Wednesday, August 18, 2010

the conductor

God is love. I know that to be true. But then I look at the world and its moaning shout that something is terribly wrong. “Where is the love?” comes to mind. When I close my eyes, and open my hearts towards heaven, I hear the love melody of my heavenly Father. The love of God is oxygen to my heart, bringing me the life I’m desperate for. But I fear I don’t know how to let it out. While my natural body knows only how to breath in and breath out, I find my soul holding on to love, but not letting it go. Freely I receive, but do I freely give?  

If Jesus is the holy conductor of love, then I must learn the song he’s conducting. Its as if I’m content with playing my own tuning song, ignorant of the majestic music sitting before me.  It’s as if the whole world has unknowingly purchased tickets to this global symphony, but God’s children must pick up their instruments, join together in one chord, all eyes on our holy conductor. 

 The dust must be shaken off the music. I can’t worry about my instrument going out of tune. Just play. Play with everything inside of me. Play because the whole world is watching. Play because the music will set them free.  

Friday, March 12, 2010

becoming a dreamer

The Christian life is amazing. I was hit with this thought yesterday and I have been pondering it all morning. Jesus has invited us into this amazing life. Abundant life you might call it. Isn’t that what everyone is searching for? Happiness, purpose, contentment, unconditional love… Jesus’ invitation is to follow Him. But hold on for a second. Everyone wants abundant life, but we so often want to do the leading. So we lead away, dreaming of the life we want to live, and then doing everything in our power to make it happen. This is when our dreams can so easily become nightmares.

Humans are dreamers, but if our dreams are based around personal gain, power, authority, and fame, then the root drive is to save ourselves. “If I have power, then I have control. And If I have control then I will have what I want and be ok.” Dreams can become temptations in disguise, an attractive looking life-path attempting to be in control and save ourselves. If we let truth shine in, we know that if we try to save our lives, we will lose it. This is how our dreams can so easily become nightmares. But the opposite is the good news: if we lose our life, we will find it. This is the upside-down Kingdom of God in action.

I’m after abundant life. I’m not following Christ just to be safe. I’m in this thing because my heart is crying out for life, love, joy, purpose, and contentment. And I’ve realized I’m powerless to find this life I want on my own. When I was in high school, I found my identity in being a musician. Drummers I thought were the coolest, and my desire for acceptance was driving me to excel as a drummer. So I practiced and practiced. But before I was ever any good at drums, God placed the desire in me first. In his timing He would begin to unfold the bigger picture for me playing drums. But in the mean time holy frustration would be my companion. I took what God gave me, and I entertained thoughts that it was my gift and I slowly fell to the age old temptation to take control and use my gift for my own gain. There I went trying to save my life. I wanted to be the best. Then I could have friends, find success. Then I would be happy right?

Jesus interrupted my life the summer of 2003. I was walking into the trap of destiny, something that God can only plant to save me from myself. I stumbled to an IHOP youth conference called “One Thing” – up to this point I was a dedicated church drummer. But missing was my heart engaging in worship. I gave my drumming, but withheld what God was after…me. It it was here that I watched a small petite girl (now I know as Misty Edwards) pour out her heart on just the piano and her voice. She kept singing the same line “Jesus, here I am your favorite one, what are you thinking, what are you feeling, I have to know. For I’m after your heart…” 5 minutes go by and I’m thinking she’s really getting into this. 15 minutes and I’m wondering if it’s ok to keep singing the same thing. 30 minutes it hits me. She really means this. It’s as if there’s no one in the room but her and Jesus. She really loves Him. And musically, she’s really talented. I knew that God was requiring this of me. Not just my drumming, but me. I went to the front and knew everything was going to be different from this moment onward. For the first time I encounter the passionate Jesus that was jealous for all of me. But at the same time He was kind, and was inviting me to follow Him, to trust Him and give Him my life. I was already saved in the theological-I-believe-in-Jesus sense, but this moment was when I gave up my power to lead my life.

Jesus interrupted my life with his hand extended, an invitation to follow Him. This is when I began to trust. And he’s proven to be faithful. Over and over and over again. Every day He reveals a new side of himself, and new promise, and new revelation of His goodness. I have found the abundant life I was looking for. Yet it keeps getting fuller and more complete every day. Something amazing happened when I began to follow Jesus. His dreams started to whisper in my ears. I found myself dreaming with Him. I started finding my passions being about His Kingdom, not mine. And the cool thing about God’s dreams, is that He believes in them more than I ever will, and the resources of Heaven flood down to earth, looking to show strong support to those whose hearts are completely His. God’s dreams happen, and it the believer s joy to get to partner with Him.

As followers of Jesus, we must come to believe that there’s greatness inside of us, that our life is to be significant. There’s lie that says that as Christians, to aspire to greatness is wrong, and we must be humble and lowly. But could it be said that humility is only a positive trait when we have something to be humble about, where we choose humility instead of pride? Here’s the catch….In our world, it easy to chase after notoriety and fame, but that is about what I do for myself. Significance is about what I do for others. And if our life is living to see God’s Kingdom come and His will to be done, then we just found our significance. God is love and perfect love is when we lay our life down for a friend. It’s when we lose our life to help another. It’s the geniuses of God that life works this way. He knows best. Let’s trust Him. It is only here that we find the abundant life we’re looking for.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Contentment says recieve

“But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called…" 1st Timothy 6:6-12

Contentment is being inwardly happy with what I have currently, not what I hope to have one day. If my life energy is derived in the pursuit of dreams of what might be, then I will live as a fooled man. Life and the joy that follows is found in the present. The future is God’s dominion. I awake in the morning to my Father’s voice calling me out of my darkness to His glorious light. Godliness is pursuing God’s will and feeling His pleasure over me. It sounds like hearing His voice of approval. It is the greatest gift. And this pursuit sees life through the lens of contentment.

Contentment says receive, don’t expect. I entered this world dependent, in desperate need of my parents love and care. I grew up, and the aged-old root of sin whispered to me that I could make a life for myself. The lie was and still is, “I can be sufficient on my own.” THIS is the battle to live as God’s sons and daughters. When I wake up and begin to engage my day, do I live from a place of contentment for what God has already freely given me, secure that my Father gives good gifts to His children, or do I embrace the chaos of striving to save my life? Destruction is the mark of a life lived serving one’s own agenda. The outward appearance might be one of happiness surrounded in riches, but that kind of life is stacked like a house of cards, full of potential to fall hard at the slightest quake.

My foundation is build upon the rock of my Father’s goodness, faith in a Father who loves me unconditionally. My Father’s Kingdom is my pursuit. And my heart burns for my generation to enter into the goodness and peace from His hand.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

blessed are the meek

Last night we all went to the bowling alley. Monday's $1 dollar bowling = packed house. There was only one guy running the whole process, and he was swamped. Somehow in the craziness of signing up our group of 12, only 7 of us unknowingly didn't pay. So half way through our second game, it just stopped working because we reached our limit. We then realized which 4 of us didn't pay, and they went back and paid. Problem solved right? Well, somehow it wasn't, and the manger told us we had to pay for 3 more games to be able to finish our second game.

I passed this info along to everyone, and nobody made sense of it. So Iain and I went back up to the manager to argue with him about this. Let’s just say the argument got a little heated, something about us leaving and never coming back here. I walked away, and Iain stayed still talking to him.

2 minutes later Iain walked up with a grin saying the manager decided to turn the lane back on, something he said was impossible if we didn't pay again. So what happened in that 2 minute time frame?

Well, Iain started to walk away when he started feeling bad for the guy. It was obvious that he was over-worked and really stressed out. Iain walked back, and said he was sorry for being frustrated, and that he understood he was stressed out. The manager then asked to shake his hand, and then spurted out that he would turn the game back on, something that was impossible just a minute ago.

So we finished our game, and as we were walking out, the manager handed Iain two coupon books, EACH with 10 free bowling games in it. That's 20 free bowling games!

I feel like Iain and I both walked away that night learning something. The verse from the beatitudes rang in our ears.
"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."

Now Iain and I didn't exactly feel meek in that moment. Our tempers flared, and we weren't very Christ-like in the moment at all. All it took was a brief acknowledgment of the man's hard night, and his mood completely shifted. When Iain did this, he wasn't trying to sweet talk his way to a free game. All he did was realize that the man was having a hard night. Nothing more. And people can spot genuineness so easily.

Iain said something to me about learning to respond in the opposite spirit to others we come in contact with. The more frustrated people get, the more of an opportunity we have to show grace and mercy to others. It’s the joy of walking as God's sons and daughters, extending His love through our lives. And maybe you'll even get blessed with 20 free games of bowling:)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

morning worship at the Habitation

This morning we lead worship at the Habitation. It was crazy-awesome fun....a highlight was singing about being undignified, and then the whole room going crazy, dancing and shouting. There's something about losing our cares with what people think about us, and just letting the passion inside us well up and come out.

And i learned something this morning....the term "lead worship" sometimes isn't appropriate. Today, the people at the Habitation led worship. Their hunger and passion so moved us, and all we did was put a melody and a rhythm to what was happening in the room. I love that. It’s pretty much what I love most about playing drums…when I look out at everyone’s faces, and just see so much passion, love, and adoration going straight to the Father.
Oh, and on a side note, you should all go to my facebook profile and watch the “dusty road” video from the Square Room concert the other month. This video is just hair-raising, in the best sort of way…God’s presence was so thick that night, and this song just captures so much of what’s in our hearts. I pray that this song will call the God’s wandering sons and daughters back to Him!

and check out - sweet new video from the Bijou concert this past summer.

Back to the studio…time for a night recording session with Andrea Carr and the gang. Good times.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Back in the house

Its 7pm, and they start coming. 55 young people packed into one house sitting cross-legged, cramped but free. The hall-way is lined with worshippers; the kitchen is our overflow room. This is our community worship experience dubbed the “LoveWar.” Tuesday night is a time to experience the beautiful presence of our savior-God, space to hear His voice and encounter His heart. Tuesday night we see the body of Christ assemble in a simple, yet profound way. Almost two years ago, we started meeting in our house (dubbed the Banks house) with a handful of our community. We started a once a month extended worship time called the BURN. This time was a magnet for many of God’s hungry ones, and within months we packed out the house on Friday nights with upwards of 75 people for multiple churches around the city. The BURN is all about vertical worship between us and the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But here’s the amazing thing…when we receive the love from the Father, it draws us together. The joy of being loved by God can’t be contained in vertical worship alone. Community is born.

So we started meeting on Tuesday nights. Worship was infused with community; simply coming together to seek God together, to lift each other up in prayer. It was never about the numbers, but our group of 20 or so soon took off when a few high-school students started coming. I watched the tipping point principle in action, and when one “connector” type person came, many more followed. Our group progressively became more diverse as college students mingled with high school students, even beginning to draw adults to see what was happening. Once we hit 60 or so, we simply just couldn’t fit. So we moved to a large church building. BUT something wasn’t the same. The family vibe was traded with a “meeting” type feel. We’re not into meetings. There are so many meetings, but few true community experiences. So it was back to the Banks house for us.

And that brings us back to last night. Tuesday night we moved back to the Banks house. And with 55 people, there isn’t much room to grow. What are we going to do? Well, I’m not sure. We can envision huge worship nights with hundreds of youth in the city, revival breaking out, bringing refreshing to the weary and love to the outcasts. We would need a big venue for that. But as for now, we’re in the house. And I love it. Last night a sound erupted from our house. It was the gospel in song, pure chorus of praise from our hearts. “Heal me, Oh Lord, and I will be healed. Save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.” (Jer. 17:14) – We’re back in the house. God is our captain, and He steers the ship. Where to next?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"Mr. Expert"

Today I heard something that made my heart drop. Actually, it was wasn’t said. CNN in was blaring in my headphones as I was jogging on a treadmill, and an “expert” in youth education came on discussing why high-school dropout rates are increasing at an alarming rate. The basis on the discussion was if these dropout rates could be decreased, then more youth would enter the work place, adding more growth to the economy. If the adult motivation to help make sure children finish school is so they can contribute the economy, then I would like to say we have a problem. But that wasn’t what really bothered me the most. “What can be done to reduce high-school drop outs?” That was the question posed in the interview. “More support.” That was the experts answer. He went on to name mentors, teachers, after-school programs, anything and everything, all except one word….parents. This expert tipped toed around the word “parents” like it was an evil curse. Nothing was said about family. Nothing was said about how it’s the responsibility of parents to raise their children. Nothing.

Our economy is breaking down, and economists are starting point at the incredible drop of youth entering the workplace. So who’s the blame? School’s get a bad rap. “We need more funding.” “Where are all the mentors? Where’s the money for more after school programs?” Avoidance of the family structure being THE crucial factor in children growing up and succeeding in our society made my heart drop. I was on mile 3 jogging, and this time the usual drone of noise in my headphones was clear as day to me. I heard the educational expert’s words. But I heard these words for what they are…nothing more than a soggy band-aid attempting to cover up the gaping wounds inflicted by the breakdown of marriage and family, the disconnection of love and legacy, the feeble attempt to fix the problem without dealing with the cause. Real love must return to our land. People fall in love. They create life. They protect life. And they live for another generation. Oh, and Mr. Expert, maybe then our economy will recover…