Fasting…not for me, or is it?

I just read a friend’s blog this morning. She always seems to inspire me to be better, do better, think better, serve better…just be better. She’s a worship leader like me. She’s had some hard times in that profession like me. She’s been in a place where the only survival was upon God’s wings (as if that’s not always true…). She’s had bouts of deep depression like me. I guess I relate to her because of these things. Yet, I have never met her. I found her blog in a random search one day and have been reading it ever sense…

So…to the point…fasting. I’ve actually gone on a fast from food only once in my life. And, even then, I failed at it. Well, that’s what I thought. To me failing at fasting was not being able to go without food for a day. I made it most of the day, but just couldn’t do it. But I can also look back now and realize that I was fasting to prove I could fast…not for God’s intended purpose of fasting. That purpose is to deny yourself of something – fast from it – and fill that specific void with deeper and more focused prayer (most often on a current and specific major decision). In that sacrifice of what you want to seek God’s will, God will show you His desires for you – if it is in His will to do so (it’s not like a genie in a bottle – I do this, so He does that kind of way). So in my failure…it wasn’t because I couldn’t not eat for a day, it was that I had no reason to fast – I didn’t seek God for anything other than proof that I could make it.

So, this blog I spoke of above… I actually saw fasting in the title and said, “Great, here we go again. I don’t do fasting…” But in it I found words of encouragement. Words that challenged me to fast not from food, but from my own opinions, my own preferences, my own wants. How? How can I possibly push aside my wants, opinions, and preferences? Is it even possible? Well, if we look at the description of fasting above, in the sacrifice of those things, I’ve got to fill that void with prayer for God’s strength and revealing of His will – and then more strength to actually follow through with what He has revealed.

So, pray for me. I really need to seek His will…I’ve got too many plans for my life right now – so many that I’m so afraid of screwing it up it has me grid-locked in making some decisions. I need His will to be the only will I can see.

Make that your prayer too…”I need His will to be the only will I can see.”

May God bless you as you seek to serve Him.

Tuesday…some sense of normalcy

Sorry again for the distance of time between posts. No excuses…but busy-ness.

I guess none of you had any fantasic contraptions (except Adam) that you wanted to share. Either that or you’re cursing me under your breath for getting you addicted too. I actually just finished the last puzzle last night (Monday). Tough stuff. I may even pay 10 bucks for the “extended” version with more puzzles. Too bad it’s not on XBOX Live…then I’d be able to play it all the time!

Today was a little taxing. We have our church’s Fall Festival here tomorrow night (Wednesday). We always have some sort of creative way to share the Gospel with all who come. This year, we found a video that sort of compares the world’s obsession with death (via Halloween) with God’s obsession for life (via Jesus’ death – what an irony). It’s quite creative. It just had music in the background and text on the screen over various images. Knowing we’d have a lot of kids around, we decided to record our pastor reading the text. Then I took the recording, split it up into its various pieces, and inserted them at the right time so that his voice now sounds as the text is being displayed. Worked out pretty good.

However…something in the way I saved the video had an issue with my Vista based laptop. I know all you Vista haters are saying, “Serves you right for using Vista!” However, it was a codec problem…not Vista. I encoded the video via Windows Media Encoder (a free download) and converted it from the unworking avi file to a working wmv file. All is well now. It should work just fine for what we need tomorrow night.

The rest of today will be devoted to any last minute set-up needs as well as getting some guitar practicing done for a few student praise team songs coming up in a few weeks. Have a great day and check out yesterday’s post with the fantastic contraptions!

Pointless Post

A friend of mine, Adam, mentioned this crazy website in his Facebook status update. This is a great little game…but really has nothing to do with worship. Give it a shot.

You can click on save when you complete a mission. Copy the url of your contraptions and post them in a reply below. Let’s see how ingenious each of us can be. To create the direct link, start the html tag with
<a href=then cut and paste your link within quotes “blah blah blah” then >name of contraption</a>

Here’s the link to the game: http://fantasticcontraption.com/

My apologies

I have to say that I was proud of myself for being able to have several posts in a row last week. I felt like I had accomplished something by being more consistent with my posts. But, I do sincerely apologize to those of you who keep checking back here for any more posts. If excuses matter…here’s mine…

I went with my wife to my home in Moulton, AL. My sister had planned a baby shower for us. With our baby being due in December, we knew it would be a long shot for any other chances to go, so we just bit the bullet, took a day or so off, and made the 6 hour trek (which I understand will become much more difficult AB – After Baby). In the BB (before baby) it was a pretty easy trip. We got all sorts of great things for which I have little or no idea what to do with…I guess I’ll learn quickly.

My mom was able to follow us home. We’ve been putting together a crib, a dresser, a ceiling fan and painting the nursery. We’ve got stripes of all colors on the bottom half and circles and polka dots on the upper half. Should be quite stimulating to the baby as it begins to organize sights, sounds, and thoughts. It has been great having my mom here.

So, that being said, it’s been a week of craziness in schedule and very little time to do anything…much less write a post. So, here’s my exuse.

If you can draw any sort of devotional thought from this…remember that God intends for you to put your family before everything else but Him. Make time for them. When was the last time you called your mom? Have you taken your son or daughter out for some just you and them time? No church activities to keep your attention…just you and them? Have you taken your wife out on a date? (I suggest going to see Fireproof). Spend some extra time and instead of reading this post…use the time to tell someone in your family what they mean to you. God bless…see you next time.

Another Sunday for the Books…

I really don’t like to have this feeling of “I’m really glad this Sunday is over…” You know, worship leaders or music ministers really don’t have it all together like we try to portray on Sundays – and that’s a huge statement since most of us are recovering perfectionists. We’re sinners just like you. We have bad and good days just like you. We also have some days we just don’t want to go to work (our work just happens to be church work). We have successes and failures too.

I’m one of those worship leaders that doesn’t like the spotlight. I do what I do because I feel that’s what God has for me right now. That’s where he’s placed me (“Bloom where you are planted.”) And I’m not saying I hate my job…please don’t make that leap. I’m simply saying today is one of those days I’d like to forget (well most of it.)

Here’s the simple low-down…not much went RIGHT in this morning’s worship service. Now, grant it, I am looking at this from the recovering perfectionist point of view. Maybe most in the congregation didn’t even notice a single mistake (some were quite “blaring” though). I’m also not saying any of the other musicians did nothing right (the opposite is true). I’m saying what I did…my contribution…was filled with mistakes.

I’m usually fairly well prepared musically. So I have no excuses for how some of the things happened that happened today. Funny thing is, almost every mistake – well now that I think of it, EVERY mistake I can remember was my own…no one else to blame.

So why write this “depressing” blog entry? Good question. I guess it simply goes back to my post of Communicate the Positive, Not the Negative. I make a statement in there that we’ve got to talk to ourselves this way too. So…despite the multitude of mistakes I made during worship, here are some positives of the day…

1. I solved a mystery in the use of a Flipjack for communicating via cell phone to our mission team in Port Arthur, TX (simple exchange of normal 1/4″ jack for a TRS 1/4″ jack).
2. Our band did  great “last minute” job on our choir anthem (even recovering mid intro for my mistake in bringing in the soloist – they felt what I felt and repeated to the exact place I wanted – amazing)
3. I asked for two particular musical elements from our organist that I felt important to the musicality of the anthem. Though I rarely have to ask for those little things (he does them naturally), this time, what I asked for…he did with great musicality and it worked very well.
4. Student Praise Team – a brand new ministry for youth in music (no youth music programs for about 5 years prior to my coming here) – our rehearsal was fun and we got some great work done.
5. With our youth pastor on the mission trip, he asked me to lead the youth bible study. I simply ran out of time this week working on other projects. Knowing my lack of time for any preparation, I made a plan to let the kids put into action his recent teachings on getting out of the spectator comfortableness and stepping onto the field to “get in the game” of living out your faith with action. I taught a short reminder from 1 John and all the passages on loving others as Christ loved us – loving not with words or tongue, but with action and in truth (3:18?). We then took them over to work with the Awana ministry for kids. It was a great idea…only from God. It worked very well and was a great success – not just for our youth, but it helped get some adult Awana leaders involved in different ways. It was good.

What positive things do you need to say to yourself? What negatives do you need to forget? Funny thing, as I was writing and remembering the positives, the negatives don’t seem so bad anymore.

It’s Friday

Fridays are, for me, catch up days. I spend most Monday’s studying and preparing for Handel’s Messiah rehearsal (I conduct a 40-45 voice community chorus). Tuesday’s are for staff meetings and hospital visits if necessary. Wednesdays are spent in worship service planning and preparation (moving stuff, rehearsing my guitar licks, learning new songs, etc.) But Fridays…ahhhhh. Fridays are fun because they’re so random.

A few weeks ago, my Fridays were quite absent of anything major. But the past few weeks…not so. My Fridays have been packed full of little projects that must be done, and done a.s.a.p. of course. For example, today, I’ve got about 3 website banners to create and another one to modify for copyright compliance. Not only is there the creation of them, but then the time it takes to get them posted to the church’s web site…which rarely is a “first-times-a-charm” kind of task. We’ve also got budget meetings coming up and I’ve promised myself to finish the music and worship ministry budgets by the end of today. Beyond that, I need to figure out how to get our pastor’s sermons streaming on our church’s web site (just putting the mp3s there amount to a severe lack in audio quality). There is also a student praise team song that has some severe electric licks that I haven’t even begun to figure out. And, as success sometimes dictates, our student praise team’s overwhelming quality in this past Sunday’s service means I’ve got to find more music for them so they can be involved in more of the service next time they’re scheduled to sing (Nov. 2 – which is also the day I’ve got to have that guitar lick learned). Music ministry never really slows down around here. But I like it that – way most of the time.

How’s your job? What do your days look like? Let us know more about you.

What a genious…

I knew this…even before music school brainwashed me…but Bach was just simply a musical genious. I’m listening to his Mass in B Minor right now. I think his music is some of the purest worship ever conceived. I guess that’s why he signed every piece with “Soli Deo Gloria” – to God alone be the glory. Here’s a recording of the chorus: