Stinking Thinking

running-the-race2

I like going on runs.  Long runs.  I bring my phone to track myself by using one of those running apps.  Sometimes I listen to an album or to the radio.  And sometimes I like to leave the ear buds at home so I can pray and listen.  Today was one of those pray and listen runs.  I’m so glad!  God showed me something today I’ve been trying to figure out for years.  When I experience hurt, disappointment, rejection; any kind of emotional pain, I like to withdraw and fill my head with thoughts.  I let my mind race with scenarios of what might happen if I have another run in with “so and so.”  I dwell on how much I’ve been hurt and how “so and so” is so wrong and I’m so right.  I have repeated imaginary conversations where I finally put “so and so” in their place.  All this thinking…to do one thing…comfort myself.  But the comfort is fleeting and never truly delivers what it promises.  What I really need to do is take those thoughts captive (stop the stinking thinking) and instead start turning to the God of all comfort.  Lord, help me to stop all this useless self-thinking and direct my attention to You as my true comfort.  Remind me how much I’ve been forgiven so that I may extend forgiveness.  Teach me how to comfort to others with the very comfort You have given me.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen

 

Thoughts on NWLC KS 2013 – Pt. 1

Having just returned from the National Worship Leader Worship in Leawood, KS., I am going to collect some of my thoughts and share them with you here.  If you attended or plan to attend one of the other NWLC gatherings around the country this year, share your experiences in the comments section at the bottom of this post.

The folks at Worship Leader Magazine never fail to put on a first-rate conference.  Even though this was my 5th consecutive conference, I still find new and interesting workshops that help equip me for ministry.  I’m blown away at how many of the speakers and clinicians spoke directly into what’s happening in my life and ministry.  For example, my church is going through a lead pastor transition so the first workshop I put on my schedule focused on the relationship between the lead pastor and worship leader.  My take-aways from that workshop were many and I feel ready to put my best foot forward when I meet our new pastor.

I continually find the conference in touch with what’s happening in local church ministry.  For example, I’ve written a couple of posts here about a pressure that I believe exists to take things to the “next level.”  (Check out Down To The Next Level – Part 1 and Part 2)  People from your church attend a worship concert on Friday night, complete with all the lights, haze, projectors, and sound system and then want you to produce the same experience on Sunday morning!  Let me be clear – I am all for the worship concert.  It’s a good thing and I love to go them.  Yet, it’s clear they’ve affected the way we do modern church.  In fact, so much so, that this was addressed at NWLC 13 by several general session speakers and clinicians.  And just yesterday I came across a tweet from @weareworship sharing an article from Paul Baloche describing this very issue as a “challenge facing us all.”

Author Ian Morgan Cron offered a workshop called “You Are What You Eat” – How a modern, non-liturgical church can unleash the trans-formative power of the Lord’s Supper in weekly worship.  He used this video to get the conversation started:

I loved his definition of what a worship leader does.  Have you been tempted to (as Ian put it) grab God and bring Him down so everyone in this space can have a seismic experience?  (Me: busted!)  Do you resonate with his observation that we (the church) have gotten into a situation where we have to keep amping it up?  

Pastor Steve Berger spoke to us passionately at one of our general sessions about the “Spirit” part of worshiping in Spirit and truth from John 4. One main theme in his message was that worshiping in the Spirit is a supernatural thing.  In Rev. 1:10 John was in the Spirit and heard/saw/experienced supernatural things.  Pastor Berger cautioned us that when we try to create the supernatural on our own (through effects, lighting, etc.) we diminish the real supernatural in our midst.  He said, “Let’s not substitute natural things for our supernatural God.”  

I’ll stop here for now and share more at a later time.  I really would love to hear from you whether you attended NWLC 13 or not.  Please share your thoughts below.  Thanks! -Pat

When Music Matters

I just got home from my church staff meeting.  I’ve served this church as a worship director for 10 years now.  As a staff, we’ve been through a lot together.  Today’s meeting was a time of sharing, planning, encouragement, laughter, and some tears.  I feel blessed and invigorated.  Arriving home afterwards, I sat down with some lunch and answered emails.  I came across a “caringbridge” notification for a dear friend that’s been fighting mantle cell lymphoma cancer for 5 years.  His wife has faithfully shared their journey since day one, and it’s such an amazing story!  (She really should gather up all the journal entries and publish a book!)  I felt compelled to share today’s entry because it serves as a reminder to me (and all who serve in any music ministry) of how God can use us.  The Gospel message we’ve been entrusted to deliver can always be counted on to bring Hope when and wherever it’s needed most.  I’m humbled and grateful that I get to do what I do and that I serve alongside so many wonderful people at my church.  Ministers of music  – where ever you are across this world – be encouraged that your faithfulness in music ministry matters!

Pat

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More Birthdays

Written by my friend, Rollie Brandt.

The campaign for The American Cancer Society lately is to focus on celebrating “more birthdays!”  It’s a great thought isn’t it? Since we started down this cancer journey in June of 2008, (when daughter Heidi set up this CaringBridge Site), we HAVE celebrated more birthdays!  I can’t resist calling out tomorrow!  … the 5th BIRTHDAY Phil’s been blessed with since this all began!  FIVE more birthdays!  Right now Phil’s in remission, yet life isn’t what he’d like it to be. The drugs have taken a toll, especially Prednisone. We hold on to HOPE however, that over the next several months as it’s very slowly tapered, Phil can return to more of his “old self” and gain back strength. It’s really difficult for any of us to really understand what he feels like. Once in a while he’s encouraged by a conversation with someone who HAS been on the dreaded Prednisone who really “gets it.”  One friend at work told me it’s kind of like having MS, the way your muscles feel…  So he just keeps putting one foot in front of the other, like he has for 5 years.

I’m just happy Phil’s here to celebrate ANOTHER birthday tomorrow!

This has been a real learning experiences along the way to say the least, facing many fears while being helped and loved by so many people; growing in so many ways, including our Faith in God. I take a lot of comfort from spiritually inspiring songs I listen to regularly.  Take some time to click on the links for these 2 songs…

The song Long Way Home by Steven Curtis Chapman reminds us “even on the best days, He says to remember we’re not home yet, so don’t get too comfortable ’cause really all we are is just pilgrims passing through.”

From the song Blessings –  “what if your blessings come through rain drops, what if your healing comes through tears, what if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near. What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise.”