Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Easter Week

And it’s here…Easter week.  Am I the only one excited about having 3 services Easter morning?  I hope not.  I’m really looking forward to it.  Easter is always a special day in the life of our church, but having 3 services to lead just makes it even better.  Why you ask?  Because Easter Sunday is just different.  There is an excitement to Easter Sunday that you just don’t get the rest of the year.  People want to celebrate the Risen Savior and they come ready to sing, shout, lift their hands, and cry out to Jesus.  People smile more on Easter.  They sing out more on Easter.  They lift their hands more easily on Easter.  And I can’t wait!  And the fact that we get to do it 3 times just makes it better.

I’m also excited that we will be presenting a brand new song on Easter Sunday.  It’s called “Forever” and it’s by Kari Jobe.  I believe that the church is really going to like it and that God is going to use it in a powerful way as we celebrate the empty tomb.  Here is a link to Kari Jobe singing it:

Finally, if you need a good laugh, then check out our drama team presenting “Easter Explained” from this past Sunday.  If this doesn't get you excited about Easter, then nothing will. 

(FYI-Marshmallow Peeps are by far the best Easter candy!)
Worship Big!


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Moving Forward

    As you know by now, we are going to 3 services soon.  In fact, we'll be trying it out for the first time on Easter Sunday.  I don't know about you, but it's hard to believe it's already spring and Easter is just next week.  I know that the 3 services has been the hype here lately, and I knew that we were going to try this out on April 5th, but let me tell you, it has really crept up on me.  With the completion of our last album, starting with MuliTracks in a couple of weeks, learning multiple instruments for each song, we have been in full swing.  But, you know what?  I'm excited.  I can't wait to speed everything up that much faster.  It only means that God is moving and that He has something in store.  I believe His people are always excited to see what He is going to do; and personally, that's where I am with this.  

    To add to the list, we are trying out an app called "OnSong".  Basically, it's an app to virtually eliminate the need for paper chord charts and folders.  Also, when ran from an iPad, it's much more subtle on stage than a big music stand.  In it, you have the ability to make your own notes, customize colors, create set lists, change keys, etc.  You can even operate it with a foot pedal so it's hands free.  I think it will be a great addition to the technology we're using already, not to mention the fact that it will tremendously cut down on preparation time before rehearsals and services begin.

    Something else I'm excited about is song writing.  With everything else going on, we've decided to wait until next year to cut another record and focus on song writing this year.  For the next album we do, we want to include songs we've written and arranged on the album along with new material from other groups.  Waiting until next year to begin another project will work out well because this way, we can spend much longer writing and arranging our own material, ensuring we can give it the attention needed instead of having to jam it into a couple of months.  Since this will be a representation of our church and more importantly Jesus, I'm glad the decision to wait was made so we can create the best material possible. 

    Again, even though things are in full swing and will only get faster in the very near future, I'm eager to see where we're headed and I believe our church feels the same way.  God will bless a body of believers that point people to His Son and at the end of the day, that is our focus and purpose.



Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Three Services? Wow! (A Praise Team Member's Perspective Who's Been There)

So, what did you think when you first heard that we were going to three services?  Excited? Bewildered? Amazed? Didn’t know what to think?

To be honest with you, I’m pretty excited.  It’s an absolute joy to see this kind of growth.  I grew up here in Wilkesboro, probably just over a five-minute drive to MPBC.  I always thought of Mount Pleasant as the little church on the hill.  I could have never predicted that Mount Pleasant would grow into what it currently is.

This brings us to where we are today: Three services starting in October 2015!  Unlike many in our church, I’ve been a part of a church that’s run three services on Sunday morning before.  What was it like?  I look back on those years as a time of excitement; it was such a whirlwind of activity, it’s all a little blurry to be honest.  It was a lot of music playing, a lot of practicing, and a lot of foot traffic.  It was also quite a bit of running ragged and chaotic at times.  All in all, it was a great experience.  However, I think what made it so difficult was when the old 80/20 rule was blown out of the water.  If you haven’t heard about this rule, it basically states that 20% of the church does 80% of the work.  In my experience when there is growth, the stats begin to shift…but not in a positive way.  I think sometimes a church may end up with an 85/15 or even a 90/10 rule.  Why? Because many of the members don’t step up.  I realize you may be busy.  I am too.  We all are.  We are all only given 24 hours a day.  When I was growing up, my parents were busy, but sure enough I was at church at least three times a week without fail.  My mom was a school teacher, and my dad worked two jobs.  Here’s the thing – they MADE the time to serve and instilled this in me.  Parents, how are you instilling working for God’s kingdom in your kids?  Just something for you and me both to think about…

Being shorthanded at church works for a while…but it’s short-lived.  People will eventually burn out, and no one is immune to it.  I’ve seen it, and I personally have experienced it firsthand.  While some recover, unfortunately some do not.  At one point in my life, I went several years without playing any sort of music in church because I was so burned out on the whole thing.  I got over it, but it took a while.

So, here’s an honest look at the current state of affairs (Well, as I see it anyways.). Our church is growing, and those of us who are already involved are working pretty hard, and it’s only going to get harder.  As time progresses, the kitchen staff will serve more people.  Ushers will greet more members and visitors.  Sunday school teachers will teach to more people.  The praise team will be getting to church earlier, practicing more (both at church and at home), and staying later on Wednesday nights. Those that direct traffic will deal with an increased volume of vehicles coming in and out of the parking lot.  Custodial staff will have more to clean.  From my perspective, I think that it’s safe to say that the current 20% is being stretched.  A lot.  With our growth (and the basic rules of percentages), our 20% is probably starting to shrink.

Is this a complaint?  Absolutely not.  It’s a charge.

To you.

“For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

If you have been attending our church and enjoy our services and programs, and yet you are not involved, I challenge you to do a few things:

1. Pray. Ask God where he wants you.  Ask God to put a burning desire in your heart to serve in a specific capacity.  When He puts the desire in your heart to do something and you choose to take steps to do it, you will serve Him with gladness, and it will show!  There’s nothing better than serving the Lord.

2. Ask.  Ask those in leadership if there are any specific needs, and better yet, ask if they foresee any needs in the foreseeable future as our church starts to grow.  We need (or are going to need) additional Sunday school teachers, people to work in the kitchen, volunteers for chicken-ques, choir members, praise team members, greeters, traffic patrol, help setting up tables and chairs every week, ushers, drama team members, etc.  We also have seasonal positions that open up every years (e.g. flag football/cheerleading, passion play, etc.)  For more information, http://mpbc.ws/getinvolved/ or sign up for our Get Involved weekly newsletter.  Through your involvement, you can have a direct impact on people’s lives and make a difference. 

3. Talk.  If you want to help in serving the church, begin by talking to people!  It’s so easy for new visitors to get lost in the shuffle; however, just taking 10 seconds to get to know someone’s name and his or her family will work wonders to help people feel a sense of belonging.  It takes a while for people to get connected in church, so talk to those around you.  If you greet and talk to just one person you don’t know, you ARE making an impact.  As a matter of fact, Marci and I didn’t start attending because of anyone in leadership; we started attending because a couple of members invited us.  Just like you.

4. Unable to work?  We can still use you!  Even if you are physically unable to work within the church, we covet your prayers.  Pray for the lost.  Pray for your lost friends and family members.  Pray for wisdom and endurance for your pastors.  Pray for safety every Sunday morning.  Pray for the person that serves you food.  Pray for the people you see stacking chairs and hauling tables.  Say a kind word of encouragement to those who are greeting.  Wave and smile at those directing traffic. Make a point to go speak to three people you don’t know before or after service.  Your ministry is just as important as anyone else’s.

It’s a great time to be a part of Mount Pleasant.  People, it’s time to move.  Take it from someone who has been down this road before.  It’s going to be up to YOU to make this work.  So, what do you plan to do?


Monday, March 9, 2015

My Escape

At the age of seven, I was playing on the monkey bars, as any child would do.  I was trying to show myself that I could easily skip the first monkey bar by jumping to the second bar.  As I jumped, my hand slipped, and I fell to the ground.  A kind lady, that was walking by calmly asked if I was okay, and without looking at my arm, I said I was.  The lady kept looking at my arm, so I looked down at my arm.  I instantly screamed to the very top of my lungs.  As a seven year old, I said it looked as if my elbow moved to the top of my arm.  My mom and dad and many others came running.  Someone called 911, and the ambulance arrived after what seemed like forever.  I remember riding in the ambulance, and asking why they did not turn the sirens on.  Of course, they did not know how serious the situation was.   

I arrived at Wilkes Regional Medical Center, and they tried to set my arm back in place long enough for the ambulance to rush me to Brenner's Children's Hospital.  When I arrived at the hospital, they were unable to find a pulse in my arm with an ultrasound.  They made the hasty decision to perform surgery on my arm.  My parents began to pray during that time.  The doctor called them during the surgery, and told them that they may have to amputate my dominant (left) arm.  They were able to save it with the amazing touch of God's hand.  I was in the hospital for a couple of days, and then they sent me home.  

 After a week, we went back to the pediatric orthopedic surgeon, for an x-ray, as well as a follow up.  They immediately noticed that my bone had slipped out of place again.  They informed my parents that I would have to be back at Brenner's the next morning at 6:00 a.m. for another surgery.  While performing the surgery, the doctors realized that I had something called Compartment Syndrome.  This is a condition resulting from increased pressure within a confine body space, especially of the leg or forearm.  As a result, I was left with a drain in my arm to decrease the pressure.  I was in a cast for six weeks.  After six weeks, the much anticipated day had come, the day I would get my cast removed.  I remember being scared to death when they were cutting my cast with such a tapering utensil.  They told me, as well as my parents, that I would never write again, so I learned to write with my right hand.  I was placed in physical therapy for three months to reverse the nerve damage in my arm.   

The next summer, I began taking piano lessons.  The teacher would tell my mom that I was struggling, and that she could tell I was in excruciating pain, especially while playing chords.  I wanted to keep taking piano lessons even though it hurt immensely. It has been six years since I broke my arm.  I have added many instruments such as violin, mandolin, guitar, and a little banjo :).  I continue to have many struggles with my arm.  Playing the violin and piano hurt more than other instruments.  

I called this treacherous experience, my wall.  This wall is not the same as a structure made of sheetrock.  This wall was emotional, mental, and physical.  I found the door or escape to my wall.  My door is music.  Music was and still is my escape.  I have come so far with the touch of God's guiding hand!  I could not play chords at all due to my arm.  Now, I am playing chords almost every Sunday.  That shows what a magnificent God we serve!  I give all the glory to God for my talents. Here are a couple of my favorite verses:

      Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)
      Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them.  For the LORD your God goes with you;  He will never leave you nor forsake you. 

      Psalm 100:1-3 (NIV)
      Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.  Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.  Know that the LORD is God.  It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.



Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Did Jesus Worship?

Have you ever been thinking about a topic or subject, but it was so deep, you couldn’t wrap your mind around it?  And the more you tried, the worse it got, until it started to make your head hurt?  That happened to me recently.  I was reading a book about worship and it asked the question, “How did Jesus worship?”  OK, that doesn’t seem too difficult.  Jesus was raised in a Jewish home.  I’m sure that He was taught to worship the Lord like all good Jewish boys and girls were.  But the more I thought about it, another question popped into my head: 

Did Jesus even need to worship?

Hear me out.  If Jesus and God are one (John 10:30), then wouldn’t worshiping God be considered worshiping Himself.  That seems rather self-centered, but at the same point in time, if ever someone had a reason to be self-centered, it was Jesus.  But, Jesus wasn’t all about Himself.  He was about exalting His Father, and so I believe He worshiped God.  But by worshiping God, He was still sort of worshiping Himself.  It’s kind of a big circle.  See why this gave me a headache?

But, after reading/studying/thinking some more, here is what I finally settled on:

1. Jesus did worship.  In his encounter with the Samaritan woman in John 4, Jesus said “You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.”  Did you catch that?  He said “we worship”.  He was a part of the “we”.  He participated in the worship of God.  That’s pretty cool!

2. While Jesus had every right to exalt Himself, He did the very opposite.  Philippians 2:5-8 says “Christ Jesus:  Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death-even death on a cross!”  Jesus was totally and completely about doing His Father’s will.  His humility and submission to His Father knew no bounds!  And because of this, I believe that worshiping God was easy for Jesus, with no self-centered exalting involved.

So, those are my deep thoughts for this week.

Worship Big!