Tag Archives: Leonard Sweet

My Top Ten for 2011

Each of us have our different tastes in music, books and movies, but most of us enjoy music and books and or movies.  I might read a book that I find particularly stirring or one that impacts me and my wife will think it’s just “okay.” So, your list might match mine or be completely different.  In fact, if you have a book, CD or movie that helped move you forward in your journey with Christ during the previous year, feel free to share it in the comments section.  I might just add it to my own list of things to read, watch and listen to in 2012.  My list below is not ranked in any particular order.  That is not my intention. They are simply the top ten books and recordings that have fueled my fire for Christ during the last year.  And maybe a movie or two. Anyway, here goes…

  1. Bonhoeffer – Pastor, Prophet, Martyr, Spy, by Eric Metaxas – This is a huge book about a great man.  I took my time with it and read it over the course of two months.  If you enjoys biographies or are inspired by the lives of great Christians, this is a must read! I loved this book and passed it on to a friend who passed it on to another friend.
  2. Ghosts Upon the Earth – Gungor – I don’t really know how to define Gungor and I think the band would be very proud of that.  This is a very talented, creative, innovative group of musicians and worshipers.  As a worship pastor, looking for more songs to help us say all that we need to say to God, most of Gungors songs are attainable for congregations’ singing, but it was unmistakable to me that worship was taking place during their concert at NWLC last summer.  It’s difficult to put my finger why they’re so appealing to me, but I can say that my kids and I can’t get enough of Gungor and Ghosts Upon the Earth displays everything we like about the band Gungor. Trans-Siberian Orchestra meets Sigur Rós and Queen – minus a measure of flamboyancy.
  3. Jesus Manifesto, by Frank Viola and Leonard Sweet – I read this book toward the beginning of last year with my brother.  We live in different states, but called each other to discuss what we were reading.  Reading this sparked a revival in my own heart.  I didn’t even realize that I was in need of a revival, but after years of working in a church, I’d begun to subconsciously convince myself that I had to live this Christ life out of sheer will.  I would have never said that out loud or even believe that I believed it, but my inner thoughts were telling me a different story.
  4. 10,000 Reasons – Matt Redman – Last summer I attended the National Worship Leader Conference in Kansas City, KS and when Matt Redman lead one of the evening worship times, his recording 10,000 reasons became my top favorite worship album of the year.  We have already incorporated 2 of the songs and I suspect more are to come.  The two songs we sing as a congregation are 10,000 Reasons and Holy.
  5. Bark of the Bog Owl, by Johnathan Rogers – In 2011 I began following the blog at rabbitroom.com.  It’s a community of creatives – song writers, authors, musicians, theologians, artists, etc.  I encourage you to check it.  On to my point… one of the contributors to that site is the author, Johnathan Rogers.  The Bark of the Bog Owl is the first book in the Wilderking trilogy and takes the reader into world of swamps, gators and of course the mysterious Feechie folk.  Rogers is a wonderful writer and, though this book is more of a young adult fiction, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
  6. The Reckoning – NEEDTOBREATHE – For me it seemed like this was a step back from the groups previous offering – Outsiders – at least on my initial enjoyment level.  But I found that I couldn’t stop listening to it.  I’m still trying to figure out the deeper meaning behind some of the lyrics, but even if I don’t pick up on them, the music is fantastic!
  7. The Way of the Wild Heart by John Eldredge – An older book that I finally got around to reading.  I can’t express enough that I wish I had read this book when I first purchased it several years ago.  I think I’d be a better dad to my sons.  I hope that I can make up for some of the time I’ve lost, know that many of the things Eldredge pointed out have turned a switch on in my brain.  If you have sons, or just need to understand some of the “why questions” on your journey as a man, then I encourage you to read this book.
  8. Over The Edge by Brandilyn Collins – Okay, I admit that I might be rounding up on this one, but let me explain.  I don’t normally read murder mysteries or suspense, but another book I read encouraged me to read the some of the same authors my wife chooses so… I actually like the book and finished it in maybe two days.  My wife and daughter had been reading a lot of Brandilyn Collins recently so I thought I would join them.  This is in my top ten to say – I’m glad I did – and it really is a good book for it’s genre.
  9. The King’s Speech – This was such a great movie.  I didn’t catch it in theaters when it came out, so I’m a little behind, but my wife and I rented it this year and found it to be a very compelling story.  Reminds me of another who tried to use his stammering as an excuse not to serve.  Yes, I’m talking about you, Moses.  For the rest of us, we have no excuses to offer God when He calls us.
  10. Captain America – The First Avenger – A shout out to my favorite childhood super hero! There were certainly better pieces of cinema in 2011 and certainly more inspiring movies.  I willingly concede.  But I was excited to finally see my favorite super hero on the big screen.

Well, that’s it – nothing too spectacular to an outsider, but to me, this was a big part of my journey over the last year and includes the things I really enjoyed.  I’d love to hear about the books/albums/movies you enjoyed last year.  Please share your comments.


Everyone Needs a Break

I last blogged on my birthday and have had several occasions since where I might have blogged, but other things have taken my time and priority.

First, I spent a week at the National Worship Leader Conference in Kansas City, Kansas. It was a fantastic time and I was able to spend some time under the teaching of some godly men, women and mentors. I sat under the teaching of Leonard Sweet, Scotty Smith, Tommy Walker, Tim Hughes, Rory Nolan and Buddy Owens, just to drop a few names.
As a worship leader this was a week to learn, grow, fuel and be challenged. All those things took place in me. I was exhausted when it was over and ready to rest. Having been to NWLC the last two years, I was prepared and already scheduled a week vacation following the conference. (Foresight is a wonderful thing when I can get it.)
I had every intention of sleeping till noon, indulging myself in my favorite books and shows on netflix. God had something different in mind and I’m so glad that at least on this occasion, He found me listening.
Here is what I heard my heavenly Father calling me to… Spend quality time with my kids and wife. The time schedule for this pastor of worship can be demanding. (my friends tease me that it must be tough only working on Sundays) Added to that my older 3 kids are teenagers and have many activities throughout the year. It’s tough to get quality time with them and when I do get time it is usually with 2 or 3 of them at a time, so one-on-one time is even more rare.
My 3 year old gets one day with me every week throughout the year, so God impressed upon me that I should offer that to my teenagers as a part of my planned week off. Here is how it set up. Tuesday was Daddy-Jared day, Wednesday was Daddy-Hannah day and Thursday was Daddy-Timothy day.
Jared and I started our day with some work. Together we stood out in the hot 100+ degree morning and changed the driver-side head lamp assembly in my van. I’m not a mechanic and don’t pretend to be, but it was good for Jared, I think to see me struggle to figure out how to get the old headlight out and the new one in. And he got to help and use his creative thinking gifts as we worked it out together. After, we went together to pick up Hannah from band camp, went to lunch together and did one more job before spending the afternoon watching some hero shows on Netflix. During our time I was able to share with Jared how, as a teen, I experienced many of the same pressures and teasing that he sometimes experiences. Too often I present myself to my kids as a “sure-of-myself, successful man.” I allow them to see my successes but rarely my failures. Mistakenly they may only think that I have experienced success and have always been popular and sure-of-myself. On the contrary, this is far from reality. I pray that they don’t think that they have to live up to a misunderstood concept of their dad.
Hannah and I got to make a trip to the city on Wednesday, and she drove. She has been anxious to try her driving skills in the city and on the interstate. She did well. Especially when she had to keep her cool when we encountered a tire tread which had recently been deposited in the middle of our lane. At first unsure of which way to go around, she slowed and chose the shoulder rather than changing lanes. It was the right choice as there were several cars behind us and in the next lane over. Her reward? Splitting a full slab of ribs from Oklahoma Joe’s with her dad. It was a good time together.
Timothy and I also started our day with some work. I had recently built a raised bed for next year’s garden and was needing to cut the tips off of the screws so we wouldn’t cut our hands while digging in the dirt. I pulled out my dremel tool and showed Timothy how to use it. He caught on quickly and did the large share of that little job. We also needed to change a light in our stairwell, so I borrowed the long pole from the church and showed Tim how to use it. He also did great at this. We went to lunch with my friend Bob, and Tim got to hear what it is that grown men talk about: baseball, Bonhoeffer, theology, politics, church life. After the work, Tim schooled me at Halo 3, and we watched some Star Trek Voyager on Netflix.

Ending the week I got to spend some wonderful time with my wife. During the week we had begun reading a book to each other in the evenings, and Sunday we celebrated our 18th anniversary. We watched Captain America at the theater then went to supper and finished off with some Cold Stone, Coffee Lovers (our favorite) ice cream.

Too many times during the business of life, I’m putting off those little times I could be spending with my kids. It’s easy to be exhausted mentally after a full day and full week of carrying the weight of my job on my shoulders. I’m getting better, but I still knew that I owed this week to my family. This vacation was more for our together time. I’ll get “me time” later. I always seem to find time for me.

What is the best quality time you’ve spent with your kids or wife? Are they seeing the real you or are you only showing them the “you” that you wish you were?