Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve

Obviously, I don't know what you and your family have planned for tonight's New Year celebration. However, I hope that you are planning on spending some of your time in prayer. I know that my family will pray together as we prepare to meet 2008. Some things that I think on are "what does this new year have in store for our family? What challenges will we face? What struggles will we meet? What incredible opportunities will we see? How will our ministry change and grow?" I could continue to post questions 'til Jesus comes again, but the fact remains that it doesn't matter. What matters is that when we meet each situation, we are not meeting it on our own. I want to please Jesus in every situation. But, in order to do that, I will have to be intentional about it.

I hope that you have a great new year. I hope that you are safe. And my prayer for you and your family is to go boldly into this new year with the understanding that you can't accomplish things unless you've dreamed dreams. Dream God-sized dreams if you want God-sized results and allow Him to make them into reality.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Flight Plans

Well, we thought that our flight here was the last time we'd have to do a late night flight with the kids...oh, how mistaken we were. We just received word that due to all of the heavy travel, our flight has been delayed and is rescheduled for 10pm tomorrow night. That means that we won't get in to Las Vegas until 11pm at night/Pacific. Which means, now that we're on eastern time, it will feel like 2am to us. Then, a 3 1/2 hour drive. I believe we're gonna have to find a hotel in Vegas. So, another late night travel flight is on the horizon.

Tonight, we're planning on going on a hayride. There is a place called "Lights of the South" that is near my parents' home. You ride the hayride and look at all of the light displays. The kids are excited about it. But, until then, we've got a lot of playing to do. Family first!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Trip Continues

We traveled Christmas afternoon to my parents' home...about 2 1/2 hours from Jody's parents'. After dinner we opened gifts and had a great time together with my brother and his family, along with my parents. I really got some great things this year. I received an ipod nano, a little cash, some cool clothes, an ipod speaker system, and a Megellan Maestro 3100 gps navigational system. Pretty good, huh? The kids made out like bandits, and I am in good with the wife. Great Christmas!

We've really had a great time with each of our families. That's what makes Christmas to us. We enjoy celebrating the birthday of the King together as a family. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Georgia Pond

My in laws have a pond back in the woods on their property. Recently, they drained it and are letting it fill back up before restocking it. The recent rains have left a good-size puddle on one end, but the rest is just a pit of dried mud. I let the kids walk down into the pond to walk on the mud today. They loved it and were running and jumping and just being kids. However, soon their just being kids had them swimming in that good-size puddle. I heard some splashing and looked down to see them backstroking through the water. Yes, it's cold here. They were freezing. But, they had the time of their lives. I've just got to get their clothes and shoes washed and dried before their mother gets home. Shhhhhh!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Another Good Day

We got up and left my parents' house today to head to Jody's family's. We met and ate at a traditional Chinese restaurant in Jody's hometown. I say traditional because we meet for lunch there at least once EVERY trip home. It's a tradition...especially at Christmas. After that, Caleb and I spent some time at Walmart playing Guitar Hero on XBOX 360 on the game aisle. He won.

Ella has had a great day today. She and I have gotten to spend a lot of quality time together, and I've loved it. She is going to be a daddy's girl if it kills me. I'm really looking forward to all of the family time on this trip. I love my family. I hope that each of you are having a great Christmas season. Be intentional about making memories that will last a lifetime. Don't let reading people's blogs (ha!), surfing the web, and watching TV take away from your family time. After all, it's that family time that you will each remember long after the outcome of that movie has faded from your memory.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

On a Midnight "Plane" to Georgia

I used to always wonder why in the old R&B song "Midnight Train to Georgia" the lady didn't take a plane. Was it because in other songs people were leaving on jet planes, not knowing when they would be back again? Or was there another reason? Well, last night I discovered the answer....BECAUSE THE PLANE RIDE WOULD BE MISERABLE!

My family and I left last night on a midnight "plane" to Georgia and decided we will never do it again.....or at least until our baby is older. The plane was packed. Ella wanted down. She wanted mom. She wanted dad. She wanted no one. She wanted mom. She wanted to run the aisle. She wanted....well, you get the idea. She finally dozed off right about the time we were beginning our decent. So, needless to say, we are exhausted. But, the good thing is, we're here.

Another good thing was the Holiday Breakfast Sampler that we got to experience at Cracker Barrel . Wow. I love that place. We've got to get one built on Greenspot in Highland. Let's start a petition, now.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Way Up High

JR Lee and Todd Lollis , both good friends of mine, are living on top of a scissor lift at a car dealership. Why? Well, because they are trying to get people to invest in the lives of some underprivileged kids by buying over 100 bikes. You can read the story about it HERE . I encourage you to also click on the webcam feature and see them live on top of the lift. It's not constant streaming action, but very interesting all the same.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Created for Worship

You were created to be a worshipper.

The understanding of that statement alone carries with it a great weight of responsibility. It has nothing to do with a stage. Instead, it has everything to do with a lifestyle. Our lives are to exemplify Jesus Christ in every aspect.

Our Thought Life - every thing that we think on should honor God.
2 Corinthians 10;5 says "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

Our Actions - 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that our old selves have passed away and that all things in our lives have become new. ALL THINGS! EVERYTHING! ALL!
That means our attitudes. That means our approach to ministry. That means our desire to serve. That means our home life. That means the pettiness of our pride that allows us to be offended over nothing because we think everything is, or should be, about us. That means that what we "think" does not matter anymore. Instead, it should be about WHO we know.

Our Worship - Theologian and Worship Leader Steve Camp says "a powerful doctrine sung in glory to Christ with an impure life is noise to the ears of our holy God. Submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the obedience to the Word of God are marks of the worthy walk of faith. However, when Biblical standard are dishonored and unrepentant sin persists we must adhere to the instruction of the Word-stop the music until life is right. (Amos 5:23-24)"

May every aspect of our lives bring glory to the living God. We were created for that purpose. Most people seek their whole lives for "their purpose" and to "find themselves". As believers, we should KNOW what our purpose glorify God and to worship Him forever. This is the chief end of man. Live your life to accomplish the purpose you were created for. Only then will you discover the meaning of the abundant life Christ offers.

Monday, December 17, 2007

There's Always Something Going On

It was a pretty busy weekend, so I haven't had much time to blog. Here's a list of things that are going on right now:

1) I just purchased two gifts online that are guaranteed to arrive by Christmas Eve. Hmmmmmm, can you say "nervous".
2) I spent most of the weekend looking at the bottom of a trashcan. No, I wasn't curious about it's interior contour.
3) Our Christmas Worship Concert was a great success. I am so proud of the Immanuel Choir and Orchestra.
4) I sang at the funeral of a great man today. What an honor to be asked.
5) Caleb and I went shopping tonight for some last minute things that I just happened to hear about. Why do we not hear about these things in November?
6) We are flying to Georgia on Wednesday night. Our flight leaves at 10:50pm and arrives in Atlanta at 6am. I sure hope our children sleep. I sure hope this wasn't a mistake.
7) Clash of the Choirs comes on tonight. I plan on watching.
8) We're doing Christmas early since we are going out of town. I don't want to drag Christmas gifts across the country....twice. Santa Claus is coming to town tomorrow night at my house.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

What Are You Getting?

So, I'm just a little curious. For those of you who are willing to let the rest of us in on your little secret, I would love to know what your "surprise" is. If you would, post a comment telling me what that "BIG" gift is that you are getting your significant other. Husbands, what is that one special gift that you are buying your wife. Wives, what will it be this year that your husband is going to gasp over?

I want to take this little poll to see what this year's leading gift type is going to be for men and women. Will it be electronic gadgets that men will find under the Christmas tree this year? Will it be that sparkling "best friend" that women will discover beneath the bow and wrapping paper? Here is your chance to speak. Let us all in on the secret. If you feel it necessary to keep the surprise a secret, post your gift idea as Anonymous by not signing in to blogger. That way, no one is the wiser.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I Got Elfed

So, I decided to try to elf our family. It was pretty funny. They only let you do up to 4 people at a time, so baby Ella was left out of this one. But, we made one of her with the kids, too. You can check out our dance of four HERE .

Let me know what you think. And, try it out with your family. It's great for a laugh.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Featured Servants:

Tonight was the last night of the dessert theater at Immanuel for the musical "It's a Wonderful Life". Tomorrow night will be general admission and will be the last performance. Our worship ministry does at least 2 musicals per year, and I am amazed every time by the directing and leadership of Lisa Lyons. Lisa is on the worship staff at Immanuel as our Outreach Productions Coordinator. She is one of the very best directors I've ever seen. Her attention to detail is amazing, and she ties it all together and makes it a ministry to those she is working with. Everyone who knows her and has the benefit of working with her is better for it. God has blessed Immanuel with Lisa Lyons.

Her husband, Lee, is also an incredible talent. Every musical displays an incredible set that is designed and built by Lee. I'll try to get some pictures on as soon as I get them. Not only does it look good, it is incredibly functional and helps to make the story come to life. If you've never had the opportunity to see one of our productions and are going to be in town, take the opportunity to visit Immanuel tomorrow night at 5:30. You'll be glad you did.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Dan Takes Flight

Now, I'll be the first to admit that I have a pretty crazy clan of friends. But, this one is tops of the list in 2007. A friend of mine in Tennessee, Dan "the man" Craddock, strapped on some crazy concoction and took to the air. You've got to watch the video to really understand it. High above his house.......Dan - you are officially the only person I know who has a wind sock on his house. Congratulations!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Bridging the Gap

As a worship pastor in most churches across America, in any given worship service we are responsible for drawing people from 4-5 different generations into a sweet intimate worship time. That can be a real challenge at times. At Immanuel, we are passionate about reaching young families, building a hope and a future for Immanuel and the community we are called to serve. As a result, our older generations can feel left out and like they have no part in leadership.

One thing I have been passionate about is bridging the gap between generations. Many, when thinking of senior adults, feel that all they do is gripe and complain. Though true with some of them, some of my biggest supporters have been senior adults. I have some seniors who call me on a weekly basis to encourage me and pray for me. Here is a generation that can pour Godly wisdom into me. Many times I have to look beyond their approach to ministry, which can seem dated and irrelevant to our present culture. However, their passion and desire to make a difference is relevant.

Tonight, we are "bridging that gap" between generations, again. We are having our children choirs and Senior Adult choir go out carolling together. They will break into groups and sing in various neighborhoods. But, that's not the best part. After they sing, they will come together for hot chocolate and snacks. It's during that time that our Senior Adults will each share their favorite Christmas song and why it means so much to them. Then, our children will have the same opportunity. We want our mature generations to pour into and become spiritual grandparents to our younger generations. Instead of drawing lines in the sand and writing off whole generations of people, as leaders we need to find strengths in everyone and plug them into areas of ministry where they can flourish and make a difference. They are still on this earth because God still has a plan for their lives. I would love to see that plan lived out in the life of the church, and give them a reason to trust and support my ministry as I seek to serve Him.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Christmas Banquet

I was asked to provide music for a Christmas banquet that was held last night. The banquet was for pastors and staffs of the Inland Empire Baptist Churches. I am all about loving on and encouraging other pastors and staffs, so I was all for it. I asked a couple of friends of mine, Darrin Thurber and Mike Levitsky, to play with me. Darrin is an acoustic guitar guru and Mike is unreal on drums. Mike is actually sponsored by these guys . If you go to their site, click on the artists link and then on outlaws. You'll find Mike listed there.

It was a great night. We did some cool arrangements of some carols, a Third Day Christmas song, a Paul Baloche tune, and then we ended with one that I wrote called Bethlehem. It was a lot of fun, a great time of worship, and great food. Anytime I get the opportunity to worship and lead in worship is a good night for me.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Dinners, Musicals, and Concerts, oh my

Sing with me, "It's the most wonderful time of the year." Well, that's how the song goes. But, in our hectic lives full of appointments, school functions, staff parties, Christmas shopping, and traffic jams, the joy and wonder that we knew as children somehow disappears. How can we get that back? Well, I'm glad you asked.

I absolutely love Christmas. To me, it IS "the most wonderful time of the year". However, I have to be intentional about making it such or I fall into the trap of looking at the circumstances around me and I miss what Christmas is all about. Without the manger, there would have never been a cross. Without Bethlehem, there would have never been a Calvary. Without a birth, there would have never been a death and resurrection. I find that teaching these truths to my children and celebrating THAT during this time of year, helps our family to stay focused on the TRUE meaning of Christmas.

Now, understand me. I don't see anything wrong with playing Santa Claus and enjoying the magic of Christmas that makes my kids eyes light up. We do that as a family, as well. As kids, my children are excited about what they are going to get for Christmas. The gifts. The lights. The FOOD! But, as they grow, I want to have invested more in them than that. As they mature, they'll understand what we've taught them and the TRUTH in that story will come to life for them. Be intentional about investing in others during Christmas. That is the only way that I've found to make the distractions go away and the true meaning of Christmas to take center stage.