Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Sometimes life just carries you away

I've been pretty busy the past couple of weeks, so if you've missed my posts, I'm sorry. Most likely no one actually reads this, so it doesn't really matter.

I've been out of town with Rescue the past two weekends. First it was Sisters and Seaside, and this past weekend it was Camano Island at the Camano Chapel and the Warm Beach Christian Conference Center. We did two services and a concert at the Camano Chapel and three 45 minute concerts back to back at Warm Beach. Tuesday is my last concert with Rescue in Salem and I look forward to some time off.

I got back and hung out with Kori for a while. We saw Leminy Snicket's A Series of Unforunate Events. I won't see her again until Dec. 31st, for she is going to Gold Beach, OR to be with her family and I am flying to Stockton, CA to be with mine. She has been a wonderful light in my life and I look forward to spending a lot more time with her and building our relationship in Salem as she moves to Keizer (just north of Salem).

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Jay and Mitch of Rescue

Tonight was Jay McKinney and Mitch Fewell's last concert with Rescue.

Jay will be serving as worship pastor at Sunset Presbyterian Church in Beaverton, OR, where he's been spending lots of his time outside of Rescue the past few months. He will make, and already is, a powerful worship minister. I believe he will faithfully lead people to Christ for his example of humble service show through his actions and his words. For me it won't be as weird for him to be gone, because he will still be in the area, but him, his wife Allison and daughter Macy will be missed.

Mitch, on the other hand, will seem so far away. He is moving to California where he will be near to family and will be looking for a job in a church. I'm selfishly hoping he finds one in Sacramento, where he is interviewing, so that he will be near to my parents and I might have an opportunity to see him every once in a while. Wherever Mitch ends up, I wish him and his wife Jen and the four boys (James, Josh, Joey, and Jacob) the best. I'll be praying for safe travels and showers of blessings from the Lord.

It has been so wonderful to work with both of them the past 6 or 7 months. They have both shown me things that I would have never otherwise experienced, taught me things that have made me a better person. It will be quite weird and different working with Rescue in December and not having them around. I am blessed to have amazing opportunities to minister to people, and Rescue is one of those things. My life is much richer having met them and I hope that our friendships will go on. I'll recall quite a few things about them and the experiences we had in so many places. Cannon Beach, Halo, Fiji, and so much more. It will be remembered.

end sappy nostalgia

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Cascade Hills Summit

Tonight was the test (practice) run for the Cascade Hills church of Christ Summit, which is a tool for bringing unchurched friends together to drink coffee and allow them to question whether or not they believe in God and to start asking some questions. The actual first Summit will be Jan. 5 and some of the people around Salem that the team members already living in Salem have encountered will be there. It will be a chance to deepen the relationship with these people and get them asking questions about God.

The theme of the first Summit has to do with asking questions of reality and other options for the way we see things. The video clips include shorts from Liar, Liar and The Matrix.

In Liar, Liar, Jim Carrey is forced to tell the truth after his son wishes for that on his birthday. Of course, being a lawyer, it's something that he has grown accustomed to doing, so it effects everything that he does. He has a skewed view of reality in that most things he says are lies, and when that is pulled out from underneath him, his life and view of everything falls apart.

In The Matrix, Neo is forced to make a decision to take the blue pill and go on believing everything he thinks he knows, or to take the red pill and be shown the truth of everything. He isn't told what will happen or how it will effect his life, he just has to jump out and do it in order to see, a choice based on faith.

Some other things are shown and questions posed, but Summit is wrapped up by leaving everyone with a question: "What if there is another option?" Maybe life isn't black and white, and perhaps making God a viable option will help explain some of the unexplainable things, and put everything in perspective. This question isn't answered for them, but given to them to chew on for a while until the next time we see them.

I'm looking forward to meeting some lost people and attempting to show them the love of Jesus without attempting to be The Judge.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Vocal Percussion and Enterpraise

I had an awesome experience at Sunset Presbyterian Church in Beaverton, OR on Sunday evening. Enterpraise was leading worship for a group of about 300 teens that are used to a full band with guitars and drums and stuff, and we went in there with 9 people and no instruments and led them in worship. I was able to do mostly vocal percussion and some bass and lead, and we did our normal high energy/quality thing and they seemed to really love to experience. A few of them asked us if we were coming back next week to fill in for another one of their bands (they have two).

Now what would happen if some of them brought in their amps and drums and plugged in at one of our a cappella congregations? I think I know the answer, but it's a shame that it is such a difference in reaction. For them, it was simply surprising to see that you don't need all the gear in order to worship God. For most Churches of Christ, however, the reaction would probably not be shock, but horror and condemnation. Shame on us for being the weaker brother for so long. As usual, I pray for unity in God's church.

This will be one of the last times I will be able to lead with Enterpraise for a while, since I'm moving to Salem in a month to become a worship minister at Cascade Hills church of Christ. I'm looking so forward to serving and ministering to the people of South Salem, but I'll miss singing, vocal percussion, and leading worship with a group of people that just plain rock. I'll have to get EP down to Salem to show them what's up.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

THE NEXT LEVEL IN A CAPPELLA MUSIC

I haven't written a post about this, but I got a plug from my brother about my website, so I figured I might as well do it as well. WWW.VOCALPERC.COM is a website dedicated to vocal percussion and the art as it is related to a cappella music. There are links to other vocal percussion and beatboxing sites, a cappella artists, a calendar of what I'm doing, a media section with audio clips, pictures and desktop backgrounds, a forum to talk about all this stuff, and T-shirts for sale.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

People Want Love

My brother wrote a post about a post on another blog by Wade Hodges. (I know, talk about round about). I think it is a good explanation of why people of the emerging generations don't respond very well to traditional evangelism.

For them, you have to prove things with your life and through a relationship before they even want to hear about Jesus. The love of Jesus is shown through our actions. Our words are simply there to back it up. Maybe normal non-Christians would be more willing to listen if there were more homeless, drug addicts, alcoholics, poor people, orphans, etc. in the pews on Sunday morning. Grace seems to only be extended by us to those with the right answers.

God shows grace to everyone through Christ. Our lives are forever changed, but always falling short of perfection. Christ comes constantly on our behalf to make up the difference. Why do we pretend that we have God figured out or that we know who is worthy of His grace? I say it is our job to show love to everyone, especially the unloveable.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Spiritual Diaper Rash

Sometimes I get tired of the whining and complaning that goes on in churches. The most complaining happens when there is a slight change in a program that makes people uncomfortable and they don't know what to expect. It makes them actually think on Sunday morning instead of just going through the motions. It causes them to step up and be stronger brothers and sisters and make them grow and develop in their faith instead of letting them dwell in what they know, thinking they have already arrived and need not go any further.

I think of this as a spiritual diaper rash.

Diaper rash is something that is usually nothing more than sensitive skin rubbing against a diaper and rubbing with chemicals and bacteria. It's a simple rash that is easily treated and is more a nuisance than anything. Most change in churches is nothing more than a small change in structure or order. The changes that happen have no bearing on whether or not someone will go to heaven, but usually are to streamline a service or to get more people involved. Spiritual diaper rash is only a slight irritation, but causes people to cry and complain like it's the end of the world.

Jesus is the ointment. He showed love regardless of what people have done. He didn't command orders of worship or set boundaries for the power of God. Be more like him, and grow up.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Can't talk...playing Halo 2...

Ok...I may not post for a while. I just picked up a copy of Halo 2 and I can already surmise that it's going to be taking a lot of my free time now. It was nice knowing you.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Man Tries To Convert Lions

I imagine this is how non-Christians view some of us when we force religion onto them.

Man tries to convert lions to Jesus, gets bitten

We look like idiots and kooks to the world. God was the one in power, not Daniel, when he shut the lions' mouths. Let's not try to be the driving force behind all we do. Let God be in control and show others we are Christians by our love.

Fundraising for Cascade Hills

I found out the other day that my fundraising is actually going a lot better for Cascade Hills church of Christ, the church plant where I am going to be and already have begun as Worship Minister. A couple of people have made some donations and a couple of others have pledged a sizeable monthly support.

One thing that I proposed/was encouraged to do by my team is to write some new worship songs. The Churches of Christ haven't had too many songs written by them in the past, and so it's been sort of a thing of mine that I think more people that have the ability should be writing songs that fit to their heritage, or more importantly, to their church community. My team has begun bugging me more and more about it, and I'm having trouble finding time and inspiration.

Father, please give me the words and the music to reach out to the community of Salem and to share with all my brothers and sisters throughout the country and the world. May it be a beautiful worship to You. Amen.

Friday, November 05, 2004

J.S. Bach's Faith

I thought this might be interesting to some people. I know that I found it interesting. It is evidence of J.S. Bach's faith in God through Christ, and also further rejects the idea of those who believe instrumental music is wrong, especially in worship. I guess they'd better stop listening to Bach. On many of his pieces, he put the initials S.D.G. which means Soli Deo Gloria, which is a Latin translation of Romans 16:27 or literally Glory to God alone.

Another thing he wrote in assisting his eldest son copying eleven preludes which became known as Clavier-Büchlein for Wilhelm Friedemann Bach is J.N.J. and stands for In Nomine Jesu which means In the name of Jesus.

Bach scribbled this canon (left) on the flyleaf of a notebook owned by Johann Gottlieb Fulda (1718-1796), theology student and some-time player in Leipzig's orchestras. In Fulda's notebook the canon is accompanied by two cryptic inscriptions: Symbolum Christus Coronabit Crucigeros "Symbol: Christ will crown those who carry his cross" and Domino Possessori hisce notulis commendare se volebat J. S. Bach "J. S. Bach wanted to commend himself to the lord possessor by means of these notes." Bach's reference to the "lord possessor" obviously refers to the owner of the book (Fulda), but also to the Lord God: i.e. "By means of these notes J. S. Bach wanted to commend himself to God."

Monday, October 25, 2004

Unity In God's Church

I had the most awesome conversation last night with some of the Rescue guys during a 4-5 hour trip back to Portland from Monroe, WA. I'm not sure if most people realize it, but all the guys come from different church backgrounds, including me. A few are Baptist, some church of Christ (like me), and now Jay McKinney is working with a Presbyterian church. It's amazing that people with differing views can come together when there is grace and the power of Jesus involved.

We got onto the conversation of working together and core beliefs because of upcoming member changes. Some of us believe that baptism is necessary for salvation, and some don't. All of us agreed that our beliefs are fluid and change and evolve over time. After an hour or two of talking about this, we kind of stepped back and saw what had just happened and realised that though we all have differing beliefs and different backgrounds, we still came together and could make a consensus that we each believed that the true power comes from Jesus and his death and resurrection.

One of the things I gained from the experience is that God desires unity in His church and that for so many of us this is at the back of our minds. We care less about loving and care more about being right. Remember that judgement is not ours to make. Our job is to love.

Romans 14:8-23:

8 While we live, we live to please the Lord. And when we die, we go to be with the Lord. So in life and in death, we belong to the Lord. 9 Christ died and rose again for this very purpose, so that he might be Lord of those who are alive and of those who have died. 10 So why do you condemn another Christian? Why do you look down on another Christian? Remember, each of us will stand personally before the judgment seat of God. 11 For the Scriptures say, "'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow to me and every tongue will confess allegiance to God.'" 12 Yes, each of us will have to give a personal account to God. 13 So don't condemn each other anymore. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not put an obstacle in another Christian's path. 14 I know and am perfectly sure on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong. 15 And if another Christian is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don't let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died. 16 Then you will not be condemned for doing something you know is all right. 17 For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God. And other people will approve of you, too. 19 So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up. 20 Don't tear apart the work of God over what you eat. Remember, there is nothing wrong with these things in themselves. But it is wrong to eat anything if it makes another person stumble. 21 Don't eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another Christian to stumble. 22 You may have the faith to believe that there is nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who do not condemn themselves by doing something they know is all right. 23 But if people have doubts about whether they should eat something, they shouldn't eat it. They would be condemned for not acting in faith before God. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Using Our Gifts For God

Romans 12:6-8 says:

6 God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out when you have faith that God is speaking through you. 7 If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, do it! If you have money, share it generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
After reading this again for the first time, it has greatly encouraged me to do what I do to the best of my ability. A lot of times I see people who have tremendous gifts squander them only to pursue things that they desire. I have seen amazing, gifted musicians pursue money, tremendous fund-raisers pursue music, wonderful encouragers scratch and claw for a chance to speak, and on and on. I am sure we have all done this with a true desire to serve the Lord, but to what extent, and at what cost? We have squandered away our gifts for our own desires or our own thoughts of what God has planned for us. I have no doubt that we are given the freedom to serve any way we can as long as it is for God, but each of us has been given a gift or gifts, and these are to be used for God's glory. We are told not to hide our gifts, but to embrace them! Let them ring out for God's increase and our decrease!

I can only guess how many times I have wanted to do something that requires great training and extra work, only to stifle opportunities to use the gifts I already have. I am definitely a proponent for refining and learning new talents and gifts, but not at the expense of ones that God has given openly. It is my prayer that we use what we have been given and build upon that, never replacing them with busyness, personal gain, or selfish ambition.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

New Computer!

In order to record the college group I direct, I have purchased a new dual 1.8 Ghz Powermac G5 with 1 Gb of RAM. That's right, I've joined the other side and now am a double agent in the MAC/PC war. It's very nice and I've been having a blast loading all my cd's onto it and playing around with Pro Tools. It's a great computer, but I doubt I will ever totally dump my PC. There's just something about having software. It's something I enjoy.

Dependence On Technology

Well, I have moved and just got my internet back up and running. I have come to realize how dependent I have become on email and internet to stay in contact with people. I started out going through withdrawals not being able to check my email anytime I wanted to and not being able to just hop on the internet to see what is going on in the world (I don't have cable anymore and only have 6 channels now). The last few days have been quite refreshing, however, not being bothered by normal things and not being accessible is sometimes a good thing. I'm happy to have my computer running again, but maybe now I'll take more breaks from it.

Friday, September 24, 2004

The People I Get To Meet

Working as sound engineer for a professional Christian a cappella group has many perks. One of them is that I get to meet some famous people every once in a while. A week or so ago I got to meet Geoff Moore. Tonight Rescue performed for a benefit concert for a missions organization, and one of the people speaking there was Katie Harmon, Miss America 2002. The coolest thing about meeting her was seeing her heart for the Lord and for the poor. Truly a testament to me of where the work needs to be done.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Witness is Recording

I recently discovered that my bid to record Witness was accepted. This is extremely exciting because it means that I will be able to purchase some wonderful recording equipment for future use for them and for myself. The bad news is that the album is supposed to be finished by finals week, which will give us about 2 months to record, edit, and send off the album to be duplicated and get the product back. This will have to also be done in the midst of moving, preparing the move and support letters for Cascade Hills, and continuing my duties as sound engineer for Rescue, which takes up all my weekends. The task ahead of me will probably be very difficult and sleep deprived, but I am looking forward to the challenge. This is still a blessing, and well worth the hard work.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

The power of God and His creation

I was just sitting here playing a video game and was kinda spacing out losing track of time when it started pouring down rain. My parking lot is now a lake, keeping me from leaving. I don't know if it was the noise of the rain beating against the carport covering in the parking lot or the many flashes of lightning and rumbling thunder that finally snapped me out of my zombie-like state. Most likely it was the power briefly going off, involuntarily shutting off my computer.

I'm back up now. I think I'll go eat dinner.

Monday, September 13, 2004

We are blessed

Let me tell you the story of a man named Michael. No, this man is not my brother Michael.

This is the story of a man who lives in a small village/town in Fiji. While staying in the nicest hotel in Fiji for a huge Christian festival, I took a stroll down the harbor and met a man asking for money. I was the easy target, being a white, 6'3", red-haired man from the U.S., I obviously had more than him. He was in soiled clothes, probably one of two or three sets of clothing that he owned, had a bandana on his head, and a greying beard.

I asked him what his name is and he told me "Michael, strong, like the angel." We both laughed and I told him my name, where I was from, what I did, and what we were doing in Fiji. He told me his story:

Michael was orphanized when his mother moved to Australia with a man and he was left to fend for himself. He lived across the harbor in a small town/village. He pointed across to the hills and some small buildings barely visible. Michael is self-employed. He chops firewood for a living, so that all the people can cook their food, make campfires, and drink their kava, which is like tea or coffee to them, but is actually a drug. But then again, so is coffee, right?

Every sunday Michael comes over to the large city of 200,000 where we were staying called Suva. He buys kerosene and toothpaste (he had nice teeth!) and whatever else he and his wife and child will need. In his small business, Michael makes 50-60 Fijian dollars per week, which amounts to about $35 USD. Mind you, he doesn't have to pay rent, car insurance, or student loans, but $35 per week in the United States means that you will be homeless. Michael told me to ask his age, and I guess probably about 40 or 45. He was 33 and had gray streaks in his beard, tatoos along his hands and arms, and roughened features from a life of fending for himself and of hard work.

I told that story to say that we are incredibly wealthy in this country, whether you want to call it a blessing or not. In Fiji, every person I came into contact with would greet you with a "Bula", which means "hello", and go out of their way to be friendly, regardless of if you are in the city or in a village. Here, everyone is too busy to see beyond themselves, and too busy trying to make money to feed their need for more stuff. Michael was excited to tell me how happy he was to get a mosquito net for $27 Fijian. We are excited when we get cars, electronics, and other lavish items.

Now let us look at the poor in our own country. In Fiji, making $35 per week is still livable because there aren't as many bills to pay and people live in villages, where they share and give to each other. Here, every man is for himself. $35 per week might be enough for rent if you had three or four roommates in a small one bedroom apartment, but then how would one eat? Is it as easy now to look on the homeless with contempt? There are jobs available, but many of them lack the skill or ability to do them. Even the simplest of fast food jobs require some skill at being on time, handling a mop, or counting money. As Christians we should be helping the least of these (Matt. 25:40), not out of pity or contempt, but out of love and a desire to genuinely help, as Christ loved us. I hope you will sense the urgency behind this message, that there are too many who need help that can't wait for us to finish planning our praise team practices and weekend retreats! These things are good, but do not let them consume us and all our time.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Writing from Fiji

The past several days have been a crazy whirlwind for me. I left the US on monday evening and arrived in Fiji on wednesday, losing a day in the process. I am Rescue's sound engineer and we were given the opportunity to sing at a festival in Fiji put on by Luis Palau and Delta Ministries.

The other day on our way from Nadi, Fiji to Suva, Fiji it hit me how surreal the situation was. I was on a bus in a small island in the South Pacific with Rescue, a reggae band from Australia, three Christian skateboarders, and Geoff Moore and his band. If you were to ask me what I would be doing a year ago, I can't say this would be at the top of my list of guesses.

Today is Sunday in Fiji, and we will get back into the US on Sunday...before we left. I better get some sleep on the plane or else I will be totally thrown off.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Jealousy of others' ministries?

Is jealousy of other ministers' success a normal thing among other ministers? When I see people succeed at something I have failed, or simply have yet to succeed in, I should rejoice in their success, especially if it is in service to the God of all creation.

I'll back up a little. I've always been involved in music, and have had a lot of things given to me freely when it comes to music, including some talent. I just came back from the first night of a popular youth rally in the Northwest, called Faithquest. I was invited to sing on the praise team for this event, yet couldn't due to some other obligations previously scheduled. I went out there for one night to hear the group I direct perform and then to stay for some praise led by the praise team. Standing in the crowd watching the praise team sing I started to say to myself (which I can't remember doing before) "I should be up there". I caught myself and asked God for forgiveness, reminding myself that it doesn't matter where I stand if my heart is directed at worshiping myself or even the talents God has given me. The praise isn't directed at me anyway. God alone is where the praise can be directed.

Ask yourself the next time you feel envious of other churches' successful praise team ministry, young adult ministry, or other ministry that you just can't seem to get off the ground, "why am I jealous?" Some ministries just don't work for all people all the time. Don't get jealous, but instead be thankful that God is leading you in a different direction. Then you will know how to handle the situation when another minister wants to mimic your "new direction".

It is my prayer that in any ministry I am involved in, that my worship be only of the Creator and never of the creation.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The layperson's challenge

Harvie Conn has put together a collection of essays and research into a book called "Planting and Growing Urban Churches: From Dream to Reality". In it Ray Bakke, executive director of International Urban Associates gives us some insight into the traditional forms of ministry and the layperson's role in that. He also gives a look into the future for a post-modern world.

The two types of traditional urban ministry he describes are the crusade and the franchise.

The crusade is basically a flood of evangelism into a certain area, which is designed to overwhelm a region with religion. This has been very powerful in the past in the 1890s in Chicago, and other places.

The franchise is like McDonald's (I haven't read McWorld, but may be the same idea?), where the product (in this case, the Gospel) is watered down, standardized, simplified, cranked out to millions, and is very American in concept.

Urban ministry has changed and now must be more personalized, which means more and different types of ministries for differing people and people groups. Here is a quote from Bakke's work:

"Most of us went to Bible schools or seminaries where we learned to design ministry in our own image, that is, to sing the songs we appreciate and to preach sermons we would like to listen to. Unfortunately for us, the challenge now is to retool and design ministry strategies in the image of the unreached who may be very different from us culturally. These are not the only major challenges to conventional mission theory and practice, but they support the basic thesis. Cities will not yield to simplistic or reductionistic evangelistic strategies or to mission-as-usual thinking."
If we are to reach unbelievers in this way, we must go to them where they live, work, play, go to school, etc. It is up to the layperson to bring the Good News to them and weave it into the fabric of their lives. This isn't a cotton commercial, it is a call to those in the pews to get up and take the work out of the hands of the pastor, preacher, or paid minister and share it with our neighbors, our coworkers, our schoolmates, and the other people we see every day.

It is my prayer that in our efforts to take the Gospel to as many people as possible, we will not water down the message, but at least make it relevant to the people who we share it with.

Monday, August 23, 2004

This is kinda weird

I've seen so many of these blog-thingies, and my brother even has one, so I thought I'd give it a shot. It's weird to think that the whole world can read some of my thoughts, and maybe even some that I'd like to keep to myself, but what do I have to hide?

Maybe this will be a good outlet at those times I get stressed or just a silly place of random stuff. Who knows? I guess we'll all just have to wait and see!

Last night I just "formally" accepted a role as a Worship Minister at the Cascade Hills church of Christ in Salem, OR. The weird thing about it is that it hasn't really started yet. The talks and planning have been going on for a while now, but the official launch won't be until next spring sometime. God makes some things roll pretty fast sometimes. I never would have thought this time last year, while I was designing graphics in front of a desk that I would end up directing a college music group, be a sound tech for a professional Christian group, and then go on to be a Worship Minister. Only God knows where he'll take me from here. I hope that I'll be faithful and hang on for the ride.