Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
Anyway, lately I have also been really lazy when it comes to getting into the Word. I put it off and give the excuse, "I'll wake up early and do it." Yeah right Justin. Since when are you the one to get up early?! Never. But not allowing God the time to speak to me through His Word has totally stolen my joy. My fuse is a little bit shorter, and in a way, I shrink back from people because I really don't want to be social. I'm just being honest folks! Then I think of what I'm missing by not spending time reading and listening. I'm depriving myself of the very heart of God! I'm depriving myself of the mysteries of God, the love of our Father and the joy and beauty of being in His presence! I just need the hunger and drive for His Word to return.
But hold on my friends, there is the truth that His heart beats for us. His heart melts with one simple glance towards Him. The thing is He is jealous for us! He gets so jealous when we spend time doing other things (especially insignificant things) instead of turning our eyes toward Him. It's a jealousy that is basked in love. I simply need a love encounter with Him!!
There is a song that has been ministering to me in amazing ways lately. I first heard it when I was watching clips from the Call in Nashville. A worship leader named John Mark McMillan was awakened in the middle of the night with this song after one of his closest friends died (there is way more to this amazing story, so please do yourself a favor and look up John Mark McMillan on YouTube). Just look at the words:
He is jealous for me
Love's like a hurricane, I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy
When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
and I realize just how beautiful You are and how great your affections are for me.
Oh, how He loves us so
Oh, how He loves us
How He loves us so.
So we are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
If grace is an ocean we're all sinking
So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest
I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way
That he loves us,
Woah, how He loves us
Woah, how He loves us
Woah, how He loves
I love that 2nd verse. I need a big fat sloppy wet kiss of heaven meeting earth in my life. And that last line is truly a line to live by. "I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way that He loves us." Beautiful.
Please, please, please watch this video clip. The video is of Kim Walker with a worship group called Jesus Culture singing John Mark McMillan's song. It will bring you to tears and give you goose bumps, and for me, every time I listen to it I have to raise my hands in adoration.
Enjoy. Grace and peace.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Humility is one of the hardest characteristics to develop. There are 2 misconceptions on humility. Number one, "we have this humility thing in the bag," and two, "we make ourselves out to be nothing." The latter is what is commonly called "false humility." We need to be confident in our skills and abilities, but we need to take hold of and walk by the truth that it is only by and through God's grace that we have those things. So how do we develop and maintain this life of humility? First you need to focus on God's grandness and on the incommunicable aspects of His character (omnipotent, omniscient, uncreated, etc). You look at the stars and galaxies and how vast they are, but in one passing sentence in Genesis He spoke those into existence. Second, invest in obscurity. Be a "behind-the-scenes" person; look to serve! Thirdly, delight when others are blessed and/or when doors are opening for other people. We have to make sure the jealous root doesn't go deeper. We cannot have the attitude of, "Why is that person being blessed am I'm not?" or "Why did that person get chosen and I didn't?" The jealous root, if not sought out and prayed out, can ruin you!
In order to do this, we must have accountability. We need prayer! It's crucial to have an intimate relationship with friends, pastors, etc that will pray for you and hold you accountable if you struggle with humility and jealousy, which we all do in some form or fashion.
Back to the concert (and on a little bit of a side note), Shane Barnard wrote a song called "Burn us up." The song is based out of Daniel 3 and the amazing story of the deliverance of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. If you're not familiar with this story, read it and you will be blown away! If you haven't read it in a long time, read it again. I say this is a side note because I play drums in a worship band called The Fourth Man (based on the story in Daniel 3) and we are recording our first CD! The weekend of January 19th we will be in a studio in Nashville, Tennessee recording! Shane Barnard told me tonight he would draw his "Sunday School" picture of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego for us to put on our CD cover. He was joking but I told him we would send him a copy. So hopefully The Fourth Man will have a CD out by spring. Stay tuned!
Grace and peace.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I've attached an article that you can read for yourself how disturbing this is. Just click on the link below...
The Golden Compass
Grace and peace.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
On Monday I headed over to the Mann house! I was able to see Kevin, Mandy and Bennett, as well as Mandy's parents. Bennett is a super cool baby. I particularly enjoyed the mix of laughs, hiccups and spitting up...priceless! Then Kevin and I went and had lunch together. I hadn't had good quality Kevin time in over a year. It was so good to catch up and laugh together again. Kevin and Mandy are like a brother and sister to me, which makes me Bennett's uncle...Uncle Justin...I like the sound of that! You know you have a close friendship when you can not see someone for 1-2 years and once you see them, you pick right up where you left off. That's how Kevin and I are, and I'm so thankful that he is as close as a brother to me.
Now I'm back in Marietta. I don't have to work any before Thanksgiving so it means I get to fill my time up with whatever I can find to do before I head to Macon on Thursday for another Thanksgiving dinner! I'm going to gain so many pounds over Thanksgiving...oh well. That will just mean I will have to get back in the gym...so I can throw out my back again!
Today I had the cool opportunity to go to McClure Middle School and talk about veterinary medicine. Emily and I prepared a power point presentation about why we chose to become a veterinarian, what veterinary school was like and what a typical day looks like for us. We also brought in some radiographs (ie. x-rays) of some cool cases we had seen (pregnant Pug with 7 puppies inside of her abdomen, broken bones, x-rays of a dog who ate a bottle cap and a nickel, etc). The kids were very attentive and asked some good questions. I find that I really enjoy teaching people about animals and what I/we try to do to make them better.
Well, that's it for now. I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving with their respective families. Be safe.
Grace and peace.
Friday, November 16, 2007
I just don't understand why this sort of thing happens. The Sunday School answer is to say that this happens in order for God to show His glory. Don't get me wrong, I totally believe this. I believe God is going to show Himself mighty in both Kristen and Evan's (see Annie Down's blog) situation. But still, it breaks my heart when a young boy or girl has to undergo something traumatic and painful. Maybe it stems from my own personal history as a baby, but I think it touches every man and woman's heart.
So, please pray for Denard, Keisha (his wife) and their little daughter, Kristen. She is at Eggleston Hospital right now and I heard that she is still a light and so full of joy in the hospital, even when her hair is falling out. Some of these kids are so strong! To be even bolder, let's join together in prayer to eradicate cancer. It is killing so many and it needs to be gone!
Grace and peace.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Anyway, I'm sorry to be venting a little but sometimes I get fed up with "too" opinionated people. More people these days are getting their theology out of the songs we sing than by liturgy or a good Sunday sermon. Music across the board is very influential, especially the words inside the music. I used to be a big cynic when it came to worship songs and I was full of musical snobbery. But after realizing how much music affects people, and how much people are paying attention to the words they/we are singing, I've slowly but not so gently, put the proverbial foot in my mouth. Writing songs is hard; writing congregational worship songs is THE hardest thing to do (I know, I'm trying and I can't seem to finish nary a song). I truly believe God anoints and speaks songs to those with the gift of song-writing. So by criticizing and passing judgments, you are doing the same thing to God. Stop it!!
Sorry this came out of nowhere. People just need to think before they speak.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Grace and peace.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
You are probably wondering where the heck I'm going with this. I do have a point, just be patient! As I thought about Dr. Greene and how he has influenced how I practice medicine, I began to think of other "mentors" in my life that have influenced or affected me. The first person I thought of was Kevin Mann. He has been so instrumental in my walk with the Lord and my passion for worship. He is such a kind, gentle and wise man of God and I thank the Lord everytime I think of him. Kevin, if you do read this, I plan on coming up to Nashville the weekend of Nov 17-18th. I hope to see you, Mandy and Bennett!. Then I thought of other mentors of mine. Here they are in no particular order: Bill Tanner, Mark Fritchman, Tom Tanner, Steve Hambrick (miss you dude), Clay Kirkland and of course, my dad. All of these people spoke words of life, wisdom and encouragement into me, whether through meeting one on one, praying for me, teaching and admonishing me, or just simply being my friend.
What I've realized is that I need to tell these people that they have been a huge part of my life and have helped mold me into who I am today, and that I need to thank them! So, if you are on the list and you read this blog, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!
I encourage you to think about those who have affected and influence you and find them! Find them and tell them thank you. I just hope one day someone will find me and tell me how I influenced them. It would be such an encouragment to me!
Grace and peace.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Anyway, I asked God to allow certain dreams and past prophecies to come to fruition sooner rather than later. Over the past 10 years or so, I have had numerous dreams and prophetic words spoken over me regarding my kingdom destiny, which is to lead worship. I know that I know that I know that this is what I will be doing in the hopefully near future. For some, this may come across as redundant (because you know where my heart is), but that's ok. If you so desire, you can read past posts of mine that cover my thoughts on worship and my journey: Worship, Make a Joyful Noise, So timely, Got to Crawl.
At times I find myself leading a particular song in a corporate worship setting, or I see myself leading worship with other "more famous" worship leaders. I often wake up at night singing certain worship songs! The only way I can explain this is that there is a much higher purpose in my life. I believe there are interests in your life and there are your passions. I can only speak personally on this matter and for some, the two line up. For me, the interest I have had since I was a wee lad was working with and being around animals. God has allowed me to have a job (and be good at it...I think) that pertains to my interests, so that I can perform to the best of my abilities because I enjoy doing it. However, the PASSION in my life is worship. God is slowly working this out. I understand that it is all on His timing, but I'm believing that He will make this happen soon!
So, maybe you are reading and you are feeling what I'm saying. You have heard God speak kingdom purposes over you and you are waiting for those to fall into place. Or, maybe you have something else that you would ask God to fulfill NOW or give you NOW. Maybe you need wisdom? In James it says that if any of you lack wisdom, he should ask God to give you wisdom and HE WILL! Whatever it may be, I encourage you to be bold in your prayers. Approach His throne of grace with boldness (and humility) and ask for a speedy granting of your needs. He is a God that longs to give good gifts! Don't forget that promise!!
If you feel led, you can leave a comment saying one thing you want God to give you right now and I will join with you in prayer for this...if you will join with me.
Grace and peace.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
For a long time I have wondered what it means to work out my salvation with fear and trembling. To set this up, I want this post to be more of a forum-type setting, where a dialogue if you will (and I will) is created. So I will start with what I think Paul is trying to say here and I really would like for others to post with what their own take on it.
Here it goes: First off, salvation is a free gift from God, which we all know. I think that after we received this free gift afforded to us by the amazing grace of God, it is our job to perfect our salvation - ie. reading, praying, listening, loving, serving, encouraging, etc. By this we will avoid falling into the category of living by "cheap grace" that so many Christians do. Their sole motivation is to avoid hell, not to go deeper or fall more in love with our Beloved King Jesus. Will they make it to heaven? Sure. Will they be close to the throne? Probably not.
The second part of this particular verse stems from the fact that only He is the author and perfector of our faith. The fear and trembling arise out of sheer awe of who God is. We are a weak people that depend on God to be and provide for whatever we need. He is a Holy God, and our Sustainer! Once we realize this fact, and realize that He is our strong and wise adversay, then automatically the attitude of fear and trembling will be birthed.
Grace and peace.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
"We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ."
The bold print is there for emphasis. "Your labor prompted by love." I think that the Word itself says enough and my attempt to analyze it is, well, wimpy. But I think it is worth taking a second of your busy day to ask yourself, am I prompted by love to serve or labor? Is love the motivating factor in my day-to-day life?
The second comes from verses 7-8 from chapter 1:
"And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord's message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia-your faith in God has become known everywhere."
The question I asked myself after reading this was, "Why are we not hearing more of people's faith in God from other parts of the world or other parts of the U.S.?" Thessalonica was the capital city of one of the largest and influential provinces back then. So, one would have to assume it involved a large people group. Would it be egotistical to strive after being known everywhere for our faith in God? I don't think so. Maybe it starts with community transformation, which our church is so passionate about. Will people one day being able to say that they have heard about the faith of the people of Cobb county (or wherever you live)? Will people one day say that they have heard about the faith of the people of Atlanta? Even more unbelievable will be people talking about the faith of the Americans. I can only say 3 words, hopefully one day.
I know this post is a little random and my thoughts are probably incomplete. But it was just something I thought about today. Maybe some of you can offer some input?
Grace and peace.
Monday, October 15, 2007
But the thing I have to remember is that I was once in their shoes, and not too long ago in fact. Eyes wide open, pupils dilated, heart racing and the feeling of, "oh crap," rushes through your head, as multiple emergencies come walking through the door. Some are very critical, some are the easy emergencies. But still, it is overwhelming. At this particular clinic, when there is an emergency, the receptionist calls on the overhead speakers, "Emergency, your next patient has checked in." I used to cringe everytime I heard their voice! I would say to myself, "Nooooooo!"
Anyway, back to the point of it all, was I that inept in what I was trained to do?! To put it bluntly and honestly, was I that stupid?! Answer...probably. Actually, probably more so. You learn as you go. And the exciting thing is that I/we will continue to learn new things. Mistakes will be made, no doubt. Don't dwell on it. Learn from it and be dang sure it does not happen again. Encouragement is the key. Tell them things they are doing right and then bring up the things they really didn't handle the right way. I have one patient right now that I'm hoping survives. Proper care was not taken and this dog's life is hanging in the balance. Granted, it has an awful underlying condition, but I have to wonder if his situation would be a little bit better if a different approach would have been chosen. But I held back the idiot comments and tried to correct them in a non-attacking way.
Words have the power of life and death. This is so true in every avenue of life. Train them and BUILD THEM UP. Kids these days don't need more ridicule and comments of inadequacy. They need encouragement. WE ALL NEED ENCOURAGEMENT. Wherever you are in life, sharpen one another. Speak life and purpose.
I know this is kind of a random post, but I felt it needed to be said. I just hope my mind, which is working on about 3-4 hours of sleep, made it comprehensible.
Grace and peace.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
After IHOP, we continued down 316 to Athens, GA. We ate at 5 Star Day, enough said! If you have been to Athens and have NOT eaten at 5 Star Day, slap yourself. Right now, slap yourself in your face if you have not eaten there. Then, take tomorrow off from work and go eat there. I'm serious! After dinner we went to the Wednesday night service at the Wesley Foundation. Our own Elliott Dejarnett led worship with Tate Welling. Incredible time of worship! They did a LOT of old school songs, which are always good to bring back every now and then. Maybe I'll try to get some old school songs played at Riverstone (ie. We Make a Way, My God Reigns, You Alone, etc). Elliott is quickly moving up my top 5 worship leaders to play with (Kevin Mann and Tate are still 1-2 in my book). I also got to talk to Clay Kirkland, Aaron Biddle and Aaron Vickroy to cap off the trip!
It was so good to go back to Athens. I really do miss that place! Maybe I will move back there one day? Who knows?!!
But the best part of it all was having an evening of incredible worship and spending time with our INCREDIBLE GOD! I need to do it more often...
Grace and peace.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
First, it was Mission Sunday at church today. Here they announced the different mission trips the church is taking in 2008. Teams are heading to India, Ghana, Guatemala, Spain, Camp Hope, Born Again Blessings (local ministry here in Marietta, and last and certainly not least, Scotland! Annie Downs, Katie Bedingfield, Tom Tanner and myself have the wonderful opportunity to lead a team back to Scotland to put on another youth camp. I've yet to sit down and compile my thoughts and emotions from last year's camp. In one word...amazing! For more day-by-day details you can check out the blog, www.scotlandteam07.blogspot.com. I'm just going to touch on a few things that ministered to me the most. To start, the youth are stinkin incredible. From the first day we arrived there the kids befriended us and opened up to us. There wasn't that day or two of awkwardness. Their hearts were so soft and open to whatever we were doing, and more importantly, to whatever God was doing! Scotland is a very dark country and the younger generation is forgotten in man's eyes. But thankfully, not in God's eyes. He has amazing Kingdom plans for the youth there. Scotland has had numerous revivals, but none of them have stood the test of time because the church is dead. I'm being honest, the church is almost non-existent. There are a few there that are thriving (like the one we are working with), but a majority of them are simply cold. There have been numerous prophetic words given to missionaries and pastors over there saying God is bringing another revival to Scotland, and He is going to do it through the youth. After being there, I believe it with my whole heart. Over half of the members of the church we are working with are youth! And let me tell you, the youth of this church are going to move mountains in Scotland, bringing God's glory and the Kingdom of Heaven to Scotland and to the ends of the earth!
During the camp, I had the priviledge of leading worship. If you don't know me, my heart is broken for the younger generation and I have a longing to see youth truly grasp what it means to WORSHIP. So I had a bird's eye view of how God moved in and transformed many lives that week. The first night of worship was tough. Most of them just sat there and watched me, Andrew Taulbee and Elizabeth Smith lead songs. However, as the week progressed, their hearts opened, and God began to take a hold of their lives! This was definitely made evident in the worship services. Each night more and more youth remained standing, some even closed their eyes! Crazy I know. But then on Thursday night, heaven broke open. That night Annie had an awesome talk on Worship; that there is more to worship than just singing songs...it's how you live your life. Worship is laughing with your friends. Worship is being alone in nature, sitting in awe of God's creation. Worship is reading your Bible. Worship is honoring your parents. Worship is being a friend to the lonely. Worship is serving others. Worship is gathering together and lifting up the only Name that is worthy to be lifted up. And that is what we did. I swear, after Annie's message we worshipped for close to 2 and a half hours! Guys and girls, young and old, stood in awe of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, with arms high and their heart completely abandoned to Him. Some were on their knees. Some wept. Some had an overwhelming joy written all over their faces. I stood there and soaked it all in. I was so thankful of the opportunity God gave me to be a part of the beginning of a huge move of God sweeping across Scotland. It got to a point that night where I was literally out of songs to play. I even had to ask for requests! Well...I tried to ask, my voice was pretty much shot! Even after the service ended the kids continued to worship together in their rooms (and showers!). Tears welled up in my eyes as I walked the halls and heard boys, whose ages ranged from 8-15, sing with all of their heart Love Song, Holy, For Who You Are and Blessed be Your Name. I will say it was more of singing and crying mixed together, but it was still altogether beautiful and moving.
I can't wait to go back! We are leaving July 9th and returning July 23rd, with a youth camp stuck in the middle. Our goal this time is to not just have our team put on the camp, but to really get the adult leaders over there involved. We want to teach and train them to put on youth camps in the future on their own so if there ever comes a day when we don't make the trip to Scotland, they will be fully prepared to keep it going. Don't get me wrong, I believe Riverstone (and myself) will be involved with putting on annual youth camps for many years to come. But this is truly a partnershp; Riverstone partnering with their church, as we both partner with God and jump into His river that is flowing through Scotland.
So if reading this moves your heart, join us. Join us as we pour into the youth of Scotland to bring God's light to a dark country; to breath life into the dead and dry bones!
I'll leave you with one of the most profound statements I have ever heard (and it came from one of the youth):
"I felt the love of 5 million people, then I realized it was just God." WOW!
Grace and peace.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Not to Us (Tomlin)
Hungry (Falling on My Knees) - Vineyard
Free (chorus by Tate Welling)
Victory in Jesus (the 9am service was dancing around! Crazy I know!)
Lord of Lords (Hillsong's new album Saviour King)
Prince of Peace (chorus)
It is You (acoustic) - Newsboys
Better is One Day
No Sweeter Name (Throneroom worship, Kari Jobe - listen to her please!!)
Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)
Anyway, I really do not know why I'm posting about this except for that I had fun and I'm proud to be a part of this worship band/team. Each person's heart for worship and the Lord is so encouraging to be around; and the leadership of Tate, Elliott and Caroline is amazing. I hope we are able to come back soon and lead again. We had numerous people come up to us afterwards and tell us how refreshing worship was to them and how they enjoyed learning new(er) songs. So, I am thankful that the Lord brought this team together and I'm humbly and boldly asking for more!
Welp, that's all I got. Kind of random but I'm proud.
Grace and peace.
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Anyway, there is the exact same show over in Europe, creatively called Britain's God Talent. On the show they had a quiet, humble cell phone salesman on whose talent was singing. I'll just let you be the judge. If you are not inspired or brought to tears, then you need to place 2 fingers up to your neck and check your pulse!
Check it out.
Grace and Peace.
If I can take one spiritual thing away from this concert, it would be this: Like I said, there were about 55,000 people there and they were all pouring their hearts, souls and their very beings into the music that was being played. I couldn't help but think that one day there will be worship gatherings at places like Piedmont Park or other big stadiums, where there will be thousands upon thousands of people pouring their very beings out to God. I can't wait. I know it will happen. Are you with me?
Anyway, I'm about to finish watching the UGA-South Carolina game and I'm a little disappointed. No, make that a lot disappointed. Well at least Auburn lost too!!
Grace and Peace.
Friday, September 7, 2007
"Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires."
I have read these verses over and over, dissecting them phrase by phrase, trying to fully understand what Peter is trying to say. So here is what I got so far: #1, it is only because of HIS glory and HIS goodness do we have access to His divine power. Then, it is this divine power through which He WILL meet all of our needs. But an important aspect to remember is that these needs are met and His power is made available through knowing Him. Next, "through these...". What are the "these" Peter's talking about? I have to assume that the "these" is the Lord's glory and goodness. So through His glory and goodness He gives us very great and precious promises. Also, we can deduce that we learn of these promises as we get to know Him better. And finally, again through the promises He gives because of His glory and goodness we can participate in His divine nature. Christians become partakers of God's very nature by faith in His promises. God's nature in us manifests the likeness of God and Christ through us. It also gives us power enabling us to overcome the temptations of lust that result in corruption of our very beings.
So, we can participate in His divine nature through His very great and precious promises via His glory and goodness, which we are made aware of by the knowledge of Him, who will provide for all of our needs as we continue to attempt to know Him. Does that make sense? Even as I write it I'm a little confused and I'm scared I'm not making much sense. I could use some help here!
At any rate, I'm left with the feeling that I do not know Him. I remember writing something similar when I was going through Colossians (which I know I didn't finish blogging about...give me a break people!). Anyway, I have this renewed feeling of inadequacy; inadequate in my knowledge of Him. A simple prayer, Lord I want to know You...I need to know You. I want Your divine nature to be united with my own human nature. Rather, I want Your divine nature to overcome and replace my human nature. But, I need to know You!
To go even further and possibly take me a little lower, in verse 2 Peter says, "Grace and peace be yours in ABUNDANCE through the KNOWLEDGE OF HIM..."! Enough said.
I will end this undoubtedly confusing post with one last scripture. We all can recite John 3:16, "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." But there is one other verse that explains what eternal life is...check this out:
John 17:3 - (this is Jesus praying) "Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent." So eternal life = knowing God and Jesus! Hey, I just realized that this is one of His very great and precious promises that we can participate in through the knowledge of Him, who called us by His glory and goodness!
Oh MY goodness yall!
Grace and Peace.
Saturday, September 1, 2007
Brad, I'm following your lead with this post. I went and saw the Bourne Ultimatum tonight and I must say it was a VERY good movie. The action was intense and it brought everything together from the first 2 movies. Here is my question to my readers (however many there may be), what are some of your favorite trilogies. I've found that the 3rd movie is usually the best or close to the best of the 3...ie. Spiderman, Lord of the Rings, and yes, even the likes of Back to the Future and Austin Powers (but the first one was definitely the best). Your thoughts?
Grace and Peace.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above Him were seraphs, each with six wings: with two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of His glory.'
At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 'Woe to me!' I cried. 'I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.' Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, 'See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.' Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?'
And I said, 'Here am I. Send me!'"
This was the Scripture of reference for the sermon today at church. Let me tell you, it spoke volumes to me. I had read this particular passage before and I had taken some of the same lessons from it, but today it really hit me. The first sentence alone even now ways heavy on my heart and mind. "In the year that King Uzziah died...". King Uzziah...who was this guy? What did he do that Isaiah felt so impressed enough to start off one of the most well-known passages of Scripture with? To go even further, what's so important about his death that led (or leads) to seeing the Lord high and lifted up? King Uzziah's reign is covered in II Chronicles 26. His reign starts off good. He was 16 years old when his kingship started and it says that "he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord (v. 4)." However, verse 16 begins his downfall. After he became so powerful, he became very prideful. He thought that the worship should be centered around him. He entered into the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of the Lord, which was something only the priests who were consecrated could do. As a result of his unfaithfulness and pride, the Lord struck him with leprosy until the day he died. Again, his death led Isaiah to see our exalted King and a glimpse of the seraphs praising His name for eternity.
IF we are to see the glory of the Lord, there are things in our lives that need to die. For most, if not all, the number one thing that needs to die is pride. Get our eyes off of ourselves and look UPWARD! We need to stop focusing on our lot in life; we need to stop focusing on our circumstances and realize and study and KNOW that our God is Holy, Holy, Holy; Good, Good, Good, and Faithful, Faithful, Faithful! I'll admit, this is not an easy thing. It's hard not to fall victim to our current situation(s) in life and become discouraged and, I'll say it, angry. Why is this happening? Why is that person being blessed and I'm not? Why did that person get the position I'm more qualified for? Whatever the gripe may be in our hearts and minds, we need to turn our eyes upward to Him! Has He been faithful in the past? Has He forsaken you? Will He forsake you? You know the answers to these questions. But as soon as things start to go against us, we forget the answers and lose heart. We soon find ourselves deep in depression, alone and frustrated. Though the grass withers and the flowers fall, the Word of the Lord stands forever! And what does the Word say? It says that He is faithful to the end and apart from Him, there is no good thing! You can read all through Scripture and find the reward for those who stand firm, who do not lose heart despite what actually may be going on in their lives.
There may be other areas in your life, besides pride, that have captured your eyes. Job? Death? Sickness? Relationships? Whatever it may be, a question needs to be raised: Are you willing to put it to death? Are you willing to say, "Ok God, right now it ain't workin. I'm done trying on my own. I surrender to You and Your will and destiny for me"? I get a picture of these things/areas becoming a wall between you and God. Isaiah 59:2 has worked me over lately. It says, "But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear." The sin of pride or idolatry in your life is keeping God from hearing you, from His face shining on you! Do you want that?! I sure don't!
So it boils down to trust. Just look at Abraham and Jesus! Come on, now! Can I get an amen? Can you imagine the anguish Abraham felt as he was walking up the mountain moments before having to kill his son? And I think you know the anguish Jesus went through...He sweated blood! Do you trust Him? If so, take your eyes off of yourself and look upward! You will see the Lord high and lifted up! You will see the glory of the Lord!
I'll finish with Psalm 13, one of the greatest psalms of lament. But at the end it says this: "But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for He has been good to me."
Grace and peace.
Friday, August 10, 2007
Well, it's Friday night and I'm taking a break from packing clothes and what not for a trip to West Virginia. Not a trip I'm excited about. My grandmother passed away on Thursday and her funeral is Sunday at 2 pm. About a week ago she feel and broke her hip. Mawmaw, as we like to call her, has had a history of heart and lung problems, and has had very bad osteoporosis...not the best candidate for anesthesia/surgery. But, the doctors said she needed it or she would be bed-ridden for the rest of her life. Surgery was a success, but she never made it out of the I.C.U. She was in such pain that the doctors gave her more morphine. Because of that, her respirations were suppressed. So the doctors were constantly playing tug-o-war with controlling her pain and knocking out her breathing. Then on Wednesday night she went into a coma and then passed away at 11 am on Thursday. The family has found solice in the fact she passed peacefully and pain-free. But, the weird/neat/encouraging part for me was when I found out Thursday morning she was in a coma, I started praying and I heard the Lord clearly told me that "He was going to take her" that day. When I talked to my mother that night I informed her of what the Lord had told me and she was comforted and encouraged. So now I'm picking out a white shirt and tie because that is what pallbearers are going to wear on Sunday. My uncle wants me to give a eulogy at the funeral...I don't know if I'm comfortable doing that. I'll just have to be praying hard to see if God wants me to share or not. Mawmaw was a wonderful grandmother! Always so loving and boy could she cook!! Mmmmm....mmmmm!! I will miss her so much but I know she is not suffering anymore and she is with Jesus...man how happy is she right now?!
And now the Give:
Prior to my trip to Scotland, my grandfather developed these fainting/passing out episodes (basically multiple strokes). I witnessed one of these episodes and it was scary. I'm a doctor and all and I see a lot of scary stuff sometimes, but what I saw really freaked me out. Anyway, he went into the hospital in Macon (after being to 3 other hospitals) and I was wavering back and forth on whether or not I should go to Scotland or stay with the family to support them and be there for them. I talked to my dad and he told me I should go to Scotland and that if anything changes, they will get in touch with me and if I need to come back home, I could do it then. I knew I was supposed to go to Scotland, but to be honest, my heart and mind were back here in the States. While overseas, I checked my email as often as I could, fully expecting to get an email saying that Papa (that's what we like to call him) had passed. But instead, I got emails saying that the doctors believe they've found out why he's having these episodes. They performed a heart cath procedure and un-blocked 3 very clogged coronary arteries. Praise the Lord! But the Lord always gives more than we expect, and He truly gave our family some leftover bread and fish during this whole ordeal (reference to when Jesus fed the multitude on a few biscuits and sardines). The night before Papa had his heart cath procedure, he had an encounter with the Lord and he surrendered his life to Him!! Now if you knew my Papa, you would know that he is a very boisterous man (don't know if that's the right word or not?). He is always the first one to tell his stories of the deer he killed, or the fish he caught, and so forth and so forth. And he would tell these stories with all that was within him! The day I got back to America is when my dad told me about him being saved. The coolest thing my dad told me was that he was telling everyone who walked in his room that he got saved and Jesus is the Lord of his life! It was the first thing that came out of his mouth when my dad went up to the hospital the next morning. So to top it all off, Papa was baptized tonight. My brother and mom were there (as well as other aunts, uncles, cousins) and they said when he came out of the water, he shouted, "Praise the Lord!" That's my Papa. And you know what, that's my God!! He is in the business of healing, not just physically (which Papa is getting stronger by the day), but emotionally and spiritually as well.
So Lord, the past couple weeks You have truly given and taken away, but I can't help but bless Your name!
Grace and Peace.
Friday, August 3, 2007
Grace and peace.
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Which leads me to the next major point, the Holy Spirit is THE worship leader. I love Matt Redman's idea of lead worshippers. This takes the pressure off us mere humans and puts it all on the Holy Spirit. If you look back through the Bible, you read of different "worship leaders." You read, "a song of Moses," or a "song of David," or "Mary's song," or "Zechariah's song." These words were mentioned all the way up until Pentacost. It was here that the shift took place. From here on out, the Holy Spirit controlled the worship. He became the Worship Leader. So, as the lead worshippers (ie. Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, Tim Hughes, Hillsong, Kevin Mann, Tate Welling, Bill Tanner, myself, etc) prepare for a worship service, we need to allow the Holy Spirit to direct the service. We need to ask Him where He wants the service to go. We need to seek His direction and ask Him what kind of response He wants in our worship. Also, we need to plan for the unpredictable. Space needs to be planned to give the Holy Spirit room to do what HE wants. He may want us to stay on one chorus for longer, or He may want us to completely go off of the set list and do a different song. Or, He may want to go into a prophetic time or He may lay a word of Scripture on our hearts that we need to turn into a song. Or, we just need to be silent and let Him speak into our lives. To some, this is scary because they have gotten used to touching bottom. Has He ever let us down? Will He leave us? Dive in. Swim. Splash around. HE IS GOOD!!!
It should be common in our worship services for people to dance. It should be common in our worship services for people to weep. It should be common in our worship services for healings to occur. It should be common in our worship services for God to call out people into their Kingdom destiny. If these aren't happening, then we need to take an inventory on the worship that is in our churches. It may be time to humble ourselves and allow the Holy Spirit to lead. I'm speaking to myself here. See, God is doing a new thing all over the world. It's time to swim people. That's just it...it's time!
So I will leave you with those points. The bar has been set. I'm both excited and anxious to see what it is going to look like when the Holy Spirit is leading our worship. Not just in the corporate setting, but in our own lives as well.
I will include a few pictures of the London retreat:
Here is me and Tim Hughes! (My new friend...he loves Ketchup)
Here is the whole group giving our rendition of "jazz hands"
And this is the mansion we stayed in...pretty sweet huh?
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Grace and peace.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Grace and peace.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Welp, gotta book a flight.
Grace and peace.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
BUT, our God is faithful. His heart is moved at the site of one of His children pressing in during times of drought to seek Him and worship Him. He rejoices over our responding to the "yes" inside of us. I need a fresh wind to blow in and through me. I need a fresh water to refresh my soul. I need the breath of God to blow on my coals. I want to feel His gaze, and feel the warmth and strength of His embrace. He is beckoning me to come to His table. So that's where I'll go. I'm reminded of the amazing song by Leeland called Carried to the Table. Here are the lyrics:
Wounded and forsakenI was shattered by the fallBroken and forgottenFeeling lost and all aloneSummoned by the KingInto the Master’s courtsLifted by the SaviorAnd cradled in His arms
I was carried to the tableSeated where I don’t belongCarried to the tableSwept away by His loveAnd I don’t see my brokenness anymoreWhen I’m seated at the table of the LordI’m carried to the tableThe table of the Lord
Fighting thoughts of fear
And wondering why He called my name
Am I good enough to share this cup
This world has left me lame
Even in my weakness
The Savior called my name
In His Holy presence
I’m healed and unashamed
You carried me, my God You
Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him,for He shields him all day long,and the one the Lord loves rests between His
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Well, I guess I should get back to my doctor-ly duties. Oki says hi!
Grace and peace.
Monday, March 5, 2007
"All a man's ways seem innocent to him, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails" (Proverbs). So His purpose is prevailing in my life. Everything I try to do for the most part fails. The plans He has for me are such deep waters and are so good. What's that phrase? I can't see the forest from the trees? Is that right? Well that's how I feel. Sometimes I lose sight of the greater because of the lesser that is being burned away or pruned away in my life. The "lesser" is what I thought was good in my life. He promises to shake everything that can be shaken. God is so grand and big and majestic! Stars come out of his mouth and He knows them by name, each and every one of them. In the beginning light came out of His mouth! Ponder those 2 sentences a minute and try to wrap your mind around how BIG God is! The billions and billions of stars that are in the universe; stars that are 100-1000x the size of our little planet earth, came out of His mouth! I mean, come on, we serve a BIG God! Yet, He's a God that wants to be intimate. He's infinite and intimate. He cares for me, He cares for you, He cares for us! He gathers His sheep and pulls them close to His heart...how beautiful is this picture?! So whom am I to question? Whom am I to say, "are you sure God?" I just need to trust Him, which I do, wholeheartedly. I've heard it said, "Wherever you are, be all there!" So that's what I'm going to do. For now (and I do stress for now), where I'm at is Marietta, GA. I honestly don't see myself living here for too much longer. When I say that, I mean in the 1-2 year time frame. Until I get called elsewhere, I pledge to be all here! My God is faithful and sovereign. People will let you down...I know this full well, but God will never leave or forsake you. People will change right in front of your eyes...but God never changes; He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Plans will fail and what you thought was going to be, won't be. I just need to set my heart and eyes on the eternal, on things heavenly (because everything else is temporary and will be shaken). I need a little more of the intimate God right now. I need to be led by the still waters so He can restore my soul. I am moved and quieted by this, "I am my Beloved's and His desire is for me."
Hey trees, get out of my way!
Grace and peace.
Monday, February 26, 2007
We arrived in Thomasville about 4:30p Friday afternoon and began setting up at Thomasville First Baptist Church. The production came close to what we typically use at our summer camps; full of lights, smoke machines and a kick-butt sound system. That night we led worship for around 400 or so students and about 100-150 adult volunteers. I'm not going to brag...wait, yeah I am...the worship was pretty dang good. I could tell that they weren't quite used to the intensity of worship God brought through us. Don't get me wrong, there were more than a few people that had their hands raised, but a majority stood and just sang the songs. I will say that I couldn't see everybody from all the smoke that was around me! : ) After worship, we grabbed a quick bite to eat at Barberitos (so good) and headed to our hotel. Elliott and I shared a room, as did Anthony and Bryan. Poor Caroline had a room to herself. Saturday we woke up and went and ate lunch at the First United Methodist Church with their youth. Floyd is the youth pastor at this church. He kind of reminds me of Cory, except he's funnier...sorry Cory! After lunch we all (we being the band) took a leisurely stroll down Broad St in downtown Thomasville. We stopped in a few shops, including the very sketchy Wig and Accessory store. There is a music store in downtown Thomasville that is the oldest music store in America. It's been open since 1904! (You could tell by the limited amount of inventory they had...). Also, if you've ever been to Athens you have noticed the different styles of Bulldogs (excuse me...Bulldawgs) that decorate many of the street corners. Well, here in Thomasville they have random small animal statues, including dogs and beavers...yes, beavers! Elliott thought it would be funny if I took a picture with all of the dog statues (see below).
Grace and peace.
Friday, February 23, 2007
So I'm sitting at the piano one February morning, staring out the window, and I notice the trees. Bare and naked before God. The leaves have fallen. It’s just these empty branches, aimed at the ground. It resonates within me a desire to do the same before God. To be bare and stripped of all I am before Him...And I look at this tree, and I think of the tree of life. The cross. Back to the tree outside my window. I’m looking at this tree, and seeing the golden leaves on the ground. An offering of gold. It’s their tithe. It’s all it has to offer, so it does. Now I live in Arizona, and we generally don’t have winter. But we have a brief Autumn. Now in my head I’m imagining the autumn I grew up in (I grew up in Canada with 4 seasons). It’s getting colder. The sun is setting and the sky is on fire. Then I imagine winter, in its stillness and bleakness. The days are shorter. It gets really cold and gray. The cold dark places within the human heart. My moments of personal despair. My dark night. My moment of needing rescue; I look back on those moments and see God’s hand there, in the midst of it. Pulling me out of it.
Pulling me to Him. And the snow melts, and the flowers are stretching to heaven; their whole bodies trying to get in on the party that’s happening in heaven; and the birds are singing for no apparent reason, other than that’s what they do. Somewhere in space, there’s a star exploding to the glory of God. Everything is coming back to life, and I am seeing that everything must die to rise again. That God ordained it that way from before time. God the Father willed that everything would point to His Son’s passion, death and resurrection. And on that third day, we are glorified in Christ Jesus. (2 Cor 5:17), and united as one body. His bride and church, made Holy by Him.
So I was challenged. Back to the passage in Luke 19 about the rocks crying out. As Jesus was walking down the road, the crowd of His disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices and the Pharisees asked Jesus to rebuke His disciples. Jesus' response was, "I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." If we don't praise God, the rocks will pick up our slack. Oh how I wish my life would be so full of praise for my Creator and King that when I was around, the rocks were silent! His praise should always be on our lips!! In our own personal springs, and even more so in our own personal winters, we need to praise God...loudly! I love the heart attitude of the prophet Habakkuk, who decided he would choose to respond to God’s worth, no matter how bleak a season he found himself in: Though the fig-tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior (Habakkuk 3:17,18).
In Acts 16, Paul and Silas also resolve to overcome less than favorable conditions and worship God. Sitting in their jail cell, they could be forgiven for not being in the mood for singing. They had been unjustly arrested, beaten, severely flogged and thrown into the deepest part of the prison, with their feet in stocks. Yet, somehow, Paul and Silas found it in themselves to sing out praise to God. Refusing to let their souls be dampened, they worshipped with everything they had left. Most of us don’t own fig trees and haven’t been imprisoned for being Christians, but the principle is the same for us as it was for Habakkuk, Paul and Silas: We can always find a reason to praise. Situations change for better and for worse, but God’s worth never changes. We may be hard-pressed on every side, weary and not able to sense God. But then a choice faces us—to fix our eyes on the circumstances or to cling to God and choose to worship Him, even when it hurts. The heart of God loves the offerings of a persevering worshipper. Though overwhelmed by many troubles, they are even more overwhelmed by the beauty of God.
So my brothers and sisters, don't let the rocks out-sing you!!
Grace and peace.