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I'm a stay-at-home Dad suffering from Fibromyalgia. I homeschool my daughter and lead worship at my church. I'm also a gamer and a geek and proud of it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Worship Wednesdays: Shout to the Lord

I was rereading my copy of Biblical Foundations for Worship Leadership by Dr. Randy Quackenbush and was once again reminded of Principle #4: Lifting the Voice. Dr Quackenbush makes it a point to take us to one of my favorite verses, Psalm 46:10.

Be still and know that I am God,
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth! Psalm 46:10

This verse it seems is taken by many as a guideline for the volume of praise. But lets look at the context of the chapter. The verses preceding this verse talk about natural disasters and nations going of to war, and then God breaks forth telling us to be still. To me it's like God is say, "Hey, chill out, and stop worrying. I got this!" To me this is not a call for God's people to praise him in a soft voice. I've talked about reverence being  of utmost importance when it comes to worship, but a thorough study of scripture shows that the standard volume for praise is loud.

Shout to God with cries of Joy Psalm 47:1b
Shout with joy to God, all the earth! Psalm 66:1

And I could go on and on. Now there are times that call for quiet meditation and even silence, but if Scripture is going to be our guide, then we should "shout for joy" for all that God has done for us.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Managing Mondays:Orchard Chicken Salad

Orchard Chicken Salad

This is one of the few chicken salads my wife will eat. She really doesn't like celery so I tried to think of another way to add some crunch to my chicken salad. I know she likes dried cranberries and apples so I mixed a few into a smaller batch and it was a great hit.


2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (grilled and cubed)
2 apples (cored pealed and diced)
1 cup dried cranberries coarsely chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Italian Dressing


Mix all the ingredients together except the Italian Dressing in a large bowl until well combined. Add Italian Dressing gradually to taste.

This is great both on its own or on a sandwich.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Worship Wednesdays:The Joy of the Lord is My Strength

Intellectually I understand that happiness and joy are not the same things. Happiness is conditional, dependent on the situation of the moment. Joy on the other hand is said to transcend circumstances. Like I said I understand this in my head, but I never really experienced it in practice. That is until my Dad got sick.

It was during those months that my Dad was bouncing from Nursing Home to Nursing Home with brief hospital stays in between, that I began to understand what that joy really felt like. I realized that one can only experience the Joy of the Lord when we find ourselves solely dependent on the Lord. 

Our Joy comes from being satisfied in God. Loving God more than anything in the world, and being content in what God has done in our lives, is a great way to cultivate Joy in our lives. And God's Joy will give us comfort and strength in our time of need. It is for this reason that those who trust in God can still "sing for joy" when faced with trials and sorrows.

One needs to remember though that Joy is never at the expense of reverence. Psalm 2:11 commands us to "Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling." Our joy is never an excuse to approach the throne of God with anything other than great reverence and awe.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Managing Mondays: Recycled Organization

So, I was thinking about what to write for today's article when it hit me. I haven't really talked about organization in a while. With that in mind I want to talk about re-purposing existing storage solutions. You know those items that helped you stay organized and for one reason or another are now obsolete. For example, we are currently in the middle of rearranging our living space in order to accommodate an adopted child in our future. To that end my daughter's room has gotten some lovely hand-me-down furniture from her Great Grandmother and her old furniture has headed off into storage, or at least most of it. One item that she had was a grid shelving system that could be reconfigured in numerous ways.

Well as she no longer needs this item, and it will not really fit in the extra bed room, it is going into storage, well at least most of it is. I've been thinking about getting a grid to place on the pantry door in our kitchen to hang our pots and pans on. (They take up far too much space in our cabinets.) When I was taking the shelves apart I thought that these just might work. So laying them flat and reinforcing the connectors with some twist-ties I was able to create a flat grid to place on the door. I used an existing over the door coat rack to hang it in place and then purchased some S-hooks from the hardware section at Walmart and well viola:

It is functional and looks great and the best part is it only cost me around 10 bucks as I already had the coat rack and the twist-ties.

So, have you ever re-purposed your old storage solutions or other items. If so leave a comment and let me know.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Worship Wednesdays: PraiseTools.com REVIEW

I had been looking around for a cost effective solution for distributing our weekly set lists to the members of our worship team. I looked at a lot of free and subscription based solutions and finally found one that did everything I wanted and needed it to do. That solution is PraiseTools.com.

This FREE website offers a great way to store your database of chord charts plus gives you the option of transposing the charts to any key you want (major keys only but if you know the relative major of the minor key it works just fine.) It also tracks the last time a song was played and which songs you play most often.

By entering the members of your team and their e-mails you can then assign which team members will be playing for each individual service and send them an e-mail with a link to the charts for that particular services or event. This way my team becomes responsible for maintaining their own music and updating their books with any missing or changed songs.

The system also allows you to enter the songs CCLI number and can retrieve all the pertinent copyright information for the song. It then populates those fields automatically for you saving time when entering new songs into your database. Of course you can always search through the sites top 100 songs being used by the community and add those songs to your own list. I find that feature amazing as I can see what songs are being used by other churches.

Right now the service is in Beta and is free but there are plans to add a subscription based service with additional functionality in the future. I've been using the system since the alpha release and I have to say that for a Free service it outshines even some of the subscription based sites out there. I just can't say enough about the system and the technical support has been very good about getting back to me on any issues I have encountered. Overall I'd have to give it two big thumbs up.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Managing Mondays: Teaching Character

My Pastor started a new series of lessons on Wednesday night. The first lesson was about "Living with Character." That got me thinking about teaching character to our children. He based his lesson on the Beatitudes, and I thought that would be a great thing to teach to our children. Then it dawned on me, how many of us have actually studied the Beatitudes ourselves. I studied them a long time ago, but truth be told I have seldom looked at them since.

So I have decided that I will start a series of my own on the Beatitudes and how to teach them to our children. I think this is probably one of the most imortant things we can teach our children.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Worship Wednesdays:Serve with Fear and Rejoice with Trembling

The attitude in which we approach God is a direct reflection of our hearts as worshipers. As God initiates His revelation to man, man responds in worship. The proper response is exemplified by the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 6. When overwhelmed by God's presence, He cries "Woe is me." When was the last time you approached God and realized you were undone and unclean. Ultimately we need to remember to be humble when approaching God's throne, for true worshipers are marked by their humility expressed as genuine reverence.

"Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling" Psalm 2:11

The "fear" of the Lord is more accurately referred to as "awe." When a healthy respect for God intersects with our joy over what He has done, we begin to understand what that verse means. Consider the women at the empty tomb in Matthew 28:8-20 They were overcome with both fear and joy at the Resurrection.

This is the proper response when ever we approach God's throne as it is through His mercy we can enter his presence. Humility is directly linked to a heart that is grateful. The converse is also true that a prideful heart cannot appreciate God's mercy. A worshiper should take time to dwell upon this reality on a regular basis.

If we want God to move mightily in our services we need to keep Christ as the center of those services. I firmly believe that in order to do that we need to maintain a sense of awe and reverence in regards to his mighty work Salvation.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Managing Mondays: History Pockets Review

I absolutely love arts and crafts type projects to reinforce what we are learning. Throw that together with my love of history and I just could not get enough of History Pockets. Each workbook in this series comes with full instructions to create a series of pockets made out of construction paper. Each pocket is devoted to one aspect of the historical period or civilization being studied (i.e. while studying Greece there are pockets for History, Politics, Military, etc.) The workbooks contain all the reproducible sheets for all the projects as well as a list of all the additional supplies needed for those projects.

The Workbooks themselves come in two categories based on grade level (1-3 and 4-6) and cover a wide range of historical civilizations and time periods with multiple workbooks devoted to the different stages of American History. The pages are fully reproducible and the workbooks are also available in PDF format so you can print them out as you need them.

I actually used these in conjunction with our primary history curriculum in a similar fashion to a lapbook and the results were amazing. I highly recommend them.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Worship Wednesdays: Keeping the Next Generation

There is a trend among churches that has gone on for a long time. It separates and segregates us by age and/or generation. Why do we tend to relegate our children and youth to second class Christian status? We provide our children with watered down Bible stories that entertain and keep them quiet and out of trouble. Some churches even send the kids out of the sanctuary entirely. I've heard stories from families who have visited other churches where they were actually asked to leave because they didn't want to put their newborn in the nursery. Then there are churches where the children never participate in the "adult" service at all having a Mega Kid's Church or Super Church where everything is high energy and Fun and Games.

Now don't get me wrong I'm not against Children's Church. I think it has its place in educating and discipling our children, but I don't think children should never be a part of the a regular service. They need to see what church is really like, and they need to participate in those services, not just watch. How do we do that though? The answer is actually simpler than you might think.

  1. Have the Kids stay in the sanctuary during the music portion of the Worship Service.
  2. Have children, partnered with and adult, act as greeters and ushers. (Kids can hand out bulletins just as easily as most adults and in some cases even better.)
  3. Have them participate as part of the Worship Team or start a children's or mixed age choir to do special music for the offertory.
Our treatment of Youth is even worse at times in that Youth Groups tend to also be high impact and then we expect our teens to sit and be silent during Sunday Morning Services. Some churches even have separate services for their youth on Sunday mornings. Then when they turn 19 or 20 we expect them to start acting like adults and sit in the regular service. Again we need to engage this generation or we will lose them. A staggering number of teens leave the church soon after entering college, and very few if any come back after college. So how do we solve this problem, the solution is simple.

  1. Youth need to feel connected to the church so get them involved. (the first thing I did when I took over Worship at our church was to invite some of our youth to sing with us on stage.)
  2. let them know they matter and solicit input from them. They're a part of the church as well.
  3. Encourage them to become Junior Members. They need the sense of ownership.
  4. Protect them from people, who may or may not be well intentioned, who try to brush them aside. (for example when I brought the youth up on stage that first Sunday, Some folk question why they were up there, and stated point blank that they shouldn't be allowed on the stage. We did correct those individuals, gently of course, and now people asked where the youth are when they aren't on stage.
Overall if we don't want to lose the next generation we need to give them a reason to stay. After all, and this goes for children, youth, and even adults, God didn't save us to warm a pew. So get the younger generations involved. If you have budding musicians have them play with you on Sunday Morning (especially those trumpet and flute players.) Have the youth work in your sound booth with the presentation software or even the light and sound boards (Both great skills that can go on college applications). Have the children that have outgrown Children's Church become helpers instead. The possibilities are endless but each requires one thing, a little of our time invested in them.