Wednesday, February 27, 2008

My Rock

These verses have kept me emotionally sane for the past several days. If you are struggling, or feel helpless or hopeless, and you need a little encouragement, take a gander:

Isaiah 26:4
Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock Eternal

Psalm 91

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."

Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart...

If you make the Most High your dwelling— even the LORD, who is my refuge-then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

"Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.

With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."

Grace and peace.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

If I had a narrator

This is going to be a completely random, but hopefully fun post. I was watching T.V. this evening and a few of those GEICO commercials came on. You know the ones where Sally Smith isn't a "real actress" but they hired a "real actress/actor" to speak on her behalf. You have the likes of Peter Frampton, Michael Winslow, Joan Rivers, etc speaking about their accidents for them. It kind of reminds me of the Will Ferrell movie, Stranger than Fiction, where he can hear the narrator comment on his daily activities (I really like that movie by the way and I say it is a must see).

So my question to you is, if you could pick one actor or actress (or I guess anyone for that matter) to be the narrator of your life, who would it be?

For me I would pick Johnny Depp. I know that is kind of random and he has had his struggles in his past, but hey, haven't we all. I imagine he could tell one heck of a story and he would definitely provide a comedic unction to my story as he reads it. Laughing is a must. I find myself laughing at myself a lot...even when I'm alone!

Anyway, my selection was made pretty quickly. But I'm sure if I had more than a few minutes to think about it I could think of someone a little more meaningful (?) to my life. Which means, I expect a lot from you guys.

So, post a comment on who you would have as a narrator and say why.

Ok? Ready, go.

Grace and peace.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Tagged (last and probably least)

So Brad kind of tagged me today. I think he actually tagged Matt, but then said if Matt doesn't, then I'm up? I dunno...

1) I was born in Panama City, FL, which is neither full of white trash nor creepy, drunk high school kids

2) I've had a grand total of 10 surgeries in my life. One of those is when I took a ground ball right between my eyes which broke my nose (and knocked me out).

3) We moved around a lot growing up. The longest place I ever lived at was Athens, GA for undergrad and vet school.

4) Building on that, in my 4 years of being a vet I have killed (most of them purposefully) over 100 animals...but have saved at least 10 times that. Holla!! Booyah!

5) In my 3rd year of vet school our flag football team won the UGA championship (I was quarterback, no big deal)

6) I used to be able to make...umm...noises...umm...come out of a certain area on command. Me and two other guys would do this for entertainment but they were so much better than me (Kyle and Candler were the kings of "breathing")

7) I used to hate musical instruments when I was a little kid. Now I want to learn any and all of them.

8) I eat a lot of frozen dinners (insert Debbie Downer noise here). I'm eating one right now. Chicken, rice and broccoli = Yum (but definitely not as good as some fantastic shrimp and grits that I've had recently!)

9) I love the beach! The sound of waves hitting the shore is so peaceful. The ocean reminds me of God everytime I'm there.

10) I believe the worship of God will win the day where healings, miracles and true encounters with God are the norm!

Welp, is there anybody left? How about Duane or Sean Kirkland or even the Mann's?

11) I end every post with "Grace and peace" because that's what I want everyone to fully know and experience!

So as promised...

Grace and peace.

Monday, February 18, 2008

He enjoys me!

Yesterday was a good day. It started off with me leading worship at Stonebridge church, which was really good. I hate to sound like a broken record but I truly believe worship (whether leading, equipping other worship leaders, or both) is my Kingdom calling for my life here on earth. Anyway, worship was sweet yesterday morning. The band consisted of Mike Bedingfield on drums, Mark White on bass and Gary Austin singing background vocals and mixing in some harmonica. I felt as if most of the congregation was engaged with the Lord and I'm praying that they encountered Jesus (I did so I'm believing they did too!). The set list included:

Holy (Vineyard) --> We Will Embrace Your Move (Darrell Evans)
Come (own) --> All Who Are Thirsty chorus (Vineyard)
Holy God (Brian Doerkson)

Came to My Rescue

Then, Sunday evening I took on the storms and tornado warnings and drove over to Lawrenceville to the Sunday evening "Encountering God" service at the International House of Prayer. This was exactly what I needed! Most of the time I am the one either leading worship or playing on the worship team, and not "participating" with the body in worship. Anyway, one of my good friends, Caleb Andrews, was leading worship. Let me tell you, he has an incredible anointing on him to lead worship. His sensitivity to the Spirit is impeccable. Worship, as you can imagine, was awesome! There is a freedom in worship at the House of Prayer that is contagious. It is truly a place where all cares, worries and burdens fall to the side in the presence of the Almighty God! Singing, dancing, prophesying, weeping, etc are all the norm here (as it should be for any church service I might add).

Billy Humphrey, main guy over at IHOP-Atlanta, then came up and shared on the Foundation of Prayer. It was the 3rd part of a 3-part series on prayer (if you have Itunes you can get his sermons on podcast for free). The gist of the message was that the foundation of prayer is that God, Creator of the Universe, enjoys me! He delights in us as we come to Him in prayer. A trap that I continually find myself in is that I view prayer as a task. Checked that box, now it's time to move on to my next task of the day. Oh Believers how mis-guided was I?! You see, God designed prayer as a way to communicate with Him and tap into His heart. If you take any Communications course in school, you will learn that the key to communication is listening. Hello!! How much do I listen? Not very much, as sad as that is for me to confess. But it's true. The Lord is the Master Communicator BECAUSE He is the Master Listener. Think about it, He has the ability to listen to 6-some-odd billion people! Ponder on that one for a while.

But the beautiful thing is that He enjoys listening to us! How sweet would it be to "walk and talk with the Lord" like Adam did? Or like Noah did? Or like Enoch did? I can picture it now, the Lord comes strolling into the Garden (whistling perhaps? I don't know?) and calling for Adam. "Adam, it's time for our walk in the Garden!" The Lord has this incredible joy on His face and He walks and talks with Adam. I can hear Adam ask the question, "Lord, what are those bright things in the sky that shine when it's dark?" The Lord would then reply with a smile, "Adam, those are stars that are millions and billions of miles away and I formed each and every one of them." The Lord would then explained to Adam the mysteries of the Universe. Incredible! Now take Noah. He walked and talked with the Lord and the Lord told him to build an arc. If you remember, the earth had never experienced rain before! I'm sure Noah was like, "Lord, what's an arc?" He would then explain to Him that it is just like the boats they put go out on the lake with, but much much bigger. "But why am I building this arc?" Noah might then ask. The Lord replies, "Because I'm about to send a flood" and then He would explain to Noah what a flood is and what rain is.

So why would He do all of this? Because He enjoys communicating with us and He delights in us! As it says in Colossians 1, God took pleasure in sending His One and Only Son, God in the flesh, to earth. God took pleasure in having Jesus die on the cross, the most humiliating forms of death. Why? Because He takes pleasure in calling us His children (Ephesians 1).

Child of God, I pray that God will reveal to you His delight and enjoyment of you. I pray that He removes any shame or guilt or hidden sin or whatever it is in your life so that you can truly know this enjoyment. Believe me, it is very liberating! If you grab a hold of this truth, your prayer life will become pleasurable to you and it will not be a sense of duty anymore. The Creator of the Universe, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Alpha and Omega, the Beautiful One wants to communicate with you!!

How indescribable!!

Grace and peace.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Should we pay?

Today Ernie Wagoner and Harrison DeJarnett were over at my house and we came upon the discussion of worship in the church these days. We had an amazing talk about what God is doing around the globe in worship and how He is raising up a praying/worshiping generation [and I love it!]. But then I posed the question which I will pose to you as well: Should churches pay their musicians?

For me, I struggle with this. [Note: This is my opinion and I am totally open to other's point of views. That is the beauty of this blog-thing: Freedom to voice your opinion.] I am a firm believer that a church needs to recognize the sacrifices their worship team(s) offer to be there week-in-and-week-out. Some sacrifice time with their family, jobs, friends, relationships, etc. But should each worship team member be financially compensated? Before I go on I think I need to totally EXCLUDE places like a North Point where they have the financial backing to pay EVERYONE on their worship teams. They are their own special, unique breed. I will say that most churches are not at the same level North Point is. So, if you pay a drummer or guitar player that plays during the main worship service on Sunday morning, then I believe you have to pay the other people that lead worship for the smaller settings (ie. youth, children's ministry, cell groups, etc). How can you segregate them from the others. Each person is giving up something to be there on any given day.

Something that has burdened my heart lately and saddens me is churches paying outside "musicians" to come in on a Sunday morning to play an instrument. I may be overstating here, but probably most of these people that come in to play are not members of the church AND are not being discipled or raised up. More than likely, a quasi-background check does not even take place. I am not implying here that churches need to contact the feds and see if you have ever been put in jail or cheated the government, or anything like that. I'm concerned with the potential lack of discovering what is at the center of their heart. Are they playing to just play because they are talented? Or are they playing because they love the Lord and love worshiping Him through their giftings? If they are the former, then what you are left with is a good-sounding performance. Members of the body are left watching and not worshiping, and that hurts my heart for real! Could satan be using this avenue to infiltrate a worship team or even a church to hinder the move of God? Is he setting up levies to prevent the river of God from flowing in a church service? My answer, I wouldn't put it past him. He is crafty like that.

I heard someone say that "sin equals worship gone wrong." If you take this is the literal sense, my fear is that churches are "sinning" by worrying too much about having top-quality musicians rather than having people play who genuinely have a heart for worship. An amazing guitarist or drummer can come in and play phenomenally, but what are they doing Friday night? Yes I know, we all have our own "thorns" that weigh us down at times, but we rely on the amazing grace that was given to us by Jesus' death on the cross and press in and press on because we rest in the wondrous fact that the Lord looks at our heart!

What do y'all think? Should worship team musicians be paid? My church does not have the financial capabilities to pay each person, and some have voiced the concern that we are going to lose musicians to other churches because of this. But I have to believe that one, our God is bigger than that and two, we will not lose God-centered musicians because they will see that God is truly in our house of worship.

I'm anxious to hear what you think...

Grace and peace.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

U2 on IMAX

So I saw/heard that U2 has a 3D movie out on IMAX! Well, basically it is just one of their concerts in 3D. One of the things I want to do before I die is go see a U2 concert! From what I'm hearing and reading, it is supposed to be really good (especially sound wise). Has anyone seen it? I would love to hear how it is. Or, anybody want to go one afternoon/evening/night? I really want to see it!

Any takers? Anyone?...Beuller...Beuller?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I hate them. I literally hate them. I have one right now and I'm not enjoying it a one bit. Head pounding, nausea, neck aches and the light sensitivity. Even now I'm closing my eyes due to the lgare of the comuter scren soi f mak any smelling misakes, please forgiv me! Migraines completely wipe me out.

But the Debbie Downer for me is that I think my brain is training future migraines to be resistant to whatever forces I come against them with. You see, if you take away the hard core prescription drugs, I have found over the years that the only thing that works for me is if I turn off every light in my house, lay down, place a pillow over my head being careful not to suffocate myself, and fall asleep [or at least try to]. Most of the time the headache is gone when I wake up. So if you really think about it, I didn't really 'beat' the migraine. I just laid aside unconscious while it did it's thing.

There are a lot of different "remedies" out there that my headaches laugh at. For example, Excedrin "Migraine". **Insert pre-emptive apology here for non-funny reference** When my headache gets "this big", it doesn't scream for mocks it and taunts it, and calls it little girly names like Sally or Nancy. [Again, sorry for the obscure 1980's and 90's T.V. commercial reference...I'm so stupid!]. Sometimes I think the Excedrin Migraine actually feeds the migraine...

Caffeine. Yeah right! I've downed a few Cokes this evening and nope...the ole brain still feels like a pinata.

And the herbal wackos have their supposed miracle remedy too! Have y'all ever heard of Feverfew? This is some herbal medicine that people claim will completely stop the progression of a migraine if you take it as soon as you feel one coming on. Can someone say 'gullible.'? Cause I am. I spend the $10 or so for a bottle of Feverfew, thinking that I had found a hidden treasure, but was only left with disappointment as the lights from across the street [in somebody else's house I might add] made me want to vomit.

Am I missing anything? Does anyone have any home remedies that works for them?

I'm up for trying anything.

Anyway, blye...oops sorry...had my eyes closed again...Bye for now, my dark room and pillow await!

Grace and peace.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

I got bit...

Today at work I got bit by a dog. This wasn't the first time and I guess it comes with the territory. If you work around sick, stressed and anxious dogs and cats, you are just bound to get bit every now and then. Anyway, this was nothing major, but he did break the skin on my left pinky finger. It's not that it hurts so much, but it's more of a shock factor. Like, "whoa, did I just get bit?!" I must say that I didn't realize how much I use my pinky finger. Granted, it's not as important as the ole opposable thumb (thank God for this!), but the pinky is still very important for grasping and stabilizing! The rest of the day I found myself holding my pinky out straight as if I were a rich English person drinking tea...or coffee...or whatever rich, English people drink (or at least what I envision them holding a cup like when they drink).

I guess it goes to show you that even when you think you are doing good, sometimes life sneaks up and takes a chunk out of your pinky! But, you have to take a deep breath, press in, hold that pinky out and move on. The bleeding will eventually stop and life goes on (unfortunately not for the dog though...very sad, but needed).


2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Grace and peace.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Let's Swim! Part 1

As discussed in a previous post, "The River," I just finished re-reading a book called Following the River by Bob Sorge. I can't emphasize enough how important it is for worship leaders and worship team members to read this book! So I'm going to spend the next few posts discussing some of the important points of the book. A majority of the information is from the book, but I will try not to plagiarize it too much.

Let's first focus on the River itself. For that, we are going to focus on the passage in Ezekiel chapter 47. This River can be applied to many different areas of Christian living, but we will look at how this river relates to corporate worship.

Ezekiel 47: 1-5

The man brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar. He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was flowing from the south side (some versions have "the right side").

As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross.

This depiction of the River that Ezekiel saw is one of the most vivid descriptions of this river in the entire Bible. Some believe that this is the river that you will see once you pass from this life. To that I will say true, but I believe this river can be encountered here on! In a corporate worship setting, there is a river that flows and it's source is the throne of God. In verse 2 it states that the river ran out of the "right side." Now think back to when Jesus was hanging on the cross; the guards pierced Him in His "right" side and water flowed out. Jesus' death on the cross opened up the avenue for us to drink of Him, to experience an abundant life in and through Him. So, the river of God finds its origin in the crucified Lamb. As a result, as we focus on the Lamb, we will soon find ourselves flowing in the deep waters of worship.

As we read on we see that Ezekiel was led down the river as it grew it depth without any tributaries feeding it. The river of God is self-generating. Here the Lord is showing how we can progress from the shallows of the river to its greatest depths, a progression that can be experienced powerfully in corporate worship! This is what I long for in worship. Not a service that people leave a little damp, or their shoes wet, but one where they have been swimming in the river of God! No more the statements of, "That was a nice service," or, "They have good music at that church." People who say these comments have experienced far less what Jesus died to provide.

Men and women today need to have a sweep-you-off-your-feet kind of worship service. They need to experience the "swimming" depths of the river! No matter what kind of mood they entered into the service with, or where they are in their faith, they will leave changed. It is here that they will feel the delight of their Lord and Savior. They will quiver and bow at the touch of His hands. Hard hearts will be softened and callings will be made clear.

You see, worship must lead to transformation. Richard Foster says in his book, Celebration of Discipline, "Just as worship begins in holy expectancy, it ends with holy obedience. If worship does not propel us into greater obedience, it has not been worship." Worship CANNOT be just songs! It has to radically transform us, which will ultimately impact society around us. Worship where we genuinely encounter the Lord and His river will leave us sharing his heart for a broken world. Worship without mission is self-indulgent. Mission without worship is self-defeating.

So we need to seek after the swimming depths of worship. It can't be superficial any longer. It is time to forget about rolling up our pants just so our ankles get wet. True worship is getting everything that makes up you wet. You have to get out of the mindset of just singing songs and tune your heart to the Crucified Lamb, and the River will indeed overtake you and sweep you off your feet!

Part 2 to come...

Grace and peace.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

It's all about who you know...

So I went over to Athens last night to see the fam and watch the UGA-Vanderbilt men's basketball fan. I'll admit I'm not a college basketball fan until March Madness starts. But my older brother Andy works with Vanderbilt's sports information department and he got me and the rest of the family free tickets. I was going more for the family time (aww that's sweet, isn't it?). So I met my parents, little brother Steven, and Andy at the new Hilton Hotel across from the Classic Center.

Yeah, yeah...that's not very exciting Justin. Why the heck are you blogging about going to see a sorry UGA basketball team? Well, I don't really know. Maybe because I want to! Booyah! Also, I didn't want to blog about anything serious tonight. I'll save that for tomorrow. Anyway, back to the story...So Andy scored us Press Passes. Oh yeah, I felt like Garth in Wayne's World when he and Wayne had backstage passes to the Alice Cooper concert and he was flashing this pass to any and everybody. That was me. My parents didn't think it was that funny, but Steven sure did! (I did too!) With these passes we could go anywhere we wanted. It was pretty sweet, even if it was for a lousy game (which Georgia lost by the way). I'm keeping the pass and maybe I could carefully and skillfully change the date to a Saturday in the fall (if you're picking up what I'm throwing down).

Welp, that's it. Til tomorrow...

Grace and peace.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The River

Greetings! Ok, so I am not really big on reading books, but I have a must-read for those of you involved with worship, which means that everyone should read this book because we were ALL created to worship! But this book is especially for those who lead worship, play in a worship band, or have a interest in learning about where the Lord is taking worship on a corporate, congregational level. The book is called "Following the River," by Bob Sorge. Mr. Sorge is a worship leader and is involved with the International House of Prayer out in Kansas City. He has written many books and even though I have only read about 3 or 4 of them, I can say that they are all very well written and incredibly challenging. But the one that has really stirred my heart lately is "Following the River." Trust me, it will leave you hungry and desiring after the River of God, not only during your worship services, but in your daily lives! He encourages worship leaders to step out of the box of merely running through a well-rehearsed "song service," and he gives a prophetic insight to what our church services will be like if we totally render ourselves to the Holy Spirit. If we do so, we will go past the ankle and knee deep waters of the River, and we will experience swimming-depth waters in worship!

If this hits home with you, you can go to Bob Sorge's website and order a copy for yourself or for your entire worship team. It is well worth it!!

I've read it twice now and I'm planning on reading it once a month...that's how good it is! I'm even going to start a blog series on some of the topics Mr. Sorge covers. So stay tuned...

Also, a singer/songwriter named Tara Leigh Cobble has a new book out called, "Crowded Skies: Letters to Manhattan" that I hear is really good. I haven't personally read it but I hear it is a wonderful book. You can check out on Annie's blog to learn more about Ms. Cobble and her book. In fact, you can even post a comment and register to win a FREE copy of her new book. How freagin' awesome is that?! So go do it...NOW!

Grace and peace.


Tonight was our monthly worship and prayer service. For those of you that don't know it is 2 hours of seeking after the Lord's heart in worship and in prayer. It is always a monthly highlight of mine. The theme for tonight was love. Most of us these days find ourselves seeking more to lead than seeking to love. Anyway, tonight's set list included:

Holy is the Lord
It is You

Prayer Session 1:
Unashamed Love

Prayer Session 2:
Let it Rain
He Loves Us

Prayer Session 3:
O Praise Him
For Who You Are
Love Song
You Never Let Go

It was an amazing night of worship and the Lord met us in powerful ways. My new favorite song and highlight of the night was He Loves Us. If you don't know it, check it out now! It was originally written by a youth leader named John Mark McMillan, but it is on a CD called We Cry Out which is from a service, called Jesus Culture, at Bethel Church in Redding, California. You can also search Jesus Culture on Youtube and they have numerous videos from their services. You will be blessed. If you want, you can see the video on a previous post I had, He Loves Us.

Grace and peace.