Take Joy in the Lord… He’ll give you your desires…

Hit play and just read whats going on.

This is my life.

The past 24 hours have been nothing short of amazing and awesome and Amazingly Awesome.

So yesterday. My parents rolled into town to hangout with me for the weekend. I love the fact that I have parents that are so invested in their kids to come to the ends of the earth for nothing more than to spend a few short days together. Love them.

Last night. After I had dinner with my parents I had a meeting with the worship teams from 1st and 2nd year classes here at school. There was about 60-70 of us in this living room. It was an amazing time to get to know some amazing people and to hear the heart of the Father for what we do and where we are going to go this year. Not only in our music, but in our Worship.

The music above is just part of how epic that night was.

After we spent some time worshiping, we moved into groups and I got to meet some amazing worship leaders. What was the biggest highlight of the night was that the 2nd year worship leaders took each of us 1st year worship leaders and prophesied over us.  This once again cracked open my chest wide and God got to just hang out with my heart as these amazing people spoke into my life, encouraged, extorted and confirmed so much of who I am and what I mean to the Father.

One of my biggest things I have been looking forward to all week was that my parents would get to know my worship team down here and spend some time just doing what any good farming parents do. Love on people through the act of hospitality, good food and good conversation.

Some of my team are from other countries, states and I knew that coming up is Thanksgiving and Christmas and for some they will not be able to see their families. What I did was simply bring My family (worship team) to My family(mom and dad). Now for those of you who are reading this and know my parents. They did not disappoint. Nor do they… EVER. My entire team was enjoying each others company, My worship pastor Joanna and her interns Jessica and Cornelia, My parents. It was just a great morning.

And then it happened, praying into this moment for a few days prior. One of my biggest concerns was how do I bring my parents into a culture that for even myself pulls and yanks me outside of my comfortable bubble.  Love is a funny thing. When someone says, “Love covers all”… It really does.

My keyboard player Ana is probably the biggest ray of sunshine I’ve ever met. This petite sweet precious girl from Argentina (who was originally from Singapore) encompasses the word joy. She started to draw. In Chinese. My Mom and Dad’s name. And without any prompting walked over and started to love on my parents.  Through her drawing he began to prophecy what my parents names meant in Chinese.  I looked over and knew the moment of integration is now. As Ana was sharing I simply asked if my team would be willing to simply bless and encourage and share visions and prophecies for my parents.  Love covers all. Once again, to do live well is to love well and my team knows how to love well.

They began to share words regarding the strength, power and covering my Dad has for others, yet maintaining a tender heart. They shared how precious my Mom is, how beautiful she is inside and out. And they spoke about how my parents are Mothers and Fathers to so many outside of their earthly family. Mother and Fathers of nations. (which is cool how all 3 kids are living in 3 different countries right now) They spoke about the transition that will be taking place. One saw them riding a roller coaster to the top of a big drop that will bring nothing but joy and freedom. They talk about how God is going to bring in abundance everything they ask for.

The best part was my parents who kept looking at me with tears in their eyes wondering how these amazing men and women of God could know so much, could hear so clearly and could love on them so deeply.

After the smoke cleared, I simply asked my dad and mom to pray for us. To give a fathers and mothers blessing. It was so amazing. And then we capped it off by singing “I love you Lord”.

Wow. I think over the past 3 weeks I’ve broken down in tears on a daily account with everything the Lord is doing in my heart and in my families.

Today couldn’t have been any better.

Now I’m sitting in my room getting ready for bed and packing a bag for a few days with them in San Fransisco. We got Alcatraz and some touring and then have tickets to the 49er’s game against St. Louis Rams.

Who wants to be me right now??? So blessed.

M

 

 

 

Nothing Better.

Nothing better.

There’s nothing better when a room full of hungry people get together an seek God to transform and shift paradigms.

There’s nothing better when God not only shows up, but in increasing measure.

There is nothing better when shackles and chains of unforgivness, brokenness and anger get shed.

There is nothing better when God begins to shift the identity of those who are so desperately in need to hear that they are loved, they are princes and princesses.

There is nothing better when this happens.

And this happened today.

Nothing better.

M

Exciting Things Going On.

 

Hey Friends, Family and all of you randoms out there.

I’m sitting here, drinking my coffee this morning, bible open into the Psalms and decided to actually make a little post for my blog to tell you about what is going on in my world. For some of you we chatted last week, for others it’s been way too long.

This past year has been one for the books. A year ago I quit my day job working for Disney to pursue full time music and ministry opportunities. I felt that God wanted to take me on a journey and I decided to simply say “Yes” to the various opportunities that came my way.

Because of this I, I was able to travel, visit friends, visit various churches, go to Haiti, lead worship in amazing rooms filled with even greater people and head back to the farm for a season to get back to my roots. It’s been a crazy ride, in the beginning I thought I was going to land in a career position in a church and after a year of searching for that dream job I did come up empty handed. Hindsight being what it is, I did see God do something amazing in my life. Revealing things of His heart to me, guiding me and working in me. This past year, I also finally came to the awareness and acceptance that I am battling with depression and anxiety. God’s working in that and has brought some amazing people in my life to speak into this which I am forever grateful.

2 summers ago, I took a leap of faith and took 3 weeks off to go down to Redding California to Bethel Church for a intensive Worship school program. Not know really anything about the church at the time, outside of a few friends who have been down there, I was simply informed that they do things a bit different. Let me put it this way, I was the only Mennonite Kid in a room full of Charasmaniacs. But God once again, like he always does, showed up. My prayer going in was “I’m open, I’m willing, crush and re-enforce”. And He didn’t disappoint. Since then, Bethel has been on my heart to go back.

This past spring I was looking at what my summer/fall was going to look like and where I was going to invest, whether I move from Kelowna or stay, take a job back on the family farm or find some job elsewhere outside of music. And once again, Bethel landed on my heart. It was something I couldn’t shake.

After talking with some key people in my life that I have given authority to speak into these types of decisions I applied in the middle of July to attend their 1st year School of Supernatural Ministry. Within a week I was accepted, and since then I have my condo rented out for the year and I’m moving to the US of A in 2 weeks.

I know. Crazy right?!

So here I am now. Trying to find a bed somewhere down there, figuring out how to get over the boarder without too much hassle, cleaning my condo from top to bottom and packing up my truck.

 

The crazy thing is, even though I’m super excited. It is a complete God thing that I am going. I needed everything to fall into place smoothly and so far (knock on wood) it has seamlessly.

Some of you right now are probably asking yourself. Why? Saying, “Marshall, your 28, you got your BA in Music, time to get a grown up job bud.”

Trust me, I’m asked myself this. I’m not 19 anymore. I know that.

You see, for 26 years of my life, my primary education of who God is was merely academic head knowledge. I knew God. I’ve studied God. I’ve written papers about God and I’ve even told people about my theories of God. Yes, I had experiences where God became so personal and transformed in very specific and tangible ways. Yet, the religiosity of who I was, was my primary faith.

It wasn’t until I went down to Bethel and prayed my prayer “I’m open, I’m willing God” that I believe my life got flip up on its head.

You see, Bethel teaches the application of the Gospel. The tangibles. Miracles are an every day occurrence. And its not because God loves them more, its not because they figured out the formula or that they are ever faking it for the warm fuzzy feelings it brings. Bethel is simply, Open and Willing. They seek out the Holy Spirit, there is a hunger and a thirst to know God who is greater than the miracles. They seek out the identity of Christ and pursue the answer to the question “Who does God say I am”. Once that question is answered, the heavens open up and purpose of life is no longer an issue.

For myself, I find that I am in the prime of my life to do this. I’m single. I’m not tied down to a career yet and I have one amazingly thick academic side of “who God is”. Its time to pair that with the application of who God is and allow the 2 to meet each other.

My heart and calling is still firmly set on ministry in music and what better opportunity then to hangout and hopefully get involved with the amazing people down there like Brian and Jenn Johnson, Jesus Culture, Jeremy Riddle and everyone else. And when I get back next spring to once again, stare at the various opportunities before me with a clearer vision and passion to see the Glory of God come.

So, that’s the plan. Here’s what I need from you.

Pray. Pray for me. Pray for the Church. Pray for School.  To be covered by the prayers of the saints as thousands of us get fired up, trained and released.

Encouragement.  I need lots. Good words from greater friends.

Finances. If you are so inclined to feel the desire to give. There will be an opportunity after Christmas to give towards a missions trip in the spring. Tax receipts and all that good stuff. Being a Canadian I can’t work down there so I am going to do what I can to make ends meet. If in someway a ministry has blessed us I do believe we are called to sew back into that ministry to bless others. So for myself, I’m always humbled and honored when someone gives towards what I am doing. I will do everything in my power to make you proud.

Please keep in touch while I am down there and I will do my best to continue to share what God is doing in me, through me and around me as best as I can here.

Love you all.

M

From Acknowledgement comes Kingdom….

Matthew 6 :

Our father who art in heaven

HALLOWED BE THY NAME

Thy Kingdom Come

THY WILL BE DONE

On Earth as it is in Heaven.

From our praise and acknowledgement of who God is and how Great he is, comes His Kingdom and His will as an influence in our lives.

I’ve been thinking through the concept of prayer and worship and how they so beautifully compliment and enhance each other in our relationship with God. If worship is supposed to be a lifestyle to which we live from Romans 12, and if we are called in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “pray without ceasing”, I personally find it interesting how we are called to live out both at the same time.

You see, worship and prayer is not primarily saying words, thinking thoughts, singing songs or meeting in a church on a Sunday morning. It is rather a stance. It’s a way of living withing the Living and Active Presence of God, living in Awareness of the Presence and simply enjoying the Presence. But most importantly, our worship and prayer need to acknowledge and then agree with what God is doing with a “Yes and Amen.” It is within this awareness and stance where then we are allowed to see a even greater glance of the big picture which is the Kingdom.

I’ve always prayed “God work in us, through us, amongst us and even despite our best efforts.” It is my prayer of submission, sacrifice and humility. But moreover, it is my prayer of allowing God’s will to impact every facet of my life, my ministry and my atmosphere in which I live. That every breath I take would be in a constant acknowledgement of who God is, what He is doing and His authority in my life.

One of my all time favorite books speaks toward this calling to this radical shift to what we call prayer and worship. The book is called “Everything Belongs” by Richard Rohr. You should check it out.

Anyways, those are my thoughts today.

M

 

 

 

 

Worth the read.

I found this article/interview of Brian Johnson who is one of my Worship Leader Influences. Whether you agree or not with some of Bethel’s theologies it definitely sparks some thought provoking moments around how we worship, live and respond to God.

Enjoy.

M

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Brian Johnson has been leading worship since he was 17. He is the co-writer of some of the United States most popular worship songs including One Thing Remains and You Are Good.

He leads Bethel Church’s worship team and produced the church’s latest acoustic worship project: The Loft Sessions.

Brian lives in Redding, California with his wife Jenn and three children. He is the son of popular author and church leader, Bill Johnson.

1. What made you record The Loft Sessions as an acoustic project?

There’s so many live worship CDs right now and I just took a step back and thought we want to do something that shows the fun, raw, real and passionate elements of our worship. And show that it doesn’t have to be on a massive stage with lights. It’s not like it hasn’t been done before, but for us we were excited to do something different.

2. There’s a great acoustic vibe to the record. How would you describe the sound?

The biggest change is there’s not a lot of keyboard pads or electric guitars. A lot of the songs have organic elements to them. It’s a bit of a different approach. [The worship team] would bring a song to me and play it. I’d say to them, ‘no do it again let’s not use any of the stuff we’ve used before. Instead of playing that guitar line, lets have a vocal do that guitar line. Instead of an acoustic, put a banjo in there.’

 

3. One of the songs, “Angels” is quite unusual in terms of the lyrics. Are you asking angels to join in worship, or are the lyrics symbolic of something else?

I wrote the majority of that melody in England several years ago when we were worshipping in a cathedral. It was a spontaneous song that came right in the middle of worship. We had a sense that this angelic atmosphere was thick, so I started singing that out. It’s an invitation, because we join with heaven’s song and the angelic singing as one.

I’m a firm believer that God assigns angels for different reasons and a lot of times we forget about that. We don’t think about angels very much, so it’s an eye opener and expression of calling the watchman angels on the walls to come and sing with us, worship with us and declare who our God is.

4. My Dear sounds like it could be sung on mainstream radio. Do you ever think about your songs going beyond the church?

The radio thing has been a little vague to us. In America it seems like there’s 10 Christian bands they play on the radio and they all have a similar sound. So we don’t ever think about radio. For where we are out right now, we are thinking for the church. Declaration of faith statements that the church can sing and songs that people can sing on a Sunday. That doesn’t mean we don’t have a heart for the other, it’s just at the moment we’ve been focusing on the live worship CDs.

 

5. The songs you’ve written, particuarly for the Be Lifted High album have been picked up by church across the world, that must really encourage you.

It is nice to hear that they are being sung. Recently we’ve been informed of people covering the songs. That’s why we write them, so that people can sing them. That should be a goal for worship leaders when they are writing songs.

6. One Thing Remains is one of those songs which has been particularly popular. How did it come about?

The chorus: ‘Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me’, came to me spontaneously during worship about six years ago. I sat on that chorus, and would put it in different moments but that’s all I had. Then we started collaborating on the song with a couple of different people here then we came up with the bridge and verses.

7. What’s the best Christian book you’ve read?

My Dad obviously is an author. His books talk about God’s kingdom on the earth right now. It’s not just a sob story or a comfort story. I would have to say his books, just because what the heart behind them is saying to his church right now as a timely word.

8. Bethel often pushes boundaries lyrically. Is it fair to say your lyrics are more based on the Bible than they are quotes from scripture?

I honestly think that people freak out too much about whether it’s biblical or not. Tennis isn’t in the Bible and we play it. The Bible is pointing to something greater, it’s pointing to this all consuming, all knowing God who wants a passionate response from his people.

People get hung up with this whole religious ‘is it ok to sing that?’ In my opinion it’s where the heart is at. It’s not devaluing the Bible or theology, it’s saying when you’re married to someone, you’d better be passionate about that person. It’s the same with the Lord. If we’re just quoting Bible verses to the Lord but our hearts aren’t in love with him, he’s going to see that.

9. The Senior Associate Pastor at Bethel, Kris Vallotton, recently said the church has a “Research and Development” aspect to it where people are encouraged to do things differently – even if it results in failure. How does this statement apply to worship?

We’re not talking about moral failures, we’re encouraging people to fail and take risks in terms of getting our of your comfort zone. Maybe give a word to someone at the store, or if you’re leading worship instead of just singing the songs, stopping and having a chord progression, stepping out saying ‘I feel like there’s someone here who is feeling like this’, taking a step of faith and trying it.

10. What has God been teaching you lately?

Whether or not it’s a good or bad decision, shouldn’t be determined by the outcome. Sometimes you make a good decision, but don’t see the fruit of it. Because we live in such a fast paced society, we want our decisions to be answered and rewarded. God is teaching me to make the right decision, because it’s right. Then it’s God’s job to do what he wants about it.