9.14.14 Worship Rewind

Worship Rewind 2013

  • Here For You – Matt Redman
  • Whom Shall I Fear – Chris Tomlin
  • Because Of Who You Are – Martha Munizzi

Amazing day at GraceLife today. We had a panel discussion with Pastor Carlo, Tim Catchim, and Tony Stefko about “Life on Mission.” I soaked in every word and took lots of notes.

  • Tim Catchim functions as a multi-vocational entrepreneur. He has started several business, to include a curbside recycling business, a Go Green Initiative, as well as Generate: A Coaching and Consultancy practice for church planters and start up businesses. He has also been instrumental in the start up phases of several non-profits.
  • Tony Stefko is the lead pastor at Quad 4 Church, a missional community in Clarksville Tn.

Singing wise, we had an awesome moment of worshiping God in music. I was blown away at the response through music. The place sounded amazing listening to a crowd of worshipers singing loud. Mostly, what touched me most was during the song Whom Shall I Fear. I looked over and saw my buddy’s very young daughter singing with her eyes closed and I had to back away from the mic and began to cry (just a little). It was such an innocent expression from a young girl sing to her God that she has no one to fear. what a moment.

It had been a while since we sang Because Of Who You Are and thought today was a great day to dust it off and sing it again. we could have stayed in the moment but I knew we had a lot to discuss and I didn’t feel we needed to extend worship. But it was really a great moment of worship this morning. I believe God spoke from the music and the message from what I heard from folks after we dismissed.

I love my church but I can’t wait to get back to my hometown and begin the work of building a missional community in Lewisburg, GraceLife Lewisburg.

Maybe He Can

“Maybe Jesus can gather them all up and put them back together.”

This is what my four-year old said as we were driving away from our family reunion Saturday upon seeing all the leaves falling off the trees due to the storm coming through.

We all go through “storms” in our life and it feels like all the pieces are falling apart due to the torrential winds that accompany the storm. Winds of doubt, shame, fear, anger, pride, hurt, disease, pain, struggles or stress begin to pick up and it feels like life really isn’t worth living so let the winds just tear it all down and when the storms pass, we will just try to rebuild.

Loss of hope discourages us from even fighting. What’s the point. It will all crumble anyway. It won’t be like it was. It will never be the same. Trust has been broken. Faith has been stolen. There’s no chance of reconciliation.

But I don’t believe it has to be that way. God is a God of redemption. He redeemed the fall of Adam and Eve. He redeemed Abram after the terrible choice to sleep with Hagar. He redeemed the man of Moses after murder and escape. He redeemed Jacob, Hosea, Peter and Paul. He took moments that felt like a complete disaster and made them a talking point of redemption that would bring Him glory.

Maybe (no, more than likely) what you’re going through can be redeemed if God can have anything to do with it. Because in Him is hope, faith, redemption and newness of life. You’re not a total loss. We are not a total loss.

With all these pieces laying on the ground after a marital fight, divorce, loss of a job, homelessness, addiction, sexual confusion, car accident, cancer, disease, or mental issues such as depression, anxiety,  PTSD and so much more, there is a name greater than the name of your fear. That name is Jesus.

Can He pick them up and put them back together. Maybe He can. I’m sure He can.

9.7.14 Worship Rewind

Worship Rewind 2013

  • Today Is The Day – Lincoln Brewster
  • Mission’s Flame – Matt Redman
  • No Turning Back – Chris Tomlin

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve been at church due to ministry responsibilities and a family vacation so it was good to be back at GraceLife to see everyone and lead worship.

Back at the start of summer, we took a lot of the band off the stage due to a) doing something different and b) we meet in a gym so we wanted to see the dynamic differences in volume. Today, we brought the drums back but scaled them down significantly. We only had a snare, kick and high hats and it proved to sound great and enough not to wash out the lyrics.

Someone asked me the other day how our church was doing. I mentioned that GraceLife is growing. Growing not just numerically but spiritually which is more important. I can see that as we sing. Folks are engaging more and more and I believe when people begin to realize that worship is a way of life and the singing is a form of prayer in song then we begin to tangibly see lives being changed because the fruit of change is an outward expression of what God is doing on the inside. This was evident today as we sang. That blesses me.

Pastor Carlo shared with us a new vision for the church really stressing life on mission. Instead of being a consumer at church we should be contributors and live a life on mission to reach people in our rhythms of life with the gospel of Christ. Next week, we get to have a panel discussion of what that looks like and in a couple of weeks, I get to share our vision of what GraceLife Lewisburg will look like. It’s going to be a great month.

Quit Trying To Be Normal

Excerpt taken from a blog post called “Missional Communities And Worship Services” by Alex Absalom

Worship Services Are Built By Missional Communities

One of our missional community leaders had this recent experience:

We had a Laundry of Love event at a laundromat in our community. Our families we went there to pass out quarters and snacks for those who were stuck in the building doing their laundry. It was snowing that day, which created an easy opening to conversation!

One of our group began talking with a guy about the weather, and how he wished it would warm up. In response, the guy said the cold was better for his wife because she had a bad breathing condition, which meant that in summer it was hard for her to be comfortable because there was no air conditioning in their home.

It just happened that this group member had a spare air-conditioning unit sitting in his garage, so he said he would give it to the guy in the laundromat. Phone numbers were exchanged, and a time scheduled to drop off and install the air conditioner. On that morning, more conversations took place, including a great dialogue about just why this unit was being given away so generously. The recipient couple kept saying how giving away an air conditioner was “just not normal”!

Out of that came a very natural opening to invite the couple to the missional community, but they expressed more interest in the weekend worship services. The member of the group was very happy to share not only the information, but also to arrange to meet them there to help settle them into the service. The couple who received the air-conditioning unit loved what they experienced, and have quickly become faithful attenders in our public worship services.


Don’t Hide Me Behind the Cross

Since giving my life to Christ in 1997, I have heard a phrase mentioned over and over in prayer so much that it became standard vernacular when praying before preaching, playing music, or giving a testimony.

“Lord, hide me behind the cross so that they my see you and not me.”

I get the sentiment. We don’t want the focus to be on us. We want the focus to be on Christ. We want Jesus to be seen in the story and not the storyteller.

But I think we misrepresent the gospel. Without a messed up story, there is not good news. With out a flawed story teller, there is no redemptive quality. Without the sin, there is no need for grace. Without the sinner, there is no need for a savior. Are you getting my point?

I’m a jacked up fellow. I’ve dealt with pornography addiction, lying, stealing, judging, cheating, gossiping, anger… I mean you name it and I’ve probably thought it or done it. My heart is a dark place sometimes. However, there are folks who need to hear my story, not just the redemptive story. They need that too but they need to know in the redemptive process there is a hardcore, that’s-messed-up story.

My story and I do not need to be hidden behind a cross. Folks need to know they aren’t the only one who deal with junk and when they hear about the messed up side, they can find hope in the redemptive story.

I don’t think we need to pray for us to be hidden behind the cross. I think we need to pray for God to use the cross in our story of darkness. I think we need to pray that God uses our junk to make his cross even greater because of what it can do among the darkness. I think we need to pray that God let’s our mess be shown so that the cross can be celebrated even more. The redeemed needs to be highlighted among the redeemer. Not as an equal but as a contributor to the overarching narrative of the cross.

It’s not about celebrating our junk. God forbid! It’s about celebrating the cross without forgetting why the cross was needed in the first place. It would do Christians good to remember what life was like before Christ in their lives. When we tell our story, we lay open the dark recesses of our hearts to show how the cross is beginning to heal those spots.

David is a prime example of not hiding behind the cross. He aired his junk out in the psalms yet spoke of the redemptive qualities of God and His word. Psalm 32 and 51 are a prime example of David giving us a glimpse into his self-centered life and the goodness of God to overcome and restore him.

We can’t have a cross without death. We can’t have redemption without cost. Our story? It needs the darkness in order for light to be known. Let’s not be hidden behind the cross. Let’s be out front pointing to the cross.

A Divided Heart Creates a Compartmentalized Spiritual Life

Psalm 86:11

Teach me your way, Lord,
    that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
    that I may fear your name.

Years ago I sat in church and listened to my pastor give a message on compartmentalizing our life (See Pastor Rocky, I listened). He had a chest of drawers sitting on stage as a prop and showed us how we compartmentalize our life. One drawer was the “work” drawer. Another was the “Family” drawer. Again, another was “friends” drawer and a “church” drawer and lastly “hobbies” drawer. In each drawer there were compartments as well.

What he was implying was that in every area of our life, we determine who we are and how we will act making us different when we’re in different places among different people. We don’t act the same when we’re with our friends as we do when we’re in the house with our family. We don’t behave the same when we are at work as we would when we are at church. We create compartments in our life and each compartment experiences a different us.

Maybe I remembered this message so well because I recognized the compartments in my life at the time. How I was on stage was not how I was in the home, how I was at the rodeo was not how I was in church, how I was at work was not how I was around my small group.

But God never created us to have a divided heart. In fact, just the opposite, I would say. He expects our lives to be centered around him and by doing so, his Spirit in us is an overflowing into all the other compartments in our life.  Notice how the psalmist writes it. “…give me an undivided heart that I may fear your name.” We Christians tend to have a healthy fear of God on Sundays but what about Monday morning when we’re cussing the sun or the Saturday night when we’re “living it up.” Hardly is there every a fear of God in those compartments of life. I would dare say because either God is not part of those moments or we’re not sensitive to His spirit in those moments.

Proverbs 9:10 says “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” I would imagine God desires for us to have a fear, a reverent fear, not a fleeing type of fear, a fear that knows our place in creation. When we begin to fear the LORD then our compartments will become God-centered and our hearts will be undivided. We will be the same person regardless of where our feet take us because we are living a God-centered life in every aspect.

I challenge you to pray for discernment and ask God to show you where your heart is divided. When He shows you, begin letting the Spirit overflow into every compartment of your life.

8.17.14 Worship Rewind

Worship Rewind 2013

  • Our God – Chris Tomlin
  • That’s Why We Praise Him – Tommy Walker
  • Came To My Rescue – Hillsong
  • You Never Let Go – Matt Redman

Thursday, my wife and I went to our future home to get ready to sell off everything in her grandmother’s house to prepare for our move back home. We spent three days working very hard to get things ready and have the yard sale. We both are extremely tired physically and emotionally, physically for the obvious but emotionally because it’s very hard to watch your loved one’s things be sold to various people as they walk through the house like vultures in a field of dead animals. However, we’re not finished in Clarksville so we had to return to lead worship and she taught Children’s Church.

We started of with Our God. This song has a whole different dynamic when its just acoustic guitars. This song almost takes on a whole new sound and must be approached in such a way. Great song though. I love it because it has a very powerful message. 

That’s Why We Praise Him has been around for a while and we play it more upbeat than Tommy Walker plays it. This has become a staple in our church because of it’s truths and I think also because it’s a teaching song. It really announces the why of praise. 

Tony took over for the last two songs. Came To My Rescue sounded great. I am so proud of how Tony has grown vocally. When he started leading worship for us, he was very much into grunge music with vocals that had a lot of gravel. However, He’s come along in his singing ability and really beginning to find a voice in singing, not just “growling”. ;)

The last two songs had a crazy key shift so I prayed to allow Tony to transition from “C” to “A”.

Lastly we sang You Never Let Go. Absolutely great song. One that I believe speaks to our church in many ways. 

Last night, we arrived back home fairly late so I wasn’t thinking that Jayce had came back on board to sing back up. I forgot to prepare her lyric sheets so when I got to church, I realized I didn’t have any lyrics for her. So I gave her my lyrics sheets and used my iPad. That’s when I wished we had the Music Stand from Planning Center. I could then hook up blue tooth and turn pages with a pedal rather than having to flip pages while trying to play at the same time. 

It was good to have Jayce back. I’ve missed her vocals and she filled in very nicely. I got to sing some alternative vocals adding oohs and ahhs here and there. Very fun for me. 

It was a great day considering the monsoon we got before church. It was packed and I thought we were going to have a low turnout because of all the rain. Boy am I glad I was wrong. 



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