Friday, December 29, 2006

Journey Day 4

BIG BIG News! The first ever TNC CD has arrived!!!! You will be able to get your hands on your very own copy at Facedown Sunday night. Just one more reason to make it a TrueNorth New Year's Eve...

Well, we made it back safely from our visit to Knoxville. We had a great week with Laurie's parents. They live on a farm. I know I mentioned the other day that they don't have internet (which still blows my mind). But one thing they do have is this: A TRACTOR!!!!! Check this out...




Talk about redneck!!!

Our trips to Knoxville are always a great time of peace, relaxation, and reflection. I was really able to dive into Colossians, which I've been wanting to do for a while. I'm taking my time through it. I also played a lot of Mancala with Austin, which is a new, highly addictive game that he got from his Uncle Scott. Laurie and I got to go on a date, which is always a treasured time!

Well, not a whole lot of Facedown Journeying here today! Just a grateful heart!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Journey Day 3

“He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.” Psalm 40:3

New Year’s is a time when many people take inventory of their lives. New Year’s resolutions are quite common around this time of the year. Some want to lose weight. Others want to find a new job. There are some who even pledge to be better parents or spouses. It’s a chance for a new beginning.

As Christ-followers, we’ve been given the ultimate life-change experience. And there is joy in that. Everyday the Lord puts a new song in our mouth, a new energy to pursue life with. It’s the ultimate New Year’s resolution…for life!

But we have to give our all. First, it’s as simple as turning over control of our lives to Christ. Then, it’s a daily decision to pursue Him. One thing I’ll say here is that the attitude you and I choose to have effects our lives more than any of us realize.

Last night, Laurie and I went to see Will Smith’s new movie, “The Pursuit of Happyness”. What a great movie! The story is based on the life of a man who was living a hard life, trying to support his wife and son by selling bone density scanners. His sales record was horrible. Anyway, through various circumstances, his wife leaves him and he and his son wind up homeless. But through it all, he chose to pursue a better life. He never gave up…and his positive outlook on life was evident in his relationship with his son. Never once did he forget to take time to play with his son, to speak words of encouragement and wisdom into his son.

That’s how we must lead our lives. After all, we have the joy of the Lord in us! As we continue our journey this week, remember and be grateful that the Lord has put a new song in your mouth.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Journey Day 2

Merry Christmas (a day late)! I hope you had an awesome day with family and friends, celebrating the birth of our indescribable Savior!

I fully intended to blog yesterday, but we were on the road traveling to Knoxville in some pretty nasty weather. And on top of that, my in-laws don’t have internet! Now, how many people today can say that their relatives don’t have internet?!?!?

Yesterday was so cool with our kids. The excitement that they had at seeing what Santa brought them and opening gifts from their family. But what was really was a tradition my family did growing up that we are passing down to our kids. At the beginning of the Christmas season, we placed an empty manger at the foot of the tree and we told the kids that they had to help make a soft bed for baby Jesus to lay on by the Christmas morning. We went on to tell them that the way they could place a piece of straw in the manger when they did something nice for someone else. Part of it is a teaching tool, the other a sanity maker for parents because the kids actually had a reason to be good! Anyway, Christmas morning came and Santa had placed baby Jesus in the manger. The kids were so excited! It was cool to me to see the power of the REASON for Christmas shining through.

I wish all year could be the buildup to Christmas. It’s the anticipation of the coming of the King. It’s the kindness and love that seems to permeate everyone alive (well, almost everyone!). As we approach Facedown, let’s keep this in mind…the anticipation of Jesus Christ, coming to meet with us.

I will try to post everyday this week, but with living in the stone age this week, I’ll do my best! Until next time…

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Journey to Facedown - Day 1

For those of you who checked in yesterday for day 1, thanks! Unfortunately, I missed it! I guess when I said that it would begin tomorrow, I meant the day after tomorrow...yeah. That's it!

It is 7:00A and I'm getting ready to head to church for services #2 and #3 of our Christmas weekend services. Last night's service was awesome! The choir rocked. Steve's message was powerful. And there were close to 500 there!!! It was a great kick-off to the weekend.

I just want to encourage you right now to plan on being at Facedown next week. The cool thing is it's early enough so everyone can still go ring in the New Year with family and friends!

So let's start our journey together. Look at 1 Peter 2:9: "You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." We are God's people. He loves us and pursues us. And He has called us out of darkness, out of shame, and into His light, a marvelous light. We sing that song a lot at TNC, and it's not hard to figure out that it's a favorite among our people. Why? I believe it's because of the reality that the song sings of. So many were trapped in that darkness, but God pulled them out. He started pumping their hearts. He breathed a new breath into them. He brought them back to life.

This is the place to start as we move to Facedown, in a place of humility with grateful hearts for all God has done for us.

Father, thank you for the marvelous light that you sent to this earth. Thank you for leading us into the light and freeing us from the darkness. Amen.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Journey to Facedown - COMING SOON!!!

Well, this weekend brings Christmas with it. I'm can't wait! With a family of four you can guarantee that Christmas will be fun!!! And also, we'll be finishing up our Indescribable series at TrueNorth Church. The services are planned and ready to go, and our first ever choir at TNC is ready to rock it out!

So as this series comes to an end and we look to Facedown next week, I wanted to share this video with you. It's a powerful video sync'ing images with the words of the song. It's a fantastic piece of worship and praise to God...



That's some good stuff! Tomorrow the Journey to Facedown begins. I hope you'll join me the next week as we countdown to the New Year's Eve edition of Facedown! You won't want to miss this one. We're doing something that we've never done before at a Facedown. It's awesome!

Don't forget:
Facedown at the Imperial Theatre
December 31, 2006 (New Year's Eve)
6:00PM (doors open at 5:30P)

Let's pack the place out! 850 seats filled with worshippers of God. How cool would that be?

Death to a blog

After thinking on it for a long while, I've decided to kill off the Creative Arts Blog. To be honest, I barely have time to update my own blog, and most of the stuff I could post on the CABlog is stuff I could post on the 247 blog. So, FINAL NOTICE: the Creative Arts Blog is now dead...let us mourn it's short life together.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Movies...

Well, it's been a long week for the Bradford household. 4 out of the 6 of us contracted a nasty stomach virus and, needless to say, it hasn't been pretty. But, alas, we are on the mend. So, with it all, we've been watching a lot of TV since we haven't been able to move. Here's what we've seen...

Superman Returns - pretty good move...though kind of long. I'm a huge superhero buff, so it was cool seeing the man of steel on the big screen again. One really cool part of the movie for me is when Superman and Lois Lane are flying above the city and he recalls an article she wrote titled "Why the World Doesn't Need Superman". He recalls a part of the article in which she says that people just don't need a savior today. But, he says, if that's true, then why does he hear so many crying out for one every day? What a powerful line! And I can't agree more. People are crying out for a Savior, but, for many, there is no one there to show them the way. At TrueNorth, we're encourage our people to be that person, the one that helps them find the way to the Savior. This weekend is a great example. Christmas is a time when many are open to coming to church. But they must be invited! And that's what we encourage our people to do. Extend the invite to some one who needs to hear about the indescribable love that God has for them!

Lord of the Rings (The Fellowship of the Ring & The Two Towers) - Incredible movies. It's a tale that you can get lost in and the underlying message of good overcoming evil is powerful!

The Glenn Miller Story - This is a movie made in the 40's or 50's on the life of the great big band leader, Glenn Miller. It is very inspiring to me in how his love for his wife was the hinge point of his world. He wrote many songs based around things that made his wife happy. Now, as a worship leader, most of my songs end up proclaiming the glory of God. But the movie inspires me to do for my wife to show my love for her. That's what I've been inspired to do.

So, that's been my week...camped out in front of the TV trying to recover.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Indescribable

Wow! What an incredible start to our Christmas series "Indescribable"! Sometimes you just have to stop and wonder at the way our God works...and this is definitely one of those times.

The first week Steve challenged our people to write down the names of their fish (their unchurched friends) that they would like to see come to TrueNorth during Christmas. Once the names were written down, everyone walked forward to lay their lists in the manger. Very powerful! Well, we did some tallying and came up with over 1600 names! Needless to say we were blown away!!! Then, this past weekend, our TNC parade float was in the Augusta parade. Those involved from TNC handed out about 1700 fish cards!

People...God's up to something. I can feel it and see it. I am anticipating this weekend like none before. I love seeing the power of God at work and I believe we'll taste it once more this weekend. And it's a weekend you won't want to miss! We have our first choir joining the band this week...and they rock! Not to mention the annual TrueNorth Gift Giveaway. Maybe Santa's helpers will pick you!

Lastly, I received a disc of pictures from one of our photographers on Sunday with pictures from our first few weeks in the gym. Man, God has blessed us in incredible ways! So, for your viewing pleasure...


















Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Pursuing Excellence

Well, Christmas is upon us. There is a chill in the air...well, sometimes. It's so cool driving around looking at the lights decorating houses and hearing the words "Merry Christmas" all around. You can definitely sense the anticipation in everyone you meet. Very cool.

We had our first choir practice last night and I have to say I'm very excited about TNC's first ever praise choir. They sound really good and the energy from each member is contagious! You won't want to miss hearing them during our Christmas weekend services!

Last week, I mentioned a group of verses that God has been leading me to. Those verses are found in Colossians 3, verses 1-4 and 17. (You can find them here and here.) God has been impressing on my heart that, as a Christ-follower, I must pursue excellence in everything I do, regardless of how important or menial the task. So I've been thinking a lot about what excellence is and how to really pursue it without getting caught up in perfection.

I looked up the definition of excellence and came across this: the quality of being outstanding or extremely good. Some other words I found related to excellence are distinction, quality, superiority, brilliance, greatness, skill, talent, and mastery. Now, I know what you're thinking...if this is what excellence is, count me out because I don't have any of that stuff. But I believe differently. We all have these characteristics in us...there's brilliance and greatness in each of us because we have Christ in us. The Author of excellence has given me and you a unique set of talents, passions, and experiences that He wants to use, if we'd only let Him.

So how do we pursue excellence? How do we get there? Through the verses in Colossians, I came to believe in three simple things:

1. Our pursuit of excellence must start with our pursuit of God. Verses 1-4 remind us that we should set our minds on things that are above. Actually, the writer, Paul, feels so strongly about this that he says it twice in verses 1 and 2. What are the things above that we should set our minds on? See Philippians 4:8-9. If we will focus on Christ and the fact that He is our life (verse 4), our pursuit of excellence will start with the Excellent One, which is exactly where it should start.

2. Our pursuit of excellence requires that we give our best. To put it simply, we do our best with what God has given us. You may not be able to write a number one hit song, or speak eloquently, but you have specializations elsewhere. You may be a plumber, or a business executive, or a sales person, or a stay at home mom...whatever you do, God has put you there for a reason and He has given you a unique combination of talents, passions and experiences. Verse 17a says "whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus." We must live with this conviction, this burden that we are living representation of the name of the Lord Jesus.

Here is one thing that has hit home with me over the past few months. In a fallen and hurting world that is always seeking hope and love and keeps on coming up empty, God is calling out for His people to step up and influence our culture in a positive way. But how do we influence a culture that seems to reject us? I believe with all my heart that it is through doing what we do to the best of our ability. If I'm a plumber and I give my all to the job, over time that is going to gain respect from those I work with. Eventually, I will gain influence with them because they are going to watch me and wonder what is different about me. And there is my opportunity to share the incredible news of Jesus Christ with them. Think about it. All of us will be willing to listen to someone we respect. So, I hope you see how important it is to give our best with what we have.

3. Our pursuit of excellence must end with God. The movie "Facing the Giants" that came out this past October has a powerful message. It is summed up best by the new principle the coach offers his players at one point: "If we win, we praise Him. If we lose, we praise Him." It is essential that we recognize the Giver of talents, passions, and experiences. If we don't, the danger will come through pride and arrogance. We will begin to point the praise to ourselves instead of to God. Humility is an essential ingredient to pursuing excellence. Giving the credit, the praise back to God is a must.

Laura Owings has a great perspective into this. I have to say, she is one who gives her all in everything she does and I believe she has gained more influence than she could imagine. But Laura is the first to tell you it's not about her, as is evident in her blog post Eating Humble Pie. You see, she understands that this is God's and He's going to do what He wants with who He wants and she is just excited to have a part in it.

And that is the place our pursuit of excellence must come back to everytime. To God.
Dunk'd Gone Wild!

I dare anyone to do this at our next dunk'd service. Stevie D...watch out baby!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Blogging World

The ever growing blogging world has a new family member...and he's from TrueNorth. I think TNC could go in the guiness book of world records for the church with the most bloggers. (I hear rumors that Stevie D is going to start one, but we'll have to wait to find out!)

Our lead guitarist, affectionately known as the Zak Attack, has started a music blog. You can check it out here.

I've also been invited to join a network of Christian bloggers. I'm not really sure what that means, but I think I'll have some articles put up and also be on their blogroll. It may stick, it may not. Time will tell...

And one last thing...some very exciting news! The first TrueNorth CD is being sent off to be printed and packaged this week!!!! It's about time! (Can I get an AMEN! Hallelujah! Praise Jesus! ?) The release date is still TBD right now, but it's coming very soon. Keep your ears to the ground.

Oh, and one last last thing...I've been reading through Colossians lately, specifically chapter 3:1-17. Very powerful stuff! I'd encourage you to read through. I'll blog about that a little later and some things that God has revealed to me through it.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The faith of a child

Laurie and I got home last night from JTeam and Austin, my 7 year old, comes running down the stairs. He hands us this story that he wrote and I had to share it with you...

"Do you know the story of baby Jesus? I do! Do you want to hear it? I thought you would. Once a upon a time there was a man and a girl. Their names were Mary and Joseph. They had a baby and his name was Jesus. when he was a man he had to die fo rour sins. Then one day something amazing happened. God brought Jesus back to life. So he came back to heaven. And he helped god. Did you like it? I thought so. That was true."

I can't describe to you how I felt when I read this for the first time. Part of me wanted to cry. The other part wanted to share this with the world. The innocent faith of a child is so beautiful. I hope, as we enter this Christmas season, that we'll all remember Austin's story and stop the hustle and bustle that we do every Christmas...that we'll focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Consistent inconsistency

The question floating through my mind right now is "Does any read my blog anymore?" I know I've been inconsistent. Actuallly, like the title of this post says, I've been practicing consistent inconsistentcy. I was telling my friend TJ the other day that it seems that since I decided to post every Monday and Thursday I've been the worst blogger ever! (Well, next to Chuck that is...)

So here's what's been going on:

~We re-did Austin's room over the Thanksgiving week. The room went from a lovely bland white to a colorful green with brown accents. Nice!
~I heard the best sentence ever used in the English language recently at a gas station. This lady was talking to her friend on the phone and she said, and I quote: "He do do what he do for free." Ebonics at its finest!
~Took last Sunday (11/26) off while the Element Student Band led worship. I have to say, not many churches out there have a student band that is THAT GOOD! Element SMB: You guys rock!
~Yesterday was a fun day. I took a trip with two others (Lance and TJ) to the ATL to do final mixing on our album that we recorded about five years....er...months ago. The mixing is done. Artwork will be done this week. Good stuff! Anticipated release date? Well, I should have that next week. I'm sure the anticipation will kill you...but it'll be over next week. : )
~We finish up the "Go" series this week at TrueNorth. It has been an awesome series. If you missed Steve's messsage last week, I highly encourage you to your hands on a copy of it. (Which you can do through our website either by clicking on the video link by the 11/19 service or by subscribing to our Podcast which you can do by clicking on the button that says "Subscribe to Podcast".) This week is going to offer opportunities for you to respond to the charge of going "glocal". Don't miss it!
~We've been busy getting ready for our new Christmas series which starts next Sunday, December 10. The series is called Indescribable. Stay tuned for more details...

That's it. Time to finish decorating the house for Christmas!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I'm Baaaaack

Did you miss me? I have to say that the past week of not blogging was kind of nice. Don't get me wrong, I love to blog. But a break is needed every once in a while.

This past week I received a CD of pics from Facedown. There are some really cool ones and below I've posted a few of my faves...enjoy! (Note: click on any picture to enlarge)










Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Ban on Mondays

I was watching the newest Garfield movie with my boys the other day and in it Garfield makes a ban on Mondays. If you're familiar at all with the Garfield comic strip, he's not very fond of the first day of the work week because nothing good ever happens to him on that day. This week I decided to honor the big fat cat...so I'm blogging on Tuesday this week. (Of course, it has nothing to do with the nasty cold I've contracted over the past week and that I just didn't feel like it yesterday!)

I have to share something really cool from Sunday. I had the rare opportunity to sit with my wife and oldest son during the message Sunday. A very nice thing! Anyway, James (the guest speaker) asked us to turn in our bibles to a certain passage. As I was turning the pages in my bible, I looked over and noticed my 6-year old opening his bible and turning pages. I asked him if he needed help and he said yes. From that point on, he was reading along, as best he could, with the speaker. Laurie and I were beaming!

I've noticed a recent love and excitement about the bible in Austin. It's actually rather convicting because I realize I don't have that same feeling toward God's word. Oh how I want it though!

God- please give me the hunger and passion for Your Word that I see in my son!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Random things

Well, with cooler weather comes the cold bug...and he got me! I woke up this morning with a killer sore throat. Not fun!

Don't miss the beginning of our services this week. We're kicking off with Walt's "Slammed" Video.

I met a guy at Starbucks yesterday with a Missouri hat on. We got to talking and I discovered that he just moved here from Kansas City. It's nice to know that there's another Mizzou fan in town! We actually have a football team to cheer for this year!

For those of you wanting to know when the first TrueNorth CD will come out, you won't have to wait much longer! I don't have an exact date yet, but it should be out very soon!

Nothing earth shattering from me today...I will leave you with this: a tribute to kitty.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Facedown - the Afterglow

Man...what a night! I have to echo what so many said to me last night. Just when you think it can't get any better, God brings an even better one!!!

We had some photographers there last night and check out two of the pics I've seen so far...awesome!





These really help capture the night. People expressing their undying adoration and affection for the King of Kings, Jesus Christ!

I'm sure all of us have our favorite moments...here are some of mine:

-The prayer stations in the auditiorium. I'll be honest, I wasn't sure what the response would be like...and I was blown away! To look over the sea of people going through each station was cool. And the hammering on the cross is a sound I won't forget for a long time!
-The cross. I had the privilege to be in the crowd while TJ led a few songs, and seeing the cross covered with the writings of the people was very moving. After we got everything put away later that night, I was able to get up close to the cross and read some of the writings. Some were just one word. Others took up the front and back of the card they were written on. Most were face out, but some were facedown on the cross.
-The glow sticks. Seeing all of the red and green lights pumping with the beat of each song rocked! And I hope the experience was a powerful reminder that we want to break, shake and glow!

I have to shout out to some people who were vital to this edition. Walt Tanner and Laura Owings were part of my planning team...as these get bigger and bigger, I've learned to surround myself with incredibly gifted and creative people to help. Thanks! Also, my co-worship leaders TJ, Bart and Brent. Awesome, awesome job helping lead people to the foot of the cross. And always the incredible talent God has put together in the band humbles me. It's a pleasure to worship with each of you!

So, as one passes away, the next comes on the horizon. I am excited to announce the next Facedown will be on New Year's Eve at the Imperial Theatre. What a way to bring in the new year!!! Until next time...

Friday, October 27, 2006

Day 9: Our Response

Only 2 days left until Facedown. This really is going to be a cool edition to the Facedown series. Like I mentioned before, we really want this one to become more of an experience, rather than a service, that refuels us as well as propels us into the world. Sometime batteries need to be recharged. That's our desire.

There's a simple truth about worship (and the Christian life in general) that, in my opinion, cannot be said enough. Worship is our response to God's revelation. It's such a simple phrase, yet it compacts so much truth in it. Let's unpack a little bit together...

From our very first steps as Christ-followers, we have lived lives that are responding to God. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). Something that has always amazed me is that I cannot love or worship or pray or do anything in my relationship with God...without God. Jesus said this, "...the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does (John 5:19)." If Jesus could do nothing without the Father, how could we? We would be wise to live every second as spiritual first-responders. When God reveals, we respond.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Day 8: 3 Days Left!

Hello, hello. Just a short post tonight. I want to encourage all of you to come early Sunday night to Facedown. Childcare will be available at 5:30P. We are providing something new for this edition that you'll want to allow plenty of time to check out before the service starts.

Lastly, I want to reiterate what I've posted the past few days. We must prepare our hearts to meet with God. We must approach Him with expectation that we will see Him. We must remember that He saw our Sacrifice (Jesus Christ) as an acceptable sin offering once and for all and shout for joy. We must remember that the offering was His Sacrifice (His only Son) so that He could show us that He loves us and pursues us...regardless of whether we deserve it or not.

Let us approach Sunday evening with humble hearts set upon our Father and our Lord.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Day 7: Facedown Worship (Part 4 - Falling Facedown)

I have a very important announcement. The glow sticks have arrived! I am so relieved that they are here. What are they for? Well, you'll just have to be there Sunday night to find out!

So today I want to take a glimpse at the final element of Facedown Worship: falling facedown. There is a ton of this in the scriptures. You see the people of Israel doing it in the Leviticus passage we've been walking through. You see it in Revelation 1 when John encounters Christ in all His glory. You constantly see it throughout Revelation as the 24 elders practice it quite regularly. So what is it?

I think first it's important to understand that the way we posture ourselves physically is related to how we are postured inwardly. Here's a quote from Matt Redman's book Facedown:

Every posture in worship says something of both the worshipper and the One being gloried in. The raising of hands tells of a soul stretched out high in praise and the worth of the one being exalted. Joyful dancing interprets a grateful heart and points in adoration to the source of that joy. When it comes to expressing our worship, what we do on the outside is a key reflection of what's taking place on the inside. Out of the overflow of our heart we speak and sing, we dance, and we bow. God reveals, and we respond. God shines, and we reflect. In the very same way, facedown worship is the overflow of a heart humbled and amazed by the glory of God.


I couldn't say it any better. I think we can get so caught up in the expressions of worship that we forget why we do them. But everything we're doing (or not doing) is an outward reflection of what's going on inwardly.

To close, a final quote from Redman:

(Facedown worship) is people so desperate for the increase of Christ that they find themselves decreasing to the ground in an act of reverent submission. When a soul is so captivated by the Almighty, to bend low in true and total surrender seems the only appropriate response.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Day 6: Facedown Worship (Part 3 - Shouting for Joy)

Just 5 days left until Facedown! Man, I'm so pumped!!!! Does it show?

I've been working on final details for the evening today...picking up "schtuff", meeting with people who are helping out...good stuff! I am blown away each time we do Facedown by how many people willingly volunteer their time, treasures, and talents. God always provides!

So we've looked at some key elements of Facedown Worship these past few days. First, we need to prepare our hearts to meet with God. Next, we come with anticipation and expectation that we will meet God and see His glory. Today I want to look at the next part of Facedown Worship: shouting for joy.

When Moses and Aaron finished the sacrifice and came out from the Tent of Meeting (which was a place people would go to inquire of the Lord), they blessed the people. Now here's the cool part...God showed up. He didn't stop by to chat or to see how the sacrifice was going. No, HE SHOWED UP! Check this out:

"...and the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. 24And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the pieces of fat on the altar..." (verse 23b - 24a)


Now, imagine being there. You're standing there with your friends and family, wondering what's going on, trying to figure this whole sacrifice thing. Then, all of sudden, fire comes out from the mountain and consumes the offering.

I love the response of the people here. They shout for joy. We're talking like a celebration you've never seen. I don't think the biggest game winning play you've ever seen in the most important game ever could even come close. But here's why they were shouting. Are you ready? Here it goes: God accepted their offering. You're talking a huge thing here. This is the first offering the nation presented to God. This is the first time they sought after Him. And He showed up.

You know, if you think about it, this joy is available to us all the time. Jesus was the once and for all Sacrfice. His blood was the pure blood to cover all sins forever and ever. And God saw the Sacrifice and found it acceptable in His sight. We have this extreme blessing with us all the time that we seem to rarely tap into. God's Presence is in us, if we are Christ-followers. The nation of Israel threw a party because God excepted their offering, which was of no comparison to the Sacrifice...Jesus Christ. But somehow we forget to value that. I know I do. I forget about it because I allow other things to become more important in my mind.

So think about this Sunday evening when we observe communion. Christ's blood was shed and His body was broken for you and me. And God sees it as an acceptable offering to cover our multitude of sins. Let us shout for joy together!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Day 5: Facedown Worship (Part 2 - Seeing the Glory)

Well, it's late Monday and I'm just now getting to my "Journey to Facedown" blog for the day. That's how hectic the day has been! The big day is closing in and things are moving right along. I am so pumped about this edition of Facedown!

The ultimate goal of Facedown worship is to see God in His glory. It's a goal that was the heart cry of the people of Israel. Remember in Leviticus 9, Moses approached the whole thing by starting with the words "for today the LORD will appear to you" (v4). You see, the people came with expectation...they came with the anticipation that God would show up and reveal Himself to them.

And that's where we need to start on our journey. Asking God to show up Sunday night in our midst...to show us His glory. I urge you to make this your prayer this week.

Most Glorious God - You are the reason we are alive. As we move closer to Facedown, we ask You to meet with us. We want to see Your glory. Amen.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Day 4: Facedown Worship (Part 1)

The past few days we've moved through the ninth chapter of Leviticus. We've seen the importance of preparing our hearts to encounter God. We've also realized (I hope) the blessed state we are in today as Christ-followers because of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross. So now, let's turn our attention to the heart of it all...take a look at Leviticus 9:23-24:

23 Moses and Aaron then went into the Tent of Meeting. When they came out, they blessed the people; and the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. 24 Fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown.


So what is Facedown Worship? I want to take a few days to really dive into the meaning and the vision of Facedown. So for today, I want to leave you with this quote from Matt Redman's book, titled Facedown:

Facedown worship always begins as a posture of the heart. It's when we are so desperate for the increase of Christ that we find ourselves decreasing to the ground in an act of reverent submission -- becoming so captivated by the Almighty that to bend low in true and total surrender seems the only appropriate response.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Day 3: Sacrifice

Have you ever had to sacrifice something for something else? There are many times as a parent I have to decide to give up, or sacrifice, something I want or need because my kids need something. It's because I love them and care for them, and it's my responsibility to do that.

I do wonder sometimes if we fully understand sacrifice today in America. We have everything we could ever need or want at our finger tips. So what is sacrifice? Well, for starters, take a look at this...

sac‧ri‧fice (noun) - the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.

I think a good illustration is in Leviticus 9:7-22. The detail that had to be followed is amazing to me! I can pretty much guarantee no one I know has ever had to do anything like this. And why was this ritual necessary? It was in order for the Israelites to meet with God. They had to go through such painstaking detail in order to be right before God. That was a sacrifice! Not only did they have to give up some of their best animals, they had to give up their time and energy. But, it was an act that was very important to them.

Can I get an "Amen!" that we don't have to do that as Christ-followers? How blessed we are to know that there was a sacrifice presented that God found acceptable once and for all...and that sacrifice was Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of the world. The only sacrifice God requires of us now is for us to surrender our will to His.

So as you go about your day, take some time to thank God for providing the ultimate sacrifice.

God- thank you for giving your Son as the ultimate Sacrifice, once and for all. Thank you that I don't have to go through a list of rituals and rites to meet with You. Father, I do sacrifice what I have...myself. I surrender to Your will. Amen.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Day 2: Preparation Continued

Yesterday we looked at Leviticus 9:1-6 and saw the importance of preparing our hearts before we meet with God. Well, today, in a daily email I get containing words from AW Tozer, I ran across this quote:

The amount of loafing practiced by the average Christian in spiritual things would ruin a concert pianist if he allowed himself to do the same thing in the field of music. The idle puttering around that we see in church circles would end the career of a big league pitcher in one week. No scientist could solve his exacting problem if he took as little interest in it as the rank and file of Christians take in the art of being holy. The nation whose soldiers were as soft and undisciplined as the soldiers of the churches would be conquered by the first enemy that attacked it. Triumphs are not won by men in easy chairs. Success is costly. (AW Tozer, We Travel An Appointed Way, 26)


I have never thought of my pursuit of God in the context of a profession. I hate to compare it to that, because it's a lifestyle not a profession, but if you will indulge me for a moment, I'd like to explain. As Tozer said, if a concert pianist or a scientist or an army of soldiers took what they do with the same amount of passion, time and energy that I put into my pursuit of the Holy One, they'd be one sorry group of "professionals". And I have the best thing in the universe to live for...Jesus Christ!

So, in an effort to keep this shorter than the novel I wrote yesterday, I challenge you to join me in putting some thought into this whole preparation thing. Look at your life. Ask God to search you and reveal to you where you need to put more time and energy into. Ask Him to ignite a contagious passion in you. That's what our hurting world needs anyway. Passionate followers of Christ...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Day 1

We're going to start our journey to Facedown where the vision of it all comes from. It's a passage in the Old Testament book of Leviticus that I never knew existed until about two years ago. Today, we'll look at the first six verses of chapter nine. Here's the text:

1On the eighth day Moses called Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel, 2and he said to Aaron, "Take for yourself a bull calf for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering, both without blemish, and offer them before the LORD. 3And say to the people of Israel, 'Take a male goat for a sin offering, and a calf and a lamb, both a year old without blemish, for a burnt offering, 4and an ox and a ram for peace offerings, to sacrifice before the LORD, and a grain offering mixed with oil, for today the LORD will appear to you.'" 5And they brought what Moses commanded in front of the tent of meeting, and all the congregation drew near and stood before the LORD. 6And Moses said, "This is the thing that the LORD commanded you to do, that the glory of the LORD may appear to you." Leviticus 9:1-6


Imagine a day so historic, so amazing for a moment. You are one of the Israelites, a part of a new frontier - a new nation of people - and God has annointed you as His people. Wow!

So, one day the leader of your people, Moses, gathers everyone together for a very important moment...the first sacrifice was going to be presented to God. Aaron, the high priest, is there with his sons and the elders, showing support for Moses. And you hear what is required of the sacrifice:


  • a male goat for a sin offering

  • a calf and a lamb, both a year old without blemish, for a burnt offering

  • an ox and a ram for peace offerings

  • and lastly, a grain offering mixed with oil



After giving the list of requirements, Moses says, "for today the Lord will appear to you."
"Hang on a sec, Moses. What do you mean exactly? The Lord's coming here? Today?"
"Yup."

Naturally, everyone closes in a bit. You're holding your breath because you don't want to miss a thing. And then Moses says something that should speak to our hearts today:

"This is the thing that the Lord commanded you to do, that the glory of the Lord may appear to you."

I believe we miss something at times. We approach God expecting to see Him, for Him to reveal just a glimpse of His glory to us, but we don't prepare out hearts to encounter Him. We go to church with our minds scattered in a thousand place, or we go into prayer with our own agenda, and then we scratch our heads wondering why we didn't see Him. I believe Moses hits on something that we need to really soak in today.

We must prepare out hearts and our minds before approaching the throne of God. I'm not talking about a legalistic recitation of your sins (though that is necessary many times). No, I'm talking about humbling ourselves to simply say what the psalmist said many years ago: Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! (Psalm 139:23 ESV) And after we do this, it's responding to however He leads. If you have sin you need to confess, do so. If you need to focus your thoughts on Him and not on your to-do list, then do so.

In this edition of Facedown, we're going to try something new. We are shifting our focus away from Facedown being a service and trying to build an experience that serves as a catalyst in your life. And part of that will be the preparation I've been talking about.

It is our desire that each one of us will be refueled so that we can continuing living out in the world around us. I hope you won't miss it. It's going to be amazing!

Monday, October 16, 2006

On the Horizon

Man...I will say that yesterday's services had some of the most powerful endings that we've ever experienced at TrueNorth! Steve and the panel of experts he had did a fantastic job of wrapping up our "Let's Talk About Sex" series. But bigger than that, they opened up the door in a lot of hearts to be reconnected with God and healed through mistakes and bad experiences they had in the past related to sex. As the band sang through the song "Unashamed" by Starfield, you could see individuals laying their past at the feet of God. The last lines of the song say it beautifully:

Here I am at Your feet
In my brokenness complete

Powerful, powerful stuff! So our first sex series has come and gone and I believe we've realized that it is a very sensitive topic that people really need to hear about. If you missed any weeks, click here to listen to any of the weeks. You will have to check out the previous series tab after this week because we'll be posting our next series info later in the week.

Which leads me to the next thing. Sunday we start a new series titled "Facing the Giants", a 4-week series that will layout how to overcome the giants in our lives. It's going to be a great series...you won't want to miss it!

Lastly, Facedown is coming up Sunday, October 29. I am so pumped about this edition! We have felt God leading us to make this more about an experience that serves as a catalyst in our relationships with God and others, as well as a propelling factor out into the world to be a light. The evening will start at 6:00P, with childcare available at 5:30P. You'll want to get there early as seating will go quick!

Oh...tomorrow I will start the journey to Facedown, a daily countdown to that evening with devotional thoughts to help prepare us for that night. Make sure you check it out!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Catalyst Session 4: Gary Haugen

I know what you're thinking. Where did Session 3 go? Well, I played hokey during that session so I could explore some of the vendor booths they had available in the lobby.

Session 4 saw the president of International Justice Mission, Gary Haugen, speak. He spoke a lot about social injustice around the world, specifically about slavery and child sex slaves.

One particular story he mentioned was one of a 16 year old in a country in Asia. She decided to get a job over the school break to make money for her return to school. Some women from her village told her to go with them across the border into the next country to look for jobs. The next thing she knew she was being sold as a sex slave. From there, she was thrown into a room and basically had to perform whatever men wanted her to. Not a life for a 16 year old. Well, through his organization, they were able to rescue this girl, as well as 20 others. Since then, she came to spend time with Gary and his family here in the states. What an incredible mission!

Gary defined injustice as the abuse of power to take the things God has given others. His focal message begins with a question. How can the world believe God is good in light of the injustice in the world? The answer...we, the church, are the plan to end injustice. God wants to use us.

Catalyst Session 2: Marcus Buckingham

So I finally got my thoughts collected from the Catalyst Conference we went to last week. I already shared my thoughts from session 1 with Andy Stanley.


Session 2 featured Marcus Buckingham, a British-born management consultant and author. He has a very unique message that has impacted me and many others from our team greatly. Here are my notes:

-Overall message is to focus making your strengths stronger, instead of your weaknesses. That is the key to growth.
-What is the job of a manager? To turn people's talent into performance by speeding their talent up to meet the goals of the team. He also said that great managers believe the success of their people is important...they actually love to help people grow. It fuels them.
-How do they do that? By finding out what is unique about each person and captilalizing on it. They help people refine their strengths.
-He made the statement that if you invert bad, you get not bad. You don't get great or excellent.
-How do you better yourself? Focus on who you are, not who you aren't. He said to allow yourself 25% of your daily activities to cover those things that aren't your strengths (things that have to get taken care of because of your position and responsibilities), and focus the other 75% on things that are your strengths.
-3 Myths that he presented:
1. As you grow, your personality changes. (TRUTH: As you grow, you become more and more of who you are.)
2. You'll grow the most in your areas of weakness. (TRUTH: You'll grow the most in your areas of strength.)
3. The team needs you to chip in whatever it takes. (TRUTH: The team needs you to step up in your strengths.)

A final quote he left us with: "And the day came when the risk it took to remain in the bud became greater than thet risk of coming out as a blossom."

My question to you is this: are you willing to take the risk and be who you are, who God made you to be...to grow stronger in the areas where you are strongest?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Reflections on Sunday

Another weekend at TNC has come and gone. It's so cool to be a part of God's work every week! It is also extremely humbling. As I think about this past weekend, here are some thoughts:

-people's lives are being changed. We had two connection cards turned in this Sunday from people wanting to become Christ-followers! There have been 3 or 4 others throughout these past few weeks.
-the new setup in the gym is pretty cool. I'm just blown away by what God has provided for us to make this transition. From the money, to the equipment, to the people...He has been in it all!!!!
-there's been some incredible energy in the services. The past few weeks, especially, it seems everyone is starting to feel more and more at home in the gym. I think the biggest hurdle we've had to face in this transition has not been the setup and operation of all the new equipment. No, it's been the loss of the intimate environment we had in the auditorium. But I'm beginning to see a new life being breathed in our church. I'm excited to continue watching it!
-the sex series has been a timely one. In our day and age of the internet and media, sex is everywhere. It is vital that we hear the truth from the word of God on this subject. We wrap up the series this week with a message on sexual healing and how to deal with guilt related to past mistakes.

I'm pumped to see what God has in store for us in the next series, Facing the Giants, and beyond that.

I do plan to follow up my last post with a few words on the Catalyst Conference the staff and lead team went to last week. I will do that over the next few days. Until then...

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Catalyst

Hello from the Atl. That's right, I'm in Atlanta with the staff for the Catalyst Conference. It's a two day conference focusing on inspiring leaders with fresh ideas and creative approaches. And I have to say we have NOT been disappointed!

I'd like to break down the whole conference by speaker, but that won't happen right now as it's almost 11:00P and I've been up since 4:30A! I will share a little from the first speaker, Andy Stanley from Northpoint Community Church.

His scripture focus was from the Old Testament book of Daniel. And from this passage is where the central point of Andy's message came from: that the Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone He wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men. Translation: everything (specifically leadership in this case) is on loan to us and temporary and we are held accountable for what we are given. The bottom line is that we should never hold tightly to anything because those things are God's in the first place and we are just temporary stewards of those things.

It's a powerful truth for all of us to start applying to our lives. So I'll let you chew on that until next time...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Makin' a joyful noise

Well, I've already blown my blogging schedule, and I've only been on it one week! Go Kevin.

I'm still blown away at how awesome Sunday's services were. We were making a joyful noise! I loved the competition between the floor and the balcony dwellers. The walls were shaking!

As I've reflected on the services, something has struck me. We don't make enough noise sometimes. I think we have either been too conditioned to be respectful and reverent in our worship or we've become disconnected from our emotions. Many times through the Psalms we are told to make a joyful noise. (Better a joyful noise from the heart than a pretty song without heart!) Just look at that phrase:

Joyful = an emotion you can't contain
Noise = a celebrative sound that doesn't necessarily sound good

My hope is that people are beginning to understand that the presentation of worship isn't what's important...it's whether it's coming from the heart...whether it's sincere. Worship should always be our response to God in our lives...the overflow of our love and adoration for Him. It's grateful hearts celebrating what God did to set them free from the chains of sin and despair.

I look forward to every Sunday at TrueNorth because I know that people are learning and practicing this life-changing principle. Have a good week!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Facedown's a-comin'

I've started turning my attention to our next installment of Facedown, which is October 29. I am so pumped about this one! I don't want to give anything away, but I can already tell you this is going to be one incredible night.

As each Facedown develops, they take on their own personality. That's what I love...each one is different. This one I've really felt God stirring in my heart that Facedown needs to go back to it's roots this time. What are those roots? Glad you asked!

Facedown is founding on Leviticus 9:23-24. In the Bradford translation (which means I'm giving a quick look at it) God's glory appears to all the people as He consumes their first offering with fire. When they saw it, the Israelites shouted for joy...but then, realizing that God had actually accepted the offering, they fell facedown with a holy fear. Those are the pillars of Facedown: shouting for joy and falling facedown. So, you could almost call this one getting back to the basics. We will encounter God that night through humbled hearts bent towards seeking His glory.

Stay tuned as things develop!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Let's Go Tigers, Let's Go


I know today isn't Thursday, but I had to post this. My Tigers (Go Mizzou) broke the Top 25 this week. Let's go Tigers, let's GO!

I realize that I'm probably the only Mizzou fan in the CSRA (except for my son!), but when your team starts 4-0 for the first time since Noah and the ark, you HAVE to celebrate!

Monday, September 25, 2006

You Never Let Go

So I decided after a few weeks of sporadic blogging that I'm going to put myself on a schedule (or a "shed-ule" like they say in the UK). So for those of you faithful readers out there (both of you), I'll be posting on Mondays and Thursdays. And that's that.

Reflecting on yesterday's services, the highlight for me was the new song "You Never Let Go". What a powerful song! It has hit me lately that people are walking around wounded all the time. And how powerful it is to know that God isn't letting go of us...that He's always with us, through the calm and through the storm. If the song hit you in a powerful way, do me a favor and put a comment here with this post about your thoughts on the song.

Well, have a great week and we'll blog at you on Thursday!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Blessed Be Your Name

Lately life has been a mess. The obvious is that 4 kids keeps us busy. So has the transition to the gym for the church. And not to mention my other duties as a husband, a father, a worship leader, a journey team leader, etc. So you can imagine the craziness of life!

Today it hit me when we were singing Blessed Be Your Name how God wants us to rely on Him despite our circumstances. If I can learn how to bless His Name regardless of what I'm going through, then I think I've taken a step closer to His heart.

It's been cool to watch the response to that song as we sing it at TNC. I have begun to realize that people connect with that song because life is messy and messed up! I'm so thankful for a God who cares about me...who loves me regardless of what or who I am.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Laughter is healing

Tonight our Jteam just had a social night. We started a new group with two awesome leaders (Jon and Jennifer Pruett), so we kept it simple tonight. After eating and doing some announcements, we played catch phrase. What a blast! I haven't laughed like that in a while.

I've always wondered what it is about laughing that can be so healing. Life has been so crazy busy lately, I needed tonight!

On another front, here's a picture of the gym on Saturday from TNC photographer Zaki Rucker:



Thanks Zaki! What a great start to a new season at TrueNorth!

Monday, September 11, 2006

We made it!

Well, we finally made it to the NAHS gym yesterday! After months of planning, purchases and preparation, we did it and it excited all expectations. God is amazing!!! I think the most powerful moment of the service was during the song "My Desire". God took over at that point and really spoke to a lot of hearts. He really worked in me through it.

So we have turned the page to a new era for TrueNorth. We've added a bunch more seats allowing more people to come in and experience the change. I'm so pumped at what our amazing God has in store for us.

To Him be the glory!

Friday, September 08, 2006

You Never Let Go

Matt Redman's new song, You Never Let Go, has been ringing in my ears this evening. There's so much hurt and pain out there...so much hopelessness and despair...so much loneliness and feelings of having no purpose...this song is a great comfort. Here are the words of the chorus:

O no, You never let go through the calm and through the storm
O no, You never let go through every high and every low
O no, You never let go, Lord, You never let go of me

I think we forget sometimes that God is with us. It's easy to feel abandon at times because we can't feel Him near us. I love the poem called footprints. The author speaks this very thought of abandonment by God...but then he realizes that God has been carrying Him.

It's interesting to me that, with all the excitement of TrueNorth moving to the gym this weekend, this would be the thought I blog about. But I think there are quite a few out there that feel this way. Those that are feeling this way have been near to my heart lately. So here's a shout of encouragement: God never lets go of you.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

FryPod


Yesterday, Chuck and I went to Burger King (or as my 6 year old says, Booger King) for lunch. As I got to the register, I notice a new spin on Apple's iPod...the FryPod. I think it's brilliant!

I've seen a lot of churches do iPod type series...maybe we'll be the first to do FryPod. You never know!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Bye Bye Bye

Yesterday we bid farewell to the auditorium...or, as in the words of the immortal boyband NSync, "bye bye bye"...

It's been an amazing two years in the auditorium. God has done some incredible things through TNC in that building. To think back over these two years, I'd have to say some of my favorite moments were Facedown and Dunk'd services. Seeing people admit publicly their devotion to Christ is amazing, and we've seen a bunch do it in the auditorium! And then to see people engage their hearts with God's through Facedown worship has been equally as moving.

So now we embark on a new adventure...the gym. The setup is going to be quite elaborate. The capabilities to take production of our services to a new level has me pumped up and ready to go! And, more important than the bells and whistles are the number of seats that we are able to add so that we can reach more people with the life-changing news of Christ. That's what it's all about!

I hope you will make it a point to be there this Sunday for our new adventure into the gym and it's dunk'd! We get to see about 30 people confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives!!!! That's good stuff!!!!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Blogger's Block

So I've been in a bit of a "bloggers block" lately...either nothing to write about or no time to write! As many of you know, we're moving to the gym on September 10. Waht an exciting time for TNC because we're going to be doubling our seating capacity. After seeing huge numbers the past two weeks (we had 521 in the 2nd service last Sunday, and the auditorium only seats 480!) this is a very timely move.

Other exciting stuff coming up is auditions on September 18 & 19. I'm always wary of announceing auditions because i don't think we get a true representation of what's out there. Most people assume that we would never use certain instruments because we are a guitar driven band. But that's just not true! As a matter of fact, my buddy Brian is playing trumpet for us on a song next week. I'm looking into using some strings soon. So, if you can play an instrument and you feel like you could contribute to the music at TrueNorth, sign up!

Lastly, Facedown is a month away! I'm so pumped! It will be on October 1, which is a Sunday evening service...and we'll be doing it in the gym. Good stuff! It's going to be powerful, so mark it on your calendars now.

Oh! One more thing. We've started a blog for our Creative Arts groups. Check it out at www.creativeartsblog.blogspot.com. We will use this a lot to communicate with those in the Artist Circle and the Writer's Fellowship.

Until next time...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Creative Arts

Last night we kicked off two exciting new groups at TrueNorth...the Artist Circle and the Writer's Fellowship. We had close to 25 there which blew me away! There was a cool energy from everyone there. I am so pumped about getting these two groups started!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

24

Laurie and I have become hooked on "24". I know...where have we been? I think everyone I know watches that show. To be honest, we haven't wanted to become slave to the TV every week, so we recently started renting the DVDs of Season 1. Good stuff!

I've had some people ask me for some more pictures of Ella. Well, here's my little princess practice her yoga...just like her mom!

Lastly, for those interested in the Arist Circle or Writer's Fellowship, we are having our first meeting Monday night at Nacho Mama's. We'll start to gather around 7P. I'm pumped about these two groups getting kicked off!

Until next time...

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Party's Just Getting Started!!!

Wow! Yesterday was an amazing day at TrueNorth! We celebrated two years of joining God in His work. How awesome is it to be able to serve the Creator of the universe? Sometimes I don't completely grasp what a privilege and honor it is to be used by God on Sundays. He doesn't need me...but He wants to use me! How cool is that?

So the turnout was unbelieveable with 1217! That would be our third largest attendance to date. (We had close to 1700 at Easter '06 and then somewhere over 1300 for a Dunk'd service in the spring '06.) Please "hear me this morning" (Stevie D original right there baby!): when I mention numbers, it's not pointing praise to us as TrueNorth. No, it's all about pointing the praise to God, who has grown this church beyond our wildest dreams. We were talking today in staff about how many times we have to adjust what we are doing on the fly because God has sent waves of growth our way.

The coolest parts of the service were these:

1) knowing that 180 TrueNorthers participated in the celebration by voting for their favorite songs. That was cool!

2) The video testimonies were incredibly powerful. Jay and Laura Knotts were in one part and what they had to say hit me hard. They are some amazing friends to us and we been a small part of their journey...so to hear them say that TrueNorth has provided healing and freedom for them, I had to fight back tears. It's a beautiful thing when God's people do what we are designed to do: love God and love each other.

I could talk about so much more, but I'll spare you the long-winded-ness.

Happy Birthday TNC!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Big day planned!

Tomorrow is the big day at TrueNorth! We celebrate 2 years of turning spiritual seekers into passionate followers of Christ. It's been an amazing ride so far, I can't imagine what the future has in store for us.

I would encourage to get there early because we are expecting a huge crowd for both services. Lots of people are hearing about what God is doing at TNC and they want to experience the change for themselves.

See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

THANK YOU!!!!

Well the voting has ended. Thank you, TrueNorth, for particpating in the celebration this past week! We had 180 votes cast, which has just blown me away. So, I'm sure you want to know what songs were at the top. I'd love to share it with you, but you'll have to wait until Sunday!

Something exciting and new that we are introducing this week is our new logo:



It embodies who we are as a church...our motto, Lift Up Love In Live Out, is the centerpiece of the design. So, we'll be bringing out some new t-shirts this week as well as some other cool things.

God is doing some exciting things at TrueNorth and we're just riding the wave of His goodness as long as it goes!

Monday, August 14, 2006

TNC in the news...

TrueNorth made the news this weekend. Diane Cho with Channel 12 news came to video and interview some of our people. It's a very good video about our church!

Also, wanted to remind you that today (Tuesday) is the last day to vote for your favorite songs. The top picks will be in this week's set list. It's a great way for everyone to participate in the celebration.

Oh, if you haven't watched Steve's message from Sunday, you should! It was an incredible message reminding us that church does not exist to consume your life and be your only source of spiritual food. It's purpose is to equip you to do ministry and to feed yourself. Watch it on our website.

There are a lot of exciting things happening at TNC these days. As you may know, we celebrate two years this Sunday! We've also just brought on a new staff member, Gene Jennings. Gene brings a wealth of experience, knowledge, and passion to the table. I'm already convinced he's a tremendous asset to our team!

BABY UPDATE - Laurie and Ella are doing well. Can't believe it's already been a week! Of course, the next thing I know she'll be starting school...it's amazing how fast they grow up. And big brothers love her to death! God has blessed us in so many incredible ways!

Ouch!!!

A friend sent me this video the other day. I have no clue what they are saying, but all I can say is "OUCH!!!"

Click Here

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

We are family...

We left the hospital (or hos-ti-bull as Stephen calls it!) today. It's good to be home! It's even better to have all six of us together. I've missed my boys the past two days and so has Laurie. We are so blessed! Ella is the sweetest thing. How is it that I'm so blessed with this family God has given me? I'll never understand it...but I also won't complain!

Don't forget to vote for your favorite songs that we do at TrueNorth! As a way to celebrate our 2 year old birthday, we are letting you participate in selecting the songs that make the set list. So don't forget to vote! (Voting ends August 15, 2006).

Monday, August 07, 2006

You are so beautiful...to me



That song's been ringing in my ears all day because my beautiful baby daughter is here!!!!! And I have to say, I'm in love. Here are her stats...

Ella Rose Bradford
Born at 11:35A on Monday, August 7, 2006
Weighing in at 7 pounds 7 ounces
Standing at a mighty 20.5 inches

And did I mention she's beautiful?

Momma's doing well. I have to say that she's amazing because I COULD NOT endure what she's been through the past few weeks. She always tells me that men would die if they had to go through labor. I strongly concur!

So we are a family of six now. As a friend of mine told me today, we now reach automatic gratuity at restaurants...yikes! Oh well, as Stevie D says, we're doing our part to grow the church!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Chris Brown Band

We were so blessed to have the Chris Brown Band come and lead us in worship today. It was very nice to have the day off and actually come to church with my family! (Which we have never done at TrueNorth.)

Anyway, Chris and his band have a CD out that you canbuy here. Look for us to be adding their song "Absorb" to our set list very soon!

Also, a shout out to the boys (and girl!) of Stainless. They rocked the house today with Bon Jovi's "Wanted: Dead or Alive". We are so incredibly blessed at TrueNorth to have the talented musicians we have. God is so good!

Well, tomorrow morning Laurie and I are heading to the hospital so she can be induced. We are so excited to meet Ms. Ella! Please pray for us that everything will go smoothly. Until next time...

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Tozer Chapter 4

Tozer's next chapter, Born to Worship God, is a reminder to why we were originally created. From the title, you can guess that it is to worship God. He says that, in God's plan, we were created to be in a perfect fellowship based on adoring worship of the Creator and Sustainer of all things. As he says, "The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever."

But, we entered into a foggy state of mind because of sin. Adam and Eve initiated it through their disobedience and each of us continue it every day. And because of this, we no longer know the purpose of our existence. We have become a people who look for hope and pleasure in anything and everything.

Here's the cool part...God refused to give up on us. You see, "He created man so He could look into each of us and see a greater reflection of His own glory than He could see reflected in the starry skies above." (Tozer, Whatever Happened to Worship, p53) So He said, "I'm not giving up on these people...I will not write them off and blot them from My memory." Praise God that He didn't!

He sent Jesus, His Son, who was the reflected glory of God, to save us...to bring us back to Him. And through His life, His death, and His resurrection, "the bells in heaven ring out because lost man had now been redeemed. The way of pardon and forgiveness had been opened for sinners." (p55)

We have been created (and recreated) to worship God. Through Jesus Christ, our Marvelous Light, we can reclaim our original purpose for existence...worshiping our God, Father, Son and Spirit, with everything we are...and the rest of our lives will flow out of this relationship in acts of service, love, relationships and much more!

Friday, August 04, 2006

bBlink

My brother, Brian, who happens to be the designer of here.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

First Impressions...

Here's a really good video that we should all watch. It's from a worship leader at a church in California. He visited another church and carried his video camera around discretely. Check out his experience...



With viewing this, we should evaluate ourselves at TrueNorth. How do we make people feel when they visit? I'd be curious to see what a first impression video at TNC would be like...

Tozer Chapter 3

After a week of craziness, I read chapter 3 in Tozer's "Whatever Happened to Worship?" Excellent chapter. The title is "Much That Is Called Worship Is Not".

At the beginning, Tozer sets up the framework by proving the point that we are designed for worship. Everyone will worship something. One statement he made that caught my attention right off the bat was that "it is plainly possible to have religious experience and forms of worship that are not at all acceptable to God."

To illustrate his point, he mentions an old church he stumbled upon when visiting Mexico. Shortly after walking in, a woman enters, holding a bag, and walks straight to the altar at the front of the room. She proceeds to bow at the feet of a statue of Mary. He watched her face and the emotion that she was pouring out to this inantimate object. You see, people of all religions (and no religions) will passionately worship something. It could be money...or success...or family. But Tozer's point is that these are not acts of worship that are pleasing to God.

One warning he provides is that many are into picking what they worship about God. It's almost as if they don't like the whole "blood atonement for sin" thing, so they choose to focus on the rewards that you can get from God. Others choose to only focus on the death of Christ and don't celebrate the resurrection. Celebration is a missing jewel from many of our churches today. There must be a mixture of celebration and meditation. Tozer's point is that we must worship God for who He is, not who we want Him to be. There are things about God that may not be comfortable for us to worship, but we must because that is who He is.

He wraps the chapter up by reiterating the point that worship must be done in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). But what does that mean? I think he explains it better than I've seen anywhere, so I'll let him handle this one...

"Worship must be by the Holy Spirit and truth. We cannot worship in the spirit alone, for the spirit without truth is helpless. We cannot worship in truth alone, for that would be theology without fire. Worship must be in spirit and in truth! It must be the truth of God and the Spirit of God. When a person, yielding to God and believing the truth of God, is filled with the Spirit of God, even his faintest whisper will be worship."

Lastly, and I love this, he says that worship cannot happen without the impartation, or revelation, of the Holy Spirit. So worship starts with God, is revealed by the Spirit to us. And then it is reflected by us, like a mirror, back to God. It starts with Him, is through Him, and ends with Him. That is worship that is acceptable to God.

Until next time...

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Gra-nan-de?

Last night I went to Starbucks. If you know me well enough, you know that I have a problem. It's not thang for me to drive 5 miles out of my way to get a grande vanilla latte. I need serious help!

So, I pulled into the parking lot and my 6-year old, Austin, asked me if we were going to Starbucks. I thought I'd be a wise guy and say "No, we're going to La Quinta!" in a fun, Speedy Gonzales kind of voice. Well, Speedy was still in me because when I ordered at the drive-thru, I said, "Yes, I'd like a gra-nan-de..." What is that? My buddy, Brian, that was with me asked why I need to drink caffeine!

Sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself...Ha!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Things to be excited about...

There are a few things coming up that I am very pumped about...

The biggest one is Ella coming real soon. We have had a week of false alarms, which isn't cool because it just makes you get your hope up and then nothing happens. But at least I know she'll be here in about week. (We have an induction date now!)

Next, we have some friends moving into town today. They are some very special people to our family and we've been wanting this for a couple of years now!

After that we've got Sunday's services. We had band practice last night and it went so good! TJ Barton is co-leading with us this week, which is really cool. The set list is a good one and I can already feel the Lord working in it.

Lastly, TrueNorth celebrates its two year anniversary on August 20. I can't believe it's been two years already! God has blessed so much and, with the move to the gym on September 10, I believe He's got a lot more in store for us!

Thinking about these things makes me realize how amazing hope is. When you hope for something, it helps you get through the day and it makes trials easier because you know something better is on its way.

In Colossians 1:27, Paul says that you and I have an amazing hope: Christ in you, the hope of glory. It's the ultimate hope...the hope that Christ will continue to transform us into who He wants us to be, one day culminating into the hope of glory: eternity with Him! What a day that will be! And that is a hope that will not fade away as long as our eyes are fixed on Him.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Taking rest

Life has been crazy to the nth degree lately...Laurie is nearing the end of the pregnancy and with that comes the usual discomfort and sleepless nights. And, as everyone married person should know, when your spouse is restless at night, chances are you won't sleep good either...which has been the case for me.

Today I've decided to take some rest...play some Crash Bandicoot with my boys...and wipe things out of my mind that have been stressing me. And it's been very nice. I hope each of you take a rest frequently. We need it.

I heard Rob Bell of Mars Hill Church and Nooma Videos talk recently about the importance of taking a sabbath every week. The sabbath refers to the Jewish custom of a designated day a week where there was no work...not even meal preparation! Rob said that he and his family take their sabbath every Saturday. It's all about what they do together. Nothing else.

How much better would our lives be if we'd learn to take a break every week from work? We are designed to work...it's what makes our lives rewarding. But, we're not designed to work ourselves to death.

Take some rest soon...it may be the best thing you ever added to your schedule!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Tozer Chapter 2

So I'm trucking along in my read of A.W. Tozer's book Whatever Happened to Worship? Just a 411 on me...I am a S---L---O---W reader. I think my biggest problem is that I get easily distracted. It's probably this ADD epidemic going through our church.

Anywho, I finished chapter 2 and the points I'm taking to heart are:

-Worship must be a constant state of mind.
-We can only go as deep into God as we are willing to go and...
-Once we are willing, the Spirit will be our guide.
-The living God has been willing to reveal Himself to our seeking hearts.
-God loves us for ourselves. He values our love more than He values galaxies of new created worlds. He remembers our frame and knows that we are dust.
-We please Him most by throwing ourselves into His arms with all our imperfections and believing that he understands everything---and loves us still.
-Fear of God is not intimidation, but extreme awe and reverence brought on by the Presence of God.

It still constantly amazes me that God is pursuing my heart and wants to take me deeper into His. Amazing!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A beautiful face

Laurie and I went to her doctor's appointment today. She's now 36 weeks along. Baby Ella will be here before we know it. It was really cool because they did a sonogram to check some measurements.

We got a special treat because the sonographer got a shot of Ella's face like now sono picture I've ever seen (and believe me, with three kids already, I've seen alot!). It was almost like we could see every single one of her facial features. There were the twos eyes just staring at us. And the smooshed up nose because she's so cramped. What a beautiful face! Can you tell I'm a proud daddy?

It hits me in those moments how anyone CANNOT believe in God. It's absolutely a miracle that a little baby can grow in such a tiny place (though most pregnant women would disagree on the tiny part!).

Less than four weeks until she's here...and I can't wait!

Last thing, I posted that new song, Light Up the Sky, over on my pure volume site. I'm excited about this new one as it's been two years in the making!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

TNC Chick Blogs

Laura Owings and Jenny Lou Jones (aka Mama Chick) now have blogs. Check them out!

Light Up the Sky

So I wrote a new song this morning. I love creating things! The song is called "Light Up the Sky". It really speaks of being in the presence of God and letting Him light up our lives...and there's a hint of longing for Him to come and take His children home. I'm still tweaking things and hope to get it up on my pure volume site later today or tomorrow.

There's a part in the song that says "feel the passion in my heart / feel it building for your name / i want to sing out now / i want to shout it out loud". I love that! I can feel that passion rising in God's people...it's almost like a tsunami is rising up and getting ready to crash and spread God's glory all around. Chuck has been talking about this for a few days on his blog. As he said on Monday, the anthem of the Lord seems to be rising up not just a TrueNorth, but at many churches around the country.

Exciting stuff!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The beauty of the moment

Thinking back on this morning's services, I have to say I'm in complete awe of God. This morning was a powerful time of worship in the presence of God. His Spirit was present in a mighty way...and has been for a few weeks now. I've never experienced Sunday morning worship this way ever before. Sure, Facedown has always been powerful, but this has been different.

Thinking on it I'm seeing a new chapter in our church...a spirit of worship that happens anytime and anywhere. Whether it's on Sunday morning, at Facedown, or down at the river, the people of God at TrueNorth are surrendering themselves before God through expressions of love and devotion for Him.

I'm convinced that God has some incredible things in store for us this fall...His presence is with us and He's providing what we need to make the move to the gym possible. I couldn't close this post any better than this:

How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all with see
How great, how great is our God

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Holy Ground

I posted a new song on my Pure Volume site today. The song is called "Holy Ground" which Zak and I opened up the June edition of Facedown with.

The story behind the original song by Geron Davis here.

Rick Warren blogs

For those of you blog readers out there, I discovered this morning that Rick Warren, author of the Purpose Driven Life, has started a blog. Check it out here.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Deep calls to deep

There's a David Crowder song called "My Hope" where he uses the lyric "deep calls to deep." It's a reference to a verse in Psalm 42...Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls. The first time I read that I quickly wondered what that meant. I knew it had something to do with my relationship to God, but what? And then I read this yesterday in Tozer's book:

"...we know Christ only as the Spirit enables us. How thankful we should be to discover that it is God's desire to lead every willing heart into depths and heights of divine knowledge and communion." (Whatever Happened to Worship, A.W. Tozer)

After reading this, it hit me. God pursues us...He calls us as deep calls to deep...His heart is calling to our hearts. It is a matter of the heart! But we must be willing to be lead into the depths and heights of God.

Oh, that I would be willing, knowing that "God desires to take us deeper into Himself." (Whatever Happened to Worship, A.W. Tozer)

Let me see the depths of You, o God of the universe!