Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Saga Continues...

So, our Christmas vacation continues. And just like Clark Griswold's, my family has its own colorful and interesting characters in it. Caleb and Abby have been playing with cousins our whole vacation. It has been good.

We have been staying in my parents' new log cabin in the basement bedroom. The basement is decorated in 1950's decor with lots of neon lights and a jukebox. I have the urge each morning to slick my hair back and throw on my leather jacket.

Perhaps I will be sporting a new style when we return to Cali...or perhaps not.

Monday, December 29, 2008


We are in the mountains of north Georgia and are having a blast. My parents have a great log cabin house here and we've been spending our days relaxing and exploring the little towns nearby.

Their house is in a location with no cell service. Since I blog from my phone when away from a computer, this little detail has kept me from doing that.

Today, we took the kids bowling. Caleb has only been twice in his life, and bowled a 100 on his first game. Pretty amazing! He beat his Papa...and so did I!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Day After Blues

So, a lot of people deal with a "let down" in the days following a big event. This is especially true when it comes to Christmas. There is so much build up to the day of Christmas, that when it's gone many don't seem to have anything to look forward to. What's the deal with that?

I love Christmas more than anyone I know, but we can't allow our lives to hinge on ONE big event. This is why we need to strive to create big events throughout the year. I'm not talking about an Easter musical, a 4th of July musical, and then back to Christmas. I'm talking about making an investment in the lives of others on a regular basis. This is the drive that keeps the spirit of giving, love, and Christ on the forefront throughout the year.

If you don't dream God-sized dreams you won't see God-sized results. This is another thing that should drive us throughout the rest of the year. Yes, dreaming means risk. With every new endeavor we risk failure. BUT, with every risk of failure comes the opportunity for great reward. In order to see those God-sized results become a reality in our lives, we must dream the impossible. If you deem things impossible in your life, what you are saying is that you will never see them become a reality. As a result, you don't dream for those things because of the risk. You end up settling for less when you could have had the best. If only you had chosen to chase that dream with everything you had. Quite possibly you could have had God's best.

My kids hear the same thing from me everyday when I kiss them goodbye on their way to school. "Do your best and always do the right thing." If we approach our lives this way, we will glorify God with every action and every thought. 2009 could be the year you approach life in that same way.

Make 2009 a year of dreams for you and your family. If you are truly dreaming God-sized dreams, you won't see everything become a reality in 2009. Instead, the next year will become the year you began to look at life differently.


1) Make an investment in the lives of others. Believe that even you, as just one person, can make an eternal difference in the life of another.
2) Dream God-sized dreams and chase them with everything you have. God-sized dreams are not caught all at once. Instead, they are an investment.
3) Live your life for the Glory of God. If you are truly living for His glory, then everything you approach will be given your best!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It's Christmas Eve

It is amazing to me that Christmas Eve is here. We have been in Georgia for 5 days now, and it seems like we just landed yesterday. Vacation always goes by so fast. But, tonight is Christmas eve and we are making to most of it. We are going to have a great Christmas eve dinner, and then we're off to see Christmas lights as a family. This is a tradition for us. We load up the entire family and head to Yonkers. There, families join together to decorate all of their homes, their land, and anything else they can get lights on. We walk through their property and enjoy the sights and sounds. Lots of fun!

There are also Christmas eve services tonight at Immanuel. If you are in Southern California, make your way to Immanuel at 4:30 or 6pm. It is going to be great. Though my family won't be there, you should. Merry Christmas Eve. Get to bed early and make sure you're asleep. He sees you when you're sleeping and he knows when you're awake. You know, that's kinda spooky sounding, isn't it? Our poor children....

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Happenings

Last night, Jody and I had the opportunity to hang out with old friends. One couple we knew from college. The other couple had both gone to high school with Jody.

We laughed and talked about old times. It was a lot of fun. I love seeing Jody laugh until she cries like that. That is probably why I act so stupid most of the time...just to see her laugh. At least, that's my story.

Today, we're going to our favorite local restaurant to meet Jody's dad for lunch. We do it once every year and the kids are really looking forward to it.

Only 2 1/2 days left here and then we will drive to Augusta to visit my family. Wow. Time is flying by.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday in the Country

The kids are loving our time here in Georgia. They've been hanging out with cousins, wrestling with their uncle, and eating like they've been stranded on a deserted island for a month.

Caleb, Abby and I walked down in the woods to the pond @ the back of my in-laws' land. We pretended we were on an adventure and paddled the boat across the "large body of water". We then hiked down the "forbidden trail" and found the fortress of ants (a huge ant mound).

Next, we climbed into the Magical Tower (uncle Eric's deer stand), hiked to the field of snow (a cotton field), and then returned to the boat to get back home. It was so much fun, and I got to teach them how to row a boat @ the same time.

Now, onto our next adventure.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Walk Through Bethlehem

Tonight, 14 of our family members went to a local church's Christmas presentation called A Walk Through Bethlehem. It was really neat. It is a little village that they set up outside and you are toured through by a jewish person who has "returned to the city for the census".

You literally walk through the village with Roman Centurions approaching you asking why you are there. They are very mean and offensive. Much like 2000 years ago. One of them approached Jody and said "move it HAG". It took me half the tour to stop laughing. Fun stuff.

We had to wait 2 1/2 hours to go through. There were over 6000 people who registered. All this from a church that runs less than 1000 on Sunday.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Creating Friday

Here is the latest installment of The Church Office. This one is geared to promote our Christmas Eve Services on December 24, at 4:30 and 6pm. This one is just cheesy enough that you might enjoy it....I hope.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Abby's Audition

Well, we finally saw first-hand everything we had been warned about "the business". After Abby's initial interview, we received a callback for a "tv show". At the callback, we were led into a large room with loud music and video clips on a large flat panel television. The names Jessica Alba and Miley Cyrus were constantly being dropped as if this company had discovered them from sheer obscurity. In fact, the talent director, Andy, told us that he personally discovered Jessica Alba in a Ms. Fields Cookie store in 1996. He said that Abby had everything going for her that he had seen in Jessica in the beginning. "And we all know where that took her," he told us. However, in a day of great technology and this little thing we call the internet, we quickly discovered that Jessica Alba was already doing television in the early 90s. Therefore, his discovery of this "shy little girl" could not have taken place in 1996. She was already on her way to stardom by then with made for television movies and numerous other roles on her resume.

So, after their used car salesman pitch, they took us into a room to meet one on one with Andy. I was onto them by this point, and KNEW we were not going to fall for this one. But, I played along so that I could see the whole presentation. First of all, I felt it would be fun to their song and dance. Secondly, I wanted to know what to look for in the future.

They asked for $4500 to make Abby's dreams come true. When we resisted, they knocked it down to $2600. I continued to say "no". Furthermore, I compared them to such scam artists as John Robert Powers, and others. Andy seemed insulted and said that it hurt him for Abby that we would not pursue this for her. As if he was the end all for her potential success.

Two hours after we left, I received another call from Andy saying he would lower the fee to $1500. I told Andy "you're a crook and a manipulator, and I'm not falling for your scheme." For some reason, he hung up the phone after that comment.

For anyone out there with children who are interested in "the business", BEware of BE PRODUCTIONS . It is a scam.

On a brighter note, Abby has interviews with 2 "reputable" modeling agencies in January. So, we'll see where that takes us. For the record, we are only pursuing this because it is something Abby wants to do. So, instead of ballet dancing and gymnastics, we let her model.

Check back tomorrow. I'll have the newest installment of "the Church Office". That's right. It's back!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Immanuel Choir

The Immanuel Choir has been asked to lead in worship at MusiCalifornia '09. We will be leading worship with Geron Davis, Bradley Knight, and Derrick Johnson. I am excited anytime we have the opportunity to lead worship. But, it's always a little extra special when we get to work with our friends at MusiCalifornia. A big "thank you" goes out my buddy Scott Revo at Pinelake. Thanks for the recommendation to Brentwood-Benson.

So, mark that calendar and join us for MusiCalifornia in Pasadena, April 13-16, 2009. We will be there on Wednesday, April 15 in the evening. See you there!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bikes or Bust

My good friends @ Freedom Church in Acworth, GA are partnering with area businesses to help under privileged kids have a great Christmas this year. An event called Bikes or Bust has staff from the church living on a lift high in the air until their goal of 200 bikes is reached.

Those wishing to donate should visit www.jrlive.net. You can watch them live on the lift @ Bikes or Bust dot net .

Good job Freedom Church! I can't wait to hear the final results.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Early Christmas

This past Saturday, we had a full-blown Christmas @ the Bumgardner house. Why? Well, the reason is simple: we are going to Georgia for Christmas and can't take all of our gifts on the plane. So, we have to do Christmas early.

Our kids love it, because it means 2 Christmases for them. They got a WII, several games, and Rock Band. We absolutely love it. I will ty to post some video soon of our family rocking it out on Rock Band. Jody even has a mean head-bang going on when she jams on the guitar.

So, we're leaving our house to another family who will sit for us while we're gone, and we're going to the peach state to see our family. We're so excited. I will blog a little more often now that our schedule @ church is slowing down. I will also give some great updates from the road.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas Dessert Theater

I am blogging right now on my phone in the middle of a dress rehearsal for our Dessert Theater. Opening night is tomorrow and it runs through Sunday. Last year we saw dozens come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. We are praying for even greater results this year.

If you haven't gotten tickets yet, plan on being here Sunday night for the performance only show @ 5:30.

Monday, December 08, 2008

LA Auditions

Abby auditioned this weekend for a television show in LA. She did a great job. She was able to meet with the casting director, and was told she would get a call back. So, we're pretty excited. There were about 100 others who auditioned, so I'm not sure how many will receive call backs. With no experience, her chances are pretty slim to land the part, but the audition process is a great experience. She is loving it.

I'll give you some updates when we hear something new.

Go Abby!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Good Wife

Okay...now before you read this, you need to know that I am just the messenger. Don't shoot me! But, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share this with you. The following article was published on May 13, 1955 in Housekeeping Monthly. CLICK ON THE PICTURE OF THE ARTICLE below and it will open a page for you to read it in. Oh, to have lived in the glorious 1950s. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Immanuel Lights Hits the News

Some of the facts in the article below are not quite accurate, but for the most part, it is a nice article. The reporter's crowd estimation was a personal one not based on any count. But, to his credit, it is hard to estimate a crowd size in an open outdoor area. I'll post some other photos as I have an opportunity. Check out the link below for the Highland Community News Paper Article on Immanuel Lights.

Christmas Fun Facts

1) In Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer (1964), Santa's first stop is the Island of Misfit Toys.
2) Bethlehem, PA was established by German settlers on Dec. 24, 1741.
3) Joy to the World was also the title of a song by Three Dog Night.
4) in 1955, the most popular gift for boys was a coon skin hat. Wow. Somehow, that just doesn't compare to the WII.
5) O Holy Night was first sung at a midnight mass in Paris in 1847.
6) Eskimos consider whale blubber a Christmas delicacy.
7) The first Christmas card was printed in the US in 1875.
8) Western Missionaries introduced Christmas trees to China and Japan in the 19th and 20th centuries.
9) Holly is used at Christmas to represent the crown of Christ.
10) In the movie Frosty the Snowman, Santa tells Professor Hinkle to write "I am very sorry for what I did to Frosty" 100 zillion times. That sounds like a teacher I had in school.

Enjoy this entire Christmas season. Don't wait until it has passed you by. Make this Christmas a Christmas to Remember. And impress your friends and family with your incredible knowledge of Christmas Fun Facts.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Christmas Fun Facts

In honor of the 1st day of December I thought that I'd share some Christmas Fun Facts with you. I love to discover new things and thought you would as well.

1) The red-suited Santa with the white beard that we've come to know and love was first created by a marketing team member with Coca-Cola in the 1930s.
2) Children in Holland receive gifts in big wooden shoes at Christmas.(That doesn't sound too exciting to me.)
3) Jesus wasn't born on December 25. I know. I know.
4) The name "Santa Claus" is never mentioned in the story "The Night Before Christmas".
5) Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas" was based on a poem he wrote in the 1980s.

More fun facts to come throughout the month of December. I couldn't give you all my fun facts in one post.

Immanuel Lights Results

Last night was amazing. Immanuel Lights was a big hit. Mayor Penny Lilburn was wonderful in her welcome speech to the community. She said "I can't believe no one has ever thought of having a community Christmas tree lighting before. Leave it to Immanuel to provide such a thing for this community."

A very preliminary estimation of attendance is somewhere in the 2000 people range. From the stage I noticed a crowd of people on the balcony of the building trying to get a better view. Families had huddled together all over the area to see and hear. It was a very festive and electric atmosphere. I was so excited to see how many people came out for this event.

Even better results are that 4 people prayed to receive Christ. That's right. 4 people, that we know of, were saved at a Christmas tree lighting. How amazing is that!!!

I'll try to post some pictures later as I get them. Now, onto preparation for our 2nd Annual Immanuel Lights Christmas tree lighting in 2009!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Tonight is the Night

Alright. So, I know I've been obsessed with the Christmas tree lighting, but it is a hue undertaking to make something like this happen. One day I will share all the details with you. But for now, let me just say last night was our dress rehearsal. It was "fabulous".

The kids choir is so cute, the middle school choir is "throwin' down" and the high school choir is "off the chain". At least that's what they said.

The hot chocolate and cookies will be marvelous. So, start a new family tradition with us and be there tonight @ 6:30 for Immanual Lights.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving with your families and friends today. We had an amazing worship service last night and today was pretty amazing, too. Here was our menu:
Fried Turkey
Green Bean Casserole
Rice 'n Broccoli
Dressing (Jody's is the most amazing I've ever had)
Sweet Potato something
Mashed Potatoes
Mac 'n Cheese
Peanut Butter 'n Chocolate- Cheesecake
Pumpkin Cheesecake
Pumpkin Pie
Chocolate Chip Cookies

We got together with several other families for this heavenly feast. It was so good, but I must go purge now.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


When I was a kid, I spent the night pretty often @ my grandparents. My "mawmaw" love to play cards and boardgames with us. One of her favorites was a marble game called "aggrevation". It was the perfect name for the game. Just when you felt like you were getting the upper hand, your marble would be captured and you'd have to start over.

I've just experienced that same aggrevation with my blog. I haven't been able to log in. Anyone else have that trouble? So, I missed creating Friday with you last week. Sorry. I will try to make up for it in the days ahead.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sorry For the Lapse

I have had much going on lately, and to be honest, have just not thought much about blogging the past few days. So, I return today with some news. I just got home from a GREAT worship service with Johnny Hunt and the Immanuel Choir and Orchestra. It was an awesome night. Growing up in Georgia, I had the opportunity to hear Johnny Hunt preach A LOT. So, hearing him tonight reminded me of home. Go Dawgs!

And, here is a little tidbit that I bet most of you don't know. We have decorated our house for Christmas already. I know. I know. It's not even Thanksgiving, you say. But, my wife is hosting a Christmas party for all of the ministers' wives at Immanuel, so we had to have the house decorated for Christmas early. And I must admit. I kinda like it. Since we go to Georgia at Christmas, we never get to enjoy the tree and stockings for very long. So, this year, we'll get a couple of extra weeks of the twinkling lights and ornaments.

We had between 700 and 750 visitors this past Sunday. If you were there, then you know how amazing it was. A great day of worship. A great day of meeting new people. And a great day of investing in people's lives. Our friends that came with us are unchurched and lost. They have told me that they're coming back this week, and that next week they are bringing each of their parents. How awesome is that? Further evidence that what it takes to make a difference in people's lives is to invite. Invite everyone you come into contact with and your percentage of positive responses is bound to improve!

Saturday, November 08, 2008


This video is so funny. I haven't seen anything quite this funny in a long time. I was up late reading blogs, when I found the following video on my friend TODD LOLLIS' blog. I just had to share it. You have got to watch this thing. And, when you're done, check out Episode 4 of "The Church Office" in the previous blog.

Creating Friday

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Looking Ahead

While the end of 2008 is shaping up to be a very busy one, I have been in the process of planning some things for 2009 in recent days. There are many things on the horizon for the Immanuel Choir, and I am so excited about the possibilities. I can't share details with you just yet, but as things begin to take shape, I will post them here.

There are some exciting days ahead at Immanuel!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A New Day

For better or for worse, we are entering into a new day as a country. No matter what you think of Barack Obama or his policies, he is our President Elect. Whether you voted for or against him, he will hold the most powerful office in the world. We, as a country, will have a new leader in January. It is what it is.

So, where do we go from here? Well, we press on knowing that our God is on the throne. We face the future with hope and assurance that victory is our's. We trust and obey, confident that God's Word is efficient. We are told in scripture that God holds even the king's heart in His hand, and He turns it any which way He chooses. Our Lord reigns. And, ultimately His plan and purpose will be worked out.

In local news, as I type this, Yes on Prop 8 is leading 54% - 46%. That is a good sign. Prop 4, which is also very important and would mean notification to parents or guardians in the event of an underage pregnancy before an abortion can take place, is still split 50-50. I hope to awake in the morning and find that both of these propositions have passed.

It has been a crazy and wild night. The election in 2000 was similar, but as a whole, tonight has been unlike anything I've ever seen before. How did you spend the evening and what are some of your thoughts?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Creating Friday

Episode 3 of "The Church Office"

Thursday, October 30, 2008

It's the Bus-i-i-est Time of the Year

There is so much going on at Immanuel right now that I hardly know where to start. So, follow the list:

1) Harvest Festival is tomorrow night. It is definitely one of the biggest events of the year. We will see 10,000+ on our campus. Big night. Big rewards.
2) Johnny Hunt - Wednesday, November 12, 6:30pm - Johnny Hunt, Pastor of First Baptist Woodstock, GA, and President of the Southern Baptist Convention will be with us and preaching in our Wednesday Worship Service.
3) Thanksgiving Services - Wednesday, November 26, 6:45pm, we will celebrate the Lord's Supper together and return "thanks" to the Lord in this sweet time of worship. Be here with your family to celebrate Thanksgiving with ours.
4) Immanuel Lights - A Community Christmas Tree Lighting - Sunday, November 30, 6:30pm. This is our very first year for Immanuel Lights. The Mayor has RSVP'd, along with several other city councilmen and women. We are canvassing our Highland neighborhoods to invite people out for this fun family event. Great music, food, a tree lighting, and a special guest appearance by one of Christmas' favorite animated stars. Hint: he is really cold. (And Todd Lollis, no it's not V.)
5) Our annual Christmas Dessert Theater is December 11-14. Get your tickets now. This is an awesome event. Mucho fun!
6) Christmas at Immanuel - Our Christmas Eve services are great. The entire service is compacted into 30 minutes, and there are 2 to choose from. Wall to wall energy, music, and excitement. There's no better way to spend Christmas Eve than this.

Don't miss a moment of Life @ Immanuel.

Monday, October 27, 2008


There is only 1 week left until the election that will shape the future of our country. I vote by mail so I have already voted. One thing I hate about voting that way is that I don't get that cool sticker that everyone else gets to sport around on election day that says "I voted". So, no sticky little fashion statements for me. But, I digress.

We have actually been invited to an election party that night. We're not sure if we're going. Due to kids needing to go to bed. But, we will be glued to the news watching the results.

So, find out the truth about the candidates and the PROPS and VOTE!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My Recommendations

So, Christmas is coming up soon. That little piece of wisdom goes out to all of you who wait until the last minute to shop. Along those lines, I have had people from time to time ask about gifts to give people. Some ask about great Christmas CDs. And, let me just tell you. If you want a great Christmas CD, don't wait until Christmas to buy it. That leaves you, or the person you bought it for, NO TIME to enjoy Christmas music. Get it now and enjoy it through the season.

Others ask about good books I've read lately and want to know what I recommend. So, I have partnered with AMAZON.COM to throw my recommendations out there to you. You know...for those of you who want them. You can also tell a lot about a person by what he/she reads or listens to. So, check me out in the carousel above. If you see something that interests you, just click on it's image and it will take you to AMAZON.COM to see more about it, and how you can purchase it.

I have enjoyed EVERYTHING I have ever purchased from AMAZON, so I am completely confident in recommending their services. As I hear a new CD that is great, or finish a great book, I'll post them in MY RECOMMENDATIONS at the top of the blog. So, always check that out when you visit and see what great things are out there that I think you should try. Often times it's overwhelming to go to a site and not really know what you want. So, go through the carousel "to a mystical world of literacy".

You can always post your own reviews on here as well. If you read a book or listen to a CD on this page, give me your review. I'd love to know what you think!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


If you live in California, then you know about PROPOSITION 8...unless you live in a hole somewhere and never keep up with current events. For those of you who do not live in California and are unaware of what PROP 8 is, let me clue you in. We are in a major battle in the state of California. We are urging everyone to vote YES ON 8 to establish, by law, that the state defines marriage as being between one man and one woman, only. The people voted for that in 2000 but 4 supreme court judges threw out that vote and overturned the decision of the people.

The homosexual agenda is a brutal one. I have had YES ON 8 signs torn up and stolen out of my yard. People have been assaulted for distributing material for the proposition. This is what happens when people look at things through the eyes of sin. As goes California, so goes the nation. Please pray that God will be honored through the passing of this vote.

I have heard from Christian and non-Christian alike that the church should not be involved in politics. Personally, I feel that if the church had stood up when prayer in school was being attacked, we would not be fighting this battle today. As the church, we need to stand up and influence this country and its laws for the Gospel of Christ.

Lovin' It

So, I've gotten a lot of mileage out of my birthday this year. The Worship Staff took me out to lunch today to Chili's...my choice. It was great. We all had a good time hangin' together. I love to hang out with my staff. They are a lot of fun to be around.

And, what makes this time of year even better? Well, I'm really getting HEAVY into Christmas. I've been listening to Christmas non-stop all day today. I am getting things lined up for Immanuel's Christmas Eve Services. We will have services at 4:30 and 6pm on Christmas Eve, and the Immanuel Choir and Orchestra will be leading at both. We are getting into some Christmas music this week in rehearsal, and will have fun doing it.

How can you not love this time of year?

Merry Christmas!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Change of Plans

Alright, so I changed my mind from my last post. I will still be featuring video footage on Friday, but it will instead be Episode 2 of The Church Office. I'm posting the 50s Film Strip today.

Do you remember those crazy videos we used to watch in school? You know, the ones that always seemed like they were shot 50 years ago with some very outdated equipment. Well, the reason for that was...well...that they were. And, they always had the cheesy music and voice over to go along with them. Well, at Immanuel, we've recreated that video, but with an emphasis on evangelism.

Our Pastor was preaching a sermon on "Inviting Others" to church. He was equipping us with tools to reach our neighbors, friends, family, etc...and getting them here to church. But, before you can know "what to do when inviting others" you have to understand "what NOT to do when inviting others to church". Larry Wheeler, our in-house video director (and king of anything Mac), developed this video. Good Stuff. So, sit back, relax, get out your pencils boys and girls, and lets flash back to those school days together.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

End of the Week

I have seen such a great response from people concerning "the church office" video on my previous post, that I've decided to start featuring some creative element ideas that we have toward the end of each week. Each week I will post a video, stage setup pics, or a creative element idea that we are using in worship to help spark ideas of your own and to give you some new ones. So, check back each Friday to see what we're up to.

Next Friday we'll be featuring a 50s Film Strip video that you are going to want to see. I'll explain more later!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Church Office

With so many events going on at Immanuel, however do we promote everything? The answer? The Church Office. The Church Office is a 4 week promotional video that follows the idea of television's comedy hit THE OFFICE. We are not trying to impersonate any of the characters from the show. We are simply giving you, the viewer, an unrealistic, over-exaggerated behind the scenes look at the happenings in The Church Office at Immanuel. This is episode 1, "The Candy Man", and will air in the 10:45am service this Sunday. Tell your friends!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


My kids love bedtime stories. But, not the kind you would read in a book. They want me to make up a story, on the spot, "not about us or anyone we know", and "not a story we already know". Well, talk about demanding kids. Can't you just be satisfied with a story from a sweet little bedtime story book that's already written and proven with kids from multiple generations? But...I digress.

Over the years I have come up with some pretty awesome stories. Sometimes these stories are in song, and are funny in nature. Other times, these stories are based on fairy tales, but have a twist at the end. The twist usually comes as a result of me forgetting exactly what happens in the real story. But, that seems to be what my kids like best anyway, so I still have my job as storyteller.

However, other times, these "made up on the spot" stories don't turn out so good. Last night, I was asked by Caleb to tell a story. "But, not about anyone we know, or me, or any other real story." So, I was left scrambling. I went into song, because that's what I do....good or bad....if I'm going to fall on my sword, I am going to be singing something while grasping for a rhyme.

So, I went into song about a 7 legged beast that walked into town one day. The beast approaches people's homes to chat with them, but everyone hides behind their couches and in their closets. They are all scared of the awkward creature. Each day he is greeted by the same reaction. Until one day as he was walking down the street, he saw a shadowy figure off in the distance. As he got closer, he realized it was another 7 legged beast. They fell in love and lived happily ever after.

Caleb's reaction: (laughter....pause.....laughter.....pause...thinking....wheels turning) Wait. That's gross. Please tell me they didn't kiss.

First story (song) of the night - C-.

Next, I was putting Abby down for the night. I could hear Jody singing karaoke in the other room and wanted desperately to get in there to show her how it's done. But, I was met head on with another story request. (I'll elaborate on the karaoke thing in a future blog.)

I decided to go a different route this time and avoid the song and dance. So, I came up with the story of the Ugly Princess. I cleared my throat and the adventure began.....

Once upon a time, there was a princess. And this princess was uuuugggggglllllyyyyyy. I mean to tell you, she was so ugly that when people saw her, they went (make screaming noise). I mean, she was so ugly that when you saw her, if you didn't already have bad eyesight, you wished that you did. She was (as we say in the south) rurnt. She was tore up from the floor up. (Abby laughs - good sign - then says "daddy, you're mean" - bad sign).

Ummmm, okay.

So, one day the princess went into town. (All of my characters seem to go into town at some point. Give me a break. I'm making this stuff up on the spot.)
When she walked down the street people would scream when they saw her. Others just had to stare because she was so ugly.

One day, when the princess walked down the street, she saw a little puppy in need. The puppy was very hungry and was being treated bad by all of the townspeople. So, the princess picked up the puppy and held it tight. She kissed it, and loved it. And, soon found it some food and water. But, the princess wasn't done. She was gonna give those people a piece of her mind.

So, the princess walked back into town. Amidst the screams and the scurrying of the people.... ("Daddy, what does a miss mean?" Uhhh....just listen. I'm almost done.) So, while people ran around screaming, she yelled out...."may I have your attention please." Everyone stopped to hear what the ugly princess had to say.

"For years now, you have all screamed and ran away from me because you find me less than appealing.....well.....okay, I'm ugly, okay. I'm not easy on the eyes. But, you have treated me so bad, that it has really hurt my feelings. I am just like you on the inside. And, because of your treatment of the little puppy that I've decided to name UGA (that's for the University of Georgia...go dawgs), I want you to know that you are the true ugly ones. You have shown your true character by the way you treat others."

And from that day on, the ugly princess was known as the Beautiful Princess because of her inner beauty....but, she was still rough to look at.

The End.

If any of you need stories written for your kids, let me know. I'm thinking about posting some on ebay soon and would be honored to terrorize a few of your kids.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Church Office

We just shot 4 of the 5 episodes of "the church office" comedy sketch today. Tony Burton made a guest appearance, and was hysterical. The purpose of "the church office" is to promote several events that are going on in the church through the remainder of the year. Because it's very media driven and edgy, we are only showing it in the 10:45 contemporary service. We will promote the events in the 9am service, just not in this new format. They will continue to be promoted in announcements, skits, etc. I can't wait to see the footage. It's going to be great....hopefully!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Ring the Bells

Travis Cottrell's new Christmas Album featuring (Jeff Bumgardner) Natalie Grant, (Jeff Bumgardner) Great Arrangements (Jeff Bumgardner), and a Christmas Choir (starring Jeff Bumgardner) is finally available. I am working to get some in the church bookstore at Immanuel. You can read an article about it HERE . Check it out. This Christmas album (and Jeff Bumgardner) is apparently giving goosebumps to millions.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

I Love Fall

I absolutely love this time of year. I love the fall(hence the title of this blog)! I love going in stores and seeing all of the fall decorations all around. I love to feel that cool, crisp weather. I love the fact that I can feel Christmas on the way. And, my BIRTHDAY just so happens to be in the fall. OCTOBER 16 to be exact. Yes. My BIRTHDAY on OCTOBER 16. It is nice having a BIRTHDAY in the fall...especially on OCTOBER 16. I never know what is in store on MY BIRTHDAY. Sometimes I get CARDS WITH LOTS AND LOTS OF MONEY in them. Sometimes I get PRESENTS from sweet, sweet, God-fearing people. Usually, people who don't love the Lord are the ones that don't give me presents on my BIRTHDAY on OCTOBER 16. I love fall.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Natural Disasters

I am a southern boy. I must admit it. I was born and raised in Georgia, which just so happens to be in the south. Get the connection? Okay. Good. So, I grew up understanding what rain was. Of which we see very little in Southern California. Also, I have a firm understanding of what it means to be under a tornado warning.
But, last night took the cake. (mmmmm, cake. I just had a craving.)

I don't make it a habit of falling asleep on the couch, but last night it happened. I had just sat down to watch a little UFC action that I had recorded. I hit the play button, and that's all I remember. The next thing I know I am awaken by the couch shaking around. I sat up, only to feel the floor shaking, too. It soon stopped, as the realization set in that we had just had an earthquake. Remember the Chino Hills quake back in July? Well, this one was only a 4.1, but it was closer to us. So, we felt it.

Again, I'm used to storm warnings and things of that sort, but you're not going to turn on the weather channel and hear about an earthquake that's going to rumble your area beginning at 3 this afternoon. There's no warning. Just the shaking. Pretty interesting. Kinda exciting. I just don't want too much excitement. A few seconds is one thing, but a life altering quake would not be so good.

Funny Stuff

Okay...you've got to check this video out. It makes me laugh. Hard.

Great Site

I found this new site about a month ago and thought I had blogged about it. But, apparently not. So, I wanted to let you know about it so that you too, could have a little fun with pictures of yourself. What else is there to do online but read this blog. This site allows you to upload your own picture and position your face into their picture. It's kinda a play on the old carnival cutout faces boards. However, it creates your picture to look like a yearbook photo. You choose the pic you want in 2 year intervals, from 1950 - 2000. So, there you go. I've placed a few pics of my own for your amusement. Go check it out and have fun with it. Comment below to let me know which pic of mine you like the best.


Monday, September 29, 2008

I Love This Show

Okay. It's no secret. I love "the office". It's one of my favorite sitcoms. If you are a fan of the show, you will enjoy this scene. If you have never watched the show before, check out the following clip. I think you will become a fan!


Thank you so much for praying for Caleb. I posted a while back that we were having test done for him. It was an EEG. Quick Recap: when Caleb was younger, he had seizures pretty regularly. After 2 years of medication, the seizures had stopped. So, the recent EEG was to make sure they were not reoccurring.

GOOD NEWS! No more seizures. We are so thankful. Thank you for praying for him. It really means a lot to our family. I guess he's just a......normal.....kid? Hmmm....

Very Disappointed...But, Christmas is Coming

So, how does USC lose to an unranked opponent with a losing record and still end up ranked ahead of Georgia. Georgia lost by 11 points to the number 8 team in the country. What are the voters thinking?

On a different note, we have already been buying Christmas presents. I LOVE this time of year. We have bought a few things for the kids, and they are already talking about what we're going to be doing this year on Christmas day.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

That's Right

I couldn't think of a title for this blog...so, don't hurt yourself trying to figure out what it means. It is no secret (I don't think). I am a fan of The Office. The season premier was last night, and I am so excited that it is back. So, in honor of the new season, Immanuel is casting for The (Church) Office. The Church Office will be a 5 week series that gives viewers a "behind the scenes", over-dramatized and very inaccurate look at what goes on in the offices at Immanuel on a daily basis. The purpose is to use the show (which will air in both Sunday services beginning October 12) to promote the wide array of events and ministry opportunities going on at Immanuel over the next 3 months.

Jason Barker (new min. of ed.) and I are writing the script. Our media guys, Larry and Byron (who have their own "office-like issues) are shooting and editing, and I can't wait to see the finished product. This will either be a huge success (please Jesus), or I will be looking for another job.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Banks Glass

A friend of mine, Shaun Glass, has a 4 year old son named Banks. Banks had RSV when he was little, and is still having a lot of complications from it. His respitory system has never fully recovered. Please pray for this little guy, and for his family. They're more than concerned at this point. I'll give you updates as I get them.

So Nervous

So, tomorrow is Saturday. What does that mean this time of year? You guessed it...college football. USC lost (yea), which opens the door for Georgia (which should have never been closed since they have done nothing but win). Georgia just has to win. They have a HUGE game against Alabama, and it's gonna be tough. Georgia schedule for the season is daunting, so we have to take it one game at a time. Go Dawgs!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wellness in the Work Place

We've started a wellness program for the staff at Immanuel. I think it's a good idea, but I'm eager to see how many people stay with it. At this point, it's entirely optional. Our ministerial staff was in charge of leading the first session. It happens to be on "Stress". So, each minister has been given the charge of researching and teaching the staff about how to deal with personal and work related stress. Along with that, we have church-shaped stress balls for each person who attends, MAIN SQUEEZE brought by free health smoothies, Shelly Scarborough, an Immanuel Member and Medical Message Therapist, is here giving 20 minute message sessions to each person attending, and we are doing a drawing for some door prizes from Bed, Bath and Beyond . All in all, pretty cool stuff. It is exciting to see community businesses such as Shelly's, Bed, Bath and Beyond, and Main Squeeze get involved.

I feel less stress already....sorta.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

UGA Wins!

I loved this game. Sun Devil Stadium was pretty cool. But, the coolest part was that the Dawgs dominated, despite 104 yards in penalties (What was that all about?). Here are a couple of pics from the game. Me and Mark Rush hung at the game. Thanks for driving, Mark. Awesome day! Go Dawgs!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Go Dawgs!

I am so excited. Tomorrow is the big day. My Georgia Bulldogs are playing in Sun Devil Stadium against the Arizona State Sun Devils in Tempe, AZ...and I am going to the game. That's right! I will be right there in the middle of the Georgia fans rooting on my boys. Look for me on ABC. I will be the one with the Georgia Hat on. Help me out...I'm not sure which hat to wear. Black, Red, or Khaki? Cast your vote in the comments below to help me decide.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Abby Cat

So, our 6 year old, Abby, is a character. She makes us laugh. I'm not talking about the common chuckle, or even the on going cackle. I'm talking about the milk-spewing from the nostrils, I can't believe she just did that, stop it my sides are hurting, I can't take it no 'mo kind of laughing. She is hilarious. Her middle name is Catherine (after her mother), so we affectionately call her Abby Cat.

Well, 'ole Abby Cat wants to be a model. She loves to pose and be the center of attention. I have NO idea where she gets that from. Surely not either of her parents. Surely.

We just found out that FORD MODELING in Los Angeles has narrowed down a group of kids for a modeling contract with their agency. Abby is in the final 25 kids being considered for this honor. Now, before we get ahead of ourselves, the reality is that it is a long shot in the dark. Not only does the kid have to beat out others with tons of experience against her "no experience", but she has to be what they need right now. We've learned in recent months that it's not whether a kid CAN model, but instead what the agency needs. If they have other blond-haired blue-eyed kids, she won't go very far. However, if that's what they need the most, then she has a better shot. What an honor it would be to be with this agency. If they could just meet her once, I know they would be passing her a contract across a table covered in spewed out milk while grabbing their aching sides. (ref. above paragraph)

So, I thought we'd celebrate the top 25 with this blog while we have the chance. Congrats Abby Cat. Keep looking like your mother and you'll go far.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dancing Baby

Our two year old, Ella, is hilarious. She is one of the funniest little girls you could ever meet. Tonight, we were all sitting around the dinner table talking about our day when she broke out. We always have music playing while we eat, so it's not unusual for heads to be bopping about while we chew. However, tonight Ella took it to a whole new level.

As she chewed, she mixed a head bop with a shoulder twist that sent us all over the edge. But, what was the real kicker was as the music grew softer and slowed she went into a slow motion of her new move. All of a sudden, the music kicked back into full groove...and took Ella with it. We're gonna be cleaning up the spewed mac-n-cheese for weeks. I love these crazy kids.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Midnight Snacks

I don't know what they will be, but Jody and I are sitting up until midnight tonight with Caleb. Yes, we are letting our 8 year old stay up on a school night until midnight. And, NO, we're not crazy. When Caleb was younger he had seizures on a pretty regular basis. Seizures come in many forms, and his were hard to diagnose. He would just "space out" and be absent for anywhere from a few seconds to a couple of minutes. No reason. No rhyme.

He's been spacing out in school, so we're taking him for an EEG tomorrow. They want him extremely tired for the test, so they've instructed us to keep him up until midnight and to get him up at 5am. Jody is planning on taking him to IHOP at 5am. Have fun. Just don't let the door slam! (I'm sleeping)

So, please be in prayer for Caleb as we investigate to find out what's going on. He is at the top of his class in testing in every subject. But, he's not able to finish his work in class due to his "spacing out". So, his grades are not where they should be. But, he's an awesome kid. God's been good to us. I'll let you know when we find out what's going on. Thanks for your prayers.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Very Travis Christmas

Okay....maybe it's true. I have a man-crush on Travis Cottrell. But, I'm okay with that. Seriously, Travis' Christmas album hits the stores in mid-October. A friend of his was at the recording session in Nashville with us when we recorded the choral tracks. With her camera in hand, she shot some footage from inside the soundbooth. You can check out her blog at Boomama dot net . Check it out below, and don't forget to get your copy of Travis' Christmas album. It is pretty incredible!

Travis' Christmas CD from on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Great Rehearsal

I just got home from rehearsal tonight and I'm pretty worn out. But, it was a great night. The choir sounded amazing tonight. I love their heart and willingness to do anything for God's glory. Thank you guys for the privilege to serve next to you week in and week out. You're awesome!

I also had the Worship Band rehearsal tonight. Another great one! The stage for the 10:45 service will be different...again. We will also have a worship choir in place on stage. What is a worship choir you ask? Well, it's a choir full of worshipers leading others in worship. However, this one is a smaller, 24 voice choir, that will be leading with us in the contemporary service. They sound amazing!

We are going to be introducing a new song called "Revelation Song". You do not want to miss this one. It is amazing!

Okay....I'm going for 6 uses of the word amazing in this blog, so I have to get the word amazing in again. How else will everyone know how amazing this Sunday is going to be if I don't? You've gotta be there at 10:45 this week. Bring a friend. Bring several friends. Immanuel will grow and will reach this community for Jesus if you invite people. Invite everyone you come into contact with. If you do, your percentage of those who take you up on the invite WILL increase. Bring your family. It is going to be......uhh....really really good. (amazing)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Did You KNOWshon?

If you don't know by now, let me just tell you how big of a Georgia Bulldog fan I am. That's the University of Georgia Bulldogs! Knowshon Moreno is their starting Running Back, and is a Heisman hopeful for this season. In only his sophomore year, he is already having an impressive season. Check out this video footage from this past Saturday's game.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Worship - Good

We just came through our second Sunday with the new worship schedule. Numbers from week one show that we were up over 200 people...and on Labor Day Weekend, too. I guess curiosity is one reason to go to church for some. Week two say numbers stay consistent. Now, we don't make changes like this for numbers' sake. However, every number is a soul. And, we find joy in knowing that there are more people now hearing the preaching of God's word and being a part of the Church worshiping on a weekly basis.

Speaking of worship, the new worship band in our 2nd service will be playing at Discover Highland this Saturday. We will have 2 different sets. Come out and support what they are doing. The purpose? Well, to promote the new worship services, but more importantly, for people to hear music about Jesus. Good enough reason for me.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Fall Evaluations

We are going through staff evaluations right now within our worship staff. It has been very humbling. Although I am in the supervisor role and am evaluating my staff, I believe that you can't evaluate someone else's performance without first taking a look at yourself. While there are a few things that are tough to talk through, on the other side our staff is going to be stronger and more effective. If we're not willing to look at our weaknesses in light of our strengths, we can't truly grow as an individual.

Speaking of weaknesses, I'm very upset with College Football Pollsters this morning. But, I'll save that for another blog.

Monday, September 01, 2008

A Great Kickoff

Yesterday was the kickoff for our new worship schedule, and it was a great one. I'm excited to see what our attendance numbers were. It looked as though the crowd was up. I heard several comments yesterday about the new contemporary service. One lady said "that was by far the sweetest worship service I've ever been a part of." Another said "wow. That was the most powerful service I can remember ever being to." It wasn't that something amazing happened. Instead, it was a connection that these people had. It was a worship service that was designed with specific people in mind. And, apparently, the connection was made.

I'm so excited to see what the results will be over time. Invite friends. Invite everyone that you come into contact with. This is why this service was created.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Healer, Part 3

If you have been reading this blog over the past couple of weeks, you have no doubt heard the news surrounding the song "Healer", written by Mike Guglielmucci. Below is a link that will take you to a statement that his father read on his behalf to their church in Australia. I pray that we will one day hear of the victory that has come out of this. The lyrics of the song still hold true. Let's pray that God will be the "Healer" in this situation for Mike, the church, and his family.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Jeff For President

My staff recently told me that I should run for President of the United States. I laughed at first. But, with my interest in politics, and desire to make this country and world a better place, I have decided to do it. So, I've waged a campaign. I think with your help, we can do it. Check out the following video for more information on how you can help me become the next President of the United States.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I Can't Wait

So, I'm getting really excited about the start of College Football. My Georgia Bulldogs have been ranked #1 in the AP Preseason Poll, as well as the USA Today poll. Not that a preseason ranking means much in the end, but it does say that 'the dawgs' are finally getting national recognition as a premier program. This Saturday is the start of something huge. Man, I hope they can go undefeated and be in the National Title Game.

Pray with me now -----Lawd, let the Bulldogs win the national title this year as they destroy everyone that they come into contact with, crushing their faces, and annihilating them in Your Holy Name, Amen.

Go Dawgs!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Jeff and the New Breed

Okay...Okay...it doesn't have the same ring as "Israel & the New Breed", but then again, what does? (For those of you who do not know who that band is, repent...then look them up on itunes.) However, we have been rehearsing with the new band for the 10:45 services...and they sound amazing. I am so excited about the new 10:45 worship service beginning August 31st.

Our set list looks like this:

Everlasting God
Your Grace is Enough
Mighty to Save

The next week we're going to be introducing Tomlin's new "Jesus Messiah". If you haven't heard this song, again...itunes. And on the 14th, we are doing Travis Cottrell's arrangement of "Revelation Song." I am living with this song right now. You know how certain songs just become your anthem for a period of time? Well, that's where I am with "Revelation Song". Again...itunes.

Make sure you are in place on the 31st. I've been meeting with the Creative Team at Immanuel (yes, it's a new team). They've helped to plan out a couple of sermon illustrations that will help you grasp the scripture, and that will have you thinking back on this message for a long time. We'll see you on the 31st!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My New Christmas Album

My new Christmas album will be out in mid-October. You can find it under the name of Travis Cottrell. I guess technically, it is his new Christmas album, but I am on it. Even though my voice is mixed with about 40 other people...it's still my vocal prowess and intellect that landed me on this latest project. Even though our "friendship" is probably being used by Travis as a guise to lure me into recording with him in an attempt to sell more CDs, I am okay with it. In fact, I'm used to it. (I know...I know...I'll be okay.)

And, I've just found out today that one of his new friends has asked to sing on the CD...probably in an attempt to link her name to mine in a "6 Degrees" sort of way. Check out TRAVIS' BLOG for the secret identity to this amazing vocalist who will be singing a duet with Travis on the CD.

Christmas is only 18 weeks away! While that may seem far away to some of you, think about this...the Christmas season can actually start as soon as you want. My family and I put on Christmas music in September.

Yep. I know.

Healer - Part 2

I really wish there was not a part 2 to this story. However, I recently posted a blog featuring a new song called "Healer". If you look, there are links to the back-story for the song, along with a video of the song itself. In the back-story, you can watch a video of the songwriter, Mike Guglielmucci, speaking of how the story came to be. If you haven't seen it yet, go check it out.

Today, it is with much sadness (and a little anger) that I tell you that it has come out today that the writer of this great song was faking his illness. Some reports out of Australia (his home country) say that he even pulled this over on his own wife and family. You can read more about it HERE .

I had been planning on using this song as a powerful tool in our upcoming Contemporary Worship Service Launch on August 31st. After hearing the news today, I have been second guessing that decision. After much thought and advice from others on my worship staff, I have decided to stick with the plan. How much more powerful are the lyrics of this great song in light of its writer needing spiritual "healing" and cleansing?

In spite of Mike Guglielmucci's dishonesty, the words of this GREAT song are still true and inspiring. In the midst of this horrible news, I believe God is offering forgiveness, restoration, and HEALING, and our church needs to celebrate in that.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bell Shoals

I was given a great gift last year with the invitation to join Metro One conference for music ministers. It's more than a conference. Instead, it's a community of servants who are in the same area of ministry that God has called me to. We communicate throughout the year with emails of encouragement, prayer requests, praises, and creative ideas. As a result of being a part of this awesome group, I have gotten to know many guys I had never met. Simeon Nix, Worship Pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church, was one of these.

The first time I met Simeon, he wrapped his arm around me and said "you're gonna love this group of guys. I'm glad you're here." Since, he has continued to be a great encouragement and friend.

Late Saturday night, Simeon had a major heart attack. This was his 2nd in 6 days, and proved to be too much. Simeon was pronounced dead around 1:15am, Sunday morning. My heart is broken for his family, for Bell Shoals, and for those whose lives he has impacted. Please pray for his wife, Beth, and their two children. Please pray for Bell Shoals Baptist Church who just lost their Pastor and his son to a plane crash earlier this year, and now their Worship Pastor. Pray that God will be glorified through the passing of one of His own.

To God be the Glory!

Thursday, August 14, 2008


If you have not heard the story behind the song "Healer", take a few moments and watch this video. It is amazing how the Lord chooses to work through different lives, all for His glory. This song has now become a cry from the heart of many who are suffering from different circumstances; be it physical or spiritual.


After you see the story you can link straight to the live performance of the song from that page, or you can click the following link that will take you to it:


Monday, August 11, 2008

Creative Team

We had a Creative Team meeting today to plan for the 31st. It was great. We came up with some pretty great ideas for our services and for application with Pastor's message. We will be in John 9 beginning that day, and it is going to be amazing. It's definitely something we, as a church, need in our lives right now. The 31st is also the day that we launch our first Contemporary Service at 10:45. The set list for that day is still in the works, but here is a glimpse of where we are right now:

Everlasting God
Your Grace is Enough
Mighty to Save
Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)

Sometime in the next few weeks we are going to be doing one of my favorite songs, God of This City. If you've never heard it before, get the new Passion CD. You are going to love it.

I can't spoil too much of the cool stuff that's going to happen that morning, but let me just say you don't want to miss it. Lighting, platform changes, the new band, video....well, you just have to be there.

August 31st...Identity!

You'll know what I mean once you see it.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


Check out the new Immanuel Student Worship Choir ministry BLOG. Here, you can find more information about SWC, ministry events, and more. After our kickoff on September 7th at 3:30pm, the blog will be updated regularly with pictures, ministry announcements, video, and more. Check back often!

Working It

I am so excited for my friends at Freedom Church in Acworth, GA. JR Lee and Todd Lollis are making it happen, and God is showing favor on them. Freedom Church is less than 8 months old, and already they are praying for 350 people to be in worship 2 weeks from now. They are doing all they can to love on the people of Acworth, to make a difference in the life of their city, and to point people to the Savior.

Join me and the people of Freedom Church as they pray for God to send them 350 people in 2 weeks. If you don't dream God-sized dreams, you won't see God-sized results!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


Our Student Worship Choir (grades 9-12) will be kicking off on September 7th at 3:30pm. This will be a huge kickoff party with free food, fun, and a preview of what this year has in store. There's a new name, there is new adult leadership coming on board with us, new music, and many new ministry opportunities ahead. Bring your friends and be there on Sunday, September 7th at 3:30pm. It is going to be awesome!

For those of you who love drama, our Student Drama Team will meet every Sunday from 4:30 - 5:15pm, immediately following worship choir. This team is separate from choir, but these groups will be working together on ministry events, including tour. If you are interested in joining the Student Drama Team, see Lisa Lyons for more information.

Be there on September 7th at 3:30pm for the all new Student Worship Choir!

Monday, August 04, 2008


When it comes to leading worship, the title of this blog says it all. And notice, the "i" is a lower case. It is not about me. It is about Him. We can say that all day long, but until it becomes a common practice, there is no truth in it. It can't be about us some of the time and about Him part of the time. The only reason we stand before His bride is because He has equipped us and allowed us to. It's His show. Make sure you're heart is right before you lead any group.

Our attitude can point people to the Savior, or it can't distract from the Savior. And, people can spot a phony. Be sincere. If you are going to lead others to be worshipers of Christ, you must be one on and off the stage. If you truly live the lifestyle you want others to believe you do, then your people will follow your leadership and true facilitation in worship will take place. This holds true for every person on the platform. From the 9th soprano from the right on the 3rd row of the choir, to the lead worshiper. Every person on that platform is a worship leader.

Live the life you portray on stage. Be real. Be honest. Honor the Lord with a sincere heart of worship, and He will bless your leadership.

Sunday, August 03, 2008


I absolutely love Sundays. Yes, it is a long and tiring day. But, I love it. Today, we auditioned for new praise teams. Everyone did a really good job. Much better than that one lady who showed up for rehearsals (at another church I served) with an 8x10 cross-stitched Amazing Grace that she got out of the music library to sing with. We introduced a new song tonight called Psalm 62 by Stuart Townend and Aaron Keyes. It is an amazing modern day hymn. If you haven't heard it, check it out on worshiptogether.com .

Saturday, August 02, 2008

New Worship Staff Member

I am excited about having our new Associate Media Director on board with us. Larry Wheeler served with me in Tennessee, and now we're together again in California. Larry is amazing with anything in the realm of video and technology. I'm so excited about having his leadership and intellect in this area of our worship ministry. Welcome Larry, Diane, Lauren and Ray! This is gonna be fun.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Immanuel High School Choir

The Immanuel High School Choir will be kicking off at 3:30pm on Sunday, September
7th. Sadly, after many years of service with the High School Choir, our own Connie Jones is saying goodbye to the ministry that she has served so faithfully. The growth, success, and ministry that we have come to know over the years through this choir has been as a result of her dedication and love for our students. She will be greatly missed. Also, Cindy Smith has stepped down after many years with the choir. She has been directing drama with the choir, but is now turning her attention to other areas of ministry. Thank you both for all of your hard work and dedication to these students over the years. Your shoes will be BIG ONES to fill.

However, we will do our best. This year, we are separating drama and choir. They will be two different entities. While they will work together on projects and tours, they will meet at separate times. So, you CAN be in one without having to be in the other. Although, we encourage you to participate in both if that is your passion. Lisa Lyons will be directing our high school drama, and it is going to be awesome. I personally, will be directing our High School choir and I can't wait to get started.

So, make sure you are in place for High School Choir on September 7th, at 3:30pm. Invite your friends and everyone you know to be a part of this exciting group. There are going to be many awesome events we will be working toward.

With that in mind, I NEED ADULT LEADERSHIP in major ways. I need adults to help with fund raising. I need help with leadership. I need help with chaperoning events. I need adults who are willing to be a part of rehearsals and simply sit with the students and sing the parts with them. This helps them learn the music more quickly and increases their confidence. You will NOT be singing concerts with them. They are on their own at that point. But, you will rehearse with them and help invest in them musically. If you are willing to help in anyway, please email me at jbumgardner@ibchighland.org .

I think this is officially the longest post I've ever put on my blog. Thanks for hanging with me.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Shake, Rattle and Roll

Yesterday was a major first for me. While it is true that I have felt a couple of earthquakes during our time in California, the 5.4 that I experienced was like nothing I have ever felt before. I was sitting at my desk in my office at church, and felt a rumbling under my feet. The rumble slowly grew more intense, and soon turned into an office shaking experience. I literally felt like the building was swaying back and forth at one point. It was amazing. Life in California sure is interesting. Fire season starts pretty soon.

Speaking of fire, a large portion of what we visited in Yosemite recently is now burning. Our timing sure was good.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Family Vacation

We recently took a trip to Yosemite. It was a lot of fun. The best part was found simply in just hanging out together. Here are a few pics of our adventure:

Here is Jody and her brother, Eric. We usually only see our family at Christmas, so this was a great treat to be able to spend time with them.

Abby found a giant pinecone!

This was one of our favorite overlooks at Yosemite. It was absolutely beautiful...and right at sunset, too.

Caleb and Ella, hanging out at the Santa Monica Pier. This was actually a few days prior to our trip north.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Kids Say the Darnedest Things

All of us have a story (or many stories) of crazy, funny things kids have said. Well, I am no different. The most recent one happened on our way back from Yosemite on Saturday. We stopped at a Bar-B-Que restaurant, which was awesome by the way, and Caleb decided he wanted ribs. He is a rib eating machine. As he was eating his ribs he said, "I wonder who invented ribs?" "God did", I said. "In fact, he has given you ribs, too. And, when He created Eve in the Garden of Eden, he took a rib from Adam to make her." Caleb stopped his gnawing on the rib that he held in his sauce covered fingers. As he slowly turned his head to look at me, I could see the strange look on his face. "Yeah. That's spooky", he said. "That's just really spooky."

I laughed and laughed and laughed. In fact, as I sit here typing, I am laughing some more. I guess it is kinda spooky when you think about it. Can you imagine witnessing that operation? Spooky indeed.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I'm Back!

We're back from Yosemite, and yes, we did have a good time. All of Jody's family have gone back to Georgia and we're left with a messy house, tired bodies, and great memories. I'll post some pictures soon. We took lots of them.

We're in VBS all week this week and I'm looking forward to it. I can't wait until Friday when we hear how many kids have given their lives to Christ this year. I am teaching some Bible lessons, a few songs, and just hanging with some of the people the rest of the time. It's going to be a great week.

I've got a couple of stories to share with you over the next couple of days, so check back. And I'll post those pics when I get a few minutes, too!

Monday, July 14, 2008


I'm really going to miss my choir for the next couple of weeks. With VBS coming up next week, the choir will not be singing for the next 2 weeks due to sets and stuff. So, the choir has 2 weeks off. No rehearsal again until the last Wednesday in July. Enjoy your break Immanuel Choir....but be faithful to return. I'll miss hangin' with you.

Birthday Party Extravaganza

Last night we had a birthday party extravaganza. "What is that" you ask. Well, I'll tell you. Because our family lives on the east coast and we live on the west coast, we are not able to be together for birthdays. So, Jody's parents began this tradition of having all of the kids' birthday parties at one time when they are together. With Jody's brother's two kids, that makes for 5 grandkids together last night for the Birthday Party Extravaganza. We grilled out (or for our west coast friends, we bar-b-qued), we had homemade ice cream with fresh strawberries from our backyard, we had a talent show in which everyone HAD to participate, and we had presents for all of the kids. It was a great time.

So, what was my talent? Well, I told a knock-knock joke. "Knock, Knock." "Who's there?" "Amy Fisher." "Amy Fisher wh....BANG!"

I know. I know. Only the adults understood it. But, that's how I roll.

We leave tomorrow AM for Yo-sa-mighty. Good times. Good times.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Family in the IE

Jody's parents and her brother's family are all coming in today. We are picking them up at LAX around noon. I think we're going to hang in LA most of the day. I'm excited about having family around. Next week, we will be going to Yosemite (I pronounce it "yo-sa-mighty"). I have no idea what we are going to be doing there, but it will be fun to just hang out for a few days.

Monday, July 07, 2008


Something that has become pretty neat for me in recent months is that I have opened a facebook account. For those of you who don't know what that is, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? Facebook is an online site that allows you to connect with people from around the world. It is protected in the sense that no one can access your page without you approving them. I have reconnected with friends from high school and college that I haven't spoken with in 15 years. It's been great.

So, if you have a facebook account, request me as a friend. If not, create one, and then request me as a friend. I check out my account every 2-3 days. It's safe. It's fun. It's something else to do.

See you online!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

My Son - The Ninja

Caleb has progressed again on his quest to become a Ninja. He earned his Orange Belt. They had the Belt Promotion Ceremony for him and presented him with the new belt on Monday evening. This is a picture of Caleb with his Muay Thai coach, 'Smokin' Joe Sarkissian.

The Hymns

I love the hymns. I was raised on the hymns. In fact, in seminary I took many classes that were all about hymns; Hymnology. I enjoy history, as well. So, I will often times do little studies on the history of many of our hymns and hymn writers. One of the funniest things I've found lately is a little known hymn written by Isaac Watts. Isaac Watts is known for his preaching, writings, as well as his hymns. Such hymns are Joy to the World, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, Alas! And did my Saviour Bleed, At the Cross just to name a few. But, this one little hymn is so unlike any of the others. The title alone makes me laugh, but I've also included the lyrics below. They're deep (maybe a little too deep), but in light of the title, the lyrics become funny too. Check them out:

Blessed Is The Man Whose Bowels Move

1. Blest is the man whose bowels move,
And melt with pity to the poor;
Whose soul, by sympathizing love,
Feels what his fellow saints endure.
2. His heart contrives for their relief
More good than his own hands can do;
He, in the time of gen'ral grief,
Shall find the Lord has bowels too.
3. His soul shall live secure on earth,
With secret blessings on his head,
When drought, and pestilence, and dearth
Around him multiply their dead.
4. Or if he languish on his couch,
God will pronounce his sins forgiv'n;
Will save him with a healing touch,
Or take his willing soul to heav'n.

I have written a 5th verse that I think Isaac should have included:

5. One thing with prayer will heal your pain
Or take away whatever grieves 'ya,
So pluck it from your grocery shelf
And drink a little milk of magnesia .

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Denver and the Mile High Orchestra

Denver and the Mile High Orchestra are going to be at Immanuel tomorrow night. I am so excited. I love this group! They will be performing a Patriotic Concert and we will be honoring our military and their families.

We have been getting everything ready for weeks now, but most preparations are done in the final 24-48 hours. Since we are expecting these guys to minister to our people, we are going to do our best to minister to them. I know of so many churches that feel that since they are paying a group to come in, they should just be happy having a bathroom and a chair to sit in during their down time. I feel just the opposite. I want Immanuel to be the place by which they judge all other experiences. We are setting up their greenroom with snacks, couches, drinks, a WII game system, a sound system, etc. I want to give them a place to unwind all afternoon between sound checks and the concert.

If you want your people to minister to others, set the example!

It is going to be a great night tomorrow night. Be there and bring everyone you know!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Life is a Beach

On Friday, my family spent all day at the beach. When I say "all day", I mean "all day". We were there from 8:30 in the morning until 9 o'clock at night. We had a blast. Caleb spent all day in the water, and I spent much of the day with him. He is a natural boarder in the water. He picked it up immediately. As a result of an all day beach trip, I am toasted. But, it was worth it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Solution for High Gas Prices

Like most of you, our family is looking for solutions to the high gas issues we are facing. We have tried many different things. But, I think I've finally found the solution. Watch the following instructional video on how to save money on gas. I think you'll find it very interesting.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Nothing New Under the Sun

It seems that most every church has had a battle at some point over music. Some have waged wars of tremendous magnitude. While others have disagreed, implemented a plan, and moved on. Mark Celoria , a good friend of mine, has recently posted this on his blog about music in the church:

Several months back, my pastor preached a series on worship. There was an illustration he used that I'll never forget. He was talking about how many folks are opposed to what Christian songwriters are producing these days when he read this quote taken from a preacher's sermon:

“There are several reasons for opposing it. One, it’s too new. Two, it’s often worldly, even blasphemous. The New Christian Music is not as pleasant as the more established style. Because there are so many new songs, you can’t learn them all. It puts too much emphasis on instrumental music rather than godly lyrics. This new music creates disturbances making people act indecently and disorderly. The preceding generation got along without it. It’s a money making scheme and some of these new music upstarts are lewd and loose.”

To whom was this pastor referring?

He was referring to The Father of English Hymnody, Isaac Watts in 1723.

Yes, the same Isaac Watts that wrote, "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross", "Joy to the World" and hundreds of other well-loved hymns of our faith. Guess it goes to show that there really is nothing "new" under the sun!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Glorious Day

Every so often I come across a great song or collection that I become very passionate about. I tend to be attracted by songs that fit me; who I am, my worship style, etc. In recent years, many of those songs and collections have come from Travis Cottrell. Well, this one is no different.

I have been living with the collection Glorious Day recently, by Travis, David Moffitt and Sue Smith. I feel as though I am being led to the Throne in worship every time I put it on. I'm definitely bringing this to the people of Immanuel in the next few months.

Great job Travis! We've got to "hang" again soon and sing some 80s tunes.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


I love the weekend. Saturdays can be so much fun with my family. However, today was very tiring. We started the day off with 2 soccer games; one at 10am, and one at 11am. It was crazy. By 10am it was already 100 degrees. Mucho no fun-o. So, after sweating off about 13.6 lbs, I came home to rehabilitate...or hibernate...whatever you want to call it. Jody really wanted to go to Jaime and Jenna's wedding (congrats guys), so I stayed home with the kids to let her go. She always misses out, so I let her get out of the house and see what the real world was like. She liked it. I may be in trouble.

The kids and I played a game called "Champions of Faith". Caleb won it at church for doing something. Later, we read, did the potty-training thing with Ella, gave her a treat for doing well, applauded and danced about like crazy people because our little baby had used her tiny plastic pot. What a day!

I am now getting ready to watch the Ultimate Fighter Finale. I can't wait. 7 minutes and counting. Okay...gotta go. I need to make sure all of my snacks are ready.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Week Full of Meetings

Okay...so why is it that when you already have a Big Hairy Staff Meeting week planned, it is followed up by all of these other meetings? Why do those meetings not get spread out more than that? So, I've spent almost every waking hour (at the office) in meetings this week. It's those weeks that when it is all said and done, you look back and wonder "what did I accomplish?"

Okay, I'm through with my whining.

On to better thoughts: We are looking to make some changes this fall in our worship services. Changes aren't being made just for the sake of change. Instead, we are making changes in an effort to grow this church by reaching lost people. I think I've said that before, right? Well, I am getting really excited about the contemporary service that we will launch this fall. It is the type of service that we will have total creative freedom with. Media, lighting, sound, worship music, all of it and more will be creatively developed. Our desire is to win our younger generations to the Lord and fill this church with new believers.

Join with us in prayer as we seek the Lord for wisdom and discernment in our planning. We want to honor Him as we make an eternal impact in the lives of others.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Staff Retreat Day 2

And so it continues. Today, we will be in day 2 of this year's Immanuel Big Hairy Staff Meeting. What does today have in store for us? Here are some thoughts I have leading up to today:

1) I hope there will be more of those cookies.
2) I've never seen him in shorts before:o
3) His 3-5 minutes was over 23 minutes ago.
4) We left that conversation 30 minutes ago. How did that come back up?
5) Another bathroom break? Isn't this the 3rd one in 15 minutes?
6) When is lunch?
7) There's a great idea!!! (it doesn't matter that it was mine;)
8) I can't wait for choir practice.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Staff Meeting Day 1

Okay. So, we met all day at California Baptist University in Riverside. They hooked us up with a nice conference room, provided snacks, and lunch for absolutely NO COST. Thank you Jesus...and CBU! It was a very long day. I am mentally drained. I am emotionally exhausted. And, it has bled over into physical exhaustion. Sitting around a conference table ALL DAY LONG will drain you. So, I'm going to bed. I'll share more later. But, I'll leave you with this: We had some of the most awesome prayer time that I've ever experienced with our staff. Much needed. Interpretation for Rosa...muy necesito (is that one "s" or two?).