Following the Leader

 

Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure.

Proverbs 4:25-26

Atlanta Arts Network has been an interesting experiment for me.  As a coordinator, I have learned the importance of focusing on and walking toward what God has called me to do.

As I have taken these steps, little did I know how the ebb and flow of relationships would change the way the Atlanta Arts Network grew and adapted to the people and opportunities that God would bring.

At this point in my life, I find myself reflecting on the advice of a mentor or mine.  He once told me that at some point I would have to choose between pursing a pastoral discipleship ministry and that of a worship leader.

Honestly, at the time, I dismissed the statement as interesting perspective but not certainly what I saw God doing at the time.  It wasn’t until I continue down the path forward, that I began to see how God himself was slowly taking some opportunities away from me and opening new doors.

At each turn on the path, I continued to resist the changes and yet kept reminding myself of the promises.  These steps follow a different kind of leader.  For as the years have gone by the opportunities to coach worship leaders has continued and more discipleship relationships are being built.  Yet the official roles of artist and worship leader have not presented themselves.

As my time and efforts toward building disciples has continue to grow, the worship artist role has become one of encouragement and support.  Where I once desired a voice and wanted to change the culture of creatives in my church, there are new artists taking the lead.  My pride was a bit hurt.  I saw people who I loved and enjoyed working with move on.  Yet I have been called to look forward.

Yes, I am at the point where, I am “pondering” my steps.  But what I do know is that while I am focused on the “Author and Perfector of my Faith” my footsteps will be firm.

Who knows what God is doing with the Atlanta Arts Network? There are some really cool things going on in the city.  While my roles have changed, my passion to see worship leaders encouraged and Christ following Artists find community still remains.

My encouragement to you… Keep your eyes on Him.

Hebrews 12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Being Available: a life coaching journey

2015 has been a challenging year. Part of Atlanta Arts Network is a fundamental commitment to be involved in the lives of others.  I get the privilege to be engaged in “Life Coaching” worship leaders.  I meet with a variety of men, some more frequently than others. This part of ministry to leaders is significant as it provides a way for me to see God speak into the lives and situations and see practical results.

The challenging part in discipling another person, it is often that you get the most out of the process. Life Coaching isn’t just a one sided event. It is often that I learn and grow along with the person I am coaching.  Many times God reveals something or some area I need to grow in just by showing up.  For example, when I listen to a leader share a story about their church, I am many times in the midst of a inner struggle to connect with them. Honestly the struggle is there because I am mostly a self focused, prideful, and distracted person.

Let me create a scene for you. Imagine a table at a local BBQ restaurant, where a worship leader is sharing the latest in a drawn out story of church disfunction and pain. I’m sitting there listening to them share how painful it has been this past week. Buzzzzz. My iPhone vibrates and my mind wonders if there is a problem at home? Are my children ok? Is my wife in a tough work situation? Do my I need to help my parents with a computer problem? I wonder who it is?
Buzzzzz.

I refocus my mind and think…. I wonder what they just said. I figure out a way to get them to explain more. “Tell me more about how that made you feel.” ….. Whew, dodged that embarrassing moment.  My friend continues to share more about the situation and I listen on. After about an hour, we both realize it is time to head back to work. I’m wondering how long its gonna take me to get back to my home office through Atlanta Traffic.

This is exactly what many conversations are like, for me as a Life Coach. I battle to stay present and help. I don’t know if you find yourself in situations where after meeting with a friend you ask yourself, I wonder if I did any good at all? I wonder all the time. Exactly what are they getting from our time?

As I think about the last year,  the different appointments I’ve had, the situations that I have learned about, and the relationships that have been built, I am realizing there is something to showing up. Just being available.

I would like to think that every appointment is a homer, that every problem is solved, that I am able to get my Life Coaching Notebook out and design a clear plan of action for each person. I would love to see the clear progress and change: Needs getting met, Goals set and Plans put in motion.

But the truth is…. I’m just happy that God has been faithful to use me as a Life Coach. I am grateful that by just being available, I have seen friends encouraged, tough situations get better, and God is using our time together to make us both like Christ.

Getting results from a Life Coaching appointment isn’t as important as us leaving seeing God at work. I desire that we leave a little more hopeful and committed to pray faithfully for each other. I hope that just by being faithful to connect we continue to move forward on the journey.

We both grow, imperfectly yes, but toward a better understanding of God’s will and purpose for our lives.

May the next year be a time of continued growth toward Christlikeness in you and in all those you care for.  Yes God is excited that you have just been available!

Buddy

“Isn’t There Anyone Who Knows What Christmas is All About?”

It was 1965 and Charles Schultz continued to create the timeless comic strip Peanuts. The producers at CBS took a chance on creating an animated Christmas special.  As the story boards were being created and the concept was being set in motion, there were conversations happening between the creator and the people from CBS. What kind of music?  We find out that Charles Schultz wasn’t sure about the jazz music.  Which has not only continued to be part of the program but it has become part of many people’s Christmas music library.

Not only was their discussion over the music, there were some who were not sure about the ending.  Do we really think that people will want the Christmas story quoted from the Bible?  Well as it ends up Schultz gave in on the Jazz music and CBS gave in on the passage from the gospel of Luke.

The story line is classic. Charlie Brown, conflicted again, bring his concerns to Lucy who has a Psychiatric “lemonade” stand. He continues to ask Linus and even after taking on the role of director of  the Christmas program filled with dancing children, Snoopy making animal noises and Lucy wanting to be the Christmas queen, he cries out, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”

It seems that the same challenges face us today. “Isn’t There Anyone Who Knows What Christmas is All About?”

What do you find yourself thinking during this Christmas season? Where are you spending most of your time?  Are you just as discouraged as Charlie Brown? Have you found yourself looking at websites for Christmas cruises or short weekends away in the mountains?  Maybe instead you have found yourself bearing all the expectations of your family, parents or church?

It is so hard to dim the lights, drop our blue security blanket on the floor and begin to tell our hearts, “what Christmas is all about.”

Luke 2 The Message (MSG)

About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.

While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.

There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”

At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:

Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!

That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.  Take this to heart!  Stop.  Listen.  Consider.

Have you been in that auditorium? Have you been at the end of yourself?  The end of the program points to where you might need to begin.

The children who have made fun of Charlie Brown’s little tree, find that all it needed was a little love!  The tree that was once made fun of becomes the object of their attention.

Jesus is that little tree!  He was the object of scorn. He took on human flesh, became a man so that he could take our place on a Cross. Joseph was told, “Call Him Jesus for He will save His people from their sins.”

The children, circle around the tree and begin to sing at the end of the program.

CharlieBrownChristmas

Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

This is what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.

[hr]

Just in case you missed it here is a clip of the last portion of the program