God's Grace, and a Gentle Reminder

I love Timehop.  Each day, it mines your social network to see what you were posting/sharing/doing online on the exact date, 1, 2...10 years ago.  (was anyone on social media 10 years ago?)

Sometimes, it's whimsical stuff, like on special days - most recently Reagan's birthday.  And, other times, it's hard stuff.  This week, my Timehop has been filled with stark reminders of what I was going through 6 years ago.  In short, I was 34, married with kids, working hard each and everyday, and dealing with medical problems with both my Mom and Dad.  Life was hard back then.  

2 days ago my Timehop reminded me of that time in which I had to get an ambulance to take my Dad to the hospital.  He had to go to the VA because all of his healthcare was covered.  I remember as they unloaded him, and got him to a room in the ER, he became unresponsive.  I was going crazy.  His heart rate was like, 215 bpm!!  Doctors swarmed in the room and I stepped out, uttering my prayers to God by my painful groans.  I had no words, I thought I was losing him.  

And what made it so hard was the fact that my Mom was in another hospital, across town, getting her pacemaker worked on.  I was by myself, needing to be in 2 places at once.  I felt like I was being torn in 2.  

Eventually, my Dad recovered from this near death scare, and my Mom's procedure was fine.  Life settled down for the time being.  

But what Timehop does, is reminds us of what we have gone through.  See, I tend to forget hard things that I go through.  It's part of God's grace in my life.  If I was always aware of all the crap I've walked through, I'd be too afraid to live my life.  I believe that's true of each of us.  

But we don't shrink back in fear.  We face each day, committing to give the day, the best of us.  We are trying to instill this attitude in life, into our children.  In fact, in their craft space upstairs we have this gentle reminder that my wife framed and put up there.  I can't tell you how many times we've reminded our children about our mantra.  "We can do hard things".  

But it's not just beneficial for them.  I can't tell you how many times we've reminded ourselves about our mantra.  "We can do hard things."  

With God, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.  Mark 10:37

Spotify Worked for Ryan Adams

Last week, I received an email from Spotify saying that Ryan Adams new record "Ashes and Fire" was now available to stream.  It sat in my inbox waiting for the right time.  You can't just put on a Ryan Adams album any time of day.  It has to be the right time.  For me, coffee must be present, and a general feeling of melancholy doesn't hurt either.  Monday morning most weeks fits these two requirements, so today was the day.

I have loved Ryan Adams since the days of Demolition.  His songwriting captured me in a way that few songwriters have.  Simple, honest lyrics, with a bent towards self-pity.  I love it.

This album was a fixture in my musical diet in 2002.  Then, I went back and bought Gold, and have almost every one of his albums since then.  He is constantly writing.  And he never really repeats himself.  He is committed to this craft of making good music, and I love that about him.

So back to Spotify.  I made it through track 5, and went directly to iTunes and bought the whole album.  It's good to support good music.

What's your favorite album as of late?


How many of you Worship Pastors/Leaders out there, are beginning to feel the squeeze?  How many have this increasing level of anxiety that shows up, all so subtly, and takes hold of your blood pressure, sanity, peace, heart-rate, and more...till December 26th?

This is my calendar for this week.  Notice Tuesday and Wednesday.  More and More, the weeks are starting to look like this for me.  Yesterday was our yearly, Christmas Events planning meeting.  And, as helpful our staff has been about not loading me up with the bulk of the burden (which has been the case in years past) I am still feeling a bit of pressure.  And, it's only October.

As a Church with a Preschool in it, every year they have a big Christmas Event in our Worship Space.  Which means, = clearing the stage//running tech support, etc...

Then, our Children's Ministry has a big production.  = Clearing the stage//tech support, etc...

And, a Community Christmas Tree Lighting, Christmas Cafe (which we are attempting to pull off Behold The Lamb of God, and which we have already been working for 2 months on) and Christmas Eve Candlelight Service.  On top of our Advent Conspiracy series benefitting Hope Unlimited.

How am I going to get this all done, and not come out of Christmas, completely spent?  Anyone else feeling the squeeze?  I think I am better prepared heading into the madness, than in years past, but I can feel the tension.  It's palpable.




Really been trying to stretch my mind around the phenomenon of folks giving their music away.  Noisetrade-Free mp3 downloads.  I mean, your music...it's so personal, so intricate, so raw...will me giving away my music, cheapen it to some who might have otherwise not bought it?  Will this be viewed as a stupid decision by others, only driven by our need for publicity?  Or...will be a genius move? I am leaning towards the latter, for I understand the value of the true fan.

I am a true fan.

That is, I'm a fan of Graham Colton and Green River Ordinance, who have chosen to give their music away.  I downloaded their tunes, and primarily that is all I have been listening to as of late.  So much so, that I am now the proud owner of almost all their stuff (and I bought the rest of it).  I am a true fan of theirs.  I will go to their shows and I will RT them.  That's worth much more than $6 (the average proceeds from a $9.99 album on iTunes) to them, I am sure.  For me, I'd pay $6 for a rabid fan.  The least I can do is give the music away and hope that it strikes a chord for someone who can identify with our songs.  Perhaps that person will become a friend/fan/promoter/loyal listener.  That is why we make the music, right?  It's about people right?  So we can connect with people.  Here, have our album, and I hope you can connect with this.  It's why we do what we do.

It's our language, our M.O., our hearts cry.  Connection.  Love.  Music.  Enjoy, and feel free to share this with anyone, and everyone.  After all, it's free!

Whole 9

So, about a month ago Vanessa and I found out that some friends of our were doing some crazy cleanse to kick off Marathon training season.  This cleanse was totally healthy, with no supplements or medication of any kind.  More of a body SHOCK, to get us off of our Carb/Sugar addiction.  I was sold immediately, as more and more frequently I have been feeling just kind of blah, after a carb heavy meal.  Yet we return time and again.  There is a reason it's called "Comfort Food".  Anyways, Vanessa felt the same, and both of us have seen this addiction in our children too. So, we had a month and a half to prepare mentally, and yesterday was launch day.

The basic tenants are:

No processed food.

No alcohol. Period.

No legumes. (beans, things that grow in the ground)

No dairy.

No white potatoes.

No grains of any kind.

No added sugar.

Here is the website for this plan.  It's for-real hardcore.  I am stoked about this "change your life" type of eating.  It's time to get food to work for me, not against me.

Anyways, yesterday looked like this:

Breakfast was Sundried Tomatoes and Onion Egg Fritata, and strawberries.

Lunch was chicken salad (canned chicken, avocado, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper strips, garlic salt, and pepper) wrapped in lettuce leaves. Delicious!

Then, dinner was browned Pork Chops, steamed broccoli, mashed cauliflower (that we told the kids were potatoes).  So funny, the whole time Bailey was like "this tastes like squash".  No response from Vanessa and I.

The tough thing, is that organic things are preferred.  Well, you and I both know that organic is code for crazy expensive.  In fact Vanessa bought organic Bell Peppers, 4 of them = $9.  Thus the end of our buying organic experiment!  But, they were some darn good looking peppers!


Deep In The Jungle

Took this hike into the jungle on an island on the northern tip of Sumatra.  Guns N Roses played in my head (Welcome to the Jungle) as we crossed the river rock headed for the waterfall.  Then, we came upon it, sheer splendor.  After a refreshing dip in the pond at the base of the waterfall, what else would we do other than climb the thing?  So, that we did:

Christian Orphan Policy

This is a guest post of a friend of mine named Ken Gross.  Ken has a heart for worship, and for responding to God's call on his life.  In this post, Ken shares and interesting bit of logic tied to taking care of Orphans (i.e....James 1:27). Thank you for sharing Ken!

Christian Orphan Policy

I was reading a book recently and I ran across a term called replacement birth rate.  This is the rate of live births a nation has to have to replace its population.  The number for the modern world is about 2.1, meaning that we need to have an average of 2.1 babies born per child bearing woman to keep a population where it currently is.  The US is about on target, but Europe runs at close to 1.5, meaning their population is doomed to decline unless they change it or have significant immigration from somewhere.

Obviously there are many implications to these kinds of demographics, and I started wondering how this applies to the Christian community.  What is our replacement rate, and even if we replace, are we “training up a child in the way he should go” (Pr 22:6), meaning will he or she end up as a Christ follower?  Even if we have the average replacement rate and all our children accept Christ, aren’t we just holding our own?  I know that this ignores any fruitful evangelism we might succeed in here in the US, but are we successful at that?  Based on the decline in church attendance here in the US, we are not succeeding at either moving our children toward Christ or helping our neighbors, “see the light”.

Now, let’s take a little leap here.  Consider this verse from James:

James 1:27 - Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.  NASU

It appears that God the Father is particularly sensitive about widows and orphans, which means we ought to be too!  I will leave the consideration of widows for another time, and focus on orphans; children without parents.

In looking at the need to improve our “Christian replacement rate”, there is one way the great commission (Mt 28:18-20), and the desire to obey God in taking care of orphans, can be tied together.  If Christian families adopted more orphans, there would be fewer left in the world, this would please God.  If we were somewhat successful at pointing these adopted children toward Christ, we would increase the size of the Christian community in the US.  This is a win-win situation in the context of scriptural obedience.

The only loser would be our pocketbooks, and this is where it gets interesting.  If Christian families that cannot or are not willing to adopt orphans would financially contribute, it would go a long way to helping the families that would be able to adopt.  If we adopted a simple personal “Christian Orphan Policy” at the family or individual level we could see some interesting results.

Each adopting family would have a policy of adoption and financially contributing whatever their resources would allow.  Each non-adopting unit (Family or individual) could have a policy of contributing a small sum of money over and above their monthly tithe, they would have to pray about this and eventually figure out what small sum was appropriate.  In this article I am going to use $10 per month.

Another consideration I would make is to restrict such giving to local situations, for example at individual churches or having a loose partnership of like minded churches within a community.  This would avoid the inevitable financial and operational drag that comes with excessive oversight and distant decision makers.  Mostly it would make the giving up close and personal.

Let’s take a medium size church of say 500 hundred giving units, it might be 400 families and 100 teens and singles, but it could be any combination.  500 giving units at $10 per month is $60,000 per year.  When we add in gifts and grants that are frequently available from other sources, we end up with a significant sum of money.  That would go a long way to helping the adopting families within that church.  This small gift system could facilitate adopting as many as 5 children a year from overseas or more than 10 a year locally.

A small sacrifice for each of us, but very effective in its outcome.  Just something to think about.



The Day after Father's Day

This year's Father's Day was understandably different for me.  My Dad passed away just 3 weeks ago.  His life (and his passing) is still very fresh in my mind.

I had several people text me, and post on my FB wall that they were praying for me, and that they understood that this would be a tough Father's Day.  I really appreciated the thoughts and prayers.  I really needed just that.  I really felt like I was going to do ok, but then during a church service yesterday, (and I was on stage at this exact moment) my Pastor said "perhaps this is your first Father's Day without your Father" as he was greeting the congregation, and I almost lost it.  That was me.  Trying to hold it together.

Then for the next few songs, there were moments of struggle.  Had to drop off the mic cause I was getting choked up.  I miss my Dad.



The last 3 weeks have been very hard.  My wife has been in Mozambique, Africa for a planned mission trip.  She left the day after we buried my Dad.  I am glad she went because of the work that they did, and how much she enjoyed it.  I wouldn't have changed it for the world.  

It was just a little tougher without her here.  She is such a wonderful support for me when I need it, and not having that support was hard.  In addition, it's taken all that I have to help take care of my Mom, continue to work, find childcare for the kids, sell and ship all my Dad's medical equipment, and lead a Monday night group.

I am glad she's back.

So...I am picking up the blog about my Dad, and who he was, and the life he led.   Stay tuned...

My Dad

Many of you have head that news that my Father, Ben Cordes, passed away early Sunday morning.  After a 3 year battle with ALS, he went home to be with Jesus.  We are so thankful for the many friends and family that showed up this week to show support and love to the family.  We were blown away with the support from The Fellowship at Cinco Ranch.  From Food, to just hanging out and letting us talk about Dad, you guys were amazing.  Thank you.  The thing I most took away from this week, was that my Dad was special to so many people.  He lived his life to the fullest, and at the end of it, made a decision to follow Christ.  For that, I am SO thankful.  I would NOT be celebrating his life like I am today if he hadn't.  My grieving: OUR grieving would look so much different...be so much harder.  We WILL see him again!

For now, this picture sums up perfectly, who my Dad was, and how he choose to live his life.  I am going to be doing a series telling different stories of my Father's life.  I hope you will subscribe to this blog to read the stories, and get to know this man like we knew him.

Also, as soon as I left the hospital, I began to think, "how can I use my gifts to honor my Father?".  Immediately, I began making plans to put together a video with pictures of his life, and music that I heard over and over again as a kid; playing from his 8 track player in his truck.

My Dad loved music, and passed that love onto me.  So grateful for that.  He understood how music could move you, bring back a memory, describe to joy of a season.  He felt it.

Never have I been to a memorial in a church that had such a personal feel.  We wanted to make it, SO Ben Cordes.  For the Pre-Service House Music, here was the playlist.

1.  Up Around The Bend, CCR.

2.  The Heart of The Matter, Don Henley

3.  Hold My Hand, Hootie and the Blowfish

4.  Late For The Sky, Jackson Browne

5.  With A Little Help From My Friends, Joe Cocker

6.  Running On Empty, Jackson Browne

7.  Take The Highway, Marshall Tucker Band

8.  A Whiter Shade of Pale, Procol Harum

Without further adieu.  The video tribute, to Ben Cordes.




Worship Recap 5-22

Sunday started out with a bang.  I knew when I woke up that we still had songs to put into ProPresenter ("My Father's World" and "Beautiful Savior").  2 new songs for 1 service.  Generally, I wouldn't do more than 1.  I find that there is definitely a threshold that each church has to how many new songs you can introduce.  I know because in my first year here, I did 30.  That was a little much, but they were barely doing Hillsong, and hadn't even heard of United's "United We Stand".   So...for yesterday, 2 new one's.  But, most people probably have heard "My Father's World" before, just not the way I have it arranged.  At least, that was my justification.

That, and One Sonic Society's "Beautiful Savior" was just too good to pass up.

So, I woke up and went straight to the Keurig.  After 1 cup, and a quick shower, I hustled up to church.  1st thing every Sunday is making an air pot of coffee for our team.  I like to think of myself as a servant to our volunteers.  Love on them.  Serve them, and keep doing it over and over again.  They are giving their time.  The least I can do is give them coffee.  The least.

Then, I sat down and opened up the Word.  The Psalms are a wonderful place for early Sunday morning.  Yesterday, Psalm 50, 53, 60 and 75.  Part of my read through the Bible yearly plan.  And yes...I'm a few weeks behind.  Don't judge me.

After reading, hopped on the iMac and started putting in the lyrics.  At 7am, the volunteers start rolling in.  Time to get busy.

After a great rehearsal, we took a short break before coming back and doing a technical rehearsal.  The tech rehearsal is critical.  Things have gone so much smoother since implementing this practice.

Here's what happens.  The Tech Team get's in place and sets up the room with our Preservice conditions.  House lights up, stage lights down, iTunes rolling our preservice playlist...and then we walk through the service with everyone.  The band and singers, and the Pastors, included.  We will do the service as if it was the real deal and it usually takes around 30 mins.  We cut out the preaching and the extended prayer time.

In times past, I have heard us call the the 1st service our "warm up" service.  Our "trial run", and usually, we treated it like such.  Transitions were sloppy, dead and awkward stage time, etc... There was a much higher potential for awkwardness in the 1st service.   (I'm sorry if you are one of the victims of that-hopefully we are doing much better now).

Anyways...after Tech Rehearsal, we had about 20 minutes before the beginning of service.  I love not being rushed on Sunday morning.

We started off with "The Highest and Greatest" by Tim Hughes, and "Bless The Lord" by Jeff Deyo.  Love both of these songs.  Great declaration in the chorus of "Bless The Lord".  "I will worship You, I will praise Your Name forever...", good stuff.

Then after a quick time of meet and greet, we did "My Father's World".  Hope to record this someday.  It's a catchy revamp of the old hymn.

We then did a welcome that on video and moved to a time of honoring the graduating seniors.  It was a wonderful time.  We coupled that with our prayer time that we call Stand In The Gap.

After that, we did 2 more songs; "Beautiful Savior", One Sonic Society and "Your Great Name" (and I am not sure who wrote this song, the first version I heard was from The People's Church in Franklin, TN. But I am LOVING this song right now.  So powerful an expression.  Fresh worship for our Church, great melody, this song has it all.

Then, Pastor David came up to break a wonderful message on what we pass on to our Children.  It was convicting for me, no doubt.

A wonderful, stress-free, worshipful Sunday.  Lifechange happened.  People me the Lord, and for many, for the first time ever.  Praise God.  What better way is there to start the week?

Dreaming Big Dreams

What one "thing" out there, that God is calling you to do, are you not doing because you feel that you are insignificant/don't have what it takes/can't see a way to get it done? What is it? I know what mine is. Adoption. This is why my wife and I are adopting our son Samuel from Ethiopia.

But, there is something else out there that I began dreaming today. Be on the lookout.

This group of folks means business.


Priorities - Idols

Mark Driscoll: "Religious idolatry uses God for health, wealth, success, and the like. In this grotesque inversion of the gospel, God is used for our glory, as if not only are we supposed to worship ourselves, but God is also to be a worshiper of us. This kind of false gospel preaching is evident whenever Jesus is presented as the means by which an idolater can obtain his idol. Examples include Jesus being presented as the one who promises to make you rich, happy, healed, joyfully married, and parentally successful." I read this on a Mars Hill Blog the other day.  Mark Driscoll does such a wonderful job of clearly communicating the Gospel, and It's implications on our lives - and simultaneously debunking the prosperity gospel that so many churches are preaching these days.

The quote above really stirs something in me.  Is Jesus my only priority?  Or have I set something else up as an idol in my life?  Music?  Band?  Media - Design?  Creativity?  Myself?  This is really foundational stuff, kinda like, "no duh".  But still, I struggle with it every day.  Am I the only one?

My prayer for today, is for Jesus only.  May I find true joy and fulfillment in Him alone.  A tall order when feeling poor, unhappy, sick, in a struggling marriage, and as an unsuccessful parent.  Yet, that is the order even if I feel like all these things.  The truth is, i feel like some of these things almost every day.  I am sure you do too.  Our feelings are fickle, God never changes and is always deserving of our utmost attention.

And I will praise Him!  And today - this morning as in every morning, I renew that commitment.

Believing In Others

For most of my life, I have lived by the mantra, "if I want something done right, I have to do it myself".  I am not quite sure why, because my Dad used to tell me I couldn't do ANYthing right.  I was always getting thumped on my head, and called stupid by the very ones that loved me.  I just didn't measure up, I felt that at least.  Perhaps, that is why I have struggled with perfectionism over the course of my adult life.  Sort of a defense mechanism for the inept.  "I'll learn to do it perfectly so no one makes fun of me, I can't handle being a disappointment". The D word.  No doubt, one of my biggest fears.  As a people-pleaser, the last thing I want to do it disappoint people.  Seriously, that is the worst thing imaginable to me.  So, I have become proficient at many things, and my job here has catered to that.

Here are some of the hats that I wear/have worn in the past:

Worship Leader

Worship Pastor

Service Planner

Graphics Dude

Video Guy

Mac Tech Support

Lighting Guru

Equipment Procurer

Stage Designer

Stage Seter-uper.

Etc...I'm sure something will be added to this list pretty soon.

One of the casualties of living this kind of a life, is my department's growth.  It becomes very hard to give something away because I believe that I can do it better myself.  For instance, after some crazy late Saturday night event, we needed to switch the stage around for Sunday.  A friend of mine (someone MORE than capable of setting up the stage) offered to do it in the morning at 4am.  I went to bed nervous that when I showed up, there'd be so much to do.  He surprised me.  At 2am I received a text from him with a picture of the stage, totally set up.  I rolled over in my bed at 4am, and got 2 more hours of amazingly restful sleep.

Or, when we hired a video guy, who is MUCH better at video than I am.  I had trouble turning that over to him though.  Something in me just cringed.

But then he surprised me.  Did great video, and I didn't have to do it.  Freedom!

Recently, I realized something from a comment that my beautiful wife made.  I realized that I also was like this at home.  Like...I had the drop on creativity.  Like I was the only artist among the family.  I never intentionally communicated this, in fact I truly don't believe this.  But my wife told me that she felt like I didn't believe in her.

Crushing.  How could I make her feel like that?  Grief, sorrow...disappointment in myself.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  My wife is amazingly creative, and has proven herself over and over again as of late.

  • For our 10 year Anniversary, she made me something amazing.  She spent about $12 total, and blew me away.  The sheer thought that went into making this enormous, candy covered, sweet message filled greeting card - had me speechless.  And to see the spark, and excitement in her eyes when she delivered it to me, priceless.  I fell in love with her all over again.
  • Then, during Easter weekend this year.  We did a Dora the Explorer meets Blues Clues skit for our families of young kids.  This was a major undertaking, and included many, many people.  In addition it blessed many, many people.  The amazing thing...it would NOT have happened if it wasn't for my Vanessa.  She wrote the script and directed it.  GREAT JOB baby.

I do believe in her, wholeheartedly.  And now, I am working on living life with these new principles driving me:

  • "Prefer the other".  - I got this from Bob Kauflin's book "Worship Matters".  It a principle that makes your team believe in themselves.  When someone comes to me with an idea, and it's not awful, seek to prefer that idea to my own.  This practice has not just built ownership in my team, but also grown me personally.
  • "Give it away".  - Not sure where I first heard this.  But, we become the bottleneck in any work flow situation, when we are the only person who can do a certain thing.  In addition, it's selfish and ineffective leadership to not be training someone to take your place.  I am learning to give my job away, and thereby train folks and pour into them, instead of hoarding and skills that I have.
  • "Everyone likes someone who gives them gum".  - Thank you The Office.  Be the guy who blesses others.  Who goes out of my way to compliment other people, and show appreciation.

I have a lot of work cut out for me, because when life is hectic and crazy, it's easy to forget all this, and not take the time to pour into other people.  But I have lived long enough thinking "I'll have to do this on my own".    Besides, didn't Christ remind us that we can do NOTHING apart from Him?



Struggling today.

The To-Do list invaded my sleep last night.

After Easter week (70+ hours worked), and a day of meetings yesterday, and...trying to find time to take a day off this week (to make up for our Good Friday holiday) I don't see how it can all get done.

And yet, the discipline is to breathe deep, before I begin the work.  For me, that means pushing against that urge inside to GO, GO, GO, and spend time in the Word first.

Today, the Psalms.

Perhaps that's the best place for me to be.

The Power of Words

I met Will Mancini about a year ago, as he came and talked to our church about church vision.  Today, he posted this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=Hzgzim5m7oU

I thought I'd share.  Because it's beautiful.  Because it's profound.  Because I love their Scottish accents.  Ok, not really.  I believe in the power of words, especially when they are thoughtfully put together.  Enjoy the video.

Worship Recap - April 10th

Week 2 of "The People Jesus Misses Most".  Have I mentioned before how much I love this series?  I am currently reading "The Hole In Our Gospel", and this series echoes so much of what I am reading.  God is doing some serious renovations in my heart and I love hearing it preached from the pulpit.   Normally that is.  Yesterday was somewhat of an anomaly.

Rewind to Saturday.  My severe grass allergy wreaked havoc on my sinuses while watching my little girls play their first soccer game.  I wouldn't have missed it.  Although, every year this happens.  The fields themselves are the problem.  There are no trees around an miles of grass.  Throw a relentless spring wind in the mix, and you have me inhaling grass pollen with every breath.  This was Saturday morning.

By Saturday night, I was miserable.  My eyes wouldn't stop itching and watering.  I woke up Sunday with them glued shut.  That's a cool feeling.  Now normally I don't take any medicine (especially an Anti-histamine) on Sunday morning for fear of the side effects.  With anti-histamines, they make me hoarse.  Not good for the singer in me.

It literally took me until the 2nd service for my voice to properly warm up.  I didn't feel great, my in-were malfunctioning, my sinuses moved into my left ear and rendered it un-usable; all this was going against me.  But, I love how God is.  When we are weak, He is strong.  When we are strong, we run the risk of doing it without Him.  So, in many ways, it's great to be weak, and needy when coming before Him on Sunday morning.  We gathered for prayer in the green room, asking Him to fill us.  And that He did.

The songs we sang were:

Living For You

Glory To God Forever

What A Savior


Forever Reign

Please Come Home - an original from my buddy Wes.

We ended this service singing a plead for the lost to please come home.  We did it at the front of the stage, 2 guitars (Wes and I) and just us singing.  It really was a beautiful moment.  Lots of great feedback about the song, and the service in general.  And what was funny, my perspective was totally off.  I was in a fog the whole time, thinking "this isn't hitting home for people".  How many times do I need to learn that lesson?  You can't judge how people are being moved by the number of hands being raised. You just can't.


Worship Recap...April 3rd

I was totally excited about this last Sunday.  On Wednesday of the week before, we changed the title of the new series that was to launch, from "Search and Rescue", to "The People Jesus Misses Most".  Normally, this would be a catastrophe, but thankfully there wasn't much work that had been put into "Search and Rescue".  No meeting, no progress.  We hadn't scheduled a real planning meeting (which is abnormal for us) about this series so Kevin (Creative Arts Director) and I hadn't done much.  In other words, we were completely open to the idea of changing the series 2 work days beforehand. The idea was, who are the people around you, that need Jesus the most.  You pass by them everyday, the ignored, the hurting, the lost, the lonely, the homeless, the poor, the marginalized.  The text for this week was Luke 10 - The Good Samaritan.  Considering what God has been doing in my heart over the last year I was ready for Sunday.

Up early, ready for the day.

Call time on Sunday's is 7:00am.  We usually rehearse from 7 - 7:45am, do a technical rehearsal from 7:45 to 8:20 or so, then pray and take communion together (band and tech people) at 8:50am.  Service starts at 9.

Well, this Sunday started like all of them.  But then I got a text saying that key figure wasn't going to make tech. rehearsal.  No worries.  We needed the extra time to practice.  So...we took it.

Service started and it went so well.  Great transitions, powerful worship, and truth preached.  God was glorified.

But then, everything changed in the second service.

I broke a string during the first song (2nd week in a row of breaking a string).  From now on, it's all Mediums on my guitar.  I always play mediums, except that I wanted to brighten my tone, so I tried lights.  Didn't expect to be breaking strings.  Lesson learned.

Then, during our prayer time, which was to be followed by "From The Inside Out", a comedy of errors ensued.  First off, the click in my Aviom was on the entire prayer time (5 mins of quietness).  This creates 2 problems.  1 - I am afraid the congregation will hear it.  2 - It drives me crazy.  Literally.  So, I turned around to the drummer and mouthed the words "Turn off the click".  He didn't understand.  So I tried this, "Click...off".  Well, he interpreted that as "Count us off for the next song" - But the Pastor was still talking!  After 2 click of his sticks I mouthed "NOOOOOOOOOO" to prevent the band from coming in.  Whew...he got that.  I decided to let the click stay on.

Well, then the lead guitarist started playing the intro riff to "From The Inside Out".  I tried to get his attention and say, "not yet".  I have this thing about giving the next song away to the congregation during a prayer time.  I believe it can be a distraction from what they are supposed to be doing at that time.  Like..."Yes, I love this next song"...taking their attention away from what God is doing in the moment.

Well, he didn't look up, and I couldn't get his attention.  So...I let that go.  But now the drummer who witnessed this whole thing, was really confused.  He was holding up the sheet music to that song.  I'm thinking, "what's he doing"?

After the service, and after it all played out well, I learned this from the drummer:  He thought the guitarist was about to play the wrong song because he could see the guitarists music stand, and "From The Inside Out" was not on the stand.  And, then he saw me mouthing something to the guitarist, which he interpreted as me saying that he was on the wrong song.

By the grace of God, we all came in at the right time on that next song, and it was a great time of worship.  But I was VERY distracted by that whole thing.  Hindsight, it was funny how messed up all that was.   Has that ever happened to you when leading worship?

Lessons learned from Sunday:

- Communicate CLEARLY.  The little things need big attention sometimes.  Like...what are we going to do musically during the "turn around and shake a hand" time or the "prayer time".  Things like; when does the band exit the stage, and when do we come back in?  We need to be VERY clear about these kind of things so that we don't mess up communicating as it's happening.

-Technical Rehearsal is key.  I am not sure if you have one or not, but it is essential for us to have a successful first service.  We actually step through the whole service up until the message.  Then, we step through the after the message part.  It give our tech volunteers time to see how the service will play out, before doing it live.  It also gives the band and vocalists and idea of the "little things" before being faced with it while people are watching.  :-)

By the end of the service, Pastor Jerry brought the Word.

The songs we did on Sunday:

Better Than Life from Travis Cottrell

You Are Good from Lakewood

From The Inside Out by Hillsong United

Came To My Rescue by Hillsong United

Holy by 1211 Band.  <-----a WONDERFUL song to bridge with Communion, which is what we did.