Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sunday Rehearsals

Wow. I didn't realize that yesterdays blog would generate such great response. "Thanks" to each of you for your input. Some were unable to log on to comment and sent me emails instead. Cool. But, on to a different subject.

The Immanuel Choir has been so blessed over the past several months. We've been the recipient of so many new people into the ministry. Praise the Lord! We've also been doing some research among our congregation and have come to realize that there are others who say they would love to be a part of the choir, but that their mid-week schedules keep them from attending rehearsals. Well, we've just fixed that for them. Beginning Sunday, September 16th, we will be adding an additional rehearsal to Sunday afternoon. That rehearsal will start at 3:30 and will be a condensed version of Wednesday nights. If you've been unable to attend previously, this will give you the opportunity to still be a part of the work that God is doing through the Immanuel Choir.

I hope to see you there. In the meantime, each of our choir members are working on bringing one person into the ministry. I believer that there are numerous people within our church that need to be connected and make an investment in their own ministry. What better place to be than in the choir? I'm praying for God to add 50 new members this fall. Join with me as we believe God for huge results.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sad, But True

Please make sure your sarcasm detector is turned on and tuned up for the following:

It is amazing how many people in the church know so much about so many things. I can't tell you how much advice I get from people based on their...well, based on nothing. I am not complaining, mind you. I am simply stating a fact. In a church with nearly 2500 in attendance each weekend, can you imagine the amount of input I get on music? Now, I am not writing this because anyone has been mean or un-Christlike in an email or letter. On the contrary. Most people simply state their request(s) and leave it at that. But, the worship ministry is not KSGN. We don't have an all request line. How could we?

Let me explain it like this: In any given week I may get 10 requests for a specific type of music. In addition, I may get 10 different requests for certain songs. Along with that, I may get 10 requests for a specific type of music that is in contrast to the previous 10 requests for a totally different kind. (Sarcasm alert) And just for the record, I love having people "thank me in advance" for fulfilling their requests. "No problem, sir. In fact, I had no idea what we were going to do for music next week until you approached me. I'll be sure to get right on that." that I've gotten that off my chest, let me say that there is absolutely nothing more that I would rather be doing than worship ministry. It is my heart. It is my passion. It is my calling. I know that people have their favorites. But, ask yourself this question: Is your favorite more important than someone else's? We can't possibly be successful as a church and as a worship ministry by going in so many different directions to meet the needs of everyone that we miss the needs of everyone. Over the past 15 years of ministry, I have learned that if you try to please everyone, you please no one.

In a nutshell - here is the vision of the worship ministry. This statement will not give you the details of how to accomplish this - it is simply a broad view. The worship ministry exists to glorify God, to lead and encourage, teach, and mature believers in worship. But, part of our purpose also involves attraction. We desire to attract the world to the church by glorifying God through whatever means possible. If you have a Kingdom vision, then the details of seeing that vision realized will not distract.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Just another Day

I hung out with Caleb and Abby yesterday at the pool. We had a good time. I was the shark...they were the minnows. Needless to say, I won. But they tired me out. So, I don't know if that was a victory or not??? Jody was suffering with another one of her infamous migraines, so I hung with the kids most of the day.

Today, I am going into a writing session in about 2 minutes to work on some new song ideas. Song writing sessions are so strange for me. I usually spend that time working out ideas that I already have. Rarely do I get an original idea during these times. I usually get those original song ideas at weird times. Driving down the road, cutting grass, walking. I guess I need to do those things a little more often. Well, off to write.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Phone Calls Home

I don't know about you, but I love hearing the stories of what God is doing in the lives of our soldiers who are fighting around the world. Recently, my Minister of Instrumental Worship (orchestra guy) shared the following story with me. This is not one of those passed around the Internet stories with faulty origins. Jeremy, is actually the son of a co-worker of my orchestra director's father. Does that make sense? Okay. Just read the story below. It's pretty cool. It makes me think of battles in biblical times.

I haven't updated you recently on my son Jeremy, who is serving with
the 82nd Airborne Army Division in Afghanistan. He has been involved
in many firefights with the Taliban as he and his buddies are high in
the mountains near the Pakistan border and are attempting to stem the
flow of Taliban recruits from Pakistan into Afghanistan.

He called me 10 days ago and said that he thought he was going to die
in a firefight the day before. His 5 man patrol met up with another 5
man US patrol to make camp for the evening. After establishing a
perimeter defense around their camp, they eventually ate dinner and
settled in for the night.

All at once, enemy small arm fire and rocket propelled grenades began
pouring into their camp from the hills surrounding them. Jeremy is
the Fire Control guy and he dove into the Humvee to get to his radios
to call in some artillery fire on the enemy. Unfortunately, neither
radio worked, either because of technical problems or being destroyed
by small arms fire. With a night vision camera, they scanned the hills
around them and counted 75 enemy raining fire upon them. 75 against
10 is a tall order, even for the 82nd Airborne.

Jeremy said everyone started firing back with everything they had.
The battle went on for over 3 hours. Jeremy said he manned a machine
gun on one of the Humvees and fired until he eventually ran out of
ammunition. They could see the Taliban moving toward the camp to
attempt to overrun the small group of men. Jeremy said they all threw
all the hand grenades that they had with them, then began firing their
last weapons available, their rifles. Eventually, Jeremy's supply of
ammunition dwindled from 12 clips to just 1. He had 30 rounds left
and decided that he would save the last one for himself because he
chose not to be captured and tortured by the Taliban. He said he knew
that he only had a few scant moments left and he was praying to God
for all that he was worth as he carefully shot his last ammo.

Then, miraculously, all firing ceased....both from the Taliban and our
guys. As the soldiers waited, the sun began to peak over the tops of
the mountains as a new day was beginning. Jeremy said that,
afterwards, they came to the conclusion that the Taliban must have
thought the U.S. soldiers would call in an air strike on them once
daylight appeared. Who knows what really happened... I believe God
answered prayer and supplied a way out for our guys that goes beyond
human explanation.

Eventually, Jeremy and his guys walked through the hills where they
had returned fire and found the bodies of 30 Taliban troops. I was
fighting tears as I asked Jeremy how many brave American troops lost
their lives that night. He started crying and said, "Not one, Dad.
No one was killed, no one was even injured! All of our equipment was
destroyed by enemy fire, but not one person was injured!" Praise the
Lord! Jeremy said, "Please ask everyone back home to continue praying
for us! It is, by far, the best protection we have!"

Folks, no one is THAT bad of a shot! This is proof to me that angels
were protecting our troops that evening, just as millions of Americans
are praying! Please, please, keep it up.... Our heroes are depending
on you to be Prayer Warriors! Thank you so much for your

Pretty cool, huh? Now, get off of your computer and go pray for our troops!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Music Reading

We had PRISM Music with us at Immanuel today. BJ Green led the event and we had a really good time. He listened to two of my songs, All I Need and I Believe, and said that he was going to pitch them around to some people. I'm not holding my breath for anything, but it would be cool to have someone pick them up. (Still living the dream).

One of the things that has helped me the most in songwriting, is to base some songs on scripture that is not being used as much for inspiration. We all know tons of songs based on God's forgiveness, and Jesus dying on the cross, and the blood covering our sins. While those subjects are definitely part of the foundation of our faith, they are everywhere. I have written on those subjects, as well, and they are some of my favorite tunes. However, why not write on subjects that others are not writing on. I've got one that I'm working on now.....but, sorry, I'm not revealing the scripture source just yet. I'll let you know when I'm done. Hey, I gotta keep some secrets.

Monday, August 20, 2007

First Day

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Some of you have been asking about Abby's first day of school as a brand new kindergartner. Well, all is well. It was more emotional to send my little girl off to her first day of school than it was with Caleb. When he started school, I felt more like "that's my boy. Go conquer the world." But, with Abby, it was more like "not my little girl. Where have the last 5 years gone? My life is nearly over now." So, other than my emotional state, it was pretty uneventful. Her teacher did say that "Abby is the perfect student." But, whose to say that she doesn't tell all the parents that? All I know is that she loves school and can't wait each day to go back. I know that will possibly change over time...but for now, she is crazy about school.

Caleb is in 2nd grade this year and is really enjoying his class. I can't imagine any teacher not liking him. I know that he is energetic, but he has a heart of gold and loves everybody. We're praying for another great year from him.

God has blessed us with three incredible kids...and I'm proud of everything I'm seeing them accomplish. Even Ella....who now says "please"......well, those two times that she said it.


Wow! Have you been checking out this whole Hurricane Dean story? Can you imagine something so powerful that you have absolutely no control over coming at you with such force? I have never experienced anything like that. I have been very close to numerous tornadoes in my life-time, but never anything like that. So, why do people think of California as the wild wild west with earthquakes and wildfires? Well, first of all, it's because there are earthquakes and wildfires....ha! But, I'd rather face a potential earthquake...and I know where wildfires are before they get to me. A tornado can come down from anywhere. Now, I know I'll be singing a different tune should I ever fall victim to either of these. But for now, I'll take my chances on the west coast.

Friday, August 17, 2007

A Few Loose Ends

I've got a few loose ends to tie up today for worship in a couple of weeks. I try my best to stay two weeks ahead. It really helps our staff to have plenty of time to prepare. It also gives me more time to live with the songs, the scripture, and the worship concept as a whole before leading our people in worship.

Wednesday night, I challenged our people to bring just one person into the Immanuel Choir by our fall kickoff date in mid-September. They all seemed to accept the challenge, so I'm very excited to see more people invest in this ministry. One of our altos even gave me two names and phone numbers of people that she has been talking with about joining. I called both and as a result I believe that they both might join soon.

As I explained on Wednesday night - it's not about seeing how many people we can get into the choir. It is so much bigger than that. The more people that come into this ministry, the more people there are that are investing in the life of the church. It also enables us to accomplish greater things. Our circle of influence is also expanded. I could go on and on but I think you get the picture. We all get so much out of being a part of this ministry. Why not get others involved, allow them to make the investment and enjoy the rewards just as we do?

I'm so excited about what God is doing and is going to do.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Hangin' with the People

I love people. Yes, where there are people there are problems...but I am people too. So, it comes with the territory. Today, I got to spend some time with two guys in our ministry and just listen to where God has them. I met one for breakfast and the other for lunch. (I'm really into meeting over food.) I am amazed to hear the stories of people's lives. It is also cool to see God develop friendships out of ministry. So often, I look to spend time with our people thinking that I'm going to get to minister to them...but it always works the other way around. I am the one who gleans the most from spending time with our people. I only hope that one day the world will see how great the people of Immanuel are. I am convinced that I serve at the greatest church in the world.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Fall Kickoff

The Immanuel Choir will be having our Fall Kickoff in September. We are encouraging every current member to invite and enroll one other person. If that were to happen, can you imagine the blessings we would receive from doubling the size of our ministry. Think of the number of families that would be directly involved in the ministry, in addition to the new abilities we would discover and see God use in our church and community. Share the blessings! If you fill blessed to be a part of this choir, then allow others to share in those blessings by involving them in the ministry. I'll be posting more details as we get a little closer.

Monday, August 13, 2007


That's right. This is blog number 200 - so you are here for a momentous occasion. This would have happened much sooner, but I have been busy with other tasks the past couple of weeks and have not had the drive to blog. However, here I am now.

I went surfing last Thursday. It was pretty interesting. I was actually able to stand 3 times, which I was told was good for the very first time. Overall it was a great experience. I will definitely go again.

I've got some things that we're working on with the choir as far as additional rehearsal schedules. I will be posting more on that in the coming days.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

National Television Appearance

I am going to be on NBC tonight (Tuesday). Make sure that you are watching. "How?" Well, I went to a taping of America's Got Talent on Saturday. The show airs tonight on NBC, so make sure you look for me. I was wearing a light grey shirt. The guy beside me in green is Jody's cousin, Josh. We are sitting over the left shoulder of David Hasselhoff .

I could tell you who is eliminated and who moves on, but I signed a waiver that gives NBC the right to sue me for $50,000 if I reveal anything, so I'll stay quiet. Just watch the show and look for me. Oh yeah....and if Cas Haley gets voted through, make sure to call in and vote for him. He is really the only one there with the talent that would really be worth buying a ticket to my humble, yet accurate opinion.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Contract Signing

I signed the contract on my first publishing deal today. It was an amazing feeling...having a dream come true. I had to have someone sign as a witness that wasn't related to me, so I chose my Pastor. He has been very supportive and encouraging ever since I've known him. So, I asked him for the honor of having him on my first publishing contract. He actually left his house just to meet me for it. Be in prayer for him this week as he is going to Decatur, AL to preach. He asked me what business casual looked like in Alabama. I laughed and told him that it looks about like it does out here. He is going to get to preach in a Tommy-Bahama shirt and slacks. He was so excited!

Alright Immanuel Choir. It is time to start inviting and encouraging others to join us. We are gearing up for our fall kickoff and enrollment campaign in September. Get an early jump on it and get people thinking and praying about joining us now. I'd love to see an influx of new choir members this fall. I'll give you some goals to shoot for over the next couple of weeks.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Sunday Night Rewind

Tonight was amazing! It was awesome to see God's people come together to worship Him. We implemented a new look, a new focus, and a new sound to the evening worship service. What an incredible difference! Tonight confirmed my suspicions about Sunday nights. Sunday evening has seemed to be the watered-down version of Sunday morning, with no true identity of it's own. We were intentional about tweaking that service and saw the results. People were buzzing before the music even began, simply from seeing a new stage design. When the band began and the praise team kicked into gear the energy from the congregation was unreal.

I saw, for the first time, the Sunday evening crowd excited about worship. Distractions came come in many forms. It had come in the form of complacency among our evening service goers. People used to come in expecting nothing exciting, and as a result, they got nothing exciting. That alone took our eyes off the Lord on Sunday nights. We simply created an exciting atmosphere, refocused our attention, and true worship took place. Praise the Lord! From this point on, we have to be intentional about tweaking and adjusting on a regular basis.

Refocus, retool, and you'll be reformed. Immanuel has quickly become the place to be on Sunday nights. See you there next week!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Movie Night

It is awesome to see the church reaching the community and providing for needs. Every Friday night in August we are providing food and entertainment for the community in our softball field. Each Friday night there will be a free movie and food. The all you can eat food is just $3 and includes hamburgers, chips, drinks, snowcones, popcorn, and cotton candy. One mother said that she brings her family because "where can you find entertainment for your family for so little money?" Tonight's movie was Facing the Giants and it was great. After you get over the fact that the acting is bad, the story takes over and is truly inspirational.

Tomorrow I am going to a taping of America's Got Talent in Hollywood. It should be pretty cool. I love tv tapings.