Saturday, August 30, 2008

Mark & Tang Plus 2

My wife is a huge John & Kate Plus 8 fan. I think mothers like to watch this poor couple cope with the pressures of having eight kids which somehow gives them perspective on their own little rat race. The show highlights the highs and lows of dealing with such a large family. The most entertaining episodes are when they decide to leave the house and take the kids with them. It makes for some pretty good television. Well, today we should have been the stars of our own reality show. Our day was that entertaining.

We decided to go shop the Labor Day weekend sales for some new furniture, so we packed up the 2 girls and headed out to face the world. We were having a great time when the first incident occurred. It was a small thing, but oh so taxing on one's nerves. We were at Weir's Furniture and had to take the baby stroller inside. It was tight, and I don't mean tight as in cool. It was jam packed with people on the scent of bargain furniture. There simply wasn't room to maneuver a baby stroller properly. I had to pick up the stroller and carry it through some of the tight squeezes in there.

Then, we realize it's time to feed Isabelle, so we went out to the patio furniture area to feed Isabelle carrots while seated in her stroller. Bad idea if you like your stroller to remain stain free. The carrots were everywhere. So I was holding Isabelle while Tangie was vigorously attempting to remove the carrot stains when I happened to take a step back at the wrong time. Abigail was walking right behind me. Poor Abigail when flying. She scrapped up her knee and starts crying. "Why did you push me, Daddy?"

So we regrouped and headed over to La Madeleine for some bistro goodness. I was carrying Isabelle in the car seat with my left hand while pushing my tray along the counter with my right hand as we were ordering. I had just ordered a nice cup of steaming hot tomato basil soup and placed it on my tray when I pushed the tray off the counter and right onto Isabelle. Somehow, steaming hot soup ended up everywhere on her seat except for her. Hey, if you're dead set on staining your stroller, make sure that both stains are the same color, right? I'm so grateful she didn't get hurt.

So now we're at home and have tucked our two precious girls into bed. Tangie is downstairs trying to wash the stains out of the stroller again, and I'm laying in bed blogging about our day. Now, all we need is a camera crew.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Desert Song

I've been wearing out the latest Hillsong CD today. One song in particular ministered to me today. It's called "Desert Song" and was written by Brooke Fraser. So you know the drill. Read the lyrics and then watch the girls throw down!

"Desert Song"

This is my prayer in the desert
When all that's within me feels dry
This is my prayer in my hunger and need
My God is the God who provides

This is my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved of more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the flame

I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon formed against me shall remain
I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and He is here

This is my prayer in the battle
When triumph is still on its way
I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ
So firm on His promise I'll stand

All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

This is my prayer in the harvest
When favor and providence flow
I know I'm filled to be emptied again
The seed I've received I will sow


Thursday, August 28, 2008

This Is Our God

The folks at Hillsong have done it again. Every year, I count down the days till September so I can purchase their latest worship project. This year, it came out a little early for some reason, so I'm a little late in posting this.

The whole CD is wonderful, but one song written by my man, Reuben Morgan, absolutely slays me. "This Is Our God" is the title track and the one song that I couldn't stop humming today. The part where you sing "I will fall at Your feet" makes me want to be in the presence of Jesus right now. What does this world have to offer compared to an eternity of worshipping our God?

So here are the lyrics and a YouTube video of the song. Enjoy worshipping:

"This Is Our God"

Your grace is enough
More than I need
And Your Word I will believe
I wait for You
Draw near again
And Your Spirit make me new
And I will fall at Your feet
I will fall at Your feet
And I will worship You here

Your presence in me
Jesus light the way
By the power of Your Word
I am restored
I am redeemed
By Your Spirit I am free
And I will fall at Your feet
I will fall at Your feet
And i will worship You here

Freely You gave it all for us
Surrendered Your life upon that cross
Great is Your love
Poured out for all
This is our God

Lifted on high from death to life
Forever our God is glorified
Servant and King
Rescued the world
This is our God


Record Attendance

Galatians 6:9-10 rings true for me today. "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." I believe in God's promises. Every single one. But sometimes you have to wait patiently to see them fulfilled. This one in particular implies a season of waiting and hard work. The only guarantee is that we will reap the harvest if we are diligent in our labor for Christ. When we will reap the harvest? At the proper time.

Sometimes the proper time is six years. Sometimes the proper time is six months. About six months ago, our church went through the process of deciding how to move forward in regard to our style of music in our two weekly worship services. After a season of prayer, our body decided that we could best meet the needs of our community by offering two distinct worship styles rather than one blended option at both hours. We set August 24 as our target date to make this change, but there was no telling when the harvest would come. I was prepared to labor through a season of waiting if God ordained it.

No need. The Lord brought us the harvest this past Sunday. We broke our previous Sunday School attendance record by a God-sized margin. We had 1217 in attendance in Sunday School! Unfortunately, a head count in worship didn't take place, but both services were comfortably full. I think it's safe to say that we had over 1400 in our two worship services. Praise the Lord!

On top of that, we had 75 in choir last night. Thanks for your continued prayers for our ministry. I look forward to sharing more exciting updates in the days ahead.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Big Day Tomorrow

I can't believe that my daughter is starting first grade tomorrow! It seems like yesterday that I carried her everywhere we went. Life truly is a vapor. I used to laugh at the saps who cried every time "Butterfly Kisses" came on the radio. Right about now, I'd cry with them!

A quick update on this morning - it was amazing! We weren't sure how the attendance would shake down in both services, but it was close to even. We had a ton of people in worship today. I'll be curious to see the numbers tomorrow. 1300? Not sure. I'm bad with numbers.

It was great worshipping in both services. I was proud of my team around me for doing such a great job pulling off two completely different sets. I also felt a freedom in our worship today that was definitely of God. Pastor Kim nailed me with his sermon this morning. I needed to hear what he had to say today. All in all, it was a great day!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Worship Tomorrow

I'm stoked about tomorrow morning at Hunters' Glen! Tomorrow we begin offering two distinct worship formats. Our 9:30 service is called Hunters' Glen Classic and will offer familiar choruses with traditional hymn settings. Our 11:00 service is called Hunters' Glen Celebration and will offer modern worship songs and some hymns arrangements. A major distinction between the two will be the instrumentation with the Classic being organ driven and the Celebration utilizing a full rhythm section complete with electric guitar. I drove by the church today and saw our sign promoting this change, and I felt proud to be a part of Hunters' Glen. I'm confident God is going to honor our desire to meet needs in our church and in our community.

I would ask that you pray for us tomorrow. We need the Holy Spirit of God to show up if anything of eternal significance is going to happen. We can't do this without Him. Please pray that we always rely on God rather than our own understanding and effort. I'll continue to pray the same.

Here's tomorrow's lineup:

CLASSIC:
"How Majestic Is Your Name"
"Glorious Is Thy Name"
"He Is Exalted"
"I Exalt Thee"
"How Great Thou Art"

CELEBRATION:
"Holy Is the Lord" (Brooklyn Tabernacle version)
"Hosanna" (Baloche)
"Hallelujah (Your Love Is Amazing)"
"I Stand Amazed" (Tomlin)

The choir will be singing "Your Name Is Still Higher" by Community Bible Church in San Antonio in both services.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Gooooooooal!!!

Abigail is playing soccer this Fall. She's on the Purple Ponies. Tonight was their first practice. Guess who scored the first goal in the scrimmage? Go Abber! I would be proud of her either way, but it was awesome to see my daughter do well.

Oh, and I'm an assistant coach. Pray the power doesn't go to my head.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Difference Between Choruses and Hymns

Alright, this is admittedly an old sermon illustration, but maybe, just maybe, some of you have never heard this:

Not long ago a farmer went to the city one weekend and attended the big city church. He came home and his wife asked him how it was. "Well," said the farmer, "It was good. They did something different, however. They sang praise choruses instead of regular songs."

"Praise choruses," said his wife, "What are those?"

"Oh, they're okay. They're sort of like a regular song, only different," said the farmer.

""Well, what's the difference?" asked his wife.

The farmer said, "Well it's like this - If I were to say to you:

'Martha, the cows are in the corn,' well that would be a regular song. If, on the other hand, I were to say to you:

Martha Martha, Martha, Oh, Martha, MARTHA, MARTHA,
the cows, the big cows, the brown cows, the black cows,
the white cows, the black and white cows,
the COWS, COWS, COWS are in the corn,
are in the corn, are in the corn, are in the corn,
the CORN, CORN, CORN.


Then, if I were to repeat the whole thing two or three times, well that would be a praise chorus."

A young, new Christian from the big city attended the small town church that same weekend. He came home and his wife asked him how it was.

"Well," said the young man, "It was good. They did something different, however. They sang hymns instead of regular songs."

"Hymns," said his wife, "What are those?"

"Oh, they're okay. They're sort of like regular songs, only different," said the young man.

"Well, what's the difference?" asked his wife.

The young man said, "Well it's like this - If I were to say to you, `Martha, the cows are in the corn,' well that would be a regular song. If, on the other hand, I were to say to you:

Oh Martha, dear Martha, hear thou my cry;
Inclinest thine ear to the words of my mouth.
Turn thou thy whole wondrous ear by and by
To the righteous, inimitable, glorious truth.

For the way of the animals who can explain
There in their heads is no shadow of sense,
Hearkenest they in God's sun or his rain
Unless from the mild, tempting corn they are fenced.

Yea those cows in glad bovine, rebellious delight,
Have broke free their shackles, their warm pens eschewed.
Then goaded by minions of darkness and night
They all my mild Chilliwack sweet corn have chewed.

So look to that bright shining day by and by,
Where all foul corruptions of earth are reborn.
Where no vicious animal makes my soul cry
And I no longer see those foul cows in the corn.


Then, if I were to do only verses one, three, and four and do a key change on the last verse, well that would be a hymn."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

God's iPod

I wanted to take a moment to encourage my ministry partners at HGBC. If you are not a member of our church, you're welcome to read this, but this is a special word for my folks.

We’re committed to singing the great hymns of our faith at Hunter’s Glen. Songs like “How Great Thou Art” and “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” are unquestionably anointed. They have stood the test of time and have connected with worshipping believers for generations. As a result, these songs have touched the heart of God. Not because He likes those songs per se. He simply loves when His children offer Him praise.

These days we have modern worship songs (songs of the now) constantly being added to the worship to do list. I can hardly keep up! Some of these songs differ in form from that of familiar hymns but are no less effective in ministering to Christ. Again, He simply loves when His children offer Him praise.

2 Corinthians 2:15 says that “we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved.” We are His delight. It is our offering of worship that He desires. And it’s not musical offerings exclusively that please our God. Exodus 29:18 tells us the people of Israel offered “a burnt offering to the LORD, a pleasing aroma, an offering made to the LORD by fire.” Our Father has eclectic taste! Just imagine God’s iPod!

As you know, this Sunday our church begins offering two distinct worship experiences – our Classic and Celebration services. You guys will be subjected to the contrast more than other church members. Since you are a human being with likes and dislikes, you may gravitate to one style. But don’t ever let that keep you from offering your praise to God in the “other” service. Believe me, Satan will attack you here. No matter our choice of service, we have no choice but to give God His glory.

If you don’t think you can do this, just start listening to God’s iPod.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Move Over Nastia

A friend of mine sent this to me, and I couldn't resist sharing this video with all of you. This is American gymnast Paul Hunt flying high on the uneven bars. Be sure to watch his routine all the way through to the fantastic dismount! You won't be sorry.

Caring Bridge for T.J. Benton

I want to update everyone on my friend, T.J. Benton. As mentioned in my previous entry, T.J. has been battling cancer for ten years now. He and Janet are in Houston at MD Anderson where he is receiving treatment. T.J. went into surgery just before noon today. Rather than posting updates on my blog, here is the link to T.J.'s Caring Bridge page. You can post a note of encouragement there for he and Janet.

You're in our prayers, T.J. and Janet.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Healer

One of my heroes in the faith is T.J. Benton. T.J. and Janet are long time members of Hunters' Glen. T.J. plays bass in our worship team and is the embodiment of a servant leader. I'll never forget the first time I met him. He introduced himself as being on the team but told me to use him however I felt led. He was willing to help but didn't expect to. I decided then and there to use T.J. on a regular basis.

What I didn't know was that T.J. has been battling cancer for 10 years. The type of cancer he has is very rare. By the grace of God, he has defied the doctors and has lived beyond what they thought possible. It's not been easy though. He has had surgery after surgery to remove tumors and has undergone extensive chemotherapy. In the past year alone since I've been here, his health has forced him to take breaks from playing on several occasions.

This week, a tumor was found on his spine that has numbed his legs to where he cannot walk. It was like a punch in the gut to hear this news. So I went to see him and Janet on Friday to take them a wheelchair. He was in the same high spirits he usually is in. He's determined to praise Jesus no matter what. Be praying for him this week as he travels to Houston to seek treatment.

I tried to imagine how I would live with the knowledge that I had a terminal illness. I don't think I would do as well as T.J. It just didn't seem fair to me that faithful Christians like T.J. and Janet should have to suffer like this. I have to admit I left our meeting feeling a bit down.

Boy, did God just change my perspective. I was surfing the internet when I stumbled across just what I needed on my buddy Jeff Bumgardner's blog. Please, do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to watch this video. The song is off Hillsong's latest worship project, "This Is Our God." It was written and performed by Mike Guglielmucci, a cancer patient and brother in Christ.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Phelps Phan

Congratulations to Michael Phelps on his perfect Olympics. 8 gold medals! He's one of those special athletes in the same company as Jordan and Tiger. It's been a joy to watch him this week. Bring on 2012!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Me in All My Glory

Well, we had 108 in choir last night. I wasn't sure it was possible for us, but seeing their music minister get his hair bleached proved to be a great motivator for many people. Hopefully it translates to a higher attendance average or this is in vain...




I absolutely hate it, people. The second church is over on Sunday, I'm dying it black. Good thing my hair grows fast.

Yesterday was also a day of reunions for me. I received a surprise visit from a member of my former church. Mark Gressett is a deacon and in the choir at FBC Richland, MS where I served for two years. He was in town for some kind of software training and stopped by and actually came to choir. I also had a buddy of mine from college come to choir. Brandi Lewis happens to live here in the area and we reconnected on Facebook. It was great seeing old friends!

I wanted to give a shout out to my assistant, Lynne Moses, for all her hard work in preparing for last night. Also to Rick Eberst for agreeing to bleach my hair. I think you missed your life's calling, buddy!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Blondes Have More Fun

I had the cool opportunity to hang out with Shane Barnard and Shane Everett of Shane & Shane today. My pastor's son is their manager. I was amazed to hear Shane Barnard's story. He was not raised in church and actually picked up guitar in his late teens. His family was not musical either. God still loves to anoint the Davids of the world. Here I was privileged to grow up in a Christian home surrounded by music and Shane B runs circles around me. Hey, whatever brings God glory!

Tomorrow is a big day for our music ministry. Hunters' Glen Choir kicks off again after a few weeks off. And if we have 100 in attendance, I am going to bleach my hair blonde. Tangie is not at all happy about this. Personally, I'm a little nervous. I'm thinking we just might break the century mark and then some. Again, whatever brings God glory.

I'll be sure to post pictures the second they become available.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Louder Than Words

Do you ever wonder why we sing in church? Does worship music function solely to prepare us for the main event - the preaching of God's Word? Have you ever questioned the importance of corporate worship compared to Christ's command to "go and make disciples?" David believed that music and witness were one and the same.

"He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD."

David wrote these words in Psalm 40:3. Interestingly, the superscription indicates that this particular psalm was written "for the director of music." Now, I'm assuming that most of the people that read my blog are church musicians. That means that this psalm was written for you! Your participation in music ministry does more than simply compliment our ultimate goal to win the lost; it accomplishes it. Your singing can be a witness that speaks louder than words.

When people see you singing or playing or whatever, what will they see that causes them to put their trust in the Lord?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

O Contraire Mon Ame!

Jason Lezak for President!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Blog Slowdown

I've not blogged much the past few weeks simply because I've been gone a lot. And when I've been home I've been extremely busy. If you're one of the few who visits my blog regularly, I can assure you that I will return to my regular blogging self once I return from my anniversary trip with my wife this weekend. We leave tomorrow morning. Here's a picture of where we are staying.



I'm off to spend some QT with my wife. Peace!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Nick's Testimony

I'm up late tonight. Can't seem to fall asleep, so I was catching up on emails when I came across this video someone sent to me. It's the testimony of Nick Vujicic. As you will see in the video, he lives everyday with a major disability but also a major sense of purpose. Not sure why the video has Korean subtitles. The entire video is in English.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

10 Years of Marital Bliss

"Where have you been, Mark?" I know you are dying to know. We took a trip to the Celoria B&B; (my mom and dad's house) and completely vegged. What a relaxing and enjoyable time. My parents live way out in the country and own lots of land. Reading a book down by the pond yesterday was my personal highlight. We don't get to experience much nature in the DFW area.

Yesterday was Tangie and my 10 year anniversary. How time flies! It seems like yesterday that the foyer doors of Cato Baptist Church opened to reveal the most stunning bride mankind will ever see. In the last ten years we have moved 6 times and have served in 4 churches. We have made many wonderful memories. We have experienced the joy of parenting two precious girls. It's been a great 10 years. But my greatest joy has been and always will be my beautiful bride.

Tangie, I love you more and more each day. Thank you for marrying me!