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CollECtively lifting up the name of Jesus through exuberant praise!

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Friday, April 12, 2019

In Hot Pursuit

We rehearse at the Lighthouse on Madison Street in Eau Claire
The CollECtive Choir is family first, and a choir second.  We hope that all would come to know the transforming love of Jesus.Hi all!  This Sunday is Palm Sunday, as celebrated in the traditional church year.  To augment the Church's celebration in this city, the CollECtive Choir is presenting a praise concert downtown at the Metro (201 E. Lake Street, Eau Claire, WI) called "He Reigns," including special guests TRU SERVA (twin cities rapper) and Cara Rgnanti (singer/songwriter).  The event is focussing on proclaiming the bigness and supremacy of God, crying out for those in our town to recognize the eternal, righteous, and just reign of Jesus.  The event is fixing to be a powerful display of lives touched and transformed by the Author of our salvation.  Yet, if you perchance to come by the event this Sunday evening, I also invite you to recognize that exuberant, Spirit-filled events are not actually the driving thrust of our ministry.  There is a deeper work that is at play than a group appealing to our generation to come to Jesus.  It is the very process itself that is proving to be transformative-  a process of sinner-saints weekly exercising a posture of praise with others from across the valley, and allowing God to captivate their attention through His word in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.  It is the process of courage overcoming fear, unity of the Spirit overcoming boundaries, and joy overcoming discouragement.  Having more time to connect to individuals from the Choir has proven to be quite equitable in Christian encouragement, and has unearthed insight, passion, and contribution.  What is more - the Lord has begun answering our prayers for outsiders and the disconnected in the downtown.  One of these individuals I met while loading my kids into the van after a Monday night rehearsal.  I heard a man singing while riding his bike, and I prayed, "Lord, please connect me to that man."  We rounded the corner with the van, and saw he had stopped to take a phone call.  So, in a bold and creepy manner, I pull up, walk out of the car and hand him a card.  Naturally suspicious, we talk a bit - and I get a call later, and we continue the conversation.  He thanked me for crossing the 'divide'.  He said, "Eau Claire was no good for me, as I was hanging with the wrong crowd.  But now that I have good folks to hang around, I think I will stay."  We prayed on the phone together, and he came to the last rehearsal!  Please pray that he may hook up with one of the Church families represented in the Choir and that he might understand better his purpose in Christ.
The heart of the Choir is founded in growing a heart that is in tune with the Father's Heart.  Prayer is a part of everything we do.
-Please pray God's word is clearly communicated with boldness
-Pray for the Choir to grow more and more in Jesus' love.
-Pray for courage to continue to reach out to people ever day
-Pray for the people God has been assembling for the Youth music incubator, for wisdom and discernment moving forward

Blessings,
Michael

Friday, March 1, 2019

Musical Sermons

I am sure most of you have dealt with the elements in the last few weeks, just as I have.  Record snows, a sinus infection, and recovering health for my wife have left our family reeling at times, yet we know God is good, and he is faithful.  Not all of my time is spent with others or in rehearsal.  There are little spaces of the year that I can retreat into my creative domain - Ear To Hear productions has been the name of my basement studio for 10 years now since I started recording as a part of my livelihood.  It has been such a blessing to be able to march downstairs when the Spirit of God inspires me in His word.  One song at a time... and sometimes in fragments - I will get a piece of a song to be completed.  Often, the recording software is my sketch book, but you will typically find lyrics and chicken scratchings on random pieces of paper around the house when the Lord puts me in writing mode.  This is my sermon - the word in music that God gives me to encourage people.  I have recognized not to ignore this, and that it is real ministry.  This latest one that I am preparing for the choir I actually wrote at Tabernacle of Praise in 2007.  But in a rapture of praise to Christ one morning, it developed into more.  I consider it an honor and a privilege to lead this missional music community not only in direction and encouragement, but to have the privilege of unleashing a "new song" that we sing in our generation to make people aware of the eternal reign of Jesus Christ.  I had a singer/songwriter friend ask me once, "Don't you ever just write a song that isn't about God?"  Yes.  There was a time when I tried.  But for me, as a creative with the spirit of God burning in my bones, it is simply what comes out.  Or, as worship leader John Mark McMillan puts it, "There is nothing more interesting to write about than Jesus and the gospel narrative."  Here is a "rehearsal recording" of Holy is the Lord.  Rehearsal recordings are a sketch that get's the point across, but we will re-record later once it 'marinates' and for better production.
Please pray for souls as we reach out to people to join us in singing to the Lord this run (concert is April 14th at the Metro)
Pray for ever increasing desire for the choir to abide in God's presence and for the lost to be saved.
Pray for 3 strong section leaders in each section that can help the group stay together in compelling presentation.
Pray for Christ's transformative love to abound in and around us as we engage in rehearsal and in the city, and for us to speak the Gospel with clarity and boldness.


Side note: did you know that CollECtive Choir is on the list of recipients for THRIVENT CHOICE DOLLARS?  If you are a Thrivent member you can log in and allocate your Choice dollars to help support our mission.  Tell your Thrivent member friends!  And their Thrivent member families!

Other news - the Lord opened up a door for us through the Sawdust city music, and we will be streaming downtown from time to time!  Broadcasting the praise of Jesus on the street:)

Friday, February 15, 2019

The Valleybrook Victory

As you know, winter in Wisconsin is untamed - unpredictable at best.  So weather hazards sometimes render us without a rehearsal.  Rehearsals are more than just mental preparation - they are an affirmation, like all of our Christian gatherings, of our daily walk with Christ.  We pray for one another, encouraging each other with "Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" with a posture of thanksgiving and praise.  Really what we are is a catalyst of a lifestyle of praise.  Missing two rehearsals in a row can feel like lost momentum and cause our group to feel disconnected.  It is also difficult when you only have those two rehearsals set aside to prepare for a service at Valleybrook church.  What's more, Valleybrook's sound board broke down the Sunday before we were to come.  This is a little uncanny - as last year our spring concert was at Valleybrook and it was the most difficult perseverance trial we have had as an organization to date.  It is almost like connection with this specific church community is being attacked.  But throughout our two weeks of prep, God was reminding us of His sufficiency, and of our status as son's and daughters of the King.  The Lord provided a killer team of people focussed on His big-ness and not the temporal circumstances.  With sectionals and a make-shift Saturday rehearsal, we reminded ourselves as we prepared to engage our first worship community outside of Peace church that God has given us all that we need to do His will, and that in Christ we are super-victorious.  And the results?  From the words of the associate pastor, Nate Abuan, "The CollECtive Choir was a blessing to our Sunday service. Their unity with one another and desire to worship God with abandonment was evident throughout the morning. The way that they led Valleybrook in worship encouraged and inspired us."  God is good.  All the time.


Other happenings: 
- We had a 'boot camp' Monday to teach people about setting up and tearing down basic sound equipment.  Many hands make light work!
-Many focussed dialogues are happening around the missional music outreach with at-risk youth downtown.  Come to find, 4 people had the same vision!  This may move along very quickly.
-We have moved to have regular prayer for the Choir and community on Wednesdays at 1:30, and after every 1st Monday's rehearsal.
-We have help with transportation with the Ruth House gals!  We will need more help in March, and anticipate needing more drivers for some of the youth scattered in the city.  

Please pray: 
-for our upcoming 7 week rehearsal invite preparing for our spring concert, that the Lord would open our eyes to see people in our path to pull into our community.
-for help with fundraising, so that gradually I can focus more in areas where God has gifted me.
-Continue to pray for the formation of an events team to help our events grow in impact and effectiveness
-That the Choir continues to grow in fervor for God's presence, and that Christ would reign in all aspects of our lives, setting us free from all weights and shackles. 

Photos compliments of Jonny Stoll - J.S. Visual (jsvisualmedia.com)

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

For the King

The CollECtive Choir bounds with praise to Jesus at the 2019 Eau Claire MLK day commemoration held at St. James the Greater Catholic Church on January 21stCollective choir singing at Eau Claire's mlk day commemoration January 21st 2019I am not talking about Martin Luther King Jr..  Psalm 97:1 says "The Lord is King!  Let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!"  The CollECtive Choir was able to represent Jesus at the city MLK commemoration recently.  I am increasingly surprised (and then surprised that I am surprised) at how impacting the simple posture of our missional music community is, "CollECtively proclaiming Jesus through exuberant praise."  We stand on display in public spaces as ones both set free - and being set free by Jesus as we are conformed more and more into his image.  With all of the testimonies recently from the choir of personal deliverance and freedom from some of the weights and shackles they have been under, it is no wonder that the choir seems to pack an increasingly large punch wherever we go.  In a conversation with a good friend and worship leader, the question was asked, "What happens when a bunch of liberated people show up to a place?"
At the MLK event, we saw a bit of what happens.  One of the secretaries of the Church that was hosting the commemoration seemed to linger in conversation.  She kept asking about who we were and what we did, and where we go- on the verge of tears.  I could tell that she was directly effected by Jesus and the bona fide joy she experienced.
The Collective choir sings for the 3rd year in a row at the City of Eau Claire's MLK day sunset commemoration at St. James the Greater Catholic Church
In other observation, our retention rate for the last run was 100%, as opposed to the normal 50-60% of new people committing further to the choir. There is a stickiness to the culture of praise that is cultivating here!  All praise to our Lord Jesus Christ.
A quick update on our fundraising: we have reached $77% of our one-time donation goal of $15,000 for 2019, and 30% of our monthly partner goal of $4,800/month, with the goal of being 100% by year end.  God is providing!
Prayer requests:
-That the Lord continues to free the choir from residual weights and chains, and helps us operate in the mind of Christ, and increase the knowledge of His love in and through us
-Pray for the formation of an events team in the Choir to help with all of the planning and preparation details to increase our capacity and effectiveness.  This includes an event coordinator, prayer coordinator, publicity coordinator, and hospitality coordinator.
-Pray for this upcoming week of prep for us leading worship at Valleybrook that the Lord would open our eyes to people in our path to pull into the fray of praise.
-Pray for favor on the Valleybrook community, that the Lord would bless them, encourage them and transform them further into His image through our ministry.

Much Love,
miker

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Revival in the new year

Hello friends and partners!  We are well into our new year now.  And while the Lord has me on my knees quite a bit about prayer initiative in the downtown, I wanted to share a couple more stories of the impact that this missional music community is having in people's lives.  We are seeing revival break out in peoples hearts, friends!  Thank you for your prayers and support.  Together - lets keep pressing in!

The CollECtive Choir performs at the Plus for their 2018 Christmas event, 'where is the love'. 
 The Choir performs in various venues throughout Eau Claire.One of the gals just shared with me a week ago while we were preparing a solo for the MLK day commemoration, that when she arrived at the Choir the first night and heard the passion of the prayers and experienced the genuine joy in the singing, she wept, and went home and immediately changed some habits, including breaking up with her boyfriend who was opposed to Jesus Christ and had been verbally abusive and oppressive.  She saw that Jesus had more for her and her daughter's life than where she was.  Subsequently, her boyfriend has attended one of our events and was moved at the real joy and authority the choir sang with, and has inquired about when other events are going to happen.

In his own words - one of the residents from Hope Gospel mission:
I was sent away when I was 13 because of my being in trouble with the law.  I went to Rawhide's Boys Ranch to do a 3 month boot camp program. At the completions of that program they felt like I was not ready to go home so they decided to put me into a foster home that would help me integrate back into the community.  So I was put into the CATCH program and went to Appleton to live with Barb and Dave my foster parents.  Good Godly people who showed me who Jesus Christ was and what a functioning family looked like.  I lived there until I was 18 and decided that I didn't have to stay there and follow there rules so I took off.  Well I started to get into drugs got well connected and got into trouble.  That followed me back home to Rice Lake where i moved back to on the run.  I got into more trouble with drugs and the law got introduced to more things and got connected all over again.  That lead me to a lot of jail time and prison. God was always with me, I found out, and He started to work on my heart every time I would get locked up.  So finally I asked God for direction.  Now after my second prison sentence he found me ready to take the road he has intended for me.  He brought me to Hope Gospel Mission to work on myself and draw closer to Him.  He also brought me to Rambo and his mission with the CollECtive Choir.  I love singing and love the fact that I can go around worshiping God singing.  I am truly blessed to be able to find a happiness I lost when I left my foster home.  I did not think that I would ever find that happiness again.  But I found it here and with my choir family.

Please pray with us:
-For Christ to continue establish his Kingdom in the hearts of the choir and those we come into contact with.
-For an established Events Team to relieve me of some logistical details to free me up to bolster prayer, and equip people better with the music.   This includes an Event coordinator, a Prayer coordinator, Hospitality coordinator and publicity coordinator.
-For God's power and truth to touch peoples hearts as sing at the MLK commemoration Monday
-That God would continue to build bridges to the outsiders in our community through the Choir and for new ground to be broke for God's kingdom.

Much love,
Miker
715.894.0272

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Christmas report... glad tidings!







We had a Christmas party at Dan Lundsford's house on December 10th.  The atmosphere was thick with joy and camaraderie as we gathered to celebrate what the Lord has done this year with the choir, and at the Plus for the Christmas concert the night before.  Gloria Godchaux, our board president, called everyone to the Kitchen.  She was about to give me one of the best gifts - hearing what the Lord has done in people through the Choir.  As we pop-corned through the circle, we heard many touching testimonies, and would pause to pray for individuals, and to affirm others.  One of the veterans went around the room hugging each person and sharing whatever words the Holy Spirit gave her for building each person up.  I know there is power in the Spirit of God, and that when we set to knowing the Lord more in community through praise, thanksgiving, and other prayer- the Lord does mighty things - but when I heard the practical truth of the matter I was very touched and humbled.  Stories of the transformative power of God's love, stories of deliverance, of victory in daily living, of redemption, restoration and healing.  One young gal shared "When I came to rehearsal, I knew you guys were loving me for who I was and that I didn't have to wear a mask like I do for all of my "friends."  Another gal shared with me how her daughter was able to see her experience true, sober joy at the Christmas concert at the Plus- a testament to the work of Jesus.  We noticed that there were many things that we didn't pray for, but that God just did.  In all, there is a not a doubt that as we "CollECtively proclaim Jesus through exuberant praise," the inner transformation for individuals is immense, and this bonafide-ly bubbles out when we proclaim Jesus together in public.


The Lord's blessings to you and yours this Christmas and Holiday season.
Prayer requests:
-Pray as we take a break for 2 Mondays that the choir members would keep their fervency in praise and thanksgiving to God!
-Pray that the Lord would build new, transformative bridges as we invite Eau Claire to join the choir for the MLK day commemoration on January 21st.  Pray that the Lord would use the Choir as a tool of reconciliation and trust building in our community among those who feel like outsiders, and between people of different appearances.
-Let us thank God for all of the provision, partnership and help He has provided this year - and for the provision, partnership and help He will provide for this ministry in 2019!

grace and peace,
Michael

SEE VIDEOS FROM THE CONCERT!


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Where is the Love?




I thank the Lord for hearing and answering my prayers over the last few years according to his will - to be able to put a fuller shoulder into the work of the gospel through the CollECtive choir - things that I instinctively knew needed to be tended to, but haven't had the capacity to tend to until now.  I am so excited for this Christmas concert on Sunday, because of the time I have been given to invest in individuals - meeting for coaching, encouragement, and prayer for anyone in the choir presenting.  This concert does not merely represent rehearsed material, but increased expectation of God's transformative power, increased boldness for the redeemed to "Say so"(Psalm 107), and a unique display of love for our great God and for each other, as we share the 'good tidings of great joy' for all people.  Please join us this Sunday, Dec. 9th, 7-9pm at the Plus in downtown Eau Claire for a wonderful, free celebration of God's love! 
We also invite any of you to join us at our year-end potluck celebration at one of our members homes on Monday, Dec. 10th from 6-8pm.  2225 Henry Ave. Eau Claire.  Bring a dish to pass as we celebrate and recount what the Lord has done this year through our Choir community, and meet some of the members.  If you feel inspired (as I do), wear a Christmas sweater:)


Updates:
  • We had another connective and encouraging event with the Hope Gospel Mission celebration dinner on the 30th. God is building some strong ties that are strengthening both communities. 
  • We have reached 63% of our $15,000 one-time donation Goal for 2019, and 25% of our $4,300 monthly donation goal so far! Grants are being instigated as well. We thank God for his provision and care.
Prayer:
  • That the Lord would open ears and eyes this weekend to see and hear the glad tidings of comfort and joy that we have in Jesus. Pray for meekness to receive by faith that gift of new life. 
  • For the Holy Spirit to draw people to the Plus on the 9th to hear of the hope of Salvation and experience a community that is filled with the Joy of the Lord. Pray for the Lord to draw in the weary, the abandoned and marginalized, the hurt, and those with longing hearts. 
  • Pray for the choir for servant hearts as we enter into the Pizza plus venue, that God’s oneness and love might be displayed, and all logistical details would be worked out graciously.
Here are some videos that recap our vision that we are now using to share with the public about the work of the choir (I included Sherry's interview from the last post because of some re-linking with our Youtube Channel)