Monday, July 30, 2007

Worship Link of the Day

I've meant to plug the different worship blogs that I have linked, but haven't gotten around to it yet. However, today I added a new one - From my first glances, it seems to be a regularly updated site that highlights and links to many other worship blogs. Looks pretty exciting.

But the big reason I'm excited about it is this:
I found a free mp3 download of a new song I heard last week by Laura Story (who wrote "Indescribable"). Here's the link to the download (though they warn that it won't be available forever.)

The song is "Immortal Invisible" - which is obviously inspired by the hymn of the same name. However, it's not a hymn re-write. It basically takes those two words (immortal and invisible) and expounds on them in the verses; the chorus praises God for being the God of forever. It's really easy to learn, so I could see it being really great congregationally. Also, I've been really fixated on the eternal nature of God lately - probably because of the Gloria prayer (Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.)

Friday, July 27, 2007

Austin Awards

As I sit in O'Hare Intl Airport waiting for my delayed flight, reflecting upon a week in the capital city of the Lone Star State, I'd like to thank a few people I got to meet and acknowledge some other things that contributed to a memorable stay in Austin.

  • Biggest hit to my ego: A tie - Austin's frontage road system AND massive thunderstorms. I have frequently said how much I love navigating new cities, but both of these made me want to take it all back. Honorable mention goes to the guy from the hotel who tried to give me directions when I was very frustrated/on the verge of tears. Sorry about that.

  • Most consumed beverage on airplanes: Tomato Juice. I never ever drink tomato juice, but apparently I'm the only one. Virtually everyone around me drank this on the flights. Am I missing out? I'm curious...but not curious enough to try it.
  • Best non-living travel companion: Harry Potter book 7. I read the bulk of the Deathly Hallows on my trip south. I really didn't care about the strange looks from strangers as I laughed, cried, and shook my head as I read it for the first time. I also enjoyed re-reading large chunks of it today on my way home.
  • Biggest cricket ever: The crickets in Austin. Speaks for itself.
  • Southern hospitality award: Becky, the stranger who took my friend and I back to our car when we were hopelessly, utterly lost in a park at 10:30pm. When I told you I wished I could repay you somehow, you said to tell people how nice people from Austin are. Becky - I don't know about everyone else in Austin, but YOU. ROCK.

  • Best local food I tried: Tie - Chuy's and Amy's Ice Cream. To be fair, these were the only 2 local places I had the chance to visit - but they were both super good and very unique.
  • Austin's best attempt to redeem itself from a week of torrential rain: The huge double rainbow over the hills on Wednesday night. The hills were really pretty, and the rainbow was AWESOME.

  • Airport I don't want to see again for a long time: Chicago O'Hare. I spent an extra hour there on my way south (though I had Harry Potter to keep me company). So far today, I've been here 3 hours and won't leave for at least another hour.

All in all it's been a memorable week. Here's hoping I'll be home soon!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Notes and Thoughts from the Conference (so far)

This week I'm in Austin, TX at the National Worship Leaders Conference.

For the sake of sharing and processing, here are some assorted notes, sound-bytes and thoughts presented rather randomly. If something here doesn't have enough context to make sense or you'd like to talk about it more, let me know.

  • Scotty Smith: "Rather than turning the audience into god, let us turn to God as our audience"
  • Constant theme for me this summer: authentic worship brings justice and shows mercy in practical ways (see Zechariah 7, Amos 5)
  • I'm not a big fan of the multitude of moving images behind worship song lyrics - a little goes a long way. I also find that I am paying more attention to the images than the words (and they are rarely syncronized thematically).
  • Fernando Ortega + string quartet + meditative worship = refreshing
  • Shaun Groves: Analogy of our old self vs. our new self - It's like having 2 dogs. Which do you feed and which do you starve? This can be a practical self-examination question. If I do this/watch this/say this/etc., which dog am I feeding?
  • To be authentic as a worship leader, don't ignore your struggles (God's power is made perfect in our weakness)
  • Ross Parsley: Discipleship happens in doing ministry together (not just over coffee). Purpose bonds people.
  • Ross Parsley: analogy of worship as coming around the Family Table - when people from multiple generations are there, it shapes what happens. Church shopping is weird because in life, people don't choose their families. We must be concerned about the whole family, not just with what we like.
  • (More Ross Parsley) Discipleship process:
    You Do - They Watch
    You Do - They Help
    You Help - They Do
    You Watch - They Do
  • Marva Dawn is much better to listen to than to read (so you can see her whole personality & see/hear her heart for God)
  • Marva Dawn: "I'm not opposed to new songs...if they're theologically sound and musically singable."

There's more I could say - but it's been a tiring week...and tomorrow's the last day of the conference (and it's a full one). Hopefully coming soon: stories from my attempts to navigate Austin.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Midsummer Favorites

Summer goes FAST. Here are some of my reviews of what I've seen/heard/read this summer (so far - there is still plently of fun to be had).

  • Movie:
    I didn't expect this, but Ratatouille is by far my favorite movie of the summer. I had heard it was good, but I enjoyed it SO. MUCH. If you have seen it, I would love to talk to you about it and see what you thought. If you haven't, then I highly recommend it. I thought it was a beautiful film with a lot to ponder and enjoy. I am not into cuisine/food that much, but I connected to it as an artist quite a bit.
  • Worship CD:
    I got a worship CD from Mars Hill Church in Michigan (where Rob Bell preaches) a few weeks ago. It is a breath of fresh air. It's a recording from a local church - there's lots of spiritually rich content, the music is good and designed for congregational singing, it's fun (lots of different styles), and there are a lot of great original songs. You can listen to it streaming online - and all of the chord charts/lead sheets are available online for free. Great great great.
  • Book:
    This one's harder - because I've started several books - and have finished very few. (I'm still working on Harry Potter - and the Dan Kimball book I mentioned a few posts earlier.) I'm still going to say Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton - though I'm not far into it. I've already discovered that Rich Mullins had to have read this book (there are some definitely references to Chesterton in his lyrics).

And while I'm at it, here are some other things I'm excited about lately:

  • Playing in the municipal band. While this is a major time commitment, it has felt good to get back into the groove of playing with an ensemble. I'm also getting to meet lots of new people. It's amazing to play alongside people who have played their instruments and played in this ensemble for decades. We've played a wide variety of music so far & it's fun to play for the family (grandparents!) and friends who are loyal enough to endure the heat!
  • The Africa series at church. I knew it would be exciting, but it really is cool to be challenged by what's going on in another part of the world and pray together as a church about how to respond.