Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Boundaries - Part 2

When it comes to sexual boundaries, there is no effort too drastic and no endeavor too absurd for those of us seeking to live a life of holiness. There just isn't. When I used to work construction, I was fed this line almost daily, "You can window shop, just don't buy anything." That's the biggest load I've ever heard. Because it always begins with a look. Sometimes innocently enough. But it always begins there. So, no length is too great to go to live a life of holiness and purity before God.

Even as I write this, I'm sure I'll be bombarded by the enemy in this very area later this week, maybe even later today. It never fails. When I'm challenging others or challenging myself in a particular area, the enemy usually hits hardest in that area just a short while later. Just to see if I'm truly living what I preach. That's scary. But that's okay. I'd rather live scared to death knowing that one unholy mistake could ruin my testimony, my family, and everything I stand for, than to think that I've got it together and then fall in that very area. When Tasha and I lived in Greenville, SC, my pastor told us one time about a friend of his who had experienced moral failure in ministry. The man told my pastor these profound words:

"It only takes one step to cross the line, but it takes a lifetime to get back across."
That coming from a man who destroyed everything he had worked his entire life to build in a few moments of insanity.

But here's the tendency: We think that because we haven't physically drank from another well, that our water is clean and uncontaminated. But the opposite is just as true. That's why Jesus explained to the Pharisees that adultery of the heart is just as heinous. Because it starts in the heart. That's why guarding our hearts is so important. Which brings me to the third boundary.

3. Avoid Even the Smallest Compromise

Romans 13:14 says,

"But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires."

"Make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires." Wow! See, when it comes right down to it, we make plans. Whether consciously or unconsciously, we make plans to enter into sexual sin. We often say that we didn't plan to sin, but in reality we did plan it. Through the small things that we let creep into our lives. By not flipping the channel when the Victoria's Secret commercial comes on. By not refusing to open the e-mail that is so obviously suspect because of it's subject title. It's these small compromises that become the plans to satisfying the fleshly desires.

Men, this is why it is vitally important to give our wives full-access into our hearts and minds. They need to be able to ask us straight up if we've had any struggles lately. We need to let our wives look through our Guitar Center and ESPN magazines before we get to them to tear out the half-naked ladies. And we need to have real accountability in our lives. We need to have men in our lives asking us the tough questions. Not just skimming the surface, but asking the questions that clean out the real dirt from under our fingernails. Finding out what time of the day, and what places during the day present the greatest struggle, and then removing ourselves from those times and places.

And here's the key to this verse in Romans: "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ." If we are wearing Christ, we make it that much harder to plan out our sin. It's hard to make plans for sin when we are wearing the bearer of our sin. It's hard to bring Jesus into our little cohort of sin planning. And it's harder to draw up sin maps when we are conscious that Jesus is there the whole time. So, men, (and women too) let's wear Christ. Let's put on Christ and avoid even the smallest compromise.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Boundaries - Part 1

Today I was reminded, as God often has to with me, about the destructive nature and devastating dangers of pornography. As I was studying Scripture today, there were several verses that I ruminated upon as I reminded myself of the boundaries that I've placed in my life. Here are a few of them:

1. Guard Your Heart

These words were often spoken to me by my Dad before leaving for a date, before heading off to college, before anything ... "Guard your heart, son!" he would say. And that has stuck with me. Proverbs 4:23 says, "Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life." Why? Because it is the source of life. That's pretty heavy. But what does it mean exactly to guard your heart? Obviously, we're not talking about a real flesh-and-blood battle requiring the safe-keeping of our blood-pumping muscle behind steel and chain mail. Not exactly. But, there is a battle involved. It's a battle for our spirits. For our purity. For our families. So, what does it mean? Well, Proverbs goes on to say,

25 Let your eyes look forward;
fix your gaze straight ahead.

26 Carefully consider the path for your feet,
and all your ways will be established.

Here's at least one thing that it means:

2. Bounce Your Eyes

One of the most practical principles I have ever garnished from any book on purity was this principle spelled out in Every Man's Battle by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker. The principle was this: Bounce Your Eyes! Simply put: Move them off of anything that takes your mind down the wrong path, down the gutter, down the alley of mental adultery. Do it! Move them! And move them now! Keep them moving if you have to. Proverbs says, "Let your eyes look forward." This is a very literal thing for me when I go to the mall with Tasha (which, by the way, is about as frequent having our septic tank sucked clean). But when we do venture out there, eyes straight ahead is the key.

Guys, you know what I'm talking about. For men who are seeking to live godly lives, it means that we don't graze the mags at the checkout. And we don't surf Google images with questionable search words that we know are going to pull up garbage. We just don't do it. And we also don't use the excuse that "it's not porn!" Yes, it is. Soft. Hard. Rare. Well Done. Whatever you want to call it. It all draws our attention off of Christ and quite literally moves them onto images and ideas completely antithetical to all that He is about.

Wow, this is turning into a thesis and a quite a soap box. But only because I need to be reminded of it myself all the time. I'll finish this tomorrow as I draw on a few other verses of Scripture that have challenged the heck out of me today.

Typical Mondays

Friday, July 25, 2008


A few weeks ago I said I'd blog some more about the nicknames in my family. So, here goes:


Smooth is the next in line under me. We're about 18 months apart and have always been best friends. We were roommates from the time he was born all the way up until I got married back in 2002--even during college. We were tight. Still are, though the miles and life responsibilities now keep us from seeing each other as much as we'd like. But we share a lot in common. Even our voices sound very similar. In fact, Smooth and I used to play jokes on people all the time who would call our dorm room and not be able to tell us apart. So, if they were calling for Smooth and I answered, I would play along pretending to be Smooth the entire time--many times, never fessing up to the fact that they had been talking to me and not Smooth. I would hang up and then proceed to fill Smooth in on what he had just said to his friend, or girlfriend for that matter. I couldn't fool Kelly (Smooth's girlfriend and now wife) for very long though. Pretty soon, I would say something totally uncharacteristic of Smooth, like calling her "sugar-pie" or "dumpling cakes" and she'd see right through it. It was fun to try, though.

Yea, Smooth and I were tight. We did everything together. During our teenage years, it was a love for music that kept us close. And even though he never played any instruments, when it came time for Goodfriday to go on the road (my first Christian rock band), Smooth was there at every gig, setting up our ghetto sound system and running the board like a true mixmaster! In fact, I often take credit for introducing Smooth to his now wife, Kelly. Because it was at a Goodfriday show (actually a youth lock-in, to be exact) where the two met and began their dating relationship.

Which brings me now to the reason for the post. Why the name Smooth? As you may have figured out by now, the name Smooth was an indicator as to the nature of the one bearing the name -- the nature of the bearer in connection with the opposite sex, to be sure. See, Smooth was, well ... smooth with the ladies. There was no mistaking that. And once Robin Hood, Men in Tights hit the radar in our early teens, the line "He's a smoothy, definitely a smoothy" became our mantra for Smooth. And thus, Smooth evolved. But don't misunderstand. He wasn't a womanizer. No. No. He was a total gentleman. Just so freakin' smooth. He knew how to talk. He knew what to say. He knew how to behave. He knew what they wanted to hear. So, when Kelly walked into the lock-in that night in the middle of Goodfriday's set and Smooth laid eyes on her, the sound board was immediately vacated. Our gig was finished. In mid-strum and in mid-voice, I was praying that nothing else would need to be tweaked or changed, because we weren't getting our sound man back to the board for anything in the world. It was over. And, incidentally, that was the last gig we ever played! No, just kidding. We had a few more. And consequently, we had a few more Goodfriday groupies to add to the number thanks to Smooth and his new love interest! That was a plus! Thanks Kelly, for bringing all your friends.

I probably will hate myself for this, but, if you want a good laugh, check this out.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Little Percussionists

My friend Tim Norton just sent me this picture from a few months back at a gig. I loved it so much, I had to make it a post all by itself!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Two Four

If you are a collegiate/young adult living in the Raleigh/Durham area during the school year, you need to come check out Two/Four every Wednesday night beginning August 27, 8:30 pm at Richland Creek Community Church. Tasha and I will be kicking off the first night with the Chad Lister band. We're stoked! Come check it out. Here's the site.

Architecture and the Unchurched

My mother-in-law sent me an article the other day, and I thought it was incredibly interesting. It seems that a recent online survey of 1,684 people claiming to be "unchurched" found that, at a 2-to-1 ratio, they preferred churches with Gothic and cathedral-type architecture over and above the modern, contemporary style of church architecture. This is intriguing to me because, as my friend Dave Hickman (founder of CharlotteONE) and I have periodically discussed, there is an undeniable sentiment in our culture that our generation of both believers and unbelievers, as a general rule, is tired of having church in movie theaters and school auditoriums. The meeting place for CharlotteONE, incidentally or intentionally, is in the uptown sector of Charlotte at the First United Methodist Church, a building that fits the gothic, cathedral style to the T. And we're finding that the place is packing out every Tuesday night during the school year.

Ed Stetzer, a missioligist and the director of Lifeway research (and a great blogger, by the way) commented on the survey saying, "Quite honestly, this research surprised us. We expected they’d choose the more contemporary options, but they were clearly more drawn to the aesthetics of the Gothic building than the run-of-the-mill, modern church building."

Here's some more of the article:

Stetzer suggested that the unchurched may prefer the more aesthetically pleasing look of the Gothic cathedral because it speaks to a connectedness to the past. Young unchurched people were particularly drawn to the Gothic look. Those between the ages of 25 to 34 used an average of 58.9 of their preference points on the more ornate church exterior. Those over the age of 70 only used an average of 32.9 of their 100 preference points on that particular church exterior.

The Gothic style was preferred by both unchurched Roman Catholics and unchurched Protestants, according to the survey. The average unchurched Roman Catholics gave the design more than 56 of their preference points.

"I don’t like modern churches, they seem cold," said one survey respondent who chose the Gothic design. "I like the smell of candles burning, stained-glass windows, [and] an intimacy that’s transcendent."

Here's the article. Thoughts?

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Business

Weddington Community Church (AM)
1. Let God Arise (Chris Tomlin)
2. Point of Difference (Hillsong United)
3. Come Thou Fount/Come Thou King (Gateway Worship)
4. Sweetly Broken (Jeremy Riddle)
5. Fire Fall Down (Hillsong United)

Ridge Church (PM)
1. Solution (HIllsong United)
2. True Love (Phil Wickham)
3. How He Loves (John Mark McMillan)
4. Lift High (Eddie Kirkland)
5. Mighty to Save (Hillsong)
6. Happy Day (Tim Hughes)

It was a great night back at the Ridge. It was their first baptism service, and it was amazing. The baptisms and testimonies were woven through the worship throughout the night, and it made for an awesome time of celebration - celebrating the changed lives of new believers in Jesus, and celebrating the great God who is still in the business of changing lives.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tasha on "Oh, How I Love Jesus"

Day 7:
Tasha finished up her overdubs today. They sounded amazing ... as always! Here's a little sample of her on our arrangement of "Oh, How I Love Jesus."

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Day 5

Day 5 at Jake's Place:

Another amazing day. We had Brett Banks and Andy Bradberry in sessions today for bass and drums consecutively. Andy Cherry and Scott Spruill were back on guitars and keys. All of these guys are doing a phenomenal job. We've begun each day with group prayer, asking God to show up in power and move and work through us as we worship. Because I have this thing about recording a worship album where worship doesn't actually happen in the sessions. And so far, after 10 tracks, this hasn't been the case. The Lord is showing up mightily and I believe that He's being honored and glorified through this entire project. Jake Hunter has done an incredible job as our engineer. He's been very sensitive to our desire to capture as much of a "live" worship feel as possible, so that what really happens in the studio and in our hearts comes through on the album.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Day 4

Today we finished up Day 4 in the studio at Jake's Place working on our new CD. It's going really really well. Jake Hunter is an amazing engineer and is doing a great job. The Lord is blessing beyond what I ever expected. Every day He shows up in a powerful way, and with His presence He brings an amazing sense of freedom to worship and allow Him to move in and through us. My hope is that we can catch that as much as possible on the record. That the whole album would be totally bathed in His presence--that when anyone hears it, they will sense His presence. Keep praying that the Lord will sustain us through another week and that the end result will be nothing less than a sweet sound in His ears.

Friday, July 04, 2008

The Holy Bathroom Kiss

Somehow I was able to capture this moment a few days ago. Priceless. I guess my kids figured that since they had just finished brushing their teeth, the appropriate next step was a little innocent brother-sister smooch. I couldn't agree more. These kids take the Bible seriously and literally. What I have yet to figure out though (as parents have likely pondered for centuries), concerning normal sibling behavior, is how they can go from this one moment to pulling each other's hair out the next. How is this even possible? In the words of the famous Mr. Owl, "The world may never know."

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

New Tunes

It's only Wednesday but it feels like I've lived a full week already. We've been rehearsing like crazy with the guys this week before we go in the studio beginning Monday. Tasha and I are pumped up and really excited about it. We've got about 12 tunes we're working on that will hopefully pan into a new worship CD later in the year. We've got four covers, three of which are old hymns we've re-written, and then the rest will be originals. We're stoked! And the guys I've got working with me are phenomenal! Not only top of the line musicians, but guys that love Jesus with all of their hearts and have a passion to see God be praised above all! I'm truly being humbled and challenged through this whole process. (Nate, Andy C., Andy B., Scott, Nolan and Brett, thank you guys so much for your friendship!)

Here's a little clip from our rehearsal time the other night. This was one of those spontaneous worship moments that will surely turn out to be one of the best tracks on the CD. Take a look.