One of my favorite teachers, Dr. Mike Murdock says “Knowledge is the seed for change”
I agree. I believe that you can’t really experience true change until you acquire and apply the knowledge required to make that change happen. That’s why I have made up my mind to learn as much as I can everywhere I am. I learn from people regardless of their age, stature race color or creed. Isaiah says “And WISDOM and KNOWLEDGE shall be the STABILITY of thy times, and strength of salvation…” (Isaiah 33:6)
On Sunday, I was privileged to learn from one of the greatest gospel musicians in this generation.
I’d share a few of the things I learned from him with you but only after I’ve done two things:
First, a really brief introduction of Israel Houghton. (I don’t want to assume that you know him.)
Second, a detailed overview of the service through the eyes of Pastor Temi Odejide, the set man at the House On The Rock, London, a consummate communicator, and visionary leader that I deeply respect and I’m privileged to serve under. His report is so excellently done. There’s no need for me to write another one.
Israel Houghton is a singer, composer, multi-instrumentalist, producer and worship leader, he has created a canon of songs that have become standards in houses of faith around the globe. He has accomplished this largely as the leader of “Israel and New Breed,” a Grammy, Stellar and Dove Award-winning musical ensemble and ministry organization that has amassed gold-selling albums and critical platitudes reserved for the best of the best.
Over the past decade, Israel has amassed a legion of fans while blasting down musical barriers, and drawing together people of all races, ages and cultures through worship. He has been fittingly graced with 2 Gold-selling albums, numerous Dove and Stellar Awards, a Soul Train Award, and 4 Grammy® Awards – three for “Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album” for the Love God. Love People. The Power of One, and A Deeper Level albums and one award for “Best Traditional Gospel Album” for Alive In South Africa.
It was such a privilege having him with us on Sunday.
Here’s an overview of the service in Pastor Temi’s words:
ISRAEL WAS IN THE HOUSE!
“We successfully hosted Israel & New Breed in House on the Rock, London Lighthouse yesterday(Sunday, December 9, 2012)… and WOW, was it an experience over flowing from the EXPERIENCE in Lagos! We were in the overflow.
As early as 7am a few people were already slipping into the Rock Tower, 49 Tufnell Park Road, London. N7 0PS. There was a definite buzz of expectation in the air. The buzz kept on mounting till it was clearly ringing all around.
At 9am pre-service prayers started. The pre-service prayers and worship was charged with the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
HillCity Mass Choir opened the service with energetic worship led by Minister Aaron T. Aaron. Israel & New Breed stepped into the service as the worship was rounding up. The transition into HillCity’s special number was smooth. Minister Nwando opened HillCity’s number with her heavenly sonorous voice exploring her immense vocal range, from undoubted strength to exquisite finesse.
I was seated beside Israel. He was ‘feeling’ her and the choir. Even the eyes of members of New Breed were ablaze with admiration.
I stepped up to the pulpit. The anticipation was palpable. It was not easy trying to introduce this trail-blazing worship leader. I acknowledged & appreciated the graces of my Papa; Pastor Paul Adefarasin for making this happen. Then I brought Israel up.
Here words fail.
His first set of songs were electric praise. The music was outstanding. Seeing Israel moving with such ease from guitar to vocals was truly a beauty to behold. He finished his 1st set in 30mins. The congregation was rapturous.
God was in the House.
After Israel’s first set of songs, I came up to bring up Pastor Dami Oluwatoyinbo for a short exhortation. This was not easy as the congregation wanted more of Israel. I assured them that he would be back.
Against this backdrop Rev. Dami delivered the goods. And oh boy did he deliver! In 25mins flat this young preacher took the congregation into a well-illustrated homily titled ‘Your Praise Will Turn It Around’. He had us jumping, shouting and running around the building. Israel was in awe as we chatted on the side.
I went up after Pastor Dami to welcome the 1st timers and bring Israel back up for his 2nd and final set.
Israel’s second set of songs were the best. He weaved between praise & worship seamlessly. He moved effortlessly from keyboard to guitar to vocals. New Breed was in the zone. His 2nd set was 50minutes short. His live medley of his songs are a wonder to behold. Even if you have all his albums like I do, experiencing him live is unbeatable. He did classics like ‘Alpha & Omega’. He climaxed the set with ‘Jesus at the Center’. I came in to make an altar call. A lady came to the altar in tears. Another rushed forward in surrender. The congregation was in genuine heartfelt repentance. We were all putting Jesus back at the center of it all!
Israel closed it down with a praise song.
Wow! What a service! What a visitation!
But the truth is (even as testified by Israel): it was not really about Israel being in the house. IT WAS ABOUT GOD BEING IN THE HOUSE.
God was and is in this House!
It is time to get into the House where God is too.
It is time to make sure God is in your house!
Israel sang ‘Your Presence is Heaven to Me!’ I concur, The presence of God is heaven to me.
BB pin: 25BBDB95
Now, to the lessons, I learned from Israel Houghton.
1. Humility is the key to greatness
It’s not in my place to determine who’s humble and who’s not. I don’t have such powers conferred on me. However, there are a few things that reflect the humility of a man’s heart. The willingness to learn from another and the willingness to acknowledge and appreciate greatness in another are a few of such. I saw these in Israel. He has served under some of the most celebrated voices. He refers to Fred Hammond as one of his mentors. If you listen closely to his songs, you can tell that he has been influenced by a wide variety of musicians. That’s why he’s so dynamic. So eclectic. So phenomenal. When he stepped up the stage, he reached out to as many people as he could physically connect with-the pastors and all the choristers on stage. Not doing that wouldn’t have meant he was prideful. Doing that doesn’t even mean he’s humble but it reflects a heart that is simple…willing to reach… willing to connect. That speaks a lot more of humility than pride.
2. Your History Doesn’t Have To Destroy Your Destiny
Israel Houghton was a teenager when she became pregnant with him. It was a pregnancy out of wedlock and she was under tremendous pressure to abort her unborn child. However, God in His mercy and sovereignty sent a lady to speak words of hope to her. Consequently, Israel’s mother gave her heart to Jesus. She didn’t succumb to the pressure to “take out” the baby. Today, that “baby” is a blessing to millions of people around the world. Israel grew up without his father. He had to grow through many of life’s challenges without the presence of a biological father. That didn’t stop him from rising and shining. What have you been through? What are you going through? Israel’s history didn’t stop him neither should yours.
3. It Pays To Work On Yourself
One of the things that amazed me about Israel was that he was singing passionately and playing different instruments skilfully. That says a lot. He may have been born with a great voice but he still had to work on himself. He had to learn how to “find” his own voice. He has worked under Fred Hammond and he refers to Fred as his musical mentor but his style is different from that of his mentor. He is unique. That speaks of hard-work, dedication, consistency.
I watched him play the guitar and keyboard with such dexterity and excellence. I haven’t met anyone who plays any musical instrument with ease and excellence who didn’t have to invest several hours, days, weeks, months and sometimes years. He’s not just gifted. He’s skillful. He has invested in himself. Are you investing in yourself?
4. Keep Jesus Christ At The Center of It All
Israel Houghton’s gifts and skills have opened several doors for him. He has been on more platforms than most people will ever be privileged to access. He has won several awards. He has written and performed scores of songs but he doesn’t ascribe the glory to himself. He ascribes the glory to Jesus. Pop culture keep fame and fortune at the center but Israel keeps Jesus Christ at the center. Fame and fortune have their place. A little bit of both could be of benefit however, they are limited. It’s possible to be famous and still lack peace and joy. It’s possible to have huge sums of money and lack the finer things of life-things that money cannot buy but Jesus promises that if we follow him, we will not work in darkness and we will have ABUNDANT LIFE. ABUNDANT LIFE is LIFE that is “SUPERIOR in quality and SUPERABUNDANT in quantity” Life that has meaning here on earth and continues beyond our time on earth. Are you keeping Jesus at the center?