Sunday, August 26, 2012

We've Moved To Wordpress!

After growing increasingly tired of Blogger (not a usual thing for me to be dissatisfied with a Google product...) and all of its limitations, I'm moving it all over to Wordpress. You can find it at LeaningToLive.

If you've subscribed to posts via our RSS, you'll need to manually add the Wordpress one. Sorry, there's no way around it.


Looking forward to sharing more of our lives with you!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Marriage Is Such a Silly Thing

Shelli and I recently celebrated our two-year anniversary, and I think we are still learning how truly blessed and in love we are.

One thing I love about my wife and our marriage is how much fun and laughter we have. In high school I was always drawn to how bubbly and fun-loving Shelli's personality was, and she's the type of person to bring that out in others. I met her just at the time that I was starting to "grow up"... if you know what I mean. I was starting to become too cool for things like band, and cartoons, and being nice to people around you. But it didn't take long for her to break me of this.

And now after so many years of being friends, we continue to enjoy the fruits of the friendship we cultivated. One of my all-time favorite things to do is laugh. Not chuckle, or crack up, but that hardcore, gut-busting laughter that brings tears to your eyes and makes it hard to breath. Today that happened...


All because we just love to have fun. And it wasn't because of anything special except that we like to be silly. I'm sure if somebody else was watching us than they would have thought we were stupid. But we have such a freedom with each other, such a vulnerability with one another, that we just take life with joy.

Our silliness is something we will never lose. I can remember times in high school after a good laugh and Shelli would ask me... "Chris. Do you ever think we'll stop being so silly?"

To which I would always reply, "We haven't yet. Why would we stop?"

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Lessons in Worship Leading

In the last few weeks, God has really transformed my take on Praise and Worship.

Leading worship is one of those things that I'm not sure if it will continue to be just another thing I do and eventually stop, or if I will continue to really pour myself into it. I have so many different interests that I can see it falling away. Not that I don't enjoy it or feel called to it, because I do, but God has given me so many different passions that I'm not sure which ones He will have me focus on in the future. For the time being, though, I'm learning so much.

Powerful time of worship in Myanmar!
A little background... for the last several years I've learned the guitar. I never had much musical talent, so I've had to work exceptionally hard to get where I am. Also, I've never taken lessons. What I know I've picked up from close observation of those that I look up to. Fortunately in college, all of my best friends were incredible at guitar. This really spring-boarded me to where I am today (thanks guys!). But its always been for the purpose of worship. I don't desire to make it in the music industry, or even get recognized.

I just do it for the purpose of worship.

Sure, I'd love to lead, I've had some people prophecy that over me, and I've even done a little bit of leading. But for now, I'm content with learning what God wants to show me.

In recent years, though, I've been consumed with improving my musical ability. This has been good, and bad. At church services or similar venues, I would closely watch the leader to see what he does to make it so good, to usher in the presence of God for everyone to experience. And then I'd practice it. Except, times that I've tried to mimic those things (because they worked when So-and-so did it, it should work for me right?), yet God wouldn't seem to show up. haha So naive!

Then a few weeks ago I went on a mission trip to Myanmar (formerly Burma). While joining a Bible college for a revival service I realized how much grace is involved in worship. As we entered the dingy room I noticed a keyboard player and three worship leaders. That's it, along with a roomful of believers.

And then it happened...

The keyboardist kicked on a drum beat that had been pre-recorded, and then played simple chords on top of it. And then the leaders began leading us in worship, and it was the most extravagant, passion-filled worship service I'd ever experienced! And to be honest, it didn't even sound that good! But God's presence showed up sooo thick! I know it wasn't a fluke, because we had several services at this Bible college and every one was the exact same experience. Simple worship, terrible sound, yet God's presence was so evident.

This was just the beginning of what God wanted to show me.

As far as music goes, its pretty obvious that there are songs that tug on the heart, and those that don't. There are some songs that seem to really carry an anointing, and others that do not. Or so I thought...

In my mind I would almost rate worship bands according to which ones I thought were more anointed, or good at inviting in the presence of God (Jesus Culture, Hillsong, etc.). And I would focus on learning from them and mimicking them. And even while practicing for church (playing electric) I would try and do something close or even identical to these major worship bands.

I mean, they sound really good and God's blessed their ministry with an incredible anointing... right? So it only makes sense to pick up on their tricks and habits.

Except I've been misguided.

After witnessing truly anointed worship leaders, I'm realizing that it has so much more to do with the grace of God than it does professionalism, or technicality, or even song selection. I've seen anointed worship leaders lead old songs, seriously, old songs... yet God's presence just shows up! I've seen anointed worship leaders make mistakes, glaring mistakes... yet God's presence shows up even greater! I've seen anointed worship leaders do brand new songs (not by Jesus Culture or Hillsong)... yet God's presence continues to show up!

What's the deal? And why doesn't it seem like this works for me?

For too long I've focused on 'sounding good' and doing the 'right things,' and have missed the most important aspect of leading worship. I've focused more on what songs to choose, or how to transition into the next key, instead of realizing... that it doesn't matter!

It doesn't matter, if your sound equipment is sub-par, or even if you have any for that matter...

It doesn't matter, if you lead/play new or old songs...

It doesn't matter, if you dim the lights, build during the bridge, or have an awesome instrumental...

It doesn't matter, if you do everything right, musically...

What does matter is realizing that God is in control. What does matter is setting aside everything you think makes for a good worship service, and focus rather on the presence of God. Because without this, its all in vain.

God's presence revealed at another service in Myanmar.
As a worship leader - I feel that God is revealing to me that if I want to lead people into His presence - I need to focus and trust less in the anointing of a certain song (or the artist/band that wrote the song in the first place) and focus entirely on cultivating worship in my own heart and growing in my own anointing as a worship leader.

(Yet I feel the key to growing in my own anointing is by worshiping in spirit and truth and NOT merely because I want to be more anointed. - Does that make sense?)

Then when I lead worship I can make mistakes, hit wrong chords, choose old songs that have been way overplayed...

yet God will show up. He will move people's hearts. He will give them a new revelation of His love.

This is such an exciting journey to be on! Its a win-win situation. If God calls me to focus elsewhere and I don't lead worship anymore, it doesn't matter because I've cultivated worship in my own heart for the sake of Him, not because I want to use it to lead others. And if God calls me to continue in leading worship, than the anointing to reveal His presence to others will only grow.


EDIT - I do want to mention that seeking professionalism, technicality, and better musicianship are valuable and shouldn't be abandoned. However, if this becomes the focus than it does more damage than good.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

2012 Summer Recap

So we've just finished an awesome summer!

After teaching some summer school at GCFS right after school, we flew to Ohio. There we spent three weeks having a great time with family and friends and took a road trip to New York to see Brian and Jane's wedding before boarding a flight back to Seoul for two days in preparation for our week in Myanmar with New Philadelphia church. It all went by so fast, by I did my best with pictures and video to put together this recap of our time at home.


A funny story about Brian's wedding...

I was one of the groomsmen. Before coming back to the US, Brian took us to a tailor in Itaewon to get our suits fitted. They were so nice! Long story short, fifteen minutes before we were supposed to walk up to the alter for the ceremony, I dropped my wedding ring and bent down to pick it up. That's when I heard a "riiiiiiiiiiiiiiip!" Oh snap!

My suit pants ripped right down my butt-crack!

Even worse was that I didn't even get down far enough to get my ring! haha So down I go again... "riiiiiiiiiiiiiip" again! But this time I got my ring. I ran back to the changing room and had another groomsmen problem solve with me to come up with worst-case scenarios. Luckily, the wedding planner had a sewing kit on her - and she did her best. But the pants were just too badly torn.

This is where I learn that the Lord provides!

Just then I remembered that in my bag I had brought a pair of kaki jeans that I had only purchased the week before. They weren't an identical match... but they were close enough! I was sweating throughout his entire wedding hoping that nobody noticed... haha!

In the end things turned out okay and I didn't ruin the wedding. But I was sweatin' bullets during it!

*Stay tuned for some reflections from our recent trip to Myanmar - it was one for the books!