Service of Prayer, Reflection, and Imposition of Ashes

Worship Spirit of the Living God
Worship Spirit of the Living God

Here are a few shots from our service last night. For me personally it was a physically and emotionally draining day, but a good one. I always like this particular service for the mere fact it starts a time of reflection and prayer, which moves our focus toward what’s really the greatest celebration of the year, Easter.

Last night was more about recognizing our own brokenness, our own mortality, and coming in a posture of humility to the Creator with our lives. It is still amazing to me how busy we get, how filled our schedules become, and in that business we often lose touch with the reason for our ultimate existence and why we do what we do.

Josh Agerton Reads from the Psalms
Josh Agerton Reads from the Psalms
Dustin Adams Playing Guitar
Dustin Adams Playing Guitar
Chandler Serves the Imposition of Ashes
Chandler Serves the Imposition of Ashes

Church and Amazing Lyrics of How Deep the Father's Love for Us

Cornerstone Church at Lee-Scott Band Warmup

Cornerstone Church at Lee-Scott Drummer Warmup for Worship

The shot above was one I took while the band was warming up for worship this morning. I never get tired of being around the worship band and their practices. It is just as much a part of worship to me as when the official worship time begins. This church location, our second site, has been meeting in a basketball gym since February, and I love how it forces us to look at church from a new perspective again.

One of the songs we sung today, a modern hymn called How Deep the Father’s Love For Us by Kings Kaleidoscope on their album Sin, which was original written by Stuart Townend many years ago, has become one of my favorites because of the amazing lyrics and how it was written. It was released almost 2 years ago at this point but every time I read this poem, or listen to it being sung, it just hits home why we believe what we believe.

As mere created beings we can’t possibly fathom how deep God loves us, but the part that always rests with me is when the writer says “I hear my mocking voice, call out among the scoffers.” What an incredible thought to process and ponder. You can listen to the song from a link at the top of this post, but the rest of it goes like this:

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that left Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

I guess everyone has different stretching points in words and in music that makes them emotionally tied to one work over another. This one for me brings out the beauty and sadness in sacrifice for someone who finally gets it. I love that we can worship a God this great, through these words, and do it with a basketball goal above our heads.

How Deep The Father's Love For Us

We used this modern day hymn in our service this past Sunday and the lyrics were just incredible to me… the line “I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers” really puts an emphasis on God’s love for us. I know the song is about 10 years old at this point but still well worth reading the words below.

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that left Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

The Friday Night Lights Live Album Recording :: Friday Feet

Today’s Friday Feet comes from a live album recording here at Cornerstone Church in Auburn. I will probably post a few more photos of the shoot tomorrow but for now, here is a smattering of feet and music from the night. The live recording took place over two nights, last night and tonight, and was the first live worship recording for an album our band has completed.

I love the privilege of getting to worship throughout the week and not just on Sunday, or at least in the manner we do on Sunday. This was a special night in many respects, and I enjoyed the unique experience of getting to shoot and worship at the same time. The shot of the guitar 3 images down serves today as my Project 365 [Day 3] image (see the rest of P365.me :2012 here). Have a great weekend all.

Celebrating the Life of Erin Stephens Today at Cornerstone

This week our church lost a dear friend as the Lord brought home Erin Stephens. Erin touched this church and the Auburn community in so many ways, and this was quite evident by how many people came to say goodbye to her today. It was a privilege for me to be a part of that and I felt quite blessed to be able to share this time with her family. It’s always amazing to be able to celebrate a life lived for Christ, and that’s what we did. Her service was as she requested to her husband and family, a celebration of her life and a time of worship. One of my favorite verses from was read, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die”, from John 11:25 along with a great message of encouragement from Rusty. We also sang How Great Thou Art, I Will Rise, and You’re Beautiful, a great song of worship by Phil wickham from the Cannons album. I love the last verse of that song, which says…

When we arrive at eternity’s shore
Where death is just a memory and tears are no more
We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring
Your bride will come together and we’ll sing
You’re beautiful

Here are a few photos from today’s worship. It really was beautiful.

The Mike Fisher and a Gibson Guitar at Cornerstone

The Photo of the Day today is of Mike Fisher who got his first chance to play guitar with the main worship band. It was pretty cool to see Mike playing with the worship band today, and although there is always almost no light in the worship area it does make for a more dramatic shot. I love the low light stuff, deep shadows and small reflections, like the light bouncing off Mike face in the second shot. Congrats on your gig this week Mike, keep moving forward.

Last Few Instrumental Photos from the National Polka Festival

Here are two more instrumental shots from last weekend’s 2011 National Polka Festival from Ennis Texas. You can also see the NPF gallery on Flickr. These are two of my favorite shots of the weekend, one being the corner edge of a steel guitar. These were both taken handheld from about 20 feet away from both instruments, while they were being played. If you are interested in the EXIF data on the images just head over to the Flickr gallery.

National Polka Festival in Ennis Texas 2011 and It's Age at 45

Last night started the 45th Annual National Polka Festival from Ennis, Texas. I’m not going to post a bunch of photos here on my blog but you can see the photos on my Flickr Set for the National Polka Festival.  This festival is something we try to go to every year, and it’s an event Deborah has gone to since she was about 3 or 4 years old. Unfortunately it hasn’t changed much since she was 3 or 4 years old, but it’s still quite fun to celebrate her Czech heritage with others. I just wish the promoters and people in charge of marketing the festival would recognize we are no longer in the 1970’s and make a better attempt to pass along an important event and heritage to the younger generation. It’s time!

I’m not in charge of course but I do work in communicating a message, communicating a way of life that has to be passed from one generation to another in order to survive, and there are some similarities to this and my own ministry. I totally understand their desire to maintain tradition, and that’s important, but each year that goes by the festival promoters attempt to remember the past, not necessarily the traditions, and do nothing to bring in the youngest generation.

Case in point, I go to the SOKOL (the starting hall last night), open Foursquare, no venue checkin. Fine, I create one, take a pic, upload it, now I’m Mayor (haha). I take some photos, go to upload them to Flickr. There is no Flickr group, so I create one (Polka Festival). The only pics on Flickr that show up are from 2 years ago when I posted them, ok, I’ll post a few more. There is no chatter on Twitter, none on Facebook (none that I can find officially from the NPF website, thought they do have a Facebook page, very commendable), and zero, I mean zero computers or other connected devices at the event. Of course there is no wifi (I brought my own) so it wouldn’t make much sense to have a “device” anyway. And, not to embarrass anyone at all, but, all you have to do is take one look at the National Polka Festival website and you get the whole picture. I mean really, come on guys, pay some high school kid $250 to update your website? Do a google search for the “National Polka Festival” and after the official site I’m number 2 and 3 on Google’s list, and I have nothing to do with the festival at all. So far, what they did do differently is bring in a “magician” for the weekend. It would take a whole completely different blog post to explain the things I think are wrong about that, but oh well. We have given it several years and we will probably not come back after this 2011 festival, instead opting to go to Nebraska where at least it will be a new experience.

I say none of this to chastise the festival but in an attempt to give them an outside, objective, perspective on the festival in hopes they will embrace the younger generation so it won’t completely die off… and I’m NOT the younger generation just in case they are reading this, I’m over 40, so you need to be ahead of what I’m talking about. I’ll get off my soapbox now, that’s my free advice to the NPF people in charge.

So, today there is a parade, venders, and Czech dancing and food at all three halls. I will be sure to ruin my diet by eating all the great German and Czech food available, and I’m sure we will enjoy our time at the festival today. For photos of the event just check out my Flickr page. You can also see posts from the previous years 20102009Saturday Parade 200820082007Saturday 2006, and 2006.

To Feel God You Must Believe in Him

This has been one of these craziest few weeks in our house in years, and for the first time in what feels like forever, some routine and normalcy is slowly returning. I finally had a chance to just read again for a short while this morning, and I came across this explanation that Mstislav Rostropovich gave in how to listen to music. Although he was talking about music, I think he can use God and music interchangeably in this explanation.

There is a philosophy which says that in order to feel God, you must begin to believe in Him, just as in order to feel the warmth of a stove, you must come close to it. This is also true with music. In order to feel its warmth, you must come close to it, and open your heart to it. Sometimes that can be awfully hard work. I know many people who come to concerts buttoned up to the last button, so to speak, and who leave buttoned as well.

But music is not so aggressive that it will come through to you without your help. In order to feel its warmth and beauty, you have to shed your emotional insulation, just as if it were a coat, and prepare to listen with your heart.

-Mstislav Rostropovich