Saturday, April 30, 2011

New Worship Song Saturday - Everything By Lifehouse

This week's song is Everything by Lifehouse.  You mave have watched, either online or in live in a service somewhere, a group dramatically acting out this song.  It was during a live performance that I was first introduced to this song several years ago, and it had a great impact on me and on a host of others.  Fortunately, since someone was gracious enough to upload video of a production from a WinterJam several years ago, I am including a video so you can experience it too.  The video isn't high def or anything, but you get a great picture of the song's meaning.  Enjoy!

Find me here, speak to me
I want to feel You, I need to hear You
You are the light that's leading me
To the place where I find peace again

You are the strength that keeps me walking
You are the hope that keeps me trusting
You are the light to my soul
You are my purpose, You're everything

How can I stand here with You and not be moved by You?
Would You tell me, how could it be any better than this?

You calm the storms, and You give me rest
You hold me in Your hands, You won't let me fall
You steal my heart, and You take my breath away
Would You take me in, take me deeper now

How can I stand here with You and not be moved by You?
Would You tell me, how could it be any better than this?
And how can I stand here with You and not be moved by You?
Would You tell me, how could it be any better than this?

'Cause You're all I want, You're all I need
You're everything, everything
You're all I want, You're all I need
You're everything, everything

You're all I want, You're all I need
You're everything, everything
You're all I want, You're all I need
You're everything, everything

And how can I stand here with You and not be moved by You?
Would You tell me, how could it be any better than this?
How can I stand here with You and not be moved by You?
Would You tell me, how could it be any better than this?

How can I stand here with You and not be moved by You?
Would You tell me, how could it be any better than this?
Would You tell me, how could it be any better than this?  

Friday, April 29, 2011

Are You Living for the Weekend?

I guess you can tell where I'm going by looking at the title.  It's a simple question.  The answer, however, might be problematic.

I must first admit that, up until recently, I absolutely lived for Fridays.  As a bivocational pastor, 5pm Friday meant the weekend was here, and that one of my tedious workweeks was but a distant memory.  I was able to focus on my passion (being a pastor) without being bothered working my other full-time job.

Here's the deal - it's absolutely wrong to waste the time between where the workweek starts and where it ends.  Even worse, though, is to do nothing with the opportunities in front of you no matter what day of the week it is.

That's not to say the weekends are evil, because they sure aren't.  There's also nothing wrong with Manic Monday, or Hump Day Wednesday either.  Each day we are given is a gift from God.  Live in the moment - we aren't promised tomorrow.  James 4:14 tells us that our lives are like the morning fog - here for a little while and then gone.

So how can you help the workweek be more enjoyable?

  1. Quit your job!  Ok, so you probably don't really have this option.  But do you enjoy what you are doing?  Do you have a dream to be doing something else?  Now that I am no longer a bivocational pastor, I enjoy each and every day - because I love what I am able to do.  It's what God has called and equipped me to do.  Maybe He is calling you to do something else.  
  2. Start each morning spending some time with God.  Focus on His will for your day, and not your own will.
  3. Be the blessing others are searching for.  Do something nice for someone, completely anonymous.
  4. Search for God smiles - little things in each of our lives where God reminds us, ever so gently, that He still cares and is in control.
  5. Fill it with distractions.  Attend a mid-week Bible study. Host a dinner party.  Sign up for a class you've always wanted to take.  Take up a hobby.  
What suggestions do you have as to how to make the work week better?


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Don't Let Yesterday Bite You Tomorrow

Bobby Bonilla laughing all the way to the bank!

Growing up, I was a big baseball fan.  Living in the South, and having TBS, I watched my fair share of Atlanta Braves' games.  Today I'm not a huge follower, but I still keep track of the Braves.    

I recently read an article describing the financial woes of the New York Mets.  You can read the article by clicking here.  In summary, they are over $600 million in debt.  That's bad news for sure.  Something that struck me as wildly odd, though, is this:  The New York Mets owe Bobby Bonilla 1.2 million dollars each year, for the next 25 years.  It seems that in 2000, the team realized he wasn't part of their future, and they released him.  At that point he was due $5.9 million for that final year.  Instead of paying him in full in 2000 and being finished with him, the team and Bobby's people reached an agreement and decided to defer the payments until 2011, totaling $30 million over the next two and a half decades.  That's an extra $24,100,000!

Living off of credit will always come back to bite you.  I can speak from experience.  My wife and I spent the better part of the first decade of wedded bliss living off of our paychecks, along with a helping hand from Citibank credit cards.  We then spent several years digging out of the hole we were buried in.  Our debt is now gone, and we will not allow it to creep back into our lives.

Debt is our inability to be wise stewards of what God has given to us.  It's also a consuming burden that overtakes us if it's allowed to grow out of control.  Would you rather repay only the original amount borrowed, or add onto the original amount an extra 400% interest?  That $20 dinner becomes $100 over time, using the Mets payback schedule.  Getting into debt is easy.  Getting out of debt - not nearly as much fun.

Luke 12:42-44 - And the Lord replied, “A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them.  If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward.  I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns".  

Monday, April 25, 2011

4 Tips For Improving Your Decision Making Process Now!

"Fear causes hesitation, and hesitation will cause your worst fears to come true." - Bodhi, Point Break

There are times in my life that I wish I'd had the following list in front of me.  There are decisions I've made in the past that I really wish I could take back.  There were actions I should have taken, but I didn't.  Unfortunately, once the trigger has been pulled, there's no way of returning a bullet to the gun.  Life goes on, and you must deal with the consequences.

Here are four actions to take during the decision-making process to help guide you in determining what to do or not to do, and how to go about completing that action.
  • Pause - Slow down!  Most decisions we make don't require an immediate action.  Take some time to analyze all appropriate sides to each opportunity.  Once words are spoken, they can't come back. And once actions are taken, they can't be reversed.
  • Pray - Who knows better what to do than God?  It's not about our will, but about what He wants and expects from us.  The Almighty Counselor wants to help guide us in what's right, but we're still responsible to search out His ways.
  • Ponder - Check around with others you can trust. Seek counsel from those who have been in a similar situation.  There is always someone who can help you or who can offer advice.  
  • Pursue - Once you know what the "right thing" is, DO IT!  It might not be easy.  It might be the most difficult action you've ever had to take.  But if it's the right thing to do, you're gonna have to do it.  You don't want Bohdi's quote from above to become a self-fulfilling prophecy, do you?    

Proverbs 1:5 - Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser.  

Sunday, April 24, 2011

O Praise Him (All This For A King)!

Today was a wonderful time of worshiping and celebrating our risen Savior.  Our worship team at church began the service with this song, and I'm still singing it.  This is my favorite video for the song - I feel like this guy, walking around, singing praises to Him.   Enjoy!

Turn your ear 
To Heaven and hear 
The noise inside 
The sound of angels awe 
The sound of angels' songs 
And all this for a King 
We could join and sing 
'All to Christ our King!' 

How constant 
How divine 
This song of ours will rise
Oh, how constant 
How divine 
This love of ours will rise 
Will rise... 

Ohh praise Him! 
Ohh praise Him! 
He is Holy! 
He is Holy! 

Turn your gaze 
To Heaven and raise 
A joyous noise 
Oh the sound of salvation come 
The sound of rescued ones 
And all this for a king 
Angels join to sing 
'All for Christ our King!' 

Oh la la la la la la.. 
Oh la la la la la la.. 
Oh la la la la la... laaa laa laa laaa! 

How infinite and sweet 
This love so rescuing 
Oh how infinitely sweet 
This great love that has redeemed 
As one, we sing... 

He is Holy, 
He is Holy 

Oh la la la la la la.. 
Oh la la la la la la.. 
Oh la la la la la... laaa laa laa laaa! 

Oh la la la la la la.. 
Oh la la la la la la.. 
Oh la la la la la... laaa laa laa laaa laa

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Watch Restrepo Now!

I was on Twitter this afternoon, and I saw that Restrepo was trending.  Cool - that's an amazing documentary!  Basically, Tim Hetherington co-directed the gritty, real world experiences of US troops fighting over in Afghanistan.  The film is disturbing in that it's real life war - one minute the soldiers he is entrenched with are sleeping or playing cards. The next minute mortars are falling into camp, and they are taking fire from unknown locations. 

This film is not for everyone.  There is violent war action, involving death.  There are words uttered by soldiers that aren't uttered from the pulpit.  You will begin to see and feel the pain that Second Platoon went through during some of the firefights in one of the most contested battlefronts in Afghanistan.  If you get a chance, watch it.  It is currently streaming instantly in Netflix.   Here's the trailer.

Sadly, Director Tim Herrington was killed today.  He was documenting the war in Libya when he tweeted this final message - “In besieged Libyan city of Misrata. Indiscriminate shelling by Qaddafi forces. No sign of NATO.”  

Please go watch Restrepo.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

5 Movies That Need To Be Remade Right Now

Since we live in a generation of limited new and original ideas, and only re-hashed thoughts, I've come up with a list of movies that need to be remade ASAP.
  1. The 10 Commandments - At some point in your life, you've watched Charlton Heston as Moses, right?  Sure the original is ok, but what could director Michael Bay (the guy who has done countless blockbusters, including The Transformers series) do with today's technology?  Imagine what he could accomplish with the plagues utilizing 3D technology?  
  2. Point Break - This one is a guilty pleasure.  In spite of the ridiculous acting, this is one of my all time favorite movies.  Surfing bank robbers and FBI agents in a cat and mouse game?  I still think Keanu Reeves OWNED this movie.  Someday I'm gonna purchase a Johnny Utah Ohio State jersey....
  3. Mary Poppins - Ok I'm a sucker for some of my childhood favs.  Dick Van Dyke absolutely stole this delightful movie, with Julie Andrews holding her own too.  This is a great forerunner to many of the delightful nanny movies we've watched follow through the years.  Who else remembers the enjoyable dance with the penguins?
  4. Holiday Inn/White Christmas - These two movies are an all time holiday favorite in my household.  Somehow I am a sucker for the older musicals.  I mean, Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire ruled Hollywood back in the day.  I'm not a huge Christmas music guy, but I break out my Bing Crosby every Christmas. 
  5. Red Dawn - Actually this remake is scheduled to drop sometime in 2011.  It's been in the works for years now, but financial and political issues have hampered the release.  In watching the original movie recently, I was surprised to realize just how political it is in nature.  Russia was at war with America, and attacked us on our soil.  Their efforts, however, were thwarted by a group of teenagers.  Wolverines!

So there's my list.  What movies would you like to see get re-made?

    Saturday, April 16, 2011

    The City Harmonic - Manifesto

    I have a confession to make - I love music!  If you look at the list of labels from my blog roll, 3 of my 4 most frequent labels are bands, with #4 being a song.  I enjoy discovering and sharing new music, and want to begin passing on a new song to you each Saturday in preparation for worship during the weekend.

    I recently discovered The City Harmonics, with the song Manifesto beginning to get some radio play.  I love this song, and hope you either already do or will very soon.  I find the song to be relevant during this Palm Sunday/Easter season.  The lyrics follow the video - enjoy!

    We believe in the one true God
    We believe in Father Spirit Son
    We believe that good has won

    And all of the people of God sing along


    We are free He died and lives again
    We will be a people free from sin
    Well be free a kingdom with no end

    And all of the people of God sing along


    Our father who art in Heaven, hallowed by thy name
    Thy kingdom come, thy will be done
    On earth as it is in heaven.
    Give us our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses
    As we forgive those who have trespassed against us
    Lord lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil
    For thine Is the kingdom, power and the glory forever

    We’re singing –

    Friday, April 15, 2011

    Are You Prepared for the Journey of a Lifetime?

    I recently shared with some friends the story of Arnel Pineda.  Who is he, you ask?  He was a moderately successful singer in the Philippines for twenty-five years who ended up hitting it big on one of the largest stages possible.

    In 1998, the rock band Journey and their legendary lead singer Steve Perry parted ways.  In the years that followed, and after two replacement singers didn't work out, the band was determined to find the right singer.  During the summer of 2007, lead guitarist Neal Schon happened to be cruising YouTube and saw cover videos of Journey hits being sung by Arnel Pineda.  Intrigued, the band flew Arnel over to America for a live audition.  In front of the band, Arnel gave his most important performance to date. Impressed with his sound, the band made Arnel their new lead singer, and the rest is history.  The band's first album fronted by Arnel went platinum.

    What can we take away from Arnel's success?  The following thoughts come to mind:

    1. Put yourself out there.  Chances are the band Journey would have never discovered Arnel if a friend had not posted video content of his performances to YouTube.  What's special about you, and how can you get the word out to others?
    2. When the opportunity appears, go for it!  Initially Arnel refused to communicate with Neal because he thought it was a prank.  Once the truth was revealed, however, he jumped in with both feet and has not looked back.  What's holding you back from accomplishing your dreams?
    3. You don't necessarily have to be an original.  Arnel sounds stunningly similar to the original lead singer Steve Perry.  In fact, his band mates have stated that sometimes they forget who is actually up on stage singing.  Be who you are - not who everyone else needs or wants you to be.
    4. Don't Stop Believing.  It took Arnel 25 years of playing small clubs and bars before he became lead singer of Journey.  Singing was his gift, his love.  And look at how it all played out for him.
    So what journey are you on, and how far along into it are you? 

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    New Worship Music - Forgiven by Skillet

    Today I preached on forgiveness. The concept of forgiveness, and sharing it with my church body, has been on my heart for several months. We all know what forgiveness is, but some of us struggle with letting go, either in forgiving someone, or being forgiven.

    During my time of studying, I've enjoyed the words shared by Skillet in their song titled Forgiven. I want to encourage you to view the video below, then to read the lyrics that follow.

    Forgive me now 'cause I have been unfaithful

    Don't ask me why 'cause I don't know
    So many times I've tried but was unable
    This heart belongs to You alone

    Now I'm in our secret place
    Alone in Your embrace
    Where all my wrongs have been erased
    You have forgiven

    All the promises and lies
    All the times I compromise
    All the times You were denied
    You have forgiven

    Forgive me I'm ashamed, I've loved another
    I can't explain 'cause I don't know
    No one can take Your place and there is no other
    Forever Yours and Yours alone

    Now I'm in our secret place
    Alone in Your embrace
    Where all my wrongs have been erased
    You have forgiven

    All the promises and lies
    All the times I compromise
    All the times You were denied
    You have forgiven

    I get down on my knees
    Feel Your love wash over me
    There will never be another
    You're the only one forever
    And You know, I'm Yours alone

    I'm in our secret place
    Alone in Your embrace
    Where all my wrongs have been erased
    You have forgiven

    All the promises and lies
    All the times I compromise
    All the times You were denied
    You have forgiven

    You have forgiven
    Forgiven, forgiven
    Forgiven, forgiven
    Forgiven, forgiven

    Friday, April 8, 2011

    Oh How The Mighty Have Fallen!

    We recently had a huge storm push through our part of the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina.  While it was not as severe as the storms that came through almost a full year ago - which brought multiple tornadoes  and extensive damage - it was still a damaging windstorm.  It was also a bit scary - it passed through at 2 o'clock in the morning!

    As a result of this recent storm, I ended up with a large pine tree down in my yard, blocking my rear driveway. It was no big deal since we could just drive around it to get out.  But it still needed to be cut up and dealt with properly.  It took only 15 minutes to saw this 40 foot tree into manageable pieces, and then a couple of hours to burn up all evidence that it ever even existed.  In less time than it takes to watch the original Star Wars trilogy, almost all reminders of this tree's existence disappeared.  

    As I watched the last remnants burn, several thoughts went through my head about leaders and about how they related to this tree.
    • Even though this tree appeared healthy, once the winds laid it down on the ground, you could actually see that termites had caused extensive damage to the trunk a while ago.  The core of the pine, at its base, had been completely hollowed out.   Looks can be deceiving - what's inside you (good or bad) will eventually come out.
    • It was that three feet of termite damage that completely weakened this large and heavy tree, causing it to come tumbling down.  Are you properly centered and secure? 
    • That tree was over 25-years-old.  It took 9,125 days, plus or minus a couple, to get to that height and thickness.  Then, in less than a double-header baseball game, its shadow was erased.  At some point, after our lives here on earth have passed, we, as individuals, will just be a distant memory.  What are we doing today to leave a lasting legacy for others to share in our inheritance?  And by inheritance, I mean, are you going to heaven for eternity? And who is coming with you because of the impact you had on their life? 
    Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
    Only what's done for Christ will last.
    ~C.T. Studd

    Wednesday, April 6, 2011

    What Is a God Smile, and How Can I See More?

    Photo from deswalsh via Flickr
    Several years ago, my friend Stacy introduced me to the term "God smile."  Quite simply, a God smile is a picture, an event, maybe even a moment in time that you know God put in your life to make you aware of His love for you.   

    Sometimes a God smile is something as small as seeing the first robin of spring.  Maybe it's a spectacular sunrise or sunset.  Maybe it's a day at work or in class that goes better than usual.  And these blessings are as individual in definition as the people God gives them to.  That's what makes them personal, just between us and God.

    And God loves us so much (John 3:16 tells us that) that, even though we don't always see His smiles, He is constantly raining them down upon us. But why don't we always see them?

    Personally, I often miss them because I'm simply not looking for them.  When I take my eyes off of Him, and put them on me, or on my circumstances, or on my life,  I often miss the blessings He places right in front of me.  How about you?

    After reading this post, I would encourage you to reflect on today, on yesterday, on tomorrow, and be looking for God smiles.  They are everywhere - you just have to train your eyes to look for them.

    Where has God smiled at you today?  I would love to hear about some of your God smiles.

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    What Is Love?

    I found this amazing song this morning, and can't get it out of my head.  I hope you enjoy!

    Friday, April 1, 2011

    What Can We Learn About Passion From Wrestlemania & The WWE?

    This weekend is Wrestlemania XXVII. Growing up, I use to sneak in some quality time on Saturdays in front of the television watching World Wrestling.  I say "sneak" because that was definitely a no-no in my parents' house, but of course, they weren't always around.

    While I don't watch wrestling anymore, back then, to a young and impressionable kid, these entertainers were athletes like no other.  I remember being in awe of some of their moves, and the punishment they would take as they battled each other.  Eventually I learned (SPOILER ALERT) that most of the matches, while dangerous, are prearranged.  But watching Ricky The Dragon Steamboat flying off the top rope, or -my personal favorite- The Undertaker tombstoning his latest victim was so exciting to me.

    The other day I watched a documentary about Wrestlemania, detailing the history of some of the main events from back in the day.  Wrestlemania is to WWE as the Super Bowl is to the NFL.  One of the most striking characters in this movie was Vince McMahon, the man who, after purchasing the company from his retiring father, organized and united multiple local wrestling companies across the nation under one centralized umbrella, thereby exploding the wrestling phenomenom.

    So great story. But what can we as Christians learn about passion from The WWE, and specifically from Vince McMahon?

    • Vince is an unrelenting promoter of all things WWE.  His passion brims over throughout the story, at times bringing tears to his eyes as he speaks about the early days.  Initially he was responsible for bringing celebrities to wrestling's super bowl, just to drum up extra interest and excitement.  He was relentless in spreading news of his wrestling show.  How relentless are we in sharing Jesus with others?  
    • He was always totally vested in his company, even with his own money.  At the time of Wrestlemania I, there was no pay-per-view venues like there are nowadays.  They decided to broadcast the event live across the nation in various theaters, a relatively risky financial venture at the time. It was a make or break moment for the young company. But Vince understood people needed to see this spectacular adventure live.  He knew (or at least hoped) that once people experienced Wrestlemania, they would be hooked. And they were.  What's your investment level in spreading the Gospel - in your personal life, in your church, among others?
    • It is always a team effort.  More than just a team effort, it's a family effort.  Vince involves his wife Linda, his son Shane, and his daughter Stephanie in various story lines.  He also includes some of his employees too.  And all of these people seem to genuinely enjoy being a part of the wrestling experience.  In this documentary, current WW Superstars were shown enjoying professional wrestling as youngsters, and each of these guys became emotional when they shared about how being a Superstar was a lifelong dream for them. Who else is involved with your efforts in evangelizing and discipling, and do each of you show excitement?
    • Wrestling events are absolutely exciting to watch!  They are exciting because the WWE focuses on the end user's experience.  Early on, the list of celebrities showing up at main events was staggering.  They were recruited, and paid, to show up and even participate.  Nowadays when a Wrestlemania shows up in a city (who seek out and even bid to become a host city for the WWE), it's a week-long adventure that puts the fans face-to-face with the wrestlers.  Are we passionate and excited about our Savior and His love story, not just for ourselves, but for a world dying to meet Him?   

    Is church to be a spectacle, and entertaining?  No.  But can we learn from something as spectacular like Wrestlemania that is?  Absolutely.  Our passion and love for what we believe should be a shining light for all to see (or maybe a body slam...).