Whenever I pay cash for something I get the change back and put it in my pocket. I can honestly say that nine times out of ten I don’t use this change to pay for anything. It goes back into a jar in my house and I don’t see it again until I’m really strapped for cash (that’s when you know you’re desperate!).
The thing about the change is that I don’t really believe it to be worth anything significant, so I treat it as such. You can imagine my surprise when I dip into my change jar and find thirty, forty, if not fifty dollars in it. I guess it adds up after all.
If you smell an analogy coming you’re right on track. The same applies to the “little” things in our lives. If I am trying to budget my money, the quickest thing that will ruin me is a disregard for the “little” purchases. In the same way, when I budget my time or my energy, it is equally destructive for me to forget about the little things. Continue reading “The Little Loose Changes”
Talking with some very dear friends this week (who may be reading this now), I was reminded of the importance of remembering the defining moments in your life, especially as you make decisions about how to best thrive in the future. Dan Reiland, one of our church leaders whom I greatly respect, says that everything that you have to offer (if you want it to be effective) must be grounded in your conviction and your calling. Staying focused on what you’ve been called to do will help keep you on track as you strive to influence others and attain all that God has for you.
This reminds me of two stories that really define who I am…
I was fifteen years old and on a Christian retreat in the Georgia mountains. I had spent the last year in what I’d say was a pretty significant spiritual awakening process in my life. I was learning to play the guitar and discovering the wonder of serving in worship ministry. There was a moment one evening during that retreat where all of the guys participating were gathered into a room and we sat in front of a four-foot wooden carving of the crucifix while the gruesome details of crucifixion were read to us. I had grown up hearing the story of Jesus’ death, but not like this. The group leader went to great extent to show us the physical suffering that Jesus endured on the cross. The crucifixion is without a doubt the most cruel method of execution ever conceived, and Jesus stepped into history and died by it.
After the meeting was over, there were a few of us left in the room lingering and thinking about what we had heard and continuing to worship and pray. I remember standing in front of that cross and saying to God “Just tell me what you want me to do!” I had grown tired of the hiding and doubting and guessing. I just wanted a straight answer. I got one. Continue reading “Remember Your Moments”
I have been watching the old TV show “Columbo” starring Peter Falk. I have to admit I love the show, and I don’t really know why. I just love the way Falk’s character uses his perceived simplicity and stupidity to his advantage. He is really a brilliant and observant man. He can outsmart even the most ingenious criminal while appearing to be bumbling around aimlessly. Maybe I just hope that my bumbling around is really that smart! Continue reading “Preoccupied with the Bad Guys”
I was recently reading some passages of scripture and I found myself asking questions. Lots of questions. I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
Specifically, I was reading the story in Mark chapter 5 about the woman who was healed of her bleeding. Jesus was on his way to heal the daughter of a man named Jairus, a leader of the synagogue. While en route to the man’s house, a large crowd was apparently traveling with him, pressing in on him from every side. These people had heard of or seen the miracles Jesus was performing and wanted to be there to witness the next one.
Meanwhile, there’s a woman who had spent all of her money going to doctors for the past twelve years trying to find a cure for her bleeding. She had heard of Jesus and thought to herself, “If I could just get close to him and touch the hem of his robe, I will be healed.”
Think about it. This woman’s condition was completely devastating. It made her unable to participate in community worship (because she would be ceremonially unclean), and it disqualified her from getting married. Imagine her desperation! No wonder she fought her way through the crowd to get to Jesus. And her faith made all the difference. She touched the hem of Jesus’ robe and was immediately healed. Continue reading “Imaginative Questions”
How do you fold towels? You may not spend much time thinking about the answer to that question, but it is true that people fold their towels differently. If you are married, you know this.
When I got married and started the daily tasks of keeping up the house with my wife, we had a small discrepancy in how to fold the towels. Now it never turned into a big argument or anything, but I was used to folding the towels once long ways, and again short ways, and again long ways so the towel becomes a square about one fourth its original size. My wife prefers the fold that goes once long ways, once short ways, and then the towel is rolled up to a little tube shape and goes on the shelf that way. I didn’t really see that it made any difference, but I of course did what any married man would do and said “Yes dear.” It took me a while before the new folding method became natural to me, and at first I hated it. I wanted the old way of folding back! But eventually I became a pretty good “roll-folder” and moved on with life. Continue reading “Change Is Always Hard”
When you are responsible to lead people, to get something done, or to produce an outcome, how do you respond to that outcome? Your response reveals what truly motivates you.
I lead people in teams to lead worship, I work to develop people under me and help them grow, and I work to develop people outside my own area of leadership. As you may have experienced, the span of people’s response to me can be really wide. I have learned that how I respond to both positive and negative results is one of the greatest ways to reveal my heart. Continue reading “What motivates your response to people?”
If you’re familiar with the song “All My Fountains” by Chris Tomlin/Passion, you know that there is a very cool clapping part that accompanies the song. The song comes from a verse in Psalm 87:7 talking about the songs the people of God will sing in Zion (the city of God). I love it!
If you are at all rhythmically challenged, you might enjoy this little video explaining the different ways you can clap along with this song. Enjoy!*
“All My Fountains” by Chris Tomlin
This dry and desert land
I tell myself, “Keep walking on”
Hear something up ahead
Water falling like a song
An everlasting stream
Your river carries me home
Let it flow, let if flow
A flood for my soul
A well that never will run dry
I’ve rambled on my own
Never believing I would find
An everlasting stream
Your river carries me home
Let it flow, let it flow
Open the heavens
Come Living Water
All my fountains are in You
You’re strong like a river
Your love is running through
All my fountains are in You
Come on, and rain down on us
Rain down on us, Lord
* (Please note, while I do have HUGE hands, the fact that I’m holding them closer to the camera makes them look bigger than my head. Don’t be a hater!)
As a “first worshiper” (worship leader), one of the most important things I can do is to try to help people understand what worship is. This is a seemingly simple task that can be very challenging because, no matter how much I explain it, nothing will happen if the people I lead don’t take action themselves. It’s like trying to explain swimming to a person. There is only so much information you can absorb before you have to get into the water and go for it. Worship is both simple and deep which makes any effort to define it either trite or laborious.
Despite these challenges, here is one definition you may have heard me or someone else use before:
Worship is when we honor God for who he is, for what he has done, and when we say yes to his invitation.
I would love to expound on each of these three parts, but that might take a while. The most important thing about the first two is that they involve our acknowledgement and our adoration for God’s attributes and actions. Today I would like to focus more extensively on the third part of the definition, our response to God. Continue reading “How To Respond To God”
I was talking to some friends recently about what makes for a successful day in leadership. I have the great privilege of leading worship for several different groups of people on a regular basis so I often walk away thinking about what could have been different. I am always curious about the different responses I get in different scenarios.This applies to any kind of leadership, inside or outside of the church. Have you ever wondered what you could have done differently to make that presentation land better? To lead that meeting in a way that connected with people and added value to them? What’s the secret?
There are certainly more variables than I would ever want to keep track of, but it is interesting how preparation can help or hinder me when I am leading people. I want to be as prepared as possible to lead people but it doesn’t always seem to be the determining factor. Sometimes it seems like my best days are those that I feel overwhelmed and incapable of leading. At other times I feel like all my preparation made no difference in winning people over and successful leading them.
Have you noticed that to be true? Try to think about something you have leadership over on a regular basis (you have something, trust me), particularly something that requires preparation ahead of time. Isn’t it a mystery what makes it work well? For me I feel miles away from figuring it out. As a worship leader, I can pray and prepare and get fired up and go into a service thinking that the roof is going to get blown off of the place. Sometimes my sense of expectation was right, but many times I can walk away wondering what I missed. On the other hand, I sometimes go into a service feeling down and distracted, only to look up and see the entire congregation enthusiastically engaging in the songs of worship. This can be really irritating, especially when I try to come up with the best formula for leading people well. The problem with formulas is that they rarely work when people are involved.
While I don’t have it all figured out, I have learned a couple things at this point in my journey. First, worship of God is not formulaic but relational. It is a purely human tendency to try and reduce God to a + b = c. We have a difficult time letting mystery be mystery and relating to God for who and what he is, God in three persons (with personality traits much like our human relationships). Second, the defining nature of my approach to God must be humility if it is going to produce any kind of reward. This is the key to success. Continue reading “The Key to Success”
I have been thinking recently about the word passion. Passion. What a great word. It is such a strong sounding word, full of a wide spectrum of meanings. What do you think of when you hear that word? It could be anything from the story of Jesus to a piece of classical music. But what you probably think of first is what most people think of: very strong feelings, emotions, or desires.
If you look up passion in the dictionary, you will in fact find that it means strong emotion. But if you look down in the fine print (if it’s there), you’ll find that it comes from the Latin root word pati which means “suffer.” That sounds about right doesn’t it? Strong emotions are often the cause of great suffering! Someone once told me that the definition of passion is not what you like strongly, but what you will suffer for. I like that definition. Continue reading “Both Sides of Passion”