I haven’t been posting much . . .

. . . but I have been having fun with my page banner – lots of good pics to choose from!

Also, tonight I heard this song when driving Beth home from Beach in the Box, and a wave of nostalgia washed over me. This song expresses, better than I was ever able to do, the desires of my heart back when I used to be involved in the worship bands.

Even without music, may I be able to bring him something of worth, every day . . .

When the music fades and all is stripped away

And I simply come

Longing just to bring something that’s of worth

That will bless Your heart

I’ll bring You more than a song

For a song in itself

Is not what You have required

You search much deeper within

Through the way things appear

You’re looking into my heart

I’m coming back to the heart of worship

And it’s all about You

All about You, Jesus

I’m sorry, Lord, for the things I’ve made it

When it’s all about You

All about You, Jesus

King of endless worth, no one could express

How much You deserve

Though I’m weak and poor, all I have is Yours

Every single breath

I’ll bring You more than a song

For a song in itself

Is not what You have required

You search much deeper within

Through the way things appear

You’re looking into my heart

I’m coming back to the heart of worship

And it’s all about You

All about You, Jesus

I’m sorry, Lord, for the things I’ve made it

When it’s all about You

All about You, Jesus

I’ll bring you more than a song . . .

– Heart of Worship, by Matt Redman

The 2007 Spring Break Band Party

As some of you know, one of the most rewarding and impacting (on me) ministries I’ve ever been involved in was working with seven year’s worth of student worship bands at our church.

A characteristic of the last band I was involved with (in 2004-2005) was their unity and love for each other. They were all very different, but they developed a sweet friendship and love for each other during the year that was . . . well, it was amazing, and awesome, and wonderful. One thing we did quite a few times during that year was get together for game nights, and Balderdash was usually the game of choice. It’s pretty much the funnest board game ever invented.

The band members are scattered now, working, at college, in Seattle, etc., but now and then we have a chance to get together. Brad was down from Seattle so we organized another Balderdashy band party. It was a blast! And it included a lot of other friends too; about 20 people took part in the festivities throughout the night. We started a bit late (around 10:00pm) and it went until 4:30am. I went to bed very tired, but with a smile on my face.

I went to bed thankful for friends, and for a chance to watch young people who mean so much to me grow up. I’m overwhelmed at God’s grace and so thankful to him! Why do I get to experience such great things?

Sometimes I really miss the days we all had together. It hurts to miss people. But it’s a good hurt.

Some pictures for ya:

Continue reading “The 2007 Spring Break Band Party”

A chapter closed. Great memories. A great God

Today I realized that it has been one year exactly since an important chapter in my life closed. One year ago today I said goodbye to a worship band that I had been working with all year, the last of seven year’s worth. It was a great year. Really, every year was, and each had its own set of joys, challenges, struggles and victories.

I can’t really put into words what shepherding the worship bands meant to me. It was wonderful. I don’t regret leaving that ministry, though. When I left, I replaced myself as I always knew I must, and my replacement is doing a great job. Over the years I replaced myself several times (for instance, more than one of the pics below is of a band that was not really led by me, but by former band students who became leaders). Replacing yourself is a good thing to learn how to do, and one of the unexpected joys of doing this thing.

A year and a December ago God let me know that it was time. I finished out the year – and a fabulous blessing of a year it was! – and Jill and I have moved on to another ministry in our church, this one with young singles. Different, but wonderful too. And now our two oldest children are in high school and both of them have become members of the student worship bands. So I’m experiencing this all over again, from a different angle. Wow!

Below are just a few of the hundreds of pictures I have of that seven year period stretching from 1998 to 2005, in rough chronological order. I wish I had pictures available online of every student who ever took part! Some I only have in prints and didn’t have time or the heart to scan them. But all of these, pictured or not, were a blessing to me. You can’t tell from the pictures how hard they worked, how committed they were, how passionately they worshipped, and how musically excellent they became.

I’ll never forget them.







































Lord, with a passion

born of your Spirit

We burned.

And with a bond

Of unity and beautiful friendship

We became brothers and sisters

And sons and daughters

Tears we shed

Of laughter sweet

And pain, and prayer

Watering the altar

And in the best of times

Our hearts aligned with Yours

And the worship was an offering

And You were lifted high

And I am filled with wonder and praise

For the enduring blessing

Of Your grace and those days.




Heading to a wedding rehearsal!

Tyson, a former member (1998-2000) of the student worship band I used to lead, is getting married tomorrow to Erin.

I love these band weddings! This will be the 7th former band member to get married this year in six weddings; one of the weddings was for a couple (Matt and Stephanie) who were both in the worship band.

Tyson and Erin will be moving to Seattle (where Tyson lives now). Tyson currently is on the ministry team of this church plant.

It’s so neat to see these kiddos grow up!

A stone of remembrance

Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.�? And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.�?

So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it.

– Genesis 28:16-18 (ESV)

The stone that Jacob used for a pillow the night before had become holy, and he set it up as a pillar of remembrance. The night before it was just a rock, like all the others. Now it was a holy, annointed, stone of remembrance.

Remembering what God has done is something we are commanded to do over and over in Scripture. The reason should be plain, if you’ve lived long enough to realize how forgetful we humans are of the blessings we’ve been given. That’s why it’s often helpful to keep and hold objects of remembrance, to remind us.

For months I’ve carried a piece of paper, shown below, that has the setlist for one of the last worship services the student worship band I used to work with ever did. This was a holy night – it was our last night at our Junior High camp and on this night the band led a private worship service for the Victory Camp staff.



It was beautiful, and I’ll never forget it. God moved that night, and the worship was pure and good. I’m helped in that remembrance by this little piece of paper. Of the thousands of pieces of paper that pass through my hands each year only a few become special, set apart, made holy by the memories of God’s work that they carry with them. This is one of them. Tonight I was thinking of the past, and of memories of past moves of God, as I pondered the fact that now that Jill and I are poised to move into a new ministry, we really are done working with students. It’s final. That is a bittersweet feeling. But it’s good to be where we believe God wants us to be.

Do you carry little “stones” of remembrance with you? Do you hold on to items that remind you of what God has done? If you do, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.



They blessed me. Here they are singing Rain Down that night

Band Party!

Tonight the band I worked with last year had a final reunion party. I say “final” because I have a feeling we will never all be together again, at least not for a long while. That makes me sad, because we went through so much together last year and became a true family and it’s hard to see that end. But such is the way of life on this earth. These times are a preview of the days when my own kids will grow up and go away. That’s not something I’m ready for!

The party was fun. We played our traditional Taboo and Balderdash, drank IBC rootbeer, and talked and laughed and just enjoyed being with each other. Our student ministers Randy and Jeremy joined us to make the party that much better.

On nights like tonight I am painfully reminded that it is hard to be away from people who mean a lot to you. In our lives we move to new places, scatter over the face of the earth, leave the familiar and drive to the unknown. We fall out of touch. In addition, as the oldest person (by far) in this group I always feel just slightly behind. The cultural references pass me by. Tonight I learned what a “facebook” is, for instance. :-) Fascinating!

It’s easy to feel like a square peg in a round hole. Work with students as an older adult for a while and you will recognize this feeling. But I also know that really, as believers, none of us “belongs”. Not here. We long for a heavenly home, the place where we “fit”. Though I’ve been blessed beyond blessing here on earth with all I ever could have wanted and even more – my best friend and wife Jill, our four children, shelter, income, food, and treasured friends such as these – it dawns on me that I’ve been looking for the place Jesus is preparing for me all my life. My very flesh groans for it. To be with Him, that is Heaven!

I’d go in a second given the opportunity. To have my brokenness fixed, once and for all, and to be able to finally worship our Lord fully and with no guile, no pretense, and nothing held back . . . wow!

To be, finally, in that place where you never have to say goodbye . . .

But I remain here, in the struggle, in the joys and pains and weariness of this mortal life on our broken earth and in this broken body. And I accept that with joy. God has been very gentle with me, really, and has made my path very easy.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

– John 14:1-3 (ESV)

Below are some shots from the party. These people are precious to me – darn it, I miss them!





left to right: Jeremy, Randy, Joey, Brad, Kevo, with Mego and Kelso hugging



Yeah!



A bad smell (but not really – and no, Brad, it wasn’t Kelsey) . . .



Sad . . . Mego is distraught and Kevin has decided to drown his sorrows in IBC.

Students

I miss them.

I was a volunteer in our church’s student ministry for 10+ years. I finished my time there a week and a half ago. I began to write a long post full of my observations of Student ministry over the last decade. But, as is disconcertingly typical with me, the words just weren’t flowing. But I can summarize:

Students are wonderful. Sometimes people who don’t know them can think that they aren’t spiritual, or that they are scary, or that they are sinful and lost. Well, of course, many students, like many people, fit those descriptions. But my hope for the future is always boosted when in the presence of a student who loves God (and there are many). And I’m not just talking about high school students. You know those seventh graders you avoid? A lot of them are awesome – get to know them.

Students understand community in ways we don’t. They are bonded to each other. They understand that they can’t be alone, even though many of them, through no fault of their own, are. The wisest ones understand that they won’t make it as a Christian without others. Why do we lose the ability to have community when we get older? I know, I know, we’re more busy. We have families.

But why don’t I know my neighbors better?

Selah

Many students don’t have families to speak of. It positively, absolutely kills me. Their parents are either gone or distant. And so they have to make it through their young lives essentially alone, and they fight battles that they should never have to fight, and carry baggage that should never have been placed on them. They shouldn’t have to wonder which dad will walk them down the aisle at their wedding, and they shouldn’t have to wish that the answer could be “neither”. They shouldn’t have to live vagabond lives, sleeping at relatives and friend’s houses because their parents don’t appear to care where they sleep and don’t appear to give them much acceptance. They shouldn’t have to inherit all the pathologies and personality-scars that their parents pass down to them, with the attendant probabilities of repeating the cycle. And I shouldn’t have to wonder why their parents never come to see them at church. Leading worship is not about performance, but to have a parent be, seemingly, completely uninterested in the fact that their child sings as a lead-worshipper for over a hundred students each week makes me sad.

When students are together, it’s amazing. I was allowed into their culture from time to time (a great act of grace on their part, I might add) and it’s a wonderful place. They love each other. They strive for God. They want to live epic lives, and believe God can take them there. They are afraid for their future. And they still know how to live in the now.

I said I miss them. Which is ironic, because I haven’t moved away and most of them haven’t either. But I am called to serve in the main church body and, like many churches, the students are somewhat removed from that. I don’t understand why, but I don’t think this is a healthy thing. There are people who I love dearly who I will never, ever see, even though they “go to my church”, unless I walk the 150 yards over to the student building. We are two churches. I’d love to find ways to make us one again without diminishing either side.

I could write a lot more. About how amazing it is to go to, for instance, the wedding of a student you were close to, and see that person grown up now, and still loving God. I have two more weddings of past band members to go to this fall. That’s awesome! It’s amazing to see them start their own families. It’s a bit twilight-zonish to see them become adults.

Some of the ones I’ve known have gone into ministry, or onto the mission field. And that’s been so great to see. I’ve always told the worship band members that the most important thing is that they continue walking with God after the band’s done. And, for the most part, they have.

Students need loving adults to shepherd them. Maybe you? There’s nothing like it.

I miss them. And I’m so thankful.