Archive for August, 2009

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The power of the past

August 27, 2009

Humorous. Cynical. Sarcastic. These are the first three words that come to mind when I think about my late Grandmother Doris.

Quiet. Sad. Strength under the surface. This comes to mind when I think of my late Grandfather Virgil. I only knew them as a small child and a few vacations back to Florida, but even from that a basic impression was imprinted on my mind and on my soul of who they were, and how they interacted with one another.

Our families are the single most powerful force in shaping who we are today. And not just our parents, but their parents, and their parents. When it comes to sin being passed down, Exodus says I am feeling the effects today in my life from three generations before me!! And the choices I make TODAY will affect my daughter’s grandchildren.

 Working at a church a phrase I often hear is we don’t want to just grow wide, we want to grow deep. The problem and the reality of this statement is a church will only grow as deep as the individuals that make up that body. I am learning that the best change that I can bring to a church, is a changed me, a deeper me. And it’s the best thing you can bring as well. And sometimes understanding ourselves means looking back at our family dynamics and really analyzing them and how they might be affecting us today.

 Here is a shortened version of a list of questions to ponder about your family from a book called “The emotionally healthy church” by Peter Scazzero. (pg 95)

How was conflict handled in your family? Anger? Tension?

How well did your family talk about feelings?

Were there family “secrets”?

 Were their “losers” and “winners” in your family?

What determined that? How was spirituality expressed?

 The reality is my ability to love others can be severely hindered and handicapped from my past, and I don’t even know it if I’m not open to the reality of the past.

 Together we praise, together we love, together we serve. To grow in loving one another this year, it starts with me, and it starts with you. Are you willing to look and pray about what might hinder you today from being a fully loving person in your family and community? It is scary tough work, but it can change us to a place where we become deep and wide.

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Together we praise, together we love, together we praise.

August 21, 2009

Imagine you are at Starbucks, (or Peet’s or wherever) and you are in line waiting to order your favorite mix of coffee and sugar, when then the guy behind you starts singing. You don’t think too much of it, and can’t quite make out the song but you don’t turn around. Then someone else in line joins in, along with a couple of people seated around the tables. Now it’s just plain weird and you are looking for the hidden camera.

 And yet, every Sunday, we come together, and we sing. Why? It is normal in our culture for people to consume music. It is normal in our culture to see people with headphones on, listening to a song only they can hear and walking to their own beat. What’s abnormal is for us to share music, to participate in it together. And yet, every Sunday, we come together and we sing.

 Here are some genres of music listed on the iTunes store: alternative, blues, Latin, hip hop, electronic, reggae, country, R&B, pop, rock, soul, classical etc.

 And yet, every Sunday we may give up our music style of choice and sing songs together. Can’t we just praise God on our own? Ps 92 says “It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High”. Can’t I just do that in my car? We all like different music anyway, what’s the point of coming together and singing?

 As a church we state the importance of caring for one another and we give effort and energy dreaming about how we will love our community well. We hear sermons about serving the poor. These things are easier to discuss than actually achieve.

 But here’s a beautiful reality: when we have a foundation of consistently joining together in praise, we can accomplish anything together. When we sing together, when we praise together, we enter into a shared experience. This experience is not about the style of music, whether it’s classical or rock, or even whether or not I have a voice. It’s about the space we enter into together, a space where we are reminded that there’s a bigger story than our own, His story, and that this world doesn’t revolve around us as individuals, but around God. This is a space where music and praise moves from “mine” to “ours” and from observation to participation. We submit our individual voice to the collective voice of community, and in the process we learn to submit our individual actions of love and service and combine them in a multiplied expression that has a greater impact on each other and the community.

One of the beauties of community is how we carry one another. Maybe today I don’t feel like singing. Maybe today I don’t feel like I can even lift my head or open my mouth to utter a word of praise. Maybe it’s all I can do just to drag myself to church. But in community, my brother and sister to my left and behind me and in front of me can sing for me. They express to God what my heart longs to but cannot do on my own.

And maybe today I can’t see past myself to love another or serve someone. But my brother and sister reach out to me and lift me up and their example spurs me into action.

Together we praise, together we love, together we serve. It’s a gift, it’s beautiful, and I honestly dream that we continue to gain much, much more of the shared experience of living life together and praising together.

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Red Bull Hearts

August 14, 2009

 There are friends in my life that stress me out to be around. I love them, but they stress me out. They are constantly fidgeting, moving, shifting, talking fast, never calm, always kinetic until they crash and sleep. They are like walking cans of Red Bull.

 I contrast that with my mother in law Vicki, and her demeanor. Her eyes are full of life. But her presence is calm. She is at peace. And you feel calm around her.

I believe our hearts are like walking cans of Red Bull. They are constantly looking, moving, shifting, and searching for meaning, for purpose, for love. They have to have it. Your heart won’t rest until it finds it. And I believe Satan would be content to keep us on a wild goose chase the rest of our lives, offering this or that or the other thing promising that it will meet the hearts longing, and then laugh in our face when it doesn’t, but quickly gets right back to work pitching the same thing as long as we will bite.

 I’m on a journey right now in my walk, of how to find my foundational longing(s) met in Christ. I’m on a journey to find out what it means to find my peace in Him, to press into Him. So easy to say, but finding out what this ACTUALLY looks like in real time, in real life, is a lot harder. What I am learning slowly is when my longing intensifies, when I’m feeling restless, alone, when my heart begins to wander and search, that I need to let it and I need to wait. That I need to quit trying to quickly numb it and preoccupy it, but to wait, and search for Christ, patiently.

 What about you? Are you letting your heart always settle for cheap imitations that don’t ultimately satisfy? What are some ways you have been duped with your heart longings? What is the biggest one you are being offered right now? Where have you tried to satisfy them that left you emptier than before, or at least side tracked from the real deal? I for one am so burnt out on cheap imitations that I am on a quest for the real deal.

Psalms 33:18 But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love.

Psalms 39:7 “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you. Psalms 43:5 Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Proverbs 13:12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

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Weekend Worship Awards Acoustic version Aug 2nd

August 3, 2009

acoustic set

Acoustic edition awards means I will write these while listening to soft, acoustic type songs  instead of techno or funk on my itunes.   Currently I am listening to John Denver, and yes I am full of it.

Most instruments award

I know what you are thinking, that this award would go to Marshall for the mando, violin, and guitar.  You would be wrong however, because Sam Monk had about 20 harmonica’s on his music stand.

Best looking couple

Award goes to Steve and Audra Cross, who made us a way cooler and hipper church on Sunday morning, not that that is important. 

Hunchback of Notre Dame.

This is a new award invented solely for this last weekend.  Award goes to Chris Goodell who most likely is either in the emergency room or at the chiropractors today to get his back bent back to straight. 

Best father son team.

No comment.  They won hands down.

Hey all, thank you so much for a really special weekend.  I have had tons of positive feedback yesterday/today about the services.   Thanks for pouring yourselves into it.   Thank you Carolyn Pullen for just stepping up and being there when Donna Larson wasn’t feeling good. You rock. Donna hope you are doing better!!  Thanks to Ryan for stepping up when our sound web stepped down!  Thanks Bruce and Gavin for all your behind the scenes work and help from on high!  Thank you Janet for your amazing leadership in pulling all things together like you do so well.  Thank you Melinda and Christina for your amazing prayer support.   Thank you Tyler for being there on Thursday even on your weekend off.  Thank you Andrea for singing on Cosmic Bowling weekend. Thank you anyone I am forgetting!!  We miss you Travis!  Come back soon.  What an AWESOME message from John Franklin.  Be honest with God today wherever you are at.  Trust Him and turn the corner and praise Him.
Jay

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The “feeling” of worship.

August 3, 2009

 I confess as I write this, I don’t have this figured out by a long shot. I hear or read these kind of statements A LOT, and it sounds proper and Christian like to say things like “Worship is not a feeling”, or “We should seek God not an emotional high”.

Then the other part of my brain and experience says to me, that there is a “feeling” and “emotion” connected with experiencing the presence of God. Maybe that’s just me? Does it make it not real or cheapen it somehow if I have some sort of emotional high either in a church service or in my car or in my home? Can we experience a strong emotion or be moved to tears devoid of an actual interaction with the Holy Spirit? Sure. And we should definitely check ourselves constantly to make sure what we are “seeking” is truly Christ, and not just an emotional experience. But can we have strong emotions and be moved to tears because of being hit with the truth or reality of His presence and who He is. Of course! And if I’m being truthful, (why is it scary for me to say this) I LOVE THE FEELING!!!

I believe it is not my place to judge the experience or heart or motivation of a worshipper of Jesus Christ. As a worship leader, it is my role to encourage people to praise Him, to seek Him, to honor Him, both in a 20 minute time block on Sunday morning, but also with their lives at all times. But I am not scared of the emotion, or feeling that can be associated when it is based on the truth of His presence and reality. I can worship God; when I’m depressed, when I’m elated, when I’m joyful, when I’m full of sorrow, when I’m frustrated, when I’m mad, when I’m optimistic, when I’m cynical, when I’m filled up, when I’m empty, when I’m feeling deep, when I’m feeling shallow. I don’t have to turn into some sort of emotionless robot to truly seek God. Do I? Isn’t where I base my emotions the most important thing?

 Psalm 126 1 When the Lord brought back his exiles to Jerusalem,[a] it was like a dream! 2 We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, “What amazing things the Lord has done for them.” 3 Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us! What joy! 4 Restore our fortunes, Lord, as streams renew the desert. 5 Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. 6 They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.