Friday, December 05, 2008

The Christmas Concert

I am leaving in the AM at 6 to head back to my hometown to do a Christmas concert. This will be our 11th year doing a benefit for the Salvation Army of Cleveland County NC. Admission is new toys and canned food per person. I can't believe it's been going on for 11 years and almost half of them after I had moved away to Nashville. I look forward to tomorrow. Seeing my friends, hugging my grandma and showing off my kids. There is so much I have to be thankful for. I can go home and hundreds of people will show up to hear me play. Don't think that's braggy, cause it won't happen anywhere else in America, but for tomorrow night, I'll play for my friends and I'll love every second. We'll give a bunch of stuff away to make needy and poor people happier this Christmas and worship our Savior. If you can come, it's in the Dover Theater @ Gradner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, NC. Door @ 6:15, Show @ 7. I can't wait. Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Leaving Something Behind

My church has four worship leaders: Me, Jason Ingram, Ronnie Freeman and Jeromy Diebler. We’ve been eating breakfast together on Tuesdays at Cracker Barrell. We like to talk and get to know eachother better. A Few weeks ago, Jeromy brought all of us a copy of a devotional book that had become special to him: “A Guide to Prayer For All God’s People”. He told us about the book and that it had brought some excellent perspective into his devotional life. I loved that getting that book because, more than ever, receiving a book means my life is about to change and my mind is going to grow. I love it! This book, however, came with an extra special treat.
When we got up to leave the resteraunt, a lady from the table next to ours stood up, got our attention and pointed to the copies of our new book. She was beaming with a huge smile. You could tell that she had a secret and she could not wait to let it out. She took the copy of the book from my hands and said, “I heard you guys talking about this book and I just wanted you to know that my Dad is the author.” She was glowing, proud and probably filled with same emotions that all of us have when we are unexpectedly surprised with joy. That experience marked me. It made me crave to put that same expression on the face of my own sons. How many memories could I make by being a man my sons will love. How many more could I make by living a life that leaves a treasure behind. A treasure of the Kingdom , an incorruptible, eternal inheritance. I want to live that kind of life. I want my kids to hear about my contribution to God’s people from strangers. I want them to be proud of me. I want your kids to be proud of you. Let’s live so that can happen. Live to leave something behind.
And finally, for Mr. Ruben P. Job: Thanks for writing your exceptional book of prayer and if you were wondering, your daughter is really, really proud of you.

Get your copy of Mr. Job's book here

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Nashvegas and the Cartee’s: 5 years together!!

I love fall in Nashville because it reminds me of a landmark in my life: the time of year when we moved here. When I left North Carolina prompted by purpose and acting on faith (2 Thes. 1:11) God said don’t make another move for five years. No matter what happens or who calls or what does not go right, this is your home for the next five years. In that time, I have turned down a ton of jobs for worhsip leader positions around the country and my reason has always been the same: “I can’t go anywhere for five years, because moving anywhere else does not fit into what God said. I’m honored that you thought of me, but I’ll have to say no.” Some of those opportunities were really amazing, dream job scenarios, repleat with everything great about employment. But they went to someone else. Now, however it gets interesting. This is the fifth year and I know now that the door is unlocked and I can go if I want. I know that I am released. With hind sight I see how moving here was not career development but God making room in our lives to see him work. I’m so thankful that my last five years have been full of more dreams coming true and God moving mightily on my behalf than the rest of my life combined. What he started here five years ago has transcended my every expectation. It’s gotten the best of my imagination and I have stopped guessing what God might do next, it’s always better that what I plan. So, here’s to my sons, my church, my friends, songs, Inspire Worship Conference, happiness, peace and hope and the million other things God has brought me through. Thanks for five years God. What next?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Use your Gift!

Use Your Gift!! (1 Corinthians 12, 1 Peter 4:10)
Americans spend $80 billion a year on gift cards. Over 8 billion of that goes unused and unredeemed.
We had the most amazing worship service last night. One of our teaching pastors, Lloyd Shadrack was so courageous to start his message on gifts the way he did. There is always an intro video that plays before each sermon to give context to the series or book of the bible that we’re studying. The video played as usual, and then nothing happened. No lloyd. No Lloyd for like a minute. When you have a set schedule and use every second of the service for everything from music, prayer, and preaching to announcements a minute feels like a long time. But not as long as five minutes which was how long it had been when Lloyd who was sitting on the front row, gets up and walks out. A few minutes after that he came back in to sit down, like he had casually been to the bathroom. He made a cell phone call to arrange dinner with a friend after the service. He chatted with the person next to him about what to do, because he did no want to teach. After thirteen minutes of listening to him do nothing, he finally stood up and asked us how this had made us feel. People were eager to say they almost left or they were frustrated or some even confessed to being angry and felt cheated. What ever the spectrum people found themselves on all of us in some way felt unsetteled and incomplete. We were short changed. Then he said…”this is how it feels when someone chooses not to use their gift to benefit others for God’s glory.” His object lesson was brilliant because it taught a very effective lesson in a concentrated amount of time. When you are not using your spiritual gifts regularly, you leave a huge void. People and the church suffer. Lloyd’s gift to teach, unused, threw all of us into a tailspin and his inaction caused a ripple through the body.
We all have spiritual gifts. All to be used in the measure in which we have. When I don’t use mine, you suffer. When you don’t use yours, I suffer. Be who God made you to be and do what God made you to do…I need you!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Anniversaries and Holding Back the Power of Hell

Oct. 5, 1952 my grand parents got married. They were young, hip, well dressed and full of potential. The road laid out before them was as promising as it was uncertain but they forged ahead. They worked hard and stayed faithful. They are still remaining faithful to this very second. Not famous, rarely celebrated and certainly not making a name for themselves in a worldly sense. They raised four children. My grandfather collected a few sales trophies along the way. My grandmother taught school. They made it through all the tough times in a marriage. They endured hardships from the economy, politics, church, children, community and work. Their secret is one timeless and simple way of loving…just not giving up on each other. Never abandon the commitment, no matter what. I am not sure they ever read a book on marriage or went to a conference or took an online course, but I bet they could fill volumes on how to remain faithful. I’ve had the joy of watching them and as much as their love mystifies me, I’m am sure of this…they always placed value on each other. Each put the others interests in front of his/her own. They both contributed 100% of themselves to the relationship. Perfection eluded them like it does all of us, but their legacy is not perfection…it’s finishing well and doing the daily, little things it takes to build what I see as an empire of integrity and love.
Their life makes me reconsider all the choices I make that are motivated by career or money. It forces me to take stock of all that I do and ask what kind of shelf life it will have. Will the works of my hands endure? No. Will the affections of my heart and the way I love my family? Yes.
I just returned from a retreat where the topic was spiritual warfare. A very interesting topic, especially since the speaker did not give us ten ways to slay demons, but rather choose to focus on the little things we do everyday that hold the enemy at bay. Hiding the word of God in our hearts, preaching the gospel to ourselves and others, being faithfully and authentically involved in a church community, observing the ordinances of the church like communion and baptism and embracing joy inside this, often difficult life. All of these define the way my grandparents lived and it’s these little things that add up to a legacy. So, to my grand parents, who in their quiet and courageous way have held back hell for fifty-six years, I say thanks. Thanks for fighting such a faithful fight and doing so with such joy. I love you guys.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Lost Bird

I was driving into Brentwood-Benson yesterday to write songs. I had just started to think and pray about my current spiritual situation. The last few days had been filled with this rampant attack on my mind. Temptation and distractions from ministry just started hitting me from every side. These lies came back to tempt me, calling me back to somewhere I had previously escaped from. Then I saw this sign in my neighborhood. “Lost Bird”. Wow. I do not own a pet, but of all the pets to own, I think birds might get the worst deal of all. The gift of flight is reduced to a caged existence lived only to amuse people in exchange for crackers and old newspaper. That bird is not lost, he’s free. I bet he sits up in a tree, reads that sign and laughs. He got his shot and took it…he’s free. He can fly again. He can see things from a higher place. He’s not coming back. Ever. Even though the old way of living might have been safer and more predictable, it was also the very thing that robbed him of who he was born to be. I’m not going back either…freedom is much too precious a gift to exchange for safety or comfort. I pray that when you see the sign with your name on it, calling you back to bondage, you laugh at it and savor the freedom of new life. “I have come that you might have life and have it to the full” John 10:10

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Old photos

Historical photography restoration is cool.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Worship In A Box

I played a gig a while back where I was without the band and flying solo. I had even forgotten some of my gear and was trying to scramble and find everything I needed. I had my guitar, but that was about it. The worship leader for the church I was playing happened to show up just in time to offer his gear for my use. It was nice enough gear, but as he was explaining the guitar pedals that I’d be using, he pointed one out in particular and said… “This’un here’s awesome. I kick that thing in and the Holy Ghost just goes wild. It’s worship in a box.” Hmm… I never knew the Lord was so fond of reverb. I got a little annoyed and took off making an internal list of ways I should confront and correct this brother’s obvious error, but before I got to the part about me being so smart and him being so not, I heard the Holy Spirit say… “He thinks I need that pedal to move, but you think I need you and your smarty pants attitude to move. The truth is, the starry hosts were made by my breath (Psalm 33) so why don’to you both just pray and ask for humble hearts as you lead people into my presence.” Lesson learned and a friend earned, I humbly borrowed his gear. I did not use the pedal however, I was probably afraid of what might happen.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Oak Shows Promise...

Here are a couple of music videos where The Mighty Oak busts out on his "drum set". Keep rockin' little buddy!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Called To Music Ministry

We’re home from camp and after about 15 years of doing this kind of ministry; I can truly say that this was one of our best years ever. The band was great, staff was great and I personally felt so good in my skin. Leading worship is unquestionably where I’m supposed to be... In the church, on the road, in the community and around the world… that’s still my calling. In light of the kind of ministry we do, there are a lot of students who get called into ministry, many into music ministry. I get a lot of music ministry questions and requests for advice on getting started, so here are a few tips that might help some of you who are called to full time music ministry. These principals have helped sustain my passion for God’s calling on my life.

1. Take your calling seriously. Do not give yourself an out. Abandon a plan B philosophy. If you’re called to music ministry, then go for it faithfully until you cannot physically do it any more. Ignore disappointment and negative influencers. The One who calls you is faithful (1 Thes. 5:23-24)
2. Practice and pursue excellence. 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. A little at a time goes a super long way. The real secret here is to use your brain. Challenging your skill on a weekly basis is essential to sparking the imagination. You’ll be amazed at how much more creative you become when you consistently practice.

3. Write your own material. Learn how to write songs and exercise your imagination for the glory of God. Don’t just copy others; make something for others to look to as an example.

4. Find a mentor, be a mentor. Always be under someone who can pour wisdom into your life. Always be kind enough to give what you know out to another.

5. Make music. As soon as you can, produce a consumable music product. CD’s, mp3’s, put it up on itunes… Whatever it is, just record something and make it available. It’s the only way you can be 1000’s of places at one time and it makes your ministry grow right where people are. Technology is way too cheap and accessible for you to be telling people they can’t consume your songs.

6. Be humble. Seek first the Kingdom and God’s righteousness, and everything else will be added to you (Matt. 6:33). Jesus was not a diva, he was a servant. Don’t demand honor, let it be a reward from those you serve with your music and ministry (Prov. 26:1). You define how you’ll be known; so write that definition “servant”. There is not a better model for the Christian musician. Here is the danger in a music career…as you go “up”; God conversely gets smaller amounts of space in your life. Stay humble. So, try to be like John the Baptist. Although he had all the trappings of a famous, influential, “out there”, artsy, rock star, he said, “I must decrease and He must increase”.

7. Plant yourself in the Church. The local church is the hope of the world and the institution Christ established on the earth as his bride. Let the end game of everything you do be to serve the church. Write to her, sing to her, love her humbly. The Christian music industry is not the hope of the world, put your efforts into serving the church and it’s interests (Jesus) before you chase after getting signed by a label that might not last into tomorrow. (This does not mean I would discourage anyone from forming a mainstream band that played clubs or stadiums or Vegas. My admonition would still remain the same however…love ands serve the church.

8. Play often. Take every opportunity you are given to make music to God’s glory. Especially in the early stages of my ministry, I saw great value in taking advantage of each chance to minister, not shrinking back from the opportunities presented to me. Along with serving regularly in my church, here are a few notable gigs…grocery store openings, numerous rest homes and a show where only 1 person showed up. (I played my guts out)

9. Memorize the Bible. There is little to explain about this, but much to be gained by the practice. Your mind, equipped with the Bible, is an amazing weapon against moral failure and other sin and a beautiful instrument of peace for the world around you.

10. Practice generosity. This would be the same for any ministry calling, but it’s often over looked, so I mention it here. Giving and specifically giving your money is a cornerstone of biblical behavior and the doorway through which blessing walks. Don’t ignore generosity or generosity will ignore you.

For other information or questions you have, please let me know.
thanks so much for reading...CC

Monday, July 21, 2008

Epidemic Worship

I have recently been reading The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell and it is a fascinating book. It has nothing to do with worship music, but it’s a study of human behavior and how the actions of a small group of influencers can tip any kind of behavior or trend into mainstream, epidemic proportions. One case study that has really fascinated me was about the horrible problem of suicide. The study found that when a suicide happens that gets front page attention in print or television, the rate of suicide in that area goes up by several percentage points (some times as many as six or seven points) after the initial “publicized” suicide. When Marylin Monroe committed suicide, the national average of self-inflicted death went up by around seven percent for a few weeks after her death. The same phenomenon happened with death of prominent rock star Kirk Cobain. The idea suggests that the public behavior of one influential person gives permission to a whole culture of people to follow suit. The actions of one influencer “tip” the actions of a culture.
Applied to worship teams, this concept has remarkable potential to impact the Kingdom and for the one who leads the way in expression of affection to our God this idea is challenging. Does the way you lead tip the dynamic around you? Are you the kind of influencer who carries a passion for Christ so contagious that is starts an epidemic? What about the way you lead drives people into an expression that is uniquely theirs, but has it’s roots in your influence. Sometimes all people are waiting for is the teacher to tell them it’s OK to make their move.
The nature of worship leadership comes with built in influence. Most musicians have been walking through the reality that such a public and people oriented gift creates. Some do it well and others do it horribly. Most of us have been in both places. Influence is obvious for leaders; the question is what are you going to do with yours? I challenge you to start an epidemic. Use the gifts of God and position of influence to tip worship over the edge in your community. The way you live your life may be the spark that lights the faith of those around you into blazing fire. Lead loud, calling those around you into the light of Christ…pointing the way from death to life. The way you worship could be the one point in time that God uses to start the next great outbreak of salvation and awakening. Be a tipping point for an epidemic of worship.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Creative Christianity

Yesterday I attended a seminar on this topic during the camp where I am leading worship (excellent job Jeremy, Kaitlyn and Robbie!). It got me pretty fired up about some things that have been on my mind. Living creatively for the glory of God and how that idea could give flight to the faith of millions. Here is the thought: we’re built to imagine and our brains are designed to do so much more than sustain life. They are wired to bring things into existence. Because of our unique creative and imaginative potential, we have been designed to give birth to things that never existed before. Not reproduced things, but introduced things…something from nothing kind of stuff. It is the part of us the Bible refers to when it says we are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26). You don’t look like God so much as you might your mama, but you surely are assembled with the capacities to think like a creator. Your imagination is what sparks you to act in faith. Every “what if” starts in your brain as an imagined thought and your faith is what brings it to an answer.

Every call of God starts with the Spirit of God speaking the rumors of potential into your mind. “Go, Send, Lead, Run, Fight, Fly, Sing, Preach, Give, Love, Plead, Risk, Change, Dance…” all of that starts in your head, and struggles toward to surface of existence, compelled by faith in the God who calls you…and remember the one who calls you is faithful (1 Cor. 1:9)

So, consider this as you live and worship creatively today…your imagination is the place where future greatness gets planted. It’s the soil where God sows influence and hope, revival and art, community and passion, all for His great glory. Your imagination unleashed for the glory of God is the most unstoppable weapon against the forces of darkness and by the same measure the most liberating force for the worshipping Christian. Bob Pierce imagined World Vision and that compassionate thought feeds, clothes and heals hundreds of thousands every year. Billy Graham imagined an evangelistic ministry that shared the Gospel with the world…now millions know Christ because a “what if” was answered. John the Baptist believed he was the fulfillment of an ancient prophesy, was not afraid to express what he felt from the inside out and he made a pathway for Jesus to take center stage. All of these were very imaginative ideas and wildly creative people.

Here are five tips on unleashing God’s potential for your life through your imagination.

Use it…let your brain in on what your heart comes up with and see how far “what if” can take you. Write a song or a book or a poem. Build a museum. Dream something and then do it.

Feed it…consume beauty. Fill your mind with things of great aesthetic value. Music, art, literature, sermons, songs, dance, heroism. Flood your mind with things already born of great imagination. Launch ye therefore from these!

Surrender it…abandon your safe places and default modes of thought. Explore new territory and test the boundaries of who you are now. Look beyond, to see a different potential for your life. Let go and fear not. (Psalm 27:1)

Engage it…your thoughts are meaningless until expressed. The old phrase, “it’s the thought that counts” was probably coined by a person who never bought birthday presents and failed to leave a mark on the world. Impact happens when what you imagine collides with how you live. That’s when you start seeing God’s glory revealed in your life for Him.

Defend it…the enemy wants to kill you and I think he always starts in your imagination. Envy, strife, corruption, lies, jealousy, hatred, indifference, greed and lust are all sins sown into the mind. Planted by Satan to subtly corrupt your imagination until who you are and how you live ultimately serves his interests…to shame the name of God. Stand firm…Eph. 6:13

Think creatively. Act courageously. See “what if” happen in your life.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Team Mulan

I am leading worship at Crossroads Camp in Boiling Springs, NC and I played in an Ultimate Frisbee tournament with the camp staff today. Rain soaked, I walked back from the fields of battle a defeated man. My team went 0-3 to end my day early. As a truly competitive sportsman, I hate to loose at anything, but I ain’t mad. I even wish good will and many more victories to the ones who beat us and I hope they make it all the way to the finals. Team Mulan, (every team was named for a Disney princess) my team, was full of some world-class people and I was so encouraged to hear them talk to teammates and opponents. The spirit of competition was great and bested only by the spirit of community. These were great people to be around, balcony people as Heather calls them. These are the people that lift your spirits and encourage endurance. I asked several of them who they were or what they were into and I found it so refreshing to hear them turn to matters of faith and the Kingdom within two or three minutes of talking. It was not forced, but as casual and logically arrived at as Seinfeld talking about sarcasm. It’s as much a part of their DNA as it is something they’re into. My faith in Christ’s mission and call on my life has been inspired by my 0-3 teammates. DNA makes me express things that are at the core of who I am…I have blondy brown hair because it’s an expression of my core…same goes for my light eyes and the nose I have. All are expressions that I rarely give thought to, but they manifest themselves to the world around me and express details of who I really am inside. When what you are on the inside matches what you are on the outside, the space around you gets filled with the sweetest peace. Even in deepest adversity and stress the substance of character is revealed in how closely a person looks like their true self. I was tossing pies with some “true selfs” today and I loved who they were.

Thanks team Mulan for letting me watch you as you naturally loved, encouraged and equipped today. Nice DNA

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

A sip at a time...

I had the fortune of parking beside this car when we went to a gas station/ McDonalds to celebrate Oak's 2nd birthday. The fact that I had my kids party in a gas station McDonalds is probably evidence to convict me of bad parenting, but hey, we had fun and there was a playground and we were an arms reach from beef jerky, fun dip and transmission fluid. Forget that. On to the car. I immediately noticed it when I got out of my own, pretty dirty, car, but this one was "next level" dirty. A fate not forced upon this car by a mub-puddle or paint spill, not even rust. As you see, the paint was in pretty good shape. No, this one was a Diet Coke at a time, sip by sip. It takes years to accumulate this much trash in your car. It takes subtle energy invested faithfully over the long haul. Way to go Mr. Neon are amazing. To all of us in pursuit of a full life, one little sip at a time.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Psalm 40:3 “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.”

I did a Christian songwriting seminar @ Inspire ’08 that went really well. I joined songwriter Don Kock (In Christ Alone, Mercy Came Running and Basics of Life and other massive, Dove award winning songs) to talk about ways to think as a song writer. I thought you might like to see the talking points from this seminar. It’s basically a few ways to think as you improve your songwriting. Enjoy and write big!

Think Biblically
• The Bible is our foundation for truth in the Christian faith. It is the measure of every belief we have. Make sure it is the measure of every word you choose to write in a song.
• There is no better standard for content in writing Christian songs. If you can’t back it up with the Bible, it is not worth saying. This is the highest ethic in Christian songwriting.
• Knowing the Bible and being able to synthesize what it says into song is the first place to start for every worship writer.
Think Melodically
• Melody is king of music.
• Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Happy Birthday, Jesus Loves Me… All the hits are based on amazing melody.
• Your song has to have a good melody or it will not really work. Great lyric is important, but great melody is what makes your song stick with people…it’s what makes songs last.

Think Critically
• Always be willing to criticize, edit and remodel your work.
• The best songs are not written, they are re-written. Toss your work out to your peers or competitors. Not your grandma who loves everything you do, but someone who is well acquainted with Proverbs 27:6…”faithful are the wounds of a friend”
• Don’t fall in love with your original idea…let it breathe and see where you might land on the second or third try!

Think Creatively
• Be original when you write. Pay respect to your influences without ripping them off. I have written enough mediocre Steven Curtis Chapman tributes to know.
• Originality will distinguish your songs from the rest.

Think Consistently
• Collect everything that could be used in a song. Sayings, articles, thoughts, melodies
• Always keep something with you to record your collection. Note pads, voice recorder, leave your self a voicemail…what ever it takes, but always be ready to trap the music.
• Listen to people pray. I have written more songs from listening to old people pray than any other source. Listen to old people pray…remember what they say.
• Raise your sense of awareness when it comes to gathering information. Listen with your ears on every time you can. Most people talk in “song hooks” and say things that make great songs without even knowing it…be ready for that.
• Don’t wait for Inspiration…train it to show up when you want it. Waiting for inspiration is like waiting for the perfect church…if it does emerge, it won’t last long, so you have to be the one to make it great. Train your inspiration/ muse by putting it to work on a daily basis. Write, Write, Write…do not wait. Write. Read “On Writing” by Stephen King
Think Collectively
• Invite others into your experience. Community is always stronger than solo. Your songs have double the power to get heard because, they are backed by a team and not a one-man band. Two heads are better than one.
• Co-write as much as you can to improve your end result.
Think Responsibly
• You are charged with putting words about God and the Christian experience into people’s mouths. Songs are uniquely capable of sticking with people, so make sure what you say holds water. Make sure what you put in people’s mouths is nutritious and delicious.
• Exhaust yourself to make your music and your lyrics represent the clearest truth. Do not settle for the easy way out.

Think Globally
• Write things that people everywhere would want to say. Global themes are common to everyone, so write something that connects on numerous levels. Personally and globally…
Think Poetically
• Use imagery and word pictures with your lyrics…”the leaves were so green” BAD “the leaves looked like emerald drops” BETTER
• Think about rhyme as much as you can. Never write something so that you force it to rhyme and the expense of making clear sense or being conversational.
• Avoid Yoda Speak to fit a rhyme in. “You always have been good, me you understood”. BAD This is not how people talk…write conversations. “I’m coming back to the heart of worship, it’s all about you, it’s all about you Jesus” BETTER
• Avoid passive voice: form of "to be" + past participle = passive voice. “Why was the road crossed by the chicken?” BAD Use the most direct and conversational word orders that you can…it promotes clarity and drives home you point better

Think Courageously
• Say something that breaks a bond when you write.
• Don’t waste words on something that has already been said or more importantly don’t waste your time adding to the pantheon of things that have been poorly said. Songs that have substance always have an element of risk to them and they always last.
• Don’t be afraid to call people to action, challenge thought, encourage passion, ignite courage
• Be proud of your songs. If God gave them to you, it’s either because he did not want them anymore (ha) or he wanted you to use it to bless someone else. Be gracious about it, but play your songs for people…music is for people and not for private personal consumption. If you have been given the gift to make it, never keep it to yourself and never be ashamed of it. Treat your songs like you treat your kids. Show them off every chance you get in public, but in private, do the disciplined, consistent work it takes to get them ready to leave the house and not embarrass you.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


I met a guy a few years ago named Smooth. Odd I know. I first met him through e-mail and on the phone when we talked about some web-site stuff. He is a web designer. I imagined a guy, hold up in his basement, pounding out code in between games of World of War Craft and Slurpee gulps. It turns out that the name is a family thing given in boyhood and not something hastily chosen as a screen name for AOL.
Fortunately, when i did meet him in person, he was a really nice guy. Once I got to know him a little more, it turns out Smooth prays for people...he fights for them and when I need it most, I usually get a perfectly timed voicemail from Smooth that tells me he has been praying for me. My most recent voicemail from my seldom seen friend went a little like this. "Hey Carl. It's Smooth. I am driving my wife's car today and she had your CD in the player. I heard it and started praying for you. See you soon." You cannot put a price on a man who has prayer instincts. Get one in your corner if you can. A brother, who you may not even see or talk to a lot, but has connected with you enough to know when to lift you up and follow that up with a call. I have about four guys in my life like that and everyone of them has helped me bear unnamed burdens and unnumbered hurts. Thanks Smooth. Thanks.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Catching (huff) Breath (huff) can't believe it all!!! (huff)

Finally back on the ground after Inspire 08, and just let me say, I have way more to share than one blog than can possibly digest, so I'll promise to break it down a few entries at a time. First of all, we ended up with 87 who came (and four who bailed out at the last minute) and 20 or so staff, presenters and special guests. This was a miracle in itself, since it was our first conference and we had never marketed something like this before. As He has always done in the past, God moved mightily on our behalf as we cried out to him. He has been savior over and over again through the whole process and he has been faithful and he has been the defender of the weak and he has qualified the unqualified and he has been justification and redemption and majestic and creative and a million things more. I am just amazed at how powerfully he worked in our midst.

We had great reviews and evaluations from everyone and the majority of the complaints were wishing the conference lasted longer. Good news is, that we'll be doing it again in a year. I am taking a day this week to get away and pray and seek God for clear direction on this new path he has opened up for me. I never expected things to go the way they have, but God revealed a new facet of my calling this past week. I have been a David (1 Samuel 17), (under-qualified, unexpected and under the radar) but used by God is specific and unique ways to lead his people. But now I see I must add a Samuel to that picture (1 Samuel 16)... ones who seeks out the under-qualified, unexpected and under the radar and calls out greatness in them, lay my hands on them and anoint them...pour my life out for them, getting them ready to be giant killers. Warriors in worship. This is what I personally took away from the conference, and I think God moved as powerfully in the life of every person there. It was amazing.

Be on the look out for an announcement about all the recorded content from Inspire 08. We'll get everything we can up on Youtube and our soon to be launched Inspire Worship Pod Cast.

If you prayed for this conference, thanks. If you came, thanks. If you think we've only just begun to see the power of the risen Christ at work, you're right.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

We're Here!!!

We're on the ground at Inspire '08 and it is going great. it has been my dream for over a year to see this baby delivered and it's finally here and almost out! Yesterday during set up, God won a major victory for us in the 11th hour...simply amazing battle that I had resigned as lost. Last nights service was incredible and overwhelming...I could not have asked for more and I was was pretty greedy with my prayers. Aubrey Spears was a perfect choice for the message and his passion was so engaging!! I love that guy. Tonight is Christy Nockels leading worship and Steven Furtick preaching. I am looking forward to a night off and a night to worship without a "to-do" list.
More tomorrow on tonights service...see you soon.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Oak Breaks Bad. Heather Stays Awesome.

My otherwise sweet and loving Oak has taken to his new brother like power takes to corruption. In the last four days, I have seen Oak abandon everything I have taught him about kindness and virtue, to fully embrace the life of a boy bent on abuse. He will stop at nothing in his bid to destroy his brother. So far he has…hit him with a flip flop (from across the room), them hit him in the forehead with a spoon, then went traditional with the fist a few times, followed up by a kick here and there. What happened to my son!? He is now one of the meanest kids I know. I still love the little guy more than I ever have, but if he leaves his mother in tears one more time; I might send him to camp a little early this summer. He has gotten the best of my patience on several occasions this week, but other powers are at work to make me stop and take note of how it’s really done.
Enter Heather: my wife, Oak and Ezra’s mom. She is in the midst of a truly difficult conflict. Having to give, literally, round the clock care to our three week old Ezra and lamenting the fact that our self-feeding, walking, talking, strong will asserting, two year old gets less concentrated attention from his beloved mommy than he once did.
I love watching her navigate these waters. Both avoiding the rocks of favoritism toward either boy and steering clear of the emotional explosions that lay just beneath the surface when tested by Oak’s surly behavior. My wife is remarkable. She nurses Ezra and plays with Oak all at the same time. She makes lunch, reads stories, plays trucks, makes “ha-cun” (also known as pop-corn) and changes diapers by the “load”. (Especially Ezra who has developed a unique “tell” as to when he will use the bathroom…it’s right after he has been freshly diapered. It rarely fails…I’d say 88% of the time.)
While she is doing all that, she looks good doing it. Always getting ready in the AM and looking her best, even if she is at the house all day. She has a standard and she keeps it, even if she is not celebrated or awarded for the effort. She could even expect to have her hair clumped with oatmeal for the effort, but she does it anyway…because she’s amazing. While I am at it, nothing is better than the sound of your wife praying for your sons and blessing them with a future and imparting a vision for their young lives.
So on this weekend of honoring the institution of motherhood, I will throw my hat in the ring and say that Heather Cartee is bearing the burdens of raising very young boys with patience, tenacity and great wisdom…all the while looking hotter than ever.
I love my wife and am honored to see her do her thing. It’s like watching one of the great masters at a really young age…before they were known by the world, they were know by only a few, but those few got a glimpse into greatness. The work she is putting into our boys will come to light, one day, through their own contributions to the Kingdom. They are going to be great, because my wife is great.

Great job “Heb”. Happy Mothers Day! I love you.

Be nice to your brother…he is growing faster than you and probably has an internal score that is kept now, to be settled later.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ezra Stone Cartee

Well here he is…Ezra Stone Cartee, Oak’s little brother and our second son. He looks like Mr. Magoo and weighs a respectable 8.8 lbs., not that baby weight makes much of a difference. It’s always very important to tell it, but I do not know what people do with that information after they get it…other facts include a 21” length, an 11:50 AM birth and little to no hair. Heather was a she-warrior…two pushes and out! She’s so incredible and already loving on Ezra like a super mom. They are both healthy and doing fine.

The name Ezra means “help”. In 1 Samuel 7, after the Lord gave Israel a great victory over the Philistines, Samuel took a big stone and set it up in the place where God saved the day. He called his Ebenezer, which means “stone of my help” and it was a reminder to God’s people that he had been and will be faithful.

The blessing we prayed over the life of Ezra Stone Cartee is that he will be used to remind God’s people of his faithfulness and to point their lives to the glory of our great King Jesus. We’re so proud and thanks so much for your prayers.

Carl, Heather, Oak and Ezra

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Inspire '08 Early Bird Registration Ends Monday!!!

I know you might be busy, but if you want to save on your Inspire '08 (America's Most Amazing Worship Conference) registration is my duty to remind you that early-bird registration ends Monday March 31 @ mid-night. There will be no further extensions of this offer, so if you want to come at this price, sign up before midnight on Monday. The conference is filling up fast and this week has been especially wild, so if you want to come, get in now before you mess around and ruin your destiny!! The conference is going to be amazing!! Absolutely amazing!! Love you...CC

Monday, March 17, 2008

Award Winning Photo

I got this picture from a friend who had promised to pray for me everyday. After sharing a burden with him that I was bearing, he did not hesitate when he said, "I will be bearing this burden with you, everyday. You can count on it." I could almost feel it lift in that same second. When i got this picture a few days later, letting me know he had made himself a reminder to stick with his commitment, I never felt stronger or more capable of making it through to victory. This is what community is all about. This is the only way to fight and the only way to win.

Hebrews 10:24 & 25
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."

Guatemala '08

I just got back from Guatemala. I was simply amazed by the conference I was leading worship for and overwhelmed by the kindness of everyone involved ( This thing was first class all the way. I hope our Inspire Worship Conference is half as good. I am praying right now that they’ll ask me back again.
One of the highlights of our trip was climbing Mt. Pacaya, one of Guatemala’s active volcanoes. After our brisk hike was at the halfway point, our local friend told us about a scientist who studies the volcano everyday. Just the day before the scientist had told him that it’s about to erupt soon. This was said casually, in the same way you would say that a song was pretty, or that it might rain. The casual tone aside, I started thinking. Hiking that volcano was the equivalent of walking around on the top of a nuclear warhead. A warhead that was armed, deadly and controlled not by the whims of war and leaders, but simply by the laws of nature. In order to maintain the balance of geology, this thing was going to blow up and could go off like 100 atomic bombs. With great and deadly power gathering strength just beneath my feet, I was hiking around like so many other tourists. I gathered perspective from several different spiritual observations…1) the thing that is the deadliest and most destructive in my life usually lies quietly beneath the surface of what I think to be safe. 2) The Creator is fierce. All that power and energy was terrifying…there was not one person on that mountain that did not instantly respect and immediately yield to the power. How much more amazing is it that the Creator became the Savior. Wow. 3) You have not had a toasted marshmallow until you toast it over some lava. Enjoy the pics.

Monday, February 18, 2008

"Here I Go" (The Full Record) in Family Christian Stores Nationwide!!

Family Christian Stores all over the country are about to put the full length version of "Here I Go" out on the shelves Feb. 26th.
It's really cool to see major retail chains working directly with artists. This thing has been in the works for a while, but a few months back, the major retailer asked me to put 4 new songs with the already recorded EP so they could release the full length record exclusively in all their stores!!! I am so excited about this opportunity, so head here to find the closest Family Christian Store to your house.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Super Bowl 42!!

The boy will be called Plaxico.