Sunday, July 27, 2008

Outrunning Dolly

It's been a crazy week. Hurricane Dolly forced us to come home early from our mission trip. We just had our Mission Trip Reflections Service, so Student Choir is on break until September. I had a blast getting to know our students and the sponsors this week. Here's a recap of how the week went:

Sunday: We sang on Sunday Morning at Lamb of God Church. Our group doubled their worship attendance. Nathan preached with an interpreter and did a great job. We took our students to a buffet for lunch. Let me tell you, the green salsa at the restaurant was hot, hot, hot! We then sang at another church in the area on Sunday night. It was also a bilingual congregation. Our students did an amazing job.

Monday and Tuesday: Starting on Monday, we split up into two groups: construction at Lamb of God Church and our VBS crew. I was on the VBS crew in charge of music time. Actually, I just handed it off to our students who were more than capable. We originally planned to do VBS through Friday before Hurricane Dolly pushed us out. In spite of only having two days for VBS, we still had 29 children pray to accept Christ! Praise God! Our construction crew installed a baptistry, built cabinetry in the church's kitchen, did some trim work, installed doors and painted. I was able to paint some on Tuesday afternoon. You've never seen a harder working group of young people.

Wednesday: This is where we ran from Dolly. The hurricane's eye was predicted to pass right through where we were. We didn't want to risk being stranded, so we left early. We spent the night at a hotel in San Antonio. Wednesday night ended up being our annual Senior Night when the seniors will items and honors to younger students. Silly stuff like the right to interrupt a conversation whenever you please, but serious stuff too. The most touching part of the evening was when the sponsors read letters written by the parents of each student. Tears were shed.

Thursday/Friday/Saturday Thursday was all about getting home. I took advantage of Tangie and the girls being out of town and hung out at Jeff and Brandy Schroder's house till 3:00. I spent Friday resting and taking care of some chores around the house. Saturday was yet another travel day as I met my Father-in-law at Shreveport to pick up my family. It was like heaven seeing my girls again.

Now, after all that I'm very tired. I'm having a hard time keeping my eyes open as I type this. So I will leave you with this little video that some of our students made while driving home. The song is "I'll Make a Man Out of You" from Disney's Mulan. Enjoy a good chuckle!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

High School Mission Trip

We arrived safe and sound in McAllen, TX. Our High School Student Ministry is here this week on our annual mission trip. I'm excited about the life change I'm sure we will experience as we serve those who are less privileged than we are. McAllen is about 20 minutes from the border. I'm told that the poverty level in this area exceeds that of the Appalachians.

There are several components of our purpose this week. This morning, our High School Student Choir and Puppets Ministry will be ministering at Lamb of God Church and will do it all over again at another church tonight. These are both Hispanic congregations, but I'm told many of the people are bilingual. I'm especially excited to hear our Student Pastor preach through an interpreter this morning. I've never had the experience of seeing that done live. Should be memorable. We will spend the rest of the week on VBS and a construction project.

We left the church yesterday morning at 6:00 am and arrived here at around 6:00 pm. I ended up in a van of all girls. The entire trip down we listened to Disney Channel music as I call it. "Viva la Vida" by Coldplay was the one bright spot. The rest sounded like the same song played over and over. I probably sound old and set in my ways! Anyway, the girls had fun and that's what counts.

We have WiFi here at the camp, so I'll be sure to keep the updates coming.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tears from the Saints

Just got back from hanging with our Student Pastor, Nathan Kocurek. He and I are both bachelors for a few days since our families are going to be away while we go on a mission trip with our students. Please remember to pray for us as we serve in south Texas next week. I might not be able to blog next week if we have no computer.

I was on YouTube just now and remembered that I have this little video I made when at the Life Church for our West Valley Mobile Food Bank. I was asked to put together a video montage for a worship service highlighting the ministry. I immediately thought of the powerful song "Tears from the Saints" by Leeland. You're missing out if you've not heard this young Christian band. Below are the lyrics and the video I put together using the song.

Tears from the Saints

There are many prodigal sons
On our city streets they run
Searching for shelter
There are homes broken down
People’s hopes have fallen to the ground
From failures

This is an emergency!

There are tears from the saints
For the lost and unsaved
We’re crying for them come back home
We’re crying for them come back home
And all your children will stretch out their hands
And pick up the crippled man
Father, we will lead them home
Father, we will lead them home

There are schools full of hatred
Even churches have forsaken
Love and mercy
May we see this generation
In its state of desperation
For Your glory

This is an emergency!

There are tears from the saints
For the lost and unsaved
We’re crying for them come back home
We’re crying for them come back home
And all your children will stretch out their hands
And pick up the crippled man
Father, we will lead them home
Father, we will lead them home

Sinner, reach out your hands!
Children, in Christ you stand!
Sinner, reach out your hands!
Children, in Christ you stand!

There are tears from the saints
For the lost and unsaved
We’re crying for them come back home
We’re crying for them come back home
And all Your children will stretch out their hands
And pick up the crippled man
Father, we will lead them home
Father, we will lead them home

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Celoria Update Version 1.0

Shame on me! I've been blogging for over a month and haven't taken the time to do a family update. I think it's because I hate uploading pictures. It just takes so stinking long! Nevertheless, I will push through the pain as I bring you Celoria Update Version 1.0!

I have the most wonderful wife in the world. Her name is as memorable as her trademark smile. Her days consist of taking care of two crazy girls and an equally crazy husband. What would we do without her? When she gets a free moment, Tangie enjoys watching girly shows like "Design Star" and "John and Kate Plus 8." Though she will miss me, she is looking forward to spending some time in Mississippi with her family while I am away on a mission trip. I think she's most excited about getting out of her self-imposed prison. We are both counting down the days to our 10 year anniversary trip to the Gaylord Texan. She recently got her hair cut short and hates it, but she's more beautiful than ever! Let me show you...

As you can see, I have a hot wife! Here we see her with Abigail.

This is with no make-up, folks! Flawless beauty!

Our oldest daughter is 6 years old and will be a 1st grader next year. Abigail recently watched the Olympic trials and wants to win a gold medal one day as a swimmer. She has been taking lessons and is doing a great job. Abigail has been making the most of her summer. Recently, Abigail rode in the front seat with her daddy on the Texas Giant. Just this past week alone we went to a water park, made delicious brownies, and went on a Daddy/Daughter date to see "Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D." Abigail has been on a Disney Scene-It kick lately. For some reason, I just can't seem to beat her! ;)

My little dare devil!

Peace, baby!

Best big sister ever!

Little Is turned 6 months old on July 4. Isabelle's days consist of sleeping, eating, and other baby activities. She recently started eating baby food. So far, she only likes sweet peas. Isabelle loves to grab people's hair for some reason. She could play with my knappy head for hours. This quite possibly may be the world's most perfect baby. She sleeps 12 hours a night without interruption and has been doing so since her second month.

Looking for some hair to pull out.

Daddy's little diva.

Mmm, mmm, good!

I've been enjoying my family a whole bunch. Basically my life consists of church and home life. I wouldn't have it any other way. I leave you with this...

Like my new soul patch?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Mark Celoria (a.k.a. Josh Groban Wannabe)

We have such amazing musicians at Hunters' Glen. Not just people with musical talent but also people who love Jesus. Our organist, Donna Lackey, is one such incredible person. If you want the definition for "servant's heart" just watch Donna in action.

I was honored when Donna asked me to lay down a vocal track for an original music project of hers. The majority of the project is of her playing the piano, but two tracks were songs she had written for weddings. She needed a singer. Enter Mark Celoria (a.k.a. Josh Groban Wannabe). It had been a while since I pulled out the old classical pipes. They were a bit rusty but came back after a few attempts. My goal was to sound as much like Josh Groban as possible!

I asked her permission to post one of her songs here on my blog, so feel free to download and listen to the track of "He Gives Us Love." If you want to purchase her CD, just contact me, and I can see you get one.

Click here to listen to my vain attempt to impersonate the man with the velvet voice.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Meaning of Worship

For this entry, I thought I'd pull out my seminary notes and discuss the biblical meaning of worship. In spite of all the discussion about worship in our churches it is often misunderstood simply because many Christians shoot from the hip rather than look to the Word of God for answers. Worship has been made to be so subjective that it is left up to individuals to define it for themselves. But what does God's Word tell us?

"You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve." - Matthew 4:10

I chose this passage because of two particular Greek words used in it. The word used for "serve" in this passage is "latreuo." It means "to serve" but has been translated as "worship" in certain passages. The most common word for worship is "proskuneo" which means to "kiss toward" as you would a king. So we have two different words used for worship with different meanings.

Both are important. They are not mutually exclusive. One is indicative of a lifestyle of worship through obedience while the other is all about actual moments of worship expressed through adoration. If I am to follow the command found in Matthew 4:10, I can't live a life dedicated to serving the Lord but neglect to outwardly express love for Him in moments of genuine worship. Neither can I experience the joy of expressive worship if my life is not lived in service to the Lord.

God deserves both our service and our hearts. May we live our lives in such a way that Sundays are the "Amen" to all that has gone before. Only then will our worship have any meaning.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Scare Tactics

Scare Tactics is back! I used to love this show before SciFi was forced to take it off the air due to liability issues. I thought there was no way they'd ever be able to bring it back. Maybe they've found some lawful way to trick people into signing a waiver form a la Borat. Who cares! I'm just excited that I actually have something entertaining to watch this Summer! I can't wait to cackle with glee as more unsuspecting victims get duped into thinking they are in mortal peril! **laughs maniacally**

(Now back to our regularly scheduled blog content)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Jesus Alone

A fascinating passage of Scripture to me is the story of the Transfiguration found in Mark 9. There seems to be a lack of moments in the Gospels where the disciples truly understood who Jesus was and what He had come to do. They always seemed to say the wrong thing or fail in their response to situations. We all know how Peter failed to walk on water or how he denied Christ in His hour of need. And he was just one of the twelve. That these men went on to do extraordinary things for the kingdom of God should give each of us hope.

Back to the story, Mark 9:2-8 reads:

"After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.) Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!"

Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus."

Just like we tend to do, the disciples got it wrong. Peter asked that three shelters be built. Growing up as a Jewish boy, I'm sure he was star struck when he saw Elijah and Moses. I doubt he considered them to be exalted above Christ. He just couldn't believe his eyes. But then came a consuming cloud and a voice that said, "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!" And then the cloud dissipated because the Bible says when they "looked around" all they could see was Jesus alone.

There's a lesson to be learned here that pertains to worship. With the best of intentions we can focus on things other than Jesus in our times of worship. Things that exist to point to Christ. Maybe your Elijah is a favorite song. "Oh my goodness, we're singing Song X today. I just love this song!" Or maybe your Moses is a person. "I love it when Worship Leader X leads the music." It's not that these things are bad, but they're ordained to lead you to worship Christ. And if you're like me (or Peter) perhaps you focus too easily on the wrong thing.

We should seek Christ in such a way that we are consumed by the cloud of God's glory. We should strain to hear God's voice and listen to what He has to say to us. We should fall to ours knees in gratitude of the grace we have been given. Then after we have focused our mind's attention and our heart's affection on the Lord allowing everything else to fade away, that's when we will look up and see Jesus alone.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Something Happens

I admit it. I'm a choir nerd. The kind that has choir music on his iPod. There's something about a group of people singing that flat out speaks to me. Unfortunately, there's not much great music being written exclusively for choir these days. Instead, the trend is to arrange popular CCM and worship songs heard on the radio for choir as their familiarity results in sales. But every once in a while I come across a choir arrangement I've never heard before that blows me away. One such song is "Something Happens" by Kurt Carr. Here are the lyrics:

Something special
Supernatural about Your name
Something happens
When I mention Your name

Demons have to flee when I say Jesus
Sickness has to heal when I say Jesus
Every knee shall bow before
And every tongue proclaim
With worthy praise
That matchless name of Jesus


When I call upon Your name
The very atmosphere will have to change
We'll be transformed
We'll never be the same
By the power of Your holy name


Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
Something happens when I call You


I encourage you to seek out this song and check it out. And if "something happens" while you listen to it, that just might be the Spirit of God encouraging your heart.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Busy Week

Here I sit on Saturday afternoon recuperating from a busy week. I made my last blog entry on Monday afternoon, so I thought I'd fill everyone in on how the rest of the trip went.

Monday: We spent the whole afternoon and evening putting on a festival at a Middle School. We passed out flyers on Monday afternoon in the neighborhood surrounding the school. Our Student Minister, Nathan Kocurek, made the process fun by splitting up the groups into "Evangeteams" Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta. Nathan's Evangeteam Delta was like some kind of special ops squadron. He had his boys actually running full speed from house to house! While passing out flyers, I had the opportunity to witness to a young Mormon man who was selling security systems door to door. Please pray for the seed of the Gospel that was planted in our conversation to take root.

The festival was a success. Over 80 people registered their attendance. Our goal was to create in-roads into the surrounding community for the fine folks at Eisenhauer Road Baptist Church. Mission accomplished!

Tuesday: This was the most memorable day of the trip for me. The Middle School Choir had the opportunity to sing in three places: at a youth corrections facility, at the Market Square in downtown San Antonio, and at a State School for severely retarded individuals. Our students were deeply impacted by all three experiences. So was I. When the kids were singing "Knowing You" to a room full of juvenile detainees, I was moved to tears. I figured the crowd wouldn't be receptive to our squeaky clean image, but the kids sang and testified with a passion that just couldn't be ignored. Our students are amazing! God is amazing!

Wednesday: We spent the day at Fiesta Texas in San Antonio. I had a blast hanging out with the kids and riding roller coasters. Sitting in the front seat on the Superman Roller Coaster was an unbelievable experience! Felt like I was flying. Sorry, Hudge, but I lost the baseball cap you gave me. Think you can get another for free?

Thursday: We slept in at a nice hotel and spent the day driving home. I'm thankful to God for our safe travel. I was so ready to see my wife and my girls! It's crazy how much little girls can change in one week!

Friday: Abigail and I participated in the Plano Independence Day 2008 Parade. Our church passed out water bottles. I love events that get us out into our community. We ended the day watching the firework show put on near our house in McKinney.

So that brings us up to date. I'm excited about yet another time of corporate worship tomorrow. I'm so blessed to get paid to hang out with students and lead worship!