Archive for October, 2008


MMA and submission

October 30, 2008


MMA. For those not familiar, that stands for mixed martial arts. Ultimate fighting. Two guys in a ring that try to incapacitate their opponent as quickly as possible, using a variety of very scary and painful moves. I try to imagine myself stepping into one of those caged octagons, facing someone who could kill me in a matter of seconds. The bell would go off, and I would curl up in a ball before he could move and begin sucking my thumb with one hand and tapping the mat impressively fast like a wood pecker with the other hand. Sound like I am a wimp? I think it sounds like I am very smart.



When I hear the Christian concept of submission, unfortunately that is where my brain goes, to MMA. For me the term has an immediate negative reaction. Submit to a powerful force bent on your destruction.

If any man would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. Mark 8:34

Where this analogy breaks down quickly is God is not bent on my destruction, He is bent on my redemption. When I submit, I give up the burden of having to have things my way, and my way does lead to destruction. God’s way leads to life. I can write this down easily enough, the reality is I still put up a pretty good fight often to make things go my way, I try to last in that octagon and wrestle with a God that loves me and wants what’s best for me. For what?

Where are you fighting with God this week? Where do you need to deny yourself, curl up in a ball, tap the mat and let God win? It’s not wimpy, it’s smart!


Management Team Recap

October 29, 2008


management team pic

What is management team?  It is a small group of people that are on Ron’s team to help fulfill the mission and vision of our church.  Some of you will find this stuff boring, others will probably be curious to know what happens in meetings like this. My main goal in posting these weekly meetings is communication. It’s easy to take shots at a “committee” making secret decisions with a secret agenda. It’s much more healthy to open up the dialogue to the people we are serving. That really is the point of this team,  to serve our congregation and our community. I wish we could change the name to Servant Team or something similar! Your feedback and comments are welcome!!

The team includes Ron, myself, Barb Fiel, Mike Matousek, Eric Venable, and Beth Werner.

Sometimes we get to talk about really engaging things, how to reach people for Christ better, how to serve our teams better, love more etc.  Other times we get to talk about things like, Policy Manuals!!  Oh joy 🙂  Today was one of those days.  Truthfully though we have to care about this type of thing, other wise why should the staff?  So we have been going through it line by line for the last couple of weeks, it very large!

Here are some highlights, I’ll keep it brief for you!  These are random conversation that came from different topics in our current policy manual, about to be approved by our session.

*We are looking at what each of our staff is “classified” under because from an HR standpoint, there are certain laws we need to abide to when it comes to exempt/non exempt, benefits, vacations etc, and this changes if you are a pastor/director/admin/managment team etc.  So we are in the process of making sure we know what everyone is and why, particularly so we can adhere to the law when it comes to how we are compensating our staff.

*When you work at a church (or anywhere) there is always a tension between how much there is to do and how much you expect of both paid staff and volunteers.  Sometimes under the guise of “ministry”, people can be taken advantage of, and the burn out rate is high.  We discuss on this team of ways of protecting both paid and unpaid people who serve at Sunset. 

*This reality has been raised to the service as we are gearing up to begin a 3rd service in January, with far less staff and resources than we had a year ago.  We are relying on God’s wisdom, provision and creativity to go this direction that we feel God calling us to.  We believe He will provide, and has already begun to do so in amazing ways, but the tension of protecting boundaries and managing well will continue to be there.

*We discussed the practice of blogging at our church, and particularly about any political issues.  The consensus is that blogging on political issues on staff should be avoided, because as a non-profit that status could be threatened if political blogs are done on church time or with church equipment. 

*Most pastors have an expense account, so we discussed what is above board in our use of these, and how they can glorify God and be good for the church in our use of them.

Are you still here?  Those were the most interesting things I could summarize.  Generally when I post one of these I get somewhere around 0 responses, so if you are still reading you are probably the only one on my site right now. 🙂 


week recap

October 25, 2008

This has been a weird but good week.  I got sick over last weekend, and have been struggling with a chest cold all week. 

Yonas helped me paint and decorate my office which was a blast.  Thanks Yonas!

Tyler had a birthday on Tuesday, but still came and helped out at practice, because he is a stud. 

My good friend Mitch and his wife Jen were in town for a few days and it was great to see him! (you to Jen!)  He is a wonderful worship leader and it is always so encouraging to be around him and hear how God is using him. 


Today was Macy’s last soccer game of the year.  During the game I walked Ava around because she’s not really into sitting in one place for more than say, 5 minutes.

Ava at soccer game After the game there was an all out silly string war. I’m still picking it out of my hair.  After that we went bowling with the soccer team and Macy got another bobble head trophy.  I’m jealous, I would have loved to get bobble head trophies when I was little. 

Macy trophy


And the winner is…..

October 20, 2008

10-16-08 AVA 018

What turned my daughter into puffy the vampire slayer?  Just got word from the doctor’s office, and the winner is……PEANUTS.  My daughter is moderately, (or more than moderately) allergic to peanuts.  My heart grieves for her.  Peanut butter, peanut butter cookies, Tilamook chocolate peanut butter ice cream, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, peanut butter and honey sandwiches, did I mention peanut butter?  Peanut butter was with me when I went from a boy to a man.  I LOVE PEANUT BUTTER.

I say it’s worth it.  Personally I would not mind the side effects of the swelling to enjoy the above mentioned.

Here is a sample of what I would be willing to go through.  Bring on the peanut butter, bring on the pain.

Photo 55


fun at the office

October 16, 2008

4 years ago when I started working at Sunset, I came into the fireside room where our staff meets, and I saw this chalk drawing of my senior pastor and his wife hanging on the wall.  This picture will not do it justice, but it is HUGE!  Like 5 feet high and 4 feet wide.


Kurt and I began to dream of abducting the photo and taking pics of it all around town.  I casually asked Ron what he thought about the photo “disappearing” for a while, and he seemed ok with it. 

So we took it, which was not easy, because it is VERY large.  We then took it out and began to take photos in various places.  I opened up a new gmail account under Ron Kincaid and we sent a series of emails from Ron to the staff.

Here are some of them.

Hi Friends,

Jorie and I have been taking pictures of our travels around this beautiful country.  From time to time we want to send you places we have been.  This one signifies that we are reaching our goals! 🙂




Hi friends,
Jorie and I love to travel.  Recently we visited the beautiful state of Alaska.  This place is so beautiful.  This shot was taken just before Sunset.  Just look how beautiful it is!!
I love Alaska.
Ron Kincaid

IMAGE_061 (in this pic I had to hide my face because of the reflection)

Hi friends,
Somebody asked me the other day if Jorie and I were photo shopping these pictures or if this is really us at these places.  I can assure you, these are NOT photo shopped.  I’m not even sure Virginia would know how to do that unless there was some sort of version for short hand. 
This picture was taken in front of one of our favorite out houses in the area.  I think its more than proof that these photos are real.


Hi friends,
This morning as I was water skiing and falling head first into the very cold Willamette river,  a thought occurred to me.  I am your biggest fan. I am your cheerleader.   You are in the game, Jorie and I are on the bleachers cheering you on.
Here is a picture of us on a bench, cheering you on today in whatever you are doing.



This picture gave it away, because my face is clearly in the reflection.  So the jig is up.  Today I hung up the picture in one of our staffs office.  It was fun while it lasted!  Ron is a good sport and we’ve laughed over this together.  Several of the staff thought this was actually Ron sending these out. 


my unbelief

October 14, 2008

I was reading Hebrews 3 today, and read again about how because of Israel’s unbelief, they could not enter the promise land. 

I started thinking about my own belief, my own faith in God’s power and promises.  I started asking myself some hard questions and seeking to truly answer them honestly before God.

Questions like, do I believe God can do miracles at Sunset? Do I believe that many souls can be won here for Christ?  Do I really really really believe it?

Do I believe many souls can come to Christ here?  Yes.  Do I believe they will?  Truthfully.  No.  Why?  Because I’m not desperate for that to happen.  That’s how I feel.  Now I know that people coming to Christ is God’s thing, not mine, and every theological way to say that.  But deep down I feel that I’m not nearly as desperate for this as God is, and would like me to be.  Am I sharing my faith, inviting, pouring myself out in prayer for people who have not met Jesus?  No.  Not nearly enough.  And when I do its more of a check list than the well spring inside that I long to flow naturally.  So if this describes me right now, why should I expect this to be a place where people find Christ?

What about you?  Do you believe in God’s power, His ability to do miracles through you in the lives of others?  Are you desperate for souls to be won?  Are you honest with God about that?

And so I lay this at the feet of Jesus today, asking Him to make me as desperate to see souls won for Him as He is.  Please break me Jesus.  Break me of all the junk that I make my life about other than what is lasting. 


Maintaining the balance (health)

October 14, 2008

People that know me know I struggle with this. (understatement)  I achieve a weird an unhealthy sort of balance by being completely on or off.   In any given month, I am either gaining weight at a pretty good pace, or I am losing it just as fast.  Rare is the month where I am “maintaining” anything. 

I long for this to change before I hit my 40’s.  I long to make being healthy a life style instead of something I am either doing or not doing this month.  There are so many reasons I desire this, but at the top of the list is God and Allison.  I want my choices of health to reflect my desire to live for God and honor Him with my choices, and I long to release my wife from my yo yo roller coaster ride she has been on with me for the last 13 years.  

Are you a yo yo or do you find it easy to keep a balance?


Branding a weekend gathering, do you care?

October 9, 2008


As a worship leader I’m blessed to have a senior pastor who plans ahead.  Ron Kincaid will leave for a summer and plan out a year of series titles and specific sermon titles.  From there I can take these series and get creative.  I’m also grateful that Ron gives some freedom and flexibility in that creativity. 

We have reading through the Bible as a church, and Ron has been teaching on the sections that we are in together as a church.  This is easier in the New Testament, a little more challenging when he focuses on the old testament. 

Our series that starts this Sunday kicks off 6 weeks on the book of Jeremiah.  Our creative team spent some time thinking/praying/planning and came up with among many other things this title, “The Life Marathon: How Jeremiah Ran It”. Jeremiah served God for decades in a very hostile environment.   We also in keeping with the marathon theme, are going to introduce a spiritual discipline “spiritual training” each week in worship, that helps support the message in some way.  We also will be using an interview of a marathon runner at our church who we put to DVD who describes what it takes to prepare for a marathon, and than make many spiritual ties and analogies to the spiritual journey we all face.  Our stage looks like the start of a marathon, with a huge banner over the top that says The Life Marathon.

My question to you if you are a church goer is, do you care?  If I said we are doing a 6 week series on Jeremiah, would you still come to church regardless, or be compelled to invite a friend regardless?  Does branding a gathering or series to make it more accessible or current make a difference to you?


deep songs

October 8, 2008

I came into my office this week, grabbed the comments from this Sunday from my box and began reading.  As usual, they ranged from very positive to very negative. 

Here was what the negative card said. (I have contacted this gentleman and got his permission to quote him)


I found his email from his name and replied with this;

I just want to humbly say I am sorry that you are not finding the music to your liking.  I can assure you from the bottom of my heart the last thing I’m trying to create is what you are referring to as a Rock Concert in the negative sense of that analogy.  Any given week I hear every aspect of input, ranging from way to go, keep it up, to comments such as yours.  I guess you know there is no pleasing everyone, and my ultimate goal is trying to please God.  I recognize I am human, completely capable of error, and am constantly trying to improve and do a better job at what I do.  It is my life, and I’m pouring myself into it every week.  We painstakingly plan and pray over services about a month before they actually happen. 

As far as the volume goes, again I hear over and over, its not loud enough, turn it up, and on the same weekends, its too loud, turn it down.  I can assure you that our 9am service is quieter, if volume is an issue for your family.   I also respectively disagree with you on your comment about doing away with repetitive choruses.  The reason so many songs have these (which I often cut back the original number of repetitions), is because there is something to repeating a phrase to God.   It is a form of meditating, of chewing on the thought until it goes from just words, to actually believing in what you are singing and letting God have time to speak that thought to us at a heart level.  Beyond that, I believe it is a matter of taste, preference, and not right and wrong.

Thank you again for your input and for allowing me to respond.



His response;


Thanks for responding to our note. I think that you are sincere and good at what you do, plus the musicianship is great at Sunset. I think contemporary Christian music is wonderful too, but our family and others feel that what you were doing even a year ago was more meaningful, richer, loftier and more conducive to the audience participating by singing. There is nothing wrong with repetition of a chorus that has spiritual depth and content. Again, in looking around at the congregation during worship, a great many are not singing along and that’s a problem. The songs seem to be meant for an increasingly younger audience and the eleven is not filled with young people. Choosing a re-harmonized rearranged hymn like you did last week is a powerful way to combine content with contemporary music. It doesn’t all have to be that way, but the deep meditative nature of worship that you use to achieve, that often brought us to tears, is no longer there for us. I’m sorry, I can’t help it, but lyrics like…” Love, Love , Love…I wanna run, I wanna dance, You are my Joy, You are my Joy, You are my Joy…” are just not very deep.

I’m glad you are open to comments and we appreciate you and what you do. I look forward to further dialogue with you.

Sincerely (have left his name out purposely)


This is great dialogue.  Obviously it stings a little to read things like this when you care, and I care.  But beyond anything personal, because it’s not about me, I am interested in what others think about lyric, repetitive lyric such as “You are my Joy”, a David Crowder song that I love..  To me, that song is very deep.  To claim that Christ is my Joy, and to sing it over and over again,  is that shallow and surfacy?  On some levels, I “get that”, and maybe this makes me a shallow Christian, (I’m not saying this sarcastically, I’m being truthful), but at 34, and having known Christ my whole life, I still need to be reminded over and over again of truths like that.  To me that still hits me on a deeper challenging level of my soul. 

What say you?



October 4, 2008

Yesterday Macy had a jogathon at her school. Fridays are my day off so thankfully I was able to go and cheer her on.
Of course this is when it started to rain again but the kids did not seem to mind.

Macy started out in a full on run, not having any idea what running for 30 minutes would actually feel like. About three minutes into it reality hit like a ton of bricks. It was rather entertaining to watch.

Next week our church is starting a series called The Life Marathon, how Jeremiah ran it. We will be introducing a different “spiritual training” each week. The goal is training for the race of life.

Thanks for reading. Blogging from my phone while my tires are being rotated. Jogathon