The tag line under my header is from a song by MercyMe called “Wishful Thinking” from the Welcome to the New album and it really sums up the transformation I’ve been living out the last four years. That’s the short and to the point version. If you want the long version, here’s a post a made on Facebook on March 2 of this year that explains in more detail . . .
Four years ago today, Shannon and I attended LIFT 2012 , a worship leaders conference hosted by Passion City Church. After nearly twenty years playing worship, and half of that being a worship leader, it was time for some new and fresh ideas and an opportunity to meet with others who were walking the same road so we would be refreshed and renewed for the church we had been with for ten years . . . or at least that’s what we expected would come of the weekend. Within two weeks of returning from the conference, just as we were about to begin incorporating new ideas and songs, I suffered my third and most serious bout of diverticulosis which required surgery and took me out of commission for about three months. Once I began to get back on my feet again, Shannon and I both began to sense and feel the Lord tell us it was time to move on from the church and find another home. Leaving our home of ten years, the only church Geoffrey and Lauren had ever known, was a very painful decision to make, but we both knew it was time.
Within a month of leaving our home church, we had settled at a new church that challenged a large portion of the way we lived our lives. We began to hear truths about God loving us NOT based on what we did or didn’t do but based on what Jesus did for us. Although we knew this in our minds, it had never penetrated our hearts and this was a radical way of thinking for us. Up to this point, our main image of God was a judge watching overhead just waiting to use his gavel to pronounce our eternal damnation because of something we may have done or even omitted to do. (In other words, we saw God as waiting to play whack-a-mole with us based how we lived and just simply waiting for us to screw up so He could drop the hammer!!) When we left our former church, I had given up the thought of playing music. It’s not that I didn’t want to play, I just simply did not want music to be a reason we chose a church home. For the largest part of our time at the former church, about six years, I had been a solo musician leading worship myself with a few others singers and had prayed constantly for the Lord to send other musicians to play with. Within two months time at the new place, a new worship leader was brought in and I was given the opportunity to play along with what I consider one of the greatest group of guys I have ever been a part of. God answered my prayers for musicians, but he took me to them and didn’t bring them to me!
Through the relationships we formed in our new church, we began to understand a word we had heard numerous times in our church lives over the years but didn’t have a clue of comprehension . . . grace. Grace means God loves me not because of what I do or don’t do. Grace means it’s okay if I mess up because I’m already forgiven for it. Grace means I’m accepted as a son (or daughter) of God because of what Jesus did for me and because of that I can talk to him and have access to him just as our kids can talk to us and have access to us.
As a part of the same church we had become convinced and reliant upon our own ways, traditions, and methods of doing things, rather than being dependent upon God. We were convinced that because we did things out of a sense of commitment and obligation we were accepted by God . . . but at the same time, if we messed up, we still ran the risk of not being accepted. Who wants to serve a God like that? And why would you serve a God like that? God loves me and you and everyone not based on what we wear, how we act, what we eat, what we drink, whether or not we have tattoos or piercings, what we have done, how much money we give the church, our race, our age, or even our sexual preference. God loves us based on Jesus’s death for all mankind to restore our relationship back to him.
I could write a lot more about things that have happened since March 2, 2012. It’s not that any one thing spectacular occurred that weekend at Passion City Church, but looking back it’s the weekend that started it all. The greatest symbol of freedom I have is the tattoo I see on my arm everyday. The tradition I was brought up in would tell me what a sinner I am for having ink on my body and I have defiled the Lord’s temple. To me, it’s a sign that I have broken out the “church-boy” box and I am free.
So, if you notice the underlined portion above, I intend to use this space to write about things that have happened and are still happening since that time in 2012. I know I have experienced a freedom and joy in my life that I never thought possible once I learned and accepted that God is not a judge waiting to condemn but a Father that simply wants to love His children.
I hope you enjoy, are encouraged, and inspired to consider things maybe a little differently than you ever have as you share this road with me.