One of My Favorite Tools.

As the Worship Arts pastor at New Hope, I have many tools I can use to help me with my job. Today I am sludging through hundreds of choral songs to choose music for the summer choir starting in a few weeks. It’s not easy to find songs that are both musically and thematically appropriate!

This task would be a huge pain if it weren’t for iTunes. iTunes is the free music player program from the Apple company, yet it runs on a Windows PC as well. It’s available at www.apple.com. Today, instead of searching for several CDs, I can simply search through the iTunes library and listen to all the choir sample CDs that publishing companies have sent in — many of these sample CDs are buried deep inside cabinets, but with iTunes I can access everything on my computer. iTunes is saving me a lot of time today, although I’m making up for that saved time by spending it writing a blog to tell you about it. lol.

In the words of Kip, “I love technology . . .”

SpFx.com

This “plug” is for the techies (I know you’re out there). If you’re not a techie, you can stop reading this post.

Last weekend was Easter weekend and at my church we used confetti launchers disguised as plants during the service to help us celebrate the resurrection of our King. We rented this equipment from a company in Orlando called SpFx.com. From the looks of things, their equipment is typically used for gigantic events, but I was only renting 2 small confetti machines and I still feel like I received royal treatment. This is a plug for “SpFx.com” Every phone conversation was extremely professional and concise. The company is very “on the ball” and they even recognized my name when I called in with a question.

After receiving the rental product there was some confusion with the assembling of the confetti launchers. Specifically, we needed to tape a cap to the top of the canon to build pressure. This was not indicated in the instructions, which is no problem for someone who does this all the time — but this was the first time I ever used a confetti launcher and I didn’t know unless someone told me. The problem was solved with one extremely helpful and professional phone call. I suggest SpFx improve their directions so that the inexperienced would be able to assemble the product correctly the first time.

Overall, I was extremely impressed with spfx.com. They are prompt, polite, punctual, and professional. I intend to use them in the future.

Christafari.

Earlier tonight I was helping a friend of mine with the final drafts of a song he had written. I wanted to show him an example of a specific keyboard sound I was suggesting he use. I searched through my music collection searching for a song that would have the sounds I wanted to hear when I came across some music I had forgotten I had . . . Christafari.

Christafari is a Christian Reggae group. The music is quite amazing; pretty different. But music aside, this is still an awesome group.

Christafari isn’t ashamed of their beliefs. They are reaching a group that (to my knowledge) no one else is reaching. Many people associate Reggae music with Bob Marley and marijuana. So the Christafari website has a section dedicated to discussing how Bob Marley became a Christian and how marijuana is wrong. How cool is that? Christafari is a “counter-cult, drug aversion ministry that uses the conscious sounds of reggae to bring the lost to the light.”

Check ’em out.

ING Direct

Wells Fargo and Bank of America both provide savings accounts. Both have a monthly fee of $3 unless you maintain a balance of $300. Bank of America’s interest rate is 0.2%. Wells Fargo’s interest rate is 0.1%. That’s not even a whole percent.

These larger banks have an outrageous overhead. They have many physical locations all over the country – ALL of which require money for the building, utilities, and salaries for the numerous bankers and tellers in each facility. These larger banks also spend thousands on printed materials and paying postage to mail it. Of course, they pay for all this stuff with the interest they make off of their customers’ money. Wouldn’t it be great if there was an online bank that did away with all the overhead cost – and passed the extra savings off to the customer?

Meet ING Direct.

ING Direct is an online bank. They have TWO physical stores. Since most people do their own banking right online themselves – they can drastically cut back on salary cost. And since most customers choose to receive internet notification instead of posted and printed materials – ING Direct is able to save thousands on overhead cost. Remember Wells Fargo’s savings rate? It was 0.1%. ING Direct’s savings rate is 4.5%. It was 2.5% when I opened my first savings account with them two years ago.

Here’s how it works. I have a checking account at a large bank. I give my routing and account information through ING Direct’s secure connection. This connection between your checking account and ING Savings Account is about the only way you can transfer money to and from. To deposit money into your savings account, you tell ING to take money from your checking account. To withdraw money, you tell ING to deposit money into your checking account. It’s that easy. The interest rate is 4.5% (that’s better than mutual funds!), there are NO minimum balances at all – ever, and I’ve used them for two years with great success. The website is very intuitive with very good instructions – but they still have phone bankers available to help. I highly recommend them. This is a “plug” for the ING Direct savings account.

Here’s the deal. If you open up your ING Direct savings account and make an initial deposit of $250 or greater, ING Direct will give you $25 free. And they will give ME $10 free for referring you. If you’re interested, please email me your email address and your first and last name at adam@newhope.in. That’s all I need to send a referral. You have to sign up for ING Direct through the link in my referral email to receive the free $25, and for me to receive the free $10.

I know it sounds to good to be true – but so far for me they have been great. I joined on the $25 referral thing — and I’ve never looked back. If you’re looking to save your money – I am giving a “plug” for ING Direct.

Top Ten Reasons I’m Looking Forward to the Risen to Reign Series.

This weekend my church is beginning its Easter series called Risen to Reign. Lots of great things will be happening — this four week series is our Easter production for 2007, integrated with our services. Here are the top ten reasons I’m looking forward to the Risen to Reign series.

10) Hundreds of hours have gone into it – I’m anxious to finally see how it unfolds.

9) After the series, my work days will actually last from 9-5 again. Okay – so they never did. But still . . .

8) The story of Jesus has the power to change an eternal destiny. Through the ongoing drama in this series, the story of Christ will be more clear than perhaps ever before — I know lives will be touched as a result.

7) I think some friends of mine A, A, and J are coming. I’m pretty sure they aren’t Christians – and I’m praying they recieve Christ during this event.

6) I’m adding some instrumentation to the worship band during this series.

5) We’re going to integrate some very sweet artistic elements within the worship sets — including some stuff we’ve never tried before.

4) My friend B might be coming. I talked about him a few days ago. I’m definitely looking forward to that.

3) We’re completely transforming the stage on week four (Easter Weekend).

2) I believe people will make decisions for Christ.

1) IT’S GONNA BE SWEET!

Doing the Work of an Evangelist

In 2 Timothy 4:5, Paul tells Timothy that he needs to “do the work of an evangelist.”

I think this applies to all of us – we are all called to do the work of an evangelist.

Some people are called as evangelists – its their spiritual gift. They are great at it – God gives some people a supernatural ability to lead people to Him.

But for everyone else – we’re not off the hook. We may not be gifted as an evangelist, but we are instructed to do the work of an evangelist. That doesn’t necessarily mean we need to walk up to people we don’t know – but as we go into the world, we need to be making Christ known. All Christians are called to this – there are no exceptions.

There are different ways we can get involved in evangelism. Some of us are called to inspire others to do evangelism (I have a part of the evangelism process right now as I write this even!). Some of us may feel comfortable going door to door sharing Christ with whoever would listen. Some people are extremely uncomfortable knocking on someone’s door – but certainly they could do or say something to make Christ known while at school or work.

Personally, I don’t have a big problem sharing Christ to complete strangers. God made me bold. Maybe He made you a little more timid. That’s cool, too. But it doesn’t disqualify you from doing the work of an evangelist when the opportunity arises.

For those who attend New Hope, I want to challenge you to do the work of an evangelist this week by bringing your non-Christian friends to the Risen To Reign Series this upcoming weekend. This series will provide an opportunity for them to receive Christ — its an awesome opportunity for us to do the work of an evangelist!

DST

Hey everyone remember to make your clocks SPRING FORWARD one hour tonight when you go to bed! Daylight Savings Time begins tonight/tomorrow EARLY morning.

Potato Chips.

I opened a bag of potato chips the other day. Not just any potato chip, but original kettle cooked recipe. Oh, those are so good — and crunchy.

Have you ever noticed how when you open up a bag of potato chips there is an incredible fresh bag smell? It only lasts a few seconds, and then its gone. But wow, it smells so fresh right then.

Then when you come back the next day, even if you rolled up the bag, it won’t be as fresh as it was the day before. Every day after the bag is opened it gets more and more stale.

That’s what religion does to a Christian. Remember when you asked God into your life? It was fresh and exciting. But as time goes on, we often forget that our Christianity isn’t about religion but its about our relationship. This mis-directed thought pattern is the cause of many religiously transmitted diseases.

This is a plug for Ed Gungor’s book, “Religiously Transmitted Diseases.” This book discusses many incorrect thought patterns that have somehow infiltrated the church, alot more than I had expected. This book has significantly changed my life, and I encourage any Christian to read it. Check it out.

Convenience.

I don’t ever recall God speaking to me, “Adam, this is what I want you to do. How does that sound?” or “Adam, I want you to go there. Does that work okay for you?” God just doesn’t seem to be that concerned with my convenience.

De veras. Wake up. God doesn’t really give a hoot about what’s convenient. I was with Pastor Dennis Kutzner earlier tonight and he shared with me something that penetrated into my heart. He said, “Adam, you know its God when its not convenient.”

That is so true. Was it convenient for Jesus to die for us? Was in convenient for the Apostle Paul to travel across Europe to spread the Gospel–even to the point of imprisonment and perhaps a martyrs death? Is it convenient to share Christ — perhaps with someone you don’t even know? Is it convenient to fill up someone else’s car with some gasoline? Let’s not back away from things that are simply not convenient. God should be allowed to inconvenience us. Give him permission.

Bigger Than My Imagination.

My church has a daycare which holds a chapel service for the preschoolers every Thursday afternoon. Last week it was my turn to talk to the kids. As I finished and was leaving, one of the children asked me, “Pastor Adam, how big is God?”

What a question.

I replied to the boy, “Bigger than your imagination.” After thinking about it, I suppose that’s about the best answer I could have given. God really is bigger than any of us could possibly imagine. I am reminded of this especially when I see God work in my life in ways I wouldn’t expect in a million years.

Since I’m talking about it, I’ll take this opportunity to make a “plug” for Michael Gungor’s incredible CD called “Bigger Than My Imagination.” It’s got some very tight music on it, including a rhythmic acoustic guitar rendition of the Doxology. Check it out.