Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Daddy Date

Tonight I had a great time with my daughter on a daddy date. Since our kids were very young, my wife and I have regularly taken both of them out for a special treat with some one on one time with mommy or daddy.

Tonight, my wife took my son and I had the privilege of spending time with my little girl. I was thinking of the many daddy dates over the years, and reminiscing about how they've gotten progressively more about what she wants and less about what I want, which is pretty cool.

I mean early on when she was a baby, and even a toddler our daddy dates would consist of a stop at Dunkin Donuts, or Starbucks for some much needed caffination for me, and as my daughter kept growing it would include a walk through the mall, a trip to Toys R Us and of course a swing through DQ on the way home.

Tonight was different though, it was pretty amazing when Serena said what she wanted to do for our daddy date. I'll admit I was hoping for something like Outback Steakhouse or Bugaboo Creek, but not this time. Even though her tastes have evolved in her 8 and a half years on this earth, she didn't come back with any of my hopefuls for our date...nope, when asked what she wanted to do for her daddy date she said "I'd like to go to the library!"

It was one of the statements that just spoke volumes about my girl and the kind of character she has, and it really is an attribute that she gets from her mommy that's for sure. She is so sweet, and kind and deeply spiritual. She is just like my wife, and I am so blessed!

In fact in so many ways my daughter is like Bonnie and my son is just like's funny how it works like that some times.

Serena seems very concerned about the future, and Ethan is just the opposite, he lives in the now, and definitely grabs all he can out of every moment.

As I sat there in the library and just watched my daughter read, and thought about how far she has come, and what an amazing future she has before her, I just thanked God for His blessings, and asked Him to continue to lead and guide and protect her.

Now those that know me well, know that probably the last place I'd want to be is in the library. In fact I rarely darkened the doors of those hallowed halls in high school and in college, except for when I was trusting God for a deeper kind of relationship with a girl and I literally prayed that He would lead me to a library girl. Once I actually found the library and went in, boom there she was, and the rest is history!

That was then and this is now, and I'm telling you I had a blast sitting and watching my little girl engrossed in a book. Funny how things change.

As I was sitting there though I had to laugh as I thought about a recent update that my wife wrote to some friends that contrasts the difference between my's what she said...

To Our Friends and Family,
Hi Everyone! I know it's been a long time since I sent an update. Hopefully this one will make it worth the wait - (truth is stranger than fiction sometimes).

First...the family.... Some of you may not know that Serena broke her ankle a week before school started.
She was climbing on the counter to reach our extremely high cupboards, and fell off. And she wasn't even going for anything exciting...just Saltine crackers.
She now has her cast off, and is getting used to walking around without it.

Ethan is loving school. He's such a social butterfly.
The other day, he asked Brent if he could have a "chicken breath" sandwich for lunch.

There is such a big difference between him and Serena. She asked Brent, "When am I going to be old enough to go on missions trips with you?" A second later, Ethan asked, "when am I going to be old enough to play lazer tag?"

Recently, Serena was discussing something very deep and spiritual. At the same time, Ethan was eating a fortune cookie. He pulled the little paper out and said, "oh, look! My lucky numbers!"

It still amazes me how God puts us together. He knows our likes and dislikes, our personality and spiritual gifts. He knows the whole package, in fact he designed us, for His purposes. We're all different, and that's the way it's supposed to be. God is the Master Designer, for that I am truly thankful.

My prayer is that my kids would continue to learn and grow and see God at work in and through them as they progress through life, and that each of us would do the same.
God isn't into cookie cutters, He's into variety, and what He's making is top notch!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Old School

Well, I guess it had to happen sometime, I thought that I was safe, but apparently I was wrong. Being born in the late 60's, living my childhood in the 70's, and being a teen in the 80's all before the age of instant everything (especially photography) I thought I was safe, but again, I was terribly wrong.

Yesterday out of the blue, like a lightning bolt from the past I got a Facebook message that I needed to check out some old pictures from the camp I grew up attending as a child and spent every summer in my teen years on staff as well. Old School pics were now on the internet for all to see.

It was funny scrolling through the photos and laughing at the hairstyles and clothes and Miami Vice suit jackets...I was an absolute dork in those days, but the interesting thing is that I didn't see it that way at all.

Upon looking at the pics I immediately listed my Facebook status as "Brent is realizing all over again that I'm not cool anymore...and according to the camp pics that were posted, It's quite possible I never was."

Anyway, looking at those pics reminded me of some incredible times and also of many of the life changing and direction changing decisions that I made at that place surrounded by friends.

It was pretty amazing to stop and think and process all that I've been through, and what was going on in my life during those summers.

I was dealing with stuff that those guys knew nothing about, and if only I knew then what I know now about how important things like seeking support and encouragement in relationships really is, I just wonder if I could have avoided alot of inner pain.

My teen years were definitely difficult, and full of questions and doubts. As I kept scrolling I kept thinking of all the wresting with God that I did on the shores of that tiny lake in the heart of the Finger Lakes region of NY.

In many ways it was as if my life then was being lived in the wilderness. I was between Canaan and Egypt, kind of wandering and wondering, about God, His Son, The Church, His people, my place within all of it and just basically who I was and why I was here?

Now looking back I can add some more questions...what was I thinking and why was I wearing that?

Well, as I continued my old school trip down memory lane I thought of the lyrics to a song that I've used many times in communicating truths as a Youth Pastor, but now the lyrics reminded me of how I felt as a child and especially a teenager.

The song is called Wilderness by The OC Supertones.

Thanks to these lyrics and some super grainy snapshots from the past, yesterday I was able to flash back to some tough and terrific times all at once. God brought me through the wilderness then, and I'm so glad that when I start to pack my bags and pitch my tent back in it, He uses things from the Old School to bring me back to the present that He is God, and He's still at work!

My prayer is that whether you're in the Old School or the New School, you would realize that every journey has a wilderness...but God doesn't want you to build your house there, keep moving forward with the Master Navigator!

Wilderness, By: OC Supertones

The rain falls on the righteous and the wicked, and mine is not to reason why this is. In this I rest in this I find my refuge, that my thoughts and ways are not His. I spend my life on looking up the answers It’s rare that I can’t find a reason why, but reasons fail at children without mothers His plan is more than I can know.

Have you ever held in doubt what this life is all about, have you questioned all these things that seem important to us? Do you really wanna know or are you a little scared You’re afraid that God is not exactly what you’d have Him be. What should I hold to and what should I do? How do I know if anything’s true? I’m somewhere in-between Canaan and Egypt a place called the wilderness.

I’m not one who always trusts their feelings, I don’t believe in what you’d call blind faith. But faith that you can do all that you promised, and you said it all works for good. It’s safe to say I don’t see the big picture, I can’t see the forest for the trees, and if five hundred lives Were mine to get to know You all could be spent on just this.

God do you really understand what it’s like to be a man? Have You ever felt the weight of loving all the things you Hate? Have You struggled? Have you worried? How can You sympathize?

I have spoken much too soon put my hand over my mouth I can’t contend with You. Your ways are so much higher and we pass through the fire that Christ endured before us when You were in the wilderness.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Immovable - YMInsights Series

One of the things I have the privilege of doing in my ministry is traveling and meeting like minded youth leaders around the world. I love learning and growing with them as we interact around the truths of scripture and the principles of youth ministry.

On my recent trip to Malaysia, I learned so much in such a short period of time it was mind boggling. You see when I teach in the modular program at one of our partner schools, I have to add the dimension of "well, this is how we in the US have discovered ways to do youth ministry, so lets discuss how these tools will work or won't work in your culture."

I love the dialog that ensues, as it is rich, real and full of passion.

In every country I've been in thus far I've witnessed a similar theme among the youth leaders...they love their young people and are tired of the world, culture, and traditions trapping and enslaving them into missing the truths of Jesus.

In this last trip to Malaysia I also heard a reverberating theme of the need for Freedom resounding time and time again.

These leaders are praying about the lack of freedom that exists in their settings.

Countries like Myanmar, Brunai, Sri Lanka, China, India and Nepal were represented in the class, and the cultures and traditions that these youth leaders have to learn to navigate through in order to reach the young people of their culture is just astounding.

Every day I spent with these leaders my heart broke more and more with the lack of freedom they have, but at the same time I was equally fired up and encouraged with the faith and hope they have that Jesus can and will shine through...I'm telling you it was contagious!

The whole time I was there I kept thinking about how fortunate we are in the US with the freedoms we have, and how incredibly privileged we are to be able to stand, sit and kneel whenever we want to in worship of our God.

I did alot of exploring and asking questions, not just about the different religions that are represented in their culture, but actually standing in the very symbols that the people worship in their culture.

One type of temple in particular really nailed me with the fact that everything that it was about, was based on man's belief.

It was the Buddhist temple, and the pictures you see in this post are actually taken from three different temples in a very close proximity to each other. The Chinese Buddhist Temple, The Burmese Buddhist Temple and the Thai Buddhist Temple.

As I was walking and talking with my students I couldn't help but think of a passage in Jeremiah, where the prophet warns the children of Israel against following idols, and the following passage sums up what everything within me wanted to shout to the scores of people who were wandering and worshiping and paying homage to idols and all that those idols stand for.

Jeremiah 10:4-7
4 They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter. 5 Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good." 6 No one is like you, O LORD; you are great, and your name is mighty in power. 7 Who should not revere you, O King of the nations? This is your due. Among all the wise men of the nations and in all their kingdoms, there is no one like you.

With everything inside of me, I wanted to proclaim that truth. There is none like the Lord, He is the one worthy of praise and worship and honor and sacrifice and lifelong dedication, not a created thing that has no power.

As I looked around and watched my students, I could tell they were feeling it as well, and I could tell that they had faces and names of individual young people and family members on their minds as we interacted with what we were experiencing together.

Then when we were on top of the mountain at the Chinese Buddhist temple known as Ke Lok Si, I learned an important piece of information that helped solidify in my mind and heart what my faith in God is all about.

I asked why there was half a statue on top of a pagoda and another very tall statue surrounded by supports going up off in the distance. I was told that the goddess of mercy had been swept away by a mudslide and all they could recover from her demise was the top part which was on the building.

The new one surrounded by supports was being built in a more secure fashion.

That was it for me, my mind and heart praised God right then and there as I realized that He is my strong tower, my rock, my immovable force that is as alive and well today as He was thousands of years ago.

He doesn't succumb to mudslides and earth quakes and forces of nature.

He is the force of Nature!

As I was standing there taking it all in and worshiping God on the very mountain He Created, I thought of the song "Strong Tower" by Kutless and was moved to pray for the many people who are facing tough times, hard decisions, soul shaking questions and doubts, like we all do.

I thought about them and how the words of that song speak the truth that He is the strong tower, the one we can go to, and the one who actually has the power to do something about it, because He is God!

My prayer that day, as well as right now is that we would realize that our God is alive, and well and doing His work in the hearts of His people!

He cannot be moved, and is always ready to be our shelter in time of need.

I encourage you to listen to the words of this song by Kutless (actually there are two songs in the here for the lyrics) and both are all about How incredible God is and how awesome it is to stand in His courts, and His Temple in worship of the living God.

I'm so thankful that we serve a Risen Savior who is IMMOVABLE!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Anything Broken? - Remembering 9/11

Well, here we go again, another year, another surreal remembrance of the the day that I will never forget.

It's been a year since I first posted this article, it is also one of the first ones I wrote in the Lesson Learned series, and one of the first ones that Youth posted as well.

I've written about 24 more since then, so I thought I'd post it again as a glimpse into one of the most amazing ministry times in my life that came through the most incredibly tragic times of my life and the lives of the families I worked with.

Here it is..."Anything Broken?" Remembering 9/11...

This morning (9/11/07) was kind of surreal for me, as I join the rest of the world in remembering the 6th anniversary of 9/11. It really hit me kind of hard as I recalled what happened that fateful day, and how I found out...I was sitting in my office getting ready for one of the four bands that we had booked to do a concert on 9/14 to arrive.

We were hosting a huge concert that upcoming Friday with Five Iron Frenzy and Relient K head lining the show.

I was up to my neck in details that needed to be finalized before they arrived. We were the first stop on their fall tour and made a deal with them to give them all access to our facilities for 3 days to set up their lights, sound, and staging, and there was a ton of stuff my team and I had to do to make that happen.

As I was getting my plan together, the phone rang, it was my wife. She said in a panic filled voice "A plane just ran into the World Trade Center!" I said "what did you say?" and she repeated it.

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Now you need to understand something, we lived about an hour north of NYC, and many of the students who were in our ministry had parents, aunts, uncles, and extended family members who worked in NYC and some at the WTC in particular.

My mind immediately went from detail mode to "what now Lord?" I hung up the phone with my wife and just sat their in stunned silence, when the phone rang again, this time it was one of my youth leaders who said "did you hear about the planes hitting the towers?" I said what do you mean planes?" She said "a second plane just flew into the other tower, we're under attack!"

I was even more stunned and scared and bewildered than just a few minutes earlier. Many questions were flying through my mind...What was happening in our world? What was happening in our city? What was happening in our church? What were we going to do about it with our students? To list a few.

As I was talking with her, another call came in so I put her on hold. It was a call from the manager of Five Iron Frenzy, the headlining band that we were expecting to arrive later that day. They were getting ready to leave Denver and were sent back because all the flights in the US were canceled due to the attack.

In a matter of about 30 minutes my day went from bad to worse as I sat there wondering what we were going to do. The manager said, hey don't worry about the show, the guys and I talked and we want to be there with you guys and minister to the kids...we're going to rent a bus and drive straight through - we'll see you tomorrow!"

I remember hanging up the phone and thinking "now there is a band who is in it for the right reasons." As soon as I hung up with him I heard a scream from down the hall, it was our secretary who had just heard that the first tower had just collapsed!

The rest of the day was a blur, as I fielded calls from parents, students, bands, concert ticket holders, and newspaper reporters.

I was hit head on with a decision that was the furthest from my mind when I first got the news of the attacks...The decision of "should we cancel the concert or not?"

It seemed like the more I fielded calls, the more irate people got when I answered their question with an honest "of course were going to have the concert."

If you recall there was a period of time shortly after the attacks where everyone was canceling everything.

I mean the Yankees, Mets, Giants & Jets all canceled games (in fact the Super bowl used to be the last Sunday in January but is now in February because they canceled football games).

I was finding out how big of a deal it was for us to go forward with the concert. I got nasty calls, e-mails & conversations from people who couldn't believe that we were still going forward with the show in light of the tragic events that had just taken place.

Over the next two days the bands, roadies, and equipment all arrived by bus (not tour bus, not the Madden Cruiser...Yellow Cheese school bus!).

I couldn't believe soon as the crew arrived I told them about all of the hate filled input we were getting. The guys couldn't believe it either.

Then Reese (the lead singer of FIF) asked "do you think there will be kids in the audience who were directly affected by the attacks?"

We were expecting about 1100 kids at the concert and based on the connections in my own ministry and the feedback I'd gotten from our network of Youth Pastors I knew there would be a large portion of the attendees who either had a relative, friend, or neighbor that was directly affected by the attacks.

So I said "yep, they'll be out in force!"

What he said next totally ramped my respect for him and the other bands through the roof...He said "well then, lets turn this rock show into a church service and minister to the needs of these hurting kids!".

That is exactly what they did. A normal concert usually lasts about 3 hours and consists of some ear piercing music, some cool technology, and you go home. This particular concert saw each band play their hearts out for sure, but also share their hurts with the kids and share the solutions they've found in Jesus with them as well.

Now you might be saying, isn't that what they are supposed to do? That is a good question, and in my observation many Christian rock musicians don't share verbally any more, they let their music do the talking...ok, I can usually buy that but on this fateful night the kids needed more than music to meet their needs.

They needed real life examples of faith and victory from their "heroes", and that's exactly what they got.

It was so awesome to see how each band member was so vulnerable in their testimonies that the real HERO of Jesus Christ came through loud and clear!

Matt Thiessen from Relient K shared his personal faith story and some tough stuff he'd gone through, and each band member did the same.r />
Their new album had just come out that week and they played a song from it that really spoke volumes to the kids. The chorus says...

"never underestimate my Jesus, you're telling me that there's no hope, I'm telling you you're wrong. Never underestimate my Jesus, when the world around you crumbles, He will be strong, He will be strong!"

After that various members from FIF shared how God had been there for them and how He was going to see them trough this as well.

Then for the next hour and a half, Reese had all the bands come out on stage, put down their instruments, turn down the lights and the fog machine and just sit down among the students as he proceeded to tell his story of faith, and trust and ups and downs with the Lord. It was incredible!

I have seen these bands in concert many times over the years, but never have I witnessed such an out pouring of love and truth from these guys to an audience filled with hurting kids who had just 3 days earlier experienced a life rocking, potentially faith shattering experience of losing a loved one in a terrorist attack!

The concert started at 7pm and by the time I finally locked the building and went home and laid my head on the pillow it was 4:30am!

The band members hung out, prayed, cried, hugged and ministered Christ's love to over 1100 kids who had recently found out what it meant to know pain, hurt, questions and doubts.

Because a group of pesky Christian rockers weighed the priority of canceling a show because every thing in the entire country (airlines, Broadway, football and baseball) was canceling, or taking the heat so they could minister the love of Jesus to some hurting kids, we were able to see hundreds and hundreds of lives changed that night through the ministry of the Word, prayer, life change and a few songs.

The next morning as I walked into the church building I was asked THE question that usually faced me the day after any huge event we did in our ministry "was anything broken?"

This time I was able to give an answer that to this day is one of my favorites.

I said "YES, all kinds of things were broken...but because we had the concert many of them were fixed before they got home."

As I remember the 6th anniversary of the terror attacks on 9/11, and every anniversary that is to come...I choose to focus on the truth that God is in control and He calls on each of us to share with others how He has been faithful to us in our lives. He's in the business of fixing broken lives, and nothing is going to stop that!

Lesson Learned.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Kingdom Mentality - Lesson Learned Series

The more I read my Bible and follow the steps of Jesus, the more I realize that His ministry was all about restoration and expansion. Everywhere He went He preached a similar message, a message of hope and repentance to restore us to a right relationship with Him.

I also see that He didn’t settle down in one spot. He moved around and left instructions for His followers to spread the message as well. He was about building His Kingdom, but the only difference was that His Kingdom was meant to be in the hearts of His people, and His people are all around the world.

He truly had a Kingdom mentality that was meant to be expanded, not focused on one people group, in one city, one country or even one continent. I also notice that Jesus used various means, and methods in His delivery, yet His message remained the same.

I mean have you ever wondered why He went with Jairus to heal His daughter when he could have just thought it and accomplished the same outcome. Or how about when He healed the dangling paralyzed guy in the middle of a newly roofless house. Why did he forgive his sins first, and then heal His infirmity? And I’ll tell you what, one of the first things I want to know when I get to Heaven is “why mud in the eye for the blind guy?”

Jesus has a repertoire, and a very creative one at that, He is open to new methods to deliver His message. He modeled it for us in the very way He lived His life on this earth, and He is definitely all about expansion of His Kingdom. So why does it seem that we His children get so caught up with our little “kingdoms” and lose sight of the big picture?

The more I’m around Pastors and missionaries and just about anyone in ministry, the more I see that many times our focus is on buildings and numbers and bank accounts instead of life change that comes through Jesus, whether it be in Rochester, NY or Kathmandu Nepal, life change is life change and that needs to be what our ministries are all about.

The whole method vs. message debate basically is a belief that is lived out when we consciously or subconsciously say something like this…”well, we never did it that way before”, and many times is at the heart of why churches and Christians stagnate and in the process bring the Kingdom expansion progress that Jesus wants, to a stand still. I’ve seen this lived out, I’ve heard those words directly spoken, and if I’m honest with myself, I’ve often thought them as well.

Why is it that our assumption is that “if it worked a certain way in the past, it will deliver the same results now and in the future? Music is one of those things that can either unite or divide. It’s the number one thing that causes churches to split and is also one of the main reasons why people subconsciously sing “should I stay or I should go?”

As I think about this whole idea of Kingdom expansion utilizing the creative gifts and abilities that God Himself gave to us in the first place, my mind goes back ten years to one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in ministry. It took place at a Christian music festival in Lincoln, NH.

Now to fully understand the illustration you need to remember that at that time in 1998, Christian rock was pretty much just that…rock. You had groups like Newsboys, Audio Adrenaline, Petra and DC Talk roaming the scene.

These groups were great in what they delivered to the listeners, a message of hope and truth about the one who desires a relationship with His people. For the most part the beat was snappy, catchy, toe-tapping and clearly understandable vocally. These guys were good at what they did and the delivery system had become pretty much standardized.

The only difference between Christian music and secular music was the lyrics, musically they were just as good, if not better than many of their secular counterparts, and sitting atop the Christian music pedestal at the time was none other than “Mr. Friends” himself, Michael W Smith. Smitty had been doing Christian music for decades and was one of the most sought after, respected and extremely revered musicians ever. He was exactly the guy who needed to do what he did that fateful night in 1998.

You see at that music festival on that particular night Smitty was the headlining act. He had been tapped to close out an incredible week of music, fun and life change. So as the time creeped closer for Michael and his band to take the stage, the crowd kept pouring in, and taking their places along the naturally gorgeous landscape of the bottom portion of the Loon mountain ski resort.

The place was packed and buzzing, which was really nothing new for a Michael W. Smith concert, but interestingly enough, this was a different kind of buzz, and as I scanned the audience there were also many people from different kinds of cultures and backgrounds in the audience as well.

As I looked around, I noticed that mingled in with the long time Smitty fans were a new breed of music fan. These guys were hard looking, sported tattoos, dreadlocks, goatees and muscle shirts; they definitely stood out from the rest of the crowd who had gathered to hear the Christian music legend himself.

Come to find out, these fans weren’t there to hear Smitty at all, in fact most of them didn’t even know who He was. They were there to hear an up and coming band that was tearing up the charts and reaching a different target audience all together.

They were there to hear none other than POD. Now, why the concert producers planned an event where, a hardcore, mosh pit, scream your lungs out band like POD was the opening act for “And, friends are friends forever if the Lord’s the Lord of them”, Michael W. Smith I will never know. But as the buzz kept building in the crowd the more I kept thinking that this was either a stroke of genius or absolute stupidity.

Church music and hardcore don’t mix do they? Everywhere I looked I saw Argyle sweaters and muscle shirts, comb overs and dread locks, Lord’s Gym t-shirts and tattoos, WWJD bracelets and POD stickers, I was either in heaven or Christian bizzaro world!

I thought for sure the church worship leader and pianist were going to get trampled as they got there early to “sit through” the opening act so they could be “near the spout where the glory comes out” with Michael, only to find out that the opening act incorporated a little known phenomenon to Christian music at the time called a mosh pit!

So, as I stood there and observed all of this starting to take place, I began to pray for Michael W. Smith and I began to pray for the guys of POD, and I began to pray for the people who were either going to absolutely love the music or absolutely despise it.

We had a potential cataclysmic event on our hands, as the old and the new were about to converge and the Kingdom was either going to be expanded in a new way that night or come to a dead stop!

I had a great vantage point for the whole thing because I was backstage, peering out on the thousands who had gathered. You see my job that week at the festival was a really cool one. I was the “limo” driver for the bands (actually it was a 15 passenger van)…anyway, my job was to drive to the airport and pick up the arriving bands and drive them to the festival, hang out with them and after the show take them to their hotel or whatever.

I made many trips that week, and drove many bands but the one I will never forget was picking up and driving POD to and from the show. I remember getting my as
signment and asking “uh, who is POD? How will I know who they are? I’ve never heard of them,” which was a new concept for me as I picked up Newsboys, Petra and Supertones with no trouble at all.

The festival director said “oh you’ll be able to pick them out”, and sure enough he was right.

As we drove to the festival I was amazed at how engaging they were, they were excited to play in NH, and were excited to play in front of thousands of Christians. That was kind of surprising to me as I just assumed they played in front of Christians all the time. So I asked, “If you’re excited to play in front of Christians who do you usually play for?”

I was driving so I didn’t see their reactions but sitting next to me was Traa the bass player, and he kindly and politely said, “we usually play secular venues, where the kids that are there need to know Jesus more than anything, in fact after the show is done in NH we’re flying out to join up with the bands that are rocking at OZZFEST!” Whoa, talk about a wide open mission field.

Then they started asking me questions about the venue, about NH and about what I do. I said “I’m a Youth Pastor”, Traa immediately said “really, wow that’s cool….so is Sonny!” Sonny, the lead singer, the voice of POD, the one with the most dread locks and tattoos…is a Youth Pastor, just like me!

I almost drove off the road, that was such interesting news for me to hear. Well, we arrived at the hotel, grabbed some food and went to the venue for a sound check, and for the next several minutes Loon Mountain was literally shaking as the guys tuned up. It was going to be an interesting evening for sure.

Fast forward back to the present, here I am watching from backstage, half scared out of my mind and half excited to see what my new Youth Pastor Buddy and his band were going to do and who they were going to reach.

Then just before POD took the stage, out came Michael W Smith and took the mic to address the crowd. The place went nuts, and for the next several minutes he introduced Sonny, Traa, Marcos and Wuv and basically said “the guys that are going to take the stage now are a new band to Christian circles, they don’t look like what you may be used to and they don’t sound like what you may be used to, but let me assure you they are the real deal. They love Jesus, and are being used of God to impact a generation that I will never be able to reach. When they are done tonight, they are flying out to take the stage at probably the single biggest music mission field that there is…Ozzfest! We need to get behind POD, we need to appreciate POD, and more than anything we need to pray for POD. We need a Kingdom mentality!”

He prayed for them, hugged them and turned the mic over to them, and quietly exited the stage. What happened next was an amazing sight to behold as long time Smitty fans, not only stayed for the concert, they prayed for the kids in the audience, they embraced many of the fans and when it was all said and done, a Kingdom mentality was modeled right before our eyes.

I learned a very important lesson that night, a lesson that has been etched in my mind ever since. God is creative; He has a repertoire that is always adapting based on the audience.

His message never changes, but His methods and His messengers do. We need a Kingdom mentality that is not halted by “we’ve never done it that way before!”

Lesson Learned

Monday, September 1, 2008


Every night before we tuck our kids into bed either my wife or I will sing them a lullaby.

For those who know us well, you know that the singing gifts in the Carl family have definitely gone to my wife.

She has an amazing voice that she uses for God's glory, and has done so for many years, therefore her lullaby's put mine to shame!

I knew that would be the case, so I had to be creative more in the lyric department than the sound quality department with my kids... when I first heard the song "Irene" by Toby Mac in 2001, I knew I had to add the chorus into my repertoire with my baby girl.

Serena was born in 2000 and every night when I'm home I sing a portion of this song to her before I kiss her goodnight. It's become part of what I do with her, and as I came across this video clip recently it reminded me not only of how much I love my daughter, but also about one of the things I find myself doing alot these days...Being a voice of hope to those who have either lost it, or are on the verge of going there.

This song is all about how God knows us, loves us and sticks with us through thick and thin. I encourage you to pay close attention to the lyrics of the song...especially the section below...

Hush little baby, don't you cry, Daddy's gonna sing you a lullaby, Everything's gonna be alright, The Lord's gonna answer your prayers tonight. Hush little baby, don't you cry, Daddy's gonna sing you a lullaby, Everything's gonna be alright, The Lords gonna answer your prayers...I love this song not only because it's a great lullaby. I love it because too many times I'm like Irene. I make mistakes, I feel lost and alone and these days especially for some reason, God is bringing opportunity after opportunity to speak truth and hope into lives that are broken, and in desperate need of an epiphany for some and a reminder for others, that Jesus knows them, loves them, hasn't forgotten about them, and has an incredible plan for them.

Irene I carried you when you were too weak to walk. I took to you when you gave your heart to God. Faithful and True, that's what I'll always be to you, Believe in you, Believe in Me, and these mountains have to move.

You have dreams and aspirations, I knew you before creation, Your foundation is solid, I will build you a palace, restore your soul You'll be up for any challenge, Many storms are on the way better sharpen you faith, Count the cost, take up your cross and wear it everyday Rest in Me and I will give you strength Blessed is she, Irene who seeks my face.
I don't know what you're facing, and what you're up against, but I truly believe everything is gonna be all right, the Lord's gonna answer your prayer...

Time to go tuck in my kids, guess what I'm singing tonight!