Faith of Fear

Beth and I have been having to do a lot of praying and petitioning of God lately for some pretty serious decisions. It really kind of got me thinking about how I pray for stuff and what my motivation is. Do we pray out of Faith or out of Fear?

I think generally I pray out of fear. I am so afraid of making the wrong decision that I literally want God to write the answer on the wall. But I'm not sure that is what God wants. Often we want Him to make the decision for us and then right it in stone but He wants us to have such a relationship with Him that we can hear His voice and do His Will without fear of being outside of it. I believe this is why we are told to fast and pray. In order to pray with faith we have to be in a place that we are so focused on God that there is no way we will fear not doing what God wants.

So, pray with faith. If you don't have faith that God is guiding your steps, maybe its time to go deeper. If you always stay at the same depth, eventually you will get used to where you are and won't be able to sense His guidance. But if you are going deeper, you will be able to maintain that personal connection with Him and more easily follow His Will. And who knows, maybe He'll start writing things on the wall for you.


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Why It's Called "Even When No One is Listening"

I haven't written a a couple of days because I don't have much to say right now. But when the bloggers I read don't write anything I get disappointed so for the few people who read this I thought I'd write an explanation of the title of this blog.

I call it ,"Even When No One is Listening" for two reasons. Number one, not many people read this but I will blog even if no one is reading it just so I can write things to come to me whether stupid or insightful, I talk even when no one is listening (especially at my house). Number two, because that is the attitude I take toward what I do. I am a worship pastor and it is my job to lead people in worship. But if I only worship when others are paying attention, what's the point, its not in spirit and in truth. So, I will praise Jesus whether people are listening or not.

So there you have it. Happy Memorial Day.


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I Gotta Dance

This morning my daughter said one of the cutest and oddly profound things she has ever said in her short life so far. We were eating breakfast and I had plugged my iPod into the stereo and we were listening to some music. When she heard it, she first said, "yeah, music!" Then a couple minutes later we were sitting around the table eating our oatmeal and she said, "I gotta dance!" Of course being the good father I am I said, "you have to finish your oatmeal first."

After a few minutes I really started thinking about what she said. She had to dance. Not "I want to dance," but "I've gotta dance." Its amazing how the things that our kids say can really speak into our lives and humble us in profound ways.

When we were little kids, its likely that we felt the same way Karoline did when she heard the music. We would dance freely, sing, and jump without worrying at all about what those around us thought. However as we grow older and "mature" we are taught about shame, and that there is a time and a place for everything. One of the places I was taught was not the time nor the place for dancing, jumping, and being undignified was church. My parents didn't teach me this, the church leadership and tradition did. That's a bit sad. I remember going to camps in the summer and seeing other kids going crazy during the fast songs, raising their hands during the slow songs, and bowing to their knees when the Holy Spirit led them. All of the kids from our church would make fun of them. We thought they were freaks. We had been trained to not express ourselves to God...send us to a college football game or a concert and we were dancing , clapping, and screaming with everyone else but church was not the time nor the place.

As a church leader I refuse to allow this to happen at Bay Hills. In fact, our youth group are some of the best worship leaders we have. They sit at the front of the church (when most people prefer to sit farther back), they sing loud, raise their hands, even fall face-down on the dirty gym floor when the Spirit leads. I can't get them to sit down, its great.

So let me ask you this question: does your outward appearance show the joy, that as a Christ-follower, you should have welling up within you. What is more honoring to God, to stand amazed, in complete surrender to Him without fear of how it looks or what people think, or to cross your arms and stand with a stoic look on your face? Some people deny the importance of outward expressions of worship but deep down, I think they know that its important. Time after time the Bible talks about people falling to their knees, face-down, bowing, raising holy hands, shouting to the Lord, clapping, dancing, and on and on because of their experience with God whether through witnessing a miracle, experiencing Jesus first hand, or being filled with the Holy Spirit.

So I guess the big question that Karoline raised to me is, "do I gotta dance." Or is it enough to just be cool and not show my emotions. Is God enough to make you dance or do you need something more, because as far as the Bible sees anything we need beyond God to bring us into worship (whether its of God, a football team, a band, or anything else) is an idol.

I'm gonna do my best to get the place where I just gotta dance.


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True Worship

I'm pretty excited about next week. Dave will be talking about worship, what it really is, how we should respond in worship, etc. He may even let me talk a bit during the sermon which would be the first time since I last preached (two years ago). So, in preparation for that I thought I would share a little insight I got from a book I've been reading, Stricly Strategic Volunteers by Tony Morgan and Tim Stevens.

Unless you've taken a Biblical Greek class or just know you Greek really well, you may not know that one of the main Greek words used for worship is "latreia," which means "divine service." I guess that makes me the Divine Service Pastor. What this means is that worship is so much more than singing, listening to a sermon, or coming to church. It is our service to God. Everything we do is worship. I know you've probably heard this a million times but its so crucial to how we live our lives. As Christians we have succeeded in compartmentalizing our lives so that there is the "divine" and the "secular." However, this creates a situation that isn't reality. Everything you do is seen by God. Everything you do is either an affirmation or a refutation of the Holy Spirits presence in your life.

As Christ followers, we are called to be a light to the world; "shine your light to all men that they may see your good works and praise your Father in Heaven." So ask yourself, "how am I worshiping God" whether you are at church, at your kids baseball game, at work. After all as Jesus put it, "you are the salt of the earth but what good is salt that has lost its saltiness." Keep it salty.


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Perhaps I Should Clear Things Up

If you are confused by this post, please read the previous post and the comments on the previous post so that you may more fully enjoy this post.

Due to the unprecedented response to my last post (by people who will be seeing me at the beach without a shirt on in the near future), I think I should clear a few things up.

-No one has ever made a good video about swimming.

-Christians always sleep with a shirt on (I believe that's somewhere in the Old Testament, Deuteronomy perhaps). Plus who's going to make a Christian video where they get out of bed in their underwear and no shirt. Come on!

-When you water-ski, you have to wear a life jacket ("so we can be safe!" Dora) Thus, you are technically shirtless but we're going with the spirit not the letter of the theory (remember I'm a California liberal).

-When I said I'm only a few pushups and situps away from being ripped, I meant a few thousand plus some type of cardiovascular exercise and probably a miracle pill or two.

-Yes Jared, don't worry about muscles, we wouldn't see them anyway.


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Well lately I've been reading the swerve blog from Lifechurch.tv and something Craig Groeschel has been talking a lot about lately is changing your habits so that you can be more creative, more alert to knew things, and escape from any ruts you may be in. So I took his advice and today I bought the new Kirk Franklin CD. This is a very different genre from what I normally listen to but I am enjoying it.

However, I was struck by one thing in particular. I downloaded the Album from iTunes and included was a music video for the title track. In the video Kirk Franklin is a boxer and spends 100% of the time with his shirt off.

Kirk Franklin is ripped.

I'm working on a theory about Christian musicians. I first developed this theory a few years ago when I saw a Carmen (you may or may not know him but he was basically the first Christian music superstar) video. In the video he was a boxer (sound familiar) and spent 90% of the time with his shirt off and he was ripped. Ergo, the theory: if you are a Christian Musician who happens to be ripped and you want people to see how ripped you are, you have to make a video where you box.

You see, as a secular musician you can just take off your shirt. For example, Scott Wylan, Keith Sweat, 50 Cent, etc. Christian musicians can't do this because they are Christians and that wouldn't be appropriate. However, if your ripped, what's the point if you can't show it off? So this is the only "legitimate" way to make sure people know you are ripped.

So, in conclusion, ripped Christian musicians box in their video. I'm a few sit-ups and push-ups away from being ripped myself so I'm writing a song called "God Punched Me in The Lip When We Were Boxing Together Just Like Jacob." So you can look for my video in the next few months.


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Pink Dinnerware

I sound like an old man, but I'm not sure what's wrong with kids these days. Saturday night around 9:30, Beth and I were enjoying our little southern escape into NASCAR and just hanging out. I heard some odd noises outside, since it had been hot that day, we had the windows and doors open and were enjoying the cool night. I got up and looked outside and I saw something moving in the front yard. I looked out of the door and sure enough, kids from our youth group were there in our front yard. I watched for a few minutes as they stuck pink forks, knives, and spoons into my front yard. I just watched and observed and reflected upon some of the things I did with my friends when I was young. As I thought, I realized, we never put forks, knives, or spoons anywhere. I felt bad for them that they got that bored. What ever happened to going to the skating rink, bowling, or the movies. I'm afraid those things just aren't cool anymore. Rather, what's cool is putting dinnerware in yards...I guess. Well I better go pick some up. I have to stay cool.


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Its Hot!

Well, its hot out here in the Bay Area again. Its Global Warming I'm sure, I shouldn't have bought the Expedition and F 150. Anyway, yesterday it was 93 and today its supposed to be up to about 100. I realize that everyone back in the South doesn't feel sorry for me at all but let me explain myself.

In the Bay Area, for some reason, people don't think they need air conditioning. I don't understand this. We have enough days above 72 (which I believe is "room temperature") to warrant air conditioning. Its insane to sit in your house and sweat or to put you kids to bed in what might as well be a sauna. And there's nothing you can do. You can only take so many layers of clothing off. Sorry for the rant.


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Come for the Fireworks, Stay for the Party


I shared a story yesterday with our congregation at Bay Hills (so for all of you who were there, you are excused)about an experience Beth and I had Saturday night. A friend of ours invited us to a party that one of the companies she works with was throwing. Every year a local radio station KFOG (you'll see the irony in a minute), has an event called KABOOM (more future irony) at which they have a concert and shoot off some serious fireworks from a barge in the bay. We were partying on a dock in Alameda (Port of Oakland) and had a great view of downtown San Francisco where the fireworks would be coming from. As it grew darker anticipation grew as well. We enjoyed the time of fellowship and listening to the two guys with guitars who were singing, not to mention the food was great. The time came when it was dark enough for a really great fireworks display. We tuned into KFOG, the cued the John Phillip Sousa music and the show began. We heard the kaboom, but we didn't see anything. Then the next kaboom but all we saw as a red glowing bank of FOG.

The famous San Francisco fog had rolled in while we were partying and blocked our view to the fireworks show. Once or twice we got to see some sparks peek over the top of the fog but we basically all went over to a fire they had built to warm up.

This got me thinking, though, about church. About what many experience every Sunday. You see we go to church, we see our friends, eat the donuts and drink the coffee. Then we sing the songs, clap, some dance, and we watch the funny video. Then the pastor comes up and we laugh and learn from his sermon. But all of that is just the party leading up to the fireworks and everyone has to see the fireworks or they leave unfulfilled, unsatisfied, and unchanged. What we must remember is that God is why we gather, He is the main event and we know that "where two or more are gathered" he's right there with us. But so often we experience everything but God...His presence...his healing...His Grace. Don't be the ones who are standing on the dock watching the fog light up, wondering what it must be like to be able to see the fireworks. Get on a boat and be where they are. Go to God and be where He is, experience the fullness of Love.

O, and never go to Oakland after dark.


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Well my brother-in-law was a bit offended that I had a post just for guitar nerds and not for nerds like him with no discernible skill, unless having greasy hair is a skill. So, I saw this video last night and I immediately thought of him and now can't wait to get to the beach and maybe play a bit of cornhole. That's right, one of the most addictive games in the world. Not familiar, check out this video.



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Robots, Its Worse Than We Thought


I just left a comment on another person's blog (I do this alot because I like it when people leave comments for me...its my Love Language, HINT HINT). Anyway, now I can't stop giggling to myself. When I finished the comment it sent me to a page with one of those verification deals with the letters and the squigglies that you can barely read. So it said that it was there to "prevent robots from leaving comments."

Now, think of your grandmother. If someone would have said that when she was your age they would have been out in the streets with torches and pitchforks hunting down those nasty, medicine stealing robots (late nineties SNL reference).

Now I just have this picture in my head of Rosie from the Jetsons sitting at a computer leaving random comments on people's blogs with her evil robot laugh. Sorry, I just had to share that.


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Sometime I really don't understand people. Why do they do what they do? What are they thinking? You know, that kind of stuff.

When I drove up to work today I saw a sight that is becoming a little two familiar. It was a pile of trash in the parking lot of the church! So here's how I think it went down. Somebody had just finished their spring cleaning (good job, show that initiative). They thought, "what should I do with this trash?" And then, all of the sudden, a light bulb goes off. "I know, I'll dump it at a church."

What? Who does that? Who thinks that little about churches, or anyplace for that matter, to dump their trash in its parking lot. The thing is that we have a perfectly good dump where you can just pull up and dump it out, much like you would have to do in a church parking lot.

I guess its just a product of living in a fallen world and sin which even extends to how to dispose of trash. Here's a bit of advice if you have trash you need to part with. You pay taxes for men to drive trucks around and take it for you, if you have two much, they offer two oversize load pickups FOR FREE!, and last but not least, a quick trip to the dump.


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An Exciting Development for Guitar Nerds

You may or may not have heard of Lincoln Brewster but to all of us Worship Leaders who have dreams of replacing our lead guitar players and hogging all of the glory, he is the grand master. Lincoln (I'm not really on a first name basis but Mr. Brewster seemed odd) is a great worship leader and a better guitar player and has finally finished work on his website and its now online at www.lincolnbrewster.com. Anyway, what's so great for guitar nerds (at least those who use PODs) is that He has put his patches online for all to download. Now don't expect to come to Bay Hills and hear Brewsteresque leads from me, you still have to have the skill, but at least now I can't make the excuse that I don't have the tools to get that sound. Anyway, here's a surprising video of Lincoln talking about his Live rig, which is the exact same thing I do. Guitar players its time to sell those amps.



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My Apologies for Your Time

Wow, today was a doozy! That's how I'm spelling that. We went twenty minutes long in both services today so I would like to go ahead and offer my apologies. The problem at Bay Hills is that when we go long, we kind of hurt ourselves for the next service because parking is so tight. Anyway, it was a great service and since my very sensitive drummer said today that I never give compliments I will lavish them now. We had three "regulars" out today and Beth didn't even notice they weren't there. This isn't a slight to them but a complement to our team that is consistently improving and getting more and more professional sounding every week. The goal is to be consistent, no matter who is on stage and that happened today. God really worked through all of the elements and songs this week and I know that people were challenged and hopefully changed.

We played one new song today: Mighty to Save (Hillsong United). Check it out if you don't already have it.


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