A look back…

Today is September 4th, 2009. This weekend is the unofficial end to Summer ’09. The question that I have is: “Where the heck did July and August go?” It seemed like we had summer entirely in the month of June. We didnt have any 100+ temps except in June and July and August really just flew by.
With that said, I take a minute of time to look back.
January kicked off with ups and downs. Steph became part of the most talked about statistic this year when her employer “wanted to be fair” and decided it was better for Steph if she let her go to be able to find other opportunities instead of allowing her to take a lesser position that she was willing to take. Thank you for being fair. Because of your “fairness” she has gotten to spend a lot of time doing what she loves to do, write.
February went by quick also. The youth drama production and St. Patty’s day events had a lot to do with it. We were so busy in Feb. getting ready for Unfailing Love that we barely had time to do anything else. That show was the beginning of me waking up and seeing what God is doing. He is moving us in a direction that I have always known but didn’t think I wanted or was ready for. The show was a huge success immediately followed by another success in the St. Patty’s Day talent show. Both were huge fund raisers for our youth ministry.
February was also a turning point in the life of the youth at LMBC. Matt Brewer, our youth minister was called up for active duty in Afghanistan and left for training the last week. LMBC called Greg Chapman to be our interim youth minister for the period that Matt is away. Greg and I butted heads right off the bat but have since worked things out. I may not agree with some of the things he does but he is God’s chosen leader for our group now and I will support him and help out him and our youth anyway I can.
March gave us the opportunity to go with our youth to Student Life tour. It was this event that may have changed my path in life, forever. It was this event that solidified where I see God leading me. Around this time is when I gave up the fight and realized that God is leading me into youth ministry and months later it is only more and more evident that this is the case. We got to hear great messages from Francis Chan and be a part of great worship with Kristian Stanfill. The old guy got to be young again even if just for a few days.
April got off to a busy start also. We began planning for a service just based around worship. We had a guest musicians come in and the drama team did an amazing skit called “Angels” about the angels in heaven looking down on the crucifiction. It was just what I was needing. A serious night of worship. I had been so busy with work and helping out at church, that I had lost worship. I found it again that night along with a lot of other people.
May things started to calm down a bit. We took time off from drama and didnt plan anything huge with the youth. Or so we thought. The youth mission trips needed another female adult to go along with them on their mission trips so Steph volunteered to go to Equador with them in June. God had other ideas. Several of the youth that we have known since our first year at LMBC, were graduating and have now moved on to colleges all over Georgia and the Southeast. Some even going as far as Texas and California.
May also gave us time for a little R&R. We normally go to Pigeon Forge in the fall but this year we were able to go in May. It was a good time to just hang out and not go anywhere or spend any money which is a really good thing. We will still go in October, this was just a good few days to hang out. You could tell it was definitely off season as it was no where near as crowded as it will be in October but a great time still.
June came around and the plans for Steph going to Equador were getting shaky all the time. Neither she nor I had peace about her going for some reason and she eventually backed out. What we didnt realize is that the deposits for Equador were not paid so they would not have been able to go even if she had not backed out. God knows all and always knows what is ahead for us whether good or bad. Steph’s grandmother passed away a couple of days after she was supposed to leave for Equador. She would have been out of the country in an undeveloped region with no way to make it back and I would have not had a way to be there for her. God had a plan and changed ours.
July came and brought about the big 40 for me. Steph had asked me to go to her brother’s house for the 4th to spend time with her sister and my nieces. Every year I have liked to go home for my birthday but since the girls were in town i reluctantly agreed. Steph had even told me that I didnt have to go if I didn’t want to and I almost took her up on it. The 4th came and starting that morning, I was ill, I was cranky and very grumpy. I dont like to swim and didn’t want to spend my birthday at a swim party but we were meeting some of our friends over there too so it wasn’t going to be that bad. We walked in her brother’s house and he was being a COMPLETE jerk. “Where have you been we have been waiting on you to eat bla bla bla” just really pushing my buttons. I walked in listening to him and was about to set down the dishes that we brought and go give him a piece of my mind and really say a lot of things that I shouldn’t have when I turned around and there was a room FULL of my family and friends saying “Surprise!” Steph had been working on this surprise party since early in the year. Brian and Terri had just redone their pool area so it was the perfect place for the perfect party. I am truely blessed to have a wife that would go to this much trouble for me. (Thank you Steph you are the greatest!)
Later that month, the youth again needed a female adult to go on their World Changers mission trip to Cherokee NC. Steph once again stepped up to the plate. However, this time the trip made and they left to roof houses on an Indian reservation. There were moments that she said she was not happy, (food and tubing) but when a young girl was injured and Steph went in to Moma mode, and took care of her and the situation, it made it worth it for her. I was so proud of her for going and thankful that she was there for that girl as others have been in mine and her life in the past. She did what I always want to do and that is make a difference in someone’s life.
August came and went about as fast as it came. The kids at church started back to school and Focus kicked off with a bang. I have new kids working with me in the booth and Steph has written a great musical for the youth to do in January called Damascus Road based on the early life of Paul. A lot of it came from the Bible but she filled in the rest with her creativity and love of musicals. A few weeks ago the choir practice kicked off with their annual road rally. We teamed up with Greg and Emily, who is WAY more competative than the rest of us combined, and even after a trip through the concrete plant, ended up winning for the first time by over 30 minutes. What a great way to kick off the new church year by getting braggin’ rights for a whole year! Truth told it was Emily and Greg that did the work. Steph and I were just in the back seat hanging on.
August also saw a close friend of mine leaving LMBC for Fort Worth TX to go to Southwestern Seminary. Because of our involvement in the youth, I had gotten to be good friends with Clint Hopson. Clint had filled in for Matt while he was away until Greg came on board. Clint is a great man of God with an incredible love of pre 1900 dead writers. He was always encouraging me to read and to look at going with them to TX. As much as I wanted to go, I never had the peace about it and the door never opened. Fortunately, technology has allowed us to remain in contact and I am sure he is a friend that I wont lose anytime soon.
Lately, my job appears to be in a slowdown and that has me not so much worried as it is ready. I don’t know what God is doing but I do know He will take care of us. Steph is still out of work and I dont remember my job ever being this bad, but at the same time my faith in what God is doing and what He has in store for me and Steph, has never been stronger. So being worried about what is now does me no good at all. I am more ready for the next challenge and to move on to where God wants us. In the meantime, I have become a college student again working on my Bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies at Antioch Baptist Bible College. Taking a class on Proverbs is not where I saw myself at 40, but if that is what it takes to get me where God wants me then I’m all for it. Plus the class is really great!
So looking back on 2009 from this moment in time to January 1, it has been a busier year than I can ever remember. I also don’t know of a year where I have felt closer to God than ever before and I don’t remember a time where I was more involved in anything that I enjoyed more. I am so incredibly blessed to have Steph in my life to be my best friend but also to be willing to go with me where ever God leads us. I have not one but 2 great families that support us and help us regardless of the situation and without question or hesitation. Throw in that we go to church at Lost Mountain where we are not only able to serve Christ in capacities that we love doing, but we also belong. People there know us as Keith and Stephanie, (or Mr. and Mrs. White LAUREN) and its our church that we really love.
I don’t know what the future holds, but where ever we go or whatever we do, God is in control.


One Night – The next day

It’s now a little past 4 AM following One Night. We got to the church around 2 PM yesterday and left around 8 PM last night. Once we were home, I crashed. I was exhausted but it was an exhaustion well worth it. In the past week, I had laid out the 3 page flow of the night, gone over it in my head and on the laptop more times than I can count, made 4 stage prop swords, REMADE 1 stage prop sword that was broken in rehearsal, (thanks Zach and Nate) and set up tech equipment for the night. The night was incredible beyond belief.
Sure there were quirks that could have gone better, but in the end, nothing happened that took away from this night. If we would have had 2 more weeks of practice, we would still have quirks but even then none would have taken away from this night. We were all focused on God from beginning to end.
The night opened with a candle lighting representing God the Father, Christ the Son and then the Holy Spirit. We showed scripture of who we worship with “I can only imagine” and then Tatum and the band did I stand amazed. She has an incredible voice and nailed it.
Skitmarks then did scene one of Angels. It was about what the angels were thinking during the crucifixion. Wow! The kids were incredible. The sword fight actually broke another sword. The lights and thunder added so much to the final part. It made it seem so real that the angels were actually watching the events unfold.
The band came back on and did Oh How He loves Us. Once again, the band nailed it. This song is powerful by itself but tonight, it was perfect for the evening. Lead me to the cross followed and the guys brought in the huge cross that was made for the sanctuary.
Skitmarks returned and closed out Angels. This skit, both parts, were powerful enough to be done in the main service but I am so glad that God used them at One Night. It really made the night.
Clint came on and talked about communion. He is an awesome speaker and really put what we were doing into perspective. He showed what the night was really about, worship. Then he opened the alter and everyone had a chance to take communion while the band played Jesus Paid it All. It was great. Once the crowd thinned for communion, everyone in the tech booth took part as well.
Clint then closed out communion with the scripture reading and the band did the best version of Sweep Me Away that I have ever heard. I’m so not a fan of this song until now. Zach described it best, “Sweep me away with a Skynard feel to it, ” lol.
As time was running out, we killed the Oh Praise Him video that we had done before and Greg came up and talked about true worship, being in the word. He is going to be great and do some awesome things at LMBC.
Tatum and the band came back for one more song. I had asked her to tear the roof off of the place with the last song and they did just that with Oh happy day. The kids were called up front and it was really kewl. It was like our own version of student life on a much smaller scale.
Once the night was over, people came up to me and were telling me great job. I appreciated everyone that said that to me but it so wasn’t me. I had such a small part in the night and give all of that credit to God. I am so thankful to have been able to be used in this service and in this way. It gave me a chance to meet some new parents, gave me a chance to minister to some kids, and gave me a night of worship that I will not soon forget.
“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!”
Now to start planning One Night 2010. Do you think Third Day is available?

Dear God,
Now that One Night 2009 is in the books, thank you for the opportunity to be a part of your plan. Seeds were planted, lives were touched, worship was renewed. Last night was all for You.


A Day to Remember…

Today was an Easter to remember. Being an incredibly busy day as it was, we planned to go to the early service at LMBC since Steph was working with the children’s choir during the service. This mean getting up and leaving home around 7 AM. Before the sun rise around here.
The day started a bit earlier for me. Around 4:20 I couldn’t sleep so I got up and started getting the day ready. I charged camera batteries, downloaded SIM cards, got ready and Steph and I left around 7 as planned. On the way to LMBC, we saw the most amazing sunrise that I have seen in a while . I had to stop and get some pics.(pics posted check them out).
I was going early, to watch the kids, but to also set up live video feed through the network to the nurseries. Once we got there the laptops had to be reset but all appeared to be working fine. The first service started and I went to watch the service live, not on the mac.
Seeing our choir is great. We dont have the biggest choir but they do an amazing job. This morning, the children’s choir joined them doing Chris Tomlin’s I will Rise. The song by itself is great but seeing our choirs do it makes it even better. Steph had been teaching the children’s choir the chorus in sign language. When the choir got to the last chorus, they began signing the words. It was incredible. To see those kids worshiping in sign language was overwhelming. God was definately in the house.
After they were done, I returned to check the nurseries and the loft to continue testing the live feed. All was well, or so I thought….
Just before the second service, I checked the feeds again and found both locked up. Sure it had an image but not a broadcast. I ran to the sanctuary, checked with Eddie, reset the broadcast box and still nothing. I ran back into the nursery, which was PACKED by now, checked the IP addresses, checked the broadcast and still nothing. I went back up to the loft to try and get the broadcast working and nothing. The service was about to start and I had no clue. NOT my comfort zone.
I ran back to the nursery to double check the IP address and as soon as I walked in, the feed started up. I ran to the other room and it was working too! So I ran back up the stairs to the loft, and yep, the mac was going too! God worked it out, not me. The multiple nurseries and nursery workers got to watch the Easter service while taking care of the kids. They were very grateful and really liked what we had done.
Back in the loft, it was just me and God watching the first part of the second service. I was overcome. I had seen God use the children’s choir to worship in sign language, I had seen a problem arise and God to solve it, I had seen grateful nursery workers thanking me for what we had done and I realized that I was right where God needed me to be today. He used me in a great way today so that others could be part of the Easter service.
I didnt think the day could get any better and I was SO wrong…
I shut down the Mac, closed the loft and went into the sanctuary for the children’s choir again. Once again it was unbelievably powerful. As the song ended, the adult choir ended the song signing along with the kids. That was it, I lost it. God showed Himself today in a HUGE and MIGHTY way….and He let me be a small part of it!

Dear God, today we remember the greatest day in all of mankind. The day you kept your promise and rose again on the third day. There were huge Easter services all over and yet you showed me Your presence at LMBC today. You put me in my element to worship You in the way I know best, using the skills and talents that You have given me. Thank you for what this day means.

Four words…

Growing up in Alabama, it was very hard to be a guy and not love NASCAR. After all, we had the Alabama Gang that was Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison, Neil Bonnett and Red Farmer. This group of drivers took NASCAR by storm and is still talked about today. I grew up a HUGE Bobby Allison fan and when his son Davey came on to the scene, that just added fuel to the fire.

One thing you always heard before a race, and still hear today, are what is called the greatest four words in sports…

“Gentlemen, start your engines!” About this time, 40 or more drivers press the start button and the cars come to life. The cars all brightly painted with sponsors logos, drivers signatures over the windows all head out on to the track for hours of driving at near 200 MPH at some tracks.

Recently, I have had to get to know a different 4 words. These words, although not as exciting immediately, may bring about incredible results later on. They are not easy words to accept nor are they easy words to say with whole hearted support behind them.  Being the selfish person that I am, at first, sometimes I just dont like saying them. To say them, you are giving up your desires for anothers.

Those words are……”Your will be done.”

Sure we say them during our prayers but have you ever truly thought about what those words mean? It’s not what I want but what God wants. When it goes against what we want, do we really mean it when we say “Your will be done?”  And when the results are what God wanted and not what we wanted, are we really ok with it?

For the first time in a very long time, I can honestly say I know where God is leading me. I know the destination, and I know He will be with me on the journey, but the path from point A to point B is not clear. In the past few weeks, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel and I could see what I believed to be the way to get me there.  Then, the road I was on, took a turn away from that light. Sure I still know the destinati0n but once again, the way to get there is unknown.  It even feels like the train hasn’t left the station.

Am I ok with this? Not in the least. After all the Bible says:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” – Matthew 7:7-8

I’ve asked, I’ve prayer, I’ve been patient…..and yet, nothing. I don’t doubt where God is leading me and Steph (we are a package deal, where I go, she goes and where she goes, I go) I just dont know what He is planning. And today, I’ve realized that it doesn’t matter.

“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:11-13

So yes, I will still knock and expect the door to be opened. I will still ask and still expect to receive. It’s just that I live in a Burger King world. I want it my way right way and that is not of God.  Me being patient is something that I am still learning and will probably always be learning, but I’ve realized that its time to take my own advise that I have said to others. Do what is for the greater good of the will of God. Look for His plans, not our own.

Dear God, this has been a tremendously difficult week and I have let you down. Once again, I put my own desires and plans ahead of Yours. I prayed for everything that I wanted and not what You want for me. I was headed in the direction that I thought to be the way you wanted but now I see it was the way I wanted. Thank you for protecting me from going down the wrong path and lead me to where You want me.

“Your will be done!”