Wednesday, February 28, 2007

C3 Review | Discussing Children's Ministry

Personal Note: As I'm writing this blog entry, I'm listening to Hillsongs United album called United We Stand. One of the things I took away from the conference is that I need to listen to some different music, just to stay sharp on the more modern sound. I know this album is way 2006, but it still sounds fresh to me.

You heard a few days ago about our travel travails on the way to the C3 conference in Grapevine, Texas. One nice byproduct of a late flight was an extra-long discussion time before getting on the plane. The topic for the night: Children's Ministry.

Because this is an area in which I have little involvement and absolutely no expertise, I spent the time listening and learning from the other guys who were there.

Josh, our senior pastor, would like to see our children's ministry continue to grow in excellence. Mike Bradshaw has made some great changes in the curriculum and the 2nd-4th grade environment in the last couple years, but we still have room to grow.

"Where?" you ask? From what I gathered, the main area where the pastors desire improvement is in the environments of the classrooms for younger children. Also, they would like to see the people who teach in the 2nd-4th grade "kids church" work harder to use engaging creative elements and to work as a team of teachers instead of four separate teachers.

What was most encouraging to me was Mike's reiteration of the primary purpose of our children's ministry: Covenant Life's children's ministry exists to come alongside parents in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with their children and then discipling their children in a cross-centered, God-glorifying life.

As a young dad, I look forward to seeing how the improvements in children's ministry will assist me in leading my daughter into love for Jesus Christ and a life of service in his kingdom.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

C3 in Review

Though almost a week later is not "soon" enough, I promised some posts looking back on C3 last week. Here's what our trip looked like overall, and what some future posts will resemble over the next few days...
  • Wednesday Evening = Discussion about Effective Children's Ministry
  • Thursday, Session 1 = Ed Young on "Turning What If to What is"
  • Thursday, Session 2 = Craig Groeschel on "You're an Idiot"
  • Lunch = Learning from Craig Cabaniss about Fellowship Church and Texas Christianity
  • Thursday, Session 3 = Mark Driscoll on "Two Enemies of the Gospel"
  • Thursday Dinner = Discussion about Music and Mixing
  • Friday, Session 5 = Bishop TD Jakes on "Ten Commandments of Christian Leadership"
  • Trip Home = Discussion with Corby Megorden

Thursday, February 22, 2007

C3 Travel Travails

Well, as God ordained, we encountered some minor challenges in our travels to C3 yesterday.

On the ride from Gaithersburg to the Baltimore airport, cell phones started ringing all over the car. American Airlines was calling each of us to let us know that our flight had been cancelled. However, there was another flight leaving only an hour later. We had been rebooked on the later flight.

The unfortunate result of the later flight is that we did not get into Dallas early enough to make it Outback Steakhouse. Awwww (sad violin sounds here).... Some guys were looking forward to some juicy steaks. But Chili's had to suffice.

By the time we left Chili's to check into our hotel, it was 11:30p Dallas time, 12:30a body time. Anyone else notice that it gets harder to be joyful when the time gets later? Well, the hotel had given away our rooms, even though we had contacted them twice that day to let them know we would be arriving late. Thankfully, we were too exhausted to be really angry.

After driving around strange parts of suburban Dallas for what seemed like 45 more minutes, we finally plopped down in our new hotel rooms. Thankfully, the day was tiring enough that I didn't even notice that my mattress was only about 4 inches think.

These are the trying suburban-American-spoiled-rotten-I-always-get-what-I-want things we went through yesterday. It was actually a great day, and I will post soon about some of our discussions.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Off to C3

Well, we're starting to load up the vans for our trip to C3. I'll do what I can to keep you udpated on what we're up to.

Right now we've got 6 pastors, 2 staffers, and 1 NASA Engineer/Drama Pro waiting for the van to pull up.

Until later...

Monday, February 12, 2007

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Anyone else notice what's wrong with this picture? Ken and Brittany, you can't answer!

By the way, I took the picture during rehearsal, and I think it got fixed before the service actually started. I hope.

Purity Sermon Series

Covenant Life wrapped up our sermon series on Purity this last Sunday. Joshua Harris led us through six sermons with various topics ranging from marriage to sex to holiness to media to evangelism.

Prompted by an excellent message by Robin Boisvert in our series on 1 Corinthians, the pastors believe God was leading them to cover the topic of purity more extensively early this year. The church has responded with great enthusiasm to the teaching, and I can't wait to see the fruit of it in my marriage and the lives of my friends.

Technically, this series didn't have any unusual requirements, but since we're new to the set design thing, I thought I'd share some pictures of what we did and invite feedback. Unfortunately, the color on the first picture isn't quite right. But you get the idea. Any suggestions?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Rechargeable Batteries

Last week, someone asked Bob Kauflin a question about using rechargeable batteries in wireless microphones. In his response, he referenced part of the Covenant Life Production Team's most recent monthly update. Go ahead and read his whole post.

Not surprisingly, my readership quadruples whenever Bob kindly references my meager blog, as he does occasionally and always with much encouragement. Thanks, Bob, for your kind words and for sending some of your friends in my direction. I'm praying for you and your book!

I wanted to add a few thoughts for those of you who happened to read Bob's post, in order to put it into context. First, Covenant Life only recently began recycling batteries at all. That change prompted me to reconsider the way we handle batteries on the tech teams in an attempt to utilize the new option of recycling. At the same time, I decided to try to use our batteries more fully before throwing them away.

Please know that there are other churches that do it much better. For instance, one of my volunteers mentioned visiting a church that has four (or more?) containers for batteries: Full, 75% 50%, and Recycle. They use a battery tester to determine which bin the batteries go in, and they have certain uses for the different levels of batteries. If you are able to manage this more complex process, I'd highly recommend it, since it will lead to even better stewardship.

Finally, I'm grateful for Bob Kauflin's wise pastoring, even in very practical areas like batteries. He wrote:
We have two priorities in tension here. The first is to be wise stewards of the resources God has given us. The second is to faithfully serve congregational worship and the preaching of God's Word. Ultimately, the second concern is the greater priority.
Let's make it our aim to be wise stewards without compromising the effectiveness of the preaching of God's Word.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Friday Mornings with My Daughter

Warning: this is one of those self-indulgent, parent posts that many people will find completely unhelpful. OK, you've been warned.

Since every Friday morning is Meg time, I thought I'd post a recent video of my daughter showing off her new high five skills (and me looking really silly). While this wasn't on a Friday morning, it's become one of our favorite activities these days.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Typo or Jab?

A volunteer on the video team recently wrote me some critique and suggestions for our productions teams internal website. Here is a quote from his email...
"As a hole, the site is well done -- just keep making it better and better."
Was that a typo? Or a jab?

In any case, it made me laugh!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Little Things, Big Blessings

Last night went late. I think I rolled into bed around 1am, after setting my alarm to go off at 5am, just a few minutes later.

When I rolled back out of bed this morning (one snooze cycle after 5), I was blessed big by some little things. My wife had picked out clothes, set out food for breakfast, and packed a lunch. For me.

I have an amazingly thoughtful wife.

Thanks, babe! I couldn't serve our church without you. I love you!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Personal Retreat, Part 2

Where am I? The Music Cafe
What am I doing? Reading Andrew Murray's Humility
What am I listening to? Soundtrack from Edwards Scissorhands

Quotes that strike me from Humility:

"...nothing is more natural and beautiful and blessed than to be nothing, so that God may be all." (p. 6)

"The faithful servant who recognizes his position finds a real pleasure in supplying the wants of the master and his guests." (p. 7)

"Humility, the place of entire dependence on God, is, from the very nature of things, the first duty and highest virtue of man." (p. 10)

"[Humility] is simply the sense of entire nothingness, which comes when we see how truly God is all, and in which we make way for God to be all. Man must realize that this is the true nobility. He must consent to be, with his will, his mind, and his affections, the form and the vessel in which the life and glory of God are to work and manifest themselves. Then he will see that humility is simply acknowledging the truth of his position as man and yielding to God his place." (p. 12)

"[Christ's] humility was simply the surrender of Himself to God, to allow the Father to do in Him what He pleased, no matter what men around might say of Him, or do to Him." (p. 23)

"Let us study the words we have been reading, until our heart is filled with the thought: My one need is humility. And let us believe that what He shows, He gives; what He is, He imparts; as the meek and lowly one, He will come in and dwell in the longing heart." (p. 33)

"No argument, however convincing; no sense of the beauty of humility, however deep; no personal resolve and effort, however sincere and earnest--can cast out the devil of pride. When Satan casts out Satan, it is only to enter again in a mightier, though more hidden power. Nothing can avail but that the new nature, in its divine humility, will be revealed in power to take the place of the old." (p. 38)

"Let us pray to God that other gifts may not so satisfy us that we never grasp the fact that the absence of this grace is the secret reason why the power of God cannot do its mighty work." (p. 41)

"The humility that is really ours is not that which we try to show before God in prayer, but that which we carry with us, and carry out, in our ordinary conduct." (p. 44)

"The humble man feels no jealousy or envy. He can praise God when others are preferred and blessed before him. He can bear to hear others praised and himself forgotten, because in God's presence, he has learned to say with Paul, 'I am nothing' (2 Corinthians 12:11)." (p. 47)

"In their spiritual history, men may have had times of great humbling and brokenness, but what a different thing this is from being clothed with humility, and from having a humble spirit. How different this is from having that lowliness of mind in which each counts himself the servant of others, and so shows forth the very mind which was also in Jesus Christ." (p. 54)

"The holiest will always be the humblest." (p. 54)

"Never for a moment can God's child live in the full light of his love without understanding that the sin out of which he's been saved is his one and only right and title to all that grace has promised to do." (p. 61)

" is not in daily sinning that the secret of the deeper humility is to be found... [But] it is that our true place... must be that of those whose highest joy is to confess that they are sinners saved by grace." (p. 63)

"As we see how, in their very nature pride and faith are irreconcilably at variance, we will learn that faith and humility are at root one." (p. 68)

"Brethren! nothing can cure you of the desire to receive honor from men, or of the sensitivity and pain and anger which come when it is not given, except giving yourself to seek only the glory that comes from God. Let the glory of the all-glorious God be everything to you. You will be freed from the glory of men and of self, and be content and glad to be nothing. Out of this nothingness you will grow strong in faith, giving glory to God. You will find that the deeper you sink in humility before Him, the nearer He is to fulfill every desire of your faith." (p. 72)

"If you want to enter into full fellowship with Christ in His death, and know the full deliverance from self, humble yourself. This is your one duty." (p. 75)

"Yes, let us ask whether we have learned to regard a reproof, just or unjust, a reproach from friend or enemy, trouble or difficulty into which others bring us, as, above all, an opportunity of proving how Jesus is all to us. It is an opportunity to prove how our own pleasure or honor are nothing, and how humiliation is, in very truth, what we take pleasure in. It is indeed blessed -- the deep happiness of heaven -- to be so free from self that whatever is said about us or done to us is lost and swallowed up in the thought that Jesus is all." (p. 84)

Personal Retreat, Part 1

I'm off today on a personal retreat. I'm basically taking the whole day to seek God about different things happening at work, at home, and in my soul. I love the thought of having an entire uninterrupted day with God.

This is the first time I've done a personal, personal retreat. In the past I've taken time away from the office to do ultra-long-term planning for the church production teams. That frequently included prayer, study, and the like. However, it was always with projects in mind. This day, while work at the church will still be a big part, is more about larger issues related to my heart, namely temptation and sin.

The plan is loose, but I'll be spending a good deal of time reading, praying, and journaling.

Here are the books I've brought with me:
I'll probably post a couple updates today about what the Lord is saying to me. If you think of it, please pray for me, that God would direct me on how to love and serve him more to his pleasure and glory.