Worship In Action

-Matthew McGinley-

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Ephesians 5:1-2

This verse gives us an impossible command… one that no human being in all of history has been able to accomplish besides one man. No striving, no training, no discipline could possibly take our selfish humanity and turn it into a perfect display of love. But one man, whose birth, life, and death displayed sinless perfection in human flesh, showed the world how to love; His name is Jesus. We can't muster up the ability to live like Him on our own. There is, however, a way for us to live with this kind of love: through Him! As Jesus left the earth and ascended into heaven after His triumphal victory over death, He left us with the command to love the world as He loves, but He didn’t stop there… He gave us the power to do it!

Only by His power and presence can we love as He loves us. That’s one of the reasons I love worship so much. When we worship and spend time in the Lord’s presence, we realize our need for Him. When we pour out our love on Him, He gives us His love for His children. When we give Him our hearts, He places His heart in our chest. Worship provokes response. I love how The Message Bible words Ephesians 5:2. It states, “Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. Love like that.” Let’s change the world by letting God’s extravagant love live through us. May our prayer be, “Let your heartbeat beat in my chest, and let your love song fill up my lungs.”

When we give Him our hearts, He places His heart in our chest. Worship provokes response.

You may have wondered why we are called Ascent Project. It’s because from the beginning we knew we wanted to be more than just a group that makes some music, puts it out for people to listen to, and that’s it. Our desire is that our worship and songs provoke a response in people and that God uses all of us as a movement of worship in action.

In just a few short weeks, the four of us along with a videographer will be taking a trip to Guatemala. We are partnering with the organization World Help to completely transform an entire village in the mountains of Guatemala. The village is called Volcancito Arriba and it is a very remote place in desperate need. The 450 people, 215 of which are children, battle malnutrition, disease, and hopelessness every day. They are all loved by the Lord and he is looking to us to step out of our comfort zones and rescue them. Simply to get water for the day, they have to walk a dangerous 1.25 mile hike through the mountains! When that water source dries up in the summer, they are forced to drink out of the nearby streams which carry dangerous toxins and diseases from coffee plantations and animal waste. 

Our goal is to use our music and ministry to completely transform this village, giving them clean water, a church building, school buildings, sanitary bathrooms, a playground, and more. We’re believing big for the salvation of all 450 people there! The goal of our trip this month is to document and film this village so that everyone here can experience what we experience and we can all unite to show the love of Christ to Volcancito Arriba. We will be giving you opportunities this fall to be part of this movement!

Let’s join together and see what God can do through us when we let our worship turn into action. Let His heartbeat beat in our chest and His love song fill up our lungs!

-Matthew 

How Was The Worship?

-Jonathan McGinley-

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”
-Hebrews 12:28-29

In this day and age, our minds are trained to consume. We are bombarded by advertisements, products, events, and relationships that are all calling for our attention. There is always something right at our fingertips to entertain us. If something doesn’t hold our attention, then we move on to something else that will. If we get bored with a product, we usually go out and upgrade to the next best thing. I don’t know about you, but if I have even 30 seconds of dead time, I usually pull out my phone and start scrolling through social media or reading sports articles. Our fast-paced culture has taught us that we always need to be entertained and that happiness is found when we focus on ourselves.   

I know in my life, this consumer attitude can sometimes creep into my relationship with God; especially in times of worship. I believe we can worship God in everything we do, but I want to focus specifically on praise and worship. It is so easy to come into a worship service hoping that the band is good, or that they play your favorite song (or maybe they don’t play that one song!). Or, to take it a step deeper, I often times come into worship with an agenda that I want God to do, either in my life or in other’s lives. This is a trap that is so easy to fall into and totally misses the point of why we worship. 

I often get asked the question “How was the worship?” after a church service or event. My immediate thought is “well the band wasn’t very good, and the set list was just a bunch of songs I’ve heard a hundred times.” Or “It was amazing! That band is so gifted and I love their songs.” If these are some of our first thoughts then we are totally missing the point of why we worship God. Instead of asking the question “How was the worship?” we should be asking “How was MY worship?”

If these are some of our first thoughts then we are totally missing the point of why we worship God. Instead of asking the question “How was the worship?” we should be asking “How was MY worship?”

God wants us! He wants to meet with us! The best attitude that we can bring into worship is one of humility and sacrifice. Worship was never intended for us to be the consumers, it was an amazing gift from God created to bring Him the glory He deserves. The only question we should be asking when coming into a worship service is “God, what do you want to do?” and then our response should be to do whatever that is. We cannot control what music is played or how it is played or how long the worship set is. What we can control every time is how WE worship. We can leave everything at the door, fix our eyes on the King, and bring Him the glory and honor and praise He deserves! 

-Jonathan

Live Fully Alive

-Tanner King-

Are you alive? You may be breathing…your heart may be beating…but are you alive?

The world offers endless ways for a person to feel “alive,” but are they accurate? How can you live fully alive? Some say you must fill your life with pleasure and thrills. Others say simply strive to be happy. But none of the above constitute true living. The world is a marketplace of counterfeits. It sells lust in place of love, entertainment in place of relationship, and temporary excitement in place of lasting joy.

The world is a marketplace of counterfeits. It sells lust in place of love, entertainment in place of relationship, and temporary excitement in place of lasting joy.

The answer to living fully alive is simple: joy. But what is joy and where does it come from? It is not some bubbly feeling that vanishes as quickly as it appears. Joy is the deeply-rooted sense of satisfaction and contentment that comes from living a life wholly submitted to Jesus. It is knowing that you are loved and accepted. It is knowing that you are free.

Peter mentions this joy in his first letter to the churches: 

 “And though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory”
-1 Peter 1:8

This joy is something that the world cannot understand. In the same way that those who do not know God (who is love) do not know how to love (1 John 4:8), those who are not connected to God can’t possibly know His joy. As believers, we have the privilege of receiving this joy through our relationship with God. Jesus said, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” If you ask Him, God will give you the joy that you are thirsting for. 

This is not all to say that you should stop doing everything that makes you happy. If they are good things, keep doing them. But don’t depend on them. Let God fill you with his Spirit and his joy that you may shine brightly in the darkest places.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.“
-John 10:10

-Tanner

Worship Preparation

-Jordan Curry-

Worship can take many different forms, but there is something amazing about singing songs with other people lifting up the one who created the universe. The fact that we can join with the angels singing “holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty” is a privilege and such a joy! But with that said, worship can easily be interrupted with logistics and small details that become the center of our attention. Playing guitar is something that I absolutely love but it also offers a number of distractions. The never-ending quest for gear, trying to nail guitar parts perfectly, worrying about my tone and always trying to get it to sound better… these are all things that consumed my attention and altered my intentions in worship. 

Although we are called to do everything with excellence, and these things are important, if that is our focus, we are missing out on true worship. 

 

The way for me to experience true passionate worship while playing guitar requires preparation. I find it is easy for me to rely on ability and to play only what is necessary, but the times when I work through every detail at home ahead of time are when I am fully able to worship our Father. The keys of the songs on a setlist, chords, transitions, what overdrive pedals I’m using, and delay BPMs no longer take the place of true worship because I have put in the time beforehand. When I prepare in advance, I can fully partake in what the Lord has for me as a leader and a worshiper.

-Jordan

King of Glory

-Matthew McGinley-

"Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle."
-Psalm 24:7-8

What is the most glorious sight, object, person you can think of? Maybe it’s an amazing mountain sunset, a certain feeling, or a loved one. Here on earth, so many things war for our attention, begging to be worshiped for their glory. We’re so quick to call things glorious, awesome, amazing, rad, sick, whatever it may be. Recently I’ve been going through the Psalms one by one in search of just one attribute per psalm to praise God for each day and when I came across this passage, something stuck out to me. Our God is the KING of Glory! That phrase hit me like never before as more than just a name or a nice catch phrase; over all things glorious, God sits enthroned.

Why would we choose lower things in the kingdom of glory when the King Himself has asked us to come before His throne? He has invited us into His inner room. So many things are trying to get us to come in and dine with them in this kingdom. As we walk the streets up to His glorious throne, the things of this earth are at their door inviting us in but we must hold fast to the still small voice that says, “Come, my child and be with me.” The things of this world offer slavery to a lesser glory, but He offers sonship to the King of Glory.

The things of this world offer slavery to a lesser glory but He offers sonship to the King of Glory.

Our only valid response in His presence has to be that of Mary in John 12. I’ve read that story too many times to count but recently God showed me something new. In this passage it’s recorded that Mary poured out an entire jar of perfume on Jesus’ feet. This was no cheap perfume; in fact, it was estimated to be worth a full year’s wages! I’ve always thought of this story as just one iconic moment of surrender and worship before Jesus by Mary but I don’t think that gives us the entire picture of what this actually cost her. Most people can’t easily go out and buy something that costs the amount of their yearly salary. It takes diligence, time, and dedication to save up that kind of a sum. I think when you look deeper into the heart of Mary, you see someone who is so in love with Jesus, and sees so much worth and glory in Him, that she spent every day leading up to that event setting aside her money so that one day she could pour it all out on Him. 

See guys, worship isn’t about one event, a church service, a platform; worship is the daily surrender to the One we recognize as far more glorious than anything else in this world. God is worthy of every ounce of our worship. He poured it all out for us, so let’s pour it all out for Him. As long as there is air in our lungs, we will worship something. Let’s not get caught worshiping anything other than the King of Glory.

 

-Matthew