Saturday, March 31, 2007

Easter is Here

Tonight at 7pm, Immanuel's Worship Ministry will be presenting the Inland Empire Passion Celebration 2007. The drama, orchestra, and praise choir are incredible. The lighting, set, and sound are top notch. Our people have done it again. Everyone involved has done an incredible job of preparation for tonight and tomorrow night. Thank you to each of you for your talents, time, and sacrifice to make this year's production the best it can be. I am impressed by all of you.

We all know the end of the story - Christ conquers death and the grave and gives us the victory! But, there are some pretty powerful scenes depicted here - one between Jesus and Nicodemus, and 2 others between Jesus and Mary. The first between Jesus and Mary shows him as a little boy and her as a young mother. She sings a beautiful song to Him that is later echoed as she cradles her son after His death on the cross. The rehearsals have literally pumped me up with a newfound passion.

Alright, Immanuel. Make sure you are there tonight and/or tomorrow night. You do not want to miss this. Invite your neighbors, family, all of the lost people you can find, and get them here. God may use this to bring someone you know or have been praying for to Himself. Tonight - 7pm, Tomorrow-5:30pm. If you miss it you will miss the opportunity to see God do an incredible work in people's lives...and one of those lives could be your own.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Family Man

I've taken a couple of days off this week to spend with the family. Caleb is out on spring break, so I'm hanging out with them. Yesterday we spent the whole day at Universal Studios, Hollywood, and we capped the day off with dinner at CityWalk and watching TMNT (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), The Movie. I couldn't believe it when I bought the tickets. "2 kids and 2 adults please," I asked as I pulled out a $20 bill and a 10. "$38, please." Excuse me? 38 bucks for a cartoon that I don't really want to see anyway? $38?!!!!??? I heard right. It WAS $38. But, it was for the kids so I let them rob me right there in front of the rest of the rediculous crowd of people who were hurrying to give their hard earned money away...just like me. Oh well. Apart from spending all of my future retirement, it was a great day. We really had a good time together.

Today, we are planning on playing a little tennis (that ought to be interesting with a 6 and 5 year old) and then on to the pool. The kids are so excited. Wow. Sometimes I impress myself.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Dancing With the Stars

Tonight, Jody and I (and another couple) were part of the studio audience at Dancing With the Stars. It was awesome. We had the best time. It was a lot of Hollywood. In addition to the stars that were dancing, we saw Boyz II Men, Chuck Woolery, Liam Neeson, Brian Austin Green, and several other people that I had to be told were stars. But, it was really cool. We came home and watched the show on TIVO (again, the greatest invention ever) and we saw ourselves in the audience. If you didn't know it was us, you wouldn't have noticed, but we saw ourselves! Oh, yes we did. You know how when you see people on tv and they make fools of themselves and you talk about how stupid they are.....that was us. We were in the background just 'a wavin'. Oh, well. It was worth going. We had a blast! And, where else are you going to see two 90210 actors, Chuck Woolery, and Boyz II Men all in the same place?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

California in March

One thing that has been really cool about California is that we've been able to go swimming all month. The past 3 weekends, we've been at the pool here in our neighborhood. I don't think my body has ever known a sunburn in the month of March, yet here I sit, with a red face, chest, and stomach. I'm not complaining, mind you, I'm actually revelling in the fact that this is reality. I'm lovin' it!

It is really neat to see that my son is more popular than I am. We were just approaching the pool area today when we started hearing "hey Caleb", then another "hey it's Caleb!" Then another, "Caleb, over here." He simply threw up his hand and said "hey." So, needless to say, Caleb has plenty of friends around. Abby, not starting school until August, hasn't made the connections yet.

Both Caleb and Abby are tan tan tan. Neither one of them have burned yet. I guess our skin is just getting older. We hit 84 here today. Post a comment and let me know what the weather was like today where you are. Name your city and your high temp today.

Friday, March 23, 2007


Jody and I were flipping channels tonight and came across the Miss USA pageant. It just struck me funny that in order to represent our country as Miss USA, you must look good while wearing a 2-piece bathing suit and high heels. I know that's random...but it was pretty funny watching those ladies.

Celebrate Good Times, Come ON!

As I walked up the front sidewalk and approached the large building, I had a feeling of anxious anticipation sweep over me. It was like a flashback that I couldn't shake. I felt like a 10 year old who had been caught throwing rocks. As I crossed through the doorway I smelled the faintness of ammonia mixed with bleach...a lethal combination. The fragrance of greasy pizza and corn filled my nose. There was no doubt where I was or what was about to occur. I had just jumped into a time machine and had been transported back to ...... (dramatic organ music) dun, dun, duhhhhn....Elementary School!!!

We had a meeting with Caleb's teacher and were to receive the results of his STAR standardized testing. In weeks prior, we had been told that he probably would not do very well because of the transition from Tennessee to California. They do things slightly different here, and they had worked on certain things that Caleb had yet to do in Tennessee. However, when the teacher sat down with us she had a look of surprised amazement, and joy, as she pulled out Caleb's results. She informed us that he scored at the top of his class in EVERY subject. My nervousness subsided as I realized that I wouldn't have to make up excuses, spank children, or slap teachers. None of that would take place. Instead, I leaned back in my tiny little plastic chair, pulled my adult-sized legs out from under the child-sized table and poked out my mammoth-sized chest that had swollen with pride. "That's my boy!" I thought to myself as I soaked in all of the great accolades from his teacher. The party is on!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

It's Family Time!

As a church leader I occassionally hear from people that they can't participate in a church function because that is family night. This is the preselected time of the week that their family regularly meets together for movie night, game night, etc. Now hey, I am all for family time. In fact, I don't think that our church families set aside those times regularly enough. However, how true to form are we?

Eric Reed, a writer for Leadership Magazine, says, "It’s one way Generations X and Y are making up for the hands-off, latch-key childrearing styles that characterized their Boomer parents: heavy investment in the kids, and everything else takes a back seat -- including church.” As the church, are we making every effort to make family the priority? Many feel it seems, in most churches that we segregate the parents from the kids, the kids from each other, and the family unit from the church.

On the surface, it does seem this way. However, we must view both sides of the issue. The intent of the church is to provide the family with a ministry that will take each member deeper into God's word in such a way as is relevant to their age and interest. The trouble with keeping the family together in such an environment is that the interest levels and attention spans differ. With this in mind, perhaps the church should look at a different way to do midweek activities. In such a structure, Sunday would be the time to provide age appropriate learning. Midweek meetings would then be centered on providing family activities whose main theme is building family relationships.

With soccer games, PTA meetings, hectic work schedules and overall busy lives, Wednesday nights may be the only night families have to spend with each other. If so, wouldn't it be great to spend that night together in an environment that promotes that bonding time. Imagine the memories and experiences that could be made from these nights. What are your thoughts? Agree? Disagree?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I Believe

For as far back as I can remember I have loved to write music. Silly little songs that made absolutely no sense to anyone but me eventually developed into songs that had a purpose. I remember the week I was saved I penned a chorus that is still with me today. The chorus was simply "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me. I am the way, the truth and the life, and in heaven you can spend eternity." I was so excited to put the message that had radically changed my life into music that it was written before I could even get off Jekyll Island (this is the place the youth camp was held when I was saved).

Fast forward to 2005. I now have 2 children of my own and write from a different perspective. My songs are still very personal, but they are from varying life experiences now. God gave me a melody for a chorus (where else but in the shower) and I couldn't get it out of my head. Finally, the words came and I sang them to myself until I was sick of the song. Weeks later while driving to hospital visitations in Memphis, TN, I began thinking about different things God had taken me through over the past several years. As I reflected on each situation, the verses formed. I put the verses with the chorus from weeks earlier, scribbled out a quick bridge and "tada", the songs I Believe was born.

Hit the LiveTV button on your TIVO and we're in Highland, CA in 2007. Last Wednesday night I had the privilege of presenting the song I Believe to the Immanuel Choir. Tonight we'll work more of the parts and dynamics. I can't wait to get it ready and lead worship with it.

Be encouraged. Even in the midst of the storm in our lives we must understand one common truth...God is still in control. He uses these times in our lives to shape and mold us so that our impact for Him can be even greater. How powerful would your testimony be without that struggle in your life last year when you didn't know how you were going to pay that bill? How would you be able to offer council to that person who is losing their loved one to cancer if you hadn't suffered and cried through a similar loss? God tells us in Romans 8:18 that "the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us." What we are going through is just a speck in the broad scheme of eternity. Have faith, press on, and allow God to use every situation in your life for His glory!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

What Are You Afraid Of?

The Christian life certainly is somewhat of an adventure. Before Jody and I were married I told her "stick with me and I'll show you the world". My meaning behind that was that we will have a life of adventure and I will give you the best I have to offer. However, I had no idea God would actually show us the world by moving us so many times throughout our marriage. After 9 years of marriage we have lived in 11 different houses, in 5 different states, served in 5 different churches, and have had 3 kids. I'd say our ministry and marriage has been an adventure already! (And we have loved every minute of it.)

Though a life of such apparent chaos may seem uninviting to some, we have been on an absolute thrill-ride. Because God has chosen to use us in various churches, we have gleaned so much from our experiences, both good and not so good. In each situation I questioned why God was choosing to move us so frequently. Looking back it is clear to me that He had a plan for us in each location for a season. It was bigger than me and my desires. Instead, it was about Him and His will for our lives.

Each move has been filled with uncertainties, but no move has ever been filled with fear or doubt. We have known that God has had His hand on us, and each calling to a new place of ministry has been clear. What kills me is to see believers who are so fearful of what God might do with their lives that they never give Him full control. They would say that they want to be in God's will, but they never step out of their own comfort zone and into the realm of faith to truly see what God's will is. Now, I'm a firm believer that God hasn't called all of us to leave our families and move across the country. But, I do believe that the calling is the same. God wouldn't have any of us to receive half of a blessing. Yet so many people settle for that.

Our world would be radically changed for the glory of God if we would each act on the faith that we proclaim. Go ahead. Be radical. Dream big dreams! Ask God for the greatest adventure He can muster for you. Give Him the rest and the best of your life in humble obedience to Who He is. Only then will you see Him do things you never thought possible. It is at that point that you will understand what it means to be in the center of God's will. Act on your faith...what are you afraid of?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Looking Forward

I am so excited that tomorrow is Sunday. I can't wait to meet with each of our people at Immanuel in worship. It is the highlight of my week. As a worship pastor, I live from Sunday to Sunday. My preparation all week goes towards Sunday! As believers, we should live our lives from moment to moment....knowing that any one of them could be our last. As a result, each moment should be the most important one of our lives. How can I live each moment to its fullest for the glory of God? Well, I'll get back to you when I have that answer. Until then, I'll keep striving in each moment to be as much like Him as possible. I keep messing that one up, too......but praise God He knows my heart.

Friday, March 16, 2007

New Blog Design

Alright, alright...I knew I should have never said anything. Now, several of you have been asking about when the new blog layout is going to be ready. Well, I don't have that answer...yet. I have run into a snag with design, which has caused that time table to be pushed back a bit. It is a process that has been crazy, at best. I didn't imagine it would be this involved or take this long, but it has. So, thanks for your patience. Thanks, also, for continuing to check things out here. I will, Lord willing, have that new concept in place soon. Really. No, seriously. Well....I hope. It will be cool once it's ready. (I hope)

I Like Funny

Jody and I were blessed with a great babysitter tonight, so we actually got to go on a date. We had a blast. We went to a great restaurant called Claim Jumper, and had calamari for an appetizer, along with crab cakes and this crazy dish called Jamaican Sweet Potato. It was pretty awesome....there was the killing of an incredible tasting chicken involved. Then we went and saw the movie Wild Hogs. It was the funniest movie I've seen in a long time. I laughed all the way through it. I always worry that the funniest parts of a comedy are going to be what I saw on the preview, but that was not the case with this one. I really enjoyed the whole thing....very funny! We then went to a self-serve frozen yogurt place. You fix it yourself, choose toppings (as many as you want) from the topping bar, and then weigh your yogurt. You pay by the weight. It is really cool. From there we went to Blockbuster and rented a couple of movies. We stayed up until after 1am watching a movie and are now about to head to bed. But, as most committed bloggers, I had to take the opportunity to jump online and blog about our date. The coolest part of the night? Well, it would have to be the part where I had gift certificates for everything, including the movie rentals. The babysitter was also free...her gift to us. Yep...a free date night....always the best date night! Go see Wild Hogs, it's worth the price of admission.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

What's In A Word?

I read something today that has totally changed my perspective on the subject of getting new members involved in the life of the church. Check this out from Brian Bailey's The Blogging Church:

"I used to think of assimilation as a church growth tool. (We call it integration. Assimilation says, 'You will become like us.' Integration says, 'Adding you will change us.' Huge difference.)...If we don't take guests seriously and make it easy for them to plug in, then we aren't being faithful to God's blessings. So it stops now! We're taking it seriously because we want to be found faithful in every area of ministry!"

We have to get to that point in the church that we are "taking it seriously" and integrate people into the life of the church. I don't know about you, but anytime I become a part of something I want to know that I can have an impact. I want to know that they desire to have me be a part of them. We need to allow GOD to change the heart, we just need to love people into our family. Get those that God sends to us (and entrusts to us) plugged into the life of the church and you will see their lives change, as well as the life of your church.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Western Hospitality

Yesterday was a very interesting day. We had Caleb's last UPWARD Basketball Game (in which he was awarded defensive player of the game-which means he didn't score), then I led worship for a conference, then our choir and orchestra came over and hosted a pounding at our house. We got way too much stuff. What was cool was having so many people at our house. We must have seen over 100 people pass through during that 3 hour period. We love to have people over, and that was a great way to get to know people better. Thank you, to all of you who came by. We really appreciate your thoughtfulness and desire to make us feel welcome in Southern California. We love each of you and can't wait to see what God is going to do in the upcoming weeks, months, and years. We're definitely glad to be on the west coast.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Melinda Doolittle

Melinda Doolittle has been one of my favorites on Idol this year from the beginning. She came and sang backup for the christian group Anointed a couple of Christmases ago and was very fun to talk with and be around. Thanks for reminding me about that, Renee! I love to see people get what they deserve...especially when it's a positive thing! GO MELINDA!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


I've never really been the guy to have a bunch of different television shows that I watched. I usually had one or two that were "must sees", but other than that, I just didn't follow many things week to week....until TIVO. No more do I sit and complain that there is nothing on. At any given moment I can go to "recorded tv" and watch anything from throughout the week. I now follow a variety of things such as The Apprentice, The Amazing Race, 24, Prison Break, Heroes, American Idol, House, Lost, ER, Survivor, CSI, UFC....I don't have to miss any of it. And no more crazy plastic tapes to keep up with. (This sounds like some cheesy info-mercial.) I believe that TIVO is the greatest invention since the wheel.

Speaking of shows, American Idol just doesn't have the guys bringing it this year. It definitely looks as if it is going to be an all girl final 4, and Doolittle is gonna bring it home! Let me know what your thoughts are on American Idol. Who's your favorite...and why?

Monday, March 05, 2007

Working the Network-Works

In the business world, "you scratch my back, I scratch yours", is a very common trend. If you want something then you must have something to offer. The world of ministry is slightly different. We all have needs in our respective areas, however the team is much larger than the local office. Networking is so vital to your ministry. Now, I'm not referring to the building of a relationship so that you can borrow a spotlight from another church for your production at Christmas. No, it's much larger than that. If you never have a need for any physical product, networking can still be just as vital.

Those you build relationships with are your first line of resources. I can't tell you how many times I've picked up on what someone else is doing and made that my own. As a result of my relationship with that worship leader, I've asked questions, gotten answers, and then the people in my ministry enjoy the results. I've grown so much by learning from others. And not just what they're doing that works, but also what they may have done that bombed. Learning what not to do is just as important as what to do. As we mature in the ministry that God has called us to, whether that be the local church or ministering to those in the community God has placed us in, we learn that we are much stronger with a team around us...both at home, and abroad. Keep your relationships with others in common ministry positions alive, and you will be amazed at the results.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Exciting News

As I have stated before, this June the Immanuel Choir and Orchestra will be singing at the Southern Baptist Convention in San Antonio, TX. In addition to that, I received a phone call today asking me to lead a worship set at the convention. That is an incredible honor. I'm excited to have this opportunity to lead in worship. I know that there are a lot of better guys out there, but I'm excited to be one of the few to be invited for this year. It's going to be a great trip!