Saturday, May 12, 2018

Personal Log 5.12.2018

I heard the birds this morning.

Last night I slept w/ the window open & I woke up around 5 am, just laying there praying & the birds were chirping in their usual pre-dawn ritual. As I laid there I was reminded of just a few months earlier: we had a brutal & long Winter, it was cold & one particular morning I got up early to shovel; in fact it was around the same time: 5 am. The wind was blowing & as I was shoveling I kept pausing between the gusts. Yep, I heard right: there were birds chirping.

Most birds go south for the Winter but here in Michigan we have a species of birds that remain here all year long; how they survive is a mystery to me but God takes care of them somehow. 

I thought about that Winter moment this morning as I lay in my warm bed, the cool air massaging the room. I thought about how those birds use the voice that God gave them, it doesn't matter if it's warm weather, cold weather, good weather or bad, they use their voice.

Just this week in one of my walks I heard some geese flying overhead, honking their way north.. I also heard some seagulls in the distance & yesterday, I saw a pair of turtledoves & they were cooing to each other. A myriad of voices, all being heard... 

It's just a natural thing for creatures to use their voice yet for many people, they're afraid to. Many are afraid to speak up, to say anything, to use the voice that God gave them. For some it's a fear issue, for others it's a confidence issue:
  • What if someone doesn't like what I said?
  • What if someone is offended?
  • What if someone challenges me?
  • What if I can't answer or debate them?
  • What if I stutter or my mind goes blank?

We're all different & wired differently. I personally know some musicians who have no problem playing in front of 5 thousand people but freeze up in a coffeehouse setting… there are people who can really open up in a small group but can't speak in front of the congregation… there are those that that can't articulate on the fly but can post beautifully loquacious & coherent blogs… there are those that refuse to engage in political discourse but silently speak w/ their vote at the polls…

Your vote is your voice, if you don't vote you're letting someone else speak for you.   

Sometimes it's comparison that cripples a voice. I knew of a singer on my worship team several years ago that struggled w/ comparison; she didn't sing like another woman on the team & that bothered her, it crippled her voice & I told her, “Use the voice that God gave you. God gave her a certain voice & God gave you a different voice, she's using hers, use yours. So you don't sing like her, sing like you.” 

In my lifetime I've run into the same thing w/ other guitarists & guitar students; they try to play like famous guitarists & I tell them, “Are you them? No? Then don't try to play like them, develop your own style, your own sound & you'll be in a world of happy.” For many musicians, their instrument is their voice.

I Corinthians 15: 39-41
“Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.”

I don't tell people how to vote.
I don't tell people what to preach.
I don't tell people how to minister.
I don't tell people what to say.

I do encourage them to somehow find an expression for the voice that God gave them & like the birds in the dead of Winter or in the dawn of Spring use that voice in the good times, in the bad times, in every situation.

Be heard.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Personal Log 4.14.2018

I've been seeking the Lord more lately regarding my passion, my purpose & also why He brought me back to my fellowship… it was a good service last Sunday, I really enjoyed it. Every once in a while it's great to have a short sermon, just short & to the point, I tend to retain more when that happens & I'm not the only one.

After service there was an all-ministry meeting & though I'm actively involved in the Men's Group the man overseeing the MG was heading up the Ushers/Greeters meeting so everyone broke into their groups & I had nowhere to go. I looked around & everyone had their place & I felt so out of place so I snuck upstairs to the Music Room I've been working on, buried my face in my hands, just crying & praying, “Lord, I know You brought me back here for a reason. I feel it's music, I have such a heart for the musicians in this body but no one seems to be interested in recording, they're either too busy or personal things come up & I'm frustrated; this is my heart & it's breaking… maybe I made a mistake. I don't normally ask this but if I'm on the right path, send someone up here to confirm why You called me back here...”

Two minutes later I unburied my head, wiped my tears & took a deep breath then the worship guitarist poked his head in, “Hey” he said, “have you got a couple of minutes?” I said “sure” & he played three acoustic instrumentals for me that he had written. I encouraged him that we needed to record those because they were good, really good! I'm not going to force things w/ him, he's got a full-time job & a full-time family but I'm going to keep encouraging him & when he's ready to record, I'll help him. I feel if we can get some songs from the musicians recorded on a CD it'll spark other musicians in the fellowship to record… but recording isn't the only thing that the Lord has been drawing me to; social media is the other. 

Personal interaction & ministry is one thing, 
social media interaction & ministry is another; 
both are important. 

I've got a couple of personal recording projects I'm working on at the moment & though I've been on there for a few years, lately I've really been getting serious about Google+, they have something called Hangouts, which is a chat/video feature, like Skype but much better: Hangouts also had an option called Google Hangouts on Air, which allowed Google+ users to broadcast video calls live on YouTube but it has now been moved to Youtube & is called Youtube Live & this feature has gained traction as a free way for organizations to conduct online seminars/webinars, create teaching videos, etc. So I'm considering doing some personal Acoustic Concert Hangouts/Youtube Live stuff & I've setup my fellowship's Music Room for the same thing, perhaps once a month we can record some jam sessions up there & it may draw musicians to our fellowship, who knows?

Regarding social media, I do feel that many fellowships really underestimate the power & the reach of social media. Jesus went where the people were & today, many people are online.  Yes, many do attend a fellowship & many are active in their community, but few have the ability to combine all three. 

Right now I'm personally focused on Google+ & Twitter… I think my fellowship could benefit from tapping into a handful of social media platforms for exposure, ministry & outreach; that's something else I'm praying about too... 


Saturday, March 31, 2018

Personal Log 3.31.2018

In a split second, a large chunk of my life was lost…

On Good Friday, rather early in the morning, I dropped my WD Passport External drive. It slipped out of my hand & hit the carpet. At the time, I didn't think much about it but a little later I plugged it into my pc to work on some files &… nothing. It didn't register, it didn't read it. I plugged it into another pc & again... nothing. So I immediately did a little online research & found that once this external hard drive has been dropped it's pretty much a lost cause; there's internal damage that can only be fixed by a professional & then, it's “iffy”. The cost for sending it in & having it fixed runs into several hundred dollars (a couple of reports have it at 4 digits) & I just don't have that kind of money right now as 98% of my money is tied up in investments.

I wouldn't have lamented the loss of this drive if it hadn't contained several hundred audio files of recording projects but more importantly 30+ years of genealogy research... countless & rare photos... videos of my beloved & departed grandmother singing (which was a rare event)… genealogy charts of several family lines dating back hundreds & hundreds of years… information of events & adventures that my ancestors experienced… all lost. 

The sense of loss is beyond profound… 

Several times yesterday I almost broke into tears as I was wandering around, not sure what what to do but I kept reminding myself that in the light of eternity, it's really nothing. Everything in this life is temporary. 

Everything will eventually burn. 
My favorite pc will burn.
My favorite DVD's will burn.
All my guitars will burn.
My car will burn.
Everything we as humans value will burn.
This earth will burn & make way for a new earth.
Everything is temporary; everything...

I kept saying to myself, “at least I'm not Job”. Job lost more that I ever did: his farm, his house, his family, everything that he had invested in & that he valued was gone in one day & my loss of a simple external hard drive w/ years of research cannot even come close to that.

So now I start over, somehow, some way & I'm not even sure where to begin. When a huge chunk of your life has been wiped out & erased, yes there is loss but things happen, life happens & how we respond reveals our perspective & what we truly value...

2 Corinthians 4:18 AMP
"So we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen; for the things which are visible are temporal [just brief and fleeting], but the things which are invisible are everlasting and imperishable"

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Personal Log 3.15.2018

This is Thursday morning & I'm still thinking about my pastor's sermon on Sunday; it was basically about contentment in the Lord & it really resonated w/ a lot of people that I talked to afterwards. It was a very timely message & something that I've been dwelling on the past couple of years or so = 'just being content in the Lord & my station in life.

I'm in my 50's & still single. I'm not ashamed of that, that's just the way it is. For years & years I prayed for help, I prayed around 30 years for a wife & nothing happened. Year after year I watched my friends, classmates & brothers get married, raise kids, enjoy their grandkids & it always seemed like I was left behind, left out, forgotten, the odd wheel, etc. It was awkward all those years at my family reunions & get togethers, “are you married yet?” was the perennial question asked & it got to the point where I dreaded going & eventually quit showing up for a few years & boy that taught them! 

But like I said, in the last couple of years I've learned to be content: really, truly, spiritually, Biblically content in the Lord & in life. Yes, it would be nice to have a female friend I could go to church picnics w/ or to a cafe or party every once in a while, it would be nice to have someone I could talk to but right now, it's okay that I don't. I'm content in my singleness & to be honest, I just can't see myself being married now; I just can't…

 I Timothy 6:6
“but godliness with contentment is great gain.”

godliness = eusebeia:
  • reverence, respect
  • piety, holiness

contentment = autarkeia:
  • a perfect condition of life in which no aid or support is needed
  • sufficiency of the necessities of life
  • a mind contented with its lot, contentment

gain = porismos:
  • acquisition
  • source of gain

I love breaking verses down in the Greek & Hebrew...


Thursday, March 8, 2018

Personal Log 3.8.2018

One day a week, a random day… I don't ask God for anything, I call it my “fasting from asking” day. I spend the entire time, from around 4 – 4:30 am 'til bedtime in thanksgiving & praise. There's nothing like 5 am when the day is fresh & quiet & it's just you, God & your cup of coffee. The solitude is amazing & on these days, as I go about my day the “times of refreshing” become very real & tangible in a chaotic world.

I like to think that God looks forward to those days like a parent who loves it when one of their kids just drops in, not asking for money or help but simply because they want to spend time w/ them.

God knows what I have need of & in Christ Jesus, He's already supplied those needs so I thank Him that He's always taking care of me. I meditate on the Lord, meditate on Scripture, pray in tongues, grab my guitar & just praise, I thank Him throughout day but I refrain from asking for anything. There's six other days of the week for supplications & requests but on this particular day, it's all about thanking, it's all about praising, it's all about resetting, it's all about Him... 

He's already blessed me, He's already anointed me, He's already supplied my needs, I'm complete in Him & sometimes, on these random days, the only thing that comes out of my mouth is, “Father, I love You” & that's enough.  

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Personal Log 3.6.2018

It's a been a rough & interesting week...

The Lord gave my mom a vision for a ministry & at 75 that means there's still much for her to do; ever since then she's been attacked in the area of her health & though she's been speaking healing verses over herself, taking authority & trusting God in all this, she does at times get a bit discouraged. Every 48 hours the enemy attacks her: Wednesday morning... Friday evening... Sunday morning as I'm heading to service I get a call...  

I've been in her doctor's office more times in the last week than I care to be.

It's wearing down both her & myself a bit but we're not losing faith & the Lord is our strength. There are certain health issues that naturally come as a person gets older but when the Lord shows you something & gives you an assignment, the enemy takes notice. I've been serious about getting some tracks laid down & some projects finished & there's seems to be resistance & distractions all along the way, which to me means I'm on the right track (no pun intended) & 'just need to press forward.

I'm reminded of these Scriptures:

Luke 9:51
“Jesus steadfastly set His face toward Jerusalem”

The word for “steadfastly set” is stērizō
  • to make stable, place firmly, to strengthen
  • to render constant, [confirm] one's mind 

Acts 13:36
“For David, after he had served his own generation...”

The phrase "after he had served" is the Greek word hypēreteō
  • to minister, render services

"generation" is from the word genea
  • a group of men very much like each other in endowments, pursuits, character 
  • the whole multitude of men living at the same time
  • an age, a space of 30-33 years

My mom has a heart for both women her own age & for the next generation, I have a heart for men & musicians; we're both resolute in our purposes & yes we'll be attacked but we're going to be faithful to the call, set our faces & minister.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Personal Log 3.4.2018

There's a difference between “can't” & “won't” 
& sometimes success or failure 
hinges on knowing that difference.

I've worked for a few different employers in my lifetime & some bosses were good, others not so much; some were very open to new ideas & new ways of doing things, those were the bosses I loved to work for. Some pastors/leaders I know were the same way, they loved feedback, they thrived on new ideas. On the other hand, we all know some bosses & some pastors/leaders who are the complete opposite… they hold a very tight grip on their business plan or ministry model & as a result, are squeezing the respective life out of each.

When I was younger I used to say, “This is my ministry & I know what I want & I know what I'm doing!” I have since repented of that; as I've grown & matured I've come to be much more flexible in regards to both business & ministry. I constantly seek the Lord in regards to new methods, to new ideas & simultaneously I feel people out on what they're thinking & feeling, on what they like or would like to see. It's humbling when you realize you don't know it all & but it's also quite liberating when there's a sharing of ideas because those that work w/ you & those that you minister to/with feel like they're a part of the process & that their opinion is valued. Those things are very conducive to a sense of unity in any business or fellowship.

Even in the last couple of weeks as I'm trying to lay down some tracks for a worship CD I'm looking at my songs & saying, “can I do anything different w/ arrangement or sounds?”. Sometimes I just get tired of the same old formula of verse, chorus, verse, chorus, solo, chorus: it's boring, predictable, safe. If I'm bored w/ the songs, will the listeners also be bored? 

In worship ministry, I have my core sound but if that's all I use in my arsenal then it gets a little stale, so occasionally I have to add a leslie, a wah or a pitch shifter to have some variety. I personally know four worship leaders who lead from a keyboard & they only use one patch & they play all the time. So here they plead for a $2000 keyboard w/ all kinds of patches, sounds, midi, sequencers, etc & they only use the piano or piano w/ strings patch. It's not that they can't use anything else it's that they won't.

I talked w/ this worship leader once about a stripped-down, intimate, candlelight, acoustic Sunday morning worship service, just a piano & one acoustic guitar, give the worship team a break & keep it simple. She loved the idea & started getting songs together, well as the week wore on she kept adding people & when service came around, it was the full compliment, the full team; the only difference was she was on the piano & not the keyboard! I had to laugh... it's not that she couldn't do anything different it's that she wouldn't do anything different (at least too far from the “norm”).

I've had alot more success w/ business owners/leaders in regards to change & even then, it was still a small percentage who were actually open to new ways of doing things; I chalk it up to human nature...

In talking w/ pastors all over the country I feel them out & I'll half-jokingly ask: "why don't you take up the offering at the beginning of service?" responded quickly w/ "oh we can't do that!" when in reality they just won't do that... or "why don't you preach first then have worship" again responded w/ "oh we can't do that!" when again it's not that they can't they just won't. 

I'm not slamming anyone, these are just my observations & experiences. Doing something different is hard, I realize that, there's a learning curve involved whether that format, structure, patches, effects, business, sales, marketing, ministry, etc & sometimes things sink & other times they soar but we'll never know if we can walk on water unless we get out the boat.