Lincoln Brewster: In Spirit and Truth

By   •   May 15, 2008

As a former guitarist and composer with platinum-selling rock band Journey, Lincoln now chooses to openly praise God with his talent, and through his message, encourages others to follow Jesus Christ.

He and his band played at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association headquarters in Charlotte, N.C., where we had a chance to sit down with him.

Q/ You’re a “worship leader,” so why exactly do we worship?

A/ In terms of what it does for the believer, the Bible says that God inhabits the praises of His people. The Bible also says that times of refreshing come from the presence of the Lord. So when we worship and we praise God, He’s there. He shows up, and that brings refreshing and encouragement.

For me, if I had to go back to when God really did something in my heart and really changed me, a lot of that happened just in moments during worship–and during preaching as well, hearing the Word. But my heart was softened during the worship, and then you want to hear. It can be a lifter in different ways.

We worship because God commands it. It’s all about relationship. If you look through the Bible, God is always about relationship.

Interesting thing, when we look at Jesus, he was probably the hardest on the Pharisees, but really they were some of the most holy living people of the day. Why would you be hard on those guys? Well it was all heart, authenticity, intent, relationship. God is way more focused on the inward things than on the outward things for sure.

When you start to break it down, true worship is in spirit and in truth. It’s got to be honest. You can go through the motions, but you don’t get worship credit just for showing up during the music time at church.

The Romans 12 thing is that we would all offer our bodies as living sacrifices, and that is our reasonable act of worship.

“…Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1, NIV).

And clearly when you look at people, it’s by design that we worship. It’s what we were made for. We worship everything under the sun, so we don’t have a worship issue: we’ve got a direction issue.

Q/ How can worship be evangelistic?

A/ I struggled with this question when we moved out to Bayside. Bayside is a highly evangelistic church, and here I am really worship focused … I didn’t know how my wife and I were going to fit in, or how that was going to work.

And one day, I just remember God going, “If My name be lifted up, I will draw all men unto Myself.” And I was like “Aha! So we’ve got to lift Your name up and then You’ll draw them.” Yes, it’s simple. It was so simple it felt silly.

Yet you talk to people in certain circles and they go, “Oh, you can’t do worship. It’s foreign to nonbelievers.” I understand the concept of that, but I think that when we dilute the idea that God’s power can work through our obedience, then that’s silly.

My job in [the worship] process is to lift Him up, and then God does the rest. I always want to challenge people to worship authentically in truth and passionately. Seek after God.

Q/ You have a new CD, and it’s coming out in September, “Today Is the Day” …

A/ Yeah. The 23rd is the actual date.

Q/ So what themes did you explore in those songs as you listened to what God was laying on your heart?

A/ Clearly, our pastor, Ray, his influence will be all over this CD in terms of the content. Today is the Day is very like, “Hey man, let’s go for it! I’m leaving my past behind. I’m moving forward.”

“Let’s go for it! I’m leaving my past behind. I’m moving forward.”

There’s another song called “Best Days,” that the rest of your life can be the best of your life, that’s what that song is about. It’s Philippians 1:6.

“…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

It’s funny; I’ve actually needed to write a verse for that song. It’s almost finished. It’s already totally recorded except for two verses, and I think I got them today, which is really cool.

It’s that declaration. “By God’s grace, I won’t be captivated by culture, controlled by critics, discouraged by problems or distracted. When times get tough I won’t back up, back off, back down or back out. To my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I say, ‘however, whenever, wherever and whatever You ask me to do, the answer is YES'” …

That to me is the content for the verses of that song. The kind of pre-chorus, it says, “With everything that You’ve started in me, I believe that You will be faithful. And I receive everything that You’re doing in me, and I believe that the rest of my life will be the best days of my life.”

It’s a real kind of positive, optimistic outlook. Some people have gone, “Well how can you really say that? What about people who are ill?”

“It’s a real kind of positive, optimistic outlook.”

If you look at the Christian life kind of holistically… so you die. Great! That’s when it really is going to get good. I think it’s ok to believe God for great things in this life.

I knew a lady, a good friend of mine who was on our worship team, who had brain cancer. She told me that she had some of the best time with the Lord after she got sick, which is pretty awesome if you think about it. She knew that she was going to get to see Him soon.

So that’s definitely one of the themes, letting God’s glory shine through your life. There’s another song on there called “Let Your Glory Shine.”

There’s one that’s called “Give Him Praise” that’s kind of a R&B Gospel flavor that a guy named Israel Houghton sang on with me. It’s just an absolute riot. It’s probably one of those speeding ticket songs if you listen to it in the car!

I wanted to make a very encouraging and uplifting project that was very worshipful at the same time.

Q/ It’s good with all the things that are going on in the world; people may feel in a spiritual slump and need a positive message.

A/ Yeah, it’s funny. Our bass player Norm, he drove down last night and he had a crazy day yesterday: his flight delayed, just a really miserable day.

He said he was driving down in the wee hours of the morning from Raleigh, and he told me this morning, he was like, “Hey, man. I was just listening to ‘Today is the Day’ on the way down. I just really got to say it like really got me pumped up!”

And I was like, “It works!” To me, when it really hits home with people who have been playing it … that’s a good thing.

Q/ You spoke earlier about how you were at the Ottawa Billy Graham Crusade [in 1998]. What did that mean to you?

A/ There’s actually a lot to it … I was involved at the time with a church that left me pretty confused theologically. I had been taught all kinds of things about the presence of God and somebody carrying the Holy Spirit.

When Dr. Graham walked on the platform, and it wasn’t a weird thing at all, I had just never sensed the presence of God on someone’s life like that ever. It blew me away.

Obviously God very uniquely blessed him and gifted him, and even being here [at BGEA], you know, … I just start to cry. I think he represents to me all the things you want to be for God. His humility is just challenging and inspiring: his faithfulness, his consistency.

The thing that stunned me at that Crusade was he got up and spoke, and it reminded me of how Paul says basically, “I didn’t come here to ‘wow’ you with big words. I just came to preach Christ.” And that’s all he did, and gosh he probably spoke maybe 10 or 15 minutes. It was short. It was just unbelievable.

It felt like, “Ok, so God uses men on the earth.” Watching Billy Graham, if he was any less there, if he was any less of himself, he wouldn’t even be there. It’s absolute minimum Billy and maximum God. You don’t see that very often.

It’s just challenging. … We played in Indianapolis, and when I saw him on the screen I remember vividly looking up where I was standing and going, “Oh, Lord, let me be serving you like that. Let me get to that age, and when I am, let me be serving you like he is.”

Ottawa was specifically very special. My wife was there, and we had a similar experience–the powerful presence of God. We had come out of a charismatic background, and I left [the Crusade] and went, “Ok, I have never felt the presence of God like that.” And that was an eye opener for me.

God will move wherever and whenever he pleases and through whomever he pleases. And boy did He ever!

Visit Lincoln Brewster’s website

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