NEW DAYS IN TENNESSEE
Sing a new song to the Lord! (Psalm 33:3) He put a new song in my mouth (Ps 40:3) Oh sing to the Lord a new song (Ps 96:1) If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) New! New! New! There is something about newness that is inviting, and strangely reassuring at the same time it is a bit unnerving. And yet we have sweet assurance from the Lord, even as we see new mercies “morning by morning” reminding us of God’s dependable faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23) in all circumstances. In worship leadership we too often think of new in relationship to the material we present. As I wrote in my book:
“I have colleagues who have utilized the scriptural admonition to “sing a new song unto the Lord” as a polemic for tossing out music that has been used, and possibly overused, and embracing a new repertoire. To me, the psalmist’s “new song” admonition seems best applied to our singing rather than our repertoire. New music has its time and place, but the new song in our worship is surely the reflection of becoming a “new creature” as all things are becoming new (2 Cor. 5:17). Surely you know the serendipitous joy that catches us by surprise when an old song becomes a new expression of present praise. Of course, the same “aha” can occur with new music. It is the singer and the singing that have become new in the fresh breath of God’s Spirit. A William Cowper hymn exclaims, “Sometimes the light surprises the Christian when he sings. It is the Lord that rises with healing in His wings,” an especially meaningful lyric from Cowper who battled through life with a proclivity toward a deep, dark depression. Even the spirit of one given to the doldrums can be surprised and made new.” 
I am passionately desirous of renewal. Spiritual renewal that might infuse Tennessee Baptist churches with a renewed sense of the presence and power of God in Christ through the Holy Spirit is something for which I pray daily. I believe this kind of new (renewal) is far more effective and lasting than any façade of newness. It is not the perception of new that we need, it is genuine renewal. Such renewal will not be found on the latest worship songlist. It will be found when God sends it, and thus we must search for it on our knees, in our prayer closets, in the Word, and leading our people to cry out to the Lord. As we do, He may well show us places where new already has taken seed.
Sometimes new is spawned by necessity. What may seem in a moment to be disappointing news can actually lead to new beginnings. On the other hand, sometimes new is brought on by chosen new beginnings. Opportunity turns into choices and choices made may well mean new beginnings. It is all part and parcel of life.
This weekend I was privileged to visit the choir room of the high school where my daughter will be choral director this Fall. She is trying to get her office setup, and the choir room is being renovated. There was dust everywhere. The drop-in ceiling had the grid, but no tiles had been yet dropped in. The room was a mess with a long way to go before being ready for students. As she showed us around we could hear the excitement in her voice as she anticipated meeting her new students next week, and as she told us about some music settings she had been listening to in searching for music to be used this school year. She was able to see past the distractions of the momentary mess and envision coming days filled with new friends, new young musicians to be shaped and encouraged through the joys of harmonies, rhythms, balance and blend.
Likewise, in these days we are welcoming new and returning worship music leaders to Tennessee. They come to new church settings open to God’s direction for coming days serving Him among a new people in new venues. I am excited to welcome these newcomers to our state and share our excitement for their ministries among us. I am hopeful and confident of new relationships as fellow worship pastors join me in extending Tennessee welcome. I am prayerful for days of walking together with them as we share in mission and ministry, and yes…..renewal.
As we continue our cross-state regional Music Ministry Leadership Conference training events I ask you to pray with me that we might be inspired and encouraged to open ourselves to those new things the Lord has in store for us, and that we might have eyes wide open to see the new mercies He provides morning by morning. I hope you will bring your musicians for fellowship and training. Gathering together as musicians committed to worship leadership is something we do not get to do often enough (for me anyway). Each time we do, the Lord seems to unveil new blessings. Don’t miss yours, and don’t miss being one for others!