Shoutout: Kyle Thrasher

I remember very distinctly the day that I first met Kyle. It was three (almost four) years ago when I was helping with the worship in the college ministry and I held an audition for new people to be on the team. There were many people who came and tried out, but only a few really stood above the crowd. Kyle was one of them.

I remember the first thing I thought was “Thrasher. Seriously? What a great name for a drummer (or any musician really).” I was kinda jealous if you really want the truth. But besides having a great name, Kyle showed a high level of skill as a drummer and definitely got the follow-up call asking him to serve with the worship team.

Fast forward a couple of years and Kyle and I had become good friends. He and I had played on teams together a lot and when the time came to open the Flowery Branch campus, I knew that Kyle was one that I wanted to ask to be a core member of our team. So I did, and I’m really glad he said yes. Continue reading “Shoutout: Kyle Thrasher”

Your Most Important Decision

The most important decision you can make in life is to pursue God as your highest treasure.

What begins with faith continues in faith. What begins in salvation continues every day as we pursue Him relentlessly. Choose it again today.

Maybe there are lots of things going on around you. There are likely hundreds of decisions looming above you right now in this moment, waiting for you to move. Maybe you’re wondering what God’s will is, or what it is that He really wants you to do. I’ll tell you: Seek Him first and everything else will be added to you. It doesn’t get any simpler than that, but  I think we make it more complicated because we don’t believe that’s all there is to it. There is no way around it. You have to start there. Stop trying to get it right and focus on knowing God. It’s a much better approach.

God is more concerned with who you are becoming and the depth your relationship with Him than with what you do. What you do comes after what you are, who you are, and who He says that you are. Today, once again, I choose to have knowing Him as my highest goal. I would love for you to do the same.

Don’t Take Yourself for Granted

It is incredibly easy to take things for granted. Maybe it’s just part of our human nature. What we don’t have, we want; what we have, we don’t appreciate. It is really important to fight against this deadly form of complacency. Gratitude is a positive emotion that has hundreds of benefits to your life. If you want what you have you will be a much happier person.

This is also true for your own strengths, knowledge and experiences. The things that you have learned because of what you’ve been through (also called your testimony) have tremendous value when it comes to helping others. Sometimes, like many other things in life, we take our experiences for granted and don’t realize the impact we could have on others simply by sharing what we know. Continue reading “Don’t Take Yourself for Granted”

Tell Your Story

Think of someone you really like to spend time with. What makes that person interesting? They may be encouraging, funny, or smart, but I bet the people you like to be around can tell really good stories.

Maybe this is obvious, but the greatest way to connect with people is by telling stories. Spewing out facts and figures is the quickest and surest way to cause your audience to disconnect with what you’re saying (or put them to sleep). I don’t know why, but as people we are wired to connect with stories, and this affects everything in our lives. Seth Godin, an author/blogger/genius that I love to read/follow said this in his blog today:

Your position on just about everything, including, yes, your salary, your stock options, your credit card debt and your mortgage are almost certainly based on the story you tell yourself, not some universal fact from the universal fact database.

The truth is that stories matter. What you tell yourself matters, and how you communicate to others matters. (But that’s a fact not a story and doesn’t really prove the point.) Continue reading “Tell Your Story”

Instant Results

I’ve just recently started going to the gym again (finally). It’s been several months since my exercise routine has been consistent so it feels good to get back in there and get my workout on. I’m not sure why I put it off for so long. Exercise is funny that way, even though we know it makes us feel good we still don’t want to do it. Go figure.

After an extended hiatus from regular gym attendance, you really feel the difference when you start up again. You’ll feel a higher energy level, better moods, and (perhaps most likely) sore muscles. All have been true for me. I’ve been feeling great since getting back to the gym, but unfortunately these early days aren’t the true test. The real test comes three, six, and twelve months from now. Not sure I’ll still be feeling great about it, but that’s where the rubber meets the road. Rising above feelings and doing what’s best is easier said than done. Continue reading “Instant Results”

Shoutout: Abigail (Pitts) Williams

I first me Abigail in the lobby of 12Stone central campus on a Thursday night before Water’s Edge (the college ministry at church). I remember she was helping set up chairs and I thought “Who is this girl and where did she come from?” It was like she came out of nowhere. Well, I would soon find out.

It wasn’t long before Abigail and my wife Aubrey became close friends. This is interesting because they are very different from each other. But, despite their different personalities, even to this day I think that their friendship is one of the best I’ve ever seen. They are committed, honest with each other, have survived several fights, and they add value to each other with their uniqueness. I’m definitely ok with my wife having a friend like her!

Abigail is person who is a lot of fun to be around. Her history as an actress (a very talented one at that) makes her very comfortable around people and very entertaining. We also share similar family and school backgrounds so I can count on her being on the same page with me most of the time (definitely a rare thing, especially considering the odd pages I’m usually on).

It has been a privilege to see Abigail grow over the past couple of years. Always faithful, dependable, helpful and teachable, she’s not only a friend but a great addition to our team. She has helped me in so many ways, from directing vocalists to singing anything from soul to folk to REALLY old country songs. Since I met her she has not only grown in maturity, but has grown by leaps and bounds as a vocalist and as a leader. We got to watch her step into relationship with a great guy (now her husband) Kevin, and they are both people we love to do life with. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for their future!

So thanks Abigail (and Kevin) for all you do. Keep leaning into who God has made you to do and to be and you will continue to be a huge blessing to everyone around you.

You Never Arrive

I remember one of the first times I led worship in front of a group of people. It was probably around a hundred people or so, but I was pretty nervous. I didn’t think I was nervous, but I was. I was to lead a song called “I See The Lord” and it felt like it was a big moment for me.

The time rolled around in the set for me to start off the song and I went into it with everything I had. I started playing the first measures of the song and I think I even started to sing. I wasn’t sure if everything was going right but I was too nervous to care. The girl leading with me leaned up to the mic and looked at me and said, “Uh, Jonathan… you’re playing the wrong song.”

You see, there are two different songs called “I See The Lord.” One of them is fast with a very aggressive strum pattern, while the other is slow and right in the pocket. The slow one was what we were supposed to play; I was playing the one that we weren’t playing that morning. I was really embarrassed. But I learned 2 important lessons from that day: First, I have to learn to manage myself before I can lead others; second, I will always make mistakes when I step out into something new. Continue reading “You Never Arrive”

Why I Do What I Do

When I was 15 years old my life was not what I wanted it to be. I was unhappy with myself, torn apart by the dissonance that I felt inside because of my conflicting desires. Even thinking about myself then makes me so thankful that God rescued me from that place.

I wanted to please God and do what was right; but I also wanted to do what I wanted, to be self-serving and live without consequences. I couldn’t see how those two things could ever harmonize, and I was right. As people, dualism eats us up inside. There’s no way around it. Continue reading “Why I Do What I Do”

Battle for Choice

One of my favorite lines from J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings occurs during the scene in Moria when Gandalf is talking to Frodo. Frodo wishes that none of the terrible events that led up to that point had ever happened and Gandalf replies, “So do all who see such times but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” Decisions. Choices. Everything depends on them.

I was thinking about this verse in Galations 5: “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” This is one of those simple truths that, if you think about it long enough, either makes a lot of sense or is really confusing. One thing that makes sense to me is not doing the things I want to do. Continue reading “Battle for Choice”

Don’t Kid Yourself

Does the word palliation mean anything to you? Here’s the definition: “The act of trying to mitigate or conceal the gravity of an offense by excuses, apologies, etc.” Ok, excuses, now that’s a word I understand.

Despite the saying that we all have them and they all stink, we all make excuses don’t we? In fact, we probably have a few favorites that get us every time. I was thinking about a few of my favorite excuses. Most of them deal with time, money, and physical fitness, which just so happen to be the top three things that most of us have a hard time controlling. The connection got my attention. Here are the ones that get me:

Fitness:

“I’ll eat at that place, I’ll just have a salad;”

“This dish isn’t that bad for me, it’s got lots of protein;”

“I’ll be exercising soon, I’ll make up for it.”

Really? Let’s be honest, how many times to you sit down to order and the salad looks about as appetizing as a cold fish head? So you go with the burger of course. And what can you not eat a burger without? Fries! And unless you actually exercise every day, you can’t really use that one to justify your choices. But we think that if we tell ourselves it’s ok that it actually is ok. We want to wish away calories and not suffer the consequences. Sorry, doesn’t work that way. Continue reading “Don’t Kid Yourself”