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!

The Older I Get, The More I Feel It

Oftentimes when I am speaking to someone I use the phrase, “the older I get, the more I realize…” I don’t believe  I’m an “old man” by any means, but I am learning more and more with each passing day.

Here is my list for today:
The older I get…
…the more I realize how far I still need to go. Whether that’s in my walk with Jesus or the way I lead my family. I’ve a long way to go!
…the harder it is to stay up late. Obviously having a toddler does not help this issue, but I’d honestly rather get up early and enjoy the day than stay up late. The older you get the more you understand it’s not worth it. Thanks to streaming, I don’t have to stay up and watch The Walking Dead live anymore.
…the more precious time with my family becomes. My son is already walking and talking! I remember when he could barely lift his own head, let alone jump up and down and dance whenever he hears drums.

That’s all for now. Time really does fly and the older I get the more I feel it.

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!

Sooner Or Later

Yep, I have jumped back onto the Social Media bandwagon. I was away from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for almost 3 months. Originally I wanted to stay away for about 6 months, but without going into too many details, that didn’t happen.

Being away from social media has been a very interesting ordeal. There were definitely times that I felt “out of the loop.” For the most part, it wasn’t that much different living without the twitter/facebook feeds. Living without actually caused me to read and/or listen to more beneficial media.

Over the past week or so I have been working my way back into the virtual world. It has been interesting to see how quickly I can become annoyed with what people are so consumed and pre-occupied with. Here are my initial findings from taking a break from Social Media and what I discovered along this little journey:

– I took WAY less photos on my phone. When I did, it was to share them with my wife or friends via messaging services.

– I was constantly asked if I saw what so-and-so posted on Facebook. Which the answer was no, so then I felt somewhat out of the loop and out of touch.

– After the first couple of days finding myself naturally going to my apps that were not on my phone, I resorted to checking sports scores and reading the Bible much more often than before.

I hope that as I stick my toe in the social waters I can be more intentional with my offerings. Instead of posting photos of random food, coffee (I’ll try but I’m not making any promises), or other randomness, I hope to post things that help people.

What do I mean by help people? Well, when I read posts from pastors I follow, fellow worship leaders, etc, I get inspired. Inspired to be a better follower of Jesus, a better husband, and a better leader in general. That is what I hope to accomplish. Sure, I may fail miserably, but at the end of the day I am not sure Jesus is going to ask me when I finally see Him in glory, “well, I would let you spend eternity with me, but that photo on your Instagram of your new coffee was just too much.”

So that being said, prepare yourself for my failure. But again, I am going to TRY and be more intentional about my posts.

I would definitely encourage everyone to take a season away from Social Media every now and then. It will be somewhat hard at first, but before you know it, you are not even concerned with what Bob ate for dinner any longer.