Friday, December 26, 2008

Thank You

The Christmas services are over. What a awesome time. Great message, great music, great people involved. So I would like to take this time to thank those who were part of the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services. To the soloists, awesome job. Each one of you shared your gift to uplift our hearts this Christmas. To the Choir Members, thank you. Your message was great and powerful. To the Bell Ringers, wow! You did great (that week off didn't effect you at all). The bells added to the message. To the kids who sang on Christmas morning, what a touching moment. Thank you. To those who stepped in and sang an extra verse for me while my voice is "leave". Thank you for the quick fill in and your willingness to help. And to the guitarist, thank you for strumming the same pattern over and over again. I know that it wasn't the most exciting part, but very meaningful. It took everyone, not only the musicians. It took the sound managers, powerpoint, readers, jr. ushers, communion assistants, ushers, greeters, and pastor to make these services meaningful. Thank you. The message, the music, the meaning -- all was there. What a wonderful ministry Living Word has.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I Get to Just Listen

I woke up this morning and realized that my voice wasn't working in its normal way. It was a little raspy. My throat didn't hurt but I could tell that my voice wasn't its normal self. I had rehearsal tonight for this weekends worship. Now my voice isn't close to being normal. So what does that mean, well, it means that I won't be doing a lot of talking for the next few days. I get to be quiet and listen. To just listen is really going to be nice. I have an opportunity to listen to the congregation sing Christmas carols. I have the opportunity to listen to the giggles and excitement of my kids opening presents. I have the opportunity to listen to the Word being read about the birth of our Savior. I get to just listen. I don't want to miss out being part of this season, but I'm finding out that if I listen, I capture the true meaning of the Christmas.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow Day

The white stuff is falling. Falling fast and blowing around. So what does this mean today, on this wonderful Friday. Snow Day!!!!! Yes, the call came this morning a little after 5:00 am. Snow Day. Snow days are great, at times. The kids can sleep in. You aren't rushing around getting cleaned up, dressed and ready for school. You aren't watching the clock to make sure you are out of the door by a certain time. A snow day is a morning to sleep in, hang out in the pj's and allow our mind to focus on other things and not on what is happening this moment.

During the Christmas season, we need a snow day. We are so caught up in getting things done. Our focus is on what needs to be done instead of what was done. We have to be here or there. We have gifts to buy. We have wrapping to do. We have family traveling or we are preparing to travel to family. We are busy, busy, busy. During this time, we need a snow day. We need time to slow down and look at the big picture. We need to refocus on Jesus, who came to this world to "seek and save" the lost. We need to take a close look at the manger and then the cross. During this Christmas season, slow down. Clear your mind of all the stuff that keeps your focus away from Jesus. Look at the manger and have a mental snow day.

Monday, December 15, 2008


The Christmas Cantata is over. What a wonderful time it was. The spoken words from adults and kids, the message sung, the relaxed melodies from the bells, it was all good. The message was shared and the gifts and talents given to all of us by God was used. I am so glad that God has blessed the music ministry here with such talented and loving people and I have the honor of being part of it. But it is now time to remind people on what the message was and that we shared that message through word and song. It wasn't playing or singing everything perfectly, but about the birth of our Lord and Savior. It wasn't about the "I'm not..." or "they are so much better...", but about God blessing everyone with gifts and talents. We should rejoice in the privilege to share that message. Mistakes happen -- the groups made them, I made them, everyone makes them. But when we are sharing a message, there aren't mistakes only opportunities.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Simple Taste of Coffee

I love coffee. Yes, I love coffee so much that you really don't want to talk to me until I have a cup in my hand filled with that wonderful warm drink. Coffee is my drink of choice in the morning, noon, and sometimes at night (depending on the event). I enjoy a good cup of coffee. I like my coffee straight. Nothing in it -- nothing fancy, just brew the coffee and pour it into my cup. That is enough to satisfy me. There are a lot of people who add things to theirs, but not me -- a good straight cup of coffee. I can almost taste it now. So why do I bring this up? During the Christmas season, we get so caught up in making Christmas perfect, to fancy up the story. We have parties, gatherings, gifts, lights, even inflatable mangers scenes for our lawns. We make Christmas fancy. So fancy that it hides the true meaning of Christmas. Just like a cup of coffee, you can add flavors, whip cream, sugar, all sorts of things to make it taste different than just a cup of coffee. Soon it becomes more of the added items than coffee. Our focus should be on the true meaning of Christmas. Jesus Christ given to us for our salvation. That is the message, plain and simple. We need to keep the message as it is. It is the perfect message, the perfect story, the perfect Christ child. It isn't what we do, but what He has already done for us. We don't need to fancy it up.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Busy Season

Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines! It is the Advent/Christmas season. A time of rushing around, preparing worship, working with all the extra services, working around other's schedules, extra rehearsals, setting up chapels, leading chapels, shopping, family events...when does it end? All these things happen and when you think you have time to for a quick breath -- bang -- more is asked of you. As a church worker, people know you work hard during this season. They know that the message of Christ's birth will be shared. They know that when they come to worship, a worship experience will be had. They know that during the week, the planning and preparing will take place. So I and others keep plugging away during this Advent/Christmas season. But the problem isn't the things I have the privilege of doing. The problem comes within my heart. As I'm working to prepare and share the message with others, the message must be in my heart. In order to share the message, I must also hear it and allow the joy of this message live through me. This is when I need to stop, take a deep breath, and open my heart. I need to open my heart to the Word of God. The story of Christmas -- the ever reason for our salvation. The Gift given to us all. It must be in my heart and yours and every person. So during this Christmas season, when things seem to get busy and you are running in five different directions. Stop, take a deep breath, and think about the Gift we have been given. Put it in your heart and allow that joy live through you.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tell God the Good

Thanksgiving service is over. It was a nice service. Good music, good message, good worship. But what struck me most about tonight was what I heard when driving in. As mentioned in a different post, I listen to 97.1 the ticket. They were talking about what people were doing tonight. One person wrote in on the "instant feedback" section of the radio show stating that a lot of people go out tonight. Why, because, they claim, that unlike Christmas and Easter, there isn't church. I was totally taken back by this. There is church -- we have it. I know other churches that were celebrating Thanksgiving tonight with the opportunity to worship.

We get so caught up in telling others about what we are thankful for or what we is going on. But we forget to tell one person. That person is God. It is good to tell God what good things are happening. People come to God in the bad times -- when the economy is bad, when 911 happened, when they are in need. We come to him then because we need him. But have you ever thought that we should need God in the good times. God needs to hear what we are thankful for. He needs to know the good things also. Give thanks for everything. Tell God what is good, He gave it to you!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Yes, You Can Sing!

I have been trying to recruit new singers for the church choir. It is so hard to rely on the people I have in choir due to...well, with the way things are, they are also busy. So I really appreciate who I have when they can come. They give it their all. We are a small group, but mighty in sound. As I said, I have been trying to recruit people to sing in choir. I get a lot of different responses on why they can't. "I can't sing" is the biggest reason why people don't want to join. Can't sing, I really doubt that. When we sing, we make a joyous song to God. We lift our voice to Him in His glory. Ephesians 5:19 (second part) says, "Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord". Each day, we sing a song to the Lord. Our song might not be heard by others around us, but our song is heard by God. It might be a song of sorrow, a song of hurt, a song of prayer, a song of confession, a song of praise...a song about anything. Our heart sings to the Lord. As situations arises, our song might change.

I know that you may not have the gift to sing out loud in a choir or sing out loud in public. I know that many people can't find pitch or carry a tune. I know that some people are just inside the car or in the privacy of their own home singers. I know this. But you do have song, a song to the Lord. A song that only you can sing. A song that shares what is in your heart. "Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord." Don't every say you can't sing -- you do it everyday!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

God You Reign

It is late and I'm sitting here in my office. I know that I should be going home, but thoughts keep running through my mine. I just had an ok rehearsal. Things aren't perfectly smooth, but they will be worked out a little more on Saturday and will be sung in worship for God's glory! This week, our van died -- I mean it died. So my wife and I purchased a new vehicle today. Praise God that we got approved with the auto industry and the markets the way they are. There was talk of a government buyout, which would help a lot of people here in MI. Thank God that something was done. So I sit here in my office when I should be going home.

God works in mysterious ways. There has been so many strange things that have happened to me this week -- crying, worry, people asking questions about God, working late hours because I was out most of the days -- just a lot of strange things. But one thing has hit me the most this week and it came after rehearsal. Through all of this, God You Reign! We are singing the Lincoln Brewster song, God You Reign this weekend in worship. Sure the words are powerful, just the title can bring chills to people, but it never really struck until now. Through all the hardship, hate, anger, tears, snow, cold weather, broken down vans, new vans, through all things, God You Reign! He made the situations that look grim, better. He made the dreary days, whiter with snow. He made the "I'm scared" attitude feel comforted and loved. God You Reign. What an awesome phrase. I can't get those words out of my head. It was Him who touched my life today. It was Him! God You Reign, forever and ever. God You Reign!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Question

Question: Is there a higher privilege in the Church than to be called to lead worship?

Is there? Never have I thought of this. I spend numerous hours each week preparing, reading, copying, writing charts, memorizing music, listening to CD's, rehearsing....and the list goes on and on. Throughout my prep, I have never looked at it in this fashion. The worship teams here, at Living Word, pray that the message be in our hearts as well as those in worship. We pray for guidance, strength, and meaning. We pray that God will use us as His instruments and that we continue to do His will. There is so much that we pray for, but do we ever pray a prayer of thanks for the privilege, the honor to lead worship? We pray a prayer to allow us to serve, but is it a privilege in our hearts and minds? All the prep that I do and the work that the worship teams does has new meaning. God has given us the honor and privilege. We, as leaders in worship, need to view what we do in a different light. We need to view it as a privilege. After all, we are leading God's people.

(question came from Gordon MacDonald's article in Worship Leader magazine)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I have now been at Living Word for the start of the second school year. Even though I spend 90% of my time workin for the church, I have the opportunity to serve the school. It was this year, when I was asked about writing a song to match the theme of the school year. When I was asked, my answer was "yes". I could do it. I really thought it would be neat, but when? I have never written a song based on a theme that was already set. I have never really written a song that was meant for a school, a mass group of kids, to sing. I was so thankful that the thought of writing a song to match the theme was after the school year started. So I pushed it aside and I continued to push it aside.

But today, yes, today, on Vetern's Day, it hit me. I forgot my son's snack for his class (totally my mistake) and had to run home to get it. As I was driving home, I was listening to 97.1 The Ticket on the radio. I enjoy listening to them bash the Lions, bash the Tigers, bash -- well, they just like to rip teams apart. They were talking about how they would build up the Lions. It hit me! The beginning of the chorus. Those words hit me hard. I'm sure my face was just in a daze. I kept repeating those words over and over. Then as I was working on remember them, the words "smile and encourage" kept coming back to me. Those words kept running through my mind. After I got back to work and after fixing Betty's computer. I sat down and wrote out the words. They came so easy -- the words, the melody, the message. The song isn't meant to be hard. It is meant for kids to be able to learn and sing with ease.

It is based on Ephesians 4:29. It states...Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

So the song, Build, was born. To God be the glory!!!!!


Build ( X, X)
We should build each other up
Build each other up in His Name.
Build ( X, X)
We should build each other up
God set the example, do the same.

Each person has gifts given to them to build up the Kingdom of God.
So share in the moments, the good and the bad,
Smile and encourage, give it all that you have. (Chorus)

We should love each other as children of God, worship, sing, pray and praise.
So build others up in the all that you do.
Smile and encourage, Its God’s love that we share. (Chorus 2xs)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Counting on God

I'm sitting in my office. Nothing coming to mind, at least nothing that I'm so inspired to write about. The day is cloudy, cold, dreary. People don't seem to be their chipper selves. Everything today seems "blah". It is on these kinds of days I need to refocus on my ministry. I need to refocus on what God is asking me to do for him. I was reviewing the upcomings weeks music. I'm just reading away when I hit the line, "I am counting on God". It was this line that hit me hard. Today, I've been trying so hard to accomplish things the way I want them done. My focus wasn't on God, it was on me and my wants. I took the time to stop and pray. I prayed for God to make me useful for him, not me. I had to stop because everything I was doing wasn't focused on ministry. I had to take a hard look at the tasks and allow the message that God had right in front of me to sink in. When it did -- it was like a new day!!! The clouds seem to away. People seemed a little happier. There was this fire that was lite in my heart. It was like Jared Anderson wrote, "Joy unspeakable that won't go away, just enought strength to live for today, so, I never have to worry what tomorrow will bring 'cause my faith is on solid rock, I'm counting on God." Where is your focus? If it isn't focused in the right direction -- say a prayer and count on God.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Jesus will save!

Tuesday evening, I get this text message from a friend asking if I was worried now that Barak Obama was elected as the next President. They asked if I was mad, if I was hurt, what was I going to do. I responded with the, “what do you mean?” What am I going to do? That is a big question. This election has had so many different ups and downs. More people voted, more people voiced their opinions in many different ways, some just wanted to see history made. So what am I going to do? The text message came back saying, “Just want to know who is going to save us know?” That is an easy one to answer. The answer is and always will be our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Matt Redman answers this question in his song “Nothing but the Blood”. It was His blood that washes away our sins. It was His blood that makes us white as snow. I know that many feel the United States is now turned upside down, but who will save us. That answer is and always will be Jesus Christ.