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 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 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 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?"

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 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 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


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'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!