Monday, October 26, 2015

Are We There Yet?

We all went on trips when we were younger, and one of the main questions on our mind was “are we there yet?” No matter how far we were traveling, whether it was 15 miles or 300, that one question was always asked. I can only imagine how annoying it can be for parents to keep hearing the same question over and over again. I know from experience that my parents were not too fond of that question. So my dad, being the resourceful man he is, found a way to keep us from asking every 50 miles “are we there yet?”

For the curious parents out there that may have experienced the certain annoyance from your children asking the preverbial question, this is how my dad kept my sister and I from constantly asking.  He had recently read an article online that was entitled something like “Tips for the Traveling Family.” One of the main tips was about the question “are we there yet?” The article said to give your kids quarters. Yes, quarters. Each family could decide on a certain amount of money. Whatever you felt was necessary. My parents determined that five dollars was a reasonable amount. At the time five dollars was a lot of money to me. The catch to receiving the quarters was that if you asked “are we there yet,” you had to pay a quarter. Of course as a child I was not going to lose the money I had been given. Therefore my sister and I NEVER asked “are we there yet?”

I am sure by now you are all wondering what the point is to this slight look into my childhood. Well I have personally been dealing with God’s timing in my life. We all use the metaphor of God being in the driver’s seat of a car and we are on the passenger side. No matter what you are dealing with in life, we all question God’s timing. Sometimes while in the car of life I want to look at God and just ask “are we there yet?” Recently I was looking for a job, and nothing seemed to be working out. I know God had to be getting tired of me praying and asking “are we there yet?” In the long run his timing is always perfect and will continue to be. I now have a job and truly love it, but I will say that I am glad God doesn’t give us quarters that we have to pay every time we ask “are we there yet?”

As followers of Christ we have to have faith that while riding in the car with God he has our best interest in mind. Even if we have to take the back roads, which always take longer, He has a reason for leading us the way he does in life. I just pray that I will stop asking “are we there yet?”, and just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Much Love


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Bethel - Ever Be

A couple of weeks ago, I came across Bethel Music's new album, titled "We Will Not Be Shaken". To be honest, I really don't listen to a ton of Bethel stuff, but I always like to hear new music being put out.  My favorite song on that album is called "Ever Be".  This song just does it for me musically and I really like the lyrics.  To me, it sums up not only what we mean to God, but also our response to the love that He has for us.  As Christians, we always talk about our "level of devotion" to God, but this song spins it.  The first line mentions the devotion that God has towards us.  It's not terribly often that I hear a new worship song that just makes me think, but this one did that.  So, I'll have the lyrics below and the music video for you to listen to.  Hopefully you will enjoy it in the same way that I did!



"Ever Be"

Your love is devoted like a ring of solid gold
Like a vow that is tested like a covenant of old
Your love is enduring through the winter rain
And beyond the horizon with mercy for today

Faithful you have been and faithful you will be
You pledge yourself to me and it's why I sing

Your praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips
Your praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips

You father the orphan, Your kindness makes us whole
You shoulder our weakness and Your strength becomes our own
You're making me like You, clothing me in white
Bringing beauty from ashes, You will have Your bride

Free of all her guilt and rid of all her shame
And known by her true name and it's why I sing

You will be praised, You will be praised 
With angels and saints we sing, worthy are You Lord

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A New Revelation of Jesus

One of the great things about worship is that Jesus can show up at any time.  And many times He shows up in a way that we didn’t expect Him to.  And that’s what this week’s post (devotion) is going to be about.  And to do so, we’re going to look at an experience of the Apostle John in the book of Revelation, chapter 1.
9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.

Here we see the Apostle John, and he is having a rough time in life.  Historians tell us that he is probably in his early to mid 80’s at this time.  He has gotten in trouble with the Roman Emperor Domitian for teaching and preaching the gospel.  Domitian initially tried to kill him by boiling him in oil.  But it didn’t work.  John suffered no physical harm.  And so, Domitian exiles him to this island called Patmos to work in the marble quarries.

John’s description of where he is located is very telling.  If he were somewhere well known, he would have just said, for example, “I’m in Rome”.  But he didn’t, because he’s stuck on this island that no one knows about.  And no one knows about it, because there’s nothing there.  Not then, not now.  Currently, there are cruise ships that will take you to Patmos for 3-6 hour visits.  Do you know why?  Because it is mentioned right here in the book of Revelation (the cave where John received this revelation is the highlight of the tour).  So John describes it as the island called Patmos.  He is stuck in this place called Patmos.
Like John, are you stuck somewhere today?  His was called Patmos.  What is yours called?  Is it called depression?  Or worry?  Or fear?  Is it a place called lost or lonely?  What’s it called?

We are all somewhere. 

I want you to know that you are not alone.  John writes that he is our brother in tribulation (suffering).  He suffered just like we do.  And our suffering unites us together.  We are all a part of the family of God and we all suffer together.  We are all brothers and sisters in good times and bad.  Wherever you are, you are not alone.

But suffering doesn’t just unite us with each other.  It also unites us with Jesus.  Suffering makes us more like Him.  

So, here is John, on this island called Patmos, probably thinking he was going to die here.  An elderly man, working in a mine with a pick-ax doesn’t sound like someone with much of a future.  I’m sure he was down and needed something or someone to give him a little bit of hope.

10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”
12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. 19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. 20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

There’s lots of good stuff here with the voice like a trumpet and the seven churches and the seven lampstands, and Jesus walking in the midst of the lampstands and what that means, but I want us to jump to verse 13.

John writes that he saw one “like” a son of man.  Jesus’ favorite name for himself was “son of man”.  So, this was Jesus.  And John knew Jesus.  He was one of Jesus’ first disciples.  He’s the one disciple who was present at the cross.  He knew what Jesus looked like.  He knew what Jesus sounded like.  But this Jesus was different.  He was “like” a son of man, but He was so much more.  He was dressed differently, his eyes burned like fire, his hair was white like snow, his feet were bronze, and his voice was like the sound of many waters. 

When John was at his lowest, Jesus showed up.  And He didn’t show up in a way that John had ever seen before.  This was a new revelation of Jesus.  And when we are down, when we are at our lowest, what we truly need is a new revelation of Jesus.  

Now this next part is my favorite.  John sees Jesus and just drops to the ground as though he were dead.  But then Jesus lays his right hand on John and says “Fear not”.  His right hand!  The same hand that one verse earlier is holding stars is now touching John!  Even Jesus in this glorified state (white hair, eyes of flames) is still full of compassion. 

Then Jesus says, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”

Considering his age and being exiled to work in a mine, John was probably very aware of death and how close he was to it.  So, Jesus says, don’t worry about death.  Not only have I overcome death, I’ve got the keys to it.  I was thinking about this, and while every once in a while I do think about my own mortality, I’m not really scared of death.  But there are things in my life that scare me to death.  The health and safety of my family being the biggest ones.  Yours might be different.  But I believe Jesus is telling us that whether we’re scared of death or just scared to death, “Fear not, because I’ve got the keys to death and I have overcome it”. 

But maybe death and fear aren’t the places you are in.  Maybe your life just feels like a living Hades.  It’s overwhelming and exhausting and you don’t know what to do.  I want you to know that Jesus says “Fear not, I’ve got the keys to Hades as well and I have overcome it”.

Through Christ we can overcome anything.  We are conquerors and we can be victorious!

And I believe that the first step in overcoming is to have a fresh revelation of Jesus.  And for me, worship is one of the best ways to see Jesus and experience Him in new and refreshing ways.  And so I hope the next time you have the opportunity to worship, you'll take advantage of it.  Because you never know when Jesus will show up.

Worship Big!


Monday, October 5, 2015

I Don't Feel Like Doing This

Can I be honest?  I’ve been feeling a lot like what the title states for the past couple of months.  Many Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings have come and gone, and I’ve not really had the best attitude in the world towards playing music at church.  However, after doing this for close to 20 years of my life, I know that this is just a season and it will pass eventually; it always does. I have been so incredibly busy outside of church, it’s difficult to get excited about much of anything these days…and yet I still do it…even if I don’t feel like it or have the best attitude about it.  

Whenever confronting these feelings, the following verse comes to mind, especially in playing music:

"Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs."  (Psalm 100:2)

If you are like me, you may have grown up singing the hymn “Serve the Lord with Gladness.” With sermons and songs written about doing this, it has always bothered me whenever I sort of don’t feel like “doing church” on certain days.  At this point in this blog, if you are rolling your eyes and muttering phrases like “Get over it,” “I work harder than he does, and I’m happy serving all of the time,” “First-world problems,” or “I never get tired of serving my church in my ministry,” this blog is not for you.  Please stop reading, and I hope you have an amazing day!

If you ever feel yourself burning out or sometimes growing weary of doing your ministry at church, keep reading.

Before I go any further, yes, I realize and know that it’s an honor and a privilege to play on the praise team, and I know not to take it for granted.  Also, I feel extremely blessed to live in a country where we can go to church without having to hide (but if we did, I have a big basement…and a PA system…and guitars…and a drum set…and chairs.  Just sayin’…).  With that said, I’m sorry if I don’t feel like skipping across the parking lot at 7:30am every Sunday.  It’s just hard some days, you know?

Here’s where the problem for me lies: It’s been drilled into my head and into my heart for so many years that those of us in leadership-type positions have to be really, really happy whenever we show up to church every week. I’ve been indoctrinated in the idea that if we aren’t practically turning cartwheels whenever we enter the church building, there is something wrong with us.  Somewhere along the way, I accepted the idea that it’s downright sinful to not be happy while serving.  If you have ever felt guilty of feeling a little burned out in your particular ministry, may I be so bold and say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with you.  How am I to judge your feelings?  Your pain?  Your exhaustion?

So, what does the Bible say? I looked up verses regarding being a servant trying to figure all of this out.  You know what I found?  Besides the Psalm 100 verse written above, I don’t know if there are many other verses out there that deal with serving the Lord with gladness.  Instead of “being happy,” other words seem to be pretty common in regards to being a servant:  Righteousness, honor, love, trust, goodness, faithful, blessing, friend, etc.  When it comes to servanthood, the last I checked the goal is for Jesus to say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”  I don’t think that there’s an additional clause that states “…but you should have been happier.”  Thanks to His omnipresence, He sees what we do.  While a lot of the time a byproduct of being a servant is happiness and fulfillment, I’d rather shoot for faithfulness, loyalty, and friendship with God.

I love my daughter, and I’ve never been loved by someone in this world the way that she loves me.  We have a great relationship, and I hope to keep it that way.  We are open and honest with each other, and she has become a tremendous helper to our house.  Whenever I’m working on something, she is ALWAYS the first to ask, “Can I help?”  At least a few times a week, I have to ask her to clean her room.  While there is a certain level of satisfaction after she’s done, her personal satisfaction (or happiness) is not the point of my asking her; I ask her to do it because I need it to get done.  She does not feel like it a lot of the time, but she does it because it’s the right thing to do.  She does it because she was asked.  She does it because she is loyal.  Most of all, she does it because she loves her dad.  There’s a real deep pride that I have whenever my kids do things that they don’t want to do, and yet they do them anyways.  I think of this whenever I’m dragging on Sunday mornings or when I pull into the parking lot on Wednesday nights straight from work, knowing that I won’t be getting home until about 10:30 that night.  

Sure, there is some satisfaction after playing a good set.  It makes me happy to see other people worshipping, and I enjoy the people that I play with.  With that said, I don’t play to entertain at church.  I don’t sit at home and practice a few hours every week just because it’s fun.  

I don’t play drums at church because it makes me happy all of the time.
I play drums at church because I love my Dad, and He asked me to.  I really want to make Him proud.