Saturday, August 13, 2011

New Worship Song Saturday - Lift Me Up by The Afters

This week I've found a doozy of a video.  I'm a sucker for a song and video that tells a story.  Enjoy!      

You lift me up with your love
You lift me up with your love
You lift me up with your love
You lift me up

Waiting for the sunrise
Waiting for the day
Waiting for a sign
That I’m where you want me to be

You know my heart is heavy
And the hurt is deep
But when I feel like giving up
You’re reminding me
That we all fall down sometimes
But when I hit the ground

You lift me up when I am weak
Your arms wrap around me
Your love catches me so I’m letting go
You lift me up when I can’t see
Your heart is all that I need
Your love carries me so I’m letting go

You lift me up with your love
You lift me up with your love
You lift me up with your love
You lift me up

I know I’m not perfect
I know I make mistakes
I know that I have let you down
But you love me the same

And when I’m surrounded
When I lose my way
When I’m crying out and falling down
You are here to

Lift me up when I am weak
Your arms wrap around me
Your love catches me so I’m letting go
You lift me up when I can’t see
Your heart is all that I need
Your love carries me so I’m letting go

I can see the dawn is breaking
I am feeling overtaken with your love
With your love
I don’t know what I can offer
In this moment I surrender to your love
To your love

You lift me up when I am weak
Your arms wrap around me
Your love catches me so I’m letting go

You lift me up when I am weak
Your arms wrap around me
Your love catches me so I’m letting go
You lift me up when I can’t see
Your heart is all that I need
Your love carries me so I’m letting go

I can see the dawn is breaking
I am feeling overtaken with your love

You lift me up with your love
You lift me up with your love
You lift me up with your love
You lift me up

Friday, August 12, 2011

What's Your Personal Value To God?

Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons

If your home was on fire, and you had only a fleeting moment to run in and grab one thing, what would that sole item be?

I asked this question in our college small groups a while ago and received some amazing responses from the students. I, unfortunately, don't have any heirlooms or amazing treasure I can't live without. Sadly there's no Chinese carved rhinoceros horned cups from the late 17th century valued at $1-1.5 million (as recently appraised on the Antique Roadshow) tucked away in my private collection.  My answer, already knowing that my wife and two pups are outside, is to rush in and grab my laptop. Sorry it's not as sexy of an answer as yours will be.

The point is we all have treasures that we cherish above the rest.  We have our favorite books, musicians, sports teams, restaurants, etc.

We also have our favorite family members, co-workers, classmates, or even friends.  Someone who means more to us than anyone else.  Chances are, as you read that last line, you thought of the person who is your favorite - your "treasure," if you will.  They have earned that status over time, and proven themselves worthy of that title, right? defines favorite "as a person or thing regarded with special favor or preference."  There is something personal - more intimate - about someone or something that earns them the title of "favorite."

Guess what - God doesn't differentiate between your value to Him or mine!  As individuals, we mean as much to Him as the next person on His list.  Colossians 3:25 wraps up the chapter with this simple statement - "For God has no favorites."

That means that you singing praise songs off-key in your shower means just as much to Him as Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, or Lecrae does.  As a business person you mean as much to Him as Bill Gates or Blake Mycoskie.  As a christian leader you are valued equally to Pastor Steven Furtick or Beth Moore.

The value lies in what you do with the gifts you possess.  Are you singing with all that you have?  Are you the best possible business leader out there?  Are you focused on serving Him?  It matters not whether you have 10, 5 or 1 talent - what are you doing with what you've been entrusted to manage?

How amazing that He loves us for just who He created us to be.  There's not a thing we can do to make Him love us any more than He already does. O Praise Him!

Ok - so what's your one thing to grab out of your burning house?       

Thursday, August 11, 2011

13 Early Morning Random Thoughts

Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons
1)      Never go for a jog in the neighborhood on trash day during the summer heat.  Nasty!  Also, stop fueling up with Cookie Crisp and milk on such days.   
2)      I sure enjoy summertime, heat and all.  Nothing beats being outdoors and getting your sweat on in the warmth of the sun.  Nothing, that is, unless it’s DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince rapping about it – you’re welcome.
3)      New rule in the Crews household – less TV, more reading.  My goal is at least 2 books per week right now, up from 1 per week. 
4)      I just finished the WAR of ART: Break through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield.  Absolutely amazing work by a great author.  His goal is simple – to help the reader overcome resistance to the creative process.  If you are an artist, a scribe, one who thinks creatively – I highly recommend it.  
5)      Speaking of reading, my devotions are taking me into the depths of the gospels right now.  I’m reading a parallel passage of the four gospel stories combined chronologically, and it’s dramatically enlightening.
6)      I’ve come to realize that when I blog, as well as when I preach, I don’t come across as funny as I think I am.  Hmm.  Sarcasm is sometimes hard to translate into text, and that's a shame.  I'm quite fluent.
7)      Why must YouTube sneak in 2 minute long commercials when I am listening to my playlist?  I should just stick to Pandora.
8)      How is it that my wife Becky and I graduated from college over 15 years ago?  We still swear that we're in our twenties (insert your own sarcasm here).
9)      I constantly see God smiling at me – partly because I’m looking for Him, mostly because He's so Gracious.  What about you?
10)   I know God has amazingly incredible plans for my church this fall.   
11)   I’m getting pumped up for football season to get started.  Nowadays I think the NFL is more enjoyable than college, but it’s pretty close.  What’s your preference?  Go Seminoles and Buccaneers!   
12)   That last line could get me tarred and feathered here in central North Carolina.  I like living on the edge.
13) Adele has one of the most beautiful voices out there right now.  Listen to her here.

Ok – enough rambling from me for today.  What's something zany that you have to share?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Saddest Funnyman of Our Generation Is....

Do you enjoy engaging in out-of-control and over-the-top laughter?  Do you know who Matt Foley is, and does the phrase "I live in a van down by the river" make you cry from laughing so hard?  If so, maybe you've heard of the comedic genius Chris Farley.  And if you know who Chris Farley is, chances are he has made you smile.

Chris was a larger than life, stage-filling presence who immediately owned the audience watching him. Robert Smigel, writer and co-producer of Saturday Night Live, in referencing Chris, stated that he had "Never seen anybody leap out at you from the stage the way Chris did."

I love to laugh (read here), and I recently finished reading the authorized biography of Chris called The Chris Farley Show: A Biography In Three Acts.  The book was an honest read, compiled by over 100 friends, cast mates, and family members.  The insights offered by those closest to him cast light on a completely different character than what tv and movies revealed him to be, a side rarely witnessed outside of his circle.

He was deeply devoted to his Catholic upbringing, finding a place to worship on a weekly basis.  His close-knit family absolutely meant the world to him. He was generous with the good fortunes he earned and was passionate in sharing his money with those who were less fortunate than himself. His desire was to be everyone's new best friend.

Unfortunately the pages also chronicle his struggles with his self image and worth, issues with obesity, and addiction to alcohol and drugs.  His over indulgence with alcohol goes back to high school, while drugs overtook him during the college years.  It's estimated he spent over one million dollars on rehab on at least 17 different visits, yet drugs and alcohol ended up providing his untimely exit from life here on earth.  Farley's life, especially his later years, was an absolute train wreck.

His friends thought Chris' behavior was cute and enjoyable lifestyle for a while, but most of them outgrew it shortly after college.  Unfortunately Chris didn't mature in the same method, manner, and time frame. Towards the end, everyone around him was pleading - even desperately begging - for him to straighten up and get clean. Each week the guest host would invariably spend a lunch with Chris, attempting to bring him back to reality.  Unfortunately everyone failed.

On December 18, 1997, at the young age of 33, Chris died from a mixture of cocaine and morphine overdose. He has two movies in the works that never came to fruition, including one about his Matt Foley character.  He was to be the voice of Shrek, a role after his passing that was turned over to fellow SNL alum Mike Myers.  

Four days later at his funeral, the memory of one of the funniest comedians ever, made the likes of Adam Sandler, Tim Meadows and Chris Rock weep uncontrollably for their lost friend.

Alec Baldwin said it best - "It's sad when something like that happens to anyone, but somehow it seemed sadder when it happened to Chris.  Most of the people whom I've seen go down that path, they didn't have the humanity he had."

What Can Canadian Geese Can Teach Us About The Devil?

Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons

How many of you out there have someone watching your back?  Do you have someone close to you that has your best interest in mind and willing to protect you at all cost?

I am earnestly attempting to lose some weight.  Are you in the same boat?  I’ve been walking/jogging in a couple of neighborhoods near my house via a back and forth route.  I’ve written about this journey before over here.  This, along with eating better foods, and less of them, has helped me drop over 20 pounds.

There’s a part of my exercise regime that absolutely freaks me out.  A bit over the halfway point, I pass a community pond that’s adjacent to the road.  It’s a lovely place, with people fishing from time to time.  And maybe a fountain.  I’m not sure if there is actually a fountain because it’s here where I come face to face with fear.

At any given time, there are upwards of 70+ Canadian geese milling around the grassy areas around this pond.  From a distance, they aren’t a big deal, or even a threat.  Up close, though, I get the sense that they could snap at any moment and attack me.  Seriously!  The worst is when they are in the middle of crossing the road, and I have to run through this gaggle of geese.  So far so good – I’ve yet to be attacked.

One of these days though I know they aren’t going to let me pass, maybe in retaliation for some injustices we as humans have perpetrated against these foul creatures.

Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons

I’ve noticed that as I approach the flock, there are always a few of them keeping their beady little eyes on me.  They are sounding a mild alarm about my approach, intensifying the closer I get to them.  Even in smaller numbers, there are still a few that are ever vigilant, protecting the rest of their families and friends.

1 Peter 5:8-9 says the following - Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.  Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.

There are times when we create the trouble in our lives.  We make foolish decisions, hang out with the wrong people, or just act without thinking.

There are other times where trouble seeks us out.  In instances like this, Paul shares with us in Ephesians 6 that we must put on the whole armor of God to withstand the devil’s attacks.  We must be proactive in preparing for the attacks coming from Satan. 

He doesn’t only come after you, or me.  He comes after all of us.  It’s imperative for each of us to be watchful and prepared to defend ourselves, and others, from the attacks from the evil one.

Interesting bit of trivia – a gaggle is a group of geese on the ground.  What are they referred to in the air?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Why I No Longer Hate Adina Howard

Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons

Have you ever hated someone – I mean absolutely despised them – just because they were more successful at life than you?  Is there someone who gets more credit for their work than you?  How about someone in school who earns better grades with the same amount of effort spent?  Is it a family member or a friend that you just can’t stand?

For me, my kryptonite was Adina Howard.  She was an absolute she-devil! 

She constantly finished her classwork before anyone else.  It’s her fault that my penmanship is so illegible these days – I was racing to try and beat her.  Sadly it never happened.

Time and time again, she would beat everyone else in the multiplication game in math class.

Adina was also the fastest runner in our class, boy or girl.  She was an absolute gazelle when it came to foot races.

Of course we were only 7 years old at the time of this injustice.  I probably didn’t hate her, but I know that several of us boys were rough on her because we were so jealous of her ability to absolutely dominate us.

The problem was that she wasn’t intentionally mean – she was actually quite sweet.  To the best of my knowledge, she wasn’t bent on destroying me.  It just happened that way because I made it destructive.

At some point in elementary school, she switched schools and I lost track of her.  Along the way I forgave her for being so awesome.  Even though I’ve not seen her in over two decades, I’m confident that by now she’s well on her way to ruling her part of the world.

Do you have an Adina in your life?  Is there someone in your life who’s better at what you do than you are?  Are you competing with them, or learning from them?

At some point, I learned to run faster, to do multiplication quicker in my head, to print rapidly yet legibly – and part of the thanks belongs to Adina.  She unconsciously pushed me to be a better person, and for that I am thankful.  For that I don't hate her, but love and appreciate her influence in my life.

Proverbs 27:17 says “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”  Here’s the deal.  Iron on iron creates friction.  Heat.  Energy.  Many times friction is good, but there are times where it’s unpleasant.  It’s not easy to digest.  It’s absolutely painful.  Self-improvement requires patience, discipline, and a stomach for persevering when times get tough.

Also, iron vs. iron of equal chemical composition doesn’t necessarily create a sharper blade.  One must be stronger, tougher, and more durable than the other one to have any impact on it.  So it is in our relationships.  It takes a better person than ourselves to help shape us into a wiser person.  
So who in your life is sharpening you today?

Friday, August 5, 2011

New Worship Song - Pieces by RED

It's time once again for us to share in a passion of mine - music!  I've shared before off and on, and this is going to be a staple for each weekend - a new song of worship, or praise, or straight up rock (thanks to Donald Miller for this great idea).  I enjoy listening and discovering new musicians and artists, and I know you do too.  I recently stumbled upon RED, and earnestly began consuming everything they've released.  They straight up can rock the house! Equally impressive, however, is that they can calm down and sing beautifully too.

The song for this week is Pieces off of their debut and Grammy nominated album End of Silence.  The video is a live performance, which earns them extra bonus points.  The lyrics follow the video clip.  


I'm here again
A thousand miles away from you
A broken mess, 
just scattered pieces of who I am
I tried so hard
Thought I could do this on my own
I've lost so much along the way

Then I see your faceI know I'm finally yours
I find everything I thought I lost before
You call my name
I come to you in pieces
So you can make me whole

I've come undone
But you make sense of who I am
Like puzzle pieces in your hand,

Then I see your face
I know I'm finally yours
I find everything I thought I lost before
You call my name
I come to you in pieces
So you can make me whole!

I tried so hard! So hard!
I tried so hard!

Then I see your face
I know I'm finally yours
I find everything I thought I lost before
You call my name
I come to you in pieces
So you can make me whole
So you can make me whole

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What You Do Today Effects Others Tomorrow

Photo Courtesy of Elaine with Grey Cats

Are you one of those drivers who makes others on the road cringe?  Do you drive too fast, conveniently forget to signal, or pull out in front of others?  Are you a distracted driver, or even worse, one who texts and drives at the same time?  I recently witnessed a near traffic accident because of one of these careless drivers. 

My jogging route near my home takes me through 2 different neighborhoods.  My halfway point is a u-turn at the rear entrance of one of these neighborhoods.  This entrance is a divided 500 feet median covered with flowering shrubs, plants and trees.

One day, a distracted guy, in a frantic rush, decided to speed up and rush ahead of oncoming traffic and pulled in to the wrong side of this divided entrance.  In his haste, he almost drove into a minivan full of young soccer hooligans on their way to soccer practice.  There was plenty of screaming and honking, as well as some not so friendly waving, that followed this guy's poor decision to rush.

As I was standing 10 feet from the van, I got a bird's eye view of the reaction of the van's passengers. What really struck me was the look on one young girl, who was probably only 6 or 7 years old.  She was terrified at having been so close to an accident.  

This guy's decision, and the actions that followed, didn't just involve dire consequences for himself only.  There were 8-10 others who faced almost certain injury because of his mistake.

Our actions have consequences, not only for ourselves, but also for those around us. Just because you want to make poor decisions with your life, be aware that the consequences effect others around you, both directly and indirectly.

While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions. ~ Stephen R. Covey          

Monday, August 1, 2011

31 Days To A Wiser You: A Study In Proverbs - The Wrap

Photo Courtesy of mosesxan

Well, we've done it.  Together we have read, blogged through, commented on, conversed about, and thoroughly examined the book of Proverbs.  We've read all 31 chapters, totaling 915 verses, during the month of July.   For me it's been a wonderful time of diving into the greatest book of wisdom, and I am so thankful for each of you who participated along the way.  I've applied and rediscovered many practical applications for every day life, and hope you have too.  Yesterday I had the privilege of preaching, and spoke about the fear of the LORD and how in our lives it enables us to gain knowledge and wisdom.  You can listen to the message from July 31 titled 31 Days of Proverbs - The Ultimate Pursuit of Wisdom by clicking here.

Here's a list of each day and a direct link to the blog from that day.  If you missed a day, feel free to click and check it out.

Introduction - An introduction into Proverbs
Proverbs 1 - The numerous benefits of wisdom
Proverbs 2 - 31 chapters with no contradictions
Proverbs 3 - 6 amazing benefits of utilizing God's wisdom
Proverbs 4 - The value of setting goals
Proverbs 5 - 5 ramifications of sexual sin
Proverbs 6 - Living a life worthy of being a Christian
Proverbs 7 - Solomon warns against porn
Proverbs 8 - The value of the Scriptures
Proverbs 9 - Thou shalt not vs. Thou shalt
Proverbs 10- 7 Benefits of righteous living 
Proverbs 11- 9 Principles of dealing with money
Proverbs 12- A call to simplicity
Proverbs 13- What do you do 6,000-8,000 times a day?
Proverbs 14- Sticks and stones hurt, and so can words!
Proverbs 15- 4 keys for not saying something stupid in the heat of the moment
Proverbs 16- Solomon is playing the game Repeater
Proverbs 17- Is your happiness contagious?
Proverbs 18- 6 keys of friendship
Proverbs 19- Our actions have consequences
Proverbs 20- What's the last thing you promised God?
Proverbs 21- God's plan for you to get rich quick!
Proverbs 22- I'm talking to YOU!
Proverbs 23- We do not remember days, we remember moments. - Cesare Pavese
Proverbs 24- Did Solomon watch the movie Braveheart?
Proverbs 25- What are you creating that's worthy of being shared?
Proverbs 26- Don't answer fools, and be sure to answer the fools.
Proverbs 27- The value of your brutally honest friend
Proverbs 28- Oh the guilty conscience!
Proverbs 29- The value (gulp!) of discipline
Proverbs 30- Which is easier - always telling the truth or being content?
Proverbs 31- Who doesn't enjoy the underdog?  Help them out now.