Why Barefoot?

Why don’t I wear shoes onstage?

Great question! It’s one that I get asked quite often. As one of the pastors at a large church, there are thousands of people who see me every single weekend, and have never seen me with shoes on! No hipster boots, no classy converse, no strange Jesus chanclas, NOTHING! Just my naked feet. I wanted to be called “The Naked-Foot Pastor” but it seemed a little controversial…

So back to your question: why no shoes? Well, if I answered that at this point in the BLOG, it would be a really short post. And you’re already here so lets cover some other topics first! Like:

  • Do my feet get super dirty? (yes)
  • Do I really get weekly pedicures? (I’ll never tell)
  • Have I ever been a professional foot model? (semi-pro)

People always seemed shocked when we run into each other in Target and I am wearing shoes. Which leads me to wonder… Can you go into Target without shoes??

A lot of people seem to hope for a super spiritual reason for being “The Barefoot Pastor” (a nickname I have embraced but, want to point out, did not coin). I feel pressure to say something about Moses removing his sandals, and being on hallowed ground, and then my mind starts to wander about what “hallowed” means and if it has anything to do with Halloween and before long I can’t even remember the question I was asked…..

Oh ya! Why do I go barefoot? Unfortunately it isn’t because I am a super-christian, or a hippy, or an environmentalist. I’m not protesting sweat-shops, even though I probably should be. I don’t have awkwardly wide-set feet that are uncomfortable in sneakers. The rumor that my feet are so white that I can’t tell them apart from my socks is only partly true. I didn’t lose a bet and I’m not holding out for a sponsorship from a major shoe brand, (even though if I got one I would rock shoes on stage every weekend….shallow but honest).

So here’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for, (and by all, I mean the three people who decided to read this far). I go barefoot because **drum roll**

IT’S COMFORTABLE!

Well, that was a let down. So let me make a loosely connected spiritual application so we can all feel like this BLOG was worth our time… I have two sons. Lane is 10 and Paxton is 5. Even at such young ages they are already feeling the immense pressures to fit in and be cool. They want to wear the cool brands, and match up with the latest fashions. I observe them exchanging their own style and their own comfort in order to increase the likelihood of acceptance from their peers.

THIS PISSES ME OFF! My anger is not at my sweet little angel-babies! It’s at the culture that is putting pressure on them before they are even old enough to know how to fight it. I go barefoot because I like being barefoot. I wear white v-necks almost every single day because I like them and they’re comfortable, (and because when you’re as pale as me, wearing white makes you look less transparent)! I want to show my boys that God accepts you exactly how you are! If you want to wear socks with sandals because it is a nice, casual winter option – then you wear them!

I want my boys to find their identity in who they are in Christ – not in people’s opinions. I have been told that preaching barefoot is irreverent, disgusting, distracting, and unsanitary. And at least most of those are just not true! I will be barefoot every day that I want until I decide not to be. Because God doesn’t look at the feet of a man but at his heart. I’m confident my boys will get that some day, and I will be the proudest barefoot parent you’ve ever seen!

Money = Happiness??

There are 3 types of people who will tell you that “Money can’t buy you happiness”:

  • Rich people who feel bad that they are rich and you are notSONY DSC
  • Normal people who need to feel better that they aren’t richer
  • Your strange hippy uncle who grows his own oatmeal and gives you full-frontal hugs for Christmas

Ok, so maybe you don’t actually have that uncle. But the first two types of monetary philosophers absolutely exist. Now, I know these people have wonderful intentions with this statement. I know that the Bible tells us that “the love of money is the root of all evil”. However, the statement “money can’t buy you happiness,” is simply A LIE!

I remember my first big purchase. I had scraped together all my Christmas, birthday, chore money and maybe even some quarters I found on top of the washing machine. With my fortune in hand, I got my parents to drive me to the mall (for my younger readers, an indoor place with hundreds of stores and an awesome food-court), walk me into radio shack ( a tiny Best-Buy), and it was there that I bought…. A METAL DETECTOR!

Now, in my 6th grade mind, this was like investing in gold. I would triple my investment it in the first week! I would strike gold, or silver, or at least a coke can before the sun went down that night!

And most importantly… I WAS HAPPY! My money had bought me what I truly wanted and dreamed about for over a year! I was ecstatic! And that feeling didn’t leave after puberty or college or even now that I am married and have kids. When I bought my Fender Strat I was on cloud 9! The day I bought my house I was on top of the world!

Now, my family lives on a very strict budget. We don’t live in excess, but we aren’t poor either! Our toilet paper may not be triple-ply, but it sure ain’t single! We simply aren’t rich!

So, I was wondering what an actual rich person’s perspective is on this topic. And, I happen to have one really rich friend! I’m talking, could sell one of his cars and buy two of my houses rich! This guy once bought two identical rolexes because he thought it would be funny to wear one on each arm! So, I tested my theory and asked him what he thought: “Can money really buy you happiness?”

“ABSOLUTELY…” He replied without hesitation!

I was right! I was right! (If you haven’t heard, I HATE BEING WRONG!)… I’m normal and money buys me happiness, he is rich and money buys him happiness, and I’m betting someone who is poor could be pretty happy if they fell into some money… So, my conclusion was spot-on!

But before I could feel too good about myself, he finished his thought. “… but money can’t buy you contentment.” The only noise for the next few seconds was my jaw hitting the floor. How had I missed it? Sure, money can bring you happiness. Your Mercedes will never NOT be fun to drive. Your watches will ALWAYS look good with your designer jeans. Your giant house will always have room for your newest toys.

But, whether you are rich, or poor, or somewhere in the middle; money will never bring you contentment. Money is great as long as it is seen as a tool to your dreams. There are people living in boxes who are twice as content as millionaires in mansions. Money can help you by allowing you to pursue your dreams or invest in your ideas, but it is not the source of contentment. The source of your contentment is PASSION, and TRUE passion comes from GOD!

So go out and pursue your passion! Go ahead and dream and, if your passion requires money, then work a crappy job until you can fund it! When we find the passions inside of us they often lead to our purpose that God has put on our lives. And when God is involved in your passion, you have the richest investor there is!

“Live Long and Prosper”

Yesterday, the world lost one of the most iconic actors in television history, Leonard Nimoy. Nimoy, more popularly known as Spock, was an intergalactic superstar. Many are mourning the late actor, including a loyal group of Trekkies, the most devoted fans of the show.

Spock

Nimoy’s iconic line was, “Live Long and Prosper”, and the actor surely did just that! He was an accomplished actor, director, musician, and family-man. He is responsible for not only one of the most well-known catch-phrases of all time, but also an ultra-famous hand gesture! His acting was brilliant and his work will forever speak for itself.

However, his death led me to think about how I will be remembered someday. To be honest, when I heard the news, I thought: “oh man, Spock died...” But SPOCK didn’t die! Spock is a made up character. In fact, thanks to JJ Abrams, there is already a new Spock!

Leonard Nimoy died. A very real man with very real friends and a very real family. And while there is nothing wrong with the legion of fans missing an iconic actor, it must pale in comparison to the loss felt by those who KNEW him.

When I die, I don’t want people to mourn the loss of my perception. I want people to see behind the disguise I put on from time to time. The disguise that says I have it all together, or that I don’t need any help. I don’t want people to remember the greatest moments of my acting. I want people to have known the real me. The me that struggles with real things. I long to be transparent and forthright with who I am.

There is so much temptation as a pastor to get on stage and act like we are the standard to be measured against. That we have it all together. We want to be resilient like Spock – unflappable in the face of adversity. We think that if people knew that we get scared, and prideful, and tempted, and pissed off – that they would think less of us… that we wouldn’t be able to lead them or be an example.

But our job is not to act. Our job is to be real… to be approachable and relatable. Our job is to let everyone know that we are in this together. That we are not the masks we wear to hide our deepest fears. We are not brilliant actors, and our church podiums are not our stages!

We are all flawed, and broken, and deceitful, and that is what makes us beautiful. Because, when we see ourselves for who we really are, then we are ready to truly look to God for our identity. And when we find our identity in God, we are finally ready:

to “Live Long and Prosper

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White & Gold… a BLOG about being wrong

It’s comforting to know that so many people, all around the world, experienced the same moment last night. That moment when you looked at your spouse/friend/child/co-worker/etc, like they were an absolute idiot for not seeing that the infamous dress was CLEARLY White and Gold!

FullSizeRender

I was reading an article about the viral sensation, wondering how anyone could possibly be seeing Blue and Black. The dress was so clearly White and Gold that it felt like the whole universe had organized a practical joke against me! (apparently, I think the whole world cares about pulling a prank on me…). I casually showed the picture to Katie and said “hey what color is this dress?”

“Black and Blue…” she replied, wondering why I was interrupting her phone call…again.

OK” I thought, “Who got my wife in on this joke??”

It’s a good thing I don’t have much money because I was about to bet it ALL on that dress being White and Gold! It WAS White and Gold! I was more than sure!

Except…it wasn’t. The dress is, in fact, Blue and Black. My eyes had deceived me. I WAS WRONG! I hate being wrong! I mean, I can’t help what I saw, what I really truly believed; but, at the end of the day, the dress is Blue and Black.

Have you ever been SO sure of something, but in the end you were dead wrong about it?

  • The boyfriend/girlfriend you KNEW was your soul-mate
  • The friends you knew would stick with you forever
  • The life goals you knew you would achieve by 30
  • Y2K…

Add to that list now the infamous Blue and Black dress. The reality is, not everything is an optical illusion, but most things in life are rather uncertain. You can’t really know how your relationships will end up. There are too many intangibles to control all the aspects of your future. Something you may steadfastly vouch for today, you may run from tomorrow.

Life is crazy and full of inconsistencies! So where do we find hope in a world full of things we can’t rely on?

Well, in the midst of instability, there remains one constant. One immovable force. One thing that has been consistent for all of time. In an unreliable world, there stands an unchangeable God. A God who loves you. A God who makes it OK that you still can’t see the Blue or Black in that White and Gold dress. Because at the end of the day, you are loved.

You are loved through your mistakes. You are loved through your failures. You are loved when your spouse leaves you for someone younger and more attractive. You are loved when your friends ditch you or when your life goals are all failures. You are loved when you don’t make the grade. You are loved when you build an underground shelter, buy all the bottled water in the closest 5 counties, wear a tin-foil hat and tell all your friends the world is ending… No matter what you do or where you go, YOU ARE LOVED. Because God’s love is the one thing that has never, and will never change!

Also, #teamwhiteandgold forever!!

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50 Shades of Grace

If you are unaware of the current blockbuster/bestselling book, “50 Shades of Grey”, then congratulations on waking up from your year-long coma… The sex-driven, bondage-themed plot has made tons of money and found numerous hardcore fans. It has also been met with STRONG opposition from many corners; one of the most outspoken groups being the christian community.

Now, I have not watched or read any of the ’50 Shades’ material so I am going off of second-hand info here, but it seems like the church has a clear biblical basis for standing against the film/book. However, what always bothers me in these situations is HOW the collective “we” go about our protesting of societal fads, (The “we” being christians as perceived by the rest of the world):

  • Bitter interactions with individuals
  • Judgmental Facebook posts
  • A better-than-you countenance
  • And other attacks on PEOPLE instead of the ISSUE.

If while trying to drive people out of the movie theater you also drive them further from ever entering the doors of a church, you are failing! Jesus did not spend His time on earth running around protesting all the immoral activities of the day (and there were plenty!). In fact, the only people we see Jesus consistently calling out on their behavior, were the Pharisees! THE PHARISEES! The religious elite who were ostracizing all the people who needed God. The Pious priests who got to pick and choose which sins to rally against and which to do in secret.

As christians, it is easy to get up-in-arms about “50 Shades of Grey”… It is full of gratuitous, out of wedlock, sex! It is produced by Hollywood, (synonymous in some churches with Sodom and Gomorra)! It represents everything that we say is wrong with the world!

SO, I thought of some alternative plots that the writer of ’50 Shades’ could have used that would have flown under the radar of christian protests:

50 SHADES OF GRAVY

Plot: A man starts an addictive relationship with southern, fried foods. He ends up in bondage, not only to his eating habits, but also to his ever-expanding waist line. What started as three square meals a day, has turned in to a gluttonous quest for more and more.  

50 SHADES OF GRAY’S ANATOMY

Plot: A young woman hears about a new show on Netflix. The series features a McDreamy doctor working in an intense, drama-filled hospital. The woman ends up chained to her computer, watching Netflix non-stop! Her relationships and responsibilities begin to drop as she falls farther and farther into her show-binging.

50 SHADES OF GRACELESS CHURCHES

Plot: A conservative church becomes obsessed with legalism and rule-following, sending away anyone who doesn’t look the part of the religious elite. The culture becomes more and more stringent and captive to judgmentalism and self-appreciation.

These movies probably wouldn’t lift many eyebrows. Who cares about a guy eating his way to an early death? Why would a Netflix addiction be worth protesting? Who cares if a church has strict moral policies?

Well, in short, GOD CARES! Gluttony is one of the 7 deadly sins. Putting anything before God (even Netflix) is called idolatry and is one of the most spoken about offenses in scripture. Being a stumbling-block to people seeking Jesus is such a big deal, that in some circumstances, Jesus recommended drowning yourself instead!!

Why is it that we jump at the opportunity to speak out against the current ’50 Shades’ phenomenon but leave other issues alone? Could it be that we can’t speak out against over-eating and being judgmental because we are often guilty of it? Sure, it’s easy to rally against sexual perversion, chains, and whips; but, could an even more dangerous sin be an inability to extend grace to those around you?

It’s time to tear down the pillars of US and THEM. “Us” the moral majority, Bible-carrying, Toms-wearing, super-christians; and “Them” the sex-flaunting, pot-smoking, club-hopping sinners. You may sin differently than others, but you are just as screwed. You are just as damned to eternity in Hell. Your sin has separated you the same distance from God. And your only hope of a future in heaven is also their only hope! We are ALL saved by grace. There is no US and THEM… we are ALL THEM! And we are all made righteous by Jesus’ work on the cross, not our works here on earth!

The sooner we realize this, the sooner we can begin changing the world, loving people through their mistakes, and extending 50 SHADES OF GRACE to everyone we meet! We can join with Jesus to love tgracehe unlovable, bring hope to the hopeless, and help the weary find peace!

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How To Ruin A Church pt.2

(This is the second of a two-part Blog. “How To Ruin A Church pt.1” will give you the background for this post.) 

I’m sure you aren’t the kind of person to jump in to a “Part 2” without reading the “Part 1”. That would be crazy! But, just in case you are THAT adventurous, here is a very short recap:

While Jesus was on earth he encountered two very rich men. One was a commandment following young ‘ruler’. The other was Zacchaeus: a low-life, cheating, stealing, tax collector. Both had the opportunity to follow Jesus whole-heartedly and for both of them it meant giving up what was most important to them… MONEY! The commandment following, scripture memorizing, compassion child sponsoring young ruler walked away. The manipulative, vertically challenged, IRS agent gave more than was required and followed Christ.

So what does this teach us about How To Ruin A Church??

First, let me make some observations about our two wealthy friends. The young ruler was able to approach Jesus with what seems like very little effort. Zacchaeus (Let’s call him Zach from here on. I haven’t typed that name correctly yet…) would have never had a chance to have a conversation with Jesus on his own effort. This is a cultural thing. The young ruler had money and authority. With those things came influence. He could move through the crowd and go as he pleased because the social class system gave him priority over others. Zach was hated and reviled by all around him and because he was constantly stealing their money, the people would not budge for him!

SO HERE IT IS! HERE IS THE QUICKEST WAY TO RUIN A CHURCH!!!

Cater to your rich young rulers. The rule-following, tithe-giving, influencers of your society. Who has the majority of your Church’s attention? Is it the successful businessman who donated the new carpet in the fellowship hall? Or is it the lying, stealing, cheating, broken people of the world? Do your CEOs sit on the front row on Sunday morning while the ‘lost’ people have to climb the tree to the balcony just to catch a glimpse?

Most churches today would rather have a rich young ruler who will consistently give 10% of their six-figure checks than to take a gamble on the “least of these” who may give God their WHOLE LIVES! If you want to ruin your church, choose your song selection, teaching topics, membership policies, unwritten dress codes, and behavioral expectations on the needs of the rich rule-followers. Your church will certainly be richer in dollar signs because of it! But, what I have experienced at City Church shows the results of going after the Zach’s of the world. We have baptized over 600 tree-climbers this year and there isn’t ANY monetary figure you could tempt us to trade that for! Every decision we make we ask the question, “How does this help reach lost people?” If our vision strayed towards anything but that we would quickly lose sight of what Jesus taught us with these two rich men.

It’s time to build churches for the Zach’s in our world! It’s time that Christians stand up and advocate for the needs of the lost instead of the wants of each other! If you do that you will see a generation rise up that builds God’s kingdom in ways we can not even imagine!  If not, you may quickly find out…

How To Ruin A Church!

How To Ruin A Church pt.1

This is the first of a two-part Blog. Be sure to read the conclusion, “How To Ruin A Church pt.2” for the rest of the story!

While Jesus was on earth he had interactions with a wide range of people. Lepers, prostitutes, religious elite, political heavy-hitters, vagabonds, etc… Though we are told in scripture that Jesus was very poor, he often ran into, and had influence with, very wealthy people. Two of these encounters are mentioned in the gospels.

First, Jesus is approached by a very rich young ruler. This bro was high class! He valet parked his custom chariot, straightened his Luis Vuitton toga, and made his way straight up to Jesus. “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” he asked Jesus. It seems this rich young man had what he considered a great life and he wanted it to last for eternity! He wanted to make sure that all the wealth and status he acquired would go beyond the grave.

Furthermore, the young ruler followed ALL the rules. He kept all the commandments, gave his 10% tithe, put the toilet seat down, and never wore white after labor day! He had it all figured out and was quick to let Jesus know that.

Jesus’ response could not have been more shocking… “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

WHAT?! This did not fit the young man’s plan at all! He didn’t want an eternal life of poverty! He wanted eternal protection for his investments. Shell-shocked the ruler hung his head, and walked away…

Later we see Jesus meeting with another rich man. Strangely, he found this one at the top of a tree! You see, Zacchaeus did not have the social clout of the rich ruler to simply get to walk up and engage Jesus in a conversation. He didn’t even have the social equity to get to stand in the front of the crowd with all the other shorties. He was the chief tax collector: a swindler and master manipulator. People hated him! That’s why Zacchaeus had to climb a tree just to get a glimpse of Jesus.

I WANT TO PAUSE HERE FOR A SECOND…

I never feel like the reality of this tree climbing EVER gets enough attention. I love climbing trees! And, when I was a child, it was pretty socially acceptable. Now that I am a grown man and a dad, I get some strange looks when I go all ‘Tarzan’ with my boys at the park. In Zacchaeus’ culture, honor and dignity were the building blocks of society and climbing trees was not just simply embarrassing, it was social suicide. One more thought…… He was probably in traditional dress (think a robe or toga) and they were still centuries away from the invention of UNDERWEAR! If people didn’t already know he was rich, they were about to get a nice view of the family jewels!!

But Zacchaeus simply didn’t care. Jesus singled him out and told him that they were going to hang out that night at Zacchaeus’ house! Once they arrived, he was so overwhelmed by Jesus’ love, he made an oath to give half of his wealth to the poor and to pay back FOUR TIMES what he had cheated anyone out of. He had built his life and compromised all of his ethics to build this fortune. He was a liar and cheater and hated by everyone. But, when he met the love of God, embodied in Christ, he was willing to trade all he had to follow Him.

Two men. Both incredibly rich. Both faced with the same decision. What we can learn from these men can help us grow churches that build God’s kingdom and reach the world. But, if we aren’t careful, we can quickly learn How to Ruin a Church!

How To Be Cool

I’ve always been confused about what makes someone cool…

Is it the dapper Don Drapers, the tank top-wearing hipsters, the ravers, the Ke$has (please say no), or some weird combo of all, OR NONE, of these?! 

“Cool” has been a quickly moving target for so long, I don’t know how anyone keeps up. To illustrate my point, let’s review a few things that have been ‘cool’ in the recent past: 

-Twilight

-Frosted Tips

-Ugg Boots

-Orlando Bloom

-Justin Bieber

-Orlando Bloom fighting Justin Bieber

-Rebecca Black

HAVE I MADE MY POINT??

Now, there are some things that will always be cool. This is the part of my BLOG that is no longer opinion. Here is the list of eternally cool things:

-Jesus

-Coffee

-Star Wars IV-VI

-White V-necks

Besides these few things, it can be quite difficult to find out what it really takes to be cool. Do I try hard? Do I not try at all? Do I try super hard to make it look like I’m not trying at all?? Do I drink Coffee in my white V-neck while watching Star Wars and reading scripture?? (Can you say ‘perfect day’!)

Confession time: I have no idea how to be cool. Before I met my wife I genuinely thought that socks with sandals offered a great winter compromise. I thought brown and black were complimenting colors. I actually had the definitions of ‘casual’ and ‘formal’ backwards and could not figure out why everyone was always so over/under-dressed at events!

So you may not have the easy swagger of Matt Mcconaughey, the dreamy eyes of Johnny Depp, the truth-telling hips of Shakira, or the great personality of Megan Fox (that is what we like about her, right?). Maybe you didn’t grow up feeling like you were ever a part of the ‘cool’ crowd. With all that going against you, maybe it’s time to give up!

I want to suggest that giving up is actually the right answer! If being cool is your ultimate goal I can almost guarantee you will come up short. Let’s be honest, even if you attain temporary cool status, you are probably wearing Uggs or frosting your tips and will look back in embarrassment in a few short years! What would happen if we changed our goal from being cool to being compassionate, or kind, or empowering of others? If we make supporting others our ultimate goal, being seen as ‘cool’ will take care of itself! Better yet, people won’t want to be around you because you are rocking the latest trend or know the basic rules of matching. They will want to be around you because they know you truly care for them, and they truly like you. Because cool has become more than what you do or what you wear… It becomes a product of who you are.

Die Free or Live Trying!

You’re going to die.

Unfortunately, this is not optional. Maybe it won’t be today or tomorrow; but, you wouldn’t be the first person to be wrong about that assumption! Everyday people die and others are born…who will die someday!! The second you were conceived started a countdown that no one, NO ONE, can turn off.

Isn’t it interesting how things change for people who KNOW they are going to die. Not in the same sense mentioned above, where we know that SOMEDAY we will die. I am talking about going for a routine check-up and finding out you have 3 months to live! Some of the greatest movies and TV shows have been based on the idea of someone who has limited time to live. What will they choose to do with their time? Make love to as many people as possible? Spend every second with their spouse and children? Try to make the world better with every moment they are here? Break bad with a former underachieving student, quit their job as a chemistry teacher, murder hundreds of people, and become one of the greatest drug Lord’s in the midwest?? (Ok, that got a little specific…)

Death is frustrating because we have no control over it. We all have that crazy uncle who is 450 pounds, smokes 3 packs a day, and can’t even spell “exercise” who has lived to be 98 years old! At the same time, there are organic eating, clean living, workout freaks who contract some crazy disease and die before 30! Death is not only inevitable, it is completely unpredictable.

How can we live a life of freedom and courage when we have all been born with the destiny to die?

YOU HAVE TO CHOOSE TO FACE YOUR DEATH

Romans 6:7-8 says, “For he who has died is justified from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him.” Jesus did not wait for death to come to Him. He walked right up to death and challenged it to the most epic battle that has ever taken place… AND HE WON!

All throughout the Bible we see Jesus calling us to do things that are counter-intuitive. (“Love your enemies” “Become the least and you will be made the greatest” “blessed are the poor for they will be the richest” etc…). Once again, Jesus is calling us to do something that seems strange, if not crazy! He is asking us to die.

So how do you choose to die? Again, in Romans, Paul tells us, “For if by the offense of one man death has reigned… much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life through one Man, Jesus Christ!” (Rom 5:17) Paul is telling us that we are on death’s timeline because of SIN! Death was non-existent until Adam’s mistake in the garden. At that moment the countdown started for all of us… 

BUT THEN JESUS! He came and he beat death. Now, we can choose to believe in Christ and our future is secured and it is ETERNAL! When we choose to fix our eyes on Jesus we look up and we find life. We die to the things of this world, including death itself. Whether we live one more day or one more century, we are no longer on death’s timeline! We have faced death head on, but not by ourselves! We have gone to battle with the spirit of the one who has already defeated death living inside of us! 

Get off of deaths timeline today! Die to the ways of this world, to the idea that you have control or that you can create your best life possible. Focus your eyes on Jesus and walk in His way. Face your death with the power of His spirit!

We have two options:

DIE FREE or LIVE TRYING

How To Write a Song

worship_2

Disclaimer: I am not an expert songwriter, have never published a hit song, and actually know many people personally who write more, and often better, songs than me. However, I do consider myself a songwriter and would love to share my thoughts with you! (Or you can go back to FaceBook stalking. Your call!)

Tonight I am playing an acoustic gig where I am brushing off some of my old original songs and actually debuting some brand new ones! I used to play events like this 20-30 times a year and, like many things done at that level of repetition, I think I became numb to the content. Even though I always believe in what I am singing, there were some events that I went into a kind of auto-pilot when it came to the actual words of the songs. I feel confident that I was always in the moment and never phoned in any performances. However, it is easy to sing a song for the 16th time that month and focus on something other than the lyrics!

Well, tonight I do not have that luxury! I am fully aware of the words I am singing because, honestly, I had to relearn or remember most of them. I have been “off the road” for over two years and have lost track of my old tunes!

So let’s get back to why you opened this Blog… In my music career, the second most asked question, (right behind, “Why don’t you wear shoes”), has been “How do you write a song?”

Do you figure out the music first? Do the words come and then the music? Does it happen together? How long does it take? Where does the inspiration come from? Do you write in a group or alone?………..

Unfortunately, I really suck at answering these questions! (You are probably wondering why you are still reading this!). Sometimes I get the music then lyrics. Sometimes it’s the words first. Then, other times it all happens together. My lack of system probably speaks to the fact that I am not an amazing songwriter! So, as is apparent, I may not have the ground level answers to help you write a song. But, I want to go up a couple of hundred feet and tell you what I have recently discovered to be THE most important thing about how I write songs…

PASSION!

To write a song that is worth anything, I have to be passionate about it! That is why Jay-z raps about  getting money and I love it! It’s why Adele sings about heartbreak so real that we can’t help but eat it up! It’s why you guys who are worship fans need to be listening to Bethel Worship! If music is the vehicle, passion is the driver! The more passion you have the further your songs will go!

Earlier I mentioned how I am breaking out some old original songs. I was amazed to see that these songs, some of which I wrote when I was 16-17 years old, still reflect the deepest passions of my heart! Every one of them still directly applies to my life today because I wrote them out of a place of passion! 

I can’t tell you a process for sitting down and writing a song. My advice would be to grab your instrument, lock the door, and write SOMETHING! Most people fail at writing because they simply never do it. It is hard and frustrating. But if you find what you are passionate about, the frustration is well worth it! You can buy a book or probably even youtube some tips and tricks to songwriting. I am not interested in that today. What I want to encourage you to do is to write out of your story.

At CityChurch we teach people to lead out of their story. What is unique about you passions, where you are, and who you are? To help find your passion, learn your own story! Think back through your life and try to find patterns and events that make you who you are! Donald Miller has some amazing resources to help you ‘story’ your life and we here at CityChurch can help you as well! 

When you find those things in your story that spark your passion, put it on paper, put some music around it, then go out and change your world!