Monthly Archives: April 2013

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Welcome to the new jasoncrosslive.com

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photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/barnett/ ©Creative Commons

Well, I finally got around to a blog overhaul. I haven’t done that in over 4 years and there has been a LOT that has happened since then. We are enjoying a new season of ministry here at Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church in Johns Creek, GA. We have made a new home in Roswell, GA and have met many new friends!  I’ve been waiting for a more convenient time and realized that that wasn’t going to happen. So in typical fashion, I laser focused on it (that sounds better than “obsessed”, but that is usually what I do with creative projects) and just got it done. It’s definitely not perfect, but it’s my little corner of the “intranets” and I trust that if you know me, you’ll at least appreciate my efforts, and if you don’t, well, I trust you find something helpful or useful to your life or ministry. If you’re wondering about the name, well, it’s as simple as “jasoncross.com” was taken (evidently by someone even more “geeky” than myself), the suffix “music” just seamed a little too narrow and, well, “live” was a whole lot better than “dead’, I guess. So there you have it.

I’m always learning and have a strong desire for growth in my life. Most of what you find here will just be things that I’ve found out, stolen, borrowed or begged from someone else (with proper credit of course!) and a few random (none dare call them ‘original’) musings of my own. Some that are way smarter than myself claim that everyone is an “expert” at something. If I am, I’m not sure I have figured that out yet. I have been doing the church music thing for a while, though, and have “discovered” (fancy word for a lot of ignorance and trial and error) some things along the way that I’ll share here. I have had the privilege of studying with some of the best there are in church music and my desire is to simply be a conduit of all that has been poured into me while adding any value that I can to it along the way.

Most of my ministry has been leading multi-generational congregations and helping them transition into a worship environment that attempts to encourage the church as well as be sensitive to the presence of those who may be far from God. Some may call this “blended”, but I just prefer to pursue relevant (contextual), multigenerational worship, whatever that may look like. So with that, most of my “professional” posts will revolve around that topic as well as the fact that I’m a “gadget guy”, a music gear aficionado and producer. I’m also a proud dad and husband of the best girls in the whole world  (btw…WAY too much estrogen in my house–anybody got a mountain cabin I could borrow from time to time?) and they might make their way here every so often too.

Thanks for partnering with me in growth and I hope that we can ask good questions together and encourage each other along the way even if we disagree on the answers. I hope you will leave a comment or fill out the poll below and let me know what you would like to see here. Thanks for stopping by!

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Worshipping Through Grief

grief_small_bwWhen we first moved here to the Alpharetta area, one of our members described living here a little like “living in Disney World” and in many senses this is so true. We live in a great community surrounded by beautiful landscapes and the benefits of affluence, hard work and the American Dream. All of us know, however, that no matter where we live on planet earth, there are none of us that are immune to grief. We all suffer loss, whether that be the loss of a business due to a bad economy or the loss of our deepest relationships from disagreements, misunderstandings, or even death. Someone much wiser than I has said, “When times are good, they are rarely as good as we think they are, and when times are bad they are rarely as bad as we think they are.” I really believe that the Scripture would bear this out as well. Our worst of times and best of times will fade quickly compared to the glory that will one day be revealed in us (Rom 8:18). So, with this hope, we rejoice even though we live in a fallen world and even though we see suffering all around us.

Over the last couple of weeks, my heart has shared in the pain of two significant events. A couple of weeks ago, hearing of Rick Warren and family in the loss of their son Matthew to suicide (he suffered from mental illness his entire life)–my heart literally hurt. Rick has been a “pastor to pastors” and has been a pioneer and champion for reaching the unreached and adding value to millions through his books. For any family this would be painful and especially to such a public figure, I knew this would be a tragic loss and one that would meet it’s deal of “haters” from some in the media and mainstream culture. Yet, we have seen the hope of Christ and His Church shine through as many have lifted this family up in prayer and as we have witnessed the testimony of Rick, Kay and the family through social media and personal testimony.

Of course, we all have heard of the bombings in Boston over the last couple of days and our hearts go out to the many families and friends of those that were lost and injured during the blasts. It is so easy to become immune to this as it seems we hear of a bombing somewhere nearly every day. When these tragedies strike so close to home, it is a difficult reminder, however, of the evil that does exist in our world. How can anyone hate that much?

Yet, through the scriptures we also are given several examples of those who also worshipped in the midst of pain.

Job worshipped through grief. Job lived a righteous, God-fearing life. He was blessed by God with a dear family and much material wealth, yet he was allowed to be tested by Satan, who took nearly everything from him, yet Job said, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

Hannah worshipped through grief. Hannah was barren and wanted a child with every ounce of her being, yet this blessing was delayed and she was found weeping in the temple yet “They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:19).

Jeremiah worshipped through grief. So much so, in fact, he is often known as the “weeping prophet” probably due to a book in the Bible that he penned called “Lamentations”.  The theme of this book is developed as Jeremiah grieves over a wasted and desolate Jerusalem as a result of Israel’s exile. Yet in the midst of all of this he says, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will hope in him” (Lamentations 3:24).

Jesus, of course, knew grief. On the night before His crucifixion, we see Him praying in the garden of Gethsemane and weeping as it were “great drops of blood.”  Yet in the midst of this, he prays, “Not my will, but yours, be done,” and “Father, glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you” (Luke 22:42, John 17:1). We also read in Hebrews where it give us insight into the “big picture” that Jesus was able to keep before Him even despite His great suffering and grief–”Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:2).

Like Jesus, may we see the “big picture” and worship through our grief. It doesn’t mean that grief won’t still hurt or that suffering won’t still sting, but it does mean that we know the One who somehow through it all will one day “make all things new”.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:1-5

 

How have you worshipped through grief? What advice do you have for those who have suffered a great loss? Let us know by leaving your comments below.

“Sometimes we do not realize how much we have to be grateful for until it is threatened.”

John Ortberg, When the Game Is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box

Prayers for Boston

Boston-Marathon--image-of-explosion-jpgLike you, I was horrified to hear of the tragic bombing at the Boston Marathon on Monday. Having lived in Boston as well as just completing a trip there just a few days ago, the city is fresh on my mind. Patriot’s Day and the Boston Marathon are great cultural events that have shaped this city for decades. My heart goes out to all of the people who have suffered injury and loss on this tragic day. Today serves as a sobering reminder that we live in a fallen world and as believers, we have full citizenship in a kingdom that has not fully come but in our hearts only and in the hearts of all those that embrace Jesus as Lord.

I am pleased to hear that no one that I know was injured in the blasts, however, there are many today that can’t say that. It is times like these when we join with them and “weep with those who weep”. With all of the distraction and continuous onslaught of social media, there is no doubt that it has made our world much smaller. When we see the devastation and see the comments from many on the ground in real time, it is hard to continue in “business as usual”. Though this is a Christmas song, I’m often comforted by these words. Henry Wadsworth  Longfellow (a native of my hometown of Portland, Maine) penned these words during the Civil War in 1863. May these words help shape our hearts to look forward to a kingdom that is yet to come, yet work and pray that God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven.

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
and mild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song 
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound the carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn the households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong, and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail, the Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.

 For a more modern setting of the song, check out Casting Crowns version here.

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