Friday, May 26, 2017

Why Justin Bieber makes me love Jesus more.

In these last few months my family has been attending church at HillsongNYC. As a Worship Pastor, I have led so many songs over the years from this influential community of believers. As a songwriter, the argument could be made that a little bit of Hillsong can be heard in every worship song penned in the last two decades. So, before attending, I honestly wondered if I would be able to focus on worshipping Jesus rather than Hillsong. happened!

Just a few weeks into our time at the church (sitting up close of course), my two teenage girls leaned over to me before the service started with a visible sense of wonder on their faces. They could hardly get it out, but I finally heard..."Dad, Justin Bieber is on the front row"! Now, if you know my girls, they don't much care about the Biebs (maybe Emily does a bit). At any rate, it's still pretty cool for a teenage girl to see Justin Bieber that close without a swarm of people around him. Heck, it was pretty cool for me! Of course, right then, my mind begins to think of everything that I thought I knew about Justin. I had heard that Pastor Carl Lentz was his Pastor. I had heard that his poor decisions sent him packing back to Canada. I had heard, basically what the media had told me. But here we were, worshipping our Savior in the same room with arguably one of the most famous persons on the planet. Not only that, but he appears to be worshipping as well. Not accepting praise, but giving it. My head is spinning! And here's the shocker, from the very first time I saw him worshipping at a service, I found myself crying. Yeah, I felt like a teenage girl at a Beatles concert. What was going on? The normal intensity that I feel during worship was amped up...way up! But it wasn't directed at Justin. For some reason, him being there was helping my worship be more laser focused on my creator and Savior.

Needless to say, after that first sighting, my family & I had a lot to talk about. Why was he there? Is he a Christian? What about his suggestive song lyrics?! Then it dawned on us. All of these questions (such important questions) are between him & God. I'm not going to lie, I was a bit starstruck. It was then that I was reminded of that famous verse in the book of John...

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." - John 3:16 

This verse has been so engrained in the heads of us churched folks that sometimes we forget what it really means. God didn't send his son to die just for me. It says "whoever believes". Yes, he died for EVERYONE, even Justin Bieber! So, in that moment of corporate worship, I was suddenly...we were suddenly on the same level as Justin Bieber. I don't mean this to say that my "natural" mind was now feeling the celebrity of the Biebs. NO...I was feeling the magnificent heaviness of coming together as one Body, worshipping the King of kings and Lord of lords! I was reminded of the vision of worshipping around His throne...

"the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
'You are worthy, our Lord and God to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.' " - Revelation 4:10-11
Together, we were acknowledging His worth, while setting ours aside. Sunday after Sunday, I see thousands of people come together to lay down our crowns before the one true King Jesus Christ. Yes, even Justin Bieber, for this moment in time, comes down off the stage, lays down his crowns, and worships. 

And that makes me love Jesus more!

"...he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." - 2 corinthians 5:15

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A New Hope

God's timing is perfect! At some point, I'm sure you've all heard this said before. I know, I know, it sounds cliché and chances are, it was probably said by someone that may have unknowingly rubbed their "perfect" life in your face, causing your blood pressure to quickly rise. Rest assured that's not where I'm coming from.

Though my family has had some incredible opportunities and memories this past year (check out my pics), our year in the city started off with our youngest daughter in the hospital for almost a week, and it seemed to be one challenge after another for the months to follow. Hang with me. I promise this isn't a Debby Downer post. But have you ever been there? Of course you have! You're human, and sometimes life is hard. Sometimes life is really hard! Just know that you're in good company with the rest of humanity.

Here's the deal...God knows what he's doing! Imagine that. The creator of the universe knows what's best for us. Sure, I could look back on this past year and wonder, what in the world was going on! Or, I could look back on it seeing God's providential, sovereign hand in every part of it. I love NYC! There, I said it. It is truly the greatest city on the planet! I have dreamt of living here since I was in high school, and I will forever be grateful that God granted me this dream. With all its challenges, it has been an incredible experience! However, it didn't quite turn out the same as I had envisoned it when I was 15 years old. Things rarely do.

For those of you that know me well, you know that I never shy away from an adventure, and these last 20 years have been just that. Now, we are once again following God's lead back to where our adventures all began in Nashville, TN. With this "full circle" in mind, I want to go back to this idea of God's timing being perfect". I can honestly say that my life has been a huge testament to this truth. By making this statement, I'm inferring that our timing can be a bit more anxious than His. Patience is generally tested in multiple ways during these times of waiting. But in the end, God always comes through (even if it doesn't look just like we thought it would). 

At this point, you may be asking yourself, what's the deal with the mysterious yellow circle and lines at the top of this post? No, it's not the symbol for the illuminati. It is a logo though...and one that I am very excited about! In fact, if you want to know more about it's meaning, just click HERE. It's the logo for New Hope Community Church in Brentwood TN, and I can finally say that I have taken a new pastoral position at this amazing church! I find it very comforting, and no coincidence at all that the name of the church is "New Hope". I'm feeling very connected with Luke Skywalker right now! We're still solidifying all that I will be responsible for, but in a nutshell, I'll be fostering community in the church, leading worship, and teaching. More to come on that later. 

If there's one thing I want you to hear today it's not be discouraged! Know that God has your back. Not only that, but he has your front, your sides, above you and beneath you. I love this verse from the Old Testament...

"The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” - Deuteronomy 31:8

Once again...Do Not Be Discouraged! 

 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead," - 1 Peter 1:3

Be Blessed friends.