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Archive for September, 2009

If You Could See “Their Faces”

A little story from a long time ago that gives you a glimpse into my development as a worshiper of Jesus and how I found out it was OK to be different.

A few months after giving my heart to the Lord I was asked to participate in a gospel sing that my church was hosting. I don't know why my pastor thought that I would be a good addition but he insisted that I participate. The singing was made up of 2 Southern Gospel groups with me opening up the show. This was my 1st encounter with a "gospel sing" – I had never even been to one as a spectator so I had no concept what it would be like and what people expected. (It should be noted that when I say I had "no concept" you should remember that I was just finishing up a gig playing beer joints on Saturday Nites :))

As I was nearing the date of the singing I was working up songs that my pastor had given me because he thought I could sing them (more importantly these were his favorite songs that he wanted to hear me sing) so I was quite busy "finding my voice" on this new style of music. The style was a traditional gospel sound (which I am fine with) but I remember that, although I appreciated the words of the songs I was singing, none of them stirred my soul – I just wasn't connecting stylistically.

At the time I was regularly listening to a contemporary Christian station (107.3 WCLN) and was hearing a song that I just loved titled, "Free", and thought to myself, "I wonder where I could find the soundtrack to that?". I went by the local Christian bookstore and sure enough THEY HAD IT – I WAS PUMPED!! "Finally a song that just makes my heart jump!!!"

The next evening I was at the church with my pastor – I was rehearsing and he was working on some stuff around the church. I popped in my new soundtrack cassette (tape – remember those?) and began to sing the song…

"What's that", my Pastor asked.
"Oh, it's a song called 'Free' by a guy named Steven Curtis Chapman.", I replied.
"Where did you get that?"
"The Christian bookstore in Fayetteville".
"Why?", he asked me.
"Because it's an amazing song that just totally captures the feeling that I have in my soul. I've been hearing it on the radio and I just felt like it's more 'me' than the other stuff I'm working on. Don't get me wrong, these songs are great but they just don't sound like me as much as this one". End of conversation.

That Saturday night we had a good old gospel sing and I got up there in front of that church crowd and 2 seasoned Southern Gospel groups and shared my voice with the crowd and when the end of my set came I shared a little bit of my testimony of who I am and where I have come from. After the testimony I told them that this last song pretty much summed up the way my spirit now feels – "It's a song titled 'Free'"… 

(cue the soundtrack)
(Begins with semi-funky electronic drum beat – the crowd's faces were blank…)

I sang it – with passion, with conviction and (I believe) with anointing. They didn't get it.

I've tried to live out the ministry God has placed me in by doing whatever it takes to reach people – not the opposite which is whatever it takes to keep people. I began to discover that night that if I was going to be a difference maker for Jesus, an "impactor", I was going to have to learn to be ME regardless of the blank stares and puzzled looks because for every one of them there are 50 more that might 'get it' because THEY DON'T get our church subculture. 

I'll take those odds every time.

(by the way, the song "Free" is not very edgy by today's standards, but if you could see "their faces" :))

This May Not Feel Like Blessing…

The other day in my daily reading I came upon the following passage that was right on time:

22Blessed are you when men hate you, 
      when they exclude you and insult you 
      and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.

 23"Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets. (Luke 6:22-23 NIV)

What I read in that is this (please excuse my loose paraphrase):

When you feel hated, disrespected or rejected by people you should rejoice – jump for joy because if your heart is in Jesus and you're serving Him wholeheartedly your reward in heaven will be HUGE! Never forget that people like this act in the way that people have always acted (their ancestors) who mistreated (and killed) the prophets. These people TOTALLY MISSED Jesus (!!) and killed Him. When you are mistreated we are in excellent company.

So, when you feel mistreated it may not feel like a blessing but remember, all will not be rewarded here on earth – Somebody much more important has His eye on you.

Sunday Nite

We had another slammin' Sunday at hyde park. After a day that was busier than most for me I am TOTALLY ready to call it a night – but before I do I just wanted to share with you:

  • Pastor Dennis finished up the "Calm in Chaos" series today. Good series. I bet none of us will ever look at the "Lord's Prayer" the same way.
  • Good crowds in both services despite the fact that we began with a rainy morning. The 1st crowd (9am) was slow coming in but they got there :)
  • Keyna was sick this morning and wasn't able to make worship – if you will please pray that she will be well enough to work tomorrow.
  • iServe team was in full-effect this morning serving out in the rain and demonstrating to hyde park that service doesn't stop for the weather. Great job to all of you!
  • We had a great day of worship this morning – both services went very well…
  • …that being said, the 10:30 service is UNBELIEVABLE! Literally gets better and better by the week!
  • Big weekend NEXT WEEKEND for hyde park Bible Fellowship Groups. We'll be sharing a new initiative during next weekend's service.
  • Music today: "Your Name" (Paul Baloche – which was the musical theme for this series), "Glory to God Forever" (Fee). "I Bow Down" (hyde park worship), "How Great thou Art" (Newsong arrangement), "Surrender" (Lincoln Brewster).
  • Continue to see new faces on Sunday's – if you're one of those faces, WELCOME!
  • Also noticed some familiar faces back with us today after some absence – don't know where you've been but I hope that the Lord rocked your face off today! :)

I close today by stating the obvious, "Jesus is at work at hyde park" – do you have eyes to see what He's doing around you?

Get Your Head in the Game!

In Sunday's message, "Deliver Us…", I used the analogy of sports teams and the purpose of their practice during the week and the way that it applies to us in times of trial. Think about it like this:

Sports teams practice all week – on game day it is their job to EXECUTE what they've learned all week. If they make the same mistakes over and over they're not learning anything. 

This analogy reminds me of the church sometimes – we keep coming to practice (church services/classes/work with me here :)) but when gameday comes (a trial) they totally forget everything coach (pastor, teacher and ultimately, Jesus) has been teaching them. Some of you say, "well, if the players/people aren't learning it's the teachers fault", and I would say yes and no. Sometimes it may be that the teacher isn't communicating well (I don't think that would be the case at hyde park); Sometimes it may be that the guys coming to practice are sitting under "coach's" teaching but they are thinking about their girlfriend/boyfriend instead of learning the playbook.

Never forget: Just because you show up for practice doesn't mean that you are actually preparing for the game (or in this case, a trial). Let's get our heads in the game.

Who are YOU Listening To?

How do you react when you find yourself in the midst of a unexpected trial? Have you ever had the thought that the way you react might show you "who" you're listening to?

You know, there's a good and an evil side to trials and temptations. Never forget: God's goal for you during a time of testing is LOVE, it's for your good, to grow you in His purpose for your life. Listen to James 1:2-3: 

2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 

If you miss this truth you will develop the wrong attitude towards trials – you'll get bitter and angry with God; you will find yourself saying things like,  "I don't understand why God is doing this to me". Rather, think of a trial as God's way of giving you the chance to practice what you've been learning as you read His Word, fellowship with other believers, grow in your faith, pray and worship.

If you don't learn to love God in testing you will become angry with him and that anger WILL cause you to sin against him. If you do not learn to live out v.2 you will inevitably end up living out the sin that is described in verse 14. You will be mad at God and wonder if he loves you or even, for some of you, if He's even real and you will at some point be tempted to sin.

So when you feel like you can't take anymore and the negative thoughts, words, doubts and actions come your way – remember, God is up to something good for you and it will always be worth the wait.