Subtitle: Vacation Pics I Thought You'd Like
No longer will I risk life and limb seeking after the oft-coveted perfect marshmallow. This is a technique used by the ancients, namely, finding a stick longer than the Eiffel Tower, placing your mallow on the end, and roasting your little heart away (not to be taken literally). The days of singeing your hand hairs, eyebrow hairs and whatever else type hairs you may have left exposed, are gone. Been there. Done that. Don't want any further part of it. Take notes if you need to. You'll notice the perfect curvature and extension of the stick, along with it's characteristic beefiness. Not just any long stick will do. It must be able to withstand the torque of the mallow (or mallows, since you will likely have room for multiple) placed upon it. The pull of gravity must also be figured in the equation. You may even want an added layer of protection between you and the flames just in case. Other humans will work fine. A pregnant lady adds an additional layer of protection.
Once every factor is assessed, none withstanding, you're ready to begin the process of roasting. Some prefer to dangle their tasty morsel over the flame, as if taunting the fiery dancers with it's gooiness, never allowing the poor flame to lick up the juices. I prefer the alternative method, namely, completely engulfing the delicious blob of sugary goo in flames until it is charred black like the dark caverns of Hades. Ahh, yes. Nothing says summer, like a crispy-black marshmallow covered in delicious sugary ash and then sandwiched between two crunchy graham cracker squares adorned with Hershey's chocolate. And nothing rekindles the flames of love like a little mallow roasting, right babe? And to think, it all took place from about half a football field away.
("Hmm ... is anybody else smelling that? Like the smell of a deck burning?")
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Subtitle: Vacation Pics I Thought You'd Like
Thursday, August 28, 2008
The last 4 days have been a marathon. Sunday night was amazing in Virginia. Tasha and I partnered with my Dad for the evening as he shared the vision for his ministry to the people of Green Ridge Baptist Church in Roanoke. His passion is reaching lost souls. And I am honored everyday to be under his direction and leadership. He's my hero. Pray for him this week. As I write this, he's on a plane bound for Cape Town, South Africa to preach the gospel of Jesus to thousands of people all over the city. I wish I were with him. Next time.
On Monday, we loaded up our family and headed south again, this time to Raleigh, NC to lead worship Wednesday night. We arrived just in time for me to come down with strep throat (perfect when you make your living with your vocal chords!). Thankfully, our friend Jen told us about the minuteclinic at CVS and when Tuesday morning rolled around I was in and out of the store my wife has come to cherish within 10 minutes (a sin to stay that short for CVS lovers) with a positive test for strep (that looked more like a pregnancy test than anything else) and a bottlefull of penicillin. By Wednesday night, I was feeling a lot better, toughed it out and I think God was pleased with the whole night. Tasha and I led with the Chad Lister Band for the kickoff of Two|Four, a brand new ministry of Richland Creek Community Church. Spearheaded by two of my brothers, Jared and Jacob Via, Two|Four is destined to be, in my humble but accurate opinion, the 722 of Raleigh. The kickoff was phenomenal. Just a drop in the bucket of what's gonna happen with that ministry! If you're a student or young adult in the RDU area, head over to Two|Four on Wednesday nights. It starts at 8:30 pm. You won't regret it!
Worship Set for GreenRidge:
1. The Solid Rock (Passion version)
2. I Exalt Thee (Pete Sanchez)
3. King on His Way (The Via's)
4. The Wonder of This Sight (The Via's)
Worship Set for Two|Four:
1. Sanctify (Return Worship)
2. Beautiful the Blood (Steve Fee - I refuse to refer to him simply as "Fee")
3. Reign in Us (Starfield)
4. Sweetly Broken (Jeremy Riddle)
5. Jesus Paid It All (Passion version)
Saturday, August 23, 2008
We're back in Roanoke, Virginia this weekend doing a last minute gig with my dad at my parents' home church here, Green Ridge. He's sharing tomorrow night in the service about his ministry, casting vision to the church about what Rick Via World Reach Ministries is all about--namely, reaching the nations with the Gospel of Christ. Tasha and I will be leading in some worship and sharing about our ministry as well. Sort of a tag-team deal. Should be fun.
So, we're here a day early because my parents offered to keep our kids all day so that Tasha and I could have a date day. Woot, woot! That hasn't happened in a while. So, we're pumped. We slept in, are now doing e-mail and blogs and will be headed out for the day in just a few minutes. Gotta love it!
One more thing: My Dad just released his new book, God Still Moves. Each chapter is an account of things he's seen God do in over 30 years of ministry, both state-side as well as overseas. I read through it for him in preparation for it going to print, and was blown away by some of the first-hand accounts of the things that he has seen God do over the years. Hard-hearted people that he's seen God save. Miracles that he's seen God work. Pretty amazing stuff. This book will challenge you to see God's presence at work in the everyday events of your life. Get it here.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
As I was thinking through my reaction to this unfortunate lie this guy was living, I basically came up with two thoughts. One, this is a trainwreck situation, to be sure. Obviously there are some mental issues this guy is facing right now. And there are thousands around the globe who have been relying on this guy and his song for encouragement as they face their own battles with terminal illnesses or whatever the case may be. So, I'm reminded of the incredible responsibility of us, men and women of God, to understand that there are people watching our lives and to strive to be truth-tellers. To live the truth. That we wouldn't make a mockery of God and gospel by the way we live our lives.
However, my second thought lends itself to more grace than judgment. I'm a broken vessel. You're a broken vessel. Michael is a broken vessel. We're all broken vessels. The fact that the story behind the song was totally fabricated doesn't make the song any less true--the truth that God is a healer--that He's in the business of healing souls and lives. And though the testimony of this particular individual is untrue, the reality that God still heals is definitely not up for debate. Whatever the motivation was for this fabrication, God has still received glory from a song that speaks to His character and praises Him for it. So, I'm thankful that God still uses broken vessels for His use--not matter how badly broken they may be. I think the Apostle Paul said it best in Philippians 1:15-18 concerning motivations for preaching the gospel:
So, pray for Michael. According the article, he's seeking professional help, which I think could be a good thing. But definitely don't waste your time praying that God will figure out a way to clean up the mess and carnage. He wasn't taken by surprise by this. He's totally in control and sovereign over this situation and He'll receive glory from it. No doubt.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
"'For thou art my strength.' What an inexpressible sweetness is to be found in these few words! How joyfully may we encounter toils, and how cheerfully may we endure sufferings, when we can lay hold upon celestial strength. Divine power will rend asunder all the toils of our enemies, confound their politics, and frustrate their knavish tricks; he is a happy man who has such matchless might engaged upon his side."
-Spurgeon on Psalm 31:4 in Morning and Evening, August 19
Monday, August 18, 2008
Yesterday was our last time to fill-in at Parkwood Baptist Church in Gastonia, as their search for a full-time worship pastor has finally come to a close. But man, we're sure going to miss being out there. I think we were there a total of 6 times since March, and yesterday was a great way to finish out. Pastor Jeff Long preached a powerful message from Mark 4, The Parable of the Sower. Here are a few great takeaways:
- "According to the parable of the sower, three-fourths of the people in our churches are lost." - Billy Graham
- In context, the sower is not you and me; the sower is Jesus.
- The first three soils described in this passage (the road, the rocky places, and the thorns) are all written in the Greek using the same verb tense--the aorist, which means they hear once, they obey once, they respond once but then never again--Not true believers! But, the fourth soil, the good soil, is described using present tense verbs, which indicates an initial hearing and obeying and responding, followed by continuous action of those same verbs. They hear and keep on hearing. They obey and keep on obeying.
- So, the key question is, "What does my ongoing response to the Gospel reveal about the kind of soil I am?"
1. Word of God Speak (Mercy Me)
2. O, Worship the King (Chris Tomlin version)
3. Hosanna (Paul Baloche)
4. Ancient Words (Lynn DeShazo, Michael W. Smith version)
5. God of This City (Bluetree, Passion version)
6. Speak, O Lord (Keith and Kristyn Getty)
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Just finished Piper's God is the Gospel. (couldn't quite finish it on vacation) In one word: butt-kickin'! (Okay, two words) Here are some thought-provoking quotables for ya:
- "The good (of the 'good news') is God himself seen and savored in all his glory." p. 37
- "God is the gospel. That is, he is what makes it the good news ... Until people use the gospel to get to God, they use it wrongly." p. 42
- "The gospel is not a way to get people to heaven; it is a way to get people to God." p. 47
- "The happiness of God is first and foremost a happiness in his Son." p. 101
- "There is no sure evidence that we have a new heart just because we want to escape hell." p. 121
- "Faith is not saving faith if it tries to trust Christ for the wrong things. So this makes that trust per se, without reference to what we trust him for, is not the essence of a saving relationship to Christ." p. 129
- Here's a doozy: "Why does he (James in James 4:2-5) call us 'adulteresses' when we pray? It's because we ask God for things to indulge our desires that are not desires for him. This is startling--that in the moment of one of the most pious acts of religion, prayer, we can be making a cuckold out of God. Cuckold is an old English word for a man whose wife is unfaithful. The picture in this text is that God is our faithful, generous husband. So we go to him and ask for, say, fifty dollars, and he gives it to us. Then we take it and walk away from him and go to the end of the hall where our illicit lover has a room. That's the way God looks at praying that does not make 'Hallowed be thy name' the heart-cry of every petition." p. 135
- "The highest act of love is the giving of the best gift, and, if necessary, at the greatest cost, to the least deserving." p. 139
- "All the enticements to God that are not God are precious and precarious. They can lead us to God or lure us to themselves." p. 143
Sunday, August 10, 2008
The Fall season of CharlotteONE is kicking off in just a few weeks every Tuesday night in uptown Charlotte at First United Methodist Church. Come check it out! And make sure you get tickets for the Charlie Hall CD release party on Aug. 26th.
Just finished Showdown by Ted Dekker. I love Ted Dekker. And I love his stuff. Much like the Circle Trilogy, the Messiah-theme becomes the scarlet thread woven throughout the story. Christ's subsitutionary atonement and man's redemption is the major revolving theme throughout the story. He's a master at character and plot development. And his understanding of the human condition apart from and in reconciliation with Almighty God is a defining mark in my mind for Dekker's material. I won't give away any details, but it makes for superb summer reading. Have I mentioned that I love Ted Dekker?
Friday, August 08, 2008
Just finished Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome by Nancy Anderson. This is a great read with practical steps to building and maintaining affair-proof hedges or boundaries in your marriage. It was good for me to read because most of the books on purity that I've read have been by men. But Nancy helped to open my eyes to the woman's perspective on marital purity. There were several great takeaways for me:
- "If you change your behavior, your feelings will follow. Some people object to this method, saying it's not genuine, they feel like they're putting on an act ... Remember that married love is not a feeling--it's a decision."
- "If your 'me' time is crowding out your 'we' time, your marriage might be in danger."
- In your Workplace - "If you feel an attraction to someone in your workplace, consider a transfer to a different department, a different position, or maybe you should just quit."
1. People of the opposite sex should not ride in the car together without a third party present.
2. Don't make personal phone calls to another employee of the opposite sex.
3. Don't have lunch with the same person every day. Move around the lunchroom, and if you go out to a restaurant, go in a group.
4. Make sure your e-mails are not inappropriate or flirtatious.
5. Talk about your spouse in positive terms.
6. Be careful not to make any lingering eye contact.
7. The only appropriate touch between business associates of the opposite sex is a handshake.
There's alot more I could highlight from this book, but I'll leave it with that. This is a quick and easy read, with a ton of practical help for couples seeking to affair-proof their marriages. I highly recommend it.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Just finished reading My 2nd Chapter: The Matthew Ward Story. It's Matthew's autobiography about his seventeen years on the road with The Second Chapter of Acts, one of contemporary Christian music's first big groups birthed out of the Jesus Movement. It also recounts his unbelievable battle with cancer among other things. There were several great takeaways for me as a songwriter and worship leader. Here are a few:
- "Many of the songs we sing in church today are good songs but there's something missing in them ... The songs are often well crafted...but in the end they lack real emotion and the ability to affect us any longer than it takes to sing the song ... This gets back to being called to do music ministry, not doing it just because we can. Our writing or performing of music for the Lord should be accompanied by His favor, His anointing, and not simply done through our own strength and natural talent." (p. 211)
- "Look at the early Jesus movement years. The songs back then were largely written with the idea of 'we' instead of 'I.' They were much more focused on the collective community aspects of worship and not so focused on making it an individual endeavor ... Back in the Jesus-movement period, we had a strong sense that we were in this Christian thing together, brothers and sisters." (p. 212-213)
- "The Christian life in general and worship, particularly, is for the most part a group activity for the family of Christ. If worship is all about me and God, then I've got my blinders on." (p. 213)
- "As churches grow and become centers for what some would call huge clubs, the tendency is for us to allow ourselves to view worship as a sort of spectator sport. We gather on Sunday mornings and find ourselves caught up in a slick, professional kind of experience. We appreciate the level of professionalism while allowing ourselves the liberty not to become involved personally in the worship experience ... I'm not just criticizing others. I have been guilty of the same thing myself. Over the years, I've found that as a worship band is doing its thing, one of two problems can occur for me: either the band is so good that I sit and listen without entering into worship (my producer brain takes over), or the band is so horrible that I'm distracted from worship. But I have found something that can cut through every issue of musical performance, and that is the attitude of the people who are leading worship. For me, the best worship bands are the ones whose hearts are in the right place. This is an intangible thing, one that is difficult to explain ... It doesn't seem to matter what style of music they play or how loud or soft it is; there just seems to be an intangible ingredient that makes whatever they do carry the weight of God's presence." (p. 214-215)
Sunday, August 03, 2008
It's vacation week for the Via family. We're enjoying some time here with all of our family at Smith Mountain Lake. Rainy caught about 5 fish today already. Zeke is donning his new Batman jammies from his Meme. I've got 5 books I'm working on. Tasha's working on her golden tan. And we're all eating junk food 24/7. It's great. So don't expect many blogs this week.