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I was scanning through my google reader when I saw this recent post by Donald Miller and thought I must share it.  He writes a convicting and thought-provoking blog here and I am challenged by what he says, but I also thought he does a fantastic job of explaining our need for a savior.

I have heard many presentations of the Good News of Jesus Christ in my life and many of them explained the fall in terms that left me unsettled and wanting.  Donald’s explanation here is awesome so I thought I would highlight it (pay special attention to the italicized part, which I added):

We were designed so our identity would be affirmed in a relationship with God. In other words, my feelings of self worth do not come from within me, they come from an external source. That source was supposed to be God. But in the fall of man, that relationship was severed (it had to be as God could not mix or mingle with anything opposing him, not because He is a jerk, but because He actually defines what is good in the first place) and so after the fall, we continue to look for affirmation from an outside source, and that source is each other.

I love the way Miller describes the fall here.  Through my life I have been told that at the fall our sin caused God to punish us with separation from him, which is sort of hard to reconcile when elsewhere the same people say that God loves you and wants to have a relationship with you in Jesus  (why did God mess things up in the first place, I wondered).  When we look at the fall, however, not as our punishment from God, but as the consequence of our sin and our choice, things become clearer.  If God is perfect (and God is perfect), then everything about and around God is also perfect (heaven and such), then it reasons to say they any imperfection (our rebellion and sin) around would disturb God’s perfection.  God’s perfection can’t, in fact, be disturbed and so any imperfection (our rebellion and sin, and therefore us) could no longer be around.  I am reading this parenting book that shows and encourages the parents to show that disciplining a child is not because we are mean, nasty jerks and want to make them suffer with punishment, but because we are loving, responsible parents who are enforcing the boundaries and consequences of their own choices and are providing the clear boundaries and structure we so desperately need.  I think when we understand the fall this way, God is no longer the bad guy(a mean, nasty jerk), God is in fact so good that we can’t even compare, and when we understand that, The Good News is actually Good!  God could no longer bear this separation so God came to us, in the flesh and became like us so that we could be made right! Thanks for sharing this view, Don.

In other news and randomness, The Hawaiian Island Ministries Honolulu 2010 conference starts this evening and I am stoked to be going to it with some of our teens and Annie.  I am especially stoked because The David Crowder* Band is performing a worship concert on Friday night that is sure to be face-meltingly-rocktacular and worshipful.  I will try to post some conference updates as I can.

In further randomness, if any are following along with the shrinking JD, I weighed in today at 247lbs and am stoked to be down 20lbs from the original weight.   I wasn’t able to work out due to sickness, nor was I able to keep up with my lose it due to sickness and laziness and busy-ness due to Annie starting maternity leave.  Hopefully, I will able to get back into those next week.  I am posting this because the conference schedule on Friday runs from 8am to about midnight, not including drive time, so I may not be able to do my normal Friday weigh in and post.

aloha, (ps. we made it through the tsunami) (pps, i like to use the word stoke, I know, you couldn’t tell)

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Today at church Sean preached. Since he normally leads worship he asked me to lead for him while he preaches and to bring a couple of our super talented high-schoolers with me. I was very excited to do this and so I agreed. We practiced on Thursday and warmed up early this morning and played through our opening set nicely. Then it happened (this moment will probably forever stick in my mind as it’s that embarrassing).

I should mention, that although Sean has previously given me the lead for a couple songs while he and I have ledworship together, this is the first time I was leading the whole shebang by myself. I should also mention that Sean’s preaching topic today was, in fact, worship itself. I should also mention that we celebrated communion this Sunday and that, as usual, we do that after the message during the final worship set. The perfect storm is brewing, you see.

Anyway, we went to play a contemplative-Crowder-esque All Creatures. We play this in “C” (Crowder plays it in “D”) and it’s great to have an acoustic guitar play capoed on the 5th fret in “G” to add a nice high-end bounce to the song. I was responsible for that, and also for starting the song out with Brian, our talented HS pianist/guitarist. The only problem was that I was capoed on the 4th fret and actually playing in “B”. I could immediately hear the grating and assumed I was at fault, so I had to stop, ask our bassist, Joanne, for a “C,” in embarrassment plainly see my fault, and capo one fret further. At this point there is nothing I can do to save face, anyone who can hear notes knows that the guitarist and the pianist were playing in different keys and everyone watched the guitarist humbly correct himself. All I could do at that point was say, “Sorry, let’s try that again,” and then take it from there,

I know you’re thinking that sounds too similar to many people’s nightmares and it was pretty bad, though not mortifying. You see, while Sean had been preaching on worship, he had not been preaching on forms and styles but rather the heart of worship; the heart of surrender, adoration for and glorying of God (specifically NOT for music itself) and all these other incredible impactful things that made every brother and sister in the congregation very forgiving and patient and focused on God and not on my terrible rookie mistake.

On top of all that, the set finished and I was getting ready to leave the stage when Beth, one of our sweet church secretaries bounded onto the stage, gave me a big kiss on the cheek and nearly tearing up told me how wonderful the worship was, and how great it was to see our teens leading worship. And again I was reminded in such a powerful way that God doesn’t want or need perfection in our service, rather God wants faithfulness. God doesn’t need me to lead worship like Crowder or Tomlin or Stanfill, God wants me to lead worship like imperfect Groves, and to point others to God in my weakness and imperfection.

I am so blessed by today; by my opportunity to lead our body, by the message I heard, by the humility of imperfection, and by the gut-wrenching grace and heart of God that Beth showed to me (and so many more, its a lifestyle for her).

And I’m trying to make you sing

From inside where you believe

Like it’s something that you need

Like it means everything

And I’m trying to make you feel

That this is for real,

That life is happening,

That it means everything…

I’m just trying to make you sing

Can’t express it any better than David Crowder has here

I have been thinking alot about worship lately, specifically musical worship services in church.  Part of this is because while I was in the Philippines they asked me to run sort of a worship workshop for their local church’s worship team (that thought in itself is pretty amazing to me but I guess that’s the type of thing that happens on mission trips).  So, I was thinking about the worship leader’s role and listening to some live Passion and David Crowder* Band music and the thought occurred to me that ideally, the worship leader should function as a more traditional choir or band director.  As the worship team leads their brothers and sisters in in song, it’s not a performance in any sense, but rather, they are the accompaniment for the large choir of the congregation.  So as the worship leader sings and plays, his or her main role is specifically directing and leading the crowd in song.

This means the worship leader has the responsibility to explicitley direct the body in singing, clapping, dancing, shouting, praising, praying, silence, reflection, meditation, scripture reading and all other ways that we corporately worship God.  It was sort of an “Ah-ha” moment for me as I realized all the more that on stage, the leader should clearly communicate musical and spiritual direction to the body just as a choir director would with a choir.  Its such a blessing to see and hear other leaders understand and lead this way, I hope and pray to become this type of worship leader here in my community at FBC.  hope you enjoy these thoughts.  I am writing out an update from my short term mission trip to Cagayan De Oro in the Philippines, and will try posting some of the pics and thoughts here.  May God Bless and Keep You.

I first saw this video on Lars Rood’s Blog, and since I love U2, I loved this.  I checked out more vids and watched the original Greg Lake video also.  Both versions are really powerful, I think, and I love the U2 one just because it rocks, like U2 does (I hope, however, not to take away from Greg Lakes version cause it’s really powerful).   Just thought I would post these vids.

and Greg Lake’s

till trying to figure out one of those last lines

Hallelujah, Noel,

be it heaven or hell

at Christmas we get what we deserve

I get the point Greg lake make’s (which I think U2 echoes), but my big question is what about those who don’t get what they reserve.  what about those who get dumped on, or get used abused by different things and people. just wondering about that.

Sorry folks, but I have to break Sunday up into 2 parts so here is the first part of the day.

We started off Sunday with a slower morning with Ellie.  She got tons of sleep and so did we.  We headed over to the convention for the morning general session and I got to see my first session of worship led by Starfield.  Those guys have such awesome hearts and a wonderful ministry.  They are just a killer band and led us in worship in a really cool way.  I’m jumping ahead of myself though, the morning’s artist was Shane and Shane and they actually also started the time in a worship-ful way.  We also loved these guys because they are some awesome, burly men.  If you hear their music you may be tempted to think they are small, sickly, whiny guys, but they are quite the opposite.  They are fun, funny, burly men who have some killer tenor voices.

The morning’s speaker was Mark Yaconelli.  Mark has a really cool, interesting relationship with youth ministry and with YS.  Mark’s dad, Mike, founded youth specialties with another guy 40 years ago this month, and youth ministry has not been the same.  With that history, one would expect this guy to rebel against ministry and youth ministry and probably YS, but instead he champions youth, ministers to them and participates in YS conferences every year.  What a cool story.

Mark is such a godly man, and he has a beautiful gift and heart for tending souls.  He ministers to souls getting people to experience God in deep, impacting ways, and Sunday’s message was about the soul.  It’s quite interesting and coincidental (I don’t think God makes coincidences, I think they’re purposeful) that Phyllis Tickle’s message the day prior mentioned how one of the issues our generation must wrestle with is that of the soul.  She talked about how our generation must decide what constitutes humanity, and if the soul is where the imago dei resides and if so, what that soul is.

Mark talked about what the soul is.  He talked about the soul holding our sense of wonder, our grief and mourning, and underlying, infiltrating joy.  He showed how his young son started “the slow club” and taught him to slow down and wonder at God and creation.  He talked about his own experiences of grieving over his parents’ divorce, and how he found joy in listening and dancing to disco music in his room.  He finished by sharing how he felt God and God’s joy while ‘boogying’ to that disco music.  He closed up telling a story about a jr high dance, and how no one danced (typical of a jr high dance), and how he was shocked by that, since his only exposure to dancing was his innocent and joyful boogying alone.  The DJ finally stopped the music and turned the lights on, announcing that since no one was dancing, he was going to end the music.  Mike tells how he went and pleaded with the DJ for one more song, that he would dance his heart out if even if no one else would..

He then described the situation, “ The lights went back out,” then the lights in the hall we were in dropped out.  “The disco ball lit up,” then the disco ball on the bands’ stage in our hall lit up.  “The music started bumping,” a disco song was cued up in the hall, and the lights came back up to reveal Mark changed into a disco shirt and pants, and he started dancing his heart out!!!  He was boogying classic, joyful, disco moves with a giant, sincere smile on his face.  The moment was so moving that about a dozen people in the crowd made their way up to the stage and started dancing with him.  As the song finished and the dancers started moving off the stage, you could still see Mark Yaconelli with a giant smile on his face, high-fiving and hugging the other dancers he’d never before met.

Starfield was on stage, and the leader singer said, “How do you follow that?” and simply began the worship set.  It was a great time of worship.

Well, I promised some forthcoming substantial blog posts and I apologize because this is not one of them, instead this is a review of John Mayer’s most recent album, sharing the title of this post.  So from now on my reviews, both literature and music will bear the title’s of the specific work, thus the above title.  Well, here we go (I also start off by explaining the reasoning for my reviewing on this site)…

In attempts to increase my written work output, as well as improve my own creativity, discipline and writing quality, I have decided not only to review the books I am currently reading through, but also new music I hear and or purchase.  Anyway, that being said I will start by reviewing my most recent musical purchase, John Mayer’s Where the Light Is; Live in Los Angeles.  Mayer’s website says that the album was recorded in Los Angeles on December 8, 2007 at the Nokia Theatre LA.  The album is a 22 song set and lasts for 2 full hours.
I will make no apologies in my love for this album.  I am impressed by the innovative format Mayer presents to the audience.  The show starts with a classic acoustic set with 5 songs that should please his pop-loving fans.  He opens with a mellow, jazzy version of Neon, moves into a mellow version of Stop This Train, and then introduces many listeners to In Your Atmosphere, an acoustic ballad with incredible guitar rhythms and melodies.  From there, a second guitar joins him and adds some twangy slides to Daughters.  He finishes the acoustic set with an impressive cover of Free Fallin’.
Mayer begins the second set with a rockin cover of BB King’s Everyday I have the Blues.  This loud and grooving number starts his trio set, where he plays the next 8 songs with his Trio (bassist Pino Palladino, and Drummer Steve Jordan).  The set functions as a similar but updated version to the Trio’s album Try! Performing many of the same songs, but updating with variations. Anyway, the set continues with another cover, Wait Until’ Tomorrow is again awesome, and that leads into their previous single, Who Did You Think I Was.  The Trio moves into Come When I Call, a classically inspired number that evokes classic trio blues, then moves to a funkier version of Good Love Is On The Way, followed by their slow blues number, Out Of My Mind (a song you get by only purchasing the album) and they rock the song for 10 minutes of slow blues.  They finish the trio set with their upbeat blues numbers Vultures and Bold As Love.
The third and final set arrives in similar upbeat bluesy style as his full band plays Waitin’ On The World To Change.  The blues feel continues with Slow Dancing in a Burning Room, then the band changes the feel and jumps into Why Georgia, channeling his earlier acoustic-pop work.  They keep a the acoustic pop style by playing The Heart of Life, then switch back to their grooving, rocking blues with a cover of Ray Charles, I Don’t Need No Doctor.  They then move into a set from Continuum, as the play Gravity, I Don’t Trust Myself (With Loving You), Belief, and I’m Gonna Find Another You.  The style of the last four songs also channels the feeling of Continuum, providing the blues base, with pop and rock variances and layers.
Again, my opinion is incredibly biased, I love John Mayer’s music and I love it even more as he has begun exploring the classic blues style.  This album, I feel combines everything that Mayer fans hope for, with the three sets, two hours of melt-your-face-guitar rock and blues, with Mayer playing on both his acoustic and electric guitars.  His lyrics and vocals also channel blues greats of the past, adding a more soulful quality than his earlier stuff.  I listen to this album often and I love it more every time I hear it.  I personally recommend listening to the whole album loudly on some quality speakers with plenty of bass.  So there is my first review and I hope it proves to be a little informative for you readers.

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