what creatives need….

What do creatives in your organization, church or business need?  Not ALWAYS the top of the line equipment (although I must confess, having 16g’s of ram and 8 processor mac does help tremendously).  What they DO need is the freedom to create, experiment, dream and at times fail.  Case in point, the video below. Shot and edited on an iphone.  Watch all the way through to see how they did it at the end.


Easter Story 3

This is the Smart’s brief story of how God stepped in and gave them a new direction.  The Smarts are a part of Cedar Creek On the Ridge Campus.  Phillip used this video during his message to help illustrate how Easter means that we have a new purpose in life.  If you didn’t get a chance to see the other two stories, you can find them here and here.


Easter Story 1

This Easter at Cedar Creek we decided that one of the most effective ways to tell the story of Easter is to let people who have had their lives radically changed by Jesus tell their story.  So we asked some Cedar Creek people to share their stories.  You can watch the message in its entirety with the videos here.  One of the things I thought was great was that all 3 campuses were represented.  I’m going to post the stories over the next few days.

This is James’ story.  Phillip was talking about how Easter means that our past can be forgiven and used this video to help illustrate that.


tell your story

This morning I was reading in my time with God about Horatio G. Spafford, the writer of the famous hymn It Is Well.  You’re probably familiar with his story, how he lost all four of his daughters in a wreck at sea, and how, when passing over the same spot where his daughters perished, he wrote that hymn.  By the way, this is a guy who was ruined financially and not only lost his four daughters, but also lost his only son.

This is a hymn we would sing growing up in my home church.  We would sing the song, most of it memorized and go on with the worship service.  Now, I don’t want to get into a debate of traditional vs contemporary, or hymns vs praise/worship songs.  That is not relevant here and I think the wrong questions anyway.  What struck me as I read the song lyrics today were two thoughts: 1. context 2. story.

Spafford wasn’t setting out when he wrote these lyrics to become debated by others on whether or not we should sing hymns vs songs.  In my opinion, he didn’t give a flip what you or I thought about his lyrics.  He was a man that was ruined, and in the darkness of his life, he was clinging to the only One worth clinging to.  He was telling his story…real, honest and raw. He was telling it in the context, in the language of his day to where people connected with it. He not only shared his story, he pointed them to Jesus and then to what awaits for those who believe and follow Jesus.  He shared the gospel in his story.  Imagine as the people in his day, knowing the story, knowing Spafford himself perhaps, would sing or read the lyrics in this song.  I’ll be honest, every time I hear or read the 3 and 4 stanza’s of this song, I get a lump in my throat and have to choke back tears of thankfulness, awe of God and hope.  It makes me want to do fist pumps and shout, “YES JESUS!!!”

So, where you live, in the context that God has placed you to breathe, work and relate, tell your story in your way.  Think about the people that may hear or see it.  Think about where they are at in their life.  Point them to Jesus.  Point them to the hope beyond that “this is not it”.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
It is well with my soul,
it is well, it is well with my soul.

2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
let this blest assurance control,
that Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
and hath shed his own blood for my soul.

3. My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

4. And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
the clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
the trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
even so, it is well with my soul.

when it’s time to move on

Was reading this morning in Numbers 9 about the Israelites when they were moving along in the desert wilderness, post-Egypt.  Was reading verses 19-23.  Just some thoughts about following God in this verses that really stuck out to me.  I’ll try to keep this brief, but I’m thinking out loud so it probably won’t be.  May become a sermon at some point 🙂

19 If the cloud remained over the Tabernacle for a long time, the Israelites stayed and performed their duty to the Lord. 20 Sometimes the cloud would stay over the Tabernacle for only a few days, so the people would stay for only a few days, as the Lord commanded. Then at the Lord’s command they would break camp and move on. 21 Sometimes the cloud stayed only overnight and lifted the next morning. But day or night, when the cloud lifted, the people broke camp and moved on. 22 Whether the cloud stayed above the Tabernacle for two days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on. But as soon as it lifted, they broke camp and moved on. 23 So they camped or traveled at the Lord’s command, and they did whatever the Lord told them through Moses.  – Numbers 9:19-23

Basic premise is that there was a cloud that was the Lord’s presence and would lead them through the wilderness on the way to the promise land (which included a 40 year sight seeing tour because of their disobedience, whining, complaining and wishing that they could go back to Egypt – but that’s another post for another time).  When the cloud came down and settled on the tabernacle, they were to camp there until the cloud lifted back up and moved on.  Here are my thoughts:

  • 19 – wherever the cloud settled, they “performed their duty to the Lord” – they worshipped, they lived, they did what God told them to do.  How about for you and me.  Are you at a place where you know there is a coming destination, whether in your career, family or ministry but right now you’re in the “getting there stages”?  Am I being obedient in serving Him wherever I am in the journey.  To coin a song title, am I being faithful where I’m at “while I’m waiting”?  Also, I think it is key to not miss the lesson in the waiting.
  • 20-22 – Sometimes they would camp for just one night.  Sometimes they would pull up camp during the night.  Then, sometimes they would camp for a month at a time, even a year.  When they were moving at a rapid pace, there had to be excitement in the camp..and probably some grumbling.  “Again, God?  We’re moving again?”  The flip side to that had to be in those prolonged times..the months and year times.  The text doesn’t say, but you know there had to be thoughts of “When, God?  How long until we reach the promised land?  We’ve been out here a long time.”  I think this is reality for most of us at some point in our journey.  There are times and seasons in my life where it seemed like God was moving in my life at a rapid fire pace.  Exciting things in life and ministry just firing off.  And then there are times where it seems God waits….He pauses.
  • 22-23 – As soon as the cloud lifted and moved on, they got up right then, pulled up stakes and followed.  This is tough.  This is hard at times.  Obedience.  Obedience is not doing what God says, when I feel like doing it and how I want to do it.  Obedience is doing what God says when HE says to do it and how HE says to do it.  Sometimes that is easy.  Sometimes not so much.  Listening, expecting, hearing and doing what Jesus says.  Praying and asking for grace to do them all.

doing the same thing….

…over and over again will produce the same results.  Now, I’ll give you a minute to digest the “incredible depth” of that thought. 🙂

If you’ve ever done any weight training consistently, one of the things you’ll experience is what I call “the plateau”.  The plateau is the point when a particular muscle group tends to not show or experience new growth.  I’m sure there are official medical terms for this, but I’ve seen it in my own experience.  There is a point where your muscle “remembers” that exercise, call it boredom, and growth is limited.

I think that is a great analogy for our lives.  There comes a point where we do the same routines in ministry, our careers, our families over and over again and we stopped being stretched and our growth is stunted.

Here’s what I’ve been thinking and asking myself:

  • What are the areas in my ministry that I need to stretch myself in?  In my career?  In my family?
  • What are the routines I need to change up to help stimulate new growth?
  • Try to be specific: This is a decision and an action that I need to make in order to break out a particular stagnate pattern.

12 years ago today…

..I was introduced as the new student pastor at Cedar Creek Church.  Been quite a ride.  Still am incredibly thankful to Richard Swift for taking a chance on this punk kid :).  Some interesting changes at CCC (and in me) have occurred along the way:

Then: When I first arrived, we were still meeting in a day care and were averaging close to 400 people and had two services.  Our offices were in downtown Aiken in the old post office.  The only staff at that time was Richard (Lead Pastor), Kay (Secretary), Travis (Small Groups Pastor), and me as student pastor.

Now: We’re averaging close to 3,000 people across 3 campuses and a total of 5 worship experiences.  I think our staff is around 30 and we’re trying to find places for staff offices.

Then: I was coming in to my second student ministry position and was still learning the ministry ropes.

Now: In 2004, God shifted the focus of my ministry and I began leading our visual media and production at Cedar Creek….and I’m still learning the ministry ropes.

Then: Kim was pregnant with our first child Hannah.

Now: We have two kids, Hannah and Spencer.  Hannah is in middle school.  That is still a scary thought.  After doing student ministry for that long and being able to remember my middle and high school days, it helps to keep my prayer life focused.

From what I know, I think 12 years is a probably above average in one church considering most people in ministry tend to move around more often than that.  Have no clue what the journey has ahead, but if you would have told me I would be where I am at 12 years ago, I probably would have laughed.