Episode | April 1, 2024

Transcript for Aaron Shust’s the Walk Podcast

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Aaron Shust: Very, very infrequently am I singing songs from Jesus perspective or from God’s perspective. Usually it’s, it’s like David singing songs to God, but I’m quoting Jesus in Matthew 11. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, rest in peace. God’s word does not return void and there’s power in it beyond what I could conjure up or what I could manipulate emotions and words.

There’s something beautiful about, God, I’m just going to sing your words and I’m going to trust you to do what you say you would do in people’s hearts. And, uh, so, and I, I hope that reaches a young generation and an old generation and everyone in between. It’s the word of God.

Joshua Swanson: Welcome to another episode of The Walk, a podcast focused on devotionals and conversations with the artists of the Church.

Today we’re honored to welcome back, for a fascinating conversation, a truly inspiring figure in the world of Christian music, Aaron Schust. Aaron’s journey through music and faith has touched the lives of countless believers, guiding them closer to the heart of worship. From chart topping hits like My Savior, My God, To deep explorations into the roots of our faith with projects like Heaven and Earth, the psalmist project, he’s shown us the power of worship to transcend mere songs, reaching into the depths of our souls.

Aaron has been with us once before where he shared an amazing devotional about our worth to God. Head to worshipleader. com to hear that episode. Before we dive in though, I wanted to quickly thank our partner at Planning Center. Planning Center is a set of software tools designed to keep you organized and able to communicate with your teams and your congregation.

So one important feature of Planning Center is Privacy Mode, which shields your congregation by keeping emails and phone numbers private. A secure contact me button facilitates. Safe and direct communication among members, so that means your church community can engage and connect confidentially free from the risk of scams.

To learn more, visit [email protected] now and to walk away safe, organized, and prepared to serve your church. Okay, here’s our conversation with Aaron Schutt.

First, we talked to Aaron about the fact that he has focused a lot of his creative efforts recently on Israel. His new song, Jerusalem, which is a beautifully composed song prayer, is the latest example. So we asked him to tell us about his first trip to Israel.

Aaron Shust: First time I went to Israel, which was in January of 2016.

I was slated to be on the, uh, the Bible tour, that previous, that the following March, uh, sponsored by K Love. And, um, and so, uh, They invited a couple of us to, uh, to go to Israel for the first time, just to capture some video, and it seemed like it was just a, a big setup for the, for the tour and the plan was to have a big led wall behind it and to use clips, video clips with sound and everything from the Bible to Israel.

Miniseries, which was, you know, all over TV, uh, and, and incorporate it with separate artists songs. And it was great. Like we submitted our songs and, and they, they put them in the order. We kind of had very little control over that. And at the end of the night, it was an incredible experience because the concert covered Genesis to Revelation visually.

And I just got the story. I remember I’m getting a little tangent here, but I remember one was San Diego. When we, we finally traveled the whole hour through the Old Testament and it got to the first time we saw Jesus walking, it was even kind of blurry, walk, we’d already seen baby Jesus and we saw the Christmas story, but then adult Jesus is walking along the Galilee and someone in the crowd just screamed the name Jesus.

It’s quiet. He just screamed, Jesus. And I’m sitting backstage, standing backstage because I was on next realizing. That’s the name that they’re cheering for. They’re not cheering for Aaron. They’re not cheering for Matthew West. They’re not cheering. They’re cheering for Jesus. And it just felt special. But they captured a bunch of video beforehand.

And that’s why they invited me to go to Israel to capture video, give some testimony in the land about my initial impressions and experiences and capture video around Israel. Um, around the land for use in the concert. It was five days. It was a whirlwind tour. My wife got to come with me. Red carpet experience.

We talked about that. Like this, the, like the, where am I? Oh my goodness. I’m in, I’m in the land. Um, and. I just remember walking through, I’ve told this story before, but walking through Capernaum, which is the North Shore at 12 o’clock on the Sea of Galilee, and it’s Jesus home base during His ministry years.

And I’m reading in Mark chapter 1, I said before it was Mark chapter 2, but in Mark chapter 1, my wife and I are walking through with our Bibles open, and it says that Jesus walked into the city of Capernaum, which we had just done. He went straight to the synagogue because it was Shabbat, uh, and there’s a healing that happens there.

Well, we just walked to the synagogue and you can see there’s a third century synagogue built there now, but you can still see the original stones from the first, the black basalt, the volcanic rock that’s, it’s still there. You can still see the original foundations. Jesus was there and I just read that he had just It says that Jesus walked out.

As soon as that was over, he went to Peter’s house where his mother in law was sick and he healed her. And then at the end of Shabbat, the whole, the whole town comes in and we, you could walk to that place. And here, and my point is, when we walked around Israel, that’s just one example, one story of how we walked around places where I had already read about all my life.

Not that I thought this was fictional, but it just, it just reinforced this is real. It just, it placed so much more value and weight and I knew where these places were because I have maps back here, you know, and I knew where these places were. And so we’re traveling and that initial experience was, was a shock and awe experience.

Fell in love with the land, fell in love with the topography, fell in love with the food. Uh, I already loved the land because I, this is, it’s in the word of God. So it felt very important, much more important than any trip to Fiji, uh, Italy, anywhere exotic. This was exotic, but with weight, with spiritual value.

Joshua Swanson: Why is Israel still so important?

Aaron Shust: In our day and age, we, we, we want to be, you know, We want everything, we want, we want to be sensitive to, to make sure that we don’t, uh, uh, elevate something over another. And it’s a, it’s a mysterious thing that God has chosen Israel. That God chose Abraham from among the nations.

People don’t realize that Abraham wasn’t Jewish. He was just a man from Ur, from the Chaldeans, uh, a pagan civil, they probably worshiped other gods, but he chose him and, uh, and chose him for what is, is the question. You know, we know that through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and God made these promises of his faithfulness to Israel, which was Jacob’s new name to, and his descendants forever.

And that’s, that’s a fascinating thing. And so here we are, thousands of years after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Israel and the descendants that we know of, some of the descendants, you know, from the tribe of Judah are still alive today and they still worship the God of their ancestors. And I only know from what.

What’s up God’s sleeve, and I’ve been singing myself, I’ve been singing for years. I’m not skilled to understand what God has willed, what God has planned, but he has revealed some things in this, in this word about the, the, the role that Israel, the literal, I believe the literal children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, uh, play in.

In, in the last days, you know, 27 percent of the Bible is prophecy. I don’t think a lot of people realize 20 predictive prophecy, not just truth telling prophecy, but predictive future truth, telling prophetic words. And only half of them have been fulfilled so far. And we, we. I think as Christians, I’ll speak for myself as a Christian, I’ve grown up subconsciously thinking, man, what were those people thinking 2000 years ago when Jesus was walking around fulfilling prophecies, they, they, they didn’t believe it.

And yet I look at, at myself and I look at some of my Christian brothers and sisters and I’m seeing prophecies, these prophecies being fulfilled through Israel. Today. And I think we dismiss them as a big deal. They became a nation. Big deal. But wow, they, the, the, the prophecies that are being fulfilled are amazing.

And I just don’t want to miss it. I don’t, I personally don’t want to be guilty of being one of the blind ones. Who, you know, Jesus even said, you guys, you know how to predict the weather tomorrow, but you can’t predict the signs of the times, you know, you’re blind and I don’t want to be blind. And so I, I, I just think even if I can’t fully explain what God’s doing with Israel, I believe that God has not given up.

You know, Paul even says that in Romans, like, has God turned his back on his children? Has God rejected Israel? No way, no way. And so, um, Yes, I love, uh, I love the people of Israel and I love, I love her neighbors. I love her Arab neighbors as well. And I don’t believe God loves, uh, either one of them anymore or less, but God does have specific plans for specific people or specific nations and specifically the people of Israel.

I just want to, I want to stand with them even if the world stands against them.

Joshua Swanson: We then asked Aaron about leadership and how one generation can serve the next.

Aaron Shust: I think in, in Christendom, every generation does their best to, to be authentic and to be real. And I think every ensuing generation critically analyzes what the older generation has established is what is authentic.

And they, they see the holes. In, in what we’ve created, and I can speak for myself as a 20-year-old, I looked at what the 40 year olds and the, and the 60 year olds before them had established this is the way that you do church. And I, I was fresh enough to, to be able to see, but why do you do that? Why is that a thing?

And, and there’s, and I can, I can, I can find myself being discontented in the way that they do things that doesn’t resonate with the way that I would want to do something. And I have a couple of different responses. I can, I can take a couple of different avenues. I can, I can, um, I can, I can reject it altogether and just say, well, this is not for me.

Uh, I can try to fix them and make it, make it, make them, or I can, or I could learn from it and recognize it for what it, what it is, is that we are people Trying to do our best to worship the Lord together. Uh, and there’s going to be differences in how we worship, not only generationally, but culturally, but in multiple different ways.

When I, I have, I have three sons and, um, my youngest has, has down syndrome. And he, he’s, he’s just a gem. Uh, he’s a, he’s a special case in many ways. Uh, but my, my two older boys, 16 and 14. They may forget to brush their teeth every once in a while, but I have so much hope in them. I have so much hope in the future, especially when it comes to gathering.

You know, I think of the Jewish, the Hebrew word, excuse me, the Hebrew word for gathering is knesset. And their word for synagogue, where they meet and where they gather to worship, is called dachbar. The Beit Knesset, the House of Gathering. And I think, I think that’s what’s so important and what should be natural.

When you find yourself, I love going back to the beginning, the initial iteration of any thing. And so I think about the early church and I think about them recognizing, wow, we, even though that first day of Pentecost, 3, 000 were added to the number, they were still a minority. In a, in a city full of, of, of Jewish worshipers of the Almighty God who didn’t believe that the Messiah had come yet.

So there they are, a minority. Of course they’re going to gather. I think a lot of those 3, 000 were probably from other cities and other countries who were there for the festival and they went home eventually. So even a smaller minority, of course they’re going to gather. Because we believe the same thing and we need each other.

We need, we need to come together and talk about what, what’s exciting to us and what we’re learning from the scriptures. And, and let’s sing some songs that, that talk about the fact that the Messiah has come. Um, our, our friend Jacob last week just wrote a song. Let’s sing that together. And, um, And I feel like, uh, as, as the generations progress, and we add traditions and we add things to it, it potentially comes something very far removed from the pure purpose of gathering in the first place.

And I think the younger generation recognizes that. Any, any younger generation, any next generation recognizes that. And I think, uh, now that I’m 40, I was, when I was 20, I was shooting holes in the, in the processes of gathering. Processes of the 40 year olds, and now I’m in my forties. Um, I, I want the younger generation to lovingly say.

Why do we do this? I want them to ask the questions, to be, not to be accusatory, not to condemn me for being old school, but to say, why, why do we do this? Because maybe there’s a chance to learn why, hey, here’s why we choose to do this. Or it might make me ask questions like, why, why do I do that? Whatever, I don’t want to get nitpicky or particular, we all have our traditions and, but why do I do that?

Well, I’m glad you asked that because now that I think about it, there’s a really good reason that we do that. And here it is. And then it’s an opportunity for generations to come together, but to, to remove themselves from the whole equation isn’t going to help the body at large. You know, we need multiple generations to work together.

Joshua Swanson: More from Aaron Schust in a minute.

Given Aaron’s extensive background in the church, we asked about his experience growing up in that environment.

Aaron Shust: I grew up in a Christian home. Both my parents, um, believers in a small church So, um, I was born in Pittsburgh, uh, outside of Pittsburgh without a hundred members, but it was where my grandmother was, was saved right after World War II.

Her husband was killed in World War II and she believed that God was punishing her for not going to church. So ironically, she went to church because she thought God was punishing her. And yet that’s when the truth was revealed to her. No, God loves you. God loves you. And she came to faith. And then she wanted to go to church, which is what we were just talking about.

It wasn’t, she wasn’t being forced into, into religious duty. She wanted to gather with God. Fellow believers. And that’s the same church was where I was born. And I actually went back in my, um, late thirties, um, and moved back there, brought my family there. I led worship there, um, for about seven years. But But my, my mom was in, when I was a kid, my mom was in charge of the music.

Um, so she played piano. She, she, you know, accompanied the hymns and she chose the songs for the choir and choir practice on Wednesday nights and choir on Sunday mornings. And the kids choir, we do a special in September, a cantata, children’s cantatas, choir cantatas for the kids, whatever. Um, I think that’s the Italian word for song.

So, but whatever, uh, and then Christmas, of course. So I was always involved with. With singing and music and. And the church, the body, the gathering, you know, the ekklesia, the gathering of believers. It was just a part of my natural rhythm. And my dad was an elder, and he would often welcome the people and give the announcements.

And even though my dad would not say he’s musical, somehow, in a small church, they put him in charge of leading the hymns. You know, I would say, slice the bread and move it over, slice the bread and move it over. And so, it was, it was We were always there. We were always at the church. I still to this day, I’m 47, I have dreams that just take place in the hallways of my childhood church.

We were there so often. So, no matter what the dream is, it doesn’t matter, but it’s probably going to take place in that childhood church. So it was, um, and it was by no means perfect, uh, because once people are involved, it’s going to get messy. And it was messy, and there was messy leadership, and there was messy interpersonal relationships, and that’s, and until, until the Lord comes back and reigns and brings peace to this world, we’re gonna, we’re gonna struggle with this, and I long for that day.

But I believed, I never doubted, I believed that if I have a spiritual gift given to me by God, it’s the gift of faith, I’ve always believed. That what I read in this book is true. Um, and therefore, even when things get messy, I know that we, we need each other. I need people. And I saw that demonstrated in my family’s life.

Even when things got difficult, they relied on the brothers and sisters. And there were times where other people were going through a hard time and they relied on my parents to lift them up and to care for them and to bring them over and to make them food and to just pour into them. And so, uh, I can’t imagine.

Yeah. I’m a, I’m an introvert. I’m a five on the Enneagram. I’ve always said like, uh, solitary confinement would not bother me. I’d be okay. So I have to force myself into relationship and say, I acknowledge I need you and maybe you need me. And that’s the beauty of the gathering of the church.

Joshua Swanson: Are you focused on staying relevant with your music?

Aaron Shust: When it comes to songwriting, it’s, uh, I think sonically, you know, I see that as the vehicle that it’s going to carry certain places. And, uh, and so like sonically, am I going to take it toward what, what I think might be what a younger generation might admire or in doing, I’m always looking for this.

People might frown upon this, but the middle ground, I want songs to be timeless, if at all possible. I don’t want to focus toward one generation and alienate. Another, or vice versa, either. I remember having a conversation with the producer about a song, a single we were going to start working on. And, uh, he’s like, so let me just ask, like, do you want this to be modern or do you want this to be classic?

I was like, classic. Like, I want this to sound good now, and I want it to sound good 50 years from now. That’s, that’s my, that’s my MO. If it shoots me in the foot at all, I hope it just shoots me in the foot now. But that, you know, 40 years from now, I’m like, God, this is a timeless sound. That’s always what I’m, I’m, I’m going for.

And sometimes you succeed and sometimes you fail, but the content, the content should be eternal. And that’s why I love going to scripture. Um, I’ve obviously written songs that are not from scripture, that are just from my own pontifications and my own prayers, but I love performing. And I say that as an artist, I know sometimes performance and worship leading can get muddled.

Um, I love executing a song live when it’s scripture, when it’s coming from the word of God. I did, I did a, uh, a song come to me from Matthew 20, uh, Matthew 11, 28 to 30 and it’s just Jesus words. Very, very infrequently am I singing songs from Jesus perspective or from God’s perspective. Usually it’s, it’s like David singing songs to God, but I’m quoting Jesus in Matthew 11, Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.

And God’s word does not return void and there’s power in it beyond what I could conjure up or what I could manipulate emotions and words. There’s something beautiful about God. I’m just going to sing your words and I’m going to trust you to do what you say you will do in people’s hearts. And, uh, so, and I, I hope that reaches a young generation and an old generation and everyone in between.

It’s the word of God.

Joshua Swanson: We asked Aaron, at what point did you realize that songwriting was your calling?

Aaron Shust: I wrote my first song when I was 11 years old. It was just music, just piano. I took piano since I was 7 years old, piano lessons. But I didn’t write my first song with words until, uh, the day before I moved 600 miles away from home to college.

I was 17 years old, two months away from being 18. I just found out the night before that a girl that I liked, liked me back. And here I am packing my bags and leaving the state. States away. And that was enough of an emotional experience for me to write a song about just, Oh my goodness, I wish I could stay one more day.

And I played it for some of my new friends in college and like, This is a really good song. It was encouraging. I never recorded that professionally. That was just for, just for me and my friends. But not too long after that, during my freshman year, I just thought, What if I could capture some of what I’m feeling spiritually on my spiritual journey, uh, and put that into a song, uh, and I just messed around with some fun chords in the practice rooms of, of my, of the music wing of my school in Northeast Georgia.

And I loved the process, loved the experience of taking my musical education and theory and melodies from all these songs. I remember hearing a while ago. Uh, and an old, uh, magazine article, I think it was CCM and, uh, Michael W. Smith in the 80s. He talked about, um, his, anybody’s style is like taking every piece of music that you’ve ever listened to, put it into a blender, and just, and what, what comes out is gonna be your style.

You know, so you listen to Stevie Wonder, you listen to Chicago, you listen to Bach, whatever, whatever your blend is. That’s going to be unique to you. Um, and that gave me a lot of freedom. I don’t need to sound like him. I don’t need to sound like them. I can just sound like me. And that was, that was, that was a lot.

I got the bug about writing songs from, from scripture. It might’ve been, it was, it was during college. I can’t remember which year. Um, but I went up to the top of this 186 foot waterfall with my Bible. My guitar, and I opened up my Bible, and I opened the Psalm 93, and I read, The Lord reigns. He is robed in majesty.

The Lord is robed with strength. I’m like, this is what I want to sing. Not, not my opinion about stuff. I want to sing, the Lord reigns, and just something happened inside of me reading that. Wrote a melody, wrote a chorus, I was asked shortly after if I would just lead general worship for our chapel services as people walked in, because we were just doing hymns.

It was 1996, something like that. And I eventually introduced that song to my student body, the thousand of us. And a thousand of my peers were worshiping the Lord to the words of Psalm 93 with my music. And that blew my mind. And, and, and still to this day, I’m writing songs from the Psalms and from scripture.

Don’t plan to stop.

Joshua Swanson: What advice would you give to your

Aaron Shust: younger self? I think I put a lot of pressure on myself, and I still do. I’m still guilty of this, and I have to constantly remind myself that I don’t have the ability to direct my steps. A man plans his ways, the Lord directs his steps. Sometimes we take cliché phrases and dismiss them because they’ve been used so much, cliché, but sometimes there’s a lot of truth to them, and I remember around 30 years old just coming to grips with the idea that I want, I need to bloom where I’m planted, because.

Now, what brought me to that obvious realization was that I had spent probably a full year dreaming about what I wanted to do in the future, which is not a bad thing, but forsaking what was in my lap to do today, just not put, I was still getting the job done, but I wasn’t putting my whole heart, soul, strength into it.

And you know, Jesus talks about not worrying about tomorrow or not even making plans to say, we’re going to go to this or that city and conduct business. You don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring. Just say, if the Lord wills, we’re going to do this or that. And that’s the, that’s the lesson that I wish I had learned, um, younger because I’ve seen over the years, God direct my steps.

To places and in directions that I never could have fathomed, that I never could have imagined. And I’m thinking, man, how much time, how much bandwidth, how much energy did I spend just in my own contemplations, planning and designing and thinking, this is where I’m going to go. Laura’s story talks about how sometimes things happen in life that we think is a detour off of the path that we want to go on.

This is our, this is our intended path. And then something happens and it’s a detour, like,

Joshua Swanson: Oh,

Aaron Shust: not this detour. And then in hindsight, you realize, Oh, that wasn’t the detour. That was always the plan. That was always the plan. And I dismissed it as a detour or I got upset. I got frustrated. And that frustration affects my relationships with my family, my friends, because I’m just a frustrated.

Young man. Uh, and yet it was God’s plan all along. And do I want my plan or do I want God’s plan? Now that sounds like a Sunday school answer in the making, but I, I do, I want God’s plan, even if it’s not my design. You know, we talk about God giving us the desires of our hearts, and I love the idea. This is something I learned.

Um. Just, just the, the potential, hey, that God’s going to give you desires of your heart. Maybe that means that God is going to give you a desire that you don’t currently have. You know, my desire is to go to California, but God’s going to give me a desire for Wisconsin. Like that, like for example, you know what I’m saying?

Like, uh, so for me to just to stick with that example, go guy, I have a desire for California. So God’s going to give it to me. Um, yeah. Like, no, maybe he’s going to actually give me a desire for something that I’d never thought I would desire. Nothing against Wisconsin. It’s a beautiful state. I keep a journal.

I was encouraged in 1993, right when I graduated from high school by a friend, new buddy, to start keeping a journal. And so I did. I began and it was clunky at first. I didn’t know why I was writing to whom I was writing. But after a short time of a few clunky entries, I thought, you know what? I’m going to make this a prayer journal and I don’t journal every day, but sometimes things happen those moments that you think I need to, I need to write this down because I might forget it.

Apparently you, you remember 80 percent of what you write down. So even if you wrote it down and balled it up and threw it away, you’re more likely to remember it. But man, what a blessing it’s been to me to go back over the years and read my own words of what God was teaching me in any given moment. And, uh, so.

Yeah, blooming where you’re planted, journal, and I would recommend a prayer journal. I think it’s beautiful. Like, God, what are you doing? Some crazy things are happening or God, I can’t pay the bills or God, I have this desire and it’s not happening. God, why am I still single? God, whatever, whatever it is, just to, as opposed to like, do your diary, why are you writing to a diary?

Talk to God, you know, um, and that’s, that’s been my prayer journal and that’s been incredibly valuable. Do you view your artistic creation as a form of ministry? I think just, uh, to define the word artist, uh, cause that can be, that can be more narrow than it needs to be. But I think, uh, when you, when you consider art as being a valuable vehicle, uh, with which to carry truth or even a belief or a thought, but to do it with art that makes you an artist, whether you’re painting or you’re, uh, so let’s just, let’s move past the capital a artist as in I’m signed on a record label that it’s, that’s too narrow.

As an artist ministry minded, I think it has to care about other people. I think, I think it has to ask the question, this art that I’m creating, whether it’s live or studio or a paint, this art that I’m creating, does it help point other people? To the beauty and the power and the glory and the goodness of God.

That to me is, is ministry. Does it help, uh, coming up, you know, Jesus minister to the people in a, in a very physical way, he healed their, he healed them of their diseases. Um, he ministered to them. So if I’m not physically healing somebody, maybe I’m bringing them food. Is there a, how, what’s the art around that?

I don’t know. May the Lord bless your imagination to come up with how to do that. But I mean, if, if it’s not. Helping other people physically, emotionally, spiritually, directing them to God. Then if anything, I’m in danger of ministering to myself. If it’s self serving, if it just makes me feel good, if it just helps me, if it just sells tickets, if it just works for me.

sells, uh, if it just streams more than it’s not, it’s not ministry, it might not be wrong, but I wouldn’t, I think we can muddy the waters and call things ministry that aren’t ministry, that isn’t ministry. You know, um, I remember, I remember this is slightly different, but I remember standing backstage with a fellow artist who would not consider himself a worship leader.

And, uh, as has been said for, for years now, the MC. Very kindly and innocently welcomed everybody and said get ready for a night of worship and the guy sitting next to me Who’s not a worship leader a believer and wrote songs about life and that were God glorifying I believe it was just like this is not because this is not a night of worship Like this like it hit in his mind like it was concert It was a concert, like, we’re here to entertain you.

We’re gonna glorify God as we do it, hopefully, but we’re here to entertain you. And, and I, and, uh, I think we muddy the water sometimes. And sometimes, you know, uh, sometimes worship, a worship experience is very entertaining and sometimes an entertaining experience is very worshipful. And, and so I think we just, you know, we talk about labels.

We just need to be careful how we label things, you know?

Joshua Swanson: What are you writing about right now?

Aaron Shust: I just finished a writing season and just released an album of, of psalms. And so it was a, uh, I just, in my 10th album, I picked 10 of my favorite psalms. And, um, it was, Uh, I think some people hear that like, Oh, so you just, you just came up with some music and you just sang the Psalms.

But, uh, it was a, it was a special, it was a, it was a holy sacred moment to craft, to take, first of all, to say, God, what do you want? Which ones do you want me to sing? Uh, is, is choosing Psalm 23 a little too on the nose? Should I pick some deep tracks or is it okay? Like, no, I really want to do Psalm 23. And so to.

To just read it and read it and try to find the rhythms and try to find the, but granted it’s English. It’s not the original rhythm from Hebrew. Uh, but to just, what, it’s not about what’s the right melody. What’s my melody, what melody. And it’s, and to say like, okay, so are we going to repeat? Here’s an example.

Like I said, the Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. He makes me lie down in fields. Then I went back to the beginning. The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. He leaves me beside water still because I wanted it to run. So there’s a craft and there’s an art involved in that writing process, but yet there’s something so satisfying about knowing, even if someone’s never heard this song before, they’re going to recognize it as familiar because we know these Psalms.

If you love the Psalms, you know, we, I know these words, I know this truth. And so hopefully it’s a, it’s a pleasing melody and it’s a pleasing vehicle with, with this music to carry it. Um, but I really, I really love that. And, um, so it’s the,

Joshua Swanson: it’s the word of God in worship. Finally, Aaron’s depth of faith inspired us to ask, how do you lead worship without clean hands and a pure heart?

Aaron Shust: I believe God is kind enough to use broken vessels in our weakest of moments. I’ve seen that happen. When I Come to the table, a. k. a. the stage, having just had a difficult discussion with my wife. But unfortunately it was time to go. We didn’t have time to wrap up this disagreement and I have to take the stage and I tell you where that was really hard was when I was leading worship in our small little church in Pennsylvania and, uh, she would walk into the service.

And I see her walk in the back, and I’m on stage praising the Lord, and I know that I was not Christ like to her that morning. My patience had run thin. And those are the moments that, um, just remind me how not awesome I am, you know? And I think, and I was just reading this morning, um, Psalm 24, who can ascend the hill of the Lord.

He who has clean hands and a pure heart. And I, um, I, you need to make things right with people. And sometimes you don’t have time to, uh, because it’s time to go and the service starts in five minutes and I’m going to take the stage. And even in that moment, just to say, God, forgive me, like what’s 1 John 1, 9, uh, if you confess your sins, he is faithful and he is just, and he will forgive you your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness.

And if I need to believe that. Um, in the moment when I come to the stage, not with clean hands and not with a pure heart, I really believe that God is gracious enough, kind enough, merciful enough to just hear me say, God forgive me. And I’m clean and I don’t, I don’t want to create a thought, a theology that says, or a doctrine that says that if I’m not clean, that God will not use me because I’ve seen him use me when I’m not clean.

That said, I don’t want to just go through life, a dirty vessel trusting that God’s going to use me anyhow. Cause I do believe there’s a verse in second Chronicles 16, nine, that the eyes of the Lord are clean. Roaming to and fro throughout the earth, whole earth, to give his strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.

And man, when I read that, I’m like, God, I don’t want to miss your strong support. I need your strong support. So as your eyes are roaming to and fro throughout the whole earth, may they fall on me. May I be blameless and the only way I’m going to be blameless is if you cleanse me and you make me blameless, you know?

So I think it’s that constant thing. It’s that constant, uh, there’s something to be said as a, as a, a worship leader of always kind of being in the spotlight, so to speak, that if you believe that it’s important to have clean hands and a pure heart before God. I mean, I’m in a constant state of confession, you know, like the old hymn, I need thee every hour.

I mean, the only reason they sang that is because I need thee every minute didn’t flow quite as well as a songwriter, but we do like every hour, goodness gracious, you know, how many times an hour do I need to come to God saying, God, forgive me, use me, direct me, focus me. And so I’m so grateful that God uses broken vessels.

Joshua Swanson: Thank you to Aaron Schust for spending time with us and engaging in a fantastic conversation. Again, Aaron has a devotional episode on the walk that you can find on worshipleader. com. And don’t miss the lyric video of Aaron’s latest song, Jerusalem, available in the show notes for this episode. Please consider subscribing to our podcast and leaving us a review if you haven’t already.

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Until next time, thanks for listening.