Justin Rizzo – A Levite in the House of Prayer
Justin Rizzo is one of my favorite worship leaders… His songs have such a heavy priestly anointing, he reminds me of a literal old testament priest that uses the New Covenant Blood of Jesus to wash God’s people clean! The grace that God has given him to make songs out of new testament scriptures as well as scriptures all over the Bible is a huge blessing to the Body of Christ. Let’s find out more about what drives J.Rizzo to worship the Lord:
eSoSa: How did you get started working at IHOP kc?
J. Rizzo: Around the time of my high school graduation, my dad showed me a brochure for a six-month program (the One Thing Internship) with other young people at IHOP-KC. At his suggestion, I applied and was accepted. I knew virtually nothing about the house of prayer and had no idea what I was walking into. I didn’t even really know that there was a 24/7 prayer room.
About two months into my internship, the Lord really began revealing Himself to me. It was then that I realized that there was a grave disconnect in my heart from who the Bible said that God is and what I was actually experiencing of Him. This started me on a journey of discovering Him that I now know will never end. As the word says, it truly is the glory of man now and forever to search out the depths of the riches of the glory of our God.
My calling includes worship leading, teaching, singing, and songwriting, but I never want to lose sight of the fact that my primary mandate is to minister before the Lord. My heart’s cry is like that of David when he said, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, to gaze upon Him and to inquire in His temple” (Psalm 27:4). My greatest desire is to see Jesus come back to the Earth and establish His throne in Jerusalem. I long for the day when He will be the worldwide obsession of every single person on Earth and have supremacy in all things (Colossians 1). My desire is to help send a clear call to this generation that we must wake up from our slumber and prepare the way of the Lord.
eSoSa: What would you say is an example that looks like in real life… waking up and preparing the way?
J. Rizzo: The practical way to walk this out would be first and foremost having a schedule that you seek to follow. When you don’t follow it or get off track you don’t get depressed and stop, you simply get back up and try again the next day. Most of us are busy, we have jobs, families, etc. But we must prioritize a secret life with the Lord (Mt 6) where we making drawing away with Him our first priority of the day. I know from personal experience that if I don’t prioritize this and schedule it in… many times weeks and even months will go by and I realize, “Wow, I haven’t had quality time with Jesus in a long time!” Even if you’re in ministry it’s so easy to simply DO things for Him and not really spend quality time TALKING to Him in the secret place. We cannot be a mouthpiece and a voice in preaching or song declaring things about someone we don’t really KNOW intimately.
eSoSa: What is your favorite theme to sing about?
J.Rizzo: It depends on the season I’m in But right now I would say the Epistles, Philippians has been my favorite to sing through. There is such rich theology and understanding that Paul had and singing through this book has been amazing. For example, Philippians talks a lot about joy. It’s mentioned over thirty times, which seems strange because Paul is writing while sitting in a Roman prison. Clearly his joy was not based on his circumstances. I don’t know about you, but I am very affected by my circumstances. Whether due to internal or external things, I find that I can be joyful or sorrowful, happy or sad from one moment to the next.
But thank God that He has given us a glorious invitation to find the superior joy and pleasure of knowing Him, which can carry us through any storm or trial we may face. This is what Paul tapped into.
So how can we find this joy and live in it continually? First, we can purpose to control every other source of joy in our lives. As Christians, we’re called to be in the world but not of it and therefore we have to be careful not to let our emotions be brought under the power of other things. This may sound super negative, but I don’t think it is. I’m not saying it’s wrong to be joyful about things other than God, but if I begin finding my primary source of joy coming from lesser things in my life, even permissible ones, then I need to rearrange things until He becomes the main source of my joy.
I’ve found fasting to be a great way to speed up the process of finding my true source of joy in Him. Another of Paul’s keys to remaining joyful in prison was to meditate on Christ. We can’t rejoice in the Lord without thinking about Him. Finally, Paul tells us to thank God for all that He’s given us.
I also enjoy singing about heaven, and the restoration of the earth when Jesus returns. Thinking about a real man ruling this earth from his throne in Jerusalem and no more crying, tears, or pain is one of my favorite themes to sing about.
eSoSa: Songs about heaven are AWESOME! They make me want to prepare the way for Jesus to return so we can experience Him in fullness! What are your feelings on the spirit of Elijah restoring all things before the return of Jesus… and do you ever sing on that particular theme?
J.Rizzo: I have sung on it a little bit before. The spirit of Elijah is a vast subject with a lot to it and many facets. But the part of it that’s struck me the most has been Malachi 4:5-6 mostly because I’ve experienced it first hand and seen it many times in recent years, which I believe is a clear sign of the times. “Turning the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of children to the fathers.”
I’ve had this experience within my own family and also seen it in many others. Just the other day I heard a testimony about a father who repented to his son after many years of bitterness and having a hard heart. This is stunning and is a huge testimony of the hour in which we live. I believe that the coming revival will be sustained much by families dwelling together with other families in unity and it’s in that place that God will command a great blessing.
Of course the spirit of Elijah has a first advent and second advent reality and the amount of restoration before Jesus returns will be vast!
eSoSa: So that first advent is obviously John the Baptist right? But what about the 2nd advent of the Spirit of Elijah? Will it just be the two witnesses in Revelations, or do you think it’s going to have a wider application for the Church overall?
J.Rizzo: Oh man, you’re pushing me for an answer here I on purpose dodged the question. I think it’s a topic that many have different opinions on, but yes… I think Elijah will literally come before Jesus’ second coming. I think he very well might be one of the two witnesses in Revelation (but of course I’m not sure!-)
Two reasons for me thinking this is it says the witnesses will have power to shut heaven so no rain falls – this is what Elijah did in Old Testament. Also, two prophets in the Old Testament who had confrontations with an evil king, Elijah being one of them.
How that applies to us today I think is – yes, walking in the spirit and power of Elijah. Doing signs and wonders, casting out demons, etc. Preparing the way for the Lords second coming, in the same way that John the Baptist, walking in the spirit of Elijah, prepared the way for his first coming.
I will say that I am not an expert on this topic, so hopefully what I said (from my limited understanding) makes some sense : )
eSoSa: How do you develop your songs?
J.Rizzo: Song writing for me takes on different forms. Because I’m singing at IHOPKC 12-15 hours a week, many times songs will spontaneously come on stage and then I’ll write the rest of the song off stage. Other times I will write an entire song off stage. No matter what way you mighttechnically write a song… my opinion is that songwriters must have a deep life rooted in the Word. I believe that people can write songs, even good songs, but if we actually have a history in the bible around a certain theme or verse I believe that makes the song so much more powerful.
eSoSa: Describe a day in the life of a missionary working at IHOP KC?
J.Rizzo: Some of my daily activities include worship leading, teaching, singing, and songwriting, but I never want to lose sight of the fact that my primary mandate is to minister before the Lord. My heart’s cry is like that of David when he said, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, to gaze upon Him and to inquire in His temple” (Psalm 27:4). So along with my activities of ministry and outreach much of my time is spent sitting before the Lord in study, meditation, and intercession. I also spend a lot of time pastoring my worship team (about 20 people). We minister together six times a week and spend about 15-17 hours together.
eSoSa: Who takes care of the natural side of your ministry work, like office work, fundraising, rehearsal spaces, or even putting out your albums?
J.Rizzo: Everyone on staff with IHOPKC, from our director all the way down, raises their own support. As full time staff we have the responsibility to support raise, administrate our e-mail updates, stay connected with and develop our own personal partners. I actually schedule our practice facility for our sixteen primary worship teams. The sound department keeps it up and running. As far as our music we have a record label called Forerunner Music with a studio that we record it. For independent projects we are on our own to fund it, record it, distribute it, etc.
eSoSa: On May 11 you will not only be leading a live worship set, but also doing a special “for singers and musicians only” workshop. What can people expect, and has God given you anything specific for Detroit yet?
J.Rizzo: This session will be an interactive time where I will be sharing about the power of singers and musicians in this day and hour. I believe that two worship movements are being raised up, one that focuses on the glory of Jesus but another that is self-centered worship of self which will eventually lead to worship of the antichrist. Revelation chapter 13 mentions worship of the antichrist five times. This is something we must pay attention to and as singers and musicians in this day and hour see the glory of what we’ve been called to.
Come worship the Lord with Justin Rizzo at The PROTEST. Singers and Musicians stay tuned for more details about the “For Singers and Musicians Only” Workshop.
Find the event on facebook here.
Click the flyer to get tickets. (The ticket is the book).
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