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The Story Goes On!

An ongoing series of musings from our Artistic Director

The first step isn't always the scariest!

April 25th, 2018

Spring is finally HERE in MN. It has been a long winter, and finally we can wear shorts and be outside without the fear of frostbite! It's weird to think though, that even though we are celebrating the change of weather, that May is literally right around the corner. These seasons just keep rolling past, time flies and there is nothing we can do to alter that fact.

I am reminded in these changes of season happening all around me, of the dramatic changes that have been happening in my own life. With the birth of our youngest daughter over a year ago, our eldest daughter turns 10 in just a few weeks and we are due for baby #3 in Oct. It's scary, even for an adult. Looking back on this past year, I think about the seasons of my life, how they have evolved and changed and shaped me into the person that I am today. 

The seasons in our lives continue rolling. Like the changing weather, we go through immensely dark periods, times of joy and bliss and times of reverence and internal study, and we come out the end a different person that when we went in. It is through these challenges and changes in our life that we can really allow ourselves to grow and be shaped into the person God wants us to be!

Scripture tells us of many great storms in life. But the one that I seem to be connecting to lately is one found in the book of Matthew. In it, we find the Disciples on the open water when a storm whips up, in desperation they begin looking around and who do they see OUTSIDE THE BOAT?? But Jesus. There is he, standing out on the open water, and what does Peter do? He hops out! Good for him! His faith carries him out of the boat and he walks to Christ! End of story right? Isn't that what we hope for? That he took a risk and it paid off BIG TIME? Well.....that's not exactly the case.

You see, he takes that first step, the scary one, the one that got him out of the boat and he started walking, and walking, and walking, and he about got there...until he realized the storm around him! What happened next??? HE SANK! It isn't until Jesus reaches out and saves him that he can breathe a sigh of relief. You would think the first thing out of Jesus mouth would be "Boy I sure am glad you're alright" or "atta boy for taking a chance,'" but again, in traditional Jesus fashion he turns it into a moment we wouldn't expect. The FIRST thing Christ says after saving Peters life is..."Why did you doubt?" It's Jesus saying, "Bro, I've got you, and yet you still don't believe!" And than they get on the boat and poof, the winds subside.

Isn't that such an image of our lives? We are challenged in areas such as friendships, relationships, school, work and life and we say, you know what...I've got this. We jump out of the boat, we take the step and work on making that initial change. Yet as we walk father away from the boat, we walk deeper into the storm, we lose sight of Christ, even when he is standing RIGHT IN FRONT OF US!

We need to continue trusting and having faith that Christ will carry us. Jesus Christ died on the cross so we can step out of the boat, we can take a risk, we can tackle life. The fact that Peter got shaken is human. We ALL do it! But we need to remember, each and every day, that no matter where we are, or what we have come from, that Jesus will ALWAYS reach down if we are sinking, pull us up, and calm the winds of our lives.

Sounds Like Love: 35yrs of blessings and COUNTING!

April 30th, 2018

I am writing this, sitting in my living room, drinking a cup of coffee. The dogs are wrestling on the floor (occasionally using the couch to get the higher ground) and I have the DVD from last years SLL 35 playing. It's a good morning, we are getting ready for a meeting later tonight and I am just finalizing some work on my end. I find myself though stopping throughout my work and just watching the video, sometimes just finding myself lost in the moment of last years program, while the chaos of life swirls around me. Why? What makes Sounds Like Love so special? Why do I, years after a program, find myself coming back again and again, and am immediately drawn right back to it, as if it were the weekend and I was back singing and dancing alongside other people from all across the country?

This has been the great mystery. What is the lightning in the bottle that we try and catch/replicated year after year? Is it the choreography? Is it the music selection? Is it the demographic of youth we draw? Why can't life be SIMPLE!?! Why can't a big arrow just be pointing to the answer, or in big neon lights we just see LOOK HERE above the correct answer.

Well I think I have pinpointed the answer. And that answer is....drumroll please.....none of those things. I don't believe that Sounds Like Love is defined by any ONE thing. When people asked me when I was a Youth in the choir, I would always say things like "Oh well the music is always AMAZING" or "The band is killer this year." However, as I have aged and am now looking at it from the outside, I see it for so much more than just one definable piece. Sounds Like Love is more than that, SLL is a movement.

We live in a world that thrives on definition and identity. If we can not see of touch it, if there isn't a traceable piece left behind, than it doesn't exist, or it isn't worth spending energy on. It is because of this viewpoint that secular scholars sometimes scoff at the idea of a greater being, of the work of God in the world. Well we don't SEE him, so he must not exist. Well we don't HEAR him, so why should I bother??

God however looks at all of that and says, you aren't looking at the right places. Or, you aren't listening closely enough. The love of God is ALL AROUND us, and yet can not be labeled. God can't not be put into a box that says, "God: Creator of the Universe, Master of all things, Knows Every Hair on Your Head" it just isn't that SIMPLE! God, through his son Jesus Christ tells us, boldly that the separation between man and God is no more, that through the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary that humanity has a relationship with the one who created us. That sometimes we don't need to always be the only ones talking, but to stop and listen to what God is telling us to do. 

This idea, pertains to ministry as well. Sounds Like Love has been built on blessings. By staff and volunteers, by over 30,000 youth, by musicians and host homes, laborers and speakers. The number of people impacted by the ministry of SLL is crazy! And it isn't be the Tee Shirts are Poppin' or we do Double Dream Hands 2 times instead of one...its because the message. The message that the love of God is infinite and poured out to us. That the blessings that flow forth from the cross overcomes any mortal thing we may have in this life. 

As we are looking forward to this upcoming year of Sounds Like Love, I must tell myself to step back. While the details will get sorted out, while the music will be AMAZING, that it is the ministry of Sounds Like Love that truly shines. It is because we all come together as one worshiping body, glorifying the risen Christ that we are able to celebrate and show our faith. So I say, let the blessings flow, dance like no one is watching, sing at the top of your lungs! Sounds Like Love is coming back, with a new coat of paint, but the heartbeat will Continue to reach the hearts and minds or youth from around the nation, in the Name of Jesus Christ.

Plug into the LOVE of Jesus

May 21st, 2018

WOW! What an amazing weekend. Sounds Like Love attended the HUGE Pulse event that took place at the US Bank Stadium this past Friday night. All we can say is...WOW! Over 55,000 people in attendance, over 7,000 people committing or recommitting their lives to Jesus and a worship celebration like no other! It was an impactful worship experience that took the community by STORM! But now, the people have left the stadium, the artists have gone back home, the lights and sound equipment put back into storage, and I find myself what?

We were in attendance of one of the largest, evangelism events of a generation, and now it's done. So now what? This is the question I keep finding myself coming back to time and time again. We had this extraordinary experience and now we are right back into the dregs of life. The darkness, and brokenness that fills this world, the hate between brothers and a world that has turned its back on the cross. So now what? What was even the point of Pulse? Well, the answer to that question can be summed up in one word....Love. The point of Pulse, to me, is simply show the world that Jesus still loves us, so much, and that will never change. 

Jesus was a man who, more often than not, surprised people. He was the guy who ate with the broken members of society, who made equal brothers and sisters whom society has discarded...and he didn't care what people thought. Even on the cross, the man on either side of him, WHO WAS AN ACTUAL CRIMINAL may I remind you...A man who, by all social constructs deserved his punishment, got saved. Even in his last moments on this earth, when he was dying a criminals death, with a crown of thorns on his head, having been beaten to inches of his life, Jesus was still surprising all of humanity. He reached out past the cross and brought a man who needed a savior, in the last moments of an unbearable journey, into the arms of a savior who loved him. Jesus was sharing Grace up until his last breath, and when he spoke his last words "It is Finished," the great curtain that separated God from humanity was torn, split...there was nowhere to hide, Jesus conquered death, in the name of Love. 

So what do we do now? Well friends, the answer is simple...we Love as Jesus loved. We share grace each and every day and plug into the goodness that comes from the love of a savior who died FOR YOU. I encourage you, on your journey, don't lose heart. It is really tough, the world is a dark place. But because of the love of Jesus Christ, you can wake up and make a difference. Pulse proved that this past weekend. It showed the world what happens when people show up in the love of Christ. It showed us that the world will never be the same again.

Change is Hard, Love is even harder!

May 28th, 2018

Time flies doesn't it! We are already coming into the 2nd week of Pentecost and the seasons are a changing! We live in a world of change, both good and bad. The world around us is consistently evolving to fit the latest trends and inundating us with the message that who we are, right now, isn't enough, and that we need to change. It's HARD! Trust me, as the dad of two daughters, one who is 10 and the other who is 1 1/2, change is tough. I never thought at 29yrs old I would be doing the dad thing, the house in the suburbs and wrangling kids between school and gymnastics and all the other activities that come along with that. Yet here I am. I fell in love with an amazing woman and we decided to create that change in our lives. Guess what though...its HARD! Changing in routine, in life throws us for a loop and frustrates us! It makes it so we say things we don't mean, or worry about things we wouldn't normally worry about and stress out. People do or say things that throws us for a loop and it makes us ANGRY! And yet, when we look at scripture, Jesus himself tells us to love our enemies. 

How annoying is that! Here is the Son of God looking right at us and saying..."Chill Out." Even in the garden, right before he was arrested, Jesus was showing us this Grace and love in the midst of change. Here we have Christ, surrounded by all of his close friends who...ALL FALL ASLEEP and leave him completely alone, until a blood thirsty mob shows up and we think, oh boy! Here is where it's gonna get good! The Angels are gonna come riding in and save the day, but nope, that isn't how the situation ends. Down comes the sword, off comes the ear and Jesus, just tells everyone to take a step back and chill. He heals the man who is about to take him to be executed and openly chastised his friends for not having faith and acting upon their fear of change. The disciples were scared of this change. You see, Jesus had been saying for 3yrs that change was coming, that his death would change EVERYTHING, and yet here we find the men who are supposed to be the most devout, afraid of the change that is about to come and acting on instinct. 

So how do we react to the changes in our lives? Do we react and strike out, publicly making a scene? Or do we step back, take in the new and love like Jesus. You see Jesus was the ultimate change in the world. Jesus whole purpose, was to be the CHANGE that we needed. Jesus, as the Son of God was the gift to use, thousands of years in the making.  We went from being a broken people to a people saved by Grace, through the blood of Jesus. Through one act of selfless love, Jesus went on to change everything! The world will never be the same because of the gift that he gave us that day on the cross. 

So while friendships change, relationships change, work environment changes, heck even ministries change and evolve. How we reach into the people as a church is different than even 20yrs ago, and this is all hard. Its frustrating and, at times, overwhelming. Yet we need to keep looking forward, to the otherside of the change and imagine what is the outcome. Where is God looking to take us through this change in our life? How will it better us in the long run and how can we use every opportunity to minister the gift of change in Jesus Christ, the gift that changed everything.