Happy Valentine’s Day To My Valentine!

jenToday is Valentine’s Day.  I woke up with the flu, so that kind of sucks!  I am glad that my valentine and I went out to celebrate yesterday.  (You kind of have to re-arrange things when you have 5 kids!)

She is the most important person in this world to me.  She loves Jesus.  She loves our children.  She has stuck by me for nearly 20 years, even when it was not always fun.  I love her so much more now than I could have ever imagined that I would.  My life with her just gets better, and she is responsible for that.

Thank you Jennifer for loving me… even when I have the flu!

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Worship Confessional: December 28, 2008

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This week was not a week that I usually have long rehearsals or try new songs.  People are busy and I try to respect their time during the holidays by having as short a rehearsal as I can.  We typically have rehearsal on Thursday evening.  The band rehearses and then the praise teams joins tha band for the last hour or so.  Usually, rehearsals are about 2 1/2 hours total.  This week, we combined the praise team and band for about 45 minutes of rehearsal.  We also only had one service this Sunday.  Everything we did in church today we have done before.  Next week will pretty much be the same.  So, here is our setlist for this Sunday.  We did have a new keyboard player today… well, he was new for me, but he has played here at Glenville before.  He did a great job!

Here is the list:

  • Friend Of GodHoughton
  • Everlasting GodBrown

Baptism – I LOVE seeing people take this step of obediece!  Always cool!

  • Forever – Tomlin
  • Blessed Be Your NameRedman
  • You Are My KingFoote

Pastor’s message was a call to thank God for the blessings of the year, but he spent most of his time encouraging us to push forward and anticipate great things in the future.  The people seemed to be very attentive and were receptive during the response time.  It was a low-key day, but there was still lots of energy and excitement in the place.  I am looking forward to another laid-back week (although I am speaking next week, so I have to get ready).  I love all this extra time with the family!

This post is also part of Sunday Setlists at Fred McKinnon [dot] com.

Merry Christmas!

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From our house to yours, have a Merry Christmas!  Remember, Jesus is more than the Reason for the Season, He is the Reason for life!

Anticipation

I am home today on Christmas Eve.  We are doing all the last minute things that you do before Christmas Day.  We are watching Santa’s progress on the NORAD Santa Tracker RADAR.  My kids are on a high just waiting for the big day.  The waiting is going to kill them, and drive their christmas-adventparents nuts!  Actually, it is fun to sit back and watch them in their anticipation of the arrival of Christmas.  It is like Christmas will never get here for them!

As I watch them, I cannot help but think about all the people involved in that first Christmas night.  The nation of Israel, Joseph and Mary and all those expecting the arrival of a Messiah… the One who would come and save them.  They did not know the weight of what would happen that night.  They did not know what the birth of Jesus would be all about, and what it would set it motion.  They could not comprehend that the birth of this child would be the catalyst that would allow mankind to come into a right relationship with the God of the Universe.

I hope that as we go about our fun the next couple of days that we do not forget that all this was because God wanted a relationship with us.  He wanted to be a part of our lives.  He wanted to be able to lead us to the life that He has planned, a plan that will allow us to live life to the full!  God has always had a plan… and that plan includes us! It includes you living the life that God planned for you.

As we anticipate Christmas Day, let’s not forget that Jesus is not just the reason for the season… He is he reason for life!  Let’s live that way!

Ten Things I Have Learned This Year: Part Four

top_10This is the last post in the “Ten Things I Have Learned This Year.” you can see the other posts here, here and here.

8. It is important to remember that we are a part of something so much bigger than ourselves, our church, and our affiliation (denomination, fellowship, whatever…).

  • I am not minimizing the importance of the local church.  Not at all.  It is God’s plan for us to reach people.  But, it is part of a BIG plan that God has to bring people into the Kingdom.
  • We have to remember that everything that we do as a local congregation of believers gives people around us a view of what God and His people are all about.  So, if you are some wack-job that preaches hate and intolerance (to personal preferences – not core doctrinal issues) than you give those in your community (and unfortunately, maybe even a larger audience) a view that God’s people are a bunch of idiots.  You also give people that are visiting your church, maybe for the first or last time, something other than the hope, acceptance and love of Jesus, which is what they are looking for.  As the people of God, we have to create an atmosphere that allows us to show the love of Christ to people in a non-judgmental way.
  • If you are a part of some denomination or fellowship of churches, that is great.  Those things are helpful for the big picture as far as home and foreign missions are concerned.  But it is sad when a pastor or a church get so “affiliation” minded that they forget they are called to build a church, not an affiliation.  I literally have heard pastors say that another pastor would have made a great leader an their affiliation if he had not been so focused on his church.   Excuse me?  Jesus did not die for you affiliation…
  • We need to have a big picture mentality that allows us to work with others to accomplish the work of God.  I like how Paul said it in Philippians, “I don’t care if they preach Christ out of envy or good will, the important thing is that they are preaching Christ.”

9. With that in mind, we should live our lives as if we are a part of something big

  • God has a purpose and a plan.  We should live to be a part of that, knowing that we were are involved in is God redemptive process for man.
  • We are a part of what God wants to do.  We need to see where we fit that plan, and dig in to love God, love others and serve both!
  • Why do so many Christians walk around like they do not matter, and like what they believe does not matter.  They walk around like it is a small thing to be a Christ follower!  Stop it!  We are a child of the Most High God!  Live like it!
  • Live your life as if the person you are in contact with at this very moment is a divine appointment from God… because it is!  We are a part of His master plan!

10. God is sovereign.  The end!

  • So many times over the last year I have had to just sit back, take a deep breath, and remind myself that God is in control.
  • I have had to remind myself that no man is bigger than God, even if they think they are.  No circumstance is beyond God’s control, even if it seems like there is no escape.
  • If I believe that I am a part of God’s great plan, than I have to believe that the things He allows to come into my life are also a part of that plan, and will help me to be exactly who He intends me to be.

In another post this year, I shared a passage from Job that gave me great strength.  I have gone back to that passage many times this year.  Job 23:8-14 says:

8 I cannot find God anywhere— in front or back of me,

9 to my left or my right. God is always at work,
though I never see him.

10 But he knows what I am doing, and when he tests me,
I will be pure as gold.

11 I have never refused to follow any of his commands,

12 and I have always treasured his teachings.

13 But he alone is God, and who can oppose him?
God does as he pleases,

14 and he will do exactly what he intends with me.

It is such a comfort to know that He is in control, and that He will do exactly what He wants to do with me to fulfill His purpose and plan!

I hope I am always learning… I cannot wait to see what God has for me in 2009!

Ten Things I Have Learned This Year: Part Three

top_10Continuing on from Monday and Tuesday

5. Ministry without passion is just you going through the motions

  • Seriously, if you are not passionate about what you are doing, you are not really doing anything!
  • God has gifted each and every one of us to do something that only we can do for Him… that comes with a passion.  If you do not feel that passion, maybe you are not doing what God has gifted you to do!
  • I am not talking about waking up in the morning and wanting to stay under the covers… or even just wanting to call in sick for a day.  I am talking about when you wake up in the night, your first thoughts go to what you do, and how it excites you!  I am talking about you standing in line in a store, and you hear someone talking about church or Jesus, and you light up, knowing that what you do for Him fires you up!
  • As servants of the most High God, how can we be more passionate about trips we will take, games we will play and sports teams we follow than we are about the God we are called to serve that changes lives and does things that only He can do?

Ok, again, think about it… God has called us to serve Him… how cool is that… how humbling is that?!!?

With all of that in mind…

6. If you are not passionate about what you are doing, you are cheating yourself, God, and the people you serve.

  • God deserves better than a half-hearted attempt to serve Him.  Jesus went ALL THE WAY to the cross, the least we can do is go all out in our service to God.
  • You need to be totally sold out to what God has called you to do.  People can tell the difference between someone who is passionate about serving God and others and someone who is just doing something because it is either their job or because it is a religious exercise.
  • How can we expect others to be passionate about serving God if we are not?  If God has placed us to lead or serve beside people, we need to exhibit a passion and fire what God has called and gifted us for.  The passion is contagious!

7. It does not matter if you are traditional or contemporary as long as you are following what God wants you to do for your church

  • I get so ticked off when I hear stories about guys that spend hours preparing articles and writing papers like, “Why such-and-such church is an abomination to God,” or “Why this version of the Bible is of the devil,” or “Why this music is wrong because if you play it backwards is says, ‘Read the NIV'” or something like that.
  • I seriously think when God sees this stuff He shakes His head and just says, “I said you should redeem the time because the days are evil, this is not redeeming the time, it is wasting it!”
  • I am glad there are all kinds of churches because there are all kinds of people.  If someone down the street wants to wear a suit, have services 6 times a week and sing nothing but hymns, that is fine.  I hope they reach people for Jesus.  I am not in competition with them, and it is certainly not my job to judge or critique them.  What they do is between them and God.  Again, I am not competing, they are trying to reach people for Jesus, so I am grateful for them.
  • Seriously, we should spend more time reading our Bible (whatever version it may be), praying, and building relationships with people so we can lead them to Jesus.  All that other stuff is junk, and does not do anyone, any good.

We will finish the top ten up tomorrow.  Man, writing all this stuff fires me up!

Giving Thanks

thanksgiving

I know everyone else will likely have posts on their blogs about the things they are thankful for.  There is nothing unique about me posting my “Thanksgiving List.”  But this week, as I was contemplating everything and making my list, I was just overwhelmed by God’s goodness.  There is so much that we could and should list.  God is a great God, and does so much for us that we just overlook every day.  My list should just go on and on… as should yours!  So, here is a part of my list of things that I am thankful for:

  • I am thankful that God loves me so much that He wanted to be involved in my life.  Not just in the big things, but in every detail.  That love was made visibly evident when He allowed Jesus to take my sins as His own.  Then, Jesus died for me so that I could come into a relationship that God longed to have with me.  To this day, I cannot wrap my mind around why God would do that for me… but he did!
  • I am thankful for my wife.  She is the most important person to me in the world.  I love spending time with her.  I love watching her.  I love her now more than I ever have!
  • I am thankful for my children.  With five kids, it gets hectic and crazy.  But each one of them has brought a joy into my life that I would not have known without them.  They are precious to me.
  • I am thankful for God’s call on my life.  I literally have no other desire or passion in my life other than to serve God in the capacity that I do.  I love being able to serve God by serving people.  It is awesome to see lives changed as people take their next step towards Christ!
  • I am thankful for my church.  It is such a blessing to serve with a people that are interested in loving God, loving people and serving both.  There is something happening at our church… and I cannot wait to see where it leads us!
  • I am thankful for the team I get to work with.  My pastor and the staff are just that… a team.  It has been refreshing to come into a church that has that spirit and approach to ministry.  They are awesome to serve Christ next to!  Gotta say that I love all the volunteers I get to work with as well.  They are part of the team!  Without them, the ministry would just not work at Glenville!  You people rock!
  • I am thankful that God takes care of us the way He does.  This has been an unusual year.  Though we did not understand why God was doing what he was doing while we were going through it, we are so thankful that we were led to the place we are now.  His ways are higher than our ways, and for that I am thankful.

Yes, there are other things that could be mentioned, but this is a good start for my list.  I hope you have taken the time to contemplate what God has done in your life.  Today is a day that we set aside to give thanks.  I am glad that we have this day and the things that go with it, like food and football, but I hope that each day we practice a little thanksgiving to the God that loves us!