Monday, April 30, 2012

You Bled

I heard this band a while back and while I liked a few of their songs, they weren't anything to write home about.  However, over the past week, my wife has been playing their music some and I just fell in love with this song.  For me it was a blend of styles and rather catchy.

Today, however, I wanted to listen to some music while at work and with YouTube really being the only option I started searching and came upon this song again, only it was their music video.  Why the lyrics are so simple put with the story of the video, I was moved.  I had to share.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Excitement for the weekend

Have you ever stopped to think about the first church and how it got started?  If you read my blog much you probably have seen where I have referenced it several times recently as I work through my thoughts about what a church should look like.

I have been doing quite a bit of reading recently and Acts 2 has come up on multiple occasions.  One of the books I have been reading is "The Untold Story of the New Testament Church."  So far I really like his thoughts and how it helps me process through some of what is going on.

At the beginning of Acts 2, we have The Apostles with a group of people (totaling 120) who are celebrating the Pentecost feast together.  I can just imagine what it was like.  This was a big deal to them so I can imagine it was similar to that of a really good pot-luck dinner with lots of good food and good conversation.  They were all believers which is most likely why they were all together celebrating in the midst of what was a religious day for the Jews at that time.

In the midst of their gathering, the sound of a mighty rush of wind comes in and all of a sudden they began to speak in different languages.  (Again, I could only imagine what this would sound like.  It would have been an interesting situation for sure.)

The Holy Spirit had come, just like Jesus had promised and had filled them in a way that was unknown to man before.  People began to come to find out what all the commotion was about and why this group was getting so loud.  Many of the crowd, that was now gathering to find out what was going on, thought they were drunk and speaking non-sense.

Then all of a sudden they began to understand.  They began to hear a message.  Many of them had come from different regions and spoke different languages so finding a place where all could understand what was being said would have been quite an experience to say the least.

Peter begins to talk, and people begin to to really hear him. The Holy Spirit is moving within them and 3000 people that day chose to become part of the church.  They set aside their lives, their jobs, their families to learn what it meant to follow Jesus.

As I read this passage, in my Bible and in a couple other books, it amazed me.  I can't really explain it, but to myself all I could say was WOW!  I have read it before but never felt excitement about it. Never felt moved by it. I don't really know what changed in my way of viewing it, but it excites me to know this is where it began. This is when the ability to have God in us became possible.

As I sit and ponder all that took place I wonder what makes the presence of the Holy Spirit so different and have such drastically different effect than what happens in our society today.  After all, isn't it the same Holy Spirit?  He hasn't changed.

If the Holy Spirit hasn't changed, then could it be that it has something to do with us?  Becoming a follower at that time would cost a person everything.  Now, what really does it cost us?  In their lives it changed them forever.  Now, for many of us, we just say we are "saved."

Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would remind us of His teachings.  Could it be that the Holy Spirit is still doing that, but instead of being changed, we ignore the reminders and continue to do things our own way? Could that be why we remain unchanged and so many see nothing different in us?  Could we be limiting the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives because we refuse to hear?

Just my thoughts for the day.  Thanks for reading!

Communion...through the eyes of a stranger

One of my best illustrations for my post yesterday is the practice of communion.  Many of us read about the Lord's supper in the Gospels and most churches practice communion based on the one passage where Jesus is giving instruction. However, when people who understand the Jewish culture read it they see a bigger picture...They see more than just the words on the page.  In their culture it is expected that the reader knows and understands the full story.

What we call the Lord's Supper was actually introduced during a passover meal.  (Hence another reason why Jesus was called the Lamb of God.  He was our passover lamb.) That is right, it was actually a meal.  It wasn't that Jesus just pulled out some bread and wine and decided to give the disciples a souvenir of Himself, but rather He shared in the midst of a meal that was already taking place.  Side note:  This is that at this same time He talked about being a servant and washing each others feet, yet that is something that is often over shadowed when we carry out our communion.

Anyway, after Christ's resurrection, churches still participated in a time of communion but it was much different than how we see it today.  Paul talks about it in several of different letters where he addresses people abusing communion.  When reading these passages I cannot come to the conclusion that communion is limited to these two sacraments.  Rather, my reading leads me to believe it continues to be a celebration and a feast.  The Jews celebrated a time in which they were "passed over" in the same sense that we can "passed over" as well.  This is what the churches were celebrating.  They were remembering what they had come from and how they had been saved. Which should be the same for us.

I wonder then why we have separated ourselves from this so much.  I don't think we have entirely left behind the praising of what Christ has done for us and replaced it with a somber act of remembering, but our view of what communion should be is drastically different than that of the early church.  While they were out having a "party" we are drinking juice and eating a tasteless cracker.

I'm not saying we have it all entirely wrong. I think communion the way we do it has a significance and importance, but honestly I would love to see us do communion similar to that of the early church.  Bring in a large pot luck to share with everyone.  Make amends with those who have hurt us.  Ask for forgiveness from those we have wronged (both of these are often left out of many churches when they do communion).  Communion should be a time of bringing the body of Christ (the church) back into unity....back into like-mindedness....back to remembering that Christ's body was broken for us, that His blood was shed for us, that He conquered the grave, and defeated death so that we could be back in communion with God.

I'm not going to say that we are doing it wrong....I just want you to think about it.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The eyes of a stranger

As I mentioned in my previous blog, I believe that in learning to read the Bible we need to learn to read it through Jewish eyes. I wanted to elaborate on that a little more.

While I was taking the class with Professor Robison, not only did I learn about how deep the Old Testament was engrained in the Jewish culture, but I also learned that in order to fully understand what is going on in scripture I must try to understand how they saw life. 

I can get really wordy and sometimes have a hard time expressing exactly what I want to say so to help me I will quote James Jefferes,

"One can always read some kind of meaning into a verse of scripture.  But those who understand that the books of the New Testament were written to specific people, in specific places, nearly two thousand years ago, know that this is not a good idea. If the New Testament texts were written to make sense to people in the first century, then we must try to put ourselves into their places in order to determine what the writers of the New Testament intended their readers to understand by what they wrote. If we try to make sense of the Bible with no knowledge of the people who wrote it, those who read it and the society in which they lived, we will be inclined to read into Scriptures our own society's values and ideas  This would be a major mistake since our culture is very different from that of the ancient Romans."

My wife and I discuss this quite frequently.  I do believe God's word is for us today the same as it was for them.  I believe those who don't know anything about scripture can get meaning, strength, and knowledge from it by the power of the Holy Spirit.  However, I think as we mature as Christians in order to fully understand what those teachers before us meant, we must try to understand them in a way outside ourselves...outside our church....outside our culture....outside our "religion."  We need to understand it in the way and in the context in which it was intended.

I have a few examples I want to share, but if I try to tack one on this post would get rather lengthy.  I have one started for tomorrow already.  Hope you check back then.

Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani

Ok, so you may be wondering what the title means or says, because its obviously not English.  Well, I will tell you.  It means, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken me."  If you have ever read through Mathew or Mark you have read this.  I know from time to time, in my lack of understanding I would wonder about why Christ would ask God why He had forsaken Him, when He knew the plan all along.

It wasn't until I took a class from an interesting teacher that I understood. I had a professor named Blaine Robison who explained it in a way that really made sense.

When Jewish children were at age to begin school they would go to the temple to learn from a Rabbi.  They were taught the scriptures and told to memorize them.  Many learned only the first 5 books, but if you were selected by the Rabbi you would get to continue your education with him.  Those that didn't get selected might still learn scripture, but not under the tutelage of the Rabbi.  They would began to learn a trade.

When I say they memorized the scripture I mean it.  They knew what it said word for word and could quote it on demand.  Which is exactly what Jesus was doing here.  He KNEW scripture. He KNEW what is said. He KNEW it's meaning.  So when He said, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me, He was actually quoting scripture.  Read Matthew 27:45 and 46 then check out Psalm 22.  See the resemblance.  You will notice that as you read Psalm 22 the end result is that God is glorified.  Why He was quoting a couple lines, He was actually implying the whole passage.

This changes a lot about the meaning of what He says.  Left alone it could cause some to question why Jesus would say that.  I questioned it. However, knowing that even in the moment of great weakness, Jesus again pulls out the scripture card and says, "No Satan, victory is my Father's!"

This same sort of concept takes place all throughout the bible. The problem is, most of us don't have enough scripture memorized to understand what is actually being conveyed.  There is hope though.  Look in your Bible. I bet you will find little letters that randomly appear next to words that seem to make no sense when reading through it.  (It's not math, your not supposed to have exponents) These are all references.  Somewhere else on the page it will tell you where to reference.  If you take time to actually look up the references you will find how interconnected the Bible really is and how if we read things in context they seem to make a whole lot more sense.

Our next read the Bible through Jewish eyes.  That my friends, will be another blog post.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Jesus...blond hair, blue eyed Jesus

Take a minute and think about pictures you have seen of Jesus.  I know they are not as prevalent in today's homes as they once where, but none-the-less I am sure you can think of at least a couple that you have seen. What did they look like? Was Jesus glowing? Was he handsome?  Did He have blonde hair and blue eyes?

Now, I don't know that I really remember seeing pictures of Him with blonde hair and blue eyes, but from all the research and studying I have done, it appears to be a common theme amongst artist in the western world.  On the other hand, there are also artist that paint Him with dark skin, more Arabic looking, or something similar to what their culture readily accepts as an image of Jesus.

I find it interesting that we want to associate Jesus with how we look.  We want Him to be one of us.  We want Him to look like we look so that we can identify with Him.  What is even more interesting is that we do this even though we believe He was Jewish.  I'm not even going to attempt to try and describe Him or what a "Jewish look" would be, but rather I want to point out a  passage of scripture that evidently the painters must have not remembered:

Isaiah 52:13-53:2 NASB

The Exalted Servant
 13 Behold, My servant will prosper,
He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted.
14 Just as many were astonished at you, My people,
So His appearance was marred more than any man
And His form more than the sons of men.
15 Thus He will sprinkle many nations,
Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him;
For what had not been told them they will see,
And what they had not heard they will understand.

Isaiah 53

The Suffering Servant
 1 Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. 

I find it interesting that this clearly states that He was not attractive. God didn't want people to be attracted to His appearance. Think about it.  It is easy for us in our humanness to follow someone who is attractive.  Most leaders have a physical attractiveness to them.  American Idol finalists are given makeup so that they are more "attractive" so that more people will follow them.  Appearance does mean a lot to who we chose to follow.

God didn't want that.  He wanted people to follow Christ for who He is.  He wanted them to chose to follow Him out of their own free will.  He wanted them to have the desire to follow Him out of our need for a Savior and not let there be a human reason to follow like the other leaders we chose to follow.  He wanted Christ to be different.

God does so many things that go against our human instincts.  This is yet another one of those things.

Why is this important? I think it is a reminder to us that God's ways are not our ways and that He wants us to see things differently.  He wants us to see people the ways He see's them.

Ponder the thought for a moment that Jesus was not an attractive human.  Would you have chosen to follow Him based on who He said He was, even though He didn't look the part?  So many didn't.

Maybe this will help you see Jesus in the eyes of people you wouldn't have associated Him with before.

Matthew 25:40 (NASB)

40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

Too many ideas....

As I have tried to sit down and blog today I keep getting ideas to write about, but then I think about how I could easily go on and on different little points and it could easily turn into a rambling that no one wants to read.

So to get a lot of the ideas out of my head, I am going to give you a few links to read and develop your own thoughts.  Sure, later today I will probably come up with a topic worth writing about but at this moment, I am thinking about all the teens I know and how I wish I could help them mature...not that all teens are immature, I'm not saying that.  I'm just say that I keep getting reminded of the phrase, "I only wish I knew then what I know now."

Why we are attracted to the opposite sex
What women really need from men
What men really need from women
You become like the people you hang around

Now again, remember, these are his thoughts, and while I really like them, I am not saying you have to agree with them all.  These are all bits and pieces from the last book I read of his and they just made sense to me.

Anyway, all I can say for now is, enjoy, and let me know what you think.  I am always up for a good discussion.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


I am writing today for a second time because I have had something on my heart for a while and really just need to work it out and put it into words.

As you might already know from my prior posts, I was once a youth pastor.  I learned several lessons as a youth pastor, but stepping down from that position I walked away remembering one thing.  A pastor cannot be a pastor by himself.

I say that for several reasons.

1. A pastor must rely on God as his source of strength.  Times will get tough, it will be stressful, and it will seem as though you're not making a difference.  Those are the times when you have to draw on God.  Without looking to Him and trying to figure it out on your own, nothing will ever get better. (I'll admit I did this a lot: tried to do it on my own)

2. A pastor must have the support of his family.  I did and it was the only way I lasted as long as I did.  As soon as I saw my family start to suffer, I began to suffer.  When I lost focus that one of my most important ministries is my family, I lost focus on what God really wanted for my life.

3.  A pastor needs someone or a group of people that challenge him spiritually.  I think this was the one thing that I suffered from the most.  Maybe I am unlike other pastors, but I know I don't have all the answers.  I know that I can read the Bible and the Holy Spirit can speak to me. However, I know that I, in my own humanness, am very limited in my perception.

 I firmly believe God puts people into our lives who He wants us to be in relationship with so that they can teach us along the way...even if they don't have that seminary degree.  God speaks through people. He speaks to me through my wife all the time.  It is hard to grow when you don't have someone disciplining you.  Jesus was perfect, the the Rabbi we are to learn from, and He has called us to disciple the nations.  That means there should be someone who is teaching us as well as someone who is following us.  If you are not growing and helping someone else grow, I encourage you to look at your life and if you are really in line with where God is calling you to be.

4. A pastor needs people to support him. Yes, by the church a pastor is typically supported financially, but have you ever taken a step back and looked at how much your pastor is doing?  Even if a pastor loves every minute of it, a key role for a pastor is to teach through relationships.  How can you expect him to develop and maintain REAL relationships when he is expected to do so much?

I love "programs" just as much as the next guy, but I wonder if some of our issues as a church is that we have spent so much time developing those and developing the way we thinking a church "should" be that we missed the picture when it comes to relationship aspect.  I want to go on and on here, but read my post from earlier today to get a better perspective as to what I am saying. 

We have to give them time to develop those key relationships.  We have to give them the time to develop those disciples.  That is how the church grows.  That is how people grow.

Alright, enough said about the points.  Really I just want to say that we need to take the time and realize how much our pastors need us and to not take them for granted.  Take a moment today and think about your relationship with your pastor.  Are you looking for ways to help him or her develop those much needed disciples or are you just passively sitting by why he or she does all the work?

I just want to mention here that there are many reasons why people don't get involved in ministries at a church or with the church they attend.  Maybe you have a ministry outside the church, maybe God is preparing you for something, etc.  I don't know and I don't know your heart.

I know pastor appreciation month is later in the year, but I think we should be letting our pastors know how much they mean to us on at least a monthly basis.

Thank you pastors who have taken the time to get to know me and helped me become who I am today.  You know who you are. (I say that because there are several of you)  I appreciate who you are and all the time you have put in to your ministries.  You will never know the impact God has been able to do make through you.

Is this yours?

One of the joys of my job, I may have mentioned before, is that I get to spend time by myself periodically where I can listen to the radio or CD if I want to.  My dad recently gave me a book on CD to listen to from Max Lucado called "Out Live Your Life."  I am sure at some point I will touch on various thoughts I had as I began listening to it, but I found one point today quite interesting and thought it played into this whole community concept I had been writing about.

32 And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. 34 For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales 35 and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.      Acts 4:32-35 NASB

As I read this passage I get somewhat discouraged at how our churches don't seem to have any mind set like this.  I know it doesn't fit our "culture" very well, but what if that is because that is what satan wants?  What if we have become so detached from each other that we don't realize that we are living out part of satan's schemes.

As I write that, I think about texting, facebook, email, etc. and how in becoming so "productive" we have lost since of what our purpose in life really is?  We have become a people of isolation that works hard at finding ways not to interact with each other physically.

I wonder though if it doesn't go further than that.  When you read the passage right before this it speaks of how God united everyone. He made it so that everyone heard the message in their own language. He made it so that the people could come together and that is when the congregation became one heart and soul.

I don't know about you, but I don't see a lot of "churches" that are really like that.  There always seems to be division in some way or another. I wonder if that division could be resolved if we actually spent more time than just Sunday mornings together.  So many people only want a "Sunday Religion" and forget that we are called to more than that. 

Anyway, back to the passage. Reading through the passage several time I see that at the end is makes it sound like anyone who had need was taken care of by the abundance God had given the others.  Those with the abundance chose not to hang on to it and freely gave it so that it could be used.  That sounds like a group I want to be apart of.  Not because I could do less and be given out of someone else abundance, but rather I would be so in-tune with my neighbors and God that I knew when my neighbors needed help and they knew when I needed help. 

For me I get here and it makes me think about sin and how pride can be a sin.  Think about it in our culture today.  So many people who are in need either feel entitled to a hand out or refuse to let anyone know they are in need.  They get stuck in how they think others should view them. 

On the other hand though, we have those who suffer from the same pride issues only they have the means to help those who need it.  Instead they spend it on fancy cars, elaborate homes, fancy clothes, etc.  Then again, maybe they don't have lots of things, but rather more than they need and they forget that God gave it to them and in reality it is still His.  Instead, they too get caught up in thinking about how they want others to view them.

Both peoples forget that we are called to live in community and have isolated themselves.  I have seen both sets of people in many churches and I am sure at one point or another I probably have found myself venturing towards both of these camps.  I work hard not find myself in them, but I know it is one of satan's biggest traps for us.

I don't I just somewhat feel like I am rambling and that I have said a lot of this before.  It just seems to be a big issue for me that God keeps holding in my face right now saying, "Pay attention....are you getting this?  Do you understand what I am saying?"

Feedback is always appreciated

Monday, April 23, 2012

What is your purpose?

As I mentioned in my last post, my wife recently picked up a new book for to read from the library.  She knows one of my recent favorite authors has become Donald Miller, because he challenges me.  Personally, I think he is a very good writer and he keeps me entertained, thinking, and questioning.  He has never made me question my faith or really question what I believe, but rather he puts things that I believe into words far better than I ever could.  (Imagine that, an author being good with words :))  Other times his thoughts challenge me to think beyond my current situation and look at life a little differently.

Alright, enough said about that, but this book I am reading right now has a lot of this material in it.  I want to save a lot about it till closer to Father's Day as it is a book about Fathers....well, actually a book about how growing up without a father really effected him.  He shares the struggles he had, the journey along the way, and how it has given him and understanding of who God is and how God wants to be our father.

One point that I found really interesting and really wanted to share today was the importance for a child to know they have a purpose.

Ask any kid what their purpose in life is and I bet a majority of them won't be able to give you an answer.  Many could say that don't feel like they have a purpose and life without them would go on just the same....or maybe some would say life would go on better if they didn't exist.  They see themselves as the cause of problems rather than part of God's plan.

I would also venture to state that many adults feel the same way.  They don't see that they have a purpose in life.  They have a hard time accepting that they are part of God's plan.  They too believe that if they weren't here, that life would go on and largely remain unchanged.

As I read this and think about it, I began to wonder about what my purpose is.  I've often wondered if a large part of my purpose is to raise my kids.  I know ever parent says that they have amazing kids, but it surprises me at the abilities kids posses that they seem to lose later in life.  What if one of my major purposes in life is to show my kids that they have a purpose and foster an environment that allows them to explore their potential.

I've heard it time and time again...parents tell their kids they can do anything they set their mind to...they can be anything that they want when they grow up.  Then I look at my life sometimes and wonder if maybe I didn't limit myself at some point and didn't become all that I could be.  Don't get me wrong, I love my life and what it is becoming, but seeing my kids and their potential really gets me thinking.

I say that  because to me it ties in to purpose.  I wonder if life would be better for our kids if we really focused on teaching them that they have a purpose in life.  Sure the purpose in life might change as they get older, but teaching them that they have a purpose and that without them here life would be so different seems so close to God's heart.

Reading through the bible that seems like a constant theme God has shared.  We all have purpose.  God tells us that time and time again.  Imagine life without Moses, David, Jonah, Elijah, Samson, etc.  Even some of those that we label as bad characters in the bible, God had a purpose for.  Some fulfilled it, some didn't.

I want to be someone who knows my purpose...who lives my purpose....who teaches my kids that they have purpose....who helps others realize they too have a purpose.  Living life without a purpose is not what God has called us to.  He has a plan and a purpose for you.  Question is are you willing to accept it?  Will you take the challenge of making sure your kids realize they have a purpose?

I want to tag this on today because of a couple things that I was thinking as I was writing this.  While Don is one of my favorite authors, he is still human.  While I love sharing about his books, they are not the bible, they are his own personal stories and what he has learned along the way.  If you choose to read them, please keep that in mind and run questions or thoughts you might have through the "bible filter" to make sure they align with God's word before you let them become part of your beliefs and motives.

Secondly, if you want help figuring out your purpose or need someone to talk to, contact me. I don't have all the answers (or even many of them) but I will pray with you and help you explore ways God can share your purpose with you.  You can always email me at  or comment on here and I can contact you.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Hard to be thankful

Sometimes, I think one of the hardest things to do is be thankful.  I know there are a lot of things I am thankful for if I sit down and think about it, but most days I would have to say that it is much easier to just deal with the problems that come up and worry rather than remember what it is that we have to be thankful for.

My wife had to remind me of this, oh so much, when we were having car problems. She kept reminding me that things could be much worse.  She would remind me that I could be thankful we had a car to borrow when we needed to, we had healthy kids, and I had a wife who loved me.

Why is it that we find it so hard to really be thankful and can so easily get stuck in the rut of wishing things were different, that we had this or that, or if only _________ (fill in the blank).

Sometimes I find it helpful to remind myself I need to be thankful. I'm not generally an very expressive person, but could the two be linked.  Could the fact that I don't realize all that God has given me and blessed me with that I neglect expressing it?

Anyway, I didn't really have much to write today and the only thing I could think about was that even though there are some things in my life that still aren't going the way I want them to, I can be thankful.

PS.  Marcey, I am very thankful that you thought of me yesterday and picked up Father Fiction at the library for me.  Just another reason I love you!  You're so thoughtful!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

In the midst of pain

For me, Charlie Hall had not been a worship artist that I recognized.  I don't even know that I had ever even heard any of his songs.  However, I remember the night, oh so well, when a really good friend of mine said he had a "man crush" on him.  Over the next two years the more I found myself finding that I loved more and more of his songs.  They were inspiring, they were truth, they resonated in my heart.

Like I mentioned yesterday, I have really had a hard time playing for God recently and it really makes me feel like I am missing something.  It was so much a part of my life and oh so powerful to be in that place of being able to worship God by myself and not have a care in the world about what someone else might think.  My limited abilities to do that, recently, have been limited to singing along with a cd or the radio in the car.

Just a few days ago, I heard that Chris Tomlin had a new CD out and upon looking further, my wife found that in fact he did not, but rather the new Passion CD was out and he had a couple songs on there.  I love several songs on the CD, I found that when Charlie's song would come on, I would change the track as I did with a few other songs that I didn't like.

I had heard the song before, but just didn't really care for it.  It never really sank in what the words actually where and contemplated the song.  However, the other night as I was driving home, I decided I was going to try and figure out what it was the song was about and why before I seemed to have some hangup with the song.

Upon listening to it, I realize that it was song for someone who is in the midst of pain.  It was a song for someone who has lost sight of the truth.  When I let it sink in what he was actually saying, I found the song so full of beauty.  It resonated with me.  I know when I focus on the truth Christ is my Sanity... my Clarity.

For those of you who may have been trying to picture what I was talking about yesterday, just imagine this song with the rest of the band.  Instead of the band being physically there, you just hear them in your head.  God plays music with you and we all know He is the master musician.  Nothing more beautiful than being able to walk around singing without a care and WITH the God we serve. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Why I don't play my guitar.

First off, the title is kinda deceiving.  I do play my guitar, just not as I once did.  As I have mentioned, a little over two years ago, my wife and I accepted a youth pastor position.  We were excited and enthusiastic about going.  I love working with teens and my wife has a huge heart for them.  One of what I thought was a key selling point for myself was that I had a background in music.  I was always told that many churches wanted someone who could do both and I knew I could easily connect with teens through it.  I already had at the previous church...I even helped start a teen worship band which I am still impressed at how good they have become.

After being there right at 15 months or so, we made the decision to leave.  It was not an easy one, but with so many things getting in the way of our relationship with each other, having another baby on the way, and faith being shaken, it was time to step down and move.  I was tired, worn out, discouraged, broken, and flat out done with doing all the churchy things.  I had lost sight of who I was and what I was to be doing.  I had accepted the responsibility of far too many things and was trying to fix so many things I saw that were broken.  I had forgotten how important my relationship with God is, how important my relationship with others is, how important the time with my wife and kids is.

After we moved, I somewhat felt relieved.  I was allowed to miss church.  I was allowed to believe what I wanted to believe.  I was allowed to have some freedom that being a pastor didn't allow.

That was almost a year ago.

Before we moved, I played a lot.  I led worship with the teens every Sunday night.  I wanted to play.  It was part of who I was.

A couple weeks back, I was talking to my wife about how I didn't really play my guitar much any more.  I wanted to, but couldn't.

Before we moved, my music was the only thing that was keeping my in anyway connected with God.

Now...I couldn't do it.....I couldn't hurt to much to play....I was scared to play....I am scared to play.

My relationship with God is growing stronger.  I don't know that it is as strong as it was before I became a youth pastor, but I know God is making me stronger because I was a youth pastor.  Not because of the title, but because I did what He asked me to do.

Earlier when I said I play my guitar, just not as I once did, I mean I don't really worship God with my guitar.  While talking with my wife, thinking about it, praying about it, and really trying to figure it out, I have come to the realization that I am scarred to play my guitar, because I am scared to worship God. That might sound odd to you, but anyone who plays or has played an instrument before by themselves to worship God, knows that it is an experience.

Music is powerful. Combine that with worshiping our Creator, Sustainer, and Savior and you have a very powerful combination.  However, when you feel like you don't deserve it, that is a scarey place to be. Knowing that you are in the presence of God and that it is just you and Him is totally different than corporate worship.  It is personal.  It is a very vulnerable place to be.  It is a place where you HAVE to be REAL.  That, my friend, is a very scarey place to be.

Maybe you get it, maybe you don't.  This has been one of the hardest things to write as it is so hard to put to words. My guitar meant so much to me.  I have spent a lot of hours playing, loving, and worshiping with it.  I just want to be in that place again.

Hymns shouldn't be allowed in church!

So...I'm going to give you a heads up right up front. I WILL be posting twice today.

I imagine you are wondering why I am stating Hymns shouldn't be allowed in church. Here is the deal. Like I mentioned a couple posts today, I have been to a lot of churches. In that time, I have met people with a lot of various opinions about music and what should and shouldn't be allowed in church. I am sure you have probably heard the arguments about whether contemporary music is acceptable, whether "rock" music acceptable, and whether guitars or heaven forbid drums be allowed in church? I find them all humorous as not even an organ or piano was ever listed in the bible yet for many churches they are the only accepted instruments. I have even heard the argument that our music sounds too much like worldly music and we need to be separate from that. I have to say, anyone that agrees with most of these arguments would have been heavily against most hymns we sing today.

You see, "back in the day," when someone wrote a song often times they just wrote words. When they wanted to write songs for church, they would typically write in one of several formats based on commonly used rhythms. I know most of you don't, but if you have access to a hymnal, pull it out and look at the bottom left of each song. There will be 4 numbers (typically) with a "." in between each one. This is basically the meter for the song.

In efforts to connect with people outside the church, churches began assembling song books of nothing but music (no words) with various tunes that where set to these various meters. Many of which where BAR tunes....that is that were being played in BARS! Can you imagine what people would think if they found out that "How Great is Our God" was actually a song that was being played in bars across America only the words had been changed. (No that is no true, but you understand my point)

When both books were assembled, members of the congregation would get these hymnals...yes...they carried TWO hymnals. One had music the other had words. You would match up the meters at the bottom of the two different books and as long as they were the same, they could be sung perfectly together. Now, that made things kinda difficult so eventually they put the two in the same book only the top half of the book and the bottom half of the book opened separately so that you at least have them in the same hand. That was still too challenging for some and people began to routinely sing the sang words with the same tunes, so they developed what we have today. If you have been around hymns at all you might recall two songs sounding very similar...well...that's because there are several of them that have the same tunes just set to different words.

I say all of this in somewhat of a response to thoughts and opinions I have heard, but also to give people a better understanding of those hymns they so love. I love many of the redone Hymns and love the fact that people are actually realizing what the hymns were and feeling free to change the music as they used to.

So back to the title...I don't actually believe Hymns shouldn't be allowed in church, but rather based on one's own opinions, many people think they are arguing for Hymns when in fact they are arguing against them.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Same Love

So, today I don't really have a whole lot to say.  Not that there isn't a lot going on in my mind, but I have yet to formulate thoughts that I want to share about it yet. 

Donald Miller writes in one of his books that Moses often repeated himself when he was writing because words just weren't enough.  Instead of just writing the story, sometimes he would write in poetry form to go along with it because it can paint a better word can paint thoughts that just don't come out in story form.

I'm not a huge fan of poetry in and of itself, but I do love music.  Some would say songs are just poems set to music.  I would tend to agree in most cases, especially when the songs say so much more than words alone could say.

That is why I love music.  Music moves people.  Music is powerful.

So.... here is my song for the day.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A different kind of church (open, honest, and real)

I'd have to say, that I have been to many different types of churches.  They range from legalistic, ritualistic, and programmatic to loving, relational, and structured and many combinations in between.  I have heard pastors who regurgitate sermons from other people or themselves from many years ago to pastors who preach without much prepared in advanced.  I have sang songs in churches that were stuck in the music from the past to churches who performed as if it were a concert.   I have been to churches where I didn't understand a thing (either to do poor preaching or in another language all together) to a church where every word resonated with my soul. Again I say, I have been to many different types of churches.

I say all this because, I would be remiss if I didn't tell you about something new I encountered yesterday.  I have many pastor friends who I have talked to and been close friends with.  Some have even shared about who they were and the struggles they have. However, I have never had a pastor share his pain and suffering from the "pulpit."  Never have I had a pastor admit that he had struggled during the week.  I have had them be honest before, but never like this.

It was comforting.  It was challenging.  It was refreshing.  It was inspiring. 

A lot of my blog comes to life for me when I decide to be open, honest, and real with who I am and how I struggle.  I believe God called us to that and that one of satan's biggest lies is that he tells us we are alone and that we are not as good as everyone else.  I feel that if more people would just be willing to be open and real with each other, far fewer relationships would be destroyed. 

Relationships are severed many times do to a miss-understanding or failure to communicate.  Marriages fail because one or both spouses hide things from the other.  Friendships are shattered...lives are lives become broken.  

I think that this is part of the reason Jesus calls himself the truth.  Truth restores, truth breaths life, truth revives. 

Sometimes truth hurts.

Anyway, I just couldn't stand not sharing my admiration and respect for someone who is willing to take a stand and to be open and honest about who he is.

Many talk of wanting to see a revival...this is how it will person at a time....being open, honest, and real.

There are a lot of great pastors out there and a lot that are still missing the point.  Maybe you don't agree with everything he says, but one of the biggest things I ever learned as a pastor is how hard it can be.  It is up to us to strengthen and encourage them.  All too often they are taken for granted and  left with very few people who really understand how much of their life is consumed by being a pastor and what toll that takes on a pastor and their family.

Don't tip 'em

Today, I write as I was somewhat inspired by my wife, but also reminded of something we have talked about for a long time together.  Growing up, I always saw my parents tip the waiter/waitress well.  I don't know that I ever really knew how much they tipped, but back then it seemed like they waiter or waitress was getting paid more just for doing their job.  Don't we all wish we had a job like that?

The problem is, that they aren't really getting paid to do their job in the first place.  They are getting paid very little and our tips are what actually does pay them.  I would venture to guess that most people tip based on what they perceive as good service or bad service, while others have a  set amount they start out with and then they can "earn" more if they are "good."

I set this all up, as I am again reminded of the question my wife always asks after we leave a restaurant. "Did you tip 'em well?" (I don't think she actually says 'em, but I find it fun to type, don't know

You see, my wife has a heart for others...always has.  She wants to see other people loved, cared for, and respected.  We live in a society where, whether we care to admit it or not, we place value on people based on what they do or can do for us, rather than who they are....God's children.  The reason she asks me that, is because I, at times, forget what a tip really is.  It is not really paying them for doing their is not really rewarding them for good is not even thanking them for what they did for us.  It is showing them God's love.

I say this, remembering a pastor several years ago who liked conduct his office visits in restaurants so that he would have an opportunity to share God's love, while conducting business.  He typically would go to the same place time and time again until he got to know some of the people that worked there.  You could easily recognize the fact they he was there frequently because he would have a way of asking how they were doing, how different aspects of their life were going in ways only someone with a relationship with them could do.  It amazed me that he would do this.  I respected him more for it.

God called us to love share His love with others.  When we go out to eat or go to the grocery store for that matter, think about that. Think about how you treat the people that you are interacting with.  Think of them as people, people who need to know God still cares about them.  Even if you're a believer, you still need to be reminded sometimes.   Take a look at the world, its hurting, are you helping or destroying your opportunity to change that.

Watch the video and think about the song.  It will all tie in at the end. 

Tipping, Praying for, talking to, interacting with all all ways we can share God's love with those we meet.  They are simple ways to be different than the world.  They are ways that someone might realize people....God....really does care. 

 Oh, and in regards to the title, you me be wondering where that came from....well... I just want to say, don't be caught thinking "don't tip 'em"  If you decide you do want to be rude or unloving to the waiter/waitress/cashier...make sure to go out of your way to not let them find out your a Christian, we have a bad enough name as is it.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sabbath....what's that?

I was reading through Exodus 16 today and almost started to somewhat recap what I have been saying throughout the week.  It's pretty amazing how God puts things together before we know it.  Read though my blogs and you will see where I know that God is there....I have seen His works....I have heard Him...I know He is there yet...continue reading...and you will find there are times I deal with a great discouragement....great unrest....times of grumbling.  The Israelites were the same way.  While that doesn't make it right, it is nice to know that I'm not the only one who is like that.

That however, is not what I wanted to talk about today.  As I finished reading the chapter it talks not only about God's provisions, but also about observing the sabbath.  Now, at this point, the 10 commandments haven't yet been introduced, but they obviously have been accustomed to observing because it doesn't say that anyone argued about it, had thoughts about just doesn't seem new to them. (My interpretation)

What is interesting though, is that even though it is a commandment, who really observes it anyway.  Sure we go to church on Sunday, but do we really set aside the whole day for God.  That is what Holy means right?  Set apart for God.  So when it says, remember the sabbath day and keep it holy it does mean to set it apart for God?

Why is that?  What makes us think that our lives are so much different than anyone else before us.  That we can choose to take all 7 days for ourselves and not set any part of it aside for God and his uses.

Now, I am not saying it has to be Sunday....many pastors have other days they observe it on.  They take the day "Off" from their job and spend it with their family or some other way.  Still, are we too busy to really "remember" the sabbath day?  Isn't it God's way of telling us to slow down and rest.  He is God, and yet He even took a day of rest.  Why are we any better than Him?  What do we have that is so important that we can't give up one day for Him?

I know God is a loving God and I don't necessarily think  that you can't go out to eat on Sunday, play games with friends on Sunday, or any of those other "rules" that have been passed on, but I do think it is important to set it apart for God.  Maybe its just me and I may completely confused, but it seems so many go to church because that is what is required of them and then turn off all the "churchy" things as soon as they get home. 

Don't get me wrong, I am not perfect in this area by any means, but it makes me wonder....Am I missing something?


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Exodus 15

In my quite time today, as I was reading through Exodus 15, I didn't really come up with a lot of new thoughts, but rather the whole passage seemed somewhat new to me.  Yes, I knew that the waters came down and killed all of Pharaoh's army, but I don't remember anyone ever telling me the Isrealites sang a song about it right after it happened.  To me that is interesting.

As many of you know, I am a lover of music and it has been a major part of my life for the last 10 years.  What I find interesting about the fact that they sang was that they did.  I don't know about you, but I just don't see many of us thinking about singing at a time like that.  I havn't quite figured out what to make of it.  I am hoping in the coming days God can reveal to me how important that part really is.  It was obviously important enough to put in, even though we had just read about it prior to the song. 

Again, going back to Donald Miller and his thoughts, he mentioned how much he liked to read Moses' writings.  He described how Moses would write how something would happen then turn around and put basically the same thing into poetry/song because sometimes words just arn't enough to describe/tell a story.  How can I apply that to my life?  Is that why I am so attached to music...because it puts feeling and words to things that I just can't explain any other way?

The later part of the passage is quite interesting as well.  It one sense it is somewhat comforting.  From verse 22 on it talkes about how they continued on their journey but it wasn't long before they started to grumble.  Moses prayed and God showed him a tree to push into water and make them good to drink.

 In Verse 25 it says...There He made for them a statute and a regulation, and there He tested them.  It makes me wonder, how many times God does that to us.  He puts something in front of us and then when we ask for His help, He shows us a way to solve the problem and we have a choice to make.  I mean, yes they did just see God part the sea, but how on earth is a tree going into water going to make it better to drink. 

I think that is somewhat the point.  That sometimes in life we are going to see God work and it will be amazing.  Sometimes we are going to go and not really see Him work a whole lot.  Sure, He is there, but maybe He is not making Himself really visable.  Then sometimes, He is going to ask us to take a leap of faith and do something, that might seem stupid to us, just to see if we still trust Him....if we still believe all things are possible in Him....if we really love Him enough to do whatever He asks.

That's a hard place to be.  I would love to say that I would do whatever He asks whenever He asks, but honestly, I wonder how many times I fail.  I know that there have been times when I have been asked to do something and I chose not to because it didn't seem like a "logical" thing to do.  I guess it kinda goes hand in hand with yesterdays post huh?  Not everything God asks us to do with be logical.  God is not logical to us.  We can't possibly put God into that box. God has to be bigger than what our "logic" is.'s blog might be somewhat of a mess, but it helps me.  It helps me realize that music is important.  It helps me realize that I am not the only one that begins to grumble even when I have just seen God.  It helps me realize that even though I mess up...God can still use me.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Yes....I can be negative

Reading back over my last few blogs, I can really see how negative my attitude had become.  I'm not saying that I am not still dealing with some of the issues, but I don't want to come across that way by any means.  I want to be open, honest, and real, but I don't want to turn people away by my complaining, ranting, or just down-right negativity. take a break from all that (and hopefully steer myself in a new direction) I want to share a quote from an author that really challenges me.

"Love cannot be explained logically, nor beauty nor wonder nor eternity or our endless cosmos. Much of our existence defy’s logical principles. As does God.....To fit God inside our logic is to reduce him."  -Donald Miller

I feel like I have been trying to put that into words for so long, yet have been unable to put it quite so straight forward and to the point.  One thing that I have learned over the past couple years, in dealing with my ministry and the time afterwards, is who God is not. (That could be a whole other topic in and of itself) When I read this quote, it brought me comfort.  It brought me comfort in knowing that I could say, "I don't know."  It brought me comfort in saying, "God's ways are not my ways, His ways are much greater."  It brought me comfort in saying, "I can't understand all that God is or all that He does."

I more or less think of it like this. If I am in a relationship with God, He will reveal himself to me in His timing and ways.  If someone says something that does not strictly go against the truth that I know about God, then I can let it be for that person.  What I mean is, if someone tells me God has spoken to them I have no reason to question it.  (If they say God has told them something they must tell me and it goes against what God has told me, I had better be praying to find out what it really is that God wants of me, because at that point I will need his discernment.) I am allowed to be at a different place in my walk that someone else.  I am allowed for them to have a deeper or shallower relationship with God than me.  It all comes from time and God's revelation of Himself.

Anyway, back to the point.  I am comfortable knowing that God is bigger than me, smarter than me, wiser than me, and that I cannot possibly expect to understand all of who He is.  I can continue my relationship with Him, learn more about Him each day, and trust that He is shaping me. That brings me peace.

Plus...I don't want to serve a God that I can completely understand.  I want a God that is smarter than me. :)

For all the Dads of Daughters....Weekly Video

I saw this video a while back and just had to share.  Hope you enjoy.   It says it all.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Looking up...

So...this weekend was really good.  I got to spend quite a bit of time with my family and really got to play with the kids. With me working most Saturday mornings, it somewhat limits what kind of time I have to spend with them.

I have to admit all yesterday morning I was dreading all the work that goes in to Easter.  I mean, we wanted to be at church early, then we would have a longer service, come home, finish doing some last minute things before people came over, cook, eat, and then start cleaning.  It really wasn't like that. 

It started just like expected.  Lots of stress...not really getting to enjoy the day. Thoughts of why I hate religion started running through my head.  I couldn't wait to be able to write a blog about it today.  Really there are a lot of things that churches do that just drive me insane.  So many of them miss the point.  They turn things that God intended for being a part of a meaningful relationship into "sacraments" or "rituals" that end up meaning almost nothing to most and the only reason so many participate is because they believe it is what they are supposed to do.  Now, don't get me wrong, I believe churches can do some of these things, but it must be done in the right heart and for the right reasons....not just because its what we have always done or because its part of what we have been taught we have to do. that soap box. 

Once we got to the sermon portion of the service, I was able to relax a little.  I was able to listen.  I was able to open myself up to what God would be saying to me.  Now...I had some idea as to what the pastor was going to speak about.  He had shared it with a couple of us earlier in the week.  It intrigued me.  It was...a change in view. 

I could give you my version of what the sermon was, but in reality it came down to this.  Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins...not only that, but to shake us up....destroy religion....and give us a wake up call that it is about having a relationship with God. 

Close to the end of the sermon the sound system went the last song was done acapella, and I was able to leave without being distracted, and being able to rest in knowing that God had told me it was ok to have the thoughts of not wanting anything to do with religion.  Now, I'm not saying that God necessarily validated my feelings and that made things ok, but rather He knew what I needed and reminded me that He was still there and ready to listen.  He knows what I am going through...and I am not alone.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Chapter 3....Wanting to be with God

So this morning as I was trying to leave, Taylor begged and begged me to stay home with him.  It made it a real challenge to leave.  I wanted to spend time with him and I didn't get to last night because I had to work. 

As I was driving to work I began to wonder why it is that I don't feel like that when it comes to my relationship with God.  Yes...I know...God does not leave us, but when was the last time you actually had a really hard time pulling yourself away from you quite time. I have to admit, its been a long time since I have.  Most of the time I feel like there is something else I need to get done before too long or my focus becomes distracted with other "things" of life. 

I wonder what life would be like if we had a desire to spend time with God like that.  Where it makes us cry out....where we beg for more time to be with Him. 

Why is it that we are so selfish and so busy that we forget what loving God really means.

Writing that just reminded me of this song....have to share.

Still there?

Today's post might just be a bit different.  Like I mentioned in my previous post, I've been in kind-of a funk lately, but this week seems to have been somewhat easier....I just don't have much to say.  I've really been missing old friends and the time I spent with them. 

I spent quite a while the other day talking to my wife about how much I miss being in a small group.  I loved the fact that I was connected to people I went to church with outside of church and really got to see more what their lives were like.  I got to have a relationship with them. 

It's amazing how much different life is when you have a group of people like that.  People who are about the same age as you, going through similar life stages as you.  They don't have to be just like you, but people you can relate to. 

Sure we have developed a lot of relationships with our families that are stronger than they have ever been, but having a group of friends outside of your family can be fun, challenging, and worth-the-effort, in a totally different way.

I say all this because that's not where I am at now. Really its been over 2 years since I have really had this.  Yet, I struggle with saying that I have enough time for it, even when I know it is so important. 

If you are reading this and you were a part of a small group with me...then thank you.  Thank you for the time we had. 

If you are reading this and haven't or aren't currently  part of a small group before, let me know.  Relationships are important to following Christ.  Maybe we can figure this thing out together.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Where have you been?

Well....So I took 3 days off from writing.  I haven't really felt like writing, plus I got some new video software at work so I have been busy playing and editing with that.

Over the last week, things have really felt different to me.  I've been dealing again with my dilemma and trying again to figure out what it is I believe. Whenever I get in this "funk" it just makes time go by so slow and makes things seem out-of-wack.

Really, I have been dealing with the importance of community and music in my life.  Up until the last year, I have been fairly involved in the music at the churches I have attended. It was something I loved doing and brought a sense of peace in me when I was free to worship with my church family in a way that was very personal to me.

However, since we have moved, I have almost quit playing even for myself. I have been somewhat scared to worship on my own for no other reason that I am scared.  I'm not really sure what I am scared of, but it scares me.  On top of that, I have kept myself from getting involved in that area because of expectations I have placed in my heart.  When trying to find answers, I can't really find anywhere where it says that quality of music in a service is important, but then on the other hand I know we are to strive for excellence in what we are doing.

Honestly, other than a couple concerts, I've really only had two worship pastors that I felt really ushered me into worship and I miss this both dearly.  Now that I live 2+ hours from them, I don't really get to experience that.  They were terrific at what they did, not because they were amazing musicians (which they are), but when they led, you felt their knew they wanted nothing else other than to worship Jesus and bring others along side them to do the same.

The hard part now, is that I expect that of all people that lead music, yet it is hard to find.  I struggle so much with trying to figure out if it is just my heart is in the wrong place or if it is ok to expect something more.

As far as my struggle with the importance of's been a real challenge as well.  I look at how the first followers of Christ lived and how they chose to give up everything just to spend time with Him and other believers, yet many of us find it hard to give up one day a week.  I yearn to be in a community that wants nothing other than to be together in Christ.  I want to meet other than on Sunday's so that I have people to grow with...people to challenge me...people to work with to make a difference.

Most people who I have been in small group with, would probably say I don't talk very much while in the group.  What I never shared was how important the group was and that a major reason I liked to be in the groups was to find out how others are and being able to help them in any way I can.  I love helping people.  I love living life with people.  I love seeing others lives be changes my life.  It gives me a sense of community.  It gives me a sense of Love...God's love.

Some of you may have been at the choir performance this last Sunday night, when my wife gave her testimony.  Personally, I would have to say it was moving.  It was moving because it was real.  Too many people just aren't real.  This was.  It reminded me of why I love her and why I fell in love with her.  It was the highlight of my week.

I say that, because that is what community is about.  Community is about being real...being honest...being who God created you to be.  I hesitate to post this because I don't want to offend people that I care about....but in not posting it....I am not being real...I am not being honest....I am not sharing who I am and how I am doing.