Unbelievable!

I will keep this short, but I just wanted to share a few thoughts about Celebrate America from Saturday night. In the video below, you’ll see one of the highlights, which was supposed to happen a bit differently than it did, but I was the beneficiary of a happy mishap. What you’re about to see was supposed to happen before my song started, but as it turned out, it happened while I was singing. It was an incredible moment for me, and I think you’ll get an idea of how charged up the audience was in how it worked out. I’ll never forget it.

I’m hearing estimates of over 14,000 people attended Celebrate America Saturday night, and I’m pretty confident they all left happy. I’m proud of our church and all the volunteers who participated to make it happen. I’m blessed to have been a small part of it.

I’m sure more videos will hit the internet as we go, so maybe I’ll post some more as I discover them. But I did want to share this moment with you.

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Celebrating America

It’s that time again. Tomorrow night, thousands of people from all over Northern California will descend upon Twin Oaks Park in Rocklin, CA to celebrate this amazing country. There will be some very fun moments for the entire family throughout the afternoon and into the night. There will also be several poignant moments which surely will cause your heart to stir with emotion and pride.

The United States of America is a relatively young country when compared to many which have ancient histories. Some of our history is rather unflattering. Such is the nature of our human existence. Our greatest strength is also our greatest vulnerability. 

Freedom.

In this land of ours, we are free to pursue our God-given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Throughout our history, heroes have laid down their lives as a sacrifice to provide us with, and to defend our freedom. Ironically, were it not for those who have heroically and selflessly put themselves in harm’s way, people would not have the freedom to stand up and protest and criticize the very foundation upon which this country was built.

In God We Still Trust

At Celebrate America Saturday night, I am blessed to be singing solos in two wonderful songs. The first is one I’ve sung many years, Hero For Today. The second song is new to me, but it has quickly captured my heart. The song is called In God We Still Trust. The message is very close to my heart, and has been the subject of more than one post here on Crossing Paths. Many take offense to the presence of God in the foundation of our great country. Many point to the imperfections of our founding fathers, and their faith in God, in an effort to justify their pursuit to secularize and neuter this unique nation. As believers, we must stand up and let our voices be heard that we will not quietly and passively allow the mortar in our country’s foundation, faith in God, to be removed systematically. The underwhelmingly small number of nay sayers have rattled the cages of the majority. In the ironic and completely inaccurate guise of “tolerance”, they have shown absolutely no sensitivity to the overwhelming majority who love this country and believe in the moral fiber woven into stars and stripes by the blood of our Savior, and the men and women who have sacrificed their own lives.

I cannot wait to sing these songs, as well as the many others which will serve as a reminder of what our country is all about. This is not a political rally. People of all races, religions and political ideologies will make up the crowd of patriots tomorrow night. This is a night to put all our differences aside, and celebrate what unites us. Even if you don’t subscribe to the idea that is “one nation under God”, hopefully you can respect that those of us who truly seek to emulate the values and practices of Jesus Christ, genuinely love this country and those who don’t share our beliefs. We simply wish that those who disagree with us would show “tolerance”. But even if they hate us, we still love America. We are tenacious about protecting and practicing the freedom purchased for us on battlefields both here and abroad, as well as on the cross. 


I hope you’ll join us tomorrow night for Celebrate America! For more information, including details about our very special musical guest, four time female vocalist of the year, Natalie Grant, please visit www.CelebrateAmericaOnline.com.


God bless you, and God bless the United States of America!

 

What’s with miserable people?

As a lifelong single guy, and as a man of faith and family values, I simply cannot find any level of understanding of the person who seems solely motivated by bringing misery to the lives of people they once loved. I have seen the emotional, spiritual and even physical rubble they leave in their wake, like a debris field left behind by a devastating tornado.

When I was in college, I’d return to my dorm room in the afternoons after class to lie down on my bed to relax a bit. For a little background noise, I’d turn on my 13 inch black and white TV. It was only able to pull in one station, so that meant I was resting to the melodramatic tales of the Brady and Horton families on Days of Our Lives. I was often bemused by the fact that the shows villains, most notoriously Victor Kiriakis and Stefano DiMera, had unlimited wealth…and apparently time, to obsess on ruining the lives of everyone in town. What was entertaining to some, apparently, is so sadly the tragic reality to so many.

I’m not so surprised that there are people out there who are like this. I’m surprised by how many there are! Throughout my adult life, I have heard story after story of people, men and women, who have such hatred in their hearts that they literally seek out ways to ruin the days of the lives of those they once loved. They have no regard for the collateral damage they leave in their wake. They have no concern for destroying friendships. They don’t care about using others in their evil plans. They even use their children and parents as shields behind whom they hide.

I know some of you are yelling at your computer screens right now trying desperately to tell me there are always two sides to every story.

I know.

But under no circumstances are these actions appropriate. As a Christian, this is easy to substantiate by referencing the bible as a standard. But even those who shun God, Christianity or any other faith, it simply is unacceptable human behavior to methodically dismantle the lives of others. Ruining someone’s day does not add a single thing to the life of the miserable. They’re not satisfied. They’re not happy. They’re still miserable. All they’ve done is simply added another despicable act to their resumé.

These people don’t understand why they’re miserable, and astonishingly, don’t understand why they never find true happiness. If they were to look back at their lives, they would see a pattern of broken relationships. They would be able to see the rubble they’ve left behind on their path to today. It’s not uncommon for them to pick up and leave a place to “start over” in another. But one thing remains the same.

Themselves. 

Tragically, miserable people will remain so no matter where they go, what they’re doing, or who they’re with. Miserable people are always out to serve themselves. They’re not looking for happiness as much as they’re looking to serve their own best interests, no matter who it hurts, or to what degree. The only way miserable people will ever overcome their condition is to do what, to them, is unthinkable. They must allow themselves to serve something bigger than themselves. Miserable people have an over inflated view of themselves. The key to their freedom is in gaining a proper perspective of themselves. 

We are all children of the most high God. Even miserable people are precious in His sight. If you know someone who is like this, pray for them. Be careful not to get caught up in their web of deceit. Be cautious not to be manipulated and used. Exercise wisdom and tough love. Perhaps God wants to use you, perhaps He wants you to simply pray for them from a distance. 


Whatever you do, don’t let their misery become your misery.

 

Saturday Rerun: October 7, 2008 on the topic of Worry

It’s been nearly 2 years since I wrote the post below. It’s encouraging to “hear” my own voice as I was at that phase of my life. As background, I had been in my new home town for 3 months. My mom was, to the best of our knowledge at the time, in fairly good health. I was just a couple weeks away from landing a new job. Life was uncertain, but I had my faith. Little did I know what the coming months would have in store for me.

But God knew.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Worry, Enemy of Confidence

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”
~Matthew 6:25-27

Worry is a cancer. It consumes confidence, logic and faith. It’s paralyzing to better judgment. It’s the engine of panic. Worry is an accuser. It puts thoughts in your head which war against logic and faith. Worry tries to tell us that the worst is bound to happen. It tells us we don’t deserve the very best.
I have often joked about being born into a long line of worriers. My grandmother on my mom’s side was the queen bee of worry. When I would talk to her, whether by phone or in person, she would ask me a familiar litany of questions. Was I eating ok, do I still have a job, is my car working, and so on. This is no exaggeration. When I would assure her that things were fine and there was nothing to worry about…that would worry her.

I was not raised by my grandmother, but my mom was. My mom is a woman of great faith. She is a prayer warrior. A strong woman. But when it comes to her children, she takes on the familiar tone of my grandmother.

Worry is a battleground for us. Read the paper and watch the news today. You will see that worry is gripping our nation. For me, 2008 has been a buffet of life issues which could cause one to lose their minds and faith with worry. But I’m pleased to say that I have honestly and consciously pressed in to my faith in order to see myself through. But lest I feel I have permanently conquered this psychological menace, God reminds me that in some areas in my life, there are still battles to be won.

I have said it many times. There are many things we can control, and a great many more which we cannot. In the past several months, I have taken the bull by the horns and made some significant strides in making some tweaks and adjustments to things within my control. The true test comes when you can honestly let go of the things you can’t. When it came to my job search in my new town, I think I did pretty well. I did all that I could to position myself for God’s blessing. In finding a church and getting involved in ministry, I did the same thing. I’ve even undergone some more personal transformation in shedding some weight and heading back toward a physical standard to my liking.

Faith requires discipline. Worry is the complete absence of faith and discipline. Walking in faith, walking in confidence that God is with us and will never leave us or forsake us, can be as natural to us as breathing.

I am created in God’s image. Psalm 139 goes into great detail about the degree of insight and familiarity He has with every microscopic detail of my being. Who am I to question my Creator? What do I hope to gain by worrying?

Today is a new day. His mercies are new every single day. And today, worry has no place in my life.

Let your inner child out to play

It has been a good, long time since I’ve had a vacation. Forget vacation. Even a weekend away. During this era and the economy, a new word has hit the mainstream.

Staycation.

There’s nothing wrong with that, I’m sure. But for me, I needed some new scenery for a change. 

In February of 2009, I wrote a post referencing many things which happened the year of my last trip to Disneyland, 1996. I’m happy to say that I finally ended the drought! I finally returned to the Happiest Place on Earth, and it was very much as I had left it, but also very different. I know I’m very different than I was in 1996.

I have to admit to you, about the instant I went through the turnstile to enter the park, I began to giggle like a little kid. I even spontaneously let out a “hee hee”. No one has ever heard that sound emanate from me. You know what? I didn’t care.

Life can be serious. It can be very difficult at times. It can happen so easily that we allow ourselves to become overwhelmed with the things that demand so much attention and time. At the same time, we must afford ourselves opportunities to stop and smell the roses. When was the last time you stopped to just look at the sunset? When was the last time you hopped through puddles like you did when you were 9? What was the last truly spontaneous thing you did that was even a little out of character?

We get so caught up in being grown ups that we lock up our inner child. We get so focused on all of our responsibilities that we become less effective at them while we’re running our bodies, minds and spirits into the ground. Let your inner child out once and awhile. No, it won’t change circumstances, but it will rejuvenate you. Leave your troubles behind for a couple days. The world will not stop rotating if you take a few days away.  

For me, Disneyland was the perfect getaway. From the first ride to the last, from Fantasmic to the Aladdin show at California Adventure, I let myself have fun. I giggled like a little boy. I laughed out loud like I just didn’t care who heard me. I stared in awe at the artistry of the place. My heart skipped a beat when I saw little children look into the faces of their favorite Disney characters.

Life is incredible. Don’t let it pass you by.