I know there are people who don't like music...but I believe music goes beyond language. Music moves us, it angers us, it excites us - music expresses things that we can't express with just words. I love gathering on Sundays to sing. I love singing old songs and I love singing new songs. I love hearing and singing lyrics that become an expression of my heart. That's what worship is - us turning our hearts toward God, expressing deep feelings and emotions and beliefs.
One of the things we'll try to do this year is introduce you to some songs that we're listening to and singing - songs that may help you express your heart to God. Last week we sang a song that the David Crowder Band recorded last year. The title is "How He Loves." For some reason this song grabs my heart when we sing it. I am overcome thinking about the depth of love God has for us. Here's just a part of the lyric...
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...

If grace is an ocean we're all sinking...love that thought. Here's a link to the video if you're interested: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJyW55AXJAk

What songs are helping you express your heart to God these days?


you're it.

I'm a dreamer. I love to dream about what could be. I love to envision what could happen. That usually involves having something I don't currently have. There is good in dreaming, there is good in visioneering, there is good in looking ahead at what could be. But there is also a danger.

The danger is in believing that we can't do what we should do unless we get what we don't have to get to where we want to be. Did that make any sense? The danger is in believing that we need what we don't have to be who we have been called to be. Confused yet? It leads to statements like this: If only I had another $__________... or If only we had a building with ___________ or If only we had more ______________.

This morning, I was reading from Matthew, chapter 10. This verse hit me:

"You don't need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment..." (http://read.ly/Matt10.10.MSG)

The dreamer in me cringes at that thought. But it is the truth. I love the thought of having bigger and more and nicer and quicker and ... but none of that can replace the heart and gifts that God gave me. There is nothing that can replace your heart and gifts. You and I have exactly what we need to do what God has called us to do. It's simply a matter of us trusting Him with what we have. It's simply a matter of us releasing our grip on what we have and being willing to do ... to give ... to be what He has called us to do ... to give ... to be.

You're it. You're the only equipment He needs.

Another story from Sunday

Soren Kierkegaard once told a parable about two thieves who broke into a jewelry store, but instead of stealing the jewels they simply switched the price tags. They put high-priced tags on cheap jewelry and low-priced tags on valuable gems. For several weeks no one noticed. People bought cheap jewelry for exorbitant prices and rare jewels for spare change.

Kierkegaard's point is pretty obvious: sometimes we have difficulty discerning between what is valuable and what is worthless.

John 10:10 says, "The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy." But here's how he steals. Very rarely is it overt. He uses covert means. He switches the price tags. He wants us to place supreme value on worthless things and no value on things that are invaluable.

Once again props to Mark Batterson for sharing.


the Tribe of the Transplanted

One of the things we want to do in 2010 is introduce you to some great books and stories that we are reading/hearing. I shared an excerpt from one on Sunday - on heart transplants. Below is an excerpt of Mark Batterson's new book, Primal - A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity. Batterson is pastor in Washington, DC. He is a great writer. I recommend any of his books (In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, Wild Goose Chase, Primal). The following is from chapter 2, the Tribe of the Transplanted:

Several years ago I had the privilege of attending the National Prayer Breakfast held annually at the Washington Hilton Hotel. The breakfast is a bipartisan gathering of leaders from all branches of government and both houses of Congress as well as delegations of leaders from foreign countries. The speaker that year was Bill Frist. Prior to his tenure in the U.S. Senate, Dr. Frist performed more than 150 heart transplants as a thoracic surgeon. During his remarks, he talked in reverent tones about the moment when a heart has been grafted into a new body and all the surgical team can do is wait in hopes that it will begin to beat. At that point he stopped speaking in medical terms and starting speaking in spiritual terms. He almost seemed at a loss for words as he described that miraculous moment when a heart beats in a new body for the first time. He called it a mystery.

Heart transplants are a marvel of modern medicine, but it goes way beyond what medicine can explain or understand. The heart is more than a physical pump. It doesn’t just circulate five thousand quarts of blood through sixty thousand miles of blood vessels day in and day out. The heart has a mind of its own. Studies suggest that the heart secretes its own brainlike hormones and has cellular memory. So a heart transplant isn’t just physical; it’s metaphysical. Heart transplant recipients don’t just receive a new organ; they receive cellular memories.

In his book A Man After His Own Heart, Charles Siebert shares a scientific yet poetic depiction of a heart transplant he observed at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. Not long after, Siebert attended an annual banquet for transplant recipients and he was deeply moved by their profound appreciation for life. They spoke in reverent tones about the second
chance at life they had been given. They humbly acknowledged their responsibility to honor the donor. And many of them talked about new desires that accompanied their new hearts.

Siebert concluded-and his research is backed up by numerous medical studies-that transplant recipients don’t just receive a new heart. Along with that new heart, they receive whole new sensory responses, cravings, and habits.

Siebert called this group of heart recipients “the tribe of the transplanted.”

When you give your heart to Christ, Christ gives His heart to you. And you become a part of the tribe of the transplanted. That new heart gives you a new appreciation for life. You humbly acknowledge your responsibility to honor the donor. And the cellular memories that come with that transplanted heart give you whole sensory responses, cravings, and habits. You literally feel different. Why? Because you feel what Christ feels. And chief among those sanctified emotions is compassion. Your heart begins to break for the things that break the heart of God. You become part of the this coup de compassion that started at Calvary. And that is the heart of what it means to love God with all of your heart.


Thoughts from Sunday...

Just a few thoughts from Sunday...

I love the energy that comes from a packed room. It pumps me up to be a part of a community that is learning to turn our hearts and minds toward God every week. I absolutely LOVE singing How He Loves by David Crowder Band. It is just one of those songs that feels like a personal declaration. The story I shared about heart transplants was from Mark Batterson's book, Primal.

How fun was it to hear Joe sing the words, "I went skydiving...rocky mountain climbing...2.7 seconds on a bull named FuManChu..." I thought it was awesome...a little better than Tim's version. And did anyone notice that he was wearing cowboy boots?

Two simple thoughts dominated the message: 1. The enemy wants us to waste our lives. 2. God wants us to experience a full life. I believe God wants you and me to experience an extraordinary life - He doesn't want us to simply go through the motions. So many of us are just existing - we're not really living. Over the next few weeks, we're going to dig in a bit deeper. On the final Sunday of January, we're going to write letters to ourselves - letters about who we want to become as families, letters about how we want to experience a full life, letters about changes we feel as though we need to make. We'll seal the letters, self address the envelopes and then, at the end of 2010, we'll send the letters to those who wrote them. This will be a great exercise and experience for all of us.

I shared an example from something our family did a few years ago and an example from a personal exercise I did a couple of years ago. Hope these stir some thoughts in you.

Who we are becoming as a family:
1.We love and value all people.
2.We serve others and don’t just think of ourselves.
3.We are generous and share all that we have.
4.We join with Christ in what He is doing around us.
5.We slow down and enjoy time with one another.
6.We do everything (in word and deed) as if we were doing it for Christ.
7.We fix our minds on things that are good.

Some changes I need to make:

1.As a husband - more encouraging verbally and specific
2.As a dad - be there when there...turn off my 'work' when home
3.As a friend - take more interest in them
4.As a follower of Jesus - prayer time more focused
5.As a pastor - unbusy myself & engage people in Word