Archive for June, 2011



I had a blast hangin’ out at the pool with my 2 year old son, Joshua, the other day! He got in the water just fine and wanted to go to the deep. He even got out and wanted to jump into the pool towards Daddy’s arms. I had a smile from ear to ear as I watched him be so confident. I realized that his confidence was totally dependent on my arms holding him up. You see, while he was enjoying his time in the deep water, I was making sure that I held him up.
In the same way, in my relationship with God I am learning that He just wants me to enjoy the different seasons in life as He holds me up and to trust Him.

Trust is something that Joshy my son does without even thinking about it. He is just enjoying life. Prov. 3:5 says, “trust in the Lord with all your heart and don’t lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path.” Today, trust that God has already made a way, trust that He is holding you up so you can enjoy the deep waters that you might find yourself in. Instead of looking down and thinking you are going to drown, enjoy the fact that God is holding you up and will never let you go. By the way, Joshy even wanted to jump off the diving board…but I told him that he wasn’t ready for that yet. That will be another blog when he is older.


There are People Out There Who Need Jesus – For Real

My nephew graduated high school in north central California and our whole family went out for a week to celebrate. Things California has that south central Texas doesn’t have: cool summer weather, beaches AND mountains, In and Out Burger, and MC Hammer. We got to meet MC. For real. His son plays on my younger nephew’s baseball team. My brother-in-law is the coach. U can’t touch that.

Besides MC, (now a pastor along with other endeavors) and my nephew (whom we led to Christ two years ago) I am not sure if we encountered any other Christians. I’m not being judgmental or high and mighty. It was just an observation that hit this little Bible belt girl square between the eyes. There are people out there that don’t have a clue who Jesus really is and could care less. For real.

I didn’t think that was possible in America. My sister and brother-in-law and apparently none of their friends go to church. We spent an evening with two of my first cousins that I haven’t seen in perhaps ten years. One of them sends his daughter to a Catholic school and they unapologetically claim “non-religious” as their faith. When I tried to slip Jesus and what He means to me into the conversation, I got looks that ranged from “you are a fanatic” to blank stares that said (without saying) “I have absolutely no basis of reference for anything you are saying.” Needless to say, I have a heavy burden for my cousins, their children, my aunt and uncle and basically, the whole state of California.

I have several things to ponder concerning all this.
1) Would anyone know I am a Christian if we hung out some Saturday afternoon and we couldn’t talk about my job or my church? I hope so. I think so. I know in my head I filter everything, EVERYTHING, through my faith, through the Bible, through obedience to the Lord, but does Jesus come out in my words, in my actions, in my laughter, in my appearance to the world? For real?
2) As a song-writer, I am prompted to write songs full of truth, full of Jesus, full of life-giving light and hope and peace that aren’t for the church. At all. Songs that don’t have words like redemption, Lamb of God, and righteousness; songs that don’t talk about “how miserable I was before I met Jesus,” because they’re not – THEY’RE NOT – they’re happy and successful…for the time being; songs that reveal the character of God to a world that has no clue that God is personal, that God is reachable, that God is desirable. God commands us to sing a new song to Him, so, yes, I will still write songs of worship to praise the God I love. But I have a new objective to write Christian music for non-Christians that will make sense to them. Because what we say and how we say it doesn’t make sense to them at all. For real.
3) Since I grew up in the south with a church on every corner, in a family that went (and still does) Sunday morning, Sunday evening and to prayer meeting on Wednesday night, since my momma taught me how to worship, my step-dad is a pastor and my daddy says “thank You Lord” as a response to almost anything, since I work in a church, and all my friends go to church, and I really don’t have much of a life outside of church, for real, I don’t realize that there is a whole other world out there with absolutely no Jesus, no concern about their eternal destination, no apparent need for God in their day-to-day lives. What am I going to do about that? I know that within my ministry I’m doing exactly what God called me to do, but it’s not enough. I am compelled to tell about Jesus where it is uncomfortable, where it is unwanted, where it is not solicited to people who don’t even know they need Him. For real.

In his parachute-panted hip hop heyday, MC sang “Oh my Lord, thank You for blessing me.” For real – those are lyrics from “U Can’t Touch This.” MC knew Jesus even if he didn’t always show it. Just like the rest of us Bible belters. We don’t always show it. But we need to. For real.


coming down from the mountain

I just returned from close to 16 days of nothing but summer camp. It was an amazing time, and many students not only came to know Jesus for the first time, but also learned how to worship for the first time. What a blessing to be there and see their faces light up for Jesus.

Camp is a huge mountain top experience for me, and I’m sure you have your own, be it a CD project, an Easter program, or anything else monumental on your desk.  I have learned that after coming down from the mountain I tend to be not just tired, but drained emotionally as well.  The influence of being drained emotionally shouldn’t be underestimated – it can be a slightly unpleasant filter that we see everything through. Here’s what I’ve learned from coming down from the mountain:

1) Don’t contemplate huge life decisions.

When I am every kind of tired, I find myself pondering life, work, and everything under the sun. I don’t know why that is, but it happens like clockwork every year about this time. If I am not firing on all cylinders, I have found it’s not a good time to obsess about big decisions or life changes.

2) Don’t panic.

Any time I finish a big project with great success, I tend to panic.  Without something huge to work on that says “look at me, I am working hard and doing a great job” in flashing lights, I tend to worry that I will look and feel like I’m being lazy and fading into the background.  We all have our high times in ministry, and sometimes we forget that it’s not that we’re being slackers, we’re just not giving 300% at the moment – we’re back to our normal close to 100%.

3) Don’t freeze up, keep moving.

There is always something on the horizon, and I have to celebrate the mountain experience, but also move on. I can think of 3-4 really big projects on my desk right now that have the potential to be just as amazing as far as mountain experiences go.  I may be tired and feel a sense of accomplishment, but there is much work yet to be done, and always will be until Jesus comes back.


Great USB Hub

If you want to add a USB hub to your computer, this is the one to get:

Cables Unlimited USB1870   7-port Hub ($25 at Amazon).  Unlike the typical Linksys, D-Link, and Belkin hubs, this one is a multi-TT design (Google it).  Now you mix and match USB 1.0 and 2.0 devices without slowing down the whole hub!

Until next time,



Paul…Transformed Worshipper

Paul was the cornerstone that God used to help the New Testament church form the majority of its theology. His letters to the churches give both design and the basic parameters that keep event the modern day church focused. You do not have to read many of Paul’s letters to see he was a true worshipper with a deep understanding of the importance of worship in the life of the individual as well a the function of worship in the life of the church. He started and ended most letters praising, blessing, or rejoicing. He broke into praise in many of his letters to emphasis His dependence on Christ and his joy in the Christian journey.

In Philippians, the Book of Joy, he shows us how to rejoice from the prison cell. In Chapter 4:4 NASB Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! How can a guy rejoice from prison? He knew that his circumstances should not be the controlling factor of his joy.  I am sure he was not happy to be imprisoned but he saw that as a temporary state of being and that the big picture of his relationship to Christ and his future in Heaven could overrule his temporary inconvenient state of being. Have you ever been in a bad situation but found that you still had joy in Christ. When my Dad passed away several years ago, I was not happy, but because I knew that he was in Heaven and that he was no longer suffering and in pain I had a since of deep abiding joy. Happiness and joy are different entities. Happiness depends on your present circumstances but joy is dependent on a current vital personal worship life with Jesus.

Then in Philippians 4:8 NASB “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things,” Paul gives us a charge about how to fix our minds on the blessings of God. The phrase “anything worthy of praise” indicates that Paul wants people to recognize the goodness of God. He sees the benefits of praise and he wants each person to find the things that are good and give praise to God for them. The greater lesson here is that when the crisis of life arises, you have to dwell on the blessings of God so that you will gain the perspective that is necessary to survive the struggle. In November 2007, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I would love to tell you that it did not move me, but it shook me to my core. For several days I was in a faith crisis because I was never expected to have cancer. After the initial shock and the surgery that followed I sat in my living room with my wife Andrea and our friend Brian Duncan and God gave us several songs that have been used by the Lord to touch lives all over the world. The songs were about the power of His name, His mercy and how He is the source of our strength and help. Now I can give glory to God for his mercy and for his healing power.

Paul also gave a mandate to the church in Ephesians 3:20-21 NASB “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” Paul is clear that the ultimate purpose of the church is to bring honor and glory to Jesus. I understand that every local fellowship has it’s God given vision and plan from God but EVERY church must know that within its core values praise and worship must be a vital priority so that the church can stay centered on Loving God


School’s Out – Time for Rest

School has been out a few weeks and with two trips already behind me, the summer looms large, ripe with potential. I love summer. Schedules are loose, commitments are breezy. But being an adult, it can’t compare to the feeling of “school’s out.” I remember the first summer I was on a church staff, I realized with much consternation that though the calendar said “June,” I was expected to go to work each day. That summer felt like prison. I had made it to 27 being a student or a school teacher. I did not think I would live through that summer. No one should be inside a building in July. Really.
The other day when I picked up my 8th grader from school on the last day and watched him dance around in the car like a crazy man, I knew he was celebrating many things. Summer. The end of middle school. The thought of 2 ½ months stretching out in endless abandon. I turned to him and said “You know this feeling that you feeling right now? This pure joy, this reckless gift of freedom? Adults never get that.” I’m really not a pessimistic person, but I am having a hard time with this. With family scattered, my vacation gets eaten up spending time with all factions. It’s wonderful, but never truly restful. I need to be alone, perhaps. I think I need a sabbatical.
Oh dear, that word comes from “sabbath.” Secular dictionaries describe it as “a day of rest and worship.” Another concept that I have a really hard time with: say it’s Sunday. I worshipped today. So then I come home and try to rest. And doing nothing is, well, boring. My brain won’t stop planning, creating, sorting. If I’m not producing, then what good am I? I want to produce good fruit for the Kingdom, for my family, for myself. “Be still and know?” Hardly possible. But is it?
God created the whole world. Then He stopped. And He rested. And He called it holy. What would I give to be able to stop. To say “It’s good. It’s finished.” When you think about it, God didn’t have to rest. God never sleeps nor slumbers. But He gave us the example we need. He said rest was necessary, mandatory, HOLY. Set apart, perfect, blissful. No matter how busy we make ourselves, we will never be finished with our work here on earth until the day we are standing at the throne with our mouths agape. So we might as well quit trying to be so darn effective and try being a little more playful, a little more lackadaisical, a little more like an 8th grader on the last day of school.
I’m going to spend this summer perfecting rest. And it’s going to start, for real, Sunday by Sunday. Sabbath by Sabbath. School’s out. Rest is only a holy moment away.


Jesus…Worship With Your Heart

In the past, I have had people confront me about the fact that Jesus did not address New Testament worship…but I have to disagree.  Jesus was all about daily worship and was often found in the synagogues, alone in the wilderness, and even in day-to-day experience. Jesus had a private and public worship life. We also see him speaking on worship to the woman at the well, in the Temple when he said: “if any man is thirsty, let him come to me and drink,” when he addressed Martha concerning Mary sitting at his feet, and when the woman came and anointed his feet with oil.

One of my personal favorites is when Jesus addressed the disciples on rejoicing over having Holy Spirit power over demons in Luke 10: 17-22 The Message. The seventy came back triumphant. “Master, even the demons danced to your tune!” Jesus said, “I know. I saw Satan fall, a bolt of lightning out of the sky. See what I’ve given you? Safe passage as you walk on snakes and scorpions, and protection from every assault of the Enemy. No one can put a hand on you. All the same, the great triumph is not in your authority over evil, but in God’s authority over you and presence with you. Not what you do for God but what God does for you—that’s the agenda for rejoicing. “At that, Jesus rejoiced, exuberant in the Holy Spirit. “I thank you, Father, Master of heaven and earth, that you hid these things from the know-it-alls and showed them to these innocent newcomers. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way. “I’ve been given it all by my Father! Only the Father knows who the Son is and only the Son knows who the Father is. The Son can introduce the Father to anyone he wants to.”

This passage shows us the desire of men to get Jesus’ approval over their success in ministry but Jesus wanted them to get the bigger picture.  Jesus wanted them to rejoice over the fact that they were going to be in Heaven one day. You see, He had been to heaven and he knew what was in store for them. At that point in verse 21, the passage states “Jesus rejoiced, exuberant in the Holy Spirit.” When you research those words in the original language it may be best translated that Jesus jumped for joy (how undignified)! Then He broke into a prayer of praise to the Father – not caring who was listening or what anyone thought about Him. Our worship must be like this scene; we have to come to the point that we do not care what others think.  Our worship must become uninhibited and be totally abandoned to the moment so that we will be unhindered by the opinions of man.

Early in my worship journey, a church leader confronted me about my open expression during worship. He accused me of being the same as a cult leader manipulating the emotions of the congregation to bring them into an over emotional state. I was crushed by his words but knew that my heart was pure and that I was only trying to bring people into the presence of Christ. What we must recognize is the difference between emotion and reality. The reality of the moment caused Jesus to have an emotional reaction of pure joy – much like the feeling we get when our sports team makes a great play. In those moments, our reality becomes emotional because of the joy and celebration that overtakes us. Why would this be offensive to others (especially those that are also believers in Christ)? My only response is that their reality has never reached its potential. I pray that your expression of worship is unhindered by your inhibitions.

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