I Love A New City

I love being in a new city.  Actually Nashville isn't new to me-I was here last year.
Drop me in a place once and I can't get back there with no troubles.  
My car made it's way from the Nashville Airport just like it knew where to take me this afternoon to Brentwood.
Then, this evening, I travelled up I-65 to Hendersonville and made my way to the play.  No problems finding anything.  It's like my car knows me and knows where to go.  I think my car is Baptist because tonight on the way home it found the Tennessee Baptist Convention office.

I love the challenge of new cities--new streets, new adventures. Diane can tell you that I love the challenge of city driving.  My skills haven't diminished--and oh yes, I have insurance!

Found my turn off for Crosspoint Church tomorrow and then will make my way to Smyrna on Monday to visit my friend Dr. Kyle Goen before picking up this guy at the airport.

Do you like driving in the city?

Put On A Happy Face- Local Church Impacts Theater

I had the privilege tonight to attend the performance of BYE BYE BIRDIE performed by the Steeple Players in Hendersonville. 
Celebrating their 15th year the company began in the building of First United Methodist in Hendersonville as a ministry to provide a place for family entertainment and also a play for actors and people of faith to come together to provide art for their community. I think they've succeeded.

The cast was a mixture of young and old, and to the sold out crowd it was a most enjoyable evening. Bravo to the company of Steeple Players for a great evening.

Whenever I travel I try to pick up an evening or event of culture in the area. It began back in 2007 when I went to Grand Rapids for the Daybreak Conference and saw this play and this play in the area. Grand Rapids has 8 resident theater companies, not to mention a ballet and symphony. Talk about an arts community.  

When I go to these things I get inspired at what my community could do if we could all get together and express our art-thus impacting our culture.

What about it? Want to join me?

I Don't Know What To Say

I don't know what to say about this.  My friend Tyler Braun analyzed his site and it said that there was a 98% probability that it was written by a woman.
So I sauntered over to this site and typed in my results which you see to the left.  Not 98% like Tyler's but 64%--hmmm. Guess all of the talk about staging, fabric and music tilted it in the feminine direction!   One of Tyler's friends said maybe he should cuss some more and bring the meter back to the masculine side.  I don't think I'll try that.

Go ahead--check out your blog and let me know--Are you Man or Woman?

Mac Vs. PC- The Transformers

I'm a Mac/PC hybrid--Mac because I choose to, PC because most of the world is still PC. Having spent 5 hours yesterday on a Windows Update issue and realizing there was nothing I could do about it--I made this statement: "I hate PC's-Mac's are better"
I then went to a Mac Pro book and popped out three or four projects that had been waiting all day long. Need I say more.

This video may provide some of the back story of the battle between PC and Mac. Enjoy! And Doug--a Mac isn't served under the golden arches.
Are you Mac or PC?

Nashville Bound

I'm Nashville bound today as I make my way there for Cre:ate Conference.
Tonight I'll attend  BYE BYE BIRDIE produced by the Steeple Players in Hendersonville.

Here's a little bit about the Steeple Players:
Originally located at the Hendersonville First United Methodist Church, the Steeple Players utilized the church's main facility for its productions. There we began our mission as a ministry, providing a safe haven for children and adults to utilize their God-given gifts and talents in theatre production. We also welcome and encourage participation from residents of Sumner County and surrounding areas.

This mission, along with the high quality of productions we present, has led to the expansion of our organization beyond what the church facility could physically accommodate. Our 2003-2004 season presented Steeple Players with the opportunity to relocate to our own venue.

The leadership of Steeple Players is made up of residents of the Sumner County area. There is no paid staff - volunteers do all the work of the organization. The Steeple Players supports its operating budget with revenue from productions, sponsorships, and donations.
I'm always interested in artists who impact their community with their craft. I'll post pictures later tonight.

The Old People Are Gaining On The Net

That is the old people (older than 32!!!).  Look at these stats:
You can follow the rest of the article here.
Seems that us Oldies don't use the net for just entertainment.  According to the article we use it for information (duh...the information superhighway), research and communication.  The Young Ones (under 32) use it for Entertainment and some communication.  Seems they've all migrated to Texting instead of emailing.   

So--tell me are you YOUNG or OLD?

Create '09---Here I Come!

Today I depart for Nashville and the 2009 Cre:ate Conference which will converge on The Factory At Franklin beginning Monday.   Some of the highlights of the week:
  • Fellowship with fellow creatives.  I'm looking forward with time together with this guy and this guy and this guy, not to mention this guy and finally this guy.  All of them will have permission to speak into my life this week.
  • Musical guests like Michael W. Smith, Tenth Avenue North, Steve Fee Band and Josh Wilson.
  • Surprises--Cre:ate is always full of creative surprises.  Special trips and guests are the marks of this great event.
  • Resources---loads of resourse. So much that I have to bring an extra bag to bring it all home in.
  • City--exploring one of the fastest growing cities in the south, Nashville (Nashvegas as it's locals call it).
I'll be blogging each day from the conference to let you experience this with me.

Snyder Has Something B.A.D.

The latest addition to the culinary scene here in Snyder is the Big Apple Deli (BAD) on the Square and adjacent to our church.  I go there when I'm ready to get away and only want to walk a few steps to lunch.  

It is an old office building that has been transformed into a 'eclectic' dining experience ( you eat off of tables made from old oil barrels and wood) while you marvel at the old tin celing.  They offer deli style sandwiches and other things.
It's a neat atmosphere as you dine and with Free wi-fi, who can beat it!   If you are ever in town--give it a try!

Here I Am Lord

Our Senior Adult choir sings monthly at one of two nursing homes in the area. Late last year we sang at one of these homes for Christmas. As we got ready to depart one of the residents slipped me a piece of music and asked "Can you sing this next time?"

I forgot about that music until we were preparing to go to that same home yesterday to sing. I pulled out the music and told the story to the choir. They were excited to sing it for the man.

When we began the piece yesterday, I could see the man smile from ear to ear. When we got to the chorus "Here I Am Lord" he was singing at the top of his lungs. I thought to myself as he sang this, here is this man in a nursing home and he's calling out to the Lord to use him even in the midst of a situation which is less than desireable. What can we learn from this?

1. We're never too far that we can't call on the Lord. The cry "Here I Am Lord" is a surrender to the Lord's will whatever situation we find ourselves in.
2. God isn't finished until he's finished. We may give up on God's work--but He doesn't. Whatever situation we find ourselves in can be used by God for his Kingdom and purpose.

"Here I am Lord, I have heard you calling in the night. I will go Lord if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart"

REPOST: The Mandle--Candles for Men

I thought this was interesting in light of my post the other day about my office. I have a candle on my desk..and yes I light it from time to time. It's in front of me so I can always see it and remember to blow it out. However, in my years of office work I have been known to wake up in the middle of the night (say 2-3 AM) and worry that I didn't blow it out when I left. So, I'd make a trip to the office in those wee hours and breathe a sigh of relief when I saw that the building hadn't burned down. You may laugh at this video--but I'm a fan of candles. That's why they call me the Catholic-Baptist. Everything has to have a candle in it.

Creative fuZion- Here and Now Weekend

We finished up our Disciple Now Weekend and now have time to look back over the weekend and celebrate.

We used the weekend logo in several place--the largest being our banner made by Backdrops.Us  It truly gave us a presence for the weekend.  We also used it in the chapel for the background for the speaker.

Some have asked about the schedule for the weekend.  Here it is:
Friday evening:  Adults/Kids meet (Adults in chapel-Kids upstairs) Youth arrive late--attend concert-then go to homes
Saturday morning: Adults/Kids--repeat Friday night schedule Youth in homes; Everyone together for lunch at the church
Saturday afternoon:   Kids to local indoor pool; Youth back to homes for recreation/free time
Saturday evening:  Everyone back together for worship; Youth back to homes after service.
Sunday morning:   Everyone in their own group bible study; Celebration time together in late Worship service.

Rather simple--but it worked!

This post is part of Creative Fuzion over on Dorothy's site.

A Salute To Henry

I was saddened today to hear that Henry Rayburn, artist and brother of my good friend Byron Rayburne had passed away. He will be missed.
Henry was an accomplished artist who came at his art from several directions. He drew upon his simple upbringing in Central Texas, his world travels through the Peace Corps and also his experience as an architect.

The pictures above are the exterior of the Maury Maverick Jr. Library where Henry combined his love of collage and architecture together. Also versed in mixed media, Henry's works were shown across the US in several galleries.

I only met Henry a couple of times at family events. I wish that I had spent more time getting to know this creative. He will be truly missed by his family and by the artistic community he influenced for the last 30 years.

Be sure and check out Henry's blog and see his gallery. Now that he is gone--this is his legacy to the art world.

So long Henry--enjoy the beauty of heaven.

Where To Find The Bread-Resources for Creatives (Part 2)

This is part 2 in a series of posts on Creative sites that I use to draw inspiration and ideas from.  Last week's post can be seen here.

A new resource for us has been Shift Worship and their extensive collection of motion, still and mini-movies.   You can visit Shift Worship here.

For an annual fee ($149) you get unlimited downloads of motion, stills, mini-movies and countdowns for use in worship.  It's compatible with all of the major Media software.

We've used them for Christmas and other series--partly because they give you several looks for the same theme and feel.  You can even search by theme.   It's unbelievable what they offer for this price.  You'd have to have hundred's of cd's with this much material on it and they would cost you a minimum of $50. So, we think it's well worth the subscription price.

The site is updated regularly to give you the freshest material for your services.

IDEA-Who Do You Say I Am!

Apologies to those of you who clicked on this link last night or early this morning--I forgot this was to post and hadn't finished it.

One of the most successful series that we've had here at FBC was our WHO DO YOU SAY I AM? series where we looked at the IAM statements Jesus made about himself.

We carried this out through several large visuals and visuals through out the church plant.

These mosaics of Jesus were made from images that we collected (both classic and contemporary) from different church resources. Some of them were famous art pieces, some scultptures, some drawings, and others just personal representations of the Christ. We printed them on an 11X17 printer and mounted them to large box frames. Some simple deco'pauge and stain gave us the "old world" look we were after.

Other service elements:
"I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE"--Lord's supper day with the smell of bread in the Worship Center
"I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD"--room darkened, heavy use of candles.
"I AM THE GATE"---hughe metal gates on stage
"I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD"--use of a real Shepherd's crook to illustrate his care over the flock.

These were some of our first interactive services here and are still remembered. Just passing the bread along to my brothers and sisters out there--hope you find this helpful.

Visual Churches-Fellowship Church

Fellowship Church in Grapevine is one of the most creative churches around today.  They regulary host a Creativity conference where they give you a behind the scene look at their preparation for Sunday's and special events.   They have become even more visual and creative in their worship planning in the last few years, engaging the audience throught sight and sound. 
The videos above come from their Christmas Eve services (11 services in all) and a creative element from one of their Sunday gatherings where they illustrated the scriptural principle of "old to new" by painting the guy in bright flourescent colors.


This song by Ross King is an expression of an artist who longs for the church to be an authentic place.  Listen to the song here and read along with the lyrics.  Click the widgets to the right to hear the song sample.

Everybody Medicates
Words and music by ross king
A pot of coffee starts his day off right
A cigarette at 10 and 3
A drink or two will get him thru the night
It’s simple chemistry
She is a whirlwind of activity
She rarely finds the time to rest
Never too much responsibility
That’s when she’s at her best

Everybody medicates, everybody medicates
And most of us will suffocate beneath the weight
Everybody medicates unless the church becomes a place
Where we are safe and free to say that we’re not OK

He is successful in his line of work
He’s clocking sixty hours a week
He is a leader in his local church
And everybody sees
She’s flipping thru the fashion magazines
Before she heads out to the mall
She’s searching for a new identity
Seems like she’s tried them all

Everybody medicates, everybody medicates
And most of us will suffocate beneath the weight
Everybody medicates unless the church becomes a place
Where we are safe and free to say that we’re not OK

One tree
That’s all He keeps from us
And somehow it is driving us insane
Fig leaves have never been enough
To cover up our nakedness and shame
Who are we fooling with this game?

She skips a meal or two and no one knows
It’s been this way for quite a while
She’s finally fitting into last year’s clothes
Too bad they’re out of style
He looks at pictures on the internet
He needs it much more than he should
He’s so surprised no one has caught him yet
He wishes someone would

Everybody medicates, everybody medicates
And most of us will suffocate beneath the weight
Everybody medicates unless the church becomes a place
Where we are safe and free to say that we’re not OK
©2003 ross king all rights reserved

Questions that it raises:
1.  Is the church guilty of medicating people (not medicinally, but emotionally and socially)? Do we provide a drug that people think they need when really what they need are authentic relationships (first with Christ and then with each other?)
2. Can church ever be a place where true "authentic exposure" can be tolerated and embraced?  Why is it so hard for the church to be the place of grace instead of condemnation?  Why is the church the last place that people run to for help?

Hard questions--but ones that must be asked.  What say you?

All In The Family- Part 3

DNOW 2009 is finished and in the books. My kids had a great time and want to do it again next year.

We've been away from the DNOW format for a couple of years as we have participated with churches in the area for a COMMUNITY Wide event held at the high school. It's had an amazing attendance each year, but as it gets bigger it's become more of an "EVENT" instead of discipleship training. I'm glad we've returned to a more streamlined weekend with the kids.

Here are some of the objectives of Disciple Now (as stated on the Lifeway web site)

Individual church's objectives for DiscipleNow may
vary, but six overall objectives are recommended.
1. Each student will consider and know if there has
ever been a time in his or her life in which a personal
relationship with God was begun through an
encounter with Jesus Christ.
2. Students will be challenged to make Jesus Christ
Lord of their lives.
3. Students will experience a spirit of community and
love in every host home.
4. Leaders will identify specific needs of each student
and begin to minister to those needs.
5. Leaders will encourage spiritual growth and model
spiritual disciplines as an ongoing part of a believer?s
6. The total church will become aware of what disciple-
ship is all about.

The last objective is what this weekend was about.  The whole church (every age, every grade, every one) needs to understand what Discipleship is all about.  I think we did that this weekend successfully.
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Have you attended a Disciple Now?   What format did you follow?  Was it successful?

Worship Confessional, January 25,2009

We're back in two worship services now.  In two weeks the later service will shift back to a more blended style of worship like we've been doing the last three week.
This was also the concluding services for our Discipleship Now Weekend.  The Jeff Johnson Band led us in the later service.

Early services:
To God Be The Glory
He Keeps Me Singing
Wonderful Wonderful Jesus
Special-Sr. Adult Choir--"The Church In The Wildwood"

Later Service
Here Is Our King
Marvelous Light
Baptism--I got to baptize my Office Assistant, Selena Messenger--what a joy!
Video Wrap up of the weekend
You Are God Alone (Not A God)
I Stand In Awe
Mighty To Save
Ky Martin preached.
Glorious Day--old hymn with new tune that is title of Jeff's album, GLORIOUS DAY.
We sent out a letter this week detailing what the services will look like for the next few weeks. Today was "LOUD" and we knew it would be, so we did some advance notification.  It worked for the majority of folks, but some evidently didn't ge the message.  And, they were vocal!  If I heard one more comment about the volume, I was going to scream.  Why is it that people feel it necessary to give their opinion over and over again like it hasn't been told to you and they feel it is their spiritual duty to let you know?  

I spent the day in the back with the Tech team.  I did CG and called the video shots today.  I had more fun with those guys just sensing the spirit in the service and creating moments.  I loved it!

Again, POWERPOINT is lousy for media presentation and I was having the ongoing issue with MEDIA SHOUT and POWERPOINT arguing over who had rights to the monitor and display. Always something isn't it?

Next week I'm at Crosspoint in Nashville with Pete Wilson.  I can't wait. My friend Rich Smith will lead here in my place.

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

All In The Family- Part 2

We've come to the end of day 2 of our FAMILY DNOW. It's been a good day.

Highlights so far--the speakers/music have spoken to our need here at FBC for true community. That's not always the popular message, but when the Holy Spirit speaks and confirms through speakers and leaders who have no inside knowledge of where we are---it's powerful.  God does speak!

No time to post more tonight--I'm off to do the wrap up video for tomorrow.  One thing that has been reaffirmed to me--I HATE POWERPOINT!!!

You're Not The Boss of My Life!

During a lunch date with my oldest child yesterday, we talked about life in general, but more specifically how she, growing up so fast, is encountering situations that are challenging her and trying to "rule" her life.

We laughed as we remembered a saying that Daniel, my youngest, used to say to his two older sisters as they tried to "steer" him as a young man in how to play when he was together with them in their playroom.   I remember that I used to hear sweet sounds of play and giggling but almost immediately I would hear Daniel yell "You're not the boss of my life!" as he stormed out of the room.  Ah, the lessons that childhood teaches you.
In talking about this, Taylor and I discussed what it means to stand for your own convictions, beliefs and values.   We talked about how differing opinions and agendas will often clash with your own.  She must learn now to stand up for herself.
It's a lesson she must learn now and one that I need to remind myself daily to do.  People will come at you with agendas and lists and wants.  I need to legitimately weigh them against the situation and my core values, elsewise I am a flip-flopper and a people pleasing fool!   
There's only one boss in my life-Jesus!  I must listen to him first and with great intent and then I'll know how to answer on the "playground of life" when my own situation arises.

How do you answer the question "who is the boss of your life?"

All In The Family

Family Disciple Now Weekend
We kicked off our Family Disciple Now weekend tonight with the Jeff Johnson Band and Ky Martin, both from Dallas leading.

Disciple Now is a "Baptist" Discipleship program where the students stay in homes and have a guided leader who talks about discipleship.  These leaders will have individual time with them over the weekend.  You can download a FREE DNOW weekend planning guide here.

The twist this year is that the whole FAMILY is involved.  This evening we started with Adults in the chapel and kids in their rooms upstairs.  The youth didn't arrive until 10PM and were treated to a concert by the band (tried to Web cam it for you but the computer froze up because  who would have thought to remember that the Worship Center computer does a full scan at 10PM everynight!)  We'll all be together for lunch tomorrow, then split up again and come back together on Saturday night for a BIG worship time--multigenerational.  Sunday AM is the conclusion of the weekend.

We're hosting 9 6th grade girls on top of me helping oversee the production of the services in the chapel and worship center.  I'll be exhausted by the end of the weekend.

I will post pictures as they come available.

Don't Go Changing To Try To Please Me.....

This is PETE WILSON.  He's the Pastor of Crosspoint Church in Nashville/Dixon, one of the fastest growing churches in the Middle Tennessee region.  I'll be worshipping with Crosspoint on Feb. 1 when I'm there for Re:Create Conference.
Although Pete and I have never met, we've dialogued enough through emails and blogs and Twitter for me to know that when I'm there--it will be as if I've known him forever.

You see, his blog WITHOUT WAX, is named for the latin word for Sincere, meaning there is no pretense or pretedning with Pete.  That's what I love about him.  He shares regularly from the heart and about his family and has an amazing wife.
Pete is doing a series now called "Paralyzed" and this past Sunday he shared from his heart one of the struggles in his life.   He blogged about it on Monday and found great comfort in those who were moved by his authenticity.  But there's always one who finds it uncomfortable and they expressed it to Pete in this email:
Today’s service was the second time you have talked about your personal challenge with certain internet “sites”.
I understand that we’re all human. I also understand the concept and principle of confession. However, I found it very uncomfortable and more than a bit unsettling that you feel it’s relevant and acceptable to remind the congregation of such worldly ugliness in a house of worship and safe haven.

We don’t attend to be reminded of the world and it’s pitfalls. We attend to be cleansed and “not of the world”.
We all know that this entraps some people, but perhaps your “confession” would be better suited to professional contemporary or one of your “community groups” for those who are similarly challenged. 
Wow!  Talk about a misunderstanding of what church is.  
A service is different from church.  Church is where the body is "authentic"--sharing the struggles and joys of life.  I wrote Pete and told him that I couldn't find anywhere in Scripture where it says that church is a car wash where we bring our dirt in and come out clean. (Wax on..wax off Mr. Miagi!)  I do find in scripture (Isaiah 6) where it says when we encounter a Holy God, we realize how undone and how unclean we are and we must confess--that's worship.

Many found Pete's confession to be healing to them.  I have no doubt that when he shared it that it wasn't because of theatrics...it's just who Pete is?   I told him the line from Billy Joel came to mind--"Don't go changing to try to please me.. I love you just the way you are!" You go Pete!

So--what do you think?  Can Pastors, Ministers and Leaders genuninely share about their lives and struggles?  Must they always preserve the "mirrors" that Ministers have it all together?  What do you think?

Creative Fuzion--ROOTS

Thursday is the time to post on something creative that we've done or will do in the future. This is one of those "we're going to do projects". I'll post later how it actually turned out.

We begin a new series next weekend so we're in the process of production for the publications, promotions and production of the series. We'll be in Ephesians for the Spring and we're calling the series ROOTS.

You can see from the graphic that we took that literally. This first set up will reflect that theme.
We got the idea for the Triptych graphic from my visit to Irving Bible back earlier in the month. The graphic for the stage will be printed on HP Banner Material 36"X144".

They'll be eye catching when you walk into the room. Just outside of that area will be the ROOTS logos and materials. Now--all of this has to be done before I go to RE:CREATE next weekend. Here's hoping that it all falls in place.

This post is part of Creative Fuzion over on Designing for Phillistines.

Twitter A Little Prayer

Although being a minister is sometimes likened to being a Super hero (you know those guys with super powers and strength that bound from building to building, event to event), it is not like that at all.  We (shock) are human too (gasp!!!) and from time to time we need strength and encouragement too (faint-thud!)  
If you made it through that shocking paragraph, congratulations.  Monday-Tuesday were some low days for me.  I needed a bit of encouragement and that probably wasn't going to come quickly.  I reached out for prayer to this guy ( a new friend from Twitter). 

Just a bit of background on this relationship.  It began through blogging.  He read my blog and I read his.  I noticed that he was in Cairo, Egypt.  Cool!    Suddenly this fall I was blessed with a trip to Egypt and made contact with him to meet.  And we did and the friendship has grown.

So Monday evening late  I twittered to him-- "Pray for me!".  This would have been in the wee hours of Tuesday morning for him.  When I awoke Tuesday morning here I received his message--ever so encouraging but also rather direct.  He wasn't just praying for my situation to change, he was praying for me to change.   I didn't ask for that--but he sensed that was what I needed.

I trodded off to work with that thought in mind that somewhere half a world away a fellow brother in Christ, whom I've only know for a short period of time, was interceeding in my behalf.  Amazing!   All day long his prayer resounded in my ear as I watched the Spirit bring to pass what had been whispered in the far away land of Egypt.

That's the power of Twitter--the connectedness through this medium so often reviled and misused for evil and harm.  It can be used for good.

The great part of this story is that I will get to see him in less than a week in Nashville for Re:Create Conference.   What a blessing that will be to see him again and this time to pray together in person.

So, have you learned the power of Twitter?  Follow me here.

Where To Find the Bread-Resources for Creatives

Every creative is always looking for great resources to jump start their projects or to inspire their creativity. I thought I'd title this series "WHERE TO FIND THE BREAD" and just let you take a peek into my pantry of resources that I've collected in the last few years. It seems that just a few years ago I was only having to worry about resources for music. That's not true anymore. Today I have to look for resources in: MEDIA, MUSIC, SOUND, PRODUCTION and more. Much more than just the latest anthem.

Today: STOCKEXCHANGE (Free Stock Photos)

Increasingly every church is having to come to grips with the visual revolution taking place. Even the smallest of churches and venues have to have backgrounds for powerpoint or some other media program. Where do you go after all of the stock MICROSOFT backgrounds have become stale. Here's a place that I've found to be a great resource for graphics.
Gathered here are a ton of pictures that are available for your use on websites, blogs, print pieces, cards and more. Most of them are carried under the Creative Common License where you are granted use in any number of forms. Very few of them require permission from the creator to use, but in those chances that you have to ask permission it is easily obtained.

When we needed a quick graphic and look for our last series CELEBRATE, I went here!

It gave us that VECTOR look that is popular and a quick color scheme that we carried forward with the stage pieces. We just enlarged them to 44x84 (almost 4X8) and attached them to stiff insulation board. It was a quick answer to our graphic needs over the holidays.

I like to browse through Stockexchange (abstracts, architectural, etc) and be inspired by the artists there. If I find an artist that I connect with their pieces--I look at the whole gallery to see if there's something else. Invariably, I will see something there that I connected with on another search. Seems like your eye is always drawn to the artists who speak to you.

It's a great resource and it's free. The graphic quality is amazing as they give LARGE files to print from for great quality and clarity. Check them out.

Where do you find your graphics/visuals?

Visual Churches--Westwinds Church

John Voelz is a creative!  Everything in his ministry exudes the creativity that God has given him. Through music, art and writing, John expresses his creativity.

Look at this videos of some of the creative stuff that JVO (short for John Voelz) has done at Westwinds Church, located in the Jackson, Michigan.

I'll get to spend some time with JVO in the next few weeks at the Re:Create Conference.   I'm looking forward to learning more from this creative gift God has given the church.

Thank You President Bush

Today I want to thank President Bush for his 8 years of service to our nation.   I, for one, will miss his leadership--strong and steady even in the face of fierce criticism and assualts on his character.
I can remember 9/11 and wondering what this new President would do with such a national challenge.  We would soon learn that this was  a man of resolve and determination and our nation has benefited from that strong will.
So today, thank you President George Bush and welcome home to Texas.  Let's do lunch sometime--I'll buy!

Do Good To Others...For God Is Pleased

I was forwarded this story this afternoon about an unusual football game that took place here in Texas this fall.  PLEASE READ THIS STORY.  I can't stress enough how much truth there is in this story.

Scripture says:
Hebrews 13:16 (New International Version)
16And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

This story just reminds me that the greatest blessings in life come when we get out of the way and consider and esteem others above ourselves and our own agendas.  This team was truly blessed by those who know it is more blessed to give than to receive.  May their tribe increase.

Finding Your Muse--Creativity In The Church

This series of posts will focus on Creativity in the church and where it comes from.  I hope that you aren't taken back or offended by the word MUSE.   I hope you'll see in a moment why I use that word.

Where does creativity come from? The Ancient greeks thought that spirits or Muses were responsible for the creation of that which never had been before (poetry, music, art, science, etc).  Every great literary giant (Homer, Milton, Dante, Shakespeare) has given homage to his own muse for helping him create what ever masterpiece it is.   The Muse gives the instant inspiration and invitation to create.

So where does a Christian artist find their Muse?  I believe that it is the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity which gives the inspiration for creativity in the church.  It is this spirit which whispers the inspiration of heaven to artists, musicians and dancers and those attuned this spirit do the work of creativity in the church.

I hope over the next couple of posts to explore where and how to listen more intently to the Holy Spirit as the inspiration for art in the church.   Those that truly find this Muse do the work of heaven.

What are your thoughts?  Do you agree that the Holy Spirit is our Muse?   

How To Build Community With Twitter

This is an excellent article in how to build community using Twitter.

The raging debate at the Church Tech Camp I attended last week in Irving was "Can you build community with online social media?". You can read some responses here how Twitter has impacted lives because of community:

I'm reading this book now and have set up an account for us to use in the future (unfortunately I'm the only Twitter bug on staff and by Twitter Grader--I'm the only one in my town!). Hopefully in 2009--more will join me.

So, do you Twitter? You can follow me here.

"We Want to Go Back To Egypt"

Numbers 14: 1-4

1 That night all the people of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. 2 All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, "If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert! 3 Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn't it be better for us to go back to Egypt?" 4 And they said to each other, "We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.

It's funny how things come together in your life.  I've been pondering a post about Comfort, Creativity and Crisis--how this is a time in our lives when some want to go forward and some want to go back.  I've written several drafts but never posted on it.  I've just been waiting until today when our pastor preached on the above passage and mentioned this Sara Groves song.  

If you haven't already, play the video and listen to the words.  They are powerful.  

We all long for a simpler existence, one that is free from problems and challenges.  But that isn't reality.  The children of Israel had just seen the Lord do mighty things for them by rescuing them out of Egypt-but they were hestitant to enter the Land that God had promised them.  They wanted to go back to Egypt.

How many times have you heard in recent days, "oh if we could just go back to..
  • the days of Clinton--the days of prosperity
  • the days of peace--when we weren't involved in wars
  • the days of prosperity--when there were enough jobs to go around
  • the days of youth--when all of our lives were open books--ready to be written.
  • the days of past history--the grand and glorious days--(which by the way weren't so grand and glorious then
You see, as Sara Groves says in her song, we seem to leave out the bad stuff of the past.  I do it too.  I long sometimes for the simpler days of my own life--when life seemed to be slower and sweeter. But there were hard times then too.

So, what will it be in these days.  Will it be comfort or creativity to see what the future holds? In reading a book the other day the author stated that by holding on to the past we forfeit the ability to enjoy the present or plan for the future.  I don't want to hold on to the past for, as the song says, it can't hold on the treasures that the present has taught me.

What do you think?  Do we really want comfort or creative solutions for our problems today?

Worship Confessional, January 18, 2009

Today was our final "combined" service. We've been together for 3 weeks to celebrate the victories in our church during the last year.

We've done that through FINANCES, FAMILIES and today was FRIENDSHIPS. We highlighted relationships that have been built with people outside our church in the community this year through our Summer Camp, Community groups and care programs.
It's so great to hear from individuals who have embraced the vision to be "Christ" in their neigborhoods. We heard from families that have done that this morning--through being a host home in their community for a group or opening up their lives to those who don't come to church. It was AWESOME!

I've heard lots of good things about being "together" in worship. We've tried to strike a balance on styles in order for that not to be the focus during these weeks.

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Here was our set:
"A Mighty Fortress Is Our God " (HymnCharts)
"At Calvary" (G3Worship)
"Here I Am To Worship" (PraiseCharts)
"I Am Thine O Lord (HymnCharts)
Interview with FRIENDS--people who are in community with our community. (This includes our former Children's minister and her husband who have become "Foster" church parents to some kids that they pick up every Sunday morning for church then do lunch and life with them Sunday afternoon. It's the highlight of the kid's week)
Message--from Numbers 13--Don't Count On The Odds-Count On Faith! (the story of the spies who went into the land and saw the good things/contrasted with that who said it was too hard. Wow--what a powerful word!)
(Pastor ended with the reading of Psalm 137--with the response of "His Love Endures Forever")
"Forever"--Chorus Only
"Offering" (G3 Worship)
"He Is Exalted" (Songselect Chart)

We then adjourned across the street for a "traditional Baptist meal"--Fried chicken and covered dishes. What else could we do?

How was your Sunday?

This post is part of Sunday Set List over on Fred McKinnon's Blog