Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Picture Is NOT Worth A Thousand Words

Well, you know how I feel about visual imagery vs. words. While both are important, our native language is visual. Imagery is so important and powerful, that we must not exclude or minimize it in our gathered worship and teaching times. With that thought in mind, check out what Mark Batterson says about imagery...

"The old aphorism is wrong. A picture isn't worth a thousand words!

According to neurological research, the brain is able to process print on a page at a rate of approximately one hundred bits per second. But the brain can process a picture at approximately one billion bits per second. Mathematically speaking, a picture is literally worth ten million words!

Images are important because of the way the brain processes information. The brain recognizes and remembers shapes first, colors second and content third. It is the sequence of cognition. If you want people to listen to the content of what you have to say, you better think about how you shape it and color it. And if choosing color schemes seems to be void of spiritual significance read the book of Exodus. A dozen chapters are devoted to design. God gives very specific instructions about colors and scents to be used in the Tabernacle."

His article is on how to "brand" a sermon, but this point on imagery caught my attention. Read the whole article on his blog here.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Fun & Full Friday

If my week at church was busy, my Friday day off was no different. But it was fun! Andrea and I hit several garage sales today. Got a remote control AC outlet and Andrea bought a beautiful ceiling fan for $8. Also a few other things.

Andrea and I kept our usual Friday lunch date at Jade Garden. It's our favorite restaurant here in Helena. When just us two go, we share a sweet & sour chicken meal and keep the cost to about $15.

The ceiling fan was missing a couple parts so we got them at Lowes for about $7 more. That's about $15 for a $100 wireless Hampton Bay ceiling fan. Right on!

Since the last quarter at school has started, Andrik has been struggling in English class. He missed a couple of assignments and got a poor grade on a spelling test. His grade has been a D+ in the class! I hated to do it, but we restricted privileges until he is able to bring it up to a B. So after we picked the kids up from school, our weekly email came from his teacher. I told him he wouldn't be able to bring up up in one week. Guess what? I was wrong! He now has a B+ (87%).

We all went to the cinema and saw the Nicolas Cage movie Next. It was pretty good, but I don't like this trend of not ending movies. Pirates of the Caribbean 2, Eragon, and Next really don't have what I feel are satisfying endings. They all just leave you hanging. All in all though, I enjoyed Next.

When we got home, Kellin and I were playing catch in the front yard and we decided to let the dog out. We've been trying to teach Shadow to stay around and not run off when he's off the leash. The minute we let him out, he bolted at full speed. He usually comes back pretty quick so we waited. He didn't come back. We ended up having to chase him all around the neighborhood for about 2 hours. we were exhausted and I can't tell you how mad we were at the dog!

After the dog incident, I encouraged Kellin to try to ride his bike again. Kellin still can't ride his bike without training wheels. We took them off about 6 months ago, he's fallen a few times, and now he's afraid to ride. Well, after some encouragement, I got him on his bike and gave hims some pointers. Picture Kellin with knee pad, elbow pads, a helmet, and then me following him as fast as I can to keep him from falling. Anyway, went up the street and then back. He seemed to get the hang of it and by the end of the day - He's riding his bike now! I then fixed the bike Andrea bought at a yard sale a while ago (the chain came off). I adjusted for me and then Kellin and I took a ride until dark.

When we came inside, Kellin ate dinner and I began to install the new ceiling fan Andrea bought earlier. It took a little while, but now we have nice fan in our bedroom. The amazing thing? I didn't loose my scalp, any fingers, or electrocute myself. Thank God for simple success's.

Finally about 11:00, I sat down to watch my taped Friday shows. Both Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis were enjoyable. I'll miss SG-1 when it's gone :-(

All in all it was a fun, full Friday.

Thematic Week For Eric

Whew! It's been a busy week getting ready for this next Sunday. April 29 is our annual Mission Mania. While we had a lot of the work done already, I was working on a few more difficult and unexpected tasks this week, in addition to planning worship of course.

Last week I was able to come up with PowerPoint (PPT) and web graphics for Mission Mania. Our theme this year is kinda fun - Mission: Possible. See our webpage for a preview and I'll try to post some of the graphics later for you to check out. This week I made an overview PPT presentation of the missionaries we support, edited a video featuring the Chambers Family (one of the families we support), helped clean up the Sager's PPT presentation (they are speaking on Sunday).

It's also time to send out our first brochure for the Hannaford Fall Conference. This year's theme is "Defeating Discouragement: Strength for Today, Hope for Tomorrow." I've been racking my brain and scanning the internet for creative ways to communicate the concept. There is some conceptual imagery that has come to the forefront...
  • A JOURNEY: Life is a journey. Along the journey everyone gets discouraged sometimes. What is important is that we don't stay there. Rick Warren says that discouragement and depression are a disease and that we need to stay vigilant to address it when it pops up in our lives.
  • STEPPING STONES: Borrowing from the journey idea, every part of our life in another step forward. some of those steps include discouragement, but we need to keep moving forward.
  • A RAY OF LIGHT: When we're in the darkness we are always looking for that beacon of hope.
The final brochure will feature a guy standing in rays of light (No, I did not create it). It's sort of a white, reverse shillouiette (see above image - click to enlarge). I'll post the graphics and the web site once it's finalized.

I had a poor experience with a company called Basically, I ordered 3 lavalier mic windscreen replacements for our Sennheiser wireless lapel mics. Even though both InstrumentPro's and Sennheiser's sites both said the windscreens would fit, they don't. InstrumentPro's website says 1) they have a 100% satisfaction guarantee, and 2) they respond to all inquiries within 24 hours. So, I inquired with InstrumentPro last week and got no response. I inquired again and got a brief email telling me the website says the windscreens fit and also that they don't refund that type of product. (Gee, I might not have expected much if they didn't raise my expectations on their website!)

I wrote a quick email to IntrumentPro telling them that I regretted purchasing from them and that I would never use them again. I also said I would let people know of my experience with them. I then wrote a quick email to Sennheiser. I did not mention by bad experience with InstrumentPro, but merely asked if they could help. Sennheiser wrote back the same day, suggested some errors thay may have occured, offered to replace the windscreens if I sent them in, or even to send me new ones if I give them my mailing address! Guess which company I stand by?

We're only doing a few songs for worship Sunday, but it was still fun rehearsing. The youth worship team is doing one feature and they sound great! I thought it would be fun to integrate them into the rest of the set we're playing this weekend. The additions? Kaci will be on acoustic guitar, Nicholas on violin, Lexi on djembe, and Katrina on vocals.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Retired American Kills Mugger With Bare Hands

I just thought this story was fascinating. A 70-year-old mugging victim put his armed 20-year-old assailant in a head lock and killed him. You can find the story here on

Andrea On HGTV!

Okay, maybe not really - but I made you look. Actually, she's been working hard doing decorating work for various people in our church lately. When she hits the thrift stores and yard sales, she's buying for three different people right now. She's been quite busy, but is doing a great job!

We did actually submit three photos to HGTV's Now Andrea has her own space with photos and a description. Check it out her first submission here as long as it is still available!

Friday, April 20, 2007

YouTube Overload

I've come across several YouTube videos in the last few days that I just have to share. To embed them all in this post would be a YouTube overload here on the e|Something blog, so I'll post one and give you the links for all the others...
  • I posted before about "Where The H*** is Matt?" Here's a follow-up that is just as amazing called "Where The H*** Are Matt's Outtakes?" Find it here.
  • Although there are many, here is a touching slideshow honoring our troops overseas called "Remember Me." The video was created by a 15-year-old girl who (I would guess) has family serving over in Iraq. If you have anyone over there, this will bring a tear to your eye. (I also invite you to read the comments on this one. Notice how thoughtless people can be toward others just because of their politcal views.)
  • Here's another take on beatboxing. (Remember the beatboxing floutist?) This guy's knack is created with his video editing skills, but still pretty cool! Check it out here.
  • I came across this video. I really don't know this song, "Hallelujah," but I've heard it a few times underscoring some TV shows I watch. I don't really know the lyrics yet, but I love the music and the way the song goes. I'm always talking to our Praise Singers about how we need to do more than just sing the words, but communicate the heart of the song with all that we are. The vocalist really does a good job on this. (Also, if you can find me the name, original artist, or lyrics on this one - I'd be grateful.)
  • For the last link, enjoy this clip from MadTV. Watch about how the computer IT guy, Nick Burns, talks down to the other employees. As Eric Wright points out on his blog, this is a great analogy for us Christians and non-Christians. He writes "When it comes to the church and theology, I think most people just want to know how it works. They look at you with a blank face when you talk about predestination, millenialism, emergent, Arminian, or whatever theological boat you are floating in. They are interested in how to know God better and how to be a better person, and they want it in English."
Finally, check out this guy, Andy Mckee, on his guitar. Kaci, Katrina, and I were talking at our last rehearsal about how the chord fingering on "Your Glory" was a lot of movement back and forth. This guy makes me feel pretty silly. Watch how he uses his guitar. Maybe I don't get out much, but I think it's amazing! I could listen to him play all day long.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Exegeting Culture

And speaking of Mark Batterson, he's got a fantastic post on his blog today called Decoding Culture. While I suggest you read the post yourself, here are some highlights:
  • The moment we anoint our methods as sacred, we stop creating the future and start repeating the past. We stop doing ministry out of imagination and start doing ministry out of memory.
  • Too many pastors are getting A's in Biblical exegesis and D's in cultural exegesis.
  • The church has four options when it comes to engaging culture: 1) ignore it, 2) imitate it, 3) condemn it, or 4) create it.
  • If the church ignores the culture, the culture will ignore the church. If the church condemns the culture, the culture will condemn the church.
  • We can condemn culture, but condemnation is a cop out. Let me just call it what it is: condemnation is spiritual laziness.
  • [Creating Culture is] the only option if we're serious about fulfilling the Great Commission and incarnating the gospel.
  • At the end of the day, the culture will treat the church the way the church treats the culture. And we're not called to condemn. We're called to redeem.
  • It is difficult to demand attention if we don't pay attention. If we talk without listening, what we have to say is viewed as a diatribe. And we'll keep answering questions no one is asking!
  • Sixty percent of Americans who don’t attend church get their theology from movies and music. For better or for worse, musicians and movie makers are the chief theologians in our culture.
  • We have a choice [about movies and music]. We can ignore them. We can condemn them. Or we can dialogue about them.
  • We need to redeem cultural metaphors to communicate the gospel. [Jesus] framed truth in ways that fit within the cognitive categories of his listeners. If we choose to ignore the culture around us, we aren't following in the footsteps of Jesus.
These are some hard truths. If we are not speaking to and redeeming our culture. We are missing our purpose.

Tax Day

Gary Thomas has some great spiritual insight for tax day...

"Thinking about eternity helps us retrieve perspective. I'm reminded of this every year when I figure my taxes. During the year, I rejoice at the paychecks and extra income, and sometimes I flinch when I write out the tithe and offering. I do my best to be a joyful giver, but I confess it is not always easy, especially when there are other perceived needs and wants."

"At the end of the year, however, all of that changes. As I'm figuring my tax liability, I wince at every source of income and rejoice with every tithe and offering check--more income means more tax, but every offering and tithe means less tax. Everything is turned upside down, or perhaps, more appropriately, right side up. I suspect Judgment Day will be like that."

Thanks to Mark Batterson for bringing Gary's quote to light.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Kellin's First Songs

I think Andrik has inspired Kellin to write some songs of his own. Yesterday, while Andrik and I were working on another song of Andrik's, Kellin brought some lyrics of his own. Here they are, unedited...

You don't know that I'm better than you
Even though I can do a lot of stuff you can't do
We are free, free, free, free
You can do stuff I can't do
We trust God
He can do stuff no one can do

You are the best One I know
Filled with kindness
Filled with love
Filled with everything
You can help me
I love You
He loves me
He loves me
He loves me

Sunday After Easter Reflections

Worship today was nice. We had a wedding on Friday and an event is planned for Tuesday, so I had the stage cleared and didn't feel like setting up for Sunday and tearing it down in between. Because of this, we did an acoustic worship set this Sunday: piano, guitar, djembe, and a couple of singers. I really enjoyed the unplugged set:

Holy Is The Lord - Chris Tomlin
Resurrection Life - Tim Timmons
Your Name - Paul Baloche
All Creatures Of Our God And King - Passion Hymns
Beautiful Lord - Leeland

Andrik's Helena History Project

Andrik has been working on his Helena History Project for school most of the year. His topic of study is the Devil's Brigade, the First Special Service Force (FSSF). The FSSF was the original special military force created in World War II to fight the Germans using stealth ops. Their training tactics are the basis for modern forces such as the Green Berets, Navy Seals, and Delta Force. They were formed and trained at Fort Harrison, right here in Helena.

We did quite a bit of research online, but got a chance to visit the Montana Military Museum (at Fort Harrison) a few weeks ago. We were honored to meet (and Andrik interviewed) Captain Mark Radcliffe, an original member of the Devil's Brigade. What an amazing experience.

I'd like to post some of the photos, Andrik's report, and some of our research in another post later. For now, I wanted to tell you he filmed his report this last week. Sometime after the school year, the collection of all the students' reports will be aired on Montana PBS.

Click here to see the video.

Information Or Transformation?

Recently I posted on how many non-Christians actually believe in the resurrection of Christ. I also made the statement that " information does not transform lives, Jesus does."

Sharing this with the guys at church, I got a few comments back. Primarily, that information DOES change people. The example given - What about when we touch a hot stove?

I'm not very quick in my thought process, but it occurred to me that situations like that are only temporary. It takes a mind AND heart impact to make long-lasting transformation. In fact, touching a hot stove is really an "experience," not just the transfer of information. I still assert that it takes connectiveness and relationship for real transformation.

Consider this from Tony Morgan. A team member of his said, "People will follow vision. They won't follow information."

Tony responds, "We sometimes think if we just give people more information, they're more likely to connect and engage in ministry. More often than not, though, more information creates more confusion over what's really important. It's distracting. It's overwhelming. People stop listening."

"People do follow vision. In fact, they're energized and unified by it. If it's a God-ordained vision and the right leadership team stewards that vision well, it can have the power to transform people's lives."


Various Reading From The Web

I've been catching up on my reading from the web. Here's some stuff that caught my eye...

Seth Godin speaks to another reason the "experiences" we create in our church gathering are more important than we realize. Click here. has an interesting ministry inside Second Life, a virtual online world (find out more about Second life here). They had their first Easter service in Second Life. Read about the experience on Terry Storch's blog here.

Church Marking Sucks suggests that churches and Christians can use new internet technologies to engage culture. They encourage us to be willing to use online entertainment here, to be active in the formation of Wikipedia articles here, and to embrace RSS technologies here. Since internet usage has grown to almost 80%, a church website is no longer a novelty - it is a necessity. The same will be true as these other technologies gain usage and popularity.

Click here for a very simple and inexpensive way to start a small business or church website.

Shane Yancey of asks "Are we busy re-sewing the temple curtain?" Click here for his sermon outline - here for the mp3.

Seth Godin encourages us NOT to settle for the mediocre through compromise. Click here

Tony Morgan reports on New Spring's Easter service here. I find it interesting that they kept going with their normal series and didn't do a special "Easter" service. It seems to me that when you're connecting with people, every service is "special."

Finally, Perry Noble share these two amazing stories here and here.

Quotable Quips - The Most Painful Decision

"The difference between where you are and where God wants you to be may be the painful decision you refuse to make."

Craig Groeschel, the founding and senior pastor of in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. As quoted from the C3 Conference by Mark Batterson from his blog. (April 14, 2007)

We often cause ourselves a bunch of pain and hardship when we refuse to follow God, don't we. I can't help but think of Jonah.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Scared Of Easter?

Maybe I'm strange, but this church ad made me laugh...

By the way, check out the new featured photo from Easter. I've got some new Easter photos and a video coming soon. I'll let you know.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Easter 2007: What Is Your Greatest Day?

Our Easter worship celebrations were a great inspiration this year. Again, God really brought things together. Of course, I've mentioned before that our theme this year was "The Greatest Day." I gave a short synopsis of the background here. Here is a recap of Easter at Hannaford...

- All The Earth Will Sing Your Praises by Paul Baloche

John 3:16 tells us that "God so loved the world, He gave His only son, so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life."

Awesome Lord: Today we celebrate Your precious gift of physical and spiritual life available through Your death and resurrection. Really, the song says it quite simply. You lived, You died, You rose, You're alive! Because of Your great love, our hearts, our lives, our world ... is forever changed. Thank you. Help us to live each day for You. We pray this in Your name, Amen.

VIDEO - Your Greatest Day?
(Special thanks to the videographers: Erica Alexander, Jesse Shirley, and Ashley Robinson.)

For many of us, our Greatest Day is when a child is born. There is something magical when there is suddenly new life when there was none before. We are forever changed.

I would imagine that God feels the same way. God LOVES new life! Jesus said in Luke 15:7 that there is "there is more joy in heaven over one sinner's rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue." When we are lost and then become spiritually alive to Him ... every day that happens is God's Greatest Day ... a joyous, happy day.

- Happy Day (The Greatest Day in History) by Tim Hughes & Ben Cantelon

New life in this world ... new life though faith in God ... these are only possible because of Jesus. He died on the cross bearing our sins upon Himself. "He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5). But we are not ONLY forgiven, we are raised to new life in Him. Our strength, our hope, our life now comes from Him. His resurrection was ours ... and it was THE Greatest Day of all.

- My Savior My God by Aaron Shust & Dorothy Greenwell

DRAMA - Easter ... Everyday!We used the video here as inspiration. Basically Ruthie Hill did a live monologue. She sat at her computer with a camera connected as it recording an entry for "MyTube." We broadcasted the camera feed live to the big screen during the skit. Here are some minor changes we made to the video clip script:

'... Deep within the soul of every person is something that God places inside: life, purpose, hope, love. And it’s moving, stirring, wanting to come out and grow ... to be fully developed. He changes us forever ... and I don't want to deny that new life that's inside of me ... I want that "resurrection life." I want Easter ... EVERYDAY. That way everyday can be my Greatest Day. Does anybody else feel like this? I don't know, maybe I'm insane. I guess I'm rambling again ... (Clicks camera off)'

The "Resurrection Life" only come from Jesus. As we draw our power and hope from Him, He will love the world through us. Everyday can be our Greatest Day when we live the "Resurrection Life."

- Resurrection Life by Tim Timmons


- Where Would I Be? by Ed Kerr of Harvest
(Andrea solo with piano and cello)

Pastor did a good job mentioning "The Greatest Day" a few times, but the message didn't really relate to the overall theme. His message entitled "Now What?" basically made the point that there IS life after death. Whether we end up in heaven or hell depends on what we do (with Jesus?) here in this life.

Really, all of our Greatest Days are possible because of the Greatest Promise of John 3:16. Will you say it with me?

For God So Loved The World [The Greatest Action]
That He Gave His Only Son [The Greatest Sacrifice]
That Whoever Believes In Him [The Greatest Invitation]
Should Not Perish But Have Eternal Life [The Greatest Gift]

(reading inspired by this video)

He died to bring eternal life, and He lives so that death has no hold. Because He has shown victory over sin and death, and because He brings us our Greatest Days, He is the matchless King who is crowned the Lord of all Life.

- Crown Him With Many Crowns by Dan Galbraith, George Elvey, Godfrey Thring, & Matthew Bridges (Praise Charts)

We invite you to live your Greatest Day every day, through the resurrection life that Jesus Christ offers.

- Resurrection Life by Tim Timmons

One last thing. We weren't sure if the idea for the cross would come together. As it turns out, Doug did a great job on the cross (see photo above - more photos in the ePhoto gallery). At the beginning of each service as people were entering we hung a sign on the cross which read, "Can we pass the cross unchanged?" After the worship service, we turned the sign over to display the second message, "We are forever changed!"

It is so true ... we ARE forever changed! What is your Greatest Day?

"Consuming" Thoughts From Easter

This year I experienced difficulty planning our Easter experience at Hannaford. To me, Easter is a very special day in the Christian life - even overshadowing Christmas. Because of this, I put quite a bit of pressure on myself to help plan an experience that creates an atmosphere where people can meet with God - too much pressure, in fact.

In my planning this year, I elicited others' insights into Easter in order to find some fresh ways to communicate the resurrections message. While helpful, I was also troubled by some responses.

Several people said something to this effect: Easter just isn't Easter without singing such-in-such song or doing such-in-such activity. Quite immediately my response was "Easter isn't Easter without JESUS." Anything else is something we're attached to, personally.

To quote John Ortberg: Too often, people find a way to God, and beginning to worship that WAY more than they worship GOD. Jesus makes Easter! Anything more and anything less are traditions of man. I emplore you, please don't miss the significance of Easter because you are relying on man-made traditions!

The root of the issue is really the way we've begun to see worship. Worship is more than singing songs. Somehow, we think we've worshiped when we "feel good" about the song service. My question is "how does God feel?" Did you praise Him? Were you consumed by Him? Were you completely surrendered to Him? -OR- Did you feel uncomfortable clapping to the songs? Were you 'bothered' by the person who was holding their hands up? Did you even utter some words of praise to God?

Rick Warren nailed it when he said, "It's not about you." Worship is all about God. It is ABOUT Him and FOR Him. It is not about your being comfortable. As someone who's life desire is to see people meet with God, my job will NEVER be about making people comfortable. I continue to ask God to reveal to me how to help people become "consumed" by God instead of being "consumers" of worship.

Louie Giglio, founder of the Passion Movement, presented some challenging thoughts on this subject nearly a year ago. Here a summary...

Worship is a simple act where I put my life in God's hands, and my life aligns to His plans. We realize that God is a consuming fire, and so something inside of us is hesitant to put ourselves in His hands because were not at all sure that we want to be swallowed up in His light and consumed by His fire. We would rather be a "consumer" of a pleasant worship experience, than to become a "consumee" - our lives consumed by Him.

So the question arises, "have we become 'consumers' of worship?" As a "consumer" of worship, we of become infatuated with the experience of worship instead experience of meeting God and being consumed by Him. Worship is supposed to be the place (or heart position) where we are consumed by God. Paul referred to this in 2Timothy 4:6 saying, "I’m being poured out like a drink offering." As a consumee, we say, "Here I am, God. Use me up. I’m putting my life in Your hands." Here is some comparison between the two approaches:
  • Consumers ask, "what’s in it for me?"
    Consumees say, "I’m in it for You."
  • For consumers, worship is about style.
    For consumees, worship is about surrender.
  • Consumers ask, "What can I buy?"
    Consumees say "I have been bought."
  • For consumers, worship is enjoyable.
    For consumees, worship is costly.
  • For consumers, worship is segmented.
    For consumees, worship is all of my life.
  • Consumers want worship to be trendy.
    Consumees see worship as eternal.
  • For consumers, worship is my choice.
    For consumees, worship is God’s will.
  • For consumers, worship is about me.
    For consumees, worship is all about Him.
How are you going to invest this short time on this planet in something that will not be fleeting and will not fade away? No one can stop you from putting your life in God’s hands. And, nothing can stop the power of God in your life.

I really appreciate these thoughts from Giglio. Being consumed by God in worship has less to do with being stirred up by the style, tempo, or even familiarity of the music – and more to do with experiencing God in worship and connecting with the life-change only Jesus can make.

On a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being consumer and 10 being consumee) - where are you? Where is your church body as a whole? More importantly, what can you do to move toward the consumee mindset? I'd love to hear your responses...

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Gmail Paper Beta

In case you didn't know, I am an loyal Gmail user. Google (who owns Gmail) rocks right now! They have great email, blogging, web photo storage, video sites, and more...

In case you missed it, they recently introduced Gmail Paper Beta. Get all your email printed on oodles of paper and delivered to your door. Yeah, right. It was their April Fool's joke! Very funny - check it out here.

Most Non-Christians Believe In The Resurrection

I'm sure you're reading this title and thinking, "Did I read that right?" I heard about this report on K-LOVE radio this week. (I listen as I get ready in the mornings.)

A Southern Baptist organization conducted a survey finding that 75% of people (who are NOT born-again Christians) actually believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead on the third day. Most Easter messages I've heard in recent years have focused on PROVING Jesus' resurrection. I've always thought that was weird. Not only were they boring, the arguments really aren't convincing to a non-believer.

I did a little more research and found the source article for K-LOVE's news report here. If you read it carefully, I think they make the best observation near the end of the article.

We need to get past trying to PROVE Jesus. We can't change people or their opinions, but God can. And He does! We need to focus more on the meaning of Easter and redemptive power of Christ. "If Jesus did rise from the dead, what does that mean?"
Let us always remember that information does not transform lives, Jesus does. It takes relationship, an encounter with the living God to prove that He exists, that He loves us, and that He offers the gift of salvation to every person.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Experience The Cross - John 3:16

I just wanted to let you know our Good Friday Worship was awesome! Our Youth Pastor Gezer and his wife Kaci have been working really hard for several weeks on this (and actually made up the prayer stations based on John 3:16 to follow through with our Easter service). The youth did an amazing job leading us through the service! They prayed, led worship, and instructed us on the prayer stations. Wow! I think we had about 150 people attend - not a lot, but a good turnout for Good Friday. Here's a run-down on the service:

- CD: Christ His Passion: Remembering The Sacrifice
- The Cross Countdown from Saygiun Designs (Ordered from

- Empty Me from Jeremy Camp - Guitar, Keys, & Djembe

John 3:16 says "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." Tonight we’ve set up prayer stations to help you connect with Jesus’ sacrifice. Let us explain how you’ll experience this verse, John 3:16, as you move through the stations.

Station 1: For God So Loved
"For God so loved the world..." Station one is called "For God so loved." At this station, at the back of the room, there will be a large poster, with the words “For God so loved”. Take a marker and trace your hand onto the poster and then write your name in your hand. As you pray, thank God for His love for the world and His specific love for you.

Station 2: He Gave His Son
"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son..." Station 2 is called "He Gave His son." Philippians 2:5-8 says that though Jesus was God, He did not demand and cling to His rights as God. He took a humble position and appeared in human form. Jesus, the Son of God, suddenly became a man and suffered all that men suffer. He felt pain, hunger, fatigue, and sorrow. He truly walked in our shoes.

At this station, located out in the fellowship hall, there are several trays of sand on the floor. Remove your shoes and socks and walk through the sand. As you pray, think about Jesus’ sacrifice to become human for you and thank God for giving His Son for sinful earth.

Station 3: Whoever
"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever..." Station 3 is called "Whoever." John 3:16 promises us that no matter who you are or what you’ve done, if you believe in Jesus Christ, you will have eternal life. At this station, look at the many people in the pictures. Think about the people in your life who haven’t yet believed in Christ. Take a moment to pray for them and to thank God for the opportunity He gave you to know Him.

Station 4: Believe
"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him..." Station 4 is called "Believe." What does it mean to truly believe? Jesus said in Luke 9:23 that if you want to follow Him, you must lay aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow Him.

At this station, in the fellowship hall, there are two paths: one wide path that many people choose in place of Jesus, hoping what they believe will lead to life; and one small narrow path that leads to the cross. As you choose what path to follow and walk down the path, think and pray about what it truly means to believe in Jesus. Confess to God the things that you’ve allowed to take the place of following Jesus in your life.

Station 5: Shall Not Perish
"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish..." Station 5, located at the back of the room, is called "Shall Not Perish." Jesus took our punishment on the cross. He perished for us. At this station, hammer a nail into the cross/wood. Confess your sin and thank Jesus for taking your punishment. Thank God for freedom from death and sin.

This room now a sanctuary. You are free to experience the stations in any order. The only rule is that you must remain silent. This is a time for personal experience and reflection. May God bless you in this time of prayer.

- Stations video from Sacramentis (Ordered from
- Where Would I Be? from Harvest - Piano & Cello (solo by Andrea)
Communion was available for people to come up and serve themselves.

Jesus cried out in a loud voice "Father, I give you my life." After he said this, he died. (Pause)

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, Jesus. Jesus became man and died on the cross in place of all mankind, but that wasn’t the end of the story! Three days later, Jesus was raised from the dead. He came back to life – so that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.

Light is a symbol of eternal life. In John 8:12, Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. (Light the Christ candle.) The person who follows me will never live in darkness but will have the light that gives life."

At this final station, take one of the small candles and light it from the large candle as a sign of your new life and new light in Jesus. (Light a small candle from the Christ candle.) As more and more candles are placed here, we’ll see how Jesus’ light and love spread through Him to all of us.

- In Christ Alone by Stuart Townsend - Keys, Guitar, & Djembe

Well, it was truly a "good" Friday service with a strong focus on Christ's sacrifice. I am very excited about the experience we have planned for Easter as well: The Greatest Day. I will report on our worship after Sunday. For now, we are praying this prayer from Highway Video, posted by Greg Atkinson on Church Video Ideas. We look forward to what God will be doing. May you have blessed Easter yourself!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Hosanna in the Highest!

This last Sunday, the one before Easter, is known as Palm Sunday and it marks the beginning of the “Passion Week” or “Holy Week.”

The week began as Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey. He was given a King’s welcome as He came. People waved palm branches and spread their clothes in His path ... and they shouted a peculiar plea: “Hosanna!” It would be the last time that Jesus would enter Jerusalem.

He angrily turned over tables in the temple courts this week. The last supper and Jesus washing the disciples’ feet took place this week. His anguished prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, His trial, beating, and finally the crucifixion occurred this very week.

While the people shouted “Hosanna!” at the beginning of the week, they shouted “Crucify Him” by the end. While He was given a King’s welcome, He was given a criminal’s death.

“Hosanna” in its Old Testament context, expressed the pain and despair of the people; a crying out for revolution and deliverance. It was a plea for salvation, meaning "Save Us!" or “Deliver Us!”

Today, “Hosanna!” is also an affirmation that God has acted, finally and decisively. It is a constant reminder of the saving work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Because we know He is the true King of all creation, we invite Him to take His rightful place in our lives. Let our lives serve as a living testament that He have delivered us from sin and death!

"Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest! (Matthew 21:9)

Monday, April 02, 2007

2007 Jesus Conference Highlights, Part 4

As I mentioned, I was the worship team leader for the 2007 Jesus Conference, put on by the local Promise Keepers chapter Last Chance Men of Integrity (LMCI). One of our speakers, Hobe Rash spoke on "Seeing The Vision," focusing primarily on the life of Joshua. He had some great insights on pursuing God purpose for your life. This is part 4 of a 4 part series. Click on the label PK Jesus Conference to view all the related posts.

  • Joshua 1:1-9, 16-18 - The number 1 thing we can do to accomplish his vision is to wait. Joshua wandered in the desert essentially waiting for people to die.
  • How do we respond to waiting? As we wait, we begin to question. Did God forget me? Maybe I misheard Him. Maybe I disappointed Him.
  • We need to focus our eyes on Him. We need to wait until WE can answer the question, "Did God forget me?"

  • God said, "I am going to give you the land. I will be with you. Your part is to lead my people there."
  • We love to hear about what God is going to do. Often, we become spectators and begin to talk more ABOUT God than actually doing our part. Other times, we focus on our DOING and forget about God's plan.
  • Remember that He is the vine and we are the branches. Apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). Can I produce fruit by myself? No! I can do nothing without Him.

  • Hebrews 3:15 - Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in your rebellion. "Don't stop the flow, Joe. Don't say no."
  • Joshua is told over and over to "be strong and courageous." This mean for you to "be continually receiving His strength and you will be courageous." You will not be afraid of what God will do.
  • Be "full of" God. People know what you are "full of" from your own lips. "From the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks."
  • God gives us a vision to give us a purpose - SO GET MOVING! God wants you to play a critical, tactical role in the accomplishment of HIS strategic plan.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

2007 Jesus Conference Highlights, Part 3

As I mentioned, I was the worship team leader for the 2007 Jesus Conference, put on by the local Promise Keepers chapter Last Chance Men of Integrity (LMCI). One of our speakers, Hobe Rash spoke on "Seeing The Vision," focusing primarily on the life of Joshua. He had some great insights on pursuing God purpose for your life. This is part 3 of a 4 part series. Click on the label PK Jesus Conference to view all the related posts.

  • God will prepare us for His vision by correct conflict ... and we don't need to do it alone. You don't have to look for trouble. If you are living for Christ, trouble will find you.
  • Jesus prayed all night before He picked His team. Then, He selected carefully. He didn't just run out and yell, "Hey, who wants to be on my team?!!" You've got to get the right people "on the bus."
  • Exodus 17:8-15 - When carrying out God's strategic plan, you need to have some buddies. Had Moses not had his team to help hold up the staffs, Joshua and his army would not have been victorious against the Amalakites - no matter how hard or skillful their fighting.The spiritual and physical work together - spiritual power and physical obedience.

  • Life in the Kingdom is not about me. It's about HE and we. That's how God prepares us for His vision.
  • God prepares us for His vision and purpose for us through intentional worship. That is coming into His presence to honor Him above everything else. It means that we are CONSUMED with Him.

  • Exodus 33: 7-11 - Moses went into the tent and talked with God "as one talks with a friend." When Moses left, his servant Joshua would stay. Joshua was there too!
  • Where do Joshua learn to hear from God? to offer praise? to cry out his need to God? to yield to God? If you spend time alone in the tent with God, He WILL change you as you yield to Him. This is intentional worship.

  • Numbers 13:1 - The Lord said to Moses "Send men out to explore the land and report back." The men reported a land flowing with milk and honey, but there were also giants living in the land. We can't do it.
  • We CAN do it, not because we are stronger or bigger than our enemy, but because GOD is bigger and stronger!
  • We have 2 choices: either have faith in God's word and act on it, or we can show contempt for His word. God says "if you treat my vision with contempt, you will not live to see it come to light."