Today is a special day of remembrance for the church. Palm Sunday. Called Palm Sunday because the people laid down branches in Jerusalem as Jesus entered the city the people, spread out their coats and palm branches as he was coming in humbly on a donkey. For most of the crowd they could not even imagine the pain and suffering that Jesus was going to go through at the end of the week, many of those who laid down their coats and who laid down palm branches, would later that week ask for a murderer to be released and to have Jesus crucified. Palm Sunday reminds me that Jesus will come and reign again and it reminds of the pain that he endured for my sake and for the sake of everyone else, so that we might have a personal relationship with God the Father.
Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples 2 and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” 4 And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. 5 And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. 7 And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. 8 And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. 9 And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” Mark 11:1-10 (ESV)
Embrace Jesus this week and remember what He has gone through to redeem and rescue us.
everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve
Being in the church world is a very interesting and at times funny thing. Lately across my Facebook feed, I have seen many of my friends linking articles that have to do with worship styles. Most of those articles have one agenda that they are pushing, which is a return to traditional hymns and to drop most of modern worship songs that are popular. example Hillsong United and Jesus Culture, here is one such article. The main argument that they use is that worship should not be entertainment, that the lyrics are espousing bad theology. Everyone has a right to their own opinion here is mine.
I go to a church that uses songs that they write along with a mix of Christ Tomlin, Hillsong, Jesus Culture. The music is amazing, the singers and musicians are world-class. They have a heart for worship and it is truly an incredible worship experience. I always connect with the worship and it prepares my heart for the message. This is coming from an Southern-baptist raised, conservative fellow. I love modern worship music, it helps me to draw closer to God. I like the lights and the loudness. I know it is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I believe that many people can have a real worship experience with modern worship music, and even God’s word says to sing to the Lord a new song. Psalms 96:1, is one example. I respect tradition and the hymns, but when the church started singing hymns they themselves were popular bar tunes just with different lyrics. I am not saying that churches shouldn’t sing hymns, but using modern worship in a church service is not a bad thing because one worship style does not fit all. I am so glad that God has gifted worship bands like Hillsong, Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, Phil Wickham, Jesus Culture and many others, with a heart to write new songs praising God in a way that reaches the younger generation.
Contentment what is it? What does it look like do I have it? These are some questions that I have been wrestling with recently. This is a interesting season in my life, I am in between the job I want and the job I have which I am grateful for. It is not easy being content when you are still pursuing your passion and you want it so bad that you cannot stop thinking about it.
When there are what seems to be insurmountable roadblocks that you have to get through to even sniff your passion, it can be quite hard to be content. I am not where I want to be right now, but I can still be content in all that Christ has done for me and all that He has blessed me with like a job, my beautiful wife, my amazing family and my amazing friends. A great church that is so friendly and on fire for Jesus that it is a blast to be a part of. Even though I am not where I want to be yet, my contentment is found in Jesus and not my career or my finances.
This week I have started reading the book of Isaiah. I have just read chapter one so far. What stood out to me was how relatable it is to 2015. It talks about the Israelites turning away from God and following their own passions, and lustful desires, turning their back on everything that God had done for them. I think it is so easy to get distracted in our relationship with God, we have to work, and we have friends, for some of us we are married. We get busy and we ignore and forget about our relationship with God. We don’t spend time praying, we don’t spend time reading the Bible. We lose fellowship with him because we get so caught up in our own worlds. We often spend more time love ourselves then loving and cultivating our relationship with God. I wish I could say that I have never lost my love for God that He is always at the forefront of my thoughts and actions but that is not the case. I am so glad that God is gracious to us and He understands that we need help that we cannot do this on our own. Make God my biggest passion is something that I have to do daily. I must commit with my whole heart. The way that works best for me (there are many different ways that works for others), is I wake up and I just start thanking God for giving me another day, thanking Him for my wife, my job, and everything that He has given me and I pray that I can keep him in the center of my day, that my thoughts and actions reflect Him and I keep my eyes on Him throughout the day. The days that I start off like that, I feel way more connected to God then the days that I don’t do that. I am excited to see what else I learn from the book of Isaiah.
What keeps you connected to God?
Dreams are a good thing. They make us look forward, instead of behind. They make us work hard if it is a dream that we are truly passionate about. God has placed a dream on my heart and I am going to share it here.
One of the biggest dreams that God has given me has been to a church planter/lead pastor. It has been a dream that God showed me during the middle of a church planting seminar that my church at time signed up for by “mistake.” Ever since then I have been continuing to follow that path and I am so excited for when God is going to open that door. It hasn’t happened yet, but I know that everything that I have experienced and will experience up until that time is preparing me for that season. God has been teaching me so much lately. I have felt so free in the last few weeks. I know that God is shaping me up for great things. It is cool when you come to a place knowing that you are dependent on God. This has been a huge season of dependence for me, especially after my job loss. God has been blessing my wife and I, in many ways through this season though things have been hard, my faith has been made very strong. It is truly amazing how God can turn pain into blessings. I am excited to pursue my dreams and i know that these are not just my dreams these are dreams that God has given me of planting many churches that honor Him and training men and women to lead others to Christ. It is big vision, but those are the kinds of visions and dreams that God gives people. Huge dreams that cannot be completed without His help. This is one of those dreams and I am really looking forward to see how God brings everything to completion.
What are your dreams?
Now that I am back to blogging I am going to do my Music Monday again. I love music, it speaks to me. Music is such a big part of my life. I am a musician and I listen to music all the time. I have been going through a rough patch over the last couple of months. When I am going through a hard time, I turn to music that will help me through whatever I am going to. During this time I have turned to one of my old favorites: Stavesacre, they’re a Christian rock band from the 90’s. If you watched making of the band on Abc, which gave us that wonderfully awful boy band O-town, then you might have heard their music played in the background. The song that I am going to share is called Gold and Silver, it is off of their album Speakeasy. The lyrics describe going through a hard time and being broken over the pain. The song also speaks of God being there to carry us through the difficult times. Here are the lyrics
You slipped from my arms, I knew you had to go
Such a heavy heart, who could hope to hold
And I know where you’re going, and that’s the hardest part
No matter where tonight ends, you won’t escape your broken heart
Stay a while
Helpless for the words, and it tightens up the air
It’s not what you deserve, it’s not for lack of care
Inside of me is screaming out, I’m praying for my prayers
Distracting and unworthy of each and every burning tear
Do I see God in all of this, maybe all along
It’s just that we’re so small, and simply not as strong
Strong like wings of silver, and feathers made of gold
To carry heavy hearts, to cover all our helpless souls
To cover all of us
Under wings of Gold and Silver sometimes we have to hide
For shelter from this bitter winter at least tonight
If it were mine to give I’d give you your own time
Turn it back or forward whatever you decide
Stay a while
Here is the music video.
What songs do you listen to when you are going through a hard time?
A blank space, nothing written yet. Nothing has happened yet. A year ahead with nothing done yet, nothing missed yet, no mistakes or missteps yet. A year ahead without any history, what history will I write in 2015. What will I do? It is one of the widest open years for me in recent history. This last year I lost my job, which is quite a long story in and of itself. On my current job search, I have put no barriers, meaning that nothing is off the table. A relocation can happen and I actually would not mind if it did. I have lived in California for my whole life and while I really enjoy California. I am ok with starting somewhere new with my wife.
I have planted many roots here in California and I am ready to plant new roots in a new city if that is what God wants us to do. It is going to be exciting, a little scary, a little nerve wrecking to see where God leads us but I am ready for the adventure. I am ready to shed off my old 2014 skin and wear my new 2015 skin. 2015. Hope, freedom, love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, gentleness, peace, is what I want to bring into 2015. I know God is going to do big things in 2015 for Sarah and myself. It will be a year of challenges and changes, yet I look forward to it. Leave the past bitterness of 2014 behind along with the good times that I experienced this year. Though I was broken, frayed, pushed to my outer limits of sanity in 2014. I am thankful for the lessons I learned, the love I felt, the friends and my loving wife and family who stood by my side.
I have a blank space, a clean page and a year that is full of possibilities. I am excited for 2015.