Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

As our family celebrates the birth of our Savior, we want to take the time to say Merry Christmas to you and your family. This year, we adopted a family and our kids got gifts for their kids. This family is struggling each day just to make ends meet. It was an AMAZING blessing to watch our kids light up as we bought things at the store for them. I think they got as excited to do that as unwrapping their own gifts this morning.

We have been incredibly blessed as a family. We have spent nearly a week with Jody's family in middle Georgia, and we're driving up today to spend a few days with my family in Augusta. This year has been even more special because the kids are a little older (at least our older 3 are) and they appreciate the chance to see all of their cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents even more than in past years. Jody's parents put together a family reunion so that we could see all of the family that lives scattered around the state. Our kids met cousins they hadn't seen in 4 years, and others they had never met. It was GREAT! Caleb and Abby had two of their cousins spend the night, and are planning on calling and writing on a regular basis.

I guess what I'm realizing even more is that FAMILY is what makes our annual venture to Georgia so special. It's not about punching a clock to say that we went home. But, it's something that is an investment in the ones we love, as well as ourselves. Our kids don't get that regular interaction with their grandparents on a regular basis. This trip home has been so important for them....and for all of us!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Caleb's Original

Caleb has really enjoyed learning to play guitar. We have seen him growing musically, and he has been showing some real talent in his natural rhythm and understanding of chord progressions. He seems to just have an ear for how chords work together. I posted a video below of his recital. He played a worship song called "Our God Saves", but in the video below, you will hear the first song Caleb has ever written. Though it's lyrically simple, keep in mind that he didn't just write the lyrics, but he also developed the melody line, a singable rhythm, and developed the chord progression used throughout the song. There are a lot of different things going on here. He is already asking me to co-write with him. I can't wait to get started on that! We're proud of you, Caleb! Stay focused and keep working hard.

"He Came to Earth"
by Caleb Bumgardner

Jesus, He came to Earth to save us
He washed away our sins
He washed away our sins

Jesus, He came to Earth to save us
He died and rose again
He died and rose again

He came to Earth to set us free
So we could live eternally

Jesus, He came to Earth to save us
He washed away our sins
He washed away our sins

Jesus, He came to Earth to save us
He died and rose again
He died and rose again

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Great Vacation

Some good friends of ours invited us to spend the week with them in Newport Coast. Although we were only able to be there for about 3 days, we had an amazing time. Our kids all get along well, so it was a lot of fun to hear them laughing and hanging out together. We are back now, getting ready for tonight's Thanksgiving Eve Service at Immanuel. It will be a great time of sharing together in praise. If you are in the area tonight make sure you come to this service. The Immanuel Choir and Orchestra will be leading in worship as well as a couple of feature songs, including testimonies and video. See ya there!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Difficulties in Sharing Christ

It is so easy to agree to the fact that Scripture says we are to "go and tell". But, when it comes to actually doing it, why do we get that nervous pit in our stomach and stutter in our voice? It happens to most all of us. I don't think the Lord ever expects us to be comfortable with obedience. But what He does expect is our obedience in the face of our uncomfortable situation.

Let's just be honest; if obeying was easy, we would all be perfect. Though none of us are, we do have access to the one Who is. Through obedience in sharing Christ we are investing in the Kingdom of God.

Stay faithful. Stay clean. And in the face of difficulty,  know that in our weakness He is strong.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My Sweet Abby Cat

Abby put this on the pillow next to me when she left for school this morning. She's so funny and creative. And yes, that's a pack of peanut butter crackers.

Red Robin Tuesday Night

We are celebrating the season's last basketball practice. Only one game left. Tuesday Night at Red Robin. We're actually sitting at the same table we sat at when we reveals to the kids that they were going to have a new baby sister. Now little Ava Drew is sitting here with us. Just not in this picture.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

UPWARD and So Forth

Today, Jody was up and out the door at 7:45am. She had a Women's Ministry Event and was teaching a class on "Preparing A Thanksgiving Meal on a Budget". So, I took the two little ones to childcare (we love these people who care for our kids! Thank you Jesus for them.) Then, back to get the two older ones off to their UPWARD Basketball Games. We had two hours of games, and it was hot. What's the deal? Why is it getting hotter now that Thanksgiving is approaching?

Monday, November 01, 2010

Harvest Festival and Visiting Parents

My parents attended the Immanuel Harvest Festival for the first time with us Sunday night. It was our first Halloween for our kids to spend with their grandparents. I loved having them with us and seeing our kids with them. Our Immanuel High School Worship Choir sang at Harvest Festival, and they knocked it out of the park. They were great! I couldn't have been any prouder of them. Good stuff!

If you have ever been to Immanuel's Harvest Festival, write me and let me know what your favorite Harvest Festival moment has been. Here are some of ours from this year:

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Rainy Saturday and Georgia Football

It was a rainy morning today. IT was great to wake up to the sound of the rain, but my day began at 7:45am, calling the parents of my basketball players to let them know our game was cancelled due to the weather. Today is the day of the Georgia/Florida football game. As I write this, Georgia has turned the ball over 3 times and Florida has scored 14 points off those turnovers. How can you win a game playing like that? Ridiculous.

I'm really excited about tomorrow. Worship in the morning, High School Choir rehearsal in the afternoon, and then the Harvest Festival! I can't wait. Our Student Worship Choir is singing at the Harvest Festival, as well. So, it will be a huge day. My parents and nephew will be at their very first Harvest Festival and seem to be excited to see what it's all about. We will be there with a ninja, a High School Musical Star, and 2 lady bugs.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Perform With Mass Choir in New York City

I was so blown away by our opportunity to sing at Carnegie Hall earlier this month. It was one of the top 5 experiences I've ever had. In fact, it was such top quality and put together so well that I've decided to help assemble a mass choir for a concert next June.

The dates are June 9-13. The concert will take place at the famous Lincoln Center in beautiful New York City. This choir will have the honor of singing with Larnelle Harris, Steve Green and Steve Amerson.   Choirs of 6-9 people helped to make up our mass choir at Carnegie. So, don't feel like you don't have enough people to make it happen. If you'd like more information, email me at Your people will never be the same after this experience. Guaranteed!

La Familia

My parents are in town this week. We are so excited to have them here. Our nephew came with them. So, we're planning to have lots of family time while they're here. This weekend, they'll get to experience their first Immanuel Harvest Festival. The kids are really excited about that. Hopefully, I'll get to post some pictures next week of their costumes. Pretty Cute stuff!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

State Convention and FOCM

I am now in Fresno, CA, for the Fellowship of Church Musicians and the California State Baptist Convention this week. I will be on a panel tomorrow with my Pastor, Rob Zinn , discussing Pastor/Worship Pastor ministry relationship, and fielding questions on how to lead a church as a team. Beginning Tuesday, I'll be singing with a worship leading team in the worship services at the State Convention. So, it's a big week for the state, and for me personally. I love hanging out with my Pastor. So the car ride up was nice, and I'm looking forward to our conversations and just learning from him on the ride home later this week.

Somehow, I got a room on the 1st floor, facing the parking lot, on the end of the hall by the front door. I had better not hear a bunch of noise or have car lights shining in my window all night or someone is going to hear about it :-)

Friday, October 22, 2010

More New York News

After the concert at Carnegie Hall, the choir and Travis Cottrell and Melinda Doolittle, set sail in the New York Harbor for a little partying, food, and sight-seeing. It was the perfect ending to an amazing experience.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

New York Postings

New York was an amazing experience. We had the opportunity to sing at Carnegie Hall with two of my favorite vocalists, Travis Cottrell and Melinda Doolittle. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures or video in Carnegie Hall. As a result, the only pictures I have are of the city and some of our adventures. I will be receiving pictures from Carnegie's Photographer soon. When I get them, I will post some performance pics here. But, for now...

Jody and I went to see "Mary Poppins" on Broadway. It was so much fun, and it was the evening of my birthday.

Later, we decided to walk around downtown, and we went to one of our favorite Delicatessens in New York City. It is right in the center of all of the action in Times Square. And, the food is amazing!

I have other pics of Jody and myself that I'll post over the next couple of days. Check back also for those performance pics that I'll post as soon as I have them.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Going Through Home to Get Home

I am blogging right now from the airport in Atlanta GA, my home state. It feels strange to Have some of my California peeps with me in my home state. We Are on the way back to California after an amazing experience in New York City.

I will post some pictures here and on Facebook soon, and will give you more of the details. But for now, I'll Just sum it up with this: our people who were blessed to be able to make this trip have been approaching me with amazing stories of how God has worked in them during this trip. I believe we will never be the same after this experience.

Be I'm the lookout for some pics in the next couple of days. 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

New York Rehearsal Day

Well, today was our big rehearsal day for Carnegie Hall. Our rehearsals were at the Sheraton New York ballroom and was an all day event. Melinda Doolittle came in and addressed the choir. That was pretty cool. But, the rehearsals kicked off with this 200 voice choir singing Happy Birthday to me. What a great way to spend my birthday!

Tonight, Jody and I are at a Broadway Show, Mary Poppins. It has been pretty amazing. I'm looking forward to Brooklyn Tabernacle Church in the morning and singing with this great choir Monday!

Friday, October 15, 2010

In Wisconsin Watching Grass Grow

I am on the way to New York City. The Immanuel Choir is singing Carnegie Hall. But, the stormy weather that has descended upon the Big Apple has delayed our flight almost 2 hours. So, right now we're sitting in the Milwaukee Airport waiting for lunch to be served.

Our people Are so much fun to hang out with that I'm sure the time will go by quickly and we'll be in New York in no time. I'll update you more as things unfold throughout the weekend right here at 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Busy Fall

Fall always seems to be a busy time of year, but this Fall seems extra crazy. I was recently sharing this with a couple of people and they responded with "what do you do?" Now, they know WHAT I do, but they have no idea WHAT I do. Their question is not one that is foreign to me. Often times, even people in the church have no idea what a typical work day looks like for their staff. So, this is your peek inside my October. Here is my schedule for the upcoming weeks:

October 13 6:30pm Choir Rehearsal, 8pm Worship Band Rehearsal
October 15-19 Immanuel Choir at Carnegie Hall in New York City
October 16 My Birthday!
October 20 Choir Rehearsal, Worship Band Rehearsal
October 22 Beene Family/Liberty Quartet Concert at IBC
October 23 UPWARD Basketball (I'm Coaching) all morning
October 24 SUNDAY Worship (7:15am rehearsal, 3 Services, Ministry
Luncheon, 2:30-4:15pm SWC Prep and Rehearsal, Leave for
CA State Baptist
October 24-27 Leading Conference, serving as Messenger from IBC,
and Singing on Worship Team at CA State Convention
October 27 Choir Rehearsal, Worship Band Rehearsal
October 28 My Parents Arrive in Town (YEA! We are so excited!)
October 30 UPWARD Basketball (all morning)
October 31 SUNDAY WORSHIP - afternoon rehearsals, Harvest Festival
(if in the area, this is one event you must attend!) SWC
(Immanuel's Student Worship Choir) singing at Harvest

This is all in addition to the normal everyday office hours, worship planning, building practice tracks, working with soloists, ministry home visits, ministry to those in the hospital, staff meetings, etc...) And where in the world do I fit time in to just hang out with my wife and kids? (But, I do! Somehow.) Now that you are utterly bored reading my schedule, perhaps you can understand a little more about what my Fall looks like. This is JUST October. November is just as crazy. It starts out with a Revival I am leading for a week and ends with our Thanksgiving Eve Service and Immanuel Lights. December is full of rehearsals and the Christmas Dessert Theater. HOWEVER, let me end by saying this:

I LOVE it when my schedule looks this way. This is the most exciting time in the life of my ministry. I find that I am more driven and focused and the product of my work seems to be at a higher level. I feel blessed that the Lord has chosen to give me greater responsibility. And though I grow tired at times, He proves to me that He is my strength.

I know many of your schedules put mine to shame. So, let me encourage you to stay focused, sharp, on top of your game, and make family a priority even in the midst of your business. And above all else, through every detail give God the glory.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Kids and McDonalds

I am sitting in McDonalds watching my kids play.  That's always a great idea right after loading them up with ice cream. Tonight, we have 3 Amberg offspring with us and they are having a blast. But, McDonalds has changed since I was a kid.

I remember the days of the Hamburglar, Ronald, the fry guys and the whole crew. None of these kids know any of the characters beyond the big headed clown. I remember the days when a cheeseburger and fries, and a kids size cup of water made for an amazing day. Now, a kid isn't satisfied unless they have 12 chicken Mcnuggets, 8 return trips to the soda fountain,  and a McFlurry to cap it all off.

But, there are some things That are still the same. The prices are still pretty cheap, kids think they're in some kind of greasy version of child-heaven, and the food is still awful. Oh well....I guess things haven't changed so much after all.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

17 Songs in 2 Months

The Immanuel Choir is no working on music for our Carnegie Hall Concert on October, 18, 2010. We have 2 months to put together 17 songs. Though that's a huge task, I have no doubt we're going to do it - and do it well. 40 of our choir members will be joining us on the trip. I can't wait!

Come join us on Wednesday nights at 6:30pm and lead worship with us each Sunday morning.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Video Hits

A friend of our family's, Gretchen Rush, has just posted a video for Gold Canyon Candles on youtube. It is a contest for the best Gold Canyon Commercial. Help her win by watching the video. You can also create a youtube account and "like" the video to give her an extra boost. "Likes" count is a factor in determining the winner. Also, you can "favorite" the video, which will help her win, as well. Thanks for checking it out!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

YouTube's 5th Birthday - Video Favorite #4

Alright - this one is going to seem like a knock on the guy singing at first. But, keep your eyes on what's going on around him. Soon it will be obvious why this video has quickly become one of my favorites.

Disclaimer: The owner/operator of this blog does not approve of or condone the actions of the people in this video. The intent is simply to provide the viewer with high quality funny.

Monday, May 17, 2010

YouTube is 5 Years Old

It seems like YouTube has been around forever. But, they are just celebrating their 5th birthday. In honor of YouTube's Celebration, I am going to be posting some of my favorite all time YouTube Videos. Some of them are new favorites. Check this one out. This is in my top 5. Make sure you have your volume up for the end. What are your favorite YouTube videos?

Monday, April 26, 2010

New Family Addition

Jody and I decided we didn't have enough going on in our lives with a full time ministry, 4 kids, and everything else that comes with that. So, we decided to extend the family. Last week we brought home our newest edition that the kids so affectionately named "Dodger". Yep, after their baseball team....the Dodgers. Check him out below:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Nana's in town

We have loved having my mom in town this week. Every time we see kids at restaurants, stores, or church with their grandparents we think about how our kids are growing up without theirs. So, when we have that opportunity for them to spend some time together, it's always special.

Nana has read dozens of books, worked on homework, sang songs, had girls' dance time, fed the baby and countless other things in just 3 short days. Her departure on Saturday is just lurking at the end of the week like a bad diaper in the bottom of the trashcan.

Don't go Nana!  (OK...maybe that's a little over the top)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sickness and Success

Something hit me last night that was awful. I have either food poisoning or some kind of stomach bug. I was up all night last night and cant remember feeling this bad in a very long time. I ended up having to stay home from church this morning. I think that was the hardest part. I love being with our people and I hate missing any opportunity. However...... great thing that came out of this was the timing. I got the opportunity to just lay in bed and watch The Masters. Being from Augusta, GA this tournament is very special to me. I worked there as a teenager in the concession stand and then later in the golf shop. favorite golfer is Phil Mickelson. I followed him as an amateur when I worked the tournament my first year as a 16 year old, and I am thrilled to see him win his 3rd green jacket. Way to go Lefty!

Please be in prayer for the Mickelson family as they continue in their battle with breast cancer. Both his wife and mother are in their own battles.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Monday is a 'comin'

I'm so looking forward to seeing Jody this Monday. She has been gone since last Monday to visit family in Georgia. I'm really glad that she got to go, but I really miss hanging out with her and having her here. I've spent the week with our three oldest and it has been great. But, I'm looking forward to having things back to normal and seeing my sweet baby girl, Ava Drew. Monday can't get here fast enough.

Monday, April 05, 2010

LAX on a Rainy Day

Headed out right now to take Jody to the airport. She is flying to GA with Ava.  We have a lot of family who haven't met Ava yet, so her first plane ride and southern experience is coming her way this week.

We got up this morning to a rainy day. I'm happy to see the rain.  It always means I can turn off my sprinklers for the day which equals $$$$.  So, a week with my other 3 kids. I'm looking forward to hanging out with them this week. Should be fun!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Easter 2010

Ava Drew's First Easter. She capped off the day with an Easter nap...which caused a hairband malfunction.

Easter 2010

Our Easter worship services were so exciting this morning at Immanuel. It was as if people were singing with a newfound realization that Jesus is alive. The energy in the room was so powerful. It was a great conclusion to what had begun on Fridays night with our Good Friday services.

The day was capped off with Ham and Turkey sandwiches and Jody's Raspberry Lime-aid Cake. *singing* Glorious!  What a great day. We are capping off the day with family movie time. Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Squeakquel. 

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Here is a pic of the stage set up for our Good Friday Service. This is what I was sewing in a picture you can see in a previous blog. Byron Mathe, our Media Director at Immanuel, did an amazing job with lighting and staging.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Prayers of the Children

I love praying with my kids at bedtime each night. Sometimes there's comedy. Other times I'm shocked at how much they seem to understand. Here are examples of tonight's prayers:

Caleb - Lord, thank you for my sisters, Abby, Ella, and Ava. Thank you for my mommy and daddy.........please don't let anyone in the whole world have bad dreams. Help the surgeons to find cures to all of the sickness in the world.

Abby - thank you for dying on the cross for my sins and rising on the third day, which was Easter, and my favorite holiday....ever.

Ella - thank you for our food and drinks and everything. Surround our house with angels and be with all the dead people.

Take it for what it is, but I love hearing them pray. There's always something new.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

First Time for Everything

I did something today that I've never done before in my life. I sewed. It was pretty fun, actually. My media director, Byron Mathe, and I are working together to make the stage setting for our Good Friday Service. Even Brad Stephens, our Media Assistant, was in on the action. I am so excited about this service. It being our first one ever, I have no idea how many people to expect. But, one thing I do know is it is going to be a great service. I'll post some pictures here of the finished product late this week. For now, check out the picture Brad took of my first sewing expedition.

Good Friday 2010

It is amazing to me that I have been in ministry 15+ years now and have never been a part of a Good Friday Service. I've planned a couple as projects during my years in seminary, but I've never actually been to one. This year will be a first for me, as well as for Immanuel.

I have been creatively thinking through how to stage such a service. It has been exciting, yet challenging. Once I came up with the look and feel for the service my emotions have been running wild in the planning process. Pastor told me he wants to walk through the 7 Sayings of Christ on the Cross. With that in mind, I've staged it, planned the music, and gotten key people in place. You really have to pay great attention to every detail beginning with when people first walk in the door. What is the setting? What do they see? What do they hear?

Now that I have completed the actual flow for the service I can tell you that you don't want to miss it. If you are in the Southern California area on Good Friday, you need to be at Immanuel at 6:30pm. Again, I have been very emotional just walking through this service in my mind while just planning and creating it. I know that the actual service is going to be so powerful that it will have a great impact on all who attend.

I can't wait. I am so excited for Easter weekend.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Easter Musical

I am so proud of our people. Our Easter Musical this year was amazing! The cast were great, but I want to acknowledge a few people individually:

1) Lisa Lyons - she serves on our Worship Staff as Outreach Production Coordinator. She directed the musical, Godspell. I watched her work countless hours at her desk, as well as in rehearsals. She put on one of the best performances I've seen in a long time. Great job, Lisa! Thank you so much for your ministry.
2) Byron Mathe - he serves as our Media Director and did an amazing job. The lighting was superior to any stage play I've ever seen. Thank you so much for the time and sacrifice you made to make Godspell a huge success.
3) Lee Lyons - he designed the set. Amazing job always! You are an important part of this team.
4) Brad Kaenal - Brad served as musical director and did a great job with the band.
5) Countless others, including Sharon Paul, Eric Kelley, Larry Wheeler, Alan Paul, all of our actors and actresses

I can't say enough about the entire team. Thank you so much for all of your work. Lives were changed and souls were added to the Kingdom. I'd call that a success.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Rock the Star!

The STAR is standardized testing in California public schools. One of the San Bernardino city schools holds a rally for the students in the morning preceding a full day of testing. The purpose of the rally is to pump the kids up and relieve the stress that often comes with the testing. This year, some of the teachers decided to write some lyrics about the STAR and put them to the tune of Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feelin'". They asked me to create the music and record the demo for them to perform with.
At first, I honestly felt like this was going to be a failure on my part. I thought "how am I going to sound like Black Eyed Peas?" Well, the answer to that question was "I wasn't!" But, I could create something in the style and make it high energy for the kids. The results? I think it's hilarious....

So, it is done! And Jody and I had a lot of fun creating it. The teachers did a great job formulating the idea behind it and making such a great link between what could have otherwise been a grueling, boring test and a hip, fun song that the students can relate to. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Friday, March 05, 2010


My head is still spinning from everything that is going on. We are in the middle of our annual Global Outreach Celebration. We have 27 units of Missionaries here with us at Immanuel, and I have the awesome opportunity to lead them in worship. This past Wednesday night was our Kickoff Celebration, I led worship for them this morning and will again tomorrow morning, and then Sunday Morning and Evening are our final services. In addition, I am planning our Student Worship Choir tour to Chicago, so I've been on the phone, planning itinerary, and trying to make monies match the budget. I am working with a new planning website for our worship teams, staff, and volunteers. So, I've been logging many hours of tutorial videos and uploading of info. I had an article due today for Brentwood-Benson's Publication that is due out in April. So, I've been writing that. (For those that care, it is called "Impact Worth the Sacrifice" - Not that you asked or anything!) I am teaching for LifeWay in Glorietta, NM in August. So, I had to develop 5, count 'em, 5!!!, classes that I will teach. Those are being emailed tomorrow. I laid out the worship flow for the next 2 weeks. And now, here I sit at 1am waiting for what is sure to be the first feeding of the night for our 6 week old daughter, Ava Drew. What should I fix her? Hmmmmm.....I guess I'll go with the old standard. Milk.

But, amidst all of this I was somehow able to watch "American Idol" and keep up with the drama on "Survivor". I am a renaissance man :) I also caved for the sake of a friend of mine. He asked me to get together about 20 voices and to premier a worship musical of his at MusiCalifornia in less than 4 weeks. Am I crazy? Probably. But, I will start work on that as soon as the music arrives. The easiest way to do it was to throw it to my praise teams. I needed people that could read well and learn the music primarily on their own. We quickly had 20 voices and are going to do it. Insanity!!! But, I don't go it alone. There are many of you right there with me.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Rainy Day

It has been raining ALL DAY LONG. I love it. We are actually about to head out in it for the evening. We are just going to a couple of stores. But, it will be a time for us to all hang out. We're thinking about going to Costco just to run around and see what kind of free samples they have. Then, we'll grab a corn dog. The kids actually planned the evening. Anything involving the word "free" has me on board. So, Costco it is. I wonder if they will be giving away free corn dogs. That would make the night PERFECT!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Video Report From Chicago

Originally, we had planned just to post this video at Rob's blog, so there is a reference about reading the blog below this one. But, then I thought that my readers might not go over to his goofy little blog, nor would it be fair to subject you to that ridiculous site. (I jest...) So, check it out below. It really does capture our candid personalities.

The Chicago Experience

I am a huge baseball fan. I love everything about the sport. I even love the way the word baseball sounds when it rolls of the tongue. "Basssssse-baaaalllll." I love going to games live, as well as watching on television. I am a big Atlanta Braves fan. But, more so, a fan of the game. One of my goals is to see a live game at every MLB park in America. I have a LONG way to go. As one of the most historic parks in major league baseball, Wrigley Field has long been a park that I've wanted to visit. Today, that dream was realized. However, I won't see an actual game there until we return in July. At that time, I will get to share that experience with our students.

This is now one of my favorite pictures of me:

New Chicago Video Blog

Chicago Video Report

Monday, February 22, 2010

Impending Danger

All of the signs around Chicago keep warning us that we may die. I'm beginning to get concerned. I wonder what they would suggest I do if I look up and ice is actually falling?! Scary.

We finally made it to the hotel at 1:09 am local time in Chicago. We are trying to walk the trip as if we had the choir with us. So, basically our means of transportation is the Metro System. So, we rode into town, but then had to walk about 5 blocks to the the snow...dragging my suitcase. But, all is good. We are in a room and are doing well.

I've been trying to get in touch with our ministry partners this morning. They know we're here. They know we're supposed to meet. Why are they not returning my phone calls?

Pray we get this lined up soon. If we are unable to touch base before lunch, we are going to visit some of the spots that we are planning on taking the group for performances in hopes of setting those up. I'll check back in soon and give you an update. You can also check out updates HERE .

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I'm In Chicago

I've never been here before. I'm really excited to be in "the windy city". I've always wanted to visit. Now, I'm actually here. Rob Signs (our High School Pastor) and I are on a "pre-trip". Our purpose: to set up the Student Worship Choir Tour by meeting with ministry partners, touring the areas we'll be performing, etc. Actually, our purpose is to get away and hang out in really cool locations. Then, do it again with the students. Yeah. That's probably a more accurate description.

So, we booked the cheapest hotel we could find and we got free wifi, 2 breakfasts, and 2 free dinners along with it. Pretty sweet. It is snowing outside as I type this, and I can't wait to walk around the city tomorrow and meet with our ministry partners. We are waiting on some food we just ordered. It is 2am in Chicago and we are ordering take-out. The reason is our flight was delayed due to the snow and we haven't eaten since lunch. So, we're going to eat. That Reuben sandwich can't get here fast enough. They are delivering.

I'll post some pics and more updates often while we're here. Check back!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Doctor Doctor

Well, I finally broke down and am at the Doctor's office this morning. I hate upper respiratory stuff. Actually, I just hate being sick. But, don't we all?

Pray that this is nothing serious. They usually just tell me its a virus and I have to let it run its course. So, I let this thing run its course over the past 3 weeks. I think I've given it enough time to take over my body. I feel like I'm trying to breathe under water.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Immanuel Worship

I can't wait for tomorrow. It is Sunday and I love worshiping with our people at Immanuel. I had a guy come in my office this week to meet with me. He told me that his life had been a waste up to this point. He said that he had sensed God calling him to Himself. He said "I need redemption and I know the only way is through Jesus. I need His forgiveness and salvation. What do I do?"

Well, that was an easy one. So, I walked him through some scripture that answered that question. He went on to say that the choir and the music had convicted and encouraged him during the services he had attended at Immanuel. That is what it's all about! Bringing glory to God through our worship and allowing Him to work through that in people's lives. Amazing!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Goodbye Frances

It is rare that you find someone who exhibits all the traits of a great leader. Someone who is passionate about what they do. Someone who is dedicated. Someone who is steadfast. Someone who is a team player. Someone who is supportive and submissive to authority. Someone who is not afraid to try something new. Someone who is willing to push the envelope. Someone who supports you in success, as well as in failure. Someone who works diligently to make themselves better. Someone who is faithful.

This list could go on and on, and every aspect of it describes someone that I have had the privilege to serve alongside during my time at Immanuel. However, she has come to a place in her ministry where she feels that the time has come to retire. Frances Iverson has been the organist at Immanuel for 33 years. 33 years! When Frances first began in this position in October, 1976, I was celebrating my 2nd birthday. That really puts it into perspective for me. She has given her life for the sake of the call at Immanuel.

Thank you Frances, for exemplifying what it means to be faithful in ministry. I only hope to have the impact in my ministry that you have had in yours.

Friday, January 29, 2010

My Worship Staff

I am blessed with an amazing ministry team at Immanuel. Not only do we have awesome volunteers, but I would put my worship staff up against anybody's in the country. I have not been in the office all week, due to the birth of our new little baby girl whose video you can see if you scroll down on this page (shameless plug). But, they have not missed a beat in my absence. They always do an incredible job and I am blessed to serve with them. Thanks Ellen, Eric, Byron, Larry, Amy, Sharon, Lisa, and Brad. You make me look good and I am so grateful for you.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


I just wrote a song that I feel the Lord gave me. The subject came from a question that I hear people ask themselves often. The question for some is "how do I know that I am saved?" While for a mature believer it may be hard to understand why someone would have this question. But, if you'll think back to the early days of your walk with the Lord you may remember being full of questions as a new believer. While our questions may not all be the same, the fact that we have questions propels us into a deeper understanding of Who God is as He teaches us through His word and the power of His Holy Spirit.

This song actually asks no questions at all. Instead, its message is to provide the answers. A reassurance, if you will, that God has the power to save. The chorus flows from the heart of a believer that speaks one simple truth; "I know that He saves". The world may ask "how do you know?" Well, I know because He saved me. In fact, this is the title and overall message of the song. Below is a simple chorus from the song that gives you an insight into the heart of this tune:

I know that He saves
I know that He redeems
I know that He can rescue
Because He rescued me

I know that He loves
I know that my Jesus lives
Because He made a way from no way
I know that He saves

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ava Drew's First Day

My baby girl was born yesterday. She is the youngest of 4, and her big brother and sisters are so ready for her to come home to play. We still have another day or two in the hospital. But, then it's play time! God has blessed us tremendously and we want to share those blessings with you. So, without further adieu, here is Ava Drew!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Ramblings of a Mad-Man

I have had some new songs birthed in my heart lately. It has been wonderful to be inspired by God's word and to hear it set to a melody in my head. There's nothing like it. Now, it's just a matter of sorting it all out and putting it on paper. The hard thing for me is that multiple ideas seem to come at once. Then I'm left to sort out the clutter. But, I'm thankful for the mess.

We have just over 2 days left until Baby Ava Drew arrives. We are really getting excited now. I can't wait to hold her in my arms and kiss those little baby lips, see those little baby fingers and toes, and know that we have a life-time of joy ahead with her. I can't wait!

Today, we had our last doctor's appointment before the birth. While in the waiting room, a man fell asleep waiting on his wife and began snoring. He was so loud that you could see people all over the room laughing at him. I actually got this on video tape, but my wife's conviction and fear of legal consequences has convinced me not to post it. I think there should be a law that states "if someone allows themselves to look foolish in public, someone with a camera has the legal responsibility to hold them accountable by making an example of them on youtube, or a similar web-based site. To have said camera and not to act is Punishable by Law." I believe that only then will we see a decrease in public stupidity.

Speaking of which, I think we were behind Richard Petty today on the way to the doctor's office. He had the same cowboy-ish hat on. He was sporting the same dark glasses. And, he was driving like he had no idea what he was doing. Similarities - completed. He would stop 25 feet short of a stop sign. Then slowly pull up to the stop sign. Then, stop again. At a red light, he put his blinker on to change lanes, stopped, sat in front of us until the light changed, then turned his blinker off and proceeded to go straight. The craziest part of all of this was we could not seem to ever get around him. What?!

Okay...I'm rambling. So, I guess I'll sign off for now. I'll be posting video footage of the baby soon after the birth. Jody made me promise not to post any of the birthing process. No worries. I'll just post the good stuff :)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Caleb's Mission Project

Every 4th grader knows, if you are in public school in California you will have a HUGE Mission Project to do. My 9 year old, Caleb, is one such 4th grader this year. He chose to do his project on Mission San Juan Capistrano. We decided to do the most interesting option for the project; a video tour. Caleb acted as host, and was SO nervous. But, it made it even cuter. We had so much fun working on this project. Check it out below. You may learn a little something you didn't know before.

Sunday Worship at Immanuel

I always like to cause the average worshiper on Sunday morning to think; to use their minds and engage their hearts in worship. We should always understand and internalize the lyrics of any song as we offer it to the Lord. Each song is not just something chosen by the Worship Pastor for the purpose of filling a spot. Instead, each has a purpose to help put into words our commitment and heart-felt gratitude. We need to understand the scripture and intent of each song we sing.

Today, I pulled things back in our contemporary worship service. I felt that we needed a time of intimate, reflective corporate worship. So, I gave the band the day off and I just sat at the piano and led the church in worship. As they entered, Psalm 5:7 was on the screen, and the stage had low lighting to draw people's attention to the scripture. I then began to play and led us through the chorus of "Here I Am to Worship". We moved on into "All I Need" and "I Need Thee Every Hour". We capped it off with "Revelation Song" which I had a female lead vocal on as the congregation sang with her. I think it was just what we needed today. It was simple. It was without distraction. It was genuine.

I long for those worship moments with the church.

Friday, January 15, 2010

My Wife's Blog

What started out as a simple idea to take a passion that Jody had and give her a project to enjoy has turned into an amazing adventure! Jody began posting video blogs and cooking advice on her blog, West Coast Peaches , just this week. Already, she is getting hits in the triple digits. The popularity of her blog has doubled mine in less than a week. I'm blown away, and at the same time so excited for her. Thank you for checking it out.

If you have not yet visited, make sure to go check it out today. She really is just scratching the surface of what this blog is going to become. I get to be in on the creative side of the blog development. That's more my thing, and I'm loving being involved. Make sure you visit and post a comment. She'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

8 Days and Counting

The countdown has begun! We are 8 days away from the birth of our new baby girl, Ava Drew. January 22 is the expected arrival date via C-Section. We have had all previous 3 children by this means because of internal issues Jody has, and Ava will come by the same means. The room is painted, the crib is in place, and the stuffed-animals are scattered throughout the room just awaiting the arrival of their new master. I can't wait for those sheets to have drool stains and the rest :0) It is going to be fun. Our nights ahead are going to be some sleepless ones, but blessed ones.

So, Jody and I have begun the conversations of "what is she going to look like? Whose personality is she going to have? Will she be a pink baby with no hair? Will she have blue eyes or brown?" You, know...the normal parent conversations. Because she is a girl, my questions are more along the lines of "will I have to kill all the little boys in her life, or will my threats and 6 foot 4 stature do the trick?"

I am planning on posting some video of her first few hours right here at The Chief End. Make sure you're tuning in to see some footage of Ava Drew. I wonder if she'll come early. You never know. But, being a girl, I'm sure we'll have to go in after her. She's not going to be on time.

Wow! As a teenager, I always wondered what it would be like to live in a girls' dorm. 20 years later I guess I'm about to find out with all these women in my house. 3 girls? Caleb and I are out numbered!


Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Well, our worship pastors' conference, MetroWest, just ended today. It was an honor to host and an awesome time to hang out with my friends and brothers. I feel challenged and encouraged. I can't wait to see our people tonight at rehearsal.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Family and Worship

I am so excited right now. I am leaving for the airport in about 5 minutes to pick up my father in law. I love this man dearly and owe him so much. As a parent, I am learning everyday of the sacrifice he made in granting me his daughter's hand in marriage. I am so thankful he trusted me and loved me enough. He has always treated me as one of his own. I can't wait to hang out with him.

Tomorrow is Sunday, and you know what that means. Thats right - worship at Immanuel! I actuallly have bronchitis and laryngitis. I'm praying I will have enough voice to make it through the services. But, if not, it wasn't about me anyway. So, I'm just praying His will is worked out tomorrow and that He'll allow me to just be a small part of it.

Friday, January 08, 2010

West Coast Peaches Returns

It has been nearly two years since my wife's last blog. Today, she posted her first NEW blog at . Her new blog will primarily be dedicated to cooking tips, recipes that my family gets to enjoy on a daily basis, plating and presentation ideas, and those little tips that many people overlook when preparing a dish. It will be a fun and interactive blog for all of us who love to, like to, or HAVE to cook. Most who fall into that latter category feel they "have to" cook because of the frustration cooking brings. With the tips you are going to learn and the creative dishes Jody will show you how to prepare, you are going to enjoy being in the kitchen more than you ever have before.

There will probably be 2-3 blogs each week with pictures and recipes. We will have some guest blogs as well, and Jody will even be featuring some of your recipes. So, head on over now to West Coast Peaches and start the journey today. Some of the blogs will even feature video of Jody in the kitchen sharing tips and strategies with you. You are going to love the way you cook!

Praising the Lord for the Mac

I finally got a new Mac Book Pro yesterday. In fact, this is my first blog from the new mecca of all laptops. The main purpose for the Mac, is to build click tracks for the band, create music, and scoring. I know that anything music is better on a Mac. So, I'm praising the Lord for this new ministry tool.

I haven't quite learned it all yet. In fact, the music program I need is still a budgeted item that we've not quite attained. But, we'll get there. So, get ready Immanuel. We're taking things to a whole new level!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


Since my postings about the recent cuts some of my songs have gotten on different recordings, I've had many asking about songwriting and wanting tips. While I do not consider myself to be an authority on the subject by any means, I would suggest a few things.

First, write about what God is showing and teaching you. It may seem like common sense, but far too often people try to emulate successful songs they've heard, and they adopt subject matter that they only know from a distance. Write about what you know about.

Secondly, to write about something you know about you have to be teachable. Stay in God's word and allow him to show you new things. Write about those things from your new perspective.

Speaking of perspective, write from different points of view. Every song doesn't have to be to God. Just as every song doesn't have to be about how you were a sinner and now you're saved. While true and a worthy subject, there is so much more to write about.

Finally, write for the church you are serving. That will be a place where God's will confirm His calling for you to be a writer. If your own church is not accepting of your writing, then there's a good chance God is not calling you to write for Him in a professional setting.

This is just a little advice. Take what you will and leave the rest for someone else. Even if you never desire to share your songs with anyone else, let me encourage you to write for the Lord. Write out of your personal walk with Him, for Him, and sing your song to the Lord in your time alone with Him. Afterall, we only have a song in our hearts because He placed it there.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Final Sonogram

Today, Jody and I are at the hospital for the final sonogram. We have just 2 1/2 weeks left until the scheduled C-section on January 22. We are really getting excited to meet this little kid.

Hopefully they'll be able to confirm boy or girl today. They said girl the first time so we'll see. Our real concern is not the sex of the baby, but the health. We are checking for club foot, as well. Having history with that, we want to be prepared if there are any issues.

So, the countdown is on!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

2010 Has Begun

We are in the new year! That scientific age to which we had only imagined reaching before. Now, what will we do with it?

My 2010 is booking up quickly. We will be giving birth to a new baby sometime this month. February will have me on a short, yet significant pre-trip in preparation for our high school choir tour to Chicago. Never having been to Chicago, I am very excited. July will be our high school choir tour in Chicago. I have been honored with an invitation to teach other worship pastors for Lifeway in Glorietta, NM in August. September will be a pre-trip to a yet to be determined location for SWC 2011 mission tour. The Immanuel Choir will be in concert with Travis Cottrell at Carnegie Hall in NY City in October. And finally, we are planning on visiting our family in GA next December.

So, 2010 is looking busy for me already. However, I am so excited about seeing what God is going to do in and through our ministry throughout the new year.

Please pray for godly wisdom. My desire is to serve the Lord and to serve our people to His glory. Pray also, that the Lord will continue blessing my songwriting. As He chooses to expand our platform for ministry we will see an impact on a far greater number of people. For His glory and our good.