I’m asking myself the rhetorical question what IS praise in my life? And the more important follow up question, what am I doing to make sure that I praise everyday….every way!

First and foremost praise is worship! The two are so tightly joined, I would describe it as worship’s DNA.  It’s our natural response to beauty.  It’s our love in motion…in expression.  I believe God wired us to do this, and whole-heartedly through our passions. Praise is not meant to be a laborious task…it is a natural response to our Father who we love! It’s not a music genre…it’s not a format…it’s not a formula.

So in my world, the way I praise God is: writing, music, serving my wife, proclamation, ministry, meditating, encouraging people, creative design, marketing…and the list would go on and on and on. My praise shouldn’t be filtered to just the 1st day of-the week…nor should it come to a climax on that day.

What if I made an effort to full-on praise everyday…in all the ways listed, for the rest of the year? What if I made an intentional effort to draw so close to God that my natural demeanor was praise to Him? What would my family, my job, my friends, my relatives , my small group, my ministry, my world look like by Dec. 31st.?

God I pray for opportunity, power from the Spirit, and guidance to rise to this challenge. Help me get beyond words on this blog! How are you praising this week? How can you raise it to the next level?

Breathe In & Smile Out,
Chris

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I love being a Dad for a lot of reasons. This is one of my top ones, capturing spontaneous moments where my kids speak truth in the most funny & adorable way:

The context is even funnier…on the heels of talking through choices and consequences with my 6 year old Ethan…lil Sydney-Boo wanted to reassure me of where she stood in that process….classic moments that will be remembered for a lifetime.

Don’t take life too seriously….enjoy every moment with your family….pour love into everyday…and please Make The Right Chechisions!

Breathe In & Smile Out,
Chris

I love the power of parables…especially when they paint a picture of our Father God.  This story below is from “Parables for Personal Growth-Tales for Your Healing” Journey by Melinda Reinicke, published by Recovery Publications, Inc. 1993

My good friend, mentor, brother in Christ, and spiritual Father…Robert Brenner sent this over to me.  It’s a little longer than most of my blogs…but a great read.  Here is the author’s, Melinda, intro to the parable:

“You may be a new traveler, only recently having discovered the road to wholeness. You are eager to learn what is ahead and how to get there. Others of you may be seasoned travelers, but would appreciate some encouragement on the long trek. It is, after all, a never-ending journey. The longer we travel the stronger our injured souls become, the fewer pitfalls we stumble into, the more beauty we notice around us. May this parable help you enjoy your own wondrous sojourn.” Melinda Reinicke

The Dragon and the Prince

Everyone has a story. Each of our stories is unique, but the wisdom we have learned along the healing path is helpful for other sojourners. Jesus said, If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and “the truth will free you” John 8:32, The Message. If you share your freedom with others, your own healing path will become freer and brighter.

In a mythical realm not far from your own inner struggles, enters the Prince and his fellow sojourners…
There was once a great and noble King whose land was terrorized by a crafty dragon. Like a massive bird of prey the scaly beast delighted in ravaging villages with his fiery breath. Hapless victims ran from their burning homes only to be snatched into the dragons jaws or talons. Those devoured instantly were deemed more fortunate than those carried back to the dragon’s lair to be devoured at his leisure.

The King led his sons and knights in many valiant battles against the serpent. Each time they wounded the dragon, and he retreated to his hidden lair deep in the mountains. While he healed, the kingdom would be at peace for a time. “Take courage,” the King told his people. “One day the dragon will be slain.”
Riding alone in the forest during a period of calm, one of the King’s sons heard his name purred low and soft. In the shadows of the ferns and trees, curled among the boulders, lay the dragon. The creature’s heavy-lidded eyes fastened on the prince, and the reptilian mouth stretched into a friendly smile.

“Don’t be alarmed,” said the dragon as gray wisps of smoke rose lazily from his nostrils. “I am not what your father thinks.”

“What are you, then?” asked the prince, warily drawing his sword as he pulled in the reins to keep his fearful horse from bolting.

“I am pleasure,” said the dragon. “Ride on my back and you will experience more than you ever imagined. Come now. I have no harmful intentions. I seek a friend, someone to share flights with me. Have you never dreamed of flying? Never longed to soar in the clouds?” The sunlight glistened with an iridescent sheen on the dragon’s metallic green scales. “Bring your sword for security if you wish, but I give my word no harm will come to you.”

Visions of soaring high above the forested hills drew the prince hesitantly from his horse. The dragon unfurled one great webbed wing to serve as a ramp to his ridged back. Between the spiny projections, the prince found a secure seat. Then the creature snapped his powerful wings twice and launched them into the sky. Once aloft the dragon wafted effortlessly on the wind streams. The prince’s apprehension melted into awe and exhilaration.

From then on, he met the dragon often, but secretly, for how could he tell his father; brother’s, or the knights that he had befriended the enemy? The prince felt separate from them all. Their concerns were no longer his concerns. Even when he wasn’t with the dragon he spent less time with those he loved and more time alone.

The skin on the prince’s legs became calloused from gripping the ridged back of the dragon, and his hands grew rough and hardened. He began wearing gloves to hide the malady. After many nights of riding, he discovered scales growing on the backs of his hands as well. With dread he realized his fate were he to continue, and so he resolved to return no more to the dragon.

But, after a fortnight, he again sought out the dragon, having been tortured with desire. And so it transpired many times over. No matter what his determination, the prince eventually found himself pulled back, as if by the cords of an invisible web. Silently, patiently, the dragon always waited.

One cold, moonless night their excursion became a foray against a sleeping village. Torching the thatched roofs with fiery blasts from his nostrils, the dragon roared with delight when terrified victims fled from their burning homes. Swooping in, the serpent belched again and flames engulfed a cluster of screaming villagers. The prince closed his eyes tightly in an attempt to shut out the carnage, but the agonized cries and smell of burning flesh assailed him. The dragon’s long neck snaked and spasmed as he crunched bone and devoured his roasted prey. The prince retched and clung miserably to his spiny perch.

In the predawn hours, when the prince crept back from his dragon trysts, the road outside his father’s castle usually remained empty. But, not tonight. Terrified refugees streamed into the protective walls of the castle. The prince walked among bedraggled women carrying wailing children with gashes from the dragon’s talons. Some victims, too badly wounded or burned to walk, were brought in carts or dragged on makeshift pallets.

The prince’s heart was torn. Their pain brought tears to his eyes and shame to his soul. “What have I become?” he asked himself. At that moment, he wanted even more desperately to be free of the dragon. Perhaps his father, in all his wisdom, could help. But the prince feared that the truth would make him abhorrent in his father’s sight. Surely he would be disowned, exiled, or perhaps even condemned to death.

The castle bustled with frantic activity as people rushed about to care for the refugees that thronged in the courtyard. The prince attempted to slip through the crowd to close himself in his chambers, but some of the survivors stared and pointed toward him.

“He was there,” one woman cried out, “I saw him on the back of the dragon.” Others nodded their heads in angry agreement. Horrified, the prince saw that his father, the King, was in the courtyard holding a bleeding child in his arms. The King’s face mirrored the agony of his people as his eyes found the prince’s. The son fled, hoping to escape into the night, but the guards apprehended him as if he were a common thief. They brought him to the great hall where his father sat solemnly on the throne. The people on every side railed against the prince.

“Banish him!” he heard one of his own brothers angrily cry out.
“Flay him!”
“Burn him alive!” other voices shouted.

As the King rose from his throne, bloodstains from the wounded shone darkly on his royal robes. The crowd fell silent in expectation of his decree. The prince, who could not bear to look into his father’s face, stared at the flagstones of the floor.

“Take off your gloves and your tunic,” the King commanded. The prince obeyed slowly, dreading to have his metamorphosis uncovered before the kingdom. Was his shame not already great enough? He had hoped for a quick death without further humiliation. Sounds of revulsion rippled through the crowd at the sight of the prince’s thick, scaled skin and the ridge growing along his spine.

The King strode toward his son and the prince steeled himself, fully expecting a back-handed blow even though he had never been struck so by his father. Instead, his father embraced him and wept as he held him tightly. In shocked disbelief, the prince buried his face against his father’s shoulder.

“Do you wish to be freed of the dragon, my son?”

The prince answered in despair, “I have wished it many times, but there is no hope for me.”

“Not alone,” said the King, “You cannot win against the serpent alone.”

“Father, I am no longer your son, I am half beast,” sobbed the prince.

But his father replied, “My blood runs in your veins. My nobility has always been stamped deep within your soul. Nothing can take that from you.”

With his face still hidden tearfully in his father’s embrace, the prince heard the King instruct the crowd, “The dragon is crafty. Some fall victim to his wiles and some to his violence. There will be mercy for all who wish to be freed. Who else among you has ridden the dragon?”

The prince lifted his head to see someone emerge from the crowd. To his amazement, he recognized an older brother; one who had been lauded throughout the kingdom for his onslaughts against the dragon in battle and for his many good deeds. Others came, some weeping, others hanging their heads in shame. The sister who was known for her beautiful singing came, tearfully removing her slippers to reveal spiked scales on her feet.

The King embraced them all.
“This is our most powerful weapon against the dragon,” he announced. “Truth. No more hidden flights. Alone you cannot resist him. Together you will prevail, for you draw strength from one another. Those of you, who think yourselves immune to the serpent’s wiles, beware lest you be the next to fall. Those ensnared, you must desire freedom more than the dragon’s flight. The struggle will be long and fierce. Over time, you will choose more often against the dragon than for him until you finally go to him no more.”

“Will the scales then be gone as well?” asked the sister, looking at her bared feet.
“No, my child,” the King answered gently. “But, in time, they will fade. And one day, when the dragon is finally slain, all traces of the scales will disappear.”

“Death to the dragon!” someone yelled from the crowd, and a great cheer rose up in chorus, “Death to the dragon! Long live the King!”

Breathe In & Smile Out,
Chris

Princess Sydney Boo

It was one year ago today that I wrote this post.  It seems like it was a decade ago because since then we have celebrated life with my little princess every chance we had.  It’s always good to remember what God has pulled you through.  Where His touch was undeniable.  This is one of those moments.  Today I reflect on all the emotions of that day, and celebrate the life that I will pick up and hug in just a few minutes.

So, without further a’ dieu…here is an encore post (it originally was on my old blog site) from one year ago today when life came to a screeching pause and hung in the balance for some long minutes.

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I’ve always liked Sting and a the musical works he’s pumped out over the years. From The Police on through to his solo albums. One song that has resonated with me is the music video above “Fragile.” Tonight that song took on a whole new perspective for me…one that will remain for life.

The last thing you think about as you’re corralling your 5 year old off the t-ball practice field is the fragility of life. Tonight that changed. I turned from the baseball field to find my 2 year old daughter underneath the bleachers with a crowd around her. Her life came to a screeching stop when she fell off the bleachers to the hard ground below. As she lie there stiff and unconscious, I started to see how fragile we are.

It’s crazy how seconds feel like minutes in those moments. When it feels like life and death are balancing before you, that is when the world turns slower. When you look down at your own child and see life slipping away…that is when you feel the weight of the moment…that is when you realize how fragile we are.

The last thing I thought I would do tonight was give my daughter mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. It never crossed my mind that I would be desperately listening to her little chest for a heart beat and checking to see if she could breathe. The older they get, the more kids you have, the more you forget how fragile we are.

I can’t express the relief I felt when that first breath was taken…that first little cough…that first sign of life coming back. We weren’t out of the darkness yet, but it brought hope. As I scooped her up and sped off with Wendy to the hospital I lost my stomach and heart every time I looked over to see my lil Sydney-Boo’s eyes roll back in her head. I couldn’t drive fast enough…I couldn’t do anything but watch the minutes tick and realize how fragile we are.

Tonight could have ended in so many ways. Tonight could have been a beginning of a nightmare. Tonight could have ended with bad news from x-rays and CT scans. But tonight became a reminder of how much I have to be thankful for…lest I forget how fragile we are.

Breathe In & Smile Out,
Chris

I love everything about the digital age we live in! I love the speed of technology growth.  I love the disruptive digital technologies that have turned industries upside down…and some right side up.  I love the hope that comes when the playing field gets leveled and democratization scares the crap out of the gatekeepers.

Check out the site for the film here.  If you’re at SXSW this Saturday you can see the screen debut.  For everyone else peep some fresh behind the scenes footage here.

Breathe In & Smile Out,
Chris

In case you’re wondering, it looks like Love still Wins…by about 2.8 billion

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(Based on Google search results)

Breathe In & Smile Out,

Chris

 

Throwing a “Bowlin'” shout out to all my peeps at Catalyst West….wish I was there with our Integrity Music crew John Mark McMillan, Carlos Whittaker, and Sons & Daughters.

Here’s a blast from the Catalyst East past last year.  True story, I sat next to Louie Giglio when they rolled this out there, both cracked up at the response.  Tripp and Tyler are hilarious!!

Breathe In & Smile Out,
Chris

It seems like the last few weeks I have been surrounded by biblical teachings around names and their importance.  It’s been one of those wow moments when God keeps painting the truth in different pictures in my life.  From a Chapel service at Integrity Music, to a book (Soulprint) by Mark Batterson, to a podcast from Pastor Jack Hester from The People of Mars Hill Church….I’ve been on this journey of what weight a name has on our lives.

Many times the meaning of our name becomes our battle ground, as our label president Sam Chappell pointed out in the Integrity Chapel service a few weeks ago.  Batterson proclaims the truth of Revelation 2:17 where ultimately God has a special name for us to receive in heaven on unique white stones.  It will be a new name, intended only for us.

The most recent teaching I had on names really blew me away.  Pastor Jack took his congregation on a 1 year journey through the book of Genesis about a year ago.  He pulled out some great truth in the genealogy of Adam.  I have to admit, when it comes to the begats…I tend to tune out.  So, chapter five of Genesis would normally be a “tune out” moment for me….until I heard the meaning behind the names.  Given the previous weeks, this one perked my interest.

Here are the Hebrew meanings behind the names of Adam’s lineage to Noah.  Note, Cain is left out because after his curse there is no lineage captured.  Seth is then born and Eve proclaims he is the replacement for Able.  So, here goes…the translations of the names in Adam’s lineage:

Adam = man
Seth = appointed
Enosh = subject to death
Kenan = sorrowful
Mahalale = from the presence of God
Jared = one comes down
Enoch = dedicated
Methuselah = dying he shall send
Lamech = to the poor and lonely
Noah = rest and comfort

Now here comes the kicker.  When you put these names in their chronological order, you get this sentence:

“Man appointed, subject to death, sorrowful. From the presence of God, one comes down, dedicated. Dying he shall send to the poor and lonely, rest and comfort”

Your name matters.  What God has called you to fulfill, matters.  He is always in control, and always has a plan for salvation.  I encourage you to download the podcast (click here) and listen to Pastor Jack’s perspective on the picture of grace illustrated in this lineage down to Methuselah (who died in the same year the flood came).  Pray this week and seek God to show you what your namesake is in His kingdom…for that should become your legacy!

Breathe In & Smile Out,
Chris

I was reminded tonight of true love…what I call “love unfiltered.”  Which, I guess is appropriate coming off of the celebrated “love” day we call Valentines.  The even funnier, and ironic, Valentine’s story is I had my first heart doctor visit on Valentine’s day.  This actually leads right into the story behind today’s blog post.

After my Valentine’s day heart visit, the doctor saw some “areas of concern” and wanted me back for a nuclear stress test today.  BTW, am I the only one who finds the word nuclear a little stressful in and of itself? They poked, probed, tested, and poked again today.  Part of the test, the nuclear part, was to inject me with radiation.  Again, a little “stressful” to take an injection that carries the warning of “no physical contact with kids 18 and under for 24 hours” after the test.

So, tonight was a different kind of night with the family.  Tonight I was reminded of how many times I would normally hug, kiss, hold, and just be within 8 feet of my kids.  That’s beyond just a little weird for a Dad who has the routine of bath time, story time, prayer time, and snuggle time every night.  The kids were immediately aware of this weird predicament when they couldn’t hug Daddy upon entering the house.

I got to see tonight how true love is unfiltered.  It doesn’t care about what the doctor says.  It doesn’t need to earn it’s way into your arms.  True love just wants to be close to you.  It doesn’t want any filters between you.  True love wants to feel your touch…even if it’s just a hi-five.  True love will inch it’s way into your bedroom with a “I Love You” frog balloon as a protective layer…so it can be closer.  Love unfiltered will ask you 100 times, “is this 8 feet away Daddy?”

Don’t take life for granted.  Don’t take your loved ones for granted.  Hug, kiss, hold, and stay as close as you can…that’s love unfiltered!

Breathe In & Smile Out,

Chris

P.S.

FYI, I am fine…the heart stress test results showed I have pericarditis (which is medical talk for, “it may feel like a heart attack, but you’re just inflamed”) . A little anti-inflammatory meds and I should be as good as new!

I have about 10 things I need to hurdle like my man in this video!  Great piece art, all the way around.  Love the heartbeat and message behind the fresh images with spoken word. Check out the HQ version at – http://vimeo.com/19302305

Now go read the inspiring verses, inspired by two verses from Scripture – 2 Samuel 22:20 & Psalm 46:10. Great new perspective.  Enjoy the silent transistions.

Breathe In & Smile Out,

Chris

Life In 140 Charecters

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