Archive - Life RSS Feed

Writer’s block

So, I’ve been writing this on this blog about all kinds of stuff since November 2010.  A lot has happened since then so I have been able to write about things like that.  Also, I write about technology and social media which really interests me alot.  But for some reason lately, I have not been writing on here as much as I was before.  I’m not sure why but it’s not coming as naturally as it was.

For some reason too, I have just been convicted more about making moments count.  What can I do to maximize my time that I spend working, or on my computer, or resting and downtime, or…whatever else God puts in my path.  Bottom line here, is everything I do counting for something greater in the way that it should?

I see some areas that I need to work on with time management and organizational skills that will help me perform better as a person and better as a worker.  But still, there’s got to be a way to even maximize that…

Call this ramblings, call this being confused…  But its part of moving forward and going “all in”.  It’s what I’m called to do and it’s what I’m created to do.  Let’s make it happen.

All In and moving forward

Wow, this was a whirlwind weekend.  Actually, it was a whirlwind week topped off with a whirlwind weekend.

First and foremost, every day that I wake up, I realized that I am truly blessed beyond measure to be where I am now.  The faithfulness and love of God is overwhelming in my life.  He took so many of my dreams and interests and rolled them all into what was called the newly created “Production Coordinator” position at National Community Church.  And then, just because he is God, he plant me at a church that is a coffee shop and anyone who knows me, knows that I love coffee way more then any normal human being should.

I am continually amazed at God’s faithfulness in my life.  I am also amazed at how he continually acts in miraculous ways in National Community Church and this past week was no exception.

This past week, we experience what Pastor Mark is aptly calling a “double miracle”.  I can’t tell the story as well as Pastor Mark did so I would highly recommend that if anyone has an extra 45 minutes in the next week, that you check out the video of the sermon that Pastor Mark preached this past weekend at Ebenezer’s at http://theaterchurch.com/media/video/caleb.

Basically, NCC is launching their SEVENTH location on Palm Sunday at an old theater that used to be owned by People’s Church down on Barracks Row in SE Washington DC.  Check out the google maps street view here.

God has done such an amazing miracle because by buying this property, not only does it allow NCC to continue to grow and increases our presence on Capitol Hill and gives us and even more strategic position in the marketplace, but we also re-invested in the Kingdom of God by financially enabling another church to re-plant themselves in a more strategic position to reach others for Jesus Christ.  People’s Church purchased a building in PG County Maryland where they will be building and replanting their church which used to meet on Barracks Row.  The pastor of People’s Church is 71.  He could have easily decided to ride it out where the church was planted, but instead, he had the courage to step out and decide that he would answer the call of God and replant their church.  What an amazing testimony!

Like I said, Pastor Mark tells the story much better then I do, so feel free to check out the sermon video from the past weekend or his blog post at http://www.evotional.com/2011/03/double-miracle_27.html.

All In and God’s provision

Last night at the Gala Theater, Pastor Mark continued National Community Church’s “All In” series.  He was talking about God’s provision and how he provides for us when we need it.  Pastor Mark talked about Abraham and how God asked him to sacrifice his son Isaac as an offering to God.  Abraham didn’t understand why God was asking that but Abraham was willing to do it anyway.  I’m sure Abraham was scared out of his mind as he took his son that morning.  How could he explain what was happening to Isaac?  How did it feel to walk up the hill thinking about how he would walk back down alone?  The Bible talks about how he bound Isaac and placed him on the alter to the Lord.  Abraham then raised his knife above his head to kill his son.

Stop right there.  This is huge.

It takes so much faith and trust in God to get that far!  Abraham had prayed for years for a son and was very old at this point.  His wife was past childbearing years and it took miracle for Isaac to be born.  Don’t you think that was hard for Abraham to have faith then?  God had promised Abraham a son that would be the father of many nations.  He had waited so long and God had provided.  I’m sure it was confusing when God asked him to offer his son as a burnt sacrifice.  That would mean the son that God had promised would be dead.  How could Abraham’s descendants turn into a great nation if his one and only son was dead?

I’m sure all of that was running through Abraham’s head as his hand was stretched above his head preparing to kill Isaac his only son.  But in spite of everything, Abraham was willing to do WHATEVER God commanded him to do.  No matter what.  No matter how insane the situation might be, he was willing.

God intervened and stopped Abraham from harming Isaac and provided another offering in place of Isaac.

Why did God wait until the knife was above Abraham’s head?  In less then a second, Abraham would have fatally wounded his one and only son.

Quite simply, God doesn’t provide until we need it.  He doesn’t promise a comfortable life or an easy way out.  If that was the case, we wouldn’t have to pray! He wants us to ask and to call upon His name.  He wants us to cry out in faith that He will hear us.  It builds our trust in God.

We have to take the first step.  So many times, we stand there and say, “Okay God, you promised great things.  Let me set it and I’ll move forward.”  We ask for that sign from God, when instead, we should be trusting and moving forward.  God won’t provide until we move.  If we just stand there, why does He need to do anything?  But, when we make that decision to move forward, God will move with us and make the way for us.  He’ll make a path for us just like he did for the Israelites at the Red Sea.  He’ll make a path just as he did when the Israelites were walking forward towards Jehrico.

Think about that story.  When the Israelites were walking forward towards Jehrico, the arc being carried by 4 men went first.  God promised to get them across the river.  It’s hard to take that first step.  Can you imagine what it was like to be that first guy in line?  Someone had to put their foot in the water first.  No one likes to be humiliated.  What happens if one dude puts his foot in the water and his shoes get wet because the water doesn’t part?  Stinks right?  But, it had to be done.  He took the first step forward, and the water parted.  God could have parted the water and then told them to go, but instead he made them move forward first.  Crazy right?

What about my life?  What about your life?  What areas is God telling you to move forward but you are afraid to “get your shoes wet”?  Where do you need to build more faith?  How can you trust God more?

Is this what you really want your life to be?

Today is one of my off days.  It is certainly welcomed because for some reason, I have been dragging a little bit.  It’s been nice just to sit here with a cup of coffee and hang out a little.  Yes, there are still things to do today, but I’m trying not to focus on that.

Something that I have been trying to do lately is to look at what is around me through the eyes of the Holy Spirit and try to see things through a spiritual point of view.  To almost just look around, and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to me through everyday things.

Right now, I’m sitting at a class table in the living room of my condo.  My landlord usually uses this table to hold his newspapers that he seems to never keep up on reading.  Somedays, he sits here and tries to go through them and catch up.  He cuts out the things that are significant to him.  Those pieces of paper tell stories…things that have happened…things to be remembered.

What has God written on the pages of your life?  What has happened to you and what are some of the things that you want to remember?  Once things are done or printed, there is no taking it back.  While you are drafting the story or writing the story, you can still hit the delete or backspace.  But once you make a conscious decision to do something, or hit print, you can’t push those words back into the printer.  You cannot remove the words from the page.   It’s done.

I have been thinking alot about crossroads and new chapters and things like that at this point in my life because that is where I am at.  I don’t know where you are but you might be at a place like that right now.  It is the next chapter or soon to be the next chapter.  What do you do?  What words to you say or write?  What are you supposed to do?

There is a point of difference in your life where you’ve got to make a decision and a point where you’ve got to take a stand.  There is a time where thinking is great but it’s time to do something.  God directs those who seek Him but He can’t do anything with someone who is sitting down and not going anywhere.  You have to be in motion in order for Him to direct you.  You have to move forward and let Him guide your steps.

I have no idea what the significance of this post is.  It is slightly random a little unfocused but it is simply what God is placing on my heart today.  So, for those of you reading this, I hope God speaks to you in some way through this and I hope it rings true in your heart today.

Feel free to comment or email me at jason@jasoncastellente.com

So what are we doing here anyway?

The last few years, I have been working alot in production specifically in churches and other Christian venues where the goal is to bring glory and honor to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  It is both a joy and a challenge.  The joy comes from knowing that because you decided to step out and give of yourself as literally an offering of worship, that other people will hear the message of Christ’s love and understand more about his love and saving power.  The sound tech is helping to communicate the audible message, the lighting tech is helping to create a visual ambience of worship in a given setting or room and also has the power to highlight or mask stage activity, and the projection/video tech helps to communicate through a graphical, lyrical, and through a very visual medium.  A tech team at a church is just that, A TEAM!!  That means, without one of those members, things don’t flow or move as planned.  The main three parts of a production team coming together, and working together, helps to create a great atmosphere of worship when things are planned out and worked out right.

One important factor that I would like to stress is that each member of that team should be prepared and should understand their roll.  Now, by saying that, am I saying that everyone should be spot on and never make a mistake?  No!  Certainly not…I would just expect someone who is working in that kind of a vital position, understand what they are doing and know how to serve in their position effectively.

Preparation is a two-fold topic when it comes to working in a worship setting.  Preparation includes a certain level of efficiency and technical understanding of their role in production, but it also includes being spiritually prepared.  I’m sure we would want the speaker or worship leader to be prepared technically in their message or music as well as in their relationship spiritual with the Lord but shouldn’t that go for the technical staff as well?  We, as the technical staff, are in full control of the medium through which the message of God is being communicated through.  Shouldn’t we have prepared ourselves and our hearts through time with God and through the reading of His word and prayer before we step into our roles?  Yes, most of us have a timeline to work with for production or a run sheet of what is going to happen, but ultimately, God is still running and headlining “the show” and if he decides to come in and mess up your run sheet, then you, as a production tech, should be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit along with the speaker or worship leader, and be technically proficient enough to react to whatever comes.  That’s not something that occurs too often in secular production, but in a church, you need to be ready for it if it happens!  But, ultimately, the cool thing is that God will work in spite of us if He needs to.  Quite honestly, I would rather have Him work through me and in me.  It doesn’t matter how technically prepared you are if you lack spiritual preparation.  It will trip you up more then you realize.

Second to spiritual preparation, is technical preparation.  Checking to make sure you know what the order is before service, line checking and sound checking your worship team and speaker mics and BATTERIES, knowing when your lighting cues should be and making sure it’s thought out beforehand, checking lyrics for misspellings and continuity, and making sure cues are in order.  Missing cues or parts of a run sheet are not an “unforgivable sin” but they still can be a distraction to worship and to what the Holy Spirit may be doing in someone’s heart.  I certainly do  not want to be that distraction…but like I said earlier, God will work whether we do all the right things or not.  That’s what so great about serving God!

Anyway, I’m sure I’ll come back to this topic or a similar topic in the near future.  It’s time to go to bed so that I’m ready and prepared for the morning….Sunday morning.  A sacred time to worship our Savior, God, Creator and King of all.  God bless you as you worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.

Reflections?  Thoughts?  Comments?  Feel free to make your voice heard by commenting below or emailing me at jason@jasoncastellente.com

Oh the fun with Google Voice!! Tips, tricks, and hints for getting the most out of Google Voice

I have been using Google Voice for the past couple of years since I got an invite and did not really start using it heavily until more recently.  I remember when I got the invite.  It was still a somewhat primitive service but I could tell that it was powerful.  I knew that since Google had gotten their hands on it, it was going to be developed and actually become something great.  It was a pretty limited service at that point and you needed to either be invited, or bribe a friend to send you an invite.  Well, those days are over because now you can sign up for Google Voice simply by going to www.google.com/voice and it will link up your google ID (used for any other google services) with your new Google voice account or prompt you to sign up for a new account.

You can do alot with Google voice including free text messaging over data, voicemail transcription and management and many other things.

Google Voice service is pretty great in and of itself, but there are a TON of tricks and things that I have found that I could do with Google Voice to make my current cell phone service and other online services better.  While I won’t list all of the possibilities I have found, I will list a few that have seriously piqued my interest and may benefit others.

One thing I would recommend is looking at your cell phone carrier’s plans and see what is available.  Many carriers have some type of myfaves, a-list, or friends and family plan that gives you the option of selecting certain phone numbers each month which, once selected, your carrier gives you unlimited minutes on that number as long as it is on that list.  What you can do is add your Google Voice number to that list of numbers though which you can do unlimited calling and BOOM you now have unlimited minutes for the price of a lesser plan.  It will also be difficult for any of those carriers to track exactly which numbers are Google Voice numbers and which are legit numbers since Google Voice numbers are pretty uniquely chosen when you sign up.  For example, I use my basic (now discontinued) T-Mobile myfaves 300 plan which gives you 300 minutes per month plus 5 unlimited number slots for $39.99 per month and I use my Google Voice number in one of those slots.  Right now, I have an iPhone 3G running the old Cydia jailbroken app to make calls and send text messages.  Soon, I will be getting some type of Google Android phone giving me much tighter integration.  Check to see what YOUR carrier offers.  You may be able to “upgrade” to a better plan with those 5 unlimited calling slots without breaking contract.  No promises there…but check it out and see what you can do.

Another cool service is from Sipgate. This is a VOIP service (Voice Over Internet Protocol) that allows you to use SIP phones (similar to the ones that Vonage uses) along with their software.  They have different tiers of service, but their basic service, Sipgate One is free.  When you sign up for Sipgate, you get a free phone number and voicemail among other things like the ability to fax, free internal calls (free sipgate to sipgate calls….basically mobile-to-mobile minutes), call recording, call distribution, conference calling, three-way calling, forwarding, advanced routing, and more.  You can integrate this service along with a sipgate iPhone app, softphone, or SIP phone.  One word of warning is that you do have to pay for OUTGOING calls but when you use it with Google Voice, you should never, technically, have to make outgoing calls.

Here’s what you can do with Sipgate: you make the number that Sipgate gives you one of the numbers that your Google Voice rings to.  That way, all calls that come in on there are incoming.  If you want to make an outgoing call, do not dial with the sipgate phone app or SIP phone, but instead, dial with the Google Voice app on your cell phone or use the Google Voice app at www.google.com/voice or the widget built into the Chrome browser.

If you don’t feel like going through all that jazz with Sipgate and you still want to make calls on your computer, you can simply use the Google Talk app that is built into Gmail, or you can set your Skype number to be your Google Voice number .  You can do that step by step:

1. go to skype.com
2. log in
3. click on Caller ID tab all the way to the left
4. click “Change number” and enter your GV number
5. wait for the txt message to arrive at you GV number
6. take the confirmation code in the txt message and enter it on the Skype website

You should be in business!!  Anyway, that’s a few different tips that I have for getting the most out of your cell phone service as well as Google Voice.  If you like this kind of information, then let me know by commenting, facebooking me, twittering me, or emailing me at jason@jasoncastellente.com.  Feel free to re-post the link to my blog on your facebook or retweet it on Twitter.

Thoughts about “Going All In”

Many of your may have read the blog post I wrote two days ago about National Community Church’s leadership retreat.  I tend to be contemplative after an event is over or past.  I think over the things that happened in production and also in what was preached, said, done, or communicated.  The theme talked about going “all in”.  It encouraged the leadership of the church and volunteer leadership to commit to what God had called them to do in the church.  NCC has grown in leaps and bounds in the past few years.  The focus that the pastors wanted to create was one that communicated a specific purpose and direction for the church that may have been lost in the rapid growth and expansion of the church.  It can be hard to feel a sense of ownership or a sense of familiarity in something that is always changing.  The rapid growth and new ministries and opportunities cannot be fully realized or developed if there are not committed and willing volunteers to back those ministries.  The leadership retreat served as a time of fellowship, encouragement, teaching, empowerment, and vision.  God has been doing some great things at NCC and has been richly blessing their faithfulness.

God has really been impressing on my heart how following Him cannot be a casual thing.  It can’t be something that I do one day and then do less of the next day.  I think of how in Revelation 3, the Lord speaks through John saying that He would rather have the church be hot or cold rather then lukewarm.  Otherwise, being lukewarm makes God so sick that he would rather spit you out!  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be spit out by God!  I want God to tell me “well done good and faithful servant” at the end of my time on earth when I see Him face to face.

This may seem like a very basic thought and concept, but it is very important.

On the way home to PA yesterday, I was listening to the new Stellar Kart CD today and the song “Everything Is Different Now” caught my ear.  It talked about getting pulled into what God has for you and what He is doing in your life.  It talks about getting “caught up in your gravity”.  That phrase kind of hit me.  Caught up in your gravity…that is a phrase that is jam packed with stuff.  It implies a “leap of faith”.  It is also something you are drawn to.  It requires a decision that is irreversible and something that you cannot turn back from.  Once you jump into what God has and what He is calling you too, there is simply no turning back; you take that step…that jump… and you start falling further and further into what God has for you and living your life completely devoted to him.

Most of you know my degree is in music.  It has always been a part of me and has always been a way that I communicate beyond just words.  Music creates more of an emotional connection for a human being.  I just want to quote some lyrics from “Everything Is Different Now”.  These lyrics sum up what I’m feeling in my heart for my Lord and Savior right now.

It’s beautiful
How you surround me
Pull me in
And don’t let go
I am yours til the end
I am caught in your gravity
I’m not going back
To the way that it used to be
A sad sad song
That was yesterday

(CHORUS)
Everything is different now
You’re the love
I’ve finally found
Everything is different now
Because of you

Stellar Kart – Everything Is Different Now

Listen here: http://www.myspace.com/stellarkart/music/songs/everything-is-different-now-65392748

Thoughts?  Reflections of your own?  Comment, or email me jason@jasoncastellente.com

Equipped Podcast guest

Many of you who know me, know of my passion for audio and teaching audio.  You all probably know that I really have a burden on my heart for technology in the church and clearly communicating the love and the message of Jesus Christ through technology.  In December, I had the opportunity to speak on a podcast called Equipped which is actually now available on iTunes.  You can check it out here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/equipped-e01-websites/id398466957

Let me know what you think!!  Comment or email me at jason@jasoncastellente.com

NCC Leadership Retreat Preparation

So, I’m two days into my work at NCC.  Everyone is working super hard in preparation for the leadership retreat NCC is doing this Friday and Saturday.  It is going to be at the Potomac Park Camp and the tech crew is loading up and heading out tomorrow (Thursday) morning.  I am looking forward to being involved in my first event with NCC and I can’t wait to hear the pastors of the church preach and teach for their leaders.  I’m sure there is much to learn and I can’t wait to hear their wisdom and knowledge.  I’m looking forward as well to working with new tech and production people.  Time to get some sleep.  It will be alot of work, but also alot of fun for me.

Comments are welcome or email me at jason@jasoncastellente.com.

Here goes EVERYTHING

This weekend was my last weekend mixing for Chosen 2010.  We were at the second weekend of Penndel Winter Retreats at the Philip Bongiorno Conference Center.  It was a weekend of memories for me.  Memories of Penndel events from the past, people including students I have met and talked with, leaders I have learned from, and media nerds I have been blessed to work with, and great times of music, teaching, worship, and seeking God with everything and through everything.

This weekend, the Youth Alive missionary for Penndel, Jason Lamer, told a story that impacted me.  His story went something like this…  There was a man who got on a plane.  He sat back and thought about where he was going and anticipated where he was going.  Or at least, where he thought it was going.  During the flight, the voice of the pilot came over the loudspeakers saying that the engine of the plane was on fire and that all the passengers of the plane would need to put on their parachutes and prepare to jump in order to save their lives.  The man on the plane was afraid and upset and as he prepared for what he had to do in order to survive, thoughts were running through his head.  He was thinking, “this is not what I had planned”, “this is not what I wanted”, “why does this have to happen?”, “this isn’t my destination”.  And as he stood on the brink of jumping, he took a deep breath and said, “Here goes nothing!”.

On that same plane was another man…another man who was eager and excited simply to be on the plane.  He was prepared for anything and was willing to go wherever.  He wasn’t afraid.  Sure, he had a destination in mind but he wasn’t hesitant to change direction if he was called to.  When the voice of the pilot came over the loudspeaker explaining that the engine of the plane was on fire and that everyone would have to put on their parachutes and prepare to jump, he leapt into action.  He grabbed his parachute and was first in line.  Thoughts were running through his head too, but they were quite different then the other man.  This man knew that this is not what he had planned but he was willing to change and do what was necessary.  No, it was not what he wanted, but it was what had to be done because he was commanded to do it.  I am sure he did not understand why it had to happen, but instead of being afraid of stepping forward and taking that jump, he was excited by it.  No, it was certainly not his destination, but he was thrilled that he was going to jump in spite of circumstances that may have not seemed ideal but ultimately, was the best thing to do.  And without hesitation, that man with the wind blowing in his face, leap out of the plain and shouted, “Here…goes…EVERYTHING!!”

The first man was more concerned about where he was going, then the ride along the way.  He was caught up in his own plans and life and what he was going to do rather then an experience that could change his life forever.  It certainly may not have been what he wanted, but it was necessary for him at that moment in time.  It was necessary for him to jump.  It wasn’t all for nothing; it was all for everything.

Sometimes, God changes the course of our lives when we least expect it.  He creates a path for us and points us towards it and then all of the sudden, there is a cliff.  A lot of times, when we see that cliff, we think that God has forgotten us, or he has abandoned us, or he doesn’t care about us anymore.  But, that is just the contrary.  He has NOT forgotten us!  He has NOT abandoned us!  He cares very deeply for us!  He has placed that in our lives so that by faith, we will jump.  He has placed that in our lives so that we can experience a fullness, a fulfillment, and an excitement that we have maybe never felt before.

This just really impacted me deeply and I have been thinking about it all weekend and I am still thinking through it.  My life is at a point like that now.  I am getting ready to jump into something that I have never really done before but I am looking forward to doing.  It’s a step forward that I am super nervous about taking, but it is also a major step forward.  Someone once said that to risk nothing in life is to not live.  I want my life to be worth living.  I want my life to count for something greater then myself.  I want my life to be a building block in the Kingdom of God.  I want my Savior and my God, to be proud of me and how I have invest what He has blessed me with.  I am so incredibly grateful for my salvation and for life.  May the things that I do, may they all be an offering back to the God to saved me and gave me life.

 

“May the word of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” – Psalm 19:14

 

Page 3 of 4«1234»

Switch to our mobile site