Thursday, February 7, 2013

Now what?!

I just glanced back to see something that I had posted about a "New Direction".  My "direction" took a detour in September.  I stepped away from Incubator Creative Group.  I have reasons which I do not intend to get into.  But I think it is worth clarifying that I am not with them right now.  So then now what?
I started looking at job boards and found a church that was looking for a guitarist.  I sent an email and then waited.  After about a week I got an e-mail back that the position was open and I had several quick e-mails to me from the Director of Worship.  The following day I met with her and the pastor in an informal interview of sorts.  I was invited to come to the church and see what was happening there and if I felt this was what God wanted, and they felt the same, we could move forward with this.  As I write this I've been there for almost 5 months.  I started playing guitar with the worship team and the last Sunday of January actually led the worship in music.  This coming Sunday the church moves to two services.  That follows thir changing of denominational affiliation (Converge Worldwide) and the new name of the church: Christ Community Church.  It also follows monthly membership classes and baptisms in nearly the past three months (I may be short a month!).  God is doing some amazing things there and people are coming to Christ!  Lives are changing!  It's amazing what God is up to there.
On a personal level, I have seen God doing something in me.  Speaking to me and working on me.  Each Sunday there has been at least one thing that the Pastor has said that God has got me chewing on. 
As I look forward to speaking on February 17th and 24th I am reminded of the growth yet to take place in my life.  I will be carrying weeks 2 and 3 of the series "Emotionally Healthy Spirituality".  (The church records the services and places them online if you are interested in seeing them.) 
In preparation for this series I've been reading and listening to the books by Peter Scazzero.  I feel like God has taken a Brillo pad to my life.  In interactions with others God challenges me with the words that I have been reading.  What I wrestle with is the concept that "nothing is hidden from God and everything will be laid bare before Him."  Like others, I fear the sudden exposure to the light of the dark places in my heart.  But to be the person God wants me to be, I have to bring it all there before Him.  The level of honesty with myself is frightening.  The depth of the changes I see on the horizon though, are emancipating.  Knowing that I don't have to be anything other than who God has made me, and dealing with others in the freedom of knowing Christ and experiencing His love, thus being able to show His love to others, is beyond words. 
The first step in this process of changing direction and coming to this point has been that of surrender to God.  I had to let go of what I planned and I have to agree with Him that His plan was better.  Obedience from love is what He asks.  Faith is the expression of walking in obedience.  I do not know where this will all lead.  I do know that God is leading and I must follow.  Jesus is my direction.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Life lessons with my Karate Kid

I could count the lights on the ceiling as I got pinned for the 3rd time.  I remember that I was just a little older than my son when that happened. It was my first wrestling meet and my Dad had come to watch me.  I looked over at him as I got rolled for that 3rd time (I believe I wrestled Bart Floyd, Dan Beatty, and Jay Pitz.)  I was so disappointed.  I felt like such a failure and I never wanted to wrestle again, ever.  So when I sat in the bleacher seats for my sons first Martial Arts tournament I had this unwanted memory.  With it came all the awkwardness of the feelings that were associated.  I wanted him to do well, and felt he would, but I also knew that anything could happen.
After the initial "forms" competition came the "sparing" event that he was signed up for.  He was so itching to get in there that he was working the wall over and then another kid from Project Future / Bushido Kai was doing some light sparing in the hallway before hand.  He was quite ready.  So ready that I thought he'd wear himself out first! 
With orders from my wife to record the matches I had my iPhone in hand.  I watched the two matches through the screen.  The first match I was most nervous about. But right at the start he got a point, the other person got a point. Next thing I knew the match was over and he won 3-1!  I looked back at my friend Rod and got a thumbs up from him.  He won?! What a relief!  He won!
The second match started and with great amazement my son had knocked the kid back on his butt with a clash.  After that, well, it didn't go so well.  He lost 3-0 (clashes are not points).  I waited to see if there were any more matches.  None.  They lined the kids up and awarded trophies for 1st to 3rd and a medal for 4th.  Somehow he got the 4th place medal out of 4 kids.  (We're still looking into that as I don't quite see how that happened... with his loss to the 1st place guy he should have gotten at least 3rd place. But I digress...)
He was devastated that he placed last.  Just like me, he was faced with the sense of being a failure.  He was crying and ready to quit.  At that moment I had a chance to pass on to my son something that it took years for me to learn about... Endurance / Perseverance.  Failure is not fatal.  You have two choices, stay down and throw a pity party, blame and point fingers or get up and learn from the failure... work harder and get better... be responsible for what will happen next.  It's scary how much my oldest is a "mini me"... such similar interests and yes, such similar internal frailties (even though I keep telling him the great qualities I see).  Personally, I never thought I was very smart, talented or good looking.  I learned along the way that who I am in Christ is much more than what I or others have thought of me.  I know that my son is taking what he heard and putting it into practice... after his class last night, he put on sparing equipment and got right back at it!  So proud of him! My lesson in this?  Don't let the past dictate the present... those lights may become stars to reach for.
How about you?  How have you kept going when it was easy to just quit?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Are YOU the new minister?

You probably don't know it yet, but it is official... YOU are the new minister!  I can see the shock on your virtual face right now.  You were thinking, possibly, "Oh, Lonnie got a church!"  Nope, sorry.  It's more like "Lonnie got a clue." A clue that we need to grasp with understanding and conviction.  Ready?  Here it is: God has MADE you to minister to others. God has CALLED you to minister to others.  God has GIFTED you to minster to others. 

Still in shock?
Think about this: The biggest fallacy that people have bought into in the 'Church,' is that, the Pastor is the "minister" who "ministers" the sacraments of communion and baptism... who "ministers" at weddings and funerals and hospitals... and who "ministers" to all of 'my' needs.
Not true.  Ephesians 4:11-13 says,  "So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 

The apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers serve a purpose, but what? 
So that those who follow Jesus could, "getcha popcorn ready?!" lol No way!
So that (reading verse 12) to equip his people for works of service...  You are the new minister!  I hear a shriek, "But I don't know how to minister!" Ok.  So God wants to teach you by the Holy Spirit and by the people he's called and approved to oversee you.

Isaiah 50:4 says, "The Sovereign LORD has given me a well-instructed tongue,
   to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning,
   wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed. 

Here's what I know God has been doing in my life from the moment I said, "YES" to His call on my life... 
God made me with specific experiences that others can relate to.  I don't relate to everyone (though God knows I've tried to be 'all things to all people' and failed)... but I do relate to people who struggle with panic attacks, infertility, self-esteem, sexual abuse as a child, and divorce (my parents). I relate well with people who really want to know how God brings freedom into your life in the areas of hurt, because I've been there and continue to experience healing and hope.  I also feel a deep affinity with those people who are tired of dead faith that seeks to hide behind a script of self-righteous behavior. The truth is that God calls us to be real, authentic people with a Living Expression of Christ. (there's much more I could say about that, and will, eventually.) 
What the verse from Isaiah explains is that God teaches us though even the most difficult and unpleasant things in life to be able to come along side someone who is in a similar place and give them a word of hope to sustain them.  As you grow in your faith and speak with God (prayer), He will wake you up and give you things to think on even at night.  I know that is true because God has done that for years in my life.  Not a lot at first, but over time it increases.  As I ask God to speak to me, He'll teach me and show me who and how He wants me to minister.  Sometimes I find myself getting a thought while I'm talking to someone.  I know that God is there and wanting to minister to that person through me.  

And the truth is that God wants to do all of that and more through you!  YOU are the new minister!  You are the person He is equipping to represent Christ to people who are hurting in similar ways that you are, to bring them a word that sustains their weary soul. 
This world is dying for a new minister.  Are YOU the new minister?  I pray that you accept the call to be that minister to the people God sends YOU to. "So You're the new minister..." ;)

( A special thanks to God for speaking loudly through Pastor Jon at Kenmore Alliance Church and my friends (Nate and Tami) at Incubator Creative Group this week!  I couldn't have posted this with out you.)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Shut the door!

As a parent, I frequently have to tell my boys, "Shut the door!"  There are various reasons to shut that door, and most of them are to keep something out like the cold (during winter), heat (during summer), strangers and other dangers, etc..  This made me think about the conversation God had with Cain about Abel.

God says to Cain in Genesis 4:7 (NIV)
If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

What God was saying is, "Shut the door!"  Don't entertain the thoughts that will lead you to do evil!  As you read Genesis 4 you see that Cain chose to open the door and he killed his brother.  Sin had it's way with Cain.

But what about us?  Sin is crouching at your door and it desires to have you!  That word is still for today.   Truth is I've entertained thoughts that I never should have in the past, and being part of the human race, I know that you and I have so much in common. LOL :)   We may not be opening the door to allow sin into our lives where it will bring physical death, but the Bible teaches that the consequences for allowing that sin to "have it's way with us" leads to death.  We have to shut the door to some stinkin' thinkin'. 

Years ago I was working at KFC (doing chicken right!) and training a guy.  One day while we were working he said, "If that Assistant Manager looks at me again like that I'm gonna quit!"  He convinced himself that there was a problem and had decided that he was going to quit.  Moments later the Assistant Manager walked through, glanced at us working and walked to the office.  Just after that he said, "That's it!  I quit!"  He needed to shut the door.  There are husbands and wives who have or are thinking about entertaining thoughts that will ruin their marriage and family.  Shut the door on that!  Choose to stop that thinking and make a change.  Follow through with that change by finding someone who will walk through the process with you.  Knowing that you need to doesn't mean that you will, and trying to do it all alone is setting you up for failure. (does that make sense?!)  It's not just marriages, it goes into other relationships, other choices.  The great lies of sin are, "it's not gonna hurt anyone." and "But I deserve better!"  (there are more lies, but I find these pretty common)  You can look around your neck of the world and hear stories of broken hearts and lives.  You can probably point to a situation you know about, or even worse, know the pain of personally.  It touches all of us.  We have to "Shut the door!"

Here's what I know... we gotta do a better job of "shutting the door" on that sin and the thoughts that lead us down the wrong path and leave a trail of destruction.  If you are part of that trail I know that Grace, Truth and Time will help you to make it.  (but that's another post)  Don't give up!
Praying that God helps you do it or helps you through it!  Shut the door!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lessons from learning along the way....

I was listening today to one of the Vista Cafe (c) segments from Incubator Creative Group.  They started talking about John Wesley (one of my favorites!) and the reason people came to watch him was that he asked God to "Set him on fire" and people came to watch him burn.  That moved to the "burning bush" which Moses encountered.  At that point my mind begain thinking and here's what came next...
In my mind I moved ahead to Moses and the Children of Israel in the desert.  The burning bush was where Moses got his call.  The plan was to liberate the Hebrews and take them to the promised land.  But it took 40 years for them to get there.  Did it have to?  Maybe, maybe not.  (but is was based on their obedience and trust or lack of that) Then I began to make it personal.

Some of us feel like we've been wondering for 40 years in the "desert" waiting to get to where we are going to.  (just had an 'ah ha!' at this point)  The desert for the Children of Israel wasn't that they were not going anywhere, because God was testing them to see if they would be faithful.  There's always a process, a kind of desert to go through.  Incubator has an Application Process which can be confused for: "why did you drag us into the desert to die" feel. ;) But it really is a "testing" time of sorts.  Amazingly biblical.  So many of us (artists) think that we arrive at the promise land when we get to do our first concert or have enough of a following that we can record our first album/CD/professional digital audio recording or have an "official" tour. (I'm kind of running out of 'what would come next kind of stuff') Everyone wants to get to the Promised Land, not everyone wants to go through the desert of testing.  It is in the desert that we learn patience and endurance.  We learn to keep plodding and growing.  We learn not to just stand and watch because the sands of time will just bury us there. We learn to trust and be obedient.  We learn that what we've come through prepares us for what's ahead. We learn in the desert.  We apply all of that learning in the Promised Land. What is your Promised Land?  Are you trying to dodge the desert?  Don't.  Ask God to continue to lead you, just as He did when He took them by the hand and provided for them and prepared them for their destination.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Following a new path...

Today I invested in the future of people I haven't met yet. I started down a road that I've never been on, to reach people who will be in need of the words and songs that I bring and sing.  There are places where I've never traveled. I'll go because the hand of God wants to reach out to heal and restore them. There are churches that will need to remember they are the Bride of Christ.  There is a wedding feast ahead and they need to be ready! There is a Groom (Christ) who they need to fall passionately in love with! The expression of their love, their "Living Expressions" need to be seen in the places where they live, work and shop. I know that God wants to use me for greater purposes than to change out magazines and books! LOL
That's why I began a journey to pursue a music ministry... emphasis on the ministry part.  The Incubator Creative Group is a management company that helps "hatch" new music ministries.  With a proven plan and track record, they help to shape the artist and the ministry.  It is a process that begins with the discovery of the great gift that God has placed inside of us.  It's in sharing that 'gift' of experiences, including failures and pain, with individuals and groups of people, that I'll develop a niche' of people that will want to partner with me.  Just to clarify something... I'm really buying Incubators vision about music ministry.  They are not about me creating music so that I can make a CD and book concerts, maybe sell a few t-shirts and posters.  They are about using the music as a means of placing me where I can minister to/with people.  The music is a business... small one at that(!), but the ministry is always free.  I know someone is scratching their head about this.  This isn't the Nashville model of the music business.  This is a different model, that has at the heart, ministry that takes place with individuals not only after a concert, but between concerts, in various forms.  My heart is not to write songs and perform them so that the world can say what a wonderful person I am.  My heart is to write and share music that says how wonderful God is!  My heart is to be transparent about where I've been and what I've been through, to encourage and begin to point others to where they can have hope and healing in Christ! 
I know that not everyone will jump on board, and I'm just fine with that.  But I know that there are people who have believed in what God has been doing in me far longer than I have believe it myself.  You are the friends and family that will partner with me.  I so look forward to what God will do in and through us together! 

For His Glory alone... Lonnie

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Memory lane and Apple along the way...

As I started Junior High, the school added a computer lab.  A thing called an Apple II computer captured my young imagination. (they also had "knock offs" we called "Black Apples" that we used...).  To my vocabulary was added "diskette", "boot" and a game called "Parachute."  Along with that came an infatuation with this technology.  Before school started, and after it was over, you'd find me and a handful of kids, sitting and playing... some were actually programing.  I started to write simple programs.  I learned "IF / THEN" statements. Something like "RUN" and later "BRUN". It was new and exciting.  As the tech grew we went from II to IIe and C... As I began high school I was introduced to a guy in a wheelchair.  As I remember he was that way from a High School football accident.  He had limited mobility and couldn't type with both hands, but by placing something on his hand, with a pencil in, it he would type. I was amazed at how this Apple computer could help him. I was at his house frequently and, at times, wondered if I wore out my welcome.  Still, when he was willing I would come visit him and use his computer to play games and write programs.  One of our favorite games was the "Eamon" text games.  It was kind of like a pre Dungeons and Dragons thing.  I laugh as I remember things from it like, "You've been attacked by a rabid rabbit!"  Somehow a friend figured out how to make your character invincible by changing the programing... it came in handy when you were trying to beat something like a Minotaur! Moving in the game came from your responses to what the details of the room were... with no joystick, just text, basic questions and directions of N-E-W-S... you would find your way through the game.  On those Apple computers we also played a Star Wars text game. As you were saving Princess Lea you would have to swing across from doorway to doorway (just like in the movie...).  Because of the programing, it would have a "Random" chance to break the rope.  When it happened you would read, "EGAD the rope broke!"  Funny, when things would go bad you might occasionally hear me utter those words.  Amazed at how I could sit and play for hours...
In High School we had computer class.  The first day of class the teachers says, "If you have any questions ask Steve, Mike or Lonnie." Needless to say I was helping a lot during class and doing my work after school!  The Apple computer was here and our lives were changing.  As I graduated and went to college the Personal Computer (PC) was brought into the mainstream.  About the same time Steve Jobs and Apple introduced the Macintosh, or Mac for short.  It was about then that I began to think that Apple was about to disappear. Apple and Steve Jobs had decided that he didn't want "knock off" Mac's being sold.  PC's, on the other hand, were made by IBM and others, which flooded the market with cheaper computers.  As I remember, Apple's share was really dwindling.  About the only place an Apple would be found was in Academia... and a few hardcore believers homes... I found a family that were hardcore Apple people... they allowed me to type a few papers for college with it... I vaguely remember having the paper nearly finished and then having it shutoff... Oh the thoughts I had about Apple... bad Apple...  From that experience I moved on, so I thought, from Apple.  I played around with a Commodore 64 for a while and then on a friends IBM PC... got my own PC, and then another, and another... as years passed I watched the Apple product line change.  Their stuff became more "all-in-one" and then thinner, lighter... always less buggy, less hassle... or so I kept hearing.  My reintroduction with Apple came as my wife won an iPod music player with Tim Horton's "Roll up the rim to win".  I was amazed at the fact that in my hand was the same processing and greater storage than the Apple II's I grew up using.  A couple years after that I purchased my first iPod Touch... 3rd generation... yes it took me that long!  But since then, I've logged plenty of hours on it playing a game or checking e-mail, surfing the web and writing notes to remind me of things I need to do, or a song that "just came to me".  There are days I wonder what I did without it.  I think one of the more amazing things is that it has a touch screen... no mouse or clunky keyboard to attach, just pinch and swipe your way around.  We just got my youngest his own iPod Touch 4... I can't wait to use the "Facetime" feature with it.  The built in camera has already gotten lots of use.  Funny, to me how this is the only Apple my boys have known...
So what does this trip down memory lane mean?  How about... One life can change culture, vocabulary and even direction. Steve Jobs had the creative imagination to suggest, "What if..." and then he surrounded himself with people that could help make that happen, and they did.  They pushed the boundaries of what was and began to shape a world.  His other lesson might be... Capitalism is not inherently evil.  Capitalism allowed him the room to innovate... Jobs created jobs (excuse the pun...)!  His achievements represents the best part of that economic view point.  To imagine... a 19 yr old getting off his butt and doing something to change his world for the better.  Steve Jobs is probably upgrading the tables that God gave Moses even now...