Saturday, October 16, 2010

I Miss Leading Worship

It's always a tough decision to go against the grain - to do what's unpopular. Leaving our old church was an incredibly difficult decision and for me it's been a grieving process for me the past few months. I've had to learn the hard way how to let go. And during that process, I learned how incredibly prideful I've been over these past few years.

Leading the worship ministry at our church was one of my passions in life. It fueled my soul and heart. It picked me up from rough days and weeks. I was part of an amazing community that was transparent and authentic - that wanted to help connect the church with Jesus.

Over the past few months, my fingertips have softened from not playing the guitar. And so has my heart.

A few weeks ago I sought out some pastoral counseling because I realized it was finally time to move forward and to stop living in the past. I found that bitterness settled into my heart, where light and love lived so prevalently. I have some homework that I have been jamming on and I plan to set up some divine appointments with some folks that have been on my heart.

With this realization that I need to repent and to rely completely in Jesus and not of my flesh, I have realized how much I miss leading worship. I have discovered a whole mess of worship music that I wish I could introduce to the church.

But for everything there is a season. And God clearly wants our family to worship together as a family. So I've learned to be content worshiping with the church and not leading worship for the church.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Thank you. Thank you very much.

I've been at Hope NorthBranch serving as a volunteer worship leader for almost 4 years. Honestly, I didn't want to go to Hope NorthBranch in the first place. The church was looking for a worship leader to grow the music ministry and I was looking to purge additional responsibilities from my life at the time. So when the email hit my inbox, I immediately hit 'delete' and moved on with my day.

However, my wife was also included on the email. And lucky for Hope, my wife is an amazing, God-loving woman full of grace and wisdom. She simply has a big heart and wants to see Christ taken to the ends of the earth.

When she approached me about the idea, we agreed as a family that for a season we would help out the church in order to get them through the holidays. That was October 2006 and our season lasted a little longer than what we had originally anticipated.

Almost 4 years later, God begin stirring in us a desire to spread our wings a bit. And on Sunday, June 6th, while celebrating our 13th wedding anniversary, we felt the presence of the Lord release us from Hope NorthBranch. We felt God say, "It's okay. It's time to go."

That's a difficult pill to swallow letting go of something you think you built up. The church had grown from 125 people to over 900 at the latest Easter service. The music ministry grew from a handfull of people to over 40. But I didn't have anything to do with it. In all honesty, the Holy Spirit made all of that happen. All we can do as worshipers is acknowledge that and get out of the way of God.

We cannot control what is not ours to control. Hope NorthBranch is one of those things. So is the music ministry. So are our lives.

So when God said to let go of the music ministry and Hope NorthBranch, what choice do we have in the matter? When He has blessed you to leave and given you peace about it, all you can do is be obedient to his calling.

So we are stepping out in faith. Unsure of what lies ahead in the future. God was abundantly clear in Proverbs 16:1 that whatever plans we make, His will overrule ours. I love this paraphrase which reads: "Man loves to devise plans which reflect his heart's ambition; God however always does what He wishes regarding our lives."

Perhaps God will bring us back to Hope NorthBranch after a season of time. One things for sure, I am looking forward to worshiping with my family together. We've gone to church the past 6-8 years in 2 different cars at 2 different times. I am looking forward to worshiping as one body, one family in this next season that God has ordained.

Friday, April 23, 2010

My Mild Obsession with Hillsong United

They say that acceptance is the first step. Okay, I will admit that I have a mild obsession with Hillsong United. There...I said it.

Earlier this week, we were blessed to celebrate Caleb and Logan's 8th birthday in style: at a United Hillsong worship event at Wells Fargo Arena here in Des Moines, Iowa.

When I first found out about the concert, I was torn because I realized that it fell on their birthday. What to do?

A) Throw them a really fantastic birthday celebration over the weekend and go on a date with my lovely wife by ourselves on Monday.


B) Take the kiddos with us and celebrate with them.

As you can deduce from the start of this blog, we took the boys. But we were also blessed to be able to get backstage passes for the show and 15 minutes before they hit the stage, the band humbly came out of their dressing room to wish my boys a happy birthday.

The week prior, Logan had asked if I could design him a shirt that read "Hillsong United States" as a play on words since the band resides in Sydney, Australia. I obliged and made two very handsome shirts for both Logan and Caleb, which they proudly displayed the night of the show. As a mildly obsessed fan, I brought along my favorite Sharpie and had the members each sign their shirts. We took a great family photo with the band (sans Jonah unfortunately who stayed with grandma and grandpa that night). And I even handed Joel Houston a couple of packs of Thomas Lift art cards, hoping it would bless him as William's art has blessed me.

The concert met all expectations. Of course, I knew what to expect worshiping with them a year prior at the Willow Creek Worship and Arts Conference (The Wonder Conference) the year before. So then that little voice in my head started speaking.

"Drive to Kansas City and see them again. It's only 3 hours away and it's not like Hillsong United gets to the states that often. Plus tickets are fairly reasonable."

A quick check of the weather report and I was rather discouraged. Rain. Thunderstorms. Wind. Ugh. What to do? So I tweet, "How much do I love Hillsong United? Enough to get wet."

They write back, "If we can do it, so can you!" Affirmation.

So I planned to drive by myself. Be alone in my thoughts and listen to their music full blare as I drive off to Kansas City. But then my buddy Josh, media director at Lutheran Church of Hope, offers to tag along and it's a man-date.

Last night was awesome. It was an outdoor show at the Starlight Theatre adjacent to the Kansas City Zoo. However, the rain was downpouring when we finally hit the Kansas City area. Not discouraged, we brought rain gear and agreed to live to tell this story again and again.

But God's favor was on us. As we pulled into the parking lot, the clouds parted and the skies turned blue. We were reminded of one of their songs in which they sing, "Open up the heavens, let your glory fall." To which God's glory fell upon this audience of worshipers last night.

We scalped tickets. Maybe it's not a fair assessment since we paid full price but I helped a church group out as several people canceled due to the weather. So we made new friends and worshiped our hearts out last night under the Kansas City night.

And I thought to myself, "Joel Houston and the rest of the gang from Hillsong United are freaking awesome. But they are merely a speck of sand in the beach of awesomeness that God claims as His."

I can't fathom what worship music in heaven must be like. What's crazy is that this music down here on earth probably doesn't compare. Although, these past two worship events I would argue that heaven has met earth.

I pray that Hillsong United can continue reaching a generation of unlost. To change the world as we know it. And inspire millions to turn their hearts to God.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wedding Songs

I get asked often for recommendations for wedding songs. Here are a few tunes that I would recommend that would be beautiful for a wedding. (Note: many of these are worship songs)

Unfailing Love – Chris Tomlin

This Day - Jadon Lavik

Your Love Is Deep – Jami Smith

Your Love is Extravagant – Casting Crowns

Enough – Chris Tomlin

For My Love - Bethany Dillon

You Are My Strength – Hillsong

Your Love Never Fails – Chris McClarney, performed by Joe Monto

How He Loves – Written by John Mark McMillan, performed by David Crowder

By Your Side – Tenth Avenue North

Love Came Down – Ben Cantelon

A Page Is Turned – Bebo Norman

This Kind of Love – Sister Hazel (this is a secular song that I played at a friend’s wedding. I thought it worked well and was actually surprised the Catholic church let me play it)

When I Say I Do – Matthew West

Divine Romance – Phil Wickham

Love Never Fails – Brandon Heath

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Matthew Paul Turner and World Vision to Visit Uganda

Follow Matthew Paul Turner and World Vision as they travel to Uganda in January. Matthew is one of my favorite bloggers so I can only imagine you will appreciate his thoughts and insight as he travels to a country that holds my heart...Uganda.

Check it out.