Tag Archives: ministry

Saturday Night's Alright

I’m so excited. 

Our base chapel started a Saturday evening service, which works well for lazy old feeble folks like me that want that slow Sunday morning. 

And they have a choir director who has been filling in playing keys but doesn’t particularly want to do that.

They also have this poor, unattended grand piano.

And I have a wife who plays violin…

So last week, I stepped up to say “You know who’s got two thumbs and plays some good piano? This guy.”

It’s a small, intimate service, but it’s contemporary and the music is pretty much everything I enjoy.

I know I shouldn’t pick a church based on what I like / what suits me. But I’m not going to complain at the chance to serve and contribute something missing to this small part of the Body of Christ.

Off for now, it’s time to jam!

Detour Ahead

This is the fifth and (probably) final “God Leads” devotional I’m posting, based on my experiences as a young Christian serving in the military.


The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps. (Proverbs 16:9, NASB)

A wallet in the middle of the street caught my eye.
I came to Bellevue, Nebraska for a two-week training course. Bored on my off-time, I looked for a nearby mall. I didn’t find any good stores, but I found the wallet two blocks from my hotel.
“Maybe there’s money in it,” I thought. “No, that’s wrong. I can return it to the person and witness to them.”
I opened the wallet to search for identification. The top card said, “Pastor, Assemblies of God,” the denomination of my church back home.
“So much for witnessing,” I chuckled.
I reached Pastor Petey. He took me out to dinner to thank me. He also picked me up for church on Sunday since I didn’t have a car. The service was great.
Nine years later, I came back to Nebraska for another course I did not want to attend. Unsure if I’d be there six weeks or six months, I remembered the church from when I found the pastor’s wallet, and visited again. I got connected with the young adult ministry and played keys for their services. From my first visit, I saw their genuine interest and love for me. I returned home six weeks later.
Two years passed. During yet another undesired training course, I returned to the church. The senior pastor remembered most of my life story and family details, which blew my mind. The young adult service plugged me right back in, a home away from home.
When my family finally moved to Nebraska two years ago, we talked about churches.
“Don’t worry, honey,” I said. “I know a place we can go.”

Application: God uses unexpected, unwanted turns of life to take us to the best destinations.

Answered Before I Asked

This is the fourth “God Leads” devotional I’m posting, based on my experiences as a young Christian man serving in the military.


Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. (Isaiah 65:24, NIV)

I smoked in the church parking lot during their Christmas party. I expected criticism. But a lady stepped outside and chatted with me instead.
“What kind of church is this?”
I grew up attending weekly services and knew how Christians behaved. But I walked away once I joined the military. Sunday morning was for sleeping in.
I tried the base Chapel a couple times during my training. In Texas, I made some friends at a small evening service. A military spouse opened her home for Airmen to hang out.
Also, the pianist was hot.
But once I got to Japan, I stopped attending church again.
God didn’t stop pursuing me.
I got a call from a missionary inviting me to the Christmas party. I said, “Why are you calling me?”
“You were in Texas, right?” she said. “Your friend’s neighbor lived here and knew me back then. Your friend talked to her and she suggested I call you.”
Small world.
My life fell apart when I moved to Japan, so I agreed to go. The people welcomed me like family.
“I like this church,” I told the missionary.
“I don’t go there, but I know a girl who does. She lives in the dorm next to yours.”
That night, I met Jami, my ride to church. She became my best Christian friend. God worked on my heart, and I surrendered to Him. The more I pursued God, the more Jami fell in love with me. And I fell in love with her.
Also, she was hot.
When I was not seeking Him, God drew me back to Himself and connected me with the woman of my dreams. Before I asked, He prepared an answer.

Application: God knows and plans for what we need before we ask.

A Digital Ministry Profile

This morning, at church, I felt vindication.

It’s not a top-of-the-list expected sensation when you walk into a place of worship. But for today, vindication fit.

The pastors preached on wineskins, using Jesus’ words to the Pharisees as a reference.

But no one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and a worse tear results. Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.” (Matthew 9:16, 17 NASB)

The point for the congregation today is that holding onto our old ways of doing things may keep us from experiencing growth in our relationship with God. And relationships are one area where our pastor sees a new wineskin is needed.

In today’s culture, so many of us spend our time connected to the Internet, hands almost surgically attached to our cellphones or mobile devices. I personally was shocked at how quickly my iPad got its dark tentacles wrapped around my habits.

Here I am typing this onto my iPad while riding a bike at the gym, using my cellphone hotspot to upload. No, I am not addicted to these devices.

Speaking of modern culture, our pastor declared, “A lot of people have more relationships via the Internet and social media than they have in face-to-face relations.” By unscientific appearances, because I’m too lazy to find data for what seems obvious, this is the case. Everywhere I go, I see people on cell phones, texting, Facebooking, tweeting, Vining, snapchatting, vlogging, and whatever new thing I’m not even aware of yet.

At least I do when I take my eyes off my iPhone.

Ok, so why the vindication?

Because my pastor’s words spoke directly to a form of ministry my wife has labored in for probably over a decade. And his words lent credence and validity to her form of ministry where others rolled eyes, scoffed, patronizingly agreed, or outright walked away.

My wife ministers the light and love of Christ to people online.

A stay-at-home mom by choice and homeschooling teacher by choice of four children ranging from three years old to teenagers, my wife doesn’t get a lot of time to spend volunteering for the church or doing whatever small group activities come up. When she gets time, she usually takes advantage of the chance to rest, because she earns those breaks.

So when the church wants to go door-to-door, or when they’re asking for nursery volunteers, or they want all the women to come out to a midweek Bible study, or to cook up dinners for the family with the new baby, more often than not, my wife isn’t serving there.

And she gets the looks for it! “Well, if you’re dropping your kid off in the nursery, then we need you to volunteer.” I get that. That makes nursery sustainable. So how about if my excited, willing teenage daughter volunteers in my wife’s place? “Not good enough.”

“Well, it’s so neat that you talk to people on your computer, but you know, we really need someone to come do street evangelism.” Because pouncing on people is a proven tactic, right.

My wife may not step foot out the door, but she clicks across the world and types words of love and hope into the hearts of people she’s never met in person. She may not have a foot on the ground, but she has a virtual hand on the shoulder of a grieving woman, of a new divorcee, of a worried parent whose child is in trouble with drugs. She may not be knocking on doors, but God knocks on hearts through the connection my wife makes with friends and strangers.

Years ago, when I’d log into a chatroom on Yahoo or geocities to debate theology, my wife would talk with people one-on-one to find out what they were going through and share her similar experiences.

Later, when I hopped on forums to post rants about politics and religion in our culture, my wife would trade private messages with people who had been emotionally or physically abused, whether by family, by acquaintances, by strangers, or even by their church. She gave hurting people an avenue to open up, to trust again, to connect with someone who had walked in their shoes and survived to tell the tale.

On Facebook, my wife almost always has a chat open with a friend or two, most of the time just staying connected and sharing life across the country or around the world. That constant reliable bond makes it possible to speak into someone’s life when they are in need of a friend. And sometimes it comes back to bless my wife when she needs encouragement.

Even on World of Warcraft and Farmville, she has made connections to strangers that developed into friends.

All the while, she’s ignored or brushed away the silent criticism and derisive looks from people who should have been excited and supportive.

Sure, if you get her going on politics or draw her into an argument, ministry gets lost in the chaos and flame wars. But that’s true of everyone, regardless of how persuasive we all might believe our memes and rants on Facebook to be.

So to those who laughed at my wife and her “so-called ministry,” I’d like to rise above and be the better man. But she’s the better half.

That means I get to laugh back, feel vindicated, and point out that she’s so ahead of the curve, no wonder they couldn’t see her from way back there.

Worship Defined

What is Worship?

Though this is not the first post on my blog about worship, this is the first Wednesday Worship post. Because worship music is a passion of mine, I hope to use this weekly category to cover some of the myths and truths about how we do worship in the Church.

BCC Worship prep
Part of worship, yes.
All there is to worship? No.

Since we usually mean “singing and playing music” when we talk about worship, that’s going to be the main focus. But there is much more to worship than just the songs we perform on Sunday morning.

So what is worship?

Merriam-Webster gives a few applicable definitions:

1. reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power; also: an act of expressing such reverence.

2. a form of religious practice with its creed and ritual

As a verb, it is to perform an act of devotion, honor, or reverence based on the above.

The word comes from the concept of “worth” or “worthiness.” It’s an act that says “You are worth this much to me.”

That goes way beyond mere singing and playing music, doesn’t it?

So, what is worship?

In a way, it’s everything we do, to the extent that we do it for God’s glory. Worship is our expression of God’s worth, of our respect and honor and reverence for Him.

If I do a good job at work because I believe I am to work as unto the Lord, my work becomes worship.

If I bite my tongue instead of biting off my co-worker’s head because I realize that God calls me to forgive others and treat them with love, that is worship.

When we cheerfully give in the offering plate or cheerfully meet the needs of others, we are worshiping God as much as when we sing hymns and songs of praise.

When I have no words to say, let alone sing, and I simply fall to my knees before God, pouring out my heart’s burden of grief or sorrow, that is worship.

Paul tells us that living our lives as sacrifices offered to God is our spiritual act of worship.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. (Romans 12:1 NASB)

The Messageparaphrase puts it this way:

A Lead Worshiper
Worship is service as much (if not more) than it is singing

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.

There’s definitely a place for singing and playing music as an expression of our hearts and of God’s worth. And that will occupy the spotlight in my future posts about worship, because that’s an important part of who I am and what I’m gifted to do.

But I want to be clear from the outset about what worship really is.

Because if you think about it, and you trust what the Bible reveals about God, then there’s a lot more He wants from us than a song and dance at church.

These thoughts make me consider the following questions:

  • In what ways do I enjoy worshiping God?
  • In what ways can I improve?
  • Is there any part of my “everyday, ordinary… walking-around life” that is not placed before God?
  • How can I more fully embrace all that God does for me?

Song: I Can See You

New song post:

I Can See You (link to the song on SoundCloud)

Have you ever seen a child hiding behind a parent when the child is in trouble?

Have you ever been that child? (Don’t answer!)

It can be scary to own up to failures and mistakes, especially when we’re facing someone we have wronged. As little children, hiding behind Mom or Dad was a place of refuge, knowing that they were going before us and could protect us if someone was really upset.

About twelve years ago, Jami and I were discussing how sometimes as Christians, when we go to God, we sort of hide behind Jesus the way that small child hides behind a parent. We know how screwed up we are, and we know all the ways we’ve blown it. Surely we can’t just come to God. We need to take cover, so that when He looks, all He sees is Jesus.

Jesus is the righteous one, not us. Jesus is the accepted one, not us. Jesus can come to God without fear… not us.

Or so goes the logic.

That logic is wrong.

We are called to come boldly before the throne of grace (Heb 4:14-16). We are declared redeemed, cleansed, purified, made holy (1 Pet 2:9-11). We have become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Cor 5:21).

God paid a great price to get you, because you are part of the special treasure and precious possession He wishes to set on display for His glory. Jesus Christ’s righteous life and sinless blood are the payment by which God has purchased us.

Think of it this way.

A young man saves up money and puts forth effort to purchase a beautiful engagement ring.

He finds the perfect moment, gets down on one knee, reveals the surprise, and proposes marriage to the woman he loves. She gets excited and says yes.

And from then on, whenever he looks at her, she holds up the receipt for the ring.

“Don’t look at me. Look at what you paid to get me. I’m not good enough. I don’t deserve your attention. But remember the price you paid for this, so that you can stand to be around me.”

What sort of relationship would that be?

Come boldly. He said you could. Come stand before Him as the object of His affection… not because of any merit on our part or any sort of pride that says we deserved this.

Come, simply because He loves.

I Can See You (lyrics):


In the darkness I can see your wounded soul

Hiding from the eyes of fire

From the fear that’s holding you

I can see you   Child, I know your every part

I can see you   I can see inside your heart


And I like what I see  My child, I love you

Will you let Me set you free

From the fear that’s holding you?


In the brightness you stand behind My Son

You’re afraid that I’ll see you

That I’ll see what you have done

I can see you   Child, I know your every part

I can see you   I can see inside your heart


And I see you clothed in white

I have thrown your sins away

You can come into the Light

You don’t have to be afraid


I have seen your tears and pain

I have compassion for you

All the hurt you hold inside…

My heart hurts for you too

I can see you   Child, I know your every part

I can see you   I can see inside your heart


And I see how hard you try

How you’ve worked to be set free

My grace will sanctify

Child, you can rest in Me

And I see your heart’s desire

Is to please Me in every way

Let Me hold you in My arms

Let Me wipe your tears away


I have heard your desperate plea

There is nothing now to fear

You can boldly come to Me

My precious child, draw near

My treasure, draw near