Sacred Space

I’m reading the story of Joseph this week and it strikes me how his life was a continuous cycle of ups and downs, ups and downs, ups and downs.

One minute he’s the favored son, the next an exiled slave in a faraway land. He’s up with Potiphar, then down in jail, favored in prison, then forgotten. Sure, God works it all out in the end but it was quite a rocky road to get there.

Sound familiar?

Every week, those of us who serve in worship gatherings have the privilege of ministering to people in all sorts of circumstances. Some are on top of the world, others feel crushed underneath. Some feel loved and accepted, others feel worthless and ignored.  The truth is, all of us come through the doors with distractions and wounds, clutter in our minds and hurts in our hearts, and each week a thousand things will try to pull our attention down and away from the one thing that matters.

So, every week we share in one mission, what I believe is the purpose of the Worship Arts: “to create sacred space for people to encounter God“. No matter what songs we sing, words we speak or ways we serve, we aren’t the ones who can change lives. Our job is to push back as many distractions as we can and help people LOOK UP to encounter the One who CAN change lives, and DOES change lives every day.

We all serve in different ways and for different seasons. Whether you’re on every week or every once in a while, up front on stage or behind the scenes, thanks for being a part of the team.

YOU make a difference.

Looking up with you,
-Pastor Phillip

The Beautiful Robe

“So when Joseph arrived, his brothers ripped off the beautiful robe he was wearing…” -Genesis 37:23

If you’re familiar with the Joseph story, it’s not too hard to read between the lines and see that he was probably pretty proud of being the favorite.  When he tells the family of his mysterious dreams, it’s not too hard to imagine just a hint of a smug smile on his young face.  After all, aren’t we all a little too self-assure as youth?  When he goes to find his brothers on their sojurn, it’s not too hard to picture him there, riding his mount across the field with his robe shining in the middle-eastern sun, announcing with his garment, “Father loves me the most!”

Indeed, the robe was the symbol of the father’s favor.

Read moreThe Beautiful Robe

He Giveth More Grace

Amazing, isn’t it… the smallest things often bring the greatest joy.

Sorting through stacks of scattered papers, I found this little scrap.

Be blessed.

HE GIVETH MORE GRACE
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added affliction He addeth His mercy
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

His love has no limit; His grace has no measure;
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth and giveth and giveth again.

-Annie Johnson Flint

Planning Center notes 2

NOTE: This post is from an e-mail I sent out to our Praise Team, to help them get used to additional features of Planning Center Online.

For those of you interested, here is a little “quick-start guide” to the features of Planning Center Online that our team is using more frequently, so that you can find your way around more easily.

LOG-IN SCREEN
At http://planningcenteronline.com, you can log in with your e-mail address and password. As referenced in the previous post, once you’re logged in you can click your name in the far upper-right of the screen to go to your personal settings screen. There you can change your password to whatever you want, if you’d like.  I highly recommend activating text messaging for your mobile phone if you haven’t already (and if you have a texting plan for your cell phone, of course).

Read morePlanning Center notes 2

Planning Center notes 1

NOTE: This post is from an e-mail I sent out to the people in our Worship Arts ministry, to help them be a little more familiar with Planning Center Online.

PLANNING CENTER ONLINE
As you all know, this is the system we use for scheduling, but it does so much more. Starting right now, I’m updating chord charts and sample MP3s for all the songs we do on Sundays, so that those of you scheduled for the upcoming week can log in before Thursday and listen to/practice with the songs. Please try to block out some time to do that we we’re ready to rock on Thursday nights.

How do you do this? Easy! Go to http://www.planningcenteronline.com and log in with your e-mail address and either the password you received via e-mail or whatever you changed it to.  I’ve updated everyone’s account [in the GBC Worship Arts Ministry] so you can view all service schedules and songs, EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT SCHEDULED for the upcoming Sunday.

Read morePlanning Center notes 1

Amazed or amused?

Words are my favorite toys.

I love to play with them, to alter and rearrange them; to find creative ways to use them to produce or discover something interesting.  Sometimes it doesn’t take that much.

Consider the change two little letters (or just one if you’re a bad speller) makes to a word.  Change an “A” to a “U” and a “Z” to an “S” and “Amazed” becomes “Amused”.  Doesn’t seem like much, but consider the difference between those two things…

Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw.  And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” -Matthew 12:22-23

In this story from the Gospels, Jesus does a miracle.  He reaches in and dramatically changes the life of a man who had been in bondage, and the people were amazed.  They wondered if this was a sign that He was, indeed, the Messiah.

Read moreAmazed or amused?

One little change

It’s two weeks in to January, and already I imagine the gyms and fitness centers are starting to thin out from their post-holiday rush.

A few million people have probably “cheated just a little” on that diet they committed to.

Days of reading have been skipped, cigarettes lit “just one more time” and the morning run has been put off one more day… again.

People everywhere committed to big changes in their life, only to have those big changes steadily shrink, and chances are, eventually many will shrink enough that they’ll disappear, leaving things exactly as they were before.

Maybe the big changes are overrated.  Maybe what we really need is not a big change that shrinks, but a little change that causes a chain-reaction.  Maybe if we made a change that was little -but strategic- we’d find things very different this year…

Read moreOne little change

Just Right for You

God is not in the business of just generic, one-size-fits-all blessings.

“It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper who is just right for him.” -Genesis 2:18 (NLT)

What strikes me here is that God’s provision for Adam isn’t generic, it’s personal.  God knows his child personally and loves and blesses him in the same way.

I love this!  It reminds me of some of the things Jesus says in the Gospels:

Read moreJust Right for You

Engaging the Story

New years are new chapters in the stories of our lives.

For me, the dawn of a new year is always an exciting time to look back and see what’s unfolded in the year gone by, and begin to plan and think and dream about what God may have for me in the one to come.

Each life is a story, unfolding year by year.

This year will be my fourth reading of the entire Bible, and I’m pretty excited. Normally I read and dig and cross-reference and look up commentaries, but this year is different.

This year I will put aside the commentaries for every verse, the cross-references for every passage, and focus instead on the flow of events as they unfold, asking God to help me read not like a scholar, but like a child, caught up in the wonder of it all.

Read moreEngaging the Story

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