I am pleased to announce that the band and I will be on tour for four weeks this summer! We will once again be joining Never The Same (NTS) for three of the four weeks. We recorded our soon to be released live worship project with them last summer. Be on the lookout for the live video's we shot last year as well. Great Stuff! We will also be returning to New Camp in Dayton, TN. Can't wait to see you all!!!
Never The Same
[caption id="attachment_665" align="alignleft" width="305" caption="Dave Ramsey Kicks Off 2010 Insider's View"]
I normally wouldn't pass this kind of link on for fear of looking like I'm boasting but I'm pretty excited to be mentioned in the same series as Dave Ramsey.
This month I get to speak as a guest lecturer and sing at two of the colleges I attended, Cedarville and Belmont. In God's humor I never graduated from either one, HA! Just wanted to share my joy, thanks for celebrating with me.
Love you all,
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Hey everyone, I know I’ve been away for a few weeks but there are good reasons for that. I have been off line entirely, not just my blog. I have needed some clarity on some decisions that are still in process and felt it necessary to remove the mental clutter that often takes up a lot of the free space on my mental hard drive. More on that later.
Today I thought I would share a thought I’ve been chewing on lately. I recently heard someone say that they felt that perhaps they were in the midst of a “season of preparation”. In particular they were sharing this in light of the way they felt like their life was on hold, as if they had been put on pause. While the scripture makes clear in various places, Ecclesiastes 3 being the most popular, that there are times and seasons, I think it is important to keep our perspective clear.
There is never a season of preparation or waiting that was not previously prepared for in a past season.
(Pause, read that again. Ready? Ok). Simply said, every today is yesterday’s tomorrow. You have only now in this moment to live. While we diligently prepare for tomorrow we can’t be sure it will ever come and it is arrogant of us to assume that the Lord will gift us with it. James 4:13-17 says this very thing, our life is a vapor and we should not assume we will do this or that, but rather say “if the Lord wills it we will live...” I think that’s why James concludes this thought with verse 17, “To the one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to them it is sin.” James is saying that now is the only moment we’ve got. If we keep waiting in anticipation for a better or future time we will never do the right thing. If we know what’s right and don’t do it right now, that’s sin, because now is the only future we’ve got.
The Apostle Peter addresses this same thing in his second letter. He talks about how the character and qualities of Christ and how they should be increasing gradually in each of us as believers. Then he says this in verse 8, “If these qualities are yours and increasing they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” As we are becoming more and more like Christ, no matter what season we find ourselves in spiritually, whether spring, summer, fall or the coldest of winters, we are always useful and full of purpose.
Where are you? Are you struggling with your sense of purpose, like all of us do from time to time? Do you feel like maybe your life is in a holding pattern? Take heart and know that your Heavenly Father doesn’t waist anything! Even though you may be struggling now, know that the Lord has prepared you for this moment as much as He is using it to prepare you for the next. There is LIFE in this moment, right now. Embrace it, drink deeply of it, even if it stings and know that even in the toughest of times we can still bear fruit, we still have a destiny in Christ. Even as we have been prepared for this moment so this moment has been prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10). We have a work to do right here, right now! We have not been forgotten about, we have not been left on the shelf!
Let us resolve again to pursue our Heavenly Father, to wade into the deeper waters of His love. As His character is revealed in us we may find that this is the moment we’ve been waiting for all along.
In 2005 I spent about six weeks in South Africa. I had been brought over with a group of American musicians to help lead and teach worship to university students and to churches in both Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. It was an amazing trip to say the least. We met one of Nelson Mandela’s closest officials and had tea in his home. He then personally escorted us on a tour of the bush and a wild game preserve where we saw giraffe, rhino, elephants and countless wonders you read about in story books from the time your in diapers. It was like nothing I have ever done before or since.
About three days before the end of the trip we were told a surprise had been lined up for us. We loaded in a van before the sun rose and proceeded “over the river and through the woods” until we arrived at a little house on a remote beach on the coast of the Indian Ocean. We were told that we didn’t have to participate but if we wanted to, we were being presented a very rare opportunity.....shark diving. Not just any sharks mind you but Great White’s! It was just like what you’d see on the Discovery Channel. You get in a metal cage over the side of a boat and float, surrounded by bait, until the shark comes along and in an attempt to eat the bait scares you half to death. Well if you know me then you know I couldn’t wait to get in that cage. It was surreal!!! I loved every minute of it and hope to do it again someday with my family.
Once I came back to America people asked about my trip: How was it? What did you do? Did you have a good time? Wow, I was overwhelmed, not by there questions so much but by how to answer them. I mean, what do you say when someone asks you what it’s like to stand 30 feet away from wild giraffe or float in a cage with Great White sharks literally inches from my face? What words do you use to describe that? Nothing I could’ve said could communicate everything I’d felt. But when I met someone who had been to South Africa the conversation was entirely different. There was very little said, it was mostly understood. They would say things like, “Wasn’t it just awe inspiring?” or “Can you hardly wait to go back?” or “I still haven’t gotten over my trip!” They didn’t ask many questions because they knew. They knew there was nothing I could say to communicate the way the trip had affected me and that perhaps anything I did say might feel like I was cheapening the experience.
That’s exactly what it’s like to try and describe my love for my son. What can I say, what words are there to describe that...feeling, if it is a feeling? How is that quantifiable? How do I make sense of the way I can wake up at 2:00am and miss him when he’s just the next room over? How do you understand the sincerity of my joy when I tell you “he peed on me.... again” like it’s an honor badge? Really, how do I describe that? I don’t know that I can describe it with words but I’ll try to show him, everyday for the rest of his life, just how much I love him by the way I live. Of course I’ll try to tell him, after all I’m a songwriter (words are never in short supply), but it will be the way my love for him causes me to act that will make all the difference.
So how do I describe our Heavenly Father’s love for us, knowing that my love for my son Henry is just a small shadow of the love God has for us? What would I use to measure it? What would I compare it to? I could tell you when I look at the mountains I hear the Father say, “Yeah, my love, it’s big like that” or when I look at the ocean He whispers, “My love for you, it’s wider than that”, but even the mountains and ocean fall short. It’s only when we look at our Heavenly Fathers actions that we even begin to realize just how incomprehensible His love for us really is. It’s only when we realize that His love for us caused Him to give up His own Son’s life, crucified on a cross, so that He might redeem our lives to Himself in exchange for the life of Jesus, that we understand that we cannot understand. There is no measure for that kind of love, there is no comparison.
I thought I had a pretty good understanding of the gospel six weeks ago. Since Henry’s birth however, I am convinced I am clueless. I’ll just be honest; I wouldn’t give up my son’s life for any of you. Yes, I’m that “selfish”, if that’s what you call it. If you don’t have kids it’s not a lot different than asking me about my trip to Africa. Trying to describe my sentiment is futile. For those of you who are parents you know exactly what I’m talking about. I don’t have to defend the way I feel to you. You just get it.
“For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son...”, I understand the value of that statement a little more today than I did six weeks ago, but I’m still a long way off.
I’ll never forget the dumb-founded, stunned feeling Betsy and I shared when we found out we were pregnant. We had only been trying for a month so we were totally shocked at how “effective” our efforts had been. We sat down on the couch next to each other, shoulder-to-shoulder, and just stared off into the unknown future in total silence for what seemed like hours. After the dizziness wore off it was replaced by terror.... “How am I going to pay for this?”
In the months leading up to Henry’s birth I have been amazed at the mantle of responsibility and determination that have increased in my own heart. I still remember where I was when I felt this overwhelming sense of peace and ownership, my heart and mind were changed in a moment. I was no longer afraid of the truth; I was energized by it! I didn’t HAVE to provide....I GOT to provide. From that moment on preparing for his arrival was wonderful. Whether it was putting together the crib, fixing up the house or buying those first diapers, it was a so much fun! If our son was going to need it than we stopped at nothing to provide the best for him that we could.
Throughout the scripture one of the names of the Lord is Jehovah-Jireh. It is often simply translated to mean, “The Lord will provide.” More correctly said it means that the Lord sees our need before it arises and supplies provision for it. In the same way that I, as a father-to-be, began to prepare for my son’s needs before he was even born, so our Heavenly Father prepares for us. The Bible makes it clear that in addition to blessing and gifting us with new life in Christ, as Christians the Lord has also provided good works for us to walk into (Ephesians 2:8-10), and will continue to supply all of our needs.
There were many times in preparing for Henry that the proverbial barrel was empty, we had no idea how we were going to get what we needed and be able to make the bills too. It was a very scary feeling, “what have we gotten ourselves into?!” And then, seemingly out of nowhere, some long-lost relative would send us a check in the mail, or friends would call and say, “Hey, I was gonna throw this away and then I thought of you.” By the time everything was provided and accounted for the only things we actually had to buy were the crib and car seat (safety warnings say these should be purchased new) and a used rocker, everything else was gifted to us. Are heads are still spinning at the incredible generosity of the Lord through the relationships He has given us. God’s hand in providing everything we need has been so evident.
Why did I ever doubt? Maybe I thought it was too much trouble for the Lord? Maybe He would forget about me? Now that I’m a Father I have a different understanding; the Lord doesn’t just provide for us out of a sense of responsibility or because He said He would, it’s his joy to do it! He loves us so much that there is nothing He wouldn’t do, He will spare no expense, not even the life of His only Son, to provide for us everything we need. We can trust Him, He’s our Father, He loves us and He sees our needs before we have them and then reveals his provision in His perfect timing.
As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been asked to do a “Story Behind the Song” post for a website called Singers Club. In addition to “He Is Greater”, which I posted about yesterday, the are also featuring “It’s By Faith” from “Response” in the months to come. Here is another sneak peak.
I still remember hearing the news that my friend and youth leader John had been diagnosed with cancer. I had just returned home from a difficult semester in college. I was exhausted, not only physically but also spiritually. My integrity had not held up as well as I had hoped it would and my heart was full of doubt and questions. Oddly, news of John’s cancer stirred a deep sense of peace in me. I had been here before, twice, with my own mother’s cancer. I knew God in this dimension and I knew I could trust Him. In fact, trusting Him with the big stuff was just a part of life in my family growing up... our story has been pretty dramatic at times.
Why was I such a contradiction? Why is it/had it been so easy to trust God in the big things, in the mountaintop’s and the Red Sea’s, and not with the day-to-day and mundane? Why is it I could stand firm in the face of cancer and cower at the thought of writing a paper or sometimes even getting out of bed? All of these thoughts came raining down on me one afternoon at the piano.
“It’s By Faith”... that was my problem. Faith. Difficult circumstances required faith in order to get through them because I knew I could never make it on my own, but the daily grind was so simple I thought I could handle it alone. The Lord was using this opportunity to teach me that the faith I needed to climb the mountain was the same faith I needed to pour my coffee, that faith is not a switch you turn on and off but that “the just LIVE by faith” (Romans 1:17, Gal 3:11, Heb 10:38).
Is there any area of your life where you have been going it alone? Where maybe intentionally or unintentionally you have postured yourself to not need God?
“Through storms and trials of my own devise He’s never given up. And the farther I go the more I no I can’t escape His love. It’s by faith.”
I've been asked to do a “Story Behind the Song” post for a website called Singers Club.
They hope to offer “He Is Greater”, the 3rd track off of “God In Search of Man”, as a featured download in the months to come. I thought I would give you all an sneak peek before it hits their site.
“My wife and I have had 11 friends go through divorce in the last three years. There have been many tears shed as we have walked with each of them at different levels. There is no consistency among the occurrences; they range from one year married to 28 years of marriage. The reasons are just as varied from outright fraud, to infidelity, to simply not stewarding their relationship and growing a part.
While walking for over a year through the divorce process with one of my best friends and mentors, my heart began to break for him in a way it never had before. There were too many obstacles and too many lies to process; we were overwhelmed. Late one night while praying about it with his son we began to worship the Lord together. Immediately the song just started pouring out of my mouth, “He Is Greater, He Is Higher, and there’s so much love lifting you up, He is Stronger, He Is Greater!” It was a surreal moment. We were both aware the Lord was giving this song as a reminder that no matter what we were facing, no matter how insurmountable the obstacle, He is greater.
How about you? Do you ever feel hopeless? Lost? Listen to the words of the song:
“I don’t know what it’s going to look like or how He will work this for your good. All I know is He is able, He is Faithful!”
Whatever your going through, now matter how bleak the outlook, now matter what the doctors say, no matter how long it’s been, no matter how numb you are.... He Is Greater.
In keeping with yesterday's theme of simplicity here is a simple prayer for your weekend that has captured me lately. Simple but profound.
"Lord, cause me to remember that a life that doesn't please You will never satisfy me."
Unless you missed the news entirely this weekend you know about the enormous storm that blew across the southern half of the United States and finally up the Eastern seaboard. For areas like my home in Tennessee it was a “once a decade” happening. We ended up with 6-10 inches of snow capped with a solid sheet of ice. The Governor called a state of emergency by 12:00 on Friday afternoon and everyone was basically stuck indoors until Sunday afternoon when the ice started to recede. For some folks this induces a state of panic but Betsy and I chose to look at it as an opportunity. We took several looooong walks with the pups, caught up with neighbors we hadn’t seen in quite a while and implemented a “state of emergency movie marathon.” It was awesome!
For quite some time Betsy has been telling me that I just have to watch “Gone With The Wind
” especially now that I’m an official southerner (Michigan transplant). Since it’s four hours long and not exactly a movie you can watch on a whim, this weekend was the perfect opportunity. If you’ve never seen it before I highly recommend you put it on your entertainment to-do list. It’s not only a literary classic but it’s also considered historically accurate by scholars for my fellow history buffs.
The twitter version of the plot is that the story follows the life of Scarlett O’Hara, a southern bell from Georgia, throughout the Civil War and the changes that ensue as a result of the choices she makes. Scarlett’s whole life is wrapped up in chasing what she can’t have. I think it incredibly ironic that the title is “Gone With the Wind” when the plot so closely resembles the words of King Solomon when he says the vanities of life are like “chasing after the wind”. This is the sum of the movie; Scarlett’s life is marked by chasing after the wind.
So my question is this, if someone were to make a movie about our lives what would be the overarching theme or plot? When the credits role what would people walk away with, what would they say we spent most of our time chasing? Relationships, money, the approval of others, power, security? What steps can I take to make sure the message I want to communicate with my life is actually the message others are hearing by my actions?
As many of you know Betsy and I are expecting our first child in May. I am sooooo excited about being a father! I love it when people share with me how “this is gonna change your life” or “you’ll never be the same” or “you will wonder how you could ever love someone so much.” I know they’re right and I can’t wait.
One of the first question people ask us after they find out we’re pregnant is “do you know if it’s a boy or a girl yet?” When we tell them we’ve decided not find out we always get mixed reactions. Some are so grateful we don’t want to know but others are disappointed or confused at why we wouldn’t. Others are down right angry; it’s kind of alarming.
With that in mind I thought I would try and explain our decision because I think it has much bigger implications for our lives as a whole. Let me say first I don’t think there is anything wrong with finding out the sex of your child before it’ s born. That is for each couple to decide. For us we felt it was important not to find out the gender because we don’t want to buy into the illusion of control.
Let me explain, one of the primary reasons people want to know the sex of their child is so they can buy gender specific clothes, toys, etc. They want to know if the nursery bedding should be pink or blue, should it be bunny rabbits or trains. All of this is done in the name of being “properly prepared.” If there is anything I know it’s that you can never be properly prepared for children. There will always be something else: more diapers, formula, snacks, patience, mercy and kindness, etc.
While we are called to do our best to prepare as stewards of this new life it is sin for us to use the busyness of preparation to medicate our fears of inadequacy. Finding out the sex of the child only allows us to feed our fears by removing some of the variables thereby giving us the illusion of control, removing the need for faith. We will never be in control. It’s important that we swallow that pill early on in our relationship with this child. The responsibility of control is reserved for Christ alone. Only He can truly prepare our hearts and homes for this new child and only He can calm our deepest fears. For Betsy and I it’s more important to forego knowing if it’s a boy or a girl in exchange for an increased dependency in Christ.
I got an email today from someone I hadn’t heard from in a long time. I met this person while on the road and we have maybe only corresponded three times. The email was a simple “catching up” letter with no pretense. The just wanted to know how I was doing, tell me how they had been and then encourage me. I’ve been thinking about what they said all day. I really needed it.
Never underestimate the power of a simple word of encouragement.
Who can you “drop a line” and maybe bring a smile? What are some memorable moments of sunshine in your own life?