Friday, August 31, 2007

Okay, I skipped our Midweek Service...

Yeah, our family decided to take a little break from church.

Instead we went and saw the Notre Dame Marching Band do it's final rehearsal before the big opening game this Saturday. Our friends, the Collins family have done this for a while and we went along. The kids were so excited, they got dressed up in Notre Dame gear. It was fun to hear the announcements ahead of time (they record them to keep timing consistent).

The band sounded great. Highlight: a cool arrangement of "Swingtown" by The Steve Miller Band (included a band dance break in the middle where everyone puts down their instruments.) A fun, FREE time with our family.

Listen to the fight song!!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Fabulous Fernwood

This past weekend, my friend Gene and I took our kids (his grandkid) to Fernwood Botanical Garden & Nature Preserve just over the border in Niles, MI. I hadn't done the nature walk thing with my kids EVER, sad to say. I think it was a big hit with the kids. Mom, got a break at home, and when they came back, it was like "O Mom, you've gotta see the waterfalls!" and "The mushrooms were cool!"

I captured this short video of the waterwheel which would be best if looped over and over. I think I could fall asleep just listening! I love the sound of running water. Anyone else?

A few other shots that were really fun.

Highly recommend this place to take your kids. No major bells or whistles, just a great day of being in God's creation!

My First Wedding

Okay, I'm already married. And I have done music at about 50 weddings in my life (along with my wife, Lisa). But this weekend was a first for me. I officiated my first wedding this weekend - Mr. and Mrs. Nate and Annie Sagarsee. You may know Kyle (Nate's older brother) and Jeanette Sagarsee.

It was a little nerve wracking being on the other side of the couple. Normally, I'm off in a corner playing piano or singing (stuff in my comfort zone). Now, I had to step out there and talk. I think it turned out well. And yes, I mailed in the license.

My advice to the couple was to begin with the end in mind (a la Stephen Covey). I had Nate and Annie set some goals for 20 years out. I'm hoping that they stick to these and work hard at keeping their marriage alive and well.

Best wishes to the couple!!!

Did Anyone Know that Rob Wegner is an Acclaimed Author?

A little known fact that our own Rob Wegner, is an acclaimed expert on famous Deerslayers of the past.

Check it out here.

Okay, maybe it COULD be a different Rob. But I think our Rob has the skills...

Weekend Recap

Our second week in "The Office" series.

Speaker: Rob Wegner

Topic: Whatever it Takes - Integrity in the Workplace
Attendance: 5,669

Encouraging to see growth from last week's attendance. Hoping to build momentum through this series.

We've had quite a few hits on the site. Some moving stories as well.

The Arts:

Prelude: Typical by Mutemath - one of my new all time favorite guitar riffs at the beginning of this song. Incredible that they were here at GCC about a year and a half ago. Amazing band.

Let God Arise by Chris Tomlin
Salvation is Here by Hillsong United
Both pretty straight from the record arrangements. However, we shorten the Salvation is Here by cutting some of the bridge out. A great energy set of two songs that Trace chose.

How to Be Lazy at the Office and Still Get Paid
This media was meant to show how we can not steward our time well at work. I love the creative treatment that Albert Martin (our young media man) did on the visual effects throughout. One thing I think we learned from this media was to make sure to do voiceovers prior and then shoot to that, rather than the other way around. Makes comic timing quite a bit easier.

Rob reminded us of having integrity under pressure using the Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego form Daniel. A great re-telling of the story that brought it back to life for me. A few quotables:
- "Who do I trust more, and earthly king or my heavenly King?"
- "The question is what kind of world do you want to live in?"
Prayer - "God give us the wisdom to know what's right and give us the courage to do what's right no matter how hard it is."
Take away for me - My integrity is my witness.

Song Special

Be the One by Jeremy Camp
We keyed up this song from E to A for Angie Henry to sing. A good message to end the service with.

Nice job everyone! Looking forward to this coming weekend.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Gift of Presence

Alright, I just got past my birthday and I did get a few sweet "presents", like some new kicks - Bullboxers. I likey.

And a new drum plug in for audio recording. EZ Drummer from Toontrack. Wicked awesome, realistic drum sounds for cheap!!!

I really likey!

But for all of that, I've learned something new this past few weeks.

The Gift of Presence.

Have you ever been in a situation where you were talking with someone, and you knew that they were there physically, but not tracking with you mentally? We've all been on both sides of this. I, too often, have been the one not, literally, PRESENT. I think that this is one of the greatest gifts that you can give someone. In a world of quick sound bytes, newsflashes, and IMs, it's really refreshing to have someone's undivided attention.

My challenge is to give this gift as often as I can. I think that's how Jesus was. When he was with someone, he was WITH SOMEONE. We catch glimpses of this every so often with people around us, and it is magical. Especially as a husband and dad, I want to give this gift to my family. So, I'll stop blogging now, and go give them my presence. Peace.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

80's Rockin the Volunteers

Check out this awesome volunteer appreciation media from River Valley Church in Minnesota. It ROCKS FOREVER!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Midweek Service

Thursday night was a special night. Lisa and I had the chance to lead worship for the first time since we've been at GCC. It was a great night with my brother, Jason Miller speaking. We launched our new "Bigger Than" series.

Set list:

O For a Thousand Tongues - the version we do has an added refrain (by Matt Adams) with the text "all glory to You, forever, and ever, and ever."
Speak to Me by Dave Luebben - Just an amazing moment to hear my wife sing the words "if there's anything in my life that doesn't honor You tonight, I'm listening Lord, speak to me." Holy moment for me.

Then Jason used a story of former Notre Dame soccer star Greg Dalby to launch us into a message on Psalm 71. You could feel the pain that Greg is going through and really sense a friend, Jason, who empathizes with him.

When the Tears Fall - a new one for us, by Tim Hughes. "When the tears fall, still I will sing to You." Amazing text. My hope was that it provided a time of healing for people to know that they are not alone in their pain. God and our community included.

We then did a medley of Blessed Be the Name/You Never Let Go, both by Matt Redman. I thought that this would work well since they are both in the same key of B and they're content is similar. What I didn't anticpate is that I did the faster one first. Not the best transition. In retrospect I would have switched them. Not too bad but could have been better.

Spoken transition here (I'm really working on getting better at these). The idea that God is not finished with us. He may be, as Jason said, "doing something in us so that he can do something through us."

You are the Light by Steve Fee - a song we introduced last week seemed to work really well again. I'm thankful that Steve finally got signed by INO records. Should expect some great things there.

We finished the night upbeat with Lincoln Brewster's Let the Praises Ring. It was only me on acoustic, but it gave the people a chance to clap and celebrate considering most of the night was on the reflective side.

All in all, it felt like a good night. I'm so thankful that we've been here now 4 years!!! I love this church!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A friend of mine, Heredes Ribiero, is a worship leader at Flamingo Road Church down in the land of Miami, FL where pastors go when they are ready to retire. Okay, he's in his twenties, so maybe he's just a bit wimpy when it comes to cold weather. Either way, he's my brother in Christ. They're launching a new series down at Flamingo called where they'll be following around their lead pastor Troy Gramling 24 hours a day for a month. Reality TV baby! on the net. Live streams. Troy is going to join us this year for Innovate 07 which is exciting. The series launches on 9/9 at 9am, which means that while Troy is at Granger, he'll be webcasting. Very cool. Looking forward to seeing how God uses that series. Also looking forward to hanging with Heredes, Allen DiStefano, and crew.


Here's an amazing quote from Philip Yancey from "What's So Amazing About Grace":

"Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more - no amount of spiritual calisthenics and renunciations, no amount of knowledge gained from seminaries and divinity schools, no amount of crusading on behalf of righteous causes. And grace means there iss nothing we can do to make God love us less - no amount of racism or pride or pornography or adultery or even murder. Grace means that God already loves us as much as an infinite God can possibly love."

Letting that line sink in - "there is nothing we can do to make God love us more."

Nothing I can do to make God love me more.

Nothing I can do.


I feel a time of meditation coming on. :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Drip, Drip, Drop

Our good friends from Grand Rapids, the Oldenbergs visited us today, with a new package in tow - their sixth child, Phoebe. Yeah, you read that right, SIXTH! Amazing! We had a great time. The kids had a chance to play "drip, drip, drop" which is basically duck, duck, goose but with water. Thanks Camp Lakewood for that idea - Jen Winkelman, it's all your fault!!! Yeah, the kids got wet.

On another note, Sophie lost her 2nd tooth just after they left. It was just kinda hanging there (gross, I know). Glad it's out! Hopefully, the tooth fairy will make another stop. Check out the note to the fairy. Ah, got to love the deals made even at a young age!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Mr. 37

Yep, today is the day. 37 years old. A card from my daughter, Anna, gave me my new title of "Mr. 37." I'm liking it.

I'm officially getting middle-aged. Kinda like a fine wine, hopefully getting better with age. I feel a heck of a lot younger than I used to. Maybe since I was a high school teacher in my twenties, I was trying to seem older to earn the respect of students. Now that I'm running with a younger bunch, I'm wanting to live as young as possible.

Here's another card from Sophie - check out the "Rolling Stones" T-shirt she drew on me.

Very cool! I love my family!!!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Weekend Recap

We launched our "Office" series this weekend. We had been using several billboards around town (see Tim Stevens post on this here) to stir up a bit of buzz about this series.

Our arts teams did a great job of pulling everything together.

Prelude - We started with a fun prelude using "The Office" theme music (which was only 30 seconds) but Trace and the team teased it out a bit longer. The first thing which was really cool was that the entire team dressed in black and white office attire which is quite different than our usual casual feel. A fun change.

Worship Songs -
You are Good (Lincoln Brewster version)
All to You (Lincoln Brewster as well)
Yeah, we're fans of the man from CA. Our new guitarist Mark Pitcher, though not tall in stature, served up some big licks to really be a fine addition to the team. Welcome Mark! I really love the way Trace Rorie (my worship leading co-hort) fills in the sound with the Taylor T5 guitar. It hits the multi-function of an electric/acoustic, though I think he mostly used the electric sound.

Special - Takin' Care of Business by Bachman Turner Overdrive
Since it was the title of the week, we couldn't resist. J Aquila really sold the song well. Along with our BGVs,, Laura Waltz, and Kathy Sellers who added a little bit of dance moves - the whole song was a high energy start to the series.

Media - The Office Parody
Here our team wrote an original script which helped get us in the office frame of mind. One of our guitarists, Dave Taylor, made his acting debut as the Dwight character. My boss, Butch Whitmire, does a great job of bringing the goods in the part of Michael. A well produced media with the challenge of competing with the show itself (which we showed a clip from later). I think the team did a great job.

Message - Rob Wegner
A solid message about "doing whatever we do as unto the Lord". Giving God our best. No matter what we actually are doing.

Media - Doors Recap
This was a brilliant media produced by one of our volunteers, Russ Nelson, who used the David Crowder Band song "Oh the Glory of it All". Just seeing the faces on the people who crossed the line of faith. Very powerful and motivating to stay strong doing what God has called us to do - reach the lost!

A great launch to the weekend. Nice work everyone.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Nod

I had a cool experience in Sam's Club the other day (yeah, we love their pizza - and the fountain Diet Coke has the best carbonation mix around). I had seen a woman from GCC named Jennifer there before. At that time she mentioned how much she like the church, etc. Now, Jennifer is what I would consider very outgoing on the shyness scale, so I figured, she's connected. All is well.

So, this past Sunday, I was up on stage playing the prelude (where we don't sing) and just strumming along. I saw Jennifer and one of her kids walk in. And seeing her, I just kinda nodded toward her to say "hey". No big deal.

Fast forward to after church, and another trip to Sam's Club for a cool, refreshing fountain Diet Coke as a reward for a hard weekend's work. I see Jennifer in line with her kids. She calls me over, and after complimenting my wife's new haircut, she tells me how much she appreciated "the nod" that I had given her a that morning from the stage.

Now, my usual "store conversations" with people from GCC center around, the quality of the music, or the drama that was great, etc. But Jennifer notices "the nod". She went on to say how much it meant that she was recognized and felt "part" of GCC because of that simple gesture. She hasn't connected yet and would really like to. I gave her a few on-ramp options and hope she'll find a place.

Great reminder for me of two things:
1. People want to belong. As high of quality of production that any church can bring can only last for so long. People want to know and be known.
2. People are watching and how you live matters. As great as my intentions were for delivering a well performed set of songs, Jennifer remembered "the nod". Our ministry goes well beyond what we think in encompasses. Kind of sobering, but also a challenge to live in the moment. More on that soon.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Wisdom from a Friend

My friend, Heather Novak has recently lost a friend named Dave. She sent out this bit of inspiration after he had passed:

Honor Dave and people you have lost in your life by enjoying every minute you have that much grateful, even celebratory about what you have, who you are, and where you are in your lives RIGHT NOW.

And humbly accept the love that comes into your life...let people love you, and don't be afraid to love people back. We can be so afraid of getting hurt we never really unleash ourselves to connect...I am learning this about myself...I cannot be the only one. LIVE. LOVE. Live your love out loud.

There's some good wisdom to be found in that. Something deep about connection. Moving past the fear. Realizing that we all need to jump into that abyss of uncertainly. Letting others know how you feel. Good stuff Heather.

Back to School Fun

Very fun. New teachers. New friends. Very exciting!

AND, Mom's working in the building as well! God is good.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Weekend Arts

We had a blast this weekend!

For prelude, Dustin brought the goods on Daughtry's "Home".

Our two worship songs were:
Mighty to Save (Hillsong) - we keep the energy up throughout on this for our weekend crowd. A bit slower song than we normally do, but it's lyrics trump the tempo. I made a drum track which seems to provide a good groove.
Everlasting God (as perf. by Lincoln Brewster) - pretty straight forward on this one. After having experienced this year's Leadership Summit, the line "You're the defender of the weak" had enhanced meaning.

We did a drama called "The Memory of Water" written by our own Kristin Baker and performed by Lisa Deselm
which made a really touching moment happen.

Finally, Tim Prugh and I got to sing "Baptism" by Kenny Chesney and Randy Travis. Beautiful song with my favorite phrase "down with the old man, up with the new."

Several medias were played promoting baptism at Coveleski Stadium in Sept., but my favorite was "My Cubicle" from Eaglebrook Church in Minnesota. You'll have to click on the link on their site to view. Worth the extra click. Nice work.

Everyone did a great job! Keep it up teams!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Over 600!!!

What an awesome weekend! Over 600 people gave their lives to Christ during the 5 services at GCC. Amazing!

Highlights for me:

1. A 90 year guy, named Homer, missed the message to go up with everyone else and ended up walking through during the last song!
2. Seeing a couple, who are no longer together, both go through the doorway.
3. Watching another couple, breakdown in tears over their decision. I had a chance to meet up with them at Walmart after and they couldn't say enough how much our church has helped their family.

Can't wait to see the highlight video coming soon.

Check out the 10:30am service here until 8/12. Click on the last weekend's service icon.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

231 So Far

As of Saturday night, we have given away 231 Bibles to new believers in Christ! Very exciting. God's Spirit is moving! Updates as we get them.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

This is the Weekend

This weekend we will be asking people to cross the line of faith by walking through a doorway we have set up onstage. Pastor Mark Beeson, has evangelism flowing through his blood. It's at the heart of GCC. He talks about a farming approach to evangelism where we plant seed, water, fertilize, and patiently wait for people to be ready and then we harvest. Rather than asking people to make a decision for Christ every week, we do it only 1-2 times per year. Part of his rationale in this is that most thinking people don't make lifechanging decisions in 20 minutes. I agree.

Lisa (my wife) and I are so grateful to have the chance to serve together on this very special weekend in the life of our church. I remember back to a year or so ago when my daughter Anna, signed the Da Vinci "Last Supper" as a marker for her accepting Christ.

Having something like a doorway to walk through, a bridge to cross, a painting to sign - all these are like the altars that people in the Old Testament made when they met with God. Like the "ebenezer" or memorial stone that Samuel erected after a great victory over the Philistines. So people could, in fact, raise their doorway, or stone, or bridge moment when they sing "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing". Yeah, Ebenezer is a little dated in the common language department.

Seeing How People Date


If you're a married person, could you take a second and respond to the poll in the right column? Just getting some info on how often married people actually keep up in the dating department. 3 days left to submit your vote. Thanks.

When You Do What You're Made to Do

Dr. Bob Laurent, shared this video with us at New Community this past week. Paul Potts, a reserved guy, brings tears through his passion for singing opera. I think we can all relate. When we see people doing what they're made to do, we are moved. The world is a little better. A challenge to us all. Watch.