Are You Missing Out?

by Kiplin Batchelor

“But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, ‘Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?’ This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it” (John 12:4-6).

Judas said a good thing! Feeding the poor is kind, noble and praiseworthy. Who would not be impressed by such thoughtfulness for the less fortunate in society? To an undiscerning person, Judas is—at this time—a champion of social justice and a lover of the poor. However Jesus, Who always sees much deeper than what worshippers advertise, saw the hidden deceit behind Judas’ beautiful facade. Judas spoke with apparent compassion, but the truth is, while Mary bowed before Jesus in vulnerable and selfless worship, Jesus’ treasurer stood tall in self!

We often don’t think of a worship setting for something like this, but how many times do people say beautiful words that are intended to impress others, so they are perceived to be more than they really are? Judas could have kept silent as a mere observer in the room, but he opened his mouth and revealed his hidden deceit in the midst of worship. He not only wanted money, he wanted to appear good to Jesus and the influential crowd of Pharisees at dinner.

Judas is a humbling reminder that the stench of a wrong motive can be present while the fragrance of worship fills a room; Judas is a timely reminder that a worshipper’s heart can shift from Jesus the Divine treasure and be preoccupied with earthly Roman coins while doing ministry. He is a reminder that one’s proximity to Jesus doesn’t guarantee or equate to intimacy—we can be in the same room with Jesus, but our heart can be a thousand miles away. The difference between Mary and Judas is the difference between impressing people or loving Jesus, and all true worshippers must crossover to loving, if worship is truly worship.

Judas cheapens an opportunity to worship! Although his words may have impressed those who were close enough, it must have been disheartening for Jesus to hear his own inner-circle-follower market a great idea and a lovely self image—yet, all the while concealing theft, misappropriation of funds and betrayal. Unfortunately, Judas missed an incredible moment to join Mary in selfless worship at Jesus’ feet! Instead of being a participant who captures and seizes a moment in extravagant worship, he became a subtle, undermining critic! Like Michal who labeled David’s worshipful dance as undignified, Judas labeled Mary’s worshipful gift as a waste. What led him to think Jesus wasn’t worth a year’s salary? I have come to realize that those who struggle with God’s worth always struggle with worship. These are always the first to criticize and attack those who pour out all at the feet of His Majesty.

What is equally powerful in this story and many others in the Bible is that Jesus is not afraid, offended or incensed at His children displaying varying expressions in worship. The God of simple and quiet reflective moments in silence before Him is also the God of the exuberant and passionate worship. When He told the religious group to leave Mary alone, He allowed her to be unconventional, undignified, unrehearsed and unperturbed by her elitist environment, her terrible past and by the propriety that filled the room. Real worship kills self image, and it must do so, or we will see ourselves more than we see Him when He shows up.

Simon the Pharisee entertained Jesus over a meal, and Judas was distracted, but Mary bypassed all the pretentiousness and superficiality at the dinner and made worship her priority. One man invited Jesus to a meal, but one woman worshipped Him at that meal — there is a big difference! We must go beyond entertaining Jesus in our lovely auditoriums and actually worship without thinking our passionate expressions are too much. Mary saw her opportunity to worship Jesus, and she took it. Will you do the same? Don’t miss out on your opportunity to worship Him!

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Worship At A Higher Level

by LaMar Boschman

Recently, a well-known worship leader and CFNI graduate came to me with tears in her eyes. She said, “God has blessed me with favor and notoriety in my country. Young people see that and tell me they want to be famous like me. But I tell them I began as a worship leader in my local church; I just wanted to lead people into God’s presence.” Many young, aspiring musicians have the wrong impression of what worship is. Perhaps they have not been taught worship’s true essence. There is more to experience in worship than what we have today.

HIGHER GROUND

In my spirit I hear the Lord’s Bride cry out for a higher level of worship, where time passes quickly in His Eternal presence. It is worship beyond mortal music making and an encounter with celestial music makers in Heaven. It is a realm beyond the worship rhetoric of men and closer to worship lyrics of seraphs. It is a place where your spirit takes wings, and you hear the lyrics that cherubs sing.

There is a higher place of worship where singers lay prostrate and musicians fall upon their guitars crying, “Holy, Holy, Holy!” At this level, the worship of the people overpowers the performance on the platform. It is where worshipers sing outside the arrangement and musicians color outside the lines, because they see the Lord high and lifted up! It is about Jesus singing to His Father in the midst of His people, and we join His song.

It is a realm where Heaven and Earth kiss and signs and wonders break out, revealing that God is among us in power. It is a realm of worship where we don’t want it to stop, we feel so satisfied and content.

GOING HIGHER

Have you experienced that higher worship? Do you long for it? Do you know how to get there? I ask because some leaders or believers don’t. They might have tasted it. Enjoyed it. Wanted more of it. Prayed for it. But do they know what spiritual principles took them to that dimension?

I have discovered three things that will take you to a higher level of worship.

  1. Look up! The worship in Heaven is perfect, just like God likes it. Explore Heaven’s worship music — its characteristics, dynamics and content.

2. Study the principles of worship and music in the Bible. Take a course on the theology of worship or music and learn from the over one thousand mentions of music in the Bible.

 

3. Seek God in worship and prayer. Ask Him to show you the higher realm of worship. Without exception most revivals occurred as people hungered for God and waited on Him in song. In other words, when renewal comes, so do higher levels of worship and music making.

LaMar Boschman is a prolific author, keynote speaker and an adjunct teacher at CFNI for The Theology of Music and the Theology of Worship. He is a mentor to young leaders around the world. LaMarBoschman.com

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Melody of Love

CFNI 42nd Live Worship Recording

by Maria Erokhina

Music is powerful. It accompanies us through joy and pain, victories and loss. Music can reopen old wounds and yet bring healing, it can kindle a flame in one’s heart and cause tears to flow, drive a soul toward hopelessness or fill it with hope—all within moments.

Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God in your midst … He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Have you ever heard God sing to you? On February 10, Christ For The Nations captured this unique, pure, beautiful sound coming from the Father’s heart in our new worship album, Melody of Love.

CFNI starts every day with worship. During our morning chapels, countless students have had life-changing encounters with God. These encounters revealed their destinies and lit a fire in them that they now spread in the nations by serving as missionaries, church-planters, standing up for justice and being the voice of truth in the marketplace. Phil King, CFNI student and one of the worship leaders featured on Melody of Love, said, “This live recording was an extension of what we experience every day in chapel. The whole reason we hit ‘record’ was to capture it and send it out.”

Melody of Love is a compilation of 13 songs, most of which were written by CFNI students and alumni. Gabriel Allred, Phil King, Maddy Hunt, Jordan Stewart, Hannah Holland, Robert Quintana, Faith Schneider, Kiplin Batchelor, Stephen Azan and others, in cooperation with a featured guest, Leeland Mooring, brought this project to life. The creators of the album said that it took a miracle to prepare for the recording in a short period of time. They recall, “We would often sit down together in faith and pray, ‘Lord, we’re recording in a few weeks. We need songs.’” Time after time, God gave them words and melodies.

The title track, Melody of Love, was birthed as a result of such prayers and collaboration. It started with the line that Leeland played: “I hear you singing over me a melody of love.” Maddy Hunt, David Moore and Phil King contributed their ideas and this beautiful anthem about God’s unstoppable affection for His children was created. It starts with the words, “You have searched and known me, set Your eyes upon me. I am undone …”

Another song, Burn Spirit of God, that quickly became a favorite among CFNI students, was literally born in the shower. Phil King was getting ready to go to bed after a long day, when God dropped into his heart, “Burn Spirit of God, come fill my lungs with praise. Burn Fire of God, come seal my heart with a flame.” This song talks about offering ourselves as a living sacrifice to God and placing our lives on the altar where His fire sets us ablaze.

Incredible Love was written by two friends, Kiplin Batchelor and Stephen Azan, former CFNI students who now serve on staff at Christ For The Nations. They prayed and asked the Lord to give them a revelation of His love. Kiplin recalls, “As we were exploring the theme of love in the Bible, we were astonished to realize that love had existed before Adam and Eve met in the garden. We exist because the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Who are love, said, ‘Let’s create …’ That’s where these lyrics came from—‘Before the universe was formed, the Trinity sat enthroned in Love … Love has always been, and love will always be …’

This song carries the message of God’s incredible, selfless, timeless love that is not defined by gender, skin color, the level of your education or social status. This love gave His life for you, and it still pursues you, even when you’re at your worst.”

Some of the songs in this album came from deep places of overcoming and finding healing. Jordan Stewart was raised in a Christian home and was faithfully serving God, while keeping a terrible secret that impacted every part of her life. At five years old she was molested in the school bathroom. She confesses, “I was broken and depressed. I even contemplated suicide a few times.”

One night Jordan decided to get honest with the Lord about the things that caused her so much pain. Right then she felt an urge to go to the piano, and Take Us In came forth. God used this song to speak healing and restoration over her life. Over the years, Jordan has seen it minister to many people, helping them experience salvation and deliverance.

Nine years ago, I was singing Take Us In from brokenness. Now I’m singing it from freedom. This song reminds me of what God has done for me. It says, “You have broken the divide and You silence every lie, You trade our shame for robes of white.”

The two themes in this album are God’s passionate pursuit of our hearts and our response to His call. Both are tied closely together—when we taste God’s goodness, “Fill me, send me, I’ll go” becomes our willful choice and a joyful response.

Phil King says, “When I was a little kid, I used to hold the globe and weep over it, saying, ‘God, use me to touch the nations of the Earth.’ I felt such a strong, supernatural, fiery love for them. On the night of the recording, when we sang all these songs about going out and touching the nations, laying down our lives for the Great Commission, it was amazing to see CFNI students coming from over 60 countries to worship together. It was a dream come true.”

Christ For The Nations has been recording live worship albums for 42 years. Our songs have been translated and sung all around the world, touching thousands of lives and bringing God’s presence into countless homes, churches, cities and countries.

As you listen to Melody of Love, we pray that your heart will be open to hear the love song that’s coming from the Father’s heart.

To purchase Melody of Love, go to cfnmusic.com/42.

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CFNI Live Recording 42: Melody of Love

On February 10, hundreds of CFNI students, alumni, staff and Campus Days guests gathered in the Institute Building to be a part of the 42nd annual live worship recording. Our live recordings are always a highly anticipated event at Christ For The Nations, as worship is one of the foundational pillars of our ministry.

The dream of CFN’s founders, Gordon and Freda Lindsay, was to reach every tribe and nation with the message and power of the Gospel. One of the ways this vision has come to pass is through the worship music that comes out of Christ For The Nations. Over the years, songs from CFN have been translated in many different languages and have been sung all around the globe, touching thousands of lives.

Worship songs have a unique ability to capture the atmosphere of God’s presence and recreate it in homes, churches, cities and even countries. Phil King, one of the worship leaders featured on the album, gave voice to this: “This live recording was an extension of what we experience every day in chapel. The whole reason we hit ‘record’ was to capture it and send it out.”

Our 42nd live album, Melody of Love, is focused on two major themes: Songs like, There Is No One Like You, Melody of Love, There Is No Striving, Take Us In, and Incredible Love, talk about our passionate pursuit of God and knowing the depths of His love for us. The second part of the album features songs such as Every Tribe-Every Nation, I Give It All, Burn Spirit of God, and Let The Nations Rise, which encourage us to share this love with the world and to lift the name of Jesus in every nation.

What makes this live recording truly special is that most of the songs were written by CFNI students and alumni. Phil King, Jordan Stewart, Maddy Hunt, Kiplin Batchelor and others, in cooperation with a featured guest, Leeland Mooring, brought this project to life. Every song is a part of their lives and has a special story behind it. “We wanted to give songwriting back to the students,” said Robert Quintana, CFNI’s Creative Director.

Those gathered in the CFNI Institute Building the night of the recording experienced the powerful and gentle touch of God. One of the attendees, CFNI alumna, Celeste Ramirez, said, “CFNI does it again, making history and creating a beautiful sound of worship! One of the best albums yet! CFNI is a unique place where God’s presence is experienced daily in such a beautiful and humble way. This place holds so many memories and life-changing moments for me in times of worship … The Presence last night was just incredible!”

We pray that this recording will help you hear the Melody Of Love coming from the Father’s heart.

Mark your calendar for the album release on May 5!

Preorder Melody of Love today at cfnmusic.com/42.

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Nicole C. Mullen At CFNI

CFNI Hosts Award-Winning Recording Artist Nicole C. Mullen At Night of Worship

Oct. 16, 2015, at 7:30 p.m., Christ For The Nations Institute (CFNI) will host their monthly Night of Worship with special guest Nicole C. Mullen on the CFNI campus in the Institute Building or IB.

Nicole C. Mullen is an alumna of CFNI and a Grammy and Dove award-winning recording artist. As a special guest of the CFNI worship team, Nicole will bring her energy, passion and love for Jesus to this worship experience. Fans of Nicole and those who are just looking for an opportunity to enter the Presence of God and get refreshed will want to be a part of this special Night of Worship.

Every month, on the second Friday of the month, CFNI provides a free worship event for anyone who wishes to participate because worship is foundational at CFNI. Creating a thirst for God’s presence and giving an opportunity to be in His presence is the focus of this monthly worship experience.

EVENT:

NIGHT OF WORSHIP WITH SPECIAL GUEST NICOLE C. MULLEN

Oct. 16, 2015, 7:30 p.m.

CFNI Institute Building
3315 Conway St
Dallas, TX 75224

Nicole Coleman Mullen Bio

nicole-portraitFew artists in any genre of music possess a more diverse resume than Nicole C. Mullen. Songwriting has always been one of Mullen’s most treasured gifts, and through infusing scripture into the songs she writes, she’s used it as a vehicle to encourage, inspire and to teach. From her early days as a background vocalist/dancer/choreographer to writing and recording such classic hits as “Redeemer” to mentoring young women through her Baby Girls Club, Mullen’s creativity and compassion have fueled a life of ministry that has had global impact. Mullen has long channeled her considerable energy into not just sharing the gospel, but living it.

This has never been more evident as Nicole mentors youngsters in her Baby Girls Club, “Mentorship is our way of investing in young people with the hope of Christ and practical experiences,” says Mullen. “We’ve also had the opportunity to help others around the world set up similar clubs. We’ve started a Baby Girls and Champions club in the country of Belize, and a like model in Zambia, with hopes of further expansion. I believe we have a great opportunity to affect the future of our nation and the future of our world.”

Nicole-15Mullen has long been known as an undeniably talented artist who is unafraid to be vulnerable and transparent with her audience. That sincerity and artistic integrity have been recognized with two Grammy® Award nominations and seven Gospel Music Association Dove Awards, including two Female Vocalist of the Year honors, Song of Year for “Redeemer,” and “On My Knees,” Songwriter of the Year and the Urban Album of the Year for “Everyday People,” Contemporary Song of the Year for “Call on Jesus,” and by becoming the first African American to win Songwriter of the Year. She has toured all over the globe, becoming a highly sought after speaker and singer, and has frequently graced the stage at Billy Graham and Women of Faith events.

A Greater plan has taken Nicole C. Mullen down many interesting roads and encompassed a variety of roles. She’s a mother, singer, songwriter, speaker and a successful business woman as well as a mentor. “I really feel like God set his love upon me at an early age and it was something that I could not have earned. I didn’t deserve it. I was not talented enough to merit His gaze, but He gave it to me. By this I am reminded of his love towards all of us. Like the Bible says, ‘while we were yet sinners, He died for us.’ I love and worship Him because He loved me first.”

Website: nicolecmullen.com

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Faithful: A Worship Experience

By Kelly Head

Christ For The Nations is set to release its much-anticipated annual worship album, Faithful, which is available for purchase Sept. 11.

The album is filled with songs, hymns and spiritual songs reminiscent of the deeply spiritual worship songs from times past. “It was inspired by the desire to appeal to worshippers of all ages,” said CFNI Worship Director Jonathan Lewis, who served as the worship leader for the album. “I wanted to do something that everyone from the young CFNI students, many in their late teens, to my grandparents, who are in their eighties, would love to worship to,” said Lewis.

cfnmusic-faithful-pt1The worship album that resulted is focused on the music, the voices and the stories behind the songs. Part of Lewis’ vision for this worship album was to invite guest singers who had lived through experiences that proved God’s faithfulness. The testimonies of God’s goodness on this album will inspire and ignite faith. He shares, “I wanted this night of worship (when we recorded Faithful) to give us a chance to come and worship together, so that by the time we left, our faith would just be incredibly strengthened by how powerful our God is and how strong and faithful He is. I believe this comes through on Faithful.”

The guest singers presented testimonies including God’s preservation through a life-or-death struggle with cancer and an almost fatal heart condition that cost a drummer one hand and most of his remaining fingers. (See their stories of faith in the following pages.) Noted worship leader Tommy Walker, an alumnus of CFNI, also joined in the recordings in story and song, as did the CFNI choir, which represented believers and nationalities from around the world.

“There is real power in testimony — inherent in the meaning of the word is God’s desire to do it again, to reproduce in the life of those who hear it. So to have these people who really walked with God from the battle lines, but experienced the Lord bringing them to a place of triumph, it just adds another dimension to this album,” said Kiplin Batchelor, assistant worship director and fellow worship leader on the album. “When people hear the stories and participate in the worship from that overcoming place of faith, they will experience an incredible reminder of His faithfulness, too. Faithful, we believe, will infuse them with courage and the endurance to stand and see the miracle-working power of the Lord in their lives.”

Lewis said, “Captured on the album is the same thing we felt that night —how great our God is and how faithful He is.” And this is what makes this album important — it is a musical representation of the faithfulness of God and for the listener it will give a continuous reminder of how God has been, and will always be, faithful.

The album is set to release Sept. 11 and it is the first of a two-part series. The accompanying DVD will be coming soon. To order the CD, go to cfn.org/faithful.

TOMMY WALKER

tommy-walkerFaithful, the latest CFNI live album recording, included special guest Tommy Walker, CFNI alumnus, worship leader and the author of more than 200 worship songs including “He Knows My Name,” “Mourning Into Dancing” and “Only A God Like You.” He attended CFNI in the 1980s and credits his time with the CFNI worship group, Living Praise, as the inspiration that helped him discover his passion for worshipping God. His first “hit” song that traveled the world, “Only You,” was written while he was a student worshipper. “CFNI provided the seed for what was to come in my life, for what God was going to do in my life. As a songwriter and worship leader, I got my start here. I am so thankful that I can come here, 32 years later, and lead worship again.” Tommy led worship for two songs on the Faithful album, “Only You” and “I Love The Lord.”

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Cancer Free

By Michelle Ofori-Ansah

The music lowered and all eyes were on the slim, bent figure that walked onto the stage at the recording of Faithful in April. It took a moment for most of the crowd to recognize that it was their beloved CFNI instructor, Michael Massa, who was coming to sing a song of worship!

One of the first worship leaders at the Institute and a beloved mentor, pastor and teacher to thousands of students, faculty and staff through the years came to sing the song “Father God,” despite his loss of strength after a horrifying diagnosis.

Many were shocked because just a few months earlier Massa shared that he was in a life-or-death struggle with cancer. At the time of the recording, Massa was finishing up chemotherapy, still frail and needing help to stand on the stage, but he was confident in his triumphant testimony of God’s healing work through prayer and medicine. Now, he is cancer free, and his story encourages us that God is faithful to us even through difficult circumstances.

mmassaMassa’s symptoms began with severe pain in his abdomen. His doctor originally thought it was just an overgrowth of bacteria in his GI-tract. Over the next month, his symptoms grew worse and rather than proactively determining what the issue was, he just ignored it. “I realized later I was afraid of finding out what the problem really was,” he said.

Finally, he returned to the doctor who found a mass in his abdomen. Massa wanted to wait for treatment as his youngest son’s wedding was around the corner (and he was officiating). But a couple of weeks after the diagnosis his wife Nancy and their family realized he was in much worse shape than he was acknowledging so they quickly took him to the emergency room. At this point, he had lost 70 pounds due to extreme pain and lack of appetite. Within 30 minutes of entering the hospital, he was admitted to the ICU and he didn’t leave for eight days. “The doctor told me that I was within two days of dying, so Jesus saved my life in spite of my stubbornness and in spite of my fear. He was still faithful to His promises to me, even though I wasn’t aware of my great need,” he declared.

Massa was diagnosed with lymphoma, a large mass in his abdomen. But he always knew that God was not the source of this disease. “I know the enemy attacked me. The sickness did not come from the Lord,” he said. The couple stood in faith for his healing. At the same time, they pressed forward with the recommendations of their doctor, including chemotherapy. Unfortunately, there were serious side effects he had to deal with. “One medication I was on would cause panic attacks and extreme anxiety especially in the evening. That had never been a problem for me; it’s just not in my nature. But now I would be like a 3-year-old, who was afraid of the dark, lying in bed trembling and terrified. Nancy would come, embrace me and stay with me. This happened over and over again for a couple of weeks. I am convinced that the drugs were opening me up to a spiritual attack, and that demonic activity was taking advantage of this season.”

“Nancy and I are convinced that healing came to us through the prayers of the CFNI student body . . . There was a substantial spiritual awareness that God was daily carrying us.”

At this time, his support was his wife, who would pray with him, for him and against these spiritual forces of fear. But he also felt the prayers of family, friends and more importantly the CFNI student body who saw Massa as a member of their own family. “Nancy and I are convinced that healing came to us through the prayers of the CFNI student body. There were others praying, but the student body was praying consistently, day after day. There was a substantial spiritual awareness that God was daily carrying us.” They stood on God’s Word for healing and through the love and prayers of CFNI students, they walked through the various stages of chemotherapy, including further weight loss, hair loss and weakness.

Now cancer free and on the other side of this ordeal, Massa gives his perspective on this unexpected detour. “Throughout this journey, I never had a moment where I was upset with God because I didn’t see it as coming from Him. I was always aware that these mutating cancer cells are fighting the processes the Lord has established for our health. They are rebellious to the will of God in my body. My testimony is that there is no cancer in my body! I’m gaining new strength all the time, and I have gained 30 of the lost pounds back—I don’t actually want all 70 pounds back!” he joked.

“I want to say thank you to everyone who prayed for me, and to let you know that God is absolutely trustworthy. Don’t ever doubt when you’re praying for someone, but believe that God hears you and responds just like He did for me,” he encouraged.

Michael Massa is an instructor and the Institute Chaplain at CFNI. Michael’s ministry is called Convergence Ministries, which serves leaders and churches. He and his wife, Nancy, live in the Dallas area and have four children and two grandchildren.

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Unstoppable Worship

By Michelle Ofori-Ansah 

One of the incredible aspects of the current CFNI worship album, Faithful, is the inclusion of the drumming worshipper who was almost silenced by the loss of his entire hand and several fingers on his remaining hand due to a rare disease. To lose your hand and fingers is difficult to imagine but becomes almost unfathomable for one whose calling is to be a drummer. Yet, Scott Grimsley still finds a way to drum and worship today, most recently drumming on the new CFNI worship album recorded in April. His life shows the grace of God shining even in difficult circumstances and proves that anything is possible with God.

scott-drumming“I have always felt more connected with God when I’m drumming and worshipping. I’ve always felt drumming was a gift God has given me, and a tool God wanted me to use to glorify Him and to reach people,” Scott shared.

Scott is a graduate of Christ For The Nations Institute who was newly married when he first fell sick in November 2013. He thought it was the flu. However, he was not eating, was confused, had blurry vision, and his wife, Holly, knew something more serious than the flu was wrong with him. She decided to take him to the hospital and after performing several tests, the doctors discovered a rare heart defect. Although he was unaware of it, Scott had had it from birth. This defect had been exploited by a bacterial infection. Bacteria built up in the weakened area of his heart while his heart continued working away, pumping blood and with it infection throughout his entire body.

Scott describes, “The bacteria went into my brain and caused me to have mini-strokes, starting while I was at home. This was why I had blurry vision and was confused.” The doctors struggled to treat this aggressive infection, trying multiple antibiotics, but his condition deteriorated. His hands started to turn black, and they discovered blood clots in his arms that were blocking the blood flow to his hands. “My body was shutting down. I was in liver failure, kidney failure and heart failure all at the same time. Fortunately, the doctors were able to remove the blood clots. If they hadn’t been able to do that, I would have lost my arms,” Scott said.

While his arms had been saved, his hands were still in danger, and the root issue of infection had not been dealt with. The next step was heart surgery. The doctors had to remove the infection from his heart before it killed him, but Scott needed a specialized heart hospital in order to perform this delicate surgery. The plan was to airlift him to the closest heart hospital, just a few minutes away. However, before this emergency flight, the doctors informed Holly that he might not make it through the flight. “They told me that he was very unstable and there was nothing they could do if his heart stopped on the flight. I was told to say my goodbyes because I might not see him again,” said Holly. She lay next to Scott on his hospital bed with tears flowing down her face. She knew this might be her last time with her husband. Yet somehow she felt a supernatural peace. “Despite the doctors’ report, I knew that Scott was going to be okay,” she said. “God just asked me to trust Him.”

Scott made it to Baylor Plano Heart Hospital and had a successful open heart surgery, but at this point, his hands were still black, the tissue dead. “I had multiple surgeries that performed my amputations. I lost four fingers on my left hand and the surgeon tried to save the right hand, but he ended up having to amputate it because there wasn’t any good tissue on the hand.” Scott spent a month recovering in the Intensive Care Unit, waking to the confusing sight of his lost hand and fingers. Scott’s first thought upon realizing his losses was that he wouldn’t be able to drum anymore. “There were times I felt, ‘Why me? Why is this happening to me?’” Holly describes, “It was so difficult to watch him struggle with the simple, daily things of life, and to know that this was the new normal. We were so young, and even though I know bad things happen to people every day, this was just so totally unexpected.”

Amazingly, Scott wasn’t overwhelmed by bitterness or anger. Scott shares, “I began to think about how God had been there the whole time, how He had been faithful through everything. This situation was not from Him — He didn’t cause it— but He was going to even work this out for my good.”

scott-hospitalOne story of God’s faithfulness and love that Scott remembers from early in his stay in the hospital came before the open heart surgery when he was very close to death. A nurse came in to check on his vitals and Scott asked his name; it was Daniel. Scott shares, “Immediately, God spoke to my heart the words ‘Daniel and the lion’s den.’ He said, ‘Scott, this is your lion’s den. You are Daniel and there are things all around you that want to destroy you. But I am not going to let that happen. I am going to rescue you from this, and you are going to come out better and stronger. I am going to use you and your story.’”

This word from God helped to sustain Scott even after the amputations. He had to relearn how to walk, to use his arms, to feed himself and cope without the hand and fingers he no longer had. He describes nights in rehab when the pain and fatigue would be intense, and his courage and faith would start to ebb. “Whenever I would start to get depressed or sad about what I was going through, I would put on worship music and focus on God. He would comfort me and give me peace saying, ‘Scott, I am here. I haven’t left you.’” Holly says, “Without him having that amazing strength and trust in God, things could have been much harder.” One day, Scott and Holly were driving home from church, and Scott was depressed. “I was sad because I didn’t think I could drum again, but then I had an idea. I said to Holly, ‘Wrap a bandage around the sticks on my hands. I want try to drum that way.’ She did and I could!”

Then they began their search for an actual prosthetic that would enable Scott to fulfill his calling as a drumming worshipper. The first company they approached was doubtful it could be made at all. But God led them to a company that agreed to try. They collaborated with Scott and created the first-ever, drumming prosthetic. This simple prosthetic allows Scott to use his drumsticks and continue his lifestyle of worship.

scott-weddingHis story is a picture of the sustaining power of God’s grace. Scott declares, “Absolutely nothing is impossible; you can do anything with God. No matter what you go through, God is always there, and He is always faithful. Even if it doesn’t seem like He is there, you will look back and see that God is there holding your hand and standing by your side the whole way through. That is exactly what He did for me and I am still here, still playing drums, and I always will.”

 

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Encountering Jesus with Kim Walker-Smith

By Belinda Elliott 

IMG_2578Kim Walker-Smith, of Jesus Culture, has led worship around the world, but she wasn’t always as confident as she is today. She recalls her young adult years as filled with insecurity and ruled by fear. Often, she was afraid to leave her house, whether that meant traveling overseas or just heading across town to meet friends. 

From a young age, she says, she also questioned her self-worth. Believing her parents wanted a son, she hid deep within her heart the idea that she was a mistake and never should have been born. It wasn’t until she had an amazing encounter with Christ that she began a journey of healing.

Through two incredible visions, God revealed to her how much He loved her. In one, He demonstrated the amount of His love with arms that stretched beyond what she could see. In another, He revealed that much like a father admiring the antics of a toddler, He delights in her, and she brings Him great joy.

She longs for everyone to have similar encounters with Jesus, to understand that God wants to partner with us as we fulfill the plans He has for our lives and that He wants us to be successful. “God doesn’t take the dreams in your heart and the plans He has for you and dangle them in front of you saying, ‘Look what you could have. I hope you get there. Good luck. Maybe you’ll make it,'” she says. “God wants you to get there and flourish. He wants you to do it well.”

For that to happen, we must cultivate our relationship with Him. “It doesn’t matter that you know that Jesus loves you because you learned it in Bible school,” Walker-Smith explains. “To actually have a real relationship with Jesus, to know Him, to know His voice, to partner with Him, to fall in love with Him . . . that’s what He desires.”

To thrive in this partnership with God, she says, there are four principles we must embrace. Each one hinges on falling more in love with Christ.

WHAT YOU BELIEVE MATTERS 

Do you believe God is a loving Father who wants nothing but the best for you? Do you believe that He is good all the time? “This kind of belief requires total trust and total surrender,” Walker-Smith says.

Storms will come that test these beliefs. The only way we can hold to our faith is to remember what we know to be true about God. His love and our deep relationship with Him are the things we can cling to.

She points to the biblical account of Peter walking on water until he looks at the storm raging around him and starts to sink. “The moment you take your eyes off Jesus and put all your attention on those circumstances that’s the moment you begin to sink,” she says. “There can be no louder voice than His voice in your life. This is how we can walk through the storms.”

DO NOT FEAR 

“The more in love with Jesus you are, the more fear dissipates in your life, because perfect love casts out all fear,” Walker-Smith explains. “Falling in love with Jesus should come with a warning label that says, ‘You might do crazy things.'”

A freedom from fear is needed to accomplish God’s plans for us, because He often calls us to do things that seem far beyond our capabilities. “When fear becomes broken off in your life, that dream you have is not too big,” she says.

IMG_8908“Right now, you might be thinking about that dream asking, ‘How could I ever do that? How could I ever raise that money? How could I ever make it to that country?’ But when you are a crazy person in love with Jesus, you look at that and you laugh because you know that there is nothing too big for Jesus.”

DO NOT DISQUALIFY YOURSELF 

Just as she felt unworthy of God’s love, Walker-Smith says she sees Christians distance themselves from God because they don’t think they are good enough for Him to use them. Some may struggle with addiction, anger or other sins, or some may feel their past prevents them from being used by God. She points to 1 John 3:20, which promises, “If our hearts condemn us, we know God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.”

“He is bigger than that voice that says you’ve already ruined it. He’s bigger than all of that and His love is greater than that,” she says. Jesus created us and knows everything about us, yet He still pursues us and longs to partner with us. It all goes back to encountering Christ and His love for us, she says. “One encounter with Jesus is all that it takes for your whole world to change.”

DO NOT BE IMPATIENT 

“Embrace the season you are in,” Walker-Smith advises. Often, we think God has abandoned us when we walk through difficult times. Instead, we need to understand God leads us to those desert places to prepare us for what lies ahead.

“The desert season is about intimacy,” she explains. “He calls us into the desert so we can learn to hear Him in a new way, so we can grow in our intimacy with Him.”

For us to be successful where He wants to take us next there are things He needs us to learn before we get there. She recalls a time in her life when she experienced this. Through a local singing competition, she won an opportunity to audition for the producers of American Idol. Before she auditioned, the Lord told her if she wanted to be on the show, He would give it to her. She decided not to pursue it. Initially, she felt like she had disappointed her friends and family, but she looks back on it as a wise decision.

“If I had gone down that road and I had gone into that realm, I don’t think I would even be a Christian anymore. I was not in a good place. I’d only begun my journey of healing with the Lord,” she says. “It was not time for me to be on a stage. I look back at all those years, and everything that God did in my life prepared me for this moment right now, to be right here.”

Kim Walker-Smith is a passionate worship leader with an anointing to bring an entire generation into an encounter with God. She is one of the worship leaders for the Jesus Culture band. Their current album, Unstoppable Love, is available at jesusculture.com. She is married to Skyler Smith and has two sons, Wyatt and Bear. 

Youth For The Nations is a summer youth camp/conference in Dallas, TX for teens and youth pastors from all around the world to come together and passionately pursue the presence of God. 

IMG_9411Visit youthforthenations.com

The newest release from the Jesus Culture band was recorded live with Kim Walker- Smith during Jesus Culture’s annual Encounter Conference in Sacramento at California’s Historic Memorial Auditorium in January 2014. This album seeks to bring awareness of the unstoppable love of God.unstoppablelove

“Our prayer for this album is that you would encounter the unstoppable, over-the-top, zealous, extravagant love that God has for you,” says Banning Liebscher, Director of Jesus Culture. This significant recording for the Jesus Culture family includes 12 original tracks, coupled with a BluRay Disc that features 13 songs and the concluding message of the conference by Liebscher, “Answering the Call to Prayer.”

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40th Album Released

by Maddy Hunt 

Christ for the Nations Worship released a sound this November. The latest in a significant legacy of worship, Kingdom marks CFNI’s newest, much anticipated 40th album.

The uniqueness of this album started with the live recording. From song selection to the setting of the stage, the recording of the live worship experience captured in Kingdom was marked by fervor and intimacy. The stage setting, featuring exposed light bulbs, tribal rugs, and contrasting cool and warm tones, generated a closeness and anticipation in the audience.

No laser shows in sight, the lilting sounds of a violin gave expression to stirring hearts in a packed auditorium. The focus remained on the Lord during songs such as “Love Has Come,” written by Jonathan Lewis, a moving proclamation of the reality of Jesus’ relentless and present affection for us. As if answering the heart cry of the audience, there were tangible experiences of God’s power. “During the recording, my Campus Days guest worshipping in the balcony was spontaneously baptized in the Holy Spirit and received his prayer language,” shared CFNI alumnus Brad Snyder.

cd_jewelcase_KINGDOM2The album recording captures the flavor and heart of the live worship experience and also the power and presence of God felt by attendees at the recording itself. “God’s presence filled the room. And that same anointing is captured on the live recording,” said Jacob McConnaughy, CFNI student and live recording attendee. The organic tone of the worship experience complemented the songs chosen for the album roster, some of the best yet to emerge out of CFN music.

Some highlights of the songs on the recording include former CFNI worship leader Klaus Kuehn, who made a surprise guest appearance on “The Whole Earth.” Also, student-featured songs included a gritty, declarative rendition of “Spirit Burn” led by Michael Goude, and the powerful, anointed vocals of Johnni Pitscheneder on “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” Worship leaders around the country will enjoy adding songs from Kingdom to their Sunday morning repertoire, especially “Let Us See,” a fantastic upbeat song for corporate praise originally written and performed by CFNI’s Youth for the Nations band.

A milestone in CFN Music and of particular note to fans of CFNI worship, Kingdom marks the end of one era and the start of a new one. Longtime CFNI worship leader Gabriel Allred said goodbye after six years, leaving behind a legacy of faithfulness and excellence. His songs “I Give Myself Away” and “When the Lamb Appears,” a spontaneous song marked by Spirit-led intensity, can be heard on the new album.

To purchase Kingdom on iTunes, click here.

Christ For The Nations’ next live worship recording will take place on April 10th, 2015.

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