I’m reluctant to write this post, since I feel tremendous guilt for sharing what I’m about to share. Nonetheless, here goes… our missions team went to the beach today.

That means I don’t have a great story about the orphans, nor can I tell you what I helped build, clean or fix today. I wish I did – because I know that many people who are reading this worked hard today. I tend to work hard most days, too.

20140320_142943But today… today I walked around on a beach with dark sand made from the lava-based mountains foundation nearby. I ate locally-seasoned shrimp, experienced drinking coconut juice right out of a coconut and I put my feet up in a hammock. I walked the shore and picked up seashells with my 13-year old son.

A “siesta’ is typically a short nap taken that people in warm countries take after the a midday meal. It just so happened that our siesta embodied most of the day.

Again, I apologies if this creates any ill feelings on your part.

I have been in seasons of life where reading something right this would have made me want to bark back in bitterness, “Boy, that must be nice. I am nowhere near that experience.” I get it, I really do. Most days I’m off trying to juggle plates, chainsaws, bowling balls and more, too.

Today, though… I experienced sabbath and rest.

I live at a pace that is always cranking out the next thing. Even now, I’m putting off going to bed just a little while longer to write this. It can become easy to be a “human doing” versus a “human being.”

So today… I was a human being.

It gave me time to simply slow down my thinking and remember that the universe runs on God’s energy and not my own.

(Maybe you need that reminder, too)

There are real issues still in my life that need my attention. In fact, tonight my wife sent me a brief news update about a shooting in our hometown that happened today. It was at a location that she could have been at had the plans she made turned out according to her timetable. Instead, God allowed some circumstances to slow her day down and prevent her from being there.

1911841_10152263063296460_1068908084_nI wonder what will happen in me tomorrow because I slowed down today.

  • Will I love the orphans a little more genuinely?
  • Will I swing the hammer a little harder?
  • Will I push a kid on a swing a little longer?
  • Will I learn a story a little more attentively?


Where can you build some into your life? It’s easy to swing too hard one way on this… either valuing rest (and even time with family) so much that you never get to the to what matters more… or working so hard that you never get around to Sabbath.

Maybe it won’t involve a beach or a hammock, but maybe it will involve being still and doing nothing right about now, and remembering God is God.

“So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:28)


Words create worlds.What you say has the power to mentally transport someone from where they are to where they could or should be.

Ironically, worlds also create words.

As I mentioned yesterday, our team met a couple of women in the afternoon who each had a unique story to tell. On the way to visit one of them, the tune “Lifesong” by Casting Crowns came on the radio. Our driver/host Levi likes to play worship music as we travel, whether it’s in English or Spanish. My toe was tapping along while I lightly sang along to the song.

When I say “lightly sang along,” I think you know what I mean. That’s means, “If I was alone, I’d really be singing out. Since I’m among random people, I won’t break social etiquette.” I once sat in front of a guy on a plane who sang opera music… the whole plane ride… but I digress.

After the truck stopped and we got out to meet the woman, I learned her story – from her fight with cancer, to the four young children she wonders about in terms of who will care for them if she dies. When we piled back into the vehicle and “Lifesong” continued playing, I got a whole new meaning out of it.


And so this afternoon… I sang worship songs in a prison.

We visited with several women who were in for crimes they were accused of or committed. I don’t have any pictures to share since the security didn’t allow for it.

What I can do is try to offer some words to create a world, and a world to create some words.

Imagine yourself standing in a jail cell door today as I did.

All around you are prisoners. They may not look like it, since they don’t resemble the actors from movies nor even have on the same colored jumpsuits. They look like mothers… sisters… wives… neighbors. They’re dressed in casual clothing.

But they’re all prisoners.

If you’re honest, you relate to this. There are things in your life that you have felt a prisoner to.

Urges. Pride. Lies. Addiction. Sin.

So there you are, standing in the middle of a jail cell that leads into a corridor of incarcerated community… and someone with a guitar begins to sing the Spanish version of songs you know well.

And you think, “I’ve sung worship songs in so many different environments… but never with the honesty of a prisoner.”

You begin claiming God’s grace in your life.

Open the eyes of my heart… I want to see You…”

Your grace is enough… Your grace is enough… Your grace is enough… for me…”

“I see his love and mercy… washing over all our sin.. the people sing… the people sing… Hosanna…”

“…I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the ways that He loves us…”

Have you ever sang worship songs in a prison?

Talk about a visual aid.

Words create worlds. Worlds create words.

I’m feeling quite broken over that right about now. Want to make sure that lasts.

May my lifesong sing to You.


My friend Shawn Harrison and I have been tackling what we see as the “Elephants In The Youth Room.”  We had planned on only really putting out four posts on the issue, however, we have been surprised at the traction they have gained. Especially with the conversations from, “The Great Game Debate,” I thought there was one more topic I needed to address.

Last week I had an interesting conversation with my 14-year-old daughter. I asked her, “If you were to set up programming for a youth group, what would it look like?”  

She said she would nix games, although she might have an opening activity or object lesson to draw everyone in. There would be a “worship time,” followed by preaching, and then small groups.

Then I asked her why she would set it up like this. “Well you know I love to connect to God through singing, so that’s why I would have an opening worship time. I also think it helps quiet our hearts.” She went on, “For us introverts, preaching is a good thing. We can listen and learn. We don’t really have to interact with anyone. Then small groups is where we get to ask questions and really go deep.”

Then she sat and thought for a second. (I thought we were going to change topics.)  “You know now that I think about it, the worship time really depends on whether or not there is a decent worship team that works.  If it’s just some guy with a guitar who can’t sing, then that’s just distracting and awkward.”  

We dove into this for a few moments. She has tried a number of youth programs in addition to the ones I run. It gives her a chance to experience a setting beyond where her parents are the leaders and gives her the chance to “just go to youth group.”

As she thought about the different places she has tried, attended at the invite of a friend or even participated in she noted something,“It’s like there is a formula for how you do youth group, and you know it doesn’t seem to work for everyone.”  There were people who weren’t great at preaching, and it lost her attention. Perhaps, that’s just a personality issue.

However, she had attended a couple of groups where the “worship time” was just plain painful. She posed the question, “If it doesn’t work for a group, Do we have to sing?” One guy sang alone and was always off key. In another group, they played musical tracks and that felt weird to her.

So here it is. Does there HAVE to be the “youth group” that includes a guitar and singing if you don’t have the capacity?  I think if you have a student run worship band or a leader who enjoys to offer this, it might be different. However, who decided that singing is what makes for great youth programming?

I think some students love it and others hate it. In my own home, my boy would love it if there were only small groups and that’s it.  Is it a way to include different types of kids, or do we offer it because “that’s what you do?”

Does it exclude our “unchurched” students as they have no clue what the song is or how to follow along, especially if there isn’t even a PowerPoint?

Could there be “seasons” in your ministry when you have no one to lead that you get rid of this time?

We call it “worship,” however, I think we all know that isn’t always what it is. Worship goes far beyond a time that includes music. If no one is actually “worshiping” during this time could/should you nix it?

Did you get rid of this time already? If yes, what do you do?

I think my daughter’s question is a valid one, “If it isn’t working,  Do we have to sing?”  A better question might be, “Do we have to follow the youth group formula at all?”

What do you think?



Hallelujah – A Gift for You

 —  December 30, 2013 — 1 Comment

christmas_hallelujahThe days of Christmas may be over, but the Story of Christmas never is.

There comes a day when we let God write new lyrics into our lives… and that day is when we literally become a brand new Hallelujah.

It can happen right now – literally, right now… yet again.

May this arrangement bless you… way before you think about how to turn it into a lesson for someone else.


Watch this short video…

This guy was trying to block the trajectory of the pass…and, well, you saw what happened.

Sometimes in life tough things come out of nowhere.  Completely unexpected things.

Life will slap you with no warning.

And, sometimes, the last thing we want to hear is “God has a plan for your life.”  As true as that may be, sometimes we have questions and/or doubts because of what we are going through that aren’t answered or addressed by that statement.

Here are 2 things I’ve learned keeps me grounded when facing unexpected trial/pain/etc:

  1. Ask for help remembering.  Jesus says the Holy Spirit will call to remembrance all he has taught (John 14:25).  Often in times of trial, we ask for answers that have never been revealed.  It’s not wrong to ask God for the “why’s” of our situations, but rarely do we get the answers we want in the timing we desire.  I’ve found that asking the Holy Spirit to remind me of what has already been revealed is a much more helpful way to go.  Trying to remain deeply committed to what we already know is most often the best way to make it through the ambiguity of pain.
  2. Remember what God has done.  In times of trial we go through a ton of different emotions…and sometimes all at once.  We can feel like God isn’t there or listening, we may question whether or not he is somehow angry with us.  Asaph deals with these same feelings in Psalm 77.  But in verse 10-11 he moves beyond his emotions and remembers the things God has done in the past.  This moves him to a place of worship even though his emotions are everywhere.  I’ve found this really helps keep me grounded.  I remember the things God has done throughout history, but also in my life and in the lives of those closest to me.  This helps me worship God rather than get angry or bitter at Him.

Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions for they become habits. Watch your habits for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny. -Frank Outlaw

When you wake up in the morning, what words are you speaking? Ugh, not another morning? I just want to sleep! I hate my job, I just want to quit. Why do I always have to be the one to Or are you speaking words that build you up? Today is the day that the Lord has made, this will be a wonderful day! My job is a blessing and I will make the best of it! I am thankful God always gives me the privilege of being the one to There is no doubt about it, words can either build you up or break you down. We know from last week’s blog Watch Your Thoughts, words begin with a thought. So how do you turn those thoughts into words?

Speak positively “ When the alarm that you have set to go off every couple of hours throughout the day goes off and you redirect your thoughts, make sure you tell someone what a lovely day it is or give someone a compliment. It will lift you and them UP!

Speak scripture “ When you read scripture from the post-its you have posted all around you or from the Bible app on your phone, read them out-loud! Let them sink into your spirit.

Sing a song of praise “ As the worship music is blasting, sing! Dance! It will take the focus off of you and your situation and place the focus on the almighty God who is alive and worthy to be praised!

Accountability “ When your friend calls in the middle of the day to see where your thoughts are, share words of encouragement and build each other up while you are at it!

Positive influence “ Your words become like the words of those you hang out with. Choose friends who choose their words wisely.

Words have a powerful impact either for the good or for the bad. When you watch your words, they have power to build your entire well-being up and that power will spread like wild fire to everyone and everything around you! Watch your words and be blessed!

Ashley Fordinal is the Children’s Church volunteer at Family Life Church in Sulphur Springs, TX.


Screen Shot 2013-05-08 at 12.05.14 AM

The David Crowder*Band delivered their final album more than a year ago – has it been that long already? They had 6 albums in total with like 12 kajillion songs sold. They’ve played every youth conference I know and are a staple in practically every youth room across the country. I’ve had the privilege of working a few events with Crowder and speaking at his Fantastical Conference in Austin a few years back, too. So fun!

Their latest album is the celebration of the past and a glimpse of the future. Crowder is going on a club tour this Spring and his first solo project is due this fall. Until then, we’ve got the All This For a King: The Essential Collection hitting iTunes the end of this month.

Let’s get the basics out of the way first – the album has all of the big hits you would expect. Even then I did find a new gem here and there I must have missed along the way. But the real wins come later in the album, with great remixes and an entirely new song from Crowder. Here’s some quick hits on the highlights for me:

SMS (Shine) – Big-time fans will be disappointing in me (sorry), but I’m not sure how I missed this song when it originally came out! Great message. Powerful.

Shine Your light so I can see You
Pull me up, I need to be near You
Hold me, I need to feel loved
Can You overcome this heart that’s overcome?

Shadows (Family Force 5 Phenomenon Remix) – Fun remix of a DCB classic. Hold your own dance party with it right now. Got some fun dubstep in it that will please the ears. The perfect track for this year’s summer camp highlight video.

After All (Holy) (Capital Kings Remix) – One of the band’s biggest hits – it was fun to see it completely remixed and still retaining the cheerful fun of the original. Absolutely loved this song!

This I Know – the only completely new track on the album and it is pure gold. Fun, folksy and completely singable. The good news is that the solo project expected from Crowder this fall is in good hands. It is different from the classic DCB but he already feels comfortable and This I Know became my favorite track after listening through the whole album a couple times.

All in all it remains the best collection of music from one of my favorite Christian bands of all time, a great set of remixes celebrating familiar tunes and a fun sneak peak at the Crowder of the future – and that’s a future I’m now very excited about. Click here to check out (or preorder) David Crowder Band’s All This for a King: The Essentials Collection today!



Pretty excited for our students (and maybe yours if you don’t live too far away)to participate in a 2-day Student Worship Conference here at Saddleback Church. Here’s a little bit from the website that just launched this week:

To be quite honest, this conference is probably similar to other worship conferences, however, this is geared specifically to students to truly build them and see a bigger picture of what it means to lead people to the throne of GOD. Even more, this Student Worship Conference is intended to help equip students with the basics of what worship is and what it means to be a musician and/or a vocalist in ministry. Many adults volunteers, youth pastors, worship leaders or pastors assume students are to already know what they need to know when it comes to leading worship through music. WRONG!!! No student knows what they are doing. For the most part, most adults do not even know what they are doing. We need to teach all students to become worship pastors and not just worship leaders, because anyone can lead worship (we will explain that more at the conference).

There will be lots of special guests, student bands and fun here at the Refinery at Saddleback. Get more details here, hope you will join us!