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Obedience to Honor

January 21, 2012

Last year I had no idea what was in store for me and for our family as I chose Obedience to be my One Word 2011. This year as I prayed about a word that God might want me to use in focusing  throughout 2012, I was overwhelmed with the subtle and simple ways in which He hinted at what that word should be.

Last summer our family moved across the country so that Ingrid and I could step into ministry positions at a church in Tracy, CA. As I write this, I still can’t believe that I’m the Director of Music/Fine Arts and she’s the Director of Media at St Paul’s Lutheran Church. God’s blessed us with this incredible ministry opportunity and basically said, “Have at it!” It’s so daunting and so amazingly beautiful. God has entrusted us with this; given us authority over it. He wants to use us to create and build and advance His kingdom. So that’s why my One Word 365 this year has got to be, Honor. Jesus has so lovingly honored my desire to serve in music ministry full-time; so I want to honor Him and give glory to His dominion in the way that I serve my family, our church/school and in the way that I move and lead in any other ministry opportunities being born out of work.

As I’ve locked into this word, Honor, Jesus has so gently shown me where my focuses should be first and foremost…

I honor Him by seeking Him daily. I need His Words on my lips and in my heart. The dialogue between He and I should be on-going…not a quick chat and then hang up the phone.  In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:3

I honor Him in my life by honoring Ingrid and our marriage. Because we work together as well, this can be a bit more (seemingly) complex but it’s really not. I’ve got to honor her first as my spouse and also as my right-hand ministry partner…cause that’s what she is. Don’t let the B.S. tear at our communications or muddle up the joy that we find in one another. This, like no other time, is the time to cling to one another; to lift each other up. I love doing this with her.

I honor Him by leading; by taking seriously the craft of leading people in worship through music and singing. It’s the bread and butter. So I want that to be the cornerstone of what I do. I don’t want to lose focus or creativity. So I’ve got to make time to write, to dream, to teach and learning alongside our music and media team members.

I honor Him by meeting the people of our church and our community right where they are at. It’s ok for me to introduce new ideas…to stretch our congregation within the authority that the Lord and our wonderful pastor has given me. But I have ensure that I understand their history; where they’ve been. This is really big for me and probably the most single aspect that solidified my choice of making Honor my word for this year. It’s difficult to effectively lead people in any endeavor if the leader fails to take a look at where that group has been. So I think it’s crucial to honor the authority and parameters that have been given to me and with God’s help, to create and lead right to the very edge of those limits. And I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that He’ll honor that obedience.

Jesus, make 2012 a year where I honor You in all that I do: In my relationship with You, in my marriage, in my worship leading and my songwriting. Prompt me to stretch in my creativity and to focus on honoring and strengthening the relationships that You bring into my life. Amen.

So it’s not too late in the year to do this…if you want to ask God about a word He might have you focus on this year, ask Him. If you don’t have a blog, let us know and you can guest-post on ours. Either way, don’t forget to link your post up with the www.oneword365.com community!

Hope to Gratitude

January 4, 2012

My one word for 2011 was HOPE.  And oh my dang it did not disappoint.

I knew I’d need a reminder for hope so early off last year, I purchased a necklace with a small tag on it that read “hope”.  Everyday, I was reminded of my word as I put it on and I was pleasantly surprised of how that morning ritual reminded me to seek out hope in all things.

I found hope and Joel and I dove in to pursue full-time ministry.

I’ve scrapped to find hope in some dark times and been in awe of the hope given to me in some fantastically good times.

And if I’ve learned anything from hope, it is to be thankful for all the many blessings – and for hope itself.

A side bar to hope for me has been, as the year progressed, to be grateful for the faith to hold on or to rejoice or whatever else a situation may call for.

As I began to pray about what my focus for this next year should be I was surrounded by gratitude – quotes, sermons, funny quips – the whole lot.  And so I decided to embrace it…

My one word for these next 365 days is GRATITUDE.

I will purpose to show gratitude in all situations – good, bad and ugly.

And again, I have another visual reminder staring back at me each day. So as each situation arises, I have something in front of me reminding me to choose gratitude, savor it, or search for it – either way, gratitude is the way for me this year.

 

Do you have a word that is guiding you this year?  If so, please link up with the www.oneword365.com community

Salmon?

October 26, 2011

Sometimes my son just downright starts preaching to me. Here’s the oratory he gave me the other day. I love this boy.

Dad, you know that God uses us right? He uses us in all kinds of ways: to feed people, give people medicine, teach them music; but most of all, we have GOT to tell them about Jesus…it’s our job that God gave us! And it’s your job Dad. We moved here so you can help Pastor Kal tell people about Jesus.

Me (dumbfounded): “Um…that’s right buddy.

He continues…

And you know Dad, it’s just like when God used salmon in the Bible. Remember He used salmon to help the people in the Bible?

Me: Wait…what?!?

Dad you KNOW that God used salmon! Our Sunday school teacher told us all about how God used salmon to lead His people!

Me: Buddy, do you mean Sampson?

Right, Sampson!

That was the end of the conversation from his perspective.

So whether it’s your son, daughter, niece, nephew, or one of the wacky neighborhood kids, let’s hear one of your silly kid stories! Whatchya got?

Joel

Just tell me what to do here…

August 31, 2011

I was reading Numbers 10 in the Bible the other day and verse 23 tells how the Israelites obeyed God in His telling them when to move and when to stop and set up their encampments. For a whole lot of reasons, I’m guessing, God’s kept this verse anchored in heart even weeks after I’ve read it. Thought I’d share it with you today.

“At the Lord’s command they encamped and at the Lord’s command they set out. They obeyed the Lord’s order in accordance with His command through Moses.”

Lord, help me to move when you say so and to stay put when you tell me to. Tell me when to engage in conflicts or conversations, when to simply listen, when to back away slowly, and when to run away at a dead sprint. And convict me to do all of those things right when you tell me to instead of 10 minutes too late.

-Joel

Letting Leviticus Remind Me

August 3, 2011

So I’m going through a chronological Bible reading program. It’s something I committed to at the beginning of the year and quite frankly, had been doing really poorly at the first few months of the year…And then I slacked off again while we were getting ready for the move out to California. Needless to say, I’m not that far along, but I’m back on track now…I think.

I’m right in the middle of Leviticus and every time I mention that fact to someone, I get some pretty interesting responses. Everything from “Wow…how’s that going for you?” to “Oh, I’m sorry.” to “Have you gotten to the chapters about infectious diseases yet?” Yes, I have.

Anyway, I just thought I’d share what’s been running through my mind since Leviticus became a morning routine for me.

Reading it makes me even more in awe of a God who is all together unfathomably holy, fierce, nurturing and loving. And I understand why God had to be specific and had to be prescriptive in providing the rules and regulations for the Israelites to live by. After all, the scriptures talk about how God chose to dwell among the Israelites in the camp, making it holy; Perfect God among a fallen human race. I can’t begin to understand what that looked like to the Israelites but I get the sense that they understood the untamed power and holiness of God in ways that I’m simply pawing at.

What really punches me in the chest about this book of the Bible is that despite being perfect and holy and dangerous and brilliant — God takes the time to show His chosen people how they can live in His holy midst. He teaches them how and why to fear him, how to humble themselves before him, how to serve Him. And in return, He protects and gives provision. He proves Himself good to the Israelites time after time as the One True God.

I keep hearing the C.S. Lewis – The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe character, Mr. Tumnus say that famous line to Lucy regarding their beloved hero Aslan: “After all, he’s not a tame lion.” To which Lucy immediately replies, “No… but he is good.”

I think the Israelites knew just that about God. They saw what happened when one of their own or an enemy of Israel wrongfully tested their fierce God. But they also saw God wanting desperately to be among them; to be the joy of their hearts.

For some reason, I’m finding so much freedom in the fact that we serve a God who is clearly not to be trifled with and yet lavishly chooses to teach me everyday and who pours out blessings and grace to the point of offering up his own Son so that I can live forever in His midst.

He’s not at all tame… but His heart for me is always good.

-Joel

Sunday Setlist (31 July 2011)

August 2, 2011

Wow…Apparently it’s been a little while since we posted on our blog. But hopefully people were able to follow our journey west through some of out everyone enjoyed the Twitpics/Twitvids and Instagram pics. We’re getting settled a bit more everyday and being able to be so close to our kids even when they’re at school is such a blessing to Ingrid and I (I can literally watch them out my office window when they play at recess) as we continue to build on the trends of Music & Media expressions of worship here at St Paul’s!

This past Sunday was the first time that I was responsible for the weekly practice and leading worship during the 10:00am service. Just as important, if not more, Ingrid was running sound for both of church services and, of course, did an excellent job! If you don’t know already — she’s excellent at what she does and I love being able to work alongside her!

Leading worship at St Paul’s for the first time was something I’ll always remember, not only was it such a joyful time of being with our new church family and singing praises to the God who makes all things possible, but it was such a sweet time of reflection for me as I thought about where I’ve been on my journey leading me to this point in my life. Bottom line, I’m so thankful that He’s never given up on asking me to do more for Him; on asking me to walk closer with Him; on showing me where I’ve wronged Him and in that very next instant, showing me His salvation in my life.

Such gifted musicians and singers here at St Paul’s and oh my goodness can that congregation sing! Here’s how our setlist panned out.

  • Your Grace is Enough (by Matt Maher)
  • Today is the Day (by Paul Baloche & Lincoln Brewster) — we did the Paul Baloche version
  • Lord Reign in Me (by Brenton Brown)
  • Revelation Song (by Jennie Lee Riddle)
  • Everlasting God (by Brenton Brown) with a big ending tag of John Mark McMillan’s How He Loves

I just can’t stress enough how welcomed we feel by everyone here in Tracy, CA. But we in that same respect, we would have never made it to this point if it weren’t for our “friends become family” back in Rolla, MO to include everyone at Greentree Christian Church whom we miss so dearly!

So, over the next few months, Ingrid and I are looking forward to being able to get back to our blogging a bit more regularly…and to catching up on reading a ton of posts from some of our favorite bloggers! Thanks so much to all of your who continue to be such a source of encouragement and joy in our lives. We thank God for you!

For the Saints of God & for the Lamb!

-Joel 

*Be sure to check out more Sunday Setlist posts at The Worship Community!

Sunday Setlist (12 June 2011)

June 15, 2011

Hey everyone! Just wanted to take a  few minutes to outline last Sunday’s Setlist that I led. I really liked the transitions that we were able to work throughout the set. Things I would do differently next time would actually be to try doing both “Joyful (The One Who Saves)” and “Glorious” using a couple of electric guitars ( 1 lead / 1 rhythm). Either way, it was a great time of singing praises to God which is always the most important thing! Here’s how our setlist looked.

  • Our God (Chris Tomlin) – Key of G
  • Joyful — The One Who Saves (Brenton Brown / Jason Ingram)  – Key of C  …straight into…
  • Glorious (Paul Baloche / Brenton Brown) – Key of C
  • Draw Me Close (Kelly Carpenter) – Key of A
  • How Great is Our God (Chris Tomlin) – Key of A  …straight into…
  • How Great Thou Art (Carl Gustav Boberg) – Chorus – Key of A

Such a fun set and how I love playing with this team of musicians. I’ll never be able to say that enough! Can’t wait to do it again this week!

-Joel