Monday, April 30, 2007

Universal Follow-Up

Universal was great on Friday. Caleb actually rode a "big" ride with me...Jurassic Park. It was awesome and ended with a huge waterfall. At the end Caleb was in shock and kept saying "oh my goodness....oh my goodness...." It was hilarious. He followed that up with "can we go again?" So, I think I've got a roller coaster rider on my hands. I will post some pictures later this week of our trip to Universal Hollywood.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Family Day at the Park

I love Fridays. Don't get me wrong. I have the best job in the world. To be able to do what you're passionate about is a dream come true. I love people, I love music, and I love God. What more could I ask for than to be a worship pastor? However, I am enthusiastically and passionately in love with my family. I absolutely crave spending time with them. Since Friday is my off day, I get to spend all of that time with them. Today, we are doing something we never do. We are taking Caleb out of school today (shhh, don't tell anybody) and are going to Universal Studios. It is one of their favorite places on earth, and since we just so happen to have season passes, we might as well get our money's worth. Not only is the park great, but check out this place (just click on that link). It is their absolute favorite thing to do.

One thing that drives me is the desire to be a great dad. I want my kids to look back on their childhood one day and know that their dad was ALL about them. Today should give me another star in my crown in the "best dad ever" category.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Our Offering

Have you ever had the thought "what offering is worthy of the Lord"? I sure have. In fact, when I've offered the Lord things, whether it be my finances, my time, my attention, my prayers, my confessions, my music...I've wondered if it was even worthy of being offered to Him. What do I have that is worth offering up to God? The first 7 chapters of Leviticus spell out specific ways to make offerings to the Lord in Old Testament times. But how can I make an offering that is heart felt and is an actual sacrifice?

During my short time at Immanuel (6 mo. at the time of this writing) I have had the privilege of serving on the interior design team for our new worship center. As we've talked and gotten together for several meetings one thing continues to plague my mind...THE COST! Now, before I go any further, I want you to understand where I'm coming from. I have no issue with what the project will cost, but instead with how long it is projected to take us to raise those funds. The reason for the long time frame? Many will make "offerings" out of their resources as opposed to making sacrifices. What does that mean? Let me put it another way.

If I am in the desert and I see a man who needs water, I have a couple of choices: A) I can share my water with him or B) I can pass him by. If I share my water with him it could mean that I would have to do without. I would be very thirsty and it would put a strain on my body, but without that sacrifice the man will surely die. This brings us back to my original question. What offering is worthy of God? The one that is given as a sacrifice.

Under the old covenant sacrifices were extremely important. We see an example of that in Leviticus, as we have already mentioned. However, under the new covenant God does not require the sacrifice of animals and such, instead he wants the praise and thankfulness of His people. Because we, as new testament believers, are all priests (1 Peter 2:5,9)we are to offer up "sacrifices of praise" from our lips, in our lives, as a lifestyle of worship.

Imagine if every believer in our churches took hold of this understanding and owned it. If we walked in a close relationship with Him as a common practice, then we would be accustomed to making sacrifices to Him on a daily basis. As a result we would see a culture that is influenced by the church. We would see true evidence of lives changed all around us. We would see buildings going up without a 10 year plan.

Now, look at your life. Do you fall short in any area? Most all of us do. (I know I do.) I want to live my life as a new testament priest...offering up daily sacrifices to the Lord. Not on Sunday and Wednesday, but every day. Can I live up to that? Not in and of myself. But by the infinite power of God in my life as I walk with Him daily, making sacrifices to Him will be a way of life.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Welcome Immanuel Choir and Orchestra

We are in the process of revamping my blog. That's right...even some of the things you see now will change soon. I love change. Not simply for the sake of change, but for progression. I am one that if I find something that works better than what I have, I will go for the change. Why keep doing what you're doing when something else will work much better and more efficiently? I approach my marriage, parenting, technology, and my ministry the same way. In ministry, if there is a better means of reaching the lost and encouraging the saved, then I'm all about it.

Along those same lines, I discovered blogging...and I love it. Blogging has enabled me to get to know more people below the surface. More importantly, it has allowed many people within my ministry to hear my heart, see the real me, and get a "behind the scenes" glimpse at my life. By letting down that guard and being real with your people, I have found you create a stronger bond and team approach to ministry. People will get behind someone they believe in. I believe in my people, and I want them to know the real me, not the facade.

Tonight, we will be unveiling (if you will) in choir rehearsal. Many of you reading now may be visiting the site for the first time. Welcome. I'm so glad you're here. Feel free to look around the site. Please check back often. You never know what you might find in here. To our Immanuel Choir and Orchestra: I love being your Minister of Worship. Nothing thrills me more than helping to prepare God's people for leading in worship and worshiping with them. Every choir rehearsal we make sure there is a point in which we turn our focus solely to Him and worship. We need that time. How can you prepare yourself to lead others in worship without truly worshiping. The chief end of God is to be glorified. In every situation, circumstance, problem, etc. He wants the glory. He created us for the purpose of worship, which is glorifying God through a relationship with Him. Sell out all that you are and all that you have to meet this "chief end" that He created you for.

My post won't usually be this long, but since we have so many new readers I wanted to give you a view of what this blog is all about. Feel free to leave comments by clicking on the comments tab following this blog. You will have the option of leaving a comment as anonymous or registering your name. If you don't register, please sign your name so that I can address you personally. Thanks again for reading and I hope to hear from you soon.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

West Coast Peaches

I began blogging last October and immediately got the blogging bug. I love it. So, I have been encouraging my wife, Jody, to start blogging. It gives you a personal ministry to people you might otherwise never had much contact with. She finally caved, and the result is West Coast Peaches. The name came from our home state, Georgia. Now that we're living in California...well, I'm sure you can figure it out. Save this address in your favorites or subscribe to it. It is worth the read, especially for you ladies. She will be featuring recipes sent in by her readers, personal news on the family, and cooking techniques. Knowing her she'll probably be letting you know where the best sales are, as well. So go check it out. She just put one of my favorite recipes on today. You've got to try it.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Admin Profs

Don't forget, this Wednesday is administrative professionals day. Make sure you honor yours. Today, we had a luncheon in honor of all of our support staff. The Worship Ministry was responsible for putting together the entertainment. We had a Rick James looking (and sounding) version of R.E.S.P.E.C.T., a humorous skit, and a knock-off of a popular t.v. game show called Are You Smarter Than Your Administrative Professional? It was a lot of fun. The theme was Hawaiian, so most wore their tropical shirts and we had an amazing meal. I'll let you know when we have some video footage available. I'll post it online so that we can all get a good laugh.

We are truly blessed here at Immanuel with a great team...all the way from our volunteers up through our Pastor's office. God has blessed this church. Thank you to each of our support staff. Sharon and Amy, we love you guys. You make the worship ministry what it is. We can never thank you enough. Thank you for wanting to serve your Savior and make Him, and His church, look good.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Post 100

It is official. This is my 100th post. It is kinda crazy. I never imagined I would have enough to say to get me to post 25, nor that people would care to read it. But, here we are. We had over 600 hits on the site last month, so hopefully we're impacting people in a positive way. So, I've decided to use POST #100 to let you in on some things we're going to be doing with the blog in the upcoming weeks.

Next week, we will begin promoting the blog among our people at Immanuel. Some are already aware of it, but others are not. So, we should start seeing an increase of traffic, as well as comments (so start leaving more comments people!) I'll do my best to respond. Also, let me know what you think about the new site. Tell me about some things you want to hear about. I'll address certain issues as well as give updates. I love this online family.

Keep logging on. We are going to be featuring comments that readers leave from time to time, as well as featuring people within the ministry. Below this article you will see a number and the word comments. To leave a comment, simply click on that link. You will have the option to make a comment as anonymous, or you can register a name and leave a comment. If you register a name you will be able to sign onto future blogs and post comments as that name. If you have questions, email me. Stay focused and keep striving to make an impact for the Kingdom.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Community of Believers

Tonight was a very interesting date night for me and my wife. We had someone from our choir, Cindy Smith, come over and hang out with our kids while we went out. We had an awesome dinner and then went to a movie. At the movies we had one of our college students from church taking up tickets. After getting in we went into the theater to get a seat. We spotted the seats we wanted (3/4 of the way up in the stadium seating and almost perfectly centered). As we turned on the aisle and started to sit down we looked up to find 2 more choir members...husband and wife. We talked and laughed about how strange it was to see each other outside of church...but then, suddenly, we spotted another couple from church coming up to where we were. Once they saw us they came over and sat with us, as well. How strange, I thought, that we all chose to come to the same movie, at the same time, on the same day.

After we left the movie we went to Barnes & Noble for some cheesecake, fraps, and a book Jody had ordered. We placed our order and then turned to sit down at a table when I noticed another choir member from Immanuel grading papers at a table. How awesome is that!?!

I don't know why, but it is sometimes strange to see other believers outside of church. It's almost like we all live there on campus, withdrawn from the outside world and have no life outside of Sunday morning and Wednesday night. And, I believe, that we approach ministry that way. We totally withdraw (in theory) from the world that we proclaim we are trying to lead to salvation. We expect those we're trying to reach to conform to the proper church member before they have the "proper" relationship. We believe that if we keep doing what we're doing eventually it will have a different effect (that's the definition of insanity, by the way). We must engage the society we live in, we must be the influencers, and we must be real. How do we balance it all? As a team. As a community of believers we must change the current community. We have to love the lost.

I just feel that we don't truly get it. At least not yet. If we really understood how important it is, we would stop at nothing to see our towns and cities won to Christ. It wouldn't matter what songs we sang on Sunday morning. What would matter is that the music was relevant. It wouldn't matter if the sermon went a little long. What would matter is that the Word was proclaimed and lives were changed. It wouldn't matter that someone wore shorts and a tank top. What would matter is that they came and sat under the teaching of God's word. We can't expect to clean up the outside when there is no change on the inside. As a community of believers we must stop being about our own preferences and start acting on our convictions. Christ is bigger than a video announcement that is too "professional". There's more to our Savior than an old english hymn or a contemporary worship song. It's not about us, it's about him. When we make up our minds that we are willing to stop at nothing to impact the Kingdom for all eternity, that is when we'll finally see souls saved, lives changed, and families restored. Until then, I guess our community of believers will just continue to remain on the church campuses.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

I told you so! I know it has been a long time coming, but the new layout is finally up. There are still several "tweaks" we are making to the site, but the new design is complete. I am currently setting up hosting and working links and things.

Okay, now about that name. I wanted to name the site something that relates to what I do and teach. After going through several "worship" related names (all of which were taken) I decided to go with something that I often say. When teaching on worship I will regularly make the point that "the chief end of man is to glorify God is every situation." No matter what we are facing, God wants to receive the glory. Therefore, our goal should be to glorify Him in all that we do.

Thus, was born. Check back often to see the added features that will be going up in the next few days. Thanks to Terry and Don for all your work. I love and appreciate both of you. You are awesome!

What's Our Responsibility?

As believers, we often get so caught up in our own issues that we forget about those around us. Our world becomes our focus, therefore, we have an inward focus and not an outward focus. When we place too high a value on our own problems or circumstances, it disables our ability to minister to others. In this struggle, our own problems or "giants" are bigger than everyone else's. When we are inward focused, how can we encourage or council others?

Last night's choir rehearsals was one of the sweetest times of worship that we have had since I've been here. I'm not making that analysis on my own. I refer to it as such because I've heard it from many of our people. We began the night asking for a show of hands for all of those who have had a terrible week. Several raised their hands, so I led in prayer for each of those. After we had finished rehearsing our music, I asked for praises and prayer requests. The requests were mind blowing. People mentioned spouses who were having surgery, children who were in prison, grandchildren who were healed, loved ones who were battling cancer, single moms who had lost a child and had 2 others in the hospital - one facing paralysis. In light of all of these, our mundane work issues, family arguments, and runny noses pale in comparison.

I don't mean to make light of everyday issues. All of us feel sorry for ourselves from time to time. But this cannot be what characterizes who we are. We must understand that we have a ministry to a world that is hurting. We are surrounded on a daily basis by droves of people who are facing life altering circumstances. Our ministry can't be inward focused. It must, instead, be focused on others. That was what Jesus was all about when He walked on this earth. Know that your ministry is valuable. Know that others need your encouragement. Give 100% to every opportunity you have to make a difference in some one's life. And finally, give God the glory for every bit of it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

2007 At Immanuel

Looking through my calendar for the year, there are several things that I can't wait to get to. Obviously, as I've blogged about several times already, our choir and orchestra are going to San Antonio in June to sing at the Southern Baptist Convention. Several things about that excite me. Right on the heels of SA is our 4th of July Patriotic Celebration. We had a creative team meeting concerning that yesterday, and I am so ready to start putting those things into action. The fall just looks incredibly busy, but that is when I thrive. I can't stand the lulling slow times in ministry. I need a lot of action to keep going. In the midst of a busy fall, we have TEAM IMPACT coming in October. Just after that we have our HUGE Harvest Festival on October 31st. It is the absolute best Harvest Festival I've ever seen. Last year we had approximately 15,000 people come through our campus for that. It was an amazing community outreach. And NOW, THE REST OF THE STORY. We are in the process of trying to book one of Christian Music's premier music groups. I can't give the name until it is actually official, but if this happens, it will be amazing.

Get ready Immanuel. We're going to impact our community in '07. We will be more intentional about reaching out, becoming more and more relevant, and winning Highland, Redlands, San Bernardino, and the surrounding area for the Kingdom!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Night At Saddleback

I had the awesome experience of being at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA last night for a worship leader & songwriting meeting. They invited area worship leaders and worship teams in for a discussion with songwriter and worship leader Paul Baloche. For those of you who are not familiar with his ministry, Paul Baloche has written such songs as Open the Eyes of My Heart, Arise, and Your Name, just to name a few. It turned out to be a sweet time of worship.

I also got to talk with Rick Muchow, the worship leader at Saddleback. He was just a really cool guy. I totally respect his ministry and what God is using him to do there. I'm looking forward to getting to know him better through similar ministry opportunities and conferences. God has given me great "open doors" to network with guys in my short time in Southern California.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


Two good friends of mine, JR Lee and Todd Lollis, have answered God's call to plant a church in Acworth, GA. I love these guys and know that God is going to use them to accomplish some incredible things for His glory. They are stepping out on faith, looking to Him to supply their salaries, homes, meeting place for the church, and a people to reach and pastor.

Be in prayer for Crosspointe - my former church, and the church that JR and Todd are leaving to follow God's will for their ministries. Pray that God will supply them with a Pastor and staff, and that He will continue to bless them in the meantime. Be in prayer for FREEDOM CHURCH, for their staff, and for the city of Acworth, GA. Pray for God to do an incredible work, the likes of which only He can accomplish. Pray for JR and Todd. Pray that they dream big, that they be equipped with the resources that match their passion, and that their families transition well. Check out their blogs, JR Lee and Todd Lollis. Also, check out the church website,

JR and Todd: I love you guys, and I love your families. Having served on staff with each of you, I can truly say that I love your passion and vision. As you take Acworth for the Kingdom, I will be cheering you on. Go get 'em!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Mistake Made

Okay, Okay. I made a big deal over the 15 passenger jet that we are taking to San Antonio in a previous post. However, I was mistaken. It turns out that the jet is a 50 passenger jet, not 15. I misunderstood the person when they told me 50....I heard 15. So, there you have it; I'm an idiot. However, I'm still pumped about the trip. It is going to be awesome.

I'm taking Abby to breakfast this morning. She wants to go to a little hole in the wall place called Kay's Cafe to get some hot chocolate with whipped cream on top.

Hot Chocolate with Whipped Cream - $3.00
Eggs floating in grease and old bacon pieces - $6.50
A Friday morning date with my daughter - Priceless (but once you add drinks and a meal for her, and the gas to get down there...about $15 total, for those who are counting)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

SBC in June

Jody and I are flying into San Antonio, TX on Sunday night, June 10th, for the Southern Baptist Convention. For those who don't know, I am leading worship with our choir and orchestra on Wednesday of the convention. But, Jody and I are trying something new. I set it up without asking her....potential mistake. We are flying Express Jet. It is a new subsidiary of Continental...I think. Anyway, it is a small 15 passenger jet. The cool thing about it is that it goes straight to San Antonio, so there are no layovers and the flight is quick. The next cool thing is that it is a 15 passenger jet! I'm excited about it, but Jody has her reservations. She is nervous about flying on a small plane. "Those are what you hear about going down all the time!" I don't know about that, but I do know that we are flying on a 15 passenger jet! How cool is that?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Coach Bumgardner

Caleb and Abby are registered to play soccer this year. The season begins at the end of May and goes through July. I'm sure you are thinking what I'm thinking...."isn't that the hottest time of the year?" Well, yes it is. But, not only are Caleb and Abby signed up for soccer, I am going to be coaching Abby's team. I wanted to coach both teams, but the need for a coach was greater in Abby's age group. I'm excited to make an impact in the lives of these kids, though I know it will be frustrating at times to teach 5 year old girls to play. It will all be worth it and the memories we take away from this season will be incomparable. Just another opportunity to be a great dad and build a legacy for my kids. By the grace of God, we'll do just that through a simple sport with a ball and a goal.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Repelling at Red Rock

This is a picture of me about to go over the edge. This was actually the scariest moment...trusting the rope as you lean back parallel with the ground below. Unfortunately, there were no cool shots of that, but trust me, it was awesome.

In this shot, I am a little closer to the ground, and about head high with the edge of the cliff. Soon after this, I started doing flips and spinning in a really cool way. Everyone was impressed. (Okay, I really continued gripping the rope in fear for my life. But, I looked good doing it.) It was a great day and it is something I would definitely do again. I loved it!

Overall, we had an incredible trip. Seeing many of the people of Las Vegas, my eyes were truly opened to where I could be were it not for the grace of God on my life. I could be where they are. Praise the Lord He has saved me from what I could have been! Our High School choir homecoming concert is this Sunday night. It will be a great night, and I know that you guys will do a great always do! I look forward to worshiping with you on Sunday and reporting back to the church about what God did in your lives on Student Choir Tour '07.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

I hope that you and your family are having a great Easter. My morning was very busy with 3 worship services, but all went well. We spent the afternoon at some friends' home with many other friends and had a great time watching the Masters Golf Tournament, and I was happy that Zach Johnson ended up winning. My boy, Phil, didn't win it this year...or even come close due to a horrible final round. But, maybe he'll sweep the remaining 3 majors. It was kind of sad not being in Augusta for the week of the Masters, but it's nothing new to me. Hopefully we'll be able to get home soon to see everyone. Have a great rest of the day with your family, and I'll post some of those repelling pics I told you about later this week.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Update: Vegas

Our recent choir tour to Vegas went very well. We saw a big impact within our own team, and one of our students actually said that this trip was the biggest spiritual thing that had ever happened in his life. This is why we do what we do. A lot of emphasis is put on leading people to Christ, as it should be, but we don't realize how much of an impact these ministry opportunities have on our own people. I had the opportunity to council and share Christ with one of the students while on the trip, as well as encouraging, comforting, and challenging several others. And that was just the things I saw first hand.

And, by the way, if you are headed to Vegas, you've got to see The Blue Man Group. They were phenomenal. It was a high energy show that left me pumped up and wanting more. I also got my first repelling experience on this trip at Red Rock, outside of Las Vegas. We repelled off a 100 foot cliff. It was insane, but awesome. When I get the pictures, I'll be sure to post them for you to see.

Monday, April 02, 2007

What Happens in Vegas...

The Easter Musical went great. I will get some of the results to you later this week when I receive them. Today, I leave for Las Vegas. Our High School choir left on Friday for Vegas on their Spring Tour. I will be joining them later today. I'm excited to build relationships with these students and to see God do a work in their lives during this trip, and in the coming weeks ahead. So, I'll be out of pocket the next couple of days, as far as posting goes. That is unless I can find a computer at the hotel and manage to find the time to post. If not, then I'll see you back here in a couple of days.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Off to a Great Start

Last night's Easter outreach production was awesome! Musically, things were on. Drama Team - you guys knocked it out of the park. Media - you do it right every time! I am so blown away by the team that God has assembled here. We have been outrageously blessed. I don't have the numbers yet, but I do know that souls were saved, hearts and lives were rededicated to God, some have asked about joining the church, and others have asked about joining the worship ministry. God is using each of you to draw people to Himself. Thank you for your ministry. Through the power of God, we are impacting all of eternity for His glory. I can't wait to see what He has in store for us tonight.