Live The Difference

Ok, there's this one thing called conviction. And there's this other thing called condemnation.

One is good. One is bad. I'll give you 2 guesses and the first 1 don't count.

Although, they start with the same letter, they are nothing alike.

Conviction is this God-given mechanism inside of us that helps to correct the out of tune strings of our heart. Pardon my musical analogy but I think it's fitting. Conviction does not tell us we're worthless. Nor does it back us up into a corner. Conviction shows us the way out.

Condemnation is a dirty word. I don't like it honestly. It keeps us down. It blinds our future. It's that credit card with mounting interest that will never let you get ahead of your debt. Condemnation is never healthy and never from God.

The Bible says in Romans 8:1, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." There you have it. Condemnation is not Christ's deal. It's just not his thing.

It's a scary thought to be "condemned" and yet I'm realizing that I embody that burden in my daily life. I allow the guilt and shame of my past to cloud my vision instead of allowing God's loving conviction to lift my head.

There's a HUGE difference here. Live the difference.

Best|Favorite|Both

So I have this theory on friendship and the occupying roles therein.

It's possible that at any given time in your life, you'll have 2 types of friends.

Best friends and favorite friends.

Here's the difference: the true working definition of a best friend is the person in your life that is best for you. The person who lifts you up, encourages you, calls you to accountability even when it's uncomfortable - we need people like this in our lives.

Your favorite friends often look a whole lot like best friends but usually occupy the cliche archetypal BFF sidekick role. Basically, if a picture were to be taken of you, this person would either be posing next to you or somewhere in the background.

Now obviously it is very possible for one person to occupy both of these roles in your life and that's the ultimate goal.

This isn't everyone's story. I've only come to this conclusion from picking some knuckleheads as friends in the past and it has sparked my curiosity to find the culprit.

It's great to have a partner in crime, but that's just it. Sometimes I think we have to take a good look around us and examine our environment of friends. Do the people around you do a thing for your spiritual well-being or are they just a shallow good time?

Tough question - but to those who strive for integrity, purpose and continuing success, a must-answer.

He Said Dare Me

In Malachi 3:8-12 it reads as such,

8 "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' "In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe (10%) into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, (He basically just said, "Dare me!") "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty. 12 "Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says the LORD Almighty." (NIV)

Times are tough.

And that's the understatement of this era, I know.

But that doesn't compromise the potency or even the truth of God's promise.

Put away your jaded thinking toward the following cliche for a minute and affirm the fact that everything you have is a gift from God. So isn't it only fair to give back?

It sounds like a great deal to me: God gives 100% and I give 10%.

Consider it paying it forward; giving out of your blessing. We'd be lying dramatically if any of us could deny the blessings we reap every day.

Breathing? Yeah, me too, we're blessed.

I'm certainly not telling anyone what to do. But I am telling everyone what I'm going to do.

Unplugged

Here's a little montage of our unplugged worship set yesterday at the Connection Point. Other than a sore throat and some pitch problems (what else is new) I thought it went well.

God definitely came through in a big way despite the rain and location change.

Check it out.

My Dad Always Said

Be a man of your word.

If you say you're going to do something, do it.

If you say you're going to be somewhere, be there; be there early.

If you promise someone the world, you better see to it that the world is neatly packaged at their door step within the agreed shipping time-line.

Always under-promise and over-deliver.

It's alright to say no.

Think before you say yes.

Carve your own path.

Don't ride on the success of others.





...and don't fart at the dinner table or I'll smack you.

Debut

So this Sunday our church is meeting in different location due to conflicting schedules with our usual facility.

A group of us went in early tonight and set up the sound equipment, chairs, the works.

Rick, our sound tech and myself, music director, decided to stay a little later than everyone else to make absolutely sure that the sound would be flawless despite our variable environment.

When the acoustics change, the sound changes.

Here are the results of our completely serious efforts and finely tuned ears, enjoy.




...and I'm joking.

I'm An Idiot

I hardly even remember recording this, but nonetheless I found a ridiculous 3 year-old cell-phone video of myself documenting an intense trip into "the wild."

Laugh at me:

video

I See Pride; I See Power

Leadership takes pride.

Not arrogance but pride.

I would use the word confidence if it conveyed my point with justice; it doesn't. Pride is gritty. Pride is animated. It's full of color and it stretches a mile in either direction of where you're standing right now.

Pride in what you do. Pride in who you've been created to be. Pride in where God has appointed you to lead.

In both the physical environment as well as the technical area. Be proud to shoulder such privilege.

One of my favorite movies of all time is Cool Runnings, the heart-gripping story of Jamaica's first bob-sled team.

In arguably one of the movies most infamous scenes two of the main characters, Yul and Junior, are having a dispute concerning Junior's sudden conviction to obey his controlling father's orders to leave the team. Staring at themselves in the mirror, Yul grabs Junior and makes him recite this mantra:

"I see pride, I see power, I see a bad mother who don't take no crap off'a nobody!"

Again and again they repeat this declaration until finally Junior wells up with fierce pride, storms down stairs, and informs his father of his decision to stay and commit to leadership.

Pride, baby. Pride in who you are, what you do, where you've come from and how you can lead those behind you.

Leadership takes pride.

I Know I Don't Know

Ever arrive at one of those daunting moments in your life when you realize just how little you know?

Sometimes I feel like I need a brown paper bag to breathe into.

It just hit me like a ton of bricks - what an intimidating feeling. And yet, somehow in the same anxious breath, I'm reassured that I'll be alright.

Less of me, more of God. Less probability for my error, more opportunity to see God thrive.

I suppose the more you know that you don't know much, the less you act like you know more than you really do...follow me?

Ultimately, knowing the pythagorean theory inside and out or having the answer to world poverty would be great - but I'd rather just know God and His love so that I can replicate the model to everyone I come in contact with.

Nothing Related Sketch.

I'm gonna try something new here. A new format for when I'm juggling way too many thoughts all at once and can't pinpoint what I wanna discuss:

I hereby welcome you to....NOTHING RELATEDTM


1. I'm gonna clean out my car in just a minute. If you know me well enough to understand what that entails, you'd get on your knees and pray for my safety the second you were done reading this.

2. I'm hoping my new song goes well tomorrow. I always have this anxiety feeling when I unveil a piece of my intellect and creative nature to an unsuspecting audience. Then again, my CP family loves me and I love 'em back.

3. I need to brush my teeth.

4. My brain wants to work out; my muscles hate my brain.

5. I'm constantly tormented between all these investments I want to make: Gretch Catalina Mod drum kit, a Canon PowerShot SX1 IS, 50's hollow body Fender telecaster, 6-color t-shirt screen-printer, a robot girlfriend...

That's all for the first installment of NRTM, thank you for reading along, bless your heart.

Time To Breathe

I've taken a bit of a hiatus from my blog this week but I'm slowly returning.

It's not because of laziness or lack of content, it's really just because I've been so overly enveloped in creating that some specific areas of my life, primarily music and art, have lured me away from others.

It's really crazy how many songs and graphic pieces have been born in just this last week. There's nothing I love more than exploring my creativity and confronting inspiration until it yields fruit.

This is undoubtedly God's design and I am thankful.

God I thank you for today. I look forward to tomorrow. I thank you that my life is directed by your divine forethought and not my narrow vision.

Thank you for grace in my life. I'm utterly helpless without it.

Thank you for birthing so many passions and dreams in my heart. It's a circus in there but I know you will see them all to fruition when the time is right.

And thanks for a great family and meaningful friends. I really lack nothing.

Amen.

Alas...

Meet Fredrik Strand Halland. He's 12. I'm 22. He's the reason why I quit playing guitar today...whatever, talk to my hand little kid.

Today's Prayer

God, make me pliable.

Grant me the wisdom to know when I'm wrong and to have humility when I'm right.

May I never be so zealous in my convictions that I disregard tact.

That's all for now.

Amen (Let It Be So).

Forget The Popular Noise

Context is everything. Good Lord, it is the foundation upon which all understanding lies.

It's finally hitting me that as a Church plant, we can read all the manuals and listen to all the mega-church jedi's about what worked for them but the bottom line is this: who cares.

Honestly, their story is never gonna be our story.

Advice is great. Counsel is awesome. Insight is neato. But nothing is more effective than the very voice of God breathing through the vision-caster and leader of your church, nothing.

If you want to be unique, you need to listen to the unique voice of God in your life. Forget the popular noise.

The Process

Can you even put a face on who or what inspires you?

*If you're not being inspired then you have probably made yourself unavailable to the process of influence itself.

We know influence can be good. Can't we thank the divine inspiration of God using multiple vessels to give us the greatest book ever written?

As my pastor related this last week, it's about "submitting yourself to the process." And the process in this context is being available to be inspired. Inspiration defined is an outside stimulus, such as a person or work of art, that moves the intellect or emotions or prompts action or invention.

Translation: As creative beings, we are predominantly so through osmosis.

We glean know-how and innovation from other know-how-ers and innovators.

Raise your hand if you know someone suffering from creative inertia because of an unwillingness to be inspired. Of course the process can be risky but didn't Mama tell you nothing comes free and easy in this world?

Thought-provoking. Sensory-stimulating. Dream-encouraging. Go find everything and anyone that remotely fits the 3 aforementioned adjectives and be friends with it/him/her now.

Mr. Lopez, Wake Up Mr. Lopez


I really enjoy daydreaming. It's one of my favorite and most frequent hobbies in life.

I don't mean staring off into space and thinking about non-sense.

I mean really dreaming - vision-casting for my life, following every trail of passion, losing myself in the boundless opportunity God has waiting for me.

It's seriously fun.

I earnestly try to write everything down or record it for the sake of reference. I want to make this stuff happen, I don't want to leave it as a dream.

A famous pair of lab mice described what I'm feeling best...

Pinky: "What are we going to do tomorrow night, Brain?
Brain: The same thing we do every night, Pinky: try and take over the world!"

MVP's

I gotta be honest; I thought tonight's band rehearsal would be a complete wreck.

1. Our usual drum kit was left in storage so we busted out our back-up drum kit. The thing seriously makes me laugh out loud; missing legs, sliding bass drum, 1 sad ill-tuned tom, no bueno. Keith, our drummer, totally made the best of it - they sounded great.

2. Rei, our lead guitarist, left work only to find a dead car in the parking lot. Long story short: my Dad drove all the way from Bradenton to pick him up and then take him to practice. That's devotion.

3. Dave, our bass player, works strenuously all week and fought through the parking lot known as the "Howard Franklin Bridge" for who knows how long to finally arrive with a great attitude to serve.

4. Someone forgot my mic stand (probably me) so with the help of some ingenious minds, I was able to rig up a stand using a slightly-too-short PVC pipe, some colored rubber bands, and a hand truck - haha, I wish I was joking.

5. To add to the stress list, I wrote a new song that I wanted to spear-head for execution this Sunday and I just didn't know if we could pull it off. Rick, our sound tech, was the voice of encouragement all night.

I'm proud to say that we melted each others faces off with one of the best rehearsal performances to date. Keith, Dave, Rei, Rick: I love you guys, so proud to serve with you. Sunday here we come!

Growing Pains

I have growing pains.

Not the kind you usually think of. It's more the opposite.

The growing pains I suffer from are the kind that come from wishing you were growing faster and wider than you are ready for or God for that matter is prepared to allow.

One of Rick Warren's famous mantras states that "God is more concerned with our character than our comfort."

I realized the multi-faceted truth of this statement today when God let it occur to me that maybe I'm not at rock-star status because maybe God knows me well enough to know that maybe I'd screw it up and just maybe He's more focused on welding my integrity together at every vulnerable seam and also, maybe I'm not God?

Psalms

Psalms 37:4 says, "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart." (NIV)

The word delight means great joy or to find pleasure in. It's as if God is saying, 'stick with me kid and I'll take you places you've never imagined.' The desires of my heart include the realized and unrealized dreams. The things I've verbalized and even the stuff that hasn't come to mind yet.

Verse 5 goes like this. "Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:" (NIV)

Commit your way: commit your lifestyle, your character; the way you roll. Make all of that God's and He will make your ministry and even your life look and become irresistible to others.

Verse 6 continues, "He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun." (NIV)

Righteousness and Justice are usually public perspectives. If you live righteously, chances are people know it. In our judicial system, justice is reached by numerous people. They are corporate experiences. So if the public perception of your life or ministry shines like the noonday sun (the most brilliant, beaming time for sunlight in the day) I'd say your set for exponential growth on either side.

Toward The Goal

Tonight I experienced God in an intimate way.

I decided to go running for honestly the first time in years - literally. I have never been a fan of running. I've always complained that as a skinny kid it just makes me more skinny.

But tonight was different.

The air was frigid and my joints weren't nearly prepared for such a traverse. Nonetheless, I took off in the direction that seemed most well-lit and tried to focus my breathing.

As I continued to push my body to its limit something in my mind shifted. It was as if these dormant goals and dreams in my life began to materialize before me. I blame it on the adrenaline. I picked up my pace.

I wasn't just running anymore. I was chasing.

I pictured Jesus on the horizon. With no particular route in mind, I just couldn't bring myself to look behind me. Cheesy-ness accepted, I'm telling you I ran like my life depended on it. I began to pray out loud. I began to verbally revisit promises that only God and I had made with one another.

Pain and fatigue were blurred at this point; stopping wouldn't have even helped.

As I neared my house I was reminded of the scripture Philippians 3:13. It reads, "...Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal..."

What an amazing declaration.

Almost 5 accidental miles later I learned first hand the joy of this perseverance. If it means that I'm the crazy guy yelling at the air while cars whiz by, I'll never give up. I'll never quit on this. I will press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Amen.

God & Submarines


Loose lips sink ships. Can't that be a good thing?

Submarines are built to withstand large amounts of aquatic pressure as well as a certain extent of artillery blast. Sailors take refuge within their hulls for months or even years at a time to withstand the obvious killer surge of high-pressure ocean water.

Military Submarines are nearly always equipped with some form of weaponry for defense. Bottom line, they are prepared to do whatever it takes to keep the water out.

Sound familiar spiritually speaking?

Ever find yourself subconsciously doing whatever you can to keep the conviction of God's presence out of sight and mind. Lately, I've been realizing that I put up this same safe guard in times where the penetrating presence of God is most concentrated or high-pressured if you will.

I've sat in worship services with a submarine mentality: nothing in, nothing out

It’s as if I expect God’s boundless glory to be confined to the comfortable dimensions of my humanity.

God's presence is piercing; once the outer exterior is compromised it's a flood. Let's go for it.