com)

Did you read the Bible today? Click here to read (This plan is a yearly plan where you can read the full Bible in a single year.)

This thought was part of the Weekly Devotional at SimplyHim.com


Two thoughts as you enter the new year

Posted: December 30th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Weekly Devotional | Tags: , | 1 Comment »
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Today’s reading:
Isaiah 66: 1 – 2 “This is what the Lord says:
“Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
Could you build me a temple as good as that?
Could you build me such a resting place?
My hands have made both heaven and earth;
they and everything in them are mine.
I, the Lord, have spoken!
I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts,
who tremble at my word.
“  (NLT)

Extended reading: Isaiah 65 & 66

As this thought played in my mind, I thought to myself that I could sound like any other preacher from any church or television or radio. But I am not really a preacher. I am just an average guy with a job and who blogs when he finds the time.

I may be an average guy but I believe in a great God. No, really! He is great. (Really!)

As my wife and I read these two chapters today, God started speaking to me through it. He had already put in my heart that something special is going to happen in 2011. And it was not a message that was meant to be exclusively for me – it was meant for a lot of people. Anyone who puts their trust in God. Anyone who is willing to give him a chance.

From the passage, here are the highlights:

  • God will speak.
  • God is big. (Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool.)
  • Nothing we do is going to suffice to win his grace or favor. (Could you build me a temple as good as that? Could you build me such a resting place?)
  • Whatever the circumstance, God is still in control. (My hands have made both heaven and earth;
    they and everything in them are mine.
    )
  • God blesses the humble. (I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts.)
  • Read and meditate on the Word of God. (Who tremble at my word.)

Now I know I said two things you need to know as you enter the new year. I listed six. But if you were to remember two of those points, they would be:

  1. God is big.
  2. He blesses the humble.

So are you ready to put your trust in this BIG God, who can handle any situation you throw at him or any situation you are thrown into? Are you willing to be humble and accept his teaching and instruction?

When God is your yardstick, nothing is too big.

What do I pray?

Lord, I trust You with my life, my future and my all. Help me, Lord. Take control. In Jesus’ name.

(If this thought has blessed you, won’t you let us know? Comment here or send us an email to feedback [at] simplyhim [dot] com)

Did you read the Bible today? Click here to read (This plan is a yearly plan where you can read the full Bible in a single year.)

This thought was part of the Weekly Devotional at SimplyHim.com


What Did Christmas Bring?

Posted: December 25th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Thoughts, Weekly Devotional | Tags: | 3 Comments »
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If you would like to listen to this post, click on the player below.

Audio MP3

or click here to download the mp3 file directly.

Today’s reading:
Luke 2: 20: “The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.” (NLT)

Extended reading: Luke 2: 1 – 20

2000 years ago, history records the most amazing night. It was like most other nights for everybody else. But one family and heaven above would witness something special. Something that both have never experienced before. The family got a child they never planned for. Heaven saw the King of heaven in a manger.

That baby would split history itself into two halves, heal lives, mend brokenness, spread peace, joy and hope. A hope that had a lasting effect even 2000 years after he was born.

The baby was born. The miracle was real. God became man.

We often think of that baby in the manger as quiet and peaceful. Nobody paints the baby Jesus as a crying baby or nursing with his mother or laughing with glee or even peacefully sleeping while his parents are exhausted after the travel and work. The baby in that manger was like any other baby. He was hungry. He wanted to be cuddled. And if he wanted to express his unhappiness, he did just the same thing every other baby does. He cried.

Jesus was no different. But at the same time, he was so unique.

He was God. The God who authored creation, loved them and knew they would never find a solution to the mess they found themselves in. God decided to give us a gift – himself. God informed the wise men as well as the shepherds. He wanted everyone to know

The concept of Christmas lies in one statement – God with us. That was his name – Immanuel. In 700 B.C., God revealed his plan through Isaiah, the prophet “… the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).” (Isaiah 7: 14)

The shepherds went to verify (Luke 2: 15) and they saw the prince of heaven clothed in swaddling clothes and cuddled by his mother.’God of heaven’ had become the ‘God with us’.

They couldn’t keep quiet after all that. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. (Luke 2: 17). The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them. (vs. 20)

For those who don’t understand why christians have to make so much noise about their faith, it is because of that one reason – The ‘God of heaven’ became the ‘God with us’. And we will continue to talk, sing, shout, preach, share the real reason for the season. The joy of heaven came down to us knowing we had no other way to reach home.

Celebrating Christmas on December 25 will not make sense if we don’t celebrate it the rest of year as well.

(If this thought has blessed you, won’t you let us know? Comment here or send us an email to feedback [at] simplyhim [dot] com)

Did you read the Bible today? Click here to read (This plan is a yearly plan where you can read the full Bible in a single year.)

This thought was part of the Weekly Devotional at SimplyHim.com

Picture courtesy: http://www.paristn.net/articles/tag/live-nativity/
Background music on audio: Glory in the Highest by Chris Tomlin from Glory In the Highest – Christmas Songs of Worship album


My worship team won’t practice

Posted: December 22nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Recommended, worship chronicles | Tags: , , | No Comments »
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Paul Baloche has been known for his great instructional videos on music and worship. I own part of his Lead Worship DVD series and I have enjoyed and learned a lot from them.

I came across this great video on Youtube and I am sure a lot of churches, worship leaders and teams will find this worth it.

Direct Youtube Link