Saturday, September 27, 2008

Gospel Homecoming

As always, I'm looking forward to church tomorrow morning. Having been out of the office this week, I feel a bit ill prepared, but I wouldn't trade the time spent with my girls for anything. It was a great staycation while it lasted.

While serving at First Baptist Church in Richland a few years ago, some good friends of mine took Tangie and me to a Bill Gaither Homecoming Concert. Jimmy and Rosina Sumerall were and will always be two of the most outstanding Christians I have ever served with. Jimmy is a monster bass in the FBC choir, and Rosina is a real life prayer warrior. They love all forms of praise and worship but have a real sweet tooth for Southern Gospel music. Now, I grew up singing Southern Gospel and thought I was past that "phase" of my life, but that concert that night was one of the best I've ever been to in my life. In terms of pure fun and spiritual inspiration, Gaither and crew can't be beat. I especially remember Russ Taff singing "I Believe" and being blown away by his passion for God as he sang. Jessie Dixon was a blast. And David Phelps was just plain sick. In fact, I think that's what made the concert so much fun. It was the variety and the laid back atmosphere.

So I was excited to learn that Hunters' Glen has pulled off a few of their own homecoming style concerts in the past. Long story short, we're doing one tomorrow night. It's going to be a blast! It's also been extremely easy for me as one of my choir members has spearheaded the whole deal. Rick Eberst is every music minister's dream. A guy that could himself be a music minister but instead is in my choir. Not too shabby. Thanks, Rick, for all your hard work in putting this night of praise and worship together.

So if you drive by HGBC tomorrow night and notice that our roof is missing, now you'll know why.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Staycation

I had some vacation days that I was going to lose if I didn't take them, so I've been at home this week. I've had an amazing time just hanging out with my wife and daughters. It's been a nice "staycation." We painted a major portion of our home and have nearly eradicated all the white walls. Just a few more rooms to go!

One event of note - I went to a Rangers game on Monday with some friends. Among them was Jon Tyner who is the worship leader at Sevier Heights Baptist Church in Knoxville. Jon and his instrumental director were down in DFW to finalize a mix for their latest choir CD. Sevier Heights puts on a Living Christmas Tree each year that has really been effective. Last year they had 700 decisions for Christ! Absolutely mind blowing!

Also in attendance at the baseball game was our new Director of Worship Arts, Hunter Hall. Hunter begins serving at Hunters' Glen on October 1. Hunter has a sweet wife, Becky, and a precious baby boy, Carson. Hunter has spent the last few years managing Shane & Shane. His experience will help us tremendously. I'm excited about serving with Hunter as we find ways to connect people with God through worship. It's going to be great!

So to all you poor folks out there working this week, I'll try not to rub it in.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Tongue Is a Fire

Today has not been my day. In fact, I've had a bad couple of weeks. And it's largely been because of my tongue. What's frustrating about it is that I am an extremely diplomatic person. I always give people the benefit of the doubt and try to see things from their perspective. Historically, I've been good at diffusing tension and putting folks at ease. So how could this series of misunderstandings happen to me?

Simple. "The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity." And "the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison." James was a smart guy. As much as I'd like my tongue to cooperate, it just never will. God's Word tells me that my tongue is evil. Why do I think that my "diplomatic skills" are such that I alone of all mankind could dare let my tongue loose? I cannot seek to control my tongue. It is not to be tamed.

Well, here's hope for me (and you). "When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise." That's found in Proverbs 10:19. Think we might better listen to that Solomon guy?

So I'm throwing in the towel. God, take my tongue! Use it for Your glory. I cannot control it, but You can. You control all this vast universe. You conquered death and sin. You can easily conquer my tongue. Receive glory from my tongue. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You, my Rock and my Redeemer. May every word I utter be for the glory of Your kingdom and the encouragement of people that hear me speak. And, Lord, when I fail in communicating to others, please mend any damage I have caused. Make me a blessing rather than a curse.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Jesus Is My Friend

I've not been in a blogging sort of mood lately, but I found something that inspired me to shake my blogging doldrums. Please, oh please, do yourself a favor and watch this video. The song is "Jesus Is My Friend" by Sonseed. You will laugh, you will cry, you will hurl.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

TRY-athlete

For the last 10 years, I've toyed with the idea of consistently waking up in the mornings to go running. The problem is that my desire wains after a few tries. I also am intrigued with the idea of cycling. A guy at my church lent me his old bike, and I've been out riding some. But I was intimidated by the thoughts of really getting out there and doing it.

Then Cyrus asked me last week if I'd go riding with him on Labor Day. I agreed and met up with him prepared to make a fool out of myself. Low and behold, we went 10 miles which seemed like a major victory to me. It was an amazing rush. Now I've been thinking of it all week and can't wait to get out there again. It's too dark to ride at 6:00 AM so I went out running this week and actually enjoyed myself so much that I look forward to getting up every morning. I simply love running with nothing but my thoughts and praise music blaring in my iPod. Great way to start the day.

I may never be a great athlete, but dang it, I'm sure going to try.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

"Guess We Can?"

I've avoided political ramblings on my blog thus far, but I had to comment on McCain's speech. It was AWFUL!!! My gosh, what a horrible public speaker. I was fighting back the yawns. Oh well, I guess it's okay since she'll only be First Lady.

What? Did you think I was talking about Future President John McCain? Haha! Gotcha!

What I would say about John McCain is that he is a patriot, and we need him as the next US President. His stories of his time in Vietnam moved me to tears. And these were different tears than the ones Obama induces.

After last night and tonight's amazing speeches (excluding Cindy's, of course), I think Obama needs a new slogan: "Guess We Can?"

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Humility or Bust

I work hard each week to see that Sunday is a "success." Like most worship leaders, I tend to measure success by numbers. It's so quantifiable and all. And before you think me unspiritual, I often think I'd trade 2,000 lacksidazicle attendees for 200 broken worshippers on their faces in repentance, but that's still a numbers thing.

So what do we do when we like what we see in either the lacksidazicle attendees or broken worshippers column? What is needed for continued success? Well, we need the Spirit of God, of course. We need His presence in our lives during the week and in worship on Sundays. But as we know, the "wind blows where it pleases." (John 3) So then do we slough off any and all responsibility should the wind of the Spirit not arrive? After all, isn't He in control?

A good question to ask ourselves is what part can we play in creating an atmosphere of worship? What can we do to invite the presence of the Lord and His blessing? God's Word makes it plainly clear that humility invites the blessing of the Lord. Here are a few scriptures to prove that I'm not making this up:

Numbers 12:3 - "Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth." What? The greatest leader in the Bible wasn't Type A?

2 Chronicles 7:14 - "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

Psalm 51:17 - "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."

Psalm 149:4 - "For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation."

Philippians 2:8 - "And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!"

James 4:6 - "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."

If we want God's anointing we must enter into worship with an attitude like that of Christ. He was God, and yet He humbled Himself for us. We must be willing to humble ourselves for Him and for our brothers and sisters. Doesn't sound too appealing, does it? But I close with a promise from His Word. A promise that He is sure to keep if we will only lay down our pride. "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time." (1 Peter 5:6)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Alan Celoria Family Singers

I had a most unusual childhood. My family was more than just a family, we were a gospel singing group. From age nine through college, I was a member of the Alan Celoria Family Singers. We sang all over the country at some pretty amazing places. From a little church in Montana with seven members (we doubled their attendance that day!) to the Super Dome in New Orleans at the Southern Baptist Convention, no place was off limits.

There was Mom and Dad and the five kids - Jonathan, Matthew, Me, Beth, and Kathy (and Paddi Bear). We lived in two travel trailers and home schooled using A Beka video school out of Pensacola, Florida. We didn't know our life was weird. It was all we knew. Sure, we knew we'd never have a Senior Prom or play sports, but we figured we weren't missing much from the way other kids complained about their mundane, day-to-day existence. And boy, we were close. Closer than most families. It was a blessing to grow up like I did. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Just today, my sister sent me an email she received from someone who remembers our family and our ministry. From time to time, I get these kinds of communiqu├ęs. It amazes me that people still remember us. This particular email really blessed me, and made me even more thankful for the heritage of faith I often take for granted.

Dear Beth.

My name is Sherry, and I was saved at a revival your family did at First Baptist Fernandina Beach, Fl just about 15 years ago. I was 24 at the time and my husband was 42. We were the first two people saved at that revival, maybe the only two, I'm not sure but I often search the internet looking for a way to contact your family and thank them. I read one time that only 1 in 30,000 people 19-30 will be saved and the age my husband was only 1 in 50,000. We know how blessed we are to know the Lord and since then all three of our children also were born again. I wanted you to know your family made a real difference. I can't tell you how many times I sang "It Runs in the Family" or "Power in the Blood " to my kids. I know that you probably hear it all the time but I really am thankful for your dad's preaching and your family for sharing so much of yourselves. I hope you are all doing well and you will pass on my heartfelt gratitude to your family.

In Christ,
Sherry