Giving 

I wanna talk about giving. I wanna talk about why it’s important. I wanna talk about what it is that stops us from think of others before thinking of ourselves. Mostly, I “want” to define and explain the difference between a “want” and a “need” because you do “need” to know.

Giving is so important because people are in need. Giving is so important because it dissolves the lie that “I…am more important than anyone else.” It gives you a perspective of love, compassion, kindness, gentleness, patience… These are things you can’t receive by thinking only of yourself. Giving promotes freedom of self and life to all. 

We all have heard the saying, “There’s no “I” in team,” yes? Of course. Does everybody know what it means? Sure. Does everyone apply it to their life? (It’s a gamble but I’m gonna go ahead and say it…) No. But if the saying makes sense why isn’t there a 100% life application. Well, the truth is we all say and think things everyday that we don’t truly believe in. Things that are nothing more than a simple “thought,” “expression,” or “turn-of-phrase.” That has to stop if we are to be taken seriously as people of integrity! 

Here’s the trend:

1) The thought of people in need is heart wrenching. 

2)The idea of giving is warm and fuzzy.

3) The act of actually meeting these people AND giving them of ourselves makes us head for the hills. 

It’s not enough to just hear and love ideas. It’s not enough to say “we should do something.” Those of you who do not go without have the privilege and responsibility to do somebody else some good. To love your fellow man. Why it’s so rare is beyond me… but I have a theory.

Let’s say 10 days before Christmas someone will walk by a man on the street without a jacket, see his need, and never meet it. Why? Because I need my jacket (even though I have one at home that I could go home and get. But if I do that it’ll put ME behind schedule…etc). We talk ourselves out of the privilege to be good… What a waste… We don’t like being uncomfortable. We buy a house, put up a fence, drive a nice car, adopt fashion statements based upon worldly popularity, and reserve a new day’s smile, waive, and greeting “😊 *waives* Good morning, Bob!” for people we know… Meanwhile, we simply make an attempt to tolerate everyone else. Apparently, Bob is a very privileged man… But, I digress… the one who lives a life of giving gives because it is their privilege. “This man needs a jacket.”

That’s just an example of material. What I’ve noticed is that through giving the people (giver and receiver) gain more than material things or money… Watch this video and tell me you notice besides what was handed to the man…

A want is something to be desired. Example: Television

A need is that which we cant live without. Example: Oxygen

Selfishness is the enemy of giving.

-Stephen-

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Leaving a Legacy

After church this morning the entire congregation walked over to the new church building, still under construction, with scriptures and sharpies in hand. The outer building is covered but inside is bare. Together, as the body of Christ, we wrote the Word of God on anything we could find. Some wrote out names and dated it and some did not. Some wrote prayers and thanked Jesus. Some just prayed for the foundation, present, and future. 
This new building is for the present as well as our children’s children. As pioneers of this new building we have a responsibility to ensure that we leave a legacy built upon the exact same foundation and principles of which ALL things were made. The Word of God. It’s of ETERNAL importantance. Someday we will all be gone and the ones left here will be in charge.
 The Legacy that will carry on is the Word of God. Not a legacy on sand but solid ground to stand through and to the end. Though our life may fade God’s love endures forever. Remember that a legacy is passed on far beyond your days. Consider the world without you. 
What in all this world is forever and always? 
What can you do to be a light to those you leave behind? 
What will be your legacy? 

For my Church it will be what it has always been… The greatest legacy ever told… The legacy of Jesus Christ and The Living Word of God!
Thank you, Jesus for your example and legacy filled with faith, hope, and the greatest love EVER known.
Amen!!

Your “Normal” is Amazing!

I had a random thought the other day about being back in college and in my Athletic Training clinical setting. Particularly women’s gymnastics. As a student trainer you are to constantly keep an extremely observant eye on the athletes in your clinical before, during, and after practice or contest. Watching athletes do what they do is really quite incredible. These girls, at times, seemed to ignore gravity with how they would jump, flip, spin, and twirl through the air with ease. Not only that, but it seemed as though they had unlimited anatomical flexibility. Though there were also times that gravity as well as their bodies painfully reminded them they were mortal. Even still they really amazed us non flexible types!

Anyway, one afternoon a student asked one of the gymnasts what it was like to be so flexible. Their response was this; “I dunno… normal I guess… I’ve been this way since I can remember… Personally, I don’t understand how you aren’t this flexible!” What a mind-blowing and intriguing response! But I find myself in this position all the time as a musician. There are things I can play very well on the guitar that some (including other musicians) are completely flabbergasted by. To me, what I do isn’t a big deal. I’m sixteen years into it, I barely remember what it’s like to NOT be able to play that way. Much less play like I did when I couldn’t play like I play now. In any case it occurs to me that we amaze one another by what we take for granted in ourselves…our “normal.” Reminds me of “KungFu Panda” when Shi-Fu sees Po (who is not at all known for his KungFUness) doing a perfect split in the corner of the pantry while eating a bowl Almond cookies. Shi-Fu, in shock, tells Po what he just did. Po,doing a perfect Kung Fu split near the ceiling, responds with this “What? This? No… I’m just… gettin a cookie…” Po was just being Po.

So what does this mean for you? You are made unique from everyone else. Some “uniqueness” is made in greater harmony with the world and others not-so-much. Your abilities may not always be fairly measured by the standards of the world, but that’s not important. You have talent in something. The tricky part is discovering what that is, embracing it, and maybe even, in the event that your talent isn’t what you expected it to be, coming to terms with it.

How do you go about doing this? Well, have you ever seen “Yes, Man” with J. Carey? Not really for kids by the way. But, the movie is about saying “YES” to new opportunities. Take guitar lessons. Take time to teach instead of doing it yourself for a change. Take a class to learn a language. Do a wine tasting. Water ski. Volunteer. Accept the dare to eat that strange fuzzy/chunky/lumpy/green piece of whatever-it-is that’s been under your dogs water bowl for God knows how long… please don’t do that. Look, just saying to be willing. Don’t allow the thought of “I cant.” or “I don’t know how.” stop you. There was a time (sixteen and a half years ago) when I had no clue how to play the guitar or when my gourmet masterpiece hot dogs in mac and cheese. Would you believe at one point I didn’t know what a spoon was? Make an attempt! “Normal” is what you already know… but to someone else it may be simply amazing and inspiring.

Try something new this week. Something good. Something that will make you grow and, dare I say, make your brain go beyond “Zombie Mode.” You. Just. Never. Know… you may conquer fear in this simple process. 🙂

Peace and Love to you all,

Stephen

Desire

I’ve noticed the last few days that when I really want something it consumes my mind. How did I notice this? Well, as soon as I got what I wanted my mind was free. Before that I just couldn’t help myself. To be clear, I bought an amp. A NICE amp… Thats what I like, but for others it could be a 67 Shelby Mustang,  68 Camero, money, or virtually anything under and above the sun. 

Desire is physical and spiritual. Desire can be a very wonderful ally and an even crueler temptress. Either way desire is powerful. So powerful that you never are its master. The only way to escape or satiate desire is to turn away from it or give in to it. I know I make it sound awful and evil… but it doesn’t have to be. By the end of this I hope all who read this will also better understand the importance of words. 

This is the basic definition of Desire:

– To long for. To hope for.

I will dissect this further by talking about long and hope. First the word long.

Long – to feel a strong desire or craving especially for something not likely to be attained.” – wishing with one’s whole heart and often a striving to attain 

<longed for some rest>. 

 yearn suggests an eager, restless, or painful longing 

<yearned for a stage career>. 

pine (not the tree) implies a languishing or a fruitless longing for what is impossible 

<pined for a lost love>. 

hunger and thirst imply an insistent or impatient craving or a compelling need 

<hungered for a business of his own> 

<thirsted for power>.

You can see how easy it is to take for granted the meaning of the sentence “To long for.”

Now we will look at hope. Which I would think would be more understood by most… we shall see.

Hope – to want something to happen or be true and think that it could happen or be true.

– to cherish a desire with anticipation

– to desire with expectation of obtainment

– to expect with confidence : TRUST

– to hope without any basis for expecting fulfillment 

So long is a word used to explain hopeless wanting… and wanting in hope is the joyful expectation of obtaining without the any promise. Long is experienced in pain and hope is experienced in love.  

Thus the culmination of what is “Desire.” 

So much is said in that little dictionary definiton of the word “Desire.” And even though the old saying is “Less is more” I tend to believe that the “less” is a privilege for those who understand the “more.” I’ve given you the “more” here. I said all that so that the “less” you are about to read can be understood with greater conviction.

Our Heavenly Father wants to bless us with the true desires of our heart… because you are the desire of His.

All definitions from ” http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary

Keep the ball Rollin

Okay, so it’s been two weeks since I wrote anything. This blog stuff is more difficult than I thought it would be and to be honest, I’m not enjoying it all that much. I’m failing here and it makes me want to give up. I should just let the TV have my brain back before I sprain it or something else not medically possible… But I have to remind myself that I did want a challenge, right? Right.

On the bright side, I have discovered that the issue isn’t having lots of thoughts to write about. The issue is thinking them through and (as much I am able) maturing them. That said, I just had an idea for a quick lesson on having patience while still being able to keep the ball rollin! 🙂

About 10 years ago God decided to let me in on a little secret… He has quite the sense of humor. It’s true. Some of you already know that. So here is where God’s sense of humor taught me one of the greatest lessons of my life.

All of my friends will tell you how incredibly forgetful I am. Chances are if I come over and hangout at your place Im leaving something there for you to remember me by. Unless it’s my car keys… I’ll be back pretty quick for those ;). But I used to get so frustrated and embarrassed with forgetting things here, there, and wherever. Lord, Almighty thinks it’s funny and I’m all “Really? What’s your problem?” I mean, I even left my wallet on top of my car once… WHO DOES THAT!? I picked it up at the police station. Everything was there except my cash, but I was happy that was all they took. 

Another time I left a guitar effects processor on top my car. The little red POD had a tad more weight to it than the wallet and didn’t come crashing down to the trunk and slide across the road from momentum til I hit about 35mph. As crazy as it sounds it still works to this day… And in fact, the youth playing on our worship team now has it. 
Anyway, my point is this, through my faults God taught me patience and humility. For myself and for everyone else. I have no reason to ever forfeit patience for or because of anyone else. 9 out of 10 times what I have misplaced or lost has found its way back when I needed it the most. I keep movin and things just jump right back into my arms. I still lose things often but God has showed me how to keep the ball rollin simply by being patient. After all, I can never lose Jesus so what could I lose that can’t be replaced? :).

Has God ever played jokes on you for good reason? What have you learned about yourself through this method?

Be a mentor. You deserve it!

I’ve learned a valuable lesson and skill in the past few years serving at Old Fort Church. Mentorship. It’s exampled all throughout the Bible. Elijah and Elisha, Noah to his family, Jesus to the disciples, the apostles and disciples to each other, and the great commission Jesus charged us with to all nations. Jesus’ endorsement alone speaks volumes of the importance of mentorship.

Whether it was at church, work, or wherever, we have all taken on the role of mentor or been mentored in some way. We can’t escape it. It’s part of who we are as people and as Christians. Yet it seems a lot of times we are so quick to send some one in need on to the next person, who will send them on to the next person, etc. It’s sad and it’s missing the mark. Mentorship is so important. How important is it? It’s important enough to throw out our own personal agenda… even for just a moment. It may be inconvenient but an inconvenient moment for you can be life changing moment for someone else. So how can we do this? Embrace the distraction from your agenda. When you let go of what things “are supposed to be” and face them as they “really are” embracing the chaos will just kind of happen. Embrace the blessing of mentorship because it’s something you GET to do. It’s a privilege. Here’s the key… remember that mentoring isn’t about “me.” It’s about “them.” Interestingly enough, something amazing will happen if you give and give freely. You’ll discover that blessings come in twos and you receive just as much as you gave. I’ll leave you with an example from my own experience.

 

I had been praying for God to send me a music mentor for a long time. Someone to teach me more than I could figure out on my own. I asked people I knew and people I didn’t know to teach me and grow me into a better musician and worship leader. No one ever had the time. It was discouraging. Eventually, God put a youth, who had been at my church for a quite a while, right in my path. I was so focused on getting what I prayed for (me being the student to another mentor) that it took me a while to finally see that God was asking ME to be a mentor to this individual. This was about two or so years ago. Today he is and has come so very far musically and spiritually. And I have learned more musically than I thought I ever would. As I continue to give I never cease to receive from God, especially from the youth who are ready to learn and grow. Even though it’s not at all in the way I imagined it God blessed me for my obedience and taught me his way. Believe me… You’ll always receive more by doing things His way.

In closing, by mentoring this individual God has entrusted me to a degree of leadership and it’s been an honor and my pleasure to serve God and the fine young musician who has been playing in our worship team. Don’t pass a moment up to mentor. You are turning away irreplaceable blessings that God wants you to have and squelching the movement of the Holy Spirit in your life. Mentorship is not only an honor and a privilege, it’s also something everyone deserves! If someone is brave enough to reach up then someone needs to be brave enough to reach down.

Do you have an example of a time when you mentored or were mentored? How has it changed your life?

Me. Today’s Music. Worship.

First I’ll talk about myself. Hi I’m Steve. I am dating the most adorable girl ever, but still have to check that “single” box in all my important documents… for now. I am a Christian. More of that will be apparent as I continue blogging. I am also a guitarist and a bit of a gear head. I love nerdy things like Batman, Zelda, coffee, taking things apart, and putting them back together… though I have discovered that some things wont go back together. Oh well, at least I learned something, right? In any case, I’ll get to the point. Some thoughts came through to me today that I know I’ve had before… so I’m gonna write them down before I wander off from them again. Good and new habits are hard to stick to… So please pray for me.

Music versus Worship. I notice an endless war that wages between Christians on whether or not today’s “worship” music is godly or ungodly. Personally, I feel this is a simple thing to answer. I’ll just give my opinion and be on the lookout for some well thought out and insightful responses. Bring it!

What is it that makes music worshipful? The instrument? The venue? The time of day? The key? The guitar riff? The words? What!?

Here’s where I’m coming from… I was asked one morning before I played the set at church why I never smiled. I hadn’t really thought about it, but was instantly consumed with the idea… My first thoughts were “Am I not worshipful if I’m not smiling?” “I love playing why am I not smiling?” “Maybe I looked angry or constipated up in front of the congregation? How distracting!” The more I thought about it the more I began to see why I wasn’t smiling. I didn’t know the songs very well and had my face glued to the lead sheet. No wonder I can’t concentrate or focus on being worshipful when I’m focused on that. My attention was severely divided. Excuses, excuses right? Well there are a lot of reasons for my unpreparedness so for now I’ll just be accountable. In any case, sometimes I get so lost in my instrument that at times I’m unaware of anything around me except the music and my instrument. Even though I may not be smiling I really am in complete unresponsive happiness, joy, excitement, etc… I love what I do. The passion is there. Another thought crossed my mind… I try to be as inconspicuous as possible. I don’t want to be a distraction. So I stray from dancing and rocking out… Honestly, I know it really just depends on the heart and motive of the individual behind the music. Usually, for me, I prefer to close my eyes when I am in worship so I’m not distracted and so no one else is either.  Then I t occurred to me that I’m being watched during worship time. Why? Brothers and sisters when you are in worship please don’t watch the musicians just the leader. If you respect my personal worship space then I’ll respect yours 😉. Amen? It’s your time with Him. Don’t let the musicians be a distraction. In 2 Kings 3:15 Elisha goes into prophetic worship before the Lord… It reads

-“But now bring me a harpist.” While the harpist was playing, the hand of the Lord came upon Elisha.-

The hand of the Lord came upon Elisha. Not the musician. God brought all Worship Leaders to their positions. In worship, your eyes, if they are open, should be on the authority or closed both in praise and worship to the King.

As for the war, it’s silly. Jesus called for unity and for the making of disciples not a war on music. I won’t die on that hill because I don’t have to convince you of this. But I will die for the truth in the death and resurrection of my savior. Don’t be distracted. Be creative with a song you are hearing and don’t conform to the lyrics if you have your own praise to give. It doesn’t matter who wrote the song only what the writing means. Praise God through song or noise. He authorized both. Embrace your heavenly gift whatever it may be. Dont waste your life on nit-picking. Be mindful of and worship the King… In the end you’ll be amazed at how much time you’ve just made worthwhile!

Thoughts? I love discussion.