Have you ever met somebody for the first time and they didn't introduced themselves? That might leave you feeling a little awkward, right? Maybe even a bit offended? It could make you think they don't think you are worth their time, but it could be that they just forgot! I have to admit, I have been guilty of this on many occasions. I have learned that I shouldn't just assume they know who I am. Whether I have met someone before or it is the first time it's always nice to start with, “Hi! My name is Justin!”

I can't tell you how many times we have seen this happen in a church service. I'm sure that it is not intentional. People just get caught up in the moment and are focused on what they are going to say and forget to start with “Hi, my name is...” In my opinion that simple phrase is vital to every church service. It makes people feel welcome, puts people at ease and lets them know that you think they are important and worth knowing your name.

It doesn't matter if you are the announcement person, the worship leader or even the pastor,  when you introduce yourself it puts everyone on the same page. You can't assume everyone knows who we are especially if you get up and speak every week. Yes, your name may be listed in the bulletin or on the marque out front, but it is always good to start with telling everyone your name.

It doesn't take that much extra time, or take away from what you are going to say or do. If our goal as a church is to communicate clearly and make sure people feel welcome and comfortable, we need to start with the simple phrase “Hi! My name is...”

Those are some of my thoughts, now I would like to hear yours! Please leave a comment here or on our FB page and let me know how it goes for you next time you meet someone or get up to speak.

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AuthorJustin Graves

I can't tell you how many times I have walked into a church service looking for the “quick fix.” I think too many times we go to church looking to be “filled up.” Yes that does happen, but when our focus becomes about what we want, we have to re-examine the reason we are going to church. I have endured many services thinking “Why aren't they singing songs I know?” “I wish they would sing my favorite songs.” or “Why did they do that song that way?” maybe even “This message has nothing to do with me, I'm gonna just tune out.”

I want to give you a different way of looking at going to a worship service. My wife, Michelle, came up with this brilliant analogy: You don't go to a wedding and get upset when it's not all about what you want and like! You don't complain when they don't sing your favorite song, don't have your favorite cake or aren't using your favorite colors. You show up with a single focus; to honor the couple getting married. We go with anticipation of getting to speak to the bride and groom, congratulate them, hug their neck and tell them how happy we are for them. This should be how we approach going to a corporate worship service. We should go with the anticipation of meeting with God, honoring Him with words and songs, and looking forward to spending some time with Him.

Corporate worship is designed to be a collection of people with the common focus of celebrating what God is doing. We go to church to meet with other Christ Followers, and together, honor our Savior and Creator. When we shift our focus from what we want, to celebrating who God is and what He is doing, we do get filled up. When we pour ourselves out and give all that we are to Christ instead of being frustrated that we aren't getting what we want, we can take joy in whatever songs are sung and whatever the message is!

Here is my challenge to you: Next time you go to a worship service let your focus be on giving all of you to God, not what you can get from Him. It takes a conscious effort to shift your focus, remember:
It's not about what you GET, but what you GIVE.

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AuthorJustin Graves

If you have been in or around a church for anytime, you most likely have heard the Scripture Romans 12:1-2.
       
     "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."

I love this verse because it speaks to the heart of how we as Christ Followers should live each day. However, most of the time, we stop there! If we keep reading, we can see that Paul gives us even more detail about how to live a Christ Followers. He gives specific examples of how to share God's love.  

"For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully."

And that is not all! That is only through verse 8!  I will admit that many times I forget about this part of the verse or just ignore it completely and think that I am way more important than I really am. I want to encourage you to read through the rest of the passage this week (You can find it HERE) and share your thoughts with me.

 If we live and love like Paul describes here God's love will shine bright! After all, that is what God calls us to do: Love God & Love Others! 

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AuthorJustin Graves

When people ask me what I do for a living my typical response is “I am a musician.” Some may wonder why my first response isn't to tell them that I am a “Worship Leader” or that I am in "full time ministry." Well, let me explain myself a little bit.

The term “Worship Leader” has come to mean: “The guy that gets up and sings some songs before the pastor gets up and talks.” Don't get me wrong, this is a very visible and important roll in the church. The Worship Leader and Worship Team are usually the first thing that people experience when they go to a church service. They are the ones that help set the mood, flow and invite people to participate in the service. There is a lot of focus on the Worship Leader and Worship team because they are up front with all the lights and instruments and people are facing them while they are singing. It can be easy to see why, after the Pastor, the Worship Leader is one of the most recognizable people in the church. They have been hired by the church because they are experts in their field and they have been called into full time ministry. After all, worship can't happen unless you have a Worship Leader present, right?

Ok, hang on. I want to take a moment and let you in on a little secret. As Christ Followers, we are ALL in full time ministry. We are ALL worship leaders. Just because you are a cashier or teacher or lawn mower or banker or shelf stocker or babysitter that doesn't mean that you have to wait for a pastor or worship leader to worship God or tell someone about Christ. Jesus tells us in Matthew 28 that our job as Christ Followers is to “Go make disciples.” He didn't say that we have to be employed by the church, or “called into full time ministry,” He just says “Go.” It doesn't matter where you are or what you do, God tells us that everything we do can and should be an act of worship. In Romans 12 Paul tells us that we should worship God with our whole self, not just our words, but with everything we are.

So, in my opinion, worship is not about just going to church. Yes, it is a great place to gather with other Christ Followers and celebrate what God is doing. Worship is also not just singing songs, although that is a big part of what a Worship Leaders job is. Worship is honoring and glorifying God wherever you are and with whatever you do.

So, when you think about it, when someone asks us what we do for a living, ALL of our response should be, “I am a Worship Leader!” which can be followed up with, “I get to do that through....(whatever your day job is!)”

1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us, “Whatever you do, do it to the glory of God.” I want to encourage you today to see your day job as an act of worship! I would love to hear the different ways you take a routine activity and turn it into worship. Please leave a comment here or on our Facebook page!  

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AuthorJustin Graves

A little over 9 years ago when Michelle and I found out we were going to have a baby, we joked that we would have the kid who didn't like music or entertaining. Boy were we wrong! There is not a minute that Gabriella isn't singing or dancing! Gabi is an amazing gift from God and He has blessed her with a huge personality, incredible talent and a passion for people. She is a light that brings joy and a smile to the face of everyone she meets.  

Even at the young age of 9 Gabi is such an incredible part of our ministry to kids and families. She has also begun to use her gifts to encourage people and share God's love through her own acting and singing. She, with her mother's help, has started a fun, little video blog each Monday where she takes a Bible verse and talks about how we can apply it to our lives. Here is her latest "Monday Minute."

Remember, God has given each one of us special and unique gifts and it doesn't matter how old or young you are, God can use you! All you have to do is be available! God can use you at your school, office, home or neighborhood...wherever you are! 

If you haven't already, you can follow Gabi and her journey on Facebook and Instagram (both of which are run and monitored by Michelle, not Gabi) to keep up to date on her latest projects and one of these days you will be able to say "I knew her when..."

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AuthorJustin Graves

What an amazing Summer! We have had a blast leading worship for two camps in Oklahoma a VBS in Austin, several Family Worship Nights and many different Sunday morning church services. I know there is still a little bit of Summer left, but I couldn't wait to share this with you! I wanted to give you a little peek into what we get to experience when we lead worship for kids.
 When Tarrytown UMC talked to us last year about leading the music for their VBS this year, they told us that they were going to write their own curriculum. As we talked about the theme and what the daily lessons were going to be, we offered to write music to go with each day. We had a blast writing these songs and even stepped outside of our box a bit and wrote a hip/hop song! 
We wanted to share with you the joy we get from hearing the kids sing these songs. Here is short video from VBS! 

We sure had a blast with those kiddos! I'm glad you got to hear their sweet voices! 
Just as a side note, Michelle did an amazing job creating and leading the motions for all the songs. She is so creative and a wonderful leader! I am proud to be on her team! 

Thanks for hanging out with me today! If you would like to purchase or hear any of our new songs you can go to www.JustinGravesBand.com/store. I know you will love them and want to sing them at the top of your lungs too! I hope you have a great weekend! 

 

I wanted to take a few minutes this week and let you know about an amazing company based right here in San Antonio that is making a global impact. Our good friends, Lisa and Louis deBonoPaula, have created a unique product that is being used in elementary schools, churches and businesses around the world. Spirit Sticks are a small, simple and lasting way to encourage participation, reward success and serve as a reminder of achievement. 
We have created Spirit Sticks and key rings unique to JGB and use the sale of these items to help fund our I Am Courageous ministry's donation of encouraging and uplifting music to kids fighting life threatening disease. 
Take a moment and watch this short video that will give you a little insight to where Spirit Sticks came from and the desire to create a fun, unique and memorable product.

You can purchase the JGB Spirit Sticks at any of our live events or on our website www.JustinGravesBand.com/store and to learn more about how to place a custom order for your school, church or business visit www.SpiritMonkey.com  Thanks for hanging out with me today!
(On a side note, I am the one who produced and created this video for Spirit Monkey! If you need a simple video to highlight your ministry or business, feel free to contact me! Justin@JustinGravesBand.com)

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AuthorJustin Graves

Michelle and I have the opportunity to be in a different church each Sunday morning. There are churches that cannot hire a full time worship leader or their worship leader goes out of town or they just want to bring in a guest worship leader...and that is where we come in! God has called us to be the 'Fill-in' worship leaders for churches. I love that we get to experience different church services and styles each week and that we get to know so many different ministries, churches, pastors and congregations! 

Not to long ago we were at a service where the pastor used a scripture that I have hear all my life. Amy Grant even wrote a song using this verse! Psalm 119:105 "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." The idea that the pastor was communicating was that God wants us to trust Him. Yes, He lights our way, but He doesn't show us everything down the road. He give us enough light to see the path we are on and know that He is with us, but we still have to trust Him to guide us.

 I remember when I was learning to drive my dad would tell me "Don't over drive your headlights." At first I had no idea what he was talking about. "How can I drive faster than my headlights?" What he meant was, when it is dark and all you have to light your way are the headlights on your car, you can't drive looking way off in the distance because you could miss what is right in front of you. You have to drive watching the part of the road that your headlights are shining on so you don't end up running off the road or crashing into something. That is the same idea that Psalm 119:105 is talking about. Letting God's light lead you. 

headlights.jpg

There are so many times, though, I want to grab my mega 10,000 watt torch light and see what is waiting for me down the road so that I can prepare myself for when I get there, but that is not God's plan. He wants us to trust Him and let Him guide us. As we do, He will give us exactly what we need right when we need it. Come on now sing it with me and Amy..."Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path...."

I would love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to post them on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/justingravesband Thanks for hanging out with me today!

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AuthorJustin Graves