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Friday, August 15, 2008

More about the rain

This morning the rain was pouring down, and in the early morning quiet I sipped my coffee slowly as I opened my Bible for my quiet time. Zechariah 10:1 , "Ask the Lord for the rain...." Can you believe that? Not only was it raining (if you don't understand my wow, see "worship in the dark") but then I opened up my Bible and the very first verse that I read was about rain. I think God may be trying to tell me something?

I spent the morning praying for God to pour out his presence and his grace and his mercy and his love on Anna like a torrential rain. To flood us with his Spirit. To fill us up completely with His love. I am excited to see how God will move in the services at the Crossroads this weekend. I can't wait to meet God in worship!

Just another note - God has daily reaffirmed my calling to teach in Anna. Every day this week I have had incredible "God encounters" with people that have no explanation other than God has already been at work.

Continue praying for the church plant. Pray for us all to guard our hearts against temptation and to walk in light, carefully following God's footprints.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I'm a crown jewel

Zechariah 9:16, 17 "When that day arrives, the Lord their God will rescue his people, just as a shepherd rescues his sheep. They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown. How wonderful and beautiful they will be!"

One of my favorite things about small children is the sparkle in their eyes. Children radiate their joy and happiness through their expressions, and when they are happy, their eyes simply dance. As we age, our smiles often don't quite make it to our eyes. I know very few adults that have "sparkly" eyes anymore. Life has removed the sparkle, one small bit at a time. Is it not an incredible promise that someday we will sparkle again! Somehow God is going to remove all the weight from our shoulders and give us back our sparkle.

Then there's that whole thing about being God's crown jewel. One of my favorite parts of the Princess Diaries, part 2, is when Princess Mia opens up her closet drawers and there are jewels everywhere and it really sinks in with her that she is royalty. Someday God's treasure house will be filled with "jewels" - his people - worshipping him with no distractions or interruptions, with no sin to ever again separate us from his voice. I just can't find the words to describe what it means to me that I am that valuable to the God of the universe - that he would call me his crown jewels.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Just a Swingin'

Tomorrow's a busy day. I'm taking my artist, Katie, to the art museum in Fort Worth to see the impressionist exhibit. She is so excited and just can't wait. Because I plan to sleep as late as possible in the morning, I am blogging tonight.

I don't have anything wow or new or earth-shattering to share - just a couple of thoughts about relationships. Today I had the privilege to hang out with some of my best friends. I had lunch with some girls from Pottsboro, I spent the afternoon with some girls in Anna, and the evening with friends from the new church plant. I love the creative energy and the laughter and the support and the care among the people that are on our church planting team. I sat in the porch swing tonight working a song with friend who is new to songwriting. (yeah, I know what you are thinking ...."just a swingin'") I was really proud of the songwriter for finally working up the courage to share his song with other people. The rest of the team was lounging on the porch, just visiting and hanging out.

My girl - friend sitting with me in the swing said, "Why has it taken us so long to do this?" She was talking about just taking time to hang out with the people that we love. I don't know why it has taken us so long to make time to just enjoy relationships. It seems like such a simple thing - spending time with the people you love. God is all about relationships, but life gets out of control and time flies by quickly. Hopefully this fall I can remember that relationships are more valuable than all the "stuff" that I have to get done.

To all my friends - help me remember to focus on the important stuff - you guys!

God lessons from Abby

Sometimes I think the main reason God gives us children is so that we can more fully understand Him. I love when God uses my 2 year old to teach me a life lesson. Then I am convicted about acting like a 2 year old.

Yesterday Abby skipped her nap. I already hear groans from the parents reading this. We were busy and not at home and I did not lay her down. So last night, some friends were hanging out at the house with their small children. As the night wore on, the kids got louder, and louder, and rowdier, and rowdier. They were having a great time, and we all laughed about the standard response of tired children. The more tired they become, the more frantic and busy they act in order to fight sleep.

As I laughed and watched them running, jumping, screaming, and chasing each other to ward off sleepiness, God used them to illustrate Matthew 11:28. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." My life moves at a frantic pace - very much like those small children running around my house last night. When I am stressed (weary and burdened), I move at a more frantic, harried pace. God says, "Stop. I will give you rest." Instead of stopping and trusting, I keep flying through life wondering why I am exhausted. I try to do more, faster.

Last night, when Abby finally stopped, she crashed. She was asleep in under 2 minutes in her Daddy's arms. I want to remember that when I am running through life and become weary, that my heavenly Daddy is ready to hold me in His arms and give me rest. I just have to stop.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Seriously? We are not going to rock in heaven?

Having enjoyed Paste so much, I had the bright idea to hunt for a similar magazine that discussed current movements in Christian music. My first issue of Worship Leader arrived last week. Like Paste, it comes with a CD of new music and has articles about music and new artists. Unlike Paste, mostly I just gag and roll my eyes when listening to the CD and reading the articles. I understand that this Christian magazine is having to span a wide spectrum of audiences and must have a difficult time meeting the needs of worship leaders in traditional, blended, and contemporary settings. However, my instincts are still difficult to control.

Here's an example of a letter to the editor that triggered my gag reflex.
"I cannot tell you how turned off I am by all the distorted guitar I keep hearing. I will never believe that heaven, that glorious place of honor and majesty, will be like a Jesus Rock Fest. Can you not present your worship songs in other formats?" My first reflex was to throw the magazine across the room and yell "AAAHHHH!" My second thought was, ..... I certainly hope we get to rock out in heaven ..... I will be really disappointed if worship in Heaven is boring and dull.

So then I checked out the CD. Honestly, after reading that letter I was excited that maybe it would be some pretty rockin' stuff. Yeah, um, not so much. There were 2 or 3 songs that might work in our very contemporary setting, but most of the stuff sounded way too traditional. So then I am curious about why that particular reader was so offended? Is the church really that out of touch with mainstream music?

There were a couple of good articles in the magazine, (they may show up in a blog or two later this week), but most of them were also geared for a much more traditional audience. I did my best to read them all and not roll my eyes, because I am trying to appreciate this company's effort to minister to worship leaders in traditional settings. However, now I am back at the beginning. I am still interested in being on top of the latest, most current trends in the Christian music scene. I just am not sure how to make that happen. Anybody know of a better resource?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Rock the Desert Part 2

I made it home this morning around 7. I do not expect to have time to sleep until later this afternoon because of a busy Sunday. However, tired and exhausted and filthy - I loved Rock the Desert.

Just some scattered, sleepy thoughts on the bands in case you are wondering.

The Wedding was okay - lots of screaming - screaming is not my favorite. But I loved their introduction line. Loud scream into the mic, "We are the Wedding ...... and you know who you are.......let's rock!

Day of Fire - I am totally a new fan. This was probably the most musically talented group there. The bass player, lead guitarist, and drummer were incredible. They played a variety of styles, even an acoustic number about Jesus walking the dark ways to find those of us who are struggling to walk in the light. I was very impressed. Again - lots of screaming - but understandable lyrics.

Disciple - I bought the T-shirt because it was my favorite design. This band was good, they did a really high-energy, head-banging, heavy metal show. I did not like them as well as Day of Fire.

Hawk Nelson - Just didn't do it for me. I know he's some of my friends' favorite, but for me he was a little young - a great listen for teens. Talented, but more the flavor Grace would be interested in.

Red - I missed this one for the most part because I was busy talking on the phone. It sounded pretty good from where I was. Not crazy about the lead singer's green/blue eyeliner. I think if you are going to use eyeliner as a guy, it has to be black.

Switchfoot - I really enjoyed. I like this band and am familiar with most of their stuff. I loved it when the lead singer took a cymbal from the drummer and ran around on stage playing it. The guy behind me and I discussed the option of using this solo technique in worship. He is apparently in a very traditional church, since he said he could do it once before he got fired. Lots of great stories behind their songs.

Oh - and there was one more technique that we should use in worship (sarcasm) - The lead singers of all these bands at some point laid down on their backs on stage while screaming into the microphone. Very interesting technique.

Overall, this weekend I saw a lot of incredible talent. It was a little more head-banging than I would normally listen to, but I loved how much fun the bands were having performing. Everybody that I saw on stage seemed thrilled to have the privilege to be playing together. I also loved the excitement among the teens as they were able to listen to a genre of music that they enjoy, but with positive, uplifting lyrics.

Thanks to my friend who took good care of this concert festival "virgin". I brought a suitcase with a change of clothes. She brought lawn chairs, snacks, a cooler, water, umbrellas, a canopy to shade us from the sun, picnic supplies, sunscreen, paper towels, wippees, etc. When trying something new, it is always great to go with a friend with experience. Her preparations definitely made the weekend go smoothly.

*We set up the canopy/tent thing in less than 10 minutes! We even got compliments from the people sitting around staring at the two chicks wrestling the thing up all by ourselves. With my track record with tents, this was nothing short of a miracle!