God’s Timing & Provision

On Wednesday, May 18th, Courtney and I stepped out in faith and I resigned a position I had held for just under 2 years. We knew that God was moving us somewhere new, but we did not know where that would be. It was a scary thought, but it was also an invigorating one. As my father in law said, “It’s better to be unemployed and in the center of God’s will than anywhere else.” We wanted to let God write the script and we were ready to go wherever He called us next. I am beyond excited to say that today was my first day in a brand new position at West Ridge Church in Dallas, GA. God’s timing and His provision was nothing short of mind-blowing. So, as a testament of God’s work in our lives I wanted to share how this all came about. 

On Thursday afternoon, May 19th, I got a phone call from a friend telling me about a Married Groups Director position they had open. When he asked me if I would be interested, my first response was to laugh (as was my wife’s when I told her) and tell him that I didn’t even know if I would be qualified for that since I had absolutley no groups experience.

This reminds me of when God told Abraham and Sarah they were going to have a son in their old age: their response was laughter. (Genesis 17:17 & 18:12) They did not see how something that had proven to be physically impossible could be accomplished, but God fulfilled his promise in spite of their laughter and doubt. 

In my 10 years of ministry, I have always relied heavily on my abilities (playing guitar and singing) but this position is one that will stretch me and grow me. It will cause me to rely more fully on God to help me and sustain me, rather than relying on myself. I feel like I am in a really great place: I must lean on the Holy Spirit, and the great pastors and leaders He has placed around me. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. It is humbling and thrilling. 

This position is extremely different than anything I have done before and Courtney and I are excited about that! God’s timing could not have been more perfect. We have prayed daily that God would open the one right door for our family and He did just that! All credit goes to Jesus for providing this new role for us. We are so blessed to be a part of West Ridge Church.

I cannot thank those who have prayed for us enough! The countless texts, calls, and messages were always comforting and came just when we needed them the most. (Like when I had times of thinking, “what are we doing?”) Prayer really does work. I can say with 100% honesty and full belief that God answers prayer. He is always working and He is ALWAYS faithful. God is sovereign. We didn’t know where we were headed, but God knew and He was going before us! We wanted to seek God and His will alone because in the end that is all that will ever matter.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 

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Taking The First Step

As most of you know, yesterday was my last Sunday as the Worship & Creative Arts Pastor at New Season Church. Almost 3 weeks ago, I resigned my position. I did this without having a plan to provide for my family. Sounds stupid and unwise, right? I agree, when you look at it from a strictly humanist worldview. I was always raised to believe (and I will raise my son the same way) that you don’t leave a job until you have a job. Well, I did the complete opposite. However, this was not a snap decision. After fasting, seeking wise counsel, and weeks of prayer, Courtney and I knew that God was calling us to leave. Sometimes God tells you to go, and he only shows you that first step (like Abram in Genesis 12, or Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade).INDY

I honestly do not know what is next for us. We have countless pastors, friends, and family members praying for us. We appreciate and need all of that, but ultimately we are relying on God. A friend of mine made a wise statement to me during this process. He said, “Chase, your job is not your provider, Jesus is” and that is a statement I have let echo in my mind to this day. I need a constant reminder of God’s provision in my life. The awesome thing is that God knows everything, so even though I don’t know what I will do for a paycheck tomorrow, God has known. We are trusting Him to provide for us and to put us exactly where He wants us to be.

In the meantime, I will be filling in for churches in our area that are without a worship leader, or just need someone to fill in for their worship guy who may need a break. If you know of any churches needing someone to lead worship for them on any Wednesdays/Thursdays or Sundays, please send them my way!

I would also ask you to pray for Pastor Steve, Vickie, and the rest of New Season Church. They have gone through a lot of transition lately and that is never easy. Even though my time at New Season is done, God is not yet done with New Season. Pray specifically that God will send the right people to fill the roles that are lacking. Pray that God will continue to use His church to impact lives for Jesus.

For all those who are praying for us, thank you and please don’t stop! We are excited to see what God has in store for us!

How Would Jesus Respond?

I do not even know where to begin. After the response to my last post, I am sure this one will fall short… but I want to keep a conversation going if I can.

Over the past several months I have been reading about and following some information on the Millennials. It seems there is an issue with the Church as a whole when it comes to this generation. People ranging from 18 to 30 years old are leaving the Church. Not just a few here and there, but by the hundreds.

There was an article that I read addressing this issue a while back and I encourage you to read it as well. If you do not want to take the time to read it, I will do my best to give you a couple quotes and a central theme to provoke more discussion.

The author, Rachel Held Evans states, “young adults perceive evangelical Christianity to be too political, too exclusive, old-fashioned, unconcerned with social justice and hostile to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.” Interesting topics to think about in light of my last post, huh? Obviously there is a much bigger issue at hand for the Church than cool coffee shops and hip pastors with tattoos.

Ms. Evans goes on to say, “What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.” Is this true? Is our generation looking for more than what the average local church is offering?

I want to open this topic up for discussion if we can. Why do YOU think Millennials are leaving the church? Is the Church no longer relevant to this demographic? How should the Church as a whole go about reaching this demographic to change the trajectory? How would Jesus want us to respond?

Is Phil Robertson a REAL Christian?

This morning as I was driving into work I heard something pretty disturbing: “Duck Dynasty star suspended for anti-gay remarks.”

REALLY??

Obviously, the news did not go on to tell the whole story, just that ‘Duck Dynasty’ star Phil Robertson had been indefinitely suspended from the A&E show. My curiosity was piqued.

As soon as I was able to look up the news article, I did. I heard a foxnews.com roundtable discussion on the matter and I was blown away at the ignorance of one of the commentators. “The fact that someone would equate the love I might have for another man with beastiality or a drunkard or adultery or something like this…certainly flies in the face of what it means to be Christian. What it means to be Christian is to treat others like you would want to be treated” (Direct quote from this video.)

The reason that Phil Robertson “equated” homosexuality with adultery, drunkenness, and beastiality is because to him it’s all the same. It’s all against what God teaches us in His Word…which is sin. It’s black and white…no room for gray. He drew a line in what his faith teaches…so is that bad? For those of you who feel like Christians are intolerant, take a look in the mirror first. Are you intolerant of Christianity? TRUE Christians love everyone. It doesn’t matter your race, sexual orientation, beliefs, or the family you are from…there is no justification of hate toward anyone!

Here is why I really believe Mr. Robertson was pretty much fired: He talks too much about Jesus. Yep, I said it. Why do I feel this way? Let’s look back at a couple other issues that came out from Phil himself:

I am referencing a video I saw a while back where Phil was talking about how A&E were putting in fake bleeps. “They inserted fake bleeps like someone had used profanity, but no one had used profanity.” Phil goes on to say, “Why would you do that? If you want that just turn the station…There’s plenty of that!” So here we start to see that A&E was trying to make it seem like this “Christian” family was using profanity throughout the show.

The second issue (same video) was the fact that A&E was editing Phil’s prayers at the end of the episodes. Phil would always close his prayers by saying, “In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.” Well, guess what — A&E cut that part out. Phil states, “why would cut out ‘in Jesus’ name,’ they said, ‘well, they don’t want to offend…'”

So, can we see a pattern here? If you have heard Phil speak or have seen any YouTube clips of him doing so, you know beyond a shadow of doubt that he is a Christ follower. He is just plain honest and in your face about it. I admire that. He does not back down when it comes to offending people. THE GOSPEL IS OFFENSIVE! Phil states that sin is sin. There is no difference between being an adulterer and being a liar. They are the same.

So back to the issue at hand. Phil made a statement: ” I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.” That’s a true, Christian statement. Jesus loves EVERYONE no matter the sin you have been or are still stuck in.

GLAAD states, “this flies in the face of what true Christians believe.” How so? They are saying that “true Christians” should not believe the Bible? 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Romans 1:26-27 are some references. True Christians believe that apart from Jesus you will forever be separated from God. That’s pretty offensive in and of itself. It doesn’t matter what lifestyle you live, apart from Jesus Christ there is no life.

So, let’s get REALLY real- I can bet we all make the list in 1 Corinthians as those who will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Let’s take a look at a few: Have you ever put something above God? You are an idolater. Have you ever stolen anything? You are a thief. Have you ever had a little too much to drink and gotten slammed? You are a drunkard. Ever had sex outside of the marriage covenant? You are sexually immoral. Like I said, let’s get REAL! I am guilty as guilty gets, but there is GREAT news: JESUS came and died for all of these things! THAT IS WHAT TRUE CHRISTIANITY IS ABOUT!!! JESUS!!! Nothing else. If you try and take Christ out of Christianity and instead, insert your moral code you are fooling yourself. Take a look at what Romans 5:8 – “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” WOW that’s good news!

So because of JESUS, I am no longer on the list. Apart from Him I am the epitome of the list– stuck in sin and shame. But because Jesus saves me from sin and death, I can rejoice that God the Father looks at me and sees Jesus instead of my broken, sinful self. All glory to Jesus!

A can of worms has been opened and poured out. I know. I have offended a LOT of people. I know. But I am truly not ashamed. I love Jesus and I am called by Him to love everyone no matter what’s going on in their life. Jesus was always hanging out with those who were far from God. As Christians, we should be loving on people and also being honest about our beliefs. Does that mean we should shove our beliefs on others? Nope. Does it mean we should stand on the street corner and scream at people and tell them they are going to hell? Nope. It just means we should be humble, loving and compassionate toward others. If someone asks you what you believe about something, tell them. If they are offended by it they shouldn’t have asked you. Let’s grow up and just be real!

One Year Later- Remembering a Friend

A year ago I lost a close friend. A man that I admired as a husband, father, and a pastor. The other day I was going through my text messages and found that I still had not deleted my messages from him. I don’t know if this is weird or sad. I am really not sure how to look at it. A part of me wants to keep the messages to remind me and encourage me how to be a better husband, worship leader, and man in general. I found myself getting emotional about how much I miss hanging out with him and learning from him. He taught me more about being a worship leader than anyone I have ever known. He was humble and he was all about bringing glory to Jesus. I pray that I can become half the man that Andrew Pray was.

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One year later and so much has changed. My perspective on life has changed. My perspective on worship has changed. My perspective on ministry in general has changed. I have wrestled with my calling more in the last 12 months than ever before. God has been faithful time after time and I am so grateful.

The lessons that I have learned from Andrew have outlived him. I have learned things a year from his passing that I didn’t know he was teaching me. That might seem strange, but it’s true nonetheless. Communication, preparation, leadership, love, anticipation, energy, humility, and so much more.

For now I will keep the messages. They help me to see how far I have come and help me to continue to grow in my walk with Jesus. It really is amazing how quickly this year has come and gone when I really think about it. Life is short for all of us– weather we live to be 30 or 100. When we look back 5 or 10 years, they all seem like they flew by. “Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!” (Psalm 39:5)

So this holiday season I will be remembering a friend and I will be thanking God for allowing me the opportunity to serve along side him and glean wisdom from him.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Are You Ready?

A while back I took some time during my lunch hour to watch a Coldplay show. I have to say that Coldplay is an extremely talented, entertaining group. Here were my takeaways:

1. Great songwriting.
2. These guys can inspire people.
3. The creativity in this show is stellar.
4. The people in the crowd know how to worship.

The crowd/audience at this show was going absolutely nuts for Coldplay. They were singing every word to every song. They would even keep singing when the song was over!

Here is what I know about concert attendees (myself included): we show up to the venue expecting something amazing to happen. I know that’s what goes through my head when I’m waiting in line to see my favorite bands. I often ask myself, “what are they going to do that was different than last time I saw them. I wonder how they are going to incorporate their new songs…”

Here is my biggest takeaway from watching the Coldplay show– what if our worship gatherings at our churches were as powerful as this Coldplay show? No, I’m not saying that the band at your church has to sound like Coldplay, it’s not about that. I am talking more along the lines of audience/crowd participation. If Coldplay were playing to an empty stadium, this show I was watching would have been decent, but not great. The crowd singing and jumping, lifting their hands and shouting is what makes the show memorable; for the audience and for the band.

What if we arrived at our church gatherings on Sunday with this type of mindset: “God is about to do something amazing. I can’t wait to see it! God is in the house, the Holy Spirit is going to move, and lives are going to be changed through the power of Jesus Christ!”

Let’s be honest, we have more reason to celebrate than any concert attendee EVER! We get to celebrate, sing, shout, and dance for our Savior who died for our sins and is ALIVE TODAY! Jesus gets the worship and praise–not Coldplay, not any band or preacher. That alone should excite us to no end! Are you ready for Sunday?? Let’s have church!

Is The Music You Listen To Bad?

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Over the past few months I have really been striving to dive more into scripture and also striving to have an honest pursuit of my Jesus. To be completely honest–being a Christ follower is HARD! Throughout this process, I have noticed so many inconsistencies with what Scripture teaches and how Christians in our day live/act. What a stark contrast.

I am going to use an example that hits very close to home for me. I have been a HUGE fan of the band 30 Seconds To Mars. I bought every record, I spent hundreds of dollars on their music, tickets, and little videos they have put out over the years. I supported them 100%. That is, until I started to look at how they compare to what my world view SHOULD be. Here are some lyrics from the THIS IS WAR album released in 2009:

“I believe in nothing
One hundred suns until we part
I believe in nothing
Not in sin and not in God

Obviously I do not agree with these lyrics. What was my solution? I would just skip this song each time it would come on and not think much about it.

Well, what about these lyrics:

“Found my faith, living in sin
I’m no Jesus but neither are you my friend
I’m a whore above the broken dreams
This simple answer is never what it seems
Sold my soul, from heaven into hell
Sick as my secrets, but never gonna tell
Lock the blame, burden of my dreams
Cause of faith in a blessing I believe”

Again these lyrics completely go against my belief system. Why not just spend more money on the band and buy their NEXT album? SURE! So I did, even though it was called “Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams”

Let’s take a look at some lyrics from this album:

Bought my fate, straight from hell
A second sight has paid off well
For a mother, a brother and me”

I danced with a million devils.
Died from a life of sin.
Made love to a million angels.
Murdered a million men.
There will be blood.

So the question I had to honestly ask myself was, “why am I supporting a band that is blatantly against my morals and more importantly my God?” Not to mention how sexual and perverse the lyrics of these albums are. When we read in Ephesians 5 we see Paul telling us this,

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them;  for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light.” Ephesians 5:1-14.

Looks like there is a HUGE difference between what the Word of God says and what I as a “Christian” was actually taking part in and supporting. The verse above calls us to EXPOSE the darkness and that is really what my intentions are in this post.

I remember several times after I had been playing the songs off the “THIS IS WAR” album in our home that my wife and I talked about the songs sounding like worship songs. Even a friend of mine that heard it playing in the background of the car one time asked if it was a worship record. Well, it is. Unfortunately, the songs are not worshiping Jesus, they are worshiping sex, lust, humanity, self, and demons.

This entire post may come across as “legalistic.” That’s not my intention I assure you. I am really calling all my Christian brothers and sisters to really start thinking about what you are filling your mind with. What songs are you singing? What groups are you supporting with your money, time, affections? I believe this is a much LARGER problem in the Church than we think. Think about some of the most popular songs you hear on the radio. Sex is the main topic or product being sold. Don’t get me wrong, there are actually some really great songs out there that are pretty wholesome. I love music, and I love great songwriting. I just do not think it’s right for me to support artists that worship sex, self, and other false saviors.

What do YOU think? Is it ok for a “Christian” to listen to music like this? Is the music we listen to really bad for us or is this not really that big an issue?