Thursday, September 12, 2013

10 Questions I Have About My New Job

Have you heard I got a new job?
Then you must not follow me on social media.
I've kind of talked about it a lot.
Too Much?
But alas, I continue....

I worked out most of the details regarding my new position during the interview process, but now that I'm only a few days from actually starting, I've realized I have some more important questions about my new position. Most of these are rhetorical and don't require an actual answer. But you Northside folks feel free to answer any that you can.

1- The New Thor movie comes out in early November. Will I have met and friended a group of fellow nerds by then to go see it with me?

2 - Will someone be offended that, instead of the typical "footprints in the sand", I'll have this framed poster hanging in my office?

3 - How many times during the first month will I turn the wrong way off of Street Road when heading to work?

4 - In my 15+ years of driving an hour to work, I've gotten pretty good at getting important tasks accomplished from the car. You have to learn to be productive when you're in the car for 2 hours a day. Now that my commute will only be about 1/3 as long as it used to, when am I supposed to watch all those shows on netflix listen to all those podcasts that I used to while commuting?

5 - Will the Northside family be interested in going to Cricket County?
The cast of Westwood's 2010 play "Christmas in Cricket County"... and my farmer's tan.

6 - I've got to decide which senior adult woman to adopt as my grandmother. How will I figure out who is the best cook? (I know the answer to this one. Eat a meal with them all.)

7 - It is very important  that  I  that my boys figure out who is the candy man. Every church has one right? You've got to know the man who will slip you a piece of candy when you shake his hand on Sunday morning.

8 - Will Gavin and Ethan do well in the Northside children's choir? Their musical tastes are pretty varied.

9 - Who at Northside will Kristi have a "special"* relationship with like she did with Joseph at Westwood?
I know I used this pic yesterday. It's too good not to use again.

10 -  Do the folks at Northside have any idea what they've gotten themselves into?

I know I said 10 questions. But this just has to be included.
11 - On my first night there, someone asked me, in front of the whole church, if people who live in the community where I live "fight your chickens before you cook 'em." I knew right then we'd get along just fine. But still it's worth asking.....

Do I have any idea what I've gotten myself into?

*special = love / hate

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sunday Setlist - September 8th 2013 - Goodbyes, Tears, and Laughs.

I'll admit, this should probably be 3 or maybe even 4 separate posts, but I'd rather just get it all out there because all this happened on the same day.

This past Sunday was my last day on staff at Westwood Baptist Church.
When planning the Sunday morning service, I really wanted to take the focus off of me completely, but it was hard not to pick some of my favorite songs knowing it would be the last time I'd lead them with this group of worshipers.

Here's what we did, and why, along with some video clips. (Thanks to my mother in law, Karen, for the videos)

Special Music: Deep Down (Selah)- Kara Kinnaird, Heather Potts, and myself.
We had done this song together a few times over the past couple years. My life was threatened by at least 4 people if I didn't include it one of my last Sundays.

Days Of Elijah (Darlene Zschech)
I had never heard this song prior to joining Westwood in 2001. It was one of our favorites then and still gets everyone on their feet when we sing it. Such a powerful song that focuses on our returning Savior. I especially love the drum solo we always start with.

My Savior, My God (Aaron Shust)
I picked this one for two reasons..1.It is a solid worship song the church knows well that would be a little more mellow that the previous two songs. 2. Because of the first line of the verse. "I am not skilled to understand what God has willed what God has planned. I only know at His right hand stand one who is my Savior." I teared up for the first time that morning singing that line. Trusting in Him as my family makes this transition.

Welcome / Announcements / Fellowship
As I looked over the announcements to be made, I purposefully skipped mentioning my ordination or farewell fellowship to take place that night. It just felt a little self serving to say anything about it. I was tempted to say "There's some kind of fellowship tonight. I heard rumor that people like cheesecake." But I avoided that temptation and didn't say anything.

One thing that I did out of the ordinary is I paused to take some pics of everyone. I even went as far as to say "Bear with me while I do this. But then again, if you don't like it, what are you going to do? fire me?"
I was not expecting my hands to begin shaking as I took the pics. They started shaking because the realization that this is the last time I'll see this view hit me like a ton of bricks. So I apologize that these pics are so blurry.

Power In His Blood Medley (HYMNS)
This is just an arrangement of hymns that I put together years ago. I love hearing the Westwood musicians jam on this. I wouldn't generally describe them as southern, but they know how to groove on this when asked. Lots of fun and a perfect song of celebration while coming out of a fellowship time.

10,000 Reasons (Matt Redman)
Love this song. Picked it because of all the reasons I have to Praise God.

Offertory Prayer

Choir Special: Saved (Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir)  - Solo by Kara Kinnaird
As soon as knew when my last Sunday at Westwood would be, I asked Kara to sing this song. It's one of my absolute favorites and I love to hear her sing it.

Your Name (Baloche)

Message: Bro. Steve

Invitation: I Surrender All (HYMN)
Closing Chorus: Sing To The King  (Billy Foote)

It was a special day to all, as evidenced by this picture of The Lovely Kristi and Joseph hugging. THIS IS A MIRACLE YA'LL.

That service was very powerful to me. I was encouraged. I was spiritually fed. I was led in worship by the musicians, the choir, the praise team, and the congregation. I am SO thankful for every day I was allowed to serve this church family.

Now on to Sunday night...
Sunday night I was ordained into full time ministry.
I thought it might be emotional because I was leaving but the emotion I felt was also fueled by the seriousness of the service and...
knowing that all these people were praying for me, praying with me, supporting me,
knowing that God had clearly let me know His will and that I was following it,
knowing that my Dad would have been bursting with pride if He had been there,
It was all very moving.

I'll admit... I cried like a baby.
But tried to hide it as I looked towards the floor in prayer most of the time.
(Note To Self: The next time you participate in an ordination service make sure the candidate has tissues nearby in case he becomes a teary/snotty mess.)

I will never forget some of the things the men said to me as they prayed with me.

(I guess I could have laid down on the step and looked a little more like Jabba The Hut. {sigh} Oh well, I guess I'll keep my weight comments for another blog entry.)

I will also never forget the words that my "best good friend" Joseph shared with me as he challenged me during the charge to the candidate.

Not only did he encourage me to be myself and not compare myself to other worship leaders, but he also ended by sort of singing and dancing the song "Brother Friend" including the part where you say "you're my beginning and my end" and point to your butt.
It was precious.
Sorry, no video is available.

The day ended with a farewell fellowship. We were given lots of encouraging words and hugs. We were also given a ton of cards and unexpected gifts. It was a fun time with lots of laughs. But it was also very special for me and my family.

One of my favorite ladies at WBC, Mrs. Elaine Fuller, asked me if I would accept this rose. I'd be a fool not to. I'm definitely going to miss her, Mrs. Olive, Mrs. Maxine, and many others who have been special to me over the years.

As we left there that evening, I walked into the main office, removed my church keys from my key ring, and placed them in my empty office mailbox for the office staff to find the next morning. We walked out of the office with no one else around.
We climbed into the car and started to leave. Instead of just pulling out onto the road, I took a right turn, taking us all the way around the building one last time. The boys asked me what was wrong.
I was crying.
Kristi was crying.
We were holding hands and I drove.
I explained to the boys we were just thinking about the past. This church ministered to us when Ethan was born, when Gavin was born, when Kristi's Grandfather passed away, when my father and grandmother passed away, and every other day over the past almost 13 years that we've been members.
I explained to them how excited I am about our future and about what God is doing with our family.

By the time I was done talking we were almost out on the highway.
I think that's when Kristi said something like...
Can you believe that idiot (Joseph) ended his talk with "Brother Friend?!?"
It was the perfect way to stop the tears and starts the laughs.

This post is part of the blog carnival at You can go here to see what other churches are doing in their services around the world.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Memories, Moving, And Mystery Milkshakes

My multi-career life is quickly drawing to a close.

I have had 2 jobs almost consistently since I was 18. But that streak will end in a few days.

I had my last choir rehearsal with the gang at Westwood Wednesday night. But we didn't sing a single note. Instead, they surprised me with a farewell party. It was fitting, not only because I like to eat, but also because it brought back memories. Ethan was born on a Monday in 2004. I led worship the first time as interim the following Sunday. Within a couple weeks, the choir threw us a surprise baby shower. So you could say we began and ended our time there with food.

Photo credit: Deb Ingram. Cake Credit: Deb Ingram via Edgar's Bakery.
We did eat a lot. But we also laughed a lot remembering the past 9 years.

Those memories kept coming to mind tonight as I cleaned out my office. Apparently I'm a hoarder of sample music from publishing companies. It took me multiple trips to the dumpster to get rid of all of it. But, with the help of The Lovely Kristi and both the boys, we finally got it cleaned out.

The After picture. The Before pic is not suitable for public viewing.
One of the best parts about cleaning out the office was looking through almost a decade of memories.
The Shawn Action figure. It does not include swivel arm battle grip.
This is one of my favorite things on my shelf. Back in 2004 Millie Caffee made a figurine action figure of me including my Penske logo shirt, Birkenstocks, pigeon toes, and hand on my heart as I led worship.

One of the many memorable comment cards I received over the years.
I received this comment card after wearing a Clone Trooper helmet into the service to promote our Fall Festival in 2010. I was glad to have inspired someone in such a powerful way. I'm not sure who wrote this, but I think his name starts with an "A" and ends with an "ustin Cranford".

Another memorable note from a worshiper
Unfortunately, not every note was always encouraging. But in this person's defense, he or she was right. At the time, I was trying to do too many songs. When I focused on better songs and less "filler" songs our services got better. Note: this person's name is not "Happy". I added a random sticker to protect his or her identity.

Warning: The next paragraph gets serious for a minute. One of the best parts of the night though was when we were finished cleaning up. I was overwhelmed. Having just packed up or thrown out almost 10 years worth of ministry stuff was a lot to deal with. I asked my fam to sit with me around the desk and just pray. I thanked God for the wonderful memories, friends, and ministry we'd had there. I thanked Him for blessing us in so many ways. I asked Him to continue to bless Westwood. I prayed for our future church family and ministry at Northside. I think my voice only broke with emotion a couple times. It was a powerful moment that I'll never forget.

Ok, the serious moment is over now.

After everything was packed, The Lovely Kristi headed home and the boys and I stopped for milkshakes at Sonic. I ordered a peanut butter shake. I drank it as I drove home and quickly realized there was something crunchy in it.


Now, I was aware they had a bacon shake. But I had not asked for it. So basically, I got a bacon surprise! After such an emotional night, you know what can help make things all better?
I'll tell you... surprise bacon.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sunday Setlist, September 1st 2013

I knew that making the announcement about my upcoming move would be emotionally difficult, and I was prepared for that. What I was not prepared for is how emotional the services after that would be.
Even though I tried to plan a service without any references being made to it being one of my last Sundays at Westwood, somehow every song made me think about it.
Here's what we did...

Lord Reign In Me (Brenton Brown)
Who Can Satisfy (Brooklyn Tab choir arrangement) This is one of the first songs I remember learning at Westwood when I joined there in 2001. For many years we've done this choir arrangement with the entire congregation singing along. Great memories flood my mind when I hear it.
Welcome / Announcements / Fellowship by Bro. Steve
Included special scholarship recognition for Sabrina Dodd. Congrats Sabrina!!
I Stand Amazed In The Presence (Hymn)
Jesus Messiah (Chris Tomlin)
Offertory Prayer
Choir Special: Walking With The King (Brooklyn Tab) I'd been wanting to do this song for a while and finally decided a few weeks ago to go for it. I'm glad we did. Everyone did a great job on it. I'm gonna miss that choir and orchestra.
More Precious Than Silver (Lynn DeShazo) Pulled out this classic chorus to discuss the first time I realized that real worship is not just singing, it's praying.
Message: Guest speaker: Dr. Don Hawkins
Invitation: Your Name (Paul Baloche)
Closing Chorus: Lord Reign In Me (Brenton Brown)

My favorite moments of the morning were:

  1. While singing Jesus Messiah, as we sang the bridge "All our hope is in You!" I took a moment and really enjoyed watching the church worship.
  2. Before the service, our pianist, Deb, gave me a painting she had painted for me. I love it! I've told the choir many times that sometimes they hit that perfect last note and I just want to "pull a Bugs Bunny". You know know what I mean, where I have them hold a note out and I leave my glove floating in the air while I walk off the stage.

What was your favorite part of the service you attended Sunday?

This post is part of the blog carnival at You can go here to see what other churches are doing in their services around the world.