Friday, June 29, 2007

Crazy List

Here is a list of things that are on my mind right now:

1) My in-laws have been here for 3 weeks! It has been good, and I hate to see them leave tomorrow.
2) I have driven to LA 3 times this week.
3) I saw a guy dressed like Jack Sparrow in a coffee shop in Hollywood yesterday. He hissed at me.
4) My 5 year old, Abby, is starting school this August. (Not my little girl!)
5) Mark Batterson is the man. I am learning and being challenged so much by my 3rd reading of THIS BOOK.
6) In addition to my 3 trips to LA this week, I was in San Diego last Friday, Palm Springs Monday-Wednesday of last week, and in San Antonio the week before that. I am a traveling fool lately.
7) My kids are playing "restaurant" with their Grandpa downstairs. It is too cute, and hilarious, and is affording me the time to blog. Gotta love Grandpa.
8) I can't wait for the next UFC FIGHT 7-7-07.
9) I am sitting in the ALL-You-Can-Eat Right Field Pavilion for tonight's Dodgers Game. I have set the goal of eating 7 Dodger Dogs tonight. (Wow. My stomach hurts already.)
10) Not only was Jack Sparrow in Hollywood yesterday, but a guy painted silver was standing on a milk crate at Hollywood and Highland. He was a mime and was incredible to watch. He had made a hat-full of money in approx. 10 minutes. (If only I could keep my mouth shut, I'd be rich.)

Sorry Todd

A very good friend of mine, TODD LOLLIS, is a die-hard LA Dodgers Fan. The funny thing is that he has never been to LA. However, he will be cheering just as loud as the fans in Dodger Stadium when they win, and mourning every loss as if he were on the team's roster. Todd, as I've told you before, get yourself out here and lets go to a game. Because you are in Georgia, I know you won't make it by tonight's game against the I'll be cheering for you. That's right. I will be at the game tonight. My father-in-law is leaving town tomorrow morning and has asked if we could go to a game. It is one of the things he has always wanted to do and now has the chance. So, we're trying to squeeze it in before he leaves. Sorry Todd. I'll call you from the game!

Todd and another close friend of mine, JR LEE, are following God's call to Acworth, GA to plant FREEDOM CHURCH. Please pray for them as God continues to work out the details, provides the finances, and blesses them with all of the people He will be bringing their way. Get ready Acworth - Freedom is Coming!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Getting Ready For the 4th

Our annual Patriotic Celebration is coming up this Sunday at 5:30PM. Because of our prep time for San Antonio, we've had a very limited amount of time to prepare for it. I am confident, however, that it will go well and that God will be glorified. Our staff has been working hard to make sure things are in place, and I am proud of each and everyone of them. Make plans to be there this Sunday evening as we celebrate our military and thank and praise God for His protective hand on our country. Immanuel, bring everyone you can to church this Sunday. Our Pastor is continuing his series on Extreme Home Makeover: Building a Godly Marriage. Everyone needs to apply these biblical principles to their relationships. See 'ya there!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Catching Up

I was able to catch up with an "old friend" today. What an honor it was to renew our friendship and reminisce about old times. Adam Greenway and I served together on staff in Texas a few years back. He is now teaching at Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY. He is one of the sharpest young minds of our generation and I'm thrilled to hear that he is sharing some of that knowledge and wisdom with other pastors and church leaders.

Talking with him made me think about the name of this blog. I explained it in brief detail back in April when we redesigned the site layout, but feel that it would be good to explain it in greater detail. It always helps to hear the reasoning behind something. Although, it was no surprise that I didn't have to explain it to Adam. he knew exactly where I was coming from (as an apologetics guru).

The name came from my study of the Westminster Confessions. Within the confession two scriptures are used as a basis for our purpose as worshipers. Rom 11:36 says "for from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever." 1 Corinthians 10:31 says "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." It goes on to say:

We have read two scriptures, which speak to the ultimate and chief end of man, which is the glorifying of God by all our actions and words and thoughts. In which we have these things of importance: 1. That God’s glory is the end of our being. 2. That God’s glory should be the end of our doing. And, 3. The ground of both these; because both being and doing are from him, therefore they ought to be both for him. He is the first cause of both, and therefore he ought to be the last end of both. ‘Of him, and through him, are all things;’ and therefore all things are also for him, and therefore all things should be done unto him.

In all that we do. In all that we think. In all that we are. Our purpose in creation is to glorify God. To bring God glory is why we were created. It comes out of our relationship with Him. When we sin, when we are lazy, when we get so busy with our plans that we cease to be about His plan we are actually doing something we were not created for. When a tree no longer bears fruit it is useless, for it was created to bear fruit. When a car no longer works properly it is useless, for it was created to get us from one place to the other. When a man is not worshiping and bringing glory to God he ceases to do what he was created to do. Understand your purpose. Understand why God chose to create you. Grasp your reason for living and bring glory to God in every situation. Only then will you achieve the chief end of God's plan for your life.

Stay Focused!

Leading in Worship

I received an encouraging email this morning about our worship services over the past few months. The writer of this email said that they had noticed a change in the choir and that they seem to be "expressing worship" as they lead." They went on to say that they are often so drawn in to the worship experience that they are still consumed with a flood of thoughts and emotions when our Pastor comes up to preach. That is the whole point! When we are in the Lord's presence we can't stay the same. We are left reeling with emotion and overcome with a sense of awe. Just as Isaiah said "woe is me" when He was in the presence of the Lord, we too will see ourselves for who we really are when we see Him for Who He really is.

The email went on to say that the one critique they have of me is that I dress too conservative. However, their idea of the way I should dress was to "come out one day in red blazer and shock the congregation". That ain't happening. First of all, I don't do blazers. Secondly, even if I did, it wouldn't be red.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Taking a Day Off

I took Monday off just to hang out with my family. Jody's parents are in town until the end of this week, so I wanted to make sure we had some time where all of us were together. So, Monday it was. We started off at the LA Farmers Market. It was pretty amazing. It was unlike anything I had imagined. We ate at what seemed to be a food court of sorts, and then checked out a few of the vendors. Jody's parents then left for a museum while we hung out at The Grove. The Grove is a pretty cool open air mall at the Farmers Market. For you SOCAL natives, this may not seem like much a day off. But, for a guy who grew up in east Georgia, this was something out of the norm.

After The Grove we headed out to the Santa Monica Pier. And yes, I rode the West Coast Coaster. It was incredible to be up on that track out above the pier and to look down on the water and beach. I loved it! Caleb rode it with me and had a blast. He is definitely a coaster boy. Abby wasn't quite tall enough but was begging to ride. So, I have hope for her, too.

After the pier, we rode out to Malibu. I have never seen so many unbelievable homes in one place. Definitely a must see. We were flying by the seat of our pants on this trip...not knowing what to check out or where anything was. But, we ended up on a private beach called Paradise Beach. It was a very small area, but very nice. It is in a cove, so it sits up against the cliffs, right at the water. We ate outside at the restaurant, battling the seagulls for our food. Then, we walked down to the water. Caleb, Abby and I took our shoes off and jumped waves. It was a great "memory building" time. The kids crashed on the way home (asleep, that is), and the day came to an end.

Wow! What a day. As believers, we are called to a great work that we must give our all with the utmost passion and zeal. At the same time, God would have us to take days like this one and build memories with those closest to us. When my life is over and God calls me home, I want to leave a legacy that outlasts me. I speak of that in a spiritual sense often. However, I want my kids to think of me as a dad who loved them enough to take time out for them. A dad that invested in and had an interest in their lives. A dad that made an effort to build memories.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Prepare for the Storms with a Smile

Now, I am not one to over-spiritualize things - I instead look at things with a spiritual eye. What I mean by that is I feel that I view things on the horizon of reality with God's word in mind. With that said, I believe with everything in me that when God is at work, the Enemy is always working just as hard to disrupt and destroy. In other words, when you're on the mountain prepare yourself, for the next valley is just ahead.

It is often said that you're either in a storm, just coming out of one, or about to go into one. God has been doing an incredible work at Immanuel and we've been riding on the mountain top for a while. We've experienced growth, both numerically and spiritually, and our church unity seems to be at an all time high. In the midst of these blessings I am now seeing some storm clouds that have quickly approached. Several of our members have been hit with various illnesses, many of which are extremely serious. Out of the blue? Well, to us perhaps. But, nothing has caught our God off guard. He is still on the throne!

Wherever you are He is sufficient. If you are on the mountain top - watch for the storm clouds. If you are in the valley, understand that joy comes in the morning.

Count it pure joy!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Quality Time

We had a good time at the San Diego Zoo today. The weather was nice, the animals all came out to put on a show, and the kids did pretty good. All in all it was a great day. My favorite animal is the lion, and I got my picture taken with him...with a huge fence between the two of us. Afterwards, we rode to downtown San Diego where we found a mall. It was a great mall. We ate downtown at Yardbirds and have just gotten home (11:15pm). This is one of those days that we'll remember for years to come. I love those kind of days. Creating memories!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Regular Readers

It is amazing to any blogger that anyone at all is reading his/her blog. However, it is especially amazing to me to see how many different areas around the world are reading The Chief End dot Com! We have regular readers in Virginia, New York City, Miami, Florida, Los Angeles (and the surrounding Southern Cali area), Atlanta, GA, Augusta, GA (thanks Mom), Memphis, TN, Plano, TX, and Sicily. Isn't that crazy?? Thank you so much for reading. What an awesome honor it is. I'll be putting up some pretty interesting finds over the next few weeks.

Upcoming Blogs of Note

I've been talking with several friends of mine in the ministry and have come to the realization that many worship pastors, staff members, and the like have many of the same questions. One thing that seems to help more than anything else is hearing about and seeing what other guys are doing. Whether or not it is anything spectacular, it helps to know what is working for other guys, what doesn't work so well, and what others have figured out that we can learn from. So, I am going to be posting some creative team ideas that we are implementing at Immanuel, some things that seem to really be working, and some things that haven't worked so well. I'd love to hear from some of you with specific questions concerning what you'd like to hear about. Email any ideas or questions to me at . I'll address them as I get them. I'm looking forward to hearing from you. Check back often.

Last Day of School

Caleb's last day of school was today. It's amazing that they even make them go to school the last week. All they've done all week is board game day, water games day, play outside on the playground day...Let's just declare these days a waste of time days and let them stay home. Tomorrow we are planning on going to the San Diego Zoo. It will be a first for our family. Jody's parents are here visiting so I'm hoping to somehow devise a plan for them to push the stroller the majority of the day. (Maybe I should start limping around the house first thing in the morning.) Anyway, it should be a great day.

Be in prayer for Lisa Lyons. She is awaiting some test results that should be coming in on Monday concerning cancer. Her husband Lee was in the ER tonight with a kidney stone. When it rains it pours. Please lift this family up in your prayers. Lisa & Lee - Immanuel would not be the same without you. We love you guys!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Just Got back In

Staff retreat was a great success. Palm Springs was hot, but we spent the majority of our time in an air conditioned conference room, so I have nothing to complain about. The temps reached 112 degrees, but I felt nothing in our meetings. In our meetings, we identified problems within the church, planned strategic methods to fix the problems, and planned together to set ministry specific goals to take our people to the next level. One thing I really learned about our staff is that these people love Jesus, and they love our people. We are determined to be more intentional about ATTRACTing people to Immanuel, CONNECTing them to the church, GROWing them in the faith, and providing ministries through which they can SERVE. I'm really looking forward, with great anticipation, to the next several months and years as we reach this community for Christ.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Staff Retreat

I'm looking forward to our staff retreat this week. We will be in Palm Springs - I know - the desert in June...what are we thinking? I am excited for several reasons:

1) I love our church and am passionate about seeing people grow
2) I love planning and creating
3) I am excited to hear about what is going on in other ministries
4) I love spending time with our Pastor and Staff
5) I can't wait to be inspired by great ideas and then put them into action

I love equipping myself to be better at what I do. Although I am a Worship Pastor, my passion goes beyond just the music. I want to help set a standard of excellence in everything that we do as a church. Excellence is more than a word. It is a mindset. You have to be intentional if you are going to accomplish the goals you have set and attain the vision God has given you. Stay focused!

Still On a High

I'm still reeling from the experience we had in San Antonio. I had an awesome time hanging out with our people and getting to know them outside of "church". I also enjoyed my time with Scott White. Scott, thank you for the opportunity to lead worship and the wisdom you poured into me. I'm forever grateful. On that note, I want to encourage you that every opportunity you have to gain wisdom from someone...take it. I'm so thankful that we have men of God who are more experienced in my area of ministry who want to make an eternal investment in me. Kim Noblitt and Scott White are two of my favorite people on the planet, just for that reason. Thanks Guys!

Another great opportunity was meeting and hanging out with Travis Cottrell. He is bar none my favorite worship leader on the planet. Why? If you are ever led in worship by him you will not have to ask that question. Genuine. Intentional. Talented. I can't say enough about the man. And, you've got to hear his new Christmas praise and worship CD. It is off the charts. Stay focused!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Back From San Antonio

WOW! What an incredible ride the last few days have been. I have seen God working in and through our worship ministry for months now, and He continued His work at the SBC this week. I am so proud of our orchestra and choir. I watched as they arrived at the hotel, worked hard through rehearsals and soundchecks, got up early in the morning, was bused around the city, as they sat in the same chairs for hours, as they ate lunch, as they prepared for another rehearsal, as they rehearsed some more, as they sat in those same chairs for another night...and you know what? I never heard one single solitary complaint from our people. Your attitudes were the proper attitudes needed for worship leaders. You inspired me and I couldn't be more proud of you.

If you would like to watch the services you can sign on to THIS SITE and watch. I must warn you though, some of them look as though they were recorded under water. However, the original DVD looks and sounds great.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane

Jody and I are taking off today for the great city of San Antonio. This will be our first time flying XPress Jet, so we'll see how good this new airline is. The cool thing is that the flight is a straight shot and is only supposed to take about 2 1/2 hours. I will probably be on a temporary leave from the blogging world for a few days while we are there. However, if you want to watch the convention live, go HERE. At this site, you'll have to look around for the link to watch the convention live. The Immanuel Choir will be singing at various times throughout Wednesday morning, as well as with the combined choirs on Wednesday night. We will be singing for approximately 15 minutes at 8am (Central Time) Wednesday morning, again for 5 minutes at 10AM, and then again just before the Pastor preaches at 11:20. I'll give you low down on all the happenings when I get back!

Saturday, June 09, 2007


I just had to post to tell everyone about my boy. A couple of weeks ago, Caleb was chosen as Student of the Week at school. They sent home a poster that he had to fill out. The poster included pictures of himself and family and personal information such as his favorite color, his favorite movie, and his favorite place to go (Universal Studios-Hollywood). Yesterday, we received a note from his school informing us that Caleb had been chosen as student of the month.

Apparently it's a big deal. They are having an awards program to honor him and a few other awards recipients. We were invited to come to the awards ceremony at the school, but unfortunately it is on Tuesday, when we're in San Antonio. However, I'm glad that my in-laws will be here to attend the ceremony. Because our family is all in Georgia, they rarely get to see events that the kids participate in. This will be good for them, and Caleb.

There you have it. I am the father of the Student of the Month. What more could a dad hope for?

San Antonio or Bust

Well, tomorrow is the big day. Jody and I are flying out for San Antonio, TX tomorrow afternoon, and I can't wait for the rest of the choir and orchestra to get there. I am meeting with Scott White on Monday to make sure everything is set up properly and all that we need is in place. Scott White is the Minister of Music at the great FBC Woodstock in Woodstock, GA, and is serving as the Music Director for the Southern Baptist Convention this year. Scott and I have been friends for about 5 years, and I've loved getting to know him better. I'm looking forward to getting to hang out with him a little, though I know he'll be extremely busy. Travis Cottrell will be leading worship on Wednesday night, and The Immanuel Choir will get to lead with him. That is too cool.

To all who are going on the trip: Have a safe flight (or drive) and I can't wait to see you in TX. It is going to be a blast. A lot of work, tiring days, and long hours - but there is always excitement when our hearts are right and we're working for the Kingdom. See 'ya in San Antonio!

Friday, June 08, 2007

The First Kid

Caleb went to the LA Zoo yesterday with his 1st grade class. He was so excited that it took no extra effort to get him out of bed. His eyes popped open, he jumped right up, and he was dressed and ready in no time. He had his sack lunch and was off to the zoo. When Jody picked him up from school he told her that he had gotten lost at the zoo. He said that he was looking in one of those pay-telescopes with a friend of his, and after his friend finished looking it was his turn. He looked for a few seconds and then looked up and everyone was gone. An elderly couple found him and took him to a nearby office. He had his teacher's number on a sticker on his shirt so they quickly called her. When we asked him what she said, he told us that she said "Caleb, you're the first kid we've ever lost".

That's my boy. The very first kid. We're so proud.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

Our Pastor is beginning a new series on the biblical foundation of marriage, beginning Sunday, June 17th. The series is called Extreme Makeover: Home Edition - Building Your Marriage with God's Blueprints. Make sure you are in place for this. He will be sharing with us what God's word says about a husband and wife's relationship with each other and with God, as well as principles for how to date in preparation for a Godly marriage. Immanuel, make sure that you invite family, friends, co-workers and neighbors to be in place beginning Father's Day - June 17th, for this series on Marriage and Family. This is a tool for you to share with someone who really needs this message - and we all need to know Godly principles to apply to our marriages. Be there, and bring as many as you can with you. Also, send everyone you can to The Chief End dot Com to check out the promotional blurb below that Byron Mathe put together for us.

Water, Ceilings, and Bathrooms, Oh My

We just discovered a leak in our downstairs ceiling. It is around a recessed light, but I didn't know lights had water in them.?. Obviously, we've got a leak. The most obvious place is a pipe - I guess - in the bathroom directly overhead. Our warranty company is supposed to be getting someone out to look at it. We're hoping that will take place sometime before Christmas (sarcasm-intentional). Gerry Ramos, my buddy in the tenor section, is really trying to help us our there. Thanks, Gerry, for all you've done, are doing, and continue to do for my family. You're awesome!

I'm headed over to Chick-fil-a for lunch in a few minutes. I'm meeting one of my choir members, Kevin Soto. One of my favorite things to do is hanging out with our people. I love hearing about their life, what God's doing and has done, and learning about their families. As a church leader, there are so many things our people can teach us if we'll listen. Listening and learning about their lives gives you an inside track to ministering to them, and others. Today will be a great time and then on to San Antonio on Sunday.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Check this Out

I am scheduled to go to a conference in October in Atlanta, GA. I'm really pumped about the conference and what I think God is going to equip me with as a result of being there. One of my favorite authors on the planet, Mark Batterson, is going to be there, as well as some other incredible guys like John Maxwell and Craig Groeschel. Check out the conference website here. It may take a little while for it to load, but it is one of the coolest interactive sites I've ever seen.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

That Little Treat I Promised 'Ya

Okay, okay. I've heard the outcry and am hear to answer your request. Below you will find the video link to watch The Immanuel Choir singing Mountain Mover. Enjoy!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Sunday's Report

I'm sorry I am Monday night getting a report out on Sunday's worship services. I've been in meetings most of the day and preparing for San Antonio. Things are going well and I am sure that the trip is going to be a great one. However, on to Sunday -
We had an incredible time of worship yesterday. Any time you are in the presence of God things happen, but yesterday was unique. We brought the entire choir in for our worship services, and the difference was explosive. For those of you who may not be aware, our entire choir does not sing in each of the worship services on Sunday morning. Instead, we have about 50% who sing in both services, and the rest sing in one or the other. For one reason, we don't have the choir loft space for comfort for the entire choir. Secondly, it affords the choir members the opportunity to plug into Bible Study classes during one of the service times, which is important for a worship leader.

However, having the entire choir there together made an obvious difference. As soon as they took the platform they brought with them an electric atmosphere. I often say that the congregation is a mirror image of the choir; and it's true. They modeled what their worship leaders were exemplifying and true worship took place. It was amazing to hear from people throughout the day yesterday and even this morning. I have received numerous emails and phone calls about how God showed up and spoke to people's hearts. And as I told people in response to those statements -God doesn't show up just to say "what's up?". When God speaks He means business. Sell out fully to Him. You can't give Him a portion of anything. He deserves it all.

Continue to give your all for the cause of Christ and watch in amazement at how He will choose to use you. Check back tomorrow for the treat I promised you. Lord willing, I'll have it posted before the end of the day.

New Sermon Series

I know many of you are waiting for a report on Sunday's worship service, but I'm going to make you wait just a little longer. I'll post another blog a little later today with comments and possibly a little treat for you (hmmmm, what could that be?). But, I'm really excited about something else that I wanted to share with you. Our Pastor will be kicking off a new sermon series on June 17th, Father's Day Sunday morning. You will not want to miss this. It will be a series on Marriage and the Family. The first 3 weeks are out of this world.

Use this as a ministry tool, Immanuel. Invite your family, neighbors, co-workers, etc. Everyone is looking for an answer to every day issues. "How do I successfully raise my kids?" "How do I deal with an ungodly spouse?" "How do I cope with life in general and lead my family?" Our Pastor has some great tools to equip them with. You have the hope. You have the answer. Share that with all of those around you, and be in place on June 17th for the kick-off to this series. I'll try to get the promotional video up and running and link it here for you to see and use as another tool soon.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Tomorrow is Sunday!

I am really excited about church tomorrow. Okay...I'm always excited about church, but tomorrow is really going to be awesome. I can't wait to meet together with each of my brothers and sisters at Immanuel to worship. I love it when we sing together, pray together, and study God's word together. It truly is a family experience. But, the Immanuel Choir is doing a great song called Mountain Mover, and this choir and orchestra knock it out of the park. Anne's solo is incredible too; but when is she not? Some friends of ours are coming out from Tennessee and will be in the services tomorrow, as well. The choir is growing tremendously and will be in full force, so, it will be an exciting day.

If you are in Southern California, make plans to be at Immanuel tomorrow morning. It is going to be awesome!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Some Tools

As I stated in my previous post, we have to be willing to exegete our culture. In other words, we need to break it down and understand who it is we're trying to reach, discover what it will take to reach them, and be intentional about influencing the culture instead of remaining irrelevant within the walls of the church. Our friends at Outreach Magazine did a study in reference to the rising disinterest of 20 somethings concerning the church. Take a look at the above link.

I'm not saying we have to hit our college campuses tomorrow and conduct interviews. However, we need a better understanding of the world that we are trying to reach in order to see a difference. Let's be more intentional about winning people to Jesus. Afterall, we do have THE CURE to the cancer that is plaguing the world in which we live.


How do we reach the lost? This question is something that has been at the forefront of the church for centuries. But, have we lost our passion to see people saved?
Recent reports show that out of approximately 45,000 southern baptist churches, only 364,000 people were reported to have been baptized last year. That would mean that collectively, each church only baptized 8 people the whole year. Even sadder than that is the fact that a large portion of our churches baptized 0. O? How do you baptize nobody for a whole year?

I think the answer to that last question lies in the fact that many of our churches have become culturally irrelevant to the people they are supposed to be reaching. I intentionally did not say "trying to reach" because that would not be true. If a church has become irrelevant to the community they have been placed in, it is because they do not care about reaching that community. If they did care, they would not be in the predicament of baptizing 0.

So, what can we do about it. Well, I believe it begins by exegeting the culture. We can not afford any longer to label generations and leave it at that. If we feel that our senior adults only want things their way and are unwilling to change, we have to meet them where they are and bring them to a realization of where they need to be. It is our job as leaders in the churches God has entrusted to us. But, we must have facts to back up our view. We can not serve solutions to a church based upon unfounded presuppositions. We must exegete our churches, and more importantly, our culture. Where we find people is not where we should choose to leave them. We must be intentional about reaching the lost where they are. This means that we have to find out how to reach them.

I'll come back soon and offer you some creative ideas that I've discovered may help us bridge the gap between our society and the church.