God is An American.

I was just thinking about the Worship of America. Not Worship IN America . . . but the Worship OF America. You know, the nonsense about how all our founding fathers were sold-out Christians (5 minutes of intellectual research will show you that although they were all extremely religious and believed in the supreme being, few of them would acknowledge Jesus Christ as their Savior and the only way to heaven). It shocks me to find a hymn lyrics in my hymnal such as, “My country … sweet land of liberty … of thee I sing!” and “I like the sound of America, the best sounding word I know.” What? That’s a worship song? I believe we SHOULD pray for our troops — but because they are doing a difficult thing and need prayer, not because they are in the God-Army fighting terrorism.

Now a lot of people get way over sensitive about this and they won’t vote in elections claiming, “My King is in heaven, and he’s coming back.” That’s just ridiculous. My King is in heaven, and he’s coming back . . . but he also told us to respect our government and work within its structures . . . in other words – VOTE. I am a proud American – but my first priority is my faith in Jesus, not in my country. It’s not evil that they are connected – Christianity and government SHOULD be connected; Christians should have their lives SO effected by being in love with Jesus that their Christianity effects EVERYTHING (anything less turns Christianity into a religion). But being an American doesn’t make you a Christian. Jesus does.

How did Christianity and Americanism get so connected? That’s what confused me for the longest time. So I started thinking about the foundations of both: America was founded because there was a group of people that were in bondage to a repressive government. The patriots fought against this repressive government to declare their freedom. Christianity was founded because mankind was in bondage to a sinful nature and destined to hell. God fought against this sinful nature and defeated it; bridging the gap OVER sin and declaring all of humanity’s freedom (should they accept it).

I’ve heard it said Christians have an easier time forgiving people than non-Christians do. I think that’s true because Christians have BEEN forgiven. Christians know what lousy sacks of crap they were, and that Jesus forgave them and redeemed them anyway… so its easier for a Christian to show forgiveness to someone who doesn’t deserve it because they’ve experienced it themselves.

Maybe America’s foundation in FREEDOM got mixed in with Christianity because of its similar theme. Hmm.

A Buddy Rich Day.

Hop on iTunes and get the song “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” by “The Buddy Rich Band.”

If you ever need to get your blood flowing sometime … pop that in. Make it a “Buddy Rich Day.” That’s what I did today. And crank it. Brass and saxophones always sound best when they’re loud.

A Picture Is Worth . . .

This is how I feel:

In case you can’t tell, that’s the bottom of an empty barrel! Man, have I been drained lately. I’ve got to make some serious adjustments to my schedule, starting with a big massive hunk of time exclusively set aside for praying and connecting with God (not my normal time, but like a “recovery” time!). In the past 24 hours I’ve had two friends call and ask if I could get together with them, and I’ve had to tell them both, “I’m sorry, I’m not available. I’m going to be praying on that day.” Which is totally the truth!

You know, its cool how God works things out. One thing that had been pressuring me greatly was a speaking engagement that was scheduled for this month. Deadlines for some outlines and such were coming up just next week and I was starting to feel a lot of pressure. Just a few minutes ago, an organizer for the event called me and apologized but asked if he could move my speaking day back a month to May.

🙂 I love serving Jesus. He’s got my back, that’s for sure.

My Favorite Website.

Okay, I need to take this silly April Fools Day opportunity to tell everyone about my favorite website: www.something.com. Check out the website – its amazing. I found this website when I was in the 10th grade bored on a computer and I just typed in “www.something.com” to see what was there. I laughed and laughed. To this day, I laugh hysterically every time I visit the page. I can only imagine the enjoyment the site owner gets . . . seeing how many millions or billions of hits he gets on his nonsense page every day. It just cracks me up.

For the html-ers out there, you also might enjoy to look at the simplicity of the html code.

Myths of the Ministry

In the 1980s, my dad heard a list of ministry myths about pastors at a convention of the Fort Wayne Bible College (later bought by Taylor University). Many of these are specifically regarding full-time pastors. I thought they were very interesting, and very applicaple for today as well.

  1. Pastors have perfect kids.  People actually think it should be that way!
  2. Pastors have the answers to everything. Don’t me how to change your oil!
  3. Pastors are super-Christians. The only difference is a Calling to full-time ministry. Pastors get tempted like everyone else.
  4. Pastors need less money. Historically this was actually true — Pastors used to get discounts for everything. But that hasn’t been the case for several decades. Pastors have bills to pay like everyone else. 
  5. Pastors only work one day a week. I’ve actually heard of a person who frequently would stop in to speak with a pastor and start out by saying, “I figured you didn’t have anything to do so I wanted to stop by and talk to you.”
  6. I lost it.
  7. I can’t find these.
  8. Not sure where I wrote 6-10 at…
  9. Hmmm…
  10. When/if I find 6-10 I’ll post them, too. But I didn’t want to mess up the beautiful numbering system…
  11. Pastors know what’s happening. Pastors do not magically know if you’re in the hospital or if you are offended or if your life is going down the tubes and you want someone to pray for you.
  12. It’s easy for a pastor to be a Christian. See note on #3.
  13. It’s easy for a pastor to witness.
  14. Pastors have no retirement needs.
  15. The pastor and his family are immune to troubles.
  16. Pastors always have their head in the clouds. Although many pastors need to be visionaries and look towards the future, so it may seem this way because pastors often talk about what COULD happen.
  17. Pastors are a third sex. Ha ha. This made me laugh. A pastor is either a male or a female – and you’re going to get all the emotions and characteristics that go with that sex.
  18. The Pastor’s home belongs to the church. This was the case many years ago but the parsonage idea is quickly vanishing across all denominationsParsonages were often bitter experiences because the family could go away for a day and when they return the walls and furniture could be completely changed– whether the pastor liked it or not!
  19. Pastors don’t need a vacation.
  20. Pastors should always be available. A good church should have a MINISTRY TEAM that is always available. If the pastor is on a date with his wife – leave him alone. This is why deacons were originally created.
  21. Pastors appreciate inside information (aka. GOSSIP).
  22. Pastors sleep in every morning. Sometimes a pastor needs to work 2nd and 3rd shift. I’ll never forget getting home at 2 or 3 a.m. from a youth group event and just as I was arriving home, my dad was leaving to go minister to someone in a hospital.
  23. The pastor’s wife enjoys all facets of the church ministry. My mom (a pastor’s wife) is an exception. But we shouldn’t assume that the pastor’s wife is Called to ministry – she is firstly Called to her husband. (If it makes you feel better, reverse the husband/wife thing to be politically correct). 
  24. If you hire the pastor, the pastor’s wife is part of the deal as well. I’ve heard of one church asking a potential pastor, “If we hire you, what will your wife do for us?”
  25. A pastor is Mr. Fixit. Pastors don’t know how to fix other individuals and all problems in the world. Don’t have an unrealistic expectations — pastors can give you Godly spiritual counsel.
  26. The pastor’s family appreciate hand-me-downs. Pastors families appreciate it just as much as any other family (its not bad, but its not exactly “Christmas” either).
  27. The pastor’s car is the church taxi. “Pastor, I need to get to a doctor’s appointment, can you drive me there?” This actually happens.
  28. Pastor’s don’t need study time or devotional time – they already know all spiritual truth.
  29. Pastors like to eat. Fellowship is important for a pastor – and food often comes with it… too much. 

I’m Not Dead.

I just wanted to let you all know that I’m not dead. I got really sick a few weeks ago, and that set me back enough that I’ve been playing catch up ever since. The weeks leading up to Easter are the busiest weeks of the entire year for most worship pastors, and I’m no exception. I’ve got lots and lots of things to blog about, but just no time to develop the thoughts into clearly written communication. I’ll be back on regularly in awhile, I’m just taking a blogging break I guess. Hang tight! I love you all!

My Gray Hairs Are Gone. Seriously.

My second year of college was the busiest year of my life. I was a full time university student studying music (which meant a lot of practice time). I led and directed a midweek evangelistic children’s program at my church. I worked a significant amount empowering the worship teams and choirs to serve more effectively. I took Bible college courses in the evenings. I had never been so stressed in all my life. I actually wrote out my schedule to help me organize my time and realized that I had a grand total of something like 4 hours PER WEEK of non-committed time. That means for every week, I had a grand total of 4 hours to hang with friends, watch T.V., take showers, or just whatever I wanted to do. I was about that busy all four years of college, but my second year was the worst. It nearly killed me.

During that crazy busy time, I grew 3 gray hairs. I knew exactly what they were from: stress.

Yesterday when I was getting ready in the bathroom, I realized that my gray hairs were gone. (Don’t even start with the, “You’re going bald” crap. I’m not going bald – the gray hairs are gone). It was quite cool – I mean do I have less stress? Maybe. But more than that, I think I’m handling the high levels of mental stress much better now that I’m doing a better job at living a LIFE of renewal.

Now of course I’m not equating no gray hairs with good spirituality. That’s not the point. I’m talking about what the gray hairs represented in my life. Good spirituality will eliminate the “gray hairs” (ignored stress). “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” That means if we’re spending time with God, eagerly anticipating Him, our strength will be RENEWED. We’ve heard that scripture in Isiah a million times, but seldom do we live like it.

When crazy busy times come our way, I think we go into a “focus” mode and we only do the things that MUST be done — which ignores our time with God. That thinking is killing Christians! When we have more work to do than ever before, we should pray twice as much! God will make up the difference, he never lies: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.”

Top Ten Favorite Musicians/Songwriters

I’m not really sure what brought this on, but I felt compelled to make a top ten list of my favorite musicians, music groups, or songwriters. When I critique music, I usually consider the style or public interest (in many ways, that’s the only thing that matters). But this list transcends all that and is based solely on WHAT I LIKE.

Israel Houghton and New Breed. His music is ultra creative. The rhythm is the tightest I’ve ever heard. The sound is sweet every time. I love this group. My ears became 10x more sensitive to details after I started listening to this group. Great stuff.

John Tesh. What I like most about John’s music is the sound that he creates in the groove.

Eric Whitacre. Eric is a young modern music composer. He walks a FINE LINE between harmony and dissonance. It’s incredible. I cried the first three times I listened to the CD.

Leeland. Leeland Mooring’s voice is incredible. Oh my word.

Elton John.

Audio Adrenaline. 

Bobby McFerrin. Best vocalist in the world.

Ross Parsley and New Life Church.

DC Talk. DC Talk successfully evolved through several eras of popular music with the aim of spreading Christ. Unlike Carman, they did an incredible job changing styles.

Phil Collins. I love Phil’s voice. Beats are pretty tight, too.

Spiritual Fervor – What Spiritual Fervor?

Never be lacking in zeal, but always keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. This is Romans 12:11.

I used to think that I had spiritual fervor, but in reality I had none. It’s not that I was attempting to fool anyone about my spiritual fervor: the only person I was fooling was MYSELF. I genuinely thought I had spiritual fervor.

The deal was that I wasn’t passionate for “the world” nor was I passionate for God. God would rather that I have no relationship with Him at all than for me to just be wishy washy like I was. Wishy washy makes God want to vomit, and it certainly won’t get me to heaven. I had the attitude that because I served God so much and since I’ve personally led hundreds through a sinner’s prayer, (and so on and so on), then I don’t need anything else — but I didn’t realize that I was wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I needed to CONTINUOUSLY RENEW my relationship with God — because when I’m truly plugged into The Power Source, I become rich, clothed, and my eyes become open. (Revelation 3:15-18, Adam Diehl Version).

Most of the people reading this right now probably fit into this category. You can’t talk about maintaining spiritual fervor because there is none to maintain . . . you think there is, but there’s not. Most of the people reading this right now just thought to themselves, “Oh, well that’s not me that’s someone else.” And that’s exactly what I’m talking about.

I plead with you – read Revelation 3:14-22. Then read it again, asking God to show you how and if you fit into the description of this Church.