Archive for March, 2011

31
Mar
11

Miss You, Dad!

Forgive me for this personal note today.  My dad died March 31, 1976 – 35 years ago today.  For most of these 35 years, I have joked about the fact that he died at the precise moment in my life that I was finally beginning to amount to something.  I struggled to find direction for my life until I finally realized that the Lord was drawing me into a life of using my musical talents as a vocational minister of music. But the imprint of my dad’s life on mine has impacted me every day of the 35 years since he left us and went to Heaven.  At some point every day I’m reminded of something or some way that my dad impacted my life.  He taught me many things, verbally and non-verbally.  I learned much of what I know about relating to others and encouraging them just from watching my dad.  He was and continues to be my earthly hero.  He was a Christian and lived every day of his life to do the right thing, honoring the Lord in every way in his personal and professional life.  I am who I am largely because of my desire to live my life in honor of my dad.

 

Jesus is my heavenly Hero.  I continue to learn most of what I know about relating to and ministering to others from the example that Jesus is to me as I read about Him in scripture.  In the 3 years of his public ministry, He impacted the lives of His close circle of 12 disciples in beginning the ministry of His gospel.  Those 12 disciples, empowered by the Holy Spirit, took seriously the Great Commission of Jesus (Matt. 28:19-20) and, beginning with them and continuing to this day, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is still in the process of spreading to the ends of the earth.  My desire is to do my part to spread the Gospel…to reach, teach and help people in Jesus’ Name.  I’m thankful that Community Bible Church offers me the opportunity to do that.

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29
Mar
11

We Are So Busy

My Dad used to say, “the most active chicken in the yard is the one without his head.” I can tell you that most everyone I know has a busy, hectic lifestyle going on, and in most cases we are all on the verge of crashing and burning. The truth be told, we are so scheduled and frantic that it can steal the joy out of doing things that are good and right. The problem is we want to do the right things but there seems to be too little time to spend enjoying any of them.
Jesus was well aware of this problem…especially in ministry. There were several times He told His disciples that He was going to the mountain and He would be gone for a period of time. We all assume He was praying and doing spiritual things…but I suspect that He was also resting. If it was good for Jesus, then I know that it would be good for all of us.
When was the last time you just sat alone in a room or went to your special prayer place to be quiet and listen for God’s voice? When was the last time you stopped and went to your bedroom and took  a nap? When was the last time you took a walk alone and reflected on the goodness of God ?
I know my first response is that I don’t have time…but really…can you afford not to take time to recharge your batteries ? Selah!!!
23
Mar
11

Make a Joyful Noise

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.” -Psalm 100:1

Working in the music department at CBC, I often hear lines like, “you wouldn’t want me to join the choir, I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket!” or “when I start to sing, paint comes off the walls!” While it is true that God has blessed some with more musical talent and ability than others, He has called us all to worship Him. I have always been intrigued by the command in Psalm 100, “make a joyful noise.” Just what exactly is a joyful noise? Thanks to my online concordance, I not only found the answer to that question, but some encouraging insight as well.
First let’s look at the word “joyful.” My dictionary defined it as “having a glad or delighted heart.” This is more than just being happy, which is simply experiencing an emotion. This is contentment and security deep down that doesn’t slip away or switch like emotions do. It’s a peace that is firmly rooted. It can’t be shaken. The definition of “noise” threw me for a loop at first, I have to admit. My concordance defined it as “a non-harmonious or discordant group of sounds, loud, confused, senseless clamor, splitting to the ear.” Surely, I thought, this can’t be right, this can’t be the kind of worship that God wants! How could senseless, confused clamor possibly please Him??
Puzzled, I pressed on and kept searching. It wasn’t until I read the phrase “all the earth” that suddenly light was shed on what the first half of this verse was communicating. “All the earth” is every person, place and thing at large on the earth. This is the whole earth, as opposed to just a part (i.e. you and me). This is all of creation worshipping God as the sovereign Jehovah, or “The Existing One.” This verse tells us that God is pleased when all of His creation worships Him – all together! Sure, the birds of the air and the beasts of the field will “sound” different as they worship him than we do. I’m sure that the sound of a rock crying out (whatever that may be) does not sound much like my praise, but it all starts to make sense. Throughout the Bible, there is mention of creation groaning, crying out and worshipping God. He is Lord of ALL and is glorified when ALL worship Him. We know that there will come a day when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. Every valley will be lifted up and every mountain will be brought low. All of creation, including you and I, will acknowledge Him as Lord. He longs for that praise and glory. It may sound a little strange when all of creation is worshipping Him together, but it is brilliant music to God’s ears.
So next time you or someone around you starts thinking that their praise is senseless clamoring and could not possibly bring a smile to God’s face, remember Psalm 100:1. When heartfelt worship comes forth from our lips, we join a much larger chorus of mountains bowing down, seas roaring and all sorts of creatures (check out Psalm 148!) already worshipping Him. God hears our hearts but He also hears our joyful noise!

21
Mar
11

No. I Don’t Live At Church

I ran into a fourth grade kids choir student at a department store a while back. She looked at me with incredulous eyes and didn’t have to open her mouth for me to know what she was thinking. “You…mean…you…have…a…real…life? I had just finished a work out and was buying pillows. “You…mean…you…have…a…family?” I spoke with her grandma and tried to converse with her but she never spoke a word. “You… mean…you don’t sing songs and jump around and pray and write me speaking parts seven days a week?” “No” I laughed inside. “I don’t live at church”.

Being in the worship ministry, just like any other ministry, is all-consuming. Someone has to lead worship every single weekend. We can’t decide to go to the lake on a whim. We can’t sleep in just because. In the summer we’re planning Christmas and in the winter we’re planning Easter. With all of the CD projects we have going, I am constantly writing, arranging, rehearsing, or recording. I mentor songwriters and young worship leaders. I love the pace. I thrive on the energy. But you can’t go full blast all the time. So I am teaching myself to unplug.

On my days off I don’t check email and I rarely check Facebook. I take work home, but I do the things that energize me, not the things that drain me. I recognize that I am truly an introvert, so I need alone time. When I’m doing housework, the house is silent. When I garden, I listen to the birds and let my mind wander, or pray, or sing. I go to bed at a reasonable hour every night. I start every morning with Bible study and prayer. I schedule ‘on purpose’ time with friends and family. My weight training sessions are on my calendar and are non negotiable except in emergency.

This winter has been exceptionally busy and I have found it harder to do the things I just I said. Recently, I heard Chris Emmitt preach about the rhythm of life. I realized immediately that I suffer from ‘arrythmia” – it’s not a word – I just made that up. My weekly schedule is so packed, with so little wiggle room, that I am running on high-gear. All the time. I don’t know how to function on “low.” My rhythm is off. I am impatient and unsettled; I feel guilty for relaxing because there is so much to do. I always have to do the things that must be done, so there is no time left for the things I want to do. I need to learn how to just ‘be’. I need to be able to shift from high to low and not be derailed.

My 16 year-old had shoulder surgery a few weeks ago and I have cherished the time I have had with him caring for him, doing homework, watching movies and driving him around. It’s been really nice. Sometimes the hard things are the good things. He even said “Mom, do you think part of this is that God wanted me to spend more time with you?” Pretty wise for what could be a self-absorbed teenager. I could learn something from him.

“No, I don’t live at church.” Ministry comes from a well-balanced life. I’m trying my hardest to find that place.

17
Mar
11

Toys, Toilets, and God’s Love

Three things that probably aren’t often mentioned in the same sentence, but the first two are the things that made me consider the third this morning. I’ll explain:

I have three beautiful daughters. They teach me so much more than I teach them. This morning, Adyson (four) was playing with her toys in the bathroom instead of brushing her teeth. I heard a devastated cry coming from her restroom. When I got there, she struggled to tell me through her tears that her toys had fallen into the toilet.  My first thought was to say, “oh well” and flush them down the toilet, thus teaching  a *valuable lesson* about obedience. As I looked into her eyes, I couldn’t imagine the pain I would feel watching her as her favorite toys got flushed. So instead, I prepared myself mentally for what I had to do.

I know what you’re thinking. “Please tell me the water was clean.” Well, technically it was a fresh bowl of water, but is toilet water ever really clean? No. Never. And I refuse to discuss this further.

Just as I plunged my hand into the toilet, I looked at Adyson and said, ”this is how much I love you.” That’s when it happened.  At the exact moment I spoke those words, I could feel God saying the very same words to me. “This is how much I love you.”

Now, I’m betting that God wasn’t trying to tell me that He literally put His hand in a toilet for me, but the analogy resonated in my heart. He put his hands into the depths of my heart. He reached into the filth of my sin and placed His hand on my life.  No matter how many times Adyson has been or will be disobedient (and trust me, that’s a lot) I still love her. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll stick my hand in the toilet again if she didn’t learn her lesson, but I love her the same regardless. Yet, how much greater is God’s love for me? How much more does He care for me? When the storms of life (or maybe the toilets) come, He is there. He might not always fish my toys out of the toilet, or He might not retrieve them right when I ask Him to, but He will surely comfort me in a loving embrace.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Nothing can separate us from the love of God. When we choose to play with toys instead of brushing our teeth, when we choose to listen to our flesh instead of His voice, still He loves us more than we can ever begin to fathom.

God, today I worship You because of Your unfailing love, a love that I cannot reach the end of. Help me to listen to Your voice, trust Your word, and surrender fully to You. Thank you that when I don’t listen and my toys fall in the toilet, You still love me the same.

Romans 8:38-39 (New International Version)

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

14
Mar
11

Does God Really Care About Me?

On a recent trip,  I was seated on a flight next to a young man that was coming to San Antonio for Basic Training at Lackland Air Force Base. He came from a broken home and was raised by a host of people, but his primary caregiver was an aunt. He was attacked about being in the military as being his only hope for a decent future. I listened and finally interjected God into our conversation. He had ben to church on few occasions but never had any real background spiritually. The conversation turned toward a personal relationship with Christ and then he asked the question. Does God really care about me? He was not trying to be confrontational; he was being honest. His perception of God was not evil…it was non-existent. This young man wanted God to care but he really did not feel that God would have the time or energy to get involved in the day-to-day workings of his life.


His question broke my heart, but I did take the time to share how God had taken me through many tough situations and that I was grateful to God for His love and personal care for me. I shared a few verses from the Bible and then asked him if he wanted to have a personal relationship with Christ…his response was positive but he felt he needed to know more before he could make a decision.

That conversation woke me up to the reality that most people that do not have a spiritual background or heritage have a hard time believing that God has the time or the ability to get involved on a personal level with each person. In reality, most all of us at times probably question how God can do this. My only answer to this comes from personal experience and from the Scripture…God says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” and in my life I can promise you that is the truth. Even when I have not been behaving in a Christian manner, He still never left me. When all others were gone, He was still with me. You can trust in this fact and when you are afraid or troubled, you can call on Him.

Yes, God does really care about YOU!!!!

09
Mar
11

Our Miracles- Joshua Daniel and Cristian David

In our dark hours, when our faith is tested, that’s when our faith grows and our view of God is magnified. For those of you that don’t know, a few years back Martha and I lost our first child. We were devastated. God wrapped his arms around us and we trusted that in His time He would give us our heart’s desire. A year later, we learned our little nephew had been abandoned at 3 months. In a months time we adopted him and Joshua is now our son. He is our little angel and gift from up above. About a year after, we found out Martha was pregnant. I have to stop and say, my wife is amazing! This was a miracle in itself after all the complications we had with our first child. Then on Feb. 15, 2011, Cristian was born. It was an incredible day and our hearts were overjoyed! A few days after that, he lost 13 percent of His weight and weighed 5lbs 13oz. Our pediatrician made an immediate decision that he needed to be admitted in the NICU. My wife and I had that feeling of fear that we had before when we lost our first child, we desperately cried out to God and asked him to heal Cristian.

 

After a day in NICU, the doctors were concerned that Cristian had an infection so they ordered every test. This was tough as I watched our newborn hooked up to machines and walked through a room filled with sick little innocent babies. I will never forget the faces of broken parents holding on to hope. Each day our faith grew more and more as we watched God heal our son. I sang to him the other night and asked him if he would sing for Jesus one day…this is that video. I want to encourage you in your dark hours to allow God to grow your faith and run to him. Today all Cristian’s tests have come back negative and there is no more infection, he is healed. I know God is in control, He loves us so much. Our faith has grown so much these past few days and our eyes have been opened to hurting Fathers and Mothers losing their babies. My dear friend and mentor, Ray Jones, visited us and prayed with us. He said, God grows when we are faced with trials. It is so true. We are so thankful and amazed each day as we consider all God has brought us through. His grace is enough for every situation you are facing.

 

 




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