Worship set at Weddington Community Church 6-29-08
1. Point of Difference (Hillsong United)
2. All Because of Jesus (Steve Fee)
3. All Hail the Pow'r/Raise Up the Crown (Chris Tomlin)
4. Center (Charlie Hall, Matt Redman)
5. The Wonder of This Sight (Via)
6. Grace Will Be My Song (Fee)
Monday, June 30, 2008
Worship set at Weddington Community Church 6-29-08
Friday, June 27, 2008
I just returned from a week in the Raleigh/Durham area. I spoke and lead worship for the youth of Corinth Baptist Church in Oxford, NC Monday through Thursday night. Tasha stayed back with the kids as we were all still jet-lagging and, since it is my desire to stay married, I insightfully made the decision that Tasha should stay home this week in order to rest and recoup for the next traveling excursion that comes our way. Against my liking and preference, I nevertheless flew solo and made the trek to Oxford on my own. I had the pleasure of staying with my brother, Bakes*, and his nearly-expecting wife, Keesha, at their home in Wake Forest.
I had a great week with this youth group. My friend, Murray Sinclair from South Africa, is doing a phenomenal job there as the youth pastor. He invited me to come and bring the Word to his kids all week for their VBS, and it was a pleasure to do just that. The biggest highlight for me was seeing one 12-year-old young man named Dalton, pray to receive Christ on Tuesday night after a strong talk about the gruesome death and glorious resurrection of Christ. It was a sweet time as this young man opened up his heart to receive the Lord.
Thank You, Lord, for making this week all worth it for that one young man to come to faith in You, and to be able to plant the seeds of the Gospel in the hearts of many others.
*"Bakes" is a nickname. His real name is Jacob, and he falls fourth in line of 5 kids. All 5 of us Via kids had nicknames growing up, and now, years later, we all 5 still have the same nicknames and use them quite frequently. In fact, my brother Smooth, second in line, goes by that name solely. In reality, there are very few people left in the world who know his real name. He almost got away with having "Smooth" put on his diploma when he graduated from seminary a few years ago. Unfortunately the registrar caught it at the last minute. Anyway, back to Bakes. His nickname evolved like so many of ours did. And it's really hard to be sure about its exact origin, but it began as something of a taunt and heckle by my middle brother, Heelz, when they were but young boys. Heelz would frequently pester Bakes with a sinister rhyme having something to do with baking dough, a remark that I can only assume implied that he thought Bakes to be a momma's boy. Again, no one can really be sure why the act of baking was deemed as a put-down, though, if you knew my brother Heelz, you might be more inclined to follow the logic. Nonetheless, the evolution of the baking brother eventually found itself as simply, Bakes, and the world has never been the same. At least, that's my recollection of it anyway.
Stay tuned for more flashback fridays where I will pull back the curtain on more Via nicknames and their historical evolution to become what they are today.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
A quaint lake and park we found on our bike excursion
Our daily routine of skyping our kids back in Colorado
Hungarian food is not geared for a low-carb diet
Tasha at the castle
With our friend Jeff Long, Pastor of Parkwood Baptist Church
Tasha humoring me with a pose on our excursion (what a hottie!)
The MKs (missionary kids) had a lot going on throughout the week. They had their own VBS all week. Some of them are seen here playing at the carnival.
Having coffee with some of the missionaries
We found the evasive castle!
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
Let me use this platform to thank my incredible parents-in-law for taking such good care of our kids while Tasha and I were away! Robbie and Larry, you guys are awesome. Thanks for believing in what we're doing and showing it in such a practical way by taking care of our 2 crazy kiddos. We love you guys.
The four of them made some wonderful memories over the past week, venturing off to the zoo, to a children's theme park, multiple trips to the playground, hanging out together reading books and just doing what grandparents do best. But without the spoiling! Sure.
During our trip, Pastor Jeff Long told me something that will probably always stick with me. He said he heard it from Dr. Jim Henry, former pastor of FBC Orlando, and it has made an incredible difference in his family life. He said, (my paraphrase)
"Don't give your children stuff, give them memories!"
I love that! That's what we want to do. That's how we want to raise our kids. Sure, memories will fade, but not as quickly as stuff. And it's in those simple times of just being together as a family, living simple, using imaginations and hanging out together, that those lifetime bonds happen--that our kids realize what really matters in life--not stuff, but relationships. And our prayer is that through that they will begin to understand the most important relationship in life--the one between them and their Heavenly Father!
We're back in the US. Got in late last night into Colorado Springs with no luggage! It's supposed to arrive tonight. My body is praying that will be so as it begs for fresh clothes! We'll head back into Charlotte on Sunday afternoon.
It was a great trip to Hungary. Thank you all for your prayers. The Lord showed up in some really cool ways during our worship times throughout the week. We heard on numerous occasions from the missionaries just how refreshing it was to worship together in English--something I never really think about, and definitely take for granted.
We met some really cool missionary families, and got to hear firsthand stories of what God is doing all over Eastern Europe. There about 180 people total including kids and volunteers, from about 6 or 7 countries including Hungary, Romania, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Moldova. Many of these families have now become some of our dearest friends, and we hope to return soon to help some of them minister within their own cities.
Thanks so much for your prayers and support.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Here's a song that is sweeping the world and became the anthem for our week here in Hungary. We sang it several times throughout the week encouraging the missionaries to embrace a huge vision for the city in which God has placed them. We sang it with conviction. We sang it with passion. We sang it believing that, in fact, God is not done with the cities of this world--the cities represented by these missionaries scattered all throughout Eastern Europe.
Here's some quick background on this song. While leading worship in Belfast, Ireland, Chris Tomlin and his band discovered this little obscure band called "BlueTree." They heard this song and were immediately captured by it. The band explained to Tomlin that the song was birthed out of a time of ministry in the city of Pattaya, Thailand. Pattaya has over 30,000 prostitutes over the age of 18, and hundreds more under that age. While ministering in the city, BlueTree was invited by the owner of a bar to play some music. They immediately took him up on the offer, seeing it as an opportunity to sing the love and power of Christ over the city. And it was during this time of singing in the bar that this song was birthed. In a few short moments, "God of This City" was spontaneously created for the glory of God as a message of hope over a destitute city. And God is using it all over the world to stir the hearts of people to embrace, love and draw to Christ the city in which God has placed them. Let it be that for you, as well.
This morning a deaf missionary named Steve James shared about his recent experience battling leukemia. Steve serves among the deaf population in Hungary, and was diagnosed about 3 years ago with the disease. Steve had to come off the mission field for treatment in the states, and was determined to get back on the field. After months of blood transfusions and finally a stem cell transplant, the Lord has fully restored Steve and he's now 3 days back onto the field with his wife serving again in the country they love among the deaf population who also desperately need to hear, or rather see, the Gospel. Thanks, Steve, for being so faithful to the calling of God on your life.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
When I was in seminary, I had several classes with a guy named Steve Brown. Steve was one of the many guys that I would see almost everyday, but just never really interacted with--probably due to laziness on my part, but definitely not due to a lack of coolness on his. Steve's a sharp guy. Witty and hilarious. Loves his family. And definitely loves Jesus.
Monday, June 16, 2008
I've been a slacker since we arrived here in Hungary. We do have an internet connection, albeit slow at times. I simply have not pulled away to write. Tasha is doing much better about writing on her blog. Nonetheless, here we go:
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
We made it to Colorado Springs yesterday with 2 kids, 2 instruments, 3 pieces of luggage, 2 carry-ons, 1 wife with an achy back, and a hand full of compliments from fellow travelers impressed with the behavior of our kids (a phenomenon I can't take any credit for, to be sure. It all goes to my wife!). We're in the Springs for several reasons: 1) For a mini-vacation before we fly out to Budapest, Hungary on Thursday; 2) To drop the kids off here with Tasha's parents, Robbie and Larry Litke, of whom our kids love dearly but rarely get to spend time with; and 3) To receive some long-awaited information regarding the pain in Tasha's back--according to Tasha's mom's chiropractor, Tasha is elongated on one side of her body by one-and-a-half inches. Thankfully, it's not her spine, but her pelvis. Could have been after child birth with our kids. Who knows. All I know is, I have an inch-and-a-half more wife than previously thought. That's pretty cool, I guess. I'm just sorry that more wife for me means more pain for her. But hopefully with some stretching exercises, she'll be good-to-go in no time.
Saturday, June 07, 2008
Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15 are often referred to as the Great Commission passages – “great” because they weighed heavily on the obedience of his followers to perform a task impossible through human effort alone – “commission” because He was sending them out into the world as “sheep among wolves” (Matt. 10:16). But these words apply not only to his followers at that particular time, but also they carry over and require the obedience of His followers in the 21st century. Jesus said, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19).
Perhaps no one fulfilled this command more than William and Catherine Booth, founders of The Salvation Army. For years they toiled and labored in the darkest, foulest slums of 19th century
In what was to be her last public address before succumbing to the ravages of cancer, Catherine spoke these strong words to a missionary conference June 21, 1888:
Look at the world again for a minute. Here are the millions of men entrenched in their wickedness; entrenched behind all manner of refuges of lies, enamored of their sins – some gaiety, some drink, some impurity, some ambition, some money, some learning, some one thing, and some another. There they are, satisfied with their sin so far, because poor things, they will not allow themselves to think. They are not inclined to think. Oh, if a man would only shake himself up for an hour, and face God and eternity, he would not rest in his sins; but their great desire, and the great object of the Devil, is to keep these things from them; so he keeps them always preoccupied – always busy. How are you going to get them down from their tower of self-satisfaction, sin, and pleasure? Do you think they are coming down by your saying, “Here, come along; hear me; let me preach to you. Come and be converted”? Oh no! The Christian Church has been trying that game too long. The people are far too busy. They turn around and tell you so. They say, “I am doing a great work; I cannot come to you.”
Listen to what Jesus Christ commissioned his disciples to do. Not to ensconce (entrench) themselves in comfortable buildings and invite the people to come, and then, if they would not come, leave them alone to be damned. No, no! He said: “Go ye,” which means, “Go after them.” Where, Lord? “Into all the world.” What to do? “Preach the Gospel to every creature.” Where, Lord? “Where the creatures are. Follow them!” If ever you are to get this work done it will be by pressing God’s truth upon the attention of men, and making them hear, and think, and feel; and it must be done by men and women who have themselves experienced and are living in the practice of what they preach.[i]
Catherine’s challenge echoes the words of Christ the day He ascended back into heaven. Catherine’s challenge spilled forth from a life of total commitment to that commission. We must go forth. We must help people understand and realize this prison of sin in which they are confined. Their eyes are blind, just like yours and mine were. So, must go to them. We cannot expect blind people to make their way to us. They are preoccupied with their own blind condition. We must go to them.
I often hear the response, “But how do I do it? What do I say to people?” This is a legitimate question. My response? Simply live the life God has created you to live. Love sinners. Eat with sinners as Jesus did. Build relationships. Find a physical need and meet it. Let His love flow out of you into their lives in the most natural of ways. And then tell them about Him. Speak his truth at every opportunity. People are looking for something real and something genuine, and we have it.
What are some preoccupations (busyness) that you see people deal with who are far from Jesus Christ?
Think of one person in your sphere of influence who needs Jesus Christ. What are some practical ways you can begin to reach them with the love of Christ?
[i] Catherine Booth, “The Challenge,” quoted in Trevor Yaxley, William and Catherine: A New Biography (
Monday, June 02, 2008
Well, it's finally here. My book came out today. I'm pretty jacked up. It's one of those feelings that's almost surreal. As a first-time author, I wasn't sure how it would turn out, but after holding the hard copy in my hands and seeing what a beautiful job Xulon Press did, I'm flying pretty high. I definitely feel like God was honored through the entire process and now I'm just praying that it will reach people with the Gospel and draw others closer to Him beyond what I am capable of doing in my own strength.
Thank You, Lord, for allowing me to see this small dream come to fruition.
I'll let you guys know when it's available on Amazon. But for now, you can purchase it here, if you'd like, straight from Xulon. Or just come see us this summer wherever we may be leading worship and get 'em from us ... cheaper.
Also, a special thanks goes out to so many of you, our supporters, who helped carry the financial load of this project. We love you guys and couldn't do this without you.