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Intentionality with time, focus and life

 

As I kick off 2012 and launch headlong into another year, I started thinking about projects, goals, writing, work, and where I hope to be by the end of the year.  I want to be able to work on some audio training videos, improve my mixing skills, be more ingenious and creative with how I work with lighting, blog more frequently, be more efficient and intentional with my time at work, bench more at the gym, push up my level of endurance, improve my walk with God and my depth spiritually among many other things.

My list started growing and growing as I kept listing things out that I felt like I needed to do and then looked back through it and felt instantly overwhelmed.  How in the world can I do all this?  Feelings of inadequacy crept in and I started to feel discouraged.

Have you ever felt this way?  I’m sure you have.

I started thinking more about it and I realized that I need to bring more focus and intentionality to my life and goals.  While diversity in what you do isn’t bad in and of itself, you can burn yourself out and feel like you’ve made no progress even though you’ve set goals and listed things out.  Especially for those of us who work in the church, we tend to be multipurpose individuals who strive to serve and do what is needed, filling in the cracks and there is nothing wrong with being willing to serve.  But, we also need to decide what we’re NOT going to do.  Let me explain.

We split ourselves in too many different directions, dabbling in a bunch of different things. Sure, it’s fun but we turn into a “jack of all trades, master of none”.  We’re not intentional with our time and we never fully develop our strongest talents.  If you’re one of those creative types, you know what I’m talking about.  How many times have you put a ton of effort into something and it came out good or simply okay?  Practice makes perfect and you know if you worked at it, you could be great at it.  But then you get distracted by the next project, idea, or inspiration and focus on that.  Once again, it comes out good or simply okay.

We get determined and driven to do something and we stop at nothing to accomplish that.  But, if we focused ourselves on specific goals and talents, wouldn’t we be more productive in the long run?  Have we taken the time to identify what we do best and pursue excellence in those areas?  Sure, it’s great to be a well-educated and well-rounded individual and having variety in your skill set makes you a valuable person.  However, I think especially the creative types tend to go a little too far.  That’s where we need to bring what we do into focus and make sure we’re being intentional.

Do you want to be good at alot of things or great at a few things?

Depend on God, and do what you do well

 

I remember towards the middle of last year, I did an event that really stressed me out.  It wasn’t necessarily bigger then what I had done in the past.  But, it had aspects of it that I had never done before.  I walked down paths that I had never walked down before.  Sure, others had walked down those paths before or else there would not have been a path, but it was my first time.

So many times, we hear people talk about how stress and pressure is a bad thing and that we need to avoid it.  But, there is a positive side to feeling that kind of crunch.  God has not given us a spirit of fear, but He has given us power and a sound mind.  Having the power of God at our backs certainly empowers us and without Him, we can’t really do anything.  All our talents and skills are from God and if He is the force behind what we do as creatives, innovators, and production techs.  It should give us boldness and confidence.  The sound mind is huge here.  No, it’s not an audio engineer joke.  A sound mind is one that thinks clearly and evaluates the pro’s and con’s and makes wise decisions.  It plans things out logically and in the best way possible to get things done.  If you’ve done your job, then you should walk in confidently even in the unknown because you’ve done you’re do-diligence and you’re prepared.

Anything else is an attack of the enemy that wishes to steal that time and opportunity away from you.  I was really stressed out before that event even though I was prepared because Satan knew God was going to do great things and he’ll strike fear into your heart to bring you to a grinding halt.

If you try to do things without planning, then you should be nervous.  Don’t say something failed because God let you down.  He gave you a sound mind…use it!

Press forward, press on and do what God has called you to do.  Do your job well and be prepared.

The God Anthology Live releases TODAY

Today is the day you can download National Community Church’s live CD that was recorded this past August at the Lincoln Theatre in DC.  The God Anthology is available at www.godanthology.com as well as iTunes.  There are samples that you can check out on iTunes by clicking the button below.  I was blessed to be a part of the recording concert and I hope everyone who listens to it is inspirited by the messages and truths that are communicated through the music.  Be sure to rate it and spread the word.  Feel free to retweet my post or share links to the music.  I hope you’re blessed by listening to it!

The God Anthology - National Community Church

Restless Purpose

Lately, I’ve been feeling some kind of restless feeling of wanting to do things better then I have before.  I look back sometimes and I’m amazed and what I’ve been able to do in the short time I have already had on this earth.  I feel very blessed…

I was reading the parable of the talents recently as it was told in Matthew 25:14-30 as well as Luke  19:12-27.  Each person was given gold in bags from their master.  They were given a portion of the master’s greatness and wealth.  In fact, a talent was one of the largest measurements of currency at the time.  So this was a big deal especially because someone’s greatness in the culture of that time was determined largely by their wealth.  Two of the servants went and invested that gold, so that they had something to show for the time they were given before their master returned.  But one of the servants simply went and hid his gold.  Personally, I always think, “what the heck?  Why would you do that?”  It’s kind of like jamming you wallet down in the couch, sitting there all day, not going to work, and expecting to make money.  Not going to happen.  But the two others went out, worked hard and made something happen!

Now, let’s go back.  Way back…to the creation of the world.  God Almighty spoke the world into existence and created everything out of nothing.  But He saved the best for last.  He created man completely different from anything else.  He created man in the image and likeness of Himself and breathed the breath of life into him.

How does this tie in the story of the talents?

Not only has God created us in His image and likeness, He has entrusted us with a gift like the servants received from their master.  We have been given a portion of our Master’s greatness that we must invest during our lifetime.  It’s a process of hard work and dedication to the cause or calling that God has laid out before us.  Maybe it’s a spiritual gift or a practical skill that we use in our occupation.  We must invest it wholeheartedly and responsibly.  That doesn’t mean we will never make a mistake or lose something we’ve gained, but more of a continual process of pressing on and forward to the greatest reward from a faithful investment.

I am certainly earlier on in this process.  God has blessed me abundantly in the time I have lived and I am thankful for the investment He has entrusted me with.  I don’t want to miss out on anything He has planned for me.  Lately though, I’ve been pretty critical of myself in what I am working on as far as my own projects and learning as well as my work for National Community Church.  In my heart, I yearn to continue moving forward and investing in the Kingdom of God.  The hard part is the actual investing.  This uncertainty in how to reach the goals that God has set before me has definitely made me quite restless at times.

However, the master didn’t tell his servants how to invest their money or how to do anything with that money.  He gave them the order, and they needed to figure out what to do in order to meet the end goal.  That is my frustration.  I feel like sometimes, it is really difficult to find the right ways to invest.  I am always looking for new ways to do things and use what God has given me but still I always seem to wonder if I’m doing enough or if I’m trying hard enough.  Am I working on things that matter and make a difference?  Am I pushing too hard on issues that don’t matter as much as I think they do?  What can I be learning in each and every circumstance and where can I go from there?  I’m learning more and more about God each day through the investment He has placed in me and even if I don’t always do everything right, I’ll still try to head the right direction and recklessly pursue the purpose he has place in my heart and in my life.

NCC’s God Anthology Live promo

 

This summer, National Community Church recorded the church’s first live CD at the Lincoln Theater.  I was technical director for the event, created the lighting design, and ran front of house audio.  The CD was tracked by Vanguard Recording and the 16-time Grammy Award winner, Danny Duncan.  It releases on November 22, 2011.  You can pre-order it now at www.godanthology.com.

Click >>God Anthology Promo<< to check out our trailer for the CD!

And a picture of me running FOH for God Anthology Live.  Mixing on an Allen and Heath iLive T112.

An overwhelming feeling of gratitude

 

Have you ever slowed down long enough to step back and see how blessed you are?  Have you ever been continuously left speechless with a feeling of gratitude and awe at the orchestration of God’s great love and provision in your life?  Have you ever been sitting or standing somewhere overwhelmed to the point where all you want to do is listen and not move or even blink because you’re afraid that you’re going to miss something?  God places passions in your heart that are unique as you are.  He also places those passions in others.  Then, He orchestrates paths and creates times where not only does He reveal His sovereignty but He allows you to watch Him knit together a beautiful tapestry of life, passion, creativity, innovation, and purpose.  I spent the last few weeks watching this unfold before my eyes.  Like a symphony blending and movement flowing, I listened to a story of God’s divine orchestration time and time again.  But, what struck me even more then supernatural guidance from the Lord was the humility with which it was communicated.  It was obvious that it wasn’t about them but all about Jesus.  I believe this is an important leadership quality that is frequently overlooked.  We may confuse someone who is forceful for someone who possesses good leadership qualities.  But, I believe the contrary is true.  By exercising humility in your interactions, you may learn more then you would have otherwise.

 

Sometimes, being quiet is the best way to soak something in.  There is a time to squeeze out what you have, but there are times to soak in what is going on, being discussed or communicated because you will have more to offer later.  If you’re constantly trying to squeeze something out to be a part of something, you may miss a chance to soak in and keep something you may wish you had.  For example, if you are surrounded by some of the best creative and innovators in your field, that’s the time to soak it in.  But, it can’t stop there, because you can’t keep it to yourself.  An analogy that really impacted me this week was this: fruit is not meant to be stored or kept.  It is only through continuous growth, harvest, and replanting that actual regeneration happens.  The only way to make a difference is to press forward and use what God has given us to develop His Kingdom.

 

God created the heavens, earth, and everything in it.  We were created in His image; in the image and likeness of the very definition of creativity.  And He said that it was good.  It’s truly amazing even as I cruise at 25,000 feet on my way back to DC.  As those who are following Christ with our whole hearts and lives, we should be the most creative and innovative people on the planet.  Yet, I think so many times we sell ourselves short of who could be and who we truly are in Christ Jesus.  We were given the gift of life, how can we use it and how will we make it count?  We must find innovative and creative ways to communicate the love of Christ to a lost and dying world.  We must continue to find new methods and ways to communicate the gospel.  The day we think we’ve arrived, we have died as a creative innovator.

 

I hope God will continue to open doors and give me opportunities to pursue my passion of audio, production, and technology in the church.  I’m amazed at where I am now and what He has literally dropped in my lap.  I cannot imagine the future and what He is going to do.  And honestly, it’s better that way.  I don’t think I could conceive it.

Fine Print series @ NCC

The past few weeks Pastor Mark has been preaching on “Fine Print” in the Bible.  What fine print?  Well, the more like the passages of scripture that we either skim over or don’t like to read because they make us uncomfortable.  The past few  weeks have talked alot about dying to what you want or what you may think you need in order to give God control of your life.  We tend to gravitate to what we feel like is familiar and comfortable.  This can cause complacency in both your physical life as well as your spiritual life.  It’s almost like we have drawn a circle around ourselves and we stay within that circle.  Stepping out of that circle makes things difficult and scary because we simply don’t know what could happen.  However, in that area of uncertainty and unfamiliarity is where the greatest discoveries and victories of living life are.

When you take that step of faith and make the decision to move forward in faith, that in and of itself is a victory.  But the challenge is that when God does move mightily, it scares you and you move back into that place of familiarity.

Sometimes, we need to take that risk and die to ourselves.

God is relentlessly pursuing us…he wants all of us.  His jealousy is as demanding as the grave.  Yet, many times, when we chose to be complacent and not live our lives to the fullest, we let death and the grave control us.  We are sinful by nature which makes it easy to just sit back and stay silent.  By remaining silent, Satan wins.  We plead and pray for God to take control of our lives and fill our hearts but He won’t do it until we decide to move forward.  Talk is cheap and decision is nothing without action.

All this creates tension.  The Bible says that Jesus is a friend that sticks closer then a brother.  Yet, He is still Almighty God and no one can stand in his presence.

This is huge.

I think many times we simply don’t take our PERSONAL relationship with God seriously enough.  I think so many times we worship God as far off in outer space and somewhat disconnected whether we are willing to admit it or not.  I heard a phrase from a Jesus Culture song this weekend that says: “I don’t want to talk about You like You’re not in the room.  I want to look right at You.  I want to sing right to You.”

Read that phrase a few times and let that sink in.  He is right here.  Right now.  Almighty God is surrounding you and inside of you and is in the very next breath you will take.  His existence holds your life and He knows your next heartbeat.  That kind of power is huge…it’s amazing that he loves us unconditionally.  Thankfully, he sticks closer then a brother.  If this kind of power is for us, then who can be against us?  Maybe we shouldn’t be as afraid to step out in faith if a God who is that powerful has our back.

Photography and Video…diving into a new hobby

Over the past few years, I have been mainly into music and music technology.  I have done some other things too but I haven’t ventured too far out of that circle.  Nothing wrong with that at all.  I really enjoy it and I’ve began my career in that and I still love it.  But, I really want to diversify.

I’ve always been intrigued by video and photography.  I’m fascinated with capturing the moment whether it be just a snapshot, or a series of snapshots.  I want to stretch myself to think more artistically when looking at things and capturing ideas.  I was interested in graphic design but I struggle with creating something out of nothing really.  I must admit, the concept of a blank, white image on a computer screen is really quite amazing.  You can create anything you want out of that…but at the same time, it’s very intimidating.  I’m hoping that through photography and video, I can begin to grow and learn more not just in media, concepts, technology and communication, but maybe even in who I am.  I firmly believe that God can speak to you through anything, at anytime.  He is the master creator and hopefully by trying to dive deeper into this kind of hobby, I can learn more about who God is and what he is doing in the world today.

For me, the start of something that interests me means I go crazy wild in researching, reading and talking to other people until I can reach my goals and then if all goes successfully, I set more goals and the whole process starts over again.

So, I’m blogging about it because hopefully there are people out there who are WAY more talented then I who would have some great ideas on where to start, resources, and stuff that would be beneficial to me.  I’ve done some research but I really need to step it up.

Anything is welcomed…concepts, ideas, information, different facets of these topics….whatever.  I’m down…let’s see where this goes…

“All In” – Giving of yourself

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I’ve talked alot about National Community Church’s “All In” sermon series and different ways God has impressed that topic on my heart.

It’s been an intense past few weeks, but National Community Church launched their 7th location this past weekend.  It’s located at what used to be People’s Church at 535 8th Street SE.  I talked alot about what a miracle this new location was in my previous post “All In and moving forward”.

We’ve talked about miracle offerings and going all in with our finances, but sometimes the truest and most incredible acts of going all in are the ones that go completely unnoticed by the masses.  I witnessed that this past week.

I’m sure that moving a church that has been planted in one place for almost 50 years is not only physically difficult but emotionally difficult.  The memories of what God has done in and through the people who sat in those seats and led the church is enough to impact the heart of any believer.  If those seats and walls could talk, imagine the stores that they would tell!!

As Matt (NCC’s Digital Pastor) and I worked on building the trussing that would hold our stage backdrop and projection screen, there were various volunteers who were helping the People’s Church move out of the building.  First, they came in a started talking to us about the transition.  You could sense a spirit of excitement in the members of both churches.

As Matt and I continued to work, the members of People’s Church were not only an encouragement but also a blessing as they began helping us with the work we were trying to accomplish.  Our ministry and our goals became theirs and in a beautiful example of servanthood and selflessness, they worked along side of us giving of themselves.  We were not two churches…it wasn’t a building changing hands in ownership…it was a group of brothers in Christ working to further the Kingdom of God.  They sacrificed their time, talents and energy to help National Community Church launch our Barracks Row location.  Even the senior pastor who is now 71 years old, tirelessly gave of himself as we were building the production rig for our first service.

Sometimes, we draw lines between one church and another or one denomination and another.  Legalism can be a disease that takes hold of believers and takes their focus off what is truly important and what are goal ultimately is.  Yes, conviction and standards are important and I’m not trying to down play that in anyway.  But we all serve one God and have one ultimate purpose.  Jesus commanded us to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Ultimately, we are all building the Kingdom of God and working to bring the lost to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  The People’s Church’s volunteers and staff painted a beautiful picture of what it is to be one “family” in Christ and to work as one body to work towards that ultimate goal.

Their example was life-changing to me and I feel the most humbling gratitude towards them.  I am so thankful for how God has been working in me and in National Community Church and now I also rejoice in his provision and blessing on The People’s Church and they move to PG County.  I am sure they will be used mightily in God’s service.

Going all in – “If I lost it all, would my hands stay lifted?”

I’m really thankful right now because I feel like I’m living in a time of blessing and abundance in my life right now.  I have a great job where I get to do what I love and God is blessing National Community Church like crazy.  We keep talking about what it looks like to go “All In”.

I was reading Job the other day which is kind of weird considering that I am in a time of blessing but I felt like God was calling my attention to it.

Job was a good dude.  Good to the point that even God was bragging about how good Job was to Satan!  That in and of itself is kind of nuts.  Wouldn’t you be happy if you knew God was bragging about you? God blessed his socks off for serving faithfully.  God placed protection around him and gave him all kinds of stuff.  Satan basically said to God that Job was only serving God because of the good stuff God had done for him.  Satan wanted God to allow him to make Job suffer to show God that he was right.  So, God allowed it and Satan caused terrible things to happen to Job.  Basically, Job had servant after servant come running in saying that his possessions were all gone and then worse, his family was killed.  Talk about a bad day!

Job shaved his head and tore his robe.  But what is significant here is what happens next.  The Bible says that Job fell to the ground and worshipped God. This guy was blessed beyond his wildest dreams and in one screwed up day, it was all gone.  Then, God allowed Satan to inflict pain and suffering on Job’s body.  The suffering that was inflicted upon Job was so bad that when his buddies came around, they didn’t even recognize him!  They stayed with him but said nothing for seven days and then basically told him he should curse God and die.  Even his wife just told him to curse God and die.  But, Job remained faithful.  He stuck with it and believed that God had a purpose in all of this.  Job worshipped God for who He was, not for what God had done.

This basic concept is something that has been rolling around in my head for the past 3 or 4 weeks.  It all kind of came together for me this afternoon when I heard a song called “I’m Still Yours” by Kutless.  It just talks about still worshipping God through a broken heart and through the bad times.

When God does great things, we can and should celebrate it!  God wants us to celebrate it and proclaim what He has done and thank Him for it.  But, we must remain careful that we are not worshipping the miracle. If God were to take that miracle away, would you stop praising Him and would you get frustrated with God?

Let worship and adoration come from who God is and all of His fullness.

Let celebration come from what God does and for his blessings.

Kutless – I’m Still Yours

If You washed away my vanity
If You took away my words
If all my world was swept away
Would You be enough for me?
Would my beating heart still sing?

If I lost it all
Would my hands stay lifted
To the God who gives and takes away

If You take it all
This life You’ve given
Still my heart will sing to You

When my life is not what I expected
The plans I made have failed
When there’s nothing left to steal me away
Will You be enough for me?
Will my broken heart still sing?

If I lost it all
Would my hands stay lifted
To the God who gives
And takes away

If You take it all
This life You’ve given
Still my heart
Will sing to You

Even if You take it all away
You’ll never let me go
Take it all away
But I still know

That I’m Yours
I’m still Yours

Oh, I’m Yours
I’m still Yours
I’m still Yours

 

Check out my other “Going All In” blog posts:

Going All In and Moving Forward

Going All In and God’s Provision

National Community Church – All Church Celebration

Thoughts About Going All In

National Community Church – Leadership Retreat

Here goes EVERYTHING

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