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

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?

T-Mobile mytouch 4G Powerskin case

Anyone who has owned an Android smartphone or knows an Android smartphone user, knows that they are not the greatest when it comes to battery life and power usage.  Android phones can use alot of data and power particularly if background sync is enabled.  Alot of times, I tell people who have issues with battery life that they may consider disabling some of their sync functions until they actually open the app or set the phone to sync certain apps less regularly.

Well, what happens when you’ve done that and you still have battery issues?  What if you use your phone alot because of work or you are simply an intense phone user?  Carrying around a charger gets old and almost defeats the purpose of having a smartphone.

This is the issue that I wound up having with my HTC Mytouch 4G shortly after I got it.  I use my phone alot for work especially when I am away from my computer.  I’m also new to the Washington DC area so I haven’t quite found my way around yet and need a little assistance from my GPS in my phone.  That’s pretty power intensive because it uses the GPS chip, the data network, the screen, the speaker also used for speaker phone as well as consistently using the CPU.  And of course, my car has a broken lighter so a car charger is out of the question for the time being.

So, I purchased a Powerskin made by XPal.  It is a rubber case with an extra battery built into the back of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basically, you take the case and put your phone in it connecting the phone to it by a small USB cable inside of the case.  That USB cable feeds the phone power while it is connected which charges the phone until the battery in the case is exhausted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the back of the case, it also has lights that indicate how much battery life is left in the case itself.  You can see the indicator by pressing the battery button on the back which activates the indicator.  Below is a picture of the case fully charged with four blue lights illuminated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been really impressed by the performance of the case.  It has seriously extended my battery life.  I have had it for the past few weeks and one day, I got up at 6:45am and grabbed my phone out of the charger then.  I used the GPS in it for probably about 3 hours that day as well as texting quite a bit and making phone calls.  The powerskin died sometime around 2 or 3 PM and the phone switched to its internal battery for the rest of the day.  I finally got back to my condo at about 10PM and still had about 25% internal battery life remaining.  That’s pretty impressive in my opinion.

The only downside for me is that it makes my phone pretty heavy.  I certainly wish it was a little lighter but I guess that’s the trade off.  There have been times that I have left my case to charge and taken the phone out of it and when the case was fully charged and ready, I’d put the phone back in the case and it would charge the internal battery of my phone while using it.  Here are a few pictures of my phone with and without the case so you can get an idea of how much thicker the phone with the case is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While the phone is plugged into the case, the case charges the phone.  In the picture below, it displays the power charge LED on the mytouch because the phone is running off of the power from the battery in the case.

I’m pretty happy with the case over all.  If you check out amazon, you can get the case for about $40.  It’s not a bad deal.

If you have a mytouch are are struggling to get more usage and battery life out of it, the XPal Powerskin might be the solution for you.  Check it out!

Questions?  Comments?  Feel free to comment below or email me at jason@jasoncastellente.com.

When the production leader steps into the worship leader’s shoes

This past Sunday, I lead worship at National Community Church’s Potomac Yard and Gala locations.  I was given the opportunity to do that because one of our staff worship leaders and campus pastors were sick.  As a result, I was given the opportunity to jump in a lead worship for a Sunday AM service as well as Sunday PM service and two different worship teams.

It was a great opportunity, but it was also a weird flip-flop of roles and responsibility.  I am on staff at National Community Church as the Production Coordinator and I oversee production at all six locations and I’m always the guy standing in the back of the room with the production crew.  Usually, I am only on stage when something is broken or not working!

My degree is in Music Performance from Valley Forge Christian College but about half way through my degree, I took a detour and went down a different path and started getting more and more into production.

It was a great thing for me because I was able to get perspective from the other side of the mic and better assess issues that need to be worked on or improved in the technical aspect of our services.  Also, there are things that I can tighten up with coordination of making sure technical gear is where it needs to be and is functioning properly.

It also takes the things I say to another level.  For example, as a production tech, I would ask the worship leader and worship team to trust the production crew and trust that what they were doing was for their benefit.  Now, as the worship leader behind the mic, I had to trust that my production guys were doing the right thing.  That was not a time for me to try to coach them through production, it was a time for me to firmly put my trust in them and back them on their decisions and their methods for making everything happen.  If I had decided to coach the production crew through everything while still in the worship leader role, I would have been sending a bad vibe for how a worship leader should treat the production crew.  While everyone does need to work together, there is a level of trust that needs to happen.  So, this was my time to practice what I had been preaching.

Our job every Sunday morning, whether it is on the production team or the worship team is to create beautiful music and also an atmosphere of worship.  As a worship leader, I felt like it was helpful to the production team to ask them for suggestions in what I could do differently.  Sometimes, it can be awkward for a production tech to ask the worship leader to do something different publicly because he is afraid that maybe his request isn’t important enough or isn’t a big enough deal.  Opening that door of communication on both sides is a great way to help improve both the production team as well as the worship team and the relationships between each other.

So, for you church media guys out there, I guess my point with this whole post, is practice what you preach.  Don’t say anything you can’t back up.  If you want to make the rules a certain way, then you are going to have to play by those same rules too if the tables get turned.

Potomac Yard Location:

Behringer reinvents the Aviom – The New Behringer P16 Personal Monitor System

Check out my website at www.jasoncastellente.com.

Well, maybe not quite.  But Behringer has been in the business of taking successful items from other manufacturers and making something very similar to it at a much lower price tag.  Behringer has also been trying to bump up their quality.  In fact, now so long ago, “The Music Group” which is the company that owns Behringer (CEO is Uli Behringer) purchased Midas and Klark Technik.  That was a huge deal because Midas and Klark Technik are two highly respected companies in the audio industry and…well…Behringer, not so much.

Just recently, Behringer announced their new lines of products for 2011 and it included a new version of their “Powerplay” series.  Up until now, the model powerplay had been associated with a knock around headphone amp used for budget studios or ones that were on a tight budget and were only used as a quick reference headphone amp because they introduced so much noise into the signal.  Now, it is a personal in ear monitor mixing system similar to what Aviom introduced years ago.

First, lets compare how they look:

Aviom A-16II

 

 

 

 

 

 

Behringer P-16


 

 

 

 

There is a striking resemblance isn’t there?  Very similar to what Behringer has done in the past with their pedals, mixers and amplifiers that has resulted in numerous lawsuits.  I’m not saying that there will be a lawsuit over this, but I certainly wouldn’t be surprised.

Let’s compare the two interfaces.  They have very similar buttons on the bottom that are used to select the channels and they even have two lights on them probably one for selection and one to indicate if the channel is muted or not.  In some videos I have seen, the button lights potentially may blink with signal being sent to them but I don’t see any solid documentation of that anywhere.

Behringer’s setup buttons are the first thing on the top left while Aviom’s are closer to the actual buttons.  Behringer does have the option to link buttons together in the case of things like stereo inputs that are patched into two mono inputs and two P-16 buttons. Although, both units feature groups which to me seems like it will do the same thing as linking them on Behringer’s model.  Maybe it has a different function that we don’t yet know about.

I am intrigued by the fact that Behringer has included not only a mid EQ control but also a sweepable frequency control to go with it.  Amateur musicians may not understand exactly how that works but I think you can figure it out once you play with it.  That flex room in the middle of the tonal range of the mix is pretty key in my opinion.  It is an option that has been lacking on the Avioms for years and I think it’s a great addition to personal monitor mix set up.

Next up, the Behringer P-16 features a Limiter control that the Aviom A-16 does not.  Whether this is useful or not depends on what it actually does and what it actually controls.  If it is simply a hard limiter, then it is basically worthless because it will basically do the same thing as if you were to just turn the volume down.  But, I would assume it works more like a compressor and the “limiter” control is effectively a compressor threshold which is tied to a preset internal ratio, attack, and release setting.  This could potentially be helpful or a hinderance depending on how it works.  The only way I could be sure of something like that is if I tried it myself.

The second row of controls for the most part mirrors the Aviom controls with solo, mute, pan and channel volume controls.

Now, for the most important part that everyone is probably wondering about: price point.  The Behringer P-16 has yet to be released to the American market yet so there are no definite prices but there were list prices announced at NAMM that I’ll use here.

Aviom AN-16/i Input module List price: $1285

Behringer P-16i Input module List price: $199

Aviom A-16D A-Net Distribution Hub List Price: $505

Behringer Powerplay 16 Distribution Hub P16-D List Price: $149

Aviom A-16II List Price: $675

Behringer P-16 List Price $249

So, if you have a worship band, what are the two price comparisons here.  Let’s figure it out.  First, before you read this, I decided to use the list prices for both since the official street prices of the Behringer series has not be released for the US.  If I do a list price comparison, that will at least be a fair comparison.

If you want a whole Aviom system with 8 monitor mixes, you are looking at spending $7,190 LIST.  With the Behringer setup, you are looking at spending $2390 LIST.

Okay, so what does this mean for the end user.  Well, especially for church media, it will be very interesting to see how many churches decide to make the jump to the Behringer Powerplay system because of price point.  Avioms can be pricey for some churches and I’ve talked to alot of churches who would love it, but simply can’t afford it.  If this system works well, then maybe that is their ticket into personal monitor mixing.

But, the downside is that Behringer gear is notorious for not being dependable and for introducing noise into signal chains.  So, if that is a major issue, then maybe it won’t be worth it.  Although, considering that the list price of an Aviom system is 3 times more then the Behringer, I’d certainly say, its worth a shot.  We’ll see how well they work when they are released to the American market.

Check out some of my other reviews:

Presonus StudioLive 24.4.2 Digital Mixing Console

Audio Technica AT4080 Active Ribbon Mic

Audio Technica ATM650 Dynamic Mic

One of my articles featured on www.musicgearreview.com

Questions?  Comments?  Feel free to make YOUR voice heard.  Comment below or email me at jason@jasoncastellente.com.

My new website

Just thought I’d let all my blog subscribers know that my new website is up and running.  Check it out!  Let me know what you think…

www.jasoncastellente.com

National Community Church – All Church Celebration

Last night, National Community Church held their All Church Celebration in the Lincoln Theater in Washington, DC.  It was a great time of joining a church that meets in 6 different locations, during 9 different service times, all together as one body and one church.

As for the tech sides of things, we used Big Sky Audio who we rented the audio system from.  Performance systems provided the screen for us and we ran our typical Mac mini video set up through the Lincoln Theater house projection system.

Our audio system consisted of a Midas Venice at the FOH with Avioms for onstage IEM mixing.  The mains were 2 Meyer Sound MSL-4’s per side with 2 Meyer Sound 650-P’s on each side as well.  The EQ was a Klark Technic DN370 which had some of the sweetest EQ filters I’ve ever hear.  Unfortunately, I figured out very quickly that the sound company had underestimated the amount of sub power that we needed for the theater so we were out of luck there.  There was no way the subs could keep up with the low frequency content of my mix.

Overall, the main reason that we do what we do is to communicate the gospel and to draw the church together in unity and in love for one another.  This event was also intended to get our whole congregation up to speed on everything that God has been doing with NCC over the past year or so and where the church as a whole is going.

One thing that Pastor Mark said that really grabbed me was something along the lines of this: “God doesn’t call us to things that we are ready to do. He calls us to things that require us to fall on our knees in raw dependence of Him.”  It’s a basic statement that all of us know, but need to seriously learn how to live out in our every day lives.  Something else that Pastor Mark mentioned this past weekend that our frustration spiritually comes from the rhythm of our spiritual lives.  We have daily rhythms that we do such as waking up, brushing our teeth, taking a shower and things of that nature.  But, most of us believers are frustrated spiritually because we have a weekly rhythm instead of a daily rhythm.  In order to live a live dedicated to God and following his ways, we need to always make sure we focus on getting the basic things right before we try to build on it to go higher or farther into our spiritual journey.

Anyway, that’s what impacted me spiritually last night.

I just want to throw up some pictures that I took with my mytouch so everyone could can get an idea of what we did last night.

Folgers 2011 Jingle

So, as I’m sitting here relaxing a little before I go to the gym tonight, I’m sipping a cup of coffee.  I love coffee and I’ve blogged about it before but it just so happens that two things I love are combined.

Music has always been a passion of mine and I love creativity in music.

Anyway, a worship leader at National Community Church, Kurtis Parks, and his sister Bethany Parks are entering a Folgers coffee jingle contest.  They dreamed up their own jingle and put their creative spin on it.  Dave Schmidgall, one of the NCC campus pastors took it to the next level by filming a music video which they have submitted to Folgers as their contest entry.  It was filmed after the service at one of NCC’s locations; the Gala Hispanic Theatre.

You can check it out on YouTube here:

I have been able to mix for both Kurtis and Bethany at various NCC and Ebenezer’s Coffeehouse events.  They are both super talented and I’m looking forward to seeing what music they release in the near future.

Bethany is currently working on a new studio release.

Kurtis will be leading worship on a live worship CD that NCC will be recording in September.

In the next few days, I will be writing a review of Kurtis Parks latest CD “Light Will Shine”

So, check out the video and check back for more later.

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