Watch “The Nines” here live today. Click the video (in-progress) for full screen. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.
Get details and follow-up on this event here: http://thenines.leadnet.org/
Watch Classes@Willow Video – Andrew Marin.
Andrew Marin, WCCC Guest Teacher – This class will address hot topics and questions regarding homosexuality, and will help participants discover what it means to learn, listen and understand their way through the culture war of GLBT-Christian relations.
This is why I love my church! Willow Creek & Andy Marin: what kind of amazing things can happen from this connection?! I love that my church is willing to jump into the messy, controversial, never-easy, topic of homosexuality in a way that isn’t fear based or centerd on condemnation or even reacting to the current political and media events. It’s an honest and informed discussion that I think will help our congregation(s) to mature in how we handle this key topic in our society.
Check out the video or download the audio and listen in your spare time. The entire 4 week series will be made available online.
This afternoon I took some time to share with a good friend a bit of my story of hurt and healing in the Church. I feel like I’ve told this to everyone already, but I keep finding that I’ve only alluded to it to many. With that being said I’ll probably get into more detail here on my blog soon. The (hopefully) short story is that I spent seven years in ministry at a church all the while struggling with addictions and compulsive behaviors – totally in isolation and not sharing this struggle with anyone. When things became life-threatening I finally went to my pastor and shared everything – all of my fears and failures – and asked for help. While I was initially met with love, it was also the beginning of just over three years of extreme demands being placed on me – leading to me moving way from all friends and family, severing ties with anyone I knew outside of our church, giving up school, my business, my vehicle, my computer, my cell phone – everything to pursue the ‘help’ that I was being offered. What it turned out to be was living under 24-hour supervision in a legalistic environment with no actual counseling or direct ‘help’ resources. This didn’t come all at once, but rather gradually I was given stricter and stricter requirements all in the name of helping me.
Continue reading When I Cry…
In what seems to be the story of my life, things have been quite busy for me – which in a lot of ways is still a good thing. I’ve got two great church clients that have been a steady stream of work for me, my two new business web sites are creeping toward a launch, and I’ve been in a plethora of things at church this week. Just to recap, here are some highlights from the last two weeks or so (yes.. I’m a bit behind in my blogging!)
Photos, videos, and links after the jump Continue reading Busy Days…
Life is spinning at a good 60mph right now, but I wanted to be sure to send an update. Amongst about a million other things, I’m in preparation for our second annual Christmas service at church. I’ve been cast again as Balthazar, a wise man – the role I played last year in the production. This year preparations started a little earlier so I’ve had more time to receive direction and coaching. Stacy, one of the volunteers at church has been really taking me to new depths in understanding acting and getting into the character and telling the story. As many of you know I’m a pretty animated person already. And while I did a decent job with my role last year, it’s going to be much more dimensional this year. What really touched me about this whole process is Stacy’s passion in how she’s directing me. We spent hours yesterday working through the script, acting out various senarios, daydreaming about what the life of this Character was like. All of that is to be expected, but there was something about the heart of what she was doing that blessed me as this is her reasonable service to God (Rom. 12:2). She was using her passion to bless God and serve his people. That touched me and I hope to touch others with the same kind of passion when I get up on stage this year.
I’m so happy and blessed that I could roll on the floor crying tears of joy right about now. Today was an awesome day for me. So many things went well at church. I tend to feel amazing when I leave church but on much deeper levels today was special.
I battle with fear when it comes to singing solo / lead. I thought this was obvious to everyone – especially since we use a huge projection screen at church. A few weeks ago I shared this with our Music Director as I was feeling pretty bad about a small lead part I did in the service. I got complements from several people but I couldn’t receive any of them. I even got complements on the clothes I was wearing (which were new and I liked a lot) but i didn’t even feel good about that. I realized that this was my issue and things weren’t quite as bad as I was making them out to be. I just was afraid of ‘messing up’ and even more afraid that I was bad and no one would tell me. Me telling Fran (our Music Director) about how I felt along with talking about it in one of my groups really helped me to see just how my attitude was. It was exposed and in the light and suddenly it didn’t seem so big.
Fast-forwarding to this week, I was given a lead part with two solo verses. Fran really wanted me to pray about leading this song because the lyrics were definitely something that I could sing from my heart.
Sometimes at night
I am afraid
I cover my eyes,
Cover my shame
So here in the dark
Come with your light
And fill up my heart
Oh great light of the world
Fill up my soul
I’m half a man here
So come make me whole
Oh great light of the world
Come to impart
The light of your grace
To fill up my heart
— Great Light Of The World by Bebo Norman
Continue reading I’m So Happy!
This blessed me so:
"None But Jesus" by Hillsong United
In the quiet
In the stillness
I know that You are God
In the secret of Your presence
I know there I am restored
When You call i won't refuse
Each new day again I'll choose
There is no one else for me
None but Jesus
Crucified to set me free
Now I live to bring Him praise
In the chaos in confusion
I know You're sovereign still
In the moment of my weakness
You give me grace to do Your will
When You call I won't delay
This my song through all my days
All my delight is in You Lord
All of my hope
All of my strength
All my delight is in You Lord
I heard this song sung live by Darlene Zschech at church tonight. I really appreciate the writing that comes out of Hillsong church. Powerful simple truths put to meldodies that congregations can easily sing. Worship was AWESOME!!!
I’m preparing a blog post about the awesome time I had at the Willow Creek Arts conference – but I had to stop to vent my frustration with what I’m reading in the blogging world from Christian organizations about Willow Creek. Right now, the big buzz is about the results of Willow Creek’s “Reveal” study – which found that increased involvement in church programs does NOT ultimately result in fully surrendered, Christ-centered spiritual maturity. They realized that in their old method – people after coming to faith in Christ simply kept looking for more and more ‘feeding’ from their church – and became dissatisfied when the church couldn’t provide it. They are looking to now teach believers to become ‘self-feeders’ as they grow.
Unfortunately many out there are posturing this as “Willow Repents” and the beginning of the End of Willow Creek. Unfortunately many haven’t read the book and are only responding to what OTHERS have said and how they have spun the situation. I see bloggers riding high on their horses with this “I told ya so” attitude. It would seem like they would have some form of compassion for a ministry that is just trying to ‘do church right’ for God’s glory — like hopefully we all are.
I guess I am frustrated by the notions that people put out there that their way is more biblical than others… citing that we need to go back to ‘the traditions’. I question statements like that because most of what defines the North American church evolved LONG after the New Testament was written. There is a LOT of tradition that has nothing to do with being Biblical — and I just want us not to make it more ‘biblical’ just because it’s ‘older’ than whatever modern practices or approaches are. For example — we make certain English words essential to genuine faith when none of the bible was written in English – it’s all a translation or interpretation. Shuoldn’t we all be engaged in a passionate pursuit of God’s truth – rather than fighting with each other about religious stuff?
The last time God gave 100% specific instructions for Worship was the Old testament and the building of the tabernacle. In Christ there was an amazing shift from the priestly system to this family/community of believers who did life together in the book of Acts. The New Testament church didn’t have it perfect (prompting Paul’s corrections / teachings) and we still don’t have it together today… although they did it WAY better than we do.
The reality is that we all will be 100% dependent on learning to hear and respond to God for how to ‘do church’ or anything else. I think we become so short cited and see our lifetime as the fullness of God’s eternal plan. God’s church is HUGE… I don’t think we can fathom all of it until Jesus himself appears and the end of this age comes. In the mean time it’s my aim to prayerfully read the scriptures and seek the will of the Father.
One of the first things that I LOVED about Willow was the fact that the leadership could say when it was wrong and you regularly heard apologies and saw things change direction as a result. I hadn’t commonly experienced that in other ministries where I’d been involved (short of some form scandal that HAD to have a response). I think it’s a GREAT example to lead with the transparency of being a human who CAN and WILL get things wrong. The history of the Church has NEVER been perfect — the reality is that it is being PERFECTED by Christ up until the day of His Return.
Wow. It’s 3:34pm and I’m still in awe (and almost in tears) over the awesome thing God did in our Prayer service at Willow Creek Chicago today. This was our second Prayer service and was immeasurably more powerful than the first! Continue reading BEST! WORSHIP! EVER!