Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Hope's rendition of "Jesus Loves Me" :-)

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Drawing Near

Had the opportunity to speak on worship at History this weekend. You can listen [here].

when my church died...

A year ago, I was chest deep in seeking God and the counsel of several mentors about future of the church that I was leading. This was my first full time ministry position following my graduation from seminary. When I took the position, fully knowing the condition of the church and what "they" said about it, I was filled with hope and faith for what God would do in and through this church...

Eventually the harsh realities of being a small congregation struggling with finances and numbers, and fighting hoops of denominationalism, it became clear to me and to the leadership of our little church that it was time to close the doors.

This decision seemed to fly in the face of the faith that I had been preaching and absolutely devastated me and the folks who had bravely partnered with my wife and I in giving this redevelopment project a go. It was decidedly the hardest ministry decision that I had ever made, and probably will have to make for a long time to come (hopefully!!!). But I am confident that this was a decision that was from the Lord...and ultimately was best for the purposes he had for His church.

We had made wonderful progress in the short time that we were together, the finances were again in the black, the people were beginning to show signs of catching a vision for others who needed to hear of the saving grace of Jesus, and there was a sweet sense of worship each time we gathered. Ultimately though, the church was suffering from spiritual, mental, and emotional exhaustion from the past years of disappointment and struggle. For real progress in this situation...the church needed to close.

As I have processed the pain of this event...and I think there was more pain for me than I realize...I have learned so much, but mostly this simple truth: When we experience moments of death we should pray for, and can expect great moments of resurrection.

We serve and know the God of resurrection, of new life, He desires for this to be a reality to us not just when we pass from this life, but each day that we are with Him here on earth as well.

I remember so well the intensity of the emotion in those last days there...I remember the fear of not knowing how the Lord would provide for my family in the coming months...I remember the frustration of the thankless job of sifting through years of accumulated "church stuff" in preparation for vacating our premises...but I also remember the joy of God answering my prayers for a breakthrough in my life...I remember the joy of meeting with the pastor of another church who graciously began to shepherd many of those in my church...I remember getting a call out of the blue for a new position...before I had even started looking...

A year later I am on staff at an amazing church with such a missional heart. I have seen God move so powerfully in my life this past year....beyond anything I could imagine. I am in a season of my life where I am experiencing growth and stretching in ways that I wouldn't have imagined a year ago.

Many of the folks who were part of that church have experienced resurrection as well. God has brought them to new, and healthier places spiritually...and it is exciting to see. Some of them I am still praying that God will do a break through in...but He will...

I think sometimes we hold tight to things that God wants us to let die, because we are unsure of the Christ's promise of resurrection...

...He lives.

Psalm 30:11-12
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

Friday, February 24, 2006

now that's a birthday present!

Today is our good friend Ginny's birthday. Happy Birthday Ginny!!! She is in Iraq doing humanitarian aid, and teaching English.

She has an amazing post [here] about the interim prime minister of Iraq (her secret crush) stoppping by to wish her a happy birthday. Be sure to check out the pictures too.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Worship Leader Q&A

Great post from Rich [here]

a picture is worth a thousand words...

This is a photograph taken by Steve McCoy entitled "Glow." He posted it on his blog with the heading "Greater and Lesser Lights." Awesome Steve!

Reminds me of a fireworks display I once saw that was happening at the same time as some serious heat lightning. God always wins those creative battles. :-) I'm just glad he was gracious enough to give us the ability to make "shadows."

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

a quote

got this from a John Maxwell leadership email -

Creativity can solve almost any problem. The creative act, the defeat of habit by originality, overcomes everything.
-- George Lois

Small Groups Change Lives

Here are a couple of shots that I snuck with my new treo during our small group on Sunday night. Small groups are central to how we do ministry and make disciples at History Church. So much that effects the language that we use to talk about our gatherings. Sunday mornings are called "All Group" so that even that gathering is seen as tied to the vision of small groups.

This past Sunday night I saw in a real tangible way why small groups are so important to our church. I asked one of the most successful and mature business leaders in our group, someone who has years of high level government service under his belt (can't tell you more or he'd be forced to kill me) to close our time in prayer. He said he would give it a shot...after he had prayed and we were all just mingling around preparing to head out for the night, he pulled me aside. He said thank you so much...praying out loud was a big deal for him and a real step of faith to be that transparent and vocal in front of everyone regarding his faith.

I was blown away...that wouldn't have happened in his life with out an environment where it was ok to just be who he is in his journey with Christ, and a place that nurtures personal spiritual growth in really practical ways.

Walking with Christ takes practice...its hard at first. Small groups are a great place where we are seeing folks move from wobbly walkers to confident runners in their pursuit of Christ.

Friday, February 17, 2006

got it!!!

after great debate...patience...saving and research...and the gentle coersion of most of my friends...I am the proud and poor owner of a Palm Treo 700w! it is soo sweet. i don't know how to run it yet...but i'm excited...


I had a great practice with our worship band last night. We just really seemed to gel on the songs, and the parts that we worked on, they picked up quick...things just seemed "tight."

It was an interesting observation for me, because this was our first worship rehearsal after a couple of weeks where we had some extra rehearsals for an event we were playing some covers for. I think the distraction from our status quo, and a chance to just play together was really healthy for us.

I'm going to keep that in mind and look for other ways for us to break out of the mold musically, so that we can be more effective in our primary calling of leading folks in worship.

On another note, we also just started reading through a book together, The Unquenchable Worshipper by Matt Redman. The book is great, but more importantly it has stirred great discussion and given us a really solid launching point for our discipleship moments after rehearsal. We only have a short bit of time to talk post rehearsal, and I have been searching for ways to make this really productive. For now this book has really helped.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


Got this from Joe :-)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Official Word

Got this today from a guy in our church. 10.5 inches...that's a pretty good snow!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

a poem

My wife just sent this poem she wrote...along with wonderful things about how she loves me. :-) But this just made me laugh...

step out of the shower
puddle on the floor
step out of the shower
puddle on the floor
step out of the shower
She has a great blog about the perils of motherhood [here]. I couldn't have a more wonderful, beautiful, thoughtful, and creative wife...and she's hot too!


Just finished talking with a couple of "elders" from the Mormon Church. It was an interesting and frustrating discussion for me. As the conversation progressed I found myself struggling to be gracious. I get so tired of canned phrases and conversations, that are not based on any intellegent or critical scholarship.

Two things that I took away:

1. I need to continually be asking for God's heart toward people. It is easy for me in situations like this to lose my compassion for the people in the midst of my frustration over doctrine.

2. I continually need to be sharp in my own scholarship and scriptural knowledge. These guys came to me with ideas and phrases that were based in so many things other than Scripture. They tied together texts that had nothing to do with each other...and didn't seem to have a grasp of what the Bible actually says. Christ died on the cross that I may have full access to the Father. I want to be a good steward of that access.

Maybe they'll come back...stay tuned...

Friday, February 10, 2006

gypsies, tramps, and thieves

"Autonomy is a harlotry that does not work."
- Walter Brueggaman - in a commentary on psalm 73

I was so struck by this comment today. At first I was enamoured by the interesting use of words, but as I rolled them around in my brain for a bit, they really sunk in.

The the image of spiritual adultary is so prevelant in Scripture. A fact that fascinates me, and makes me uncomfortable. God uses the language of intimacy and sexuality, something that is most private and personal to us, to analogize His relationship with us and our brokenness in that.

I understand and have wrestled with the tendancy to place other things in the place of God. That kind of harlotry is familiar to me. But I was reminded today that very often my secret lover is myself. My own ambition to get er' done. My tendancy to take it all into my own hands and do it with out Him, who holds me close...inspite of myself.

This is my prayer today:

Psalm 73:28
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Great Worship Leaders

Just read a great article by Dan Wilt [here]. I was challenged by it in how I seek to develop as a worship pastor, and I think its a great resource for churches looking for new worship leaders. Let's keep the bar high for worship and worship leaders in our churches! Don't settle for a rock star...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

lead...then play

I've discovered and am discovering over and over that worship leading must first be about leadership, and second about music. This isn't denying the fundamental requirement that success in any given area must begin with good raw material (in this case, decent musicianship). If a worship leader is too focused on music and technical things to the detriment of leadership then I think that they have denied their call to lead their team and the congregation into heartfelt, passionate and God honoring worship.

The trend in worship right now is toward an ever increasing excellence in the music. I am so glad for this. My passion for our church is that when people walk into our services that there would be little to difference in quality between what they hear outside of our church and what they hear inside.

The way my priorities break down in getting there is to first grow as a leader, and then as a musician...these are happening simultaneously, but my priorities fall in that order. As a good leader my goal is to surround myself then with folks who are better than me technically and musically, and seek to raise them up as leaders as well. If I am successful the next generation of worship leaders that emerge from History will far surpass where we are now.

lead...then play...

Friday, February 03, 2006

relegated to the corner

I've been thinking lately about worship, and the arts, and how I can foster those things in our church. It struck me today, as I was reading some creative writing by a guy in our church, that while God has really gifted him, and others like him, very often this kind of creative expression goes unnoticed in the church, and never has the opportunity to encourage or edify the rest of the body. The same goes for art...though this is changing with the rise in graphic arts being used in the church. On the whole, beyond music the artistic culture of churches in general today is fairly sterile...and some would argue that would go for the music too...

One of the most amazing expressions of God's grace to us is making us creative people. I love to see that come out in other folks, in ways that are unique to them and how God has gifted them. What are some ways to foster this in the local church?

A Brain Dump:
open mic nights
literary publications
art shows
art nights
poetry in worship (spoken word moments)
responsive readings
art during worship
art during the message
music in the message
pottery classes that make bowls and pots for those in need
creating an in house publisher
building creative team
saying "yes" to creative endeavors
songwriters group
What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


I have a confession to make. I have been lusting. Lusting for a sweet new phone! Palm just released the Treo with Window Mobile as the OS. It is the perfect marriage of my technological worlds. Is it wrong to pray for a gadget? :-)