Friday, August 31, 2012

It's been a while

Over the past several weeks I have been listening to a book on CD by Chuck Swindoll called "Saying It Well."  It is a very interesting book about some of his history and how he writes and delivers his his sermons each week.  I have always enjoyed listening to him speak and his sermons are always so thought provoking. 

The more I listen to him, the more I realize how much I miss being able to spend time each week preparing a sermon to deliver.  It wasn't always easy and it certainly wasn't always fun, but there was just something about it that is unlike anything else I have ever done. 

I can't say that I am a gifted speaker nor am I extremely educated in any one subject.  In-fact, I used to hate public speaking and have never been to seminary as many pastors have.  If you had asked me over 3 years ago to present a sermon I would have told you there was no way in heck I would ever do it.

I think one of the things I love most about having the opportunity to deliver a sermon is that you get to do a lot of research and a lot of study on a particular passage or topic.  Yes, I know I can do that on my own, but for some reason when i read on my own I like to read and let the words that I read sink in rather than digging into the text and really finding out what it ALL means.

I say ALL, because when I was a youth pastor, I had to take a class on the Pauline Epistles.  While the class took up a ton of my time and added a great deal of stress to my life, I still loved what I learned there. My teacher also taught at a Jewish synagogue and really knew his Jewish history.  One thing he encouraged us to do was to get away from our American way of looking at things when we read the Bible and really try to see the context of the passage in which it was written.  Both he and Chuck Swindoll talked about how we need to see things in their original context but we can also keep in mind that people have always been pretty much the same.  We all have to deal with selfish desires and all the other flaws sin has created in our lives.

I thoroughly enjoyed learning about passages and really trying to find what each passage could really present to others that we may not have understood or really accepted before.  The problem I struggle with now is that while I like to do that I don't feel like I have a purpose to other than for personal development and I already have several things on my plate that God is dealing with me on. I like to see people encouraged or help them to see things in a way they may not have seen them before.  I really miss that.  It's been a while.

I guess what I am saying is that God hasn't really let me get comfortable in a lot since we moved.  He has been working on me in different ways. He has taught me a lot over the past couple years and I can now see clearer what He was teaching me even in the times I considered not-so-good times.  It's amazing how He does that.  My prayer now is that I can get a glimpse of what it is He actually has planned with/for me.

Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:19-20 NIV

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Upside of down.

Today has just been one of those days for me.  I couldn't really come up with anything interesting to say nor do I feel like I feel like I have much to offer today.  In listening to some of Chris August's new material I came across this song.  It's just so true. Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


As you know if you have read very long, every once-in-a-while I come across a song that I have to share.  The song I am sharing today comes from something that is very near and dear to me. I don't know that I would ever believe there is such thing as a perfect marriage.  What I do believe is that God takes two imperfect people and can do some powerful things.  This is a song that reflects that.

The reason this song is near and dear to me is because my marriage wasn't perfect.  We have had our fair share of problems but by the grace of God we have been able to work through them and make it to the place we are today where it seems we are ever growing closer together.  I believe God wants to do that for everyone is married.

Just have to say thank you to Chris August for writing yet another song that I love.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Outside looking in

Over the past few weeks I have watched two Youtube videos as well as listen to an audio book from well educated individuals who are either atheist or agnostic.  As I listen to them, I find myself really listening to their arguments and to a certain extent understanding where they are coming from.  In all cases, they reference how different the Bible is from what is being taught or lived out through the lives of those who call themselves Christians.  In two of the cases, one gentleman's parents were missionaries and one was raised Jewish.  In both of these cases the gentleman really knew their Bible and could argue almost any point you through at them.  Listening to their arguments reminded me of a line from an old DC Talk song. 

“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”- Brennon Manning

I have been thinking about the quote recently.

 I also think back to the time I spent in Ecuador and how, even though many of us couldn't speak Spanish, I saw hundreds of people converted and giving up their old lifestyle to follow Christ.  For some is was because of the things we were doing, for others it was through a skit we did, but very did it have to do with any real conversations we had.  At an invitation many would come wanting to talk to those who did know Spanish so they could find out more.

When I think about that experience compared to my day to day experiences now I can understand what the quote truly means.  I see people on a daily basis who don't want anything to do with "Christians" because of what has been done to them in the name of Christ.   I see people who really know very little about Christ and all that He stood for.  I see people who say they go to church every weekend and claim to be Christians yet their lifestyle doesn't reflect them even knowing Christ, it seems as if its just something they do to check off a list.

After I have all these thoughts running around in my head, I begin to think about my life.  I began to wonder what I look like to others.  Am I a reflection of who Christ is?  Can people see something different in my life or have I just become like so many other "Christians?"  Do I know how to even share the God that I know with people compared to the god that has been presented to so many before.

Taking a look at the life of Jesus I find it interesting that very few times did Jesus actually approach anyone and tell them straight up who He is. More often than not, people came to Him.  They wanted to be around Him.  They wanted to hear His teaching.  They wanted to know what made Him different.  He would meet their need, share Himself with them, not once condemning them.  Yet in our world of sharing who God is, so many start out with condemning people, sharing a "christ" with them, and then badgering them to make a "commitment."

Those are the thoughts that help me see how the guys I have been listening to can claim to "know" what the gospel is yet want absolutely nothing to do with it.  To me, it sounds like they have never been presented with an opportunity to have a real relationship that never fails rather they have been presented with a religion that will always fail them. 

Have I been a part of teaching this false religion?  Has my life reflected that of of Christ's? Am I guilty of causing someone else to stumble or want nothing to do with the one true God?

I believe this is why having a true relationship with God and others is key.  Following God doesn't make us perfect here on earth.  We still have our earthly bodies.  We will still fail.  What will make us different is our willingness to admit it and willingness to reflect Christ even in our mistakes.  Showing people that even though we messed up, God still loves us, and has asked us to make it right. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

I am a thoughtful guy

Every once-in-a while its great just to take time away from the business of life and just reflect on something humorous. Over the past month I have been introduced to a couple different youtube channels that are rather quite interesting.  I thought today I would share a couple of them since, "I am a thoughtful guy."

Hope you enjoy and have a great weekend.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Music for Life

I was thinking this morning about playing music with a group of people.  I have played with several different groups over the year (none that were professional and mostly church groups) and there is a common issue that many of the groups don't realize or understand that they have. 

Several years ago I was privileged to play on a team that really understood what it meant to play together.  Sure "playing together" can mean that everyone is playing at the same time, but that doesn't make music.  Really, to me it sounds like a bunch of mud and trying to play with a group like that is very challenging.  What I meant by really playing together is that they all knew how to listen to each other.  They realized they each had a part to play.  They stepped out of each others way.  They would do whatever it would take to serve the group as a whole. They made music.

As I was thinking about that concept this morning, I began to wonder if maybe it works because it is a perfect reflection of what God wants from us.  He wants us to listen to people, care about people, serve people and not just try to do our own thing.  It's not easy, just like learning to play as a group isn't easy.  It takes practice.  It takes a few failures.  It takes learning from your mistakes.  It takes a willing heart and an attitude of service.

I know the video below won't be for everyone, but if you have time and can sit through it Paul will give some of a demonstration of what it is like for a musician to really learn to listen and know what to do.  I had hoped to find a clip from Paul Boloche's new DVD, but no luck. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


It’s really easy to fall into the trap of being addict to self. I say this, because I know it’s easy for me.  As I look back through life I can see a lot of the times when I am struggling in my relationships, I can find that I struggle because I am addicted to myself.  I want what I want.  I want to do what I want to do.  I refuse to lay myself down for the betterment of God’s purpose in my life.

I say all of this because I think sometimes we get wrapped up in ourselves and really have to take a hard look at where we are in our lives.  We have to evaluate if we are headed in the right direction or if we have taken a detour that has gotten us way off the path.

while back I was visiting my sister’s church in Kiel, Wisconsin.  Pastor Fred Coleman gave a sermon that day that was unlike any other sermon I had heard on Roman 7:14-25. 

14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. 16 But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. 17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.

21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good.
22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from  the body of this death? 25  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

So today as I reflect on where I am at in my addiction to self I reflect on Pastor Coleman’s notes.

As a Christian, if I died to sin, why am I still hostage to this thing called sin?

4 things are established in Romans 7:14-25 that can help us understand our freedom in Christ…
            1.  The seriousness of the battle (vs15-18).
            2.  The closer you get to the Lord, the more sensitive you are about your

Show me a Christian who does not feel the pain of their failure, and I will show you a carnal Christian.

            3.  The new you, created in Christ, moved into an old house.

When the sin nature was shut down, what the sin nature produced, lodged itself in your body or flesh.

The flesh is the ongoing residual effect of our sin nature.

How does the flesh take over?
            4.  Satan studies your lifestyle.

Satan organizes an idea to be picked up by the magnet in your body called sin.

Sin injects thoughts into your mind so that we think they are your thoughts.

1. Recognize the battle for your mind…Romans 7
2. Confess and repent of sin in your life.
3.Live out Roman12:1&2
4. Fellowship and find accountability with a mature Christian

*** Note:  To walk in the Light is to make Godly, Biblical decisions in the Romans 7 struggles of our lives.

Hope you enjoy!  I know it has given me many reasons to pray and think about the battles that are going on in my life.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Pharisaical by Websterster defininition means "marked by hypocritical censorious self-righteousness."

As I was talking to my wife last night I realized how often we become like the Pharisees.  We spend our life going to church, working on our "relationship" with God, trying to do all the right things, just so we can become "righteous."  Unfortunantly our works are not our ticket into Heaven. They don't earn us anything. Rather, they should be an expression of our love for God.

A few days ago I heard someone say that their pursuing a relationship with God was the only thing that mattered and that they didn’t need to worry about other relationships.  I was extremly taken back by this, because it goes against everything I believe.  For me, it goes against the very core of everything God has called us to be.  On the other hand, I can see where they they could get that idea, because a lot of churches teach exactly that.
I’ve been in churches that teach this whether they think they do or not.  Many churches teach it just by actions alone.  They teach that your ticket to heaven is doing the right things and staying away from the wrong things.  They teach that everything has to do with a oneself rather than loving others the same way we love ourselves.  Sure their words might say that they care about people, but really once the doors are closed, many in the congregation don’t speak for another week.

I understand where they are coming from and admit I have been there myself.  The only problem is Jesus, didn’t say “'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, Leave your neighbor alone.’” Rather he said 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" Luke 10:27

Unfortunately for many of us, we have separated the two.  This reminds me of Matthew 25:31-46
I read this and I can’t help but think that many of us have become just like those Christ spoke against.  These people were often people who thought of themselves as very religious.  They openly confessed to what they were doing to follow God.  They would strive to follow His commands, do the things they thought they should be doing, but the whole time was only focused on themselves.  They would see people around them and ignore the needs that they could have met.  They went about their own business doing for themselves and neglecting all their “neighbors.”

 I can’t help but think our churches have made their way back to the time when taking care of yourself was considered enough.  We miss building relationships, helping each other, and understanding we are not called to be isolationists. 

Now some of this might sound like it doesn't really go together or that I am saying loving people is part of earning your rightousness.  I'm not.  Rather, I have come to believe in what is known as tri-polar spirituallity.  The easist way to explain it is that I have my relationship with God and I have my relationship with others. Each relationship is only as strong as the other relationship.  If I want a strong relatinship with God, I have to have a strong relationship with others. If I want to love others, I have to truly love God. 

Want to take it a step further?  I also believe that our relationship with God is only as strong as our love for our enemy....but that is another post altogether.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Lies...its all lies

We had the privilege of going with my parents this past weekend to an Amish community.  I’ve been to one before, but not since I was old enough to really understand what they believe and how simple their life really is.  To me, it’s amazing, yet somewhat disturbing at how complex our lives have gotten. 

After being there for part of the day, my wife asked me if I thought we might be missing out on something because we don’t live like that.  My answer had to be yes.

The more I think about our lives and the lives we, specifically Americans, live I am saddened by the fact that we are so greedy.  I have to include myself in the “we,” because I too have said, “I want” before.  I believe that God wants to give us the desires of our heart, but shouldn’t that desire be whatever He desires?  How could God not want to give us what He desires for us?

While we were there, my dad took the time to talk to one of the guys and the gentleman mentioned that they could only travel 15 miles a day with their horse and buggies.  I was surprised by that at first, but in thinking about it, I realized that they don’t really have to go farther very often. Their lives are so centered on family and community that they don’t need to travel very often to live their lives.  Without the extras, it is easier to live within ones means and if you don’t owe anyone money, life can be simpler.  I can only imagine where our country would be if we didn’t live off credit.  So many of us owe so much that when we work we are really just working to pay someone else.  We aren’t working to really provide for our family. 

So as I sit here today, I have to wonder, are we living a life that is way off what God had intended for us?  Are we so wrapped up in what the world tells us we should want that we forget to live in community and take care of one another?  I know there are some issues with the Amish beliefs, but could it be that they are really modeling a life closer to that of what Christ wants from us?  Could we have all bought into the lies of satan?

It makes you wonder….or at least it does me. The early church sold everything so that they could live together and provide for each other. Now, we hold on to everything so tight, refuse to give to others because we don’t like them, and find ways to isolate ourselves.  Are we listening to the lies of satan?  I think so.

Now, what to do about it?

Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:19-20 NIV


Friday, August 17, 2012

Excellent Choice

Shortly after graduating college, our son Noah was born.  At that time, I was looking for a full time job, and Marcey had a full time job.  We decided that since her job paid decent that after her maternity leave I would continue to stay home with Noah until I found a full time job that could replace her income.  I was working part time at Office Depot, but really I wasn’t providing for my family.  It was a hard place to be in.

I love being home with Noah and being able to spend time with him those first months, but something just wasn’t right.  Something inside me felt off and like I was doing something wrong.  I never really completely understood it till late last week when I heard a pastor speak on the role of a husband and father. 

He quoted from 1 Timothy 5:8 which says: Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

The pastor said that was for husbands and fathers, we are called to provide for our families.  To me, having lived that life, it makes perfect sense.  I wasn’t really providing for my family and in turn my faith suffered.  My life suffered.  Thanks be to God that not long after that period in my life God granted me a full time job that was able to replace Marcey’s income. 

She continued to work for a few weeks while the whole insurance thing worked itself out so we temporarily we put Noah in daycare.  I know it was hard on Marcey to do so, but we had a wonderful daycare provider (She only had Noah and one other kid plus her own) and loved him like her own.  I don’t think we could have asked for anyone better at that point in our lives.

After about a year or so of that, things changed and Marcey went back to work for a while.  We again put Noah in the same daycare as we knew he was genuinely loved there.  It wasn't long before I got a raise and we decided we wanted Marcey to be able to stay home with Noah. Marcey staying home to be with our kids has always been challenging in some ways.  However, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This past week I have been listening to “Bringing Up Boys” by James Dobson and “Real Marriage by Mark Driscoll.  Between those two books I have been able to see exactly why God planned for our lives to be this way.  Both books shared time and time again how God designed women to work at home and car for the children (Titus 2:5).  Dobson explained how important it is for women to do such things for child development reasons and Driscoll explained how it can actually be considered a sin for a man to force his wife to work rather than letting her stay home with the children.  They both explained due to the fact that there is sin in our world this may not always be possible, (IE single mothers) but it is the way God designed humanity.

Anyway, back to my point.  I have always been happy with our decision to do whatever it takes to let Marcey stay home with the kids. I know she has that desire and she wants what is best for them.  She works hard to train them, teach them, nurture them, and love on them.  It has been one of the best decisions, I think, we have ever made.  For me, this has all been confirmed this week through those two books.  As I listen to them being read it just echoes what Marcey has been telling me for so long and I am proud to call her my wife and the mother of my children.

It is amazing to me that sometimes God comes in to confirm you are doing things right even when you aren’t questioning it, for no other reason than to remind you that He is still there and has everything in control.   

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Dream

Really, there are two different dreams, but a dream just sounded better to me. I hesitate to call them dreams, because really they are something I wish I could do, but most likely will never become a reality.

Two of my favorite things in life are playing guitar and running a print shop.  Personally, I don't know that I would ever classify what I did as actually running a print shop, but rather selling printing and working with people so what they envision is what they get.

Over the past 5 years or so I have been thinking about jobs that would be fun to have and just imagining what could be.  One of such jobs is owning a music store.  It wouldn't be like your typical music store.  While, I would carry many of the same things other stores carry, my mission would be to equip kids who want to be musicians.

I have taught guitar lessons quite a bit in the past and one of the issues I have found is that parents are always hesitant to buy the kid a guitar that is suitable.  Many times, they try to borrow one or buy a cheap one because they don't want to spend the extra money on an instrument the kid might not want to play in 2 months.  I understand where they are coming from, but if a kid can't physically play an instrument because it doesn't fit them, I can almost guarantee they will quit playing in a month or two.  Its hard for them and really not much fun.

What I want to do, is have an assortment of guitars for rent or for purchase that would be affordable so that parents could buy the instruments the kid really needs.  The only problem is, you still have to  find a way to make money, so you have to be creative with how to get people actually into the store more frequently since your not making a whole lot on  each instrument.

That is where my stage comes in.  I envision having a stage that local "bands" could come play or practice on each day at a time they schedule.  That way people could come listen to them while they practice and bands would have somewhere to practice.  Plus, it would provide me with music for the store and get people to come in more frequently.  In the process of it all, I would be able to develop relationships with people because they would be coming in routinely as most bands practice routinely.

For me, its a dream, but probably never a reality because something like this requires money.  Money that I just don't have.

The second dream would be to own and run a print shop.  I worked for Office Depot as a manager for 4+ years and spent most of that time running a successful Copy and Print Department.  It was a lot of fun at first. I knew a lot of the programs really well and as I learned more about what we could do, I could make things happen. I could take what people thought they wanted and make it into that and so much more.

Like I said, it was a lot of fun at first, but when the company decided to change it's structure somewhat they ventured away from what the Copy and Print department could be.  With that more stresses came about and the job really wasn't that fun anymore.

Anyway, running the print shop and being where I am now has helped me to see how much need there is for printing and how a print shop could be very profitable.  I can't share all my secrets though.

For me, part of the reason for owning a business that is successful would be helping those in need.  Through owning a business such as this, I could hire those who needed jobs, train them, develop relationships with them, and hopefully be able to better someone's life.

I know right now is a hard time for small businesses to start-up.  There are so many hurdles in the way and it's not like it used to be.  I guess that is why I would call it a dream.  Dreams always cost you something, it's just deciding if the sacrifice is worth it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Chapter 5 - I love Jesus, I love God

Last night I came home from a meeting to find Taylor out of bed.  It was past his bed time, his pajamas were on, and he was asking for a drink (a common request after being in bed) so I knew Marcey had already put them in bed and they were supposed to be on their way to sleep.

Being that I had been gone most of the evening, I was glad he was up so that I could tell him goodnight and love on him before he went back to bed.  I asked him for a hug and ran over put his arms around my neck and told me, "I love Jesus and I love God." 

For those of you who have or have had children you know this is something you love to hear come out of their mouth.  For me, its a sign that our faith is at-least evident to them and that they know how important our relationship with God is.  It also was an encouragement in that, we know they are processing what we are teaching them. 

Anyway, as I put him down and he started to walk down the hallway he turned around and looked at me and said, "Jesus is alive again."  To which all I could say is "yes, you are right."

To me, its amazing how much he already understands what that means.  Through other conversations I have had with Marcey, I learned that he knows what that means.  He knows that Jesus died on a cross, but that He is not dead anymore. 

Jesus taught repeatedly that we needed to have faith like a child.  For me, when I look at my kids I can see why.  I think they have a better understanding of who God is and what he has done for us that we realize.  Children haven't listen to as many lies as satan has told us over the years and believed them.  They can believe God is who He says his is without doubting.  That could be why I feel sometimes Noah's prayers are so powerful. I don't know how many times I have asked him to pray for something because I know if he prays for it there is a pretty good chance something is going to happen. 

Anyway, the whole experience is humbling for me.  Just by his words, I know Taylor has been processing and thinking about the fact that he loves Jesus and he loves God.  I wonder how many times in our lives things would be better if we could just cling to that simple statement. 

Marcey told me the other day that she heard Taylor singing "Jesus Loves Me" while they were in the car.  She said that right along with the words to the song he added, "and I love Jesus."  I don't know that there is a greater joy in a parents life than knowing that their child loves Jesus.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Encouragement of a wife

Today, I want to share what may be a lesser known power that wives have.

Over the past six months to a year, I have been taking note of different things Marcey does that I have taken for granted over the years.  Sometimes, I come across something that I wish I would have realized sooner so that I could actually have an open dialog with her about it. Plus, by doing so,  she would be able to see that I do truly understand her efforts in my life as well as I can realize how those efforts really effect me.

Over the past few years, I have had a couple friends that no matter what it is in my life that is going on they are always an encouragement.  I have always admired them for that and hope to someday be able to be that for someone else.  What I have realized lately, however, is that my wife has the power to encourage me like no one else.

We all get discouraged from time to time.  Last week was one of those times for me.  I can't for certain say what was the cause of the discouragement, but something just felt out of place.  Then over this past weekend, I was able to spend some time with Marcey and through the course of our conversations, she said some things that I noticed immediately began to lift my spirits.  That is when I really began to realize the power that she had.

Now, I want to take a moment and say that I don't think we should put pressure on our wives nor should we feel fulfilled only when our wives are telling us the things we want to hear.  However, I think that God has strategically placed our wives in our lives to make us, as husbands, to be better people more like Him. 

In Genesis 2:18 it says  Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” I think this verse is important, because it describes the power a woman has.  God does not say that He is going to give man a slave, but rather a suitable helper.  To me, a helper is just as important as the person they are helping.  Not only that, but a suitable helper means that they are qualified for the position.

I couldn't imagine where I would be right now if I hadn't met and married my wife. 

In 1 Corinthians 7:14 it says  For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy. There are a lot of directions you can go with this verse, but I don't believe what He is actually sayings is that people are saved through their spouse and that they don't have to believe in Christ (there is a difference between being saved and being sanctified...maybe I can touch on that more later).  Rather I think that what it really means is that as a spouse we have a vital role to play in the lives of our spouse.  I can't tell you how many times I have been able to see Christ in the life of my wife and that has helped shape me and my attitude.

We are called to be Christ to our spouses just as we are to others.  Unfortunately we often become so comfortable around them or forget the importance of that relationship and take it for granted.  

Anyway, there are three things I really wanted to say.

First, Thank you Marcey for being such an encouragement in my life.  I love you so much!

Second, wives encourage your husbands.  You don't know the power you have and how much a few simple words from you will really effect his heart, mind, and soul.

Third, husbands (including me) don't take for granted what your wife does for you.  Began to look for the different things she is doing in your life that so often become unnoticed or overlooked.  Then, thank her for them.  I am terrible at this, but I know it is a great power of ours.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Heart of Worship

As I have mentioned numerous times in numerous posts, I once had the privilege of serving under a great worship leader and with some truly great musicians.  I would be lying if I didn’t say I reflect on that time quite frequently and am so appreciative of the many blessings God gave me during that time that I sometimes overlooked while I was in the midst of it.

Part of what I believe made him such a great worship leader is the fact that his heart was aligned with his mouth.  So many worship pastors say (sing) one thing with their mouth, but you can tell by their heart and their life that they struggle in that area. 

Being a worship pastor is a hard job.  There is so much you have to know and do, but not only that, it is an easy place for satan to attack someone. So many are given the job because of their voice or their talents, and while their heart most often starts out in the right place, it can quickly become what can I do to make this bigger, better, or make people respond more. It is so easy that what really makes things “bigger and better” and ultimately help people respond more is a true heart of worship. 

A heart of worship doesn’t start and end on the stage, it’s a lifestyle. 

A few years ago, my wife started buying me a collection of DVDs by Paul Baloche.  The series covers the basics of leading worship, musicianship, vocals, theory, and a few others.  I loved the series and watched each of the DVDs multiple times.  Occasionally I would loan them out for others to watch and hope that they would bring someone else as much joy and clarity as they did me.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I loaned a few of them out and somehow at some point three of them were lost.  I was very disheartened when I realized I had lost them.  Knowing that I wanted to get them again, I reached out to Paul’s online ministry to see if they would give me a discount if I bought the three again.  I explained a little as to what had happened and it wasn’t too long before I got an email back.  One of the gentleman said that he just went ahead and shipped me the ones I was missing.

After receiving the DVDs in the mail, I was slightly saddened that the ones he sent were not the ones I had lost.  That was until I began to watch them.  Two of the ones that he sent were very similar to the ones I lost, but the gentleman also sent two others that were nothing like the ones I had lost.  As I began to watch them, I realized it had to have been a God thing.   The DVD’s I didn’t get were ones I didn’t need, and the ones that I really wanted to watch now had more material and covered more about the heart of worship. 

As I began watching the movies with Marcey I was reminded even more how important a heart of worship and a heart of serving is necessary in a ministry.   The musicians were all there to serve, Paul was there to serve, and the whole atmosphere drew me back to the musicians that I used to play with.  It was energizing and refreshing. 

Anyway, what I really wanted to share was the last couple weeks I have been down a little from where I wanted to be.  This weekend through the DVDs and spending quality time with my wife and family, turned out to be a refreshing weekend that provided me hope for the future.

Secondly, If you are in a worship ministry, I would encourage you to check out Paul’s DVD series as he gives a lot of great ideas on how to build a band and worship team that truly leads others through worship not only on state, but also reflective in the lives they live.

Wrap me in your arms (take 2)

A couple weeks ago, I shared a song that was on my heart called "Wrap Me in Your Arms," by Michael Gungor.  It has become a song that I cling to recently in the midst of some confusion.  It has been a great reminder along with "Loved by You," by Paul Baloche.  These two songs have brought me a lot of peace over the last month or so.

Anyway, last night Lilly didn't sleep so well.  She woke up and started crying and after getting to her to back to sleep, I tried to lay her down and she just started crying again.  I picked her up and tried to get her to go back to sleep but it was a real challenge.  Something was bothering her.  After about 5 minutes or more of the crying I finally got her to rest on my chest while I had my arms around her and she calmed down.  As I lay there holding her, "Wrap Me in Your Arms" came into my head and really helped shape that moment for me.

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!    -Matthew 7:11

As I laid there I begin to think about how, in that moment, I wanted to hold my little girl and take away whatever pain she had.  I wanted to ease her mind and help her rest.  Then, If I, being evil wants to do those things for her, how much more does God want to wrap us in His arms and help us.

I was watching the background story behind "Loved by You," with Paul Baloche yesterday and he said that when he was writing the song he ran it by several pastors to make sure they didn't think it was heretical.  He said that he believed what he wrote, but didn't want to minimize the God human relationship.

I don't think the song is heretical at all, especially not after last night.  For me that time, even though not necessarily pleasant, reminded me of what God has been trying to tell me lately.  It showed me that it is OK for me to feel down sometimes because that is a time when God can come in and wrap me in His arms and show me how He wants to love me.

After all, He is the perfect Father.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Calling?

So this week I have been listing to a book on CD called "Saying it Well" by Charles (Chuck) Swindoll. He is an amazing speaker. If you have never heard any of his sermons, I would highly recommend listening to a few. I once heard him say in one of his interviews that he likes to ask Children after his sermons what they understood him to say.  If they couldn't remember anything he didn't feel like he did a good job.  He tried to preach so that anyone, including children, could understand without dumbing down what he was saying. 

Anyway, I wanted to "read" (my wife wouldn't consider this reading a book) his book because of his style, but also because I respect who he is and what he does. I wanted to see if he had anything for me.  If somewhere in the midst of this book I could find something that would help me be who God wanted me to be.

The whole first CD is him explaining some of his past and talking about how be became to be a pastor.  He walked through different events in his life describing how God had placed them in his life to help him in his "calling."  At the end of the first CD he ends with saying to the effect of, "Before you continue with this book, you need to figure out what your calling is.  Without knowing your calling the rest of what I have to say will do very little to help you."  That is when it hit me.  I don't really know what my calling is right now.

I am sure I have probably mentioned it before that when I was a freshman in college God called me to music ministry.  He asked me to do something, at that time, I had no interest in doing. I wasn't a good musician.  I didn't know much about music.  I had quit band half way through high school, because I was terrible and didn't want to practice.  It wasn't part of who I was.  That is when I learned that God doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the called.  He taught me so much in those next few years and used music to bring friends into my life that have really shaped how I see God and what I believe it looks like to really worship God. It was a time I will always count as blessed,  where I got to work with some truly AMAZING musicians.  The musicians are probably the best I will ever play with.

It was during that time of learning that I had the opportunity to work with a few teens.  They were great.  I developed some really strong relationships with some of them.  It was then that I realize another reason God wanted me to learn to love music and it was because I was able to teach a group of musicians to play together and give them the opportunity to worship together and lead others in worship.  After about a year of working with them, I felt like God was calling me to pursue youth ministry. Marcey had always had a passion for teens so that made things easy.  We were finally on the same page and working towards a goal together.  After six months or so of this I finally found a church. (Just wanted to mention that after I left I went back to see that band of teens play and they are amazing.  They kept going even after I left and have done some really cool things including winning a couple contests.)

I was hired on as a youth pastor and stayed there for close to 15 months.  Again, I was able to use my music to really reach teens and work with them on learning what it looks like to play as a group and really worship God in music.  I had a lot of fun with so many of them, but unfortunately, as with most ministries, they come with challenges.  I let too many things get in the way of me, my family, and my relationship with God.  I was working close to 80 hours a week between, the church, a full time job, and the schooling it required.  I didn't have much left of me for me, let alone God or my family.  It was a hard, but an experience I will never forget. I had to leave that environment though.  I wasn't able to continue at the pace I was going and still be who God wanted me to be.  I had let too many things get in the way of the calling.

We left.  I was hurt.  I was broken. I felt like a failure.  I no longer felt like I had a calling.

It has been a little over a year now since then and things are better, but as I was listening to that CD this morning, I realize I didn't know what my calling was anymore.  I love music.  I love teaching people to worship.  I love leading people in worship.  I love to worship.  I love playing with great musicians.  I love teens and investing in their lives although now I realize how much that actually takes.  I love getting to know people and investing in their lives.  I like my job.  I like how I get to do something I like to do and never dread going to work.  I like that I can take time to write my blog and that I have had a lot of time to read, think, and share what God is doing in my life. Yet....Yet, I still don't feel like I know what God is calling me to. I feel so discouraged sometime and wonder if He is making it so that I am not comfortable where I am.

So...I sit here today thinking...What is my calling?  What is it that God wants me to do? to be?

I have to admit...its somewhat discouraging to not know.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Desert

If you have been around the church much you have probably either read Mathew 3:13-Mathew 4:11. I know I have read it many times but never really put two and two together until a while back.  If you are like me, a lot of times when I get to the end of a chapter I look at it as the end of the chapter and don't really connect it with the next chapter very well.  I don't let the two thoughts go together.

When you take these two chapters however and put them together you get an image that's a little bit different.  The end of chapter 3 is the story of John the Baptist baptizing Christ and God saying that He is pleased.  It is pretty much the start of Christ's ministry and someone a point of highlight in His life.  In chapter 4, it begins by saying "Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." Now if you separate the two thoughts, it's hard to make the connection, but when you put them together you will see what I feel like I am dealing with right now.  

For a while now (pretty much as long as I have been writing this blog) I feel like God has been really working on me getting me to where He wants me to be in relationship with Him.  Things have been going good and I can see new things.  Relationships are being built and restored.  

Then I have had my last two weeks.  Over the last two weeks, I have felt attacked on so many levels.  I feel like satan has been throwing things at me trying to tear me down....trying to change how I view things.

That is when I cling to this story and remember that Christ had victory of satan and so can I.  I think the story is a story of hope for us, to show us it can be done. That even when you are weak you can remain strong in Christ and draw from the things He has taught you to stand up to satan and work through the trials and temptations.  

Who are we to think we are better than Christ and not have to go through trials and deserts.  Who are we to think that low times shouldn't come to us; that God shouldn't allow satan to throw things at us.

Anyway, just wanted to share the thought.  It's been somewhat of a rough week or so, but I know there is hope and light at the end of the tunnel.  I know God is still there and I can trust in Him.

Before I go I want to share a video.  I can't say that its my favorite song as much as I can say I just love words.

Anyway, do you think I should grow my beard to look like his?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Your asking the wrong person

If you have ever looked through my "Latest Titles I'm Reading" link you will notice a book called DiSSIDENT DISCIPLESHIP by David Augsburger.  I really struggled to get through the first chapter, but once I did I have fell in love with a lot of his ways of communicating spiritual truths.  Today I just want to take a minute to give you a few quotes and let you ponder of the reality of their meanings.  These quotes are in the framework of what it means to be an authentic witness.

In the book Augsburger quotes Leo Tolstoy in reference to his sharp critique of the institutional church and its superficial-indeed, as he called it, fraudulent-religion:

And the meaning of fraud is merely that there are people who are beside themselves with desire to teach their religion to other people.  And why are they so anxious to teach their religion to other people?  If they had a real religion they would know that religion is the understanding of life, the relation each man establishes to God, and that consequently you cannot teach a religion, but only a counterfeit of religion.

Augsburger then goes on to tell the story of an Evangelical minister who called Amish bishop in a community near Shipshewana, Indiana. 

New to the area, the evangelical minster wanted to meet fellow Christian leaders and perhaps arrive at some understanding of their faith in relation to his fundamentalist framework.  At the end of several hours of conversation, thoroughly laced by quotations from and references to scripture by both men, the minister rose to leave then paused to ask a final-and for him, the crucial-question.  “What I really want to know”, he said, “are you saved, truly born again through a personal faith in Christ?”  “You’re asking the wrong person,” the Amish bishop replied.  “You do not ask that question of me.  You ask my neighbors, you ask my people.  Here, I will give you the names of people who have known me for years, of those who have been critical of me, or have real differences with me.  Ask them.  That is who you must ask if you want an answer to that question.”

The last quote from the book is from Jim Wallis

The Gospel message has been molded to suit an increasingly narcissistic culture.  Conversion is proclaimed as the road to self realization.  Whether through evangelical piety or liberal therapy, the role of religion is presented as a way to help us uncover our human potential-our potential for personal, social, and business success, that is.  Modern conversion brings Jesus into our lives rather than bringing us into his.  We are told Jesus is here to help us to do better than which we are already doing.  Jesus doesn’t change our lives, he improves them.  Conversion is just for ourselves, not for the world.  We ask how Jesus can fulfill our lives, not how we might serve His kingdom.

Anyway, these are just a few quotes that I found that I wanted to share. Thoughts?

Monday, August 6, 2012


To be honest with you, I really wanted to name this post, "I Hate America." I don't know that I actually hate America as much as I have been extremely discouraged by the way that we are heading.  Plus, that would just been a ploy to get more people to read, which is not my intent.

This whole thought came about a few months ago when my wife mentioned putting a flag on our house. I told her I would never do that. I didn't really care for the cheesy season ones and I sure as heck didn't want an American flag hanging on my house.

Yes, I know I live in America, but I was not proud to be an American. It may just be that I am uneducated on the subject (and I welcome the education), but when I look at our past, I can respect those that fought for our freedom, or did something with their lives, who worked towards a goal. I see people who lived their lives ethically, loved people, cared for people. People lived in community, took care of each other, helped each other out. War was fought to stand up for what was right. People would lay their lives down for one another...they would sacrifice for one another.

Now, I see people who are so full of greed they do whatever they can to take a dollar from another person. People isolate themselves and pretend as if they don't need community. They push people away. Soldiers are being trained to be killing machines where they see no man on the other side of the line as having value and being taught that the best place to be in war is on the front line for no other reason than to kill. Sure I know there are still good people, but I see satan taking ground all over the place.

This is what I saw before last night.

As I was reading last night I began to look at all the failures of the Israelites. They had God in front of them for so long. He showed Himself to them in so many ways and yet...they became just as corrupt. God sent His SON to them and they rejected Him. They were constantly coming up with new idols to serve, just as so many of us do.

Yet...there were prophets, rabbis, teachers, leaders, and disciples who were Israelites and didn't complain about it. Sure they had a heart for the people and were saddened and sometimes outraged with how people were acting and refusing to see the light, but they lived where God had placed them.

As I see that and begin to look at other countries of the world, what nations are there that haven't fallen into satan's snares.

The more I look at it from that perspective, the more I see things differently. I can't say that I am to a point where I am proud to be an American, but I can say that I am proud to be a follower of Christ and privileged to have the opportunity to be in an area of the world where there are so many fields that able to be worked....even if the soil isn't ready.

Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:19-20 NIV

Friday, August 3, 2012

August 21, 2012

Alright, so you may be wondering why I titled this one a date that hasn't come yet.  Well that is the date the next Chris August record is coming out.  Over the last 6 months or so I have become a huge fan of his.  His song "I want to be Real" hit me at a time when I really needed to be real with myself and others.  It has been through that song that I have been able to move past hurts in my past and move on to new things.

Anyway, I wanted to take the opportunity today to share his new video from today that really shares the basics of that new album.  He is real.  He is honest.  I love his music.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


I find it interesting how much hate is going around within a community of people who claim to be following Christ.  You read through comments on news articles and it goes back and forth of people slamming each other.

I have recently been doing a lot of reading on what it means to really be a disciple of Christ and to truly follow Him.  One of the common themes is love for all people. Christ, not once, says that He hates anyone.  In fact, He goes out of His way to show love to people others hate.  It doesn't mean He agrees with what they are doing, but rather He gives them the option to have new life and be free from sin.

In Dissident Disciple, Augsburger shares a story of a community where a group of Mennonites  had moved in and bought up a lot of the land.  One gentleman who still lived in the community hated the Mennonites and even ran some of them off the road and claimed he wish he could do the same to the rest.

Not long after that occurrence there was a terrible storm and his barn was hit by lightning.  The lightning started a fire and burned the barn to the ground.  The next day, much to his surprise, the Mennonite community showed up at his house.  They brought everything that would be needed to rebuild the barn and feed everyone that was helping.  His barn was reconstructed.  The story ends with the man standing in his driveway watching all that is going on with tears running down his face as the people he hated were showing him true love.

Like I have mentioned before, love is always going to cost us something.  You can't love someone and not expect to give up part of what you claim is yours.  These people were doing just that.  They were giving up their time, their resources, their lives to help a man who they knew didn't like them.  They were loving him.

I have been challenged recently to read 1 John 2. In the midst of reading that I came upon a piece that fell right in line with something else Augsburger had said. 

The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. 10  The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.  1 John 2:9-11

Augsburger said that Tripolar Spirituality is the Spirituality of radical agape and enemy love. In other words, I love God only as I love my enemy.    Which is what I get from 1 John 2:9-11.

He also goes on to say that  Jesus, unlike his followers, did not teach a bi-polar spirituality of individual encounter with God as the goal of the inner life. He was unequivocal in teaching a tri-polar spirituality: 'discovering and knowing the self by knowing and loving God through the experience of loving the neighbor who images God.' O, I like that! I know we can argue that the other approaches sometimes reach out - as a consequence of first reaching in or up - but I think I'd want to argue that they also often malfunction on the way. The tri-polar approach strikes me as refreshingly and daringly Christlike. 

I again would tend to agree with this.  As I have said before God didn't intend for us to live alone.  He intended us to live in community.  If we are busy hating people how can we possibly love them enough to allow them into the community God has created for them.

I have two last examples that I want to leave you with.  You can think about them, respond to them, or challenge yourself by them.

As many of you know, yesterday was deemed Chick-fil-a appreciation day.  Many people went out to support Chick-fil-a and them being pro-traditional family. It was a big day for them.  However, there were also people that were protesting Chick-fil-a yesterday in the midst of it all.  While the restaurants were busy and the protestors were doing what they could to make people "aware" of how "bad" Chick-fil-a was, several of the restaurants sent out employees with water for the protestors.  If that's not showing love to someone who hates you, I don't know what is.

Lastly, there was a lady by the name of Mrs. Mary Glover who was a sixty-year-old African-American woman serving at the Sojourners Neighborhood Center 20 blocks from the White House.  As was custom, they were praying before they began serving. Mrs. Glover began her prayer with "Lord, we know that you'll be comin' through this line today.  So help us to treat you well."

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.’   Mathew 25:40