One Year

Ecclesiastes 3

A Time for Everything

1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Ode To My Tweets

As I approach the one year mark in my Twitter adventure, I have to look back at some of the significant friends that I have made through this network.  Yes, I've taken the derision from "real" friends that these virtual relationships aren't "real"-but I've come to cherish these friends and include them in the list of my cadre' of fellow Christ followers.  By the way, these are in no particular order and if by some chance I happen to leave one of you out--it's not intentional.

Some of them I've met in person during 2008.   Some of them are on my radar to connect with in 2009.  Regardless they have impacted my life.

10 Places I Won't Be On New Year's Eve

These are some of the places I won't be tonight for New Year's Eve!
These are some local traditions. Me--I'll just be sitting down with some cornbread and black-eyed peas!
1. Key West, Florida - Conch, drag queen and pirate

2. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania - marshmallow "peep"

3. Port Clinton, Ohio- fish

4. Mount Olive, North Carolina- pickles

5. Elmore, Ohio - sausages

6. Lebanon, Pennsylvania- bologna

7. New Orleans, Louisiana - gumbo pot

8. Easton, Maryland- crab

9. Plymouth, Wisconsin - cheese

10. Raleigh, North Carolina- acorn

Where will you be on New Year's Eve?HT:  Travel/Yahoo

Have I Told You--I'm A Twin

For those of you who know me well this information isn't new... but for those of you who are new to my blog--I am a Twin.

My brother and I just celebrated our birthday last week.  No birthday cakes this time, but I can remember the time that we were each given our own birthday cake with our own likes on them.  Then there was the awesome WINTER Birthday cake with mounds of icing as snow banks.

We've remained close through the years.  I was his best man--he was mine.  He married Deann--I married Diane.   His daughter is only a few months older than Taylor-and they could pass for sisters.

I tell people if they see me doing something illegal, it's my twin.

So-do you have a twin that you haven't told me about?

This is scary! Why We Don't Have A Real Christmas Tree

Christmas 2008--Family Memories

I'm just home from my extended family Christmas in Lubbock. Our parents are gone but we still get together on Christmas evening to exchange gifts among the kids and to see each other. It's the only time of the year that all of the family is all in one place.

Highlights from this year:
  1. The grandkids made the dinner this year--they are all growing up so fast. They made my Dad's dressing and had some of Mom's favorites too.
  2. I used the line from our Christmas eve services "that was the Christmas when...." which led to a long discussion and some laughter about some past Christmas memories.
  3. Gift exchange among the kids--always fun
  4. The addition of a Pug puppy to my sister's family..they named her "Mia"
  5. My sister broke out the videos from when the grandkids were small and we watched about 3 or 4 of them. We laughed and laughed. Can't believe that we did so many stupid things--like Karoke Christmas, and my brother dressed as Elvis.
  6. Probably the highlight for all of us was when my Dad was reading the Christmas story as he always did. This was from one of his last Christmas' with us. My kids had never heard his voice and 2 of them had never really seen him. There was a hush all over the room as we listened to him read the scriptures to us again. And then there were pictures of my mom and my aunt who are no longer here with us.

It was a bitter sweet gathering. My middle daughter got in the car after it was over and said "Dad, that was the best Christmas ever! Sharing those stories with family is what Christmas is all about". Enough said!

Do you get together with your extended family at Christmas?

Worship Pre-fessional, December 28, 2008

This post is part of Sunday Set Lists over on Fred McKinnon's blog

I'm not leading worship today as I'm out of town with my extended family.  Worship today will be led by my friend Rich Smith

His set list today:

Come Thou Almighty King
Beautiful One
Your Name
Made Me Glad
Wonderful Maker
I Lift My Eyes Up
Message--Final in the series "The Big Picture"
I Can Only Imagine
Prepare The Way (Evans)--he'll end the series with the song we've been singing during the month of December.

What did you do on your last Sunday of 2008?

Blog Break

Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope you are having a great time with family.

I'll be taking a little break from blogging as I:
  1.    Spend time with my extended family
  2.    Celebrate my birthday
  3.    Take some time off from work
  4.    Reconnect with my immediate family
  5.    Set some priorities for 2009

Blessings to you and thanks for following me in 2008!

Worship Post-Fessional--Christmas Eve

Set List:

Pre-service Music-- Harp prelude by Kim Gorman (joined on last song of "Little Drummer Boy" by Zach Lewis)
Worship led by Combined praise team vocals, worship choir and senior adult choir
Joy To The World (Casting Crowns)

O Come All Ye Faithful (Casting Crowns)

Welcome To Worship
we did 4 songs from the musical "I'll Be Home For Christmas" (Brentwood Benson)
Home for Christmas Medley (I'll Be Home for Christmas, Home for the Holidays)
Good Christian Medley (I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Sing We Now of Christmas)
Welcome to Our World
Let Christmas Come--this last one we emphasized the military and missionaries who aren't home for Christmas this year.

Skype phone call to our missionaries in Brazil

The First Noel (Praise Charts arr.)

Advent Reading--The Christ Candle

The Lord's Supper
Carol of the Bells--piano solo
Passing The Light--Candles lit
Silent Night (Casting Crowns)--great arrangemet--simple and beautiful
Joy To The World-Instrumental
(As the people left I had my kids go "ring" the bells (they're really recorded bells) in the bell tower.  We pealed the bells for 10:00 mintues)

How was your Christmas eve?

SANTA LAND--Memories from my past

We visited Santa Land in Lubbock on Saturday night after we ended our busy day of shopping. Santa Land was one of those special things that I remember about my childhood. We would bundle up the whole family and head to the park there on Ave. Q in Lubbock. It was a wide open space with a large Christmas tree (real--made out of cut limbs from cedar trees) and the biggest bonfire ever! We made our way to see Mr. and Mrs. Claus (who just happened to know Mom and Dad. Mom would alert him that the Drake boys were coming and we were so surprised that he knew us by name).

So-I wanted my kids to experience the same thing. I can't tell you the memories that flooded back as we headed into the park. Although it's been moved to Mackenzie State Park there in Lubbock, some of the stuff is the same stuff I saw. The old church, Rudolph on the rooftop, the carolers and more. I don't think we had Dora the Explorer then ( I thought that needed to go). We peeked in on Mr. and Mrs. Claus (but they weren't the same ones I knew).

All in all it was a magical stop and a memory for my kids.

What Christmas memories do you have as a child? Can you share them with your kids (the same places and events?)

Worship Post-Fessional, December 21, 2008

Brrr... it's cold here today. Was 69 degrees yesterday afternoon and right now it's 28!

We put all of the pieces of THE BIG PICTURE together today--it was CREATION by Michelangelo. I'll have pictures of the stage up tomorrow.

Today's set:
Prepare the Way (Darrell Evans)--3rd week--I think they're catching on.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman (Praise Carols)-our drummer did a kicking track to go along with this.


Prayer Time

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear (Prasie Carols)--again our drummer did a great track to back this one. Kind of Jazzy....

Advent Reading--4th Sunday. The congregationational reading went well this time --did the Ladies/Men thing this week. Everyone knew if they were a lady or a man (unlike last week when they couldn't determine if they were sitting in the East/Center/or West section)

Come and See (LeBlanc). We didn't get to do all of this at response time last week-so we brought it back again. Finished with a chorus or two of O COME ALL YE FAITHFUL

Message--The Second Coming

Response--SING TO THE KING (started this one rather slow tempo wise and built it to the end. It was a great response to the Word)

Other notes--We tried out our webcam this morning but Mogulus was having some issues. I'm hoping this is just a temporary thing. We're hoping to put our Christmas eve services up so our Missionaries and Military can log in and see "I'll Be Home For Christmas--FBC Snyder 2008". We'll try it again tonight for technical rehearsal for Wednesday night.

This post is part of Sunday Set Lists over on Fred Mc Kinnon's blog.

Happy Birthday To Me---1 Week Early!

This is my staff birthday cake! It's a Santa coming down the chimney and he moves and has lights stuck on him. It's awesome!

We have a church member who makes a cake for staff birthdays--I teased her and told her I wanted an "ACE OF CAKES" for my birthday. Santa should be coming down the chimney and some kind of pyrotechnics. I think she did and outstanding job. She's afraid that she's opened pandora's box for the rest of the staff. Nah---they'll just want it plain!

Next Saturday is my birthday, but we're celebrating today since everyone will be gone during the Christmas break. Just as I was in school, I won't be around for my birthday--so we'll celebrate early.

Have I told you about my fifth grade birthday party. Well it was on a Tuesday..............

What awesome cakes have you had for your birthday?

CREATIVE CHAOS--Christmas Eve-Prep and Producing

It's getting too close to Christmas and time is running out on this project.  We wrap up our series "THE BIG PICTURE" this weekend and it's time to assemble all of the pieces of the picture together to finish up the series.    That calls for one large frame!

The finished structure will be 14' wide and about 12' tall.  I had a little issue this morning that set me back as I remembered I had printed the pictures @ 43x43. However when they were mounted--they were cut down to 43X37--so I had to recut the structure this morning to make it fit.

I'll post the final pictures this weekend after we get it installed.  We'll add four more pieces to it to change the look for Christmas eve.

This one has been a challenge since I lost my woodworker friend Richard who used to do this construction for me.  I'm no carpenter by trade and working with wood and measurements sometimes frustrates the creative in me--you have to be so precise!  More than once today I've had to walk away from the project or I was going to pull the rest of the hair on my bald head out.

I have some new tools (a small table chop saw and a pneumatic nailer) that I've been using on this project--so that has been part of the slowness.  Learning new tools on a big project like this probably wasn't the smartest thing.
Are you handy with carpentry stuff?

WATER COOLER WEDNESDAY--Worship At the Wooden Spoke Ranch

So, when does a church stop being the church? Does it have to exist inside a formal church building? Does it have to meet on Sunday? Those are thought provoking questions?

We met last Wednesday night--not at church---at the Wooden Spoke Ranch just north of town. It is a small working ranch with bunks and cottages and hosts local weekend gatherings for companies and groups. We rented out the large party room and had a worship time--gathering, fellowship, singing, Lord's Supper, group projects and a word from our pastor.

The air was cold and nippy but the refreshments were warm and uplifting. The kids got to feed the deer and make smores and the adults met around tables to exchange their thoughts on what the church really is.

We gave them objects to spark their conversations: a globe, some M&M's, gloves, keys, a wedding veil, a candle, a rubic cube, paper clips and more. Each of them had to think for a moment how they related to the church. Some of them were very moving.

Has your church ever not met at the church? How was that received?

"To Bring Freedom To The Captives"

Last Saturday I attended the annual Prison Christmas service that our Prison Ministry sponsors at the local maximum security prison.  It wasn't my first time out there--I've been twice before and one of them was at Christmas.  We've taken our choir out there before and they really enjoy them coming to sing to them.

I went later in the day than most of the staff (they were on the early end of preparations) and I arrived in time for worship services.  Can I just tell you that these services inside the prison are the most "free" type of service that I've been apart of.   It seems to me sometimes that the ones held captive by the "law" are more free than those of us on the outside with "grace."  Certainly Saturday was no exception.

We  moved to the chapel area to get ready to hand out fruit, soap, cards, cookies and other goodies donated for the moment.  I met briefly with two prisoners and it turns out that both of them were brothers.   We had a great conversation about how the Lord has turned their worlds around and one of the brothers will be released in early 2009 and is hoping to return home and get settled before his brother gets out.

We stood in the courtyard for hours to hand out the goodies as the prisoners came by after dinner with their sacks.  Some of them were unmoved by the gestures but some of them were overcome with emotion at the outpouring of love.  I tried my best to make eye contact with each person and tell them something.  I would intentionally hold my item (oranges) a little longer above their bag until they looked me in the eye.  It was an emotional day.  

So many in prison--so many needlessly their because they have no hope.  I'm praying that this season the true light of Christ will liberate these souls as the promised one has come to bring freedom to the captives.  I couldn't help but think of these guys on Sunday as we sang "PREPARE THE WAY" by Darrell Evans

"He has come to bring light into the darkness
He has come to bring freedom to the captives
He has come to restore the broken hearted
It's time to proclaim the year of the Lord"

Have you ever been to prison for ministry?

A Tech Fan's Final Hoorah!

I found this rather amusing the other day as I surfed one of the Texas Tech fan websites. Seems that I can keep my "guns up" for Tech into the next life as I'm laid out in a fancy "Double T Special" for my going away party.

For only $5,000 I can sing the "Matador Song" for eternity. I don't know.  I'm mean I'm a fan--but this might be over the top.

What do you think?

Worship Post-Fessional, Dec. 14, 2008

This post is part of Fred Mc Kinnon's Blog Carnival, Sunday Set List.  

We were down in numbers today.  I saw a good many of our late service people come into our early service because they were travelling to family members for early Christmas celebrations.   Just seemed down--and also in spirit.  Very subdued crowd today.   Judging against the "over flowing" prison service I attended yesterday, it made it seem like there was a funeral in the place.  Engagement wasn't happening.  Don't know what it was.    Maybe the economy is worrying people.  I didn't see joy in their faces.  Even when we were singing about joy there was a discconect.  I wish I had a mirror sometimes to let people see what I see when they are singing.

Set List
Prepare The Way (Darrell Evans)--2nd week for this one.  The cool story is that @Darrellevans asked to follow me this week on Twitter.  Cool!

Joy To The World--new Casting Crowns arr.   Very good--straightforward but fresh.  listen to it if you haven't already.

O Come All Ye Faithful --also new Casting Crowns arr.    We'll keep these two for Christmas Eve.


Advent Reading--John 1:1-6, 19-28. Our worship center is in three sections--so I broke the reading up into EAST, CENTER and WEST sections.  Even pointed to EAST, CENTER and WEST and told them which section they were.   My wife told me at lunch--I was confused!  Oh boy if you can't communicate it to your spouse--you are in trouble.

Reprise of Prepare The Way ("Make ready your heart, make ready your home, make ready thte people of God"

Blessed Be Your Name (Redman)  We do the Travis Cottrell arr. of this one... love it.

Mystery (Charlie Hall)-this one was requested by my pastor.  He's fallen in love with this song.  The phrase "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again" is part of the liturgy of the Great Thanksgiving which is in the Book of Common prayer and also a part of the liturgy of Walk To Emmaus.  I was very familiar with this phrase and did this as a solo with Piano and percussion.   I think it went ok.

Message--We're rapping up our series THE BIG PICTURE.

O Come O Come Emmanuel (carol)

Come and See (Lenny LeBlanc)--a favorite we've done for nearly 4 years now at Christmas.
I Exalt Thee (hadn't planned on this one--but when we stopped Come and See--the spirit said "Go on--and this is what came out."

So--how was your Sunday?

Identify Yourself!

I got this idea from Randy Parker's blog  when he did this some time ago.  I've never asked who was reading my blog--but now it's time.  Lurker--identify thyself.

Who are you? Tell me about yourself.

I'll start. (You all probably know this stuff about me already.)

My name is Jim.
I'm 44 years old.
Been married for 18 years.
I have two girls and one boy.
I live in Snyder, Texas
I work at First Baptist Church
I am Worship Arts Pastor (what's that mean--everything!)
I like to watch college sports.
I love to read and work in the yard.
I want a iphone bad!
I drive an old green car which matches my old green hoodie that I love.
My blog is
Now it's your turn!

Worship Post-Fessional, Dec. 7, 2008

This post is part of Sunday Set Lists over on Fred McKinnon's blog.

Today was an interesting day. We're nearing the end of our series "The Big Picture".   We finished up The Age of Grace today and talked about how we still live under legalism in some form or fashion and that we don't really fully embrace the Grace life.   I wore a coat and tie today to lead worship--believe me--it was constraining and binding on me.  I could feel it.  But, I got the round of compliments and oohs and ahs over me dressing up.  I even heard one person sigh as I went by and they said  " I miss the days of dressing up for church".   As soon as our pastor talked about the things that still bind us--I felt the freedom to reach up and take that tie off.  I led the last song without coat and tie.  Whew!..what a relief.

Here's the set list for today:

Fields of Grace (Darrell Evans)--thought of this one as we finish up this series and today's topic is Grace.  It was new and I'll have to think about bringing this one back so as not to waste the moment.
Prepare The Way (Darrell Evans)-no, it wasn't a Darrell Evans day but this one tied into the scripture reading for Advent.   We'll keep singing this through the Advent season



Come Thou Long Expected (Praise Carols)  Hard arr.--too many minor chords.  don't do this one again.

Advent Reading--Mark 1:1-8 (Responsive--Men, Ladies, All, etc)

Everything Glorious (Moffitt/Smith)--from EVERYTHING GLORIOUS musical two years ago--it's a great song.  I loved this song two years ago in the musical.   It was ok today--maybe we should have just featured this song instead of having people join in.  That's been too long to bring back for the congregations.  My bad!

Glorious Day (Bleeker)--second week for this one, a remix of an old hymn.  Good.  I heard more people singing along today on this one.


Grace Flows Down (Tomlin)

Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)-(Tomlin)

How was your Sunday?

How To Teach New Music--Wisdom From The Past

I found this the other day and thought it applied how to teach new music in worship.  It's from an Elementary teacher music prep course.
How T0 TEACH New Music

General Directions

1. Do not attempt to teach a song until you know it
yourself, until it has become a part of you.  (good stuff for a worship leader!)

2. Be sure that you have learned both words and
music correctly.

3. You expect the children to learn the songs. If you
hold a book, you do not set a good example.

4. Inspire enthusiasm.

5. Arouse and keep alive in the children the desire to

6. If you teach the spirit of the words, the expression
of the song will take care of itself.

7. Learn the whole song or hymn. Second and third
stanzas should be as carefully practiced as the first.

8. Lay the foundation of the habit of thinking. Ask
the children to listen, then to think before they sing.
Always avoid allowing them to imitate you.

HT: Archive

Stand Up/Sit Down--The 4 Chords That Tell You What To Do

How many of you remember Vacation Bible School? Huh?  Do you remember those summers where you went to every Vacation Bible School in town?  I did--everyone one of them; Baptist, Methodist, Church of Christ and more.

Each one was different, but somehow they all knew the magic 4 chords to signal us to stand up and sit down.   This is the instruction from the 1926 Workers manual for Daily Bible School.
The pupils should always stand when singing. Use
the stand-up and sit-down chords, never a bell or hand-
waving. The pianist should select the chords from the
music section of the text-books and practice on them
till she can make them really say, "Get ready, stand
up!"; "Get ready, sit down!"
This quote is from the 1926 manual on how to produce a Daily Vacation School.

I bet if I were to play this chord progression Sunday someone would know what to do.  I may just try it.

One of the blogs I read the other day was lamenting the fact that Bible school no longer has the crafts that use paper plates and macaroni shells.  Remember those?  How about the sugar cookies shaped like flowers with the holes in the middle?  Did you know that Nabisco doesn't make those anymore? Ah--the good old days!


Memories For Sale

My childhood home is up for sale! No, not by us (the kids).  We sold this for our Mom about 5 years ago when she went to a Nursing facility.  At that time the house needed a lot of work and updating. They guy who bought it did a great job in updating it.

The amazing fact is that this house is only 1314 square feet--that is small by today's standard.  It held all 5 children and 2 parents at one time.  That is a lot of people for a 1314 sq. foot house--but then again in those days we didn't have as much stuff as we do now.

Seeing these pictures brings back lots of memories and my oldest child was old enough to remember the house the way it was.  She and I enjoyed looking through these pictures.

How about your childhood home?  Is it still in the family? Is it still standing?  Has it been updated and sold?

Geeky Christmas

Now here is something to do with those old floppy disks you have laying around--provided that you've taken the data that you need off of them.

HT: Geekware


I thought I'd give you a peek at the Christmas decor at First Baptist this year. About this time last year we looked at the Christmas decorations and went "ok, it's time to change". However, we were late in the game getting it done for 2007 so we made a plan for 2008.

We went to the Dallas Market Center in January of this year. This is a market for buyers and wholesalers. We were able to qualify because our "Religious Organization" status. We shopped most of the morning for ideas and came up with the idea of "A WEST TEXAS CHRISTMAS" for a theme. That made it much easier to select items.

We had great stuff in our decor, but just needed to update it. So instead of throwing the baby out with the bath water, we ordered materials that could be added into our new "theme" (garlands, picks, materials, etc) and knew that we would add some local stuff to the mix (cotton, mesquite beans, etc).

It is a very simple look for Christmas. The tree in the worship center is beautiful. It's all natural with grapevines and burlap with hints of pine cones (none of those things here in West Texas--oops) and gold berries. I would say that it is a simple elegance.

The front foyer is a welcoming area with the guard rails and entrance covered with natural burlap and greens. We even transformed the Garden Room (our natural gathering space) through the use of trees, a dining room table and quilts and pillows to make it more inviting. The natural smell of cinnamon was achieved through scented pine cones in bowls and good old Wal Mart PINE scent candles.

The comments have been encouraging as we strove to carry out our theme and keep it simple.

What does your church look like for Christmas?

This post is part of Creative Chaos.


It's Water Cooler Wednesday where the creatives gather over at Randy Elrod's site, Ethos to discuss things that creatives discuss.

It's Christmas time and it's that time of year that we sing a body of songs that only get sung once a year.  Most carols have their traditional form that we've heard for years. However with contemporary worship on the scene some years ago we found that the traditional sound of carols juxtaposed against contemporary choruses really didn't fit.

I began some years ago by using Christmas carols that were written for youth choirs and ensembles  (Word Music's  THE NOISE WE MAKE (2001) and WOMEN OF FAITH Christmas) to add a contemporary sound to our services.  Vineyard came out with a great Christmas album in 2000 and I've used most of it.

Along came Praise Charts in 2003 (?) with their first Praise Carols set.    They were the perfect answer to the Christmas carol issue for contemporary churches.   I use them year after year and they added a new set 2 years ago (although I didn't use all of them).

Just this year Sojourn church out of Louisville gave away their Christmas cd free and we're using it for preservice music.  Some of them are really good and may find their way into our rep. next year.

So, what do you use for contemporary Christmas carols?  Where do you find your resources?

'Tis The Season--Christms Parties Begin

Well, the official Christmas season has begun with it's endless round of parties and get togethers. We kicked it off tonight with our Annual Sr. Adult Banquet at a local Woman's Club. There was a good turn out and the local high school choir came and sang some Christmas songs for us.
My daughter Taylor sang "Sending You A Little Christmas" and I accompanied her. Really--that's me hiding behind the Christmas tree.

In the next few weeks almost every night is taken with a Christmas party or two. How about you? Is your schedule filled with Christmas get togethers?

Real or Artificial?

The Christmas trees are up.  Ours has been since November 2.   I know you think that we are crazy but it's become a tradition with us to put it up early since our December's are crazy with activities and things.

Besides, we enjoy the tree and want to have as much time to enjoy it.

Is your tree real or artifical?  Our's obviously is fake. It's a slim line 6 foot, pre-lit tree and we love it. It's small and easily assembled unlike the beast we had before that had 4000 limbs that were color coded and took forever to put together. I'm glad we got rid of that thing.

ADVENT BEGINS-A Family Journey Through The Season

Tonight we'll begin our Advent journey as a family. We'll use the Advent Calendar we got from John Piper's church last year.  Each evening we will sit down as a family and read the scriptures together and then one of the kids will get to place one of the pieces of the manger scene on the piece of burlap.
We were really surprised how much the kids enjoyed this last year.  It was the last thing that we did together each night before they went to bed.

Are you observing Advent this year?   What resources have you come across?

Worship Post-Fessional, Nov. 30, 2008

All Because (Fee)-second time for this one. Was a great opener.
Angels We Have Heard On High (Praise Carols)
Video (Law and Grace-John Deere)

Video (Law and Grace- Locust Stew)

Advent Reading
What Child Is This (Praise Carols)
Glorious Day (Bleeker)--Old hymn--new music.  would have been great had I hit a Bm instead of a B major chord.  Thank goodness the sermon was on grace because I certainly needed.  Great backing track by David Trevey!
Once Again (Redman)
The Wonderful Cross

How was your Sunday?  We were down because of the holiday weekend--but kicked off Christmas with 2 Christmas carols.   The place looked great with all of the Christmas trees and stuff. We had 4 Pine scent candles from Walmart to give us our Christmas "smell"--sublte, it wasn't too overpowering.

This post is part of Sunday Setlist over on Fred McKinnon's site.

Go TECH--Beat the Baptists!

Today my Red Raiders will close out this historic season with a game against Baylor University.  We're hoping for redemption (not in the biblical sense) of this season after last week's game in Oklahoma.  (The truth is the real Red Raiders never made it to Norman.  Their bus broke down in Wichita Falls.  I'm not sure who that team was that showed up).

This game with Baylor has always been a special one for my family.  My Dad was a Baylor alum and each time the Bears came to town it meant that we would get to go to the Tech game.  I think Dad really wanted us to go to Baylor, but who could afford to go there ( not a Minister's child).  Anyway I still have his Baylor diploma displayed in our hallway.

We have some good Baylor friends and I hope and pray that we win today so that I will not have to endure their taunts.

We're also cheering today for OSU and Texas A&M--we need both Aggies to come through for us.

Now This Was Technology At It's Best--The Phone Scrambler 1966

Now this was where technology was headed in the the 1960's.  This chunky phone device would scramble the signal so eavesdroppers and wiretappers couldn't hear your conversations.

It cost $275 back in 1966 and that was lots of money back then.

I've never seen these before, have you?  Looks to me like the beginning of the cell phone age.

How far we've come!

Our Black Friday Experience

So,we awoke @ 3:45 AM on Friday to head out shopping. Our kids were with us this time and we didn't feel like we could leave them in the hotel. We left a wake up call at the front desk--they laughed when we told them what time.

We thought we needed to be to our place by 5:00 AM, but Mom had decided that Circuit City could wait. When we arrived at Target at 4:30--we were the 15th in line and it was only then that she told us we had an hour and half to wait...argghhh...

We survived and watched the many different kinds of tactics used by people to go to the front of the line:

1)the stealth hang around the front door--non-challant. This guy got called out.
2)the dress like the Target employees so you blend it---called out again.
3) the lady who stood across the parking lot from the front door with her cigarette in her mouth hoping she could blend in too... nope!

We got in at 6AM and were pretty much done with Target @ 6:45. We paid CASH this year--no Debit, no credit. That felt good.

After a couple of stops we went to my fave restaurant in the Metroplex--La Madeline and had breakfast. Yum!!! This place takes me back and I enjoy the warm coffee, the fireplace and the music they play. Ah... heaven.

Then it was off to the Mall again for some incidentals. I saw the most amazing product there---an electric cigarette (with actual smoke). No--I don't smoke, but there were people lined up at this thing taking a drag and puffing away. Incredible.

Glad to be home and done with our Christmas shopping...for now. Just a few more little things and we're done.

How was your shopping day?

We Have Become A Nation of Savages

We heard about this today as we were heading back to the hotel after our early morning adventure. We certainly saw big crowds but none as unruly as this.

What have we come to in this nation when things (things like electronics and gifts and gadgets and trash that will soon be forgotten) have taken precendence over a life. That life is now gone--but you can be sure that tonight someone is sitting pretty with their $69 digital camera that they just have to have.

I just hope and pray that remorse and conviction come over these folks who did this. Shame, shame, shame America! Maybe we aren't the proud land we used to be. On a scale of A to F--we get an F today!

HT: Ragamuffinsoul

What I Did With My Free Time Over Thanksgiving

So I just have to show you what I did with my free time over the Thanksgiving holiday.  After my nap(s) I had some spare time and decided to make me a TURKEY hat!   Really, I did!   What?  You don't believe me?

I'm sure these items are meaningful to this lady who made them, but I'm seriously thinking these will be in the January garage sale.

Give her an "A" for creativity.

HT:  Craftzine

Black Friday Shopping

This is where Diane and I will be this morning as we do some Christmas shopping.  I know-it's crazy but we both enjoy the hustle and bustle.  It gives me a new perspective on America and especially this year with the economic crisis I will be interested to see how much people are adjusting their lives.

Last year we got all of our shopping done by 10 AM and then we headed to one of our favorite bistros for breakfast by ourselves.  I'm sure we'll do the same thing again this year.

We'll sit down with the ads on Thanksgiving eve and see where we want to go.

I've always thought that the best thing to do would be to buy your Christmas gifts on Wednesday and then watch the ads on Thursday and take them back for an adjustment on Friday/Saturday?  What do you think?  Isn't that a great idea?  No standing in long lines to get that one item you really wanted but everyone else scooped up.

So where will you be Friday morning?

This Is Just Wrong!

Looking for an alternative to Turkey today--try Tofurky.  Made from Tofu, it's a meat ALTERNATIVE that is produced by Turtle Island Foods.

Check it out here--but give me the real stuff today.

Thanksgiving Naps--I'm There!

Every Thanksgiving I have a ritual that I must observe. The Thanksgiving NAP is a tradition with me. I don't know when it began because certainly when I was little naps were the last thing on my mind.

 Anyway, when the day begins I count the hours until I can crash after a wonderful meal of turkey and dressing. I even save my dessert until after the nap.

In one of our former churches we were blessed to be included each year in a church member's family and their Thanksgiving traditions. Each year I would come in and "spot" my couch and claim to the rest of them to stay away from it. What a glorious day to eat and enjoy the food and be filled with the fellowship of friends and family. Thanksgiving naps are the best.

How about you? What do you do after the Thanksgiving meal.

Water Cooler Wednesday--Creativity Is Contagious

This post is part of Water Cooler Wednesdays over on Randy Elrod's site, Ethos.
This is Layne Scott--he's our Student Minister.  Layne is a hoot to be around and his style is very laid back.  We tease him about the pace of life he leads (very slow and deliberate).  However, the other day I caught him in the act of creating something for his Sunday morning teaching on the 10 Commandments.  He was so proud of the these props that he had made and I took a picture to mark the event.

How much creativity is spread around your organization? Does your creativity spill over into other ministry areas?  I'd like to think that about our Worship Arts Ministry.   I hope that we're influencing the culture around us and giving permission to be creative in order to teach truth.

So--congratulations Layne on these props. Your on my list now when I need help!

Don't Judge A Book By It's Cover

I love old books.  I collect some of them that are about Worship. In fact at one time I had quite an extensive collection of old hymnals ( I still have a few). One of my prize possesions is a Scottish Psalter (hymn book) from 1900 that I found in an old book shop in the early 90's.

This lady has taken Old books to a new level by creating Jewelry out of them.  Wow!  What a creative thought.  Take a look at her work.

HT:  Makezine

REPOST: What's In Your Toolbox?

The idea for this blog came some time ago as I worked my way through a couple of software programs, cranking out the things needed for weekly worship. I wondered "what do other people use (software, etc) on a regular basis?" If I was a mechanic, this would be a peek inside my toolbox. So, feel free to jump in a share what you use on a regular basis. Here goes:

1. Sony SoundForge 9
I've been using Sony Sound Forge for about 10 years now. I don't know any other audio program that gives me such a quick response. I'm using it to cut and edit media (audio) from Sunday morning's sermons to upload to the web. It works for me!

2. Adobe Photoshop/Photoshop Elements
One thing that I didn't realize in seminary was that part of my job would be graphic arts, printing and publicity production. I've graduated from my earlier days of Microsoft Picture It! to Photoshop and Elements. Most of the time it's Elements for quick and simple jobs. If I had more time, I'd become a Photoshop guru.

3. Media Shout
Last week I had to do something in Powerpoint for a funeral and I was totatlly lost. I used to be PPT guru, but since I moved to Media Shout, I've forgotten what a pain it is to have to put every verse in, style it, copy it, etc. Thank Heaven for Media Shout.

4.AVS4You- This video converter file has saved me many times. It will convert any media type into any other media type you need. ( AVI, MPG, MOV, WMA, MP4). Believe me--I depend on this one.

5. Digital Camera Poster Creator
This might not be one that everyone needs, but since we purchased a large scale printer last year, I needed a software that would bust the image up into quadrants and multiple squares. This program will do it! We use it for large scale printing for staging options and sets.

6. Planning Center Online-
This one probably should be up near the top since I'm on it constantly throughout the day. I have only been a member since April--but I'm wondering what took me so long to jump in. I've abandoned my Worship Software from Integrity! Today-it's online or nothing at all!

7. Sketchup
I've already blogged how I feel about this piece of software (and it's Free!). It helps me plan for the space before I'm in the space. I can dream up and scheme up any kind of background, set, etc that I want--and know what it looks like in 3D before it's built.

8. TubeSucker
Go ahead and pony up the $39.95 for the pro version because it will take off the Tubesucker logo imbedded in the freebie. For those times that you have to download those funny, foolish videos from You Tube--the good ones!

Ok--what's in your toolbox?

A Creative Proposal

Seems that the Staff at Willow Creek has taken creativity to a new level with these staff members. I wasn't this creative with my proposal. But hey, that was 19 years ago.

HT: Grace Every Day

Worship Post-Fessional, November 23

This post is part of Sunday Set Lists over on Fred Mc Kinnon's blog. It's where worship leaders post their Sunday Morning lists and orders and we learn from each other what worked and what didn't/

You, You Are God (Gateway)
How Marvelous (Tomlin)
Video (We did a take off on the Mac and PC commercials)

Scripture Reading (Psalm 105)
What Can I Do (Baloche)
Bow Down (Joel Engle)

Surrender (Marc James)
You Are (Mark Roach)

Today was the first day I've led out in front (not from piano) in almost 6 months. It was quiet an adjustment (what do I do with my hands again--oh yeah--don't wave them and direct). I also remember that you have to watch where you place your boom stand or you will hit it too. Quiet comical.

Sound was awesome today--really filled up the room and I guess the only negative was that my in-ears died again on last song so I couldn't hear the click track--no biggie though because they were piping some of it through to the floor monitor for the pianist.

So how was your Sunday?

One More Time...RAIDER... POWER!

Tonight we'll be hunkered down around the TV to watch our RED RAIDERS take on the Sooners in a very very important game not only in the Big 12 South race, but also in the BCS Standing.

So, if you call my house tonight and I don't answer--you know why.

Let me hear you say   RAIDER..... POWER!!  Go Tech!

Go Tigers-Round 2

It's Round 2 tonight as we travel back to Andrews for the Area round of playoffs against Monahans.  

This is the 4th time we've met them in the playoffs (we're 3-1 against them) and hopefully we'll come out on top this evening.

Here's to the Tigers!  Go 
get'em one more time.

Creative Chaos--The Importance of Branding A Series

Back in 2001 a former church that I served found itself in an all too familiar place.  At the end of the summer we were significantly behind budget and needed to find a way to "catch up" during the critical Fall period.

We came up with the campaign "90 to Nothing"--meaning that we would take the next 90 days to try to catch up on missed tithes and offerings and that people would give an extra offering to help catch up. (most of the churches that I have served have done this although my current church hasn't had a stewardship campaign in almost 3 years because of this sermon series).

We went all out for this.  We used the Checkered flag as our symbol and hung the banners all over the church and outside the church. We even had a church member bring a race car and set it in front of the church and had the local paper come and do an article on it.  My son was about 3 at the time and he was all about the racing stuff.  He couldn't read but he could hear us say something about "90 to Nothing" over and over again.

This made such an impression on him that later that year when we moved to the Metroplex we would drive by an entertainment complex that had a giant checkered flag as a symbol. Daniel would squeal with pleasure and say " to Nothing".  It was then that I realized the impact and importance that happens when we brand or emphasize something in church.  To this day I think he would still instinctively answer "90 to Nothing" if you were to ask him what the symbol means.

How much do you consider the lasting impact of the images, the phrasing, the titling of series and promotions in your church?  As with the Stewards 'R Us series we can still start the phrase "It all comes from God, belongs to God and is _________(dispersed) by God" as our catch phrase from that series and people know where it comes from.

I'm not saying that we're always so successful with each teaching series.  It just points out the importance of thinking through the lasting impacts that words, images and series can have in the life of the church.

This post is part of Creative Chaos over on