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My lovely wife was featured in this great interview at Christianity Daily!

PJ interview

Her leadership, wisdom, and pastoral insight are so vital—not only for Anchor City, but for San Diego and the world.

Working side-by-side with her and watching her mentor & coach other pastors & planters, discern & guide the culture of our church community, and pour into the lives of our leaders and church members is a tremendous honor and joy.

As Philippians 1:27 says (emphasis mine), “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.”

As I told a friend on Facebook, she’s the beauty & brains in this operation. Fortunately, I can provide some of the brawn!

For sheer naming enthusiasm, Crowder’s Fantastical Church Music Conference should win something.  I am intrigued by the lineup — a mix of radio-friendly best sellers (DC*B, Hillsong, Matt Redman) and more indie-inclined artists such as The Welcome Wagon, John Mark McMillan (the songwriter behind How He Loves) and The Civil Wars.

I appreciate the musical diversity of the lineup (although, I have to say, it would be nice to see a little more racial/ethnic diversity from the stage, too).  Whimsy and play are vastly underrated when it comes to musical expressions of worship (we tend to stick with highly polished stadium anthems these days) — it is to Crowder’s credit that this event seems to stand out from the crowd.

Download a free live album from The Civil Wars here.

… It’s good!

(In case you missed the Ren and Stimpy reference, check out this classic commercial jingle)

Just a couple of quick updates:

  • Also, updated my Currently Enjoying page (to reflect what I’m liking today, not from like two months ago)

I often hear complaints about the state of praise & worship music these days (including Jesus is my boyfriendtype lyricism, blatant commercialism, bland musicianship, etc.). While much of this criticism is warranted, the question before us is How do we move forward? I continue to believe that connecting and worshiping God through music is important for individuals, families and churches — so, how do move from a posture of frowning critique into constructive adaptation?

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While the idea of Becoming a Contagious Christian has always kind of offended my OCD-ish sensibilities, I was extremely interested to learn that, according to recent research, happiness really is catching.

According to researchers from Harvard and UC San Diego:

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Our daughter loves to sing. She sings while she’s playing, while she’s brushing her teeth (quite an experience!), in the car, right before she takes her nap… She’ll sing songs from church, from her favorite CDs, and from her imagination. One day, we heard her singing a song that some of the big kids from church had performed one day. According to her, the chorus of “Supernatural God,” by Hillsong Kids is:

Super-vegetable… super-vegetable God!

vbs.jpgWe just finished up our VBS this week.  Our theme, as you can see to the left, was “Avalanche Ranch,” by Group Publishing. Group always puts together a great VBS, and this summer was no exception (the design, however, is mine).  One of the kids’ favorite songs from this week was “Forever,” by Chris Tomlin. The third line of the first verse in our daughter’s version goes like this:

For He is good, He is a bubble thing (For He is good, He is above all things)

I tried to correct her one day, but she was extremely offended.  These misheard lyrics might go down in history like “Purple Haze,” by Jimi Hendrix… “Excuse me, while I kiss this guy“…

Doesn’t it always work out that way?

Somehow, it has just been one of those weeks.  Some things were out of my hands – external forces creating extremely difficult and frustrating situations.  Some things were completely my responsibility – my internal response to adversity, my frustration at my lack of Christ-likeness, my guilt at venting my hurt on those closest to my heart.

I don’t want to over-spiritualize things here, but it is very interesting that the last couple of days have led me, quite literally, back to the cross.  I don’t want to be one of those jaded ministry professionals who looks at the cross as just another tool of the trade, a familiar company logo.  It frightens me that my heart, when left unchecked, seems to drift in that direction.

For Good Friday, our youth group had a night of interactive prayer stations, each one centered around a different aspect of the cross and Jesus’ crucifixion.  At a station called “Bitterness” we tasted a bit of vinegar, just as Jesus drank the vinegar after declaring His thirst from the cross.  There, we experienced a small taste of the bitterness of sin – the brokenness it has wrought upon the world, the shock it causes when we see its ugliness within us, the distance it creates between us and God (and between one another).

I didn’t want this to be a guilt trip.  That’s usually not a worthwhile journey.  But sometimes, in order to experience the uplifting victory of Easter, we need to go through the depths of Good Friday.  At least, I know that I must. The cross puts my life back into perspective.  At the cross, I see more than just the devastating effects of sinful depravity or the immeasurable love of Christ who bore the consequences of that sin.  I still can’t get my head around it fully, but I am starting to see the cross as a place where God is putting the world back in order.  The way things are meant to be.  Something that we dare not speak aloud (maybe fearing that we would sound foolish or naive for even hoping such a thing).  And yet, at the cross, I see God restoring our broken world.

One of my students sent me an email this morning that, in a way, set me on the right track.  During Passion Week, our church has been having a special round of early morning prayer meetings.  Well, she had been meaning to attend all week but, because of a number of different circumstances, she had not been able to come out until this morning.  So, there she is at her car, getting ready to leave the house at 5:00 am (yes, 5 o’clock in the morning) when she notices that her stereo is missing.  Worse, the trunk is open and also missing are fifty dollars worth of fundraising chocolate and a gift for a friend.

Here’s the amazing thing: Instead of shaking her fist to the still-darkened sky and cursing God for her misfortune (after all, hadn’t she gone above and beyond the call of duty by seeking Him first thing in the not-quite-morning?), she decided that she would still go to church to pray.  And she was actually thankful — not in a masochistic, self-flagellating kind of way, but with the kind of gratitude that usually comes with many more years of walking with God.   First, she wrote, she was thankful for the opportunity to start her day in prayer because, otherwise, her day really would have been ruined.  And, beyond that, she took this as an opportunity not to run from God but to run to Him and trust Him through difficulty.

May God bless your journey to Easter with wonder, gratitude and joy.