Saturday, December 22, 2007

Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie

Try this recipe. You won't be disappointed!!

1 cup sugar
1 cup pecans (may use walnuts)
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup self-rising flour
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1 stick of butter
1 unbaked pie shell


Mix sugar and flour; add eggs and melted butter. Add nuts and choc. chips, then vanilla. Mix well and pour into pie shell.
Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes.

This has become a family favorite all year long - especially at Christmas.

Thanks to Jimmie B. of Macon, GA for the recipe several years ago when I served as Worship Leader at Mabel White Memorial Baptist Church.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Favorite Christmas Music

Okay, a few of "my favorite things"... or recent (and not so recent) Christmas discs I highly recommend:

1. Great Joy - A Gospel Christmas - Broadway Inspirational Voices (MUST HAVE for gospel fans)
2. Christmas Songs - Diana Krall - just great Christmas jazz
3. Christmas Time with Oleta - Oleta Adams ("Breath of Heaven" cover is worth the disc!)
4. The Christmas Collection - Michael McDonald (the zydeco version of "Children Go Where I Send Thee" is too much fun!!) originally titled "In the Spirit - A Christmas Album"
5. Christmas Fantasy - Anita Baker (if you like Anita, you'll love this disc)
6. When My Heart Finds Christmas - Harry Connick, Jr. (not new, but a new standard in my opinion)
7. Christmas at The Brooklyn Tabernacle - Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir (not available on iTunes but a great deal on amazon.com currently)
8. First Christmas - BeBe & CeCe Winans (another classic from this dynamic duo)
9. This is Christmas - Luther Vandross (one of the most incredible voices of our time)
10. Christmas Portrait - The Carpenters (just a classic, what else can be said?)
11. Home for Christmas - Rhino Records - a great compilation of true classics, which, if I had left off this list, my kids would have never let me live it down. This has become a family tradition on Christmas morning. While most of this 2 disc set is very "dated" it is a great compilation! ("Boogie Woogie Santa Claus" by Mabel Scott is one of my personal favorites and always makes me smile!)

There are actually many more that are my favorites. You should see my Christmas CD collection, it's ridiculous, I admit.

Interesting most of these include the word Christmas in their titles instead of the politically correct "holiday"... hmmmm...

wow, the iTunes store sure was slow on searches today - not sure what that's about.

Well, Merry Christmas, and Happy Listening!

Jonathan Butler - great jazz!

If you like jazz guitar (even if you're like me and not a big guitar fan) you'll LOVE Jonathan Butler! Think of a cross between George Benson, Earl Klugh & Stevie Wonder with worship thrown in and you've got Jonathan. Born in South Africa, he is a fantastic guitarist in the smooth jazz style, has appeared on at least one of Israel Houghton's projects, and is not afraid to use the name of Jesus in his music.

His latest gospel project is "Brand New Day" and I highly recommend it. Great drive time music and great worship tunes on the same disc. Also check out "The Worship Project" and "Jonathan".

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Flash Drive iPod Mini

Our middle daughter's pink iPod mini died last month... after doing a quick internet search I found this...

http://geektechnique.org/projectlab/756/flash-based-ipod-mini-update-now-up-to-8gb

After a quick trip to MicroCenter for a flash drive and new battery (I figured since I was going to be in there I might as well replace the battery too) I came home, broke open the iPod, switched out the parts, and now it works like a charm. Supposedly the flash drive (with no moving parts like the original hard drive) should last forever.

So there you have it - your old 4GB or 6GB iPod mini could have 7.5GB+ storage space.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Offendectomy - Part 2

More excellent food for thought...

Unoffendable - Part Two
by Francis Frangipane

"Then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another . . . and because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold" (Matt. 24:10-12 KJV).

The Sequence That Leads To Apostasy
In our last teaching we looked at offenses and examined the lethal effect an offended spirit could have upon our lives. We discussed how the only way to not be permanently offended was to attain the unoffendable heart of Jesus Christ.

Attaining Christ's heart is not a minor issue. Remember, Jesus warned that, in the last days, "many" would be offended. A wounded spirit is not the same thing as an offended spirit - an offense occurs when we do not process our wounds in a Christlike manner. Indeed, an offended spirit, left unattended and brooding in our minds, will soon manifest as betrayal, hatred and cold love. Jesus said offenses would be the ultimate cause that leads many to fall from faith. Listen well: Jesus linked the real cause of apostasy not to wrong doctrines, but wrong reactions.

Aren't right doctrines important? Of course, but we can have right information and still have a wrong response. Doctrinal information can be upgraded and refined, but Proverbs warns that someone "offended is harder to be won than a strong city," and "contentions" between people "are like the bars of a castle" (Prov. 18:19).

Yes, beware of false leaders, but more deceitful than false prophets or teachers is our own heart when it is offended (Jer. 17:9). Are you living with an offended heart? If so, you are gradually slipping away from true Christianity, which is known for its agape love.

Thus, dealing with an offended heart is vital in maintaining ongoing spiritual maturity. For this reason, we need to look again at the things that offend us.

False Expectations
Unrealistic or exaggerated expectations inevitably will cause others to fall short and offend us. Some desire their spouse or pastor or friends to meet their every need. However, at the deepest level, our soul was created to find its security in God, not man. When the Almighty truly becomes our security, our peace flows from our awareness of His love and unlimited capabilities. As people who put their confidence in God, we can live comfortably with imperfect people around us.

Still, the very power of our expectations can choke out the sweetness of a personal relationship. Suppose that, instead of burdening people with our expectations, we simply learned to appreciate them for themselves - no strings attached. What if we approach family and friends with gratitude for what they are doing rather than disappointment for what they failed to do?

Suppose that a husband, instead of expecting a full course dinner from his wife each night, learned to appreciate whatever she was able to offer him? Then, instead of his failed expectation degrading into an offense, there would be a living, sincere appreciation for the food his wife prepared. I know we have arrangements by common consent, but in reality, a wife is under no obligation to cook special meals or do housekeeping. You did not marry her to be your housekeeper, but to become one with her.

Or imagine a husband who works a long, tiring job. However, his wife expects that he will work another two hours at home or go shopping with her or listen attentively about her problems. What if, instead, she welcomed him at the door and sincerely thanked him for daily giving himself to support their family? What if she met him, not with demands, but with appreciation? Perhaps she might even massage his shoulders and, because of love, have his favorite meal prepared.

You see, expectations can seem like legitimate aspects of a relationship, but they can also cause us to be disappointed and offended when people fall short. I have known situations in the past where my expectations actually blinded me to the efforts being made by a loved one. They were trying to improve in an area I was unaware of because my focus was preset upon a different expectation. I should have been grateful and encouraging.

Of course, today I discuss issues and expectations with those close to me, but the weight of my expectation is not on others, but upon myself to be Christlike and sensitive to those around me. I put a premium upon enjoying the uniqueness of others, sincerely thanking God for their contribution to my life.

When God Himself Offends Us
The fact is, false expectations can become a source of many deep offenses. However, one of the worst offenses we can suffer is when God Himself purposely offends us.

In 2 Kings 5, we read the story of when Naaman, a Syrian general, sought to be healed of leprosy by Elisha, the prophet. When Naaman and his entourage arrived at Elisha's house, Elisha didn't greet him personally, but instead sent his servant with a word/cure for Naaman. It was a simple assignment for the military leader: wash seven times in the Jordan River. However, the cure offended Naaman. Why didn't the prophet himself come out? Why this muddy Jordan? Scripture says that "Naaman was furious."

An offended spirit is an angry spirit. In this case, Naaman was beyond mad; he was furious. Do you find that you are always mad at a particular person? It's because they have offended you and you haven't forgiven them. Naaman was offended at Elisha, but what was the real cause of Naaman's offense? Listen to his words. He said, "Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and cure the leper'" (v. 11).

Catch the phrase, "Behold, I thought . . ." In truth, Naaman was not offended by Elisha, but by his own failed expectations. He probably spent many hours envisioning the moment of healing. He even pictured himself testifying of how the man of God healed him. When it didn't happen according to his plan, he was offended.

Friends, before the Lord heals you or assigns you some new, elevated position of service, He will often offend you. Why? What is it that gets offended in us? Usually, it is our pride. We come to God desiring physical healing, but the Lord wants us not only to be healed, but to be humble. Yes, God heals us through our faith, but there our times when our own pride keeps us from receiving the method of God's healing. The Lord offends us to humble us, so He can give us grace. Faith works through grace, but God only gives grace to the humble.

Look at how often Jesus offended people before He healed them. Once, He actually spit on the ground, made mud and put it on a blind man's eyes, and then told him to walk across town that way! Imagine if you were next in the healing line and saw what the guy before you had to do. Admit it, we each would be looking for another healing ministry, one that is a little less offensive! On another occasion He told a woman who came seeking her daughter's healing that she was an unclean dog; another time, He stuck His fingers in the ears of a man to heal his deafness. The Lord often offended people before He healed them.

If we would learn to humble ourselves in the offense, we would discover that the apparent offense was, in realty, a door that led into the manifest power of God. When Jesus called the Canaanite woman a "dog," instead of being offended, she said, "Yes, Lord, but even the dogs feed on the crumbs" (Matt. 15:27). When Jesus told the man to walk across town with mud in his eyes, the man didn't argue or ask for a more dignified healing; he humbled himself and came back seeing. When Elisha told Naaman to dip in the Jordan seven times, the offense wounded him. Yet, when he humbled himself, his leprosy was replaced with the skin of a little child. His skin became as a child, because his heart, through humility, became as a child.

Maybe you haven't received your healing or breakthrough yet because to walk the path set before you is beneath your dignity. Maybe you need to get rid of your dignity and go to that Pentecostal or Baptist church you've been making fun of, then ask them to pray for you. God wants to heal you, but He also wants to renew and transform you with His grace.

Overcome Offenses
When we study what Jesus taught, it is obvious that He came to make us "unoffendable." Consider: He says that if someone slaps you on one cheek, offer him the other. He said to love our enemies and bless those who curse us. What He's really doing is showing us how an unoffendable heart of love overcomes all adversity.

We pray, "Lord, I want to change." To answer our prayer, He sometimes must put us in situations that perfectly offend us. The offense itself awakens our need of grace. Thus, the Lord precipitates change by first offending the area of our soul He desires to transform. He does not expect us to merely survive this adversity, but to become Christlike in it. Ask Joseph in the Old Testament: the "land of offense" became the land of his anointing and power. Listen my friends: the destiny God has for man unfolds or dies at the junction of offense. How we handle offense is the key to our tomorrow.

"Those who love [God's] law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble" (Ps. 119:165).

Lord, grant me that new creation heart that can walk as Jesus walked, through a world of offenses without stumbling. I want to see everything as an opportunity to pray, everything as an opportunity to become Christlike. Lord help me to interpret offenses as opportunities that lead to transformations. Grant me, Lord Jesus, the pulse and beat of Your unoffendable heart. Amen.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Offendectomy

This came across my inbox today, and I felt it worthy of archiving on my blog. At our church we call this having an "offendectomy" - i.e., not being so easily offended.


Unoffendable By Francis Frangipane

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezek. 36:26).

God has a new heart for us that cannot be offended, an “unoffendable” heart. Beloved, possessing an unoffendable heart is not an option or a luxury; it’s not a little thing. Consider: Jesus warns that, as we near the end of the age, a majority of people will be offended to such a degree that they fall away from the faith. Listen carefully to His warning:

"Then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another . . . and because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold" (Matt. 24:10-12 KJV).

“Many” will be offended; the love of “many” will grow cold. My prayer is that we will hear His words with holy fear.

When we allow an offense to remain in our hearts, it causes serious spiritual consequences. In the above verse Jesus named three dangerous results: betrayal, hatred and cold love. When we are offended with someone, even someone we care for, we must go to them. Otherwise, we begin to betray that relationship, talking maliciously behind their back to others, exposing their weaknesses and sins. We may mask our betrayal by saying we are just looking for advice or counsel, but when we look back, we see we have spoken negatively to far too many people. Our real goal was not to get spiritual help for ourselves but to seek revenge toward the one who offended us. How is such action not a manifestation of hatred? For an offended soul, cold love, betrayal and hatred go hand-in-hand.

People don’t usually stumble over boulders; they stumble over stones, relatively small things. It may be that the personality of someone in authority bothers us and soon we are offended. Or, a friend or family member fails to meet our expectations, and we take an offense into our soul. Beloved, if we will “endure to the end,” we will have to confront the things that bother us.

When Jesus warns that we need endurance, He is saying that it is easier to begin the race than finish it. Between now and the day you die, there will be major times of offense that you will need to overcome. You might be in such a time right now. Do not minimize the danger of harboring an offense.

No one plans on falling away; no one ever says, “Today, I think I’ll try to develop a hardened, cold heart.” Such things enter our souls through stealth and it is only naiveté that assumes it couldn’t happen to us. I know many people who consistently become offended about one thing or another. Instead of dealing with the offenses, these people carry them until the weight disables their walk with God. You may be doing fine today, but I guarantee you, tomorrow something will happen that will inevitably disappoint or wound you; some injustice will strike you, demanding you retaliate in the flesh.

The Root Of Offense
An offense can strike at our virtues or sins, our values or our pride. It can penetrate and wound any dimension of the soul, both good and evil. I once brought a series of messages about gossip. Most people saw their sin and repented, but a core group of gossips were greatly offended and ultimately left the church. When the Holy Spirit exposes sin in someone’s soul, if we refuse the opportunity to repent, we often become offended at the person who brought the teaching. Instead of humbling our hearts, we are outraged at the pastor or teachers in the church. Truthfully, most of the time, I have no idea who specifically needs to hear what I’m teaching, but God knows.

Paul told Timothy to “reprove, rebuke, exhort” (see 2 Tim. 4:2). He didn’t say, “exhort, exhort, exhort,” but exhortation is what we receive in most churches. Certainly, we need to be encouraged, but there are also times, beloved, when we need to be reproved and rebuked. Today, there are preachers who are afraid to preach truth for fear people will react and leave the church. The end result is a church of easily offended people who cannot grow beyond their inability to accept correction.

People don’t change by exhortation alone. There are areas in all of us that need to be confronted and disciplined. The pastor who refuses to discipline and correct those in sin is in disobedience to God. He is unable to lead people into any truly transforming changes in their lives; they will not “endure to the end” if they cannot be corrected (see Matt. 24).

We need to become a people who say, “Lord, show me what needs to change in me.” I’m talking about growing up. A wise man will receive a rebuke and he will prosper. But a fool rejects his father’s discipline (see Prov. 15:5).

Personal Offense
An offense can wound our pride when we are not recognized for our good works or ministry. This happened to my wife and I long ago while in California. We were young pastors at a conference when the main leader decided to personally greet each minister and wife. He greeted the couple on our right and then turned to his staff to ask a question. A moment later he returned, but passed us by and went to the couple on our left. Everyone around us saw we were bypassed. We were embarrassed and offended. But my wife wisely observed that we could allow this thing to hurt us or we could see it as an investment in sensitivity toward other people’s feelings. The offense taught us how others feel when they are ignored. Do you see this? You must make that offense become an opportunity to become more Christlike.

The occasions for taking offense are practically endless. Indeed, we are daily given the opportunity to either be offended by something or to possess an unoffendable heart. The Lord’s promise is that He’s given us a new heart: a soft, entreatable heart that can be filled with His Spirit and abound with His love.

Lord, forgive me for being so easily offended and for carrying offenses. Father, my heart is foolish and weak. Grant me the unoffendable heart of Jesus Christ. Amen.

original source www.frangipane.org

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Attitude (Swindoll)

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes.”
- Charles Swindoll

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Evan Almighty - see it!


Had the opportunity to attend a private screening of Evan Almighty last night with 2 of my kids. A great, fun, family feel good movie for the Summer. Opens in theaters June 22nd. A contemporary retelling of the story of Noah, along the same lines as "Bruce Almighty", but not a bit irreverent... this one is just good clean fun.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Let Me Get Lost


For some reason I've had this song in my head for the last week or so. ;-) In order to help get it out of my system, I'm posting the lyrics here.

Cynthia Clawson wrote and recorded it in 1986. Yes, I'm dating myself now, but I have to be one of her biggest fans! She has one of the most incredible voices I've ever heard, and what she does on records pales in comparison to what she can do live - a rarity! This song is from her CD "Immortal" which is probably one of her best projects, IMHO.

Let Me Get Lost
Words by Cynthia Clawson, Music by Cynthia Clawson and John Rosasco

I've spent most of my life
Trying to find a way
To satisfy some hunger in my soul
I wanted to be recognized
As one to take the lead
But somewhere in the crowd I lost the road

I'm running round in circles
I've run out of control
I'm small - I'm spent
I'm giving You my hand

(Chorus)
Let me get lost in something bigger than myself
Let me get lost in a cause for someone else
Show me the way to set my eyes on sights above
On my way back home
Let me get lost in Your love

I have wasted hours searching - but I can't see
Where I should go or what I need to do
I'm lost in indecision
Another choice ahead
I need someone to take my by the hand

Lord, You understand me
You know my ways and deeds
I take - You give
Now take me back again

(repeat chorus)



(c) 1986 by Calla Lily Productions/BMI, Dayspring Music (a div. of Word, Inc.)/BMI, and Geodesic Music/ASCAP. Used by permission. All Rights Reserved.


may post the mp3 of this here later...

24 Season Finale?

What was that?!?! Our favorite "man show, shoot 'em up" drama/suspense TV program turned into a cheesy soap opera!! (complete with Chloe pregnant?) Don't get me wrong, it was great - the real 24 we've all come to love - until the last 15 minutes or so when it just stopped in it's tracks for "One Life to Live" or something... and the cliffhanger?? (get it?) hehe ...Jack staring into the water from the cliff above [fade to black]. Great episode(s) minus the last 15 minutes. Was it just me, or does anyone else agree that was really stretching it and a very weak ending?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Sin And Self-Centeredness

Ran across this devotional from "The Purpose Driven Life" in my inbox this morning, and thought it worthy of archiving on my own blog. To view the devotion in it's original format, click here.

Sin And Self-Centeredness
By Jon Walker

“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love other believers.” (1 John 3:14 GW)

Living for yourself is essentially the same thing as sin.

When we live for ourselves, we live as if we’re separated from God – and that’s when we, as believers, become mean and selfish, insensitive and manipulative. It’s exactly this kind of sinful, self-preserving behavior and attitudes that fill our paychecks with death (Romans 6:23).

On the other hand, living for others allows us to access eternal life right here and right now. How? God’s life, his Spirit within us, is eternal life, and through the power of his life within us, we can live for others, listening to his Spirit as he guides us to the best places to meet their needs.

When we believe in Christ and receive him into our hearts, we not only receive eternal life (looking to the future), but we also become “partakers of the divine nature” (looking at the present – 2 Peter 1:4). We are “new creations” (2 Corinthians 5:17), joined for eternity with God’s life, but that God-life also is active in us as the Holy Spirit indwells our being.

By believing the truth – that God is looking out for us – we don’t need to look out for ourselves, and that means we can look out for others (Matthew 6:33; Philippians 4:19). God’s deep, intimate, supportive fellowship with us gives birth to a deep, intimate, supportive fellowship with other believers (1 John 1:7).

Listen: Our fellowship with God is worked out best in fellowship with other people.

As new creations in Christ, you need no longer be motivated by fears; you’re now free to look at life through the lens of love – viewing what is best for others. This activates the fruit of the Spirit – love in its many flavors: joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control. When you make it your aim to love, the spirit of God releases “the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Christ” through you – an aroma that moves, Paul says, “from Life to life.” (2 Corinthians 2:14-16)

So what?

· God’s best – When God and his loving nature become your point of reference, you can start asking: “What’s God’s best for others in this situation?” That inspires a quality of service to others that rises far above what we are likely to give if we only offer them our own “best.”

· The mind of Christ guides your service – In Philippians 4:8, Paul gives us a grid to filter out anything that is not consistent with the mind of Christ. If an image is not true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, or of good report, if a thought is not excellent and praiseworthy, it is to be filtered out by the mind of Christ so as not to find a landing place in us.

· The power of God enables your service – Ephesians 3:20 tells us that God’s “mighty power at work within us ... is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.” (NLT) Don’t allow your vision of what is possible in serving others to be limited by what you see as your own strength and resources.

· Serve, not served (Mark 10:45) – Jesus came as a servant, (Philippians 2:5-7) telling his disciples, “I AM among you as one who serves.” (Luke 22:27) Take a look at three or four of your closest relationships and ask, “How can I serve this person?” List specific ways you can serve them as Christ would.

© 2007 Jon Walker. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

shocking... Melinda goes home

shocking... Melinda Doolittle voted off American Idol. She was, no doubt, the best singer and most consistent contestant this season. Her consistency and professionalism may have been her undoing. (She HAS already sung on some great projects. Click here and then the "credits" tab for the list.) All I can say is that now it IS back to an amateur contest. So now... Go Blake! Who would have guessed Blake might win this thing?

The positive of this is that Melinda can now make her own recording, without any ties to AI, and it can be a true reflection of her - sorta like Elliott Yamin from last year.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Idol chatter

Okay, yes, we watch American Idol almost religiously. As of tonight, here are my picks for the remaining contestants this season. (A few ties - I just can't make up my mind)

1. Melinda Doolittle - although LaKisha was my #1 pick after the first show, Melinda has proven herself as a total professional. Years of singing backup has certainly paid off, and made her the one to beat this year. She is just in a different league - a pro!

3. LaKisha Jones - still one of my favorites, but I'm not sure she'll have enough to pull ahead of Melinda. Great voice - could definitely be the next Jennifer Hudson, non-winner, superstar with the right break. The kiss to Simon Cowell tonight will be talked about for a long time - too funny!

3. Blake Lewis - Okay, I was totally blown away by Blake's arrangement of "You Give Love a Bad Name" tonight. This guy is definitely talented, and brings his own fresh arrangments of these songs to the coaching sessions. Tonight's arrangement was a perfect example. Very risky, but it paid off... the only word I could keep repeating afterward was "incredible." If he doesn't win, he will definitely get a record deal, and I wouldn't be surprised if people seek him out to collaborate for his fresh arrangments.

5. Chris Richardson - the kid IS Justin Timberlake... is there any denying it? Yes he does sing a bit nasaly, but he definitely has "what he does" down. Blue-eyed soul - gotta love it!

5. Phil Stacey - probably the best overall male singer on the program, but just lacks something. Don't get me wrong, he's a great singer, very strong voice, but I just don't see him as the next American Idol.

6. Jordin Sparks - This girl is FANTASTIC for a 17 year old - for an any-year old for that matter. Great voice, very talented, but just not quite in the same league as the other contestants. She had many great weeks, but is just not quite as consistent.

So who do I think are going home tomorrow night? Jordin & either Chris or Phil. This is the hard part of AI - toward the end when they really all deserve to be there.

Other...

  • Speaking of deserving to be there, aren't well all glad Sanjaya is gone? Good grief!! So many other good singers voted off before they should have been - before Sanjaya... like almost all of the other top 11 contestants! votefortheworst.com - so frustrating!
  • Taylor Hicks - where is he? Have he or Katharine McPhee even been mentioned, much less featured to appear? Maybe because they shouldn't have been the final two last season. Who should it have been then?
  • Elliot Yamin. His first project finally released a few weeks ago. It is incredible, fun, and all Elliot - this is what contestants can do when they don't win - go out and make an album that really characterizes who they are. This is exactly what Elliot did. If you loved him and his soulful vocal stylings last season, you will absolutely love this CD. It is Elliot singing Elliot.
Okay, those are my idol ramblings for now.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Happy 18th Anniversary

Happy Anniversary to my lovely bride of 18 years. We enjoyed a great day together! Church, lunch at Copeland's Cheesecake Bistro, then a nice stroll around Atlantic Station with a bit of shopping, of course, then on the way home a light supper at Macaroni Grill. What a joy to be on the journey of life with such a wonderful lady!

Happy Anniversary!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

simple church - this just makes sense

This is a great overview of "simple church" from Thom Rainer

The Simple Church
by Thom S. Rainer
from Outreach magazine, May/June 2006

Are you in a church that seems so incredibly busy that nothing seems to get done? Are the people in the church weary from activities? Do the ministers rarely get a break from their seven-day-a-week responsibilities?

If you've answered "yes" to any of the questions above, welcome to the crowd. Many churches today are becoming busier—and less effective.

Our team recently conducted a major research project that examined the activities of churches in North America. Our conclusion was basic but profound: Simple churches are more effective in both evangelism and discipleship; busy, activity-filled churches are less effective in these areas.

Simple Church Defined

When our team talks about a simple church, we have a very specific definition. It is a congregation designed around a straightforward and strategic process that moves people through the stages of spiritual growth.

This definition has some weight to it, so let's walk through it one phrase at a time.

A simple church is designed. It's not carelessly thrown together or haphazardly planned. The ministry doesn't "just happen"; it's thought-out, structured and designed with care.

A simple church is designed around … meaning that the programs and ministries revolve around something. They're not just plugged into the church calendar. Everything is designed around something. And that something is not a nebulous, abstract concept.

The design revolves around a straightforward and strategic process. The process is simple and easy to grasp. The leaders know it, and the people understand it. The process is intentionally kept simple. It's not lengthened or changed every few months. Complexity is not welcome. The church chooses to stay simple and rejects the multitude of new programs and models offered to it.

The process is also strategic, closely knitted to the church's purpose or vision. The process is built for execution to impact people. It's designed to be sequential so that people can move through the process.

The simple process moves people. People are attracted to Christ and the church, and are then moved to points of attachment. Ministries and programs in a simple church are used as tools to promote this movement.

People are moved through the stages of spiritual growth. The movement has an intentional and intended end result: Changed lives are the bottom line. A simple church understands that people are at different places in their spiritual journeys and that spiritual growth is a process. The church is designed to partner with God to move people through stages of spiritual growth.

Sadly, most churches miss this truth. They are not simple. They have not designed a simple process for discipleship. They have not structured themselves around the process of spiritual transformation. And as a result, they are making little impact.

These churches need an extreme makeover. They desperately need a new design for church ministry. We make these statements with confidence because our research indicates that the simple church strategy is effective. A simple process makes a major difference.

First Steps to Simplicity

The beginning of the simple church revolution is to decide what your church really needs to reach people for Christ and to move people to become more devoted followers of Him. The tough task is to eliminate everything else that makes no difference in this process.

Start with defining your process of disciple-making. Align all that your church does around this process, and get rid of the programs and ministries that don't facilitate or nurture that process.

It may take some time to move your church to simplicity, but the result is worth the wait. In a simple church, lives are changed. Your church is effective.

Let the revolution begin!



This just makes sense, doesn't it?

Monday, April 09, 2007

Why I don't give voice lessons

This has already been deleted from youtube - and I have no idea why, other than the guy has a terrible voice. :-)

See if you can find a copy by googling "Shane teaches how to sing up to 3 C's above middle C"

Don't watch unless you have 10 extra minutes to waste laughing...



This is one of the reasons I no longer teach voice lessons.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Jennifer Hudson - Easter 2007 in Atlanta

Not sure how long this link will stay active, but here's a quick clip of Jennifer Hudson singing in Atlanta on Easter. Click Here.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Global Warming?

It's 28 degrees in "Hotlanta" the day before Easter!! Will the scientists with at least a little bit of intellectual honesty please speak up.

Seriously, I'm all for taking care of God's creation, but the whole global warming thing is really getting old, don't you think?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Here we go again!!

Southwestern officers to consider conduct of Arlington trustee

McKissic responds to SWBTS trustee Chairman

(Good background is available HERE and HERE if you need to catch up)

Your church or Pastor could be the next target of the SBC... just think about it...

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A great quick read...

Here's a great, and quick read for Baptist folk (and non-Baptists too!)

Ed Stetzer's "Toward a Missional Convention". Lots to consider here, much of it sad but true.

Maybe there is hope for the convention after all...???

You can also listen to it online, or download the MP3 by clicking HERE

Monday, February 26, 2007

Of Dixie Chicks and Dreamgirls

this will be brief... but isn't it interesting how some of the awards shows work? My favorites are the Grammys and the Oscars. Each "industry" awards itself (or those that tow the party line of each industry). Where does this lead? To things like the Dixie Chicks winning 5 grammys. Uh... perhaps the music industry's jab at the president? Ya think!?!? Politics - gotta love it! Then last night at the Oscars more of the same. "An Inconvenient Truth" (Al Gore's global warming documentary) and song of the year goes to Melissa Etheridge? (who, by the way, comes to the stage to accept the award and thanks her "wife"?) ...with 3 songs from Dreamgirls nominated in the same category? they're kidding, right?!?!? Anyone that watched the song performances during the show could clearly see that any one of the Dreamgirls songs should have won. That point, to me, was especially obvious, since the award was announced immediately following a powerhouse performance of the 3 Dreamgirls songs, which completely blew the other 2 songs away. That glaring error was made somewhat bearable since Jennifer Hudson WAS awarded for her role in Dreamgirls earlier in the show. Oh, well... all we can do is long for the days when entertainment was just entertainment and not politics. Does anyone remember when that was?

The bottom line - these two award shows have nothing to do with public opinion, box office, album sales, or the average American - it's all about each self-absorbed industry making their political point about the latest cause.

Friday, February 23, 2007

This is just strange

Okay, this is just strange. Blogger.com has updated their interface to work with existing Google accounts and now my feedburner button is showing old posts as current, by about one year off... that is just strange. Gotta love technology - as I have blogged before, it's great when it works... when it doesn't, it can really get on my nerves!! Anyway, enough rambling, just wanted anyone that might care or notice to know that I was aware of the issue and strangeness of it all.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Something Baptists Should Read Carefully

Here is an article all Southern Baptists should read very carefully!

http://kerussocharis.blogspot.com/2007/02/im-not-in-it-to-win-it-im-in-it-to.html

Lakisha Jones...

...should be the next American Idol - at least based on the last two night's shows. This girl can sing!! Not even in the same category as any of the other contestants in my opinion. She came out and nailed Jennifer Hudson's song, "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going". The guys were pitiful the night before, and all but 2 or 3 of the other girls could even compare to what Lakisha did. Incredible voice, great story, humble personality - my choice (so far) for the next winner!