Monday, January 29, 2007

Off to a Great Start

Our week of
GOC (Global Outreach Celebration)
kicked off yesterday with a bang. We had IMB missionaries teaching in most of our Sunday School classes across the campus, and several IMB personnel and staff in our worship services. And to our Immanuel Choir and Orchestra, you were awesome. I had people coming up to me throughout the day bragging on what an incredible job you did. The missionary appointees were asking about the song and how they could get it, along with talking about what a great job you did in leading them in worship. I could not have been more proud of you. This Wednesday is the big Appointment Service, so make sure you are in place by 6pm, ready to worship. For all of our prayer partners who have been lifting this week up, thank you. You make successful ministry possible, and God hears your prayers. Keep it up. I'm so looking forward to the rest of this week. Have a great rest of the week, and look for opportunities to make an impact for eternity!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Hotel Gatherings

Jody and I set-up a table at the DoubleTree Hotel tonight to welcome the IMB Appointees that have come in town for the commissioning service this week. We had the opportunity to meet many of the missionaries and give them giftbags that we had made. It was great to meet them and hear where they were from, how God had called them and was using them, and to where God was sending them. It's amazing to hear their testimonies. We're looking forward to a great time of worship with them tomorrow, as well as the rest of the week. Jody and I are praying about an opportunity for a mission trip to Scotland. Please lift us in prayer as we seek God's will in that. Perhaps it wont be the right time, or trip, for us. But, if God wants us, we want to be available. It would be a 9-day mission trip to the indiginous Celtic groups within Scotland. We'll give you updates as God reveals His will in that situation.

Friday, January 26, 2007


We've been preparing for weeks now for the
International Mission Board
appointment service that Immanuel is hosting. The time has finally arrived and our Global Outreach Celebration will begin this Sunday. Tons of IMB personnel, as well as appointees and staff, will be here. It is going to be a busy week, but a week that I have really been looking forward to. Wednesday, January 31st, will be the Appointment Service. The
Immanuel Choir
and Orchestra will be leading in worship, and it is sure to be a night that we will all remember. I'll post some news on how things went sometime next week.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Our Worship, or His?

I'm writing this blog in response to comments that I have received recently at home and abroad. Don't read into this. I am still in the honeymoon stage at Immanuel so no battles have had to be fought as of yet. However, I am constantly asked my view on the "worship wars" that occur in most churches all over our country. This may be a controversial stand that I am about to take, but what stand that is worth taking is not surrounded by controversy? And when you stand on the Word of God as your source, even in the face of opposition, your stand is the right one. So, with that said, let's move into the heart of the matter.

Have you ever noticed that most of the wars we seem to fight within the church are just that; from within? I've had the privilege in my ministry to serve in different churches, with different demographics, with different challenges and goals, but one thing has always seemed to remain the same.; many of the battles we face in our churches are self-generated.

One church I served in Alabama had pockets of people against the Pastor. Though there were more people who supported him, they were not the vocal ones. As a result, they allowed the "squeaky wheels" to have their way and they lost a great Pastor. The battles that took place in that church were avoidable. The senseless driving away of a Pastor God has blessed you with is not God-honoring, no matter how you try to spin it with the most recent "church" lingo.

But, no matter where I've been there have been battles among the people concerning the style of the music. Now, most of you reading this blog know that I am a Worship Pastor, so music is near and dear to me. However, no matter how much I think a song rocks, if the lyrics do nothing to facilitate worship within a church, what are we accomplishing by singing it? Do we just sing songs because we know them? Do we just sing the songs that we think sound the best? Do we only sing songs that evoke some memory of sitting on a wooden pew with grandma as we try our best to peer over the over-sized hat of the fat lady sitting in front of us? If the answer to any of these is yes for you, then congratulations. You are one of the few that will actually answer these questions honestly.

So many people seem to think they know what music will actually bring a smile to the face of God. And Lord help us all if we even like another type of music. It amazes me how people who know absolutely nothing about music strongly give their opinions on the subject. You rarely see people who live in poverty giving financial advice to a real estate investor. Never do we see a 40 year-old McDonald's Fry cook telling the CEO of a Fortune 500 company how to run a business. But, weekly I witness everybody and their tone-deaf brother advise our God-given leaders who have been called, equipped, and educated to lead a church in worship, on how to do their ministry.

One reason for this, I believe, is that we are all created as musical beings. Unfortunately, few people have an opinion on scripture, but everyone has an opinion when it comes to the music. But what we must realize is that it is just that...our opinion. At some point, each of us must come to the realization that "if God desired the music to be what I think it should be, He would have called, equipped, and educated me to do it." Since He didn't do that, perhaps your opinion is not what He has in mind for the particular church you are a part of.

So, let's reevaluate our position on worship. If worship truly is a relationship that we walk in on a daily basis with the Lord, then shouldn't our attitude in corporate worship reflect the fact that we've been with Him during the week? I believe if we spent the time with the Lord that we do complaining about musical styles and song choices, we would celebrate in the fact that even if we don't like a particular song, God may actually still be able to work through it. After all, He is God. And while we're at it, perhaps we should raise this question to our opinion really valid in the broad scheme of eternity? And if music in worship is to be all that we personally think it should be, does it then become our worship and cease to be His?

Well, I do realize that this blog is pretty lengthy, so I'll stop here for now. I'm sure that at some point we'll re-visit this subject.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Let It Snow, Let It Snow....

I'm sure many of you have seen the weird weather that has been occurring all across the globe. Southern California has been no exception. You may have seen on the news recently where it snowed in Malibu. How crazy is that? Well, it doesn't get anymore normal here in the valley. It actually snowed at my house last Friday. With all of the snow, we couldn't help but get out and play in it. The snow didn't pile up enough here in Highland to build snowmen or go sledding, so we drove about 25 minutes from our house into the mountains, and went to Lake Arrowhead. We had a good time. We ended up on a snowy hill in a town called Running Springs, CA, and it seemed like something out of a movie. The kids were all bundled up, tons of kids were riding sleds and such, and we were right in the middle of all of the action. I've posted a few pics for you to see for yourself that what I'm describing happened in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA actually took place. Enjoy the pics!

Abby was bundled up
and ready for the snow.
But, none of us were quite
ready for the 4 degree
windchill factor.

Here is a shot of the hill
we were sledding on.
We played for over an hour
before the cold did us in.

This is a shot of the mountains
right behind our house. We're
greeted with this view everyday
when we come home.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I've Never Seen Anything Like It

As many of you may know, my Pastor's wife, Sue Zinn, lost her battle with bone cancer on Sunday evening, but in the end was victorious as she was ushered into heaven. Today we celebrated her life as a church family and community. There was standing room only, with well over 2000 in attendance. The songs were uplifting, testimonies of her life were upbeat, encouraging, challenging, and at times, humorous. Her passion for life, family, and friends was echoed over and over. As was her love for the Lord. An article published today in the Baptist Press gives some insight into who she was. Yet, as her youngest daughter put it today, "if we had 5000 or 5 million words to describe who she was, they would never be enough."

Before I stepped out to lead the congregational singing, my Pastor approached me and said, "Thank you for doing this. Now, do me a favor. Go out there and tell these people that this is not a funeral. This is a worship service!" Even at his wife's graveside, Rob Zinn was quick to give God glory, and to mix and mingle with the numerous guests that attended. He is a passionate follower of Christ, never wishing for any moment to pass in which he could share the gospel with someone, or offer a word of encouragement. May God richly bless this family with love and peace as they grieve a great loss. And may He sing over them as they celebrate Sue's new home in heaven.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

San Antonio

I am so proud of the Immanuel Choir. We have the opportunity to sing at the Southern Baptist Convention in June, in San Antonio, TX. As we each strive to raise the funds necessary to go, please be mindful of your responsibility to bring someone with you. This Is Your Choir is not just a slogan, but a state of mind; a state of purpose. God has called you to this ministry, and you must take ownership of it. That not only means your faithfulness, but also your commitment to help this ministry grow. Give your best in all aspects of your life and ministry and you will see God bless beyond anything you could dare to accomplish on your own. Let's pack that loft out in San Antonio, and represent our Lord to the best of our ability as we make an impact for all of eternity, together.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Sue is Home with the Lord

It has been an intense battle, but Sue has finally won. She went home to be with the Lord Sunday evening, January 14th. While speaking with our Pastor, it is amazing to see him speak of her with such strength. I can't imagine going through a time like that, but he has continued to give God the glory for every day that he had with his wife. He has asked me to lead some congregational worship for the funeral service, but to end with one song in particular; It Is Well With My Soul. Need I say more about the strength of the Lord that resides in him?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Wanted: Prayer

Some of you may know of my Pastor's situation with his wife, and others may not. So, allow me to catch all of us up. Our Pastor's Wife, Sue Zinn, has been battling bone cancer for several months now. She has had some good days, but most have been filled with pain. Through it all, I have watched my Pastor proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ with a passion rarely seen. Even in the midst of the biggest storm of their lives, they have chosen to use it as an opportunity to give God glory. A few minutes before our first morning worship service, he approached me to say that he was going home. He needed to be with Sue. Just hearing that, I knew that things could not be good. It would take something very serious to take him out of the pulpit. By the end of the worship service we had received word that Sue could leave us at any moment.

As of tonight's worship service, Sue was still holding on. The family is at her bedside and soaking up these last moments the best they can. Please lift this family up in prayer. God is still on the throne, and they are grieving as those who HAVE HOPE! Yet, grieving just the same. Thank you for your prayers. She is only 51 years old. Yet, God's ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. He has a perfect will, and at this moment, it appears as though that involves calling Sue home. Nonetheless, we will praise Him and glorify Him for His goodness. His blessings are immeasurable, and His mercies are new every morning.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

A Magical Night

Jody and I celebrated our 9th Wedding Anniversary January 10th. However, if you check out your calendar, you'll notice that Jan. 10th was a Wednesday....and what do I do on Wednesdays? Well, it's not go out on a date. So, instead, we celebrated on Friday, January 12th. I wanted it to be more than dinner and a movie, so I scouted out something unique for us to do. I had remembered seeing a Travel Channel special on a place in Hollywood called The Magic Castle. So, I checked into that.

It turns out The Magic Castle is a private club. The only way you can get in is to be a member or have an invitation from a member. So, I worked my own magic and got an invitation. (Actually, our high school pastor, Rob Signs, is a magician, and a friend of his is a member. End of story.) So, off to The Magic Castle we went.

It started off with us approaching a book shelf and saying a magic word (sorry guys, I can't reveal my tricks here in this public venue). The book shelf slid into the wall and we entered the castle. It was absolutely amazing. We ate dinner, which was wonderful, requested obscure songs to be played by a piano playing ghost named Irma (who actually knew B52 songs and Broadway show tunes), which left us with the remainder of the evening to roam around the castle and see as many different magic shows as we could stand. I'll share some of the events with you in later posts. If I were to tell you everything now, you'd be reading for a while. But, I will say, we were entertained and amazed. Jody and I even got to get in on one of the acts. It really was spectacular.

After leaving the castle at about 11:30pm or so, we rode down Hollywood Blvd. to see Hollywood Walk of Fame, Mann's Chinese Theater , the Kodak Theater and several other sights. It was surreal. We are planning on going back to Hollywood just to see many of the other sights when we have the opportunity to get out and walk around a bit. It was a great night. Several times we had to stop just to take it all in. The realization that we were actually in Hollywood California seemed like a dream. It was by far one of our best dates ever, and an anniversary we'll never forget.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Update: Kids

We've received emails asking about how the kids are. If you are a parent, you know by experience that when you have kids, every one's interest is in them...not you. When we go home to visit our families, everyone usually runs to the car to see the kids. But, that's OK. I had my time in the sun as a kid. So, onto the update.

Caleb is really enjoying his school. He is doing well and has adjusted marvelously. He had his first Upwards Basketball practice tonight and had a great time. His first game is this Saturday. GO Panthers!

Abby has also adjusted very well. She loves the church and is begging to take ballet lessons. We'll be looking into that soon. She has really developed into a great help as a big sister, and is busy teaching Ella how to do things....and "telling" her how to do things. She's more of a little "mama" than a big sister. As Abby's little pet, Ella wants for nothing. We may have to get Abby a hamster so that she'll quit rubbing Ella's head so much.

Ella is truly turning into a California girl. She spends most of her time hanging out at the beach with her friends, and has developed quite a tan. Santa brought her a surf board this year, and she will soon be taking lessons. OK, OK....she's not surfing yet. But, what am I to say about a 10 month old. She still wears diapers and squeals a lot. She's not walking yet, but there seems to be no need to. Abby carries her everywhere she wants
to go.

Now you're caught up. If you'd like to say "hello" to the kids, please reply to this blog. We will let the kids come in and see their pictures and then read the replies to them. If you don't reply, we will tell them that you don't like them and they'll be crushed forever.


I'm amazed every time I'm around God's people. Sometimes I'm amazed at what idiots Christians can be...but then I think about how I probably appear that way to God most of the time. (But anyway, I digress) Most of the time I'm amazed to hear stories of God's power and deliverance in people's lives. Last night I met a lady that I had heard had a tumor. I had been praying for her without having ever met her. She showed up at choir practice and wanted to join the choir. As we talked further, she shared with me how God had taken such good care of her and her latest test came back benign. God is still our Jehovah-Rophe, our healer. He simply blows my mind.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Mi Casa....

Many have written me asking about our new house. So, I thought I'd post a picture for you to get a little insight into our current abode (yes, I intentionally used the word abode). Most of our pictures in the house have been of...well, us in the house. So, you can't really tell too much about the house itself. The picture I've posted below is a shot from the dining room through the kitchen and into the family room. We'll add more as we take them. Here you go:

Friday, January 05, 2007

We Are Shopping...Shopping....

It has been a good week, yet a crazy week all at the same time. I'm sure many of you understand how that goes. Monday was a holiday, which meant that we spent the rest of the week trying to play catch up in preparation for Sunday. As a result, I was ready for Friday to get here. Off days have become a precious commodity in my life, so I usually plan all week in my mind the things that I'm going to try to accomplish when that day arrives. It seems that every week my wife has spent her time planning all the things that I'm going to accomplish on my off day. Now, why do I always end up fulfilling her plans on my off-day, and nothing that I've planned gets accomplished?

Today, we spent the whole day shopping. However, I was in a degree. The $100 "pretty sheet" to lay at the foot of a bed went back on the shelf (I wasn't having any of that). The purple fuzzy telephone for Abby to play with (which by the way, was a real telephone) went back on the shelf. The duvet (I'm so embarrassed I even know what that is) for Caleb's bed is still in the store....on the shelf. And the metal ballerina with hooks coming out of her head for you to hang stuff on (for Abby's room) guessed it....back on the shelf. But, all in all, we did have a great time. The furniture store that we went to called Living Spaces has a kid's room where only children are allowed to go play. They have a parent check in station, video games, couches, desks with drawing materials, a big screen tv with cartoons playing, and more. The kids loved it. You can check your kids in there, go shop for an hour, and then come back and pick them up. It was wonderful. Oh yeah, they also serve FREE Starbucks coffee...all you can drink. We took advantage of that and then hit two sweet looking (and comfortable) theater seats in front of the biggest television I've ever seen. We sat there, kid-less, and drank our coffee. I think all of our dates will take place at that store. Where else can you get free coffee, free entertainment, and free childcare? What a great date!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

What's In A Word?

For those of you who know me, you know that I follow that age-old "a proverb a day" thing. Depending on the date, I read the corresponding Proverb. This insures that I am seeking wisdom on a daily basis; that I am seeking understanding (because everytime I read a Proverb, God teaches me something new); that I am allowing God to speak to me. Today is the 4th (for those of you without calendars), and I am in Proverbs 4.

For those parents out there, have you ever thought about how you react to things concerning your children? Many times we overreact, not clearly understanding the situation, and jump to conclusions. Other times, we react based on the situation at hand. No matter our reaction, our response is based on one truth - protection. We will go to any and all lengths to protect our child. No matter what that child thinks, we will do everything within our power to do what is best for them. But when it comes to ourselves, too often we don't see the importance.

So it is with our hearts. We are instructed in Proverbs 4:23 "above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Have you ever stopped to think "what is a wellspring"? Well, the obvious conclusion is that it is like water that nourishes us. And that is partially right. But, looking at the definition of the word, we find out that it really is a source of life. The source of who we are is found in the heart. If we fail to protect our heart against bad language, pornography, lustful thoughts, etc., then we allow the source of who we are to become toxic. Would we allow our children to swim in a cesspool? Would we ourselves drink from a corrupted water source? I hope that the answer for you is the same as it is for me...a resounding "no". If that is the case, then why do we lower our guard far too often when it comes to what God tells us is our source of life?

Guard your heart. Allow your mind to focus on what is of God; that which is holy and righteous. This is why God has given us these words of wisdom. He wants to protect His children from those things that we can't yet see.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Get Ready

Just to let each of you know, this blog will soon be taking on a new look. I am planning on doing more personal updating with pictures, more links, etc. This should make reading a little more interesting, along with giving a little insight to the lives of our crazy California family...via Tennessee, via Alabama, via Texas, oh yeah, and Georgia. So, continue to check back frequently to keep up with us. Also, please feel free to post to the page. Leave comments for me and we'll stay in touch. Also, check out my personal profile. From there you can email me at additional charge. Where else are you going to get a deal like that?

A Great Time of Worship

Usually after the new year begins, you ramp up for a couple of weeks...trying to gather momentum from an extended time off for your people. With this in mind, I expected tonight's rehearsal to be low in attendance and to lack energy. I was wrong. Congrats Immanuel on representing your God well. We had a great attendance...the highest since I've been here, with several new faces. As a result of your faithfulness and desire to worship, God showed up. We had an incredible time of worship as we prepared ourselves to lead His church. Just think...we've got 51 more weeks of this left this year. Keep it up Immanuel, and we'll see God do things we never thought possible.


We are honored to have been chosen to host the International Misssion Board Appointment Service here, at Immanuel. Our Pastor has told me that it has been at least 10 years (and possibly as many as 20 years) since the IMB held an appointment service in California. Obviously, it is pretty expensive to fly them all way out here when they have so many churches in the Southeast to choose from. So, for them to choose us to host it is an honor. What I'm excited about the most is the great ministry opportunity our choir and orchestra will have to lead these people, from around the world, in worship. We've also been invited to lead worship at the Southern Baptist Convention in San Antonio, TX in June. God is definitely giving us great opportunities to take this ministry outside the walls of this building. So, to all of our people at Immanuel...get ready. Prepare yourself both musically and spiritually to give your absolute best. God is giving you great opportunities. What will you do with them?