Archive for October, 2010


laugh more.

One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that I’m not perfect. I make mistakes…in fact I make them all the time.  Here are a few examples – and these have all happened just in the past two weekends.

I was leading worship for our middle school students, and we were playing with a click. During the last song, which was a slow tune, our students down front decided they wanted to clap. Bless their hearts, they started in a completely random tempo for some reason and were so drastically off-beat that I did the unthinkable – I laughed. Out loud. On the microphone.  I got the giggles and couldn’t stop them.

In an effort to save the moment, I made a comment about how much I loved our students’ enthusiasm and energy during worship, so much that it made my heart so happy I couldn’t contain it. It was a close one…because in all my years of ministry I’ve never laughed at my own students – how embarrassing!

I continued to play the song which was supposed to move from an E major chord to a C# minor chord in the chorus, and I completely missed the C# minor and hit – you guessed it – a C major. Take a moment to play that on the keyboard in your office and laugh with me. I missed it by one fret, and I have been playing guitar with my eyes closed for twenty years.  And when you make a mistake on an electric guitar it is extremely loud.  I smiled and I think I remember looking at the ceiling for a second thinking, “Sweet Jesus, help me!!”

I finished that set and went over to our 3-5th grade service where I lead with tracks and a team of students and leaders.  It is all high energy with crazy jumping and dancing.  This weekend, there was a huge foam cross on stage, complete with a crown of thorns, leaning up against a very tall prop behind us.  Half way through the second song, which included a lot of intense jumping, the cross fell over and the crown of thorns went flying. I was so mortified by the imagery, I laughed and said on my headset mic “it’s probably never a good idea to knock over the cross!”  As funny as this was, it wasn’t nearly as funny as what happened the weekend before.

I was leading a song that involves a kick out to the side during the chorus. For some reason this particular morning, my leg didn’t really go out to the side – it kind of rounded out forward a bit. This wouldn’t have been a big deal, had there not been a red tin offering bucket right in front of me. I kicked the offering bucket (no pun intended), launching it about two feet into the air, barely missing the head of one of our precious 3rd grade girls who look terrified.

For some reason we had a ton of change in the offering bucket that day, so it was very loud. The children went scrambling to help pick up the change and put it back in the bucket, while our entire team on stage continued to lead the song while laughing uncontrollably to the point of tears.

And what’s even funnier is that this is the second time I’ve done that, during the same song.  That one should come with a warning label.

I’ve learned that if I don’t laugh at myself from time to time, I will buckle under the pressure of unreasonable expectations I’ve put on myself.  Just because I am a professional certainly doesn’t mean I don’t ever make mistakes.  I’ve learned to roll with the punches, not take some things too seriously, and above all thank God for the extra grace I need to serve Him. And apparently some weekends require more grace than others.


Misty’s Bucket Song:


What Do They Really Remember?

I have been leading worship for a long time and I spend a ton of energy on finding good songs and planning worship experiences that I feel will engage the people who come to our worship services. I do not mean to minimize the importance of all that work, but I have come to the stark reality that people in my church do not remember what a great song we sang or a powerful moment in worship as much as they remember the time I called them before surgery. Or the time I married their daughter. Or the time I sat by the bed of their loved one as they slipped into eternity. Music is not our ministry…it is the people that we are here to serve.  Every outside event you attend and every crisis you show up for seems to validate your voice in the hearts of your people. If you stay long enough in one staff position, you get to see this work in a generational way…some of the kids who were in our children’s choir when I first started at CBC are now leading the children’s choir.  The longer you stay, the more power your voice has in your church. My advice to worship leaders is this: look at your present congregation and determine that you will invest your time and energy in their lives so that when you stand to lead, they can respect the person you are in Christ more than they respect your talent.


Thankful for Brokenness

Have you ever wondered what your life would be without all the brokenness you have experienced? The truth is that it makes us who we are. I had an opportunity to reflect on that this past weekend. Thousands of people gathered at Community Bible Church to hear a message of hope. There was a theme throughout each service and it had so much to do with how God wants to take the broken pieces of our lives to create a masterpiece. We also released our new album and I was overwhelmed with gratitude as I watched people stand in lines to buy their own copy. I spoke with beautiful families and they shared how they had been touched by the songs and stories on the Broken Restored Loved project. It was so encouraging. As I sat with my little son on Sunday night taking it all in, feeling very blessed, I realized none of this project would have been a reality if it wasn’t for those broken pieces that everyone who was a part of this project shared. The truth is this – great stories are written from broken pieces; great songs are written from broken places. God continues to show me that broken is beautiful in his hands! If you are broken today, picture this…God has a plan with your life and your brokenness – and it’s much more beautiful than it looks right now. I’m thankful for brokenness today.


My Holy Puppy

You may have read that I have a new puppy. He is a black Lab, now 5 months old. Colt is both adorable and exasperating, with behaviors that are expected and others that I say out loud “why on earth would you think to do THAT?”

Like when I have a cat IN MY LAP, and he comes up behind the cat and nips at his ears. Just to be annoying. Knowing full well that the cat can turn on a dime and knock the skin off the end of his nose. And Colt eats ice. He will stand at the refrigerator and wait for you to drop ice cubes. And this brings me to the point of the day. I always said “No animals in the kitchen.” Problem is, if he’s running around the house while I’m cooking or washing dishes, I can’t monitor his behavior. So I thought to myself, “if he is under my feet I know exactly what he is chewing and I’ll teach him later not to come behind the bar.” So, the dog is in the kitchen. And the dog hair is in the refrigerator. And in the pancake batter. And in the dishwasher. You get the idea.

I am doing a Bible study and one week our topic was God’s holiness. This concept has always been vague to me. I act like I get it, but I really don’t. Since we live in such an unholy world, I just can’t imagine being where everything is without sin, set apart, free from stain. I know that the song in Heaven on repeat mode is “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty.” I grew up singing “Holy, Holy, Holy” – hymn #1 in the hymnal. I have been to church ten thousand times. I have a degree from seminary. You’d think I would have caught on by now.

But the Lord and Colt just showed me. This is not theological. It does not even come close to a lofty Biblical explanation and this is just one little part of what those 4 letters mean. But a light bulb went off in my head and I will never wonder again about holiness. Last Saturday I had to mop the kitchen floor five times before it was clean. Five times. And the next day it was like I had not even done it. My son said “Since when did you become a clean freak?” “Since this dadgum puppy has taken over my kitchen and no matter what I do, I can’t keep it clean” I said. And the Lord said,”That’s what holiness is…. It’s CLEAN. FOREVER. There are no mistakes, no messes, nothing out of sorts. Everything is fresh and new and perfect. CLEAN. HOLY.”

I love it when God smacks me in the head with truth. And I almost don’t mind the dog hair and dirt much. Almost.


The Theology of Brokenness

Our natural reaction to this topic is always guarded – no one really wants to experience brokenness but as believers, we know that the end result leads to growth in our experience with Christ. Like most areas of the Kingdom of God, there is a godly order and progression to brokenness.

1.     Brokenness is the doorway to humility.  “And being found in appearance as a man, He (Jesus) humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:8.  Jesus was without sin but still had to battle against becoming proud.  He humbled Himself which most of us have never learned to do.  God does not cause the pain in our lives but He allows it so that brokenness may happen.  Remember – pride is the opposite of humility.

2.     Humility leads to Grace.  “You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  1 Peter 5:5.  Pride does go before a fall because the fall brings us to humility and humility is the key to receiving God’s grace.  The grace of God is amazing in that we cannot earn it and without it we will never survive.  “By grace you have been saved. . .” Ephesians 2:8.  Humility is the spring from which the river of grace flows.

3.     Grace is the reason for our provision.  “Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God and He will exalt you in due season.”  1 Peter 5:6.  God is the source of every good gift and His grace is the reason that His provision is even available.  If we walk in obedience to His word, all things are made available to us because of His grace. Paul said, “I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace” Ephesians 3:7.  The depth of this resource goes beyond our understanding.  “To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ . . .” Ephesians 3:8.

Brokenness leads to humility; humility leads to grace; and grace taps us into the provision of God.

“Lord, lead us to experience brokenness with a gentle hand and help us to embrace humility as Christ did, knowing that His attitude made the way for the world to know You and receive forgiveness of sins.” Amen.


Broken Restored Loved Continued- A Fathers Love

Last week my wife and I went to New York. We had a great time! There were so many moments where we did things that we’ve always wanted to do and God worked it out so we could create wonderful memories and have a blast! I was reminded of how God is interested in our heart’s desires. You know the ones that we think he doesn’t care about….yes, every single heart’s desire whether we think big or small. He loves to lavish us with His love!

I grew up in the poorest part of Bronx, NY so being in NY in a different setting made me even more grateful. Here I was years later with my dream girl and loving life! My relationship with my father was broken for so many years and because of this I had a hard time understanding God’s love for me. Years ago, I got to see my Dad and that was the beginning of our restoration. Within a few days I had the honor of leading him to Christ and since then, God has restored our relationship. Today, I am experiencing God’s love is such a great way! Being a father, I understand that no matter what Little Josh does, right or wrong, I will always love him and will always be his father.
You may have had a rough relationship with your father. Don’t let that hold you back from what your Heavenly Father’s love looks like. He loves you so much and wants to lavish you with His love! He knows every heart’s desire and believe it or not, He is more passionate about you seeing the heart’s desires that He has placed in you become a reality. Today, take a moment to reflect on these words and say this simple prayer. “Father, I receive your love and all you have for me.”


The Hope

The corporate world says, “Your hope is in your ability to produce.”
The educational world says, “Your hope is in your ability to reason.”
The athletic world says, “Your hope is in your physical ability.”
The entertainment world says, “Your hope is in your ability to create pleasure.” 

Somehow all of this has an empty ring to it.  There is pressure from every external source to draw from our internal resources to be successful.  The Word of God illustrates again and again that apart from Christ, our personal resources are limited.  The ability within us is, at best, a shallow well that will soon run dry. Coming to the end of ourselves is a hard experience but it is necessary in order for us to grasp the truth of the Word of God.  Desperation for God is the drill that turns our shallow well into “rivers of living water.”  What is your Source of hope?

King David says, “And now Lord, for what did I wait?  My hope is in Thee.”  Psalm 39:7

Hosea says, “So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord.  His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth.”  Hosea 6:3

Job says, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.”  Job 13:15.

Paul says, “Christ is in you, the hope of glory.”  Colossians 1:27.

Jesus says, “If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the Scriptures said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.’”  John 7:37-38

Selah (Think on these things)


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