Monday, June 18, 2012

When I Least Expect It

I would start out this post by saying "Everything I learned about worship, I learned from Ben Meador," but that wouldn't be completely accurate. Moderately, yes, but not completely. I had great professors at SAU, and mentors along the way that taught me more than I think I even realize. However, this post is to describe the most eye-opening experience I've ever had about what worship really means.

I was 19 or 20. At that time I was listening to a healthy dose of Mae, Copeland, Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, and many more. Some friends and I decided to go to a Brand New concert (always a good choice). One of my best friends, Ben was in the entourage going to the concert. Now, just a little character development before I proceed with the story. Ben is a couple years older than me and I looked up to him greatly. Especially  in the way he loves God and his neighbor. Ben was one of the most "in tune" with the Lord people I'd ever met and I'm pretty sure he's never responded to anyone in anger in his life. Anytime he talked about Jesus, or anything else for that matter, I was there. Notebook in hand, soaking up as much knowledge as I could.

K, back to the story.

We got to the concert, knew every word of every song, sang our diaphragms out (people who sing correctly will appreciate that), and I was having some of the most fun I'd ever had. 3/4 of the way into the show I witnessed something I'll never forget. I was immediately in front of Ben in the pit. If you've never been at a general admission, standing only concert, you need to know that you are touch 6 people at all times. Everyone is pushing forward as much as they can, and it's crazy in the pit. It's awesome. Anyway, I was directly in front of Ben and our favorite song was playing. It's called "Seventy Times Seven" and during the climax of the song the lyrics are as follows:

Have another drink and drive yourself home
I hope there's ice on all the roads
And you can think of me when you forget your seat-belt
And again when your head goes through the windshield

I know, I know, it's not a very "nice" song. Which is one of the reasons why what happened next was so impact-full to me.

As those very words were being sung, I turn to enjoy this moment with Ben and he was hands-to-the-sky, almost teary-eyed, worship God with all he had.

I wasn't sure if he'd gone crazy, or if I should join in because I was missing something...

I couldn't wrap me head around what I had just seen. So, obviously as soon as I got a second to talk with Ben, I asked..."What the heck was that?" In my mind Ben was close to blasphemous. Ben answered, "Oh man. I can just worship to that."


The next words changed my view of God and worship forever. Ben said:

"For God to make us with the capability of such deep emotion, and to give someone the talent to be able to articulate their emotion so precisely through art and music is a GREAT reason to worship Him."

I couldn't believe all the reason and theology racing through my head to process what Ben had just said. I still, to this day, learn from those words. The main lesson I've learned from that experience was my approach to finding God in anything. In my mind, Ben was finding God in a "God-less" situation. When really he had it right all along.

There are no "God-less" situations. Worship Him accordingly.

Take off the water wings. Jump in the deep end. Learn how to swim.  

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Deeper Meaning

I love the parable Jesus tells in Luke 15 of the prodigal son. I believe Jesus had specific lessons in each of the parables, but also that there are multiple lessons, or deeper lessons as well that you may not notice at first. The parable of the prodigal son is one of my favorite stories in the scriptures because of this reason.  If you don't know the story, go here to read it:

For me, there is a three step depth to the gravity of God's love for us in this parable.

1. Forgiveness - The glaring lesson from this parable is forgiveness. When the father has compassion for the younger son and celebrates his return, he has forgiven his son. There are a few points to bring to light that better help explain just how forgiving the father is. One is that when the son asks for his inheritance, he is basically telling his father "you are dead to me." It's not simply taking his fathers money and wasting it, then seeking forgiveness. It's a matter of telling his father "I love your money far more than I love you. I would be happier if you were dead, and I got my portion of your wealth." Another point not to miss in this story is the fattened calf. A sacrifice, a death. The FATHER, making a sacrifice for the child. Sound familiar? (Jesus).

2. Ownership - Many scholars believe that this parable is more about the older son. His reaction to the father's love for the younger son is justifiable, no? He has a point right? The depth of the father's love is shown when he replies to his eldest "Everything I have is yours." Sometimes us "lifer" Christians say that to God don't we? "Haven't I been with you this whole time God?" "Why are my meth-head neighbors down the street pregnant again, while I am still unable to conceive?" "How can you let so many evil people live healthy while I suffer with this cancer?" "Haven't I been with you this whole time?" How quickly we think God owes us something for accepting His grace and mercy, while failing to see that everything He has is ours. (See Galatians 3)

3. Freedom - This is the kicker for me. Not until recently did I catch this. When I heard this it was like the wool being pulled from over my eyes. The father shows his love to the younger (prodigal) son by financing his trip. Take a moment and let that sink in for a while...

WOW, right?!? The father, being told "I'd rather you be dead", didn't have to give the son his inheritance. Wouldn't you be at least tempted to tell you ungrateful son where to shove it? But he doesn't. If the father didn't know for sure his son was going to waste everything, he probably at least had a pretty good assumption. Yet he chose to give the inheritance anyway. He financed the trip! Was he crazy?


At least to our limited knowledge of how God's love works, we'd think this would be crazy. But God's love is not something we can fully understand. It's too big for us. It's more powerful then we could ever imagine or comprehend and it's our inheritance, everyone of us, if we choose to accept it in Jesus Christ. Who loves us enough to finance our trips too.

What trip are you on that God is financing? What gifts has he given you that you are using selfishly? Destructively? Irresponsibly? What wealth has He provided that you are wasting? Makes me take a step back and re-examine how I use what I've been so graciously given.

takeoffthewaterwings, jump in the deep end, and learn how to swim.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Story Behind The Name

Maiden goes!

I've never considered starting a blog, mainly because I suck at writing...and I hate it. If you subscribe to this blog I'm sure you'll notice frequent grammatical error and if it wasn't for spell-check I'd be screwed there too. :o)

But I have been compelled lately, hopefully by no selfish reason, to share some of my thoughts and lessons I've learned about leadership, worship, life-in-general, and so on. I don't intend to fill anyones cup. I know I'm not qualified, nor skilled enough to do that. I just want to empty mine, and hopefully it's helpful to someone.

Now about the name.

takeoffthewaterwings is a term I heard from Perry Noble of Newspring Church in Anderson, SC. He's one of my favorite speakers and I watch their services online regularly. One of the services I was watching a few months ago, he went on a bit of a rant about spiritual maturity, and the lack of it in churches in our nation. He said:

       "When a 40 yr old man plays in the kiddy pool with water-wings on we call him crazy, but when a 40 yr old man sits in the same pew, every Sunday we call him faithful."

You know from earlier in the message, said man isn't tithing, serving, or growing in his walk with Christ. The point of the story is we need to takeoffthewaterwings and grow up. Get in the game. Make disciples, not just hope the Lord might give you a comfortable opportunity to reach someone for His name. You're never too young, too old, unqualified, or under-equipped to share the Gospel, so take off the water wings, jump in the deep end, and learn how to swim.

And of course, I agree.

Another great pastor, Andy Stanley, said something that goes along with this when speaking about the 7 practices of effective ministry. "If Jesus would leave the 99 to go after the 1, how much more would He leave the 1 to go after the 99?" If the church (the 1) would takeofthewaterwings and go after people far from God (the 99) we'd see a revival man couldn't stop. If we loved like Jesus, instead of bickering about everything else, lost people would see it and recognize Jesus in it.

My goal for this blog is not to shun lazy Christians, but it may happen from time to time. And rest assured it'll usually be because I'm the worst of sinners, and am learning things I blog about in my own life. A takeoffthewaterwings moment happened to me when I got to my current church New Covenant. When I start a new stage of life, or place of ministry I think it healthy to look back at the previous season and see what I can learn from it now on the outside. I encourage anyone to do the same. There is a lot you can't see on the inside, but smacks you in the face when you step out. I looked back on my time at JFM and realized I saw myself as a "leader of evangelists" but never did much myself. So, when I got to New Covenant, I hit the ground running and figured out that there was a significant group of committed Christian guys (and a few girls) here that LOVE MMA. Mixed martial arts, for those who need explaining :o) One thing I do know for sure is that there are A LOT of people out there who do not know Jesus, that love MMA, and probably think you can't go to church and watch MMA, which is crazy-talk.

Side-note: If you're a church-goer, and you're shunning me for watching MMA, this blog is probably not for you, and we can just part ways now and avoid you and I both major head-aches in the future, but I love you and wish you well, K?

Anyway, that group of guys started meeting a BDubs for UFC PPV events and each others houses for the free live ones on FOX. We invite our friends who are far from God and we build relationships. We have even had a few come to N|C and come to know the Lord and God used MMA as the avenue for people to accept His Love and Grace! A-MEN!

So, short story long, I've really put an emphasis on evangelism because isn't that what being a Christ-follower is all about? So let's encourage each other to takeoffthewaterwings and learn how to swim...