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!