Father of the year makes birthday cake [VIDEO]

All we can say is this dad is the bomb for making this birthday cake for his son.  It took 10 hours to make and 2 minutes to destroy.

What have we made for God lately that’s made Him smile like this little boy?

Is there anything we’ve destroyed that’s taken God a long time to put together?

Flash Opera at Macy’s [video]

A flash mob hit Macy’s in Center City on Saturday – 650 vocalists who, unknown to shoppers, had arranged to burst into song at noon.

Thank goodness for free speech.

There once was a church that published names in the bulletin…

There once was a church that published names in the bulletin of the “special music” vocal solos every week. (Yes, even I’ve done this in the distant past.)  Some of the vocalists sang like larks — others barked.  And it usually turned out that people would whisper to their own family members and friends ahead of time, “Look who’s singing today…it’s gonna
be goooood. I love it when they sing.”  And on those off weeks the comment would be, “See who’s singing today (rolling the eyes).  Hope it’s a short song today.”

I’ve heard people say years ago, “Well, I don’t know who they are if their names aren’t published?”  Oh really?  Does it really matter you know who they are?  Are you more concerned about the lark singing, or the content of the song lyrics?  What about going up to them following the morning and introduce yourself if you REALLY need to know who it is?  Who’s the focus when we say WE NEED TO KNOW WHO’S SINGING?

That leads to ask the question, “Are we waiting for the planets to align in order for us to worship.” Come on, admit it…we love it when it seems like everything is “perfect” and it appears something authentic, meaningful, and heartfelt took place in a church worship environment.  You know what it looks like — that perfect combination of vocalists, the lighting levels are such, volume levels are ideal (for you), the songs were your favorites, the hymn/modern song ratio was in your preference, the cloths worn on stage didn’t distract or embarrass you, and everything else that typically would make you think about something other than God simply vanished…and God was left as the object of your worship.

Question.  At what point did we needs the planets to align in order for us to focus on God?

News flash, the planets rarely, and sometimes never, align. So stop waiting.  Stop caring.  Stop pining for something that is not God-centered.

So what do we do? For starters, let’s make a decision ahead of time to make God our focus before we show up and begin to make us the focus.  We, the worshippers, have the complete ability to make the decision to make worship about us or all about God.

Which will it be for you this week?

Not To Us

Verse 1

The cross before me the world behind
No turning back raise the banner high
It’s not for me it’s all for You
Let the heavens shake and split the sky
Let the people clap their hands and cry
It’s not for us it’s all for You

Chorus 1

Not to us, but to Your name be the glory
Not to us, but to Your name be the glory

Verse 2
Our hearts unfold before Your throne
The only place for those who know
It’s not for us it’s all for You
Send Your holy fire on this offering
Let our worship burn for the world to see
It’s not for us it’s all for You

Bridge 1

The earth is shaking
The mountains shouting
It’s all for You
The waves are crashing
The sun is raging
It’s all for You
The universe spinning and singing
It’s all for You
Your children dancing dancing dancing
It’s all for YouIt’s all for You

CCLI Song No. 4046093¬© 2001 worshiptogether.com songs | sixsteps Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing) | (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)Chris Tomlin | Jesse ReevesFor use solely with the SongSelect Terms of Use.  All rights Reserved. http://www.ccli.comCCLI License No. 21985

What are your family spiritual values? Here’s ours, revised.

Last week, Lisa and I were going through a devotional book for couples and revisiting “spiritual family values” that we had written down in 2005. It’s five years later, and we pulled up the list…
  1. Family ministry before church ministry.  This means more nights at home (family ministry) than at church (church ministry).  Our family schedule is a higher priority than church calendar.
  2. Devotions and prayer as a family.  This means we do it together, and it’s more than the dinner table or bedtime prayer.
  3. Transparency with spiritual life.  This means we infuse our everyday talk with things about Christ.  What would Jesus think of this?  How would God like us to behave?  What does His Spirit encourage us to say?
  4. Making worship more than a job.  This means when we take a weekend vacation somewhere, we attend another church together as a family on vacation.  While we most likely won’t put our kids through going to an unknown Sunday school class, we want to make worship as a family a priority, even when we are on vacation.
  5. Stewardship.  This means we have some chores with out pay, yet other chores for pay and incorporate a tithe.

We are doing well on some of these.  Others need work.  Like #5.

After talking through the list, we are adding one more to it…“#6. Outward focused, pointing others to Christ (added June 3, 2010).”  That means we focus on others instead of ourselves.  We engage those outside our comfort zone to begin relationships.  This means the unlovable and those who Christ would most likely be spending time with.

What are your family spiritual values?  Got any we missed?

If you don’t have any yet, think about what they would be.

You know you’ve screwed up when …

Sometimes we admit when we’ve screwed up.  Sometimes we don’t.  Sometimes we regret after we’ve been caught.  God, help me to with your Spirit to recognize that I’m about ready to screw up — so I can recognize to run the other way.

Here’s a little clip of our one year old … and he knew he screwed up when he was caught.

Worship Tip: What do people leave church talking about? #sundaysetlist #sundaysetlists #worship

The worship tip for this week is to design a worship environment where people leave talking about their relationship with God instead of the creative elements.

I’ve had several people come to me this weekend and comment on the music. They mentioned everything from Sam Cho (cello) and his father, David (Lu Chien) Cho from Taiwan (piano), who drew our eyes to the Creator of music through their incredible arrangements.  They said Donna Shelite did a bang up job of singing a song that Jim requested called “Midnight Cry.”  They commented on the orchestra added icing to the cake when it led instrumentally in worship.  I even mentioned to someone, “Too bad it wasn’t Easter, cause this is going to be difficult to top.”

It got me thinking again about what people talk about when they leave church on the weekend. What do people leave Topeka Bible Church talking about?  Do they talk about the music?  The crystal clear sound?  The pastor?  The creative video?  The person with a set of singing pipes?

If people leave talking about God and their relationship with Him — then the music, sermon, videos, and other creative moments did what they are supposed to do.

Setlist from March 7, 2010:
  1. ___ TEST AND SOUND CHECK TRACKS BELOW
  2. Test – click LEFT and loop RIGHT
  3. Sound Check – Full Band
  4. Sound Check – Vocals
  5. ___ WORSHIP SETS BELOW
  6. SET 1 – created March 6, 2010
  7. ___ PAUSE click here (cue)
  8. SET 2 – created March 5, 2010
  9. ___ PAUSE click here (cue)
  10. ___ END click here (cue)
  11. ___ SINGLE CLICK TRACKS BELOW
  12. I Am Free – loop and click 136 BPM
  13. Sing Sing Sing – loop and click 142 BPM slower
  14. And Can It Be – loop and click 124 BPM
  15. ___ PAUSE click here (cue)
  16. There Is a Fountain – loop and click 74 BPM
  17. Your Grace Is Enough – loop and click 124
  18. ___ END click here (cue)
  19. ___ FULL SONGS BELOW
  20. I Am Free (A)
  21. Sing, Sing, Sing (D)
  22. And Can It Be?
  23. There Is a Fountain
  24. Your Grace Is Enough (F)

Topeka’s version of “God of This City”

Here’s the Topeka Bible Church version of “God of This City” from Sunday, February 28, 2010.

So what if He’s the God of this city, how about my life? What do you think?

Facebook – What do your friends know about your beliefs?

This week an old friend messaged me on my Facebook profile and asked the following…

I’ve noticed some of your posts. And I’m curious, What faith are you? Protestant? Charismatic? Baptist? I was just wondering.

It got me asking some questions.

  1. Should the reader be able to tell what religious denomination from my posts?  Why?
  2. Should I be more clear, less clear, or write with the current clarity on the subject?
  3. If it were Jesus who was posting, instead of me, would the reader be able to tell where He was coming from denominationally (even though Jesus wasn’t of a certain denomination 2000 years ago)?

Regardless, I hope that readers clearly deduct that I follow Jesus. I’m a student (some call it a disciple) of Him.  I don’t really consider myself ‘belonging’ to a religious denomination of any kind.  I simply place my faith solely on what Jesus did on a cross (death) as payment for all my sins (and the world’s), which in turn causes God to look at the sin in my life as paid, granting access to an eternity with God in heaven after this temporary physical life.  In short, that’s the Bible says is the gospel.  Is the gospel a religious denomination?  Well, some religious denominations certainly have this as the cornerstone to its belief structure.  However, not all denominations believe this or have variations of it.  So I guess I wanted to be clear about Who (Jesus) I place my faith in before I muck it up with what group it is associated with.

What do you think you’d want people to know about your spirituality on Facebook?

1 Peter 3:15 – But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

Gospel Per Ear: How much would you be willing to pay?

How much should it cost a church to get the Gospel into the ears of it’s community? The obvious answer is that it will cost something in resources (funds, time, energy, personnel, etc.).

You’ve heard the saying…if just one person comes to Christ, all that effort was worth it.

I disagree if it means it was done inefficiently. Allow me to explain…

If I had a choice between spending $10 a person verse $5 a person to get the Gospel into their ear…I’d pick the $5 every time. Would you? So would any smart organization – that way they have more resources to do it time and time again.

For example, at Topeka Bible Church we had 2,075 vehicles come to our light show this year. That’s a 13% increase over last year’s traffic. How many people do you think were in each car on average. We use the figure of 3 people per vehicle…but let’s be very conversative here and account for an average of 2 people per vehicle. If the budget this year was $6,000 for the light show…so do the math, $6,000/(2,075 vehicles x 2 people per vehicle) = $1.45 Gospel per person.

Some would say we didn’t spend enough compared to the rest of the church budget. Yet others would say, invest more in the ministries which have the largest impact (this is what wall street brokers do). Yet others are content to spend just enough to feel like something was done, but not too much to be a sacrifice.

Is $1.45 per person worth the Gospel? If not, what is? If you’d have been willing to pay more, what’s your ceiling? Well, if it help to have a frame of reference, it’s one of the lowest cost per person I’ve ever been a part of. Historically, at other churches, it’s taken $80,000 to get the Gospel to roughly 8,000 people. That’s $10 a head.

Here’s another question, “How much did it cost God to reveal the Gospel to us?”

A BIGGER QUESTION is WHO were those people that we just invested $1.45 in. Do they attend TBC? Do they attend another church? Do they already know Jesus? Were any of them guests that a TBC person invited? We will survey this week to find out just WHO these people where and what connections, if any, they have to TBC or other churches in our community.

THE BIGGEST QUESTION… “If TBC doesn’t get the Gospel into the ears of the community, what will that void be replaced with?”
Take your pick:
1. No one will 2. Another church who cares people enough to throw resources at it 3. Another organization who might not communicate the Gospel

QUESTION FOR MYSELF Is Bryan Nelson willing to get the Gospel into the ears of the community? If not, why not? Is it costing me anything to do it?

Monday Music: Phil Keaggy

I don’t know anyone else who can make a Symphony out of one guitar…other than Phil Keaggy. Phil is a master musician. Aren’t you amazed at how God has designed Phil with his body, mind, and soul to create music that points others to the Creator? Be amazed. Be very amazed. There’s no greater purpose than to play for the King.

Make sure you watch through the 4:30 mark, his layering is spicy.