Monday, November 10, 2008

See you in 40 days

I've decided to take an Internet fast. I am finding that I spend endless unproductive hours reading Facebook status updates and blog postings that really don't do much for me. There are things I'd rather be doing like spending time with my wife and kids, reading my Bible more, praying, starting my own business, reading books for leisure, and write music. So I'm not going to be checking Bloglines any more. I'm going to stay off of Facebook. And I'm not going to chase sports scores online.

I have to use it for my volunteer worship position...that's my only exception. Tabbing out music, finding online devotions, posting the setlists, etc.

So...I'll see you in 40 days or later.


Friday, November 07, 2008

And the MRI says...

About a year and half ago, we got drilled by a snow storm. Since my snow blower was functioning more like garage decor (it wouldn't start), I shoveled the driveway and sidewalks by hand that winter. On this particular day, I did something rather foolish. I was pushing the snow by running with this shovel. The momentum allowed me to force the snow the edges of the driveway faster. Except on this day, I hit a crack, jammed the shovel and jarred my shoulder. Excruciating pain. And to make matters worse, I did it twice.

I went to the doctor's office and we took x-rays which came back fine. He prescribed some pain killer meds for me and gave me some stretching exercises. I was told to schedule another appointment if it didn't get better.
My shoulder healed but remained sore. It was sore to bend it certain ways and to lay on my right side. It was sore when I lifted heavy things or wrestled with my children. But it didn't necessarily hurt. Until 2 weeks ago.

Somehow I managed to jar my shoulder again. I really don't recall how or when I did it but I know it happened two weeks ago. It hurt so bad that I would turn the volume on the radio or use my wipers with my left arm. If I raised it more than 45 degrees, it hurt. Bad.

So off to the doctor I went and we finally took a closer look by a MRI. Yesterday they called and said that my rotator cuff is torn.

This is interesting news to me. I am at a point of burn out with the worship ministry. Apathy has set in and I am not feeling healthy right now. If my orthopedic doctor recommends surgery, my guitar playing days will be postponed for quite some time. I am slowly working in two new worship leaders so the timing is what intrigues me. Should surgery happen, then it may be time for Mark and Brad to lead for a while. It would perhaps give me the break I need to regroup, refuel and re-energize as a worship leader.

I need healing for my shoulder and my soul.

Post Election Email

A friend of mine sent this email to me today. I thought it was worth publishing...

Dear Friends,

For months now my email Inbox has been besieged by nearly hysterical warnings about what will happen if this man/woman or that man/woman becomes President. I have been encouraged to be worried, afraid, concerned, prepared for disaster, and a whole host of other maladies if this happens. I do not deny the importance of this election, but it seems to me that we need a dose of perspective. So I would like to start my own email concerning this election. It's a "True/False" test.

I'd like for all of us to take it.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, Jesus will still be King.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, our responsibilities as Christians will not have changed one iota.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, the greatest agent for social change in America will still be winning the hearts and minds of men and women through the gospel, not legislation.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, my primary citizenship will still be in this order - (1) the Kingdom of God , (2) America , not vice-versa.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, the tomb will still be empty.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, the cross, not the government, will still be our salvation.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, our children will still be more concerned with whether or not we spend time with them than with who is President.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, my neighbor will still be my neighbor, and loving him/her will still be the second greatest commandment.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, my retirement will still not match my treasure in Heaven.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, "Jesus Is Lord" will still be the greatest truth in the Universe.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, we will still know that God is in control.

How did you score?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Stomach Bug

Admittedly, that was a first for me today. I was up during the night with an awful stomach bug and wasn't sure if I could lead worship today.  I called my back-up and took him by surprise so we agreed to play it by ear.

Hopped up on Imodium AD, I took the worship stage very weak today praying that God would see me through this day.  A few times, just moving around during worship, seemed to suck the breath right out of my lungs. Other times, I would have been perfectly content to play laying down.  And thankfully that gurgling sound in my stomach never surfaced.

Reminds me of this verse from 2 Corinthians 12:8-9.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:8-9a).

I hope that God's power was perfect today...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Okay...this is somewhat of a shameless plug but if you read my blog, then you should read Joel Klampert's blog too.

I use a tool called which helps me keep track of mostly the posts of many bloggers and other sites. The tool searches for new content and organizes it online in one central place letting me know when an update takes place.

One site that I follow in particular used to be called CECWorship but recently changed to So I just updated Bloglines so I can now follow Joel's posts on a daily basis.

So why should you read his blog? Here are my top 10 reason:

  1. Joel has an awesome heart for worship and God (not necessarily in that order)
  2. We gravitate toward the same style of music which is pretty eclectic in nature.
  3. We have almost the same family situation - young kids and married for 11 years.
  4. He is authentic and honest. He doesn't mask his feelings but wears his emotions on his sleeve.
  5. He's a Mark Batterson fan and was train-wrecked by "In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day."
  6. He's into GOOD design and is a web/graphic designer.
  7. He has a heart for the multi-site church.
  8. He's turned me onto music I hadn't heard of before especially "Worth Dying For"
  9. He's well-read and likes the same kind of authors and books as I do.
  10. He's bald like me.

Don't just take my word for it, see for yourself.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Alpha Worship Muzzle

We kicked off our fall Alpha class a few weeks ago and our NorthBranch band is leading the music portion. We're incredibly blessed to be in our new space which we call The Station - an older warehouse that was completely remodeled and renovated by members of our church. They even built a decent size stage complete with a new drum kit, floor monitors and enough media equipment to put together a decent size band and sound.

As we lead music for Alpha, we were instructed to keep things low-key so that we don't scare off people who are new to the church and to Christianity. I struggle a bit with this approach because I have met other Christians on fire for God...and that fire was contagious. I wanted some of that in my life. So I think we're a bit unauthentic when we just go through the motions of worship. Further, I think we're dishonoring God. Worship music helps usher in the Holy Spirit and the presence of God...the Holy Spirit and the presence of God changes hearts and lives. So why would we want to worship God with a worship muzzle?

The other night, my family was up at The Station for dinner and participating in worship (music) in the back. As we tore into our worship set, I looked down the aisle past all of the seated members of the class and spotted my 3 year-old dancing wildly with his hands raised upward to Jesus. It was one of the most beautiful things I had seen in a while and I felt a huge grin break across my face. I wish the church could have seen it as he was demonstrating what authentic worship was all about.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

New Life Worship

I have this thing for New Life Worship. They are the worship arm of New Life Church in Colorado Springs. Their music simply resonates with me and I am drawn in...closer to God. They are a big catalyst for me connecting with God so I use them A LOT during worship.

What's sweet about New Life Worship is it's comprised of a bunch of artists including many great musicians from Desperation Band and of course Ross Parsley. Jared Anderson also has a couple of solo albums that really rock as well.

Last week they had the Enter Conference in Colorado Springs at the church. It was a conference geared toward the worship leader and I was dying to go...especially since New Life Worship was unveiling a new album and several artists were going to be there (Paul Baloche, Gateway Worship, etc.) Unfortunately I couldn't afford to make the trip on my own and stopped short of contacting some people networked through I just found out last night they are doing a Seminars4Worship Conference in Grand Rapids, MI which would be about an 8 hour drive for me. Again I am tempted but I don't think I can pull it off since it's a week from today.

Someday I will go, but for now I need to stand on the sidelines and watch the game.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Vow and the Vision

Our church just finished a week long "season" of 24/7 prayer to commemorate the launch of The Station - an empty warehouse we recently converted into a home for our community. The Station will be used for classrooms, worship and office space. So we devoted a room to pray for a week and the church responded by signing up for an hour slot until the schedule was full.

I took a 2-hour slot this past Friday in which I spent the first hour worshiping God through song with some other folks from the worship team. Then from 12 - 1 AM I spent some God and Erik time in the prayer room.

I picked up a book I read a few years ago called "The Vow and the Vision" by Pete Grieg. And I cut to the chase and opened up the vow at the back of the book. Ah...the book came to life for me and the next thing I knew, I was kneeling on the floor, clutching a cross and reciting these words.

Fool that I am, I vow my whole life, all that I have and all that I am to be true to Christ in the grace of our Holy Spirit for every day the Father grants me. So help me God.

Weak as I am, I vow my whole life to be kind to people: to see Christ in others, to serve Christ in others and to show Christ to others in the joy of the Holy Spirit for the glory of our Father. So help me God.

Small as I am and wherever I am, I vow my life to the Gospel of Christ. Today, together, we offer to spend ourselves on behalf of the broken and poor in the power of the Spirit, giving our whole life that you might be loved in every language, tribe and nation in our generation for the glory of our Father. We will not live for ourselves. So help us God.

‘Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess’ Hebrews 10:23-25

Friday, August 22, 2008

What Would Jesus Do?

I have had some sort of marketing, advertising and interactive role for the past 12 odd years. A year ago I moved back into a brand management and advertising role from an interactive position. While I've enjoyed the work and the opportunities to work on high level projects, one thing has become noticably clear to me.
There is much more grace in the web and interactive world.

Why? Because you can easily fix your mistakes.

In advertising if you screw up some of your errors are permanent and more important costly.

So what does all this mean? Well...I think if Jesus had a vocation in the present day, he'd give up carpentry to be a web designer. It's full of grace.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Greater things have yet to come...

God continues to pour out his blessing and favor over our family for some reason. We were able to sell our house, find a new house and get our kids enrolled in school in a short, short time. He has released me to start a small business as well and as my wife reminded me today, "Greater things have yet to come..." Reminds me of this awesome Bluetree tune re-recorded by Mr. Chris Tomlin.

You're the God of this city, You're the King of these people
You're the Lord of this nation, You are
You're the Light in this darkness, You're the Hope to the hopeless
You're the Peace to the restless, You are

There is no one like our God, there is no one like our God

For greater things have yet to come, and greater things are still to be done in this city
Greater things have yet to come, and greater things are still to be done in this city

Greater things have yet to come, and greater things are still to be done here

"God Of This City" led by Chris Tomlin and written by Bluetree

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Thanks for the curveball, God!

Our house has been on the market for a few months, but I had given God an ultimatum in my head. "Sell our house by the end of August, and I'll know we're supposed to move to Ankeny. Don't sell it and maybe that's Your sign that we're supposed to make West Des Moines home."

God's really not in the business of making deals with us. Just read Proverbs in the Bible.

Proverbs 16:9 In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.

Proverbs 19:21 You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.

Over the past couple of weeks, I've grown quite discontent and anxious about selling our house. I grew to resent the fact that I needed to keep the lawn nicely mowed and house squeaky clean. I was growing restless and somewhat desperate.

So imagine my surprise when an offer came through from our second official showing. Our realtor tipped her hat to us and said, "I wouldn't have ever imagined that in this market you would have been able to sell your house with only two showings." But somehow we did.

Now we embark on finding a new home which is not a small task. We plowed through a bunch of homes yesterday and still have no idea where we'll end up living. Guess I gotta give the plan back to God on this one.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Big Dream

For a while...okay...for a few years I've wanted to design and produce t-shirts. I have a journal of ideas that I've kept for a while.

A couple of weeks ago, I felt released to start this business so I finally registered a website name and landed on a brand name for my shirts & gear.

I am now working on the business plan, designing some shirts, and researching the best ways to produce these shirts.

So stay tuned to learn more about...

Lighten Up Gear

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Shack

Have you heard of William P. Young yet? My wife and I like to refer to him as Willie P after watching a video interview of him on the website.

William Young is the author of The Shack which is currently featured on the NY Times best selling lists. There’s also this great article about Willy P and The Shack on the NY Times website.

I first heard about this book from my friend April, who has to be one of the most well-read persons I know. So when she tells me it's one of her favorite books, I DON'T take it like a grain of salt. Instead, I rush out and snatch up the book. In this case, I ordered a copy from my local library which ironically had two people on the waiting list when I returned it.

This book messed with me in a good way but it also opened up my eyes to some of my faults. The two major themes I took away from this book are: 1) I don’t trust God as much as I think I do and 2) I haven’t figured out what total surrender looks like for me yet. I am slowly trying but it’s not something that happens overnight. Case in point: I am struggling why our house hasn’t sold when we think it’s God’s plan that we’re supposed to live near our church in Ankeny. It’s hard to let go of control and trust God with this decision…and to be at peace with it completely.

So I keep trying to give it over to Him but the control freak in me has issues with that. I think that's why I always drive instead of my wife. ;)

Anyway, if you haven't read The Shack yet, please do yourself a favor and check it out. And definitely check out the video on the 722 site.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Facebook. The guitar. MySpace. Email. Video games. Television. CNN. ESPN. Music. . .

They are all obstacles that prevent me from feeling fulfilled. Yet I still chase after THOSE. They serve as self-medication to what I think is the prescription to helping me not feel stirred up. But if I would just pause for a second, I would realize that none of those things are calling. No. It's really God's Word that is calling.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Joshua and Our March

Joshua 6:15-17

On the seventh day, they got up at daybreak and marched around the city seven times in the same manner, except that on that day they circled the city seven times. The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the people, "Shout! For the LORD has given you the city! The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the LORD.

Our house has been listed on the market for approximately four weeks without any bites. It's been a bit discouraging to tell you the truth, and we're finding it difficult to remain patient and to trust in God.

Earlier this week, a colleague had asked me if we've had any luck selling our house. I jokingly said, "Not yet although we may need to march and pray around the house 7 times."

On Wednesday night at band practice we talked about moving when God says move. You don’t wait. You don’t process it. You don’t ask your wife. You move. Simple as that. That really stuck with me because so many times I say I’ll pray about something…or I’ll need to think about it before I act on something God is clearly telling me to do.

So yesterday, Logan is out in the garage helping me put away my lawnmower and tools. He asked me about my day and I said it was “good.” “What made it a good day, Daddy?” he asks, which clearly catches me by surprise. Logan had a rough day and really needed some Daddy time so I took the time to tell him about my day.

“So Diane is your boss?” He asks. I confirm. “Mommy’s boss is Josh,” he responds. “Yeah, but I like to call him Joshy,” I say to him with a smile. “I like to call him Joshua,” Logan says without blinking. “Joshua, as in the guy who marched around the city 7 times, then they blew their horns and the walls came down.”

“Woah. Did he really just say that?” I think to myself.

“Logan, how would you feel about walking around our house 7 times and praying for it and our family?” I ask wondering how he’ll respond.

I could barely keep up. He was blazing a trail around the house and several times I had to tell him to slow down so I could keep up. He started throwing out some cool stuff while we prayed and marched around our home. “Evil and bad stuff is not welcome here! Go away devil! We wanna be free!”

Then the last lap we laid hands on the house and prayed for it and blessed it. When it was over, I held him and prayed over him. It was really a blessing. We went inside and told Erin about our 7-lap adventure around the house. Her eyes got big and she said, “Boys, we need to blow our trumpets outside! C’mon let’s go!” Logan led the charge and was outside before the rest of us. Before we knew, he was yelling at the top of his lungs, “In the name of Jesus, we bless this house!”

And for that moment in time, we stood indignant before the Lord and blew our trumpets. We all made trumpet noises and then put our hands in together for one more big cheer. I’m sure we frightened the neighbors but who cares. Who cares!

Later that evening when the boys were snuggled into their bed, our friend Joshua stopped over. I hadn't realized he was coming, and I probably haven't seen him for a couple of months. Was his timing coincidental? I don’t think so. It was God-ordained.

One thing's for sure...if we do move, you can bet we're gonna march around the house seven times praying for it before we move in.

Thanks for the affirmation and for speaking to us this week, God. We love you!


Thursday, June 19, 2008

My Next 10 Tunes

I am a lurker. I subscribe to a couple of my colleagues' blogs and read up on their lives. I'm not sure if they know I lurk behind the scenes and read what they are up to. Nor do I know if they know I have my own blog.

But their latest blog postings served as a catalyst for me to post. They both participated in the "Next 10 Tunes" exercise. Basically, this means that you put your iPod on shuffle, and list out the first 10 tunes you see, with commentary.

So here's mine:

10) Breath of God - Shane Barnard
Ironically, this happens to be one of my top 10 favorite tunes of all time. It's a prayer that God would breathe the breath of life (the Holy Spirit) into us all.

9) Breathe - Amy Lee (with David Hodges)
Weird. Two songs in a row about breathing. All I can think of when I hear this tune is the angelic voice of Heather Noble leading worship at Wells Fargo Arena at Easter. Again, this is another prayer about asking God to let His holy presence to live in us.

8) Passion - Kutless
Off their "Sea Of Faces" album, admittedly I don't know a ton about Kutless. I like their alt rock sound and crunchy Nickelback vocals, but I haven't spent a ton of time listening to this band as others.

7) Eggplant - Train
Off Train's self-titled album, this catchy tune (well, most of the songs on this album are catchy honestly) has a sweet groove and builds into an awesome tag. And let's be honest here, there aren't enough songs in the world about eggplants.

6) Swing On This - Alice In Chains
I miss Layne. Why did heroin have to take his life? I even bought a pair of wrap-around sunglasses back in the 90s when I was obsessed with the grunge movement. You gotta hand it to Layne, he had one of the most distinct voices in the business. And their harmonies were extremely tight and unique. What do I love about "Swing On This"? It mixes grunge with blues. Try putting those two combinations into a blender and drinking it.

5) Sixteen, Maybe Less - Calexico / Iron & Wine
Could this group any more polar than Alice In Chains? It's a beautiful, sweet-like-honey folk tune layered with gorgeous and breathy harmonies. It almost has a country sound, especially with the slide guitar.

4) Fallin' To Pieces - Rob Thomas
Miss Matchbox 20? Me too. But Rob's solo stuff is just as good. Fallin' To Pieces has a great guitar lick that drives this tune. It almost has a gospel feel to it especially with the multi-part harmony woven into this tunes. Definitely has a great groove that has me tapping my feet. And did I hear a banjo in this tune? And a violin? Yes, I believe I did.

3) A Long December - Counting Crows
Adam Duritz rules. I love his voice, his style, his songwriting skills. This is a beautiful tune that pulls on your heart strings. You could be in an amazing relationship and be completely steamrolled by the emotion of this song about relationships. Lyrically this song is genius...well, most of Counting Crows songs fall into that category. Love the end of this tune when they back everything down and just have Adam singing with the piano. And you'll have "Nah, nah, nah, nah..." stuck in your head the rest of the day.

2) Meet Virginia - Train
Hmm. I sense a conspiracy here with two Train songs from the same album on my 10 Tunes list. I LOVE this song so it's a definite welcome to my list. The chorus is raw and emotional. And if I were in a rock band, I would want to cover this tune.

1) Waterfalls - Dry Bones Dancing
Betcha you've NEVER heard of Dry Bones Dancing. My good friend from Minneapolis, David James Stewart, started this band with some of his friends from Bethel College. Stew and I were obsessed with Shane and Shane at the time and met over our mutual adoration of the group. And our friendship took off from there. I had agreed to serve as a band manager and booking agent for this band when we decided to move to Des Moines. I miss these guys terribly. Anway, Waterfalls is one of Stew's songs and it was always one of my favorite songs on their album "Not Afraid." I love the structure of the song, especially the melodic verses and harmonies.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Books. Books. Books.

I think I have a problem. I am reading four books right now.

On Tuesday mornings over coffee, I meet with the worship leader at Lutheran Church of Hope WDM. We decided it would be a good idea to read, "The Heart of an Artist" by Rory Noland. I am 75% through the book but got sidetracked and haven't finished yet. What makes it worse, I started reading some other books.

My wife and I have been reading "In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day" by Mark Batterson. It's turning into one of my favorite books. Every other sentence is profound and my wife keeps asking me to re-read sentences as a result. I have been reading it with a pen to underline stuff that speaks to me. I might as well underline every word. ;)

For fun, I picked up "On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness" by Andrew Peterson - an amazing singer/songwriter that I have followed for a few years. He is truly a creative genius so I was curious to read this book as it's kind of a Lord of Rings type of book. Very enchanting and captivating. I checked this out from the library so I have to read this against a time table. Better get cracking!

And then a few weeks ago, a friend of mine who lives in Atlanta told me about "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. I ended up buying two copies of the book over the weekend and gave a copy to a friend. I started tearing into it and it started messing with me in a good way. I love being stirred up. I love it when God speaks through others. This is a good one, but I am afraid I need to finish my other books first before I become too engrossed. you have this problem too? Reading too many books at the same time?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Innocence from the Window

Last night I stayed up too late playing the guitar and listening to music. So it was no surprise that I was a bit sleepy when I dragged my 34 year-old body out of bed this morning. The morning shower simply didn't cut it so I stopped in at our local "ShortStop" to get an 89 cent cup of coffee (at least coffee doesn't cost as much as gas or milk).

When I walked out, there was a pick-up truck parked next to my Corolla and a little girl insistent on getting my attention. I sheepishly gave her a little wave, as I didn't want to cause concern to her mom or dad (at least I was hoping that's whom she was with). But that wasn't enough for her.

She started knocking the glass, waving like she couldn't control her flailing arms, with a huge grin on her face. Her 4 year-old smile made my day. I bust out laughing, waved again and this time offered her a wink. She tried to wink back but instead I got a cute blink as a substitute. She continued waving as I backed my car out of its space and headed for the interstate.

And that my friends, was a better way to start my day than a house blend cup of coffee.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Revival Generation

I have been grooving to the worship music of Brian and Jenn Johnson lately. They are worship leaders at Bethel Church in Redding, California. There's something passionate and stirring about their worship music and it messes with me in a good way.

This morning on the way into work I was listening to one of their albums on my iPod when "Revival Generation" started playing. About this time, I was approaching an entrance ramp and a line of cars and trucks started merging onto the interstate. At that moment I looked up and saw "City Wide" on the back of a big truck in front of me. It made me smile.

Revival is coming.

Here are the words to the song.

I heard an old man talking of a time that was long ago he said
The fires been dormant for awhile but he was praying
And with this prayer my heart caught fire and now it won’t let go
Cause I found the reason why I’m alive

Were a new breed rising and we’re coming we’re gonna take a stand
There is a new passion burning in our hearts
A new love for Jesus a new hope and a vision
For this revival here we are


Consecrated is who we are its who we’re called to be
We’d rather see revival than build these kingdoms of pride and greed
Fan into flame this revival fire let it burn
Crush your children until our hearts are inflamed

Copyright 1997 Brian Johnson

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Adopting Church

I will admit that God was moving me with disturbing images and stories over the weekend. I watched both “City of God” and “Blood Diamond” over the weekend and had my heart torn to shreds by the imagery that my eyes took in. Today, I read the following story on CNN about a little boy in Africa that flees slavery to return home.

I thought the themes and the political agendas Blood Diamond was pushing in its story was pretty telling. During one part of the movie, Solomon (the African man looking for his family) asks the journalist (who is writing a story on the illegal diamond trade business) whether or not Americans will come to their aid after they read her article. We all know the answer to this question. We watch these movies, read these books, read these stories and articles and we mostly don’t do anything. We shake our heads and say, “That’s a shame. We should really do something about that.” And then we don’t.

This is why we are to become the “Adopting Church”. So that we can partner with a pastor, who partners with a church, which partners with a community, which partners with a village, which partners with a region, which partners with a country… Our prayer is that this adopting church concept becomes viral…that other churches and other affluent people will wake up to what we are called to do.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

For Sale By Owner

I'm sitting at the kitchen table, posted as a sentry carefully watching for someone to step to the front door to knock. Foot traffic has been admittedly slow today with the exception of a young woman and her two little boys. They came right after 1 PM today and I was completely hopeful this was going to be easier than the last time we tried to sell our home. They seemed like the kind of family my wife would want to sell our house to. It doesn't matter if the price is right; we'd like a sweet family to enjoy it years after us.

I do love the fact that we faithfully trust God in this situation. It is, after all, His idea for us to move. We feel the calling and a longing to move a few miles north of here, closer to a community we both grew up in but never figured we'd be back. But God has a really funny sense of humor and we've been serving up at Lutheran Church of Hope NorthBranch for a year and a half. And now it feels like our community...our family...our home.

It reminds of me of how people confuse the word "church" as many immediately gravitate to the word building. But the church is comprised of the people who with one voice worship God. The same feels like it could apply to the word "home." While we live in this yellow house on the corner of Colby and 99th, our home feels like it's in the Ankeny area.

And so I sit here and wait on the Lord. Nope, I'm not waiting for God to knock on the front door. He's already here...he already lives here. But we wait for a buyer and it's in God's hands. So we faithfully wait on Him.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Life Is Too Short

“Work like you don’t need the money, love like you’ve never been hurt, and dance like no one is watching.” Satchel Paige

Yesterday I received an email that broke my heart. One of my friends from church and colleague at work unexpectedly and suddenly passed away at the age of 42. Her name is Lori English and she had a huge heart for God.

She was very active in our church and specifically I got to get to know her better on a short-term missions trip to Jamaica. Her passion was children and she spent most of her week at West Haven Orphanage loving on those beautiful kids. She had a ton of empathy for me when my heart was broken leaving Copse Place of Safety after a visit. She knew what Jesus' heart feels like. She knew the compassion and love He has for his people.

Lori was active in a marketplace ministry that I help organize and she spent a season praying with us here at work. I always loved running into her in the office and catching up.

More recently, she fell in love with Tom and they were engaged to be married this summer. She asked me a few months ago to sing in her wedding and I obliged. I was honored to lead worship for her special day and she already knew she wanted me to sing, "How Great Is Our God" by Chris Tomlin. I hope someone sings it at her funeral. One thing I know for sure; I won't ever be able to sing the song the same way.

As I was lamenting with a friend of mine about this loss, she said to me, "Let's honor Tom and Lori by loving our spouses the same way they were in love." That really rang home for me. It really put things in perspective about how short life is and how we must not take anything for granted, especially the people around us who love us and we love.

It reminded me of the quote I started this post with by Satchel Paige. If this were my quote, I would rearrange a few things in it to read...

“Worship like no one is watching. Love like Jesus. And work as if you're working for the Lord."

As I write this post, I write it with envy as I know that Lori is in good company as she sits at the feet of Jesus today.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Unreal artist

This guy is amazing and you NEED to check him out. Brilliant!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter or Thanksgiving?

Maybe it's because I am super stressed at work?

Maybe it's because I've spent a lot of time and effort into planning the Christmas Eve services, Dream Night and our Easter services?

Maybe it's because I am sleep deprived from putting together a slide show and a ministry fair display at the last night?

Whatever the case, I have to laugh at myself for wishing everyone a blessed Thanksgiving this morning at the tail end of our Easter service.

I AM thankful for Jesus. At least that part is right.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Here's the deal. Every time I am driving to or from work, it seems like God is working on me regarding my patience. Inevitably, I'll get cut off or if I change lanes, mine will suddenly slow down. And it seems like every time I am in a hurry, I can hear this voice in my head that says, "The last shall be first and the first shall be last."

Honestly, I hear that over and over whenever I am driving. So I've decided that I want to be a more courteous driver. I've noticed a lot of times that drivers will pretend not to see others when they have their turn signal on. (In fact, we just had a similar conversation in one of my training classes today about elevator etiquette.) But I've started to take notice.

It seems like drivers are using the action of checking in their side mirror or rear view mirror to indicate they are coming over. The courteous thing to do would be to also signal. But when I notice that drivers next to me begin the motion of checking their mirrors, I'll slow down to let them in front of me. But time after time, no one seems to acknowledge my random act of kindness.

So I'm bringing back the wave. The nod. The peace sign. If you let me into your lane, I'm gonna acknowledge your kindness.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Nomadic Church & the Warehouse

I love that the church that I attend is in no hurry to buy some land and build a building to house our worship services. For a little over a year, we've been worshipping in a middle school in the middle of Ankeny, Iowa. We started in the school cafeteria and eventually grew into one of gymnasiums.

Currently, we had a need for some space that we can use for a variety of reasons. From small groups meeting to the worship team rehearsing to having some small space for our small staff, we're looking at possibly investing in a warehouse that needs some renovation. Trust me, it's nothing fancy. In fact, it sits right next to a bar called Good Times. My wife thinks it would be kind of funny to call our potential space as "God Times." I could see the neon signs ablaze above our doors, one of the O's burnt out, as God Times lights the night.

Recently, our pastor asked us what our vision was for using the space. Here's what I wrote back:

Every time I think about the warehouse I get so excited about what God is going to do through that facility. I have a few dreams on my heart that are God-breathed that all tie-back to the warehouse.

First of all, it will be a home for the worship ministry to practice each week. Not only will it help us prepare each week for worship, but it will give a space to grow in fellowship with one another and with God.

Secondly, I would love to carve out an evening each month in which we could open up the space and have a night of worship and prayer. We would just sing to our hearts' delight, worshipping God as a body of believers.

Thirdly, I believe that the NorthBranch Worship Team is supposed to write and record music in the warehouse. I believe God is going to lay songs on our hearts that will later be recorded and hopefully produced into a CD.

Next, I believe that God wants to use this space to bring awareness to the poor and oppressed. I have had a dream on my heart for several years to showcase movies that share the stories of the widows and orphans of the world. I believe these movies will draw us closer to God in knowing the heart of the Father. And I believe through these films, we will discover our calling to reach out and share the everlasting love of Jesus through prayer and missions work.

Lastly, I believe God is going to use that space to bring families and singles together to fellowship and grow in our relationships. From potlocks to game nights, we'll share in laughter and tears of joy and pain as we grow closer to one another and to the Father through our community.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

February 10, 2008 Worship Set

I really loved this set today and wasn't sure what the church really thought of it. But at the end of the day, I was blessed in particular by a young family (with three boys no less) that approached me after the service. They had just moved to Ankeny and visited a church last week that didn't feel right. They walked into Hope NorthBranch half-way through our worship set and knew this was the right church for them. The matriarch of the family was on the worship team of their old church and was already interested in serving on our worship team after visiting once.
It's amazing to think that a young family can walk into a middle school gymnasium and feel like this is "it". This is home. This was my prayer today that our guests would become overcome by the everlasting love of Jesus. That the Holy Spirit would be undeniable. That the church would love on them with open arms.

I was also approached by a young man interested in singing as well. And I auditioned a college student after worship today as well. We're definitely growing. I just don't know what to do with all of these people. Thank you for the blessings though, God. You are amazing...

Here was our worship set today:

Call to worship:
  • Hallelujah (Be High and Lifted Up) by Tim Hughes
  • Mighty to Save by Hillsong United
  • Everlasting God by Brenton Brown
  • From the Inside Out by Hillsong United
  • Beautiful Jesus by Kristian Stanfill
God bless!

February 3, 2008 Worship Set

Wowsers. I can't believe we're into February already. Time flies when you're worshipping!

This week, I busted out yet another hymn and another New Life Worship tune. I really love the chorus to Live to's simple.

You are glorious!
You are glorious!
And I live to worship you.
And I live to worship you.
You're glorious!

Good stuff.

Here's the set:

Call to worship: Live to Worship (New Life Worship)
Worship: Glorious One by Steve Fee and Came to My Rescue by Hillsong United
Offering: Joyous Light from the Passion Ancient and Modern Hymns
Communion: Savior King by Hillsong United

Monday, February 04, 2008

Yes We Can!

Tomorrow is "Super Tuesday" get out there and vote!

I am standing with Obama. Yes, we can...

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sunday, January 27, 2008 Worship Set

I don't know what's gotten into me lately but I have been grooving to hymns. Perhaps it was the discussion with my parents requesting that I mix in some traditional hymns with the contemporary music or one of the members acknowledging that she really appreciated our rendition of Jesus Paid It All. Nonetheless, I busted another one out this week for our offering.

Here was our worship set for last weekend:

Call to worship:
  • One Way (Hillsong United)
  • Glorious God (New Life Worship)
  • Almighty God (Tim Hughes)
  • Consuming Fire (Tim Hughes)
  • I Stand Amazed (How Marvelous) arranged by Chris Tomlin

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sunday, January 20, 2008 Worship Set

I will admit that the first service felt awkward for some reason today. I can't put my finger on it exactly but it felt like the church was watching a concert instead of worshipping with us. Some of the songs we played today were a little heavy on guitar solos but nonetheless I believe the Holy Spirit can lead a guitar solo.

The other funny thing about our set is that it was 100% New Life Worship meets Desperation Band. I guess I had a thing for New Life Church today for some reason.

Here's our worship set...

Call to worship:
  • Glorious God (New Life Worship)
  • Endlessly (Desperation Band)
  • This Is Our God (New Life Worship)
  • Here In Your Presence (New Life Worship)
  • Maker of Heaven (Desperation Band)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Blog Accountability and Worship Sets

In my last post I mentioned my New Year's resolutions which were to...what were they again? Oh healthier spiritually, physically and emotionally more.

I was thinking about combining the two thoughts into one by keeping track of my progress online, creating accountability of sorts.

My biggest focal points for living a healthier spiritual life would be my disciplines of reading God's word and praying.

Living a healthy physical life would entail that I would watch my diet, exercise regularly, and get enough rest.

And honestly, I think hitting the first two goals results in being emotionally healthy.

In thinking about these goals recently, I think it would help me to track my progress online and show my that's what I am going to do. If I didn't hit the mark, then I will admit it. I'm not going to exercise every day and there will be times when I stay up past my bedtime. But I think over time I will grow closer to achieving these goals.

Lastly, I thought I might start posting our setlists out on my blog in case any worship leaders stumble across it and are looking for new songs to check out. I know I'd benefit from posts like that so I am going try it myself.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

Do you make New Year's resolutions? I don't really officially write them down but I am cognizant of them in my head.

Now that I am nearing my mid-30s, my health is one of my biggest concerns. I really would like to exercise more and eat a healthier diet. It was more or less confirmed tonight as I listened to a podcast on our way back from Minnesota and as I shifted uncomfortably in my seat from not feeling well. My back is out of whack and I feel like I am coming down with an ulcer or something, honestly. I was stressed out from driving in crazy winds and drifting snow. So as I reflected on how I was feeling and after watching one of the best movies over the weekend called "The Great Debaters," I hereby solemnly resolve to:

1. healthier spiritually, physically and emotionally.
2. more.

That's about it. Anything above that would make my resolutions too complicated. =)

Here's to 2008!