Thursday, July 29, 2010

What a Week!

"A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity." - Proverbs 17:17

To my many friends,

I don't even have words to begin to describe the week I've had... Talk about a roller coaster ride!!!! I celebrated my 30 year high school reunion last Saturday! What a night that was!!! Every time I heard a happy squeal, it was music to my ears, and I knew that the planning had paid off!

These are the folks who knew me when I looked like this:

There were even folks there from my elementary school days! They knew me when I looked like this:
That's me with the pigtails, front row, three from the far right.

These were the people who knew me when.... and love me anyway! HA! What a testimony that is to the kind of loving people we all grew up to be and to us as a class....I am proud to be a part of that group.

Then on Sunday morning, we HAD CHURCH at NBC! My buddy and singing partner, Edwin, sang "Midnight Cry" with our choir and orchestra. He knocked it out of the park!!! It was incredible!!! What a great song, and what a great God! That was followed by an AWESOME sermon by my pastor relative to watching for a Savior, not the signs, and being prepared for the return of Christ.

All of the celebrating came to a screeching halt as we came into a week filled with deep sorrow when we realized that a dear cousin was going to be departing this earth... She passed away on Tuesday evening following a staph infection. The doctors at Vandy still don't know what caused her death. So many of you have expressed your deepest sympathy and we appreciate your kind words. This is a difficult loss for all of us, particularly her younger sister (my cousin) and my mom. Please remember us in prayer in the days ahead.

It's at times like these that we realize that God gives us friends to lean on and to be "Jesus with skin on" to others... Thank you for your kind expressions and for your sweet friendships in both the good times and the bad... You guys are the best! :)

Much love,


Word of God Speak...

"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." - Hebrews 4:12

I absolutely love taking the time to type posts or to study God's word into the wee hours of the morning. It's a time of day when I know that there will be absolutely no distractions - no noise from a television, no phone calls, no incoming emails to distract me, and not a soul is on facebook at that hour! It's a great time for me to have conversations with God because I am the epitome of the night owl musician... Up late, and sleeping in.... (And I am ever so thankful for a job where I can do that.)

A couple of nights ago, I posted a comment on a board for a local newspaper. It seemed a particular local politician was in hot water with a religious group for doing a little research, forming an opinion on what he read and making that opinion public knowledge. I actually had applauded him for doing the research and for making a stand on the issue at hand based on what he had read.

It was really late, and I did need to head for bed, so I finished up, and began my normal bedtime routine... Before I crawled beneath the covers, I grabbed my Bible, as is my custom, and flipped it open. There on the pages in front of me was a passage where God was speaking, and it was as if He had just said those exact words to me as an affirmation of what I had just said on my post! I quickly told the Lord, "thanks for saying that!" and proceeded on to other things of our conversation that night.

Now, I am not an advocate of playing Bible Roulette for daily Bible Study (closing the eyes, opening up the Bible and circling the finger above the pages, then landing randomly on a passage.) That's just plain dangerous!

But I do, however, want to say that the Word of God is still powerful... It still speaks to hearts and minds today, and God does have a Word for us. The Bible is God's love letter to us! He has much to say to us from the pages of His Word....

You know, if the local politician had formed his opinion strictly on hearsay or public opinion, and not on actual researched facts, I probably wouldn't have given the guy the time of day after that. That's because public opinion is not time honored or a solid way of finding truth. Opinions come and go. Fads fade. But God's Word stands forever.

Sadly, I see a lot of folks in the world who will discount the Bible as just being an ancient book of yonder years that has absolutely no message or meaning to folks of today.... They will discount the scriptures, discount believers, even turn things inside out (calling love "hate" and "hate" love) and yet, when you ask them where they got their information, or whether they had actually read the Bible, they will say, "I don't read the Bible."

If you've never read the Bible, chances are you have one somewhere. Find yours. Blow the dust off the cover, crack it open and read it for goodness sake! Discover the wonderful ways that God still speaks to you and I... Take the time to read a short passage. See who the players are. Discover the principle that God has there, and then take the time to ask God what He is saying to you about that principle. How does this apply to you?

Betcha that the words will just jump right off the page, and scratch you where you are itching the most.

I am reminded of a song that came out a few years ago by Mercy Me...

"I'm finding myself at a loss for words

And the funny thing is it's okay

The last thing I need is to be heard

But to hear what You would say


Word of God speak

Would You pour down like rain

Washing my eyes to see

Your majesty

To be still and know

That You're in this place

Please let me stay and rest

In Your holiness

Word of God speak

I'm finding myself in the midst of You

Beyond the music, beyond the noise

All that I need is to be with You

And in the quiet hear Your voice

I'm finding myself at a loss for words

And the funny thing is it's okay" - Bart Millard, Peter Kipley

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Simple Message with a Simple Invitation

"But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." - John 1:12-13

During the first two weeks of June, I had the privilege of flying to Brazil with 24 other musicians from the US for a mission trip with Global Missions Project. We played about 17 concerts in a ten day period in Sao Paulo and Brasilia, all under the direction of my friend, Camp Kirkland.

At one of the churches in Brasilia, God reminded me of something that I think we often take for granted in the US. In the middle of our concert that night, Camp presented the gospel in a very simple, easy to understand way... When we finished the concert, the pastor of the church gave a really simple invitation, "Does anyone want to receive Jesus tonight as their Savior? Anyone????"

Ten people responded to the simple question. Ten individuals' lives were changed that night for all of eternity!
Such a simple presentation and a simple invitation... and the folks responded as if it were a Billy Graham crusade!

Sometimes I think we get so elaborate in our presentations that we miss the simplicity of the gospel: God sent His Son Jesus to save us from our sin. Jesus died a cruel death on a cross to rescue us and redeem us from the consequences of sin before a Holy God. He rose on the third day and someday He is coming again. And if we ask Him to become our Savior, He will!

Does anyone want to receive Jesus as their Savior??? Anyone???

It's a simple message and a simple invitation. If you don't know Him as Savior, then you can by simply trusting your life to Him and asking Him to take over. That's what the word, "Lord" means. If you already know Him, are you asking others, "Does anyone want to receive Jesus? Anyone???"

Come By Here

"And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden." - Genesis 3:8

A couple of days ago, I was sitting in an upstairs room that we call the baseball room of our house, at the computer. I was scrolling through so many facebook statuses, reading, while at the same time pondering some events that happened at our house last week, and it came to me...

I wonder if part of our problem is that we no longer sing Kum Ba Yah. The very translation of Kum Ba Yah is, "Come By Here." Since when did we become so sophisticated that it was no longer acceptable to ask or seek God's presence???

The truth is that we aren't the first to fail to seek God's presence... As you can tell from our scripture at the top of the page, Adam and Eve took the prize there. And we've failed to seek His presence since then.

I've even heard this from a pulpit (or two or three) from a "super cool" pastoral type when visiting churches in the past: "It's not like we're just going to stand around in a circle and sing Kum Ba Yah...." 

Uh. Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah... Nope. Sounds really cool like ... maybe it will even meet the approval of the Hollywood crowd... but I think I want to be in a church where God is present and we aren't too afraid to ask Him to be present, and we aren't ashamed of trying to please Him. (And, thankfully, I have experienced that at our home church!)

Seems to me that the first priority of our worship is to seek God... and to ask Him for His presence... And those above anything else. We should seek to be in His presence, and for Him to move among us. Never should we assume anything or that we deserve to stand in His presence. Only Jesus is worthy of that. But His Word does say that we can go boldly before the throne of grace.... And by doing so, we are worshiping the Father.

Romans 12:1-2 says, "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."  (ESV)

Could it be that our spiritual act of worship is turning to God in our daily tasks???  I believe that was exactly what Paul was saying! So.... What would our lives be like if we asked for God to show up at the routine times of our daily lives? What if we asked Him to "Come by here" when:

When we are hanging with friends...

Someone's laughing, Lord. Come by here.

At the beginning and ending of life... (and all of the days in between)
Someone's crying, Lord. Come by here.

When we need talk with Him...
Someone's praying, Lord. Come by here.

When we're driving down the road and singing with the radio at the top of our lungs...
Someone's singing, Lord. Come by here.

At life's joyous a wedding... the birth of a baby... graduations...
Someone's dancing, Lord. Come by here.

When you realize a loved one's journey will soon end....
Someone's dying, Lord. Come by here.

When your feelings are crushed.... or you are the object of gossip or some misunderstanding.
Someone's hurting, Lord. Come by here.

When you've messed up and need forgiveness....  Someone's sinned, Lord. Come by here.

When you are in need of a Savior...
Someone needs You, Lord. Come by here.

Oh, Lord. Come by here....