Tuesday, February 24, 2009

30 Years

February 24, 1979

Today marks 30 years of marriage to Karla!

So far this morning, we have celebrated by taking care of Ben who has the stomach flu....welcome to life.....

God has blessed us way beyond expectations.

After 30 years, we are still learning how to love each other, care for each other, communicate with each other, and enjoy each other, but the journey has been and continues to be incredible.

We have friends who have shown us what a healthy marriage looks like, we have friends who have helped us raise our kids, and we have/had Godly parents who modeled a healthy marriage. What more does a couple need?

As we grow old together, I am reminded of something Jay Strother said as part of Seth and Arley's wedding ceremony in September 2006 - (pardon my loose interpretation) "Seth and Arley believe that they can accomplish more for God together than separately, and therefore they come together in holy matrimony to do that."

Every day that I get to live, I want to believe that is exactly what God has allowed in our lives. So, today, I thank God for my marriage to Karla, and pray that it can always bring glory to Him.

(yes, the photo was taken at our wedding reception, and she is indeed a beautiful bride, and I have no idea where my hair went!)

Friday, February 20, 2009

World-Class Musicianship

Last night, Ben and I had the immense joy of attending the US Navy Band in concert at the Collins Alumni Auditorium on the campus of Lipscomb University.

Besides being a "free" concert - (Ben and I had a lively debate on the way home trying to decide who covered all the expenses so that the concert attendees did not have to pay to see this group!!)

The concert was outstanding. A mixture of unique classical pieces intertwined with Sousa marches, and their performance of John Williams' classic movie theme, E.T. was just amazing!

They invited some area high school and college students to join them on stage to play the Sousa march, "The Washington Post"..... wow!

What a beautiful evening of incredible music played by some of the most extraordinary musicians anywhere.

If you get the chance to see and hear them while they are on their 26 concert-28 day tour, don't miss it! I would have gladly paid to experience it!

For more information, click HERE

Friday, February 13, 2009


The journey began 5 years ago this month when our Missions Minister, Scott Harris introduced us (me and Karla) to John & Avril Thomas from Cape Town, South Africa.

That conversation was the beginning of a most incredible music & worship ministry missions partnership with some of the most loving, talented, and under-resourced people on planet earth. Since our first trip there in 2004, we have taken (3) music/worship teams there leading workshops, and we are planning two more trips this year.

At our very first meeting with John, he told us about a church choir in a community (Masiphumelele - "Masi" for short) near his church who had recorded their very first CD. He was convinced that one day this choir should and would record another CD. In March of 2007, our team spent several days in Cape Town recording the Masi Choir. In and around that same time, several Christian artists (Jars Of Clay, Casting Crowns, and Michael W. Smith) made their way to Cape Town - they met John, heard about the ministry of Living Hope, heard the Masi Choir sing and lead worship, and they all told John they would do whatever they could do to help the ministry of Living Hope and the Masi Choir. John was convinced in his heart that these artists "had" to be on this CD. (If you know John - his vision, passion, and faith are all "off the chart", and it is almost impossible to say "no" to him!!)

So, literally for the past two years, we have been working on behalf of John Thomas, Living Hope, and the Masi Choir to "secure" these artists and have them record one song on the Masi Choir CD.

The beautiful and sometimes frustrating thing about artists who want to help ministries like Living Hope and the Masi Choir is that they truly want to do this, but they are also most often contractually obligated to companies who quite honestly cannot always afford to allow such valuable "assets" to "give away" their name value to charitable organizations.

However, today was a monumental day in this journey.

Both Michael W. Smith and Dan Haseltine (lead singer for Jars Of Clay) came to the studio and recorded their respective songs. I can't tell you in words how I feel. I see the faces of that choir, I hear their voices, and now we have (arguably) two of the most recognizable voices in Christian music singing along with this beautiful African choir!

I praise God for His timing. I look forward to what is next, but for today, I thank God for the unique and authentic generosity of two men who more often than not have to say "no" when they truly want to say "yes".

Today they said "yes", and there are many people in a tiny church in the middle of a community overcome with poverty and HIV/AIDS who are rejoicing!

To God be the glory!

Some Very Random Thoughts On "New"

This might be my most random and potentially ridiculous blog post in a very long time if not ever, so if you dare - keep reading......

Why do we crave new?
When does new become not new?
When does new become old?
Is there a time in between not new and old?
Why is new to some and not to others?
Why do worship leaders insist on singing new songs all the time?
Why would we rather drive a new car than a "pre-owned" car?
Why do we want a new house?
Why do we want a new job?
Why do we crave new clothes?
new furniture
new kitchen
new garage
new girlfriend
new boyfriend
new wife
new husband
new computer
new cell phone
new widescreen HDTV

What is our fascination with new?
What is right with new?
What is wrong with not new?

I guess this hit me this week related to songs and church buildings.
In my profession, I am always looking for new songs - particular right now new Easter songs. On a weekly basis, worship leaders everywhere are introducing new songs to their congregations. What is new to some is vaguely familiar to others. What is old to some, is brand new to others. What gives? I remind my choir often that some of the older hymns we sing were new at one point - they refuse to believe that (smile)!

We are about to open a new building/room/space on our church campus called the Connection Center. I still remember when we moved into our now-almost-7-year-old Worship Center. How exciting it was to be there because it was new. Now it is not nearly as exciting to be in that room because we have become familiar with it. The new Connection Center will be new. So that makes me wonder when it will no longer "feel" new to everyone.

Why does any of this matter?

I don't really know except that I guess I want to be careful not to always be consumed with new. New always becomes not new and eventually old. Keeping new in persepective might be a good thing.

I tend to be equally thrilled that within God's Church we celebrate a new baby, new Christians, as well as honor those who have been married for 50+ years!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Minister On-Site

Since most if not all of the ministerial staff at our church work on Sundays, we usually are off on Fridays.

However, each minister rotates serving as "on-site" minister each Friday.

This is different from our "on-call" minister who is available to respond to ministry/family/Benevolence/medical, etc.. emergencies.

(If you are thoroughly confused, fret not - for the sake of this post, it really does not matter!)

I had the joy of being on-site yesterday.

I can't speak for other ministers and what they get to deal with when they are on site, but you would have thought yesterday was Friday the 13th instead of next Friday!

I had to respond to two uniquely different phone calls and situations.

A lady calls from out of state concerned about her son who has moved to Nashville and has no place to stay. She wants to know if he can park his car in our parking lot and sleep overnight in his car in our lot! There is so much more to this story, but WOW! I took all her information, passed it along to our Benevolence Ministry, and hopefully they will be able to offer some kind of assistance to this young man and relieve his mother's anxiety.

A man calls to tell me he accidentally broke a kerosine lamp sitting next to their family Bible, and now the Bible is ruined - soaked and smells aweful. He ask me what he should do with the Bible? He told me they can't destroy it or throw it away or burn it - because it is sacred. So.....what do you do in this situation? WOW #2...
I told him I would ask around for advice and counsel, and I would call him back on Monday. In the meantime, I suggested he wrap the Bible in plastic, seal it, and place it in his garage until I get back to him with whatever "official" counsel I can offer!

Ministry is completely crazy sometimes - that's all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Happy Belated Birthday!

My 57th birthday was last Sunday.

Before you consider me to be egotistical in wishing myself a belated happy birthday, this post is truly not about me - other than the honor I have of sharing my birthday with a true legend - one of my heroes...... George Beverly Shea.

For 62 years, Bev Shea has been the voice of the Billy Graham Crusades. He turned 100 on Sunday, and he did a concert!!!! Good grief - a concert at age 100!! Most people don't get to breathe that many years, much less still be able to carry a tune out loud!

I know I have talked and written about being with the Billy Graham Crusade in Syracuse, NY in March of 1989. I talk and write about that because it was such an honor to be around that team of people. Bev Shea was gracious to sit in a quiet room under the arena seating in the Carrier Dome and visit with me that evening. I will always remember the opportunity to just listen to him talk about life and ministry.

So, I encourage you to read more about this incredible man of God. You can do so by clicking HERE