Writing Stories Part 1

May 28th. Wow. The year isn’t even half over and already it looks entirely different than I could have ever predicted.

In January I had every intention of sitting down and writing some stories for my life in 2010. And although I thought about them a lot, right now I’m glad I didn’t write them down. Because God has done a number on my heart since then and most of those stories would be obsolete and quite frankly unimportant to me, stories I wouldn’t even want to pursue. But since this year started, I feel like God has placed new stories in my heart. But this time, they aren’t mine, they are His for me. And that makes all difference.

As I write this I am still having an argument in my head as to whether or not I’m going to write stories for my life for the rest of 2010 (and beyond). Part of me just wants to get them down on paper and out of my head in order to process them. Part of me is afraid to put them down on paper because what if they don’t happen or they become obsolete. And the other, bigger, part of me is afraid to put them down because putting them down on paper means being held accountable for them, it means they’re real. And as exciting as that is it can also be completely terrifying at times. Because I know that the stories that God has placed on my heart are not going to be easy, they’re not going to be comfortable, they’re not going to be safe, and I like all of those things much more than I like risk.

But, let the risk taking begin. The stories are scheduled to post next week…even if in very rough draft form.

On a side note, “thank you” to those who have been a part of my bigger life story. I continue to be humbled and amazed at the people and relationships God has used to bless my life. Conversations I have had over the last five months have forever changed me. And I love that.

The Pursuit of Wisdom

“Information alone is strength without coordination. We become a danger mostly to ourselves when we have it. Understanding is the ability to coordinate that raw information in meaningful ways. Understanding creates a certain enthusiasm. We can direct our knowledge toward potentially useful ends – but we may also be a danger to others. Wisdom, however, is knowing how, when, and why we use our understanding; wisdom is settling into our understanding without being too enamored by it.”
(Shane Hipps, Flickering Pixels pg. 71)

I would contend that in today’s age of Google allowing you to find and access just about any information you could ever want, gaining information is not hard. Most people have it or are good at finding it when they don’t. Understanding, however, takes a little more work…and time. But, understanding is something that, if we work at long enough, we can attain on our own. And I think understanding is where most people stay. They reach that point and become complacent because they see themselves as “more successful” than those who simply have information.

Wisdom, is attained by far fewer. And I think it’s attained by far fewer because I believe wisdom means giving up our pride. Wisdom means acknowledging we can’t do it on our own. The Bible is pretty clear that wisdom comes only from God. Scripture also promises in James that if we lack wisdom and ask God for it, He will give it to us. But asking means acknowledging we don’t know it all and surrendering to God. That isn’t always easy.

I don’t know where you fall on the wisdom scale, but if I’m honest, I’m closer to understanding than wisdom, much closer than I’d like. But God has been working hard on my heart. He is pushing me to a point where I’m not satisfied with understanding, where I crave wisdom. I have days where I feel like I’ve reached a little bit of wisdom, that I’ve settled into a small part of my understanding without being enamored by it. Those are the days when I look at all of this technology we use in the church and want to walk away from it all. When I think “what are we doing, we don’t need this stuff.” Those are the days I use the tools most effectively because I analyze how and why I’m using them. And sometimes that means not using them on that day.

But, then there are days when I find myself right back in the middle of simply understanding. And perhaps part of life’s journey is not quickly and easily reaching wisdom, but continually striving for it. I would guess most of us have a long way to go before we reach a more permanent state of wisdom. And I’m not saying we all need to get there right now. But, I would challenge everyone, including myself, to pursue wisdom daily.

That pursuit may (likely will) take you out of your comfort zone. You will likely have to overcome fear along the way. But I believe from experience that there is an unexplainable peace and joy that comes with full surrender. Will you join me in the challenge to pursue wisdom and not be satisfied with understanding? By His grace and strength it is possible.

A closing thought: Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
– James 3:13

Leading From The Inside Out

I am a huge proponent of asking the question WHY. So, this video of course caught my attention. It’s been floating around Twitter so some of you may have already seen it. If you haven’t, it’s worth the 18 minutes and 5 seconds of your time to watch the entire thing. But, for those of you who just want the cliff notes, it’s too good not to share.

The Video…it’s not about having the time, it’s about making the time, and you should make the time for this one.

The Notes

Simon Sinek is on a mission to teach leaders how to inspire action. He published a book Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action which I plan on adding to my collection soon. You can also check out his website.  In this 18 minute TED talk, he lays out his basic principle for explaining when things don’t go as we assume or why some people, organizations, leaders, etc. are successful while others aren’t. He calls this idea, the Golden Circle.

Sinek goes on to explain that every organization knows “what” they do. Some know how they do it. But, very few know why – their cause, purpose, belief, why they exist. We tend to communicate from the outside in. But the inspired leaders & organizations think, act, & communicate from the inside out. He provides some great examples of this, and his point is: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

He goes on to further explain his idea, the underlying biology which is quite convincing, as well as giving some more fascinating examples. His bottom line is this, your goal shouldn’t be to simply do business with people who need your product, but with those who believe what you believe. And if you talk about what you believe, those people will come. But, in order to talk about why you do what you do, you have to of course know why you do it. And you may even find that when you attract people who believe what you believe they will take your cause and make it their own.

Sinek concludes with this: (In reference to Dr. King) “He gave the I have a dream speech not the I have a plan speech…There are leaders & there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or authority. But, those who lead inspire us. Whether they’re individuals or organizations we follow those who lead not because we have to but because we want to. We follow those who lead not for them but for ourselves. And it’s those who start with why that have the ability to inspire those around them.”

So, I ask you, do you know WHY you do what you do? And by the way, your what may be much bigger than your job.

I’m at a point in my life where I need to redefine WHY I do what I do (the bigger than the job what). Join me in the challenge?

The Question Everybody is Asking

What are you going to do next? I cannot even begin to count the number of times I’ve been asked that question…and I’m sure there will be many more to come). And the number of different looks and reactions I get when I say, “I’m not really sure,” is almost as equally high.

And the truth is, I really don’t know exactly what I’m going to do next. But, there are a few things I do know…

I know that unless God opens a blinding door somewhere else I’ll be moving to Nashville at the end of the summer.

I know that I need a bit of a break from full time church staff work…but don’t want to turn my back on the “church world.”

I know that God is calling me to get out of my comfort zone and get a fresh perspective on life before I try to lead others out of theirs.

I know that I feel God is preparing me for something…and that preparation is going to be painful at times.

I know that I feel called to eventually serve the church on a larger scope rather than one local church.

I know that visual worship and creativity remain passions of mine.

I know that people and relationships are my heart.

In short I know WHY I’m making the decisions I’m making. In some cases I know how I’m going to put the WHY into action. But at this point for the most part I don’t know the what that will be the result, the “product.” And right now, I’m okay with that, because I trust that He does.

So, if you’re wondering, that’s what I’m doing next.

#Pbhd Review

This box arrived on Friday with the beautiful Orange Thread Media logo and I was EXCITED to say the least. I’ll admit I was skeptical of the whole Playback Drive idea in the beginning – you can ask any of the guys involved, I shared my thoughts. But, I honestly believe it’s a valuable tool for churches and have now bought one myself. So, I thought I’d take a minute to share some of my thoughts on the content of the drive.

Note: If you’re looking for a more technical review of the Playback Drive check out this post from Chris Rouse or the Playback Drive website for specs. Yes, the tools are important, but my main concern with this post is the art. So, here we go.

I’ll say right away, if you are looking for a drive full of very literal content (waterfalls that are too good to be true, wooden crosses photoshopped onto a sunset background, a crowd full of fake looking worshipers with their hands raised in the air, etc) then the Playback Drive probably isn’t for you.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for more artistic expressions of those very same concepts and ideas then the Playback Drive is most definitely for you!

There was a long period of time where I avoided using still images because they all looked the same. In my opinion, they looked computer generated and lacked an element of interest. The people at Awake Images and Thr-ve (also the minds behind Simple Backs) have redeemed the use of still imagery for me. And a ton of their content is included is included FREE as a BONUS on the drive! Visual Worshiper (Camron Ware) also has some great stills.

I can honestly say that I can see myself using most of the loops during a worship service. There are some I would probably never use not because they’re not good quality, but simply because they don’t fit the environment of my current church. But, there is a good variety of textures and colors included in the content which are great for setting different tones in a worship environment.

I had people ask me before I purchased the drive if I thought it would be a good resource. I can honestly say now that yes, I think it’s a great resource. However, I will say that you have to be ready to make the content work for your environment and that may mean stepping a bit outside of the comfort zone you’ve been in with regards to media. I know I’ve been guilty of underestimating people’s ability to understand what’s communicated visually and therefore thought I had to be as literal as possible with everything. I have come to learn the value of using visual media to set a tone or create a mood and trust that it will speak to people in different ways depending on their experiences and that’s okay.

Bottom line, the content on the Playback Drive is quality. And I believe it’s content that will push churches to a new level in regards to worship media. If your church isn’t there but you want to get there, buy the drive. If you are there but need new content to keep things fresh, get the drive.

Oh, and did I mention that you’ll get a new clip each month if you purchase the drive?

One more thing, if you want a closer look at some of the content for yourself and have 45 minutes to spare, check out this PBHD Guided Tour video from Stephen Proctor.

Music to Dream On

Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent. – Victor Hugo

Music inspires me. It has the power to make me stop and think, to be silent and listen. It also has the power to make me sing aloud at the top of my lungs like a fool while driving down the highway.

My life is a series of memories and experiences to which I can almost always attach a particular song. In fact, I have a playlist called “My Life’s Soundtrack” for those times when I’m feeling nostalgic and want to remember…remember where I’ve been, the lessons I’ve learned, the people I’ve met.

I’ve recently added a new playlist to my iTunes called “Living It.” I know as I embark on this adventure of faith and dreams over the next several months that there are going to be moments where I stop and freak out, where I become my own worst enemy. One of the things I do in those moments, is put on this playlist. But, right now, it’s too short..11 songs.

So, I’m hoping you can help me out. What songs would be on your “Living It” playlist. What music inspires you to not just dream your dream but live it?