Mondays & Fridays

imagesI know there’s nothing really special about Fridays. For me a Friday is almost the same as a Monday! No, really it is. The only difference is I have Mondays off and Fridays I work. Both days feel generally the same. On Fridays I finish the media for Sunday services at our church and then I often go to my favourite coffee shop, JustUs, where I’ll spend an hour or so (the “or so” could stretch into two or three hours) sipping a medium roast brew from my NYC Starbucks travel mug and do a little four finger typing on my Mac. You may also find me at that same coffee shop on Mondays enjoying the company of strangers while reading the Psalms, and of course, drinking from the same travel mug.

Mondays are special because I can spend the day doing whatever I wish. I might watch a movie, do laundry, sit and veg out with Twitter & Facebook while watching reruns of M.A.S.H., or I might just hop in the car and head to a local coffee shop. It really doesn’t matter to me if the day is not overly productive – that’s why they call it a day off and I need to unwind from our usual busy weekends!

Fridays are special, too. Not only because it signals the end of a crazy work week, but there’s just something relaxing about Fridays. I can’t pinpoint what makes a Friday so good, but I think it has something to do with the fact that Saturday is fast approaching and that means time with my family – my job as a pastor is put on hold (if that’s even possible) for a few hours. You could say my life is a bit predictable and perhaps boring, but I like predictability – like I know Mondays and Fridays will be good days filled with coffee, reflection, and  a sense of wholeness . And as for boring, life is never boring because it is always filled with Mondays and Fridays!

But then again, I like Wednesdays too!

Worship Confessional 14.3

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20140216-143450.jpgWhat a crazy weather day at NMBC! But a blizzard couldn’t keep the faithful few away (not that everyone else is not faithful). We may have been few in numbers but we had a great time of worship and learning all about community! Pastor Mark really challenged us to not forsake community because we need each other (Acts 2:42-47).
The band rocked like the house was packed and the people sang like it too!

Here’s our setlist:
Holy is The Lord – Chris Tomlin
Open Up the Heavens – Vertical Church Band
Found in You – Vertical Church Band
Hold Us Together – Matt Maher
For the Beauty of the Earth – Traditional

The band:

Lead guitar – Mark; Bass – Peter; Drums – Chris; Acoustic – Brian; BG vocals – Anna, Celeste; Lead vocal, guitars – Paul (moi)

Tech crew:

Audio – Paul, Todd; Media/recording – Lourens, Pete; Lighting – Martin; Video – Caleb

Churches around the world have gathered this day and many of them post their #sundaysetlists at TheWorshipCommunity! Why not check them out?

Worship Confessional 14.2

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Although the weather was lousy we had a great day of worship and teaching today at NMBC! I received an early wake-up call from Pastor Rob to say that he was under the weather and that Pastor Sterling would be preaching. As only God could orchestrate, the songs fit perfectly with Sterling’s message on forgiveness!
For the first time, but not the last, we had a cello in the mix; definitely a great addition to the band.

Here’s the setlist:
Hosanna (Praise is Rising)
- Paul Baloche
Joyful Joyful (The One Who Saves)
- Brenton Brown
Rescuer
- Johnny Parks
Lord I Need You
- Matt Maher
Where Would We Be
- Matt Redman

I just have to give a shout out to our team:
NMBC band:
Keys – Erik
Drums – Nate
Bass – Lyle
Lead Guitar – Peter
Cello – Melanie
Vocals – Sara & RaeAnne
Acoustic, Electric, Banjo, Lead vocal – Paul (moi)

Tech crew:
Audio – Richard
Media – Steven
Lighting & Video – Martin

This post is part of the wider collective of what took place in churches around the globe this weekend! Check out all the Sunday Setlists at TheWorshipCommunity.com

Worship Confessional 14.1

Sunday Setlist logoIn 2014 I want to reflect on our weekly worship gatherings by sharing some highlights from the past Sunday and also share our NMBC setlist. Here we go!

We’re back into a series that we started in November called “Dangerous Doctrine” where we’re studying the book of Romans.

This past Sunday we looked at the Apostle Paul’s warning at the end of chapter 1 concerning sin and our response not to live as pagans. Pastor Rob challenged us to acknowledge the One True God, Christ as the One Saviour and the power of the One True Spirit.

Our setlist looked like this:

Glory To God Forever – Steve Fee

Cornerstone – Hillsong Live

Holy, Holy, Holy – Hillsong Live

Holy – Matt Redman

One Name Alone – Matt Redman

This post is part of Sunday Setlists at The Worship Community!

Risk or Regret

1066752_10267838The road straight ahead of me appears to be the safest, and it is familiar so why not just go with the flow? After all I am not alone, this seems to be the road most travelled. There are just too many unknowns waiting at every exit and I’m fearful of getting lost or at least sidetracked.

If this scenario seems familiar, it’s because the metaphorical road well travelled is precisely where most of us end up on our journey to the end of life. We get a job that pays well; although it might not be the dream job, it is relatively secure. We marry and have children, but only two or three because having more kids might be too much of a financial strain. And so the story goes…on and on and on!

But is the restraint worth it? Is the risk so great that we would miss the scenic route with all its beauty and splendour and instead take the safe, if not boring path? Will we arrive at the end of our days and say, “I’m so glad I didn’t take any risks in my life and played it safe?” Or will we have regrets because we never veered off the familiar road?

As we enter 2014 may we at least consider taking a few daring leaps into the unknown? I’m not talking about foolish escapades that would lead us to destruction, rather, simply allowing God to lead us where He can best use us for His purposes. I guess it’s really a matter of trust—our God actually knows the path we should take or He doesn’t! The Apostle Paul encourages us to trust God in this way: “And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” (2 Corinthians 9:8 NLT)

As the collective body of Jesus followers, are we also willing to take a few risks with the full confidence that God, who delivered us from our sins, will honour our efforts? 2 Timothy 4:7 reminds us that at the end of his life Paul was able to say,

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” 

Notice that Paul didn’t say, “I kept a safe distance from the battle, I never entered the race because I was afraid of losing, but I have been faithful to my church.” Our faithfulness to God has little to do with playing it safe. It has everything to do with risking our all for Him who gave His life for us. When the growth of God’s kingdom is the goal, there is too much at stake to not take a risk!

I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in leaving this life with the regret of not taking risks for Jesus! Of course I have personal regrets about decisions I’ve made and words I’ve spoken, but I would hope that refusing to take a few risks for Christ will not be one of them! So the next time you’re faced with the option to take the scenic and less travelled route, take it…the risk will be worth it! I don’t know what lies ahead of me, although sometimes I wish I did, but I hope and pray 2014 will be a year of risk taking—no regrets allowed! Will you join me?

Lessons From the South

Here are 3 lessons that I’ve learned from our recent visit to the South that can translate to the church, and by the South I’m talking about North & South Carolina.
1. People are very friendly and polite:
It has been a pleasant surprise to walk into almost any establishment and hear “yes sir or yes mam”! Or my favourite “how ya’ll doin’ today?” It makes visiting this part of the world a treat!

The church needs to learn how to be over-the-top friendly with each other and especially with our first-time guests. You might remember the book “No Perfect People Allowed”? Well I’d like to say when it comes to ya’ll in the church, it should say “No Grumpy People Allowed”.

2. People attempt to please:
Our stay at an old historic Inn was very nice, partly because I love old buildings, but mostly because our hosts were great at serving us. We arrived in the middle of the day and they had left an envelop hanging next to the door with our name and room number printed on the outside and our room key inside. We made ourselves at home! Breakfast the next morning was served with a handshake greeting by the owner and a smile on the servers face.

Simply put, the church needs to serve our guests well! From the parking lot to the restrooms, we need to provide the best experience possible to our guests on any given Sunday (and throughout the week too).

3. People are diverse:
The South is a very diverse culture made up of people of all races and ethnicity. The South does have a rather sorted past when it comes to racial indifference but I absolutely love the multicultural mix.

Now I know this is not news to some, but I don’t believe that Christians are the most accepting people in the world. Yet Jesus tells us to love one another, and certainly not based on our differences. We live in a diverse world and we need to welcome everyone into the church; I think that’s what the “one another” that Jesus was talking about.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences!

Not An Ordinary Day

20130209-112833.jpg(Inspired by @melissagreene #recreate13)

There is incredible beauty at 30,000 feet. But If I’m being honest, I often sit in a plane and only see and feel the tangible work of men and women, although likely brilliant engineers in their field of study, that used their considerable talents to build this wonder in modern aviation.

But when you climb above the clouds that normally block out the full view of the heavens, a whole new reality is revealed; a complex beauty of cloud formations that appear like a cotton blanket that has yet to be pulled taut over a recently slept-in bed; an amazing display of pale blue, seamlessly fading into a sea of white. And all of a sudden I’m aware of God’s handiwork; this seemingly random beauty is anything but random. A beautiful work of art, unlike anything humanly imaginable, being painted by a skilled artist. A painting that is ever changing from one glorious scene to another.

This is not an ordinary day to be ignored or trivialized by my comfort or discomfort (depending on the legroom afforded me on a given flight). No this is an extraordinary day, a magical day that, remarkably, happens every day, given for our pleasure by an immutable Creator who gets to show off His creativity just to reveal His glory, that He has been doing from the beginning of time.

This is no ordinary day…this is beauty…this is truth…this is goodness…and I am profoundly humbled and thankful!