Tag Archives: love

A Farewell…

So the story goes a little like this…

10 years ago or so, I remember leading worship at a youth gathering event in our area where 150+ students came together for the sole purpose of worshiping Jesus under one roof, no matter the denomination. It was around the time in modernism where you would see evangelical ecumenicism a little more often. Either way, it was a good thing. The church that the gathering was held in was a United Methodist Church, from the outside, you would usually expect a totally different vibe, but it was surprisingly refreshing. I guess I thought there would be lots of robes, candles and wood.

Anyway, that night I had the pleasure of meeting Melinda, the youth pastor who spoke at the event for the evening as she was in the rotation to speak. I didn’t think she would remember me since at the time I probably sounded like an underdeveloped guitar player who ‘thought’ he could sing. (Side note. I actually listened to a song the other day that I wrote back then, that if it ever got leaked, I really don’t know what I would do. It is one of the most awful things I’ve ever heard. For those of you who may have a copy, please burn it.)

Years pass, and along the way I am able to build more connections with pastors across the city and more specifically with First United Methodist Church via the Music Minister at the time and Melinda through city-wide youth pastors meetings. The opportunity had arose at FUMC to apply for a new role at the church for professional staff to develop the growing contemporary music ministry at the church. I thought “nah… I don’t have a masters, so I won’t even try.”

Any-who… This was a very difficult season for me and my family five years ago that I wasn’t sure at the time how things would pan out, and out of the blue I get this call from Melinda. She says, “dude, I put in a good word in for you, please apply. You’re really what the church is looking for, at least start the process…”

After that, honestly, my first question was like, “I don’t think I could work at a Methodist church, aren’t they like theologically liberal and won’t I need to play the organ and stuff?” I remember her replying with… “this place is different, just apply man…”

The Staff…

So I applied, did the interview, and got the job. Thank you Pastor Craig Curry and FUMC Staff Committee circa 2009 for giving me a shot at it, I don’t know if you all realize that this big shift made waves for my growth and future as a pastor. I still can’t believe I got it, I wasn’t ready in so many ways, but through the strength of The Spirit, He carried me through  journeys that I will never forget. It would take me too long to describe the valleys and mountain-tops of working and being so trusted to pastor so many people through tears, counsel, prayer and through leading worship.

Over my time at FUMC there has been staff that have come and gone and a few that have stayed. The main-stay through my tenure has been Melinda. What a good friend and partner in ministry you’ve been. From worship planning, Tuesday’s tear-filled prayer, outreach and mission; everything seemed to be in sync. Thank you for your patience with me. So sorry I have to say good-bye in this functional capacity, but if you ever need a wild badger delivered in a manger in your office, please let me know… (inside joke…)

Thank you Pastor Dave for being a patient and prayerful man. Every time you would leave the office to pray, it was so encouraging to me as a young man in ministry to see that diligence. You have been able to navigate our church through some difficult seasons, thank you for that. I will miss our impromptu prayers sessions, your leadership will not be forgotten.

The People…

About a year ago we started community groups at FUMC. I don’t if any of us in our group expected to see such life-giving moments of nitty-gritty christian community. Every week in our home was more than worth it, we couldn’t wait to see every single person every week. It’s been so amazing to see work by The Spirit in people’s stories and lives. Thank you so much to those who have trusted so much of your time and energy to see what God can do when we are mindful about His mission of seeing us reach out and invite others to what we do, love each other. I know Travis and Kory will serve you well, they are generous and passionate about the move of God in our communities.

One of my favorite things about working at FUMC is their encouragement for me to grow through education, and to give me opportunities to feed into others lives. One of my giftings is to mentor teenagers and young adults, and through the past 5 years I’ve been able to feed into so many lives. You all know who you are. Thank you for allowing me to speak into all your lives, and I hope this won’t change even though I’ll be serving someone else. I care for you all so deeply.

The Music…

When I arrived at FUMC in 2009 I knew it would take a little time for me figure out the type of sound, flare and dynamics that would begin to identify the music of the church. ‘They’ say it takes 3 years before you first notice significant shifts in culture and process in anything you do, no matter the type of organization or program. (I believe the standard calculation looks like this in these cycles; 3, 5, 7 and 10 years are the big shifts in vision and culture…FYI) I can verify that at 3 years, all of our bands began to change. I believe they started to see the possibilities that could take place if we focus our attention to Jesus,  expectations of leaders, and excellence in our craft.

The Sound EPIt was at this time we produced our first EP. I couldn’t believe we did it. I was so proud of what we all accomplished in little ol’ Farmington, and how much we all learned together. And of course above you can see the Live Recording we did this last year…

All of you have been so impressive to me. Your consistency, talent, passion and friendships have all been so influential to me. The AAD jam sessions and practices filled with tears by worshiping together with the gifts of music I will never forget. The video will help explain a little bit… but thank you for everything, thankfully our family is staying in Farmington so we can jam here and there together, just call me!

A Farewell…

My prayer is that FUMC in Farmington is faithful to Christ. Never abandon Christ. Love Him and His Word before anything. This local church showed me what genuine friendships look like. Continue to be intentional about local mission. FUMC is probably one of the most active churches in the community that I’ve ever seen, just always remember to proclaim the Gospel by sharing the Good News. Be bold. Be loving. Be the Church.

God’s Glory. My Joy.

Today is a good day. It is honestly hard to say that, knowing so many people around us are experiencing pain and suffering everyday, and I want to be sensitive to that fact. With that being said, this morning, I was filled with an indescribable joy spending time with my family and especially celebrating my daughter River’s third birthday. As Brittany and I woke up we could smell the morning dew seeping through our open window and our kids came in the room to crash our peace with laughter. Most days, waking up to chaos and demands is incredibly annoying, but today, we welcomed it.

Last month, our family took part in our close friends’ beautiful wedding in Denver. The scenery in Washington Park was truly gorgeous. My wife was doing the photography, I was officiating the wedding, and our kids were in the ceremony themselves. After the ceremony, everyone was ecstatic as our friends had just made life long commitments to each other. The moment was so perfect.

The reception was held on a boathouse facing a lake that had no guardrails, which for a parent is terrifying. Every chance I got, I would let the kids know to not get close to the water or they ‘would drown and not come back’. During the exact same moment of excitement, post-ceremony as the couple was signing their license, Brittany asks me, “Where is River?” Of course my guy response is, “I thought she was next to you?”.

The next 60 seconds felt like the longest minute of my life. The feeling of desperation and fear filled my heart. The entire wedding party stopped what they were doing and helped us look for her. She could not be found. I remember calling her name out and running to the lake to see if there were any sustained ripples from a previous fall. I was ready to ditch my camera and pride and jump in the lake even though I didn’t see any ripples in the water. Next thing I know, Brittany calls, “I found her upstairs!” River was in the boathouse stealing corn chips from random strangers’ tables. The whole wedding party felt a sigh of relief with us.

This morning, I got to kiss and take pictures of my baby princess River. I am not guaranteed everyday with my family, but I did enjoy this morning,… I had this morning.

There is a very present existential eternality to joy that only Christians get to experience, I am sure of it. Not to say that unbelievers can’t experience joy right now by having an amazing marriage or treasuring priceless moments, that’s ridiculous! But there is a sense of gratitude toward Yahweh when you know you don’t deserve moments, yet you are graciously given them to revel in! And all of these moments whether they are experienced or promised, will be consummated when Christ comes back and all things will be made new and death-defeated will be physically realized!

When you study theology, you think about this stuff all the time, but it does not always hit close to home until you meditate on the fact that God presents gifts to us because He is a good Father, and at times, wants His kids to experience happiness in the midst of joy.

Take a moment and think about the narrative of the garden in Genesis Chapter 2…

“The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:15-17 ESV)

First the LORD commanded Adam to ‘eat of every tree‘… it seems to be an initial command of enjoyment first. A call to virtuous bliss of all the things God set before them! AFTER THAT the perversion of God’s intention was retold by the serpent to Adam and Eve that God was hiding the pathway to god-hood. What a lie! God wants us to enjoy Him and His gifts.

I praise Jesus for this morning. Thank you Jesus for my family. Thank you Jesus for River. What can you thank Jesus for today?

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

-C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory.

Giving Jesus Everything

A few years ago, there was a documentary on TV about a group of medical volunteers helping the citizens with cataracts problems, as well as taking cameras into the country of North Korea to examine the country and its declining social climate.1 Toward the end of the documentary it revealed some interesting insights into the human response to ideas, situations, people, and things when it comes to worship and adoration. Surprisingly, the medical team that came to help many North Korean citizens were not the ones receiving gratitude from the individuals being able to see again. Watching in amazement you see hundreds of people praising, crying, raising hands, jumping, kneeling, screaming in gratitude to a person they don’t know, but only have a picture of, their dictator Kim Jong-Il. These beautiful people seemed to have a glimpse of what it looks like to give something or someone everything they have.

The fact is, is that we offer the same worship, if not more, to ideas, situations, people and things. We consume our life with things that don’t bring honor and glory to God. Think about how many people would throw their own bodies out of a building because they lost all their savings and retirement, or the person who may feel worthless because the person they have been idolizing doesn’t want to be their friend anymore. We have repackaged all of our idols in so many ways, and what is required is this,2

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.”

Worshipers

We must deconstruct a bit of what we think worship actually is. Most of us think of worship as merely a time on a Sunday morning with music and a little bit of preaching and everything has been checked off and no more ‘work’ is required of us. The very idea of ‘work’ must first have its proverbial ‘legs’ broken for us to get to the heart of worship. We worship because He is God, and the ‘work’ has already been done on the cross (Rom. 4:1-10), and there is nothing more we can add to what has already been for us.

We were born to worship, you can see every human response, we desire to give praise to something. Just as I mentioned in the previous section, the people of North Korea celebrated their joy and ‘had’ to give their adoration to something for their healing, they had a distorted response, much like we give distorted responses because our hearts are prone to wander. In Jeremiah 19 it says,3

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

We need guidance, and the Word of God is light against the darkness of our hearts. God requires that we worship in both spirit and truth as proclaimed by Jesus (Jn. 4:19-24). Spirit essentially means that we worship with everything we have, our whole being. This includes our affection, posture of our heart, and love in giving God what we have to offer, ourselves. Truth means that we give God our minds (Col. 3:2) in acknowledging that He, the God of Abraham Isaac, Jacob, Paul and Peter is the only One worthy of worship both in distant past and coming future. “The minute you try to manage God, juggling him with anything else as a priority, you have ceased to recognize his weightiness (kabod) and His excellence (doxa)”.4 When you put spirit and truth together, you really begin to understand the humility in worshiping our king with your head (truth) and with your heart (spirit).

Idols

We are all idolaters. That simple statement may offend you, if it does, you’re probably an idolater. There are many things around us, especially our flesh, which will increase this propensity toward idol worship. The root of this problem which is in the heart of evil men, is pride. Pride is what threw the devil out of the place where God was (Isa. 14:12–21). This story should incline us to understand that God is a jealous God (Exod. 20:5), and that anything, including ourselves, should not be idolized and worshiped. There are three major gateways to pride5 and can be known as the three P’s: pleasure, power, and people. When it comes to pleasure, “The bombardment of such subtle messages of self-centeredness takes a toll, and we start to believe that our pleasure is not an indulgence, but an entitlement”.6

We can’t try and re-shape God into our image, He is who He is. We think we’re powerful when we try to control everything, and think that we are to think for our own accomplishments. This sort of thinking can often be associated with the American dream. You can hear the mantra as you read this, “I worked hard, so I deserve this”. The fear of people and their approval can truly handicap your life and what God wants to accomplish for you. We see a clear example of this in the gospel of Mark 13:27-33. The Pharisees had such an appetite for approval of the people that they couldn’t even answer Jesus’ simple question about who they thought Jesus was.

A quick survey you can take of your life to find your idols can be as simple as asking, “what makes me angry?” or “what frightens me?”7 This will give a good clue as to what may be more important in your life than God. Everything in our lives must be in submission to Jesus.

Memorize This Scripture

Matthew 22:37-38 (ESV)

“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.”

Personal Reflections

  • What parts of our lives can be masked as not being idolatrous?
    • Children?
    • Spouse?
    • ________________ ?
  • What makes you angry?
    • Take 5 minutes to journal and come back to the group to discuss your idols you are comfortable speaking about publicly.
  • What scares and frightens you?
    • Take 5 minutes to journal and come back to the group to discuss your idols you are comfortable speaking about publicly.

Things to Pursue on Your Own

Spiritual Discipline

  • Use this time to journal as a prayer medium, it can be a beneficial way to communicate with as it can temper our conversations with God. Use your journal time as a means of praise and worship as well, it will fill your heart with joy to worship God in this way.

Personal Study

  • Read Jeremiah Chapter 2
    • What were Israel’s sins toward God?
    • Are there things mentioned in this passage that are being paralleled in your own life?

Action Points

  • Ask a Christian spouse or a Christian best friend if there are blind-spots in your life that are idolatrous that you don’t notice. Be humble, listen, and repent. Consider what they have to say, they are people that love God and love you.

Footnotes


  1. National Geographic – Inside North Korea (National Geographic Video, 2007) 

  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Mt 22:37–38). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society. 

  3. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Je 17:9). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society. 

  4. Clem, Disciple, 103. 

  5. Ibid., 109. 

  6. Ibid., 110. 

  7. Ibid., 116.