Showing posts from May, 2013

Decisions, Decisions...

This coming week begins my busy month of June. It kicks off with something I'm very much looking forward too: Summer Camp! This year I'll be taking the students through the book of Esther, a book which I hadn't studied in depth until recently. As I poured over this story I was struck by many things, but one theme in particular really got my attention: The decisions we make are important, and sometimes the most important decisions are the ones we don't have to make. Here's what I mean.

Every day we are faced with hundreds of little choices. What should I wear? What's for breakfast? How fast will I drive? Will I call that person or just send them a text? How firm should I shake this person's hand?... and the list goes on and on. These are decisions we have to make. We can't just sit back and do nothing. If we do that nothing would happen. We wouldn't eat, go to work, get dressed, or do anything.

But then there are other decisions, sometimes big decis…

Wind-up Wednesday: Superman's Beard Rant

Some people rant about the smallest things from their favorite movies. This one in particular is AMAZING! I've always wondered about this, but I don't think it will keep me from seeing Man of Steel. Enjoy!

Juggling Problems

Do you ever feel overwhelmed with life? Normal life can get pretty busy, but sometimes it's like you have too many irons in the fire, too many pots on the stove, juggling too many things... pick your metaphor. For many of you, summer brings with it the joy of taking a break from things. You get to go on vacation, finish school, sleep in, and do all those fun things you've put off. For me, things are headed into overdrive.

During the month of June our family will be home approximately twelve days. For seven of those twelve days we'll be doing ministry work in the evening. Those times away include 3,500 miles of driving, Summer Camp, Senior Trip, and a smattering of other engaging activities. Add that together and you have the recipe to get overwhelmed pretty quickly.

Today I had a special moment when my brain was going into overdrive, thinking of all the things that could possibly go wrong on each of these trips. It was like a hundred voices all talking at once in my brain…

Sunday Singables: "Jesus, Thank You"

"Jesus, Thank You" by Pat Sczebel, released by Sovereign Grace Music on Worship God Live(2005)

Why I recommend this song for worship-

Coming to the Lord in worship each week should be a humbling experience. Few things humble the worshiper more than being reminded that we were once God's enemies, but have now been brought near. God didn't save us from a neutral position to become His children. He redeemed rebels whose lives promoted the very things He hated. This song reminds us of these truths and enables us to respond in worship, singing words like "Thank You" and "I want to live for you."

This song relates to many of the truths found in Hosea as well, which we focused on in our services today. The themes of redemption and God wooing us as a lover back to himself are poetically spoken in this song. The melody is also easy to pick up and matches the lyrics very well. This is a great song to follow a message on redemption or to sing while we give ou…

What's My Name?

This Sunday I have the privilege of preaching at my church. We'll be looking at the book of Hosea. Below is a little teaser I wrote for our weekly newsletter introducing the sermon. I'll have more on this next week once the message has been given.

Each of us has a name. Sometimes that name has great meaning. Sometimes not so much. I have a friend, Dallas, who was named for his dad’s favorite football team. Others are named after a parent or grandparent. In today’s day and age we seldom think of what a name actually means and think more about how it sounds. I’m named Joshua, which means “The Lord Saves.” While this name has biblical significance, I don’t think my parents gave me this name in hopes that the Lord would accomplish some great salvation by my hand.

As we grow and mature, sometimes we get nicknames to remind us of some event from our past or present. Maybe a friend calls you tank because of how you plowed through a lineman in football twenty years ago. In fact, sport…

Wind-up Wednesday: Jimmy Fallon, Neil Young, and the Fresh Prince

I'm a child of the 90's, so this song is one I grew up with and memorized and can still sing to this day. So, without further adieu, here's Jimmy Fallon doing an impression of Neil Young singing a Will Smith song from his days as the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

God is Sovereign, Even Over a Tornado

"From its chamber comes the whirlwind, and cold from the scattering winds. By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen fast. He loads the thick clouds with moisture; and clouds scatter his lightning. They turn around and around by his guidance,     to accomplish all that he commands them on the face of the habitable world. Whether for correction or for his land or for love, he causes it to happen." "Hear this, O Job; stop and consider the wondrous works of God." ~Job 37:9-14
These amazing words were spoken to Job by one of his friends. What's amazing about them is not just the truth that they convey about our sovereign God, but that they were delivered to a man whose children had been recently killed in a tornado. In Job 1:18-19 we read "Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house, and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell u…

Sunday Singables: "Arise, My Soul Arise"

"Arise, My Soul Arise" written by Charles Wesley, music by Kevin Twitt, released by Indelible Grace  (2000)

Why I recommend this song for worship-

Guilt and fear rob us of so many opportunities to really worship our Lord in the freedom of grace and forgiveness. This song opens with the reminder that we can approach the throne of grace with confidence, knowing that the Son has enabled us to shake off guilt and fear. The upbeat tempo and singable melody encourage us to do what the words say: "Arise!" No longer do we need to cower in shame for our sin. Christ has taken care of that on the cross. Now all we need do is come and worship the Lord. Not only does this song accurately teach the truths of the gospel, but it encourages the biblical response of worship. All of these elements make this a wonderful song with which to worship our God.

Changes I've Made- 

The only change I've made is in adding some harmony lines. Below is the standard lead sheet you can downl…

Wind-Up Wednesday: Charlton Heston in Wayne's World

Finals are done, finally, so expect a bit more blogging later this week. For now, enjoy this little clip. Once you get past the Wayne stuff, Charlton Heston is priceless about a minute in.

Sunday Singables: Mothers' Day

Today is Mothers' Day. I love that we celebrate this day on a Sunday where we can be reminded of the joy of new life that mothers bring as well as the new life we receive from our heavenly Father. Over the years I've enjoyed the legacy of music, as well as many other things, that my mother has left me. So, rather than feature one particular worship song, here are just a couple "Mothers" songs. The first is a new one from the Getty's that my wonderful wife and mother of our three girls sang this morning in our service. The second is one that my Mom has sang often on this special day as I was growing up. I hope this day is special for you mothers out there.

"A Mother's Prayer" sung by Kristyn Getty (2012)

"Little Boy on His Knees" sung by Cheri Keaggy (1994)

(...not sure who this family is, but the song is what I remember)

Tuning My Soul

We have a wonderful piano at our church. It sounds beautiful and really fills the room. However, typically when the seasons change, it can tend to go out of tune. Today I had to give it some loving attention before I was driven crazy during our worship service.

As I set to work this afternoon I realized that tuning a piano is a lot like tuning my soul. You see, a piano has 88 keys, but for most of those keys there are two or three individual strings that make up any one note. Middle C has three strings that are all tuned together to produce a full sounding tone. If any one of those three strings is even slightly out of tune with the others the entire note will sound bad. If you add notes to the out of tune note in a chord, they'll sound bad as well. Pretty soon you have a whole piano sounding like it should be in a saloon in the old west.

The first thing you need is an infallible standard to compare the notes to. For me that's my digital tuner. In my spiritual life, it's …

Wind-Up Wednesday: How Animals Eat Their Food

I came across this little video a few weeks ago and had to share it. If you are one of the 50 million plus who have already seen it, enjoy it again.

Community Withdrawal

What do you do when discouragement comes? Do you seek distraction? Do you withdraw from those around you? Do you just want to be left alone? I tend to react in all of these ways. Trials and discouragement leave me depressed and mentally unable to think clearly about life. This tends to make seemingly normal tasks difficult and burdensome.

We all deal with these feelings in different ways, some healthier than others. I don't claim to be a certified counselor, but I have noticed a trend in our churches that has disturbed me and I want to write about what I think is a Biblical solution. What is this trend? I call it community withdrawal.

Over the years I've spent in church I've observed two stages people go through when discouragement enters their life. Perhaps you've seen these as well. The first stage is a withdrawal from service. People need time away from serving at church or participating in things like the music ministry or children's Sunday school to sort out …

Sunday Singables: "Nothing But The Blood"

"Nothing But The Blood" by Matt Redman, released on Facedown (2004)

Why I recommend this song for worship-

Matt Redman is one of my favorite worship artists. I really enjoy a lot of his music. Songs like Blessed Be Your Name, Let Everything That Has Breath, Holy, and The Heart of Worship are just a few of his songs we consistently sing in my ministry. He has a way of combining deep theology with affectionate melodies, and this song is no exception. The chorus shares a lot of lyrics with the traditional hymn Nothing But the Blood of Jesus. However, the verses answer the question of why all we need is the blood of Christ. The imagery of Christ's righteousness speaking for us, testifying of grace, and enabling our bold approach to the Father's throne is just one example. The melody matches the depth of the words and enables us to sing with reverence and awe regarding Christ's sacrifice.

Changes I've Made-

The thing you need to be careful about with this song is it…

Why History Matters

Maybe you've heard the phrase, "If we don't learn from history, we're doomed to repeat it." I agree that it's important to learn from the mistakes of our past. However, I think there is an even greater reason for learning history, particular the history of the church, that can be an encouragement to Christians: History strengthens our faith.

Here in the 21st century it is easy to feel disconnected from our distant past. It's even hard to feel connected to our recent past. How long until Maroon 5's song Payphone requires an explanation to those that have never lived in a world with payphones? Remember VCRs, walkmans, and Borders bookstores? I may have already lost some of you. My point is it's easy to see the world we live in and think this is the way things have always been and not remember our heritage.

In the Church this happens all the time. People request the old hymns like Great is Thy Faithfulness or Blessed Assurance, both of which were wr…

Wind-Up Wednesday: Steven Spielberg's "Obama"

Did you love Lincoln? Here's the next offering from Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis - "Obama"