Monday, October 26, 2009

Vote for me this week!

I just informed you over the weekend that my song "I Am Yours" was chosen to be part of the songwriting event. Well, it will be playing on FQ RADIO this week, beginning today. They plan to have all the songs for this week up on FQ RADIO on Monday morning before noon central time.

Beginning on Monday, FQ RADIO will be on the front page of the site. Anyone can go to the site and vote. You will just have to enter your email in order to vote. Only one vote per person per week. So please go to FQWorship and vote for my song and tell everyone you know to come and vote for my song!

(FYI, All songs should be in random order.)

The top song chosen from this week will be played in the FINALS on week 4. (Today starts week 1)

Thank you!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Vote for me on!

I've got exciting news: My song "I Am Yours" has been selected to play on's FQ Radio as part of their worship songwriting event! And you can vote for it to win! (There are no prizes - just opportunities for the song to be played on FQ Radio, which will allow the song to be heard by many other worship leaders, bands and songwriters.)

You must be a member or e-mail subscriber of the site to vote. The basic membership and e-mail subscription are free, and the e-mail subscription box is at the top of their homepage. ( is a worship planning site that was started by Chris Tomlin and a team worship leaders with great features and song selection and a very reasonable price. If you're a worship leader, I'd encourage you to check out one of the paid memberships.)

"I Am Yours" will be played during one of the following 3 weeks (they are not informing me ahead of time which week it will be played):

Week 1: Oct 26 - Nov 1
Week 2: Nov 2-8
Week 3: Nov 9-15

A new playlist will be posted each Monday starting October 26. You can vote for one song each week. The top song of each week will be included in the Finals (Nov 16-22). Other songs may be included in the Finals also. The top song will be announced on on Nov 24.

Your vote could really help open some doors for me as a songwriter. Thank you so much!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Review | Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit | Francis Chan

Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Anyone who’s read my blog for any amount of time knows of my respect for Francis Chan, and you probably know how much I loved his first book Crazy Love. And I – apparently – was not the only one! Crazy Love had a pretty big impact. The book sold 250,000 copies in its first year and has been translated into more than ten languages.

Needless to say, I was pretty excited to get the opportunity to review Chan’s latest book Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit, which was released on Sept. 1.

Let me get this out of the way: it’s exactly what you would expect. The title gives the whole thing away. (That’s not a bad thing!) Chan approaches this book with the same warm and relaxed style with which he wrote Crazy Love. He delivers the same disarmingly subtle profundity.

The reason for Forgotten God? It’s found in the introduction: “While no evangelical would deny His [the Holy Spirit’s] existence, I’m willing to bet there are millions of churchgoers across America who cannot confidently say they have experienced His presence or action in their lives over the past year. And many of them do not believe they can.”

Chan argues convincingly that we have neglected the astounding gift of the Holy Spirit to the point of forgetting him. In the end, he weaves together biblical truths and life stories to show us what remembering the power of the Spirit might look like.

I only wish that characteristic profundity were a little more prevalent. There are definitely moments of truth to chew on in the early chapters, but I felt like Chan was taking an exceptionally long time to get where he was going. Prior to Chapter 7, the most touching, engaging, and thought-provoking parts of the book are really the biographies between chapters.

But it all really does pay off in that last chapter. Chan pulls together all the details to paint a picture for us of a Spirit-filled life. And some readers may actually be disappointed that he doesn’t give a by-the-numbers method for achieving it. He just wants us to ask the hard questions: look at the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 and “ask yourself if you possess each to a supernatural degree.” Pray that the Holy Spirit would come upon you. Obey His promptings when they come. (How many of us have stifled His power in our lives by ignoring Him?) Stop depending on yourself and follow the Holy Spirit into situations that require you to depend only on Him.

All told, Forgotten God is not quite as powerful as Crazy Love, but it is definitely a worthy – and needed – follow-up. The truths in Forgotten God enable the kind of life Chan calls us to in Crazy Love. It’s the Spirit that, in Chan’s words, “Give[s] us a love strong enough to motivate courageous action.”

View all my reviews >>

Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Worship Online?

Is it possible to worship online?

It's a question churches have been asking since the World Wide Web began to gain popularity in the 90s, and it's now a question more and more churches are taking seriously - including ours. I'd like to share with you a couple of brief thoughts on the idea.

Worship is often defined as ascribing worth to God. It is the glorification, the magnification of our Creator. Can we do this online? I think the answer is easily, "Yes."

Glorifying God: This is an easy one! Anything you post online can be used to glorify God. Photos, artwork, blogs, music, videos - if they are created at God's leading to bring glory to Him, then that's what they'll do! And of course, putting them online allows for the possibility of other people being able to experience them, which hopefully means that God will get glory from those people as well.

Encouraging community: You can worship God on your own, and it's easy to see how the web could facilitate that. However, the Bible over and over impresses upon us the importance of community. Hebrews 10:25 tells us specifically not to "give up meeting together," and this has been the argument of many against online worship.

So let's get this straight: An online community is not the same as a real-world community. Therefore, an online worship gathering can never take the place of a real-world worship gathering.

Take, for example, a social networking site like Myspace or Facebook. In those virtual places, you can be an idealized version of yourself - or someone else entirely. Even if you choose to be honest about yourself online, your Facebook friends don't physically interact with you on a daily basis. They don't hear how you speak or see your gestures or facial expressions. They don't really experience your family dynamic. They don't experience all the little second-nature (or even first-nature)things you don't post on your profile. They don't really know you.

But people who know you in the real world can really know you if you allow it. And if those people are your online friends, they get to see your silly cell phone self portraits and the pictures of your kids that you post online. They get to read it when you update your status with something you thought was funny or profound. When you the post the video of the kid who got blasted on laughing gas at the dentist's office, they might even watch that. (They're more likely to watch this.) When you forget that Myspace is not private and post a blog about how your life is over because your boyfriend dumped you - with all the associated gory details - they'll see it.

My point is, you can get to know some things about your online friends (if they're honest), and you can get to know a lot more things about your real life friends. If you can have both in one relationship, it simply gives you another level of interaction.

So, what can happen online is the strengthening of existing relationships - and thereby the strengthening of existing communities. We can't give up getting together - that's where real, deep relationship happens - but when you've had a busy week and you only have five minutes to check your e-mail, Twitter, or Facebook, you can have some little idea of what your friends are up to. That keeps the connection open.

I believe we can use this to expand and enhance worship in our churches! We can post our creations, write our thoughts, e-mail a prayer, and others can partake! We can post a worship event on Facebook and invite our friends!

It's a wide open world, so - as a worship leader - I decided to perform an experiment. I created a Facebook group for my worship team and anyone else who wants to join. We're going to work together to discover how God wants to use this incredible tool - the internet - to bring glory to Himself.

How do you think we can use the internet to enhance and expand worship? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Review | From Eternity to Here

From Eternity to Here: Rediscovering the Ageless Purpose of God From Eternity to Here: Rediscovering the Ageless Purpose of God by Frank Viola

My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Frank Viola’s latest book, From Eternity to Here: Rediscovering the Ageless Purpose of God is not an easy one for me to shove into a loved-it or hated-it slot on the shelf of books I’ve read. I was outraged, inspired, impassioned, incredulous, and challenged by this book.

From Eternity to Here tells of “the ageless purpose of God” in three parts, weaving what the author hopes is a compelling story that – as the subtitle suggests – dates from before time began.

I found two problems early on – one disappointing from an intellectual perspective, one spiritually disturbing.

First, I was a little disappointed to find a rehash of ideas popularized, though not originally conceived, by John Eldredge, an author whose works (Wild at Heart, Epic) have touched my life in pretty profound ways. Viola seems to borrow from Eldredge and others the idea that we are all born into the story that God is telling, though in his mind it’s a romance rather than an epic. To my relief, the book doesn’t take quite the straight line from this point that it appears to be on.

However, much more disturbing is the whole premise of part one – that God’s ultimate passion is His bride. Some reading this review may find nothing wrong with that statement, but based on my reading of Scripture I have to disagree with it. God’s ultimate passion is His glory. Everything that God does or commands serves the ultimate purpose of bringing Him glory.

Move on to part two, and we find that God is homeless and longs for a place to dwell. The God of the universe who is perfect and complete is homeless?

By this point, I just can’t believe the ridiculous statements I’m reading, and I’m finding ludicrous even much more mundane statements. Then, I read the statement that is very nearly the final straw for me – and would have been if I hadn’t promised to review the book! Viola writes that the house God is building or has built, which he has equated at one time or another to both Christ and the church, “becomes indistinguishable from the Builder.” Add to this the statement later that “the church is Christ,” and the most serious error of this book is obvious: Viola is putting God on our level.

The author has a lot of ideas here that I love. He speaks of the church not just as a group of people but – in turns – as a community, a colony, a family, a new species, even a single organism. These ideas are engaging, intelligent, and biblical. He writes, “The body of Christ exists to express God in the earth” and that “the conversion of lost souls is the means toward that end,” not a goal in itself.

One of my favorite statements from this book is this: “…one of the highest revelations you and I will ever receive is to see the church as Christ in corporate human expression.” Beautiful and true! The church is not an institution or a building or an event. It is us, and we are – in a very real way – the body of Christ, His physical expression in the world.

He also writes, “One of the greatest problems in the Christian faith today, I believe, is that Christians are taught to be salt and light in the world as individuals[emphasis mine:],” and, “…the great need of the hour is for Christians to begin learning how to gather together and embody Christ in a shared-life community where they live.”

These statements can be mind-blowing. Viola insists that the pictures of the church as the bride and dwelling place and body of Christ are not just metaphors but concrete truths. He sees and expresses the need for all its members to hold a much higher view of the church.
The problem is definitely not his high view of the church but his low view of God. The church is the body of Christ, but the church is not Christ. We are not to be equated with Him.

Christ embodies us – the church – but we cannot contain His limitless nature.

View all my reviews >>

The following bloggers are posting a review or Q & A with Frank Viola on his bestselling book FROM ETERNITY TO HERE today, Tuesday, July 21st. You may order the book at a discount at – it’s also on audio book. Free discussion guide, sample chapters, interviews, and a free audio of the first chapter are available on that site also. Here are the bloggers who are participating:

Jay Becker -
Mark D -
Igniting Hearts - Kimber Britner -
Karyn -
Barefoot Preacher -
Every Day Angels -
FaithEngineer -
Kristen Schiffman -
CrossPointe: The Church at Bevo -
Crazy Love for God -
Amazima Ministries -
Down to Write Honest -
A Beautiful Mess -
The Blakes on a Mission -
Eric Jaffe -
Reconnect with God –
2nd Cup of Coffee -
Nolan Bobbitt Website -
Klappyanne -
Daveingland -
Randi Jo Rooks -
Ephesians Five –
Michael Bayne -
Encounter Church Helena Blog -
Thoughts B4 Conviction N2 Action -
Edevotion -
Seeking After -
Eric Powell -
Borrowed Light -

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Reading From Eternity to Here by Frank Viola

I'm part of the blog circuit for Frank Viola's new book From Eternity to Here. My review should have been done a couple days ago, but due to circumstances beyond my control, I haven't finished the book yet. Should have my review up in a couple of days for those who are interested.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Help Me Love Them

Even though I am not as far along as Paul was in his passionate love for the church, I thank God that there have been key points in my life when God has rescued me from the pit of cynicism. I recall the days when I was finishing college and starting seminary. The mood in the late sixties was inhospitable to the local church. I can remember walking the streets of Pasadena on Sunday mornings in the fall of 1968, wondering if there was any future for the church – like a fish doubting the worth of water or a bird wondering about the reason for wind and air. It was a precious work of grace that God rescued me from that folly and gave me a home with the people of God at Lake Avenue Church for three years and let me see in the heart of Ray Ortlund, my pastor, a man who exuded the spirit of Paul when he looked out on his flock and said, “My joy, my crown of exultation.”

John Piper – Desiring God

Desiring God – the seminal work by pastor, teacher, and author John Piper is – I’m firmly convinced – impossible to read without some heartbreaking conviction. There were many moments of self examination and tears when I finally got around to reading it – something I’d intended to do for years. The most wrenching, though, came when I read that passage. The word “cynicism” jumped off the page, burned itself into my eyes like I’d stared at the sun.

Read my blogs over the last year and a half, and you’ll see my responses to things God has been teaching me over the last several years of serving on church staffs, being in a band, and becoming a father. But you’ll also see a man on the verge of hopeless cynicism.

I’ve been hurt. I’ve been hurt by the people I’ve looked up to – the ones I’ve looked to for compassion and leadership – by the people I’ve tried to serve. By the time I recorded my second CD with the Jud Kossum Band, I’d been through an emotional and spiritual beating, and I was getting angry and morose.

I knew that I couldn’t let myself fall off that brink, though, and I’ve been battling that cynicism ever since. There have been times when the only emotion I could feel when it came to my interactions with church was bitter distrust. I’ve begged friends and pastors for prayer, so that I could feel something meaningful again, learn to trust again, learn to love the church. I’ve said the words “I forgive” again and again, but I always felt like I needed to keep saying them because there was always that one scrap of unforgiveness hanging on for dear life.

That’s why this paragraph hit me so hard. I knew exactly what Piper was saying. I knew exactly where he was coming from. In that moment particularly, my heart ached for that “precious work of grace.” I begged God for it with tears in my eyes. “Show me how to love the church.”

A couple of days later, I read this:

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

Ephesians 1:15-23

My heart broke yet again, and those words of Piper’s came flooding back to me. I longed to be truly grateful for my church.

As the tears started to rise again, God reminded me of all the times that I actually have been grateful for the loving family He has blessed me with at Magnolia Creek Baptist Church. I have been grateful for the way they welcomed me and my family. I have marveled at the way they pray and care for each other and genuinely love being together. I’ve been deeply moved by my pastor’s love and acceptance and respect of them and of me. They have their shortcomings – as any church does – but their love of one another is not one of them.

I couldn’t help myself. I began praying along with Paul the words of this epistle. I could not stop giving thanks for my church, and God impressed on me four items of prayer (at least!) that I should keep bringing to Him. I want to share them with you, and I pray that if you’re struggling with bitterness like I am, you would pray for these in your context as well.

  1. Keep thanking God for the church family He has blessed you with. (Eph. 1:16)
  2. Pray that He would open the eyes of the church body – beginning with you – to wisdom and the knowledge of His character. (v. 17)
  3. Pray that your church’s eyes (beginning again with you) would be opened to the hope He gives. (v. 18) We need #2 and #3 in order to forgo the lesser pleasures of this world and seek the greater pleasures of God. That’s what will make our churches what God intends them to be.
  4. Finally, pray that you and your church will know that God’s power is for you. (v. 19) As believers, we have in us the same Holy Spirit, the same power that raised Christ from the dead. (See also Romans 8:11.) Therefore, we have the power to live the life to which we are led by the knowledge of God’s character and the hope He gives.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Review of Francis Chan’s Crazy Love DVD

Crazy Love is a beautifully filmed and produced small group resource. There’s a warm, friendly, genuine feel to each of the 10 chapters.

Just as he did in the book Crazy Love, Francis Chan talks to the viewer like an old friend who is desperately in love with Jesus and wants the same for you. Each 10-minute chapter is a vignette, a slice of Chan’s day. He talks about what it means to really love Jesus while he makes his breakfast (chapter 1), goes to the grocery store (chapter 3), puts his kids to bed (chapter 10).

While going about the mundane activities of his day, he beckons the viewer to more. Standing in the market, he asks, “…how do you have these supernatural times when you’re doing mundane and boring things?” Then he says, “I want to be standing in a market and think about the blood of Jesus Christ.”

While the specific content is not exactly the same as the book, thematically, the chapters cover the same ground, but the video serves its purpose by turning the book’s more individual purpose to a community-focused purpose. For instance, near the end of Chapter 8, Chan says, “…the truth is, to live out biblical Christianity in the American church, that’s a very difficult thing, and you really need each other for that.”

Each chapter ends with a probing question to be discussed by the group, which is more or less standard. Like the book, however, the questions Chan asks feel disarmingly simple but dig deeper than some viewers may be used to.

The subject matter is strong, but the strength of this small group resource in delivering that subject matter is its warmth – generated not just by the NOOMA-esque settings and quality of the video, but the authenticity of Chan’s style – which draws the viewer in and – in my opinion – makes the viewer think a little harder about these subjects than another approach might have.

I’d recommend this video resource to any small group leader.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

On Twitter

Just wanted to let my readers know I'm on Twitter now. Here it is.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Confession for a Change

Proverbs 28:13 (New American Standard Bible)
13 He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.

Sin thrives in the darkness.

And yet, when we sin, the first thing we do is shove that nasty little sin into the back of the closet, turn off the lights, quietly close the door, and hope no one noticed what we were doing. We’re afraid of being found out. If anyone knew what we’d done, we’d be ostracized.

I wish I could say that wasn’t true. There are some sins the revelation of which probably would get you ostracized, but that’s not the way it should be.

I’ve written before about the bent of people in the church – everyone really – to hide their indiscretions, to wear masks. And I’ve written about the need to be real, but this is different. This isn’t about what hiding our sins does to the church as a whole. It’s about what it does to us as individuals and our relationships with God and others.

I confess to you that I have sinned. (Whoa, seriously?!) In fact, I may be sinning right now. You don’t know!

I confess to you that I have hidden my sins, and when I did, here’s what happened. I became a slave to them. You see, there’s a lot of talk in the Bible about darkness/evil/sin and light/goodness/righteousness. I think that’s more than just a visual way to think about the difference between God and Satan or sin and righteousness. I think it tells us something about the nature of these concepts.

Let’s talk about darkness. You can’t see in it. Therefore, things can be hidden in it. It’s really easy to get lost in the darkness. It is – by definition – devoid of light.

Now, how about light? When a room is lit up, you can see everything. It’s impossible to hide in an open, sunny, expanse. You can generally – given the absence of other obstacles – see right where you’re going in the light. Light drives away the darkness.

Let’s compare sin and darkness. Attachment to sin can “blind” you to what you should do. Or, if you like, it can cause you to “lose your way.” (Take a look at Romans 1:18-31 to see how sin takes root and leads to more sin.) We all have a tendency to hide our sin. Sin is the exact opposite of righteousness – there is nothing good in it.

Hence, my opening statement: Sin thrives in the darkness. It grows and breeds and takes over. But once the light shines on it…

This is confession. Shining the light on our sin.

It requires humility to truly confess your sins. Therefore, a true confession requires not just speaking them aloud, but forsaking them, i.e. repentance. It is in this repentance that we find compassion. God shows compassion to those who confess and forsake their sins. What does this mean?

Remember how God hardened the hearts of those people in Romans 1? They became, as Paul later writes, “slaves to sin.” (Romans 6) I believe that sin’s power over us is found in the darkness, and when we shine the light on it by confessing, its power is broken. We are then free to become “slaves to righteousness.”

So, to whom do we confess? To God, of course. He has the power to forgive us and deliver us from our sins, but let’s be honest. We confess sins to God, but it’s still really easy to hide them.

I believe God calls us to confess our sins to our fellow believers. (See James 5:16.) This means we must trust one another, and that’s a near impossible thing to do when you can’t tell if the face someone is showing you is real. But we must trust one another.

So, confession is a powerful instrument of God in freeing us from bondage to sin. But there is an even greater impact.

I sincerely believe that if you find one fellow Christ-follower that you think you can trust and confess your sins to that person, this can be the beginning of change in the church. Masks will fall away. True faces will be revealed. People will be humbled before God, and they will see him do amazing things (2 Chronicles 7:14).

I’ll close with these words spoken by Alistair Begg during an exposition of Hebrews 3:13: “God has determined that it is in our relationships with one another that we are strengthened and equipped.”

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My Thoughts on the Presidency (and the President)

I think we’re all aware that today is a great day in the history of the United States. Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican – or neither – you know today is big.

Today our first African-American President was inaugurated. It’s a day to be proud of our nation. The dream of racial equality is coming true. It’s also a day that I find myself a little sad – and more than a little embarrassed – about the state of civil rights in America. What took us so long?

Like millions of Americans, I am ready for change, and President Obama speaks of change my heart longs to see – a change in the way the politics of our government work. (For the sake of full disclosure, let me say that I did not vote for Obama.) A change in the petty arguments, the partisan divisions.

His words are beautiful and paint a portrait of an America I think most of us would love to see – one defined not by consumerism and narcissism, but by generosity and kindness.

But I’m not sure that government-enforced wealth sharing is really the way to go.

And the fact that Obama’s record is extremely pro-choice is terrifying to me.

My prayer is that God will grant him the wisdom to lead our nation and the humility to serve our nation. My hope is that he will be just as great a president as some think he will be.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Jud's a Loser

Today is going to be another short entry because it serves simply as an invitation. I've begun a journey to better health and less of me. Literally. And I want you to be part of it.

I'm on my way to being 80 pounds lighter, and I've started a new blog to chronicle the journey called "Jud's a Loser." The first entry will be there today, Jan. 16, 2009, describing the beginnings.

My hope is that you will help keep me accountable, and that those of you who are also struggling with your weight will find some encouragement.

Click on the link above and join me in the journey.

(For those of you wondering when I'm going to do another "real" blog entry here at Words, not to worry! I'm planning a new full entry on Monday, Jan. 19, which - in addition to being Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - is the first anniversary of this blog!)