Friday, September 22, 2006


I found a new take on musicians this week in Scripture that I'd like to share. We all know there are a million different styles of music, and we also know that music is powerful enough to split churches, separate close friends, bring people togehter, create emotion, and on and on. At River Stone, we don't believe in sacred and secular, and over the past few years we have covered plenty of songs that wouldn't be considered "Christian." We based that on Acts 17. When Paul preached on Mars Hill, he quoted poets of that time. Well, today, musicians are the modern day poets. In lyrics of mainstream music, you find the heart of mainstream culture. In mainstream culture you find people who need Jesus. Our job is to help people connect the dots that show them Jesus. Music is a very powerful tool. So, that's what we already know.

Now, you may be wondering what Louis Armstrong has to do with this, and the answer is nothing. He's just a great musician whose picture I came across. Ok - here's the new stuff. In 1 Chronicles, David is preparing for his death and departure. He's filling all the positions to fnish what he started. The main task at hand is the construction of God's temple which was going to be the task of his son, Solomon. Now, to give him a headstart, he's appointing people to do everything related to the building of the temple. One of the areas he's preparing for is the music. He appoints musicians. In this time, musicians were very important. Even in armies, the band would go out front. They would motivte the men in battle, they would lead the charge. They understood the power of music. Now, what I learned goes even further than that. It says that David and the chiefs set apart some guys who prophesied with lyres, with harps, and with cymbals. I never thought of that really. I've run across plenty of artists who have a prophetic flare - Derek Webb, Keith Green, Delirious, Johnny Cash, Bono for example, but I never knew that was part of the assignment for temple musicians.

As I think about church music, I'm often saddened by how good it makes you feel and how little it challenges you in your faith. Today we gravitate towards the songs we like and discard what we don't like. It sounds a lot like the prophets in the OT. God told Isaiah - these people aren't going to listen to what you have to say. Think about music you don't like. Could it be the voice of God presenting something to you that forces you more into honesty that blind happiness. What if church musicians were more of a mindset of delivering the message God wants - even if that means most people are not going to listen? After all, don't we write songs in such a way that the most important thing is for people to listen - to have a shot at airplay.

I wonder if the most important things we need to hear are what we don't automatically like. I wonder if the musical prophets of our day aren't on the radio. I wonder what church music would be like if their intent was to prophesy. I wonder if anyone's going to listen anyway.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Breakfast with Martin

Today is a day I've been looking forward to for a very long time. Norman told us that he would try to arrange a time for us to meet Martin if he was in town. Needless to say, his tour schedule is always a challenge to work around. I really tried not to get my hopes up. Even until Thursday, I was anticipating a cancellation - after all he is famous and very busy. There's a lot of expectation that goes into meeting one of your heroes, and sometimes we hold them at a level they can't possible live up to. Well, I'm happy to say that Martin Smith is a hero that met every expectation.

For those of you who aren't sure who Martin is, he is the lead singer of Delirious. He has penned, what are in my opinion, the best worship songs ever written (I Could Sing of Your Love, Shout to the North, Deeper, Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble, My Glorious, Majesty, Rain Down, etc.). I spent an hour and a half with him this morning (he only committed to an hour, but stayed longer) over pancakes and coffee. Ok - now for the rest ...

This man is humble, respectful, wise, polite, a deep thinker, discerning, and a lot of other great words that I could put here. We talked about worship, about the church, about the band, about his family, about our church, about missions, and much more. He initiated questions about our home, church, and family, and he followed up with questions that let you know he really cared about us. He spoke profound words about worship and the church, and he used many of the buzzwords we use - especially "doing life together". Ever since we started River Stone, it's been refreshing to find people who are like-minded who give credibility to what we do and how we do it. I never thought that Martin Smith would be one of those people. The things that are important to us are important to him. Many of my soapbox issues were things he's passionate about. I couldn't believe how great our time together was. The tragedy was we had to kick him out because of plans that we had previously made. Time with Martin cut short. But, we were invited to his father-in-law's birthday party (who happens to be the pastor of the church here), and we found out "the band", as they're referred to here, will be leading worship on Sunday at Arun. They haven't led here since July, and these days it is a rare occasion. The Lord has smiled upon us and blessed us more than we ever could've imagined. He has confirmed every step of this trip, and it's been amazing. Did I mention that Steven Curtis Chapman will be at church on Sunday? We will be the only other Americans in the place.

I know that I've rambled on and haven't made the most sense, but I'm really excited about what the Lord is doing in our relationship with Arun Community Church. Every few months I get very weighed down by the weight of ministry, and times such as this are invaluable to my own personal rejuvenation and refreshment. Please continue to pray that God would continue to reveal himself and how this relationship is supposed to manifest itself in the future of my life and River Stone's ministries.

On a personal note, pray for us as we travel to London on Sunday night to spend the night. This will be our only chance to see London. We will be traveling by train from the Southern Coast of England to Victoria Station. We will spend one night at the cheapest hotel we could find and return back to Norman and Grace's Monday evening before we get up super early on Tuesday to fly home. The unnerving thing is that we will be touring London on 9/11, and with the recent terrorist activity in the city, it is easy to feel anxious. However, we know that we won't necessarily have many other opportunities to see the city. Pray also for us as we begin to be aware that we've been away for Jake for 5 days. We miss him, and he's getting over some congestion in his chest. Also, pray for Grace. She's struggling with polymyalgia. It is a disease of the nerve endings that causes her a lot of pain. You would never know she had it, but she is in a lot of pain. Norman and Grace are fasting breakfast and lunch every Wednesday - trusting God for her healing. We were able to stand alongside of them in that this week, and I got to pray over Grace for her healing. What a blessing it was. I wanted to share that in case you would like to fast and pray for her. Also, we are suffering from jet lag, but haven't really had time to be affected by it. We've been sleeping just fine (in spite of no A/C), but are overwhelmed by sleepiness a few times a day.

So, that's probably it for now. There is more to tell than I can tell. There are more thoughts to unpack that I haven't even begun to process. I could go home today completely enriched and refreshed, but we've got 4 more days. Tomorrow, we're going to a medieval castle and to the pastor's birthday party. Sunday, we'll go to church in the morning and to London in the evening. Monday, we'll see as much of London as we can see. Tuesday, we leave Norman and Grace's at 6am to catch our plane. We're excited about the rest of our trip, and we are trusting that God has plenty more for us.

We love you and miss you guys very much. We hope you're having a great week!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Made It

Well, Holly and I made it to the UK. The 9+ hour flight was not so bad. We only slept a few hours and arrived here at 9:45am. We've already walked up and down the seashore in Rustington where Norman and Grace live. We've celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary, and we've planned out the rest of our week. It's hard to believe that we're in another country, but it's truly great to see what God has planned for us.

Please continue to pray for us. Tomorrow could be very difficult in the jetlag department. Also, pray for Jacob. We had to leave him sick in the care of his Nanny, Pawpaw and Grandma. It's hard for us to be away from him while he's not feeling well.

That's all for now.

Blessings ...