Back in Action

I said I’d be back blogging on Dec. 1st. My Dec. 1st is sizing up to be quite the hectic day, so I thought I had better write this article the night before…since i know so many out there are pining for more nonsense from me. I’d hate to disappoint ūüôā

My last few weeks have been quite extreme. The same day my wife and I have our last ultrasound before the baby is born – finding out also that we are slated to be induced almost 10 days prior to the due date (that means, at that point, a mere three weeks away – and today, less than two), anyway, that same day, we find out that through a series of unfortunate events, our pastor was asked to resign.¬†Even though this is my own personal blog, even with the disclaimer that my views and opinions are not necessarily the views and opinions of my church – I still feel it prudent, and healthy, to refrain from posting any comments on the subject (feel free to ask me in person or email, and I might share my thoughts – maybe not). The point we’re at now though cannot be changed…only where we go from here can be affected. My choice is to “Trust in the LORD with all¬†[my] ¬†heart¬†and lean not on¬†[my] own understanding;¬†in all¬†[my] ways acknowledge him, and he will make¬†[my] paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6. Our associational missionary, Dr. Steve Ferguson, spoke on this today…you can find a recording of that sermon here (to be posted later this week – check back often).

The main point that he tried to hammer home, I believe, is that no matter what decisions we may have made in the past, whether good or bad, do not make any further decisions based on those previous decisions…make your decisions based on God’s truth…the only truth that matters. We lean too much on our own understanding…base too many decisions on what we want…and decide too many things out of historical precedent. We must do what we do, decide what we decide, on God’s truth and His desires for us. In order to do so, we must trust in the Lord and acknowledge Him in all our ways.

Even as I write this, the implications of this decision – to lean not on my own understanding, but on God’s – are huge and more far-reaching that I can even comprehend. Re-reading this post reminds me of how, in the desire to raise my soon-to-be-here child, there is no way I can do it in my own understanding. There is no way I can decide anything about my job or my church in my own understanding. There is no way I can love my wife in my own understanding. There is no way I can influence those around me towards Christ in my own understanding…it is all done by trusting in the Lord, acknowledging Him in all my ways…and resting in His promise to make my paths straight. But…to trust Him fully and acknowledge Him…that means spending time with Him. SO pray for me in that…and I’ll do the same for you.

God bless you as you seek to serve Him and bring others into a relationship with Him.

Blogacation

For various reasons (time, family in town, church stuff, etc), like my friend Adam, I’m going to take a vacation from blogging (like I’ve really been consistent anyways). I will be back on Dec. 1 to give you an update on Messiah rehearsals as we near the Dec. 7 performance. Have a great Thanskgiving holidays and be sure to check out Adam’s blog for a great and uplifting Thanksgiving video.

Handel’s Messiah

The community chorus I conduct is working on Handel’s Messiah. We might scrap it and do the following instead (just joking).

Life is funny…if you step back and look at the big picture…

I’ll be honest with you and let you know that the past few weeks have been really tough. I’ve had less time to post and quite honestly, that’s probably for the better as I’m not sure I could have been too positive (thinking of my Positive vs. Negative post).

So…”life is funny?” Where does that come from? Well, I’ve spoken to more past friends in the past few weeks as I have in the past few years. Seeing each of them in their own trials and difficulties, praying for them, and seeking to be an encouragement to them…it has been taxing. And, it’s not just about them…I’ve had my own share of trials and difficulties.

Some, of course, I cannot discuss as this is a public venue. But some I can discuss…as many of you know, my wife and I are expecting our first baby in December. We’ve just recently began our “baby” classes at the hospital. It’s not really Lamaze, though some of those elements of breathing and relaxation are present. It’s more of “here’s what you can expect during labor and transition and here’s what you can expect from the hospital staff and here’s what you might expect when you take the baby home.” Let’s just say “eye-opening” doesn’t even cover it.

If you add on top of that my recent application to the University of Georgia’s Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) in Conducting…that’s a whole other animal. Part of the process is taking the GRE…that’s like the SAT on steroids. Studying for it apparently is supposed to make you feel stupid…because it did. My vocabulary stinks…so a 440 was my score. I haven’t had any sort of math since 10th grade…thus a 520 on that. So, I’m not even sure if that’s good enough to get into the UGA program…but we’ll see, hopefully sooner than later.

Those are just two of the things I can tell you about. Add one other major thing and you can see how trial and difficulty has seeped in.

But God is good and He is in control. Those two truths have helped me through more trial and difficulty than anything…ever. If you take those two truths to heart, really rest on them and meditate on them…nothing is out of His hands…which means everything is in His hands…and if He is good, then all things will somehow come together to be ultimately good. No matter the trials or difficulties, because God is good and in control, the outcome will be good. So what do you think about that?

What can you do to “go into all the world”…?

Well, I’m priveleged to be a part of something on a minimal level…something to which I am quite proud. A blogging friend of mine – whom I have referenced many, many times in previous posts – has begun a new ministry.

This ministry… is for worshipers, worship leaders, and musicians in particular (not that others cannot help too, of course). The problem…churches in other parts of the world can barely afford the buildings in which they meet. They barely can afford any compensation for their pastor. So…can they afford any instruments for worship? Most likely…and most often, then answer is¬†easily “No”. ¬†

The solution…a new ministry opportunity where churches, worship leaders, musicians, and individuals can help meet the need by donating instruments. Guitars, drums, auxillary percussion, even pianos and keyboards…

I big salute to Jan Owen for this passion and the beginning of this ministry. Go to http://aworshipfulheart.typepad.com/giveworship/ for more info.

Side note…my contribution? The Give Worship logo was my creation and I¬†hope that it in some way can help further the movement. Even if you cannot donate instruments or finances, please pray that this ministry can provide opportunityfor other worshipers around the world to have the same opportunites we have in the US.

God bless you as you seek to serve Him.

God’s plan is still His plan

Honestly…I voted for McCain/Palin. That they didn’t win the election is disappointing…

Some are frantic, or depressed, or even scared to leave their houses because Obama/Biden won. Is it the end of the world as we know it? Depends on how you know it.

I know it as a world where God is good and He is in control. Nothing surprises Him. Nothing catches Him off guard. Nothing sneaks up on Him. He uses the good and the bad in our lives to “work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.”

God is no less good than He was yesterday. God is no less in control than He was yesterday. In this Obama/Biden world we are going to enter in 77 days…He will still be God, be in control, and be working all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.

If you place your faith in a politician…your hope in the above truths will be shaken…or even taken.

Put you hope in God. Period.

What a night.

I’ve always held Handel’s Messiah up to be a great piece of musical literature. Since the first time I heard the Hallelujah Chorus, to the performance in Seminary with the Oratorio Chorus and the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, to last night…

The town I live in is small but full of talent…all sorts of talent. Athletic, industrial, financial, musical…all sorts of talent. No one from the “inside” (those that grew up here and still live here) really sees it for what it is. But over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed it more and more. Before I came to this town, they had a small community choir that sang on a couple of occasions. The director of that group moved away and it pretty much fizzled out. When I came to town, that was one thing I desired to begin.

So, with the help of several “locals” we started the Elberton Community Chorus a few years ago. Our first program was centered around John Rutter’s Gloria. We also did several other Christmas pieces like The Little Drummer Boy, Still, Still, Still, and portions of the Christmas part of Handel’s Messiah (about 5 of the choruses). It was a great concert. Our second adventure was a salute to the Music of Disney – all your favorites. The next program we did was a tribute to the Music of Broadway…singing tunes from the all time top twenty musicals like Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, and Beauty and the Beast.¬†

This “season” – we’ve chosen to do Handel’s Messiah – in its entirety. We do leave out a large portion of the second part as that is fairly common practice in most public performances. Plus, even leaving out those selections, we’ve still got about 2 hours worth of music. We have hired instrumentalists from the Augusta Symphony Orchestra – some pulling double duty with the Athens Symphony. We’ve also hired vocal soloists from the Anderson, SC¬†Area – most¬†are music professors at Anderson University – that will sing the recitatives and arias. Our community chorus has about 15 choruses to learn…and our rehearsal schedule only allowed us 17 Monday rehearsals to get those ready. 8 of those rehearsals were an hour and a half in time. The rest are two hours in length.

So why this particular post topic? Last night was one of those rehearsals. We’ve gotten to the point now that we just need to do run-throughs and fix those small little problems that arise. We also use the time to remind the singers of all the little nuances that make the music good – dynamics, phrasing, diction, etc. We’ve learned almost everything…remembering the massive amount of information is another story.

But last night, many things fell together. And though it wasn’t perfect, and never will be, we had a great rehearsal last night. I’m grateful to be surrounded with this talent. I’m grateful for the opportunity to conduct this great piece of literature. I’m grateful.