Tag Archives: Darlene Zschech

“Then Sings My Soul …”

Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting is the mid-week topic for Jackson’s Journal, a memoir-in-progress of my life’s spiritual journey.

Sometimes, the best sermons were the ones that didn’t happen. Often as the pastor a small church (I pastored three of them) I doubled as the music minister. (“Music minister” is fancy for “song leader.”) More than a few times when the music was just right and the harmony was so “on,” we might just skip the preachin’ part and sing a few more hymns.

One time Mt. Zion Baptist Church had a weekend (three-day) “singing revival.” I invited a different guest speaker for each night and told him he’d have 10 minutes to preach, but just about as long as he wanted for singing. And it just so happened that the preachers I invited had wives and/or families with incredible musical talent. At Beulah Baptist Church, once or twice a year we’d have a Sunday afternoon hymn sing following a carry-in lunch. I invited an entire Mennonite congregation from Chamois to join us once for an all a cappella hymn sing.

The memory still makes my arms get all goose-bumpy. Mmmmm! Good stuff!

Yesterday’s post was a birthday greeting to our youngest daughter, Natasha. One of the songs I mentioned in my stream of consciousness was How Great Is Our God. It’s a song that seems to touch us both very deeply and in a way it’s our father-daughter spiritual song. I also mentioned that Natasha has been to Cameroon (Africa) and Fiji. Our oldest, Kishia, has also been to Africa (Ghana), and both girls have made mission trips to Mexico.

When your daughter is in Africa, you don’t really relax.

A few years ago when Natasha was in Cameroon, Kelly and I were out doing some shopping when my cell phone rang, and it was Natasha calling from 6,000 miles away. She couldn’t wait to get home to tell me: she’d learned to play guitar. Then she told me to listen — and she played How Great Is Our God.

Worship doesn’t always need preachin’. I stood in Wal-Mart listening on my cell phone as Natasha sang from two continents away. It was easily one of the most meaningful worship experiences of my life.

So take a few minutes, click the link here and worship with Hillsong and Darlene Zschech as they lead How Great Is Our God.

Some arrangements of that newer classic incorporate part of the old classic How Great Thou Art. I couldn’t find anything on the web that satisfactorily combined those songs, but I did find this slightly new, barbershop arrangement of How Great Thou Art. (Goosebump alert).

Finally, the best song services of yesteryear were the ones where the music minister asked for congregation favorites. So I’m taking requests for future Wednesday Night Prayer Meetings.

What’s your favorite hymn(s) or praise and worship chorus?

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Filed under Family, Inspiration, Old Time Religion, Uncategorized

Touched by an angel

Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting is the mid-week topic for Jackson’s Journal, a memoir-in-progress of my life’s spiritual journey.

I was once touched by an angel. It was June 11, 2004.

Did I lose you there? Let me back up a bit.

Some might say that I take the biggest risk of the week on Wednesday with Jackson’s Journal. I’m aware that Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting doesn’t appeal to everyone, although I usually do keep it “safe” with mostly nostalgic reminisces of my youth. Today will be different — much “heavier,” spiritually speaking. No tongue-in-cheek, eye-rolling descriptions of the parts of my faith journey that I now cling to.

Last Wednesday’s post, “Mountain-top moments,” was written with today’s post in mind. I’ve had mountain-top spiritual moments. And whatever the opposite of that is … I’ve been there, too. Back in March 2004 as I battled a period of extreme spiritual darkness, a friend suggested a very odd thing: Write myself a letter from God.

And so I sat on a chilly, wind-blown hill in the middle of nowhere, just minutes before sunset, with pen and paper in hand. What would God say to me?

“I love you.

You are My child.

Just let Me love you.

Nothing is too big for Me.

Just let Me love you.

You are My child.

I love you.”

I wrote those words as effortlessly as anything I’d ever written, as if moved by a force ‑ a presence ‑ much greater than myself. I shared that letter with no one.

Three months later, June 11, 2004, I was at the Crossover Christian Musical Festival at StoneRidge Amphitheater in Camdenton. With Sonic Flood singing “Here I Am to Worship,” scores of people transformed the front of the stage into an altar. The music continued, prayers were uttered, tears fell. But I felt like the only one hearing the song, with a silent, slow-motion sea of people around me.

And then someone touched my left shoulder.

I glanced behind me to see a young, short but stocky, 20-something man. His hand squeezed my shoulder. My ears were just inches from a booming speaker, yet the man’s soft, gentle voice was clear.

“I have a word from the Lord,” he said.

He spoke:

“I love you.

You are My child.

Just let Me love you.

Nothing is too big for Me.

Just let Me love you.

You are My child.

I love you.”

His hand slipped off my shoulder and I immediately turned around.

He was gone.

Take my hand now as we form a circle of grace. We’ll linger here a bit, overwhelmed by grace, as we listen to Here I Am to Worship. With apologies to Sonic Flood, this is Hillsong and Darlene Zschech performing.

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Filed under Inspiration, MIP: Memoir-in-progress

Vibrating pews and big-headed donkey angels

Countdown to Kianna: Twenty-one, 20, 19, 18 days … until delivery. Kelly told me tonight, “You know, Kianna won’t be born on the due date.” (That’s Feb. 19). And she’s probably right. I don’t think the countdown will get to “Minus 1.” If she takes after her mom and Grammy, she’ll be a little bit early. They are beyond punctual. On the other hand, I’m perpetually a little bit late.

Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting

It’s Wednesday, which means “prayer meetin’,” but I’m actually mining golden memories for this post from Sunday night services.

First, let’s get started with a couple of songs. From the old Broadman hymnal we have “Lead Me Gently Home,” as sung by a Ugandan choir. They have such a great time singing this and it’s such a happy presentation. I laughed and sang along.

That was our oldie. Our modern worship tune for the day is Darlene Zschech singing “Worthy Is The Lamb.”  As always, even the Baptists with us today should feel free to raise their hands.

Now …

There’s some disagreement about the details – and I expect my mother might chime in after she reads this – but when I was 4 or 5 years old, I got left at church on a Sunday night. In my version, I was left for hours and woke up in pitch black darkness, terrified and alone. In my mom’s version – let me see if I can get this right – she thought I’d gone home with Dad (the pastor), but Dad knew I had stayed behind with Mom (the choir/music director) while Mom led youth choir practice.

We’ll come back to this long-running debate over who left me, how long I was left, and whether the trauma was responsible for me still having – to this very day – the heebie-jeebies inside a dark, empty church.

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Filed under Inspiration, Kianna Allene Brown, MIP: Memoir-in-progress, Old Time Religion